I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (2023)

    Sorry, but the catfishing trope has GOT to go.

    by Aly LeeCommunity Contributor
    Approved and edited by BuzzFeed Community Team

    One of my favorite activities is snuggling up on a couch and putting a classic rom-com on to help me escape from the world. They are outright ridiculous and give people false expectations of finding love, but I love them regardless.

    Netflix / Via giphy.com

    After rewatching the classics and watching the more recent rom-coms, I noticed that they all seem to follow the same romantic tropes over and over again.

    MGM / Via giphy.com

    I cannot say that I am a fan of most of these tropes, but the good ones keep me invested through and through. So, here are the 10 most common romantic comedy tropes that I keep seeing and which ones I think should stay:

    Disney / Via giphy.com

    **HEADS UP** There might be some potential spoilers since I mention several romantic comedies with the tropes in the list.

    10. The catfish

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (3)

    Netflix

    The trope: One of the main characters pretends to be someone else and the other person falls in love with the characters’ fake identity. Eventually, the other person learns who the main character really is and falls in love with the real them.

    This trope is awful. I don’t understand how someone could find it romantic that a character was lying about who they were the whole time. There is that part in the movie where the love interest discovers the truth and is hurt by the deception. But they come back realizing, “Oh I still love you, even though you pretended to be a completely different person than I thought you were.” How is that okay?! Pretending to be someone you are not or taking someone else’s identity to get the person you desire is a huge red flag and should not be romanticized in any way. Writers need to cease and desist this trope ASAP.

    Movies with this trope: Sierra Burgess is a Loser, Love Hard, She’s the Man, Maid in Manhattan,andWhile You Were Sleeping.

    9. Cheating is justified if the person is your one true love

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (4)

    Columbia Pictures

    The trope: One of the main characters is already in a relationship with someone, but goes on a journey and becomes romantically attracted to another person.

    This trope bothers me and, unfortunately, it is such a popular one. Films justify this trope by depicting the current partner as horrible or boring. So it makes sense why the main character(s) can easily cheat on their partners. Although, I feel like some of the movies with this trope still fail when rationalizing a character’s cheating. For example, sometimes the partner is a sweet and thoughtful person, but the main character just gives into the passionate romantic feelings they have for the main love interest. That’s fine, but let’s have the character at least break it off with their current partner respectfully before they pursue anything else! Again, not my cup of tea, and I try to avoid watching rom-coms with this trope.

    Movies with this trope: Letters to Juliet, Sweet Home Alabama, The Wedding Planner, Sleepless in Seattle, Leap Year, Forces of Nature, Notting Hill, and The Notebook (not a rom-com, but Lon deserved better!).

    8. The makeover

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (5)

    Miramax Films

    The trope: The main character goes through a significant appearance change that makes them objectively more attractive.

    This trope did not age well. The idea that someone would like you a lot more if you change the way you dress or style your hair differently should not be celebrated AT ALL. Like, if the love interest didn’t notice the main character before, then it is clear they are shallow and mostly care about looks. In this case, love is truly not blind. It sends the wrong message to impressionable young teens who are still trying to find their own style. Luckily this trope hasn’t been very common in recent films and I hope rom-com writers keep it that way.

    Movies with this trope: Grease, She’s All That, Miss Congeniality, and He’s All That.

    7. A rich person falls in love with a poor person

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (6)

    Touchstone Pictures

    The trope: One of the main characters, who is affluent, ends up meeting the other main character, who is not as privileged, through unique circumstances and eventually falls in love with their down-to-earth personality.

    This is a trope that will undoubtedly continue to exist till the end of time, but I do find it exhausting. What bothers me about these films is that a man is usually the “rich” one, while a woman is the “poor” person with a heart of gold who needs to be saved from hardship by said wealthy man of status. In a very traditional sense, yes, it is romantic to be swept off your feet by a rich man or prince, but I am starting to get tired of the “savior/hero” type of male love interest. Would it be that unbelievable to have more female love interests be the affluential ones in the story? I will not deny the people of their fairytale romances, but I would like to see films take a more modern approach to this trope if it is here to stay.

    Movies with this trope: The Prince and Me, The Christmas Prince, Pretty Woman, Maid in Manhattan, The Cinderella Story series, and The Royal Treatment.

    6. The notorious player meets "the one"

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (7)

    Columbia Pictures

    The trope: The main character has a track record of dating a lot of people and doesn’t see themselves committing and settling down. Until one day, they meet someone who changes their perspective on relationships.

    I have mixed feelings about this trope. To each their own, but I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with someone who has a notorious reputation for dating a lot of people and not committing to any of them. On the other hand, some films do a really good job convincing the audience that the player in question just hasn’t found the right person yet, and when they do, they are 100% all in and devoted. That IS romantic, but it’s really hard to believe that relationship will reach happily ever after. This trope can stay, but I would not miss it if it disappeared from the rom-comverse.

    Movies with this trope: Hitch, Trainwreck, 50 First Dates, Just Go With It, Crazy Stupid Love, and Two Weeks Notice.

    5. Best friends-to-lovers

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (8)

    Netflix

    The trope: One of the main characters is in love with their best friend, and does not realize it, or does want to pursue them, but there are other obstacles in the way.

    Probably the most realistic trope on the list and it seems to be in demand. It makes sense to be with your best friend — you get along with them, they know your quirks, you know theirs, and you already love them to a certain degree. Even though I love the idea, I think the romantic chemistry piece is sometimes missing. I noticed that in some movies with this trope, the main character usually goes through a makeover that suddenly makes them desirable to their friend, or there is a romantic rival that makes them realize they loved their best friend all along. These types of obstacles kind of ruin the romance for me, because it ends up feeling half-baked and forced. Overall, it is still a feel-good trope that will continue to be a rom-com staple.

    Movies with this trope: 13 Going on 30, When Harry Met Sally, Plus One, Always Be My Maybe, Holidate, Just Go With It, Just Friends, Made of Honor, and Friends with Benefits.

    4. The most popular person in school falls in love with the least popular person

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (9)

    Lionsgate

    The trope: The main characters are in completely different social classes in the high school hierarchy, but still fall in love anyways.

    As a proud, self-proclaimed nerd in high school, I fell for this trope, and I’m sure it gave many young individuals who felt unseen hope that this could happen to them too. While the chances of the most popular person in school being interested in someone outside of their social circle is pretty low, I do think movies nowadays do a decent job of creating scenarios where it could be possible. And recently movies with this trope no longer have the makeover, but rather the “popular” character just falls for the “unpopular” character for their charming personality. Sure, it’s very predictable and has existed for decades, but even if the story has been retold hundreds of times, the little sap that I am, will always have an attachment to this trope.

    Movies with this trope: Sixteen Candles, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Pretty in Pink, The Duff, and A Cinderella Story.

    3. Enemies-to-lovers

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (10)

    New Line Cinema

    The trope: The main characters despise each other in the beginning, but eventually fall in love with each other.

    This trope can be problematic, depending on how badly the main characters treat each other, but I’ll admit that I love it when it’s done right. For me, it’s just really satisfying to see the progression of the relationship between the two characters. From initially despising each other, to slowly reaching common ground with one another, and eventually turning that mutual respect into affection. It is satisfying to watch it unfold. Also, the main characters almost always have this fiery chemistry that makes you yell, “kiss each other already!” And when the kiss finally happens, there are fireworks, sometimes literally, in the distance. This trope is a must-have on my rom-com-watching roster.

    Movies with this trope: 10 Things I Hate About You, The Ugly Truth, Something’s Gotta Give, Me Before You, Life as We Know It, You’ve Got Mail, Leap Year, andThe Hating Game.

    2. The two love interests

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (11)

    Netflix

    The trope: Two characters are in love with the main character, who is forced to choose which one they actually love.

    Okay, this trope is one of my favorites. I must confess that I tend to have a really bad case of second-lead syndrome while watching these movies. I don’t know why, but the second lead is almost always written as being the more sensible, thoughtful one, while the main interest is depicted as a hot head, occasional wet blanket, who makes the main character feel less than. So to me, the obvious choice would be the second lead. Of course, the main character will always choose the main interest, because they go through some character growth that redeems them. BUT can we please have a film where the main character chooses the second lead? Especially if the second lead is obviously the better choice. I can’t get enough of the “who will she choose” angst, so please writers give me more.

    Movies with this trope: The Kissing Booth 2, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, Bridget Jones Diary series,and the Twilight saga (Technically not a rom-com but “Team Edward” vs.“Team Jacob” was a world phenomenon).

    1. The contract relationship

    I've Seen More Rom-Coms Than The Average Movie-Goer And Here's My Ranking Of Their Overused Tropes (12)

    Touchstone Pictures

    The trope: The main characters find themselves in a situation where they have to be in a fake relationship, but end up falling in love for real.

    This trope is a go-to for me, and it's without a doubt entertaining. Now, would I ever want to be in a fake relationship? Absolutely not. But for some odd reason, I enjoy watching two characters going through fake couple shenanigans, developing actual feelings for each other. Every corny romantic moment that happens between the characters always makes me squeal with utter joy. While the premise behind the contract relationship is utterly bonkers, I am completely sold on the growing attraction and begging for the relationship to become real. I am all in for this trope and am desperate for more.

    Movies with this trope: The Proposal, The Wedding Date, Marry Me, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, andCan’t Buy Me Love.

    Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, romantic comedies will continue to grace us with their presence on the big screen. And to those who can’t get enough of them like I do, we will continue to get our fix on predictable and lovable cheesy storytelling.

    I know I didn’t cover all of the romantic comedy tropes, so let me know if I missed any or if there are any new tropes you wish Hollywood would explore more of in the comments below!

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