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Barbarian Long Hair

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"Do you see how long his hair is? When Dothraki are defeated in combat, they cut off their braid so the whole world can see their shame. Khal Drogo has never been defeated... He's a savage, of course, but he's one of the finest killers alive."
Viserys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
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Hair. Long, wild hair without a moment's consideration in keeping it presentable. If you see someone with this hair then they're almost surely a badass. And not just any badass, either. A character with Barbarian Longhair will be tough, wild, and as uncontrolled as their hair. Generally, it's a sort of shorthand for someone who can't be bothered to take care of their appearance because they're too busy kicking ass. They may still have a permashave regarding the rest of their body hair, although Beard of Barbarism and/or Carpet of Virility are also possible.

While this look obviously suits a character like a barbarian or certain types of soldiers, it is not limited to groups like these. In fact, because this image suited them so well, it was also a popular style for antiheroes and especially common during the '90s comic book fad of extreme antiheroes. Just one more reason not to mess with Barbarian Longhair.

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Realistically, long hair is inconvenient for people who regularly find themselves in any kind of combat situation, because it gives your opponent something to grab at. Trust us, hair-grabs are painful, frightening, and incapacitating — even if the person doesn't rip a bit of your scalp out. That may, in fact, be part of the trope's appeal; if someone has long hair and is still a powerful fighter, that's a sign that they must be seriously tough.

The Trope Codifier is not literature per se, but the cover art of pulp novels and magazines. Especially the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.

Compare Braids of Barbarism, Dreadlock Warrior, and Wild Hair. Compare and contrast Samurai Ponytail, another haircut that implies a badass. Contrast Long-Haired Pretty Boy for when a Pretty Boy has long, neat hair, Long Hair Is Feminine for when very long hair indicates femininity and/or being of high class, and Real Men Have Short Hair.

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This trope can also qualify as Mr. Fanservice, seeing as the guys who display it are basically hunks with long hair.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bastard!! (1988): Dark Schneider, long-haired badass extraordinaire, has the fit for having long hair and being an incredible warrior, funnily enough, the author is a fan of heavy metal, so he has all the right to have designed him this way.
  • Bleach: Weirdly zig zagged in the case of Kenpachi Zaraki. Zaraki styles his hair into stiff strands with small bells attached at the tips as a handicap to help his opponents give him a better fight. This process is very time-consuming. Then we get a Flash Back to the time before Zaraki became the captain of Squad 11. After the Time Skip, Zaraki has once again started wearing his hair down. It would seem that the more Zaraki embraces his naturally savage fighting style, the more unkempt his hair is.
  • Cross Marian of D.Gray-Man. He's 6'4, and when his hair hangs down straight, it goes to his legs. But it's usually messy and curls at the ends. So that shortens it to hanging down his back. He also sports a nice tuft of facial hair on his chin to match.
  • From Dragon Ball Z we have first and most important, Super Saiyans at level 3, they become much more feral and downright barbaric. After that, another clear example we have is Future Trunks, who has the right to the title due to the fact that, contrary to the other Z-Warriors who like to fight for sport, he will eliminate you from the get-go. Period.
    • Saiyans in general qualify. Though plenty have short (or even no) hair, a majority seen in filler and the main series have become famous for their extremely spiky and unkempt hair. This fits, as besides the term yasai ("vegetable" in Japanese, with the characters reversed to give us "Saiya-jin" or "Vegetable people"), their name was also based on the similar-sounding yasei ("wild man" in Japanese). Perhaps the most notable is Raditz, Son Goku's brother, whose natural hair was as long and unruly as a Super Saiyan 3's.
  • Tsukasa of Dr. Stone has hair down to his shoulders, with stone beads on the end that are implied to be left over from his time encased in stone.
  • Noi from Dorohedoro has long white hair, and fights like a beast, both while wearing a mask, and unmasked.
  • In EDENS ZERO, the protagonist Shiki Granbell is introduced with long, messy, greasy hair that has never been cut in his entire life, since he was Raised by Robots who never saw it as a problem. It bugs Rebecca so much that she cuts it off in his sleep, giving him his standard Shonen Hair look. He later gives this hairstyle to his Digital Avatar on Digitalis as a memento to his old home, but it gets chopped off again by Jamilov's scythe.
  • Chiya of Urara Meirocho is a Wild Child with heel-length hair.
  • Ushio and Tora: whoever is chosen by the Beast Spear will suddenly grow a massive, long mane of dark hair, big enough to cover the user's entire body and trail behind them as they dart around at high speed whenever they brandish the weapon. The Youkai Tora, as well as the other Azafuse like him, have similarly huge manes of red hair and are extremely powerful, savage demons. The two things are related, for those who overuse the Spear are deprived of their soul and turn into Azafuse.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Yusake's ancestor, the demon king Raizen along with tribal tattoos(fitting because he's the spirit of war, and his primitive traits show it off), and Yusake as well when he takes his physical traits. An extreme example as his hair is a huge, wild mess that goes all the way to the floor.

    Comic Books 
  • In Age of Apocalypse, Cyclops sported long hair, with Peek-a-Bangs. While long hair is not a problem, the haircut in front of his face was. It was there to hide his missing eye.
  • Arak: Son of Thunder was a Native American raised by Vikings whose shoulder-length (or longer) black mane marked him as an outsider in Charlemagne's court. After learning more about his Native American origins, he underwent a Significant Haircut and started wearing his hair in a Mohawk to honour his ancestry, but eventually reverted to his barbarian longhair.
  • Asterix: Many barbarians (Gauls, Goths, Norsemen...) have long, braided hair.
  • Groo the Wanderer. The title character is a barbarian with long hair. He is very stupid and exceptionally skilled with the sword.
  • The Mighty Thor: Long unkempt blond mane, being a Norse god, and armed with Mjölnir equals pure badassery.
  • Daniel Llanso, from Spawn spin-off, "Curse Of Spawn". Had long blond hair when he was alive.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Waterworld (1995) pretty much everybody has barbarian hair except for the villain who is bald.

    Literature 
  • And I Darken has a female example in Princess Lada, whose long black curls are always ridiculously tangled and untamed (she would hate even the notion of doing anything with them), especially at the beginning of the story. Later on, she braids them back every so often, easier for combat, and her little brother Radu brushes her hair for her in their childhood. Despite women traditionally having long hair, the unkemptness of hers, because she has no care for her appearance (too busy being badass), qualifies her.
  • Conan the Barbarian; Conan is consistently described as this, with it "square cut" across his forehead. In visual media outside the films, this "square cut" is often interpreted as a disheveled Rare Male Example of a Hime Cut.
  • In the Discworld illustrated novel, The Last Hero, Cohen the Barbarian is bald (though he does have an impressive beard), but Truckle the Uncivil, part of his "Silver Horde" is shown with scraggly hair growing past his shoulders.
  • Ur-Example: The Epic of Gilgamesh describes the hair on Enkidu's head as being long like a woman's.
  • In The Eye of Argon, the protagonist, northern barbarian Grignr, has long red hair. It's also described as "robust", but given the author's attitude towards adjectives, that could mean almost anything.
  • Fafhrd, the tall northern barbarian from Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, is described as having long, flowing red hair. The Mouser, who hails from the civilized south, often comments on Fafhrd's unkempt appearance.
  • The Named Men, Northern barbarians in The First Law series typically wear their hair long and don't cut it. One of them, Shivers gets an Important Haircut in Best Served Cold and for a time wears it in the style of the Italian Renaissance Fantasy Counterpart Culture in which he's ended up. He then lets it grow long again following his Face–Heel Turn.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the hobbits initially do not trust Strider due to his barbarian appearance. The movies keep Aragorn (and most of the rest of the cast) attractively unkempt throughout.
  • Martín Fierro is described as having thick, long black hair, and a great beard.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Dothraki are a nomadic warrior race whose men only cut their hair when they have been defeated in battle. Khal Drogo, the renowned leader of the largest khalesar, had a braid of hair that went to his thighs. In Game of Thrones, he's even played by the actor who illustrates this page, Jason Momoa.
  • Tarzan: Being raised by apes, the titular character doesn't pay much attention to how his hair looks.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jason Momoa pulls this off either as an actual barbarian (e.g. Conan, Khal Drogo) or someone who initially appears to be one but is actually a highly-trained soldier (e.g. Ronon Dex). Having excellent physique and being 6'5" helps. The Dothraki, which are the tribe which Khal Drogo is from never cut their hair unless they are defeated in battle. A little neater than most examples, as unless they have no victories to their name at all they keep it braided.
  • Friday Night Lights Tim Riggins, who is considered one of the toughest players for the Dillon Panthers, wears long, stringy, shoulder-length hair.
  • Game of Thrones
    • Aeron Greyjoy has long hair, as befitting of a Priest of a ravager religion. And Khal Drogo of course, along with all the other (undefeated) Dothraki.
  • Hell's Kitchen: Season 16's Johnny very much fits this category, with his wild long hair and incredibly volatile temper very much characteristic of this.
  • Highlander likes this for the older flashbacks, though Duncan sported it in the modern day too, when it wasn't in a ponytail. He and Connor both had it during their clan days-and the Scots were often considered 'barbarians'/savages by people like the British. Methos and the other Horsemen also sported long hair during the Bronze Age scenes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Uthgardt and Icewind Dale barbarians in the Forgotten Realms are usually depicted this way (ref. the usual depiction of Wulfgar, son of Beornegar on the cover art of the Drizzt Do'Urden books).
  • The Barbarian character from the game HeroQuest has a long mane that is swooshing around on the main box illustration.
  • Warhammer:
    • The shamanic wizards of the Amber Order tend to have long unkempt hair and beards as a sign of their animalistic natures and proximity to the world of the wild.
    • Ditto for Nordlanders and Middenlanders, though technically a subversion in that they come from the most powerful civilized empire in the setting, the wild beards are a conscious choice made to honor their heritage as powerful warriors. It may also be due to their proximity to the far north and being somewhat influenced by the practices of Chaos worshiping barbarians from Norsca and elsewhere.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Most Space Marines go bald or have crew cuts. The White Scars and Space Wolves, being Space Mongolians and Space Vikings respectively, obviously avert it.
    • Orks have no natural hair, so instead, they get a special breed of squig (called, appropriately enough, a hair squig) that bites into the ork's scalp and stays there for life. They come in many different colors and styles, but orks never understand why humans don't accept them as bartering items.
    • Ironically, Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons and the Space Wolves' greatest enemy, has a massive and quite wild amount of red hair that wouldn't look out of place on a Space Wolves Marine. It got even bigger and wilder after becoming a Daemon Primarch.

    Video Games 
  • Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn provides another female example. There's a lot of contrast between her thick, messy, and braided red locks and the prim haircuts of her clone progenitor, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, and Beta, her clone sister.
  • Ganondorf in Hyrule Warriors has a huge red mane.
  • Krohnen in The King of Fighters XV sports a blue version of the hairstyle befitting his abrasive personality, due to living his life as a nomad for years after going AWOL from NESTS during the last time we saw him in The King of Fighters 2001.
  • The Conqueror from The Last Remnant. Don't be fooled by his hair covering one eye; he will destroy you.
  • Nier: Father Nier has an utterly brutal fighting style, and while he keeps his hair in a ponytail most of the time, it's not hard to think how he'd look with his hair untied.
  • Velvet Crowe, the heroine of Tales of Berseria, has incredibly long hair after the time skip. It's visibly unkempt and looks shiny (which is not very good if that isn't natural), which makes sense considering Velvet has spent the last three years down in a prison cell, forced to fight monsters to the death just to eat, and likely hasn't gotten any shampoo. Following the prison breakout, Velvet still wouldn't have time to clean it until the time she reaches the capital at the very least, and by then she admits to not really giving a crap about personal appearance given her mission.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, Brahms is a vampire with long black hair, that controls blood and is a great ally. And to make matters better, he's a Genius Bruiser, so is far from stupid, and knows a lot from the nature of the world and the manipulations of Odin. In the sequel he disguises as a mercenary called as Dylan, he uses a BFS and his long hair remains.

    Webcomics 
  • Daniel Dietrich from Aqua Regia, bonus points for being considered something unthinkable in the totalitarian society the story is set in. And for being something that is both mocked or commented on.
  • Star Impact's Etna has messy, thigh-length red-and-green hair, and is a champion boxer and Blood Knight par excellence. Every now and again in the lead-up to a fight, she'll loudly proclaim that she'll KO her opponent within the span of the first round, and then proceeds to do exactly that.
  • In Weak Hero, Ben Park sported hair in middle school that went down to his shoulders. Though he tried to avoid fighting where possible, he still demonstrated a ferocious fighting spirit when pitted against Jimmy and Donald. The image of him with blank white eyes and untamed hair is a striking one.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Lion Guard: Kion, Simba's son and the lead character, is the only cub with long hair. Nala and Bunga are frequently seen playing with the hair, which grows even longer in Season 3. Bunga has this as well.
  • Conan the Adventurer: As everyone in-universe is constantly reminding us, Conan is "a big dumb barbarian". He also has thick and untamed shoulder-length hair.
  • Gargoyles: Male Gargoyles tend to have long hair (aside from the hairless ones). Goliath, Brooklyn, and Coldstone are the principal examples.
  • Amethyst and Jasper from Steven Universe are two rare female examples. Both have ankle-length fly-away hair, keeping with their Quartz-type roles as aggressive, intimidating warriors, though Amethyst downplays this as she's heroic and her hair is slightly smoother. Going by silhouettes in flashbacks, this is a nearly universal trait of Quartz soldiers, and the hair seems to have a weaponized function for the signature Rolling Attack both Amethyst and Jasper (who are offensive "tanks" unlike defensive Rose) have demonstrated.

    Real Life 
  • Among the old Germanics, only free men were allowed to wear their hair long.
    • Ditto for samurai. The ones who served a single master kept their pates shaved and the rest of their hair in a topknot. Samurai who were freelance or unemployed often let their hair grow out but still kept it in a topknot.
  • Among the Merovingians, long hair was a symbol of kingship and so important that every king or prince who was forced to give up his claim to the throne, had his hair cut off. At one point during the almost constant civil war between the princes, the queen, who was protecting two of the infant princes in her castle, received a package containing a dagger and scissors. Given only these two options, she chose the dagger.
    • The Visigothic Kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula had a similar approach. Shaving the king to the point of baldness was as effective (and far less messy) as outright killing him to remove him from any possible claim to the throne.
  • The Celts were viewed as such by the Romans. Among themselves, among the free population, long hair was viewed as badass and warriors took pride in elaborate hairstyles, with men as well as women sporting various braided and curled styles.
  • Invoked by many Heavy Metal fans and musicians who evoke barbarian long hair as they base their attitude and appearance in Germanic, Nordic, and Celtic tribes, especially noticeable with fans of Black Metal where long hair is almost a requisite.
    • Towards the '80s occurred an unavoidable and still prevalent crossover of metallic and hardcore punk sounds, so barbaric long hair became a stock hairstyle for male punks as well. Chances are that if a guy from the Harcore scene does not have a short crop, he probably grows it very long.
    • Speaking of Metalheads, there's a common playful joke that most males in South American countries are told that they resemble the characters from Saint Seiya due to both having long hair.
  • Ironically, this trope was ultimately subverted. Many of the so-called "barbarians" were no less concerned about personal grooming (and depending on the region and era, more concerned with their appearance) than "civilized" cultures. For example, among the most common grave finds of the Viking and Anglo-Saxon men and women are combs, brushes, and other toiletries. That being said, all that grooming was used to affect a personal appearance that we, by modern standards, would equate, perhaps ignorantly, with "barbarism". Long beards, long hair, braided, etc, etc. As for the lack of shampoo? Surprisingly enough, modern practitioners of "no poo" haircarenote  have found that stopping use of shampoo actually leads to cleaner, healthier, and softer hair than when they used it.note 

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