Melodrama: A play in which the typical plot is a conflict between characters who personify extreme good and evil. Melodramas usually end happily and emphasize sensationalism. Other literary forms that use the same techniques are often labeled "melodramatic." The term was formerly used to describe a combination of drama and music; as such, it was synonymous with "opera."

Augustin Daly's Under the Gaslight and Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon, The Colleen Bawn, and The Poor of New York are examples of melodramas. The most popular media for twentieth-century melodramas are motion pictures and television. (Compare with drama.)

(Glossary of Literary Terms (Thomsen-Gale))