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Important Haircut / Live-Action TV

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Important Haircuts in live-action TV.

  • In The 10th Kingdom the main character Virginia is placed under a curse that causes her hair to grow at an incredible rate. When using a magic axe to undo the curse, another character renders her hair even shorter than at the beginning of her adventure. After the haircut, Virginia seems to have lost some of her naivete and indecision.
  • 24:
    • At the start of day 2, Jack, still mourning for his wife and dealing with the fact that his daughter hates him now, is seen with straggly hair and unkempt beard (Perma-Stubble in the extreme?) After struggling with the decision, we see Jack in the bathroom, fresh from cutting his hair and shaving the beard. A soon as you see that you know some serious shit is about to go down. It's business time, dammit.
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    • Jack's hair is also notably shorter in the later seasons than it was in the first.
    • In season 7, Tony Almeida has his head almost entirely shaved and starts growing stubble as part of his Evil Costume Switch. Meanwhile, ex-CTU Director Bill Buchanan grows his hair out a bit after becoming a Rogue Agent determined to route out several conspirators in the government that are working with the terrorists for that season.
  • In Season 7 of The Amazing Race, Joyce had to shave her head to win a Fast Forward (her husband Uchenna was already bald). That was the point at which they stopped being the boring couple in the background, and became threats to win the race (which they did). The fact that another team refused this same task didn't hurt their case, either.
    • The Fast Forward returned in Season 20 when Big Brother alumna Rachel Reilly fled weeping from the temple, bawling that she paid way too much for her extensions to have them shaved off. No hero's journey hers, although she and partner Brendon Villegas did finish third.
  • Angel: Cordelia Chase has several. The most notable one is her blonde makeover, which remains even after her return from the afterlife (possibly a Call-Back to Buffy's return from heaven on BtVS) — soon to darken back to its original color when Jasmine possesses her.
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  • Arrow. In Season 3, Oliver Queen's kid sister Thea cuts her hair short, ostensibly because she's living in a hot climate (the South American island of Corto Maltese) but actually because she's secretly training with her natural father Malcolm Merlyn in her transition from a spoilt heiress to the vigilante superhero Speedy.
  • UK reality series Bad Lads Army featured troubled teens having to endure a 1950s style boot camp. Naturally those without regulation haircuts had to get them. For some this functioned as an Important Haircut to get them properly into the army mindset. For others, it was more of a Traumatic Haircut.
  • Battlestar Galactica
    • Starbuck gives herself an Important Haircut in the third season after getting chewed out. She puts on a clean uniform, cuts her hair, and goes to apologize to a family she had offended.
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    • Adama importantly shaves off his mustache.
    • Chief Tyrol's shaved head is used as a sign of his gradual mental descent.
  • Black Sails: Resident wimp Dufrense crops his tussled hair short after surviving his first ship boarding (and chewing through a sailor's neck) to coincide with his general toughening up.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, Angela cuts her hair into a French-style bob after her lesbian lover moves to France without her. Her husband Jimmy seems to realize that the cut puts distance between him and her.
  • On Bones, Zach has to forfeit his medium-length unkempt hair for a mature cut to retain his position once he completes his degree because he has to look professional enough to stand as expert witness for a jury.
  • Boy Meets World actress Danielle Fishel wanted to get a haircut, but the higher-ups didn't want Topanga to lose her trademark locks. The only way they would allow it is if Topanga getting a haircut was made into a major story point, which became the second episode of the 4th season. It's parodied in a later season when Eric cuts off his long hair claiming it to be symbolic of his personal growth. It's also the season Eric becomes a lot dumber and wackier, so make of that what you will.
  • In Breaking Bad, Walt's decision to shave his head rather than deal with the hair loss from chemo coincides with a truly phenomenal moment: at the end of the episode in which he goes bald, he uses a bag of crystal meth to gain entrance to the den of a drug lord who had just hospitalized his partner... then blows up the room with what he reveals to be, in fact, fulminated mercury. Took a Level in Badass, indeed.
    • Walt gets another one at the end of the series, bringing his Character Development full-circle. He grows a full beard and grows his hair out while hiding out from the law in New Hampshire after his true identity as Heisenberg goes public. He keeps it when he becomes The Atoner in the final episodes, and returns to Albuquerque to rescue Jesse from the Aryans and get his drug money to his family.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In seasons 3 and 4, Buffy's hair is often crimped or curled whenever she is Not Herself, usually due to a spell. This occurs in The Zeppo (when the entire format of the show is upended and she's not the protagonist), Beer Bad (when magic beer causes her to become a cavewoman), Something Blue (when she falls under a spell and gets engaged to Spike), Who Are You? (when she and Faith have switched bodies), Superstar (which takes place in Jonathan's alternate universe), and Where The Wild Things Are (when she and Riley can't stop having sex because of a haunted presence). Buffy also has curly hair in the Teaser for Season 1's Teacher's Pet, which turns out to be Xander's daydream.
    • Subverted in "Gone". After Buffy has sex with Spike for the first time and regrets it, she butchers her own hair because he had complimented it. After this cut, she's in a salon trying to get it repaired. She also quickly gets back together with Spike, as it takes more than a haircut to change your life when you're suffering from chronic depression.
  • A Chance to Dance contestant Patrick had long blond hair but eventually opted to cut it completely short - mostly because he found it a pain and didn't want it to get in the way.
  • Averted in Charmed when Phoebe got a pixie haircut. Piper briefly comments on Phoebe's new hairstyle in the first episode of season 6, but that's only because Alyssa Milano showed up with it right before they started filming that season.
  • An episode of Chicago Hope featured a teenaged boy who had been raised as a girl. After making a pass at his (female) best friend he went home and chopped off his long hair to try and pass as a boy.
  • When The Colbert Report performed for the US military in Iraq in 2009, Stephen Colbert had this done on him to prove he'd really gone through (a little) basic training to Commanding General Odierno. When Colbert hesitated, President Barack Obama ordered Gen. Odierno to do it.
    Obama: General, as Commander-in-Chief, I hereby order you to shave that man's head!
  • In Deadwood, Mr. Wu cuts off his queue to show his commitment to America and his alliance with Al Swearengen. He later begins wearing western-style clothes as well.
  • Dear White People: Lionel has Troy cut his afro after at last admitting to himself that he's gay.
  • Spinner on Degrassi gets an important haircut when he finds out he has cancer, shifting from a generic haircut to a mohawk until he starts treatment and it goes to just bald. A nod to Snake's haircut earlier in the series for the same reason, just with a different mindset behind it.
  • Doctor Who: In "Amy's Choice", the main characters are being flipped between two realities, one of them being a future where Amy and Rory are married, and Rory has a really bad ponytail. At the climax, he cuts it off.
  • In Elementary episode "The Woman", Isaac Proctor shaves off his long hair and beard when on the run.
  • A great deal of fuss was made when the title character of Felicity cropped her mane of curls between seasons.
  • When La Femme Nikita unexpectedly got a fifth season, the star, Peta Wilson, had cut short her trademark blonde tresses, thinking the show had ended. The first episode of the season turns this into a symbolic moment in which she crops her Blonde Hair of Innocence (an obvious wig, unfortunately), as she doomedly returns to Section One.
  • In Flesh and Bone, ballerina Claire cuts off her ponytail on the night before her potentially career-making performance as an act of liberation from her brother's abusive hold over her.
  • Everyone on Full House had a hairstyle change from time to time, but the most important change was Jesse, who while some people believe he lost his edge upon getting his (somewhat involuntary) haircut, he did noticeably become a more mature and responsible adult. Also, once Stephanie's curls were straightened, she became less annoying.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • At the start of Season 5, Pretty Boy Lancel Lannister reappears after a Faith–Heel Turn with his long flowing hair shorn in penance, barefoot, and dressed in a plain robe.
    • Dothraki warriors sever their braids when defeated in combat. We don't see the ritual take place, but in the case of Drogo, its absence proclaims his prowess.
    • Yoren cuts Arya's hair to enable her to pass for a Night's Watch recruit in order for him to smuggle her out of King's landing after Ned was branded a "traitor", which marks the beginning of a drastic change in her life.
  • General Hospital:
    • Katherine cuts her hair when she realizes that fiancé Stefan wanted her to grow it long so that she would more closely resemble his Lost Lenore Laura.
    • Right before he has a brain biopsy, Stone opts to cut his shoulder-length hair off himself.
  • Discussed, and deconstructed in Girl Code. The cast basically says "after something big happens, stay the hell away from scissors. You're gonna regret it."
  • Glee:
    • Puck has to shave his mohawk in one episode and becomes a lot less cool.
    • Also, in Season 2, Quinn is moping over her latest Finn breakup, so Santana and Brittany order a haircut to cheer her up. This is later subverted in the following season when it's shown that while it may have cheered her up in the short term, cutting her hair did nothing to actually fix her problems or touch off any (positive) character growth.
    • Looking for a new start after Finn's death, Rachel goes to the hairdresser and says she wants something new. She's later seen with a shoulder-length bob, much to the dismay of the director of the show she's starring in. She later reveals it was just a wig anyways.
    • When preparing to take on New York as a serious model, Sam has his "bronytail" chopped off in favour of a much shorter 'do.
  • Grey's Anatomy:
    • George cut his hair after he was burned by Meredith. Everyone even commented on how weird and stupid it looked too, and the reply was "the man has issues."
    • After Derek Shepherd's season 5 Heroic BSoD, he comes back to the hospital to remove Izzie's brain tumor, but the real sign that he's back is when, after the surgery and a talk with the chief, he shaves his beard, returning to his original McDreamy Perma-Stubble look.
  • After being framed for murder and spending the first half of season 2 in a hospital for the criminally insane, Will Graham of Hannibal reports to the title character's psychiatric office again. Previously an Unkempt Beauty, Will now has short, neat hair.
  • In Season 5 of Haven, Duke Crocker cuts his hair short as a sign of mourning after his girlfriend Jennifer Mason dies.
  • Subverted in Hell's Kitchen USA where Gordon Ramsay's sous chef claimed his Bald of Awesome was from one of these when he first started working with Gordon - and said the contestants had to do the same. Two contestants did, but Ramsay revealed the whole thing was just a joke. And the two who had their heads shaved weren't actual contestants.
  • Peter Petrelli, in Heroes, has his floppy fringe cut off while Sylar is attempting to remove his brain. This could well be in response to repeated requests (by not only other characters in the show but also fans and the actor himself) for him to cut his hair. Elle later adds to this by giving him a more complete hair cut. Claude would be proud.
  • Duncan cuts off his trademark long hair (with a knife!) in a dramatic slo-mo scene in the last season of Highlander: The Series.
  • Hitler: The Rise of Evil: Adolf Hitler trims his handlebar moustache into the toothbrush style after being advised by wealthy supporter Ernst Hanfstaengl to adopt a more distinctive look.
  • Brad from Home Improvement gets a ponytail as self-expression, much to Tim's initial chagrin. Later on, Emo Teen Mark shaves his head after a break-up.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • On the "Game Night" episode, Barney (in his hippie past) gets dumped and gives himself an important haircut and shave.
    • Also, between Season 1 and Season 2, Lily leaves and comes back with her trademark red hair dyed brown. This was a decision by the actress unrelated to the show, but the creators felt it fit the character, who had just undergone a breakup and other major life changes. The hair remained the same after she got back together with her ex, though.
    • Then there's Ted's growing a Beard of Sorrow after breaking up with Robin, and shaving it off again when he goes back on the market.
  • In the In Plain Sight episode "Kumar vs. Kumar", an Indian housewife gets her long hair cut short as part of looking more "American" in order to blend in while in Witness Protection. Her very traditional husband objects to these changes in her appearance and personality but they eventually reconcile.
  • On Iron Chef, when Kandagawa challenged Sakai for the Millenium rematch battles, he espoused a new philosophy about Japanese cuisine changing (if not quite modernizing - he was a strict Japanese traditionalist chef in his earlier appearances) in order to survive in the 21st century. Embodying this change, he shaved his head to remind him of his new commitment.
    Kaga: May I touch it?
  • Jam and Jerusalem: Tash's brushing out of her dreads after deciding to leave home signifies her Character Development and increasing level of independence and maturity.
  • In the season 4 Judging Amy episode "Requiem", Maxine cuts her long hair following the death of her fiancé.
  • Lori cuts Jessi's hair near the end of season 2 of Kyle XY when Sarah, who has shorter hair, comes and she leaves her "father". Lori even utters the line "Once we do this there's no turning back."
  • Detective Olivia Benson chops off her hair in the season 15 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit after spending most of the episode being tortured by a Serial Rapist and psycho murderer, as his Sex Slave, whom she beats nearly to death with a piece of an iron bed frame.
  • In the Life manga Ayumu begins cutting herself after her best friend breaks off their friendship due to jealousy. The Live-Action Adaptation completely scrapped Ayumu cutting herself and replaced it with her cutting her long hair short. She did that in the manga too.
  • Used in the second season of The L Word when Shane gives the newly-out Jenny a short haircut.
  • Sally Draper cuts her hair in season 4 of Mad Men, it turns out creepily similar to her Betty's and emphasises the parallels of their characters.
    • Also in Mad Men, Peggy's 1950s ponytail is dramatically turned into a 1960s flip 'do by the office's first out-of-the-closet gay man.
  • Marian cuts her hair at the beginning of series four of Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, in an attempt to look tougher. The DVD commentary states that the actress had cut her hair for a play in between seasons, and didn't have time to grow it again.
  • In the Australian series McLeod's Daughters, Becky cuts her hair using a shard of a broken mirror after taking a job at Drovers Run.
  • In one season of The Middle, Sue accidentally burns off part of her long hair with a curling iron just before heading to college. She decides to shorten the rest of her hair to match, and makes the cut herself (offscreen).
  • In NCIS, Gibbs grows a neat, somewhat disturbing moustache after returning from his 10-Minute Retirement, then shaves it off when he returns to his old self.
    • Additionally, during the obligatory amnesia episode, Gibbs thinks he is still a Marine and gives himself the appropriate crew cut.
  • Maggie Jordan has a Very Important Haircut (and dye job) in the season two premiere of The Newsroom, signifying that Something Very Bad Happened on a trip to Africa. Later in the season, we learn it was because an African boy admired her long blonde hair hours before he was killed in her arms.
  • Matt McNamera on Nip/Tuck shaves his head as part of the coping process after finding out that his parents blackmailed his much-older transgender girlfriend into leaving town — although before becoming a Neo-Nazi, oddly enough.
  • Once Upon a Time
    • The show naturally used this when Rapunzel appeared. Here she had trapped herself in the tower over guilt at her brother's death, and the hair had grown as a result. Cutting the hair meant forgiving herself for his death and moving on.
    • Charming is revealed to have originally been raised as a shepherd with long floppy hair. When he had to impersonate his dead twin brother the prince, the hair had to go. It also marked the point he had to bid goodbye to his peasant life.
    • Played for laughs in Season 4 where Anna boasts to Elsa that Kristoff has cut his hair especially for their wedding. Elsa even takes the time to gawk at the hair when she sees it, despite being in the middle of a tense situation.
    • Rumplestiltskin/Gold cuts his off in season 6 after having had the same haircut for several centuries. His reasons in the show are a bit unclear, probably because his actor Robert Carlyle had to cut it all off for Trainspotting 2 and the OUAT writers had to come up with a reason why.
  • In the Australian TV show Phoenix (1992-3) undercover cop Laz Carides is reluctant to give up his independence to become a member of the suit-and-tie-wearing Major Crimes squad. His eventual acceptance of his new role is shown when he cuts off his (much commented on) ponytail.
  • Power Rangers: Tommy Oliver premiered in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers with a mullet, as was the style in the early '90s in which it was aired. When Tommy returned in Season 2, he'd grown it out into a full ponytail, and kept it as such through the rest of his tenure through Power Rangers Turbo. When he came back for the tenth anniversary special Forever Red (and two years later in Power Rangers Dino Thunder) he'd cut it much shorter and wore it spiked upward, to show how he'd matured out of his teen-phase and into the role of a leader.
  • In the utterly bemusing final episode of The Prisoner (1967), Leo McKern's Number Two, who had appeared to die at the climax of the previous episode, is resurrected using some kind of hi-tech machine that also significantly reduces his hair length and cuts his facial hair down from a full beard to a toothbrush moustache. This was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as McKern hadn't expected to be called back and had changed his look for another role. It's still one of the less confusing elements of the episode.
  • Michael in the US version of Queer as Folk apparently tries to invoke this from time to time. One episode has a subplot wherein Michael is unhappy with the way his life is going. In one scene, he mentions to Brian that he's thinking about doing something different with his hair, and Brian immediately knows that something is wrong because every time Michael is unhappy about something, he tries to deal with it by changing his hair.
  • Played with on Reba when Van goes through one to show he blends in with his football team... only to find out after the fact that his teammates tricked him.
  • Rome. After suffering a Heroic BSoD from murdering Caesar, Brutus bathes in a river and swears to the god Janus that he shall be a new man. When we next see him, Brutus has cut his hair, shaved his Beard of Sorrow, and is paying serious attention to his war against Marc Antony.
  • Rookie Blue's Season 5 premiere has Gail Peck attempting this after coming out to her brother. Subverted in that she's drunk and makes a complete mess of it. Even when Holly tidies it up for her, she still regrets it. This was enforced by real life, as Charlotte Sullivan's hair had been fried from years of bleaching and had to be cut short - and the premiere picks up immediately after the finale.
  • A Saturday Night Live Mother's Day sketch featuring Brie Larson has women develop a tacky haircut after they feel ready to become doting mothers.
    Brie Larson: So you're telling me there's gonna be some sort of magical moment, and suddenly I'm gonna want a haircut that's curtains in the front, iron throne in the back?
    Vanessa Bayer: No one wants the Cut. The Cut chooses you.
  • Scrubs
    • The pilot episode of season three, "My Own American Girl", Elliot decides she is sick of being a pushover and decides to reinvent herself by cutting her hair to shoulder length, using a lot more makeup and wearing sexier clothes. She tones down the look in later seasons, however.
    • A Season 5 episode has JD dating a girl who loves him for his hair and then meeting a patient with cancer - whose family all shave their heads in support of. JD is reluctant to but does so at the end of the episode as a sign of personal growth.
  • Smallville:
    • Lionel Luthor has his head shaved at the end of "Covenant", the season finale of the third season, while we're shown his son choking to death on poisoned wine and Chloe Sullivan being blown up. The dramatic effect was somewhat lessened the next season when it turned out that they had both miraculously survived, and one of the attempted murders hadn't even been committed by Lionel.
    • In "Power", Lana Lang chops off some hair after her Training from Hell, to signify she has Take a Level in Badass.
  • In almost every season of Stargate SG-1 both Carter and Daniel sport new haircuts. Oddly enough Teal'c's beard, and later hair, are the only appearance changes that get commented on and it is negligible that Carter and Daniel's haircuts actually altered their characters. O'Neill's hair just gets grayer.
  • It is a fact that as soon as Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew were allowed to harden/soften their images (Brooks shaving his dead and Mulgrew letting hers down) they suddenly started giving their most effective performances. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, at approximately the same time Ben Sisko was promoted from Commander to Captain, he shaves his head and grows a goatee. (Actor Avery Brooks was initially forbidden from appearing with a shaved head, which had been a trademark of his character on Spenser For Hire. (Also, about the same time Kira Nerys is promoted from Major to Colonel, her hair goes from short and boyish to a Sci-Fi Bob Haircut.) In the second season of Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Janeway ditched her librarian bun. This was less about symbolism and transition, and more about looking less ridiculous.
    • Likewise Kes ditched her bobbed wig for long flowing locks, but that was probably to save Jennifer Lien from having to spend hours gluing on those Pointy Ears, which she developed an allergic reason to.
    • Star Trek: Discovery has a young Spock turn up with a beard and scruffy appearance, mostly due to Sanity Slippage from a mind meld gone wrong. The final episode of the season has him turn up back for duty, clean shaven and back to normal.
  • The 2015 season of Strictly Come Dancing saw pop star Jay McGuinness cut his shoulder-length curls at the request of his partner. It paid off and he ended up winning the season.
  • In the original version of Survivors, Abby gives herself one of these at the end of the first episode.
  • After the rather brutal second season opening of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John cuts off his long mop of hair. That episode implies it's to show how many levels of badass he's taken, and the next few episodes suggest that he's rebelling in the face of having watched his mother kill a man (the preceding episode made a point out of Sarah's unwillingness to kill humans), but a later episode reveals that it's actually very justified because it was John who had just killed a man for the first time, and self-loathing is a normal reaction.
  • Towards The Republic dramatizes young Sun Yat-sen's rejection of the Qing Dynasty by depicting him cutting off his braid in public and throwing it away.
  • In the season 3 finale of True Blood, Tara cuts her hair short because she "needed to make a change".
    • Eric's haircut is important since it marks the change from 'jerk' to a more complex character.
      Eric: The new me. You like?
      Bill: I do. Very much.
  • Tyrant: After an attempt on his father's life, Ahmed decides to get his act together and trims his longish hair to appear more professional.
  • In Veronica Mars, flashbacks show Veronica with long, blonde hair. When the show begins, after Veronica is raped (after having been drugged) and her best friend is murdered, she wears her hair short. This is more likely to differentiate the different timeline than that VM cut her hair as a result of being raped or her friend having been murdered. Some of the flashbacks occur after Lily's murder and show Veronica's still long hair. It is also possible that some of the flashbacks occurred after Veronica's rape.
    • It fits since the hairstyle also corresponds to a massive personality shift (from The Ingenue to a hard-boiled Snark Knight, among other things) resulting from said traumas and alienation from all her existing friends.
  • Shane of The Walking Dead gave himself one after shooting Otis and using him as a meaty distraction.
  • Lorna Dickey in Waterloo Road gets hair extensions. And then kills herself.
  • We Are Who We Are: Caitlin has Fraser cut her long hair, leaving herself with a buzzcut to (it seems) further assert her independence (since this isn't what her father likes) and better pass as a boy. As she later also questions her gender identity, it seems to be a way of exploring that too.
  • Mildred Hubble does this in the first episode of Weirdsister College (a spinoff of The Worst Witch. Cass says that her Girlish Pigtails make her look like a kid - and when she is manipulated by Hobbes and Ethel, Mildred is seen cutting them off. The next episode lampshades it somewhat as Cass says "do you really think that cutting your hair will solve all your problems?"
  • The Wire.
    • Drug dealer in training Namond Brice has a distinctive frizzy ponytail that his compatriots all urge him to cut since it makes him easily identifiable. He finally braids it, only to realize shortly afterwards that the drug trade isn't for him and be adopted by a former cop. He's next seen months later, with the frizzy ponytail again. This sequence was inspired by De'Andre in the original The Corner.
    • Omar Little also shaves off his cornrows between seasons three and four: right after he kills Stringer Bell and puts an end to his quest to avenge Brandon.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess actually used this trope as an essential part of its story in the fourth season. The season premiere had Xena seeing a vision from the future in which she and Gabrielle were crucified. Gabrielle had short hair in the vision, and sure enough, toward the end of the season, Xena was forced to throw her chakram through Gabrielle's hair to beat the episode's villain. Both of them realized afterward that it now looked like it did in the vision, though that didn't stop Gabrielle from keeping it that way for the rest of the show's run.


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