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Birthmark of Destiny

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"That crest, which embodies the power of the Dragon God, is both honored and feared, and those who bear that crest on their forehead are without a doubt... Dragon Knights!"

Vanquishing evil is actually pretty easy: just grab a Chosen One, give them a sword (or just a herring — Chosen Ones are a very resourceful lot), point them in the right direction and just wait until the evil empire falls. In fact, the only challenge in this puzzle is figuring out just who and where the Chosen One is in the first place. You don't want to end up with a Fake Ultimate Hero, after all.

Well, worry no more!

For your convenience, the gods were nice enough to physically label your Chosen One in some way. Typically, this comes in the form of an unusually shaped birthmark or strange hair/eye color. For bonus points, there will often be a vague allusion to this mark or phenotype that will only make sense once the Chosen One actually appears.

A subtrope of Distinguishing Mark. Overlaps with Claimed by the Supernatural when the Chosen One is literally chosen by something, and Reincarnation-Identifying Trait if the Chosen One has equally noteworthy past lives.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Owen Krysler from Judge Dredd has an eagle-shaped birthmark on his forehead. This was meant to mark him as the future Chief Judge who is destined to save Mega-City One. In fact, he turns out to be truly evil, and the disaster he was meant to save the city from was himself, as his psychic powers would turn him into a mutant Omnicidal Maniac.
  • The protagonist of the French-language series, The Scorpion has a scorpion-shaped mark on his back, from which he derives his name. Because of this mark, some people consider him to be the Devil's son. It turns out to be a scar caused by being thrown against a red hot metal scorpion as an infant by Tribalidi, whom the Scorpion and the reader had been misled to believe is his father.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Edmund, the first Guardian of Angel Island, had a white crescent birthmark on his chest, a trait that would carry over to every guardian to follow him, including Knuckles.

    Fan Works 
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the title character is born with a rare yellow star mark on his forehead, which Smurf legends say grants him powers beyond the five known senses — mostly telepathy and telekinesis, but also including a Mind Meld with his fellow Smurfs that can for a time increase his power.
  • In the Pony POV Series:
    • Starcatcher, as in canon, was born with strange markings. It's because she was the mortal incarnation of Celestia.
    • Bright Glow had very similar markings. She was a mortal incarnation of Cadence.
  • Vow of Nudity: The Genasi discover the baby who's prophesized to lead their empire to victory because they were born a Void Genasi (an extremely rare subrace with purple star-studded skin), the first ever born outside the royal family.
  • Two examples from the Fire Emblem: Three Houses fanfic You'll Get No Answers from the Blue Sea Star:
    • Green hair and eyes are said to be the mark of the Chosen, those the goddess has selected to watch over her church. Rhea, Seteth, and Flayn are all marked this way, and eventually Kid joins the party.
    • The three protagonists bear a special Crest "inherited" from Sothis, though it takes half the story for them to figure out what it is and where it comes from.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: she had it removed.
  • In Cloud Atlas, each protagonist of the six stories has the same comet-shaped birthmark. (in the book, the one for the sixth isn't Zachry, but his love interest). The book's themes indicate that this birthmark signifies the same singular soul, reincarnated in different bodies again and again throughout time.
  • Played for Laughs in The Court Jester where The Rightful Heir (still an infant) has a birthmark on his butt. There are a couple of scenes of Hawkins holding the infant in his arms, lowering the swaddling clothes just far enough to reveal the birthmark.
  • In The Dreamers, Theo and Isabelle are twins and share the same birthmark.
  • The Fifth Element - The eponymous Fifth Element, Leeloo, has the symbols for the four elements on her wrist. As her hand was the only part of her body that survived a space battle, and she was reconstituted from that, she may have had other markings originally.
  • In The Giver, the ability to "see beyond" seems to be linked to a spot-shaped birthmark on one's wrist, as opposed to the book where it was indicated by pale blue eyes.
  • Subverted in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, when Ms. Fanservice's eye tattoo is seen by the savage tribe. The Plucky Comic Relief guesses that they're so excited because they think it's a Birthmark of Destiny that brands her their goddess, but the character who knows their language reveals that, no, it's actually a sign she should be given to the local one-eyed monster. (A cyclops/centaur, that is.)
  • Damien in The Omen, of course, bears the Mark of the Beast (hidden conveniently beneath his hair).
  • Ofelia has one in Pan's Labyrinth, though it's never used by other characters to identify her, only to demonstrate to Ofelia herself that the Faun's story is true. The mark is a small crescent moon on her shoulder/back.
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny: JB and Kage have matching birthmarks, one says "TENAC" and the other says "IOUS D"
    JB: I've had this birthmark since I was born. It's the name of our fuckin' band, dude.
    Kage: I have ass-mark, too.
  • Willow - The movie introduction details this trope right off the bat, telling of a child with a rune birthmark who will overthrow the evil Queen Bavmorda

