The 25 Most Iconic TV Proposals

Take a trip down small-screen memory lane by replaying the best engagement scenes

Updated 09/22/14

Photos (clockwise from top right): Getty Images; Courtesy Neal Peters Collection (3)

You'll always remember your own proposal, but we re also willing to bet that you'll always remember a few engagements that happened in your favorite TV shows, too. After all, you become invested in the lives — particularly the love lives — of your favorite characters, and root for them to find their happy ending.

Some shows leave you hanging until the very end, culminating in that one big moment, while others gave us nearly one breathtaking, awe-inspiring proposal per season. But no matter how long it took our favorite characters to finally get down on one knee, our hearts inevitably skip a beat when that stunning engagement ring is revealed and the somehow perfectly chosen music starts to swell.

With so many shows to choose from, narrowing down the 25 most iconic TV proposals was no easy feat. There were the proposals that happened more than once (or three times if you re Meredith and Derek from Grey s Anatomy) and those proposals you waited nine frustratingly long seasons for like Ted and Robin in How I Met Your Mother. There were those proposals that were never meant to happen like Joey and Rachel from Friends and the characters that were fated to come together all along like Jim and Pam from The Office.

And sure, there were some of the least romantic, but most memorable proposals ever, too — we re still cringing at Charlotte and Trey s alrighty moment from Sex and the City.

Whether or not these couples lived happily ever after (or even until the series finale!) hardly matters, since these dramatic, funny, or sweet proposal moments will be seared in our brains forever.

Pull up YouTube now, because we have a strong feeling you re about to take a trip down memory lane. Click through to see 25 of our all-time favorite TV proposals.

01 of 25

Will and Emma, Glee

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Just as Emma (Jayma Mays) Pillsbury was setting up her "So You're A Spinster" brochures, Will (Matthew Morrison) takes her hand and brings her to the pool, where he and their students serenade her with "We Found Love" and a synchronized swimming routine. It's so charming that even Sue (Jane Lynch) can't be mean (for a moment, anyway) and gives Emma a rose. After the song, Will swims across the pool in a white tuxedo to Emma, and drips all over her through his lovely proposal speech.

02 of 25

Corey and Topanga, Boy Meets World

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Long before they became parents in their new Girl Meets World spinoff, Corey (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) sit at their high school graduation, trying to figure out what to do with their lives. Mr. Feeny (William Daniels) advises Topanga she needs "a really good reason not to go to Yale," which she decides is Corey. While their classmates are receiving their diplomas, she proposes to him. (Side note: Why doesn't it cross her mind that she can marry Corey and go to Yale?)

03 of 25

Chandler and Monica, Friends

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Just as Chandler (Matthew Perry) is about to propose, Monica's (Courteney Cox) ex, Richard (Tom Selleck), walks into the same restaurant and declares his love for her. To throw Monica off from knowing he was about to pop the question, Chandler then pretends he's not interested in marriage at all. Undeterred, Monica fills her apartment with candles and proposes to Chandler, who mid-way through takes over and proposes to her. Of course, Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) are waiting outside the door to celebrate.

04 of 25

Liz and Criss, 30 Rock

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More practical than romantic, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is pissed when her crappy ex Dennis (Dean Winters) can more easily adopt because he's married. "We might as well be married," Liz tells her boyfriend Criss (James Marsden), and he simply says, "So let's do it." So, not down on one knee or with a diamond ring, but that was never in Liz Lemon's dreams. In keeping up the non-traditional but totally awesome theme, they register at Popcorn Palace, and she wears a Princess Leia costume to the wedding — natch.

05 of 25

Kelly and Brandon, Beverly Hills, 90210

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Kelly (Jennie Garth) is faced with the world's toughest decision in the show's fifth season: marry reliable nice guy Brandon (Jason Priestley), or run off on a trip around the world with bad boy Dylan (Luke Perry). She turns down both, saying "I choose me." A few seasons later, she picks Brandon ... and then cancels the wedding and reunites with Dylan.

06 of 25

Carrie and Aidan, Sex and the City

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Bending down to pretend to clean up after his dog Pete, Aidan (John Corbett) holds out the black velvet ring box; the ugly ring she hated is gone and a perfectly-simple square-cut one is in its place. "There's no one I could love more. I want to live my life with you. What do you think?" he asks, and when she says yes, he lets out an adorable happy laugh of relief. Mr. Big who?

