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Mark of Shame

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"Branded, scorned as the one who ran,
What do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a man?"

Bob's been discredited and disgraced, perhaps so badly that he can never go home again. In order to permanently label him as a failure, he's given an easily noticed marking of some sort, often on the face, chest, back or hands. Popular methods include tattooing, branding, and scarring, although for a less painful method of application, Bob may just be forced to wear something on his clothing to identify him as an Arsonist, Murderer, Jaywalker or what have you. More extreme examples may include amputation of a limb or appendage in a way that's hard to cover up. It's also entirely possible that a coincidental, accidental marking he had prior to or received during the disgrace he suffered will serve as a Mark Of Shame.

Often overlaps with A Scar to Remember, though that trope focuses on the express purpose of sadistic commemoration, instead of possible sociological effects. If Bob receives the mark after making a Deal with the Devil, but it's still treated as a shameful, disgraceful thing, this can overlap with Mark of the Beast. See also Medal of Dishonor for the "forced to wear" version. In keeping with Godwin's Law, the character inflicting this punishment may be A Nazi by Any Other Name, as the Nazis infamously forced Jews to identify themselves with yellow badges shaped like the Star of David, and eventually took to identifying prisoners in concentration camps with similar badgesnote  and tattooed numbers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan borrows directly from a particularly dark period of human history. Eldians living in the nation of Marley are required to wear an armband with a star on it, donating their "cursed" lineage. The sentence for failing to wear it outside their home is being arrested and turned into a mindless Titan.
  • Mello from Death Note views his burn scar as this, because Kira had gotten a hold of his real name, and he was cornered by the Japanese police (in L.A.), which he viewed as failures...and then he actually survived his act of blowing up the building to get away.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, present in one of the series’ most powerful demons’ backstory: Akaza the Upper Rank-3 of the Twelve Kizuki, he lived a tragic life, but he still brought a extensive criminal record on himself even if his intentions were good, centuries ago criminals on Edo, Japan, were branded with stripe marks over their arms to show everyone a criminal was a among them, as a human his marks were small and few, however, Akaza's demonic transformation became a direct symbol of his further moral descent, his demon body then formed stripes all over his body, as to signify he became a bigger branded criminal than he ever could as a human.
  • Kurei in Flame of Recca has a self inflicted one of these.
  • Yzak's scar from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. He recieved it after a failed battle against the protagonist, Kira Yamato. He kept the scar to remind him of the humiliation, until he settled the score. He got it removed in the sequel, after making peace with Kira.
  • One Piece:
    • When Nami reluctantly joined Arlong's crew in order to protect her island, she received his crew's tattoo on her shoulder; she usually wore shirts with sleeves long enough to hide it. Much like Fisher Tiger in the past, she has another tattoo placed over it after Arlong's defeat.
    • There is the "Hoof of the Celestial Dragon", a claw-shaped Slave Brand given by the World Nobles (whose are also known as the "Celestial Dragons.") to their slaves. The branding is a mark of shame, hidden by those who do escape, like Boa Hancock and her sisters. The fishman pirate Fisher Tiger fixed this for slaves that became his pirate crew members by branding over the mark with the symbol of his "Sun Pirates". This erased the shame, because he gave the sun mark to everyone on his crew. It went a long way to remove the distinction of who was a slave and who wasn't.
  • In The Rose of Versailles Jeanne Valois is firebranded with the letter "V" (for "voleur", thief) on both shoulders after being convicted for her crimes. Truth in Television: Until 1832 French criminals convicted for some crimes were firebranded with a symbol or letter signifying their crime or conviction, the most well-known fictional example being Milady de Winter's fleur-de-lys... that was actually applied illegally, as, while guilty, she had not been convicted of her crimes yet.
  • Mugen from Samurai Champloo has two blue rings tattooed around each wrist and a single blue ring tattooed around and just above each ankle. This shows that he has served time in prison.
  • In Wolf's Rain Tsume's Cool Scar is eventually revealed to be a mark of cowardice given by his former packmates.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, there were criminal marks, special tattoos applied to a criminal's face after conviction that would not only identify them as criminals, but let the police track an escaped convict or one who had violated probation or parole. Supposedly. The only time the viewers saw them try to track someone using these marks, the quarry eluded them by jamming the signal or having someone else do it; indeed, it seemed even someone with rudimentary skills in hacking was able override it and render these marks worthless, making one wonder who was in charge of their computers. (Of course, in this setting, most police were worse than useless.) Criminals who weren't from Satellite and got these marks originally are forced to hang out there since they're no longer welcome in the city.

    Comic Books 
  • Jonah Hex: When his weapon broke during a sacred tomahawk battle due to sabotage by his opponent, Jonah drew a knife to continue the fight. This violated the laws of the tribe and, had Jonah not had an honorary relationship to the chief, he would have been killed. Instead he was branded with the Mark of the Demon by having a red-hot tomahawk pressed against his face.
  • The 1930s Marvel Comics vigilante Night Raven routinely brands criminals on their forehead before leaving them for then police. It's strongly implied that the branding process also causes some level of physical or mental harm, as most seem catatonic immediately afterwards.
  • In the Gail Simone written Red Sonja reboot, she gets one on her face for contracting the plague. Sonja removes the mark when she is later cured.
  • In The Scorpion, the bishop of Armando's hometown had all of the prostitutes branded with a 'P' so that respectable citizens will know what they are.
  • Superman villain Draaga, introduced in Superman: Exile, wore a Superman shirt as a self-inflicted mark to remind himself of his lost to Superman.
  • Ariciaa in Thorgal gets one when it is discovered that her (brainwashed and amnesiac) husband is an infamous pirate. It's later removed by Jolan.
  • Going from mere 'mark' right into a combination of Body Horror and An Arm and a Leg, 'Empurata' from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye consists of the victim having their face and hands cut off and replaced by a Cyber Cyclops mono-eye sensor and crude claw-like hands. The Senate originally insisted that this was only done to criminals - but that was just to add to the prejudice against those who had it forced upon them. It was actually done to anybody who ticked them off too much.
    • Psychologically it's Nightmare Fuel. There has been considerable exploration - both canon and fanon - into the psychological ramifications of losing your face and hands - an act which lowers the ability for non-violent physical interaction with others and severely impairs emotional expression. Also, pro-Empurata propaganda insists that the victims were only criminals who deserved it, resulting as them being seen as inferior by the general population.
    • In an alternate universe created by Brainstorm's time travel shenanigans, Empurata has become so common on Cybertron that it's lost its ability to shock. So the Functionist Council went a step further and started replacing people's heads with what are basically screens for text-messages, removing all capacity for self-expression and forcing them to communicate entirely through text. Said screen is Senate property, and flashes propaganda pop-ups at random intervals.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Weapon X adds a tattoo with a number to all the mutants they capture. Even Wraith found it disgusting.
  • In Bishop's Bad Future in X-Men comics, the Fantastic Racism authorities brand mutants with an M over the eye. Besides Bishop, other main characters who've had it done to them include Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller. When it's done to Jamie and Layla, it's revealed that it's no ordinary tattoo or brand. It's actually a retrovirus that alters their skin pigmentation to make the M appear. This ensures that the M will never go away.

    Comic Strips 
  • Similar to the Zorro example below, when the people of Bengalla see a skull mark on someone's chin, they know that this is someone who has earned The Phantom's wrath.

    Fan Works 
  • Gamzee in Hivefled had obscenities carved all over his body to mark him as a personal slave. Equius makes their kismesissitude official by cutting through the words to cross them out.
  • In Living The Dream, bronies are forcefully branded with a capital B on their flanks in the Bad Future. Even ponies with one drop of brony blood are branded.
  • In Star Wars: The Sith, Zero, Louise is branded with the word 'Zero' down her upper left arm. 'Zero' is an insult used by her peers in her previous world to describe both her magic and physical features. Made worse when it becomes synonymous with 'Slave' to her.
  • In Zero no Tsukaima: Saito the Onmyoji, Karin slashes Wardes across the face after defeating him in a duel, saying the resulting scar will serve as a "mark of [his] betrayal".

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Anazapta. The cross-shaped scar on Jacques' chest is from the brand he received as a baby, born as a bastard after his mother was gang-raped by the villagers. The villagers who see the scar instantly realise the answer to Who Are You?
  • Antebellum: After her latest attempt to run away fails, the General brands his slave mark on Eden's back to identify her as his property.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman brands incredibly nasty criminals he catches, like a rapist and a human trafficker, with a bat symbol. This gets them murdered in prison, to which this more cynical Batman seems indifferent. He's on the verge of doing it to Lex Luthor, but changes his mind, showing he's getting some of his morals back.
  • In The Bobo, Peter Sellers is a wandering musician who accepts a wager where he gets a theater engagement if he can seduce a discriminating courtesan (Britt Ekland). He wins her over but she finds out about the wager, and as retribution forces him at gunpoint into a bath heavily laced with blue dye.
  • In the film Dead End (2003), one of the boys tries to give another the "mark of the squealer" for snitching on him.
  • In Deewaar, some miners who have a grudge with Vijay's father Anand tattoo the phrase "my father is a thief" on Vijay's arm when he's just a child, and he never gets over the humiliation. He goes so far as to say that it is not only on his skin, but on his heart and soul as well.
  • Interesting variation in Django Unchained when slaves Django and Broomhilda run away and are marked with an "R" on their faces upon their return. This is more of a Mark Of Shame for Broomhilda as it makes her unfit to be a "house slave" anymore.
  • Invoked and inverted in Easy A. As the main character starts to develop a reputation for promiscuity, a Holier Than Thou girl sarcastically suggests she has a red "A" sewn into her wardrobe, referencing The Scarlet Letter. The main character obliges, and starts coming to school in corsets with a red "A" sewn on... and she looks awesome. Basically, she takes what was intended to be a mark of shame and makes it into a mark of no shame.
    People thought I was a dirty skank? Fine! I'd be the dirtiest skank they'd ever seen.
  • In Inglourious Basterds, the protagonists carve swastikas into the foreheads of the Nazis they don't kill.
  • Invoked in The Iron Buddha, a wuxia-style martial arts film. The main villain who's a former bandit and rapist begs for forgiveness from an elderly martial artist after he's defeated, promising to turn over a new leaf if the master is willing to accept him as a disciple. The Old Master, because of a favour owing to the bandit's father, agrees to take him in, but carves a scar on the bandit's face as a reminder of his promise. Unfortunately, the bandit thinks the scar is an insult, so three years later, after the bandit completes his martial arts training as the top student, he then turns on his mentor and plots to kill all his fellow students.
  • Jonah Hex (2010): Jonah is branded with the initials of his former commanding officer in the Confederate army, after being accused of treason. Hex then obliterates the brand by burning it with a red-hot tomahawk blade as per the comic, at the cost of his current Facial Horror.
  • The Last Date: This early 1950s driver's education film ends with the main protagonist, a teenager named Jeanne, left with a disfigured, scarred-up face, the result of a tragic car accident. This was after, by her own admission, she made the wrong decision to ride with a bad boy classmate named Nick, a hot-rodding, reckless driver who flagrantly disobeys traffic laws and, while driving well over 125 mph on a narrow, winding, poorly-lit road and attempting to pass a slow-moving truck on a curve, crashes head-on into an oncoming vehicle, killing him and the passengers of the other vehicle. In writing to her cousin about the accident, she says that she's "had her chance" and because of her bad decisions she'll never date again.
  • In The Mountie, following her debasement on the voyage to Canada, Amethyst deliberately scarred her face so that no man would ever find her attractive again.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Jack Sparrow is positively identified as a buccaneer when Norrington uncovers a 'P' brand on his right wrist. "Had a brush with the East India Trading Company, did we, pirate?" In the second movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it was revealed that this was the handiwork of Cutler Beckett, and the "piracy" Jack was punished for was freeing slaves. Jack may have retaliated in kind. Beckett told Will "We've both left our marks on each other", but made no reply when Will asked "What mark did he leave on you?" The movies never answer this question either.
  • This is how Lisa regards the Slave Brand Charlie puts on her butt cheek in Reform School Girls.
  • In Six Reasons Why, The Sherpa was branded with a spiral mark on his chest when he was exiled from the Utopian settlement beyond The Badlands for killing a man.
  • In Vigilante Diaries, Andreas' Torture Technician Raven uses a blowtorch to burn a 'V' into the Vigilante's chest.
  • Bishop from X-Men: Days of Future Past, has an "M" for Mutant above his eyebrow.
    • Magneto, as a Holocaust survivor, has a katzetnik on his forearm.

