[[quoteright:350:[[Film/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shot578.png]]]]

The physical version of SomethingOnlyTheyWouldSay, where a character is identified by an unusual body deformity or trait, like a mole or birthmark. Bonus points if the mark is in a place that would be embarrassing/forbidden to show in public.

The [[ScannableMan barcode]] (which may be a tattoo but probably isn't) is often used as a sci-fi variation on the birthmark.

See also ScarsAreForever. For a Distinguishing Mark that marks the ChosenOne, see BirthmarkOfDestiny. If the Distinguishing Mark shows that the character is supernatural or magical, it's MarkOfTheSupernatural. If the Distinguishing Mark shows that the character is or was a slave, it's a SlaveBrand. If it is meant to show that a character is (or is assumed by others characters to be) evil, then it's the RedRightHand. Overlaps with FacialMarkings if it's located somewhere on the face.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Subverted in ''Manga/MermaidMelodyPichiPichiPitch'', when Tarou notices a mermaid with RapunzelHair and is sure it must be Sara. It's not. ''All'' mermaids have long hair, and they otherwise looked nothing alike.
* In ''Manga/ChronoCrusade'', Chrono's missing horns are so prominent that he's known as "Chrono of the Broken Horn" to some of the other demons. And, of course, Satella is searching for a demon without horns...[[spoiler:But later it's revealed that ''Aion'' is missing his horns, as well.]]
* In ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', Mikuru's mole on her left breast is the usual thing Kyon looks for when he wants to see if it's the "real" Mikuru. In the novels, Kyon once asked her to show it (to which she replied with a punch) and another time realized it was ''not'' her because of it.
* In ''Anime/LuckyStar'', Konata looks identical to her mother, except for a birthmark under her eye (and her [[IdiotHair ahoge]]).
* Jacuzzi Splot from ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'' is often immediately identified by the blue, oddly-shaped sword tattoo on his face - unfortunate for him, considering that he's got a large bounty on his head and more than a few enemies with an axe to grind.
* A meta-example in ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'': the identity of the corpse discovered at the beginning of Curse Killing Chapter is never revealed, but an astute-eyed viewer can figure it out for themselves if they spot the DistinguishingMark -- [[spoiler:the red star-shaped tattoo on the left thigh identifies it as Rina Mamiya]].
* ''Anime/MaiHime'': The easiest way to identify a [=HiME=] is a fireball-shaped PowerTattoo on their body. It's in a different spot for each girl - Mai's is on her right breast, Natsuki's is on her lower back, etc. [[spoiler:Akira also has one, but she hides it to maintain her [[SweetPollyOliver disguise]], and thus the other [=HiME=] don't know that she's one of them until much later.]]
* Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/[[{{Superhero}} Wild Tiger]] from ''Anime/TigerAndBunny'' has a rather distinctive-looking [[BadassBeard goatee]]. In fact, it's ''so'' distinctive that it's implied that many people don't bother to remember what the rest of him looks like.
-->'''Security Guard:''' "With that beard and mask, anyone could look like him!"
* In ''Manga/FullMetalAlchemist'' Maria Ross has a mole under her eye. [[spoiler:While about to kill Major Hughes, Envy pretends to be Lt. Ross. Envy however fails to replicate this mark when imitating her but she quickly fixes it.]]
** Also, Scar got his nickname because of the [[CaptainObvious X-shaped scar]] on his forehead, courtesy of [[spoiler:Kimbley]]. We never actually learn his true name, but the other characters needed something to call him by.
* In ''Manga/{{Inuyasha}}'', the titular character has fuzzy, white dog ears on top of his head (not floppy ears like most dogs, more like the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shiba_Inu_cream.jpg Shibi Inu]] breed.) This marks his [[HumanMomNonhumanDad heritage]] as an ''inu-hanyou'' - half human, half dog-demon. He also his golden eyes with cat-like pupils, like his father.
** Most of the demons in the series show certain traits that tell them apart from humans, even when in humanoid form. These include pointed, elf-like ears, unusual coloration in their eyes and hair, and (sometimes) claws and fangs. If their true form has a tail, that will often be visible, since it apparently takes a lot of power to hide it.
*** In Shippouís case, hiding the tail is often a problem when he disguises himself using his fox-magic. (Shippou is a very young ''kitsune-youkai'' - fox demon. In Japanese folklore, foxes were said to be great tricksters, and the masters of disguise. Being so inexperienced, Shippou still isnít very good at shapeshifting, but heís getting better.)
* [[Manga/RurouniKenshin The Hitokiri Battousai]] is known for having red hair and a cross-shaped scar on his left cheek. In some places where he is less famous that gets shortened to just a cross-shaped scar.
* Meta example in ''Manga/MissKobayashisDragonMaid'' where the maid at the end of chapter 28 can be identified by the audience as [[SmallRoleBigImpact the bandit girl]] due to the small scar on her right cheek. Taken further in the anime, since it's covered by her hair until the last second for TheReveal.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Princess Sally from ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'' has a "royal birthmark". [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar Espio knows where it is.]]

* In ''Fanfic/EmpathTheLuckiestSmurf'', Empath is distinguished from his fellow Smurfs by having a yellow star birthmark on his forehead, which according to their legend indicates that [[MarkOfTheSupernatural he has telekinetic and telepathic powers]]. Hefty in the series has a red heart birthmark on his right upper arm, but generally refers to it as a tattoo when he receives an identical mark on his left upper arm from Painter.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory2'' uses this to distinguish the familiar Buzz Lightyear with an otherwise identical one fresh from the box. In addition to knowing that he's a toy, the familiar Buzz proves that he's the friend of Woody by lifting his foot, revealing "Andy" written on his sole that was put there by their owner.
* Hiccup in ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon'' has a tiny scar on his chin. In ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon2'', it is revealed he got the scar when he was clawed by a dragon as a baby. When Valka first confronts Hiccup she stops short when she recognizes his scar.
-->'''Valka''': Hiccup? Could-could it be? After all these years? How is this possible?\\
'''Hiccup''': Uh, should I... should I know you?\\
'''Valka''': No. You were only a babe. But [[LukeIAmYourFather a mother never forgets.]]
* In '''WesternAnimation/BarbieInThePrincessAndThePauper''', Anneliese has a crown shaped birth mark on her shoulder that is used to distinguish her from Erika and prove that she is the real princess.

[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* In ''Film/ThePrincessBride'', Count Rugen is identified by his [[RedRightHand sixth finger on his right hand]].
* There's a royal birthmark (the Purple Pimpernel) on the royal posterior of the true heir to the throne in ''Film/TheCourtJester''. Creator/DannyKaye's character gets to show the infant's bottom to everyone to gain their reverence.
* ''Film/LAConfidential'': A mother cannot initially ID her daughter in the morgue. The Coroner prompts her with Detective Lieutenant Exley and Officer Bud White hanging on her every word:
-->'''Coroner:''' Mrs. Lefferts, does your daughter have any distinguishing marks?
-->'''Mrs. Lefferts:''' She has a birthmark on her hip. It's her. My baby!
** The scene won the [[http://www.skinema.com/Skinnies1998.html 1998 Skinny Award]] for "Best birthmark used to further the plot".
* In ''Film/HongKilDong'', Hong Kil Dong recognizes the bandit that tried to kill him when he was a child, by noticing the scar on the bandit's hand where young Kil Dong bit him.
* In ''The Inspector General'' the only thing which distinguishes identical twins Izzick and Gizzick is a strawberry mark on Izzick's right leg which he tries to exhibit as proof of identity several times, only to be stopped by the mayor. When he finally gets to show it off without interruption, it turns out to be on his ''brother's'' leg.
* In Creator/CharlieChaplin film ''Film/TheVagabond'', the woman who was kidnapped as a child is recognized by a distinctive birthmark, seen when her mother views her portrait.

* The ''Literature/{{Goosebumps}}'' book "My Hairiest Adventure" has a character with one blue eye and one green eye -- which [[ChekhovsGun turns out to be important]] after [[spoiler:she's transformed into a dog]].
* The Dragonlords of Joanne Bertrin's novels all have a distinguishing physical mark (birthmark, odd eyes, dwarfism, albinism) which indicates their Dragon natures. One of the clues that a young woman is not really a Dragon is that her mark can easily be hidden.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''
** ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban'' uses the missing toe on Scabbers's front paw thusly.
** In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'', Lucius Malfoy uses the scar on Harry's forehead to identify him, since Harry's face has been disfigured by Hermione's jinx.
** All of the [[{{Mooks}} Death Eaters]] have a Dark Mark branded on their arms.
* ''Literature/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'' Hannibal used to have six fingers on one hand, more specifically a second middle finger. He has it surgically removed after Silence, but of course he retains his [[RedEyesTakeWarning maroon eyes]].
* The Sylver family line in ''Literature/WelkinWeasels'' all have a facial birthmark shaped like a lightning bolt.
* ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'':
** In ''Literature/{{Jewels of Gwahlur}}'', Conan identifies a slave girl imposter by a birthmark.
** In ''Literature/AWitchShallBeBorn'', the witch can be identified by her birthmark.
* In Creator/ENesbit's ''Literature/FiveChildrenAndIt'', after the children foolishly wish that everyone would want their little brother and then have to chase after everyone who kidnaps him, one character claims him as his long-lost son because he ''doesn't'' have a birthmark.
* Creator/EdwardRutherfurd uses this trope a ''lot'' to distinguish between the families in his GenerationalSaga novels, variously giving them characteristics such as long toes, waddling gaits, or oversized noses. Played with a bit in ''London'', in which the Ducket/Dogget line has ''three'' such traits: natural SkunkStripe hair (both sexes), partially-webbed fingers (several of the males), or obesity that's probably linked to hypothyroidism (a few of the females).
* In the ''Literature/JudgeDee'' mystery ''The Chinese Maze Murders'' a father identifies his daughter's headless body by a burn on the arm that she got when she was just a toddler.
* The heirs to the throne of Riva in ''Literature/TheBelgariad'' have a white mark on their palms, burned into their bloodline when Riva Iron-Grip carried the Orb of Aldur.
* In ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', part of the Porter family is polydactyl, with an extra toe on one foot. [[spoiler:This tips off Eldest Whistler to the paternity of Kij's daughter, Eldie, who was sired by Kij's brother Keifer. While Keifer was married to the princesses.]]
* ''Literature/TheMortalInstruments'':
** Jace Wayland has a star-shaped mark on his shoulder [[spoiler:which is a birthmark of the Herondale family]].
** [[spoiler:Simon gains the ability to walk in sunlight, nicknaming him "Daylighter" and the Mark of Cain, though he later loses the latter]].
* In ''Literature/VenissUnderground'', Nicola has a birthmark in the shape of a rose between the thumb and forefinger of her left hand. [[spoiler:When Shadrach sees it on Lady Ellington's transplanted hand, he realizes that Quin has taken Nicola to his organ farm to be used for spare parts]].
* In ''Literature/HalfBad'', Nathan was tattooed so that he could be distinguished from other witches.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'': When Cersei has but a price of [[spoiler: Tyrion]]'s head, the fact that [[spoiler:he's a dwarf without a nose]] makes it very hard for headhunters to falsify their claims. Not that they don't try. They show up with [[spoiler:the half-rotten heads of other dwarfs, with their noses cut off postmortem. Cersei is not impressed.]]
* In ''Literature/TheOrphansTales,'' the Girl who narrates the tales has dark markings covering and surrounding both eyes. They look solid black from a distance, but seen close to, they're actually tiny, tiny words which she has read and memorized.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* TheHero Rohan in ''Series/TheMysticKnightsOfTirNaNog'' has a birthmark called the Mark of Destiny that his druid mentor and foster father takes as a sign proclaiming him to be TheChosenOne. He's right... but the mark isn't unique to Rohan. [[spoiler: His half-brother Lugad and the BigBad Queen Maeve, ''their mother'', also bear the Mark of Destiny.]]
** Ivar is in Kells hunting a thief who stole a sacred chalice from his people. He knows him only by a scar at his forehead. During a battle with Torc, Ivar knocks off the man's helmet to see the scar and realizes Torc is the thief. Torc openly boasts he drinks from that cup every night to anger Ivar who is dedicated to getting the chalice back.
* On an episode of ''Series/{{Highlander}}'', the widow of a Watcher wants to expose Immortals to the media. A newspaper publisher naturally doesn't believe her story of people who can live forever and engage in sword duels to the death. She shows him a database featuring a man the publisher knows as a powerful millionaire, noting the man's facial scar. She then begins showing photos of a variety of men over the decades, from World War II to the 1890s to the Civil War and the early 19th century. The publisher's jaw drops when he sees that, while the name, hair styles and clothing are different, each of these men has the exact same scar and realizes they're all the same man.
* PlayedForLaughs in the ''Series/{{Monk}}'' episode "Mr. Monk Takes On Manhattan", Monk recognizes a tiny mole on the perp's ear. He then spends an absurd amount of time describing the ear to a sketch artist. Later, when interviewing a suspect, Monk tries to get a peek at his ear.
* In an episode of ''Series/HotInCleveland'', a mother and son are reunited in part by the son bearing a birthmark on his wrist in the shape of a handbag.
* In ''Series/TheRefugees'', the time-traveling refugees carry a chip on their chests that shines a red light. [[spoiler:It is also used to monitor them and make sure they don't break the rules.]]

* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcrbM1l_BoI In this video for Avicii's "Wake Me Up"]], two girls (implied to be either mother and daughter or older and younger sisters) living on a farm each bear a birthmark or tattoo of two triangles (the Avicii logo), the older on her right arm, the younger on her left shoulder, and are clearly shunned by others in a nearby town. At one point, the older girl rides her horse to a neighboring town, where she meets other people with the Avicii logo mark on their bodies. They welcome her and take her dancing. The next day, the older girl tells the younger to pack her things, because they're going to a place where they belong.

* Parodied in the one-act opera ''Cox and Box'' by F. C. Burnand and Arthur Sullivan, in which Box declares that Cox must be his long-lost brother because he ''doesn't'' have a birthmark on his arm.
* ''Theatre/AnimalCrackers'' identifies Roscoe W. Chandler as Abie the fish peddler with a large birthmark on his arm. Ravelli and the Professor later steal a wide array of his possessions - the Professor gets the birthmark.

* Cutie Marks from the various ''Franchise/MyLittlePony'' franchises: a unique symbol on the flank of almost every pony[[note]]though a few ponies don't have them, and they get reused in the case of a lot of G2 ponies and some G4 [[MemeticBystander background ponies]][[/note]]. ''[[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Friendship Is Magic]]'' actually uses them as plot points: Ponies are born without them and receive one when they discover their special talent.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''{{VideoGame/Evergrace}}'': in this game, people who bear the Crest--a series of markings that appear on one's hand--are often subject to misfortune. The fact that there's a magician, with an entire empire in his control, ''searching'' for Crest bearers as test subjects probably doesn't help matters.
* ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheCuriousVillage'': Flora Reinhold's disappearing-reappearing birthmark is the final clue Layton needs to solve the mystery of St. Mystere.
* In ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIII'', the way Gwydion proves he's [[spoiler:the long lost Prince Alexander]] is by showing Princess Rosella a birthmark he has in a [[{{Mooning}} rather embarrassing place]].
* In several ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' games, the mark of the Triforce (see the featured image on the RuleOfThree page) appears on the hands of three [[TheChosenOne individuals]]. [[BigBad Ganondorf]] has the Triforce of Power, [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses Princess Zelda]] has the Triforce of Wisdom, and [[TheHero Link]] has the Triforce of Courage. Each piece of the Triforce is represented by a different triangle - Power is on top, Wisdom is on the bottom left, and Courage is on the bottom right.
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'', Link starts out with the BirthmarkOfDestiny on his left hand (right in the Wii version). Itís also visible in his wolf form.
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild'' Paya is named after the papaya seed shaped birthmark [[spoiler: "...smack in the middle of her left butt cheek!"]]
* With the exception of Mark Meltzer or the multiplayer characters, all of the playable characters in the ''VideoGame/BioShock'' games have a mark or deformity on their hands or wrists.
** In ''VideoGame/BioShock1'', Jack has a tattoo of a ball and chain on his wrists, [[spoiler:symbolizing the fact that he is a slave to Atlas/Fontaine.]]
** Subjects Delta and Sigma ''VideoGame/BioShock2'' have a Δ and Σ mark on their left hands, respectively. This were probably used to distinguish each model of the Alpha series.
** In ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'', both leads have one of these. Booker [=DeWitt=]'s right hand bears the mark of AD, ([[spoiler:the initials of his daughter, Anna [=DeWitt=]]]) while Elizabeth has a missing phalanx bone on her right little finger, which she covers with a thimble. [[spoiler:The reason for this is that said phalanx bone was [[PortalCut cut off by a tear]] when she was an infant, thus allowing her to open tears.