Created By: TheMayorofNorthfield on April 22, 2011 Last Edited By: TheMayorofNorthfield on April 29, 2011
Troped

Every Scar Has A Story

Character disfigurement always has a backstory...

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"Well, you look nervous. Is it the scars? You wanna know how I got them?"
-- Joker, The Dark Knight

Many times, when an author wishes to identify a certain character as a Badass, said character will be given some sort of horrific permanent disfigurement. Most of the time, the disfigurement will stay unnoticed, possibly out of respect for he that is marked, or because the story behind it is too horrible for the others to imagine. But there always exists the chance that some bystander will ask about the scar, in which case the Badass is contractually obliged to explain it. When he is, expect the story to be long-winded, fantastical, and involving at least one Crowning Moment of Awesome.

Can be a variant of Scars Are Forever and Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?.

Examples

Anime and Manga

  • In Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex, the character of Gouda Kazunto gets a chance to explain the particular disfigurement of his head, which includes a somewhat iconic pointy shape.
  • Naruto has Ibiki Morino, whose scars are the result of being tortured and interrogated by enemy shinobi.
  • Naruto: Gaara's "love" scar on his forehead happened when he attacked himself with his sand after an assassination attempt by his uncle.

Comic Books
  • Jonah Hex is horribly scared. Typically, people tend to avoid asking how it happened but sometimes, there is the occasional person who is just too curious for his or her own good.
    Bystander: Don't mean to pry, fella but how'd you get that scar?

Film

  • The page quote, taken from The Dark Knight, is one of several examples from the film.
  • Inverted in the live-action 101 Dalmatians, in which Jasper is insistent that Horace not ask about the scar on Skinner's neck.
  • In Jaws, Quint explains his scars with the story of the USS Indianapolis.
  • Pay It Forward: Mr. Simonetti explains that his face was disfigured by his father freaking lighting him on fire.
  • In the Indiana Jones films, Indy has a small scar on his chin. At the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we see a young Indy accidentally giving himself the scar the first time he uses a whip.
  • In the live-action Jonah Hex film, when asked about his disfigurement, Jonah explains: "Cut myself shavin'."

Literature

  • Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick, who lost his leg while grappling with the Great White Whale.

Live-Action TV

  • A joke version occurs in Get Smart:
    Hans Hunter: (re: his scar) Mr. Smart, have you ever heard of the Great White Rhino?
    Maxwell Smart: That was done by the Great White Rhino?
    Hunter: No, that was done by a small blue convertible.
  • In an episode of Blackadder, Redbeard Rum explains how he lost his legs.
    Redbeard Rum: (to Edmund) I'll wager those legs have never been sliced clean off by a falling sail, and swept into the sea before your very eyes!
    Edmund Blackadder: Well, neither have yours.
    Rum: That's where you're wrong!
  • In the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "The Gang Buys a Boat," Mac decides to ask a sailor about his hook, thinking it will be a cool or interesting story.
    Mac: So, how'd you loose that hand?
    Sailor: Diabetes.
  • 30 Rock: Liz Lemon questions her ex-boyfriend how he got his hooks. He explains that he got one of them when he was in Africa working for Doctors Without Borders, by waving at his old high school football coach from a helicopter ("It looked just like a black version of him!"). The second story is unexplained, but involves explosives.
  • The Jeffersons: Jenny is working as a reporter and has become friendly with a gang. They call their scars "medals" and are proud to show them off, telling how they got them

Newspaper Comics

  • In one Far Side strip, one sailor is telling another of how he got his peg leg. The other sailor, however, has a peg head.

Theatre

  • Henry V
    This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'

Western Animation
  • Zuko's scar in Avatar The Last Airbender came from when he spoke out of turn in a war council, protesting a plan involving sending a green regiment to their deaths for some tactical advantage, and his father the Firelord challenged him to a duel over it.
    Firelord Ozai: You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher!

Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • April 22, 2011
    captainbrass2
    • In Jaws there's a scene on the boat where the grizzled old shark hunter Quint shows his scars to prove his machismo. The young scientist Hooper counters by baring his chest to claim that a girl "broke his heart". I think this is the scene where Quint tells the story of the USS Indianapolis to explain his scars (it was torpeoded in the Pacific War and the survivors were attacked by sharks).
  • April 22, 2011
    Rien
    I think mentioning The Faceless and The Reveal is unnecessary in the description. From what I recall, it's more common for a character to have already visible scars. I see trope as more along the lines of "Character X tells character Y how they got their scars, as part of their backstory."
  • April 22, 2011
    TheMayorofNorthfield
    Duly noted. The description has been changed. (Looking back, that was extreme overkill.)
  • April 22, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Jeffersons: Jenny is working as a reporter and has become friendly with a gang. They call their scars "medals" and are proud to show them off, telling how they got them. One young gang member has yet to earn a medal and as such is only a prospective member, but is looking forward to the upcoming rumble when he'll get one. Then he's killed at the rumble.
  • April 23, 2011
    TheMayorofNorthfield
    • Does the Dropkick Murphys' I'm Shipping Out To Boston come in here? If I remember correctly, the lyrics go "I'm Sailor Peg/And I lost my leg/Climbing in the top-sails/I lost my leg."

