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"Films like Saving Private Ryan, Alien and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - what would any of them be without a romantic core running through the story and the gentle ballads, smooth soul sounds and roaring rock anthems that go with them? Exactly. It's hard to imagine what that would be like...

Ok, so those three movies aren't great examples, but the point still stands. A large percentage of movies feature a love plot somewhere and at the same time a large percentage of songs are all about love and its many facets."
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So your favorite couple is in the middle of a deeply romantic scene. The camera zooms, the lighting is perfect, and the music swells up. Chances are, the music playing is the couple's love theme. May also be designated as such in official soundtracks.

This music can take on several forms, depending on the characters involved, the setting, and the story moment when it is played. It may play over a deeply romantic scene like The Big Damn Kiss or a Grand Romantic Gesture. However, it may also be played over a breakup, a Last Kiss, or when one lover dies in the other's arms. Many themes end up as both a CMoH and a tear jerker at some point. In musical theater, such a theme is likely to show up as Duet Bonding and then repeat instrumentally.

Compare Love at First Note, Dance of Romance, Duet Bonding, and Falling-in-Love Montage.

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Subtrope of Leitmotif.

Not to be confused with themed love.


Examples

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     Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Nix in the Mill-Pond", the heroine plays a tune on a magic flute that temporarily allows her to see her husband. When they have separated again, they don't recognize each other until he plays the same tune on his own flute.

    Film (Animated) 

    Film (Live-Action) 
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Close Your Eyes" is Buffy and Angel's theme, and one of the themes that manages to be epically romantic and utterly heartbreaking at various points in the series. It makes a return appearance in the spinoff Angel when Buffy makes her inevitable appearance.
    • This bit from part of the score 'Chosen' can also be considered Spike and Buffy's theme, as many variations of this melody has been played whenever they shared a moment.
  • Although only heard once in its entirety, fragments of "Jack's Love Theme" from Torchwood appear in other romantic scenes, notably Jack/Ianto ones.
  • Fringe's Peter and Olivia have variation on "Love in the Time of Crossing Over". The central fragment also resurfaces in Season 4's "Together Again For the Very First Time."
  • Several of the couples on Downton Abbey have their own themes, most notably "Such Good Luck" for Matthew and Mary and "Emancipation" for Tom and Sybil. Both take on Dark Reprises when used after Matthew and Sybil's deaths.
  • On Doctor Who, "Rose's Theme" later doubles as the theme for Rose and the love theme for her and the Doctor.
  • Merlin gives us "Gwen and Arthur" as a recurring motif for the future King and Queen's love story.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) had "Roslin and Adama", a Celtic-inspired waltz. Composer Bear McCreary called it the only true love theme of the show. It comes back as both "Roslin and Adama Reunited" (in heartwarming fashion) and "So Much Life" (in utterly heartbreaking fashion).
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The Road to True Love which covers parts of Snow White and Prince Charming's story.
    • Rumpelstiltskin in Love is a more somber piece, reflecting his often troubled relationship with Belle.
    • Although not part of the official released soundtrack, whenever Emma and Hook share a moment, there's a high chance this theme will be playing.
  • On Glee, Kurt and Blaine have their own piano theme that plays during many poignant moments in their relationship. A variation of it is playing when Blaine proposes to Kurt.
  • Call the Midwife has the lovely instrumental piece "The Letter" for Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette.
  • Hannibal has "Love Crime" as the official love theme for Will and Hannibal. It's played in their final scene together. An instrumental tune that sounds like part of that song can also be heard at other crucial points in season three, for example at the end of Antipasto when the heart sculpture for Will is first displayed in the church, or at the end of The Great Red Dragon when Hannibal and Will meet again for the first time after three years.
  • In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the instrumental to "West Covina" starts playing during romantic-type scenes between Rebecca and Josh. However, if it's between Rebecca and Greg, the instrumental of "Settle for Me" starts playing.
  • Rebelde Way is littered with romantic songs everywhere, but the main ones used for the two main couples are "Te Soñé", and "Amor de Engaño" for Mia and Manuel, while "Será de Dios", "Dos Segundos" and "Dije Adiós" are for Pablo and Marizza. Sometimes the songs and couples could overlap, though.
  • In Poldark, Demelza sings a love song called "Love Is Long" to Hugh. The instrumental version plays softly in the background for most of their romantic scenes.
  • NCIS has an interesting variant. Tony and Ziva get two themes. One is a short leitmotif, the other is a the second half of a bit of score entitled "Aliyah." The score was used in a season 6 episode of the same name, but oddly not during a Tony/Ziva moment. However, it was adopted and can be heard in the background of emotional Tiva scenes from seasons 7-11.
    • In season 13's "Family First," both the leitmotif and "Aliyah" are used as the Simple Score of Sadness when they play over scenes of Tony being reminded of Ziva and Tony bonding with their daughter, both after Ziva's supposed death. Cue the waterworks.
    • In season 17, after it's revealed that Ziva is alive, both can be heard when Ziva talks about Tali and Tony across multiple episodes. "Aliyah," it seems, is slowly becoming Tali's theme, as in both "Family First" and in "Out of the Darkness," it plays when her parents are discussing or interacting with her.
  • Game of Thrones has "I Am Hers, She Is Mine", first used in Season 2. It's primarily used as Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr's love theme, but it's occasionally applied to other couples including Tyrion and Shae, Maester Aemon recalling the girl he loved and in the final episode it's played as Brienne is writing down the deeds of Jaime Lannister. The title comes from the traditional marriage vows of the Faith of the Seven.
    • Jon Snow and Ygritte's theme from Season 3 is "You Know Nothing".
    • Seasons 7 and 8 feature "Truth" and variations of it as the love theme of both Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow and Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
  • The Flash has two for Barry and Iris. An instrumental theme called I Will Wait For You, and later a vocal theme sung by Barry to Iris during his proposal, Running Home To You, which Kara later sang during their wedding for Iris' trek down the aisle.
  • Law & Order: Organized Crime has a love theme for Benson and Stabler. It has been played a handful of times throughout the series so far during moments involving the two of them, starting with Elliot’s Love Confession in season one.
  • Our Flag Means Death has Gnossienne No. 5 for Ed and Stede, playing in several emotional or romantic scenes between them, including their Big Damn Kiss.
  • Legion: "She's a Rainbow" by The Rolling Stones is used a love theme for two couples: David Haller & Sydney Barrett, and Charles Xavier & his girlfriend/wife Gabrielle.

    Music 

    Theater 
  • The Disney version of Aida, "Elaborate Lives" serves as Radames and Aida's love theme. It recurs as a Dark Reprise near the end when they're dying in the tomb.
  • Les Misérables has "A Heart Full of Love", which is Marius and Cosette's big love duet. However it only re-appears once and different themes are used for their other scenes together, so there isn't as strong an association as there might be.
  • The Phantom of the Opera's "All I Ask of You" between Raoul and Christine, with a reprise later by the Phantom.
  • The Student Prince has "Deep In My Heart, Dear," reprised in all four acts.
  • "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific.
  • The Cat and the Fiddle has two themes heard in all of Victor and Shirley's important romantic scenes: a cadential theme based on descending fourths and octaves, and the slowly ascending melody of the song "One Moment Alone," which undergoes several transformations.
  • Motifs from "Falling Into You" and "One Second and a Million Miles" underscore Robert and Francesca's affair in The Bridges of Madison County.

    Video Games 

     Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, a slow trumpet tune plays over scenes of romantic and/or sexual bonding.

     Western Animation 
  • As per Word of God the music playing over the finale moments of The Legend of Korra were specifically crafted to evoke this, in order to make the Relationship Upgrade between Korra and Asami more obvious since they couldn't show a kiss.
  • Variations on "Stronger Than You" tend to play in poignant moments between Ruby and Sapphire in Steven Universe. There's also the ending credits, "Love Like You".
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Promise represents Adora and Catra's relationship. It plays a total of four times and always signifies important changes in the relationship between the two either the breaking or reconciliation of their friendship and mostly poignantly in their confession and kiss.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, there are three if them. ''In The Rain'' plays during the two Umbrella of Togetherness scenes of Marinette and Adrien. The second was first played ironically when Cat noir tried to kiss Ladybug in Prime Queen. But later, it's played each time Marinette and Adrien share a Dance of Romance (in "Despair Bear", in the New York special in front of the moon, and in the Alternate Timeline of "Cat Blanc" where they are an Official Couple.)The third tends to play in scenes that involve whether Ladybug/Cat noir or Marinette/Adrien.
  • The Owl House:
    • After "Enchanting Grom Fright", in which Amity is revealed to have a crush on Luz, a tender romantic tune can be heard during some moments between them, especially once Luz develops her own feelings for Amity, and when Hooty tries to set them up and manages to initiate a Relationship Upgrade between.
    • Seeing as the latter is a bard, Eda and Raine have the in-universe "Eda's Requiem", which is significantly more melancholic due to their relationship having already fallen apart by the present day. We do however hear its more cheerful variant "Raine's Rhapsody" during flashbacks, including the first time they met.
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