Red-Headed Hero

aka: Red Headed Heroine
It's not just heroes who prefer redheads.

"Although he seems no more than a simple innkeeper, we know there's more to him than that - he has red hair for a start, and under Article Five of the Fantasy Literature Act of 1972 it is illegal to have a redhead in a fantasy novel who isn't Totally Special (Ron Weasley slipped through the net due to the Sidekick Exemption Clause)."
Daniel Hemmens, "Whistle Down the Wind"

Some Heroes Want Redheads. Some heroes are redheads.

Considering that, of all hair colours, red is the least common, it isn't surprising that it is used when writers want someone to stand out, at least in shows that don't give random extras blue and green hair.

One distinction between red-haired heroes and villains is that where heroes tend to have bright-colored hair (almost reddish-blond), villains have darker-colored, almost brownish hair. Red is second only to blonde hair for a hero (see Law of Chromatic Superiority).

Frequently, they'll have a fiery personality to go with their hair.

A Sub-Trope of Red Is Heroic.

Compare Heroes Want Redheads.

Contrast Evil Redhead, Redheaded Bully, Red-Headed Stepchild.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kyo Sohma, one of two main male leads of Fruits Basket, certainly has the Fiery Redhead part down, as well as being somewhat of a Red-Headed Stepchild.
  • The Japanese definitely like using redheads and the color red in general. Take the Mobile Suit Gundam series, for example: Amuro Ray is a redhead, while Char pilots red mecha (that are three times faster).
  • Shana in Shakugan no Shana. Although, when in her "human" form, she has normal black hair, when she turns into a Flame Haze, her picture could be the title image for this trope. It's not just red, it glows and flame-like embers come off of it. Did we mention that it glows?
  • Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion (anime only; in the manga, she has strawberry blond hair).
  • Subverted with Hanamichi Sakuragi from Slam Dunk, who dyes his hair red.
  • Outlaw Star: Gene lampshades the trope in episode 5, when Swanso asks him to pick the color for the XGP's paintjob. He points at his own hair and tells him: "This color'll do."
  • Yuugen Kaisha: Ayaka's hair matches the color of the ensemble she wears in the show's opening, which gives her the look of a lounge singer. While she does have a bit of a temper, she's actually laid-back and more a tease.
  • Hikaru Shidou in Magic Knight Rayearth. She's The Kirk in the Power Trio of herself, Umi Ryuuzaki, and Fuu Hououji and while they all get focus, she's basically in the lead. And then she becomes the Pillar.
  • Mai Tokiha from Mai-HiME has orange reddish hair. Her mischievous opposite, Nao Yuuki, has bright crimson hair.
  • Half of the time, the hero is a redhead in Ranma ˝. And everybody wants her, unless they want him.
  • Slayers neatly reverses the gender on this by having the protagonist Lina be a spunky redhead and her love interest Gourry be dumb as a post and blonde to boot.
  • While Kinomoto Sakura (Cardcaptor Sakura) is mostly considered a brunette in the anime, she is more of a redhead in the few colour pictures of her in the manga. Same goes for her princess alter ego in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, but she goes under Heroes Want Redheads.
  • Momomiya Ichigo of Tokyo Mew Mew twists this: her human form has red hair, but post-Transformation Sequence, when she's actually doing heroic things instead of complaining, her hair is pink.
  • Rika (Ruki) from Digimon Tamers. Interesting fact about Digimon: the more Hot-Blooded a group leader is, the redder their hair is. Taichi was somewhat hotheaded but had a fairly balanced temperament, so he has brown hair with a slight red tint, though it's practically not noticeable. Davis/Daisuke was very Hot-Blooded and has reddish-brown hair. Takato is the calmest Digimon leader and has straight brown. Takuya resumes the Hot-Blooded pattern and has brown that leans toward reddish-brown. Marcus/Masaru is the worst of the lot and is as close to red hair as you can get and still technically be brunette.
  • Himeno Awayuki from Pretear, nicknamed "Tulip Head" by Hayate (though he stops calling her this after a while).
  • Hot-Blooded Kallen Kouzuki, Lelouch Lamperouge's Lancer and bodyguard from Code Geass.
  • Lavi and General Cross (although Allen might choke on 'hero" for that one) from D.Gray-Man.
  • Tooya from Ayashi no Ceres, called "Tamahome with hair dye and contact lenses".
    • Cyborg Guy's hair isn't natural. In flashbacks to before the accident and after he becomes an Evoluder, his hair is a pretty normal brown. Mikoto, on the other hand...
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Vita and Teana have red hair. Nanoha herself has reddish-brown hair.
  • Saiyuki has both a hero with bright red hair, Sha Gojyo, and a villain with dark red hair, Kougaiji. This is pointed out when Gojyo's older brother, Dokugakuji, admits that one of the reasons he started working for Kougaiji was because he reminded him of Gojyo. This may actually be playing with the trope a little, since, much of the time, Punch Clock Villain Kougaiji behaves more like a classical hero than the protagonists.
  • Daisuke from D.N.Angel, though he lacks the stereotypical temperament (he's very calm most of the time).
  • In the Sailor Moon manga, Sailor Mars has red hair in many colored images. Sailors ChibiChibi, Kakyuu, and Vesta have red hair as well. Sailors Moon, ChibiMoon, Ceres, Lethe, and Mnemosyne all have pink hair at some point and all are eventually good guys.
  • YuYu Hakusho has got two red heads on the Five-Man Band: Kuwabara and Kurama. Kuwabara's hair is sort of a reddish-blond while Kurama's is dark crimson; though Kurama's hair does change color when he assumes his true form.
  • Tsubomi Hanasaki from HeartCatch Pretty Cure! has literal red hair, which contrasts with her Innocent Flower Girl nature. It turns pink as Cure Blossom, though.
  • Juliet of Romeo X Juliet is a redhead. Red seems to be the theme color for the Capulets, with the Montagues are blue.
  • Shirayuki, in Akagami no Shirayukihime. Invoked Trope here, as the author wanted to write a story loosely based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", with the eponymous heroine being red-haired. In this manga's universe, this hair color is very rare, making the heroine sought after by various ill-minded people.
  • Fairy Tail Erza's last name, "Scarlet" is indicative of her hair color.
  • Lieutenant Kate Curtis, the titular red-headed protagonist of the hentai Bondage Queen Kate.
  • Yoko Littner from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • While Sae from Magic User's Club has a long, winding, pitfall-ridden road to get to the point where she is worthy of the "hero" part of this trope, her dedication and belief in her companions pay off in the end when she frees the world from alien control by turning The Bell into a giant tree. While not the protagonist, resident bishonen Aburatsubo also qualifies as one of the most competent members of the magic user's club who often saves the day when the group gets in trouble.
  • There's also Gaara from Naruto (after his Heel-Face Turn). And while Naruto might not be a redhead, his mum, Kushina, definitely was.
  • Ryoko Mitsurugi from Real Bout High School plays this very straight.
  • Yuzuru Otonashi who is also (although snarky) a Messianic Archetype.
  • Played with in the movie Sword of the Stranger, as No Name has red hair, though we only ever see it once, briefly, because he dyes it black to make himself less conspicuous.
  • Baccano!'s Claire Stanfield is either an example or a subversion, depending on whether certain tendencies are present.
  • Tigre of Madan no Ou to Vanadis qualifies. Aside from Elizavetta, the Vanadis of Lebus, he is the only person shown so far to have red hair.
  • Akane Isshiki from Vividred Operation, which matches the title of the anime.
  • Dragon Ball: Son Goku becomes this as the Super Saiyan God in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods.
  • Yuna from Yuki Yuna is a Hero has red hair normally but it turns pink when in Magical Girl form.
  • Ichigo Kurosaki, the main character of Bleach is a redhead and often gets accused by his schoolmates of dying it to stand out.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown Of Stars: Secondary character Sergeant Bir has close-cropped red hair and is one of the commanding officers of the Shinji and Asuka's platoon that intends to depose the dictators running the post-Third Impact world.
  • In the LXG parody Just the Best Mary Sue Ever!, the main character, Fellauroralisterinavetta Aanjulle O'Bamfwryter, has spectacularly glossy hair that looks like a halo of copper-colored worms.
  • Chloe in Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy has literal red hair in civilian form. Hanae is a more believable redhead (having orange hair), but gains literal red hair as well when turned into Cure Tangerine. However, both subvert the Fiery Redhead trope when it comes to personality, as Chloe is described as a gentle and kind-hearted girl, while Hanae is just a Shrinking Orange. The fiery one of the team happens to be purple-haired Ayameko.
  • Child Of The Storm has Jean Grey, Sean Cassidy and the mostly deceased Lily Potter.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Peter Quill a.k.a Star Lord of Guardians of the Galaxy is red headed. He is particularly ginger in the film's introduction, when he's an 8 year old, freckled ginger kid.
  • Played straight with Jean Grey, in the first two X-Men movies, but she defects in X-Men: The Last Stand.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi is a down-played example in the Star Wars Prequels. Interestingly, his hair is more towards the brown end of the spectrum (which, by the letter of the trope, points to villainy), despite him being one of the most heroic and morally upstanding characters in the saga. Also, he is anything but a Fiery Redhead, preferring negotiation and rational planning to combat and rushing in head-first.
  • Gutsy Smurf of The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2 has reddish-brown sideburns, which in The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow are made a bit more on the ginger side.

    French Belgian Comic Books 
  • Spirou from Spirou and Fantasio.
  • Obelix from Astérix.
  • Tintin was sometimes represented as a redhead (when he wasn't blonde or light chestnut). The animated series decided on an orangey hair color, as did the 2011 CGI film (Haddock even refers to him as ginger at one point).
  • Sonny Tuckson from BuckDanny.
  • Mélusine.
  • Boule et Bill.
  • Jeannette Pointu.
  • Soda.
  • Lanfeust.
  • Mortimer from Blake and Mortimer.
  • Sassette of The Smurfs.

    Legend And Mythology 
  • Odysseus of The Iliad and The Odyssey: his hair was described as "crisping red-golden". Menelaus of the same definitely was; "red-haired king" was among his epithets. Which is odd, because his name, Menelaus Xanthus, means "Menelaus the Blond"; he's called a red-head because, apparently, scholars never met any blond Greeks (they do exist). But something strange was going on originally because "Xanthus" also referred to slaves (foreigners, mostly). There's something metatextual going on there.
  • Thor, before Marvel Comics turned him blond.
  • Older Than Feudalism: in some versions of The Trojan War, Achilles has red hair to denote his fiery temper and badassery (and matches his common epithet as "blazing Achilles"). Menelaus and Agamemnon may have had red hair as well. Neoptolemus definitely was a redhead, even if his father, Achilles, wasn't. He was also known as Pyrrhos, which is Greek for "fiery red". Achilles himself, when he hid out in king Lycomedes' palace disguised as a girl (and, in the process, fathered Pyrrhos with Lycomedes' daughter Deidameia), called himself Pyrrha. Some think that Neoptolemos' alternative name may have been derived from his father's alias (he only got his name Neoptolemos, "young warrior", when he joined the Greek army before Troy).
  • In many retellings, Arthurian legend's Sir Gawain. Occasionally, Arthur himself is portrayed as a redhead.
  • Red hair is seen as the mark of Gilgamesh.
  • In Jewish tradition, King David is usually said to have red hair. The prophet Samuel was actually wary about anointing him king, believing that this indicated that he would shed a lot of blood; God replied that yes, he would, but it would be the blood of Israel's enemies.

    Literature 
  • Princess Ren and her sisters, in A Brother's Price. Not the only point-of-view character, but one of the most important ones. The royal family is famous for their red hair, which all of the princesses have.
  • Anne of Green Gables, title hero and a redhead.
  • Madeline, a childrens' book by Ludwig Bemelmeans. Madeline goes to a Catholic boarding school. The books are all written in rhymes.
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Pippi is about 10, lives alone in a house called Villevillekula, and is incredibly strong. Her father is a pirate captain and he goes off pirating, leaving her with piles of gold coins. She has bright red hair pulled out in two horizontal pigtails.
  • Tales of an Mazing Girl - Red Hair, Red Suit.
  • Several Robert A. Heinlein protagonists - most notably, Lazarus Long (nee Woodrow Wilson Smith) (biggest role was in Time Enough for Love, he did appear in later Heinlein works) and his mother, Maureen Johnson Smith (most prominent in To Sail Beyond the Sunset, she plays a minor role in several earlier Heinlein novels). And many were redheaded twins; The Rolling Stones, Time for the Stars, Laz and Lor from Time Enough for Love. Other adventurous or heroic redheads include Podkayne of Mars, one of his more popular Juvenile characters, "Slipstick" Libby, Hazel Stone, and a long list of others.
  • Sir Apropos of Nothing, though he'd be more of a red-headed Anti-Hero...
  • Several from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, including four from the Skywalker family/bloodline alone: Mara Jade Skywalker (Luke's wife and the reason there's redheads in the bloodline at all - green-eyed), Ben Skywalker (her son and the kid in the former article image; this is lampshaded at one point - blue-eyed), Kol Skywalker (her great-grandson - green-eyed, again), Tenel Ka (Jacen's wife and current ruler of Hapes), and Allana (Jacen and Tenel's daughter - gray-eyed).
  • Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson in Discworld by Terry Pratchett in the series about the Ankh Morpork Watch, and making cameo appearances in other books. Carrot was adopted by dwarves, so he considers himself a dwarf—just a six-foot tall one. He has red hair, but that is not the reason he is called carrot. That's because he is built like one—broad at the shoulder and tapering in lower.
  • The Aptly named Ginger Hebblethwaite from Captain W.E. Johns Biggles stories.
  • Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. Again, depends on your definition of hero.
  • Alanna of Trebond, from the Tamora Pierce universe, combines red hair with purple Technicolor Eyes. Arguably also a case of Heroes Want Redheads: despite the fact that the text repeatedly points out that she isn't particularly good looking, she does end up with proposals from the Crown Prince and the King of the Rogue. Also, Tris from the Circle of Magic books by the same author. She is certainly a Fiery Redhead, but also a grouch who sometimes borders on Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Cordelia Vorkosigan is a redhead. In fact, it's one of her character markers; whenever a woman with "roan-red" hair shows up, it's her, or reminds Miles of her. He comes to realize that one of the reasons Sgt. Beatrice's death affected him so much was that, as a tall redhead, she reminded him of his mother.
  • Dairine Callahan from Young Wizards.
  • Kvothe, of The Name of the Wind, is known for his bright, flame-red hair. Good for attracting both women and unwanted attention.
  • In Robert Graves' King Jesus, Jesus has red hair, this being one of the eight "signs of royalty".
  • Cord from Douglas Hill's The ColSec Trilogy. He's at least something of a Fiery Redhead...but, interestingly enough, his hair is specifically described as dark auburn.
  • Rand Al'Thor from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time has reddish-blonde hair. This is because he's half Aiel. Elaine also has red-gold hair, whatever that means. When it's not referred to as red-gold, it's consistently just described as blonde, with Aviendha as the redhead of the Blonde, Brunette, Redhead trio. That sounds like a jazzed-up description of strawberry blonde hair.
  • Bill Denbrough and Beverly Marsh, two of the original seven Losers from Stephen King's IT.
  • Both major POV characters of the Doctrine of Labyrinths series are redheads, this is actually a major plot point as, in the city they grew up in, no one else is, thus providing easy proof that Felix and Mildmay are brothers.
  • In E. E. “Doc” Smith's Lensman series, red hair is specifically the genetic marker of ancestry from Atlantis. Many in the human Lensman breeding program are redheads including Clarissa MacDougal.
  • Maria from The Little White Horse.
  • Princess Eilonwy of the Chroniclesof Prydain is often referred to by the narrator as "Eilonwy of the red-gold hair".
  • Most of the protagonists in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover universe. Justified, since, in this setting, redheads are special.
  • Karen in The Three Worlds Cycle. She's arguably one of the major heroes of the first part of the cycle, being instrumental in the main changes to Santhenar over the course of the books. Oh, and she just happens to be a redhead.
  • John Tardy, also known as the "Half-pint Posted" (really, though, he's just grateful to get a nickname other than "Red") of the Gordon R. Dickson novel Spatial Delivery.
  • The eponymous character of J. R. R. Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham. The whole story, in a way, subverts Medieval hero-tales, as the king and his knights are worse than useless, and the only person who can effectively deal with the dragon is a fat, red-headed farmer who doesn't like trespassers, especially destructive ones.
  • The 39 Clues: Amy Cahill - although hers is more "reddish-brown".
  • Pumuckl, the kobold protagonist of a German children's series.
  • The eponymous character of The Adventures of Blue Avenger is, ironically, a redhead.
  • Red-headed twins Isabeau and Iseult, the two leading characters of Kate Forsyth's "The Witches of Eileanan" series (fantasy).
  • Time Scout: Margo Smith. A Red-Headed Heroine to die for. Or because of.
  • In the later Nancy Drew mysteries, Nancy is described as being a redhead. She was originally supposed to be blonde, but a printing error on the cover art gave her hair a reddish hue, and the writers just went with it.
  • Lord John Roxton in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World is repeatedly described as having red hair, and his various adventures and heroic exploits in South America (like killing slavers) have earned him the nickname "Red Chief" amongst the Amazonian natives.
  • Tarl Cabot of the Gor series. Notably, while he has a Heroic BSOD and becomes Bosk, his hair becomes sandy; but then, when he goes back to being Tarl, it gets red again. In the first book, he mentions that he often had to defend his honor as a schoolboy just for having red hair.
  • Freckles of Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles
  • Although A Song of Ice and Fire has lots and lots of protagonists (although less "good" characters than one would think), Robb Stark stands out as being firmly heroic. His little sister Sansa and mother Catelyn, too.
  • In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, Laura and Sophia conclude another woman's fiancee inadequate on this ground, among others.
    as we were convinced he had no soul, that he had never read The Sorrows of Werter, and that his Hair bore not the least resemblance to auburn, we were certain that Janetta could feel no affection for him, or at least that she ought to feel none.
  • Jamie Fraser, his daughter Briana, and her son Jemmy in Outlander. There are a number of other characters in the books described as being redheaded, many of them related to Jamie.
  • Ssalia, the eponymous protagonist of Ssalia and the Dragons of Avienot.
  • Morgan Leah from Shannara is described as a redhead, and even has the fiery temper to match. Terry Brooks seems to like redheads a lot as heroes, since numerous characters from the series have red hair.
  • A large number of the protagonists in L.E. Modesitt's Saga of Recluce are redheads, sometimes of the Fiery Redhead variety.
  • Scathach, Aoife, and Prometheus from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, good dwarfs have red hair and evil dwarfs have black hair.
  • Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments.
  • The Twins Theo and Rachel Matheson from Maurice Gee's New Zealand Book Under the Mountain(1979) also made into a miniseries (1981) and a movie (2009)
  • Beatrice Löwenström, who's the female protagonist in Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt, is a Fiery Redhead with Youthful Freckles. She's definately supposed to stand out among other women with a more "normal" appearance.
  • Elisabet Nemert, another Swedish writer, also likes redheaded heroines, who will stand out among everyone else. Indra Ingridsdotter from "Röd mĺne" is her most recent example at the moment.
  • Rosemary Sutcliff wrote a few: Red Phaedrus in The Mark of the Horse Lord; Drem in Warrior Scarlet; Prasutagus in Song for a Dark Queen; Androphon and Cador in The Bridge-Builders.
  • Charlotte Brontë's Villette gives us Dr. Bretton, handsome by Victorian standards despite "the colour of his long hair such as friends did not venture to specify, except as the sun shone on it, when they called it golden."
  • Saly Asigar, the First-Person Perspective character of Neogicia, has red hair.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Willow Rosenberg and Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor wishes he was ginger. Shortly after regenerating, Ten complained about how he had "never been ginger". Likewise for Elven, one of the first things he did was check to see if he was ginger this time.
    • Turlough, at the beginning, had more than a touch of Evil Redhead before he decided to not kill the Doctor after all — even if he had been tricked into agreeing to do it. (And with him it was actually enforced-John Nathan-Turner made the naturally blond Mark Strickson dye his hair so Turlough wouldn't be mistaken for the Doctor, played by the blond Peter Davison, in long shots).
  • Dune:
    • Paul Atreides from the Dune Miniseries produced in 2000 is a redhead.
    • This is in contrast to Paul in the 1983 movie of the same name who had black hair.
  • Star Trek:
    • Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager, hair is more sort of auburn-brown than out-and-out red.
    • If flashbacks and time travel are to be believed, Picard in his younger days.
    • T'Pol from Star Trek: Enterprise has auburn hair in contrast to most Vulcans, whose hair is solid black.
  • Agent Scully from The X-Files
  • Dexter is a Villain Protagonist and Sociopathic Hero variant.
  • Chip and Udonna from Power Rangers Mystic Force
  • Charlie Crews on Life and Dick Winters in Band of Brothers: they're both played by redhead Damian Lewis. Band of Brothers also has major redheaded characters in Malarkey and Babe Heffron.
  • Laura Diamond from Mysteries of Laura.
  • Eugene Sledge on The Pacific.
  • Eric 'E' Murphy on Entourage.
  • Elizabeth I: Elizabeth herself, which is Truth in Television.
  • CSI: Miami's Horatio Caine.
  • Katrina Crane nee Van Tassel from Sleepy Hollow.
  • Lucius Vorenus from Rome, has his moments.
  • Carrie Wells from Unforgettable.
  • Super Sentai: Jan Kandou (Geki Red) of Juken Sentai Gekiranger and Sosuke Esumi (Go-on Red) of Engine Sentai Go-onger, resulting from hair bleach's effect on Asian hair. Gosei Black and Shinken Green are somewhere between brown and red, likely for the same reason.
  • Rebecca Fogg from The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne.
  • Carl Kolchak from Kolchak: The Night Stalker is another of the reddish-brown variety.
  • Sam Winchester from Supernatural has reddish brown hair, usually worn somewhat long. In one episode Dean insists on being the Mulder of the duo, stating that Sam is "a redheaded woman."

    Music 

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Obscurus Lupa.
  • Ryana 'Ri' Taylor of Last Secret and other Kostemetsiverse arcs. Hasn't been updated in a while. Apparently, Taylor also subverts all the other tropes about redheads, being an intelligence operative with no public personality and no romantic involvements.
  • Fey, the uber-mage of Team Kimba in the Whateley Universe.
  • Ruby Rose, The Heroine of RWBY and the leader of the eponymous team, is a downplayed example. Her hair is an extremely dark shade of red that almost looks black. Her theme colour is also red.

    Western Animation 


Alternative Title(s):

Red Headed Heroine, Heroic Redhead, Heroic Ginger