Having a fine dinner with your beloved is one means of romance, but for some reason, having it lit by candles is the defining aspect of its romance. The warm, dim and localized light source of candles in a darkened room softens the lovers' complexions, obscures their imperfections, and provides an intimate ambiance free of distractions. It also helps that fire is often used to symbolize passion and romance.
A frequent subverted example is when the wife makes a romantic dinner for her husband when he comes home, except he doesn't come home for some reason (working late, out with the guys, being attacked by supervillains, etc.). He eventually arrives to find candle stubs, a ruined dinner — often a roast which has turned into a hard lump due to overcooking — and a pissed-off wife that he didn't know he pissed off.
Compare and contrast Breakfast in Bed.
- The famous spaghetti dinner scene between the title characters in Disney's Lady and the Tramp is lit by candlelight.
- In an episode of Barney Miller a woman is robbed by a man she met through a dating service; amongst her stolen valuables are a pair of silver candleholders she had set up for the dinner she was cooking for him.
- In Better Call Saul, Chuck sets up a romantic candlelit dinner with his ex-wife, claiming that the electricity went out so he decided to make an event of it. In reality, he hadn't been using electricity for some time due to a psychosomatic illness, but didn't want her to find out.
- One episode of Falling Skies had Pope treat Sara to his best approximation of a candlelight dinner. Given how hard such things are to arrange during the late stages of an alien invasion, she was naturally charmed by it.
- Friends: In "The One With Unagi", Monica tries to repay Chandler's romantic mix-tape with a romantic dinner, the apartment lit with candles as a cherry on top. Then Janice's voice pops up on the mix-tape, Monica realizes Chandler didn't make the tape, and the romantic mood is gone.
- Good Omens (2019): Crowley and Aziraphale often enjoy romantic dinners.
- Most notably in 1941.
- Also, surprisingly, Gabriel and Beelzebub.
- House of Anubis:
- Mick, after his temporary absence and his rocky relationship with Mara, decides to take her on a fancy candlelit dinner date...in his bedroom. Jerome takes advantage of this by telling Victor about the fire-hazard, leading to the candles being snuffed, but Mick and Mara just end up laughing about it.
- In Season 2, Nina and Fabian attempt to have a date in the attic, complete with two small candles. When the moment is ruined, however, Fabian is forced to angrily blow out the candles and pack up. Later, his dream of dating Nina includes a large, lit, candelabra on the table.
- How I Met Your Father: In "The Jersey Connection" Charlie and Val take up a restaurant reservation made when they were still dating because of its exclusivity. They're determined to make it platonic, only to learn that the ambiance is incredibly romantic.
Val: Can we handle it?
Charlie: I can. In this soft, flickering candlelight, you look... pretty ugly.
- Total Recall 2070: In episode 4, David arrives home late to find his dinner cold and his upset wife Olivia putting out the candles she prepared. However, he really did have a good reason: he was delayed because he had to handle a jumper that he unfortunately could not save, so Olivia forgets about the ruined evening and comforts him.
- In the Garfunkel and Oates song "Me, You and Steve", the protagonist has several...dates?...interrupted by Steve, her boyfriend's friend. Among these dates is a candlelit dinner.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Cassandra's Romance Sidequest culminates in her admitting that she really wants an "ideal romance", which to her, includes "flowers and poetry by candlelight". If you want to continue wooing her, you have to purchase or otherwise obtain all those things and organize a perfect romantic picnic for her.
- On her romantic path in Melody, the title character serves one of these for the protagonist and herself on the roof of her apartment building.
- In Doc Rat, Doc recommends it -- and the bird takes his wife out for a candlelit dinner on a buffalo's back.
- A couple of examples from The Order of the Stick:
- Roy and Celia have just such a date.
- The "neglected" variant shows up in a flashback for Vaarsuvius: their spouse went to great effort to arrange just such a dinner (sending the children on a visit to their grandparents, cooking a special meal, and setting the table appropriately), only for an oblivious Vaarsuvius to instead use the children's absence as an opportunity to study.
- The Fairly OddParents! in the season one episode, "Apartnership!" Timmy had set up a romantic anniversary dinner for Mom and Dad, but they end up waiting for hours until finally Timmy comes back with their "dinner", which is a mushy cereal and sugar concoction.
- Family Guy: in the episode "Mind over Murder", Lois prepares Peter's favorite meal with a candlelit setting in an attempt to cheer him up during his house arrest, but Peter forgot about the date and spent the entire evening building a bar in the basement leaving Lois waiting all night.
- Final Space: In "The Closer You Get", Tribore and Shannon share a dinner like this on the Crimson Light.
- Hey Arnold!: One episode has Suzie Kokoshka finally throw her husband Oskar out of the apartment. Arnold, and the rest of the boarders attempt to try to get Oskar and Suzie back together by setting up a candlelit dinner on the roof of the boardinghouse.
- The Powerpuff Girls: In the episode "Keen on Keane", the girls set up the Professor and their teacher Ms. Keane on a blind date and tell them to meet at a "romantic" restaurant for Valentine's Day. They arrive in formal attire and awkwardly sit down at a candlelit table...in the middle of a Suck E. Cheese's.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants: In one episode Mr. Krabs falls in love with Mrs. Puff, and ends up asking her out for a date at a fancy restaurant - the romantic atmosphere brings them closer as a couple, but the bill was expensive and the worry of spending more money sets off the plot of the episode.
- Time Squad in season 2 episode "Ex Marks the Spot", Tuddrussel invites his ex wife Sheila to go grab something to eat, horrifying his robot partner Larry who in a paranoid rage believes that this rekindling will set them off to falling in love again. At the fancy French restaurant, the table is set for two with candlelighting as they dine together, further driving Larry into jealousy.