[[quoteright:350:[[Film/{{Memento}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/memento.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:He CouldntFindAPen, but luckily the tattoo parlor was right next door.]]

->''"It's just a permanent way of keeping a note."''
-->-- '''Lenny''', ''Film/{{Memento}}''

Generally a subset of PowerTattoo, which sometimes overlaps with MarkOfTheBeast and ScannableMan. The Human Notepad is when a character is covered with writing. Perhaps he was the victim of a prank (expect frat boys to pull this one), or perhaps he is making notes on himself [[NoteToSelf as an aid to memory]] (in which case this is mostly seen on the back of his hand). In SpeculativeFiction, it may indicate possession by some powerful foreign entity. In supernatural cases, the text usually covers the whole body, although sometimes just the face or another prominent part is covered, and it appears only when the possessing entity is actively attempting to control or providing power to the marked character.

The significance of this particular form of Power Tattoo is apparently that the controlling force causing the phenomenon is intelligent, as well as alien to the consciousness of the recipient. Thus it is often eldritch or archaic in nature, and as a result completely unintelligible; the further in appearance from any writing system familiar to the viewer, the more inhuman the source will ultimately be.


[[folder:Anime And Manga]]
* Many sealing and summoning skills in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' incorporate pseudo-text into them, as elements of InstantRunes; they count as this trope when scrawled on the body. In a more straight example, when Sasuke's curse is first sealed by Kakashi, the skill takes the form of a large rune surrounding Sasuke, which is composed entirely of pseudo-text that crawls up his skin and compresses itself to form a barrier around his curse mark.
** A bizarre example are the Toad Scrolls. Naturally born with an elongated body that can unroll like a scroll, secrets and seals can be written on their flesh for safe-keeping and they will then hide themselves within their contractor. [[spoiler: Gerotora, the only one seen thus far, contained the 'key' to the Kyuubi's seal]].
** Fukasaku became a non-mystical Toad Notepad when [[spoiler:Jiraiya burnt a coded message onto his back]].
** The [[PhysicalGod Rikudou Sage]] is the most pronounced example in the series. The patterns on him are seen on others as well, Pain and Madara for example. Then Naruto's Kyuubi Chakra Mode has those markings etched into the aura; they become fully-formed (complete with BadassLongcoat) when [[spoiler:Naruto and Kurama fight together]].
* Miharu suffers from this in ''Manga/NabariNoOu'' when the Shinrabanshou sealed inside him is used. This "secret art" is described as being more like an immense library of powerful information, though not in a readable form and thus impossible to control. Inside his mental space, it appears as a stormfront of floating Kanji.
* In ''Manga/ThoseWhoHuntElves'', the spell that's needed to send the protagonists back home has manifested as sigils tattooed on five elves somewhere in the land they're in.
* ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple'' has music-obsessed Siegfried writing one of his compositions on his unconscious opponent.
* [[spoiler:Riza Hawkeye]] in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' has a tattoo on her back that contains [[spoiler:her father's research into flame alchemy]], which she shows to [[spoiler:Roy Mustang]] before asking him to destroy it.
** [[spoiler:Scar's brother]] did this to himself in the first anime in an effort to [[spoiler:create a true Philosopher's Stone]].
* A rather disturbing example occurs in ''Anime/{{Shigofumi}}''. [[spoiler:Fumika, the protagonist]] suffered from a form of child abuse wherein her MadArtist father would etch his rough drafts into her body with glass pens.
* In ''Anime/YourName'', two teens (Taki and Mitsuha) undergoing a FreakyFridayFlip begin leaving notes for each other, sometimes with journal entries on their smartphones and sometimes by writing on their palms. PlayedForLaughs in one scene where they get frustrated with each others' actions and write things like "Stupid!" and "Jerk!" on each others' faces. [[spoiler:Then near the climax, they finally meet face-to-face and write their names on the other's palms so they can remember...except Mitsuha disappears before she can start. Later on, she finally looks at what Taki wrote and sees that it says "[[LoveConfession I love you]]"; as she cries, Mitsuha says that it doesn't do anything to help her remember his name. It ''does'' give her a much-needed HeroicSecondWind, though.]]
* In one chapter of ''Manga/UruseiYatsura'', Ataru undergoes a FreakyFridayFlip with...a ''school notebook.'' The result is Ataru's face stuck inside the notepad, while his EmptyShell body covered in equations and other notes.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Indirect example: Brian had Dave and Bob tattoo his spellbook on their characters in ''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable''.
* ''ComicBook/LeScorpion'': In ''The Treasure of the Templars'', it is revealed that Rochnan was punished for pretending to convert to Islam by having the 99 names of Allah tattooed over his body.
* One of the villains in Matt Fraction's ''ComicBook/{{Casanova}}'' hid the map to his money in invisible ink on the nubile flesh of a band of pop-singer assassins.
* Parodied in ''Magazine/{{Mad}}'', in which one student writes an entire essay on his arms and has to wear long-sleeved shirts for the entire month of May lest he reveal his cheating.
* Lyssa Drak of [[Franchise/GreenLantern the Sinestro Corps]]. After [[TomeOfEldritchLore the Book of Parallax]] is lost, which contains the life story of every member of the Sinestro Corps, and every atrocity they have done in the name of fear, she proceeds to write all their contents ''by burning into her skin with her ring''.
* Solomon O'Sullivan, a minor character from the Milligan/Allred era of ''ComicBook/XForce'', has the mutant power to make words appear on his skin, which then quickly flakes off. Sometimes he can consciously control this (eg to create mildly creepy business cards) but sometimes they are spontaneous and either revealing or prophetic.

