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The 10 Best Romance Movie Tropes for Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of year again. Valentine’s Day is upon us and with that comes feelings of love and the desire to be in a relationship. But whether you’re spending the holiday with a significant other, by yourself or with friends, there is always an endless supply of romance movies to keep you entertained.

However, to help narrow down your choices (since we all know picking out a movie can feel like a never-ending search sometimes), here are ten great romance tropes ranked with movie recommendations. Hopefully, some which you haven’t seen before, as well as the classics that you can fall in love with all over again.

First love

First love is cute, innocent and something most people can remember and relate to. While it’s not one of my favorites, I can’t help but admit that it’s a classic trope. It can also swing from being lighthearted to heavy which makes for a wider variety of stories.

Recommended movie: A Walk to Remember

This is one of my all-time favorite Nicholas Sparks films, and it’s also kind-of underrated as the cast and acting are phenomenal. It’s a bad boy meets nice girl story with top tier character growth and a timeless essence. It’s adorable, sweet and a little heartbreaking, so be prepared with some tissues just in case.

Honorable mentions: My Girl & Flipped

Amnesia

Okay, so this one is a little split. You either love it or hate it. Personally, I think it’s not the most creative or iconic, but that being said, can still make for a funny romcom. Though not always since The Vow is a real tearjerker.

Recommended movie: 50 First Dates

A very funny yet sweet film, and one of Adam Sandler’s best, especially since to me his romance films can feel a little awkward at times… The ending is by far one of my favorites and the film is an overall feel-good story about love and the people we choose.

Honorable mentions: The Vow & About Time

Case of mistaken identity

With the case of mistaken identity trope, you’re almost always guaranteed an entertaining story. Though sometimes I get secondhand embarrassment from watching the main characters, they are still likeable as their charade is usually never done with ill intention. Most of the time, this is a pretty predictable story: The real identity is revealed, everyone is shocked, but eventually it’s a happy ending.

Recommended movie: Monte Carlo

Give Selena the recognition she deserves for this film, I beg of you. I recently rewatched it and, surprisingly, it has held up. The plot, the cast and the several different romances that occur are all entertaining and different. It’s a lighthearted but sweet film that would be great for a girls night and deserves a re-watch, especially if you haven’t seen it in a few years.

Honorable mentions: While You Were Sleeping & Meet Joe Black

Friends to lovers

This movie trope is one I want to love, and it’s actually my best friend’s favorite. However, I can’t help but think how vanilla it is. Of course, it’s very cute and pure to see friends become lovers and slowly grow closer over time, and I do appreciate and enjoy movies with this theme. But I must admit, sometimes it can get a little boring and lack the spice I want in a romance flick.

 Recommended movie: Love, Rosie

Best friends since they were kids, Rosie and Alex are shown over the years as they grow up, face challenges in life, and slowly realize their feelings for each other. It has some right person, wrong time moments thrown in, which makes for a slow burn and a more satisfying ending. Since we get to watch the characters learn to be their best selves and achieve their goals independently before coming together.

Honorable mentions: 13 Going on 30 & One Day

Tale as old as time

Movies based off of fairy tales are nothing new, however, they’re still entertaining and can stand out when done in a unique way. Some may prefer the copy-and-paste retelling of Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, but it’s the ones that are done differently that carry this trope along. And there’s a reason these stories continue to be redone and reinterpreted year after year- they’re timeless.

Recommended movie: Ever After

Okay, so this could be potentially biased since I grew up watching this version, but it’s one of the best Cinderella movies honestly because it doesn’t feel like every other Cinderella movie. The chemistry between the leads is fantastic, and the relationships in Ella’s life are deeper and more compelling than your average story. It’s Disney meets Romeo and Juliet and I love it.

Honorable mentions: Ella Enchanted & The Princess Bride

The fake relationship

I love a good plot, scheme or ploy in a movie, especially when it involves relationships. If nothing else, it always adds drama, and when it comes to romance, what is love without a little drama? Fake relationships are hilarious because you know it’s not going to work out how the characters wanted it to. But it’s still funny and satisfying to see them try (bonus points if they’re enemies or rivals in the beginning).

 Recommended movie: The Proposal

One of the best romcoms ever. Seriously. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are so good together. Watching things slowly spiral out of control while the two main characters begin to fall for each other is both funny and romantic. They’re also enemies to lovers but with a workplace spin, so like I said before, bonus points.

