->''"You think there's a treasure map... on the back of the Declaration Of Independence."''
--> -- '''Abigail Chase''', ''Film/NationalTreasure''

A High Concept is a bare-bones description of the premise of a proposed show, used to pitch it to a producer or an audience.

A High Concept work is one that can be explained with a short, to-the-point and (it is to be hoped), intriguing description; one that can sell on its own merits. This type is loved by producers who can get a full pitch and explanation of what is going to draw in the viewers within ten seconds. From these few lines they can imagine the trailer, the marketing, the TargetAudience and [[TheMerch merchandise]].

Occasionally, as in the page quote, a line of dialogue or narration from a film [[LampshadeHanging will sum up]] its High Concept for us - it sometimes seems like [[ExecutiveMeddling Meddling Executives]] demanded a good soundbite to put in [[TrailersAlwaysSpoil the trailer]]. LetMeGetThisStraight is a frequent contributor.

{{High Concept}}s can take several specific forms like: "[[XMeetsY Show A meets Show B]]", "[[WunzaPlot One's an X, the other's a Y]]: TheyFightCrime", or "Film X in the style of Creator W" as well as the labored [[RecycledINSPACE IN SPACE!]] and DieHardOnAnX. Sometimes a High Concept can be based entirely around ''who's'' in it as opposed to what it is, with the implication that the star's unique style or talent will carry the premise - [[Series/{{Seinfeld}} a sitcom starring Jerry Seinfeld]]; [[Series/{{Frasier}} a sitcom based around Kelsey Grammer's character from]] ''Seires/{{Cheers}}''. And of course you can combine headliner talent with a fantastic or unusual situation: [[ThatsSoRaven Raven Symone has psychic powers]]; [[HannahMontana Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter lives a double-life as a normal teenager and pop icon]]. Sometimes a high concept can become so influential and imitable that it becomes a format trope in its own right, as is the case of ''Film/DieHard''; see also ''TheMagnificentSevenSamurai'' (based on ''SevenSamurai''), WagonTrainToTheStars (named for the high concept pitch for Franchise/StarTrek), and ABoyAndHisX.

{{SitCom}}s naturally lend themselves to High Concepts; the "Situation" in "Situational Comedy" often doubles as the High Concept tagline. The same is true for the RealityShow genre.

If the High Concept is right there in the title, then it's ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.

The opposite of High Concept would be Low Concept. In other words, you ''can't'' boil down the premise of a show to a simple pitch or tag line. SliceOfLife shows, comedic or otherwise (such as ''TheMiddle'' or ''{{Series/Parenthood}}'') are a common example of a Low Concept show.

[[IThoughtItMeant Not that kind of ]] [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs high concept.]]

Compare {{Laconic}}.
!! Examples:


[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/AllFallDown'': What if all the superheroes and supervillains in the world lost their powers... and never got them back?
* ''ComicBook/HouseOfM'': What if mutants ruled the world?
* ''ComicBook/{{Irredeemable}}'': What if Superman got genocidal?
* ''ComicBook/{{Nemesis}}'': What if Batman was the Joker?
* ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'''s ''Lookouts'': [[ScoutOut The Boy Scouts]] in a HeroicFantasy world.
* ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'': Teenaged mutant turtles trained in the secret art of Ninjutsu.

