Money well spent.
"What is one of the funniest parts of the movie is how they made Ben (Kingsley) wear this snow white Bob Barker hair-met hairpiece. It is so goddamn ridiculous I almost expected to hear him talk about spaying and neutering your cats. Why? Why did they need to put that on his head? ...I buy dinosaurs riding pogo sticks before I believe Ben Kingsley woke up in the morning, went to Hair Club for men and said 'Gimme the Doc Brown and some hair gel!'"
—Miles Antwiler on A Sound of Thunder
The ridiculously bad and often obvious toupee that adorns comedic character and men in mid life crises to show off their folly and reveal the character's desire to maintain a facade of authority or manliness (it might not even have to be an incredibly bad toupee but one revealed comically to such an end). Can be Played for Drama
if the character is wearing a cheap wig/toupee due to chemotheraphy or a horrific accident that cost the victim his or her hair (like a fire or a chemical mishap).
For other types of fake hair, look here.
Anime & Manga
- There was an older male player (who was extremely sensitive about his lack of hair) in a go club that Shindou Hikaru constantly taunted for a while early on. He once put an empty stone container onto the man's head to grind around, and got the hairpiece caught a bit. This caused it to slip off, and the man to dash out of the building with tear-jets flying, but also his mother to scold him. The man shows up on another night in a different-styled wig but is only shamed again by Hikaru. Amusing indubitably, but the point was to further illustrate what a Jerk Ass the boy was at that point.
- The first time, though, was meant to teach the man a lesson on bullying other Go players and the second time was somewhat by accident due to a Spit Take from Hikaru.
- Falling under the "desire to maintain a facade of authority" category is the principal of Nichijou's high school. He's bald from the start, with only that little bit of hair going from ear to ear behind his head. However, the third and final episodes of the series show that even this little bit of hair is in fact a toupee, to the utter shock of witnesses.
- Tián Xué-Fāng from Fist of the Blue Sky has a toupee made of metal that's so heavy, he has trouble moving around with it bolted on his head.
- The Dandy's (the comic, not the trope) Beryl The Peryl had her father's wig coming off as a running gag.
- One issue of The X-Files comic features a character with an obvious toupee to draw attention away from the fact that he has a trepanning hole in his forehead, covered by a latex plug.
- Francine's amazingly embarrassing Uncle Maury, in Strangers in Paradise.
- In All-Star Superman, Clark finally delivers comeuppance to Steve Lombard by surreptitiously setting Lombard's toupee on fire. Clark often quietly used his powers to make Lombard's pranks backfire in the Bronze Age but he was never quite this cruel.
Films — Animated
- In Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation Counselor Troi says "I sense something terrible is about to happen" just before a stoned Commander Riker yanks off her wig. She runs off screaming, and Riker tries to slip the wig onto Picard's famously bald head while his back is turned.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Victor Quatermaine's impressive head of hair is sucked up by the BunVac 2000. It is later replaced by a rabbit.
- In Frozen, the Duke of Weasel Town (it's Weselton!) wears a toupee that comes off whenever he makes a sudden movement or bends over.
- A movie with Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei and Billy Zane called Only You where Zane's character enters a restaurant with flowing auburn locks and sharp manner of dress and makes his move on the movie's Love Interest (Tomei). Then the protagonist (Downey Jr) turns up and gets into a scrap with him and then his long flowing locks go flying off.
- Often, when someone wants to make a sketch or joke about Donald Trump, they may take the easy angle and mock the obvious toupee.
- Meet the Spartans did this where he fires Spider-Man and cuts his web, but he sticks it back onto his head and pulls the wig off.
- Lisa Lampanelli did this funnier than anyone: "What do you say to a barber to get him to cut your hair like that? I fucked your daughter?"
- In one Sluggy Freelance strip, his toupee was revealed to be a live squirrel.
- On the DC Comics front, In Superman, we see Lex Luthor's array of wigs before we see his face to give us a sense of his vanity and we never see him without one on. Then when he is finally brought low by defeat by Superman and delivered straight to prison the wigs comes off at his moment of humiliation.
- Since the bad toupee or sudden reveal both lend themselves well to visual humor, it was a popular trope in silent movies. Laurel and Hardy would often make use of it, particularly when worn by their frequent supporting actor Jimmy Finlayson who would also wear a fake moustache for similar purposes.
- There's also the film Harold's Toupee starring Louis Simon
- Also Harold Lloyd used it in the cliffhanger classic Safety Last! where a mouse gets onto Lloyd's characters leg which he shakes off, drops down the side of the building and knocks off the toupee of someone looking out of a lower window.
- Francis's hairpiece in The Goonies. It's especially bad after the various times it gets knocked off his head and he puts it back on.
- In Goodfellas, Morris sells wigs for a living and praises their reliability in a commercial shown on TV. Seconds later his own wig can't endure the beating delivered by wiseguy Jimmy Conway, though.
- The Indian cricket official in Save Your Legs wears a ginger one that fools no one.
- Liar Liar has a scene with Jim Carrey's character saying this to one of the board members of his company. It actually wasn't horrible, but we still got this:
Fletcher Reede: That is the worst hair piece I've ever seen! I don't know whether to comb it, or scrape it off with a shovel and bury it in lime.
- Jumpin Jack Flash. After being injected with Truth Serum Whoopi Goldberg's character tells her Jerk Ass boss what she thinks of him, culminating in her yanking the toupee off his head. Embarrassed, the boss steals a hat and rushes off. At the end of the movie he turns up with his bald head, having clearly accepted that everyone knows so there's no point in wearing one.
- Used as a throwaway gag in Scary Movie 3. The psychic Creepy Child whom Cindy is caring for goes around Brenda's funeral service giving people cynical and mocking advice ("smoke all you want, you're gonna be hit by a car next week anyway"). He tells the guy with an obvious toupee that he's not fooling anyone.
- A Running Gag in Nothing In Common is how Charlie (Hector Elizondo) tries wearing one bad toupee after another, until he finally decides to go back to his natural bald look.
Lorraine: (after Charlie has left because he's uncomfortable with her staring at his head) That rug is the worst! Do you think he realizes it?
- In the anthology film Body Bags, Richard in the "Hair" segment gets a really bad toupee to cover up his hair loss that his girlfriend and his hair dresser both dismiss as just making him look insecure.
- In Wolf Of Wall Street, one of Nicky "Rugrat" Koskoff's defining characteristics is his horrible toupee, which he seems not to be aware of.
- Elliot Carlin, on The Bob Newhart Show, a patient of Bob's, wears a piece. Just before Bob was about to conduct a group therapy session on live TV, the director gets on the PA and tells the stage manager to "get some more makeup on the guy with the toupee".
- Grantly Budgen in Waterloo Road. The toupee is eventually destroyed in a hair salon accident.
- Part of the plot of the "Michael Ellis" episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Eric Idle is trying to return the ant he purchased from Harrod's and at one point is directed to the toupee department. All the salespeople in the department wear them, they all don't match, and the salespeople are blind to the fact.
- Special mention must go to the Amazing Stories episode "Hell Toupee", where the toupee is possessed and gives its wearer a compulsion to kill lawyers. This idea and the pun have been used elsewhere:
- An episode of Night Court has a grade school principal wearing such a toupee as a plaintiff. The defendant is a disgruntled prodigy student who programmed the school gym's scoreboard to publicly announce that the principal wore a toupee. Upon hearing this, nobody in the courtroom could keep a straight face.
- Later in the episode, the kid stole said toupee off the principal's head. The principal started to call his toupee supplier to get a new one but Bull talked him out of it, saying a bald head drives women wild.
- Averted in another episode where Bull wins his choice of a free toupee and goes with the genuinely stylish (and indestructible) "Shatner Turbo 2000", which instantly turns him into a Chick Magnet.
- Showed up in How I Met Your Mother when Marshall, having shaved some of his hair off in a brief fit of insanity, needed something to cover his head before going down the aisle on his wedding day. One of the guests at the wedding has one of these toupees that just might work, but, come hell or high water, the guy refuses to admit he's wearing a toupee at all. Eventually Barney just snatches it off his head.
- There was a Seinfeld episode where George got a toupee that went all over the place. Both he and Kramer thought it looked great, Jerry referred to it as George's 'hair hat', while Elaine took matters into her own hands....
Elaine: I DON'T LIKE THIS THING! AND HERE'S WHAT I'M DOING WITH IT! [throws it out Jerry's window]
- In Red Dwarf, this is played with in the episode "Out of Time", which featured the time-traveling epicure versions of the crew. Kryten, the android, looks exactly like what he is — an android — in the main series (justified because "humans have always found exact duplicates very disturbing.") As an epicure, however, the new Kryten has to "blend in", and he shows up in a pale blue suit and a ridiculous toupee, which incidentally does nothing to conceal the rather cubic nature of his head. Later in the episode, when they must decide whether to fight their future selves because they hate everything they stand for, or give them what they want in order to survive, Kryten uses it as a justification for fighting:
Rimmer: Then I say fight ... better dead than smeg.
Lister: Ye-ess. Cat?
Cat: Better dead than sofa-size butt.
Kryten: Better anything than that toupee!
- Also used in the episode "Kryten", where they pick up Kryten, but think that they are instead picking up three hot girls, when the ship's computer Holly is the one to "dress up" by donning a toupee, and again in the song "Tongue-Tied" which has the toupee on Holly's head again.
- In an early episode, Lister notes that mankind doesn't have the technology to create a toupee that doesn't get big laughs.
- Kevin wears one to Jim and Pam's wedding in The Office (US).
- Several appear in The Goodies episode "Scoutrageous'' when Graeme and Bill are trying to earn their Wig Spotter's Badge.
- Principal Caplan in early seasons of Power Rangers had a toupee which would sometimes be knocked off as a running gag.
- In Charmed, Paige had to deal with a Jerkass coworker and she growled about her toupee and accidentally orbed it off of his head.
- Zacarias of Brazilian comedy group Os Trapalhões was bald, and used a toupee that was generally spoofed or stolen.
- The Golden Girls' Stanley Zbornak frequently wears one of these, at least in the early episodes. It is the source of great amusement for the women.
- In The Dick Van Dyke Show Alan Brady wore a bad toupee. At one point Laura gave this away on national TV, though really Everybody Knew Already.
- In the "Police Officer" episode of the British Mockumentary series People Like Us, the police captain is wearing such an obvious and horrible toupee that the documentarian has trouble keeping a straight face — especially when the captain uses several hair-related Double Entendres in the course of discussing the life of a police officer.
- On the "Advanced Gay" episode during the third season of Community, Pierce's father Cornelius wore an ivory toupee, due to regular toupees being made from the hair of "godless Orientals". The ivory hairpiece, quote, is the only way to be assured of true follicular purity while still identifying oneself as a man of means.
- Mr Bronson in Grange Hill. He strangely stopped being a complete bastard the day he had to send it to the cleaners.
- The classic Doctor Who episode "Revelation of the Daleks" has Mr. Jobel, the sleazy head embalmer of a funeral home planet. As he dies, he falls onto his back and his toupee falls open like a clam shell.
- An Obligatory Joke in spoofs of William Shatner in Star Trek: The Original Series. For instance Jim Carrey did a skit for In Living Color! in which Captain Kirk's toupee flipped over his face with every Screen Shake.
- On Malcolm in the Middle, Lois gets fed up with her boss and quits. As she walks out of his office, she tosses his toupee to her shocked coworkers and states "Velcro. I win the pool."
- Danger 5. Used as Hairy Hammerspace by the President of the World to hide his Sexy Secretary. It's no more insane than anything else that happens in the series.
- A slightly odd aversion crops up as the B-plot to an episode of London's Burning when Sicknote goes to work in one. It's actually a very convincing one, to the point where you can only tell because he was bald in previous episodes, but the rest of Blue Watch -and his wife- still find it utterly hilarious. Poor guy just can't catch a break, can he?
- There was a weeklong story involving Roger of FoxTrot getting himself a bad toupee. His wife Andy is less than pleased:
Roger: Andy, I can't believe you don't like my hair piece.
Andy: Did I say I didn't like it?
Andy: Then don't put words in my mouth.
Roger: Fine. (Silence) Andy, I can't believe you think my toupee looks like roadkill.
Andy: Unkempt roadkill.
- Although Jon from Garfield has only a receding hairline, he's had a couple incidents... Like the time he went swimming and there was an uproar when somebody yelled "Rat in the pool!". In Garfield's words, there are some places you just can't wear a chest toupee.
- This was he defining characteristic of Dick Tracy bad guy Rughead.
- There's an example in Dominic Deegan, with the punchline "Toupee" (as the speaker scored the winning touch in a duel, when one traditionally says "Touche", while simultaneously removing the wig).
- In El Goonish Shive, the principal of Moperville North has a toupee that isn't too bad in and of itself, but when combined with the rest of his look, it makes him look like Hitler. Ellen told him so and later he ditches it and goes with a comb over instead.
- In Schlock Mercenary, a newsman has the toupee sucked off his head by his interviewee with a reverse-thrust hairdryer. Someone from offstage yells "Fresh scalp-cat to stage 3!"
- In comic 126 of Unwinders Tall Comics, Unwinder notices Dr. Minivan not wearing his wig. Turns out lice now live inside the wig and became sentient because of Dr. Minivan's drug testing.
Truth in Television
- Despite Matt Groening hating this trope (it was the reason why he didn't want Principal Skinner to have one, though Burns somehow has one◊, possibly as a symbol of his vanity), The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror IX has a segment called "Hell Toupee" where Homer gets hair implants from the scalp of the recently executed Snake. Not only does the scalp contain its originator's murderous intent, it shares his Surfer Dude accent.
- In "Homer Defined", Mr. Burns calls up the news station to dissuade 'rumors' of an impending meltdown. A stock photo of Burns shows him wearing an obvious toupee.
- One of Bart's blackboard punishment lines is "The principal's toupee is not a Frisbee."
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Friend In Deed", Cranky Doodle gets one from Pinkie Pie after she accidentally demolishes his original hairpiece. Though he completely loves it.
- Gargamel wears a wig on his date with Evelyn the enchantress which immediately falls off his head as he enters her house, though his date doesn't really notice, in The Smurfs episode "Gargamel's Sweetheart".
- Animaniacs: Dr. Scratchansniff ends up wearing a rather obvious toupee when he went on a date at the drive-in. Made even funnier seeing that it appeared to be several sizes too small for his immense head. When the Warners come in to crash his date, Yakko, at one point, comments, "By the way, something died on your head."
- SWAT Kats has Mayor Manx, who wear a toupee that doesn't even match his hair color, and will frequently fly off.
- Rand Paul.
- William Shatner, of course - depending on the era. His current ones aren't too bad, but back in the days of Star Trek II and III... and then in IV (The One With The Whales), he dives into a body of water....
- The story goes that Patrick Stewart was a little unsure of why they would cast a bald, middle-aged Englishman as TNG's Captain. Before the audition, he had an "awful" hairpiece shipped from London, but a disgusted Gene Roddenberry ordered him to take it off. In his own words.
- Donald Trump's hair(piece) is a frequent target for comedy. One would think a man that wealthy could afford something that doesn't look like he's wearing a dead tribble on his head.
- Former Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant was famous for his eccentricities (e.g. wearing an all-denim suit on the floor of the House) and his awful toupee (which looked like it was floating). He also turned out to be one of the most corrupt members of Congress in recent history, being one of the only 20 members of Congress and only four from the House ever to have been expelled from the body.
- During Battle of The Network Stars back in the Seventies, the first show was hosted by sports journalist Howard Cosell, who was rather notorious for his toupee. After her team won a tug-of-war contest, Lynda Carter, who somehow didn't know it was a rug, began celebrating and poured a bottle of champagne over his head, ruining his toupee, and royally pissing him off.
- Andy Warhol used to wear rather apparent rug, initially to hide the fact that he was balding, but it soon became part of his signature look.
- Elton John has been going bald since at least the mid-seventies, and has employed all manner of methods to conceal as much. Some of his rugs have looked as real as a three-dollar bill, while others have been shockingly successful.
- Many paparazzi photos exist of John Travolta without his rug◊. And given the rise of extremely high-resolution photography, the netting or seams of his various 'pieces are often fairly evident when he DOES wear them.
- Words defy explaining the extremely shoddy rug of televangelist Ernest Angley.