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Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,

And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day".
Henry V, William Shakespeare

A scene (usually 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 Fan Service 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.

See also Good Scars, Evil Scars, Scars Are Forever, and Covered with Scars. Related to Every Scar Has a Story.


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...

Comic Books

  • Has happened multiple times with Bruce (Batman) Wayne.

Fanfic

  • 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.

Film

  • 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.
  • The above scene was spoofed in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 when Destiny shows off her various cosmetic surgery mishaps in comparison to Colt's over-the-top war wounds.
  • A very similar scene also takes place in The Return of Swamp Thing, except it's between a pair of male and female mercenaries both in the employ of the Mad Scientist Big Bad.
  • 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 Rock N Rolla two Russian mobsters compare their scars while waiting in the car. Culminating with the tougher one presenting a scar he claims to be left by the tank track.

Literature

  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Able Team. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "The Harsh Light of Day" Parker examines the scar on Buffy's neck that Angel gave her; Buffy isn't adverse to the attention. Likewise in "Buffy vs. Dracula" the Count slips into Buffy's bedroom and compels her to pull back her hair to reveal the scar.
  • 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.

Video Games

  • Gender-inverted in Ever 17, when Tsugumi shows her many scars to Takeshi during their gondola ride. Then they make love.
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