Follow TV Tropes


Bald Mystic

Go To

Baldness is commonly used as a visual indicator that a person is mystical, supernatural, or just plain wiser than those of us who have hair on our heads.

This portrayal owes a lot to the practice of tonsure, where monks and priests shaved all or part of their heads to display religious devotion, spirituality, or denouncing worldly attachments. It is practiced in several religions from Christianity to Buddhism to this day. As a result, it's not uncommon for fictional mages and mystical practitioners (Witches and Wizards, sorcerers, fortune tellers, soothsayers, oracles, sages), as well as characters who are monks and priests or inspired by real-life religious orders, to be depicted as bald. A religious/spiritual character like the High Priest, Hermit Guru, Barefoot Sage, Magical Barefooter, and Warrior Monk, or someone who wields Enlightenment Superpowers or Religion is Magic, might be depicted shaving their head or being totally bald in contrast to everyone else.

Another contributing factor is our association of wisdom with the elderly, who in turn tend not to have a lot of hair themselves. It's not uncommon to have a bald Old Master or some other Mentor Archetype (though male ones might have a beard to stroke wisely). Bald leaders likely have this strong association between wisdom and baldness to thank for their continued reoccurence (at least in part). And though this trope is gender-neutral, a bald woman, especially if she's young, is rarer and thus more visually striking than a bald man. A particularly powerful female mystic can thus be easily identified as such if she has no hair on her head.

The association of baldness with spiritual people and wise elders means this trope can also apply to fantastic humanoid creatures. A fictional species might also look a lot like us, save for their shiny bald heads that mark them as alien. Ghosts and other spirits are sometimes depicted as bald as well, showing that they're no longer present on this mortal plane. Posthuman Nudism takes this idea and applies it to the entire body.

Sister Trope to Mystical White Hair, another hairstyling choice that denotes the supernatural, and Super-Trope to Chrome Dome Psi for psychics who are bald (hairless characters whose Psychic Powers are informed by a strong genetic or scientific basis, as opposed to a religious or mystical one, go better there). Can overlap with Bald of Evil in the case of characters who are both mystical and conniving and Bald Head of Toughness if the character is also more durable or powerful than their full head of hair having peers. Contrast Baldness Means Sickness for a bald character whose baldness indicate their frailness instead of mysticism, though Sickly Prodigy and Sickly Neurotic Geek may overlap these two.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU
    • Deadman: The titular character had hair in life, but he died and came back as a disembodied spirit with a chalk-white bald head, which makes him look otherworldly.
    • Teen Titans villain Jinx, an Indian sorceress with elemental powers, is bald.
  • Hellboy villain Rasputin, unusually for his Historical Villain Upgrade status, is bald - both in the comic and the movie based on it (overlapping with Bald of Evil). He is a mystic, as was his real-life counterpart, but in Hellboy's universe, he has actual supernatural powers. He is also the self-proclaimed holy prophet of the Ogdru Jahad, the Dragons of Revelation that are destined to bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Marvel Universe: Moondragon is a bald woman who underwent monastic training and has powerful psionic powers.
  • Watchmen: Joel Osterman a.k.a. Mr. Manhattan. When he gains his supernatural powers and abilities, Joel loses all of his hair. Overlaps with Bald Head of Toughness since those abilities make him Nigh-Invulnerable to the point of Complete Immortality and turn him into a Physical God.
  • In White Sand: Invoked with Sand Masters, a mage order with powers over the desert and sand. Their highest-ranking and most powerful Mastrells usually keep their heads bald in order to indicate their mastery.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: The wise and aloof Oracle is a fair-skinned man whose baldness emphasizes the tattoos on his head. The white robes he wears and his bare feet add to the wise mystic look. He guides and instructs the protagonists and has an array of magical powers that help him be the Big Good of the series.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Doctor Strange (2016): The Ancient One, Strange's long-lived and powerful mentor, is a master magic user with a completely hairless head.
  • Ex Machina: Ava usually wears no hair or scalp over her transparent skull, drawing attention to her mechanical nature. When she puts on a wig, she suddenly appears far more lifelike.
  • The Holy Mountain: The Alchemist shaves his disciples bald when they fully commit to their abandonment of material possessions and pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. In the opening, he does this to two women after first stripping them of their fancy dresses, jewelry, and makeup, and he does it again later to the main characters as they accompany him on his journey to the mountain.
  • The Matrix: Morpheus is bald, black, the captain of the Nebuchadnezzar, and Neo's spiritual and mental guru, introducing him to the world of the Matrix and training him both as a fighter and as a thinker to fulfill his role as The Chosen One.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Shansa, a sea witch who uses mysticism to guide Barbossa, keeps her head shaved and tattooed. It's a striking combination.
  • Rats: Night of Terror: Deus is bald with a religious symbol on his forehead, and seems to be the most spiritual of the team.
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Two of the male Vulcan priests shown assissting Spock after the fal-tor-pan was completed were bald.
  • In The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, most of the Shaolin monks sport shaved heads. When the hero joins the monastery, he undergoes an Important Haircut, adopting this look as well. Because he's so good at kung fu, it doubles as a Bald Head of Toughness. This would become star Gordon Liu's signature look for the rest of his career.

  • City of No End: Setheus Platinus Leibowitz, High Partaker of the Church of Ascension, leads the setting's main religion and frequently expounds on Ascensionist philosophy to other characters.
  • Kiki Strike: In the place Kiki comes from, they have a belief that witches will go bald by the time they're eighteen. It turns out that Kiki's Evil Aunt, Livia Sidonia, is bald and wearing wigs to cover it up.
  • Warrior Cats: Rock is an ancient, hairless cat cursed to live forever. He has mystical powers of prophecy and knowledge, and as a result, has spent a lot of time trying to guide Jayfeather along on his destiny.
  • The Witches: Baldness is one of the Red Right Hands of the titular evil witches, who wear wigs to pass as human. The narrator is disgusted when his grandmother tells him this because there's "something indecent" about a bald woman.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Atlantis:
    • High Priest Melas, a spiritual and fatherly figure, is bald.
    • Cassandra, the new oracle who informs the protagonists of their fate through visions, is a young bald woman.
  • Zhaan in Farscape. Despite being from a race of Plant Aliens, Zhaan's baldness is not biological - other episodes have shown other Delnevians with head hair. Rather, her baldness may be related to her profession as a priestess.
  • Sense8: Bodhi has a shaved head that shows off an elaborate tattoo of a tree that reaches onto the back of her scalp. She usually dresses in the robes of the Buddhist monk, which may explain her baldness and highly philosophical outlook on the conflict with BPO. She also demonstrates unique abilities for a Sensate, such as blocking someone from seeing her location when Visiting.
  • Watchmen (2019): Cal, who is actually Doctor Manhattan from the original comic book. When he regains his memories and supernatural abilities and shifts back into Doctor Manhattan, he loses all of the hair he had as Cal. Similar to his comic book counterpart, this overlaps with Bald Head of Toughness since those abilities make him Nigh-Invulnerable to the point of Complete Immortality and a Physical God.
  • In a deviation from previous depictions of the character, Nenneke — a priestess of the goddess Melitele — is depicted with a shaved head in The Witcher (2019).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms: The Red Wizards of Thay traditionally go bald, the better to show off the trademark Power Tattoos on their scalps. Some are naturally bald due to being of Mulan ethnicity, others shave.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Almost to the last, models for Imperial Pyskers of all talents and affiliation show them with smooth bald domes.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Amethyst Wizards, who practice the Lore of Death and are infamously Creepy Good, shave themselves from head to toe.

    Video Games 
  • Bloons TD 6 features Psi, a monkey monk without a trace of fur on their head, who uses their psychic powers to pop bloons.
  • Dawncaster: Two portraits you can select in the magic focused Arcanist class are both of bald men. The only other bald portrait across the six other roles to even feature a single bald character is in the strength-focused Warrior class.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Vivienne (who has a closely shaven head) and Solas (who's completely bald) are two of the three mage companions of the Inquisitor.
  • Healers of Agrela in the first Majesty are depicted as bald women, presumably for religious reasons. Healers are one of the least combative classes and only fight if the palace or their own temple is under attack.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Ammon Jerro and Safiya are both bald magicians. Jerro, a warlock, trained with the Red Wizards of Thay while gathering knowledge to defeat the King of Shadows and has their customary tattooed scalp, choosing to wear the look with a Beard of Evil. Safiya, meanwhile, is a full-fledged Red Wizard and a senior instructor at a Thayan Wizarding School.
  • Overwatch: Though robots, the smooth round heads of the Omnic—most notably Zenyatta—are obviously meant to invoke this in the spirit of their Buddhist monk inspiration. In-game, Zenyatta himself is a robotic Warrior Monk as he's capable of dealing an impressive amount of damage due to his Discord Orb, despite being a Support character. In addition, one of his in-game voice lines lampshades that his method of healing (applying the Harmony Orb to another character) is far more mystical than backed by any science, with Zenyatta describing it as "mysterious."
  • Street Fighter: Dhalsim is a bald Indian mystic whose training in the art of Yoga has granted him extraordinary powers such as levitation, fire-breath, elasticity, and teleportation.

    Western Animation