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Lifetime Movie of the Week

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Showing that women have the power, one flick at a time.note 

A genre of Made for TV Movies, also known as "Women in Jeopardy," that feature similar plots and thematic elements — mainly aggrieved women and their struggles to find empowerment of one sort or another.

The Trope Namer is Lifetime, a cable TV channel in the United States with programming geared toward female audiences (or, at least, female audiences who conform to Lifetime's conception of its target demographic), which is well known for giving rise to the subgenre. Original movies are such a bedrock for the Lifetime brand that it has a spinoff network devoted entirely to them (LMN) and a series of movies literally using "Ripped From The Headlines" as their collective title.

Despite being the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier, Lifetime didn't invent the genre. Starting in The '80s, the major US networks added stories in this fashion to their Made-for-TV Movie lineups, and saw them get phenomenal ratings. Hollywood studios even got into the act with films like Not Without My Daughter and Sleeping with the Enemy. Lifetime itself got into the business with the 1990 movie Memories of Murder, starring Nancy Allen as a victim of Easy Amnesia who gets stalked by a deranged man. Its success pushed them to make more movies. Meanwhile, The '90s also saw NBC revamp their Monday Night at the Movies series to appeal more to young women. The result was a whole slew of ripe Melodrama movies loaded with familiar TV faces, including the immortal Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?, starring Tori Spelling. As the other networks began to move away from TV movies, Lifetime became the home of the subgenre, adopting the other networks' movies and the theatrical films and airing them frequently, to the point that "Lifetime movie" is now a generic description (Indeed, only two of the movies in the page image above were actually produced for Lifetime).

The four basic plots of the Lifetime Movie of the Week can be summarized as follows:

  • Woman against man. A woman suffers from Domestic Abuse, Parental Incest, or has a Stalker with a Crush or psycho ex-boyfriend. Rape as Drama may be involved or merely threatened. This plot is very likely to end in a Karmic Death for the Evil Man.
  • Woman against woman. A woman is abused, oppressed, or vilified by another woman — either in a position of power over her, like her boss or mother; or a jealous ex / stalker of the Good Woman's boyfriend/husband. The Evil woman is always prettier and more popular than the heroine. The more cartoonish ones may climax with a Designated Girl Fight. This one is likely to end in the Evil Woman going to jail, though the evil ex and stalker are more prone to Karmic Death.
  • Woman against child. A woman has a problem child — autistic, seriously ill, violent, or drug-addicted. She must fight accusations of abuse or neglect while trying to find someone to help her cope. This one usually turns out in a Downer Ending if the child is beyond help.
  • Woman against herself. A selfish, alcoholic, or generally insane woman wrecks her life and/or family despite everyone's attempts to help. This one is likely to end up in her being a Karma Houdini, unless it's Ripped from the Headlines and the real life woman in question went to jail. Also, there is usually a sympathetic character who serves one of the above roles.

In all cases, she must fight not only against her problems, but also against the Uncaring System that refuses to believe her or even accuses her of being the villain. Anyone on her side is unable or unwilling to help her, except for one person, typically male, who comes to believe in her or her plight and comes to her rescue at the end, but not before she's been put through a Trauma Conga Line.

One reason for the films' similarities is that they are designed to play on the fears of their target demographic. Thus, the themes of violent or uncaring men, female rivalries, smothering mothers, difficult children, and absent support systems are prevalent. Though notionally intended to send a message of empowerment by having the female triumph, it can seem like they have the opposite effect, as the world is depicted as harshly uncaring and even antagonistic toward "good" women, and rarely does a protagonist succeed without help from a male ally. For the same reason, expect Ripped from the Headlines and Very Loosely Based on a True Story to come into play (and be heavily advertised).

For the opposite, see A Hallmark Presentation, named for the Hallmark Hall of Fame series of films which, appropriately for a greeting-card company, tend towards the other end of the scale.

