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Lifetime is an American cable TV channel with programming geared towards female audiences. Through Lifetime Entertainment Services, the channel is currently owned by A+E Networks; a joint venture between Disney and the Hearst Corporation. The channel was launched in 1984 as the result of a merger between two networks co-owned by ABC and Hearst — the Cable Health Network (which explains why in Lifetime's early days, the lineup included reruns of Marcus Welby, M.D.) and Daytime.

Originally focused on talk shows, Lifetime later added game shows (most notably Supermarket Sweep and Shop 'Til You Drop) and syndicated programs to its lineup. These days, Lifetime is best known — and infamous — for giving rise to a subgenre of Made For TV Movies that feature similar plots and themes, as well as its flagship reality series Dance Moms, the reception to which has been polarizing to say the least. Critics also argue that Lifetime's programming merely panders to, or even exploits, its target audience.

Even so, the network's programming has long provided a training ground for up-and-coming talent, and at the very least delivers on the "female-centered" promise; practically every Lifetime movie passes The Bechdel Test in its first few minutes. It's also provided opportunities for women behind the camera, making something of a specialty out of featuring work produced by well-known actresses (like Vivica A. Fox with The Wrong movies, while Whoopi Goldberg and Angie Harmon have also produced recent Lifetime movies).

Lifetime is the Trope Namer for

Original works with their own pages

Tropes found in other Lifetime shows and movies include:

  • The Ace: Lifetime's Teen Drama movies almost always feature a heroine who's pretty, a standout student, and usually also a sports star (especially soccer) or cheerleader.
  • All Men Are Perverts: A lot of the male characters in their movies are sexual deviants or rapists.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Long Lost Daughter has a very rare example for a Lifetime movie. Cathy's seven-year-old daughter Michelle disappeared, and twenty years later she meets a woman also named Michelle, and becomes convinced that she's her daughter, though Michelle denies it when Cathy confronts her about it. Then Cathy imprisons Michelle in the other Michelle's childhood bedroom. Michelle discovers a cassette tape in an air vent and plays it on a boom box, and it features audio of Cathy's husband being abusive toward young Michelle. Next time she sees her, Michelle tells Cathy that she is her daughter, which could plausibly be just a ploy to get Cathy to let her go, but Michelle's anguish also suggests Stockholm Syndrome, or, shockingly, that she's telling the truth. The search for the tape in the vent also points toward Michelle really being the daughter, since it's an oddly random place to dig around in when you've been unjustly trapped by a deranged woman, but makes sense if it was something she hid there as a child and suddenly remembered. The movie ends with all three possibilities still open, without a resolution.
  • Based on a True Story: A good chunk of their movies and miniseries (either theirs or bought from other networks) are this. And their Intimate Portrait series was basically "Biography" for women.
  • Camp:
  • Crossover: An unusual example for the network's movies with Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker's Nightmare, which has that franchise's Villain Protagonist Dr. Albert Beck treating Michelle Miller, the sexsomniac wife from Sleepwalking In Suburbia.
  • Dead Man Honking: In Sleeping With The Devil, a woman deliberately invokes this (although she's merely injured, not dead) in an attempt to call for help, having just been shot several times by the hitman hired by her ex-boyfriend to kill her.
  • A Deadly Affair: A lot of their movies that feature adultery will have one of the three key players—the cheating spouse, the cuckolded spouse, the other woman/man, turning homicidal against one of the others.
  • Depending on the Writer: Lifetime has a core group of production houses they get movies from, and each one has an identifiable Signature Style. Johnson Production Groupnote  (the Stalked By My Doctor franchise, Deadly Mile High Club)—trashy, over-the-top, often becoming Camp. Reel One Entertainment (The Cheerleader Escort)—extreme Melodrama, often centering on an Ingenue who gets into a dangerous situation. Hybrid LLC (The Wrong... franchise)—almost like a mix of Johnson and Reel One, but with an emphasis on Fanservice (male and female). MarVista Entertainmentnote —lots of mayhem and action, with titles like You May Now Kill the Bride. Some other companies are starting to become Lifetime favorites, like Incendo (similar to Reel One—both companies are based in Montreal—but more polished and with more character-oriented writing).
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Before the Lifetime Movie of the Week settled on "sordid thriller" and Ripped from the Headlines as its main modes, many Lifetime movies were Lighter and Softer, with lots of examples of Romantic Comedy and light fantasy. Eventually those styles migrated to the Hallmark Channel (except for Lifetime's annual slate of Christmas RomComs).
  • Either/Or Title: Some movies have alternate titles, which may be left in the end credits. If you look at some of the movie posters, they may have a completely different title than what the movie officially has. This is largely because Lifetime buys movies from independent production houses, then often gives them punchier titles than whatever they were originally filmed as.
  • Evil Twin: One of the most frequent examples of a Recycled Premise in Lifetime movies. The Evil Twin inevitably poses as the Good Twin, with either Frame-Up or I Just Want to Be You motives.
  • Genre Anthology: The offshoot LMN network is essentially this for the Lifetime Movie of the Week, with daily movie slates centered around a theme.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Stalked By My Husband's Ex is a wild example, crossed with Gambit PileupKristen, the "My" in the title, is indeed stalked by Lisa, the "Husband's Ex", but with a half-hour left in the movie Lisa is murdered, and it turns out that Matt, Kristen's ex, has been stalking Kristen at the same time, was responsible for a death Kristen blamed on Lisa, and killed Lisa because she was getting in his way.
  • Here We Go Again!: With some dramatic films, Yandere films specifically, the Villain Protagonist sometimes finds someone new that they obsess over.
  • Live-Action Cartoon: The more campy Lifetime movies qualify, with absurdly virtuous heroines and fiendish villains depicted doing things like Slipping a Mickey and Vehicular Sabotage.
  • Mama Bear: With the whole "female empowerment" vibe that the network tries to embody, naturally their thrillers tend to have women tenaciously protect their children when they're in danger.
  • My Beloved Smother: A few movies include very overprotective parents who attempt or succeed in killing their child's significant other. One of the more prominent examples is Diana Donahue from Too Close to Home, who clung to her 30-year-old son and killed her daughter-in-law for trying to take him away from her. She was actually based off a real woman who was the exact same way.
  • Network Decay: Lifetime's programming, especially their original movies, has devolved into parody, stereotypes, and cliches.
    • The most common criticism of Lifetime is that, despite being geared towards women, much of their acquired programming is generic filler, that is, shows with no connection nor relation to each other nor to Lifetime's original programming. It can be argued that some of these shows may be popular with women, such as crime-related programming, medical dramas, and romance-themed sitcoms. Yet, ultimately, these shows are aimed at a general audience. On a plus side, quite a few cases on Unsolved Mysteries were solved by viewers who watched it on this channel instead of on its original station.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The movie Look Who's Stalking debuted on July 23, 2023, but since it's supposed to be taking place a couple of months after a death depicted in the opening scene, and the gravestone of the person who died has a September 2023 death date, the film was technically set about four months after its debut.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: The 2022 movie Dying to Win stars gymnast and social media personality Mia Dinoto (as a gymnast and social media personality).
  • Non-Indicative Name: A huge chunk of the movies and Mini Series that they air were actually created by CBS, NBC, ABC, or are theatrical films, despite often adhering to the typical "woman in jeopardy" plot.
  • Not Good with Rejection: For romantic thrillers, the protagonist tends to fly off the handle when their loved one rejects their feelings.
    • Devon from The Perfect Teacher makes up a story about Jim, her teacher and the object of her obsession, raping her after he rejects her advances. She offers to get him reinstated and deny the story if he agrees to love her.
  • Only So Many Canadian Actors: As with The Hallmark Channel, a good chunk of their movies are filmed in either Vancouver or Ontario, creating lots of You Look Familiar moments.
  • The Peeping Tom: A lot of their movies feature these. They don't just settle for looking in Windows, instead opting to install cameras in their target's homes so as to monitor everything they do.
  • Police Are Useless: Lifetime's movies tend to make the police as incompetent as possible. This usually results in the hero/heroine stopping the antagonist on their own. It's pretty rare to see police officers portrayed correctly with this network.
  • Posthumous Credit: The channel debuted Girl in Room 13 on September 17, 2022, a little over a month after the death of its star Anne Heche.
  • "Rear Window" Homage: Stalked By My Neighbor, in which a paranoid high school girl who just moved to the suburbs takes pictures of her neighbors from her bedroom window and suspects one neighbor of murdering another.
  • The Remake: The network has recently put out several of these of movies originally aired on NBCNo One Would Tell, Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? (which added the twist of making the stalker a Psycho Lesbian), and Death Of A Cheerleader. The latter two even included the main stars of the original in supporting roles—Tori Spelling played the Damsel in Distress in the original Danger, the concerned mother in the remake, while Kellie Martin was the killer in the original Cheerleader, an FBI agent in the remake.
  • Rescue Romance: Inverted with the Stalked By My Doctor movies. Dr. Beck becomes obsessed with young women that he saves. His deranged mind creates fantasies where these women reciprocate his feelings, thus making him believe that this trope is in effect on both sides.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: While still adhering to the typical "woman in peril" plot, their better movies are the ones based on Real Life events—the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, the Ariel Castro abductions, etc.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Pick any Lifetime movie, and odds are you can find another Lifetime movie with almost the exact same plot. One particularly blatant case was in 2020 when, within two weeks of one another, they premiered two movies (The Au Pair Nightmare, The Captive Nanny) about a Na├»ve Everygirl who goes to work as a nanny for the precocious child of rich, eccentric, overly strict parents, with The Reveal that the mother is obsessed with a male celebrity (including a hidden Stalker Shrine to them) and thinks the celebrity is her child's father.note 
  • Shared Universe: Johnson Production Group, one of the main content providers for the channel, seems to have one for their movies, centered around Whittendale College/University, a fictional elite school that seems quite popular among young, pretty, nubile ingenues (they either attend the school, or, if they're still in high school, want to attend it). Unfortunately, it turns out that Whittendale is basically to prostitution and sexual exploitation what Hudson University is to murder.
  • Sporting Event: A&E Networks signed a three-year deal with the National Women's Soccer League in 2017, buying an equity stake in the league. Under this deal, Lifetime broadcasts an NWSL Game of the Week.
    • In its early years, Lifetime had aired coverage of the WNBA and events such as the America's Cup.
  • Stalker with a Crush: A healthy percentage of the channel's original movies are basically rewrites of Fatal Attraction, with the villain falling in obsessive love with the protagonist (or the protagonist's boyfriend/husband).
  • Strictly Formula: Lifetime's movies have a bunch of stock plotlines and stock characters, to the extent that they're probably closer in profile to Commedia dell'Arte than any cinematic tradition. Even the basic structure is pretty consistent from movie to movie: heroine gets some kind of new start (new school, new job, new town), gets into a hairy predicament, some sort of important revelation or turning point happens halfway through, and the heroine gets confronted by the villain in last few minutes.
  • Teens Are Monsters: In select movies, teenagers can be brats, bullies, or even juvenile delinquents, and, in the worst cases, murderers.
  • Thematic Series: The channel's original movie lineup has a loose bunch of these, grouped together by Mad Lib-type titles (like Stalked By..., Deadly..., Suburbia, Psycho..., ... at 17 (which Lifetime even got a Trademark for), The...She/He Met Online), but otherwise unconnected. The Wrong... movies are tied together more closely by having Vivica A. Fox in a different supporting role in each one (and she usually gets to make the Title Drop at the end).
  • Villain Protagonist: For the Yandere movies, they focus on this type of protagonist who is slowly losing their mind because of their obsession.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The aforementioned Whittendale College. There are contradictions as to its location. Some movies place it in New England (Sorority Murder outright places it in the fictional town of Whittendale, Vermont),note  other movies place it in the Los Angeles area.note 
  • Yandere: For all types of people, all types of age groups, and all types of love.
  • Younger and Hipper: Starting in 2016 and running for a couple of years thereafter, Lifetime's original movies went through an odd teen-focused Horror phase, including a vampire-themed remake of the classic 90s Thriller Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? and a movie called Zombie at 17, seemingly in a bid to compete with similar offerings on The CW and Netflix.