Neurodegenerative diseases cause progressive loss of cognitive and/or motor function and pose major challenges for societies with rapidly aging populations. Human genetics studies have shown that disease-causing rare mutations and risk-associated common alleles overlap in different neurodegenerative disorders. Here we review the intricate genotype-phenotype relationships and common cellular pathways emerging from recent genetic and mechanistic studies. Shared pathological mechanisms include defective protein quality-control and degradation pathways, dysfunctional mitochondrial homeostasis, stress granules, and maladaptive innate immune responses. Research efforts have started to bear fruit, as shown by recent treatment successes and an encouraging therapeutic outlook.