A duo (often a romantic couple) whose contrasting hair colors signify their opposing world-views. Said hair colors are usually blond and black or dark brown, but it can just as well be red and black, or blond and blue
—the important bit is the contrast. Their respective personalities are then typically defined as follows:
- 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 two of them oftentimes have a shaky and volatile relationship due to their great difference in temperament and worldview. The Fair-haired partner often has to push at the Dark-haired partner to even get the relationship going in the first place. There's often a reason lurking in the Dark-haired partner's past to explain their hesitance, be it a failed relationship, abuse from their family, or simple shyness. Other times, the Dark-haired partner is just testier and not necessarily angsty. They may just be easily frustrated with their hyperactive partner's antics.
Ultimately, however, the Opposites Attract
This is particularly a staple in lesbian romance fiction
, where common pairings include a "good blonde
" and a "bad brunette
". A common inversion found in recent works features a slightly altered setup:
- 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
Compare the Seme
dynamics in Boys Love
genre and the One Head Taller
rule of thumb to recognize them. Also compare Red Oni, Blue Oni
. Contrast Betty and Veronica
, which is about romantic rivals
with opposite personalities and physical traits, while this trope is specifically about duos/couples, not Triang Relations
Compare Left-Handed Mirror
, another way to compare and contrast two characters.
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Anime and Manga
- As noted above, couples with contrasting hair colors are extremely popular in the Yuri Genre:
- 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 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.
- 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".
Live Action TV
- Glinda (blonde, "good") and Elphaba (brunette, "bad") from Wicked.
- Touhou: Reimu (black) is more collected, while Marisa (blonde) is more... blast-happy.
- 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.
- 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.