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Beard of Barbarism

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Barbarians usually do not have access to good shaving blades or mirrors. So it is not rare to see a barbarian with Manly Facial Hair that puts all other beards to shame. Not only do they dwarf the beards of civilized men, but they also have really awesome dreadlocks and Braids of Barbarism. He may even have body parts from his slain enemies stuck in there. Anyone with a beard like that is immediately flagged as a Berserker, a Blood Knight or both. A Mountain Man, outlaw, or other character who's from a civilized society but leads a much wilder and less civilized lifestyle than his compatriots also frequently embraces this trope.

The more barbaric the man is, the more of these traits (largeness, dreadlockedness, braidedness, number of enemy parts) his beard has. As such, the Beard of Barbarism is used to contrast barbarians with civilized soldiers, who either are clean shaven or have tamed facial hair. These beards can also help determine seniority among the barbarians, as the older men have longer beards.

Usually paired with Wild Hair or Barbarian Longhair. Dwarf beards also fit this trope most of the time due to Dwarves' roots in Viking mythology, though with less barbaric connotations as Dwarves are usually depicted as at least as civilized as the humans around them.

A Sub-Trope of Manly Facial Hair.

Compare Beard of Evil, Seadog Beard.

See also Horns of Barbarism, Pelts of the Barbarian and Wizard Beard.


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  • The Capital One Vikings. One has a 10-year-old son who has a bigger beard than his old man.

    Comic Books 
  • Strontium Dog: Wulf is another Viking character with an impressive beard.
  • Vandal Savage: Vandal usually has a beard. You can sort of tell how "civilised" he is in a given time by how trimmed it is. It's a full-on Beard Of Barbarism in Demon Knights.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Breakheart Pass: Calhoun, the outlaw leader, combines a wild barbaric beard with Bald of Evil for a unique look.
  • Jumanji: Alan Parrish grows a massive beard while trapped in the jungle inside the titular board game for 26 years.

  • Conan the Barbarian: While Conan does not sport a beard, the Aesir, Vanir and other barbarians that he occasionally fights usually have full beards.
  • Discworld: Cohen the Barbarian has a beard so long he's been said to not actually need his loincloth to remain decent. Being mostly a parody of Barbarian Hero types, it's to be expected.
  • Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: Fafhrd is delivering a slave girl who threatens to tell her master if he tries to rape her, leaving him to grumble that just because a man has a beard "everyone assumes he is incapable of civilized seduction".
  • Gaunt's Ghosts: Colonel Colm Corbec sports a classic example; while he's not a barbarian per se, the Ghosts are often portrayed as much more barbaric than the other Guardsmen they fight alongside, like the Volpone Bluebloods.
  • Harry Potter: Hagrid sports a comb-breaking beard.
  • Inverted and played straight in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The book's most central character sports an unkempt beard (rarely mentioned except when he gets the opportunity to shave it off) and is also the least barbaric character in the novel. Played straight by a small band of cannibals seen briefly, in which the only adjective that describes the men is "bearded."
  • River of Dancing Gods: Barbarians having impressive beards is one of the actual rules woven into the universe, but when the protagonist Joe gets transformed from a truck driver into a Barbarian Hero, he notably lacks one because he's a Native American.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Northmen are often described as big, bearded men in furs. Living in the grim north, they're more barbarian-like than the Southerners.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Farscape: D'Argo has a Beard Of Barbarism made up of a mixture of hair and tentacles.
  • Game of Thrones: A few.
    • The hill tribes have rather large beards.
    • Tormund Giantsbane, whose luxuriant growth is perhaps the most impressive in the show.
    • Malakho has one of the thickest beards among Dany's khalasar.
  • Rome: Following the end of the civil war, Caesar fills the depleted ranks of the Roman Senate with representatives from Rome's newly-conquered Gallic provinces, who are distinguished from their "civilized" Roman counterparts by their lengthy beards and hair. note 
  • Vikings: Pretty much everyone has a seriously badass Beard of Barbarism. Hell, even background extras get beards of such epicness that usually belong to main or supporting characters on other shows.
  • Lost: Invoked by Tom Friendly of The Others in Season 2 who had a long grey beard whenever the survivors encountered him. Subverted at the end of Season 2 when the beard turned out to be fake and Season 3 revealed The Others were technologically advanced rather than barbaric jungle dwellers.

  • One of the reasons that Manly Facial Hair is so popular in Heavy Metal subculture. Particularly relevant to performers and fans of viking and folk metal, most famously Amon Amarth front man Johan Hegg.

