main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Facial Markings

Facial art — how wilderness of you!
— Q to Chakotay, Star Trek: Voyager

Gods, demons, high priestesses and almost any other variety of being more powerful than the usual schmoe in the street will be indicated by convenient facial markings, usually in the center of their forehead, on their cheeks, or both. These will often tell the perceptive viewer the owner's moral and ethical alignment (or lack thereof), their team affiliation, and maybe even their tax bracket. If their markings change when they use powers (or more power than they should), it's a Marked Change.

In many series, androids may have an obvious mark that allows humans to instantly identify them as a robot. Sometimes this is a functional item, as in Chobits (see Unusual Ears).

Sometimes, they might simply be tattoos that are rarely commented on, maybe hinted to be clan/regional markers.

Compare Rubber-Forehead Aliens.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • A generic form of this is the forehead dot (or dots) signifying that this person is part of the Buddhist hierarchy. See Krillin from Dragon Ball.
  • Hakuron from Haou Airen has a very distinguishing dragon tattoo on the side of his face. Seems that only Kurumi has seen it and lived to tell.
  • Jio Freed from 666 Satan has a black triangle on his left cheek and a white one on his right. While these seem to compliment his asymmetrical clothes they are in fact a tribute to his teacher, Zero who "dies" before the story begins. They are also yet another reflection of his split personality.
  • Sasami and Tsunami in Tenchi Muyo!. When he's manifesting his full power, Tenchi also has a Facial Marking. This may be a thing with Juraians, as Ayeka has displayed them whenever going into immediate combat, as has Tenchi's mother, Achika, in the Tenchi Universe continuity. Strangely, it also seems to change their skintone to a darker, more silver-brownish shade.
    • In the Pretty Sammy spinoff series, all the characters in Juraihelm and the magical girls they induct get some sort of facial marking (usually something simple on the center of their forehead, but some have stripes on their cheeks).
    • The darkened skin and triangular black cheek markings seem to be part of the Juraian battle suits that Ayeka and Tenchi possess. Marks on the forehead, on the other hand, are indicators of divine power. Both of Emperor Azusa's wives have circular forehead marks (one for Funaho, two for Misaki), but theirs are just makeup. Jurai's patron goddess Tsunami, as seen above, has two circular forehead marks that are entirely natural. Her older sister Washu has three (but not in her normal "human" guise). Sasami's two triangular forhead marks are likewise not makeup, and instead signify her connection to Tsunami. Tenchi's three triangles appear (and glow) when he's manifesting the Light Hawk Wings, and signify his status as a divine being on a level even higher than Tsunami.
  • The gods and demons of Ah! My Goddess! all have distinctive Facial Markings relating to their alignment and rank, including Skuld who is a Goddess Second Class Type One Limited. (Her sister Urd is almost the same rank as her, just one higher; so the only difference is that she has no hole in her markings.) All the Goddess' markings are their control programs that help them channel their powers. Belldandy explains this when, due to the crash of Yggdrasil, the Goddess' programs run wild aging Skuld and turning Urd into a little girl. Bell, goddess of the present, is unaffected. This is why Bell and Peorth (both holding identical licenses of Goddess First Class, Second Category, Unlimited) have different markings.
    • Word of God has that the Goddesses classification is based on the types and classes of the Japanese driving license, because Kosuke Fujishima is just that big car nerd. Imagine wearing your driving license on your face in Real Life...
  • Jun in Devilman Lady. Her demon beast form has red markings underneath her eyes, which nicely compliment her Supernatural Gold Eyes.
  • Gally in Gunnm has these, and even their origin is shown along the plot: she made them out of sewer tar in her final battle against Makaku — as a matter of fact, her first victory (against a major villain, anyway). For the OAV, replace "Makaku" with "Guryushika", and "tar" with "dog blood". Also note that this isn't their origin, per se, but an early example of her original personality, Yohko, seeping through the amnesia. The purpose of the markings (beyond cool factor) is unclear, but they could possibly act as glare-reduction. She has them permanently added to her face during the Rollerball arc.
    • Her android replicas Sechs, Elf and Zwölf also have those permanent marks. With Sechs interconnecting into his/her eyepatch.
    • Gally's Facial Markings are explained in the Last Order as a Panzer Kunst practitioner's insignia. She was pretty high in the order's hierarchy, and still considers them important despite (or, maybe, because) they remind her of her past mistakes.
  • During their Transformation Sequence and upon using their extra powers, each of the planetary Senshi in Sailor Moon at least momentarily displays the astrological symbol for her planet on her forehead. In the manga, all of the senshi have their forehead symbols when in princess form. Sailor Moon herself displays a golden crescent moon when she's in her Princess and Neo Queen Serenity forms, as do the two mooncats, Chibiusa in her princess form (as well as when she uses her power beam in the anime), and Queen Serenity. Members of the Black Moon Family, one of the later sets of enemies, bear an inverted black crescent moon on their foreheads. The Amazon Quartet have a dot in the middle of their foreheads.
  • Pretty much every PC (Player Character) in The World, the MMORPG in .hack//, has facial markings, as well as any other tattoos the player felt like adding. The novels explain that these are called "Wave marks", with the shape displaying the character's magical affinity (the different colour varieties are just there for decoration).
    • On one occasion in .hack//SIGN, Mimiru mistakes another player for Tsukasa until she sees his wave marks, since the other player is otherwise virtually identical.
  • In the Zoids: Chaotic Century/Guardian Force anime, virtually every character in the Zoids has some marking on their face. The Ancient Zoidians have dots on their forehead. These markings are absent in the later seasons
  • Several of the Ditto Aliens in Macross 7 have facial markings, like this.
  • Nataku in X1999 has a lotus-shaped design on his forehead.
  • Naruto (whisker-like lines on cheeks), Jiraiya (vertical lines under the eyes) and Tsunade (lozenge-shaped mark on forehead), in Naruto, among others, usually to show of one's clan. (Such as the Inuzuka clan's fang-shaped markings, Neji's forehead manji/saltire, and Choji's swirlies)
    • Kankuro's face paint (which changes from one arc to another) is in the style of bunraku artists of old. It's kind of a theme with him, seeing as he also wears an outfit in the style of of a Japanese bunraku puppeteer. Including the cat ears.
    • Gaara has the kanji for "love" above his left eye. It's a scar. When he was a young child, the person he trusted and possibly loved like a father was ordered to kill him and said with his dying breath that he has always hated Gaara. (Which turned out to not be true, but Gaara himself wouldn't learn that until several years later). Cue one cosmic-grade mental meltdown, in the middle of which Gaara uses his bound demon's sand powers to carve the kanji in his own flesh.
    • Let's not forget that Tsunade's lozenge is also where she stores an incredible amount of chakra for her Forbidden Jutsu which makes her invincible in battle. When she uses it, her face is covered in more markings, which disappear soon after. The lozenge also disappears after using the jutsu, but reappears when she starts storing chakra behind it again. Tsunade probably got the idea from her grandmother Mito Uzumaki, who's a fuinjutsu (sealing technique) user and who had the lozenge seal before her. Later Sakura gets one of her own.
    • Naruto possesses three whisker-like markings on each cheek. When drawing on the Kyuubi's chakra, their width increases and their color darkens. Then, they start to flake off the muscle...
      • Naruto's whiskermarks are revealed late in the plot to be birthmarks. His mother Kushina (a disciple of the aforementioned Mito Uzumaki) was the previous jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi; as such it's likely that these are a side effect of constant exposure to the Kyuubi's chakra. Whether this would have been temporary without the sealing of the Kyuubi into Naruto is unknown.
      • Considering how Kinkaku and Ginkaku have the exact same facial markings, the theory that the fox's chakra influencing their own chakra systems during their exposure to it (in it's stomach for the brothers and proximity in the womb for Naruto) is that much stronger.
    • Naruto also has a secondary facial marking when he utilizes his Sage Mode. In addition to his eyes changing color, the lids and surrounding skin turn red.
    • Also to be seen in Hashirama's sage mode, though where other characters' sage modes are animal themed, his has a god motif.
  • Most of the youkai in Saiyuki, including Kougaiji, Hakkai (in demon form), Gojyo (scars). Sanzo frequently recognizes demons due to their facial marking or birthmark.
  • Each of the Seishi in Fushigi Yuugi have a character marking their identity somewhere on their body, which shows when they use their powers; significantly, Tamahome's is on his forehead, as is Nakago's. Also in this series, the character Tomo wears Chinese opera face paint.
  • Ranpha in Galaxy Angel has a triangle on her forehead.
  • The living Emily in Soukou No Strain, as well as her now-extinct kin.
  • The humanoid form of the Book of Darkness, before becoming the good Reinforce, in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Red lines all over her body.
  • Each member of Tokyo Mew Mew has a mark left on their body after their injection. Bu-ling's is, yup, on her forehead.
  • Shirahime in Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer had circuit-like marks on her face. It's clearly a design choice, as none of the other Angels look like that, even Blanche and Athena, who are from the same shipment.
  • Allen Walker in D.Gray-Man has a red symbol drawn over his left eye. This mark indicates that he's been cursed. It also allows his left eye to see the souls within Akuma, identifying them when they are in disguise.
    • The Noah family also has this, with seven star-like symbols across their foreheads.
  • Several Shinigami in Bleach have literal facial markings; Hollows, Vizard and Arancar also have variants on their masks (And some of the Arrancar paint them on their faces after they lose their masks).
    • Ulquiorra's markings actually grow bigger and more demonic as he takes more and more levels in badass in his final fight.
    • And let's not forget the stripes on the left side of Ichigo's mask, which seem to increase in width the more he gets "in tune" with his hollow side.
  • The above picture is from InuYasha. This character is a dude named Jakotsu, a part of the Band of Seven, whom all have stripes of some sort on their faces. Also, when the title character transforms into a full demon he develops facial markings akin to his brother's (who has stripes and a crescent on his forehead), except that demon!Inu Yasha's cheek stripes are more jagged and he has only one on each side instead of two like his brother (although the third film isn't considered canon, the design of Inuyasha's father was the manga artist's creation and it can just be seen in the film that his stripes are identical to Inuyasha's demon form stripes and he has no mark on his forehead; apparently, it's Inuyasha who looks like his father, not Sesshoumaru). Apparently the markings indicate the social ranking of the demon in question, though as for exactly what means what, no one seems to know for sure.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Anthy Himemiya and her brother Akio Ohtori both have bindi; the markings are an early indication that they know more about what's going on in the plot than anyone else.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, when Yuusuke Urameshi transforms into his demon form, he gains markings on his face and shoulders along with spiky hair down to his knees.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, there are a few notable examples of Facial Markings. Frieza is an obvious one, but it's subverted in that his markings are neither the result of magic, demon heritage (though he can act like it), or tattooing. They're his natural patterning.
    • In Dragon Ball GT, the SSJ4 transformation comes with scarlet eyelids.
  • The Medicine Seller in Mononoke has Facial Markings that change from red to gold when he transforms. His unusual appearance is only noted in Bakeneko when the time shifts to the early 20th century, but is Hand Wave-ed by him stating that he dresses like this because people expect someone in his profession to look 'different'.
  • Luffy's scar in One Piece, even though it is just a scar, he proves to be fairly powerful.
  • A large number of the demons in Chrono Crusade have marks on their face in their true forms, including Chrono and Aion.
  • Masami Eiri from Serial Experiments Lain has red vertical lines under his eyes when he's an evil-undead-digital-ghost-spirit-god-thing.
  • Members of the Guild in Last Exile develop marks on their foreheads as their 17th birthday (which seems to mark adulthood) approaches. If they do not swear their loyalty to the Maestro within a week after their birthday, the mark is supposed to fade. Marks are also different colors: Most people have black marks, but Maestro Delphine's is pink, and Dio's is orange. It also changes shape after he undergoes the Trial of Agoon.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: With those scar like markings around Evangelion Unit-01's eyes, it's no coincidence that it's the most prone to going berserk, and has the highest angel body count.
  • Chao Lingshen of Mahou Sensei Negima! has two cute little blush marks on her cheeks. Which are actually the only visible part of the extensive Marked Change that cover her body while she's using her Deadly Upgrade.
    • From the same series is Zazie Rainyday. One can presume that the vertical line through her right eye and tear shaped mark below her left eye are significant, but so little is known about her that it can't be said for certain. She's... quiet. Too quiet. It's later revealed that her twin sister has similar markings, so they may be birthmarks.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, people sent to The Facility are given gold face tattoos. The meaning of the various designs, if any, aren't revealed, but the ink itself apparently emits a homing signal if the prisoner escapes.
    • That's in the English translation. In the Original Japanese, the 'Markers' are etched into the skin with a laser. While it is just a theory, the shape doesn't matter, it's the size of the marker (how much of the face it consumes) that could mean something. Like for example: Yusei's crime (trespassing into Satellite) and Kiryu's crime. (murdering a securities officer) Yusei's marker takes up his left cheek, while Kiryu's has the entire right side of his face. The graver the crime, apparently, the larger the marker.
    • The Dark Signers possess red marks on their faces as part of their transformation.
    • Placido has a black mark under his left eye, the meaning is which is as of yet unknown.
    • And from the original, Marik sports a inky line under each eye, starting from the outer corner and angling back towards his nose. They're matching accessories for the much, much larger tattoo on his back.
  • Aya from Ayashi no Ceres had the symbol of the hagoromo appear on her forehead at least once.
  • Uni from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! has a rather interesting symbol on her cheek.
  • 3×3 Eyes: the "Wu", the sanjiyans' immortal protectors, all have the Chinese character for "nothingness" (pronounced "wú") on their forehead.
  • In Bokurano, whenever it's the turn of one of the chosen kids to pilot Zearth, their bodies are covered in marks.
  • Kai from Beyblade has blue triangles on each cheek. They were thought by fans to be tattoos, but apparently it's just face paint, and they don't seem to have any significance.
    • Actually in the Manga version it's a symbol for his hatred (or so...) for his father (or Beyblades).
  • The Destiny Gundam has scar like markings around its eyes
  • Apollo and Mercury have facial marks to distinguish them from their hosts in The World God Only Knows. They're the only ones though.
  • Many of the Shinshou in Arata Kangatari, like Kannagi, have facial markings and markings in other places that tell other people who they are.
  • Soul Eater: Free has the words "No future" tattooed above his left eye and and he's an immortal werewolf.
  • In Seraph of the End, if these appear on Yuuichirou's face, that means he's/the demon inside of him is about to kick your ass (or already has).
  • Digimon Frontier used this a lot. Agunimon, Kazemon, Grumblemon, Kumamon and Korikakumon all have them. Aldamon also has them due to basically being BurningGreymon with Agunimon's head and limbs while Susanoomon has Agunimon's markings on his helmet.

  • Members of Wildstorm Comics' Coda Warriors usually have red facial markings. Zealot, for example, has a red circle on her forehead and red stripes on her cheeks.
    • Copycat of DV8 has an elongated red diamond-shaped mark on her left cheek. Her teammate Threshold has a similar mark over his right eye.
  • Bishop of the X-Men has an M (for Mutant) branded on his face. A lot of the mutants seen in his alternate future also have prominent brands or facial tattoos.
    • Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller of X-Factor have received the same M brand as a result of visiting Bishop's future.
    • Rachel Summers was also given facial tattoos from another alternate future. Generally she uses her telepathy to mask them from others ... that or writers simply forgot she had them, as she's a lot prettier without them. She tends to let them become visible she gets really mad. More recently the typical "Rachel's pissed, run away" signal has become her Glowing Phoenix-Effect Left Eye of Doom.
    • In the alternative reality Age of Apocalypse, most characters have facial markings as well.
  • Shatterstar has a star tattoo over his left eye. In X-Factor V3, he beats up a guy (and his friends, and some random bystanders) for making snide comments about it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Though not quite the same, when the tanuki in Pom Poko are in human form, dark circles can form around their eyes if they're tired.
  • San from Princess Mononoke has red markings on her face which appear to be tattoos.
  • The Atlanteans in Disney's Atlantis, particularly the royal family, have multiple facial tattoos. The DVD commentary says these were very hard to animate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ardeth Bay, of The Mummy Trilogy fame, has tattoos across his forehead and both cheeks. They're just clan markings, though.
  • The Romulans in Star Trek have some particularly ornate tribal tattoos. (It's established in supplemental material that these are markings of grief.)
  • Sgt. Todd (Kurt Russell) and the other characters in Soldier have facial tattoos with name, rank, serial number, and blood type.
  • The Expendables. General Garza uses them to instill patriotism and pride in his soldiers. (They're also meant to disguise the fact they're re-using the same stunt doubles and extras over and over.]]
  • The Togrutas from the Star Wars films all have gray markings all over their faces (Shaak Ti's are shaped like rings, while Ahsoka Tano's are shaped like diamonds and jagged lines), as with the Zabraks (Darth Maul has red markings all over his face, while Savage Oppress has orange ones; these are Dathomirian/Sith tattoos that the typical Zabraks of Iridonia lack; their markings tend to be much more subtle) and the Mirialans (Luminara Unduli has thicker dark stripes on her face compared to Barriss Offee's two lines of diamonds across the bridge of her nose). With the Zabraks and Mirialans, these are tatoos related to rites of passage.
  • The oldest son on Once Were Warriors joins a gang that uses markings related to their Maori origins (Truth in Television—see Maori below) and gets half his face tattooed.
  • In Ender’s Game, the half-Maori admiral Mazer Rackham has his face covered in ta moko markings.
  • In Repo Chick, Pixxi's hanger-on SixSixSix has 666 and a barcode tattooed above his left eye.
  • Blink from X-Men: Days of Future Past, has tattoos around her eyes.

  • In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, anyone baptized with the Charter has a Charter Mark on their forehead; however it's usually invisible unless touched, for example, as part of a salute, or if the character is being tested for evil. Nix gets a bit mumbly about what the forehead marks actually do, but it's implied that baptism prevents a person's body from being used by necromancers after death. It may or may not also be a necessary prerequisite to becoming a Charter mage. And in the case of Hedge, selling out to the forces of darkness caused his mark to break, becoming one of the wriggling corrupted charter-runes sometimes used in Necromancy and Free Magic.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the unnamed Good Witch of the North kisses Dorothy on the forehead before sending her off to the Emerald City, leaving behind a shining circular mark that indicates she is under the Witch's protection.
  • The Kiffar, near-Humans in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, have markings that show what family they come from, among other things. Most well-known example would be Quinlan Vos.
    • As a Zabrak, Darth Maul is expected to tattoo his whole face to mark his heritage (most are lines that can be mistaken for wrinkles on the face). As a Sith, he is expected to wear a Sith tattoo (traditionally on his forehead). Maul steps it up by tattooing his entire face and body with a red and black sith tattoo that evokes a devil like image in the movie.
      • The New Sith Order from Star Wars Legacy takes this further and has everyone (except their leader, who is too busy being slowly consumed by his living crab-armour. ) wearing these tattoos.
      • He has tattoos under the mask, anyway. Just not as major as his underlings, who've gone the full-body route. Ouch... Best seen in Darth Talon, who shows off most of hers.
      • Oddly, while most of Krayt's minions are tattooed red and black, Darth Nihl retains his original white skin, albeit with black tattoos, probably because it let him go for the skeleton look.
    • Comics set four thousand years before the movies have Exar Kun and his disciples each tattooing a distinct small mark on their foreheads when they become Sith.
    • A number of Jedi women mark themselves. Master Fy-Tor-Ana had a tiny symbol in the middle of her forehead. In Shatterpoint, Depa Billaba bore two gold beads, the larger on her forehead, the smaller on the bridge of her nose between her eyes, marks of Enlightenment. Bariss Offee and Luminara Unduli, Mirialans both, had facial tattoos.
  • In Snow Crash, some jurisdictions tattoo warnings on convicts' foreheads. Raven's forehead tattoo reads 'Poor Impulse Control'.
  • Harry Potter, of course, has his famous lightning-bolt scar.
  • Gully Foyle, the Anti-Hero of the famous Roaring Rampage of Revenge SF novel The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, has the word "N♂MAD" (and a Maori-style mask of stripes) tattooed on his face by members of a Cult. (It's the name of the wrecked ship they saved him from.) He later has it very painfully removed, but it leaves scars that flush red whenever he feels anger or some other strong emotion, forcing him to learn to control his feelings.
  • The Cetagandan Ghem Lords of the Vorkosigan Saga wear face paint that indicates their rank, and Haut affiliation.
  • Heleth, from Douglas Hill's Col Sec Trilogy. The tattoos are intended to help her hide in the shadows. As for superpowers...well, she's got some badass night vision.
  • In Jean Auel's Earth's Children series, the Mamuts (who are holy men, healers, and storytellers) have marks tattooed on their faces so others can easily recognize their status. This keeps being a point of contention for the main character, Ayla, when she claims to be a healer; as she studied with her camp's Mamut, but left before completing her studies, she did not earn the facial mark.
  • In Specials (the third book from the Uglies series), Tally and her Special friends get face tattoos that pulse with their blood circulation.
  • In the Sword of Truth, Confessors do this in the Con Dar. War Wizards do this when they're really pissed off. The Mud People do it to communicate with their ancestors.
  • Tales of Kolmar When Akhor becomes human he loses the soulgem that was set into his forehead, retaining only a faint mark. His children similarly look human, but have tiny bumps in their foreheads where their soulgems would be, if they were dragons.
  • Monster Blood Tattoo series: Most teratologists have facial markings (like tattoos but made with chemical stains instead of needles and ink), particularly those with implanted organs that allow them superhuman powers, called lahzars. There are two types of lahzars: fulgars, who control lightning, are marked with diamonds somewhere on the face. Wits, who control a form of telepathy, are marked with arrows. Dexters have both sets of organs/powers and combine the diamond and arrow in various ways. There are also skolds (basically battle chemists, without any biological augmentation) and they generally have long stripes over their eyes, from the hairline to the jawline.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, a silver triangle appears on Delenn's forehead when she senses Morden's connection to the Shadows, and in the flashback of the interrogation of Sinclair at the Battle of the Line.
  • In Kamen Rider Kiva, members of the Fangire race gain a stained glass-like pattern on their face when they transform into their monster form or feed on humans. The protagonist, a Half-Human Hybrid, gets two stained glass streaks on each cheek when he transforms into Kiva.
    • Similarily done in Kamen Rider Double, where every Rider gains facial markings for the duration of their transformation. And in a Jidai Geki influenced dream-sequence, Shotaro's facial markings get replaced by Kabuki-facepaintings.
  • In Red Dwarf, holograms always have a large metallic "H" on their forehead (except in rare circumstances where a hologram poses as a human).
  • In Stargate SG-1, the various slaves, soldiers and other paraphernalia of the Goa'uld System Lords have markings on their foreheads which differ depending upon which System Lord they worship/serve. They also differ based on their rank (which follows the useful function of this trope), with the very high ranks having gold inlays, medium ranks having silver inlays (how do they switch when they get promoted?) and low ranks getting a black tattoo.
    • Teal'c mentions the process for the gold one involves, IIRC, a ceremonial dagger and molten gold. As in they flay open the forehead to the bone, affix a mold, then pour in molten gold, and let it cool off normally. If the guy survives, he's obviously hardcore enough to lead an army of fanatics. Considering the black one is flat, we can assume it is just a tattoo. If the silver one is flat as well, we can assume the same. But in any case, it shouldn't be too difficult to overwrite the last marking with a new one, as long as nobody screws up.
      • If someone screws up in the Go'auld Heirarchy, he is killed. No exceptions. As in if the artist screws up a tattoo promotion, he's killed, or if a Jaffa screws up enough to merit a demotion, he's killed? Yes to both!
      • Rak'nor, one of the leaders of the Jaffa rebellion/Free Jaffa Nation, had his father burn off his tattoo with a hot iron. Remember, this is a tattoo on his face. Regardless of which side they're on, Jaffa are hardcore.
  • The Tribe: It's after the collapse of civilization, food is in short supply, water is in short supply, it's a Crapsack World where scavenging is the only way to get anything, but everyone still has an unlimited supply of makeup and hair dye with which to cover themselves in tribal markings.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Almost all the Exalted have this in some form. They're not visible normally, but spending Essence makes them flare up.
    • Solars have a glowing golden symbol which is abstraction of the appropriate position of the sun for their caste.
    • Abyssals have the same symbols, but they're dark holes into the Well of Oblivion, and moreover drip blood.
    • Sidereals have the symbol of their Maiden, in her colour.
    • Lunars have a full moon for the Full Moons, a crescent moon for the Changing Moons, and a hollow circle for the No Moons, which rather unsurprisingly glow with moonlight. (And then there are the moonsilver tattoos, used to keep them from turning into formless, ever-shifting horrors called Chimerae from over-enthusiastic shapechanging or Wyld exposure.)
    • The Green Sun Princes' caste marks glow with the light of the radioactive green sun of Malfeas, and are different from the Solars, unlike the Abyssals. Slayers have a pair of crossed cutlasses, Malefactors have an hourglass, Defilers have an eye with a flame for a pupil, Fiends have a solid disc, and Scourges have a hollow circle.
    • Sidereals have the astronomical symbols of the Maidens corresponding to their castes on their foreheads, though these only show up if they spend lots of essence. For the most part, Sidereal anima displays are conveniently subtle.
  • Warhammer 40,000. Eldar Farseers, specifically females, tend to pop up in fan art/fic with a distinct style of facial markings: three blood-red lines extending down from each eye towards the chin. This is probably Macha's fault.
    • The members of the forces of Chaos can also have markings, sometimes runes sometimes pictures or the symbol of a dark god or the eight pointed star. Many of them are simply carved out of the flesh.
    • Aside from their pale skin and singsong accent, one of the more distinguishing characteristics of the Tanith-born members of Gaunt's Ghosts are blue facial tattoos that vary from man to man.
  • It's certainly not required for them to get their Juice going, but sykers in Deadlands: Hell on Earth and Lost Colony frequently tattoo their (beautiful, beautiful bald) heads. Many sykers on Earth that didn't swear the "Oath of Unity," a pledge to not harm other sykers, had their foreheads tattooed with big red letter A's through means unknown. (It stands for "Apostate", and apparently another group of sykers did it to mark the damn self-serving freaks.)

    Video Games 
  • Kratos in the God of War series of games has full-body markings, including a red mark going around his bald head, down his forehead, over his eye, and down to his cheek.
    • Though, his markings aren't actually story-related, it's the scar given to him by Aries when they kidnapped his brother Deimos, thinking a skin disorder was a prophesized mark that he was born to destroy Zeus, the prophets were vague, as the "mark" was the scar under Kratos' right eye.
  • Most of the villains in the Mega Man X series of games have facial markings, most notably Sigma. His facial scars (obtained after he turned Maverick) managed to stay with him even if he had a new body.
    • Note that "new body" means "my head has detached and is now attached to this other body" at least half the time.
    • Don't forget Bass/Forte's purple face markings from the classic Mega Man series.
    • Rey and Pat from Mega Man Star Force also get markings when they fuse with Gemini.
      • Solo has them as well in the later games.
    • By the time of Mega Man ZX, humans and reploids are identical, save that reploids wear red triangle facial markings which resemble X's as a courtesy.
    • Harpuia and Fefnir of Mega Man Zero have green and red marks respectively.
  • In Super Robot Wars Judgment, those who are in the Knight caste of the Fury, an alien race (most of whom are Proud Warrior Race Guys), have facial markings on their faces.
    • Nearly all the various Human Aliens who appear throughout SRW have these, in fact.
  • The main character of Rogue Galaxy has inexplicable stripes on his face. Well, actually not so inexplicable, once you learn who his ancestors were . . . .
  • Klarth F. Lester of Tales of Phantasia has arcane lines running down his face and arms. They're never directly explained, but presumed to have something to do with the Summoning process.
    • The protagonist of Tales of Legendia has tattoos across his forehead and down his right cheek. They are never explained, nor remarked on by any of the other characters. However in Radiant Mythology he explains the marks look cool to another character from an unreleased game in America.
  • Manamia from The Last Story has a ring or dots on her forehead.
  • Seemingly averted by Virtua Fighter character Wolf Hawkfield who has facial markings that probably have more to do with his Native American heritage or his working in Professional Wrestling.
  • A few characters in Mortal Kombat have facial markings, such as Nightwolf, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, the latter of which has facial markings that only appear in Mortal Kombat 3.
  • Kefka from Final Fantasy VI.
  • Reno in Final Fantasy VII has seemingly red tattoos the shade of his hair curving under his eyes. His Kingdom Hearts officially confirmed Expy Axel has little dark purple upside down tear drops under his eyes as well, naturally.
  • The Dalish elves from Dragon Age have facial tattoos, most of which indicate reaching adulthood. This makes them very easy to tell apart from the elves that stay enslaved by humans.
  • Ultimecia of Final Fantasy VIII takes this to some kind of record-breaking extreme.
  • Every Guado in Final Fantasy X has some kinda weird network of colored ridges/facial markings over their foreheads and going down their cheeks. Lots of gamers mistake them for veins, but they're not — it's just that the color of the markings matches the color of the Guado's hair, and the Guado (or, more accurately, half) the game gives the most screentime to happen to have blue hair.
  • What Fierce Deity Link from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask lacks in irises and pupils, he makes up for with Facial Markings and Bad Ass.
  • Aeon officers in Supreme Commander wear white makeup/tattoos, usually in a pattern of broken or unbroken white lines. Sometimes accompanied by other forms of makeup, such as Crusader Rhiza's green lipstick in Forged Alliance.
    • Cybernetic Symbionts have circuitry patterns on their faces. UEF Symbiont circuitry glows blue, while red facial circuitry is the hallmark of the Cybrans.
  • The female Night Elves in World of Warcraft sport various facial markings (or, sometimes, none at all). It's not clear if these are permanent tattoos or merely decoration.
    • It's stated in the most recent patch that they are, in fact, tattoos. The barbershop dude says something to the effect of, "We can cut hair, trim beards, and even ink Night Elf tattoos!"
    • Female Draenei also feature a sigil on their foreheads. Given that a glowing rune appears there when they use their racial healing ability, it's likely significant to their connection to the Naaru.
      • Or it could just be a sexually-dimorphic version of the big ol' bony ridge male draenei have on their foreheads.
    • Male Trolls can also have random markings on their faces.
      • That's warpaint.
  • Most, if not all, Cat or Tiger laguz in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn have markings on their faces when in human form, usually the same color as the character's hair (and thus, their fur when when transformed).
  • Xenosaga: In a flashback we see that Andrew, as part of his "personality reconditioning", displays glowing Hebrew letters on his forehead when extremely angry.
  • Faith, the lead of Mirror's Edge, is shown with unusual facial markings along her right eye.
  • Suikoden Tierkreis gives us an entire village where people's faces are ritually tattooed at a young age; outcasts have their tattoos magically turned red. The end result is that, no matter their combat prowess, even the 12 year olds look Bad Ass.
  • While all races in EVE Online can have tattoos and various body modifications for cosmetic purposes, the Amarr consider prominent metallic implants on the forehead/face to be a status symbol, available only to the higher echelons of society. Conversely, the Minmatar use their extensive tattoos to mark an individual belonging into a particular clan or having a specific destiny. They also use dyes that change color according to the wearer's state of mind.
  • In the first Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Malak, Uthar Wynn, and Yuthura Ban are all tattooed. Since this is only forty years after Exar Kun, they might be carrying on the tradition. Jana Lorso, also has some facial tattoos.
    • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Republic players can choose to play a Mirialan, sporting the culture's tattoos. The Sarkhai culture (seen in the Consular story) also uses black painted facial markings, as seen on the Consular's Padawan Nadia Grell and her father. Consular companion Felix Iresso also sports some tattoos on his cheeks and jawline.
  • Though she's wolf instead of human-shaped like the other examples on this page, Amaterasu of Ōkami is still a goddess, and so has a red pattern over her forehead and shoulders. The design becomes much more intricate once she achieves full power at the very end of game, along with gaining more pronounced "wings" on her forelegs and some kind of floating, skirt-like aura around her hindquarters.
    • Amaterasu's markings are Invisible to Normals, so most people see only a white wolf. The very powerful can see her true form, that of a beautiful woman.
    • The protagonist of the sequel, Ōkamiden, is a wolf puppy with very similar markings.
  • The Krimzon Guard in the second Jak and Daxter game were tattooed to mark them as Guards. Of course, the Rebel Leader, The Dragon, and the Rebellious Princess have different tattoos than every other Mook.
  • Turians from Mass Effect tattoo their faces with patterns which identify their home colony, a cultural artifact of the period of extreme nationalism prior to their Unification War. The Codex mentions that the Turians use 'barefaced' as a synonym for 'untrustworthy' (or 'politician'), since such a person is concealing their true allegiance: neither Saren nor the warden of Purgatory have markings.
    • Mixed-blood Asari tend to have patterns on their faces in differing shades of blue and red. It's unclear whether they are genetic or tattooed.
    • As of ME3, if she is romanced, the photo which Tali gives Shepard shows that quarians have distinct facial markings as well.
    • Kasumi wears a geisha-esque square of purple lipstick both on and under her bottom lip, presumably as homage to her Japanese roots.
  • Haseo (and a lot of other people) from the .hack//G.U. trilogy. And they change as he powers up, too.
  • Pact-partners in Drakengard all have an intricate black mark somewhere on their body symbolizing the price they paid for their pact. Only one of them actually has a mark on his face (though we never see the whole thing in-game, it actually goes from his face down to his chest), but another has a mark covering his scalp, and a third is marked on his eyes. No, not his eyelids—his eyes.
  • A standard customization option for all characters in Rift.
  • In Golden Sun, Menardi has red markings around her eyes. In The Lost Age, Karst has a similar marking around her left eye (more obvious in her character art, because of how her face icon is shaded in-game). Whether it's tattoos, birthmarks, or just makeup is unknown, along with the meanings. Some interpretations of their respective partners-in-action give them more subdued versions as well.
  • Most Felineko from Solatorobo have a single stripe on each cheek. Nero and Blanck both sport small, light lines as well, though theirs have more of a Tron Line appearance due to their purpose and unnatural origins.

    Web Comics 
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Reynardine gets the alchemical symbol of antimony on his forehead to symbolize that he's been put on a leash. The symbol appears and disappears, seemingly at random.
  • Aces (animals given a human body) in Pandect often have facial markings if their animal species has them (cheetah tear marks, for example)
  • Though it's just fur, Cypher, Sudoku, and Jigsaw in Last Res0rt all have stripes of some kind going through their eyes, and they also happen to be the more interesting/dominant characters of the family. It may not be tied into any special powers, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
  • Rishan in Alien Dice have markings that indicate ancestry.
  • About 90% of the characters of Juathuur. More often than not, a given family will have similar symbols.
  • Every robot in Coga Suro will have some variation of facial markings, usually a box shape on either side of the jawline. The one combined robot features both of her "predecessors" facial markings overlaid over each other.
  • Kili's facial markings in The Dragon Doctors are a form of Power Limiter; her spirit vision is too strong and without them, she'd go insane from seeing everything at once.
  • Calm, Claire, and the four seasons in Seasons have them.
  • In The Order of the Stick, both Girard Draketooth and his son (or maybe grandson) Orrin Draketooth both have a facial mark. Girard's is on his left cheek and Orrin's is on his right, but they're otherwise identical. This may be some sort of clan tattoo, or it may be a symbol of magical power. Since neither man has made an in-person appearance yet, we don't know.
    • It's shown later to be common to his entire family, and is actively called a tattoo at one point
  • in Crankrats, most Altavians have "clan markings" tattooed on their faces.
  • In The Rifters Marsh definitely has something on his face. Not sure if it's a tattoo or paint, but it's a distinctive marking.
  • Graham's tattoo in Wizard School marks him as The Chosen One — despite being applied by a tattoo parlor whilst he was in a drunken daze.
  • These are fairly common in the world of Drowtales, mostly taking the form of clan associated markings, usually in clan colors. The Kyorl'solenurn also wear facial markings (usually on the forehead) that denote which religious Order they belong to.
  • Francesca of The Thing That Would Not Leave has a red heart painted beneath her right eye.

    Web Original 
  • Mysterious Waif-tan sometimes has the Chinese pictogram for tea tattooed upon her forehead.
  • Several Lucain markings on The Lands Of Evelon are these. Also, some other pets have unusual markings on their faces as well, such as the Baskerville, which has a skull marking over one eye.
  • Alpha from Web Animation/TOME has black stripes from just above his eyebrows to just bellow his eye.

    Western Animation 
  • Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender has full-body arrow tattoos down his arms, legs, and spine, including a tattooed arrow pointing downwards on his forehead, designating him as an airbending master. All the tattoos glow along with his eyes when he taps into his Avatar Spirit.
    • The creators have confirmed that these tattoos are, indeed, "full body".
    • The assassin Combustion Man has a third eye tattooed on his forehead that is apparently a vital part of his explosive power.
    • The Yu-Yan Archers have red tattoos on their faces labeling them as elites. The Rough Rhino Vachir, who was a Yu-Yan Archer before being dishonored for failing a mission has one as well.
  • In Code Lyoko, Aelita and Odd have markings on their faces (pink and violet, respectively) in their Lyoko forms; Yumi sports Geisha-style make-up.
  • Ember in Danny Phantom as one straight and one curvy black streak coming out of each eye, adding to her already punk rock look.
  • In Exo Squad, the Neosapiens are occasionally refered to as "tattoo-heads" because each one has a unique "broodmark" tattooed on their forehead so Terrans can tell them apart.
    • Exo Squad also featured Resistance leader Sean Napier, who wore a stripe of brown face-paint over his eyes and two blue streaks on his cheeks for no apparent reason. In the final episode, when he becomes a politician after the war ends, he stops wearing the paint, and is practically unrecognizable.
  • Fox from Gargoyles has a tattoo shaped like a fox's head over her right eye.
  • Sergeant Hatred in The Venture Bros., has a large red H on his face.
    • In addition to this, we see in one episode that he has a red "A" "T" "R" and "E" extending down his chest. Because he is wearing underwear, we never get to see where the "D" is tattooed... Although, ahem, you can probably guess.
    • After his Heel-Face Turn, Sgt. Hatred replaces the "H" with a Blue "V", and has the "A" "T" "R" and "E" removed. The "D" remains, because it's in a "tender area."
  • In Angels Friends, Sulfus has his iconic red star over his eye.
  • Chiro from Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go has an orange stripe under each eye when he's the leader of the Shuggazoomian Hyperforce.

    Real Life 
  • Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, have elaborate facial tattoos called moko. Those worn by men cover the entire face, while those worn by women cover only the lower lip and chin. Originally, all Maori had moko. While they've largely gone out of use, or are only painted on for special occasions, some Maori still get permanent moko tattoos.
  • Facepaint in American Football and camouflage for the military.
  • Devoted Hindus may wear Tilak, a clay marking on their forehead denoting worship of a particular identity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those devoted to the Godhead as Vishnu (Vaishnava) or the Avatar Krishna (Hare Krishna) have a U-shaped Tilak. Those who worship the Godhead in the identity of Shiva (Shaiva) have a Tilak shaped like three horizontal lines.

Face of a ThugPersonal Appearance TropesFangs Are Evil
Bathing BeautyImageSource/Anime & MangaFaux Flame

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy