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.
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
- 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.
- In Battlefield Earth both humans and aliens alike are sporting long flowing un-groomed locks.
- In the archetypal Conan the Barbarian (1982), Conan sports unkempt, shoulder-length hair.
- Mad Max (or "Road Warrior") many of the bad guys have grungy hair-metal mullets and in the sequel, even Tina Turner has barbarian hair.
- In Waterworld (1995) Pretty much everybody has barbarian hair except for the villain who is bald.
- Mathayus the Akkadian and Balthazar the Nubian in The Scorpion King. The Big Bad Memnon also has a long braid but appears to represent civilization.
- The titular character in Kull The Conqueror has this, although the hair isn't overly long.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.