In a series with a heavy emphasis on fight scenes and combat characters will often be differentiated by differing fighting styles and combat moves. It is important in any series to make [[WhatMeasureIsAMook important]] characters distinctive enough so that everyone doesn't begin look like clones and this is one way to take that distinction into the battlefield as well.

Action series solve the bulk of their conflict through fight scenes but if everyone were to fight in a [[BoringButPractical standard militarized way]] then the action scenes would seem so separated from the characterization scenes that they would get boring after a while.

That is where this trope comes into play. A character's personality can be shown by [[TellMeHowYouFight how they fight]]. Giving every character in an action series a unique SignatureMove can be a good way to show off their personalities (For example: the BigGuy could have a earthquake stomp attack or the SmartGuy could use machines). Superpowers can also work in the same way, as distinct superpowers can individualise the characters.

This trope uses rule of [[RuleOfCool cool]], to significantly push up the WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief on character development. Characters in said series can be a StaticCharacter who never really changes much but don't need to if the trope is well done.

As this trope is always used is action oriented series characters who do change over time they may gain new abilities as [[CharacterDevelopment their personality or motivations change]]. This is sometimes justified by having their powers tied to [[PsychoactivePowers certain]] [[HeroicWillpower emotions]].


This trope shows up quite a lot in {{Shonen}} FightingSeries, Comic Books and Video Games where pretty much every fighting character who is not a mook has at least one. Whether or not said special move has any effectiveness is completely dependent upon the needs of the story and the character's general role in it. A comic relief joke character for example may have a completely useless s pecial move or it cam be subverted by making [[CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass it seem that way until he gets serious]].

In gaming, this trope is a basic form of CompetitiveBalance, as these special moves, powers or skills provide different advantages for every character so nobody will be too weak. Also, it can let players find the one character with special moves that suits their style.

Sister trope of SuperPowerLottery. See also CastOfSnowflakes, ColorCodedCharacters, PersonalityPowers. Compare EveryoneIsASuper, which will likely result in this trope as well if Everyone's superpowers are unique to them (cough[[XMen xmen]]cough). Compare and SubTrope of SignatureMove, where it's not necessary to have everyone get at least one of that. Very important in FightingSeries and ProfessionalWrestling.
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!Examples

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Every Shinigami in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' has one once they learn the name of their {{Empathic Weapon}}s.
* Very few ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}'' share the same attacks.
* In ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'', almost every one of the eponymous warriors has a unique fighting technique (such as Miria's FlashStep or Undine's DualWielding), and the best of them receive [[RedBaron respectful titles based on their techniques]].
* In ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'', pretty much everyone who was any kind of warrior had his or her own major style (usually based on Hokuto or Nanto) with their own special moves.
* The ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' series in general. Despite the fact that there's a whole culture of having one leader personally taking on three trainees, and that anyone can learn anything that's not specifically genetically inherited or ElementalPowers, there is almost no overlap in the special moves of any of the four members of a team.
** However there's typically a lot of overlap with blood relatives and clan members, even if the special move is not genetically inherited, and pretty much every major character is part of one ninja clan or the other, each with their own specific set of moves.
* Kenichi of ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple'' spends a decent amount of time lamenting his lack of a unique "death blow," since everyone else seems to have one. Then his friends point out that he already ''has'' one, or rather a sequence of attacks that chain into each other very well, which he tends to use to end fights.
* Aside from already having strong personalities, almost every main character in ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' has a completly unique Stand. (And we mean ''unique'') with powers ranging from turning one's self into string to simply punching things really effectively. In fact, battles in this series are literally defined by the heroes using their crazy powers to circumvent the enemy's crazy powers. Even before when [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness Stands didn't exist, or they were rudimentary powers]], everyone was still defined by their abilities, such as Joseph's usage of the Ripple being different than Ceasar's.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' thrives on this. Not only do all the named characters each have pretty much their very own fighting styles, but every single [[PowerUpFood Devil Fruit]] is unique and each can only be owned by one person at once. Even with martial-arts styles known by several characters each individual will have at least one unique variation of it.
* In ''Manga/HunterXHunter'', every Nen user has specific abilities that should fit his/her personality and/or fighting style. Developing abilities that don't fit the Nen user at all will become fatal for the user in combat.
* The cast from ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'' have unique abilities fitting to the respective characters' fighting styles and it happens rarily that two or more people have identical fighting abilities. A mage who is trained by another one usually develop only similar, but not identical abilities or have an even entirely different fighting style. Even when different characters use the same spells, it often happens that they are not identical, e.g. Nanoha, Subaru and Vivio's Divine Buster have different performances. The most blatant example is Erio Mondial, whose ''Thunder Rage'' and ''Shiden Issen'' look ''entirely different'' than Fate and Signum's, respectively.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* On ''Series/BarneyAndFriends'', everyone gets their own pose for the "Everyone is Special" number.
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[[folder:VideoGames]]
* Almost every character in ''Videogame/{{Touhou}}''[[note]]as in, everyone that's shown up in a game and has a name that isn't 'Lily'[[/note]] will have spellcards, which are basically these. And saying ''a'' special move is rather inaccurate, as only midbosses ever use just one, and even they generally get more later.
** Taken UpToEleven in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZpY-dXxQyU this fanvid (starting from 0:44)]], where even mooks uses special moves.
** Almost every single character also has a magical ability no one else has. This can vary from the simple 'manipulation of fire' to the abstract 'manipulation of boundaries' to the absurd 'power to sense the coming of spring'.
* In ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert3 Red Alert 3]]'', every unit has a special move, from offensive to defensive, and from supporting to transforming (usually used by the units of the Rising Sun), which are very crucial in terms of strategy.
** This is common in many real-time strategy games; in ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII'', for instance, nearly every unit has either a unique special ability, or an upgrade that applies only to it. Even the {{Worker Unit}}s had unique powers. Unlike in fighting games, though, the focus is not on making individuals feel different, but to help build up [[ACommanderIsYou the army's general theme]].
* In ''Videogame/ChronoCross'', the characters are pretty generic in terms of their combat skill. The only points of differentiation are which of six weapon types they can equip, which of six elements they have an affinity for, and which of three elemental templates they have. Therefore, each of them is given three "techs", which are unique elements that only they can use and that they can't unequip.
* Each party member in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' except the Hawke siblings has a unique talent tree tailored to their personality and background, such as [[PirateGirl Isabela's]] various pirate-y attacks. [[PlayerCharacter Hawke]] instead can choose two of three unlockable specializations specific to his/her class, while Carver and Bethany only gain an additional skill tree ([[spoiler:Templar]] and Force Mage, respectively) in Act III (or II with DLC missions).
* Similarly, in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', each party member was given a unique ability ("Loyalty Power"), although it only became unlocked after their corresponding loyalty mission was cleared. Shepard, too, gained a power unique to his/her class (such as Biotic Charge for the Vanguard, or Tactical Cloak for the Infiltrator). This carried over into ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', though unlocking party member's powers became simpler. In both games, Shepard can additionally learn one of the squadmates' unlocked powers for a moderate fee.
* In ''Videogame/NarutoClashOfNinja'', every character has a different special attack based on a memorable scene from the anime.
* In ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBrosBrawl'', not only does every character have a unique moveset, but they all have unique Final Smash attacks too. (Well, except for a few notable duplicates--the ''VideoGame/StarFox'' characters all seem to love their Landmaster tanks, though even then the exact specifications of the tanks are slightly different for each of the three characters.)
* In ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' series:
** All four characters in ''SuperMario64 DS'' have their own special moves and abilities, such as a unique power when affected by the Power Flower.
** All characters in ''SuperMarioKart'' have their own special attacks (if they're being used by the AI), and all the pairs of characters in MarioKart Double Dash have special items only they can use (such as Mario and Luigi using fireballs, Wario and Waluigi using Bob-ombs and Bowser and Bowser Jr using the giant Bowser Shell).
** All the different baby characters from ''YoshisIsland DS'' have one or more special attacks/abilities.
** As do all the different characters in ''Mario Power Tennis'', ''Mario Hoops 3 on 3'', and the ''Mario Baseball'' games.
* Each of the six main characters of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' learns a unique attack ("Full ATB Skill") at the penultimate Crystarium level: [[OneWomanArmy Lightning]]'s "Army of One", [[IdiotHero Snow]]'s "Sovereign Fist", [[FriendlySniper Sazh]]'s "Cold Blood", [[MeaningfulName Hope]]'s "Last Resort", Fang's "Highwind", and [[ObfuscatingStupidity Vanille]]'s "[[OneHitKill Death]]". They also each get unique summons reflecting their personalities.
** The "Full ATB Skill" is XIII's version of the Limit Break system, which first appeared in the series in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' and has always worked like this in every main series game since with each playable character having one (or more than one in some cases) unique Limit Break that only he/she could use.
** Some games in the series have featured other unique abilities for each playable character. For example, in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', only Terra could shift into an Esper form, only Sabin could use the powerful Blitz attacks, only Strago could learn and cast Blue Magic spells, etc.
* In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'', each race has a innate trait and a special ability unique to them that can be used once per day.
* The [[FighterMageThief three player characters]] in the original ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}}'' had unique special abilities (item repair for Warrior, trap disarm for Rogue, and staff recharge for Sorcerer), while basically sharing the pool of abilities they could theoretically learn. In ''Diablo II'', each character essentially has their own unique special move ''trees''.
* Before going into their special talent trees, each of the Vault Hunters in VideoGame/{{Borderlands}} 1 and 2 are defined by their Action Skill - a special ability that is completely unique to them (inside their own game, anyway).
** Roland and Axton both throw down turrets, but Axton's is considerably more offense-focused while Roland's is more like portable cover with a gun.
** Lilith activates her Phasewalk, which temporarily makes her intangible and explodes at the end of the duration, while Maya locks an enemy in place for everyone to whale on him or just take him out of the fight temporarily.
** Mordecai sends out Bloodwing, his pet bird, to attack enemies hiding behind cover. Zer0 sends out a hologram whilst also turning invisible to distract enemies.
** Brick goes into a bloodlusting rage and starts punching stuff [[MemeticBadass (Explosively!)]]. Salvador pulls out a second gun to DualWield while regenerating most of his health.
** Gaige (who doesn't have an earlier counterpart, being a DLC character) summons Death-trap, her huge custom combat robot that can be further modded with certain talents.
** Krieg, another DLC character, takes out his buzz axe ([[ImpossiblyCoolWeapon an axe with a motorized buzz saw head]]) and goes on a psychotic killing spree, regaining health for each kill. He can also [[ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks throw his axe]] in this state.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaJudgement'' has characters from time and space of the entire series, and despite [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaI Simon]] and [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaIIIDraculasCurse Trevor]] Belmont being the Ryu and Ken from the game, everybody has a special finishing move.
* ''VideoGame/AngryBirdsGo'': All the characters have a move ranging from defense, speed boost, or both.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/SuperRobotMonkeyTeamHyperForceGo'', each monkey (aside from being ColorCodedCharacters) has a distinct weapon and several different named attacks.
* Being a show about a School for [[ProfessionalWrestling Lucha Libre]], {{Signature Move}}s are very important in MuchaLucha, with the developing of one being the theme of several episodes.
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