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The Best Last Kisses In Movies

All good things must come to an end, including movie love stories, and there's no better way to go out than with a final kiss that fans remember long after they forget the plot. But the kisses on this list aren't just kisses that come right before the credits roll. These are the last kisses two characters exchange before death, fate, or a change of heart pulls them apart forever. 

Some kisses come in the gap between a relationship and its breakup. Many of them come right before (or after) one character dies. Some are public, others are private. Some are big and dramatic, others small. Most come with tears ... either the characters' or ours. Not all of them are the most famous kiss from their movie, but all of them tell us something about the characters, the story, and the complexities of love. Say hello to the best last kisses in movies.

Susan Sarandon surprised Ridley Scott with that Thelma & Louise kiss

Not all excellent final movie kisses are between lovers. For example, take Thelma & Louise.

Best friends Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) leave the former's controlling husband behind for a fun weekend. Instead, they end up murdering a would-be rapist, going on the run, picking up a drifter whom Thelma sleeps with, robbing a convenience store, and blowing up a truck.

But the best final kiss in this movie isn't between Thelma and said drifter, J.D. (Brad Pitt), or between Louise and her on/off boyfriend. It's between the two female leads. Parked in front of the Grand Canyon with a motorcade of cops behind them, they decide to, as Thelma says, "keep going." Before Louise drives them over the edge, the two kiss goodbye.

Unlike many movie kisses between women, it's not salacious or played to titillate straight male audience members. It's just a moment of true love between two friends. In the 20th anniversary edition Blu-ray commentary, Sarandon took credit. "I had mentioned to Geena that I was going to kiss her, but I don't think Ridley [Scott, the director] knew," she said. Fortunately for movie kiss history, he got it.

This kiss in Gladiator humanized and motivated a warrior

Last kisses in movies tend to come with tragedy. Gladiator takes that rule to its heart-rending extreme.

Hispano-Roman soldier Maximus (Russell Crowe) faithfully serves the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), who selects him to be his heir over his own son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). So Commodus murders his father before the decision becomes official. When Maximus refuses to serve him, Commodus has him arrested. Maximus escapes and rides home to his wife and son, only to find that they and everyone else on their farm have been murdered. Maximus tearfully kisses his wife's scorched feet before collapsing. He's then kidnapped by a slave trader and sold to a gladiator trainer, but he swears that he will exact revenge on Commodus.

Supported by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard's powerful and devastating score, this scene is the heart of a movie full of epic fight sequences. It reminds us that behind Maximus's soldierly exterior, he's just a man who loves his wife and son. The deaths of his family become the driving force behind his actions in the rest of the movie. It's only after he's killed Commodus that he succumbs to his own wounds, knowing that he's completed his mission and can reunite with his family in the afterlife.

Titanic gives us two emotional final kisses

We knew going into Titanic that a lot of characters would be saying difficult goodbyes before the end. Over 1,500 people died in the real disaster, after all. Yet you can't help getting emotionally invested in the romance between society girl Rose (Kate Winslet) and broke artist Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The couple's last kiss isn't their most iconic. That honor goes to the make-out session on the bow. In fact, even determining which is technically their last kiss is tricky. Jack and Rose didn't have much time for PDAs when they were trying to survive a shipwreck. But after Jack has succumbed to the icy waters, Rose kisses his frozen hands in a final goodbye and promises to never let go.

She immediately lets go of Jack's body but never his memory, as proved by their other last kiss. The final scene of the movie shows Rose back on the Titanic, walking towards the first-class staircase where Jack waits. They're surrounded by other passengers who cheer when the couple kisses again. Is this a dream? Is Rose in an afterlife? The meaning of the scene is deliberately vague, but watching these two characters reunite after 83 years with a kiss for the ages will thaw even the iciest of hearts.

Moulin Rouge! broke our hearts but so beautifully

In Moulin Rouge!, the tragedy of the last kiss between tragically impoverished writer Christian (Ewan McGregor) and courtesan/aspiring actress Satine (Nicole Kidman) is that it follows a major victory for the couple. They've finally ousted Satine's controlling patron, the Duke (Richard Roxburgh), and delivered their vibrant, wild, Bohemian musical to Belle Époque Paris. But thanks to an opening scene featuring a devastated Christian, the audience has known all along that Satine was going to die. And by the time we reach the movie's grand musical finale, Satine also knows she has fatal consumption (although it doesn't stop her delivering impassioned musical numbers minutes before dying).

As Satine and Christian exit the stage, Satine collapses. The red confetti all around them evokes the blood she's been coughing up. We see Christian slowly realize what's happening. He holds her, kissing her tastefully sweat-beaded forehead as she begs him to tell their story. Their final scene brings together the fantastical Moulin Rouge! stylization with heartbreakingly authentic human drama. As writer and director Baz Luhrmann told The Guardian, it's all about "the transition of youthful idealism to when you realize that there are things bigger than you — people die, some relationships cannot be — and you are destroyed by that."

Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet reminded us of the danger of a kiss

If filmmakers were the easily dissuaded types, none would've ever bothered to write a final kiss because William Shakespeare wrote the ultimate version in around 1595. But 401 years after that, master of stylistic drama Baz Luhrmann decided to put a new spin on Shakespeare's version with Romeo + Juliet. The dialogue remained, but the swords became guns, characters wore aloha shirts, and a fish tank had a prominent part in the iconic couple's meet cute. Shakespeare suddenly became '90s cool, thanks in large part to Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, who breathed life into the iconic star-crossed lovers ... and then killed them on screen.

The CliffNotes version of the ending is that Romeo, believing that Juliet is dead, breaks into her tomb (where she's actually only sedated), intending to kill himself. Juliet wakes up just as he downs a deadly poison. Their final kiss is both a goodbye and her attempt to use any poison lurking on his lips to kill herself. Not finding any, and having watched him die in her arms, Juliet shoots herself with his gun.

Romeo's last words are, "Thus with a kiss I die." This morbid detail turns the hallmark of young love — a kiss — into a deadly weapon, just as the couple's forbidden love ultimately doomed them.

Shakespeare in Love went understated with its final kiss

Shakespeare in Love takes liberties with history and doesn't shy away from tongue-in-cheek humor, but the love story at the center feels absolutely authentic.

Wealthy Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow) is prevented from acting on the London stage by sexism and her social status. So she dresses up as a man and lands the starring role in a new play called Ethel the Pirate's Daughter by some mediocre playwright named Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes). Shakespeare falls in love at first (well, second) sight with Viola, and the two begin an affair after Shakespeare figures out that his leading actor and his crush are the same person. He starts writing what becomes Romeo and Juliet based on their relationship.

But it's doomed from the start. Viola is engaged to evil Lord Wessex (Colin Firth), and they're moving to Virginia. But even though they marry on the morning of the play, she rushes back to the theater. Through various circumstances, Shakespeare and Viola end up playing Romeo and Juliet, respectively. But when the play ends — to thunderous applause — they have to say goodbye.

The scene doesn't rely on dramatic music or even tears. We already know that the couple has only seconds together before they'll never see each other again. Viola kisses Will one more time, then leaves without looking back. The fact he writes Twelfth Night in her honor doesn't make up for the devastation.

Cold Mountain teased us with a fake happy ending

For an epic love story, Cold Mountain has very few kissing scenes, but it makes them count.

Ada (Nicole Kidman) is a fancy Charleston lady who falls for silent and sturdy country boy Inman (Jude Law) when she and her father move to Cold Mountain, North Carolina. In 1861, Inman goes to fight for the Confederacy in the Civil War (even though he supposedly doesn't believe in slavery). The two kiss passionately before he leaves, then spend the next three years apart, writing letters.

After a ferocious battle, Inman abandons the army and starts the long journey home. Meanwhile, Ada's father dies, and as she runs out of food, she has a vision of Inman falling in the snow. One day it comes true — but he's not falling, he's walking back to her. The two get reacquainted (euphemism intended), but the next day, Inman gets into a shootout with a Home Guardsman who's been pursuing Ada. He kills the man but is fatally wounded himself. Ada sees him collapse into the snow, as in the vision. She holds him as he dies, kissing his forehead and comforting him.

By the time you get to Inman and Ada's last kiss, we've watched both of them go through so much to reunite that it feels blisteringly unfair that they don't get a happy ending. Their doomed love tells the story of a million loves doomed by wartime and human cruelty.

Casper featured a unique first and last kiss

Not many teens have a ghost as a best friend, but in 1995's Casper, Kat (Christina Ricci) is used to being odd, thanks to her dad's paranormal investigations. As a result, she meets the ghost Casper (voiced by Malachi Pearson) when they move into his ancestral home, Whipstaff Manor. Although their initial meeting is awkward — she, understandably, faints — Casper wins over Kat and her dad, James (Bill Pullman). Casper has a crush on Kat even before they meet, thanks to a news report about James' work, but the whole being dead thing throws a wrench in the would-be romance.

However, in the basement, Kat and Casper discover the Lazarus machine, which Casper's father built to bring his son back to life. But there's only enough formula for one ghost-to-human transformation. And when James dies in an accident, Casper sacrifices his shot at resurrection so that Kat doesn't have to lose her dad. As a thanks, Kat's mom returns from the afterlife and makes Casper human (played by Devon Sawa) ... but only for the night of Kat's Halloween party. Casper dances with Kat, and they kiss, right as he turns back into his ghost form. It's sweet, it's sad, and it's also a little funny. What more could you ask of a final kiss?

Love Story made the cast and crew cry

One of the movies guaranteed to make anyone cry, Love Story had viewers ugly weeping even before it became a smash hit in theaters in 1970. As star Ali MacGraw told Town & Country, "At certain points while we were filming, we'd look up and see the crew crying." 

The eponymous love story is between sharp-tongued working class Radcliffe student Jenny (MacGraw) and upper-crust ice hockey-playing Harvard student Oliver (Ryan O'Neal). Over fierce debates and crumbling assumptions about how the other half loves, the two become inseparable. Unfortunately, Oliver's snobby family doesn't approve. When Jenny turns down the chance to go to Paris so the couple can marry, Oliver's dad cuts them off. Still, the two carry on. Jenny works as a teacher while Oliver attends Harvard Law School. He finally lands a job at a New York law firm ... but then finds out Jenny is terminally ill.

In their last conversation, Jenny tells Oliver not to blame himself for the fact she didn't go to Paris and says that their life together was worth more. Finally she asks him, "Would you please hold me?" He climbs onto her hospital bed and nuzzles into her neck. Watching two tough characters become so vulnerable in their last moments together would make even the hardiest cameraman — and moviegoer — sob.

Ghost's emotional last kiss made it a box-office sensation

The sexiest kiss in 1990's Ghost happens in that pottery scene. But the last kiss between Demi Moore's Molly and Patrick Swayze's Sam is by far the most emotionally impactful — maybe of all the movies that came out that year.

After being murdered by a mugger, Sam becomes a ghost. He can see his girlfriend Molly, but she doesn't know he's there. He then stumbles across a supposedly fake psychic, Oda Mae (Whoopi Goldberg), who can hear and see him. Oda Mae tries to convince Molly that she's communicating with Sam, but grief-stricken Molly is skeptical. Meanwhile, Sam learns to move physical objects with his ghostly energy, and eventually, he rescues Oda Mae and Molly from the man who had him killed.

Suddenly, Molly can see and hear Sam, too. He realizes that now he's saved her and avenged his own death, he has to move to the afterlife, andthe couple says goodbye to the soundtrack of the now-iconic Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." They kiss one more time, surrounded by an angelic glow.

Swayze and Moore absolutely deliver the bittersweetness of the final kiss. It was Swayze's audition for this scene that convinced the previously skeptical filmmakers to cast him, and Moore perfectly balances confusion, joy, and sadness. No wonder it beat the likes of Home Alone, Pretty Woman, and Dances with Wolves to top 1990's worldwide box office takings and scored two Oscars.

The Notebook rain moment isn't its best kiss

If there is a Movie Kisses Hall of Fame — and there should be — The Notebook definitely has a prime spot thanks to one scene. Lumber mill worker Noah (Ryan Gosling) and heiress Allie (Rachel McAdams) defy her family's attempts to tear them apart and triumphantly reunite with a passionate kiss in the middle of a summer rainstorm. That moment won Gosling and McAdams the coveted MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss in 2005. Although et althe pair famously didn't gong during filming, they later started dating, and they even recreated that rain-drenched kiss to accept the award.

However, it's Noah and Allie's last kiss that's the most powerful. Having grown old together, they both come down with various illnesses and are taken to the same hospital. Allie (Gena Rowlands), who can barely remember Noah (James Garner), is in the dementia ward, and her husband is in for a heart attack. Noah sneaks into Allie's room, and she briefly recognizes him. After the two decide that they want to pass away together, they kiss one more time.

The kiss in the rain has the passion and hotness of long-delayed young romance. But the final kiss contains the true love and understanding of a couple who really lived up to their promise to love each other until the end, no matter what.

One Day didn't give its couple a proper goodbye kiss

Adapted from the book by David Nicholls, One Day jumps into its two main characters' lives every July 15 from 1988 to 2006. Some July 15s are monumental, and some of them just show everyday life stuff. That means you never know when a major life event is coming.

In 1988, we see working-class aspiring writer Emma (Anne Hathaway) and wealthy unfocused playboy Dexter (Jim Sturgess) spend an awkward (unconsummated) night together after their graduation. The two stay in touch via letters and become best friends. Dexter aimlessly travels the world and works as a hard-partying TV host, and Emma makes it through a series of unfulfilling jobs and eventually teaches while trying to become a full-time writer.

After various successes, losses and relationship breakdowns, they finally declare their feelings for each other — in Paris, in 2003 — and they get engaged in 2004. By 2006, they're married and trying to have a baby. That morning, they have a row and make up before work. Dexter hugs Emma and kisses her cheek. But later that day, Emma is hit by a car and killed.

Unlike other movies on this list, it's the ordinariness of this couple's last kiss that gives it impact. It reminds the audience that no matter how epic a love story is, no one can predict when it will all be taken away.

Casino Royale gives us Bond's saddest final kiss

James Bond is lucky in lust — and poker — but never in love. But in 2006, it looked like the playboy spy (Daniel Craig) had finally met his match, romantically and professionally, in Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). The two make it through a plot involving shady organizations, various villains, and an eye-watering torture scene, all the way to a romantic vacation in Venice. Bond even plans to resign from MI6 ... but then he learns that Vesper has betrayed him. She's stolen the money they used for a high-stakes poker game on behalf of people holding her former lover hostage.

However, Vesper is taken captive by bad guys, and Bond manages to kill them. But as the building they're in starts to sink, Vesper locks herself in an elevator,while Bond is stuck on the outside. She sadly kisses his hand through the grate. Bond is eventually able to get her out and back to the surface where his kiss of life turns into a goodbye kiss as he realizes she's already dead. Granted, Bond audiences have seen a lot of final kisses. But the one with the woman who finally made him consider a life outside MI6 is the most resonant, and it sets up the character's arc for the rest of Craig's time playing him.

The couple in Call Me by Your Name put everything in their last kiss

Every summer romance has to have a final kiss, and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver's (Armie Hammer) sums up the passion of their short but deeply felt relationship.

Adapted from André Aciman's novel, Call Me by Your Name tells the love story of 17-year-old American-Italian Elio and American graduate student Oliver. The couple meets in 1983, when Oliver stays with Elio's family in Italy so he can work with Elio's archaeology professor dad. Elio initially resists his attraction to Oliver and even tries to be hostile in a surly teenage way. When he does hint at his feelings, Oliver rejects them. However, eventually, they give in to their irresistible connection and fall in love, although they try to keep the relationship secret. In their last few days together, they travel to the city of Bergamo. Drunkenly stumbling through the dark, empty streets, they lean against a wall, and Oliver pulls Elio into a deep kiss.

The couple's final parting takes place at a station, but since 1980s Italy was generally hostile to gay couples, they don't kiss goodbye. The kiss in the silent streets of Bergamo is their last. It contains all the longing and imminent loss that comes with the end of a summer love that turned out to be true. Just a few months later, Oliver is engaged to someone else, leaving Elio heartbroken.

Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor took time out from war for their kiss

Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), had no experience kissing human men when she and US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) met. But the unlikely pair still pull off one of the most romantic final kisses before hero duty calls.

After Wonder Woman has marched through the No Man's Land of 1917 and liberated the village of Veld, a well-deserved celebration is in order. Steve offers to teach her how to dance like humans do — swaying, as she calls it — and snow starts to fall, which makes everything except trying to drive more romantic. When Diana asks Steve what people do when they don't have to worry about war, he says they get married and grow old together. Neither can imagine that life. But then they go to a hotel room in the village and nervously kiss ... and that's all we get to see.

Sadly for Diana, Steve's words turn out to be prophetic. In the middle of battle, he leaves her with the words "I love you" but no goodbye kiss. 

The last kiss comes too late in Blue Valentine

If you're into movies that show the slow, painful disintegration of a once-hopeful romance that has become tortured and twisted, Blue Valentine has a last kiss to make your shattered heart break just a little bit more.

Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) fall in love at second sight when she's a pre-med student and he's delivering furniture. When Cindy finds out she's pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's child, she and Dean get married. Five years later, their relationship is cracking under his drinking, their money worries, and her despondency. Dean insists the two of them take a vacation to a cheap motel to work things out, but they end up arguing bitterly. When Cindy leaves to go to work, Dean shows up drunk at the clinic and gets her fired.

At her parents' house, Cindy tells Dean they have to break up, but he tries to convince her that they should stay together. He walks over to her and hugs her, even as Cindy tenses up in his arms, and kisses her on the head. The physical contradiction of his hug and her stiffness reflects the way that they don't fit together emotionally any more. What was once a gesture of love becomes a moment of goodbye. The ending of the scene — as Cindy pulls away — is intercut with footage from their wedding day, showing just how far they've come from their hopeful younger selves.

Lost in Translation gave its characters one perfect romantic moment

We already know the answer to most will-they-won't-they Hollywood plotlines before they've even started, but Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation proved to be a welcome exception. Instead of getting together, the central couple says goodbye forever but not without a memorable kiss.

When washed-up actor Bob (Bill Murray) and young newlywed Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) meet in a Tokyo hotel, they initially seem like an unlikely pair. But they keep running into each other in the hotel bar and learn that they have more in common than they thought. They both feel isolated and lost, anxious about the future and their respective marriages. They start spending time together outside the hotel, going to restaurants and singing karaoke with Charlotte's friends, and one night, they sleep beside each other.

There's a constant unspoken feeling that this connection could lead to more, and Charlotte feels jealous when Bob sleeps with someone else. However, they don't act on their growing attachment. When Bob has to return to the US, their initial goodbye is awkward and stilted. But in the taxi to the airport, he sees Charlotte walking down a busy street and has the driver pull over. Bob catches up with her, whispers something inaudible, and they kiss. Then he leaves. It's satisfying to finally see that romantic tension manifest, and knowing that they don't end up together feels more fulfilling than a Hollywood fairy tale.

The final kiss in Casablanca isn't at the airport

If there's one movie that sums up the burden of impossible love, it's Casablanca. Grouchy American Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is keeping a low profile in Casablanca during World War II when his long-lost love, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), walks into his gin joint ... and she's accompanied by her husband, Czech Resistance leader Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid). Rick hasn't seen Ilsa since the previous summer, when they fell in love in Paris, only for her to abandon him suddenly. Now, she and Lazlo are trying to reach America to escape the Nazis, and Rick has the exit papers they need.

Reunited and still in love, Ilsa and Rick plan to use the papers to leave together. But Rick has a change of heart, and he puts Lazlo and Ilsa on the plane, knowing that Lazlo needs Ilsa to continue his important work. Many people think that Rick and Ilsa's last kiss happens at the airport, but that would have been a massive giveaway to her husband. It actually happens at Rick's apartment the night before, when Ilsa tells him, "If you knew ... how much I still love you." After this declaration, they let loose all that pent-up longing in a perfectly angled, dramatically soundtracked kiss — which proves to be their last.

Brief Encounter's adultery got the film in trouble

The lovers in 1945's Brief Encounter mostly convey their electric chemistry through anything other than kissing. So when they do finally smooch, sparks really sizzle.

Laura (Celia Johnson) is a bored housewife with a kind but dull husband in 1940s England. Her weekly highlight is taking the train to the nearby town of Milford. Waiting at the Milford station one day, she meets charming a doctor, Alec (Trevor Howard), who's also married with kids. After accidentally meeting again, they begin a covert relationship.

Laura and Alec meet at a friend's apartment, and they start to kiss passionately. But they're interrupted when the friend comes home unexpectedly. The couple decide they can't continue their affair and spend one final day together. The heart-wrenching twist is that they don't even get a private goodbye. At their last meeting, they're interrupted by one of Laura's friends. Alec has to leave to catch his train, and all he can do is squeeze Laura on the shoulder.

The final kiss of the movie is the one in the apartment, and it was a brave move on the filmmakers' part. Brief Encounter was considered so scandalous because of its adultery that it was initially banned in Ireland. While movies today are freer to have their characters lock lips — even ones who aren't married to each other — this kiss is all the more powerful for being an expression of rule-breaking passion.