Carmy’s 8 Tattoos & Their Meaning Explained

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Bear season 2.Jeremy Allen White’s Carmy in The Bear has several tattoos on his arms – here’s a breakdown of what they mean to him and their potential timeline. Created by Christopher Storer, The Bear follows the journey of a fine dining chef, Carmy, who finds himself returning to his roots when his older brother dies and leaves him his family restaurant. As Carmy struggles to keep the business afloat and battles his personal demons in The Bear‘s seasons 1 and 2, he forms new unexpected alliances along the way, while facing familial and professional challenges he had never anticipated.

The Bear‘s Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto is a multilayered character, and his tattoos that cover a significant portion of his arms seem to be a crucial part of his identity. As explained by Jeremy Allen White’s tattoo artist, Ben Sheilds (via Popsugar), he had initially designed close to 75 different tattoos for Carmy but then they “whittled it down.” To come up with the designs for The Bear‘s Carmy, the artist considered many aspects of Carmy’s characterization, before sizing and placing them on his arms. Given how so much work went behind creating the tattoos, it is hard not to wonder what they mean.

8 Carmy’s “773” Tatoo Represents His Roots In The Bear

Jeremy Allen White as Carmy in The Bear's season 2 finale

Ben Shields revealed that the “773” tattoo on Carmy’s bicep represents Chicago’s area code, suggesting that Carmy likely got it when he was much younger. It could have also been his first tattoo since most people settle for something safe when they get their first ink. Reminding him of the childhood experiences that shaped him and made him the chef he is today, the “773” on his left bicep serves as a timestamp that symbolizes his roots. Since Carmy left for New York to pursue his culinary dreams, it is also possible that he got the “773” tattoo before leaving Chicago in The Bear to remind himself of his humble beginnings.

7 2 Carmy Tattoos Symbolize The Contradictions In His Characterization

Jeremy Allen White as Carmy in The Bear

Speaking about Carmy’s tattoo of a reaper shaking hands with a bottle of alcohol in one arm and the one with two angels on the other, Ben Shields highlighted that the contrasting tattoos represent “the light and dark” in Carmy’s characterization. They portray how Carmy is full of contradictions, and as much as he tries not to repeat his family’s mistakes, there are times when his dark side gets the best of him. It reflects how Carmy seems level-headed toward the ending moments of The Bear season 2 but suddenly starts losing his grip on his emotions after he gets locked in the walk-in freezer.

On a deeper level, the contrasting tattoos could also represent his relationship with the family and how it shaped him. The reaper with the bottle of alcohol could symbolize his mother’s relationship with substance abuse and how it affected him when he was younger. The two angels on the other hand could portray how his brother, Mikey, and sister, Sugar, raised him and later encouraged him to leave town and find his path away from the toxic environment of their home.

6 1 Carmy Tattoo Alludes To His Story Arc In The Bear

Carmy scribling notes on a pizza box in The Bear

A snail tattoo on Carmy’s right forearm has the words “Live Fast” underneath it. The snail probably represents his life before he moved out of Chicago in The Bear, a period of stagnation where his family conflicts held him back. The “Live Fast” is from his professional life after he left Chicago and lived the quick-paced life of a fine dining chef. The “Live Fast” credo under the snail could also be a reminder, similar to the “Every Second Counts” poster in Carmy and Sydney’s The Bear restaurant.

5 Carmy’s Knife Tattoo Represents His Struggles As A Chef

Carmy's chef knife tattoo in The Bear

On his right palm, The Bear‘s Carmy has a tattoo with a chef’s knife stabbing a hand. While Ben Shields did not explain the meaning of this one, it seems to symbolize Carmy’s struggles as a chef. As seen in The Bear season 1, Carmy had to make several sacrifices to become the brilliant chef he is in the show’s current timeline. He also has PTSD from the toxic working conditions of his previous restaurant workplace, which suggests that the chef’s knife stabbing the hand is a metaphor for how he has taken a lot of emotional damage to get where he is today.

RELATED: The Bear’s Berzatto Family Tree Explained

4 Carmy’s “SOU” Tattoo Is a Reminder In The Bear

Carmy setting up a plate in The Bear

The “SOU” inked across his fingers seemingly stands for “State Of Urgency.” In one of The Bear‘s episodes, Carmy can be seen writing the same on a tape as a reminder. Considering how the restaurant-running business is a highly competitive space that always keeps employees on their toes, Carmy likely got “SOU” tattooed on his fingers to keep reminding himself of the stakes involved in his work as a chef. It probably gives him a much-needed push when required and helps him maintain a sense of criticality towards his work as a chef and small business owner.

3 Carmy’s Fish Tattoo Reflects His Life’s Philosophy In The Bear

Carmy Fish Tatto in The Bear

One of the most mysterious tattoos on Carmy’s arms is the one with a fish that has an hourglass in the middle. While it may hard to deduce the tattoo’s precise meaning, fishes are usually symbols of flow, change, and constant renewal in many cultures because of their association with water. The hourglass on the fish could represent the flow of time and how it will eventually end. The Bear‘s Carmy probably got this one to remember that be it in the kitchen or the world outside, his time is limited, and he must make the most of it by embracing the ever-changing landscape of the culinary world.

2 1 Tattoo Highlights What Cooking Means To Carmy In The Bear

Carmy cooking in the kitchen in The Bear

Carmy’s left arm has a tattoo showing a globe inside a measuring cup, which seems to align with what he wishes to teach Richie in The Bear season 2. By sending Richie to work at a three Michelin-star restaurant in The Bear season 2’s episode 7, Carmy helps Richie understand that his purpose as a restaurateur is to serve his customers and leave them satiated. It probably took Carmy some time to realize the same when he started his culinary endeavors and got the tattoo when he realized his purpose as a chef. Going by this narrative, Carmy’s globe inside a cup tattoo in The Bear represents how cooking means the world to him.

1 Carmy’s Flower Tattoo Seems To Honor Mikey In The Bear

Carmy explaining in the kitchen in The Bear.

Carmy also has a flower tattoo on his left arm that seems to honor Mikey’s memory in The Bear. Although the flower could have a different meaning or interpretation, it looks like a forget-me-not, representing remembrance and his connection with his brother before he passed away. If this symbolism holds true, the flower tattoo has immense sentimental significance for Carmy, showing how even though he was not around during Mikey’s final days, he hopes to cherish his memories with him in The Bear and remember him for all the ways in which he looked out for the Berzatto family.

Sources: Popsugar

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