I'm writing a fighting/combat type of story like Bloodsport. In Pro Wrestling companies like the WWE and TNA and also fighting games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken it's very common for characters in these types of stories to have larger-than-life gimmicks. What would bring all these unique people into force proximity?

Other works of fiction don't usually have this unique gimmick thing going on like Pro Wrestling and fighting games. Outside superhero stories. Even then the superheroes unite because they have a common goal of saving the world.

When I watch stories about other sports like basketball, football, etc. all the other characters seem to share the same personality. All the characters are just members of the same team.

Unlike Pro Wrestling and fighting games where you can have a pirate ninja, doctor, etc, all in one place. Again this is the unique gimmick thing, I am talking about.

Is it odd to have characters with completely different themes, gimmicks, and personalities all in the same proximity?

  • No i don't think it's bad. in fact that's kinda how you make a character and how to differentiate them.
    – Crimsoir
    Commented May 13, 2022 at 0:33
  • 2
    Are those characters members of the same team (then it might be difficult, but doable) or they just attend the same tournament (then it's not unusual at all and actually a common trope).
    – Alexander
    Commented May 13, 2022 at 16:58

6 Answers 6


I think one answer to your question is found in comic books. Would there have been a Lex Luthor without superman? Would the molemen have attacked if it weren't for the existence of the Fantastic Four -- or any other similar group.

If you have one character with an outlandish gimmick -- The Mystery Men's Shoveler -- his existence will draw the Blue Raj to him. Similarly, the existence of the Red eyes will coax the Mystery Men into existence.

Maybe think of it as Bird of a Feather and all that. The same applies to villans: if there is one supervillain mucking up Gotham, other people will see the opportunity and say to themselves, "I can be like that." and come up with their own gimmicks and head of to Gotham or Central City or Racoon City.


If it's supposed to be dumb luck, it may come across as contrived, but you have a little leeway even there, because of course stories are generally tales of unusual, not commonplace things. It helps that the group is established early in the story, so that it's a story about this unusual group.

Because this is a desirable trope, doing all sorts of things like make characters interesting and give the audience a way to tell them apart, it's often covered with weak if plausible explanations. The fight attracts this type. The culture expects you to have a gimmick if you're worth anything, as a way of displaying your confidence. And there's the ever popular declaration that it was Fate.


Let me introduce you to academia

You want an IRL example of a bunch of weirdos and oddballs all thrown together in one place? Academia is the perfect example of this. I work in a field that has tons of colorful personalities that at times can charitably be described as...gimmicky. All of them have their own, highly-divergent interests, and as a result they all come off as having their own gimmicks and highly extreme and well-defined worldviews relative to each other.

There are reasons for this. Let my put on my sociologist hat on for a second.

  • For one, academia (particularly my corner of it) tends to attract the outliers who can't function well in normal society. A sizeable percentage of our field is on the autism spectrum, and other forms of neurodivergence or quirkiness such as being LGBT are common. However, the high rate of autism and type A personalities means academics are also incredibly hard-headed.

  • Additionally, there has been a general trend throughout history where members of historically marginalized groups will try to apply for jobs that have high social status as a way of achieving local respect (e.g., science, medicine, the military, police work). So, for example, someone who might have felt alone being one of the few x kids in their town might have ended up going into academia.

  • Additionally, academia in general tends to reject traditionalism (or, rather, it rejects mainstream traditionalism but embraces it own), and people who tend to like traditionalism seem to not want to go into academia, research, or creative endeavors anyway, so many people like to be on the fringes/front lines of what's acceptable in terms of dress or social conduct. Like, I have extremely competent colleagues who look like they walked off a punk rock album.

  • Everyone groups together because not many people share their interests or their technical expertise to do shop talk (you could easily extrapolate that to, say, a superhero setting). As an IRL example we have an in-joke in our community that when people start talking about our field we just instantly gravitate towards them. But at the same time everyone studies different things and works with different concepts, so they all have wildly different opinions on how things work or what matters. Some of them study one thing so heavily that it's almost like a gimmick.

