Think Before You Ink: Hilarious Tattoo Fails

By Jake SchroederLast Updated Apr 18, 2020 9:26:27 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: @epictattoofails/Twitter

Thinking of getting a tattoo? Before you join the ranks of permanently inked people everywhere, take a minute to learn what not to do. This collection of bad tattoos will show you just how incredibly wrong your longed for trip to the tattoo parlor could go.

From the dreaded face tattoo to the many dangers of discount tattoo artists, you better think before you ink to avoid hilariously bad tattoo fails that could turn you into the next viral meme. Take a look below for some laughs and to learn how to avoid tattoo disasters before you commit.

The Misspelled Tat: The Mother of All Tattoo Sins

When it comes to tattoos, the most important thing to remember is that you're basically purchasing an accessory you will wear every day for the rest of your life. Not intimidating at all, right? Here, you have a woman who failed to recognize the importance of spelling in her lifelong decision.

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Photo Courtesy: @Lindsey_J0nes/Twitter

Her forearm tat reads: "Don't let the past, make you're dicisions, four today." So, that’s three misspellings and two unnecessary commas. She can either spend the rest of her life dodging the grammar police or move to a remote island where no one speaks English.

The Joke That Never Ends

If you've recently found more of your hair ending up in the drain than on your head, then the temptation to plunge headlong into a midlife crisis is understandable. Perhaps you're thinking about spending less time at the office and more time doing all those unchecked items on your bucket list.

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Photo Courtesy: @whitepanther309/Twitter

It’s a valid plan, but if a tattoo is on your bucket list, it should always be approached with caution. This guy's tattoo on his balding head is guaranteed to produce chuckles wherever he goes. It’s also pretty much guaranteed to make people look at his bald head. This could be awesome if you're standing behind him in a tedious checkout line, but can you imagine sitting behind him at a funeral?

Choose Lyrics from Songs You Actually Know

Ah yes, the infamous lyric tattoo. Many tattoo-loving folks out there have been so inspired by a particular song that they decide to officially make it a part of themselves. While this could be an inspired idea — totally depends on the song, of course — these tats should only come from songs you actually know. If you go the extra mile and include the singer’s name, make sure you actually know who sings it.

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Photo Courtesy: @WyattVW/Twitter

This fan's Bon Jovi lyric went more than a little wrong when he accidentally invented a new artist. Who is this Jon Bovi, and why does he stutter mid-lyric? Such are the questions this guy will be forced to endure from anyone who gets a look at this gem first hand.

World's Worst Portrait Artist

When it comes to tattoo themes, some people are easier to please than others. Some enjoy rocking tribal tattoos that give them a bit of an edge, while others prefer simple names, dates or images. Of course, there are always those who prefer to put a bit more thought into their tattoos by selecting designs that are incredibly personal to them.

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Photo Courtesy: @RodM02/Twitter

So what could go wrong when you have a shaky tattoo parlor apprentice ornamenting your skin with portraits of your children? See for yourself. If you decide to go with an elaborate, detailed design, the importance of not cutting corners on price and holding out for the best can’t be emphasized enough.

Approach Food Tattoos with Caution

If you've discovered a superfood that's proven to be the secret to helping you get the body you've always dreamed of, then feel free to share the news with friends. Telling the world about your love of kale isn't a bad thing, but rest assured that your friends won’t need a handy visual aid on your body to believe it.

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Photo Courtesy: @GodFadr/Twitter

This guy may be kale's most loyal fan — he has to be, right? — but the sight of his tattoo definitely leaves you thinking his enthusiasm may have gone a tad too far. You may be what you eat, but that doesn't mean you should also tattoo it on your skin.

People of Walmart: Behold Your King

Okay, you may really appreciate the efforts of Sam Walton in bringing affordably priced goods to people everywhere, but this guy proves that a tattoo isn’t the best way to announce your gratitude. This ill-planned ink is just creepy and takes the slang term "tramp stamp" to a whole other level.

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Photo Courtesy: @MergeLeft/Twitter

Generally speaking, if you're going to tattoo the name of a business on your body, you should consider a couple of important questions. First, are you getting paid insane amounts of money by the corporation to become a piece of walking advertising? Second, if the answer to the first question is no, then why would you ever carry out such a plan?

Holy Moly

Okay, you can obviously see the humor in this one. Having been stalked by this head mole for longer than he cares to admit — like since the days he had hair — this guy finally decided to take matters into his own... head, so to speak. On the one hand, you have to admire his sense of humor.

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Photo Courtesy: @Exavierpope/Twitter

On the other, this tattoo just makes people want to ask annoying questions that shouldn’t go unanswered. Has he had that thing checked out by a doctor? Wouldn't it have been cheaper to let a doctor remove it? After all, if removing it becomes mandatory, this whimsical ball player will never make sense again.

I Shall Call Him Mini-Me

In the annals of tattoo history, many people have used various body quirks as parts of tattoos. Take the last guy, for instance. That mole slamming Air Jordan is the stuff of unfortunate tattoo legend. Then, you have guys like this who just do things that seem to defy all logic.

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Photo Courtesy: @nick_kapur/Twitter

Apparently, his own head was good enough to use as part of the piece, but then he seemed to feel the need to freak people out by pairing it with a tiny version of his own body. It's unclear whether the mini-him is driving a race car or working out on a weight machine. Realistically, that's the least of the questions most people will ask.

When Poetry Isn’t Your Strong Suit

When selecting a tattoo subject, many people turn to their passions. Perhaps you want to give a shout out to your favorite basketball team or add a caricature of a beloved pet. As Dave illustrates above, if you want to celebrate a talent, it's important to make sure you actually have that talent before looking for a tattoo artist.

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Photo Courtesy: @maseifried/Twitter

Take poetry, for example. Maybe you aren't likely to win a Pulitzer for your rhyming skills, but you should still have some basic writing talent before cementing your words in ink. If all else fails, whip out your phone and Google the words of someone more poetic than yourself. On a positive note, at least Dave spelled all the words right.

Never Lose Hoop

On second thought, never mind. Abandon all "hoop," ye who enter here. While it’s nice to think this person ultimately found some confidence, it definitely didn’t happen because of this inspirational tattoo gone horribly wrong. What can you learn from this blunder?

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Photo Courtesy: @LanaDelRaquaza/Twitter

Inspirational sayings have great potential as lifelong reminders of important messages — as long as you get it right. This particular display may be a cautionary tale on the importance of traveling to a tattoo parlor under the supervision of a designated driver. Hopefully, a sober friend could point out everything from spelling mistakes to problems with the wording. You can thank your loyal friend later for helping you avoid a messed up saying emblazoned on your body forever.

Eyes in the Back of His Head

Every move you make, every step you take, this creepy tattoo will be watching you. Whether it started out as this guy's idea of a joke or it was a seriously misguided creative endeavor, things have clearly gotten out of hand for this double-faced gentleman.

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Photo Courtesy: @TopBanter07/Twitter

Does the fact that this thing has its own mustache and eyebrows make it funnier — or just far more disturbing? That’s for each horrified bystander to decide. As funny as this man may think he is, karma will undoubtedly bite him someday in the form of a horrified child who has the misfortune of sitting behind him on a bus or airplane.

Put It to the Face Swap Challenge

The mystery of how so many bad tattoos have made their way onto people's skin is only made more mysterious by the fact that most tattoo artists sketch their creations before ever picking up a needle. Many even use transfer paper to show a client exactly what the tattoo will look like on their skin before doing anything permanent.

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Photo Courtesy: @wisetuna/Twitter

If you're considering a portrait tattoo, be sure to use face swap to see how your portrait tattoo stacks up against the actual subject. This simple hack could potentially reveal the horror of a bad decision. If the swap gives you bad dreams — like the image above — you’ll be grateful you tried it first.

A-List Celebrity Ink Fail

There's certainly nothing wrong with searching for bargains to save a few dollars — on most things. One-ply toilet paper and discount cleaning supplies, for instance, can be worthwhile purchases. Permanent body art that needs to age gracefully with your body is not the time to cheap out.

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Photo Courtesy: @rockmebaby/Twitter

As this unfortunate Jim Morrison fan can confirm, getting what you paid for could be a huge problem when what you paid for was a cheap tattoo. Rather than spring for the first guy on Craigslist who wants to try out his new tattoo gun on your bicep, take your time and shop around for an artist who can prove some real talent with real reviews.

The Dark Side of Permanent Makeup

All the makeup-wearing ladies out there fully understand the allure of waking up every single day with their makeup already in place. Think about how great it would be to never have to apply your makeup in your rearview mirror while running late to work ever again.

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Photo Courtesy: @epictattoofails/Twitter

These days, permanent tattoo makeup seems to offer a handy solution for women on the go, but as enchanting as it may sound, this option isn’t without its dangers. Don't let a permanently bad brow job happen to you! Be sure to do your research before taking the plunge on a makeup job you can’t remove.

Christopher Walken-Stein

The odds are good that when Christopher Walken posed for this photo, he had no idea that some fan out there would someday capitalize on the creepy look of alarm. As far as what inspired this terrifying tat, maybe this guy couldn't decide between his love of Walken's work and his love of Frankenstein's monster.

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Photo Courtesy: @HaleyAwesome/Twitter

Perhaps he decided to kill two birds with one incredibly unfortunate stone. Or maybe he realized things had gone wrong midway through the tattoo and simply decided to ride the tattoo train into utter oblivion. Either way, the talented Mr. Walken has definitely seen better — and far less green — days.

Time to BBQ

Everyone makes mistakes, including celebrities. Singer Ariana Grande got inked with a tattoo inspired by one of her hits, “7 rings.” Unfortunately, the beautiful tattoo was misspelled. Fans who saw Grande’s tattoo instantly Googled it and found that the symbols meant Shichirin. 

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Photo Courtesy: Ariana Grande/YouTube and HollyScoop/YouTube

Instead of translating to “7 rings,” her Japanese tattoo meant a Japanese barbecue grill. Many social media users made jokes about the error. In response, Grande tried to fix the tattoo. However, the new tattoo translated to Japanese BBQ grill finger.

You're Welcome?

Unsure what to get your mom for Mother's Day? If you want to get her a gift she's sure to love, then look no further than literally anything but this. Although this kid's sentiment is admirable — and Mom tattoos are popular — it’s likely his mom would have been far more thrilled to see him devote more time to learning how to spell before going for permanent ink.

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Photo Courtesy: @troyesivan/Twitter

If you simply must immortalize your mother in the form of a tattoo, maybe you should just stick with an old school heart with "Mom" written across it. It’s a classic — and most moms aren’t biker chicks, anyway — and it’s safe to say someone at the tattoo parlor can nail the correct spelling, even if you can't.

Substance Is Just As Important As Quality

If you're looking for an explanation for this questionable arm art, you've come to the wrong place. It’s doubtful anyone could find a McDonald's meal so mind-blowingly delicious they want to commemorate it — in receipt form, no less — for all time. Not to mention that if you take a close look at the receipt tat, you can see this gentleman was clearly overcharged.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter

Perhaps it was his outrage over being charged $25.00 for a single cheeseburger that inspired him to share his experience with everyone he ever shakes hands with again. You will probably never solve this mystery, but it's safe to say this disgruntled customer should have chosen to simply laminate the offending receipt.

You Sure About That?

Okay, kids, it's time to talk about the dangers of underaged inking. If you’re still too young to legally get a tattoo, it’s tempting to think you've struck gold when your friend tells you his cousin knows a guy who will do it in secret.

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Photo Courtesy: 2SteelGirls/Twitter

While letting a less than reputable tattoo artist work on your skin may make you feel like a rock star ahead of your time, just imagine trying to rock that crappy tat at the bar when you're 25. Be advised that lack of artistic talent and poor spelling skills certainly won’t do you any favors in the future.

Realism: Nailin' It

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Photo Courtesy: @_youhadonejob1/Tw</a>i<a href="">tter

As bad as this call of the wild tattoo may be, at least the wolf looks appropriately horrified at its own existence. This tattoo provides not one, but two tattoo mysteries. First, no one on the internet has ever been able to figure out exactly what part of this person's body is on display. (If it’s the front, where is the belly button? If it’s the rear, where is the crack?)


Second, how could someone have endured a session as long as this without noticing things were not going as planned? While you may never know the answer to this riddle, you can pay attention to the warning to think before you ink to avoid this type of disaster.

The Dreaded Face Tattoo

When it comes to selecting the best part of your body to have tattooed, your options are plentiful. Many men enjoy infusing a bit of ruggedness into their appearance with bicep tattoos, while many women prefer back, shoulder and arm tattoos for their new ink.

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Photo Courtesy: @GlobalFlare/Twitter

Then there are those who insist the face is the most visible part of the body — and therefore the best canvas — for displaying their love of Star Wars to the world. If you fall into this category, you may have some soul searching to do. Few potential employers are likely to jump at hiring someone who will greet customers, clients and coworkers with a dual face featuring Darth Vadar. (And what’s with the roses behind Darth, by the way?)

