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Wild Hair
It eats combs for breakfast.

"You have such sensible hair."
Neil Gaiman to Matt Smith, Doctor Who Confidential

Characters have unkempt, shaggy, or unusually long hair, and often beards — usually dark, though it may have gray in it — to show that they are close to nature, possibly the Nature Hero. Often occurs for the Mountain Man. Indicates that the character can handle himself in a wilderness, and such skills as tracking. On the other hand, he is often Not Good with People. Poor social skills aside, a character sprouting this hairdo tends to be good. Chaotic Good, but heroic nonetheless.

Part of this is that keeping your hair neat and short is a lot easier in civilization than out of it. As a consequence, characters who have spent some time in the wild may come back looking like this, though generally not picking up the character traits.

Part of this is to show that they (like Mad Scientist with his Einstein Hair) don't think like other people. Despite the similarity in appearance, other than this, Einstein Hair has completely different connotations.

In visual media, usually manages to be still quite attractive. The Jungle Princess, however, is more likely to have Rapunzel Hair, however improbably.

Sub-Trope of Messy Hair. Compare and contrast Unkempt Beauty. See also Braids of Barbarism.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Film 
  • El Dorado gives us Joey, whose hair leads Mississippi to compare her to "a Mustang in need of a comb."
  • John Rambo has varying degrees of long hair. In the first two movies it wasn't so long, just really thick. However, in Rambo III he was sporting a mane of curly black hair.
  • In Manon of the Spring (Manon des Sources), title character Manon spends most of the movie with unkempt, long blonde hair. She hides from the nearby village residents and spends her days alone in the hills, playing a recorder and herding her goats. Despite all this, she is well-educated and enjoys reading, and is known by the villagers that have caught a glimpse of her as being very beautiful.
  • Taken to extremes in French prehistoric comedy RRRrrrr!. Then again, part of the plot revolves around the invention of shampoo.
  • Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit has hair so wild and unkempt that he even lets birds nest in it. And doesn't bother to clean up after them.

    Comic Books 
  • Wolverine's distinctive hairstyle is usually drawn as being somewhere between this and Anime Hair.
  • Nude wild girl Pyrénée in the French graphic novel has voluminous waist-length red hair.

    Literature 
  • When Aragorn first appears as a ranger called Strider in The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien describes his (dark) hair as "shaggy".
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels First & Only and Ghostmaker, aristocratic regiments sneer at the barbarian Ghosts from Tanith for their appearance, including their unkempt (black) hair. The Ghosts are master scouts, which is explicitly attributed to the forests of their planet. (Though since we get it only from the aristocratic point of view, much of it may only be aristocratic disdain.)
  • Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. In The Book of Three, Prince Gwydion is described as having "the shaggy, gray-streaked hair of a wolf".
  • Mowgli in The Jungle Book.
  • Tarzan.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell at Sealey Head, Emma's mother Hesper went to live in a tree in the forest. She had always been neat at her grandmother's, but now she has wild hair.
  • Rufus Scrimgeour from Harry Potter is described as having "streaks of gray in his mane of tawny hair" invoking the image of a lion.
    • Also in Harry Potter, Hagrid was described as having loads and loads of long and wild hair that was thick enough to break combs. Later on, when Hagrid tried to comb his hair, he ended up having broken-off comb teeth tangled in his hair.
    • After his escape from Azkaban, Sirius had very long and unkempt hair.
    • Due to his father's habit, Harry himself is constitutionally incapable of making his hair behave. He unknowingly used this to his advantage when Aunt Petunia gave him a truly horrific haircut and he woke up the next morning with his hair exactly the way it was before.
      • Harry's hair is stubbornly, very likely supernaturally wild. It even defeats Molly Weasley in book 5.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child, when they meet Wash in the wilds, his hair is longer and his beard less neat than in civilization.
  • Zilpha Keatley Snyder in The Changeling has several descriptions of Ivy's hair. "It foamed in tangled curls inches thick around her head and usually halfway covered her face. She had a habit of sticking out her lower lip and blowing upward when she especially wanted to see something, to get the hair away from her eyes." As Ivy gets older, she starts putting her hair in a huge braid. By the time she is fourteen, it hangs "far below her waist." When she unbraids it for a dance audition, she looks bizarrely beautiful. Ivy's connections to nature and the out of doors are part of her "changeling" identity, and her hair is one of the things that makes her seem actually otherworldly.
  • Septimus Heap's brothers have this when they live in the woods — although it is, unusually, blond, and none of their family is noted for neatness of hair.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    Lucky it might be, and red it certainly was, but Ygritte's hair was such a tangle that Jon was tempted to ask her if she only brushed it at the changing of the seasons.
  • S. Theodora Markson from All the Wrong Questions has a massive mess of hair.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for laughs in episode one of season three of The Big Bang Theory, where the characters return from their trip to the North Pole. Leonard, Howard, and Raj trudge in the apartment lobby with unkempt hair and full beards that seem to fuse together. Then Sheldon walks in with a neat goatee and mustache and no significant changes to his hair.
  • Played straight in BBC children's drama Cavegirl. Set in prehistoric times (though with prehistoric analogues of modern conveniences showing up occasionally), ALL the characters in the series really did have wild hair.
  • Rousseau on LOST, due to being stranded on the island for sixteen years, and Bernard in the season 5 finale.
    • And now Claire in Season 6.
  • The titular Grizzly Adams, who combined a thick mane of hair with an epic beard and moustache. He sometimes looked more hairy than the grizzly bear that he hung around with. But check out the careful feathering in his beard...Every mountain man has a hair dryer.
  • If dreads count, Ronon Dex from Stargate Atlantis fits this trope to a "T". (Not that T, that's the other series.)
    • Speaking of the other series, the race of Space Amish called The Nox from Stargate SG-1 had hair so wild and unkempt, they even had ferns and leaves in them.
  • In Fraggle Rock, Mokey's hair is perpetually unkempt.
  • Cole in Power Rangers Wild Force was basically a Tarzan expy, complete with unkempt hair. It got cut shorter by the other rangers at the end of the second episode.
  • Reverend Jim Ignitowski from Taxi had wild hair. In one episode, he was given a comb and it literally got stuck midway through his hair!
  • Abby from Primeval got this when she spent a year in the Cretaceous. While she does use a hairband after returning, the hair otherwise remains unkempt.

    Music 
  • Heavy Metal musicians tend to either have this kind of hair or Rapunzel Hair.
  • Steve Bays, the lead singer of Hot Hot Heat, has a head full of ginger curls, much to the delight of his numerous fangirls.

    Religion & Mythology 
  • Older Than Dirt: This was in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu, the wild man the gods sent to Gilgamesh, was said to have wild hair reaching down past his waist. When they brought him to civilization he got a haircut.
  • This is often how John the Baptist was depicted while he was living in the wilderness in the New Testament.
  • Onryo are often depicted with long, unkempt hair.

    Theater 
  • In the second act of the musical Spring Awakening, the original Ilse (Lauren Pritchard) had wild hair. Though in modern productions the bob seems to be the new standard for Ilse, most understudies (since it's more practical for them to have long hair so it can be braided for other roles they cover) sport this look in the second act also.
  • Jekyll & Hyde often has neatly combed hair for Jekyll on one side and long, messy hair for Hyde on the other.

    Video Games 
  • Solid Snake has had it since Metal Gear Solid 2. His hairstyle was mercilessly mocked at first, because of its resemblance to the infamous mullet.
  • Iji, after being in a coma for six months. And the setting sure is as dangerous as a jungle.
  • Blanka from Street Fighter, who grew up in the wild and appears more beast than man.
  • Feral child Gau from Final Fantasy VI has green unkempt hair. They found him living on his own in the Beast Plains.
  • Sarutobi Sasuke from Sengoku Basara, who legend says was raised by monkeys. While his backstory isn't touched upon much, and he certainly doesn't live wild, he tends to keep to himself and, being a ninja, spends a lot of time outdoors.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy chieftain Gorath from Betrayal at Krondor has long, unkempt slate black hair shot with grey.
  • Textual implications in Neverwinter Nights 2 suggest that Elanee has never heard of a 'brush' or a 'comb' or even a 'bath'. Textual implications also indicate her unkempt appearance actually adds to her sex appeal.

    Webcomics 
  • Surprisingly averted by Angora from The Meek. Though she lives wild and often clothes-free, her (green) hair is very neat.
  • Question Duck: both the duck and a human. Inspiring questions about where they have been — an allusion to the Schedule Slip.
  • The main character from Kiss Wood Sul, a gardener, has this. He had a small "jungle" that spanned his entire property after the city was remade entirely out of concrete and because there were no more gardens, he became obsessive about plants.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph is shown to have this kind of hair when she lets it loose.
  • Splatter Phoenix, a Mad Artist villainess from Darkwing Duck, has a long, shaggy mane.
  • Princess Merida and Lord Macintosh from Brave.
  • Something of a running gag on Time Warp Trio was that Sam and many of his family members have wild hair. Sam's is just messy, black blob, his Great Granddaughter, Samantha has hair that is styled in a series of wavy bun-like things across her head (although judging from the background characters in the future episode, weird hair seems to be par for the course in the year 2105 where she hails from, even if the other main protagnist from the future avert this), and Sam's ancestor from Russia has a crazy, unruly beard he used to hide things in and his refusal to shave it almost got him executed.
  • Lazerette from Skysurfer Strike Force


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