You can't see the tattoo in this picture, but it's there. Lurking.

Rooney Mara’s backpiece in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (now playing) is certainly some impressive ink (even if it is fake). And it places her among the best tattooed characters in cinema.

Francis Dolarhyde
The backpiece sported by Ralph Fiennes in 2002’s “Red Dragon” gets extra points for being based on etchings by artist-poet William Blake. Literature AND pain, together at last.

Max Cady
The worksmanship of the tats adorning Robert De Niro’s psycho character in “Cape Fear” leaves something to be desired. He probably got them in prison, and it shows. Which really only ups the creepy in this 1991 thriller.

Leonard Shelby
Guy Pearce’s skin art in 2000’s “Memento” isn’t just for show — it’s full of hints that help the amnesiac figure out who killed his wife. And you thought that tulip on your ankle was meaningful.

Snake Plissken
In 1981’s “Escape From New York,” Kurt Russell plays a guy named Snake, who has a snake tattooed on his tummy. Which is a little literal, frankly. Was he worried he’d forget his own nickname?

Nikolai Luzhin
Plenty of people get tats to highlight their heritage. In 2007’s “Eastern Promises,” Viggo Mortensen’s mobster opted for Moscow landmark St. Basil’s Cathedral on his back. Domes have never looked so menacing.