Many times, when an author wishes to identify a certain character as a badass, said character will be given some sort of horrific permanent disfigurement. Most of the time, the disfigurement will stay unnoticed, possibly out of respect for they that are marked, or because the story behind it is too horrible for the others to imagine. But there always exists the chance that some bystander will ask about the scar, in which case the Badass is contractually obliged to explain it. When they are, expect the story to be long-winded, fantastical, and involving at least one Moment of Awesome. In other words, a Remember When You Blew Up a Sun? moment.
Super-Trope to A Scar to Remember, when the story has the scar. Similar to Scar Survey, but can occur between any two characters (not just hero/heroine) at any time (not just after sex). Can overlap with Rugged Scar. In the case of Rugged Scar, the story is not the important part, just the general fact that having the scar makes the character seem tougher.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
- The character of Gouda Kazunto gets a chance to explain the particular disfigurement of his head, which includes a somewhat iconic pointy shape.
- Then, in Second Gig, Saito tells a group of poker players how he lost his eye.
- Ibiki Morino's scars are the result of being tortured and interrogated by enemy shinobi. The Land of Tea arc in the anime implies that some of his scars were pre-existing at the time of his encounter with Aoi.
- Gaara's "love" scar on his forehead happened when he attacked himself with his sand after an assassination attempt by his uncle.
- Kakashi has a scar over the eye he lost and replaced with a Sharingan. He received it saving Obito from an attack that would have likely killed him.
- The third Raikage has a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his chest. It turns out that this was self-inflicted, as he collapsed from exhaustion during a fight with the Eight-Tailed Beast, and accidentally stabbed himself with his own jutsu. Realizing this fact helps Naruto defeat the resurrected Raikage.
- Rurouni Kenshin - The titular Manslayer's signature cross scar marks him as who he is and the incidents that caused it made him decide to become a Technical Pacifist.
- Fullmetal Alchemist has Scar who received his scar after his town was blown up by Kimblee.
- In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, many characters have them, and the the protagonist in particular is a shining example: Tanjiro Kamado has aquired quite a few of them over the series, all with a story to tell, from a clear demonstration of his role as a protector for his family the one on his forehead, to all the hurdles he went through fighting demons arms, chest, jaw.
- Sgt. Frog has Giroro's noticeable scar across his face, allegedly caused by Keroro
- Kurei in Flame of Recca has his scar as a self inflicted injury as a sort of mark of shame for his failure to protect someone. However, no one has ever actually asked him directly how he got it, for good reason and the tale is told by one of his underlings.
- In Musashi no Ken, Musashi's puppy named Toichi somehow got into a fight with three larger feral dogs which ended up in Musashi being bitten in the arm and Toichi got permanently blind in the right eye with a permanent scar.
- In Wolf's Rain, Tsume has an X-shaped scar on his chest. Toboe continually bothers him to know its origin, but Tsume doesn't actually explain until one of the last episodes in the series. It was a punishment from his former pack for his cowardice.
- Used a lot in One Piece:
- When talking to Whitebeard, Shanks points to the scars over his eye and uses it as an example of how dangerous Marshal D. 'Blackbeard' Teach really is, as he was the one who caused the wound.
- Kaido is introduced as an invulnerable man who has survived all manners of executions without so much single scratch, but has a noticeable scar in his abdomen region that seemingly contradicts that notion. Later, this is revealed to have been inflicted by a daimyo of Wano Country, Kozuki Oden, the only person to have ever wound him.
- In The Seven Deadly Sins, the story behind Ban's very prominent scar is that he tried to take Meliodas' sword, a thing that is the latter's Berserk Button.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Misato has a huge scar just below her ribcage, which along with the cross-shaped pendant left from her father, is a painful reminder that she was at ground zero of the Second Impact, as well as that she's the Sole Survivor of the scientific expedition that unintentionally triggered said disaster. In her mind, it is as much of a symbol of how It's Personal with her drive to kill all the Angels as it is an actual blemish on her skin.
- The upper body of Betrayal Knows My Name's Usui Shuusei is covered with nasty burn marks from when he interrupted Hotsuma's suicide attempt. They occasionally pop up during more emotional scenes between the two of them and tend to provoke It's All My Fault moments in Hotsuma.
- Tokiko Tsumura of Buso Renkin, by the same mangaka as Rurouni Kenshin, above, has a horizontal scar across her nose. In the series' Distant Epilogue she explains that it marks when she became an alchemist warrior. The subsequent flashback shows her getting gashed across the face by a humanoid homunculus, right before she instinctively activates her buso renkin in self-defense and juliennes him.
