Follow TV Tropes


Adaptational Hairstyle Change

Go To
Left: Aquaman in the comics.
Right: Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe.
In an adaptation of any work, be it a TV series, a novel, or even a remake of another film, there are bound to be some changes made. Sometimes Age Lift is used, making a child character older, or an elderly character younger. Adaptation Distillation removes elements, and Pragmatic Adaptation changes the story altogether to fit the new medium.

This trope is one that more often than not is not intentional. This is the case where a character's general hairstyle is changed from one adaptation of the character to another.

You'll most likely find this trope pertaining to female characters, as Long Hair Is Feminine, and long hair is much more prone to change than the relatively uniform short hairstyles given to the majority of male characters. If they're doing a live-action adaptation they might also change the hair from practicality as some hairstyles are difficult or outright impossible to recreate in real life. This could also happen with animated adaptations, as limitations in animation technology (especially with CGI) could also play a factor.

This trope occurs when a character's hair length, texture, or style changes significantly between adaptations. Or, the character's hair never changes in the original version, but the adaptation version of the character does receive a hairstyle change.


An example of the first is a character having short hair in the original version but then getting long hair in adaptation, or maybe the reverse. An example of the second is a character with curly hair being adapted with straight hair. An example of the third would be a black character who originally sported an afro instead sporting sisterlocks. An example of the fourth would be a character who in an adaptation gets an Important Haircut when they never did in the original version.

Super-Trope to Adaptational Dye-Job, where the primary thing changed about a character is the color of their hair.

This trope is almost guaranteed to occur if a character receives a Race Lift or a Gender Flip. Often the result of Real Life Writes the Hairstyle, which can cause adaptations of characters to receive different hairstyles that either wouldn't be practical for actors in live-action, or difficult to animate in animation.


Examples (sorted by the medium of the adaptation)

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • When Mira recalls her first meeting with Ao in the first chapter of Asteroid in Love, her hair is rather similar to what she is in the Present Day, but without the sidetail. When adapted as the Kidroduction of the anime, she has that sidetail as well, making her a case of Hairstyle Inertia—the only difference is now she wears a star-shaped hairclip over the sidetail.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: In the manga, all of the quintuplets' hair is the same color, but in the anime adaption, each one has a different color, most likely so viewers could easily tell them apart. It's implied that they each could have dyed it a different color when it's shown in the anime that they all had the same color in the past. The hairstyles and lengths for each girl is more plot-centric and is relatively the same between both versions and changes when the time comes.
  • In Studio Ghibli's film adaptation of Kiki's Delivery Service, the title character's hairstyle is changed from the long hair seen in the original novel (which goes just past her shoulders) to a short bob cut, as the latter style is easier to animate, especially in the context of a witch flying through the air.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is depicted as wearing her hair down. In most depictions (Namely W.W. Denslow's illustrations and the 1939 film), Dorothy is usually shown wearing Girlish Pigtails.
  • Every member of Tokyo Mew Mew except Ichigo is given a new hairstyle in Tokyo Mew Mew New:
    • Mint goes from wearing her hair in buns to having her hair down in civilian form, while she only has buns when transformed.
    • Retasu's transformed hairstyle goes from a wrapped braid to low-tied twintails.
    • Bu-Ling gets an addition of Girlish Pigtails.
    • Zakuro gains longer hair in a ponytail when transformed.

    Comic Books 
  • During Wonder Woman's original run under Charles Moulton, her hair as Diana and her hairstyle and Wonder Woman were very distinct and unchanging visual keys to telling which identity she was currently using, with Diana keeping her hair up in a prim bun and Wonder Woman having her curly locks flowing free. In the Silver Age and all iterations since her hairstyles are much more varied and are not as curly, with her sometimes being given entirely straight hair.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Barbie as Rapunzel, Rapunzel's hair is still unusually long, reaching her ankles, but it isn't as impressively long as Rapunzel's hair is indicated to be in the original story; in the latter Rapunzel's hair is long enough to pull people up a tower. In the animated film, this plot point is Adapted Out save for a dream sequence, so it's not necessary for her hair to be so long. It's also likely because the technology didn't exist at that time (2002) to render true long hair in CGI, which wouldn't come along until Tangled in 2010 (not to mention the Barbie animated films have much smaller animation budgets than a Disney production).
  • In The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Kai's hair is changed from spiky to a flame shape, Jay's is changed from a clean cut to a messy style, and Nya's is changed from a bob cut to a ponytail. These hairstyles were later carried over to the main series when the ninjas had their designs changed into the movie versions starting with Season 8.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), Belle initially wears her hair in a ponytail like her animated counterpart almost always does, but after she comes to live at the castle, she loses the ponytail and tends to wear her hair either down or in a bun instead.
  • In Cinderella (2015), Ella wears her hair down at the ball, rather than sport the elegant updo of the animated Cinderella.
  • DC Extended Universe:
  • Divergent: The lead character Tris cuts her hair to chin length as part of her character change between the first novel and the second. The film adaptation of the novels retains this Important Haircut, but Tris instead has a very short pixie, thanks to Shailene Woodley's real-life haircut for The Fault in Our Stars adaptation. The third film fixes this, giving Tris chin-length hair. This actually ends up having plot relevance, as the change from pixie crop to chin-length symbolizes Tris forgiving herself.
  • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Clea receives this treatment in The Stinger. In the comics, Clea is frequently drawn with a number of strange hairstyles, the most recognizable being two large curls on top of her head. In the MCU, Clea has more mundane-looking, long straight hair.
  • In the first Fifty Shades of Grey movie, Mia has short, bobbed hair, matching her description in the books. However, in the sequels, Mia has long wavy hair, much like how Rita Ora often wears her hair. Considering Mia's reduced significance in the films compared to the books and her hair really not being integral to her character, it probably wasn't worth making Ora cut and dye her hair into a '20s Bob Haircut or wear a wig for the sequels.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Arthur Weasley is described as balding in the books. In the films, he's played by Mark Williams, who has a full head of hair.
    • Lucius Malfoy is said to look nigh-indistinguishable from Draco, implying that he has short hair. In the films, he has long hair.
  • Inspector Gadget (1999):
    • In addition to being brunette instead of blond, Penny lacks her signature pigtails, either having her hair down or in braids. Despite being blond again in the sequel, she only wears the pigtails in a handful of scenes, usually sticking to a single ponytail.
    • Gadget's hair is also short and clean cut as apposed to the spikier hair of the animated version.
  • The Last Airbender:
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara wears her hair in a long plait with two looped braids (known as her "hair loopies") on either side of her face; her hair is modeled after real Inuit hairstyles, with the Southern Water Tribe as a whole being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Inuit peoples. In the live-action film, Katara wears her hair loose with two long braids on either side of her face and a short braid holding back some of her hair; the movie style is reminiscent of the way Katara wears her hair while in the Fire Nation in the series. The reason for the change is unclear; Katara is portrayed by a white actress in the film rather than being brown-skinned, but the Inuit-inspired aesthetic is kept overall.
    • In the first season of Avatar, Zuko's head is shaved bald save for a ponytail on top of his head. In the movie, Zuko has a far less extreme-looking short hairstyle; presumably they felt it would be too difficult to recreate his hairstyle without resorting to extensive makeup, or getting the actor to both grow his hair long then get most of it shaved off.
  • Mulan doesn't include the iconic scene from the animated film where the title character cuts her waist-length hair to shoulder-length to disguise herself as a man. This was done partly in an attempt to be more historically accurate, as Chinese soldiers in that time period did wear their hair long.
  • The Old Guard:
    • Andy's hair is long and curly in the comics; the the film, her hair is straight and barely chin-length.
    • Similarly, Joe's hair reaches his shoulders in the comic, while in the movie, it is much shorter.
    • Nile, on the other hand, has a short haircut (not dissimilar to movie!Andy's) in the comics, but in the movie, she keeps her hair in shoulder-length braids.
  • In The Promised Neverland live-action movie, the main trio's hair colors are the same as in the anime, but the hairstyles are different. Their messy, spiky hair (especially Emma's antenna) is replaced with much neater and straighter hair.
  • Twilight:
    • Bella Swan. In the novel, she's described as having silky straight hair. Kristen Stewart sported a wavy hairstyle in the films.
    • In the books Jacob grows his hair long again at some points when he runs away or stops taking care of himself, but in the movies, from New Moon onwards, he keeps his hair cropped short. A probable factor is that Taylor Lautner hated wearing a long wig.
    • Bree Tanner from Eclipse was described as having chin-length hair. She had Jodelle Ferland's natural waist-length hair in the film.

  • Smash TV: In the game, the showgirls who appeared have shoulder-length hair. In the Sega Force novelization, the images showing two of them has the girl on the right of the host with long-hair that reaches past her back while the other one has a large portion of hair go over her right shoulder.
  • Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand: In the games, Niena's hair is shoulder-length, in the novelization by Waku Oba, it's long enough to reach her back.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy "Quake" Johnson has long hair that's usually dyed blonde. In the comics, she has short black hair.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • At the end of A Game of Thrones, all of Daenerys' hair is burned off when she survives stepping into Drogo's funeral pyre; it starts slowly growing back by A Clash of Kings. In the TV adaptation, Dany's hair is left untouched and she has long hair all throughout the show.
    • In the A Song of Ice and Fire books, many members of Meereen's upper class wear their hair in highly elaborate styles such as horns or wings. This wasn't included in the show, probably because the styles would be difficult to recreate in live-action and it might not translate as well onscreen.
    • In the books, Daario Naharis is described as having curly hair that reaches his collar and a long beard styled into three prongs. In Season 3, Daario (as played by Ed Skrein) is clean-shaven with long wavy hair (some of which is worn in braids). After Daario was recast in Season 4 (now played by Michiel Huisman), he sported a beard and shorter, curlier hair that more closely matched his book description, although his hair and beard were both much shorter than the book version's; his hair also lacks the bright dyes the book version's often uses. Daario's flamboyant look was greatly toned down overall, presumably because it might have looked too silly and distracting onscreen (and thus making him more plausible as Daenerys' love interest).
    • When Cersei is forced to make her walk of atonement in the books, she's shaved completely bald (along with all her other body hair). In the show she simply has her waist-length hair chopped into a messy pixie-cut, which is less difficult to depict onscreen while still getting the point across.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In the novel, Louis de Pointe du Lac has chin-length hair, whereas his TV counterpart has short hair.
  • Legion: David Haller's Messy Hair is more normal and realistic than the towering Anime Hair he has in the comics.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Tolkien tended to describe Elves as having long and beautiful hair, male and female alike, though he did not outright or succinctly say that "all" Elves had long hair. In the show, very few Elves have their iconic long-haired looks as depicted in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, notably despite the show taking cues from the movie trilogy's depictions in many other aspects, with some haircuts being as short as buzz cuts with fades.
  • Red Dwarf: In most adaptations of the series, Lister is depicted as having dreadlocks. However, in the two American pilots for the series, he's depicted as having short bushy hair instead, with no dreadlocks in sight. Ditto for Holly, who goes from a blonde in the UK version (at the time) to having dark brown hair in the American version.
  • The Sandman (2022): In the comic, Dream is often depicted with a huge mane of '80s Hair. In the TV series, Dream is mostly depicted with much shorter though still spiky hair. This reflects the Setting Update (the comic was first launched in 1989, the TV series was released in 2022), though it was also for the purposes of pragmatism; the make-up department did try out Tom Sturridge with the massive hair from the comic but it reportedly looked ridiculous onscreen, so they toned it down. In the comic, Dream did occasionally switch to shorter hairstyles too.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Comic Carol is drawn with shoulder-length hair. In the show, she instead has a shaved head, and then as the show progresses, she grows it out far longer than her comic counterpart had.
    • Michonne in both the comics and the series has dreadlocks. However, starting in Season 9, Michonne noticeably has the dreadlocks on the side of her head shaved.
  • The Witcher:
    • Sabrina Glevissig, one of The Sorcerers (in the source material they were known as The Lodge of Sorceresses), has shorter hair that's almost in a bob style as compared to her video-game counterpart who has longer, darker hair.
    • Yennefer is depicted with long wavy hair; while it has a bit of curl, it's nowhere near as curly as Yennefer's hair is described as being in the books. In the show, Yen's hair utilizes Anya Chalotra's natural hair, which is quite straight and would probably require extensive styling to match Yen's hair from the books. It also looks a lot like Yen's hair from the video game adaptations (which are more widely known than the books).

    Video Games 
  • In the remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, several characters received very new character designs in order to better distinguish them from one another and update them for modern preferences. For example, the original Luthier had a generic short hairstyle that he shared with many other characters, so new Luthier has a much more unique long low ponytailed style.
  • More like a quill-style, but one involved bringing Sonic the Hedgehog over the United States. While Sonic's original Japanese design featured five quills in an arc, the American artists redesigned Sonic's quills to be put in a straight line similar to a mohawk. This stayed on both box arts and North American created cartoons and comics. After games shifted from sprites to 3D models, Sega of America dropped this for obvious reasons. Since then, he has only appeared in Concept Art in collection/anniversary games and a sticker in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt depicts Yennefer with long wavy hair rather than the riot of curls she's described as having in the novels. This is likely because hair is already difficult to render in CGI and curly hair is even more challenging, so Yen's hair being straighter made things much simpler.
  • Ys IV:
    • In most versions of the game, including the remake Memories of Celceta, Duren wore his hair in a ponytail. In Dawn of Ys, he wore his hair short.
    • In previous versions of Ys IV, Karna had Boyish Short Hair worn straight. In Memories of Celceta, she wears it short in a ponytail.
    • In the original Mask of the Sun and Dawn of Ys, Leeza wore her hair in pigtails, albeit the latter game shown them longer than the former. In Taito's remake A New Theory, she had long and untied hair. In Memories of Celceta, her hair was long and mostly untied save for a small portion of it being tied in a ponytail.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation