7 Common Tropes Found in Hallmark Holiday Movies

Finding Father Christmas Final Photo Assets
Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Katie Yu

Every year, the Hallmark Channel blesses viewers with a plethora of made-for-TV holiday movies.

And 2022 is no exception as the network continues to up the ante with its annual “Countdown to Christmas” boasting a large slate of holiday programming. But whether the flick is new this year or one of their throwback classics, these festive rom-coms are all the same at their core. And that’s what we love about them, right?

Scroll down to see the seven tropes found in almost all Hallmark Christmas films, from small towns to aspirational occupations.

Christmas Joy Final Photo Assets
Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Eike Schroter

Rekindled Romance

In Hallmark movies, the rekindling of an old flame is usually sparked when the lead character returns home and unexpectedly bumps into an ex. Swept up in the magic of the season, they remember the good times and try to forget the things that went wrong in their past.

Occasionally the ex will be on the verge of marrying someone else or caught up in a job opportunity that takes them out of town, because what would romance be without a little bit of drama?

Final Photo Assets
Copyright 2012 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Toni Salabasev


When there isn’t a quaint town to be seen, it usually means that the story involves some sort of royal element. Whether the protagonist learns that she is related to a far off monarchy or she’s on assignment in the kingdom, the film is always a fairy tale.

Then, there’s the case of the royal in disguise, unrecognizable to the unsuspecting lead character. Even Netflix is catching on with films like A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch.

Finding Father Christmas - Niall Matter and Erin Krakow
2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Katie Yu

Family Secrets

To amp up the drama, some of the films will include a mystery or two. Family secrets don’t end badly in these holiday flicks, though, as a happy ending is key.

Christmas at Pemberley Manor - Jessica Lowndes
Crown Media / Robert Clark

A Small Town

Any holiday romance is automatically made cozier when set in a quaint town. Nearly every film has the backdrop of a picturesque winter village or farmland, blanketed in snow. And pretty much everyone knows one another.

It’s a rare occurrence when one of these films veers from the usual format and opts for a city. Usually, if a story begins in the city it ends in that good old small hometown of the protagonist.

Christmas in Love
Crown Media / Shane Mahood

Aspirational Occupation

The scripts for these holiday films usually find the protagonist working as a baker, decorator, event planner or some other not-so-realistic profession. Typically female, this protagonist is essentially a mixture of everyone’s favorite holiday Pinterest boards combined. She usually gets flustered but is quick to pull herself together, either winning some competition she’s entered or seamlessly executing a Christmas eve wedding.

A Godwink Christmas - Kimberley Sustad
©2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Bettina Strauss

Distant and Manipulative Boyfriends

Whenever a lead character is introduced to a prospective love interest, there’s always a chance she’s already in a relationship. And if they are, the boyfriend is usually a jerk. Whether he’s plotting something behind his girlfriend’s back or involved in some work deal that will threaten a project dear to her heart, the distant and manipulative boyfriend is a staple of the genre.

Keith Martin Gordey in Christmas In Evergreen
Crown Media / Ryan Plummer


What would Christmastime be without a little holiday magic? Sometimes it’s the big man himself — Santa Claus — or a kindly old person, but in the most desperate of times, a little wishful thinking can go a long way.