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Whenever a revolution is taking place, when people rebel against an authority, certain motifs often come to be associated with the uprisings. This can take the form of many things such as gestures, songs, objects, figureheads, phrases or even landmarks. Basically anything that can be used to symbolize a societal/political upheaval. The nature of the Icon of Rebellion means that it frequently becomes memetic among supporters of the rebellion.

Certain icons, hand gestures being the most common, tend to be reused across media and history alike. The "V" gesture (Index and middle fingers pointing upwards with the rest of the hand held in a fist and facing away from the user) is a symbol in the V miniseries, was used to represent the anti-war movement of The Sixties, and also stood for the Victory of the Allies in World War Two.

Because the Icon of Rebellion is usually something that is fairly innocuous, it can be displayed openly amongst rebels as a subversive sort of "Screw you" to the people in power. Only in the most Orwellian of societies is this ever punished.

Examples of Icon of Rebellion include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • V for Vendetta has wearing Guy Fawkes masks, and the "V" in general. V himself is both rebellion and icon.

Film - Live Action

  • Star Wars: the Rebel Alliance's emblem.
    • In the prequels, Count Dooku serves as the figurehead of the rebel Separatists.


  • Bas-Lag Cycle
    • Jack-half-a-prayer from Perdido Street Station.
    • The Perpetual Train in Iron Council.
      • Benjamin Flex from the same book.
      • Spiral Jacobs, the vagabond, roams around the city of New Crobuzon and spends his days vandalizing the city with drawings of spirals. This occurs during a time of political unrest, and the masses of New Crobuzon adopt it as a symbol of the rebellion, wearing it on their clothing and making the marks themselves. Subverted in that Jacobs is actually the ambassador of an enemy city and the spirals are part of an extremely powerful and intricate magic that would completely destroy the New Crobuzon, sending ripples of destruction backwards through time.
  • The mockingjay in The Hunger Games (or Katniss putting a bunch of flowers on Rue).
  • Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Rebels against the Lunar Authority wore red caps called Liberty Caps. Heinlein got the idea from the French Revolution example in Real Life below.
    • The "Simon Jester" symbol, which was used with anti-Lunar Authority graffiti.

 A matchstick drawing of a little horned devil with big grin and forked tail. Sometimes he was stabbing a fat man with a pitchfork. Sometimes just his face would appear, big grin and horns, until shortly even horns and grin meant "Simon was here".

  • The Lilac flowers in Night Watch.
  • In the Tricksters series by Tamora Pierce, the symbol for the cultural uprising of an ethnic group enslaved and kept on the bottom rung of society was a crude broken manacle: three small circles as a chain attached to a larger broken circle. This tiny sign of the underground rebellion could be seen anywhere--vegetable stands, scratched into the corners of glass windows.
  • In the second Inkheart book, the face of the commoners' uprising was the fabricated folk-hero, The Blue-Jay. He was known by his fairness, thieving, and mask rather than his face, but the songs of the Blue-Jay stirred public favor for the uprising without a face.
  • In Les Misérables, two of them- the flag Mabeuf dies waving, and Mabeuf's bullet-ridden coat afterwards.
  • In Magicians of Gor Tarl and his friend Marcus start a rebellion in Ar by claiming to have heard of the "Delta Brigade" (named after the events in a previous book where the forces of Ar were defeated in a delta) and scratch deltas everywhere. There later becomes an actual Delta Brigade which they have nothing to do with It's like al-Qaeda - no one group has any interaction with any other group, they just call themselves that and engage in uncivil disobedience.

Live Action Television

  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In a story arc, Bajor is threaten by a nationalistic group called the Circle. These extremists would spray paint their symbol as vandalism or in their headquarters.
  • V the Miniseries: The "V" hand gesture.


  • The main character in the Green Day song "She's A Rebel" actually calls the subject of the song this:

  "She's a symbol of resistance and she's holding on my heart like a hand grenade."



  • The red flag in the musical version of Les Misérables, having its basis in real life revolutions also using the red flag.


  • G.I. Joe: COBRA, naturally enough, has a red cobra's head with its hood open.

Video Games

  • Command and Conquer: The scorpion tail of the Brotherhood of Nod. In addition to their emblem (a scorpion's tail) , the motif includes tank names, their Obelisk's of Light shaped like a Scorpion's tail, and their Temples designed to look like a scorpion. In addition, Kane himself is just a ubiquitous icon for Nod.
  • The Wild Rose of the Wild Rose Rebellion from Final Fantasy II.
  • Half-Life 2 has Gordon Freeman, who certainly becomes a Messiah-type figure to the ragtag human rebellion in City 17, and the Lambda symbol itself becomes a common symbol to denote rebels and the caches they hide around the city and surrounding countryside.
  • The Raynor's Raiders insignia from Starcraft II.

Real Life

  • Guy Fawkes masks were worn by members of the anti-Scientology movement, Project Chanology. This was inspired by the film/comic book, V for Vendetta.
    • (Which in and of itself is rather...ironic. Yes, Fawkes was trying to depose the Protestant Regime...but only so a Catholic one could rise)
  • Guy Fawkes masks have also become synonymous with the Occupy Wallstreet protests.
  • Older Than Feudalism: the Ichthys was a symbol for the persecuted Christians in Roman times. Written in Greek, the initials of "Jesus Christ God's son Savior" spelled Ichthys, the Greek word for fish.
  • The inverted cross is often used as a symbol of rebellion. Generally, however, people forget it is actually the symbol of St Peter (who, it is said, asked to be crucified upside-down out of respect for his Rabbi, and/or as a "screw you" to the romans, with his request one-uping them in power), and as such is often used by the Catholic Church as a specific symbol representing him and the Pope.
  • World War Two
    • The Dutch would wear Orange in defiance to the Nazis. Orange was the symbol of the Dutch ruling family - The House of Orange.
    • The V for Victory sign in Britain.
  • During the French Revolution, wearing the bonnet rouge (red Phrygian cap) was a symbol of Revolutionary sympathies.
    • Later revolutions also used the red flag (e.g. 1848).
  • The Libyan rebel's flag
  • During the Jewish Revolts, the Jews would mint their own money and mark it with nationalistic/religious references as a sign of loyalty to the cause.
  • Revival of Hebrew as a colloquial language was an icon of the Zionist cause. That wasn't exactly rebellion as they were as often allies of The British Empire as enemies.
  • The song "Yankee Doodle" for The American Revolution.
  • Symbols of anarchism, including but not limited to: the Black Flag, the Red/Black Flag (used in Europa Universalis III, even!), the A within a circle and the Black Cat.
  • Communists have the red star and the hammer and sickle, originating in Soviet iconography. However, the color red as a symbol of revolution and/or socialism is much older than Marxist-Leninism.