Ellie and Alan’s Relationship in ‘Jurassic Park’ Still Hits in All the Right Ways

Laura Dern and Sam Niell as Ellie and Alan in Jurassic Park
©Universal City Studios LLC

Jurassic Park is somehow even more romantic in 2022 than during its release in 1993. While we were all fully aware of the romance between Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Alan Grant, the chemistry and everything in-between is more palpable now, knowing they’ll reunite in Jurassic World Dominion. While the love story doesn’t last in Steven Spielberg’s original trilogy, the markings of the first film prove they’re meant to be, and all hope isn’t lost. This isn’t to say that Ellie and Alan need to get back together for their working relationship to remain one of the more special ones in the films, but their romance part is inarguably an essential part of the franchise.

The romance is interlaced so seamlessly throughout the film that while it isn’t nearly as evident as it tends to be in the genre, the subtle layers within always made them a fascinating couple. Obvious glances here and there are one thing, but it’s throughout the separation where much of their concern for one another becomes the discernible saving grace that we’re holding out for, leading to the kind of quietly hopeful ending that feels so faultlessly earned that it merits replaying at least twenty times.

Ellie and Alan are already established partners in similar fields, working together. At the same time, one is without question the sunshine to the other’s grumpy edges (and we don’t even have to clarify who’s who).

Laura Dern and Sam Niell as Ellie and Alan in Jurassic Park
Universal City Studios LLC

In truth, we’re all a little bit in love with Laura Dern‘s Ellie Sattler—it’s a fact, and if there is one thing Jurassic Park crystallizes, it’s the fact that Dr. Alan Grant admires her more than anyone else in the world. While he was never the kind of monster who’d leave kids behind to be eaten alive by dinosaurs, he likely wouldn’t have softened at their sight if he didn’t know, with everything in him, that it’s what Ellie wanted.

They are the definition of it could’ve been great, or in the words of Adele, we could’ve had it all. In trope-filled moments that will always leave a lasting impact, the moment Ellie puts the bandana on his neck, so much of their relationship makes sense as it reflects the give and take—the push and pull, and the pronounced detail that it’s her world, we’re all just living in it. And he’s especially happy to abide by whatever, to let her move ever so slightly to slide her hand through his.

In Ellie’s words, he’s still “the best,” and in our words, she’s the best part of him—everything that their love represents, quiet moments on excavations or on the edge of chaotic adventures that would not have been nearly as meaningful without the other. If nothing else, the two of them are the best kind of kindred spirits—the last call at the end of the world, colliding when the rest of the world explodes as they stand still in all the memories they’ve made together, the lasting bond that they have created.

The Mummy is rightfully a blueprint for romantic action adventures, but we should frequently discuss how Ellie and Alan pave the road through their interactions in Jurassic Park. And we should especially talk about the fact that despite how subtly the romance is brought to life, it’s bolder than some of the overtly romantic adaptions of novels because a single running embrace holds the weight of any stampede. Here, like a thousand fireflies in a dance, the love story in front of us wasn’t meant to fade with the rise of the sun or like the extinction of dinosaurs (and even the temporary closing of a park). It was meant to last. 

And maybe, just maybe, there’s still a chance. Though, even if there isn’t, even if all that we get with Ellie and Alan was achingly tender moments in the original Jurassic Park, then it’s still enough to leave the kind of giant footprint that we’ll consistently swoon over.


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