There are two parallel definitions of a gimmick:
- A cheat; either a method of doing something that appears impossible, or some device used for cheating.
- A feature that distinguishes something (in this case, a character or series) from the competition (with strong connotations of not adding any functionality or value).
This is about that second, as applied to characters.
The power of sheer gimmickry, when properly used, cannot be underestimated; a properly executed gimmick can make a character truly memorable.
The true definition of a gimmick is if an Alternate Universe
equivalent (or a Captain Ersatz
) isn't "really" that character without the gimmick, then that's this.
Most common in Comic Books
and Professional Wrestling
, but can show up elsewhere. See also Idiosyncrazy
, for when a character's gimmick is driven by his insanity, rather than out of universe considerations.
- Batman's gimmick in the Justice League is either his detective skills, or his sheer intellect.
- Batman's Rogues Gallery is filled to the brim with these. To name some particularly famous cases:
- The Joker provides an example of how far you can go without going outside your Gimmick: outside of the Silver Age, he defines the human version of the Monster Clown. Within the Silver Age and Silver Age styled settings, he's merely a prankster Villainous Harlequin.
- The Riddler, in some versions, is actually an interesting case, in that his gimmick is also explicitly his motivation and downfall: His superiority and inferiority complexes are such that he has to leave clues, to prove that he's smarter then everybody else.
- Most Batman villains are like this to either a small extent (Catwoman is fond of going after Cat related valuables) or a huge extent (the Riddler as previously mentioned). Appropriately, Two-Face can't seem to decide whether his theme is opposites or the number two. Maybe he should just flip for it.
- Toyman is an excellent example of a character whose only real continuity between versions is his Gimmick.
- An example of a poorly implemented gimmick: Paste Pot Pete. (Pete later changed his name, because it was too silly, even for the Silver Age.)
- Spider-Man's gimmick, in universe, is his spider theme (less important) and sharp wit (more important); but out of series, his gimmick is One of Us: he's an average person who got hit with the superpower stick, and now has an extra set of responsibilities.
- Captain America's gimmick is Patriotism and embodying the American Fighting Spirit.
- Green Arrow has a whole Robin Hood and Bow And Arrow gimmick going.
- As well as his very outspoken left-wing political views, which, since the '70s, have been a defining character trait of his.
- The Flash's Rogues Gallery was full of gimmick themes with obvious names: Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, Rainbow Raider, The Top (In that he spun like one).
- The Punisher's willingness to kill and torture bad guys.
- Nero Wolfe was best known for solving cases while never leaving his house. His narrator, Archie Goodwin, did all of the relevant legwork; the combination of the the Hard Boiled-styled detective and the very Defective Great Detective was the gimmick of the series as a whole.
- Some commonly reoccurring gimmicks have pages on this wiki. They are not mutually exclusive to each other and many different variations of each are explained in more detail on each respective article.
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts, whose gimmick was being evil. And having a snake.
- However, he may end up being just as well known for his born-again Christian gimmick in the 90s, as it led to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin delivering his Austin 3:16 promo, and the Attitude Era at large.
- Prolific in the late '80s and early '90s WW
FE, when every character would be gimmicky. See Wrestling Doesn't Pay for examples.
- The leprechaun Hornswoggle's original gimmick was to be a projectile for the fighting Irishman Finley. After he got popular he became more of a prankster that lives under the WWE rings. And was the anonymous Raw GM who only spoke through a computer.
- Charles Wright went from a No Celebrities Were Harmed Charles Barkley, to Voodoo sorcerer, to ultimate fighter, to political revolutionary, to pimp, to moral guardian to pimp again.
- Brodus Clay's gimmick was based on his real life job as a body guard but then he became a giant dancing Disco Dan and the only living, breathing Funkasaurus in captivity.
- Daniel Bryan started off as a bland vanilla midget but then won one of the ladder matches at Money in the Bank, burnt his bridges and degraded into an insane Small Name, Big Ego who hates goats and the word yes.
- K-Kwik/Ron "The Truth" Killings was just a wrestling rapper but then was betrayed by John Morrison and became an insane conspiracy theorists who talks to people who are not really there and hates all you all little Jimmies. He also developed a fear of heights and spiders. He was also the bad toothed Pretty Ricky but most fans would rather forget that one.
- The Rock's gimmick was speaking in third person at all times and comically overselling.
- The Undertaker's gimmick has switched between being a grave digging zombie, the evil in hearts of all men, a wrestling biker, and the last outlaw. Through it all, the gimmick of being unbeatable at Wrestlemania has been his only constant.
- The One Man Gang's gimmick was squashing jobbers, then he reappeared from an over seas trip to get in touch with his Deepest Darkest African roots, becoming a pretty fly for a white guy Akeem the African dream.
- Albert was one half of Trish Status's T&A, then became the disgustingly hairy A-Train, then went to Japan where he became the star Giant Bernard then returned the the US in an Akeem like fashion as Lord Tensai. He then tagged with the Funkasaurus and became disco dan Sweet Tea.
- Black Magic started out as a simple mat technician, then became the Evil Foreigner Lord Henry Norman, the became the dance battler Norman Smiley, then went to being the cowardly screaming Norman who was forced into WCW's hardcore division and would dress in the home team uniforms of the cities he wrestled in.