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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 (2013) 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:

  • Bald Women: Often found in Sci-Fi, these characters tend to represent empowerment through transcendence.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Mega Twintails: Outrageous Girlish Pigtails twirled into Regal Ringlets indicates a character who combines the two types.
  • Motherly Side Plait: A loose braid or ponytail resting on the shoulder to indicate motherhood with a sweet character.
  • Odango Hair: Two buns worn at about 45-degree angles on the side of the head, sometimes with ribbons and/or cloth covers. Indicates the character is either Chinese, innocent and polite, or when worn with Girlish Pigtails, a Tsundere.
  • 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.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Very long hair (past their waist) that flows like a cape, indicating a feminine and/or upper-class character.
  • Regal Ringlets: Corkscrew curls as a sign of a character being upper class.
  • Short Hair with Tail: Combining the femininity of long hair and the Action Girl / Tomboy implications of short hair.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: Wearing a ponytail not intended for elegance indicates a Tomboy or The Lad-ette.


Unisex (same implications for both genders)

  • Bald of Awesome: When hair loss isn't a sign of a character's lack of youth, health, or morals, it's a sign of awesomeness.
  • Blinding Bangs: A mop of hair that obscures the eyes, usually used to indicate that a character is dumb, a Shrinking Violet or The Stoic.
  • Delinquent Hair: Unnatural hair color or styles used in a more realistic setting to denote a delinquent, antisocial, or rebellious individual.
  • 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.
  • Horned Hairdo: A hairstyle that looks like horns is usually a sign that the character is up to no good.
  • 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.
  • Ominous Hair Loss: Loss of hair is a sign of poor health...
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Hair covering one eye, used to indicate a character who is either seductive, deceptive, shy, or angsty.
  • 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.
  • 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


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