The Comprehensive Guide to 28 Movie Genres

Film Genres

Genre is an important part of any movie. It tells us what kind of story we’re about to see, which helps us make better choices about what movies we want to watch. But if you’re new to film, it can be hard to know where to start.

There are many different types of movies, but if you’re new to the world of film, it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s a guide to the basic genres and how to use them.

What is a movie genre?

Movie genres are a classification of films, according to their content, style, and target audience. They are used in the film industry to market and promote films. The concept of genre itself has been around for decades.

In today’s film industry, there are hundreds of commonly used genres (such as romance or comedy). Some of these genres have become so ingrained in popular culture that they are now considered staples of cinema. Others are more obscure or specific to certain cultures.

29 Movie Genres

A movie genre is a category of films with similar characteristics. Genres focus on the main story, setting, and type of character, as well as the themes explored in the film. A certain combination of these elements may be used to identify a film or genre.

The following genres are some of the most popular:

Action Film : woman in black leather jacket holding black rifle


1: Action

Action films are fast-paced movies where the story is driven by physical conflict between characters and/or by actions taken by characters in pursuit of their goals. They typically feature various types of action sequences including martial arts combat, shootouts, fist fights and chases.

Adventure Film: orange canoe on lake surrounding with mountain at daytime

2: Adventure

Adventure films are a broad genre of films that typically use the film to either portray an adventure in the life of a protagonist or to showcase exotic locations, which are often the focus of the film. The main characters must face adversity and/or be presented with challenges that they must overcome by themselves.

Animation Films

3: Animation

Animated films based on comic books or books often created by artists like Disney or Pixar . They use computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology to create animated characters that move realistically on screen as if they were real people.

Biography: woman posing beside lite window

4: Biographical

Biographical films are movies that are based on real people, events or situations. They are often made with the aim of telling the story of an historical figure or event. The term may also be used to describe movies that tell the story of a famous person’s life.

Biographical films can be either dramas or comedies, but they usually focus on one person and their struggle to achieve something in life. Some biographical films focus more on the subject’s private life rather than their public achievements.

Comedy Films: white the Comedy Store neon signage

5: Comedy

Comedy is one of the most popular genres for movies and TV shows today. Comedy movies are usually lighthearted, funny stories that make audiences laugh out loud (or at least chuckle). They usually have happy endings or at least hopeful ones that leave viewers feeling good about life after watching them. Comedies frequently feature slapstick humor, physical comedy (such as pratfalls) and satirical humor aimed at making fun of people or institutions in society.

Crime Film: silhouette of person on window

6: Crime

A crime film is a film genre that focuses on crime. The stylistic approach to a crime film varies from realistic portrayals of real-life criminal figures, to the far-fetched evil doings of imaginary arch-villains. However, these films normally have elements that are derived from actual crimes.

Crime films often center around a story of the main character’s attempt to deal with or put an end to the crime they are facing, but they may also include stories about criminals attempting to break free from their pasts through violence and/or other means.

Dark comedy: man in black shirt singing on stage

7: Dark comedy

Dark comedy is a subgenre of comedy and satire where topics and events that are usually treated seriously are treated in a humorous manner. It is often combined with elements of absurdism and surrealism.

Disaster film: person in black long sleeve shirt covering face with face

8: Disaster

The disaster genre is a subgenre of the drama film, which is used most often to depict the aftermath of an unfortunate event or accident in which many people have died or are injured. Although there are many types of disasters, such as natural disasters, the most popular ones are the ones caused by human beings. These include plane crashes, shipwrecks and bomb explosions.

Documentary Film: flat screen TV showing man's face

9: Documentary

Documentary filmmaking can be defined as an independent art form that uses a variety of styles and techniques to reflect or illuminate reality, or social phenomenon. A “documentary” is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record.

Drama Films: man looking at red neon signage

10: Drama

Drama films are usually serious in tone and explore deep emotional themes such as loss and regret. They usually take place against a backdrop of conflict and feature characters who face challenges that test their strength of will.

Epic Film: man holding camera while filming

11: Epic

Epic is a genre of film that tells stories that are large in scale and scope. It normally deals with the struggle between good and evil, often set in a dramatic landscape, generally with an epic hero who leads the fight against evil. It may be a fight against nature, or an external threat, or against strange forces from another planet, or against supernatural forces.

Fantasy: woman in white dress wearing green fairy wings

12: Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in the fictional universe inspired by real life. It is considered to be a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy. Fantasy has been used as a synonym for magical realism, but in its broadest sense it describes storytelling in which the narrative accepts the fantastic as normal.

Fiction Film: white storefront

13: Fiction

Fiction is a film genre that uses fictitious events to entertain an audience. The audience knows that the movie or show is not real, but enjoys being immersed in the world created by the narrative and identifying with the characters.

History Film: seven hardbound books on black surface

14: History

History film is a term used to describe films that are mostly or entirely based on historical events. A history film presents the past as an event in narrative form. History films may or may not be accurate (many are not), but they all use some combination of dramatization, narration and documentary elements to re-create historical events on screen.

Horror Film: closeup photo of person's hand

15: Horror

A horror film is a movie that seeks to elicit fear in its audience. In the traditional sense, the genre is exclusive to films that can be classified as “horror”, generally those that feature supernatural, paranormal or otherwise horrific themes.

Horror films often aim to provoke viewers into an emotional state of fear and terror, often through disturbing portrayals of violence in combination with images such as gore and disturbing sounds.

Melodram: unknown person performing indoors

16: Melodrama

Melodrama is a film genre in which the plot revolves around a conflict that arises from the emotional problems of the leading characters. Melodramas are usually romantic, but not always. The term “melodrama” is often associated with women’s films, and more recently, soap operas.

Musical Film: man holding acoustic guitar

17: Musical

A musical film is a type of movie that features music as an important element in its plotline or overall theme. Musical films often feature singing and dancing, which are performed by actors to convey emotion or develop character.

Mystery: silhouette of man standing in front of window

18: Mystery

The mystery film is a subgenre of crime movies and detective films, which are often confused with one another. Detective films are typically a crime drama in which the main character is a detective or other type of investigator. The mystery film is typically a “whodunit,” in which the audience is presented with clues that may or may not be explained by the end.

Narrative Film: person holding white book

19: Narrative

Narrative film is a film genre in which the story and the events are arranged to unfold as in a written narrative, mostly in the form of a continuous chronology. The narrative structure can be in any mode, from episodic to non-linear. Often, different writers collaborate to create a screenplay with no prior agreement on story details.

Noir Film: grayscale photography of woman holding lantern

20: Noir

Noir film is a subgenre of detective fiction, crime fiction, and gangster films. Film noir is associated with the low-key lighting, dark streets, and alleys of big cities, and/or the corruption and brutality of people who are involved with them. While some film noirs feature stories set in small towns or rural areas, many take place in urban settings.

Romance Films - couple sitting on the field facing the city

21: Romance

A romance film is a film that focuses on romantic love, often in the form of a melodrama. Romance films are often love stories depicting passionate love affairs or love that is impossible to be fulfilled or returned. Romance films are generally melodramatic and focus on love stories that are typically characterized by strong conflicts or tragic endings.

Romantic Comedy: man and woman sitting and facing near concrete fence during golden hour

22: Romantic comedy

A romantic comedy is a film with a light-hearted, humorous plot focused on the joys and follies of falling in love, which may or may not involve elements of satire. In a romantic comedy, two characters meet, part ways due to an argument or other obstacle, then ultimately reunite. Some such films use a wedding as the climax of the story. Romantic comedy films are about rekindling romance and are usually formulaic in structure.

Science Film: interior building

23: Science

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space exploration, time travel and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas”.

Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possible worlds or futures. In many cases, the alternative world is a reflection or a cautionary tale of the author’s own society. The settings are often in outer space or in imaginary future worlds based on our own at some point in the imagined timeline.

Sci-Fi Films: low-angle photography of building interior

24: Science fiction

Science fiction films are often placed in the genre of science fiction. Science-fiction films are not a genre; they are a subgenre of fantasy films. Science fiction films use futuristic settings, imaginary scientific or technological advances and “science” as plot devices which help to explore philosophical ideas.

A science fiction film may be set in the future or on other planets, or in outer space or on an alien planet, and usually involves extraterrestrial life forms such as aliens or robots. Themes explored in these films include war, politics, religion and terror.

Sports Film: man on running field

25: Sports

Sports films are films that use sports as the dominant subject. Sports can be used as a backdrop for many genres, including comedies and dramas. Sports films may depict sporting events, or use the sports themselves as a device in the plot. Sport films tend to be made about sporting events with high media interest, such as baseball, football and tennis and golf tournaments.

Thriller Films: woman wearing tank dress

26: Thriller

Thriller film is a genre of film that relies on building tension, suspense, and excitement to make viewers feel thrilled. Thrillers are usually characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Thrillers generally keep the audience on the “edge of their seats” as the plot builds towards a climax. The thriller genre includes film noir, romantic thriller, mystery thrillers, and action thrillers.

War Film: 2 men in gray crew neck t-shirt and black shorts holding black and gray dslr

27: War

A war film is a film genre concerned with warfare, typically about naval, air or land battles, with combat scenes central to the drama. It has been strongly associated with the 20th century.

The fateful nature of battle scenes means that war films often end with them. Themes explored include combat, survival and escape, camaraderie between soldiers, sacrifice, the futility and inhumanity of battle, the effects of war on society, and the moral and human issues raised by war.

Cowboy Film: man riding on white horse during daytime

28: Western

Western film is a genre of various arts, especially entertainment. It is associated with the American Old West and frontier life.

Westerns are a type of specific narrative film genre that depicts the life and times of cowboys, outlaws, and Native Americans. Western films usually take place in the American West, though there have been many exceptions to this rule. They often feature characters on horseback in rural landscapes or small towns, and frequently deal with moral conflicts regarding the violent nature of society.



What genre of movie is Spartacus?

Spartacus is a historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Dalton Trumbo.

What genre is the movie Elf?

Elf is an American Christmas comedy film directed by Jon Favreau.

What genre of movie is Mean Girls?

Mean Girls is a 2004 American teen comedy film directed by Mark Waters and written by Tina Fey.

What is the genre of the movie 9?

9 is a 2009 computer-animated science fiction film directed by Shane Acker and written by Pamela Pettler.

What genre is Sonic the Hedgehog movie?

Sonic the Hedgehog is an action-adventure comedy film directed by Jeff Fowler, based on the video game series of the same name.

What genre of movie is Spider Man?

Spider-Man is a 2002 superhero film directed by Sam Raimi.

What genre is Lolita movie?

Lolita is a 1997 drama film directed by Adrian Lyne.

What movie genre is Kill Bill?

Kill Bill is a 2003 American martial arts film directed by Quentin Tarantino.

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