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Film Noir

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Private Detective? Check. Femme Fatale? Check. Chiaroscuro lighting? Check. This is Film Noir.

"You need cops, Venetian blinds, lots of smoking, hats, sweat, dead-end streets, guys who know all the angles except for the one that ends up sticking out of their backs. Sirens of the automotive and female kind."
James Lileks, The Bleat, "Black & White World"

For added effect, play one of these songs while reading the article.

Film Noir (literally "black film" in French) is a genre of stylish, gritty crime dramas, difficult to define, but the 1940s and '50s were the classic period. Whether works since then can be accurately classed as Noir is a subject of much debate among film critics.

Film Noir, and the literature from which it is drawn, is the progenitor of several modern genres, particularly cyberpunk. Common plots of noir films include murder (and subsequent murder investigations), heists, con games, blackmail schemes, and (mostly) innocent men or women wrongly accused of crime. Use of the double-cross and cigarette smoking are mandatory. Complicated plots may be further convoluted by flashbacks and flash forwards, with the narration tying everything together — assuming we can trust it.

Noir, in the classic and stylistic sense, is visually darker than your average gangster picture, playing with light and long, deep shadows instead of bright, documentary-styled camera work. This visual motif is so iconic that homages and parodies are almost universally Deliberately Monochrome, using a transition between colour and black and white where necessary. Scenes are often filmed on location, and night scenes are shot at night. Camera angles are often very creative and unusual, heightening the viewers' sense of unease, adding to the atmosphere. The contrast between light and dark is sometimes used in the cinematography to reflect the difference between the villain and the protagonist(s). It rains most every night in Film Noir; filmmakers admit that this is entirely because at night wet pavement looks cooler than dry. Also, the rain makes it plausible that no one else is around. That said, daytime scenes can be harshly bright.

Film Noir is not really a genre in any sense, rather it reflects a tendency in certain American films of the '40s and '50s where crime and gangster stories are infused with an excessive visual style, a modern urban sensibility, and a powerful sense of moral ambiguity. These movies differed from the crime movies of the '30s, the Depression Gangster films such as The Public Enemy (1931) or Scarface (1932), in that criminal behaviour is no longer relegated to gangsters or ethnic ghettos, and the plots don't usually revolve around turf wars or police clampdowns.

Protagonists in film noir are often normal people (classically, but not necessarily, a Private Detective) who get involved in crime, and the motivations are no longer just social or circumstantial but psychological and personal. The standard noir plot is, in broad terms, best summed up as centering around a protagonist who, usually by pure chance, is placed in a complex and dangerous situation completely beyond their control where they are pitted against an adversary whose identity and motives are not immediately obvious. The system and the law is usually either apathetic to their plight or is even outright working against them, meaning that they will have to take up the fight and make sense of it all by themselves or die trying. As a style and sensibility, Film Noir was flexible to include hybrids such as the Western-Film Noir (The 1947 film Pursued with flashbacks, Dark and Troubled Past, high contrast black and white lighting and weird Freudian themes), and even the film-noir musical (The Man I Love, Love Me and Leave Me) and in the case of Leave Her to Heaven a Film Noir in technicolor.

Trying to explain Film Noir is hard since it's kind of a mix of European cynicism and post-war American angst. It involves a clash between crude pulp fiction narratives and complex storytelling and characterization, which itself derived from emerging psychological research on criminal behavior, as well as wider influences in modern art and literature. The term was first used by French critics (hence the name), and it derives from "Serie Noir", the label of French translations of American pulp fiction, and French imitations thereof, which were highly popular in France at the time. French critics looked at the American crime films from their perspectives of post-Occupation France, which to some extent led them to overemphasize the doom and gloom of American films by projecting their experiences onto their interpretations of these films. Later, American writers when translating these articles into English brought this into Pop-Cultural Osmosis.

The mix of European cynicism with American landscape is also borne out in the fact that several directors of films noir — Billy Wilder (who lost his mother in Auschwitz), Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger — were refugees, exiles and emigres from Nazi Germany, being quite active in 1920s Berlin which in many ways was the closest a real-life city came to being the exaggerated City Noir landscape. The lighting in Film Noir was also strongly influenced by European trends, especially German Expressionism, but later after the war, the Italian neorealist films of Roberto Rossellini also influenced it greatly. The subtext of many of these films often dealt with the trauma of the returning Shell-Shocked Veteran (most notably, Act of Violence) and the rising Red Scare and The Hollywood Blacklist which made the working climate in Hollywood highly paranoid and hostile, and this infused the films made in the late '40s.

Noir can also be seen as a successor to the Gothic Horror novels of the 19th Century, moved from the decrepit castles of Romanticism and into the city streets of Modernism, and most forms of "new Gothic" - such as Southern Gothic, Southern Ontario Gothic, and especially Suburban Gothic - will have a heavy dose of noir influence. Both traditions typically revolve around some sort of terrible secret coming to light, a general air of unease and paranoia, a feeling of alienation from one's surroundings, and a middle-class distrust of the rich, although noir typically trades in the evil aristocracy for businessmen and corrupt politicians. Noir is also usually more masculine than the female-driven Gothics and more likely to have a male protagonist, although both forms typically rely heavily on sweltering sexual tension - just as the Gothic ingenue was tempted by the Byronic Hero, the noir hero finds himself caught up in the wiles of the Femme Fatale. Like the Gothic Haunted Heroine, the noir hero may be haunted by his own inner demons (though usually of a less supernatural kind), but the closest he can come to her Incorruptible Pure Pureness is being a Knight in Sour Armor. If, when it comes down to it, he does the right thing even when he knows it will cost him greatly (and he might not), the universe will not reward him for his inner nobility - in contrast to the Gothic, which, despite its darkness, is at heart a fairly idealistic tradition where good perseveres and crosses repel vampires. There are no such guarantees in noir. Being a Doomed Moral Victor will have to be enough for the noir hero; as Robert Mitchum says in Out of the Past, "Build my gallows high." Just as solving the mystery is an act of imposing order on chaos, so too is choosing to follow a moral code in an amoral world.

The standard Noir landscape is a large, oppressive city (filmed in dark and dusky conditions to create a moody atmosphere). Familiar haunts include cheap hotels, dimly-lit bars, nightclubs filled with questionable clientele (including the Gayngster) whom the lead may intimidate for information, gambling dens, juke joints and the ubiquitous seedy waterfront warehouse filled with crates that Fell Off the Back of a Truck. At night in the big city, you can bet the streets are slick with rain, reflecting streetlights like a Hopper painting. Most of the characters (including the lead) are cynical, misanthropical and hopeless all the way through the film, and may never find true redemption - and if they do, it won't come cheap.

It is important to note that the term "Film Noir" was not available to the people who made them in the '40s and '50s. To quote Robert Mitchum once again, "We called them B-Movies." It comes from later audiences and critics who rediscovered these films in revival theaters and clubs and picked up the subtext, visual clues, and other Hidden Depths. Many historians feel that the classic Film Noir genre died when it became self-conscious. Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumenton cite the MGM musical The Band Wagon (made in 1952), where the final number featured a technicolor parody of a Mickey Spillane crime setting, with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse playing the detective and femme fatale in an obvious send-up. Others feel that Orson Welles' Touch of Evil was the real end, since it was made by the director of Citizen Kane (which, while not a Noir, influenced the lighting and style of several other films noir), and the genre conventions were pretty much stretched inside and outside. They also argue that Noir only worked in a climate of censorship, as the crime genre often fell Beneath Suspicion allowing writers and directors more chances to subvert cliches. Once censorship eroded, Film Noir had pretty much served its purpose and achieved its goals.

Attempts to revive this style led to Neo-Noir, which with some exceptions tends to Flanderization. The tone and outlook must be bleak, defeatist, and pessimistic, always suggesting a sliminess beyond what it can show. Nobody gets what they want, and everyone gets what's coming to them. Characters are often armed — revolversnote , Colt 1911s, and if they need More Dakka, tommy guns. Also, no self-respecting Film Noir thug will be seen without his brass knuckles. They'll probably wear a Fedora or trilby hat with a trench coat. Frequently the ending will be low-key and leave no one character happy or fulfilled. Commonly, there is also a great deal of sexual tension between the hero and the female lead; Noir stories are quite risqué. The original Film Noir era followed the Hays Code, so the odds of a female lead removing her clothing are minimal, but even so, she'll often have some fine gams on display and walk with a Supermodel Strut. This applies to modern versions; gratuitous nudity or scenes of excessive violence are hinted at rather than portrayed. It is often what is not seen that adds to the mystery and suspense.

Film Noir usually features the Anti-Hero, Anti-Villain, Villain Protagonist, the ambiguity often resting on questions of trust, leading to an atmosphere of paranoia where Poor Communication Kills regularly. The conclusion may or may not tie up all the loose ends, with the major mystery being the morally ambiguous theme of the story. These factors contribute to the widely-held opinion that Film Noir works are among the best artistic works of all time and contributed greatly to the maturity of cinema as an art form.

See Film Noir Index for a listing of live-action film noir. Examples from other media are listed below.

Not to be confused with the religious conspiracy anime Noir (although that is an example of the genre).

    Characters associated with Film Noir 

    Common noir settings 

    Common noir eras (both setting and publication) 

    Visual elements and camera techniques 

    Sound elements and music 

    Other tropes associated with Film Noir 

A common form of Formula-Breaking Episode is the Noir Episode — a work spends a single episode homaging or parodying Film Noir style (or just has everyone wearing trilbies and talking about the rain, in black and white). Fantastic Noir is a Sub-Genre with fantastic or Science Fiction elements. See also our Write a Film Noir guide.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Area 51 has a very pronounced chiaroscuro art style and a private detective protagonist in a wretched town. Despite those elements, though, there's quite a bit of humor. Also, lots of monsters, gods, and other fantastical creatures.
  • The Big O
  • Case Closed, being a series about a Great Detective solving murders and fighting a deadly criminal organization, uses plenty of noir tropes.
  • Cowboy Bebop, in its more "serious" moments.
  • Darker than Black. It's the real deal, but the character of Gai Kurasawa (a private detective), is used to parody it.
  • Death Note had some noir traits, including the chiaroscuro lighting, moral ambiguity, and dark themes.
  • Ergo Proxy, especially the first few episodes.
  • Ghost in the Shell, especially the movie Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, which even mimics typical designs for cars and buildings from the classic Noir movies.
  • Golgo 13
  • The York Shin Arc of Hunter × Hunter has a noir feel to it that gets more prominent as the tone becomes darker.
  • Lupin III has this vibe sometimes, Depending on the Writer.
  • Monster (1994) has some elements of this trope.
  • Noir
  • Odd Taxi is a murder mystery where the taxi-driving protagonist gets involved with corrupt cops, rival Yakuza members of the same gang, and the seedier side of glamourous idols.
  • Speed Grapher is set in a Tokyo which is a City Noir teaming with corruption and has its hero in Intrepid Reporter Saiga who is a good example of a Knight in Sour Armor.
  • The Witch and the Beast is this in spades. Even one of the main characters smokes, and the atmosphere is perpetually dark and gloomy. May or may not bleed into Fantastic Noir.
  • Yuureitou is a murder-mystery set in The '50s with this type of setting.

    Comic Books 
  • 100 Bullets
  • Sin City
  • Batman - many stories are noir at their core. Gotham City is obviously a very noirish setting.
  • The Question. Bonus points for his fedora and trench coat.
  • Dogby Walks Alone - parodied by being placed in a Theme Parks setting.
  • The Dregs stars a crazy homeless man convinced he's a Hardboiled Detective uncovering a mystery in Vancouver. When he imagines himself as Philip Marlowe the palette becomes more monochrome, he gets a Private Eye Monologue, and he hallucinates a beautiful Femme Fatale who talks to him at pivotal moments.
  • The Marvel Noir line. Changes to Wolverine, for example, include his signature claws actually being handheld Japanese weapons. Naturally, there's a different version of Logan on the X-Men. In normal Marvel continuity, such street-level heroes as Daredevil, Moon Knight, and the Punisher have all had runs or story arcs that followed many noir conventions.
  • Blacksad - An anthropomorphic detective series, that follows the stories of John Blacksad.
  • The Damned - A detective cursed to never die working for demonic(literally demons) gang bosses in the midst of a war with a rival organization.
  • New Teen Titans arc "Who Is Donna Troy?" has serious noir overtones, especially the first few pages featuring Dick in a dark office lit dramatically with light coming in through the blinds while looking at pictures and other evidence relating to the case he's taken for Donna.
  • X-Factor (2006) features Jamie Madrox's attempt at a noir mutant detective agency. The prequel series, Madrox, also has a plot with the standard tropes associated with the genre; A brilliant yet dysfunctional detective, a mysterious Femme Fatale, a rich man suspected of being a criminal, and a grouchy reluctant ally. The tropes are also lampshaded by Jamie.
  • Many books by Ed Brubaker, especially when he's working with Sean Philips. Criminal (2006) and The Fade Out are straight noir. Sleeper (WildStorm) and Incognito are superhero/pulp hero noir, and Fatale is noir where the Femme Fatale's supernatural allure actually is supernatural.
  • Brian Michael Bendis's Alias.
  • Sandman Mystery Theatre takes place during 1938 and follows Wesely Dodds and his fight against the criminals that lurk throughout New York.
  • Also by Bendis, Sam And Twitch, a spin-off from the Spawn series
  • Spider-Man Noir reimagines Spider-Man through a Film Noir lens, with Spidey shown as being more ruthless in his pursuit of villains (up to and including using guns), and classic rogues' gallery members like Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus depicted as mob bosses and Nazis.
  • Watchmen is a menagerie of different genres colliding into one, but many of the bigger bones of its story are influenced by noir, primarily with the character of Rorschach, an unscrupulous, seriously troubled vigilante trying to solve the murder of a retired superhero. Its loose sequel, Rorschach (2020) (a Distant Sequel that doubles as a meta-examination on the namesake character) also carries heavy noir undertones, with heavy emphasis on ideologies and Psychological Horror.
  • The Spirit, particularly the newspaper strip.
  • Stray Bullets
  • Calvin and Hobbes: One of Calvin's Imagine Spots follows the adventures of a very noir-ish private investigator called Tracer Bullet.
  • The Good Asian follows Chinese-American detective Edison Hark as he navigates San Francisco's Chinatown in the 1930s and tries to find a missing girl. He soon finds himself stuck in the middle of a powder keg, caught between brutal/racist cops, the agendas of various powerful and wealthy people, a deranged blackmailer, and a ruthless killer out for revenge. To make matters worse, the well-being of everyone in Chinatown hinges on what happens, as any excuse will be used to crack down on residents and curtail their quest for greater civil rights.
  • The Astro City story arc "The Tarnished Angel" and its sequel, "Things Past", are noir stories about broken, cynical people trying to get by in a heartless world.
  • Les Enquêtes Polar de Philippine Lomar. The eponymous teenage detective regularly helps clients, has a Private Eye Monologue, and deals with criminals from the seedy underworld.
  • Jew Gangster

    Fan Works 


    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: The latter part of "Postage Due" is very much film noir-influenced, with Miss Brooks providing a Private Eye Monologue.
  • Dragnet: Especially in its first run in the '40s and '50s.
  • Daredevil (2015). Given that it's based on the comics of Frank Miller, it was to be expected.
  • Jack Taylor is a dark, and at times humorous series about a hard-drinking Irish Private Eye with a smart mouth.
  • Jessica Jones (2015) The Netflix series plays heavily on noir themes; Jessica herself being a gender-swapped, alcoholic, emotionally detached private detective.
  • Twin Peaks has a heavy noir element to it, with a murder leading to the uncovering of the corruption and moral ambiguity of a seemingly idyllic town. Various noir tropes are given their due in the show, from the dark jazz motifs in the score to various character archetypes. This being a David Lynch series, though, it's filled with nice helpings of surrealism, and it's just as much a Soap Opera with heavy doses of the supernatural.
  • Veronica Mars somehow effectively used this style in a San Diego high school setting. And gender-swapped.
  • Charmed had an episode based around a book taking them to a place with this style.
  • Moonlighting: "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice" is an extended homage to the genre with David and Maddie dreaming they're in a murder mystery in the 1940s. The crew shot the dream sequences on black and white film to properly capture the feel, and also because the network threatened to override them and air the scenes in color.
  • Smallville had a Jimmy-centric episode set in a noir dream sequence.
  • Other than the Hawaii setting and heavy doses of comedy, Magnum, P.I. tends toward this as well, complete with Private Eye Monologue.
  • Kamen Rider Double is based on Noir.
  • Terriers
  • Big Mouth (2022) is set in a Hellhole Prison with corrupt wealthy people and gangs and mafia.
  • Bored to Death
  • Luther
  • EZ Streets
  • Lost Girl has the chiaroscuro lighting and grand but decaying settings. Interesting twist though that the Femme Fatale also happens to be the Anti-Hero-Private Detective.
  • The BBC two-part Drama "Exile"
  • Monk has the Season 5 episode, "Mr. Monk and The Leper," done in a complete homage to Film Noir including an introduction from Tony Shaloub dropping references to Femme Fatale amongst other tropes. A black-and-white then a color version aired back-to-back when the episode premiered. The DVD includes the black-and-white version.
  • Peter Gunn mixed Noir tropes with 1950s cool Jazz.
  • Ripley is a dark, gritty thriller with a conman protagonist who's willing to murder those who get in his way. The entire series is filmed in Deliberately Monochrome, emphasising its Film Noir nature.
  • The Shadow Line is heavily inspired by Film Noir, borrowing many plot elements and a very dark and cynical tone.
  • Angel was heavily influenced by Film Noir, mostly up to about halfway through the third season, but it retained certain Film Noir traits until the very end, such as the moral ambiguity. The final scene of the show is in the classic Film Noir setting of a rainy alleyway.
  • The Castle season 4 episode "The Blue Butterfly" has Castle find the diary of a private eye from 1948, which results in a number of Film Noir-style flashbacks with the regulars taking on various roles in the story - Castle as the detective, Beckett as a nightclub singer, Esposito and Ryan as gangsters and Alexis (!) as a Femme Fatale. We also get Castle doing the monologue and at one point inadvertently swapping the name of the singer for Kate... which results in a Record Needle Scratch drop out of flashback as Beckett looks at him funny.
  • Serangoon Road, set in 1960s Singapore. This might seem odd as a setting until one realises that Singapore in The '60s was more Wretched Hive than Shining City.
  • A 2014 episode of Pretty Little Liars in which Spencer goes into hallucination mode uses this setting.
  • It's in color, but Gotham has a very Noir feel to it with corrupt police, a seedy underworld that can only hint at the real level of nastiness, corrupt and shady politicians, and a brewing mob war.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries looks like your typical Body of the Week show on the surface, but as each episode goes on that veneer is scraped away to something much darker and conspiracy-oriented. The way Phryne loves to pretend to be a Femme Fatale certainly helps.
    • Miss S, its Chinese remake, is slightly less dark but still has noir elements.
  • Babylon Berlin: A German TV crime series (based on a book trilogy) set in 1929 Berlin, a city rife with underground pornographers, gangsters, Communists and Fascists.
  • I Am the Night is a homage to Los Angeles set neo-noir classics like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential.
  • Baghdad Central
  • The 200th episode of Bones was done in this style.

  • The song and video for "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson is thematically and stylistically in this genre. The song is about a man being wrongfully accused (according to him at least) of sleeping with a woman and getting her pregnant, a woman who he implies schemed this whole thing up to trap him. The video features a City Noir, a Deliberately Monochrome section, and a paparazzo who is dressed like a Private Detective from 1950s movies in the genre.
  • K-Pop group SECRET's music video for "Poison" is in the style of Film Noir, complete with Lady in Red Femme Fatale.
  • Ultravox's breakthrough hit "Vienna" was heavily influenced by film noir themes. The music video in particular was inspired by The Third Man.
  • Dire Straits' "Private Investigations" pretty much checks every noir trope into three short verses.
    A bottle of whiskey and a new set of lies
    Blinds on the window and a pain behind your eyes...
  • Television pull on noir imagery in several songs on Marquee Moon, most notably "Prove It" and "Venus."
    Broadway looked so medieval
    It seemed to flap, like little pages
  • Dave Callahan of Moonshake loved film noir and, when the band split in half and he was given full reign of it, he infused the band's already moody sound and Urban Hellscape imagery with more prominent jazz elements in an attempt to replicate the genre's aesthetics.

  • Blake Skye Private Eye has all the auditory hallmarks of the Film Noir genre, with a twist of Lovecraftian horror in the mix.


    Print Media 
  • The 2007 Hollywood Portfolio of Vanity Fair magazine set up a faux noir film called "Killers Kill, Dead Men Die" to accompany the series of photos taken, complete with casting and set descriptions in the captions.

    Spoofs and Parodies 

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • L.A. Noire (2011) fittingly enough.
  • Max Payne (2001) - Also a movie. The second game was even billed with the tagline "A film noir love story".
  • Grand Theft Auto III (2001). With its pessimistic atmosphere, dark tone, moral ambiguity, and muted colors, the game has many elements of this trope.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) has some elements of this trope.
  • The BioShock series constantly plays with elements of the genre. A dark-yet-stylized and moody atmosphere (not to mention a setting where you aren't quite sure who to trust — or who the real "bad guy" is) permeates the first two, and the third has you play a private detective. Bonus points for the first BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea DLC being a straight-up Noir Episode.
  • Blues and Bullets (2015)
  • The Knee Deep (2015) theatrical stage adventure features several noir tropes in its grim Florida setting.
  • Tex Murphy (1996)
  • Grim Fandango (1998)
  • The Black Dahlia (1998) - correct setting, period clothes, and corny dialogue to boot.
  • Discworld Noir (1999) - Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Its sequel even used the tagline "A Film Noir Love Story", which is somewhat ironic, given that the protagonist is much less cynical and jaded than in the original.
  • Blackout, an Adventure Game that combines Noir with Psychological Horror and puppets.
  • Déjà Vu (1985)
  • Jack Orlando
  • Nick Bounty A series of adventure games featuring the titular wanna-be hardboiled detective.
  • Dead Head Fred
  • Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers combines Noir with horror much the same way as the film Angel Heart.
  • The Thief series.
  • Hotline Miami Neon Noir, deeply inspired by Drive (2011).
  • Heavy Rain (2010). Shelby's character is a homage to Noir while Jayden is a homage to its more modern counterparts.
  • The later Hitman games start to veer into this territory by virtue of Growing the Beard and aiming for a more Darker and Edgier feel. Several missions in Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money have a genuinely noir tone.
  • Wadjet Eye Games loves this genre, with most of their games so far either belonging fully to this genre or using parts of it. These include:
    • The Shivah, with a Rabbi who's losing faith in the goodness of God as the protagonist.
    • Emerald City Confidential was described by the producer as follows: "Harsh city streets, grey rainy skies, femmes fatales, tough guys, trenchcoats, fedoras, and plot twists. It's Oz, seen through the eyes of Raymond Chandler."
    • The Blackwell Series uses some elements of noir (one of the protagonists is a Deadpan Snarker ghost from the '30s).
    • Unavowed is mainly Urban Fantasy, but the aesthetic is soaked in the atmosphere of neo-noir featuring constant rain, which of course gives the colored lighting of various businesses the chance to spill on the street, and pretty much each mission sees the player tasked with getting to the bottom of a mystery and then having to make a heavy moral choice at the end.
  • The Deus Ex Universe is Cyberpunk and heavily borrows from the noir aesthetics and narrative structure. Technically, they're noir games with government agents and conspirators replacing more common private dicks and crooks.
  • Skullgirls (2012), a video game that achieves a neo-noir feel through a Diesel Punk setting.
  • Subsurface Circular (2017). The detective, as well as all of the other characters, are robots traversing a subway line.
  • Killer is Dead, as well as Killer7, from Suda51, features some heavy surreal film noir looks, down to badass assassins in suits, heavy shading and shadows, hypnotic soundtracks and weird characters. They're much more Science Fiction than film noir, though the influence is clearly there.
  • Halo 3: ODST was developed to evoke a Film Noir atmosphere as a lone soldier investigates an alien-occupied city.
  • Mass Effect
    • By virtue of evoking late '80s sci-fi movies, Mass Effect 2 evokes this in parts, especially on Omega, Ilium, and the Citadel. Thane and Samara's loyalty missions are even investigations with much less action than the rest of the game (oddly enough, both characters are stoic badasses with philosophical sides).
    • Mass Effect 3's Citadel DLC has among its tidbits a brief audio recording of Mordin Solus narrating his own Self-Insert Fic in a film noir hardboiled style as an homage, starring himself as the detective and Aria T'Loak, unofficial ruler of Omega Station, as the Femme Fatale.
      "Had broken Omega's one rule... in more ways than one." note 
  • Blade Runner (1997) follows the movie with its distinctive noir feeling mixed with s-f settings.
  • Carte Blanche: For a Fistful of Teeth. Bonus points for black-and-white graphics.
  • Gunpoint plays many of the tropes of Film Noir fairly straight despite its more humorous atmosphere and incredibly snarky protagonist.
  • TimeSplitters 2 (2002) the Chicago level has this in spades, from the opening monologue to the soundtrack for the level.
  • The Witcher (2009) and its sequel are very noir, even though they're set in a fantasy world replete with witches and golems. It has corrupt, drunken authorities, the drug trade, a conspiracy, several femme fatales, and a jaded, sarcastic anti-hero who's primarily concerned with his own goals.
  • The Wolf Among Us is a murder mystery set in 1986 New York, and starring Sheriff Bigby Wolf, a Deadpan Snarker/Hardboiled Detective type investigating Fairytale characters in a noir setting.
  • Last Case: The Disappearance of Amanda Kane is a mostly black-and-white crime drama about a private investigator trying to look for a mission person. The protagonist drinks, has recently lost his partner, and the game has a smooth, somewhat somber accompaniment to the setting (which seems to take place in the mid to late nineties).
  • Disco Elysium is an Urban Fantasy Noir with a 1970s aesthetic and can perhaps best be described as Planescape: Torment meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It is also somewhat of a Genre Deconstruction, turning a critical eye to some of the staple tropes of the genre such as the Defective Detective, the Femme Fatale, and the Asshole Victim, and taking them apart.
  • Blacksad: Under the Skin, based on the Blacksad comics, is equally as noir as its source material. Its furry Hardboiled Detective investigates (and narrates) over a supposed suicide and is exposed to crime, corruption, infidelities, conspiracies, and so on.
  • Nick Bounty is a parody version.
  • Chicken Police is a film noir styled detective game, BUT WITH ANTHROPOMORPHIC ANIMALS.
  • Lacuna (2021)
  • Bear With Me
  • Shadows of Doubt may technically take place in an Alternate History Cyberpunk dystopia, but its aesthetic is heavily inspired by film noir, including the player character being a private detective investigating murders and doing odd (sometimes questionable) jobs for people with credits to burn. The sparse instances of in-game music even mixes the mournful notations of blues music with synthwave-y instruments.
  • El Paso, Elsewhere
  • The Silver Case and its sequel The 25th Ward from Suda51 have aspects of the genre, with some of the protagonists being hardboiled investigators (of varied dubious morality in nature and methods) who unravel conspiracies. They lean a bit more towards cyberpunk (especially in the sequel), but qualify otherwise.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • AntiBunny draws heavily on Film Noir in its visual and storytelling style. As a call-out to the visual style in Chapter 5 of The Gritty City Stories, Pooky cynically narrates "No one gets film noir these days anyway."
  • Automata, and its sequel Blood and Oil; two short stories created by the Penny Arcade duo. [1]
  • Blood & Smoke (Paul Mitzkowski) is a black and white comic set in a hellhole of a city, starring a cynical, chain-smoking, fedora and trenchcoat-wearing police detective that chases a serial killer with a cool-sounding name.
  • The Talbot Chronicles placed Lawrence Talbot from the Wolf Man series into a film noir setting. A good fit, as Talbot's whole bag has always been existential angst.
  • I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!! has a bonus story, originally subscribers only, following a Hardboiled Detective who gets hired to find a young woman who went missing from her workplace. Of course he never finds her, because she's been ... you know.
  • Daniel is a vampire horror comic set in the 1930s. Its setting and grayscale color scheme give it a feel very akin to film noir.
  • Riverside Extras is a male gangster vs female gangster comic. It's Deliberately Monochrome except for splashes of red. The main character is the Femme Fatale with a Dark and Troubled Past instead of a detective (who has appeared but is only a minor player compared to the lady gangsters).
  • El Goonish Shive parodies this with the Detective Block "storyline" in EGS:NP, where the detective is an unintelligible writer's block.
  • Sleepless Domain: The title page of "Confluence" is one big homage to the film noir genre and aesthetic, making use of a limited color palette and casting the series' Magical Girl protagonists as a variety of noir archetypes. Among them are Bud as the Hardboiled Detective behind the classic private eye's desk, her partner Harley as the mob muscle in a vest and flat cap, and Undine as the sharply-dressed Dame with a Case in a Little Black Dress.

    Web Original 
  • Perri Rhoades' web serial Spectral Shadows has a peculiar planet, Cygnus, that's populated by lots of half-human half-animal creatures, with each town having an Intellectual Property Religion (literally — even if sometimes the religion doesn't correctly match the source material). The town of Noire tries its best to fit this trope, even going so far as to use fossil fuels for vehicles while the rest of the world uses solar power — because in the gangster movies, they didn't have solar power.
  • The United Federation of Charles had a discussion of Noir and its role in fiction. It argues that the genre never died and is continuing today.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Breaking Up, Film Noir Style

When Mr. Golovkin explains how Ms. Anderson broke up with him, he tells it in a film noir setting and he doesn't care. Moon would later have a nightmare about him and Quinn breaking up in the same setting.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / FilmNoir

Media sources: