Codes & Conventions for Different Genres

A genre code and convention is a typical feature that helps the audience to identify what genre a particular film belongs to. This is a list showing codes and conventions that are typically seen in these film genres. The list also contains some examples of films just so that you can be able to identify these conventions mentally.

The layout of each bullet point list consists of these headings:

  1. Typical Film Locations
  2. Typical Film Characters
  3. Typical Film Plot
  4. Typical Themes/Plot Influences
  5. Examples
The film genres which I will be clarifying the codes and conventions for are:
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Disney
  • Sci-Fi
  • Horror
  • Adventure
  • Fantasy
Notting Hill (1999) is an example of a
rom-com where the plot is based on a
difference in character status.

  • Beach, cafĂ©, hotel, famous landmarks (particularly cities in U.S.A and Europe, e.g.; Paris, Rome, New York, etc), church
  • A man and a woman (usually young but sometimes old too), the lead characters' families
  • The man and the woman somehow meet but instantly hate each other, some kind of coincidence or situation throws them together, they eventually fall in love
  • Meeting by chance, Christmas, illness, curses, distance - being apart from one another, weddings, work, difference in character status and conflict because of this (e.g.; power, social class, ethnicity)
  • Love Actually, About A Boy, Notting Hill, The Proposal, The Notebook


  • Woods, castle, village, cave, ball/gathering, natural landscape, abandoned places
  • A princess, her rescuer (masculine characteristics), talking creatures, evil villain, rescuer/princess' companion (usually a creature but can be human), army
  • Princess gets into trouble, the rescuer meets her and they fall in love, the villain recaptures the princess, a dramatic climax until villain's death, 'happily ever after'
  • Songs/very musical, death, love, friendship, usually a moral is involved for audience to take away, loss, tragedy, curses, faith, hope, adventures/voyages
  • Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Princess & The Frog, Pocahontas, Mulan

  • City, space, different planets, space ship, desert, woods
  • Alien/unusual creature, explorer, majority of cast is male except a female (usually very attractive), evil commander (creature/human)
  • Explorer and crew discover unusual creature, creature invades main location/Earth, situation becomes apocalyptic, most of the cast is killed off during attempts to remove creature, creature is removed, outlook of location after removal - good and bad
  • Love and relationships, discovering new life, political, environmental disasters, paranormal, exploring possible life, death, illness and disease, apocalypse and post-apocalypse outlooks, mass destruction
  • Cloverfield, District 9, Alien, Predator, Terminator
  • Abandoned place (in the middle of nowhere), woods, isolated house or cabin, old hospital/asylum, church, cellar
  • A group of teenagers/young people, twisted psychopath wanting to kill others (usually a man), male and female cast (females usually attractive, much emphasis on figure), cannibal-like creatures, cult groups,
  • Starts in party/gathering/on holiday, bad event occurs involving attack or death of someone, people get hurt, cast gradually killed off when audience tries to figure out the cause of their death, escalates into extreme situation/climax, one or two remaining characters kill enemy,
  • Gore, torture, possessions, demons, sex/sexuality, weapons (melee and firearms), loss of innocence, psychological trauma, effects of childhood, religion, inflicting pain for self-pleasure, documentary footage, true life/'non-fiction', historical, discovering new creatures, illness and disease
  • Saw, Hostel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Grudge, The Exorcist

  • Castle, tomb, plenty of locations in one film, exotic places, dungeon, city, desert
  • Male explorer, female assistant, comedy character, person who wants to stop them, army/group that follow antagonist's orders, professor/highly intelligent individual
  • Explorer is sent away to search for treasure, obstacles in way (natural as well as man-made traps), a love interest develops between explorer and assistant, a character gets lost/abducted, antagonist bribes release of person for treasure, explorer rescues character and somehow stops antagonist (through death or arrest)
  • Love, greed, money, friendship, trust, refusing to give up, materialism vs people, morals
  • National Treasure, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, The Mummy

  • Fictional world, castle, palace, woods, sea, tomb/dungeon, 'underworld'
  • Child protagonist, talking creatures, animal companion, mainly child cast, adult guardian, evil villain, villain's companion/army
  • Protagonist enters fantasy world, set a challenge/search for mystical object, meets companion villain tries to stop protagonist, few obstacles in way (natural and man-made traps) sends army, protagonist defeats army, protagonist returns object to owner, 'happily ever after'
  • Friendship, morals, strength - never giving up, caught between fantasy and reality, growing up/coming of age, magic, love, cures
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, Black Cauldron, The Labyrinth, Epic, Percy Jackson franchise

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