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    Tropes common to the subgenre 
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: If the movie is of the “Woman with a problem child” variety, expect the child’s issues to be used to push development for the main character.
  • All Abusers Are Male: The male characters are always the abusers in the stories centered around abuse. If there is a female abuser, it'll be shown in a Darker and Edgier, Deconstruction-style story.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Since it allows for movies with casts full of attractive young actresses, this trope and its sister trope All Guys Want Sorority Women are a recurring theme. The Cheerleader Escort and Sorority Secrets have almost identical storylines in which the respective collegiate extracurricular groups turn out to be covert escort services for the benefit of wealthy older male alumni.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Men in these movies often only think with their dicks, even (if not especially) the ones who try really hard to come across as a Nice Guy.
  • All-Star Cast: In more recent times, you'll see big names like Fiona Gubelmann, Julie Gonzalo, and other such actors in addition to new actors or up-and-coming actors raising their profiles.
  • All Take and No Give: If they're the antagonists, husbands are often presented as extremely selfish and self-centred.
  • All the Good Men Are Gay: ...and straight men are very, very evil and like being that way, especially if they're also White. Black, Latin and Asian men are only slightly less evil, but still evil if they're straight. Because... this is Lifetime.
  • All Women Are Prudes: More accurately, good women are prudes. Women with a sex drive are evil whores whose reward will eventually be death or Rape Portrayed as Redemption (sometimes both, possibly in that order). If the heroine has a lapse and sleeps with a guy, it's because he's a Manipulative Bastard who seduced her.
  • Alpha Bitch: The typical villain of the teen-centered movies behaves this way, often intersecting with Teens Are Monsters. But not all are entirely this, some become the Lovable Alpha Bitch.
  • Alternate History: Although not stated outright, very common to this genre, with many movies themselves either using it as the set-up for a Series Franchise if it gets that far.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Sometimes used in titles. Is the villain of Sorority Sister Killer someone who kills a sorority sister, or a sorority sister who kills someone? (Spoiler, it's both).
  • Ambition Is Evil: Even if the ambition is noble, obsession with self-improvement corrupts the characters. A Jerkass Realization or Heel Realization may stop this.
  • Anti-Villain: Not all villains in these movies necessarily have evil motives, some have sympathetic motives but do villainous things because they have to, not want to.
  • Artistic License – Cars: Sometimes these movies get things very wrong about cars, expect a Fauxrrari or badge-swap of a car that didn't exist in Real Life (or at the very least, a digital badge-swap). For example, one movie set in a Midwestern city, in a background shot, had a Dodge Spirit LE sedan with Chrysler pentastar badging, which never happened in the U.S. (only in Mexico and Brazil was the Dodge Spirit sold as a Chrysler), unless it's handwaved away or explained away as Artistic License – Law on vehicle imports to the U.S. or an Alternate History.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Sometimes geography comes second to the story, but perhaps due to poor research rather than Rule of Cool.
  • Artistic License – History: For some of the "based on a true story" type of movie, expect research with history to be put aside in the interests of Rule of Drama and big liberties taken; granted, there are well-researched movies. However, some use of this trope is down to lack of actual primary sources and conjecture on the writers' part. Historical research is often down to Very Loosely Based on a True Story and availability of primary sources.
  • Audience Surrogate: The heroine will typically be a pleasant, well-adjusted woman who's pretty in a Girl Next Door way, and is obviously meant as someone that younger women can see themselves as, and older women can see as an ideal daughter. In contrast, the villainess tends to be more brash, promiscuous and model-level gorgeous, so as to elicit jealousy from the audience and a vicious desire to see the villainess smashed to smithereens in retaliation.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Rare, see The Hero Dies below. But when this happens, expect the heroine to suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death to really drive the point home.
  • Bad Influencer: More often used for satire of 2010s society, not all bad influencers will be evil, some will be an Anti-Villain at best. In Deadly Influencer, it's the influencer's manager who's evil.
  • Based on a True Story: While most of their movies are of the "stalking, terrorizing" format, a good amount are also this — November 2017 particularly saw the release of three movies about notorious Real Life crimes: the disappearance of Kathleen Durst, the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, and the abduction of Elizabeth Smart.
  • Beauty Is Bad:
    • The Evil Woman tends to be more conventionally attractive than the heroine, though the heroine is typically quite good-looking herself, to the point that it can be 50/50 and in some cases, both Beauty Equals Goodness and this trope come into play.
    • The Evil Man often looks like he stepped off the cover of a Romance Novel.
  • Bitch Alert: When she's not a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, the villainess will have "bitch" and/or "whore" written all over her the minute she's being introduced.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The antagonist is presented as nice, but is anything but; they're often quite bitchy when their cover is blown.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Generally the protagonist is a blameless victim, while her antagonists have no moral ground to stand on. However, it's becoming a Discredited Trope in more recent movies that show Both Sides Have a Point or that use White-and-Grey Morality or Grey-and-Grey Morality.
  • Black Cloak: Characters who murder or commit other violent acts onscreen will invariably wear black and have their face covered, to keep viewers guessing and make it ambiguous whether it's a man or a woman—in theory. But as one blogger put it, as soon as you see the ominous figure in black, you can safely assume it's a woman (and usually the villainess), since these movies don't ever shy away from showing men being overtly evil.
  • Black Widow: A sometimes villain of the genre, established by 1991's The Perfect Bride, in which the heroine discovers her brother's mysterious fiancée is a Serial Killer, with past fiancés among her victims.
  • Brainless Beauty: There aren't that many intentional female examples of this (usually a Beta Bitch if one shows up), but in the movies where the heroine has to tangle with a sexy Serial Homewrecker trying to steal her man, the guy will typically be hot, but extremely dense and easy to manipulate.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Omnipresent in these movies, to elicit sympathy for her long-suffering mom, usually with at least one huffy "I hate you!" from the daughter as she stomps out of the room. And if she has the audacity to lose her virginity, hoo boy...
  • Break the Haughty: If the Evil Woman isn't dead as a doornail by the end of the footage, she will be publicly exposed and humiliated for all to see, often to the point of begging the heroine for mercy before being stripped of everything she has.
  • Breakup Bonfire: If the movie is about cheating and divorce, the man's belongings will often be burnt to ashes by the heroine, as part of her Revenge Against Men.
  • Broken Aesop: The movies about prostitution at times veer quite close to Do Not Do This Cool Thing. Since they tend to depict the High-Class Call Girl side of things, the protagonists get to engage in a luxurious lifestyle, the actors playing the johns are often hunky (although in more recent movies, they've had character actors playing these roles, many of whom sell on personality not looks), and the women get paid generously for their services, which all goes against the "prostitution is bad" messaging.
  • The Caligula: When it does appear, the ruler will be a politician or mayor in order to fit with the setting of the work, which is mainly an American or Canadian city.
  • Camp: You normally wouldn't associate this genre with being camp, since these works are often dark and edgy and an exaggerated style doesn't fit the genre, but many end up becoming a de facto example due to the production values and low budget, and a few movies (like those directed by Doug Campbell) are at least a little tongue-in-cheek.
  • Cassandra Truth: Don't expect our protagonist to be believed about what is going on, particularly if the system is largely run by men. In many cases, it may take years for them to be believed.
  • Chick Flick: Lifetime movies, being usually dark, bitter and vengeful, could be seen as the Evil Twin of the chick flick.
  • Children Are a Waste: A very common motif in these films is that children bring nothing but sorrow and misery to their mothers and will always grow into insufferable and ungrateful little shits, especially the Bratty Teenage Daughter.
  • Clueless Aesop: In any case, An Aesop is an Enforced Trope for these films, but in some of them, the morals aren't handled with enough nuance and the aesop doesn't come through due to the work's tone. This was a major criticism of Dispatch (911 Nightmare (outside the U.S. and Canada) which tried to present a moral of "Don't always take things at face value".
  • Comic-Book Time: Not always, but when it does happen, some movies will use a "floating timeline" and show the illusion of time passing but never mention specific dates unless it's a Period Piece work, to try and keep it timeless.
  • Competition Freak: If there's a Based on a True Story movie, it will occasionally feature this in reference to a Ripped from the Headlines story.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Both the usual trope and the "villain uses this on a victim" variant show up often.
  • Country Matters: Rare, but the Evil Woman might call the Good Woman just that in her mind in a heated moment of jealousy or at the climax. Or it's the heroic male savior of the Good Woman, sometimes the Good Woman herself, who will call the villainess the C-word, usually before they give her the Coup de Grâce.
  • Damsel in Distress: The main heroine falls into this role most of the time in order for there to be some Conflict.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: If there's a shot of a character sitting down in the driver's seat of their car, odds are quite good that this trope will end the scene.
  • Death by Falling Over: Characters getting fatally pushed down staircases or out windows is common enough that the Lifetime Uncorked blog recently warned "Note to ladies in a Lifetime movie: don’t have conversations on the stairs. EVER!"
  • Death by Woman Scorned: The Evil Woman will often attempt this on the heroine's boyfriend/husband, sometimes even on their kids or their pets. If she's ever successful, Karmic Death it is for her, preferably at the rightful hands of the protagonist or those of her heroic male protector (less common).
  • Decomposite Character: One person's role may be split into multiple for the sake of narrative and to provide a different spin on things.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: More recent movies will deconstruct some tropes, then reconstruct them, and it can send a powerful message that the optimistic conventions of the genre were not in vain after all, as they overcome the initial cynical deconstruction.