07 of 25

Barney and Robin, How I Met Your Mother

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Wait for it...ah-mazing! Womanizing Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) finally realizes he has feelings for Robin (Cobie Smulders), and tricks everyone into thinking he's proposing to Patrice (Ellen D. Williams), Robin's employee. Yet when Robin goes to the roof to stop the proposal, she finds "The Robin," a long-con from Barney's playbook about how he's going to get Robin. It's classic, manipulative Barney, but it works and she accepts!

08 of 25

Chuck and Blair, Gossip Girl

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She's the Queen Bee and he's a conniving bad boy who's treated her like a queen at times, and terribly at others. Yet Blair (Leighton Meester) and Chuck (Ed Westwick) can't stay away from each other. It seems he's finally reformed when he takes the (massive) Harry Winston diamond ring he gave her that she's been wearing on a necklace and gets down on one knee.

09 of 25

Sam and Diane, Cheers

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Always teasing and bickering, they're the classic love-hate relationship. When Sam (Ted Danson) proposes to Diane (Shelley Long) by phone, she turns him down, saying she wants him to do it right. So he sets up the perfect (in-person) evening, and she still turns him down! Don't worry, she realizes in the following episode her growing feelings for him, before ultimately leaving the show ... causing him to re-start the same dynamic with his new boss Rebecca (Kirstie Alley).

10 of 25

Jules and Grayson, Cougar Town

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Who knew what started as friends with benefits could turn into true love? When we left the two, they were fighting over whether they wanted kids, so it was quite a surprise that in the next season's premiere, Grayson (Josh Hopkins) is proposing. Though Jules (Courteney Cox) turned down the proposal of former TV love Chandler (Matthew Perry) as a guest-starring millionaire, she wisely accepts Grayson's proposal: outside, at night, under a toilet-paper-strewn tree.

11 of 25

Matt and Julie, Friday Night Lights

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We rooted for them almost as hard as for the Dillon Panthers! The former quarterback's proposal to the coach's daughter isn't quite a "can't lose" situation. Julie (Aimee Teegarden) is angry at Matt (Zach Gilford) for not telling her he'd be home from Chicago for Christmas, but when he proposes with his beloved grandmother's ring in front of their favorite burger joint, she cries and says yes.

12 of 25

Michael and Holly, The Office

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Michael Scott (Steve Carell), the man with the World's Best Boss mug, of course wants to do the World's Best Proposal, but instead of spending three months' salary on a ring, he mistakenly spent three years' worth, and nearly burns down the office with his first attempt. He gets several Dunder-Mifflin employees to propose to Holly (Amy Ryan) (she turns all of them down), then leads her to her desk, covered in candles, and gets down on his knee. The sprinklers go off from the candles, drenching everyone, and he proposes in a silly Yoda voice; she says yes and they plan to move to Colorado.

13 of 25

Dexter and Rita, Dexter

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Proof that even serial killers need love, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) surprises Rita (Julie Benz) in front of her two kids and says, "We're connected. Wherever I am, I feel you. You're what makes me real." He gives a wonderful speech about knowing he wants to marry her, and her kids, because their pizza night is the highlight of his week. After Rita's untimely demise, we're just glad he didn't end up with sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter)! Though they can't tie the knot legally because they're hiding from the law, Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), a fellow killer, is likely a better match.

14 of 25

Matthew and Lady Mary, Downton Abbey

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First he loved her and she didn't think he was worthy; then she loved him and he'd moved on to Lavinia. By the time Matthew (Dan Stevens) finally proposes to Mary (Michelle Dockery), in the snow on Christmas day, it's clearly not about saving an inheritance but time-tested, true love.

15 of 25

Ted and Robin, How I Met Your Mother

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From the first time he spots Robin (Cobie Smulders) at the bar, Ted (Josh Radnor) knows something's special, telling Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), "I'm going to marry that girl." Yet she sees them as just friends, later proposing that they marry at 40 if they're both still single. So, Ted asks Robin to be his back-up wife. It's a joke that comes true! The series finale reveals that after his first wife passes away, Ted asks his children for permission to be with "Aunt Robin."

