Fiction seems to have a penchant towards giving heroic or impartial characters with white or silver hair (or a given value equating to one or the other
) an air of mystery and/or strangeness. Purple, red or golden eyes are common fixtures.
Real life likely plays a factor in the popularity of this trope, as it's thought of as uncommon to possess white, silver, or gray hair before one reaches a certain age, the possession of which is often but not always associated with congenital conditions rare to occur in humans, specifically albinism. As an effect of such rarity, however, white hair has long been an indicator for a character to be more than what they seem, particularly on the more youthful, resulting in this trope. The use of white and silver in imagery of ghosts, spirits, and other ethereal bodies may well have had influence in the trope's association with unearthliness.
Compare and contrast White Hair, Black Heart
, its evil counterpart. Can be related to Heroic Albino
, although White Hair Enigmatic Heart has a greater emphasis on the enigmatic atmosphere surrounding the character, and doesn't necessarily mean having to have pale skin. If female, the character may turn out to qualify as a White-Haired Pretty Girl
, who possesses magic at her most fantastic and wisdom at her most mudane.
Anime & Manga
- In Angel Beats!, Angel is considered by the cast to be robotic, and is rarely spoken to or understood by the majority of them, is gunned down in fights and the like as the main threat to their continued existence or passing on, coming off as very much an "unknown." It's only after the protagonist, Otonashi, takes more time to speak to Angel that he realizes for certain that there's more to her than they all led themselves to believe; that she's not so much the final boss to defeat in a world full of NPCs as someone almost human...
- Shiro from Deadman Wonderland can be the innocent and unearthly type with quite eerie vibes to her sometimes, when her Super-Powered Evil Side hasn't taken over.
- Mugen-dono of Mushibugyou, a white-haired purple-eyed enigma who stays loyal as a hero to the Bug Magistrate's Office--for whom the protagonist and his companions exterminate the colossal bug monsters that terrorize Edo for--is nevertheless incredibly aloof towards the rest of the team (and yet incredibly admired by the protagonist and his rival kunoichi friend), only appearing for big cases and speaking not a word to any of them, which leaves his past and self in general as a mystery, and acts as one of the main draws of the show.
- In Suisei no Gargantia, the protagonist Ledo, having originated from an advanced human civilization far out in space whose people are all silver-haired, pale-skinned, and purple-eyed, is introduced with both the knowledge and unerring calm expected of a child soldier and soon-to-be-citizen of the Galactic Alliance of Humankind, although the way he interacts with Chamber and towards his commanding officer's sacrifice shows him to be very human and with compassion from episode 1 on.
- Nai from Karneval, a Cheerful Child who is introduced to the thief Gareki and the audience as innocent enough to be unaware of what blood is even when it's splattered outside the body, has most of the mysteries of the manga revolving around him, including who and what he truly is; even when this is revealed, there's still a great deal unknown about his past with the Ill Boy Karoku and how he came to be human, and perhaps in an unusual version of the trope, he's mysterious in part because of Karoku, who despite his blue-tinted hair has even more of a mixture of the trickstery portion of the calm and knowledgeable type and most of the cold and elusive type of White Hair Enigmatic Heart going for him, with a great deal of the series' drive spent chasing after him and trying to discover and dismantle the mystery surrounding him.
- Kyousuke, the unaging Anti-Hero of The Unlimited Hyoubu Kyousuke, who in a world full of espers along with "normals" wakes up after a traumatic and bloody betrayal with white hair, acts for the most part as an unusually calm "young" man surrounded by mystery, with plenty of knowledge brokering over world events for sixty-something years, even bearing the knowing little smile on his lips most of the time. In truth, as it turns out, even with his social skills and incredibly apparent care for those he shelters in the Catastrophe, he's bitter and evasive about his life to the core--a Shell-Shocked Veteran whose wavering over his past actions, silent anger and frustration becomes more and more apparent as the series goes on.
- While there's a unmistakeable blur between his role as either a Hero Antagonist or Villain Protagonist, Yamato Hotsuin of Devil Survivor 2 is more or less the cold and elusive variety in part, raised with no social skills and zero percent compassion towards human life, and certainly elusive about his past and the more general details about the end of the world that the protagonists might prefer to know, if not his Jerkass ideologies overall. He's still the only person who keeps the operations needed to keep everyone who's still alive alive together, and is a useful ally to have around for it. Not to mention how his conversations with the Anguished One, another white-haired pretty boy with even more enigma surrounding him, oozes cryptic from the get-go.
- In DRAM Atical Murder, the Cloud Cuckoolander character Clear, despite his being a technical adult (or older teenager), has a certain unusual innocence to him that's evident from early on, such as his finding it an amazing discovery that umbrellas could be used in the rain as well as to hide from the sun. It becomes stranger the more the protagonist Aoba tries to learn more about him, and one of the first strong indications he may be more than what he seems arises when Aoba questions his sense of hearing, to which he responds to as if he could hear Aoba's unseen-by-any-other Super-Powered Evil Side... In an indirect way the extent of his innocence as the audience and Aoba had come to know it is subverted the further one follows his route and story, as he begins to express more adult worries, such as his desire to understand the human perceptions of life and death (which pertains to his "unearthly" predicament), and grows more serious and quiet with every twist and turn, even as a part of his innocence lingers on.
- Rose Lalonde from Homestuck, who is widely interpreted by the fandom as having white hair (or pale blond) and violet eyes, albinistic or otherwise, tries to maintain at 13 a constant calm and reserved demeanor, but is still very sociable with her friends and invasive acquaintances, and maintains that small, "mysterious" smile as a part of her character sprite. Her investment in learning more about the game they've been drawn into, or knowledge of the "worlds" (more akin to "universe(s)" later), so to speak, as opposed to actually exploring it like the other kids, is crucial in the beginning of their game and plays a key part and foreshadowing towards her being Seer class, and before the cessation of their game's "session" and even afterwards (unlike another Seer she winds up traveling with for three years), she comes to believe that she has key information that will come in handy once they finally come upon the new session, and that those around her shouldn't worry as much as they are (although they're much more worried about her being constantly drunk at the point we catch up to her than anything else).
- Princess Yue of the Northern Water Tribe in Avatar: The Last Airbender eventually tells one of the main characters, Sokka--who's beginning to fall in love with her--that she was born incredibly sickly, which led her father to pray to the Moon and Ocean Spirits known to the tribe in an effort to cure her, a prayer that the Moon Spirit granted by giving her a part of its life. As a result she came to health and came to bear a unusual white coloration of her hair, although her parents would insist on keeping her sheltered from there on out. While her past in and of itself surrounds her with a feeling of unearthliness and mystery, what happens to her only solidifies it, with her sacrificing her life during an invasion of the Fire Nation that goes incredibly wrong for the Water Tribe and the world overall with the killing of the Moon Spirit, so that she could succeed in its place.