  • Defenestrate and Berate: The rare times when the heroine comes out on top against her evil husband, this is sure to happen.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Many a Lifetime plot involves the threat of the protagonist's kid being taken away from her, usually by some social worker who doesn't know or care about what is going on or is actively playing a villain role.
  • Designated Girl Fight: If the villain is another woman, she and the heroine will fight. Not necessarily at the climax. Brandishing of big-ass knives may be involved.
  • Destructive Romance: Very common when the antagonist is an Evil Man or when the scenario is about Reformed Rakes.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Antagonists are often very easy to spot, even without proper introduction.
  • Docudrama: Typically regarding whatever missing or dead woman is in the news this week (the movie about Natalee Holloway, the movie about Amanda Knox, the movie about the Craigslist killer, etc.), as well as recent scandals (the 2019 college admissions fraud/bribery fiasco and the NXIVM cult both got quick-turnaround movies). Also often adapts true stories about mothers trying to get justice for their sick/mentally ill/LGBT child.
  • Domestic Abuse: Almost always by the heroine's husband. Otherwise, it's her own mother or her mother-in-law.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Most often seen in Woman vs Evil Man scenarios.
  • Dr. Jerk: Male doctors especially, doubly so if they're gynecologists because that means they're also rapists. No exceptions. Stalked By My Doctor, starring Eric Roberts as a Yandere doctor, has spawned an entire Lifetime franchise.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Sometimes moms have to deal with their kids getting hooked on them, but other movies have the moms themselves unwittingly become addicts.
    • Cheer Squad Secrets has the novel twist of a mom coping with her daughter getting hooked on steroids that her cheer coach is slipping to her (with 'roid rage quickly turning the girl into an Alpha Bitch).
  • Dumbass Teenage Son: If his sister isn't already taking the role of the problem child, the protagonist's teenage son will always be desperately gullible, stupid and lazy and will get in trouble for it. Otherwise, he's The Bully or a pervert.
  • Enfant Terrible: Lifetime has done quite a few unofficial remakes of The Bad Seed, with titles like Daddy's Perfect Little Girl, focusing on a seemingly-innocent tyke who turns out to be a murderer. So they were the logical choice to present an actual remake of The Bad Seed itself in 2018.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Generally once they cross the Moral Event Horizon, the villains will usually start gorging on the scenery. Typically this doesn't happen until the climax, but in the movies where the villain is a Devil in Plain Sight, whole plates of Ham and Cheese will get served throughout.
  • Evil Matriarch: Either the protagonist's mother or her mother-in-law will be this. Otherwise, they're My Beloved Smother.
  • Evil Old Folks: Lifetime has done a few movies with an older female villain, often a mentally disturbed grandmother looking for a Replacement Goldfish for a long-dead child or grandchild, or jealously competing for attention from their son with his new lover; Wendie Malick (Deranged Granny) and Nana Visitor (Killer Grandma) have played this character type. In other cases, it can relate to things like pedophile rings or corrupt bosses who run companies into financial ruin.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Lifetime excels at these types of titles for their movies.
    Through the Shattered Lens on Sorority Murder: The film’s title promised both a sorority and a murder and it totally delivered both of those things.
  • Exploitation Film: With their eye-catching titles, lurid premises, and No Budget, these movies belong in this category. No less an authority than Joe Bob Briggs has observed that Lifetime is pretty much the only platform still making exploitation films in the classic sense. There are even some direct connections to the genre's history, with B-horror auteurs from The '80s like David DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray becoming prolific Lifetime movie directors in recent years.
  • Extreme Doormat: Being virtuous and enduring but weak and incompetent is often the only way a woman can come out on top in a Lifetime movie.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Some movies cover a fairly short timespan, yet the 90-minute runtime suggests otherwise.
  • Freudian Excuse: Oddly zig-zagged, since many of the villains are revealed to have backstories involving neglectful and/or abusive parents, but they get brushed aside to focus on the character's evilness. Unless the character is a Villain Protagonist, where it does get explored.
  • Fun-Hating Villain: These sorts of villains are often the sort who turn out to be the total psychos, but it can vary between the setting of the movie.
  • Gay Best Friend: Some of the only men who don't get villified, although a Discredited Trope in more recent movies.
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: Lifetime contributed a lot to enforcing this creed.
  • Girls Behind Bars: The usual fate of the Evil Woman if she doesn't get killed is to be sent to prison. Otherwise, the blameless Good Woman will be falsely convicted and sent to jail, having to fight her way out.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: A woman in a position of power over the protagonist, such as a boss or mother, will usually be a bitch and often the villain.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Perhaps not in the traditional "heroes vs villains" sense in some settings, but still, hanging out with someone from a family that normally feuds with the protagonist's family. In any case, it's subject to Decon-Recon Switch when it does happen.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Enforced. Because abortion = slut in these movies, especially if the topic is Teen Pregnancy.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Smoking is often an indicator of evil in these movies. A man who smokes is often the villain, especially if he smokes a fat "patriarchal" cigar to assert his dominance over the defenseless Good Woman. A woman who smokes is very likely to be the Rich Bitch villainess, who will often exhale her cigarette's smoke dramatically in the face of the heroine to humiliate her, cigarette holder optional.
  • Good vs. Good: In rare cases, this trope happens, occasionally in a Period Piece movie. It often will boil down to Both Sides Have a Point, and there won't be a villain in this sort of movie. Common to the "medical Lifetime movie" sub-genre.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: Words like "deadly", "fatal", "lethal" and "murder" pop up often in the titles, as does the "Punny Title involving death" cliche (The Doctor Will Kill You Now, Homekilling Queen).
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The most common motivation for the Evil Woman is jealousy of the Good Woman's functional home and family that she herself cannot have. Thus, the Evil Woman tries her best to one-up and ruin the Good Woman's life or claim it for herself out of spite and envy.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Sometimes neither side is good or bad, there are no clear-cut heroes or villains; both sides have a point but also both sides have problems, too.
  • Guys are Slobs: Often the heroine's lazy and stupid husband or her Dumbass Teenage Son, sometimes both.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: While these movies often contradict their own morals in some cases, there's also occasions where An Aesop is delivered that is unorthodox, upsetting, shocking or completely unexpected, but good advice nonetheless.
  • Harmless Villain: Some of the villains are so incompetent they're just annoyances, not major threats to the protagonist. They probably won't even be evil in terms of personality.
  • The Hedonist: A more benevolent version is occasionally found, and usually based on a Paris Hilton or playboy-type character.
  • He Knows Too Much: Thrillers will regularly have the villain inconspicuously find out that a friend of the protagonist or a volunteering informant coming forward with evidence for the protagonist has proof pointing to the villain as the culprit of a murder or a non-murderous crime/cover-up (i.e., baby switch, kidnapping, etc.) has information linking them to it. That person will usually wind up dead in an ultimately fruitless effort by the villain to cover their tracks, leaving the protagonist to play gumshoe or wind up in danger to get the truth.
  • Here We Go Again!: In the Yandere subgenre, if the villain doesn't die a gruesome death, the movie will end with the villain finding someone new to become obsessed with (The Crush, followed by Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? were probably the Trope Maker for this type of ending).
  • The Hero Dies: Rare but happens to usually make a point about violent husbands or never-convicted rapists getting off scott-free.
  • Hollywood Midlife Crisis: Often Always Male as a trope, but more recent works have made this gender-equal; the usual cliche of sports car and motorbike is shown, but as Product Displacement.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Almost always the heroine's daughter's boyfriend or her son. If a girl ever shows anything similar to a sex drive, she's either punished for it or becomes/already is an evil slut.
  • Housewife: Very often it's a stock role for the heroine, for good or ill depending on the story. In Period Piece works, it's quite common.
  • How We Got Here: The standard Lifetime formula seems to require opening up with a shocking scene from the climax as a grabber, then flashing back to how the chain of events leading up to it began. Sometimes even the "<freeze-frame> Yep, that's me! You're probably wondering..." bit gets used.
  • Human Trafficking: Lifetime made a miniseries with this exact title, after all, and the theme of a Mama Bear trying to rescue her daughter who's been caught up in sex trafficking has become a Recycled Plot. Cheerleader Abduction, despite what the title sounds like, is actually about black market adoption; the cheerleader of the title is a high school cheerleader who becomes pregnant and meets a Faux Affably Evil "pregnancy counselor" who talks her into secretly giving birth to the baby and giving it up for adoption without her parents knowing.
  • Hysterical Woman: To the point of Narm since the heroine and her female friends' reactions are often over-the-top that it could be the Trope Codifier.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Something Sounding Scandalous: The Victim's Name Story. Not all Lifetime movies use this title format, but enough do that it's used by almost all parodies. Premise: Lurid Phrase is also common. Lifetime also loves Beige titles that bluntly state the premise (Baby for Sale, Dirty Teacher, Psycho-In-Law may be the ur-example.), and vague titles that could apply to practically any of these films (A Mother's Nightmare, She's Too Young, He's Out to Get You).
    Mark Blankenship at NEWNOWNEXT: I’m very busy, and I don’t have time to wonder what my entertainment is about. If they’d called this movie Scandal at Whitman Prep or some bullshit, I might have thought it was about educational ethics. But the title Dirty Teacher tells me right up front that a teacher is screwing her student and she likes it.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Unsurprisingly, the villains tend to be Not Good with Rejection, so this Trope comes into play frequently.
