This is a tattoo that is actually its own living creature. Sometimes it is a two-dimensional animated being who is restricted to the surface it's inscribed upon, but other times it can leap off that surface and interact with the outside world as its own physical being.

The two-dimensional version can be PlayedForLaughs since it physically resides on its owner, while the three-dimensional version can overlap with SummonMagic, depending on whether or not the owner has control over it.

For when the pigment's on a canvas and not skin, try ArtInitiatesLife. See also PowerTattoo.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* A minor [[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual euphoric]] of ''Anime/SpeedGrapher'' can animate his tattoos. He prefers spiders, but also has knives and a shield.
* A literally small example in ''Manga/{{Boruto}}'', the ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' spinoff featuring the cast's kids' generation: [[spoiler:Sumire]] loses the MarkOfTheBeast that binds her to her personal summoned creature of mass destruction, but the bond she made with it creates a seal on her left palm in the shape of the eye in the center of the original tattoo. This time, blinking is a free action for it.
* In the PornWithPlot hentai OVA ''OniTensei'', the protagonist has the eponymous [[{{Youkai}} oni]] tattooed on her back, which can come alive and rip people to shreds when she is in danger. Unfortunately for her, it can also come alive on its own when it feels horny and a hot woman is nearby. [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane Or it may be just a hallucination of an abused girl.]]
* ''Manga/NatsumesBookOfFriends''. Natori has what appears to be a gecko "tattoo" that walks around his body, except for his left leg. It is actually a species of {{Youkai}} and not a tattoo at all, meaning that [[{{Muggles}} ordinary people]] cannot see it.
* ''Manga/SoulEater'''s Medusa has a pet snake that disguises itself as a tattoo. ...or is it a tattoo that becomes a snake?

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/DCUniverse: The Tattooed Man does this using magical ink. The second man to bear that name deserves special mention; two of his tattoos (Kabuki Dan and Alaara, a samurai and a succubus) eventually started coming to life of their own volition.
* Minor Franchise/{{Batman}} foe Pyx has this power.
%% * ''ComicBook/UltimateFantasticFour'''s ComicBook/DoctorDoom uses them to take over a country.
* Every member of the Gamelei Collective from ''ComicBook/WormwoodGentlemanCorpse'' is marked with a unique animal tattoo she can animate to destroy her enemies.
* An issue of CREEPY had a story called "Pelted" in it. It involved a mobster getting a demon tattooed on his chest for accomplishing his first kill. The demon in question is not very nice, nor still.
* In the "Fatal but Not Serious" story line of Adam Warren's ''ComicBook/DirtyPair'' comic run, an AxCrazy clone of Yuri gets a whole bunch of these.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' FanFic ''Fanfic/AfterTheEnd'', Charlie Weasley has a dragon tattoo that can move and breathe fire.
* In ''[[http://archiveofourown.org/works/616867 Left As Ghosts]]'', a {{Webcomic/Homestuck}} fanfic, Terezi's dragon tatoo is probably senitent, mght be able to read her thoughts, and is named Pyralspite. It can interact with the world, but that causes it to fade- requiring periodic touch ups with ink (and for it to absorb blood). It acts as armor for the skin its currently on, and helps Terezi navigate after losing her sight.
* In ''FanFic/ParisBurning'', the personification of the city of Paris has blue-and-green Celtic markings appear on his skin in response to certain emotional states. WordOfGod has it that various other personified European Cities with Celtic roots have similar markings.
* In ''FanFic/BloodAndRevolution'', Aoshi's tattoos start to move when [[spoiler: be begins to succumb to a chaos curse]].

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''Disney/{{Moana}}'': The demigod Maui's body is ''covered'' in these, and they spring to life at any given moment to either showcase his amazing feats (during his IAmGreatSong "You're Welcome" they provide ''all'' the visuals to what he's telling, almost turning it into a DisneyAcidSequence) -- or more often, silently criticize Maui's less-than-stellar actions in the present day (especially his tattoo of "Mini-Maui", which is a tattoo of ''himself'' that moves all over around his body and essentially represents Maui's "Higher Self" or conscience).

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action ]]
* ''Film/DuckSoup'': In this Creator/MarxBrothers movie, Harpo shows a tattoo of a doghouse -- and a live-action dog sticks his head out of it and barks.
* ''Film/{{Elektra}}'': One of the villains can bring the many animals tattooed on his body to life. Apparently its not that rare in that universe, either -- right before she kills him, Elektra quips [[PreAssKickingOneLiner "Nice trick, but I've seen it before."]]
* ''Film/TheTattooist'': A variation: tattoos as a form of curse that spreads over the body before poisoning the victim / drowning them in ink.

* Acheron, a god in Sherrilyn Kenyon's [[Literature/TheDarkHunters Dark Hunters]] series, has a tattoo that is also his personal demon Simi, literally..
* Pritkin and Mac's tattoos in the ''Literature/CassandraPalmer'' series.
* The Tattoo in ''Literature/{{Kraken}}'' is a mob boss. He literally is an intelligent, animate tattoo of a face covering some hapless man's back. The Tattoo wasn't always a tattoo-- a rival boss captured him and transformed him into one to eliminate him, but that didn't really take. The process of turning him into a tattoo also stripped him of his name, which is why he's only known as the Tattoo.
* [[http://www.southernfriedweirdness.com/magicneedles.htm This story]] as well.
* Creator/RayBradbury's ''The Illustrated Man'' featured tattoos that were animated and told stories as a framing device.
* ''Penny Dreadful'', a ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'' novel, features Baron, a mage who casts spells by making his tattoos come alive.
* In the ''Literature/CircleOfMagic'' books, the plant mage Briar tattoos vines on his hands to cover up the court-ordered X's identifying him as a thief. Because he uses vegetable-based dyes (he's a plant mage) and Sandry's magic needles, they come to life and move around under his skin, sometimes reflecting his moods (e.g., growing thorns when he's angry).
* ''Literature/{{Genome}}'', Creator/SergeyLukyanenko's novel, involved a character who had a tattoo of an imp on his shoulder. While not living per se, it was technically an LCD screen hooked up to his nervous system and effectively displays his emotions. He ''is'' a mutant whose emotions were altered (Case in point: as a genetically engineered pilot, he can only love [[CargoShip spaceships]]). He initially wears sleeveless shirts and considers getting a spacesuit with a transparent shoulder, but since the novel is about understanding yourself, he eventually covers the tattoo with clothes.
* In the book ''[[Literature/InheritanceCycle Eldest]]'', Eragon meets the twin elves Iduna and Neya, who have a dragon tattoo inscribed across both their bodies. The tattoo has the ability to leave their skin and become a fully formed dragon that can interact with the outside world.
* In the third book, Specials, of the ''Literature/{{Uglies}}'' series, Tally and the Cutters have facial tattoos that pulse with blood pressure.
* In the ''Literature/{{Dragonback}}'' books, the alien [[OurDragonsAreDifferent K'da]] have the ability (and, indeed, the ''requirement'') to temporarily become living tattoos on humans and a couple other species.
* Dr. Scamandros in the Literature/KeysToTheKingdom series has tattoos that move and change form to reflect his emotions.
* In Creator/NealStephenson 's ''Literature/TheDiamondAge'', nanotechnology has evolved to include mediatronic tattoos. In fact, a nameless woman appears naked and has a full-body mediatronic tattoo; even her hair changes color and projects images.
* In ''Literature/{{Pact}}'', Blake Thorburn has tattoos of birds that change to reflect his state of being, and eventually gains the ability to remove the birds and send them to do simple tasks for him.
* In ''Discworld/{{Thud}}'' Commander Sam Vimes receives a marking on his wrist which is more than just a scar. It is the embodiment of an ancient Dwarven spirit of justice and retribution and takes on sentient life whenever he needs its help.
* In ''The Crystal Prison'', the second book of Creator/RobinJarvis' ''Literature/DeptfordMice'' trilogy, Madame Akkikuyu has a tattooed face on her ear that will move and speak to her at night. As it turns out, it is possessed by [[spoiler:the spirit of [[BigBad Jupiter]]]], who tricks Akkikuyu into releasing him from limbo.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* A MonsterOfTheWeek in ''Series/{{Reaper}}'' could bring his tattoos to life--including the [[PlayingWithFire flames]].
* In ''Series/TinMan'', Azkadellia produces the flying monkeys from tattoos on her chest.
* In ''Series/TheXFiles'' episode "Never Again", Ed Jerse gets a tattoo of a woman that begins talking to him, insulting him and forcing him to do things. Subverted: [[spoiler:It's actually a hallucination caused by ergot in the red ink.]]
* ''Series/FridayThe13thTheSeries'' featured cursed tattoo needles that caused its images to come to life and kill its recipient. In exchange, the needles offered unbeatable luck.
* A mild example in ''Series/InvisibleMan'', where the Keeper gives Darien the tattoo of a coiled snake on his arm with a chip embedded under it to detect the level of [[AppliedPhlebotinum quicksilver]] saturation in his blood. This is shown by the number of links on the snake turning red.

* The Music/BlueOysterCult song "Tattoo Vampire" is about a piece of skin ornamentation with a mind - and thirst - all of its own.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}''. The cover of the ''Awakenings'' supplement has a woman with a dragon tattoo on her back, with tattoo animating into a real (small) dragon. See it [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Shadowrun_-_Awakenings_cover_5057.jpg here]].
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** The ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' {{sourcebook}}''Inside Ravens Bluff'' has an enchanted needle which allows to make "Living Tattoos". These are just animated pictures, though.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' has one nomadic tribe whose shamans can bind a non-evil spirit into living tattoo on anyone they like as a sort of {{familiar}} capable of walking around in ghostly form. In "Carnival" one of carnies binds in tattoos [[spoiler:Night Terrors -- embodiment of phobias, so that instead of scaring people out of their pants little creeps are forced to grant their hosts resistance to the same sort of fear]].
** The "Snake Darts" Wu Jen spell (from ''Complete Arcane'') turns a pair of snake tattoos on the caster's arms into venomous projectiles. To recover the tattoos, the caster must then swallow the snakes.
* The Tattooed Sorcerer archetype from ''TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}}'' grants a familiar even to sorcerers who would not otherwise have one. It also allows this familiar to transform into a tattoo on the sorcerer's body for safekeeping.
* In ''TabletopGame/TranshumanSpace'' this is possible with "nanorobotically created and controlled pseudo-chromatophores", which essentially turn a patch of skin into an LCD screen.
* Similarly ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' has "nanotats".

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The canceled arcade game ''[[http://www.i-mockery.com/minimocks/tattoo-assassins/ Tattoo Assassins]]'' used this as a gimmick.
* In the MMO ''VideoGame/{{Dofus}}'' the Sacrier class uses their own blood as a weapon, but for its successor ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'' they control their tattoos instead.
* Vulcan Raven in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' makes his forehead tattoo, a raven, perch on Snake's shoulder and taste his blood to check his lineage. Also, [[WhatCouldHaveBeen a removed boss]] in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'', Chinaman, would have had the power to turn his dragon tattoos into real dragons when he was under water.
* Meathook in ''VideoGame/TheSecretOfMonkeyIsland'' has a skull tattoo on his chest named Roger, which can talk on command.
-->"Say hello, Roger!"\\
"Hello, Roger!"
* Nexus Champions in ''VideoGame/NexusClash'' are covered with [[PowerTattoo Power Tattoos]], one of which is an impressive tattoo of a tiger. The Champion can peel the tattoo off their skin to become a magical [[BondCreatures Bond Creature]] tiger that aids them in battle.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Calm and Claire of ''Webcomic/{{Seasons}}'' have them.
* Kyoto from ''Webcomic/BladeBunny'' has an animated dragon tattoo that can reach out from her body. Taken to its [[http://www.bladebunny.com/2012/04/25/book-8-page-20/ logical conclusion]] when she uses it to [[spoiler: grow wings]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Wiki/SCPFoundation'':
** [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-021 SCP-021]] is a tattoo dragon. It eats pigment found in the host's skin, which could be either melanin or other tattoos, which it prefers. Its movement [[RealityEnsues painfully irritates the skin]] almost like a tattoo serially removed and reapplied would feel like, giving the people hosting it an increased pain threshold but also greater aggression.
** [[http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-834 SCP-834 ("Marked")]]. Approximately 6 months after a SCP-834 marker is used to draw something on a human body, the drawing animates and attacks the victim.
* Tattoo {{familiar}} [[http://s297.photobucket.com/albums/mm233/Vkthsu/?action=view¤t=tattoofamiliar.jpg here]].
* ''WebOriginal/OrionsArm''
** Clade Scrabo Prior in the setting uses these for communication.
** {{Mega Corp}}s from the Non Coercive Zone often pay people to have animated ads tattooed on their skin.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', Amy gets a talking devil tattoo that keeps teasing Kif for being so cheap.
** She also has several on her butt.
-->'''Devil Tattoo:''' I can't wait to tell the tattoos on Amy's butt about this!\\
'''Male Voice:''' About what?!\\
'''Female Voice:''' Tell us!\\
''[horse whinnies]''
* This was the power of the villain Tattoo Man on ''WesternAnimation/TheSuperGlobetrotters''.
* Freakshow's minion Lydia on ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' can bring her tattoos to life and come off her body.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Thanks to advances in both battery technology ([[http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/25341/?a=f using cells which can run off the glucose in your blood]]) and LED technology this [[http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/23847/?mod=related&a=f could soon be]] TruthInTelevision.