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"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 enough though, 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.

The difference between Genre Roulette and Genre Busting is the difference between content and premise respectively. If the premise of your story is that five hundred years in the future, a fight between two large factions occurs while there is a third faction manipulating them behind the scenes, then congratulations, you've just made a genre busting Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller War Story. Now let's say you focus on three characters within that story; one character is in a forbidden relationship with someone from the other side of the war, one is growing more mature from their experience with the war, and another is investigating clues that lead back to the manipulative third faction. Now you are running a roulette between a Star-Crossed Lovers story, a Coming of Age arc, and Mystery Fiction.

Compare Genre Mashup, when a work combined existing genres. Also compare Postmodernism (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. However, there's a lot of overlap; those who play heavily into mixing genres end up being very difficult to classify.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • A Place Further than the Universe has this as a common consensus regarding the anime's genre categorization. While it undeniably has an atmosphere of a "cute-girls-doing-cute-things" (CGDCT) story consisted of a cast comprised of mostly high school girls, it is mostly everything a CGDCT story is not. Having a story with relatively heavy drama, an aversion to most Slice of Life scenarios, and a clear-cut purpose that needs to be attained in the story (going to Antarctica to find out what happened to Shirase's mother), for example, renders the anime to be more of an adventure story combined with Coming of Age Story story than a traditional Schoolgirl Series anime.
  • Overall, Attack on Titan is a Shōnen series with an After the End Zombie Apocalypse and Military-Warfare backdrop that's dark enough to nearly co-qualify as a Seinen, and as mentioned below, it quickly turns into a Humongous Mecha story and a Conspiracy Thriller manga with an additional heavy emphasis on the ongoing Ontological Mystery.
  • The dearly departed Satoshi Kon made his career out of this. Most of his films have strange or unconventional premises.
  • Magical Project S started as a parody of magical girls, but then becomes an Indecisive Parody that sometimes took its elements seriously. Then it explored psychological and deep themes, then explored the concept of friendship. Afterward it went to romance.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: This comedy show steals aspects from high school slice of life shows, fantasy, and sci-fi settings by having several of its core cast members be supernatural entities attending a high school.
  • Star Driver. It's a mecha show! No, it's a romantic slice of life comedy! Wait wait, it's a Magical Girl series except starring a Bishōnen! No, sorry, it's a Mind Screw! Whatever it is, it's all very FABULOUS.
  • CLANNAD: Word of God states that the main theme is family. However, as the plot progresses, we see slice of life and romance moving into the story, not to mention that Tomoya's Unwanted Harem become True Companions. Fuko's arc borders on fantasy, but the second season takes the cake and eats it with Ushio turning out to be the Girl in the Illusionary World, Tomoya being the Garbage Doll, thus firmly establishing the fantasy aspect of the show. Also, Light Orbs. Need I say more? Mind screw...for the viewer at least?
  • Spider Riders. An action/adventure story with a twist... The Hero riding a Giant Spider! Way cooler than it sounds.
  • Cowboy Bebop. Noir? Check. Western? Check. Sci-Fi? Check. Cyberpunk? Check. All set to a heady jazz soundtrack. No wonder this is the entry-level anime series and what put [adult swim] on the map.
    • Also, according to the Alan Moore quote that currently heads this page, Cowboy Bebop is life.
      Shinichiro Watanabe: The work, which becomes new genre itself, will be called ... Cowboy Bebop.
    • Its spiritual sequel Samurai Champloo is set in feudal Japan and melds samurai action with elements of humorous Slice of Life and adventure, along with bizarre anachronisms like graffiti artists, breakdancing, rap, and baseball.
    • And after that is Space☆Dandy, a Raygun Gothic sci-fi action-comedy with heavy disco and funk themes and Space Opera elements going on in the background.
  • Planetes is hard sci-fi, with plenty of drama, strong themes on relationship building, and a few comedy bits to relax the audience. Some people just agreed upon it to be a slice-of-life story, but In Space!
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, starts off as a routine Gaming and Sports Anime & Manga that gradually morphs into a full-blown Mind Screw, with a chaser of psychological exploration and numerous Take Thats at shonen anime tropes and concepts from its franchise's original series.
  • Hell Girl. A fusion of suspense, drama and horror, with some slice of life and social commentary about the least appealing aspects of the Japanese society thrown in for good measure. The third season is full of Mind Screw as well.
  • In a smaller scale example, Crossbone Gundam defies many of the standard tropes conventions of the Gundam franchise, itself a Trope Maker for Real Robot anime. For starters, the main character is a licensed pilot (no Falling into the Cockpit here) and is so well-adjusted that even faking angst is difficult for him.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is simultaneously a Super Robot, Real Robot and mecha Deconstruction, a sci-fi thriller, a Romantic Comedy, a psychological drama with a dash of Gothic Horror, and a trippy Postmodernist diatribe.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena is a complex, metaphorical coming of age story seen through the lens of Buddhism, Gnosticism, and Jungian philosophy. It also uses deconstructionist theory to tackle issues such as gender roles, the incest taboo, and binary principle. It also a complex look at the dark side of tropes and imagery associated with European fairy tales, such as the prince, the princess, and the wicked witch. It also is a surrealist dramedy observing the complicated interpersonal relationships between the students. It also is about lesbians. But TV Tropes likes to say it's a Shoujo, and back away slowly. Pretty impressive for a TV series that states "From the Director of Sailor Moon!" on its American DVD release.
  • Adolf: Spanning approximately half a century, from the Berlin Olympics to the then-present of The Eighties, focusing primarily on the years leading up to World War Two, it is by turns a Coming of Age Story, Spy Fiction, Romance and a fairly well-done Author Tract about the evils of war and racism.
  • Radio City Fantasy's minimal plot should make it a straightforward romantic comedy until it takes surrealist segues.
  • Gintama is mostly catalogued as a comedy series (with historical, Sci-Fi and drama elements) but Hideaki Sorachi, its author, has claimed several times that each chapter plays its own genre.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: The whole premise of the series itself is "genre busting", since it is a series about personified nations living and acting out the lives based on the historical happenings and interactions of the countries they represent. For the most part it's a Comedy, it has its Historical Fiction values, and has plentiful Boys' Love subtext to it. If that weren't enough, there's the occasional strips that come out from nowhere, that don't fit into this genre (or a chronological timeline), but interact with the magical background related to the nations themselves. It's hard to predict what might happen next in the series.
  • The Big O is a Film Noir, Science Fiction, Giant Mecha, Detective story, Psychological mind-screw with Batman overtones.
  • Un-Go - Post Cyber Punk detective drama with supernatural elements throw in for good measure.
  • Gunbuster is a Coming of Age Sport Military Science Fiction Space Opera Super Robot show with Real themes.
  • Tiger & BunnyAffectionate and Deconstructive Parody of Super Hero genre combined with Buddy Cop Show and Slice of Life.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica - Deconstruction of Magical Girl genre mixed with a lot of drama and Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Berserk is a Dark Fantasy series with Cosmic Horror Story undertones, but The Golden Age Arc — several volumes long flashback in the middle of the series — is a Low Fantasy that's very close to Historical Fantasy, while still having some small elements of Dark Fantasy, with the main character having escaped from Heroic Fantasy.
  • My Lovely Ghost Kana is a heartwarming, tear-jerking, Slice of Life Porn with Plot love story that puts the titular Magical Girlfriend's suicide at the beginning, featuring characters who all have Dark And Troubled Pasts that are utterly ignored as the story deconstructs the angst right the hell out of them, while celebrating The Power of Love without a trace of narm. And it's better than it sounds. What.
  • Again!! is a school sports club comedy drama, with time-traveling.
  • Case Closed: Pretty much every genre except for fantasy has been covered during the manga's run. There's been everything from romance to Body Horror to wrestling. The Spin-Off Magic Kaito which is canonically in the same world actually does have magic. Both real and fake meaning that while Conan doesn't cover it alone the world as a whole does.
  • Ah! My Goddess. When it launched, it was a Slice of Life Romantic Comedy involving magical beings, having harem antics without being a Harem Series, and occasionally putting the entire Slice of Life concept on the shelf to go save the world from fantasy villains. Now, it's recognized as the Trope Maker for the Magical Girlfriend, but the elements of fantasy adventure are still far more strongly present than in your average Magical Girlfriend series.
  • School-Live! is essentially this, initially seems like an innocent schoolgirl genre in the first half however, in the second half it turns into a Zombie Apocalypse themed anime.
  • While Hunter × Hunter is primarily a shonen action series, (albeit with massive Deconstructor Fleet overtones,) there are plenty of non-shonen action things going on, like when Gon and Killua spent an entire arc auctioneering, or when they went to Greed Island and the series suddenly became an MMORPG.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure really likes to hop from one genre to another with every arc, going from horror thriller story, to globe-trotting adventure story, to detective story, to gangster story, to prison story, to racing story set in an western backdrop while combining such elements with Fist of the North Star-style action. Even the fight scenes involving Stands often get more cerebral than your typical action scenes, and feel more like mysteries than straight up fights.
