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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!.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Chris Claremont could be said to have such characteristics, most notably his famously distinct yet uniform dialogue in which characters, regardless of education or current situation, inevitably speak in complex sentences, seldom finishing in less than a paragraph, using verbiage reminiscent of an educated Englishman, with influences of culture and personality appearing only as interruptions in or minor affectations to otherwise wicked smooth speech. This, however, inevitably strives to capture the essence of the character, despite the abandonment of a unique speech pattern in favor of a common one, by exposing opinions, motivations, and past details that might otherwise have been difficult to illustrate.
    • As well, certain phrases known as "Claremontisms" show up repeatedly in his work, and his foreign characters speak perfect English except for random interjections in their native language, tovarisch! A helpful list of typical Claremontisms here. Also, as noted below, Claremont characters tend to be well-versed in myth, and a larger than strictly plausible number of them are SF lit geeks.
    • Claremont is also well-known for creating strong, powerful heroines. Who happen to be ludicrously attractive. With not infrequent suggestions of attraction to one another.
  • Frank Miller is famous for his ''hard-boiled'' narration, including a play-by-play on every punch and broken rib, along with the even nastier things the hero would do to the villain. And short blunt sentences. Short. Blunt. Short blunt sentences that repeat. Repeat a lot. Repeat a lot. His female characters are often strong-willed, but usually also victimized. They're often also prostitutes. As an artist, Miller is most famous for abstract figure work and scenery focusing more on expression, aesthetics and readability than anything resembling reality, done in high contrast black and white with sparing use of contour lines. Miller's black and white style is so strong that anyone in comics who uses the same high contrast approach will be inevitably compared to him.
  • Adam Warren of Empowered and Titans: Scissors, Paper, Stone who loves his even more over-the-top pseudo-Miller bits. His recurring favorite. "DON'T.. GO.. INTO.. SHOCK.." Other things he likes are fish lips, giant grins, transhumanism, and Buffy Speak.
  • With James Robinson, it's not so much writing style as it is a tendency to emphasize words completely at random such that most of his characters must sound like the bastard child of Mr. DeMartino from Daria and Torgo.
    • Robinson also has a propensity for long narrations, either internal, or regular.
  • Comics written by Grant Morrison tend to have endings that go way too fast so that everything can get tied up. The World War III arc of JLA — his last on the book — features all of humanity developing superpowers. We get to see it for three pages. However, works featuring his own characters rather than pre-created ones tend to have better endings.
    • Morrison also has a propensity to get rather... "out there" with his plot concepts, with speculative fantasy, genre mash-ups, meta-textual elements, alternate character interpretations, and general synesthesia being common. This all results in questions of his ideas origins.
      • With The Invisibles, Morrison has openly admitted he used his drug experiences as an inspiration for parts of it, going as far as including transcriptions of a tape of him and his friends tripping on LSD in a scene in the comic where King Mob and his friends do the same.
    • Many of Morrison's comics also feature a character who looks not unlike Grant Morrison. This is most explicit in Animal Man, where Morrison actually appears as himself, the writer of Animal Man.
  • Warren Ellis' comics often feature corrupt government officials, shamanism, cutting-edge technology (and humans enhanced by the same), and a protagonist who is at least two of the following: ill-tempered, British, a chain smoker, dressed mostly in white, or addicted to drugs or alcohol.
    • Don't forget "foul-mouthed and wearing a trenchcoat". "Atheist" is a pretty good possibility too.
  • Any character created, or heavily influenced, by Steve Ditko will be hated by the general populace. Because the masses are stupid, and the hero is morally (and, consequently, physically and mentally) superior to them. Furthermore, when he doesn't have a collaborator to hold him back, Ditko often has his characters say so in great detail.
  • Alan Moore will usually have older characters, who are retired or who have such a large body of work they might as well be retired. This is so they can discuss the good old days of their youth (and Moore's childhood) with nostalgic detail.
    • Bonus points if they have sex for no apparent reason. Particularly dark and gritty sex with a character much, much younger and hotter.
    • And Match Cuts. Don't forget the Match Cuts.
    • Also, his major works tend to feature enlightenment through drug use - Ozymandias does it in Watchmen (he briefly mentions ingesting a ball of hashish in the desert), Eric Finch takes LSD in V for Vendetta (which gives him the insight he needs to get what V is doing), and From Hell ends with a massive opium trip, while The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has featured Allan's use of taduki leaves (from the original HR Haggard novels) in the bonus story of Volume 1 and Mina having an awful synthetic taduki trip/ psychic showdown with the Big Bad in Century: 1969.
    • On the subject of dialogue, his characters tend to interrupt themselves mid-sentence. At first it might seem unusual, but then you realize that that's how people talk in real life. There's just not many other writers who use that particular realistic element.
    • In his book Writing for Comics he initially recommends writers developing a Signature Style, but in afterwords, written years after the essays, he says he changed his mind and now considers it a bane to any authors and suggest writing against the type to overcome it, before it grows on you, saying he might never be able overcome his own.
  • Jack Chick will usually have anyone who doesn't agree with him portrayed as working for Satan, or literally being Satan. He is also known for working in his message with all the subtlety of a sumo. Strangely, despite most of his comics taking place in 21st century America (or other first world country), people who are non-Christians are usually non-Christians out of ignorance or malice. In other words, most of of the non-Christians in his stories honestly never heard of Jesus or read any scripture, and are very easily swayed by the evangelists words, despite no arguments or evidence whatsoever.
    • The sad thing is, Jack Chick thinks this crap is realistic.
    • He also really likes to emphasize words in his characters' dialogue using a bold font.
    • HAW HAW HAW!!!
  • Simon Furman, who has, of all the dirty jobs, the position of writing approximately 85% or so of all Transformers comics since the mid-80s, has a number of "Furmanisms" that will inevitably crop up, hanging above the reader like some vast, predatory bird. You won't believe the things he can do with them: this constant shoehorning of odd phrases into the texts never ends, so what chance do we have of avoiding them? One would think he needs a short, sharp lesson in better writing, but the fans seem to enjoy his odd quirks, and he has reaped the whirlwind of popularity he's gained. He writes virtually everything with these "Furmanisms" and more; can we do any less? (A full list can be found at the Transformers Wiki.)
  • Stan Lee writes everyone as a Large Ham. Although he is this way in Real Life too (or at least in interviews) and in his cameos so that makes sense.
  • Fabian Nicieza tends to write long, intricately structured monologues enlivened with lots of dashes — and he also loves bisexuals, genderbending, and Ho Yay.
  • Jhonen Vasquez's works tend to lie far in the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, set in Crapsack Worlds where most of the populace are either Jerkasses or Too Dumb to Live. There's also a lot of references to tacos, piggies, bees, doom and other Inherently Funny Words, and he likes adding sci-fi elements like space ships or mech-suits even when the story probably doesn't really need them. Expect Nightmare Fuel, too. Lots and lots of Nightmare Fuel.
    • He also seems to love drawing mad eyes.
  • Mike Mignola's art style is immediately recognizable: the use of circluar and angular shapes (especially the way he draws people), and the way things are defined by large shadowed area more than anything else. His writing style/plotting tends to focus on both Lovecraftian themes, antiquity, and the like.
  • One of Jack Kirby's most distinguishing art features is the aptly-named Kirby Dots. Kirby's overall artistic style is perhaps more of an ur-style, being the style of Jack Kirby, distinctly recognizable to just about any fan of comic book art. He loved to create characters who embodied cosmic power if not outright godhood, a trait which seems to bear some relation to equally cosmic-looking hats. As an example, one of his most well-known characters is Galactus.
    • Kirby's other distinguishing feature is his character design. We love Kirby, yes we do, but a character he intends to be pretty/handsome will generally land somewhere in the Uncanny Valley, while a character he intends to be not particularly attractive will be hideous. He's also got a strong tendency to draw any character who's even slightly muscular as being built like an offensive lineman. Even if they're female.
  • Sergio Aragonés (Groo The Wanderer, MAD) is easily one of the most distinctive cartoonists/caricaturists around. His art style favors thin lines, swooping curves, and an eye-watering level of detail. His men tend to have spindly legs and flat feet, while his women are either fat matronly mothers or curvaceously thin waifs sporting bubble breasts.
  • Speaking of Mad, many of their artists and writers have a signature style:
    • John Caldwell is known for his wavy, scratchy lines that make everything look like it's in Squigglevision. Also, he is one of the few who usually does all of his writing and art himself, as opposed to collaborating.
    • Al Jaffee is fond of grossly overweight characters and people with very round faces. He also dabbles in the grotesque now and then.
    • Don Martin: Lots of Written Sound Effects, motion lines, and extremely gangly characters with huge noses and flat, floppy feet.
    • Duck Edwing: Also somewhat of a "squigglevision" approach. Everyone has really huge noses.
    • Hermann Mejia: Set apart from the rest by often using paints instead of line art. His work tends to be very broad and blobby.
    • Richard Williams: Usually a painter, so his work had a retraux feel to it, particularly his covers.
    • James Warhola: Both a painter and an illustrator. His paintings also had a retraux feel, while his line work tended to be very stiff and scratchy.
    • Peter Kuper (who has done Spy vs. Spy since 1997): Everything has a very geometric look — lots of straight lines, very few curves. Typically colored in colored pencil instead of digitally.
    • Basil Wolverton: Everything is really thick and blobby; termed the "spaghetti and meatballs" style.note 
    • Tom Bunk: Extremely grotesque. Expect lots of snot, vomit, blood and guts, zits, obesity, etc. Especially if it's a one-page gag written by Michael Gallagher.
    • Paul Coker: Very loose and scratchy. Exemplified on Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, where he was an animator.
    • Jack Davis: Lots and lots of cross-hatching, usually with an "Old West" flavor.
    • Dick DeBartolo, as one of the top writers, is known for his zany deconstruction.
    • Arnie Kogen, one of the other main parody writers, tends to do the most overtly sexual and/or profane material. Expect lots of Symbol Swearing from him.
  • Similarly, Fred Hembeck has a distinctively cartoonish hand, with his signature technique of placing swirls in knees and elbows.
  • In a time where Disney's comic artists were uncredited, the quality in the stories of one Carl Barks stood out enormously from the rest of the pack, leading readers to nickname the then-anonymous author as "The Good Duck Artist".
    • Duckist Don Rosa. Not only is his style of drawing highly different from any other artist who draws Donald Duck comics, his stories are littered with funny background events, in-jokes, continuity porn and are always very well researched.
  • Marvel comics writer Brian Bendis has a Hatedom related to his style.
    • To elaborate, typical Bendis dialogue will likely include fucktons of gratuitous swearing, repetitions, repetitions, Buffyspeak up the tuchas, and repetitions.
      • Repetitions?
    • Repetitions.
    • Bendis also does this thing where his - his characters, they'll stutter fr- from time to time when talking for a long time. Whether it's realistic enough depends upon your - your personal opinion.
  • Brian K. Vaughan's characters are all too often very well informed with a propensity of regurgitating tidbits of (admittedly relevant) trivia.
  • In his Lucky Luke stories, Rene Goscinny will often have people who has held a grudge, acted like dirty cowards, or like total jerks for the entire story suddenly come to their senses on the last 2-3 pages. Easy Evangelism is sometimes involved.
  • Mark Millar has powers of ten show up a lot. Someone will be ten times smarter than someone else or something will be calculated to the tenth decimal point or will be miscalculated by misplacing the decimal. He also had a tendency to use Nazis repeatedly in his works until someone called him out on it with The Ultimates. He hadn't even realized he was doing it.
    • When he was writing Ultimate X-Men, Millar would often have his characters pointing out obvious plot holes and Fridge Logic. It's unclear if he did this as a sort of Self-Deprecation, or as a way of apologizing for his own mistakes.
  • Garth Ennis dialogue features slang appropriate to the background of the characters using it (including profanity, especially Country Matters), Funetik Aksents, and frequent omission of relative pronouns.
  • Scott Snyder's a relatively new writer, but so far he's shown a real affinity for Animal Motifs (especially birds), architecture motifs, and fangs.
    • He also tends to have the main character of a story provided a childhood story that's thematically relevant through first person narration.
    • If you're reading a Batman comic and the title character has gigantic ears on his cowl, it's by Kelley Jones.
  • Brian Azzarello is rather famous for his ability to sneak snarky wordplay and double entendres into fairly innocuous conversations between his characters (read any issue of 100 Bullets for examples), and to introduce violent moments into his stories without warning.
  • Rob Liefeld: Hugely muscular men and impossibly thin women, usually with the most exaggerated anatomy possible. Lots of ginormous guns, shoulder pads, and pouches.
    • His characters tend to have a ridiculous amount of detailed, almost sketchy linework all over their bodies with ultra messy hair.
  • Al Hartley used Stock Visual Metaphors and effects to an excess in Archie Comics, especially starstruck expressions and giant dust clouds. His characters also had a tendency to walk on air, and the title character was a frequent victim of Comedic Sociopathy. Though in retrospect, Hartley is probably best remembered for his recurring attempts to incorporate evangelism into the same comics.

  • Telcontar Rulz tends to put in a lot of Arc Words which are variations on 'this was no coincidence', implication of meddling by the Almighty, somewhat Catholic views of the afterlife, Wolverine being connected to Van Helsing (as in the film) and being a nephilim. Also, Big Damn Heroes and Papa Wolf / Mama Bear characters abound. And lots and lots and lots of snarking.
