The physical version of Something Only They Would Say
, where a character is identified by an unusual body deformity or trait, like a mole or birthmark. Bonus points if the mark is in a place that would be embarrassing/forbidden to show in public.
See also Scars Are Forever
. For a Distinguishing Mark
that marks the Chosen One
, see Birthmark of Destiny
. If the Distinguishing Mark shows that the character is supernatural or magical, it's Mark of the Supernatural
. If it is meant to show that a character is (or is assumed by others characters to be) evil, then it's the Red Right Hand
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Anime and Manga
- In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Empath is distinguished from his fellow Smurfs by having a yellow star birthmark on his forehead, which according to their legend indicates that he has telekinetic and telepathic powers. Hefty in the series has a red heart birthmark on his right upper arm, but generally refers to it as a tattoo when he receives an identical mark on his left upper arm from Painter.
- In The Princess Bride, Count Rugen is identified by his sixth finger on his right hand.
- There's a royal birthmark (the Purple Pimpernel) on the royal posterior of the true heir to the throne in The Court Jester. Danny Kaye's character gets to show the infant's bottom to everyone to gain their reverence.
- L.A. Confidential: A mother cannot initially ID her daughter in the morgue. The Coroner prompts her with Detective Lieutenant Exley and Officer Bud White hanging on her every word:
Coroner: Mrs. Lefferts, does your daughter have any distinguishing marks?
Mrs. Lefferts: She has a birthmark on her hip. It's her. My baby!
- Toy Story 2 uses this to distinguish the familiar Buzz Lightyear with an otherwise identical one fresh from the box. In addition to knowing that he's a toy, the familiar Buzz proves that he's the friend of Woody by lifting his foot, revealing "Andy" written on his sole that was put there by their owner.
- In Hong Kil Dong, Hong Kil Dong recognizes the bandit that tried to kill him when he was a child, by noticing the scar on the bandit's hand where young Kil Dong bit him.
- The Goosebumps book "My Hairiest Adventure" has a character with one blue eye and one green eye — which turns out to be important after she's transformed into a dog.
- The Dragonlords of Joanne Bertrin's novels all have a distinguishing physical mark (birthmark, odd eyes, dwarfism, albinism) which indicates their Dragon natures. One of the clues that a young woman is not really a Dragon is that her mark can easily be hidden.
- Harry Potter
- Hannibal used to have six fingers on one hand, more specifically a second middle finger. He has it surgically removed after Silence, but of course he retains his maroon eyes.
- The Sylver family line in Welkin Weasels all have a facial birthmark shaped like a lightning bolt.
- Conan the Barbarian:
- In E Nesbit's Five Children and It, after the children foolishly wish that everyone would want their little brother and then have to chase after everyone who kidnaps him, one character claims him as his long-lost son because he doesn't have a birthmark.
- Edward Rutherfurd uses this trope a lot to distinguish between the families in his Generational Saga novels, variously giving them characteristics such as long toes, waddling gaits, or oversized noses. Played with a bit in London, in which the Ducket/Dogget line has three such traits: natural Skunk Stripe hair (both sexes), partially-webbed fingers (several of the males), or obesity that's probably linked to hypothyroidism (a few of the females).
- In the Judge Dee mystery The Chinese Maze Murders a father identifies his daughter's headless body by a burn on the arm that she got when she was just a toddler.
- The heirs to the throne of Riva in The Belgariad have a white mark on their palms, burned into their bloodline when Riva Iron-Grip carried the Orb of Aldur.
- In A Brother's Price, part of the Porter family is polydactyl, with an extra toe on one foot. This tips off Eldest Whistler to the paternity of Kij's daughter, Eldie, who was sired by Kij's brother Keifer. While Keifer was married to the princesses.
- The Mortal Instruments:
- Jace Wayland has a star-shaped mark on his shoulder which is a birthmark of the Herondale family.
- Simon gains the ability to walk in sunlight, nicknaming him "Daylighter" and the Mark of Cain, though he later loses the latter.
- In Veniss Underground, Nicola has a birthmark in the shape of a rose between the thumb and forefinger of her left hand. When Shadrach sees it on Lady Ellington's transplanted hand, he realizes that Quin has taken Nicola to his organ farm to be used for spare parts.
- The Hero Rohan in The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg has a birthmark called the Mark of Destiny that his druid mentor and foster father takes as a sign proclaiming him to be The Chosen One. He's right... but the mark isn't unique to Rohan. His half-brother Lugad and the Big Bad Queen Maeve, their mother, also bear the Mark of Destiny.
- Played for Laughs in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Takes On Manhattan", Monk recognizes a tiny mole on the perp's ear. He then spends an absurd amount of time describing the ear to a sketch artist. Later, when interviewing a suspect, Monk tries to get a peak at his ear.
- In an episode of Hot In Cleveland, a mother and son are reunited in part by the son bearing a birthmark on his wrist in the shape of a handbag.
- Parodied in the one-act opera Cox and Box by F. C. Burnand and Arthur Sullivan, in which Box declares that Cox must be his long-lost brother because he doesn't have a birthmark on his arm.
- Animal Crackers identifies Roscoe W. Chandler as Abie the fish peddler with a large birthmark on his arm. Ravelli and the Professor later steal a wide array of his possessions - the Professor gets the birthmark.
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village: Flora Reinhold's disappearing-reappearing birthmark is the final clue Layton needs to solve the mystery of St. Mystere.
- In King's Quest III, the way Gwydion proves he's the long lost Prince Alexander is by showing Princess Rosella a birthmark he has in a rather embarrassing place.
- In several The Legend of Zelda games, the mark of the Triforce (see the featured image on the Rule of Three page) appears on the hands of three individuals. Ganondorf has the Triforce of Power, Princess Zelda has the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link has the Triforce of Courage. Each piece of the Triforce is represented by a different triangle - Power is on top, Wisdom is on the bottom left, and Courage is on the bottom right.
- With the exception of Mark Meltzer or the multiplayer characters, all of the playable characters in the Bioshock games have a mark or deformity on their hands or wrists.
- Jack has a tattoo of a ball and chain on his wrists, symbolizing the fact that he is a slave to Atlas/Fontaine.
- Subjects Delta and Sigma have a Δ and Σ mark on their left hands, respectively.
- Booker DeWitt's right hand bears the mark of AD, which are the initials of his daughter, Anna DeWitt.
- Elizabeth has a missing phalanx bone on her right little finger, which she covers with a thimble. The reason for this is that said phalanx bone was cut off by a tear when she was an infant, thus allowing her to open tears.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, the Exalted family of Yllise has the Mark of Naga on their bodies. Chrom has it on his shoulder, and his elder sister Emmeryn, her forehead. Lucina, Chrom's daughter, inherites the Mark as well: it's found in the iris of her left eye.
- Nathan Hale in The Dreamer has a powder burn on his forehead and a mole on his neck.
- In Shinka The Last Eevee Luna the Umbreon has diamond-shaped rings for some reason, her brother Shadow has orange instead of yellow rings and their clan banished him because of them.