Created By: pixelScientist on November 18, 2012 Last Edited By: pixelScientist on December 24, 2012

Written On One's Back

A character (usually female) has a secret message or spell written on her back.

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She has a secret. She's definitely hiding something. She wants to show you, so she starts taking off her shirt and... turns around. There is a message written on her back. Or maybe it's a spell. It could be anything, but it's definitely REALLY IMPORTANT. (needs rewriting)
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • November 18, 2012
    Koveras
    Why does it have to be female? Outside of some hentai shows that we are not allowed to trope anymore, I can only think of one example and he is male...

  • November 18, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut

    • This is an esoteric example but in Beloved by Toni Morrison, Sethe's back is covered in scar from being whipped. The scars form a shape that is compared to a tree, it's a central metaphor in the novel.

    Memento and Prison Break both have male protagonists with plot-relevant tattoos but they are male and the tattoos aren't on their backs. Is there an existing trope for information tattoos?
  • November 18, 2012
    Irrisia
    Waterworld has Enola, whose map tattoo is currently listed as an Orphans Plot Trinket.

    Or so I read, anyway.
  • November 18, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Riza Hawkeye has secrets of flame alchemy tattooed on her back - the final notes to her father's work. She asks Roy to burn it to obscure the notes so that there won't be another flame alchemist as destructive as him again.
  • November 18, 2012
    StarSword
    This trope has promise as a "message on one's back" trope, but seems a little too specific as-is. Possibly Message On Ones Back for the trope name.

    Anime And Manga
  • November 18, 2012
    dvorak
    I really need to read other people's suggestions before I post mine... Dawnning beat me to it.
  • November 19, 2012
    KZN02
  • November 19, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Supertrope to this. This one is distinct in that normally, people can't read stuff written on their own backs without a mirror, and even with a mirror it's often tricky.
  • November 19, 2012
    TropeEater
    I think this is also a subtrope of Toplessness From The Back.
  • November 20, 2012
    pixelScientist
    Alright, title changed, but now I can't think of a good description.
  • November 20, 2012
    Bisected8
    • Evolution has a slight variation; the male lead works out how to kill the aliens by looking at a periodic table on the back of the Love Interest's t-shirt.
  • November 20, 2012
    Sackett
    In Fullmetal Alchemist the secret to Flame Alchemy was tattooed on Riza Hawkeye's back.
  • November 21, 2012
    pixelScientist
    Yeah, no doubt Hawkeye is the trope codifier.
  • November 21, 2012
    Maestro14x
    Often this is seen in prison escape motifs. often someone of the same gender as the protagonist has a map of the prison on their back(because they knew the day was coming where they were to be put in prison)(lampshade)and is unable to escape due to said map being on their back.
  • November 27, 2012
    m8e
    • Used on multiple women in The Stranger And The Gunfighter. Wang have tattooed tiny messages on their buttockes and in the beginning of the movie he's seen inspecting them with a loupe.
    At bottom of every women is fortune.
  • December 24, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Heroes season 4 the ability of one of the members of the Carnival is "living tattoos," which animate on her back (usually).
  • December 24, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    A Pirates Of The Caribbean comic published in Disney Adventures has a pirate whose back tattoo is a treasure map. However, being under the skeleton curse, this isn't apparent until daylight.
  • December 24, 2012
    hamda
    In Smallville season 4, Lana receives a mysterious tattoo on her lower back which turns out to be a kryptonion symbol connecting her to a witch.
  • December 24, 2012
    Doryna
    • Lupin III had a chapter, later made into a second series episode, where two identical twins were each tattooed with half of the map to a Viking treasure on their backs. Complicating matters, the maps only appear during the Summer Solstice. The two twins duel, each hoping the kill the other and gain her half of the map.
  • December 24, 2012
    Generality

    Also, proposed page quote:

    No wonder my back hurts. There's a damned novel inscribed here.
    The Nameless One, Planescape Torment
  • December 24, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ I second that quote.
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