Holidays
57 voters

The 15 Tropes That Show Up In Every Christmas Movie

Updated December 13, 2019 635 votes 57 voters 1.4k views15 items

List RulesVote up the tropes you're tired of seeing.

It's time to fully embrace the Christmas season without judgment. You know what that means - holiday movies packed with beloved Christmas tropes. 

While you might love a good seasonal film, it's just a fact that some of the best Christmas movies include the same tired themes and storylines you've seen a thousand times before. Christmas will be ruined if Santa doesn't arrive! We have to teach the angry Grinch the true meaning of Christmas! Gifts mean nothing without the gift of family! Do these sentiments sound familiar? They should. You've only seen them in every Christmas movie to ever be created. 

While each trope manages to transforms itself into a tear-inducing storyline, it's understandable if you're ready for some fresh content.

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  • 1

    The Adorable Moppet

    Photo: How the Grinch Stole Christmas / Universal Pictures

    This Christmas movie trope revolves around the inclusion of a sickeningly sweet child that people just can't resist. Whether precocious, terribly naive, or just plain cute, the story centers on this child and their need to have a good Christmas.

    Appears in: 

    • It's a Wonderful Life
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas 
    • Miracle on 34th Street 
    • A Christmas Carol 
    43
    12
    Is this overused?
  • 2

    Christmas Needs Saving

    Photo: The Santa Clause / Buena Vista Pictures

    Superheroes save the entire world from impending danger, but holiday movie protagonists save Christmas from looming disaster. This trope puts Christmas itself in danger, then follows the movie characters as they struggle to save the holiday season.

    Appears in: 

    • The Santa Clause 
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas 
    • The Year Without a Santa Claus
    • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 
    37
    14
    Is this overused?
  • 3

    Santa Is Real

    Photo: The Polar Express / Warner Bros. Pictures

    This popular movie trope follows children as they teach their parents to believe in Santa. Oftentimes it starts with a child who's already questioning their own beliefs, only to be served irrefutable evidence that Santa Claus does exist. They then pass this knowledge on to their parents, who revert to their former childlike trust of the holiday figure.

    Appears in: 

    • The Santa Clause 
    • The Polar Express 
    • Elf 
    • Miracle on 34th Street 
    36
    13
    Is this overused?
  • 4

    The Christmas Miracle

    Photo: Miracle on 34th Street / 20th Century Fox

    This trope follows a down-and-out hero who just needs a win as they head into the holiday season. Through the magic of Christmas, the protagonist experiences a glorious stroke of good luck that miraculously fixes all their problems. Thank goodness for the magical holiday season!

    Appears in:

    • It's a Wonderful Life 
    • Miracle on 34th Street 
    • Jingle All the Way 
    36
    14
    Is this overused?