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Zorro Mark

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A character makes an impression by cutting, burning, blasting, or otherwise leaving a symbol on the clothes, wall, or person of their nemesis. Thankfully (for them), they never have to deal with paying for the damage they just inflicted.

One common variation is an homage to the Trope Namer Zorro, who uses a rapier to slice cuts into clothing that form the shape of his Calling Card. While this would be perfect plausible with a sword designed for slashes like a scimitar, the sword actually used, the rapier, is less than ideal, being designed for thrusting attacks.

A Sub-Trope of Calling Card. If this is done with an open flame, it's a Flaming Emblem. If etched into the person's skin, it's A Scar to Remember. Compare Mark of Shame.


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  • Corny Snaps was a Kellogg's breakfast cereal created in 1975 featuring Snappy the Turtle, a Zorro-like character, with mask, sword and steed, who delivered his corny-oats "S" shaped cereal to the masses, while carving his trademark "S" as he went.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Naganegiman from Anpanman, who is a parody of Zorro, slashes an "N" on Baikinman's UFO and robots, which will cause them to short out and break their casing, leaving only the machine components.
  • Bubblegum Crisis: The Knight Sabers usually leave their name burned into the concrete after taking out a rogue Boomer. Nene's suit actually has a laser for which this is the only real use (it's not much of a weapon).
  • Cutey Honey Flash gives Cutey Honey the Honey Lightning Flare Finishing Move, which carves a large script "F" in her enemy before they explode.
  • In Dragon Half, Mink's father Royce's signature technique carved an "R" on his enemies. Dick Saucer's carved an "S" (Which one opponent thought was a "5").
  • Count Red's Crew from Isabelle of Paris are basically if Zorro and Batman met Robin Hood. After they burgle the jewels of the wealthy French aristocrats at a ball, they leave a card with red bats as a signature. They leave the card again after rescuing Isabelle from Panza.
  • La Seine No Hoshi does this with red carnations.
  • Voltes V does this with his signature move, where he carves a big "V" into the enemy, who promptly explodes.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Asterix comic book album Asterix and Caesar's Gift, Asterix duels with a Roman and makes the iconic Z mark on his tunic, all the while exchanging half-assed quips, in the best Zorro tradition.
  • Batman, being a Zorro fanboy, does this on occasion.
    • During Batman: No Man's Land, he spray-paints his symbol on the walls of areas of Gotham he's liberated from his Rogues Gallery. It should be noted that this is standard practice for every group in NML, to mark their territory.
    • In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, he uses the sharp edge of a batarang to carve a Zorro-style Z on Lex Luthor's face.
    • He and Robin also spray explosive gel on walls and floors in the shape of their symbols in the Arkham series.
    • Batman foe Anarky typically leaves the anarchy symbol painted on the wall at the scene of his crimes.
    • The Cavalier, appearing in a 5-page back-up story in The Batman Adventures #1, is portrayed as cross between Robin Hood and Zorro, in stealing from those he perceives rich and slashing his sword in that person's clothes.
    • When Harley Quinn messes up Batman's origin in Multiversity: Harley Screws Up the DCU, she disrupts the showing of The Mark of Zorro (1940) by slashing a Z into everything she can and inadvertently prevents Bruce Wayne from being orphaned by slashing up Joe Chill's groin before he has a chance to shoot Thomas and Martha Wayne.
  • In his early tales, Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, would often lay out a villain with a left haymaker that'd leave, at least temporarily, the imprint of his ring on their cheek.
  • Lobster Johnson, from the Hellboy 'verse, burns his Claw of Justice on the foreheads of those he kills.
  • A short Lucky Luke story features a Zorro parody whose mark is an "X" instead of a "Z" because he can't read or write.
  • Spider-Man: Kaine uses his wall-sticking powers on your face and pulls his hand away, resulting in the disfiguring "Mark of Kaine." Yeeowch. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the person he's doing this to is typically already dead.
  • Suske en Wiske: In De Raap van Rubens (Rubens' pupil) Lambik travels back in time to meet Peter Paul Rubens, the famous 17th-century painter. He decides to have a duel with painter Anthony Van Dyck where they fight using their paint brushes. Lambik then paints a Z on Van Dyck's bare chest and says: You don't know him [Zorro], do you? You might learn about him in school, when you're older!
  • Wonder Woman did this with her bracelets during the JMS retool, as a way of letting her enemies know she's getting closer.
  • X (Dark Horse Comics), of Dark Horse's Comics' Greatest World, uses an X mark.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side shows that Zorro had a younger brother named Gomez, whose habit of slashing cursive capital "G"s wasn't so catchy (and possibly fatal since he's seen practicing on a bull).
  • The cover of Knights of the Dinner Table #26 "The Mask of El Ravager" show what happens when the Knights attempt this stunt.
  • The Phantom and his skull ring. This was busted, as far as application through direct force was concerned, on MythBusters, although they didn't take into account indention through other means, such as the ring on the Phantom's left hand, that he uses to leave a "Good Mark" on those he protects. According to the new Dynamite The Last Phantom series the mark is caused by an allergic reaction from berries that the signets of the rings are dabbed with, creating an indelible tattoo. Another official explanation that has been offered is that the ring actually has a lot of tiny needles.

    Fan Works 
  • In Cheerilee's Garden, Cheerilee carves the word "Weed" into Apple Bloom's chest.
  • The Secret Life of the Backyard Kids: Jorge does this a couple times on Tiffany, and when he destroys his dad's car, he does this on the seat of his car.
  • In the Georgia Gaiden of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, the Serial Killer known as "The Reaper" carves a distinctive symbol into the corpses of his victims. It turns out to be based on the badges he gives out in his day job as a gym leader.
  • This Bites!: Rather appropriately, Zoro's Three-Sword Style Burst: Five-Sense Ravager technique does this by etching the Straw Hat's Jolly Roger into a target.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, the Witch of the Waste sends Howl a "scorching love note" via Sophie, which falls on the breakfast table when Howl touches it and burns a scorch mark on the table. However, the permanent marking is averted when Howl proceeds to declare the mark "not good for the table" and wipes it away with his bare hand.
  • Shrek:
    • Puss in Boots homages this in Shrek 2 by slashing a "P" in a tree. Actor Allusion too, considering his voice actor is Antonio Banderas, who also played Zorro.
    • In Shrek the Third, during the final confrontation between Shrek and company vs. Charming and his minions, Donkey, who's inhabiting Puss' body and vice versa, uses the sword to carve a "D" for Donkey onto Pinocchio's butt.
    • In Shrek the Halls, Puss tells a story in which he portrays Santa Claus. In it, he slashes an "S" on a wall with his claws.
    • In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: Early on, Puss carves a giant P on the governor's shirt during a bar brawl. He also draws another P on the ground after defeating the Giant during his 7th demise.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman brands his symbol into the skin of a criminal he takes down. A news report later notes that this significantly shortens the life expectancy of the criminals he does this to, as other criminals tend to single out these people in jail for violent treatment. Batman nearly does this to Lex Luthor at the end, but he changes his mind and instead decides to punch a bat-shaped hole in the wall behind Luthor.
  • In Cartouche, at one point while robbing a palace with his gang, the titular bandit draws a "C" on a mirror with a candle.
  • Daredevil (2003). The police officially deny the existence of a masked vigilante called Daredevil because they are worried about Heroic Wannabe copycats. The reporter they are staying this to tosses his cigarette aside, where it ignites a Double-D symbol written on the ground in oil.
  • In Inglourious Basterds, the Basterds carve swastikas into the foreheads of any Nazis they let live. "We like our Nazis in uniform. That way we can spot 'em just like that. We're gonna give you something you can't take off."
  • The Punisher makes a Zorro mark out of the skull on the shirt he wears. It was the shirt his son gave him before his family was brutally murdered by Howard Saint. When Saint is finally defeated, the explosions are arranged to form the Punisher's skull out of flame.
  • Surf Ninjas contains a deliberate homage to Zorro when Johnny concludes his duel with Zatch by slicing a "Z" into his tunic, to demonstrate his natural finesse with a sword.
  • In the 2005 film adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel V for Vendetta, the masked, black-clad protagonist, overtly identified with the imagery of Guy Fawkes, carves his "V" symbol in Zorro-like style.
  • In Takashi Miike's Zebraman, the eponymous hero carves a Z into a giant, gelatinous alien's forehead.
  • Zorro:
    • The Mark of Zorro, the 1920 silent film in which Douglas Fairbanks slices the Z into his enemy's forehead.
    • The 1940 remake with Tyrone Power features Zorro carving the Z into an evil sergeant's back, as well as into several walls.
    • In The Bold Caballero, as in all Zorro stories, Zorro carves a "Z" on the flesh of his targets. The Commandante carves one on the Governor's body to frame Zorro for his murder.
    • The Mask of Zorro, naturally. Alejandro Murrieta, the new boy, puts his own spin on it, cutting an "M" into the cheek of the man who murdered his brother.
    • Of course, parodied in Zorro, the Gay Blade; the main character does this with a whip. And not just a "Z" either, the whole name. Also, the first time Zorro makes this mark with a blade, a witness mistakes it for the number 2.

