8 Rom Com Movies Where ‘She Fell First, But He Fell Harder’

I can’t be the only one who seems to be consuming nothing but Bridgerton Season 3 content right? It’s all over my FYP, it’s all my friends talk about, and I’ve even written about it here several times. And in looking into why I love this season so much, I realized it had one of my favorite romance tropes: “She fell first, but he fell harder.”

This trope always starts with a crush–usually on a friend. The main character has the hots for the guy she’s closest with, but he doesn’t even consider her a romantic prospect. She’s just his friend! But as soon as she starts to give up all hope, that’s when we see a switch flip in the male protagonist. Suddenly he’s falling for her–and he’s falling so much harder. It’s a little fantasy so many of us love and, while it happens a lot in romance novels, it’s a little harder to find in rom coms. Luckily, I did the hard work for you and found X movies with the “she fell first, but he fell harder” trope. You’re welcome!

The DUFF (2015)

Lionsgate

When Bianca needs help becoming more likeable to her crush, she asks for guidance from her neighbor, Wesley Rush. The jock is just in it for help with one of his classes–he’s not into her at all. But by the end, you’ll swoon just as much as I did when you see how hard he falls for her for her authentic self. Watch The DUFF on Paramount+ with Showtime.

A Walk to Remember (2002)

Warner Bros.

As is often the case with the teen version of the “she fell first, but he fell harder” trope, A Walk to Remember features the unpopular girl and the jock (which happens a lot in this list.) When Jamie tells Landon not to fall in love with her while she helps him learn his lines for the school play, it’s easy for him to agree…at first. But, by the end, it becomes a promise that’s heartbreakingly impossible to keep. Watch A Walk to Remember on Netflix, Peacock, and Tubi.

Flipped (2010)

Warner Bros.

This oft-forgotten, underrated rom com finds Juli immediately falling for the boy who moves in next door. Bryce doesn’t feel the same way and instead finds her unsettling. But, as you watch them interact as they grow up, you get to see this trope play out in real time–And it’s a must-watch. Watch Flipped on Max.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Buena Vista Pictures

When Patrick Verona asks out Kat Stratford, she doesn’t realize he’s doing it to help a fellow student get her sister. She thinks what they have is real, so she’s clearly the first one to fall. But when you see how heavily he falls for her by the end of this iconic teen rom com, you know he’s fallen harder. Watch 10 Things I Hate About You on Disney+ and Hulu.

She’s All That (1999)

Miramax

Zack’s shitty best friend bets him that he can’t turn the worst girl in school–Laney the quirky, uni-browed art kid–into the prom queen. By the end of the classic makeover montage movie, he’s so head-over-heels for her that he’ll improv a cringy hackie sack spoken word routine just to win her over. Watch She’s All That on Paramount+ with Showtime.

Plus One (2019)

RLJE Films

Alice and Ben are just good friends who happen to have been invited to a lot of the same weddings this year. Why not just go together as each other’s platonic plus ones? While it’s Alice who accepts what they’re turning into first, it’s Ben who pulls it all out in the end. (In perhaps a frustrating way, but that’s life.) Watch Plus One on Netflix and Hulu.

Love, Rosie (2014)

Lionsgate

Rosie and Alex have been best friends since they were kids. Although they may have developed feelings for each other early on, the time was just never right. Although it’s Rosie who reveals her feelings first–at about the worst possible time–it’s Alex who clearly feels this love the hardest. Watch Love, Rosie on Amazon Video.

She’s The Man (2006)

Paramount Pictures

Of course it would be Viola falling for Duke first. After all, Duke thinks she’s just a slightly awkward soccer-loving bro he has to share a room with. But by the end, after Duke has had to resolve some of the confusing feelings he may have had for his roommate all along, he’s down bad for her. And rightfully so! Watch She’s the Man on Amazon Video.

The Notebook (2004)

New Line Cinema

When a man has been spending years of his time fixing up your dream house while he waits for you to finally reach his level of romantic attachment, you know he’s fallen so much harder. Is it a sad watch in the end? Of course, but in a heartbreakingly lovely kind of way. Watch The Notebook on Prime Video.

Not sure what to watch first? I personally recommend starting with The DUFF or Love, Rosie as my personal favorites.

Trisha’s your resident tarot reader, rom-com lover, and horror connoisseur. In addition to using her vast knowledge of all things cinema for Thought Catalog’s TV + Movies entertainment section, she also offers her astrological and tarot expertise to Collective World. Trisha splits her time between making art and being awesome.

Keep up with Trisha on Instagram, Twitter and trishabartle.com