  • The only thing you can really pin down about Excel♡Saga is that it's a comedy, since the series switches genres every episode. Even the comedy part isn't completely consistent, since one episode is played completely straight (but then again, that's the joke.) The anime and manga are also inconsistent with each other on what kind of comedy it is. The anime is more of a parody of...everything (including itself,) while the manga starts out as a commentary on post-recession Japan with Slice of Life elements, and then slowly starts introducing more sci-fi and deconstructive elements, and a more serious story.
  • Symphogear is a music-themed, Science Fantasy, Magical Girl anime.
  • Yuusha Gojo Kumiai Kouryuugata Keijiban is a multi-dimensional message board for all kinds of heroes, with each chapter depicting a different thread posted by a hero seeking help or sharing their experiences. Not only is the manga itself very unique, but it also brings up unique types of heroes in-universe. For example, one hero is a king who managed to fight off corruption in his kingdom; another hero is an Earthling who can't decide if he wants to leave his job to jump into the magic summoning circle for the 24th time.
  • Sgt. Frog is a sci-fi comedy which also mixes in, among other things, Action-Adventure, drama, fantasy, sports, Tokusatsu, Romantic Comedy, Giant Mecha, J-Horror, Film Noir, Slice of Life, and more.
  • Figure 17 Tsubasa & Hikaru Slice of Life, Magical Girl, Sci-fi, Horror (dude gets impaled in the second episode, framed alongside such stories like performing a school play written by one of the children). Contains a lot of drama that would alienate children of the protagonist's age yet still deals, very realistically (despite the aliens), with issues a child could struggle with.
  • It's a tokusatsu show, it's a Magical Girl show, it's a psychological deconstruction and reconstruction of the superhero genre! It's Samurai Flamenco! As well as taking elements from several Japanese super hero genres, this anime has elements of Psychological Horror, Romance, Slice of Life, a Buddy Cop Show, and more. The plot is so complex and surprising that it is more like getting four different shows for the price of one.
  • People have claimed the genre of the Shōnen manga PandoraHearts to be psychological horror/horror, psychological thriller/thriller, psychological drama/drama, action, mystery, tragedy, fantasy, sci-fi, and more.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: Is it a Super Robot series? A Teen Drama? A Paranormal Romance? A post-apocalyptic YA dystopia? An Alien Invasion Assimilation Plot? All of the above.
  • Fantastic Children could be considered as a mystery at first. However, as time went on, the work brought other genres into the mix such as adventure, coming of age story, mystery, tragedy, history, fantasy, and romance. There's a bit of science-fiction too.
  • Soul Hunter starts off as a fantasy driven manga loosely based on an epic Chinese mythology novel, Fengshen Yanyi. However, in later chapters it became a fourth-wall breaking manga with sci-fi elements. Justified, as the creator of the manga, Ryu Fujisaki, is a huge science fiction fan.
  • Cannon Busters is a western steampunk high fantasy mecha samurai show that's influenced by American hip-hop culture.
  • Dandadan is a supernatural/paranormal Shōnen action adventure that can suddenly switch to high school Romantic Comedy as soon as things go back to normal.
  • Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight!: Looks like an ecchi manga, and it is, but it's a Work Comedy and Slice of Life series that revolves around the lives and jobs of sex workers (mainly adult models), complete with a few romance subplots. It's also a Fighting Series, complete with an all-female MMA-style Tournament Arc that kicks off in volume 6: many of the main cast members are also martial artists, with main protagonist Haebaru Misora being both a gravure model and a national-level karateka.
  • Patlabor. At heart the various series are Cop Shows... that involve Humongous Mecha used mostly in civilian construction applications. It also has significant Slice of Life and Work Com elements, with the protagonists being a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who spend a significant chunk of their time screwing around and waiting for something interesting to happen.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • When Candorville began, it was more or less a clone of Doonesbury. As time passed on, however, the nonsense moments not only have gotten more frequent, but seem to have stopped being classified as such to 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Animated 
  • Pixar:
    • 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/superhero/spy thriller/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.
    • Inside Out is a philosophical and psychological comedy/drama/coming-of-age/slice of life/road movie/buddy movie/adventure/fantasy. Which elements are in play shift whether the film is focused on the human characters or the cast of emotions within their minds.
    • Turning Red is a Coming of Age Story with fantasy elements while also being a Kaiju Work and incorporating normally videogame exclusive tropes like Air-Dashing. Its score seamlessly combines traditional Chinese instruments, Cantonese chanting, new jack swing, rock, hip-hop and a Western orchestra especially the track "The Aunties" of which it has been said that nothing quite like it exists in film music, much less animation.
  • Heavy Metal, full stop. It's a mashup of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror elements (which also makes it one of the very few animated horror movies), with heavy Mind Screw elements to boot.
  • A pretty awesome obscure animated film, Rock and Rule. It's a post-apocalyptic movie at first, however it got combined by the Rock and Roll musical genre and fantasy ala sword and sorcery going on for this movie which makes it really awesome.
  • Foam Bath was so unusual that a new literary term was even invented for it: "anima verité", or "perfected style of documentarism and psychedelic character-portrait". In more normal terms, it's a musical romantic dramedy, but the presentation is surreal and experimental, it has a semi-documentarian side about parenting and medical careers, actual interviews with real people, hints of Slice of Life, deep character exploration, and the tone wildly shifts from cheesy and juvenile to artistic and profound.
  • The LEGO Movie is a chosen one story, a wacky comedy, an epic adventure, a fantasy movie, a bit of a western, and even an existentialist movie once Emmett leaves Bricksburg and finds out that all his and his friends actions are controlled by Finn and his father.
  • Song of the Miraculous Hind is an experimental, semi-educational, semi-mythological, semi-historical all-psychedelic thing that zips back and forth between factual and fantastical, narrated and musical, made for children and made for adults, mainstream and arthouse, realistic and magical, with alternating art and animation styles. In short, it's like a psychedelic audio-visual add-on to a high school history, mythology and art course.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars is primarily a Space Opera, but A New Hope is practically a Fusion Fic of Westerns, Akira Kurosawa samurai epics (particularly his Self-Parody film The Hidden Fortress), sci-fi pulp adventure comics like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, and World War II films (The Empire as a whole is patterned strongly after Nazi Germany, and the Death Star attack is an almost shot-for-shot homage to The Dam Busters). The original trilogy as a whole also has strong similarities to early High Fantasy works like The Lord of the Rings.
    • Attack of the Clones spends much of its runtime as a mystery/detective story with Obi-Wan that crosses into Anakin's space opera/romantic drama, with the two intersecting in a sci-fi war film.
  • Streets of Fire: Walter Hill likes to say that all his movies could be considered Westerns, and it shows; the rough and roguish gunslinger with complicated ethics, the damsel in distress, the showdown with the head bandit. But there's also 50's greaser punks and car chases, 80's-style crime drama and music, and a post-apocalyptic/cyberpunk vibe in that the authorities are only present to show how useless they are. And somehow, it all just works.
  • The Stunt Man. Action-Comedy-Romance-Thriller-Drama. The studio had trouble marketing it because it didn't fit into one particular genre.
  • 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.
  • The Terminator: A Science Fiction Action Slasher Movie as well as a tragic Love Story with a hint of War film.
  • 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!
  • Titanic (1997): a partially historical Period Piece and a Romeo and Juliet romance drama with a suspenseful Action-Adventure/Disaster Movie second half.
  • 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.
  • White Nights: A tense Cold War thriller about a defector in Soviet prison which features ballet, tap dancing, and feel good pop music about The Power of Friendship by Phil Collins and Lionel Richie.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the book it's based on are both love letters to 1940s Hollywood and an allegory of racism during that time. To tell it's story, it combines popular 40's Film Noir with adventure, comedy, and the logic of a old school Looney Tunes cartoon.
  • Vanilla Sky combined romantic drama with a psychological thriller with a sci-fi reveal.
  • Lithuanian movie Vanishing Waves combines Science Fiction along with Romance, Drama, Thriller, Surrealism (and some Surreal Horror later on) and even a dash of Erotica/Soft Porn.
  • Voyage of the Rock Aliens: As scriptwriter James Guidotti put it, "It's a little like sitting home and watching TV late on a Saturday night, all the while switching channels from 5 to 9 to 11 and to 13. On channel 5 they're airing an old beach party movie; on 9 one about alien invaders; on 11 a film about a mad, homicidal maniac on the loose; and on 13 a rock 'n' roll program." The movie contains elements from all those genres.
  • The Wicker Man (1973): Depending on who you ask, the original movie is a classic example of Folk Horror, or it's a psychological Thriller borrowing elements of a Police Procedural, or it's more of a Conspiracy Thriller set in a small Scottish town. The one thing it definitely is? A Musical.
  • Yojimbo is nominally a samurai action movie, but has added elements of Westerns, gangster films, superhero movies, and slapstick comedies.