  • The Ingenue: If the movie is set in high school or college, expect the heroine to be sweet and innocent, often crossing into Naïve Everygirl territory. But some innocent characters can be Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass and have Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: It can also be cyberbullying depending on the movie. However, some movies will avoid this, and focus on "David vs Goliath" battles of an Amazon Bland-Name Product copy vs a small business to provide An Aesop or Satire, or discussing Internet censorship.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Practically every one of these movies hinges on a decision made by the protagonist with the best of intentions, which ends up backfiring on her horribly.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Not only in murder mysteries, but also in thrillers involving a deranged Stalker with a Crush. The villain will remove murder evidence, set up the protagonist so that the stalkee or amateur gumshoe looks as if they committed a crime or is harassing the villain, pressure people they know to lie, or openly deny a situation to gaslight family members and the police into thinking the protagonist is a liar, unstable or trying to stir up trouble, before showing their true colors and proving the protagonist was being truthful all along.
  • Jerkass: The antagonist is often this, no nuance needed. But some fall into the Jerk with a Heart of Gold territory if they're not the antagonist.
  • Karma Houdini: Once in a great while, the villain will reach the end of the movie without dying or getting arrested, sometimes getting a Here We Go Again! ending. The Wrong... series especially likes to let its villains disappear before they get caught.
  • Karmic Death: The Evil Man, the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend, the Serial Homewrecker and The Mistress are the primary candidates for this.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Especially to their saintly mother, often times because of the miseducation of their horrible father. In a high school setting, they will end up falling into stereotypical portrayals of this, and be a Flat Character at best.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: One notable movie starring Tamlyn Tomita centred around this, with her as the attorney representing the child in question.
  • Lust: The Evil Man is almost always motivated by a sick desire to possess the Good Woman sexually and restrain her from being free. The most benign ones limit themselves to stalking, the other ones will either try to kill the Good Woman so that nobody else than be with her or rape her violently to make her "understand to whom she belongs".
  • Made-for-TV Movie: There are occasional exceptions as in some franchises.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: Often enforced, since almost any woman who is attractive and aware of it will be made into a total bitch... which is ironic for movies that are supposed to be "empowering" for women.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Expect the Evil Woman to wear very dark make-up. Excessive Evil Eyeshadow and/or dark lipstick are almost always used to that effect.
  • Mama Bear: A very frequent heroine. Night Nurse/Killer Night Shift sports an impressive one in Tricia - who gets loose from her bindings and successfully beats the crap out of the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend (of her husband) who's been trying to steal Tricia's newborn baby; as in born just moments before.
  • Market-Based Title: Entries in a series, like the Vivica A. Fox/David De Coteau Wrong movies, since they're unlikely to be themed elsewhere. (e.g. The Wrong Wedding Planner is My Deadly Ex outside North America)note 
  • Meal Ticket: A younger protagonist will often find herself in such bad financial straits that she's desperate enough to get involved with a rich older man, which just ends up making trouble for her. Sometimes it's of her own volition, sometimes she's unwittingly pushed into it by her acquaintances.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: A given for Ripped from the Headlines films about, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • This trope is explicitly called out in the Garcelle Beauvais-starring (and produced) 2023 Lifetime Original Black Girl Missing (aka Vanished: Looking For My Daughter). A high school vice-principal (Beauvais) realises her college-age daughter Lauren goes missing while the police write it off as her running away home. This takes place as national media attention is on a young blonde girl called Jessica who's missing (from Oregon... the movie is set in Texas. Jessica is found.... she ran away. Lauren has been taken by a serial predator - she's rescued... but the film ends by listing non-fictional black or brown girls who have gone missing.
  • The Mistress: The Evil Woman is often a mistress because she has personality flaws or other issues that stop men from wanting her.
  • Monster Misogyny: If the male villain isn't motivated by unrequited love, his main motivation for wanting the heroine - and sometimes her female friends - dead is because she's a woman who refuses to Stay in the Kitchen or who just exists as a woman and this alone is enough to deserve death. Who is Killing the Cheerleaders? adds a new wrinkle with a villain whose Motive Rant accusing women of sending mixed signals about sex wouldn't be out of place on some "manosphere" subreddit.
  • Motive Rant: If you don't like ambiguity in your villains, these movies are for you. Usually right before their climactic struggle with the heroine, the villain will give a melodramatic, detailed explanation for why they did what they did.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Promiscuous women are almost always evil homewrecking sluts. Points added if they're also very attractive.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: The usual method and goal of both the Psycho Ex-Girlfriend and the male Stalker with a Crush.
  • My Beloved Smother: The moms who turn out to be evil naturally fall into this, but even the "good" moms are often nagging micromanagers toward their children.
  • Nephewism: Or Nieceism; a woman raising her sister's daughter, usually because the sister died tragically or some other sordid circumstance (like the sister being in prison) is not uncommon, either to give the teen heroine a Tragic Backstory to help elicit sympathy for her, or to allow the grown heroine to be motherly while avoiding a blatant Underage Casting or Absurdly Youthful Mother situation (which, with Dawson Casting being common for teens in these movies, could be a problem).
  • New Media Are Evil: They are, especially when teenagers are involved. While The Internet Is for Porn was a classic Lifetime theme (Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life), more recent films have warned of the dangers of sexting, especially if you happen to accidentally kill a guy who coerced you into taking nude photos and you happen to be the daughter of the sheriff (Overexposed). Bland-Name Product versions of TikTok have come under scrutiny in the recent movies Deadly Dance Competition and Mommy's Little Star.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Unless there's a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend or Yandere involved, in which case the husband practically has Single-Target Sexuality for his wife (Half the time, anyway.)
  • No Antagonist: Some of these films won't have a clear-cut villain, and the closest thing to an antagonist will be a Jerkass or an individual who provides provide Jerkass Has a Point moments. The conflict will usually be over something that's not a traditional villain, e.g. the attitudes of the day or even something as complex as a company merger for instance where the conflict is over process, not people.
  • No Budget: Lifetime movies are all about production efficiency. The crews are professional, the actors are all experienced, even if they aren't big names, and the films are designed to be shot quickly (10 days or so is the typical length of a shoot) without costing a whole lot (the budgets rarely exceed a million dollars, and are often much lower than that). Some movies can do a good job of hiding this, but often the props, costumes, and limited number of sets in a movie will give it away.
  • Non-Indicative Name: These are not just made by Lifetime, but other networks as well, when they're not so much movies as made-for-tv movies at 90-minute runtimes.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: In many cases, a character will be hated, but in reality, they're not as evil as some characters would like to think. Occasionally used with An Aesop on tolerance, or tolerance towards disabled or different people.
  • Obliviously Evil: Some characters are unaware that what they're doing is evil, and may have a reason for doing so, such as a learning disability (which can partially, but not fully excuse it) or general stupidity.
  • Office Lady: If she isn't a Housewife, the Good Woman will almost always work as this as a stock job, although what she does won't be specified.
  • Only So Many Canadian Actors: More recent Lifetime movies made in the 2010s will feature a lot of Canadian actors, especially due to filming there. It's given actresses like Chelsea Hobbs and Meghan Heffern wider exposure because of this trope.
  • Pandering to the Base: Essentially these movies are all about confirming what are often considered to be the attitudes of a stereotypical American woman in the 25 to 49 age range (women who are more beautiful and successful than you are secretly evil; most men are perverts or simpletons, except for a select few who are impossibly hot and perfect; your young daughter is under constant threat from boys or other girls, and needs you to step in and take control of her life).
  • The Patriarch: Fathers are always the most malevolent version of this, unless it's the heroine's father who shields her from her evil husband.
  • Period Piece: Since The New '10s, works set from The '80s to Turn of the Millennium are common.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: A lot of the time, the boss will be incompetent and occasionally run a firm that becomes an example of Incompetence, Inc..
  • Police Are Useless: Commonly used to put the heroine into further jeopardy. Not believing her when she's telling them the truth? Check. Ignoring obvious leads and not asking the kind of follow-up questions that anyone who's had about five minutes of law enforcement training would know to ask? Check. Of course, that mostly just applies to male cops...the women can usually solve things right away.
  • Pop-Up Texting: Very common in recent movies, to make it seem like they're technologically up to date, and to allow an important interaction between characters without needing a dialogue scene.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: A very common antagonist. Subverted in A Bride's Nightmare: heroine Leah is kidnapped by her fiancé's Psycho Ex-Girlfriend Faith - but she isn't psychotic; she has PTSD - she was actually trying to save Leah from getting in the kind of abusive controlling relationship that led to her emotional stress.Leah and Faith defeat him in the end.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Working in jobs like a debt-collector etc. may be seen as villainous, but to the characters it's just a job and they're not even that villainous or cruel, not even a jerkass. Sometimes even the movie's villain isn't even evil, to them carrying out villainy is just a paycheck they have to get to live.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Occasionally. The camera mercifully cuts to the outside of the tent as Brian David Mitchell rapes Elizabeth Smart in the film I Am Elizabeth Smart, and even then, we still get the audio. Not until it cuts to Smart herself is the audience finally spared.
  • Rape Portrayed as Redemption: Lifetime movies tend to take sadistic pleasure in breaking attractive promiscuous women. If they don't die, that is.