- Bleed Kaga from Future GPX Cyber Formula has his trademark crescent-shaped scar on his forehead, which is the product of a car explosion which killed his best friend as a result of the Zero Realm when Kaga failed to save him, and for many years he steered away from the skill.
- Hibiki Tachibana from Senki Zesshou Symphogear has a scar right about her breasts in the shape of a forte symbol. This scar is a reminder that Hibiki is the sole survivor of the Noise attack that killed Kanade and made Tsubasa a Broken Bird. It's also where Hibiki was impaled by the Gungnir shards that broke off from Kanade's armor.
- Tokyo Ghoul:
- Ken Kaneki has a large surgical scar on his abdomen, from the surgery that turned him into a Half-Human Hybrid. It stands out since his extreme Healing Factor means he doesn't have any other scars, even from the other injuries he received the night Rize attacked him.
- Hachikawa wears a jacket with a high collar that covers the lower half of his face. When a subordinate confronts him about shooting at a civilian to attack Black Dog, he yanks down the collar to reveal that he wears it because she once ripped away all the flesh around his mouth.
- Trigun - Vash the Stampede gets walked in on while taking a shower, and the audience gets to see for the first time the heavy price he pays for being a Technical Pacifist; he is covered in scars from the neck down and one arm turns out to be fake, having been blown off in a traumatic incident years ago.
- In Muhyo and Roji, Rio has some scars on her back and Bico has one on her wrist, which are usually covered up by their clothing. The cause of those scars was an incident during Bico's time as a student when she combined two of the wrong ingredients. Rio warned Bico about her mistake, then shielded Bico from the resulting explosion to show her what can happen if she makes a mistake, resulting in Bico coming to idolize Rio as her teacher.
- My Hero Academia's Tritagonist Shoto Todoroki has a defining, large scar on the left side of his face, which he got when he was a child from his mother, who, due to her husband's Domestic Abuse, snapped and poured boiling water across Todoroki's face in a Moment of Weakness.
Todoroki (while covering his scar with his hand): In my memories, my mother is always crying. "Your left sight is unsightly," my mother said after she poured boiling water on me.
- Jonah Hex is horribly scarred. Typically, people tend to avoid asking how it happened but sometimes, there is the occasional person who is just too curious for his or her own good.
Bystander: Don't mean to pry, fella but how'd you get that scar?
Jonah Hex: Bit my cheek, eat'n.
- Batman has several scars and during the Hush storyline Catwoman sees them. We see that Two-face and The Joker are tied to particular scars, as is Catwoman, which they both treat as a fond memory.
- In Pouvoirpoint: Quint, the grumpy chief cook of starship Entreprise-2061. The one-eyed and one-armed sea-dog tells many dreadful war stories, although we learn at the end that he's one-armed from birth, and his scars come from the fact that it is quite difficult to cook with only one arm....
- Robin Series:
- Danny's very prominent scar on his side and the tattoo on his foot are the things that tip Tim off that there's more to Danny than he's telling.
- By the end of Red Robin Tim's amassed quite a collection of scars himself, like the one across his throat from Jason slitting it, the one in his chest from Jason stabbing him, the burns on the back of his neck from the General and the scars on his torso from being impaled by the Widower. These all add up to mean Tim wears his hair sort of long and always wears long sleeves in Gotham to avoid questions.
- Ultimate Marvel
- Ultimate X-Men: Much of Wraith's anger against Wolverine is because of that big scar he left in his face.
- The Ultimates: Captain America left a huge scar on Herr Kleiser's face with his shield. At one pointed he boasted that it had almost healed. Almost.
- Spider-Men II: The adult Miles has a blind date with Barbara, who is surprised by his huge scar in the face. Wilson Fisk steps in to "salute" him and mentions that he got that scar while saving his life.
- The Far Side:
- In one strip, a sailor is telling another of how he got his peg leg. The other sailor, however, has a peg head.
- A strip features a guy who is just a head, with his wife telling him to stop telling his grandchildren how he got like that.
- Invoked by Hammy in one story arc of Baby Blues, because he wants to have a really big scar so that he can show off to the class on show and tell day. Unfortunately, on the day this was to happen, the principal announced a surprise school assembly mere seconds before he could show everyone his new scar.
- The first quasi-romantic moment between Hanala'Jarva and Joachim Hoch in the Mass Effect fanfic Uplifted.
- Examples from Naruto fanfics:
- Kurenai in Leftovers has one on her from a Bear Trap. She mentions that it's the reason she started studying traps as a hobby.
- A Growing Affection has two examples.
- Due to his Healing Factor, Naruto only has one scar on him. That is where he nearly stabbed himself through the heart to save Hinata from the Kyuubi. Hinata, understandably, loves this scar, and kisses it whenever she can.
