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Signature Style
"I mean, it's not that I necessarily wouldn't draw a cartoon like Henry or Snuffy Smith or Blondie, it's that I can't. If I drew Blondie, for example, it would still come out looking like The Far Side; Daisy would get rabies and bite Dagwood, who'd go insane and have Mr. Dithers stuffed — whatever that means."
Gary Larson, The PreHistory of The Far Side

Authors have styles. It's common and acceptable that, when people write often, they start to develop a distinct way of writing, or an arbitrary favouritism for one of their characters, places, or even a specific name.

Some authors, though, have internalized a single style to such extent that it's noticeable in anything they happen to write, co-write, or in extreme cases, even inspire. There are extreme cases in which, without knowing who wrote the work you're watching/reading, you can say "Hey, it has to be <insert author name here>!", because his/her style is too distinct and famous not to recognize.

Visual artists, and movie directors, have similar styles in not only their stories but the spectacle.

Related to Author Appeal, Author Catchphrase. See also Creator Thumbprint. Compare Hey, It's That Guy!.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Art 
  • M.C. Escher took a great deal of inspiration from the geometric designs in the Alhambra, a Moorish palace he saw on a trip to Spain. However, his works can readily be told apart by the one thing he found fault with in those designs — whereas they were all abstract, in accordance with Islamic prohibitions against realistic art, Escher's art always has something that's alive.
  • H. R. Giger is a serious, serious, serious case of Freud Was Right; all of his artwork contains nightmarish sexual imagery depicting the merge of flesh and machinery with strong phallic and erotic overtones. You probably recognize his work from the Alien franchise. The xenomorphs? They look like giant dicks for a reason.

    Fanfiction 

    Music Videos 
  • Michel Gondry has a personal style. Most of his videos are weird in one or more ways. Some have trippy morphing environments and multiplying objects; others are set in a crude, theater-like scenery and feature puppets. He may also break the boundary between an in-video fiction (TV show/book/dream) and reality, or make a musicological rendition of the song. And if it's filmed with a shaky camera, it might also be one continuous shot.
  • If it's a Tool video, it's going to feature some form of stop-motion animation, eerie and disturbing imagery, the characters will come straight out of the Uncanny Valley, and the band won't be in the video. The only major aversion to this is "Hush". The only other aversion is "Sober," where there are glimpses of the band members.
  • Russell Mulcahy's videos were all filmed in a highly cinematic style back when nearly all music videos were still being shot in video and almost always were filmed on location in some beautiful and/or majestic setting. He also liked utilizing split screens and widescreen footage, and was doing slightly surreal music videos back when a lot of videos were simply performance videos with a little added footage thrown in.
  • Ok Go have a tendency towards visually impressive and surprisingly cheaply made videos, using a lot of primary colours or other effects that stand out, and often consisting of a single shot.
  • Roman White, who directs mainly for Country Music artists, loved to use loads of effects, computer graphics, green-screen, and Undercrank. He also had a tendency to make videos that have little or nothing to do with the song's narrative, such as the video for Carrie Underwood's "So Small". Later videos find him taking a much more straightforward approach.