  • The Gray Seal left behind stickers.
  • Comes up in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy of all places, when Zaphod explains that someone pulled a Memory Gambit on him with brain surgery and left their initials burned into his brain. They were Zaphod's own initials: He set the whole Zany Scheme that drives the plot of the first two books himself, for reasons that even he doesn't understand anymore.
  • Kissin' Kate Barlow from Holes applied lipstick and kissed the men she killed.
  • In Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy, Capricorn's men always hang a dead rooster in the razed ruins of the buildings they destroy.
  • To make a point about his restored sapience during Journey to Chaos, Nolien carves an "N" into the outer coat of a naysaying diplomat with his new unicorn horn. It demonstrates his control over his transformation and the ability for precision.
  • Rashel Jordan, from the Night World series, leaves three claw marks on the foreheads of vampires that she's slayed.
  • The Penetrator, Mark Hardin, left behind blue arrowheads.
  • The Saint leaves behind haloed stick figures.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, Springheeled Jack made the sign of the "S".
  • Pulp magazine hero The Spider used to leave a red-ink "spider" impression (known as the Spider's Seal) on the foreheads of the criminals he slew.
  • In Maria V. Snyder's Study Trilogy, the Ixian master assassin Valek leaves a carved statue of an animal for his next victim to find when he's about to kill them.
  • One Eye in Warrior Cats leaves an eye-shaped wound on his subjects' paw pads as his mark, and he also scratches the mark into trees to claim territory that was once Clear Sky's.
  • Zorro, of course, is the Trope Namer. It should be noted that in the original works, it doubled as a Mark of Shame — Zorro cut his mark into the flesh of the evildoers he defeated. The common people would recognize the Z scar as a sign that Zorro had judged them and then refuse to do business with them. Such people would then have to leave the area if they wanted to find people who were willing to sell them food.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 3rd series of UK comedy sketch show Alexei Sayles Stuff had a title sequence that was a parody of Zorro ("This fat renegade carves a 'B' with his blade, a 'B' that stands for 'Bastard'")
  • In the Breakout Kings episode "Steaks", Villain of the Week Oliver brands his initials on to two of his victims.
  • In the last anime training video for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, The good captain "leaves a message" in the side of Castle Volcania starts at about 6:50.
  • In the Castle episode "Heroes & Villains", the vigilante Lone Justice carves an "L" into the butt cheek of a mobster with a sword.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of El Chavo del ocho. El Chavo was so dirty that he was leaving hand marks imprinted all over on everything he touched. At one point, it actually saved Don Ramón from Doña Florinda's usual slap, as he proved that El Chavo was the one who hit Quico by showing her a water can with the hand mark on it.
    "Look here! El Chavo's mark!"
  • Eureka: In a dream sequence, Zorro-style hero Douglas Fargo slices an "F" into the dress of fair maiden Jo Lupo.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In Kamen Rider 555, the multiple Riders' Finishing Moves leave behind their symbol with a line going through them that disappears after a few seconds, the most memorable one,Faiz, has a circle with a line going through its middle to reference the Greek letter Phi.
    • The titular Rider of Kamen Rider Kiva has his sigil forming out of his Rider Kick (Darkness Moon Break) in any solid surface the hapless Monster of the Week happens to be in (be it a wall, floor or the street). The Movie even has him plastering the Big Bad (of the movie at least) and forming his sigil as a giant crater on the moon which, fortunately dissipated immediately.
  • The 1999 Taiwanese TV series, "Liao Tian-ding of Taiwan" (based on the IRL hero - not to be confused with the video game based on the same person) features the titular hero slashing his surname Zorro-style on the screen in the opening titles, while wearing a Zorro-like mask no less. Instead of a Z though, he cuts the word ("ding").
  • MacGyver1985: "R.I.P. " blowtorched onto the main character's house's wall is an excellent clue to the villain's identity. You could forget the guy's voice and never see his face and you'd still always recognize Murdoc.
  • Clark Kent in Smallville started doing this with his (not yet) famous \S/. The practice was mocked by Green Arrow in "Rabid", who thought Clark was being egotistical. "What does the 'S' stand for, 'Superstar'?"
  • Some heroes of the Ultra Series, especially if their names are derived from the English alphabet:
    • Ultraman Victory, the second Ultra hero of Ultraman Ginga favours using swords as melee weapons, notably the Shepherdon Sabre and the Knight Timber. When using these weapons, he'll land a glowing "V"-shaped slash on enemies, which either explodes or fall apart into three pieces... and then explodes.
    • Ultraman Z would occasionally incorporate a "Z" motif in his attacks, notably when he uses the Z Lance Arrow which leaves a burning Z-shaped slash on monsters before they explode.
      • Z in Delta Rise Claw always performs a Z-shaped slash when performing the Deathcium Slash with the Beliarok.
  • Used as a title reference in the original V TV miniseries, when a Holocaust survivor shows some taggers how to spray-paint a V ("For Victory") on one of the aliens' propaganda-posters. The practice spreads, becoming a symbol of La Résistance.
  • Naturally, Disney's live-action Zorro series had this in spades, as did the 1990s series version.
    Theme song: This bold renegade carves a "Z" with his blade ... A Z that stands for ZORRO!

  • The Green Hornet carried seals which he used to mark his presence when it suited his purposes, such as on documents at crime scenes, on the bodies of criminals he captured and left for the police to find, etc. Occasionally facsimiles of the Hornet's seal were used by criminals in attempts to pin the blame for their deeds on the Green Hornet. It never worked. Carried over into movie serial, television, and comic book adaptations of the property.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In 7th Sea, with the right sword schools, you get a skill knack for doing just that.
  • GURPS:
    • The Initial Carving technique features in GURPS Martial Arts.
    • The trope is parodied with the Zorro-like character in the Discworld Roleplaying Game spaghetti western setting "A Fistful of Tunes You Can Whistle," who has the name Don Gaveroz de Varozag de la Lala, "El Aguila del Cubo". He keeps attempting to carve all his intitals on his opponents, but since his code of honor prevents him from continuing to attack someone who is clearly about to collapse from blood loss, he seldom gets very far with it.

    Video Games 
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals, the American Particle Beam Cannon can not only be set to hit a single point, you can also designate a second point that the beam will move towards. And you can build multiple cannons. It's one thing to say "Fuck you" to an enemy over chat, and quite another to burn it into their base. Best colossal waste of taxpayers money ever.
  • In the climax of Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, Freddy carves an Rx into the clothing of the Big Bad, Penelope Primm.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Your Ring-enhanced domination abilities allow you to Shame an orc by mind raping them with wraithfire so hard it leaves physical burn marks over their faces. This is as horrifying and mentally damaging as it sounds. Expect to do it often For the Evulz.
  • Slap City: Masked Ruby can spell a letter "R" with his sword in Air Strong attack.
  • Sly Cooper: The titular character leaves his calling card behind in the scenes of crime.

    Web Animation 
  • In Super-Showdown-Bowl!, Zorro himself actually tries to scratch a "Z" over the Oscar being's buttocks, but to no avail. He retaliates by carving an "O" into the hero's chest, yet another Ironic Death.

    Web Comics 
  • Dominic Deegan's father has a habit of doing this. At one point, he actually gets into trouble.
  • In The Elaborate Art of Play a security team tracks "the hostile" by seeking the distinctive round holes it burns through bulkheads. Timing these, from signals such as temperature, reveals the bad-guy's path through their ship. And they track its target by cataloging his characteristic petty vandalism, and the speech patterns he introduced into the ship's populace.
  • Sonichu:
    • Darkbind does this once in his first appearance.
    • Chris does this with a Devil Troll in the "last" issue.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures Of Lariat Sam had Badlands Meeney's minion Bushwhack quit from being a minion and becoming "Zero," painting zeroes all over Bent Saddle.
  • One episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog tells the story of the cast's Identical Ancestors in the Old West. Eustace's ancestor was a bandit named The Whip who was quite proficient with his weapon of choice, even leaving a Zorro-style "W" on the clothing of his victims.
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode "The Mark of Xero", Dodgers-as-Xero leaves "X"s behind him.
    The mark that stands for Xero is his claim to fame,
    Because he can't even spell his own name.
  • Futurama plays this one straight, in a session of Let's You and Him Fight Zoidberg carves a Z on Fry's shirt, and then he adds Dr. above it.
  • One episode of Justice League has Green Lantern John Stewart punching Despero so hard it leaves the lantern imprint. On his third eye.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Speedy leaves "S" behind after his cheese thefts in "Queso Bandito".
  • Popeye spins a tale to Olive's niece Deezil about a daredevil hero that uses his sword to brandish the integer zero on villains' clothing.
  • There is a serial on the animated cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show that features a mysterious character called "The Mark of Zero". His trademark is stamping the numeral 0 in unexpected places. For example, the score late in a baseball game is 9 to 1. The "Mark of Zero" changes this to 10 to 9 — to everyone's amazement. At the story's conclusion, his talent for stamping "zero" is put to good use as he becomes the scorekeeper for the New York Mets major league baseball team, at that time the symbol of futility in that sport.
  • In an animated segment on Sesame Street, Cowboy X stamped X's all over town, to the frustration of all the townsfolk. His reign of annoyance finally ended when a small boy asked him nicely to stop. At which point, he changed his name to Cowboy O, stamping O's all over town, and the people were just fine with that.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons entitled "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)", the Simpsons go to the movies to see The Poke of Zorro. In it, Zorro fights The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, unseen ninjas and challenges The Scarlet Pimpernel to a duel. Inspired by Zorro, Homer defends Marge, challenging Snake to a duel by slapping him with a glove. Victorious, Homer marks Marge's dress with an "H" scrawled out in ketchup.
  • The Smurfs: In the episode "Don Smurfo", during Smurfette's dream sequence, her storybook hero, Don Smurfo carves a facial image of himself on a window frame after saving her from Gargamel.
  • Star Wars Rebels: When she strikes, Sabine, the Mandalorian weapons and explosive expert of the Rebels, leaves a phoenix-symbol at their bombing-sights, as a graffiti on the walls, or on the helmets/armor of stormtroopers she's taken out. Sometimes the graffiti she leaves behind is a bomb, sprayed with combustible materials.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! does this in their own parody with Mario taking the role of "Zero", leaving zeroes on his enemies shirts with his plumber's snake. Luigi, taking the role of "Zero Plus One", was very pleased when he managed to pull one off.

    Real Life 
  • Bill Bryson has mentioned being inspired to try and learn this skill by the Zorro serials he watched as a kid. He and a friend tried to imitate it with a steak knife but gave up after they kept cutting each other's chests. (This was before the days of Don't Try This at Home messages.)
  • An American surgeon whose mental issues, suspected to be a form of early-onset Alzheimers, had gone largely unnoticed, demonstrated such pride in the neatness of his stitching an abdominal incision that he autographed it, carving his initials on the hapless patient with a scalpel. Dr Alan Zarkin has since been struck off the professional register and his patient successfully sued for damages.
  • An as-yet-un-named British doctor was investigated and suspended from practice for doing the same to the internal organs of his surgical patients. With a laser. Authorities fear he made a habit of this and there are potentially hundreds of people walking around with monogrammed livers.


Video Example(s):


Amelie as Zorro

In an Imagine Spot, Amelie sees herself as Zorro leaving a Z mark on Collignon's apartment door.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ZorroMark

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