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Carved Mark

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Want another way to help show what a Yandere, Stalker with a Crush, or how distressed/depressed a character is? Don't just have them hurt themselves or another person. Instead of having them create a random wound, make it a recognizable pattern. This could take the form of a word, letters, or a symbol. The mark chosen usually has some sort of symbolism, like the name of a crush, as way to show just how obsessive the person is. It may or may not leave a scar. Done to another person, then it is torture. If it is done to themselves, then it would be a Sub-Trope of Self-Harm, carrying a lot of the same ideas with added symbolism. Or they Couldn't Find a Pen.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Baccano!: Not the skin exactly, but The Rail Tracer threatens Czeslaw Mayer with torture involving "stripping away each individual arm muscle and doing intricate carvings on the exposed bone."
  • In Dragon Half, Mink's father's signature technique carved an "R" on his enemies. Dick Saucer's carved an "S" (Which one opponent thought was a "5").
  • This is done by Noriaki Kakyoin in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders where he carved the words "Baby stand" on his arm in Death 13's dream so he could remind himself in the reality about Mannish Boy's Death 13 stand when he wakes up from the nightmare.
  • In Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest the Big Bad Haguro Dou becomes completely and crazily obsessed with protagonist (and werewolf) Inugami. He initially doesn't care about or even think twice about Inugami... until he pushes Inugami too far. Which results in Inugami showing him his true form and scaring Haguro. Haguro goes insane from it, and obsesses and stalks Inugami after that, even cutting himself all over his arm and carving the word "Inu" onto his hand.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Batman uses the sharp edge of a batarang to carve a Zorro-style Z on Lex Luthor's face.
  • During Bendis' Daredevil run, Daredevil (who's been in a bit of a bad place lately) fights his old enemy Bullseye for the first time since Bullseye killed his girlfriend Karen Page. Daredevil mocks Bullseye, saying that he found out about his past and tells him how pathetic he really is. After beating him down, Daredevil notices that Bullsyee now has a tattoo of a bullseye on his forehead. Taunting him about trying to have a "symbol", Daredevil grabs a nearby sharp object and carves an actual bullseye into his head.
  • A Running Gag in Knights of the Dinner Table involves the player characters waking up somewhere after their latest Zany Scheme has gone awry to discover that pixie fairy runes of shame have been carved into their buttocks.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: When the League first encounters Fu Manchu he is writing on someone's back with acid or other corrosive chemical. It establishes that he's not a nice guy.

    Fan Works 
  • Ask The Main Four: Cartman was given a scar on his back this way as a revenge.
  • In the Death Note Dark Fic The Faceless (Disguise of Carnivorism), L carves his own name into his flesh while being held prisoner at Kira's POW Camp in an attempt to remember who he is.
  • In the infamous The Girl Who Lived series, Rose Potter magically inscribes the words "Potter stinks" into Ron's forehead just because he questioned her relationship with Hermione. (Furthermore, the only reason he is asking is because he is being Locked Out of the Loop.) This was considered a Moral Event Horizon crossing in the eyes of critics, and considered to be proof that Rose is just as horrible as Voldemort.
  • Hivefled: The Makara and Peixes symbols were carved into the back of Gamzee's neck in the style of the now-obsolete traditional slave marks (troll slavery was banned when enough other species were conquered to be used instead), along with words translated from the Con Lang Alternian as "slut", "pet", "rape toy", "pail", and "worthless". The final brand, "namoha", translates as "one who is owned by a higher", and binds him forever to the Highblood. Yeah, it's that kind of fanfic.
  • In the Adventure Time fanfic "I Called You", Simon carves "I am Simon; I am not king!" into his arm in an effort to keep from losing himself to the crown's influence.
  • In the Emergency! fic "Lost and Found", Gage has three parallel lines carved into his abdomen with a knife by his captor. The man's earlier victims had them as well. He tells John it marks him as his.
  • In another Death Note Dark Fic Monster, when Light "recovers" L, he carves an "L" into his hip. L muses it's a "two percent chance that the L was for Lawliet, and a ninety-eight percent chance it was for "Light's"."
  • Owl's Hell That Ends Well:
    • Octavia has a intricate one on the back of her neck. Said carving it revealed to be part of an enchanted spell, that keeps her from being detected by Stolas, and other spell casters, or even other hellhounds. It's later revealed to possess some of Metatron's own power, something that should be impossible.
    • Baron has a horrifying one on his chest, which he reveals to a young Octavia, saying: Property of Baroness Eathelin, with the Baroness Eathelin striked out and replaced with: NOBODY.
  • In the Lost Girl fic, Scars, Bo has become lost to the darkness inside her. After she and Lauren get into a fight, Bo rapes her (all night long), and claims Lauren as her property by carving a "B" into her shoulder. Lauren is, quite understandably, left emotionally and mentally broken by the ordeal.
  • In the Gravity Falls fanfic "Tale of the Pines", various words were carved into Stanley's back, most of which were illegible - the only one to remain readable was the Spanish word "puta" (meaning "whore"). Ford is naturally horrified when he sees the scars, but is also confused as to the term's significance due to not knowing any Spanish.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Anazapta is the word carved onto the back of the various corpses that start cropping up after Jacques de Saint Amant arrives in town. Jacques himself has a scar from the cross that was carved on his chest when he was a baby.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman brands his symbol into the skin of a criminal he takes down. A news report later notes that this significantly shortens the life expectancy of the criminals he does this to, as other criminals tend to single out these people in jail for violent treatment. Batman nearly does this to Lex Luthor at the end, but he changes his mind and instead decides to punch a bat-shaped hole in the wall behind Luthor.
  • In Daredevil (2003), Psycho for Hire Bullseye has a set of crosshairs carved into his forehead between his eyes.
  • In Fear (1996) David carves the name Nicole (the girl he's Yandere for) into his chest.
  • In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Neil Patrick Harris brands his initials on prostitutes.
  • In Harry Potter, Bellatrix carves the Fantastic Slur "Mudblood" into Hermione's arm.
  • The swastikas carved by the Inglourious Basterds in the foreheads of their surviving victims.
  • Julia X: The Serial Killer known as 'the Brand Killer' brands the buttocks of his victims with a letter of the alphabet before he murders them. He brands an 'X' on Julia's butt, but she escapes before he can kill her.
  • Kong: Skull Island: Although their body paint makes it hard to see at a distance, many of the Iwi also have numerous tribal symbols and hieroglyphs carved into their very skin.
  • In Looper, when a future looper comes back to the present and starts causing trouble, a way of communicating with them is to grab their younger self, and carve words into their arm. The scars appear on the future self at the same time (the film does not follow the idea of the Stable Time Loop), and they get ordered to be at a certain place or their younger self dies rather horribly. When one future looper is late for his ordered execution, his nose and limbs start disappearing as his younger self is dismembered. At one point, Young Joe contacts Old Joe by carving "Beatrix" into his own arm, Beatrix being the waitress at a diner Joe frequently visits. Played for laughs when Old Joe points out that a woman named Jen also works there. "Fewer letters."
  • The Loved Ones: Lola's Calling Card is the hearts she carves into her victims' chests as part of their torture.
  • Blackbeard carves a trident-shaped sort of mark into Jack Sparrow's chest (with voodoo, no less) in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The P for "Pirate" on Jack's right arm also counts, though it's branded, not carved; Cutler Beckett personally branded him and describes it as "his mark".
  • The main character in Prey For Rock N Roll tattoos the word RAPIST on the forehead of her bandmate's attacker.
  • Invoked in Promising Young Woman. Cassie plans to carve Nina's name into her rapist Al's chest so he can never forget her name. She ultimately doesn't manage it.
  • In Snuff Movie, Teenaged killer X has an 'X' carved into her forehead (which she presumably did to herself). Later, Angie has the word 'WHORE' tattooed on her forehead by Jack as punishment for her infidelity.
  • In the opening scene of The Harder They Fall (2021), after slaughtering his parents, Buck carves a cross into the young Nate’s forehead. Nate spends his life assuming it was so he would never forget Buck and what he did to him. It turns out Buck did it for himself, so he would recognize Nate when he came for his revenge.
  • The Tripper: When Samantha finds the naked bodies of her fiends in the van, the killer has written 'JUST SAY NO' across the corpses. The words 'JUST SAY' have been carved into two of the bodies while 'NO' has been written in blood on a third.

  • In Gary Jennings' Aztec, after the Spaniards arrive, many of the indigenous people are taken into slavery. Their captors carve the letter "G" into one cheek, for "guerra," marking them as war captives.
  • The Ganymede Takeover. Gus Swenesgard sends one of his minions to contact the Black Muslim resistance to offer a We Can Rule Together deal. They dump his naked corpse back in Gus's territory with the words WE DON'T NEED YOU, WHITE MAN carved on his back with lasers.
  • Played with in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Umbridge has Harry use a special quill to write "I must not tell lies" on a piece of paper, but the quill magically carves the sentence into the back of his hand and writes the words in his blood on the paper.
  • In Stephen King's It Henry Bowers carved the first letter of his name into Ben Hanscomb's belly with a knife, and would have put his whole name down there if Ben hadn't fought back and gotten away. Ben still had an H-shaped scar on his stomach nearly 30 years later to show for it.
  • Millennium Series: It's a tattoo rather than a cut, but the principle is the same when Lisbeth Salander tattoos her rapist with the words "I am a sadistic pig, a pervert and a rapist". (Plus, the line is extremely blurred anyway as she is doing it for the first time and it's very painful looking.)
  • This is the central trope in Franz Kafka's "The Punishment Machine", and might well have inspired the Harry Potter example.
  • In the third arc of the Red Dwarf novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Lister discovers his arms suddenly hurt and the areas of pain spell out a message. He soon realizes that it's a warning that he, Rimmer and Cat are trapped in the VR game "Better Than Life" and Kryten had to inflict this in the real world in order to get through to him.
  • In Sharp Objects, Camille has a compulsive need to carve words into her own skin. She always wears conservative clothing to hide the scars.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel. A vampire sired by Angelus adopted his Calling Card of slicing a cross in the cheek of his victims to spite God.
  • In the Breakout Kings episode "Steaks", Villain of the Week Oliver brands his initials on to two of his victims.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "I Robot, You Jane" had Malcom, the kid who was running the show for Moloch, the demon in the computer, burning a design on his arm with some type of computer-powered laser.
  • CSI: NY:
    • The Cabbie Killer from season 4 carves "L2729" on the back of his victims' necks with a piece of gravestone. The last episode of his arc, "Taxi", reveals that it stands for Leviticus 27:29, which refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them. He fancied himself the Greek god Charon, a.k.a. The Ferryman of Hades, whose duty it was to transport the newly dead down the River Styx.
    • The leader of the vampire coven in "Sanguine Love" uses a sharpened ankh to carve the same symbol into the inside of all the members' left wrists.
  • Doctor Who: In "Cold War", the Doctor says that the enemies of Ice Warrior war hero Grand Marshal Skaldak would carve his name into their flesh to honour him as they died, which seriously weirds Clara out.
  • In Game of Thrones members of the Faith Militant carve the symbol of their faith, the Seven Pointed Star, into their foreheads.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: In "Branded" Two of the three perps have the words "ruiner" and "traitor" carved on their chests by the Victim of the Week with a coat hanger in retaliation for raping her and getting her pregnant while she was attending summer camp when she was only 13.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Piper gets a swastika burnt into her arm in retribution for creating a white power group and framing Maria for her panty business. She gets Red to burn it into a window to fix it.
  • Oz:
    • Schillinger offers to be Beecher's new cellmate. Beecher accepts the offer from the seemingly helpful Schillinger, but on their first night in the cell together Schillinger rapes Beecher and "brands" him by burning a swastika design into his right buttock.
    • Keller later tries to cheer Beecher up about it by showing him different patterns the swastika can changed into, but Beecher declines pointing out those involve his ass being branded even more.
  • In the show Sharp Objects, the lead character Camille has numerous words written in scars all of over body done as acts of self-harm.
  • Utopia:
    • In series 1, Milner tells the tale of a man who had a carving of the Chinese character for "rabbit" on his stomach. Later in the series, it is revealed that The Assistant bears that carving after getting killed. But in the finale it is revealed that it was all a lie and that the real Mr. Rabbit was Milner all along.
    • In the finale of series 2, Wilson Wilson carves the character onto his stomach as the heroes are kidnapped.

  • In the P!nk music video "Fucking Perfect" there's a girl who carves the word "Perfect" into her arm in the bathtub.
  • The "Weird Al" Yankovic sung-by-a-stalker song "Do I Creep You Out?" (sung to the tune of "Do I Make You Proud?") has the lyric:
    Call you every night and hang up / Gonna carve your name in my leg / In my leg, oh, oh!


    Video Games 
  • In Baldur's Gate III, Astarion bears an infernal scar on his back, resembling a kind of ritual circle, which was given to him by his former master Cazador. The scar is actually part of a dark ritual to sacrifice him along with his fellow vampire spawn for Cazador to become a Daywalking Vampire.
  • In The Phantom, one of the first chapters of Murder in the Alps, the bodies of Claudia Perret and Helmut Grass have strange Hindu markings carved on their arms, making it appear as if this is a case of ritual killings. The killer acted on the orders of the Nazi Party to kill their agents Claudia and Helmut for their failure to capture Charles Clark, the renowned professor of archaeology, in the previous chapter. The symbols were carved in order to frame Professor Clark, but the killer neglected to take into account the fact that Clark is an expert of the Vedic branch of Indian religions, so he used Shaivist symbols instead.

  • In the webcomic Goblins, the Goblin Slayer carved the word "MONSTER" into Fumbles' forehead. Some other prisoners have had words carved into their foreheads as well, such as "COWARD".
  • In Lackadaisy, Serafine invites Mordecai to join the Maitre Carrefour cult. When he refuses, she forcibly carves a Voodoo glyph in the shape of a wheel with eight spokes into his chest.
  • My Impossible Soulmate: All demons have their name carved somewhere on their body, as carving said name into someone is part of the process by which they were turned into one.
  • One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip had a guy meet his date who carved his name into her face. He was more upset because he thought she was the type to make him handle the bill.

    Web Animation 
  • In Super-Showdown-Bowl!, Zorro himself actually tries to scratch a "Z" over the Oscar being's buttocks, but to no avail. He retaliates by carving an "O" into the hero's chest, yet another Ironic Death.

    Web Original 
  • To Write Love On Her Arms - Renee cuts "FUCK UP" on her arm.
  • Adam Dodd of Survival of the Fittest carved the word "rapist" into the chest of Cody Jenson, who had raped Madelaine Shirohara before killing her, during the conclusion of their final battle.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Richey Edwards and his infamous 4REAL incident.
  • Ashley Todd became internet famous when she said she was attacked by a Scary Black Man who carved the letter "B" for Barack Obama into her face. Turns out she was faking, and part of how it was proved was that the "B" was backward because she did it in a mirror.