Sci-Fi & Fantasys 14 Greatest Romances

A romantic treat for Valentine’s Day

Compiled with the impromptu help of the users on our SFX Facebook page . And 14 because, well, it’s the 14th…

14 Buttercup & Westley

From: The Princess Bride

Westley: “This is true love – you think this happens every day?”

You have to marvel at Buttercup’s character arc in The Princess Bride : she goes from bossing around the farm boy who seems incapable of saying anything except for “As you wish”, to preparing to stick a knife in her breast when she can’t spend the rest of her life with him (causing him to remark that there’s a shortage of perfect breasts in the world and it would be a shame). Now that’s love, right there.

When it comes down to it, Westley and Buttercup are the perfect fairytale couple: they barely speak, they don’t act on their feelings until it’s too late and they spend most of their time apart. Yet their love is so profound that Westley can forgive Buttercup for almost marrying another man (to be fair, she was forced into it) and she can forgive him for being a vicious pirate who never told her he wasn’t dead. They’re not bad at kissing, either, even if young Fred Savage isn’t that fond of hearing about their smooches.

13 Lady Ramkin

& Sam Vimes

From: Discworld

“Lady Ramkin’s bosom rose

and fell like an empire.”

He’s a working class hero, a man of the streets. She is titled and monied, from one of the oldest and most respected families in the cities. The only thing they had in common was that they were confirmed singletons… or so it seemed.

They met after Vimes, commander of the City of Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch, had a brush with a dragon (dragons are her hobby and she runs a dragon sanctuary). They were immediately attracted by each other’s resourcefulness and independence. Hell, he didn’t care that she wears a wig (singed hair being a side-effect of her hobby).

Despite his tendency to run off after passing crims at the slightest opportunity (even their wedding, which took place in Men At Arms , left) she was more than willing to put up with his lifestyle. The only thing more important to Vimes than keeping the streets clean is their child, Young Sam.

It’s been a long and successful relationship based on trust, and not worrying too much about what each other is up to.

12 Beauty & The Beast

From: Various

Catherine: “He comes from a secret place, far below the city streets,

hiding his face from strangers, safe from hate and harm. He brought

me there to save my life... and now, wherever I go, he is with me, in

spirit. For we have a bond stronger than friendship or love. And

although we cannot be together, we will never, ever be apart.”

All versions of Beauty And The Beast count – collectively – as one of fantasy’s greatest love stories. It’s the tale of the girl who can see past the monstrous visage into the heart of the beast. Though, to be honest, in most versions (especially La Belle et la Bete and Disney’s), the design of the beast is so magnificent and adorably furry, it isn’t much of challenge for the “beauty” to fall in love with him. And when he does change back into a dull old human prince it’s something of a disappointment.

But a special mention of the brilliant 1980s TV version, which reimagined the Beast (played by Ron Perlman) as member of a set of subterranean, mutant outcasts living in the sewers of New York, and Beauty as Catherine (Linda Hamilton), the district attorney who has a psychic bond with him. A psychic bond that becomes a much stronger bond. (Hamilton actually left after two seasons, and Catherine was memorably killed off, to be replaced by a female cop, but the show was never quite the same.)

11 Heather & Connor

From: Highlander

Heather: “You can do that to me forever if you like, my Lord.”

Connor MacLeod: “Aye! I will. ”

Who wants to live forever? Sniff.

10 Clare & Henry

From: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Henry: “I never wanted to have anything in my life that I couldn’t

stand losing. But it’s too late for that. It’s not because you’re beautiful

and smart. I don’t feel alone any more. Will you marry me?”

There’s nothing more romantic than a doomed love affair, and the one in Audrey Niffenegger’s bestselling novel is as doomed as they come. Henry (played in the movie version by a soulful Eric Bana) is cursed to travel through time, appearing and disappearing without warning. He falls in love with Clare (Rachel McAdams), who first met him as a little girl, and their courtship, marriage and eventual parting is an exercise in yearning, loss and, ultimately, hope.

Which is a coded way of saying, “Don’t watch without a box of tissues, because you will cry like a bastard.”

9 Zoe & Wash

From: Firefly

Wash: “We’ll be in our bunk.”

On the surface, Wash and Zoe seem to be the odd couple – indeed, as we learn in a flashback episode, Zoe hated her future husband at first sight. And yet somehow his self-effacing funnyman and her ass-kicking soldier fit together like Cinderella and her glass slipper, making theirs a true fairytale romance.

During the course of Firefly ’s sadly shortened run we got to see them fight, make up, deal with torture, save lives, lose lives (sniff) and, most of all, adore each other in a totally believable, down-to-earth manner. Their unlikely attraction also served to free up Mal Reynolds from fancying his second-in-command to pine over Inara instead – another romance that could have featured on this list, if only they’d had a chance to do anything about it. Shame.

8 Hermione & Ron

From: Harry Potter

“There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of

Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck

and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and

broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm

that he lifted Hermione off her feet.”

While the Harry Potter films create a less convincing “will they?/won’t they?” romance between the young wizards, J K Rowling sparked a realistic, funny and painfully gradual love story fuelled with the teen angst of the average teenager in her novels. Made all the more interesting by the obstacles of the wizarding world, the romance strengthened under the pressure of trolls, giant spiders, death eaters and of course Lord Voldemort.

While Harry seems to be what holds their friendship together, it takes nearly four years for Ron and Hermione to realise that their feelings for each other are more than just a feisty friendship, when jealousy rears its ugly head at the Yule Ball. Another few years pass and still the pair remain well and truly in the friend zone, with further hints of jealousy when either character has a love interest. In fact, it’s not until the battle at Hogwarts is in full swing that the couple finally hook up, the grand finale of the whole saga. Then there’s the slightly creepy but very sweet scene from the future, when Ron and Hermione are married and sending their kids off in the Hogwarts Express.

No doubt if the world wasn’t under threat from an evil dark lord for such a long time, the romance would have moved a lot faster.

7 Sarah & Chuck

From: Chuck

Sarah: “Chuck, you’re a gift. You're a gift I never dreamed I could

want or need, and every day, I will show you that you’re a gift that I

deserve. You make me the best person I could ever hope to be, and

I want to spend and learn and love the rest of my life with you.”

Chuck was one of two TV shows in this list (the one at number one being the other) that broke one of the fundamental rules of television and managed to survive: after a couple of season of will-they?/won’t they?… they did. Yep the geek got together with the spy, and made lots of fan boys and fan girls very, very happy indeed.

The amazing thing was how convincingly Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski sold the relationship. It really should have been a hideous, unbelievable TV contrivance. There was no way the glamorous spy could fall for the comic- and videogame-loving Nerd Herder, surely? And yet, they made it seem so natural. So right. So sweet. There was a look of true love in Sarah’s eyes and you truly believed all she wanted was the kids, the house, the white picket fence and a husband who could tune the TV to the digibox.

6 Jack & Ianto

From: Torchwood

Ianto: “A thousand years’ time, you won’t remember me.”

Jack: “Yes, I will. I promise I will.”

The relationship that broke a thousand hearts when it ended in double death mostly happened off screen rather than on it; Jack’s love affair with his trusty Torchwood pal was hinted at in subtle ways until one casual mention of stopwatch made it official. Even after that, though, it wasn’t given much attention, allowing fans of the two loved-up agents to imagine all the stuff going on behind the scenes – and with Jack, that meant it was pretty damn imaginative indeed.

However, just as their relationship finally hit front and centre in Children Of Earth , along came a nasty gas that felled both men – with only one of them set to return to mourn for a considerably long time. If your chin didn’t wobble even a little bit when Ianto told Jack he loved him, you’re as heartless as the 456.

5 Joan Redfern & John Smith

From: Doctor Who

John Smith: “I’m John Smith, that’s all I want to be. John Smith. With

his life... and his job... and his love. Why can’t I be John Smith? Isn’t

he a good man? Why can’t I stay?”

For the first 26 years of Doctor Who , the errant Time Lord had one brief romantic fling, and all that amounted to was the first Doctor fairly innocently flirting with an old dear in “The Aztecs”. But since the show came back in 2005, the Doctor’s has been affected by a major reversal in the polarity of his hormonal flow. His relationship with Rose always seemed far more than just the usual Doctor/assistant shtick and he downright had the hots for Madame de Pompadour. But the sweetest, most heartbreaking relationship of all was with an English nurse called Joan. Admittedly he wasn’t himself at the time; hell, he wasn’t even a Time Lord and had forgotten all about his past life. Living as teacher in a private school he fell in love, but it was a love that was doomed as soon as his past caught up with him. He was given a glimpse of an alternate future where he grew old with one true love in simple bliss, but saving-the-universe duties came first. Without a doubt, it was Doctor Who at its tear-jerking best.


From: WALL-E



(*They’re not much with the dialoguing, these two…)

Poor WALL-E, abandoned on a desolate, ruined world for year after year with nothing and nobody to keep him company aside from a lone, mute cockroach. It’s no wonder he took one look at EVE’s shiny, slick curves and fell madly in love with her – well, as madly in love as a robot can fall, anyway…

Conducted with the bare minimum of conversation and all the artistry and movement of a silent movie star such as Charlie Chaplin, the heartwarming romance between WALL-E and EVE is as affecting as anything you’ll see in cartoon form (well, until the first ten minutes of Up! , at least, a relationship we would have featured here if only it had lasted a little longer). WALL-E and EVE may be emotionless machines but somehow they convey more emotion than many human actors we can think of. Most of all, they’re cute . Aww.

3 Tara & Willow

From: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Tara: “I am, you know.”

Willow: “What?”

Tara: “Yours.”

The sweet, natural way Willow and Tara’s relationship developed across the course of Buffy ’s fourth season was a big part of its charm. Slow-building and soft, it just happened ; Willow found a fellow witch, a friend and a girlfriend almost without noticing. Sure, they had a few hiccups (Willow’s werewolf ex-boyfriend almost eating Tara was a bit of a downer), but eventually they settled into what was probably the most functional relationship the show ever managed – Willow’s unfortunate magical dabblings and one God-induced brain-wipe aside. And Tara’s love song to Willow in “Once More, With Feeling” is simultaneously both sweet and very sexy: “Lost in ecstasy, spread beneath my Willow tree,” indeed. (It helped that Amber Benson has a hell of a set of pipes.)

Sadly, as you all know, Willow and Tara weren’t destined to live happily ever after, with poor Tara dying in Willow’s arms after an unlucky shooting incident. Thanks to this we were gifted with Evil Willow (yay!) but Tara’s presence was missed long after Amber Benson left the series, and not merely by Willow.

2 Amy & Rory

From: Doctor Who

Rory: “I waited. 2,000 years, I waited for you.”

The quote sums it up, really: the love between Amy and Rory is so epic it’s lasted for millennia. And yet, at the same time, it’s also beautifully silly, confusing, charming, frustrating, tense, frantic and goofy. Just like a real relationship, then…

What makes Amy and Rory work is the undeniable chemistry between Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, who seem perfectly at ease with each other in every scene. While you believe Amy is fond of the Doctor, her body language is all about Rory, just as his is all about her. They’re not just husband and wife, they’re best mates .

And isn't that what all relationships should be?

1 Aeryn & Crichton

From: Farscape

John: “There is no home. There is no wormhole. There’s only you.

Aeryn, anywhere in the universe. You pick the planet.”

It’s hard to figure out who wears the trousers in this particular relationship, so we’ll settle with “both of them”. Despite being different species, it was clear almost from the start that John and Aeryn were made for each other – one glance at their taste for (a) leather outfits and (b) Very Big Guns was enough to give that away.

Their often prickly love affair was just as weird as Farscape itself, surviving everything from multiple John clones (the death of “her” John leaving Aeryn distraught and “our” John baffled as to how to steal her heart away from… well, himself) to eventual parenthood during a deadly battle. Rarely soppy, this was a relationship built on blowing things up together and enjoying every bang – surely the best kind there is.

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.