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

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

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

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In their Girls With Guns works, Bee Train always has a female character that wears a pair of red shoes - which started with Kirika in Noir. Also, Kouichi Mashimo went to a Jesuit university, knows a lot about the Catholic Church, and likes to feature some of Aquinas's and Augustine's ideas in his shows. He also has a non-sexual love for any Action Girl (especially with a gun), being a fairly well-known feminist in Japan.
  • Masamune Shirow loves drawing sexy, scantily clad women, but that hardly sets him apart; what does is his obsessive attention to detail regarding near-future/sci-fi weaponry and machines.
  • If you couldn't tell from the series itself, Hiroyuki Imaishi, the director of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann said in an interview that he liked drills and wanted a show where they were the main character's weapon. This becomes either hilarious or creepy when you see his previous work, Dead Leaves, where one guy has a giant drill (that's drawn just like the ones in TTGL because he's also the character designer for both) for a penis.
  • Wataru Yoshizumi, the mangaka behind Marmalade Boy, Ultra Maniac, Mint na Bokura and many others likes her tennis. She tends to have at least one of her characters in each of her series be a member of their school tennis club.
  • Aside from uniforms and girls with hair decs, Hidekaz Himaruya loves bunnies.
  • Arina Tanemura really likes insane hair.
  • Shamelessly lampshaded by Ai Yazawa in her manga Neighborhood Story, about an arts high school populated by eccentric teens. "In the Yazawa High School students have an unspoken agreement to dress in the most outrageous way possible. Why? Principal Ai Yazawa just loves outlandish clothes!". Before becoming a mangaka, she wanted to be a fashion designer, and she's a hardcore fan of Vivienne Westwood. She also loves rock and punk music. It becomes glaringly obvious since all of her mangas feature fashion designers, massive amounts of different outfits, designs lifted from Westwood, aspiring musicians and punk rockers.
  • Bleach: Tite Kubo is a huge music geek. As a result, he gives many of his characters theme songs from a wide range of styles and nationalities. His chapter and volume titles can be a Call-Back to songs and he often finds a way to insert music into character conversations. During the Turn Back The Pendulum arc not only did he have Captain Shinji trying to convince Vice-Captain Aizen that jazz was a brilliant invention but he also created a little character sketch at the end of the relevant volume to tell the reader that jazz didn't actually exist during Shinji's era, coupled with a sketch of Shinji looking absolutely baffled at what he's listening to if jazz doesn't exist. Kubo is also a huge fashion fan and takes every opportunity to sketch his characters in many different fashion styles from Japanese garb to punk outfits, tracksuits, and boxing gear. Even here, he often finds a way to insert music.
  • Hirohiko Araki is a big music fan, particularly of western progressive rock. This can be seen in the naming conventions of characters from his masterwork, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, with characters sporting such names as Dio Brando, Robert Edward O. Speedwagon, Vanilla Ice, and so forth. He even had a prog-rock song used as the ending theme of the new anime series. He also tends to use the death of dogs to illustrate just how evil a new villain is. Contrary to popular belief, he does this because he absolutely loves dogs, and killing one makes the villain viler in his eyes. In fact, one of the first things to happen in Jojo's is Dio kicking Jonathan's dog, then later killing him.
  • The Wallflower author Tomoko Hayakawa practically admits in her author notes that she simply made a series full of stuff she likes: Bishōnen, J-rock performers, horror and gothic pop culture, and the Elegant Gothic Lolita style.
  • Tsutomu Nihei, author of Blame!!, has an obvious obsession with architecture, post-humanism, and cyborgs. The latter occasionally verges on fetish territory, and the former is something of a running joke amongst his fans.
  • Akira Toriyama has a thing for vehicles. Give the Dragon Ball manga a look through and count how many of the chapter cover pages not directly related to the storyline feature some kind of detailed vehicle. He outright admitted that the main character of his 1987 one-shot SONCHOH is the car and not the old man who drives it. This is also Lampshaded in an omake of his Doctor Slump manga, where Toriyama's editor calls him out for always drawing some sort of vehicle on the covers and asks him if the main character of the manga is a car. Theme Naming is another giveaway, particularly of the edible variety. If one or more characters in a given work are named after garments and/or food, even if the work in question is otherwise not meant to be tongue-in-cheek, there's a very good chance Toriyama had a hand in making it.
  • Ah! My Goddess scribe Kosuke Fujishima is a huge fan of exquisitely-detailed machinery, especially that surrounding vehicles, so it's no surprise that all his work features very in-depth discussion and imagery of the same.
  • Eiichiro Oda of One Piece fame very clearly loves afros. Not only do several major One Piece characters sport afros, but the story draws attention or uses the afro for comedy in almost every case:
    • Gaimon, who is mistaken for a shrub;
    • Kuromarimo, who has one afro on his head and three in his beard, fights with afro-shaped balls of hair;
    • Fleet Admiral Sengoku, despite being The Comically Serious;
    • Luffy wears an afro wig during his fight with Foxy, and everyone except Nami insists that the afro makes him stronger.
    • Strawhat pirate Brook, who is a skeleton, still retains his afro because he has deep roots, and has great emotional attachment to the hair because it will allow his old friend Laboon to recognize him even though he is a skeleton;
    • Emporio Ivankov, who can carry his right-hand man in his afro;
    • Wild Takes and silly expressions, in general, are another favourite, even if the situation in the story is serious.
  • Kozue Amano, the creator of ARIA and Amanchu! clearly has a thing for Scenery Porn.
  • Kaoru Mori
    • She is an Anglophile. It definitely shows in the immense attention to the details of upstairs-downstairs dynamics, costume details, and setting of Emma: A Victorian Romance.
    • She highlighted in her latest work A Bride's Story that she is also fascinated by Central Asian costumes and settings. All her female and male characters have exquisitely detailed embroidered clothes.
  • Works by Studio TRIGGER prominently feature four-pointed stars: the stars on Goku Uniforms in Kill la Kill, the seven stars of the Shiny Rod in Little Witch Academia, the scars in Kiznaiver, and much, much more.
  • Kunihiko Ikuhara, most well-known for Revolutionary Girl Utena, has a very distinct style that repeats through every work he has directed - brightly coloured Stock Footage, surreal animal-based slapstick, queer themes, focus on family relationships (sometimes delving into incest), and a whole ton of Mind Screw.


