[[quoteright:324:[[WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_1782750_1311515065759_full_7875.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:324:Hairpin up, hair down.]]

If a character has long hair tied in a ponytail there is a chance that the hair will become undone during a fight or action scene. The probability of this to happen increases with the intensity of the situation and the challenge the opponent poses. Of course, this isn't restricted to ponytails alone. [[GirlishPigtails Braids, twintails]], [[WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender hair loopies]], and other hairstyles just begging to get undone while in the heat of battle also count.

It serves to give the character an instantly [[WildHair rougher, more primal]] and {{Badass}} look that can underscore the seriousness or desperation of the situation. On the other hand, unbound hair can also create a vulnerable look. In classical Japanese paintings defeated {{Samurai}} were often shown with messy or disheveled hair, so naturally many [[ActionGirl long]] [[AgentPeacock haired]] {{anime}} characters end up looking like this when things are getting rough. Sometimes it is used to make a character [[{{Fanservice}} that much hotter]] while fighting, especially in combination with ClothingDamage.

Compare CloseCallHaircut. When the character undoes the hair willingly on camera see ShakingHerHairLoose. If the ponytail gets severed completely, it easily becomes a TraumaticHaircut and possibly an ImportantHaircut. If the character is using a CombatHaircomb to fasten their hair, then it naturally will go loose once used.

This can be very much TruthInTelevision, especially for those with hair that's not much longer than shoulder-length.

This has nothing to do with the Music/HeavyMetal band Music/{{Slipknot}} in ponytails.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Happened to Signum of ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' during her final battle with Zest. This may have been a MythologyGag to Miyuki's CloseCallHaircut during the ''TriangleHeart3SweetSongsForever'' OVA.
* ''SamuraiChamploo'' with Jin in one of the obviously female-aimed {{Fanservice}} moments.
* Tomoe's ponytail loosens in ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'' right before [[spoiler: her HeroicSacrifice by throwing herself between Kenshin and his enemy.]]
** Likewise, this happens to Kenshin himself in his first battle with Saito, though in this case it's played as unsettling rather than hot as Kenshin's [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Battousai mode]] is coming out simultaneously.
** Also happened to Kenshin in the second prototype story. The girl he rescued tied his hair up with her ribbon afterward, and he apparently had no clue that ribbons were for women, thereby making it an opportunity for 'Kenshin is hot and scary' followed by 'Kenshin is adorable and clueless.'
** Also happens to Yumi during the Kenshin/Shishio fight in the anime. [[spoiler:When Shishio runs through her with his sword, her headgear breaks and her hair is loose as she falls into Shishio's embrace]].
* Happens to Renji Abarai and Byakuya Kuchiki in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. Also to Kenpachi.
* Is part of the transformation of D'eon into his sister Lia, when he needs to fight in ''LeChevalierDEon''.
* When [[RanmaOneHalf Ranma]]'s pigtail comes undone, [[spoiler:his hair won't stop growing -- fast. Yet ''another'' curse for the boy, this time because he ate a bowl of ramen with dragon's whisker on it; his ponytail holder is another dragon's whisker, which can stop the curse. Oh, and his hair doesn't grow when he's a girl. But once the men of the series know about it, they ''all'' want the dragon's whisker to solve their own problems with baldness - all of them, including his dad.]] Despite what common Fanon will tell you [[spoiler: the hair growing ended in the same issue where it was introduced. Untying the ponytail does absolutely nothing now, and he just keeps it for the sake of LimitedWardrobe.]]
* From ''{{Beyblade}}'': You know Rei is about to get seriously injured when an errant Beyblade severs his headband, releasing his long hair. Happens thrice throughout the series.
* Inverted in ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh''. When Sakaki gets upset during the third sports fest, she responds by removing a headband, letting her hair flow a little more freely than it had before, but then ties it back for the only time in the series.
* Variation: Souichi's ponytail always comes loose or undone by Morinaga during foreplay in ''TheTyrantFallsInLove''. Since he's normally domineering and bad-tempered, this is designed to make him look more feminine and consequently more {{uke}}ish and controllable when Morinaga gets to dominate him in bed.
* Done in virtually every fight scene involving Kumiko in the 3 seasons of the J-drama version of ''{{Gokusen}}''. Oddly enough, this transformation also involves losing her geeky glasses, possibly showing her to be BeautifulAllAlong.
* This happens to Fakir in ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' during the first season finale.
* ''Manga/DGrayMan'' does this to Kanda in a [[CrowningMomentOfAwesomeAnime grand showdown]].
** There was also [[SeriousBusiness an epic battle]] when [[BadassGrandpa Bookman]] stole Kanda's hair tie. It involved Kanda beating much of the Black Order senseless in order to find out who was responsible.
* Played with and subverted in ''MahouSenseiNegima''. Setsuna and Kaede's hair fell rather undramatically only because Chao used a [[TimeStandsStill time stop]] with her [[TimeMachine Cassiopeia]] to take their hairbands from them within a single instant. This wasn't for a show in [[BadAss badass-edness]] or to [[IAmNotLeftHanded show that they'll win the fight]]. This was used to show how [[OhCrap utterly screwed they are]]. Played straighter with [[spoiler:her final battle against Negi at the end of the SchoolFestival when her hair buns loosened]]. Tsukuyomi also has a way of loosening her elaborate hair-styles during combat (why anyone would wear extravagant, victorian-stylized clothes to sword fights... who knows).
* Happens frequently to Abel Nightroad in ''Manga/TrinityBlood'', though somewhat subverted. When his usually neatly tied up ponytail comes undone, you've just succeeded in really ticking him off. When he deliberately takes it down, it's time to [[OhCrap run]]. Justified (sorta) in that his TransformationSequence involves his hair becoming prehensile and flailing around before appearing to blow straight upward. I kept waiting for him to strangle someone with it.
* Asuka loses her trademark pigtails for her CrowningMomentOfAwesome in ''[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion End of Evangelion]]''. [[FanDisservice This is NOT fanservice]], at least, not by the end of the fight.
* Neji from {{Naruto}} gets his headband (and hairband) knocked loose in his fight against Kidomaru, and then [[spoiler: it's used to save his life once everything is over]].
** This trope is more or less ubiquitous for ninja who wear a headband. When that is knocked off (leaving their hair loose) its a sign that they are in big trouble.
* Parodied in ''AoiHouse'', where every female character goes into a trance when Alex's ponytail comes undone and become completely subservient to him.
* Happens to Rossiu from ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann''. By someone punching him. In the face. Whether he looks better afterwards is debatable, if only because it doesn't last very long.
* In ''KazemakaseTsukikageRan'', Ran gets into a fight with a near-identical swords-woman, ending with both of them in the same pose. Ran's ponytail comes undone as her enemy crumples to the ground.
* Happens to Onizuka in ''SketDance'' - her long hair makes her more recognisable as the 'Onihime', a legendary fighter.
* In ''[[Manga/BloodPlus Blood+]]'', Hagi's hair coming loose from its ponytail is almost always a sign that he's getting his ass kicked.
* In ''Manga/{{Dragonball}}'', for a time Future Trunks had long hair, which he kept in a ponytail (though he left the hair that framed his face loose, sort of defeating the point). When he went Super Saiyan, the ponytail stayed bound, letting the front bits spike up. When he went to his most powerful form, however, the band broke and the result was a large golden starfish for a haircut. Seriously.
* Lampshaded in an episode of LuckyStar - it's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anD3t0ufMPs 'Ponytail Day']] and three of the girls redo their signature hairstyles into ponytails. Kagami suddenly gets annoyed at this and rips her ribbon clean off, to which Konata squees "You looked so manly with it, like a samurai!"
* In Chapter 94 of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' [[LadyOfWar Riza Hawkeye]] gets this treatment during her battle with Envy. It doesn't make her any less badass seeing as she pumps several guns' worth of ammo into him at once.
* Akitsu and Yaichi from HouseOfFiveLeaves are seen once or twice with their topknots down.
* During the final arc of the ''{{Inuyasha}}'' manga, Sango's hair falls down when her hair tie is eaten away by Naraku's miasma.
* Happens to Elsee during a fight in ch. 26 of ''Manga/TheWorldGodOnlyKnows''.
* In the climax of ''Anime/OjamajoDoremi'''s second season, Doremi's {{Odango}} come loose when she's hit by the BigBad's curse and her magic crystal shatters. This finally reveals her hair to be waist-length, since it was the first time in the franchise she "let" it down. It seems to be symbolic for Doremi's CharacterDevelopment into a more mature girl, since neither Onpu nor Hazuki (both already rather mature to begin with) lose their ponytails upon shattering their crystals.
* In the ''SagaOfDarrenShan'' manga, this happens to Kurda at the end of vol. 5, right at the moment where he [[spoiler: stabs Gavner Purl]].
* Happens a number of times in ''HeartcatchPrecure'' to Tsubomi/Cure Blossom. Whenever Tsubomi is knocked into the transition stage between normal and Precure, it differs if the animators want to keep her hair down or put them back in the usual twintails. In TheMovie, Tsubomi takes a hit Erika directed at Olivier, blowing off her hairbow. Her loose hair causes him to snap out of his SuperpoweredEvilSide, though it's shown that Tsubomi can put it back to normal at anytime by pulling her hair back into the ponytail again and her magic'll fix it.
* In ''Manga/CynthiaTheMission'', the title character's hair comes out of her ox horns during a couple of dramatic fights.
* It happens ''partially'' to Sasami in the 3rd ''TenchiMuyo'' OVA. When confronted with a high-ranking member of the Galaxy Police whose insistent in taking her and the rest of the gang in, she ends up grabbing one of her hairbraids and pulling it off, converting it into a staff. She spends the battle with one pigtail up and one pigtail down, but once it's over, she's back to two pigtails.
** On the other hand, it happens fully in the first Tenchi movie, ''Tenchi Muyo in Love''. Achika, having seen Noboyuki's broken body, enters a state of TranquilFury that, when she faces BigBad KAIN, the first thing that goes is her hairties, which let her hair hang loose.
* In ''HajimeNoIppo'', Saeki's hair gets undone during his match against Itagaki in chapter 971.
* In ''SmilePrettyCure'', when Akane's trying to catch up with a boy she was smitten with, her attempt to ride a bike to reach the airport ends up with her crashing into a bush. As she gets out and keeps running, her small rat tail gets mostly undone and she pulls the band off in frustration, spending the rest of the episode with her hair loose.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:ComicBook]]
* In an issue of ''ComicBook/MegaMan'', Roll's trademark ponytail comes undone when she rushes out to help rescue survivors of a wrecked liner.
* [[ComicBook/{{NYX}} Zebra Daddy]] normally wears his hair neatly slicked back. However as things continue to escalate out of control on him during the climax his hair gets more and more wild until it's hanging in his face.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'':
** Belle loses her (easily animated) ponytail only when things get dramatic, such as when she gets attacked by wolves during her escape from the Beast's castle.
** Less dramatically, a single lock of Belle's hair frequently comes loose and falls over her eyes. She occasionally smooths it back up, but she ends up spending more time with hair in her face than not.
** The same thing happens with Gaston during his final fight with the Beast, starting out in a ponytail and ending up loose. The reverse happens to the Beast over the course of the film, as his hair goes from disheveled to trimmed and tied back. The exchange is both intentional and symbolic of the Beast becoming more civilized while Gaston reveals his evil heart.
* It happens to Kayley in ''WesternAnimation/QuestForCamelot'' as she ends up escaping into a forest, a branch snagging her hairtie.
* Happens to ''Disney/{{Pocahontas}}'' in the sequel. Her hair is done up for the ball but loosens and comes down while she's in prison.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/CurseOfTheGoldenFlower'':
** The Empress' hair comes undone while fighting with her stepson over a robe she wants him to wear. They're also apparently carrying on an illicit affair, and things almost get intimate before he runs off.
** The Emperor also gets one of these later in the film, as he [[spoiler:takes off his belt to beat his youngest son, Yu, who had just murdered his older half-brother both because of the aforementioned affair and Yu's own status as TheUnfavorite.]]
* Antonio Banderas from ''Film/{{Desperado}}'' during the Tarasco Bar shootout and various other fights.
* Since Alexander Dane, the [[IAmNotSpock extremely regretful]] [[ClassicallyTrainedExtra classically-trained actor]] who played ''Film/GalaxyQuest'''s [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Spock]][[{{Expy}} -analogue]], is [[AlienAbduction abducted]] in full costume including [[RubberForeheadAliens his prosthetic head covering]], we don't actually see ''any'' of his hair for most of the film, except near the end, when the latex finally gives out [[spoiler:sometime during his [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome off-screen]] RoaringRampageOfRevenge]] and splits in one part, letting an incongruous lock slip out, adding to his overall wild-eyed [[spoiler:[[NormallyIWouldBeDeadNow "I can't believe I'm not dead"]]]] demeanor at the time.
* Happens to Will Turner in ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' a lot.