%%* ''Literature/ThePillowBook''
* The Tattoo in ''Film/BulletProofMonk'' magically [[spoiler:transfers to Jade and Car when they take over the magic duties]].
* Dan, the son of ''Film/{{Yellowbeard}}'', has a treasure-map tattood on his head.
* This was also done in ''Film/CutthroatIsland'', where one-third of a treasure map is tattooed on the scalp of the heroine's father. After he gets killed at the beginning of the movie, she cuts it off of him and takes it with her, as he'd instructed while dying.
* In ''Film/WaterWorld'', [[spoiler: the little girl who serves as the heroine's MoralityPet]] has a treasure map tattoo that [[spoiler: leads to the surviving last dry land on the planet.]]
* Leonard Shelby of ''Film/{{Memento}}'' uses tattoos as a NoteToSelf to make up for his inability to form new memories.
* Happens in the film version of ''Film/HarrietTheSpy'' in the form of "foot tattoos" shared between friends.
* In ''Film/{{Looper}}'', [[CarvedMark carved directions on the arm]] are used as a way of [[WriteBackToTheFuture communication between young and old time travellers]].
* The second ''Film/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians'' movie has Mr. D write reminders on his hand because he can't be bothered to remember anyone's name or the details of the speech he's about to make.
* The villain in ''Film/CapeFear (1991)'' has lines from the bible tattooed all over his body.
* ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad''. After being captured by the War Boys, Max has everything they know about him (mostly medical information relevant to his use as a bloodbag) forcibly tattooed on his back. Nux has scarification on his chest in the [[CargoCult shape of a V8 engine]]. The most extreme example is Miss Giddy, who has covered almost every inch of her body in tattoos [[AllThereInTheManual meant to record history in the absence of books]].
* Gray from ''Film/{{Snowpiercer}}'' is TheVoiceless, but has various common phrases tattooed on his arms and torso. He communicates by displaying or pointing to specific words when needed.

