Sometimes someone will find another person they want. They could be a Love Interest, Lust Object, or pure obsession — or, it may have nothing to do with that and the object of their desire is nothing more than a Living MacGuffin or Phlebotinum Girl. At even further extremes they could genuinely want the character to join their family, or they could want to possess them to Break the Haughty.
Whatever the motivation, sometimes a character is supernatural enough to make it happen with none of those pesky things like "permission" and "consent".
This can take many forms:
- A goddess could bestow a holy aura to designate her champion...
- A demon could generate a magic tattoo that claims the bearer's soul...
- An Eldritch Abomination could saddle their victim with a Clingy MacGuffin to demonstrate their influence...
- A vampire could deliver a special bite to mark this human as their personal prey...
- A werewolf could alter the adopted one's scent or pheromones to claim them as part of their pack...
- A fantastic humanoid or Green-Skinned Space Babe could alter their beloved's presence in some way only detectable to their kind to advertise the bearer as their chosen mate...
- This list is not definitive; almost any mix-and-match or variation on the above could happen if the claimer is being creative.
The one wearing the new mark may not be aware of its presence at all, or if they are, may not realize its significance. If they do, don't expect them to be able to do anything about it (or, eventually, to want anything to be done — many marks are insidious like that). Whether the marked one knows about it or not is usually immaterial to the marker; its purpose is plain and simple, and that's to tell everyone "hands off — this one belongs to me".
The intent may not be — and often isn't — actively malicious; an attempt to protect a loved one (or Chosen One) or a bonding is as likely as a curse. Even the benevolent versions, though, are often performed without foreknowledge or permission, as an attempt to protect the marked one from the knowledge or consequences of it. Actually getting that permission and bestowing the mark will often be as solemn and meaningful as a wedding or knighthood ritual, depending on the connotations.
This mark often comes with unwanted side effects, good or bad; these commonly include heightened emotions or sex drive, unwanted physical changes such as a new eye color, enhanced sensitivity to the supernatural, or altered mental state (particularly if their opinion of or behavior toward the one who marked them is changed). Might be used to invoke Synchronization, Mindlink Mates, or More Than Mind Control to encourage a reluctant partner. At times it might even backfire — what was intended to be a protection becomes bait that draws in other strong supernaturals who want to steal them from their marker.
May overlap with Touched by Vorlons or Cursed With Awesome when the claim grants the marked person a power-up or new ability. Inversely a backfiring mark could be Blessed with Suck. May also overlap with Mark of Shame if it was applied against their will or they have since changed their mind, especially if they are a Hunter of Monsters. Compare Slave Collar and Slave Brand for the mundane variations (although they are not mutually exclusive).
Supertrope to Mark of the Beast, which is specifically a mark of an evil force on a fallen character; may overlap with Red Right Hand if the mark is supposed to show the audience that they are (or are thought to be) evil, or with Birthmark of Destiny, though a significant birthmark doesn't have to be supernatural.
Not to be confused with Mark of the Supernatural, which is when a person has a mark that indicates they themselves are supernatural.
- In Berserk, when the Eclipse goes down, the Band of the Hawk are all marked with the "Brand of Sacrifice", denoting their terminal role in Griffith's ascension ritual. Only Guts and Casca escape being eaten by demons, because the Skull Knight pulls a last-minute rescue. Henceforth, still marking them as sacrifices, the Brand attracts demons to the two and bleeds when they come near. Guts is hounded every night by the monsters, which attack him in all kinds of ways, forcing him to fight or die. However, the Brand is also known to afford some advantages to Guts: he has some warning before demons appear, so they can't sneak up on him, and being branded shifts him slightly into the spirit realm, which allows him to do harm to non-physical beings, at least to some extent, a situation that Guts takes full advantage of.
- In Descendants of Darkness, the retina of a famous violinist is marked with the seal of a devil who will claim his soul when he dies. The retina is transplanted to another person, who also becomes bound by the contract.
- In Hell Girl, every person who makes a covenant with Enma Ai, the title character, is marked with a black flame tattoo on their chest once they pull the red string and send the target of their vengeance to Hell. There's nothing they can do about it, and it's a sign that upon death, they are also bound for Hell, no matter how they live the rest of their lives.
- The manga Rasetsu follows a young woman who has been claimed by an evil spirit that fell in love with her. He marked her with the image of a rose when she was 15 and plans to claim her when the mark fully blooms.
- The first Vampire Hunter D movie starts with Doris being marked by Count Magnus Lee (shown as an unhealing bite mark on her neck) and she hires D to take care of him before he comes back to claim her completely.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: *
- The spirit of the Ring claims Ryou with the Clingy MacGuffin of the Ring itself; it was thrown away several times and always returned for the spirit to possess him again.
- Dartz was marked by the Leviathan in Atlantis, signified by one eye changing from gold to green. (By the show he's had it for so long most would be likely to take as a Mark of the Supernatural instead - which his natural gold eye actually is.)
- The Signers from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's have the Dragon's Birthmarks, signifying that they were chosen by the Crimson Dragon.
- 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 of the vampires' prey, and they didn't know who to eat so couldn't risk eating anyone 'innocent'.
- Bleach fic Stalkers of the Night has vampire Shirosaki marking the protagonist with a bite (and she is then promptly treated as his vulnerability by some faceless antagonists). Vampire Ichigo also seems to have a bad habit of marking any attractive female that gets inside his personal space.
- Non-mating example: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer story The Mark of Kayne has Xander marked to become a demon's servant.
- Devil May Cry story Demon Drive has demons and half-demons going into a yearly heat which causes demons to pursue them and can only be stopped by such a mark.
- Massively Multiplayer Crossover Blood and Revolution has a couple of examples:
- Vampires Kenshin and Aoshi mark Saitou as their prey with bites.
- Likewise vampire Seth accidentally claims Mokuba as his prey when he can't control his instincts.
- Bakura (an incubus/demon) puts a magic tattoo-like mark on Seto to claim him.
- Bakura puts a different tattoo on Aoshi that claims him for the chaos goddess.
- Aoshi's Animated Tattoo snake bites people to mark them as vessels of Orochi.
- Inuyasha story In a Blue Moon has Inuyasha unwittingly marking Sesshoumaru as his mate with a bite mark. (Naraku then takes that bait and tries to replace it.)
- Inuyasha story Mating Mark: The Curse Mark goes into detail about how much suffering a demon's mating mark would cause their chosen mate if she were to ever be with another man.
- Inuyasha story Marked has the OC protagonist claimed by a demon's bite.
- The premise of Inuyasha story Mark is that Inuyasha inadvertently marks Kagome as his mate.
- In the Kingdom Hearts fanfic Contract: after Vanitas tricks Ven into making a contract with him to buy his soul, he rapes him and leaves a mark/hickey of a broken gear on his neck- which is the keychain for Vanitas' Keyblade in canon.
- NUMB3RS story In the Dark involves Don having been marked with two small fang scars as a sign that he belongs to a vampire and warning to others to leave him alone. Another vampire touching the marks seems to summon his claimant ( Charlie) to protect him.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction Vampire's Rose features vampire slayer Amy being marked by vampire-Sonic as his mate against her will.
- Teen Titans story The Mark of the Demon includes certain people who have been marked by a demon and thus can "do evil without [spiritual] consequence and good without reward".
- The True Blood fic Markings has the protagonist actually having been born with a vampire mark, which takes the form of a tattoo-appearing birthmark.
- Twilight story Demons, Warriors, and the End of the World? has Bella marked as a chosen one of the Nyx* .
- Played two ways in the Vampiresnote story Marks - there is a cultural expectation that donors will be branded with their vampire's initials, which is defied, and there is a natural, once in a lifetime set of supernatural marks for "pleasure, pain, and trust", which cause an empathic bond between them and means that even if one dies the other will never be able to fall in love again.
- Stain, a Yu Yu Hakusho story, has demons being claimed with a bite mark which binds them; Kurama specifically is claimed by another kitsune.
- This turns out to be a key plot point in Cinderjuice. It's subverted, however, since not only is Lydia unaware that she's been (invisibly) marked, but even Beetlejuice - who "marked" her - doesn't realize he did it. By the end of the story, it works both ways.
- This is usually how the Zeros are chosen in Project Bluefield. Bluefield wasn't an exception.
- In the Naruto fic, Kamikakushi, Tobirama has a dragon tattoo on his leg marking him as this.
- A number of Supernatural fics interpret the handprint Castiel left on Dean's shoulder as this.
- Constantine. When Constantine meets Isabel Dodson's soul in Hell, she has a mark on her wrist that looks like a cross inside a circle. When Father Hennessy touches her dead body the mark appears on her wrist. Constantine later discovers that the mark is the symbol of the Big Bad Mammon and that Mammon is trying to possess her in order to carry out his evil plan.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: The Black Spot symbolizes that a person owes his soul to Davy Jones and they will be pursued to the ends of the Earth by the Kraken.
- In Doctor Strange (2016), Kaecilius and his zealots have the symbol of the Dark Dimension branded on their foreheads which marks them as users of its power, and an odd decayed purple pattern around their eyes that marks them as servants of Dormammu. The Ancient One also has a certain symbol on her forehead...
- In The Deed of Paksenarrion, the main character Paks is branded as a victim of the god Liart by his priests. Then after five days and nights of torment at their hands to buy the freedom of the king, the mark is magically transformed to that of the High Lord of all the gods of good.
The priests called other guards, who yanked her upward, head still lolling — now all could see that Liart's black brand no longer centered her forehead. Instead, a silver circle gleamed there as if inset in the bone itself. At that, the priests of Liart shrank away, their masked faces averted from the High Lord's holy symbol.
- In the The Demon's Lexicon trilogy, Demonic Possession is a three-tiered process where each step leaves a special mark with certain properties (being able to track the prey, bad dreams, etc.). If you get three marks, you're screwed.
- In The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff, the women of Alysha Gale's family have a habit of putting an invisible magical mark on their man. It's one word: "Mine."
- "Fairest of All": Every month, Siofra's King cuts open her arms and legs to write his name on her bones. He tells her that it's a spell to protect her from other creatures, who can kill her with a touch, but it seems to be really the equivalent of a Slave Brand.
- In The Girl from the Miracles District, the eponymous district marks the auras of those who spend too much time in it, making it impossible for them to leave it without slipping into a coma.
- Harry Potter
- Intra-species bound servant example: Voldemort marks his inner circle of proven-loyal Death Eaters with the Dark Mark, an indelible magic tattoo which he is able to use to summon them and which becomes more or less distinct with his power rising or decreasing.
- Voldemort also inadvertently marks Harry with a scar when he tries to kill him with the infamous Killing Curse; this serves as a mental conduit, a sign of their connection, and an indicator of his power and mood.
- Peter Pettigrew gets a special replacement for his missing hand, a magical hand that Voldemort gave him both because he was more useful to him in one piece, as a show of rewarding the services to him for his other minions and to keep him in check, because that hand was more Voldemort's than Wormtail's extension and would turn against its wielder if he ever did something that the Dark Lord would disapprove of. That's why it ends up claiming his life.
- In the Left Behind series, it's both the 144,000 of the twelve tribes of Israel and the Tribulation saints who have put their faith in Jesus Christ that are sealed with a cross on their foreheads that only other believers can see. This mark means that they forever belong to God and nothing and nobody can remove them from His protective hand. Chang Wong, who was already a believer when the Mark of the Beast was forced upon him, had both marks during the time he operated as a mole inside New Babylon. During the Millennial Kingdom, "naturals" who become believers before their 100th birthday belong to God forever and are supernaturally protected.
- In S.J. Day's Marked novels, the Mark of Cain, a sigil originally borne by the biblical Cain, is bestowed on mortals by angels. In the first book, protagonist Eve Hollis is rather memorably marked this way when she has a quickie in a stairwell with a man who later turns out to be Cain's brother Abel.
- Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell: Silver can reverse the effects of a Shade's Touch of Death, but people who are treated late are left with characteristic patches of withered flesh. Downplayed in that the Shades don't seem to care either way, but the living see it as a sign of ill fortune and tend to ostracize people who are so marked.
- Steel Crow Saga has a consensual version when a human and an animal form a Shadepact bond: they both manifest a unique symbol at a random, identical spot on their bodies. Xiulan wears Peek-a-Bangs because her and her Shade's are on their left eyes.
- In Thud!, Vimes becomes host to the Summoning Dark while investigating a murder, a primordial spirit of vengeance and wrath. Its tailed-eyeball symbol doesn't appear on his body until after he expels it from his mind, but random objects around him start 'coincidentally' forming it when jostled (such as a turnip falling onto a partly-uncoiled garden hose, or knocked-over game pieces rolling around on a board). The mark is so widely known and feared by dwarvenkind that even the Low King fears it. Vimes' own inner sense of justice, the Guarding Dark, is all that forces it to relent from making him murder the dwarves responsible rather than bring them to justice.
- The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign: Whenever a summoner does something that impresses one of the setting's god-like figures, they recognize this achievement with an Award - a mark carved into the summoner's soul. Summoners with at least 100 Awards are Invisible to Normals, and it's rumored that someone who gains 1000 Awards will become an immortal Material. Of special note is the unique Award "Loved by the White", given by the White Queen to the person she loves, held by the main character Kyousuke.
- In The Wheel of Time:
- The most favored servants of the Dark One are spiritually bonded to him; for the legendary Forsaken, this allows them to command Shadowspawn and insulates them from the Dark One's corruption on the male aspect of the True Source that fuels magic. On one unique occasion, Rand is able to identify and sever those bonds, to the horror of that Forsaken.
- Shaidar Haran, a unique Shadowspawn avatar of the Dark One, touches the high-ranking Darkfriend Alviarin to mark her as under his protection. She finds the experience slightly traumatic, though it leaves no visible sign.
- Lost Girl. Bo learns with slow-dawning horror that Lauren is actually a slave to the supernatural Ash in the world of the Fae. While initially a good example of Happiness in Slavery, the Ash's claim to Lauren becomes more and more problematic as the series goes on.
- Game of Thrones: Bran reveals in "The Rightful Queen" that he has the mark of the Night King's hand on his arm from when the latter touched him in a vision two seasons earlier, and that because of it the Night King knows where he is at all times.
- This goes back all the way to the first book of the Bible with the Mark of Cain, which warns people not to kill Cain or risk God's displeasure.
- In the Book of Ezekiel, God has an angel mark those in Jerusalem that would be spared from slaughter.
- In the Book of Revelation, God has an angel mark 144,000 of the twelve tribes of Israel with the seal of God on their foreheads.
- In the book of Ephesians, Paul the apostle says that God seals believers in Christ with the Holy Spirit, that, according to Calvinist theology, means that they forever belong to God and could never be lost. This seems to go hand in hand with what Jesus said in the gospel of John: "I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, nor shall anyone snatch them from My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them from My Fathers hand."
- Call of Cthulhu supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "Black Devil Mountain". The undead Indian shaman who lives under Howl Mound gives a young human girl named Margot Desplaines an amber amulet marked with the words "The Chosen" written in the old Welsh alphabet, indicating that he has diabolical future plans for her.
- One of the darkest possible spins on this is Changeling: The Lost, starring people who were abducted by The Fair Folk and reshaped to said Fair Folk's whims. This is, explicitly, an experience traumatic enough that they don't so much have a Karma Meter or Sanity Meter as a PTSD Meter.
- Earthdawn. Horrors have the innate ability to place a Horror Mark on Namegivers. The Horror can use the mark to track the victim and even use other Horror abilities on them through it. Anyone with a Horror Mark on them is justifiably considered undesirable (to say the least) by other Namegivers and is usually sent away for everyone's good.
- In Exalted, 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.
- Being branded all over one's body with the mark of a (completely randomly-chosen) god is one of the less ridiculous possible consequences of a Magic Misfire in FATAL.
- Warhammer and Warhammer40000 occasionally have marks of Chaos appearing on mortal worshipers. One mildly unnerving piece of art from one edition of Warhammer depicted a pair of eyes with the pupils turned into eight-pointed stars. In the latte, this mark is seen as heretical by the theocratic Imperium of Man and must be snuffed out with extreme prejudice. The person marked with it will most likely be overjoyed at the mark as they've likely already turned to Chaos.
- Warhammer: Valten was born with a twin-tailed comet on his chest, a symbol that he is The Chosen One of Sigmar. The village where he grew up initially believed that it was a Portent of Doom, presumably because the last twin-tailed comet destroyed Mordheim.
- 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.
- In Final Fantasy XIV, the process of Tempering claims the soul of members of the spoken (read: sentient) races for a Primal, whether or not the Primal has yet been summoned. Once Tempered, the process is irreversible, and that soul cannot be bound to anothernote . It is hypothesized that the Player Characters ability to use the Echo is a form of Tempering employed by the Mother-Crystal Hydaelyn, spirit of the planet. This theory is disproven when Hydaelyn's Tempering of the Warrior of Light is lost and yet the Echo remains.
- It later turns out that Midgardsormr didn't break that Tempering, just suppressed it by breaking the Warrior of Light's connection to the six elemental crystals. And then, much much later, it transpires that all the Ascians have also been Tempered... by Zodiark.
- The main character of Beyond Atlantis, the second game in the Atlantis: The Lost Tales 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.
- Neverwinter Nights Hordes of the Underdark has the Relic of the Reaper, a piece of Mephistopheles' flesh and is what binds the PC to him.
- In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Dagda resurrects Nanashi as a walking corpse with Resurrective Immortality as a part of a Deal with the Devil, and marks his left arm and right cheek with a green tattoo. If Nanashi refuses to unseal a certain demon, Dagda will force him to do so with his marked left hand, despite Nanashi being right-handed. On both Neutral Ending routes, Nanashi loses the markings after fulfilling his end of the contract. On Bonds, Dagda restores Nanashi to a normal human state. On Massacre, Nanashi attains godhood and no longer requires Dagda's power to live.
- In The Elder Scrolls series, St. Alessia, the "Slave Queen", was the leader of the 1st Era rebellion of Cyrodiil's human population against the Daedra-worshiping Ayleids, now known as the Alessian Revolt. After escaping slavery herself, she prayed to the Aedra for aid, and they answered by lending aid against the Ayleids forces both subtly and directly. Akatosh, the draconic chief deity of the Aedra, imbued Alessia with "Dragon Blood" and placed her soul in the central stone of the Amulet of Kings, symbolizing Akatosh's covenant with mankind to protect Mundus from the forces of Oblivion (the Daedra). As part of her Bargain with Heaven, she created the religion of the Eight Divines, worshiping the eight Aedra who aided her, to be the religion of her new Empire in return.
- In Dies Irae, the main character Ren Fujii is given the same decapitation scar on his neck as Marie after he finally accepts the guillotine and her soul within himself. And although he doesn't know it, he is also branded with the Caduceus on his eyes due to him being a relic created by Mercurius. After he attains Eine Faust Finale, he is also branded with the Caduceus on his chest.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures
- 'Cubi clan signs appear when a 'cubi first taps into their Clan founder's power, and can't be concealed by shapeshifting. Makeup, on the other hand, works just fine.
- When a Fae decides to curse a mortal for offending them, they often don't have anything in particular in mind, so they mark their intended victim with glowing sigils wrapped around the wrist as a kind of magical IOU while they try to come up with a fitting punishment. In the meantime, the mark serves as a warning that anyone who tries to harm the bearer will earn swift retaliation from the Fae in question.
- 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 he tries to sell himself to a demoness.
- In the Beetlejuice fan comic Cobweb and Stripes, which is a merging of the film and the cartoon, Betelgeuse does a form of this to Lydia so she can visit the Neitherworld while still alive. The "mark" isn't visible, but it does involve her ingesting a bit of his "essence" in order to make the trip. A later strip implies that this could potentially have repercussions of an uncertain nature.
- In Sorcery 101, powerful vampires can "claim" werewolves as their property by interacting with them directly. It has no effect on the werewolves' behaviour, but is noticeable to other vampires; a side comic describes it as the werewolf's aura being changed by the presence of a scarier predator.
- In The Weave, Tally has a flower-shaped mark on her hand after she got into contact with the blood of the murdered fairy queen Rhiannon. By those means, Rhiannon has bound Tally to her ghost, wanting to use her for her revenge. Emil reveals to Tally that he has a similar mark on his chest, though he doesn't reveal to whom he is bound.
- Whateley Universe: Demon marks, irreversible marks of ownership from a demon. If you have one, the demon owns your soul and can control you almost utterly any time they want. However, as said Insanity Prerequisite (Part 1):
you have to be willing to accept it on some subconscious level for the mark to appear."
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Princess Yue has white hair because the moon spirit gave some of its energy to save her life when she was a baby. Eventually, she is called upon to return the favor.
- 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 lord Trigon. However, these marks are normally invisible and only appear when Trigon is stirring (i.e. only when they're relevant to the plot).
- In X-Men: Evolution, Mystique, Magneto, Xavier, and Storm receive markings similar to those of Apocalypse when he "recruits" them as his horsemen.
- In Reboot, the virus Hexadecimal gives Little Enzo a "gift" in the form of turning his icon strange and "viral-looking" before her Heroic Sacrifice, to ensure he "doesn't end up like Matrix". Everyone is understandably afraid that it is this, fearing what it could mean as Hex had turned good but was far from sane or predictable. It's not: it turns out to actually be somewhat of a "cure" for nullification that allows Little Enzo to restore the mind of their nullified father Welman Matrix.