The high tendency in fiction for young nerds, geeks, and other social outcasts to have red hair.
They're often gingers, redheads with pale skin and freckles, but not necessarily. They might have intellectual hobbies like reading
. Their clothes are probably far from stylish and they are likely to have minor health problems. They are easily picked on for these things, not necessarily for their hair color, unlike the Red-Headed Stepchild
. They also have a tendency to be a Shrinking Violet
. If they're not then they'll be an uncontrollable Fiery Redhead
who gets into big trouble. Despite how different they are, they can grow out of it and by the time they mature they can be expected to blossom into a self-assured person who is calm, strong, and elegant. In the mean time they will probably make a loyal friend.
The character might think that it's just their hair color making people look down on them like the Redheaded Stepchild
, but if it was a different color they wouldn't be so self conscious and make themselves look bad. Dye jobs tend to backfire though. A sign of maturity is fixing up their hair but keeping it red.
The Brainy Brunette
can similarly not fit in, but their geeky
intelligence gives them a calm confidence that the redhead lacks. If the character has red/brown hair they only count if it's noticeably red and they have that lack of confidence among their peers.
On the other hand, mature redheads are wanted by heroes
- Anne of Green Gables is a very cheerful person, but at times could get very careless and cause mishaps. Her relationships with the people of Avonlea began unusually friendly or openly hostile because they teased her about her red hair, which she hoped would some day darken into a real handsome auburn.
- Rowling introduces Ron Weasley of the Harry Potter series as "tall, thin and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose." He is insensitive and immature, feels overshadowed by his older brothers, and feels embarrassed to have to use second hand supplies and wear second hand clothes. On top of all that, he plays chess.
- His older brother, Percy, and his father, Arthur, may also qualify for their own reasons. Percy is pompous, bossy, and sucks up to authority to get ahead, but generally treated as an afterthought or a mere annoyance by most except his parents. Arthur, while a very kind and intelligent man, is seen as a loser of sorts for his lower-class financial status, his keen interest in all things Muggle-related, and his refusal to suck up to his superiors and co-workers to advance. Incidentally, Percy also looked down on Arthur for these very things.
- Averted with most of the rest of the (notably redheaded) Weasley family. Fred and George are very popular at Hogwarts, Ginny seems to come into her own as she gets more comfortable in her skin, Charlie works with dragons, and Bill is - as Harry succinctly put it once - just cool. Molly is also quite well-liked, even if she can be overbearing.
- As Mallory Pike of The Baby-Sitters Club is the only one in her family with red hair, glasses and braces. Mallory often feels unattractive and an ongoing plot arc of hers was trying to convince her parents to let her spice up her look with contacts, pierced ears, and a new wardrobe. She also feels like her parents treat her like a baby.
- Trisana Chandler, Tris for short, is a character in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series. She has curly red hair (her friend Briar calls her "Coppercurls"), gray eyes, and wears spectacles. She believes herself to be fat and is called "Fatty" a few times by some of the series' crueler characters. Before she learned control over her magic, strange things would happen when she got angry or emotional, such as causing it to hail indoors or to strike lightning nearby.
- Joyce from Joyride is prudish to the point that even her only real ally in her circle of "friends" is prone to being agitated by her.
- The eponymous Eleanor of Eleanor And Park gets picked on for being a Fat Girl and having red hair, which she's suitably insecure about. Her time with Park leads her to rise above this.
- Beatrice Löwenström of Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt belongs to the fiery cathegory. She's both an intelligent book lover and a plucky tomboy, not to mention that she's a proto-feminist, which turns a lot of people away from her. She's described as not conventionally beautiful, with too many freckles and a too wide mouth, and she also seems to often wear unflattering clothes.
- Generally averted quite hard in many of R.L. Stine's Fear Street books, wherein his fondness for redheads seems to shine through. Many protagonists or very beautiful, usually popular or mysterious girls, are described as redheads. (Usually, green-eyed redheads.) Although that doesn't stop them from dying horribly (Marla Newman), suffering severe brain damage that renders them mentally retarded (Rachel from Broken Hearts), or just being a nasty, horrible person in general (Karma Houdini Reva Dalby from the Silent Night series).
- Willow of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is presented as a bookish nerd with considerable computer skills, dowdily dressed and easily intimidated by more popular girls in school. Willow becomes much more confident in college, finally finding a place that respects her intellect, and to show that, she has embraced the redness of her hair by having dyed it a brighter red.
- 7th Heaven has an episode where Mary's high school friends tease a girl with frizzy red hair for wearing flannel and being fat.
- In the pilot of Smallville nine year old Lex Luthor is being chastised for being scared and keeping his eyes closed while on the helicopter ride. Once he opens them he gets more scared and needs to use his inhaler because he has an asthma attack. That day the meteor shower caused him to lose all his red hair.
- The Sand Man: The game's protagonist, a red-head insomniac named Sophie, is teased by the resident Girl Posse for her red hair - noting how strange it is - which is kind of hypocritcal, considering one of them has bubblegum pink hair. During the best ending, Sophie finally stands up for herself and threateningly tells the girls not to insult her mother's red hair ever again.
- Amusingly enough, the writer/artist of SMBC is a ginger, and as his comics would imply, a MASSIVE nerd. Also played straight with several of his comics.
- Twist of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic shows several stereotypically nerdy traits, such as a curly red mane and tail, pale coat, large, large glasses, and a nasal speech impediment (she has a hard time pronouncing W's and S's). She is the last one in her class to get her cutie mark before the cutie mark crusaders.
- Chuckie Finster of Rugrats, danger prone, cowardly, wore glasses that would break from time to time, had a perpetually stuffy nose and was often picked on by other kids. So much so that there were entire episodes devoted to him having an operation that temporarily cleared his nose, him trying to dye his hair black to fit in with the rest of the kids, and his other quirks.
- The "Ginger Kids" episode of South Park features Cartman turning his bigotry on red heads, claiming that they're soulless and unattractive to the point of being frightening. Subverted halfway through when the other boys make Cartman look like a ginger to teach him a lesson: Cartman immediately starts a ginger supremacy group and tries to kill all of the non-ginger kids. Several seasons later, this becomes a double subversion: 201 sheds some light on Cartman's true father, and Scott Tenorman, whose parents had been previously murdered by Cartman reveals that they are half-brothers on their father's side, meaning Cartman himself is in fact half-ginger. Cartman is also one of the most unpopular kids at South Park Elementary, not at all helped by the fact he's a sociopath.
- Zoey of The Proud Family. She has glasses, braces, a lanky body, and a desperate attempt to be cool.