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Tattooed Crook

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Just a young boy, born to a life of poverty
Hustlin, robbery, whatever brung the paper home
Carried the chrome like a blind man hold a cane
Tattoos all over his chest so you could know his name
Dead Prez, "Behind Enemy Lines"

Tattoos have a long history and have over the millennia been signs of different social classes, from royalty to the rags. In more recent times, they have become associated with criminals, sailors, and criminal sailors (a.k.a. pirates). In fiction, a tattoo can act as a shorthand for "criminal", and at times it's not that far off. Organized crime from Yakuza to Gangbangers have their own codes, and prisoners tell their life stories in pictures.

The attitudes towards tattoos have during the past decades have softened. In an old movie, a character with a tattoo was either a sailor or a thug. In the 2020s, regular middle-class people get tattoos. Indeed, old pirate and prisoner tattoo designs have been adopted into the general lexicon of regular tattoos, prime example being the spider web, which depending on the bearer might have oncd meant drug addiction, incarceration, or killing a minority, but is now a fashion accessory.

Still, the stigma with the past backgrounds makes tattoos popular with rebel types. Even the Rule-Abiding Rebel — or especially the Rule-Abiding Rebel, since it does not actually require committing illegal acts to look rebellious. There is still extreme stigma related to tattoos in Japan, as they are still closely associated with the Yakuza to this day. A tattoo is still a common visual cue in Japanese media for a character of dubious morals or simply a delinquent.

This could be regarded as an Evolving Trope; as tattoos went into mainstream fashion during The '90s, the gangland crooks took their tattoos up a notch with neck tattoos and face tattoos (see Tattoo as Character Type). If a group of crooks has a defining tattoo, see Group-Identifying Feature.

May be Embarrassing Tattoo when a crook or rebellious punk rock musician goes straight and moves to Suburbia. In futuristic settings, a Barcode Tattoo may be an Orwellian surveillance and control tactic.

