25 Most Common Tropes in Hallmark Christmas Movies (2023)

BrandChristmas movies have become a popular Christmas tradition. They've been so successful that the movies air in late October and other networks like Lifetime, Ion, and Netflix have copied the genre.

What makes these movies so entertaining to watch is that they contain a very specific set of plots or tropes that viewers can expect to see in most movies. These go beyond your average rom-com plot and are the ones viewers often only see during the holidays.


Updated December 20, 2022 by Meagan Boyarsky:Especially with something as light-hearted as Christmas romance, viewers find a lot of solace in seeing familiar tropes enacted in refreshingly new ways. With the new Hallmark movie, that may even be a way to spread equality.The Holiday Sitter finally admits LGBT+ charactersTake part in the cheesy storylines and guaranteed happy endings you've historically been excluded from. No matter which subgenre of the Hallmark Christmas movie genre a person's favorite is, they all present a kinder world that reminds audiences of what Christmas is really about.

Meet-uglies are becoming the norm

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Fans of rom-coms are well-acquainted with the concept of a sweet reunion. Two characters who are clearly meant to be together meet in a seemingly random fashion and an instant connection is formed. An ugly meeting implies the first meeting, but the connection tends to be more hostile. They may simply be on opposite sides of an issue, or they may find themselves literally ugly when one of them accidentally bumps into or injures the other.

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Hallmark Christmas movies have featured them sparingly over the years, but they are becoming more common as they allow for a bit more unusual conflict between the characters. There are movies likeNever kiss a man for ChristmasSweater in which the woman beats up the guy she runs into with a Christmas tree and sends him to the hospital. there's alsochristmas wish project, in which the two protagonists start off on the wrong foot by not seeing the fate of a small town.

With former child stars

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There's a tough hurdle child stars must overcome to succeed in their adult acting careers, but Hallmark makes it a little easier by frequently casting former child stars in lead roles. Whether for the sake of the actors or to gain nostalgia,Hallmark Christmas Movies Are Full of Familiar Faces.

Some of the actors audiences are most likely to see in a Hallmark Christmas movie include Lacey Chabert, Candace Cameron Bure, and Chad Michael Murray. Although Bure recently severed ties with Hallmark, sheFull houseCo-star Jodie Sweetin stars in it.A cozy Christmas inn, and other former child stars like Peyton List and Tamera Mowry-Housley also have their own holiday treats in 2022.

Dogs bring people together

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Dogs may be man's best friend, but according to Hallmark, they're also great allies. Often the perfect couple needs some motivation to get to know each other and spend time together, especially if they don't like each other to begin with. This is where a stray or problem dog tends to shine.

Generally, that trope involves a golden retriever or similar popular breed, and the film's utopian world means no one has a dog allergy. This year, Hallmark launchedA Royal Corgi Christmas, but other classics are thosea golden christmastrilogy andthe christmas shepherd.

There is well-intentioned interference in love life.

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Matchmaking is one of the most popular Hallmark tropes in general, but it definitely has its place in holiday movies, too. In some cases, this falls to the children of single parents, but that's a whole different trope. More often, it falls to the main character's colleagues or friends to find him a romance for the holidays.

The idea is always that the main character has been single for so long that his friends are worried about him or that he is in a relationship with the wrong person. Matchmaking is always well-intentioned and almost always works perfectly. Even Santa Claus meddles in the dating agency sometimes, there is literally one.Santa Claus matchmakerFilm!

(Video) The Trope Count: 002 - A Shoe Addict's Christmas (2018) [Counting Hallmark Tropes]

Christmas brings creativity

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While the arts are often derided as unprofitable year-round, Christmas movies mostly idolize the artists. The female leads in particular often have jobs that involve baking, singing, dancing, or decorating. This often comes into play when they are trying to win a competition or save a school or town program.

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Any movie can contain music, but the number of Hallmark Christmas movies that place art at the center of story and characterization means that there is a direct connection between Christmas and crafts. Maybe it's because Christmas is usually a time of desire, not convenience, but the idea of ​​living a comfortable life by following a passion is an incredibly common part of movies likein a happy measureyA Christmas Cookie Mess, where the characters learn to follow their hearts in their careers and love lives.

Someone changes their career path.

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Since many Hallmark movies feature someone coming from the big city to a small town (another popular trope) or someone returning home for the first time in years (another trope!), there are plenty of Hallmark Christmas movies that also they have a big change. in the end, not just a romantic happy ending.

That often means one of the main characters makes a big career change, like taking over the family business they originally left, or finding their passion in a completely unexpected place.the christmas bowFor example, a passionate violinist experiences how her love for music is rekindled.holiday heartshows a woman who, at the end of the film, quits her job in the big city to live in her small hometown.

Dealing with grief and the loss of a parent

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it's weird forDisney princesses have both parents., and the same goes for Hallmark heroines. To explain why the protagonist doesn't fall in love with her, she often has a heart-to-heart with her father about how the loss of her mother forced her to put up walls and keep people away.