    Pinball 
  • Steve Ritchie:
    • An emphasis on combos and non-stop flowing shots (Black Knight, Terminator 2: Judgment Day).
    • A Combo shot: outer left loop shot to the upper right flipper, for a shot to an upper loop or side ramp.
    • A wide left outlane, with a kickback to shoot the ball back into play.
    • Two sets of three targets, just above the triangle bumpers.
  • His brother, Mark Ritchie, prefers:
    • Crisscrossing ramps (see Taxi, Fish Tales, and Diner).
    • Long shots from the lower flippers to the top of the playfield.
    • Gradually escalating rules.
    • Timed modes and jackpot shots, where the player has to light a target and then shoot it in a few seconds to collect.
    • Multiple ways to win a game, and the lack of a Wizard Mode.
  • Pat Lawlor's tables have:
    • The "Bumper Shot", requiring the player to shoot a ball between a set of pop bumpers to hit a crucial target.
    • There are at least three flippers on a table, with flippers high on the board positioned to hit high-scoring shots.
    • "Soft plunge" Skill Shots.
    • Dual inlanes on either side of the playfield.
    • Spinning discs or magnets beneath the board that throw off the ball's trajectory.
    • Thematically-related gimmicks, such as the shaker motor in Earthshaker! that made the entire cabinet shake during the game.
    • A general aversion to any sort of Video Mode.
  • John Popadiuk is fond of:
    • A theme based on magic or mysticism (Theatre of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Magic Girl).
    • A unique or original playfield toy.
    • A reduced emphasis on pop bumpers.
    • At least one captive ball target, positioned asymmetrically on the field.
    • Magnets to catch the ball, send it in unexpected directions, or both.
  • George Gomez:
    • Only two flippers.
    • Long shots from the flippers up the board to a variety of ramps.
    • A saucer on the middle-left side of the playfield.
    • Very precise shots.
    • A design focusing on straight lines and rails.
  • Dennis Nordman games tend to have:
    • Wiggling, swirling, and/or rollercoaster-style ramps (the helicopter in Special Force, the "Monster Slide" in Elvira and the Party Monsters , "Insanity Falls" in White Water).
    • At least one vertical up-kicker.
    • A spinning disc, either to bounce the pinball around a chamber or as part of a playfield toy.
  • Games from Jon Norris tend to include:
    • Choices between two awards (dowplayed in Tee'd Off, played up in Street Fighter II and played straight in High Roller Casino)
    • Gambling motifs.
    • Multiple wizard modes, usually with at least one that can only be played once per game.
    • Strongly emphasized center shots (the cue ball in Cue Ball Wizard, the gopher hole in Tee'd Off, Ra's Pyramid in Stargate, and the ramp in High Roller Casino.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Professional Wrestling writer Vince Russo has cultivated a signature style characterized largely by Americentrism, misogyny, Shocking Swerves, and the attention span of a gnat. Fans often refer to storylines and gimmicks that show Russo's fingerprints as "Russo-riffic"; this is not a compliment.
    • Also, pole matches. Insane objects on top of poles at every corner of the ring. Expect any sort of tangible object at the center of a dispute to be put on a pole. And if there is no object in dispute, he'll put a weapon of some sort on a pole. Just because.

    Theater 
  • Tim Rice likes his idioms. Also never has more than two female protagonists. His lyrics also have a remarkable ability to sound like normal conversations that just coincidentally happen to fit a certain rhythm and rhyme scheme.
  • If you're watching a play with a vast number of literary references and Genius Bonuses, if the dialogue is peppered with puns and if the play looks like a simple love story but turns into a debate on the nature of art or reality, then it's by Tom Stoppard.