    Comic Books 
  • Caricaturist Al Hirschfeld was known for hiding the word Nina (his daughter's name) within the elaborate cross-hatching of his cartoons. A number next to his signature indicated the number of hidden Ninas.
  • Keno Don Rosa
    • He put the acronym D.U.C.K. into the first page of all of his comics, as a homage to his favorite Carl Barks ("Dedicated to Uncle Carl from Keno").
    • Furthermore, he is a recognized Scrooge/Goldie shipper.
  • The late comic book writer Mark Gruenwald apparently loved his home state Wisconsin. In Captain America, he made the villain Sidewinder a Wisconsinite, while his hero Quasar also hailed from "America's Dairyland". His love for Wisconsin really showed in D.P.7., as most of the early issues were set there, and many of the characters were from Wisconsin.
  • Likewise, Brian Michael Bendis really seems to like his hometown of Cleveland and has set many of his stories there.
  • Paul Dini is a gigantic zoology buff, which accounts for a great deal of the animal references he tends to make in his scripts. Examples from Batman: The Animated Series include the inclusion of the extremely obscure cassowary in "Almost Got 'Im", the conversation between two of Ra's al Ghul's mooks about how crocodiles kill their prey in "Out of the Past", and the fact that Dini got Bruce Timm a STUFFED PIRANHA as drawing reference for "Mad Love".
  • Rob Liefeld and his obsession with pouches. This was originally justified, as the characters in question used things like machine guns in combat and needed plenty of ammo (that's what the pouches were for). He has since leaned into this, by creating a singular drawing of a character simply called "The Pouch".
  • The Flash's John Broome seemed to have some sort of fixation with second-floor burglaries. It has been suggested that maybe he was burgled while living on the second floor and developed it because of that.
  • John Callahan has at least two cartoons with quadriplegic protagonists. It's likely because the man himself is also quadriplegic.
  • Anything Geoff Johns writes frequently involves a character receiving an injury to their hand or arm.
  • Bill Amend of FoxTrot really loves his math/computer/geek humor. (He was a physics major.)
  • Neil Gaiman of The Sandman (1989) fame likes mythology, cats, and gothic imagery and/or clothes. And expect stories within stories within stories, and the story will be talking about other stories.
  • Mike Mignola has said in interviews that he created Hellboy because he loves drawing weird monsters, big gorillas, and mad-science devices and wanted an excuse to get paid for it. All those elements showed up at one time or another in his earlier work for Marvel and DC.
  • Doug TenNapel's comics usually have a cat. Even when they aren't main characters or even important to the plot, there's usually at least one scene that prominently features one if not several. Also, big, freaky monsters make appearances often, even when there's no reason for them.
  • Legendary comic book artist George Perez
    • He has a non-sexual fetish of redesigning characters' costumes to be much more detailed than the average artist is willing to draw. It gets sexual because whenever he draws Wanda Maximoff, AKA the Scarlet Witch (whom he has singled out as his favorite character to draw), he draws her in this costume, which references her Roma heritage. Furthermore, this outfit is designed to indicate that Wanda does not wear panties (the two sections of fabric over her hips are connected by gold loops that rest over bare skin). When asked to provide Word of God information that nobody else could give, Perez stated that Wanda prefers to go commando and dared readers to find an instance in which she is proven to be wearing underwear. He even found other ways to subtly convey this sexual trivia - such as showing her wearing a very long t-shirt to bed. It is worth noting that no other artist draws this costume if they can avoid it, although that is likely because of the prohibitive level of detail rather than the designer's fetish appeal.
    • Perez just has a fetish for costume design in general. His second-favorite Marvel girl to play with is the Wasp because he can design any-and-as-many costumes as he damn well pleases for her with no one batting an eye about it. Hilariously enough, though, even with the dozens of outfits he's given her, none of the rare Stripperific costumes she's had were of his design. Not that he couldn't. His design for The New Teen Titans ' Starfire
    • This continued into his Wonder Woman run where he had Diana wear a variety of outfits beyond her famous Leotard of Power, such as an armorered hoplite look and a tank-top and shorts look she wore when on Themyscira.
  • D'Israeli's artwork always includes the word 'fishpaste' somewhere, usually as graffiti.
  • Bill Watterson cites Charles Schulz as one of his main creative influences, and it shows in his art style. A few of the stylistic twists Schulz used in his strip, such as profile shots of characters that show only their eyes and nose but not their mouths, or the use of the word "AUGH" when uttering a cry of surprise or dismay, were adopted by Watterson and later used in Calvin and Hobbes.
  • Stan Lee and his fondness for alliterative names - Peter Parker, Reed Richards, J. Jonah Jameson, Susan Storm, Bruce Banner... He's explained that alliterative names were just easier to remember since he was writing tons of books and creating new characters all the time. A recurring trope that happened several times in every series Lee wrote were stories about an Identity Impersonator, ranging from iconic stories about slander campaigns by Mysterio and invasions by the Skrulls, as well as some less beloved copycats.
  • Garth Ennis has a fondness for Irish and British characters, especially working-class ones. He's also a massive World War II buff, so references to WWII tend to drift into his work (when the comic isn't outright about the Second World War).
  • Scott Snyder has a penchant for starting every story with—as comics journalist David Brothers says it—the main character relating “[Aged male mentor figure] used to say [anecdote relevant to the plot].”
  • Bill Finger, the unsung early writer of the Batman comics, loved doing stories around giant-sized but functional versions of props like typewriters, cigarette lights, and similar displays.
