->''"They used to call me 'Red', but three years of malnutrition will do a number on your hair color."''
-->-- '''Ian Starshine''', ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''

It's a widespread belief[[note]]there is no clear [[https://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-stress-causes-gray-hair scientific evidence on this]][[/note]] that stress causes hair to turn gray -- just ask your grandmother. Stress, however, comes in many forms, and some are more effective than others at turning hair white.

One of the most effective ways to turn a character's hair completely white would be the stress of [[SoapOperaDisease prolonged illness]]. There may be some TruthInTelevision to this, but typically it's taken to extremes. In some cases, this trope is used to [[JustifiedTrope justify]] the white-hair part of WhiteHairBlackHeart if he happens to also be an [[IllGirl ill guy]].

Note that this trope also applies to people whose hair has turned white due to prolonged stresses similar to diseases, such as being a prisoner of war. If a character's hair suddenly changes color forever due to supernatural causes, it's LockedIntoStrangeness. If this is a direct (often temporary) effect of supernatural influence, it's PowerDyesYourHair. Also has no relation ([[{{Squick}} usually]]) to BrainBleach.

Also note that in RealLife hair already grown can't turn white (unless you bleach it artificially). Grown hair consists of dead cells, which can't change their color. But don't expect fiction to care.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Toki of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' fame is shown to have black hair in pre-war flashbacks and indeed, his hair turned white due to the same radiation poisoning that is slowly killing him.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Captain Jushirou Ukitake was diagnosed with a very serious lung condition (heavily implied to be tuberculosis) as a child and over the span of three days, the shock and stress of this diagnosis turned his hair white.
* In ''Manga/DeathNote'', Soichiro Yagami's hair starts greying at an alarmingly fast rate from the moment he begins to work on the Kira case. Especially notorious in the first arc, where about a third of his hair turns grey in a couple of episodes, way too fast for it to be caused by simple aging. Until about episode 10, his hair is pitch black. Though he didn't start greying until after he had a stress-induced (rather than a Kira-induced) heart attack.
** It could be that it had already started to gray, but he dyed it. The stress of the case kept him from maintaining it. Probably combined with the usual form of the trope.
* ''Manga/SevenSeeds'' has the upper half of Ango's hair turn white after [[spoiler: the shock and guilt he feels over Shigeru dying in the Final Test hits him]].
* Half of Dr. Manga/BlackJack's hair started coming in white after a land mine blasted his head apart when he was a child.
* [[spoiler:Victorique]] from ''LightNovel/{{Gosick}}'' suffers this in the ending of the story. It was likely a combination of an already crappy childhood and the stress of being a criminal refugee and having to flee to the other end of the world alone in the middle of WorldWarII.
* In ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'', Yukishiro Enishi's hair went white after he witnessed his sister Tomoe's untimely death. When Kenshin sees him for the first time after her death and sees him with white hair and a SlasherSmile it becomes very obvious that the experience [[DrivenToMadness knocked several screws loose]].
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', Hody Jones and his crew had their hair turn white after overdosing on energy steroids, giving them a large power boost, but shortening their lifespans.
* Happens to [[spoiler:MarieAntoinette]] towards the end of ''Manga/RoseOfVersailles''.