Honorable mentions: Just Go with It & How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Secretly royal/rich

I mean, what girl hasn’t dreamed about a prince or wealthy CEO falling in love with her? Listen, I know this trope is 100% the most farfetched on this list, but it’s also one of the reasons why it’s among my favorites. It’s so ridiculous and improbable but still so dreamy, and at least these movies allow me to live out the fantasy for a little bit. Watching the main character navigate the lives of the rich or royal is endearing (they’re just like us!) and seeing the two leads fight to be together (because we know they never are at the start) always makes me believe in love again.

Recommended movie: Crazy Rich Asians

I can’t even begin to count how many times I have seen this film. It is by FAR one of my all-time favorites. I mean the cast, the acting, the drama, I live and die for it. It’s a unique take on the poor girl/rich boy trope as the male character isn’t entitled and the poor girl isn’t some helpless damsel- which is amazing and so much better than the alternative. If somehow you haven’t seen this movie, it’s an absolute must!

Honorable mentions: The Prince & Me and Roman Holiday

Right person, wrong time

Most of my friends don’t understand why I love these movies so much because, as far as romance movies go, they aren’t exactly happy-ending films. So, fair warning to anyone looking for a feel-good happily-ever-after movie these ones may not be for you. However, I still think they’re great because they show how life isn’t perfect and that just because it doesn’t work out doesn’t mean it wasn’t love. I also have a thing for romance movies that can make me cry, so these check that box for me.

Recommended movie: Something Borrowed

This movie is a hot mess of love triangles and will-they-won’t-they, but I kind of love it because of that. It shows that love isn’t perfect and, unfortunately, doesn’t always work out, despite how “meant to be” you think the characters are. It also explores some grey areas and questions what things are right and wrong if you’re in love. Overall, this movie is a more lighthearted take on the trope, so if you’re not looking to bawl your eyes out but also aren’t a fan of the super sappy, give this one a go.

Honorable mentions: The Spectacular Now & La La Land

Forbidden love

This is one of the most classic romance storylines of all time, which still holds up today as one of the best. Elements of true love, heartache and barriers between two lovers all wrapped into one make my sappy romantic heart so stupidly happy. Also, the number of amazing films that fit into this category further proves why forbidden love belongs so high on this list.

Recommended movie: The Notebook

Need I explain? Being one of the only forbidden romance movies with a happy ending (though, is it?), this film will always hold a special place in romance movie history and the hearts of millions of women. What I wouldn’t give for my own Noah Calhoun.

Honorable mentions: Brokeback Mountain & Titanic

Enemies to lovers

Say what you will, but this has been and will always be a top-tier love story trope for me. There is just something about hate turned to love, a slow-burn romance, and sly banter between the lead characters that gets me every time. It’s both entertaining and satisfying to see them fall for each other as the film goes on. And they just go to show how sometimes you can’t help who you love.

Recommended movie: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Look, it’s a classic story for a reason, and the 2005 version with Kiera Knightly is just *chef’s kiss*. The chemistry, the acting, even the side characters are amazing. This is a must-watch even if period pieces aren’t your thing. Though, there have also been various retellings of Jane Austen’s story with modern concepts. However, nothing will or can compare to the 2005 version.

Honorable mentions: 10 Things I Hate About You & Life as We Know It

BONUS: Romance Musicals

So, this is less a romance trope and more a genre, which is why it’s not in the rankings (though it would be in the top five for me if it was). Musicals are among my favorite types of movies, blame it on me being a theater kid when I was younger. But there is just something extra captivating about when characters sing, and songs have always been able to express feelings in a deeper and more complete way.

Recommended movie: Mamma Mia!

Did I add this as a bonus category simply because of this movie? Maybe. It is just too good to not include though. It’s that iconic, everything including the cast; I mean Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried as leading ladies? Yes please! And the soundtrack is amazing, thank you ABBA you’re iconic. It’s an entertaining, sweet and hilarious film that even non-musical fans can enjoy.

Honorable mentions: The Last Five Years & The Phantom of the Opera

cj wolfe

Alabama '23

Cj is a current junior at the University of Alabama, majoring in Apparel Design with a minor in Studio Art and International Studies. Orignially from Southern California, she enjoys reading, film photography, relaxing at the beach and spending time with her friends and family. In addition to Her Campus UA she is a 4.0 student, CHES Crenshaw Leadership Academy fellow, and a third-year member of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority.
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