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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 Iconic Logo trademarks, such as Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette or Walt Disney's signature. If the Thumbprint is something the author likes, then it's Author Appeal.



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    Anime and 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.
  • Keiichi Sigsawa, author of Kino's Journey and Allison & Lillia, goes out of his way to profile in entirely unnecessary detail every weapon and vehicle that comes up, regardless of whether it is important to the plot. And as if that weren't enough, even his pen name is based on a gun brand.
  • Shirow Masamune loves drawing sexy, scantily clad women, but that hardly sets him apart; what does is his obsessive attention to detail regarding near-future/sci-fi weaponry and machines.
  • If you couldn't tell from the series itself, Hiroyuki Imaishi, the director of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann said in an interview that he liked drills and wanted a show where they were the main character's weapon. This becomes either hilarious or creepy when you see his previous work, Dead Leaves, where one guy has a giant drill (that's drawn just like the ones in TTGL because he's also the character designer for both) for a penis.
  • Most of the ridiculously hard to understand math and physics found around Haruhi Suzumiya (including an important in one of the later novels that is even illustrated) stem from Nagaru Tanigawa (the author of the novels) being a math/physics buff. See Alice in Wonderland for something similar.
  • 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 Gokinjo Monogatari, about an arts high school populated by eccentric teens. "In the Yazawa High School students have an unspoken agreement to dress in the most outrageous way possible. Why? Principal Ai Yazawa just loves outlandish clothes!". Before becoming a mangaka, she wanted to be a fashion designer, and she's a hardcore fan of Vivienne Westwood. She also loves rock and punk music. It becomes glaringly obvious since all of her mangas feature fashion designers, massive amounts of different outfits, designs lifted from Westwood, aspiring musicians and punk rockers.
  • Bleach: Tite Kubo is a huge music geek. As a result, he gives many of his characters theme songs from a wide range of styles and nationalities. His chapter and volume titles can be a Call-Back to songs and he often finds a way to insert music into character conversations. During the Turn Back The Pendulum arc not only did he have Captain Shinji trying to convince Vice-Captain Aizen that jazz was a brilliant invention but he also created a little character sketch at the end of the relevant volume to tell the reader that jazz didn't actually exist during Shinji's era, coupled with a sketch of Shinji looking absolutely baffled at what he's listening to if jazz doesn't exist. Kubo is also a huge fashion fan and takes every opportunity to sketch his characters in many different fashion styles from Japanese garb to punk outfits, tracksuits, and boxing gear. Even here, he often finds a way to insert music.
  • Hirohiko Araki is a big music fan, particularly of western progressive rock. This can be seen in the naming conventions of characters from his 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.
  • Mori Kaoru
    • 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.
  • Isuna Hasekura, author of the Spice and Wolf novels, has a serious thing for economics. It features prominently in both of his works to date. In fact, he took the prize money he got for his first novel to the stock market and wrote Billionaire Girl and World End Economica which are about day trading.
  • 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 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
  • 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.
  • 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, Starbrand and She-Hulk (this time, combining with her Medium Awareness and Breaking the Fourth Wall). He is also fond of depicting the Neck Lift, to the point that some comics fans refer to it as "the Byrne Hold".
  • 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 Rōnin, 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 Shirow Masamune, 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 (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.


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

    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 loves metamorphosis, transforming characters, places, and symbols in and out of each other. In fact, it was an assignment to create such a scene for an airline commercial that drew him to animation in the first place. He also obsesses over old traditions, folk art, tales based on centuries-old literature and millennia-old legends and religions, and almost always puts some adult theme or imagery (such as artistic nudity) into cartoons he works on, often incorporating them into his metamorphosis.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • 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.

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Balancing comfort and stasis against scientific progress and expansion. Advances in technology, such as robots and computers, created comforts that often made the general population risk-averse and less inclined to expand science and technology. In "Profession", Earth is the only planet engaging in scientific research because once people are taught ideas from "tapes", they stop trying to learn, but Earth secretly teaches some of their population through experimentation and repetition, encouraging them to experiment. In "it's such a beautiful day", the child protagonist once walks to school instead of taking the teleporter, and then curiously starts preferring outdoor travel. A psychiatrist is consulted but concludes that maybe this isn't so bad after all. From the Robot Series and Foundation Series, the Spacers are the first explorers, their every need tended to by robot servants. The later Settler explorers eschew all robots, noting how the comfort has made the Spacers halt their exploration after only fifty worlds. The Settlers eventually dominate the Milky Way while the Spacers decay, forgotten by the rest of the galaxy.
    • The frequency of Psychic Powers. Dr. Asimov would often explore the possible results of having humans/others developing psychic abilities. This can be traced to John W. Campbell's influence, who helped encourage Dr. Asimov during his early years of writing and had been interested in psionics since the 1930s. While Dr. Asimov was a skeptic and helped start the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, he also admitted that he wouldn't want to abandon them as a storytelling tool.
    • The theme of practical versus theoretical knowledge. Dr. Asimov would invariably fall on the side of practical knowledge and experimentation being superior to armchair analysis and theorizing. "Light Verse" had a mathematician who theorized perfect works of art mathematically and failing but was invited to a party hosted by a famous artist. At a party, he repairs an old robot who had been mildly malfunctioning, and then learns the artist had actually relied upon the robot to create the art. In a short story, a scientist wrote a proof demonstrating that a certain kind of energy shield cannot be constructed, meanwhile, a hardened space captain has created just such a shield, after trial and error in the field that has cost him his arm. In "The Billiard Ball", one scientist has two Nobel Prizes while their ex-classmate is a much more famous (and rich) engineer who builds inventions based on scientist's work.
