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Updated 29-June-2023

This article provides information about Genres and how they're applied to titles across the database.

Getting started

A Genre is a category of artistic composition, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter for a piece of content.

For example, a film genre is a motion picture category based on the narrative elements relating to the main driving force behind the story arc.

An easy way to identify the elements of genre is to piece together the narrative arc:

Story (Action) + Plot + Character + Setting = Genre

Additionally, there are also subgenres that can be added onto the database. Subgenres should play a meaningful part in the overarching plot/setting/medium of the title -- more information on these available in our keywords guidelines

Genres are ordered alphabetically on IMDb. Short, Animation, Documentary genres are the only exceptions to this and will override the alphabetical display.


Objective vs Subjective

Objective Genres are not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts. Objective genres are hard coded to the set rules of our guidelines.

Subjective Genres are common in most modern films and may be influenced by viewer opinions, interpretations, points of view, emotions, and judgement.

Genre Definitions

It should be remembered that these definitions are guidelines - No single definition can cover every possible eventuality. Some of these genres are objective; for the others, a little leeway is given. Either way, please try to adhere to the definitions as much as possible.

Please note that the genre should relate to the main driving force behind the story arc, any sub-plots may be better represented via keywords.

Action | Adult | Adventure | Animation | Biography | Comedy | Crime | Documentary | Drama | Family | Fantasy | Film Noir | Game Show | History | Horror | Musical | Music | Mystery | News | Reality-TV | Romance | Sci-Fi | Short | Sport | Talk-Show | Thriller | War | Western 

Action Should contain numerous scenes where action is spectacular and usually destructive. Often includes non-stop motion, high energy physical stunts, chases, battles, and destructive crises (floods, explosions, natural disasters, fires, etc.) Note: if a movie contains just one action scene (even if prolonged, i.e. airplane-accident) it does not qualify. Subjective.

Examples: Die Hard (1988) |The Avengers (2012) | Wonder Woman (2019)

Adult Reserved for explicit works of consenting hardcore sex or sexual activity, or strong fetish material involving adults, specifically those created for the purposes of titillation or arousal. Must be used with the plot keywords of 'hardcore' and 'sex' or 'special-sexual-interest'. Documentaries about this type of material do not use the Adult genre. Subjective.

Adventure Should contain numerous consecutive and inter-related scenes of characters participating in hazardous or exciting experiences for a specific goal. Often include searches or expeditions for lost continents and exotic locales, characters embarking in treasure hunt or heroic journeys, travels, and quests for the unknown. Not to be confused with Action, and should only sometimes be supplied with it. Subjective.

Examples: The Goonies (1985) |The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) | Life of Pi (2012)

Animation Over 75% of the title's running time should have scenes that are wholly, or part-animated. Any form of animation is acceptable, e.g., hand-drawn, computer-generated, stop-motion, etc. Puppetry does not count as animation, unless a form of animation such as stop-motion is also applied. Incidental animated sequences should be indicated with the keywords part-animated or animated-sequence instead. Please note that motion capture elements within 'real-world' films such as Paddington are not eligible for this genre. Additionally although the overwhelming majority of video games are a form of animation it's okay to forgo this genre when adding them as this is implied by the title type. Objective.

Examples: Spirited Away (2001) |The Lion King (1994) | "The Simpsons" (1989)

Biography Primary focus is on the depiction of activities and personality of a real person or persons, for some or all of their lifetime. Events in their life may be reenacted, or described in a documentary style. If re-enacted, they should generally follow reasonably close to the factual record, within the limitations of dramatic necessity. A real person in a fictional setting would not qualify a production for this genre. If the focus is primarily on events, rather than a person, use History instead. Objective.

Examples: Judy (2019) |Unbroken (2014) | Erin Brockovich (2000)

Comedy Virtually all scenes should contain characters participating in humorous or comedic experiences. The comedy can be exclusively for the viewer, at the expense of the characters in the title, or be shared with them. Please submit qualifying keywords to better describe the humor (i.e. spoof, parody, irony, slapstick, satire, dark-comedy, comedic-scene, etc.). If the title does not conform to the 'virtually all scenes' guideline then please do not add the comedy genre; instead, submit the same keyword variations described above to signify the comedic elements of the title. The subgenre keyword "dramedy-drama" can also be used to categorize titles with comedic undertones that qualify for the Drama genre but not necessarily the Comedy genre. Subjective.

Examples: Some Like it Hot (1959) |When Harry Met Sally... (1989) | Bridesmaids (2011)

Crime Whether the protagonists or antagonists are criminals this should contain numerous consecutive and inter-related scenes of characters participating, aiding, abetting, and/or planning criminal behavior or experiences usually for an illicit goal. Not to be confused with Film-Noir, and only sometimes should be supplied with it. Subjective.

Examples: Pulp Fiction (1994) |The Usual Suspects (1995) | Fargo (1996)

Documentary Should contain numerous consecutive scenes of real personages and not characters portrayed by actors. This does not include fake or spoof documentaries, which should instead have the fake-documentary keyword. A documentary that includes actors re-creating events should include the keyword "reenactment" so that those actors are not treated as "Himself." This genre should also be applied to all instances of stand-up comedy and concert performances. Objective.

Examples: American Factory (2019) |March of the Penguins (2005) | Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Drama Should contain numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a serious narrative throughout the title, usually involving conflicts and emotions. This can be exaggerated upon to produce melodrama. Subjective.

Examples: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) |What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) | Casablanca (1942)

Family Should be universally accepted viewing for a younger audience. e.g., aimed specifically for the education and/or entertainment of children or the entire family. Often features children or relates to them in the context of home and family. Note: Usually, but not always, complementary to Animation. Objective.

Examples: Toy Story (1995) |The Wizard of Oz (1939) | Mary Poppins (1964)

Fantasy Should contain numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a magical and/or mystical narrative throughout the title. Usually has elements of magic, supernatural events, mythology, folklore, or exotic fantasy worlds.Note: not to be confused with Sci-Fi which is not usually based in magic or mysticism. Subjective.

Examples: "Game of Thrones" (2011) |Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone (2001) | "Stranger Things" (2016)

Film-Noir Typically features dark, brooding characters, corruption, detectives, and the seedy side of the big city. Almost always shot in black and white, American, and set in contemporary times (relative to shooting date). We take the view that this genre began with Underworld (1927) and ended with Touch of Evil (1958). Note: neo-noir should be submitted as a keyword instead of this genre for titles that do not fit all criteria. Objective.

Examples: The Maltese Falcon (1941) |Double Indemnity (1944) | The Big Sleep (1946)

Game-Show Competition, other than sports, between, usually, non-professional contestants. The competition can include a physical component, but is usually primarily mental or strategic as opposed to athletic. This also includes what are known as "quiz shows." Talent contests staged expressly for the program are considered Game-Shows. Objective.

Examples: "Jeopardy!" (1984) |"Family Feud" (1999) | "Top Chef" (2006)

History Primary focus is on real-life events of historical significance featuring real-life characters (allowing for some artistic license); in current terms, the sort of thing that might be expected to dominate the front page of a national newspaper for at least a week; for older times, the sort of thing likely to be included in any major history book. While some characters, incidents, and dialog may be fictional, these should be relatively minor points used primarily to bridge gaps in the record. Use of actual persons in an otherwise fictional setting, or of historic events as a backdrop for a fictional story, would not qualify. If the focus is primarily on one person's life and character, rather than events of historical scope, use Biography instead. Objective.

Examples: Lincoln (2012) |Hidden Figures (2016) | The King's Speech (2010)

Horror Should contain numerous consecutive scenes of characters effecting a terrifying and/or repugnant narrative throughout the title. Note: not to be confused with Thriller which is not usually based in fear or abhorrence. Subjective.

Examples: The Shining (1980) |Halloween (1978) | A Quiet Place (2018)

Musical Should contain several scenes of characters bursting into song aimed at the viewer (this excludes songs performed for the enjoyment of other characters that may be viewing) while the rest of the time, usually but not exclusively, portraying a narrative that alludes to another Genre. Note: not to be added for titles that are simply music related or have music performances in them; e.g., pop concerts do not apply. Also, classical opera, since it is entirely musical, does not apply and should instead be treated as Music. Objective.

Examples: The Sound of Music (1965) |La La Land (2016) | The Greatest Showman (2017)

Music Contains significant music-related elements while not actually being a Musical; this may mean a concert, or a story about a band (either fictional or documentary). Subjective.

Examples: A Star Is Born (2018) |Almost Famous (2000) | Sunshine Daydream (2013)

Mystery Should contain numerous inter-related scenes of one or more characters endeavoring to widen their knowledge of anything pertaining to themselves or others. Note: Usually, but not always associated with Crime. Subjective.

Examples: The Girl on the Train (2016) |Gone Girl (2014) | Winter's Bone (2010)

News Reports and discussion of current events of public importance or interest. This generally includes newsreels, newsmagazines, daily news reports, and commentary/discussion programs that focus on news events. If the events are not current (at the time the title was initially released), use History instead. News titles are normally made for television, podcasts, or (in the case of newsreels) short films. Feature films, direct-to-video titles, and videogames would not normally be included in the News genre. Objective.

Examples: "Dateline NBC" (1992) |"Vice" (2013) | "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (2014)

Reality-TV Often, but not always, features non-professionals in an unscripted, but generally staged or manipulated, situation. May or may not use hidden cameras; generally, but not always, in a non-studio setting. Objective.

Examples: "The Bachelor" (2002) |"Property Brothers" (2011) | "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" (2010)

Romance Should contain numerous inter-related scenes of a character and their personal life with emphasis on emotional attachment or involvement with other characters, especially those characterized by a high level of purity and devotion. Note: Reminder, as with all genres if this does not describe the movie wholly, but only certain scenes or a subplot, then it should be submitted as a keyword instead. Subjective.

Examples: The Notebook (2004) |Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) | Shakespeare In Love (1998)

Sci-Fi Numerous scenes, and/or the entire background for the setting of the narrative, should be based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets. Subjective.

Examples: Star Wars (1977) |The Matrix (1999) | Alien (1979)

Short Any theatrical film or made-for-video title with a running time of less than 45 minutes, i.e., 44 minutes or less, or any TV series or TV movie with a running time of less than 22 minutes, i.e. 21 minutes or less. (A "half-hour" television program should not be listed as a Short.) If known, please submit the running time if we do not have one on record. Objective.

Examples: Hair Love (2019) |Kitbull (2019) | World of Tomorrow (2015) 
Note: the short genre no longer needs to be added to Music Videos, because they now have their own title type.

Sport Focus is on sports or a sporting event, either fictional or actual. This includes fictional stories focused on a particular sport or event, documentaries about sports, and television broadcasts of actual sporting events. In a fictional film, the sport itself can also be fictional, but it should be the primary focus of the film. Objective.

Examples: Rudy (1993) |The Blind Side (2009) | "Inside the NFL" (1977)

Talk-Show Discussion or interviews of or with a series of guests or panelists, generally appearing as themselves in a non-fictional setting (though fictional programs that mimic the form are also included). (aka "chat show"). Objective.

Examples: "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" (2014) |"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (2003) | "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" (2012)

Thriller Should contain numerous sensational scenes or a narrative that is sensational or suspenseful. Note: not to be confused with Mystery or Horror, and should only sometimes be accompanied by one (or both). Subjective.

Examples: Black Swan (2010) |The Silence of the Lambs (1991) | Se7en (1995)

War Should contain numerous scenes and/or a narrative that pertains to a real war (i.e., past or current). Note: for titles that portray fictional war, please submit it as a keyword only. Objective.

Examples: 1917 (2019) |Saving Private Ryan (1998) | Platoon (1986)

Western Should contain numerous scenes and/or a narrative where the portrayal is similar to that of frontier life in the American West during 1600s to contemporary times. Objective.

Examples: Unforgiven (1992) |The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) | The Revenant (2015)

Genres for episodic series

Any genres which are associated with the main parent level for a series (e.g. The Simpsons main page) are automatically derived onto each individual episode (e.g. Treehouse of Horror episode page).

To reduce duplication of the existing data, we do not allow Genres to be added to individual episodes. Please only add Genres to the parent series page - Genres submitted to the TV series page should be relevant to, and describe the entire series.

Parent page Episode page
Example of The Simpsons parent page  Example of Simpsons episode

How to

Like most other types of information, Genres can be submitted to titles via the Edit page button at the bottom of the title page.

Step 1
Navigate to the title page.


Step 2

Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Edit page button


Step 3

Under the heading Plots & Quotes, you will see the option Genre.

Example of genre section

Adding new Genre

Step 4

On the drop-down to the right, click Add 1 Item.

Example of add 1 item section

Step 5

Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Continue.

Step 6

Add the Genre you'd like.

Example new genres

Step 7

Scroll down and click Check these updates.

Step 8

If everything's OK the submission will turn green, and you're ready to move on: 

Example of a good submission

Step 9

Click Submit this update at the bottom of the page and one of our editors will review this request for you.

Updating existing Genre

Step 4

On the drop-down to the right, click Correct/Delete.

Example of correcting genre

Step 5

Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Continue.

Step 6

Find the genre you would like to change and using the drop-down, select Correct.

Example of correcting genre

Step 7

Scroll down and click Check these updates.

Step 8

Amend the genre, and scroll down and click Check these updates.

Step 9

Address any errors or warnings that appear on the page and re-click Re-check these updates.

Step 10

Click Submit this update at the bottom of the page and one of our editors will review this request for you.

Tracking your contribution

You can track the status of your Genre submission and if it has not been approved, we'll tell you the reason why.

To learn more - check out our article about it.

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