* ''ThirteenGoingOnThirty'': ''Film/{{Big}}'' (see below), [[GenderFlip Gender Flipped]].
* ''Film/AirForceOne'': [[DieHardOnAnX Die Hard on]] UsefulNotes/AirForceOne with Creator/HarrisonFord as the [[OurPresidentsAreDifferent President]].
* ''Film/{{Alien}}'' was pitched as ''Film/{{Jaws}}'' [[RecycledInSpace in space.]]
** Creator/JamesCameron simply pitched ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' by writing the title on a chalkboard and drawing a line on the S (making it a dollar sign). The next day, the film was greenlighted and given an $18 million budget.
* ''Film/BackToTheFuture'': Young man goes back in time and [[GrandfatherParadox accidentally prevents his own birth]], has to play cupid to his own parents.
* ''Film/ChildrenOfMen'': What would the world be like after 20 years of no children being born?
* ''Film/{{Big}}'': A 13-year-old kid wishes he was big, wakes up as a 30-year-old man.
* ''Film/BugsyMalone'': A murderous 1930s gang war, as reenacted by a bunch of singing kids with custard pie guns.
* ''{{Dave}}'': ThePrisonerofZenda in 1990's America.
* ''Film/DieHard'': Terrorists take over a building, leaving one man to sneak around and thwart them. (It's such an encapsulated concept that it [[DieHardOnAnX became a shorthand]] for other high-concept pitches.)
* ''Film/{{Enchanted}}'': Disney Princess from an animated movie gets stuck in cynical live action New York.
* ''Film/ForrestGump'': A single man [[TheZelig obliviously influences dozens of landmark events]] throughout the BabyBoomer generation's lifetime.
* ''TheFountain'': "[[TagLine What if you could]] [[WhoWantsToLiveForever live forever]]... And your lover is dying?"
* ''Film/GroundhogDay'': Man is forced to relive one day over and over.
* ''Film/InBruges'': Two Irish hitmen [[VillainsOutShopping go sightseeing]]... [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin in Bruges]].
* ''Film/{{Inception}}'': A heist film set inside the human subconscious.
* ''Film/IronSky'': Nazis on the Moon.
* ''Film/{{Jaws}}'': Giant shark starts attacking humans on New England island.
* ''Film/{{Junior}}'': ArnoldSchwarzenegger gets pregnant.
* ''Franchise/JurassicPark'': Dinosaurs are remade in a nature park and run amok.
* ''Film/MonaLisaSmile'': ''Film/DeadPoetsSociety'', [[GenderFlip Gender Flipped]].
* ''Film/NationalTreasure'': Adventurers unravel clues hidden throughout well-known pieces of American history to find a long-lost, unparalleled treasure.
* ''Film/{{Next}}'': Man who can see two minutes into future fights terrorists.
* ''Film/PhoneBooth'': Sniper holds man at gunpoint in a phone booth.
* ''Film/RealSteel'': Rocky with robots.
* ''Film/TheRock'': [[DieHardOnAnX Die Hard on]] [[TheAlcatraz Alcatraz]] with chemical weapons.
* ''Film/SnakesOnAPlane''. [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin There are snakes. On a plane.]]
* ''Film/{{Splash}}'': Ordinary guy falls in love with mysterious girl who turns out to be a mermaid
* ''Film/TalladegaNightsTheBalladOfRickyBobby'': Was literally pitched by simply writing on a chalkboard: "Creator/WillFerrell as a NASCAR driver."
* ''Film/{{Ted}}'': MarkWahlberg and a talking teddy bear.
* ''Film/TheTerminator'': Robot is sent back in time to kill the savior of mankind before he is born.
* ''Film/{{Timecop}}'': It's right there in the title.
* ''TowerHeist'': ''OceansEleven'' in New York.
* ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'': If children's toys were alive, how would they relate to their owners?
* ''Film/{{Transformers}}'': [[ABoyAndHisX A boy and his car.]]
* ''Film/UnderSiege'': ''Film/DieHard'' [[DieHardOnAnX on a battleship]] with nuclear weapons starring StevenSeagal.
* ''Film/OlympusHasFallen'': ''Under Siege'' in the White House.
* ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'': Humans and cartoon characters live side by side in 1947 Hollywood.
* ''ThePlayer'': Not the concept of the movie itself, but it's set in the film industry, and most of the characters rattle off high-concept pitches to each other to try and make a blockbuster. It's been credited with teaching aspiring film-makers how to pitch ever since.
* Parodied in ''Film/{{Network}}'':
--> "These are those four outlines submitted by Universal for an hour series. You needn't bother to read them; I'll tell them to you. The first one is set at a large Eastern law school, [[IvyLeagueForEveryone presumably Harvard]]. The series is irresistibly entitled "The New Lawyers." The running characters are a [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold crusty-but-benign]] ex-Supreme Court justice, presumably Oliver Wendell Holmes by way of Dr. Zorba; there's a beautiful girl graduate student; and the local district attorney [[BunnyEarsLawyer who is brilliant and sometimes cuts corners]]. The second one is called "The Amazon Squad." The running characters include a crusty-but-benign police lieutenant [[CowboyCop who's always getting heat from the commissioner]]; a hard-nosed, hard-drinking detective who thinks [[StayInTheKitchen women belong in the kitchen]]; and the [[FairCop brilliant and beautiful young girl cop]] who's fighting the feminist battle on the force. Up next is another one of those [[IntrepidReporter investigative reporter]] shows. A crusty-but-benign managing editor who's always gett..."
* ''Film/TheWorldsEnd'' was conceived as "Some drunk guys save the world."


[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{House}}'': ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes'' as a MedicalDrama.
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'': ''Film/TopGun'' meets ''Film/AFewGoodMen''
* ''Series/KeenEddie'' - New York detective fighting crime in London. Or ''Series/DempseyAndMakepeace'' [[XMeetsY meets]] ''Series/StarskyAndHutch''.
* ''Series/MiamiVice'': According to legend, the actual pitch was "Creator/{{MTV}} Cops."
* TattooedTeenageAlienFightersFromBeverlyHills: There's a group of teenagers with tattoos. They fight aliens. [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin They are from Beverly Hills.]]
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'': ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'' meets ''Series/TheXFiles'' with [[TeenDrama teenagers]].
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'': ''Series/WagonTrain''... [[WagonTrainToTheStars to the stars]]. While this was the original ''pitch,'' it's not really a fair description of the series - it was used to pitch the show because TheWestern was the big thing in TheSixties. A more accurate high concept would be "Literature/HoratioHornblower doing Creator/WilliamShakespeare MoralityPlay episodes in space"
* Series/{{Seinfeld}} liked to lampshade the idea that it was "a show about nothing," especially when Jerry and George pitch a ShowWithinAShow to NBC executives, although that is not an ideal HighConcept for the show itself.
* ''Series/TheColbertReport''. It's said that when the show was pitched as "Stephen Colbert parodying Bill O'Reilly", it was picked up immediately without even a pilot.
* ''DogWithABlog'' on DisneyChannel is a classic example - the High Concept is [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin right there in the title]].
** Most live-action shows on DisneyChannel, particularly [[{{DCLAU}} in the shared universe most of the shows inhabit]] are built around a High Concept, which usually boils down to "Normal, everyday teenagers... ''with a twist!''" The only real exceptions being ''LizzieMcGuire'', ''Series/EvenStevens'' and ''GoodLuckCharlie''.
*** ''ThatsSoRaven'': Teenage girl who has faulty psychic powers.
*** ''CoryInTheHouse'': Brother of psychic teenage girl goes to live in the White House.
*** ''PhilOfTheFuture'': Future family stuck in modern times.
*** ''TheSuiteLifeOfZackAndCody'': Twin boys who live in a {{UsefulNotes/Boston}} hotel.
*** ''TheSuiteLifeOnDeck'': Same twin boys, but now teenagers and living on a cruise ship.
*** ''HannahMontana'': Teenage girl with a superstar alter-ego.
*** ''WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'': Family of wizards who live in [[UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity New York City]].
*** ''SonnyWithAChance'': Teenage girl who stars in a sketch comedy.
*** ''Main/{{JONAS}}'': Teenage boys in a world famous band.
*** ''Series/ImInTheBand'': Teenage boy is a guitarist for heavy-metal band.
*** ''ShakeItUp'': Teenage girls who star in a dance show.
*** ''ANTFarm'': Class filled with child prodigies.
*** ''{{Series/Jessie}}'': Breakout star from ''Suite Life on Deck'' plays [[EverytownAmerica Small-town]] teenage girl who nannies for a wacky [[TheCity big city]] celeb family.
*** ''DogWithABlog'': Family owns a talking dog.
*** ''AustinAndAlly'': Teenage singer-songwriter duo.
*** ''LivAndMaddie'': Teenage star returns home to live with her twin sister and parents who work at her high school.
*** ''IDidntDoIt'': ''{{Friends}}'' in a high school setting with (usually) BookEnds in the form of HilarityEnsue.
*** ''Series/CrashAndBernstein'': Boy who's an OutnumberedSibling gets a brother in the form of a LivingPuppet.
*** ''Series/KickinIt'': Teenage boys and girl practice martial arts.
*** ''Series/LabRats'': Boy discovers bionically enhanced teenagers.
* Similar to the Disney Channel example, many of the shows in the NickVerse are built around some sort of High Concept.
** ''{{Series/Zoey101}}'': Teenage girls who go to a formerly all-male high school.
** ''Series/BigTimeRush'': Teenage boys in a world famous band.
** ''Series/ICarly'': Teenagers who host their own web series.
** ''{{Series/Victorious}}'': Teenage girl who goes to a highly competitive and exclusive arts school in LosAngeles.
** ''Series/TrueJacksonVP'': Teenage girl who becomes the vice president of a fashion company.
** ''MarvinMarvin'': Teenage alien is sent to live on Earth by his parents.
** ''Series/SamAndCat'': Two breakout characters from ''iCarly'' and ''Victorious'' become roommates.
** ''Series/WendellAndVinnie'': AdultChild becomes the legal guardian of a ChildProdigy.
** ''Series/TheHauntedHathaways'': A mother and her two daughters move into a house haunted by the ghosts of a man and his two sons.
** ''Series/TheThundermans'': Super-powered twins - one an aspiring super-heroine and the other an aspiring super-villain - live with their super-powered parents and super-powered younger siblings.
* ''HomeImprovement'': Tim Allen is a family man and host of a [=DIY=] TV show; [[HijinksEnsue exaggerated forays]] into {{Manliness}} leads to AnAesop.
** ''LastManStanding'': Refreshed Tim Allen vehicle serving as an updated version of ''Home Improvement'' (or even ''AllInTheFamily'') with 21st century sensibilities.
* ''MorkAndMindy'': Wacky space alien is sent to Earth to study and report about Earth culture; rooms with young single woman living in Boulder, Colorado where his misunderstandings of Earth culture [[HilarityEnsues lead to wacky hijinks]].
* ''TheMonkees'': Struggling, zany [[TheBeatles Beatlesque]] Anglo-American pop-rock quartet in TheSixties [[HilarityEnsues has madcap adventures]].
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest'': Reclusive billionaire and ex-CIA agent [[TheyFightCrime fight crime]] with a machine that predicts people involved in violent crimes before they happen... but they don't know if the [[TitleDrop person of interest]] is the victim or the perpetrator.

* BretEastonEllis [[WordOfGod called]] the premise of ''AmericanPsycho'' a high concept: a serial killer on Wall Street.
* ''TheLeftHandOfDarkness'' - An ambassador from Earth has to try and convince the [[HumanoidAliens humanoid members]] of another planet to join the federation of all the other planets - and the planet he's on is both stuck in an Ice Age and has no gender.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'': As someone once mentioned,take X-Men but magic instead of mutant powers and Voldemort is a more eviler version of Magneto.
* ''Literature/CiaphasCain'': {{Literature/Flashman}}'s [[RecycledINSPACE space adventures]] [[XMeetsY in the]] [[{{Warhammer40000}} 40th century]].
* ''Literature/HonorHarrington'': DistaffCounterpart ''HoratioHornblower'' in space
* ''{{Temeraire}}'': What if the Napoleonic Wars were fought from the backs of intelligent dragons?
* ''Literature/{{Flashman}}'': Famous war hero who's secretly a coward trying to keep his reputation and hide intact in Victorian England.
* ''Literature/TheManWhoBroughtTheDodgersBackToBrooklyn'': Two friends buy the LA Dodgers, and move them back to a rebuilt Ebbets Field in Brooklyn in the mid-1980's.
* ''The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake'': a young girl develops the ability [[MagicalRealism to taste the emotions of people in the food that they make.]]
* Literature/TheDresdenFiles: DirtyHarry [[HarryPotter Potter]]

* ''[[Pinball/{{Apollo 13}} Apollo 13]]'': '''13-ball''' multiball!
* ''Pinball/FlashDragon'': It takes your picture if you get the high score.
* ''Pinball/MonsterBash'': Put the [[Franchise/UniversalHorror Universal monsters]] together [[PuttingTheBandBackTogether for a rock concert.]]
* ''Pinball/{{Varkon}}'': Play pinball in a VideoGame cabinet.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Applied to sufficiently important (and of course player) ''characters'' in several recent incarnations of the Fate system, including ''TabletopGame/TheDresdenFiles'' RPG. The character's high concept (in Harry Dresden's own case, for example, it's "Wizard Private Eye") constitutes one of his or her "aspects" -- which means it can be invoked for mechanical bonuses or compelled to make his or her life more difficult -- and even enjoys a measure of script immunity in that the rules make it the single hardest aspect to actually change once established.

* ''RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead'': ''{{Hamlet}}'' [[PerspectiveFlip from the perspective]] of [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]], [[WorldLimitedToThePlot with absurdism]]
* ''Theatre/BlitheSpirit'': A remarried widower accidentally calls back the ghost of his first wife; HilarityEnsues.
* {{Theatre/Mrs Hawking}}: What if Sherlock Holmes were more like a lady Batman?

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Pong}}'': Two paddles hit ball back and forth.
** "Avoid missing ball for high score"
* {{Shoot Em Up}}s: Shoot everything that isn't you. Sometimes seen in a longer form: "Shoot 'em up, eat the dots."
** The latter is ''especially'' true for {{Ikaruga}}, though it's more "Shoot 'em up, eat the same-colored dots as your ship."
** Taken to its logical extreme with a Finnish freeware overhead shooter called ''Tapan Kaikki'', "I Kill Everyone".
* KingdomHearts: Final Fantasy, but with Disney characters
* {{Fighting Game}}s: Choose your character and beat all the others.
* ''VideoGame/YouHaveToBurnTheRope''. That's not a Administrivia/ZeroContextExample, that's ''literally'' [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin all the context you need]].
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', on the back of the box: "They call it a SuicideMission. ''[[BadAss Prove them wrong.]]''"
* ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'' has one called by this name [[AllThereInTheScript in the vision statement]].
--> The player is a scarred amnesiac immortal in search of his identity. On the way, the player character will kill a lot of people... [[WhoWantsToLiveForever including himself.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'': A hybrid FirstPersonShooter and PuzzleGame where the only weapon is a gun that shoots portals that you can go through with an [[AIIsACrapshoot insane killer AI]] acting as MissionControl.
** The Laconic entry for the game used to be "Darkly humorous puzzle game in an empty laboratory that kicks the laws of physics in the nuts.", so called that because in order to solve the trickier puzzles, you need some excellent spatial reasoning skills. Or as the game calls it, "Thinking with portals!"
* ''VideoGame/OrcsMustDie''
* ''VideoGame/ShootManyRobots''
* ''VideoGame/FiftyCentBloodOnTheSand'': 50 Cent fights mercenaries in the Middle East in search of a priceless diamond encrusted skull.
* ''VideoGame/DefJamSeries'': Rappers from the Def Jam label (and a few [[Creator/DannyTrejo actors]] in a fighting video game.
* ''VideoGame/JetpackJoyride'': There is a {{Jetpack}}, you steal it, take it for a joyride and see how far can you go.
* ''VideoGame/{{Chulip}}'': Figure out how to kiss pretty much every living being in the area in order to kiss the literal [[GirlOfMyDreams girl of your dreams]].

* ''Webcomic/{{XKCD}}'' proposes the perfect action movie: "[[{{Series/Firefly}} River Tam]] Beats Up Everyone".
** A similar concept to this is Sam Hughes's [[http://qntm.org/screenplays "One Hour Fight scene"]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* A few of the [[Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses Channel Awesome]] contributors feature this as the hook of their shows (or at least did initially):
** ''WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic'': ManChild revisits movies from his childhood, and discovers that they're not as good as he remembers.
** ''WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob'': A snobby art-house film critic who's been reduced to reviewing 1970s porn and exploitation films.

!!Dialog examples:

* ''FourteenOhEight'': "It's an evil [[PrecisionFStrike fucking]] room."
* ''Film/HotTubTimeMachine'': "Must be some sort of... [[TitleDrop hot tub time machine.]]"
* ''NationalTreasure'': "You think there's a treasure map.... on the back of the Declaration Of Independence."
* The trailer for ''The Bounty Hunter'' gives us "[[RepeatingSoTheAudienceCanHear You're telling me]] you want me to kidnap my ex-wife for money?"
* ''LawnDogs'':
-->'''Trent, age 21:''' I'll make you a deal. We can be friends, if you can keep it a secret.
-->'''Devon, age 10:''' What's wrong with you and me being friends?
* ''Film/{{Speed}}'': "Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?"
* ''{{Unstoppable}}'': "We're not just talking about a [[RunawayTrain train]], we're talking about a ''[[StuffBlowingUp missile]]'' the size of the ''Chrysler Building''!"
* ''Film/{{Transformers}}'': "I bought a car. Turned out to be an alien robot. Who knew?"
* ''Film/{{Gladiator}}'': "The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor" was frequently used as a tagline for the film.
* Parodied in ''WebVideo/ATrailerForEveryAcademyAwardWinningMovieEver'': "Explicitly summing up the moral of the story, awkwardly working in... the Movie Title."
* ''TheManFromEarth'': "What if a man from the Upper Paleolithic survived until the present day?"

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* [[BigBad Herrick]] in ''Series/BeingHuman'': "So, [[MonsterMash a werewolf, a ghost and a vampire]] decide to [[MundaneFantastic live like humans do]]. They get jobs, a house, and a TV license..."
* ''Series/BreakingBad'': "High school teacher turned meth dealer, brother-in-law's in the DEA? [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall That'd make one hell]] [[{{Blackmail}} of a story]]..."