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Recurring Element

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Chocobos. Notice how it started with "II"? When they remade the first game, they discreetly put these birds in, too.note 

For many series, especially Video Game ones, the various incarnations are only vaguely related to each other. The works may take place on different worlds, feature entirely different characters and have very different stories. In fact, it's only the name of the work that connects it with the previous ones at all...

Only usually it isn't. Most Non Linear Sequels or Thematic Series will have a character, theme, monster, or item that is emblematic of the series and remains constant. Note that this is often not the same character, theme, etc. Sometimes only the name will remain the same. Sometimes there will be a character "inspired by" the original much like a Spiritual Successor. In all cases the recurring element is not tied to a particular world, but simply shows up in each installment of the series. Think of it as an internal trope, specific to one body of work.


These elements aren't explicit Expies, but they serve the same purpose in aesthetics, narrative, or function, or gameplay in the case of video games. Some are officially acknowledged, some are so evident they are given Fanon names, and others are just there.

See Recurring Riff for music examples, and Mascot Mook for the enemy monster version of this. Also see Mythology Gag, which is where a single work has a reference to another, but there is no example that covers an entire series. Also see Suspiciously Similar Substitute for when this was a one time thing rather than a serial one within a franchise or an artist's work.



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     Anime and Manga 
  • The Aikatsu! Franchise, in each series, has a Cute-type idol as the main protagonist with her best friend being a Cool-type idol. The idol academy they attend always references "star" somewhere in the name.
  • The Gundam franchise usually has a Haro and a Char Clone.
  • CLAMP works and Mokona.
  • Any Digimon anime tends to feature the following elements:
    • The hero will wear goggles on his forehead, have Shonen Hair, wear blue clothesnote  and be partnered with a lizard-dinosaur-dragon mon, who will undergo some form of temporary evolution (often a corrupted, undesirable one) invoked by their humans.
    • The Lancer will have a colder personality and have a canine mon for a partner, often associated with the color blue or some other cold color. The Hero and The Lancer are usually the only ones to unlock the highest possible evolutions for their partners.
    • A frequent subplot is one of the kids with Digimon, often The Lancer, having a strained or complicated relationship with their sibling (who may or may not have a Digimon themselves) and mending it is crucial to their development.
    • At one point there will be a Sacrificial Lion, and if the series has a Leomon (or variant thereof) then there's a good chance it's him.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has "the girl with sad eyes" who the heroes will try to save from their own sadness. They've usually Dark Magical Girls, though there have been some exceptions.
  • The Pretty Series always features a store called Prism Stone which the main characters typically hang out in. A woman named Akai Meganee (literally "red glasses girl") also appears, sporting brown hair and red glasses.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Every protagonist will have a "Yu-" prefix in their first name (or in Jaden's case, their last name) and a signature monster with 2500 attack points.
    • Each anime (bar 5D's and VRAINS) will feature a rival character who has a Morality Pet younger brother. The original series had Kaiba and Mokuba, GX had Ryo and Sho, ZEXAL had Kaito and Haruto, and ARC-V had Reiji and Reira. The last one has a twist, though: Reira is not only adopted, but is also a female.
  • Each season in Future Card Buddyfight has a Big Bad that uses a different flag than any other character and may upgrade it to a new one. In either case, it generally results in the protagonists being faced with entirely new game mechanics.
  • The works of Hiro Mashima (Rave Master, Fairy Tail, EDENS ZERO, etc.) often reuse select characters, names, terms, and other elements with a different spin.
    • Plue is a ball-headed carrot-nosed "dog" who has appeared in a bulk of Mashima's work, dating all the way back to his first official manga, Magician. His most prominent role by far is in Rave Master as the Series Mascot, while he's had progressively minor roles in Fairy Tail and Edens Zero, where he's alternatively known as Nikora. He's often the subject of a Running Gag where characters mistake him for some other species, or at least question how he's supposed to be a dog.
    • Sieg Hart from Rave Master has a "tradition" of being used as a Reused Character Design template, usually for Well-Intentioned Extremist heroes or villains who eventually ally themselves with the heroes. He has since made appearances as two separate characters in Fairy Tail—Jellal/Siegrain and Mystogan—and as Justice in Edens Zero.
    • Heart Kreuz, an in-universe brand of clothes worn by Elie in Rave Master, and by Lucy and Erza in Fairy Tail.
    • Etherion, a highly destructive magical power. In Rave Master, it's the ultimate magic that has the capacity to either save or destroy the entire world, and central to the plot as a whole. In Fairy Tail, it's a magical Kill Sat used by the Magic Council that can wipe out nations.
    • The Oración Seis are a team of six villains who stand among the stronger enemies in the series. In Rave Master (where they're renamed the Oracion Six), they're the elite generals of Demon Card, the main antagonistic force of the series. In Fairy Tail, they're one of the three strongest dark guilds in the kingdom. In Edens Zero, they're six warriors who are each capable of destroying a planet on their own.
