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Baldness Angst

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880. Never tell a man he's losing his hair. He already knows.

A bald character is not happy about being bald. They used to have hair, only to lose it. Often they cover it with a hat or a wig. While they may be Prematurely Bald, they might simply be getting older.

The tone of this trope is largely gender-dependent. Since roughly half of all men will lose their hair to a noticeable degree by age 50, complaining about this inevitability is often considered the height of vanity, and thus this trope is often Played for Laughs with men (though not always). With women, drastic hair loss is much more likely to be Played for Drama since women are expected to have long, luscious locks, and are less likely to lose their hair barring a medical condition. Some embrace the new look, however.

Sometimes caused by a Traumatic Haircut. May lead to Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. Not to be confused with Baldness Mockery; that's when someone else is doing the insulting.

Subtrope of Appearance Angst. Contrast Bald Head of Toughness. Sister trope to Fake-Hair Drama and First Gray Hair.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • One-Punch Man: Apart of being the most powerful being on Earth against whom no opponent can last for more than one punch, maybe except Boros, the other thing that produces angst in Saitama is the loss of all of his hair, which eventually came with his superstrength and is one of the things he misses most from his previous life.
  • Osomatsu-san: In the episode "Chibita's Revenge", Chibita tries to kill the sextuplets because one of them pulled out his only hair, leaving him bald.
  • In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, high school student Kagero Usui's partial baldness is pretty much his only distinguishing trait, but because he is so self-conscious of it and tries to hide it, other characters stop noticing him completely when he does.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: In basically every continuity, Lex Luthor lost his hair in a traumatic event. In How Luthor Met Superboy, he lost his hair in a lab accident that Superboy saved him from by means of his Super-Breath. Unfortunately, in so doing, Superboy also messed up a top-secret project that Luthor was working on, and Lex convinced himself that Superboy did this on purpose (he didn't), which marked the beginning of a lifelong hatred of Superboy that would ultimately lead to becoming Superman's Arch-Enemy.
  • Robin (1993): Tim Drake's friend Ives is embarrassed when he loses his hair due to his follicular lymphoma and its treatments and does all he can to hide it from his classmates.
  • Very late into Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), it's revealed that Snivley is so insecure about his baldness that he's put tracking devices into his six remaining hairs.

    Comic Strips 
  • Foxtrot: Bumbling Dad Roger isn't entirely bald yet, but it's definitely thinning out. A few strips point out this aspect of his character:
    • When Peter loses a bet and has to shave his head, Roger celebrates that he's no longer the one with the least hair in the house. Peter gets even a few days later by remarking how awesome it is that hair just grows right back.
    • Andy says she's worried about Paige, as her final exams have her ripping her hair out. Roger tells her he used to do so as well.
      Andy: Why do you think I'm worried?
      Roger: (rubbing his head) Hm. You may have a point.
    • Roger walks in on Peter trying a quack method for growing chest hair, involving rubbing his skin to get blood flowing there and stimulate the follicles. Roger starts to claim that's the stupidest thing he's ever heard when he suddenly develops an itch on the top of his head.

    Film - Animated 
  • In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, King Neptune insists his hair is just "thinning", despite his head being so bald its shine hurts people's eyes. It's implied that this is the main reason he goes ballistic when his crown is stolen, and he wears a paper bag on his head in the meantime.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The More the Merrier: Connie Milligan's fiance, Charles Pendergast, is balding and appears to be self-conscious about it. He wears a hat whenever possible, and in situations where a hat is inappropriate, he wears a toupee. For her part Connie is aware of his baldness but doesn't seem to mind.
  • Inverted in Black Panther. The Dora Milaje, the bodyguards and elite soldiers of the Wakandan army are all shaved bald. They eschew wigs and dislike wearing them. They don't mind using the wig as a weapon. Okoye does this when a fight breaks out in the Korean casino.
  • The Craft: The Alpha Bitch messes with Rochelle's dive and says something racist to her. Since the girls are dabbling magic, they cast a spell on her. They find her a few days later sobbing in the shower with her blonde hair (which she of course flipped and primped) falling out in handfuls. Rochelle ends up regretting having cast the spell in the first place because the punishment is too disproportionate.
  • In the Body Bags segment "Hair", the main character's fear of losing his hair is what leads the main character to try out an experimental drug that gifts him with a massive mane of hair overnight. Then it keeps growing, and he realizes that the "hair" is actually a living creature.
  • In Watch Your Stern, Miss Foster lies to Chief Mundy that Captain Foster is suffering from this so he will shave his beard, believing it to be for a hair transfusion, when in reality, his beard will be used to disguise Blissworth as Potter in front of Admiral Pettigrew.

    Literature 
  • In the Bill Peet book No Such Things, the wig-tailed mopwoggins are bald on the tops of their heads, despite having long fur everywhere else. They're said to be embarrassed about it, and, as their name implies, they use the tuft of fur on their tails to hide it.
  • Appears in The Dresden Files short story "I Was a Teenage Bigfoot" in a rather surprising way. While attending an elite school for the gifted, The magically endowed life force of Irwin, the son of a Bigfoot, is being mysteriously drained by black magic, making the scion weak and ill. Turns out Dr. Fabio, the dean of the school and a retired Venator, was insecure about going bald and using Irwin's excess energy to empower a hair growth spell.
  • Suetonius relates in The Lives Of The Twelve Caesars that Julius Caesar's baldness gave him much uneasiness and exposed him to the jibes of his enemies, and even his soldiers called him "the bald adulterer". Therefore Caesar used to comb forward his scanty locks, and he gladly concealed it with the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath at all times.
Alopecia by Fay Weldon features the female version twice over

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Addams Family:
    • Inverted with Uncle Fester. He once had hair but thinks he looks better without it.
      Uncle Fester: I was thin then, and I had hair. I do look better now, don't I?
      Morticia: Much.
    • In "Uncle Fester's Toupee", he did want a toupée, but only because he had a love interest who was said to hate bald people.
  • There is some second-hand baldness angst in Babylon 5 with Michael Garibaldi's rather noticeable hair loss over the course of the first couple of seasons. While Garibaldi himself doesn't angst over it, one of the stations smugglers really does feel guilty and bad about it according to the episode "Racing Mars" because he accidentally exposed Garibaldi to some alien goo which caused it. He's also scared about Garibaldi finding this out, just in case he does feel some angst or need for revenge.
  • Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. In the prequel series, he sports an ultra-wide side part that develops into a full-on comb-over over time. When we finally see inside Saul's home, we see the bathroom cabinet contains a staggering quantity of hair loss treatments. He is finally forced to accept his hair loss when he goes on the run, adopts a new identity, and has to alter his appearance to avoid arrest.
  • The Boys (2019) has a case that goes both ways, as it's also angst-caused baldness: Beleaguered Assistant Ashley pulls at her hair when nervous (which becomes very frequent), and at a certain point, she starts literally tearing clumps out of her scalp. By season 3, Ashley's very uncomfortable at being asked to reveal she's now wearing a wig.
  • In the final season of Cheers the hair-proud Sam Malone reveals to a disconsolate Carla that he's been wearing a toupée. She's sworn to secrecy, of course.
    • Similarly, another episode has Frasier, whose hair had been thinning through his time on the show, pondering whether to wear a toupee on a date with a young woman. Sam convinces him to ditch the Dodgy Toupee.
  • In The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "Coast to Coast Big Mouth", Laura is tricked into blurting out the secret that Alan Brady is bald on live television. She is extremely nervous about how he'll react to this, and indeed, Alan is very unhappy, but he is eventually convinced that bald can be beautiful and the conflict is laid to rest.
  • On L.A. Law, Douglas overhears a store clerk refer to him as "the old bald guy." Stung, he buys a toupee, but the other partners collapse in laughter the first time they see him wearing it.
  • Pete Campbell of Mad Men begins sporting a combover as his hairline recedes.
  • Parodied in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. A newscaster is blackmailed with a photo of his bald head (he usually wears a toupée) and eventually comes clean. Turns out nobody cares.
    "People like people with hair! They've done studies!"
  • George Costanza in Seinfeld. In the episode "The Beard" George begins wearing a toupée before Kramer sets him up on a blind date with a woman named Denise. He is mortified when he learns that Denise is also bald and admits that he plans to dump her. Angry at this show of hypocrisy, Elaine throws George's toupée out of Jerry's window. The Double Standard trope is then ZigZagged when George decides he has no problem with Denise's baldness, but when he is then forced to turn up for their next date minus his toupée Denise dumps him for being bald.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Picard usually averts this one, but at the end of "Rascals", where he and some of the others had been de-aged to teenagers, he takes a moment on being restored to his normal age to feel at his scalp.
  • 21 Jump Street: Hanson and Penhall rip a toupée from a school principal's head and he reacts very embarrassed at his bald head being exposed. Subverted when the guy next day shows up as his bald self without his toupée, saying "I decided to go for a new look!".
  • Eleven in Stranger Things has some angst that her shaved head makes her not "pretty".
  • The famous "Going Bald" Hoedown on the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? had Brad Sherwood and Drew Carey singing their verses trying to invoke this on their balding co-star Colin Mochrie, with Brad's verse having his character being self-defeating except for that "at least I'm not quite as bald as Colin Mochrie", and Drew's verse having his character glad to have hair to care for and is "real happy that I'm not Colin Mochrie either." But Colin subverted this with an amazing comeback towards them.
    "People always kid me, 'cause I'm losing all my hair.
    I can't really help it that I'm follically impaired.
    It really is quite horrible, but my life is not through,
    I still get way more sex than either Brad or Drew!"

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Molly Holly had her head shaved bald at Wrestlemania 20, and afterwards, she started completing in wigs to hide her baldness. If someone removed her wig, she'll get upset and even choked out the woman responsible for having her head shaved bald, Victoria. Funnily enough, she had the opposite reaction in real life, loving her bald look and even wishing it was more acceptable for women.
  • Kurt Angle did something similar when Edge shaved his head bald, but Kurt wore a wig and had protective wrestling headgear on top of the wig. Once the Fake-Hair Drama ran its course, Kurt ditched it and has been bald ever since. (His hairline was receding anyway and Kurt intended from the get-go to remain bald.)

    Radio 
  • In The Goon Show episode "The Phantom Head Shaver of Brighton", the Phantom's victims tend to make a meal of the scenery when they realise what's happened.
    Seagoon: Look in this mirror.
    Bluebottle: Nooooooo, you rotten swine you - I've been balded - you've ruined my Tony Curtis type haircut! I told you I didn't like this rotten game!

    Theatre 
  • The stage adaptation of 'Allo 'Allo! has a subplot about Colonel Von Strohm's sensitivity on the subject of his baldness. For part of the play, he wears a toupée and reacts angrily whenever he thinks somebody is making a reference to it.

    Video Games 
  • Chris Haversam of Fallout: New Vegas was so traumatized by his hair starting to fall out that he was convinced he was turning into a ghoul, and so left the Vault where he lived and joined the Bright Brotherhood. They tried telling him he was human, but he refused to listen, and eventually they just gave up and let him stay because he was useful to have around.
    Courier: You left your Vault because you were going bald?
    Chris: Bald? You call this bald, smoothskin? I'm a monster! A monster!
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the owner of the fishing pond near Lake Hylia went bald during the seven-years time skip and hides it below a fisher's hat. During the Fishing Minigame, you can then use the fishing rod to remove his hat and expose his baldness. You can then return it, or drop it into the pond - if you do the latter, the pond owner will demand 50 rupees as compensation, but the hat will remain lost, even during the ending cutscene.

    Web Comics 
  • In the now-completed webcomic Girls with Slingshots Jameson, the so-nicknamed "hot barista" at the coffee shop is so freaked by losing all but his forelock, he hides his head under a bandanna but lovingly preens the remaining spit curl. The girls tough love him into shaving his "handsome little tuft", and he's a mopey mess afterwards, convinced he's old and has lost his attractiveness. He only begins to recover when his shy and reserved girlfriend Maureen sees his bald head. She thought the single lock freakish but now finds Jameson sexy. She leaps enthusiastically into his arms.
  • The Order of the Stick: Played for Laughs in a one-off gag when Durkon, who apparently lost his hair at age fifteen, sees that Haley magically regrew her Traumatic Haircut.
    Durkon: Lass! Yer hair! Thor must've smiled upon ye!
    Haley: No, I just found a hair restoration potion in the spa.
    Durkon: I've been bald fer forty years. Thor. Smiled. Upon. Ye.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Principal Verrückt is self-conscious about his balding and wore a toupee before being told it made him look like Hitler.

    Web Video 
  • Played With in Acquisitions Incorporated: since both Omin Dran's player and the Dungeon Master are bald IRL, Omin's baldness is treated like a badge of honor in-game, something to aspire to. It is made ambiguous, however, whether he really does feel that way, or is just overcompensating to hide his insecurity about it.
  • Mario in the earlier SuperMarioLogan videos upon finding out that he's bald underneath that hat. Because of this, Peach divorces from him. Several videos since would have moments where Mario bemoans his baldness, which he almost never does after he meets and hooks up with Rosalina.
  • Examined in The Try Guys' video on "Going Bald," where all four of them get make-up to make them look bald or balding. It's a very real concern for three of them who have male-patterned baldness run in their family, and all of them have various concerns. Zach knows it's coming since his hairline is already creeping upward, Keith has an ugly mole on the back of his neck he uses his hair to cover, Ned is afraid his wife won't find him attractive anymore, and Eugene uses his elaborate Anime Hair to cover up his insecurities. The four struggle at first with their appearance after the bald caps go on, but eventually come to terms with their fears and rock their bald states with confidence.

    Western Animation 
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Squidward the bald octopus always dreams of having hair. In some episodes he manages to get it, only to lose it in the end.
  • One episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters starts with a scientist inventing hair growth that grows hair. When he uses some to rub on his bald head, the effects don't work, and he laments his failure. At the end of the episode, however, he ends up growing a head full of hair.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "A Friend In Deed", Cranky's self-conscious enough about his baldness to wear a toupée. When Pinkie Pie accidentally destroys that toupée, and then tells the entire town about his baldness while she's trying to find a replacement, that's when Cranky starts to really dislike Pinkie.
    • Rarity mixes up Zecora’s silly string remover with shampoo in “Not the Mane Thing About You” and spends the episode freaking out because a large part of her mane falls out. She keeps trying to hide it and replace it and make it grow back because she has a magazine photo shoot in a couple days. Zecora does make up a restoring shampoo but it can’t work that fast. Luckily, things still work out when she turns it into a punk hairdo and the look catches on.
  • Kaz Harada from Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is very self-conscious about his baldness, and there is an episode revolving him using a tonic that turns him into a werewolf whenever he drinks it and when he turns back, he has a head full of hair.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog
    • Eustace is so self-conscious about his bald head that just flat-out saying he's bald will cause him to go on a rage-inducing breakdown. In one episode, he buys some hair tonic to grow some hair, oblivious to its adverse effects, and obsessively drops the hair tonic on his head every second, which only causes him to go on an earthquake-inducing rage in a sporadic manner. In the end, he only manages to grow a single long strand of hair.
    • It turns out that Eustace gets this from his mother, who is also bald and wears a wig. She's even the Corrupt Corporate Executive of a wig company. Anytime she loses her wig, she'll break down crying about how she's ugly.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Numbuh One used to have a head full of hair until an incident involving The Delightful Children From Down the Lane. In the episode "Operation: D.A.D.D.Y.", he sympathizes with Numbuh 85 and his terrible hair-cut as he was proud of his hair before it was gone.
  • Dale Gribble in King of the Hill wears his Mack cap to cover up his balding head and tends to freak out whenever circumstances force the cap to come off.
  • In the Aladdin: The Series One of the villains resents Aladdin for Aladdin's nice, thick head of hair. He's fixated on wearing fancy hats because of his insecurity over his baldness.
  • American Dad! episode "Chimdale" reveals that Stan Smith lost all of his hair in college as a side effect from an experimental acne medication and wears a hair piece. He's very insecure about his baldness, refusing to set an example for Steve (who's insecure about the back brace he has to wear to fix his scoliosis), lying about taking his hair piece off at work even though he didn't. When the rest of the family sees Stan bald, they reveal that they've known the whole time. Stan decides to abandon the hair piece but is shown wearing it in all following episodes and the writers seem to have forgotten that it's not his real hair.
  • Rugrats (1991):
    • In "Grandpa's Date", Grandpa Lou is being visited by a long-past Love Interest, but fears that she'll find him unattractive due to lacking hair in the upper part of his head, so he uses a toupeé. By the end of the episode, it's seen that she wasn't fooled by the toupeé, and cheerfully asks him to take it off.
    • In "Hair!", both Lou and his grandson Tommy fall victim to this; the former out of envy of Roy Davis, an old friend of his because Roy still has all his hair while Lou has lost the hair in the upper part of his head, and the latter because his cousin Angelica told him that he won't grow up because he doesn't have any hair like his friends. Lou tries to one-up Roy by wearing a toupee, but his plan is compromised when Tommy takes it. Dil then pulls off Roy's toupee, revealing that Roy is really bald as well. In the end, Tommy discovers that his father Stu and uncle Drew were both bald as babies in an old photo, but grew hair when they grew up, meaning Angelica was wrong, and learns to accept his lack of hair, knowing now that it won't last forever.
  • Dave the Barbarian: The humanoid snake-god Quosmir is bald on top and wears a combover. He doesn't take to kindly to people mocking his hairstyle.

 
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The Priest

Bruno prophesied that he would lose all his hair which he does indeed.

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Main / BaldnessAngst

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