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Einstein Hair

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Can figure out the laws of time and space. A comb, not so much.

"You should keep it. Looks more science-y."
The Eleventh Doctor to Albert Einstein, Doctor Who, "Death Is the Only Answer"

It seems that to properly convey that your male character is an Absent-Minded Professor or a Mad Scientist in fiction, you only need one thing: give him Einstein-esque hair. Bonus points if you go for the complete look. Additional bonus points if he uses a Van de Graaff generator or a Tesla coil instead of combing.

And it actually makes sense given that:

Contrast Wild Hair, which also indicates indifference to society's opinion, but otherwise has quite different connotations. Sub-Trope of Messy Hair. Compare Labcoat of Science and Medicine. See also Memetic Hair, which this style can be an example of.



Anime and Manga

Asian Animation


  • Rotwang, the Mad Scientist from Metropolis, is the Ur-Example that, in fact, predates Einstein. Albert wasn't even gray yet when the movie came out.
    • Since it was made in his native Germany, it is possible that Metropolis actually inspired Einstein. Note that on his pre-1927 portraits he usually has shorter hair than later in life.
  • Star Wars: Yoda once you get over the fact that he's green. In fact, his character design was partially inspired by Einstein (and bits of Gandhi and LDS President Spencer W. Kimball) to evoke the "benevolent, wise old man" archetype.
  • Doc Brown from Back to the Future.
    • He even comments on the fact that he still has the hairstyle when watching a video of his future self.
    • Christopher Lloyd said in an interview that the hairstyle was inspired by a combination of Einstein and Leopold Stokowski (the orchestral conductor in Fantasia)
    • In the Telltale Games video game series, it's shown that young Emmett first got the hairstyle after an invention literally blew up in his face.
    • During Brown's quick cameo in the pre-show for The Simpsons Ride, he's glad when Krusty has acquired the Institute of Future Technology and Krusty orders him to get a haircut- it takes him three hours every morning just to get his hair like that.
  • In the second Scooby Doo movie, while messing with some potions, Scooby gains great intelligence and grows a white "mane" as a side effect.
  • Prof Jacob Barnhardt in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), who's clearly a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Einstein.
  • Larry of The Three Stooges had a similar haircut, making it a rare example of the hairstyle being applied to an imbecile.
  • Gene Wilder pulls off this look in Young Frankenstein.
  • Mac from Chicken Run manages to have this, despite not actually having hair.
  • Sherlock in Sherlock Holmes (2009), as played by Robert Downey Jr., has this type of hair.
  • Wheeljack from Transformers: Dark of the Moon has wiring on his head that gives him this appearance.
  • Professor Flitwick from the first two Harry Potter movies had this sort of hair.
  • Yahoo Serious once claimed to have chosen to portray (a completely ahistorical version of) Albert Einstein in Young Einstein specifically because he's got the same hairstyle.


  • Both the Indian shaman and his granddaughter in Gives Light.
  • Big Bad Dr. Murik in Licence Renewed has what is described as a mane of white hair, cementing his status as a genius nuclear physicist.
  • A Conversed Trope in The Dresden Files, where one character mentions the "German sage with the mad hair" who taught that matter can neither be created or destroyed.

Live-Action TV

  • Dr. Forrester from Mystery Science Theater 3000.
  • Firefly: When Shepherd Book doesn't have his hair tied up, it looks kinda like this. The sight was freaky enough to send River screaming for cover in the episode "Jaynestown". Granted, he is not a scientist but a priest...
  • Charlie Epps in NUMB3RS tends to have this sort of hair.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The First Doctor has the same hairstyle as in the page image, but combed.
    • Professor Kettlewell in "Robot".
    • In "The Deadly Assassin", the Fourth Doctor claims that his hair curls up whenever he's onto something. Considering his hair is a big, chaotic mop of curls, the presumed implication is that the Fourth Doctor is never not onto something.
    • In the mini-episode "Death Is the Only Answer", it turns out that the Doctor gave Albert the idea once a time travel experiment-gone-wrong made his hair frizzy. He tells him to keep it because it 'looks more sciencey'.
  • Leonard Hofstadter, in The Big Bang Theory has a little of this going on in early seasons, as if he is a fledgling Einstein who hasn't quite got there yet. It is noticeable that, later on, Penny, in a spirit of I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable, appears to have curbed this.


  • Ludwig van Beethoven.
  • Edvard Grieg (In the Hall of the Mountain King) looked like a combination of Einstein and Twain, and his hair sure reflected it.



  • Non-mad scientist example: Cirque du Soleil acrobat/clown Brian Dewhurst often styles his naturally gray hair this way as part of his onstage look — Nouvelle Experience, Mystere, etc. In the former show, he played an elegant but eccentric chamberlain from a Magical Land.
    • Le Vieux, the clown caretaker from "O", also appearing in Worlds Away, also has hair like this.

Video Games

  • Dr. Wily of Mega Man (Classic), not to mention the fact that his first name is Albert, making him practically an evil Expy of Einstein. Nobody's quite sure why Capcom made the villain so clearly Einsteinian, but a popular (half)joke theory is that it's some lingering anger over the Atomic Bomb.
    • In the same vein Dr. Light's first name is Thomas, a reference to Thomas Edison. Ironically, Edison is now considered something of a patent troll who stole most of his inventions.
  • Doctor Zelinsky of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.
    • Einstein himself also showed up in the first two Red Alerts. In the third one, Einstein cameos in the intro.
  • Potential resident Dr. F ("The F stands for ROBOTS!") of MySims.
  • Nicolai from Space Colony.
  • One of the stock NPC scientists in Half-Life looked like Einstein.
  • The original Civilization represented scientists with Einstein-like figures wearing a lab coat and having their hair a mess.
  • Dr. Pettrovich Madnar in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2.
    • Madnar's portrait in MG 2 was actually a digitalization of Einstein's. Then again, Snake was Mel Gibson...
  • The Invisible to Normals therapist NPC in The Sims 2.
  • The Science booster pack in City of Heroes includes 'Mad Science' hair which is pure Einstein.
  • Ripper Roo has one in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back to go with his higher education studies.
  • Team Fortress 2: An Einstein-esque wig was part of Medic's costume for the 2011 Halloween event.
  • Kalrow from Asura's Wrath has this type of hair.
  • Nagito from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair sports this hairstyle. It fits his personality quite well.
  • Ludwig von Koopa of the Super Mario Bros. series has this hairstyle, in an obvious Shout-Out to Beethoven.


Web Original

  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Mild example with the titular Doctor Horrible, whose hair is messier in his villainous identity than as Billy.
  • The Whateley Universe mutant codenamed Cheese (yes, he picked it himself), who is described with hair like this already, even though he is a teenaged supervillain.

Western Animation

  • Parodied in a Sidney Harris cartoon, where such a scientist is walking down a corridor and his colleagues remark (paraphrased) "His theories aren't going so well, so instead he's working on his resemblance to Einstein."
  • Dr. Weird in Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
  • Dr. Scratchensniff from Animaniacs used to have Einstein Hair, but he tore it off bit by bit in frustration during his first sessions with the Warners.
  • Inverted in Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys, where The Smart Guy Dr. Splitz has slicked back hair, but his dimwitted alternate personality Splitzy has wild Einstein-like hair.
  • Technus' first look in Danny Phantom had this with a slight mix of Frankenstein's bride.
  • Flint in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has such hair.
  • In Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, the gang visit a college friend who is working for a professor who not only has the hair but every other physical characteristic of Einstein as well.
  • In the educational talking dog cartoon, Martha Speaks, a scientist/doctor with Einstein hair explains in the opening that a regular dog can gain the ability to speak by eating alphabet soup.
  • Dr. Two Brains from the cartoon WordGirl.
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Plucky Duck convinces Shirley to use her psychic powers so he can channel the spirit of Einstein and pass a test. He gets the hair, the 'stache, the accent, an oversize head...but doesn't get any intelligence and flunks.
  • Nora Wakeman from My Life as a Teenage Robot.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Hotel Strangeduck", Dr. Strangeduck has wild gray hair.
  • Rick from Rick and Morty sports something like this. Humorously, the monsters from the fourth dimension mistook Einstein for him when they went to beat him up. A later episode shows that he's always had wild grey hair ever since he was a child.


  • Duh.
  • One of the Microsoft Office Assistants is a chibi version of Einstein.
  • Mark Twain actually had this hairstyle before Einstein did, making it Older Than They Think.
  • Tim Burton, anyone?
  • If you're into physics, you've probably seen at least one professor like this.
  • Ditto computer science, especially programmers involved in free and open source software. Just visit a Linux user group sometime.
  • Old people in general tend to get that Einstein look. Albert Einstein himself acquired his famed appearance later in life, as his young age photos show him a bit differently.
  • Professor Martyn Poliakoff, who appears in The Periodic Table of Videos. Several Youtube commenters have stated, "This man looks like science."
  • Clifford Stoll, a rather quirky astronomer, author, and maker of Klein bottles, has a waft of smoky hair that sticks out in all directions.
  • There is actually a mutation called Uncombable Hair Syndrome, which makes the hair very pale and brittle while also making it stand on end due to oddly-shaped hair shafts. However, it is incredibly rare, with only about a hundred occurrences of it worldwide.


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