  • Robert Frost
    • He loves nature, and can or will not, in particular, shut up about trees.
    • He also had a thing for iambic meter, but that's possibly more a stylistic choice than Author Appeal.
  • The Arthur writer, Marc Brown, has put the names of his children in several places that need text. And some that don't.
  • An in-story example: The Gordon Korman novel Son of Interflux has an art student who always includes a camel in his paintings, no matter what it's a painting of. His teacher finds it immensely irritating.
  • Robert A. Heinlein
  • H. P. Lovecraft
    • The recurring horror of ending up in an asylum is thrown into sharp relief when you know that both of Lovecraft's parents were confined to them, and both died within them, while he was still young. His father was brain-damaged by syphilis, and it's suspected that his widowed mother was merely afflicted by anxiety, which was enough for a woman at the time to be certified insane.
    • He had a list of phobias as long as your arm. His xenophobia (see "the Horror at Red Hook"), fear of the ocean, and reported fish allergy contributed to his fear of the alien and the aquatic. He seemed to have a thing about tentacles, finding them more or less the embodiment of all that is disgusting. He was a racist, hating everyone who wasn't a white Englishman, holding even English-Americans in contempt. His stories contain no strong female characters, and sexuality is always horrifying in his work, but he could describe a building more lovingly than Shakespeare describing his Fair Lord. However, while the "Lovecraft as asexual weirdo" idea is so ingrained, it may be surprising to learn that he was married for a time, and while it didn't last, his wife was explicitly quoted saying yes, they had sex, and yes, he was "adequately excellent" at it.
    • He would also faint if the temperature dropped too much (cf. Cool Air) and he loved cats.
    • Most of his protagonists are solitary men who have little or no obvious employment, yet never lack money; Lovecraft came from an upper-class family that fell into poverty while he was a child. As a result, he spent his whole life with a chronic lack of money, but unable to get work that would match his social status. There's clearly some wish-fulfillment going on.
    • The really surprising thing about Lovecraft's marriage is that his wife was Jewish. True, no particularly anti-Semitic tropes appear in his work, but it seems weird for someone so xenophobic to make an exception. Apparently, Lovecraft's wife (Sonia Haft Greene) actually remarked upon this - and Lovecraft replied that as she was "Now Mrs. Howard Phillips Lovecraft of Providence" there was no contradiction!
  • J. R. R. Tolkien liked nature, which came with a direct correlation to his dislike of the encroachment of the ever-expanding industrial England into the English countryside. Trees just put up a better fight than flowers. Tolkien also nearly died as a child due to a bite from a spider, while he said he had no memory of the event, it seems likely that there's a connection to the fact that every story set in Middle-Earth has at least one Giant Spider/quasi-Eldritch Abomination... things as enemies.
  • Karel Capek was fond of long lists.
  • Ayn Rand admits that the men in her novels are intended to be the ideal man, an important aspect of her writing.
  • Robert Anton Wilson
    • His novels are an excuse to write extensive analyses about his personal philosophies, and explore various schools of mysticism he's been involved with - however, he manages to do it in an entertaining and amusing manner. He also occasionally lampshades his tendencies to this with characters commenting about books that start telling a story and end with an essay of philosophy.
    • He also loved James Joyce's books, and several times included them, or the man himself into the plots of his various books. In Schroedinger's Cat trilogy he even features a utopian alternate universe where Joyce became the Pope, changed the entire nature of the Catholic Church to a more modern value-system, and prevented World War II!
  • The authors of the Left Behind series
    • They really, really like their telephone conversations. In fact, there's probably as much talking on the phone as there is talking face-to-face in the earlier books.
    • Their love of explaining the difficulties of getting from Point A to Point B. Over a billion people have just disappeared, but I'm going to worry about how hard it is to get to New York.
  • S.M. Stirling's many books consistently feature detailed descriptions of subjugation and slavery; ridiculous amounts of detail about weaponry (guns or bows and arrows depending on the setting). However, if you're writing adventure fiction in which the main characters are warriors or soldiers, and do a lot of fighting, this is pretty well inevitable. Not only does the situation demand it, but specialists whose careers and lives depend on their trade tend to be interested in their gear — contemporary US soldiers even have a slang term for guys who spend a lot of their own money on non-issue equipment because they're perfectionists: geardo. It's like writing about Pre-Raphaelite painters; they're going to be thinking about paint, canvas, lighting, models, and perspective a lot. Another thing is that if you're writing about pre/post-gunpowder warriors, you're writing about professional athletes; the superior ones will have exceptional physiques and they will work very, very hard at conditioning and training. In a way, it's like writing about rugby or basketball players, only with edged weapons and more maiming and death. And cannibalism, but that depends on whether there's an extreme famine going on.
    • Much of Stirling's work is a homage to the "heroic Mighty Whitey explorer" genre of pulp fiction, so this is a cross between Author Appeal and Shout-Out.
    • Another common vein in Stirling's works is the prevalence of "survivalists." In the Terminator novels, they were the few survivors of Skynet's attack on humanity, and in the Emberverse most survivors were people who lived off the grid.
    • He also seems to be very fond of the concept of the country squire, whether in the form of a Draka landholder, a Prime of one of the Thirty Families of New Virginia (from his novel Conquistador), a Commander of post-change Britain in the Emberverse, a zamindar of the Angrezi Raj, or a Hereditary Supervisor of the Civil Government.
    • However, his real thumbprint is his Food Porn. It occurs in all his books, from the fifth millennium to the Emberverse.