    • Subverted in one Sherlock Holmes story where it appears that a hideously scarred and crippled beggar has murdered a man. The explanation proves to be that the scars and disability are fake, and the beggar is the victim. /spoiler
      • Not a subversion, otherwise there would be a setup that results in nothing. Nay, this would probably be an inversion.
  • April 23, 2011
    0dd1
  • April 23, 2011
    Topazan
    • Henry V

      This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
      He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
      Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
      And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
      He that shall live this day, and see old age,
      Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
      And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
      Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
      And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'

    TL:DR : The King promises his men that they'll be able to tell people about the scars they get in the coming battle.
  • April 23, 2011
    SilentReverence
    In Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex, the character of Gouda Kazunto gets a chance to explain the particular disfigurement of his head, which includes a somewhat iconic pointy shape. Notable in that, by the technology levels of this universe, he could have perfectly fixed such disfigurement, but deliberately choose to stay that way because it made him discover a new facet of his personality. Also he remarks that it makes it easier for people to remember him.

    (I don't recall how exactly was the character disfigured; if it is meritory for the example perhaps someone can fill it up?)
  • April 23, 2011
    CousinApril
    • In the Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia episode "The Gang Buys a Boat," Mac decides to ask a sailor about his hook, thinking it will be a cool or interesting story.
      Mac: So, how'd you loose that hand?
      Sailor: Diabetes.

    • Also, in "30 Rock", Liz Lemon questions her ex-boyfriend how he got his hooks. He explains that he got one of them when he was in Africa working for Doctors Without Borders, by waving at his old high school football coach from a helicopter ("It looked just like a black version of him!"). The second story is unexplained, but involves explosives.
  • April 24, 2011
    FastEddie
    Needs a title that does not sound like dialog, but the name of a thing. Scar Wars could work.
  • April 24, 2011
    Rolf
    Scar's Story might work for this.
  • April 24, 2011
    Flioro
    ^ Or possibly just Scar Story. Scar Scandal for Added Alliterative Appeal?

    Some added examples:
    • Naruto has Ibiki Morino, whose scars are the result of being tortured and interrogated by enemy shinobi.
      • Gaara's "love" scar on his forehead happened when he attacked himself with his sand after an assassination attempt by his uncle.
  • April 24, 2011
    dalek955
    • Zuko's scar in Avatar The Last Airbender came from when he spoke out of turn in a war council, protesting a plan involving sending a green regiment to their deaths for some tactical advantage, and his father the Firelord challenged him to a duel over it.
      Firelord Ozai: You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher!
  • April 24, 2011
    AP
  • April 25, 2011
    Augustine
    For the Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex example, I believe he was injured in a car accident or something. He was given the option of an artificial body but refused because his new face was more memorable.
  • April 25, 2011
    akazilliadenaro

  • April 25, 2011
    Rolf
    ^That would be on face not just forehead
  • April 25, 2011
    droginator
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Xigbar has a jagged scar on his left cheek and an eyepatch. Before he became a Nobody, he was Braig. In Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, Braig fights Terra and Terra attacks him with dark energy, giving him the scar and destroying his right eye.
      • In Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, Eraqus has scars on his right eye and left cheek from a battle he had with Xehanort. He gets the scars in the same way as Braig does.
  • April 26, 2011
    neoYTPism
    I had a similar YKTTW called Mental Scars Physical Scars, and it seems to have a similar-but-broader theme.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3a6ftqjbmrz2i4anndzp82u1

    What exactly would you say the distinctions are between the two potential tropes?
  • April 26, 2011
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    what would you say this tropes relationship to Good Scars Evil Scars would be?
  • April 27, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Good Scars Evil Scars is about the type of scar being a clue about whether the character is good or evil inside.

    As for titles, I'd say perhaps Every Scar Has A Story.
  • April 27, 2011
    Speedball
    Every Scar Has A Story is pretty good.

    In the book Ringworld, Louis Wu laments his body regenerating and losing a large scar it once had, because it was like losing a memory. (The memory was of a horrible alien slashing him across the torso, nearly killing him, then dying because he was deadly poison to it).
  • April 27, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ Wait, the title is already taken? ...Nope, looks like this is getting launched as we speak.
  • April 27, 2011
    TheMayorofNorthfield
    Yeah, I figured five days was long enough to wait before launching.
  • April 29, 2011
    InsanityPrelude
    Did you discard this by accident?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=doqvvhpti7euxtwjxjchl6j0