TV shows can whisk us through every possible emotion in as little as 20 minutes, and most show producers like a good old love story to be entwined somewhere within the ongoing plots and subplots. So, then, it’s no surprise that marriage proposals often come thick and fast, whether in a drama, a sitcom, or even the latest gritty HBO blockbuster. Here we take a look at some of the most famous TV proposals.
Penny and Leonard – The Big Bang Theory
Notice we said Penny and Leonard, and not the other way around. Having the fairer sex propose in TV shows isn’t new, but this one came from nowhere in one of the past decade’s biggest sitcoms. After a traumatic night in which Penny finds out her scene with Mark Harmon in NCIS has made it no further than the cutting room floor, Leonard seems to go out of his way to make her feel worse when he’s really trying to help.
After redeeming a little by convincing Penny that, even when all else is eluding her, she still has him, his effort sends Penny down on one knee to propose. The problem is that Leonard, who himself has proposed to Penny several times already and been turned down every time, doesn’t say “yes”. In fact, he doesn’t say “no” either, he merely “ummm”s, which doesn’t go down well.
Matthew and Lady Mary – Downton Abbey
The Brits tend to like their drama a little more genteel than we’re used to here, but that didn’t stop Downton Abbey from being a huge hit in the US. One of the most intriguing storylines was the relationship between Matthew and Lady Mary. Although clearly in love, the pair managed to avoid marriage until a war injury and a dead fiancée brought them together one last time.
After talking about marriage, and letting past problems fade, Matthew goes down on one knee in the snow and proposes to a delighted Mary. As slow-burners go, this was almost glacial, but it didn’t stop us all from having tears and smiles in equal measure at our favorite couple finally getting engaged.
Harry and Charlotte – Sex and the City
For a show that made the art of relationships often seem more trouble than it was worth, it had its fair share of proposals both good and bad. One of the odder couples was Charlotte, a society girl with a privileged upbringing, and Harry, a short, bald divorce lawyer with messy eating habits, and a million miles away from Charlotte’s handsome – if somewhat broken – first husband Trey.
After slowly falling in love with Harry, and converting to Judaism to marry him, an argument puts an end to the relationship when Charlotte refers to Harry’s earthy qualities. Weeks later, after a chance meeting at a synagogue single night, Charlotte realizes she needs to accept Harry for what he is, rather than trying to change him, he proposes on the spot. The odd couple had managed to melt all our hearts.
Derek and Meredith – Grey’s Anatomy
One of the most unusual settings for a proposal ever was the location for one of the most iconic scenes in TV proposal history.
Derek, AKA Dr McDreamy, decorated the elevator at Seattle Grace Hospital with hundreds of pieces of memorabilia regarding their time together at the hospital, both personal and professional, and simply told Meredith that he couldn’t live without her. No dropping to one knee or big glorious landscapes, just one of the most beautifully simple proposal scenes ever filmed.
Dexter and Rita – Dexter
In one of the unlikeliest TV hits of recent times, the even more unlikely “hero” showed us all that serial killers aren’t always the cold-hearted monsters we assume them to be. After establishing a genuine relationship with mother-of-two Rita, Dexter proposes in front of the kids, saying he wants to marry all three of them.
The main reason Dexter gives for wanting to marry Rita is that pizza night is the highlight of his week, and it’s hard to argue with kind of logic!
Chandler and Monica – Friends
We all knew it was coming, but it still didn’t make the event any less satisfying when it eventually came.
After having his plans to propose to Monica in a restaurant interrupted by one of her old flames, the pair go back to their apartment. Not to be deterred by not getting the proposal she thought would happen, Monica goes down on one knee and proposes to Chandler. Or at least she tries to but can’t get the words out through her endless sobs and tells Chandler that there’s a reason why girls don’t do this.
Chandler takes the hint and finishes the proposal for both of them, and one of US TV’s biggest ever shows has one of its biggest scenes.
Nick and Rachel – Crazy Rich Asian
The proposal scene in Crazy Rich Asians is indeed almost as good as that famous wedding. When Nick finally meets Rachel’s family, it’s clear that they don’t like her. They don’t think she’s a good match for Nick because she used to be a teacher and he’s one of Singapore’s most attractive bachelors. She ends their relationship because of the fights between Nick’s family and Rachel’s.
Nick asks his mother to help him show Rachel how much he loves her. He goes after Rachel and her mother on a plane right before they take off and asks her to marry him. He tells her that he is going to fly her to his favorite island and ask her to marry him at sunset, but he proposes to her on the plane instead. And kneels down in front of her and gives her his mother’s ring, which means she finally agrees with the relationship.
Katherine and Jim – Hidden Figures
As a surprise, Jim cooks a full dinner for Katherine’s girls and her mother as his proposal. She’s shocked and asks if it’s her birthday and she forgot. Her girls tell her that’s not the event they’re celebrating, though. Katie’s family is there when Jim gets down on one knee and gives her his mother’s ring. She has been married to her father for more than fifty years, so he says it’s pretty lucky. After meeting Katherine, he called his mom the night after to tell her he was sure he was going to marry her. He then asks her to marry him. Jim told her mother, “No, she’s more than something,” when she said, “She must be something.” Just for that sweet line, this is without a doubt one of the best movie dates ever.
Margaret and Andrew – The Proposal
Talk about an unusual love story. At the start of The Proposal, Andrew doesn’t like Margaret because she’s a boss who is too strict. However, when she finds out she has to go back to Canada, she forces Andrew to marry her so she can keep her job. They go to see Andrew’s family to tell them they are getting married, but while they are there, they become very close. She feels so bad about what happened that she leaves Andrew at the altar during their “fake” wedding. After that, Andrew realizes that he loves her, so he follows her to her New York City office. He knows that since she is leaving in a few hours, the only way for them to be together is for him to ask her to marry him. He looks her in the eye and says, “Marry me. Because I’d Like to date you.”
Melanie and Andrew – Sweet Home Alabama
Melanie is seriously in love with her boyfriend Andrew in New York in this well-known romance comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Patrick Dempsey. Andrew shocks Melanie by taking her to the main Tiffany & Co. store in New York City the night of the proposal. All of the lights come on at once, and her jewelry sparkles all around her. He looks at her and says, “Pick one.” Right? Goals?
Jake and Amy – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Here’s when Jake (Andy Samberg) planned to propose to Amy (Melissa Fumero) in a surprise during the fifth Halloween Heist episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In the first season of the show, the pair had a rough relationship because they were competing detectives. Jake’s habit of making fun of Amy all the time didn’t help. For fans, though, this was just the detective’s way of getting her attention because he liked her. There were a lot of reasons why Jake and Amy didn’t start dating right away, even though it was always clear that they liked each other.
First, their relationship was cut short when Jake was quickly sent on an undercover job that kept them apart for a while. They also began meeting other people, which made things even worse between them. Season 3 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine was the first season where they really chose to start dating, and they haven’t been apart since.
Toby and Kate – This Is Us
At the center of “This Is Us” has been Toby and Kate’s bond. Kate Pearson, played by Chrissy Metz, and Toby Damon, played by Chris Sullivan, meet at a weight loss support group. As they go through life’s struggles together, their friendship grows. They go through many ups and downs, such as Toby’s depression and weight gain, Kate’s hopes for her singing career, and the process of starting a family.
If the show has a proposal plot, it could be a big moment in their relationship, marking the start of a new chapter and their promise to be together. TV shows often use big steps in relationships, like proposals, to add emotional depth and character growth.
Stefan and Caroline – The Vampire Diaries
From beginning to end, The Vampire Diaries was a real emotional roller ride. One of the best parts was seeing these two finally get together. After many short-lived relationships, it became clear near the end of this CW show’s eight seasons that Stefan and Caroline were meant to be together. We had a lot of butterflies when they went from being friends to lovers. Because of this, it’s only right that fans of this couple get to see not one but two emotional proposals, both in the eighth and final season of the show.
The famous TV proposal is a key moment in the big tapestry of TV that often captures the emotional peak of a beloved plot. There’s something about TV proposals that makes them stand out and stick in people’s minds, whether it’s a surprise, the release of long-building tension, or a deeply moving statement of love.
These moments are more than just plot points; they become emotional landmarks that stick in the minds of viewers who have spent time and feeling following the characters on their journeys. What makes a good TV proposal powerful is that it can make people feel happy, surprised, and sometimes even emotional, just like a real-life proposal would.
More than just the characters involved, a famous TV proposal often changes the culture zeitgeist and leaves an indelible mark on how people talk about it.
Fans eagerly anticipate and celebrate these times, viewing them as shared experiences that strengthen the bond between the show and its viewers.
As the characters start their new lives after the proposal, this scene not only ends the story but also starts new ones and helps the characters grow. It lets us look into the complicated parts of relationships, the hard parts of commitment, and the lovely parts of living together.
At the end of the day, a famous TV proposal shows how well writers, actors, and creators can make stories that people can relate to. This show is a celebration of love, a look at what it’s like to be human, and a long memory in the history of TV.