    • Mildian, a mystical place usually associated with time. In Rave Master, it's a town of sorcerers and mages who aim to prevent a Time Crash. In Fairy Tail, it's an ancient civilization where many of the series' known time spells originated, and whose people have worshiped a god of time. In Edens Zero, it's a planet that exists outside of normal time, and home to an oracle that can see the past, present, and future.
  • The works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli all feature at least one scene in which characters take flight, including (but not limited to): Chihiro riding on a dragon in Spirited Away, the many flying machines in Castle in the Sky, the WWI-era fighter planes of Porco Rosso, and airships in Sherlock Hound.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure when Stands are introduced, the main villain will have a Time themed Stand (Parts 3-6). They include stopping time, rewinding time, erasing time, and fast forwarding time.

  • Pretty much everything about The Crow and its sequels. The basic plot is always the same (Protagonist is killed by bad guys, along with someone else close to him, revenge ensues) and all the protagonists' names reference crow or raven (Draven, Corven, Corvis, Cuervo). Note that the first two are (very) loosely connected, with one recurring character, although played by a different actress.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 2 onwards had a running theme of children losing their parents: Tony found out who really murdered his parents, Spider-Man was implied to have lost Uncle Ben in this continuity as well, Pietro and Wanda lost their parents due to Stark Industry armaments, Star-Lord lost his mother and then lost Yondu as well, T'Challa lost his father, and Thor lost Frigga then followed by losing Odin. The latter's death was stylized in the Creative Closing Credits as him fading into dust and being swept by the wind.

  • Douglas Coupland's books recycle small elements in different ways:
    • The name of a minor character may become the name of a major/main character in a later book. Lisa is a recurring name for minor characters.
    • Backpacking across Europe (and making fun of it) has come up in multiple books.
  • The various Discworld novels take place in wildly different parts of the eponymous world, with different casts, in different time periods — but they all have the same Death. (Well, except during Reaper Man.)

     Live-Action TV 
  • All Power Rangers and Super Sentai seasons involve a Five-Man Band (or occasionally a Power Trio) Color-Coded for Your Convenience, Transformation Trinkets activated By the Power of Grayskull!, Calling Your Attacks, Ass Kicking Poses, attacks by Mooks and the Monster of the Week, the Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever fought with Humongous Combining Mecha, and (except for most of Sentai's early years) a Sixth Ranger. Add the Rookie Red Ranger for Rangers and the Super Mode for both shows in recent years (for the whole team in general in both and Red Ranger-specific ones in Rangers).
  • Kamen Rider's omnipresent elements are a belt as the Transformation Trinket, a Diving Kick as the Signature Move, a Cool Bike, and some form of Phlebotinum Rebellion. Other common-but-not-universal bits include a Scarf of Asskicking, insect-themed armor (both mostly in the early years), a Second Rider, and a Swiss Army Hero with multiple forms (both mainly in the later years).
    • One that's much less obvious is the recurring use of a spider and a bat as the first two monsters encountered, as a call back to the original Kamen Rider and its own first two Monsters of the Week. Almost every show of the Heisei Era used that, sometimes with a twist (Kamen Rider Agito was supposed to be a direct sequel to Kuuga, so it instead used a jaguar and a turtle as a nod to the original's own sequel; Kamen Rider Double meanwhile seemed to drop the gimmick entirely... until a prequel movie revealed that the first two Dopants to attack the town of Futo were indeed the Bat and Spider).
    • Before that, Double did have a bat and spider as the basis of the first two helper-bots. The bat and the spider needn't always be the first two monsters, but they're often in there somewhere - the franchise has primarily animal-based baddies so it needn't always be a reference, but look for them as the first monster, or paired in some way, or having some sort of extra significance. Sometimes they're a trio (the first monster to have a second form was a cobra, so watch out for a snake who's more than meets the eye!)
  • Television writer/producer Russell T Davies tends to assign the same surnames to main characters in his series. For example, there are characters named "Tyler" in Revelations, Queer as Folk, Bob and Rose and Doctor Who. See also Smith, Cooper, Jones and Harkness.
  • Fargo shares its setting and tone with the film Fargo, and there are some pieces of shared continuity between the different series and the film, but each series tends to include a number of distinctive recurring elements and tropes. Most consistently, each incarnation includes a variation of a pair of quirky hitmen - the film has Carl Showalter and Gael Grimsrud, the first series has Mr Wrench and Mr Numbers, the second has the identical Kitchen Brothers, and the third has Yuri Gurka and Meemo. Likewise, with the exception of the second series, each incarnation has a female police officer with a family as one of the protagonists. Also, Mr. Wrench appears in each season.
  • The seven-part Turkish anthology 7 Yüz contains elements that recur across episodes and tie the series together. (See the series page for additional details).
    • The 7 Yüz Apartments, which lend the series its name, appear in every episode.
    • Alihan, who features as a key figure in "Refakatçiler", is the only character to appear in all seven installments as the building's super.
    • The city of Balıkesir is mentioned in character's backstories in several episodes, and features as the setting for the story Mete tells in "Büyük Günahlar".
    • Nihal, a key character in "Büyük Günahlar", appears briefly as Dilek's supportive colleague in "Eşitlik".
    • Şeniz appears in three episodes: as a party guest in "Büyük Günahlar", Pınar's co-worker in "Hayatın Musikisi", and one of Metin's failed dates in "Biyolojik Saat".
    • Mete ("Büyük Günahlar") writes a love note to Elif in a copy of Oruç Aruoba's "Hani". In "Karşılaşmalar", it's one of Gödze's favorite books, and plays a crucial part in The Reveal.

     Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy has several:
    • Someone named Cid, often involved with airships or technology;
    • Summon monsters (Ifrit, Shiva, and Bahamut are the only ones who are in every single game);
    • Common monsters like Bombs, Behemoths, and Cactuars, and recurring bosses like Omega and Tiamat;
    • Crystals, often which have some great importance to the world the game takes place in.
      • Not to mention Square Enix are making a whole mini-series where they play an important role: Fabula Nova Crystallis
    • Chocobos and moogles.
    • Gilgamesh shows up in many games, and save for a handful of appearances, is implied to be the same person in every one.
    • In an odd case, a character named Gogo, who is a mimic and dresses colorfully, is in both Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI; they're different characters though.
    • The money is always called Gil (at least once the translations got consistent).
    • Starting with Richard from Final Fantasy II you can expect someone to have the surname "Highwind". There's a good chance that said character will be a Dragoon (or at least have abilities evocative of the class). And if not, still expect some kind of nod to the name.
    • Starting with Final Fantasy VI, there's a recurring weapon (usually a Infinity +1 Sword) that goes by the name of Ultima Weapon. Other notable equipment that tends to resurface are the Genji and Onion sets of armor, Excalibur, Gungnir, Longinus, Muramasa, Masamune, Godhand, and Excalipoor/Excalipur, among others.
    • The English-based spell naming convention, as well as the [Element], [Element]ra, [Element]ga, [Element]ja nomenclature system for tiers of elemental and curative magic, like Fire, Fira, Firaga, or Cure, Cura, Curaga, Curaja. (Once again, the translations didn't quite get this at first.) Reinforcing the point, sometimes status-effect magic will use the "-ga" suffix do denote spells that affect all members of a group. Likewise, the ultimate white and black magic spells are often Holy and Flare, with Meteor and Ultima sometimes superseding the latter in rare occasions.
      • This magic naming convention appears in a lot of Square Enix games, actually: Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Bravely Default all make use of it.
    • Inventory nomenclature. You will always heal with Potions, always recover MP with Ethers, always revive fallen comrades with Phoenix Down, and always hoard Elixirs, Megalixirs, and X-Potions till the final boss.
    • Several games will include a pair of characters named Biggs and Wedge. They could either be a Those Two Guys type, or a Goldfish Poop Gang (as in VIII), and are often the Straight Man and Wise Guy.
    • Games from VII to X have a secret unmapped location that usually houses the game's strongest summon, a Bonus Dungeon with a Bonus Boss, or both. Round Island in Final Fantasy VII, Deep Sea Research Center from Final Fantasy VIII, and Chocobo's Air Garden from Final Fantasy IX. In Final Fantasy X's case there are multiple secret locations, accessed by manually pointing at the map in very specific coordinates. The most important of these are the Omega Ruins and Baaj Temple.
    • The main character's final Limit Break is a Blade Spam that is usually a contender for the strongest attack in terms of damage output. Omnislash, Lionheart, Blitz Ace, Army/Legion of One.
    • This is invoked in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia when characters from multiple games see familiarity in the new world's ruins, shiny cities, caverns, and manors, and are informed that the gods purposely designed it that way so they'd feel more at home.
  • Square Enix's other series, Kingdom Hearts, SaGa, early World of Mana, etc. have elements from Final Fantasy spilling into them. Usually in the form of items, spells, naming convention, and/or Moogles. The translation doesn't always let them keep them, however. note 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Tales Series:
    • Several common items, such as Gald" as a unit of currency, "Gels" for healing items, etc.
    • Combat techniques, known as "Artes". There are several artes, that appear in almost every game in the series.
    • An interesting case with recurring plot point: almost every game has a traitor. Their identity and causes varies — it can be The Lancer, Guest-Star Party Member, The Big Guy, Combat Medic, Team Pet, and even The Hero himself. Party may or may not have to fight them, and they may or may not survive. If they do, "Welcome Back, Traitor" reaction is inevitable.
    • Cameo boss fights. The final battle in the coliseum would almost always be a party, made up of party members from previous games. If there is no coliseum, they'll show up in the sidequest. It's almost never explained, how did they get here in first place, since games has no single continuity, but it doesn't matter, since fights tend to be absolutely awesome.
  • Wild ARMs:
    • Take place on a world called Filgaia.
    • Generally star a blue-haired hero.
    • The victory music, though different in every game, is always called "Condition Green!".
    • The money is always called "gella".
  • Many games that Yasunori Mitsuda worked on have a track called "Kokoro", which is a soft, simple tune, often played as a music box. The tune itself is different in each game.
  • The two When They Cry have a supporting character, some themes, and being a "Groundhog Day" Loop Murder Mystery in common.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Although the vast majority of the Demon Compendium is always transplanted from game to game wholesale, the only demons that always appear in all games, and always with the exact same appearance, are Atlus mascots Jack Frost and its close relatives.
      • Much like the Chokobo example at the top of this page, Jack Frost had a different design in the first two games. When the games were remade as a bundle for the SNES, Jack Frost was given his modern design.
    • The Demon Summoning Program, the very basis of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise itself, appears in not just all the mainline SMT games barring Nocturne, but also in Megami Tensei and Megami Tensei II, both Majin Tensei games, the first two Devil Summoner games, and both Devil Survivor and Devil Survivor 2.
    • The Sanskrit and Japanese-based spell naming convention as well as the tiered scale system: Agi, Bufu, Zio (weak), Agilao, Bufula, Zionga (medium), and Agidyne, Bufudyne, Ziodyne (severe) for the three indispensable elementals; Hama and Mudo for Expel and Curse (or Light and Dark) One Hit Kills; Raku/Taru/Suku-nda/kaja for buffs and debuffs; and the prefix "Ma" for multi-target vs. single-target spells (Mazionga, Masukukaja, etc.).
    • Demon (or Persona) fusion to improve your forces has been the core and purpose of every single game in the franchise since the very first one.
    • Shiva is created by fusing Rangda and Barong.
    • The Persona sub-series, besides having many of the above-mentioned elements, has some of its own recurring elements (unless explicitly mentioned otherwise, the below examples refer specifically to installments from Persona 3 onward):
      • Each game has a female vocalist who sings all the vocal tunes (with the exception of the recurring Velvet Room theme, sung by Haruko Komiya): Yumi Kawamura for 3, Shihoko Hirata for 4, and Lyn for 5. 3 also has the male Lotus Juice, credited as the "MC", who performs the rap themes.
      • The Battle Theme Music against regular mooks has vocals, while boss themes are (usually) instrumental.
      • The background music in the protagonist's place of residence and while exploring the local town/city have vocals, the lyrical content of which usually deals with depressing themes (heartbreak, inability to confess a crush, and Loss of Identity, to give examples).
      • One of the first party members is a perverted-yet-friendly classmate of the protagonist that quickly grows to be the protagonist's best friend. He also always has a Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with the first female party member.
      • The main plot begins with the protagonist taking a train into a new town.
      • There is a primary Color Motif that pervade the game's artwork and UI: Blue for Persona 3 (and pink for the female protagonist in 3s remake), yellow in Persona 4, and bright red for Persona 5.
      • There is always a Team Pet party member; Koromaru from 3 is a dog, Teddie from 4 is a life-sized teddy bear who eventually gains a human form, and Morgana from 5 is a transforming cat.
      • When the party first forms, their initial navigator will scan any foes the player targets, though their scanning ability has a few weaknesses. Later in the game, a new character joins the party and has stronger scanning abilities than the first navigator. The new character takes over the role of navigator and the previous navigator becomes a full-time combatant.
      • After a lengthy and difficult Final Boss battle, the climax ends with the protagonist, on the verge of defeat, being encouraged via The Power of Friendship, leading to a scripted Post-Final Boss sequence wherein they unleash one final, extremely powerful attack to wipe the enemy out.
      • Since Persona 2, the games all conclude with a female-sung vocal credits theme, usually sung in Japanese with a few Gratuitous English lines during the refrains and clearly told from the perspective of one of the main characters (the one exception is Persona 2: Eternal Punishment's ending theme, which is performed in English by British singer Elisha La'Verne). This is especially notable as almost all other vocal themes in the series are sung entirely in English.
      • Every game since the first Persona features the Velvet Room and Igor, who are the main source of Persona fusion. Additionally, all the games since 3 have Igor assisted by a silver-haired, gold-eyed female attendant dressed in blue - Elizabeth in Persona 3, Margaret in Persona 4, and twins Caroline and Justine in Persona 5 (though said twins are actually two parts of a single personality named Lavenza, having been split apart by the Big Bad). In the female route in the PSP remake of 3, the attendant can instead be a man named Theodore, but other than gender he matches the look of the other attendants. Although the female route is an Alternate Continuity, Theodore canonically exists. The similarities between the attendants aren't a coincidence; they're all siblings.
      • Butterflies have been a recurring motif since the first game. They're usually associated (either explicitly or via Word of God) with Philemon, but other characters, like Aigis in 3 and Lavenza in 5, also have butterfly motifs.
      • Characters associated with the Magician arcana tend to have bad luck with their love interests. From having their love interest being killed (Junpei), having their love go unrequited (Kenji and Morgana), or both (Yosuke).
      • There are too many blue-haired orphan party members for it to be a coincidence: the male protagonist of 3, Naoto from 4, and Yusuke from 5.
  • Breath of Fire has several elements that repeat in subsequent games (though most of these were ignored in the fifth game, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter):
    • The main character is always a blue-haired hero named Ryu, who has some kind of power involving dragons (usually transforming into them). He's also always a swordsman and has a passion for fishing (save for DQ, but not for lack of interest).
    • There's always a Winged Humanoid girl named Nina accompanying him. She's also very adept at magic casting as well as the princess of the Wyndia Kingdom.
