We dare you to put a genre on this
"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky."
Most creative work fits nicely into a series of classifications. We can quickly tell the difference between a sitcom and a sonnet, and we know what to expect in each one. Even if a work defies our specific expectations about tropes, it usually conforms to more general expectations about the genre. A sci-fi show can be new and different and innovative, but it can at the same time very clearly be science fiction,
with a whole range of tropes assumed in that category. That's where this trope comes in.
Every so often, something comes along that just does not fit
into our usual map of genres. Most of the time, these kinds of pieces get thrown out, so no one remembers them. If they're good they go on to found new genres. This means that Genre Busters are often Trope Makers
for a whole range of tropes.
Of course, even genre busters are not entirely original
but they are original enough—and powerful enough—that they appear to transcend genre. Categories like the broad Speculative Fiction
and the hybrid Science Fantasy
exist so that works can be filed somewhere
, but these often fail to capture the feel of a genre buster.
Compare From Clones to Genre
(playing around with a genre) and X Meets Y
(creating new genre out of two old ones). 90% of the time, you will find Mind Screw
within them, with the other 10% just weird
. Compare and contrast Genre-Killer
. For a character see Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot
. Contrast Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
, where a work fits into many genres rather than none.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Strangers in Paradise is a Slice of Life story, mixed lesbian romantic comedy, crime drama, and on occasion a Xena parody.
- Ronin is a mixture of fantasy, Cyber Punk, post apocalyptic action comic with a dose of Time Travel for good measure..
- Grimjack by John Ostrander covers a whole lot of genres. Its protagonist is a cross between Sam Spade and Conan the Barbarian who lives in a city at the center of the multiverse populated by, among other things, humans, robots, talking animals, ghosts, and vampires. Magic works in some parts of the city, technology in others, some places have both and others neither. Ostrander said he was inspired by Dr.Who's ability tell any kind of story it wanted, which is true of Grimjack without it being very much like Dr. Who at all
- Wild Cats Version 3.0. While it is technically a super-hero comic, there aren't many super-heroics, and the titular team isn't even assembled until the last story arc. It is also very philosophical, topics ranging from questioning if a corporation can be truly good, to how far people will go to maintain the status quo, or adapt to new situations.
- Usagi Yojimbo. At first blush, it's a pretty standard samurai story. Albeit one starring an anthropomorphic bunny. Then the ghosts and ghouls start showing up, then it veers into a pure detective story, then slice-of-life, almost Edutainment, in/about Shogunate Japan, and even tragedy raw enough to draw tears. It's an interesting series.
- Elvis Shrugged: In-Universe: While apprenticing under Cole Porter, Elvis develops a new style of music, which he calls "Elvisia".
- Col. Tom Parker sets up for New Year's Eve a performance of a new musical titled Madame SuperFly
- Casablanca: It's equal parts romance, Film Noir, spy thriller, musical and war drama, though the romance portion tends to be remembered the most.
- Sucker Punch is a Mind Screw that's All Just a Dream except you're not sure just whose dream it is with an Imagine Spot inside an Imagine Spot mixing together over the top action sequences reminiscent of every anime and video game you've ever seen, the fifties, and Bedlam House escape drama. It defies genre.
- Once Upon a Time in China starring Jet Li showed the world that Kung Fu cinema is a genre that is more than capable of being artistically poetic, emotionally deep and politically relevant as any European art film.
- Being John Malkovich. A comedy drama laden with surrealism which functions as a borderline philosophy course.
- Eraserhead is an avant-garde, vaguely dystopian film that takes a man's anxiety about having children to surreal, horrific levels. Is Nightmare Fuel a genre?
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: A science fiction romance movie, most of which takes place inside the main character's head.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera: A Gothic Cyber Punk Musical with a little Gorn thrown in for good measure.
- The Brood, though unabashedly a horror movie, combines aspects of both the 1800s Gothic Novel and the 1970s slasher.
- Scanners is a sci-fi / horror / noir / psych thriller.
- The Matrix is a Martial Arts Movie neatly fused with grandiose Sci-Fi Post-Apocalytpic Cyber Punk making big-time Shout Outs to various philosophical and religious references.
- The Fly starts out as a quirky romantic comedy with some sci-fi aspects, before plunging right into horror/tragedy.
- Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. A philosophical post-modernist character study about a black man living in a modern day inner city who lives by the code of the samurai, while working as an assassin for a mobster that saved his life years ago. Along the way it explores issues surrounding violence, the extinction of old cultures, the ability or inability of people to adapt to a changing world, and more.
- A Brazilian review of Snatch stated it was hard to qualify. "Action? Not sure, but has some electrifying scenes. Comedy? If it's not, only God can explain all the laughter in my theater. Drama? Maybe, the comic side switches into scenes that could easily enter a yellow press tabloid."
- Inception turns a Journey to the Center of the Mind into an inverted heist film.
- Vanilla Sky combined romantic drama with a psychological thriller with a sci-fi reveal.
- The first Back to the Future movie features elements of a Coming of Age Teen Comedy mixed partly with a Period Piece and Family Film all in one epic, time-traveling, sci-fi adventure.
- Toys. Strong on comedy but with much drama, sometimes family-friendly and sometimes not, having a lot of futuristic technology and a lot of action scenes that are confined purely to the third act.
- My Dinner With Andre consists entirely of one conversation between two actors' self-named characters. Drama? Art house? Documentary? None of the above, really.
- Griff The Invisible is a superhero movie/romantic dramedy/fantasy. The premise sounds like the next Kick-Ass, but the superhero parts are brief and only there as a part of Griff's characterization. It's actually about Griff as a person, and his relationship with a girl who's trying to walk through walls.
- Midnight in Paris manages to combine fantasy, comedy, romance, drama and science fiction into one package that only Woody Allen could concoct.
- Fight Club is a social commentary/philosophical drama/black comedy/surreal-psychological mystery-thriller/crime action film in which the real fighting is only used as way to highlight the message of the film. It has to be seen at least two times to be fully enjoyed.
- Black Death is a horror-action-period piece drama.
- Kontroll is a Hungarian comedy/thriller/drama based around a ticket inspector in the Metro system.
- WALL•E is comedy, drama, romance, sci-fi, and even silent film during the first half.
- Finding Nemo is a road movie/coming of age/thriller/animal comedy/prison escape/surf movie.
- Monsters, Inc. is a monster movie/kid flick/invasion movie/sci-fi/family drama/comedy.
- Toy Story is a philosophical comedy/drama/thriller/adventure/prison escape.
- Up is a comedy/drama/tragedy/jungle adventure/WW2-style pulp adventure/talking dogs/extremely difficult to categorize but highly enjoyable movie.
- The Incredibles is an action/adventure/sci-fi/fantasy family dramedy satire with explosions.
- A Bug's Life is an adventure/road movie/comedy/drama/thriller as well as a Seven Samurai adaptation.
- Brave is a supernatural fantasy/family drama/action-adventure/horror with less outright comedy than Pixar's previous works without being too dark.
- Tiger Love: You have a Romeo and Juliet kind of love story with Star-Crossed Lovers in it, you have a Tarzan kind of plot line in it, you have a Revenge story combined with horror in which a tiger shapeshifts into a creepy old woman with claws, fangs, and bathed in eerie green light, and martial arts put into it. Good luck trying to classify this film into a genre!
- Nudist Colony of the Dead: a horror/sex comedy/musical.
