Coming-of-age story

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

In literature[edit]

In film and television[edit]

In film, coming of age is a genre of teen films. Coming-of-age films focus on the psychological and moral growth or transition of a protagonist from youth to adulthood. Personal growth and change is an important characteristic of this genre, which relies on dialogue and emotional responses, rather than action. The main character is typically male, around mid-teen and the story is often told in the form of a flashback.[1]

Films in this subgenre include Bambi (1942), The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959), Les 400 Coups (1959), Oliver! (1967), American Graffiti (1973), Breaking Away (1979), The Last American Virgin (1982), Mischief (1985), The Breakfast Club (1985), Fandango (1985), Stand by Me (1986), Empire of the Sun (1987), Stealing Home (1988), Mermaids (1990), Dazed and Confused (1993), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Spirited Away (2001), Y Tu Mamá También (2001), The Motorcycle Diaries (2003), Lakshya (2004), Juno (2007), The Reader (2008), the Harry Potter series (2001–2011), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Kings of Summer (2013), The Spectacular Now (2013), Boyhood (2014), which was filmed with the same cast over a period of twelve years, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015), Sleeping Giant (2015), The Edge of Seventeen (2016), Moonlight (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), It (2017), Lady Bird (2017), Call Me by Your Name (2017), Love, Simon (2018), Eighth Grade (2018), To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018).

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

Coming-of-age television series include Happy Days (1974-1984),[5] the Degrassi franchise (1979–present), The Wonder Years (1988-1993),[5] Boy Meets World (1993-2000), Daria (1997-2001), Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000), Skins (2007-2013), Glee (2009-2015), Teen Wolf (2011-2017), Steven Universe (2013–present), Over the Garden Wall (2014), Girl Meets World (2014-2017), Skam (2015-2017), Stranger Things (2016–present), 13 Reasons Why (2017–present), One Day at a Time (2017–present), On My Block (2018–present), and SKAM Austin (2018–present).

In video games[edit]

In video gaming, this subgenre includes Life Is Strange and Tomb Raider (2013).


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