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Expository Hairstyles

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Despite her Fairytale Wedding Dress, these Braids of Action lets us know that Anna of Frozen is not a Princess Classic.

Generally, the most important things an author wants to communicate to an audience are the things that are difficult to instantly demonstrate, such as a character's role in the story, personality, moral character, or whether the author wants the audience to sympathize with them.

Often as a visual shorthand, the writer uses the character's appearance to symbolize those characteristics. In animation, a common practice is to use Hair Colors, or the color and shape of the eyes. However, another technique that has several useful advantages is the style and length of a character's hair. For one thing, it's relatively easy to implement in Live-Action TV as well as animation. It's also convenient for characters who undergo lots of character development as you can give them an Expository Hairstyle Change or Important Haircut.

Note: while Hair Tropes are all tropes that have to do with hair, this is specifically a supertrope of cases where hairstyle is used to represent a character's personality, not simply to look interesting or help you tell the characters apart.

Compare Clothing Reflects Personality and Stock Costume Traits, where a character's costume indicates profession & status.

A Super-Trope to:

  • Boyish Short Hair: Short, unkempt, or spiky hair, often used to indicate a Tomboy and an Action Girl.
  • Braids of Action: A single long braid or a pair of braids, used to indicate an Action Girl.
  • Childish Bangs: Straight bangs across the forehead with the rest of the hair left long, used to indicate physical or mental immaturity.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Hair tied into side tails that stick out the sides indicate youthfulness or immaturity.
  • Hairy Girl: A girl with more body hair than considered normal, indicating unattractiveness and/or unkemptness.
  • Hime Cut: Long straight hair with full bangs and shorter sidelocks, used to indicate an Ojou and a Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Long hair used to establish the femininity of a female character.
  • Motherly Side Plait: A loose braid or ponytail resting on the shoulder to indicate motherhood with a sweet character.
  • Ojou Ringlets: Side curls on female characters often indicate royalty or being of (or formerly of) high status.
  • Power Hair: Short hair reaching the jawline, parted in front and coiffed expertly so it never crosses in front of the face, used to indicate an Iron Lady.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Hair tied in a single bun at the back, indicating a neat, prim, proper, and organized woman of authority, who is typically conservative and tight-laced.
  • Regal Ringlets: Corkscrew curls as a sign of a character being upper class.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: Wearing a ponytail not intended for elegance indicates a Tomboy or The Lad-ette.



  • Bald Head of Toughness: Baldness (or a shaved head) is used as a visual short hand for physical and mental toughness.
  • Bald Mystic: A bald person is mystical or enlightened.
  • Bald of Authority: A bald person is associated with authority and occupies a position of authority.
  • Delinquent Hair: Unnatural hair color or styles used in a more realistic setting to denote a delinquent or punk.
  • Devilish Hair Horns: A hairstyle that looks like horns is usually a sign that the character is up to no good.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Hairstyle change signals a characterization change.
  • Flashy Protagonists, Bland Extras: Protagonists have more eye-catching hair colors and hairstyles than background extras.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: When this supertrope is used specifically to distinguish heroes and villains.
  • Hair Antennae: Two locks of hair that stick out above the head, resembling an insect's antenna, used to indicate The Ditz.
  • Hiding Behind Your Bangs: Hair covering one eye, used to indicate a character who is either shy, antisocial, or hiding something.
  • Hot-Blooded Sideburns: Sideburns that look like a flame indicate a Hot-Blooded character. On a girl, they usually indicate tomboyishness.
  • Idiot Hair: A single lock of hair that sticks straight up, indicating a foolish, naive, or mischievous individual.
  • Messy Hair: The go-to style for eccentrics or those who don't care about their looks.
  • Nonconformist Dyed Hair: Unnatural hair color used to indicate an alternative or rebellious character.
  • Ominous Hair Loss: Loss of hair is a sign of poor health...
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: A unusual hair color directly caused by some type of power.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: Grey hair on a person too young to have it naturally indicates severe trauma in their past.
  • Quirky Curls: Characters with completely curly hair (not just Regal Ringlets) tend to be energetic, quirky, rebellious and/or eccentric.
  • Samurai Ponytail: This character is nobility, whether they act like it or not, and probably a badass.
  • Spiky Hair: A combination of wild, cool, and Badass.
  • Sultry Bangs: A character's covering one of their eyes emphasizes their sensuality and confidence.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: A distinct point in the hairline in the center of the forehead indicates a villain.
  • Wild Hair: Shaggy, unkempt, long hair, used to symbolize that a character is close to nature.

Alternative Title(s): Expository Hairstyle