Top 10 Cheesy Christmas Movie Clichés



Top 10 Cheesy Christmas Movie Clichés

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
These cheesy Christmas movie cliches are part of the holiday fun. Our countdown includes meet cute, the couple ends up together, holiday baking, and more!

Top 10 Cheesy Christmas Movie Clichés

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 cheesy Christmas movie clichés.

For this list, we’ll be lovingly ribbing on various clichés and tropes that continuously pop up in holiday films.

What’s your favorite Christmas movie trope? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Meet Cute

Often a staple of rom-coms, a meet cute is a scene where the two protagonists meet and bond, typically over an awkward or embarrassing situation. Many Christmas movies deal with love over the holidays, which means watching a lot of meet cutes. This can be done in malls, like Jonathan and Sara meeting over a pair of gloves in “Serendipity.” Sometimes, it’s instigated through wacky screwball comedy, like when Claire inadvertently whacks Frank with the door in “Scrooged.” In “The Holiday,” Iris not only fumbles with opening the gate to Amanda’s place, but also ends up getting something in her eye. Miles gets up close and personal to help her - despite their only knowing each other for a few seconds - and Miles’ girlfriend Maggie waiting in the car.

#9: Work-to-Family Conflict

Christmas movies love to drill home messages about the importance of family, and what better way to do this than with a busy protagonist? So, the main character is typically a workaholic who doesn’t have time for their family. And sometimes they’re at the mercy of a demanding boss who requires them to work through the holidays. And so, the character realizes what they’ve been missing at home and decides that family is more important than work, thereby leaving their job in the process. A great example is “Elf,” as Walter tells his needy boss to shove it and goes to find Buddy with Michael.

#8: The Couple Ends Up Together

It’s exceedingly rare for a Christmas movie to have a tragic ending. As such, the couple at the heart of the film almost always ends up together, no matter how incompatible their personalities, families, or work lives. The couple always manages to resolve their differences - usually on Christmas Day itself with some sort of dramatic declaration. Bonus points if they kiss during a beautiful snowfall. There’s almost no sense of dramatic tension in these movies, because we all know exactly how they’re going to turn out. But then again, this is Christmas. We expect (and love) the feel-good atmosphere of the holidays.

#7: A Grumpy Person Becomes Loving

Charles Dickens changed Christmas forever in 1843 with the publication of “A Christmas Carol.” The personal journey of Ebenezer Scrooge has inspired literally countless stories and characters throughout the years, and the motifs Dickens used nearly two hundred years ago have become tropes that are still reverberating through pop culture. We come to “Elf” again, as Walter Hobbs is essentially a modern-day version of Scrooge. The Grinch is another Scrooge-like character, as he eventually changes his Christmas-hating ways and is embraced by the community. And this isn’t even touching on the countless “Christmas Carol” adaptations. It’s one of the most important works in English literature, and certainly the most influential for stories relating to Christmas.

#6: Holiday Baking

It wouldn’t be the holidays without some warm, gooey cookies and gingerbread houses. It also wouldn’t be a Christmas movie without a baking scene - or at least a scene involving cookies. Usually these scenes are used to deliver exposition of some kind, as watching people bake is more fun than watching them talk around a table. Heck, some Hallmark movies are centered entirely around baking, including “A Cookie Cutter Christmas,” and the simply-titled “Christmas Cookies.” There’s just something about flour, rolling pins, and baking trays that really gets people in the holiday spirit.

#5: Christmas Needs to Be Saved

Saving Christmas is a trope as old as time - okay, at least as old as Christmas. There are a few variations of this one, but it all boils down to the same idea. There’s the classic “Santa can’t deliver presents so someone else has to step in” trope seen in “The Santa Clause.” There’s the “Santa forgot someone” trope as seen in “Arthur Christmas.” Sometimes Santa’s sleigh breaks, as seen in “Elf,” or he needs help in some other capacity, like in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Some movies even detail the origin of Santa Claus himself, including “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and the Netflix original “Klaus.” Sometimes it’s as simple as making one kid’s Christmas extra special, like the raunchy but ultimately sweet “Bad Santa.”

#4: Warring Neighbors

Christmas isn’t just a time for peace and love - it’s also a time for decoration. And decoration tends to bring out the competitive side in people. Many Christmas movies deal with warring neighbors in some capacity, either as friendly competition or hostile dispute. Perhaps the best example of this is “Deck the Halls,” starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito as neighbors Buddy and Steve. This trope can also be spotted in “Jingle All the Way” and “Christmas Vacation,” with the latter starring “Seinfeld”’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Clark’s neighbor. This trope is often a good source of comedy, and an especially great source for extravagant Christmas decor.

#3: Coming Back Home (to a Small Town)

An especially popular trope seen in Christmas movies is the big shot protagonist from the city returning to their humble hometown for the holidays. “Just Friends” is perhaps the most obvious example of this, as hotshot music producer Chris Brander goes home and clashes with his family and old school acquaintances. This is an especially popular trope for Hallmark and made-for-TV movies, including the Neil Patrick Harris-led “The Christmas Blessing.” This is also used in “Four Christmases,” as Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are forced to spend Christmas at each of their divorced parents’ houses.

#2: Rekindling an Old Flame

If there’s one thing better than a meet cute in movies, it’s the rekindling an old flame. Christmas is often associated with forgiveness, and typically this involves giving someone a second chance. See “Just Friends” again, as Chris returns home and falls back in love with his high school crush. This is another trope that is heavily used in cheesy Hallmark movies - not that there’s anything wrong with a little cheese during the holiday season. Even Seth Rogen-produced comedies utilize this trope, as “The Night Before” sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Ethan getting back together with his ex-girlfriend, Diana. Heck, even “Die Hard,” the biggest maybe-Christmas-movie ever, uses this trope, as John reconciles with his estranged wife Holly.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

A Misunderstanding Keeps Characters Apart
This Classic Trope Is Equal Parts Cheesy & Incredibly Frustrating

Santa Claus Is Real
Many Christmas Movies Contain a Very Real Santa Claus

The Classic Kissing Under the Mistletoe

#1: The One Who Hates Christmas

In seemingly every single Christmas movie ever made, there’s a character who hates Christmas and is very open about sharing that particular bit of information. Think of it this way: How can you tell if someone hates Christmas? Don’t worry: they’ll tell you. The reasons always differ, with some hating others’ happiness, some hating the stress of the holiday season, some hating the weather, some hating the family obligations, others having even suffered a tragic event around Christmas. Of course, those are just a few examples of a very popular and very prevalent trope. Sometimes they get past it and embrace the spirit of the holidays, and sometimes they don’t. But that’s beside the point.