Some badasses are not satisfied with just a Badass Mustache or Perma Stubble to show off their awesomeness. No, they choose to take it further. As opposed to facial hair growing above their upper lip, they won't be content until they have a full blown beard to show off. Many times, it works for them where a simple mustache would just look foolish or out of place. And when it does work, the gentleman in question is a bona fide tough guy, a man's man, a veritable buffet of manliness.
In short, it's what happens when the Badass Mustache gets cranked Up to Eleven.
In Real Life, beards fell out of style (in most places) after the invention of the safety razor. Before that, shaving had to be done with a straight razor, and the risk of cutting yourself was a much more dangerous concern. This is why most historical bearded people were around before the 20th Century.
Distinct from Growing the Beard, but the two can most definitely overlap. Same thing goes for Beard of Evil and Beard of Barbarism. Also see Stroke The Beard. Contrast with Beard of Sorrow, although they could overlap. Sometimes goes hand in hand with Wild Hair. Sometimes part of a Bald Black Leader Guy look.
Pirates in media, tend to be fond of beards, as a lot of famous real ones were.
Used in a sidebar advertisement for a "Free Online MMO Trading Card Game" called Urban Rivals that appears on TV Tropes at the time of this writing. An initially wimpy-looking soldier character is shown growing increasingly more powerful through a series of stages, and his beard grows gradually at the same time.
Kan'u Gundam from BB Senshi Sangokuden. Based on Guan Yu (see below), he's a Gundam with a beard. He makes it work.
Though most Gundams do have a small red goatee-looking thing on their faces for some reason (one sourcebook claims it's a coolant tank for the head-mounted sensor and computer systems). Even Mobile Fighter G Gundam's Nobel Gundam. Ewww...
Aquaman, in nearly every incarnation in which he's an elderly King of Atlantis. Not only does his white beard rival Poseidon's, but it makes him sufficiently Darker and Edgier to make the reader know that no one fucks with him. Ever. Even Superman in Kingdom Come treats him with kid gloves.
Beards were an important feature of Bill Mauldin's Willie And Joe; as WWII combat infantrymen, they rarely got the chance to shave, and the look endeared them to readers who were in the same boat.
The dwarven noble in Dragon Age The Crown Of Thorns has a very elaborate style, reaching as low as the sternum. It has three intertwined braids in front, plus an extra one on each side. His mustache is also long, arranged neatly in two long strands that reach the level of his collarbone. His long-dead action girlfriend invented it, and the same style was since shamelessly copied by Lord Harrowmont, the Assembly Steward, etc. To compound it all, due to an event that gave the prince his Magic Knight status, all his hair is snow/silver white (that includes the spiked short cut on the head). Badass much?
Saruman was described as having little grit and pluck; he wasn't one made to deal with the mess up-close and personal. This is a common theme running through Tolkien and his Heterosexual Life Partner Lewis; administrators, advisers, committees, and organizations are bad; heroes go in and get the job done themselves. Saruman makes an effective dragon with his ability to create, organize, delay the White Council, and so on, but this dragon has no claws when the heroes are on him. Even when he ruins the Shire out of spite, he does it by rallying ruffians and scum and corrupting Hobbits.
Gimli! Effectively competed with an elf no less!
Given to the presumption that elves do not grow facial hair...
Beorn. The climactic battle in The Hobbit is going badly for the good guys until he shows up late in the day and wins it more or less single-handed. Admittedly being able to turn into a giant bear immune to weapons has its advantages...
Similar to Guan Yu, El Cid Compeador is described in The Poem of the Cid as having a magnificent beard, as befitting an archetypal Badass.
Belgarath of Belgariad had a beard, often depicted in art as being long and flowing, but was described in the books as being cropped close to his face. Barak, the Big Guy from the series' Viking Fantasy Counterpart Culture who turns into a bear on occasion, never shaved in his life.
Kurik in The Elenium has a mighty beard, as well as the 25,000 member strong Order of the Genidian Knights (with the exception of Sir Ulath).
Väinämöinen in the Iron Druid Chronicles has a badass beard which Atticus duly notes. In fact it is later found that he has a kit of knives strapped and concealed beneath his massive face bear.
Dumbledore, once described as reaching down to his knees.
Averted in the medieval fantasy series Tales Of The Branion Realm, in which men go cleanshaven to honor the female founder of their religion. They're essentially feminizing themselves — it helps that Everyone Is Bi.
During the writers' strike in '07-'08, late night talk show hosts David Letterman and Conan O Brien sported "beards of solidarity" (also they paid their crews out of pocket and kept their shows on the air throughout).
Conan re-grew his since he left The Tonight Show. For his show Conan on TBS, he kept it from November 8th, 2010 to the day Will Ferrell wanted it gone when he guest-starred on May 2nd, 2011. Then grew it back that fall, and shaved it off again in spring of 2012.
In Doctor Who, the Eleventh Doctor gained one between "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" and shaves it off later.
He grew another one in "The Wedding of River Song", but shaved it off during the episode.
Half the cast of Sons of Anarchy, being bikers have beards, with varying degrees of badass and evil backing them up. Probably the most badass is the beard belonging to Tig Trager◊, the club's Sergeant-at-Arms and assassin of choice although Jax's beard in Season 4 bids fair to rival it.
In Dungeons & Dragons again, it is always emphasized how fond dwarves are of beards. (In some editions, but not all of them, even female dwarves occasionally have them.)
Elminister has a pretty decent beard, and he's the biggest badass in the Forgotten Realms setting (arguably the biggest in any setting of the game).
