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This Tuesday on Lifetime, Valerie Bertinelli stars in a "Lifetime Original Movie"... "Men Are Terrible And Will Hurt You Because This Is Lifetime."

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 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.


Lifetime is the Trope Namer for

Original works with their own pages

Tropes found in other Lifetime shows and movies include:

  • All Men Are Perverts: In select movies, a lot of the male characters are usually sexual deviants or rapists.
  • 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:
  • The Cheerleader:
  • 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 the movie 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.
  • 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 A Hallmark Presentation.
  • 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.
  • Here We Go Again!: With some dramatic films, Yandere films specifically, the Villain Protagonist sometimes finds someone new that they obsess over.
  • Mama Bear: Thrillers tend to have women 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, medial 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: A good chunk of these 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.
  • 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 one of another, they premiered two movies (The Au Pair Nightmare, The Captive Nanny) about an Ingenue 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: One frequent producer of original movies for the channel, Ken Sanders, seems to have one of these for his movies, centered around Whittendale College/University, a fictional 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.
  • Villain Protagonist: For the Yandere movies, they focus on this type of protagonist who is slowly losing their mind because of their obsession.
  • Yandere: For all types of people, all types of age groups, and all types of love.


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