- It's no wonder Donnie Darko has become such a cult classic. It's a drama/supernatural mystery/preapocalyptic almost-sci-fi/black comedy/almost-teen-romance-coming-of-age-80s-period-piece.
- Literary Fiction is expected to not fit into a particular genre, which is part of the reason so many of its practitioners and critics see it as an inherently "higher" mode of literature. In the last couple of decades, however, a good number of genre writers have gained mainstream acceptance and started adopting some of the motifs of LitFic, among other genres, and LitFic itself has seen a staggering number of new authors, causing an overall dip in the writing quality of LitFic. The end result of all of this is that LitFic is losing a lot of its status as a Sacred Cow, and the idea of LitFic as a "higher" genre or a "non-generic" genre is getting to be a very contested opinion, with various writers both inside and outside of the genre (M. John Harrison, Michael Chabon, J. Robert Lennon, and others) insisting that Literary Fiction is no less generic than any of the supposed "lower" genres.
- William Gibson's Neuromancer combines elements of film noir, mystery, pulp science fiction and an emphasis on technology to create what is now known as Cyber Punk . It is now seen as the Trope Maker of the genre, and depending on who you ask, the Trope Codifier as well.
- Riddley Walker is an After the End Science Fiction done in the style of a Middle Ages mind screwy historical novel.
- William Blake's self-illustrated book of poems, Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
- American Gods won the Nebula and Hugo Awards for Best Sci-fi book of the year, the Locus Award for best fantasy book of the year, and the Bram Stoker Award for best horror book of the year. It's also a meditation on the "meaning" of America, and reflection on the different immigrant stories.
- Stephen King's The Dark Tower book series isn't your typical King material, and it definitely isn't a typical Western story. Hell, in the context of storytelling, it arguably isn't really a typical anything. It's fairly well described by Torg's description of his own "greatest comic book of all time" in Sluggy Freelance — "a cowboy-western-psychological-horror-action-romance-thriller" — except that you should really add "fantasy" to that mix.
- It's easy to forget that while Paradise Lost followed the epic form, it broke with a lot of epic conventions; most notably by casting the villain in the apparent role of epic hero for the first act. It was supposed to be in the style of medieval epics. Since it was written in the 17th century, Milton was being "retro."
- James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake CANNOT be put into genre because IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. Any sense you do manage will only compound the genre-busting. There are very few individual words in Finnegans Wake that don't have multiple meanings...
- Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! is a comedic conspiracy novel that also includes erotic fiction, horror, epic fantasy, and espionage. Wilson's later novels in the same setting add science fiction, historical fiction and a variety of literary pastiches.
- Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem is a sci-fi police procedural that eschews most of the stereotypical elements of sci-fi, like aliens and computers. In fact, it probably is far closer to a pastiche of thirties noir with the silly elements (talking animals, super-intelligent alcoholic infants, free drugs for everyone, etc) justified after the fact. It could be telling that the author is also the editor for the Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler anthologies.
- Thursday Next lives' off of Metafiction, so the fact that it's a fantasy/sci-fi/mystery/comedy/drama involving everything from Time Travel to cheese smuggling as major plot points eventually just starts to be classified as "I give up."
- Jennifer Fallon's Second Sons is almost brilliant about this. From one perspective, there's little reason why it couldn't just be called Historical Fiction— it has no magic, no aliens, no Applied Phlebotinum, and generally nothing outright impossible, and while it definitely Never Was This Universe, that doesn't necessarily disqualify it from fitting the genre. However, it's marketed as fantasy, because it really Never Was This Universe rather than being just our universe with different names, and because the depicted world has two suns in its sky. (For the record, the author calls it medieval science fiction.)
- Complete World Knowledge combines the almanac with the absurdist comedy.
- House of Leaves is a horror/fantasy/parody/romance story, and while that statement is accurate, it's only scratching the surface of the novel's strangeness and unconventionality.
"I had one woman come up to me in a bookstore and say, 'You know, everyone told me it was a horror book, but when I finished it, I realized that it was a love story.' And she's absolutely right. In some ways, genre is a marketing tool."
- Battle Royale is notoriously hard to classify. Some consider it horror due to the terrifying premise, but that classification always causes "traditional" horror fans to baulk because it isn't traditional. Action-adventure? That's perhaps the best when combined with horror, but given the deep, requires-substantial-thought satire and themes "action" seems misleading. When you go to buy a copy you could end up in the Sci-fi section, the horror section...If that's not confusing enough, many people also characterize the film as a VERY dark comedy.
- Gravitys Rainbow includes elements of historical fiction, spy fiction, sci-fi, war, comedy, pornography, conspiracy theories, and a general atmosphere of Mind Screw.
- Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series combines Urban Fantasy with science fiction and serves it up with a heavy dose of crime drama. A plotline involving fairies using nanotechnology to take down the Russian Mafia is typical for the series.
- Similarly, Colfer's book Airman is a mixture of a Swash Buckler, Romance, Steam Punk, Retro Sci-Fi, Adventure, Western, Espionage and Great Escape.
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold doesn't seem to fall under any particular genre.
- Pretty much anything by Christopher Moore is difficult to classify. Most just say his works are Comedy and leave it at that, but that description barely scratches the surface.
- Gunfighter's Ride is a pony express rider delivering the mail, dealing with demons, ghosts, and a genocidal medicine man.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld is a fantasy series, mixed with parody, mixed with humor, mixed with deep examinations into the human psyche, mixed with occasional detective story elements, mixed with war drama, mixed with Police Procedural tropes. Might be just shorter to say it is simply awesome.
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was described by author Douglas Adams as a "detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic". Mind you, of these labels, only four are really accurate — detective, ghost, whodunnit and time travel — and two of those are synonyms.
- Dhalgren is written very much like psychological Sci-Fi (one of the characters lampshades this at one point), but it ends up being very hard to classify.
- Earth's Children is a portrayal of life during the Ice Age, but this includes elements of Romance Novel, Historical Fiction, historical fantasy, erotica, travelogue and Shown Their Work mixed with a lot of Artistic License.
- Isaac Asimov wrote Sci-fi robot detective stories.
- Rudyard Kipling's Kim is a spy story, a gigantic Slice of Life, and a Coming of Age story.
- Anyone who calls Great Expectations a romance is greatly oversimplifying matters. It has romance, drama, comedy, suspense, a bit of action, a bit of adventure, it's a rags to riches story and a coming of age story, a possible satire of this and that or even Self-Parody, and it has strong elements of mystery and horror. Figure that out!
- Slaughterhouse-Five is a pretty genre-busting work, which also seems to go out of its way to demolish tropes.
- The Destroyer series of books were published as Men's Adventure books. However, there are strong elements of Satire and Black Comedy. The main characters practice Supernatural Martial Arts and the opponents ranged from The Mafia, terrorists, and communist spies (typical of the genre) to androids and vampires.
- Stephen Crane is hard to recognize as a genre-busting writer, inasmuch as all the genres he busts no longer exist, but there's a lot of argument among literary critics over what style to fit him under. (To grossly simplify, there were writers who wrote as objectively as possible, writers who wrote subjectively, and Crane, who portrayed characters with subjective viewpoints from as objective a viewpoint as possible.)
- According to The Other Wiki: "A Clockwork Orange is most frequently described as political satire, dystopian science-fiction, black comedy, and crime drama, although its crossover appeal to the horror fan community is unmistakable."
