"Listen, man! You can threaten me all you like, but let's get one thing straight. Nobody, but nobody f*cks with the hair!"A specific type of Berserk Button, this character is extremely defensive about their hair and will quickly become angry if it is messed up or damaged in some way. Often used to indicate the character is at least somewhat vain as hair is often seen as similar to a peacock's tail—a display—and so it is a very easy symbol for vanity in general. Often played for comedy, expect these characters to have very outlandish styles. If it is Played for Drama, expect sexual molestation and/or assault to be a major element in their backstory, possibly including being dragged By the Hair. Compare Not in the Face!
— Yami, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series
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Anime & Manga
- Matt from Digimon Adventure says this in a throwaway line. Like a lot of stuff in the dub, it sort of disappears into the ether after that.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Android 18 hates it when her hair is damaged because it doesn't grow back.
- Himeko from Kannazuki no Miko cannot stand anyone touching her hair—unless it's Chikane. It's a result of Domestic Abuse in her childhood.
- Brook in One Piece will try to prevent enemy combatants from contact with his afro at any cost. His motivation is one of the most serious examples of this trope: being a reanimated skeleton, he considers it his only visible trait still the same from when he was still alive, and it won't grow back if it gets cut off. Why is this so important? Because his sole reason for staying alive after coming back, waking up alone and on a ghost ship and staying there for decades with no hope of escape, is to return to his friend Laboon, whom his crew left behind when they began their journey. Thus, he protects his afro to ensure that when the time comes, Laboon will be able to recognize him, and he takes the protectiveness to such an extent that he loses his very first real fight in the series in order to avoid damage to his hair.
- Musashi/Jessie in Pokémon. It's only come up twice in the series, but that's more than enough to hammer the point home. The first time, an encounter with a swarm of Scyther cut most of it off. Her weeping soon turns into a Slasher Smile towards the Scyther, and were it not for Ash and friends showing up, Heaven knows what she would have done. The second time, we get an idea: a wild Seviper defeated Ash's Treecko. That same Seviper also outsmarted Team Rocket's attempts to catch it… up until the point where it bit off a large portion of Jessie's hair.
Musashi/Jessie: AAAAAHHH, NOT MY HAIR! MY FLOWING HAIR IS MY TRADEMARK! Now I'm really mad! (Death Glare) You've made a very big mistake, Seviper!Kojirou/James: Poor Seviper!Nyarth/Meowth: It knows not what it's done!(Jessie delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Seviper before catching it in a Pokéball)
- Ryu / Ryo from Shaman King takes a lot of pride in his hairstyle. Unfortunately for him, his hair getting sliced into increasingly weird shapes is a Running Gag, to the point where you can use his current hairstyle to follow the series' timeline. In the first episode, Yoh cuts the tip off his two-foot pompadour to scare him away from a gravesite he's vandalizing. During the first arc's Storming the Castle finale, the whole thing gets cut down to the middle, leaving him with two half-pomps sticking out in a v shape. Both of these are then sliced off by Dracula… only for Ryo to come full circle by spontaneously regrowing his original pomp before kicking vampire ass.
- Yuri!!! on Ice has Victor. In this case, his hair is implied to be thinning out and he is in risk of getting bald, so his hair is a pretty sensitive topic. The fact that Yuri likes to poke his hair becomes a bit of a Running Gag. Eventually though, Victor grows out of it and lets Yuri touch his hair a lot more; the fact that they become an Official Couple definitely helped.
- Josuke Higashikata from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure part 4.
- Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever. Interestingly enough, this seemed to be a theme with John Travolta characters; see the Welcome Back, Kotter entry below.
Tony Manero: Would ya just watch the hair. Ya know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair.
- In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, a warrior of the Wachutoo tribe changes Ace's famous duckbill hair into horns during a duel. This pushes Ace over the edge. "All right. THAT'S IT! This 'White Devil' thing has gone far enough! Nobody! Messes! WITH THE 'DO!" Then immediately subverted when the warrior continues kicking Ace's ass.
- Undercover Brother: Undercover Brother is very protective of his Afro, including telling Sista Girl, "Don't touch the hair!"; telling Conspiracy Brother, "Don't touch the 'fro!", and beating up Mr. Feather when he cuts off a piece of it: "You mess with the 'fro, you got to go."
- Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class uses this trope. This is an in-joke to fans, since anyone who is familiar with the series knows that he goes completely bald. Xavier uses the Cerebro prototype for the first time, and Hank struggles with fitting the electrodes on his head.
Hank: Are you sure we can't shave your head?
Charles: (annoyed) Don't touch my hair.
- Princess Vespa refuses to make herself useful when escaping from the Spaceballs prison complex until one Mook's stray blaster fire singes her hair, then she picks up a blaster rifle and guns down all of 'em.
Barf: Not bad...for a girl.
Dot: Hey, that was pretty good for Rambo!
Princess Vespa: Let's blow this joint.
- In Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the news teams come together for a fight and establish some ground rules:
Ron Burgundy: "Now before we do this, let's go over the ground rules. Rule number 1: No touching of the hair or face! And that's it! Now let's do this!"
- Rapunzel in Tangled will let her hair be touched only by her adoptive mother, although this may be a case of having being told aforementioned mother that people would use her healing locks for their personal gain. She also does not want to talk about her hair much, to the point she neglects to mention its powers ("I have hair that glows when I sing") at a time when they may be needed…
- Soto the History Monk from Thief of Time. The book says that even the most restrained mind has a conditional clause somewhere, and Soto's is, "But not the hair. Don't touch the hair, all right?" He gets around the monastery's shaved-head rules by insisting that the hair is actually a separate creature which makes its home atop his dutifully shaven head.
- Otto Malarkey, a gang lord in Eoin Colfer's WARP Series, is very protective of his "luscious locks".
- Sophie from The School for Good and Evil is vain in general, but she's especially protective of her long, silky golden locks, because she sees such beautiful hair as proof of her destiny to be a princess. When a werewolf guard lops it off as a punishment, she actually murders him without a trace of guilt, and she begins Slowly Slipping Into Evil from there.
Live Action TV
- On one episode of Arrow, Roy volunteers Sin for a makeover from Thea so that Sin can look sexy/slutty and pose as a hooker as bait for a vicious hooker assaulter. Thea obliges, saying they'll do something about her hair, and Sin asserts that nobody touches the hair.
- Cheers. Sam is not only extremely protective of his hair, he's got hair care down to an exact science. This is probably because it's eventually revealed that, as did Ted Danson himself, Sam wears a hairpiece.
- Played for Drama in Inspector Rex, where molested children in an orphanage freak out when their hair is being touched.
- Fonzie in Happy Days.
- Uncle Jessie says this on Full House, to the point where it borders on being a catch phrase.
- Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when she is hit on the head by a crowbar.
Glory: Hey! (beat) Watch the hair!
- Spike imagines Angel doing this while mockingly impersonating him, references to the hero's Spiky Hair being a Running Gag.
- Jay-Don is a very loud (as in flashy) vampire who has two main rules: never touch the hair or the glasses. Angel stakes him to get into a heist by impersonating him. He gets rid of the sunglasses quickly but keeps up the fuss about the hair.
- After Angel gets turned into a puppet in "Smile Time", Winifred Burkle annoys him by going on about how cute he looks, "with the little hands and the hair." When she ruffles said hair, Angel tells her she's fired.
- Barbarino on Welcome Back, Kotter was like this.
- In one episode of Brotherly Love, Lloyd waxes nostalgic about how he and Joe's dad used to horse around together, and makes to muss up Joe's hair. Joe darts away and tells him not to do that. It's a long quote, ending in "Shoot me in the knee caps, that's good clean fun! But the hair is off limits."
- Ted from How I Met Your Mother hates people touching his hair, but only because he spends hours every day arranging it to look just right. Subverted at least once, with Barney deliberately ruffling his hair and Ted deciding that the ruffled look is actually "awesome".
- In one episode of Taxi, Louie tries to tell the cabbies about his supposed sex life with Zena, wanting to whisper about it in their ears. He tries to move Bobby's hair away from his ears, only for Bobby to tell him, "I don't even let people I like touch my hair!"
- Zak from Ghost Adventures has expressed this several times when his hair and it being touched or even the suggestion that it be messed with, such as the time they went to Fort Chaffee and saw the chair where Elvis had his head buzzed when he joined the Army and they jokingly suggested Zak do the same. His response was a "No. Just... No" Reaction.
- In World of Warcraft, Lor'Themar Theron, leader of the Blood Elves, says the following quote when you click on him: Do not. Touch. THE HAIR!!!.
"Hey, why don't you come over here and—Watch the hair!!"
- And speaking of Blood Elves, one of the /flirt quotes from the male Blood Elf PC has him interrupting himself:
- Don Flamenco from Punch-Out!! has a battle quote telling you not to touch his hair. In the Wii version, it's a wig you can punch off him, which angers the Don.
- Aoba of DRAMAtical Murder doesn't like having his hair touched because it's unusually sensitive, which is why he lets it grow long without cutting it often.
- Axios of Glory of Heracles for DS will sometimes say "Not the hair!" when being attacked.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon: Dartrix are quite fussy about their hair (or the plumage that resembles it), and have been known to stop in the middle of battle to tend to it. Touch a Dartrix's hair in Pokemon Refresh and it will look ridiculously offended, like so◊.
- Matchu has Amber, who is sick and tired of people telling her to donate her incredibly long hair.
Amber: I know it's for a good cause and all, but so help me god, the next person who tells me that is going to become an organ donor.
- Flaky Pastry: Subverted.
Zintiel: Agh, my hair! You cut my hair! That was a mistake.
Mona: Getting angry over losing such a superficial thing as a hairstyle! Such vanity is just what I would expect from a minion of darkness!
Zintiel: Huh? What are you talking about?
[Zintiel's cut off hair animates and attacks Mona]
Zintiel: I mean seriously. It was a mistake.
- RWBY: Yang has a long golden mane that is carefully styled in an asymmetrical way to look like fire. If her hair is damaged in battle, her eyes turn red and her Berserk Button explodes. She punched Junior through a window for grabbing a handful of her hair and blasted an Ursa to death for cutting a single strand.
- In Welcome to Night Vale Carlos, owner of the hair in question, apparently doesn't feel this way himself, but the guy crushing on him, Cecil, definitely does and gushes about his "perfect hair" every chance he gets. When Carlos gets his hair cut, Cecil is so angry that he gives out the name and location of the person responsible and is positively gleeful when poor Telly the barber is found howling and clutching Carlos' locks of hair in despair at what he’d done.
- Peter Venkman in The Real Ghostbusters.
- In the episode "Life in the Past Lane" of Daria, Jane falls for Nathan, a guy with fantastic dress sense, who turns out to be an aficionado of 1950s and '60s fashion. When the two cut the rug at a speakeasy-themed club, she runs her fingers through his… pomade. He freaks out, and runs to the men's room to fix his do.
- On Johnny Bravo, Johnny has this attitude.
- Lee Kanker from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy seems to have shades of this attitude towards her hair—she shoves Eddy away from her in "Look into my Eds" when he tries to move her bangs out of her eyes, and if she gets wet/injured/disheveled in any kind of way, she frequently asks, "Does my hair look okay?"
- Jimmy also frequently yells out "Hair emergency! Hair emergency!" when anything that might ruin his curls happens.
- Though there are no notable instances in Winx Club, the 4Kids opening theme song does invoke it:
You can look all you want/ But don't touch the hair!
- Jersey Shore-reject Anne Maria from Total Drama Revenge of the Island works on her hair so much that even reaching out to touch it will set her off.
- In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Rarity is fully capable of handling all sorts of danger and regularly works under crushing amounts of stress. Her reaction to having her mane dyed green, however? Quite loud.
- The Mask gives Ace Ventura a wedgie in the first of their crossover episodes. Ace takes umbrage.
Ace: You messed the 'do. And nobody messes with the 'do!!
- The Powerpuff Girls pilot "Meat Fuzzy Lumkins" has Bubbles going postal on Fuzzy after his meat gun turns one of her pigtails into a chicken leg.
- In the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode, "Lazy Daze", Zidgel tells Midgel, "I don't touch your buttons, you don't touch my 'do'."
- Mitt Romney. His response to a political rival's threats to physically assault him? "Don't touch the hair."
- John Edwards as well, who was reportedly very obsessed with his hair if this tell-all book written by a former staffer is to be believed. Also, this video.
- One common characteristic of autism is difficulty in processing sensory stimulus, with their senses either being under- or over-developed. For those who are hypersensitive to touch, even the gentlest ruffling, patting, or brushing of the hair may cause great discomfort and/or pain derived from what were meant to be affectionate and harmless actions.