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'', the Exalted family of Ylisse has the Mark of Naga on their bodies [[spoiler: and the Avatar has the [[MarkOfTheBeast Mark of Grima]] on his/her hand, which only fades away if he or she kill Grima themselves.]]
** Chrom has the Mark of Naga on his bare shoulder, and his elder sister Emmeryn has it on her forehead. [[spoiler: Their little sister Lissa does ''not'' have the mark, however, so she fears that she's [[HeroicBastard a bastard child]] until her KidFromTheFuture Owain appears and shows her ''his'' Mark.]]
** [[spoiler:Lucina, Chrom's daughter, inherits the Mark of Naga as well: it's found in [[MagicalEye the iris of her left eye.]]. If her mother is Olivia, then her potential younger brother Inigo has the Mark in the iris of his ''right'' eye, and mentions it as proof of his heritage when recruited.]]
** Also mentioned in regards to [[spoiler: Owain's OlderAndWiser self Odin from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates''. If he gets married and fathers Ophelia, she inherits the Mark of Naga too; the DLC's extend this to his other potential children, Shigure and Kana.]]
* In ''VisualNovel/{{Juuzaengi}}'', when Kakouton [[spoiler: loses his eye and gets a fever from his injury, his only memory of his savior (Kan'u) is the mole on her arm.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Nathan Hale in ''Webcomic/TheDreamer'' has a powder burn on his forehead and a mole on his neck.
* In ''Webcomic/ShinkaTheLastEevee'' Luna the Umbreon has diamond-shaped rings for some reason, her brother Shadow has orange instead of yellow rings and their clan banished him because of them.
* Oliver of ''Webcomic/LightningMadeOfOwls'' has an L-shaped scar as his distinguishing feature.
* Mari from ''Webcomic/{{Moxie}}'' has a tattoo mark on the inside of her right wrist, distinguishing her as a noble.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Literature/SailorNothing'': Himei sports a black eye in Chapter 2; as she turns out, she can't [[ClarkKenting Clark Kent]] her way around it.
* [[http://tailsteak.com/archive.php?num=491 This webpage]] on basic TimeTravel points out that even identical twins or clones won't have the same moles or skin tags, so this is a good way to convince people you really are them-self from a parallel universe.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/GIJoeARealAmericanHero'': The difference between the mirror image Tomax and Xamot? Xomat has a scar on his left cheek. [[TwinTelepathy For twins that share a link]], it was no doubt agonizing for Tomax.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePrincessAndThePea'', The court historian, Sebastian, makes a note that the newborn princess, Daria, had a heart-shaped birthmark on her left foot. This acts as a ChekhovsGun to help identify her as the real princess later on.
* Dipper of ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' apparently has a birthmark on his forehead that looks like a certain constellation that answers [[WhoNamesTheirKidDude certain questions.]] He mentions that kids made fun of it before he started covering it up.
-->'''Wendy:''' The Big Dipper! ''That's'' how you got your [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname nickname]]! I thought your parents just hated you or something.
** The author, as described by the shapeshifter as "a six fingered nerd", is in fact a Polydactylate, with his hand being used as his emblem on his journals. Notably this is the most obvious physical difference between himself and [[spoiler:his twin brother Stanley Pines.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePenguinsOfMadagascar'': Rico has a scar on the right side of his face.
* Krusty the Clown in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' has a pacemaker scar, a cattle-skull birthmark, and a superfluous third nipple on his chest.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AllHailKingJulien'', an IdenticalStranger tries to take Julien's place, and Clover is able to identify the real Julien by identifying the [[BloodlessCarnage supposedly]] bad scar on his butt he got in the first episode.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the "distinguishing characteristic" of President Clinton's private parts used to back up her claim that he did have sex with that woman.