- The Princess Bride is a humorous fantasy action adventure — with a Framing Device that makes it into a parody of old satire (yes, a parody of satire) and also incorporates fictional autobiography for some reason. The book's title and those of its chapters are also deliberately misleading to suggest some kind of bland-sounding fairytale romance.
- John DeChancie's Castle Perilous series is essentially fantasy, being based in a magical castle, but what makes the castle special (well, one of the things) is that it contains portals to 144,000 different worlds. This allows for dumping the characters in any genre of story the author feels like writing.
- The Dresden Files can very easily be put on the "Urban Fantasy" shelf of the bookstore, but certain elements of the story and the lead character have enough "cowboy" characteristics that it had a strong element of fantasy western (even though it takes place in Chicago.) The author himself says that, at its heart, it's like a comic book, and the general World of Snark writing style also gives it a strong comedic element as well.
- In The Exile's Violin: We have a detective-intrigue story mixed with an action adventure story and a heroic fantasy story in a Victorian Steampunk setting that spends most of its dialogue on Snark to Snark Romance.
- Will of Heaven is usually classified as a work of Science Fiction, but the cast is almost exclusively composed of historical and/or legendary figures, the occasional Wuxia trope turns up, and the eponymous will of heaven may not have a scientific explanation.
- The Lies of Locke Lamora is a heist novel...in a fantasy setting.
- Nerve Zero is a find-the-girl noir story, set on a far-future, zero gravity space station populated by weird versions of humanity.
- The stories in the League Of Magi are predominantly thrillers, with elements of detective, spy, and conspiracy genres thrown in. The world itself is decidedly urban fantasy (with some horror seasoning).
- Mr Blank and its sequel are almost genre Mad Libs. Comic noir, with conspiracies, monsters, aliens, and just a smidge of urban fantasy.
- City of Devils is a classic noir riff: world-weary detective in a world that hates him. He's also the last human detective because almost everyone else in the world is some kind of monster.
- Undead on Arrival is a "zombie noir" story. Taking a title that's a reference to the classic D.O.A., and then putting it in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
- Dream Park and its first two sequels feature a fantasy-adventure Show Within a Show storyline embedded in a tale of industrial espionage that's straight out of cyberpunk, all taking place in a high-tech future. The fourth book tosses steampunk motifs into the Game component, and swaps espionage for Die Hard-style action movie.
- Obsidian And Blood is a historical urban fantasy locked room mystery.
Live Action TV
- They have Emmy categories for this now, listed under "Outstanding Special Class" and "Outstanding New Approaches".
- LOST, while also being a Trope Codifier for the Noughties Drama Series, started off with what can best be described as a clean slate since the plot was so heavily shrouded in mystery. This allowed the writers to construct a story that would include tropes from... well... Pretty much everything.
- The general rule, at least in the early seasons, was that the island stories were Ontological Mystery or supernatural stories, while the flashbacks were romantic or character driven, either or being able to be replaced with a comedy plot for Breather Episodes. This changed post-season-three-finale.
- Even during season 3, it was already starting to change. The focus was taken off the seemingly-supernatural mysteries and placed on the more earthly stuggle against the apparently very-human Others. It's just that the bigger genre switching takes place in season 4 and 5 with time travel and visions of the future. Though 5 also has some strange genre of it's own going on, what with it focusing on the Dharma Initiative. Then the final season has the fantasy/mythical/supernatural kitchen sink with human gods, earth mana, supernatural powers, and theological themes.
- Joss Whedon seems to enjoy this trope as evidenced by his past creations: a Drama/Comedy about Teenaged Monster Hunters and a Space Western!
- Space Western is a fairly common subgenre of science fiction, though. Though, usually not so western.
- The Buffyverse also has advanced technology, even if it is only a occasional problem, like that demon robot, or the demon cyborg or that robot that the devil made.
- He did this on purpose with Dollhouse. Ostensibly a sci-fi show, but dipping into pretty much every genre out there including romantic comedy.
- The Wire: A crime show, a political drama, a black comedy, and in its late seasons, a grim coming-of-age tale and an exposé of the news media.
- Bones is a forensics procedural romantic dramedy.
- NCIS is similar, but with little romance and more comedy. It's also very unusual for a procedural because of how heavily character-focussed it is even as it doesn't take itself terribly seriously and the actual personal arcs the characters get are limited. It's primarily about how their personalities affect their job and vice versa rather than how the cases are solved. The plots making sense can arguably be considered secondary.
- Doctor Who can quite literally be whatever genre it wants to be when it wakes up in the morning. In series 4 alone it's been comedic romp, family drama, military drama, historical fiction, Genteel Interbellum Setting murder mystery, steampunk, disaster film and horror, all mixed with sci-fi and fantasy fairy-tale elements.
- And sometimes not mixed with sci-fi, back in the era of pure historical stories (at least, if you exclude the obvious Time Travel element).
- And Series 5 throws in a Sitcom episode.
- Even when they were promoting the first half of Series 7, they basically described the whole thing as five individual movies. In order, you had an Action-Adventure ("Asylum of the Daleks,") Sci-fi ("Dinosaurs On A Spaceship,") a Spaghetti Western ("A Town Called Mercy,") a Disaster Film ("The Power Of Three,") and a psychological thriller with traces of a detective-noir mystery ("The Angels Take Manhattan.")
- Quantum Leap is basically the trope basically being about a guy who's continually moving through any kind of story the writers feel like.
- While Star Trek is undoubtably science fiction (it could be said to be the Science Fiction), it has, like Doctor Who, also been able to mix in many, many other genres on a episode-by-episode basis. Several episodes (especially in The Original Series) are only science fiction because of the occasional tricorder or phaser.
- And of course, Gene Roddenberry pitched it as Horatio Hornblower in space. This influence was picked up more heavily by Nicholas Meyer for the second movie which set the tone for the rest of the series.
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. was a science fiction/western with a lead who was best known for horror/comedies.
- The X-Files took archetypes and conspiracies from espionage shows and crime dramas, inserted them into plots about scifi and supernatural phenomena, and filmed it in horror/suspense style.
- Pushing Daisies classified itself as a 'forensic fairy tale,' with elements of fantasy, procedural mystery, romantic comedy, and, well, what genre WASN'T it?
- Babylon 5 is spy story combined with Space Opera combined with Lovecraftian tropes combined High Fantasy.
- Prison Break is obviously about escaping prison but is also about a intricated conspiration and after they escape the second season is about the future of those who escaped.
- Castle, like Bones above, is a Police Procedural romantic dramedy. They also like staging episodes around particular subcultures and bringing in various tropes of particular other genres as well; there's been a vampire episode, an alien abduction episode, a few political-spy thrillers, and so forth.
- Community is definitely a sitcom. With every other genre mixed in with it.
- Supernatural is a fantasy/horror/drama/dark comedy with the classic Monster of the Week episodes playing like combination police procedurals and pulp mystery novels, the overarching plot straight out of epic poetry (particularly the Bible), and much of the character development for one of the main duo in the later seasons coming from a platonic love story.
- Chuck combined spy thriller, sci-fi, family/workplace drama, romantic comedy, sitcom, mystery, and even musical (courtesy of Jeffster!). Really, was there any genre it didn't try out at least once?
- Breaking Bad is simultaneously a crime saga, a family drama, a Black Comedy, a psychological thriller and a modern-day Western, all featuring a realistic Science Hero (well, Science Anti-Hero) in the lead, in one of the few examples of the trope that you'll find outside of a science-fiction work.
