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
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Anime and Manga
- 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!
- The scene won the 1998 Skinny Award for "Best birthmark used to further the plot".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nathan Hale in The Dreamer has a powder burn on his forehead and a mole on his neck.