    Video Games 
  • Many companies include at least one Shout-Out in every game. Blizzard threw a couple into Warcraft I, spiced a few dozen into Warcraft II, and now they just go crazy with it.
  • It seems customary for most BioWare games to have a heroic sociopath on the protagonist's team. Teenage girls who have a tendency to be thieves/technical experts. (Imoen, Mission, Tali, Wild Flower, Sigrun, etc). These apply even when Bioware adapt other franchises, as is the case with Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Heroic sociopath? Shadow, for starters, and also two other playable characters, Eggman, who is at points mandatory, and secret character Omega. Thieving, technical expert teenager? Rouge the Bat. These characters are like this in Sega's offerings, too, but that their roles are either unusually flattering (Shadow, Eggman), or unusually prominent (Rouge, Omega) in Chronicles.
    • Bioware also has a habit to write "general" epic save the world plots with the protagonist being the "chosen one". In contrast, games written by Chris Avellone tend to focus more on given protagonist's own story/person/coming of (heroic) age and philosophy.
    • Traditionally, every game must begin with a routine mission (usually the tutorial level, but in Dragon Age II it was the entire first chapter) that goes horribly wrong and leaves the protagonist as the only person left to carry the torch.
    • They usually include romance options, and are now adding same-sex options.
    • Really, it can all be summed up in this chart and this article.
  • Character designs by Tetsuya Nomura's character designs tend to overlap both in personality types and clothing style. Expect lots of...
    • A: perky young boys/men with spiky hair.
    • B: Silver or blue haired men with ANGST!
    • C: Chipper and generally positive female archetypes.
    • Lots of belts and zippers too!
  • Other main Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano has plenty of signature elements too.
    • Blond women. He really likes blond women.
    • Tall, long-haired, slender and willowy, bejeweled and tastefully made-up, fine-featured and alabaster-skinned... men.
      • Relatedly, the man is so fond of white- or silver-haired bishonen that he may well be one of the Trope Codifiers for use of this trope in the modern era.
    • Capes.
    • Sashes.
    • Leotards on female characters.
    • Lots of beads.
  • Other other major Final Fantasy character designer, Akihiko Yoshida, has a couple elements of his own:
    • Fond of thigh-high leather boots on characters male and female, young and old alike.
    • Possibly ties into a fondness for bondage-themed clothing designs in general.
    • Allergic to noses.
  • Other other other major Final Fantasy character designer Toshiyuki Itahana, appears to be a breast and leg man. Unique leggings or tight bodysuits are common. Check out the character designs for Garnet or most of the female characters in the Crystal Chronicles series (especially Chime and Belle) for examples of this.
  • Final Fantasy's graphics rendering of characters in general has a very distinctive style, which makes it obvious when another game is copying it with a cheap rearangement of character X's body, character Y's heir, and character Z's outfit.
  • Hideo Kojima would like to remove that ugly Fourth Wall or at least paint it a more interesting color.
  • Games that Tim Schafer's been at tend to transpose a standard premise onto a non-standard setting (Grim Fandango is a film noir/romance...in the South American mythological afterlife, Psychonauts is about a runaway kid attending a summer camp...for psychics, Brütal Legend has an ordinary man thrown into a fantasy world...which happens to have a landscape resembling every Heavy Metal album cover ever produced). They're also full of foreshadowing, almost excessive amounts of throwaway detail and characterization, and...weird. A lot of weird. No, more weird than that.
  • ZUN seems to have a penchant for Little Miss Badass characters who wear really frilly dresses (though in later works, the outfits aren't as frilly). Oh, and lots and lots of Nice Hats. His music is also very distinctive, and it's easy to tell when he's been called on to compose for a game outside the main series.
  • Valve loves post-apocalyptic settings, especially cities, and abandoned installations.
  • Suda51 makes, for the most part, strongly character-driven games with intricate stories, about which he often doesn't bother to explain everything of. He likes to incorporate real life events into his stories, but almost always has an element of Body Snatching to them. He will always have at least one character that has blocked out a traumatic memory from his past, and an important point of character development is the character acknowledging and overcoming this event, which Suda refers to as "killing the past". His games will also have a post-modern feel to the interface, and will always show close-ups of characters, either when they're introduced, or whenever they're speaking. His games will invariably feature tons of shout-outs to movies, and include Professional Wrestling moves in at least one character's arsenal. Luchadores, too. He's also big into raining blood, revolvers, and toilets (especially related to defecation).
