Wednesday, December 16, 2015

145 Romance Tropes

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

I've been making some new lists lately. My newest is a list of romance tropes that are often used in novels or movies.

Tropes can be use alone or combined. For example, if a rich young woman grew up in the same house as the cook's young son, you could have a "classes clash" trope and a "best friends/friends" first trope.

No matter which trope(s) you choose, make sure that both your hero and heroine each have two conflicts that keep them apart: an internal conflict and an external conflict. By the end of the story, they each must overcome both conflicts to reach their happily ever after ending.

Also, your hero and heroine might look differently at the situation. Could be it was "love at first sight" for your hero, but your heroine is experiencing an "everyone can see it" (except her) trope. 

Play with it. And have fun.

abduction to love
accidental pregnancy
afraid to commit
all grown up
antihero romance
arranged marriage
bait and switch
beauty and the beast
best friend’s lover
best friend’s sibling
best friends/ friends first
blind date
bodyguard crush
boy hates girl
boy meets ghoul
boy meets girl
break his heart to save him
brother’s best friend
bully turned puppy lover
can’t live with them, can’t live without them
celebrity loves commoner
celibate hero
childhood enemies fall in love
childhood friends
childhood marriage promise
Cinderella story/wrong side of the tracks
classes clash
clueless love
crazy love
damaged lead finds happily ever after
dark secret keeps them apart
different worlds
enemies to lovers
everyone can see it
fake engagement
fatal attraction
first love
fish out of water
forbidden love/Romeo and Juliet
friends with benefits
girl wants bad boy
guy wants cheerleader
huge guy, tiny girl/ tiny guy, huge girl
if I can’t have you, no one will!
imaginary love triangle
impotent love
innocent cohabitation
instant/false sweethearts
it happened in Vegas
jilted bride/groom
law enforcement
long distance relationship
long-term lovers
love at first sight
love interest has a profession protagonist abhors
love interest reminds of estranged family member
love potion
love reforms villain
love triangle
lovers in denial/ they’re the last to know
mad love
mail-order bride
marriage of convenience
men in uniform
mistaken declaration of love leads to love
mistaken identity
noble rescuer steps in, She’s dating Mr. Wrong
nobody thinks it will work
not good enough for him/her
oblivious to love
older man, younger woman/ older woman, younger man
on the rocks
one night stand
one wants true love/other wants a fling
oops! fall in love with the wrong person (which could ruin everything!)
opposites attract
overly shy love
parent/childcare worker
partners in crime
passionate lovers
Plain Jane get the hottie
pretending to be married or engaged
rejected as unworthy/ turns life around
reluctant sex worker
removing the rival
rescue romance
return to hometown
reunion romance
rich man, poor woman/ rich woman, poor man
rivals/ protagonist vs. antagonist
road trip romance
rock star hero
runaway bride/groom
scars from the past
second chance at love
second time around
secret admirer
secret baby- He doesn’t know she’s PG
secret that can end everything
sibling triangle
sibling’s ex-spouse
similarities attract
sleeps with everyone but you
sorry, I’m taken
stranded together
sudden parent
the one that got away
time travel
tortured hero(ine)
tragic love affair
tragic past
two-person love triangle (involves some mistaken identity) ex. superman
ugly duckling
unobtainable love interest/ one-sided
unrequited love
unrequited-love-switcheroo love triangle
unwanted harem
wallflower noticed by the rake
was it all a lie? (undercover love)
(wo)man in peril
working with the ex
workplace romance

Which tropes are some of your favorites? Which do you hate? See any that I'm missing? Share in the comments.

And click here to download a nice printable version of the list.


  1. Yay for lists! My book isn't strictly a romance, but I'd have to say their romance is part "stranded together" and part "rivals". Thanks again for the list, Mrs. Williamson.

    1. You're welcome, Linea! I like the combo of "stranded together" and "rivals." It sounds fun.

  2. I had a question because "imaginary love triangle" caught my eye and I wondered exactly what you meant. Does this mean the protagonist believes two other characters have fallen in love with her, when in reality they haven't?
    If so, I was wondering if anyone's read a book with this scenario, because this is the first I've heard of it. (Although it would seem a good way to twist the now stereotype love triangle).

    1. Imaginary love triangle involves an assumption on at least one part. Like when a girl assumes that the guy she likes is dating someone else when he's not. A good example is Han Solo, Leia, and Luke Skywalker. Han sees Leia and Luke have deep conversations, etc, and assumes Leia loves Luke and not him. This is a tiny subplot in the Star Wars saga, but this type of a mistaken assumption can be a major plot.

    2. Perfect example. I love that little subplot.

    3. Yes that's a wonderful example. Thanks for answering my question, Jill. :)

  3. abduction to love to last one i.e workplace romance,all are good. Even in my writing I'm using some of them troops like rejected as unworthy, second chance, falling in love with wrong person .'ll combine some more troops, from this. Its my first blog (in fiction). Thanks Mrs. Williamson, thanks for the list.

    You may have a look on my blog,

  4. I'm not a big romance writer, but I do enjoy having a little bit in my books, although I usually have them date a few people before finding Mr. or Ms. Perfect. In one book I have a sibling triangle (which doesn't actually count as true romance, but I'm not sharing spoilers), and then in another one I have a best-friend's-brother. I'm also a sucker for good-guy-bad-guy love triangles, which I either didn't see or just missed.

    1. Sounds fun, Lily. I thought I had a good guy/bad guy one up there, but maybe I'm thinking of the bully one or the abduction one. Hmmm...

  5. I definitely like bully turned puppy love.

  6. Fake engagement mixed with innocent cohabitation is a great trope! One of my faves. :)

  7. So awesome! Thank you!! (hehe... I love lists...) My current novel has oblivious to love and tortured hero on the guys part, and overly shy love on the girls, as a small subplot.

    My next book is going to have a large theme of girl falls for bad boy, which then turns into tragic love.

    And, is it just me or does that "prove your not a robot" thing feel like a test of your intelligence? ;)

  8. I do not do much with romance, but I was wondering if being toyed with by a black widow counts as romance.

  9. Interesting, Jill! I had never really put this much thought into the "romantic element" when you're not writing a romance. Gave me some ideas, I liked alot of them:)Tho I'm not sure I knew what some of them were referring to...?