In the adrenaline-fueled world of action cinema, few characters have captivated audiences quite like John Wick, portrayed by Keanu Reeves

Apart from his unparalleled skills in dispatching adversaries and his enigmatic personality, one aspect of John Wick’s character has piqued the curiosity of fans worldwide – the mysterious tattoo on his back. 

In this article, we’ll delve into what is the meaning of john wick’s tattoo on his back, exploring its connection to the character’s backstory and its role in the iconic film series.

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What is the Meaning of John Wick’s Tattoo on His Back?

What is the Meaning of John Wick's Tattoo on His Back

John Wick’s back tattoo is a central element of his character’s visual identity. This intricate design spans his upper back and features a Latin phrase – “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat.” 

Translated to English, it means “Fortune Favors the Bold.” This phrase encapsulates the essence of John Wick’s character and serves as a guiding principle throughout the film series.

Origin of Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat

Origin of Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat

The Latin phrase “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat,” translating to “Fortune Favors the Bold,” finds its roots in ancient Rome. 

Attributed to the Roman playwright Terence, the phrase first appeared in his comedic play “Phormio” around 161 BCE. 

Reflecting the Roman military ethos, it underscores the belief that bold and daring actions on the battlefield are more likely to be rewarded by fortune.

The association with Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck and fate, further solidifies the phrase’s cultural significance. 

Fortuna, often depicted with a wheel symbolizing the unpredictable nature of luck, reinforced the idea that taking calculated risks could lead to favorable outcomes.

“Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat” has transcended its origins, leaving a lasting imprint on various cultures and time periods. Its adoption by military units, organizations, and institutions reflects its enduring relevance. 

While Terence’s play remains a primary source, the phrase’s legacy is also documented in works like Mary Beard’s “SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome” and Adrian Goldsworthy’s “In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire.”

This enduring motto encapsulates not only the strategic mindset of ancient Rome but also a timeless principle that courage and boldness often lead to favorable outcomes, resonating across centuries and cultures.

Significance of John Wick’s Tattoo in the Movie

Significance of John Wick's Tattoo on His Back

John Wick’s tattoo isn’t merely an aesthetic choice; it plays a crucial role in shaping the narrative and understanding the character’s motivations.

As the trilogy unfolds, it becomes evident that Wick’s life is a series of calculated risks and bold choices, aligning seamlessly with the philosophy embedded in his tattoo. 

The tattoo serves as a constant reminder of the high-stakes world he inhabits, where survival depends on a combination of skill, determination, and, above all, audacity.

Real-Life Inspiration

While the tattoo is a fictional creation for the film, Keanu Reeves, the actor behind John Wick, is known for his dedication to his roles. 

In preparing for the character, Reeves trained extensively in martial arts and firearms. The tattoo, therefore, serves as a tangible representation of the actor’s commitment to embodying the essence of John Wick. 

This real-life dedication adds an extra layer of authenticity to the character, blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

John Wick’s Tattoo Design

Beyond its linguistic significance, the design of John Wick’s tattoo is worth exploring. The tattoo features a series of concentric circles, reminiscent of a target or bullseye. 

This design choice is not arbitrary but a visual representation of Wick’s precision and deadly accuracy. Each concentric circle symbolizes a layer of skill and proficiency, emphasizing his commitment to his craft.

Additionally, the tattoo incorporates intricate patterns reminiscent of classical art and symbolism. 

These details add an element of mystique to the overall design, mirroring the enigmatic nature of John Wick’s character. 

The tattoo becomes a visual storytelling device, providing audiences with glimpses into the complex layers of the protagonist’s persona.

Fan Theories and Speculations:

Given the secretive nature of John Wick’s character and the deliberate ambiguity surrounding his backstory, fans have developed numerous theories and speculations regarding the tattoo’s deeper meaning. 

Some propose that the concentric circles symbolize the layers of his past life, with each circle representing a different chapter in his tumultuous history. 

Others suggest a more mystical interpretation, linking the circles to ancient symbols of protection and warding off evil.

While these fan theories remain speculative, they showcase the intense engagement and passion of the John Wick fan base. 

The deliberate ambiguity surrounding the tattoo allows for diverse interpretations, contributing to the enduring mystique of the character.


John Wick’s back tattoo has left an indelible mark on popular culture. 

The tattoo has become an iconic symbol associated with the character, often featured prominently in promotional material and fan art. 

Its inclusion in memes and discussions surrounding the films highlights its cultural impact and the character’s enduring appeal.