  • Kinoko Nasu has a natural gift for writing believable characters whom you either want to hug or Love to Hate. The former especially concerns his female characters, each of whom is a one-of-a-kind mixture of genuine personality, Fetish Fuel (or Moe Moe, depending on who you ask), and plain good Badass. Thematically, his plots often revolve humans' relationship with Mother Earth and feature Bittersweet Endings (at best). And he has an Eye Fetish.
    • One thing that is present in all of his work is super-powered female leads. The main heroine is either the most powerful being in the series or one of the most powerful. However, she is often in circumstances where she can't use her full power so that others can at least fight with her on equal grounds.
    • Also, alter-egos of some sort, be it Split Personality, or a Future Badass.
  • People Can Fly, the developers of Painkiller, have a knack for games with massive numbers of enemies on-screen at once, fun, catharthic gunplay in unsettling, creepy environments, and huge, epic fights against massive boss monsters. Even after the company was absorbed by Epic Games, many players felt that the extra content the team cooked up for the PC version of Gears of War was the single best part of the entire game.
  • Ryukishi07, creator of the When They Cry franchise and Ookami Kakushi: Murder, Nightmare Fuel, Tear Jerker's, Bishōnen, Bishoujo, Dark and Troubled Past's, The Power of Friendship, child abuse, and Town with a Dark Secret's.
  • Spiderweb Software has a pronounced tendency towards the Lemony Narrator, apparently coming from its chief designer, Jeff Vogel.
  • It's pretty easy to pick out Grant Kirkhope's work on soundtracks for Rare, particularly Donkey Kong 64 and the Banjo Kazooie franchise. The vast majority of his compositions all share a similar song structure (it's virtually guaranteed that at some point the melody and harmony will be flipped to have the main theme played in the basss clef), and can mostly be written in the key of C. This is by no means a bad thing though, as almost all his work also counts as Crowning Music of Awesome.
    • One other quirk is that the boss battle music will be a more dramatic rendition of the music heard in the rest of the level.
    • Rareware also has a very distinct art style, especially noticeable in the N64 era. Many of their games feature cartoon animals such as Banjo, Donkey Kong and Conker, as well as sentient inanimate objects such as a talking toilet in Banjo Tooie, the pinatas in Viva Piñata, and least we forget The Great Mighty Poo of Conker's Bad Fur Day fame. Also expect most of the characters to have giant Sphere Eyes. Another trait of Rareware's games is that they're generally quite comedic, so the colorful cartoony style suits their games well.
  • If the RPG is well-written, epic, funny, poignant, and terrifically overambitious; if it's less about Saving the World and more about your character's personal journey; if it has no happy love stories but instead ones that are unrequited or horribly tragic; if it takes some staple RPG cliché and does really really nasty things with it; if you're betrayed by the last character you'd expect to betray you; if everybody has an agenda that may or may not coincide with yours; and if you find the most spectacular battles are fought not with swords or guns but words - lots and lots and lots of words - it's a fair bet that game involved Chris Avellone. He also has a philosophy degree that he tends to show off, particularly in Planescape: Torment.
  • Many games by where Edmund Mcmillen is involved in, feature weird anatomy and life cycle-related themes, including unborn creatures.
  • Hideki Kamiya likes designing his characters on basic concepts that usually come down "What would be awesome?" Dante was Coolness, Viewtiful Joe was Style, Bayonetta was Beauty and Ammy from Okami was because he thought making the main character a wolf would be neat. Also, expect his main characters to dash around like kids with a sugar addiction and have over the top attacks. Also expect battles to be viewed primarily from an isometric angle (With full 3D environments), gigantic bosses which require specific and over-the-top finishing moves, lifebars that double up on themselves when they exceed the max capacity, and only being able to dodge due to lack of a block command (although Ōkami and The Wonderful 101 let you block).
  • id Software has a thing for first-person shooter games that start out with dreams of being something else.note  Expect a typical Hyperspace Arsenal with at least one reference to the original BFG, and a choice of shotguns where the double-barreled one has a horribly unrealistic range compared to the other shotgun.
  • Shoot-em-ups by Shinobu Yagawa are infamous for various game mechanics, such as rank, collecting items without dropping any points, collecting bomb bits rather than whole bomb items, and bombing generously to reap even more points.
  • "There is always a lighthouse, there's always a man, there's always a city." Ken Levine games in a nutshell. He is also fond of the Genre Deconstruction of gameplay (Mission Control in System Shock 2 and ''BioShock) and political (utopianism, specifically objectivism and American exceptionalism) systems. The narrative is usually set up around a naive Player Character who is dropped in the middle of a Punk Punk setting during or after a cataclysmic event or conflict. The hybridization of FPS and RPG elements is also critical, as is the use of secondary powers such as Plasmids and Vigors.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto is well-known for making games that have gameplay over story as one of their priorities. In contrast, Miyamoto's pupils Eiji Aonuma and Yoshiaki Koizumi have preferred to insert complex and thoughtful stories within the games. Most of the resulting games offer a middle aspect between the two opposite visions, which itself has become a joint signature style (though in some cases Miyamoto does manage to upend the table for a more gameplay centric game).
  • Back in the 80's, Sierra had a stable of writers who were all fond of writing Guide Dang It, Nintendo Hard, Unwinnable by Design adventure games. Each writer, though, handled it differently. Roberta Williams went Lighter and Softer, rewarding lateral thinking, Solve the Soup Cans, and the odd Moon Logic Puzzle. Her games rewarded players who thought their way out and took a non-violent approach if possible. Al Lowe was responsible for Leisure Suit Larry and Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, loading his games with risque humor, pop-culture references, and a little Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Starbreeze Studios, the studio behind games like The Chronicles of Riddick, Escape from Butcher Bay, Assault on Dark Athena and The Darkness, are known for the following: Strong storytelling and atmosphere, stylish visuals, extreme amounts of violence and Gorn (that range from the amusing to the disturbing), a gravely voiced protagonist and the casting of Dwight Schultz as the Big Bad. When the team that made up the studio left to start MachineGames in 2009, the former members took the usual tropes they used before and applied them to their first project, Wolfenstein: The New Order.
  • Taro Yoko, the director responsible for the general tone and characterization of NieR and the Drakengard series, has a pretty noticeable directorial style. His casts are always comprised of Dysfunction Junction, and tend to have pretty bizarre quirks. He has also established himself as a Trolling Creator and seems to have a thing for Playing The Player, particularly when it comes to the endings of his games. Drakengard in particular is infamous for its joke ending, which earned Yoko so much ire he had to "hide out in a bunker" until the backlash died down. If you want a secondary source of entertainment in his games, tick a box every time one of these elements makes an appearance: identical twins (or just straight up Opposite Sex Clones), siblings with troubled relationships, magical flowers, beautiful women with grotesque secrets (who may be vicious and brutal warriors or monsters or both), character duality, robots, incest, cannibalism, and children suffering hideously.
  • The tables created by Zen Studios for Zen Pinball tend to have many things in common: Three or more flippers, modes that do not stack (on most tables, if not in a normal state, anything not related to an objective at hand is worth minimal points and does not qualify towards anything), Timed Missions, very strong emphasis on ramps (Iron Man has 4), a playfield longer and wider than a normal machine, at least one multiball mode required to reach a Wizard Mode, multi-stage wizard modes, narrow shots, multi-level playfields, generous and easy-to-obtain ball savers, a kickback on both outlanes, and Skill Shots requiring soft plunges.
  • If you play a game by Treasure it's either going to be really weird, really hard, or both at once. Their games thrive on strange Japanese humor, intense and over-the-top action, spectacular boss fights and brutally difficult arcade-style gameplay. Their games also often have a colorful and exaggerated anime art-style.
  • Games from Nippon Ichi have a few reoccurring traits. They specialize in retro-style strategy RPGs, using 2D sprites and an isometric view. Their games are also often massively addictive time sinks, thanks to their absurdly high level caps and tons of content. Finally, they also have a distinct sense of humor that will appeal to Otaku in particular, often poking fun at tropes in video games and anime.