  • Piers Anthony
    • Sure, the Xanth books are filled with puns, but they lurk in other books too, plus the Meaningful Names. And he loves logic puzzles; more than once has the climax of a book hinged on the protagonist figuring out a logic puzzle. This includes the Prisoners' Dilemma in the Xanth novel Golem in the Gears and the Twelve Coins Puzzle in the Incarnations of Immortality novel With a Tangled Skein.
    • Macroscope involved the game sprouts.
  • Neil Gaiman
    • Many of his stories involve talking cats, imposter mothers, and Eye Scream.
    • The Hecate Sisters often make an appearance.
    • His main (male) characters usually start as incompetent This Loser Is You and level up through the story (seen in Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Good Omens).
    • On a more "meta" level, he is also very, very fond of playing with the inside/outside aspect of things (i.e. what you thought was outside was really inside something bigger, or you were the one being inside all along - and not just in spatial terms) as well as the concept of stories within stories. For example, one Sandman book has the protagonist telling a barman the story about a time he got stranded in a strange inn, where people told each other stories to pass the time. One of the travelers tells a story about a boat voyage, during which Hob Gadling tells the protagonist of that story another story. That's 4 levels of indentation, 5 if you count "Neil Gaiman telling the reader the story of that guy telling the barman...". And in that same Sandman book, a character the protagonist of the book met is telling a story about a meeting he had with someone, who told a story about his mistress, who in THAT story started telling many stories... one of which was a story about a bunch of travelers stuck at an inn, telling stories to pass the time. Yes, it was recursive to that extent, and boy, was Gaiman proud of managing to include the moment. Gaiman's also a huge mythology nut and loves to reference a huge range of tales from almost any culture you can think of, particularly if at some point they were bowdlerised and the original forms were much darker and more gruesome. The Fair Folk are treated as the trope describes, the original (and deeply squicky) tale of Red Riding Hood makes an appearance and a thematic point in Sandman, American Gods and Anansi Boys are probably set in the same continuity and are all about myths being real and alive (and trying to stay that way), and William Shakespeare himself and his King's Men perform A Midsummer Night's Dream for the entities it was based upon, during which some members of the audience have to be reminded not to eat the performers.
  • Frank Herbert's consistent themes: hallucinatory experiences as a spiritual journey of discovery (usually by means of some substance) and resentment toward/competition with a father figure.
  • Cordwainer Smith loved to include cats (including an early, Western example of the Cat Girl trope) and references to Chinese culture in his science fiction stories.
  • Mercedes Lackey
    • She loves to include birds and intelligent avian creatures in her fantasy novels. Valdemar has gryphons, tervardi, and the Tayledras ("Hawkbrothers") and their semi-intelligent bond birds; the Free Bards books all have bird-themed titles; and The Black Swan has a minor character who's interested in falconry, who later received a short story of her own. Plus the raven and parrot Familiars in the Elemental Masters books.
    • Also, something like 80% of her villains are rapists.
    • She also loves to reference music and the performing arts, and many of her protagonists are professional or amateur entertainers. Bardic Voices is the most obvious example, but three of the Elemental Masters novels focus on the world of turn-of-the-century show business and another includes Magic Music as a major plot device. Lackey was one of the top filk musicians for many years before she wrote her first book.
  • In all the Harry Potter books, by J. K. Rowling, spiders and socks are mentioned in passing several times, and both becoming huge plot points in the second book. There's even a giant talking spider character named Aragog. She also made a whole family of red-headed heroes to counter the negative stereotypes of 'gingers' in the UK. She also made their last name "Weasley" specifically because she likes weasels and thinks they get a bad rap. By her own admission, Rowling likes odd and/or interesting names and words. She says that she "collects" them. Also, almost every character in the series has either a Meaningful Name or just an odd, medieval-style one, the titular character being one of the only exceptions. And as Stephen King once snarked, "Rowling never met an adverb she didn't like."
  • Brian Jacques fills his Redwall novels with pages upon pages of descriptions of the food the characters eat. So many different kinds of scones. There are also incredibly archaic riddles bordering on Moon Logic Puzzle and lots and LOTS of songs, the stories themselves being recounted by a storyteller/historian that has a connection to it and having two stories that switch focus until they're both tied up in the end.
  • If McCoy appears in a Diane Duane Star Trek novel, you can reasonably expect him to be awesome. This may or may not be related to the fact that the good doctor is smokin'.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold loves riverboating on the Ohio, and more than half of The Sharing Knife: Passage focuses on this pastime. Also horses and gardening.
  • Dan Simmons's novels are all love letters to his favorite literary works. The Hyperion Cantos contain an almost obscene number of references to John Keats. His Ilium and Olympus duology is based on The Iliad and Shakespeare while managing to fit in a great deal of discussion about Marcel Proust.
  • Every single book in James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet has a different Serial Killer and a different incestuous relationship. Ellroy is pretty upfront about his mental baggage: his beautiful mother, to whom he was sexually attracted, was brutally murdered when he was a child. They never found the killer. He has a memoir about this.
  • Everything by Leo Frankowski has both sexual and non-sexual Author Appeal. Especially Conrad's Time Machine, a book whose plot is as follows: Two Author Avatars hang out together inventing a time machine, and spend the majority of the book whisked away to a tropical island where they become fabulously wealthy, enjoy the services of an Unwanted Harem, and finish inventing their time machine. It's also filled with quotes from Frankowski's own favorite authors, especially Robert A. Heinlein.
  • Andre Norton: cats (AKA the "Brothers in Fur") and psychic/psionic powers (telepathy, psychometry, etc.).
  • Diana Wynne Jones and Wales/the Welsh language. There's also a lot of magical or quasi-magical cats to be found in her work.
  • Robert Forward's Camelot 30K is a hard science fiction novel that exists merely to showcase his elements-pooping one-eyed shrimp aliens and their Expy Arthurian Legend society. Characterization, writing, pacing, dialog, and plausibility are all sacrificed just so Forward can play with his Starfish Aliens.
  • David Weber seems to have a thing for baseball. It's one thing when it shows up on Grayson, but it is also the favored sport on Safehold. The latter is especially bizarre, given that Safehold is at a Renaissance tech level. Weber also seems to have a thing for hexapodal mammalian and reptilian creatures, see the six-legged animals of the planet Sphinx in the Honor Harrington series and most of the native fauna on Safehold.
  • James Lee Burke uses references to scent in his descriptions of people and places to a noticeably unusual degree.
  • Anne Rice seems to have a thing for European culture and overall history. And she likes describing elaborate clothing. She really likes describing clothing.
  • Roger Zelazny really has a thing for martial arts, especially fencing, tying things into mythology, and having the protagonist be a smoker. This comes from his own life, as he managed to be both a heavy smoker and study a number of the fighting arts. When he quit smoking in the '80s, his characters stopped as well. Vehicle accidents (much of his short fiction), immortality (Lord of Light, "And Call Me Conrad", etc.), twisting myths into interesting shapes (especially the Faust Legend, but most of his books are centered on one mythology, examples including Vedic, Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Zoroastrian, and Lovecraftian) and a world ruled by robots after the death of the human race (too many short stories to count.)
  • Clive Cussler (Dirk Pitt Adventures) almost always has a cameo of himself assisting the heroes in some way.
  • Steven Brust is another writer with a taste (pardon the pun) for Food Porn. He also has a thing (taken from Hungarian folklore IIRC) for canny coachman characters. There's a couple in the Dragaera series, and in Freedom and Necessity, the protagonist disguises himself as a coachman at the beginning of the novel. Brust was also previously involved in music, so there are a number of musician characters in his books and one book has a lot of carefully disguised allusions to the Grateful Dead.
  • Roald Dahl loved nostalgia for his childhood, and food. Almost all of his books revolve around food in some way, and most of the Happy Endings his heroes get are based on food in some way. He also hated abusive adults, and his child protagonists often end up getting comeuppance against the child haters in their lives. TV was also a pet peeve of his.
  • Stephen King: His obsession with going into absurd detail with characters getting diarrhea, periods, and wet trousers (possibly deliberate Squick).
    • He also seems bent on almost all his stories being in Maine. And if they aren't set there, they will definitely include some passing reference to the state at some point. If it's not somewhere around Maine, it's in Colorado.
    • King also has a great fondness for protagonists who have either a dead sibling or a dead spouse.
    • A significant portion of his work involves Psychic Children (typically without explanation).
    • Domestic abuse in its many forms keeps turning up, either as a major plot point and source of horror or as background.
    • Odious fat women. If a fat woman appears in a King story, it can almost note  be guaranteed that she'll be a selfish, venal, emotionally stunted bitch and - if she has children - either a negligent mother or a smothering and overbearing one.
  • The oeuvre of China Miéville is one great, big, twisted love letter to the city of London.
  • Dale Brown was a former bomber crewman, so most of his Cool Planes are bombers.
  • Eoin Colfer and Ireland. Also lots of snarking.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • Her second husband was an archaeologist. Several of her novels in the 1930s and '40s involve archaeology.
    • Early in her career she also accompanied her first husband on an around the world trip to promote the 1925 British Empire Exhibition. Both marriages likely inspired her love of setting stories in exotic locations.
    • During the First World War, she was a nurse working in a pharmacy full of bottles of different poisons. Small wonder that thirty of her murder victims are struck down by poison - more than by any other mystery writer.
  • Chuck Palahniuk seems to have a thing for furniture stores and describing houses. And so far every one of his books has mentioned the color cornflower blue. Palahniuk also loves loading his books with factoids, in the original sense — little factual statements that seem reasonable, but aren't true — such as the cleaning/cooking tips in Survivor.
  • Are you the protagonist of a David Gemmell novel? Then your life will resemble the following description: A usually older man who used to be a warrior but has turned his back on war after seeing and committing horrible acts. He has retreated to a place of solitude, like a monastery or a cabin in the mountains. This character will debate the morality of killing and war with himself and other characters. He might wonder if there really is a god in Heaven. Then, something terrible will happen and our hero once more takes up his sword and fights, but this time it's for a good cause! This is followed by him cleaving his way through enemies like a one-man army. Dying at the end of the story is optional.
  • Clifford Simak has a load of these.
    • His idea of time and time travelling is hard to describe and easy to identify, the main result of it is an infinite amount of parallel Earths existing, separated only by a fraction of time. So time travelling is going into another dimension.
    • A party of people going somewhere, disappearing one by one, the protagonist, the love interest, and usually some kind of subhuman companion staying in the end. The party very often includes some sort of a really advanced alien. Cliff is usually very fond of making those parties as wacky and misfit as possible.
    • Semantics. If someone is explicitly using advanced semantics to manipulate people, you are reading a Clifford Simak book, no exceptions.
    • World peace, pacifism, humanism.
    • American countryside.
    • Decentralized human society.
    • Ridiculously advanced alien society. One that's usually willing to teach other, lesser races, including humanity, or at least has a huge library of some sort.
    • Robot civilizations.
    • Starfish Aliens. Silent gelatinous cubes that manipulate space and time and communicate with mathematical equations is a perfectly normal thing for Clifford.
    • Virginia. Small and boring towns where something weird happens, for the first time ever.
  • Spider Robinson is a huge fan of Robert A. Heinlein, and one of Heinlein's most ardent defenders. Needless to say, there are many similarities between Heinlein's work and Robinson's, particularly involving individual liberty, free love, and Shaggy Dog Stories ending in truly terrible puns. This is most evident in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series and its various spinoffs.
  • Peter David has a number of these. Many of his Star Trek books at least once mention Alexander the Great, for instance.
  • Melisa Michaels:
    • Romani (Gypsy) culture appears in many of her works. In the Skyrider series, the belt has been populated heavily by Rom, and in Through the Eyes of the Dead, the murder investigation involves several Rom families living in San Francisco.
    • Hawaiian pidgin pops up regularly in her works; Melisa lived for many years on Oahu. The Translation Convention version of the Belter pidgin in the Skyrider series, for example, is strongly reminiscent of Hawaiian pidgin.
  • A Messianic Archetype, a Nietzsche Wannabe, a Casanova / Casanova Wannabe / Dirty Old Man, and a Tsundere walk into a Russian salon. They then proceed to debate the meaning of life for 1000 pages. One of them gets killed. Congratulations, you have the plot of any Fyodor Dostoevsky novel.
  • Jim Butcher has a thing for snark, badassery, Guile Heroes, and Gambit Pileups involving all of the above.
  • Terry Pratchett:
    • has copious amounts of Lampshade Hanging, Stealth Puns, jokes that follow a certain specific structure (it'd probably be easier to go to his quote page than try to describe it), and benign contempt for the common man.note 
    • provides an in-universe example in The Last Continent, with a literal creator god who goes around to already-finished worlds and throws down a new continent, which always has kangaroos on it. "Kind of a signature, like."
  • Cameos, Tuckerizations, and other inclusions of fans and family as characters can be found throughout John Ringo's work, from his very first published novel, A Hymn Before Battle, onwards.
  • Bruce Coville has specifically 2-inches-tall people as a recurring pattern. The Monsters of Morley Manor? Two inches tall. The aliens in the Rod Allbright Alien Adventures series are two inches tall when shrunk, and in book 2 (I Left My Sneakers In Dimension X) the kids are described to be two inches tall compared to the monster Smorkus Flinders if he was human size. The sequel to I Was a Sixth Grade Alien includes the protagonist and his teacher subjected to a shrink ray that makes them two inches tall, at which point they are put inside a desk. In the third book, the classroom's two-inch tall hamsters turn out to be evil.
  • Michael Crichton: Absurd amounts of Info Dump, either within character conversations or as asides (well-researched, although Science Marches On). He also made a point of kind-of-sort-of averting This Is a Work of Fiction as a gag, because many of his books are written in the style of interviews gathered after the fact and he acknowledges the characters in the book's preface).
  • Both of Ernest Cline's books to date, Ready Player One and Armada, feature nostalgic fandom of '70s and '80s pop culture as running themes. This can even be seen with hindsight in his 2009 screenplay for Fanboys.
  • Simon R. Green seemingly can't write an Urban Fantasy series without his love of The '60s cropping up.
  • Brandon Sanderson is known for magic systems with well-defined rules. Other common elements include people who become gods (or at least claim to), Gambit Pileups, and city settings described in great detail. He also seems to like putting his female protagonists in situations where they have to wear really fancy dresses. And sooner or later, someone will storm a castle.
  • Catherine Fisher has dark-haired, scarred men in long coats as her classic character type, abundant references to myths and legend, a characteristic manner of giving every chapter an epigraph (typically from an in-universe source), and making two characters share motifs so as to metaphorically imply that they are the same character.
  • Joe Abercrombie likes dark and dreary settings where surprisingly realistic outcome keeps happening all over the place. Idealism is something you'd better outgrow, but at the same time, people who try to be completely cynical and self-serving can't quite shed some remaining traces of humanity either. He's also fond of darting around a scene (especially a fight scene) telling it from the point of view of one minor character after another, showing that each one is a complex and interesting person with a story of their own. And then, as often as not, having them be abruptly killed, often by the next character in the chain.

    Live-Action TV 

  • John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants appears to enjoy writing about cranial trauma, while John Linnell likes personifying inanimate objects.
  • Rapper DMX is known for his love for dogs, which makes its way into many of his songs. His fifth album, Grand Champ, took it a bit further and stated that they can't just be any dogs, but 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 loves writing and singing about apocalypses, dystopias, and cocaine. And science fiction/space-inspired subject matter shows up so often in his work that it became the basis for an article in The Onion, "NASA Launches David Bowie Concept Mission".
  • Olivier Messiaen was a lifelong birdwatcher and traveled around the world to learn bird calls he could incorporate into his compositions.
  • 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 Bookends 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.

  • 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 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

    Video Games 
  • Totaka's Song, a short, 19 note tune hidden in almost every game Kazumi Totaka has worked on as a composer, and first discovered in the tank game X. These three videos document but a fraction of the time and effort gamers have invested in finding the melody.
  • Shinji Mikami from Resident Evil fame has a thing for masked wrestlers and Sentai as demonstrated in games where he can actually get away with it. (Killer7 had MASK de Smith and the Punishing Rangers AKA The Handsome Men, God Hand had Mr. Gorilla Mask and the Mad Midget Five.)
  • Goichi Suda AKA Suda51 likes Mind Screw A LOT. He also seems to have a thing for gratuitous gore, semi-futuristic decadent places with slashes of Magical Realism, and rave music. He also seems to love lucha libre, as seen in No More Heroes, where the player character collects luchadore masks (who all have names like "La Guerra, Jr.") and learns new wrestling moves from finding masks with notes in them. Suda51 even wears a luchador outfit in some press releases. And as mentioned above, there is MASK de Smith, who is a luchador.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Hironobu Sakaguchi likes to "make players cry" and wrote most of the emotional scenes in the games he wrote scenario material for. His games use Standard Fantasy Setting, mythology about crystals, and a lot of Follow the Leader of whatever Dragon Quest was doing at the time.
