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Haunting Hovering Hair

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A supernatural being has hair that defies gravity.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
8BrickMario on Jul 10th 2018 at 4:00:48 PM
Last Edited By:
8BrickMario on Jul 13th 2018 at 8:39:15 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

You have a supernatural character. Maybe you're going for maximum scares and have made their body or face grotesque and frightening, but don't know what to do with them next. Or maybe you want them to look fairly normal or beautiful and want something strange for effect. An easy route to go in either case is to remove Earthly gravity from their hair.

Although the blowing of hair in the breeze or flowing in water is often used as an image of beauty, particularly in advertising, the effect of someone's hair billowing and floating around them without any air or water currents to move it is strange and often frightening. The only explanation could be some otherworldly force or power, and it's usually not a good thing. Ghosts, witches, and other supernatural entities may have constantly-floating hair or just run an occasional supernatural breeze through it for a moment of drama, and this imagery is often used for fear, though it's not exclusive.

Given that longer hair is more dramatic when floating like this and the connotations of long hair to feminine beauty, this trope is usually a feature of supernatural women. For this trope to apply, the hair does not need to be in constant motion, but the hair must have sustained fluid motion at some point, and not through natural forces. If the entire being is floaty, the hair must stand out within that. Not to be confused with Prehensile Hair, where the hair moves on the bearer's direction and serves as a tool, or Dramatic Wind, where the visual may be invoked but with natural causes. Often overlaps with Power Floats. Compare to Anti-Gravity Clothing, where, for some reason, a piece of somebody's outfit refuses to obey gravity.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Uzumaki, one form of the spiral curse plaguing the town of Kurozu-cho is living hair which stands upward in mesmerizing spiral disks which consume the enemy of the person attached.
  • Devilish child Chizumi in Dissolving Classroom has a short bob hairstyle, but it still floats around her without explanation when she approaches Keiko in the first chapter.
  • Yubaba in Spirited Away wears her hair in a bun for most of the film, but when her hair is let down and she panics about losing her son Boh, her hair streams around her in the air.

     Film - Animation 
  • The Tall Ghost Girl in Coraline has long ribbons of hair which float around her as she talks. The other two ghosts have short and braided hair, respectively, making her hair the only one that floats.
  • The witch in ParaNorman manifests (in contrast to the town's Halloween Wicked Witch perception of her) as an electrical ghost, with hair that floats upwards and turns into lightning.
  • The First Ancestor in Mulan is a spirit who has both floating hair and beard.
  • Hera's hair in Hercules stands out among the Olympian gods' for its floating.
  • Moana villain Te Ka invokes this with her design, as she billows volcanic smoke from her head, which resembles streaming hair.

     Film - Live Action 
  • In Ghostbusters (1984), the ghostly librarian's startling transformation includes loose floating hair, and the ghostly woman in Stantz's dream also features this.
  • The ghostly titular entity of Mama has constantly floating hair.
  • The ghost of Josette in Dark Shadows has floating hair, perhaps in connection to her death in the water.
  • The ghost of Enola in Crimson Peak has very long hair that floats behind her.

  • The Haunted Hotel, from the children's book series A-to-Z Mysteries, features an alleged haunting from a ghost whose appearance features a halo of floating hair.

     Myths and Religion 
  • The Ancient Greek mythological monster Medusa may be the Ur-Example of this trope. While her hair was snakes, the image of writhing independent hair is perhaps most recognizable in depictions of the famous Gorgon.

     Theme Parks 

  • Monster High character Spectra Vondergeist, the first ghost character, is depicted with dramatic floating hair in everything but her physical dolls and the 3D-animated specials, where her hair is bone-straight and not the least bit floaty.

     Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Ghost-type Pokemon Misdreavus resembles a floating head with streaming hair.
    • Darkrai, a Dark-type legendary, has what looks like a single streak of floating grey hair on its head.
    • Dark/Psychic Pokemon Malamar is a vaguely humanoid upside-down squid, and its waving tentacles invoke undulating hair because of its unusual body plan.
  • Yo Kai Watch Yo-Kai Foiletta has some tendrils of floating hair.
  • The Shadow Queen, the demonic sorceress Big Bad locked away for most of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, has long tendrils of levitating hair that float behind her.
  • Haunt The House is a Flash game where you are a ghost possessing objects in your house to scare away living guests of an unwanted party, and you unlock more powerful scares for each item with the more people you frighten. The most powerful "Spook" option unlocked for the rag doll in the bedroom makes it scream and raise its arms while its hair streams outward.
  • The Banshee ghosts in the video game for The Haunted Mansion have floating hair as they attack with a ghostly wail.

     Western Animation 
  • The Ghost of Northwest Manor in Gravity Falls invokes this via his beard of blue fire.
  • Princesses Celestia and Luna in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have ethereal undulating manes which signify their magical nature. Indeed, when lacking their magic, their manes don't so much as flutter. Nightmare Moon utilizes the flowing mane imagery for horror.

Feedback: 25 replies

Jul 10th 2018 at 6:37:23 PM

The First Ancestor in Mulan has long hair and a beard that float as he moves.

Jul 10th 2018 at 6:49:14 PM

Comic Books

  • Legion has an absurdly tall stack of hair that's probably only physically possible because of his vast psychic powers.

Jul 10th 2018 at 8:40:02 PM

This is for intimidation purposes only, right? In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have manes and tails that constantly undulate, but if this draft is for creep/malevolent factor only, then only Princess Luna corrupted into Nightmare Moon would count.

Jul 10th 2018 at 8:44:48 PM

Definitely not counting cases of video game sprites having perpetually blowed hair? (unless they're like this in universe)

Jul 10th 2018 at 9:12:01 PM

I think it could apply to any kind of ethereal being, it doesn't have to be strictly for fear factor, so Celestia might apply. Might have to broaden the idea for general otherworldliness. But windy hair in video game sprites doesn't sound like a deliberate supernatural element unless it's beyond the realm of believable motion and not explained by natural forces.

Jul 10th 2018 at 9:48:50 PM

^ Oh, in that case, you might want to note that when Princesses Celestia and Luna decide to hide their magic from Tirek by putting it all in Twilight Sparkle, once the deed is done, their hair has stopped undulating.

Jul 11th 2018 at 1:50:19 AM

Film - Live Action

  • Ghostbusters 1984
    • Librarian example
    • In Ray Stantz's dream, a ghost woman has hair that floats above her head in a spectral wind.

Jul 11th 2018 at 1:51:34 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Changed media section titles as per Media Categories.
    • Changed Ghostbusters to Ghostbusters 1984.
    • Corrected spelling (childrens' -> children's, etheral -> ethereal).

Jul 11th 2018 at 9:22:51 AM

  • Tangled The Series: At the beginning of "What the Hair?!", Rapunzel wakes up from having a nightmare about Gothel and notices her hair floating in the air before falling down to the floor.

Jul 11th 2018 at 10:05:02 AM

Would this be either a subtrope of or overlapping with Power Floats?

Jul 11th 2018 at 12:28:28 PM

Jul 11th 2018 at 12:39:11 PM

^^ That's my question. I would think that examples where just their hair floats would be here, but if the character in question is floating entirely (and the hair is floating as an extension of that), then it's just that trope.

  • Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: When Todd uses his Vegan Powers which include telekinesis and levitation, his hair becomes spikey and upright. When deprived of his powers, the visual indication that they're gone is him watching in horror as his hair stops standing up.

Jul 11th 2018 at 1:42:47 PM

I was also sort of wondering about other things floating, but I think it might depend on how much emphasis is put on the hair in relation to the anti-gravity of the rest. If a ghost's floating hair is moving more wildly than her floating dress, for example. I'm not sure. I guess a base rule would have to be that the hair would have to float above the shoulders to some degree (streaming outward behind the head at the least), or forming a Medusa-esque halo, rather than hanging down with a slight breeze, which could be counted as the fluttering of the entire being? But if the entire character isn't floaty, the hair counts no matter how low it floats.

tl;dr: For this to apply, it may have to be that the hair shouldn't be explained by the same current that's moving the clothes, so a couple of these examples may not apply anymore.

Jul 11th 2018 at 5:04:17 PM

"the hair shouldn't be explained by the same current that's moving the clothes,"

I disagree. If the case is supernatural, then the thing moving the clothes is as supernatural as rhe thing moving the hair.

Jul 11th 2018 at 5:26:56 PM

I think the trope should have a slightly different name. The "hovering" part makes me think this is about Helicopter Hair... which is hair that makes you hover. I think the trope name would be more clear if the word "Hovering" was swapped out with the word "Flowing", since hair flows in the wind.

Jul 11th 2018 at 5:34:35 PM

^^ What I meant by "different currents" was not "different causes". I meant it in the physics sense, that the clothes and hair would be moved by different strengths/gusts of whatever is causing the floating, so the hair would not look like it was moving in the same way as the clothing. It's like instead of a long-haired woman in a wind tunnel with her hair and dress moving in the one flow of air (which would not count for the floating hair being a separate element of the image), you pointed a hairdryer upward to blow her hair separately from a fan fluttering her dress, which makes the hair its own part of the floatiness. That's the typical effect, with the hair being more dramatic than the clothes, but cases where it's not, it won't count.

Also, changing the word "hovering" and replacing it with another aerial adjective could still imply lift on the person. I don't know. Supernatural Windblown Hair could also be misinterpreted, and it's not always an air-motion effect.

Jul 11th 2018 at 6:19:44 PM

I don't think flowing hair is necessarily equal to windblown hair, or anything aerial even. It's just when it hangs or drapes loosely and/or gracefully (after all, hair can also flow underwater, which has nothing to do with wind).

I think a tropename like Frighteningly Flowing Hair, or Magical Flowing Hair when we're talking about graceful flowing hair, makes it very clear what this trope is about.

Jul 11th 2018 at 6:44:33 PM

Floating Hair?

Power Floats, as applied to the hair. Not to be confused with Power Hair, one of the defining attributes of which is that it does not float.

Jul 11th 2018 at 7:07:59 PM

Floating Hair might be a simple but sweet name, or maybe Levitating Locks or something like that. It's a hard thing to phrase without some ambiguity.

Jul 12th 2018 at 1:00:07 AM

I'm fine with Levitating Locks.

Jul 12th 2018 at 3:05:10 AM

Western Animation

  • Zadavia during the first season of Loonatics Unleashed prefers to contact the Loonatics via holo-phone, where her blonde tresses flow upwards. Oddly, when seen in person, Zadavia's hair obeys gravity and hangs downward normally. Zadavia hails from planet Freleng, while the Loonatics are natives of Acmetropolis, and she can fly, survive in the vacuum of space without a pressure suit, and shoot a Beam O War from her hands and eyes. "Zadavia out."

Jul 12th 2018 at 3:10:33 AM

^^ ^^^

I would avoid using "locks" in the title to avoid making the reader think it was about the other kind of locks (Yale lock, door lock, etc.).

Jul 13th 2018 at 5:45:55 AM

Floating Hair might work better than hovering. Hovering just gives the impression that it's not connected to the head.

Jul 13th 2018 at 8:39:15 AM

I still think something along the lines of perhaps Mystical Flowing Hair is a good option, but I think Floating Hair also works (plus, it's more concise too).

Both flowing and floating are better than hovering, IMO.