Top Gun (1986)
While it may not be Meg Ryan's first starring role as a romantic lead, her appearance in the cult classic Top Gun marked her third-ever appearance in a feature film.
Starring as Goose's love interest, Ryan's character Carole Bradshaw became a key part of the plot line for the 2022 reboot Top Gun: Maverick.
Although Ryan did not reprise her role on-screen, Carole was brought to life in the film through Maverick's storytelling, with Tom Cruise's character telling Carole and Goose's son Rooster that she hoped he would not pursue the same dangerous career path as his father.
When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Rob Reiner's 1989 film When Harry Met Sally... launched Meg Ryan into the world of romantic comedy stardom, with the film marking her first leading role in a Hollywood feature film.
Set in 1977, the film begins with a bus ride from Chicago to New York, with newly acquainted Harry Burns and Sally Albright spending their travel time discussing their opinions on love and relationships. Sally disagrees with Harry's belief that men and women are unable to be 'just friends' (with the debate culminating in the now iconic diner scene).
The film then follows the duo's multiple unexpected reunions, with both reunions occurring five years after one another. After a handful of chance meetings, When Harry Met Sally... culminates in Harry confessing his love for Sally, with the couple getting married three months later.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Sleepless in Seattle was the first of many iconic Nora Ephron romances to star Meg Ryan.
The film follows the story of widowed architect Sam Baldwin, played by Tom Hanks, as he begrudgingly attempts to find a new partner.
After Sam's young son Jonah calls into a radio show, Sam reluctantly goes on air to share an emotional reflection of how much he misses his wife Maggie. The story connected with listeners from around the country, with one of them being Baltimore reporter Annie Reed, played by Meg Ryan.
Annie then embarks on a quest to find the man behind the voice; writing a letter to Sam suggesting that he meets her on the top of New York's Empire State Building on Valentine's Day.
When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)
Directed by Luis Mandoki, When a Man Loves a Woman is a romance that is grounded in reality, with the film exploring how addiction can impact an individual's life.
The film follows couple Alice and Michael Green, played by Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia, as they navigate Alice's ongoing battle with alcoholism and its impact on their relationship and their family.
As Alice's addiction sadly worsens, Michael remains an unwavering source of support as they navigate the complexities of Alice's journey to sobriety while also attempting to safeguard their two young daughters; prompting the couple to confront their shared challenges and vulnerabilities.
You've Got Mail (1998)
Nora Ephron's You've Got Mail saw the reunion of Sleepless in Seattle co-stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, with the 1998 film being one of the first Hollywood features to explore the power of the internet in helping people connect.
The film explores the relationship between commercial bookstore giant Joe Fox and independent bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly.
The two business rivals eventually meet in an over-30s chat room, with 'Shopgirl' receiving an email from 'NY152.' The duo agrees to not share any specific information about one another and their anonymous correspondence continues, with Kathleen and Joe eventually meeting in person before confessing their feelings to one another.