Shampoo didn't quite make the "Best things in life" list.
Hair. Long, wild hair without a moment's consideration in keeping it presentable. If you see someone with this hair then they're almost surely a badass. And not just any badass, either. A character with Barbarian Longhair will be tough, wild and as uncontrolled as their hair. Generally, it's a sort of shorthand for someone who can't be bothered to take care of their appearance because they're too busy kicking ass. Note, however, they almost always have a permashave
regarding the rest of their body hair.
While this look obviously suits a character like a barbarian or certain types of soldiers, it is not limited to groups like these. In fact, because this image suited them so well, it was also a popular style for antiheroes and especially common during the 90s comic book fad of extreme antiheroes. Just one more reason not to mess with Barbarian Longhair.
The Trope Codifier
is not literature per se
, but the cover art
of pulp novels and magazines. Especially the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs
and Robert E. Howard
Compare Braids of Barbarism
, Dreadlock Warrior
and Wild Hair
. Compare and contrast Samurai Ponytail
, another haircut that implies a badass.
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Anime & Manga
- Bleach: Weirdly zig zagged in the case of Kenpachi Zaraki. Zaraki styles his hair into stiff strands with small bells attached at the tips. This process is very time consuming. Then we get a Flash Back to the time before Zaraki became the captain of Squad 11.◊ After the Time Skip, Zaraki has once again started wearing his hair down. It would seem that the more Zaraki embraces his naturally savage fighting style, the more unkempt his hair is.
- Ironically JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has Robert EO Speedwagon which has messy long blond hair, and he was a good brawler.... well, he was one before he met Jonathan Joestar and kicked his ass. More direct examples'd be Gyro Zeppeli, Dio Brando even with his mullet, Pillar Man Kars, and Diavolo
- Jiraiya, the legendary Toad Sage has a long and unkempt white hair down to his waist.
- Madara Uchiha, former head of the Uchiha clan and co-founder of the Hidden Leaf Village, also has long and unkempt hair down to his waist.
- YuYu Hakusho: Yusake's ancestor, the demon king Raizen along with tribal tattoos(fitting because he's the spirit of war, and his primitive traits show it off), and Yusake as well when he takes his physical traits. An extreme example as his hair is a huge, wild mess that goes all the way to the floor.
- Boise in Kaze No Tairiku
- Who, needless to say, looks an awful lot like Guts from Berserk
- Astérix: Many barbarians (Gauls, Goths, Norsemen...) have long, braided hair.
- Groo the Wanderer. The title character is a barbarian with long hair. He is very stupid and exceptionally skilled with the sword.
- The Mighty Thor: Long unkempt blond mane, Being a Norse God, and armed with Mjolnir Equals pure badassery.
- In The Eye of Argon, the protagonist, northern barbarian Grignr, has long red hair. It's also described as "robust", but given the author's attitude towards adjectives, that could mean almost anything.
- Martín Fierro is described as having thick, long black hair, and a great beard.
- Fafhrd, the tall northern barbarian from Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, is described as having long, flowing red hair. The Mouser, who hails from the civilized south, often comments on Fafhrd's unkempt appearance.
- The Named Men, Northern barbarians in The First Law series typically wear their hair long and don't cut it. One of them, Shivers gets an Important Haircut in Best Served Cold and for a time wears it in the style of the Italian Renaissance Fantasy Counterpart Culture in which he's ended up. He then lets it grow long again following his Face-Heel Turn.
- In the Discworld illustrated novel, The Last Hero, Cohen the Barbarian is bald, but Truckle the Uncivil, part of his "Silver Horde" is shown with scraggly hair growing past his shoulders.
- In Lord of the Rings, the hobbits initially do not trust Strider due to his barbarian appearance. The movies keep Aragorn (and most of the rest of the cast) attractively unkempt throughout.
- Tarzan: Being raised by apes, the titular character doesn't pay much attention to how his hair looks.
- Conan the Barbarian; Conan is consistently described as this, with it square cut across his forehead.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire , the Dothraki are a nomadic warrior race whose men shave their heads after being defeated in battle. So you can tell how badass a Dothraki is simply by looking at how long his hair is. Khal Drogo, a powerful Dothraki warlord, has never been defeated in battle, and his hair hangs down to his thighs.
- Ur Example: The Epic of Gilgamesh describes the hair on Enkidu's head as being long like a woman's.
- Highlander likes this for the older flashbacks, though Duncan sported it in the modern day too, when it wasn't in a ponytail. He and Connor both had it during their clan days-and the Scots were often considered 'barbarians'/savages by people like the British. Methos and the other Horsemen also sported long hair during the Bronze Age scenes.
- Jason Momoa pulls this off either as an actual barbarian (e.g. Conan, Khal Drogo) or someone who initially appears to be one but is actually a highly-trained soldier (e.g. Ronon Dex). Having excellent physique and being 6'5" helps.
- Teal'c appears to be heading this way by Stargate Atlantis.
- The Uthgardt and Icewind Dale barbarians in the Forgotten Realms are usually depicted this way (ref. the usual depiction of Wulfgar, son of Beornegar on the cover art of the Drizzt Do'Urden books).
- Warhammer: Warriors of Chaos are from the local equivalent of Scandinavia, and of course have long, unkempt hair.
- The barbarian Chaos Marauders do at least. Fully ascended Chaos Warriors tend to wear all-enclosing armour, so their haircuts are rarely ever seen. But the few that are are almost all completely bald and hairless.
- Actually no. Several Chaos Champions from the background actually do keep their hair and beards long after ascending, Wulfrik keeps a scalplock and beard, Sigvald still keeps his hair naturally long and Valkia also keeps long hair. Not to mention Chaos Champions in the BL novels, such as Einarr Steelfist, Cormac Bloodaxe and Alfkael the Aesling.
- The shamanic wizards of the Amber Order tend to have long unkempt hair and beards as a sign of their animalistic natures and proximity to the world of the wild.
- Ditto for Nordlanders and Middenlanders, though technically a subversion in that they come from the most powerful civilized empire in the setting, the wild beards are a conscious choice made to honour their heritage as powerful warriors. It may also be due to their proximity to the far north and being somewhat influenced by the practices of Chaos worshiping barbarians from Norsca and elsewhere.
- Warhammer 40,000: Most Space Marines go with Bald of Awesome or crew cuts. The White Scars and Space Wolves, being Space Mongolians and Space Vikings respectively, obvioudly avert it.
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow has Alucard (Trevor Belmont) who has the trademark appearance of the Alucard (platinum blond/Long white hair, long coat, and proficiency with the sword), but here, those traits were kept, with a twist, giving him a No Shirt, Long Jacket, an unkempt mane, and a new sword, the Crissaegrim, the Infinity+1 Sword from Symphony of the Night. The Lycan Lord Of Shadow Cornell, combines it with Forehead of Doom, Trevor Belmont when he was alive, and Lord Dracula have it too.
- Dracula is kind of amusing, because that way he looks like an aged Prince of Persia
- Used extensively with male Nords in The Elder Scrolls, given that they're basically expies of the Norse. Particularly prominent in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is set in their homeland.
- Also true of male Norns in Guild Wars 2, also expies of the Norse.
- Leo Whitefang from Guilty Gear
- NIER: Father Nier the way he fights it's brutal, and while he keeps his hair in a ponytail most of the time, is not hard to think how he'd look with his hair untied.
- The Conqueror from The Last Remnant, don't be fooled by his hair covering one eye he will destroy you.
- Brahms is a vampire with long black hair, that controls blood and is a great ally. And to make matters better, he's a Genius Bruiser, so is far from stupid, and knows a lot from the nature of the world and the manipulations of Odin. In the sequel he disguises as a mercenary called as Dylan, he uses a BFS and his long hair remains.
- Conan The Adventurer: As everyone in-universe is constantly reminding us, Conan is "a big dumb barbarian". He also has thick and untamed shoulder-length hair.
- Male Gargoyles (of the cartoon of the same name) used this trope (aside from the hairless ones). Goliath, Brooklyn, and Coldstone are the principal examples.
- Among the old Germanics, only free men were allowed to wear their hair long.
- Ditto for samurai. The ones who served a single master kept their pates shaved and the rest of their hair in a topknot. Samurai who were freelance or unemployed often let their hair grow out but still kept it in a topknot.
- Among the Merovingians, long hair was a symbol of kingship and so important that every king or prince who was forced to give up his claim to the throne, had his hair cut off. At one point during the almost constant civil war between the princes, the queen, who was protecting two of the infant princes in her castle, recieved a package containing a dagger and scissors. Given only these two options, she chose the dagger.
- The Celts were viewed as such by the Romans. Among themselves, long hair was viewed as badass and warriors took pride in elaborate hairstyles.
- Invoked by many Heavy Metal fans and musicians who evoke barbarian long hair as they base their attitude and appeaarence in Germanic, Nordic an Celtic tribes, specially noticeable with fans of Black Metal where long hair is almost a requisite.
- Towards the 80's occurred an unavoidable and still prevalent crossover of metalic and harcore punk sounds, so barbaric long hair became a stock hairstyle for male punks as well. Chances are that if a guy from the Harcore scene does not have a short crop, he probably grows it very long.
- What do you get when you cross this trope with Bald of Awesome? Why, the Cossacks were fond of it.