    • A very helpful and powerful naga sorceress named Deis (Bleu early on), who's the same character in the first three games thanks to Immortality.
    • Always a town named Dragnier (Drogen/Dologany) and a kingdom named Wyndia (Winlan/Windia), related to the respective clans of Ryu and Nina.
    • Starting in Breath of Fire II, a member of the Woren/Furen Cat Folk clan always ends up joining the party.
    • Usually the starting enemy is from the "Goo" (Slime/Sludge) type family, often a blue blob (save in II, where it's green). There's also always a gold Palette Swap "Goo King" enemy near the end of the game who's extremelly powerful.
    • Dragon-named equipment for Ryu (Dragon Sword, Helmet, Armor, etc.), which is always high-level but not the best equipment available.
    • All games use Zennies as currency, though it was translated differently in early games.
    • In the Japanese version, pretty much every magic spell use the exact same names in each of the five games (for example, fire spells are Pamu, Padamu and Padoraamu). English started using consistent naming for (most) spells since Breath of Fire III.
  • The Mother series
  • Mega Man:
  • The Legend of Zelda: The "Link" and "Zelda" characters are, excepting the direct sequels, different people in each game (they just happen to look exactly alike and wear the same clothes and have the same name).
  • Sakura Wars has many recurring character and story tropes, including:
    • Theater companies that conceal anti-demon corps (The Grand Imperial Theater, the Chattes Noir Cabaret, the Little Lip Theater)
    • A fresh-faced young man from Japan's Imperial Navy is selected to lead an all-female anti-demon corps (Ohgami, Shinjiro, Kamiyama)
    • A Cute Clumsy Girl who serves as the leading lady of the game's story (Sakura Shinguji, Erica, Gemini, Sakura Amamiya)
    • The haughty rich girl (Sumire, Glycine, Subaru, Anastasia)
    • The Child Prodigy (Iris, Coquelicot, Rosita, Azami)
    • The Boisterous Bruiser Lad-ette (Kanna, Cheiron, Hatsuho)
    • The kind-hearted magically-inclined girl (Iris, Coquelicot, Diana, Claris)
    • The emotionally-distant woman (Maria, Hanabi, Subaru, Anastasia)
    • A Big Bad Ensemble (The Hive of Darkness, Nobunaga's generals, the forces of Oboro, Yaksha, and Genan Sotetsu)
    • A Mid-Season Upgrade to the heroes' Mini-Mecha
    • The Darkest Hour, and the powers-that-be dictating that one of your squadmates must be sacrificed for the greater good
  • Mortal Kombat games often have Sub-Zero able to perform his infamous "Spine Rip" Fatality from the first game, with some games putting new twists on them (particularly where it comes to assaulting his victim's spine), including:
  • Fallout:
    • Every non-spin-off game includes a Canine Companion named Dogmeat that the player can recruit, except for Fallout: New Vegas where the cyberdog Rex takes the role.
    • Harold, the mutant with a plant growing in his head, appears in the first three main series games. He's obviously absent from Fallout: New Vegas, and seeing how his fate has multiple endings in Fallout 3, with all of them, except for one, ending up as And I Must Scream since he turned into an immobile tree, coupled with the fact it's doubtful the writers will revisit the Capital Wasteland anytime soon, it's almost inevitable he will be Put on a Bus.
    • No protagonist has ever been without their Pip-Boy. It isn't always the same model of Pip-Boynote , but still. Several weapons that serve as Shout-Outs recur as well, such as a Smith & Wesson Model 29 (with or without a scope), a Red Ryder BB gun, and the 5.56mm pistol.
    • Since 2, the player can recruit a friendly Super Mutant. These include Marcus, the Super Mutant mayor/sheriff of Broken Hills; Fawkes, the Genius Bruiser Super Mutant; Lilly Bowen, a personable (if senile) Nightkin; and Strong, a thoughtful and introspective (yet still insane and violent) Super Mutant.
    • Also since 3, the player's Pip-Boy can tune in to various radio stations that play classic music from the 50's, each with a DJ that has a distinct personality: the
  • The Pokémon RPG series has numerous. Some of them deviated from over the course of the series, some are subverted (Pokémon Black and White in particular plays on those elements a lot).
    • You start in a small town, where you live with your mom. Somewhere in or near the town will be a portly NPC who extols the virtues of technology and science. You meet your rival, a Pokémon Professor (named after a tree) gives you one of three starters - Grass, Fire and Water, and your rival gets the superior type. Then you get five Poké Balls, a Pokédex, and a mission to catch 'em all (with a tutorial on how to do so). Averted in B2W2, because you live in a big city with your mom and a Pokémon Professor's assistant will give you and your rival one of three starters.
    • A rival, usually male and friendly, whom you face multiple times across the region. Two in V, one boy and one girl, four in VI, two boys and two girls if male or three boys and one girl if female and two male rivals in VII.
    • You can get a Potion somewhere early. You get obligatory Running Shoes in III and later (you have them from the start in VI). You also get a Bicycle later on, which is essential because it gives you access to a Cycling Road.
    • An early game forest dominated by Bug-types. How early you can access them depends on the generation. B2W2 averts this by making the region's forest a post game area instead due to how those games switched the orders on which cities you have access to from BW. SM's forest is located much later on in the game, rather than at the beginning.
    • A Pokémon School, typically in an early city.
    • Old, Good and Super Fishing Rods, except in V where only the Super Rod is given, and in VII where the fishing mechanic is completely revamped, and only one rod is given.
    • Some company that sells Pokémon merchandise.
      • Exp. Share is often given to you by such company.
      • Alternatives to such merchandise (such as items that decrease friendship and heal, soft drinks that increase it and heal, a local specialty...)
    • Some sort of a communication device echoing the second gen's Pokégear.
    • A fisherman with a team of six Magikarp.
    • A youngster who states his or her affinity for shorts/skirts. There will also be a Youngster named Joey at some point.
    • A Town Map, a map of the towns.
    • Recurring items list is way too long to be listed here, really.
    • Over the course of the game you defeat eight Gym Leaders. Each leader specializes in a type. Once defeated, they grant you a TM containing their most powerful Pokémon's best move, as well as a badge granting the ability to control traded 'mon up to a certain level and/or the ability to use an HM move outside of battle. (HM Surf is midgame, HM Fly usually too) Gen VII subverts this by replacing Gyms with Trials and Kahuna Battles, which are slightly different but are still based on battling to progress.
    • Oh, hey, the road here is closed. Get a badge first.
    • Once you defeated all Gym Leaders, you deal with the iconic Legendary Pokémon of this version (except in Gen I and remakes), then proceed to beat the Elite Four. There's four trainers with type affinities fought in succession, followed finally by the champion who usually does not have a full type affinity. Then tadaa, Hall of Fame and postgame. Champion time == expect subverted expectations.
      • In V, this is altered significantly. You fight the Elite Four, then the version mascot, then the villain team leaders, and then you have to fight the Elite Four again to reach the champion. Gen VII also allows you to defend your title as champion against other challengers, rather than just staying champion forever.
    • A female Elite Four member who specializes in Ghost-types in every odd numbered generation.
    • You get access to new locations when you hit postgame.
    • There's a villainous team which you stop in their tracks. They usually use poison-types, and their leader is a man (however there's often a woman amongst high command). Gen VII is the first to have a female team leader.
    • People will offer you to trade a mon over the course of the game.
    • There's often an area similar to the Battle Tower from Crystal.
    • And now for the long, long list of recurring Pokémon locations and categories (Insert Black and White Expies where appropriate)
      • Starters as previously mentioned. One starter will be quadruped, the others will be bipedal.
      • Cave full of Zubats. Geodudes, too.
      • A Pikachu substitute, if not Pikachu itself; as fans call them, the Pika-clones.
      • Pseudo-legendaries - available lategame, usually Dragon-type, have a higher exp curve than normal, evolve really really late, stat sum of 600 in their final form, usually appear in one of the Elite Four's or Champion's teams somewhere.
      • Magikarp Power Pokémon. Not necessarily Magikarp itself.
      • A legendary trio. Two since III - mascot trio and normal trio. Three in V, one of which is actually a quartet.
      • One of the mascots for the first two games every generation will have a blue motif, the other a red motif.
      • A legendary duo, usually exclusive to one game edition each, except in V as there are three trios.
      • An "ultimate" legendary, which is usually related to the aforementioned duo, except it's not edition-restricted and has a higher level (usually 70).
      • A Mythical mon, usually similar to Mew - 100 in each stat. Possibly more of them, cutesy and small in design. Since Gen VI, whilst the "cute" legendary has remained, they have not received equally 100 in each stat.
      • A mon created through artificial means as the resident Ultimate Lifeform of the region in every odd numbered generation.
      • Fossils. You get one of two fossils, you can revive them later. All fossils are part-Rock type.
      • A Pokémon that is blocking your path until you use an item to trigger a battle where you can catch it. This is usually the only way you can catch that particular Pokémon in that game. Snorlax is the most famous example. Sudowoodo is another good one.
      • With each new generation, new evolutions and/or pre-evolutions of Pokémon from previous generations (Black and White is the exception). Diamond and Pearl was especially well-known for this.
      • All the core games since B2W2 have an animated adaption of the upcoming or previous games released during the pre-release season, usually targeted towards the franchise's older audience. Both [B2W2] and ORAS received short animated trailers, while XY and SM received the miniseries of Pokémon Origins and Pokémon Generations respectively.
      • Starting from 3rd Generation, a third legendary that is always part-dragon to accompany the two mascot legendaries. This doesn't happen in Generation VII, except that while Necrozma normally is a mere Psychic Pokémon, in Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, it has an alternate form which is part Dragon.
  • Fire Emblem will always star a sword-wielding hero attached to a noble or royal housenote  who has blue or otherwise unnaturally-coloured hairnote . In the hero's service will be a pair of cavaliers, one red and one green (Cain/Abel, Sain/Kent, Sully/Stahl) and they will normally be assisted and advised by a veteran knight of questionable use(Jagen, Marcus, Gunter).
  • The Kirby games have a few recurring trends:
    • Kirby will inevitably end up accidentally unleashing the Sealed Evil in a Can or helping the villain with his plan. If for some reason he doesn't, either King Dedede or Meta Knight will.
    • If Meta Knight appears as a boss, expect him to give you a sword at the start of the battle. If he doesn't, he's probably a fake.
    • The thundercloud boss Kracko appears in just about every Kirby game. So does Whispy Woods.
    • The final boss will almost always be a blob-like Eldritch Abomination, often with only one eye. That or they'll become one as a One-Winged Angel.
    • A Boss Rush minigame often shows up. Sometimes it is two of them: The Arena, unlocked after beating the normal story mode, and The True Arena, unlocked after completing the hard mode. The True Arena also often ends with a harder version of the Final Boss whose name features the word "Soul" in it.
  • The MCV is such a staple of the Command & Conquer franchise that the sole exception to its inclusion was highly controversial. GDI's super-heavy, double-barreled Mammoth Tank was likewise so iconic of the first game that variants of it show up in most of the spin-offs as the Soviet Apocalypse tanks or Chinese Overlord tank. In fact, the exact same machine, down to the sprites, can be found in Tiberian Dawn, Red Alert, and Tiberian Sun, operated by GDI, the Soviets, and the Forgotten respectively.
  • Key/Visual Arts visual novels seem to like the name "Minase"; it was the surname of Manami in Dousei, their first game under Tactics, and the surname of Nayuki in Kanon, their first game as their own studio. Even splinter studio H.I. Design Office named one of the two heroines Minase (though, in this case, it's her given name) in its first VN, Holy Breaker!
    • They also really like the name "Haruka," which appears in Moon and Little Busters! as the name of different heroines, as well as in Rewrite as Lucia's real name, not to mention a Haruko in AIR. And yup, Holy Breaker had a Haruka, too.
  • R-Type will always have one stage which consists entirely of fighting a single giant alien warship. Dobkeratops, the iconic armless xenomorph thing, is also very likely to appear as a boss.
  • Gradius: there will be a Boss Rush, there will be a high-speed section, there will be walls you have to carefully shoot through (sometimes they even regenerate), and there will be Moai.
  • FromSoftware has had one in every game they've made since King's Field, the Moonlight Sword, a Laser Blade made out of, well, moonlight. The only game of theirs that it's absent from is Bloodborne, and even then it shows up in the DLC.
    • Games directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki all feature a character named Patches who will place the player in a death trap, then desperately apologize after they escape and offer to sell them things. No matter what version of Patches you're dealing with, he will be a coward and he hates the clergy. (Dark Souls II, not directed by Miyazaki, included a very similar character named "Pate" instead.)
    • One of the first characters you meet in the hub world is a crestfallen warrior who's lost motivation for venturing the land. Most of them meet their demise in one way or another.
    • The Dark Souls trilogy in particular, as well as its spiritual predecessor Demon's Souls, have a lot of recurring elements within them, such as a depressed and apathetic (or "crestfallen") warrior or knight who hangs out in the hub area, a blighted, rickety shantytown-like area filled with filth, poison, and dangerous drops, and a part where you get attacked by a beefy and brutal woman in ragged clothing wielding a giant axe-like weapon, among others.
    • Also starting from said game, there is a gratuitous Guts Expy as a boss in one of each game's DLCs (Artorias, Raime, Gael).
    • Every game since Bloodborne (Bloodborne, Dark Souls III and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice) have had a Final Boss fought in a field of flowers under the moonlight (or at least something similar to moonlight; Gehrman and the Moon Presence in Bloodborne, the Soul of Cinder in the kiln in Dark Souls III, with the moonlight replaced by the dying sun, and Isshin the Sword-Saint in Sekiro.
  • Danganronpa: Every installment seems to have a character that matched a certain theme. This includes-
    • A Gentle Giant in the case for Sakura, Nekomaru, Gozu, and Gonta.
    • A Token Mini-Moe in the case for Chihiro, Hiyoko, and Himiko.
    • A character with a Nonstandard Character Design in the case for Hifumi, Teruteru, Bandai, and Ryuuma
    • A dark-skinned female character in case for Aoi, Akane, and Angie.
    • A character with an unknown talent in case for Kyoko, Hajime, and Rantarou
    • A character with a fighting ability in the case for Sakura, Peko, Gozu, Juzo, and Tenko.
    • A cute Tiny School Boy in the case for Makoto, Chihiro, Fuyuhiko, Ryota, and Kokichi.
    • A person with an "evil" talent in the case for Mondo, Fuyuhiko, and Kokichi.
    • Every game also seems to follow a pattern in its cases:
      • Chapter 1: the victim isn't the person the killer had intended to kill. The victim is also established as seemingly important, such as the protagonist's initial Love Interest in the first game, The Leader in the second game, and the Decoy Protagonist of the third game. The case also always involves a failed murder attempt.
      • Chapter 2: it always involves the character with gang or mafia connections as a killer or victim. It also results in the cast learning that one of the characters(Toko/Genocider Syo, Fuyuhiko, and Maki) was a murderer before the start of the killing game.
