Beast: I want to do something for her... but what?
Cogsworth: Well, there's the usual things: Flowers... chocolates... promises you don't intend to keep...You've got a lover. You love them so bad it hurts. You want to do something to prove your love. But what? Well, whatever it is, it should be big. Jewelry doesn't cut it, flowers are for losers, and chocolates? Are you kidding? Grand Romantic Gestures occur when someone gives elaborate gifts or stages outlandish events in an attempt to be romantic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires. The path to true love never did run smooth, after all. Runs heavy on Rule of Romantic. In Real Life, be warned: this has appeared on lists in the lines of "stupid things movies taught us would work." In the real world there is another name for this kind of behavior: stalking. Sub-tropes include Serenade Your Lover, Flower from the Mountaintop, Race for Your Love, Superpowered Date, and Wacky Marriage Proposal. Contrast Act of True Love, where love is shown by sacrifice.
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Anime And Manga
- Fairy Tail: It's debatable whether it was meant to be romantic, but in one omake, Natsu uproots one whole Sakura tree and sends it over to Lucy by floating it on a boat in the small river just outside Lucy's apartment so she could see it too because she was sick for the Guild's Sakura picnic that day.
- In Howl's Moving Castle, not only does Howl replicate Sophie's old room, but he brings her to, essentially, a private dimension featuring stunningly gorgeous Ghibli Hills, which he declares is his gift to her. The gesture works and Sophie even changes back into her younger self for the longest time yet in the film—until she realizes that the reason Howl is doing this is because he's about to leave.
- Interestingly, whenever a Yaoi manga features a filthy rich suitor, it often ends up with exactly this. The most common case is often that the poor guys porch/garden/etc is filled with flowers/his favorite food/whatever he stated he likes or with the suitor appearing with the most ridiculous flower bouquet. A bit rarer is the suitor giving something apparently common to his love (a ring, a dessert, a decorative object), just to explain that the price is actually equal to that of a house or race car.
- Archie Comics often shows Archie pulling these off for Veronica, who is hard to please. Some examples: Making a giant Valentine card for her, building a heart out of snow and spelling "Archie Loves Veronica" in coal, buying her jewelry he can't afford...
- An issue of Superman Confidential had Superman taking Lois for a picnic date on top of the Eiffel Tower.
- In All-Star Superman, Jimmy Olsen makes a "short-term, cosmetic alteration" to the moon to get back in his girl's good graces.
- In Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, Todd Ingram proclaimed his love for Ramona by blowing a hole in the moon with his vegan powers. This is eventually revealed to be trivial for him since he later declares his love for Scott's ex, Envy, the same way. This ends up biting him in the ass when someone realizes he's responsible for both holes, and suddenly his Grand Romantic Gesture for Envy doesn't seem so grand or romantic. Plus, it caused about thirty pages of tidal waves and explosions.
- The Student Prince: While Arthur doesn't come out on live TV just for Merlin's sake, his feelings for Merlin definitely plays a role in his decision and it is a major step in moving their relationship forward.
- In The Bug Princess, BJ pulls off a massive one in the final chapter. For his beloved's birthday, he gets her a house and undermines her stepmother's attempts to plan their wedding by arranging a surprise one at their new home. And he says he loves her, instead of resorting to the usual I Uh You Too.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Love Actually solidly runs on this trope.
- The grandest ones are pulled off by Mark.
- In the opening, he hires a full band to hide in the chapel where his best friend is getting married.
- Later, he stands outside a girl's house in the snow, plays Christmas carols on a CD player, and silently delivers an elaborate love letter/goodbye to her on cue cards. Interestingly, in the creator commentary, the writer/director says he wrote several different grand romantic gestures for the scene (ex. flying in on a helicopter, covering the street with roses), but the female assistants in his office told him they were too elaborate to be really romantic.
- An English writer falls in love with a Portuguese woman. They overcome their Language Barrier, experiencing downplayed Language of Love. However, they both decide independently to study each other's language.
- The grandest ones are pulled off by Mark.
- In A Knight's Tale, Will says he'll win a jousting tournament for his paramour. She says he'd win anyway for his own pride, and if he really loved he'd lose for her. He grudgingly goes on to do just that, sitting still and getting slammed repeatedly by his opponents' lances until she relents and informs him that, if he loves her, he won't lose another match and will win the tournament after all.
Chaucer: There she is Will. The love of your life. Your Venus.Will: And how I hate her.
- In Big Fish, the main character finds out the girl he's in love with is engaged to another man. Rather than give up, he organizes a series of grand romantic gestures, like switching out a slide in her prof's lecture to read "I love Sandra!", hiring a sky-writer to do the same, and culminating in planting thousands and thousands of her favorite flower outside her dorm room window.
Sandra: How did you get so many?Edward: I phoned everywhere in five states. I told them it was the only way to get my wife to marry me.
- At the end of Pretty Woman Edward arrives at Vivian's apartment in a white limousine and climbs up the fire escape to try to convince her to marry him. Earlier in the movie she had told him about her fantasy of a prince on a white horse coming to carry her off, and it was previously established that he had a fear of heights.
- In The Great Race, the main character loses a car race around the world on purpose (stopping right before the finish line) just to prove a girl that she's important to him.
- In Bed Of Roses, Lewis sends Lisa bouquet after bouquet of all the thornless "sterling roses" he can get from every florist and supplier he can call, after she mentions a fondness for him. Lisa is touched, but also kind of disturbed by the excessive scale of the gesture.
- Gyeon-woo tries this in My Sassy Girl by having him and the "girl" sneak into an amusement park at night (that his friend works at) with a huge grand jesture with all the lights turning on for just the two of them. Instead they met an AWOL soldier who holds them hostage.
- Towards the end of Bride and Prejudice Darcy makes a real effort for Lalita that includes drums.
- Good Luck Chuck features this after Chuck sleeps with Cam, where he lavishes attention on her in the hopes that she won't move on after they've had sex. However, Reality Ensues when Cam gets unnerved by the change in his personality and newfound clinginess.
- In Bruce Almighty, Bruce uses his new God Powers to literally rearrange the night sky to seduce his girlfriend Grace. Later on, after she's left him, he uses them to stage lots and lots of miraculous romantic gestures to get her to come back to him.
- In Twins, Vincent has his love interest's room fully decorated with flowers. She is floored when she enters.
- In Brave New World, John the Savage, having been raised on traditional ideas of love and romance, tries to explain the concept to Lenina who was raised in a Free-Love Future which discourages any form of attachment. She finds the whole idea strange and preposterous.
- In A.L. Phillip's The Quest of the Unaligned, Alaric uses the Prince's Crown to transform Laeshana into an orah, thus simultaneously allowing her to marry him, giving her the full power that she has been seeking for years, and freeing her of the black aspect of her fire-magic that she's been fighting her whole life.
- In Edenborn, Deuce uses his mastery of virtual reality to create a number of half-talismans to send to the object of his affection so that he can later present her with the missing halves. He also completely opens her ability to program her own domain and unlocks her parents' logs, all in an effort to liberate her from what he sees as intolerable confinement.
- The BattleTech setting's likely most iconic example would still have to be the way in which one of its most famous Magnificent Bastards cemented his reputation once and for all right at his wedding to friend and foe alike, as seen in the novel Warrior: Riposte:
Hanse Davion: "My love, I give you the Capellan Confederation!"
- In The Participants by Brian Blose, immortal observers Hess and Elza are separated before they profess their love when the Creator ends one world and replaces it with another. After a few hundred years of life, Elza encounters Hess again - because he has spent all his time walking the new world in search of her.
- At the end of Heart of Steel, Mad Scientist Alistair plans to show Julia just how much he loves her by conquering the world as a gift for her.
- In The Courtship of Princess Leia. Han wins a planet in a Sabaac game to try and impress Leia. It doesn't quite work though, and it takes a bit longer before she agrees to marry him.
Live Action TV
- The exact phrase is used verbatim in Arrested Development
Lucille: Buster, hi. It's me again. I've still got those Producers tickets, and I'd love to share them with you. I don't want you to think I'm taking this more seriously than you are. Unless you're planning some grand romantic gesture, my feelings are just the teensiest bit hurt.
- How I Met Your Mother: Ted is a fan of pulling these off, and other characters try their hand at it as well.
- The most referenced one is Ted stealing a blue French Horn for Robin to proclaim his love; they had their first date at a restaurant that had the instrument on the wall and she loved it. Everybody brings flowers, Ted brought her the horn. In a Continuity Nod, before they broke up, a waiter recognized him and made him bring it back. A later episode shows the restaurant now has the horn chained to the wall.
- Ted took the blue instrument in-joke further by hiring a group of musicians to play music for her with instruments that were also painted blue.
