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Marked Change

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Those glowing lines mean that someone is about to die very soon.

A classic shorthand for indicating that somebody has activated their Super Mode, tapped into their True Potential, or otherwise just got a lot more powerful: Basically, a badass-looking pattern appears on their skin, often glowing. Is related to Glowing Eyes of Doom, and the two are often seen together. This is not necessarily an indication of heroism or villainy. The trope has appearances about even on either side. Sometimes, it's a case of a character being pushed too far.

The tattoos will usually just be either a nifty/badass black pattern or a glowing red one. Can overlap with Tron Lines and Instant Runes. Compare and contrast with Mark of the Beast, for when the patterns forming are an indication of evil and Power Tattoo, the more compact version. Compare Power-Up Full Color Change.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach anime episode 55. When Captain Yamamoto powers up before fighting, glowing scars appear on his body.
  • A variation in the animated adaptation of Bokurano: when someone is chosen as a pilot (thus gaining all the power of the Zearth during their turn), markings show up on their faces, often Foreshadowing the shape of the enemy they will fight. But, because being the next pilot also means being the next to die, the markings are rarely regarded as a good thing. These markings don't show up in the manga.
  • In Bungo Stray Dogs, Chuya gets black markings on his skin when he uses Corruption, the "true form" of his gravity manipulation ability.
  • Jo from Burst Angel gets an awesome tattoo on her arm every time she's about to kick some damn serious ass.
  • In Coffin Princess Chaika, Toru and Akari both gain red facial marks (and a matching battle aura) when calling on the Iron Blood Form.
  • An actual plot point in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: each Slayer fights with a particular, elemental-themed Breathing style, but not even the Hashira, the topmost warriors of the order, have yet unlocked the apex of their Breathing style, which makes an elemental-themed mark appear on their body (usually their face). The last order the Oyakata gave them was to find a way to unlock this power up, in order to triumph over Kibutsuji Muzan.
  • Slightly different effect-wise, but when Natsu of Fairy Tail powers up by eating the Etherion, he gets a scaly draconic pattern around his eyes and arms.
    • Mirajane gets the non-glowing version when she uses her Take Over transformations.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Alphonse gets some black markings and lines on his armor after becoming the Philosopher's Stone. Quite interesting on a suit of armor.
  • In New Getter Robo, glowing green lines crawl up the Getter pilots' bodies and into their eyes when Ryoma goes berserk and starts absorbing Getter Rays like mad.
  • Several of the gods in Kamigami no Asobi get these with their Transformation Sequence, Apollon, Loki, and Thor in particular. Character designer Kazuki Yone is fond of them - she also uses them in designs for the game Icchibanketsu.
  • Dio's Guild mark in Last Exile appears on his forehead as his 17th birthday looms closer. After he undergoes The Rite of the Covenant and the Trial of Agoon, it changes color and shape.
  • Tohma of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force has a tendency to gain these whenever he uses the Divider. It's implied that they may be signs of the Eclipse infection.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, Akito gets a weird, glowing pattern all over his body when he activates his mysterious Boson Jump ability. Later, others who demonstrate the ability gets similar patterns, and when a character who lacks the potential attempts to perform one, a glitchy, broken version of the marks fade in and out.
  • Invisible unless you look at it up close but in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, if you perchance happen to fight a Gundam that goes trans-am, the GN particle channels light up briefly before the entire unit is flooded with GN particles and it lays the smackdown on you.
  • When the Medicine Seller of Mononoke releases his sword, the red markings on his face crawl off his body and onto his other self, where they turn gold and become elaborate full-body tattoos.
  • Naruto:
    • Tsunade, Medical Ninja and Tsundere extraordinaire, has a small diamond marking on her forehead where she keeps an insane amount of chakra carefully stored. When she releases the seal, it expands into a spiraling pattern, and foreshadows the can of whoop-ass that she is about to open. Sakura's too.
    • The fox-whisker-markings on Naruto's face get bigger and turn red when he starts to access his Nine-Tails Chakra. Naruto's controlled Jinchuuriki form manifests symbols on his chakra shroud, which extend further when he uses a large amount of chakra, and then they darken and change form (covering most of his body in black) once he befriends Kurama, and even moreso when he receives Ashura's power.
    • The Sound Four, and later Sasuke, use cursed seals, small black markings which spread to cover their bodies when activated into their "First States". The Second State curse marks are something else entirely.
  • A variation occurs in Negima! Magister Negi Magi when the Big Bad of the Mahora Festival arc activates her forced magic circuits. They're mostly masked by her hair and clothing, but we're shown Negi's magic-sense POV of the patterns of glyphs glowing on her body.
  • In various Pokémon media, the patterns on Groudon and Kyogre start glowing when they get pissed off. These lines are also a trait of those who are being corrupted by the Red and Blue Orbs connected to the two. The deeper the corruption, the more elaborate the pattern. When Groudon possesses Pikachu in the anime, our adorable little mouse gets the glowing pattern; and it's scary as hell.
  • Tsunayoshi Sawada from Reborn! (2004) can tap into Dying Will Mode if shot in the head by a Dying Will Bullet or if he swallows a Dying Will Pill. When he does go into that mode, his usually round brown eyes turn into an angular orange, and an orange flame lights up on his forehead. From the Hyper Dying Will Mode, Tsuna gains a good sense of combat and an ability used by his ancestors called Hyper Intuition, which allows him to predict human movements and gain an upper hand in battle.
    • When Tsuna's Shadow Archetype/Evil Counterpart (does he still count as the latter since he stopped being an active antagonist?) Xanxus's body gets covered in old scars when he goes all out/anyone mentions Tsuna. And his flames start to glow around his as well.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • Shiryu had a Dragon tattoo appear on his back when powered up.
    • His Old Master, Dohko, had a Tiger tattoo exhibiting the exact same comportment.
  • Saiyuki: it is normal for demons to have some sort of colored marks on their body, but if they are wearing Power Limiters to seal their abilities and make themselves look human, the marks disappear until they decide to remove the limiters and tap into their powers again. Usually they're just Facial Markings or a single tattoo-like spot elsewhere, though some have more elaborate ones, such as Hakkai's vine-like pattern (green in the manga, glowing red in the anime) that goes all over his body and can be controlled and used as Combat Tentacles.
  • The PROCEED girls in SoltyRei get red glowing Facial Markings when they access their special abilities.
  • Black Star and Tsubaki in Soul Eater. When activated, the Demon Blade mode Tsubaki acquired through absorbing her brother's soul covers the Weapon and her Tech in curving, black tattoo-like lines.
    • In a similar vein, Death the Kid's Sanzu Lines- those white marks on his hair- connect into one or more full circles around his head to herald a Super Mode. The exact method by which this is achieved varies between the anime and manga.
  • Post-Time Skip Nia from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • Takeru when he goes into his ED form in This Ugly Yet Beautiful World.
  • The markings of Ranmaru's arm in Tokkô grow as his symbiote-granted abilities do.
  • Wielders of the original and copies alike in Witchblade has various colored lines on the skin when transformed.
  • The Wdjat Eye from Yu-Gi-Oh! whenever someone with a Millennium Item prepares to kick ass.
  • Yusuke from YuYu Hakusho gets these when his demon blood starts to act up. Blue tattoos appear all over his body and he takes on a slightly fiercer demeanor.

    Comic Books 
  • The madder incarnation of Shade, the Changing Man would have swirls and concentric circles appear on his face and hands when activating his madness powers.
  • The CrossGen comics company produced a series of titles set in what was informally dubbed "the Sigilverse", where those gifted with great cosmic power were marked by a glowing tattoo known as "the Sigil".
  • X-Men character Rachel Summers had tattoos put on her face when she was forced to work as a Hound — a hunter of other mutants. She telekinetically hides them most of the time, but when she's angry or stressed, she gets distracted and they show up again. Making her look more than a little intimidating. Which is appropriate given the level of destruction she's capable of.

    Fan Works 
  • Fanart of the Warrior Cats series often depicts Clan leaders (the highest-ranking Clan members, who have received eight additional lives and a new name ending in "-star" to reflect their rank) with a star on their forehead. This does not occur in the series itself.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Return of Hanuman, Maruti's mouth and cheeks occasionally turn pink to resemble Hanuman to mark that he becomes more powerful.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Nightbreed, as Boone metamorphoses, various swirling patterns form blackened grooves in his skin.
  • Rachael in The Rage: Carrie 2 has a perfectly ordinary tattoo of a thorny rose. When she goes for the big rage scene, the tattoo spreads itself all over her body from head to toe, leaving her with the image of a thorny vine curling around her body.

  • Susan Sto Helit, of Discworld, has a birthmark on her face from where her father was slapped by the skeletal incarnation of Death. The thin red marks, as of bony fingers, become visible when she is angry, embarrassed or otherwise flushed, so they aren't precisely marks of badassitude — but she's a woman protagonist in a Pratchett novel, so rendering her moderately annoyed is pretty much the same thing; she's about to destroy you.
    • It could also be taken, as Narrative Causality is a force on the Disc, as a literal manifestation of the expression "I'm going to hit you so hard your children will feel it."
  • The Dresden Files. The members of the Fellowship of St. Giles are all people who've been infected by Red Court vampires, but who haven't given in to their hungers and killed someone, so they're stuck in the state between human and icky demon thing wearing human flesh. To keep their hungers in check, they're tattooed with control sigils; when they draw upon their inherently vampiric powers (superstrength, great speed, resiliency), the tattoos become visible and start turning deeper shades of red to reflect how much self-control they have left.
  • Inverted with Zoey Redbird in The House of Night series, who gets new magical tattoos after she does something heroic. Ordinary vampyres develop a blue occasionally red crescent on their forehead after they stop being human, which expand to unique cheek patterns if they transition to adulthood.
  • Used in Alfred Bester's novel The Stars My Destination (aka Tiger! Tiger!), with some justifying done. Gully Foyle has a tiger pattern tattooed on his face. After he has this removed, it reappears as red marks from the rush of blood whenever he gets angry.
    • Possibly Truth in Television, depending on the removal procedure used. All procedures will leave behind some kind of scarring, and superficial/not-usually-visible scars will often flush redder than surrounding skin.
  • In the Wild Cards novels, Jack "Golden Boy" Braun earns his nickname because every time he uses his Super-Strength or Nigh-Invulnerability, he gains a golden nimbus that is bright enough to read by in the dark.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer's example is when Willow has her Superpower Meltdown after Tara is killed. She absorbs knowledge from a whole pile of books on Black Magic, and the arcane symbols all ink themselves onto her skin like tattoos, and her hair and eyes go pitch black.
    • More subtly done previously in the series, where Willow's eyes simply become huge and black. Done big again at the end of the series when Willow makes all the potentials into Slayers, her hair goes all white and there's a white glowing light.
  • Darien Fawkes of The Invisible Man has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist in the shape of an orouboris. It gradually changes from green to red as he gets closer to Quicksilver Madness.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the White Wolf Game Exalted, the Lunar Exalted are marked by moonsilver tattoos over their entire bodies. While they can learn to hide these, drawing too deeply upon their powers causes them to shine through disguise and clothing alike. Most Exalted manifest some small markings along with their Anima Banner, but these are usually only seen on their foreheads.
    • Malfeas has a charm that creates this effect, coating the user in emerald fire lines spelling out how awesome they are in an ancient language. It augments the user's ability to take damage considerably.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Liliana Vess. In the midst of her magical mayhem, the demonic pacts carved into her skin often show forth (as shown in the link; the rest of the time, she's just a beautiful human woman ).
  • Bright Wizards (the college of fire) in Warhammer tattoo their spells onto their bodies. They're said to light up when the wizard gets into serious spellcasting.
  • This happens every time a werewolf enters the Shadow in Werewolf: The Forsaken; they gain glowing silvers tattoos all over their bodies, called "Spirit Brands" which detail particularly heroic deeds that the werewolf has performed.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Absalom's body has Tron Lines throughout, and once he goes full-throttle to unleash a wave attack while summoning pillars to power himself up, the marks glow more brightly.
  • From the .hack franchise:
    • All Eight Epitaph users from the .hack//G.U. series do this when calling their Avatar. Each character has a different pattern, likely mimicking patterns or appearances of their Avatar.
    • Kite in the .hack R1 Games starts out wearing olive green. However, due to his encounter with Aura in the first dungeon of .hack//Infection, his outfit is turned bright red with orange markings. That shade of red and the markings are ordinarily not available to players, and it marks Kite as someone special... unfortunately for him, that includes the in-game administrators, who oppose him due to fear that he's going to hack their game. Luckily, Kite eventually clears that up and gains their assistance.
  • The third time you complete The Bouncer, the Big Bad Dauragon C. Mikado gets up again after his normally-final form is defeated. He now has an unexplained dragon-tattoo and a LOT more power.
  • In Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, the hero's Dragonform resembles less a dragon, and more a black-skinned version of himself with glowing red tattoos.
  • The characters in the Digital Devil Saga games have a circuit-like pattern spread over their skin before they enter their demon forms.
  • In Dragon Age II, Fenris' lyrium tattoos start to glow blue when he's drawing on their power.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind:
    • After the Tribunal went against the will of Azura and used the Tools of Kagrenac on the Heart of Lorkhan, she either cursed the formerly gold-skinned Chimer people with the dark skin and red eyes of the modern Dunmer or pointed out that the Tribunal had done it while using the tools. (The details are rather sketchy at best.)
    • The physical forms of the Tribunal all changed as well after using the tools to achieve godhood. Almalexia kept her Chimer form, becoming even more beautiful and adding all sorts of adornments to her form, including complex tattoos. Vivec became half-Chimer/half-Dunmer, split right down the middle, which went along well with his mythic status as a hermaphrodite "trickster," and added a "flame" to his bald head. Sotha Sil meanwhile adopted the basic form of a Dunmer.
    • When Almalexia finally snaps and reveals her Face–Heel Turn to the Nerevarine, she appears with her terrifying battle mask.
  • In Fable, the more proficient you become with magic, the more mystical glowing runes appear on your body.
    • In Fable III, when charging for a flourish attack, different glowing patterns (depending on the clothing worn) appear. This is additional to tattoos which begin to glow in different colours as you decide upon your moral alignment.
  • Fate/stay night: Ilya's Magic Crest covers most of her body. Most of the time it's invisible, but sometimes it shines through her clothes, such as when she's casting spells. Dark Sakura also has this, combined with Mystical White Hair.
  • In Lux-Pain this happens when Atsuki uses sigma.
  • In Mega Man X8, the red lines on Axl's body pulse when he's absorbed a DNA Core and is ready to use his A-Trans shapeshifting ability.
  • Another SMT example comes from Nocturne's Demi-Fiend, who sports some mean black-and-green marks along his body after the Conception.
  • Ōkami: Amaterasu. While she does have red body markings almost at all times, they become twice as elaborate when she reaches full power via Combined Energy Attack.
  • The protagonist of Shadow Man gains additional tattoos as he gains powers.
  • The more colossi you kill in Shadow of the Colossus, the more black marks appear on Wander's body. This is not good.
  • In Solatorobo, it's difficult or even nigh-impossible to see in the game itself, but this spoilerific piece of concept art reveals that Red's Dahak-fused Trance form has Tron Lines, whereas his unfused Trance form and normal, basic form do not.
  • Darkspine Sonic from Sonic and the Secret Rings gets white stripes running up his head, and around his wrists and ankles.
  • Liu-Shen of Suikoden Tierkreis, signifying that he is the new Elder Scribe.
  • Taboo Minamimoto from The World Ends with You.

