What Makes a Cliche

Cliche is a stereotypical central element in almost every plot ever built. Even after decades of creative innovation from film makers alike, the cliche trend never seems to cease. Just search up any movie lists online and we will find at least a couple of abundantly cliche-filled entries on the list. Cliche makes its way onto the sliver screens through rarely unprecedented ways from happy endings to love triangles, elaborate car chases and even cliffhangers. May I add on, these are only a few examples of scenarios this widespread genre has to offer. 

After gaining the general idea of cliches etched into our minds, the real question is: what makes a cliche? According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the word ‘cliche’ derives from the French word, clicher, which directly means ‘to stereotype’. So it does not come to our surprise when that is exactly what the concept of cliche is all about. Let’s take the banality of ‘star-crossed lovers’ for an example. I am positive that each and every one of us have at least heard of this before. Examples of movies or stories exhibiting this cliche include Romeo and Juliet, Titanic, Gone with the Wind and Brokeback Mountain, just to name a few. What once started as a completely original and ingenious idea has now become a generic universal plot; a once unique, unparalleled idea turned into an overused plot device. 

Cliche is also commonly referred as a thing or opinion which has lost all its roots of originality as well as being awfully predictable. You know that a story is a cliche when you can foresee the ending halfway through the movie. In cases like this, the aspect of cliche completely ruins the enjoyment factor for the viewer as it adopts the same conventional scheme from other movies. Throughout the years, viewers have become able to subconsciously identify certain key plot points of a movie. The recurring use of cliches has made us somewhat numb to overly-cliched movies and in the end, they all look the same, despite the different setups, characters and story lines. In some other cases, the use of cliche in movies make us cringe and squirm with displeasure when overly cheesy lines and scenes, which will never happen in reality, are incorporated.

As for myself, I loved watching action movies where there were loud explosions and complex fight scenes as a child. But as I grow older, I begin to gradually adhere to the concept of cliche and lose the adrenaline rush I once felt when watching those movies. Of course, I still enjoy battle movies but it’s just not the same anymore once you realise that it’s just a repetitive cycle of climatic showdowns, incompetent villains and training montages. 

However, in some cases, the concept of cliche plots do pay off and actually make the film more enjoyable as a whole. Romantic movies are one of the most obvious examples to support this statement. As we all may already know, romantic movies usually centre around a man and a woman who are passionately attracted to one another, indefinitely fall in love, have a few ups-and-downs but end up happily together. This is an example of one of the most stereotypical, run-of-the-mill type of love stories but you have to admit that no matter how cliche the story can get, you always end up rooting for the destined couple to be together. In my opinion, this proves that cliches can also be categorised as figments of satisfaction that make us grin with glee when the ending is somewhat the resolution that we hoped for. Come on, we have to admit that happy endings are actually what we all hope to achieve someday!

Every individual has their own personal take on the concept of cliche and it’s entirely up to one’s perspective on how they judge this trend. However, one thing is for sure: the cliche trend will continue to live on and we’ll still be seeing its figure for a long, long time.


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