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[[quoteright:200:[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/we_know.png]]]]

Someone is happily living out his life -- frequently a CoolOldGuy or OlderSidekick -- until, out of the blue, he receives a cryptic message. It might not even be composed of words; it may be a piece of paper with a symbol, a scratched casino chip or a whistle done by a passing stranger. Few but the recipient knows what it means.

He, however, now knows that the nice people he used to befriend have marked him for death or something equally nasty, and they might be coming in person to enforce it. This was his fair warning.

Related to TroubleEntendre. Compare MarkedToDie.

!!'''As a DeathTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''


* ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'' inverts this trope: The black spot is a cue for the receiving Claymore to go mercy-kill another Claymore. Sent BY the Claymore who wants to die, no less.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In an issue of ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'' where one of Constantine's friends finds himself stalked by characters from fiction, he is warned of his fate by Blind Pew from ''Literature/TreasureIsland'' slipping him the black spot.
* The character ''X'' from Creator/DarkHorseComics would send his victims a photograph of themselves with one stroke through it as a warning. If they did not heed the warning, they would receive a photo with a second stroke (forming an 'x') telling them he had marked them for death.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the third story in FanFic/TheVinylAndOctaviaSeries, ''Vinyl and Octavia Are Forcibly Shipped'', it's parodied. Octavia panics when she thinks that Vinyl has the Spot, only for it to be revealed to be some grease.

* In ''Film/AirAmerica'', after the plane he and Billy are flying gets shot down, Jack Neely says "I knew it. The golden BB. I saw it in the mirror this morning when I cut myself shaving."
* ''Film/IKnowWhatYouDidLastSummer''. A group of teenagers kills a man while drunk driving and covers it up. Someone decides they must pay for their crime and sends the title message.
* ''Film/MuppetTreasureIsland'':
** Billy Bones in the beginning gets one of these delivered to him right before he dies.
** Subverted/spoofed later on with Long John. He points out that it was written on the page of the Bible and scares his crew into releasing him and reappointing him as captain.
* ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMansChest'': In a probable homage to ''Literature/TreasureIsland'', Jack Sparrow receives an actual black spot from Davy Jones, which is used to attract Jones' [[KrakenAndLeviathan kraken]].
* The golden bullet from ''Film/TheManWithTheGoldenGun'', which is sent to James Bond to let him know he's being targeted by Scaramanga. [[spoiler: It's a fake clue meant to get MI:6 investigating the assassin.]]

* Used in ''Literature/SherlockHolmes'' a few times:
** "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" - The Black Spot is a cypher that reveals the intent only when it's decoded.
** "The Five Orange Pips" - [[Administrivia/NotSelfExplanatory The five orange pips]] are sent by TheKlan, and the recipients have the choice between fleeing or being killed. [[spoiler:Holmes finds out who was responsible, then proceeds to send ''them'' five orange pips to make them think they're marked for death, or at least that someone is now on to them. The ship they flee on, however, is lost with all hands in a gale before they could ever receive the message.]]
* The TropeNamer is ''Literature/TreasureIsland'':
** The old sea-dog at the Benbow is "tipped the Black Spot". Subverted when he dies of a heart attack straight after he's given it.
** Subsequently, Long John Silver himself is black-spotted twice: once "off-screen" when the ship arrives at the island and the pirates are eager for action at once, and later when they decide they want a new captain. The actual Spot ends up in Jim Hawkins's possession as a keepsake.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', when certain persons are marked for murder by Adam with their photo marked with the "Godsend" symbol.
* A variation occurs in the first season of ''Series/DesperateHousewives''. Mary Alice Young receives a note that says: "I know what you did. It makes me sick. I'm going to tell." No one else knows what it is, but Mary Alice knows one of her friends has discovered she murdered a woman and stole a baby. And now her whole life is about to come crashing down. She preempts any death threat, though, by taking her own life.
* Played with in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "The Curse of the Black Spot" (series 6, episode 3). Turns out it was a tissue sample, not a death note, and the "victims" weren't killed, they were brought to the sick bay of a space craft.
* In ''Series/WouldILieToYou'', Greg Davies revealed he used to plant an ominous drawing of an owl, called the Hoot Owl Death Sign in the pockets of his "deadly enemies."
* ''Series/HorribleHistories'': In a sketch on the pirate tradition of the Black Spot, a pirate who expected to be marked for death kept seeing the Black Spot everywhere; going into shock when he saw a dalmatian. At the end, having been persuaded that he has not been marked for death, he leaves, only to reveal a huge black spot pinned to his back.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', entry into the Dark Brotherhood begins when you pretend to be one of their assassins and perform a job in their stead. Upon completion, you receive a letter with nothing but a black handprint and "WE KNOW" printed on it. The next time you sleep, you're kidnapped and forced to use your intuition and deductive abilities to determine which of three people tied up in front of you deserves to die. Or [[TakeAThirdOption kill the test giver and take her key.]]
* BountyHunter Piastol from the ''Legends'' UpdatedRerelease of ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'' sends these to her marks through the nearest Sailor's Guild. In-game, getting one of these announces that she's available to fight as a BonusBoss.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Spoofed twice in ''Webcomic/HarkAVagrant''.
** [[http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=281 Here]] (second comic), where a group of [[DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangster gangsters]] give a man the Black Spot, to which he responds "[[WrongGenreSavvy You've mixed up genres]]."
** In "[[http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=265 Pirates]]", the third comic has an old pirate grumbling that it was only made up in Treasure Island. So the younger pirate just shoots him there, and sheepishly laughs "Haha, he must have been like, what a loser."