* [[spoiler:Vinculus]], from ''Literature/JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell'', is covered almost completely (with the exception of hands and face) in the prophecy of the Raven King. After it is fulfilled, it shifts into the Raven King's magic book.
* ''Creator/CliveBarker's Book of Blood''
* ''Literature/TheDeathGateCycle'': Two races of rune-wielding demigods exists: The Sartans, who inscribe InstantRunes by moving their hands and feet - essentially 'dancing' the magic out; and the Patryns who follow this trope. They tattoo magical runes across their entire body (except the head, where it would disturb the process of free thought) and can thus call out their power at will.
* In ''Literature/{{Inkheart}}'', many of the BigBad's conjured creatures end up with lines of text in awkward places on their skin (like diagonally across their faces) due to a MalfunctionMalady of sorts. This carries over to the film version
* In Bolesław Leśmian's book version of ''Literature/SinbadTheSailor'', the protagonist's poet uncle laments that his poems always get destroyed one way or another, no matter on what media he records them. Eventually, he tattoos all his poems on his body.
* In Literature/NightLords, given the unpredictable nature of his [[CursedWithAwesome visions]] Talos will often scrawl portions of prophecy on his [[PoweredArmor warplate]], since it may be the only way for him to remember what the heck he just saw. Unfortunately, it makes him distinctly distinguishable as a much coveted prophet of the VIII Legion.
* In the Literature/PhryneFisher novel ''Away With the Fairies'', the RuthlessModernPirates carve their ransom demands into Li Pen's chest and send him back to Lin's family as a warning.
* The titular protagonist of Peter V. Brett's ''Literature/TheWardedMan'' (and sequels), has magical wards tattooed over most of his body, they allow him to fight and kill [[OurDemonsAreDifferent corelings]] hand-to-hand.
* In Chapter 102 ("A Bower in the Arsacides") of ''Literature/MobyDick'', Ishmael mentions recording the dimensions of a whale skeleton on his arm, "as in my wild wanderings at that period, there was no other secure way of preserving such valuable statistics." (He omits the inches, as he was saving room for a poem.)
* The heroine of ''Mr Meeson's Will'' by Creator/HriderHaggard has the eponymous will tattooed on her back after she and Meeson are stranded on a desert island with no writing materials.
* The {{Humanoid Alien|s}} Aimians in ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'' can alter their appearance at will, a talent that Axies the Collector uses to cover his body with research notes in case he's robbed. Since his first appearance is [[WhatDidIDoLastNight waking up naked in an alleyway with a raging hangover]] and no recollection of the previous day, it comes in quite handy.

[[folder:Live Action TV ]]
* Toby in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit": Whilst he's controlled by the Beast, Toby's eyes {{glow|ingEyesOfDoom}} {{red|EyesTakeWarning}} and his body is covered with inscrutable symbols written in what appears to be sharpie.
** Later in "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon", the Doctor's companions write tallies on themselves to remind them of encounters with [[spoiler:the Silence]].
*** For some reason, they like to do it on their faces, where they can't see it until they look in the mirror.
*** Although, to be fair, they appear to not start making tallies on their faces until they have filled up their arms and hands.
*** And in the beginning of "The Wedding of River Song".
* Michael Scofield, of ''Series/PrisonBreak'', had the details of his escape plan and blueprints of the entire prison tattooed on his body, albeit hidden within geometric shapes and images of angels and demons.
** How ''did'' he get such an elaborate tattoo(s) done in the time between his brother was convicted and was sentenced to die?
* An ep of ''Series/{{CSINY}}'' had a vic covered in writing rolled in a carpet; he was a writer killed by the guy he was plagiarising who had a condition that compelled him to write on any surface.
* Something to this effect appears to be happening to [[spoiler:Max]] in ''Series/DarkAngel''.
* Short, dramatic example: On ''Series/{{Lost}}'', [[spoiler:Charlie]] writes [[spoiler:"NOT PENNY'S BOAT"]] on his hand as [[spoiler:the room he's in fills with water]] to tell [[spoiler:Desmond]].
* In season 4 of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' the season's BigBad is a man with terrakinesis. He uses his ability to leave messages in ink on his mooks (and form a strangling hand if they anger him)
* In ''Series/RedDwarf'', Rimmer attempts to cheat his way through an exam by covering his entire body (save his hands and face - and buttocks) with written notes. On trying to look at the ones on his forearm, he finds his sweat has smudged them into complete illegibility. This doesn't stop him from wrapping his hand around his forearm and slapping it down on the exam paper, in an insane hope that the words would somehow form themselves. (He then stands up, salutes his examining officer and faints in the middle of the classroom.)
* ''Series/{{Brimstone}}'' : Zeke Stone has the names of the 113 damned souls he's hunting tattooed on his body, 'penned in [the Devil's] native tongue'. When he sends a damned soul back, their name is removed, painfully.
** This causes a problem when he sleeps with a woman, unaware that she's one of the escaped souls. She reads her name on his chest and realises what Zeke's task is.
* In ''Series/{{MASH}}'', Klinger does this to cheat on a test, requiring him to perform some rather odd gymnastics in order to see the answers.
** "Who said, "Damn the torpedoes!! Full Speed Ahead?" His answer: Tugarraf!
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'' did this in Angel's dream sequence in "Release". The shaman who removed Angel's soul had writing all over his body and the team had to decipher it.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. In "Restless" Willow's dream begins with an erotic scene in which she paints Sappho's ''Hymn to Aphrodite'' in Greek letters on the back of a naked Tara. And in "Villains" she absorbs several TomeOfEldritchLore -- the text is seen flowing across her skin until its reaches her face and gives Willow BlackEyesOfEvil.
* ''Series/ChourikiSentaiOhranger'': Gorou gets the code Red Puncher needs to combine with Ohranger Robo printed on his back by the memory pack containing it when said pack is destroyed.
* On ''Series/TheWhispers'', the bearded John Doe, who is later discovered to be [[spoiler:Agent Claire Bennigan's missing husband]], initially wakes up extremely disoriented and his body covered in mysterious tattoos. New ones appear as omens/signals to the next step in the mysterious "Drill"'s plans.
* In ''Series/{{Blindspot}}'', the amnesiac Jane Doe's body is almost completely covered in tattoos that form clues to the dates and addresses for future crimes. In a bit of RealityEnsues, her skin is very raw and sore, and the others are horrified to realize the tattoos were applied all at once about a week ago.
* ''Series/{{Elementary}}'': In the season 3 episode ''Art in Blood'', Sherlock and Joan detect coded tattoos made in invisible UV-sensitive ink all over a victim's chest and arms.
* ''Series/TheOA'': Has prisoners in a demented test learn of a series of movements that may have the power to save them. Since they are told memory loss might be a side effect of using the movements, they make an effort to remember them by cutting ciphers detailing them into their backs.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* Jeremy in ''ComicStrip/{{Zits}}'' frequently writes notes all over his body, leading Walt to refer to him as "Our son. The human Post-It note."
* In ''ComicStrip/DickTracy'', George Ozone tattooed a treasure map on to the insoles of the feet of his sons. [[ShootTheBuilder He then killed the tattoo artist]].

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* During the build-up to WrestleMania 28, John Cena showed the audience that the Rock had notes for his promo written on his arm.
* In the mid-1990's, there was a Japanese wrestler named Hakushi who had Japanese characters all over his body, including his face.[[note]]His gimmick was based in Hoichi the Earless, a character from Japanese folklore who painted his body with Buddhist sutras to evade a phantasmal curse.[[/note]] Jerry Lawler called him "The Human Cheat Sheet".

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* A few classes in ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' can scribe magic scrolls onto their skin; the ink or scars remain until read to cast the spell, and then vanish. The 3.5 Edition supplement ''Complete Arcane'' also provided rules for wizards to use tattoos as a spell book.
* TabletopGame/{{Talislanta}}n [[ProudWarriorRace Thralls]], although this is partly because they'd all look the same otherwise.
* Runemasters in ''TabletopGame/WorldOfWarcraftTheRoleplayingGame'' tend to completely cover themselves with runic tattoos.
* [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=74604 Reki, the History of Kamigawa]] in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering''.
-->''"After his death, monks spent ten years transcribing the tattoos from Reki's body and gathering stories from those who spoke with him. Thus the volume you hold was written."''
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}, the Word Bearers Chaos Space Marine Erebus had passages from the Book of Lorgar tattooed on his face.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Nameless One in ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'', put there by a previous incarnation as a NoteToSelf.
-->"''No wonder my back hurts; there's a damn novel inscribed there!''"
* In ''VideoGame/{{Rift}}'', the Defiant faction's resident [[FiveRaces stouts]] canonically have this as a cultural trait:
-->"The [[ProudWarriorRace Bahmi]] cover themselves in very intricate and magical tattoos called "sefir". The application of sefir is all that remains of the Bahmi's elemental heritage, and they [[StoryboardBody recognize great accomplishments in a Bahmi's life]]. The tattoos recount the personal histories of each Bahmi, while also [[PowerTattoo providing a sizable source of imbued elemental power]]."
* In ''VideoGame/TheCurseOfMonkeyIsland'', one character has the only map to a certain island -- tattooed on his back. Yes, you do have to get it off. No, we won't say how. [[YouDoNOTWantToKnow You don't want to know]].
* In ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'', the English defector who invented the Nova 6 chemical is covered in tattoos of mathematical and scientific formulas.
* In ''VideoGame/NieR'', spontaneous development of writing on the body is the namesake symptom of the Black Scrawl.

* Mnemosyne in ''Webcomic/ZeusAndSons'' has tattoos of things she should try to remember. Including one that urges her to "find a solution in case writing space runs out".

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJyelcnINH0 A sketch]] by Derrick Comedy features a man who tattoos himself to remind himself what dicks look like.
* Sarah of ''WebVideo/MidnightScreenings'' tends to write the trailers on her arms, so she doesn't forget them when she's discussing movies with her fellow reviewers.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Used for humorous effect in ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'': When the Griffins go to a prison, they have to write a lengthy contract on a prisoner's buttocks with a shard of glass as he screams in pain. Peter makes a mistake and proceeds to 'erase' it causing the man to collapse, presumably dead.
* A squicky variation shows up in ''WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce'', when Carl and Master Shake anger a forest of talking trees. The trees hang Carl up by his feet and tear off pieces of his skin to write notes on during his "trial".
* ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' writes notes to herself on her arm before heading to the matchmaker, although they are washed off during the scrubdown she is administered by her mother and grandmother making the script non-legible.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', when Fry becomes the emperor of a race of liquid people after [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt accidentally drinking the previous one]], he is required at his coronation to recite the oath of office (a LongList of how [[KlingonPromotion each emperor dispatched the last]]) by memory, and gets by by writing it on the inside of his arm.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/CampLazlo'', some insects bit Raj in order to make him into a treasure map.
* Homer from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' has written notes on himself in some episodes.
** When he became an ad for blue pants, he ended up writing other ads. It turns out the one about eating Maine potatoes wasn't an ad, but a note to self.
** When Springfield was divided into two phone areas, Homer had the second area code written on himself, as well as a reminder that, out of his [[ThoseTwoGuys two best friends and co-workers]], Lenny was the white one and Carl was the black one ("I think that's right.").
** When Homer entered a Catholic school, he wrote onto his right arm a long word and on his left one "God=Good Devil=Bad".
** In "Lard of the Dance", Homer writes "Red=Meltdown" on his arm.
** In "Homer Goes to College", Homer plans to cheat by writing the entire periodic table on his arm until one of his tutors points out that he would never be able to fit the entire thing.
** In "The Last Temptation of Homer" Homer writes a LetsJustBeFriends speech on his hand but when the time comes for him to deliver it to his attractive co-worker he finds that his nervous sweating has rendered it illegible. We also see another man reading the note on his hand, which starts with 'I am tired of these jokes about my giant hand' and then continues as an extensive essay.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Stoked}}'': In "Dirty Little Secret, Nerdy Little Secrets", Emma writes a long screed that covers both of Fin's arms, reminding Fin to wake her up to go training. Fin apparently does not notice till Broseph points it out to her.

[[folder: Real Life]]
* People write on their hands all the time. Reminders, doodles, attempts to cheat, etc.
* Some people tattoo a word or brief phrase of sentimental significance to them somewhere on their body, like the wrists or bicep.
* MMA champion Creator/BasRutten used to draw a big R on the back of his hands before every match to remind himself to relax during the brawl, in order to keep himself from gassing out.