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15 Screenplay Examples From Each Genre to Download for Free

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by Script Reader Pro in Best Screenplays to Read
May 25, 2015 62 comments
screenplay examples

15 Screenplay Examples From Each Genre for You to Download and Study

In this post, we’ve curated just for you three screenplay examples from each of the five major genres: drama, comedy, action/adventure, thriller and horror

Each screenplay example listed below comes in a PDF for easy download and has been carefully chosen by us to represent one of the best examples of a script in that genre.

Study them, absorb their storytelling techniques, soak in how the writer gets you to visualize what’s on the page and apply what you learn to your own screenplays.

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3 Drama Screenplays

American Beauty
by Alan Ball

Pitch perfect drama that mixes moments of hilarious black comedy and won the best screenplay Oscar in 2000. A modern masterpiece of screenwriting from which there is so much to learn, from the writing style to creating an ensemble of conflicted characters.

screenplay examples
Best Screenplays To Read

Good Will Hunting
by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck

What began life as Damon’s final assignment for a playwriting class at Harvard, Good Will Hunting is a remarkable debut for him and co-writer, Ben Affleck.

“Give your protagonist a skill we can admire” is a common piece of advice for screenwriters, and this is one of the great screenplay examples of this being put into action.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Jerry Maguire
by Cameron Crowe

This script earned Crowe an Oscar nomination and it’s easy to see why. Reading this script is a fantastic exercise in learning how to add shade to character, as Crowe effortlessly makes us simultaneously like and dislike the protagonist, Jerry Maguire.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

3 Comedy Screenplays

Election
by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor

Behind Sideways this is probably Payne and Taylor’s greatest screenplay. Writing comedy is all about making your protagonist make the wrong choices due to their flaw, which is something lead character, Jim, does over and over while battling his antagonist, Tracy Flick. One of the very best comedy screenplay examples you’ll find.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Bridesmaids
by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig

Making sure your comedy protagonist is in a hole before the story even starts is always a good strategy, and studying Annie’s character here is a great exercise in how to achieve this.

She’s in her mid-30s, awkward, sleeping with a douche bag who doesn’t respect her, has failed to fulfill her dreams, etc. and this story is exactly what she needs to get out of her slump.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

The Hangover
by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

If you’re looking to write a high-concept comedy spec, you had better download and read this screenplay example. See how Lucas and Moore place their characters in a fish-out-of-water situation and then don’t just let them hang around shooting the breeze, but place ever greater hurdles and conflict in their way.

screenplay examples
Best Screenplays To Read

screenplay examples

3 Action/Adventure Screenplay Examples

Lone Survivor
by Peter Berg

Like many professionally produced scripts, this one has a few formatting quirks, such as placing (V.O.) under a character name instead of alongside it. But the detail and craft on the page is exemplary. One of the best screenplay examples to read in order to polish up your action sequences.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Aliens
by James Cameron

The sequel that took Alien into action/adventure territory and away from its horror beginnings. Walter Hill only contributed to the story on this one, not the screenplay, so it’s missing his vertical writing style. It’s essential reading if you want to master self-contained action sequences.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

The Bourne Ultimatum
by Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi

Read this script and absorb the short, sharp sentences that put you right there in the action, blow for blow as Bourne takes on his adversaries in the streets of London, Tangier and New York.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

3 Thriller Screenplays

Reservoir Dogs
by Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino also followed many of the rules of an aspiring filmmaker looking to break into the industry. Write a tightly woven script with minimal locations and steal the best ideas from your heroes. The result was this classic thriller script that no self-respecting aspiring screenwriter can afford not to read.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Collateral
by Stu Beattie, Frank Darabont and Michael Mann

The idea for this story came from a seventeen-year-old Beattie while riding in a cab in his native Sydney. Having turned it into a treatment and then a screenplay, it luckily found its way into the hands of Darabont and then Mann who then both did rewrites. A classic cat and mouse thriller screenplay that’s well worth breaking down and studying.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Flightplan
by Peter Dowling, Larry Cohen, Terry Hayes and Billy Ray

Writing a limited location, self-contained thriller script is often advised as a way to break into the industry. That’s exactly what Dowling did with this spin on the classic “loved one suddenly goes missing” tale, found in movies such as The Lady Vanishes, Frantic, and The Vanishing.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

3 Horror Screenplays

The Ring
by Ehren Kruger and Scott Frank

Despite the inevitable protestations from a group of hardcore fans of the original Japanese movie, Ringu, this script from the Hollywood remake creates something really special.

Again, just like in screenplay examples like The Conjuring, Kruger and Frank are masters at creating tension on the page. It’s well worth checking out.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

The Conjuring
by the Hayes Brothers

The reason this horror script is so great is because of the way the Hayes brothers really create a sense of dread on the page. If you want to learn how to write horror movies, read this. Note especially how they use formatting, their writing style, and visuals to manipulate the reading experience.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

Scream
by Kevin Williamson

How Williamson managed to write this in three days while holed up in a hotel in Palm Springs, escapes us. But he did, and it’s by now become a classic horror comedy script.

The opening scene alone is worth its weight in gold. If you’re looking to inject some humor in your horror movie, this is one of the best screenplay examples to read.

screenplay examples

Best Screenplays To Read

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Screenplay Examples: Conclusion

You may also have heard that reading screenplays is one of the best ways to learn how to write. It’s true. Don’t just check out these screenplay examples and then leave it. Keep reading as many scripts as you can.

Star with our list of the 50 best screenplays to read and aim to read at least one new script a week. After just a couple of months, you’ll already have a much greater command of the craft of screenwriting than before you started.

screenplay examples

Enjoyed This Post? Read More Screenplay Examples… 

50 of the Best Screenplays to Read and Download in Every Genre

50 of the Best TV Scripts to Download and Study to Improve Your Writing

20 Best Comedy Scripts to Read and Download For Free

[© Photo credits: Pexels / Unsplash]

62 Comments
  1. Kristine says:

    Thanks for sharing these screenplay samples! I will read all of the scripts you suggested in my genre. Cheers!

  2. Trevor Roman says:

    Hi

    Do you format screenplays and how much is it?

    1. SRP says:

      Hi Trevor – yes we do. You can find out about the service here: https://www.scriptreaderpro.com/proofreading-and-formatting-service/

  3. Fran Swinson says:

    It is actually almost impossible to write a good script without readings screenplays. Good job SRP.

  4. Nick says:

    I would like to write for this site about screenwriting. Please contact me I’m hoping to contribute.

  5. Jinlianka says:

    Hello where I can sell my script? I have synopsis too and they ready to sell.

  6. Omar says:

    You could definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. I hope for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to share their insider tips.

  7. Sarah says:

    The Conjuring screenplay is not the screenplay for the conjuring. Just thought I would let you know in case you didn’t.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Not sure what you mean – it’s the right script.

  8. Darlene says:

    Thanks ScriptWriterPro, what a great post.

  9. Harvey says:

    Great – thanks for the links fellas.

  10. Erin Gama says:

    Nice work. Thanks for the screenplays I will download them all and get to work 🙂

  11. Screenwriter Sam says:

    Great post -thanks for the scripts!

  12. Val says:

    So glad I found this site. You guys really know your stuff when it comes to screenwriting.

  13. Andrea says:

    Big thumbs up. Great advice.

  14. Cat says:

    Excellent post, thanks guys.

  15. Amber says:

    I checked on the web for more information about the topic and you guys nailed it. Great examples!

  16. Glen Daniels says:

    Thanks for sharing. Bookmarked your page for future screenwriting tips and resources like these.

  17. Cynthia says:

    Cindy

    I’m grateful for this site. I want to know if you buy scripts.

  18. Madison says:

    How did you find these script examples?

  19. Tanebite says:

    This is so great…l liked it big time.. Thank you so much you guys.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks a lot!

  20. Fary Kiss says:

    I never think that there’s any other area of study most interesting to me like screenwriting and directing. It’s a passion I keep in mind, but I actually did not kick start writing screenplay myself, which is the biggest challenge I have now. I’m from Nigeria. I want to learn to become one of the sort after in screenwriting and directing . Please I need every help from you. Cheers!

  21. Leo says:

    I am living in Tulsa and Hollywood seems very far away but I will stick to it and read these scripts and get better every day.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Sounds good – best of luck, Leo.

  22. Harrison says:

    Is there any way I can get these scripts sent to my Gmail? I can’t download here at work.

  23. Ghufran says:

    I find it hard to read scripts. No meaning of feeling to me.

  24. Ernest says:

    I love this. Will be back to purchase your covereage package.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Sounds good, Ernest. Let us know if you have any questions.

  25. Melodee Wheatly says:

    Great selection of screenplay examples. Thank you for taking the time to put this together.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re more than welcome, Melodee.

  26. Gonza shamim says:

    So grateful for your platform guys , i think you have made my dream come true for sure ….. Thanks for your help indeed

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome – cheers!

  27. Shonda says:

    Just finished Bridesmaids its like watching the movie again and I feel I’m learning so much. Thanks guys!

  28. Jill says:

    Awesome! Ɗo you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers besides “read screenplays”?

  29. Abaeze says:

    I am looking for the script to If Beales St Could Talk? Where can I find it?

  30. Moggy says:

    Your posts are fantastic and this one is no exception. I’ mgoing to download all these scripts and get reading.

  31. Una says:

    Do you have Boyhood screenplay by Cameron Crow?

  32. Levitnia says:

    GREAT STUFF! You’re the best Scriptreader Pro!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the shout out!

  33. tim says:

    wow! such an amazing advice and samples thanks alot.

    kindly advice on where we can sell our scripts and
    earn a living

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks a lot, Tim. Have you seen this post on how to sell a screenplay?

  34. Lori Heiken says:

    My writing partner and I stumbled over here and are glad we did. Lots of reading to catch up on!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Welcome aboard, Lori!

  35. Joaquin M says:

    Good write-up on your writing tactics. Keep writing!|

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the shoutout!

  36. Clarence says:

    I was suggested this blog by a writer friend of mine. It’s wonderful! Thanks!|

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad you found us, Clarence!

  37. Agbenortoh Stephen says:

    I think i’ve got the one and best site

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Agbenortoh!

  38. Matty says:

    Love these screenplay examples it will really help me in my undertsanding how to write.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      That’s great to hear, Matty!

  39. Gavin Johns says:

    What’s up with this list? No Scorsese no tarantino no Michael Mann… .

  40. felica casrera says:

    This is great!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Felica!

  41. Kari says:

    Start small with writing short scripts . Use examples to get you started and make you inspired …

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Good advice, Kari.

  42. Kelley Josic says:

    I really liked this post thank you for these scripts.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Kelley 🙂

  43. J. says:

    I’ve always had ideas for movies and stories, but never really considered putting them to paper until I stumbled on this site! If you have any tips for very beginners, please share.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Welcome aboard, J! Your best starting point are these posts in our How to Write a Screenplay section.

  44. Monica Wokojance says:

    Hey Guys! I’m looking for an animation script. Can you help me? Thank you!!!

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