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Supernatural drama

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Title: Supernatural drama  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel (1999 TV series), Joss Whedon, Charmed, Tru Calling, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Century Falls, Fate/stay night, Strange (TV series), Hex (TV series)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Supernatural drama

Supernatural drama is a subgenre of fantasy combining elements of supernatural fiction and the drama genre. This genre deals with ghosts and other paranormal topics, but without the tone and scares associated with the horror genre.[1] The storylines of supernatural dramas have always been centered around magic or unexplained phenomena that cannot be rationalized by science but, rather by pagan or supernatural explanations.

Supernatural dramas may use creatures of folklore that are displayed as neutral or evil rather than creatures of fantasy which are perceived as good natured (such as fairies, leprechauns, or elves). The beings usually seen in supernatural dramas, or rather just the genre of supernatural itself, are apparitions, spirits, witches, warlocks, superhumans, demons, gods, angels and, miracles (although they are not like miracles of fantasy or divine intervention of god/s) and other similar ideas or depictions of extraordinary phenomena.

They may be combined with other genres, including comedy, action, science fiction, fantasy and/or horror. However, until recently, supernatural works were usually presented in a comical, whimsical, or a romantic fashion, and were not designed to frighten the audience. There are also many hybrids that have combinations of fantasy, action, horror, romance and comedy.[2]

In the 20th century, supernatural fiction became associated with psychological fiction. The result is that the supernatural is only one possible explanation for what has been described. A classic example of this would be The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which offers both a supernatural and a psychological interpretation of the events described. The ambiguity is considered to add to the effect.[3] A similar example is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story The Yellow Wallpaper.

Common themes within the genre

In supernatural dramas, there are sometimes the existence of evil forces, and usually there are systems in place to combat the evil forces, such as: within the Buffy universe the existence and creation of the slayers, in the television series Charmed, the three most powerful witches of all time would be born to destroy evil within the universe, or in the television series Supernatural people known as hunters who are although just ordinary people, have knowledge of the supernatural to counter it. Besides that, sometimes there exist communities that have good creatures of the supernatural that co-exist with humans, but without human knowledge of their existence and usually their very existence helps to keep balance in the world and the very universe itself with the abilities they are born with.

Other themes that could exist are ideas such as karma, reincarnation, sin, etc.

Since its inception Ghosts have been the only entity of mythological lore to be able to belong entirely to this genre alone. So if the material involves ghost then it's a major indication that the genre is most likely supernatural in nature.


Another common theme is the fact that with the genre; people have been making material in the genre to incorporate their own romantic fantasies into them and use creatures, not of the human species, to be the one true love of the lead and or supporting characters. This is a common theme in True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and The Twilight Saga. Overall it has been making creatures such as Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, etc., to be viewed as "sexy" and has taken the genre in a less serious direction from what it was and given more of a romantic view and has been more recently utilized as more of a fantasy for people usually aimed at a female audience.


The setting of a supernatural work will, most of the time, be set in the world we live in, unlike fantasy that which sometimes takes place in made up worlds or dimensions, or science fiction which can take place in the future, on other planets, in space, etc. Even when the setting is in a certain time period, for example, the past, the setting will stay historically true to what it was like in that time period.

Good vs. Evil

Due to the nature of the genre it can be hard to capture an audience so, due to that most materials in this genre usually has a battle and or a situation where the core group of characters have to fight against a common foe usually a mythological being on the side of evil or on a regular basis have situations where battles against enemies commonly occur.

Supernatural and related genres

Supernatural and fantasy

Supernatural is not to be confused with fantasy, which, while portraying the use of magic, is written with a lighter tone and communicates good morals rather than using the darker elements of horror. Another indicator that sets supernatural and fantasy apart is that, unlike supernatural, fantasy is a lot more structured while supernatural is not. For instance, when it comes to the use of the mythological creatures that are much more positive in their nature like unicorns, elves, nymphs or angels, the supernatural genre will often switch around their background/mythology to create a more neutral atmosphere.

Wizards and practitioners of magic related to them possibly belong more to fantasy than they do supernatural although they do exist in both genres although in fir supernatural genre their mythology/background are often reworked to fit the genre more appropriately. The Practitioners of magic that belong more to supernatural are usually witches, warlocks, necromancers, priests, priestesses, others that can possibly fit are more less defined practitoners such as summoners, pagans, occultist, monks, or shamans. This is an example of how the two genres often go hand and hand with and boarder each other.

Dark fantasy is also a genre even harder to discern from the supernatural genre but, if taken a closer look the genre is just as structured as fantasy itself usually keeping to as much original mythology as possible depending on the target audience and another indicator is that it tends to mix elements of the fantasy and horror so, it is not the same as supernatural as it lacks the neutrality of the genre as well as the genre's elements. Examples of dark fantasy in mainstream media is Pan's Labyrinth.

Supernatural and horror

It is also not be confused with horror because while Supernatural dramas incorporate horror elements, horror has stories that are consistently dark in purpose more than tone. Still, horror may have a supernatural entity just as long as there is a tone more directed toward scaring the audience or creating a sense of dread or has this suspenseful scary built-up to events that you can be killed or murdered in such a fashion.

Horror also alludes to this suspenseful scary aura that it feels as if something is wrong and terrible. In horror, death and fear are the key elements of the genre where death is always the goal of the genre where the death and the very act of murdering the characters in frightening and often gruesome fashions. The horror genre's purpose is to provoke fear in audiences while supernatural may or may not as it is not the key to the stories being told.

Supernatural crossovers

However, there are times when a works have mixed the genres of supernatural and fantasy and is categorized as both at the same time as it uses elements from both which is an incidence that is extremely common in both genres' histories. Examples of this in recent mainstream American media is the supernatural and fantasy drama television shows Charmed, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess and Ghost Whisperer.

Science fiction and supernatural at times have crossover with each other despite the fact that both genres are on the opposite ends of the speculative fiction genres, but it will usually altogether be another genre known as science fantasy and examples of science fantasy are Fullmetal Alchemist, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Warehouse 13, Light Years. At times it can also be that the two genres in one universe and not be science fantasy, but are in fact two separate forms of common phenomena as in the case of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Smallville, and Lost although in Lost's case early on the show tended to boarder on the paranormal because it was much easier for people to understand the phenomena in such a manner than to see it from a supernatural source and the show does use science fiction material much more than supernatural material and the show's supernatural material was kept so ambiguous that it boarderd on the paranormal. It was not until the introduction of the Man in Black and Jacob that the show was revealed to be supernatural in nature as well as science fiction.

Supernatural genre and media history

The supernatural genre is relatively new, and has only recently been getting popular in the United States. Its popularity has been heavily linked to the launch of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer; after the series many television shows, book series, and films followed as well as adopting the series format. Since Buffy, the genre of supernatural has gained more success due to the common use of two of the most notable creatures in supernatural mythology in many works of fiction, the vampire and to a lesser extent the werewolf, leading to be in such popular films as The Twilight Saga (film series) and television shows such as Teen Wolf, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries.

The supernatural films in the media maybe could've existed as early as the beginning of film back in the 1870s. Most films in American media have usually mixed with the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror, so instead of being acknowledged as supernatural, they are usually just labeled as fantasy, sci-fi and/or horror films. Of course another thing to realize is that fantasy and horror elements are much more emphasized in films.

Supernatural books/writings have been popular since almost the beginning of time when it comes to its relation to the media there are hundreds of thousands of books and book series that are quite popular, such as The Twilight Saga, The Mortal Instruments, The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, Vampire Academy, and many others. The books often feature the same elements of the films, though the films may have a more grand scale.


Television dramas

Television comedies



See also


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