Where in Fandom Would You Go on a Fictional First Date?

When you have the whole of fiction to choose from, what’s your pleasure? Our writers pick their dream night out.

Julie Delpy And Ethan Hawke In 'Before Sunrise'
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke enjoying each others company in a scene from the film 'Before Sunrise', 1995. (Photo by Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images) Photo: Castle Rock Entertainment/ Getty /CBS Photo Archive /Contributor /Hulton Archive /Handout

Forget that restaurant out of First Dates, that always looks a bit too light and unforgiving to us anyway, for today’s thought experiment we are opening up the whole of fictional everything to choose a night out from. That’s right, everything. TV, Film, Books, Games, Comics, Taskmaster, literally everything. Wanna hangout on the Holodeck? Spend an evening grooving in the Cantina? Glamming it up at that ball from Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet (although that actually was a first date of sorts and it did not end well)? Have at it.

We’ve picked ours. We look forward to hearing about yours in the comments. 

Cheers from Cheers

I was going to pick the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, from the Douglas Adams book of the same name, but that sounds very tiring and I would worry about getting home. And then I thought I’d quite like to have some sort of Midnight in Paris experience, which I would, but lest we forget, that is a film about a dude cheating on his partner so I think I’d like to just do that on my own and hang out with the Fitzgeralds. And eventually I realized that if I have to go on a date, then I just wanna go to the pub. And not a swanky bar, just a boozer so we can have a chat, it’s minimal stress and I am safe.

What better boozer for a first date than one where everyone knows your name? I can enjoy reasonably priced drinks at a spit and sawdust pub where I might dazzle my date with my brilliant repartee or I might strike out hard and need to lick my wounds. But it wouldn’t matter. Frasier would be there with some wise words. Sharp-tongued Carla wouldn’t put up with any shit (from me or my date) and I could probably have a little flirt with Sam at the end of the night if my ego is in the bin. Then maybe Latka from Taxi (played by Andy Kaufman) could pick me up when it’s time to go home to add the final ‘80s US sitcom cherry on top. – Rosie Fletcher

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Paintball Fight At Gas Works Park From 10 Things I Hate About You

Here is the thing about first dates, very rarely are they not awkward. There’s small talk you have to make which I absolutely hate, then the whole night you try to come up with interesting things to say to each other to avoid falling into the “silence pit.” As I am writing this, I am getting flashes of all of the awkward first dates I have had to sit through, and just never again…

I love activities. I think first dates should have some kind of activity involved so the whole night is not dependent on staring at each other and talking. I also think this is the best way to see what the other person’s personality is like. The paintball scene in 10 Things I Hate About You is so perfect and I love Kat and Patrick’s inner child really shines through. They are laughing and being super playful with each other. And that perfect kiss scene at the end, on the haystack is the cutest. In that moment, they both don’t care about keeping up appearances, all they care about is having fun and I think that’s what I would want on a first date. – Maznah Shehzad

The Prom in Grease

Forgive me for tooting my own horn here, but I am really good at the hand jive. This very niche and impressive skill means there’s only one choice for my fictional first date and that’s dancing with the Rydell High class of 1961 at their prom. What better place to get to know each other than surrounded by 30 year olds pretending to be 17 year olds with a live band and excellent outfits. Is there anything that can bond two people together more than a synchronized dance routine?

I may have ulterior motives and could be planning on cutting in on Cha Cha and dancing with Danny Zuko, but I would love swinging about in my full skirt and seeing how low I can go (not very low). If all goes well the second date could be at the finale carnival! – Elizabeth Donoghue

An After-Hours Club During Prohibition

The scenario would be very similar to the first date between Henry and Karen in Goodfellas, but not so classy a joint as the Copacabana. Not just a speakeasy, but an after-hours club with all the vices on display, and a date who is open to exploring the possibilities. There should be hot music, wild dancing, and I should know the musicians well enough to get high with them before the set, and maybe sit in to make a better impression. I should also have enough folding money in my pockets to blow on my date’s dice before she shoots craps. Danger and romance, music and mayhem, and death on the dancefloor. Kinda like Brooklyn discos in the ‘70s, but with fedoras, flapper cloches, and a getaway car with a bumper seat built for two. – Tony Sokol