The Prehhhhcious

Ever see a tattoo that forces you to think about life's deeper questions? Well, this appears to be one of them, but for all the wrong reasons. Out of all the characters in The Lord of the Rings movies, who selects Golam when it's time to get a tattoo?

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Photo Courtesy: @Tattoo_Bombs/Twitter

Although there's something to be said for rooting for the underdog, anyone who ever volunteers to give this guy a back massage will likely run screaming into the night as soon as they realize exactly what his back looks like. If only it were as easy as giving this little guy the dreaded ring so he would disappear. The only credit here goes to the tattoo artist, who actually nailed the detail.

The C-Section from Hell

Actually, many people who have undergone surgeries or c-sections have chosen to cover their scars with festive tattoos, but this one seems to have missed the point entirely. Rather than artfully cover up an old scar to make it more appealing, this tat seems to have taken the shape of a year-round Halloween costume.

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Photo Courtesy: @Tattoo_Bombs/Twitter

Before outfitting your body with such a monstrous scene, take at least a few minutes to look through all the other tattoo ideas in the parlor. Repeat as necessary until you no longer think your demon baby portrait is a good idea — or until the parlor does you the favor of closing and saving you from disaster.

World's Worst Wrestling Tattoo

What exactly happened here? Even the wrestling world is at a loss to say. Clearly, a fan contracted a case of Wrestle-Mania that refused to be ignored. While this could transform into a fairly impressive back tattoo if done by a skilled artist, it seems that this guy's zest for following the world's greatest wrestlers did not translate into an ability to find a top-notch tattoo artist.

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Photo Courtesy: @Face_Cal/Twitter

While the lettering turned out okay, all the people portrayed in the tattoo have good reason to hunt the artist down and subjecting him to a body slam — if they're even wrestlers, of course. The one on the left looks suspiciously like Harley Quinn.

The Little Dinosaur Who Couldn't

This tattoo's history is unknown, but it sure brings to mind a few possibilities worth considering. First of all, it may be a testament to the fact that no matter how proud you are of your kid's drawing skills, your refrigerator makes a better display backdrop than your body.

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Photo Courtesy: @Terrible_Tats/Twitter

Alternatively, it could very well be a lesson on the importance of never losing a bet to one of your evil-minded friends when a tattoo is involved. Whether this poor little creature is a really depressed dinosaur or an inbred Pokemon of some sort, this person can only hope the tat is able to evolve with the help of a cover-up artist someday.

What’s Your Angle?

Oh, boy. Another mom tattoo attempt bites the dust. Apparently, this guy has to hope his mom doesn’t realize he misspelled "angel." Of course, it’s always possible — but not likely — that his mom is a geometry teacher, and this is all just a clever math pun.

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Photo Courtesy: @Pigfarmink/Twitter

Before you have words of any sort tattooed onto your skin, it's important to triple-check every single detail. It can’t be overemphasized enough that if you don't bother to spell check your tattoo, you are sure to meet plenty of people who won’t be able to resist the urge to point out your mistakes.

So Much Not to Love

Here’s an interesting tale that appears to tell itself. You'll note that while the bird outlines are complete in all their unartistic glory, the artist seems to have been interrupted midway through coloring the birds. At this point, it’s a good guess that one of two things happened.

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Photo Courtesy: @TattooRegs2013/Twitter

Either the subject didn’t have the funds to complete the tattoo in full all at once — always a bad idea — or pain brought the session to an abrupt end before the tattoo was finished. Either way, these unfortunate little lovebirds don't appear to be exactly what the customer probably had in mind. They certainly don’t inspire tranquility and glad tidings.

Break-Up Begging to Happen

If you're a teenage boy who is still attempting to figure out the mysterious ways of women, rest assured that graphic art like this doesn’t tend to be the way to a lady's heart. Although most women tend to be fans of commitment somewhere down the line, a Mona Lisa-like arm portrait — especially at a young age — is not likely to inspire her to take the plunge.

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Photo Courtesy: @raubrey/Twitter

Unfortunately for this young Romeo, the odds that this young lady will ever want to be seen in public with his uncovered arm again are slim to none. Maybe stick to boxes of chocolates, sincere compliments and behaviors and save yourself years of tattoo removal fees — and pain.

Badly Drawn Benjamins

If you're the type who wants to proclaim your wealth — or love of money — to the world via a tattoo, then it's important to actually be willing to dish out some money to do it right. It seems this guy was trying to cover up the horrible truth about his lack of funds and ended up proclaiming them to the world instead.

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Photo Courtesy: @UnsourcedUSA/Twitter

If you don’t have hundreds of dollars to drop on a highly detailed tattoo, then ask for something simple but tasteful. A fancy dollar sign would have had a better chance of conveying the right message than poor Ben Franklin looking like he just got struck by lightning.

The Misguided Back Collage

For many people, tattoos are a great way to celebrate their favorite things. From your kids to your hobbies, you can use tattoos to announce your love of pretty much anything to the world. However, that doesn’t mean you should attempt to mesh every single thing you love into one big inky collage on a single part of your body.

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Photo Courtesy: @bad_tattoos/Twitter

While this guy's daughter — hopefully not a girlfriend with the name on kid blocks — may be honored to have her name inked across her dad's back, she also appears to be in imminent danger of blowing up with the Death Star. As for national pride, this guy seems to have it for both America and a galaxy far, far away.

Not the King & Queen of Tattoos…

Getting a tattoo with your partner in crime can often go awry — and become, well, just a crime. Here we have some complimentary tattoo choices that do not reign supreme. Although the person on the right got out grammatically unscathed, the person on the left did not end up so blessed.

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Photo Courtesy: @Unbalanced/Twitter

Instead of “Her King” and “His Queen,” we’ve got “Her King” and “Hes Queen,” and that makes us think of that holiday Hess gas station jingle for some reason. Not super romantic — and certainly not the palace these two were envisioning when they conceived this tat idea. 

Tea Time in the (Tattoo) Parlor

When we say it’s time to spill the tea, we mean one should use their words — not the ol’ ink and needle. As reported by the New York Post, a 21-year-old man from Dallas, Texas ended up with a cherry blossom branch on the side of his torso, but not just any branch. Instead of bringing in a photograph, the man asked the artist to draw one from memory.

Photo Courtesy: @NewYorkPost/Twitter

That memory the artist called upon was that of the iconic design used on AriZona Ice Tea cans. “Realized that my side tattoo makes me look like an AriZona Green Tea can and now I can’t unsee it,” the tattoo fail victim tweeted. After the tweet went viral, AriZona Iced Tea wrote back, “We guess this means it’s going pretty serious between us.” And pretty permanent. 

With Great Tattoo Ideas Comes Great Responsibility

Fans immortalize their favorite characters in ink all the time these days. Nonetheless, you’d probably have to be a super fan of something to commit to a giant back tattoo and five characters — oh, and a company’s name. Clearly, this tattoo victim needed to do a little more reading about the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Dc
Photo Courtesy: @RetEvents/Twitter

Although the Hulk, Wolverine and Iron Man are all Marvel Comics characters, Superman and Batman belong to rival DC Comics. Although the two comic book makers have been known to dabble in crossovers, these strains are still very separate. Not to mention, the fandoms have a pretty heated rivalry.

Don’t Never Never Stop Re-Reading

In 2016, Andy Samberg starred in a mockumentary called Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, and that’s truly all we can think of when we see this tattoo fail. We’ve all had those Mean Girls Moments, where we try to say two words at once and then invent something entirely new (see: “grool,” a.k.a. “great” + “cool”), but this is something else.

Never Stop Never Stopping
Photo Courtesy: @lufu_/Twitter

What was meant to be an inspiring phrase turned into utter nonsense, thanks — surely — to a bout of indecision and a lack of re-reading. It’s hard to blame the tattoo artist when the customer doesn’t do a simple once-over. Don’t give up on double-checking. 

Everything Is Not Awesome

It takes a bold, confident person to declare — in permanent ink — that they’re “awesome.” It takes an even bolder person to get such a phrase tattooed across their shoulder blades. You can’t really see what’s going on back there, so, to some degree, you have to trust the tattoo artist to really nail it.

Awesome Jones
Photo Courtesy: @TheSun/Twitter

On the other hand, tattoo artists always show their customers a mock-up beforehand — so it was up to this tattoo fail victim to spot the missing “E” here. Needless to say, it must be hard to stand by your “I’M AWESOME” statement when something goes this awry.