More Than Words: Putting A Little Oomph Behind “I Love You”


“That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying ‘As you wish,’ what he meant was, ‘I love you.’ ”
–The Princess Bride

Those three little words are great and all, but some of my favorite romantic moments involve fictional characters expressing their feelings without actually saying them! Whether it’s a look, a touch or an exasperated lecture some pairs get those messy, wonderful, emotions across with more than just the basic brass tacks of a traditional declaration.

So, without further ado, here are five “As You Wish”-style scenes that never fail to get to me!

1. Criminal Minds‘ Morgan (Shemar Moore) is driving an ambulance rigged to explode, as his best friend Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) is forced to listen: The sheer relief from both of them after he survives the explosion is what’s truly incendiary, and I don’t know if there’s a more stunning declaration of love than “you are my God-given solace.” These two have been friends-who-flirt for ages, but it was this scene that underscored how much deeper their bond really is.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Spike (James Marsters) seeing Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) alive for the first time after her death at the end of season five said it all, but then he followed it up by remembering how he couldn’t keep her from sacrificing herself: “Every night, I save you,” to me, is shorthand for how moving and effective their dyfunctional frenemy relationship could have been if the rest of season six hadn’t torpedoed it.

3. Pushed to the limit, Chasing Liberty‘s Ben (Matthew Goode) tells Anna (Mandy Moore) how he really feels after following her all over Europe: This is one of my favorite romantic comedies, and the build of Ben and Anna’s relationship is so much fun because you get to watch by-the-book Ben grow increasingly more befuddled by spoiled free spirit Anna. So, when he finally busts out with how he’s “un-bloody-hinged” just being near her, you believe it.

4. Doctor Who‘s Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his Companion, Rose (Billie Piper) are devastated when Rose gets trapped in an alternate universe. Or, as I like to call it, “Best Use of Wall In a Drama Series”: Doctor Who has a long and storied history, and bringing in a romantic element is a constant source of fannish drama. But Rose, the Doctor’s first Companion after the show’s reboot, certainly had a significant impact. For me, this scene encapsulated how much they came to mean to each other: Even as a wall separates them, their own walls have been torn down.

5. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai‘s Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) promised his dying wife he would never shed another tear, but when his true love, Anjali (Kajol), is set to marry another, he can’t help but cry. (This clip cuts out how Anjali’s self-sacrificing fiancé calls off the wedding.) Men in Indian cinema are never afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. Shahrukh Khan’s expressive abilities in particular are famous the world over — he even parodied his penchant for melodrama in his film Om Shanti Om — but Rahul’s anguish in KKHH holds a special place in my heart, because he and Anjali speak volumes without words.

What are some of your favorite nontraditional “I love you”s?

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