Non Ironic Clowns have sported large, curly, often brightly-colored afros (a tradition that may have its roots in Minstrel Shows), and afro hairstyles continue to play a role in both gag-based and character-based humor.
Definitely an Evolving Trope, as both styles and attitudes about race have changed over time. In The '70s, afros surged in popularity in the United States with the Black Pride movement to become a defining element of '70s Hair. At that time comedic characters with afros cropped up as parodies of the then-popular Afro Asskicker trope or as wise-cracking Black stereotypes. As both the afro hairstyle and this type of racial humor fell out of style, the role of afro'd characters shifted. Due to its unpopularity, the style became associated with the Disco Dan and other nerdy, uncool Butt-Monkey types. In order to avoid Unfortunate Implications and to serve as a joke in itself, afros were increasingly worn by dorky white characters (i.e. the so-called "Jewfro"). In American comedy today, afros tend to be used in one of two ways: to show a character is weird and kooky, or as a quick gag where characters wear outlandish afro wigs to increase the absurdity of a situation, which is why it's often used as a Funny Flashback Haircut or in examples of I Was Quite a Fashion Victim.
The trope is very much alive in Japan, which doesn't have the same taboos about racial humor as the US. Such characters are often a Funny Foreigner. As a side note, in Japanese just the word "afro" is rather funny because it just so happens to sound like the word "afuro", which rather accurately means "overflowing"; hell, this pun is behind the title of one show. Or, it could sound like "a furo" (yes, at least one anime has made that very joke).
See also Modern Minstrelsy, Soul Brotha, Curly Hair Is Ugly. Common specific usages are Compressed Hair, where a massive afro unexpectedly emerges from a small hat, and Hammerspace Hair, where the afro is used to store something unexpected.
- Sgt. Frog has particular fun with this, mentioning them throughout the series and even assigning specific colors to character. The otherwise hairless frogs frequently and inexplicably end up wearing an afro after Non-Fatal Explosions. Several bits of the soundtrack (notably several of the Ending Themes) are essentially disco numbers. There's also the character of Dasonu Maso, an alien pop star who has admitted he's a shameless knock-off of "Dance Man", the disco-themed J-Pop artist who provided the show's first closing theme, "Afro Gunsou", and who seems more interested in giving the other characters afros than in actually performing.
- Afro Gunsou. Ai kotoba wa Afro to Gunsou... By the way, that means "The password is 'Afro Sergeant'".
- As for "Dasonu Maso" (ダソヌマソ), that name comes from a mangling of the katakana for "Dance Man" (ダンスマン).
- Afro Gunsou. Ai kotoba wa Afro to Gunsou... By the way, that means "The password is 'Afro Sergeant'".
- Nabeshin from Excel Saga is likely the most famous perpetrator of this trope, to the point that his theme song is about his hairdo: "My name is Nabeshin and my afro is fluffy/Maintenance is easy, just wash it once..." It probably bears mentioning that Nabeshin is the Author Avatar of series director Watanabe Shinichi, who does indeed have a large afro.◊
- The afro gets funnier when he cameos in Hayate the Combat Butler. He starts out somehow packed completely into the afro itself, pulls various objects out of the afro, and is referred to by everyone as "[an] afro".
- And when he poses around in Dotto! Koni-chan as Koni's talking dog? Of course has an afro too.
- Minoru Shiraishi dresses up like this guy in the OVA of Lucky☆Star. Live-Action Akira sprays him with a garden hose.
- Much of the physical humor in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo revolves around Bobobo's big blond afro.
- In Bo-bobo's case, the afro appears to actually be a Stealth Pun based on the fact that an alternative way to refer to afros in Japanese is bakuhatsu atama, literally meaning "exploding head". This suddenly makes a lot of sense if you consider what the main inspiration for the manga was.
- One notable gag is Bobobo having Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! pop out of the fro and summon Slifer the Sky Dragon.
- Beck in The Big O gets struck by lightning and as a result, his hair is poofed up into a grotesquely huge afro for the rest of the episode. This is a common staple among anime in general, and Non-Fatal Explosions/electrocutions often result in "Frazzled" afro hair, but unlike most cases, this lasts for more than a couple seconds.
