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Messy Hair
"Someone give the anarchist a comb!"

Some characters just can't get their hair into a neat and tidy hairstyle. Others can't be bothered. Still others actually like their hair that way. All of them have Messy Hair. This is often used to set the character apart as unusual; it may indicate that they're a nonconformist, that they don't care about their appearance, or that they don't have the means to make themself look presentable. Or just because it looks cool.

Frizzy, tangled hair is also commonly seen on characters who've just woken up (except if Wakeup Makeup is in effect), which is Truth in Television for most people except those with particularly short haircuts. It often goes away by the next scene change with the assumption that they've run a brush through it offscreen, but might stick around longer if the character sporting Messy Hair is Not a Morning Person (for such people, coffee seems to be the best conditioner).

Long, tangled hair can be seen very frequently on The Ophelia, as part of that archetype's image of eerie, disheveled beauty; even sane, or at least saner, people might have it, to go with their general theme of unusual looks. Untidy hair, particularly dark hair, is also one aspect of Looks Like Cesare.

Brilliant but eccentric, absent-minded, or downright deranged scientists often have Einstein Hair, which is a Sub-Trope, as is the Wild Hair found on animalistic or close-to-nature characters and Wild Children. Shonen Hair sits at the intersection of this trope and Anime Hair, and is generally found on spirited young men. Messy Hair is also very common on conductors and musicians.

Compare Quirky Curls and Unkempt Beauty. See also Good Hair, Evil Hair.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • L's messy hair is another artifact of his genius eccentricity in Death Note.
  • Ranma ½: Ranma Saotome has an enchanted hair ribbon because without it his hair gets really out of control.
  • Rakka had constant "Halo-Hair" throughout Haibane Renmei.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Child!England had notoriously messy hair, and as an adult it doesn't really get any better.
    • Greece's messy hair is actually the subject of one strip where he explains to Japan that he doesn't like the rain because it makes his hair curly and frizzy, and Japan gets confused because Greece's hair doesn't look any different from its regular, already-messy state.
  • Apollo, the Big Bad from the fifth Saint Seiya movie.
  • Hideki's messy hair is commented on by several characters It's even stated that he looks weird when he tried to comb it for a date.
  • Kaoru Tanamachi, AKA Sex Hair.
  • Goku and most other Sayians from the Dragon Ball world
  • In Oniisama e..., "Lady Medusa" Katsuragi gets the "Medusa" nickname due to having very messy hair, which seems to be pretty uncommon in Japan.
  • Leo from Pandora Hearts. Until his Important Haircut, that is. Though, some of it still sticks out all over the place.

    Comic Books 
  • Multiple members of the Endless. Death and Dream have straight hair that sticks out in all directions, Despair's hair is snarled and ratty, and Delirium's is wavy and changes between various flavors of unkempt.
  • A Funny Background Event in one of X-23's early appearances in the X-Men books: While Psylocke is casually and expertly braiding her hair preparing for a coming fight, Laura can be seen behind her struggling to emulate her. Once the fighting actually starts it's revealed she failed miserably and settled for a messy ponytail instead. Her hair in general tends to end up messy and out of place since she normally wears it long and loose (apparently she never quite gets the hang of braiding it).

    Film 

    Literature 
  • In Around the World in Eighty Days, "[Passepartout's] brown hair was somewhat tumbled; for while the ancient sculptors are said to have known eighteen methods of arranging Minerva's tresses, Passepartout was familiar with but one of dressing his own: three strokes of a large-tooth comb completed his toilet."
  • Susan Sto Helit, granddaughter of Discworld's Death, apparently has supernaturally unmanageable hair as part of her general inherited oddness. On the rare occasions she manages to get it to stay still long enough to style it, she can actually feel it messing itself up again almost immediately.
    • In Paul Kidby's artwork, she has a gigantic Bride-of-Frankenstein-toned afro.
  • In The Dresden Files, the titular wizard Harry Dresden has hair that remains perpetually unable to be properly shaped. The fact that he doesn't have any mirrors save a small shaving mirror (because lots of things can use mirrors as gateways) doesn't help.
  • The eponymous wizard from Harry Potter has hair that won't lie flat no matter what he does. His aunt at one point cut it embarrassingly short but it had grown back by the morning. Hermione, meanwhile, has frizzy, bushy hair which she finds too much trouble to tame except on special occasions. (This hasn't been consistently carried over to the films, however.) And Harry's dad, who had hair just like his, used to mess it up on purpose because he liked looking as though he'd just been flying.
    • As to Harry's, interpretations of Rowling's description vary from 'vaguely tousled' to 'record-setting bedhead'
    • As to Hermione's there's a lot of Truth in Television: Hair like hers takes hours to make it hard to look cared for.
    • Luna, who has "scraggly" hair. It's probably naturally curly like Hermione's, but is most likely a lot thinner, so it isn't so much bushy as scraggly. Hermione's hair is long (she has it in a long plait in DH) and extremely thick.
  • Door of Neverwhere had tangled hair at first, as part of her general grimy and ragged appearance, but fixed that when she had a chance to bathe properly.
  • Mike Donovan from I, Robot is always described as having perpetually messy hair that rejects all attempts to tame it. It goes with his Fiery Redhead personality.
  • Miyamoto Musashi (aka Shimmen Takezo) in "Musashi" is described as having hair like "a bird's nest". The fact that he never washed it because he didn't want to be vulnerable to attack while bathing probably had a lot to do with it.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who has pretty unkempt hair. The Eleventh's is so bad, he initially thinks he's a she. The Fourth Doctor has a tangled mop of curls. The Eighth Doctor has hair like this, about chin-length. And he's even weird by Doctor standards. The Second Doctor had unkempt hair as well as an abiding five o' clock shadow.
  • In Firefly, River Tam's hair is long, wild, and unkempt, partially because she's insane and thus doesn't seem to care a whole lot for it. Of course, she's the most "in-tune" of all the characters, being a psychic. In Serenity, her hair is a bit more controlled, hinting at her growing sense of self-control.
    • In The River Tam Sessions, the first session shows River's hair as being very neat and well-groomed. As she is experimented on and begins to lose her grip on sanity, her hair (and the rest of her appearance) becomes progressively messier.
  • In Taxi, the character Reverend Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) usually had messy hair to go along with his regular drug use and "spaced-out" behavior. Here's a picture of the Reverend.
  • Parodied in How I Met Your Mother episode "The Platinum Rule" when Ted spends the ENTIRE episode trying to get his hair messy in the exact right way to go impress a girl. At one point when he's about to leave he gets stalled when one of his friends messes up his messed up hair, and Ted returns to the mirror trying to re-perfect it.
    • Which is pretty ironic considering that Ted's hair is always a large spiky mess.
  • Hatter in Syfy's Alice miniseries.
  • Bernard Black in Black Books.
    • ...also, every other character played by Dylan Moran, including his stage persona. As he himself says: "It's its own bioculture, I just leave it alone... we sleep in separate rooms."
  • John Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis
  • Fans speculate if Serena van der Woodsen even owns a hairbrush.
    • Dan's season five hair is considered by some to be it's own character.
  • Kitty Sanchez from Arrested Development, when Letting Her Hair Down.
  • In the episode "Soul Mates" from Babylon 5, Delenn comes down with this...because until earlier that year, she'd never had any hair to deal with, and doesn't know how to care for her hair. Ivanova ends up having to help out.

    Music 
  • Bob Dylan, of course. ("Einstein disguised as Robin Hood...")
  • Robert Smith of The Cure.
  • Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack
  • 2D and Noodle of Gorillaz both have uneven, shaggy haircuts. Noodle pairs it with Blinding Bangs.
  • Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat, with his untameable head of ginger curls.
  • Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace has messed-up hair.
  • Buzz Osbourne of Melvins is known for the huge pile of messy black (or later on, black and gray) hair on top of his head.
  • Russian rock star Viktor Tsoi of the band Kino had wonderfully messy dark hair, good for throwing around.
  • Geddy Lee of Rush has been keeping his long hair a bit messy in recent years, though this is probably just a natural effect of having naturally curly hair that would probably be a Jew-fro if he kept it shorter. (He comments, while in very humid and hot Brazil in a short documentary, "Jews must have a hell of a time with their hair in this climate. We get the frizzies immediately.")

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • Musashi. just look at him. His real life inspiration did it to frustrate his enemies.
  • He may be in the process of balding, but whatever hair Trevor has left in Grand Theft Auto V is always in a messy state regardless of how you decide to cut it.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Several characters have this in Survival of the Fittest. Some examples include Jonathan Jarocki and Lily Ainsworth, for starters. Chris Richardson of Evolution is also described this way.
  • Pretty much the entire cast of Marble Hornets, save for Slender Man himself. It probably has something to do with the fact that the vast majority of the characters are (or at least are implied to be) Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • If you look on the comment sections for The Nostalgia Chick's videos (...why would you do that to yourself?), you'll nearly always see people saying she needs to at least look like she's brushed her hair. Somewhat shallow Fridge Brilliance here; she's only pretending to be a girly girl for her reviews, she's not really.
  • VlogBrother Hank is often slightly untidy, as noted in this video from February 2007.
    Some of my friends were telling me last night that my hair is sometimes a little bit messy on Brotherhood 2.0. So, last night I went to bed with wet hair. I haven't actually touched it yet, so I want to see what it looks like in its preserved state. It's kind of... skateboard ramp going on, and a wave, and little tufts — tufts like I'm a baby bird...

    Western Animation 
  • Icarus from Hercules has spiked hair that is assumed to have been fried when he flew too close to the sun (along with a few brain cells).
  • Pinkie Pie, resident Cloudcuckoolander of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is permanently knotted and messy, even after being ironed flat by a hairstylist (It repoofs in seconds) or being trimmed (It grows back instantly). It becomes perfectly straight and lifeless when she's depressed, though.
  • Both the title characters of Phineas and Ferb and Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode Tales of Ba Sing Se, the first story involves Katara and Toph having a girls day out. When Katara wakes Toph up, Toph's hair is so messed up that it looks like a porcupine is sitting on her head.

    Real Life 
  • Tim Burton's perpetually unkempt mass of dark hair has no doubt served as inspiration for many of his characters who are similarly coiffed.
  • Neil Gaiman has untidy dark hair, at least in his author photos. This is probably the inspiration for the looks of several characters he's written, including The Sandman, Richard Mayhew, and Tristran Thorn. One of his "about the author" notes includes the sentence, "He thanks you for the offer of a comb, but doubts that it would do any good." Even after a haircut.
  • Curly hair is often referred to as "messy hair" because many people assume it will be unstyled or not cared for.
    • Well, that's because when someone brushes it, the curls tend to merge into one giant puff ball.
    • And if you don't brush it people tell you you look like Harpo Marx.
    • And if it's secured back when you're asleep, it comes out of its tie and you suddenly bear a striking resemblance to Bellatrix (see below)
  • Helena Bonham-Carter, especially as Bellatrix Lestrange. To the point that it was a genuine shock to see her with neatly styled hair in The King's Speech.
  • Mia Wasikowska looks like her hair-care routine consists of two steps: 1. Wash it. 2. Maybe comb it. Not that we're complaining.
  • Fans of Darren Criss will forever argue over whether he looks better with the short straight hair on Glee, or the wild curly mane in A Very Potter Musical and many of his Youtube videos.
    • This is addressed on Glee, when it's revealed that Blaine's hair is naturally curly, but he hates it and spends hours straightening it with gel.
  • Similarly, Robert Sheehan cannot cut or straighten his hair without fans threatening (jokingly...we hope) to commit suicide.
  • Zooey Deschanel's hair just seems to grow out of her head like kudzu.
  • Scout Taylor Compton's hair often borders on Flock of Seagulls. Not that we're complaining.
  • There are exhaustive books, websites, boutiques and product lines aimed at trying to get hair like this to look good- usually, preferably, to turn it into Quirky Curls (especially the many that are primarily pitched at a Caucasian market). Some are a little... zealous about the importance of embracing it (check out Lorraine Massey's 'Curly Girl', with its twelve-step programme to a correct attitude to curly hair, and you'll see what we mean...)
  • American Football player Troy Polamalu is known for his long, wild hair. Not only is his shampoo endorsement deal particularly logical, but there are even jerseys with his hair printed over his last name, mimicking the way it sticks out under his helmet.

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