Creator Thumbprint

aka: Director Trademark
No matter the story, Hayao Miyazaki will have someone/something flying.Clockwise from top left: 

A recurring item found across several works for a director, producer or writer.

For recurring associates, see Production Posse. For recurring characters or items identified with a previous movie, see Production Throwback and Reused Character Design. The literary/unintentional equivalent of this is an Author Catchphrase, and the actor equivalent of this is just a normal Catch Phrase (e.g. "I'll be back"). Does not include overarching Signature Style elements of a body of work, Signature Shots, or explicit Iconic Logo trademarks, such as Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette or Walt Disney's signature. If the Thumbprint is something the author likes, then it's Author Appeal.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • All of Hayao Miyazaki's films have at least one scene depicting characters at great heights or on the edges of precipitious drops: most of his films also feature at least one of Those Magnificent Flying Machines. Many of his films feature flight as a prominent theme. There are also pigs, and characters that get so angry their hair levitates.
    • Around half of his stories also tend to have some sort of pacifism or anti war theme, either directly or indirectly, in them.
  • This is part of the reason why Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fans love the series. The person in charge of it is a self-admitted fan of Super Robot Wars, so he inserted a lot of Humongous Mecha tropes and references into the anime. The resulting fusion of Magical Girls and Humongous Mecha is very cool indeed.
  • Makoto Shinkai clearly loves Scenery Porn and cats, including a cat in every one of his films since She And Her Cat (normally naming the cats in the later films after the earlier cats).
  • Naoki Urasawa is a noted Germanophile, which is very noticeable giving the settings of his work: Large parts of Monster, Master Keaton, and Pluto are set in Germany.
  • Yoshinaga Fumi's works are very well regarded for their nuanced and fully realized characters. Yet for some reason all of these characters, no matter their profession or past, share the ability to speak for paragraphs about all the little details behind the delicious, mouthwatering dishes that always pop up.
  • Between both his principal works' tendency to contain a cast of kids exposed to uncomfortable amounts of rape, teenage pregnancy, mental illnesses, parental child abuse and eventually a gruesome and pointless death, and just generally possessing a Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism you could use as a trebuchet, it would seem Mohiro Kitoh (Narutaru, Bokurano) is not a 'people' person. Especially where children are concerned. He's also fond of mountain bikes, and has a tendency towards aircraft and anything in the air, and perhaps the military.
  • In their Girls With Guns works, Bee Train always has a female character that wears a pair of red shoes - which started with Kirika in Noir. Also, Kouichi Mashimo went to a Jesuit university, knows a lot about the Catholic Church, and likes to feature some of Aquinas's and Augustine's ideas in his shows. He also has a non-sexual love for any Action Girl (especially with a gun), being a fairly well-known feminist in Japan.
  • Keiichi Sigsawa, author of Kino's Journey and Allison & Lillia, goes out of his way to profile in entirely unnecessary detail every weapon and vehicle that comes up, regardless of whether it is important to the plot. And as if that weren't enough, even his pen name is based on a gun brand.
  • Shirow Masamune loves drawing sexy, scantily clad women, but that hardly sets him apart; what does is his obsessive attention to detail regarding near-future/sci-fi weaponry and machines. The Other Wiki even has a page about Seburo, which is Shirow's recurring futuristic small arms manufacturer.
  • If you couldn't tell from the series itself, Hiroyuki Imaishi, the director of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann said in an interview that he liked drills and wanted a show where they were the main character's weapon. This becomes either hilarious or creepy when you see his previous work, Dead Leaves, where one guy has a giant drill (that's drawn just like the ones in TTGL because he's also the character designer for both) for a penis.
  • Most of the ridiculously hard to understand math and physics found around Suzumiya Haruhi (including an important in one of the later novels that is even illustrated) stem from Nagaru Tanigawa (the author of the novels) being a math/physics buff.
  • Wataru Yoshizumi, the mangaka behind Marmalade Boy, Ultra Maniac, Mint na Bokura and many others likes her tennis. She tends to have at least one of her characters in each of her series be a member of their school tennis club.
  • Aside of uniforms and girls with hair decs, Hidekaz Himaruya loves bunnies.
  • Arina Tanemura really likes insane hair.
  • Shamelessly lampshaded by Ai Yazawa in her manga Gokinjo Monogatari, about an arts high school populated by eccentric teens. "In the Yazawa High School students have an unspoken agreement to dress in the most outrageous way possible. Why? Principal Ai Yazawa just loves outlandish clothes!". Before becoming a mangaka, she wanted to be a fashion designer, and she's a hardcore fan of Vivienne Westwood. She also loves rock and punk music. It becomes glaringly obvious since all of her mangas feature fashion designers, massive amounts of different outfits, designs lifted from Westwood, aspiring musicians and punk rockers.
  • Bleach: Tite Kubo is a huge music geek. As a result, he gives many of his characters theme songs from a wide range of styles and nationalities. His chapter and volume titles can be a Call Back to songs and he often finds a way to insert music into character conversations. During the Turn Back The Pendulum arc not only did he have Captain Shinji trying to convince Vice-Captain Aizen that jazz was a brilliant invention but he also created a little character sketch at the end of the relevant volume to tell the reader that jazz didn't actually exist during Shinji's era, coupled with a sketch of Shinji looking absolutely baffled at what he's listening to if jazz doesn't exist. Kubo is also a huge fashion fan and takes every opportunity to sketch his characters in many different fashion styles from Japanese garb to punk outfits, tracksuits and boxing gear. Even here, he often finds a way to insert music.
  • Hirohiko Araki is a big music fan, particularly of western progressive rock. This can be seen in the naming conventions of characters from his master work, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, with characters sporting such names as Dio Brando, Robert Edward O. Speedwagon, Vanilla Ice, and so forth. He even had a prog-rock song used as the ending theme of the new anime series. He also seems to have a thing against dogs, as almost every dog that shows up is brutally murdered either to show off the new villain's Stand, or just because. In fact, one of the first things to happen in Jojo's, is Dio kicking Jonathan's dog, then later killing him.
  • The Wallflower author Tomoko Hayakawa practically admits in her author notes that she simply made a series full of stuff she likes: Bishōnen, J-rock performers, horror and gothic pop culture, and the Elegant Gothic Lolita style.
  • Tsutomu Nihei, author of Blame!!, has an obvious obsession with architecture, post-humanism and cyborgs. The latter occasionally verges on fetish territory, and the former is something of a running joke amongst his fans.
  • Akira Toriyama has a thing for vehicles. Give the Dragon Ball manga a lookthrough and count how many of the chapter cover pages not directly related to the storyline feature some kind of detailed vehicle. He outright admitted that the main character of his 1987 one-shot SONCHOH is the car, and not the old man who drives it. This is also Lampshaded in an omake of his Dr. Slump manga, where Toriyama's editor calls him out for always drawing some sort of vehicle on the covers and asks him if the main character of the manga is a car.
  • Ah! My Goddess scribe Kosuke Fujishima is a huge fan of exquisitely-detailed machinery, especially that surrounding vehicles, so it's no surprise that all his work features very in-depth discussion and imagery of the same.
  • Eiichiro Oda of One Piece fame very clearly loves afros. Not only do several major One Piece characters sport afros, but the story draws attention or uses the afro for comedy in almost every case:
    • Gaimon, who is mistaken for a shrub;
    • Kuromarimo, who has one afro on his head and three in his beard, fights with afro-shaped balls of hair;
    • Strawhat pirate Brook, who is a skeleton, still retains his afro because he has deep roots, and has great emotional attachment to the hair because it will allow his old friend Laboon to recognize him even though he is a skeleton;
    • Fleet Admiral Sengoku, despite being The Comically Serious;
    • Emporio Ivankov, who can carry his right hand man in his afro;
    • and Luffy wears an afro wig during his fight with Foxy, and everyone except Nami insists that the afro makes him stronger.
    • Wild Takes and silly expressions in general are another favourite, even if the situation in the story is serious.
  • Kozue Amano, the creator of ARIA and Amanchu! clearly has a thing for Scenery Porn.
  • Mori Kaoru is an Anglophile. It definitely shows in the immense attention to the details of upstairs-downstairs dynamics, costume details and setting of Victorian Romance Emma.
    • She highlighted in her latest work Otoyomegatari that she is also fascinated by Central Asian costumes and setting. All her female and male characters have exquisitely detailed embroidered clothes.
  • Isuna Hasekura, author of the Spice and Wolf novels, has a serious thing for economics. It features prominently in both of his works to date. In fact, he took the prize money he got for his first novel to the stock market and is currently writing a manga about day trading.


