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Group-Identifying Feature

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Benjamin Sisko: In the old days, operations officers wore red, command officers wore gold.
Jadzia Dax: And women wore less.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Trials and Tribble-ations"

So, a work has a group. It could be people of a certain job or rank, or it could be a species of aliens or fairies or whatever, or maybe it's a Cult. But they look just like normal people... except for this one single quirk in appearance.

It could be on their physical body, such as Pointy Ears, fangs, or multicoloured hair, or it might be something like a tattoo or a piercing or an insignia on their clothes.

This thing is good for letting the audience know who's who. It might also say something about the character. For instance, if all members of Group X have a dove embroidered on their uniforms, that could mean they stand for peace.

A Red Right Hand could overlap with this trope if all villains (or all villains of a certain type) have the same Red Right Hand. Tattooed Crook overlaps if the tattoos are used to indicate allegiance to a particular gang, but isn't quite a subtrope. Commonly seen on an Underground Monkey. See Gang of Hats for the personality version. Contrast Uniformity Exception for a feature that sets someone apart from the group. Unicorn is a sub-trope, as are Android Identifier, People of Hair Color and Slave Brand. Also see Labcoat of Science and Medicine, Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, Pink Girl, Blue Boy, and Heroes Prefer Swords. May be a Magical Sensory Effect.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess: Facial Markings for Angels and Demons, usually the most visible one is on the forehead / between the eyebrows. But they have one on the top of each of their cheekbones. They're a symmetrical pattern.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: Downplayed. The vast majority of characters look as though they're from The Roaring '20s in suits and old-fashioned attire, most Port Mafia members are differentiated by being exceedingly well-dressed in dark colors. Dazai originally wore a black suit before opting for a lighter color palette upon leaving the mafia, while Chuuya originally wore standard civilian clothes and switched to dark formal wear when he joined.
    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four: The team wears bright blue uniforms with the "4" insignia on their chests.
  • The Outside Circle: The gang Pete's a part of, the Tribal Warriors, have a stylized TW tattooed on either their arm, or neck.
  • X-Men: The Original Five team in the mid to late 1960s wore matching blue/black and yellow uniforms with a mask.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Dungeon Keepers and the ones that are Demonic Possession by them, are marked by red glowing eyes.
  • Game Theory provides an interesting justification for the cast's hair colors: unusual hair colors are the legacy of Alhazredian gene modification used to denote tribal lineage.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: A group of Dothraki claims they missed the battle of Winterfell because they were killing a flame-spewing monster in the forest. As punishment, Daenerys lets the Wolf do with them as he will, and he brands with a flame-shaped tattoo, renaming them the Deathbound as he intends to train them until they can die in the Dragonqueen's name. The Wolf was the one who brought the monster in the first place, and it's actually his way of rewarding them for their feat. The tattoo in question is the mark of Tzeentch, god of traitors, so it's no surprise that the Deathbound eventually join the Wolf's banner.
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers: School creations always have purple eyes, which are often combined with dark hair.

    Films- Animated 
  • Invoked in The Incredibles, where Edna Mode sews the Parr family matching red and black super-suits that all have an "i" insignia on them.
  • The Crystal Prep students in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games wear magenta school uniforms of varying features, either a jacket or vest with a light blue shirt underneath, and usually a blue bowtie. The human world Twilight Sparkle's uniform stands out the most, wearing a necktie instead of a bow, and her shirt has grey cuffs.
  • In Turning Red, Mei and her friends all wear matching friendship bracelets.

    Films- Live-Action 
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you can tell where an Oompa-Loompa works by the color of their jumpsuit: they wear red in the edible room, black in the inventing room, yellow in the nut room, and white in the television room.
  • Harry Potter: In the movies, you can tell what house someone is in by the color of their scarves. Gryffindors wear red scarves, Slytherins green, Ravenclaws blue, and Hufflepuffs yellow.
  • In Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Lestrade discreetly wears a Greek chi symbol which he uses to pretend to be a member of the Temple of the Four Orders as he turns in Sherlock to Lord Coward. No one else is seen wearing such a symbol, but Coward accepts it immediately and without question.
  • Star Wars
    • The Sith Order always wears dark robes and hoods as a stark contrast to their rivals, the Jedi Order.
    • The Galactic Empire is identified by its dark, gray, red and white colors. For instance, Stormtroopers have white-plated armor and helmets while officers tend to wear gray or black uniforms.
    • The Clone Troopers can be easily identified by their white-plated armor.
    • The Mandalorians always wear their signature helmets and beskar armor.
    • Just like the Galactic Empire, the First Order uses dark, gray red and white colors for their government and military respectively.

  • Area 51: All Airlia are red-eyed, red-haired and have white skin. Ones Who Wait, artificial humans having some Airlia DNA, share their red eyes (but otherwise look human).
  • In Black Hearts In Battersea, in one family, all members have the "Battersea Tuft", which is a particular tuft of hair. This is used to reveal that Simon and Sophie are brother and sister.
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the gender and age of an Oompa-Loompa is shown via their clothes: the men wear deer skins, the women wear leaves, and the children wear nothing.
  • The Cosmere: Members of the Ghostblood Conspiracy are required to get a tattoo of three interlocking diamonds. It's unclear why, given that the mark draws attention to the secret society's undercover operatives on multiple occasions.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • Discussed. When Rowley goes through a phase of copying Greg, the latter ends up rolling up one pants leg and and tying a bandanna to his ankle. The former copies, and their neighbour mistakes them for "thugs" sporting the "gang colours".
    • In "Old School", there are some teenagers in a reform camp, who all wear orange jumpsuits.
  • Harry Potter: The Death Eaters have a logo called the "Dark Mark" tattooed on their inner left forearms.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, genetic slaves have ID codes gene-engineered to grow on their tongues. Freed former slaves will sometimes stick out their tongues, either as The Reveal or to make a point.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, elves look just like humans, only with slightly pointed ears (their ears are described as "leaf-shaped").
  • Sesame Street: Dingers can be distinguished from monsters by the bicycle bells on their heads, which give them their names.
  • Ink members in Skate the Thief all have matching tattoos of an open book and quill pen somewhere on their bodies to indicate allegiance to the gang.
  • The Stormlight Archive: All full members of Ghostbloods, a secret organization working towards mysterious goals, are required to have three overlapping diamonds tattooed somewhere on their bodies.
  • In Watership Down, inhabitants of the dictatorial warren of Efrafa have scars deliberately cut into their bodies, the location of which signify what branch of the warren they are allowed to live in. Each branch is referred to as a Mark due to this trope. Normal warrens do not require this because they're smaller and less regimented.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mork & Mindy: "Putting the 'Ork' Back in Mork" reveals that Orkans who have been stripped of their property as punishment (known as "fallen Orkans") are painted purple to distinguish them from law-abiding Orkans.
  • Sesame Street: One episode has a band called the Lead Police, a parody of The Police, who all wear leather jackets.
  • Star Trek:
    • Betazoids look just like humans, only with black irises.
    • Bajorans look a lot like humans, but with ridges on their noses. The majority of them also wear an earring on their right ear.
    • Uniforms:
      • In Star Trek: The Original Series, operations officers wear red (the Red Shirts), command officers wear gold, and sciences officers wear blue. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, it's the other way round. In all of those series, science officers wear blue. Additionally, in The Original Series, women wear dresses while men wear black pants. Also, in TOS, each Starfleet ship or station had their own logo before Star Trek: The Motion Picture made the Enterprise's arrowhead logo the official logo of Starfleet.
      • In Star Trek: Enterprise, Starfleet officers wear matching dark blue boiler suits. You can tell someone's division by a stripe pattern that goes around the shoulders. Like in TOS, gold stands for command, blue stands for science, and red is generic. Starfleet officers also wear an embroidered patch of their ship and its name on their upper sleeves, just like TOS.
      • In Star Trek: Discovery, most people wear matching dark blue outfits (in some cases jumpsuits similar to the Enterprise uniforms and in other cases shirts and pants). However, the doctors wear white jumpsuits instead of blue.
      • On TOS, officers wore braids on their cuffs which indicated rank (excluding ensigns and enlisted crew). On TNG, DS9, and VOY, ranks were designated by the dots they have on their collars, which are known as "pips" or "rank insignia". Cadets don't have any, ensigns have one, junior-grade lieutenants have one, plus one hollowed-out one, regular lieutenants have two, lieutenant-commanders have two and one hollowed-out one, commanders have three, captains have four, and admirals have six (three on either side).
    • In the TOS era, Romulans looked just like Vulcans, which was partly why the Federation was paranoid about them. In the TNG era, Romulans can be distinguished from Vulcans by the V-shaped ridge on their heads. Star Trek: Picard would explain that the "Northerners" have ridges and the "Southerners" look just like Vulcans.
    • Trills look like humans, but with spots going all the way down their sides.
    • Aenar can be distinguished from Andorians by their white skin.
    • Orions look just like humans, except for their green skin, and seeing as they're a seductive race, a female Orion is a literal Green-Skinned Space Babe.
  • The Swamp Fox: Marion’s group all had squirrel, raccoon or in Marion’s case, a fox tail, on their hats. You could also tell them from the British because they had animal skin saddle blankets on their horses as opposed to the neat looking English gear.
  • In Big Mouth (2022) all of "Big Mouse" underlings have a knife on fire symbol tattooed on their bodies which Changho alongside the new warden use to identify "Big Mouse" and his men.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Most members of the Assassin Brotherhood can be identified by their hoods, robes and longcoats.
    • The proto-Templar Order of the Ancients in Assassin's Creed Origins have black robes and Egyptian facemasks.
    • The Cult of Kosmos from Assassin's Creed: Odyssey are recognized by their Greek drama masks and black hooded robes.
    • The Hidden Ones in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla have white-grey robes and red sashes.
  • Borderlands: Being a Siren means you're a girl and you have a Power Tattoo on your left side. Usually along the arm.
  • Bug Fables: All members of the Bandit faction wear hoods with their distinct insignias, which are upside-down emblems of the Ant Kingdom, representing their leader's resentment towards the Ant Queen.
  • Baked into the game mechanics of Destiny, where the Titan, Warlock, and Hunter class trio each have (in addition to the standard helmet, chest, arm, and leg armor slots) a class-specific unique fifth armor slot. Titans have Marks, which are fancy waistcloths; Warlocks have Bonds, which are fancy armbands; and Hunters have Cloaks, which despite the name are fancy capes. In terms of art design, each class is also easily distinguished by silhouette: Titans wear the heaviest armor and often have Shoulders of Doom, Warlock armor resembles robes and usually have helmets with a distinctive vertical visor reminiscent of a wizard's hood, and Hunters wear actual hoods over their helmets, as part of the cape.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening: The Grimleal and those associated sport stylized eyes on parts of their outfits, reminiscent of Grima's symbol, including the protagonist. However, Henry also wears these designs despite not being a worshipper of the Fell Dragon, likely due to the cult's influence on Plegia.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: All human guises of the Children of the Goddess and of the Goddess herself have green hair: Sothis (the Godddess), Rhea (a.k.a. Saint Seiros), Seteth (Saint Cichol), Flayn (Saint Cethlean), Byleth's mother Sitri, and even Byleth, whose hair changes to glowing green after they become a full avatar of Sothis. However, not all green-haired characters belong to that group, e.g. Linhard, despite being descended from Flayn/Cethleannote  and sporting green hair, is a Red Herring.
  • Freedom Planet: The Red Scarves, an underground guild of thieves and assassins, wear red scarves to symbolize their membership. Carol Tea, one of the former members of the Red Scarves, still keeps her red scarf despite no longer being a part of the guild.
  • Hotline Miami: The otherwise unaffiliated 50 Blessings operatives have one commonality in the animal masks they wear on their jobs. This is part of what clues the Russian Mafia to the fact that they are being wiped out by an organization, not independent vigilantes.
  • The Seraphites in The Last of Us Part II are known as "Scars" by the WLF because they ritually scar themselves from ear to ear, and wear thick brown hooded trenchcoats. Furthermore, the men shave their heads, while women wear a crown braid.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War has the clear distinction of which Orcs are on the player's side versus the Orcs fighting on Sauron's side: Blue for Talion and Red for Sauron.
  • Minecraft:
    • You can tell a villager's job by its clothes: farmers wear straw hats, fishermen wear fisher hats, shepherds wear brown hats and white aprons, fletchers wear hats with feathers, clerics wear purple vestments, weaponsmiths wear eye patches and black aprons, armourers wear welding masks, toolsmiths wear black aprons, librarians wear glasses and books on their heads, cartographers wear golden monocles, leatherworkers wear brown aprons and gloves, butchers wear red headbands and white aprons, masons wear black aprons and gloves, unemployed villagers wear the basic outfit by itself, and nitwits wear green coats.
    • You can also tell a villager's home by its clothes: they wear different outfits in the desert (yellow robes and hat with orange trim), savanna (red shirts and green skirts), taiga (brown-and-white short-sleeved tunics), snow (white-and-blue clothes with caps), swamp (purple-and-green clothes with lilypad hats), jungle (leopard/ocelot pelts, affecctionately called "cheseburgers"), and plains (brown robes).
    • Pandas have several different personality types that you can spot by their clothes. Weak pandas have runny eyes and noses, playful pandas have their tongues poking out, aggressive pandas have angry eyes, lazy pandas have slight smiles, and worried pandas have wide eyes.
  • Yandere Simulator: All Clubs have their own accessories. Usually Signature Headgear. For example:
    • Light Music Club: All of them are girls and have a different music-themed hairclip.
    • Art Club members all wear berets.

    Web Original 
  • Defied in Asexuality Archive, which states that asexual people don't have something that sets them apart, such as extra ribs, pointy ears, T-shirts that identify them as ace, or black rings. They look like everybody else does.
  • On Critical Role, when Vox Machina join the monster-hunting organisation The Slayer's Take, they each receive a magical brand on one shoulder as a membership identification.
    • A similar marker is used by the Clasp, a Thieves' Guild, though in this case the brand is rather less magical and located between the shoulderblades. Vax's brand comes into the plot a few times early in the season, before it's scarred over by Keyleth at his request.
  • Neopets: Faeries have Colour Coded Elements in play, but you can also tell what type of faerie one is by her wings. Earth faeries have leaf-like wings, air and light faeries have large, pointy wings, fire faeries have flame-shaped wings, water faeries have mermaid tails instead of wings, and dark faeries have batlike wings.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: You can tell what department an agent works for by looking at the symbol on their "flash patch", which is essentially an ID badge. There are too many departments to list here, but for a few examples, the Department of Bad Slash has a three-eyed rubber duck, the Department of Floaters has a waterlily, and the Department of Implausible Crossovers has a flying pig.
  • RWBY: Lil' Miss Malachite's gang members identify themselves by having a spiderweb tattoo somewhere on their body. Lil' Miss herself has one on her shoulder.

    Western Animation 
  • The Owl House: Students at Hexside wear dark gray tunics with different colored sleeves and leggings depending on which track they're enrolled in. Because Luz is enrolled in several different tracks, each of her sleeves have different colors. Also while all the Hexside students wear black boots with their uniforms, Luz keeps her regular white shoes.
  • While the Fireside Girls of Phineas and Ferb are known for wearing uniforms with various alterations (one episode revealed they sew their own uniforms), Isabella's uniform stands out the most, being a complete Palette Swap of her everyday wardrobe, and is the only one to not have a red diamond on her beret, having it presumably covered up by her signature hairbow.
  • In Sponge Bob Squarepants, Mr. Krabs's employees have to wear sailor hats. This is a plot point in "No Hat for Pat", where Patrick can't work for Mr. Krabs because his hat weighs him down.
  • In Steven Universe:
    • Every gem has, well, a gem. Their gem is embedded somewhere in their body and said gem is always the gem for which they are named. Rubies have rubies, Peridots have peridots, etc.
    • Homeworld Gems usually have diamond shapes on their outfits colored after the Diamond they serve. For example, Peridot wears yellow diamonds on her chest and knees and Lapis's shirt and skirt together create a bisected diamond on her front.
    • Members of the Crystal Gems wear stars on their clothes.

    Real Life 
  • Very much common among well-known and distinct organizations from law enforcement to the military.