16 of 25

Niles and Daphne, Frasier

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After Niles (David Hyde Pierce) plans an entire romantic night out for the perfect proposal, it's canceled when Daphne (Jane Leeves) comes down with the flu. Still, that won't deter him. "From your beautiful toes to your crusty nose, there's not an inch of you that I don't adore," he says. Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), for his part, is hiding in the other room, trying to shuffle out the band they've hired to play, while witnessing the much more humble, but much sweeter, proposal.

17 of 25

Rachel and Joey, Friends

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We all know that Rachel is supposed to be with Ross. But while Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) is in labor about to give birth to her and Ross's (David Schwimmer) daughter, Joey (Matt LeBlanc) accidentally proposes to Rachel thanks to a misunderstanding. Meanwhile, Ross was getting ready to talk to her their future together! Why Rachel accepts is anybody's guess (estrogen surge?), but it's one engagement we're glad got quickly sorted out and called off!

18 of 25

Derek and Meredith, Grey's Anatomy

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McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) lives up to his name when he invites Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) into an elevator he's completely covered in memories: scans from the first surgery they worked on together, another one they first kissed after, one where he knew she'd be a great surgeon, and so on. "I'm not going to get down on one knee," he says. (Bold!) "I'm not going to ask a question." He then confesses his love and says he wants to spend his life with her; she says the same and they kiss in the elevator.

19 of 25

Leslie and Ben, Parks and Recreation

Courtesy of NBC

These two local government nerds prove they couldn't be more perfect for each other when Ben (Adam Scott) surprises Leslie (Amy Poehler) and proposes. In typical Knope fashion, she interrupts him twice during the proposal, saying, "No, no, no. Hold on. I need another second, please. I need to remember every little thing about how perfect my life is at this exact moment," before saying yes. The best way to celebrate this union? Waffles at JJ's!

20 of 25

Jerry and Elaine, Seinfeld

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Though they'd tried being together before to poor results, Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) realizes what he wants most has been right in front of him the whole time. Totally oblivious and distracted, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) shoves a banana in her mouth as Jerry asks her to marry him. George (Jason Alexander) barrels in mid-proposal, sees Jerry down on one knee and says, "What's wrong with your leg?" Without answering Jerry, Elaine frantically runs away. Later, she says she changes her mind and wants to be with Jerry, but he says, "I tell ya, I don't see it happening." Friends forever!

21 of 25

Harry and Charlotte, Sex and the City

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They've broken up, and run into each other at a Jewish singles mixer of "fatties and baldies." Charlotte (Kristin Davis) admits she misses and loves Harry (Evan Handler), and says, "I don't care if you ever marry me — I just want to be with you ... if you could just ask me out again, or call me?" He gets down on one knee, saying, "That's not good enough," and proposes right there, making him the best baldie around.

22 of 25

Summer and Seth, The O.C

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With a pet rabbit and an unchecked pregnancy test sitting a few feet away, Seth (Adam Brody) tells Summer (Rachel Bilson) he wants to be with her either way, and proposes with an eyeball-shaped ring. "Are you insane?" she asks. After the pregnancy test is revealed to be negative, he promises a skeptical-looking Summer that it "saves us from having to have a shotgun wedding ... now we can just have a normal wedding instead."

23 of 25

Ted and Stella, How I Met Your Mother

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Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), the consummate romantic, was always looking for love, and Stella (Sarah Chalke), a funny, gorgeous doctor and mother to a young daughter, seems a perfect candidate for the show's titular mother. Ted proposes to her in an arcade, holding a stuffed animal, surrounded by screaming children. Though it was brutal to watch Stella later leave him at the altar, it was a boon for diehard Robin-and-Ted fans.

24 of 25

Mike and Phoebe, Friends

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Everything Mike (Paul Rudd) tries is a cliché: first, he tries to propose on the Jumbotron at a basketball game. When that doesn't work, he takes Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) out for a fancy dinner and hides the ring in the cake. She promises she'll say yes, no matter how bad his proposal is, even if it's something as lame as hiding it in the cake. He says, "I keep trying to propose in all these stupid ways and all I want to do is tell you I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you." She stops him so she can take off all her other many rings, then happily accepts.

25 of 25

Jim and Pam, The Office

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Cutest thing Jim (John Krasinski) ever did? Maybe when he fakes Pam (Jenna Fischer) out that he's proposing when he's really just down on one knee to tie his shoes. Or maybe it was his actual proposal, at a gas station halfway between Scranton and New York City, in the pouring rain, where he wordlessly drops to one knee, because he just can't wait any longer.

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