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Michael has it surgically removed in the beginning of Season 4 in order to prevent people from recognizing him.
In Season 5, Michael has new tattoos on his arms, and on the front and back of his hands.
His chest features an image of a demon slaying an angel and contains blueprints of the prison's underground tunnels and passageways. His back has the angel killing the demon. His left arm has images of the demons, and the right has images of angels, as well as numerous clues and reminders.
Behind the Scenes
Designed by Tom Berg and created by Tinsley Transfers, the tattoo is featured extensively in the first season of the show. The part of the tattoo that is situated on the front of Michael Scofield, contains the blueprints of the underground passageways of the prison, while on the back, a bird's-eye view of the prison is incorporated into the tattoo. Although Berg was aware that visual effects will be used to highlight the prison blueprints in the tattoo, the contours and lines of the tattoo were drawn to resemble the map as much as possible. As the episodes come about, Berg is contacted to create various specific designs for the particular episode. The full tattoo is made up of several separate transfers which are then pieced together on the actor's upper body. Once the area of the skin (where the tattoo will be applied) is cleaned with rubbing alcohol, a series of decals are placed on the skin and the paper is then peeled off. After this, the pieces are stuck to the skin via glue and water-proof sealant, before finishing with paint in the filler parts. Overall, the process takes four to five hours and does not include the time to remove the temporary tattoo, which takes about 45 minutes. When the entire tattoo does not need to be shown, for example, in scenes where the actor is wearing a T-shirt, only the forearm pieces of the tattoo are applied. If the tattoos were to be permanently applied, it would be time-consuming and would have taken much longer than the time taken by the protagonist in the series. It should be noted that in the title sequence of Season 1, Dominic Purcell's name can be seen on the tattoo as his name appears on the screen.
- Prison Layout on his back. (1x1)
- Blueprints of the underground passageways of the prison on the front. (1x1)
- Allen Schweitzer 11121147 is on his forearm, indicating the model of a screw needed to unscrew the cell's toilet to allow access to the interior layout of the prison. (1x2)
- A small hexagon is the dot on the "i" of "Schweitzer". It is to check if the screw's end was filed down properly to fit the bolt. (1x2)
- CUTE POISON is the chemical formula, 3H2SO4(aq) + Ca3(PO4)2(aq) + 6H2O(l) ↔ 2H3PO4(aq) + 3CaSO4(aq)·2H2O(l), to produce phosphoric acid to dissolve the metal sewage cover. (1x4)
- English Fitz Percy are the names of the three streets leading them out of the prison. (1x5)
- Image of a devil's face to plot the drilling holes in Riots, Drills and the Devil Part 1. (1x6)
- Playing cards with numbers "1 312 909 3529" shows the phone number of Nika Volek. (1x10)
- Coffin with a cross to hint how to make his brother feel sick to avoid the execution. (1x13)
- Ripe Chance Woods is actually "R.I.P. E. Chance Woods". In the cemetery, there was a grave for E. Chance Woods where buried clothes, keys to a car and fake passports were buried. This was the first tattoo deciphered by Agent Alexander Mahone. (2x1)
- Barcode 38 12 1037 has several meanings. 38 refers to Illinois Route 38, 12 indicates the miles they need to reach the bridge while 1037 refers to the radio frequency 103.7, the one needed to activate the bomb for faking the brothers' death at the bridge. (2x03)
- Bolshoi Booze is a mirror image of the numbers which form the coordinate 32°0′09″N, 104°57′09″W. (2x11)
- A flower represented the Apache Desert Ghost exhibit, where the nitroglycerin was hidden. (2x9)
- 617 indicates the password for a combination lock. (2x20
- A picture of Christ in a rose means Christina Rose, Michael's mother and the boat in Panama. (2x20)
- Greek letters were originally on the design, but were left out during the real tattoo. They refer to the steps of escaping, for example, Alpha meaning step one (Allen Schweitzer 11121147), and Omega meaning the last step (Christina Rose). (2x20)
A quote from Napoleon, "Never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake," is also encoded.
The back of Michael's hands are the face of Jacob Anton Ness, which can be recognized by ocular surveillance.