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It’s the classic Victorian love story scene — a couple lounging in a rowboat, on a lazy summer afternoon in the middle of the lake, while he woos her with poetry by Byron or Keats.

A lady and her suitor are having a romantic date on a rowboat. This was a popular dating image for the 19th and early 20th century upper classes, as it provided a chance for couples to be alone together, but still in plain sight to avoid accusations of anything sexual happening.

The typical image is the lady sitting under her Parasol of Prettiness in a mildly Pimped-Out Dress, while the gentleman sits on the other side, wooing her in various ways.

These days, "old-fashioned" means just that. This isn't quite a Dead Horse Trope, but spoofs of it far outnumber straight uses these days, usually with at least one of the participants falling into the water if the boat doesn't sink. Also, the "Tunnel of Love" rides in amusement parks was sort of a play on this trope, using the dark to allow couples to have intimate contact with nobody actually seeing anything.

A Sister Trope to Serenade Your Lover, Courtly Love (another romance ideal), Married At Sea (taking this to another level).

Compare The Gay Nineties, , Chaste Hero, Celibate Hero, The Ingenue, Purity Personified, Princess Classic, Coy Girlish Flirt Pose, Together Umbrella.

Examples of Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Ranma ½ - Ukyo and Ranma go on a date involving row boats. Ryoga and Akane are also on a date, and fighting ensues.
  • Played with in Great Teacher Onizuka. Onizuka plays hooky to take a stressed out Fuyutsuki rowing, but he claims he does this all the time by himself when he's feeling stressed. And then the boat turns out to be leaky.
  • In Octave, Yukino and Setsuko go on one. Since they're both girls, they janken to decide who rows.
  • A scene in the Captain Tsubasa first anime has Tsubasa and Sanae walking through a park on their own, and a couple is seen doing this in a nearby mini-lake. The 2018-2019 anime series includes a very similar one.
  • Sailor Moon has two in the first anime:
    • Rei's first date is convincing a reluctant Mamoru to take her on a date like this, leading to a jealous (though she won't admit it) Usagi to drag Umino on one to get back at them.
    • Usagi and Mamoru's first proper date is on a rowboat.
  • Chobits has Hideki and Yumi going on one early in the series. They run into Minoru and Yuzuki going on one of their own.

Comic Books


  • In an Imagine Spot in The Muppet Movie, Miss Piggy pictures herself doing this with Kermit.
  • Spoofed in the film Some Like It Hot, due to the twists already happening in the plot, like Disguised in Drag.
  • Briefly seen in the "That's How You Know" montage in Enchanted, complete with the parasol and a mariachi band on a couple of other boats.
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother, Sigerson Holmes and Jenny Hill go for an outing in a rowboat. Since this is a comedy, Sergeant Sacker comes along as the rower and his accidental mistakes with the oars repeatedly cause Sigerson to be splashed in the face with water.
  • Spoofed mercilessly in the Marx Brothers film Horsefeathers, where Groucho has a rowboat date with the College Widow, who is trying to seduce him to steal information about an upcoming football game. The dialogue is anything but chaste, and the date ends with her falling into the water and Groucho wisecracking rather than saving her. Also, she was the one doing the rowing while Groucho sat under the parasol and sang to her.
  • Alfalfa and Darla do this in the 1994 film of The Little Rascals.
  • In Kind Hearts and Coronets, Ascoyne D'Ascoyne takes his mistress punting, although his intentions are anything but chaste. When he moors his boat to have his way with her, Louis unties it; causing Ascoyne and his mistress to be swept to their deaths over the weir.


  • Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane go punting in Gaudy Night, and the scene is retained in the 1987 BBC television production. Such boating excursions are traditional at Oxford, where the story is set. The modern twists on this are their practical discussion of Harriet's poison pen prankster investigation and the "spot of celibacy" Harriet is maintaining, despite Wimsey's numerous proposals of matrimony.

Live-Action TV

  • Dawson's Creek: Will brings Andie on their first date rowing across the Creek.
  • Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor and Romana are shown punting on the Cam in "The Five Doctors" (using footage shot for the unfinished serial "Shada"). Your Mileage May Vary on how much of a date this is, but Tom Baker and Lala ward did eventually marry in Real Life.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: In one episode, that is a Whole-Plot Reference to Some Like It Hot. A guy sees Salmoneous in drag, and pictures doing this date with him.
  • The Muppet Show: One episode had a Wayne and Wanda sketch where the two were enacting such a date while singing "Row, Row, Row". It's one of few Wayne and Wanda sketches that make it to the song's chorus, Then the boat springs a leak.
  • Scrubs: JD has an Imagine Spot where he's on such a date with Elliot, and even throwing her lover in a lake.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise. Trip Tucker should have known better when an alien woman takes him into a virtual reality simulation involving the two of them in a rowboat — it leads to a Mister Seahorse situation.
  • To the Manor Born: DeVere invites Audrey for what she thinks is a date, ending with the two of them together in a punt. When she discovers he's actually using her as an extra in a grocery advertisement he's filming, she takes her revenge by setting the punt adrift in the river, with him on board.

Newspaper Comics


Western Animation

  • Invoked in The Little Mermaid as part of the song "Kiss the Girl".
  • A date in Tangled didn't start out this way, but ended up being so. Flynn took Rapunzel on a boat to see the lanterns she had always wanted to see, and their talk in this moment turned it into a date.
  • Parodied in Futurama, when Amy and Kif go on a date in a row-kite, which bobs majestically through the air, somehow suspended by their meager paddling.