The face that inspired the "stubble" setting on electric razors.
"I'm trying to think of the last action movie I saw with realistic facial hair. I sometimes wonder how these guys go through days of unremitting action while still finding time off to use an electric shaver on the stubble setting."
So you're an Anti-Hero, or maybe The Drifter or an equally gritty protagonist Made of Iron. Now, how to get street cred as a Bad Ass Mofo? Cause big explosions? Shoot with Guns Akimbo? Nah, just stop shaving!
In the wonderful land of Hollywood, the law of Good Hair, Evil Hair is irrevocably ingrained in concrete. To wit, the only people who don't shave are Action Heroes; everyone else has good hygiene. Even Mooks are better groomed, or are ugly and easily distinguished from our hero.
Especially fun when the hero has a perfectly shaved head (unless naturally bald or getting there) and a five o'clock shadow. Even when starting a film with a perfectly smooth jaw, all it takes for the hero to grow his five-o'clock shadow is the sound of gunfire. Big Damn Heroes don't sweat when anxious; they grow facial hair.
May grow out into a Badass Beard if given enough time, unless he keeps it stubbly by choice. Tends to grow on a Lantern Jaw of Justice. Contrast Beard of Sorrow, which is usually temporary. Opposite of the Perma Shave.
Not entirely unrealistic, as men with dark hair but slow beard growth (and especially with lighter skin for contrast) can get a 5-o'clock shadow which then stays perma-stubble for days without any maintenance.
Almost ubiquitous among Mr. Fanservice characters, from the common female perspective that facial hair is manly, but too much is foul.
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Anime & Manga
Holland from Eureka Seven has some around his chin, and it does make him look fairly badass (you can see him without it in a flashback, though).
Yuuichirou from Sailor Moon is apparently the only male in Japan who can grow a beard (although Mamoru does make reference to having to shave) and he has permastubble in every appearance.
Kaji in Neon Genesis Evangelion. His stubble is even lampshaded a few times - Misato thinks it makes him look lazy, slobbish and complains about how rough it feels, but Hikari thinks it makes him look cool. Asuka (and fans) thinks it makes him look sexy.
It's pretty subtle (as in, you might not notice it unless you pay close attention), but Mugen has some very slight stubble and the faint beginnings of a mustache throughout Samurai Champloo. Makes sense, as he's supposed to be 19.
Wolverine as well, though the movies have him pretty well cleaned up at times.
Depending upon the era, The Punisher certainly qualifies - during his Nineties Anti-Hero phase, he had stubble so often his action figures had it. Since the Garth Ennis reboot of the 2000's, he's gone clean-shaven (although it has returned on occasion during Ennis' Marvel Max run).
Depending on the Artist, clean shaven Bruce Wayne sometimes grows an instant rugged stubble the moment he puts on the Batman mask. It's also reliably a part of any disguise as a disreputable character.
Lampshaded in the case of Desperate Dan of the British The Dandy comic: his stubble, like everything else about him, is super-tough, so removing it is very, very hard. It also grows back super-fast.
In Fables Bigby Wolf has to constantly shave because of his ancestry. This becomes a minor plot point in one issue because members of the SS were expected to be clean shaven and Bigby needed to impersonate one.
In the '90s, and in certain titles over the past year or so, you could expect any male over the age of eighteen who didn't already have a full beard or goatee to sport this, usually in either Marvel or Image comics. Practically the only one to escape was Captain America.
Comicbook representations of Soontir Fel seem to veer around this interestingly. As a youth pre-conscription he was clean shaven. After gaining some renown as a fighter pilot and starting to teach more pilots he grew a very neat goatee. But as various things happened and he lost faith in the Empire, he started getting more and more stubbly. He tended to have stubble after defecting, too. Not all the time, but, for example, there's a point when all of the Rogues are cut off from civilization for long enough that all of the human males grow stubble. A few scenes later, everyone but Fel has found time to shave. Yet he never has an actual beard.
Films — Animated
All male hyenas from The Lion King, most notably Banzai and Ed, for some reason have perma-stubble, which is simply a patch of darker fur around the muzzle.
If you look closely in Megamind, Megamind has perma-stubble when masquerading as Bernard. Justified, since Bernard had 5 o'clock shadow when Megamind scanned him with the disguise watch.
Films — Live-Action
Snow in Lockout has permastubble, sexy sexy permastubble...
John McClane of the Die Hard series has the shaved head variety in the fourth film.
Indiana Jones has this in all four films. He might START clean shaven, but as soon as he puts on the Hat, he has at least 3 days growth. It's lampshaded in Temple of Doom: "Shorty, where's my razor?"
Aragorn of The Lord of the Rings has about two weeks of stubble for three films, until he becomes king and instantly grows a regal beard. Elves can't grow beards, so the stubble works as a symbol that he's an outsider among them and not comfortable with the fact.
Toshiro Mifune plays a gruff and disheveled samurai in various films who usually goes unshaven. Mifune often sticks his arm up through his collar to absently rub his stubbly chin, which has become an iconic image for the actor and the character.
Escape from New York: Snake Plissken, though the film takes place over a single night, so naturally it never changes.
Colter Stevens has perma-stubble in Source Code, even when the person he's inhabiting is clean shaven. Which might be justified by the concept of "residual self-image": Colter simply remembers himself looking like that.
Perky GothMan Child Gary King in The World's End sports (highly untidy) facial hair, which coupled with his generally ungroomed appearance shows what a self-destructive lifestyle will do to you. He's clean-shaven - and sober - by the end of the movie.
The low-budget movie Trancers is a rare instance where the explanation is shown on screen. Jack Deth used futuristic technology to jump into his ancestor's body 300 years earlier. When he jumped, his ancestor had his face lathered up and was about to shave. Since Jack didn't know anything about twentieth-century shaving methods, he just wiped the foam off his face and went unshaven for the rest of the movie.
Jeff Speakman in The Perfect Weapon sports a five o'clock shadow that's actually just painted on.
Kíli in The Hobbit retains the exact same stubble length for the entirety of the first two movies.
In many variants of Our Vampires Are Different (Such as Anne Rice's), vampires can't change the length of their hair, because their regeneration simply causes it to grow back to the original length in minutes. Hence, they're stuck with whatever hair-length they had when they were 'turned'. Thus, for a vampire, having permastubble could actually be justified.
Samuel Vimes from Discworld . Even though he shaves regularly, he always is drawn with a stubble.
Ditto Nobby Nobbs, who was described in one book as "clean-shaven, at least he was clean-shaven the last time he shaved."
In Vimes' case, it probably has something to do with the fact that he's described as being so fundamentally, in-the-bone scruffy that he could "rumple a helmet".
Bendel, from Pettersson & Bendel.
True to its hardboiled roots, the hero of "The Dresden Files" is often described as having a light stubbly beard, though the length of said facial hair occasionally fluctuates. While any sort of stubble is noticeably absent from nearly all the cover art, the first few graphic novel adaptations had a hairier Harry more in line with the books' descriptions.
Artemis Enteri is described as having a stubbled beard that "no amount of shaving could ever lighten."
Lampshaded in Warbreaker, where Vasher's perpetual beard stubble leads Vivenna to wonder if he actively trims it too look like that. It's eventually revealed to be literalPerma Stubble; Vasher's a Returned, which means his appearance changes only if he actively wills it to.
Time Scout's Kit Carson always sports a little mustache, but when things go to hell during Ripper Season, he ends up with manly stubble.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, Stannis sports a beard that is trimmed so short that it's just a shadow along his jaw.
In John R. Powers' The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God, the main character, Tim Conroy, describes his pal Bill Weatherly thusly:
Weatherly was a rather strange fellow. He always had what appeared to be a three-day growth of beard, which meant that he must have gotten up every morning and shaved off one day’s growth.
House always looks disheveled, a combination of his disability and his personality. The stubble is lampshaded in several episodes. One of these has House actually giving himself a clean shave; the result is so jarring that he looks like a stranger, highlighting how much the stubble is associated with his character. On another occasion Dr. Wilson tells him, "I lied. I've been lying to you in increasing amounts ever since I told you you looked good unshaved a year ago."
In later seasons, Dr. Chase got Perma Stubble too, causing many fangirls to go "squee...."
Dr. Mc Dreamy on Grey's Anatomy. Also Alex, Jackson, and sometimes Mark.
LOST has an interesting case of this. Despite having very limited access to a razor, almost none of the males have grown beards. Maybe slowing down the growth of facial hair is yet another special quality of the island. The rest is covered under Improbable Hairstyle.
Though Locke is shown shaving his head in the hatch.
Jack's Perma Stubble is actually parodied in a sketch on MADtv. Apparently the only razor Jack has access to is a sharpened seashell which apparently only keeps his beard at 5 o'clock shadow.
On more than one occasion characters have questioned Hurley's beard growing ability.
Charlie's stubble borders on a beard, although in a season three episode he is seen shaving it off.
Sawyer always rocks it.
Shawn from Psych, who has actually woken up with less stubble than when he went to bed.
Dr. Cox on Scrubs sometimes. For the most part he's clean shaven. Though he did grow it out one season, and then J.D. started doing it.
The title character on Dexter. He's shown shaving in every opening sequence, but we see no more than a few swipes at his neck, so he apparently cultivates the look intentionally.
Don Draper of Mad Men has a permanent five-o'clock shadow (that gray color on his cheeks), even when he steps out of the barber's chair after receiving a shave.
Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice put permastubble on the map. Electric shavers didn't even have a "stubble" setting before Miami Vice came out. That was introduced as a direct response to Sonny Crockett's popularity.
Sylar, the brain-stealing supervillain from Heroes. In his meek Clark Kent-ish persona, Gabriel Gray, he is clean-shaven and wears glasses. As soon as he manifested his powers and learned that Evil Feels Good, he grew a Perma Stubble. (Well, alright, not immediately. But the only time we see him shaving off the stubble is when he visits his mother, who didn't know what her son had been up to.)
Peter had an on/off Perma Stubble in Season 1, which became non-existent in Season 2, returned with a vengeance in Volume Four, and hasn't seemed to disappear since. Also, Future Peter 1.0 was made of this.
Mohinder also had Perma Stubble much of the time. Future!Mohinder as of "Five Years Gone" replaced this with a full beard (and glasses).
Dean Winchester. This was also done to make his actor, Jensen Ackles, look older than Jared Padalecki, the actor playing Dean's younger brother, Sam. To an extent, it's pretty necessary as well. Take a look at him in 4x17 where he's quite clean shaven - and looks about five years younger than he does in the rest of the episodes. There were some other factors at play there but still.
Starting in season 8, Sam's also got the permastubble.
Castiel. Justified in that he's an angel posessing a man, and the body is either in stasis or Castiel maintains it the way it was when he took posession. The actor himself, Misha Collins, also seems to have a case of perma stubble.
Michael Westen grows a five-o'clock shadow in the second season mid-finale. This episode he portrays a hard-drinking bodyguard to catch the attention of a would-be kidnapper. It fits the character personality, but also makes him that much more Bad Ass when he "gets religion" and fights back.
Sam Axe never met a razor he liked. He gets called on it in the fourth season.
Teen Wolf: Derek, after the first couple of episodes.
Cal Lightman of Lie to Me is rarely shown clean shaven.
Mitchell from Being Human. He even shows up to an interview with a few day's worth of stubble.
Rick from The Walking Dead has an egregious case of this, as it is post-Zombie Apocalypse yet he still maintains a perpetual three-days beard growth. He even had Perma Stubble when he woke from a months-long coma! This is in sharp contrast to the original comic, where his beard does grow realistically.
John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis has a fluctuating level of stubble, but he is never fully without it.
Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1 had one for the first few episodes of season nine (allegedly it was to help tell him apart from Cam Mitchell who had just joined the show), but quickly went back to being clean shaven. However he was sporting stubble again in his final appearance in Stargate Universe.
The Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, which he seems to lampshade when he encounters his Fifth Incarnation;
Doctor: Check out this bone structure, Doctor, because one day you're going to be shaving it!
On Arrow, Oliver sports that after some time spent on the island, is shown to grow it into a Badass Beard by the time he is rescued, and then keeps the stubble once he gets back to civilization. Also, during the island days, Slade has Perma Stubble, that he probably keeps in check thanks to one of his many blades
Michael W. Smith in the 80's and 90's.
All over the place in Country Music; nearly everyone has stubble, a beard or a goatee. It seems a lack of facial hair is forbidden unless you're George Strait.
George Michael, from his last days in Wham! until at least the late 1990s.
As of Devil May Cry 4, Dante has one. Oddly, it's a different color from the rest of his hair. It's uncommon, but not unheard of, for facial hair to come in a different color than the rest of a man's hair. Supposedly Dante's hair color actually was originally brown until his demon bloodline kicked in, though this still doesn't explain why it only changed from the eyebrows up.
The characters in Street Fighter II were given a minor makeover in the Champion Edition, and one of those was giving a shadow to Ryu.
If you look hard enough at the large posters, you can see that Assassin's Creed protagonist Altair has stubble.
Several of the Team Fortress 2 classes namely: The Heavy, The Soldier, The Sniper, The Engineer and The Spy (or what little you can see through his mask) look as if they haven't shaven in a week. As for the others, while the Medic has a shadow enough to show he's a man who shaved yesterday, the Scout is so devoid of facial hair that it's as if his balls haven't even dropped yet. The Demoman has a fine bushy beard that seems to be a style choice, and the Pyro is none of your damn business.
When Solid Snake's being an angsty self-proclaimed bastard in the first Metal Gear Solid, he's clean-shaven. In Metal Gear Solid 2, when he's being far more personable and open, cue a shadow - apparently to invoke a vagrant living on a miserable budget, according to the character designer. Interestingly enough, an Easter Egg allows Raiden to give Snake a shaver as a present right at the start of the game, which causes him to be clean-shaven towards the end. You just have to find it first. (His friend Otacon also has permastubble, but that's more about being an unkempt Otaku than a badass.)
In the Metal Gear Solid graphic novel, the artist draws Snake smooth-faced◊ at the start of the story, gritty◊ towards the middle, and with a young beard◊ towards the end (and on the cover of the PSP version), suggesting he just grows facial hair very quickly.
In the fourth game, Phoenix Wright sports one, signifying his significant change in life and personality.
Gumshoe has this, along with a perpetual bandage over what is presumably a shaving cut. Since everyone in the games only has one sprite (unless time travel or costume change is involved), he never changes.
The default facial preset for Mass Effect's male Commander Shepard — which is a head-scan of Dutch fashion model Mark Vanderloo — has an impressive one of these, as well as a variation of stubble available for customized faces.
Shepard's lieutenant, Kaidan Alenko, also has this. It's even more apparent with the third instalments's improved textures.
Joker has one that's on its way to become a Badass Beard. In the first game, he even jokes he'll have to turn down a medal because the brass will want him to shave, which is not going to happen as he's "spent seven weeks growing this baby".
Volke, an assassin in the Fire Emblem series, has permanent stubble in Path of Radiance. He also happens to be one of the most badass and wittiest characters in the game. In the sequel, Radiant Dawn, he's wearing a scarf that covers his chin, but he exchanges the stubble for even more badass lines.
Batman again, in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Actually, he begins the game clean shaven, and winds up with stubble by the time it's over. Which in the timeframe, was probably all of one night (but maybe his facial hair does grow that fast).
Though we have no idea how long Batman tangled with the Joker before he brought him into Arkham.
Sims 2 allows you to configure your characters with permastubble - which is relatively tame considering that the same function allows you to change your hair color and length, longer OR shorter.
Glas, from Fear Effect has perma stubble in both games. (As well as the cancelled 3rd game.)
Angeal Hewley from Crisis Core, in contrast to the baby-faced, Bishōnen Genesis, Sephiroth and Zack.
If you don't have York shave in Deadly Premonition, he can eventually grow a full-blown Badass Beard. However, no matter how often you do make use of that razor, he still always has a permanent five-o-clock shadow.
Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell. Also, if you horse around too long on missions, he'll eventually grow a thicker one.
Motomi from Togainu no Chi. Although all the other males in Toshima are clean shaven...
Jacques Blanc from Onimusha 3. He was granted the oni power, allowing him to use whip-based weapons. Bonus point because he is modeled after Jean Reno.
Eoleo shows up to Golden Sun: Dark Dawn in stubble. His career indicates the action anti-hero interpretation, but the fact that he's an adult player character in a series full of teenage heroes probably contributes to it, too.
Averted in Max Payne 3, as Max starts the game with some stubble, and ends it with a full beard. Along with a shaved head
Dimo the Jaegermonster from Girl Genius is a Badass, and he has the stubble to match.
Displayed by semi-fallen angel Rumisiel in Misfile, in stark contrast to his clean shaven boy scout of a brother. It suits his stoner / slacker persona quite well.
Ronin Galaxy: Giancarlo's goatee isn't the neatest one, its surrounded by plenty of stubble.
Rocko Sasquatch in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. (He learns that he is actually a bigfoot who was exiled for being born bald; ironically, his beard and eyebrows are the only significant hair on his body.)
Several of the characters in Stubble Trouble are permanently bald (they're furries who like to shave off their fur, try to figure that one out).
Accursed Dragon: Coven has this once his curse weakens enough for him to grow facial hair. Later on, he grows it out into a beard.
The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Mr Rochester seems to be a wild one for a man who inherited a family company and should be a serious businessman. He has a tattoo and he dresses funky (skinny jeans and striped socks!). Teasingly, episodes 10 only showed him from a distance and then just his legs. In episode 11, viewers got to see half of his face — with nice stubble.
Mike Stoklasa of RedLetterMedia's Half in the Bag pretty much always sports this look.
Invoked and parodied with the main character in the PodcastSci-FiRadio DramaLog of the Crimson Lien. He's descended from genetically-altered humans, and as a result has extremely sparse and slow hair growth. Years upon years of not shaving has still only resulted in a 5 o'clock shadow, which he keeps because he thinks it makes him look like a rugged space adventurer.
Homer Simpson of The Simpsons, though in his case it's more to accentuate his low-browness. If he shaves, it still grows back in a matter of seconds. In one episode he's shaving but leaves his usual because Marge likes a bit of stubble, it has at times become worse when he can't take care of it. He shaves off his muzzle by accident at one point and uses a spray-on can of stubble to replace it.
Fred Flintstone from The Flintstones, Homer's spiritual ancestor. It shows his rather uncultured look rather than imply sexy look.
The Jetsons: For some reason, even though he lives in the future where anything can be done at a push at a button, George Jetson sports the stubble.
The Road to El Dorado: Spanish con men Tulio and Miguel spend days wandering through the Amazon, with no visible access to soap, let alone shaving supplies. Tulio's Perma Stubble stays immaculate through the entire film.
If we wanna argue robotic facial hair, one could say that Transformers Animated Ratchet has what at least looks like Perma Stubble. Even without the three little dents that are consistently drawn on his face, the area around his mouth is colored purplish-blue, like five o' clock shadow.
In one episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter's Mom comments to his Dad, that he looks especially rugged today. Dad replies its because he hasn't shaved for a couple days.
Colonel Hunter Gathers from The Venture Bros. maintains his permastubble even after getting a sex change operation.
Futurama: Bender grows rust around his mouth when he doesn't drink. This is a display of Fridge Brilliance since alcohol and effervescent drinks can be mildly acidic, which are rust removers.
Knowing the writers of Futurama, the odds of this being a coincidence are virtually nil.
The Swoofs from The Smurfs have what appears to be a ring of Fred Flintstone stubble around their mouths, though it could also simply be tribal face paint. Even Swoofette, who is Smurfette in disguise, has it!
Certain men (and particularly certain ethnic groups) have a facial hair anatomy such that it is extremely difficult to shave cleanly. This is particularly true for men of African descent whose hair grows in at a narrow angle. Shaving can also actually be more dangerous for such people, since closely trimming hair at such a narrow angle makes it far more likely for the hair to become ingrown. While some of these people do diligently shave anyway (particularly if they are a minority in cultures that have a taboo against facial hair), they never quite look clean-shaven.
Some people's facial hair just grows very, very slowly, meaning that it could take as much as a week before you actually notice it to have gotten longer. The opposite is also true. Coarse, dark facial hair against very pale skin is nearly impossible to wipe off short of removing the top layer of facial skin. The end result of a normal shave is a near permanent five o'clock shadow. (Jon Hamm is a good example. He's almost always clean-shaven on Mad Men, but never entirely loses the shadow.)