    Web Comics 
  • David Willis, author of the Walkyverse, has cultivated a paranoid fanbase for his works, due to his use of extremely subtle foreshadowing that might not pay off until years later. He also has a way of flip-flopping between humor (often potty humor) and serious drama. Expect references to superheroes and comic books to show up now and then.
    • Visually, his art tends towards cartoony and simple, with as few lines as possible.
    • Also, expect Author Tract rants of a character against an offensive caricature of a reader in response to a single post he found in an obscure section of a forum or that got sent at him on Twitter, usually extremely confusing since he rarely to never provides any kind of link to tell you what he is talking about.
      • Sometimes blatantly treats rather specific disagreements he's had with other people as if they're some sort of universal experience we've all had, which, again, will probably just confuse someone that is just there to read a comic about retail employees (or whatever) that to that point has had reasonably consistent continuity and a strong fourth wall.
  • Brian Clevinger of 8-Bit Theater, Atomic Robo and How I Killed Your Master tends to have overly cynical protagonists and worlds, a loving and heavy use of as many tropes as the genre allows, references to comic books and cartoons, Deadpan Snarkers out the wazoo, and jokes on the audience, usually in the form of either an Anti-Climax or horribly depressing Black Comedy.
  • Phil Foglio has a distinct art style, but beyond that you'll often find Gambit Pileups, Large Hams, busty women, and Nice Hats. Lots of Nice Hats.
  • Before Living With Insanity, David Herbert's webcomics tended to star Jerk Ass protagonists who were anti-social, yet surrounded by loyal friends, and were always working for the greater good. He seems to have changed his style only slightly though. Both LWI and Gemini Storm have protagonists who are borderline insane and are partnered with men who are much more competent. However, both series were created at the same time (Gemini Storm #1 taking a year to produce), so who knows what kind of stars will be featured in his next work?
    • His new style seems to have a man and woman as protagonists in various relationships. Living With Insanity has David and Alice, who are roommates, Gemini Storm featuring a brother and sister, and Domain Tnemrot has a surrogate father and daughter relationship. Just Another Day has the woman as the antagonist.
  • Sandra K Fuhr is known for superb character development, making good use of the World of Weirdness trope, well written gay main characters and ending her happy funny comics with a heavy dosage of Cerebus Syndrome. Her latest comic, Other People's Business, though it maintains her usual style, it is much darker from the outset, the plot having been kickstarted by one of the main characters' parents possibly being murdered. It may have been something much worse. The about page warns you two important things: 1) Not everyone is going to get a happy ending and 2) The characters are lying to you.
  • Tycho of Penny Arcade tends to use lots of long, verbose words, writing for several sentences in a Purple Prose style, before suddenly dropping back down to a more normal meter for a low brow joke. The mix of modern internet slang and SAT words tends to make for a unique style.
  • Andrew Hussie tends to use flowery and erudite language and mix it up with normal or even crude narration, is fond of using incredibly obscure words and punny portmanteaus when naming things like magical artifacts or game mechanics (which are usually written with capital letters), tends to create highly intricate plots with numerous protagonists and with countless Chekhovs Guns made from the most innocuous things, and his writing is very self-aware and features a lot of Lampshade Hanging and subverting the audience's expectations. He is also fond of drawing realistic caricatures of celebrities that border on the Uncanny Valley.
  • Mash-ups of made of pictures from old periodicals is something found only in Wondermark.
  • Ryan Armand's comics tend to feature Mood Whiplash (especially for the sake of a gag), characters who find their absurd situations normal, females who look vaguely Asian, and a very vague, yet nice-looking, setting that can move the story just as much as dialogue. Also, his art style is about fifty years out of date.
  • As for Style Wager well he doesn't like using commas. No he doesn't not at all.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Signature Sound EffectSignature TropesStock Costume Traits
Shown Their WorkCreator Standpoint IndexThey Just Didn't Care
Signature SceneAdded Alliterative AppealSilent Scapegoat
Short CircuitFunny/FilmCredits Roll

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