Some characters have hair colors that are possible, but very uncommon for the setting. The show is otherwise realistic, but the writers don't want all the characters to have the same hair colors. This trope shows up mostly in East Asian works, where hair colors other than black or dark brown are rarest, but is by no means limited to that part of the world. A black character with blonde hair would be a good example. Usually, this is at least a little justified. The character might have foreign parents, or dye their hair, or something more interesting (like being a robot). Other times, the reasons are left to the viewer's imaginations. When hair colors become humanly impossible, we have You Gotta Have Blue Hair. See Hollywood Genetics when a person has a hair color that is different than their biological family.
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Anime & Manga
- The Vision of Escaflowne has Hitomi Kanzaki, who has light brown hair and green eyes.
- Rurouni Kenshin, the redheaded ronin from 19th century Japan. Though redheads are known to exist naturally in Japan, they're still incredibly rare. This is lampshaded in the first episode where one of the characters identifies Kenshin as the Battosai because of his red hair and the scar on his cheek.
- Azumanga Daioh has Chiyo, who is a redhead. Most of the other characters have black hair, though, which makes this at least at a little more plausible than the other examples. Natural Japanese red-heads do exist, but they are extremely rare, and no one brings attention to Chiyo's hair color even though it's something the cast should notice as outlandish, even if it is plausible. Then again, she's also a child prodigy, which is also extremely rare.
- Ah! My Goddess would fit into plausible hair, except that one of Those Two Guys is blond. Aside from him, all characters in either have black hair or are goddesses or, in a few cases, both. Considering that one guy is the one human who has blond hair, it's pretty close to actual Japanese demographics. (He's also a leather-and-shades-wearing punk biker with spark plugs for earrings; it's likely that he bleaches it — see the notes for Midori Days below.)
- Digimon generally has hair colors that naturally occur on humans (except for a few, like purple-haired Miyako), but for a nearly all-Japanese cast, we're talking an inordinately high amount of blond, red, and brown hairstyles:
- The blonds of Digimon Adventure, Yamato and Takeru, are part-French, and Touma is part-Austrian, so that, at least, is reasonable. The same explanation doesn't seem to be the case for the other blonds present in the series, Yamaki, Izumi, Kiriha, and Yuu (the latter of whom has a brunette sister). Izumi is implied to be at least partially Italian, so presumably one of her parents are from Italy and moved there after Izumi was born.
- Do Jou, Ken, and Jianliang have black hair stylized to appear as blue, or is it outright dark blue/indigo? We may never know.
- Let's not forget the Digimon Emperor and his spiked hair, which is not one but TWO shades of blue! It's somewhat justified as it's the result of his costume in the Digital World which disintegrates upon his Villainous Breakdown, but his real hair is still an obvious indigo, so... The additional shade of blue in the Kaiser's hair was that of his dead brother Osamu, to whose reputation Ken tried to live up at that time. The Digital World is in this season said to render clothes from the Chosen Children's subconsciousness and also created Ken's Kaiser hairstyle as a whole and the wacky sunglasses after Osamu's image, so it's kinda justified in this case.
- Allen Walker of D.Gray-Man has naturally white hair. However, this is justified as it's the result of intense psychological trauma, his original hair color being brown.
- The same goes for No. 6's Sion/Shion, whose originally brown hair was changed to a stark white due the trauma of almost dying from a parasitic bee's attack.
- Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer has a few blondes here and there amongst the black and brown. (The outrageous hair colours are reserved for the Angels, who are all robots.)
- Tamaki, Renge, and Honey from Ouran High School Host Club all have blond hair, and the Hitachiin twins are both redheads. Tamaki and Renge are half-French. They, at least, have a reasonable explanation.
- Mai and Ayako from Ghost Hunt are redheads, while Takigawa has brown hair. (John Brown is Australian and blond.) It is implied, at least in Mai's case, that she dyed her hair.
- Midori Days has plausible brown or black for all characters except the leads, blond Seiji and greenheaded Midori. However, Seiji having brown hair in flashbacks implies that he dyes it, leaving Midori the only character with an impossible hair colour. Her real body has hair a darker shade of green. (By the way, the Japanese word for green is "midori".) Seiji may be a yankii. Anyway, in many anime, having blond hair for a male japanese character would be a short cut to saying "This guy here is a delinquent!"
- Lampshaded, and even somewhat deconstructed, in Fruits Basket. Although some of the Members of the Zodiac have dark brown or black hair, most of them have hair ranging from red/orange to blonde, and a few of them have grey or white hair (always corresponding to their animal forms). This is not normal for Japan. It's constantly noted by other characters, with most adults suspecting that they dye their hair. It's even worse with other students - all of the Juunishi with such unusual hair colors (except Momiji) got teased, or even bullied for it, as kids. Most of them were able to get through it relatively unscathed, but poor Kisa was traumatized by it. The most hysterical lampshade would probably be when the student council president demanded that Hatsuharu show him physical proof that that was his natural hair color...and Hatsuharu complied. By dragging him into the nearby bathroom.
- Practically all the main characters of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro have blond or silver hair, although in many (but not all cases), this is to show either that character has criminal connections (dyed blond hair is common in Japanese street gangs) or is not human.
- Ultra Maniac has a few people with blonde hair. Nina is justified because she's a witch, but on normal people, it's a bit jarring.
- The characters in X1999 all have fairly typical black or brown hair, but Kotori and her mother both have inexplicable wavy blonde hair.
- There are a surprising number of auburn-haired Japanese in Martian Successor Nadesico, but it's otherwise realistic if you consider blue or purple hair to be stylized black, and you remember that Ryoko and Inez are both dye-jobs (and Inez's nationality is pretty vague anyway). Ruri gets a pass for being a Rei expy (see below).
- Akagi Shigeru of Akagi and his body-double Hirayama Yukio both have silvery gray hair, despite being fairly young. No one in the series thinks it's strange at all.
- Baccano! has all but one character that keeps it away from probable hair colors (very few have black hair, but most of the cast is either American or European) — Sylvie Lumiere. She's mentioned to be silver-haired in the books too, so we can't even claim that she's a stylized blond.
- The manga, TV series, and video game adaptations of Area 88 give Shin blonde hair for no readily apparent reason, even though he's ethnically Japanese. Ryoko also has pink hair in the OVA and TV series, while Taeko has red hair in the OVA.
- The Medicine Seller has very pale blond hair in feudal Japan, which, like his Icy Blue Eyes, Facial Markings and Pointy Ears, goes inexplicably unnoticed by those around him.
- There's also the blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman from the Zashiki Warashi arc, though she gets a shocked reaction out of the innkeeper, suggesting she looks unusual even by the show's standards for a normal human.
- Death Note:
- Light has light brown. It stands out even more as his family members don't.
- Near's hair is snow-white. There's no particular reason to believe he's Japanese, but it's not substantially more plausible for a Westerner. Fan theory states that he's albino, which could theoretically make him Japanese, but this raises the question of why his eyes aren't red (although Real Life albinos eyes aren't always "red").
- Sailor Moon:
- Makoto has auburn hair. It specifically gets noted as unusual and makes people worry that she's a Japanese Delinquent.
- Chibi-Usa has pink hair. Her mother is blonde, her father has black hair. Not only does she have an odd hair colour, but neither of her parents share her hair colour. What has Sailor Moon been up to? Word of God is that her design is supposed to invoke an albino rabbit's. Likewise, in one of the earliest manga designs, Usagi was going to have pink hair herself. Though that decision was scrapped, Chibi-Usa's pink hair remained. Usagi's mother is pink-haired in the manga, so it could be a recessive trait
- Usagi herself counts for this, since her Earth parents have black hair and blue hair, yet she and her brother are blonds. Shingo in the 1990s anime is a near brunette shade of blond, but Crystal gives him a brighter colour like his sister.
- This is averted in the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, where the characters have regular Japanese hair colors in their civilian lives and only gain their unusual hair colors when they transform.
- Bleach: About half of the main cast falls under this trope to some degree, a smaller number have completely plausible hair colors, and a few have colors that do not occur anywhere in nature.
- Orange hair: The manga describes Ichigo's hair as 'honey' and Orihime's as 'caramel'; in the anime, both have an unnaturally bright shade of orange. This is a point of characterization as most people assume that Ichigo is a delinquent who bleaches his hair, and Orihime was bullied as a child because her hair color made her stick out.
- Blond hair: Urahara and Kira are both naturally blond. Yuzu's hair color is golden in the manga (a darker mustard shade in the anime). Yukio's is justified on the grounds that he's part-European. Rangiku and Kiyone are blonde-haired in the manga, but red-blonde in the anime. Harribel takes the implausibility the furthest, as a Dark-Skinned Blond.
- Brown hair: Aizen, Masaki, Keigo, and Starrk all have relatively light brown hair. Chizuru has mahogany brown hair in the manga (unnatural red in the anime). Sado's hair color is justified on the grounds that he's part Mexican. Starrk may also get a pass as it's never really made clear just what race he or any of the other arrancar are supposed to be.
- White hair unrelated to aging: Gin, lampshaded with his name, meaning silver. Hitsugaya's indicates his elemental powers. Isane and Kensei have silver hair. Ukitake's natural brown hair turned white due to illness in early childhood. In the manga, Ryuuken had white hair even as a child. The anime gives him dark brown hair in flashback, creating a different kind of implausibility (since it implies his hair went completely white in less than 6 years).
- Soul Eater has a variety of hair colours ranging from the implausible to the impossible. An example of the former would be Maka's hair, in that her mother is suggested to be Japanese and her father has bright red hair (worth noting that the other Japanese women do have black hair). Maka's own hair is more a light brown or blonde.
- Lampshaded in Sket Dance in the online dating plot arc, where Himeko and Bossun become e-mail sweethearts without knowing it. Since Himeko told Bossun through e-mail that her hair is dark (and it's otherwise blonde), when they are about to meet each other for the first time, she dyes her hair black to keep the masquerade. When Bossun (not knowing why she is at the meeting place) asks her why she dyed her hair, she answers that it's none of his business and that it's anyway unnatural for a Japanese to have blond hair. Though it should be noted that she is a natural Brunette.
- In Weiß Kreuz, Aya's hair is bright red, and Youji and Omi are both blond. Flashbacks indicate that Aya and Omi's hair colors are most likely natural (and their other family members are all dark-haired). Youji is half-French, although this isn't brought up in the anime itself. Omi remains without an excuse, though.
- Revy from Black Lagoon has has purplish-black hair. Hair dye may be involved.
- Almost every character in Saiyuki. The ostensibly Chinese characters have a rainbow of hair colors (although at least with the youkai characters they aren't bound by the same physical rules as humans). The Westerner who could plausibly be blond has silver hair despite being 19.
- Sage/Seiji Date in Ronin Warriors is blond yet explained to be from the prominent Japanese Samurai family of Date Masamune.
- Early artwork of Yuki's boyfriend in Wandering Son had him with blond hair, while everyone else in the manga has realistic colors (though it could have been bleached considering his personality). The following volumes clear it up by giving him brown hair.
- Mariko from Elfen Lied has blonde hair in the manga, despite both her parents being Japanese with realistic hair colors. This is partially justified, as Mariko is of a completely different species.
- Eyeshield 21: For all its wackiness, is actually pretty good about hair colors. Most of the cast either has brown or black hair, and those who don't clearly dye their hair (they all have black eye brows). However, there are still a few exceptions in the cast; most notably, Taka's been a white-haired pretty boy since childhood, Agon was light-haired as a child, and Sakuraba's hair ranges from light brown to blonde. Given Sakuraba's status as an idol, it's probable that he was forced to dye it.
- Although the artist of Liar Game hasn't actually picked a hair color for Akiyama, he is always drawn with his hair ranging from a light reddish-brown to ginger to gold. Despite being Japanese.
- While the other team members in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman all have brown hair, Jun is the odd one out with long deep green hair. This could be chalked up to Hair Color Dissonance in the original series (as colorists sometimes made it more on the black or brown side), but the sequels and most modern artwork and merchandise make her hair a blatant emerald green shade.
- Haruhi Suzumiya: Mikuru is a redhead, possibly as a clue that she's from a time in the future when Japanese people with red hair apparently exist. You Gotta Have Blue Hair characters are, for the most part, aliens (Yuki, Asakura and Kimidori). Tsuruya's green Rapunzel Hair is still a mystery.
- Ooku: Gosaku can't hide his mixed Dutch-Japanese heritage because he inherited his father's wavy blond hair.
- In Haiyore! Nyarko-san, the human characters have brown or black hair (realistic colors for Japanese people) while the alien characters have unusual colors (Nyarko's is silver, Cuuko's is red, Hasta's is yellow).
- Largely subverted in InuYasha, where nearly all pureblood humans have black hair. Played straight with most youkai and hanyou characters.
- Other than the purple/blue/pink/green-haired characters in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, we have fair-haired Shiraishi and strawberry blond Rika - in an entirely Japanese setting.
- Shōyō Hinata, the main character of Haikyuu!!, has bright red hair and stands out amongst the predominantly brunet and raven-haired cast. Unlike other characters in the series his hair seems natural, as his little sister has the same tone.
- Three characters (two of them being siblings) in Your Lie in April have blond hair when their parents have dark hair. It's even more noticeable as the rest of the cast has black and brown hair.
- Atsuko from Michiko & Hatchin is a black woman with a blonde afro. While not impossible it's very rare.
- Everyone in Life has black hair except for Hatori and Manami, who are blondes. This is never explained but, considering that Hatori is a delinquent and Manami is a fashionable popular girl, they both probably bleached their hair. The Live-Action Adaptation darkens their hair.
- Rin from Bunny Drop is the only character with blonde hair. Not even her parents have blonde hair. Considering the reveal late in the series that Rin is not biologically Daikichi's grandfather's daughter, it could be considered foreshadowing. She might be biracial.
- In Brave10, there are three redheads running around: Benmaru, Kamanosuke and Hanzo. Not exactly the most common hair colour in 16th century Japan.
- Chise Hatori of The Ancient Magus' Bride is a Japanese girl with red hair and green eyes, which along with her natural magical abilities has led fans to speculate she's not entirely human.
- In Kill la Kill AU, we have a six-year old Ragyo's hair, which is blonde. Both of her parents have black hair, however, this is a tad excusable in that Amoridere isn't sure what hair color Ragyo would have had as a child, pre-life fibers, and figured it would have been either black (like Ryuuko and Satsuki's) or blonde (like Nui's). Apparently, blonde hair must be a recessive gene that both of her parents have, seeing that only then one of her daughters have blond hair (then again, Nui is an artificial human who has some of her mother's genes as a basis) and both of her other daughters have black hair.
- In Chlorine Grown Roses, Azusa's hair is half black and half blond. This is explained as being natural because her mom had black hair and her dad had blond hair, but it doesn't make sense because both of her parents are Japanese. Additionally, her friend Akira—who is also Japanese, presumably—is blond, and the tips of Akira's hair are still burnt from a fire she was involved in ten years ago. According to Azusa, "they would be there, for the rest of her life."
- In Hell is a Martial Artist Ranma wonders how both Usagi and Minako are natural blondes despite clearly being Japanese; though he does admit he doesn't have room to talk given he's a redhead as a girl.
- Inverted in Transcendence. Ichigo's naturally orange hair stands out on Earth, but it fits in easily enough on a world like Azeroth. In fact, given that he's a sixteen year old boy with powers rivaling that of the world's demigods, his hair is often seen as one of the few normal things about him.
- Lu Su’s hair in Classical Power.
Film — Animation
- Violet Parr from The Incredibles has long raven black hair while both her father and younger brother have blonde hair and her mother has auburn hair. Because dark genes are dominant she should have had brown hair at the darkest. However, considering her gloomy personality, it is possible that she wanted to dye it black. The Parrs/Incredibles have hereditary superpowers, so it's possible that genetics aren't quite the same for them, and Violet's hair is natural.
- In Coraline, the title character's parents both have dark brown hair while her own hair is blue. It's actually dyed blue and you can see in the picture with her and her parents at the zoo that her real hair color is brown, like her parents.
- In Frozen, Queen Elsa has platinum blonde hair, but her sister Princess Anna and her father Agdar have strawberry blonde hair and her mother Idunn is a brunette. Word of God states it's a case of Mystical White Hair because of her ice powers. Had she not been born with them, she would've been a brunette like her mother.
- Remy from Ratatouille has a blue fur tone that is unlikely to occur in wild rats. In pet rats, "blue" coloured rats do exist but are rare.
Film — Live Action
- Simon Phoenix, the main villain of Demolition Man is a black guy with blond hair. No explanation for this is ever given. But then again Phoenix is eccentric.
- My Life as a Dog: Manne is the closest thing Ingemar has to a friend but Manne has an unusual genetic trait. His hair is green. It's not bright green. It's a natural blonde hair that has somehow gotten a slight shade of green mixed in due to genetics. This makes Manne as much of an outsider as Ingemar.
- In Project NRI, artistic license gives Takasawa Juuri purple hair. The same goes for Kumoki Ame who has pink hair, and Yami Hikari who has green hair.
- In Game of Thrones, the three children of King Robert Baratheon all have blond hair, even though Robert is dark-haired and every other child ever born to a Baratheon and Lannister (all of the Lannisters are blond, including Robert's wife Cersei) has had dark hair. The children are later revealed to actually be the offspring of the queen's brother Jaime. Cersei hated her husband and hardly ever slept with him, but had carried on a sexual relationship with her twin from childhood.
- Simon from the Darkest Powers books has blond hair despite being Asian. Many people mistake it for being bleached however his hair is natural.
- Warrior Cats: Many characters have pelt colours that aren't plausible or even possible for actual cats. For example, male tortoiseshells are very rare yet Redtail and Sol exist, and in the former's case he sired kits despite male torties usually being sterile. Blackstar, Lionblaze, Mistyfoot, Ivypool, Graystripe, Brambleclaw, Sandstorm, and Mothwing are a few of the cats who have pelt colours and patterns that are genetically inaccurate.
Live Action TV
- Still Standing: Lauren is a redhead even though her parents and siblings are all brunettes. Might be plausible since her maternal grandmother is a redhead.
- Dead or Alive: Kasumi is a natural redhead, and Ayane has purple hair.
- Every girl in the original arcade of The Idolmaster has dark brown or black hair. Except Yayoi, whose hair is red with no explanation. Later, when the game was ported to the 360, some of the girls' hair became dark blue (like Chihaya) or dark purple (Azusa), but that can be considered stylized black, while the brown haired girl's hair lightened. Then, they introduced Miki, who has...blonde hair. Turns out, she dyes it. When Idolm@ster 2 came out, they added Takane, whose silver hair remains unexplained.
- Surprisingly, most Japanese characters in Sengoku Basara have realistic brown or black hair, except for Kasuga, Sorin and Rikyu, who are blond, and Kotaro, Magoichi and Yoshiteru, who are redheads. No one draws attention to this and it's apparently natural. There're also no fewer than six (young) characters with white/silver hair, implying it's an even more common occurrence than a blond or a redhead in the Basaraverse. Sakon one-ups everybody else by having two-tone hair.
- Misty and Lorelei from Pokémon Red and Blue stand out with their red hair. Most other characters in the games either have black hair, brown hair, or stylized colours that resemble those colours. The exception is Lt. Surge, a blond but explicitly American character. Being naturally red haired and Japanese is possible, but rare. Future Pokémon games give characters whatever hair colors they please.
- Umineko: When They Cry is full of examples, especially for a cast that's (supposedly) pure-bred Japanese.
- There seems to be a trend with red hair: both Battler and Ange share the same dark red hair color, but their parents have different hair colors (might be disputed, since Battler's mother isn't ever described in detail and isn't even his real mother). Eva is a Fiery Redhead, and Maria shares the brown-red hair color.
- Kyrie has white hair, which no one questions. Note that her skin tone is the same as the other women. At the very end of the story, Battler's hair also goes white, which symbolizes his acceptance of that fact that she was his real mother.
- Natsuhi has Multicolored Hair that starts out as light brown, goes to brown, and ends with (you guessed it!) red.
- Krauss and Rosa both have really light brown hair.
- Natsuhi's daughter, Jessica, is the only (human) character in the cast to have blonde hair.
- Pretty much all the main characters of Megatokyo. This is tricky to spot because nearly all the strips are black-and-white, but you can see it in the rare coloured strips and book covers. Kimiko has a light-brown-blonde colour. Erika's hair is orange-red. Miho's hair is purple, but given who she is, it may not be natural.
- Qiu Tong from Their Story stands out as the only blond amongst a cast of brown and black haired characters. According to flashbacks it is likely natural, unless she began bleaching it at a young age.
- Blonde blue-eyed Chinese women aren't exactly common but that's what Wei Wei from Beloved looks like. In comparison, everyone else is dark eyed and dark haired.
- Chris Griffin of Family Guy has blond hair, despite the fact that his father's hair is brown and his mother's a redhead. None of his grandparents have blond hair either. His hair probably stems from the original design for his mother Lois, who was a blonde until they changed it.
- Lincoln Loud of The Loud House has white hair, while his sisters have either brown or blonde hair (except Lucy, who has black hair, though given her goth personality, it's probably dyed and one episode implied she's naturally blonde). Lincoln's case is a bit of Fridge Brilliance when you consider the stress he goes through. Several episodes note that not even Lincoln knows where he inherited his white hair from.
- In the Life With Loopy shorts on KaBlam!, Loopy has blue hair while her mom is a blonde and her dad and brother are redheads. And according to a few old photos seen in "Send In The Clones", it's natural.
- Terry and Matt McGinnis in Batman Beyond both have black hair despite the fact that their parents are redheads. Justified in that it's later revealed that Bruce Wayne is their biological father.
- Young Justice:
- Artemis is half-Asian and half-white. She also has blonde hair. Artemis in the original comics is completely white. In response to criticism from fans on Artemis' hair, it was noted that she's based on a girl the writer's know thay is also biracial and a natural blonde.
- Lian, the daughter of the Asian supervillain Cheshire and the white superhero Red Arrow, was originally introduced in the comics as a white-looking ginger like her father. She was later changed into looking more like her mother. In Young Justice, Lian keeps her revised design however she has her original red hair. As her mother is biracial in Young Justice, it's not exactly impossible for Lian to turn out a redhead,
- The page image is of a Melanesian boy; in some South Pacific populations, like the Australian Aborigines, many children are born with light hair. Although this usually turns dark brown later in life, a few individuals have blond hair into adulthood. Some groups also have a very high incidence of albinism because of genetic isolation.
- Current Asian culture and beauty norms are heavily influenced by the West, so it's not uncommon for Asian girls to dye their hair. This is especially true of certain alternative subcultures like the Japanese Ganguro trend. There are also a small number of East Asians (especially Koreans) with natural light brown, dark blond, or reddish hair. Going back further in time, some ethnic and religious segments of Asia and the Middle East have traditions of dyeing their hair red with henna.
- Red or blond hair is more common than many Westerners think among South and Central Asian peoples, like the Kalash, Nuristanis, Tajiks, Uyghurs, and Mongols◊ (Genghis Khan himself was said to have been a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead). Light-coloured hair also naturally occurs in Middle Eastern and North African populations, like the Kurds and Berbers. It's worth noting that similar to the South Pacific case, non-European Eurasian blondness is more common among the young.
- Kwashiorkor (a form of severe malnutrition) can cause one's hair to turn red. The effect is especially jarring in ethnic populations that usually have brown or black hair, such as sub-Saharan Africans.
- Spike Milligan and his Army mates were astonished in 1943 to visit an Arab village in Tunisia where everybody had bright natural red hair. They nicknamed it Glen MacDonald. A cultured officer with an Oxbridge education pointed out that the Romans, the Visigoths and the Normans had all been this way and all were European peoples, especially the Scandinavian Normans. Could they be surprised?
- This can also arise from Mixed Ancestry. For example, the Afro-American activist Malcolm X earned the nickname "Detroit Red" due to the reddish tinge in his hair that he inherited from a Scottish ancestor. His friend John Elroy Sanford of Sanford and Son fame was similarly nicknamed "Chicago Red" and eventually "Redd Foxx" due to the similar colouration of his own hair.