A Meet Cute is a scene where two characters who will eventually form some kind of a romantic relationship meet for the first time.
A mainstay in romantic comedies or dramas, these Meet Cutes aim to be unique, often humourous and nearly always ‘cute‘ ways of introducing key characters and relationships, as well as establishing what kind of story you’re telling.
Are you writing the next great rom-com and want to make your characters’ first interaction as interesting, unusual, or romantic as possible? Looking for some inspiration or some great character moments?
Check out our picks for the Top Ten Best Meet-Cutes below.
Head’s up – Spoilers ahead.
1. The Notebook – Ferris Wheel Hang-Out
This classic rom-com moment is instantly memorable. Fanciful period setting? Check. Ryan Gosling hanging off a Ferris Wheel? Check. A unique way of asking someone out on a date? Check. Killer dialogue? Check.
Just don’t try this one at home.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind –
The Awkward Train Ride
Even though this technically isn’t the Joel and Clementine’s first meeting, it’s the first Meet Cute we see. This is a masterclass in how awkward talking to a stranger can actually be. Very quickly, the quirky conversation turns sour.
Just because your characters are going to be in a relationship, it doesn’t mean it has to be straight away. Think about how your characters would react to a stranger talking to them on a train, and ask yourself what you’d do in their shoes.
3. Scott Pilgrim VS The World – Pac-Man
A lot of Meet Cutes are played for relatable comedy, and this entry is no exception. It’s one of the most human exchanges on this list. A party, a red cup in hand, an idle love interest – and an awful conversation.
We’ve all probably had a terrible pick-up line at some point, but this one is particularly memorable because it’s repeated dialogue throughout the film – almost like a default conversation starter. Of course, it doesn’t work.
Again, this isn’t an instant hit-off. There’s some power play. We get to see Scott pining for Ramona. It’s well-done, and it’s hilarious.
4. Gigantic – Mattress Shop
This is one of the quirkier entries, from cult film Gigantic. It goes to show that your Meet Cute can happen at any moment, in any location, and can be entirely spontaneous.
Zooey Deschanel’s Happy crashes down into Paul Dano’s life as soon as she hits the mattress. A woman falling asleep beside a decorative skeleton in front of a mattress store attendant is truly a wacky and memorable moment.
How will your audience remember your Meet Cute? If they’ve seen it before and it doesn’t have a unique voice, they probably won’t.
5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Madagascar
In a film full of high-concept sci-fi, absurd comedy, dire poetry, and manically depressed androids, this is a beautifully human moment.
The first interaction between Martin Freeman’s Arthur and (again) Zooey Deschanel’s Trillian/Tricia happens at a costume party with cute dialogue, awkward antics and a genuine connection – but there is something unique about it.
Trillian outwardly asks Arthur to run away with her to Madagascar. She cuts out the middle man of dating, having a relationship and fighting for purpose, which is the common plot progression. Arthur refuses because it’s too much too soon, which is definitely a poor choice seeing that the Earth is destroyed shortly after.
This is an interesting inversion of the common trope, and Trillian is certainly a complex character to be explored.
6. Romeo + Juliet – Fish Tank
Not a single word is exchanged between Romeo and Juliet in Baz Luhrman’s adaptation. Just a chance meeting through a fish tank with eye contact, curiosity, and a spark.
There isn’t much to say about this entry, other than it is beautifully done.
Watch the clip and take a look at your script – where are your characters going to meet? Is it going to be love at first sight like in this example, or do they get to know each other first? Are they instantly attracted to each other?
What will create the most drama?
7. Howl’s Moving Castle – Walking in Mid-Air
After saving Sophie Hatter from minions of the Witch of the Waste, the Wizard Howl walks Sophie to safety – in the sky above a busy courtyard.
With the uplifting score carrying the characters, this is the moment Sophie falls in love with the mysterious stranger and is now one of the most mesmerising – and heroic – moments of cinema.
A lot can be learned from this moment, including the use of location, ingenuity, and even music. Don’t shy away from referencing music – particularly soundtrack – in your scripts. It can give a reader a unique feel for the scene if you let them know that the characters are meeting to a Beatles track or a Mozart orchestration.
8. About Time – Blind Date
This is a particularly original variant of the blind date trope – as the scene and their location is entirely under the cover of darkness. All we have to rely on are the characters’ voices and their genuine connection.
We don’t see Rachel McAdam’s character until Domhnall Gleeson’s does, making this movie moment extra special. We get an insight into the characters’ P.O.V. and react as they do.
Think about your framework and how your characters will meet. Can you use your location to enhance your Meet Cute? How will they react to it, and react to each other within it? Meeting in an elevator will be completely different from locking eyes across an office, as it will be to spotting each other on a crowded street.
If you can make your Meet Cute as clever and memorable as About Time‘s, you’re onto a winner.
9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – New Neighbour
Another classic movie moment, and an introduction to the main characters of this masterpiece. This is a study in dialogue – what is said and what isn’t said. We begin to see Paul’s intrigue with Holly, but really it’s Holly testing Paul here. She’s finding out as much information about him as possible, without really asking.
He’s leading, but she has the power.
Again, a simple interaction like this chance meeting – needing to use the telephone – is not only a memorable Meet Cute but a classic introduction to characters, setting, and the story.
If you have the chance, read the original script for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and take notes, because you’ll find not just some fantastic romantic comedy moments, but some of the best dialogue put to film.
10. Moonrise Kingdom – Dressing Room Birds
Our top choice is the sweetest, cutest, quirkiest Meet Cute in cinema.
This scene has it all – kooky costumes, childlike curiosity and wonder, pointed, hilarious dialogue, and the moment that instantly sets up both Sam and Suzy’s relationship and the overall plot.
Wes Anderson’s often overlooked masterpiece, a story about childhood love and escapism, features the above Meet Cute, and it’s weird and perfect.
We all had a childhood crush, and what we perceive as romanticism and love has changed since then. This scene perfectly captures the childlike innocence and curiosity surrounding love and relationships, and it shows that a Meet Cute can be adorable, comedic, but unexpected.
Not all of your Meet Cutes have to lead to a dramatic, serious, or adult relationship. They can simply reflect the bond between two people, a good story, and the journey they will go on together – whoever they are.
Need more inspiration, or want to check out more of our Listicles?
Take a look at our Top Eight Best Movie Monologues or our Top Eight Best TV Monologues.
Eden Luke McIntyre is a Scottish writer, editor, and script consultant. His qualifications include a Master’s Degree in TV Fiction Writing and Bachelor of Arts with Honours Degrees in Film & Media Studies and English Studies, specialising in Scriptwriting and Researching the Media. Besides consulting on scripts and article writing, Eden creates content for TV, radio, stage, and online, and was appointed as a BBC Writers Room Scottish Voice in early 2020.