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101 Action-Packed Story Prompts

Want to write a high-octane action flick? Here are some story prompts to light the fuse on your creativity.
by Ken Miyamoto on June 13, 2022

Do you want to write in the action genre but need help conjuring compelling and action-packed stories and concepts? Sometimes reading simple story prompts is the easiest way to get those creative juices flowing.

We get our ideas from many sources — news headlines, novels, television shows, movies, our lives, our fears, our phobias, etc. They can come from a scene or moment in a film that wasn’t fully explored. They can come from a single visual that entices the creative mind — a seed that continues to grow and grow until the writer is forced to finally put it to paper or screen.

In the spirit of helping writers find those seeds, here we offer 101 originally conceived action story prompts that you can use as inspiration for your next action story.

They may inspire screenplays, novels, short stories, or even smaller moments that you can include in what stories you are already writing.

Common Elements in the Action Genre

The action genre is very broad with many sub-genres. Most action movies call for big action sequences, explosions, chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, etc.

Generally speaking, the central plot of the script is less important compared to the high-octane action and thrills that such action stories have to offer. In action stories, it's the concept and premise that truly shines. But that doesn't mean they're easy to write. You need to be ready to conjure engaging action set pieces and raise the stakes as high as you possibly can to keep readers and audiences on the edge of their seats as the character(s) struggle to survive whatever you through at them.

Note: Because we’re all connected to the same pop culture, news headlines, and inspirations, any similarity to any past, present, or future screenplays, novels, short stories, television pilots, television series, plays, or any other creative works is purely coincidence. These story writing prompts were conceived on the fly without any research or Google search for inspiration.

101 Action-Packed Story Prompts

1. Four Special Forces teams race against time to find the same POW in four different potential locations.  

2. A group of high school students traveling abroad must escape the clutches of a sex-trafficking ring. 

3. A gamer wakes up in his favorite car racing game.

4. A young boy has a pretend friend that is an action hero.

5. A college student is mistaken as the son of a drug cartel boss.

6. A gamer is thrust into the body of his favorite shooter game character.

7. A high school is taken over by terrorists and only the students can save the day. 

8. A former POW breaks into the foreign prison he escaped from to rescue a friend. 

9. A woman has ninety minutes to find her kidnapped son.

10. A family struggles to survive a destructive meteor shower.

11. A man dreams of a life where he is an alien soldier. 

12. A woman joins the military to avenge the death of her soldier husband.

13. Agents from the world's superpowers are sent to find the first alien ship that has crashed on Earth.

14. A bank robber joins the FBI to gain access to federal gold reserves.

15. Drivers speed across the country in the ultimate cross-country race. 

16. A boy makes a wish to become the ultimate soldier. 

17. A girl makes a wish to become the ultimate warrior. 

18. A male detective and a female detective are paired to track down bank robbers. 

19. A criminal mastermind tells the world he will pay anyone $20 million to take out the president. 

20. A spy realizes that his government is trying to take him out. 

Cary Grant in North By Northwest

'North By Northwest'

21. A high school student that is a witness to a mob hit finds himself on the run. 

22. A retired assassin realizes that his assassin son is hunting him down.

23. A handicapped man becomes a cyborg.

24. Assassins recreate a gifted pilot.

25. Bank robbers recruit a genius student to crack a code.

26. Extreme paintball enthusiasts on a wilderness retreat stumble upon a group of armed criminals.

27. A president must fight off terrorists that attack him on a retreat. 

28. A cop is forced to team up with a crime boss to find their sons.

29. A masked mastermind kidnaps soldiers and makes them compete against each other in a last-man-standing game of combat. 

30. A cop seeks revenge after his partner is killed on a routine stop. 

31. A serial killer stalks the highways in stolen cars, looking for his next hit-and-run victim. 

32. Rock climbers stumble upon a drug cartel. 

33. Extreme sports athletes are forced to use their skills for heists. 

34. A former professional MMA fighter must fight his way out of an abandoned prison set as the stage for the ultimate MMA tournament.  

35. A bouncer kicks out the wrong patron. 

36. A traffic cop gives the wrong car a ticket. 

37. A detective uncovers a precinct-wide conspiracy that forces him on the run. 

38. A foreign country invades the United States, only to come face-to-face with intercity gangs and the police force that band together.  

39. A racecar driver is tasked with driving drugs across the border. 

40. A man discovers that he has a natural ability to fight with any type of weapon in a masterful fashion. 

Michael B Jordan in 'A Journal for Jordan'

'A Journal for Jordan'

41. A security guard is all that stands between a terrorist group and their towed van full of explosives that were meant to take out a federal building. 

42. A new Army recruit uncovers a conspiracy within his unit. 

43. The deadliest female assassin goes up against the deadliest male assassin as the criminal underground place their bets. 

44. Former high school best friends find themselves pitted against one another on opposite sides of the law. 

45. An old west gunslinger must survive a posse that is after him. 

46. The world's most deadly convicts are hired for an impossible government mission. 

47. A sailor decided to sail into the infamous Bermuda Triangle to find a lost friend.  

48. A high school student discovers that his classmates are robots from the future sent to kill him. 

49. A science fair team accidentally creates teleportation technology that the government wants for itself. 

50. A man that has uploaded his consciousness to a simulated reality fights to return to his real body and world.

51. An employee at a corporation discovers that she's an assassin activated by a secret code. 

52. An outcast nerd discovers that he's actually a revered prince from another planet, hidden by his royal family to escape an evil space lord. 

53. The story of the Titanic, but the Titanic is a luxury space cruiser that has hit a meteor made of ice. 

54. An astronaut stuck in cryosleep wakes up after his returning ship crashlands in medieval times. 

55. A soldier paralyzed in battle creates his own cybernetic endoskeleton to fight again. 

56. The world's first cyborg super-soldier goes AWOL to experience the life of an average person. 

57. The moon is actually a Space Force training center for an intergalactic war. 

58. A man has the power to conjure any type of weapon. 

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix

'The Matrix'

59. A soldier discovers that after a battle, he has gained the ability to never miss a target with his weapon. 

60. The military sends a single super-soldier to end a war. 

61. A scientist finds the cure for cancer but is suddenly attacked by government agents that don't want it to go public. 

62. A space pilot goes on an interstellar race to find a coveted treasure. 

63. In the near future, the government picks one citizen a month to be hunted down by elite Special Forces. 

64. Two escaped union soldiers with key intel must make their way through the southern battlefields of the Civil War-era United States. 

65. Old West train robbers must fight off infantry soldiers as the train races across the country. 

66. A Vietnam POW escapes a prisoner camp and struggles to make his way through the war-torn territories to freedom.

67. Criminals are now shipped into space on space prison ships as some try to escape. 

68. A gamer learns that the soldier he is controlling is actually a real soldier in a real war. 

69. Competing treasure hunters race on the open ocean waters to find a sunken treasure. 

70. A vigilante creates a superhero guise to fight crime. 

71.  A high school genius discovers anti-gravity technology, only to be hunted down by government agents. 

72. Asteroid miners struggle to survive an accident. 

73. A family of assassins must survive a syndicate's attempt to take them out. 

74. A teenager enlists the training of a hitman to avenge the death of his father. 

75. A riverboat captain attempts the first trip down the Mississippi River. 

76. A futuristic gamer realizes what he thought was a virtual reality shooter game is actually real life. 

77. Wars are fought in simulation to protect lives. 

78. A slacker high school student stumbles upon a new energy source, only to be hunted down by government agents. 

79. A woman is wrongly convicted of murder and escapes prison to prove her innocence. 

Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok

'Thor: Ragnarok'

80. A Buddhist monk must forgo his pacifist ways to defend a village. 

81. Warring superpower nations choose champions to face off in battle, instead of armies. 

82. A martial artist wakes up in a building and discovers that he must battle a different warrior on each level to survive. 

83. A man wakes up in a crashed car with a gun in his hand — and amnesia clouding his memory of who he is and how he got there. 

84. A son discovers that his dead father was a legendary assassin. 

85. A girl discovers that her mother is a legendary assassin.  

86. A husband discovers that his wife has been assigned to watch over him and kill him when ordered to. 

87. A hitman falls in love with his target. 

88. A detective uncovers the truth that the governor is also a mob boss, forcing him to flee when mob hitmen come after him.  

89. An off-duty detective on a cruise vacation with his family must fend off terrorists that take over the ship. 

90. A cop is framed and must prove his innocence as he is hunted down by authorities. 

91. A bank robber is tasked with robbing ten banks in a single day to save his daughter's life.  

92. A wilderness firefighter must parachute into a wildfire to find a missing family. 

93. A Special Forces team comes across a village attacked by a clan of vampires. 

94. The two remaining battleships from opposite sides of a devastating world war fight to be the last nation standing. 

95. An aging war veteran takes on a biker gang that terrorizes a mountain town community.  

96. An undercover cop must face off against a ruthless detective without blowing his cover. 

97. Two police detective partners discover that one of them is a mob plant. 

98. An action star is kidnapped and hunted down by a tribe that believes he is the real deal.  

99. Career criminals utilize a city-wide blackout for their crimes. 

100. Scientists travel back to the world of dinosaurs to find a long-dead plant that could save humankind from extinction. 

101. Two assassins make a gentleman's bet that they can hunt the other down first from opposite ends of the world.  

Emily Blunt in 'Edge of Tomorrow'

'Edge of Tomorrow'

Share this with your writing peers or anyone that loves a good action-packed story. Have some prompts of your own? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

Want More Ideas? Take a Look at Our Other Genre-Based Story Prompts!

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, the feature thriller Hunter’s Creed, and many Lifetime thrillers. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies

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