Ten of My Favorite Romance Tropes

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It’s Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air! And appropriately enough, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (by the Broke and the Bookish) is All About Romance Tropes/Types. It took me a while to put together this list. Initially, I had a hard time listing out what romance tropes even exist. And then the dam broke and the ideas just came rushing through.

But before I begin – WATCH OUT! SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Star-Crossed Lovers

There’s nothing as great as a love that tries to fight against everything that is pitted against it. They might succeed, they might fail, but the struggle to be together is some of the greatest love stories ever told.

Examples: Beren + Luthien (Beren and Luthien. Coming soon! Until then, there’s the Silmarillion.), Liang Sanbo + Zhu Yingtai (the Butterfly Lovers)

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You Are the Apple of My Eye is an awesome movie. Highly recommended!

They Both Love Each Other, But There’s Just Something Else That Keeps Them Apart

On the other end of the spectrum is this trope. I’m not sure if there is a more concise name for this trope, but I enjoy this kind of romance to. There is a hint of realism to it, I feel. And it hurts my soul every time I see a couple end like this. Paper Towns’s ending shredded me for a while.

Examples: Q + Margo (Paper Towns), Ko Ching-teng + Shen Chia-yi (You Are the Apple of My Eye)

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The One That Got Away

An extension of the previous trope, but this time the couple gets a second chance. Maybe in a high school reunion ten years later. Or a chance meeting at a café in Amsterdam. Or a variety show on TV.

Examples: Nam + P’Shone (Crazy Little Thing Called Love, the whole film isn’t about this, but it’s the only example that came to mind.)

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Opposite Attracts

They are so incompatible that they just somehow fit together perfectly, like two pieces of oddly shaped puzzles.

Examples: Taiga + Ryuuji (Toradora)

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Childhood Friend

Or just best friends in general. I mean, I wrote a whole book around this idea of a romantic relationship starting with a stranger vs one with a friend. It also plays well with unrequited love, when one half of the eventual lovers is helping the other half court a third party.

Examples: Ron + Hermione (Harry Potter)

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Fake Dating

A case of fake it until you make it, but it wasn’t actually the plan in the first place, so not really? Whether it’s because of a last minute prom date to prove a point, or to unite two fighting mob factions, the two lovers started off faking their love for each other, which eventually turns real. Speaking of which, it just struck me that Nisekoi’s premise is literally the opposite of Romeo and Juliet.

Examples: Raku + Chitoge (Nisekoi (lit: Fake Love))

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The Manic Pixie Dream Girl But Not Actually

Mary Sues are “quirky”, bubbly girls that coax the boy out of his shell and serves nothing else other than to be a romantic interest. They are kinda of frowned upon, but to be honest, they are somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. Leslie and Jess from Bridge from Terabithia, for example. But more than the typical MPDGs, I like their deconstructions better.

Examples: Q + Margo (Paper Towns), Tom + Summer (500 Days of Summer)

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Unrequited Love

There’s nothing that hurts quite as much as unrequited love. The pain the character goes through are sometimes so palpable it actually hurts to watch/read. Of course, pain is only compounded when the character’s love endures. Always.

Examples: Severus Snape + Lily Evans (Harry Potter)

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A Team Up that Turns into an Unexpected Romance

When the eventual lovers work together to do something, like get revenge against cheating exs or getting each other significant others, but end up falling with each other instead.

Examples: Lin Chen-hsin + Hsu Tai-yu (Our Times)

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Gender Bender

Apparently there a lot of definitions of Gender Bender, and the one I like is not a popular definition. Anyway, the story typical goes like this. Girl dresses as guy and joins up with a group of guys. Army, all-boys school, man’s football team. One of the guys falls in love with girl, doesn’t realize she’s a girl, somewhere along the line, she’s revealed as a girl, they become a couple, the end.

Example: Mulan + Li Shang (Mulan), Ashiya + Sano (Hana Kimi)

Those are ten of my favorite romance tropes. Do you like any of them? Can you think of more examples? What sort of tropes do you like? Let me know in the comments down below!

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6 thoughts on “Ten of My Favorite Romance Tropes

  1. Ah yes, I love all of these tropes! I think my favorites are the opposites attract and fake dating ones though! I’m also looking for some animes to binge, so Toradora and Nisekoi have been added to my list. Thanks for the lovely tropes and recs!

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  2. I love this breakdown! My favorite has always been childhood friends, mostly because of my belief that being close best friends precedes being a couple. Other ones that work well for romance (and romantic comedy) are gender bender, fake love, and team-ups. Also, I think I like romance in media more when it’s light-hearted as opposed to the deep, heavy stuff in dramatic romance.

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