You’re looking for a movie genre list, maybe for inspiration, but every list you find has too broad or hyper-specific categories that it becomes overwhelming. We’ve created the perfect movie and TV genre list that will explain the various categories of film and television with their specific subgenres, and we’ll also include helpful examples for each along the way.

Watch: Movie Genres and Subgenres Explained

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Movie & TV Genres Preface

Why should you learn about genre?

There are storytellers and filmmakers who live inside particular genres, and you may even hear some of them say, “I make genre movies.” This seems simple enough on the surface, but being a ‘genre storyteller’ requires you to fully understand what your specific genre means. 

Let’s do a quick refresher on the overall meaning of genre:

Movie Genre Definition

What is a movie genre?

Movie genres are stylistic categories where a particular movie can be placed based on the setting, characters, plot, mood, tone, and theme. A film's main genre category will be based on where the majority of the content lands. A sub-genre is a smaller category that fits inside a particular genre. Often this is a mixture of two separate genres. Genres and sub-genres change over time and are informed by one another. 

How do you determine a movie genre?

  • Has the ability to generate sub-genres
  • Describes the style of a work of entertainment
  • Can be combined with other genres if needed

Genres and sub-genres can be mixed and combined until you go blue in the face (or fingers), so if you don’t see a sub-genre on this list you can combine the meanings of each respective genre to make your own. 

Now that you have a better understanding of genre's definition, let’s go over each category along with their sub-genres. We’ll have popular and accurate examples that will help clear up any confusion.

Action Movie Genre List

Action Genre

Movies in the action genre are defined by risk and stakes. While many movies may feature an action sequence, to be appropriately categorized inside the action genre, the bulk of the content must be action-oriented, including fight scenes, stunts, car chases, and general danger.

Action Movie Supercut

Heroic Bloodshed

This action sub-genre is defined by values like duty, brotherhood, honor, redemption, and the protection of the vulnerable. It was initially created in Hong Kong cinema but has since made its way around the world.
Ex. The Killer (1989), Hard Boiled (1992).

Military Action

While some movies may incorporate various military characters, settings, themes, and events, this particular sub-genre focuses on their exploits and suggests these events are entertaining rather than tragic. Some of the best Michael Bay movies come to mind.
Ex. Commando (1985), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009).


Espionage action movies are similar to military action movies in that they’re intended for excitement and entertainment rather than focusing on the political and psychological aspects of espionage. James Bond movies might be the most recognizable but there are plenty of others. Ex. Casino Royale (2006), Mission: Impossible III (2006).

Wuxia Action

This highly specific sub-genre focuses on martial arts as both a form of excitement, but also as a chivalrous act of protection and honor.
Ex. Hero (2002), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).


Disaster movies are defined by a large amount of destruction, specifically from naturally occurring events, where characters try to survive. If an alien force is the force of destruction, the film will be categorized as science fiction rather than a straight disaster movie. Ex.The Day After Tomorrow (2004)Dante’s Peak (1997).


Movies in the adventure genre are defined by a journey, often including some form of pursuit, and can take place in any setting. Some of Steven Spielberg's best movies capture the essence of what makes this genre so exciting.
Ex. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)Lawrence of Arabia (1962).


The superhero movie is defined by characters not only with supernatural abilities but using those abilities for altruistic purposes. If the film has superpowers that are used for questionable purposes, it would be more of a supernatural thriller versus a “superhero” movie. Marvel movies have been dominating of late but they only occupy a small percentage of the best superhero movies ever made.
Ex. Iron Man (2008), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).

Types of Animation Movies

Animation Genre

The animation genre is defined by inanimate objects being manipulated to appear as though they are living. This can be done in many different ways and can incorporate any other genre and sub-genre on this list. For more info on animation, you can dive deeper on the types of animation, the principles of animation or see our list of the best animated movies of all time.

Animation Genre and History  •  Subscribe on YouTube


Traditional animation is defined by hand-drawn and painted images that are assembled to animate a cartoon that tells a story.
Ex. Robin Hood (1973), The Flight of Dragons (1982).

Stop Motion

Stop motion animation is defined by taking real objects and adjusting them frame by frame to simulate motion and emotion. Stop motion refers to the style of photography, while stop motion such as claymation and sometimes puppet animation can fall into multiple sub-genres.
Ex. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and some of the best stop motion movies of all time.


Claymation is a form of stop motion animation, except the subjects used are built specifically out of clay.
Ex. Chicken Run (2000), Early Man (2018) and many of the best Rankin Bass Christmas movies.


This is where shapes are cut out and placed on top of one another to make figures and settings, all used to tell a story.
Ex. South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999).

Computer Generated Imagery

CGI is the most common form of modern animation, where modeling programs and software are used to animate cartoons.
Ex. Shrek (2001), Rango (2011) and Pixar's incredible short films.


Puppetry animation is where puppets, including hand, stick, shadow, ventriloquist, and marionettes are used to tell a story. 
Ex. Team America: World Police (2004).


Live-action animation is where animation, of any kind, is mixed with real-life subjects to create a single world. 
Ex. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Space Jam (1996).

List of Comedy Film Genres

Comedy Genre

The comedy genre is defined by events that are intended to make someone laugh, no matter if the story is macabre, droll, or zany. Comedy can be found in most movies, but if the majority of the film is intended to be a comedy you may safely place it in this genre. The best comedy movies range throughout this entire spectrum of humor.

Comedy Genre Scene Supercut


The action-comedy sub-genre incorporates humorous actions within the action, using the exciting events in the story for laughs.
Ex. Hot Fuzz (2007), Charlie’s Angels (2000).

Dark Comedy (Black Comedy)

Dark comedy (or Black Comedy) is defined by using attitudes and events that would normally be objectionable to set up humorous situations.
Ex. Very Bad Things (1998), Fargo (1996) and more of the best dark comedy movies ever made.

Romantic Comedy

Romantic comedies (aka Rom-Coms) are defined by comedy derived from relationship frustrations that are intimate in nature. This includes any combination of gender or situation across the sexual spectrum with films that include some of the best romantic quotes ever written. Some of Woody Allen's best movies redefined the genre.
Ex. Sleepless in Seattle (1993), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003).

Buddy Comedy

A buddy comedy is defined by at least two individuals who we follow through a series of humorous events. Often their (platonic) relationship is the main source of comedy in the story.
Ex. Rush Hour (1998), Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2003).

Road Comedy

Road comedies are defined by humorous situations derived from a journey along a set path, and often feature a set of stops and characters along the way that forces the protagonist(s) further down the road.
Ex. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987), Dumb and Dumber (1994).

Road Comedy Meets Slapstick

Slapstick Comedy

Slapstick comedy is defined by humor derived from physical movement, harm, or frustration that requires little to no dialogue.
Ex. The Party (1968), Mouse Hunt (1997).


I’ve decided to put parody, spoof, and satire next to one another because they’re often thought to be synonyms, but truthfully they are not. A parody mocks and specifically targets a single piece of art or connected body of work. A parody is more precise, and more limited.
Ex. MacGruber (2010), Spaceballs (1987).


A spoof is broader than a parody because it mocks an entire genre or collection of similar, but separate works. Where parody targets a specific piece of art or entertainment, spoofs target the entire genre.
Ex. The Naked Gun (1988), Not Another Teen Movie (2001).


Satire movies are the broadest of the three in that it mocks overall ideas, vices, human nature, institutions, or any number of concepts that don’t necessarily have a specific connection to another piece of art.

3 Types of Satire Explained  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Ex. In The Loop (2009), Idiocracy (2006) or even Dr. Strangelove, just one of Stanley Kubrick's best movies.


A sitcom (situational comedy) is defined by a set group of people who must navigate through humorous situations and misunderstandings. Sitcoms in the past were very often captured using multiple cameras on a soundstage, but it is by no means required. For an inside look at how sitcoms are written, download your own copy of this Seinfeld script or the The Office pilot episode.
Ex. Seinfeld (1989), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005).

Sketch Comedy

Sketch comedy is defined by a collection of separate situations, with no inherent connection to each other, and can include the use of parody, satire, spoof, and many other comedy sub-genres.
Ex. Chappelle’s Show (2003), The Whitest Kids U’ Know (2006).

"Do you wanna go to war, Blake?"


Mockumentaries use the documentary format for parody, satire, or spoof. They don’t mock the format, but rather use the format to mock. Ex. This is Spinal Tap (1984), The Office (2004).


The prank genre is defined by a mixture of real-life participants who are lead through a planned event without their knowledge. The orchestrators often have a premeditated intention to coerce foolishness or error from the participant for the sake of humor or surprise.
Ex. Borat (2006), Nathan For You (2013).

Crime Film Genre List

Crime Genre

The crime genre deals with both sides of the criminal justice system but does not focus on legislative matters or civil suits and legal actions. The best crime movies often occupy moral gray areas where heroes and villains are much harder to define. Many of Martin Scorsese's best movies or Quentin Tarantino's movies fall within the crime genre.

How to Shoot a Shoutout  •  Heat vs. The Matrix


The caper sub-genre is defined by a group of criminals, often non-violent, who set out on a heist or job. A caper is often humorous and less serious in nature when compared to the other crime sub-genres. Ex. Ocean’s Eleven (2001), A Fish Called Wanda (1988). 


The heist sub-genre is defined by a criminal, or group of criminals, who set out to steal something valuable, and have a more serious tone when compared to a caper story. The subjects must navigate a set of obstacles and avoid law enforcement, and often the “getaway” is incorporated.
Ex. Heat (1995), The Score (2001). 


A gangster story follows and explores the world of organized crime. A film may include organized crime, but if the majority of the story doesn't explore organized crime, it wouldn’t fall into this sub-genre.
Ex. Goodfellas (1990), Boyz in the Hood (1991) are just some of the best gangster movies (not to be confused with the best Mafia movies). 

Cop (Police)

The cop sub-genre follows a street cop (not a detective) who deals with criminals, crime, and the overall lifestyle as an officer of the law. You might find that some lists will have cop movies and detective movies intertwined, but for our list, we’ll focus on the beat-cops.
Ex. End of Watch (2012), Beverly Hills Cop (1984).   


A detective story follows an investigator or set of investigators, either private or as a representative of a government, and follows the clues and revelations of a particular case, or set of cases. 

The Whydunit  •  Not your typical detective film

The Whydunit, explained above, is a twist on the typical detective sub-genre, one that is more concerned with they "why" than the "who" like in murder mysteries. Ex. L.A. Confidential (1997), Se7en (1995).


The courtroom sub-genre requires the majority of the story to take place inside, or support the events that are connected to a court case.
Ex. A Time To Kill (1996). 


A procedural is defined by following the established day-to-day events of investigating, solving, and prosecuting crime. Procedurals often end in situations where law enforcement has learned a valuable lesson, but their lives may not be irrevocably changed from each particular case. Ex. Law & Order (1990), Miami Vice (1984).

Types of Drama Movie Genres

Drama Genre

The drama genre is defined by conflict and often looks to reality rather than sensationalism. Emotions and intense situations are the focus, but where other genres might use unique or exciting moments to create a feeling, movies in the drama genre focus on common occurrences. Drama is a very broad category and untethered to any era — from movies based on Shakespeare to contemporary narratives.

SPOILER ALERT  •  Drama Genre Scene Supercut


A modern melodrama is defined by the prioritization of dramatic rhetoric and plot over character. The events are intended to elicit an intense emotional response. A melodrama strives for situations used to illustrate a larger moral thesis that acts as an agent of empathy.
Ex. Beaches (1988), The Fault in our Stars (2012). 

Teen Drama

The teen drama sub-genre is both simple and redundant. It focuses on the lives of teenagers, group dynamics, and general woes of adolescence. Ex. The Virgin Suicides (1999), Kids (1995). 

Philosophical Drama

The philosophical sub-genre is defined by an exploration of the human condition, and the drama is derived from the questions that are presented by mere existence and life itself.
Ex. The Razor’s Edge (1984), I Heart Huckabees (2004).

"What happens in a meadow at dusk?"

Medical Drama

The medical sub-genre focuses on the inherent drama of health conditions, the inner workings of hospitals, the relationship between doctors and medical staff, and the medical industry. There are medical procedurals that follow the day-to-day life of health care professionals. Ex. House (2004), Bringing Out The Dead (1999).

Legal Drama

The legal-drama sub-genre is defined by lawyers, judges, and legal complications that may be peripheral but not enveloped by the criminal justice system or matters relating to crime and punishment. While a legal drama may dip into criminal justice matters, the real focus is on characters at a law firm or judges chambers rather than a crime. Ex. The Practice (1997), The Firm (1993).

Political Drama

The political-drama sub-genre focuses on the complications and inherent drama that takes place inside the world of politics. This can range anywhere from local government to national political climates. Ex. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), House of Cards (2013).

Anthropological Drama

The anthropological sub-genre focuses on the drama derived from human behavior and society at large, and while the story may feature a central protagonist, the story might focus on a specific culture or a broad representation of society.
Ex. City of God (2002), some of Spike Lee's best movies.

"Get that chicken!"

Religious Drama

The religious sub-genre is similar to the previous categories in that it focuses on the questions and inherent drama derived from religious situations and has the ability to incorporate supernatural events.
Ex. The Passion of the Christ (2004), Silence (2013).


A docudrama takes real-life accounts and recreates them in a way that attempts to accurately represent events while also realizing the dramatic potential of those events. Docudramas are held to a higher standard of accuracy (not quality) than historical accounts or memoirs.
Ex. Captain Phillips (2013), 127 Hours (2010).


Experimental Genre

The experimental genre is often defined by the idea that the work of art and entertainment does not fit into a particular genre or sub-genre, and is intended as such. Experimental art can completely forego a cohesive narrative in exchange for an emotional response or nothing at all. 

Un Chien Andalou — Experimental Cinema Genre


Surrealism cannot be stylistically defined, and this is the point of the sub-genre itself. The intention of surrealist art is to act as an activity to broaden horizons, either of oneself or of others. Surrealist art often uses irrational imagery to activate the subconscious mind. Ex. Eraserhead (1977), 8 ½ (1963).


The absurdist sub-genre focuses on characters who experience situations that suggest there is no central purpose to life. Another way to frame it is a set of experiences that catalyze a descent into nihilism. Ex. The Exterminating Angel (1962), Brazil (1985).


Fantasy Genre

The fantasy genre is defined by both circumstance and setting inside a fictional universe with an unrealistic set of natural laws. The possibilities of fantasy are nearly endless, but the movies will often be inspired by human myths.

The genre often adheres to general human psychology and societal behavior while incorporating non-scientific concepts like magic, mythical creatures, and supernatural elements. 

Fantasy Genre Supercut

Contemporary Fantasy

A contemporary fantasy story introduces elements of fantasy into or around a world that closely resembles the time period when it was conceived. Urban fantasy can serve as contemporary fantasy but must take place in an urban setting whereas contemporary fantasy can be set anywhere that resembles the corresponding time period. Ex. Harry Potter series (2001-2011), The Chronicles of Narnia (2005).

Urban Fantasy

An urban fantasy is a story introduces elements of fantasy and is set entirely in an urban environment. The urban environment can be real, fictional, modern, or inspired by history, but the story must take place and deal with concepts and themes related to an urban environment. Ex. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV) (1997), Supernatural (TV) (2005).

Dark Fantasy

A dark fantasy is a story where elements of fantasy are introduced into a hostile and frightening world. If a significant portion of the story takes place in a world that has a range of circumstances, mood, and tone it would most likely be categorized as a high fantasy or general fantasy. Ex. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Solomon Kane (2009). 

High Fantasy

High fantasy can also be referred to as epic fantasy, and introduces elements of fantasy in a fictional setting, and will include romance, battles, and mythical creatures. High fantasy is the fantasy genre equivalent of a historical epic or a science fiction space opera.
Ex. The Lord of the Rings (2001), Game of Thrones (2011). 

The Lord of the Rings  •  The Battle of Minas Tirith


A myth is defined by a story that often plays a fundamental role in the development of a society, which may include the origin story for humanity and existence. Often this will include characters that are gods, demigods, and supernatural humans. As noted by Joseph Campbell theory on The Hero's Journey, myths have similar characteristics despite an apparent lack of influence, which gives a myth the ability to be universally accepted.
Ex. Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The Monkey King (2014).

Historical Movie Genre List

Historical Genre

The historical genre can be split into two sections. One deals with accurate representations of historical accounts which can include biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. The other section is made up of fictional movies that are placed inside an accurate depiction of a historical setting. 

The accuracy of a historical story is measured against historical accounts, not fact, as there can never be a perfectly factual account of any event without first-hand experience. 

Historical Event

The historical event genre focuses on a story that creates a dramatized depiction of an event that exists in popular accounts of history. This is different from a biography in that it focuses on an event.
Ex. Apollo 13 (1995), Lincoln (2012) 


A biography (or biopic) is a story that details the life and is told by someone other than the subject.

What makes a good biopic movie?

A biography will often span a large portion of the subject's life, but in some rare cases, it may focus on the time period where that person’s life had the greatest effect on history and society.
Ex. A Beautiful Mind (2001), Catch Me If You Can (2002) 

Historical Epic

A historical epic is the dramatized account of a large scale event that has an attached historical account. They often feature battles, romance, and journeys, and will commonly revise history or provide assumptions that fill in gaps in the account of the historical event. Ex. Ben-Hur (1959), Troy (2004) 

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction takes place during a historical time period, and will often take a more liberal approach to representing history for the sake of drama and entertainment. Historical fiction may use real-life events and people to build context, but they’re meant to be accepted as a supposition rather than serve as an accurate historical account. Ex. Spartacus (1960)Titanic (1997) 

Period Piece

The difference between a period piece and historical fiction is slight, but the main difference is a general omission or a lack of necessity for real-life characters or events to provide context. Period pieces are merely defined by taking place in, and accurately depicting the time period as opposed to specific lives, events, or accounts.
Ex. The Age of Innocence (1993)Barry Lyndon (1975)

Alternate History

Alternate history is defined by the rewriting of historical events for the sake of speculative outcomes. These movies commonly focus on important, highly influential moments that often lead to alternate futures. Some of these movies may even include supernatural elements. Ex. The Man in the High Castle (2015), Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Horror sub-genres

Horror Genre

The horror genre is centered upon depicting terrifying or macabre events for the sake of entertainment. A thriller might tease the possibility of a terrible event, whereas a horror film will deliver all throughout the film. The best horror movies are designed to get the heart pumping and to show us a glimpse of the unknown. 


A ghost movie uses the spirit or soul of a deceased creature to introduce elements of horror. These movies can take place in any time period and are only required to evoke terror through the use of ghosts.
Ex.The Frighteners (1996), The Others (2001)


A monster movie uses a deformed or supernatural creature or set of creatures, to introduce elements of horror. These movies can also take place in any time period or setting, and their only real requirement is that the antagonist is can be categorized as a monster. Ex. The Babadook (2014), Pumpkinhead (1988)


A werewolf movie introduces elements of horror through the use of a human or set of humans that transform into a wolf-like creatures. Sometimes these werewolves have the ability to shape-shift at will, but in other cases, their transformation is dictated by a full moon. The only requirement is the use of the werewolf as the antagonist.
Ex. An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Wolfman (1941) are just some of the best werewolf movies ever made.


A vampire movie introduces elements of horror through the use of undead, immortal creatures that drink blood. They can be set in any time and place and must only use vampires as the antagonist. Some vampire movies feature vampires as the protagonist, but this is often used to build sympathy rather than as a device for terror.
Ex. Near Dark (1987) is one of the best '80s vampire movies while Nosferatu (1922) is one of the best vampire movies of all time.

Different Movie Genres  •  Near Dark


Occult movies are defined by an extension of pure reason and use paranormal themes to introduce elements of horror. Occult literally translates into “hidden from view” and involves the study of a deeper spiritual reality that extends scientific observation. Ex. Hereditary (2018), Rosemary’s Baby (1968)


A slasher story introduces elements of horror through an antagonist or set of antagonists who stalk and murder a group of people, most commonly through the use of a blade or a sharp weapon. The slasher movie is so engrained in our movie culture, even non-slasher movies use some of the same techniques and tropes. Ex. Halloween (1978), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)


A splatter story introduces elements of horror by focusing on the vulnerability of the human body, and an emphasis on gore. Splatter movies often involve torture and attempt to present gore as an art form. Ex. Day of the Dead (1985), Jigoku (1960)

Found Footage

Found footage can be used for any genre, but it is most commonly used in horror and features footage that appears to be an existing and informal recording of events with the purpose of simulating real-life horrific events.
Ex. The Blair Witch Project (1999), V/H/S (2012)


The zombie movie has roots all the way back to the '30s but it didn't really kick into high gear until the late 1960s. The general plot of the best zombie movies involves a group of characters trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies. The specific cause for the event ranges from infectious disease to experimental drugs gone wrong. Ex. Night of the Living Dead (1968), 28 Days Later (2002)

Types of Romance Movies

Romance Genre

The romance genre is defined by intimate relationships. Sometimes these movies can have a darker twist, but the idea is to lean on the natural conflict derived from the pursuit of intimacy and love.  

Romance Drama

The romance-drama sub-genre is defined by the conflict generated from a  romantic relationship. What makes a romance-drama different from a romantic-thriller is both the source of the drama but also the intentions and motivations that drive each character’s perspective. Ex. Revolutionary Road (2008), Blue Valentine (2010) 

Romance Thriller

The romance-thriller sub-genre is defined by a suspenseful story that includes and is most likely based around a romantic relationship. Some romantic thrillers can divert into psychological thrillers where the relationship is used to manipulate, but most focus on the characters attempting to make it out of events so that they may be together. Ex. The Saint (1997), Unfaithful (2002) 

The Saint Trailer

Period Romance

A period-romance story is defined by the setting and can include and incorporate other romance sub-genres. The setting must be a historical time period, and often will adhere to the societal norms of the specific time period, though some movies have taken a more revisionist approach.
Ex. Pride & Prejudice (2005), Jane Eyre (2011)

List of Sci-Fi Genres

Science Fiction Genre

Science fiction movies are defined by a mixture of speculation and science. While fantasy will explain through or make use of magic and mysticism, science fiction will use the changes and trajectory of technology and science. Science fiction will often incorporate space, biology, energy, time, and any other observable science. Most of James Cameron's best movies lean heavily on science fiction.


Post-apocalyptic movies are based around the occurrence, effects, and struggle generated by an apocalyptic event. While a dystopian story may incorporate a large war or apocalyptic event in its narrative history, it will include a centralized government that was formed after the event. Apocalyptic movies will not have a centralized government but may feature smaller societies and tribes as part of the story. Ex. 12 Monkeys (1995), 28 Days Later (2002) 


The utopian genre is defined by the creator’s view of an idyllic world since each person has a unique view of what they deem to be the absence of struggle and incident, but generally, themes included in the movies are peace, harmony, and a world without hunger or homelessness. In the past, utopian movies have been tied to satire because the nature of a story is often conflict, and a utopian society is viewed as an unrealistic concept.
Ex. Gattaca (1997), Tomorrowland (2015)


A dystopian story is one that features a world or society that serves as a contradiction to an idyllic world. Often there is a centralized and oppressive government or religion that dictates the value of citizens on a dehumanizing level, and may or may not incorporate a destructive event that drove the creation of that centralized institution.
Ex. Children of Men (2006), Equilibrium (2002) 


The cyberpunk sub-genre is defined by a mixture of a desperate society oversaturated with the crime that takes place in a high tech world that includes cybernetic organisms, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. Ex. Blade Runner (1982), Elysium (2013) are just two of the best cyberpunk movies


The steampunk sub-genre is inspired by technology created during the 19th century and the industrial revolution and may be set in a speculative future, alternate universe, or revision of the 1800s.
Ex. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Mortal Engines (2018)  

Tech Noir

Tech noir is similar to dystopian but defined by technology as the main source behind humanity's struggle and partial downfall. There is no requirement for a centralized government, and the only true aspect that places a story in this category is that technology threatens our reality. Ex. The Terminator (1984)

Space Opera

A space opera is defined by a mixture of space warfare, adventure, and romance. The genre got its name from similarities to “soap operas” and “horse operas” due to their collective connection to melodrama. The term “space opera” has no connection to the music of any kind.
Ex. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), The Fifth Element (1997) 


A contemporary science fiction story is set in the actual time period of its conception and introduces some form of a theoretical technology or scientific concept to serve as the story’s main source of conflict. This is different from tech-noir both due to scale and a strict time period.
Ex. Ex Machina (2014), Arrival (2016)


A military science fiction story is defined by a strict focus on the military conflict in a speculative or future setting. While other movies may include space warfare, a military science fiction story will be limited to themes and events directly tied to military service and battle.
Ex. Starship Troopers (1997), Aliens (1986)

Thriller Movie Categories

Thriller Genre

A thriller story is mostly about the emotional purpose, which is to elicit strong emotions, mostly dealing with generating suspense and anxiety. No matter what the specific plot, the best thrillers get your heart racing.


A psychological thriller focuses and emphasizes the unstable psychological state of the characters inside the story. Often there is a mysterious set of circumstances, and a paranoia, warranted or otherwise, that catalyzes extreme actions from the characters. Many of Darren Aronofsky's best movies explore the dark depths inside the broken psyche of his protagonists. Ex. Gone Girl (2014), Memento (2000)


A mystery story can often be connected to the crime genre, but may not involve or use law enforcement or the justice system as the main characters or backdrop for the story. A mystery story is defined by the plot, and both the character’s and the viewer’s relationship with the motivations and reality behind the events that occur.

If you've seen any of M. Night Shyamalan's movies, you know how mystery plays a part. Ex. Prisoners (2013), The Gift (2015)

M. Night Shyamalan's Directing Style


The techno-thriller sub-genre is defined by a conflict that takes place for or through Various forms of technology. What makes a techno-thriller different from various action sub-genres is the level of detail paid toward the underlying technical aspects of the technology and its effects. 

Film Noir

Some consider the definition of film noir to more of a style than a genre, because there is no requirement to be connected to a crime. There is, however, a natural overlap between style and genre in the best Film Noir movies. The central theme behind the noir sub-genre is a psychic imbalance that leads to self-hatred, aggression, or sociopathy. Recently, Neo-Noir movies have modified these themes to the modern day. 

Western Movie sub-genres

Western Genre

Westerns are defined by their setting and time period. The story needs to take place in the American West, which begins as far east as Missouri and extends to the Pacific ocean. They’re set during the 19th century, and will often feature horse riding, military expansion, violent and non-violent interaction with Native American tribes, the creation of railways, gunfights, and technology created during the industrial revolution. 

Neo-Westerns Explained  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Epic Western

The idea of an epic western is to emphasize and incorporate many if not all of the western genre elements, but on a grand scale, and also use the backdrop of large scale real-life events to frame your story. 

Empire Western

These movies follow a protagonist or a group of protagonists as they forge a large scale business based on natural resources and land. It can also follow the creation of the railroad, or large scale settlement. 

Marshal Western

A marshal western is where we follow a lawman as they attempt to track down, apprehend, and punish a criminal or group of gangsters.

Tombstone Trailer

Outlaw Western

An outlaw western is where we follow a criminal or group of criminals as they attempt crimes and evade the law. Often, these movies will portray the outlaws in a somewhat favorable manner.

Revenge Western

This genre is defined by a singular goal and will incorporate the elements of the western genre while the protagonist seeks revenge. 

Revisionist Western

A revisionist western challenges and often aims to disprove the notions propped up by traditional westerns. Early westerns often had their own agenda, and revisionist westerns attempt to dissolve and cast aside a commonly one-sided genre.

Spaghetti Western

The Spaghetti Western genre was named such because the films were initially made in Italy or produced by Italian filmmakers. Because these films are defined by their ‘heritage’ they can also fall into many of the other western genres as long as they are Italian built. Here are our picks for the best Spaghetti Westerns of all time.

Movie Genre List

Musical Genre

Musicals originated as stage plays, but they soon became a favorite for many film directors and have even made their way into television. Musicals can incorporate any other genre, but they incorporate characters who sing songs and perform dance numbers.

La La Land  •  Another Day of Sun

War Movie Genre

War Genre

The war genre has a few debatable definitions, but we’re going to try to be as straightforward and impartial as humanly possible. Movies in the war genre center around large scale conflicts between opposing forces inside a universe that shares the same natural laws as our own.

War movies can be historical accounts, fictionalized events, or future speculations that incorporate civilian interaction, political interaction, and espionage that takes place alongside a large scale, violent conflict. Some of the best WWII movies include all of those elements.

Saving Private Ryan Trailer

They are not intended to act strictly as a form of entertainment, but rather to create a deep sense of empathy toward the reality of war. Movies in the war genre may romanticize aspects of military action and camaraderie, but the purpose is to convey the reality that war brings. 

They can be set in any time period or setting, but the central theme and bulk of the content must incorporate war to remain in this genre.

Up Next

Learn how to write a screenplay

Now that you have a better idea of movie categories and the various film and television genres, why not start writing your own story. Read up on How to Write a Screenplay. We take you through the steps necessary to create a professionally structured and formatted screenplay. 

Up Next: How to Write a Screenplay →
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