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80s Rom Coms: 8 of the Decade’s Most Swoon-Worthy Movies, Ranked!

From 'Pretty in Pink' to 'The Princess Bride' — where did your favorite fall on our list?


Romantic comedies have lit up our screens and our hearts since the invention of movies themselves — case in point, the feel-good Oscar-winning 1934 film, It Happened One Night could be considered one of the very first in the genre. And while the colloquial term “rom com” wasn’t coined until the 1990s, it was really the care-free, creative, coming-of-age movies of the 80s that laid the groundwork for the funny and heartwarming rom coms we love today.

Here we ranked our most beloved 80s rom coms — from magic and fantasy flicks to teen-angst and generation-defining films … let us know if you agree!

Top 80s rom coms, ranked

8. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Director John Hughes had a streak of iconic teen movies in the 80s and Some Kind of Wonderful kicks off our rom com list. The film explores themes of acceptance and being loved for who we are and focuses on a love triangle: Outcast Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), pretty and popular Amanda (Lea Thompson) and Keith (Eric Stoltz). After a “practice” kiss, Keith chooses his outcast bestie, Watts, over the more glamorous and popular girl. In the sweet ending, Keith runs down the street in the rain, and scoops up Watts into a passionate embrace. Really, is there anyone better to fall in love with than your best friend?

Watch it here on Hulu.

7. Splash (1984)

A man and a mermaid love story? Talk about complicated. But in our suspension of disbelief, the Splash romance between Allen (Tom Hanks) and mermaid Madison (Daryl Hannah) leads to hilarious situational comedy. (Click through for 27 rare photos of Tom Hanks from the 70s to today.)

Related: Daryl Hannah Young: A Look Back at the Blonde Beauty’s Most Iconic ’80s Roles

The movie has an element of full-circle as Madison rescued Allen as a young boy from drowning. He doesn’t remember it though, and he falls into the sea once more at the same location years later – and once again, Madison rescues him. Madison then searches for Allen in New York City, using maps from a sunken ship. The couple meet and fall in love, but Allen doesn’t know Madison’s secret mermaid identity until a big reveal later. (And you thought finding out your significant other had a secret child was a shock!)

Watch it here on Disney+ .

6. Say Anything (1989)

This 80s rom com starts at the tail end of high school, when the lead characters are graduating. In Say Anything, poor Lloyd (John Cusack), an average student and dreamer, has a crush on the unattainable valedictorian, Diane (Ione Skye). Diane is a straight-A beauty on her way to England for a post-graduation fellowship, and way out of the league of underachieving Lloyd.

Yet when he asks Diane out, surprisingly, she says yes! Diane’s protective father, though, is not happy about it and strongly disapproves of the romance. Meanwhile, the father, Jim (John Mahoney), turns out to be a scoundrel, and the underdog boy gets the high-class girl. The sentimental message of Say Anything seems to be “Go for it,” even if the odds aren’t likely the object of your affection will be interested.

Watch it here on Prime Video.

5. Mannequin (1987)

Like Splash, Mannequin features a romance that could never happen in real life: in this case, between a man, Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy), and a mannequin named Emmy (Kim Cattrall) that comes to life.

Along with the wonderful love song from the soundtrack, Jefferson Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” we get a wacky but sweet story about the artist who builds a mannequin and falls in love with it. Jonathan gets a job at the department store displaying his mannequin, and when they are alone, the mannequin morphs into a beautiful woman named Emmy, who was an ancient Egyptian princess. Jonathan’s friends think he’s gone nuts by romancing a dummy, but don’t we all act a little crazy when we fall in love?

(See here how Kim Cattrall reprised her role as Samantha Jones in Season 2 of the Sex and the City‘s revival series last August!)

Watch it here on Hulu.

4. Pretty in Pink (1986)

Another Hughes classic, Pretty in Pink – which has one of the best ‘80s movie soundtracks – features Molly Ringwald as another melancholy, down-on-her-luck teen named Andie. She is not a popular girl, but she has a big crush on a popular, rich boy named Blaine, played by Andrew McCarthy.

Meanwhile, her longtime best friend, “Duckie” – played by Jon Cryer – has been secretly in love with Andie for a long time. Blaine asks Andie to the prom, to her delight, but he backs out because his snobby friends give him a hard time. She goes to prom anyway with Duckie, and Blaine shows up to apologize. Reluctantly, Duckie sets Andie free and encourages her to go to Blaine. The new couple share passionate kisses in the parking lot outside the prom. High school romance at its finest.

Watch it here on Prime Video.

3. The Princess Bride (1987)

The narrator of the closing kiss scene in The Princess Bride says it all: “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” The beginning of The Princess Bride, though, is a bit anti-romantic: A grandfather is reading his teenage grandson, who is ill and bedridden, the book called “The Princess Bride” before the story-within-a-story starts with Robin Wright as the princess named Buttercup and Cary Elwes as her true love, Westley.

The grandson initially dismisses the story, as he prefers action and “no kissing.” Well that didn’t happen, but all’s well that ends well: At the closing of the movie, the grandson asks to be read the story again.

Watch it here on Disney+.

2. Sixteen Candles, 1984

Few movies capture the essence of adolescence in 80s rom coms like this next John Hughes gem, which begins with Ringwald’s red-headed Sam on her Sweet 16 birthday. But she is the only person in her chaotic family who knows it.

The rest of Sixteen Candles unfolds with the angst of Sam’s familial neglect, and her crush on an unattainable senior named Jake, combined with zany comedy. Unforgettable supporting roles by Anthony Michael Hall as “The Geek” and Gedde Watanabe as “Long Duk Don” – the latter of whom originated the hilarious “What’s happenin’, hot stuff?” phrase. Then comes the sweet ending, where Jake, who broke up with his superficial girlfriend, comes over to Sam’s house to give her the birthday dinner she deserves. They kiss over a candlelit cake, and there’s your happy romantic ending. Aww!

Watch it here on Prime Video.

1. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Topping our list of 80s rom coms is no surprise. This quintessential 80s rom-com came in 1989, to usher in the upcoming era of the rom-com-filled ‘90s. Many people can’t go to a restaurant and say “I’ll have what she’s having” without grinning, knowing that the line isn’t just about the menu. The iconic scene where Sally (Meg Ryan) makes “a scene” for Harry (Billy Crystal) in a restaurant is probably the most memorable moment in When Harry Met Sally, which explores that age-old question of whether men and women can be close friends without sex getting in the way.

Spoiler alert: In this case, not only was the friendship not ruined, but it bloomed into a long-time-coming love. Harry is the source of a favorite romantic line that could be said at a marriage proposal: “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Swoon …

Don’t miss Ryan’s return to rom com genre with her new movie What Happens Later, that she co-wrote, directed and will star in. The film debuts on November 3rd and also stars David Duchovny.  

Read on for more of our favorite movie night picks!

The 10 Best Non-Scary Halloween Movies, Ranked — For Just the Right Amount of Spooky Fun

8 Movies With Mature Love Stories That Will Make You Swoon

These Romance Movies Aren’t Your Typical Rom-Coms — They’re Better

7 Movies About Female Friendship to Watch With Your Pals

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