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19 Quiet Underrated Romantic Heroes to Love in Film and Television

ROMANTIC HERO TYPES

When we think about the romantic leading man, there are a couple of types which immediately come to mind over the underrated romantic heroes. One of these is the charming flirt. He’s the kind that attracts women like bees to honey. The consummate gentleman, he is never short of the perfect compliment. His other flaws are easily overlooked in the face of his teasing grin and twinkling eyes.

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The opposite of that is the strong, silent type. They are often misunderstood, with the heroine assuming he is a snob. Sometimes, the lady believes he has no interest in her when he might actually carry a secret passion for her. This type does what he thinks best and feels no need to explain or defend his actions. But when his quiet, hard outer shell is cracked, he is usually revealed to be a big softie.

Then there’s the rogue or bad boy romantic hero. These men are particularly hard to resist. They are often a mixture of the first two types. They ooze personality and their own brand of charm. But they also make no excuses for their questionable actions. However, there is often some redeemable quality about them that calls out to the heroines. This type is particularly dangerous precisely for that redeemable quality. It makes the heroine look past all the disreputable about him to believe there is something worth loving.

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But there is a romantic hero type that doesn’t get much attention. And he is one that I’ve been noticing more and more lately in both entertainment and fiction. These underrated romantic heroes are the quiet, unassuming leading man. He is a man of steady character, patient in his pursuit, often considered boring and decidedly less flashy than the other male hero types. He is easy to overlook, but it is a mistake to do so because he is ultimately the type that makes the most thoughtful, practically romantic partner.

So, I’ve compiled a list of these underrated romantic heroes who deserve more of our attention and consideration.

NINETEEN QUIET UNDERRATED ROMANTIC HEROES

(in no particular order)
The Magic of Ordinary Days
Photo Credit: CBS

#1: Ray Singleton in The Magic of Ordinary Days

Ray is exactly the type of underrated romantic heroes that often gets overlooked. He agrees to marry the pregnant Livy sight unseen because he longs for a family. Livy does not appreciate Ray at first thinking him rather dull, uninterested in the world outside his farm. But he shows his respect and growing feelings for her in small ways every day.

Moreover, he doesn’t judge her past choices and he is patient as she adjusts to married life. Ray does everything he can to make her life easier even though she makes little effort to get to know and care for him. Eventually, his kind and faithfulness win her over.

Sabrina (1995) Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

#2:  Linus Larabee in Sabrina

Sabrina’s infatuation with David Larabee makes her completely blind to his older brother Linus. Linus is a business predator and the man described as ” the world’s only living heart donor.” In his personal life, he is completely the opposite; awkward and unsure. But time spent with Sabrina creates in him a desire to be a better man. It also gives him a safe place to display and nurture his newly discovered softer qualities.

Victoria and Paul; Meet Cute List
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

#3:  Sgt. Paul Sutton in A Walk in the Clouds

Paul is a WWII veteran who is also an orphan. He returns home to his war bride who insists he returns to his job as a traveling salesman. His first few encounters with Victoria Aragon are less than pleasant for him, but he responds as a gentleman. When he learns of her family predicament, he puts his life on hold to rescue this stranger. Even when Victoria’s father insults him repeatedly, he reacts with respect. He puts his job and his marriage at risk in order to provide support and encouragement to a vulnerable woman.

Endeavour
Photo Credit: ITV

#4:  Endeavour Morse  in Endeavour

Just a bit socially awkward, Endeavour none the less has a well-hidden sweetness in him. He has a logical mind which notices details that might slip by others. Yet he also appreciates some of life’s finer things, like opera and beautiful women. Often underestimated, he never gloats when proven right. Endeavour also knows how to carry a torch as he does for his boss’ daughter. He’s not someone who trusts easily, but his loyalty is worth the effort.

Period Drama Wedding Dresses
Marianne and Colonel Brandon
Photo: Columbia Pictures

#5: Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility

Though overlooked by more romantic, vivacious types, Colonel Brandon is definitely sigh worthy. He’s the kind to keep his thoughtful gestures a secret. Responsibility may not seem sexy, but the Colonel knows the value of taking care of others, even when it costs him financially and emotionally. He is practical in his approach to romance and does not push in where he isn’t wanted. But when the opportunity arises he steps forward and shines in his own quiet way.

Shane and Oliver share a romantic stroll in Hallmark's 'Home Again'
Photo Credit: Hallmark Channel

#6:  Oliver O’Toole in Signed, Sealed, Delivered Series

The main characteristic Oliver possesses is caution, with good reason. But he also has a very tender heart which longs to find a safe place to land. He’s thoughtful and methodical, not to mention a man of faith who generously encourages others. He may be slow to pursue,  but Oliver is a man worth waiting for because he loves with his whole heart. And did I mention? The man can dance and sings in his church choir.

Guernsey Movie
Photo Credit: StudioCanal

#7:  Dawsey Adams in The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society

Who would ever expect a pig farmer could be such a romantic hero? But Dawsey is a man with a poetic soul who appreciates a good book. He is also a man of strong character who honors his promises even when it changes his life. Extremely loyal, Dawsey also knows how to write an engaging letter, which in my opinion is one of the best gifts a woman can ever receive.

Romantic Moment: While You Were Sleeping
Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

#8: Jack Callaghan in While You Were Sleeping

For his whole life, Jack has looked up to and played second fiddle to his handsome older brother Peter. He has watched from the sidelines as Peter got the best of everything. Jack also has squelched his desire to go into business for himself in order to help his father in their family business.

When Lucy appears on the scene, Jack suddenly finds himself envying his brother for the first time in his life. Lucy thinks she is in love with Peter. But as she spends time with Jack she discovers an unselfish man with a warm heart who is protective of his family and those he cares about. Jack also proves he is an excellent listener (which is a very underrated quality) and a very thoughtful gift giver.

Underrated Heroes List
Photo Credit: WB

#9:  Dean Forester in Gilmore Girls

Look fellow Gilmore fans, I will argue to the death that Jess is the best match for our beloved Rory, in spite of his many flaws. On the other hand, no one will convince me that Dean is not the perfect first boyfriend for Rory. Dean is a great match for our girl next door. He’s unassuming, humble, thoughtful and completely in love with Rory.

He follows her around with puppy-like devotion, respects both her and her mother and celebrates their differences. He may not be intense like Jess or wealthy, charismatic and flashy like Logan. But his care of Rory sets a high standard for the other men in her life to follow.

Photo Credit: ITV

#10:  Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey

When this unassuming middle-class man becomes the heir to the Earl of Grantham, he does not allow it to turn his head. Matthew remains the same practical, kind, thoughtful gentleman as always. When he’s insulted and patronized by the sophisticated Mary Crawley, he doesn’t hold a grudge or judge her character by her behavior. Matthew accepts Mary as she is and doesn’t try to change her, but believes she can be better.

Far From the Madding Crowd - Victorian Era
Far From the Madding Crowd
Photo: Fox Searchlight

#11:  Gabriel Oak in Far From the Madding Crowd

Never underestimate the power of a patient man who knows what he wants. If he is completely unselfish, humble and self-sacrificing, all the better. And if he is willing to quietly serve the woman he loves as an employee, working for her benefit even in his off hours, don’t wait until years go by to snatch him up. Do it immediately.

Ignore the handsome, dynamic soldier. Kindly let down the wealthy neighbor who offers you a life of ease. Because no one will love you longer, understand you better or stick by you more faithfully than a man like Gabriel Oak.

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

#12:  Tony Fiorello in Brooklyn

In the segregated immigrant world of New York City, Tony dares to step outside his comfort zone. The son of Italian immigrants falls for the Irish Eilis. Tony is not the type to immediately catch the eye. But he proves to be earnest, sincere and persistent in his pursuit of Eilis. Tony’s devotion and patience as he waits for Eilis to return from Ireland, shows a love that is unselfish.

Underrated Heroes List
Photo Credit: Every Cloud Productions

#13: Constable Hugh Collins in The Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries

While everyone is enamored with the will they/won’t they aspect of Phryne’s relationship with Jack, I’m over here falling in love with the secondary characters Hugh and Dot. Often overshadowed by the stronger personalities of Phryne and Jack, they serve as assistants to the main leads.

But Hugh has such a sweetness of character that deserves to be appreciated. Constable Collins is one of those people comfortable working in the background with little credit. He serves steadfastly and without jealousy. Both he and Dot find themselves easily shocked by the scrapes they get into thanks to Phryne, but they never judge her more liberal nature. His reliability, protective instincts, and devoted love are the perfect match for the increasingly independent Dot.

Miss Potter Film Review
Photo: MGM

#14:  Norman Warne in Miss Potter

Every woman needs a man who believes in her enough to stand behind her when everyone else is saying her dreams are silly. Norman proves to be such a man for Beatrix Potter. He sees something special, not only in her work but in her as an individual. As the youngest of three sons, he stands up to his older brothers in order to publish her work. Beatrix flourishes under his steady support and encouragement.

Pushing Daisies
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Television

#15:  Ned in Pushing Daisies

Thanks to his unique gift, Ned is a man uncomfortable with physical affection. He is a bit awkward, socially challenged, but still sweet with his own special charm. Not to mention, the man bakes pies! And he’s remained true to his childhood sweetheart after years of separation.

Notting Hill
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

#16: Will Thacker in Notting Hill

Ladies, here’s a tip: Never turn down a man who owns a bookshop. Even if he is a bumbling, awkward Englishman who isn’t in the same class as a world-famous movie star. He’s patient and understanding not only with his wacky roommate but with the famous actress who takes advantage of his kindness. Will is also forgiving as is proven by remaining close friends with the best friend who married his ex-girlfriend. He’s just a sweet puppy-dog of a man.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

#17:  Peter Colt in Wimbledon

Peter Colt seems an unlikely match for rising tennis star Lizzie Bradbury. His best career days are seemingly behind him. Peter lacks ambition, content to settle for being a tennis pro to middle-aged women. Peter also seems to lack confidence. Even his family doesn’t believe him capable of doing more with his life. But he values privacy, treats Lizzie like a normal human being instead of a public commodity. His awkward sincerity eventually wins her over. Their relationship makes each of them a better person.

Underrated Heroes List
Photo Credit: Lionsgate

#18:  Ted Mitchell in New in Town

At first glance, Ted appears to be a surly, grouchy, unkempt man. But appearances are deceiving as Lucy learns. Ted is a man who turns his whole life upside down for his loved ones and has experienced the pain of real loss. He loves his daughter with fierce devotion and is willing to give Lucy the benefit of the doubt after a bad first impression.

Photo Credit: ITV

#19:  William Dobbin in Vanity Fair

Dobbin’s understanding of the meaning of true love is self-sacrifice. The fact that his love is unreciprocated does not deter him in any way from acting in the best interests of the woman of his dreams. He acts as a friend to both her and his own best friend and facilitates their relationship.

Furthermore, he is always behind the scenes advocating for Amelia secretly, even though she takes his faithfulness for granted. He does this with no hope that she will return his affections. As a soldier, he knows how to fight and to command, but as a man in love, he does neither. Instead, he is kind, respectful, gentle and tender with a woman who remains stubbornly in love with the wrong man.

Feature Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Television

Are you a fan of the quiet, unassuming romantic hero? Who would you add to this list of underrated romantic heroes? 


Top Photo Credit: CBS, Columbia Pictures, StudioCanal, ITV, Buena Vista Pictures, Fox Searchlight, and ABC

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By on January 22nd, 2019

About Brittaney B.

Brittaney has had her head in the clouds ever since she first fell in love with books and film as a young child. She's a firm believer in the power of story to transport us to new places while also transforming our hearts. She tends to favor historical fiction and classic films since they also allow her to feel like a time traveler. Brittaney is a native resident of Texas and has been honing her own ability to write and tell stories for many years now. You can find more of her wordsmith skills at her website www.storyenthusiast.com.

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10 thoughts on “19 Quiet Underrated Romantic Heroes to Love in Film and Television”

  1. I love this! Going to have to look out for some of the others you listed, since I love Dawsey, Jack Callaghan, Endeavour and Tony (although I think Jim, the other love interest in Brooklyn fits the same mould? Loved him too) . I’d add John Thornton from North and South, and Faramir from Lord of the Rings!

    Reply
    • Faramir is a great suggestion! I actually considered adding Thornton, but I thought he more closely matched the strong, silent type. He is rather stoic and broody. But I still love him. He may be one of my favorite romantic heroes ever.

      Reply
  2. Great list, Brittaney! I would have to add Gilbert Blythe, since he is the epitome of the solid, steady, supportive, good guy. Dick Dewy from Under the Greenwood Tree is another. Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr. again!) in Hope Floats. Mr. JLB Matekoni in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. George Malley in Phenomenon. Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey might just fit this as well. Ian Donnelly in Arrival fits the profile, I think. Toshio in Only Yesterday — it’s anime, but hey (-: James in Sliding Doors…Oh man, enough from me. Again, great list!

    Reply
    • Ah…Gilbert. He’s so adorable! I considered him too, but then I thought he may be just a tad bit too charming and flirtatious to fit this criteria even though he is steady and supportive. I’ll have to check out some of your other suggestions. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen Under the Greenwood Tree. It’s probably time to re-visit it.

      Reply
  3. Have you watched Kurt Seyit and Sura? This is a Turkish series. Amazing love story, performances, cinematography, history, love, love, love…

    Reply
  4. I would add Manuel from The Glass Virgin.

    “But I thought you said you never wanted to leave here.”
    “Ah, but now… if the Devil himself said he was takin’ you down to hell tonight, I’d say to him, ‘Not unless you take me too.’”

    Reply
  5. I love this list and agree with most of them. However, I would have added Captain Wentworth from Persuasion . Also a little fault I noticed was that you included the Linus Larabee from the newer Sabrina. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, I, as an inveterate Humphrey Bogart fan, would have loved his picture instead of Harrison Ford’s (so I guess I’m just showing bias).

    Reply
    • Captain Wentworth! Writer of the most love letter of all time, how could I forget.
      Though I’m a fan of Bogey, I’ve always preferred the more recent version of Sabrina. I just can’t see him and Audrey Hepburn together at all. But I did see the remake before the original, so I think I have some inborn bias.

      Reply

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