  • Discussed in Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex. Orion wants Foaly to help him search for one. Foaly is not amused.
  • In Autobiography of Red, Geryon is a red-skinned Winged Humanoid born into an otherwise ordinarily human family. Another character explains that this is a sign of his being a Yazcamac.
  • In The Belgariad:
    • Garion has a circular silver birthmark one of his palms. This mark is actually possessed by every descendant of Riva who is in line to inherit the Rivan throne. It dates back to Riva himself, who had the mark burned into his hand when he carried the Orb of Aldur.
    • Sorcerers also have such a mark somewhere. Polgara's is the distinctive white streak in her otherwise black hair.
    • Among the Ulgo people, the one destined to become their holy man is known by the color of his eyes - they're blue, and stay blue. (All Ulgo have blue eyes at birth, but they darken after a few weeks; the future holy man's eyes don't.)
  • Discworld:
    • Invoked in Wyrd Sisters, when the witches talk about a "strawberry birthmark", despite there being no evidence the lost heir does have one. And nobody's entirely sure what it even means; Nanny Ogg seems to vaguely think it would taste of strawberries.
    • In Guards! Guards! the characters discuss birthmarks as if they're something that can be handed down from father to son. Carrot does, in fact, have one shaped like a crown, but he'd be the first to say that this doesn't mean anything.
  • A main plot point of the childrens' series Dragonblood, which centers on kids born with a dragon heritage who can usually transform into dragons. They all have a dragon-shaped birthmark on their arm.
  • In Joanne Bertin's Dragonlord books, were-dragons are born as humans who have various birthmarks, which can be anything - albinism, splotches of color, shortness, webbed fingers, etc. These are called their Marking. Some of these run in families and the vast majority of birthmarked humans aren't nascent Dragonlords, but oddly enough there is still a stigma to having a birthmark.
  • In The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, Maya Delaney has a paw print shaped birthmark, which is a sign that she is a skin-walker.
  • The Grace of Kings: The Warrior Prince Mata Zyndu's unique eyes — with two faintly glowing pupils in each — are believed to be a sign that he was chosen by the Gods for greatness. He is favored by some of the gods; other gods throw their lot in with different mortals, and Zyndu doesn't survive the first book.
  • Harry Potter: Harry only got the lightning-shaped scar that identifies him as the hero because Voldemort "chose" him as his enemy when he was little (upon hearing an incomplete prophecy) and tried to kill him, thus giving him the scar and the tools to ultimately bring him down.
  • One of the Jedi Apprentice books had this, only the birthmark would only appear in a certain chamber. This revealed that the Crown Prince was not actually the rightful heir, instead the heir was the king's daughter from a previous marriage to a commoner. Who also happened to be the leader of La Résistance.
  • The Mortal Instruments: Clary Fairchild has a star-shaped birthmark on her neck, as does her boyfriend, Jace Herondale. It's a sign of the angel Ithuriel; both were fed his blood before birth, which gave them an unusual trait compared to normal Shadowhunters. The Infernal Devices reveals that Jace would have inherited the birthmark whether or not he was fed by Ithuriel's blood, because all male Herondales descended from Will Herondale (who got marked by Ithuriel while having sex with Tessa Gray. It's a Long Story) are destined to have the mark.
  • Morgon in Patricia McKillip's The Riddle Master Trilogy has three star-shaped birthmarks on his forehead.
  • Deyna's birthmark in The Taggerung. It's a flower-shaped mark on his pawpad, foretold by a seer to mark him as the titular Taggerung (a creature destined to become an unstoppable warrior). This allows the villains to know they've got the right baby when they kitnap him for the honor and strength of their clan. After his relatively effortless Heel Face Turn and the resulting fighting, Deyna has this mark tattooed over so his paw looks like any other otter's paw.
  • In The Outlaw of Torn by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Norman of Torn has a lily-shaped birthmark on his right breast, which eventually proves that he's Prince Richard, lost heir to Henry III.
  • The royal family in the Hero Series all have a royal birthmark indicating as such.
  • In The Prophecy of the Stones, the gift of hope, which allows the protagonists to defeat evil, has been passed down through the generations, with the carriers of hope bearing a sun-shaped scar on their palm. The other protagonist, Joa, reveals at the end that she has such a scar, which connects her plotline to the main one.
  • Faolan from Wolves of the Beyond has a mark shaped like a spiral star on his left paw. He thinks it signals a great destiny.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, Turlough's long-lost little brother was believed to be The Chosen One by his adoptive people, due to a distinctive mark on his shoulder. Subverted in that it wasn't a birthmark or a mark of Destiny, but an identification brand placed on political prisoners by the ones who'd exiled both brothers.
  • In The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg, the druid Cathbad believed Rohan was The Chosen One because of the Mark of Destiny he found on the baby boy. Rohan quickly realizes his destiny when the quest to find the legendary hero Draganta ends with the reveal that he is Draganta. At the end of the first (and only) season, Rohan discovers to his initial horror that the Mark of Destiny is actually a birthmark shared by the other members of his biological family his half-brother Lugad, the half-demon Warrior of Temra, and their mother Queen Maeve.
  • In Storm of the Century, the protagonist Mike's son Ralphie has a little brown spot on his nose that his parents call a "fairy saddle". Andre Linoge immediately wins over Ralphie by calling it a fairy saddle too. It's implied near the end that Linoge rigged the random lottery to decide which child he would take as his own so that he could have Ralphie because of the fairy saddle.

  • In Anna Russell's "How to Write Your Own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera," the fat contralto character of Dandelion reveals (in song, assisted by chorus) that the rich tycoon Claude Billy Bunion was born with a mark "just like a Spanish onion" behind his ear, but being a stupid Gilbert and Sullivan character she switched the bassinets. Such a mark is discovered on the tenor, whom the soprano can now marry instead of the patter baritone, who has to marry the contralto.

  • Parodied in the BBC radio series Hordes Of The Things, where Prince Veganin is told that he bears the birthmark of the High Priest of Zylbor (just after he's slain the old one). Turns out that he's not the only one with the mark, however: the Priests are collecting birthmarks from every possible claimant and throwing away the rest of their bodies, on the assumption that they'll be able to fit all the pieces with birthmarks together into their new High Priest one day.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Parodied in Cox and Box (and the original play Box and Cox) in which Box realises Cox is his long-lost brother because said brother didn't have a birthmark on his arm and nor does Cox!

    Video Games 
  • The main character of Beyond Atlantis, the second game in the Atlantis series, has a mark in the palm of his left hand. It proves he's the one who carries the light part of an alien power.
  • The Qunari in Dragon Age believe that the rare members of the horned humanoids most strongly associated with the Qun born hornless are destined for great things. The Sten from Dragon Age: Origins is one of these hornless. He is the very first member of his race to fight in a Blight, and can even become one of the Qun's triumvirs afterwards.
  • In Dragon Quest XI, The Hero possesses a birthmark on his left hand that marks him as the Luminary - the reincarnation of a great hero from legends. It also allows him to connect with the World Tree and to Deus ex Machina himself out of particularly tough situations.
  • Ecco the Dolphin: Ecco has a group of marks on his head that some in the pod say look like stars in the sky. It is, in fact, the constellation Delphinus.
  • ClockUp's Euphoria: Takato has one on his back and neck that supposedly makes him the "future father of The Messiah" for the ascetic cult that Rinne is leader of.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • As children, both Alm and Celica of Fire Emblem Gaiden noted the oddity of their complementary birthmarks,note  but ultimately had no real significance to them outside of making them figure the other must be special to them. As the game progresses however, the marks bring out varying reactions from plot-relevant enemies and allies alike. It turns out the marks signify the two to be the prophesied heroes of Valentia, destined to put an end to the madness of the nation's reigning dragon gods.
    • In the Jugdral sub-series, Word of God says people who possess holy blood (indicating they are among the oddly rare descendants of the legendary Crusaders) have a birthmark (in-game it just shows up on the stats screen).
    • The Branded from Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn each have a mark somewhere on their bodies to identify that they are descended from both beorc and laguz. A particular brand on the back of someone's right hand marks the bearer as a descendant of Lehran and the true apostle.
    • The Brand of the Exalt (proof of Chrom's family's Heroic Lineage) in Fire Emblem: Awakening. This actually causes his sister Lissa some angst, as she lacks the Brand, making her think she was illegitimate. Her son Owain has the Brand, however, proving she was truly part of the lineage. Note that the brand can appear on some unusual spots though: While Chrom and Owain have theirs on their arms, Lucina's is in her left eye, and a Chrom-fathered Inigo's is in his right eye.
      • A more sinister example is the Mark of Grima on the Avatar's hand.
    • It's revealed in Fire Emblem Fates that the Black Mage Odin has one of these... namely, The Brand of the Exalt, because he's Owain. His daughter Ophelia inherits the mark by default, and if he marries Azura or a female Avatar, their respective sons Shigure and Male Kana inherit it too. And if Ophelia marries a male Avatar, Female Kana will also receive it.
    • While not exactly physically obvious birthmarks, Crests in Fire Emblem: Three Houses serve the same purpose as Holy Blood from the Jugdral games, said to be a gift from the Goddess, and specific Crests are represented by their own symbol. They come in a few categories: The Crests of the Divine, the Four Saints, the Ten Elites, and a few other Crests lost to history. Crests are also a deconstruction of the trope, as not only are Crests a bit more commonplace than the trope would normally indicate, Fódlan's nobility culture is built around them, such as the Book of Seiros declaring the Nobles who bear Crests have a "Noblesse Oblige" responsibility when wielding them, leading to all sorts of social dysfunction. Most Crest bearers are nobles and/or descended from one of the Ten Elites or Four Saints, but lineage isn't guaranteed to produce a Crest, and Crests can pop up in commoners as well. This can lead to situations such as commoners trying to marry Crest-bearing nobles in the hope of increasing their own social status, non-Crest bearing nobles trying to marry into families with Crests, or nobles adopting Crest-bearing commoners. Children of noble lineage born without Crests can lose their inheritance to a younger sibling with a Crest, leading to internal power struggles. Noble children born with Crests don't have it much easier either, as aside from the aforementioned power struggles, they have high expectations placed on them and are frequently subject to loveless arranged marriages for producing more Crests or political advantages for their House. There is also at least one Crest (the Crest of the Beast) that nobody wants due to the storied past of its first human bearer, and so their descendants have experienced persecution. In two known cases in recent times, the desire of a certain cult to get more power out of Crests led them to perform lethal experiments on children to give them two Crests (something conventionally considered impossible), and those who survived the experiments without being crippled or driven insane have a varyingly shortened lifespan. Also, the part about Crests originally being gifted by the Goddess is a historical revision made by Seiros and the Church to cover up the fact that they were stolen by humans, ingesting the blood of Children of the Goddess like her family. Only the Crests of Seiros and the Saints, and maybe the Apostles, were actually gifts made to combat Nemesis; the rest were obtained by Nemesis and the Ten Elites (the latter getting a Historical Hero Upgrade) after killing Sothis and the other Children of the Goddess in a massacre.
  • Certain incarnations of Link from The Legend of Zelda have a birthmark in the shape of the Triforce on their left hand. Occasionally happens to Zelda herself, though not as often. The birthmark tends to show off which piece is theirs, and in some games it only appears when they have it. Ganondorf also has one, though unlike Link and Zelda he is never born with it.
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village: During the gane's climax, it is revealed that Flora Reinhold has a mark shaped like the Golden Apple which is visible when she's enjoying a moment of happiness. This mark is also hidden in her portrait in the Reinhold Manor, and touching it will reveal the late Henry Reinhold's big fortune left to his daughter.
  • In World of Warcraft Illidan Stormrage was born with golden eyes, which meant he had a great destiny. That destiny was lost when Sargeras showed him a vision of the Legion, burning out Illidan's eyes in the process. This gets deconstructed when it's revealed his original destiny was to be the slave of the Light; since the Alliance has been conditioned to believe the Light is Incorruptible Pure Pureness, he would have lost himself to rigid fanaticism and nobody in the Alliance would think it was wrong.note 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Kinzo's polydactyly was interpreted as a sign that he was destined for greatness, which is why he was put in charge of restoring the wealth of the Ushiromiya family.

  • Alinua in Aurora (2019) has a life rune birthmark that denotes her as the current Chimeric Plague carrier. This becomes... increasingly plot-relevant, to say the least.
  • The lesbian pirates in I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!! have been scouring the galaxy for years trying to find their lost princess who was stolen at birth. All they know is that she has a peculiar birthmark on her belly.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long, members of the Huntsclan have dragon-shaped birthmarks. According to Rose, before her Heel–Face Turn, it destines her to slay dragons.
  • In the season 4 premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle's Cutie Mark gains new meaning as a true mark of destiny, as her six-pointed star cutie mark matches both the (retconned) past shape of the Element of Magic, as well as a the symbol on the Tree of Harmony. The Expanded Universe book The Journal of the Two Sisters confirms this further, as when they saw their cutie marks on the Tree of Harmony, they predicted that there would be a third pony with a third symbol, a six-pointed star. This was likely intended from the get-go thanks to Fridge Brilliance, but it doesn't gain any confirmed meaning until a few seasons in.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: Bullwinkle has one of these on on the bottom of his foot/hoof. It's subverted at the end when it turns out that it's actually the design on his bathroom floor mat, imprinted when he stepped out of the tub. Double Subverted when he later reveals that he has another one on the sole of his other foot that won't wash off.
  • Subverted in an episode of Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat where Sagwa's younger sister Sheegwa is thought to be a princess because of a star-shaped birthmark on her body, but at the end of the episode the "birthmark" is accidentally washed off and is revealed to be just a stain of mud.
  • On The Simpsons, the Stone Cutters (who are TOTALLY not the Freemasons) go from heaping punishment on Homer to making him their new leader when they discover a birthmark on his butt is shaped like the Stone Cutters' symbol.
  • Teen Titans gives Raven glowing red birthmarks in the shape of occult-looking symbols all over her body as a sign that she is the daughter of/portal for the demon Trigon. However, these marks are normally invisible and only appear when Trigon is stirring (i.e. only when they're relevant to the plot).