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Scar Survey

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She would gladly have spent her whole life touching Daario, tracing his scars and making him tell her how he'd come by every one.

A scene (often before or after sex) where the heroine asks the hero how he got the various scars on his body. This gives him a chance to reveal his badass nature or Mysterious Past without appearing boastful to the audience. If this scene happens before the two become lovers, it's a good opportunity for Fanservice and Unresolved Sexual Tension as she studies his body closely.

Tends not to be gender-reversed as Beauty Is Never Tarnished. When women do have scars it's meant to hint at a Dark and Troubled Past, which they are often unwilling to talk about. But there are exceptions, as seen below.

Can combine with acquiring new scars, in the After-Action Patch-Up.

See also Dented Iron, Good Scars, Evil Scars, Rugged Scar, Scars are Forever, and Covered with Scars. Related to Every Scar Has a Story.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk gives us that rare gender-flipped example when Guts inspects Casca's arrow-wound scars right before they make love, since Casca is just as much as a badass fighter as he who has earned her fair amount of scars from battle. She is at first embarrassed by them... but that doesn't stop Guts from finding her totally attractive.
    • Casca does this to Guts too, as she recants about all of the scars that he got while trying to protect her from General Adon and his troops. In one extremely sexy moment, she licks one of the wounds that she recently gave him, and says that she someday wants a scar on her body given to her by Guts. Hmmm...
  • In the anime adaptation of Parasyte, Murano caresses Shinichi's chest scar during their Pre-Climax Climax.

    Comic Books 
  • Has happened multiple times with Bruce (Batman) Wayne.
  • It happened between Matt Murdock and Milla Donovan during the "Hardcore" arc.
  • The volume of The Boys that contain the flashbacks depicting Butcher's Start of Darkness shows that the first time he had sex with his future wife she noticed the scar he got from being shot in The Falklands War. She doesn't want to hear the story behind it, however, and it's not necessary for the audience since Butcher had already recounted it earlier. On another occasion as he's falling asleep she traces her fingers over several other scars and says to herself that Butcher's strength and rage both desperately need to be tempered.

    Fan Works 
  • Male and female example: this is the main point of the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Much Better Now After Mai checks out the scars all over Zuko's body, he notices hers, including some she got by self-harming when she was younger.
  • A male-on-male example is the entirety of the Skyfall one-shot Corpore Sano — contrasting the film's recurring motif of damage and Bond's combat scars with those of Q's carefully and deliberately administered self-harm scars.
  • One Knights of the Old Republic fanfic had Carth and Canderous get a little drunk and boastful, which leads them to start stripping and comparing battle scars. Now, the Mando'ade has an impressive collection, but so does the Republic War vet. Carth's about to show off the nastiest one he has (which requires dropping trou) when the crew's women come in Fem!Revan then shuts them both up by showing off her nastiest one.
  • In The Bridge, Godzilla has been turned into a pony, and ends up telling Princess Luna where he got all his scars. She returns the gesture by showing him her scar.
  • In chapter 41 of RWBY: Scars, Blake kisses her girlfriend Weiss' facial scar, which Weiss received by scarring herself a few years prior. Blake refers to Weiss' scar as her second favorite part of Weiss' face (right after her eyes).
  • In the Arrow fanfic "Scars" by Dalphinia, Thea Queen does this to her brother Oliver.
  • In the Law & Order: UK story Deck The Halls Alesha Philips initiates sex with Matt Devlin this way, trailing her fingers, then her mouth across the scars left from his shooting (he survives in this universe).
  • Genderflipped in the Firefly fic March Fracture. It deals with the tension between Wash and Zoe because Wash wants to know the stories behind her scars and Zoe rarely if ever talks about any of it, likely not wanting to burden Wash with the darkness that’s been in her life.

    Film — Animation 
  • Batman: Hush. Batman/Bruce Wayne finally reveals his Secret Identity to Catwoman/Selina Kyle, and they end up in bed together. This trope happens post-coitus.
    Selina: Your many.
    Bruce: You ah...remember these?
    Selina: I'd just gotten my retractable claws. Cost a small fortune.
    Bruce: They worked. I had to upgrade my Kevlar body armor after that.
    Selina: Uh, sorry?