  • 2666: Horror, Paranoid fiction, Science fiction, Historical, Bildungsroman, Police procedural, Satire, Academic, Picaresque, Adventure, War, Hysterical realism, Encyclopedic novel, Philosophical novel, Metafiction, Mystery, Thriller, Black comedy, Pornography, Tragicomedy, Conspiracy fiction, Crime mystery, Detective fiction, neo-Western, Romance, Hardboiled, and Experimental literature.
  • Ahriman Trilogy is a young adult urban fantasy superhero cosmic horror tale.
  • Airman by Eoin Colfer is a mixture of a Swashbuckler, Romance, Steampunk, Retro Sci-Fi, Adventure, Western, Espionage and Great Escape.
  • 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.
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer 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.
  • Baccano!: The Mafia + Immortality + Alchemy by way of Quentin Tarantino, done by a Japanese author. Its Spiritual Successor Durarara!! takes Genre Busting even further by featuring students, gangs, mythology, mad scientists, Japanese horror and Anonymous, just to name a few. It seems on the surface to primarily be a sort of mystery/thriller with a bit of action thrown in, but it's also got a not-insignificant amount of slice-of-life often by way of... interesting characters (like an Irish faerie who lives in a high-class Tokyo apartment), but in a way the best single descriptor for it might actually be a romance deconstruction. With some reconstruction later on. And not in any way that one would normally think of a romance being.
  • Bakemonogatari is a comed- well, a bit, maybe, but it's mainly an action... Hang on, there's not much of that either. Okay, so it's a harem... no, not quite. Romance...? Well, the main character has a love interest, but that's not the focus of the story. If there were a genre for it, it would have to be called "Dialogue and Mind Screw]". The story adds several elements of Japanese folklore and ghost stories, too.
  • 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.
  • Castle Perilous by John DeChancie 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.
  • Cat Planet Cuties: About half fairly standard ecchi romance/comedy. The other half is a thriller.
  • 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. The two sequels, Fifty Feet of Trouble and Wolfman Confidential are the same.
  • 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.
  • Complete World Knowledge combines the almanac with the absurdist comedy.
  • Cut and Run is a Queer Romance / Thriller/Action/Mystery Fiction series that frequently delves into being a Drama and sometimes has elements of Magical Realism.
  • The Dark Tower 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 that's missing its perhaps main genre of fantasy. Peter David once described the series as one-quarter western, one-quarter science fiction, one-quarter horror, and one-quarter sword-and-sorcery fantasy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Discworld by Terry Pratchett 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.
  • The Divine Cities is Diesel Punk set in a secondary world but written largely like Spy Thrillers.
  • 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.
  • The Dreamside Road might fit under the Fantasy or Adventure umbrellas, but it has a comic book universe's worth of sub-genres. It features “magic”, an archaeological arms race, and burgeoning sci-fi technology, all in a Class 1 Apocalypse, heavily influenced by a former government conspiracy.
  • 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 modern-day 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.
  • 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.
  • Escapist Dream: It's wacky premise basically spells most of what it is. It is a story about a virtual reality world where geeks can live a life similar to their favorite comic book, anime, video game, and literary stories. While marketed as a science fiction, it has elements of superhero fiction, Game Lit, anime, action, horror and so many more in the speculative fiction totem. It is most famous as an example of geeky pop culture fiction due to its number of references to comics, anime, video games, and books.
  • 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.
  • The Familiar: Takes the Genre-Busting the author did in his previous book House Of Leaves up a notch. A blend of science fiction, horror, detective, crime, cyber-punk, conspiracy thriller and young adult.
  • Fifty Feet of Trouble 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.
  • James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is a major example, for the simple reason that it's damn near impossible to read. Although Wikipedia describes it as "Avant-Garde Comic Fiction" the actual genre is simply listed as "Sui generis", meaning "One of a kind".
  • The Gaiad: a Science Fantasy Epic Poem about personified natural forces
  • The Gammage Cup: A children's story that starts with Slice of Life in a Fantasy world, but moves to a Downplayed Dystopian setting. Then the main characters rebel and create a Robinsonade-esque mini-civilization from scratch. Finally, various Chekhov's Guns fire and the story turns Epic Fantasy.
  • The Garden of Sinners is a mix of romance, horror, Urban Fantasy, murder mystery, and action.
  • Get Blank is almost genre Mad Lib. Comic noir, with conspiracies, monsters, aliens, and just a smidge of urban fantasy.
  • Gravity's Rainbow includes elements of historical fiction, spy fiction, sci-fi, war, comedy, pornography, conspiracy theories, and a general atmosphere of Mind Screw.
  • Great Expectations: Anyone who calls this 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!
  • 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.
  • Harry Potter is this, especially in the beginning, as a hybrid of fantastic fiction, boarding school stories, coming-of-age stories, Detective Fiction with lots of clues and red herrings in it, and all this set in a pretty unique setting.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya is a little bit of sci-fi, comedy, mystery, romance, and slice of life in a Japanese high school setting.
  • Hexwood starts out with separate plot strands seemingly located in: 1. an intergalactic sc-fi story, 2. a high fantasy novel, and 3. the sort of Cozy Suburban Mystery where a young girl sleuths around and has adventures. The plot strands rapidly collide, no one is who you (or even they) think they are, and some seriously brilliant Mind Warp ensues as the plot barrels forward and things turn out simultaneously simpler and more complex than anyone guessed. Diana Wynne Jones is famous for bending and colliding genres in her novels, but this book in particular stands out.
  • House of Leaves is a horror/fantasy/drama/parody/romance story, and while that statement is accurate, it's only scratching the surface of the novel's strangeness and unconventionality. The footnotes alone...
    The author: 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.
  • Illuminatus! by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson 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.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab is a historical fantasy. And a romance. And a modern-day suspense. And a tour of depression and mental illness. And a question about the meaning of life.
  • Is This A Zombie?: Magical Girl Action Horror Thriller Harem Comedy. With ninja (plural).
  • Kim by Rudyard Kipling is a spy story, a gigantic Slice of Life, and a Coming of Age story.
  • Kushiel's Legacy has a loosely Historical Fantasy setting—an Alternate History High Middle Ages France—but all the books have significant erotica and thriller components. The Phèdre trilogy is part High Fantasy, part Spy Fiction, the Imriel trilogy is part Coming of Age Story, part Romance Novel, while the Moirin trilogy is mainly Adventure Fiction.
  • League of Magi: The stories are predominantly thrillers, with elements of detective, spy, and conspiracy genres thrown in. The world itself is decidedly urban fantasy (with some horror seasoning).
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora is a heist a fantasy setting.
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold doesn't seem to fall under any particular genre. The novel is narrated by a dead girl watching her family in the aftermath of her murder, from an Afterlife Antechamber, as her father and sister eventually try to puzzle out her death. So that's Lit Fic, drama, mystery, and supernatural.
  • Mr Blank is almost genre Mad Lib. Comic noir, with conspiracies, monsters, aliens, and just a smidge of urban fantasy.
  • Nerve Zero is a find-the-girl noir story, set on a far-future, zero gravity space station populated by weird versions of humanity.
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson combines elements of film noir, mystery, pulp science fiction and an emphasis on technology to create what is now known as Cyberpunk. It is now seen as the Trope Maker of the genre, and depending on who you ask, the Trope Codifier as well.
  • Nightfall (Series): A fantasy / action / adventure / science fiction / historical / post-apocalyptic / dystopian vampire story, in which the young heroine doesn’t fall in love with the Tall, Dark, and Handsome Prince of Darkness, but continues her mission to assassinate him.
  • Nursery Crime is a series that's a spinoff of Thursday Next, though it has its roots in Detective Fiction Deconstruction.
  • Obsidian & Blood is a historical urban fantasy locked room mystery.
  • Over The Hills Of Green is a realistic psychological novel that employs both a fantasy and a sci fi premise, alternating between a romance and a mystery plot structure, while overtly poking fun at the genre tropes.
  • Paradise Lost: It's easy to forget that while it 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."
  • The Postmodern Adventures Of Kill Team One is difficult to classify. The books are mostly action adventure, but sometimes dip into Sci Fi/horror territory with strong elements of Satire and Black Comedy. Some characters have superpowers, and a werewolf features prominently in the series continuity (but there are no such things as vampires).
  • 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. The romantic element is overall played straight — in that there's not much question that the lovers getting together would be a Happy Ending — but at the same time, the book spoofs the hell out of it by talking about ideas like "the most beautiful woman in the world" and "one of the best kisses ever" as if these are fairly objective things determined by expert opinion.
  • 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.)
  • Riddley Walker is an After the End Science Fiction done in the style of a Middle Ages mind screwy historical novel.
  • Second Sons by Jennifer Fallon 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.)
  • Shadow of the Conqueror is a Dungeon Punk and High Fantasy story set in a world of solar Magitek, with Renaissance swords everywhere, the eve of an Industrial Revolution dawning, early twentieth-century political conflicts on the world stage, and some Anime and Superhero Tropes thrown in for spice.
  • Have fun listing Slayers as a single genre. Set in a fantasy world, it includes comedy, action, and large amounts of drama...often into a single storyline!
  • Six of Crows: In this Leigh Bardugo novel, a wealthy merchant hires a team of master criminals to rescue an imprisoned scientist who's invented a highly addictive drug. Sound like just another caper? This one takes place in a Low Fantasy world, and the drug enhances peoples' magical abilities.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five is a pretty genre-busting work, which also seems to go out of its way to demolish tropes.
  • Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake, a self-illustrated book of poems.
  • Sword Art Online is a love story in a sci-fi setting, with harem, medieval fantasy, mythology, detective fiction and post-apocalypse in between.
  • A Symphony of Eternity is a Space Opera/High Fantasy/Black Comedy meta-fictional delight. The books follow galactic war fought in a universe where magic instead of technology is used, it contains elements of military science fiction, Discworld-like humour, Flashman-esque protagonists with bits of The Sandman (1989)-like meta-fiction, Lovecratian horror, historical fiction and use of many examples of Fictional Documents for Worldbuilding and Tolstoy quality level of suffering and existentialism and nihilism, with a dash of optimism and hope for the future, all the while being a Deconstruction and Reconstruction of itself all at the same time.
  • Tea with the Black Dragon is a contemporary cybercrime adventure story, but the dragon of the title is not just a metaphor.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • The Dante's Vita Nuova switches between large prose sections that provide background to the poetic sections, which in themselves take on genres like romance sonnet, Grief Song, prayer ballad, and even a visionary apocalypse canzone.
  • the Vorkosigan Saga as a whole falls into this, due the the series tendency towards Genre Roulette. While the series is clearly Sci Fi the individual books jump between miltary fiction, mystery, romance, adventure, Drama, and sometimes a combination of some or all of the genres in one book. There is also the difficulty of how to classify the consistent presense of humor threaded throughouot the series, enough to be noteworthy but not enough to warrant classifying the series as a Dramedy. The net result is it's rather difficult to define the series as a whole.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • They have Emmy categories for this now, listed under "Outstanding Special Class" and "Outstanding New Approaches".

By Creator:

By Series:

  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. was a science fiction/western with a lead who was best known for horror/comedies.
  • Babylon 5 is spy story combined with Space Opera combined with Lovecraftian tropes combined with High Fantasy combined with political drama.
  • Barry is a grim crime drama, a Hollywood satire, a Black Comedy, a sitcom, a slice-of-life drama, and a psychological thriller with elements of horror and surrealism frequently appearing as well.
  • The BBC Historical Farm Series is part live-action historical crafts recreation documentary, part edutainment reality show starring and featuring actual experts on a specific historical period and the lifestyle of each era. It presents the concepts of living history and experimental archaeology in a very accessible, enjoyable and informative way, within a virtually period-enclosed visual experience, and without any sort of pandering to the audience or dumbing down of the overall presentation. No mean feat for what could have been an otherwise bog-standard documentary series.
  • Bones is a forensics procedural romantic dramedy.
  • 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.
  • Castle 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. Beckett's mother's arc is also a conspiracy thriller in most of the later episodes.
  • Chernobyl is sold as a historical drama, but given the nature of the disaster, it at times comes across as a Cosmic Horror Story. The meltdown of Reactor #4 gives birth to a metaphorical Eldritch Abomination, a pit of mangled metal and radioactive hellfire that kills near-instantly anyone who looks down into it and belches out enough radiation and debris to kill everything for miles around. Its birth-cry, a catastrophic steam explosion thankfully silenced by the inhuman bravery of the three liquidators on-sitenote  would have — and this is no exaggerationdestroyed the entire site as well as the cities of Kiev and Minsk and rendered half of Europe uninhabitable for more than a hundred thousand years. People are utterly helpless and only have a handful of half-baked ideas to seal away the menace, where even if they succeed, it will still dwell for another thousand years hence. There is also an element of Courtroom Drama in Episode 5 when Legasov and Khomyuk testify at the trial of Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin.
  • 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?
  • Community is definitely a sitcom. With every other genre mixed in with it.
  • Doctor Who can quite literally be whatever genre it wants to be when it wakes up in the morning. In series 4 alone it went through 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.
  • 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.
  • Game of Thrones: A lot of the subplots and character arcs occupy different genres in fantasy, historical, and adventure fiction. Bran and company are on The Quest to find the Three Eyed Raven in their search for knowledge and answers. Jaime Lannister and Jorah Mormont are knights in sour armor on redemption quests, while the Hound and Arya and Brienne and Pod mirror the classic Knight Errant and plucky squire arc. Daenerys Targaryen hatching dragons and conquering cities with dragons and blood magic and Jon Snow defending an ancient order against supernatural enemies are very much classic fantasy epics. The Decadent Court of King's Landing and the War of the Five Kings mirror Low Fantasy and Historical Fiction settings recreating life in a medieval era in a more gritty and realistic way.
  • Jessica Jones (2015) is part character-focused drama and part neo-noir detective story, as well as a psychological thriller with horror elements, black comedy, and a deconstruction of superheroes. It's a show about a retired superhero turned private detective with PTSD, and is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but very deliberately Not Like The Avengers.
  • Legends of Tomorrow is a time travel action ensemble show with a heavy dose of comedy due to our protagonists being Fish out of Water. It is also a Superhero show concerning these Ragtag Band of Misfits averting The End of the World as We Know It.
  • 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 struggle 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 its 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.
  • One of the earliest and most notable cases of Genre Busting in Live Action TV was Monty Python's Flying Circus. Aside from being comedic, nothing else could really be discerned about the show. It was, in fact, so indefinable that an all new word had to be invented in order to define it: Pythonesque. Terry Jones expressed disappointment when he learned about the existence of such a term, claiming the initial aim of Monty Python was to create something new and impossible to categorize (i.e., something Genre Busting) and that "the fact that Pythonesque is now a word in the Oxford English Dictionary shows the extent to which [they] failed".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pushing Daisies classified itself as a "forensic fairy tale", with elements of fantasy, procedural mystery, romantic comedy, musical, and, well, what genre WASN'T it?
  • Quantum Leap is basically the trope basically being about a guy who's continually moving through any kind of story the writers feel like.
  • The promotional poster for Resident Alien describes it as being "The sci-fi murder mystery doctor dramedy Earth needs now." The series is quirky comedy about an alien who crash-lands on Earth, disguises himself as a human doctor, and ends up getting involved in a murder mystery.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Twin Peaks debuted as a fairly mundane Crime Time Soap, but quickly drew in elements of horror, teen angst, quirky comedy, and Magic Realism. It was unlike anything else on television... and that was before The Return came along to show how much further they could take it all. The Black Lodge, so mind-blowing in the original series, was positively mundane compared to some of the completely surreal dreamscapes of the revival. Throw in doppelgangers, time travel, and one of the most frustratingly Ambiguous Endings ever seen in a TV show and you have something even the most devoted fans can find downright impossible to classify.
  • Warehouse 13 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.
  • WandaVision is a series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that combines 50s period piece sitcoms, drama, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and action over the course of a nine-episode run, and often several times in the same episode. In short, the show wraps these different genres and styles up with a Trapped in TV Land storyline.
  • 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.
  • 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. Plus, there are forays into outright comedy, comedy/horror episodes, and self-reflexive postmodernism (often comedic).

  • The Damned: Late 70s British Punk Rock 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: The group are generally pinned somewhere between Glam Rock and Arena Rock, but both their albums and individual songs can cover a wide variety of genres. Throughout their career, they've mashed glam rock up with Progressive Rock, Hard Rock, Punk Rock, folk rock, rockabilly, music hall fare, Synth-Pop, disco, R&B, and whatever else caught their attention.
  • 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 genre-busting 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.
  • Gorillaz blends rock, hip-hop, reggae, pop and other influences together.
  • Talking Heads are often considered one of the defining bands of the Post-Punk and New Wave Music movements, but what exactly their sound is is difficult to describe in a single phrase, encompassing elements of punk, funk, art rock, country, glam rock, afrobeat, ambient music, pop, electronic music, and avant-garde. And the thing is, you couldn't pin down any one song to a single precise genre; they all so carefully blended several disparate genres that critics often described them as unique entities.
  • Brian Eno is primarily known for his ambient work, but his albums of songs in the mid-70s are hard to pin down. Art Rock and Art Pop are the most common labels, but those don't explain the heavy atmospheric synths or slow, Impressionist-inspired chord progressions. His first album is an Ur-Example of shoegaze, but about 15 years before the genre came into existence and thus sounds nothing like the genre codifier My Bloody Valentine.
  • 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.
  • Movits! is a Swedish swing hip-hop jazz band.
  • 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-and-bass music. Over time, their sound became more commercial and developed into a rock-electronic fusion group with live performances.
  • Long before Pendulum, long before Electronic Music was split into dozens of genres and sub-genres, Jean-Michel Jarre made electronic music that transcended genre limitations, also because it couldn't be squeezed into any one pre-defined genre. His biggest hit, "Oxygène Part IV" from 1976, reached the top of the U.S. pop, country, jazz and classical charts at the same time the following year. This actually made it sometimes difficult to find his music in record stores: Some filed it under "Rock/Pop", some filed it under "Electronic" if they had such a department, some filed it under "Instrumental", some didn't file it under "Instrumental" in spite of having such a department, some filed it under "New Age" or even "Meditational". And not only doesn't Jarre himself adhere to any one genre, he even regards the term "electronic music" as a description of what the music is made with rather than a genre label.
  • 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 Genre Mashup 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 Genre Mashup way too far and eventually set standards for crazy music in the Japanese rock/metal scene.
      • UROBOROS isn't considered by fans as their masterpiece 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 '80s, a time when metal bands focused on achieving a "pure" sound.
      • The one-song album, Art of Life takes Genre Roulette up a notch.
      • Anything that Yoshiki Hayashi has ever written would instantly fall under this trope.
    • Japanese kawaii metal band LADYBABY defies easy classification, as it's a band that wholeheartedly embraces kawaii culture and blurs grindcore and its screaming vocals and lightning riffs, J-pop and its upbeat, heavily electronic beats and hooks, lyrics that are safe for fairly young children, and an aesthetic that has the band dressing like Sailor Moon knock-offs. The three fronts for the band wear supremely cute Lolita Fashion-inspired outfits. Two of them, Rie Kaneko and Rei Kuromiya, are 19 and 16 year old Japanese females (as of 2016), while the third, Rick Magarey, is a bearded Australian cross-dressing professional wrestler in his early thirties - and he's the one with pig tails. Kaneko and Kuromiya deliver their vocals with the perky, high, very feminine sound you expect from the poppiest of J-pop while Magarey delivers his vocals with a scream you might expect from grindcore bands like Napalm Death or Brutal Truth. It's a strange mix best experienced for oneself, so here's a link to one of their songs on their official YouTube channel.
  • 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.
  • Captain Beefheart totally defied all musical convention. To the unaccustomed ear, something like "Ella Guru" from Trout Mask Replica sounds sloppy and discordant, but with time one begins to realize the genius in such works as that.
  • 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 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 with bits of Traditional Heavy Metal, Nu Metal, Grunge and Alternative Metal (Black Album through St. Anger), with stops at Power Ballad ("The Unforgiven"), Irish Folk Music ("Whiskey in the Jar"), Blues ("Low Man's Lyric"), Country Music ("Mama Said") and Orchestral Metal (both S&M albums/concerts). For a while, even they weren't sure what they were. As of Death Magnetic, they seem to be a Progressive Thrash Metal band, with Lulu, they became Avant-Garde Metal before going back to prog-thrash since Hardwired To Self-Destruct.
  • 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, Progressive 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 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 Åkerfeldt 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...
  • Butthole Surfers: Many of their songs are not even identifiable as "music." They are loud combinations between rock, Avant-Garde Music, Punk Rock, Alternative Rock, Noise Rock and Psychedelic Rock.
  • Oingo Boingo: Most pop music historians classify them as "new wave" or "ska", but then there are other critics who claim that they invented pop-punk. But they were heavily influenced by traditional African and Indonesian music, jazz, and classical (and country to a lesser extent). But some of their songs are so solo-driven ("Dead Man's Party," anyone?) that they would fit comfortably on most 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 its 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....
  • Amorphis is a metal band (generally), but no one really knows what the hell they are beyond that. While their early material was pretty straightforward death/doom metal, their later material has been decidedly more oblique, mixing progressive rock, folk metal, melodic death metal, gothic rock, power metal, and jazz fusion to create something that can only really be described as theirs and theirs alone.
  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony: Gangsta Rap, speed rap and 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 unmistakably 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.
    • For that matter, there's also their buddies in Hammer Fight, who mix traditional heavy metal with hardcore, thrash metal, death metal, and punk rock in a manner that manages to be unbelievably catchy and fun but also very difficult to classify at all.
  • 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 Smile 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 Varèse 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 recommended 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.
  • Arguably the most famous Breakcore musician, Venetian Snares fuses the genre with a host of other influences, including Classical, IDM, and Dubstep.
  • A truly insane example of Breakcore genre-blending is Igorrr's music, which mashes up (to name a but few genre) Breakcore, Baroque, Death/Doom/Black Metal, Polka, Gregorian Chant, Cabaret Music, Swing, Noise, and things less classifiable. And it's even weirder than that description makes it sound.
  • Exmortus has combined thrash metal, death metal, power metal, 80s hard rock, and shred into a cohesive package that is still exceedingly difficult to classify. Melodic Death Metal is probably the closest that one can come to finding a conventional label that sticks, but even that is flimsy at best.
  • Bethlehem is notoriously hard to classify. Their early work combines elements of Black Metal, Doom Metal, and Death Metal with a very strong atmospheric element, and has come to be known as their own unique style called "Dark Metal" (after their first album). Their later work can really only be adequately described as gothic-tinged Experimental Metal.
  • Macabre mixes thrash metal, death metal, grindcore, hardcore, punk rock, and traditional folk songs and nursery rhymes into a bizarre final result that they refer to as "murder metal".
  • Deep Purple's Live Album Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1969) is a performance where the rock band collaborated with a classical orchestra. At first they perform one at the time, but as the concert evolves they melt together into one Genre-Busting soundscape.
  • Linkin Park has always been a mix of rock, electronic, metal, and hip-hop. Which of these ingredients takes prominence depends on the song.
  • Lorde mixes a variety of different sounds that give her equal appeal to both Pop and Alternative audiences. To wit, her music has elements of Dream Pop, Electronica, Synthpop, Minimalism, Ambient, Indie Pop, Art Pop, Dark Wave, Contemporary, and even a few traces of Hip-Hop can be found in the beats. It's not often that a song can top both the Billboard pop and alternative charts, but her Breakthrough Hit "Royals" did just that.
  • Full of Hell feels like this. They mix together metalcore, sludge metal, powerviolence, noise, and industrial in a way that gives one a case for referring to them as any one of these genres; while they all fit, they also paradoxically don't fit. The only way to really describe them is something along the lines of "Trap Them attempting to sound like Man Is the Bastard while covering Throbbing Gristle and Prurient at the same time", but even that really doesn't adequately describe them.
  • System of a Down sounds like nothing else. While they are metal, what kind of metal is almost impossible to describe. They're funny, political, and completely unorthodox. At the same time, they're also very approachable for non-metal fans, giving them more listeners than other metal bands can dream of. The term Nu Metal has been used to describe them before, but that's often met with disdain. They often get the tag of Alternative Metal, but they sound completely unlike those acts as well. Avant-Garde Metal and Progressive Metal are sometimes applied to them as well.
  • With each album, Rotting Christ has gotten harder and harder to classify. With their current mix of black metal, traditional heavy metal, Greek folk, gothic rock, neofolk, and industrial, they form a sound that really can't be pigeonholed into any existing genres. Gothic Metal is the most common label that people give them as of now, but even that is flawed at best.
  • Diablo Swing Orchestra is a Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal band that has elements of Big Band, including a permanent Trombonist and Trumpeter. On top of that, they add elements of Symphonic Metal, including a Cello and operatic lead vocals. And then they'll often throw in other genres when they feel so inclined.
  • Issues combines the hard-hitting instruments of metal with the vocals of Top 40 music. The Soprano and Gravel dynamic between the two lead vocalists are like other Metalcore bands, but the R&B singing of Tyler Carter makes him contrast even more with the Harsh Vocals of Michael Bohn. Also, they have a DJ as an official member of the band, making tons of scratches like a Nu Metal band. They also experiment with other genres seemingly at random.
  • In part because they played Hardcore Punk when it had still been largely an Unbuilt Trope, Dead Kennedys are an example of this. In some of their songs they display elements of Surf Rock, Rockabilly, Spaghetti Western soundtracks, Psychedelic Rock, and even (occasionally) Progressive Rock. A few later hardcore bands took some of these influences, but very few of them used all of them.
  • Evanescence's genre is notoriously hard to pin down. Are the Alternative Metal, Pop, Alternative Rock, Nu Metal, Goth, or Hard Rock? How about all of them? Or... neither? They've even had Christian Rock and Emo tagged on to them, both of which are ridiculous accusations.
  • In This Moment's sound is hard to describe, especially their later material. Their music is loud, dirty, and abrasive, but are still able to get airplay on rock radio. Genres like Alternative Metal, Industrial Metal, Metalcore, Electronic Music, Gothic Metal, and Nu Metal come together in a blender, and fuse in such a way that it creates a genre that hasn't been classed. It's to the point where The Other Wiki can't agree on what genre to put them in.
  • Hacktivist is known for being very hard to pin down. They're possibly the only band that can fall under separate genres such as Grime, Rap Metal, Djent, and Nu Metal all at once. They also avoid the divisive or outright hated status that's often assigned to bands of the latter three genres, due to the instrumental prowess, the complex rap delivery that completely averts Piss-Take Rap and doesn't feel out of place at all (helped by the fact that they maintain their British accents), and the variety of mature lyrical themes relating to politics, conspiracy theories, corruption, and anarchy.
  • The Acacia Strain mixes elements of metalcore, beatdown hardcore, djent, sludge metal, and death metal into a package that, while accessible, doesn't really fit into any easy stylistic categories. While commonly called deathcore (a label vehemently disputed by Vincent Bennett), they don't really fit into that genre either; the easiest thing to do is just call them metalcore and leave it at that.
  • Gloom mixes elements of death metal, sludge metal, black metal, groove metal, and technical death metal to create something that is very easy to pick up but defies all categorization. The band chalks it up to the fact that all of the members have played in a band that fell into at least one of those genres over the years, and the result was that they all brought a bunch of individual musical preferences to the table that they just played around with and allowed to gel together without letting any one of them take prominence.
  • Space. They're generally classified as an indie / Britpop band, but have dabbled in Hip-Hop (especially on Spiders), Punk Rock, Easy Listening (especially on Tin Planet and Love You More Than Football), Ska, Disco, Spaghetti Western soundtrack-type music, Dark Wave, Synth-Pop (especially on Give Me Your Future), Techno and Indie Rock. Their first three albums also included an instrumental dance track at the end, by keyboardist Franny Griffiths, that sounded nothing like anything else on the album.
  • Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, although written and classified as a cantata, executes as a comic operetta, and is often performed as such; staging, costumes, the whole nine yards.
  • Nashville Pussy mixes elements of hard rock, psychobilly, Southern rock, cowpunk, and hardcore punk and wraps it all up in a sleazy, booze-soaked, Southern-fried package that, while accessible and extremely fun, doesn't really fit into any easy stylistic categories.
  • Bubblegum Octopus utterly defies characterization. Mixing elements of chiptune, cybergrind, Eurobeat, glitch, mathcore, and J-pop, they have used "spazzpop" to define their music with the deliberately stated intent of avoiding genre discussions entirely.
  • Superorganism is rather difficult to pin down. They're best described as "sarcastic psychedelic electronic-tinged indie pop with a focus on millennial culture". They make use of everything from synths, guitars, samples, splicing, vocal alteration and sound effects, often combining multiple elements in the same song.
  • Warforged is notoriously difficult to specifically categorize due to the way that they mix elements of technical death metal, black metal, dissonant death metal, post-metal, and progressive metal. The band themselves have lampshaded it, jokingly referring to themselves as "post-progressive blackened technical death djent metal".
  • Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers are influenced by Emo Music and Hip-Hop, but don't sound very much like either. Frontman Hobo's not-really-rapping sounds more like spoken word poetry than anything musical, and the songs lack conventional song structure or even rhyme but still manage to be catchy. He's backed by a traditional analogue rock band (guitar, piano, bass, drums) that plays vaguely hip-hop riffs while generally eschewing basic hip hop tropes like sampling.
  • Nero di Marte utterly spurns genre labels. A mix of dissonant death metal and mathcore guitar work with prominent post-rock and experimental prog elements, freeform drumming, and a vocal approach that is clearly death metal-influenced but is also cleanly sung, Nero di Marte has a very specific sound that cannot be captured by even the most general labels.
  • Lingua Ignota (the musical handle of Kristin Hayter) blends harsh noise, power electronics, death industrial, modernist classical, neoclassical, opera, black metal, and drone doom metal with a lyrical approach that is inspired by the often-shocking imagery of death metal and also by an acknowledgment of calmer healing techniques for abuse victims and a summary rejection thereof in favor of emphasizing the rage, despair, and hatred that also came with the abuse. Hayter herself struggles to describe the genre, but has also expressed apathy towards actually labeling her music.
  • Billy Joel veers everywhere in his creativity. His core style is identifiable as "piano-based rock 'n' roll", but only in the same sense as space is "big". Beyond that, he has composed songs in styles ranging from modern funk, to Aaron Copland-influenced neo-Americana, to rap (though his rap song was never recorded, but instead reworked into "We Didn't Start The Fire") to folk, to an honest to god late-Romantic Classical album.
  • Thundercat mixes elements of jazz, hip-hop, soul, synth-funk, yacht rock, funk, and psychedelic rock into a smooth and cohesive sound that nonetheless defies easy labels.
  • Arca's music has drawn from everything from Reggaeton, Industrial, Ambient, IDM, Latin American folk music, and Art Pop among other things, but even that doesn't help describe how strange her sound design is. Her style even seems to change from album to album. Xen is mostly glitchy beats over ambient pieces, Mutant is a heavy, formless industrial thing, Her self titled has operatic vocals, and KiCK i is basically deconstructed reggaeton.
  • Russian singer Elvira T's music has drawn from pop, hip-hop, R&B, pop-rock, pop-punk, dance, and even folk. Many of her songs are more or less impossible to pin to one genre.
  • Disco Inferno are very difficult to pin down. On the one hand, you could call their music rock due to the presence of electric guitars, but they're not used in any conventional "rock" fashion, and most of those are actually Sampled Up anyway. Their sound features a lot of glitchy electronic sounds, field recordings, and vocals which alternate between spoken word and post-punk style singing. Most critics lump them in with the first wave of Post Rock, which doesn't help matters considering that also includes slow, brooding Post Hardcore (Slint) and jazz fusion with art rock and ambient elements (Talk Talk), neither of which sound anything like DI.
  • Jimi Hendrix: As a black bandleader with (frequently) white sidemen, schooled in blues and R&B and soul but playing rock and constantly reinventing his own music, Hendrix's entire career was about this.
  • Starset's music falls under hard rock. However, what specific rock genre they are is hard to define due to the presence of electronics, the common elements in rock/metal (guitar, bass, and drums), and symphonics. A majority of their songs also come with extended outros that vary from orchestral instrumentals, audio portrayals of an active scene, or symbolic sequences that reference the next track. The band's frontman, Dustin Bates, cites that their music falls under the label of cinematic rock with the basis of how a blockbuster movie would sound like if a melody based rock band was its composer. Given that they also have a good deal of worldbuilding behind the narrative that surrounds them, it is understandable why the cinematic rock label can apply.
  • German band Disbelief is generally labeled as death metal (including by the group themselves) but their sound is extremely unorthodox to the point that it's extremely difficult to definitively classify them. Metal Archives also lists sludge metal and thrash metal as big components of their sound, but even those don't fully expand their description, as they've also incorporated elements of gothic metal, post-rock, nu metal, groove metal, alternative metal, ambient, and possibly even a few more styles.

  • This trope was featured in Episode 4 of the TV Tropes podcast On the Tropes.
  • 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.
  • Being a D&D RPG podcast, The Adventure Zone: Balance starts out predictably high fantasy, but by the second arc, robots, elevators, and a secret moon base give it some distinct sci-fi elements.

  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
    • D&D is the Trope Maker or Trope Codifier for so many mechanics in games that its influence in modern games almost can't be exaggerated. However, it also repeatedly busted its own genre in terms of setting. Early D&D was often associated with very Tolkien-esque fantasy, usually by those who neither read their Tolkien to realize he wrote plenty of very dark fantasy with many of the Darker and Edgier themes usually credited to more current authors (see The Children of Húrin for a discussion), nor those who know their D&D history.
      • City-states caught in a Crapsack World of realpolitik which deconstructs the Shining City, full of anti-heroes? You're looking at Greyhawk.
      • Perhaps you'd like to do some mix of body horror, gothic horror, religious horror, and cosmic horror? Maybe innovate with dark ideas like having the player characters murdered by dopplegangers and replaced until they can't trust each other or die in terrible ways and be forced to rise as the living dead? Ravenloft has been doing this since 1983.
      • Want to take Space Is an Ocean to its logical extreme and sail pirate ships through space on winds of magic so you can have a Planetary Romance fantasy RPG? Spelljammer did it in 1989.
      • In 1991, Dark Sun did a dying Death World drained of life by magic, forsaken by the gods, and made it such a Crapsack World, the halflings went cannibal and will eat you.
      • Perhaps a snarky Deconstruction using a Victorian steampunk aesthetic, allowing you to jump through a multiverse where All Myths Are True and Gods Need Prayer Badly, where the celestial beings are usually on the verge of being a Fallen Angel, using a City of Adventure which is what would happen if Dickensian London was overrun by the Fantasy Kitchen Sink as a vehicle for inter-dimensional travel? Planescape, 1994.
      • To heck with it; make each Player Character a dragon instead of an adventurer and entangle them in ancient rivalries and conflicts between their fellow dragon breeds in a democracy that runs a little like the Roman Senate? Council of Wyrms, also 1994.
      • And many more, as detailed by The Other Wiki.
  • The obscure game Lords of Creation was devised with this in mind. Not just in being designed to simulate any genre and setting, but actively being intended to have the characters travel to any time period, any fantastic location, on a regular basis, meeting anybody from space rangers to ghosts and dragons to Thor and Hercules. The introductory adventure has the players solving a murder mystery involving a coven of witches where they meet Carl Kolchak, pursue the mastermind into the Bermuda Triangle and find a magic relic to escape the Wild Hunt with help from Cyrano de Bergerac. Ultimately they help a human uprising overthrow a robot dictatorship and save a god from a trap laid by another god. If play runs for long enough players are meant to ascend to godhood and create pocket universes for the other PCs to have new adventures in, letting a single campaign have multiple gamemasters and even more crazy jaunts across space and time.
  • 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.
  • Space 1889: Science fiction in the past. Retro-science fiction (id est science fiction the way the first science fiction writers did it). Alternate history with alternate natural laws. One of the first examples of steampunk.

  • 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 is 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 Villain 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.
  • 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.
  • Tamburlaine announced itself as a tragedy right from the prologue ("View but his picture in this tragic glass..."), leading the audience to expect that it would end with Tamburlaine's downfall, especially as it went on to hit all the other notes of tragedy (a man achieving greatness, giving in to excessive ambition and pride to the point that he mocks the gods, etc. The fact that it doesn't is considered to be one of the reasons for its immediate popularity; audiences of the time were wowed by the novelty of a "tragedy" busting out of its genre and not ending in tragedy after all.
  • Hamilton has this music-wise. As is well-known, the soundtrack is heavily influenced by Hip-Hop and Rap and many songs fit cleanly into one or the other of those genres, but there are many others mixed in as well: quite a few are more typical showtunes or Pop songs, "Helpless" is classic 90s style R&B, "What'd I Miss?" is Jazz, and King George's songs pay very clear homage to The Beatles. The crowning glory, however, is "The Room Where It Happened", which Genius describes thus:
    Musically and theatrically, this song packs a wider array of influences than any other number in the show (and possibly any other number in Broadway history). On top of hip-hop and Broadway big band sounds, there are also echoes of minstrel shows (notably from the banjo), vaudeville comedy (“Mister Secretary!”/“Mister Burr, sir!” and “Two Virginians and an immigrant walk into a bar…”); Cab Calloway Cotton-Club raveups (heard especially in Burr’s ad lib “whoa’s” near the end), even industrial and New Wave music (the uniquely metallic clanks in the rhythm track bring to mind Kraftwerk, and the off-kilter chords and mournful textures in the verses recall art rockers from Depeche Mode to Frank Ocean). In a fun coincidence, the bass line in the ecstatic homestretch is slightly reminiscent of “Let’s Get It Started” by The Black Eyed Peas — which itself cleverly used a jazzy walking line to suggest bebop and jazz in a hip-hop context. The musical timbres and textures themselves are much more varied than in any other song in the show—on top of the banjo there’s echoey piano, bringing to mind both ragtime and the reverb of horror movies; vibraphone, recalling both 60’s spy movies and John Williams' slinky score for the film Catch Me If You Can; and that sampled, processed fanfare, which amazingly for a Broadway show is one of the only moments of brass in the entire show. Thus, Burr marries together elements of many different performance genres in a way that embodies his slithery character. [...] Another through-line: in the ensemble sections, combining dark minor or blues chords with a soulful choir leads the song to feel more like a Gospel song than any other in the show. You can hear echoes of spirituals, ragtime and even Civil War era work songs and chants. The harmonies, rhythm, execution and even choreography bring to mind the Leading Player’s tunes in Pippin, and other showstopper moments from Ain’t Misbehavin' to Gospel Of Colonus. [...] And you can dance to it!
  • Euripides's Alcestis was placed by him in the Athenian competition as the slot for the Satyr Play but is a Tragedy that blends elements of both satyr, comedy and Tragedy with a bitter and Black Comedy tone.

  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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. And the fact that it's actually a platformer.
  • Pikmin is a Real-Time Strategy action-adventure puzzle game, all at the same time. Pikmin 2 adds Dungeon Crawling elements into the mix too.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Foxhole calls itself a "persistent world warfare MMO", where everything is done by the players: logistics, building and supplying the frontlines are part of the game as much of driving tanks and shooting. Every rifle, bullet, truck, sandbag and foxhole is player-made. It takes the social aspects from an sandbox MMORPG, like EVE Online, the "massive dynamic war" from PlanetSide, isometric top-down shooting from Running With Rifles and also has the logistics and supply system coming from the RTS genre.
  • Persona 3, it's an RPG Urban Fantasy about saving the world and the true self and romance and horror and psychology and resolutions and with dating sim mechanics, plus creating new Personas by mix-and-match / recipe mechanics. It became so popular that it spawned two major sequels, numerous spin-offs, and inspired other games such as Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars.
    • Add in the Point-and-click / Visual Novel genres of the Portable release for the PSP, and it further complicates the list.
  • Persona 5 Strikers is a sequel to Persona 5, with the dating/life sim mechanics and Persona fusing system intact, but with one key difference: dungeon exploration and battles no longer play out like a turn-based JRPG, but as a real-time hack-n-slash ala Dynasty Warriors. And even then the game diverges heavily from Dynasty Warriors thanks to its emphasis on ambushing enemies through platforming coupled with stealth like the original game. Instead of focusing on taking out large nmbers of enemies on the map, players are encouraged more to explore and dungeon crawl, all the while strategizing in how they're going to take out the enemies weaknesses which makes its combat more in line with the Raidou Kuzunoha games, another sister spin off to Megaten like Persona.
  • From a gameplay perspective, Phantasy Star I is an Eastern RPG through-and-through. As far as settings go, on the other hand, it is dissimilar to other Medieval European Fantasy-inspired games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, being on of the JRPG genre's first examples of Science Fantasy with dragons, magic, and ancient evils coexisting with robots, starships, and alien worlds.
  • Pokémon:
    • 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.
    • Pokémon Stadium is rather difficult to classify. If one were to take an Eastern RPG, but remove everything except for the turn-based battles, can it still be called an RPG? If not, just what is it? Strategy might be the closest genre that fits, but even that doesn't quite feel right.
    • Pokémon Snap plays like a rail shooter, but instead you're taking pictures of Pokémon in their natural habitat. You only have limited ability to influence the environment outside your ZERO-ONE, including throwing bait, throwing gas-filled "Pester Balls", and playing a Poké flute.
  • 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 has several frightening elements, but doesn't really focus on scaring the player, so it isn't really a horror game. It's an exploration game... which is too vague a term to really call its own genre and assume people know what you mean a lot of the time. It's an adventure game... with a lot of wandering in-between. 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 a 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.
  • Brütal 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.
  • Revengers of Vengeance, a very obscure Sega CD game, is primarily a fighting game, but also features a story mode that combines elements of RPGs and vertical shoot-em-ups.
  • Sa Ga Frontier is a JRPG unlike many others, even amongst other entries in the SaGa (RPG) series. While the basics of navigating the game's worlds and combat are consistent with other JRPGs, character progression is more reliant on random chance as characters gain stats at random after battle and learn new techniques during combat. The particulars of how the game plays out also vary between protagonists, with some being more open-ended and others more linear. The setting, itself, defies simple classification, taking place across multiple "regions" that vary between medieval fantasy, contemporary, and science fiction locales.
  • 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.
  • Monster Rancher is a Mons series, not unlike Pokémon, and yet it is very much unlike its contemporaries: instead of going out into the world because you Gotta Catch 'Em All, you're presented with a raising simulation wherein you take care of a monster while training it for battles. Said battles are played out in semi-realtime instead of through a strictly turn-based format. The method of collecting monsters was also unlike any other Mons game: by inserting different discs into your Playstation console while playing the game (including music CDs, other games, and movies), the game would use the data from the disc as a seed to create a new monster. Also unlike other Mons games, Monster Rancher is not only merciless, but your monsters can actually die.
  • 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 stoppingnote . 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 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 (MOBAs) 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.
  • Crypt of the NecroDancer is a roguelike that plays as a cross between The Legend of Zelda, DanceDanceRevolution, and Dark Souls.
  • Rune Factory is what happens when a Story of Seasons-inspired farm-raising sim meets an Action RPG Dungeon Crawler, and the two fall in love and have a baby. The first two games in the series even have the subtitle "A Fantasy Harvest Moon".
  • Making games like this is Arcen Games' hat.
  • Devil's Third is a Third-Person Shooter and a Hack and Slash game with a sprinkle of Beat 'em Up as well. The player character is capable of changing from third-person shooter gameplay to Ninja Gaiden-style swordplay in an instant and deal with foes both up close and at range (plus using Good Old Fisticuffs as well).
  • In keeping with Simogo's motto of not making games of a specific genre if doing so would impede the gaming experience itself, Year Walk can most accurately be described as a point-and-click first-person Survival Horror and adventure iOS side-scroller puzzle game.
  • Is One Finger Death Punch a Beat 'em Up? Or a Rhythm Game? Or both?
  • Asura's Wrath:
    • Along with traditional Beat 'em Up gameplay, there are Rail Shooter elements as well.
    • Other elements of this include that there are no Action RPG elements like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta have, (like getting new weapons or collecting stuff like a Heart Container), nor is there a upgrade of stats. Asura's stats instead change depending on the episode.
    • One can also add in Fighting Game thanks to a coming DLC that pits Asura against Ryu, complete with the health bar, super gauge and Ultra gauge from Street Fighter IV (although in Asura's case, the latter two are replaced by his Burst and Unlimited Mode Gauges).
    • A review has pointed out that while this might not really be considered a "game," but as a multimedia experience, it is a memorable one.
  • Assassin's Creed combines Historical Fiction, Conspiracy Thriller and Science Fiction with some elements of fantasy and also features stealth and action gameplay. Since the release of Origins, the series is also a hack-and-slash Western RPG.
  • Guilty Gear 2: Overture is part hack-and-slash and part single-player "massive online battle arena" (think League of Legends, which came out the same year) with a button to give the player characters race car controls, and a separate screen to control your MOBA units with a real-time strategy interface. Keep in mind the rest of the franchise is your bog-standard Fighting Game series.
  • Deciphering Knights in the Nightmare's gameplay is a puzzle in itself. It looks like an isometric Strategy RPG, but combat happens in real-time. You don't directly control your mostly immobile units, you control a spirit that guides them. To make them attack, you hold onto them to charge up their attack and release it when enemies get within range. Enemies drop Mana crystals when they're damaged, which are used for special attacks that you use by giving them weapons. Regular attacks deal pitiful damage, so special attacks are essential in defeating them. You also have to switch between Law and Chaos alignments regularly as spending too much time in one reduces your MP gain, and said alignments also change your characters' attacks and effectiveness. Oh, you also have to dodge bullets with your spirit while doing all this, because taking damage will reduce your timer for the turn, and you only have a limited number of turns available to clear the stage. How do you win a stage? It's not enough to just kill all enemies, you have to play slots between every turn to determine what enemies spawn and defeat those of enemies until you clear a row on the board. This is not even getting into inner mechanics like elements, crafting, leveling, and the loads and loads of Guide Dang It! hidden secrets. You can read its 40+ chapter long in-game manual and still not understand how the game works.
  • Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure: a blend of graffiti mini-games, combo-based brawling, Prince of Persia-style platforming, a bit of stealth and Experience Points thrown in for good measure.
  • Dungeon of the Endless is part Roguelike, part Real-Time Strategy, part Turn-Based Strategy, and part Tower Defense. This video sums it up quite nicely.
  • Pixel Junk Nom Nom Galaxy is an odd game that combines elements of tower defense, business simulation, and farming, all layed with a Terraria-style sandbox-survival gameplay.
  • In terms of gameplay, Kingdom Hearts is a pretty standard hack and slash action-RPG (though Chain of Memories did include some kind of weird card game system on top of it somehow), but in terms of plot it's as genre defying as it is confusing. The hero travels through multiple worlds on a spaceship visiting and helping the local populace which sounds like basic sci-fi, but he also knows magic and wields a giant key like a sword. There's no advance technology despite the spaceship except when there is like in the TRON worlds. Artificial life is present and is created both via science and magic. It doesn't just stop at science fantasy though. The hero fights the evil in peoples hearts which can manifest as cute little creatures a foot tall, to complete eldritch abominations, to weird armored...things? There's some solid horror present with the sort of things that can be done to a person in this universe. Some games end in "The Power of Friendship conquers all" style plots while others are absolute tragedies. Given the fact that by very concept the story is about following the plot of multiple Disney movies it inevitably is going to pull from a very wide range of themes, genres and aesthetics leaving one with something that doesn't seem to fit into any category even when it uses completely original characters and settings.
  • Spore mashes together multiple gameplay styles under a God Game umbrella, divided into five "stages" representing the evolution of a planet's species from simple invertibrate lifeforms in a primordial stew to star-spanning empires:
    • The Cell Stage is the simplest, with players tasked with eating to gather DNA points which are redeemed for new body parts to better defend oneself, navigate the primordial pool, and survive. The closest analogue would be Pac-Man.
    • The Creature Stage is a continuation of the Cell Stage, but with the player's creature now evolved enough to walk on land and form familial packs. With the gameplay now taking on a more Action RPG slant, players are tasked with either befriending or wiping out other species while continuing to evolve.
    • At the Tribal Stage, the body structure of the player's species is locked in as the game becomes a Real-Time Strategy wherein the player is tasked with maintaining their newly-sentient tribe's food stores while either uniting or conquering other tribes on the continent.
    • The Civilization Stage is a continuation of the Tribal Stage, with the player's tribe now founding a modern city, and the objective becoming to conquer the rest of the planet through financial, religious, or military means.
    • The Space Stage is the last stage, but the biggest and most expansive: with a spaceship now under the player's control, the entire galaxy opens up into a Wide-Open Sandbox as players navigate the cosmos, colonize other worlds, and unite with (or conquer) other space-faring civilizations.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: In this game you play a poltergeist taking revenge by scaring a family out of four houses. With its unique gameplay it barely fits into an established genre. Mostly it's classified as action game, sometimes action adventure or even a simulation game.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: While the story and setting have firm roots in classic Eastern RPG, it's much harder to classify its gameplay because it's so heavily inspired by western RPGs and MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft and has a similar "explore and make sidequests" appeal to Bethesda as well as very large areas to explore, more rarely seen in Eastern games.
  • Like its predecessors Ys SEVEN and Ys: Memories of Celceta, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is an Action RPG, but wider in scope thanks to its Wide-Open Sandbox premise. However, "Interception" battles are really a Tower Defense mini-game, where players must defend fortifications against waves of invading enemies, while "Suppression" battles use the inverse - players attacking fortified enemy strongholds.
  • We Happy Few is a First-Person Shooter minus the shooting, with elements of survival horror and stealth action cobbled together with copious amounts of drug-fuelled Mind Screw peppered with cockney British slang and alternate history.
  • Skyrim Pinball is exactly what it sounds like; An open-world RPG pinball table where you travel Tamriel, battle enemies, complete sidequests, explore dungeons, improve skills to level up, and craft items with loot by hitting a silver ball into the correct shots for whatever you're trying to do. Progress is saved between play sessions, complete with e condensed version of Skyrim's main questline to go through in the form of different modes.
  • Soulcalibur VI has the Libra of Soul mode. It's an RPG with all aspects you would expect like currency, branching paths, side quests, an alignment system, a party system, and of course a Virtual Paper Doll as a protagonist. However, this is built on top of a fighting game engine, which means you'll be playing a fighting game as much as you will be taking part in the RPG itself.
  • UNSIGHTED is a Metroidvania, albeit played from an overhead perspective instead of as a side-scroller, with Souls-like RPG combat.
  • Mary Skelter: Nightmares is a Dungeon Crawling RPG game but with a spice of Cosmic Horror Story, Dark Fantasy, Lighthearted Harem Story, Visual Novel and Science Fiction into the mix.
  • 90s-era British-developed licensed games (such as the SNES Toy Story and Back to the Future Part III and the infamous Amiga version of AKIRA) are famed for having constant Genre Shifts in every level, making it hard to pin down what the actual defining genre of the game is.
  • AI Dungeon 2 is an procedurally generated Sandbox Text Adventure that allows players to play in any genre of fiction they choose, although Fantasy is the default.
  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was poorly marketed as a straightforward Viking-themed hack-and-slash action game. While it does have its fair share of brutal combat, it has just as many (if not more) elements of Walking Simulator and environmental puzzle game, with a heavy focus on psychological horror and an extensive examination of insanity through the utterly mad protagonist Senua and the litany of voices she hears and storm of hallucinations she has to fight off (sometimes literally).
  • The Riftbreaker combines elements of at least half a dozen different genres. The most prominent being Tower Defense, Real-Time Strategy and Construction and Management Games. However, it also includes Hack and Slash with twin-stick shooter mechanics and Survival Sandbox mechanics.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequels incorporate elements from stealth, beat-'em-up, RPG, survival horror, and Metroidvania games, not to mention the rhythm game style of combat.

    Visual Novels 
  • Is Umineko: When They Cry a mystery or a fantasy? Neither! It's more of a fantastical romantic mystery with a tinge of horror and Jungian-psychological elements.
  • 07th Expansion's next big work Rose Guns Days is part Film Noir, part slice-of-life, part political drama, and part… something. While it is far from the Mind Screwy Deconstructor Fleet Umineko was, the work is still hard to classify, especially considering its rather schizophrenic tone − sometimes light-hearted, sometimes dark and cynical… in some cases in the same scene.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc 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 later 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.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair takes all this, adds a snowboarding-esque minigame to the pool of trial minigames (don't ask; it's weird even for Danganronpa), and then adds on top of all the plot elements from the previous game everything in the game taking place in a VR simulation.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony only adds more onto this, now with even more sci-fi elements, including one of the students being a Ridiculously Human Robot, mech suits, anti-gravity technology, a plan to save mankind Gone Horribly Wrong, along with murders and executions that wouldn't be out of place in a horror game. And the ending that reveals the whole thing is just a Deadly Game Show, exploring the relationship between truth and lies, how fiction can influence the real world, identity, the value of fictional accomplishments, and questioning just how much we can trust what we've been told throughout the story.
  • TRianThology ~Sanmenkyou no Kuni no Alice~ is fantasy, but at the same time science-fiction. And at the same time, an angsty coming-of-age drama, with romance thrown in, with added horror for good measure. The discrepancy is enhanced by the fact that three story-writers, three illustrators and multiple composers (most of them allotted to a certain theme of the novel respectively) have participated in TRT's creation.

  • 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.
  • 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 Clarke'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.
  • Tower of God: Modern Fantasy, mystery Shounen tournament, a maturity more commonly seen in seinen works, aspects of a political drama, mind game series and a declaration by the author that every season will be another genre along with affectionate parodies of those genres (you know, when all the death, betrayal and broken dreams get a little too hard on you).
  • Joseph & Yusra: It's a Slice of life romantic comedy thriller supernatural war story.

    Web Original 
  • The Solstice War is nominally "Military Fiction," but it also has the trappings of dieselpunk, epic fantasy, alternate history, period romance, queer fiction, and even anime.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • 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 Legend of Korra is generally described along the lines of "Urban Fantasy mixed with action genre", or "a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender several decades down the timeline". But, it is rare for urban fantasy to be set in a full-blown Constructed World, and only in the first season the show's actually confined to an urban environment. The overall aesthetic and background details resemble Diesel Punk, but unlike for (what currently passes for) the genre standards, the centrality of the supernatural element moves it at least as close to Dungeon Punk. And as a Sequel Series, it retains the Supernatural Martial Arts and messianic hero as crucial parts of the franchise, in spite of them better suited for the old epic fantasy format. Altogether, the series could qualify as honorary member of New Weird movement, but even then breaking the stale genre conventions wasn't ever the point — which leads us back to defining its genre by its relation to the original series.
  • Steven Universe is a super hero show as the Crystal Gems protect humanity from monsters with unique powers and weapons that have a well-defined system, many themes and fantasy elements give it a Magical Girl flavor while not specifically conforming to genre standards as technically none of the Gems are what you'd call girls and don't transform from a mundane form. Over its course, its elements gradually shift from magic to science fiction as the main story unravels and the Gems are shown to be more technological than faelike. It's a romance story as emotional bonds between characters are a core theme of the show with Pearl and Greg's love for Rose Quartz, the fusion between Ruby and Sapphire, and Steven and Connie's mutual attraction shape many events of the series. It's also a lighthearted comedy with many surreal and silly moments with a lot of character-based humor, that is when it's not a dark drama with a disproportionate amount of Body Horror and psychological complexity with flashbacks to a war story set within a Space Opera setting. The show dedicates many episodes to cute Slice of Life situations that sometimes disguise a complex backstory and mystery about Rose's secrecy and past. So it's a comedic, Animesque Slice of Life romantic dark horror Coming of Age Story as the Magical Boy protagonist protects the Earth against aliens that frequently include musical numbers and sexual themes.
  • Futurama, labeled at one point by [adult swim] as "The action-comedy-scifi-drama that redefined action-comedy-scifi-dramas."
  • Centaurworld is like the western version of Cowboy Bebop in this regard. There are two different dimensions in the series with wildly different tones, thus combining action and adventure with comedy and drama. The centaur lore also makes it a fantasy series. Oh, and it's a musical.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Genre Buster


Star Wars

MatPat brings up how Star Wars mashes up a whole lot of genres throughout its franchise of movies, cartoons, and shows.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / GenreBusting

Media sources: