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5 Popular Romance Tropes in Books, TV, and Movies

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

What is a trope? A trope is a literary device, often used in literature and film, defined as a recurring theme, pattern, or figure of speech. It tends to be confused with the term “cliche,” but tropes aren’t necessarily a negative thing. It is simply a particular medium you tend to see in various pieces of work. Romance is one of my favorite genres when it comes to books and tv; it is always interesting to point out different common ways that characters are brought together romantically. Out of the endless amounts of romantic tropes that exist, I compiled a list of popular romance tropes that are either loved dearly by audiences or greatly despised.

Enemies to Lovers 

This trope is either loved or hated by many. The “Enemies to Lovers” trope is when two characters strongly dislike each other but over time, overcome their disagreements and miscommunication and develop romantic feelings. These characters tend to deny their obvious love for each other but, eventually, come to terms with their feelings. Although this trope may be disliked by many due to its perceived toxicity, many others do enjoy the spice it adds to the storyline.

Friends to Lovers

One of the most common romantic tropes that appear in literature and film. The “Friends to Lovers” trope involves two people with an established friendship who potentially find their love for each other. The majority of the time, there was never any intention of starting a relationship, but there may be an event or moment that sparks this underlying love.

Love Triangle 

Ultimatums, jealousy, heartbreak. The “Love Triangle” trope usually involves three characters, where two of them have a romantic interest in the third character, leading to competition to get the lover’s undivided attention and heart. This trope is a classic; however, it tends to be the most controversial of them all since it’s very upsetting when the lover you wanted didn’t get chosen.

Forced Proximity

Imagine this: Your English class is doing an assignment on Romeo and Juliet, and you must act out a scene with your given role. You’re given the role of Juliet. And guess who’s Romeo? This trope is more of an umbrella term, but the ultimate goal is to force two characters to spend time with one another, whether they want to or not. What’s interesting about this trope is that there is a multitude of ways that an author can embed this trope into a story due to its flexibility and versatility, whether it’s a group project, hired at the same job, or even having to share a bed together. 

The Fake Relationship

This trope is exactly how it is. A fake relationship. Usually, there is a goal to the fake relationship, such as making another character jealous. The majority of the time there are no romantic feelings in the beginning. Over time, one, or maybe even both parties gain attraction towards each other.

Although I’ve only touched on a couple of surface-level tropes, numerous amounts exist in the film and literature realm. What’s your favorite, and which do you hate the most?

Sandra Odai is an active member of Her Campus at Pace University. She currently is a social media assistant who helps oversee the Her Campus Instagram and Tik Tok accounts. Her articles include topics covering all things entertainment. Beyond Her Campus, Sandra is majoring in Communications and Media Studies with a minor in Psychology. She is a Corps Member at Jumpstart, a national early education organization that prepares children towards success as they head to kindergarten. She has an active social media presence, as well as aspiring to become an actor professionally. In her free time, Sandra enjoys binge watching TV shows, YouTube, online shopping, and listening to music. Her favorite artists at the moment are Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Don Toliver, and more. Her favorite hobby is to have deep, late-night talks about various topics with her close friends.