Created By: callsignecho on April 10, 2012 Last Edited By: callsignecho on November 3, 2012

Stigmata Of Coolness

Scars, tattoos or marks that make a character super cool, when they should be repulsive.

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Trope
[Description Under Construction]

Scars, marks and tattoos have many and varying connotations in human society.

This trope describes a character who lives in a world where such marks are typically seen in a negative light: they are considered disfiguring, a mark of the low caste, or barbaric.

However, our character or characters are the exception in their own story. For some reason, in context, their marking show one of these things: they are tough, they've seen action, or they don't care about society's definition of beauty.

In other words: they're wicked cool.


  • Hostile Takeover: For most of society, the scar for a neurocannula is a mark of the underclass, and people will--literall--mortgage their organs to pay for their removal. Members of the military show them off: it means they fly a Space Fighter.
  • Sharpe: Raised-from-the-ranks Captain Sharpe bears scars on his back from where he was lashed as an army private. This marked him as a troublemaker to the officer corps, but makes him "one of us" to his enlisted men.
Community Feedback Replies: 3
  • April 10, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Nomds of Gor: Warriors of the Wagon Peoples (which is to say, all adult males) earn scars to show how badass they are. Each one is colored. The first scar earned is the red Courage Scar, without which one can't get any other scars. The scars are worked into the faces of the warriors over days or weeks; some have even died during the scarring process.
      On the face of each there were, almost like corded chevrons, brightly colored scars. The vivid coloring and intensity of these scars, their prominence, reminded me of the hideous markings on the faces of mandrills; but these disfigurements, as I soon recognized, were cultural, not congenital, and bespoke not the natural innocence of the work of genes but the glories and status, the arrogance and prides, of their bearers. The scars had been worked into the faces, with needles and knives and pigments and the dung of bosks over a period of days and nights. Men had died in the fixing of such scars. Most of the scars were set in pairs, moving diagonally down from the side of the head toward the nose and chin. The man facing me had seven such scars ceremonially worked into the tissue of his countenance, the highest being red ...I could read only the top scar, the red, bright, fierce cordlike scar that was the Courage Scar. It is always the highest scar on the face. Indeed without that scar, no other scar can be granted. The Wagon Peoples value courage above all else. Each of these men facing me wore that scar.
      • In a later book, the Alars (loosely Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Huns) have a slightly similar - and yet entirely different - set of scars. Each healthy male child, just after it's born and before it gets any milk from its mother, is cut once on each cheek. "It must learn to endure wounds before it receives the nourishment of milk." (Only healthy children are permitted to live. Unhealthy are presumably exposed to let them be killed by the environment, or possibly just killed outright. It isn't explored.)
    • In the Earths Children series Those Who Serve The Mother - combination priests and medicine people - are tattooed on the face to mark their status.
  • October 13, 2012
    lexicon
    Does the character from Beastly count? He was cursed to be ugly on the outside because he's ugly on the inside but the witch making him ugly means scars, tattoos, etc.
  • November 3, 2012
    callsignecho
    Hmm...I'm not sure about that one. This trope really means in-story people think the marks are cool, whereas (IIRC, correct me if I'm wrong) Beastly was criticized for portraying the character as ugly when in reality he just looked...really cool.
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