    Comic Books 
  • Caricaturist Al Hirschfeld was known for hiding the word Nina (his daughter's name) within the elaborate cross-hatching of his cartoons. A number next to his signature indicated the number of hidden Ninas.
  • Keno Don Rosa put the acronym D.U.C.K. into the first page of all of his comics, as a homage to his favorite Carl Barks ("Dedicated to Uncle Carl from Keno").
    • Also, he is a recognized Scrooge/Goldie shipper.
  • The late comicbook writer Mark Gruenwald apparently loved his home state Wisconsin. In Captain America, he made the villain Sidewinder a Wisconsite, while his hero Quasar also hailed from "America's Dairyland". His love for Wisconsin really showed in D.P.7., as most of the early issues were set there, and many of the characters were from Wisconsin.
  • Likewise, Brian Michael Bendis really seems to like his hometown of Cleveland, and has set many of his stories there.
  • The Flash's John Broome seemed to have some sort of fixation with second floor burglaries. It has been suggested that maybe he was burgled while living on the second floor and developed it because of that.
  • John Callahan has at least two cartoons with quadriplegic protagonists. It's likely because the man himself is also quadriplegic.
  • Anything Geoff Johns writes frequently involves a character receiving an injury to their hand or arm.
  • Bill Amend of FoxTrot really loves his math/computer/geek humor. (He was a Physics major.)
  • Paul Dini again, but this one's probably not sexual. He's a gigantic zoology buff, which accounts for a great deal of the animal references he tends to make in his scripts. Examples include the inclusion of the extremely obscure cassowary in "Almost Got 'Im", the conversation between two of Ra's al Ghul's mooks about how crocodiles kill their prey in "Out of the Past", and the fact that Dini got Bruce Timm a STUFFED PIRANHA as drawing reference for "Mad Love".
  • Neil Gaiman of The Sandman fame likes mythology, cats, and gothic imagery and/or clothes. And expect stories within stories within stories, and the story will be talking about other stories.
  • Mike Mignola has said in interviews that he created Hellboy because he loves drawing weird monsters, big gorillas and mad-science devices and wanted an excuse to get paid for it. All those elements showed up at one time or another in his earlier work for Marvel and DC.
  • Doug TenNapel's comics usually have a cat. Even when they aren't main characters or even important to the plot, there's usually at least one scene that prominently features one if not several.
  • Legendary comic book artist George Perez has a non-sexual fetish of redesigning characters' costumes to be much more detailed than the average artist is willing to draw. It gets sexual because whenever he draws Wanda Maximoff, AKA the Scarlet Witch (whom he has singled out as his favorite character to draw), he draws her in this costume, which references her Roma heritage. Furthermore, this outfit is designed to indicate that Wanda does not wear panties (the two sections of fabric over her hips are connected by gold loops that rest over bare skin). When asked to provide Word of God information that nobody else could give, Perez stated that Wanda prefers to go commando and dared readers to find an instance in which she is proven to be wearing underwear. He even found other ways to subtly convey this sexual trivia - such as showing her wearing a very long t-shirt to bed. It is worth noting that no other artist draws this costume if they can avoid it, although that is likely because of the prohibitive level of detail rather than the designer's fetish appeal.
    • Perez just has a fetish for costume design in general. His second-favorite Marvel girl to play with is the Wasp, because he can design any-and-as-many costumes as he damn well pleases for her with no one batting an eye about it. Hilariously enough, though, even with the dozens of outfits he's given her, none of the rare Stripperific costumes she's had were of his design.
  • D'Israeli's artwork always includes the word 'fishpaste' somewhere, usually as graffiti.
  • Bill Watterson cites Charles Schulz as one of his main creative influences, and it shows in his art style. A few of the stylistic twists Schulz used in his strip, such as profile shots of characters that show only their eyes and nose but not their mouths, or the use of the word "AUGH" when uttering a cry of surprise or dismay, were adopted by Watterson and later used in Calvin and Hobbes.
  • Stan Lee and his fondness for alliterative names - Peter Parker, Reed Richards, J. Jonah Jameson, Susan Storm, Bruce Banner...
    • He's explained that alliterative names were just easier to remember since he was writing tons of books and creating new characters all the time.
  • Garth Ennis has a fondness for Irish and British characters, especially working-class ones.
  • Scott Snyder has a penchant for starting every story with—as comics journalist David Brothers says it—the main character relating “[Aged male mentor figure] used to say [anecdote relevant to the plot].”
  • Bill Finger, the unsung early writer of the Batman comics, loved doing stories around giant sized but functional versions of props like typewriters, cigarette lights and similar displays.
  • Mark Waid loves to take formerly dark or unhappy characters and brighten their outlook (and the tone of their stories). In general he favors more positive storytelling and will often address this directly in his plotlines. Examples include The Flash and Daredevil both learning to stop worrying and love being superheroes, and Waid's Kingdom Come dealing directly with the conflict between light and dark styles of superheroes.
  • John Byrne likes to use the license plate GNU 556 in various vehicles (including a zeppelin) in different stories. According to him, it's a tribute to a song of British musical comedy duo Flanders and Swann. He also likes to draw himself in some stories, like he did on Fantastic Four, Starbrand and She-Hulk (this time, combining with her Medium Awareness and Breaking the Fourth Wall). He is also fond of depicting the Neck Lift, to the point that some comics fans refer to it as "the Byrne Hold".

     Fan Fiction 

  • As an homage to Al Hirschfeld, artists working on the "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Fantasia 2000 (which was inspired by Hirschfeld's drawings) added their names within the backgrounds as Freeze-Frame Bonus. They even throw in a couple of Ninas for good measure.
  • In the days of silent films, studios used to hide their names in the set to guard against other studios stealing the scenes for their own films (and to defend against accusations thereof).
  • Alfred Hitchcock would appear as a bystander in all of his films. When he found out that people would watch the films for his cameo, and get distracted from the story, he started making his appearance in the first few minutes. There's other stuff, too, like villains dying from falling from great heights, tall 'cool' blondes, and the MacGuffin.
  • Similarly, Stan Lee appears in every movie based on one of his Super Heroes.
  • Sam Raimi's [father's?] old Oldsmobile, dubbed "The Classic", is in many of his films. For example, it was Uncle Ben's car in Spider-Man.
  • Frank Capra and that crow.
  • Martin Scorsese's films often feature Catholic imagery, guilt-ridden protagonists, and the Madonna-Whore complex in regards to love interests.
  • Christopher Nolan's films would be a third shorter if he left out all the birds-eye view cityscapes.
    • Inception can be seen as a "Nolan's greatest hits" in terms of director trademarks. Metaphysical motifs? Check. Things that are not what they seem? Check. Character side story serving as metaphor for protagonist or film overall? Check. Twist ending to a character story or film? Check.
    • At least one of the main characters will carry a small, innocent-looking object around (such as a playing card, a coin, a bouncing ball, or a spinning top) which we are treated to many close-up shots of.
    • Michael Caine holds the record for acting in most Nolan films with six as of 2014's Interstellar.
    • And if Cillian Murphy is in the movie, at some point he will have a bag over his head.
    • The Dark Knight Saga and Inception even have their own credits FONT.
  • Film producer Jon Peters appears to really like Giant Spiders, as noted in our article on Executive Meddling.
  • Mel Brooks puts plenty of penis jokes in his movies: Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, and especially the musical remake of The Producers (which, admittedly, he didn't actually direct).
  • Tim Burton has a few:
    • His films contain strange hands — severed hands, mutilated hands, prosthetic hands, gloved hands, and artistic representations of hands — in far greater proportion than is common. The only remotely sexual connotation attaches to the leather-glove fetishism in Batman (both Jack Napier and Max Shreck favor dapper black gloves, and both exhibit sexual and/or sadistic attitudes toward the film's heroine). The Nightmare Before Christmas uses the lyric "bony fingers" three times.
    • Burton also likes German Expressionist cinema (Johnny Depp Looks Like Cesare in over half of Burton's films), which is a visible influence of his work. Sometimes he admits this, like how Christopher Walken's character in Batman Returns is named "Max Schreck". This also feeds into his lower-level fixation with spirals. Spiral hair, spiral feathers, spiral coattails, spiral plants, spiral embroidery... maybe he eats a lot of curly fries or something. And stripes. Especially on snakes.
    • Scary clowns, dark woods, tile floors...
    • And Burton seems to have a thing for dogs, as there are some dropped into every one of his movies at some point. Frankenweenie (both versions) even has a dog as the main character!
    • Another theme - one that comes up in almost all his films - is that of parents separated in some way from their children. This is either because a family gets split up due to mass chaos (Mars Attacks!), the main character is an orphan (both Batman films), the character really should have parents but doesn't (Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands)... but most commonly because the character has major Daddy (or Mommy, or sometimes both) Issues (Beetlejuice, Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and to a lesser extent Mars Attacks!). Interestingly, Big Fish outright has this as the movie's theme, and it's arguably Burton's attempt to come to terms with it and for once depict a normal and loving (if troubled) family, possibly in the wake of his father's death from cancer.
    • And that's the subtle stuff, we'll not even get into his main character is nearly always a sensitive outsider shunned by the masses. That defines himself prior to achieving the fame... and his target audience.
  • Kevin Smith always stuffs his films with his favorite things: Star Wars, Jaws, hockey and comic book references, and talks about "unnatural" sex acts. He has a thing for girls with glasses, brought on by his wife. There are also Degrassi references.
  • As a boy, Wes Craven was bullied by a kid named Fred Krueger. Before this name became attached to Craven's most iconic baddie, his earlier film The Last House on the Left contains a villainous rapist named Krug.
  • Screenwriter/director Richard Curtis seems to have a thing for Americans. Aside from the Bridget Jones films, which were adapted from another medium and was a collaboration with several other writers, every theatrically released film he's ever written has been a British comedy featuring at least one American character, though that maybe due to the UK cinematic convention of having an inexplicable American in the cast to coax the US market.
  • The films of Guillermo del Toro always include slime, aspects of clock punk (or at least, clocks), things in jars (often People Jars), and references to Roman Catholicism. The supernatural is extremely common, and he's also greatly interested in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Robert Zemeckis likes Historical In Jokes as well as putting real people in his films, either by getting the real person or by combining editing tricks with Stock Footage.
  • Dario Argento's films usually have protagonists who are involved in the arts or some creative profession, and are foreigners.
    • Jessica Harper in Suspiria and Jennifer Connelly in Phenomena are based on Disney's Snow White.
  • David Lynch seems to really enjoy scenes of women singing. There's the Lady in the Radiator from Eraserhead, Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet, the biker bar chick in Twin Peaks and the whole Club Silencio scene in Mulholland Dr., though all these instances are probably done for atmosphere more than anything else.
    • Also likes: facial injuries/deformity, shots of the road taken while driving, blinking/strobing lights, red curtains, and fixed shots of the elderly moving slowly. Oh, and terrifying imagery in abundance.
    • That's besides his whole "dark underbelly of suburbia" thing, the dominant theme in much of his work.
  • The Coen Brothers seem obsessed with hair, or at any rate like to portray characters who are, and/or characters with bizarre or terrible haircuts. Also, every film will feature at least a few of the following: someone vomiting, a bellowing fat man, usually played by John Goodman and an Implacable Man who seems to be the Anthropomorphic Personification of pure evil.
    • They are also fond of: regional accents, scenes with dogs, failed kidnappings, suitcases full of money, powerful men behind desks, and shots of walking feet.
    • Less obvious but none the less notable, at least seven of their films feature a car wreck where one of the main characters is the driver or did something to cause the wreck.
  • If Mel Gibson is starring in a film, chances are his character will like dogs.
  • Every George Lucas movie features the number 1138 at some point, as homage to his first film, THX 1138.
    • Most have at least one scene with a speeding vehicle (THX 1138, American Graffiti, Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones, etc.). Though this may have less to do with Author Appeal and more to do with the majority of his films being action films, where speeding vehicles can be expected.
    • The number 327 is also frequently encountered, although it's not clear why. One theory is that Lucas' first car was a Chevy 327.
  • Lee Unkrich really likes monkeys. Guess what shows up twice in his directorial debut Toy Story 3?
    • And speaking of Pixar, nearly every film by the company will contain a reference to Pizza Planet or A113 (more info under Western Animation).
  • Steven Spielberg's first film, Duel, used a dinosaur roar sound effect as the tanker truck goes over the cliff, which he has incorporated into the climax of every film he's made ever since.
  • Stanley Kubrick liked filming bathroom scenes, often in connection with character death.
    • CRM-114 shows up a bunch.
    • Kubrick was also fond of doing The Oner in most of his films.
  • When Quentin Tarantino heard it was being discontinued, he saved one last box of Fruit Brute cereal and tries to have a character eating it in every film he makes. He also has his own fictional brands, including Red Apple Cigarettes and Big Kahuna Burger. He also likes having stylized and often nauseatingly gory action scenes (though hilariously, he still found Mr. Creosote to be a bit too much to stomach).
  • Star Wars sound tech Ben Burtt is the driving force of the resurgent popularity of the Wilhelm Scream.
  • Most films directed by John Landis (with the notable exception of Animal House) feature the phrase "See You Next Wednesday." Even the Michael Jackson "Thriller" video incorporates it in background dialogue.
  • All of John Glen's James Bond movies feature Disturbed Doves.
  • John Woo is also fond of the doves, and since The Killer, they've shown up in all his work.
  • Stephen Sommers loves scenes with people getting swallowed up by quicksand and the ilk (see The Jungle Book, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and the Sommers-produced The Scorpion King).
  • James Cameron has his distinctive shots of feet, female protagonists and the presence or imminent threat of nuclear weaponsnote  in his films.
  • Coffee? Coleman Francis loves coffee!
    • Light aircraft and vigilantism.
  • It's not a Chris Buck movie until at least two parents meet horrible, horrible deaths.
  • Spike Lee loves his Dolly Shots. His very first use of it was in School Daze but it wasn't until Mo Better Blues that we see he one that he is more renown for.
  • Karel Zeman seems to have put a thunderstorm in pretty much all of his feature films.

  • Ian Livingstone, co-creator of the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, seems to enjoy sailboat racing, given how he's snuck Author Avatars of himself and his teammates as minor characters in some of the gamebooks he's written. He appears as one of the crew members who can ferry the hero to Kaad in Return To Firetop Mountain, and the rest of the crew have real-life names that are spelled phonetically ("Eeyun" instead of Ian, "Ndroo" instead of Drew, etc.), and also appears as an innkeeper who reminisces about his sailing days to the hero in Armies of Death.

  • Robert Frost loves nature, and can or will not, in particular, shut up about trees.
    • He also had a thing for Iambic meter, but that's possibly more a stylistic choice than Author Appeal.
  • The Arthur writer, Marc Brown, has put the names of his children in several places that need text. And some that don't.
  • An in-story example: The Gordon Korman novel Son of Interflux has an art student who always includes a camel in his paintings, no matter what it's a painting of. His teacher finds it immensely irritating.
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
  • HP Lovecraft: He had a list of phobias as long as your arm. His xenophobia (see "the Horror at Red Hook"), fear of the ocean, and reported fish allergy contributed to his fear of the alien and the aquatic. He seemed to have a thing about tentacles, finding them more or less the embodiment of all that is disgusting. He was a racist, hating everyone who wasn't a white Englishman, holding even English-Americans in contempt. His stories contain no strong female characters, and sexuality is always horrifying in his work, but he could describe a building more lovingly than Shakespeare describing his Fair Lord. However, while the "Lovecraft as asexual weirdo" idea is so ingrained, it may be surprising to learn that he was married for a time, and while it didn't last, his wife was explicitly quoted saying yes, they had sex, and yes, he was "adequately excellent" at it.
    • He would also faint if the temperature dropped too much (cf. Cool Air) and he loved cats.
    • Also, most of his protagonists are solitary men who have little or no obvious employment, yet never lack money; Lovecraft came from an upper-class family that fell into poverty while he was a child. As a result he spent his whole life in chronic lack of money, but unable to get work that would match his social status. There's clearly some wish-fulfillment going on.
    • The really surprising thing about Lovecraft's marriage is that his wife was Jewish. True, no particularly anti-Semitic tropes appear in his work, but it seems weird for someone so xenophobic to make an exception.
    • Apparently Lovecraft's wife (Sonia Haft Greene) actually remarked upon this - and Lovecraft replied that as she was "Now Mrs Howard Phillips Lovecraft of Providence" there was no contradiction!
  • J. R. R. Tolkien liked nature, which came with a direct correlation to his dislike of the encroachment of the ever expanding industrial England into the English countryside. Trees just put up a better fight than flowers. Tolkien also nearly died as a child due to a bite from a spider, while he said he had no memory of the event, it seems likely that there's a connection to the fact that every story set in Middle-Earth has at least one Giant Spider/quasi-Eldritch Abomination... things as enemies.
  • Ayn Rand admits that the men in her novels are intended to be the ideal man, an important aspect of her writing.
  • Robert Anton Wilson's novels are an excuse to write extensive analyses about his personal philosophies, and explore various schools of mysticism he's been involved with - however, he manages to do it in entertaining and amusing manner. He also occasionally lampshades his tendencies to this with characters commenting about books that start telling a story, and end with an essay of philosophy.
    • He also loved James Joyce's books, and several times included them, or the man himself into the plots of his various books. In Schroedinger's Cat trilogy he even features a utopian alternate universe where Joyce became the Pope, changed the entire nature of the Catholic Church to a more modern value-system, and prevented World War II!
  • The authors of the Left Behind series really, really like their telephone conversations. In fact there's probably as much talking on the phone as there is talking face-to-face in the earlier books.
    • Their love of explaining the difficulties of getting from Point A to Point B. Over a billion people have just disappeared, but I'm going to worry about how hard it is to get to New York.
  • SM Stirling's many books consistently feature detailed description of subjugation and slavery; ridiculous amounts of detail about weaponry (guns or bows and arrows depending on the setting). However, if you're writing adventure fiction in which the main characters are warriors or soldiers, and do a lot of fighting, this is pretty well inevitable. Not only does the situation demand it, but specialists whose careers and lives depend on their trade tend to be interested in their gear — contemporary US soldiers even have a slang term for guys who spend a lot of their own money on non-issue equipment because they're perfectionists: geardo. It's like writing about Pre-Raphaelite painters; they're going to be thinking about paint, canvas, lighting, models, and perspective a lot. Another thing is that if you're writing about pre/post gunpowder warriors, you're writing about professional athletes; the superior ones will have exceptional physiques and they will work very, very hard at conditioning and training. In a way it's like writing about rugby or basketball players, only with edged weapons and more maiming and death. And cannibalism, but that depends on whether there's an extreme famine going on.
    • Much of Stirling's work is a homage to the "heroic Mighty Whitey explorer" genre of pulp fiction, so this is a cross between Author Appeal and Shout-Out.
    • Another common vein in Stirling's works is the prevalence of "survivalists." In the Terminator novels, they were the few survivors of Skynet's attack on humanity, and in the Emberverse most survivors were people who lived off the grid.
    • He also seems to be very fond of the concept of the country squire, whether in the form of a Draka landholder, a Prime of one of the Thirty Families of New Virginia (from his novel Conquistador), a Commander of post-change Britain in the Emberverse, a zamindar of the Angrezi Raj, or a Hereditary Supervisor of the Civil Government.
    • However, his real thumbprint is his Food Porn. It occurs in all his books, from the fifth millennium to the Emberverse.
  • Piers Anthony; sure, the Xanth books are filled with puns, but they lurk in other books too, plus the MeaningfulNames. And he loves logic puzzles; more than once has the climax of a book hinged on the protagonist figuring out a logic puzzle. (Off the top of my head: Golem in the Gears, the Prisoners' Dilemma; With a Tangled Skein, the Twelve Coins Puzzle.)
    • Macroscope involved the game sprouts.
  • Many of Neil Gaiman's stories involve talking cats, imposter mothers, and eye trauma.
    • His main (male) characters usually start as incompetent This Loser Is You and level up through the story (seen in Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Good Omens).
    • On a more "meta" level, he is also very, very fond of playing with the inside/outside aspect of things (i.e. what you thought was outside was really inside something bigger, or you were the one being inside all along - and not just in spatial terms) as well as the concept of stories within stories. For example, one Sandman book has the protagonist telling a barman the story about a time he got stranded in a strange inn, where people told each other stories to pass the time. One of the travellers tells a story about a boat voyage, during which Hob Gadling tells the protagonist of that story another story. That's 4 levels of indentation, 5 if you count "Neil Gaiman telling the reader the story of that guy telling the barman...". And in that same Sandman book, a character the protagonist of the book met is telling a story about a meeting he had with someone, who told a story about his mistress, who in THAT story started telling many stories... one of which was a story about a bunch of travelers stuck at an inn, telling stories to pass the time. Yes, it was recursive to that extent, and boy, was Gaiman proud of managing to include the moment. Gaiman's also a huge mythology nut and loves to reference a huge range of tales from almost any culture you can think of, particularly if at some point they were bowdlerised and the original forms were much darker and more gruesome. The Fair Folk are treated as the trope describes, the original (and deeply squicky) tale of Red Riding Hood makes an appearance and a thematic point in Sandman, American Gods and Anansi Boys are probably set in the same continuity and are all about myths being real and alive (and trying to stay that way), and William Shakespeare himself and his King's Men perform A Midsummer Night's Dream for the entities it was based upon, during which some members of the audience have to be reminded not to eat the performers.
  • Frank Herbert's consistent themes: hallucinatory experiences as a spiritual journey of discovery (usually by means of some substance) and resentment toward/competition with a father figure.
  • Cordwainer Smith loved to include cats (including an early, Western example of the Cat Girl trope) and references to Chinese culture in his science fiction stories.
  • Mercedes Lackey loves to include birds and intelligent avian creatures in her fantasy novels. Valdemar has gryphons, tervardi, and the Tayledras ("Hawkbrothers") and their semi-intelligent bond birds; the Free Bards books all have bird-themed titles; and The Black Swan has a minor character who's interested in falconry, who later received a short story of her own.
    • Also, something like 80% of her villains are rapists.
  • In all the Harry Potter books, by J. K. Rowling, spiders and socks are mentioned in passing several times, and both becoming huge plot points in the second book. There's even a giant talking spider character named Aragog. She also made a whole family of red headed heroes to counter the negative stereotypes of 'gingers' in the UK. She also made their last name "Weasley" specifically because she likes weasels and thinks they get a bad rap. By her own admission, Rowling likes odd and/or interesting names and words. She says that she "collects" them. Also, almost every character in the series has either a Meaningful Name or just an odd, medieval-style one, the titular character being one of the only exceptions. And as Stephen King once snarked, "Rowling never met an adverb she didn't like."
  • Brian Jacques fills his Redwall novels with pages upon pages of descriptions of the food the characters eat. So many different kinds of scones. There are also incredibly archaic riddles bordering on Moon Logic Puzzle and lots and LOTS of songs, the stories themselves being recounted by a storyteller/historian that has a connection to it, and having two stories that switch focus until they're both tied up in the end.
  • If McCoy appears in a Diane Duane novel, you can reasonably expect him to be awesome. This may or may not be related to the fact that the good doctor is smokin'.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold loves riverboating on the Ohio, and more than half of The Sharing Knife: Passage focuses on this pastime. Also horses and gardening.
  • Dan Simmons's novels are all love letters to his favorite literary works. The Hyperion Cantos contain an almost obscene number of references to John Keats. His Ilium and Olympus duology is based on The Iliad and Shakespeare while managing to fit in a great deal of discussion about Marcel Proust.
  • Every single book in James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet has a different serial killer and a different incestuous relationship. Ellroy is pretty upfront about his mental baggage: his beautiful mother, to whom he was sexually attracted, was brutally murdered when he was a child. They never found the killer. He has a memoir about this.
  • Everything by Leo Frankowski has both sexual and non-sexual Author Appeal. Especially Conrad's Time Machine, a book whose plot is as follows: Two Author Avatar s hang out together inventing a time machine, and spend the majority of the book whisked away to an tropical island where they become fabulously wealthy, enjoy the services of an Unwanted Harem, and finish inventing their time machine. It's also filled with quotes from Frankowski's own favorite authors, especially Heinlein.
  • Andre Norton: cats (AKA the "Brothers in Fur") and psychic/psionic powers (telepathy, psychometry, etc.).
  • Diana Wynne Jones and Wales/the Welsh language. There's also a lot of magical or quasi-magical cats to be found in her work.
  • Robert Forward's Camelot 30K is a hard science fiction novel that exists merely to showcase his elements-pooping one-eyed shrimp aliens and their Expy King Arthur society. Characterization, writing, pacing, dialog, and plausibility are all sacrificed just so Forward can play with his Starfish Aliens.
  • David Weber seems to have a thing for baseball. It's one thing when it shows up on Grayson, but it is also the favored sport on Safehold. The latter is especially bizarre, given that Safehold is at a Renaissance tech level. Weber also seems to have a thing for hexapodal mammalian and reptilian creatures, see the six legged animals of the planet Sphinx in the Honor Harrington series and most of the native fauna on Safehold.
  • James Lee Burke uses references to scent in his descriptions of people and places to a noticeably unusual degree.
  • Anne Rice seems to have a thing for European culture and overall history. And she likes describing elaborate clothing. She really likes describing clothing.
  • Roger Zelazny really has a thing for martial arts, especially fencing, tying things into mythology, and having the protagonist be a smoker. This comes from his own life, as he managed to be both a heavy smoker and study a number of the fighting arts. When he quit smoking in the '80s, his characters stopped as well. Vehicle accidents (much of his short fiction), immortality (Lord of Light, "And Call Me Conrad", etc.), twisting myths into interesting shapes (especially the Faust Legend, but most of his books are centered on one mythology, examples including Vedic, Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Zoroastrian, and Lovecraftian) and a world ruled by robots after the death of the human race (too many short stories to count.)
  • Clive Cussler almost always has a cameo of himself assisting the heroes in some way.
  • Steven Brust is another writer with a taste (pardon the pun) for Food Porn. He also has a thing (taken from Hungarian folklore iirc) for canny coachman characters. There's a couple in the Dragaera series, and in Freedom and Necessity, the protagonist disguises himself as a coachman at the beginning of the novel. Brust was also previously involved in music, so there are a number of musician characters in his books and one book has a lot of carefully disguised allusions to the Grateful Dead.
  • Roald Dahl loved nostalgia for his childhood, and food. Almost all of his books revolve around food in some way, and most of the Happy Endings his heroes get are based on food in some way.
  • Along with his obsession of going into absurd detail with characters getting diarrhea, periods, and wet trousers (possibly deliberate Squick), Stephen King also seems bent on all his stories being in Maine.
    • And if they aren't set there, they will definitely include some passing reference to the state at some point.
    • King also has a great fondness for protagonists who have either a dead sibling or a dead spouse.
  • The oeuvre of China Miéville is one great, big, twisted love letter to the city of London.
  • Dale Brown was a former bomber crewman, so most of his Cool Planes are bombers.
  • Eoin Colfer and Ireland.
  • Agatha Christie's second husband was an archaeologist. Several of her novels in the 1930s and 40s involve archaeology.
  • Chuck Palahniuk seems to have a thing for furniture stores and describing houses. And so far everyone of his books has mentioned the color cornflower blue. Palahniuk also loves loading his books with factoids, in the original sense: little factual statements that seem reasonable, but aren't true. The cleaning/cooking tips in Survivor are the archetypal example.
  • Are you the protagonist of a David Gemmell novel? Then your life will resemble the following description: A usually older man who used to be a warrior, but has turned his back on war after seeing and committing horrible acts. He has retreated to a place of solitude, like a monastary or a cabin in the mountains. This character will debate the morality of killing and war with himself and other characters. He might wonder if there really is a god in Heaven. Then, something terrible will happen and our hero once more takes up his sword and fights, but this time it's for a good cause! This is followed by him cleaving his way through enemies like a one-man army. Dying at the end of the story is optional.
  • Clifford Simak has a load of these.
    • His idea of time and time travelling is hard to describe and easy to identify, the main result of it is an infinite amount of parallel Earths existing, separated only by a fraction of time. So time travelling is going into another dimension.
    • A party of people going somewhere, disappearing one by one, the protagonist, the love interest and usually some kind of subhuman companion staying in the end. The party very often includes some sort of a really advanced alien. Cliff is usually very fond of making those parties as wacky and misfit as possible.
    • Semantics. If someone is explicitly using advanced semantics to manipulate people, you are reading a Clifford Simak book, no exceptions.
    • World peace, pacifism, humanism.
    • American countryside.
    • Decentralized human society.
    • Ridiculously advanced alien society. One that's usually willing to teach other, lesser races, including humanity, or at least has a huge library of some sort.
    • Robot civilizations.
    • Starfish Aliens. Silent gelatinous cubes that manipulate space and time and communicate with mathematical equations is a perfectly normal thing for Clifford.
    • Virginia. Small and boring towns where something weird happens, for the first time ever.
  • Spider Robinson is a huge fan of Robert A. Heinlein, and one of Heinlein's most ardent defenders. Needless to say, there are many similarities between Heinlein's work and Robinson's, particularly involving individual liberty, free love, and Shaggy Dog Stories ending in truly terrible puns. This is most evident in the Callahans Crosstime Saloon series and its various spinoffs.
  • Peter David has a number of these. Many of his Star Trek books at least once mention Alexander the Great, for instance.
  • Melisa Michaels:
    • Romani (Gypsy) culture appears in many of her works. In the Skyrider series, the belt has been populated heavily by Rom, and in Through the Eyes of the Dead, the murder investigation involves several Rom families living in San Francisco.
    • Hawaiian pidgin pops up regularly in her works; Melisa lived for many years on Oahu. The Translation Convention version of the Belter pidgin in the Skyrider series, for example, is strongly reminiscent of Hawaiian pidgin.
  • A Messianic Archetype, a Nietzsche Wannabe, a Casanova / Casanova Wannabe / Dirty Old Man, and a Tsundere walk into a Russian salon. They then proceed to debate the meaning of life for 1000 pages. One of them gets killed. Congratulations, you have the plot of any Fyodor Dostoevsky novel.
  • Jim Butcher has a thing for snark, badassery, Crazy Awesome Guile Heroes, and Gambit Pileups involving all of the above.
  • Terry Pratchett has copious amounts of Lampshade Hanging, Stealth Puns, and benign contempt for the common man.note 
  • Cameos, Tuckerizations, and other inclusions of fans and family as characters can be found throughout John Ringo's work, from his very first published novel, A Hymn Before Battle, onwards.
  • Bruce Coville has specifically 2-inches-tall people as a recurring pattern. The Monsters of Morley Manor? Two inches tall. Of the Rod Albright Alien Adventures books, the kids in I Left My Sneakers in Dimension X are described to be two inches tall compared to the monster Smorkus Flinders, if he was human size; and the aliens in Aliens Stole My Homework are two inches tall. In later sequels, it's revealed the aliens make themselves and their ship that small when they fly through space basically inexplicably. The sequel to I Was A Sixth Grade Alien includes the protagonist and his teacher subjected to a shrink ray that makes them two inches tall, at which point they are put inside a desk. In the third book, the classroom's two-inch tall hamsters turn out to be evil.

     Live Action TV 

  • Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac) gives frequent homages to Alien, The Fly (both the original and David Cronenberg's version), Scanners, and video games in his comics/ TV show. He's also a fan of giant robots, space in general, horrifying imagery, Body Horror, and certain words, most notably: doom, cheese, piggies, tacos, monkeys, moose, noodles, dooky, nachos, and bunnies. He even stated at ComicCon '07 that he's fascinated with plotlines of people who are "controlled and used" by others (Johnny and the Doughboys, Devi and Sickness), and that he also hates dogs and little kids (sans Squee).
  • Nick Cave loves flowers, violence, horror, poetry, and religious debate. He also enjoys portraying the Deep South, although it would be a stretch to say that he loved it.
  • Glenn Danzig enjoys singing about death, Satan, and demons.
  • Mamoru Oshii really likes Basset Hounds. He also has a thing for tanks in the rain.

  • John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants appears to enjoy writing about cranial trauma, while John Linnell likes personifying inanimate objects.
  • Rapper DMX is known for his love for dogs, which makes its way into many of his songs. His fifth album, Grand Champ, took it a bit further and stated that they can't just be any dogs, but pitbulls.
  • Trent Reznor likes pigs. A lot.
  • Mozart seemed to really like writing parts for basses and sopranos, as evidenced by many of his most famous characters, such as Figaro, Sarastro, Osmin, Leporello, the Queen of the Night, Constanze, and Zerlina. He also liked Toilet Humour.
  • Pink Floyd's Roger Waters' father, a pacifist, was killed in World War II in 1944 in Anzio, Italy. This proved to be a pivotal event in Roger's life. As a result, themes of war, politics, miscommunication, isolation and mortality often occur in his work in Pink Floyd and as a solo artist, especially starting with The Wall.
    • Other common Pink Floyd/Waters themes include madness, the music industry and the dangers of recreational drugs, all of which played a part in the breakdown of founder Syd Barrett, and reoccurred after the band's success in The Seventies. The Wall and especially Pros And Cons note , along with many of his works at least before them (if not since) explore relationships and faithfulness, a subject he was familiar with the falling apart of his marriage to his first wife Judy Trim fell apart by the mid-1970s particularly as Pink Floyd became more successful, and as the relationships and marriages other Pink Floyd members were also falling apart around him.
  • David Bowie loves writing and singing about apocalypses, dystopias, and cocaine. And science fiction/space-inspired subject matter shows up so often in his work that it became the basis for an article in The Onion, "NASA Launches David Bowie Concept Mission".
  • Olivier Messiaen was a lifelong birdwatcher, and traveled around the world to learn bird calls he could incorporate into his compositions.
  • Leonard Bernstein seems to have had a passion for ferocious percussion assaults, as demonstrated in the opening scene of On the Waterfront, the Credo of Mass (which at its climax has the percussionists "ad lib. hitting everything in sight"), and the prologue of A Quiet Place; this may also explain why West Side Story, whose original production got by with just two percussionists, has as many as five drum parts at once in the published full score. Bernstein also liked transferring rhythmic motifs to relatively pitched drums, as in "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs," the prologue of West Side Story, several sections of Mass and the first movement of "Divertimento for Orchestra" (which calls for snare drums in four pitches).
  • With the exception of her first album, every single one of Shiina Ringo's official albums' track listings is symmetrical (excluding bonus tracks). She also frequently deliberately gives her albums meaningful running times; for example, her Magnum Opus Karuki Samen Kuri no Kana runs for 44 minutes and 44.4 seconds, in conjunction with the album's Four Is Death theme.
  • David Byrne, both in his work with Talking Heads and in his solo music, is interested in the effects of mass media on consumers, and in the fluid nature of identity. Characters in his songs will consume a lot of fiction (particularly by watching TV), or they'll be unsure who they really are—or they'll be unsure who they are because they constructed their own personality from all the TV they watched.

  • Greg Kmiec always includes a solid red post on his playfields. The tradition started in The Seventies, when Bally refused to identify their designers for fear of competitors poaching their talent. Kmiec included a single plastic red post (at the time reserved for bingo games) as a way around the edict.
  • Pat Lawlor's pinball games almost always include some reference to "The Power", either as part of in-game dialogue or as an actual playfield element.
    • He also often has an illustration of a person holding a joystick with a red fire button.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Vince Russo loves pole matches. If you see a pole match in a WWE, WCW, or TNA show, Russo's booking this match. The pole matches are also for the craziest things. These include a rat, a bottle of Viagra, Judy Bagwell (they needed to use a forklift), a pinata, and the keys to Mick Foley's office, among other things.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons.
    • Mushrooms. The game has a variety of fungoid monsters: ascomoid, basidirond, phycomid, shrieker, ustilagor, violet fungi, Zuggtmoy the demoness lady of fungi, etc. For examples of mushrooms appearing in adventures, see Magic Mushroom and Fungus Humongous.
    • Shades of the color purple (violet, amethyst, heliotrope, lavender, lilac, magenta, mauve, plum, puce, etc.)
      • They appear repeatedly in Dungeons & Dragons modules B2 The Keep On The Borderlands, G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King, D3 Vault of the Drow, EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, S1 Tomb of Horrors, T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure and WG6 Isle of the Ape. In some cases they appeared so many times it appeared that Gygax had experienced a "purplegasm".
      • Dungeons & Dragons monsters associated with purple: azer (love purple gems), bar-igura demons (can change its color to purple), crysmals (can be deep violet colored), drow (violet eyes), forester's bane plant (stalks are purple), mind flayer/illithid (mauve skin), myconids (can be purple, animator spores create a purple fungus), ogres (purple eyes), phoenix (plumage, beaks and claws are partially violet), purple worm, retch plants (globes can be violet or lilac), shade (eyes can have a purple iris and pupil), storm giant (could have violet skin and purple eyes), twilight bloom (has purple flowers), violet fungi, Wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing plant (eyes can be violet).
    • Gygax also made a number of Lovecraftian references in Dungeons & Dragons, as evidenced by such creatures as the Kuo-Toa (inspired by Lovecraft's Deep Ones), the Aboleth (inspired by some sort of Great Old One), the Illithids (which are a race of Cthulhus without the bat wings), the Elder Elemental God (shown in G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King as being shaped like a Chthonian) and certain elements of terror in the temple of the Eldritch Abomination gods. He outright acknowledged Lovecraft as an important influence on D&D. Gygax needed a lot of content to make the game work, so he drew from a very large number of sources. He didn't quite make D&D into an All Myths Are True setting, but he came pretty close.
    • Also his fantastically large and baroque vocabulary, which might have had an element of showing off. Such as "quaff", "dweomer", "draught", "chapeau", "billet", etc. He regularly used certain phrases such as "Of course", "Let us say" and "So to speak" as well.
    • And polearms... Ever want to know why the glaive-guisarme seems to crop up in D&D so much?
  • James Jacobs, one of the major contributors to Pathfinder, really likes dinosaurs. In general, the Paizo creative team seems to like dinosaurs; Lovecraftian abominations; horror, pulp adventure, and sci-fi elements; and putting the iconic characters in elaborate outfits.
  • White Wolf, the writers of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, made it very obvious they preferred Humans, Elves, and Dwarves over the other races (especially the Trolls and the entirely absent Draenei) in the series. Even in the Horde Player's guide, they'd go on about elves, dwarves, and humans.

  • William Shakespeare loves comparing things to gardening, falconry, and hunting with dogs. He also loves crossdressing characters, but that was a fairly common schtick at the time. When he was writing, women were not permitted to be actors, and as such all of the female characters ''were'' men, and he thought it would be funny to make jokes based on that.
    • His continual description of rebellion and social breakdown in terms of cannibalism/self-consumption. Although perhaps this belongs in the 'Miscellaneous Paraphilia' section.
    • In many plays he has a designated metaphor that keeps cropping up. For instance, Hamlet is full of references to disease, the one set in Scotland has lots of mentions of birds of prey, and so on.
  • Tom Stoppard frequently references William Shakespeare. The guy who wrote a play deconstructing Hamlet with two of its bit players as the main characters

     Video Games 
  • Totaka's Song, a short, 19 note tune hidden in almost every game Kazumi Totaka has worked on as a composer, and first discovered in the tank game X. These three videos document but a fraction of the time and effort gamers have invested in finding the melody.
  • Shinji Mikami from Resident Evil fame has a thing for masked wrestlers and Sentai as demonstrated in games where he can actually get away with it. (Killer7 had MASK de Smith and the Punishing Rangers AKA The Handsome Men, God Hand had Mr. Gorilla Mask and the Mad Midget Five.)
  • Goichi Suda AKA Suda51 likes Mind Screw A LOT. He also seems to have a thing for gratuitious gore, semi-futuristic decadent places with slashes of Magical Realism, and rave music. He also seems to love lucha libre, as seen in No More Heroes, where the player character collects luchadore masks (who all have names like "La Guerra, Jr.") and learns new wrestling moves from finding masks with notes in them. Suda51 even wears a luchador outfit in some press releases. And as mentioned above, there is MASK de Smith, who is a luchador.
  • By this time, it's became quite obvious that Square-Enix designer Tetsuya Nomura is obsessed with zippers and belts. And as of Dissidia: Final Fantasy, he has added earrings to his obsession, as only four characters out of twenty lack them, and only because two of those are covered head to toe in ludicrously huge armor. But even that is dubious defense, as even Garland, whose helmet covers his entire head, wears earrings on the helmet where the ears would be.
  • Castlevania Czar Koji "IGA" Igarashi seems to have a weird fixation with furniture, namely chairs. Dracula always waits for the Belmont sitting in his throne before the final fight. His son Alucard and Soma who's his reincarnation can also catch some rest sitting down in the many chairs they encounter.
    • An example comes from Castlevania: Curse of Darkness where former henchman Hector can collect more than 10 different types of chairs scattered all around the stages and store them in the aptly named "Weary Chair Room".
    • Also, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. Most Castlevania heroes can collect weapons, magical items, and such. Juste Belmont collects random items of furniture and decorates an empty room of the castle with them. You know, the castle he intends to destroy.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto has implemented personal interests into many of his games, including Pikmin (gardening), Nintendogs, Wii Fit, and Wii Music. Nintendo later banned him from talking about his current hobbies. His earlier works were rather definitely based on his childhood experiences, too. In fact, the premise of The Legend of Zelda was based on his exploration of caves as a child. In an interview for a game-developer site, he flat-out tells other designers to base their games on things they like.

    Miyamoto has admitted to being a Western fan, which is particularly apparent in the 3D Zelda games. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess all have Epona, Ocarina of Time has Lon Lon Ranch, Majora's Mask has Romani Ranch, and Twilight Princess has the redesigned Kakariko Village, the Hidden Village, Ordon Ranch and the plot similarities with The Searchers.

    He also designs things so that their function is apparent when looking on them, i.e. The Goomba was designed so you'd jump on them, and any enemy, or obstacle, with spikes is something you should avoid. He has said to his production staff "when in doubt, use spikes". This comes from his background in Industrial Design in high school.
  • Yuji Horii of Dragon Quest fame is a compulsive gambler which is why many of the games in the series have some sort of gambling mini-game in it. (Though its been said that the fact that you can only save in the town's churches is a way to try to make going out in the field/dungeons feel a bit more of a gamble as well.)
  • Guilty Gear character designer Daisuke Ishiwatari seems to use belts as a unifying motif minus a few rare cases (Anji Mito has only a sash). Sol Badguy tops the list with 24 belts in his costume design. Funnily enough, the costumes still manage to look pretty cool. He also loves rock music; almost every character in the series is a reference to either a famous rock musician or a band. Queen seems to be his favorite, with nearly every aspect of Sol referring to something about either the band itself or Freddie Mercury.
  • There are so many Flash and Interactive Fiction games about escaping from a locked room remarkably like, say, a programmer's bedroom (usually complete with bed, closet and computer) that it has become its own genre. This might have to do with a throwback to early adventure games, which seized on the genre because of technical limitations; it's a lot easier to write and code a game about a single room than it is about, say even a small apartment.
  • Hideo Kojima tells people that instead of being 70% water like normal people, he's 70% movies. As a child, he would often come home to an empty house and sometimes claims that he was raised by movies. As a result, not only do his games homage all his favourite movies to the point where they're almost Massively Multiplayer Crossover Fan Fiction, but many of his characters are also movie fans (although the only one explicitly 'raised' on movies is Raiden and he's anything but an upstanding member of society).
  • Matt Roszak of Epic Battle Fantasy fame loves Final Fantasy, Pokémon, anime, and cats. Pretty much every single one of his works contains homages to the first three, often in the form of blatant Shout Outs, as well as copious amounts of cats, and is drawn in a very Animesque fashion.
  • Games with Viktor Antonov on art direction tend to feature some very signature elements—clashing classical and futuristic architecture, angular blue-grey metal structures, and tall, spindly robotic creatures. Half-Life 2 and Dishonored practically look like they're set in the same universe.
  • Rare: Keys, enormous keys, bigger and heavier than the characters, the most famous being the infamous ice key from Banjo-Kazooie/ Banjo Tooie. Both Diddy Kong Racing and Donkey Kong 64 feature gigantic gold keys as plot coupons; finding or using a key is always a momentous occasion.
    • Really small main characters, compared to everything else around them, almost causing a perpetual Macro Zone. Even if the character in question is an animal that is very large in real life (like bears or gorillas).
  • Masahiro Sakurai is quite infamous for this, with his games including SOME idea taken from previous works. Most of the time, said elements are from Kirby, but recently, he also seems to have loved implementing elements from Kid Icarus: Uprising for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS.

  • Erika's New Perfume contains certain things that pop up in most of the author's other works, such as Fountain of Youth.
  • Penny Arcade is all about things the authors like, but also seems to feature a lot of terrifying aliens and strange creatures for little reason.
    • Jerry Holkins (Tycho) is a massive Cthulhu nerd. Really, what else can you expect from a mind that writes things like this?
  • Living with Insanity: The writer's projects all have couples in them. According to the blog posts, LWI would include more gaming and comic references, but the artist avoids jokes he doesn't understand.
  • Andrew Hussie likes including horses, or horselike creatures such as centaurs, in his work, more often than not exaggerated in musculature (he also paid good money for a picture of a flaming stallion facing a football player, and used to do ironic reviews of muscular horse porn). When questioned about this, he responded that "horses are funny". He also seems to be very fond of hip-hop/rap and the culture surrounding it, perhaps best exemplified with And It Don't Stop.

     Web Original 
  • There's an unclickable "Joy of Painting" toon on Homestar Runner that shows Marzipan dressed as Bob Ross painting a picture of a mountain landscape. Matt and Mike Chapman, creators of Homestar Runner, admitted that they only did this because they thought showing Granola Girl Marzipan with a beard would be funny. A lot of the stuff at Homestar Runner is based on the creators' childhood. Note the frequent appearance of breakfast cereals and Merchandise-Driven Saturday morning cartoons, the sibling rivalry between Strong Bad and his brother Strong Sad, the characters' Vague Age, and in-universe Nightmare Fuel.
  • How else do you explain the contortion scenes in Sapphire Episode III?
  • The stories by SD40kanote  often enough star a male computer programmer, who marries/is married to a genius woman, and either or both of them recently served America proudly in Iraq thank-you-very-much. The characters are always staunch political conservatives, often actively reshaping the fictional universe into a Republican Paradise. He plugs that his (genius!) characters love the Cato Institute and, just in passing. There's even the occasional Easy Evangelism of a merely misguided (rather than Evil) liberal. And everyone accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, without whom there was a great big hole in their hearts. In fact, it's a lot like the Chick Tracts, only with lots of monogamous sex with big penises.
  • Doug Walker really has a thing for broken, insane jerks who'll never get what they want but they'll keep on trying. The Nostalgia Critic is a perfect example of this, and Ask That Guy with the Glasses is getting there (as a more depraved version) with the amount of Sanity Slippage he's been put through. You also notice that much of the comedy he enjoys (ranging from Daffy Duck to Blackadder) is based on this.
  • They're best known for their Goth aesthetic, but Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab also really likes creating perfume inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft (and Lovecraft Lite) and pirates.

     Western Animation 
  • Butch Hartman's love of Star Wars and Comic Books, as well as his hatred of jocks, cheerleaders, popular kids, rich kids and anyone else who picked on him in high school shines throughout his work. This includes The Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom, and the never-picked-up Crash Nebula. He also has a habit of making his protagonists Book Dumb losers who are also crazy about space and comic books.
  • Greg Weisman is a self-described "Shakespeare nut, probably with the emphasis on 'nut'". Gargoyles had Puck, Oberon and Titania, the Weird Sisters and MacBeth as recurring characters, and another trio known in the script as Othello, Iago, and Desdemona. Meanwhile, The Spectacular Spider-Man has a running subplot about a School Play of A Midsummer Night's Dream - in particular, "Growing Pains" takes advantage of the auditions to have Shakespeare quotes punctuate the story.
  • The Venture Bros. creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, on the DVD
  • Many characters throughout Matt Groening productions have the middle initial "J." (Homer Jay Simpson, Bartholomew J. Simpson, Mona J. Simpson, Philip J. Fry, and Hubert J. Farnsworth) as a reference to the creator of Bullwinkle J. Moose
  • South Park co-creator Trey Parker lived in Japan for several years and loves Japanese culture, and as a result the show frequently pokes fun at Japan and its people. Notably the jokes picked up a bit around the time he married his Japanese-American wife (for example, the comment about "a friend marrying an Asian woman" in the ginger kids episode). He also has a music degree, which explains the songs of South Park (The Movie was a musical and the early episodes in particular had Chef sing in every episode).
  • Seth Mac Farlane (Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, dads) loves Star Wars, musicals, and he finds deaf people hilarious. Also, either Seth or somebody in his staff has a thing for idiotic fat kids. He also loves characters who logically shouldn't be able to talk but do. Like Stewie, Klaus, and Tim the bear. Another sign of this is MacFarlane's constant insistence on promoting LGBT-tolerance and anti-racism storylines, only to very consistently portray LGBT and POC characters as poorly written stereotypes.
  • Brad Bird works the number A113—a reference to a room at CalArts used by animation and graphic design students—into all of his projects: Family Dog, Simpsons episodes, The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille. This has since become a widespread animation in-joke.
  • One My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic writer has a disproportionate number of mental breakdown episodes.

Alternative Title(s):

Creator Insignia, Director Trademark