Scribe's main subject matter was the contemporary bourgoisie. He often wrote for vaudeville. He is considered to have written well constructed pieces focusing on plot, which are attractive but lack real depth. His first major success was Une Nuit de la garde nationale (Night of the National Guard, 1815), a collaboration with Delestre Poirson. Much of his later work was also written in collaboration with others. He was extremely prolific.
His better known later works include Bertrand et Suzette; ou Le Mariage de raison (1826), Bertrand et Raton; ou L'Art de conspirer (The School for Politicians, 1833), Le Verre d'eau (The Glass of Water, 1840), Adrienne Lecouvreur (1848) and Bataille de Dames (The Ladies' Battle, 1851)
He wrote libretti for a number of operas, collaborating with Giacomo Meyerbeer on a number of occasions, and also providing the words for works by Giuseppe Verdi, Vincenzo Bellini, Daniel Auber, Gaetano Donizetti and Gioacchino Rossini. At the time of his death, he was working on the libretto for Meyerbeer's L'Africaine.