- Warehouse13 is an X-Files-esque procedural which combines fantasy, science fiction, and occasional horror with Steampunk elements, all mixed together with a heaping dose of comedy
- Fringe similarly is an X-Files-esque procedural which mixes Government Conspiracy stories with a wide variety of science fiction plots, including Mad Science, alternate universes, aliens (well, actually hyper-evolved humans from the future but they're treated essentially like aliens), shape-shifting robots, and time travel, often with heavy dollops of action. About one episode a season also ended up being something completely different: these include a fairy tale, an animated episode, and an Alien Invasion episode which jumps 20 years into the future where the Observers are ruling the planet which turned out to be a preview for the plot of the next season
- There's an entire genre where every notable show and game has done this: Mons. The Trope Codifier and Trope Namer shows, Pokémon and Digimon, are so fundamentally different that every trope in the genre has been subverted in one incarnation of either series.
- Mons are analogous to animals: They are manmade in Digimon, and we have seen real animals in that series.
- Your job is to collect mons: Not in Digimon. Okay, Maybe in some of the games, but none of the animes has that.
- Humans and mons live alongside each other: Digimon only has this at the end of the second season. In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, humans are a myth.
- Much happens in urban settlements: Certainly not in Digimon Frontier.
- The humans use the mons in battle: In Digimon Frontier and Pokémon RéBURST, humans become mons.
- The entire idea of Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly overlaps with this trope.
- The Damned: Late 70s British Punk band turned Progressive Rock/ProtoGothic (before it was even known as "gothic") in the early to mid-80s, with use of early electronic instruments. Cites influence from many different genres, and has a singer who dresses like a vampire and sings like a pub crooner.
- Queen: Both individual songs and their discography as a whole.
- Blondie: Starting off in the Punk Rock and Garage Rock movement but their discography gradually covered pop, hard rock, new wave disco, rap reggae, calypso, motown and electronica. Most critics either call them a punk band with pop tendencies or a pop band with punk tendencies, but the band would admit that they don't belong to any classification. They not only brought a lot of variety to pop music, but they also challenged punk's ethos of being anti-disco and helped to create new wave in the process.
- The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Especially evident in the video for "Dani California", where they took the time to point out several.
- The Residents are, um, avant-garde classical punk psychedelic synth-pop... usually.
- Bands like Mr. Bungle, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Estradasphere, Iwrestledabearonce and uneXpect take Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly so far that they can only be vaguely classified as experimental metal.
- Rip Rig & Panic (featuring a young Neneh Cherry on vocals) were a post-punk, jazz, rock, funk, soul, dance-pop, rock, classical... you name it... band. Their collaborators include everybody from Don Cherry (Neneh's father) to Ari Up of The Slits, to Nico.
- They Might Be Giants: The only way to place them within a genre is to a slap a big fat "Alternative" sticker on every song they write. The best example is the album "Mink Car", which basically has a song from every single genre of music they could think of. The best example within a single song is Fingertips from the album Apollo 18 which basically consists of a few bars each of no fewer than 21 other songs, across a variety of styles, speeds and genres.
- Slint uses creepy, winding riffs, often in odd time signatures, with talking and screaming over them. Have a listen for yourself.
- Happens all the time in electronic music. Sometimes, producers use different artist names/stage names for their different genres/niches.
- Pendulum, in particular, is one notable example. Two parts band members and one part DJ, they formed together to produce mostly aggressive drum & bass music. Over time, their sound became more commercial and developed into a rock-electronic fusion group with live performances.
- Japan has spawned not one, not two, but a ton of outright weird musical acts:
- The entire Visual Kei movement. Heavy Metal meets Goth meets Neoclassical Punk Zydecorockabilly taken Up to Eleven meets Bishōnen meets Elegant Gothic Lolita meets Badass clothing meets Japan. There's no easier way to describe it.
- Post-Visual Kei metallers Dir En Grey are particularly notable for this. They used to be an alternative metal band, nothing too out of the ordinary for a Japanese band. Except for the fact that they were a lot noisier than most bands during their time. Slowly they began to experiment with Metalcore, Nu Metal, Death Metal, folk music, psychedelic, Shoegazing, doom metal, funeral dirge music, symphonic, mathcore and outright weirdness (not that they weren't already a bit odd since the very start), resulting in each album getting progressively weirder and crazier.
- Lampshaded: The band officially recognizes itself as "uncategorized", even stating in their official website that "it is unnecessary to even classify them in any way". Creates a lot of Mind Screw for critics.
- Other bands have independently achieved the same level of weirdness (such as Sigh, see below), but very few have achieved considerable success (they are often labeled as one of the most successful cult bands in the modern metal scene). This is the band that took Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly way too far and eventually set standards for Crazy Awesome music in the Japanese rock/metal scene.
- UROBOROS isn't considered by fans as their Magnum Opus for nothing, as the album features considerably more weirdness than any release before it. Their latest album, Dum Spiro Spero continues the trend, and has gotten compared to Mr. Bungle, Opeth, Meshuggah, SikTh and Slipknot all at the same time.
- Japanese metal band Sigh have become famous for this as well. They began as fairly straightforward Black Metal and got progressively weirder, peaking with their album Imaginary Sonicscapes, which was equal parts Psychedelic Rock, Jazz, Orchestra, Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal. All of their albums since have been just as weird, thanks to their liberal use of Genre Roulette.
- High and Mighty Color was also this. Though often classified as alternative metal, they also played straightforward J-pop, hard rock, post-hardcore, punk rock, metalcore, nu metal, and a whole salad of other genres. The Japanese rock scene has yet to give birth to a band that can be considered a successor.
- J-pop/rock band Dazzle Vision is possibly the most likely to be the said successor. Equal parts J-pop, metalcore, nu metal, electronic and hard rock. Still, they aren't even close to sounding like a proper successor.
- Blood Stain Child used to be a straightforward Melodic Death Metal band. From Idolator onwards, they've introduced elements of Nu Metal and trance music. Later albums added Industrial Metal, eurobeat, J-pop and catchy, cute, dance-worthy weirdness. The formula works very well.
- Maximum The Hormone is also notable for this. A self-proclaimed Nu Metal band that cites Korn as an influence. Not your typical Nu Metal band, though, since they're also a pop band, rock band, punk band, funk band...any band, except that they're not any of those. They put on and off genres as if they were clothes.
- X Japan is well-known for blending Hair Metal and pop ballads with straight-up Thrash Metal, something that totally caught metal purists off-guard in The Eighties, a time when metal bands focused on achieving a "pure" sound.
- Progressive metal band Mastodon sound pretty much like every single band you've listened to, whether it be hard rock, prog, heavy metal, southern rock, experimental, psychedelic, southern rock, alternative, maybe even a little country here and there, and loads of other genres too plentiful to list here, all somehow put together. And it's awesome.
- Case in point: The song "Megalodon". Opening with a strange jazzy section, then metal, then a country lick out of nowhere, and then different metal. In the first minute and a half of a four minute long song.
