A relatively simple way for a writer to show a character's tough without explicitly saying it: give them a prominent scar. Even if the cause of the scar
is never revealed, it's clear that the character suffered some sort of serious wound and survived. For example, you look at a group of Space Marines
. Who do you think is the toughest one there? The cleanfaced guy or the guy with a healed gash across his face
Like Eyepatch After Time Skip
, it's a common tool to show a character is a Future Badass
Common Rugged Scars include:
Compare Every Scar Has A Story
. In this case, the story behind the scar is irrelevant, all that matters is that the character's scar sets them apart as tough or a survivor. Overlap between the two is possible; even if the cause of a scar is revealed, if it is used to show someone is tough then this applies as well. Covered In Scars
is a subtrope that occurs when this is taken Up to Eleven
Anime and Manga
- Invoked by Luffy of One Piece, who thinks it would be badass to himself a scar below his eye in tribute to his hero Shanks. Shanks himself has a claw mark scar over his eye from his fight with Blackbeard.
- After coming back from offscreen Training from Hell at the end of Dragon Ball, Yamcha sports a few facial scars indicating that he's come back stronger (although he still Can't Catch Up).
- Bleach, many characters are Covered In Scars or examples of Every Scar Has A Story, but Tsubaki stands out as he came into existence with a scar over his eyebrow. Fitting, since he's Orihime's sole form of attack and the most brash of her fairies.
- Bardock, Goku's father in Dragon Ball Z is completely identical to his son (and his son as well), except for the fact that he has a scar on his cheek. Not surprising he'd pick something like that up, considering his job is to travel from planet to planet and wipe out their entire populations.
Live Action Television
- Avatar: The Heavy Colonel Quaritch has three scars on his head. Presumably it's a claw wound of some sort.
- The Dark Knight's incarnation of the Joker. Rather than the Joker's traditional Frozen Face, this one has a Glasgow Grin, indicating the series' Darker and Edgier tone while still establishing the character as someone who isn't going to die easily.
- In the first and second Terminator movies, the John Connor of the future has an unexplained scar on his face. We finally see what causes this scar in Terminator Salvation.
- Invoked by Turbo Shek in Dragon Tiger Gate. He has a scar on his face that he gave to himself in order to seem tougher and make others respect him.
- Lethal Weapon 3: Martin Riggs and Lorna Cole compare scars in a one-up fashion, which also justifies taking off all of their clothing, followed by inevitable fornication. This overlaps with Every Scar Has A Story, but in this case the actual story of the scars are less important than their symbol of showing someone is tough.
- In Glory Trip, a former slave, is given A Taste of the Lash as punishment for going AWOL from the army. He removes his shirt revealing a back already covered in whip scars. He doesn't flinch as he's given the punishment.
- Invoked, then inverted in The Magnificent Seven. While looking for gunmen to hire, one farmer suggests one that has lots of scars on his face, thinking that scars are a sign of toughness. Another farmer replies that "The man for us is the one who GAVE him that face."
- Valeros, the iconic fighter in Pathfinder, has a scar on his cheek. Presumably it's to make him look more battle-hardened.
- Action Man, the UK equivalent of G.I. Joe, had a scar on his face to set him apart from cheap, generic soldier dolls.
- Sub Zero gained a scar over one eye in between Mortal Kombat II and 3. The details behind it are never given, but it does coincide with him being cast out by his McNinja Assassin Clan.
- Similarly, Siegfried from the Soul Series of games gained a scar over his eye at some point while Walking the Earth.
- Kanji Tatsumi from Persona 4 has a small scar on his brow. Fitting, since he's a delinquent infamous In-Universe for getting into fights and feared by many (even if he does have a very soft center).
- In Persona 4 Arena, Akihiko has been Walking the Earth since Persona 3, and he's picked up a couple of scars, notably a giant claw mark on his chest. It's never elaborated on, but it fits his "wild man" redesign and the fact that when it comes to hand to hand combat, he's probably the best fighter in the game.
- In Elsword, Raven's is somewhere between this and Covered with Scars. He's also a grizzled veteran who has witnessed many tragedies in his life (including surviving the death of his family).
- Star Trek Online:
- The game features these on multiple NPCs, for example Agent Franklin Drake◊ from Section 31, and J'mpok◊, Chancellor of the Klingon Empire. A wide array of scars are also available for Character Customization, although whether they fall here or under Every Scar Has A Story depends on how RP-inclined the player is.
- Admiral Amnell Kree in the Foundry mission "Bait and Switch" has very heavy scarring across her left eye. Her in-game dossier implies them to be the result of injuries sustained during the Dominion War, but they serve more to mark her as a Frontline General.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Matt Engarde from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney hides a double example under his Peek-a-Bangs; he has the claw-like scars over one of his eyes. This highlights that he's nowhere near as innocent as he seems, but hides it well as these never get seen before The Reveal that he's the Big Bad of the case.
- Song from Avatar: The Last Airbender survived a fire bender's attack, but has a scar on her leg. She bonds with Zuko, who has a burn scar on his face (which was given to him by his father).
- Colonel Staquait, the cruel leader of the French Foreign Legion in The Legend of Tarzan, has a cut scar over one of his eyes.