     Film — Live Action 
  • The famous scene in Lethal Weapon 3 where Martin Riggs and Lorna Cole start talking about the injuries they got as Cowboy Cops; Cole chickens out when Riggs starts stripping off to show his properly.
  • Spoofed in Loaded Weapon 1 when Destiny shows off her various cosmetic surgery mishaps in comparison to Colt's over-the-top war wounds.
  • In The Return of Swamp Thing features a villainous example when a pair of male and female mercenaries in employ of the Mad Scientist Big Bad flirt by showing off their scars. One of the guy's is a scratch from a former lover.
  • I, Robot (2004). A UST moment (though not one that's ever consummated) occurs between Detective Spooner and robopsychologist Susan Calvin when she examines his artificial arm and ribs; this leads to the scene where Spooner explains how he got the injury and why he doesn't trust robots.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Working Girl when Tess asks Jack about the scar on his chin post-coitus. He initially claims it was a knife wound from an attempted mugging, but immediately recants and tells the much more mundane and embarrassing true story.
  • Happens in Brotherhood of the Wolf during the hero's love scene with the local High-Class Call Girl, each scar being a hunting memory. She draws a dagger and marks him with one more, as a memory of her.
  • Happens to the titular serial killer in The Stepfather II, when his current love interest notices the knife wound he received at the end of the first film. He gives a BS response about how he was attacked by a former and extremely unstable patient of his.
  • The Big Red One. In a deleted scene the German sergeant protagonist receives a (non-sexual) massage from a French woman who asks about the injuries we've seen him receive earlier in the movie.
  • In Five Feet Apart, Stella and Will strip to their underwear and compare surgical scars.
  • In RocknRolla two Russian mobsters who are former Russian special forces compare their scars while waiting in the car. Culminating with the bigger one presenting a scar he claims to be a result of getting his arm caught in a tank's track.
  • Hancock has a rather odd version in which Mary tells Hancock where he got all his scars. He has amnesia and doesn't remember any of them.
  • Discussed rather than seen in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). The morning after their Destructo-Nookie John and Jane Smith are talking about past hits, and the permanent injuries they have as a result.
  • The famous scar comparison scene in Jaws.
  • Chasing Amy has a scene modeled after that in Jaws, only Banky and Alyssa are comparing injuries they received while performing oral sex.
  • Parodied in an early scene in From Russia with Love, which has Bond's girlfriend of the time (who never appeared again) jokingly ask him if he got a scar on his left side from another jealous woman. He quips that she's right and that he's never said no to one since. (The scar in question actually resulted from a fall during the Air-Vent Passageway scene in Dr. No, when he gashed himself on the join between two sections of conduit.)
  • The Terminator. Sarah Connor touches the burn/bullet scars on Kyle Reese's back shortly before they make love.
  • The Dark Knight Rises. After they've made love and are warming themselves by the fireplace, Bruce Wayne and Miranda Tate note each other's scars. This is an early clue that Miranda is a villain, as the scar on her back is the same as the League of Shadows brand seen in Batman Begins.
  • Subverted in Justice League (2017) when Wonder Woman sees Bruce Wayne with his shirt off and notes the extensive bruising. She tells Bruce he can't keep doing this forever and he replies "I can barely keep doing this now."
  • A non-sexual version in Forced Vengeance. Chuck Norris' character is arrested by the police and his scars catalogued, with our hero explaining what weapon caused them: knife, gunshot, pitchfork...
  • In Parker, Claire conducts a scar survey on Parker's back during a Shower of Love in a flashback while Parker is bleeding to death.
  • La Reine Margot. Margot's brothers forcibly undress her, pointing out the various scars from love bites inflicted during their Villainous Incest.
  • In Ripper: Letter from Hell, Molly conducts one on Kane before they have sex: studying the deep scars the Serial Killer had left on his back.
  • Shortcut to Happiness: When Stone wakes up next to the Devil after having sex, he runs his finger along the perfect skin of her back, only to find an ugly scar at the base of her spine where her tail was cut off. She reacts angrily and refuses to discuss the scar.
  • Subverted in Death Race 2000. Frankenstein's navigator gets him to take off his Darth Vader-esque gear to show his racing injuries and rebuilt cyborg body, all described in detail by the government Propaganda Machine. But his outfit just covers for the fact that he doesn't have any scars, as he's a Legacy Character raised and trained by the government for the Transcontinental Road Race, each one replaced when the last is killed or incapacitated.
  • In Truth or Dare (2012), Gemma walks in on Justin changing his shirt and comments—rather appreciatively—that he has a lot of scars. He responds wryly that he has been in a lot of scrapes.
  • Pig Hunt: When Ricky is asked if he got the scar on his neck from the giant hog that attacked him, he explains that he got that scar from John in a dispute over a game of mumbletypeg. He then lifts up his shirt to show the even bigger scars he got from being wounded in Iraq, and from the hog attack.
  • A variation in The Dark Tower when Roland is taken to a hospital on Keystone Earth. A group of doctors appear wanting to hold him for observation because he has several strains of hepatitis and chronic radiation poisoning.
  • The theatrical version of Daredevil (2003) has a love scene involving the title character and Elektra Natchios, who at one point is shown tracing one of the many scars on Matt Murdock's back and frowning as if wondering how he got them (at the time she doesn't know he's Daredevil).
  • Jonah Hex. Lilah does this as foreplay with the title character; in this case she's asking in what order he got his many bulletholes. Jonah is not Nigh-Invulnerable but is too stubborn to die, so he's Covered in Scars as well as his infamous Facial Horror.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha shows Steve the scar she received protecting one of the Winter Soldier's targets. She mentions that he shot through her to get the target; she was lucky that, since she wasn't the target, he let her survive the ordeal.