- It looks like manga author Eiichiro Oda thinks afros are the funniest thing ever. As a result, One Piece has many characters donning afros at one point or another:
- One of King Wapol's flunkies, Kuromarimo, fights by throwing afro wigs that stick to his opponent, then setting the wigs on fire.
- For the final match of the Davy Back Fight against Foxy the Silver Fox, Usopp prepares Luffy like a boxing coach, and gives Luffy an afro wig, saying it would help him win. It actually does, when it snags a piece of broken mirror that reflects Foxy's own Slow-Slow Beam back at him.
- Also, Brook sports an impressively large afro. Under a top hat. He is very protective of his afro because, since dying and becoming an animated skeleton, it can't regrow, and it is the only way that the pet whale Laboon he left behind 50 years ago would be able to recognize him now.
- Sengoku also eventually showed he hides one under his hat. Though he is quite Comically Serious, the thing gets truly gigantic when he uses his Devil Fruit power. He becomes a giant Gold Statue of BUDDHA WITH AN AFRO. That could be offensive to some people. But for others is pure Epic Win.
- And Emporio Ivankov sports an impressive purple afro, which is so awesome he can hide people inside it.
- Yumichika Ayasegawa, after Ganju Shiba launches a firework in his face during their fight and he is left with an afro, dons a wig that's identical to his usual hairstyle to stop Ikkaku laughing at him.
- Zennosuke Kurumadani replaces Rukia as Karakura Town's protector. He's commonly referred to as "Imoyama-san" aka "Afro-san". He doesn't like it.
- Death Note features police detective Aizawa, who, until a semi-Important Haircut, sported a medium sized afro. The Haircut is semi-important because, although it didn't mean anything at the time, it did mark his transition from being the afro on the team to being a serious character.
- Ueki temporarily gains an afro and dancing skills as part of a magical power upgrade in The Law of Ueki.
- Masa of My Bride is a Mermaid sports a stylish one as well.
- Yonemi Chiba of Beck sports an afro. A lot of people in the music industry actually refer to him as "that afro."
- Most of the hair-related humor in Gintama is relegated to Gintoki's curly hair, but afros do tend to pop up now and again; the group of thugs using Kagura for their own ends all had 'punch perms' (after Kagura defeats their leader, she shaves it all off him save for a ':D' face.)
- In one arc, Katsura dons an afro as part of a disguise he uses to infiltrate the Shinsengumi and takes up the alias Hashira Afurou.
- Noboru Yamaguchi of Cromartie High School. The character is obsessed with comedy, and his hair is intentionally funny; he's actually disappointed that people are too scared of his fighting skills to laugh at his ridiculous hairstyle. The anime takes this to eleven with animation gags. His afro throbs and moves on its own, even increasing in size.
- Afro Samurai. Other characters mention it frequently, even mock it, and it has a very important place in the plot.
- Classic pot-calling-kettle-black moment: Kuma/Jinno mocks Afro's hair, telling him how ridiculous he looks... while wearing a huge teddy bear head.
- Masumi Okuyama from Nodame Cantabile. His over-the-top behavior often provides comic relief and other characters occasionally poke fun at his hair in passing.
- From Miami Guns, Chief Amano wears an afro and gets very angry if someone says it's out of date.
- Lambo from Reborn! (2004) He can store anything in it. Even a bazooka which is big enough to swallow him and I-Pin whole.
- Code Geass has Kaname Ohgi. In the DVD Commentary, the voice actors suggest that it came about because Ohgi's hairdresser messed up, then lied and told him it looks good.
- In one chapter of Himitsu Kichi the protagonists father has an afro. He's a comedian to boot.
- Space Runaway Ideon, as grimdark as it is, sports a gigling aspect in that The Hero Cosmo Yuki sports a big, red afro as his hairstyle in the show; he wears a helmet half of the time.
- Tarou, protagonist of Hatsukoi Zombie, sports a magnificent one. It is occasionally grabbed and deformed (or used as a flowerbed) by irritated people.
- Bomber from Himouto! Umaru-chan has this as his defining trait; when Umaru first meets him, she freaks out because she thinks her brother's head exploded. The opening for the anime contains a quick gag spoofing Monster Hunter where Umaru slays an afro'd dragon and gets Bomber's Afro from it.
- Chocolove McDonnell of Shaman King is apparently invoking this. In his days as a violent gang-leader, he was completely bald. When he leaves behind his old life to become a comedian and train as a shaman, he grows his hair out into an afro. It also notably covers a scar that he received when his parents were killed, which drove him to a life of crime in the first place.
- The Chipettes in The Chipmunk Adventure inadvertently gain them after a run in with a hurricane.
- An Extremely Goofy Movie has Goofy going to college dressed in 70s-style clothes, complete with a huge afro wig. Max eventually throws it in the trash, but Bobby is seen wearing it in the next scene.
Goofy: But I need it to look groovy for college.
Max: Dad...You're scaring people.
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted: There's a scene featuring Marty the zebra, dressed up in a rainbow afro and clown paint, dancing around while singing the popular circus tune "Entry of the Gladiators" (or rather, "Da da dada da da da CIRCUS da da dada da da da AFRO CIRCUS AFRO CIRCUS AFRO" etc.). The "Afro Circus" scene became notorious very quickly, especially because it hogged a lot of the advertising for the film, and because of how flippin' annoying it is.
- The afro makes a comeback later, when nearly all the circus animals wear them in the climactic scenes.
- Doll Factory: Darius Grumley had an afro back in 1976. In the present day, he's bald.
- Nordberg gets one of these in a flashback to the 70s in The Naked Gun 33 1/3 - so huge it won't fit through a door. Another character then mentions that he was one of the first test cases for Minoxidil (a hair growth product).
- In The Ice Pirates, during the final Time Warp scenes, one way they show years passing is Roscoe growing a huge afro that eventually outmasses his entire body.
- In Black Dynamite, Cream Corn has an afro shaped like a pimp hat.
- In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, there's a throwaway gag in which a young kid is bragging about all the sex he has before his father shuts him down, mentioning his Jew-fro as one of the reasons his boasts must be untrue.
- The Save Our Students parody High School High has a student with model cars driving through his afro, and another student whose towering afro absorbs a blow from a baseball-bat wielding teacher.
- This is alluded to in Spaceballs, when the titular troopers are literally combing the desert with giant combs. The white soldiers in white uniforms have regular combs, and the black soldiers in black uniforms have an afro pick.
- During a fight in Little Annie Rooney, one of the kids' hats gets knocked off. This causes his curly hair to pop up.
- In Larry Niven's Gil the ARM stories, Gil's sometimes-partner Jackson Bera wears an overly-large "natural", the term Afro not yet having come into vogue. Occasionally Played for Laughs, when Bera gets frustrated and pulls his hair or wakes up with terminal bed-head.
- In the Past Doctor Adventures book "The Eye of Heaven", Leela admits in her internal monologue that she finds the way the Fourth Doctor's big curly hairstyle bounces as he moves his head always makes her want to giggle.
- The classic Western example comes from The Brady Bunch, when Jan — who has, need we mention, long, straight blonde hair — wears a black afro wig in an attempt to get attention. Without putting her real hair up under it first. The 1990s movie copied this (and many other plots).
- There's a single-episode Running Gag about the main characters being afraid they'll say something insensitive to one of their coworkers. He has a hook for a hand, but most of them haven't even noticed because they're too busy trying not to say something about his ridiculously large afro.
- One episode has Doug prepping a patient for brain surgery by shaving his hair, halfway through this he is informed by JD that the patient is supposed to be getting rotator cuff surgery. Doug immediately stops to walk away, passing the shaver to JD as the patient wakes up. Elliot compliments the patient on his "nice hal-fro." Since the patient had one arm in a sling, he could only feel the side of his head that had hair, so he doesn't realize what happened.
- Shepherd Book lets "down" his hair once in Firefly. Once was enough, judging by River's reaction. Zoe is almost as freaked out by the sight.
- Chase Matthews of Zoey 101 has a bushy "Jewish afro" constantly referenced by the other characters. He tends to shrug it off but lampshades it himself after Zoey throws a pillow at him that knocks him off his chair. He gets up, pats his head and exclaims "You dented my 'fro!"
- Sam Puckett on iCarly often wears these on the comedic Show Within a Show webshow bits.
- The 1969 - 1974 High School Sitcom Room 222 featured the dorky Bernie (David Jolliffe), or, as most knew him then, the kid with the giant red-haired Afro.
- In Stargate SG-1, during the episode "1969" the team is sent back to 1969 by a freak accident. In order to disguise Teal'c, the team outfits him with a pink tie-dyed shirt, bandana, and afro. It is quite possibly one of the most hilarious moments in the entire series.
- In I Love Lucy, Lucy gets one when she tries to give herself a perm but leaves the curlers in for way too long. Fred Mertz calls her Little Orphan Annie.
- When Jeff becomes a teacher on Community, he tells his students he won't be bothering with learning their names, and calls on people using distinctive features of their clothes or appearance. Then he points to a student wearing a drab brown t-shirt, with absolutely nothing distinctive about him... except that he's a black guy with a fairly large afro. Jeff says, "Actually, maybe I will learn your names."
- In the Reunion Show I Spy Returns, Bill Cosby cringes in embarrassment over a photo of himself back in The '60s when he had a lot more hair.
- On My Name Is Earl, Darnell was on the receiving end of a comment about his hair, on his wedding day, where he was wearing a purple tux from The '70s.
woman: See that? We should have gotten a clown!
- Later, Darnell is shown to be a former secret agent in Witness Protection and uses his hair to store things like a self-destructing phone.
- Lovecraft Country: The black female alien in "I Am" who whisks Hyppolyta away for interdimensional adventure has a massive afro, so large that it's wider than her body.
- In Beetle Bailey, Lt. Flap had a large afro for the first several years of his appearances. One strip featured him losing pencils in it.
- Carlito Colón's afro usually ranged between "needs a comb" and "unfinished dreadlocks", as if he purposefully made it look as awful as possible. Although no work seem to have ever been put into it, he nonetheless always takes pride in it. Much of the comedy revolves around other wrestlers mocking it, pulling it, abusing it or otherwise trying to have it cut, though Calito remains undefeated in hair versus hair matches.
- Mecha Mummy, seen in Pro Wrestling ZERO1, Dramatic Dream Team, Chikara and others. Yes, a mechanical undead being with an afro. Everything about him, from his slow, jerky movements, to his oversized glove "attachable" "weapons", to his "hair" and attempts to use it against him, are meant to be ridiculous.
- El Sensacional Carlitos, IWA Puerto Rico's parody of the Colón family, naturally had an afro, which was typically squashed flat under a straw hat. While an obvious mockery of Carlos Colon's will groomed fro, the joks started to falter when Carlos's son Carlito got a messy fro everyone wanted to cut off. So IWA started presenting him as a serious wrestler and pulled his hair back.
- Before Nina Monet found a set of "permanent lockes", and after Diana La Cazadora shaved them off, her gimmick reloved around her increasingly ridiculous hairstyles, including a yellow afro squashed flat.
- In Guilty Gear X, Faust's (an insane ten-foot-tall doctor with a paper bag over his head) Instant Death move has him putting the opponent on a gurney with a bomb hidden under it. The super-move has two variations, the second one giving both Faust and the now-dead opponent giant afros. Faust's afro appears ON the paper bag to boot. Seen here. It starts around 2:30, by the way.
- In Guilty Gear Strive, the afro returns and is now an important aspect of Faust's gameplay. Hitting an opponent with his "Snip, Snip, Snip" command grab (Or alternatively, touching an afro thrown by his "What Could This Be?" special) temporarily bestows them with a comically huge hairdo that actually becomes part of their hitbox and makes them a bigger target. The afro is also highly flammable and will explode immediately for additional damage if the bearer is hit with a fire attack, or after a delay if they block one.
- Jimmy T. from the WarioWare series sports a large blue afro. In Wario Ware Touched!, his family is shown to all have brightly coloured afros (he is also menaced by an insect named Scratchy the 'Fro Bug — and no, I'm not making this up).
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has Lotta Hart, whose bright red afro actually goes relatively unnoticed by the cast, but is clearly meant to get a laugh on the part of the player. The sequel, on the other hand, makes a bigger deal of it: when you meeting her again, you can choose to misremember her name as "Lotta Hair", which she takes offense to. On at least two occasions during the aforementioned sequel, Lotta Hart is referred to by one of the characters as "that lady with the fluffy cotton-candy hair".