G.I. Joe. It started in the 70s with the 12" Adventure Team member Joe Colton with realistic flocked facial hair as a selling point, and despite the fact that facial hair is still against military regs in most branches, a lot of Joes started sporting Badass Beards, including Shipwreck, Snowjob, Frostbite, Clutch, Outback, Rock & Roll, and most recently Bench Press. On the other side, Dreadnoks Ripper, Torch, and Monkeywrench as well as Iron Grenadiers Voltar and General Mayham have their own.
Darmani/Goron Link definitely qualifies. An NPC shopkeeper even comments on it.
NPC: Whoa, nice sideburns!
Gorath from Betrayal At Krondor has a Badass Beard despite being an elf - which is supposed to be impossible, but according to the manual is possible because he's half-human - which, in turn, is also supposed to be impossible in Midkemia canon. In short, the designers probably just gave him the beard to emphasize his "badass dark elf leader" image.
Team Fortress 2: The Demoman's facial hair straddles the line between a Badass Beard and a Badass Mustache. (He's trimmed off everything on his chin except for a small triangle beneath his lip. The man is stylin'.)
Among non-player characters, we have the bald, bearded Khelgar Ironfist, and mustache/goateed Ammon Jerro. Storm of Zehir adds Septimund and Ribsmasher.
Jinpachi Mishima from Tekken. Just...WOW. The Mishima Family is known for their outlandish, pointy hairstyles (a bonus from having electric attacks or the Devil Gene, maybe?), but the original progenitor definitely takes the cake for his beard alone.
In the "Oceans Unmoving" arc of Sluggy Freelance, Calix grows a massive beard after Stu dies, and afterward becomes much more ruthless and determined, growing up from the skilled but innocent boy he was.
In Ego Trip, Dexter takes a few Levels in Badass when growing up, and gets a Badass Beard in the process. He also goes bald. Elderly Dexter is beardless so he presumably shaved it off when his one-manLa Résistance days were over.
Charles Darwin's image is made instantly recognizable by his epic beard. This is even more impressive because he didn't grow the iconic beard until well after he published Origin. Beard of science, indeed.
Che Guevara, best shown off in his classic and much replicated portrait. You are not a real communist until you have awesome beardage.
Beards seemed to be particularly popular with the Bolsheviks (Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Kalinin... Stalin also had a beard, but later shaved it off and adopted his famous full-mustache look).
King Gustav I, the first renaissance king of Sweden, was a badass tyrant who sat 37 years on the throne and made a state in a modern sense out of a fractious medieval realm. His beard◊ was as badass as himself.
Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C.◊, the founder of the University of Notre Dame. Shouldn't expect anything less from a priest who almost singlehandedly built ND in the middle of Nowhere, IN, and after it burned down in 1879 swore to rebuild it even larger. Also, he's an honest-to-God doppelganger of Albus Dumbledore—check if you don't believe me.
It's a hockey tradition, at least in the NHL, that players grow a playoff beard when entering said part of the season. Most players do not shave until they either win the Stanley Cup or get eliminated. Thus the length of the beard is usually directly proportional to how deep the team is in the playoffs and thus how badass it is. However, some players elect to not follow that tradition and some others trim their beards after a loss to change their luck.
Canada's army Pioneers◊: hybrid infantry / military engineers: dozer blades on their AP Cs and training in explosive demolitions (among other things). Referred to as "Lumberjack Commandos" in the linked pic.
Nicholas Flamel and Dr. John Dee◊ the famous alchemist and supposed discoverer of a way to live forever and turn metal into gold and coal into gems and the man who was Queen Elizabeth's right hand man, personal astrologer, spy, and the man who gave James Bond his codename. and both had awesome beards.
Fidel Castro◊. So bad ass a beard, the CIA actually tried a plot to slip him a drug for the express purpose of making it fall out. And failed.
Emperor Hadrian◊ of the Roman Empire. Brought single-handedly beards back into fashion after hundreds of years of clean-shavedness enforced by tradition on the Roman aristocracy. As an avid proponent of the martial virtues and an openly homosexual man, this also made him the first Bear in recorded history.
Julian the Apostate◊ is another bearded Roman emperor, again, against the prevailing fashions of the time. However, he was less successful in promoting beardliness than Hadrian, although not for lack of effort, since he wrote a satire of Christianity known as "Beard Hater," referencing Eastern Christians' making fun of his facial hair.
Dr. Robert T. Bakker - The Deadpan Snarker of paleontologists with the face of Santa Claus. His research propelled the theory of dinosaurs as warm-blooded animals into mainstream paleontology.
A subversion: for a long time the fashion was to be clean-shaven, and then wear a fake beard (one about as realistic as the one in the linked image).
To be fair, that was also the fashion for the hair atop one's head. Ancient Egypt had a problem with head lice, and shaving everything to deprive them of nesting sites was their solution.
Bashir Shahib II "The Great", Emir of Lebanon. He ruled Lebanon in the name of the Ottoman Empire, and played a minor role in thwarting Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign. However, this will be forever overshadowed by his truly epic beard/moustache◊ combo. So epic, that you'd be forgiven for believing that the lining of his robe is part of it.
Photos of Special Forces Operators (Delta Force, SEALs etc.) and their colleagues from around the world often show them with fullgrown beards, supposedly so they can blend in with the local population more easily (who, in recent times, are generally inhabitants of Iraq or Afghanistan, where men commonly have beards). Also, being Special Forces, they can get away with the additional facial hair other troops would be admonished for.