The Worst Tattoo Trends Ever

Tattoo fails have a way of following you around, and even if the tattoo isn’t immediately visible, people with really bad tattoos will never ever forget. If you’re thinking about getting some ink done, but aren’t sure what to get, check out this list of the worst tattoo trends ever and try your best to not make a huge mistake.
The bad tattoos on this list will hopefully act as sign posts for anyone who’s about to get some tattoo work done. Getting a bad tattoo is kind of like eating bad food, except you’re not sticking that Big Mac on your face for the whole world to see. If you’re set on getting a tattoo, first look at these tattoo photos and take note of how they’ve each gone in and out of favor with the public.
Wouldn’t you rather get something timeless permanently etched into your body? These bad tattoos are worst of the worst, so don’t be surprised if you see something on here that reminds you of your first college boyfriend or girlfriend. Vote up the worst tattoo fads ever, and then tell us about how cool your super unique tattoo is in the comments.

Super Long Quotes

Why get one word tattooed on your body when you get 100? Or 1000! Usually, long quote tattoos exist because someone wants the rest of the world to know that they’ve read a fancy book.

Neck Tattoos

Neck tattoos became THE THING for guys in metalcore bands to get in early 2000s. They look God awful, but they’re the perfect way to tell your girlfriend’s family that you don’t have a job.

Stick ‘n’ Poke

Stick ‘n’ poke tattoos began as prison yard body art. They were mainly used to show off what gang you were in. But around 2007, stick ‘n’ pokes made their way to the PBR-drinking sect and now you have a new way of knowing who to avoid at a party.

Bows on Calves or Thighs

Bow tattoos starting showing up everywhere during the retro/pin up explosion of the early 2000s. They show off a sense of femininity, while still being a monument to pain. Also, they’re very tacky.

Misfits Skulls

Similarly to the Black Flag logo, Millennials starting getting the most famous Misfits logo tattooed on their bodies a good 30 or 40 years after the original/good incarnation of the band called it quits. If you see someone with this tattoo under the age of 50, be aware that you may be dealing with someone who has less-than-stellar punk credintials.

Barbed Wire Bands

Yowza, is there a worse tattoo trend that barbed wire bands? These babies are right up there with tribal tattoos. Barbed wire tattoos started in the late ’80s with the motorcycle gang types and slowly wormed their way into the world of regular folks.

Tramp Stamps

If you were an adult woman in the late ’90s, you have a tramp stamp. Maybe you got it on spring break, maybe you didn’t, but we know it’s there. And we’re willing to bet your friends have matching ink on their lower back.

Chinese Characters

As beautiful as the Chinese written language is, you probably shouldn’t get a Chinese character tattooed on your body if you can’t understand it. People started getting these tattoos in the ’90s, and have suffered from looking like dummies ever since.

Black Flag Bars

At some point around 2012, people thought it would be cool to start putting the Black Flag logo on everything they could find: coffee shops, socks, pizza, and especially their skin. The ironic thing about these tattoos is that most of the people that have them weren’t even old enough to see the band live in their original iteration.


Originally, the swallow tattoo showed that a sailor had traveled over 5,000 nautical miles, and second swallow meant that the sailor had traveled 10,000. But now, the swallow tattoo usually signifies that someone owns the entire New Found Glory discography.

Paw Prints

Paw prints are usually tattooed on people who have an animal they love, but it’s still super dumb and mega lame. Even your dog is embarassed for you.


Tribal tattoos were all the rage in the ’90s. Technically they’ve been popular for over 2,000 years when Samoan tribes began to tattoo each other to  demonstrate the strong ties they felt to their culture. But in the ’90s, the tribal style was co-opted by every frat boy who wanted to have something to talk about in a bar.


If you were an 18 year old girl in 2002, you probably have a butterfly tattooed on your shoulder. Maybe you wanted people to know that you were about to fly free, or maybe all your friends were getting a tattoo and you didn’t want to be left out.

One Word Statements

Around 2008 or so, one word tattoos started showing up everywhere. Usually on people who weren’t able to actually think of something interesting to get inked on their body.


Dreamcatcher tattoos are very popular among art students who want to feel a connection the American Southwest. These tattoos can mean anything from, “I have hopes and dreams,” to “I had to pick something off the wall.”

Finger Tattoos

Finger tattoos have made a big come back in the second decade of the 21st century. From mustache tattoos to your favorite eight letter phrase, finger tattoos are so hot and so annoying right now.

Sugar Skulls

There’s no denying that Mexican sugar skull looks super cool. In the ’90s, people got them to commemorate family members who’d they lost. That’s not the annoying part, the annoying part is the fact that dorks who have zero understanding of the culture they were co-opting started getting sugar skull tattoos just because they’re neat.


What’s the best way to memorialize someone after they’ve passed? By inking their face onto you skin, which will quickly sag and wrinkle. This trend has been HUGE since the ’80s and it shows no signs of dying.

Bracelets / Anklets

Anklet or bracelet tattoos were a very cool thing to get if you were a fancy lady in the late ’80s or early ’90s. Specifically if you were a Stevie Nicks fan. It’s an easy tattoo to get if you don’t want people to know you have a tattoo.

Skylines into Heartbeats

Oh boy, these tattoos started popping up around 2001, and while the sentiment is cool, these tattoos are basically a T-shirt you could buy at Hot Topic.

Peacock Feathers

Peacock feather tattoos are the tramp stamps of the Millennial generation. Girls everywhere love them because they’re colorful and bohemian. Too bad they’re also totally unoriginal.


Obviously, the anchor began as a way to signify that you were someone who worked on the sea, but now they’re a pretty easy way to spot the creepiest guy in your local dive bar.

Bird Silhouettes

In the early 2000s, bird tattoos became even more popular than Livestrong bracelets. Their meaning is seemingly malleable, but they give off the sense of wanting to be free while being simultaneously beholden to lame trends.

Foot Tattoos

Foot tattoos have been slipping in and out of fashion since the ’80s. Every few years a new version of the foot trend will pop up. No matter what, it’s always stupid.


When Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland got three teensy tiny arrows tattooed with her best friend, the trend exploded! It’s hardly the worst tattoo trend, but it’s kind of lame.


Owl tattoos began to pop up everywhere in the early 2000s. It was sort of a way to get back to nature without having to actually do anything.


Originally, the compass tattoo  was popular among early sailors and was seen as a way to protect yourself from rough waters.  Now that most people with compass tattoos are baristas and not sailors, it’s possible that this tattoo’s meaning has changed to mean “makes really good latte art.”