- Keiko Takamichi has some "cool battle scars" on her back, from where Pein's Animal path hit her after she and her cousin finished off the Naraka path.
- In the Star Trek Online fanfic Bait and Switch (STO), this is the source of Captain Kanril Eleya's facial scars, along with one on her abdomen, is shown in a Flashback Nightmare in the first chapter. While repelling a boarding action she was slashed across the face then stabbed in the right kidney by a Knife Nut Orion matron.
- Subverted in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic ARTICLE 2. Shane is a combat marine, and has a pretty hefty set of scars with stories to go with, but the stories are things like "lost a fistfight with a dumpster", "tried to do a handstand on a grocery cart and missed the dismount" and "steak knife".
- We slowly learn the story behind some of Raegdan's multitude of scars in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Lunar Guardsman.
- He tells Twilight and her friends of the time he and a dying, giant cat creature fought each other as each was the other's last chance for food. He won but he has its teeth marks on his arm from when it bit him hard enough to break it.
- He has two large circular scars on his chest near his heart. One is from when one of Twilight's kidnappers shoved his horn in his chest. The larger one he got from a horn too, only this one he got from Celestia herself.
- A scar in his cheek is revealed to be from a bullet when he tried to kill himself.
- His missing pinkie finger. He forced Luna to bite it off as punishment.
- In the Arrow fanfic The Princess and Her Canary, Felicity sees some of Nyssa's scars and asks the origins of them. Several of them came from the same incidents that gave Sara her scars. One came from Sara, in a sparring match...with real swords.
- Inverted in the Discworld fanfic "In the Blood". Sam Vimes has too many scars to keep track of, which ends up setting up the whole plot because he doesn't realise he's acquired another one during the events of The Fifth Elephant... Until he wakes up with twice his usual quota of legs, and eventually figures out he got it from getting scratched by a werewolf's tooth.
- The Milo Murphy's Law fanfic "What Doesn't Kill Him" is a more lighthearted example: Zack is shocked to see that Milo is Covered in Scars under his shirt, but Milo just thinks of them as reminders of his many "adventures."
- In How To Drill Your Way Through Your Problems, Bakuda and Mouse Protector swap scar stories after MP catches Bakuda's. This leads to MP sharing her secret to overcoming the scars and the inevitable pain that they cause- tattoo them, and make the wound their own thing instead of a reminder of the one that did it to them.
- A Choker And A Scalpel explains Black Canary's choker as being due to a scar she received as a child. She hated her supersonic scream powers and tried to cut out her vocal cords, but cut the wrong place and would have likely bled out if her mother hadn't caught her. Black Canary no longer feels ashamed about the scar and notes that she has scars all over now that she's a superhero herself. Every one of them has a story so she isn't bothered by her scars:
It wasn't about the scar now, however. She was a hero- she had scars practically everywhere at this point. They were part of the job description. And that was alright. She wasn't disgusted by them like she used to be. Dinah was proud; proud of every accident, every win, every loss, every doubt, every single one of them. They made her who she was, and she was strong and beautiful.And she never doubted it. Not anymore.
- In RWBY, Weiss has a scar on her face. As it's not initially mentioned in-series how she got it, various works describe how she received it:
- Ivory Bones: Weiss received her signature eye scar in a sword fight with her father. She successfully hit her father, but he was dissatisfied because she was holding back. He slashed her across the face to show her a lesson.
- In the Alternate Universe Fic Camellias, Weiss never went to Beacon. She received her scar when the White Fang attacked her.
- In Adel Aka's rewrite of Weiss' arc, Weiss received her scar in the same incident that killed her mother. A White Fang spy worked for her family and attempted to assassinate all the Schnee's, but he only injured Weiss and killed her mother. This incident is the main factor in Weiss' bias against faunus.
- The Alternate Universe Fic rewrite RWBY: Scars has Weiss scarring her own face due to undiagnosed mental illness. Her alibi to everyone outside her family is that she had a fencing accident.
- In Pawprints, Weiss received a scar over her left eye on her first hunt.
- In Somnium, Giselle received her facial scar when Narissa slashed her across with face with her nails.
- In RWBY AU: Birds, Weiss received her facial scar during an attack against the Schnees.
- Subverted with Iris in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. While showering with her under a waterfall, Ash notices that she's Covered with Scars all over her body, though most of them are small and he suspects probably don't have epic stories behind them. In a later chapter, while she's bathing with the girls in a pond, she reveals that a few do have some stories behind it, such as one she has around her left hip caused by a fight with some Gabite for a pond near a cave.
- In Treasure Planet, Jim asks Long John Silver how he became a cyborg. Silver simply responds, "You give up a few things chasing a dream."
- In Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Buck tells the story of how he lost his eye during his first encounter with Rudy.
- In How to Train Your Dragon, Gobber regails the Viking kids with stories of how his leg and hand were eaten by dragons.
- The page quote, taken from The Dark Knight, is one of several examples from the film. The Joker being the Joker, however, the story changes every time he tells it.
- In the 1996 live-action 101 Dalmatians, Jasper tells Horace that Skinner has a horrible scar on his neck from where a dog nearly tore his throat out, rendering him mute, and warns Horace not to ask him about it. Horace immediately forgets this warning upon seeing the scar, and Jasper decks him.
- Jaws. Quint and Hooper show off their scars and explain how they received them. This leads to Quint telling the story of the USS Indianapolis.
- Meanwhile, Brody surreptitiously checks his appendix scar.
- Pay It Forward: Mr. Simonetti explains that his face was disfigured by his father freaking lighting him on fire.
- At the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, young Indy accidentally catches himself in the chin the first time he tries to use the iconic bullwhip, drawing blood and providing an in-universe explanation for actor Harrison Ford's Real Life scar.
- In the live-action Jonah Hex film, when asked about his disfigurement, Jonah explains: "Cut myself shavin'."
- In Rock N Rolla, a pair of Russian gangsters are introduced talking about their various scars, which come from things like bullet wounds, grenades, barb wire, and even getting caught in tank tracks. One quickly gets the idea that they will be more than the misfit criminal protagonists have bargained for.
- Chuck Norris in a Hong Kong action movie. He's been arrested by the police who are listing his distinguishing marks for their report. In a clipped tone Chuck lists the cause of each scar as it's written down: gunshot, knife, pitchfork...
- Shotgun Stories, a 2007 film starring Michael Shannon, is essentially named after this trope: Shannon's character has prominent scarring on his back from a shotgun blast, and several stories are told throughout the film, explaining them. Each story gives an alternate interpretation for who he is as a person, and for his motivations throughout the film.
- In Chinatown, Jake's nose is slashed by a gangster. Similar to Jonah Hex above, his answer whenever someone asks is "Cut myself shaving."
- Black Cadillac has a Running Gag where Robby refuses to give a straight answer when asked where he got the scars on his face. At the end, Scott reveals that they were the result of an accident they had while playing.
- The Quick and the Dead: Scars is this trope personified. Every time he shoots someone dead, he takes out a knife and gives himself a scar.
- Invoked in Dragon Tiger Gate by Turbo Shek who has a scar on his face that he gave to himself in order to seem tougher and make others respect him. He gives several explanations for how he got it over the course of the movie.
- Played for Laughs (like everything else) in Guardians of the Galaxy when Peter Quill boasts of his manly scars, each of them amounting to "one of his flings injured him in a fit of anger."
- Invoked by Captain Jack Sparrow in a deleted scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl where Elizabeth asks him — having learnt that his grand island escape was more of a three-day rum holiday - if any of the stories about him are even true. He pulls back his shirt to reveal a pirate brand on one arm, a huge scar down the other and two bullet scars on his chest, and replies, "No truth at all."
- In Pacific Rim, Hannibal Chau has scientist Newt sent to a public Kaiju shelter while he and his men use a private model. To demonstrate that he fully expects Newt to die, he shows him a scar over his left eye from the one time Hannibal used a public shelter.
- In The Princess Bride, Inigo has a scar on each cheek given to him by the man who killed his father. When he finally catches up with the guy, he cuts him the same way as part of satisfying his revenge.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Natasha shows Steve a bullet wound in her torso from a previous encounter with the Winter Soldier.
"I was covering my engineer, so he shot him straight through me. Soviet slug. No rifling. Bye bye bikinis."
- Earlier, Nick Fury told Steve, "The last time I trusted somebody I lost an eye." Years later, in Captain Marvel (2019), it's revealed that his eye was scratched out by a flerkin.
- Played with in McLintock!: when Louise asks Katie who gave her a black eye during a brawl earlier on in the movie, Katie answered, "No one gave it to me, I won it!"
- Done as a form of foreplay in Lethal Weapon 3, when Riggs and his new love interest, internal affairs cop Lorna begin showing each other their many battle scars and actually begin taking their clothes off in front of each other to show off more of them.
- A pirate with a peg leg, a Hook Hand, and an eyepatch walks into a bar.
Bartender: What happened to your leg?
Pirate: That was the result of a fierce battle with a shark. I managed to fight him off, but he bit off my leg as a parting blow.
Bartender: And what happened to your hand?
Pirate: I lost that in a swordfight. The dread pirate Blackbeard engaged me in combat, and he got in the last move.
Bartender: And your eye?
Pirate: I was looking up and a seagull pooped in my eye.
Bartender: How did that take your eye out?
Pirate: It was my first day with the hook.
- Some Older Than Print historical anecdote tells about two kings (name forgotten) comparing their scars. The one boast about his fight with a lion in the arena. He looks at the even more impressive scars of his colleague and asks: "Lion, arena, too?" "No, Lamia, bed." (Not the Lamia - it was the name of his wife - but that was probably part of the joke too.)
- A Spanish joke: Un policia y un bombero entran en una cantina y se sientan cerca de un borracho. El policia muestra una cicatriz en su brazo y le dice al bombero, "Ves este? New York City." El bombero le muestra al policia una cicatriz en su pierna y le contesta, "Ves este? Boston City." Y el borracho, al ver y escuchar a los otros dos, se les acerca y levanta su camisa para mostrarles una cicatriz en la barriga y les dice, "Miren este - apendi citi."English translation
- Cira in A Brother's Price got her scar(s) from the incident which killed many members of her family. It's her reason for doing what she does, and it is also why she lost her lover. Jerin thinks it looks cool, though.
- Subverted big time in The Man with a Scar by W. Somerset Maugham. The narrator notices the title man because of the scar and is told a long-winded, fantastical story about him, complete with a Moment of Awesome - which nevertheless has nothing to do with the scar proper. Ultimately, the narrator exclaims: "Yes, but how did he get the scar?!" - "Oh, that was a bottle of ginger ale..."
- In Dragon Blood, Tisala has very ugly scars on her hand from being tortured, and an ensuing infection.
- Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick, who lost his leg while grappling with the Great White Whale.
- Every member of the Seablite gang from Dark Life has a scar, all with the same story: they're surgical scars from Doc Hudson cutting them open to see how their Dark Gifts work.
- Harry Potter:
- The title character is famous for the lightning-bolt shaped scar he got when Voldemort tried to kill him as a baby; for some reason the spell rebounded and "killed" Voldemort, leaving Harry with just that scar (which is doubly odd, since it's noted that usually the Killing Curse leaves corpses unmarked). Later in the series he also gets some scars on the back of his hands that read "I must not tell lies," thanks to the wonderful teaching practices of Dolores Umbridge.
- There's also Mad-Eye Moody's scars from his career spent fighting Death Eaters, and Lupin's facial scars (in the movies) are self-inflicted due to his transformations.
- Averted with Dumbledore's scar on his kneecap shaped precisely like The London Underground; it's mentioned offhand in the first chapter of the first book and then never explained or even referenced again.
- Many characters in A Song of Ice and Fire bear scars, and probably the most notable "how-I-got-these" story would go to Sandor Clegane, who decides it would be fun to tell Sansa all about how his brother held his face down in a lit brazier when they were kids. Sansa is not enthused.
- Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files. At one point Anastasia sees him topless and touches each scar. He gives a short summary of what gave it to him. Even though he has a (very slow) Healing Factor, he still has lots of them.
- A bit more dramatic than most, because most or all of them weren't just random backstory, but happened in the series where the reader got to see it happen.
- Callie, the protagonist of Cut by Patricia McCormick, has been sent to Sea Pines, a residential treatment facility, to deal with her Self-Harm problem. Callie mainly cuts herself on her arms, leaving scars that she tells the stories of to her therapist at one point in the book.
- Dustfinger from Inkheart may be a subversion. The story behind his facial scars is humiliating rather than awesome: he was held down by a couple of thugs and carved up by a man who fancied his wife. He mentions several times that it was Basta who "decorated" his face, but it's someone else who actually explains what happened.
- Darkness at Noon tells the story of the scar on Gletkin's scull, which is too well-known that it need not be spoken by the characters:
When, during the Civil War, Gletkin had fallen into the enemy's hands, they had tied a lighted candlewick onto his shaven skull, to extract from him certain information. A few hours later his own people recaptured the position and found him unconscious. The wick had burnt right to the end; Gletkin had kept silence.
- In The Licanius Trilogy, protagonist Davian has a trademark scar along the left side of his face (of unknown origin). When he meets mentor figure Taeris on his journey, the older man's face is covered in similar scars. Further events reveal they are all from the same horrifying incident, in which a 13-year old Davian Controlled a room of attackers into slicing up their own faces.
- In Dead West, The Porcelain Doctor's scars. He hates his scarred body, both because he thinks is unattractive and because he considers them the remnant of his failures. Gervas has a different opinion, and starts to realize that Niall is not just a fragile doll after seeing them. He is the one who interrogates the doctor about them, and even gets answers. Mostly horrific ones. The great scar on The Porcelain Doctor's hip and thigh is left by a domesticated tiger his cousin sicced on him, the star-shaped one on his shoulder and back was inflicted by a jealous classmate with a javelin, and there are the scars on his forearms, after the bites of their dogs after his brother's failed attempt to help him learn to train their dogs. The Merry Company mistakes the scars as evidence of Parental Abuse for some reason.
- In the Tawny Man trilogy, Fitz is posing as the servant of a very effeminate nobleman. When a rookie soldier tries to make fun of him over the rumors that he's more than just a servant, all the experienced soldiers nearby take one look at his scars and try to talk the rookie down. At one point his injuries, and with it scars, are all magically healed. After taking one look at himself he magically puts the scars all back. Not because he is proud of them, but because he is instantly recognizable as a member of the royal family without them.
- The Ironclaw novel Scars has some examples of course. Most notably the scars on main character Danica's fingertips from when her father ripped out her claws and cauterized the wounds, after she accidentally scratched her legitimate half-brother. And Danica realizes that the supposed impostor of prince Fabrizio de Rinaldi is the real one when she recognizes the scars she gave him.
- In Billy Budd, the Dansker received his scar serving under Horatio Nelson:
As one of the boarding-party from the Agamemnon he had received a cut slantwise along one temple and cheek, leaving a long scar like a streak of dawn's light falling athwart the dark visage. It was on account of that scar and the affair in which it was known that he had received it, as well as from his blue-peppered complexion, that the Dansker went among the Indomitable's crew by the name of "Board-her-in-the-smoke."
- In Chrono Hustle we don't get to hear the story, but Melinda uses the fact that she knows how Elliot got his scar, in order to get his daughter Mary to trust her.
- In Outlander Jaime bears extensive scars on his back from several bouts of whipping. His story is told several times, by himself and others.
- In one short story, the humorist Patrick McManus comments disparagingly on how much his fellow outdoorsmen love to tell painfully long and detailed stories about their (often not so horrible) scars... and then immediately launches into a long and detailed account of how as a kid he ended up with a small scar on one finger.
- A tie-in storybook based on Disney's The Lion King (1994) actually explained how the villain got his scar in the first place. Scar, then known as "Taka", was jealous of his brother Mufasa and tried to get a wildebeest to attack him. Scar was the one who ended up attacked and was permanently left with a scar of his eye. Afterwards, he renamed himself "Scar".
- Jedi Apprentice: Bini has several scars on her hands, showing "how hard the work conditions were at the quarries better than words could."
- Game of Thrones: Beric Dondarrion opens his shirt to show the scars created by his multiple deaths.
- Similarly, Jon Snow is left with big scars on his chest after his death and resurrection.
- A joke version occurs in Get Smart:
Hans Hunter: [re: his scar] Mr. Smart, have you ever heard of the Great White Rhino?
Maxwell Smart: That was done by the Great White Rhino?
Hunter: No, that was done by a small blue convertible.
- They used the same joke another time, except it was a wooden leg and "The Great White Whale".
- In an episode of Blackadder, Redbeard Rum explains how he lost his legs... before revealing that he doesn't have any legs in the first place.
Redbeard Rum: [to Edmund] I'll wager those legs have never been sliced clean off by a falling sail, and swept into the sea before your very eyes!
Edmund Blackadder: Well, neither have yours.
Rum: That's where you're wrong!
- In the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "The Gang Buys a Boat", Mac decides to ask a sailor about his hook, thinking it will be a cool or interesting story.
Mac: So, how'd you lose that hand?
- 30 Rock: Liz Lemon questions her ex-boyfriend how he got his hooks. He explains that he got one of them when he was in Africa working for Doctors Without Borders, by waving at his old high school football coach from a helicopter ("It looked just like a black version of him!"). The second story is unexplained, but involves explosives.
- The Jeffersons. Jennie is writing an article about gangs, and she starts to hang out with one. Each member has at least one scar, which they call "medals," and they are proud to show them to her and tell how they got them (in a knife fight, shot, etc.). One young trainee gang member doesn't have any medals yet but is looking forward to getting one in the next rumble - if he doesn't have a medal he can't become a full member of the gang. He ends up killed in the rumble.
- In an episode of InSecurity, Burt and N'udu compare scars. The causes range from protecting the Ligerian ambassador from a Ganzi assassin's bullet to falling off a roof.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike has a scar on his eyebrow, mainly because James Marsters received one in a mugging. Still, in "Fool For Love", while Spike is telling flashback stories, one of them shows the character getting it during his fight with the Chinese Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion. Apparently, it was a magic sword.
- Averted in Merlin with Lancelot. When he shows up for the second time in the series he has a scar across his cheek, one that no-one ever comments on. When he turns up a season later for the third time, the scar is completely gone.
- Ollie has horrible scars across his chest when he returns from the island, eventually explained as being the result of Deathstroke torturing him. A lot of the advertising of the series specifically invokes this trope. The writers even go out of their way to show how he got the majority of them throughout the first five seasons through flashbacks (he receives a few more in the present).
- In "Time of Death", Ollie, Diggle, and Sara share the origins of their various scars (IED, grenade, knives, bullets, etc.) Felicity proudly states that she has a scar...from getting her wisdom teeth removed (3 stitches!). Later she gets a real one when she takes a bullet for Sara and seems rather happy about it.
- Oliie gets them all removed between Season 3-4, but they continue to appear in flashbacks until Season 6.
- Leverage has this in "The Two Live Crew Job", at the end when Eliot is comparing scar stories with his counterpart in the other crew. Turns out she may have given him one of his scars...
- In the Person of Interest episode "The Devil You Know", it turns out that Mafia boss Carl Elias' Number Two, Anthony "Scarface" Marconi, acquired the scar under his right eye in the process of killing his abusive father to protect his mother.
- Band of Brothers. In "The Breaking Point", a sergeant tells the New Meat about the various injuries accumulated by members of Easy Company, many of which the audience has seen as they were inflicted. First Sergeant Lipton has a rather visible facial scar from the events of "Carentan".
- In Joey, Joey recounts how each of his scars taught him an important lesson:
Joey: [pointing at his hand] Don't touch the stove. [pointing at his mouth] Don't run with scissors in your mouth. [pointing at his tongue] Don't lick the peanut butter off steak knife. [ ] [pointing at the top of his head] Always stay seated in the roller-coaster.
- In The Olden Days, a group of miners ask Olden about his unconvincing scar and whether it has "a sort of colourful but slightly boring bullshit story." We then get a flashback to his experience on a chain gang.
- In Traveller, Aslan never fix cosmetic damage (which does not inhibit performance) on warships. They consider it an honorable career to raise its value. This applies even if the ship was purchased from humans and earned its scars in a human navy.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, scars are a symbol of glory and honor. A good story can bring more renown if it's got a scar you can show off, and a wicked scar is always cooler if it's got a howl-worthy story behind it.
- And due to their Healing Factor only aggravated damage like fire, silver, or the claws of other werewolves leaves scars, practically guaranteeing a story behind each scar.
- In Henry V, Henry V invokes this in his famous St Crispin's Day Speech.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say "These wounds I had on Crispian's day."
- In the musical Violet, we learn the story of the title character's disfigurement through flashbacks.
- Evolve averts this in a Trolling Creator moment. How Hyde lost his eye is a common question among the fanbase, but he dodged the question when asked about it by another character.
- In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Gerik explains to Tethys that the scar on his nose comes from his early days as a mercenary, where he arrogantly challenged a mighty badass fighter and was at the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle. The warrior decided to let him live, and Gerik took this as a signal that he was still a rookie and he should train/fight harder.
- In The King of Fighters, we learn eventually that Clark uses Sunglasses at Night to hide a scar across his left eye. It comes from an incident where his partner Ralf was training with knives and one of those hit Clark in the eye.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, King Dorephan of the Zora has a prominent scar on his forehead that a stone tablet says he got when he threw a Guardian off of a cliff to defend Zora's Domain.
- Played for Laughs in a skit in Tales of the World Radiant Mythology, when Annie wonders what heroic story must be behind the scar on Senel's face. After she leaves, Senel admits that he only got the scar to look cool.
- Played for Drama in the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, as part of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards the Big Bad. The villain is a clone of Shepard, grown by Cerberus as a replacement for the real Shepard. During the final boss fight, Shepard constantly tears apart the clone's attempts at trying to replace them. One of the reasons is the scars; Shepard points out that they got their scars through protecting the galaxy (citing most of the major levels of all the previous games in the process), but the clone? "You got yours from a petri dish!"
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: Nakmor Drack recounts getting a scar on his wrist from an incident in his pirate days, where he performed a complicated space-walking technique followed by taking a ship, even showing the scar to his teammate to prove it.
- Red Dead Redemption never explains how John Marston got his impressive facial scars, it's implied they were given to him by a wolf. However, the sequel/prequel finally gave players a definitive answer 8 years later - wolves were indeed involved. After a robbery gone wrong, he got separated from the gang he ran with and got lost. Before being found and rescued, some wolves attacked him.
- RWBY: Weiss has a small scar across her left eye. When Weiss's VA was asked about it, she dodged the question, replying that "[the fans] will find out." This alone implies that it's significant. It was later confirmed that she received her scar as depicted in the White trailer: A knight slashed her across the eye during a duel. Weiss was fighting the knight to prove to her father that she could go to Beacon.
- Heart Core Actually starts off with one of these. It shows how Ame, once a happy and cheerful princess, was forced into a permanently scarring ritual by her father, costing her much of her powers and leaving her with large scars on her face and arms that never healed. This made her rather bitter against her dad.
- Anna from Sire has a highly visible scar running across her face. We learn she earned it in an attempt to kill herself with a letter opener after her Hyde-Child "sister" murdered their uncle.
- In Mystery Babylon, Judas has a pair of scars under his eye in the shape of an inverted cross. It's only when he betrays the group that Kick Girl thinks to ask how he got them, and he reveals that they were self-inflicted: a symbol of devotion to Adrian, who is the Antichrist and whose Mark of the Beast is in the same shape and location.
- Liri from Saffron And Sage has a burn mark on her face but when she's asked about it, it's Played for Laughs rather than drama.
Sage: How come you have a burn on your face?
Liri: It makes me look like a cool adventurer with a mysterious past. Like "Who's this cool girl and how'd she get that cool burn?"
- Merno from Dragon Sanctuary has scars covering his whole body, the most prominent being the one across his left eye (the eye itself is glass) and a nasty black and red veiny one on his left wrist. There's also a scar on his spine; that combined with him mentioning that he's sterile implies that at some point he was successfully attacked by a succubus.
- Lampshaded in Misfile when Emily is taking auto shop and she notices some very distinctive scars on the teacher's aide's fingers. He tells the story of the accident where it happened and every other guy in the in the class then begins to show off their scars and tell the story of how they got them. This squicks out Emily who then exasperatedly asks aloud why guys seem to always be so keen to talk about their scars.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Zuko's scar in Avatar: The Last Airbender came from when he spoke out of turn in a war council, protesting a plan involving sending a green regiment to their deaths for some tactical advantage, and his father the Fire Lord challenged him to an Agni Kai (a firebending duel) over it. Zuko refused to fight him, and this was how his father punished him.
- Lin from The Legend of Korra received two scars on her cheek when she tried to arrest her half-sister, Su, who cut a metal cable connecting them which flew back and cut Lin by accident. It serves as a reminder of their estranged relationship. After we see a flashback of this, Lin and Su fight and reconcile in the present.
- Family Guy: In "Stew-Roids" Meg tells Connie the story behind how her bullying made her cut herself.
- The Jaws example is spoofed in an episode of Eek! The Cat, where everyone is grossed out by Eek's scar (a paper cut).
- In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Professor Pericles has a scar over his left eye, cementing his creepiness. At the end of the first season, we learn how he got it: After they worked together to blackmail the original Mystery Inc. for a piece of the Planespheric Disk, a young Fred Jones Sr. betrayed him and knocked him out cold. It's more or less serves as a reminder that the person who gave him his scar is a Minor Major Character in the show's Myth Arc.
- The Simpsons:
- Bart asks Herman, the gun shop owner, how he lost his arm. He replies, "You know how they tell you to keep your arms inside the bus?" According to the commentary on the DVD, this was going to be a running gag: Every time the character showed up he would be asked about his arm and and he would have a different story everytime. However the second time, wherein he lost his arm in a bowling alley ball return, was cut and they never bothered to pursue it further.
- In "Moms I'd Like to Forget", Bart goes to great lengths to learn the story behind a mysterious scar on his hand.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Temporal Edict", Ensign Mariner explains the history of her scars to Commander Ransom.
Mariner: See this bad boy? Tentacle guy, bunch of arms. Stabbed me with a barnacle blade. Check it out — Magus III, Nanibia Prime, Scottsdale. That was a mess. I earned every one in high-concept fights just like this one.
- In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker receives a scar across his right eye from a lightsaber battle with Asajj Ventress. This carries over into Revenge of the Sith, where Hayden Christensen sports the scar over his right eye.
- In ThunderCats (2011), Panthro comments that there's "a lot of history" in the scars on his arms, which is the part he misses the most after sacrificing them to trap Grune inside the collapsing Astral Plane.
- Ratchet from Transformers Animated has a broken crest on his head and a patch of exposed circuitry on his arm due to an old run-in with Lockdown. The incident involved his greatest failure.