  • Mark Waid loves to take formerly dark or unhappy characters and brighten their outlook (and the tone of their stories). In general, he favors more positive storytelling and will often address this directly in his plotlines. Examples include The Flash and Daredevil both learning to stop worrying and love being superheroes, and Waid's Kingdom Come dealing directly with the conflict between light and dark styles of superheroes.
  • John Byrne likes to use the license plate GNU 556 in various vehicles (including a zeppelin) in different stories. According to him, it's a tribute to a song by British musical comedy duo Flanders and Swann.note  He also likes to draw himself in some stories as he did on Fantastic Four, Star Brand and She-Hulk (this time, combining with her Medium Awareness and Breaking the Fourth Wall). He is also fond of depicting the Neck Lift, to the point that some comics fans refer to it as "the Byrne Hold".
  • Frank Miller
    • Frank loves Ancient Greece, particularly the Battle of Thermopylae. References to the battle pop up all over his oeuvre, even outside of the obvious place: the climax of Sin City: The Big Fat Kill features an ambush in a city alleyway that's directly compared to Thermopylae, and The Dark Knight Returns includes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to a porn star called "Hot Gates" (the literal English translation of "Thermopylae"). Not to mention that he's the creator of Elektra, a Greek-American ninja named after a heroine from Greek tragedy. And he put a sleazy photographer named "Agamemnon" in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. And his film adaptation of The Spirit features the Blood of Heracles as a Macguffin, and an army of cloned thugs with Ancient Greek names.
    • If you give him half a chance, Miller will find an excuse to fit ninja and samurai into a comic book. In addition to being the author of Ronin (1983), he created "The Hand" for Marvel, sent Wolverine to Japan, gave Daredevil and Elektra ninja training, and put a shuriken-throwing female ninja into the middle of urban America in Sin City.
  • Just like Masamune Shirow, Steven A Gallacci, the creator of Albedo: Erma Felna EDF tends to include beautiful girls and lots of technical data about the military, guns, machines, or anything geeky. Unlike Shirow, Gallacci justifies this because he was a member of the USAF and a Vietnam War veteran.
  • Nell Brinkley's early serials like "Golden Eyes" and Her Hero "Bill", The Fortunes of Flossie, and The Adventures of Prudence Prim all featured curly-haired blondes with wide eyes and spindly limbs, plenty of Costume Porn and billowing fabric, and love interests with dark, slicked-back hair.
  • Brian K. Vaughan really likes to share obscure trivia about whatever topic is being discussed. It's particularly easy to notice in Ex Machina, where virtually every character is (sometimes inexplicably) knowledgeable about the intricacies of state- and city-level government and the history of New York.
  • Most of Warren Ellis's characters are struggling with and/or defined by their various addictions: cigarettes, coffee, alcohol, reckless behavior, etc. He also loves protagonists who began as idealists, and by the time the story starts, have become embittered and cynical by life.
  • Jeremy Whitley (The Unstoppable Wasp, Princeless) is married to a black woman and has two daughters with her. Much of his creative output is a deliberate attempt to create books and stories for his daughters to read; as such, Whitley is virtually guaranteed to introduce at least one dynamic, confident female black character in everything he writes.
  • Greg Pak has created or reintroduced at least one Asian-American character in almost everything he's ever written at Marvel.
  • Alan Moore is famous for his fascination with the Apocalypse. Many of his stories are about characters attempting to bring about the End of the World, but his stories also frequently explore the idea that "The End of the World" might just be the beginning of a new age (for good or for ill). To name a few notable examples:
    • Watchmen is set in an alternate version of 1980s America where an apocalyptic nuclear war is seemingly on the horizon, the climax involves a (fake) alien invasion that's compared to the End Times, one of the main characters regularly waves around a sign that reads "The End is Nigh!", and it ends with the characters facing an uncertain future after the Cold War comes to an abrupt and unexpected end.
    • V for Vendetta is about a fascist dictatorship that rules Britain in the aftermath of a nuclear war that leaves the rest of civilization in ruins, and the protagonist is an anarchist terrorist who dreams of a new age without laws or governments. It ends with V successfully overthrowing the British government, but leaves it ambiguous whether the next regime will be better or worse than the last.
    • From Hell portrays Jack the Ripper as a mad occultist who views his murders as a magic ritual that will bring about a bold new age in human history. The ending implies that it actually worked, and that his "new age" was actually the 20th century.
    • The later volumes of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen involve an occult sect attempting to bring about "a strange and terrible new aeon" by summoning an entity known as "The Moonchild", who's presented as a composite of various Antichrist-like characters from classic literature and film (and Harry Potter). The series finale ultimately depicts the end of the world, which is presented as a composite of various fictional apocalypses.
    • In Promethea, the titular divine entity is prophesied to bring about the end of the world, but the final issue reveals that this isn't such a bad thing—because the "apocalypse" is purely metaphorical, and it just involves merging the material and immaterial worlds. In the end, Promethea succeeds in fulfilling the prophecy, bringing about a new utopian age.
  • William Moulton Marston - One word: Bondage.. Joye Hummell, Marston's assistant and eventually ghost writer on many early Wonder Woman comics said you could tell which stories were hers by the ones that featured less bondage.
  • E.P. Jacobs, creator of Blake and Mortimer, included in every story he wrote characters spending some time underground, be it a subterranean military base, Egyptian tomb, sewers, or an entire civilisation hidden in a complex of gigantic caves.

  • Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac) gives frequent homages to Alien, The Fly (both the original and David Cronenberg's version), Scanners, and video games in his comics/TV shows. He's also a fan of giant robots, space in general, horrifying imagery, Body Horror, and certain words, most notably: doom, cheese, piggies, tacos, monkeys, moose, noodles, dooky, nachos, and bunnies. He even stated at ComicCon '07 that he's fascinated with plotlines of people who are "controlled and used" by others (Johnny and the Doughboys, Devi and Sickness) and that he also hates dogs and little kids (sans Squee).
  • Nick Cave loves flowers, violence, horror, poetry, and religious debate. He also enjoys portraying the Deep South, although it would be a stretch to say that he loved it.
  • Glenn Danzig enjoys singing about death, Satan, and demons.
  • Mamoru Oshii really likes Basset Hounds. He also has a thing for tanks in the rain.
  • Toby Fox has used various arrangements of his song "Megalovania" for The Halloween Hack, Homestuck, and Undertale.
  • Rick Griffin loves kangaroos. His fursona is a kangaroo, A&H Club features a kangaroo main character, Housepets! features a pair of kangaroos as Those Two Guys, and several of his other works feature them in supporting roles.
  • Scott Fellows' Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide and Supernoobs both have a girl in the main cast who mostly goes by her last name and whose first name is Jennifer; Moze and Shope, respectively.

    Fan Works 
  • Blackout77's various Mario World hacks often have the following:
    • Forced Game Genie usage (DDC1-64DD and DDC5-6DAD seem to be the codes Blackout likes the most)
    • Ridiculous Kaizo Traps
    • Glitched custom music
    • An unedited overworld
    • Plagiarizing other hacks
    • Pokemon creepypastas
  • How can you spot a Kalash93 story? Firstly, he loves his Gun Porn, especially Kalashnikov rifles and other Soviet weapons. Expect to see stuff about mercenaries, paramilitaries, guerillas, militias, and positive depictions of civilian gun ownership. Secondly, Gratuitous Foreign Language, especially Russian, because he is a Russian Language major in Real Life, but he's also studied Latin and German. Russian cultural and military references abound in his war stories, with many of his characters wearing a telnyashka. The guy adores his booze, particularly rye whiskey. And he's written a few stories that involve prostitution, as well as male virginity.
  • ThatPersonYouMightKnow floods his stories with Shout Outs, ranging from easy spots such as Aladdin to bizarre 80s game shows like Interceptor.
  • Dahne, the author of Stray, loaded the story with Shout Outs, and seems to have a particular interest in Neon Genesis Evangelion (justifiable in-story, as one of the protagonists is a mecha anime Otaku), Planescape: Torment (which provides the Arc Words), and Norse Mythology.
  • Ri2's most well-known fics are Darker and Edgier continuations of works like Kingdom Hearts or Pokemon that tend to Go Cosmic near the end. Also, a character named "Mewgle" that tends to show up for a cameo appearance or some sort of sub-plot.
  • Holmes!angst and Holmes!torture are something of a Motif in Children of Time, a series by Aleine Skyfire and Riandra, whose Sherlockian novels (Mortality and A Study in Regret, respectively) deal very heavily with these subjects.
  • With the exception of short vignettes (and not always then), stories by the Total Drama fanfic writer, Gideoncrawle include at least one reference to a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. His pen name is also a G&S reference.
  • Iron117Prime's crossovers are usually epic in scale, and will often diverge from the canonical work of both franchises. But it's consistent Eviler than Thou moments that put him on the map: there can only be one dominant villain faction in the story and the other will succumb to a rather gruesome end.
  • Nimbus Llewelyn has a few.
    • Everyone will be sarcastic. Literally, everyone.
    • The female protagonists will all be badass (though not necessarily physically), and the main character, if male, will usually be an Amazon Chaser.
    • He has a penchant for lots and lots of references to The Princess Bride. Shout Outs generally abound, most particularly either to Marvel Comics or to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, depending on what fandom the story is written in.
    • Minor characters, especially villains, will be retooled, made exponentially more dangerous, and sent shooting over the Moral Event Horizon.
    • It will also look at what happens if you break a powerful hero and let them loose on the world.
    • Either it's a hero or a villain expect them to be The Chessmaster in some form.
    • He likes characters to be more in the morally grey area. You'd have even the most heroic characters more willing to do whatever they need to do to ensure a threat is eliminated - though there are some exceptions, like Superman, and they are not criticised for their scruples in this regard (indeed, they're admired all the more for trying to be better than an imperfect world).
  • Fanfics written by E350tb can usually be identified by their accurate historical references, references to (and occasional pot-shots towards) his home continent Australia, usage of Nazis as villains of varying competency, or multiple of the above.
  • How do you know a fanfic is written by Green Phantom Queen? If it's not filled with horror references, look out for the secondary female characters gaining the spotlight, and the prominent focus on females in general, the pointing out on Double Standard, and the glorious Food Porn.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hayao Miyazaki
    • All of his films have at least one scene depicting characters at great heights or on the edges of precipitous drops: most of his films also feature at least one of Those Magnificent Flying Machines. Many of his films feature flight as a prominent theme. There are also pigs, and characters that get so angry their hair levitates.
    • Around half of his stories also tend to have some sort of pacifism or anti-war theme, either directly or indirectly, in them.
    • Many of his works also include monsters made out of black goo.
  • As an homage to Al Hirschfeld, artists working on the "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Fantasia 2000 (which was inspired by Hirschfeld's drawings) added their names within the backgrounds as Freeze-Frame Bonus. They even throw in a couple of Ninas for good measure.
  • Wes Anderson:
    • He likes to use intentionally dated objects and technology. Even in stories set 20 Minutes into the Future like Isle of Dogs, the technology may look outdated to the point of Zeerust. This gives his films an air of nostalgia and a sense of timelessness.
    • Many shots will be symmetrically framed, with the main character in the scene standing dead center, often looking directly at the camera.
  • Marcell Jankovics:
    • Metaphoric Metamorphosis, transforming characters, places, symbols and colors in and out of each other. It was an assignment to create such a scene for an airline commercial that made him fall in love with animation. Most of his characters change visually in some way.
    • Symbolism. Everything, even the tiniest background details, compositions, character design elements have to mean something. In Jankovics works, symbolism and thematic allegory always trump narrative and his "characters" are treated more as symbols. He wanted to make viewers think rather than entertain them.
    • Deliberate rejection of Disneyesque art styles to strive for a more "European" feel, with looser forms and exaggerated expressions.
    • Old traditions, folk art, tales based on classical literature and ancient legends and religions.
    • Mature subjects and imagery (mainly nudity, lots of uncensored breasts, genitals, allusions to sex and gore), often incorporating them into his metamorphosis. Expect to see some even if the work is aimed at kids.
    • To a lesser extent, most of his work contained some form of blatant Hungarian nationalism, social satire and conservative ideas.
  • Of Disney's Nine Old Men, Milt Kahl was very well-known for his "head swaggle", where characters would lightly shake or tilt their heads while talking. As lip syncing to this was extremely difficult to do and Kahl was one of the only people capable of it, he would insert it as often as he could.

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

    Live-Action TV 

  • John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants appears to enjoy writing about cranial trauma, while John Linnell likes personifying inanimate made
  • Late rapper DMX was known for his love for dogs, which makes its way into many of his songs. His fifth album, Grand Champ, took it a bit further and stated that they can't just be any dogs, but pit bulls.
  • Trent Reznor likes pigs. A lot.
  • Mozart seemed to really like writing parts for basses and sopranos, as evidenced by many of his most famous characters, such as Figaro, Sarastro, Osmin, Leporello, the Queen of the Night, Constanze, and Zerlina. He also liked Toilet Humour.
  • Almost every song recorded by Modern Talking has a chorus sung in two ways: in an unison way, mostly without harmony, but with different octaves, and after that in a more high pitched way, with harmonies.
  • Pink Floyd's Roger Waters:
    • His father, a pacifist, was killed in World War II in 1944 in Anzio, Italy. This proved to be a pivotal event in Roger's life. As a result, themes of war, politics, miscommunication, isolation, and mortality often occur in his work in Pink Floyd and as a solo artist, especially starting with The Wall.
    • Other common Pink Floyd/Waters themes include madness, the music industry, and the dangers of recreational drugs, all of which played a part in the breakdown of founder Syd Barrett and reoccurred after the band's success in The '70s. The Wall and especially Pros and Cons note , along with many of his works at least before them (if not since) explore relationships and faithfulness, a subject he was familiar with. His marriage to his first wife Judy Trim fell apart by the mid-1970s, particularly as Pink Floyd became more successful, and the relationships and marriages other Pink Floyd members were also falling apart around him.
  • David Bowie loved writing and singing about apocalypses, dystopias, and space-themed science fiction. The latter shows up so often in his work that it became the basis for an article in The Onion, "NASA Launches David Bowie Concept Mission".
  • Olivier Messiaen was a lifelong birdwatcher and traveled around the world to learn bird calls he could incorporate into his compositions.
  • Anton Bruckner had a specific rhythmic pattern that he used in many of his works, of two equal-length notes followed by a triplet of that note, and vice versa, i.e. 2 + 3 or 3 + 2. The most prevalent examples are the opening theme of Symphony No. 4 in E♭ major and Symphony No. 6 in A major, where it is used in the first movement to a much greater extent than anything he composed before.
  • Leonard Bernstein apparently had a passion for ferocious percussion assaults, as demonstrated in the opening scene of On the Waterfront, the Credo of Mass (which at its climax has the percussionists "ad lib. hitting everything in sight"), and the prologue of A Quiet Place; this may also explain why West Side Story, whose original production got by with just two percussionists, has as many as five drum parts at once in the published full score. Bernstein also liked transferring rhythmic motifs to relatively pitched drums, as in "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs," the prologue of West Side Story, several sections of Mass and the first movement of "Divertimento for Orchestra" (which calls for snare drums in four pitches).
  • With the exception of her first album, every single one of Shiina Ringo's official albums' track listings is symmetrical (excluding bonus tracks). She also frequently deliberately gives her albums meaningful running times; for example, Karuki Samen Kuri no Kana runs for 44 minutes and 44.4 seconds, in conjunction with the album's Four Is Death theme.
  • David Byrne, both in his work with Talking Heads and in his solo music, is interested in the effects of mass media on consumers, and in the fluid nature of identity. Characters in his songs will consume a lot of fiction (particularly by watching TV), or they'll be unsure who they really are—or they'll be unsure who they are because they constructed their own personality from all the TV they watched.
    • A large number of L.E.D.'s songs have English titles in "(adjective) (noun)" format with all uppercase letters, such as "BLUE STRAGGLER", "THE BLACK KNIGHT", "STELLAR WIND", and "THE DEEP STRIKER".
    • Ryu☆, when composing under his Seiryuu alias, always makes his songs run at 191 BPM.
  • Bathory had the Instrumental track, "The Winds of Mayhem", serving as the Every Episode Ending for their early albums. While it went missing for a while, it reappeared in Nordland II likely intended as a Call-Back, although considering that this was the last Bathory album due to Quorthon's death, it serves as a fitting Book Ends track to his career.
  • Pharrell Williams opens any track he produces with the first beat repeated four times.
  • Richard Wagner's later music dramas exploit the dissonance and tonal ambiguity of the half-diminished seventh chord so much that the chord is known in some circles as the "Wagner seventh" or "Tristan chord."
  • Downplayed with CG5. While it's not every song, he has written multiple unrelated songs in the key of C Sharp Minor. Examples include "Let Me Through," "Phantom Dancing," "Every Door," and "A Man Has Fallen Into the River in LEGO City." He also did a cover of "Infinite," which is in the same key.
  • Voltaire writes many of his songs in the key of D Minor. Examples include "When You're Evil," "BRAINS!," "Goodnight, Demon Slayer," "Don't Go By the River," "Headless Waltz," "Beast of Pirate's Bay," and "Land of the Dead." The last two share similar melodies.
  • Giorgio Moroder likes giving songs a Slow-Paced Beginning before bringing in the drums and kicking up the tempo 40 seconds to a minute in. He's also fond of Fading into the Next Song.
  • Zedd frequently uses the sounds of ticking clocks in tracks that he produced, such as Alessia Cara's "Stay", Maren Morris' "The Middle", Shawn Mendes' "Lost in Japan" and Katy Perry's "Never Really Over" and "365".
  • Warren Zevon had a liking for inserting a name into the lyrics to rhyme off of or to keep the beat. One of the more famous is "You better stay away from him/He'll rip your lungs out, Jim" from "Werewolves of London".

