Hallmark Fans Are Split Over 1 Common Christmas Movie Trope

The holiday season touches nearly every aspect of life near the close of each year. With Christmas carols, festive decorations, and family traditions galore, there’s something to get everybody in the mood for the season. For some TV fans though, there’s one tradition they look forward to all year —the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas specials. These formulaic films have just the right amount of cheesy and emotional to be a great tradition to watch with friends and family and for many they’ve become a treasured part of the Christmas season. Though few viewers watch them expecting anything other than cookie-cutter Christmas joy, there’s one specific trope in these movies that some fans just can’t quite get over.

(L-R) Debbie Matenopoulos and Nick Lachey smiling in front of a Christmas tree on Hallmark's 'Home & Family'
(L-R) Debbie Matenopoulos and Nick Lachey | Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Tidings of good cheer

Without fail each winter, Hallmark puts out a slew of Christmas and holiday-themed original movies for viewers to enjoy. Though these movies often offer similar casts and recycled storylines, viewers still can’t get enough. For many, the point of the holiday season isn’t new and challenging plot lines and surprises — it’s the comfort and warmth of the familiar. With this in mind, Hallmark has found a niche every year with family-friendly holiday programming. Though often revisiting similar plot lines, these films always offer a guaranteed feel-good experience and can feel for many families like revisiting holiday classics, without having to watch the exact same movie every year.

It’s the most wonderful time

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One repeatedly used trope in Hallmark Christmas movies has brought some contentious opinions from fans, however. Time travel has repeatedly featured in their storylines over the years and leaves some fans feeling like it takes away from their immersion in the holiday spirit. During a discussion on Reddit, one viewer remarked “I hate the time travel trope. Especially when the person travels forward in time and so easily accepts cell phones, cars, computers, current fashion, etc, and doesn’t have a complete mental breakdown. They just slide into the 21st century.”

It can be pretty hard to sell time travel as believable in a movie that is about Christmas comfort rather than science fiction. While Hallmark makes good movies, that’s a lot to expect when the appeal of their movies is a familiar and cozy structure. That certainly hasn’t stopped the network from trying this controversial trope repeatedly over the years, with mixed results.

Christmas time is here (again)

Incorporating time travel into Christmas storytelling is at least as old as Charles Dickens, and when Hallmark released It’s Christmas, Carol in 2012, it obviously wasn’t hard for audiences to enjoy a modern take on the classic A Christmas Carol. Pete’s Christmas debuted in 2013 and it wasn’t that much of a stretch for audiences to accept its Groundhog Day-like premise and enjoy it. There is something natural about dwelling on the past and looking toward the future at the end of the year and this does seem to encourage these two themes to work together well.

Hallmark wasn’t done revisiting Dickens yet, specifically the Ghost of Christmas Past which clearly inspired Hallmark’s next foray into time travel in 2014’s Back to Christmas, in which a woman gets to travel back in time one year to “fix” her previous Christmas. 2015’s Just in Time for Christmas seemed to be more Ghost of Christmas Future, where a woman is transported forward in time to see the results of her decisions today. 2016 offered another familiar title, with Journey Back to Christmas.

Hallmark has packed this trope into nearly every holiday season. This year’s Nashville Christmas Carol and Christmas Comes Twice both featured this common time-travel theme. By now, since Hallmark replays previous year’s movies usually, it seems like this storyline is playing on the network much of the time. Though the idea of time travel used in Hallmark Christmas movies has fans divided, the appeal of Hallmark’s Christmas movie lineup is their familiarity.