The List: Top 10 tattoos in movies and television

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From the May 3, 2012 edition

With Hell City in town this weekend, we’re counting down some of the most memorable tats in movies and television.

10. Max Cady in “Cape Fear”

The opening of Martin Scorsese’s “Cape Fear” introduces us to Max Cady (Robert De Niro), and just by seeing his tats (and workout regimen) the audience is completely creeped out by him … before Max has spoken a word.

9. The MacManus Brothers in “Boondock Saints”

Connor rocks “Veritas” (truth) and Murphy “Aequitas” (justice), proving their mission to eliminate evil from this world is executed with the utmost sincerity. Plus, it looks pretty badass. Who would’ve thought Catholicism could be badass?

8. Snake Plissken in “Escape from New York”/Snake Jailbird from “The Simpsons”

Two of our favorite namesake tattoos, the “Simpsons” crook has his on his arm, while Plissken’s is, er, emerging from his beltline.

7. Darth Maul in “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace”

Maybe the only thing George Lucas got right in the prequel trilogy, Darth Maul was a baddie covered from head to toe in red and black tats. Of course, Lucas promptly killed him off.

6. Pete’s Petunia in “The Adventures of Pete & Pete”

Technically the show was really the adventures of Pete & Pete and Petunia. How did a kid wind up with a large tattoo of a woman with a large derriere? No one knows, but more importantly, what kind of parents name both their sons Pete?

5. Quint’s removed tattoo scar in “Jaws”

Best absence-of-tattoo story ever, as the grizzled Quint reveals why he removed his tattoo from his days in the Navy. Hint: It involves a shipwreck and lots and lots of sharks.

4. Nikolai Luzhin in “Eastern Promises”

Nikolai’s (Viggo Mortensen) tattoos are not only intimidating, but symbolic of the lengths his character had to go to infiltrate the Russian mob. You can’t get some of that ink unless you spend time in a Russian prison — the only place worse than Gary, Indiana.

3. Roommate’s “Mexican drinking worm” tattoo in “Bridesmaids”

When Kristen Wiig’s terrible roommate Brynn gets offered a free tattoo from a guy in a van, she’d be a fool to say no. She’d be an even bigger fool not to get a “Mexican drinking worm” that goes from back to belly. After all, “it’s like a Native American symbol meaning ‘wasted.’”

2. Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Piercings and a much larger (dragon) tattoo peeking out of a shirt say, “I see you looking at me. Don’t look at me!” For the damaged and withdrawn Lisbeth, she really means, “Don’t look at me!”

1. Leonard Shelby in “Memento”

So you know how you write stuff like “Pick up milk” on a Post-It note so you don’t forget? When you have Shelby’s strange memory condition, you have to improvise. The hero of Christopher Nolan’s backwards classic gets the important stuff in ink — much of it in reverse for better mirror viewing.