  • Nimbus Llewelyn tends towards a dialogue heavy, relatively description light and understated - in the classically British sense - style of prose, preferring shorter descriptions that invite the reader to imagine what is going on rather than getting bogged down in paragraphs of exposition on the surroundings, while focusing on a Whedon influenced style of snappy banter, shown by the fact that he has admitted he favours writing Tony Stark and Loki Odinson. He's also fond of the following, which are guaranteed to crop up at some point: World of Badass, World of Snark, true love (with much Lampshade Hanging and references to The Princess Bride and is far from guaranteed not to be broken apart), Continuity Porn / Shown Their Work, powerful characters, Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Papa Wolf / Mama Bear characters and theresulting Kick the Son of a Bitch. You can also expect large amounts of Genre Savvy and more than just the odd Shout-Out.
  • The Total Drama fanfic writer, Gideoncrawle has a description-rich, dialogue-light style with a flavor that readers have described as “19th Century”, “elegant”, “nearly poetic”, and so on. He is also inclined to explain things in detail, whether in the story or in notes, and to use "death and renewal" themes.
  • Shadow Crystal Mage: He's been deified as the Overlord of ALL CRACK! He also does his best to get an insanely high trope/story ratio. Plus, he loves Crossovers.
  • Writing team Aleine Skyfire and Riandra make an interesting case. Skyfire's first Sherlockian novel, Mortality grew out of her tendency to torture Sherlock Holmes and prove that he's Not So Stoic, as well as her need for Fix Fics. Riandra's first Sherlockian novel, A Study In Regret, started out as something of a fanfic of a fanfic (specifically, Mortality), and remains thematically quite similar. Darker and Edgier, Trauma Conga Line, Emotional Torque, Character Development, Action Girl, Earn Your Happy Ending... all favorites of the pair, who teamed up to write the crossover series Children Of Time, which incorporates more of the same. Even better, their writing styles blend so well that readers have said that they can't tell the difference between the authors writing Dr. Watson, who is stated to pass back and forth between the two.
    • The underlying Motif throughout the Sherlockian works of both is a sense of Realism with Holmes and Watson, fleshing out the characters as real people with real emotions. One result lies in the men pointing out that the characters in the Sherlock Holmes stories of Strand Magazine are just that, people whose traits have been so far exaggerated as to be all but fictional.
  • Fernwithy, best known for her Harry Potter and Hunger Games fics, has a thing for proving Tolstoy wrong and having uniquely happy families in everything she writes. When she is asked to write an AU, it will be a nightmarish Dark Fic, even though the typical request is "what if X Beloved Character survived?" At some point after Deathly Hallows came out, she started featuring the recurring theme of "the revolution that didn't know when to stick a fork in it."

  • Quentin Tarantino films are talky, often with long, rambling, roundabout conversations full of old pop-culture references and hipster philosophy that somehow feel natural while still containing dialogue no normal person would ever speak. Most of his films are pastiches of other films and genres, and often feature cinema or the entertainment industry itself as a recurring subject. Some of his films are episodic in plot structure, with "chapters" or chunks arranged out of order. Lots of violence and swearing are to be expected. Due to Author Appeal, womens' bare feet will often be highlighted. Tarantino is also fond of a particular shot where the camera passes through a wall or ceiling, which is only later revealed in a subsequent shot. Also has at least one Trunk Shot in each of his movies. Also, all of his films contain the phrase "Your reputation precedes you", or some slight variation.
  • David Fincher lights every single one of his films with the same shadowy, yellow mood lighting.
  • David Cronenberg loves gore, body horror, sexual deviance, and Mind Rape.
  • John Woo uses slow-mo, Guns Akimbo, and lots of doves flying in his Heroic Bloodshed movies. Themes in his movies usually focus upon family, loyalty and betrayal, and usually feature two brothers or other people on opposite sides of the law who develop a bond of friendship and usually have to join forces against a mutual enemy who is threatening both.
  • The films of Guillermo Del Toro will often favour a specific and small palette (amber for Hellboy, blue-green for El Laberinto del Fauno, yellow/blue for night/day in Blade 2), will frequently go Beneath the Earth, put something slimy in a jar, and always always always include some reference to Roman Catholicism. And clockwork.
  • In Alejandro Jodorowsky movie and comics, you can expect more religious symbolism than you'll find anywhere else and a Shoot the Shaggy Dog ending. (sometimes — like in Fando & Lis and The Holy Mountain — played for laughs). Jodorowsky displays a keen style of absurdism and everything absurdly symbolic, probably meant as a mockery of various religious beliefs and contemporary practices. His work mixes the celebral and intense with the satirical. He also has a thing for bald women.
  • Things written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright tend to have clever foreshadowing and dramatic-ironical dialog. Phrases will be repeated, once innocent, once really sad or menacing. They tend to be filled with homages to other works, usually geeky ones. They also feature main characters eating a Cornettos. Wright's directorial style includes fast cuts and lots of close-ups.
  • Woody Allen movies generally feature a nebbishy, fussy Jewish New York Author Avatar who is stuck in psychotherapy, spouts self-deprecating one-liners and Ingmar Bergman references, and gets into romantic entanglements with inexplicably attractive women. Visually, his films tend to have a specific look and feel: Warm colors (when he's not shooting in black-and-white), and scenes with as few cuts as possible, occasionally using oners.
  • If you're watching an 80's John Hughes flick, expect it to have some humor with at least one angsty teenager thrown in. It's often set in a Chicago Suburb with yuppies.
  • Alfred Hitchcock films have a number of recurring features:
    • Often there's a guy or girl unjustly accused, on the run from someone, who has at least one dysfunctional parent, and/or who suddenly vanishes when the love interest takes center place.
    • The motif of abuse of hospitality (either by the guest or the host) is also prevalent.
    • Most female main characters will be blonde, due to Author Appeal.
    • Hitchcock famously made a nonspeaking cameo in every film. In fact, his cameos became so widely known that he was forced to do them in the beginning of his films so viewers wouldn't be distracted from the plot while they looked for him.
    • Also there's lots of voyeurism depicted.
    • He also uses lots of extreme close-ups, and will shoot his dramatic set pieces in either extremely public or extremely private places, to emphasize that you are not safe anywhere.
  • The Coen Brothers like to make pastiches of other works. Their films often play with language, using heavily stylized dialects from various locations and time periods. Proper heroes are few and far between, with even the most sympathetic characters being criminals or morons. They like to use exaggerated camera movements, an influence from their time working with Sam Raimi. They often have one character who personifies pure evil. Also, nearly every movie the Coen Brothers have made is centered around the unforeseen consequences of some sort of crime gone wrong.
  • John Milius (of Conan the Barbarian the movie fame) apparently never met a monologue he didn't like, we have to keep those damned commies out of America, and guns/swords are good. Very, very good.
  • If awkward sexual dysfunctions/kinks and Crapsack World suburban mundanity abound, you're probably watching a film directed and written by Todd Solondz.
  • If you are watching a Tim Burton movie you will stumble into at least two of these elements: a character who Looks Like Cesare, German Expressionism, mutilated or unusual hands, gothic-style spirals, characters with parental issues, settings styled after 1950s B-movies, grim and surreal atmospheres, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, a score by Danny Elfman, and dogs.
  • Danny Boyle's films are frequently marked by the use of sky-high levels of contemporary pop and electronic music, and protagonists emerging from or entering into a toilet.
  • Michael Bay's films are all explosion-heavy action films with large casts, extremely large-scale action sequences, and plenty of macho hero worship. They are also generally right-wing, supportive of Cowboy Cops and militarism. His films usually feature a control room and a shot with two people (usually the heroes) standing close to each other while the camera circles around them.
  • If you're watching a film by legendary Japanese film director, Ishiro Honda, chances are the film will feature people being overwhelmed by either armies, giant monsters, or some other antagonist. This stems from him being drafted into the Japanese Army during WWII. It's safe to assume the whole ordeal left a HUGE impression on his psyche.
  • Oliver Stone's films tend to include a lot of stock footage.
  • Dario Argento's trademarks include masked killers, dark gloves, women being pushed through plate glass, tracking shots, and heroes who are involved with some sort of artistic/creative profession who are usually foreigners.
  • Zack Snyder and his slow-mo. To a lesser extent, using extensive green-screening and CG to create very rich images that look almost like art.
  • Yasujiro Ozu is known for his very personal style. Most of his films are family dramas. He uses a number of distinctive shots over and over again, including low-angle shots about 1-2 feet off the ground and shots of characters looking directly in the camera. His editing, transitions, and use of music also follow very specific rules.
  • Spike Lee often makes films Spike Lee Joints about race relations in America, using New York as a setting. More often than not, he also is either the main character or prominently featured in the supporting cast. Expect to see Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro, or Michael Imperioli (but never all three) in the supporting cast. Towards the end of any of his films, expect to see a shot centered on the protagonist standing still, while only the background moves forward. That other wiki has a pretty big section on the subject.
  • Sam Raimi films, especially his early ones, often had a fast-moving POV shot rapidly zooming toward a character. He is also fond of dolly zooms, in which the landscape behind a character seems to change size in relation to the character. He often combines the hyperactive camerawork with slapstick humor. He frequently casts his brother Ted Raimi and his longtime friend Bruce Campbell in small roles.
  • The films of Akira Kurosawa tend to have dramatic camera angles, either very low or very high, using telephoto lenses to flatten the perspective, with a distinctive "Wipe" transition; weather elements used to heighten or contrast the mood of a scene; minimalist music; tragic heroes or anti-heroes who have either risen from a lower status, or fallen from a higher, often returning to their previous status; and explorations of the human psyche and condition, particularly among the poor and marginalized. They're also very likely to include Toshiro Mifune in a starring or prominent role.
  • Zhang Yimou films are identified for the striking cinematography of his films, particularly the dominance of one or two colors in any given scene (or the oversaturation of too many colors in the place scenes in Curse of the Golden Flower). He is also notable for making a lot of films that are basically family epics (fittingly for a family-oriented society like China), and his early realistic films (as opposed to his later Wuxia) focus on the effect of 20th-century modernity on ordinary Chinese.
  • Jean Luc Godard is one of the most important French filmmakers of all time, and despite having a wide variety of styles, he has a lot of recurring styles- Red White & Blue (the colors of the French flag) prominently together in a single shot, strongly colored lighting, Anna Karina, in-dialog references to other films, cameos of other filmmakers (Fritz Lang, Samuel Fuller, etc.), voice-overs, abrupt silence, unexpected nudity, and adults doing goofy and childish things.
  • Olivier Assayas is fond in all of his movies of filming in several different languages, and then deliberately refusing to subtitle, in order to increase the audience's alienation from the characters.
  • James Cameron has a number of signatures:
    • Pre-Titanic, there was always at least one nuclear weapon in the mix (Judgement Day in the Terminator films, A stolen warhead in True Lies, a recovered warhead in The Abyss, and "Nuke the site from orbit" plus the exploding reactor in Aliens).
    • He likes shots of feet in a nonsexualized manner. There are many shots of feet or some equivalent stand-in, such as a tire, thudding down onto the ground, sometimes crushing things as they do so: a Terminator's foot crushing a skull, the APC's tyres crushing an alien, the undercarriage of the Harrier jump jet making a mess of parked cars, and less extreme examples like the regimented thumping of Navy SEAL combat boots onto the deck, followed by Lindsey Brigman's high heels, the Power-loader's feet slamming down onto the deck as the lead-in to "Get away from her you bitch!", or Jake Sully wiggling his new toes.
    • Strong female characters, either as an Action Girl or a strong-willed Non-Action Guy.
    • A love/hate relationship with technology stories.
    • Heroes are always blue-collar, lower-social-echelon people: (Aliens: Corporal Hicks is competent, badass, and caring, while Lieutenant Gorman is not; Ripley vs. Carter Burke plays the civilian version of this. The rig crew in The Abyss are great guys while the SEALS are mostly stand-offish at the least; Bud Brigman goes to disarm the warhead although he knows it's a one-way trip. Jake Sully gets to be lower-echelon in three different worlds at the same time in Avatar; he's just a grunt to the lab guys, he's a newcomer and a cripple to the soldiers, and he's an untrustworthy alien to the Na'vi. If you're the one person in the world who hasn't seen it yet, guess who's on top at the end of the film.)
    • He apparently likes blue so much that his movies tend to have really long sequences in blue, ranging from the Color Wash in the Terminator films to the all-blue fauna of Pandora in Avatar.
  • Christopher Nolan:
    • Most of his films are a Mind Screw, with non-linear narration and highly complex characterisation.
    • All of his movies have the common theme of guilt, where the male lead regrets having set in motion a chain of events that ended up killing:
    • And in his later movies (more or less since Batman Begins) he revealed his love for minimalist architecture (like Lucius Fox's workshop, Bruce Wayne's penthouse and batmobile garage, the 2nd level the limbo), mountains (Nightmute, the Himalayas, Colorado and the 3rd level), cities with skyscrapers (Gotham, Hong Kong and the 1st level and the Orient, in general, with The Prestige, The Dark Knight Saga and Inception.
    • There well also be mention to theatrics or the element of illusion. Batman Begins uses the phrase "theatrics" in the dialogue frequently, The Prestige talks about misdirection and its use in magic, and Inception focuses on "creating the world of the dream", as well as use of misdirection to hide what is dream and what is reality.
    • A common theme in Nolan's work is "A good lie is better than the truth." Who really killed Leonard's wife in Memento, who really shot Eckhart in Insomnia, Who Rachel really loved/ Who killed Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, Fischer's love for his son, and the nature of the dream world in Inception. There is either self-deception involved by the end or a cover up made for the greater good.
    • His movies also haves very strong, very heavily emphasised motifs and foreshadowing that will require you to watch more than once to understand their significance. The two birds in the cage in The Prestige, one of which is killed during the trick; "I don't like trains" and the fluttering curtains in Inception; even the posters for The Dark Knight highlight the triad of Batman, the Joker and Harvey Dent (good, evil and both).
    • Strong female characters, such as Rachel Dawes, Selina Kyle, Mal Cobbs, and Ellie Burr in Insomnia.
    • He also has a love for tasteful, high-end men's fashion. If the men are dressed better than the women, chances are you're watching a Christopher Nolan movie. Nolan himself shows up to sets in a suit every day.
    • He also likes using real effects instead of CGI. The exploding hospital and the rotating corridor in Inception? The crashed plane in [1]? The goddamn Tumbler? The Bat (well, except for flying)? All real.
  • Sergio Leone loved close ups. He also always used multiple scores by composer Ennio Morricone (who was a classmate of his). Frequently he would use the music to achieve all kinds of effects, from building tension during the showdown in the Dollars Trilogy to telling the entire story of Once Upon a Time in the West. He also liked to put an emphasis on diagetic sound, and enjoyed playing with conventions, eliminating the Black and White Morality that had been so prevalent in Westerns before, plus some of the greatest examples of casting against type.
  • Paul Greengrass loves shaky, hand-held cameras.
  • Stanley Kubrick: Very far on the cynicism side for Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism, lots of hallways and tracking shots (he was particularly fond of the Steadicam), almost always an adaption of a book, mentally unstable protagonists, classical music (many times used for ironic effect), tons of Black Humor, the Kubrick Stare and above all meticulous attention to detail. And at least one scene involving a toilet.
  • Kevin Smith films usually feature foul-mouthed geeks who discuss geek topics with foul mouths. Hockey, video games, comics, perverse sex acts and various pet films and filmmakers will be featured or discussed.
  • Judd Apatow films usually feature copious profanity, Male Frontal Nudity, sex and stoner jokes, and a large amount of improvised dialogue. He also tends to work with the same cast of actors a lot.
  • Tyler Perry's films all have similar styles, in fact almost all of them are in the same continuity. Usually there is an educated black woman who has an abusive husband or background and usually at least one child. She will at some point leave her husband (this may have happened before the movie starts) and meet another man who is usually a good Christian blue collar worker. The movie will end with them getting together. Often the movie has an All-Star Cast of the most popular black actors at the time.
  • Steven Spielberg and daddy issues. It's not really a question of whether they'll be included in a movie he has any part in, but rather how much, how blatant, and how central to the plot they'll be.
    • Also, idealism even in his darkest movies, and a single person's struggle to beat unfavorable odds and\or make a difference.
    • As far as visuals go, he loves having shots of characters staring in shock at something off camera.
  • Nearly every movie directed, written, or produced by Robert Halmi Sr. and Jr. deals with a variation of Parental Abandonment, either emotional or physical. It doesn't matter what book or biography is being adapted, the central theme or plot will be changed to be entirely about a missing or aloof parent of the main character.
  • J. J. Abrams and Lens Flare.
  • Terrence Malick: Lots and LOTS of Scenery Porn framing a slow-moving, meditative plot with voice-over narration that is used more to meditate philosophically than it is to actually narrate the events of the film.
  • Wes Anderson films can be easily spotted by regular use of wide-angle, straight-on still shots for scene establishment, quirky characters with numerous relations between them, a clean sans serif font for location names, and dipping into the B-sides of hits from the 1970's and 1980's to fill out the soundtrack. Most of his characters are either unsatisfied upper class people or industrious working class people apsiring to be in the upper class. Characters will always wear very distinctive costumes. His works usually feature Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, among a larger Production Posse.
  • Robert Bresson cast actors with little to no acting experience, to the point that he referred to them as "models" rather than actors. His dialogue is given a flat, almost deadpan delivery, while the actors' movements are meticulously orchestrated. This all gives his characters a detached, robot-like impression.
  • Terry Gilliam's films usually feature dark, hallucinatory visuals shot in a wide-angle lens. His films also tend to have a Downer or Bitter Sweet Ending. Of course, his animation features heavy use of vintage photograph cut-outs. His films also tend to be filthy and feature charactors crawling through mud, or covered in other kinds of dirt.
  • Christopher Guest's films are all mockumentaries with largely improvised dialogue, taken from his experience working on This Is Spinal Tap. He also works with an extended Production Posse.
  • Luc Besson's action films almost always feature a Bad Ass Invincible Hero who goes against ridiculous odds. If it's not on behalf of a woman, it's often a woman herself. Besson usually pours a lot of work into an action packed opening scene, which in several cases even ends up overshadowing the grande finale final showdown. This even carries over into films of which he was not the director, but involved as (executive) producer.
  • Howard Hawks movies, if they're serious adventure films, will have a small group of men - sometimes with one or two women - who are elite professionals performing a dangerous job. If you're in their club, you will share their cigarettes and get an Affectionate Nickname, and occasionally there will be a sing-a-long. Also you'll die if you're not good at your job. There's also lots of overlapping, speedy dialogue, which likely inspired Tarantino.
  • Writer/Director Shane Meadows makes films about working class people in the Midlands of England.
  • Ridley Scott has visually beautiful movies which usually have grim settings and not very happy endings.
  • Films with screenplays written by Dan O'Bannon (Alien, Total Recall, Screamers) tend to take place in a grim industrial future where a callous Mega Corp. owns everyone and everything, and is engaged in some kind of horribly exploitative activity like strip-mining entire alien worlds of natural resources. Meanwhile the real danger is lurking just under the surface, discovered accidentally by our Working Class Hero, and no one in a position of power can be relied on to deal with it, or even care about it.
  • Joe Dante is known for black comedy, references to 50's B-movies and cartoons particularly LooneyTunes, references to his past films, and tends to use actors like Dick Miller and Robert Picardo.
  • Some common tropes of Mike Leigh films include:
    • Scripts devised from extended improv with actors.
    • Long takes.
    • An eventful get-together.
    • Fertility woes.
    • Alison Steadman
    • Timothy Spall
    • A working-class woman all but completely ground down by the horribleness of her circumstances.
    • An aspiring lower middle-class housewife who is an intolerable snob. She may or may not be driving her more working-class husband away from his roots.

  • David Foster Wallace: juxtaposition of informal abbreviations and slang with incredibly esoteric words, words which originally seem incredibly esoteric but end up being made up (usually somehow derived from Latin), the odd continued use of &c. instead of etc. (again with the esoteric Latin thing), compulsive use of footnotes (sometimes useless footnotes, sometimes carrying out entire storylines within footnotes), scenes which are both hilarious and heartbreaking (or disturbing but usually both), obscure connections which are absurd and profound and also pretty funny, &c. And the word "peripatetic," which he seemed to like as much as this wiki likes the word egregious.
  • J. K. Rowling seems to like pretty much every trope related to Chekhov's Gun. If a character, object, or place is mentioned in passing in an early books, it's almost guaranteed to show up later, usually in a role of vital importance. She also seems to like killing off characters just to show that death is harsh. She also seems fond of semicolons.
  • Peter David
    • He's quite fond of incredibly drawn-out, horrible puns (for example, in Sir Apropos of Nothing, taking a full page to explain why a group of crazy bird-men descended from harpies are called the Harpers Bizarre) and Ironic Echo Cut chapter breaks. He's also very fond of the adverb "nattily": if his work is set in modern times, expect everybody to be "nattily dressed."
    • David also enjoys the Running Gag. One notable example from one of his Star Trek novels had a Vulcan character simply trying to go from one part of the ship to another and constantly running into a string of people, from fellow crewmembers to an alien ambassador, who all insisted on telling her their current personal problems. She finally blows a gasket and demands to know why everyone was telling her. (Well, the closest to gasket-blowing a Vulcan usually gets, anyway.)
    • Another aspect of his Star Trek writing is a very thorough knowledge of the show, with in-jokes, Shout Outs, and obscure references everywhere. This is epitomized in Morgan Primus, who is, effectively, Majel Barrett Roddenberry. Primus has been mistaken for, compared to, or otherwise tied to each of the characters Majel has played in the Trek universe: Number One in the original pilot, Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi...and so on. She eventually has her mind downloaded into the ship's computer. It takes a while for the crew to realize it, though, because guess who voices Federation computers on the show?
    • He also seems to be able to work in a throwaway reference to Alexander the Great somewhere in many things he's written.
  • Robert Rankin's style makes it obvious that he's making it up as he goes along, as he lampshades in one book, pointing out plot threads that don't go anywhere. Sometimes it works, and sometimes... it just doesn't.
  • Tom Holt has incredible fun with metaphors, cliches and truisms; if the book is full of metaphors taken to extremes, it's probably him. He also tends to feature mopey, nerdy males and rock-hard, super-efficient females. His stories also have an extremely cynical view of love, which is often portrayed as more of a nuisance or a disease than anything actually good.
  • Terry Pratchett
    • He's fond of irony, wordplay, humorous similes and puns.
    • He likes justifying the natural laws of his worlds as being literally governed by tropes and cliches, which people can use to their own advantage if they're Genre Savvy enough. The fact that his characters can usually predict what happens later in the story via recognition of tropes and cliches actually makes the stories less predictable.
    • His books also very rarely use conventional chapters.
    • His earlier works in particular like to play with the idea of unearthly eyes, and particularly the idea that the eyes are the only thing that no magic can disguise, providing a window to the true nature of the soul.
    • He is also well-known for his use of comedic footnotes, even requiring a Footnote character in the play version of some books, and one of his compilation books is titled Once More* With Footnotes. And he seems to love the words 'strata' and 'apologetic'.
    • Pratchett is inordinately fond of characters who immediately try to describe why a certain thing is funny before other characters could even react to the joke.
  • Piers Anthony:
    • He has a great love of wordplay and cliche. His Xanth series, in particular, is one great big Hurricane of Puns after another, but his other works can be similarly blunt and heavy-handed at times.
    • He makes nearly every protagonist a moral paragon who never does anything wrong and never fails at anything.
    • Another reoccurring theme in Anthony's works is nudity and sexuality, even in his young adult / teen series, Xanth. Anthony is pretty frank about his beliefs — he doesn't believe human nudity is harmful or shameful at all, and he remembers that most of the people of his target audience's age are actually quite curious about sexuality, despite what their parents may think. His works are never outright pornographic, but it skirts the boundaries enough (mermaids turning into humans and not knowing about clothes, princesses having to trade their clothes for a magic sword, that kind of thing) that he's been accused of being a pedophile on several occasions.
    • And also the use of children/extended family of characters he's already used, to the point where the Royal Family of Xanth is on something like its fourth generation.
    • He likes the words "demesnes" and "proffer."
  • Douglas Adams always has a narrator that goes off into tangents, Insane Troll Logic actually working and Contrived Coincidences. And Lampshading the ridiculousness of it all. His heroes are an Unfazed Everyman or a hypersavvy slacker. His works tend to have a lot of absurd humor that often correspond satirically with modern culture.
  • L. E. Modesitt, Jr. tells the same story over and over again in most of his books. It's a good story, though, people keep reading them anyway.
  • Mercedes Lackey, several of whose trilogies consist of telling the same story three times in a row, and who has even written a trilogy with a center book (Owlknight) in which essentially nothing happens (a barbarian invasion turns out at the climax to be boring peaceful settlers instead).
    • Another Mercedes Lackey signature: taking a character who has grown up living in serious misery without family, usually without real pleasures or more than one or two friends, then having them get swept up, as in a Changeling Fantasy, and taken to somewhere with good people and comforts, where there is hard work and good food. Said character basically never brings along the optional friend, nor do they ever go back, and they always turn into Standard Lackey Hero characters, who are all uniform in their goodness. There is a long period of adjustment where the character makes friends, and towards the very end there is a rushed conclusion. Seriously, this happens in very nearly every book, more often now than in her earlier work. It's alleviated significantly when she collaborates with different authors, though the book she wrote with Piers Anthony was cringe-worthy.
    • A key Lackey trademark is her standard protagonist development sequence, which has been summarized as "make the readers love and adore the hero, and then tear said hero's arms off."
    • Also, all of her villains are rapists or otherwise sexually deviant. All of them.
  • And Terry Brooks, many of whose Shannara novels resemble each other to a surprising degree.
  • Neal Stephenson's main characters are always incredibly smart, with a breadth of technical and practical knowledge. Often their friends are even more brilliant. The narrative will include meticulous analysis of wide range of subjects that Stephenson finds interesting, from the outright arcane to the humorously mundane. Some of these factor into the plot, and others are simple digressions. The writing style features quite a lot of dry humor, including the pet phrase: "X would like nothing more than Y. Which is too bad, considering he's Z right now." His novels, especially his early ones, are also notorious for having unsatisfyingly abrupt endings.
  • H.P. Lovecraft writes with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. Most of his stories are horror stories about eldritch abominations that humanity cannot fathom. Women don't come off very well in his stories, and overtly racist themes against dark-skinned people are common. Cats, however, are always treated with respect. Lovecraft also loved his home town of Providence. His plots often placed The Reveal at the end of the story. Often the climax would be the character discovering The Reveal, and at the end they would recall/ponder it for the reader. Also, his stories are almost always narrated in first person by male characters, and are often precisely dated.
  • Edgar Allan Poe also used Antiquated Linguistics, and if he wasn't writing a Dupin story, he usually featured a skeptical and normally problematic narrator that tried to face the supernatural reasonably, but ended engulfed by madness. His stories generally ended in a very abrupt, anti-climactic way. And there'd be a beautiful woman who had died or is dying.
  • Brian Jacques
    • He seems to love Wacky Wayside Tribes, rhyming prophecies, intense description of food, and making damn sure none of his heroes ever die. This last element has only slid in over time; while the earlier Redwall books were willing to let heroes die (Martin the Warrior and Outcast of Redwall most notably), the later ones have the "hero shield" at full power.
    • This doesn't apply in Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, which hasn't suffered the Redwall series's cumulative decay: the fisherman in the first book, the French captain in the second book, and Serafina in the third book all died rather horribly.
    • He also has a thing for giving characters names beginning with the letter M.
  • George R. R. Martin: sex (including what almost everybody would call perversion), intensely described violence (including against those generally exempt in sci-fi or fantasy, i.e. infants), wheels within wheels, and a general feeling that the author will not spare your pathetic sensibilities if he thinks it furthers theme, plot, or characterization. Expect to ask "Wait, who am I rooting for?" at least once.
  • R. A. Salvatore has described his combat scenes as "Crouching Panther, Hidden Dark Elf". They would not look out of place in anime or a Hong Kong martial arts flick. Including the over-the-top-ness.
  • Stephen King
    • He's known for frequent use of a distinctive
      writing style which incorporates the character's thoughts into a paragraph, typically
      breaking the standard paragraph structure as he goes along.
    • When he wrote using the pseudonym Richard Bachman, people suspected it was him based on his style.
    • And don't forget the endless describing of daily life inconsequentia. This evens extends to simple actions the character performs. For instance, when a character kneels down, King will often point out that the character's knees cracked like gunshots as he did so.
    • He also tends to write stories featuring protagonists with similar characteristics to himself. In his early career, he often wrote about lower-class teachers. After his rise to success and car accident, his heroes often had great wealth, were a writer, and/or suffered a horrific injury with an agonizing recovery.
    • If the book is taking place in one of his many small towns in Maine, he has to have at least one chapter where he takes the reader out of the main narrative, and on a bird's eye trip around town to see what the minor characters are getting up to.
    • His characters tend to have very detailed back stories, which either fit (directly or indirectly) into the main plot of the book, or provide the characters with metaphors/stock phrases that will be used frequently when they're the viewpoint character. He also likes to tell you that a just-introduced character is about to die, and then give you the character's back story.
    • He likes using animals as viewpoint characters.
  • Michael Moorcock loves the initials J.C.. He did this quite deliberately, to show that they represented aspects of the same archetype.
  • Similarly, Philip Jose Farmer used the initial PJF to refer to his stand-ins, according to him. Given one was a sci-fi author who was defrauded by a publisher this clue was perhaps overkill.
  • The late Jack Chalker almost never wrote a book that didn't involve at least one character (and often all of them) physically transformed in some way, either to a different species, a different gender, a different kind of sapience, or some combination thereof.
    • To the point of reportedly getting quite upset when people kept asking him why all he wrote were transformation stories. His answer was "Nobody bought the non-transformation books." Reputedly, he got used to it when he realized every author with a shtick got asked the same thing.
  • Dan Brown, a renowned Conspiracy Thriller author, conspicuously and regularly re-uses plot elements and opening paragraphs. As for the actual writing style, Brown is fond of having multiple Plot Threads and shifting between them every 5 to 10 pages (his chapters are really short), usually with a What Cliffhanger accompanying every shift. It either creates awesome thriller suspense or gets boring after the third page.
  • Chuck Palahniuk has a very distinct minimalist style of writing that he describes as explaining only the kernel of any given situation, with the action cutting and jumping around sporadically and tied in place by a common, repeating theme. Beyond that, he also tends to have very similar female characters from book to book.
    • He often fills his books with a number of interesting tidbits of knowledge as well as factoids that sound real but aren't.
    • Sentence fragments with no verb in them.
    • Dialogue with no quotation marks.
    • He's also very fond of Arc Words.
  • Gene Wolfe writes all of his stories in first person. With all the detail he adds, it gets really easy to trust the narrator. Don't.
  • Neil Gaiman has a distinct poetic bent to his writing and themes, which is just one of the things that make him popular with the goth crowd. Every line a Gaiman character utters can be quoted on its own as a lesson on life and magic and whatever.
  • James Joyce: All of his work is set in Dublin. He's also fond of epiphanies. Some consistent features of his work (which varied radically over his career) are musicality of prose, extremely efficient packing of meaning into as few words as possible (in the Dubliners story "Eveline", which is only about 1800 words long, he manages to convey the protagonist's socioeconomic status and level of education through a very brief, minimalist description of her going to the theatre; Finnegan's Wake is almost entirely based on applying this concept to nearly every single word of the text), very uncompromising depictions of characters' sexual thoughts and fantasies, and accurately conveying the natural rhythms of people's internal monologue.
  • William Faulkner hates you doesn't like you hates you you never had a sister Dalton Ames Dalton Ames Dalton Ames Dalton Ames Dalton Ames My father I have committed incest
    sister. Stream of consciousness, odd spacing
    hate you
    i dont hate it
    but he hates you
    • He also has a reputation for writing confusingly long sentence often creating long tracts without any punctuation
  • Djuna Barnes loves her statements that aren't nonsensical so much as they don't make sense. And she always makes blanket statements. And supremely illogical cultural references. And loads of sex, happening in the most absurd places.
  • Karen Traviss writes a lot of stories about military and war themes, especially if she can put scientists in there. Her protagonists and good guys tend to be hardasses and in general she adopts a War Is Glorious standpoint.
    • This comes from her background as a journalist reporting on military actions during the Blair Administration. Also, expect very tight 3rd person narration, where perspectives are skewed by the particular character's lack of information.
  • James Michener writes books where almost every plot follows a family that lives in a particular place through the generations, the title of the book simply being the setting.
  • Tennessee Williams writes a lot of mentally ill or physically disabled women (his dead little sister was schizophrenic), and a lot of his stuff is set in the Deep South. Also, expect men who are manly men, explicit discussion of any issues he wants to bring up, and... well, there's more. You'd know it if you saw it.
    • The aforementioned overt masculinity also carries over to his homosexual characters; see Now the Cats with Jewelled Claws and A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot. (Williams himself was gay.)
  • Diane Carey's Star Trek novels take Space Is an Ocean to almost absurd heights. She has worked on sailing ships in Real Life.
  • Diane Duane's Trek novels are full of Starfish Aliens with unpronounceable names, amazingly detailed and justified Techno Babble, gleefully subverted Planets of Hats, and Doctor McCoy being awesome.
  • Dean Koontz' supernatural works, at least, tend to feature some combination of dogs, Catholicism, California, and little kids. And, regardless if they're supernatural or not, sex. Quite a bit of sex. Also, the word "indefatigable."
  • William Shakespeare is fond of references to falconry, gardening, and hunting with dogs. He likes crossdressing themes, which was common in his day due to all female characters being played by crossdressing boys. He enjoyed pornographic innuendos and double-entendres. Twins pop up in a lot of his plays. Many of his plays are set in Italy.
  • Thomas Pynchon loves silly pop-culture references, names that sound meaningful but aren't, and not giving you any idea what's going on. Sophisticated as Hell terminology is not uncommon either.
  • The articles of Hunter S. Thompson tend towards a rambling stream-of-consciousness style, with many digressions and interjections from Thompson himself. He involved himself so much in the stories he reported that he became a central character in them - if not quite a hero. Much of his work was published unedited, pioneering the style he later dubbed "Gonzo journalism".
  • David Eddings:
  • Tom Clancy's novels tend to feature certain politically incorrect characterizations: liberals tend to be scheming and drug-using, while conservatives tend to be hard-working, honest, and red-blooded members of the American military. Every book ends with an "America Saves the Day" moment, as well.
  • Anything by Laurell K. Hamilton is almost certain to have a tiny, beautiful female main character who's a good little Catholic girl that has to deal with shameful shameful sexual urges and has lots and lots of sex that's treated as if it's the kinkiest thing since the Marquis de Sade, but is actually rather tame in comparison to almost anything you could see on Playboy TV. Oh, and random powerups. And mournful observation of religion/faith falling into decline.
  • Agatha Christie used a number of devices over and over in her works.
    • Multiple murders committed by different people.
    • Characters revealed to have been impersonating other characters.
    • If a person repeatedly survives attempts being made on their life, you can bet that that person is the killer.
    • Whoever is most likely to be the killer will naturally be innocent. This is logical, since a straightforward murder mystery wouldn't be much of a mystery. Still, the number of clues speaking to someone's guilt are often inversely proportional to that person's guilt.
    • Whoever is included on the novel's token romance(s) is innocent.
    • Characters accusing themselves of being the murderer in order to protect the person they know or believe to be the real killer. Subverted in Murder in the Vicarage, where both Lawrence Redding and Anne Protheroe frame themselves for the murder of Colonel Protheroe and admit, in turn, to being responsible (in an unusual ploy to actually shift blame from both of them)
  • J. R. R. Tolkien:
    • He had a habit of peppering his stories with references to far-away bygone people and places drawn from his own mythos that had nothing to do with the plot but made the setting feel more lived-in and natural.
    • He also LOVED describing landscapes. He could go on and on for pages and pages of purple prose, basically saying nothing more than "Gosh, look at these trees!"
    • He was also a big fan of Love at First Sight, since that was how he fell in love with his wife Edith, who is also directly responsible for the prominence of Gray Eyes among his characters.
  • Kurt Vonnegut: lots of free-association and repetition, nonstop Shooting the Shaggy Dog, Sick Sad Worlds with the bleakness turned up to 11, nonlinear storytelling, and the heaviest anvils he can lift.
    • He's also somewhat self-referential. Characters from one story will often reappear in the background of another. Perhaps the most obvious example is (fictional) science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, who tends to be referenced everywhere.
  • Anton Chekhov had a habit of ending his short stories in a way that doesn't really resolve the plot at all. The protagonist is usually a normal Russian man who Chekhov characterizes mostly through his flaws.
  • Ben Elton novels tend to have large ensemble casts and at least one, usually brutal, death or attempt on someone's life. They also tend to be overtly critical of one aspect of society, and achieve this criticism through sarcasm and exaggeration (Dead Famous and Chart Throb — reality television; Gridlock — society's dependence on cars and oil; Stark — big business in the 1980s; This Other Eden — DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING).
  • John "A PC" Hodgman writes his books in a perfectly deadpan, neutral tone, and just happens to drop the occasional incredibly humourous comment into his rhetoric. A Long List is quite likely, too. He also enjoys occasionally breaking into ALL CAPS.
  • Ian Fleming often includes expositions on locations he had visited, and especially foods and drink which he was himself fond of. Expect the phrase "the gun spoke its word" to appear rather frequently too. The attitudes of the characters are also highly recognisable once one gets used to them. And any woman's breasts will be described as "proud and firm". Except maybe Bond's caretaker's.
    • He also likes "cruel" as an adjective to describe people's looks, most commonly Bond's mouth or jaw.
  • Ursula Vernon's writing can be recognized by her use of people who supply contraceptives to "Seamstresses", weird animals (commonly shrews or wombats, some times furries) and general weirdly flash-bang, yet Pratchett-esque, often footnoted, style.
    • She also tends to give her fictional cultures a detailed and unique culture, customs, traditions, idioms, and so forth, often sewn together from real-world parts. Probably not surprising, given that she used to be an anthropologist and turned to art "because the pay was better, which should tell you something about anthropology."
    • Her art is what brought us the Lol Whut pear.
    • Lolwhut aside, her usual art also involves the combination of normal concepts (for example, a painting of grazing wildlife) with bizarre objects or characters (the wildlife is fruit), with at least a paragraph's worth of backstory on the art piece itself (a nature-book-esque description of the fruit's habitat and behavior in the wild).
    • Don't forget well-described camping and expeditions, including equipment. She's a birder, but that, oddly, doesn't turn up much.
  • Terry Goodkind's characters are always angry, tired, confused or otherwise affected; there is rarely a scene where everybody present is in a balanced state of mind. He also has a tendency to have at least one character present in most serious discussions who's holding the Idiot Ball for the duration of the scene and has to have things explained to them plain and simple.
  • Andre Norton tended to have female characters orphaned as babies and raised by animals or other nonhumans who improvised clothing for them early on, despite generally not wearing clothing themselves. She also liked cats.
  • Aaron Allston, one of the writers of the X-Wing Series, has a very distinct sense of humor which manifests in absurd or mocking bits of dialogue. Every character with more than a couple lines has some kind of quirk, which at least means that when anyone dies the reader's response is never "Who?", and his writing is intensely character-driven. He's also got a tendency to put in background female characters who are very muscular.
  • James Patterson italicizes everything of any importance. Also, half-page chapters, and switching POV from first-person to third-person.
  • Raymond E. Feist loves to use the words "alien" and "quietly" as often as possible, especially chapters/segments which begin with "(character name) sat quietly."
    • He also opens the majority of his chapters with a three or four word sentence, beginning in Magician with "The storm had broken.".
  • Larry Niven writes about Giant Space Structures (the ringworld, the smoke ring), sex between different alien species, and really long alien names with lots of a'postr'oph'es in them.
  • Cormac McCarthy doesnt use many apostrophes when writing speech and he doesnt use speech marks to indicate dialogue and the Deep South or the west are common settings and he frequently uses 'and' a lot in a sentence. Furthermore, he's partial to esoteric word choices as well as run-on sentences, not to mention sentences of unusually long length, one example being a page-and-a-half long sentence in Blood Meridian. Also, he often has a character repeat what someone else has said.
    Character One: Like how?
    Character Two: Like this.
    Character One: Like this.
    Character Two: That's right.
  • Twilight: Stephenie Meyer is fond of portraying human/nonhuman romances, with all of the main characters being implausibly gorgeous (and described with lots and lots of Purple Prose). She also has a thing for the word "chagrin," as well as "dazzled" and "perfect", and the color beige. She describes characters' daily lives in a highly detailed manner, which drags her books out to borderline Door Stopper lengths. Note that most of these are traits that could be considered a stereotypical Signature Style of teenage girls writing fanfiction.
  • Tamora Pierce has a mildly amusing habit of describing a character's clothing in detail. This lead to one famous scene where Alanna of Tortall, hardened warrior, is talking to a friend about someone else's poor fashion choices while changing. "Can you imagine?"
    • Well, her heroines, for the most part, do tend to (at least try) represent strong, yet still feminine women
    • On a darker note, the final book in any Tortall Universe quartet will be a bloodbath, where Anyone Can Die. The most likely candidates for the chop are roguish, quick-thinking, highly competent characters who often have friendly rivalry with the protagonist, such as Faithful, Liam and Alan {Lioness), Rikash {Immortals), Gilab Lofts (Protector of the Small) and Tunstall (Provost's Dog — with a particularly cruel twist). Bring hankies for the finale.
  • John Green really likes his well-spoken and well-read teenagers and deconstructing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (or guy) trope. And driving, too: His characters will be spending a considerable amount of time on the road.
  • Michael Crichton books inevitably share the same plot: "Scientist discovers or creates something. Protagonist warns the scientist that he hasn't considered the consequences. Discovery and/or creation Goes Horribly Wrong. Protagonist saves the day. Protagonist says "I told you so" and scientist maybe or maybe not learns his lesson that Science Is Bad, or at least misapplied. The end."
    • Also, the "going horribly wrong" part is usually not because of a single glaring error, but several smaller mistakes or accidents that compound one another. If it's mentioned casually that something isn't optimal, but it shouldn't be an issue because of all the other security precautions ... trust us, it will turn out to be an issue.
  • Hey Doctor Who fans! Did that last Expanded Universe novel make your brain feel like it was shoved in a blender set to "puree"? Did it feature people doing exceptionally odd things to Time? Was The Obi-Wan a Deadpan Snarker? A Magnificent Bastard? Both? Well, my friend, you were probably reading a novel by Lawrence Miles.
  • Jim Butcher of The Dresden Files and Codex Alera fame really, really likes political intrigue, characters with ulterior motives, complex and out of the ordinary strategies in battle, characters playing Xanatos Speed Chess, and unique and unexpected application of magic.
  • James Clavell liked to write large novels set in or around Asia, featuring Loads and Loads of Characters and intricate, interwoven plots from both the protagonist's and antagonist's sides of the stories. His books are usually divided into shorter "books" or chapters that encompass a period of time (from three years in King Rat to just about ten days in Noble House). Also, at least one main character will die at the end of each of his books (except for King Rat, where the death was merely figurative, rather than literal).
  • David Wong of John Dies at the End and Cracked fame tends to have work that is very cynical, heavy on the pop culture and full of Sophisticated as Hell, often explaining complex concepts with monkeys, kittens, and the aforementioned pop culture references. His Cracked articles tend to revolve around achieving happiness.
  • Charles Bukowski's work could be summed up as thoughtful insights using mundane metaphors for some of the most mundanely depressing situations done in the plainest of text. Also, lots of alcohol, sex, gambling, self-deprecation and jokes worthy of a 14 year old kid.
  • Lord Dunsany's signature style is a dreamy prose filled with Antiquated Linguistics. Think a Lighter and Softer Lovecraft, particularly early Dream Cycle Lovecraft (unsurprising since he was a major influence on the crazy Yankee), though he was quite capable of putting an edge into his stories. His later fiction loses some of this style, leading to a They Changed It, Now It Sucks reaction from some fans.
  • Timothy Zahn starts each of his Star Wars novels with a description of an Imperial Star Destroyer gliding through space, in reference to the Original Trilogy's opening shots. If he's writing in the prequel era, he substitutes the most appropriate warship of the time. He's got a lot of signature bits in his work.
    • He likes pulling an As You Know by mentioning X, then having a different character say "Oh, that's [rough explanation], right?"
    • And the phrase "...said the other" and variants in a two-person conversation.
    • Stormtroopers are extremely competent. Imperials in general are not evil, and neither are they about to switch sides. They have pride in what they do and get presented as just as human as anyone in the New Republic. There are ruthless people on both sides and the Imperials are still the villains, but it's far less black-and-white than most writers will make it.
      • This is true of Zahn's non-Star Wars novels as well. The Conqueror Trilogy is a good example of this; neither side of the conflict is bad, and both sides include the sort of multiple factions that you'd actually find in a society at war.
    • He's one of the best at complicated plotlines with several protagonists who go in separate directions, have their own plot-important actions and multiple subplots, and come together and separate again as part of the larger plot. Seriously, all of his multi-protagonist books have these.
    • Zahn really likes coolly intelligent, calculating characters, both villainous and non, and has confessed to favoring enhanced soldiers and also criminal types who have redeeming features, like Karrde, Car'das, and one of the protagonists of the Dragonback series.
  • K. A. Applegate, in the series that she's written (Animorphs, Everworld, and Remnants), always uses a choppy first-person, in which sentences are short. They're about this long. And are often fragmented. With pop culture references. And slang. And lots of expies. She likes to send her characters into facsimiles of Hell, and make it the sort of experience that horrifies, nauseates, and mentally scars even the bravest of them. (And in the case of Animorphs, they must've had to go down there about a dozen times over the course of the series.) Also, expect her to create really awesome female characters and then kill them off towards the end.
  • Frederick Forsyth is extremely well known for his obsession with correct details, intense amounts of research, and almost journalistic approach to writing.
  • Mark Z. Danielewski tends to write in either a dry, formal, academic tone or a very lyrical and sometimes almost nonsensical one (House of Leaves mixes both). He also really, really, really likes meaningful mis-spellings ("torn to pisces", "allways sixteen"), hidden coded messages, and the use of different font colors to highlight particular letters or words.
    • Don't forget the typographical experimentation, with text reading vertically on the page and what have you.
  • When you read a sci-fi story, and it tells you proliferation of helicopters and telecommunication technologies allowed the humans to abandon the cities (barring, perhaps, cultural and academic centers) and return to forests and meadows they've always longed for, you can bet it's Arthur C. Clarke. (Unless it's Clifford Simak.)
    • Ditto for any short story or chapter that ends with a one-sentence Twist Ending.
  • Sandy Mitchell, of Ciaphas Cain fame, has a few old standbys. Cain's palms will be described as tingling at least ten times per novel. A remarkable amount of people are in some way preternatural, but everyone (aside from Jurgen) is insouciant. Often, something causes a susurrus. Cain frequently ends up in caves or some similar system, allowing him to remark repeatedly on how he knows his way around caves as a result of his childhood. British pop culture references are made.
    • Also, Ciaphas Cain did NOT know the horror that he would soon be facing, and if he did he would have ran screaming to the nearest shuttle off-world.
    • Similarly, if you see the words "Tenebrous" and/or "Cyclopean" used to describe a structure then you will be reading a Horus Heresy novel, and if someone "threw his red Sudenland cloak over his shoulder", enjoy your Gotrek & Felix.
  • Michael A. Stackpole, in and out of the X-Wing Series, drops many offhand references about the 'verse he's writing in by Techno Babble and mentions of unusual cultural quirks held by different species. These tend not to be elaborated on; they're there to make the 'verse bigger. His earlier novels tended to have Beige Prose. There is always one protagonist who is always, always completely and utterly confident in himself and his ego, even though he also always gets something wrong, experiences failure, and gets humiliated without revenge afterwards. Stackpole's better about this than he used to be, but there are also always a number of Red Shirt characters with almost no characterization or dialogue, and all of that is connected to that confident protagonist. There are literally characters in the X-Wing Series whose only lines before being killed are about Corran Horn. Also, his characters tend to talk all the same way, with dialogue more suited to exposition.
    • And he ends. Every chapter. With a Declarative Statement. Even when that means a character goes from planning/introspection to talking to themselves.
  • Homer used elaborate similes that go on for several lines, often described of feasts, and used recurring lines and phrases, like "wine-dark sea", or, after gruesome, anatomically-detailed descriptions of battlefield slayings "And the darkness swirled about his eyes."
  • E. E. Cummings uses Punctuation and
    (in a very, unique) way
    (disturbed he did crazed he do)
    with up so floating many bells down
  • Gertrude Stein certainly had a quite distinctive style. Gertrude Stein had a certainly quite distinctive style. Gertrude Stein had a quite certainly distinctive style. Gertrude Stein quite certainly had a distinctive style.
  • Iain M. Banks's science fiction novels, both in The Culture and the stand-alone ones, often feature a lot of snarky humor, especially at cocktail parties or something similar. There will sometimes be a Wacky Wayside Tribe scene with some other culture or species which tends to overlap with another feature, a scene of outright Gorn (i.e. the way the protagonist of ''Consider Phlebas stops cannibals from eating him). The novel may or may not end with the deaths of the cast and many other unfortunate people.
  • Matthew Reilly writes like an action film-fast paced, frantic, violent, crazy spectacles, with infodumps in-between to set up the next sequence. Almost invariably, a person's head when shot will be described as exploding like a watermelon. Most of his characters are referred to by their military callsigns. The ones that aren't are usually the main characters.
    • Incidentally, his author commentary for Seven Deadly Wonders mentions that he got sick of the callsigns. He didn't call the characters by their names, though. He called them all by nicknames ascribed to them by the Token Mini-Moe. (Pooh Bear, Big Ears, Wizard . . . One gets the impression of self-parody.)
    • Also, if anything is mentioned, it will come into play. Documents, weapons, people, buildings, the landscape itself, just about everything will play a part at some point. Usually by being spectacularly demolished.
  • Lemony Snicket. He often defines obscure words, writes about odd side topics, uses many of the same phrases, and hints at some sort of side story involving himself. Very odd guy.
    • 'Odd' here a word meaning 'totally awesome.'
  • If you are reading a book by David Weber, expect it to be very long and contain very, very explicit descriptions of technology, mathematics, and how many missiles are getting launched and annihilated. And the phrase "venting/gushing/leaking atmosphere".
    • Also, nobody simply does anything, any action performed, they have to do so bearing in mind the many intracacies of interstellar politics and warfare and espionage and shared backstory and precocious six-legged alien telepathic cat-weasel-beings that affect such weighty things as answering a phone call.
  • Daniel Pinkwater's protagonists are usually fat, dorky kids (who willingly describe themselves as such), often Jewish, with funny names and dull but harmless parents. They hate school and instead spend a lot of time having adventures with suspiciously weird friends. Other recurring themes are the state of New Jersey; Eastern mysticism; aliens, monsters and chickens.
  • Harry Turtledove has "flabble" (a word invented in the Timeline 191 series, roughly synonymous with "whine") and "spit streamed into his mouth" (for "his mouth watered") and awkward sex scenes, to name a few.
    • Expect to see Show, Don't Tell violated almost every page. Also, his characters can often be found wishing their situation was different, and then remarking that the situation remained exactly as it was regardless of how much they wished it wouldn't. Phrases like "It would be funny if only it wasn't true" also make frequent appearances. He also likes to point out a character's hypocrisy by saying "It never occurred to him/her that X," with X being something the character was complaining about that they're also guilty of.
    • Most of his works include Loads and Loads of Characters, usually spread across the landscape, most of whom never encounter each other. These works will also include large heaping helpfuls of As You Know conversations and Internal Monologues where they character reminds him/herself of how they got where they are now, since it's generally been several chapters since we last saw that character.
  • Andrey Lazarchuk loves unrepentant mindscrewery. More specifically, he has parallel universes with bizarre interdimensional mechanics, (multiple) conspiracies ancient and government aimed at manipulating said mechanics and Blue and Orange Morality. As for the narrative itself, it has plenty of internal narration to the point of stream of consciousness and lots of flashforwards and perspective shifts, presumably aimed at confusing the reader further. And everything is probably symbolic in some way, though half of it is probably the critics' fault.
  • Will Leicester appears to be obsessed with fitting as many Queen references as possible into his word, to the point of naming minor deities after the band members and, on one memorable occasion, including what is quite possibly the first offensive use of ''Stone Cold Crazy'' in history.
  • If the novel you're reading is set in Scotland, involves time travel romances, ghosts, and giant swords, has Love at First Sight and incredibly intense emotion, is PG-rated, is titled after a song or song lyric, mentions "funny spots on the ground" and "faery rings" and stars a character with the last name "MacLeod" or "de Piaget", it's a Lynn Kurland novel.
  • James Ellroy: Short, declarative sentences. All the bullshit trimmed away. Prose pared down to its bare essentials. Shakedowns. Schemes. The secret history of America. The Big Picture. Bad men and the women they loved. Violence, drug abuse, Grey and Grey Morality and occasionally redemption.
  • Lorrie Moore is fond of writing stories about lonely women or women with few people in their lives going through some life-defining crisis or another.
    • Reviewers also note her sense of humour (no matter how heartbreaking the story, there will always be details and moments of her exceptionally wry wit), true-to-life dialogue, and her ability to create something new in an over-saturated market. If you're reading a short story and it seems like it's going to be indistinguishable from the mainstream but instead it stomps your heart out, you're reading Lorrie Moore. She's often said to be a 'writer's writer.'
  • Oscar Wilde really liked writing about wealthy people and their lives (possible exception: his children's stories) but that's because, as has been acknowledged, it allowed him to realistically insert the lengthy dialogues he really loved writing. (Because only the wealthy would be idle enough to be able to spend a long time chatting with each other, see.)
  • The novels and short stories of Bret Easton Ellis always use first-person narrative, about wealthy, shallow and selfish people and often contain meticulous descriptions of incredibly violent events.
  • John Donne is fairly easily recognized if you've studied any of his poetry. He enjoys grand metaphysical imagery involving the sun and religious symbolism, and poems about great love that you couldn't possibly imagine because it's just that amazing (my love is deeper and more moving than yours, etc.).
  • In the stories of the Polish writer Marcin Wolski, the protagonist will always have sex with several women throughout, and there will be a hitman who may or may not be after the protagonist and will inevitably die before the end of the story.
  • Vladimir Nabokov's stories usually feature a Russian or Eastern-European expatriate protagonist who's an Unreliable Narrator and fond of elaborate descriptions and wordplay. Look for lots of references to butterflies, chess, other works of literature and a distinct emphasis on style over substance.
  • John Irving's novels often involve some kind of gruesome injury or accident, a teenage boy having an affair with an older woman, an elite New Hampshire prep school that is never actually called Exeter, and (more frequently than one might expect) a bear riding a bicycle.
  • A lot of Jack McDevitt's novels deal with a decades-old mystery revolving around a person who acted bizarrely out of character. The alien Mutes only attacked military targets during their war against humanity — except once when they attacked a civilian city of no strategic value which had already been evacuated (A Talent For War). A man spends his entire life searching for a hidden cache of pre-apocalypse books, only to throw them into the sea when he finds them (Eternity Road). A popular author doing research for her next book decides to have her mind wiped and restart life with a new identity (The Devil's Eye). Someone devotes their life to the search for extraterrestrial life, then abruptly quits and claims they didn't find anything despite evidence to the contrary (Infinity Beach and Echo).
  • Stories by Transformers: Timelines author team Greg Sepelak & Trent Troop generally involve Continuity Nods, Mythology Gags, and References galore, with the latter always involving at least one They Might Be Giants nod.
  • Ayn Rand unapologetically uses her works as vehicles for the transmission of her Objectivist philosophy. Her good characters represent what she feels humanity can be at its greatest moments, and most of her plots tend to revolve around the protagonists trying to accomplish extraordinary things in the face of villains who twirl their mustaches and tie women to railroad tracks.
  • Ryohgo Narita (of Baccano! and Durarara!! fame) is particularly fond of huge casts of unstable characters. All his stories also take place within the same universe.
  • Matt Stover is a real-life martial artist and will happily write intensely detailed fight scenes dozens of pages long. Other trademarks of his include erudite narration that drops into goofy terminology (like the abrupt appearance of the word "bazillion" during a serious scene in Shatterpoint), Bond One Liners and Deadpan Snarkers, badasses of every stripe, people dropping dead all over the place, and never allowing the triumph of despair even when that seems the only option left. His primary plot-making method is to grind his main character relentlessly down to their very marrow, take away everything about them that they thought was important, drive them to the brink of oblivion, then have them re-evaluate themselves, back up, stand up and show everyone what they're really made of. Typically, it's whoopass. However, while his novelisation of Revenge of the Sith follows the formula to the letter, the spirit is given a cruel twist: Anakin's fate is a life of absolutely hellish torture because when stripped of his delusions all he becomes - is himself.
  • In Robert E. Howard stories the main character is a stereotypical hero whose physical prowess is only rivaled by his wit, usually a member of some better group who mostly works alone fighting against ancient evil and/or decayed corrupted civilization turned thus. Also, as the Trope Maker of the genre, obviously there is a lot of Sword and Sorcery. Also, an overarching view that whole civilizations rise from the mud, reach peak and then corrupt and fail, as noted in the other wiki's page on this.
  • With two series, Suzanne Collins has established quite a few - young protagonists who have already been through the wringer, younger siblings they would do anything to protect, war as hell, deadpan snarkers, world-weary mentors who use sarcasm and put-downs in their training, authority figures who later turn out to be evil, a balance of good and evil to both sides, beloved characters dying suddenly, and villains somehow connected to white. She also likes to end chapters (and sometimes books) with a Wham Line.
  • Paul Stewart loves to make up words, for one thing. He also has a talent for names, all of his works taking place on the far side of Aerith and Bob. Probably the most immediately noticeable quirk, though, is that he never ever says "around." It's always "Twig spun round" or "they came round in the end."
  • Virginia Woolf will jump in and out of the consciousness of various characters going about their ordinary everyday lives.
    • Incredibly long but grammatically correct sentences are another feature of her work, although you're unlikely to notice that you've yet to come to a period on first read; Woolf was very fond of the semicolon as a way to join an entire paragraph's worth of thoughts and observations into one sentence, which, in the interest of not starting a war over the proper use of the semicolon, let it simply be said that Woolf was very familiar with the intricacies of structure and frequently nested clauses within clauses, and while not writing in true stream of consciousness style, her flowing style allowed her to capture the consciousness of her characters and immerse her readers in such without resorting to line breaks or other obvious quirks; the long sentences, then, are not so much an error as a manifestation of style.
  • J.D. Salinger writes about teenagers or young adults, most of whom are either geniuses or at least very intellectually gifted. Also expect gratuitous swearing and conversations that never reveal what anyone is actually thinking.
  • Flannery O'Connor's work is always set in the South and usually culminates in an epiphany of some kind, often religious in nature. Many characters also suffer from some kind of disability or disfigurement.
  • Raymond Carver writes in short, simple sentences, and characters will probably spend most of the story talking.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's stories are always about upper-class people, usually alcoholics, who self-destruct spectacularly in beautiful and occasionally flowery prose.
  • Ernest Hemingway's stories often feature hunting, fishing, war or bull-fighting. He writes in famously short, direct sentences using simple language so that the style does not distract from the content. Themes of masculinity are prevalent.
  • Brandon Sanderson is best known for his intricate, self consistent magic systems. His works also tend to contain lots of political intrigue that ultimately results in chaos, Well Intentioned Extremists, large quantities of snark, and characters becoming gods.
    • He is very much into Powergaming. Said magic systems will almost always be used in unusual, game breaking ways, and any seemingly 'useless' abilities will always be proved extremely effective and plot important before the end.
  • Damon Runyon uses anonymous First Person Peripheral Narrators with Present Tense Narrative and a mixture of period slang and Delusions of Eloquence:
    If I have all the tears that are shed on Broadway by guys in love, I will have enough salt water to start an opposition ocean to the Atlantic and Pacific, with enough left over to run the Great Salt Lake out of business. But I wish to say I never shed any of these tears personally, because I am never in love, and furthermore, barring a bad break, I never expect to be in love, for the way I look at it love is strictly the old phedinkus, and I tell the little guy as much.
  • If you've just read several pages of dialogue without a single "said Charname" to help you keep it straight, you may well be reading Roger Zelazny. Also, a superhuman or group thereof among normals is a staggeringly common theme.
  • We're sure almost everyone knows by this time that almost all Seuss books are written in rhyme.
  • Robert B. Parker seems completely oblivious to the fact that dialogue can be attributed in ways other than "X said."

    Live Action TV 
  • Russell T Davies has a penchant for using the names "Tyler", "Rose", "Delaney", "Donna", "Harkness" and "Jones" (most evident in "The Stolen Earth", which features four pre-existing Joneses). He likes to reference Ipswich. Ominous references to "the darkness" and "something is coming" abound. He often criticises religion and has a love of Humanist monologues ("Indomitable!"). He's prone to excessive use of Techno Babble in his Doctor Who stories, though for Who, this is no new thing.
    • Of course, some Doctor Who fans complain that RTD doesn't use enough Techno Babble, claiming his sketchy explanations for whatever effect he wants to produce might as well be "A Wizard Did It". Major offenders include the "anti-plastic" in "Rose" and every Deus ex Machina season finale.
    • Fans often seem divided by his assumed "Gay Agenda", with everything from jokes from gay culture to same-sex kisses having found their way into his four Doctor Who series.
    • For an atheist, RTD won an award for irony when "Gridlock" (featuring renditions of "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Abide With Me") got nominated by a religious group for a prize for promoting Biblical values.
      • Although his work is noticeably stuffed full of religious imagery. Notable examples include "Last of the Time Lords" (the Doctor being rejuvenated by the entire populace of Earth praying for him, flying over the evil Master, then hugging him and saying "I forgive you.") and Torchwood's "End of Days" (essentially the same thing, with resurrected Jack forgiving the doubting Owen after... well, killing the Devil.) Davies' drama "The Second Coming" was nothing but religion, though of the kind that takes Nietzsche very literally...
    • And who could forget the moment in RTD's second ever episode of Doctor Who, "The End of the World", when we see the Earth burning away beneath a giant glowing space station ''in the shape of a crucifix''...
    • He also likes to use repetitive jokes, pop-culture references (often to reality TV and often appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator), and extraneous guest stars. Although '80's Doctor Who also tended to have a lot of name guest stars.
  • Another Doctor Who writer and current Show-Runner, Steven Moffat, definitely has one. Expect Mood Whiplash Up to Eleven, light humour, horrors untold, a hint of romance and sexuality and extensive use of the Timey-Wimey Ball. He also writes like Who is a dark fairytale.
    • Another extremely apparent stylistic choice of his is phrase repetition. For example, "Hey, who turned out the lights?", "She is not complete", "Silence will fall", "Are you my mummy?", "Hello sweetie", "Spoilers", "Don't blink' - and that's just a few of the many, MANY Doctor Who examples, each repeated anywhere from about five to fifty times an episode. It's effective until you notice it, then it becomes a liver-destroying drinking game.
    • Moffat also seems to love sitcom-esque dialogue. His characters never miss a chance to be witty. Unless, of course, the joke is momentary awkwardness (see: any time Eleven says something dorky.)
    • Moffat uses Buffy Speak a lot, often using it in lieu of Techno Babble, which he hates. He also lets his characters be very comedic, even when faced with a deadly danger. Snarkers and Butt Monkeys are evident too.
    • He also includes children and childish/primal fears in his story lines.
    • A lot of the dialogue he writes, especially when it gets into the Techno Babble and Buffy Speak, tends to have a LOT of pauses and Motor Mouth moments. See: the Tenth Doctor and Tintin & Haddock in the film version of Tintin (especially when Haddock is telling the story of the Unicorn).
  • Joss Whedon cannot get by without at least one superpowered tiny female character, a tendency to put likeable characters through the Wangst gauntlet, and an almost contractual Bittersweet Ending (at best).
    • He's not below hanging a lampshade on this:
      • "I tend to focus on one character (perhaps a young woman of unnatural abilities, to pull an example randomly out of nowhere) and then the other characters are built from the needs of that character's journey."
      There's been a lot of comparison to the story of Echo being a sort of warped interpretation of the River Tam story, do you agree/disagree? — Vivienne
      It wasn't meant that way, but I do have my little obsessions...
    • He's also fond of naming characters after things; just as a random sampling, Angel, Spike, Willow, Dawn, Faith, Glory, Harmony, Gunn, Jasmine, River, Wash, and Book.
      • Joss' middle name is Hill. And now you know.
      • Plus, the Actives in Dollhouse follow Theme Naming: Los Angeles uses the US military alphabet (e.g. Alpha, Echo, Victor, and Sierra), while DC uses Greek gods.
    • His penchant for snappy dialogue, snarkasm, and Buffy Speak is very distinctive. He did some Script Doctor work on the script of the first X-Men movie, but only two exchanges of dialogue made it to the final cut, and one of them has his fingerprints all over it:
      Wolverine: Hey! It's me.
      Cyclops: Prove it!
      Wolverine: You're a dick.
      Cyclops: [Shrugs, nods.] Okay.
      • The other, Storm's line about a toad getting hit by lightning, doesn't seem like his style; however, before his contributions were reduced, it was the deadpan climax to a highly Whedonesque Running Gag.
      • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, it's extremely obvious which lines Whedon wrote. A sample Whedonesque line:
        Milo: Will you look at the size of this? It's gotta be a half mile high, at least. It must have taken hundred — no, thousands of years to carve this thing!
        Column: BOOM!
        Vinny: Look, I made a bridge. It only took me, like, what? Ten seconds? Eleven, tops.
      • Not to mention, of course, the "intelligent guard" exchange in Titan A.E..
    • His penchant for Women in Refrigerators (or perhaps just Anyone Can Die in general) is called out during the Dr. Horrible Comic-Con panel: "You kill a lot of chicks."
    • He also constantly subverts audience expectations, destroys happy relationships, and is the master of Mood Whiplash.
    • In every series finale he will kill two major characters. One will have a somewhat extended death scene, the other will be killed with no warning:
      • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Anya dies suddenly, Spike gets an extended death.
      • Angel: Lindsey dies suddenly, Wesley gets an extended death.
      • Firefly (counting Serenity as the series finale): Book gets an extended death, Wash dies suddenly.
      • Dollhouse: Ballard dies suddenly, Topher gets an extended death.
      • This also holds true for Buffy's Season Five finale, which was originally intended to be the series finale: Ben dies suddenly, Buffy gets an extended death.
    • Very fond of creating loveable characters then torturing them as much as he possibly can.
    • Finally, whenever he directs, look out for some ambitious Oners, as seen in Serenity, The Avengers, and quite a few TV episodes.
  • Nichelle Nichols once accused Gene Roddenberry that Star Trek was just "morality plays in space!" His response was; "so?"
    • This style rubbed off on almost everyone who wrote for Trek over the years. Most notably Gene Roddenberry, Gene L Coon, and D.C. Fontana, but Michael Piller, Rick Berman, Branon Braga - all the big names got their shot at it.
    • Even some Trek staff writers developed one. Is it leaning heavily towards military sci-fi and riding the lines between War Is Glorious and War Is Hell? Does Worf end up with several CMOAs? Is the morality leaning towards Gray and Gray Morality or Blackand Gray Morality? The episode was penned by Ron Moore. Is it a relatively low-key episode where the conflict and drama is more character-based, with Black and White Morality or White and Gray Morality? You've likely hit a Jeri Taylor script. Is the damn thing a first-rate Mind Screw where you might figure out what's going on by Act 5? Yup, Brannon Braga wrote it.
  • Terry Nation (Doctor Who, Blake's 7, The Survivors) liked doomed (and argumentative) groups of rebels fighting Scary Dogmatic Aliens like the Nazi-esque Daleks (which he invented) or in the case of B7, Scary Dogmatic Humans. He also liked ragtag (and argumentative) groups of survivors in After the End settings, and in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", he even got to combine the two fascinations. He also had a great fondness for characters with the last name Tarrant and, often, characters with no first names ever given. A strong streak of cynicism runs through his work, making his favourite characters Deadpan Snarkers.
    • Look out also for his tendency to make up for his total aversion to Techno Babble by adding the word 'space' to existing nouns. Someone will be a doctor of 'space medicine'; an alien race's headquarters is referred to as being 'in Space' by space-travellers, and so on.
  • When Clark Johnson directs an episode in any given series, expect lots of handheld shots and shots of tangential, sometimes random but interesting events happening at the periphery of the scene. Called "Shoot the Dog" shots by the crew of the The Shield, after he excitedly insisted on filming nearby barking dog in one of the early episodes, different from the more familiar Shoot the Dog.
  • Aaron Sorkin, father of the Walk and Talk and Sorkin Relationship Moment: machine gun fast dialogue. Comedic repetition. Tall, smart, sexy, sassy women who give as good as they get. Characters who veer oh-so-close to cynicism, only to come back to hope and idealism. Extremely liberal world view. He actually included common criticisms of his writing style in his short play Hidden in this Picture. In it, a film director tells his Sorkin-proxy screenwriter, "I think your work has a tendency to be long-winded and cynical, I think you have trouble handling exposition, you take forever to introduce the inciting action, and all your female characters talk and act as if they've just stepped off the Love Boat."
    • He also really, really likes to use the name Danny.
    • And the same character types. Watch The American President and The West Wing and then tell us A.J. MacInerney and Leo McGarry aren't the same character. Same with Lewis Rothschild and Josh Lyman, and that gets more fun when you add in Studio 60 and A Few Good Men, because Matt Albie and Dan Caffee are also the same character as Lewis and Josh.
    • He loves Talking About That Thing, to the point of Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer. It will often be five to seven minutes into the conversation before the audience learns what The Thing is.
    • He also likes to refer to offscreen characters multiple times by their full names before introducing them or explaining their purpose in the story.
      • And main characters often imply full sentences in arguments just by using the other character's first name.
    • Is the season finale named "What Kind of a Day Has It Been"? You're watching the first season of an Aaron Sorkin show.
    • Not to mention his love of dramatic speeches. Is there a self-righteous villain in the piece? Then there will be a scene in which he delivers something not far short of a sermon, usually in response to hard questioning (in a legal setting), in which he concludes with a highly-quotable, exceptionally angry declaration which leaves everyone speechless.
    • Father issues. Nearly everybody on The West Wing has something rotten in their relationship with their father: Bartlet's father was a "Well Done, Son" Guy who never actually said "well done son" and was physically abusive; Leo's father was an alcoholic who killed himself; Josh's father died suddenly the night they won the Illinois primary, contributing to his Guilt Complex; Toby has to forgive his father for being in the Jewish mafia; C.J.'s father is dying of Alzheimer's; Sam's father is revealed to have had an affair during his marriage that's lasted almost all of Sam's life. Charlie's father is the least talked about, and that's only because he was a Disappeared Dad; to make up for it, his mother was a police officer who was murdered, resulting in Charlie being Promoted To Parent at the age of twenty-one. In other works, we have, for instance, Danny in A Few Good Men trying to come to terms with his need to live up to his father's awesome reputation as a lawyer.
      • Sam's father's affair is an almost word-for-word retread of Jeremy's in Sports Night.
    • Sorkin uses the dialog construction "not for nothing, but ..." a great deal.
  • Bryan Fuller frequently gives his female leads boy's names, and his shows are very visually distinct, featuring sets, costuming and cinematography that make any shots from his work unmistakable in their origin. He frequently writes characters who are highly educated - perhaps overeducated - for their jobs, and disaffected by this fact. His characters often question their own mental stability, and to the audience the 'reality' of their perceptions will remain ambiguous. He likes to reuse actors and - perhaps the strongest sign a show is his - his premises involve weird, mildly disturbing relationships with food and/or death that are mined for macabre humor and heavy philosophical questions. For instance, resurrection with a price often features, as evidenced by his work on Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Mortal Coil". No one guessed he might create a TV series adaptation of Red Dragon until Hannibal - and yet once he did, the idea had a certain oddball perfection.
  • Shotaro Ishinomori really loved the Phlebotinum Rebel, with his more prominent works featuring heroes as such.
  • Kevin Williamson is quite fond of showing the lives of highly introspective teenagers living in a small suburban town. (Dawson's Creek) Then he puts those teenagers in mortal peril. (Scream (1996), The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle)
  • Even in Game Shows, this crops up often:
    • Chuck Barris: Incredibly campy, simplistic shows that are clearly not even close to taking themselves seriously and have very little in the way of "game" (e.g. The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game, The Gong Show, Treasure Hunt). Often with brassy, extremely 70s music written by Barris himself. Always announced by Johnny Jacobs until he died.
    • Mark Goodson-Bill Todman: Early on, panel games (Ive Got A Secret, To Tell the Truth, Whats My Line, etc.). Later on, more varied, with everything from Match Game to Family Feud to several revivals of the Bob Stewart-created Password. Almost always announced by Johnny Olson (until his 1985 death) or Gene Wood.
    • Jack Barry-Dan Enright: Generally solid quiz formats (unless they're trying to copy something else — for instance, Hollywood Connection was a blatant Match Game expy), extremely easy questions (likely over-compensation for the quiz show scandals of which they were a part in the 1950s), and an entirely luck-based Bonus Round that involves some variant of "Find X amount of [good thing] before you find [bad thing]".
    • Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley: Variations on popular games (for instance, The Hollywood Squares is based on tic-tac-toe; Gambit was blackjack; and High Rollers was Shut the Box). Always with brassy Stan Worth theme tunes and Kenny Williams as announcer.
    • Bob Stewart: Word association games that are obviously trying to copy his huge hit, Pyramid. Often with super-cheap-looking but elaborate sets, and peppy themes by Bob Cobert. Bill Cullen is usually involved.
    • Jay Wolpert: Ridiculously complex shows that often border on being the game show equivalent of Calvinball. Not surprisingly, few of his shows lasted very long.
    • Reg Grundy: Proprietor of Australian adaptations of American game shows, always extremely faithful to what they copied.
  • Does the show you are watching take place in the past, focus primarily on women and their relationships with each other, handle what should be impossibly melodramatic storylines in a way that makes them, instead, utterly believable and heartbreaking, contain at least one romantic storyline which is restrained in expression yet incredibly profound, show the goodness of humanity in the midst of tragedy, and require everyone to Earn Their Happy Ending? Congratulations, you're watching something written by Heidi Thomas. See, for instance, Lilies, Ballet Shoes, Cranford, the Upstairs Downstairs revival, and Call the Midwife.
  • It would be easier to list the Sitcom tropes Chuck Lorre doesn't employ regularly, since he was involved in many a Trope Codifier in the 90's and 00's. His biggest calling card as of The New Tens may be his heavy use of a Laugh Track in shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men long after it has fallen out of favor with just about every other creator on television.

  • Amongst composers, Frank Zappa is known for his highly peculiar style. On guitar, he favored a Clarence Brown or Johnny Watson-inspired complex, left hand fingering, with lots of interaction with the drummer. As a composer, he loved to glue together separate elements and styles in an unpredictable collage of music. As a song writer, he is typified by industrial-strength sarcasm and a dislike of feminism. And he had a big nose and Johnny Otis's imperial mustache (recurring elements on album art).
  • Nick Cave, throughout the songs he's written, the novel (And The Ass Saw The Angel) and the film screenplay (The Proposition) has shown an enormous interest in four things: flowers, stomach-churning violence, discussion of literature — often in very unlikely places, and semi-heretical yet extremely pious examinations of religion.
  • If you see someone onstage playing a left-handed Hofner violin bass in something resembling a classic Beatlesuit, he is either Paul McCartney or someone trying to impersonate him as a Beatle. If he is playing anything written after Revolver, or if there are no other Beatles impersonators, it's the real thing.
  • To a certain extent, The Beatles each had a signature style towards the end of the decade. John wrote songs with political, abstract, or drug-fueled lyrics, Paul wrote more straightforward love songs, George included a lot of spirituality, and, to the extent that he wrote and sang, Ringo's pieces were more playful and straightforward (to the point where Ringo songs were often considered the "kid-friendly" ones). Musically, Paul's songs usually require a greater vocal range than John's — compare the near-monotone "Across the Universe" or "Come Together" with "Yesterday" or "The Long and Winding Road" — while George's feature unusual vocal and guitar ostinatos, such as the line "I don't know why" in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" or the opening notes of "Something".
  • Every single DragonForce song features the phrase "for the day", "far away", at least one reference to fire/warriors, and is at least three-quarters epic guitar solos. They're also all in the same time, key, and tempo.
  • Similarly, virtually every Manowar song is about at least one of the following: warriors and warfare, how awesome heavy metal is, and Norse mythology.
  • Nile songs can be distinguished by being one of the following: a light-speed technical death song that makes heavy use of Egyptian scales and is backed by extraordinarily fast and aggressive drumming, a lurching death/doom track with prominent atmospheric touches, or a sprawling epic that combines the two. Frequent folk interludes are also dead giveaways, as is the low grunt/high rasp dual vocal system of Karl and Dallas. Finally, there's also Karl's technical yet highly discordant soloing style.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has a habit where a number of pieces he writes have sections that end with a prominent trill at the big cadence. This was popular during the Rococo period.
  • Nine Inch Nails albums are usually concept albums. His music kept the exact same introspective subject matter (love, death, meaning etc) from the late 1980s to the early 2000s and reuses/d words like 'skin', 'broken', 'hole', 'bleeding', 'head', 'feels', 'falling/loss' etc. He both whispers and shouts a lot, often in the same song.
  • Johnny Cash had a very sparse, stripped down style for most of his career. This paired with his smooth bass-baritone voice made even his (numerous) covers immediately recognizable. One of his trademarks is the "boom chicka" rhythm played by a muted electric guitar.
  • Producer Rick Rubin's signature style is the minimal instrumentation, very few effects and overall feeling very stripped down.
  • Joni Mitchell was afflicted with polio at age nine, and lost some use of her left hand. Her compositions use very distinctive non-standard guitar tunings ("Joni's weird chords") that accommodate her limited dexterity—and also sound very cool.
  • Jim Steinman, almost every song has three distinct movements, is at least 7 minutes long, features a choir of angels at some point, and sounds like Meat Loaf is singing it, even if it's actually Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion, or Air Supply.
  • If the lyrics you're listening have a lot of not-so-common words, seem to make no sense, go from Spanish to English or vice versa and are sung in falsetto it was most likely writen by Cedric Bixler-Zavala. The afro is quite stylish too.
  • Cattle Decapitation, while quite prone to Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly, has a pretty clear formula. It's a mixture of frantic, rapid-fire Harsh Vocals that frequently indulge in Motor Mouth and can go from anywhere to a low gurgle to a pseudo-clean nasally screech while mostly sticking to a mid-range bellow, guitarwork that is a mixture of standard brutal tech riffing, slam parts, and discordant, screechy lead riffs and solos that make frequent use of dissonant arpeggios and effects pedals, deep, rumbling bass that often shifts between following the guitar and contrasting it, and blast-heavy drumming that makes VERY heavy use of gravity blasts and highly technical ostinatos and vamps. The lyrics, meanwhile, are almost exclusively about either misanthropy and human wickedness or gore, frequently combining both. A subtle black comedic element is also very common, and irony is extensively used to drive the points home.
  • There's a joke that each Power Metal band picks their own theme (eg. aforementioned Manowar) and puts it into most of their songs.
  • Tom Waits has his voice, and the tendency to use deliberately antiquated recording techniques. And it's not uncommon to come across references to Kathleen Brennan, his wife. The name "Beaula" crops up a lot, as do trains, rain, and the word "down". He also uses his instruments in very bizarre, hard-to-describe ways.
  • Expect to hear the word "schism" a lot if you listen to Anthrax, not to mention a lot of songs about Stephen King novels.
  • They Might Be Giants have an accordion. Both the Johns have pretty distinctive voices, there's a lot of rhythmic stuff going on, and the lyrics are sort of hard to comprehend the first few listenings.
    • And for some reason, they really like the word "no".
    • Of course, the largest commonality of all their work is its ridiculous nature. For this reason, they've often been described as a "joke band," but this isn't exactly true. Much of their work is serious in conception, it's just that the Johns have always been ones to champion absurdity.
  • Voltaire loves the violin and lyrics that would be kinda disturbing if they weren't so funny, except for the occasional philosophical, contemplative song. Even those usually contain a bit of wit.
  • Masashi Hamauzu, composer for such games as the SaGa series and Dirge of Cerberus, tends to use lots of strings and as one reviewer puts it, "crunchy" piano chords. And expect lots of stylish violin solos. The result is a very elegant and uplifting sound.
    • Particularly true for the piano. He loves putting the piano in battle themes (see: "Decisive Battle" from FFX, "Saber's Edge" from FFXIII) - to epic effect.
  • Is it a Polyphonic Spree song? Is it about the sun? Is it irrepressibly optimistic? Is there a choir part? Are there prominent flute/horn/harp/et cetera parts? Does it have "Section" in the title? Then yes, it's probably a Polyphonic Spree song.
  • If you hear a band with shouted vocals (often with a political message), a guitar with lots of delay (and other effects) played very rhytmically on the upper strings, an agressive pumping bass and drums that often back down a bit? Well then it's probably U2.
    • Especially if the guitar bits sound suspiciously like they were ripped off from U2's immediate predecessors, particularly the Comsat Angels or Gang of Four. And if the political message veers on anvilicious.
    • Religious symbolism mixed with (unconnected) sexual themes can also play into this style, as well as ruminations of fame and rock stardom. The band had a acute sense of irony since Achtung Baby as well.
  • Linkin Park had one for damn near all of their songs from their first two albums. Mike's rapping interspersed with Chester's sing-screaming, power chords in the choruses, calm instrumental backing during the verses, an energetic kicker following a quiet intro and lots of angst.
  • Iron Maiden, especially their material from the 1980s (think The Number of the Beast), is distinguished by their trademark "galloping" back rhythm, created from the bass guitar and the drums, and Bruce Dickinson's operatic wail and screams.
  • Guns N' the song in question marked by loads of guitars and lyrics decrying Axl's persecution, abandonment, or hatred with regards to x, y, or z, sung in a baritone and falsetto register? Then it's probably a Guns N' Roses song.
  • Sonata Arctica uses grim lyrics with a sound that sounds like an exploding Skittles factory.
  • John Darnielle has a very distinctive voice, uses very poetic and erudite lyrics (often with no traditional chorus), and has recurring themes in his music (couples that hate each other, going to somewhere, etc).
  • Does the song you're listening to have a chorus made up of lines from other rap songs? There's a good chance DJ Premier did the beat.
  • Nickelback has one, which causes a lot of Snark Bait on the internet.
  • RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan has a very minimalist production style which contains a lot of samples of dialogue from kung-fu movies and pitched-up soul samples (his later songs also tend to have heavy use of strings and piano). All of the Wu-Tang Clan members also have a distinctive style of rapping in their verses, such as Ol' Dirty Bastard's bizarre character sketches and Method Man's Gangsta Rap.
  • Composer Philip Glass writes repetitive "minimalist" music that is easy to identify as his.
    • Indeed, when asked what style of music he makes, he'll tell you that it's "repetitive minimalism" - See his sometime collaborators, Kronos Quartet, for another example
  • A Disturbed song can be distinguished by the polyrhythmic, heavy-hitting druming, distorted, chugging back-riffs and David Draiman's aggressive staccato bark, growling animal cries and dramatic belting. Expect 80's-like guitar solos, rhythmic verses, melodic choruses and sombre, dark lyrics.
  • Paul Hindemith was known for his use of quartal harmonies (based on fourths and fifths) to create strange sonorities and his neoclassical forms. He drew a lot of influence from very early classical music.
  • Listening to a metal song with both screamed and sung vocals, fuzzed guitars, and crazy time signatures that change several times during the song? You're probably listening to Mudvayne.
  • Expect every single Tool song ever to be long, weird and intentionally stuffed full of obscure symbolism.
  • Of course the guitar work of David Gilmour has in itself a very distinctive signature style. He sets himself apart by playing melodically with very long sustain. He takes a page from Eric Clapton and uses note bending (sometimes extreme) to make amazing wailing sounds with his guitar and gentle breeze-through passages. His signature Strat sound is aided by his customisation of pickups and electronics. This is most notable in The Division Bell and his solo works. Also, David is a powerful user (and an industry innovator) of electronics. Notable is his use of ramping up the gain and turning down the volume for that heavy, saturated distortion which Hendrix pioneered. You can hear this well in one of his solos from "Echoes".
    • Worthy of mention also is his blistering solos in "Time" and "Comfortably Numb" which display a lot of these techniques.
    • Pink Floyd's ex-lyricist Roger Waters is well known for his preoccupations with war, insanity, isolation, introspection, loss of communication, politics and the collapse of society, often with a biting wit and cynicism.
    • Syd Barrett wrote most of Floyd's songs in their early years, and they were usually fond remembrances of a carefree childhood, though colored by LSD. To people used to the cynicism of the Waters-era Floyd, the difference in style is pretty jarring
  • System of a Down's music is somewhat hard to define, but it does have some noticeable traits present throughout the discography. It relies heavily on the loud-fast dynamic, usually somewhere between restrained and insane. Melodically it has a spiritual, almost tribal influence from world music, most notably middle-eastern instrumentation and Armenian folk singing. Lyrically it drifts between absurdist and political. Whatever you want to call it, the style is theirs.
  • The Lonely Island's comedy music usually consists of a petty thing happening, then the same situation slowly getting pettier and more minor until the first scenario that looked like the jaywalking of Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking now seems incredibly major; but no matter what, everything will be incredibly hammy. It also probably has a featured artist somewhere to sing the chorus, and a kick-ass beat.
  • Drake's songs will usually have him (or someone else) singing the chorus and a muted bass beat. It also may incorporate a "phone call" or some sort of Studio Chatter.
  • If you're listening to complicated rhythms, incredibly heavy and aggressive guitars, rap-like robotic shouts, and can't understand a word, you're probably listening to Meshuggah.
  • Heard a guy who sounds like Joe Swanson from Family Guy on a metal song? It's probably Five Finger Death Punch.
  • Typical elements of a Sound Horizon song and/or album include: Alternate Character Readings, dead people, references to an Eternal Recurrence, regular Song Style Shifts, foreign or fantastical settings, dead people, albinos, Long Haired Pretty Boys, multilingual wordplay, and dead people. Also, dead people.
  • Paul Simon, especially when he was one half of Simon & Garfunkel and the main songwriter of the duo, was quite fond of reflective songs of introspection, especially when it came to the topics of love and relationships, mortality, and loneliness. To wit, the entire first side of the Bookends album can be summed up thusly: Instrumental intro, suicide song, a couple traveling to find themselves while incredibly lonely inside and "lost", a clearly dead relationship that neither person wants to talk about or end, old people talking about their lives, two old friends sitting together ruminating on being near the end of their lives, and finally death or the end of an era.
  • Rascal Flatts has a tendency toward songs that start off soft and quiet, usually with just Gary LeVox's voice and a piano. Then a soft chorus, medium second verse and chorus where the electric guitars join in, and extremely loud, bombastic, over-the-top bridge/final chorus replete with a string section and lots of Melismatic Vocals. Then everything quiets back down and Gary ends the song with a lot of falsetto "ooh"s and "yeah"s. On top of that, Gary is known for his extremely nasal and high-pitched singing voice, which often employs a lot of melisma.
    • This is as much RF's signature style as it is Dann Huff's. He used to play guitar in a metal band before switching to country, so his songs are usually defined by heavy, ultra-slick production and an unusually high amount of overdriven electric guitar work for country, usually played by him. One notable exception is Hunter Hayes, who is comparatively more subdued and plays all of his own instruments.
  • And if it sounds like Dann Huff minus the screaming guitars, then it was probably produced by Mark Bright. This goes back to Blackhawk in the 1990s, carried through Rascal Flatts' earlier albums before they switched to Huff in 2005, and is seen in the present day with Carrie Underwood.
  • Keith Urban seems to have two settings among the songs he writes: soft, emotional ballad with restrained production ("You'll Think of Me", "Only You Can Love Me This Way", etc.) or fun up-tempo with an insistent beat ("Long Hot Summer", "Kiss a Girl", "Better Life", "Somebody Like You"). Also expect a lot of references to the sun/summer, radio, cars, and/or the phrase "yes, you did".
  • George Strait has a pretty straightforward, meat-and-potatoes style, with very changes in production style over a more than 30-year career (although his current producer, Tony Brown, didn't get on board until 1992). He can best be defined as the country everyman.
  • Session guitarist Brent Mason has a crisp and clean "chicken pickin'" style that can be found all over country music, particularly on Alan Jackson and George Strait albums.
  • Speaking of Alan Jackson, he has a similarly clean-cut style, but with a heavier twang and more emphasis on instrumentation. Especially in the 1990s, his songs had frequent trade-offs among piano, guitar, fiddle, and steel. Unlike Strait, he also writes the vast majority of his work, and usually takes a personal approach, with several songs about his life and family (e.g. "Small Town Southern Man").
  • Songwriter Casey Beathard tends to write everything in D major with an almost ridiculously limited melody. He also went from writing a lot of songs about drinking (e.g. "Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo" and "Drinkin' Bone" by Tracy Byrd, "The World Needs a Drink" by Terri Clark) to writing about being a father (e.g. "Ready, Set, Don't Go" by Billy Ray Cyrus, "Cleaning This Gun" and "He's Mine" by Rodney Atkins, "All I Ask For Anymore" and "Just Fishin'" by Trace Adkins, "I See Me" by Travis Tritt).
  • Producer Jay Joyce has several tricks that he employs on his country music work (Eric Church, Little Big Town). Among them are raw, uncompressed guitars; very strong rhythms with lots of loud snare drums and/or drum loops (the latter an extreme rarity in country); layered backing vocals; and all sorts of filters and reverb on the lead vocal track. He also likes adding little flourishes, like the harps on Church's "Homeboy" or mandolin/hi-strung guitar riffs on Little Big Town's "Pontoon". Yet another common trick of his is using low guitar tunings such as Drop C. Naturally, Joyce is also a guitarist.
  • Michael Knox is similarly heavy on the rock side of country production, only with a more straightforward and less flourish-laden approach than Joyce. In particular, Knox's style can be heard on Jason Aldean's material.
  • If you're listening to country and it's extremely brickwalled and tinny sounding, it was probably produced by Frank Liddell and/or Mike Wrucke. Miranda Lambert, David Nail, and the Eli Young Band are the main acts who suffer, although sometimes some genuinely good production slips through on their songs.
  • Dennis Linde has a noticeable songwriting style. His songs are often quirky character sketches (e.g. "Bubba Shot the Jukebox", "Goodbye Earl"), about being obsessively in love with someone ("Burning Love"), or both ("Queen of My Double Wide Trailer"). His other trademarks include a very steady beat and a tendency to break out of 4/4 time for a bar or two.
  • The Peach Pickers (Rhett Akins, Dallas Davisdon, Ben Hayslip) love writing summery, cheerful songs with very lightweight lyrics (e.g. Joe Nichols' "Gimmie That Girl", Rodney Atkins' "Farmer's Daughter", and Blake Shelton's "All About Tonight" and "Honey Bee").
  • Session steel guitarist John Hughey, heard on many country recordings in the 70s through 90s, had a high-toned, fluid style known as the "crying steel".
  • Pianist Floyd Cramer developed the "slip note" style of playing — i.e., "slipping" from an adjacent note to the right note — which is often used in country music to this day.
  • Steve Miller, at least by the late 1970s, was very fond of tight double-tracked lead vocals and spacy analog synth embellishments (though his music stayed in a catchy, blues-based guitar rock style).
  • Jeff Loomis is known for his exceptionally aggressive shred style that relies heavily on the diminished scale to create a very dark, menacing sound.
  • Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers. Big-voiced harmonies, chorus at the start of the song, just one verse, then the chorus a whole bunch of times again.
  • Taylor Swift: Acoustic but slick country-pop, often about a breakup or some other part of a relationship. ("We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" being a notable exception sonically.)
  • If it has nylon-string guitar throughout, and a heavy emphasis on instrumentation and four-part harmony, with a little bit of jam band, jazz, soft rock, country, and bluegrass all rolled into one, it's likely Zac Brown Band.
  • Drummer Bill Bruford of Yes and King Crimson is well known for drumming in a jazzy, yet very precise European style, and for his popping snare drum sound, achieved by hitting near he rim of the drum. He is also known for rarely drumming in a straight 4/4 beat, and for messing around with odd time signatures. His work with Simmons electronic drums in The Eighties is also distinctive.
    • King Crimson itself, in The Eighties, deliberately steered clear of using hi-hats or cymbals, so Bruford used long, high-pitched cylindrical drums known as octobans in place of cymbals. This (along with bassist Tony Levin's use of the Chapman Stick) contributed to the otherworldly rhythmic sound Crimson had in that decade.
  • If you're listening to a song that's unmistakably metal but has radio-friendly hooks, Latin percussion, an upbeat atmosphere, soaring melodies combined with distinct growls and Spanish vocals, it's almost certain that it's Ill Nino you're hearing.
  • Brad Paisley: Guitar solos with lots of clean, rapid-fire note runs. His songs are usually tongue-in-cheek humorous and sometimes even satirical ("Celebrity", "Ticks") or surprisingly introspective ("Letter to Me", "Welcome to the Future").
  • Kenny Chesney: Loves to sing about the Caribbean islands, and sometimes incorporates that influence. Often fond of soft, acoustic numbers with an introspective or escapist bent (e.g. "I'm Alive"). Even his up-tempos such as "Beer in Mexico" or "Pirate Flag" represent his desire to be alone with his thoughts on some island somewhere.
  • Robert John "Mutt" Lange is known for his heavy rock-styled production and immense use of overdubs. The style took on a country bent when he produced for now-ex-wife Shania Twain in the mid-late 90s and 2000s.
  • The bridges Leslie Fish writes are nearly always set to roughly the same tune as one verse plus the chorus, and are placed between the penultimate and last verse. She employs an acoustic guitar with an old-fashioned, piquant-intervalled vigor. She has a gruff, cowboyish voice. She loves space travel, civil libertarianism, and Kipling.
  • Heather Alexander has a heartbreakingly gorgeous alto voice, and is generally to be found singing about Celts, pageantry or both.
  • 80s country-pop with heavy four-part harmony, featuring a warbling tenor at one end and a Basso Profundo at the other? Must be The Oak Ridge Boys.
  • Queens of the Stone Age have truly made a name for themselves with their weird style. Odd tuning, weird timing on the vocals and bass, heavy amounts of fuzz, and unique drum fills.
  • Stock Aitken Waterman's production style: heavily synthesized, drum-heavy, very loud dancepop. If it sounds remotely like the Rickroll, it was probably them.

    Music Videos 
  • Michel Gondry has one hell of 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.
  • 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.

  • 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"; it should be noted that this is very much 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.

  • 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 Bonuss, 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 its 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. It's important to note that 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/ 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. Oh, and Nice Hats. 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 pretty much 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Freddie Pharkus, loading his games with risque humor, pop-culture references, and a little Comedic Sociopathy.
  • 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 Playingthe 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.

    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 the hell out of 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.
  • Last time I checked, 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
Short CircuitFunny/FilmCredits Roll
Signature SceneAdded Alliterative AppealSilent Scapegoat

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