  • Real Men Hate Affection: Except for the aforementioned Good Man who helps the protagonist. However, it has become a Discredited Trope due to some movies of this genre overlapping with Hallmark-type movies, despite being a Lifetime movie.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In movies made since 2012, a number of characters rely on this as their schtick; some, such as Dispatch (911 Nightmare outside the United States), the protagonist needs to use it despite being a police officer.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Revenge Against Men: It's common enough to the genre that there's also a few with misandrist villains.
  • Rich Bitch: When the Good Woman works in an office, her female boss is always some version of this or it's her boss' wife, who hates her for some reason.
  • Ripped from the Headlines/Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Besides the Docudrama films that very specifically depict stories that were in the news, there are the movies that are inspired by a real event, but fictionalize it for maximum Melodrama. Notorious examples include A Friend To Die For, later renamed Death of a Cheerleader and also remade under that title (a retelling of the 1984 murder of a popular California high school student by a jealous classmate), She's Too Young (based on a 1996 syphilis outbreak among teens in a wealthy Atlanta suburb, but changed to a generic location) and The Pregnancy Pact (about a 2008 case where a group of eighteen girls in Gloucester, Massachusetts allegedly decided to all get pregnant together;note  The movie uses the real town and some actual news footage, but otherwise is fiction).
    • While it predated Lifetime becoming the genre's standard-bearer, the 1993 frenzy in which ABC, CBS and NBC all rush-produced TV movies dramatizing the story of "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher and her attempted murder of her older lover's wife is probably the most infamous example of all. Alyssa Milano starred in CBS' one, Drew Barrymore starred in ABC's (which premiered the same time as CBS' - it was better received than ABC's) For the record, Noelle (Ernest Saves Christmas) Parker played Amy Fisher in NBC's entry.
  • Rule of Drama: A reason for this genre's formulaic nature; putting women in jeopardy creates conflict.
  • Sacrificial Lion: If the main character's best friend/business partner/whatever finds out about the villain, you shouldn't bet on her (or sometimes him) making it to the end credits.
  • Save Our Students: Teachers will be portrayed as inspiring, unless it's a movie where the teacher is psychotic or a pedophiles.
  • Serial Homewrecker: Promiscuous women who especially look for married men to corrupt away from their families are very common antagonists, although some will have a Freudian Excuse and be an Anti-Villain at best. And among the most likely to die horribly.
  • Serial Killer: A common male antagonist, usually paired with Monster Misogyny. However, not all movies with this trope necessarily show the serial killer in action, some focus on the detectives investigating it.
  • Sex Is Evil: Unless you're a lesbian.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Always present when the scenario involves religion.
  • Sex Signals Death: The cheating husband just might avoid this but the attractive, promiscuous "other woman" will either be killed or raped. Or both.
  • Slice of Life: Occasionally, in Lighter and Softer movies made by Lifetime, there won't be a villain or conflict, it'll be focusing on something far gentler and more mundane.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Trope Codifier of Level 7.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: A Thrillist article about Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?, which, although it originally aired on NBC, was something of a Trope Maker for Lifetime's movies, described it as "raw silliness delivered with absolute urgency", and that sums up most of these movies. Most of the plots sound absolutely insane when you try to describe them, but they're presented in a totally straightforward, sincere manner. The acting generally is split between Took the Bad Film Seriously and Cold Ham, with some occasional Ham and Cheese moments from the villain that function as little winks to the audience to indicate that the filmmakers are in on the joke. When they want to, Lifetime can make perfectly decent movies, but they're not quite as memorable some of the time.
  • Slipping a Mickey:
    • Protagonists get roofied at a surprising rate, either by a pervy guy trying to take advantage of them, or by the villain trying to incapacitate them. Accompanied by the mandatory Impairment Shot.
    • This becomes a major plot point in My Daughter's Psycho Friend, when Lexi (the psycho friend) hosts a Wild Teen Party and spikes one kid's drink with GHB as a prank, but he ends up drowning in her swimming pool.
  • Slut-Shaming: If there's a good woman in these movies, she should never ever flaunt her attractiveness in any way or else she'll receive the punishment she rightfully deserves. Whore.
    Peanut Butter and Pickled Ginger reviewing Sexting in Suburbia: For a movie that is about sexting and the dangers of slut shaming, this movie does a whole lot of... slut shaming.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: The only form of social services that seem to exist in these kinds of movies are the Department of Child Disservices. Averted in Devious Nanny/The Nanny Betrayal In which the title character explicitly says she was in foster homes. She isn't the Big Bad in this one, despite being a cute young blonde nanny in a Lifetime movie.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Almost always the Evil Man. The biggest exception is when it's an Evil Woman stalking the heroine's devoted husband/boyfriend. In more recent works however, the Psycho Lesbian who is Affably Evil, or its Spear Counterpart, Depraved Homosexual, will be used as this sort of character.
  • Standard Snippet: Many of the songs on the list can be found here, but these films also provide new ones for the list.
  • Status Quo Is God: In some cases, the end result was All for Nothing and the status quo returns anyway; yes, even in Real Life Ripped from the Headlines stories.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The heroine will always be told something around those lines at one point or another in the film.
  • Stranger Danger: Largely a Discredited Trope nowadays in these movies, but in 1990s-2000s Lifetime movies it was unintentional Paranoia Fuel.
  • Straw Feminist: Whenever a woman shows an attitude, it will often have feminist overtones or she will be accused of being this archetype.
  • Straw Misogynist: The male villain is almost always going to be one, although there may be a Freudian Excuse.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: The inverse of Pointy-Haired Boss mentioned above, expect to see this in films where the boss is The Protagonist.
  • Taking the Kids: Oftentimes, the protagonist, when faced with an abusive situation, is fighting not only to get herself out of it, but the kids as well.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: In school-based films, if the protagonist is an adult woman, she'll be the teacher who has to fend off the advances of an obsessed student (Student Seduction, starring Elizabeth Berkley, is the exemplar). If they go with a student as the protagonist, however, it often gets inverted to a creepy teacher being hot for student.
  • Teens Are Monsters: In the Teen Drama-based movies, the villains are often depraved and capable of practically any kind of wrongdoing, including murder. The movies Based on a True Story will revel in this, including flashbacks to past acts of malice.
  • Teen Pregnancy: A recurring theme, established by the classic Fifteen & Pregnant (starring a young Kirsten Dunst).
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Especially when the film deals with underage girls, itself a cliche of this genre. However, this isn't age-specific, older women are subject to this from friends undergoing a Hollywood Midlife Crisis.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Well, woman behind the woman (mostly); in some cases, we don't see the true villain until the end of the movie.
  • The Unfair Sex: The movies are made with this attitude. He cheats? He's a pig. She cheats? She's just seeking love from somebody else because of how evil her husband is. However, since the heroine makes a habit of picking up the Idiot Ball, and the other women tend to range from clueless to evil, men and women actually come off looking really bad in these movies.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: The BBC and ITV air these, often in the run-up to Christmas in primetime, and they're a Big Budget Beef-Up one-off drama with an All-Star Cast. Compared to the American or Canadian equivalent though, these are either a bit too Camp or they're very dark and edgy to the point that the American equivalent looks softer by comparison.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Because father figures are always evil in these movies, the heroine's son will almost always be on her husband's side when he abuses her.
  • TV Teen: The teen-oriented movies are frequently guilty of this, particularly with Dawson Casting, Toxic Friend Influence and Alpha Bitch/Beta Bitch/Girl Posse drama, plus a cheerleader often being the star of the whole thing. That said, some movies try to be at least a bit realistic, with themes of Teen Pregnancy and Peer Pressure.
  • Villain Ball: Whether they be men or women, the would-be supervillains in these stories tend to be done in relatively easily by their own arrogance and/or stupidity. (Occasionally you'll find one who doesn't hold it, but even then he/she will be trounced in satisfyingly humiliating fashion.) The reason for this is simple: with only 90 minutes to work with, the baddie has to be dealt with in expeditious fashion, even if this results in some laughable Villain Decay.
  • Villain Has a Point: In some cases, the villains do have valid points, sometimes this is enforced to show that villains are not two-dimensional and they may not even want to be villainous.
  • Villain Protagonist: They may not be entirely villainous and have more of a Sympathetic P.O.V. than some villains in the movies, but will have Even Evil Has Standards moments.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Evil, Evil Men and the Evil Attractive Bitch will often be Affably Evil or pretend to be good to enforce this.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: There will often be a character who's not evil, just unlikeable and has all the aspects of a villain except the actual villainy or participation in unethical activities. They're set up as a Red Herring for who the true villain is, or as a secondary villain. They're just total pricks/assholes and the villainy they often do isn't anything more than insults or barbs directed at the protagonist and deuteragonist.
  • Webcomic Time: The passage of time in these movies is much smaller than it took to produce the films.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: When they're not an evil patriarch or an abusive, violent asshole, fathers are either absent, aloof or just uninvolved and uninterested in their children's life, leaving the poor mother to fend for herself unaided.
  • With Friends Like These...: The protagonist's friends will often either act as enablers for the villain, or will actually be the villain.
  • Womanliness as Pathos: Describes the very essence of this type of movie: women always have horrible shit happen to them because they're women and for no other reason. The whole world is out to get the heroine, primarily because she is a Good Woman™.
  • Yandere: If it's "woman vs. woman," the bad girl typically wants the good girl's boyfriend/husband all to herself, and will stop at nothing to make that happen.


Straight Examples

    Comic Books 
  • A variation of this can be found in V for Vendetta in the story arc of Rosemary Almond, a gentle and demure housewife whose husband, Derek, just can't wait to get home every evening so he can get to beat her up and get drunk as a way to vent off his everyday frustrations. Derek is then killed by V himself, making her a widow. She is then hit on by one of her husband's co-workers whose sole purpose is to sully her husband's memory by fucking his wife. He is also killed by V later on. She is then expelled from society and is forced to become a showgirl to support herself. Eventually she snaps and assassinates England's dictator.

    Comic Strips 
  • Between Friends bears many aspects of this genre, although as much as men are depicted badly, the allegedly "empowered" women are depicted as hyper-insecure, Does This Make Me Look Fat? types who both agonize over buying the low-fat double-whipped frappucino and also pound back the cheesecake like there's no tomorrow.
  • For Better or for Worse has Michael's novel, Stone Season. The plot concerns a woman stuck in a loveless marriage with an abusive husband which she makes no effort whatsoever to escape until the 'empowering' climax: he goes out into a storm to hit the bar and doesn't return. She goes searching for him, finds him seriously injured and weakened, and he berates her to help him. She says "No", and leaves him to die. She's a Pinball Protagonist who only exists to suffer tragically until 'fate' disposes of her husband for her, and is praised as 'strong' and 'amazing' for this. (The excerpts given on Michael's Character Blog also depict 1960s Canada as being more or less like the 1860s in the rest of the Western world.)

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action (both theatrical and made for TV) 
  • Enough features a protagonist who, after abuse and cheating from her husband, breaks into her husband's house with the full intention of beating him to death with her bare hands. Her threat, "self-defense isn't murder", rings pretty hollow considering she's instigating the fight in his home and not hers, goes out of her way to remove anything he could use to defend himself, and even plants evidence to prove the version of the story she plans to tell the cops. She gets the upper hand, but then she chickens out. After more struggling he falls out a two-story window. It's also worth noting that the film relies primarily on every cliche one could think of to tell the story (ex- boyfriend and disappeared dad comes around to help, husband will be believed 100% over his wife because of his wealth and high social position, said husband having the power to track anything no matter where his wife hides, husband's cop friend is willing to risk his career and physical force to help get his buddy's family back just to show how bad men with power is, the list goes on...)
    • One could also say that they made the evil husband as the perfect representation of what a truly cliched Lifetime villain looks like. Along with his possessive and emotional behavior, he is also a Straw Misogynist and manipulative con artist with a bit of an inflated ego, and as a "man" cares more about sleeping around with women than paying attention to his family, justifying his outside relationships to his wife because he has given her such a prosperous lifestyle, when he didn't care enough to express sincere gratefulness for her role. Not only that, he's also intimidating and not nice to any person who challenges even his minor requests and demands, whether it's a complete stranger, his wife, or mutual friends. The point being, he's just plain self-centered to the core without seeing anything unjustified his behavior that he knows is wrong.
  • Julia Roberts plays a wife escaping the grasp of her abusive husband in Sleeping with the Enemy.
  • Sally Field's Not Without My Daughter, taken from the book by Betty Mahmoody. Neither the Iranians nor Roger Ebert were impressed.
    • Sally Field does it again in Eye for an Eye, which deals with her struggles to cope with the brutal rape and murder of her daughter after the perpetrator gets Off on a Technicality. Unlike Enough, Sally's character plays it smarter by baiting the evil creep and getting him to break into her house so she can kill him and more reasonably claim self-defense.
  • The 1993 remake of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman fits this formula. Men are abusive, sex-obsessed monsters? Check. Women are weak, spineless victims? Check.
  • The Oksana Baiul Story. Most glaring among the liberties taken is the near-complete absence of Viktor Petrenko. In real life he persuaded his own coach to coach Oksana, he paid for all her costumes early on, and even translated for her during interviews before she learned English.
  • Waiting to Exhale is a bitter piece-of-life movie where all men who ever walk on screen are either immature, total assholes or perverts who can't keep it in their pants, leaving all the main Four-Girl Ensemble embittered, lonely or sad and realizing that having Sisters Before Misters is the best way of life for women if they don't want men to walk all over them.
  • Cyberbu//y (2011) is one of these, even though it aired on ABC Family.
    • Cyberbully star Emily Osment appeared in an actual LMOTW in 2014, A Daughter's Nightmare.
  • The 1993 movie Men Don't Tell is a Gender Flip.
  • The Invisible Man (2020) is a Darker and Grittier sci-fi horror bent on this as the core premise is of a beautiful, young, intelligent woman (Elisabeth Moss) being stalked by her abusive, Ax-Crazy ex-boyfriend...who happens to be a Gadgeteer Genius that invented a working Invisibility Cloak adding a whole new layer to the invokedParanoia Fuel.
  • Prom Night (2008): A high school senior (Brittany Snow) is stalked by an Ax-Crazy Ephebophile Yandere Evil Teacher who developed a psychotic obsession with her and escapes from the mental ward three days before her prom. Unlike most examples however, there are only one or two moments where she fights back while spends the majority of the film being a Damsel in Distress.
  • The Burning Bed is a made-for-tv movie that dramatizes the real-life story of a battered wife who sets her abusive husband on fire.note 
  • The 2014 thriller, No Good Deed, ultimately falls into this category. The film is about a wife and mother of two named Terri, who is married to an insensitive jerk of a husband named Jeffery. It's later revealed that the husband was cheating on her. She then meets and gets tormented by an escaped convict, looking to kill her cheating husband.
  • Perhaps the most famous example was the two part film about the real life murderer Betty Broderick. After her husband cheated and left her for another woman, Betty stalks and harasses her ex husband for months before finally killing him and his new wife in their bed. While the film shows some of Betty's crazy actions prior to the double murders and ends with her getting convicted and thrown in prison, the film goes out of its way to show that her ex-husband was just as bad and drove Betty to kill him, which their own children claimed wasn't true.
  • When the Bough Breaks was criticized for being basically a Lifetime movie that made it to the big screen. The Perfect Guy got similar criticism.
  • Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life is about a teenage boy who becomes addicted to internet pornography after looking at some pictures of women in bikinis. It's up to his mother to save him.
  • Hush (1998) has Gwyneth Paltrow as a pregnant newlywed whose new mother-in-law (Jessica Lange) is an Evil Matriarch who really isn't planning on letting go of her son. Or her impending grandchild.
  • The 2006 film, Provoked has Aishwarya Rai who plays Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a Punjabi woman who moved to London to marry a man named Deepak, played by Naveen Andrews. He became physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive to her for ten years and their two children bore witness to it. One day, in 1989, Kiranjit got tired of all the abuse that she decided to kill her husband in his sleep by using Napalm oil mix to pour on his feet and burn him. She was later arrested and was found guilty of murder with a sentence of life imprisonment for a possibility of parole in 12 years in her trial. Her case attracted attention to a support group called Southall Black Sisters who help women who have been beaten and abused by their husbands.
  • Bollywood’s earlier foray into this genre was the 1994 film Anjaam starring Shahrukh Khan as a creepy stalker and Madhuri Dixit as his victim. It also has many elements of a Women in Prison movie minus the Fanservice.
  • The horror/comedy independent film Teeth is basically a LMOTW with the twist that our innocent female lead has a carnivorous vagina.
  • 1983's Independence Day definitely qualifies; it's set in a small town in New Mexico - a waitress who wants to leave, but is discouraged by a mechanic who did leave but came back. Meanwhile they learn the mechanic's sister is regularly beaten by her husband. The only thing this has common with the better-known film of the same name is that both films feature big explosions at the climax...
  • If you want to go Older Than Cable TV, there are a bunch of classic Thriller films that can be called ancestors of the genre. While they generally feature a high-class milieu and more dramatic trappings, the storylines clearly established some templates for the genre: woman gets charmed into marriage by a handsome widower who's hiding a dark secret about the death of his first wife (Rebecca); woman marries a Reformed Rake and starts to suspect that he might be planning to kill her (Suspicion); woman marries a Manipulative Bastard who has ulterior motives for the relationship and starts tormenting her psychologically (Gaslight).
  • Every single Lifetime Stalker with a Crush movie is ultimately descended from Play Misty for Me. Loony Fan Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter) stalks DJ Dave Garver (Clint Eastwood) and gets more unhinged as she goes. While the focus is on the male victim here, Dave's girlfriend Tobie finds herself targeted by Evelyn as well, and unwittingly takes on Evelyn as a roommate, leading to a hostage situation and a Murder the Hypotenuse scheme at the climax.
  • Fear. Young Reese Witherspoon falls for young bad boy Mark Wahlberg, who turns out to be a possessive creep. She breaks up with him, but he's Not Good with Rejection and puts her and her family in danger. This film's plot has become a frequent Recycled Premise for Lifetime in recent years.
  • The 1983 Australian flick Hostage, based on the true story of Christine Maresch (nee Lewis), has the overall feel of one, focusing on a young woman in dire straits and dealing with a controlling and abusive boyfriend (and later husband) whom she eventually attempts to fight back against.
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle - Rebecca De Mornay as a pregnant widow who loses her child (and everything else) and blames a happily married pregnant woman called Claire for ruining her life (as opposed to her late husband being an obstetrician who molested multiple patients of his, who took what was once known as the honourable way out.), and plots take revenge on her by becoming Claire's new nanny/Babysitter from Hell. Another theatrical film that Lifetime frequently gives the Recycled Premise treatment.
  • Stockholm, Pennsylvania. Leanne (Saoirse Ronan) was kidnapped at age 4, by a man who renamed her Leia, but is discovered and returned to her parents 17 years later, though she still retains fondness for her kidnapper. Meanwhile, the stress of the situation leads her mother Marcy (Cynthia Nixon) to have a meltdown and she starts becoming possessive and controlling toward Leia. Notable for being a film that Lifetime acquired after it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

  • A lot of Jodi Picoult's novels fit this trope, usually falling into the woman vs. sick child and woman vs. herself category.
  • In the V. C. Andrews novel Celeste, it's mentioned that the events of the Cutler Series by the same author (a girl discovers that she was kidnapped as a child, and has to go to a new family who are by turns abusive and neglectful) were turned into a Lifetime-esque movie.
  • About a third of Catherine Anderson's contemporary romances are this in print form, especially Baby Love, Star Bright and Only By Your Touch.
  • Most of Danielle Steel's books are this in literary form. Throughout the mid-nineties, a large chunk of them were adapted into TV movies, which, while initially aired on NBC, where eventually bought by and frequently reaired on Lifetime.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Mexican show Lo Que Callamos las Mujeres ("What us Women Keep for Ourselves"), and the Chilean show Mujer: Rompe el silencio ("Woman: Break the Silence) are pretty much Latin-American versions of Lifetime movies in a one-hour TV series format. Stories about females in peril or distress that claim to portray how women live in modern society? Check. Men portrayed as selfish, cruel, one-dimensional, perverted and/or abusive unless they throw themselves at the Lead-Du-Jour's feet and kiss her ass? Check. Women caricatured as weepy, whiny, weak little victims who are Too Dumb to Live to an egregious degree, yet we're expected to sympathise with them without any question? Check.
    • And before either of those two shows, there was Mujer: Casos de la Vida Real ("Women: Real Life Cases") with former Mexican young actress Silvia Pinal (known to younger people as the old lady in "Mujer..."). Interestingly, the show actually started as a charity show, raising money to help those affected by a 1985 earthquake that devastated Mexico City. This came full-circle with the show's 20th anniversary (2005), where they did an hour-long special about Real Life women in the 1985 earthquake. In any case, Mujer: Casos de la Vida Real was revolutionary in its day, as it showed cases involving abortion, homosexuality, etc. in the context of a very conservative society like Mexico. The show ended up a Long Runner, lasting until 2007.
    • And continued by La rosa de Guadalupe ("The Rose of Guadalupe") and Cada Quien Su Santo ("To Each His own Saint", also aired on Televisa and TV Azteca respectively, which is about the same but with religion played in, although not all stories featured in both programs are focused exclusively on women. Another Televisa series, Como dice el dicho, also follows the formula.
    • The show has also been sold and re-made in other Latin-American countries,
  • More than a few episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fall into this, not helped by Olivia being progressively flanderized into a Straw Feminist.
    • One episode deconstructs this when Stabler suddenly finds himself being treated as if he was "the evil man" in this sort of drama, despite him (for once) genuinely doing everything he could to help the female victim (as in, really trying to help instead of simply wanting REVEEEENGE).
    • Another didn't so much deconstruct it as show how absurd making the massive leaps in logic these movies do can be in real life. A woman claims her ex-husband is stalking her and burned her, and after a confrontation with the cops he gets killed. Turns out she burned herself and accused him of it because she was resentful of him leaving her. Olivia fought for her the whole way, and was rewarded with the woman looking right in her eyes and saying "I sure showed him!" as she lay dying after revealing her scheme. In short, Olivia's own prejudices helped a woman kill her husband by proxy.
    • Also sort-of lampshaded in a case where a woman sets a Lifetime movie-worthy Wounded Gazelle Gambit by having sex with her divorce attorney and then falsely accusing her much-hated sports star ex-husband of raping her, a bait that Olivia and everyone else (save for Elliot) completely swallow. Then this horribly backfires when the husband snaps and fatally immolates his lying ex-wife, but she still won't tell the truth of the false rape accusation even as Olivia asks her on her death bed. Naturally, Olivia is appalled when the lawyer explains what truly happened.
  • The Oxygen series Snapped tries to promote itself in the same vein as the Lifetime movies by being about women who have suffered terrible abuse and decide to kill their abusers.
    • Occasionally, there are women featured who killed/tried to kill their significant other for no clear reason. That, or completely unsympathetic reasons, like trying to collect insurance money/inheritance, or they had a love interest on the side and needed the first guy out of the way.
  • Strong Medicine is this in Medical Drama format. Unsurprisingly, it was produced for Lifetime.
  • Morning TV shows in Chile have some sketches about supposed Real Life stories, but said "stories" are not only very badly acted and planned but also pretty much Lifetime Movies in 20-minute format.
  • Human Trafficking counts, but unlike most Lifetime films it was well received. The fact that it's inspired by actual events might have helped though.
  • There used to be an Indonesian version of this program in one of the local TV channels called "Oh, Mama. Oh, Papa" (or something like that) based on a true story segment from a magazine with the same name.
  • In Emmerdale we have an glaring example centering around Chas and Carl.
    • Firstly Chas Dingle discovers her Jerkass boyfriend, Carl King, has been cheating with one of her friends. It reaches "lifetime" levels when she begins secretly plotting an elaborate revenge with her cousin Charity in order to punish them. This includes weeks of getting engaged, organising a wedding and then finally planning to divorce him right after for every penny he's got. This deception goes on until the day of the wedding where Chas doesn't go through with it and reveals she knew he was a dirty cheat. The fact that both Carl's and herself's entire friends and families are dragged through this charade for the sake of pure spite is very quickly forgotten if even really touched upon. She just settles for the paltry 30 grand she siphoned off from his money.
    • Secondly much later down the line Chas herself begins an affair with Cameron Murray. Her pregnant niece's fiancee. Yep, she's a massive Hypocrite. But she's still portrayed as a Sympathetic Adulterer. Carl, of all people in the world, finds out and manages to capture an incriminating picture. Over the next few episodes Carl acts unsurprisingly like a smug jerk whilst threatening to expose Chas unless she coughs up the 30 grand she stole. However this might seem justified given Chas was willing to ruin him for the same crime, so naturally his character is Flanderized from a jerkass blackmailing his ex for payback, to a Stalker with a Crush and finally an attempted rapist. Thus Chas and Cameron end up bludgeoning him to death with a brick. And she ends up portrayed as a traumatised woobie on trial for his murder.
  • The Philippine soap "Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala" (Just Don't Be Gone) fits the trope, mostly since the lead woman only wants nothing but to take her son back from the husband who cheated on her. She succeeds, but doesn't kill the husband (since he ends up in a mental hospital) and both women (the latter whom the husband had an affair with but later revealed in the finale by the husband himself that she was just a substitute for the protagonist he still loved,) get their happy ending.
  • The NBC series Sisters was syndicated on Lifetime for several years and in-universe, a TV movie was made about middle-sister Georgie serving as the surrogate mother for second-youngest sister Frankie. When the women traveled to LA to watch the filming, they were sorely disappointed in how melodramatic and overblown the film had become (possibly lampshading Lifetime's tendency to do this).


    Comic Books 
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Flash Thompson was kidnapped by mercenaries who mistook him for Spider-Man. After managing to escape, Flash and his family use the resulting media frenzy to their advantage. The peak of this is a Lifetime movie based on the experience. From the short snippet we see, it's pretty bad.
  • Transmetropolitan. In the future Lifetime movies can be about men, too. Men who struggle with raising headless children, saving nippleless strippers and dodging insane police snipers to save the world from crime by telling everyone that it is wrong.

  • Her Married Lover looks like a straight example, but notice that the flashbacks tend to have more of this style than the scenes in the present? It turns out this is a deconstruction.
  • Saved! features clips from a fictional Lifetime movie, complete with Adam Westing from Valerie Bertinelli. It leads to a "Eureka!" Moment when the main character realizes that she's pregnant as a result of something she sees in the movie.
    "Up next on Lifetime, Valerie Bertinelli stars in Bitter Harvest, a sensitive portrayal of one woman's struggle with cancer…"
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun 33 1/3, in which all the films nominated for an Academy Award have a synopsis starting with "One woman's struggle to..."
  • A Deadly Adoption. Or is it...?

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of 30 Rock featured scenes from a fictional Lifetime movie which told the story of how C.C. became a congresswoman after being shot in the face by a dog. The movie was titled A Dog Took My Face And Gave Me A Better Face To Change The World: The Celeste Cunningham Story and the scene where she's shot had her dramatically gasping "I'm going to get into politics!" as she fell to the ground.
  • Saturday Night Live did a Real Trailer, Fake Movie for "Lifetime's" Hello Stepson, Now Let's Go to Bed: I Went to Bed with My Stepson: The Laura Bengal Covington Story.
    • They did another one, "To Love, Honor, and Stalk", about a woman whose husband (played by guest host John McCain) kept "invading her personal space" (i.e. standing too close to her). After the trailer, the "real life" victim explained that she and her husband discovered he had a hearing disability, and was subsequently lauded for standing up to his abuse of being so close to her all the time.
    • A sketch about a Lifetime channel game show, "What's Wrong With Tanya?" where the contestants were all suburban mothers from Lifetime movies. They had to guess what specifically was troubling different teenagers named "Tanya" that were brought out.
    "Tanya! You've been going to those parties where girls give oral sex for bracelets!"
    • Taken even further where Bill Hader plays both the show host and the typical abusive man who tells the winning housewife at the end "Oh you're not going anywhere. You'll never leave me."
      Anna Farris: Ow, you're hurting my arm!
      Bill Hader: WHO'S GOING TO BELIEVE YOU?!
  • Mentioned in an episode of Parks and Recreation:
    Ann: I watch a lot of Lifetime movies. There was this one, How Far is Too Far Enough: The Terry Palaver Lonagan Story. This woman had agoraphobia and her therapist was obsessed with her. And he hid in her house, and then he attacked her and tried to eat her toes. Also, her daughter was having sex way too young. So yeah, free self defense class? I'm there.
  • "The Wedding Bride" from How I Met Your Mother is an over-the-top version of these combined with a healthy dose of Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue" that cast Ted and Stella's relationship as the good girl in love with an evil man and her leaving him at the altar from out of the blue as the happy ending. That is not how it happened in the show proper.
  • Parodied by Almost Live! here, though it was making fun of NBC's awful "Made for TV movies" that followed a similar format. In this one, the "victim" is an alien abductee who behaves insanely after her return.
  • Hot in Cleveland has Victoria Chase, a largely washed-up soap actress who also starred in number of Lifetime Original Movies, all of which have overly exaggerated titles, such as "Lady Storm Chaser", "Concrete Pillow", "The Princess and the Plumber" and "Soccer Mom Ninja."
  • Schitt's Creek has an episode where White-Dwarf Starlet Moira Rose is delighted that a Lifetime movie-of-the-week she did with Joyce Dewitt called Not Without My Cousin about two astrophysicist cousins who get kidnapped in Lebanon is being re-aired. Moira complains that Dewitt insisted on wearing pigtails and bemoans that her love scene got the aerial shot, but she declares the film had its moments.
  • Lifetime got in on the act in June 2015 with A Deadly Adoption, starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. All the standard tropes were parodied. The decision to do a straight-faced parody à la The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra that never turned to wink at the camera or crack obvious jokes ended up confusing many TV snark and social media sites, several of which concluded it was dead-set serious and sincere (which just made the whole thing more amusing).

  • Chainsawsuit has She Cried Veto: The Susan Miller Story (starts here), in which Susan Miller is assaulted by the President of the United States. Money quote:
    The President: My new bill will make rape the new legal currency of America.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja after the ghost wizard takes over Dark Smoke Puncher he suggests that his mother might get a Lifetime movie out of their fight, entitled A Woman's Choice. A Mother's Nightmare. The alt-text goes on to say:
    I think that's how I want to see the first Dr. McNinja movie made. With the budget and style of a movie on Lifetime. What's that? Why yes, I will throw away life's opportunities for the sake of a joke.
    • Immediately subverted on the next page, when Mitzi unhesitatingly orders Gordito to shoot her son fatally.
  • Simultaneously played straight and subverted in a Something*Positive arc, in which Kharisma's arrest for murder is portrayed as an inspiring Lifetime Movie... but even the actress portraying her knows it's a load of bull.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Sent up in American Dad!:
    Roger: Oh, my God, look what's on Lifetime! Daphne Zuniga in Spooning with Anger.
    Steve: So?
    Roger: So?! That's our favorite spousal abuse movie of all time. We gave it even higher marks than Valerie Bertinelli's classic, Please, Kevin. Not in the Face.
    TV: "I'm sorry dinner was late! I love you so much!"
    Roger: Why do they stay, Steve? Why do they stay?
    • That particular episode ("A.T. the Abusive Terrestrial") is itself a parody of these... and ET. Roger feels neglected by Steve, so he makes friends with a new boy (an Expy of Elliot). The boy eventually turns abusive, which Roger tries to hide from Steve. When he does find out, Steve helps Roger figure out a way to escape safely by pretending he has to return to his homeworld. However, the boy catches on, so Roger settles for kicking him in the crotch, pushing over his bike then walking off.
    • In another episode, Roger watches A Cyst For Amelia, starring Delta Burke.
  • A skit on the claymation show Starveillance parodies how Lifetime movies are usually the end of the line for actresses, particularly TV actresses, with sinking careers. The skit features Mischa Barton taking a nap in a cafe shortly after her character was killed off on The O.C.. In her dream, she meets Michelle Rodriguez, Star Jones, and Shannen Doherty whose entry is accompanied by an ominous flash of lightning. They tell her that, since she left the show that made her famous, her career, much like theirs, is doomed to spiral downward, with her only career openings all being on the Lifetime channel. They point to Shelley Long, whose career was never the same after Cheers ended and is still preparing for an audition for Shakespeare In Love even though that movie came out years ago. The dream ends with the other actresses mobbing Mischa like zombies, chanting "You're one of us now, Mischa!" She is finally awakened from her nightmare by her agent, who is calling her with a movie role. She is initially overjoyed to hear his voice, but after she learns that the role she's been offered is that of a young mother with cancer, she asks what channel the movie is airing on. Cue Big "NO!".
  • Family Guy had Brian and his girlfriend Jillian watching a commercial for a Lifetime movie entitled Men Are Terrible and Will Hurt You Because This Is Lifetime. What little we saw of it consisted of a woman who was raped by her doctor, who then tells her in a very uninterested fashion that she has cancer.
    • An earlier episode showed the family watching a show with two women eating ice cream and making very lame jokes about men. Then it went to commercial announcing that they were watching Lifetime: Television for Idiots.
    • Another episode featured Raped By a Clown, starring Meredith Baxter-Birney (who voiced herself).
    • The episode "The Story of Brenda Q." subverts this. It's NOT a parody.
  • An episode of The Simpsons had Marge watching "WifeTime: Television for Housewives", the movie being about a widow whose husband was heavily in debt and didn't have any life insurance (despite the fact that debt obligations aren't inherited and the worst that could be done is property repossession). The widow becomes insane, homeless, broke, and ugly; she then ends up going to Harvard Medical a cadaver.
    • In another episode, Dr. Hibbert gives Marge a DVD of a Lifetime movie called The Woman Who Couldn't Leave Her House to help her cope with the agoraphobia she developed after being robbed at gunpoint.
    • Then there was the time the babysitter thought Homer was trying to grab her butt (he was actually trying to pull off a piece of candy that was stuck to the seat of her pants—thus explaining the incriminating drool). She denounced him for sexual harassment. Next thing you know, Fox is running the original movie Homer S: Portrait of an Ass-Grabber, starring Dennis Franz as Homer.
    • In "Bart The Murderer", Bart is accused of apparently killing Skinner and soon there's a TV movie titled Blood On The Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story starring Neil Patrick Harris.
  • From the Beavis And Butthead episode "Blackout": "Melissa Gilbert stars in... Asbestos In Obstetrics!"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Lifetime Original Movie, Women In Jeopardy, Lifetime Movies Of The Week


The Celeste Cunningham Story

Jack's lover got a Lifetime movie based on the bizarre circumstances that got her into politics.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / LifetimeMovieOfTheWeek

Media sources: