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Mark of the Beast

Pain, Agony, Suffering, Torment. When the Rune is invoked, even the earth shall resonate its anguish. Torment of the mind. Torment of the body. Torment of the soul. All will be made clear when the Circle is drawn.

A character who has made a Deal with the Devil, released his Superpowered Evil Side or taken the Psycho Serum receives symbols, patterns or markings as a part of his Evil Makeover. They may only be Facial Markings, or be all over the body. Occasionally, they will start in one area, such as the neck or face, and spread out further the more powerful or evil the person becomes.

These are generally more minor than those to the One-Winged Angel, though there may be some overlap between the two. See also Red Right Hand.

Not to be confused with Marked Change, which should only include markings gained when a character powers up, not turning evil, or under any 'evil' influences. If demons or mind control is involved, or the powered-up version of the character is known as "Dark(Name)," it probably belongs here. The nicer version of this trope is Power Tattoo or Birthmark of Destiny.

This trope's namesake makes it Older Than Feudalism.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Zebul Spell in Beelzebub. It expands as Oga becomes more violent.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The stylized M on the forehead of every minion of Babidi, which Vegeta received after his Face-Heel Turn.
  • The Curse mark on Sasuke of Naruto, placed by Orochimaru. It spreads across Sasuke's body the stronger it becomes.
    • When Sasuke unleashes the Curse Seal's full power, he actually transforms into a vaguely demonic creature, complete with two very large wings growing out of his back that look like giant webbed hands more than anything.
      • Pretty much any unleashed Curse Seal. The Sound Four all turn into monsters. And the first bearer of the Curse Mark gets a Psycho Prototype treatment, as well as having a monster form.
    • For that matter, the title character has whisker-like lines on his cheeks that grow more pronounced as he draws on the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed in his belly. At least until he draws enough power that his skin peels off and he is completely covered in his own chakra-infused blood.
  • The demonic taint in Ashitaka's body in Princess Mononoke.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, when the Book of Darkness awakens and takes over Hayate, red lines spread all over her body. These lines disappear once the Book of Darkness is cleansed of its corrupted self-defense program.
  • InuYasha gets facial stripes only when his demon blood takes over and he goes berserk.
    • His brother Sesshomaru has them all the time. And he's a full-blooded demon.
  • The odd stylized eye that appears on the forehead of the Yami (Name) Characters in Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • This symbol is based on the Eye of Wdjat note , an Egyptian heiroglyph that symbolizes rebirth or regeneration, and is supposedly the eye of Horus.
    • A better example is the Seal of Orichalcos. Its users have the Seal appear on their foreheads and become obsessed with evil.
  • The Homunculi in Fullmetal Alchemist have an ouroboros somewhere on their bodies (e.g. Lust by her collarbone, Gluttony on his tongue, etc.). The humans turned into homunculi also gain this mark upon ingesting a philosopher's stone with Father's soul and it disappears when the soul is removed. Not sure if it was meant to symbolize evil. but it damn well has the same end result.
    • Its meant to represent their immortality, as the ouroboros is a symbol for eternity. Originally the Ouroboros symbolized how process and result are one thing (it devours itself and thus creates himself) - and thus was a symbol for the Philosopher's stone itself. Neat one, Arakawa, neat one.
  • Those who make a contract with Ai in Hell Girl gain a mark on their chest to remind them always that they will be dragged to hell upon their own death.
  • Variant: those offered as a sacrifice to the Godhand by Behelit users in Berserk have the Mark of Sacrifice — three crossed lines — carved into some place on their body, signifying that they are food for demons. They bleed as the demons near.
  • In Angel Sanctuary, the kiss of a Satan leaves the mark of said satan behind. It seems to give the Satan power over the victim as with Noise, but can also be a sign that someone made a deal with a Satan Arakune who turns out to be a traitor.
  • When it's your turn to pilot Zearth in Bokurano, you'll get a mark on your body. They're often Facial Markings (like Ushiro and Youko), but not always: Mako's marks were on her thighs, and Kirie's were on his stomach.
  • Tsukune in Rosario + Vampire when he first transforms into a ghoul. The markings are Moka's blood creeping through his body and taking over his mind.
  • Miu from Akuma na Eros gains one on the back of her shoulder after making a Deal with the Devil.

    Comics 
  • In the final scene of The DCU's Underworld Unleashed Crisis Crossover, in which many many supervillains made a Deal with the Devil for increased power, the villain Major Disaster is shown gloating about how he got to keep his powers even though the Big Bad was destroyed. Then he sees his reflection in a window, and sees the Number of the Beast etched into his forehead...
  • Rachel Summers used to have facial tattoos from her grim and nasty future as a mutant hunter, which she could conceal until stressed or using her powers.
  • A subplot in Spawn comics had an army of vampires who decided to only eat unholy sinners; which of course meant anyone they disagreed with. A bit of magic 'marked' them with sigils only the monsters could see. Spawn managed to turn off the mark for all. They didn't know who to eat so couldn't risk eating anyone 'innocent'.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The Black Spot in the Second Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
  • In The Omen, it is revealed that Damien has the "666" mark, but up above his hairline where you'd never see it.
  • In Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror, Devon gets a stylized HoH on the back of his neck when he sells his soul, and agrees to become the Hound of Horror to bring his sister back from the dead.
  • A number of direct-to-video Christian-produced movies that take place in an Antichrist-ruled world Twenty Minutes into the Future take the verse from Revelations literally. Citizens in this world are required to have a highly visible mark (usually the number 666 or some arcane symbol) to even walk around in public, else be forcibly implanted with one (in public or private) or face execution.
    • In the Apocalypse film series, those who receive the Mark of the Beast may also experience miraculous healings, such as the blind woman in Revelation receiving her sight, the wheelchair-bound man in the same movie being able to walk, and the one-armed man in the hospital in Tribulation receiving his right arm again. There's also the Blessed with Suck element of the recipients being blessed with limited telekinetic and telepathic powers, as featured in the movie Tribulation.
    • One example of such is the series that begins with A Thief in the Night, in which citizens must be tattooed with 666 (disguised as digital code) and must have it scanned at all supermarkets before they can buy food. Those who refuse this mark are sent to the guillotine.
    • Six: The Mark Unleashed calls it The Holy Implant.
  • The Blade movies. Those humans who submit to a vampire master get a tattoo; this tells other vampires "Don't eat me".
  • When Guerrero makes his Deal with the Devil in Dead in Tombstone, Satan brands his chest with an inverted cross.

    Literature 
  • The biblical Mark of the Beast. Durr.
    • Ironically, it's often misused because it's so well known, people don't do the research on what it really is, assuming they know how to use it properly. First of all, there's a discussion over whether or not 666 is even the right number. Some sources say the number is actually 616, thanks to ancient writing systems. Others maintain that it is meant to be "6 by 6 by 6", or six cubes, which is 216. Secondly, the important part about the Mark is the value, not the symbols. That is to say, writing "29A" in base 16 would mean the same as writing "666" in base ten, but writing three sixes means nothing.
  • The Denarians of The Dresden Files have the Sigil of the Fallen possessing them somewhere on their body. Their Superpowered Evil Side also has a second pair of Glowing Eyes of Doom on their brow, above the normal ones.
  • The Left Behind series, of course. In a strange variant, each mark comes with a numerical designation that represents a mathematical equation for three sixes where the operations are interchangeable (e.g., 216 (6 x 6 x 6), 30 (6 x 6 - 6), 18 (6 + 6 + 6), etc.).
  • The "chahk'morg" in The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray. It's a mark shaped like a Cthulhu-esque demon that is placed on those marked for sacrifice. The bad guys also use it to summon all of hell by killing people all over London such that the spots they died will form a chahk'morg when you connect them. Don't ask.
  • In the framing story for the Books of Blood, by Clive Barker, a young man who'd made light of communication with the dead is marked all over his body — even his genitals and eyelids — by the irate words of outraged spirits, who carved them directly into his skin.
  • Lord Voldemort isn't a devil, merely a very powerful and evil human wizard, but the way he has his followers brand the Dark Mark (a skull with a snake coming out of the mouth) onto their forearms is strongly suggestive of this trope. It's a rare example of a Mark with some practical purpose. LV uses it to summon his minions to him and, apparently, to track down renegades.
  • The Sith in the Star Wars Expanded Universe often (though not always) use distinctive tattoos as a symbol of membership and/or rank (most prominently, Darth Maul's full-body tattoos, which the One Sith later also adopt). Though not actually demons, they are a certified Religion of Evil and the most powerful and persistant evil faction in the setting.
  • The Mortal Instruments: In City of Glass Simon receives the Mark of Cain, which dates way back to the book of Genesis. Subverted in that Clary puts it on him to save his life. It actually comes in handy several times during the fourth book, as anybody who tries to lay hands on him gets punishment laid down on them sevenfold. In book five, the angel Raziel removes the Mark of Cain when Simon summons him, in exchange for a heavenly sword to sever the bond beyond Jace and Johnathan/Sebastian.
  • In Deltora Quest, Ols always have the Shadow Lord's mark somewhere on their body, no matter what form they take.

    Live Action TV 
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue had the Sixth Ranger receive a snake tattoo from the Big Bad that slowly grew and shortened his life every time he used his powers.
    • However, it turned out to be linked to an actual beast, and by defeating it, the tattoo was destroyed.
  • The alien writing that covers the body of the possessed in the Doctor Who episode "The Impossible Planet".
  • The hero of The Invisible Man has a circular snake tattoo (not quite an ouroboros) that turns red bit by bit, counting down how soon he'll go Ax-Crazy from the quicksilver in his system.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Willow gets dark hair and black veins become visible all over her face when she starts getting possessed by dark magic. The Scoobies eventually start referring to the process of Willow becoming possessed as "going all veiny".
    • Followers of Eyghon the Sleepwalker have the Mark of Eyghon.
  • In Doctor Who, you have "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit" two-parter. The character who gets covered in the untranslated language and glowing red eyes when he is possessed by the Ultimate Evil truly exemplifies this trope.

    Mythology 
  • According to Zerotime.com, werewolves have a pentagram "birthmark" somewhere on their bodies, often on the palm or chest.
    • In folklore, this kind of mark was said to be given to witches by Satan. Any kind of birthmark could be interpreted as a "witch mark" by zealous witch hunters. Keep in mind that in many folk tales, witches were werewolves.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The vampires of clan Gangrel in Vampire: The Masquerade will receive what's actually called "the Beast Mark" each time they give in to the Frenzy. What it is differs depending on the circumstances.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 occasionally have marks of Chaos appearing on mortal worshippers. One mildly unnerving piece of art from one edition of Warhammer depicted a pair of eyes with the pupils turned into eight-pointed stars.
  • Most of the Exalted have, as a side effect of using Essence, the effect of generating a Battle Aura. One bit of this is the Caste Mark, a representation of your Caste that appears on your forehead. For Solars and Lunars, it's a golden/silver shining disk; for Sidereals, it's the astrological sign of the Maiden they were chosen by. Then you have the Abyssals. Their Caste Marks bleed out of their forehead.
    • The Infernals get a similar deal — they bear modified Solar Caste Marks that burn with the green fire of Ligier, Hell's sun. Each has its own special adornment based on the Caste's Yozi patron and the Fiend Caste (chosen of the Ebon Dragon) get a special mark — a solid disk of such utter darkness that it hurts mortals to look upon it.

    Video Games 
  • The Mark of Torment, its description quoted on the top of the page, on The Nameless One's left shoulder in Planescape: Torment. Where exactly The Nameless One obtained it is never revealed; it is implied that it appeared as a result of the combined torment his incarnations accrued over the years.
  • Played with in the 9th and 10th Fire Emblem games: The "branded", who are the result of mating between the games' two humanoid species (anthropomorphic animals and humans), are really only viewed as wrong or evil in the story due to a character rewriting history.
    • And then inverted and played straight in the 13th game with the Marks of Naga and Grima respectively.
      • Well, in the 4th and 5th games, people with the power to wield holy weapons were said to have a mark on their body (Diadora/Deirde for example had her mark hidden by her circlet).
  • Taboo Minamimoto from The World Ends with You.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (or Lucifer's Call in Europe) has the main character receive insta-tattoos all over his body when he initially receives superpowers from a demonic parasite. (Technically, that would make it a symbiote, but the game calls it a parasite and there are oodles of negative effects so...)
    • This makes it a literal Mark of the Beast, due to the true identity of the boy who forces the parasite on you.
  • Eldritch Abomination Nyarlathotep brands Tatsuya with a black mark on his hand as a reminder of his status as a potential Apocalypse in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.
  • Also, the Dark Prince in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. Black skin with red tattoos seems to be quite popular.
    • In Prince of Persia (2008), the Corrupted are people who made a pact with Ahirman, and were thus infected with his essence, transforming them into what seems to be physical darkness. No clue if the Prince gets this after the Downer Ending...
  • In Tekken 3-and-forwards, Jin Kazama gains more and more black tattoos as his 'Devil Jin' mode awakens.
  • In Vagrant Story, we have the Blood Sin, which controls the Gran Grimoire. Whoever acquires it has control of Lea Monde. Sydney already has it. Everyone else wants it, and Guildenstern cuts the tattoo from Sydney's back to graft onto his own.
  • Evil characters in the Fable series develop livid red cracks running across their skin.
  • Samus' Phazon corruption in Metroid Prime 3 gradually worsens, causing her suit (and, on those occasions when her face is visible, her skin) to develop glowing blue veins. Eventually one of her eyes begins to glow blue as well.
  • Sakura in Fate/stay night gets spiky black lines that creep over her body at irregular points and then retract again after she goes into full fledged psychotic yandere mode. Also, her hair turns entirely white.
  • The l'Cie of Final Fantasy XIII are marked with a brand somewhere on their bodies; it functions both as a symbol of their Cursed with Awesome status and a timer indicating how long they have to fulfill their Focus before they turn into horrifying Cie'th monsters.
  • Kratos of the God of War series was branded with the Blades of Chaos after making his deal with Ares.
  • Eliphas of Dawn of War: Retribution can equip literal Marks of the Beast, the Marks of the Chaos Gods. These special marks indicate worship of a particular Chaos God, and in turn grant worshipping Cultists different benefits to other units: Khorne's Mark gives all units greater damage and speed, Nurgle's Mark gives better health regeneration and reinforcement of depleted units, and Tzeentch's Mark gives a stealth cloak. If you have the DLC, you can also get the Mark of Chaos Undivided, which allows all the described abilities.
  • In BioShock Infinite, Booker DeWitt bears the mark AD on the back of his right hand, which according to Zachary Comstock's teachings in Columbia marks him as the "False Shepherd". It turns out that AD was a Mark of Shame that he put on his right hand when he had sold off his daughter Anna, who in an alternate reality became Comstock's daughter Elizabeth.
    • The mark also appears on the alternate version of Comstock in the DLC game Burial At Sea: Part 1.
  • DRAMAtical Murder features Koujaku, whose tattoos grow exponentially when his Super-Powered Evil Side takes over.

    Webcomics 
  • Inverted in Gunnerkrigg Court: It is the demon Reynardine who bears the mark of, and is therefore controlled by the heroine and human Antimony.
  • In Goblins, selling your soul to a demon will result in a random part of your body turning translucent, marking you as the demon's property and telling other demons not to interfere with you. Biscuit's lips and hair are see-through as a result of such a bargain, and Dies-Horribly's ears become so after tries to sell himself to a demoness.
  • Teddy in Dangerously Chloe, acquires a pentacle on the back of the left hand, with which he touched the demon statue. After the blood pact is sealed, this mark fades out of sight.

    Western Animation 
  • Teen Titans: Raven gets some in the "all over the body" variety in season 4, apparently heralding the end of the world.
    • More interestingly, when Slade comes back, he's got a glowing sigil in his forehead, to go with his new, fire-based powers and infernal army. When he loses the powers, the sigil disappears as well...
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, anyone who drew the mark of Tarakudo on their body would gain demonic powers and slowly turn evil. Also, the mark doesn't come off, regardless of how it was made. It is implied that the mark actually turns the victim into one of the Shadowkhan.
  • In Code Lyoko, the Eye of XANA is used in this manner with the possessed William, displayed on his forehead, chest and sword.
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Mystique, Magneto, Xavier, and Storm receive markings similar to those of Apocalypse when he "recruits" them as his horsemen.
  • In Wakfu, Qilby gets this along with a Power Up Full Color Change when he merges with the Eliacube and reveals his villainous nature.

    Real Life 
  • Real Life: SS Tattoos.
  • Many organized crime syndicates such as The Mafiya and Yakuza have a complete system of symbolic tattoos.
    • The Russian Mob is supposedly so up on symbolic tattoos that one who knows the what the symbols mean can learn a guy's entire history (birth year and/or date, first "job", affiliations, current rank, specialties, etc) just by looking at his arm.


Many Spirits Inside of OneInfernal TropesOminous Latin Chanting
Name of CainBiblical MotifsCaught Up in the Rapture
Mark of ShamePersonal Appearance TropesMark of the Supernatural
Marital Rape LicenseEvil TropesMemory Gambit
Headphones Equal IsolationImageSource/Video GamesMouthful of Pi
Malevolent Masked MenObviously EvilMoral Event Horizon

alternative title(s): Malignant Tattoo
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