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Combat Haircomb

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For hard core combers!

'"Have you heard of the Kunoichi? [...] It's the deadly sisterhood of the Ninja, originally Japanese. Like the geishas, they were trained in singing and entertaining so they could get access into the household of an enemy warlord, and just when he'd gotten her nice and cosy in his arms he'd end up with an icepick through the ear into the brain — one of their favourite tricks, in my language the ssu chieh wen — the kiss of death."
Quiller's Run
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Women get all the best Hidden Weapons. A woman with a Combat Haircomb has an ornamental comb or pin to fasten her hair that is also a dagger or other sharp implement. It may be inside a sheath, or the hair itself may serve to hide the blade. It's very popular for spies and assassins as well as undercover warriors who need to blend in to high society functions.

In a pinch, chopstick-style plain wood hairpins can be used this way, as an Improvised Weapon. Another variant is to use a big brush comb and use the handle to hide a weapon or as a blade. In rare cases, it's an actual comb, albeit with poison tips.

See also Nothing Up My Sleeve, Slipknot Ponytail, and Victoria's Secret Compartment. Subtrope to Arsenal Attire.


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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Black Christmas (2019): When Riley is forced to kneel at Brian's feet in the frat house, she grabs the comb that had been stolen from her earlier off the altar and uses it to rake Brian's face.
  • In The Forbidden Kingdom, Golden Sparrow wears a magical dart in her hair that can kill an immortal. She's waiting to meet the magical warlord who killed her family.
  • The seeresses in Immortals had one used to break out of captivity.
  • A character in Leprechaun in the Hood is killed with an afro pick to the throat.
  • Irene Adler in the trailer to Sherlock Holmes (2009). The scenes never made it into the movie.
  • The Three Musketeers (1973): While fighting Constance Bonacieux over the diamond-studded necklace, Milady pulls an ornamental hairpin out of her hair and uses it as a weapon.
  • A male example is the title character of Undercover Brother, who uses his afro picks as throwing knives.
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    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • In Sourcery, Conina the barbarian hairdresser is the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian ("wholesale slaughter") so has no choice than to accept destiny as a barbarian warrior. But what she really wants is to own a hairdressing salon. In between bouts of sickening violence, she keeps her hand in by doing hairdos. Sometimes combs and scissors become lethal weapons in her hands...
    • Anyone who sees Granny Weatherwax remove her hatpins had better start running...
    • Played absolutely straight by Willikins in Snuff. If he's tasked with keeping you under control, and you start getting any funny ideas about escaping, and you see him remove a steel comb from his pocket... you just sit right where you are and don't so much as breathe in a threatening manner.
    • That indefatigable chronicler of Discworld Rail Ways, Mrs Bradshaw, notes in her Handbook that pins are frequently deployed by ladies nervous of being molested by strange men with whom they are forced to share a compartment. She hints that many prim old ladies seem to hope men will molest them under cover of darkness...
  • In the Dresden Files novel Cold Days, Sarissa, Harry's personal trainer, is invited to a fae party and taken hostage. She breaks out by using her hair needles—while they're just ordinary glass decorations, inside they are supported by steel rods, which burn fae.
  • In The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, Victoria's hairdresser hides her stakes within her hairdos, for easy access.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar, Talia's formal Whites include two long pins in her hair that could, in a pinch, be used as stilettos. She also has throwing-knives on her wrists (concealed by long sleeves) and a long dagger—almost a short sword—strapped to her thigh, accessible through an invisible slit in her skirt.
  • Judge Dee: The Reveal of The Chinese Nail Murders involves a mysterious death finally being explained by the victim's wife driving a shoe nail into her husband's head.
  • In the Kate Daniels series, specifically Magic Strikes, this is first averted—with Kate telling her companion that her hair ornaments aren't knives, as this is a good way to lose a chunk of hair when you pull them—and then played straight, with Kate killing an attacker with them and explaining that, technically, the sharpened wooden sticks are spikes, not knives.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: In Kushiel's Avatar, Phèdre uses a sharpened hairpin to assassinate the Mahrkagir.
  • The Thrawn Trilogy: Shada D'ukal's Establishing Character Moment in The Last Command is her instant transformation from decorative escort to incredibly lethal bodyguard by pulling out her hair needles and using them as throwing daggers.
  • In Tigana, Catriana uses a bladed, poisoned hair comb to assassinate Anghiar, who is the conqueror's emissary in the free province of Senzio.
    You could buy anything you wanted in Senzio’s weapon market. Anything at all. Including a woman’s ornament with a hidden blade. And poison on the blade. An ornament for the hair, in black, with shining jewels, one of which released the spring that freed the blade. An exquisite, deadly thing.
  • Inverted in 20 Years After, where a perfectly ordinary comb is confiscated by an overzealous Lawful Stupid jailer, whose orders were to prevent the prisoner from having any sharp objects. It's part of a plan to ensure no one knows the jailer is actually there to help the prisoner break out.
  • The Tommy and Tuppence short story "The Sunningdale Mystery" has them investigating a man who was stabbed with a hatpin. Tuppence immediately rules out the main suspect, who has a '20s Bob Haircut and therefore wouldn't have a hatpin. She later extends this to correctly concluding that the murderer was a man, trying to make it look as though a woman had done it.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • J-Pop group Brown Eyed Girls has the kunoichi version in their Kill Bill video, among the various other assassinations.

  • Pink Floyd in song "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" on album Animals has the lyric "You like the feel of steel, You're hot stuff with a hatpin, And good fun with a hand gun..."

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • From Dubious Company, we have Tiren's hair... chopstick... things.
    Tiren: Ha! They never take the hairsticks!
  • The Erlking's Daughter in Roommates has a hairpin as part of her human disguise that came handy in many situations. Including as stabbing weapon to threaten a magical mercenary with it. And Glinda had magic sleeping spell poppies among the flowers in her hair at least once.

    Western Animation 
  • The Johnny Bravo episode "Bravo, James Bravo" (a James Bond parody) had several spy gadgets, including the bomb hair comb — one wave would arm it, another would disarm it. After getting it, Johnny immediately proceeds to rapidly comb his hair, sending his higher-ups into a panic. It doesn't explode though, because he's just that good at combing.
  • Make Mine Music!: In the classic Disney cartoon Casey at the Bat, after the title character gets a strike, a woman in the stands attempts to stab the umpire with a hairpin, brandishing it like a dagger.
  • The Tangle Web Comb on Xiaolin Showdown turns into a bunch of strings that can be used to bind the enemies.

    Real Life 
  • Real-life geisha Mineko Iwasaki wrote in her autobiography Geisha: a Life/Geisha of Gion that geisha occasionally used their kanzashi (hair ornaments) to defend themselves or their clients from assault.
  • In feudal Japan, the poisoned hairpin was a standard weapon for kunoichi (female assassins).
  • Cold Steel makes the Honeycomb, a hairbrush that conceals a dagger in the handle.
  • Steel combs were and are a favored weapon among greasers around the world.
  • The Granny Weatherwax example above is Truth in Television; Edwardian era women used their hatpins defensively against street harassment. It got to the point that "[b]y 1910 Chicago and other cities had passed laws limiting the length of hatpins".
  • People can buy butterfly knives that have a comb replacing the blade. They are surprisingly sharp, and if you push slightly too hard on your hair you may hurt your scalp. If you have one, don't pull it out next to someone. It will probably alarm them. The knife can also be used for butterfly knife tricks which is great practice without the risk of really hurting yourself.
    • Novelty combs modeled after straight razors and switchblades also exist, and like the above can be dangerous if misused. Plastic versions that are less likely to accidentally stick yourself with are just as common, however.

 
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Video Example(s):

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Gurren Lagann Yoko vs Adiane

Adiane is beating down Yoko with her scorpiont tail, even ripping off her top, before Yoko improvises her hairpins as needles to pin down Adiane's tail to the floor.

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