  • In the Animorphs series, warriors in the Andalite (centaur-like alien) military who commit an infraction may be punished by having the fur along their flanks trimmed in a specific manner to declare their shame. Unlike most examples, this isn't permanent and it isn't meant to be; when the warrior's fur grows back in, he is considered to have served his sentence. Although fur grows back through morphing, it's explained that the Andalites rarely use morphs in battle the way the main cast do, being mostly used for infiltration or escape.
    • More serious crimes (or losing a formal challenge) can be punished by cutting off the offender's tail blade. It's unknown if they also deactivate their morphing power as well, or if Andalite society places Honor Before Reason so much that they don't have to.
  • In The Baroque Cycle, Jack is branded with a V for vagabond. It works out to his advantage later, though.
  • Casino Royale - while James Bond is tied down to a chair, a SMERSH agent kills his captor Le Chiffre, and with a knife cuts the Russian letter 'S' for 'spy' into the back of Bond's hand. The incriminating scar is later mostly fixed with skin grafts.
  • In the fourth book of The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, appropriately titles "Outcast" features this trope. Torak is thrown out of the Raven Clan, and given traitor marks so everyone knows it.
  • In Circle of Magic, Briar has two X-shaped tattoos on his hands, identifying him as a a thief. He later managed to cover them up with homemade tattoos.
  • Fade's brand of cowardice in Codex Alera. It's the Legions' mark for soldiers who run from battle, and he has it because nobody would go looking for Araris Valerian behind the face of a brain-damaged, cowardly slave. And because Araris thinks he did just that...
  • Deeplight: Serious criminals in the Myriad have slits cut in their ears. Once someone has three slits, getting caught law-breaking again will earn them an automatic trip to the gallows.
  • In Flawed, anyone considered Flawed gets at least one brand, in a spot that symbolizes their specific flaw. With the exception of brands on the feet or tongue, all brands must be publicly visible at all times.
  • In the Gor novels, slaves are branded so other people will know what they are.
  • Harmony (2016): When Tilly and Iris seriously misbehave, they have to wear signs around their necks describing their offense. Every time a guest camper walks by, they have to read the signs out loud.
  • In Harry Potter, after Marietta betrays Dumbledore's Army, she gets affected by a curse that Hermione had cast. It scars the word "Sneak" onto her forehead. In pimples. There's also "I must not tell lies," put on Harry by Umbridge.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series by Hilari Bell, Michael is declared "unredeemed", which basically means that he's committed a crime and hasn't atoned for it in the eyes of the law. Unredeemed people have broken circles tattooed on their wrists, which any local official knows to check for. Michael's actual offense isn't very terrible—he's a Lawful Good hero who got himself in trouble via Honor Before Reason—but the tattoos make for instant Hero with Bad Publicity.
  • Among the Tiste Edur in the Malazan Book of the Fallen those that are cast out are marked with a scar shaped like a slashed-in-half circle on the forehead and the outcast's hair is removed permanently. Trull Sengar is marked thus in House of Chains.
  • Millennium Series: In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander tattoos her own personal mark of shame all across Nils Bjurman's stomach and makes it perfectly clear that she will ruin him if he tries to have it removed.
  • "The Mischievous Dog," a Middle Ages fable where the title character—a young, attention-seeking mongrel—sneaks up on people and bites their legs. The trope comes into play when the dog's master (aware of his pet's misbehavior, and having been unsuccessful with previous efforts to correct the dog's actions) places a collar with a bell around its neck. The dog thinks at first it is some sort of prize or reward for being a good dog, or at the very least by a liberal-minded pet owner who "just woves his pet" ... until a wise, elderly dog. aware of the reason for the collar, takes the youngster aside and tersely informs him the real reason for the collar ... it is not a gift but a mark of shame, to get people and/or other dogs to be wary of this ill-mannered mutt. (The fable ends there, with the "Notoriety is often mistaken for fame" moral, but it is presumed the dog is brought to earth in swift fashion.)
  • Reconstruction Series's Isaac Benjamin has a facial scar that is this.
  • Light skin is considered this en masse in Roots, as it's obvious to others that a black person possessing this is the result of their mother having been raped by a white man.
  • In The Scarlet Letter, the red letter "A" the main character is required to wear on her clothes labels her an adulterer in the Puritan community where she lives. Of course, she shocks the townspeople by making it big and elaborate with gold trim.
  • Raven's tattoo, "POOR IMPULSE CONTROL", was supposed to be this in Snow Crash. It didn't end up working out that way.
  • Space Glass: Reeva Savaltenhein has the Mark of the Killer painted on her face, which signifies that she's killed at least ten innocent people.
  • In Survivor Dogs, traitorous dogs are given noticeable scars so that they'll forever be recognized for their misdeeds.
  • The Three Musketeers. In her youth, Milady de Winter was branded on the shoulder for thievery. In the tale she spins for Felton, she claims that Buckingham raped her then branded her so as to discredit any attempt at reporting his crime.
  • In the 'Thule'-trilogy by Dutch children's author Thea Beckman, in the idyllic society of Thule (post-world war three Greenland), criminals are branded with a colored circle on a highly visible place. Anyone with such a circle would be ostracized by society, shunned by his friends, thrown out by his family, unable to get anyone to speak to him any more than the bare minimum. The circles would fade after a few years. Both the color of the circle as well as how long it would take to fade depended on the nature of the crime. For murder, a black circle would last seven years, as the people of Thule believe even the most heineous crime is forgiven after seven years.
  • In the Robert Silverberg short story "To See The Invisible Man", a man is punished for "coldness" by having a mark affixed to his forehead so everyone else will know to shun him. Later made into a New Twilight Zone episode.
  • In the books, Zorro cuts his Zorro Mark into the cheeks of evil men he feels are beneath him to kill. Since everyone in Old California knows what that means, most of them vacate the territory post-haste.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Adam Ruins Everything, Adam shows that herpes sores (or even just the knowledge that one has herpes) has become this, even though herpes itself is not serious and 90% of the human population has it, because of hyper-awareness of STIs during the AIDS epidemic. Prior to then, herpes wasn't considered that big a deal. The only sexually transmitted disease people are more ashamed of having than herpes is HIV.
  • Branded (1965): Main protagonist Jason McCord (Chuck Connors) is (unjustly) dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army for cowardice; his mark of shame is a broken saber.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Visitation" features aliens called Tereleptils. The only one the TARDIS crew, and thus the audience, meets has a disfiguring facial scar that — apparently — marks him as a prisoner and a failure. It is never specified if this was intentionally done by the authorities, or merely the result of being sent to the uniquely dangerous prison/mine. Other criminal Tereleptils in the story without speaking roles do not have similar scars.
    • The Third Doctor's tattoo is explained in expanded universe materials as mark of his exile.
    • It's revealed in his final episode that Turlough has one of these on his arm marking him as a political prisoner on Trion. His brother has the same mark, but grew up believing it made him The Chosen One since that was how the locals of the planet he landed on regarded him.
  • In Lucifer (2016), Cain is a walking, undying man still bearing his mark on his right arm. It is a full circle. He cannot die and has been trying a variety of means since the Bronze Age. In modern times, he hides it behind a Marine Corp tattoo. It is effective as Lucifer, who was working with Cain's current identity for months, didn't recognize it at first. The mark, and the immortality, is lifted when Cain genuinely falls in love with a woman who he thinks could help him die but stops at consummating the relationship because it would be wrong to manipulate and hurt her.
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Piper gets branded with a Swastika on her arm. Red and other white inmates turn it into a window.
  • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Chaos lost a wing-like protrusion of his body during his last battle with Torin during the era of the dinosaurs. Though he could regenerate the wound, he refuses to do so until he can pay Torin back in kind. About halfway through the series Chaos has one of Torin's wings hacked off, but he still never heals his wound, possibly because Torin also gets better.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Mark of Cain, the First Murderer, from The Bible, is often misunderstood as this. In reality, God gave Cain the mark after he was sent away from God's people "so that no one who found him would kill him." (Genesis 4). It was a mitigation of the punishment.
  • The Crown of Thorns, as told in Matthew 27:28-30, was meant by those persecuting Jesus Christ on the Day of His Crucifixion to be His mark of shame (a mocking "crown" for the "King of the Jews"), not only to publicly humiliate and disgrace Him and cause extra pain, but to disparage the very reason why He came and express their rejection of His teachings. For Christians, however, the Crown of Thorns – although acknowledging it as the ultimate symbolism of man's rejection of Christ – represents the complete opposite of this trope, as it ultimately displays a mark of triumph and sacrifice over sin.
    • The scarlet robe that Jesus was dressed in just prior to being made to wear the Crown of Thorns also had an intended purpose of shaming Him.
  • In Hindu Mythology, when the sage Gautama found his wife sleeping with the god Indra, he put a curse on Indra that caused his entire body to be covered with a thousand vaginas to show the world how much of a pervert he was. He got so humiliated that he refused to perform any godly duties, so the other gods complained. Gautama settled for giving Indra a thousand eyes instead.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Terry Funk, during his 1980s "evil cowboy" gimmick in the then-WWF, "branded" his opponents (almost always, these were jobbers) with a "hot" branding iron following their losses. (In reality, the brand was chalk affixed to a cold iron, although the jobber's role was to sell that he was being "branded" with a hot iron.)
  • Toxxin allowed Jessie Neal and Shannon Moore to give Anarquia a tattoo of their choosing after Anarquia had grabbed her while she was trying to stop a fight between Ink Inc and Mexican America that broke out in her shop.
  • In response to Lee Burton's complaint that the SMASH Divas title was a "hot potato" due to a rapid succession of title changes that took place as the promotion came to a close in 2012, Dave Prazak told a story about a promotion in Chicago that had a real hot potato title: A Championship belt awarded to losers rather than winners, making it a mark of jobbers.
  • Subverted with Dramatic Dream Team's King Of Dark title, a championship belt only "defended" in dark matches that is also "awarded" and retained by losing. When Gota Ihashi was the man pinned among Hoshitango, Hiroshi Fukuda and DJ Nira to become the first title holder he showed no shame and gave a gracious acceptance speech.

  • In The Girl of the Golden West, when Sid is caught cheating at cards, Sheriff Jack Rance decides to punish him by pinning the two of spades to his coat, justifying this penalty as harsher than a mere death sentence.
    "I place it over his heart as a warning. He can't leave the camp, and he never plays cyards again."

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech:
    • Clan Hell's Horses has the Branding ritual, where a group of warriors are sent out to capture a live Hell's Horse (a genetically modified, carnivorous horse) and brand it, then release it unharmed. There's no penalty for failure because it's so difficult, but if a warrior injures the horse because he was arrogant or didn't cooperate with his teammates he's branded with the Mark of Hell, a tattoo on his forearm that indicates his dishonor to all his fellows.
    • Among the Clans in general, any individual or unit declared dezgra is required to replace any and all Clan markings and insignia with the crest of House Amaris. Stefan Amaris, the last head of House Amaris and the man most personally responsible for the collapse of the original Star League, is the most universally hated and reviled person in the entire Battletech universe.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition has a few spells, mostly divine magic, putting a magical mark on a subject:
    • Mark of judgement (Player's Handbook II) marks opponents of a Character Alignment opposed to the caster as favored target for allies during a fight.
    • Mark of the outcast (Underdark) is a minor curse putting a mark visible to all on the subject's head, giving penalties to bluff and diplomacy checks.
    • Mark of sin (Complete Champion) is a mid-level spell leaving a mystical mark that is invisible but felt by all, making all newly encountered creatures more hostile, and harder to win over by diplomacy.
    • Mark of the unfaithful (Champions of Ruin) is a high-level spell marking a creature as an enemy of the caster's faith, and all beings sharing that faith will feel hostility toward the subject. Note this is one of the rare spells with an "unlimited" range, meaning it can be cast at any distance as long as the victim is clearly identified.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Dwarves who have suffered an unbearable shame or personal tragedy may take the Slayer's Oath to seek out an honorable death in battle. Slayers are distinguished by their dyed orange mohawks, though they're usually ashamed enough by the fact that they're still breathing.

