Difference Between Drama and Melodrama

Main Difference – Drama vs Melodrama

Drama and Melodrama are both literary genres. Drama is a broad literary genre that deals with realistic characters and realistic stories. Melodrama, on the other hand, is characterized by exaggerated emotions and situations, and stereotypical characters. Therefore, the main difference between drama and melodrama is that drama depicts realistic characters and focuses on the character development whereas melodrama portrays exaggerated characters stemming from stereotypes.

What is Drama

Drama is a literary genre that presents realistic characters who deal with realistic conflicts or struggles. They are serious stories with settings or situations that portray ordinary characters in conflict with themselves, the society, or forces of nature.

Drama is one of the largest literary genres because it includes a broad range of work. Each of these literary works has different subject-matter themes such as crime drama, legal drama, romantic drama, historical drama, horror drama, melodrama, etc.

Dramatic themes can include current issues, various societal problems, corruption, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, political unrest, class divisions, mental illness, sexual inequality, alcoholism  or other volatile concerns.

Drama is a genre that presents the emotional and relational development of realistic characters in a realistic setting. A dramatic film or a novel portrays an intense character development and relates an honest story of human struggle. The main purpose of a drama is to move the audience emotionally.

Some examples of drama films include Schindler’s List (1993), Fight Club (1999), Forrest Gump (1994), American Beauty (1999), Citizen Kane (1941), Million Dollar Baby (2004) and 12 Years a Slave (2013).Main Difference -Drama vs Melodrama

What is Melodrama

Melodrama is a subgenre of drama, characterized by stereotypical characters, exaggerated emotions, and interpersonal conflicts. A melodrama has an exciting and thrilling plot with many twists and turns and suspense. The characters are overly dramatic and exaggerated and often appear as stereotypes, featuring long-suffering protagonists, especially females attempting in vain to overcome impossible situations.

Melodrama is typically sensational and designed to appeal strongly to the emotions, takes precedence over detailed characterization. The themes of melodrama revolve around tragedy, unrequited love, and loss. Soap operas, telenovelas are some examples of melodramas on TV. ‘Mildred Pierce’ (1945), ‘Now, Voyager’ (1942), ‘Written on the Wind’(1956), are some examples of melodramatic films.

It is important to notice that the term melodrama is nowadays mostly used in a negative sense. The language or behavior which resembles melodrama is often termed as melodramatic; this usage is nearly always derogatory.Difference Between Drama and Melodrama

Difference Between Drama and Melodrama


Drama is a literary genre that presents realistic characters who deal with realistic conflicts or struggles.

Melodrama is a subgenre of drama, characterized by stereotypical characters, exaggerated emotions, and interpersonal conflicts.


Drama portrays realistic characters and focuses on the character development.

Melodrama portrays exaggerated characters stemming from stereotypes; Detailed characterization is not considered to be important.


Dramatic themes include serious social problems such as injustice, inequality, corruption, poverty, etc.

Melodramatic themes revolve around emotional conflict; much of it centered around family and relationships.


Dramas have realistic plots.

Melodramas have sensational and thrilling plots.Difference Between Drama and Melodrama - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Poster for the film Written on the Wind” by Reynold Brown – , (Public Domain) via

“Forrest Gump”by via

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