    • Takashi Tokita has an internal reputation for always including time travel elements in his games and jokes about this, though this is not actually true (only two of his games included it).
    • Yoshinori Kitase is known for having strong overarching visions of what he wants to achieve and tries to enforce cohesion. He is the reason for the push towards 'cinematic' content in FF, as he felt it was important that even non-video game fans can look at the screen and know what's going on. (The push towards cartoony graphics over sprites in the mobile phone FF ports was his, as he felt sprites don't make sense to people who aren't familiar with game tropes.) His villains are usually Laughably Evil, Sissy Villain types, and draw a lot of influence from '70s and '80s Tokusatsu (a lot of his villains are connected to space or outright aliens). By Sakaguchi's admission, Kitase is better at 'big setpieces'
    • Kazushige Nojima: Unconventional Urban Fantasy settings and more psychologically realistic writing, often incorporating adolescent elements like Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World. Heroes who use performative personas in order to suppress elements of themselves that they dislike, and villains who are even more desperate to be something they aren't. He tends to focus on themes of memory and likes to deconstruct RPG stereotypes with Dysfunction Junction setups and, in his later work, World Limited to the Plot Absurdism where RPG gameplay tropes are Serious Business. His stereotypical main character would be an arrogant (but secretly insecure) Deadpan Snarker Defrosting Ice King with a real dark side, who acts detached from other people and has Laser-Guided Amnesia; even his innocent and cheerful Woobie heroes tend to have a few of these twists to them. He is also significantly more likely than the other major FF scenario writers to give All There in the Manual explanations for some of his more baffling plotlines.
    • Yasumi Matsuno also writes emotionally realistic material, but with a significantly less 'adolescent' tone than Nojima's, and favours Dark Fantasy settings with lots of Gothic Horror elements, extremely complex worldbuilding, and references to real-world Medieval history. He tends to deal with themes of class struggle, with nobles and peasants at odds and usually a finale which involves killing God.
    • Square-Enix designer Tetsuya Nomura is heavily inspired by Japanese street fashions and style trends, leading occasionally to Fashion Dissonance in his older work, as well as to Zipperiffic. He also likes to give his protagonists, and often as many of his characters as possible, a stud in their left ear, imitating Nomura's own piercing. Note that in Final Fantasy VII Remake, for which the characters were redesigned by a new artist, Cloud is missing his Nomura ear piercing (which he has in all other appearances). When in charge of scenario, he tends to write straightforward storylines along Whole Plot Reference lines (e.g. Musashi vs Kojiro, Hamlet, etc.), and takes influence from pop culture ephemera such as fashion labels, music videos, and advertising. Over time he's become prone to Internal Homage, particularly focusing on storylines that contact the series' past legacy.
  • Tetsuya Takahashi, founder of Monolith Soft and Square Enix alumnus, has several. His games will usually feature at least one Humongous Mecha, if not more. The entire premise of Xenoblade, in fact, is about two races living on two continent-sized titans. They will also feature at least one Robotic Action Girl as a playable party member, and there will be lots of religious symbolism integrated into the plot and the lore of his games.
  • Castlevania Czar Koji "IGA" Igarashi seems to have a weird fixation with furniture, namely chairs.
    • Dracula always waits for the Belmont sitting in his throne before the final fight. His son Alucard and Soma who's his reincarnation can also catch some rest sitting down in the many chairs they encounter.
    • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. Former henchman Hector can collect more than 10 different types of chairs scattered all around the stages and store them in the aptly named "Weary Chair Room".
    • Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. Most Castlevania heroes can collect weapons, magical items, and such. Juste Belmont collects random items of furniture and decorates an empty room of the castle with them. You know, the castle he intends to destroy.
    • In recent years, IGA appears to have acquired a taste for the Final Boss of the Arrange Mode to be the now-Rogue Protagonist of the normal mode. It started with the Julius Mode of Dawn of Sorrow and extended to Nightmare Mode in Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and Zangetsu Mode in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto:
    • He has implemented personal interests into many of his games, including Pikmin (gardening), Nintendogs, Wii Fit, and Wii Music. Nintendo later banned him from talking about his current hobbies. His earlier works were definitely based on his childhood experiences, too. In fact, the premise of The Legend of Zelda was based on his exploration of caves as a child. In an interview for a game-developer site, he flat-out tells other designers to base their games on things they like.
    • Miyamoto has admitted to being a Western fan, which is particularly apparent in the 3D Zelda games. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess all have Epona, Ocarina of Time has Lon Lon Ranch, Majora's Mask has Romani Ranch, and Twilight Princess has the redesigned Kakariko Village, the Hidden Village, Ordon Ranch and the plot similarities with The Searchers.
    • Miyamoto is an avid fan of classic arts like painting. He cited the work of Paul Cézanne as the main inspiration for the impressionism-based visuals of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, while The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild owes its visuals to gouache paintings and en plein air watercolors.
    • Miyamoto also designs things so that their function is apparent when looking at them, i.e. The Goomba was designed so you'd jump on them, and any enemy, or obstacle, with spikes is something you should avoid. He has said to his production staff "when in doubt, use spikes". This comes from his background in Industrial Design in high school.
  • Yuji Horii of Dragon Quest fame is a compulsive gambler which is why many of the games in the series have some sort of gambling mini-game in it. (Though it's been said that the fact that you can only save in the town's churches is a way to try to make going out in the field/dungeons feel a bit more of a gamble as well.)
  • Guilty Gear character designer Daisuke Ishiwatari seems to use belts as a unifying motif minus a few rare cases (Anji Mito has only a sash). Sol Badguy tops the list with 24 belts in his costume design. Funnily enough, the costumes still manage to look pretty cool. He also loves rock music; almost every character in the series is a reference to either a famous rock musician or a band. Queen seems to be his favorite, with nearly every aspect of Sol referring to something about either the band itself or Freddie Mercury.
  • There are so many Flash and Interactive Fiction games about escaping from a locked room remarkably like, say, a programmer's bedroom (usually complete with bed, closet and computer) that it has become its own genre. This might have to do with a throwback to early adventure games, which seized on the genre because of technical limitations; it's a lot easier to write and code a game about a single room than it is about, say even a small apartment.
  • Hideo Kojima:
    • He tells people that instead of being 70% water like normal people, he's 70% movies. As a child, he would often come home to an empty house and sometimes claims that he was raised by movies. As a result, not only do his games homage all his favourite movies to the point where they're almost Massively Multiplayer Crossover Fan Fiction, but many of his characters are also movie fans (although the only one explicitly 'raised' on movies is Raiden and he's anything but an upstanding member of society).
    • Kojima is also obsessed with butts, and tends to incorporate butt shots and prominent butts on character designs whenever possible, not even as Fanservice a lot of the time (the first visual in the E3 2018 Death Stranding trailer is a shot of a baby's butt...)
    • He also likes to include plot twists involving the betrayal or deception of an authority figure, and a player character who discovers they're not who they think they are. Most famously, in Metal Gear Solid Solid Snake discovers he's a clone of Big Boss, his former commander turned traitor who he had to kill. Oh, and he was sent to Shadow Moses as a delivery system for a bioweapon.
  • Matt Roszak of Epic Battle Fantasy fame loves Final Fantasy, Pokémon, anime, and cats. Every single one of his works contains homages to the first three, often in the form of blatant Shout Outs, as well as copious amounts of cats, and is drawn in a very Animesque fashion.
  • Games with Viktor Antonov on art direction tend to feature some very signature elements—clashing classical and futuristic architecture, angular blue-grey metal structures, and tall, spindly robotic creatures. Half-Life 2 and Dishonored practically look like they're set in the same universe.
  • Rare
    • Keys, enormous keys, bigger and heavier than the characters, the most famous being the infamous ice key from Banjo-Kazooie/ Banjo Tooie. Both Diddy Kong Racing and Donkey Kong 64 feature gigantic gold keys as plot coupons; finding or using a key is always a momentous occasion.
    • Really small main characters, compared to everything else around them, almost causing a perpetual Macro Zone. Even if the character in question is an animal that is very large in real life (like bears or gorillas).
    • Eyeballs on as many things as possible, even if the object in question is normally non-sentient (vegetables, books, etc.).
  • Masahiro Sakurai is quite infamous for this, with his games including SOME idea taken from previous works. Most of the time, said elements are from Kirby, but he also seems to have loved implementing elements from Kid Icarus: Uprising for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS. Most commonly:
    • Hyperactive Metabolism using live-action food.
    • The use of a checklist that gradually fills up as the player completes various challenges in-game. Often the primary method of unlocking things.
    • An in-game encyclopedia containing every item found in-game (and in related games, in the case of Super Smash Bros.). It can be filled out either by collecting items in-game, through a gachapon-style lottery or by playing a mini-game.
    • Paying an amount of in-game currency to increase the difficulty level. Continuing after a Game Over lowers the difficulty by a set amount.
    • His games often have highly stylized menus, which are usually designed by his wife Michiko Sakurai. The Super Smash Bros. series and Kid Icarus: Uprising exemplify these.
  • Hidetaka Miyazaki of FromSoftware:
    • He loves incorporating Dark Fantasy into his works, particularly in the Dark Souls series. He also really, REALLY loves Berserk, with there usually being a reference to it at least once in every game he has directed or has been involved in.
    • Also, expect brutally hard swamp levels where you are both slowed and poisoned by the swamp water.
    • The characters in his games are also frequently wear face-obscuring headwear. Whether helmets, veils, masks, or cloaks, very few characters go barefaced. Expect most of them to do an Evil Laugh at least once during their dialogue as well.
    • Every game he's directed contains a Player Headquarters with a loyal female NPC who provides upgrades to you.
    • Expect the Final Boss to be a Duel Boss of some sort, usually a tragic one.
  • Bungie loves them the number 7 and its multiples. Expect it to show up as dates, names, and other things in their games. Also expect some form of artificial intelligence to go off the deep end at some point, most notably Durandal, 05-032 Mendicant Bias, and Rasputin.
  • Blizzard Entertainment absolutely loves both the Fallen Hero and Grey-and-Gray Morality tropes. There are very few out and out Card Carrying Villains and most of the antagonists have a very good reason for what they are doing.
  • Bethesda Softworks frequently references sweet rolls in their games. The most notable example is in The Elder Scrolls. At the start of most of the games in that series, you are described a scene where you decide what to do when someone accosts you for your sweet roll (a scene that is actually incorporated into the actual gameplay of Bethesda's later RPG, Fallout 3).
  • There is at least one Indy Escape segment in each Naughty Dog game. Be it a boulder, a polar bear, a collapsing bridge or exploding mummies, it'll be there.
  • Sam Barlow, the creator of Telling Lies, Her Story and Aisle (and the designer of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Silent Hill: 0rigins) is fond of incorporating fairy tales into the plot, the theme of dual identities, and profession-based surnames for protagonists (Smith, Mason, Miller).
  • Quantic Dream:
    • There isn't one game that doesn't involve or center around detectives or police officers in a police department setting. Also, expect there to be intense or sometimes goofy chase scenes, and two cops with very different personalities forced to work together as partners to solve their missions.
    • Story-telling is a major driving influence for their games more than anything else.
    • David Cage seems to have a thing for women with short hair. His female protagonists, such as Madison Page from Heavy Rain has short hair, as does Jodie Holmes from Beyond: Two Souls. In Detroit: Become Human, Kara starts the game with fairly long hair that's mostly kept in a ponytail but eventually has to cut it short because the plot requires you to do so later on.
    • David Cage is also infamously known for having a knack of adding/shoehorning in some kind of plot twist or supernatural/fantasy elements, which are almost near constant in each of his games. Fahrenheit goes from a story about one of the protagonists covering up a murder to the protagonist finding out he's actually a superhuman with incredible powers; Beyond: Two Souls has the main protagonist have a supernatural spirit connected to her by a tight invisible tether and can communicate to him; even games like Heavy Rain or Detroit: Become Human have some kind of supernatural element in them.
  • Novotrade International under the design leadership of Ed Anunziata made both the 16-bit Ecco the Dolphin games and Kolibri, which share similar aesthetics, similar "environmentalism but with a coat of sci-fi surrealism" themes, and a similar "hunt for the key to pass a physical barrier" puzzle structure.

    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.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • 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?

    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 
  • Butch Hartman's love of Star Wars and Comic Books, as well as his hatred of jocks, cheerleaders, popular kids, rich kids, and anyone else who picked on him in high school shines throughout his work. This includes The Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom, and the never-picked-up Crash Nebula. He also has a habit of making his protagonists Book Dumb losers who are also crazy about space and comic books.
  • Greg Weisman is a self-described "Shakespeare nut, probably with the emphasis on 'nut'". Gargoyles had Puck, Oberon and Titania, the Weird Sisters and MacBeth as recurring characters, and another trio known in the script as Othello, Iago, and Desdemona. Meanwhile, The Spectacular Spider-Man has a running subplot about a School Play of A Midsummer Night's Dream - in particular, "Growing Pains" takes advantage of the auditions to have Shakespeare quotes punctuate the story.
    • As well as this, several characters across his works espouse the idea that revenge is a 'sucker's game' (e.g., David Xanatos from Gargoyles, Flint 'Sandman' Marko from The Spectacular Spider-Man, Lex Luthor from Young Justice). As well as this, characters in those same works that spend their lives pursuing revenge tend to be miserable for it.
  • Many characters throughout Matt Groening productions have the middle initial "J." (Homer Jay Simpson, Bartholomew J. Simpson, Mona J. Simpson, Waylon J. Smithers, Philip J. Fry, and Hubert J. Farnsworth) as a reference to the creator of Bullwinkle J. Moose
  • South Park co-creator Trey Parker lived in Japan for several years and loves Japanese culture, and as a result of the show frequently pokes fun at Japan and its people. Notably, the jokes picked up a bit around the time he married his Japanese-American wife (for example, the comment about "a friend marrying an Asian woman" in the ginger kids episode). He also has a music degree, which explains the songs of South Park (The Movie was a musical and the early episodes, in particular, had Chef sing in every episode).
  • Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, dads) loves Star Wars, musicals, and he finds deaf people hilarious. Also, either Seth or somebody in his staff has a thing for idiotic fat kids. He also loves characters who logically shouldn't be able to talk but do. Like Stewie, Klaus, and Tim the bear. Another sign of this is MacFarlane's constant insistence on promoting LGBT-tolerance and anti-racism storylines, only to very consistently portray LGBT and POC characters as poorly written stereotypes.
  • Brad Bird works the number A113—a reference to a room at CalArts used by animation and graphic design students—into all of his projects: Family Dog, Simpsons episodes, The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille. This has since become a widespread animation in-joke.
  • Disney great Glen Keane was the lead animator for Ariel, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel. What do these three ladies have in common? Long, extremely mobile hair and bare feet.
  • Canadian animator Todd Kauffman has a tendency to give characters from series he's worked on a distinctive skull logo: Duncan from Total Drama, Eric Needles from Sidekick, Corey Riffin from Grojband and Jesse from Looped all wear it somewhere on their clothes.
  • Craig Bartlett's shows all tend to have four main kid characters (Hey Arnold! - Arnold, Gerald, Phoebe, and Helga; Dinosaur Train - Buddy, Tiny, Shiny, and Don; Ready Jet Go! - Jet, Sean, Sydney, and Mindy) who go on wacky adventures together, sometimes without adult supervision. Arnold, Buddy, and Jet are also All-Loving Heroes who are optimistic and friends to all. Each show has similar production teams, especially Jim Lang, who composed for each show, giving them their own distinct sound. These shows also share irreverent humor that kids and adults alike can enjoy (they all seem to be fond of the Gilligan Cut), pop-culture references galore, and occasional mature themes.
  • Angela Santomero's main three shows, Blue's Clues, Super Why!, and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood all incorporate Fake Interactivity, Audience Participation, simple Strictly Formula plots that children can understand, Medium Blending, and life lessons. They also like sending characters away to college. Steve was Put on a Bus to college and was replaced by Joe; Whyatt's older brother Jack went to college; and in season 5 of DTN, Prince Tuesday will be sent to college and Prince Wednesday must cope with him being gone.

Alternative Title(s): Creator Insignia, Director Trademark


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