"It is the old wound, my king! It has never healed."Scar tissue is assorted connective tissue the body produces in an attempt to close up an injury. While sturdy, it tends to lose the original tissue function, including touch and feel. In real life, pain in scars is usually caused by sensitivity in the skin around the scar rather than in it. In fiction, this tissue has an interesting ability to ache or throb when someone's old nemesis comes by, especially if the injury was caused by said villain. (Such significant injuries are of course also permanent). Achey Scars can also refer to scars that were acquired a lifetime ago that still make the bearer gasp or cry out when touched by either a love interest or a particularly perverse big bad. See also I'm Having Soul Pains and Wound That Will Not Heal.
— Sir Lancelot, Excalibur
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Yukito was born with a scar in AIR that suddenly relives the time that his past life received the same scar, causing Yukito to collapse to the floor. Justified since his past life was the victim of a curse for being too close to Kanna, resulting in the wound not healing properly. Yukito began to suffer it because was likewise getting too close to Kanna's own reincarnation of that time period, Misuzu.
- In Ai Yori Aoshi, Kaoru's scars (the result of years of child abuse at the hands of his grandfather) have a tendency to ache whenever he's reminded of his family (whether during flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety attacks, etc.). It's a major point in the plot's resolution when they finally stop hurting.
- Also, they tend to hurt less when in presence of his Victorious Childhood Friend Aoi.
- In One Piece, Shanks says that the three scars on his left eye, made years ago by Blackbeard, have started to ache at the same time that Ace is dueling with Blackbeard on Banaro Island.
- Whitebeard's also complained of aches from scars he received from Shanks' old captain.
- Duval's scar on his back used to hurt whenever he thought about Sanji. It was forgotten about when he underwent a heel face turn.
- Shortly before the Timeskip, Luffy got a scar on his chest from admiral Akainu. First time Akainu is mentioned after the timeskip, Luffy takes a hand to his scar and squints one of his eyes as if in pain, implying that this trope also has affected him.
- Whitebeard's also complained of aches from scars he received from Shanks' old captain.
- Turn A Gundam goes so far as to apply this to the eponymous Gundam's Evil Counterpart, the Turn X, which sports an X-shaped scar across its chest (apparently from its last encounter with the Turn A) that glows in the presence of its "brother".
- Getter Robo has Hayato Jin, whose scars are normally invisible but suddenly flare up all over his body when tense.
- Eiji Date from Hajime no Ippo has a scar on his nose bridge, which hurts sometimes when it's cold or he's tense. He got it in his match with Ricardo Martinez, which he lost badly and triggered his early retirement.
- It stops throbbing before his second match with Martinez, signifying that his career had come full circle.
- Cain in Count Cain has whip scars across his back, inflicted by his father, which ache whenever his father's evil organisation is doing something bad, i.e., near constantly.
- Most of Xanxus' scars in Katekyo Hitman Reborn! remain hidden until he gets really really angry.
- Eureka gains a lot of scars in Eureka Seven after certain episode, which stick around for most of the series.
- In Saiyuki Hakkai's old scar sometimes aches when it rains.
- The Brands of Sacrifice act as this for Guts and Casca of Berserk when demons draw near, doubling as Wounds That Will Not Heal as well.
- Dilandau has one inflicted by Van in Escaflowne.
- In Ultimate Muscle, the scars from Ramenman's coma-inducing head injury reopen when he passes by Lord Flash (who is actually Warsman, the one who inflicted the injury in the first place).
- In Bleach, chapter 523 reveals that Unohana and Kenpachi have scars that ache whenever they are near each other since each is responsible for the other's scar.
- In the epilogue of Busou Renkin Tokiko finally explains the origins of the scar across her nose, and mentions that it's still sensitive enough to detect air patterns. Also, apparently having Kazuki touch it produces a calming sensation.
- Superintendent Matsumoto from Detective Conan says that the massive scar he has on his left eye has started to hurt a LOT through the investigation of a case involving a Serial Killer who both murdered his best friend and partner and caused said scar 20 years ago. Later, he explains that said scar stopped hurting towards he end of the investigation, which he sees as a sign that it's time to move on.
- HERZ: Even after twelve years, the scars that Asuka received when she battled the MP-Evas still hurt. Her blind eye bleeds every so often.
She had told him before that the injuries throbbed with a dull, constant and persistent ache.
- The Bridge: A scar Godzilla Junior got from Destroyah aches whenever he thinks about that day, the same day as the death of his father.
- In Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, Tok the Younger bears a scar in place of a lost eye. The scar itches in the presence of magic and during pivotal scenes whose outcome further the novels' plot(s).
- In Inheritance Cycle Eragon has a scar on his back through most of Eldest, left by the Shade Durza that continues to cause debilitating spasms of pain throughout the book. Presumably it was some magic in the wizard's sword. Fortunately for Eragon, it goes away when he gets transformed into some sort of human/elf hybrid towards the end of the book.
- Harry Potter, although there is an active magical component to his scar.
- And once the magical part goes away his scar never hurts again.
- In addition to the lightning bolt scar he got as an infant, which was explicitly magical, he acquires another one in book five after the Tyrant Takes the Helm. Professor Umbridge forces him to write lines with a magical quill that carves what he wrote into the back of his hand. This left the lines permanently scarred into his hand, and they tingle every time he thinks of Umbridge. Whether this is psychological, or if it's just another perk of the quill is unknown.
- The Lord of the Rings, where Frodo's injury from a cursed weapon aches when the One Ring's power is active, specifically during the Council scene when Gandalf reads the inscription. In the book, he falls horribly ill on every October 6 thereafter, the date he acquired the injury. If Gandalf's quote about the Shadow (read: evil) returning is to be believed, Frodo might actually have a connection with any malevolence left in the world. On top of the knife-wound, the place he got stung by Shelob (an Eldritch Abomination in her own right) aches. So does the stump of finger that Gollum bit off, which might have less to do with the wound and more that it lost him the Ring. All of this makes life in Middle-earth painful, and he's eventually invited to the Undying Lands in hopes that he can be fully healed there.
- Gurney Halleck, from Frank Herbert's Dune series, has a deep-red scar down one side of his face which causes residual pain at times of great stress.
- Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick can apparently feel in his missing leg whether Moby Dick is nearby, although his insanity makes it hard to tell if this is actually true.
- Ahab also sports a (presumably) body-length scar obtained either from the whale or the incident with the Spaniard. It functions as a lesser form of the leg, contributing to his madness.
- Carnival of the Deepgate Codex series has a multitude of scars, which constrict and even start bleeding when she's in a state of mental trauma.
- Kavi, in the Farsala Trilogy, had his hand badly scarred by a deghan as a child, and it still pains him as a young man.
- In The Tenets of Futilism, Sasha never quite recovers from having her arms and stomach cut up by cultists. Even after the wounds close and scar, she still occasionally feels pain in them.
- In The Wheel of Time series, main protagonist Rand al'Thor gets not one, but two. The first is taken in a fight with the Dark One's Dragon. It's not able to heal, but at least the Aes Sedai keep it from spreading. He then gets a second on right next to it from a Darkfriend wielding a cursed weapon. The healers aren't even able to contain the second wound, so how do they keep it from killing him? Why, release the bonds on the first wound so that the two corruptions fight each other rather than spread. This keeps Rand alive, but in constant pain.
- The scars that mark Matthew Swift as the Midnight Mayor often burn and fill with blood, primarily in the presence of powerful magic.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy shows Frodo Baggins receive a painful scar that nearly kills him, and it just about serves as the Trope Codifier. The Nazgul confront him and his friends on Weathertop and attack them; it is in the ensuing battle that Frodo receives a wound from his enemy that will never fully heal. In The Return of the King, Frodo's journey takes him right next to the castle owned by the Nazgul that stabbed him; ironically, at the same time that Frodo must pass the castle, the Nazgul journeys out of the castle to oversee the transport of his troops. Though he is unaware of Frodo's presence, he still screams; once Frodo hears it, he clutches his scar in agony, saying to his companion, "I can feel his blade." As in the book, the pain that occurs on every anniversary of Weathertop on top of his psychological scars is bad enough that he leaves for the Undying Lands. (The pain from Shelob's sting and his severed finger isn't explicitly mentioned, but it's not discounted either.)
- Justified in Final Justice. Sheriff Geronimo was shot in the gut prior to the film's events and it never fully healed. Spicy food especially causes it to hurt, so he often requests milk or maalox to soothe it.
Live Action TV
- In Once Upon a Time, Granny has a nasty looking one on her arm that aches every month on the full moon because it's the wound she got when she became a werewolf.
- Castle: After Beckett is shot in the season 3 finale, she complains a few episodes into season 4 that the scar from the bullet wound and subsequent surgeries sometimes pulls.
- In the Street Fighter Alpha series, any time Ryu and Sagat meet up, Sagat clutches the massive scar Ryu gave him on his chest... which glows.
- Tsukihime: The scar on Shiki's chest tends to hurt whenever he sees traffic accidents or large quantities of blood... but also seems to have a distressing tendency to bleed in really stressful situations.
- Possibly because SHIKI/Roa is draining his life energy.
- Reiji in Namco × Capcom and Endless Frontier gets a pain in the scar over his temple whenever Saya, the fox-woman who gave it to him, is near.
- Fang had one in Final Fantasy XIII because her l'Cie scar has been warped and could not change since she was thawed out of her crystal.
- In Dragon Age II, the white scars all over Fenris' body cause him some fairly intense pain. Justified, as they're more like tattoos made out of lyrium than anything else, which has a well-documented range of nasty side effects.
- In RimWorld, poorly treated injuries can form scars that cause constant, but minor, pain. This causes a minor mood penalty, unless the character is a Masochist, which gives a mood boost instead.
- In Persona 2 it's more accurately a bruise. Maya has one on her chest in Eternal Punishment that started hurting when she first met "Deja Vu Boy". If the player finished Innocent Sin, it's obvious that the bruise comes from where Okamura delivered her fatal wound.
- Hanna Falk Cross from Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name is revealed to have a rather...interesting z-shaped scar running down his front, shut with surgical staples. When a ghost passes through that part of his body, he collapses and apparently is in immense pain.
- In Inverloch, the permanent bandage around Varden's right arm isn't for show. His arm broke when a guard almost hacked it off with a sword and it didn't heal properly, so Varden kept the bandage on for support and his arm hurts badly when he moves it the wrong way. When he does take the bandage off while washing, the scar is quite sizable.
- Siai from Aquapunkis often seen rubbing/stroking the scars around her wrists, which were rubbed raw from the heavy shackles she was forced to wear while in prison. This tends to happen when she's deep in thought, anxious, or both.
- In El Goonish Shive, Raven pretends to have these from an encounter with a wild boar in order to wield a concealed Sword Cane.
- In Transformers Animated, Ratchet finds his old war wound is acting up again. Turns out the Bounty Hunter who made it came to Earth to capture Optimus Prime.
- In a season 5 episode of American Dad!, one of Roger's alter-egos stabs Steve for not getting an anniversary present for their parents. He and Hailey flee to Argentina when his scar starts to hurt.
Steve: He's thinking about me!
- As the top layers of skin heal faster than lower layers, a scar can hurt for a while even after it appears healed, as the surface has closed but there is still an injury healing underneath.
- This type of pain is usually of psychological origins. For example, if you have a scar on your arm from a chainsaw-related accident, there's a great chance that if you even see a chainsaw, or hear it working, that scar will hurt a bit. See also: phantom pain.
- This can occur if a scar develops into a keloid. (WARNING: Disturbing photos.)
- Adhesions can result as a junction between scar and normal tissue. These hurt.
- Nerve damage can result in this too
- Or when the scar tissue is putting pressure on a nerve bundle.
- Scars (or, rather, the tissue around said scars) also tend to be painful well after the fact if they are in a particularly sensitive part of the body, eg the abdominal area.
- While it doesn't really ache as such, knocking a large scar against something like a table or door can make it feel odd and can make the surrounding area ache.
- Also, scars tend to be stiffer than the surrounding tissue. If the surrounding tissue happens to be a bicep, for example, it will hurt whenever you extend the arm and the scar gets streched. It gets better with time.