"These guys put their logo on more things than Nike does. How do they expect to remain secret when they make every effort to mark their equipment with a unique, unmistakable symbol?"
In television, as in Real Life
, any decent-sized organization will have a logo or symbol to identify itself. Said symbolism will appear when needed to identify the group, whether it's a discreet corporate logo on the building or an imposing banner behind the Diabolical Mastermind
when he makes his world-threatening rants.
Some groups, however, carry this to a ridiculous extreme, especially if a megalomaniac Villain
is in charge. When this trope is in play, the design will be wantonly slapped on everything
in sight, down to the most mundane items and meaningless locations. Bathroom doors, coffee mugs, staplers, golf carts, Highly Conspicuous Uniforms
— nothing is out of the question, no matter how trivial or impractical it may be.
This is true even in an Elaborate Underground Base
or a Supervillain Lair
, where the only people present are supposed to be the Minions
and the Goons
; it's almost as if the Evil Overlord
was worried his legion of mooks
would forget where they were
if they weren't reminded every two minutes.
Note that this trope is not limited to Villains
. Good guys
love branding, too.
Also see Highly Conspicuous Uniform
(when the sigil is overused on the mooks
' clothing), Malevolent Mugshot
(when a Villain
puts their own image everywhere) and Conspiracy Placement
(when the Ancient Conspiracy
hides clues among the Muggles
). May Contain Evil
Not to be confused with Instant Runes
displayed by the copious dozens.
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Anime & Manga
- The Poké Ball design is absolutely everywhere in the Pokémon anime. Team Rocket's big red R gets a lot of play too, particularly in the anime.
- In Pokémon Special, each member of Crystal's main party has a star somewhere on its body.
- In Naruto, pretty much every single character is wearing the symbol of their respective villages due to the fact that they are the equivalent of soldiers. Even the ones who have been exiled or gone permanently AWOL wear defaced ones.
- NERV does this in the Rebuild of Evangelion movies. Creepy Cool Crosses and sephirots appear all over Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- In the Tenchi Muyo! OVAs, Doctor Clay imprints his personal mark on virtually everything he owns. Washu knows this, and is able to locate the bridge of his spaceship because it is right behind said mark on the hull. This is also how she discovers that Ryoko's been replaced by a Shapeshifting Evil Twin.
- Soul Eater: The Shiningami mask in Death City.
- In Digimon Adventure, the Digivice. In Digimon Tamers, the Zero Unit and the hazard symbols.
- In an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, a milk carton bears the Kaiba Corp logo.
- The guilds from the Ravnica block of Magic: The Gathering all have their own signets, though how they're placed varies. Gruul signets are illegible territorial markings drawn in what the Gruul Signet card describes as blood, sweat and muck, Simic signets are placed on all their artificial lifeforms as a trademark, Orzhov signets are either carried, indicating a master, or tattooed, indicating a slave. Izzet signets are the most megalomaniacal, as they're frequently redesigned to look more and more like a vanity portrait of the guild leader. The Dimir subvert this, as they are a very secretive guild that officially does not exist So, while they have a signet, it's only seen either by precious few or by those they are about to eliminate.
- Any guild-aligned card in Ravnica block (in the guild's combination of colors, in one color with an ability in the other, or using the guild's unique ability) had a transparent version of the guild sigil (except the Izzet card Hypervolt Grasp, which has the Gruul signet by mistake). Likewise, "snow" permanents in Coldsnap had a transparent snow-mana symbol (a snowflake).
- Any spell from the Invasion black with a kicker cost had either all or a part of the Invasion symbol on it, depending on the color of mana in said cost.
- Also, the Phyrexian symbol and the Mask of Pain (Yawgmoth's symbol) are often used on cards related to Phyrexia. The Mask of Pain appears in the Nemesis logo and was later used as the expansion symbol for Apocalypse.
- Speaking of the Invasion block, the Coalition symbol was the symbol for Invasion; parts of it appear in a cycle of cards in Planeshift. Naturally, it also appears on Flagbearer cards.
- More recently, the planeswalker symbol is used is planeswalker-related art (but not on the planeswalker cards themselves), as well as in the Magic 2010 logo.
- And in Scars of Mirrodin, the cards themselves are getting it: With the exception of the five basic lands and three planeswalkers, every card in the set has either the symbol of the now-native Mirrans, or the before-mentioned Phyrexian symbol (resembling the Greek letter phi Φ) in the background of the textbox.
- Mirrodin Beseiged makes the Phyrexian phi superimposed on the Mirran sun its expansion symbol, and New Phyrexia makes the phi itself the expansion symbol.
- Innistrad has the symbol of the archangel Avacyn on nearly every human-related card. It fits better if you imagine it in the place of a Christian cross.
- The Koa'ki Meiru monsters from Yu-Gi-Oh all feature their emblem somewhere on their person.
- The Star Wars Customizable Card Game made Rebel and Imperial symbols their card backs, as well as the symbol for characters of that alignment. Lightsabers were used for Jedi/Sith Masters and Force icons.
- Most editions of the Illuminati card game by Steve Jackson Games do a variation: The Illuminati symbol (an eye in the pyramid, sometimes simplified to a dot in a triangle) appears on nearly every card, usually hidden.
- Occurs regularly in Marvel comic books whenever the terrorist group HYDRA appears.
- Batman. Oh dear lord, Batman and his obsession with making everything look like a bat.
- His enemies also tend to be, shall we say, "strongly themed" in their choice of accessories, lairs, vehicles...
- Hi, CrossGen! The two houses of the First have their own respective swirl emblems, and the power-inducing Sigils are the two swirls put together to form a red-and-yellow yin-yang.
- Literally inverted by Big Bad Charon when he makes his own "inverse sigil" - the ligis - out of the negative space from the original sigil, and empowers a bunch of test subjects with it.
- Lex Luthor is a genius. So why do the killer robots that attack Superman so often have the Lexcorp logo on them? (To be fair, he can usually "prove" they were stolen, or their release was a lab technician exceeding his authority, but still...)
- Possibly justified as it does make the news reports of the robot attacks free advertisement for Lex Corp.
- In DC Comics' Atari Force, the Atari "fuji" logo gets incorporated nearly everywhere, especially in the first series. Even the design of the Scanner One spaceship is a silhouette of the logo.
- In Tintin, the symbol of the Bordurian regime is "the whiskers of Kűrvi-Tasch," a stylized representation of the dictator's moustache. It's absolutely all over the country, from flags and official buildings to military rank insignia, hotel lamps and car radiators. This goes as far as written and spoken Bordurian, which uses a circumflex shaped like a curved moustache.
- Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy mini-series for Marvel Comics features Hexus the Sentient Corporation, an evil alien "social parasite" that spreads "logo-spores" throughout the atmosphere of its target planet. The spores infect people, forming a corporation which then consumes rival corporations and seduces whole populations through hypnotic ad campaigns, to the point where it literally owns everything and everyone on its host-planet. It then 'brands' the planet with its enormous 'X'-logo and feeds of the planet's resources, leaving behind a dead husk of a world covered in Hexus logos.
- In the Lucky Luke book "Jesse James", two bumbling Pinkerton Detectives have a Running Gag of their "undercover" being betrayed by their "P" logos.
- In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the M.A.R.S. logo is plastered on everything remotely associated with Arms Dealer James McCullen, down to the elevator doors of his secret underwater Arctic base.
- The killswitch for the nanomite warheads have a screen saver with an animated logo!
- In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Dr. Evil's embossed logo can be found on nearly anything — makeup cases, motorized scooters, record turntables, even the doors of Dr. Evil's secret moon rocket.
- Parodied in Spaceballs as part of a Take That against "moichendaising", as everything on the villains' spaceship (Spaceball One) is branded with the Spaceballs logo, down to "Spaceballs the toilet paper" and "Spaceballs the bedsheet."
- A Series of Unfortunate Events has the VFD eye symbol everywhere, even as tattoos on the ankles of their members.
- In Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, the OSS logo is so ubiquitous that it's a Running Gag.
- In the Hitman movie, all of the gear that the super-secret Organization gives its assassins is emblazoned with the group's logo. More than that, all the gear is made with their distinctive design aesthetic, like they're Apple.
- It's partially justified in the original games, as the fleur-de-lis Agent 47 uses was originally Doctor Ort-Meyer's logo and has no affiliation to 47's current employers, the covert International Contract Agency.
- The Hellboy movies feature the BPRD logo on everything, and even has "BRPD" embroidered on their flak jackets. For an organisation so secret that they don't even want people asking "What does BRPD stand for?"
- A more subtle version was done in the original X-Men movie. Not so much the logo, but X's were put everywhere they could, particularly the underground doors. Magneto, by contrast, had a lot of "O"s everywhere.
- Umbrella was especially guilty of this in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Did Wesker hit the "0" key a couple extra times when he was ordering the static clings or... what? Seriously.
- In the Apocalypse film series by Cloud Ten Pictures, the Evil Empire One Nation Earth logo, which is based on the Eye of Providence pyramid design of the Great Seal of the United States, tends to pop up everywhere during the Tribulation.
- A bizarre one in Armageddon, where the shuttles are rushed out in order to make the date of the mission - yet feature large decals with their names all over the interior. Apparently the NASA art department fears not the end of the world.
- Lampshaded in Tomorrow Never Dies, in which James Bond makes a risky HALO jump into waters that are discovered at the last minute not to be international, but to belong to Vietnam. For obvious political reasons, this causes immediate concern for Bond's CIA contact, who asks if there's any US logos on Bond's equipment. His mood is not improved when the answer turns out to be that it's plastered all over everywhere on him.
- Played for laughs in Bloodbath at the House of Death. The mysterious symbol of the evil cult is everywhere in the village... including on the lenses of the blind man's dark glasses.
- Even worse is a secret organisation called The Dawn, from a short-lived mid-Nineties series about a "Federal Bio-Crisis Unit". Since their plans to wipe out humanity were so secret, they could be identified by elaborate tattoos on the palm of their hands.
- Doctor Who: In the classic story "Tomb of the Cybermen", many of the surfaces in the Cybermen's secret lair — including the front door — are emblazoned with a stylized representation of a Cyberman's head.
- Firefly: An actual subtle version, as they're never actually mentioned in-'verse, but Blue Sun is omnipresent on every central planet. It also adorns much of Jayne's clothing (including a shirt which River promptly slashes up... while Jayne's wearing it.)
- Game of Thrones: Discussed, where Lady Olenna Tyrell is less than impressed by the embroidery of one of her relatives.
"Another golden rose. How original. I eat from plates stamped with roses. I sleep in sheets embroidered with roses. I have a golden rose painted on my chamber pot, as if that makes it smell any better. Roses are boring, dear."
- Heroes: The logo of The Company, half of the famous DNA double-helix, appears repeatedly. It's uncertain if this is Sigil Spam or a Running Gag, however. Word Of God says that it has no particular significance to the show's mythology.
- Highlander: The Series: The Watchers had the double layer Masquerade that their organisation was secret, and kept the target of their watching - the Immortals - secret, too. But they had their logo tattooed on their wrists. Even putting on one's shoulder would be more inconspicuous.
- LOST: The Dharma Initiative is probably the epitome of this trope: their logos are found everywhere on the Island. Playing cards, ping-pong balls, chocolate cookies - everything inside their stations has a Dharma logo.
- It is even present on live sharks! And on random doors embedded in rocks that don't lead anywhere. And on all of the supplies. Except the Apollo bars - those are produced by the Hanso Foundation who also run the Dharma Initiative, so there's no need to alter their packaging.
- Mission: Impossible: The episode "The Killer" underlines that it is actually expected of some industries like hotels: When setting up a fake hotel, the good guys are shown applying the hotel's name "Raeburn" in initial miniature on menus and glasses. And they have to do it all in less than 15 minutes because the villain just named the hotel and will soon arrive.note
- MythBusters: Though it is probably more for legal reasons than anything else, this show does this with just about every material they use that isn't going to get blown up/crushed/shot in the next five minutes. They even lampshade it every now and then:
Adam: I only drink Mythbusters brand cola!
- Power Rangers SPD: Puts the SPD logo on every random, non-Phlebotinumized item belonging to the organization, down to a shovel that Syd had brought along. Her CD player has the logo in three places. Even their finishing moves shifted the view to a background made entirely out of SPD logos!
- The following season, Power Rangers Mystic Force, is at least as bad. The stylized "M" logos are everywhere, incorporated into chestplates, visors... It's even worse if you consider other gear and designs that don't match the logo but are still M-shaped.
- Way back in season 2 of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Lord Zedd had a Z on his staff, and his Putty Patrollers had a Z on their chests and knees. The Z on their chests made them break apart like crash test dummies.
- Revolution: Is there anything Bass Monroe doesn't like putting his logo on?
- Smallville: By Series 9, Clark Kent took to burning his family crest on the scene of every save he performed, as both a Calling Card and to inspire the disenfranchised population of of Metropolis that they did have someone protecting them.
- Solitary: Does this with VAL's green octagon.
- Stargate SG-1: The Ori use their symbol for everything, their crusaders' weapons, the fire pits they execute nonbelievers in, the power sources in their ships, even their ships themselves follow the pattern.
- Star Trek: The Terran Empire put their symbol not only on the uniforms, but also in seemingly every corridor on their 23d-century starships. Compare that to their Federation counterpart across the mirror, who were so frugal about it at the time that it took until the movies to show us what the Federation's symbol actually was.
- Torchwood: They put the name on everything from the SUV to their guns. Suffice it to say, Torchwood's existence is not a very well-kept secret.
- UFO: super secret SHADO puts its name and logo on all of its vehicles, even though SHADO's existence itself is secret.
- Warhammer 40000's Imperium slaps Aquilas on everything it can, and also seems fond of skulls, whether real or modelled. Individual Space Marine Chapters, particularly the Ultramarines, are fond of this with their Chapter badges; in an image of an Ultramarine from the Deathwatch supplement Rites of Battle there are at least sixteen visible badges on his armour. The Sisters of Battle tend to be covered in Fleur-De-Lys symbols, and the Mechanicus has their cogwheel insignia. In fact, the only imperial institution that avoids Sigil Spam is the Officio Assassinorum, as it'd probably be counter-productive in their case. Chaos forces, similarly, like to apply the eight-pointed star of Chaos and the icons of the Dark Gods wherever they can, and also use skulls often.
- Girl Genius turns the sigil business Up to Eleven:
- The Wulfenbach family in Girl Genius signs everything with their rook/castle mark, including tube fasteners and bombs.
- This seems to be par for the course for Spark sigils, since Dr.Bettle's beetle, Heterodyne trilobyte and Sturmvoraus winged cog are just as ubiquitous in their respective towns, appearing on everything from candy toffees to eldritch clockwork horrors. Those people love their mad scientist overlords.
- Gunnerkrigg Court has the alchemic symbol for bismuth◊, which acts as the semi-official symbol for the Court, and seems to be stamped all over the place — tapestries, doors and windows, notebooks, cabs, other Court technology... the monument to the Court's first dragon slayer. And student clothes that aren't even uniform, like caps.
- Homestuck has the Spirograph, the Sburb house logo, the Sgrub house logo, John's Green Slime Ghost, Rose's Eldritch Squiddle, Dave's Record (and later a broken version of his record), Jade's Atom symbol, her grandfather's hat/glasses and toothed mustache, the Trolls' 12 zodiac signs, the emblems of Prospit, Derse, Hivebent Prospit, and Hivebent Derse, Barcodes, Becquerel's head, the four card symbols (used for both Troll Romance and the Midnight Crew, apparently by coincidence), the 16 pool balls for every member of the Felt and Lord English's animated pool ball cycle, the triangle fractals, the Frog Head and amphibian symbols, the Dream Self crescent moon, Maplehoof's horseshoe, and a silhouette of Jaspers's head.
- Recently, the symbols of Breath (two squiggly lines), Light (a sun), Time (a gear), and Space (a vortex) have been showing up a lot. It can be assumed that there are symbols for each of the trolls' elements, too (Mind, Blood, Heart, etc).
- Mind's symbol has been revealed to be a circle with three wavy, sharply hooked rays.
- Here are the rest.
- HeretiCorp in Sluggy Freelance. This is done intentionally however, as their logo triggers Oasis's Berserk Button and they're trying to lure her out.
- Last Res0rt does it a lot, but it's justified because it's the show's logo, so they've got a damned good incentive to push The Merch.
- Suppression has the logos for the Wight Family and Santris Industries, a Slasher Smile mask and a skull shaped gear respectively. All the Wights wear some trinket with the mask on it and the Gas Mask Mooks wear both symbols.
- In Exterminatus Now, the extremely secret Mobian Inquisition puts their sigil on everything...including a label saying "Property of the Mobian Inquisition" on their secret agent's spy gear.
Jamilla: ...I told them it should say "Not Property of the Mobian Inquisition."
Morth: Yes, because that would have fooled me completely.
- The monolithic "secret" criminal organization TAROT, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, slaps their tarot-card logo on pretty much every piece of equipment their agents use. Rifles, helmets, uniforms, armored assault vehicles, aircraft, radios, gym clothes... even the beer served to the agents in their bases has a TAROT logo on the cans.
- The smiley face in Lucky Day Forever. Seen in advertising, medals and basically anything to do with the Whites.
- Both the Hive Academy and the Teen Titans from the Teen Titans cartoon use this trope.
- In Phineas And Ferb, Doctor Heinz Doofenshmirtz has a jingle for his evil company, Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated.
- Not only does Doofenshmirtz have a jingle for his evil company, the jingle is customized for every place associated with him.
"Doofenshmirtz Evil annex!"
"Doofenshmirtz abandoned self-storage!"
"Doofenshmirtz abandoned vacuumcleanerfactory!"
"Doofenshmirtz out in the forest!"
"Doofenshmirtz holding a bucket!"
"Doofenshmirtz Evil is carpeted!"
- In the cartoon version of Inspector Gadget, M.A.D. was promiscuous with its symbol largely because the protagonist was Too Dumb to Live.
- Transformers, all incarnations:
- The Autobot or Decepticon symbols are on every Autobot or Decepticon, often in multiple places. At least this case it's justified for being faction badges. Still kind of odd when the series motto is "Robots In Disguise" and Optimus has a giant Autobot logo on his trailer.
- Many items belonging to them will also have the logos.
- The Decepticons have a base that's a giant Decepticon symbol. The base even appears in the IDW comics, where the whole disguise thing is emphasized much more than in any other incarnation. In that case, it's fairly justified, as the base is usually only deployed that openly when the Decepticons figure there's nothing anyone can do about them.
- Beast Wars even has the Maximal and Predacon symbols in Robo Cam, indicating that our heroes (and villains) are seeing their symbols out of the corner of their eyes 24 hours a day. Less they forget which side they are on...
- The Hanna-Barbera Pac-Man cartoon works the iconic "missing pizza slice" shape everywhere in the show's world design, including the sun.
- Painting their symbol on everything is apparently an obsession for the ThunderCats, nearly as much as adding the words 'thunder' or 'cat'.
- The incarnation of Doctor Doom from Fantastic Four: World's greatest heroes loved having a logo of his mask forming a V all over his Super Villain Lair.
- In the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, The Foot's tendency to plaster its logo everywhere made for a minor wall banger, as the organization's dragon claw symbol was also used in its legitimate operations, meaning that anyone who got a good look at a Foot Ninja would see the symbol adorning the Foot's very visible skyscraper base and put two and two together without effort.
- Played for Laughs with the BnL logo in WALL-E.