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Delinquent Hair
Something tells me that he isn't supportive of the system...

In some cultures, hair dyed unusual colors is considered a sign of delinquency - in the west, this means colours such as blue, pink, green, and similar shades that don't usually appear in nature. In other cultures, where hair shades are typically more similar from person to person, this can include hair tinted or lightened to red or blonde as well. There are certain hair styles which are strongly associated with delinquent or punk behaviour - mohawks, pompadours, certain spiky styles, and a completely shaven head.

In Japanese and other Asian works, this may have something to do with repression of excessive individualism in Asian schools - most evidently in Japan. Of course, this can lead to unfortunate misunderstandings with people who naturally have lighter hair colors.

In Western cultures, unusual hair colors are less strongly associated with delinquency than they were in the past, though they are still more commonly worn by teenagers and young adults than by middle aged or older people - with the exception of the "blue rinse". However, the stigma with certain hairstyles remains, so you would probably still be hesitant about bringing home a punk with a blue mohawk to your parents.

Outside of contemporary times, dyeing hair was still significant, but for different reasons. Less than a century ago, dyeing hair at all was considered a sign of badness because it was dishonest. This is why evil blondes are often dyed. During Restoration England, natural blondes commonly dyed their hair darker because everyone would think they had dyed it blonde in the first place. (This was partly because of the dangers of earlier dyes: dyeing your hair risked your health for temporary good looks.)

This trope usually does not show up in settings where You Gotta Have Blue Hair. See also Blond Guys Are Evil; in the case of Delinquent Hair, it's not that blonde guys are evil, it's that evil guys are more likely to dye their hair blonde. A common attribute of The Quincy Punk, subtrope of Face of a Thug when it's natural. If the hair keeps being re-dyed, it overlaps with Kaleidoscope Hair. Compare Make Up Is Evil.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Rokudenashi Blues has the entire main cast as examples of this trope. It even becomes the focus of one chapter, where an Evil Teacher makes them change their hair back to normal.
  • In Bleach:
    • Averted in the case of Ichigo and Orihime who have been bullied (and in Orihime's case, had her hair hacked off) for their naturally (but very oddly) coloured hair but who do their best not to cause trouble (Ichigo is less successful at this).
    • Played for Laughs when the Soul Reapers show up at Ichigo's school, wearing school uniforms. Ikkaku has his pants rolled up, no socks, and a wooden sword. Renji wears his uniform relatively normal, but with his shirt unbuttoned a bit, revealing the tattoos on his chest, while also wearing a bandanna on his forehead. Onlooking students comment on Yumichika and Rangiku not looking very threatening, and Toshiro and Renji looking odd. Then they point out the scary bald guy. Ikkaku was not amused.
    • Tenjirou Kirinji of Squad Zero has an enormous hooked pompadour.
  • Angel Densetsu has a Deconstruction: genuine delinquent Takehisa has naturally light brown hair. He got a lot of flak for this, so he decided to go the whole nine yards. He dyed it blond and put it up in spikes to be even more delinquent looking.
  • At the beginning of The Twelve Kingdoms, Youko is criticized for her naturally red hair, and her mother tries to make her dye it a more unassuming shade so that people won't assume she's a delinquent.
  • Hanamichi Sakuragi from Slam Dunk is an ex school delinquent who has a bright red (dyed) pompadour. Out of his still-school gangster friends, one has a blond Funny Afro and two have smaller pompadours. When Sakuragi commits a HUGE mistake that costs Shohoku an important victory, he shaves his hair to buzzcut levels but keeps dying it red.
  • In Fruits Basket, Hatsuharu got into trouble at school for white on top, black on bottom natural hair coloring, as people believed he dyed his hair. On a non-magically coloured note, Arisa Uotani also has lighter hair, of a blonde-brown shade, and was (and is still considered) a delinquent. Kyouko, Tohru's mother, also had dyed red hair and was considered a delinquent, too.
  • Kuwabara from YuYu Hakusho.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, after Goku and Gohan achieve Super Saiyan status, Chichi sees them for the first time and is dismayed that they've become delinquents. This happens again with Goten (only to be unfortunately translated as "monster" in the first Funimation Z dub) and even becomes a Running Gag in the biography mode in a video game.
  • Makoto Kino of Sailor Moon isn't actually a delinquent, but her tall height, strength, long-skirted school uniform, and naturally curly light brown hair all make her fellow students perceive her as this.
  • Shizuo in Durarara!! dyed his hair blond to differentiate himself from his similar looking (but diametrically opposite in personality) brother, and kind of fits since he has an extreme Hair-Trigger Temper and works for loan sharks.
    • It's revealed in a side story that bleaching his hair was Tom's idea: Tom figured that looking the part of a delinquent would deter other kids from picking fights with Shizuo. Shizuo opposed the idea at first (rage disorder aside, Shizuo's about as far away from the delinquent persona as one could get), but eventually changed his mind when he realized just how much Tom cared about his well-being.
    • Masaomi, an easygoing class clown type and former gang leader, dyed his hair blond which is ironic since his former gang is yellow.
    • Walker might fit too. He definitely satisfied the delinquent part of it, but since he might be biracial, his blond hair could be evidence of Phenotype Stereotype.
    • Miscellaneous thugs in the series, such as those in the Blue Squares, often have dyed hair.
  • In Love Pistols, the Face of a Thug delinquent friend of Inukami has red hair and an outrageous pompadour. No info whether it's dyed or not.
  • Momo Adachi, the main character of Peach Girl, is assumed to be a slutty kogal as she tans easily and her hair bleached due to her being on the school swim team and thus around chlorinated water a lot. She wishes she looked more like her friend Sae, who is petite, pale, and delicate (but a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing).
  • Kitamura gives it a go in Toradora!. He dies his hair blonde, though his usual hair color appeared as dark green(it was considered black In-Universe).
  • Midori Days has a blond delinquent protagonist, though I can't remember if he bleaches it.
  • In Detective Conan, a case is solved because of the differences between the styles of two writers. One was old-fashioned (lovers standing in the rain, separated by a pole was a common scene in his novels) and his delinquents almost always had bleached hair.
  • Also, Kouichi from Bunny Drop dated a red haired delinquent girl, dying his hair red too during this rebellious phase. When he grew out of it, his hair went black again.
  • Baptistin of Gankutsuou has red hair in a pompadour style.
  • Ran, the main character of Super Gals, continually gets flack from her teacher for having bleached blonde hair with a red streak. During one story arc, she dies her hair orange, and a number of freshmen follow suit, much to the faculty's dismay. In an attempt to stem the tide of ko-gals, Naka-sen promises to cut her summer homework in half if she dyes her hair back. Instead of going back to her original black, however, Ran goes back to her usual blonde style.
  • Discussed in K-On! during its yearbook pictures episode; the girls' school requires students whose hair isn't black or dark brown to bring their baby pictures to prove that their hair color is natural, and anyone who fails to do so is forced to dye their hair before their picture are taken.
  • Sunohara in CLANNAD has the bleached blond variety (explicitly stated to be dyed, as opposed to a case of You Gotta Have Blue Hair like everyone else). He stops bleaching it when he gets a job.
  • Nitori from Wandering Son gets mistaken for this once he dyes his hair from a dark brown to a bright red. It's actually quite similar to another manga by the same mangaka, where a character with a design very much like Nitori dyed his hair green.. It only lasts one chapter though.
  • As mentioned above, the protagonist of Shikii No Juunin dyes his hair green. He's a rebellious, matter-of-fact middle schooler who smokes and doesn't want to go to school. Nitori is an Expy of him in design, though due to the different art-styles, it isn't that apparent.
  • Eyeshield 21 has a lot of this. Two of the Ha-Ha brothers and Hiruma are bleached blonde, Agon wears his hair in dreads, and Musashi isn't a delinquent but is supposed to look like one with his mohawk.
  • The protagonist of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is wrongly assumed to be a delinquent by most of his peers due to his naturally blond hair.
  • In Fist of the North Star, mohawks are the calling cards of villains whose fate is to be messily killed via martial art techniques that are capable of popping human beings like a zit.
  • Pretty much the majority of the cast of Beelzebub has this going on. Makes sense, considering it's a series about an entire school of delinquents. Tojo and Kanzaki both have orange, spiky hair.
    • Oga inverts the trope by having brown hair while being one of the most powerful humans in the series. Furuichi also inverts it by having silver hair, but could have gone to the non-delinquent Saint Ishiyama if not for hanging out with Oga all the time.
    • Himekawa has silver hair kept constantly in a pompadour. He even sleeps with it in the pompadour style. It's apparently hereditary.
  • While she's not a delinquent, Eiko from the manga Cousin dyed her hair brown in early high school and started changing in personality.
  • In Kyo Koi O Hajimemasu, Tsubaki describes that her whole school looks like it's composed of delinquents. Kyota himself has long, unkempt bleached hair. It looks neater when Tsubaki cuts it, but it's still pretty delinquent-y. It actually contrasts his excellent grades.
  • Miki from Life is implied to have dyed her hair.
  • Discussed in Cromartie High School. In an early chapter Kamiyama takes advice from a book on how to be a delinquent and bleaches his hair. The subject also comes up a couple other times with Hayashida's purple mohawk which turns out to be a wig that he takes off at home.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has both Honda and hired thug Suwatari (Kemo) who have railroad spike hair. Kind of subverted with Jounouchi; despite being a delinquent, his blond hair and messy pompadour-esque hairstyle seem to be natural.
  • Nakanojo from Nichijou gets mistaken for this. His mohawk is natural, though.
  • The title character of Space Dandy sports a Regent pompadour, which he's quite proud (and protective) of.

    Comic Books 
  • Daken, the villainous son of Wolverine wears his hair in a mohawk.
  • While not often seen, underneath his mask Bane sports a short mohawk.
  • Noah St. Germain, the guy at the top of the criminal world in Brownsville as seen in Morbius vol. 2, has a blue mohawk.

    Fan Fic 

    Film 
  • One of the revivifiable Mooks in The 6th Day has her hair dyed a different color every time she is brought back. She even complains about having to get it dyed (and getting her ears pierced) when revived.
  • The hackers who show up to Neo's door near the beginning of The Matrix all have strange hair colours. They're clearly delinquent-type characters.
  • Subverted in The Boy With Green Hair. Peter is looked on with suspicion by the rest of the town for his green hair, but he just woke up like that one morning.
  • In the Japanese film Akunin, the troubled, violent Shimizu has bleached blond hair, and when Mitsuyo says that she "never expected [she] would be going for a drive with a blond guy like [him]", "blond guy" seems almost like a euphemism for "bad boy".
  • The eponymous character of Coraline has blue hair in a setting where everyone else has normally-colored hair, speculated to be an attempt to get her parents' attention.
  • In the 2011 film Warrior: Mad Dog sports a colorful mohawk to let us know that he's a Jerk Ass. He even colors it camouflage for his fight with Tommy as a Take That to all the servicemen in the audience.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, it is shown that Toad sported a mohawk in his youth.

    Literature 
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Her Father's Daughter, hair dye is a mark against Eileen's honesty.
    I never knew Eileen to be honest about anything in all her life unless the truth served her better than an evasion. Her hair was not honest color and it was not honest curl.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, Anne tries to dye her hair black with a peddler's dye. It turns her hair green instead, and she resolves to let the incident cure her vanity.
  • Spyder, one of the army recruits in M.Y.T.H. Inc in Action, dyes her hair in neon stripes. Of all the New Meat, she's the one with the biggest problem with authority.

    Live Action Televison 
  • In the Pie in the Sky episode "The Policeman's Daughter", the eponymous character goes through a rebellious phase that includes running away from home, taking up with undesirable people, and dying her hair pink.
  • Lead character Gentaro from Kamen Rider Fourze puts his hair into a rather prominent pompadour (as can be seen in the opening credits) to complete his appearance, which is that of a stereotypical delinquent...from the 1980s. Despite appearances, he is a friendly, outgoing guy who's stated goal is to become friends with everyone in the school. Does occasionally get him in trouble with the school's would be disciplinarian Oosugi.
    • JK, from the same show, manages to escape any censuring of his died and heavily styled hair until an episode with a ridiculously overpowered Student Council, which forces both JK and Gentaro to actually wear uniforms and have toned-down haircuts.
  • Max Asher, from MythQuest, is an older, rather quiet and reserved man. Evidently he has this opinion of Spiky Hair. Shortly after his teenage friend Alex changes his hair to impress a girl, Max's first reaction is, "My God! What happened to you? You look like you've been in a fight."

    Manhwa 
  • In The Breaker, all the other (Korean) students are afraid of Jinie because of her red hair.

    Pinball 
  • Blue Beard from Banzai Run has a short-trimmed mohawk.

    Theatre 
  • In The Curious Savage, Ethel P. Savage invokes this by dying her hair blue as part of her becoming a Senior Delinquent (in her grown up stepchildren's eyes).

    Video Games 
  • Persona 4 has Kanji, who, after after years of feeling like an outcast, began dying his hair platinum blond and wearing dark clothes, causing many to think he's part of a gang, as his mother explains to the protagonist. In the epilogue of Persona 4 Golden, his hair is back to it's original black color and he wears a simple white shirt.
  • Sharla from the Purple Moon games uses enough bleach and hairspray — along with purple makeup and leather jackets — to give this impression off. She cuts class and acts out because her father walked out on their poor family, which also prompted her makeover; when we see her in Secret Paths to the Sea, it's just after her father left, and she has long, plain red hair and dresses conservatively.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • According to this article, Japanese students with tinted or long hair have been known have had their hair shorn on the spot by teachers, and one middle school in the city of Kitakyushu once took aside the kids with tinted hair and had staff in a designated area spray it back to black. This was broadcast on a news program.
    • Happened to Yoshiki Hayashi during his high school years. It seemed his teacher really didn't like blonde, spiky hair.
  • In US and UK schools dying hair "unnatural colors" (which often includes brighter red shades) is prohibited in dress codes, probably because of this trope, as are "extreme" hair styles.


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