A character has dark hair, with a distinct white or lighter-colored streak running through it.
Often, this is the result of some exposure to magic or other Applied Phlebotinum, or possibly a sign that they're genetically inclined towards awesome. Sometimes, it comes from a scar or other trauma; in these cases, there is overlap with Disease Bleach and Locked into Strangeness. And sometimes, it can just mean they're a rotten person.
In real life, it's a phenotype occasionally associated with a number of unrelated genetic defects. It can also be the result of injury to the scalp. There's a scientific term for this, it's called poliosis. It's also sometimes a result of the natural aging process.
A subtrope of Multicolored Hair. Actual skunks are, of course, assumed to have this style. See also Duality Motif if the skunk stripe display two sides of a character's personality.
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Anime & Manga
The first time Guts uses the Berserker's Armor in Berserk, he gets a white streak in his hair.
Death the Kid from Soul Eater has multiple white streaks in his black hair. Interestingly enough (and occasionally Lampshaded), the streaks are aligned horizontally across his hair, rather than running along vertically. Specifically stated to be a result of his grim reaper father mystically coloring or recoloring his hair for the Rule of Cool. Unfortunately for Kid, is Super OCD and is absolutely obsessed with symmetry; the stripes are a constant source of chagrin for him; on the plus side, the manga has revealed that, eventually, Kid will have three complete stripes in his hair. It's a grown-up death god thing.
Asura also has white streaks in his hair which are aligned in pairs vertically to look like eyes.
In Black Jack, Dr. Black Jack sports a large white streak through his hair thanks to an accident that effectively blew half of his face off. He got better.
The Dirty Pair Flash version of Kei has a blonde forelock and is otherwise a redhead.
In the Monster Collection manga, summoners often have hair like this. Apparently, it happens when the summoned creature dies, because of Synchronization.
Marco from Eyeshield 21 has a lightning-shaped skunk stripe running through his slicked back brown hair.
Takuto from Argento Soma gets white streaks on his left side, not to mention facial scars on his cheeks (badass) and eyelids (a beautiful gray shade), courtesy of an experiment gone horribly wrong (trying to bring to life a creature pieced together from various destroyed aliens that have been plaguing the planet may not be a good idea). He keeps these scars despite the availability of plastic surgery, because of the guilt he had over his inability to save his girlfriend from said creature, so it seemed. Turns out, said creature, later called Frank, was trying to save her from the crumbling building, but he was too late.
Shobu from Duel Masters. One enemy even calls him "Skunk-bu."
The jury's still out on how Rogue of the X-Men got hers (she's even called "skunk hair" by some punks in an episode of X-Men: Evolution!). Some sources say it came with the very first use of her powers. Some say it was from the absorption of her more conventional superpowers. A letter column from Marvel once stated it was dyed in. That was printed in the 1980s and may no longer be valid; then again, the white will go down the middle of her hair one month, then be just a few bangs the next... Meanwhile, the character's more recent solo title depicts her as simply being born with the white streak.
In her earliest appearance, it looked like age. She looked like she could have been quite older than she was originally decided to be, though it could have been Beauty Equals Goodness (she was not a nice girl when we first met her, enjoying villainy a lot more than the "poor sweet innocent manipulated by Mystique" version of her backstory seen nowadays.)
The first of the three movies pins it on forced overuse of Magneto's power after she was hooked to the life-draining mutancy machine. She admits that she likes how it looks, but in the second film, Magneto and Mystique taunt her by saying "We love what you did with your hair".
And according to quite a bit of questionable fanart, said "stripe" extends to more than just what's on her head...
Nate Grey, another X-Man, also has white in his otherwise light brown hair.
Nocturne also has a streak of white hair. This is a stylistic choice, however: her original hairstyle, with the braids, lacked it. She gained the skunk stripe as part of her New Excalibur makeover.
The Red She-Hulk inverts this, with black hair with two stripes of red hair running through it, enhancing her similarity to a demon.
Victoria Hand has dyed pink locks running down either side of her hair. It's a visual cue as to her individuality and sexuality if anything.
All New Ghost Rider has Robbie Reyes, who has a white streak in his hair that plays into his flames motif. Interestingly, he has it before becoming a Ghost Rider.
The eponymous character of XIII has a grey streak on his left temple where a bullet grazed him pre-amnesia.
In the DC Universe, resurrection in a Lazarus Pit always causes a white streak, though some people (like the Riddler) hide it with dye. As a result, Ra's Al-Ghul has two thin streaks of gray in his black hair — it's hinted that he keeps them because he likes how they looks. This is kept in all his incarnations. It even became a sort of Foreshadowing in a Batman Beyond episode in which "Talia" lets Bruce try the Lazarus pits, and she remarks that Young!Old!Bruce's similar greying pattern is "Quite dignified"; Bruce also gets the stripe in Superman & Batman: Generations when Ra's convinces him to use the Pit.
Older versons of Hal Jordan have white/grey streaks at their temples. The mainstream version of the character also had them for a while. Originally, it was supposed to be age, later retconned as a premature stress induced greying brought on by Parallax (Infection by a being of pure fear turning his hair white) and fixed when he was resurrected.
Repeated, complete with a true Skunk Stripe along the middle, when Kyle Rayner becomes Parallax.
Songbird, in the Thunderbolts, has red (or pink) streaks in white hair.
Both Jason Blood and the original Jim Corrigan had/have a white Skunk Stripe on dark auburn hair. In both cases, it's from exposure to Powers Greater Than Mortal Man — but at opposite ends of the spectrum (Blood is bonded to the Demon Etrigan, while Corrigan was the host for The Spectre). AFAIK, they never showed up in the same scene.
The original John Gaunt incarnation of Grimjack had this, which seemed unrelated to his trademark scar. A clone body he inhabits later also has it, so it seems to be genetic.
Abigail Arcane from Swamp Thing inverts this — black streaks on white hair.
The version of Eurydice in The Sandman has Abigail's hairstyle, but with white streaks on black hair.
Knives Chau of Scott Pilgrim dyes a pink one into her bangs, but during her encounter with the Clash at Demonhead, Lynette punches her so hard that the stripe is literally knocked out of her hair. It's blue in the movie. In both cases, Knives is trying to emulate Ramona's current look to try and catch Scott's attention again.
Madame Dominique in the Vampirella story "The Resurrection of Papa Voudou" has a big white stripe in her black hair.
In Tomorrow's Doom, Aiko is deaf in her left ear, and has a white stripe on the left side of her hair to match it.
Films — Animation
Inverted and subverted in Bolt, where the white-coated dog believes the bolt-shaped patch of black fur on his side is proof he was given superpowers. Once he's away from the studio for a while, the black dye fades and reveals that this mark, like Bolt's "powers", was all a lie.
In Frozen, Anna has a white streak on the side of her head because her sister, Elsa, accidentally hit her with her ice powers when they were little. When Elsa hits her again in the heart, her hair slowly turns all white. After The Power of Love saves Anna from freezing to death, her hair becomes red with no white streaks at all.
The main character in the French-Canadian film C.R.A.Z.Y., Zac (Marc-André Grondin), has a white streak in the back, caused by having been dropped on his head as a newborn. His mother convinces him as a child that it's a sign he has the ability to heal others through prayer. Also an interesting mirror to his friend Michelle, who has light hair with a dark streak.
Strange Brew - Hosehead the dog, who is black with banded white stripes on his back, saves the day when, told the local Oktoberfest has all the beer and sausages he can consume, literally flies there and, mistaken for a big skunk, drives everyone out before they can drink the villain's mind-control beer.
Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show had the Elsa Lanchester Bride Of Frankenstein look down pat near the end of the film, with beehive hairdo and skunk stripe hair.
Grey Star, the hero of the World of Lone Wolf series, is named for the white forelock in his otherwise black hair.
In Phenomena does Millian have a white stripe. It is never really brought up why she has it.
Death's granddaughter, Susan Sto Helit, inverts this trope: her hair is naturally white with a black streak (as well as expressive). In The Movie of Hogfather, her hair is platinum blonde instead of pure white, but she retains the black streak.
Jagged Fel develops a white lock and scar from some head trauma he suffered. His descendants exhibit the same hair and scarring, and the surrounding Fanon suggests it's a family tradition.
Ysanne Isard, along with having one blue eye and one red eye has two locks of white hair flowing down the frontal area. She has naturally black hair.
In Stephen King's The Stand, the character of Nadine starts with black hair, gains a white stripe, then ends up all-white as a result of her personal proximity to Randall Flagg.
In David Eddings' Belgariad and Malloreon series, Polgara has a white lock. She got it when her father, the sorcerer Belgarath, first laid his hand upon her after she was born. It resists cutting and dyeing, which leads to some interesting dilemmas when they're trying to hide from their enemies. A similar white mark can be found on all the sorcerers in Garion's line, but on different parts of their bodies.
The solution her father comes up with to hide the lock is to use his influence with royalty to make it a common affectation, so regular people will just think she's a little vain.
In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams, Simon gains a scar and white streak in his hair after being burned by dragon's blood. From then on, he's often referred to as Simon Snowlock.
The title character in Tailchasers Song, also by Williams, has this, except, being a cat, it's through his fur.
In The Rowan and its sequels by Anne McCaffrey, the titular character has white-blonde hair, but her descendants tend to have dark hair with a white streak. Some are blonde, still with the white streak.
A good portion of Horror Campfire stories has a character end up with white streaks — or all white-hair — after being frightened by some sort of supernatural encounter.
At the end of Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, Fitz has developed a white streak in his hair due to a head wound. In the Tawny Man trilogy, set fifteen years later, he's started using the alias Tom Badgerlock, claiming he was born with the white streak. It eventually disappeared when he was magically healed in the Tawny Man books.
Eldan in Mercedes Lackey's By the Sword has dark hair with white streaks at his temples.
In the 87th Precinct novels by Ed McBain, Detective Cotton Hawes has a white streak in his otherwise red hair as a result of his hair growing back over a knife scar.
Kerish in Geraldine Harris' The Seven Citadels tetralogy has black hair with a broad silver stripe. As the series progresses, the stripe widens until he has all-silver hair.
Erast Fandorin's temples become gray following the shock of witnessing his first wife death in a terrorist attack (originally aimed at him!) at the end of the first novel. His gray temples later become his characteristic mark, which is used by an impostor in a later novel to pass as Fandorin.
The protagonist of the Larry Niven story "Relic of Empire" lost his fortune and began to get gray hair before he could once again afford anti-aging drugs. After rejuvenating, he discovered that the gray streaks gave him a distinguished look that attracted the ladies and started dyeing them back in.
In The Magic Goes Away, one sorceress has a white streak in her hair because of the difficulty of maintaining her youth without the mana to do it. The streak increases and decreases opposite to the amount of mana in the environment.
Richard Sharpe is described as having gotten one by the time of the last chronological book, Sharpe's Devil.
One of the families in Edward Rutherfurd's London has this trope as one of its hereditary genetic quirks.
In the Black Jewels trilogy, a witch named Luthvian is described as having a white streak in her hair that is "a memory of her father's fists."
In Gary Jennings' Aztec, Zyanya has a white streak in her black hair, where a scorpion stung her as a child.
Nawat the crow in Daughter of the Lioness has a wavy white patch in his feathers from annoying Ochobu the mage one time.
In Kay Nolte Smith's Elegy For A Soprano, the titular soprano, Vardis Wolf, adds a white streak to her dark hair after abandoning her baby, telling her friend that it was a reminder. She doesn't explain of what exactly, but it's possible she felt guilty.
In Smallville, whoever gets possess by the silver banshee magically gets a white stripe in their hair.
An episode of MacGyver revolves around our hero rescuing a child with a white streak of hair who was being exploited for his supposed ability to grant wishes.
In the series finale, "All Good Things", future Data (now a professor at Cambridge) has a (possibly bleached) stripe of white hair to give himself an air of distinction, but instead serves as snark-bait for his cantankerous housekeeper. (In another episode, he states that he can manipulate the length of his hair at will, but it's unclear if he can change his hair color on his own.)
The Rutians, aliens of the week: the males all have black hair with a white stripe, while the females all have red hair with a black stripe.
Also, Vida, the Pink Ranger in Mystic Force. She sometimes dyes hers different colors, until pink (a color which, ironically, she used to dislike) gets to her and she uses it on her entire hair at the finale.
Warehouse 13: Claudia dyes hers various colours throughout the run of the show.
iCarly: Carly wears blue streaks in her hair when she's acting 'rebellious' to get the attention of her grandfather and brother.
Babylon 5: Londo Mollari has gray streaks at his temples.
Sam Beckett of Quantum Leap. It's a sign of how long he's been leaping, but he is unable to see it until the finale.
Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in The Sopranos has two stripes of white at his temples, but the hair in the middle is dark—almost black—and there's not much transition between the two. In keeping with the trope, Paulie is probably the biggest jerk to grace the Soprano family after Ralph Cifaretto (mind you, Ralph beats Paulie in the Jerk Ass department by a country mile).
Prue received a Stripe after the Barbas the demon of fear nearly drowned her in the shower.
The original Perry Mason series: In the episode "Envious Editor", the killer turns out to be actress Barbara Lawrence, portraying "Lori Stoner," made distinctive by a contrasting stripe in her hair. Oddly, due to a continuity error, it moves from one side of her head to the other in a scene!
The title character of Toast Of London has one of these. It makes him look rather distinguished.
Vladimir Von Helson of Gaia Online fame has two thin white streaks in his hair...and a big Skunk Stripe in his goatee. This is now immortalized as the bonus pose of the doll item in his image. Too bad the same can't be said of the original...
Captain Cross from Prototype has a white stripe in his hair. Considering the big honking scar that runs across his face, this could probably be explained by trauma to the scalp as well. (The prequel comic by Wildstorm offers a probable explanation: bitten in the head by zombie wolf.)
The anthropomorphic raccoon hero of Tales of the Questor has a white cow-lick where he was touched by something divine. According to the author, not God, but a mythic creature of apparent divine connection or insight, potentially an Angel Unaware.
Main character Steve has completely black hair save for two blonde bangs. Initially, you'd think these were dyed in. Then it turns out that his sister has blonde hair that turns to black halfway down, his mother has black hair with a blonde streak, and all three of his children invariably have black hair with a blonde streak (at least, until Mary dyes her hair bright green after the Timeskip).
John's hair turns white all over upon activating his Power-Up.
Mistake in Dandy and Company has a white stripe running through his hair and all the way down his face. This was seen in an arc that takes place in the future and eventually shown in the present-day when one of his Homemade Inventions goes berserk.
Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name's unnamed zombie narrator has black hair, with each temple having this little white tuft like an angel wing growing out of it. He didn't have them when he was alive, but it's not clear where they came from or whether they're typical for zombies.
Ples Tibenoch's hair is black and white.
Apparently as a side effect of her sex change, Jet Dream's Harmony has a scarlet red streak in her otherwise black hair.
Chelsea of Clan of the Cats acquires a Skunk Streak after one of the early story arcs where she becomes accustomed to magic and being a werepanther.
Homestuck: Eridan Ampora has a tuft of purple hair at the front. Oddly, he seemed to have had it as an infant grub, and he's the only troll with any semblance of colour in his hair.
Brooksie in Between Failures has one, but covers it up with hair dye. Her natural look is shown here.
Fiona in YU+ME: dream has red hair with white-blonde bangs. In her case, it's heavily implied to be poliosis; she mentions that she lost a lot of her hair in the car accident that killed her mother and it "grew back that way."
Her Grandmother (a.k.a. the previous Te Xuan Ze) also has one but it's less noticeable because the rest of her hair became gray.
The Secret Saturdays' Zak Saturday has a star-shaped patch of white hair. This could be some weird inheritance from his mother, who has white hair, or it could be a sign of his special cryptid powers. His father seems to display the Skunk Stripe as well.
When Danny gave up his ghost powers, a white streak was left. Compare to Vlad, who was born with the skunk stripe.
Danny's Bumbling Dad, Jack, apparently was part of a band called the "Skunk Punks", where all players had the stripe. Unfortunately, it invited the headline "Skunk Punks stink", which Jack admits was inevitable.
Butch in Recess, who reportedly got it because the sight of a teenage couple kissing was just that scary. He actually was seen with plain brown hair in at least one episode before that.
Isaac Sumdac in Transformers Animated. We saw it in flashbacks, suggesting that it was genetic, but then we saw him get it from the shock of touching the protoform that would later become his daughter, Sari.
The titular character of Freakazoid!! has a lightning shaped streak in his hair.
Timber Wolf and his father, Dr. Londo of Legion Of Superheroes. Cameo-wise has Polecat and Invisible Kid (Jacques) as seen in 'Lightning Storm.'
Animators in general like doing this with Count Dracula, whether he's appearing as a cameo on shows like Scooby Doo or as a series regular as on Drak Pack. Whether his Skunk Stripe is down the middle or at the temples depends on how old he's made to appear.
The undead Captain Skunkbeard in Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! was named for the white strip in his beard. Subverted because it's only a costume, surprise surprise.
Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a pink and purple streak through her otherwise dark blue mane and tail, and a lot of background ponies may have one or two as well.
Flim and Flam from "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" have white streaks in their red manes and tails.
Zoe Trent of Littlest Pet Shop (2012) is a purple Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with a pink stripe in her headfur. In fact, her coloration is so similar to Twilight's that some have dubbed her "Twilight Barkle"
In the Pepe Le Pew cartoon "Really Scent", girl cat Fabrette is born with a white stripe down her back. She's unlucky at love, then meets Pepe...
Roberta Tubbs from The Cleveland Show has a white or bleach-blonde streak in her otherwise black/dark brown hair, more than likely a weave or a bleach job.
Tony Spilotro, the mobster played by Joe Pesci in Casino, really did have a gray stripe in his otherwise dark brown hair.
Both David and Ed Miliband, British politician brothers, have a small patch in the same spot on their heads and are often caricatured in the media for it. As did their late father, Ralph, a British political academic.
Jay Leno. Though, by now, it's an inversion: there's a small dark patch with everything else being gray (he insists it's natural, although guests such as Bob Costas have expressed doubts). Leno actually made a skit making fun of that dark patch. He was sitting in his office when that Zoo lady came in with a squid and it squirted him in the face.
Eric Roberts has sprouted one in his later years, although his hair is actually just varying shades of silver. It's more apparent when he slicks his hair back for his milieu: villain roles.
Susan Sontag was famous for her dark hair with a thick white stripe.
John Henson, who was regularly called "Skunk-Boy" when he hosted Talk Soup.
Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security. Combine the hair and the title with the fact that she has climbed Mt. Everest, and she begins to sound like a character out of a video game.
Stacy London of the US version of What Not To Wear has a fairly subtle grey forelock which comes and goes on the show—depending (as she's said) on how they style and part her hair — but is quite prominent in some of her more recent ad appearances.
Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Canada's Venture Communications, is a celebrity businesswoman and regular on CBC's Dragon's Den. She has crimped red hair with a prominent white streak.
Indira Gandhi — at least, during the time when she was Prime Minister of India — had a white streak in her dark hair.
This is a feature of Waardenburg Syndrome, along with odd facial appearance and occasional deafness.
Joe Perry from Aerosmith, as of 2009, has a white stripe in the front of his mostly dark brown/black hair.