In Real Life in the 2020s, tattoos have gone mainstream. Suburban soccer moms and accountants get tattoos, and the college student barista at your Bourgeois Bohemian coffeshop has a full sleeve tattoo that you'd only have seen in The '80s on a Heavy Metal lead singer or a Badass Biker. Some Real Life tattoos have a horrifying usage. Nazis put identification tattoos on Jewish prisoners in WWII concentration camps during the Holocaust.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The leader of the clown gang in AKIRA has a clown face tattooed on both his arms.
  • Delinquent Jacuzzi Splot from Baccano! has a scimitar tattooed on his face, as a symbol of solidarity to Nice, who got her face scarred in an accident.
  • In Black Cat, Train has a tattoo of the number XIII on his chest. It signifies that he belonged to Chronos, and is generally viewed by people as being fearsome. He doesn't seem to mind showing it though.
  • One chapter of Black Jack involved performing an operation on a yakuza boss with fully tattooed skin, without damaging the tattoo.
  • Revy from Black Lagoon has a large shoulder piece. Also, Yakuza muscleman Ginji from the "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" arc sports a large traditional Yakuza tattoo.
  • The target of the week in the Cowboy Bebop episode "Heavy Metal Queen" is described to have a dragon tattoo, which causes some confusion as bounty hunters look for the right guy.
  • Horada from Durarara!! sports a butterfly tattoo on his left wrist. The butterfly logo also can be found on his shirt and the hood of his car. He is also one of the more ruthless gang members, also being a former Blue Square higher-up that was involved in the kidnapping and crippling of Kida's girlfriend Saki.
  • Many characters in Gokusen (including the dog!) like to let their jacket fall open to reveal a heavily tattooed shoulder, for intimidation purposes. Kumiko sometimes does this unconsciously while yelling at her students (although she doesn't seem to have any tattoos).
  • Mion Sonozaki has a large yakuza tattoo on her back in Higurashi: When They Cry. It's also a major plot point, since Shion should have gotten it instead, but a Twin Switch screwed all up.
  • In King of Thorn, Marco Owen is identified by the other survivors as a criminal due to his prominent prison tattoos.
  • Yazan, Psycho for Hire of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam has a turtle tattooed on his chest.
  • Orochimaru's Curse Seals from Naruto are magical tattoos that let you go One-Winged Angel that he gives to his Evil Minions.
  • Nami, from a pirate adventure series One Piece, first had the Arlong pirate's crest on her shoulder, but after breaking ties with them, changed it into a homage to her adoptive mother Bellemere and surrogate father figure Genzo. (Her adoptive older sister Nojiko, despite not being a crook, also got a tattoo to show her sympathy for her.) Also, Luffy's brother Ace has ASCE (with an X through the S) on his bicep and the Whitebeard Pirate's crest on his back, which in the manga contained a Manji, but was changed into a cross in the Anime and retconned into the manga.
    • One Piece seems to like this trope. Boa Hancock and her sisters Marigold and Sandersonia were revealed to have a scar tattoo on their backs called the "Hoof of the Soaring Dragon", the crest of Celestial Dragons. It is a mark that is burned into people who are slaves to the nobles and signifies that they are "less than human", which explains why they invented the story of the Gorgon so nobody would look at their backs.
    • Speaking of that, after Fisher Tiger freed a whole lot of slaves of the Celestial Dragons' (the Boa sisters included), he took most of the Fishmen slaves, and re-branded their tattoos into what resembled sun tattoos, effectively making it the symbol of the Pirates of the Sun, which he and Jimbei captained, until Tiger died and Jimbei became one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
      • Arlong and much of his crew all sport these tattoos because they were once members of the Pirates of the Sun.
    • Subverted with the New Fishman Pirates. While they sport a tattoo that looks like the Sun Pirates' tattoo at first glance, it has a decapitated human inside the sun ring instead of a dot. Since this would not cover up the Celestial Dragons' Slave Brand, this eventually leads to The Reveal that no member of the New Fishman Pirates has ever been a slave.
    • Trafalgar Law has a number of tattoos, including "Smile" tattoos on his arms, tiny cross-shapes on the backs of his hands, and "DEATH" on his fingers.
    • Dragon the Revolutionary, the most wanted man in the world. The tattoo runs down the left half of his face.
    • Big Mom and Kaido, incredibly powerful pirate emperors and the primary antagonists of the Four Emperors Arc, each have tattoos on their left arm. Big Mom has a large heart design, while Kaido has a sleeve resembling scales as well as a skull.
  • Gene from Outlaw Star has a tattoo of a star on his bicep. And is an outlaw.
  • Cabbage from Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin has a tattoo on his bicep. His criminal activities are just an act of violence while drunk, but it's possible he had the crime pinned on him because of the suspicious tattoo.
  • Mugen from Samurai Champloo has blue rings tattooed around his wrists, to mark him as a convict.
  • One of Nozomu's co-teachers, Jinroku in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has a large Yakuza tattoo on his back, which scares the titular protagonist.
    • In one episode where Nozomu comments on getting through life by ignoring unpleasant things, he sees a guy walk by with a dragon tattoo on his arm. He shudders and comments, "Ignoring that."
  • 20th Century Boys features two tattooed former criminals, one Thai and the other Italian, who have both become Catholic priests.
  • Inverted example in Yu-Gi-Oh!: while Marik Ishtar is a Big Bad and the leader of his own criminal organization, what caused him to become a crook in the first place was the painful coming of age ritual where he received his large tattoo covering his back. This tattoo is merely associated with becoming Pharaoh Atem's tombkeeper and not with crime; however, this reception of the tattoo augmented Marik's hatred toward Atem as well as created his Superpowered Evil Side, which he would harbor until he would actually become an active Big Bad.
    • Also, Marik's stepbrother Rishid/Odion has a tattoo on the right side of his face. (Again, this had nothing to do with him being a criminal; he did it to himself after Marik was given his tattoos to prove his loyalty to him.)
      • Played straight in 5D's, criminals are given facial scar-like tattoos when incarcerated, even for seemingly minor crimes. The tattoos double as a tracking device in case of repeat offenders.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Taken to its logical extreme with two supervillains known as the Tattooed Man (one of which was a Green Lantern foe in the Silver Age), both of whom have the ability to bring their many tattoos to life for villainous purposes. In a later story two of his tattoos — Kabuki Dan (a samurai) and Altara (a succubus) — come to life outside of his power and commit crimes of their own volition, making them the most literal possible expression of this trope: criminals who are tattoos.
    • Similar to the Tattooed Man, Batman villain Pyx has the ability to animate the tattoos that cover her body.
    • In All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, the Joker has a large tattoo of a red dragon on his back, suggesting possible Yakuza ties.
    • A very insignificant background character in Kingdom Come had the left side of her body covered in tattoos. The annotations refer to her as Signalwoman, in a nod to D-List Batman villain Signalman. The tattoos were meant to correspond with the symbols on his cape. Von Bach and Swastika are both very heavily tattooed; Von Bach's body is almost completely covered in ink, making him black as coal from head to toe except for the unmarked areas on his chest and arms. Swastika has an elaborate design of blocks tattooed on him in such a manner that his non-tattooed skin forms a swastika symbol.
    • King Snake from Robin (1993), the blind Evil Brit who murdered his way into a position of power among the gangs of Gotham's Chinatown, has a large snake tattooed on his chest.
    • El Diablo from the 2011 Suicide Squad series is a slumlord turned holy man with tats all over his upper body; the ones on his head in particular make it look like a skull. They have some vague connection to his Playing with Fire powers.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Daken from Wolverine sports a very prominent tribal tattoo on his left pectoral, trapezius, and arm, despite having inherited his dad's Healing Factor.
    • The Deacon from Ghost Rider has religious symbols and iconography tattooed all over his entire body, and true to form, he is a very devout... uh... Christianity-derived murderous evil cult member. He's also first encountered by the Ghost Rider in prison (long story).
    • The Red Skull from The Ultimates has these all over his body, including on his skinned face!
    • Young X-Men, the short-lived revamp of New X-Men: Academy X, features a group of minor villains named the Y-Men. They're white trash career criminals whose powers come from their tattoos, done by a mutant tattoo artist — for instance, the guy with a bomb on his hand has an explosive punch, while the guy with cheetah spots on his back has super speed. The Young X-Men member named Ink got his own powers from the same source.
    • In X-Men Noir, all of Xavier's original X-Men have an "X" tattooed somewhere on their body — and all of them are master criminals in the making. In the sequel, Mark of Cain, prisoners at Genosha Bay are marked with an "M" tattoo over their right eye. This is ostensibly to signify that they pose a "maximum" risk should they ever be transferred to another facility, but functionally, it serves as an automatic identifier should they manage to escape.
  • The Couriers: Mous, one of the two criminal protagonists, has large tribal tattoos on both shoulders. The other protagonist, Special, has a smaller one on her shoulder blade. Their former boss, Triad gangster Johnny Funwrecker, is heavily tattooed all over with a mixture of traditional Chinese and punk rock styles.
  • Saya Kuroki from Deadly Class is the heiress of the most powerful Yakuza syndicate of Japan. One of her main trademarks is the fact that her body is covered with Japanese tattoos widely used by Yakuza, known as Irezumi.
  • In Love and Rockets, Izzy Ortiz has a tattoo on her arm of the logo of the Widows, the female street gang she was a member of in her youth.
  • Akita Sagawa in Nikolai Dante is mistress of the Black Dragons and is covered in tattoos from her neck to her thighs. Since this is the 27th century, her tattoos change shape and colour depending on her mood.
  • Sin City has the occasional tattooed criminal with the most obvious example actually coming from a corrupt federal agent who had a big black tattoo of an eagle across his face.
  • Strangers in Paradise: "Parker Girls" (Darcy Parker's henchwomen) are all given a lily tattoo. If you're Darcy's "favorite toy" (read: Katchoo), she'll put it on your breast.
  • After Hun was brought into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage) from the 2003 cartoon, his stylized Dragon tattoo was made exponentially more elaborate, full of scales and covering his entire arm.
  • Thin Blue Line: When a bunch of anti-cop protestors have cornered Officer Maca and the mayor in their car and killed Sergeant Mack and Officer Mikkelson, a large bald man with snake tattoos approached them. The protestors try to explain how they're on his side, and when it seems like they've swayed him, he shoots the one who was talking to him in the head and demands the Mayor's wallet, which he hands over with no argument.

    Fan Works 
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero has Tsuruya's father Kenshiro and her bodyguard Kasai. Both of them belong to Yakuza.
  • Catwoman, an international jewel thief, has more of a "street" look to her in the Dusk to Dawn fan novels compared to the original comics, with tattoos as well as dyed purple hairstreaks. Her ink includes the kanji for "wind" on her upper right arm, the phrase "Vive ut Vivasnote " on her left forearm, a white rose circling her ankle, and "a crouching cat made of sharp swirls" across her shoulder blades.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney's Peter Pan, Hook sings:
    Hook: As a special offer for today,
    I'll tell you what I'll do
    All those who sign without delay
    will get a free tattoo...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cole from 12 Monkeys has two barcodes tattooed on his neck that reveal that he was convicted for violent crimes.
  • Barcode Tattoos are marks of prisoners in Alien³. This is one of the few remaining elements of William Gibson's version of the script.
  • Justin Timberlake's gangster in Alpha Dog is covered in Chinese characters. He probably doesn't realize that they declare a great love of ice skating, though.
  • The trope is combined with Embarrassing Tattoo in American History X: the protagonist has a huge swastika tattooed on his chest.
  • Toorop, the mercenary protagonist played by Vin Diesel in Babylon A.D..
  • Anatoli Knyazev, Lex Luthor's main henchman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has a distinctive tattoo on his neck.
  • Bill & Ted Face the Music: The Bill and Ted in prison are muscle-bound and covered in tattoos that say things like "Excellent" and "Heinous."
  • Black Wake: One of the two robbers in one scene has a torso covered in tattoos.
  • Blood Father: Most of the criminals in the film have them, due to being gang members. John easily identifies them being from various gangs as he's familiar with these from his time in prison (along with being a tattoo artist). The sicario sent by the cartel is the standout example, as his facial tattoos are very distinctive.
  • Corky from Bound sports a labrys, a symbol of lesbianism and feminine strength. She's a butch lesbian and ex-con.
  • Cain Hill: In one scene, you can see that Chester Lockhart, the killer who's been picking off the cast, has a scorpion tattoo on his right arm.
  • Max Cady in Cape Fear has his torso completely covered with tattoos of Bible verses, a broken heart, and a cross, among other things. To quote an officer seeing him shirtless, "I don't know whether to look at him or read him."
  • In Captives, Tim Roth plays a prisoner with tats.
  • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle has Seamus, the tattooed thug of The Irish Mob, the Psycho Ex-Boyfriend out to get Drew Barrymore's character, Dylan.
  • Johnny 23 in Con Air has an elaborate series of heart symbols tattooed on his right arm — one for each of the 23 counts of rape for which he was convicted. He claims that if law enforcement knew the truth he'd be Johnny 100.
  • Curse of the Zodiac features a killer with unexplained tattoos printed on the left side of his neck.
  • Den of Thieves: All of the bank robbery crew except Donnie sport prominent tattoos. So do most of the deputies, who are depicted as being little better than a gang themselves.
  • Diggstown: Prison boxer Torres is a tattooed felon with a fearsome reputation.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness: Seith, a ruthless assassin, has distinctive jagged black tattoos on his face and neck.
  • Operates as a Chekhov's Gun for Viggo Mortensen's character in Eastern Promises. It says something that while taking a break, he accidentally scared several Russian Immigrants into thinking he was the real McCoy.
  • Elysium: Max spent several years in prison and is on parole, and as we can see from his scenes in the beginning, is very inked out.
  • Faster. Driver has a tattoo on his forearm marking those people he killed in prison over the past ten years. A Badass Samoan takes one look and backs off, knowing full well the reputation of the man wearing it.
  • Fatal Instinct: Spoofed by Max Shady. His prison tattoos include quotes by Pee-Wee Herman and Bart Simpson, and mementos to remind him which of his hands is right or left.
  • In A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the drug dealer, loan shark, and pimp Saeed has both Latin and Arabic-script tattoos all over his body.
  • The bikers in Hell Ride. A small plot point comes from villain Billy Wings who has different color wings tattooed on him to mark sexual transgressions, including purple wings for "licking dead pussy".
  • HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami: The three gangsters Pablito owns money to have their faces heavily tattooed. At the end, they are beaten up by the Marsupilami and are smashed against a wall, leaving an imprint of their tattooed faces.
  • In Little Odessa Tim Roth plays a hitman for the Russian mob with his tattoos occasionally on display. The Russian mob is known for its use of meaningful tattoos.
  • Lost Girls and Love Hotels: Kazu, in keeping with the Yakuza tradition, is heavily tattooed all across his torso.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Ivan Vanko from Iron Man 2 is covered in Russian prison tattoos. Except those tattoos seem to indicate that he's a card sharp and did time for theft, disorderly conduct, and raping a minor, even though he was supposed to have been jailed for plutonium smuggling.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Drax never wears a shirt, showing off a muscular torso covered with elaborate scarification.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Mac Gargan has a noticeable tattoo of a scorpion on the left side of his neck.
    • Alexei Shostakov from Black Widow (2021) acquires a large number of tattoos during his time in a Russian prison. Like Vanko's, many of them are descriptions of his crimes, length of incarceration, and political stances. He also has more personal markings dedicated to Melina, Natasha, and Yelena showing that he really did love them even though their "family" was a cover story for spy work.
  • In the Live-Action Adaptation of Mr. Magoo, the art thief/seller Austin Cloquet is entertaining criminals from all over the world at his mansion. As they disrobe to go into a pool, the crooks start comparing tattoos. Then they take a look at the Yakuza whose entire body is completely covered in elaborate tattoos.
    American Crook: Not bad. What do they mean?
    Yakuza: Every time I kill a man... I tattoo his portrait on my body.
    Russian Crook: What do you do when you run out of room? Stop killing people? [laughs]
  • Subverted in The New Guy, in a prison yard scene where a heavily tattooed Henry Rollins is one of many shirtless men applying tattoos. When the prison guard comes up to him, he is forced to put on a shirt, revealing he is in fact the Warden.
  • The Night of the Hunter, the Trope Maker for Knuckle Tattoos featured a serial killer with LOVE and HATE tattooed on his knuckles.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Rusty has a tribal design on his left arm that extends onto his hand. It's usually covered up by the sleeves of his suit but the very ends still show. In Twelve he implies that he also has a tattoo referring to ex-girlfriend Isabel in a location that makes it difficult to remove.
  • Nig in Once Were Warriors. In an unusual but in-setting variation, his tattoos are a mixture of criminal gang markings and traditional Māori face markings, or ta moko.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean has plenty, including the trademark Sparrow tattoo on his arm.
  • Another serial killer, the titular Red Dragon (nicknamed "the Tooth Fairy" by the media) had a whole-back tattoo based on a William Blake painting of the eponymous dragon.
  • Lester has an Ace of Spades tattooed on his arm in Rounders, calling it the ace up his sleeve.
  • While it wasn't as obvious as the other examples, Tony Montana of Scarface (1983) has a tattoo on his hand showing that he was in prison.
  • Scarred: If you can catch a glimpse of the killer's arm, you'll see he has a tattoo on it.
  • The John Singleton "reboot' Shaft (2000) features a henchman with the imaginative name of Tattoo, whose distinctively tattooed hand proves to be a Chekhov's Gun
  • Shot Caller: Jacob acquires a large number of white supremacy tattoos during his prison sentence displaying his gang affiliations. Obviously, the same holds true for the other higher-ranked members.
  • Shuttle: When Andy is revealed to be The Mole, it's punctuated by him ripping his shirt open to show off his tattoos.
  • The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case: Small's partner the Tattooed Man escaped from prison with him. He has his entire body covered with tattoos to disguise his appearance and works as a tattooed man at the funfair.
  • Most of the gang members in Sin Nombre are heavily tattooed. L'il Mago, the leader of the gang, takes this up a notch, as seen here.
  • This marks the difference between the levels of criminals in Stiletto. The more street-level criminals, like the biker gangs and the Mexican cartels, all sport large numbers of tattoos. The members of vigil's organised crime family — even Psycho Party Member Lee — are all clean skins. Raina often comments on a criminal's ink before she kills them.
  • The Joker, El Diablo, and Harley Quinn in the DC Extended Universe's adaptation of Suicide Squad (2016) are all heavily tattooed.
  • In Superman Returns, Lois and her son are held hostage by a bald thug with a clown tattooed on his skull. He's the guy who gets squished by a piano.
    Chris Sims: I have always suspected that Luthor was down with the Dark Carnival, but now we know that he employs henchjuggalos.
  • Teen Wolf: The basketball coach, who apparently has a very sordid personal life, advises Michael J. Fox to never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body.
  • The skinheads in This Is England have homemade tattoos. At one point, they give Shaun one too, a cross on his left middle finger.
  • Transporter 2. Lola has a tattoo on her inner thigh labelled "Death by Rabbit" with a snarling rabbit wielding sixGunsAkimbo.
  • Tran, the 10-year-old drug kingpin from Tropic Thunder.
  • Like most Omegas in X-Men: The Last Stand, Kid Omega and Callisto have many tattoos.

  • Able Team. Carl Lyons is attacked by gangbangers and sees several of them have a teardrop tattoo which supposedly shows they've killed someone or done time, but he cynically notes that a lot of gangbangers wore them without having done either. Then their leader appears with two teardrop tattoos, and Lyons thinks he looks like someone who earned his the hard way.
  • Altered Carbon. Takeshi Kovacs is surprised to see criminals on Earth wearing barcodes as a gang tattoo, as on the world he grew up they have Unfortunate Implications of Indentured Servitude.
  • Web serial Barkwire features Doublewide, an inexplicably tattooed dog who runs a protection racket on the local Arby's.
  • Catwoman: Soulstealer: Selina and other Leopards get spot tattoos on their arms as a gang sign, with new spots each time they win fights. However, mostly she keeps them covered with long sleeves so they aren't recognized given the Leopards are known as a gang in Gotham and it could get Selina in trouble.
  • Many characters in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Put to use in Bar Brawls, an organised sport in Ankh Morpork, where contestants tattoo their names to all their limbs so The Igor knows to reattach them later.
    • Trolls being living rock, their equivalent is gang graffiti, or carvings if they're really tough.
      • Inverted by Detritus, who opted to have his watchman's badge carved into his arm to show his dedication to the service.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel, the Ghosts have tattoos. Aristocratic Guardsmen regard them as visual proof of the Ghosts' general uncouthness, along with their Wild Hair. But new Vergast Ghosts desperately want tattoos to show they are part of the regiment.
  • The Death Eaters' signet in Harry Potter.
  • Prisoners in ancient China were often tattooed with their sentences. This is a sore point for a character in Heroes of the Water Margin and he takes pains to get it removed.
  • The Illuminae Files features the House of Knives, who has tattoos in a similar fashion to The Mafiya to represent jail time. This includes Nik, one of the protagonists, though it doesn't include his cousin Ella, a Playful Hacker who is too talented to be caught.
  • A group of young skinheads make trouble at a mall in Jennifer Government, and are full of corporate logo tattoos.
  • Joe Pickett: Timber Cates in Endangered. He is covered in prison tattoos that his mother finds disgusting. These make him stand out when he attempts to pull a Janitor Impersonation Infiltration at the hospital.
  • A bizarre inversion in China Miéville's Kraken, where the crook is the tattoo.
  • Mainyu Mazda, a shady Middle Eastern black market dealer in the Left Behind books, tattoos himself and the victims he has killed with an M, and when Albie pays him a visit to discuss having the GC's meeting place in Al Hillah bugged for money, he is in the process of getting another M tattooed on himself, saying that sometimes he even gets them in advance.
    • The "crook" part comes when he promises Albie that he will have the job done as long as he has the money, and then decides not to do the job after all and keep the money all for himself when he murders Albie.
  • Karsa Orlong from Malazan Book of the Fallen has a broken-glass tattoo on his face that denotes his past as a slave.
  • "The Masked Breton" in Papillion, which would also make it a Real Life example. Escaping from the harsh prison camps, too late did he realize that the distinctive facial tattoo he got in prison made him extremely easy to identify and would prohibit him from living a normal life pretty much anywhere.
  • In Moby-Dick, Queequeg's tattoos are frequently used as a marker of his "savagery", although in this case, it's less to do with criminality than to do with culture - to him, they're actually a marker of his noble lineage (he is the son of a chief), but to the Americans, they make him look like a ferocious barbarian, and even as we get to know and like Queequeg, it's still very clear that he's a very dangerous man, and freely admits to having eaten people. The book was written when tattoos were just beginning to catch on in the west, and were still heavily associated with Polynesia.
  • The book of Peter Pan has Bill Jukes, every inch of him tattooed.
  • Polar Star. Former Moscow detective Arkady Renko encounters a crook he sent to The Gulag for murder who has the scars from when the prison doctors removed his tats. Arkardy points to an evident injury on the man's forehead and asks what he had up there. It was "Communism drinks the blood of the people". Arkardy is impressed that he could fit all that on his forehead.
    • In Red Square, the sequel to Polar Star (which is the sequel to Gorky Park), one of Renko's partners looks at a witness's tattoos and sounds off that each picture has a meaning, e.g. he's been to prison and is willing to murder and so on.
  • Count Olaf has a tattoo of an eye on his leg in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  • Ink members in Skate the Thief all have matching tattoos as a Group-Identifying Feature. This includes thieves as young as six, if Skate's personal history is anything to go by.
  • Snow Crash has some jurisdictions issuing tattoos to the convicted, giving the likely reason for their crimes as a warning to others. As such, they are always on the face. Hiro is threatened by one guy with "Racially Insensitive" and "Mood Swings", while Badass Biker Raven, who has a Nuclear Weapon as the sidecar of his bike, has one that reads "Poor Impulse Control" on his forehead.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Zigzagged. Slaves have a brand on their foreheads. When the bridgemen are freed, the scars are tattooed over with glyphs declaring them free men.
  • In Swords of Exodus Lorenzo witnesses a knife fight between a large, heavily muscled Mongol and a smaller, scruffier, and older Russian. Most of the spectators are betting on the Mongol to win but Lorenzo sees the Russian's fading tattoos and concludes that the Russian should win easily. The tattoos identify the Russian as a convicted murderer who killed more than a dozen people in prison knife fights.
  • Welcome To Wonderland: Sydney Sneemer from "Home Sweet Motel" has a crocodile tattoo on his neck, and was involved in a jewel heist in 1973.
  • In RWBY: Roman Holiday, Roman Torchwick is revealed to have once been a member of the Spiders gang, and has their signature tattoo on his left forearm. After ditching the Spiders to start his own criminal empire in Vale, he has the tattoo inked over with a new tattoo of his own symbol, a grinning jack-o-lantern.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jolin of Amish Mafia has several tattoos which is taboo in Mennonite culture.
  • Banshee:
    • The crime kingpin Kai Proctor has a crucifix tattooed on his back. The Ukrainian mobsters tend to wear nice suits but you can still see some of their tattoos on their hands and necks. In contrast, Lucas does not seem to have any tattoos even after spending 15 years in prison.
    • All the neo-Nazis in the Brotherhood have tattoos. Kurt Bunker quit the gang and has been trying to atone for his actions as a member but he still is covered with Nazi tattoos and cannot afford to have them removed. When he refuses an offer to rejoin the Brotherhood, his former comrades burn some of his tattoos off with a blowtorch.
  • Barry: Fuches is already a criminal, but on being released from prison in Season 4 he has many tattoos on his arms, torso and neck. This signals that he's grown more dangerous, as a hardened prison gang leader who's widely feared now with his own criminal syndicate outside as well.
  • Comes up occasionally in Burn Notice with Michael's narrations sometimes going into the symbology of a tattoo. Like how the prison tattoos on one Russian gangster show the crimes he was incarcerated for.
  • The Ha'la'tha gang in Caprica is made up of these. The elaborate tattoos all have specific meanings according to Word of God. Main character Sam Adama has markings that indicate his allegiance to the gang and his relationship with his husband.
  • On the Castle episode "Under the Gun", the murder victim was an ex-con who had stashed the jewels he stole in a Manhattan graveyard. After they failed to find anything, Castle glanced at the victim's photo and realized that the roman numeral tattoos on his arm were the key to finding the stolen loot.
  • A comedic version appears in Community with Joshua the gardener who has a similar tattoo to the American History X example above but excused away by him as the start of a maze.
  • A Criminal Minds episode has the BAU investigate a case involving The Mafiya, working alongside a police detective, who specializes in the Russian mob. At one point, an annoyed mobster rips open his shirt in front of Reid, so that the latter knows whom he's dealing with. Reid instantly deciphers all the tattoos on the guy's chest (having memorized them beforehand) and classifies the mobster as a "thief in law" (top of the mob food chain).
  • CSI: NY: One case in "Tanglewood" deals with a group of young mafiosos killing a guy who had taken an unauthorized version of their membership tattoo.
  • Deadly Class: Saya has the Yakuza tattoos of her family across her body. In the future, she plans to join in full, though so far she's not a member.
  • Dexter:
    • Dexter found his biological father after he died, and noticed he had a prison tattoo, a spider web on the elbow.
    • The hitman for a Latino street gang has a large bicep tattoo of a heart, with blood drops under it, each representing one victim. Dexter observes him as he takes a new drop.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Third Doctor (or at least his actor) had a snake tattoo on his arm, due to the actor having one. Because it first appeared on screen after he was exiled to Earth, Fanon and Expanded Universe media says it was a prison tattoo.
    • Companion Turlough had a triangle-shaped tattoo-like scar on his arm. In his last storyline, "Planet of Fire", he revealed to the Doctor that he was an escaped political prisoner, and the scar was a prison mark. At the end of the arc, a police officer from his home planet informed him that the regime that had imprisoned him was overthrown and that Turlough and his family were pardoned, so he was free to return to his world.
    • "Rosa": The antagonist, Krasko, has a tattoo on his left wrist identifying him as a former inmate of the Stormcage Containment Facility.
  • Game of Thrones: Volantis has a variant where slaves are given face tattoos to identify them as such. Quite the Mood Whiplash when one sees them on the show's many prostitutes. There was also a Red Priestess with such a tattoo, implying quite the backstory.
  • Gang Related: Most gangsters on the show have tattoos related to their memberships in different criminal organizations. Javier has them all over his entire torso, as shown in "La Luz Verde".
  • Good Girls: The trio of Beth, Annie, and Ruby rob more money than they expected from Annie's workplace, money that turns out to belong to a local gang led by Rio. Rio and all his underlings sport pretty elaborate ink.
  • On Haven, Duke is certainly an example of this trope, not to mention making those tattoos look really good. Duke is leery of other people sporting tattoos, however, since there is a prophecy claiming that a tattooed man will kill him.
  • When amnesiac Peter Petrelli from Heroes joins The Irish Mob for a few episodes in Season 2, he gets the gang tattoo (a Celtic knot) which at one point transforms into the RNA helix and back.
  • In Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Goren has been known to identify what prisons a criminal has served time in by identifying their prison ink. One episode had him being puzzled by a tattoo on a body until he discovered the victim had entered the U.S. from Canada. A Canadian contact was able to identify what prison the victim had been in after seeing a photo of the tattoo.
  • Law & Order: Organized Crime: Unusually, a gang of dirty cops all have these, from a police code used as a call sign for them. Stabler gets it while infiltrating them.
  • Subverted in an episode of Luther, where an American kidnapper with a tattoo covering his entire face is seen wiping it off in the next scene, as it's meant to distract attention from his real features.
  • In the Midnight Caller episode "Life Without Possibility," one of the convicts has the name "Rosa" on his fingers, a marijuana leaf on his neck, and some other tattoos on his arms that are harder to see.
  • Mindhunter: true to life, Manson has some old prison ink on his forearms and his infamous forehead Swastika. Richard Speck sports a crude "Born to Raise Hell" text on his arm, which is discussed as a part of his descent into his criminal persona.
  • The Murders:
    • One of the bank robbers in "Heist" sports tattoos.
    • In "Queen of Hearts" a woman also has prison tattoos. As a result, the cops think that her boyfriend's murder might have been gang-related at first.
  • My Name Is Earl:
  • Nip/Tuck: Colombian drug kingpin Escobar Gallardo has extensive tattoos, as well as almost everyone else portrayed by Robert Lasardo, who in Real Life has tattoos all over his arms, neck, and chest.
  • Many of the inmates in Oz are heavily tattooed, especially the bikers. Also, for the purpose of making the intro, the show's producer had the crew film him getting the logo tattooed on him.
  • The Power (2023): The Carpathian gangsters whom Tunde meets have many tattoos.
  • Prison Break, Michael's whole-body blueprint tattoo. This is a subversion, in that he got the tattoos before he became a criminal, precisely so he COULD go to jail.
  • Ripper Street: In "In My Protection", The Fagin Carmichael is covered with a multitude of tattoos, each one of which represents a specific crime he has committed. His gang of kids have similar tattoos.
  • In Shameless (US), Mickey Milkovich has tattoos on his arms and fingers, having been in and out of prison over the series.
  • Cook's dad in Skins has a teardrop tattoo under his left eye, suggesting he's been to jail.
  • Smallville:
    • "Kinetic" has a gang of burglars terrorizing the town thanks to their Power Tattoos, which are made with ink mixed with Green Rocks and allow them to pass through walls.
    • In "Arrival", Phantom Zone prisoner Aethyr has the House of Zod crest tattooed on her lower back.
    • In "Vengeance", the gangster Snake has a tattoo of a snake on part of his face and neck.
    • "Combat" features Phantom Zone prisoner Titan who is covered with Kryptonian tattoos.
  • Ever-present with the bikers in Sons of Anarchy, including the intro sequence, and a plot point, when an ex-member hasn't covered up the gang name in his large back piece, and it's burned off by the members. Samcro hitman Happy also has several smiley face tattoos around his abdomen marking his victims.
  • Supernatural:
    • The Jinn look like heavily tattooed people with blue flames coming out of their hands.
    • In "The Executioner's Song" (S10, E14), the convicted serial killer has a tattoo of barbed wire and a bull on his arm.
  • Tom, in the recent BBC remake of the series Survivors, is turfed out of the ex-minister's community for being a convict, entirely on the basis of a prison tattoo.
  • S.W.A.T. (2017): In "Never Again" the robbers each sport a tattoo in Hebrew on their chest saying "Never Again". Deacon and Chris note it's odd as they're Jews but tattooing isn't allowed in Judaism and even will get you excluded from a Jewish traditional cemetery, but they clearly didn't care. Since it denoted a vow which they made against their parents' murderers, this isn't too surprising.note 
  • On Teen Wolf, even though he's not actually a criminal, Derek has a triskelion tattoo between his shoulder blades.
  • Two and a Half Men: In the episode "Paint It, Pierce It or Plug It", Jake brings home a woman named Tammy who has tattoos and mentions having an ankle bracelet.
  • The works of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel / Firefly):
    • There is a very strong tendency in Joss Whedon works for characters with visible tattoos or other body modifications to be villainous and/or highly self-destructive. The most notable examples are Faith, Angelus (it's also there when he's Angel), and the Reavers, but many more minor characters follow the pattern. The only exceptions are Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter's real lower-back tattoo, which they initially made token efforts to hide before deciding that she looked sufficiently sexy in low-waisted clothes to outweigh the metaphorical issues) and Kennedy.
    • In the Expanded Universe for Buffy we find out that Faith's was entirely against her will, as it was put there by being possessed by a dead Greek Slayer. It's the Mark of Kakistos, the very mutated vamp that killed her Watcher. You'd think she'd want something with such connections to one of the biggest losses of her life to be removed. Then again, she might see it as a "taking it from you and using it against you" thing.
    • In Angel, the villainous lawyer Lindsey returns in Season 5 with a set of tattoos that serve a plot purpose: they ward him from all forms of magical detection, thus protecting him from the wrath of the Senior Partners, who don't approve of his extracurricular activities.
    • We can't forget Giles and Ethan's Mark of Eyghon, which is not just a demon-cult tattoo but an Artifact of Death in itself. Ethan later removes his, though.

  • The song "Blue Wing" has a convict getting the title tattoo in prison, possibly as a symbol of the freedom he's never found in life.
  • The song "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", made famous by Groucho Marx, is based on the association between tattoos and "loose" women.
    For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,
    With a view of Niagara that nobody has,
    And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz -
    You can learn a lot from Lydia!
  • Inverted in the song "You Ain't Bout That Life" by Waka Flocka Flame (who is both a member of Bloods and very heavily tattooed himself) when talking about the unnamed subject of his diss.
    You ain't bout that life
    Just because his body full of ink, tattoos in his face I can still tell that
    You ain't bout that life
  • "Timebomb" by Rancid is about a juvenile delinquent who dies a young man.
    Tears come from the razor that's been tattooed below his eye
    His mother cries, she knows that he is strong enough to die
    He's rollin' in the Cadillac, it's midnight, sunroof is down
    Three shots rung out the hero's dead, the new king is crowned

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Konnan had two by his neck during his Gang Banger gimmicks, though even then he usually covers them up.
  • Antonio Banks, who was a former crook but found a more positive outlet for his aggression(wrestling).

    Video Games 
  • Anarchy Reigns got the Rin Sisters, Asian assassins with a tattooed leg, a tattooed arm, and a tattooed back.
  • Aperture Desk Job: The player character gets a tattoo of a dragon holding a knife during their 18-month prison sentence.
  • Batman: Arkham City:
    • The Abramovici Brothers have tattoos representing their affiliations. Hammer has a massive church tattoo on his chest (a common Russian criminal tattoo), while Sickle has a pair of stylized penguins on either pectoral.
    • Harley Quinn has some tattoos in this iteration. She sports two of them with playing card versions of Joker wreathed in roses on her left hip and wrapped around her right forearm. And she's still as crazy and murderous as ever.
  • The Tsoo in City of Heroes gain their ever so annoying powers from magical ink in their tattoos.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: V, who is a mercenary, can have full body tattoos if the player so desires during creating their character.
  • Not as elaborate as some of these examples, but during the bonus game in Dark Tales: The Raven, the body in the morgue turns out to have a Raven Society tattoo on his upper chest.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, casteless dwarves are forced to have their faces tattooed so to set them apart from regular dwarven citizens. Since casteless dwarfs have no rights in dwarven society and cannot work legally, every one of them is either a thug working for the local crime syndicate or a beggar.
  • Bambi "Buck" Hughes of Far Cry 3 is an Australian mercenary who wears the tattoo of a stag head over his bared chest. Somewhat appropriate, since he's a Serial Rapist of other men, and stags are known to be quite violent when it's breeding season.
  • Reika the Tattooed Priestess in Fatal Frame III has deep blue tattoos all over her body, which ensures that there's not much naughty detail to see despite being topless while adding to her terrifying presence. In the selfsame game, those who are claimed by the Tattooed Curse and become hostile ghosts will have tattoos all over as well.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, the Assassin of Shinjuku has an elaborate torso and sleeve of thorny roses, and in that storyline has indeed hired himself out to the Yakuza.
  • Gaius of Fire Emblem: Awakening has what's all but stated to be a prison brand on his left arm, which he covers with a black band. When the Avatar accidentally sees it when s/he walks into him when he's bathing, Gaius is so upset that he tries to bribe them to get them to stay quiet. Even after the Avatar repeatedly reassures him that s/he won't tell.
  • Some of the Grand Theft Auto games make it possible for the player character to get tattoos.
  • 47 from Hitman.
  • All the members of the Mizo gang in Jak X: Combat Racing have the same flame tattoo on their right wrists.
  • Octopus-themed tattoos are very common in Bilgewater, the pirate town of League of Legends. This is especially obvious in Legends of Runeterra card art, which has a lot of minor characters covered in ink.
  • Francis of Left 4 Dead seems to enjoy stealing things, and also pretending to be "The cops".
    • Ellis in Left 4 Dead 2 mentions at one point that his friend Keith got a tattoo on his forehead - of the words "I'm A Moron". He won a $200 dare as a result. Keith may or may not be a criminal, but if Ellis is to be believed, he's done a lot of questionable things.
  • The Like a Dragon series naturally features many characters with irezumi back tattoos and some with sleeve tattoos. The series protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu, has a full-back tattoo of a silver dragon that's shown whenever he takes his shirt off for a final boss throwdown. Fan-favorite Goro Majima has a Hannya face on his back.
    • The tattoos are highly symbolic as well. Kiryu's enemies tend to either invoke Tiger Versus Dragon (Against Shimano or Saejima) or Legendary Carp (Against Nishikiyama or Aizawa). Majima's mask, on the other hand, is indicative of his hiding his true personality behind "the Mad Dog".
    • Yakuza 0:
      • Notably, Kiryu's dragon tattoo is unfinished in this game, symbolizing that he hasn't yet become the Dragon of Dojima.
      • The 3 Dojima Lieutenants have their own irezumi that are symbolic in Kiryu's 1988 adventure. Daisaku Kuze has Judge Enma, signifying the 5 trials (read: fights) that Kiryu goes through, Hiroki Awano has Momotaro, a Japanese folk hero who slays demons, and he faces off against Majima, who has a hannya, a demon of sorts. Finally, there's Keiji Shibusawa, who has a green Dragon irezumi, and also refers to himself as Dragon of Dojima.
      • The heavily-tattooed ex-hitman Wen Hai Lee. He's searching for the man who kidnapped Makoto and sold her into slavery, with the only real clue to his identity being the distinctive bat tattoo on his left forearm. Every member of Oda's old street gang, including Tachibana, had a bat tattoo, but Oda's the only one responsible for selling Makoto.
    • In Yakuza 3, Yoshitaka Mine has the Kirin, a creature claimed to only appear in the presence of wise and benevolent leaders, clearly alluding to his Undying Loyalty to Daigo Dojima. Kirin are also stated to be the only creature capable of killing a dragon. Except for Kiryu. You basically can't beat him, let alone actually kill him, no matter how strong you are. Unless you're Saejima, but that dream is still far.
    • Yakuza 4 has Majima's Lieutenant Daisaku Minami, who combines the traditional irezumi with wacky Western-style tattoos, like a snake slithering around a skull on his back, and the word "HONOR" in Gothic font on his belly, showing his balls-off-the-walls personality.
    • Averted and Discussed in Yakuza 6 with Takumi Someya who lacks the Irezumi, having a disdain against them entirely to show how far from the Good Old Ways the Yakuza has fallen, much to Kiryu's shock.
    • Lost Judgment: The Kaito Files has Shusuke Kenmochi, who sports tribal tattoos.
  • In Love & Pies, Benny Benson, a low-ranking criminal, has a snake tattoo on the left side of his neck.
  • Mass Effect 2.
    • Jack. Kidnapping, murder, arson, theft of military craft ("Parades are boring. I helped."), destruction of a space station, and vandalism...of a moon. With the space station.
    • DLC character Zaeed also displays Fashionable Asymmetry with his right arm partially bare to show off a series of tattoos.
    • Turian society inverts this — most turians you meet wear facepaint to identify what colony they're from. "Barefaced" turians are considered untrustworthy and, true to form, the only barefaced guys you meet are the main villain of the first game and a Prison Ship-running slave trader trying to pass himself off as a hero.
  • In a pre-mission cutscene in Modern Warfare 2 we get a glimpse of the tattoos the Russian ultra-nationalists that attack the airport sport. This includes a church on the abdomen, a popular Russian prison tattoo ("Church is the home of God, the prison is the home of the criminal")
  • As of later entries in the Mortal Kombat series, Johnny Cage has his name across his chest. A shining example of the Rule-Abiding Rebel type — he's an actor and the Butt-Monkey of the series.
  • Ronan O'Connor, the protagonist of Murdered: Soul Suspect, spent his formative years committing various crimes and getting tattoos to commemorate them.
  • Kenzo Satake of Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, as a yakuza boss, has a full-back tattoo.
  • The Saints Row franchise lets you give The Playa/The Boss tattoos. There's also Maero, the heavily-tattooed leader of the Brotherhood in Saints Row 2.
  • Pretty much every Triad-affiliated character in Sleeping Dogs.
    • The main character has a sneaky one. The tattoo on his right arm is a depiction of the deity Guan Yu, who is venerated as the protector of all things requiring badassitude and loyalty, and is a favored god among both the Triads and the police.
  • Vega from Street Fighter II has a snake tattoo on his back, meant to invoke Yakuza imagery.
  • The notorious fighting game Tattoo Assassins (so bad the playtesters refused to touch it!).
  • In Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, you have to get a large tattoo of a spider on your chest in order to join the nefarious Black Widowz gang.
  • Georgie Porgie in The Wolf Among Us has numerous tattoos on his body and face.
  • The first boss of X-Kaliber 2097 is a mutant actually named Tattoo who carries a large sword and can thrust vines out of his rose tattoo.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Vernal has a tattoo on her left arm of a phoenix rising from flowers towards the crescent moon. She's a member of the Branwen Tribe, which is a band of thieves and murderers that has been known to hit villages and then leave them vulnerable to subsequent Grimm attacks as a result of the negative energy their attacks create. When the tribe captures Weiss, she is thrilled to have the chance to ransom Weiss off to her father.
    • Lil' Miss Malachite, a crime boss of the Mistral underworld, runs a criminal organization with a spider motif. The organization's spider-in-web sigil, aside from being used to mark affiliated buildings, also serves as a gang tattoo. Every single person who works for her organization has the same tattoo somewhere on their body, with Lil' Miss herself wearing hers on her left shoulder.


    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Something that Vi and Jinx share as adults are their prominent tattoos; Vi's signature VI tattoo on her right cheek as well as her arms, back, and neck, while Jinx's are in her right arm and the right side of her abdomen. Then there's Silco's unnamed Giant Mook and chemlord Finn, who are also covered in tattoos.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The assassin Combustion Man has a Third Eye tattoo.
    • Inverted with the Air Nomads. Their tattoos are a sign of mastering Airbending. They are known for being the gentlest, most spiritual nation in the world.
    • In a straight example, Avatar Kyoshi's tie-in novel reveals that her mother Jesa was a rogue Airbender. She met Kyoshi's bandit Earthbender father and ran off with him and started a gang. She turned her arrows into snakes.
    • Subverted with the prisoners from "Avatar Day". They look menacing at first, but it turns out, they're really sensitive and kind. Considering the village's "justice" system, they could very well be innocent people.
    • Also subverted with the Boulder, who makes a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Played with in regards to Jun, the morally ambiguous Bounty Hunter.
    • Sequel Series The Legend of Korra plays it seemingly straight with Red Lotus operatives P'Li (who takes Combustion Man's schtick up a notch and has similar inkwork) and Ghazan (who, according to Word of God, is inked up just for Rule of Cool).
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • The ninja thief Kyodai-Ken has a huge tattoo of a Japanese demon's head on his back.
    • In another episode, Scarface's Dumb Muscle henchman Rhino had a tattoo (of a rhino's head, naturally) on his arm that was not very obvious at all, but Batman was still able to use this feature to identify him from a security camera and discover who he was working for. (Note that this was Scarface's first appearance in the series.)
  • The Stalker in Batman Beyond has tribal tattoos all over his body, though in this case it's implied to be part of his attempt to go back to the roots of his trade.
  • Todd Ianuzzi from Beavis and Butt-Head has a tattoo on his right bicep of a flaming skull wearing an eye patch clutching a knife between its teeth with a message around it reading "Life Sucks."
  • The white and black skull marking on the Ben 10 villain Hex's face was stated to be a tattoo in Ben 10: Omniverse. Ironically, though, in Omniverse, he's reformed and has become something of an Embarrassing Tattoo for him as it made things difficult for him to get an honest job and only got his current job as a professor because he donated all of his collection to the university.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Cape Feare", we see Sideshow Bob's prison tattoos, including "DIE BART DIE" ("Oh, it's German, 'The Bart, The'"), as well as his Knuckle Tattoos LUV and HĀT, referencing The Night of the Hunter.
    • Also, recurring petty crook Snake has a tattoo reflecting his moniker on his right arm.
    • "Tattoo Annie" in Springfield Women's jail has a Mad Magazine fold-out page tattooed on her back, reading "What kind of slime would I marry?" folding into "What, me worry?"
    • There's a Season 27 Couch Gag that makes a parody of Miami Vice and Knight Rider with Ned Flanders portrayed as the villain. While working out in prison, he's shown with several tattoos, one of which is his catchphrase "Hi-diddly-ho, neighborino!" while most of the others are christianism symbols.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), several members of the Purple Dragons gang sport the gang's trademark dragon as a tattoo. Their leader, Hun, sports the dragon tattoo along his left arm and wore a tattoo of the Foot insignia on his left. Another member had a purple dragon tattooed on his face, and not surprisingly, everyone called him "Dragon Face."
  • Lockdown from Transformers: Animated has large black decals on both his robot and car mode that resemble tattoos. This is also true with Movie Starscream.
  • The Monarch, in a direct reference to Red Dragon, has a full back tattoo of a minotaur at one point in The Venture Bros.. It turns out he was just trying to get his villain on again and used it to intimidate a prostitute; it late came off in the shower.


Video Example(s):



When David goes to Rebecca's apartment to deliver Pilar a cybernetic arm, he gets a full face of Rebecca's gun, along with the sight of her wearing nothing but a black bra and panties, along with her tattoos. All he gets for it is Pilar flipping him off...and Rebecca paying him the money. Upon seeing how happy he is with the payment, Rebecca calls David adorable and tries to flirt with him, showing she has a softer side underneath her violent, swear-happy demeanor.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ShamelessFanserviceGirl

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