-->'''Narrator:''' The terror of the journey turned [[spoiler:Antoinette]] from a beautiful blonde into the white hair of an old woman!
* ''LightNovel/{{Katanagatari}}'': Togame's hair turned white ''instantly'' when [[spoiler: her father was beheaded]]. That trait is commented upon in the first half of the series.
* In ''Anime/SaintSeiyaOmega'', [[spoiler:Orion Eden]]'s hair turns white during the Sanctuary Arc. The exact reason is never given, but it's implied it was caused by the stress of watching [[spoiler:Aria]] being killed by [[BigBad his own father]].
* In ''Literature/HalfPrince'', [[spoiler: Long Dian's]] hair has turned white, apparently due to his life-threatening disease. [[spoiler: He regains black hair when he gets a synthetic body.]]
* In ''Manga/TokyoGhoul'', Ken Kaneki's hair turns white after ten days of extensive physical and psychological torture. It serves to also mark his shift to a [[WhiteHairBlackHeart more ruthless]] mentality.
** Likewise, in the sequel [[spoiler: Seidou Takizawa]]'s hair has turned white.
* This happens to [[Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure Yukako Yamagishi]] when she/if she uses her [[FightingSpirit Stand]] [[PrehensileHair Love Deluxe]] too much or if she takes too much damage.
* ''[[Anime/ReKan Re-Kan!]]'' has Hibiki's father Amami Asahi, who owes his white hair to Fear Bleach. Asahi is [[WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes terrified of ghosts]], and unfortunately for him, the woman he fell in love with and married, Yuuhi, was a [[ISeeDeadPeople medium]] completely ''surrounded'' by them. [[UpToEleven His hair went white within the week.]]
** At the end of Asahi's introductory episode, it looks like the same thing has happened to Narumi, who shares Asahi's fear of the supernatural, after a hectic chase involving some obliviously spooky ghosts. [[spoiler:Subverted: it's flour, from when she plowed headlong into a food stand.]]
* From ''Manga/YourLieInApril'', though not really turned into white, [[spoiler:Kaori's]] hair color become ''much'' lighter shade of blonde after she was hospitalized in episode 13. In fact her skin and eyes are paler as well.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', this happens to [[spoiler: Nagato]] when he [[spoiler: uses the Outer Path - Samsara of Heavenly Life Technique to bring BackFromTheDead everyone he killed when he invaded Konoha]]: the strain causes his hair to go white before [[RedemptionEqualsDeath he dies]]. [[spoiler: Kabuto later revives him with Impure World Reincarnation, and Nagato's hair is still white, that is until he absorbs some of Killer B's chakra, causing his hair to turn red again.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The title character of ''ComicBook/{{XIII}}'' has a grey streak on his left temple where a bullet scratched him pre-amnesia.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* This happens to Johnathan Harker in ''Film/BramStokersDracula'' as his hair turns grey when he returns to London and then white as he aids in fighting the count.
* The villain of the ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' franchise [[spoiler:for the first three films]] has white hair at a relatively young age (canonically in his mid-forties during ''Film/SawIII'') due to being terminally ill with cancer.
* Will Graham in ''Film/{{Manhunter}}'' has gray tinges in his hair due to his experience with Hannibal Lecktor.
* The vampiric disease in ''Film/TheOmegaMan'' turns people's hair white instantly (as we see when [[spoiler: Lisa]] gets infected). And curing it turns their hair back to a normal color instantly. Somewhere a Virologist Is Crying.
* Cole in ''Film/TheSixthSense'' is shown to have patches of white/grey hair that are meant to be the result of living in a constant state of fear and stress.
* In ''Film/AFoolThereWas'', TheVamp claws a loving husband and father away from his family, bleeds him dry, and leaves him an alcoholic mess. His formerly dark hair goes white over a couple of months.

* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles''
** We see that [[FairyGodmother Lea]] has white streaks in her hair after prolonged imprisonment by the Winter Queen in order to "cure" her insanity/ambition.
** Justine's hair turned white after an intense feeding session with Thomas nearly killed her. She recovered much of her physical health in the years after, but her hair has remained white.
* In Creator/AlexandreDumas' ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'', Danglars ends up a broken man with completely white hair following a prolonged period of psychological torture by the Count.
* ''[[Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse]]'' gives Annabeth and Percy cute little matching gray streaks from the stress of ''holding up the sky.'' Though oddly enough, they're never brought up again afterwards. They're brought up in ''Mark of Athena'' (''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus'') and it's said they disappeared after some time.
* In Creator/DeanKoontz's ''Dragon Tears'', Harry Lyon's former partner Ricky Esteban had to retire from the police force on medical grounds after being gut-shot, subsequently losing a big chunk of his digestive system. His hair went white and he seems prematurely aged in other ways, not surprisingly.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''
** Lancel Lannister's near-mortal wound and long recovery are said to have changed his fine blond hair to a brittle white mess.
** In ''A Dance with Dragons'', [[spoiler:Theon's hair turns white as a result of the malnutrition and torture he suffers from [[BastardBastard Ramsay.]]]]
* OlderThanRadio: Roderick Usher in Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's story "Literature/TheFallOfTheHouseOfUsher".
* Something like this happens to Literature/ErastFandorin in the first book of his series, [[spoiler:following the death of his new bride in a bombing]], as he ends up with grayed temples.
* In Bram Stoker's ''Literature/{{Dracula}}'', Jonathan's hair begins to go grey after his imprisonment at the Count's castle. It's believed by some to be another way in which he [[NotSoDifferent grows to mirror Dracula himself]], similar to his personality change and growing fixation on his weapons.
** Of course, this gets even more patently ridiculous later on: after Mina explains all the deprivations the Count has been secretly putting her through and the fact that he's setting her up to become another vampire thrall, Jonathan's hair is ''explicitly'' stated as going stark white right then and there, [[ArtisticLicenseBiology grown hair and all]].
* Felix Phoenix of Creator/TanithLee's ''Piratica'' used to have dark hair, until years in a workhouse as a child turned his hair white.
* ''Literature/LesMiserables''
** Jean Valjean's hair turns completely white (that is, [[ArtisticLicenseBiology including his already-grown hair]]) the night after he makes the difficult decision to turn himself in so that an innocent man doesn't get sent to the galleys in his place; it stays white for the rest of the book.
** Fantine's hair turns prematurely white after she sells most of it to provide money for her daughter and then contracts tuberculosis.
* This happens to the Judge himself in the JudgeDee novel ''The Chinese Nail Murders''. At the end of the novel, which has been filled with tragic events and a crisis which threatens his career, he is congratulated by an Imperial official who refers to him as an old man. Dee is about to take offense, being only in his 40s, but then sees his reflection and realizes he has gone completely gray.
* Jem in ''Literature/TheInfernalDevices'' series. Turns out it's because [[spoiler:of a demonic hallucinogenic drug originally used to torture him as a child.]] Same goes for his eyes.
* ''Franchise/TheWitcher'': The strain of the [[TheSpartanWay often lethal]] Trial of Grass left young Geralt with white hair and unnaturally pale skin.
* After the near-death experience that he has in ''Literature/PastwatchTheRedemptionOfChristopherColumbus'' by Creator/OrsonScottCard, Christopher Columbus's hair starts rapidly turning white.
* Kit Smith's hair is noted as prematurely grey (he's only around thirty when he is introduced in ''[[Literature/AuntDimity Aunt Dimity's Christmas]]''); he spent years living as a vagrant and nearly died of a combination of hypothermia and pneumonia.
* In the ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes'' story "The Speckled Band", Helen Stoner and her sister Julia both had prematurely graying hair due to the terror of their predicament.
* The mercenary hero of the 1980s Gold Eagle HeroesRUs series ''Soldiers of Barrabas'' had his hair turn white after a head injury in the Vietnam War. This gives him a startling appearance that's often lampshaded.
* In HarryPotter there's Remus Lupin, who is described as having greying hair in his early thirties due to the [[FantasticRacism stress]] and [[BodyHorror strain]] of living with [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent lycanthropy]] from an early age. Every time Harry encounters him after a significant period of time, he is described as noticeably greyer than before.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' story "The Sensorites", the space captain's hair has gone white as a result of his being subjected to psychic MindRape for months.
* In ''Series/TheThickOfIt'', Malcolm suffered a mental breakdown at the end of the third series. He returns for the fourth one back together, but with a head of steel grey hair. This happened naturally to the actor over time, but serendipitously evoked this trope.
* In ''Series/HouseOfCardsUS'', Frank Underwood's hair gradually greys throughout season 3 until it is practically white due to the stresses of the Oval Office.
* Happens all the time in ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' whenever someone becomes a victim of Wraith feeding. There are a few occasions where it is reversed by the Wraith returning the nutrients it stole, but those are rare special occasions.

* The Crash Test Dummies' song ''Mmm mmm mmm mmm'' has the first verse describe a kid who got into a car accident and ended up with white hair from the shock and injury.
* In Music/{{Voltaire}}'s "The Beast of Pirate Bay" the Beast scared Blackbeard so badly his beard turned white. "And now we all agree, he looks like Santa Claus."

* In the Broadway version of ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'', [[spoiler:Toby]]'s hair turns completely white after [[spoiler:he is locked in the evil basement by Mrs. Lovett and suffers a horrific BreakTheCutie ordeal which consisted of learning what she and Sweeney got up to and then being stalked by Mrs. Lovett who intended to hand him over to Sweeney to be killed]].
** The film version gives Todd himself a streak of white from the trauma of his incarceration.
* In ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}'', the company notes that Hamilton's hair has gone grey during "It's Quiet Uptown", as a result of his son Philip's death in a duel.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* According to the official ''VideoGame/BlazBlue [[AllThereInTheManual Setting Material Collection]]'', the attack that got Ragna's sister kidnapped, burned down the orphanage his family lived in, and [[spoiler:cost Ragna one of his arms]] as well as [[spoiler:Rachel taking it upon herself to bite him and essentially afflicting him with vampirism]] that turned his [[spoiler:blond]] hair white.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} 3'', Arthas' hair goes white after his experiences in [[GrimUpNorth Northrend]], though it's not entirely clear whether it was [[LockedIntoStrangeness the result of the magical influence]] of [[EvilWeapon Frostmourne]] or simply stress, obsession and trauma combined with frigid weather.
* Lau Chan from ''VideoGame/VirtuaFighter'', after having black hair most of the series, goes white and visibly ages as his IncurableCoughOfDeath gets worse by the fifth game.
* This is one of the fan theories regarding Fenris's silvery hair in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII''; he canonically underwent an agonizing experiment that wiped his memory.
* In ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil5'' Jill's hair turns platinum blonde, almost white, after being experimented on by Wesker.
* In the ''VideoGame/StreetFighterEX'' series, Kairi's hair color turns from black in EX to white in EX 2 due to the amount of stress brought about from the many fights he has gotten into since becoming an amnesiac.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'', [[spoiler:Godot]]'s hair turned white after he fell into a coma after being poisoned.
* In ''VisualNovel/SuperDanganRonpa2'', Nagito Komaeda's hair is white, and it's implied that this is due to [[spoiler:the illnesses he's had as a result of his constant good and bad luck]].
* In ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', [[spoiler:Tooya Hachijō (aka Battler Ushiromiya)]]'s hair apparently turned white after they nearly drowned and had a traffic accident. This also results in a close resemblance to Kinzo Ushiromiya, the family patriarch, who also had white hair in his youth.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', Ian Starshine's red hair turned white after three years of malnutrition in the Empire of Blood's jails.
* Kili of ''Webcomic/TheDragonDoctors'' has white hair thanks to a shock caused by the emergence of her hypersensitive spirit sight in childhood.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* TruthInTelevision, to some degree. People suffering from severe and sustained malnutrition, such as some prisoners of war, can have their hair turn ''blond'' over time. This has even happened to an elderly man held prisoner by guerillas, whose hair turned blond from its previous grey. However, it turned back once he was rescued and back on a proper diet.
* While not from illness, Senator John [=McCain's=] hair turned white at the age of 31 when he was a POW.
* Said to happen to U.S. Presidents (and by extension, probably other world leaders as well). Apparently, presidents age roughly two years for every year they're in office -- with associated white hair.
** UsefulNotes/BillClinton, for instance, went into the Presidency with a head of mostly dark hair and came out of it eight years later with it mostly white.
** UsefulNotes/BarackObama is rapidly getting salt in his pepper, too.\\
His Secretary of State UsefulNotes/HillaryRodhamClinton was already graying by the time she was appointed, but since her appointment, it's gotten to the point where even the [[DyeHard dyeing]] expected of most women her age can't keep up.
** Abraham Lincoln
** UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush looked ''much'' younger upon being sworn in as president in 2000 than when his term ended. Given [[TheWarOnTerror 9/11 happened]] during his presidency, is it any wonder?
* All the latest Mexican presidents look youthful on their election days, and much older when they reach the end of their 6-year term (they only serve one term, period). Very notable with Ernesto Zedillo, who looks like he aged at least two decades.
** Tony Blair went grey pretty quick after the Iraq war began, as his public image changed from youthful breath of fresh air to leering warmonger.
* Barbara Bush, wife of the first President Bush, infamously had white hair by the time she was 30. This is mostly credited to the death of her daughter at the age of 4 from leukemia.
* UsefulNotes/AlCapone claimed his wife was getting gray hair in her 30s because she was so worried about the press and police "harassing" her husband.
* MarieAntoinette may be the poster girl, since her hair turned from blond to white after the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_to_Varennes Flight to Varennes]] episode.
* While not always resulting in lighter hair, patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy sometimes find that their hair grows back a completely different color or texture.
* Marshal Masséna's hair reportedly started graying prematurely during the harrowing [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Genoa_%281800%29 Siege of Genoa]]. His fighting against Wellington ten years later in Portugal did not arrange things.