  • A Brother's Price has a gender-reversed example, with Cira and Jerin, when they talk about the scar on her face, which is nothing compared to how her back looks. They didn't sleep with each other beforehand, but she did try to seduce him, and tries a second time after revealing her scars.
  • A subversion of the "mysterious badass" version occurs in Catch-22 when Yossarian, an American WWII bombardier, asks the Italian woman he has just slept with about the scars on her back. She tells him that she got them in an American air raid. She doesn't seem to take it personally though because War Is Hell.
  • In City of Bones (2002), Julia Brasher asks Harry Bosch about his scars after sex. He has a scar from a knife wound suffered in the Vietnam War, and a bullet scar which he suffered during the Harry Bosch novel The Black Echo.
  • An after-sex version happens in S. M. Stirling's post-apocalypse novel Dies The Fire. An ex-recon Marine is asked about a scar he got during Desert Storm. He says it's from an RPG, causing the puzzled woman to wonder how you get a scar during a Role-Playing Game.
  • It's not after sex because they're not yet married and Taysan society doesn't countenance premaritals, but Jay shows off as many of his scars as are decently visible to Ashlenn in the third Spaceforce book. He omits to mention that one of them was received in a beating from the henchman of a husband he cuckolded.
  • Fair Game, a crime novel by Paula Gosling. The woman being guarded by the cop protagonist asks about his scars when she sees him shirtless while shaving.
  • The Little Drummer Girl. Charlie is sleeping with her Mossad case officer Joseph and asks about his scars; Joseph says they're burns from the hot metal of the tank he used to drive and the machine-gun wounds he got after bailing out of it. A grimmer version of this trope is when Mossad spymaster Kurtz shows her captured terrorist Salim, whom Charlie is going to pretend was her boyfriend. They point out his various scars and how he got them, information she would know if she was truly his lover.
  • The Executioner. In "Panic in Philly", the daughter of a Mafia boss fires at Mack Bolan with a shotgun, but the choke setting and pellet size are wrong and the pellets only sting him. Later when Bolan infiltrates their family by posing as a Black Ace, she sees the welts on his body during this trope and realizes who he really is.
    • In the Able Team spin-off, government 'specialist' Carl Lyons is asked post-coitus by DEA agent Flor Trujillo how he got his various scars, including a crescent scar on his elbow caused by a rear-view mirror hurled at him by the impact of a machine-gun bullet. He says they're from breaking up family fights when he was a cop, and the elbow one was from an attack-trained clam on the beach. Flor doesn't believe him.
  • The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Genetically engineered concubine Emiko does a silent version of this when she's in bed with corporate spy Anderson Lake, trying to work out from his wounds something of his Mysterious Past.
  • The Dresden Files has several of these between the titular character and a lover.
    • The scene in the laundry room between Harry and Anastasia Luccio before their de facto Relationship Upgrade in Small Favor.
      • And again when dressing up for a fancy party in Skin Game, this time with Hannah Ascher, a rogue pyromancer and a temporary partner in crime, doing the survey. Unlike the last time, Harry chose to stay strictly business. Even the sex-crazy Winter Knight Mantle had to thank him later though, as it turned out that Ascher played host to Harry's old "friend", Fallen angel Lasciel the Temptress.
  • Anita Blake from Anita Blake Vampire Hunter, has to show off and talk about her many scars from vampire hunting in nearly every book, no sex needed (although she has plenty of that).
  • Happens to Matthew Hawkwood in Ratcatcher.
  • Occurs every time Jack Reacher gets laid.
  • Imriel and Sidonie in Kushiel's Legacy, only in Imriel's case, it's the brand he got while being used as a sex slave at the age of ten. Ouch.
  • A rare solo version occurs in Bloodlist when newly-undead Jack examines his own injuries to try to determine how he'd died.
  • Since Geralt of The Witcher series is in a job that constantly makes all kinds of nasties mistake him for a chew toy, and he also Really Gets Around, this tends to happen at least once a book.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan experiences more than one of these, although they are not usually after having had sex. It tends to happen pretty much any time anyone who hasn't seen his collection of scars before sees him without long sleeves and long pants. On the other hand, his future wife fantasizes about exploring those scars, slowly and thoroughly, in bed.
  • Use of Weapons. Done by a poet-lover of Cheradenine Zakalwe, who's Covered in Scars as he's a mercenary for the Culture. Although he could lose the scars, he claims to keep them to impress girls. He ends up losing the scars after being decapitated, then given a new clone body, whereupon he sheds Manly Tears as Every Scar Has a Story.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Mat Cauthon receives one of these from a lover in an intimate moment. She's a Proud Warrior Race Woman who appreciates the marks of an accomplished fighter, whereas he's only barely Resigned to the Call and privately believes that a better accomplishment would have been to have avoided the injuries in the first place.
  • Fraternity of the Stone, by David Morrell. The protagonist spends a non-sexual night with a prostitute to avoid sleeping in a hotel. She's shocked by the scars on his back, but he pretends they're from being tortured during the Vietnam War. Actually they're self-inflicted when he flagellated himself out of guilt for his sins, having undergone a Heel–Faith Turn from being a Professional Killer.
  • In the novelization of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Saavik sleeps with David Marcus, who notes the scar of a Romulan family mark. Saavik explains that she keeps the mark so that if she ever meets her father, she can demand the right of a blood-duel to avenge her Vulcan mother.
  • It doesn't happen on-screen, so to speak, but in The Sharing Knife, Fawn is stated to have asked Dag for the stories behind each and every one of the many, many scars he's accumulated over the course of his long career as a Hunter of Monsters.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Leverage had Eliot and guest character Raquel Dayan showing each other their scars. All tropes were played straight for both of them.
  • Cougar Town had a young man Jules was about to sleep with ask her about a stomach scar in the pilot. She awkwardly claims she got knifed as a kid, then reveals it's from her C-Section.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). In "Darkside Tango", Spike Spiegel expresses doubt that Faye Valentine is a proper Bounty Hunter, so the two start showing off their scars as a mutual Badass Boast. It's not played for sexual tension, unless it's the belligerent kind.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • Beauty and the Beast, a past love notices the scar behind Catherine's ear. However, she only tells him "it's a long story" when he asks how she got it.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In episode "End of the Beginning", while discussing with Skye, after her stomach wound is mentioned Agent Garret talks about several scars he'd received in the line of duty, including showing off a nasty third-degree burn below the neck.
  • Person of Interest.
    • While hiding from an HR manhunt in "The Crossing", John Reese and Joss Carter show each other the injuries they got during the War on Terror. This leads to Reese showing the bullet he was intending to kill himself with before meeting Carter in the pilot episode, which leads to The Big Damn Kiss.
    • The post-coital version happens in "6,741". Root and Sameen Shaw have sex after the latter escapes from nine months of torture by Samaritan operatives. When Root starts with this trope, Shaw has to inform her the scars are from her previous work as a government assassin, whereas Samaritan's torture was more psychological.
  • There's another example in Due South. During his recovery at hospital, Benton Fraser is subjected to one by a very attractive nurse. She makes good guesses about where his various scars come from. Lots of sexual tension, but unresolved.
  • Castle: During The Big Damn Kiss at the end of the fourth season finale "Always", Castle pauses while unbuttoning Beckett's blouse and briefly notices the scar left by the bullet that nearly killed her in the third season finale "Knockout".
  • A sci-fi variation occurs in Altered Carbon. Ortega and Kovacs do the pre-sex version during an After Action Patch Up, only it's not his body so she has to tell him where he got the scars from in the first place.
  • Outlander: While having his bullet wound tended to by Claire, Jamie explains how he got the extensive lattice of scars covering his back.
  • Game of Thrones
    • Daenerys dismisses the assertion that Jon Snow was brought back from the dead after taking a knife in the heart. She realizes otherwise when his clothes are removed to treat his injuries and she sees several old scars, including one directly over his heart. It's about this time that they fall in love too, so there's also the Ship Tease element.
    • When Arya Stark strips off to have sex with Gendry, we see his surprised look at the scars on her body that she's picked up over the past few years.
  • The Musketeers: Aramis' Establishing Character Moment in the first episode sees him lying in bed with Cardinal Richelieu's mistress while she looks over the scars on his torso and asks where they came from. The first two she asks about are genuine battle wounds, the third...
    Adele: And this one?
    Aramis: Your nails, at the Luxembourg Gardens, the day before yesterday.
  • Arrow
    • In "Honor Thy Father", Thea Queen walks in on her brother Oliver changing his shirt and is shocked at the extensive burns and scars on his body, and gets angry when he refuses to talk about how he got them.
    • In "Damaged", Oliver reveals that he was tortured on the island he was marooned on. His estranged ex-fiancé Laurel Lance insists on seeing the scars, leading to a Big Damn Kiss before Laurel comes to her senses and rushes from the room.
    • In "Time of Death", Oliver, John Diggle, and Sara Lance are all sparring and end up sharing the origins of their various scars (IED, grenade, knives, bullets, etc.) Their IT specialist Felicity Smoak feels somewhat left out as the only scar she can boast of is from getting her wisdom teeth removed (3 stitches!). She's quite happy when she later takes a bullet for Sara, giving her a genuine badass scar.
  • Daredevil (2015)
    • In "Semper Fidelis", Matt Murdock's former girlfriend Elektra checks out the scars he acquired during last season's events, and he examines some of her new ones as well. As Matt is involved with Karen Page at the time, this UST-laden scene is not a good sign.
    • In "Reunion", while hiding from Agent Poindexter in the church crypt, Matt exchanges his bloodstained shirt for a new one and Karen's reaction is a shocked "Jesus, Matt..." at the sight of all the fresh scars on his chest from his fight with Poindexter.
  • The Punisher (2017)
    • In "Cold Steel", Dinah Madani does this after sex with Billy Russo. She spots a bruise that he claims is a paintball bruise from a training exercise (actually it's from when the Punisher shot Russo while he was wearing a bulletproof vest) and compares it to an actual bullet wound on his body. Dinah expects a suitably badass (and somewhat exaggerated) war story about an injury to his shoulder, but Russo reveals that's from when his arm was broken by a pedophile while he was in a group home. Dinah jokes that at least his handsome face wasn't damaged.
    • In "One Bad Day", Russo (his face now extensively scarred) has rough sex with his therapist Krista Dumont, who turns out to have her own scars and even encourages Russo to squeeze them during sex to inflict pain on her. After sex, she tells Russo to just go ahead and ask how she got them because everyone does eventually (though it's a while before she reveals the full story).
    • At the start of Season 2, The Bartender of a roadhouse invites Frank Castle back to her place and their Sex Montage is intercut with them Talking in Bed.
      Beth: I mean, you should be...should I see the other guy?
      Frank: Nah. Rough road.
      Beth: Yeah, you're not kidding. (both laugh) What happened?
      Frank: Marine Corp.
  • Bodyguard (UK 2018). Episode 3 opens with Julia Montague and David Budd post-coitus, with Julia lightly running her fingers over the scars on Budd's back that he got from his military service in Afghanistan.
    Julia: They don't hurt?
    David: Not now. I'm one of the lucky ones.
    Julia: Because you survived?
    David: Aye, that too.
  • On Third Watch, after they make love for the first time, Doc notices a scar on his girlfriend Dr. Morales' arm, which she tells him she got in high school, fighting with another girl over a guy.
  • In the 1992 TV movie A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia, a colleague sees the scars on Lawrence's back and asks about them. He claims they were from being dragged through a barbed wire fence, but it's left ambiguous if that's the real story.
  • Halt and Catch Fire: While sleeping with Joe, Cameron observes a scar on Joe's chest then asks how he acquired them, Joe goes into a laundry list of backstories such as being chased on the roof by bullies, joyriding in his new car in the middle of winter and even an incident involving a rusted mill. Joe reveals that he had gotten scarred from accidentally falling off his roof while stargazing with his mom while she was high on drugs.

  • In Carlos Murillo's dark play or stories for boys, the entire plot is kicked off by one of these. In the first scene, Nick has just had sex with a girl for the first time. She asks him about the dozens of different-sized slash-like scars on his abdomen, and his narration immediately spirals into a panic about what to tell her. The rest of the play is a series of flashbacks leading up to how he got them. Supposedly.

    Video Games 
  • In Logy's story in Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, Escha accidentally walks in on Logy as he's cleaning the atelier and sees that he has a large scar on his chest. He explains that it's due to a past accident, though she doesn't get much more out of him than that. Seeing the scene, which is pretty much automatic, earns the player the "Scars of the Past" Trophy.

    Visual Novels 
  • Endless Summer: Rare Gender-Inverted example (if the protagonist is male) in Book 2. If a love scene is purchased, Estela tells the main character about some scars she has. One is from horseback riding.
  • Gender-inverted in Ever17, when Tsugumi shows her many scars to Takeshi during their gondola ride. Then they make love.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • In Lilly's first sex scene, despite being blind, she manages to feel Hisao's scars from his heart surgery. She becomes uneasy over whether they should keep going, but Hisao suggests that it should be OK for him.
    • In Hanako's route, Hisao's decision to show her his scars was perhaps the definitive turning point in their relationship, partly due to the insecurity Hanako has about her own much more visible scars. Hanako... sorta returns the favor later right before her own sex scene, stripping down to her panties and pantyhose and letting Hisao see her body clearly.
    • Subverted in one of the sex scenes with Rin, more exactly the second one. According to Hisao's narration (the player doesn't get to see it), the born-without-arms Rin used her foot to touch his chest... but when she lightly touched the scar on his chest, he covered it with his hands almost by reflex and didn't let her touch it directly.


Video Example(s):


How Joe Got His Scars

While making love, Joe reveals the backstory of his chest scars but comes up with lie after lie.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScarSurvey

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