** Elizabeth Swann, too, a couple of times.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Stardance'' by Spider and Jeanne Robinson, the story revolves around a zero-gee dance company (in space, of course.) This trope comes into play in an unexpected way when one of the dancers auditioning insists on wearing his long, thick hair in a ponytail "held by one hairband" despite having been warned of the dangers. The band ''does'' break during a rehearsal, his spacesuit helmet fills with hair, and he [[NightmareFuel suffocates on it]] before he can be gotten to a pressurized area.
* In Dark Heavens, both the Xuan Wu (and later the protagonist, Emma) have this issue. They stop to tie their hair back roughly once a chapter - Xuan Wu because his body naturally tries to return to the state it was in when he became Immortal (IE: At the end of a battle. He tends to lose his shoes as well!) and Emma... presumably because she's an active girl doing insane things in Hong Kong, which is humid at the best of times. Oh, and [[spoiler: because she's 'Rapidly turning into a smaller version of the Xuan Wu']]
* Tash, in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'', wears her hair in [[BraidsOfAction one neat braid]]. When she's locked into a room with the air being slowly vented in ''The Doomsday Ship'' and the room is later opened, she's found lying on the ground with her hair undone.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Subverted in the ''{{Firefly}}'' episode "Jaynestown"; when Book lets down his hair, it is not sexy, but (hilariously) ''terrifying'', to the point of freaking River out and sending her running for cover. The sight is enough to give even [[TheStoic Zoe]] pause.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager :''
** Although not quite fanservice, Capt. Janeway's hair was apparently psychically linked to the well-being of Voyager itself. Every time a battle started going badly, Janeway's hair started escaping its pins. It looks very dramatic -until some smart-aleck starts going "Hairstyle at 86% integrity" "That last shot took out the braid, bobby pins are failing"
** On the other hand, it was definitely fanservice whenever Seven of Nine's hairdo started coming apart--it implied that she was [[DefrostingIceQueen defrosting a little]], if only from sheer stress.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'':
** In the episode "Crossfire", there's a scene where Odo (distraught over his UnrequitedLove for Kira) is seen in his quarters with a single strand of 'hair' falling across his face. This was an improvisation by actor Rene Auberjonois, based on a Japanese print he'd seen of a warrior in defeat. Some of the producers weren't happy (because Odo doesn't actually have hair as he's a shapeshifter) but eventually rationalised it as a symbol that Odo is going to pieces, in that he's no longer controlling all of his body. ([[FridgeLogic You'd have thought that creating individual strands of hair would take more control than a single textured "hair" shape]]. The guy had problems duplicating lips and ears, for goodness' sake!)
** The standard Cardassian hairstyle is very severely slicked back and shiny, to compliment their reptilian features and sleek metallic uniforms. Whenever Garak, or Dukat, or any other Cardassian gets their hair out of order, it is a sign something very, very serious is going on. It makes Garak look positively insane when he is pulling his 'wide eyes for emphasis' thing.
* In ''Series/{{Highlander}}: The Series'', Duncan [=MacLeod=] generally had his hair securely tied back during duels. Only during very difficult battles would it loosen. And only the most dangerous fights with the most skilled foes would cause it to come completely loose.
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[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* ChrisJericho had begun wearing his hair tied back in a braid by 2003. During a particularly physical match against Test (the one where he chair-shotted StacyKeibler by accident) his hair came almost completely undone.
* ''Summerslam 2002'' is the '''only''' time this has ever happened to Rob Vam Dam. He manages to keep his ponytail almost completely intact in every other match.
* Melina's hair was half-up half-down at the ''Survivor Series 2009'' PPV. By the end of the match, her hair had come completely down.
* If a woman in wrestling ever wrestles with a fancy updo, you can expect this.
** Defied by Miss Madness in WCW. She would remove her hair clip before she wrestled.
* Happened to Drew McIntyre during his first loss. It only served to make him look more deranged.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* A famous example from the ballet ''Giselle'', is [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7apjZDnE9qM Giselle's Madness]], where the main character dances to the memories of everything that happened to her so far [[spoiler:right before she dies]], [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJtZQnhnlM4 with her hair loose]]. The ballerina playing Giselle has to have the tight bun ballerinas use undone, on stage; this is done by whoever plays Giselle's mother, while apparently crying over her unconscious body.
