[[quoteright:330:[[Film/{{Hitman}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/scannablemanpicture.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:330:Attention, UsefulNotes/{{Kmart}} shoppers: we have a blue light special on BadAss...]]

Simply put, the use of barcode tattoos in futuristic settings, particularly of the {{dystopia}}n flavor. Maybe it's to mark them as being property of some MegaCorp or a NebulousEvilOrganization. Maybe they're [[CloningBlues clones]], [[WeWillUseManualLaborInTheFuture slaves]], or prisoners. Maybe it [[RuleOfCool just looks cool.]] Whatever it is, barcode tattoos are appearing more and more often in fiction.

Most often these tattoos are on the nape of the neck, but they can be in other places, as the picture shows us.

This can be a TruthInTelevision: A lot of these people actually think that these tattoos look ''cool'' or BadAss. Anyone who's ever used an actual UPC scanner knows they sure aren't ''feasible''; even minor printing errors render barcodes printed on paper, plastic or metal unscannable, and tattoos tend to dissipate with age. Even fresh ones would be distorted whenever skin is stretched by movement.

A related trope in futures that are more {{Zeerust}} [[LighterAndSofter than dystopian]] is the barcode license plate, often an accompaniment to flying cars but seldom accompanied by the owner-applied markings on nearly every vehicle that would be necessary for owners of popular cars to find them in crowded parking lots without special equipment. No one explains why law enforcement doesn't object to license plates which human eyewitnesses to crimes can't possibly read. RealLife Automatic License Plate Readers have made barcode license plates unnecessary.

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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/TheBigO''. [[MindScrew It gets kinda hard to tell]].
* They're standard on one specific moon in ''CowboyBebop''; Faye identifies an old "friend" by recognizing his.
* The eponymous {{Nora}} has one - inside an inverted pentagram, no less - to indicate that he's a member of the Dark Liege's Army. Interestingly, the DLA is actually the [[strike: good]] less-bad of the two demon factions.
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'': Stiyl Magnus, under the eye.
* "Barcode Kougaiji" in ''Manga/{{Saiyuki}}'' after he's reprogrammed by Goukumen and Nii.
* ''WildArms: Twilight Venom'' - Sheyenne Rainstorm has one on the sole of his right foot. (It's not, strictly speaking, ''his'' right foot, though....)
* ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'': Criminals in Neo Domino City -- including TheHero, natch -- are marked with barcode tattoos so they can be tracked after they're released from prison. Marked criminals become societal outcasts, with no choice but to live in the Satellite (if they weren't originally from there already, which is highly likely).
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''[[XForce X-Statix]]'', the villainous cult leader Mr. Code has a [[TheBlank blank mask]] with a barcode printed on it.
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[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* Parodied in the AffectionateParody fanfic of ''VideoGame/{{Hitman}} 2'', ''FanFic/HitmanMiami''. In one of the missions, 47's barcode will set off an alarm as he leaves a supermarket, subjecting him to a [[NonstandardGameOver traumatizing cavity search]]; to avoid this, he must rub his head across a cashier's barcode scanner, which then displays "GNTCLY ENGNRD CLONE: $12.32".
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[[folder:Film]]
* The future convicts in ''Film/TwelveMonkeys'' are marked with barcodes on the neck. Cole's tattoo is scanned when he is brought in front of the scientists.
* ''Film/{{Alien 3}}'': The convicts all have barcodes in the neck, and Ripley identifies the doctor as being one of them, rather than someone employed there, by the fact that he's got a barcode, too. He later tells her that he is actually a previous convict.
* Gleefully turned into a gag in ''Film/{{Idiocracy}}''.
* ''Film/TheIsland''. The clones have a bar code on their wrists, which is one way of identifying them from the real ones.
* ''Film/{{Pandorum}}''. The crew and colonists on board the spaceship have their department (Agriculture, Flight Team, etc) tattooed on their arm. The tattoo is somehow printed so that, even though a colonist waking up from hypersleep has to [[{{Squick}} peel off their dead skin]], a fresh tattoo exists underneath. To access areas the computer scans both the tattoo and their palmprint.
* ''ThePhiladelphiaExperimentII'': The Nazis tattoo barcodes on Americans as identification, and use scanning devices to determine whether or not a barcode is fake.
* ''Film/TheTerminator'' had Kyle Reese's robot-run concentration camp barcode which had been burnt into his arm via laser. From his description of the place, fading with age was pretty much a non-issue.
* In the ''Film/BladeTrilogy'', humans who serve the Vampires as "Familiars" are tattooed with their master's clan glyph. It's not laser-scannable, but it does serve to identify them to other Vampires. Like slaves in ancient times, killing them will mean that the offending vampire will have to answer to the human's master.
* In ''Film/CubeZero'', the Cube prisoners have bar codes tattooed onto their arms.
* In ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'', Magneto's katzetnik, used to show off his history of being mistreated.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* The eponymous heroine of the novel ''JenniferGovernment'' has a barcode tattoo beneath her eye (as depicted on the cover), but it is purely a cosmetic thing she had done herself, not for identification. The tattoo is revealed late in the novel as the UPC for [[spoiler:Malibu Barbie]], a reference to her previous job at Creator/{{Mattel}}. On the book cover itself, however, it is the barcode for the book itself so that it could be scanned by the cashier.
* There's a novel for teenagers called ''The Bar Code Tattoo''. The book, along with it's sequel, ''The Bar Code Rebellion'', takes place in a futuristic version of the US where every citizen who is seventeen or older is required by law to become one of these. The eponymous tattoo grants the wearer access to their bank accounts, medical insurance, and just about everything else you can think of, making it a sort of modern day MarkOfTheBeast. Unfortunately, the tattoo also contains your genetic code, which can be read by anyone who scans it. In other words, if you have inferior genetics (read: genes for mental ilness or physical disability), the tattoo will make you a social outcast that no legitimate institution will have anything to do with. Understandably, this fact causes a fair amount of resistance to the tattoo.
* In ''ThisPerfectDay'', they don't have tattoos, but they do have steel bracelets with unbreakable chains that everyone is forced to wear. The bracelet has your [[YouAreNumberSix nameber]], and must be touched to a scanner whenever going through a door, so that the [[MasterComputer supercomputer that rules the world]] can keep track of you.
* Barcodes appear on just about everything in the world of Fforde's ''Literature/ShadesOfGrey''.
** Which oddly enough overlaps with AuthorAppeal
* In the early books of the ''Dumarest of Terra'' series, Earl Dumarest's credit account is tattooed into his forearm, to be read -- and altered as necessary -- by magnetic scanner.
* The protagonist in Creator/RichardKMorgan's ''Literature/AlteredCarbon'' muses that "anyone who bar-codes their employees isn't likely to be the forgiving type".
* The slaves genetically engineered by [[EvilutionaryBiologist Mesa]] in ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' have barcodes on their tongues. They're not tattooed there; they're a combination of natural pigment and patterns of taste buds. Even if you cut the tongue off and regenerated it, the barcode would grow right back; it is ''possible'' to eliminate the mark, but it takes way more medical resources than most former slaves could ever get their hands on.
* The title character in [[RobertHeinlein Robet Heinlein's]] novel ''{{Literature/Friday}}'' describes AP's (Artificial People; in other words, genetically engineered designer humans) as being required to have identifying tattoos designating them as such. (Being a covert agent, Friday herself has had hers surgically removed.)
* In the first of Richard K. Morgan's TakeshiKovacs novels, the protagonist is surprised to see [[TattooedCrook criminals on Earth wearing barcodes as a gang tattoo]], as on the world he grew up they have UnfortunateImplications of indentured labor.
* In ''East of Ealing'', the third book in Creator/RobertRankin's ''Brentford Trilogy'', the bad guys plan to barcode the entire population. The barcode turns out to be the NumberOfTheBeast.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The transgenics in ''DarkAngel''. Bonus points for it being genetically engineered into them, so if it's lasered off, it comes back.
* Resistance Fighters sent back in time from the post-apocalyptic future of ''TheSarahConnorChronicles'' often sport bar-code tattoos due to time spent in Skynet work camps. See ''{{Terminator}}'' under film examples above.
* Sort-of subverted in ''Series/SevenDays'', where chrononauts for Project Backstep have a serial number tattoo to confirm their identity upon arrival.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'' that was scripted but never filmed (does that count?) had Kramer change his name to a bar code tattooed to his butt.
* ''Series/{{MADtv}}'' did a parody of Wal-Mart where the employees had barcodes on their arms.
* British drama series ''Series/TheLastEnemy'' gives us a modern spin on this trope at the climax: [[spoiler:implanted RFID chips.]]
* ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise''. In "Stratagem" Captain Archer does a FakedRipVanWinkle on an alien scientist, trying to convince him that they've spent the past few years in prison -- the "evidence" include tattooing both their arms with prison barcodes.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''. In "Scientific Method", Voyager crewmembers start falling ill or undergoing physical changes. The Doctor is surprised to find their DNA marked with microscopic barcodes, a sign that aliens have been doing secret medical experiments.
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[[folder:Music]]
* The album art to ''Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too'' by New Radicals features a series of photographs of [[IAmTheBand Gregg Alexander]] with bar codes stamped on different parts of his body. The only exception is a photo where he's basically just a [[EnergyBeing glowing white silhouette]].
* The video for Do the Evolution by Pearl Jam features new born babies on a conveyor belt getting bar codes stamped on to their foreheads.
* The album art for Music/{{Epica}}'s ''Requiem For The Indifferent'' includes a bar code tattoo on Simone's upper right arm. [[http://www.nuclearblast.de/de/data/bands/epica/releases/epica-requiem-for-the-indifferent.jpg The entire cover]] gives off a distinctly dystopian vibe.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' has tongue tattoos.
* In one ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' supplement, call girls had bar codes tattooed on them, presumably to make it easier to scan them and total up the client's bill.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Used in an episode of ''ReBoot'' that flashed forward to a BadFuture.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''GuiltyGear'': Potemkin has one on his ([[MightyGlacier massive]]) left bicep. [[SpriteMirroring Unfortunately...]]
* As seen above, ''VideoGame/{{Hitman}}'''s hero, Agent 47, has one on the back of his skull. The barcode is a fully functional one, and scanning it reveals it's for a "Drawstring Double Dong Dildo Holder in Midnight Blue". One has to wonder whether this was intentional or if the creators just put in a random barcode which coincidentally belonged to an unfortunate item.
** He tries scalp the tattoo off his head in ''Absolution'', since he's had enough with the Agency. That ought to be quite painful.
* Raiden of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'' is revealed to be covered in bar code tattoos during the naked sneaking section of the game. Bonus: Jackie boy is [[HeroicAlbino pasty enough]] to presumably make said bar codes legible to laser scanners twenty paces away.
** Continued in ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance'', Raiden's upgraded body has a barcode on his forehead, as does [[PsychopathicManchild Sundowner]].
* The [=HUmar=] in ''PhantasyStarOnline'' has a hairstyle which consists of a Mohawk and a barcode.
* In ''Saints Row the Third'' you can buy a barcode tattoo for the forehead.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* All citizens of Derse and Prospit have barcode tattoos in ''{{Homestuck}}'', for reasons currently unknown, but it brought back "painful memories" for the Wayward Vagabond and [[spoiler:Spades Slick used it to open Lord English's safe]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* In GaiaOnline, you can get these [[http://www.tektek.org/gaia/item_search.php?s=barcode all over, in a rainbow of colours]], as modeled [[http://www.tektek.org/avatar/37067366 here]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Some U.S. Christian fundamentalists believe that a future U.S. government, under the control of TheAntichrist, will put bar code tattoos on people, thus fulfilling the "MarkOfTheBeast" prophecy.
** With RFID tags in the 21st century, the [[http://www.rfid-666.com self-proclaimed prophets]] [[http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/05/rfid_chip_boycott/ have]] [[http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/06/70308 caught up.]]
* The original katzetnik. True, they weren't barcodes, but they were unique serial numbers tattooed as identification on the arms of people interned in Auschwitz. Katzetnik tattoos are often shown as a visual shorthand for Holocaust survivors, as with the [[TheMovie film version]] of {{Magneto}}.
* Cliff's Amusement Park in Albuquerque, NM uses bar codes to mark patrons that have bought an unlimited ride pass. Stationary scanners on some rides and handheld scanners on others check the bar code. It's a bracelet, though, tattooing not required.
** Similarly, Blackberry phones running [=BlackBerry=] Messenger can generate a unique 2D barcode, called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code QR Code]] (looks like a square made up of a bunch of blocks) that other Blackberrys can scan using the built-in camera to transfer contact information with relative ease. They even have an app so you can throw your barcode up on your Facebook.
* Entertainer, visionary, and [[CrazyAwesome completely bonkers musician]] DoctorSteel sports a 47-style barcode tattoo on the back of his neck.
* ID-number tattoos are a common means of identifying racehorses and other valuable livestock. Technology has improved to the point that high-end research laboratories can actually buy an automated machine capable of tattooing ID-numbers on a mouse's tail, to take the place of old-fashioned ear tags.
* Creator/HenryRollins used to have a bar code tattooed on his neck, but later changed it to the Music/BlackFlag 4-flag symbol.
* [[http://mashable.com/2011/07/08/qr-code-tattoo/ This fellow steps it up to a QR tattoo.]]
* [[http://www.flickr.com/photos/peque/6164470489/in/photostream And another one.]] The first one doesn't scan, but the picture below it does.
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