Coming-of-age story

In genre studies, a coming-of-age story is a genre of literature, film, and video that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from youth to adulthood ("coming of age"). Coming-of-age stories tend to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, and are often set in the past. The subjects of coming-of-age stories are typically teenagers.[1] The Bildungsroman is a specific subgenre of coming-of-age story.

In literature

In film and television

In film, coming of age is a genre of teen films. Coming-of-age films focus on the psychological and moral growth or transition of a protagonist from youth to adulthood. Personal growth and change is an important characteristic of this genre, which relies on dialogue and emotional responses, rather than action. The story is often told in the form of a flashback.[1] Historically, coming-of-age films usually centred on young boys, although coming-of-age films focusing on girls have become more common in the early 21st century.[5]

Films in this subgenre include Bambi (1942), The Apu Trilogy (1955–59), Les 400 Coups (1959), Oliver! (1968), American Graffiti (1973), Breaking Away (1979), Over the Edge (1979), The Last American Virgin (1982), The Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983), Fandango (1985), Mischief (1985), The Breakfast Club (1985), Stand by Me (1986), Empire of the Sun (1987), Stealing Home (1988), Mermaids (1990), Flirting (1991), Dazed and Confused (1993), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Y Tu Mamá También (2001), Spirited Away (2001), the Harry Potter series (2001–11), The Motorcycle Diaries (2003), Lakshya (2004), Juno (2007), The Reader (2008), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Spectacular Now, Fukrey (2012), (2013), The Kings of Summer (2013), Boyhood (2014), which was filmed with the same cast over a period of twelve years, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015), Sleeping Giant (2015), Moonlight (2016), The Edge of Seventeen (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), It (2017), Call Me by Your Name (2017), Lady Bird (2017), Love, Simon (2018), Eighth Grade (2018), To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Bumblebee (2018), Mid90s (2018), and Booksmart (2019), 20th Century Boys (2008).

Films featuring protagonists in particular age groups, such as pre-teens, are My Girl (1991), The Sandlot (1993), and Now and Then (1995) or high school graduates and college students, in films such as With Honors (1994), Can't Hardly Wait (1998), American Pie (1999), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Superbad (2007), An Education (2009) and 3 Idiots (2009).

Coming-of-age television series include Happy Days (1974–84),[6] the Degrassi franchise (1979–2017), The Wonder Years (1988–93),[6] Boy Meets World (1993–2000), Daria (1997–2001), Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000), Skins (2007–13), Glee (2009–15), Teen Wolf (2011–17), Adventure Time (2010-2018) Steven Universe (2013–present), Over the Garden Wall (2014), Girl Meets World (2014–17), Skam (2015–17), Stranger Things (2016–present), 13 Reasons Why (2017–present), One Day at a Time (2017–present), On My Block (2018–present), SKAM Austin (2018–present), and Sex Education (2019–present), Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (2011).

In video games

While not represented as often as in other mediums, coming-of-age stories can also be found in video games such as the Life Is Strange and Persona series.


  1. Benyahia, Sarah Casey; Gaffney, Freddie; White, John (2006). As Film Studies: The Essential Introduction. Essentials Series. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-39311-6. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  2. Joy Palmer, Liora Bresler, David Edward Cooper (2001). Fifty major thinkers on education: from Confucius to Dewey. Routledge. p. 34. ISBN 0-415-23126-4.
  3. McWilliams, Ellen (2009). Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7546-6027-9. The two early English Bildungsromane already mentioned, Tom Jones and The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, are examples of coming-of-age narratives that predate the generic expectations of the German tradition.
  4. Knausgård, Karl. "On Reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  5. Kate Erbland, "7 Female-Centric Coming-of-Age Movies to Watch If You Loved ‘Lady Bird’". IndieWire, December 5, 2017.
  6. Fox, Levi (2002). "The Historical Coming of Age Genre". Were Those the Days? Historical Coming of Age Films in American Culture. American Studies, University of Virginia. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
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