Michael  was over the moon with the record ratings for his show’s season premiere – so he marked the milestone with a tattoo!

Egged on by his new ladylove, Canadian book critic Morgan Macgregor, the 41-year-old star walked into True Tattoo parlor in Hollywood on Oct. 1, just hours after his Showtime serial killer se­ries racked up a monster 3 million viewers for its Season 7 opener.

So what kind of ink did he choose?

The North Carolina-born star joked that he was “doctoring up [his] alien markings.”

And eyewitnesses say he didn’t even flinch as the tattoo artist’s buzzing needle marked up the top of his right foot. Michael was so relaxed, in fact, that he casually reclined and read a few e-mails and texts!

The past few years have been rough for the actor. He battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2010, and last year, he went through a painful divorce from his then-wife, co-star Jennifer Carpenter. But lately, Michael’s life appears to be on the upswing.

Girlfriend Morgan showed off her own tattoos on the red carpet at the Emmys a few weeks ago. And an insider explained that twice-married Michael is feeling so positive these days he wanted some new skin art as well.

“He’s got a fabulous girlfriend, a great relationship with his ex-wife, and he feels the new season is going to be better than ever,” said the source. “After the first show aired, he decided to go for it and get the tattoo.

“It’s his sign that even better days lie ahead.”