      • Chapter 3: it's always a double murder(although the first game's culprit didn't personally kill the first victim), and the culprit tends to be the least apologetic/sympathetic.
      • Chapter 4: it always involves the Big Guy character as a culprit or victim. The protagonist usually has a falling-out with one of their closest friends at some point during this chapter.
      • Chapter 5: the case is always very complicated, and the death is the most gruesome. In Mukuro and Ouma's case, the corpse is unrecognisable. The victim tends to be a Red Herring for the traitor/mastermind.
    • There will always be a character who obsesses over one half of the main theme of the game, such as Junko Enoshima (Despair), Tengan, Ryouta, and Komaeda (Hope), and Oma (Lies).
    • The person that takes the death the hardest is always among the survivors; respectively, they were Aoi Asahina, Sonia Nevermind, Ryota Mitarai and Himiko Yumeno.
  • Ace Attorney will always have a hapless and put-upon yet nonetheless intelligent and quick-thinking lawyer (Phoenix, Apollo, Athena) and a plucky female assistant with a messed-up familial history (Maya, Ema, Pearl, Trucy)note . They'll first go up against a rather spineless prosecutor (Winston and Gaspen Payne) then a renowned antagonistic but ultimately sympathetic prosecutor with something of a personal history with or vendetta against the protagonists (Edgeworth, Franziska, Godot, Blackquill, Nahyuta). The prosecution is in turn aided by an friendlier detective (Gumshoe, Fullbright, Ema).note ) The final case often, but not always, involves a different prosecutor taking over.note 
  • The Xenoblade series has a few traits that carry over between its entries, such as the presence of the Nopon, a ludicrously high-levelled unique gorilla-type enemy (with an assigned name that translates to 'Redbeard') patrolling one of the early-game locations, and a young female character in the party with some connection to robotics/machinery. One of them even got damaged by the english translations: there's an old military commander named Vandham in every game, but as it obviously wasn't a recurring thing in the first game, the original was renamed Vangarre.
  • Monster Hunter: World features several recurring tropes from previous entries:
    • The first big monster you fight is a King Mook version of smaller monsters.
    • A relatively weak and comical Bird Wyvern which serves as the first serious boss of the game.
    • A colossal Elder Dragon that cannot be fought with your weapons and can only be damaged by cannons and ballistae on top of a fortification.
    • An invasive Elder Dragon-level creature that will appear in random high level hunts with a Background Music Override to tell you to get the hell out of there!
    • A new large monster that fights against Series Mascot Rathalos. This time, the Rathalos comes out on top in a fight between the two.
    • Tempered monsters continue the concept of beefier versions of regular monsters with superior stats, constituting the post-game challenge.
  • Any game by LucasArts will have Chuck the Plant in it ... somewhere. Rarely, if ever, will he be important to the plot.
    • The Age of Wonders series has Dire Penguins. They're always evil to the core and often extremely deadly in water battles.
  • Yoko Taro certainly loves his Deconstructor Fleet for JRPG's in Drakengard, and this always appears in his works:
    • A very handsome early adult-to-late-teenaged boy who hides some dark opinions underneath his seemingly normal exterior. Caim, Brother!Nier, and 9S.
    • A very Fanservicey woman wearing Stripperiffic clothing who hates her current circumstances and is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Kaine, Zero, 2B and A2.
      • A romance between two of the above that is doomed to fail for one reason or another. Caim and his sister due to his rejection on the grounds that he finds incest disgusting, Nier and Kaine because of circumstances, and 2B and 9S due to the In Love with the Mark relationship they share.
    • A motherly figure is revealed to be in on a dark secret and/or is responsible for the current state of affairs by proxy. Zero, Popola and Devola, and the Commander.
    • Something that shouldn't have human emotions is found to exhibit them. Often the main character's assist character. Angelus, Weiss, and now the Pods.
    • A computer-like character meant to oversee the events of the story due to the story being an experiment of some sort, and is tasked with ending it once all data was collected, but then they ultimately choose to go against it because they have come to believe in the protagonists' efforts. Accord and the Pods.
    • A Too Good for This Sinful Earth character who always gets the short end of the stick and either gets killed off or sacrifice themselves in some way to save their friends and loved ones. Seere, Mikhail, Emil, and Pascal.
    • Events transpire to turn a young person into a psychopath with an insatiable grudge against a group and their followers, whether they deserve it or not. Caim against anybody who isn't his friend in Drakengard, the younger smith brother against machines in NieR, Zero against intoners but with a very good reason in Drakengard 3, 9S against Machine Lifeforms.
    • Due to the action or inaction of the adults caring for them, children suffer horribly.
    • Violence perpetrated by the player is heavily chastised.
    • Red eyes on a character as a sign of intense hatred and/or hostility.
  • In Arc System Works fighting games, the resident Ryu and Ken tend to be reversed. In the Technician vs. Performer dynamic between the relatively traditional Ryu and the more offense-focused Ken, as opposed to the normal dynamic, the protagonist is usually the Ken to their foil's Ryu.
  • In most of the Halo games, Master Chief's first mission has him defend a space station being raided by the Covenant.

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