  • Greg Kmiec always includes a solid red post on his playfields. The tradition started in The '70s, when Bally refused to identify their designers for fear of competitors poaching their talent. Kmiec included a single plastic red post (at the time reserved for bingo games) as a way around the edict.
  • Pat Lawlor
    • His pinball games almost always include some reference to "The Power", either as part of in-game dialogue or as an actual playfield element.
    • He also often has an illustration of a person holding a joystick with a red fire button.


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


    Tabletop Games 
  • Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons.
    • Mushrooms
      • Gary created a variety of fungoid monsters for the game: ascomoid, basidirond, phycomid, shrieker, ustilagor, violet fungi, Zuggtmoy the demoness lady of fungi, etc.
      • Many of Gary's early Dungeons & Dragons adventures have Magic Mushrooms and Fungus Humongous, including D3 Vault of the Drow, EX1 Dungeonland, S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil. Module D1 Descent into the Depths of the Earth had underground fields of normal mushrooms.
    • Shades of the color purple (violet, amethyst, heliotrope, lavender, lilac, magenta, mauve, plum, puce, etc.)
      • They appear repeatedly in many of Gary's Dungeons & Dragons modules: B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King, D3 Vault of the Drow, EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, S1 Tomb of Horrors, T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil, WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure and WG6 Isle of the Ape.
      • Dungeons & Dragons monsters he created that are associated with purple: azer (love purple gems), bar-igura demons (can change their color to purple), crysmals (can be deep violet-colored), drow (violet eyes), forester's bane plant (stalks are purple), mind flayer/illithid (mauve skin), ogres (purple eyes), phoenix (plumage, beaks and claws are partially violet), purple worm, retch plants (globes can be violet or lilac), shade (eyes can have a purple iris and pupil), storm giant (could have violet skin and purple eyes), twilight bloom (purple flowers), violet fungi, Wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing plant (eyes can be violet).
    • Gygax made a number of Lovecraftian references in Dungeons & Dragons, as evidenced by such creatures as the Kuo-Toa (inspired by Lovecraft's Deep Ones), the Aboleth (inspired by some sort of Great Old One), the Illithids (which are a race of Cthulhus without the bat wings), the Elder Elemental God (shown in G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King as being shaped like a Chthonian) and certain elements of terror in the temple of the Eldritch Abomination gods. He outright acknowledged H. P. Lovecraft as an important influence on D&D. Gygax needed a lot of content to make the game work, so he drew from a very large number of sources. He didn't quite make D&D into an All Myths Are True setting, but he came pretty close.
    • His fantastically large and baroque vocabulary, which might have had an element of showing off. Such as "quaff", "dweomer", "draught", "chapeau", "billet", etc. He regularly used certain phrases such as "Of course", "Let us say" and "So to speak" as well.
    • Polearms. Gygax included a large number of polearms in the weapon selection of the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules and wrote an article called "The Nomenclature of Polearms" that appeared in Dragon magazine #22 and the 1st Edition AD&D supplement "Unearthed Arcana". Ever want to know why the glaive-guisarme seems to crop up in D&D so much?
  • Former Wizards of the Coast employee Monte Cook, creator of the game's 3rd Edition and a strong hand in creating 5th Edition too. Monte really, really believed in Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards and went to great lengths to enforce it in all the wrong ways. For years, martial classes were either built on poorly conceived rules (3E Monks), ridiculously generic and boring to play (3E Fighters), or just straight-up sucked (3.5E Samurai). Caster classes, on the other hand, enjoyed highly overpowered spell lists granting them an unprecedented breadth of ability plus new-fangled metamagic feats to back them up; by mid-level, a lone, half-competently played Druid or Cleric was probably equal to three well-played martial PCs of the same level. And don't get us started on Wizards, the preferred class of Monte and people who hated losing in 3.5E, utterly dominant at all levels and pillars of play (except being perhaps a tad weak at 1st level).
  • James Jacobs, one of the major contributors to Pathfinder, really likes dinosaurs. In general, the Paizo creative team seems to like dinosaurs; Lovecraftian abominations; horror, pulp adventure, and sci-fi elements; and putting the iconic characters in elaborate outfits.
  • White Wolf, the writers of Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game, made it very obvious they preferred Humans, Elves, and Dwarves over the other races (especially the Trolls and the entirely absent Draenei) in the series. Even in the Horde Player's guide, they'd go on about elves, dwarves, and humans.
  • David Pulver, best known as a setting writer for GURPS, has stated that many GURPS players will always want to play a Cat Girl, regardless of the setting. So in every setting he makes, there will be an option for a Cat Girl of some kind.

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

    Web Animation 
  • There's an unclickable "Joy of Painting" toon on Homestar Runner that shows Marzipan dressed as Bob Ross painting a picture of a mountain landscape. Matt and Mike Chapman, creators of Homestar Runner, admitted that they only did this because they thought showing Granola Girl Marzipan with a beard would be funny. A lot of the stuff at Homestar Runner is based on the creators' childhood. Note the frequent appearance of breakfast cereals and Merchandise-Driven Saturday morning cartoons, the sibling rivalry between Strong Bad and his brother Strong Sad, the characters' Vague Age, and in-universe Nightmare Fuel.
  • STBlackST loves filling his videos with Funny Background Events, Sudden Video Game Moments, and Jojo references.

  • Erika's New Perfume contains certain things that pop up in most of the author's other works, such as Fountain of Youth.
  • Penny Arcade
    • It is all about things the authors like, but also seems to feature a lot of terrifying aliens and strange creatures for little reason.
    • Jerry Holkins (Tycho) is a massive Cthulhu nerd. Really, what else can you expect from a mind that writes things like this?
  • Living with Insanity: The writer's projects all have couples in them. According to the blog posts, LWI would include more gaming and comic references, but the artist avoids jokes he doesn't understand.
  • Andrew Hussie likes including horses, or horselike creatures such as centaurs, in his work, more often than not exaggerated in musculature (they also paid good money for a picture of a flaming stallion facing a football player, and used to do ironic reviews of muscular horse porn). When questioned about this, they responded that "horses are funny". They also seem to be very fond of hip-hop/rap and the culture surrounding it, perhaps best exemplified with And It Don't Stop.
  • Several works written by Mary Cagle feature the loss of limbs as a dramatic device, either in a character's backstory or as part of a significant plot development, and usually followed by the characters gaining some form of Artificial Limbs. Just for example, main character Steffi of Kiwi Blitz has a prosthetic leg, her recurring nemesis Gear has had most of the left side of her body replaced with cybernetics, and the side character Reed has his right arm cut off during an encounter with Gear, after which he eventually gets a bionic replacement. Meanwhile, in Sleepless Domain, Mingxing lost an arm protecting the infant Kokoro from a monster attack, and now wears a magitech prosthesis in the present day. Cagle herself at one point commented on the prevalence of "good ol' classic arm damage" in her work:
  • Many themes and tropes in We Are The Wyrecats are carried over from the creator's previous webcomic, Ruby Nation, such as Animal Motifs, deconstruction of the superhero genre, Idealism vs. Cynicism, characters with disabilities, and cats.
  • Freefall has this in-universe with the sapient AIs, who have a distinct tendency to be as proudly nerdy as the scientists who produced their neural networks.
    Florence: What were you expecting from minds designed by engineers?
  • Jocelyn Samara's comics are heavily inspired by manga and anime, even adopting an art style akin to '90s manga. She is also quite fond of having a mainly queer cast as the central characters, as seen in Rain and My Impossible Soulmate.

    Web Original 
  • How else do you explain the contortion scenes in Sapphire Episode III?
  • The stories by SD40kanote  often enough star a male computer programmer, who marries/is married to a genius woman, and either or both of them recently served America proudly in Iraq thank-you-very-much. The characters are always staunch political conservatives, often actively reshaping the fictional universe into a Republican Paradise. He plugs that his (genius!) characters love the Cato Institute and, just in passing. There's even the occasional Easy Evangelism of a merely misguided (rather than Evil) liberal. And everyone accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, without whom there was a great big hole in their hearts. In fact, it's a lot like the Chick Tracts, only with lots of monogamous sex with big penises.
  • They're best known for their Goth aesthetic, but Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab also really likes creating perfume inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft (and Lovecraft Lite) and pirates.

    Web Videos 
  • Doug Walker really has a thing for broken, insane jerks who'll never get what they want but they'll keep on trying. The Nostalgia Critic is a perfect example of this, and Ask That Guy with the Glasses is getting there (as a more depraved version) with the amount of Sanity Slippage he's been put through. You also notice that much of the comedy he enjoys (ranging from Daffy Duck to Blackadder) is based on this. Doug has repeatedly stated that, in his viewpoint, all good comedy is based on suffering.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Creator Insignia, Director Trademark


Spielberg's Ominous Spotlights

A recurring trend in Steven Spielberg's filmography is the use of light as foreboding or ominous in some manner.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CreatorThumbprint

Media sources: