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Anime & Manga
- Bakuon!!: Onsa Amano, more prominently in the manga. Rin commonly names her "moja" ("frizzy").
- L's messy hair is another artifact of his genius eccentricity in Death Note.
- Ranma Ĺ: Ranma Saotome has an enchanted hair ribbon because without it his hair gets really out of control.
- 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.
- Iceland's hair is described as looking "tousled" or "bedheaded" in a character chart by Himaruya.
- In Chobits 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.
- 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.
- In K-On!, Jun has naturally messy hair that she struggles with every morning to get into place, and, according to her, it "explodes" on her if she removes her barrettes. Because she does care enough to go through it every morning, we don't often see it being messy... unless we see her first thing in the morning, such as in the anime episode where she spends the night at the Hirasawa home while Yui is with her class on a trip, or in K On High School on her own class trip. It's pretty sensitive to humidity, which she claims she can use to predict the weather, and indeed, offers such a prediction upon waking up.
- When oft-mentioned horror novelist Sen Takatsuki finally shows up in Tokyo Ghoul, she turns out to be an Unkempt Beauty with major bedhead. Even when she does make an effort, it just results in a particularly messy bun piled on top of her head. It definitely helps establish her as a quirky, eccentric, and Adorkable character that exasperates her editor to no end. At first anyway... Averted in the sequel, in which she cuts her hair into a neat short bob few minutes before she confessed that she's a ghoul in public.
- Variable Geo: Satomi's hair is always short and mussy, because she barely earns enough to support herself and her kid brother. So hair care is luxury she can't afford, and her fans wouldn't have it any other way.
- In Ping Pong, Peco, after he quits the Katase High team.
- Mika in Seraph of the End has blonde hair that sticks up on top of his head. Not that this makes him any less Bishōnen.
- Ryousuke's mother in Bokura no Hentai began to suffer from mental health problems after her daughter's death. She has an overall disheveled appearance. When Ryousuke is reunited with her, after he's sent to live with his dad while his mom recieves treatment in a psychiatric hospital, it's shown her hair has been cut into a pixie cut.
- Nagisa's hikikomori brother in Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai keeps his hair in a messy ponytail. He gets a haircut when he decides to join the Self Defense Force.
- According to flashbacks in Wandering Son it's shown that as a teenager Yuki's hair had grown long when she refused to go to school anymore, after being forced into wearing the girl's school uniform by bullies in middle school. When we see a picture from her Coming of Age ceremony her hair has been cut but when she began living as a woman she grew it out again.
- The protagonist of Kasane has messy long hair in combination with her overly large eyes and sharp teeth. She's been bullied all her life for her looks and has insecurity issues.
- Tomoko from No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! is an otaku with No Social Skills. Her long hair isn't usually combed too well.
- Shuri's mother in Komori-san Can't Decline!. Combined with the fact that she never opens her eyes, it gives her a constantly exhausted look.
- Rakka from Haibane Renmei has messy hair due to the static electricity caused by her halo. Even after the static goes away, her hair is in a permanent state of messiness. It also doubles as Stubborn Hair.
- The Sandman: 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).
- In The Matrix fanfic Bringing Me To Life two characters have this. Neo in the early parts with his almost always messy hair is a combined normal/just doesn't care example, while Max in the later parts has this as his normal hairstyle.
- Child of the Storm:
- Harry, as per canon. His bedhead is spectacular, his post-shower hair even more so, to the point where Carol bursts out laughing.
- Carol herself has spectacular bedhead, since she's Not a Morning Person.
- Hermione, also as per canon, though it gets a little more manageable with time. This likely has something to do with the fact that she's the daughter of the more manageably curly/wavy haired Wanda Maximoff.
- Whenever Kill la Kill fan-artist Herokick draws Ryuuko, they tend to draw her with messy hair, as illustrated  and ◊. It serves a contrast between her and Satsuki, as the latter's hair always neat, suiting her rather prim, proper, and practical personality, while Ryuuko's hair alludes to her wild personality.
- Scorpius Malfoy in Returning gets this after only a few days at Hogwarts where his parents aren't around to remind him to brush his hair. It's one of the few visual differences between him and Draco at his age.
- One of the main character's most iconic traits in FREAKIN GENSOKYO. Described as "curly-ass, dishwater-blonde Danny-Sexbang-esque hair, except with more grease".
Films — Animation
- Hiro Hamada from Big Hero 6. Word of God says this is because he thinks "cool hair should never look combed".
- Merida from Brave. Her hair is not a reflection of her sanity or her quirkiness, but rather a consequence of her preferring more physical activities over traditional feminine traits such as taking care of her appearance. The creator of the character said that Merida was designed to give girls a more attainable role model and because of that, she was given messy hair to show that she has no time and/or interest in looking good. Considering that extremely curly hair is difficult to maintain, specially with medieval elements (Anti-Frizz hair products weren't invented) her hair is very realistic and justified.
- Flint Lockwood of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has wild hair that he has to struggle to get to lie down flat.
- Coraline: Wybie and his Other World doppleganger both have Messy Hair.
- 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).
- Wanderer from Leafie, a Hen into the Wild has long, messy feathers on his head that emphasise his mysteriousness.
Films — Live-Action
- Max, the reclusive math genius in the movie π. His neighbor tries to adjust it, but he brusques her off.
- Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is one of the earliest portrayals of this trope on film.
- The killer in The Final Terror has such long and messy hair that it works as an effective camouflage.
- Harry Potter: Bellatrix Lestrange's, Hermione's in the first two and seventh films.
- Aragorn's hair in The Lord of the Rings tends to hang over his face in strings. Apparently, combs are not regular Ranger equipment.
- Mort Rainey's hair in Secret Window was described in one review as looking as though it was combed with an eggbeater.
- Thor: The Dark World: The only time Loki's hair is less than perfect is when he's mourning for his mother.
- In WarCraft, Garona has a flurry of curls much like the page image, but bigger and likely impossible to comb.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: 1973 Charles Xavier doesn't bother with his grooming because he's too depressed to care.
- In Around the World in 80 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 later books, however, her hair manages itself.
- In Paul Kidby's artwork, she has a gigantic Bride-of-Frankenstein-toned afro, based on the book's description of it as a dandelion clock.
- 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.
- Then there's eccentric medical examiner Waldo Butters whose hair looks perpetually electrocuted.
- Harry Potter:
- Harry 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. (The films have given up the look around the third installment, alternating for Emma Watson's naturally wavy hair instead. By the fourth film she also became rather blonde).
- 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.
- Luna, resident Cloudcuckoolander, 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.
- 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.
- Similarly, when we first meet Lessa in Dragonflight, she's grimy, with matted hair, since she lives disguised as a "drudge", or household servant/slave. Even she's surprised by how long her hair is once she gets it washed and brushed out.
- 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.
- Junie B. Jones. The illustrator's initial sketches for the character had her with neat hair until she realized it didn't suit the character.
- In Newsflesh, Georgia describes her curly hair as "comes in two settings: long enough to tangle, and short enough to look like I havenít brushed it in years. I prefer the short version." In her world, hair too short for an attacking zombie to grab is practical. She also really doesn't much care about her appearance, except for special occasions and her insistence on dying her hair back to her natural dark brown. She dislikes the blonde streaks created by the bleach used in the standard Decontamination Shower she has to go through regularly.
- In The Goblin Emperor, Cala wears his hair in a messy braid. He just doesn't care.
- According to the Heimskringla, Harald Fairhair swore not to cut his hair until he'd been made king of Norway, and as such had go around being known as the slightly less impressive "Tangle-Hair" for the first part of his adult life.
- Kinkfur from Warrior Cats is named because of his permanently kinky fur. It's possible that he has some curly-furred cat breeds in his blood.
- Hatter in Syfy's Alice miniseries.
- 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.
- 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."
- Doctor Who:
- The Second Doctor had an unkempt mop-top haircut as well as an abiding five o' clock shadow, both of which sets him off against the clean-cut First Doctor. He has his hair tidied in "The Macra Terror" and "The Enemy of the World", and apparently hates both the look and sensation of having it combed both times.
- The Fourth Doctor has a mop of longish, aggressively curly hair. Messing it up from the Third Doctor's hairstyle with his hand is actually the very first thing he does after regenerating and it's usually tangled, though precisely how messy it is seems to have a lot of variation depending on the story (ranging from relatively smooth and tidy in "Terror of the Zygons" to a complete frizz in "The Power of Kroll"). Tom Baker refused to let the makeup team touch it after the start of recording because he felt it would be out of character for the Doctor to comb his hair while he was saving the universe — see Episode 4 of "Pyramids of Mars", where he starts out with a combed bouffant which you can watch slowly coil up into a springy mess. In "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor claims his hair curls whenever he's thought up a good idea (or when it's going to rain).
- The Eighth Doctor has messy, curly hair too, but longer and looser than the Fourth Doctor's. Both he and the Fourth are the resident loopy romantics of the Doctors.
- The Tenth Doctor has pretty unkempt hair, though the kind that's clearly deliberately messy. Like with the Fourth Doctor, the mess level depends a lot on the story.
- The Eleventh Doctor had wild hair in his first season, but it was gelled to immobility from "A Christmas Carol" onwards because it was causing the hair continuity people a headache.
- The Twelfth Doctor originally had short silver curls in Series 8, but it has grown out into a curly silvery mess by Series 10.
- 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.
- The Flash (2014):
- Dr Harrison Wells starts the series with reasonably tidy hair, but it gets longer and more unkempt as time goes on. By the time his true identity as the Reverse Flash is revealed, 'distinctly ruffled' has become his hair's default state.
- Harry Wells of Earth-2 has very messy hair that sticks up and out in all directions, which helps to indicate that he is focussing completely on his mission to defeat Zoom to the exclusion of everything else.
- Glee features Blaine Anderson, whose naturally frizzy, curly hair isn't revealed until hair gel is banned by ditzy Britney. His arc in the episode was meant to show how even the character always presented as the most proud and comfortable in his own skin still has body image issues. The frizzy hairstyle then disappeared for two seasons, when Blaine attempted to rock the look as an Expository Hairstyle Change. Even his best friend didn't recognize him.
- Gossip Girl: Fans speculate if Serena van der Woodsen even owns a hairbrush.
- Dan's season five hair is considered by some to be its own character.
- Parodied in the 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.
- Rodrigo in Mozart in the Jungle (and his real-life inspiration, Gustavo Dudamel).
- The Office (US): Jim has messy, cowlicked hair until the end of the third season, when he gets an Important Haircut. After that, it's not quite as messy, but not as well-groomed as the few episodes after the haircut. It's even lampshaded when Michael tries to imitate Jim in the second season by messing up his normally tidy hair.
- John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis has perpetually messy hair, which helps to indicate his status as the resident Military Maverick who is Brilliant, but Lazy.
- 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◊.
- 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.")
- If there's a poster or painting depicting Syd Barrett, chances are it will show his hair either in a Dylan-esque frizz or messily straight down.
- Invoked in US Championship Wrestling on "Gorgeous" Gary Garvin, who takes great pride in his appearance. When Lexie Fyfe finally got a match with the meddlesome manager, one of the first things she did was mess up his hair.
- Mad Margaret in Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore.
- Moritz Stiefel from Spring Awakening is almost always portrayed as having messy hair, as befitting his anxious, scattered thoughts. Played With in the Deaf West Production, where Moritz's hair is slicked down but his Inner Voice (who represents his inner desires/true self to a certain extent) still has the trademark hair.
- Advanced Variable Geo: Satomi appears the same as she does in her anime portrayal - with her hair being short and mussy, for the same reason. Though she never seems concerned about her appearance.
- Musashi Samurai Legend: 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.
- In Persona 5, your teacher Sadayo Kawakami always has a messy bed head at school, due to moonlighting a second job in the evenings that causes her to oversleep and not have enough time to bother combing her hair in the mornings. The protagonist himself has unkempt curly hair, a visual indication of the trickster hiding beneath his meek facade.
- In The Elder Scrolls, this is a commonly depicted trait of Namira, the Daedric Prince of the Ancient Darkness, associated with all things revolting, decay, disfiguring diseases, and cannibalism. This combined with her black dress means that her appearance all but crosses into crosses into Witch Classic territory (minus the pointy black hat).
- Target Of Desire Episode 1: How many hours in the morning does Maria spend to get her hair that messy?
- Zimmy of Gunnerkrigg Court has messy hair with lots of flyaways as one part of her generally unkempt and dirty appearance, and Jack's hair has become steadily messier as he's become more Zimmy-like.
- Bleu of Cuanta Vida has stupid hair. It always looks like that, by the way, it's not just hat hair.
- Vaarsuvius from The Order of the Stick, while s/he was suffering the effects of trance deprivation.
- Several of the trolls from Homestuck: Karkat Vantas◊, Gamzee Makara◊ (easily the best example among them), Aradia Megido◊, Nepeta Leijon◊, and arguably Vriska Serket◊.
- In Impure Blood, everyone goes from waking up to look, with their hair still down.
- In Sinfest Monique looks Medusa-like when she wakes.
- More than half of Archipelago's male characters have hair like this. In particular, Blitz (and therefore Raven) has hair◊ that goes up, down and all around.
Alice: Hair like yours is hard to forget.
- Lampshaded when Riley is surprised that Alice remembers him.
- Surprisingly averted by Tamaura of Blindsprings while she lives in the magical forest - she has a huge mass of hair, and lives in a forest, but her hair somehow manages to look well-kept, though enormous. After she leaves the forest, her hairdo visibly disintegrates, hinting that it was held up by magic.
- In Godslave, Edith has no Wake Up Make Up benefits, which results with her waking up with an awful case of having a tangled mess on her head.
- Phineas Kidd, the title character of Kidd Commander has pink messy hair. "That hair gets stupider every time I see it, I swear to god." says Jocasta to Phineas, p.80. Phineas loves her messy hair, which acquires with the art improvement a superlative "boof".
- 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...
- 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.
- Zuri and Tiifu from The Lion Guard have messy fur (and fur markings) to better help distinguish them, considering there is only so much you can do with lion designs.
- 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 Powerpuff Girls (2016) Buttercup has a cowlick to visually distinguish her as the rambunctious tomboy.
- As first expressed in the SheZow episode "Coldfinger", whenever SheZow's hair is messy, her powers won't work. Fortunately for her, she keeps a can of hairspray in handy.
- Amethyst from Steven Universe is a messy and wild woman with long, uncombed hair.
- 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, not to mention the picture book Crazy Hair. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A certain Albert E. Hey, with his smarts, Mr. Einstein didn't need to keep his strands looking maintained.
- Mia Wasikowska looks like her hair-care routine consists of two steps: 1. Wash it. 2. Maybe comb it. Not that anyone's complaining.
- Darren Criss' hair is a curly mess. Fans will forever argue over whether he looks better this way, or with the short straight hair he had on Glee.
- This is addressed on Glee, when it's revealed that Blaine's hair is naturally curly just like his actor's, 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.
- 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...)
- Pittsburgh Steelers 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.
- Jeff Buckley, he had quite a variety of hairstyles, but not a single one was neat.
- Milton Jones is an example of this trope. However, it's mostly only when he's doing comedy. He thinks it makes him look funnier.
- Ian Anderson, early in his career, tended to look like a hobo.
- General Jean-Baptiste Kléber◊'s hair looked like a lion's mane, only adding to his impressive stature.
- John Cooper Clarke has distinctively messy black hair, reflecting his status as the "punk poet" of the late 70s/early 80s.
- Peter Jackson, combined with Perma-Stubble.
- The late British comedian Ken Dodd combined wild hair with buck teeth, supporting his crazy, energetic image. The energy was real (he was working nearly up to his death at the age of 90), but the craziness covered a highly professional competence in his craft.