  • Hindu Mythology: Shiva is sometimes depicted as having a long unkempt beard, which makes sense, considering that he's a hermit who dwells in the Himalayas, and is indifferent to civilized norms and conventions. And he is also known for possessing powerful dreadlocks that can absorbed the impact of the mighty celestial river Ganges when she made her leapt down from the heavens. Here's an image. His bodyguards and attendants, the Ganas, are also bearded barbarians.
  • Norse Mythology: Most Norse gods were traditionally depicted as sporting full, long beards.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Tursas the Horny Viking, first seen in Chikara, possesses a beard that extends past his pectoral muscles.
  • ROH, WCPW, and 2x IWGP Tag-Team Champions War Machine consist of Hanson and Raymond Rowe, two large men with large beards.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer takes this trope and makes sweet, sweet love to it. The length and fullness of your beard is a direct indicator of how badass you are. From the Norscans to the Dwarfs to the northerly Imperials, almost everyone whose badass has some manner of thick, unruly, seriously grizzly looking beard. Norscans and Nordlanders combine this with Seadog Beard to varying extents — the Norscans due to being demon-possessed Vikings, and the Nordlanders due to being 16th century Sweden in a Fantasy setting.

    Video Games 
  • Diablo III: The Barbarian. Note that The Barbarian of Diablo 2 was bald and shaved.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: Legate Lanius has one on his helmet. Beneath that, he simply has muttonchops and a goatee.
  • Far Cry Primal: All the characters with beards qualify as this, since they're cavemen, but by far the most pre-eminent is Wogah the crafter, who has a long, unkempt beard, most likely because he can't comb it, due to having only one hand.
  • God of War:
    • The Barbarian King.
    • Kratos, which is ironic in a way since as a Spartan citizen he's technically the opposite of the original meaning of "barbarian" (essentially "somebody not from Greece").
    • By the time of God of War (PS4), Kratos' goatee has grown into a full beard, but ironically he's a lot more even-tempered than he was in the earlier games. The Norse gods Kratos goes up against, like Magni, Modi, and Baldur all play this straight, having distinctively massive Viking beards.
  • L Eague Of Legends: Olaf, your classic, brutish Viking stereotype, has a very unkempt beard that he maintains in all of his appearances. He's even got little Braids Of Barbariansim across it, and is literally titled "The Berserker".
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Kaneli. He is the elder of the Rito tribe, which has a comparatively uncivilized culture compared with the other races of Hyrule, and he has a big braided beard that fits that role.
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft 3: The Dwarf Mountain King has skulls attached to his mustache.
    • In World of Warcraft, this trope is exemplified by the vrykul, whose men always have this kind of beard. Additionally, any male player-character Orc or Dwarf can have a beard with multiple braids and rings hanging from it.
  • Warhammer: Mark of Chaos: Chaos Marauders bear giant, sometimes forked, sometimes heavily braided beards into battle against the enemies of the Dark Gods and come from a culture of what could only be described as Satanist Vikings. Helmetless Chaos Warriors on the other hand, disappointingly avert this trope. Despite embracing it in the official art for them from the tabletop game.

    Western Animation 
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Ludo grew a beard while drifting in the void between Seasons 1 and 2. Once he starts getting his groove back (and after acquiring one half of Star's wand), he adds braids for a proper barbarian look.

    Real Life 
  • Aversion: Alexander the Great had his men shave regularly, so as to avoid giving the enemy an advantage (pull on your opponent's beard, his head's going to go where you want it to go).
  • Vikings — stereotypically. Actual Vikings tended to go for whatever type of beard was comfortable for them. So you could find as many Vikings averting this trope as you could playing it straight. This was both for the same practicality concerns Alexander the Great had and because the Norse people were very hygienic for the Middle Ages — it was normal to wash and comb one's hair daily. Being beardless, however, was considered unmanly, and "thin-bearded" was fighting words.
  • This guy. Guess what he looks like...
  • BRIAN BLESSED!!!!! often plays a character with one of these.
  • The Buddhist monk Bodidharma is often shown in Chinese art with a thick bushy beard, as he was either Indian or Iranian, both peoples who can grow quite magnificent beards. And not being a native Chinese, he was considered a barbarian by default. He became the founder of Zen Buddhism and according to tradition also the man who introduced the Shaolin monks to kung fu.
  • The Latin word for beard (barba) is sometimes given as a folk etymology for "barbarian" (which is from the Latin word barbarus). However, they are not related, as barbarus is in turn a loanword from the Greek barbaros.note 
  • While the beardedness of the Celts is debatable, they are confirmed to have some pretty big mustaches.
  • When Peter the Great decided to drag Russia kicking and screaming into conformity with Western European cultural mores, one of the things he did was make all of his nobles shave off their beards, sometimes he would do it personally.
  • NASA were not happy about the "revolutionary" beards grown by the Skylab astronauts, which didn't match with the clean-cut American image such astronauts had exemplified throughout the Space Race. After Mission Control failed to compromise on their grueling and micro-managed schedule, the astronauts really did revolt by turning off all communications for a day in the so-called Strike in Space.
  • Also in Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces often grew beards to fit in with the locals, who figured a man without a beard was just a boy. Senior officers were not amused and made them shave to conform to the clean-cut soldier look, no matter what their local partners thought.