Some decades blessed us with better romances than others — like the '90s, which kicked off with one of the best on-screen romances of all time: "Pretty Woman." The unconventional love story, which hit the big screen in 1990, allowed viewers to watch Julia Roberts's Vivian, a lady of the night, fall for her temporary employer, Richard Gere's Edward. A modern-day fairy tale ensued as the couple that hailed from very different worlds ended up finding love in a posh hotel suite in Beverly Hills. The flick includes one of the most romantic endings ever with Edward picking Vivian up from her apartment in a limousine with a bouquet of roses. In honor of the film's 30th anniversary on March 13, 2020, Wonderwall.com is rounding up our favorite '90s pop culture romances! Keep reading to see them all…
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A couple that dominated must see TV in the '90s? "Friends" duo Ross and Rachel, who were famously played by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston. Their romance went way back — Ross had a crush on Rachel, a friend of his sister, Monica, in high school — and eventually he got the girl after years of friendship led to more. But things weren't easy — the on-again, off-again couple had a rocky road ahead of them, which included marrying other people and an accidental pregnancy before they eventually found their way back to one another.
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Here's one romance that only could have gone down in the '90s. In 1998's "You've Got Mail," Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan played Joe and Kathleen, a couple who fall in love… in an AOL chat room! Offline, they have very different interests: Joe's family runs a chain of big bookstores, while Kathleen runs a tiny independent bookstore. While online, they don't share specifics of their lives and simply fall in love. They're also simultaneously falling in love in real life too, but that just makes this e-romance so much sweeter.
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If we had to pick the most famous fictional couple of the '90s, that would be Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater. The "Titanic" lovebirds hit the big screen in 1997 in the blockbuster flick, which hooked audiences with the pair's doomed romance on the ill-fated ship. It employed the rich-girl-meets-poor-boy trope, as Rose was a first-class passenger and Jack was in steerage. But aside from coming from different walks of life, the two faced other obstacles as well — namely Rose's fiancé, Caledon Hockley, and her social-climbing mother. Despite all the drama in their all-too-short courtship, Jack was instrumental in saving Rose as the ship sank after hitting an iceberg, sacrificing his own life to keep her safe and afloat on that wooden door (cue the tears!).
The '90s delivered some of the best teen rom-coms of all time including "She's All That." Freddie Prinze Jr., one of the foremost heartthrobs of the decade, starred in the 1999 film as Zack Siler, the most popular guy on campus who makes a bet with his pals that he can turn any girl into the prom queen. Arty outcast Laney Boggs, played by Rachael Leigh Cook, is the victim of the bet, but as Zack tries to transform her into one of the cool crowd, the two end up falling for one another. Despite Lainey finding out what he did, the two overcome their unconventional beginnings and reunite in the end.
The '90s delivered one of the best teen love triangles on television — the tangled web between Dawson, Joey and Pacey on "Dawson's Creek." The show debuted on The WB in 1998 and quickly gave fans the tumultuous triangle by its second season: Dawson seemingly gets the girl only to later have his best friend, Pacey, enter the mix. Through the rest of the show's six seasons, Joey bounced back and forth between the pals, ultimately foregoing her first love, Dawson, to end up with her true love, Pacey.
"Ghost" provided our most unconventional and darkest couple on the list — Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat and Demi Moore as Molly Jensen. The 1990 fantasy thriller showed love surviving after death when Sam is shot and killed by a mugger, leaving Molly behind. Despite Molly thinking he's gone, the ghost of Sam remains with her, watching over her and trying to keep her safe. Despite the sad turn of events and the fact that the couple can't physically be together, this film showed the depth of Sam's love for Molly from beyond the grave.
The '90s also gave us this famous line in movie history — "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." Yep, that gem came from the 1999 rom-com "Notting Hill" starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. The film told the unlikely love story of humble British bookshop owner William Thatcher and Hollywood movie star Anna Scott, two people from separate walks of life who cross paths and fall in love despite the pressure of Anna's fame.
Who didn't want to be charmed by Heath Ledger's character, Patrick, in "10 Things I Hate About You" (especially with that serenade on the soccer field!)? This instant classic from 1999 followed Julia Stiles's character, tough girl Kat, as she's wooed by Patrick in order to ensure she starts dating so that her younger sister, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), will be allowed to date. Though the couple seem to be on opposite fringes of high school society, they surprisingly hit it off — and though Kat eventually discovers he's been set up to date her, he still manages to win her over in the end. The teen rom-com is loosely based on "The Taming of the Shrew."
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" became a cult classic after it debuted on The WB in 1997 as fans fell for the supernatural drama that also happened to have plenty of romance. For the first three seasons, Buffy and Angel's epic love story played out while the young vampire slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) was in high school (with one perfect moment where Angel showed up for a dance at Buffy's prom). And even though it wasn't meant to last — Buffy went off to college and got into more supernatural romances while Angel headed to Los Angeles — it's still one of the most iconic '90s teen love stories.
"Sleepless in Seattle" gave us a romance that took place via the radio! Yep, Tom Hanks's character, Sam Baldwin, played an architect who moves to Seattle with his son after losing his wife. After calling into a radio station, he catches the attention of Meg Ryan's Annie Reed. Despite not crossing paths in real life, through a mistakenly sent letter and a little interference from Sam's son, Jonah, the two eventually meet and it's as romantic as expected. Fun fact: Despite the film centering around their characters' sweet romance, Meg and Tom only share screen time for a few minutes.
We know Romeo and Juliet aren't technically a '90s couple, but the leads from the 1996 remake of this classic love story told by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann in "Romeo + Juliet" — Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes — make the list for their gorgeous modern portrayal of the star-crossed lovers. The forbidden romance takes place against the backdrop of family fighting, but the lovestruck teenagers still manage to find love. And even though this version shares the same tragic ending, this updated take left a serious mark on '90s pop culture.
The most endearing story of first love during the '90s? Well, that goes to Cory and Topanga from "Boy Meets World." The sweet soulmates were played by Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel, who starred as the couple that became close friends in junior high and went on to date throughout high school and beyond. And as a bonus for fans of the cuties, the spinoff "Girl Meets World" proved that they eventually got married and had kids, as it follows their daughter, Riley.
This next romance was plucked from real life. 1997's "Selena" was a biopic about the slain Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Perez that also highlights her romance with Chris Perez. Jennifer Lopez played the role of the singer while Jon Seda portrayed Chris, one of her band members with whom she strikes up a romance while on the road and eventually married. Sadly, this love story was cut short both off screen and on after Selena was shot and killed by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar.
The '90s were filled with some pretty far-fetched love stories, and "While You Were Sleeping" gave us one of them when it was released in 1995. Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a fare token collection who develops a crush on a commuter named Peter, played by Peter Gallagher. She rescues him from the train tracks after which he falls into a coma and a mixup at the hospital leaves people believing she's his fiancée. The charade goes on while she grows closer to his family — including his brother Jack, played by Bill Pullman, whom she ultimately ends up with after Peter awakens and she eventually tells him the truth. (We told you this one was far-fetched!)
The coolest couple in high school in the '90s? Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski! The stars of "Saved by the Bell" were #couplegoals during the decade as the show chronicled their high school love story all the way through to a 1994 spinoff, "Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas," which saw the two tie the knot alongside their pals.
Would you believe one half of our next couple is referred to as Josie Grossy?! In 1999, "Never Been Kissed" saw Josie Geller, played by Drew Barrymore, go back to high school as an undercover reporter. It's there that she strikes up a surprising romance with an English teacher, Sam Coulson, played by Michael Vartan, and ends up getting — you guessed it! — her very first kiss. And oh, what a perfect first kiss it is!
We'd be remiss if we didn't include this '90s power couple — Brenda Walsh and Dylan McKay from "Beverly Hills, 90210." These high school students didn't have the easiest road to love thanks to a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance that included her parents not supporting their relationship, which fueled a lot of the drama on the soapy teen series. Brenda helped Dylan through his struggles with alcohol, he cheated on her with her best friend, Kelly, and eventually they found their way back to one another. Brenda ultimately left him to move to London — though he later followed.
Even though Jennifer Aniston was busy as one-half of '90s television's favorite couples on 'Friends," she also made time for a few big-screen romances. Her 1997 flick "Picture Perfect" saw her as Kate, a busy working woman in New York City who makes up an engagement in order to secure a promotion. The only problem? She ends up falling for her fake beau, Nick, who's played by Jay Mohr, in this delightful rom-com.
Everyone's favorite TV aunt and uncle had quite an adorable romance in the '90s. Yep, next up are Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky from "Full House," who were played by John Stamos and Lori Loughlin. On the family-friendly sitcom, Becky Donaldson hosts "Wake Up, San Francisco" with Danny Tanner and ends up falling for her co-host's hunky brother-in-law, Jesse Katsopolis. The on-screen couple started dating and eventually married during season 4 and later welcomed twin boys, Nicky and Alex.