    Web Comics 
  • Damien in El Goonish Shive: His stripes start glowing when he superheats his own skin.
  • Inverted in Magience: Rune loses her markings when she becomes a Dragoon.

    Web Original 
  • In Phaeton when the Phaetonians start using their nonpassive abilities, their tribal markings will glow, the more powerful the ability the brighter the glow. If the ability is used for an extended length of time the markings will fade until a stronger power is used.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang has ordinary tattoos, but they glow white along with his eyes when he goes into the Avatar State.
  • When Ben 10 goes Upgrade, he gets glowing Tron Lines along his body.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: When Star or her relatives use particularly powerful magic, their Facial Markings glow. Others that cast spells may temporarily gain such glowing marks, as shown when Marco used Star's wand in an emergency. A supplementary book explains habitual use of/exposure to magic is what causes the permanently visible marking in the first place.
  • In the fifth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), the turtles would sport these when accessing their Ninja Tribunal-granted powers.
  • In Teen Titans, as Raven is getting close to fulfilling her destiny of bringing her demon father into the world, her skin begins to break out in glowing script, script that was put there by Slade.
  • Wakfu:
    • Yugo and Qilby both experience this, gaining curving, tattoo-like marks on their chests when empowered.
    • Whenever a character is being possessed by a shushu, they gain black streaks on their skin. The marks vanish after the shushu is exorcised, except for Dally, who keeps his after overpowering Rubilax on his own.

    Real Life 
  • The tiny (but deadly) blue-ringed octopus' normally-dull rings covering its body will glow bright blue when it's about to attack.
    • Many octopuses will intensify in color when they are mad or about to attack, eg the Giant Pacific Octopus Turns Red.
  • Same with Pfeffer's Flamboyant Cuttlefish
  • Inverted by the railway worm (which is actually a type of beetle that never leaves the larval stage). Railway worms get their name from the series of yellow bioluminescent lights that run down the length of their bodies, which warn predators that they're poisonous. However, when they find the trail of their favorite prey, millipedes, they extinguish the lights so that the millipedes can't spot them coming.


Video Example(s):


Truth and White Lips

Anyone affected by his power gains white lips.

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