While grief is often secondary to the romance aspect, it's still an incredibly common way to develop characters. movies likethe christmas trainHe uses the loss of a father for the characters to explore life, but for others it is more subtle, as the missing father inspires his son's love of the holidays. Either way, it's unusual to find a Hallmark Christmas movie featuring all four parents.

The main character comes home for Christmas.

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One of the most common Christmas movie tropes in theHallmarks of Christmas Movies, Even Some of the Best, the return to the village house is like inImagine a perfect Christmas. The main character left home and found success elsewhere with his career choice and probably hasn't been home for years.

When they return, a lot of attention is paid to the things they loved about their hometown and the person they left behind who hasn't changed one bit. There are usually tensions with your family that are resolved just in time for the Christmas celebration and a romantic happy ending.

it snows at christmas

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Although the southern hemisphere doesn't celebrate Christmas in the winter months (but rather in the summer), Hallmark Christmas movies are all about the idyllic setting with lots of snow on the ground. To be fair, most of Hallmark's Christmas movies are set in Vancouver, where there would be snow during the holiday season.

It doesn't seem to matter where the fictional small town or big city is in the movie. There is always snow at Christmas. This trope is prominent because it is literally a rule.Hallmarks Christmas Movie Writers Have Debatedthat they are forbidden from writing movies that even suggest that Christmas could come without a perfect snowfall.

(Video) The Trope Count: 006 - Northern Lights of Christmas [Counting Hallmark Tropes]

The importance of Christmas traditions

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In a Hallmark Christmas movie, one of the main characters must love Christmas while the other may be more against it. This is a good excuse for a montage of the couple decorating, skating, baking cookies and playing in the snow. Through these traditions, the couple grow closer, each realizing how much magic was missing from their everyday lives.

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Assuming they then break up for part of the film, is there something visual that represents the time they spent together. Whether the traditions are classics or unique to the characters, they take on much of the story and encourage audiences to think about their own Christmas activities. those yearsWe wish you a blessed Christmasis a great example of husband and wife team Becca and Robby reigniting their marriage with a little holiday cheer.

The great relationship misunderstanding

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While the audience may realize that the two main characters are a perfect match, there is always a misunderstanding that drives them apart. It could be that one of them thinks the other is going back to a previous relationship or leaving town, or it could be something more drastic.

InThe perfect Christmas giftFor example, the two characters bond when a man hires someone known for the perfect gifts to find out what his girlfriend wants. They fall in love with her, but she is incredibly hurt by the deception, until it all works out in the end.

the holiday competition

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Many of Hallmark's movies set in small towns have competitions throughout the year. It could be a talent show at a child's school, a decorated float in a parade, or something related to baking.

Baking often plays a big part in Hallmark Christmas movies. Really,Lacey Chabert, Queen of Hallmark Christmas Movies, even included in itthe most beautiful christmass in which your character works on the latest gingerbread cookie presentation, complete with a working carousel. Of course, her character also finds love through her love of baking.

First love is true love.

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There are many ways couples can meet, but Hallmark tends to do it if they've met before. This trope usually occurs when the main character returns to his hometown for the holidays only to run into his ex. Whether their breakup was a misunderstanding or whoever messed it up makes it up, the characters inevitably discover that the old spark is still there.

There's something about first love that makes you feel stronger than anything that followed because of nostalgia and selective amnesia, and this Hallmark trope feeds off that energy. those yearsall saints christmasywhen i think of christmasboth include the trope, and anyone who references Taylor Swift's "tis the d**n season" too closely will likely love every moment.

someone sings a christmas song

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While Hallmark is known for its romance, it's not usually a jam-packed chain of musicals. There are some summer movies with country music festivals, but when Christmas movies include Christmas music in the mix, someone in the cast has to be a singer.


That could mean a kid creating their own Christmas carol for a performance, or it could mean rival pop stars getting together to create some Christmas magic. It could also mean that the cast is partying.Christmas in Dollywoodwhile Dolly Parton shares dating advice herself.

(Video) The Trope Count: 005 - Snow Bride [Counting Hallmark Tropes]

Christmas is more than gifts

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No matter the age, everyone loves to receive Christmas gifts. It is one of the best parts of the holiday for those who celebrate it. Of course, it's not the only reason to celebrate Christmas, and Hallmark isn't particularly subtle when it comes to reminding viewers of that.

Several of his films, includingchristmas next door- it's about reminding workaholics that there's more to the season than just gifts. If audiences are new to the genre, the true meaning of Christmas is love and family: something the network lets you know between commercials for its latest decorations.

Small quaint towns are better than the big city

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While it's true that many Christmas movies are set in New York, Hallmark definitely has a penchant for small towns. Sometimes a former resident needs to come home because life has taken a turn and then he realizes he never should have left. This year fans of the trope can see itChristmas of my southern family.

There is also a version of this story in which a woman passes through a beautiful little town on her way to another place and when fate intervenes, she is forced to stay here. She inevitably falls for the town and the local heartthrob. In the end, the message is clear: only familiar small towns really know how to celebrate Christmas.

The Christmas ceremony will save the city

25 Most Common Tropes in Hallmark Christmas Movies (17)

Each city has its own special Christmas tradition. From tree lights to concerts to parades, these events bring everyone together and force them to make up for some small moments. In the Hallmark universe, these celebrations are often instrumental in keeping the town alive.

There's never a good reason why the celebration is so important to the survival of the city of Hallmark. It is usually somewhat vague in terms of lore. All viewers know that the fate of everything important depends on the children who sing at the Christmas concert, as seen inwhen i think of christmas.

Hometown Hero Love Interest

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Many fans love Luke Danes ingilmore girls, and its rugged yet popular city festival archetype is a staple of Hallmark classics. This flannel-clad man is perfect for helping pick out and bring home the perfect Christmas tree and transporting broken-down cars to the local auto repair shop for repairs.

Often the hometown hero is a volunteer firefighter known for putting up Christmas decorations for the town's elders and maybe even saving the life of someone close to the female lead. It is the heart of the city, and when the protagonist falls in love with it, she also falls in love with a completely different way of life. The Hallmark Classicchristmas villageis the perfect example of this trope, but there's at least one movie that uses this trope every year.

Someone is secretly in love with their best friend.

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Rom-coms are often built on the premise that someone has had a secret crush on their best friend for years. With that in mind, it makes sense that Hallmark decided to set the trope around the holidays and make it Christmassy, ​​as seen infabulous vacation.

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The public knows the story. A man or woman in a relationship is clearly wrong for them, and while everyone else can see how perfect the two friends would be together, the person doesn't break up with that boyfriend or girlfriend and doesn't realize who they really are. until it's time for the big tree lights.

Corporate Big Shot wants to close the factory/lodge/tree

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All Hallmark Christmas movies feature a store that is the focus of the plot, or even the entire town. Is it a factory, a hostel, a department store or a lot of Christmas trees as inbecause he's crazy. Unfortunately, you usually have financial difficulties, but luckily, a big company wants to invest! Of course, they really just want to make it a corporate copy or shut it down completely, and they sent someone to facilitate the acquisition.

(Video) The Trope Count: 004 - A Cookie Cutter Christmas [Counting Hallmark Tropes]

Fortunately, the weather in the charming town has melted their cold business heart and they no longer want to close the factory/lodge/store/tree. Of course they also fall in love. It's really shocking how many corporate acquisitions lead to romance.

Santa Claus or his elves interfere

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Sometimes problems become so big that only Santa Claus and his elves can solve them. Whether it's a single mom struggling to make Christmas special or a man who's lost faith in the holidays, Santa always seems to be there to help random people figure out her life.

Most surprising is Santa's concern for the love lives of small town dwellers. Fans have seen a few different movies, such asSanta Claus matchmaker, where Kris Kringle or one of his representatives feels compelled to unite two unhappy lovers. Even their elves are sent to help, as in theNorth PoleMovies star an elf named Clementine who is tasked with saving Christmas, often finding romance.

Children play matchmaking for single parents

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Nothing says quintessential romance like two single parents who meet over the holidays and come together to give their kids a great Christmas. Once the kids discover the perfect family they are, they'll stop at nothing to win their parents' hearts. This story may occasionallybecoming parent cheating territory, but if the child actors are cute enough, it works.

In other variants, only one is currently a father, but the other is clearly born to have children, as seen inA magical Christmas town. Single parents looking to find true love and start families are a year-round favorite for Hallmark, as it's also popular for Valentine's Day, June weddings, and the fall harvest.

All work, no romantic boyfriend

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ShowHow cool is the Hallmark lead, the network has a habit of giving its heroines terrible boyfriends at the beginning of a movie. This guy is usually a very handsome and shallow workaholic who is not interested in making a serious commitment. And if he wants commitment, he will surely take the life of the female lead. See:a christmas detour.

Fortunately, on the journey to meet said boyfriend, she meets a super nice guy who loves Christmas as much as she does and makes her search for her boyfriend because of the wrong choice that he is. Variations on this also feature the superficial and materialistic girlfriend and ex-beloved by her parents.

A successful woman has to choose between family and career

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Of all the recurring themes Hallmark uses, this might be one of the worst. There is an often used idea that when a successful woman has a bad day, it immediately means that she made the wrong decision to focus on her career and not have a family. These movies are often set in a world where women are not allowed to have both.

Finally, when the time comes when he has to make a decision, he always chooses family, realizing that the goals he has been working towards all his life are bad and wrong. Hallmark is clearly a family-oriented channel, but this is an insulting, outdated story for women who have successful careers.

A friend is secretly a prince

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It's only Christmas when audiences see the story of a girl who meets a man with a cute accent, impeccable manners, and a mysteriously powerful family who, surprisingly, is actually a prince.

If there's one story Hallmark uses more than any other, it's The Secret Prince, and Hallmark has blended the concept with the holiday season to great success, as inA real Christmas.This type of story also works when the friend turns out to be Santa's son. Plus, his parents are often played by popular TV stars from the '80s and '90s, so these movies always have extra star power.

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