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Sometimes in works of fiction, a special form of Foreshadowing is used that is overt in a way that even the characters can see: something happens to someone that makes him or her a sure target for being killed off in the near future. Typically the mark of death is not fatal in a Truth in Television-type way; it does not refer to a potentially terminal illness or a life-threatening injury. The "mark", in this case, refers to a signal, either physically attached to the victim or separate, visible or invisible, that denotes that the character's time is limited.

Depending on the nature of the mark, the characters may or may not be aware of their impending doom. Physical blemishes, brandings, and other things applied directly to his or her body or clothing may seem perfectly innocuous, unless the character happens to be sufficiently Genre Savvy. The mark may also appear elsewhere, allowing it serve as a form of Dramatic Irony for the benefit of the audience. Prophetic dreams and visions may also serve as a "mark" of sorts, if it specifically claims that a character will soon die.

See also: Secret Stab Wound, Incurable Cough of Death, and Kiss of Death. Compare You Are Already Dead.

Needs a Better Description

Examples of Marked to Die include:

Anime & Manga

  • In the animated version of Ginga Densetsu Weed any time a character has their ear bitten off, it's a pretty sure sign their death is coming up pretty soon.
  • Agent Demetri Noh.
  • In the Astro City mini-series, The Dark Ages, a character is marked for death by the vigilante Blue Knight by the appearance of a crosshairs on the back of his neck.


  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, a character was marked with a literal black spot on his hand in the second film.
  • The creatures in the horror movie They mark their victims with a dime-sized sore that houses a long, thin bone. This mark is used to track their victims down when the creatures are ready to eat.

Live-Action TV

  • In a third season episode of Criminal Minds, the victims all appear on "Have You Seen Me" posters before they disappear.
  • In Doctor Who's "The Curse of the Black Spot", anyone whose blood is drawn on the pirate ship has a black spot appear on their arm, and is promptly lured in and then disintegrated by a siren. It's subverted in the end: the "siren" is an advanced medical hologram, and the disintegration actually teleports them into a spaceship's sickbay.


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