Hair Color Dissonance

Cartoon hair colors tend to be a little on the loud side. For instance, it's not uncommon for old people, normally thought of as grey-haired in Real Life, to be purple-haired. Or perhaps for seemingly black-haired characters to really, upon closer inspection, have blue highlights in their hair. This can also be done for art reasons, as solid black tends to look very poor in animation.

Long-term exposure to these exaggerated hues will eventually make characters' hair look more "normal"-colored than it actually is. After looking at garish hues for a few minutes, your mind's going to fill in a few details and tone things down a bit. The John or Jane Q. Every viewer might see the blue-haired Mr. Burns after watching an episode of The Simpsons, and yet manage to remember him as gray-haired. Their toned-down, more "realistic" mental image of Burns has gray rather than blue hair.

You can find this phenomenon with all sorts of hair colors that are separate from what we perceive them to be. For instance, lavender-haired characters can also appear to be gray haired. People with bright orange hair can appear blond, redheads can appear to be brunettes, and those with hair in all sorts of odd grayish tones can just look like they have mouse or light brown hair.

Animal characters are not safe from this phenomenon either. For example, animal characters with black fur or feathers in real life, like black cats and crows, appear dark grey in cartoons. Also, grey fur represented by blue or purple occurs frequently on animal characters.

This is typically not even realized or noticed by viewers until attention is called to it in some way, such as using the inkdrop tool in a paint program over a graphic from the show in question or having another person point out the character's "true" hair color. Adding to the issue is that many artists, especially those who often work in specialty mediums like black and white, may have multiple ways of coloring the exact same characters.

In a way, it's a form of Weirdness Censor. Alternately, it's similar to the practice of exaggerating motions and forms to make them look right when animated; when trying to exactly mimic realism, it can come across as slightly off and dead. It's not so much the Weirdness Censor acting up as an intentional manipulation of the eye and how it perceives color.

Note that most of these are Truth in Television, since hair, seen in certain lighting conditions, can appear this way. Black hair appearing blue or purple is so commonly noticed that it is developing into its own trope (in no small part due to its prevalence among the Japanese).

If the hair is actually supposed to be a strange color, it's You Gotta Have Blue Hair. See also Adaptation Dye-Job, Early Installment Character-Design Difference, Suddenly Blonde, and Inconsistent Coloring.
    open/close all folders 

    Examples of black hair represented by green 

Anime and Manga
  • Akira Touya of Hikaru no Go has green highlights.
  • Sailor Moon: Sailor Pluto's hair has green highlights, and in some shots and artworks it's actually drawn as dark green. Officially, it is black. Sailor Mars also has black hair, but with purple highlights. Tuxedo Mask's Hair is also somewhere between green and black.
  • Some fans believe that Jun's hair in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is a case of this, insisting that it's so black that it only seems to be green. Later artwork, merchandise, and the sequel series have her hair lightened/brightened to be more obviously green. This confusion is averted in the '90s OVA, where her hair color is a mousy brown.
  • Pokémon:
    • Tracey had a full head of black hair in the Orange Island saga, but then it developed a greenish tint in later seasons.
    • Ash has sported a greenish tint to his own black hair on occasion.
    • Sabrina's normally black hair has a green hue in the anime.
  • Fakir in Princess Tutu appears to have black hair, until he's in bright enough light that it has lighter shading and you realize it's been colored green the entire time.
  • Gon Freecs in Hunter × Hunter has green highlights.
  • D.Gray-Man: Lenalee's hair is officially black, but dark green in the anime. The same thing happened with Kanda, who has blue hair in the anime, and possibly Komui, whose hair is purple. The Noah, who are mostly black haired, on the other hand, don't get this at all.
  • Leon's hair from Black Cat is probably supposed to be a stylized black.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is a confusing example, since official sources are inconsistent. For example, some say that Heero's hair is moss green, while others say it's dark brown (which is what it actually looks like).
  • Mobile Suit Gundam's Captain Bright's hair is officially black, and is even noted in-show. Cima Garahau from Stardust Memory has hair that switches between this and its normal colour.
  • Code Geass: Nina Einstein's official hair color is black, though it has a greenish tint in the anime.
  • Whether the photophobic (and possibly porphyric) Nekozawa on Ouran High School Host Club has a black or green wig (or even just deep shadow turning his hair green) is at least occasionally disputed amongst fans.
  • Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop fame has dark green hair.
  • Yuusuke Urameshi from YuYu Hakusho has green highlights in his hair.
  • Hata in Seitokai Yakuindomo. You can see in her trope image on the Camera Fiend page that it looks black/gray in low light, but green when well lit.
  • Played with in Tora Dora with Kitamura - he's drawn with a desaturated green, but bleaches it later in the series, making it bleached to blond.
  • Miku Kohinata had green hair in season one of Senki Zesshou Symphogear but it became black in season 2.
  • My Hero Academia has the protagonist, Izuku "Deku" Midoriya, with mint green highlights throughout his black hair. There's also Tsuyu Asui, with black hair that is sometimes portrayed as teal.
  • In The Garden of Words, Yukari's hair is vaguely dark green. When she appears in Your Name, it's more obviously black.

  • Twice's Tzuyu appears to have black hair in the music video for "Cheer Up", but the lighting for several shots reveal her hair is actually tinted green and blue.

Video Games
  • Annet Myer from El Viento has black hair in the American box art, but green hair in the game.
  • Inverted by Jade of Beyond Good & Evil—given that everything else on her is green, and the lighting of the game, it's often claimed that her hair is green. It's actually more or less pure black, but she's frequently depicted with greenish-tinged hair in Fan Art.
  • Lisa Nielson in Snatcher, who's described by Metal as having black hair.
  • The Sakamoto family and the Doctor in Cave Story look supposedly Japanese, and they have green hair.
  • Uraha in AIR (the Visual Novel) is said to have deep black hair in the text, but it is more like a dark grey with a green tinge so slight you might not even be able to tell against green backgrounds (or her green clothes—the "ha" in her name means "leaf", by the way). In other AIR media (like the anime) and a lot of fanart, the green is more noticeable.
  • Luigi's sprite in Super Mario Bros. due to technical limitations of the time.

Web Comics
  • Frog Raccoon Strawberry's human friend, January O'Kaye, has normal black hair, but it is outlined with minty green.

Western Animation
  • Shego from Kim Possible has black hair with a green hue due to her superpowers. The rest of her family just straight up have hair the same color as their powers.
  • Depending on the lighting, Stork from Storm Hawks either has black hair or very dark green.
  • Xiaolin Showdown's Chase Young has black hair with a greenish shine. However, back when he was good, it was just plain black, so the green tinge may have something to do with his green reptile form.

    Examples of grey hair represented by blue or lavender 

Anime and Manga
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rei Ayanami's distinctive light blue hair, although she isn't intended to be albino. Intentionally chosen to distinguish her from Asuka.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Ryoko's hair is supposed to be considered silver, but everybody considers her hair to be cyan/light blue/turquoise.
  • Sakata Gintoki from Gintama, whose silver hair is colored in light blues. Sometimes his hair is colored with actual gray, though.
  • In the Spiral anime, Eyes Rutherford's hair is white (sometimes with gray or light-blue shades). In color images from the manga, it ranges from white with light blue highlights to sort of lavender-ish to light purple in the most recent pieces. It's officially silver.
  • We have Bryan Kuznetsov from Beyblade, whose hair is a light-ish pink/lavender colour in season 1 of the anime, but is shown as grey in season 3. His official colour is still in dispute.
  • The title character of A Certain Magical Index is described in the original light novels as having silvery-white hair. Most artwork of her, even in the light novel illustrations but especially in the anime adaptations, however, depicts her hair color as light-blue.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Queen Serenity is implied to have silvery hair, and is shown with white hair in the color pictures associated with the manga. In the anime, her hair is depicted as light purple.
    • Diana is supposedly gray to represent that she is the daughter of a black cat and a white cat, but in the anime her coloration is a pinkish lavender.
  • In the Fruits Basket anime, Yuki's grey hair often looks purple.
  • In the Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin anime, the titular protagonist Gin is an Akita Inu with silvery fur (which his name lampshades). For no apparent reason, in the sequel Ginga Densetsu Weed both his fur and that of his son Weed are blatantly blue.

Comic Books
  • Italian comic Lupo Alberto features Alberto, a wolf with blue fur. Word of God says his fur was meant to be pale grey, but since the hue translated poorly on paper blue was chosen as a shortcut.

Film - Animation
  • Remy from Ratatouille has greyish-blue fur. Rats can be this color, but it is uncommon in the wild.
  • Georgette's fur color from Oliver & Company looks blueish instead of white or grey.

Live-Action Television
  • An episode of Screenwipe had David Quantick, talking about how soul-sapping it is to participate in I Love the Exties shows, recount a time where he was asked to describe Blake Carrington's hair as blue, when, in the picture they had on the monitor, it was clearly just gray.

Video Games
  • Franziska von Karma from Ace Attorney appears to have blue hair, but many fans believe it to be white. Capcom's no help: some of the promo art tinted it green.
  • The Viera race from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance have purple or green hair, and it's obvious that they're supposed to have white hair (especially in the art), right? Ritz's albino hair in St. Ivalice seems light lavender, though her friend comments that it's "as white as snow".
    • Which makes the whole "She wants to stay because her hair is red in Ivalice" thing into total Narm.
    • Adelle from Final Fantasy Tactics A2 was like this as well.
  • This happens in Pokémon with Steven Stone, whose hair has been depicted as powder blue as frequently as it has been grey. For example, his Generation III sprite is clearly grey-haired, but his Generation IV and V sprites have powder blue hair. The anime also gave him blue hair. This even extends to his eyes, since Pokémon is known for eyes usually matching hair.
  • Inverted with Super Macho Man in Punch-Out!! - his hair is supposed to be silver-blonde, but it looks gray. This, combined with his leathery skin, leads people to think he's an old man; he's actually twenty-seven. (His skin is leathery because he tans way too much; the Wii game makes this clearer.)
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Cecil of Final Fantasy IV has white hair in art and all succeeding iterations, but his original map and combat sprite has blue hair.
    • Sephiroth in his cameos in Dissidia: Final Fantasy (2015) and Mobius Final Fantasy has blue hair, which is especially noticeable in contrast to his silver armour. One of his alt costumes in Dissidia (2015) shows him with realistic silver hair that does match his armour, showing off why this trope is used - in the game's art style, it appears blond.

Web Comics
  • Kade and his mom from Savestate, both blue merle Australian Shepherds, are literally blue. In real life, blue merle fur is actually gray.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • Mr Burns. The fact that his hair is grey sometimes doesn't help matters.
    • In early episodes, Mr. Smithers also has blue hair. And is African-American.
  • Tom and Jerry: Tom the cat has a blue-grey tinge in his fur. Depending on the Artist, he can look outright blue, bluish grey, greyish blue, or straight-up grey.
  • Bugs Bunny in The Looney Tunes Show has either a lavender tinge to his grey fur or looks outright lavender-furred.

    Examples of mousy or light brown hair represented by gray 

Anime and Manga
  • Karasuma Kirika from Kamichama Karin.
  • In Pokémon Adventures Sapphire is supposed to have brown hair, as with her other counterparts, but instead it looks grey.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, Atobe's hair in the anime can only be described as a mix between dark gray, steel blue, and purple. He even has silver hair in the Musicals.

Video Games
  • Miles Edgeworth from Ace Attorney has brown hair in all the artwork, but in-game, it's most definitely grey. A big question amongst the fanbase is "What the hell hair colour does he have?!"
  • In Metal Gear, Otacon's hair is often grey in artwork, while in-game, his brown hair seems to get darker as the series progresses.
  • Red from Pokémon. His hair is supposed to be a shade of light brown but his official artwork has him with gray hair.
  • Sumia from Fire Emblem Awakening. Is her hair grey or brown? Her in-game model leans more towards brown and even has a tinge of purple or pink, but it looks more grey in artworks of her. Sumia's daughter Cynthia has a similar issue as well, but her artwork definitely looks grey. Less of an issue in-game, since Cynthia's hair color is determined by her father.

Web Comics
  • Jack from Gunnerkrigg Court is drawn with grey hair, but it might take a while to realise that, because it's a darkish grey that looks like it could just be a particularly muted shade of brown. And until Annie actually said he had grey hair in a recent comic, it wasn't really clear whether his hair really was grey or if it was mousy brown hair (similar to his father's) with some artistic license applied to the colour, like how Annie's hair is red in-universe but shown as rosy pink.

Western Animation

    Examples of blond hair being represented by light brown 

Anime and Manga
  • Nuts/Natsu from Yes! Pretty Cure 5.
  • Omiya, the Edo counterpart of Miyako (Bubbles), from Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z.
  • More than a few fans seem to consider Nunnally, the young Charles, and Odysseus from Code Geass to be blondes, despite having what seems to be really light brown hair.
  • Belgium and Hungary of Axis Powers Hetalia were both described as blondes, but most official art gives them light brown hair. France's and Monaco's hair colors are all over the place, varying from platinum blond to brown.

Comic Books
  • Aztek: Uno's bios says his hair is either blond or light brown.

  • The very brunette Clint Eastwood as "Blondie" in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Justified since Hair Color is relative, in Latin American countries black hair is the norm, so most people consider any other color of hair as fair, many shades of brown can be even miss classified as dark blonde in many countries.

Video Games
  • Calvin in Harvest Moon: Animal Parade. His official art clearly shows that he's a golden blonde, but in-game, his model has light brown hair.
  • According to the script on the Making Of compilation, Iroquois Pliskin in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
  • Bianca in Dragon Quest V has blond hair, but it looks light brown in the SNES game. The DS remake makes her hair look a very bright yellow color instead, which can be a noticeable difference if you are used to the old version.

Western Animation
  • Heloise in Jimmy Two-Shoes looks like a brunette, but she's actually a dirty-blonde.

    Examples of blond hair represented by reddish shades 

Anime and Manga
  • Death Note:
    • Mello's hair looks reddish.
    • The anime seems to use hair color more as symbols than anything else: in particularly dramatic scenes, L and Light inexplicably have vivid blue and red hair, respectively. As do the rest of their bodies, what you're seeing is the dramatic lighting effect that's used when the main characters are thinking dramatically. Matsuda does it too, once!
  • Code Geass: Shirley Fenette may be this.
  • In Bleach Matsumoto is seemingly blonde, but like Orihihime, she has the same orange hair colour as Ichigo in the anime.
  • Hellsing: In the original television series, Seras Victoria has hair that could best be described by the crayola crayon "orange-yellow". However, this effect is only displayed in the dark. When she walks through day in the open, her hair is normal shaded blond.

  • Inverted in the two live-action Tintin films, "The Golden Fleece" and "The Blue Oranges", where red-haired Tintin is played by blond Jean-Pierre Talbot.
  • Inverted in Disney's Cinderella. In the film, she has strawberry blonde hair, but in all Disney Princess merchandising it's blonde.

Video Games
  • Hurdy from Final Fantasy Tactics A2.
  • Roxas and Ventus in Kingdom Hearts have blond hair in the production artwork and in high-def cutscenes, which turns orange in anything using the game engine.
  • Final Fantasy V has Lenna/Reina, a platinum blonde in the official art, a very loud pink in her sprite. Faris is similar, going from the same platinum blonde to bright purple. Justified in that there's a status effect that turns a character's hair white, and all five characters' official arts were either platinum blonde or white.
  • Peach in the original Super Mario Bros. due to the limitations of the hardware.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link has pink hair in-game, and has pink fur in rabbit form in the Dark World, but has dark blond hair officially.
  • Monkey Island series: On the cover of The Secret of Monkey Island, Guybrush's hair appears red, but in game it's blond. In Monkey Island 2, his hair looks reddish brown on the box, but is clearly brown in game. The later games all make his hair blond, both on the cover art, and in game itself. It's speculated that his hair was always meant to be a shade of red, but they couldn't get it right due to not having enough colors in the palette.
  • Inverted in Harvest Moon. Gray's red hair is blond in certain games, such as Harvest Moon Friends Of Mineral Town, due to oversaturating the colors to work better on the handheld hardware.

Web Comics

Western Animation

    Examples of blond hair represented by light green 

Anime and Manga
  • Kio Kaidou from Loveless. While usually a true blonde in the anime, the manga (and most fanart) gives him greenish locks.
  • Momoko from Ojamajo Doremi almost always has a strange green tint to her hair in merchandise.
  • Marika from Bokura no Hentai canonically has blonde hair. A lot of official art gives it a green tint and one cover even outright has it green.
  • In the second ending to Fullmetal Alchemist Edward's normally blond hair has a green hue.
  • Dragon Ball: Broly's Legendary Super Saiyajin form is either blond with a green tone or actual green.

Tabletop Games
  • The recurring Pathfinder NPC Shalelu Andosana has been portrayed with pale green hair at least once in official art. Until she was confirmed to canonically be blond (and for some time after, as well), this was the subject of much fan debate.

Video Games
  • Final Fantasy VI:
    • Tina/Terra Branford is officially a blonde, but her sprites depict her with green hair (presumably due to palette limitations).
    • The same applies to Locke, who goes from blonde to a pale, greyish green. To be fair, in the Yoshitaka Amano art for FFVI's characters, EVERYONE'S hair is different shades of blonde or white (in the case of Setzer and Strago.) At least the green hair adds some variety.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Sniper Wolf of Metal Gear Solid.
  • All characters named Nina in the Breath of Fire series have blond hair, but the hair of the fifth Nina tends toward a greenish hue, possibly due to underground lighting/living conditions.
  • The Sims 3: Boyd Wainwright is supposed to have white hair and his hair may appear whiter, blonder, or bluer depending on circumstances. Getting technical, his hair is desaturated light green with light blond streaks and tips.

    Examples of brown hair represented by reddish or orange 

Anime and Manga
  • Naruto: Gaara's his hair was originally brown in the manga (much like his family). The anime made his hair red and it was later retconned in the manga to fit.
  • Orihime from Bleach has caramel hair in the manga. In the anime, it's much closer to the same orange shade the anime gives Ichigo (whose hair colour is officially 'honey' in the manga).
  • Lina Inverse from Slayers. Though, in the novels, her hair is specifically stated to be chestnut, the anime gives her an auburn shade that, over the course of the series, turns bright red. It's easy to forget that it used to be brown.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: The main character, Lain.
  • Code Geass: Kallen's mother and late brother.
  • In Death Note, Light (and Yotsuba Group member Mido, for that matter) have chestnut-to-red hair, which, judging by the series' colour palette, would translate to Real Life as reddish-black. Although Light's hair is often rendered as a more typical dark brown, depending on the (cough) lighting.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • A complication arises with Kurama, who was originally intended to have long black hair which was highlighted pink/red to match his school uniform in some official art. The anime then gave him inhumanly red hair for effect, which then became his official hair color. Opinion is extremely split on whether Shuichi Minamino goes around with long magenta hair, a more human/foxy shade of orange, or a merely reddish-brown believably Japanese color exaggerated for effect. Also about whether the color is Kurama's fault, since he was a grey fox in his first life.
    • Kuwabara's hair is generally taken by fans to be this trope, since he's a Japanese human, the abnormal bright orange color of it never comes up, and alongside extreme redheads like Kurama, Jin, and even Mukuro, it looks positively understated. To the extent that people grouping Kuwabara with the redheads get seriously assaulted by Fan Dumb.
  • Italy of Axis Powers Hetalia is probably supposed to be a brunet (like most Italians). In old official art, this was quite clear. But once the anime and Art Evolution came along, it became difficult to tell if Italy's brown hair is just strongly saturated by the pretty colors or he's become a fair-skinned redhead. The fact that there are no characters who are officially red-haired, and that the author is very inconsistent with color schemes, doesn't help.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • Outer Moka's hair is obviously pink, but other characters describe her hair as chestnut-brown...
    • Similarly, Moka's younger sister Kokoa has red hair, but other characters say it's orange.
  • Aiko from Goodnight Punpun canonically has a dark brown color. Several officially colored manga pages have her with a reddish tone.
  • A Silent Voice's Shouko has a brown hair officially - the shade varies however it's supposed to be rather dark - but the manga shading is light. Most of the official art involving her gives her reddish, almost dark pink, hair. The anime adaptation also used her reddish hair instead of the canonical dark brown.

Comic Books

Fan Works
  • Aiko from Goodnight Punpun has dark brown hair but most fan-artists give her red hair.
  • Psychonauts:
    • Although sometimes rendered in fanart with brown hair, in the game Raz actually a purplish red hair color. Other fanart takes this to the opposite extreme and makes his hair an even louder, more exaggerated shade of red or purple.
    • The same goes for the character Lili, who has brownish-red hair, but is depicted sometimes in fanart with either darker brown or brighter red, and, in one case, purple (???).
  • Frequently inverted with Daisy from Super Mario Bros.. Her canonically orange hair is often colored brown in fan-art.

  • The eponymous character of Wreck-It Ralph is an Evil Redhead in his old school 8-bit form, and a brunette in his CGI form. Truth in Television: 1980's video games tended to have limited color palettes that made the character's colors different from the intention; for example, Princess Peach originally appeared with red hair in the games, but artwork always depicted her as blond.
  • Anastasia from the 1997 20th Century Fox film, Anastasia. In reality, she was apparently a strawberry blond.

Newspaper Comics
  • When perky blonde Lu Ann receives her makeover during the I Dressed in the Dark storyline of Apartment 3-G, the stylist compliments her on her new "rich brown curls", yet Lu Ann's hair is inked the exact same color as her canonically redheaded roommate Tommie. The Comics Curmudgeon made a not of this. Stylists Kat and Kit receive similar treatment, as their (presumably) brown hair is just an orange a few shades lighter than Tommie's.

Video Games
  • In EarthBound, some of the NPCs have reddish brown hair.
  • Kratos from Tales of Symphonia is often drawn with brown hair in fanart. Like dirt brown, even though his official portraits all show it as a red. Might have something to do with matching it to his son, Lloyd, whose hair is unmistakably brown.
  • A character in Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame refer to Priscilla as auburn-haired. Her official art is slightly excusable, but her game sprite clearly shows her as a redhead.
  • Ryu from the Street Fighter fighting games, whose hair is depicted with a lighter shade of brown that almost looks red in Street Fighter and the Alpha series, despite being dark-brown and black in every other game.
  • Princess Daisy from the Super Mario Bros. games:
    • Daisy actually has more orange-toned hair, to the point that it ranged, since her first two appearances, from burnt-orange to bright-orange. Like her first two appearances, it was recently reverted to being so orange as to match the shade on her clothing. It has also been depicted as auburn in a few artworks regardless of the fact it has never been so in-game.
    • Regardless of the fact that her hair has been stated by Nintendo as orange, fan-art constantly depicts her with dark brown hair. Although this is strange as even real redheads have burnt-orange hair that ranges in brown tones of light shades.
  • In the NES versions of the Double Dragon games, Billy Lee's hair color is colored red in the games, even though its actually depicted as a dark brown or black in the official art. To make matters more confusing, it was actually blond in the original arcade game.
  • Sodina from Thousand Arms, who has red hair on the game's cover and one of the discs but brown hair in game.
  • Torn from Jak and Daxter has either brown or red hair depending on who you ask. The concept art is clearly brown, but in-game, it's slightly red.
  • Misty from Grand Theft Auto III is portrayed in the official artwork as having brown hair, yet her hair is a bright red in-game.
  • Inverted with the secret ending to Kingdom Hearts I. It shows a girl that is presumably Kairi however her hair is a dark brown instead of red.

Web Comics
  • Questionable Content has several characters with supposedly brown hair of varying shades that appear red or orange. Specifically Faye, Angus, Sven, and Steve. Oddly enough, Sven actually did have brown hair in his first few appearances.

Western Animation
  • All too common in Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the late 80's and early 90's.
    • Velma from A Pup Named Scooby-Doo had brown hair that was a little more reddish than her other incarnations.
    • Not even Celebrity Toons distributed by HB from the 80's and 90's were immune to this. In Gravedale High, main character and Token Human teacher Max Schneider had red hair, when in reality, Rick Moranis, the person he was voiced by and modeled after, had brown hair.
    • Inverted with Azrael the cat in The Smurfs. Azrael's orange fur appears light brown in the TV show, whereas in other incarnations (the comics and the live action movies), his orange fur appears orange.
  • Inverted with Princess from The Powerpuff Girls, who is an expy of Annie from Little Orphan Annie. Sometimes her hair looks brunette rather than red. This extends to her anime counterpart, Himeko from Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z (whose brownish-red hair actually turns bright red when she transforms into Princess).
  • Jazmine from The Boondocks has red hair however it's more than likely meant to be brown. In the comics her hair looks more of a light brown.
  • Inverted with Prunella's hair in Arthur. It is red in official artwork and in certain episodes, however often looks brown instead. Starting with season 16's transition to Flash her hair looks red consistently.
  • Amanda from Milo Murphy's Law is probably meant to have black or dark brown hair, but it actually looks more plum.
  • Inverted in Jem. Ba Nee makes a big deal out of her Disappeared Dad having red hair. He looks more like a brunette.

    Other examples 

Anime and Manga
  • Hikaru no Go: Fandom is pretty evenly split over whether Fujiwara no Sai has purple or black hair.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Rika has purple hair, but it turns teal in low light.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Misato Katsuragi has purple hair, although it's debatable that it's supposed to be black. Considering that every other case of strange hair colour in the series is explained by special circumstances, it's worth a bet.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Faye Valentine is another example of purple-seen-as-black.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: Anthy Himemiya has purple hair in the anime series and movie, while it's black in Chiho Saito's original manga pages. It most likely falls under the "stylized black" category.
  • Bleach: Yoruichi has purple hair in the anime, black hair with very strong purple highlights in the manga.
  • Death Note: Matt's hair in the anime adaptation appears as either a mousy brown or a dull olive green shade depending on the lighting. His hair in the guidebook appears to be dark and a sort of muddied brownish-green. Fans are split between simply referring to him as a brunet or green-haired.
  • K: Neko either has really light pink hair, pink hair with white highlights, or white hair with pink shading. It could even be seen as pale lavender. It is as light in color as Shiro's white-with-grey-shading hair (which is really impressive considering it's white), but it's often interpreted in fan-art and cosplay and even some promotional artwork as bright cotton-candy pink. Of course, it doesn't help one bit that the color seemingly changes from scene to scene.
  • Pokémon:
    • Lance's red hair looks pink in the anime.
    • Fans have been stumped on whether James has purple or blue hair for years.
      James: "It's lavender!"
    • A similar thing has happened to Jessie, whose hair shifted from magenta to bright red to dark pink and, when the show switched to digital colouring, to her current magenta. In concept she's still a redhead.
  • CLANNAD does this indirectly when Fuko announces that Sunohara's hair is a weird color. It's blonde, a rather rare color for Asians. The trouble is that Fuko herself has dark green hair, the guy she's hanging out with has blue hair, Kyou and Ryou and Kotomi have purple hair... all of which are apparently meant to be shades of brown or black. And she doesn't say what color Sunohara's hair is. We later learn it's black.
  • Satsuki Kiryuuin from Kill la Kill has black hair, however, in some shots it appears to be a very dark blue. It can be generally agreed upon that her hair possesses a dark blue tint.
  • Aya Koomichi from Kiniro Mosaic is stated to have black hair yet clearly has blue hair.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Yue's hair and wings are either a light gray/blue or white.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • Outer Moka is said to have chestnut hair very early on in the manga, but it's completely pink with no indication of brown whatsoever. The final chapter however Retcons this as being pink.
    • Kokoa is said to have orange hair, but it's definitively red, in both, the manga and anime.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Rather than Hair Color Dissonance, it's "Scale Color Dissonace" with Blue-Eyes White Dragon. The manga, the anime and the Trading Card Game depict her more as blue as white. More often than not, the anime makes her completely blue. And if she is depicted as white, it's usually with blue highlights.
  • Haikyuu!!'s Sugawara has light blond or ashen blond hair in the manga. It's outright gray in the anime.

Fan Works

  • While Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings films is a brunette, his hair almost looks black in some scenes.
  • Peter Quill/Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy was blond in the comics, no one seems to agree on what color his hair is in the movie. It doesn't help that it seems to change in different scenes under different lighting. This wiki refers to him as strawberry blond, while fanart and fanfics depict him with many different shades of blond, brown, reddish, and even orange hair.
  • A common debate amongst fans of Frozen over almost all the main characters. Is Anna's hair blonde, strawberry blonde, light reddish brown, brown, or red? Is Elsa's hair platinum blonde or white? Is Hans' hair auburn or red? As with many examples, the color seems to change in different scenes, merchandise, promotional art, etc. Elsa's hair especially, as it seems to get lighter during "Let it Go" and stays that way for the rest of the movie (though it's not as light as Anna's hair when she's freezing to death). Spinoff books have described Elsa's hair as "white-blonde" and Anna as a "strawberry blonde", but it's not always consistent.

Live-Action Television
  • Marg Helgenberger is a natural redhead. Therefore, the writers of CSI consider the character she plays, Catherine Willows, to be a redhead too. However, somewhere between the show's hairdressers, the lighting, and the effects of sunlight on light red hair, she almost always looks blonde. Fair enough: if redhead Marg Helgenberger can turn blonde, so can redhead Catherine Willows. The problem comes in when scripts - which are written with no idea of how red or blonde her hair is going to look on the day of filming - have people who've never laid eyes on Catherine before referring to the very blonde woman as "the redhead".
  • This happened during the early seasons of The X-Files. Though Scully would become infamous for her red hair, in the early seasons, Scully looks far more brunette than red-headed.
  • Video cover artwork for Doctor Who (especially that done by Andrew Skilleter) had a reputation for depicting Peter Davison's blonde Fifth Doctor as having silver hair.

Video Games
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • It's debated amongst fandom whether Dr. Eggman is a redhead or a brunette. His mustache color is brown in the pre-Sonic Adventure games, more explicitly red in the American cartoons, auburn in Sonic X, and anywhere in between in the comics and every game after Sonic Adventure.
    • Tails' color was very inconsistent at first. He's supposed to be yellow with a slight orange tint, but earlier works depicted him as reddish-orange, bright orange, or even brown at times.
  • Yuri Lowell of Tales of Vesperia has black hair to go with his black outfit but it's often depicted as purple.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, it's pretty hard to tell what color Lucas and Dawn's hair color is in their official artwork (much like Red, noted above). Judging from their game sprites, it's meant to be dark blue, but you could easily argue that their hair is black if you're looking at the concept art.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII has quite a lot, owing to Art Shift both within the game and between it and its spinoffs:
      • Cloud's always blond, but he's anywhere on the spectrum from just 'yellow', to dark ash blond verging on brown, to warm honey/golden blond, to cold platinum blond, depending on who's texturing him in this cameo. Even within the original game, his map sprite has very vivid, almost orange-yellow hair, his battle sprite's hair is a pale yellow, his menu portraits are platinum and his motorcycle portrait is light brown. Dissidia: Final Fantasy lampshades this slightly (or at least fails to ignore it) by giving him lighter hair when he's in his Advent Children variant costume. In a few of his appearances, he even has bleached-looking hair with visible dark roots, though he usually doesn't.
      • Tifa has light brown hair in some depictions, while other times it's such a dark brown it looks black.
      • Aeris's hair in the original game and Crisis Core might have been a light brown or a dark reddish-blond, but in Advent Children it's dark brown.
      • Rufus's name indicates that he's supposed to be red-haired and his sprite depicted him as ginger, but in the more realistically-styled Advent Children his hair is mousy blond.
      • Cid's sprite has grey hair, his menu portrait has white-blond hair and his Compilation depiction has hair the same shade of blond as Rufus'.
      • Dyne is depicted as having purple hair in Final Fantasy VII - the same shade of purple as Cloud's uniform, leading some to assume it was supposed to be black. In his more realistically-styled cameo in Final Fantasy VII: G-Bike, it's just brown.
    • Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII was assumed by many fans to be blond at first, but her hair's actually pink (and increasingly so in her later appearances).
    • Ardyn's hair in Final Fantasy XV is very inconsistent depending on lighting and art style. Sometimes it's dull brown, sometimes it's auburn, sometimes it's brown with a distinct pinkish tone, sometimes it's red, sometimes it's stark raving purple.
  • Ren in Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is known as the "silver-haired girl" for most of the game before Seto and the audience learn her name. However, animated and in-game cut scenes clearly show Ren's hair is white. Of course, Seto also calls the moon silver, while Ren herself calls it white, which suggests the dissonance comes from Seto's point-of-view, not the audience.
  • Is the Ao Oni purple, or blue like its title says? Blame the dark colour tints...

Visual Novels
  • In Morenatsu, Tatsuki's hair is dark blue and Shin's fur is dark purple. In both cases, however, they're supposed to represent black.
  • Nameless
    • Protagonist Eri's hair is supposed to be brown, though her narrative portraits make it look purple. Depending on the CG, it switches between brown and purple, too.
    • When Yuri is talked about in a descriptive way, he is mentioned to have black hair. Depictions of him always show him with a dark brown shade of hair.

Web Comics
  • The members of the Sturmvoraus/von Blitzengaard extended family in Girl Genius all have hair in varying shades of reddish purple. This color palette may represent shades of auburn. Of course, given that there's a character with green hair that is described in-universe as such, maybe they really do just have Crayola hair.
  • The author of Another Gaming Comic accidentally drew everyone's hair shaded green in early comics due to being colorblind. However it blends in well so it's easy to overlook.
  • In Sister Claire both Claire and Catharine are noted by the narration to have red hair, something that's actually a Chekhov's Gun in the former's case, but they're represented by two very different shades, with Claire being a much brighter orange and Catharine being closer to burgundy.
  • Almost all members of the Beldrobbaen clan in Drowtales have black hair, dress in all or mostly black, and have a fortress where the majority of it is the same tone, but in their spotlight chapter 48 most of them are drawn with hair that's a very dark navy blue, presumably to give some level of visual variation since otherwise pages would be virtually monotone. Ironically the Beldrobbaen's black hair is otherwise one of the few realistic hair colors in the whole series, where the most common color among their ancestors the dark elves seems to have been a shade of purple.
  • Due to the watercolor art style, Robbie's hair is inconsistent in Ignition Zero. It looks varying shades of blond, brown, or even red.

Web Original
  • Raku is supposed to have forest green hair in Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls (according to the intro) however the series itself uses a sort of olive-green, almost blonde, shade.

Western Animation
  • Brittany from Alvin and the Chipmunks has an inconsistent hair color. It switches between shades of light red, light brown, and occasionally blond.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Suki's official hair color is auburn according the the wiki. However, in the show it mostly just appears to be medium brown.
  • Superman got a slight redesign between Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League, which included adding a grey highlight to his hair. This combined with a couple of extra lines on his face led to fans complaining that he looked too old. This lessened when Superman's face got tweaked to remove the lines.
  • Jem:
    • Kimber's hair is red however it has a pink tint.
    • Riot's hair isn't the issue, it's his eyes. They're supposed to look green however look dark brown to black depending on the scene.
    • Roxy's hair is confusing: Is it literally white or platinum blonde?
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Ezra Bridger has black hair. However, the mop-top haircut he sports in the first two seasons has a tendency to look blue in the right light, leading to the Fan Nickname "Blueberry". By Season 3 he's gotten a much shorter haircut that brings an end to this.
    • His father Ephraim also has this in the old family picture first seen in "Gathering Forces".
  • Steven Universe:
    • Pearl's hair is canonically pink however it looks somewhere between a reddish blonde and a light red.
    • Steven's skin often has a pink hue. It makes sense considering his parentage however his skin likely isn't meant to seem abnormally colored.
  • In X-Men, Wolverine refers to Psylocke as a "beautiful, black-haired mutant psychic", and Archangel calls describes her as having raven hair. Despite this, her hair is clearly purple.
  • H 2 O Mermaid Adventures: Cleo has purple hair that is referred to as "brunette."
  • The pelt colours of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic characters can be this. Rarity looks like she's all-white (which isn't actually possible for most horses, but being in a fantasy world gives them liberties), however she is actually a very off blue (like the G1 pony she is based on, Sparkler). Princess Celestia also looks white but is a very light shade of pink. This was exagerrated in her original toy, which outright just had her as bright pink.
  • Madeline is typically shown with red hair. However, My Fair Madeline portrays her with auburn hair.