Here's 10 Rom-Coms Couples Who Would've Broken Up (and 7 Who Would Stay Together)
These movies ended up with a kiss — but not all of their relationships were made to last
Published Sep 06, 2023The final scene of a rom-com, almost without exception, shows the couple finally getting together and sharing a kiss. The audience is meant to be left satisfied, assured that the leads have finally "ended up together."
But what happens after the credits? As much as most rom-coms want audiences to believe that their stars live happily ever after, we're not always buying it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you: not all relationships are necessarily built to last, and short-term couples deserve good movies, too.
That's why we made this list of some notable rom-com couples who almost certainly broke up five minutes after the final scene, as well as some we genuinely believe went the distance.
10 Rom-Coms Where the Couple Would Have Broken Up
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Directed by Nora Ephron
We're kicking off the list with possibly the most deranged example of an ill-fitting couple in all of rom-com history. Sleepless in Seattle is a very sweet movie about a father (Tom Hanks) and son dealing with grief following the death of the boy's mother — but the love interest is a deranged Meg Ryan, who stalks the man across the country because she heard him on a radio show. Someone edited the film into a horror movie trailer, which frankly feels more honest than the actual movie. Wild, wild stuff.
Notting Hill (1999)
Directed by Roger Michell
Hugh Grant is at his bumbling best as a British bookseller who falls in love with a famous American actress, played by Julia Roberts. The trouble is, she's kind of mean, blaming him when things get tough and talking shit behind his back for reasons that are never sufficiently explained. The final scene at the press conference is admittedly very cute, but not enough to make up for the fact that she clearly can't appreciate a good thing when she gets it.
The Wedding Planner (2001)
Directed by Adam Shankman
This absolutely rancid relationship involves J.Lo's titular wedding planner and a total douchebag, played by Matthew McConaughey, who woos her despite being engaged to someone else and lying about it. He says absolutely unforgivable shit every time he opens his mouth — but every time he crosses the line, J.Lo's character almost dies, and he comes to rescue his damsel in distress. He's a wretched jerk, and someone who spends so much time around weddings should know better.
Directed by Peter Chelsom
Don't get me wrong — I love Serendipity. Love it! But the story's insistence on "fate" drawing them together is a bit of a lazy plot device, since it saves the filmmakers from needing to establish why Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale) are actually a good romantic pair, and not simply really attracted to each other. And who could blame them — they both look amazing in this.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Directed by Donald Petrie
Another putrid McConaughey character, this time where he and Kate Hudson are both using one another to win an argument (her to show that women are too needy and emotional, him to prove that he can dupe any woman into falling in love with him — really charming stuff all around). When they eventually fall for one another, it's unclear what the hell they're thinking, since their entire "relationship" is based on trying to trick each other.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Directed by Michel Gondry
The fact that Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) are a bad fit is exactly what makes Eternal Sunshine great. The film is about the pair getting their memories of one another erased (thanks to a futuristic scientific procedure) after a bad breakup — and, even though they eventually find their way back to one another, we all know it's bound to happen again. In the final scene, Clementine comes right out and says it: "And I'll get bored with you and feel trapped because that's what happens with me."
Garden State (2004)
Directed by Zach Braff
At a more naïve time in my life, "You changed my life, and I've known you four days" seemed incredibly romantic. Having since experienced that feeling IRL, it's clear that Andrew (Zach Braff) and Sam (Natalie Portman) barely know each other at all, and they're just looking for someone else to save them from their own struggles. Give it a couple weeks and they'll figure out that the other doesn't have all the answers.
Knocked Up (2007)
Directed by Judd Apatow
Seth Rogen's Ben is a schlubby loser. It's like his whole thing. It's why we love him! Katherine Heigl's Allison is accomplished and ambitious, and while their attempt to make a relationship work following a pregnancy-inducing one-night stand is noble, we all know it's not going to stick. Ben can look forward to 18 years of looking after their kid every second weekend.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
I'll throw this one in the same basket as Eternal Sunshine, where the couple aren't right for each other, but that's not a knock on the movie. By the end, they've each gotten out of their ruts — but they're still at transitional points in their lives and have more growing to do. My prediction is that they date for a while, but it fizzles out when she gets busy with school and he's preoccupied with work. There will be no dramatic breakup, as they move on and remember one another fondly, occasionally liking one another's posts on Instagram.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Directed by Edgar Wright
Come on, we all know that Scott is a conflict-avoidant, flakey, cheating little dirtbag. The ultimate beta-ass self-identifying "nice guy." What a creep. Great movie, though!
Movies Where the Couple Stayed Together
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Directed by Rob Reiner
This one's a gimme. In When Harry Met Sally, the rom-com against which all others are judged, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have undeniable chemistry, and their well-developed friendship means that there's a substance to their relationship that goes way beyond superficial attraction.
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Directed by Frank Coraci
Robbie is the marrying kind. Adam Sandler's character is such a romantic that he's even willing to tie the knot with Angela Featherstone's thoroughly unpleasant Linda — so I have no doubt that he'll be able to go the distance with Drew Barrymore's ultra-sweet Julia. Not everything about this movie has aged well (that scene where adults grab children's butts during a slow dance?!), but Robbie and Julia's love will age gracefully.
High Fidelity (2000)
Directed by Stephen Frears
This one could feasibly appear on either section of this list — swap it with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, if you're so inclined — but I think Rob (John Cusak) and Laura (Iben Hjejle) are going to make it. Having already been together for years, they already know each other's flaws, and they're going ahead with open eyes when they reunite. Rob is bound to fuck up again at some point, but now he knows how much it hurts to lose her, so he won't let it go too far.
13 Going on 30 (2004)
Directed by Gary Winick
Jenna and Matty forever! Maybe it's a mistake to trust Jenna's romantic instincts since she's actually 13, but still — Jennifer Garner's chemistry with Mark Ruffalo is undeniable, and 13 Going on 30 is a rare romantic comedy where falling in love while engaged to someone else doesn't make his character look like a total dirtbag.
The F Word (2013)
Directed by Michael Dowse
"Friends first, lovers later" rom-coms are definitely at an advantage on this list, since the audience gets to see the couple's chemistry outside of the rush of new love. In the case of The F Word (a.k.a. What If), adorkable leads Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) and Chantry (Zoe Kazan) have the same irony-poisoned sense of humour that makes them perfect for each other (and probably no one else). Come on, what other couple would make each other a Fool's Gold Loaf?
The Big Sick (2017)
Directed by Michael Showalter
Another classic Kazan joint! In this coma comedy — a com-com, if you will — Kumail Nanjiani spends more time with his girlfriend's parents than he does with her. But, by being there for her parents through Emily's illness, he proves his devotion to her beyond a shadow of a doubt. It's kind of cheating to include this one on the list, because it's based on Nanjiani's real-life relationship with someone he's been married to since 2007.
Always Be My Maybe (2019)
Directed by Nahnatchka Khan
Even when Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) break up, these childhood BFFs still support each other from afar, as proven by Sasha backing Marcus's failing music career. Hang on to her, Marcus — a partner like that is rare.