    Video Games 
  • In Asura's Wrath, the "View of the Valley" achievement is gained by staring too long at a girl's bust. (Note that a lot of the female characters here have a lot of cleavage. This one is worth 20 Gs.)
  • In BioShock Infinite, the "AD" scar on the back of Booker DeWitt's hand is treated as one of these by Columbia due to Comstock's propaganda. Practically for Comstock, it's a way to identify Booker as an enemy to anyone who meets him. It's also personally one to Booker himself, as the letters are the initials of his daughter, Anna DeWitt. He gave himself the scar after selling her to pay off his gambling debts.
  • In Dante's Inferno, the cross Dante sews onto his own chest details all his sins.
  • The Abomination from Darkest Dungeon has the ability to transform into a powerful, aggressive Beast, and is marked with a series of scars in the shape of the letter "A" on his forehead.
  • Dead or Alive 4 has an achievement that doesn't have to do anything with sex, but you get it if you lose 20 matches in a row. This one isn't worth any Gs, and it doesn't even have a cool title, it's just called "20 Consecutive Losses in DOA4" to show how much you suck.
  • The non-lethal option in Dishonored for removing the High Overseer involves branding him with a heretic's mark on his face. This pretty much dooms him; by his own decree, it is literally a crime to give food or shelter to a marked heretic.
  • In the dwarven society in the Dragon Age series, the Casteless, those not born into a caste or who had their caste stripped from them, are marked with a face brand and shunned by many of higher castes, who consider their doing any work reserved for other castes to be an insult to the caste and the Stone.
  • Tip a virtual stripper who takes her top off in Duke Nukem, and you'll get the 10G achievement "Shake it Baby".
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series features a medal (titled "Pervert" in EBF3, EBF4 and the Epic Battle Fantasy Collection rerelease of EBF1, and "Squishy" in EBF5) earned by clicking on Natalie's breasts repeatedly. EBF5's version downplays this somewhat — several other in-game objects will give you the medal when clicked, and turning off the "Cleavage" filter changes the medal's icon from a closeup of Natalie's breasts to a blue elephant (a Shout-Out to jmtb02).
  • In Fallout 2, the player character has the option to join the Slaver faction, but doing requires to be branded with a very distinctive tattoo on their forehead to easily identify them as a Slaver, meaning that pretty much everyone who isn't a Slaver treats them with scorn.
  • Kimahri's broken horn in Final Fantasy X serves as one of these.
  • Kratos's characteristic pale white skin in God of War is a reminder of his lowest point and most heinous act. His natural skin tone is rather tan, but after he killed his wife and daughter in a blind rage, an oracle cursed their ashes to be forever grafted to his skin to remind him of the deed. The mark remains after he ascends to godhood, and several centuries and a new cosmology later, his skin still remains ghostly white.
  • Halo 2:
    • After one of the eponymous rings was destroyed in the first game, the Arbiter has a rune denoting "Shamed" branded onto his chest after being made a Scapegoat for the ordeal.
      Rtas: This armor suits you, but it cannot hide that mark.
      Arbiter: Nothing ever will...
    • Becomes an Insult Backfire when the Prophets betray the Elites. After rallying behind the Arbiter, Elite soldiers wear the same symbol on their armor as a mark of respect.
  • If you steal from the shopkeeper in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Link's name is permanently changed to THIEF.
  • In Lollipop Chainsaw, the "I Swear I Did it By Mistake!" achievement is gained by looking up Juliet's skirt. (Clearly, she doesn't believe that. You get 10 Gs, but is the shame worth it?)
  • Mass Effect: Garrus Vakarian earned a scar when he took a gunship's rocket to his face. It's not enough to kill him, but he refuses to have the scars removed as a reminder to never grow complacent; the gunship and all those mercs went after him and his team (whom were killed) because somebody sold them out.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the Snake Beater achievement is a 10G achievement for Snake getting caught, uhm, stimulating himself, and let's leave it at that.
  • In the remake of Nier, during the Ending E path attempting to look up Kaine's skirt will cause her to kick the camera away. Doing it 10 times will cause her to outright kill the player.
  • NieR: Automata has "What Are You Doing?" for attempting to look up 2B's skirt ten times and "Not That I Mind..." for destroying 9S' shorts, then making him run around in his underwear for an hour.
  • The Fool's Bangle in Octopath Traveler is a shackle designed to humiliate thieves for a failed heist, which Therion is forced to wear by Heathcote and will only unlock it once Therion retrieves the stolen Dragonstones for Cordelia Ravus.
  • In Yakuza 0, the name of the achievement you get for looking at a sexy gravure videos is "I Did It for the Achievement...". Did you really?

  • Kokkan's Slave Brand in A Broken Winter is this not for him, but for his adopted father Kuroda, who oversees the base where Kokkan was held as a prisoner, instead. Perhaps because it reminds Kuroda of his failure to protect the then seven year old Kokkan. Kokkan himself was given the brand because his biological father was branded a traitor by the government.
  • The Kyorl'solenurn of Drowtales use a mark known as a Heretic Mark that represents a stitched shut third eye to denote people who have been cast out for disobedience, and one character's backstory suggests that most of them are carved in with a knife. They also have more temporary ones made with paint for those who need to be "cleansed" (read: Mind Control) but can still be redeemed.
  • From the point of view of Dellyn Goblinslayer of Goblins, the slurs he carves on his victims' foreheads are this. Everyone who actually cares about him accepts Fumbles without mentioning it, though.
  • In the LaRaGa setting, full-blooded feathries' wings darken if they ever kill. "Blackwings," unless they're soldiers, are generally shunned.
  • In The Order of the Stick when Redcloak loses an eye to a Paladin during a struggle that leads to the loss of Xykon's Phylactery, Xykon forbids him from using his cleric powers to regenerate said eye as a reminder of said failure, thus leaving him with an eyepatch.
  • Unsounded: Inak pariahs are marked with a series of scars to warn off other Inak when their clan disowns them. The most striking scar is across their muzzle to the bone, taking a chunk of their lips and ensuring their teeth are always visible.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko's facial burn serves as one of these, given to him by his father for speaking out of turn, right before banishing him.
  • In The Dragon Prince, Lord Viren is given control over the kingdom of Katolis under the condition that any soldiers who do not wish to take part in the coming war with the elven/dragon land of Xadia be allowed to do so freely. He ends up standing by his word, but shames those who do set their weapons down as "cowards" in front of the other soldiers and forces them to bear the symbol of a weak link in a chain. This comes back to bite him at the end of season 3 when the deserters show up as part of a human-Xadian alliance fighting against Viren's invading force. When they do, they fight under the banner of the symbol that he forced on them, but instead of representing the weak links of a chain, it symbolizes breaking the chains of tyranny.
  • James McCullen in G.I. Joe: Renegades receives this at the end of the episode "Enemy of My Enemy" in the form of the name "Destro", a title given to those of his clan who shame themselves and the clan through failure. And although it was sealed onto him as symbol of Cobra Commander owning him, his trademark metal mask could also be seen as a visual representation of his new name.
  • In Gravity Falls, Grunkle Stan's back tattoo is the result of an accidental branding when he was fighting with his brother and got pushed against the edge of a hot machine bearing the same symbol. The fact that he tries to hide it from Dipper and Mabel in the one animated short, Dipper's Guide to the Unexplained: Stan's Tattoo, and insists it's not a tattoo suggests he is sensitive about it, and perhaps sees it as a personal Mark of Shame, reminding him of how he accidentally shoved his brother into the portal all those years ago.
  • When Justice League adapted part of Superman: Exile for "War World", it also adapted the character of Draaga and his self-inflicted case of this — only instead of merely wearing a Superman shirt, he self-inflicted a burn of an "S" on his chest.
  • Downplayed in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Newbie Dash" as Rainbow Dash receives a flight jacket from her new Wonderbolts teammates bearing the Embarrassing Nickname "Rainbow Crash". While the Wonderbolts treat this as something common and they all have similar nicknames, Rainbow Dash treats it as this trope and seeks to remove it.
  • In The Simpsons, people banished from the Stonecutters have to walk home naked, dragging the Stone of Shame behind them. Then parodied when Homer is revealed to be The Chosen One, which causes the Stonecutters to remove the Stone of Shame, and attach the Stone of Triumph, which is completely identical to the first stone except that it's bigger.
  • In the episode "Expert Or Liar" from Regular Show, a flashback depicting a young Benson losing in "Say That Word" game show by saying "banana" instead of "bandana" in where a female assistant puts a bandana reading "Loser".
  • Steven Universe: In "Change Your Mind", when White Diamond blushes pink, Blue and Yellow Diamond are visibly disturbed by it, Yellow commenting that she is "off-color." Whether or not White is just blushing and is embarrassed by it or if the pink in her cheeks is an actual flaw in her gem, literally making her an off-color Gem (something she implies earlier) and that she simply has been hiding it all this time is up for debate.

    Real Life 
  • During World War II, Nazi concentration camp prisoners were identified by coloured triangle badges, or numbers tattooed on their wrists.
  • Speaking of Nazis, one of the Nuremburg Laws that they passed required all Jews to wear a yellow star on their clothing. As illustrated above, this was only the beginning of worse things to come for them.
  • Being placed on a blacklist is a type of mark of shame, as it often applies to someone who deserves (or is perceived to deserve) to be denied a particular privilege, service, employment, and so forth; or to be ostracized from a certain social or familial circle. For instance, a solicitor who has been convicted of illegally selling tickets at inflated prices may be placed on a blacklist, denying him employment as a ticket salesman.
  • The Sex Offender Registry, which applies to those convicted of certain sex crimes (originally intended to apply only for crimes against minors or forcible sexual assault, but almost all states now include things as minor as public urination and nudity related pranks like streaking in their list of crimes). And many states don't tell you why someone is on the registry, just that they are, so you have no way of knowing if they happened to get caught urinating in public, or got caught Making Love in All the Wrong Places with another consenting adult, or if they're a serial child rapist. In some jurisdictions, it also applies to those who have been acquitted solely by reason of insanity. In addition to being required to state where they live, this very severe "mark of shame" to sex offenders often results in restrictions of where they may live, work, socialize and go about their daily business. Since their profiles are made public, sex offenders are often ostracized by the public and their own families, and the effects can often lead to even tighter restrictions on their daily professional and social lives. Sadly, the inability to re-integrate into society makes offenders much more likely to repeat their offenses, or be lost track of by police after becoming homeless. Of particular notoriety is the Julia Tuttle Causeway Sex Offender Colony. A particularly stringent Miami-Dade County law that restricted convicted sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, parks, bus stops, or homeless shelters, left sex offenders with almost no options for inexpensive housing, causing them to congregate in a shanty town under a Florida highway. For the record, as the vast majority of sex crime victims are known or related to the perpetrator, there is little evidence that this Mark of Shame actually makes communities any safer.
    • In many cases, a person's placement on the Sex Offender Registry can also have lasting (very) negative effects for the immediate family, even if they've broken off relations with him. Or her.
    • Some jurisdictions now go so far as to try and convict children as young as 11, often for such "crimes" as hugging or kissing a classmate on the cheek (without the pattern that would make this actual bullying or harassment) or sending nude pictures of themselves to their peers, creating the paradox of someone being considered both the perpetrator and victim in the same instance of a crime.
  • In the military, the most severe mark of shame is a dishonorable discharge, a distinction given to servicemen convicted of the most heinous or reprehensible acts, such as assault, murder, desertion, sexual assault, robbery and so forth. These are handed down after the officer is court-martialed. Not only does this individual lose all military benefits, it is a mark of shame that has lifelong effects, as they lose gun ownership rights, often are denied employment in many jobs and are ostracized by many social and civic circles, since it's a de facto criminal record.
    • Bad conduct discharges are also seen as shameful, but are not as severe in that the individual retains certain Veterans Affairs benefits.
  • Facial mutilation in history was often a means to mark individuals as criminals; there's even an account of a man in medieval England who was injured by accident and had to carry around a certificate saying he was not a criminal.
    • In ancient Mesopotamia, this was also done to women who committed adultery if their husbands chose not to have them executed.
    • In the Byzantine Empire, Facial Horror, Eye Scream, and/or Crippling Castration were common punishments for political rivals. The underlying logic was that, as God's earthly representative, The Emperor had to be physically unblemished, meaning that this sort of mutilation overlapped with Crippling the Competition. Additionally, castration prevented victims from producing heirs (which is also why many historical monarchs, including Byzantine emperors, surrounded themselves with eunuchs: they didn't want courtiers who could usurp the throne and found a new dynasty, or who could impregnate their wives and concubines), and blinding hindered their ability to lead troops. Mutilation was also seen as more merciful than death because it gave the condemned a chance to repent and save their souls while Locked Away in a Monastery.
  • In ancient China, tattooing a convicted criminal's name and crime on their face was a common form of punishment.
  • During The Middle Ages and The Cavalier Years, some European communities sentenced convicts to wear "masks of shame," often modeled after a donkey or some other negatively viewed animal. One British variant called the scold's bridle was used to punish "scolds": an actual legal term for disruptive women. Along with the humiliation factor, these masks had spiked mouth gags so that the wearer couldn't talk without Tongue Trauma.
  • Theft has historically been punished with mutilation of some sort, generally the loss of a hand or a finger which would mark the criminal for the rest of his life as a thief (and probably make further stealing more difficult to boot).
  • Sailors working aboard slave ships had a hard time leaving the profession because no one else wanted them aboard their (non-human cargo) ships.
  • The "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" box on a job application is this to ex-convicts. Either they have to lie and risk being found out, or tell the truth and have their application thrown out.
  • The practice of "acid throwing," which is most often performed in an act of Honor-Related Abuse or one stemming from the idea of If I Can't Have You…. People who have been victims of this, should they survive, often find themselves marginalized, because of the idea that they brought it on themselves by engaging in "illicit" sex, or falling victim to malicious rumors, or refusing a marriage proposal, or simply the idea that they are now "damaged goods."
  • A few American judges sentence juvenile offenders to carry a sign or sandwich board on a sidewalk or roadside proclaiming their crime in lieu of community service or juvenile detention. The crimes that earn these sentences tend to range from vehicular manslaughter while texting to petty theft.
  • The Islamic State terrorist group did this after conquering the city of Mosul in Iraq by vandalizing the homes of Assyrian Christians and Shia Muslims with the letters "N" and "R" in Arabic. The former stands for Nasrani (Nazarene in Arabic, an term used to refer to not just Christians but Westerners in general, though ISIS uses it as an slur just like the word "Crusader") and the latter represents Rafidah (Rejecter, a derogatory directed at Shias for regarding the first three caliphs as usurpers). The point of these attacks is to mark these places as property to ISIS which they could loot and pillage as they want.
  • A group of Gothic women soldiers were made into POWs and paraded through the streets of Rome with a sign hung on them that mockingly labeled them “Amazons”.
  • Bangkok Police used to issue colored armbands to police officers with disciplinary infractions to be worn as a mark of shame. However, this move backfired as those armbands looked cool and it gave policemen an even more fearsome reputation which they happily cultivated. More policemen intentionally committed discipline violations to be awarded these armbands. To finally clamp down on this, upper management instead started issuing Hello Kitty badges to bad cops. This worked, as street policemen perceived these badges to be emasculating.
  • The US state of Ohio has one for drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol: a distinctive yellow license plate—often called "party plates"—with red numbering and no decorations. (For reference, the standard Ohio license plate is off-white with navy blue lettering/numbering, with a triangular red accent at the top and a silkscreen word cloud.) Also, the plate number is purely numeric, while standard plates are alphanumeric. As DUI drivers have restrictions on when, where, and why they can drive, the distinctive plates help police identify drivers breaking these rules, but they also signal other drivers that the person had driven drunk before and they should be cautious.
  • A past eviction, even if it's from years ago, even if it took place in another state or province, can make it much harder to find housing.
  • Credit scores. If your score is too low, you're seen as a "bad risk" financially, which can hurt your chances of securing a personal loan or a mortgage, or applying for a credit card, and in some cases securing employment or housing.
  • In the years following World War II, women who had been accused of colluding with (or sleeping with) Nazis were beaten, raped, and had their heads shaved. Even if it was all a rumor or a misunderstanding, or she had been raped.


Video Example(s):


Kratos: The Ghost of Sparta

For the terrible crimes he committed as the servent of Ares, Kratos was forevermore marked with the pale ashes of those he had unwittingly slain -his own family- and with it the infamous name: The Ghost of Sparta.

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Main / RedBaron

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