* The titular character in ''JekyllAndHyde'' wears his hair in a ponytail while the good doctor is in control, but has it loose when Hyde comes out. It takes a bit of creative positioning and lighting to make it still appear that way when the two sides of his personality are arguing with each other.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* The newcomer in ''VideoGame/ArcanaHeart 2'', Zenia Valov. If you beat her with certain attacks (ones that would make Kira's blob get torn off, for example), she will fall down with her hair tie (which makes her hair look rather short) torn off, revealing waist-length hair.
* In ''BattleMoonWars'', Haruna's hair is let loose whenever her PowerLimiter is removed. It's unclear exactly how [[LesYay Natsuki kissing her]] makes her hairstyle come undone.
* A shuriken does this for Kasumi during her ending in ''VideoGame/DeadOrAlive 3''.
* The PS1 fighting game ''VideoGame/EvilZone'' has two characters whose ponytails come undone after taking enough damage: Keiya (male) and Erel (female).
* Aerith's ponytail comes undone in ''FinalFantasyVII'' when [[spoiler:Sephiroth [[ItWasHisSled runs her through.]]]]
** In ''{{Dissidia}}'', Terra/Tina's hair is up as a human and down as an esper to show the more that her esper form is her primal side.
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'', this happens in the second half of the final battle with [[spoiler: Van Grants. Considering how he managed to pull off the same effect that most final Tales bosses have to [[OneWingedAngel transform into large, grotesque creatures]] in order to achieve just by taking off his shirt and letting his hair down, the battle ended up being that much more badass for it.]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' protagonist Reimu pulls off her hair tie in the outlandishly exaggerated fangame ''Touhou Soccer'' as part of her ultimate technique, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5eZJ2VGQQE Fantasy Heaven]]. Naturally, it blows through almost anything.
** The defeat portrait of PC-98 exclusive ''Phantasmagoria of Dim.Dream'''s final boss, Yumemi Okazaki, includes her braid coming undone.
* In ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance'' when the player fights Mistral her hair starts out mostly brushed off to one side and almost looks like it's tucked into her suit somehow. By the time Raiden pushes her into last phase of the battle it's loosely splayed around her shoulders.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Maya Fey from ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' ends up wearing her hair completely open for the first time in the series when [[spoiler: the evil spirit of Dahlia Hawthorne is finally exorcised out of her body.]] She collapses out of exhaustion seconds after this.
** There is also [[spoiler:Kristoph]] in ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney'' after his breakdown. By the time it ends, his hair flows down in a complete mess.
* ''{{Yo-Jin-Bo}}'''s Muneshige has his hair come undone during the final battle in his Good ending. [[spoiler: He later takes it down again at Sayori's request.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Happens to Haley in [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0035.html this]] ''[[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick Order of the Stick]]'' strip.
* There are several occasions of this happening to Miho in ''{{Megatokyo}}''. The creator notes in the margins of the bound collection that he's been told that Miho's hairstyle is one that's very difficult to maintain.
* KeychainOfCreation features this on at least two occasions. A little unusually, rather than making the victim look more badass, it actually makes them look silly- it's a symbolic loss in a contest of skill and control.
** Said instances are a friendly competition [[http://keychain.patternspider.net/archive/koc0201.html here]], and the outcome of a SingleStrokeBattle [[http://keychain.patternspider.net/archive/koc0246.html here]].
* ''Webcomic/GrrlPower'' analyzed the trope in the author's notes, where the author confessed that he discussed Maxima's hair coming out of its bun so easily at the press conference with his wife, noting that Max's slippery hair would take even more bobby pins than most. They decided [[AWizardDidIt the resident magic user gave her a magic scrunchie.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Sarah does this in "Bad Decision?", Chapter 2 of ''WebVideo/LG15TheResistance'', when she takes her hair out of her [[{{Nerd}} "Research Nerd"]] bun.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** this happens to Katara a couple times, [[spoiler: the first and most notable being her CrowningMomentOfAwesome fight with Master Pakku.]]
** The page image is of Azula of the same series.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'':
** This happens to Tarrlok during his battle between Korra in "When Extremes Meet".
** As well as Korra herself when battling Unalaq.
* ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' does this so very often, along with [[ClothingDamage losing]] [[ShirtlessScene his shirt]]. ("And he's got his sword in his teeth!" ''Shing!'')
** [[DuckDodgers "Behold, my messy hair of determination".]]
* Happens during Jessica's dramatic ballad "My World is Beginning Today" in ''SantaClausIsCominToTown''.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/AvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes]]'' has Carol Danvers undo her bun after becoming Ms. Marvel.
[[/folder]]
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