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->'''Hippy:''' That's a cool symbol on your head, man. What's it mean? Peace?\\
'''Teal'c:''' It symbolizes slavery. Under false gods.\\
'''Hippy:''' ...right on?
-->-- ''Series/StargateSG1'', "1969"

Essentially the idea that when you're a slave, you need something to show it.

This trope centers on the times when a character who either is or was a slave bears some mark that sets them apart from other people. Most frequently this is either a burnt on brand, a tattoo, or even a serial number. Current slaves can also be marked by something as simple as a collar.

Often, a slave who has been freed will have this mark removed or, if that is not possible, altered. Another option is for them to display this mark openly, as if daring someone to comment.

Compare MarkOfShame, which this brand is to many slaves. See also SlaveCollar, which is another way of marking a character enslaved, and SlaveRace, where just being born a certain race is enough to mark you as property. For supernatural versions, see ClaimedByTheSupernatural.



[[folder: Anime Manga ]]
* Teito Klein from ''Manga/ZeroSevenGhost''.
* Slaves in ''Manga/{{Basara}}'' are branded to mark them as slaves forever. Shuri the Red King was branded when he was ''born'' by his ''[[AbusiveParents own father]]'' after he heard a prophecy foretelling that Shuri would bring misfortune to him. Shuri understandably hates his father and prophets.
* ''Manga/BlackButler'''s Ciel Phantomhive was branded on his back (Or stomach, if you're more the anime type) when he was kidnapped and kept as a slave. He is deeply ashamed of the mark and goes to great lengths to hide it.
* PlayedForLaughs in ''Manga/MissKobayashisDragonMaid'' when Tohru [[HappinessInSlavery asks Kobayashi to brand her]] in the middle of a stationary store with a rubber stamp that she mistook for a branding iron.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', the Hyuuga clan brands all of their branch house members with a tattoo upon their forehead which destroys their unique genetic abilities upon death, preventing outsiders from stealing them. While this might sound like a reasonable precaution in a world where bloodline theft is a common tactic between warring villages, the tattoos can also be activated at will by main house members with a secret handsign to cause intense pain or death, making the branch house members slaves in all but name to the main house. All known branch house members are so shamed by their "Caged Bird Seals" that they keep the tattoos covered up.
* ''Manga/OnePiece''
** Slaves of the World Nobility are marked on their backs with the "Hoof of the Soaring Dragon." This brand is meant to impress upon them the fact that they are less than human.
** A group of slaves who were freed and became pirates altered this mark into one resembling a sun, which everyone on the crew, slave or not, adopted to remove the distinction of freeman and ex-slave. Another set freed at the same time took great pains to hide the mark, claiming it to be the result of a curse that caused anyone to see their backs to petrify.
** Nami's Arlong tattoo could also be viewed as this. Nami herself certainly saw it that way. After she had stabbed out the tattoo, she had a new one put in its place resembling a pinwheel with a tangerine growing from it, to honor her adopted parents.
* ''Manga/{{Shitsurakuen}}'' - Almost all girls (excluding Sora) have a symbol right above their chest symbolizing their slavery, and all males (and Sora) have a glove symbolizing rulership.

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Franchise/DCUniverse: Grace of ''ComicBook/BatmanAndTheOutsiders'' was a slave before her powers manifested. Although she has covered much of it with tattoos, her brand remains.
** Arsenal's daughter, Lian, shares the same brand, having been kidnapped by the same slave trafficker as Grace had.
* In the French comic ''ComicBook/LeScorpion'', all of the prostitutes in one town were branded with a 'P' by order of the local bishop.
* The "M" for Mutant is very close to being a mark of slavery in some of the Franchise/{{Marvel Universe}}s.
* ComicBook/{{Magneto}}, being a Holocaust survivor, has a concentration camp number tattooed on his arm.


* John Gage gets left with an trio of knife scars his captor said marked John as belonging to him in the ''{{Series/Emergency}}'' fic [[http://audreys-efanfic.freeservers.com/lostandfound.html "Lost and Found'']]. The man's previous victims bore the same marks.
* Gamzee in ''FanFic/{{Hivefled}}'' is CoveredWithScars, including a GlasgowGrin, and has the words "slut", "pet", "rape toy", "pail", and "worthless" carved on various parts of his body, along with his captor's sigils on his neck (Alternia's traditional method of marking slaves, rendered obsolete with the conquering of other species to use instead) and the magical binding "namoha" on his arm, which will imprison his spirit if he dies.


* In the ''Film/BladeTrilogy'', vampire familiars ([[VampireVannabe human servants]]) have the glyph of the vampire who owns them tattooed on their body.
* In ''Film/CaptainBlood'', slaves who attempt to escape and are caught are branded on the face with an '''FT''' for "Fugitive Traitor."
* This is the reason the African mercenary decides to help the main characters in ''Film/TheIsland''. Their tattooed numbers identify them as clones - their lives to be thrown away for the benefit of their purchasers. He finds this uncomfortably reminiscent of the reason he was branded himself as a child, and decides to switch sides.
* The tattoo number of a Nazi concentration camp Magneto from ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'' carries upon his forearm, which he has brought attention towards to serve as a reminder for human cruelty.
* Combined with ScannableMan in ''Film/TheTerminator''. Kyle Reece shows Sarah Connor the barcode laser-burned into his arm in the robot concentration camp.
* In the ''{{Film/Apocalypse}}'' film series movies ''Revelation'' and ''Tribulation'', the MarkOfTheBeast resembles this, while in ''Judgment'' it is a coin-sized tattoo.
* In the backstory of ''Film/DjangoUnchained'', both Django and Broomhilda have been branded with an "r" on their faces after an attempted escape.
* Immortan Joe from ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'' has his symbol branded on the napes of his subjects' necks. Max himself narrowly escapes the procedure.
* ''Film/CurseOfTheCrimsonAltar'': After Peter completes his initiation (however unwillingly) into Lavinia's cult and signs his name in blood in her book, Lavinia has his branded to mark him as now belonging to her.

* In ''Literature/HonorHarrington'', genetic slaves are marked with their identification number on their tongues. The ex-slave terrorists of the Audubon Ballroom have made it their trademark to stick their tongues way out to show off these marks to the slavers they kill.
* Common on ''Literature/{{Gor}}''. Slaves most commonly get the same stylized "K", called kef, standing for Kajira (or, very rarely, Kajirus for male slaves).
* The mark of slavery for house elves in ''Literature/HarryPotter'' is the lack of real clothes; most wear pillowcases and tea-towels and such. Being given clothes is equivalent to being freed...and usually regarded as a fate worse than death. This makes perfect sense when you understand that house elves are normally freed only if their service is grossly inadequate, so being freed is the equivalent of being ''sacked in utter disgrace''. This - along with the fact that Dobby was an exception among house-elves - is the thing Hermione fails to comprehend.
* Creator/RobinHobb's ''Literature/LiveshipTraders'' trilogy has all slaves marked with tattoos, showing to whom they have belonged. Unruly slaves who've been sold many times are known as 'mapfaces', and the freed slaves take to calling themselves 'Tattooed' rather than 'ex-slaves'.
* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'': Slaves get a pair of glyphs branded on their forehead (though more cooperative slaves can get them tattooed instead). These glyphs say when and where the person was made a slave. Slaves deemed dangerous get a third glyph, ''shash'', which means "dangerous". These are rare; most slaves who earn a ''shash'' glyph are just executed.
* Slaves in Creator/CarolBerg's ''Literature/RaiKirah'' series are branded with a crossed circle, though many of them can be recognized racially as well. Runaways (and occasionally others) may also be branded on the face.
* In Creator/JackChalker's ''Literature/SoulRider'' series, the male-dominated society of New Eden tattoos the rump of all new Fluxgirls, women bound into slavery (and perpetual ignorance) by magic.
* ''Literature/TheRomanMysteries'': Jonathon gets branded as a slave in ''The Assassins of Rome''. The brand causes problems many times later when he has to prove that he is actually a free Roman citizen.
* This is (nowadays) TheUntwist in [[spoiler:''Literature/TheStoryOfO'']].
* One of the made-up countries in Thomas More's ''Utopia'' cuts part of a slave's ear off as a permanent mark. Which promptly turns into FridgeLogic once the narrator says that slaves can not only earn their freedom, but a certain number are freed every year -- so do they get their ear repaired? Or are they always at risk for being re-enslaved as a runaway?
* In the ''Literature/DragonJousters'' series, only free men shave their heads or cut their hair. Slaves and serfs (an even lower class) wear their hair long as a mark of their unfree status.
* ''Literature/BlackDaggerBrotherhood'' gives us the vampire BloodKnight [[spoiler: Zsadist; who sports pitch black bands around his "drinking points" (wrists and neck), from the time he was enslaved and sexually abused during the eighteen hundreds.]]
* Zeturah, a novelization of the Book of Exodus, includes a scene in which Moses' sister opens her shirt to show the scars Egyptian soldiers gave her. She shouts, "Behold, the mark of a slave!"
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', slaves in the east are tattooed on their face to show their specific occupation. [[spoiler: Ser Jorah Mormont]] gets a special one for being rebellious.
* In ''Literature/LesMiserables'', Jean Valjean views his [[YouAreNumberSix 24601 number]] and brand as this. ''Technically'' it's to show that he's a criminal, rather than a slave, but in Revolutionary France the two statuses amounted to the same thing.


[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
%% Companion Turlough had a brand. [[http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/File:TurloughTheTrion.jpg]]
** The Third Doctor had a tattoo on one arm, identified as a Time Lord marking for a convict. It was actually Creator/JonPertwee's own tattoo, which he got during his days in the navy, seen on camera in his debut story and made into the convict mark via the ExpandedUniverse.
* Discussed in an episode of ''Series/KungFu'': Caine is staying with a black family. The father (who had been in favor of throwing him out because he didn't want trouble with the town) sees Caine's tiger & dragon arm brands and assumes they're slave brands, since he (the father) had been branded when he was a slave. He asks Caine if he's a runaway slave.
-->'''Caine:''' I am a priest.\\
'''Caleb:''' If you're a priest then who put those brands on you?\\
'''Caine:''' I did.\\
'''Caleb:''' It's a foolish thing for a man to put brands on himself. I'd give anything to be rid of mine.\\
'''Caine:''' And I to keep mine.
* The Jaffa of ''Series/StargateSG1'' have a mark either tattooed or branded onto their foreheads. The appearance of the mark is determined by which Goa'uld they serve. Note that this brand is a mark of ''honor'': it signifies the Goa'uld in question's First Prime--the Jaffa head of his military forces. (Bra'tac was apparently Apophis' retired First Prime, hence the brand despite not being First Prime at the time). Lower-ranking Jaffa get tattoos done in black ink. The first episode also included some priests with silver-filled brands, but whether this is supposed to be a general trait of the Jaffa priesthood (whom we never really get to see) or just EarlyInstallmentWeirdness is never made clear. The gold brand involves cutting open the skin on the forehead and ''pouring molten gold into the wound''.
-->'''Thug:''' ...that sounds painful.\\
'''Teal'c:''' ''[pins thug to wall]'' Excruciating.
* ''Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand'': The gladiators are branded with the mark of the House they belong to. Body slaves get a tattoo that points out their status as a body slave and who they serve.
* ''Series/TheBlacklist'' Reddington goes after a human trafficking ring that brands its slaves. At the end of episode Reddington's male body guard is changing in the locker room and you see the same scar on his shoulder.
* In ''Series/{{Alice 2009}}'', humans who wind up in Wonderland have a light shone somewhere on their bodies that causes a tattoo to form. The Wonderland inhabitants refer to them as "Oysters" and typically round them up to have their emotions harvested. Alice gets hers on her arm and has to cover it up to move freely. It is still there when she makes it back to Earth, one of the things that proves her experience wasn't a dream.
* One of the nastier human trafficking rings the detectives of ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'' takes down brands its victims with barcodes on their necks.

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* In the "Ravnica" story arc in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'', one of the ten guilds--the Orzhov, the Black/White aligned CorruptChurch, uses its guild signet (a black sun with twelve rays) to denote master (worn as jewelry) or slave (tattooed to a debtor).
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', [[HumanSacrifice sacrificing a living human in the name of a deceased human]] will cause the sacrificed to become a slave-ghost to the person they were sacrificed to. The ghost-body of the slave bears a special mark that will never disappear, even if body-altering ghost-magic is used. Special ghost-apparel that can hide this mark is highly valued in the Underworld.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':
** Red XIII of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' has something kind of like that in his "XIII" tattoo. He was a research specimen; not much different from slavery, though Hojo probably wouldn't call it that.
** The [[BlessedWithSuck l'Cie]] in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' all bear brands indicating which Fal'Cie they serve. It's also a MarkOfShame because if you're an l'Cie to a Pulse Fal'Cie, you become hated by the people of [[HollowWorld Coc]][[FloatingContinent oon.]]
* Agent 47, the PlayerCharacter of the ''VideoGame/{{Hitman}}'' series, [[ScannableMan has a barcode]] on the back of his head [[spoiler: since he's an ArtificialHuman intended to be [[SuperSoldier the perfect assassin]]. Oddly enough, this never seems to ruin [[DressingAsTheEnemy his disguises...]]]]
* ''Franchise/DragonAge'':
** Casteless dwarves are marked by facial tattoos.
** Tranquil mages (mages who have had their magical ability forcibly stripped from them) have a sun brand on their forehead, which is apparently a symbol of the Chantry. This is only actually visually present in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', but it is mentioned in the first game. It also resembles a lobotomy scar, which is pretty close to what Tranquilization is supposed to represent.
** In ''Videogame/DragonAgeInquisition'', Solas claims that [[spoiler:the Vallaslin markings the Dalish apply to their faces]] were originally slave brands that [[spoiler:the elven nobility of Arlathan would put on their slaves to honor their gods. A Dalish Inquisitor is understandably horrified.]]
* Most races available for Sith Inquisitor players in ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' (except for Sith Purebloods) have the option to display elaborate scarring marking them as former slaves of the Empire.
* Potemkin from ''Videogame/GuiltyGear'' has barcodes with a serial number tattooed on his shoulders from his time spent as a slave.
* Slaves in ''VideoGame/DivinityOriginalSinII'' have these. It not only shows that they're slaves, but allows their master to control them. One of the origins, Sebille, has her main goal being to remove her slave brand.

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Archipelago}}'': Captain Snow uses this to keep unruly slaves or underlings in line. [[spoiler: Including the protagonist.]]
* ''Webcomic/BoundAdventures'': Princess Irina is captured by pirates in one story, and she recognizes that the captain is an escaped slave, as she has the Boundarian symbol burned on her skin.
* ''Webcomic/LeifAndThorn'': The [[http://leifandthorn.com/comic/sweet-summer-children-714/ back-of-the-neck tattoo]] seen on Leif and other Embassy servants. Marks the location of a microchip that causes pain if they break the rules.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheTransformers'' has the Autobot and Decepticon insignias originally being this; the two races originated as sapient consumer products, with the insignias being product logos forced on them representing whether they were military or models intended for general consumption. After they TurnedAgainstTheirMasters, they decided to keep their logos and turn them from marks of shame into badges of pride.

[[folder: Real Life]]
* The numbers tattooed on the arms of Nazi concentration camp inmates. Not necessarily used to mark them as slaves but to keep track who each one was. Sometimes it determined their classification (besides Jews, a whole host of others were placed in the camps, such as condemned criminals, political prisoners or homosexuals).
** The tattoos were also intended to humiliate since tattooing wasn't a common practice back then. It was a particular humiliation for Jewish inmates; tattooing is expressly forbidden by Judaism, and even relatively unobservant Jews would have never even considered a tattoo.
* In ancient Israelite society, a Hebrew could only be the slave of another Hebrew for six years, and then he was to be released. If the slave had a wife and children while in slavery whom he refused to leave behind he was to have his ear specially pierced as a sign for someone held for life.
** This only applied to male slaves, however; women didn't get such luxury. That said, Hebrew slaves who were already married were freed along with their wife. If it happened after they were enslaved, however, this led to the situation above (and very well may have been deliberately arranged by some owners to retain their slaves for life).
** [[RuleOfThree Further]], this didn't apply to foreign slaves of both sexes. They could be held for life and inherited as property. Hebrew slaves sold to foreigners, on the other hand, [[DoubleStandard could be redeemed by their family]].
* African slaves would occasionally be branded before being shipped to America.
* Among BDSM lifestylers in a total power exchange relationship, branding is a considered mark and ritual of dedication by both slave and master. Strike branding, using a hot iron, is still preferred by most. Tattoos are sometimes used if the master has the skill or a particular design that requires inked lines. A cold branding with liquid nitrogen is becoming more popular, as it requires a less practised hand to get clean, lasting lines, and the result is less prone to infection.
* {{Subverted}} by AncientRome. It was decided that letting slaves see how many they were might cause them to have [[SlaveRevolt unhealthy thoughts.]]
** This didn't keep the Romans from tattooing in relatively inconspicuous places for other purposes-for instance, exported slaves would have "tax paid" tattooed on them. Also, legionaries would have a tattoo on their hand for easier identification in case of desertion.
** They also inverted it with the pileus - a kind of hat given to ''freed'' slaves.