- The fair-haired partner is the "good" one: younger, bright, hopeful, enthusiastic, naive, helpful, innocent, tends to follow the rules
- The dark-haired partner is the "bad" one: older, moody, testy, serious, cynical, often relishes in Angst and their Dark and Troubled Past, tends to break the rules and snap
- The Blonde becomes an (implied) Phenotype Stereotype, who, while still cheerful and clueless, gains traits like frankness, openness, inventiveness, and ignorance of proper etiquette
- The Brunette becomes an (implied) Proper Lady, who, while still moody and cynical, becomes more reserved, well-mannered, and manipulative
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Anime and Manga
- As noted above, couples with contrasting hair colors are extremely popular in the Yuri Genre:
- Shiroi Heya no Futari: Resine and Simone are the Trope Makers in this particular genre.
- Maya's Funeral Procession: Another old one. Reina and Maya.
- Kannazuki no Miko: Himeko and Chikane are another archetypal example and can be considered modern Trope Codifiers.
- First Love Sisters: Chika and Haruna
- Maria-sama ga Miteru: Though they are more a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship Yumi and Sachiko display this dynamic. Sei and Shiori play this trope but have reversed hair colors making them a Bad Blonde and Good Brunette
- Strawberry Panic!: A few pairs. Nagisa and Shizuma are the primary example though Shizuma's hair is a bit off for the role. Hikari and Yaya play it straighter hair color wise, but it is a one sided affair on Yaya's end.
- Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito: Hatsumi and Hazuki. Often considered an inspiration for Himeko and Chikane as well.
- Hayate × Blade: Comically plays with the dynamic with Hayate and Ayana as well as others.
- Gokujou Drops: Komari and Yuki
- Gunjo: Nameless Blonde and Nameless Brunette protagonists
- Natsuneko does this in every single one of her mangas
- Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu inverts the formula thoroughly.
- The title characters of Dirty Pair have very contrasting hair colors (red vs blue). They don't quite fall into the yuri category above, but are still Heterosexual Life-Partners who do get shipped together in many fanfics and several hentai doujins.
- Usagi and Mamoru from Sailor Moon: she's the perky blonde and he's the aloof dark-haired guy.
- In the Lyrical Nanoha franchise:
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Nanoha is a cheerful auburn-haired Magical Girl, while Fate is a lonely, hurting blonde Dark Magical Girl.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS stars the Hot-Blooded blue-haired Genki Girl Subaru and the careful, analytical red-headed Tsundere Teana. The two of them form a Tomboy and Girly Girl duo and are currently the most blatantly lesbian couple of the franchise.
- In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi's (brunette) a Deadpan Snarker Bifauxnen who's very down to earth, while Tamaki (blonde) is melodramatic, hyperactive and often comes up with Zany Schemes for the Host Club. Though in the anime, at least the romance aspect is only one-sided on Tamaki's part.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners Kotetsu and Barnaby from Tiger & Bunny completely invert the character dynamics associated with their hair colors (with the exception of age, as the former is about ten years older than the latter). Blond Barnaby is the troubled, socially isolated Defrosting Ice King, while brunet Kotetsu is the idealistic, energetic and impulsive Messiah who eventually manages to gain his friendship and trust.
- Naruto and Sasuke in part 1 of Naruto play this trope relatively straight, especially at the beginning of their rivalry: light-haired Naruto is hyperactive and impulsive, while dark-haired Sasuke is cold and calculating.
- The previous generation had Kakashi and Obito, the first with white/silver hair and the second with black hair. Interestingly the dark-haired one started out as the warm, good person whereas the white haired one was cold and calculating, but as adults they have switched roles, with Obito being the main villain and Kakashi a main character and one of Naruto's biggest supporters.
- K-On!: Mio (black) is graceful (most of the time) while Ritsu (light brown) is brash.
- Lucky Star: Yutaka (pink) is cute and childish, while Minami (green) is cool and mature.
- Common in Pretty Cure seasons with two protagonists. Nagisa and Saki (orange and light brown) are the outspoken tomboys, while Honoka and Mai (black and dark purple) are calmer and more elegant. On the other hand, HeartCatch Pretty Cure! inverts this and Suite Pretty Cure ♪ averts it.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka's worldview is "happiness for everyone", while Homura's worldview is "happiness for a specific person named Kaname Madoka".
- Kyouko's "for myself!" versus Sayaka's/Mami's "for justice!"
- Boys Love Genre Ai no Kusabi gives us the Opposites Attract couple consisting of The Beautiful Elite, blond Iason with the younger Troubled, but Cute, Badass Biker Riki who is also a slum mongrel.
- Yuru-Yuri is pretty much made of hair contrast duos, such as:
- Yui and Kyouko -or- Yui and Chinatsu -or- Kyouko and Ayano
- Himawari and Sakurako
- Slayers has Xelloss and Filia. While not romantic (fandom aside), they contrast in most aspects of their designs, like hair (purple and yellow, complement colours), clothes (black and white), diametrically opposed species (demon and dragon), and their widely different personalities clash just about all the time they're on screen at the same time.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- Shinji Ikari (dark brown) and Kaworu Nagisa (silver), who are also contrasted by their blue eyes and red eyes respectively. Shinji tends to be depressed and unenthusiastic whereas Kaworu is always smiling and often expresses admiration for life and culture. Also contrasted by Shinji being a human, progeny of Lilith, and Kaworu being an Angel, progeny of Adam. There is a considerable amount of Ho Yay between the two.
- Asuka and Rei are also examples of this trope, with the former being a Fiery Redhead and the latter a Shy Blue-Haired Girl.
- A Cruel God Reigns has Jeremy and Ian, the two protagonists who eventually end up in a relationship. Jeremy has very curly, shorter, black hair while Ian has blonde, stick-straight, long hair. Jeremy, who for the first half of the series is sexually and physically abused his stepfather and Ian's father, and falls into a pit of post traumatic stress disorder, prostitution and drug addiction is the darker of the two. Ian, who is free spirited and has trouble accepting the fact that his father abused his stepbrother, is the lighter of the pair. The two also fall under the One Head Taller rule: Ian is over 6 ft while Jeremy appears to be around 5'5"-5'7".
- This trope is played with in the later chapters of the manga, as Ian becomes less innocent, thus making it hard to tell who's "dark" and who's "light" personality-wise.
- Attack on Titan loves this one.
- FAKE partners light-haired Nice Guy Ryo with dark-haired Dee, the biggest, brashest and most temperamental cowboy in a whole precinct of Cowboy Cops.
- Kill la Kill has Genki Girl Mako Mankanshoku, with a neat brown bob cut, and Hot-Blooded Delinquent Ryuko Matoi, who has spiky black hair with red highlights. To a lesser extent, there's also Nonon Jakuzure and Satsuki Kiryuin.
- Axis Powers Hetalia has many examples, especially since there are Plenty of Blondes. However, they are most often reversed;
- Germany and Italy embody this. Germany is a blond, Italy is a brunet, they are total opposites. Germany is a serious workaholic who always follows the rules, Italy is carefree and lazy, Germany is emotionally repressed, Italy is very emotionally open, Germany is tall, muscular and very masculine, Italy is effeminate and weak...you get the idea. They are a near Official Couple, confirmed to be at least one-sided on Germany's part. This Phenotype Stereotype has been lampshaded many times, such as a reference to the painting Italia and Germania, where the personification of Germany is depicted as an intelligent blonde, and Italy is depicted as a cheerful brunette.
- England, a blond snarky tsundere wannabe-gentleman, and Japan, a male equivalent of a Yamato Nadeshiko.
- Prussia, a white-haired Hot-Blooded jerkass with tremendous military experience and ability, and Austria, a dark-haired Princely Young Man Non-Action Guy.
- Poland, a Cloud Cuckoo Lander Dumb Blond (most of the time) who often behaves like a Spoiled Brat, and Lithuania, a humble, painfully kind and patient Brainy Brunet who's even more serious than Germany.
Film - Live Action
- Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
- Frodo (brunet) and Sam (blond).
- Cool and elegant Legolas (blond), and an aggressive and hot-tempered Gimli (redhead).
- Scream: Sidney (cynical and troubled brunette) and Tatum (care-free and bubbly blonde). Both actresses are natural brunettes, but Tatum's actress went blonde specifically to create the contrast.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe contrasts brothers Thor as the "good blond" and Loki as the "bad brunet".
- Dark-haired, brooding Adam is contrasted with his blonde, optimistic wife, Eve, in Only Lovers Left Alive. Yin-yang symbolism is everywhere in this movie.
- Peter Weir's classic Aussie war flick Gallipoli has the typical personality types in blond idealistic Archie (Mark Lee) and the more cynical Frank (Mel Gibson). NB: If you haven't seen this movie before, bring tissues!
- The two rivalling main characters of The Legend of Frenchie King are the blonde Louise and the brunette Maria. Louise is coolheaded and sophisticated, while Maria is rough and hot-tempered.
- A Knight's Tale has the heroic idealistic William as a blond, contrasted with the cynical villainous Ademar as a brunet.
- Cinderella2015 contrast the good-hearted and idealistic Ella (blonde) with the cruel and cynical Lady Tremaine (redhead). To further this contrast, Ella's saintly biological mother and Fairy Godmother are both blondes too.
- The Disney film version of Pollyanna. Pollyanna is positive and blonde, while Aunt Polly is cold and brunette. Notably light-haired characters - Nancy and Tilly - defrost quicker than darker haired characters - Angelica, Mrs Snow.
- The Sound of Music the free-spirited Maria is a blonde while the broken and detached Captain is a brunet.
- The Time Of The Reaper: Jessica and Mel are another lesbian couple example.
- Thais (bronze-skinned Brainy Brunette of Cretan origins) and Aegesichore (fair-skinned blonde from Sparta) from Thaïs of Athens. Despite lots of Les Yay between them, they are really Just Friends, though.
- Kind, gentle, peaceful Peeta (blond) and moody, brooding, unsociable Katniss (dark haired) in The Hunger Games.
Live Action TV
- It is widely believed that the television producers like to give this to several pairs of gentlemen from various shows in which one has light hair and one has dark because it helps to distinguish them in the early days when televisions were black and white, especially when it came to the buddy system. Some of these examples are inversions while the others are played straight. The following are brunette and blond, respectively:
- Jess and Slim from Laramie.
- Murdock and Stiles from Route 66.
- Spock and Kirk
- Jim Reed and Pete Malloy
- Johnny and Roy
- Hannibal and Kid
- Major Burke and Colonal Virdon
- Starsky and Hutch
- Ponch and Jon
- Apollo and Starbuck
- Luke and Bo
- Nick and Cody
- Tubbs and Crockett
- Vampire brothers Damon and Stefan Salvatore
- Brothers Rick and AJ in Simon & Simon.
- Blond Gabrielle and Brunette Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess
- Brittany and Santana from Glee
- Buffy (blond starting the 2nd season) and Cordelia (brunette) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Also Buffy (still blond) and Faith (brunette), the evil Slayer.
- Cool, blonde, Defrosting Ice Queen Sarah and Adorkable, Hollywood Nerd brown-haired Chuck from Chuck.
- Sherlock: Sherlock (brunet) and John (blond).
- V: Diana and Lydia the wig-wearing alien lizard queens.
- Dynasty: Alexis and Krystal.
- Also from the BBC: Arthur (blond) and Merlin (brunet).
- From The X-Files: Agent Mulder (brunette) and Agent Scully (redhead).
- The 2 Broke Girls.
- Rizzoli (brunette) and Isles (blonde). They fit the personality types above too.
- Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin from The Man From UNCLE - inverted personalities with blond Illya being the more solemn brooding one of pair.
- Emily and Victoria from Revenge. The show plays with the above archetypes- Emily's blondness contributes to her Girl Next Door facade, whereas brunette Victoria's villainy is far more apparent.
- Done the other way around in Once Upon a Time. Emma Swan is the cold, cynical blonde. Mary Margaret Blanchard is the optimistic, loving brunette.
- Glinda (blonde, "good") and Elphaba (brunette, "bad") from Wicked.
- Touhou: Reimu (black) is more collected, while Marisa (blonde) is more... blast-happy.
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin Charlotte and Jonathan.
- Final Fantasy VII has several by design, all with Cloud:
- Cloud (shortish spiky hair, golden blond, pragmatic but unstable) and his rival Sephiroth (really long flowing hair, silver, otherworldly and collected).
- Cloud (short blond spiky hair, pessimistic and more innocent) and his idol Zack (long black spiky hair, optimistic and more experienced). Note also that Zack's hairstyle was actually based on an early design for Cloud's that was changed because it wasn't striking enough - Cloud is the main character, while Zack is a backstory character whose entire existence is obscured from the player, with the ironic concept that he's a more 'main character'-type person than Cloud.
- Cloud, (male, short blond hair, cool and collected when he's not being mind raped) and Tifa (female, long brown/black hair, enthusiastic (but keeps a lot of secrets to herself, and suffers for it).
- Final Fantasy VIII: Fujin (female, silver-haired, cool) and Raijin (male, brown-haired, enthusiastic).
- Final Fantasy IX: Zidane and Garnet. It's hard to get more worlds-apart when one is a thief and an alien while the other is a princess.
- Final Fantasy X: Tidus and Yuna. Tidus is fun-filled, naive and energetic, while Yuna is serious to a fault at times, and is (very poorly) hiding her own melancholy. They have equally dark back-stories. The fact that Tidus is from a dream-preserved memory of ancient Zanarkand helps the contrast along.
- Final Fantasy XIII: Fang and Vanille— whose dynamics seems to be copied verbatim from a yuri manga.
- Lightning and Fang also work (in a much less romantic sense). They also happen to play the Foil to each other a lot.
- Tales of Vesperia has its resident Heterosexual Life-Partners; blond, Lawful Good Knight in Shining Armor Flynn and dark-haired, Chaotic Good Vigilante Man Yuri.
- Similarly, Guilty Gear has brown-haired aloof and thuggish Bounty Hunter Sol and blond Knight in Shining Armor Ky.
- Valkyria Chronicles II: Avan and Zeri -or- Cossette and Zeri -or- Juliana and Zeri.
- Valkyria Chronicles III: Kurt and Riela -or- Amy and Deight.
- Sono Hanabira Ni Kuchizuke Wo:
- Akai Ito: Uzuki and Kei -or- Yumei and Kei.
- Aoi Shiro: Syoko and Nami -or- Syouko and Migiwa.
- Blake and Weiss of RWBY, though both of them are Huntresses, therefore on the side of good. While Weiss isn't exactly altruistic (at least not at first) and is reluctant to help those that she feels don't deserve help, she is law-abiding to a fault, comes from a wealthy family, and by-the-book. Blake is anti-social, broody, pragmatic, world-weary, and used to be part of a criminal organization, though they do have their reasons for attacking people. In the final two episodes of the first season, they get into an argument about the White Fang's intentions, which culminates in Blake running away from her team.
- If the romantic leads are of different hair colors, Disney tends to go this way, towards the "blondes equals good" and "brunette equals not-so-good" variety.