Coming-of-age story

In genre studies, a coming-of-age story is a genre of literature, film, and video 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

In film and television

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 (1955–59), Les 400 Coups (1959), Oliver! (1968), American Graffiti (1973), Breaking Away (1979), The Last American Virgin (1982), Fandango (1985), Mischief (1985), The Breakfast Club (1985), Stand by Me (1986), Empire of the Sun (1987), Stealing Home (1988), Mermaids (1990), Flirting (1991), Dazed and Confused (1993), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Y Tu Mamá También (2001), Spirited Away (2001), the Harry Potter series (2001–11), The Motorcycle Diaries (2003), Lakshya (2004), Juno (2007), The Reader (2008), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Spectacular Now (2013), The Kings of Summer (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), Moonlight (2016), The Edge of Seventeen (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), It (2017), Call Me by Your Name (2017), Lady Bird (2017), Love, Simon (2018), Eighth Grade (2018), To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), and Bumblebee (2018).

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

Coming-of-age television series include Happy Days (1974–84),[5] the Degrassi franchise (1979–present), The Wonder Years (1988–93),[5] Boy Meets World (1993–2000), Daria (1997–2001), Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000), Skins (2007–13), Glee (2009–15), Teen Wolf (2011–17), Steven Universe (2013–present), Over the Garden Wall (2014), Girl Meets World (2014–17), Skam (2015–17), Stranger Things (2016–present), 13 Reasons Why (2017–present), One Day at a Time (2017–19), On My Block (2018–present), SKAM Austin (2018–present), and Sex Education (2019–present)

In video games

In video gaming, whilst this subgenre is not represented as well as other mediums, there are various video games that can be classified as coming-of-age stories such as: Life Is Strange, Life is Strange 2 and Tomb Raider (2013). It should also be mentioned that these types of stories are found more in Japanese computer role-playing games such as the Persona (series).


  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.
A Bronx Tale

A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American crime drama film adapted from Chazz Palminteri's 1989 play of the same name. It tells the coming of age story of an Italian-American boy, Calogero Anello, who, after encountering a local Mafia boss, is torn between the temptations of organized crime, racism in his community, and the values of his honest, hardworking father. The Broadway production was converted to film with limited changes, and starred Palminteri and Robert De Niro.

De Niro, who first viewed the play in Los Angeles in 1990, acquired the rights from Palminteri, intent on making the play his directorial debut. The duo then worked heavily together on the screenplay, with Palminteri aiming to retain many of the aspects of the original script, as it was based largely on his own childhood. Production began in 1991, and was funded in collaboration with De Niro's TriBeCa Productions and Savoy Pictures, as the first film released by each studio.

Upon its release on September 29, A Bronx Tale achieved limited commercial success, grossing over $17 million domestically. However, it fared much better with critics, who praised the performances of the leads, and launched Palminteri's acting career, while also helping De Niro gain acceptance as a director.

Beyond the Sun (novel)

Beyond the Sun is a novel by Matt Jones featuring the fictional archaeologist Bernice Summerfield, his second for the Virgin New Adventures. The New Adventures were a spin-off from the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The book is, in part, a coming-of-age story for the character of Emile as he comes to terms with his sexuality. Emile would later re-appear in subsequent New Adventures.


In literary criticism, a Bildungsroman (German pronunciation: [ˈbɪldʊŋs.ʁoˌmaːn]; "bildung", meaning "education", and "roman", meaning "novel"; English: "novel of formation, education, culture"; "coming-of-age story") is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood (coming of age), in which character change is important.

City of Thieves (novel)

City of Thieves is a 2008 historical fiction novel by David Benioff. It is, in part, a coming of age story set in the World War II Siege of Leningrad. It follows the adventures of two youths as they desperately search for a dozen eggs at the behest of a Soviet NKVD officer, a task which takes them far behind enemy lines.

Detroit Rock City (film)

Detroit Rock City is a 1999 American comedy film directed by Adam Rifkin and written by Carl V. Dupré. It tells of four teenage boys in a Kiss tribute band who try to see their idols in concert in Detroit in 1978. Comparable to Rock 'n' Roll High School, Dazed and Confused, The Stöned Age, and I Wanna Hold Your Hand, it tells a coming-of-age story through a filter of 1970s music and culture in the United States. It took its title from the Kiss song of the same title.

The film was shot at Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Toronto and other Ontario locations including Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

Do You Remember Dolly Bell?

Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (Serbo-Croatian: Sjećaš li se Doli Bel?), filmed in 1981, is the first feature film directed by Emir Kusturica. It is a coming of age story. The film was selected as the Yugoslav entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 54th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

Father (1966 film)

Father (Hungarian: Apa) is a 1966 Hungarian drama film written and directed by István Szabó. The film is a coming of age story. The main character copes with his childhood loss of his father against the backdrop of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and memories of the Arrow Cross dictatorship.

First Warning (novel)

First Warning (2005) is a science fantasy novel by American writers Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. It is the first book in the trilogy Acorna's Children, which is part of the Acorna Universe series that McCaffrey and Margaret Ball initiated in Acorna: The Unicorn Girl (1997).First Warning chronicles the adventures of Khorii. She is the daughter of Acorna and Aari, main characters in the earlier books. It is a coming-of-age story in a sense, and as Khorii ages she learns to use the telepathic powers that are characteristic of all her people, the Linyaari.

I Grew Up in Princeton

I Grew Up in Princeton is an independent documentary film directed by Brad Mays, and produced by Lorenda Starfelt at LightSong Films in North Hollywood, California. The film had its festival debut at the New Jersey International Film Festival on June 14, 2014 and was followed by another screening at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival on June 28, 2014.


Inocente is a 2012 short documentary film directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix. The film received the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). The film is an inspiring coming-of-age story of a 15-year-old girl in California. Though homeless and undocumented, she refuses to give up on her dream of being an artist, proving that the hand she has been dealt does not define her – her dreams do.

The film was partially financed by the crowd funding website Kickstarter and was the first crowd funded film to win an Oscar.After being nominated for an Academy Award, the film was released along with all the other 15 Oscar-nominated short films in theaters by ShortsHD. The film is also available for communities and schools along with companion arts workshops developed by Shine Global and partners.

Lady Bird (film)

Lady Bird is a 2017 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith. Set in Sacramento, California, between Fall 2002 and Summer 2003, it is a coming-of-age story of a high-school senior and her turbulent relationship with her mother.

The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on September 1, 2017, and was released in the United States on November 3, 2017, by A24. Critics praised Gerwig's screenplay and direction, and the performances of Ronan and Metcalf. Lady Bird was chosen by the National Board of Review, the American Film Institute, and Time magazine as one of the ten best films of the year. At the 90th Academy Awards, it earned five nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (for Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (for Metcalf), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director. At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, the film won two awards—Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Best Actress (Motion-Picture Musical or Comedy) (for Ronan)—and was nominated for two others. It was also nominated for three British Academy Film Awards.

Lives of Girls and Women

Lives of Girls and Women is a short story cycle by Nobel Prize–winning author Alice Munro, published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson in 1971. All of the stories chronicle the life of a single character, Del Jordan, and the book has been characterized as a novel by some critics as a result.

The cycle serves as a coming of age story for Del Jordan growing up first on the outskirts, and later in the centre, of the small, southern Ontario town of Jubilee. Del is portrayed as something of an outsider, unsatisfied with small town life though unwilling to acknowledge the similarities between herself and her mother who also seeks to expand her mind beyond the limited experiences of Jubilee.

The cycle is often cited as concerning many feminist ideas and it is in this context that the text deals primarily with female characters, with only a few male figures playing important roles.A television adaptation of the book, starring Tanya Allen as Del and Wendy Crewson as her mother Ada, aired on CBC Television in 1994.

Masoom (1983 film)

Masoom (lit. The Innocent) is a 1983 Indian drama film and directorial debut of critically acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. It was an adaptation of 1980 novel Man, Woman and Child by Erich Segal which had earlier been adapted into a 1982 Malayalam movie Olangal and a 1983 American movie Man, Woman and Child. the film is a coming-of-age story starring Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in lead roles along with Tanuja, Supriya Pathak and Saeed Jaffrey. It features Jugal Hansraj, Aradhana and Urmila Matondkar as child actors. The screenplay, dialogues and lyrics are by Gulzar with music by R.D. Burman. The film was remade in Telugu as Illalu Priyuralu.

Maya (1966 film)

Maya is a 1966 American drama in Metrocolor and Panavision, the coming of age story of a young man in the jungles of India. It was directed by John Berry and starred Clint Walker, Jay North, and Sajid Khan.

My Girl (film)

My Girl is a 1991 American comedy-drama film directed by Howard Zieff, written by Laurice Elehwany, starring Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin, and Anna Chlumsky in her feature debut. It is a coming-of-age story of a young girl who faces many different emotional highs and lows during the summer of 1972 in suburban Pennsylvania.

A book based on the script was written by Patricia Hermes in 1991. The film's sequel, My Girl 2, was released in 1994.

Rodney Stone

Rodney Stone is a Gothic mystery and boxing novel by Scottish writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first published in 1896.

The eponymous narrator is a Sussex country boy who is taken to London by his uncle Sir Charles Tregellis, a highly respected gentleman and arbiter of fashion who is on familiar terms with the most important people of Great Britain. The novel interweaves Rodney's coming-of-age story with that of his friend Boy Jim's boxing endeavors, and a large portion of it deals with the famous bare-knuckle boxers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such as Jem Belcher, John Jackson, Daniel Mendoza, Dutch Sam, and others. The book includes vignettes of a number of historical personages, notably the Prince Regent, Lord Nelson, Sir John Lade, Lord Cochrane and Beau Brummell.

It was adapted into a 1913 silent film, The House of Temperley, directed by Harold M. Shaw.

Rúnar Rúnarsson

Rúnar Rúnarsson (born January 20, 1977 in Reykjavík) is an Icelandic screenwriter and director. Films for which he is credited as both writer and director include the feature film Volcano and the short films Anna, Two Birds, and The Last Farm. His second feature, Sparrows, is a coming-of-age story that was released in 2015.

Sean Patrick Flanery

Sean Patrick Flanery (born October 11, 1965) is an American actor, author and martial artist. He is known for playing Connor MacManus in The Boondock Saints (1999) and its sequel The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009), Greg Stillson in the USA Network television series The Dead Zone, Jeremy "Powder" Reed in Powder (1995), Indiana Jones in the ABC television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, as well as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter (2010). He is also known for his role as Sam Gibson on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless in 2011. He starred in Devil's Carnival, a short film which was screened on tour beginning in April, 2012. In 2016, he published his first novel, Jane Two, a coming-of-age story drawing inspiration from his own childhood and early experiences.

The Sound of Waves

The Sound of Waves (潮騒, Shiosai) is a 1954 novel by the Japanese author Yukio Mishima. It is a coming-of-age story of the protagonist Shinji and his romance with Hatsue, the beautiful daughter of the wealthy ship owner Terukichi. For this book Mishima was awarded the Shincho Prize from Shinchosha Publishing in 1954. It has been adapted for film five times.

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