Discrete Laplace operators are ubiquitous in applications spanning geometric modeling to simulation. For robustness and efficiency, many applications require discrete operators that retain key structural properties inherent to the continuous setting. Building on the smooth setting, we present a set of natural properties for discrete Laplace operators for triangular surface meshes. We prove an important theoretical limitation: discrete Laplacians cannot satisfy all natural properties; retroactively, this explains the diversity of existing discrete Laplace operators. Finally, we present a family of operators that includes and extends well-known and widely-used operators.