- Crotchduster: Unclassifiable death metal band that incorporates over one hundred different genres of music in one album
- Goth-rock legends Bauhaus certainly were the Ur Example of the genre, but there's no single way to quite describe their sound... Their original single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead", so utterly defied description that "[You'd] find it in one music store under punk, and in another under reggae, and in others as jazz, pop/rock, psychedelic, and pretty much anything else you can imagine," (paraphrasing David J, the band's bassist). The rest of their work was equally so confusing- you could hear reggae ("Exquisite Corpse"), funk ("Watch that Grandad Go"), disco ("Kick in the Eye 2"), glam (they covered David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust"), jazz ("Party in the First Part"), punk (Brian Eno's "Third Uncle"), prog ("Silent Hedges"), Joy Division style post-punk (John Cale's "Rosegarden Funeral of Sores"), and endless other things... and yet, at the same time, all of their songs definitely sounds like them and only them.
- Mindless Self Indulgence have made a career on their odd blend of synth-pop, hip-hop, industrial, and hardcore punk. They've decided to describe themselves as "industrial jungle pussy punk".
- Frank Zappa was doing this as early as 1966. His albums blend rock, doo-wop, jazz, modern classical, humor and satire, studio experimentation, and any number of other elements.
- Charles Mingus could be argued to be a genre buster. His music combined elements of beebop with dixieland, blues, free improvisation, and later on classical music. Check out his album "Let My Children Hear Music" to hear all of these elements work together.
- Behemoth's second full-length, Grom is utterly unclassifiable. Their prior Black Metal sound is still there, but now there's elements of their later Death Metal sound...as well as Folk, Ambient, Progressive Metal, acoustic, and straight-up guitar rock. There's a reason why it remains one of their most polarizing albums among fans.
- Destrophy blends several different styles each song, and it's still pretty difficult to categorize even if you break down every element they blend in.
- Scissor Shock. Full stop. If you don't know who they are, a simple Google search will lead you to it and subsequently turn your bowels and brain into mush.
- Pink Martini is a weird postmodern classical retro-kitsch international-lounge/Tropicália jazz outfit which they themselves have described as "music for children and dogs."
- Yuki Kajiura...just...Yuki Kajiura. Yoko Kanno too, but she's more easily placed in the general realm of alt-rock.
- BECK has done rap, jazz, pop, rock, hip-hop, blues, country, tropicalia, techno, experimental, indie, alternative, folk, anti-folk, dance, funk... Beck has really done a lot.
- Metallica started out as one of the inventors of Thrash Metal. They have since moved to a more Progressive Metal style (Black Album through St. Anger), with stops at Power Ballad ("The Unforgiven"), Irish Folk Music ("Whiskey in the Jar"), Blues ("Low Man's Lyric") and Orchestral Metal (the entire S&M album/concert). For a while, even they weren't sure what they were. As of Death Magnetic, they seem to be a Progressive Thrash Metal band.
- The Beatles: at first their songs were typical love songs, but overtime, they did power ballads, hard rock, blues, psychedelic rock (and oh how much!), folk rock, and, uh, whatever the hell this is.
- Buckethead. Avant-garde, noise rock, jazz fusion, funk, jazz, thrash metal, bluegrass, instrumental rock, hard rock, progressive metal, heavy metal, experimental rock, funk metal, ambient, dark ambient, alternative metal, electronica, country rock, folk rock, experimental... Yes, he plays all of that. And more. Oh yeah, he also incorporates robot dancing, nun-chakus and chicken into his stage performances. It's safer to say that Buckethead is simply Buckethead.
- Van Canto. You think you've explored all genres of metal and suddenly, A Capella Epic Power Metal outta freaking nowhere.
- The Script is an Irish alternative/soft rock band inspired by American "street" music.
- Cormorant started out as Melodic Death Metal, which is represented in their debut EP. Their next album, though, is a weird mix of Black Metal, Death Metal (in both the melodic and the more traditional style), Doom Metal, Prog Metal, Heavy Metal and Folk. Fans just started calling them "tiberian ass bastard folk".
- Wintersun. Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal, Folk Metal, Black Metal, Symphonic Metal, and Progressive Metal influences can all be heard in their debut. Frontman/Guitarist/Bassist/Keyboardist Jari Mäenpää has given up on trying to classify and and calls Wintersun "Extreme Majestic Technical Epic Melodic Metal".
- What to call Tangerine Dream? Progressive rock/New Age/World music/Electronic/Trance/God Only Knows? Further proof of how flawed these labels are to begin with.
- Enter Shikari mixes post-hardcore with various electronic genres and in certain songs, rap.
- Opeth is a Progressive Death Metal band with Jazz and Folk influences. Mikael Ĺkerfeldt has said that he just took elements from every genre he liked and sort of just mashed them together.
- Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine were originally a two-piece whose songs usually consisted of witty punk rock-style vocals and cranked-up rock'n'roll guitars, played over backing tracks that sounded like Stock Aitken Waterman done on the cheap. They eventually got a full band line-up and became a bit more conventional, then broke up because nobody was enjoying it any more.
- Devin Townsend's solo output generally falls under progressive metal, but albums like Terria go off at so many tangents that no one label could do them justice.
- Tool: People have tried to classify them as such things as alternative metal, progressive metal, hard rock, but they don't seem to fit into just one genre.
- Dream Theater: Are they progressive, alternate rock with metal elements, pop with metal elements, or downright metal? Not to mention all of the unique sounds in their songs...
- Oingo Boingo: Most pop music historians classify them as "new wave," but then there are other critics who claim that they invented pop-punk. And some of their songs are so solo-driven ("Dead Man's Party," anyone?) that they would fit comfortably on most hard rock or classic rock stations. Frontman Danny Elfman even said, when asked to sum up his band's ethos: "I wanted to piss everybody off!"
- Kaizers Orchestra. You could, if you had to, classify them as Rock, in it's most broad sense. More specifically, depending on the song, you'll find polka, Eastern European folk music, surf rock, gypsy rock, jazz, whatever the hell Maskineri is, and so forth. They've also been described as a "punk rock Tom Waits", and Tom Waits desribed them as "Norwegian storm-trooping tarantellas with savage rhythms and innovative textures". Whatever that means.
- TNT: Wikipedia classifies them as Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, AOR, and Hair Metal while some of their fans think their earlier albums have touches of Progressive Rock.
- Incubus. While their albums might be similar in terms of style, each album contains songs that are pretty different to any of the others on that album, more so on the earlier albums.
- Coheed and Cambria. Some people call them progressive metal. Some people call them alt-rock. Some call them pop-punk, post-hardcore, alt-metal, hard rock, prog-rock or even emo. In a way, all of them are right....
- Bone Thugs-n-Harmony: Gangsta Rap, speed rap & Hardcore Hip-Hop fused with barbershop doo-wop harmony.
- To a lesser extent, Disturbed. We know they're rock, that's for sure, but that's as close as anyone can tell. They're too melodic for Death Metal, too consistent to be Alternative Metal, and no mention of Nu Metal will EVER end well. Might have to do with the band explicitly saying "We just play what we want and let the execs figure out which rack to put it on."
- The Agonist get described variously as Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal, Death Core and Progressive Metal, with most emphasis on the first in their first album, and more emphasis on the last in their later works. Given their notably evolving sound throughout their various albums (and sometimes even within albums) they might qualify for Alternative Metal as well.
- Cognitive definitely feels like this. While unmistakeably death metal, they mix it with brutal death, technical death, mathcore, progressive metal, and deathcore in such a way that it's very, very difficult to find a more detailed genre description that fits.
- Master blender John Zorn, also fond of the Genre Roulette. Most of the time he blends free jazz, modern classical, metal, even grindcore and klezmer, among others.
- Matisyahu mixes rap and reggae with Jewish (particularly Hasidic) spirituality
- The Beach Boys/ Brian Wilson's legendary unfinished S Mi LE album can be described as a Psychedelic Doo-Wop/ Rock Barbershop Quartet recorded in distinct modules. But you should also add Americana to the mix. And several classical influences, from Bach to Stravinsky and Schoenberg. And some Varčse thrown in at good measure as pertaining to tape experiments. And Phil Spector's production methods (although more nuanced than his Wall of Sound) , folk, classical choir arrangements , circus music, impressionist music, jazz, musique concréte (and in the case of Vega-Tables, this is taken literally), the american-centered compositions of Gershwin, baroque pop, Yodelling and ragtime (along many more), all meant to achieve a "Teenage Symphony to God" that sounds like an ever-flowing painting by a Disney cartoon. One should also mention Smiley Smile, the substitute to the aforementioned album, after its infamous cancelation. Attempting to describe its minimalistic miasma of weirdness and near cynical self-deprecation is almost a disservice to it. Songs like Wind Chimes must be heard to be believed (in stereo is the recomended option).
- Susumu Hirasawa, music nerds continue to fail finding a genre for him. The closest they got was "technopop" but that doesn't explain where the Wagnerian pomp and marches come from.
- Liō is like nothing else in America. The closest it gets to "normal" is when it emulates Calvin and Hobbes, but it's just as likely to resemble a Victorian morality fable mixed with Surreal Horror.
- When Candorville began, it was more or less a clone of Doonesbury. As time passes, however, the Big Lipped Alligator Moments not only have gotten more frequent, but seem to have stopped being Big Lipped Alligator Moments and become canon. At the same time, in what seems to be an unrelated process, the previously unimportant character of Saxon Kenchu set up a comedic horror plot that has been declared to be his insanity, then declared actually true, then declared to be the main character's insanity, then indicated to be true after all, with no end in sight.
- George Frederic Handel: Both Semele and Hercules blend elements of Italian opera seria (e.g. scenes alternating recitative and aria) and English sacred oratorio (e.g. choral writing) and also have traits not common to either genre (both plots are based on Greek myths, a common source for French opera of the period). Audiences of the time were really confused, particularly about Semele (people called it 'bawdy opera' and 'bawd-atorio'). It didn't help that Handel tried to mount the premiere of quite a raunchy piece as part of the Lenten season...
- This what Richard Wagner set out to do (and most would say he succeeded). His concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk was a fusion of all the arts - visual, theatrical and musical.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: At the time, all operas were written in the Italian style (except the French, which were seldom performed outside France). There were two types of opera: Opera Seria (dramatic) and Opera Buffa (comedic). Mozart was one of the first composers to blur the lines between the two styles, incorporating hilarious comedy into dramas and compelling drama into comedies. He even took this a step further, inventing the concept of "German Opera" with The Magic Flute (and to a lesser extant, Die Entführung aus dem Serail).
- Even Don Giovanni, an Italian opera written in an essentially classic form and style, shatters conventional dramatic structures. There's no hero, the Anti-Hero Jerkass protagonist(?) dies, the alpha couple doesn't get married, and one of the few sympathetic characters is too weak-willed to do anything but be a menial serf to some other entitled creep. Neither tragedy nor comedy, it's just sorta there.
- Dungeons & Dragons was this when it came out, being the Ur Example of the Role-Playing Game, an entirely new type of game which had a massive impact on a broad swath of games afterwards. It introduced the concept of the Hit Point, putting a mechanical system underneath roleplaying, armor class, randomized loot, and dozens of other ideas which permeate many games - including an enormous percentage of video games - to this very day.
- Rifts is set in a universe that has gone through culture-changing advances in science, an apocalypse, a return of magic, an alien invasion, and a tearing of the space-time continuum that in the core book alone you can play as a genetically manipulated super-soldier, anthropomorphic dog, psychic warrior, cyborg, techno-wizard, dragon, or hobo, just to name a few.
- There is a classic story about the first two productions of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. The first production was very sad and melancholic, and the audience left the theater deeply moved. The second production? The audience was laughing so hard the walls shook. So which is it, comedy or tragedy? None can say (though Word of God claims comedy).
- Nathaniel Lee deliberately played with his audience's expectations in The Princess of Cleves, which he called a 'farce, comedy, tragedy, or mere play'.
- Romeo and Juliet was the first play to combine the idea of comedies and tragedies. In a typical comedy, there are young lovers who live Happily Ever After. In a typical tragedy, there are political figures and families that feud and kill people. All of this happens in Romeo and Juliet. Except the happily-ever-after part.
- BIONICLE, as a whole. It has magical epic fantasy, cyber-city sci-fi, plenty of action (both regarding the usage of special powers, or plain hand-to-hand combat), a Cosmic Horror Story or two, war tales, crime and mystery, western-ish Desert Punk, some mild philosophizing, tells moral fables, and showcases various kinds of humor (sarcastic and dry verbal jokes, or visual Slapstick). Comes in the form of plastic toys, comic books and novels, 2D and 3D animations and Direct-to-Video movies, magazines (at least in Europe), free-to-read online stories, even audio podcasts, and its music ranges from rock and techno mixes of varying hardness to orchestral choirs, tribal drums and hums and almost rural-sounding chimes. The toys also blended traditional LEGO bricks and standard Technic pieces with the unique Bionicle parts. The early Tarakava models, for instance, had a midsection built up purely by classic, studded bricks. Since the theme was still a member of the Technic umbrella-title then, some of these early Rahi sets looked more like mechanical playthings than animals. Then, there were the playsets, "normal" LEGO building sets that came with their own Minifugures, but often had a regular Bionicle figure thrown into the mix for good measure. Blending the vastly different building techniques has, in fact, become a standard practice for LEGO since then, and not-too-overspecialized pieces tend to creep over from one theme of sets into another.
- LEGO as a whole can be this if approached with sufficient enthusiasm and/or a lack of focus. You've just built a stagecoach, a UFO, an X-wing, a medieval castle, Hagrid's hut and a police car? Time to get imaginative.
- Katamari Damacy. Apart from those who call it Bubbles as a 3D platformer!, trying to fit this series into a genre is an exercise in futility and Mind Screw. The game involves rolling a large, sticky ball over the environment and growing in size as larger and larger objects attach themselves to the ball.
- LittleBigPlanet. On the surface, it's a platformer, but you can make racing levels, shooting levels, and even a take on Mario if you want to.
- Minecraft is a sandbox crafting game. It's like Legos, but with 3D 8-bit first-person graphics, ambient classical music, and vaguely survival-horror elements. At this point, it clearly acted as a Trope Codifier for sandbox crafting and building-centric games; later games, such as Terraria and Starbound, are both similar and highly divergent, and many of the off-shoots of the game add in more opposing gameplay elements.
- Jet Set Radio is a game about spraying graffiti while riding Rollerblades and listening to hip-hop music. It might be termed a sports game, but that would fail to describe its focus on attitude.
- Pikmin is a Real-Time Strategy action-adventure puzzle game, all at the same time.
- Lemmings was so unlike anything that came before that it still defies easy categorization, although the Mega Drive box calls it an "action puzzle" game. The player guides a group of the eponymous lemmings to the goal by giving individuals specific tasks, some of which are temporary, and others which are not. For instance, one lemming might be required to block off a ledge, while another is told to dig diagonally down. The genre, which is fairly limited, is sometimes referred to as "save-em-up".
- Metroid Prime is a 3D Metroidvania First-Person Shooter game, primarily unusual due to Metroidvania games traditionally being 2D.
- All the original Might and Magic games switch from swords and sorcery to sci-fi towards the end. Trade in your maces and bows for blasters.
- Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption. Wide Open Sandbox with focus on typical RPG elements like looting, morality and NPC interaction and the inclusion of a hunting system while still maintaining the third person shooter aspect and an even wider world designed for exploration and adventure.
- Flower is something that creators call "poetic adventure". You guide flower petals through the air.
- Pokémon Channel focuses on watching TV shows, some of them interactive, with Pikachu. There's also exploration and card-collecting. It falls somewhere between the adventure, simulation, and virtual pet genres, not quite hitting any of them.
- Soul Bubbles, an obscure DS game, is about collecting orbs of light and keeping them safe inside bubbles you draw as you guide them through lush, relaxing landscapes.
- Papers, Please alternates between stamping passports and managing your family's resources. It's unexpectedly tear-inducing at times.
- Dinner Date lasts for only about 20 minutes and is barely at all interactive. You wait for your date to show up and worry.
- LSD Dream Emulator is... an LSD dream emulator.
- In Shelter, you play as a mother badger who guides her children around, forages for food for them, and avoids predators. It's not fast-paced enough to be action or mundane enough for simulation; most accurately, it's an atmospheric adventure.
- Yume Nikki is not an RPG, despite being made on RPG Maker. It's an horror game... Except not really. It's an exploration game. It's an adventure game. What is it, anyway?
- Thief: Although it has since been recognized as a "first person stealth" game, journalists had trouble sorting it into any recognisable genre when it came out in November 1998. It plays from a first person perspective, yet it doesn't award killing like an FPS. It features lots of various puzzles, yet isn't an Adventure Game. It includes RPG Elements, yet isn't an RPG at all. Along with Metal Gear Solid, Thief practically defined the stealth game genre as we know it today.
- Deadly Rooms of Death is part puzzle game, part hack and slash, part turn based strategy, and ultimately none of those things. The only classification it can consistently fit is that of extremely difficult games.
- Brutal Legend is inclined towards being a Real-Time Strategy game, but your skills at Hack and Slash, Rhythm Games, and driving are often more important than RTS-related skills. The single player campaign being a Wide Open Sandbox further complicates slapping a genre label onto it.
- Zeno Clash is a Stone Punk first person melee brawler with shooting elements.
- The WarioWare series can be loosely considered mini-game collections, but it does it in such an unusual way (games are typically about 4 seconds long, must be done in quick succession, are presented in random order, and the goal is to survive a predetermined number of them before failing four times), and has an emphasis on single-player rather than multiplayer, that gamers and critics alike have largely given up trying to classify it at all.
- Planetarium bills itself as an online "story-puzzle", and is about equally balanced in both Web Original and Puzzle Game elements. You can follow the unfolding story and ignore the puzzles, or focus more on the puzzles than the story surrounding them, or enjoy both the story and puzzles.
- Soulcaster has elements of a Tower Defense while playing nothing like a normal Tower Defense, and elements of a top-down Action Game while playing nothing like a normal top-down Action Game.
- NiGHTS was designed as roughly a platformer, but is far removed from the genre's core concepts: As you're in midair nearly all of the time, there's no actual running, jumping, or functional platforms. The stages loop endlessly, as your goal is collection rather than getting to the end. You're totally invincible, your only real opponent being the timer counting down. You must reach certain score quotas to advance. And sometimes, you transform into a bobsled. Indeed, you have just as many who say it's a platformer as those who say it isn't, and the only other genre it fits even microscopically into is as a Horizontal Scrolling Shooter with no shooting and total free roaming.
- Gobtron. You play as a giant pink monster and defend against waves of enemies by using its snot, spit, burps and farts.
- Don't Shoot the Puppy doesn't fit into any genres of video games; in fact, it's barely a video game at all as you will trigger a sentry gun shooting a puppy if you so much as move the mouse, regardless of distractions like messages that it's okay to move the mouse and the puppy seemingly stopping. As an extra middle finger to the player, not moving the mouse after one level can cause the game to time out.
- Blast Corps starts out hard to classify, what with the main goal being to rush in front of a runaway missile carrier with a motley assortment of increasingly-bizarre demolition vehicles to level anything in its path before it crashes. Then it starts turning into a puzzle as levels feature things like arranging cargo ships so the carrier can roll over water. Then it gains exploration elements as you hunt down the scientists, RDUs, and anything you haven't smashed to the ground yet. Then come the vehicle racing levels...
- Killer7 is notoriously hard to describe. Much of the game is a Rail Shooter, except that you can freely move back and forth along the rails, which branch off in different directions, and the camera is in the third person when you're not aiming at things. Along with shooting enemies, there's also adventure and puzzle elements added as well that make it much like a Survival Horror game. The story, meanwhile, deals with a mix of foreign politics, government conspiracies, uber-powerful assassins, supernatural living weapons and just balls-out incomprehensible, nightmarish insanity.
- The now-famous Warcraft map/mod Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars was this, though it was actually preceded by Aeon of Strife, a map for StarCraft. Its popularity spawned a genre variously known as Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games (MOB As) or Action Real-Time Strategy games (ARTS). Many of these games are called DOTA-clones due to their similarity to the original Defense of the Ancients game, right down to copying the map out of it (and frequently, including many heroes which are extremely similar to the heroes present in the original game), but the genre has since expanded to include games such as Awesomenauts, which are certainly in the same genre and yet decidedly not clones.
- Deus Ex director Warren Spector said in an analysis of the game, "Conceptually, Deus Ex is a genre-busting game (which really endeared us to the marketing guys) — part immersive simulation, part role-playing game, part first-person shooter, part adventure game."
- Napple Tale on Sega Dreamcast bills itself as a "Lovely Pop Action RPG". In practice, that translates to "2˝D Platformer where you have to talk to everyone and everything is really cute." It's critically acclaimed! Really!
- Portal and Portal 2 are both technically puzzle games, but use an FPS engine and follow (or deliberately subverts) many of that genre's conventions.
- Eversion'' is three types of games at once: platformer, puzzle, and horror.
- The Commandos series (minus the Spin-Off Commandos Strike Force) is somewhere between Real-Time Strategy and Stealth-Based Game. It becomes its own genre (the other most well-known games of this genre being the Desperados series).
- Is Umineko no Naku Koro ni a mystery or a fantasy? Neither! It's more of a fantastical romantic mystery with a tinge of horror and Jungian-psychological elements.
- Dangan Ronpa could initially be described as a Visual Novel courtroom adventure game ala the Ace Attorney series, mixed in with some Social Link elements from the latter two Persona games. Only the courtroom scenes also regularly feature minigames with lightgun-style shooter and rhythm game elements where you literally shoot down your classmate's arguments. The story is also a mix of Ace Attorney's own murder mystery/courtroom drama combination and Battle Royale-style thriller with some (allegedly) post-apocalyptic elements showing up near the end.
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2 takes all this, adds a snowboarding-esque minigame to the pool of trial minigames (don't ask; it's weird even for Dangan Ronpa), and then adds on top of all the plot elements from the previous game everything in the game taking place in a VR simulation.
- Sluggy Freelance started out as simply a Fantastic Comedy, then (while still keeping comedy a staple) started playing Genre Roulette with soap operatic drama, epic fantasy/science-fiction, spy stories, horror, film noir, and so on. However, thanks to the constantly accumulating continuity, story elements introduced while handling one genre will still be around when another genre takes the foreground, creating some weird combinations. Like sci-fi epic "Oceans Unmoving" having a lead character who's a Talking Animal that went to war with Santa Claus. Or the wacky adventure of "A Time for Hair-raising" drawing upon Torg's past as an action hero and Gwynn's past as a victim of Demonic Possession. Or the dark, brutal story told in "Fire and Rain" still having a Zoe-gets-turned-into-a-camel gag.
- El Goonish Shive crosses a few. It starts out like a comedic slice-of-life comic, quickly adds sci-fi and drama, then fantasy, then it retcons the sci-fi into fantasy. Currently it's kind of a mix of the lot. And weird.
- Problem Sleuth and Homestuck of MS Paint Adventures are both very difficult to classify. They're online comics, except that the readers basically choose the direction stuff moves in (at least they used to; the readership is too large now). Homestuck in particular ping-pongs between a Satire/Parody/Pastiche, other comedy elements, Slice of Life, and a (fairly) serious epic fantasy/sci-fi Myth Arc that draws heavily from Superhero stories and creation myths. At a few points it even throws in flash-based interactive point-and-click sequences where the reader/player can control one of the main characters directly! The creator however does say that despite the Cerebus Syndrome, it is and always will be a predominantly comedic series. Homestuck is even Medium Busting. One part Interactive Comic, one part game, one part novel, one part animation, one part puzzle, one part something else? It's impossible to define, with the official designation having settled on "thing".
- Last Res0rt is a sci-fi vampire Furry Comic about a Deadly Game Reality Show, with some supernatural elements, a Magical Girl squad, and even a little Coming of Age (well, coming of vampire age) thrown in for good measure.
- Garfield Minus Garfield involves taking old Garfield strips and removing every character except Jon Arbuckle, leading to a bizarre, Dadaist portrayal of him as a bipolar/schizophrenic loner. Especially strange since each source comic can have only one possible outcome, making it a constrained webcomic turned Up to Eleven.
- Wapsi Square describes itself as a "slice of supernatural life" comic, but it is a bit more complicated than that. For starters, there's the save the world plotline without any antagonist. Then there is the protagonist's constant attempts to convince herself and those around her that the comic is actually on the other side of Clark's Third Law (she gives up eventually). It's rather hard to explain.
- The Dragon Doctors blends a bunch of different possible genres into one. It's about magical doctors solving weird problems in a fantastic setting that nonetheless resembles a lot of modern-day life, but the doctors spend as much time fighting evil as adventurers as they spend time as healers, plus there are plenty of slice-of-life moments mixed in to even out the pace. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's very dark. Transformation is rampant but it's far from the actual point of the comic, unlike most Transformation Comics; instead, it's just a consequence of the magical setting. Emotional healing is given as much priority as physical healing, too, unlike most Patient of the Week deals.
- For its first two chapters, Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a musical, superhero deconstruction, romantic comedy about a wannabe mad scientist supervillain and his attempts at gaining power (frequently detailed, of course, in his video blog). Then the last chapter ends with elements of classic tragedy, the only remotely sweet and sympathetic character dying in the most gut-wrenching, Whedon-specialty way possible. The montage that follows, however, still includes some brutally funny moments.
- This trope was featured in Episode 4 of the TV Tropes podcast On the Tropes.
- Survival of the Fittest, just like Battle Royale, the work that inspired it, is pretty much impossible to place in one genre. A class of students being abducted and forced to kill each other with very close attention to their personal experiences has led to a rather diversive mix of horror, action, romance and even comedy, all thanks to the multitude of different writing styles that occurs with so many authors in one place.
- Video Game High School is a high school action/comedy/drama with elements of sci-fi, Sports Stories and of course, Video Games. It often uses Video Game Tropes as plot points.
- The Nostalgia Chick: Discussed in a review of Sleepy Hollow, where she notes that this can also give something an Audience-Alienating Premise:
"It's not going to satisfy history fans because it's so wildly inaccurate and different from the source material; comedy fans won't like it because it's not really funny; it's not serious enough to be ironically funny; and the doofy tone is bound to turn off most hardcore drama fans. Mystery or romance fans won't like it because it's so gory, it won't satisfy gore fans because the gore is so fake and goofy-looking...I guess the reason I kind of like this movie is 'cause it...kind of gives a big-old middle finger to genre."
- Pyongyang Racer, North Korea's online browser game designed to promote tourism, involves driving around a mostly deserted city that looks nothing like actual Pyongyang and collecting things while a police officer, taking up a large portion of the screen, insults you.
- While Welcome to Night Vale perhaps has a leg up in this regard due to it being in the unconventional medium of a radio-drama, its genre could perhaps be best described as a slice-of-life comedy horror with healthy dose of science fiction and romance.
- KaBlam!!: Comedy/sci-fi/action/(and depending on the Henry and June short) romance.
- Teen Titans is a superhero action cartoon whose animation is often more inspired by Tex Avery or the weirder side of Anime than anything in U.S. Comic Books, yet often has very dark, dramatic storylines and, on a few occasions, will have an episode focus almost entirely on character interactions, with the obligatory supervillain battle relegated to a minor B-plot.
- Gargoyles is an epic Urban Fantasy, a sci-fi thriller set Twenty Minutes into the Future, and a gritty crime-drama. And a tribute to William Shakespeare, where Puck, Oberon, Titania, and the Weird Sisters have prominent roles, and Macbeth kicks ass in a trenchcoat with a laser gun. Seriously.
- Phineas and Ferb has a specific work in-universe: "... [A] twenty-eight volume science fiction swashbuckling historical romance tell-all potboiler mystery satire buddy cop adventure tragedy how-to action novel!"
- Adventure Time is a comedy in a world that's mostly fantasy, but where science fiction elements are almost as common. It also has plenty of horror elements and, as the series goes on, a lot of drama as the characters' motivations and back stories are revealed. It also occasionally turns into a supernatural survival drama, whenever certain characters' back stories come up.
- The kingdom protista is for all organisms that don't fit into other kingdoms in traditional taxonomy. The new system (with Domain) is partially fueled by an attempt to fix that problem.
- Due to evolution being a slow process, many animals have only one or two traits to qualify them for a classification. So, there's a lot of overlap and a large number of animals don't fit nicely into the categories we define.
- Monotremes (platypuses and echidnas) are known for not fitting 100% into the traditional fauna classifications, since they have many mammalian characteristics but lay eggs instead. The platypus is also one of the very few mammals to be venomous, and they have ten sex chromosomes, instead of the usual one or two. Furthermore, they hunt for food by sensing tiny electrical currents generated by their prey, unlike the vast majority of predators that hunt by sight, sound, or smell.
- Turtles are the subject of a raging debate among taxonomists and herpetologists as to how they're related to other types of reptiles. This is due to how all other closely related groups have gone extinct. In fact, until the discovery of Odontochelys in 2008, there were no known transitional species—for all that people knew based on fossil records, some reptiles just suddenly evolved shells and became turtles.
- Creole languages are hard to class by the usual "genetic" system of descent in philology, where one former language branches off into others. These languages are (typically) the result of one language merging with a group of other related ones, with the vocabulary taking from both while much of the grammar is created from scratch.
- In a broader sense, there's the concept known as the "sprachbund" or "linguistic crossroads," an area where multiple (often relatively unrelated) languages have developed in such close contact with one another that features from each start bleeding over into the others.