The arts, I hear, are pretty much the same way. Because they're the arts.

So what you end up with is a place that is about as heterogenous as possible, especially compared to the general population. About the only thing we're missing is the wrestling. I found that when writing my people-with-powers story I ended up drawing a lot from my experiences in academia, just because it was the closest analogue I could find for "a bunch of people with strong, unique personalities and weird gimmicks". It can be enjoyable to be around so many colorful and distinctive personalities but...it's got problems of its own.


This is less common in the West, but it's quite common in Japanese works. Typically, the main protagonist is fairly ordinary, allowing them to act as a surrogate for the audience, while the supporting characters have much more unique and distinctive personalities. Street Fighter and Tekken, both of which you mentioned in the question, are good examples; others I can think of off the top of my head are Danganronpa, Komi Can't Communicate, and to a lesser extent, My Hero Academia.

As for your specific case...

It's very common for characters in [fighting games] to have larger-than-life gimmicks. What would bring all these unique people into [close] proximity?

The prize. There is something valuable at stake, and these disparate fighters are willing to travel from all corners of the world and beat the snot out of each other in order to get their hands on it. In Street Fighter, it's the right to call yourself the greatest martial artist in the world. In Tekken, it's control of the Mishima Zaibatsu (a large and wealthy conglomerate). In Mortal Kombat, it's preventing Shao Kahn from conquering Earthrealm. In WWE, it's the championship belt, or the briefcase full of money dangling from the ceiling, or some sort of kayfabe element that means the fight is "personal".

What's the prize at stake in your story? What are your characters actually fighting for? Once you figure that out, it should immediately become obvious why they're all gathering in one place.

  • 1
    Though it may not be especially relevant to OP's own project, it's worth mentioning that Komi Can't Communicate and Danganronpa justify this with the admission procedures of the schools they're set at selecting strongly for oddballs. Commented May 13, 2022 at 20:50

I don't think it is unusual, think of it as seeking Synergy.

Synergy is when a team (even of two) can accomplish more together than the sum of what they can accomplish alone.

In everyday life, people with money seek people with business creativity, and vice versa, because Money+Creativity can create great wealth for both of them. It is something neither can accomplish alone; that is synergy.

Many happy couples have synergy, for both their strengths and weaknesses are complementary; the strengths in one compensate for a weakness in their partner.

A hunter and his dog have synergy; the dog can scent-track prey for miles in a way no human could do, and the human can take down prey using a bow or gun in a way no dog could do. And they both eat.

Even sex is a synergistic exercise; more fun and exciting together than it would be for each acting alone.

Super-beings can have synergy, and seek it out, if you give each of them powers and weaknesses. So they can work better as a team and succeed more often and more reliably than the sum of what they can be alone. Sometimes just having two bodies is an advantage; when Batman is captured, Robin can free him. A "strength in numbers" argument.

I'd just be careful to not over-power any super guy, the fewer weaknesses they have, the less value there is in having partners. You don't want the only advantage to be strength in numbers; that is a generally weak advantage.

And as an author you want that drama: When the team loses a member you want that to expose a weakness in the team, that of course may risk the mission.

Like in the movie Ocean's Eleven; everybody has a role to play. When the only acrobat gets injured, their entire plan is in jeopardy! But he powers through despite his injury, at half his normal agility, and barely pulls off the key stunt without triggering the alarm.


It's not odd at all, it gives the story more interest.

“This group had a kind of dark glamour within the castle. They were a motley collection; a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish gravitating toward a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Paraphrasing, that suggests groups follow leaders because they offer something. But it might not be the leader, the attraction might be another person in the group who demonstrates a desired trait.

Everyone there has a reason. Finding out what those reasons are and how they intermesh, meld and develop, is one way to propel the story forward over time. Suspense! The reader can make a guess about who-did-it and be rewarded or confounded by confirmation or new-revealations.

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