Let’s face it: It’s hard to watch The Mindy Project and not fall a little bit in love with Danny Castellano. Is he perfect? Not at all. There are even some times when it’s hard to like him, but we still love him. Because when it counts, Danny is a man straight out of our best rom-com dreams.
Maybe it’s the complex and nuanced way his character is written. Maybe it’s the way Chris Messina brings him to life with such sincerity. Or maybe it’s the dancing. (It’s definitely the dancing.) Whatever magical combination is responsible for Danny’s charm, it’s been working on me for years, which is saying something, because after the pilot of The Mindy Project I might have ranked Danny my least favorite male character on television.
Danny was allowed to grow and evolve, and the show grew and evolved with him. The Mindy Project became a great TV rom-com when its leading lady was given a male character to play off of who’s as great as she is. In order for us to believe that Mindy could fall in love with Danny, we all had to fall in love with him, too. And the show gave us plenty of moments that helped us do exactly that.
Without further ado, here are 10 reasons why The Mindy Project made it easy for us to fall in love with Danny—starting with the most recent example. Click on each reason for more gifs to help you fall in love with him all over again.
This entire post was inspired by the fabulous final minutes of “C Is For Coward.” When Mindy went into labor and fear started to overtake her, Danny stepped up in a major way—reminding her of her strength at a time when she was feeling weak. Danny telling Mindy she’s stronger than him was such a powerful moment because Messina made us feel that Danny believes that with his whole heart, and he loves her all the more for it. And Danny naming baby Leo after Leo the Lion because he’s strong like his mother would have been perfect enough on its own, but the adoring, awestruck look that accompanied those words just about killed me. Danny doesn’t just love Mindy; he respects her, and he respects her strength more than almost anything. And who doesn’t love a man who knows his fiancee will draw strength from being called a “stone cold bitch”?
Love is a leap of faith. That was something Danny struggled with for much of Season Three, but we saw him finally overcome his fears and let hope into his heart after meeting Mindy’s parents. By telling Mindy he’d like to be wrong about marriages never working out, he was saying their relationship is worth the risk to him. He was choosing to believe in them with a maturity that says this could go wrong, but I choose to believe that—with you—it won’t. That’s the most honest kind of love there is, and I loved that it was the foundation of his proposal.
Family means everything to Danny, and at the end of “Dinner at the Castellanos,” we saw Mindy become part of a new family for Danny—one that gives him a fresh start to be a better man than his own father. Watching Danny discover Mindy was pregnant and then rush through New York to find her was such a sweeping moment of romance—and another great scene to showcase how much Messina can say without words. All that was needed was his face, his body language, and “XO” playing in the background in order to create a moment I won’t soon forget.
Danny Castellano gives great Christmas gifts. Perhaps the most perfect one was his glowing letter of recommendation for Mindy to get into Stanford’s fellowship program. Danny’s appreciation of Mindy’s strength is one of my favorite things about him, and his respect for Mindy as a doctor is another. He showed her in the clearest way that he admires her professional abilities, and that will melt my heart more than pretty much any clichéd romantic gesture.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The shoulder shake. The hip action. The intensity in his eyes…The world is a better place because Diamond Dan exists (and exists in a medium that allows us to watch him again and again…and again).
Apparently a lot of my favorite Danny moments involve him running to Mindy during huge turning points in their lives. This is the most epically romantic of those examples. Who wouldn’t want a man to rush to one of the most romantic buildings in New York City, with Bruce Springsteen playing in the background, just because he believes you deserve that kind of rom-com moment?
A guy who kisses like he knows what he’s doing is a gift, and Danny Castellano knows what he’s doing. Look no further than the first time he kissed Mindy. Memorable location? Check. Confident first move? Check. Cradling her face? Check. Knows what to do with his hands? CHECK.
“Danny Castellano Is My Personal Trainer” is a pretty perfect episode from start to finish, but its high point is Danny’s honest contradiction of everything Mindy thought he’d say about her body. In one scene, this show gave us an example of a woman who’s been trained to hate her body and see things that need “fixing,” and it also gave us an example of man who sees that body as beautiful for exactly what it is instead of what it could be with some adjustments. The sincerity in his voice when he told Mindy “I don’t want that” is still one of my all-time favorite Danny Castellano moments.
This was the moment I went all-in on loving Danny. A choreographed dance routine to “Try Again” inspired by Mindy’s love for that song from years before—what’s not to love? This was the first real taste we got of Danny’s dance skills, and it was also the first taste we really got of how romantic he can be when he wants to be. The end result was a game-changer for this character.
Little did we know that when Danny took Mindy’s glasses off to clean them, nothing would ever be the same for this show. Suddenly, Danny Castellano was a romantic lead able to generate enough heat with just his eyes to melt our collective fangirl heart. This was the moment The Mindy Project stopped being a show about a woman dating a bunch of fun guest stars and became a show with a relationship we had a rooting interest in. And it was all because Danny made that one simple act feel intimate enough to make us blush.
I have a bit of a “thing” for romantic moments around vending machines. While this one may not be as grand as Sawyer and Juliet’s Lost finale reunion, there’s something to be said for the beauty in the simple things. I love when people remember details about those they care about, and Danny showed that he pays attention when Mindy talks when he remembered her vending machine preferences. It was such a small gesture of kindness and familiarity, but it spoke volumes to me. It told me that there was more to Danny and his feelings for Mindy than I thought, and I never looked back.
Why do you love Danny Castellano, fellow The Mindy Project fans? Let us know in the comments!