Downton Abbey season 5

The Dining Room at Downton Abbey

I’m an old-fashioned girl, simply not cut out for the modern dating game. All this swiping left, ghosting, benching (I had to look that one up), it’s enough to make you want to go off-grid completely. But dating in Downton Abbey takes you right back to the classics: long lingering looks over the soup (yum), catching their eye by dropping a witty double-entendre during the fish course (double yum), casually dropping a hint about how much you like horse-riding in-between mouthfuls of succulent roast pheasant (yum jackpot) so they’ll invite you to their stables the next day, and oh look! There’s dessert on the way… 

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Okay, so maybe a significant reason I’d choose Downton is for the food rather than the company, but a decent meal is crucial for a first date in my books. Besides, Carson would be topping up my wine with the finest vintages throughout, I’d get a front-row seat for the inevitable scandals and all the Dowager Countess’ best zingers, and the dress code is fancy enough to be flattering but covered up enough that I can still wear big pants and be comfy. Winner winner, pheasant dinner. – Laura Vickers-Green

Café Sperl (And All of Vienna) in Before Sunrise

The difficulty of firsts will forever be breaking the ice and finding someone you can connect with—or who can at least share a lovely chat with you. When the “small talk” feels like fun instead of work, you might be going somewhere. Before Sunrise literalized this by making all of Vienna the backdrop for Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) to get to know one another. The only conventional aspect of their date was a small dinner (but really just a dessert) at the famous Café Sperl.

While I doubt I could be as loquacious as a Richard Linklater protagonist, having a first date be one long activity of sightseeing in one of the most beautiful cities in the world where all you need to do is talk and learn if you enjoy each other’s company sounds like beautiful way to take the pressure off and just try to have fun together. And if it doesn’t work… you’re still in Vienna. – David Crow

Friday Night Lights Football Guide

A Dillon Panthers Game and a Meal at Applebee’s

I’m but a simple man. All I ask from those who seek my romantic favor is some sporting entertainment and then a modest meal at a reasonably priced chain restaurant. In all of the pop cultural canon, there is no environment that fulfills those two needs better than Dillon, Texas in NBC’s Friday Night Lights

Picture this: it’s the first game of the Dillon Panthers’ 2006 season. You take me to the stadium to watch our boys begin their path to the State Championship. With Jason Street at quarterback, what could possibly go wrong? After everything possible goes wrong, you take me to Applebee’s to wash away the pain. Surrounded by sports memorabilia, sugary margaritas, and friendly servers, I feel safe and confident that this first date can be the beginning of something real. Plus, the quesadilla burger is still on the menu. Well, it’s still there now in the present day but it was better when I was in high school. – Alec Bojalad

Arnold’s Diner in Happy Days (But I’m Fonzie)

I just want to be Fonzie. As long as I’m Fonzie I really don’t care where the date happens, but why not make it Arnold’s, the seat of his shamanic power. At Arnold’s I could buy my date a Milwaukee Shake, a Big Bopper burger with fries, and a banana boat sundae for just over a buck, leaving change from my auto mechanic’s pay for the pinball machine and their pick of the jukebox. Not that I’d pay for the jukebox of course, because – and this can’t be said often enough – I’m Fonzie.

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Imagine being Fonzie on a date. No jitters, no question of what to wear (tight blue jeans, Colgate white tee, leather jacket unzipped to the waist, absolute self-possession), or whether or not they’ll like me. Like me? Are you kidding? This is the greatest night of their life. Pinky Tuscadero or whoever I’m with will tell her grandkids about that time I clicked my fingers and she sprang to my side like a paperclip to a magnet. On our date, we’d eat, we’d slow-dance, I’d jump my motorcycle over fourteen garbage cans, and then it’s up to Inspiration Point and Woah. Aaaaay. Perfectamundo. – Louisa Mellor