- Ted made it rain once for Robin. She was supposed to go on a company trip with a colleague who was hitting on her, so Ted performed a Rain Dance. Amazingly, it did rain despite the forecast and amazingly, Robin finally agreed to be with him.
- The two-minute date with Stella is a standout. Ted was in love with her, but she didn't have time for a romantic relationship in her busy life — all she had was her two-minute lunch break. So Ted put together a date scheduled to fit into this time constraint. It worked.
- When Ted proposed to Victoria, he filled the flat they lived in with huge amount of gorgeous red roses. She loved it and was ready to accept him, but they never got engaged because Ted didn't accept her request to distance himself a bit from Robin.
- Marshall once managed to get an entire marching band to sneak into a lonely airport where Lilly is waiting alone and play "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight while disguised as fellow travelers so he can kiss her for New Years. Try topping that.
- Even Barney got into it later. He refused to leave a diner for a really long time until his love interest of the season, Nora, agreed to go out with him again.
- The show even pointed out that such gestures can be considered creepy and stalker-ish if the intended recipient does not welcome the gesture. This is referred to as the Dobler-Dahmer Theory.
- In Game of Thrones, this seems to be part of Jamie's motivation for pushing Bran out the window, saying, "The things I do for love." However it back backfires, Cersei finds attempted child murder somewhat less than romantic, and more importantly, it triggers a whole series of events that cause them both a lot of trouble.
- Gilmore Girls: Lorelai said that a proposal should be big and epic and have "a thousand yellow daisies." Cue her Romantic False Lead boyfriend proposing to her by sending one thousand yellow daisies to her workplace.
- The X-Files:
- Played with in the episode "The Rain King", where the "villain" is unconsciously causing tornadoes and thunderstorms because of his pent-up romantic desire for the woman he is unable to confess his feelings to. When she learns about it, she realizes that causing a thunderstorm out of love for her is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for her.
- Mulder's after-dark baseball lesson could count, too. For most couples, this would simply be a cute date. But given that his and Scully's relationship moves slower than a snail's pace and usually takes two steps forward and one step back, this is a pretty gutsy and grand gesture on his part.
- In Coupling Patrick tries to tell Sally that he loves her (and buggers it up, but it's not like he's got much practice at that sort of thing), then, having bought out the entire pub for the evening, plays the Spiderman theme with his two best friends dancing to it. In costume. Sounds odd, except that he and Sally had their first kiss to the Spiderman theme.
- Chandler is in love with Joey's girlfriend Kathy but doesn't want to pursue it because of Joey, but suffers terribly. When it's her birthday, he buys her an old edition of The Velveteen Rabbit because it was her favourite book when she was a kid. When his friends tell him that this will be incredibly meaningful, screaming 'I love you', especially compared to Joey's present (he's got nothing; has an idea for a pen with a clock, and later charges Chandler with a task of buying a present for her instead of him). Chandler ends up giving the book to Joey to give it to her, because he wants her to have it. She figures it out, though, because Joey fails to see what's behind 'an old and expensive book'.
- On a smaller scale, Chandler cleans the entire apartment after he and Monica move in together. It was very sweet because Monica is obsessed with organizing and cleaning.
- After a fight with Monica, Chandler decides to pull one of these. Of course he takes it a step too far and proposes. Thankfully Monica knows his neuroses well enough to see what's going on and talk him out of it.
Monica: Chandler, um, I want you to take just a minute and I want you to think about how ridiculous this sounds.Chandler: Yeah, I'm kinda wishing everyone wasn't here right now.
- In Season 6, Chandler attempts to make his real proposal as big and surprising as possible. Naturally this backfires but luckily Monica pulls one of her own, filling their apartment with candles and proposing when he arrives.
- Monica performs a very touching one during their wedding organizing when a woman tries to get Monica's wedding dress by booking Chandler's dream band on the day of their wedding. Without telling Chandler Monica gives away the dress so he can keep the band.
- Subverted in the episode "Sweet Dreams" in which Prince Arthur is put under a spell to fall in love with the spoilt princess Vivian. He wakes up with the desire to woo her with increasingly elaborate measures, ranging from taking her a roast chicken to scaling the castle wall at night to reach her bedroom and finally fighting a duel to the death with her father. When the spell wears off due to a True Love's Kiss from Guinevere, he takes her a single red rose.
- Played straight when Arthur proposes to Guinevere by candlelight. He's filled her wooden house with lit candles in what is quite frankly a terrifying fire hazard.
- In Doctor Who, River Song threatens to unravel all of time and reality by stalling the Doctor's death... to build a distress beacon that calls out to every point in time and space. She couldn't allow the Doctor to die without knowing how much he is loved, by a million million people throughout all of creation... and by none moreso than her.
- In a parallel to the above, the Doctor does the same for Clara Oswald, except add to that the fact he punched a diamond wall with his bare fists for 4 1/2 billion years first, just for her though due to The "I Love You" Stigma that has been established, this is indicated through euphemisms like him telling Clara, "I had a duty of care" when she asks him why he put himself through hell for her".
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampire Spike, to prove his love to Buffy... stuns her with a cattle prod, chains her to a wall and offers to kill his ex for her. In hindsight, this probably wasn't the best idea.
- Later, however, he goes and gets his soul for her, which falls under this trope a little bit better.
- Kamen Rider Fourze:
- How does Shun try to ask Miu to the prom? By sending a truck to school with a giant screen that says "I Love You!", appearing in a white tuxedo with a large bouquet of flowers, and having the football team as his backup.
- Later, Shun has an Imagine Spot for what he wants to do next: it involves using Fourze's Schop Switch to dig on the school grounds, spelling out the word "LOVE" (yes, it's all caps), Miu's name and a heart symbol, and then having Fourze fly Shun to Miu's side.
- In Chinese Paladin, this combines with Flower from the Mountaintop: Ling'er has always wanted to see (nonexistant, but nobody tells her that) red dandelions; Xiaoyao and his love interest Yue'Ru conspire to produce them for her.
- Julian in Dancing on the Edge angsts over what he can do to show Jessie how much he cares about her. He settles on buying a ton of her records and giving her a car.
- In Zoey 101, Chase moves to England to be with Zoey after she transfers boarding schools. This ends up biting him in the butt, though, when she switches back to P.C.A. to confront him about his feelings for her.
- In The Worst Year of My Life, Again, Alex tries two different ones to win over Nicola Grey in "Valentine's Day". The first time, he tries to play romantic violin music and give her a bunch of roses. The second time, he sets a romantic table for two in the middle of the school gym. Neither really works out for him, though...
- A very common occurrence on Glee, usually in the form of a song. Blaine is especially fond of these, like his marriage proposal to Kurt. He convinced three rival show choirs to do an elaborately choreographed (and costumed) dance to "All You Need Is Love" by the Beatles throughout the entirety of the large Dalton Academy, where they met and fell in love. Blaine is singing, all of Kurt's friends and family are there, and the proposal concludes on the stairs where they fell in love with an equally elaborate speech. Kurt very emotionally says yes.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Leonard gives Penny a preserved snowflake from the North Pole.
Leonard: It'll last forever. I preserved it in a one percent solution of polyvinyl acetal resin...Penny: Oh, my God. That's the most romantic thing anyone's ever said to me that I didn't understand!
- Frasier has an episode where Frasier starts a new relationship and ruins it by overdoing the big romantic gestures from the start. It ends with maximum embarrassment after Frasier's serenade in front of everyone when she tries and fails to cover the microphone to keep it from picking up her "We need to talk."
- The Russian song Million scarlet roses is about an artist who fell in a love with an actress who loved flowers. So he sold his house and his paintings and bought millions of scarlet roses, turning the square in front of her window into a sea of flowers. It's actually based on a legend about the Georgian painter Niko Pirosmani.
- In Kurugaya's route in Little Busters!, she doesn't seem to catch on that he likes her no matter how obvious he makes it, so he ends up resorting to these to get through to her. It culminates in he and his friends setting up a single, enormous firework and bringing her up into the top levels of the school at night so the two of them can see it exploding right outside the window. And yet she still doesn't figure out what he's trying to tell her, leading Riki to just give up trying to be romantic and tell her outright.
- Magical Diary sees Damien (if you pick his path) writing you offers of anything he can think of that you might want. This includes jewels, silk dresses, a seat in the government, and world conquest or the death of your enemies. He later apologizes for the last one, musing that it would probably be wrong - unless you wanted him to, but he admits that he doesn't actually know how to be 'good'. "But for you, I would try." Possibly just played with, in that the game (as it currently stands) does not let you see if he would actually go through with any of this.
Mary Sue: I bet he'd kill people for me, if I asked him to! ...oh dear. He probably would, too.
- In Penny and Aggie, on Valentine's Day, Duane, who's been platonically seeing Penny, fills his student council presidential office with elaborate romantic decorations, and presents her with lingerie, chocolates and a "Valentine's villanelle." Unfortunately for him, Penny has been contemplating breaking up with him for some time because she feels no physical attraction to him, and his over-the-top gesture is what finally leads her to tell him it's over.
- Subverted when James recites a sonnet to Eponine in Roommates. A morally ambiguous Anthropomorphic Personification of the Theory of Narrative Causality proceeds to spend a lot of time and effort making the line "And I would trade the place of kings" reality, resulting in what appears to be a fan-favourite character Killed Off for Real in a comic where Nobody Can Die.
- In the Homestar Runner cartoon "In Search of the Yellow Dellow", Homestar doesn't know what to get Marzipan as a present, and Coach Z has some advice:
Coach Z: Don't just get her a flower. Get her some rare flower from the tallest mountain! That way she knows how much she means to ya!
- This page explains why not to attempt this in Real Life.
- The Onion has a great article parodying the rom-com gesture.
- The DuckTales episode "Full Metal Attraction" is full of them, as Fenton Crackshell's over the top grand romantic gestures drive Gandra Dee to distraction:
Singing Chocolates:Oh, we're the singing chocolates,As sweet as we can be,Fenton gives his love,To his sugar Gandra Dee!Gandra: Oh, Fenton, you shouldn't have done it!
- He fills her house with bouquets of roses. Unfortunately, Gandra Dee is allergic to Roses.
- He buy lunch for her at work, in the blue collar Duckburg Bean Factory. The lunch is a candlelit gourmet meal, complete with a mariachi band for musical accompaniment.
- He hires the "Singing Chocolates" to give Gandra Dee an enormous amount of candy:
- Fenton later buys Gandra Dee a two-story cake "with chocolate frosting, marshmallow topping and aluminum siding."
- Fenton isn't the only one in the episode with grand romantic gestures. To declare her love for Gizmoduck, Robotica first paints R Loves G on Scrooge's money bin. Later, she attempts to destroy the money bin (and kill Gandra Dee) in an anguished declaration of love.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Question Authority," Superman takes Lois on a picnic date... on top of a suspension bridge.
- A Valentine's Day Episode of The Simpsons had Apu doing a series of these for Manjula. Homer and the other husbands tried to sabotage them becauses they couldn't compete with him. And in the process of sabotaging the latest one, the other husbands accidentally performs one for their wives.
- Later, the episode "Let's Go Fly a Coot" lampshades this with Bart catching up to Milhouse's e-cigarette smoking cousin Annika as she was about to board a plane home. She thinks Bart is about to do one of these, calling it "so American." What happens however is quite different.
- In the Futurama episode "Time Keeps on Slippin'," Fry and Leela get married after Fry does something incredibly romantic for her. The problem: Because of the random time slips plaguing the episode, neither of them remember what it is he did for her, and she demands a divorce. In the end, he rediscovers what he did: Rearrange a bunch of stars to say "I love you, Leela". Unfortunately, the romantic gesture is blown up before she sees it again.
- Tying in with the Cracked example above, Batman: The Animated Series brought us the actions Jervis Tetch used to woo his Alice. Including, but not limited to - brainwashing a pair of thugs to go jump off a bridge to impress her with his bravery when they're about to get mugged; brainwashing the Maitre'd of a restaurant (as well as the rest of the staff) into getting them a seat and the romantic usuals (violin/flowers/etc.). After she reconciled with her boyfriend the same night, though, he uses brainwashing to break them up again, then does the "extravagant Flower surprise" in her house... which he didn't have a key for. Alice is, understandably, creeped out - but mostly because Jervis had no way of knowing that the two had broken up.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): In "The Bitter Rose", Orko goes after the Flower from the Mountaintop to prove his love for Dree'Elle. Initially it causes problems for everyone until it's revealed he did something unexpectedly beneficial, after all.
- The Gravity Falls episode "The Hand that Rocks the Mabel" shows the dark side of this trope when Gideon uses Grand Romantic Gestures to pressure Mabel into continuing to go out with him, doing things like training a parrot to squawk out an invitation to a dance, or setting off fireworks that spell out her name.
- Posthumous example: In life, Jack Benny was known for being extremely stingy with his money. After his death, one of the clauses in his will was to have a fresh rose delivered to his widow every day for as long as she lived.