- In Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, villain Miror B. has an enormous Poké Ball-colored afro. His head is a molecule in comparison.
- Flint, the third member of the Elite Four in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum has a red one. Which, when combined with his standard yellow attire, makes him look unsettlingly like Ronald McDonald.
- Bouffalant, introduced in Pokémon Black and White is a buffalo with an afro. Its signature move is called Afro Break in the original Japanese (Changed to Head Charge in the English games). An episode of the anime starring Bouffalant takes this to its logical conclusion: most of the main characters wear afro wigs because otherwise the local Bouffalant population will attack them.
- One NPC in Disgaea 3 One of Taro's Magichange attacks involves the character wielding him to sport a 'fro and dance. He finds it so funny he spits out milk with such velocity it propels him backwards and damages the opponent at the same time!
- In Avalon Code, there's a bandit who lives beneath the dungeon of Frannelle Castle amidst a gigantic horde of treasure. He forgot his name but doesn't seem to care what he's called; take a guess what Rempo decides to name him.
- Sazh Katzroy from the Final Fantasy XIII. There is a chocobo living in it.
- Way of the Samurai has Don Donatelouse, aka 'Dona Dona'. Though mainly Plucky Comic Relief, he genuinely tries to be heroic, and (depending on your choices) may end up more heroic than your hero...Repeated in the 3rd game in the series with Donna, Don's identical (though female) ancestor.
- SoulCalibur IV has an afro as a hairstyle for custom characters. To hammer home the hilarity, its default color is pink. You try taking Zasalamel seriously after seeing him with a huge pink afro and a business suit.
- One of Demoman's unlockable hats in Team Fortress 2 is a Jimi Hendrix-type 'fro. Which isn't that large in-game, but fan artists enjoy taking it Up to Eleven for hilarity's sake.
- The people of Xeos Belt Union in Infinite Space, at least the ones you meet in the game. Lampshaded in Mariana's case, when Franny insults her as "cauliflower head" during their bickering early in Act 2.
- In Azurik: Rise of Perathia, there's a cheat code to give Azurik one of these... and change the background music to disco. It does nothing else; in fact, most of the cheats for that game (save for one or two) are completely useless like that.
- Eddie Wachowski in the SSX series has a massive orange fro.
- In Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, we get flashbacks to the Professor's high-school days. The future Professor himself is sporting a lovely flyaway 'fro during them.
- The PC version of Earthworm Jim has easter eggs that among other things, give Jim an afro complete with "Afro!" sound effect.
- Trisha or should I say, "Ishtar" from Catherine has a large red afro, and it sparkles.
- Shows up as one of the many attachments you can use to customize your characters in Tales of Xillia 2. It can also be recolored and re-sized (At max size, it's almost as large as the wearer) to make it look extra hilarious.
- In PaRappa the Rapper 2, one of the levels has a teacher, Hairdresser Octopus who's been brainwashed so all of the customers at his salon are forced into getting one of these. During the level, Parappa and Octopus cut everyone's hair (particular Lammy's) back to normal.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- Three NPCs (two of whom are siblings) in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are rocking some positively epic 'fros almost as large as they are. One of them is a bird, and one has a bird's nest in his hair.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features Tali, an afro-sporting Gerudo woman who is a master Sand Seal racer and an Elective Mute. All the other Gerudo have more mundane hairstyles.
- Roy has one in Brutal Mario. It's a wig which covers his bald spot, which reflects the light in the room in a way that produces a blinding flash.
- In Bishi Bashi Special 2, the "Simon Says" Mini-Game "Perm Mania" has the dancers grow bigger afros the more points they score.
- A hilarious afro appears on one of the bosses in Silent Scope EX. It's excessively jiggleboned and over-accentuates every movement of the boss, Big A, a Psychopathic Manchild helicopter pilot who flies a Hind-D...with his teddy bear in the gunner seat. Of course, for best results, you have to shoot him in the head, which explains why Big A might constantly whip his head around like that. Sniping the Cockpit is tough enough. On the other hand, his afro is bright yellow and the cockpit is dark, so if you can spot and hit the afro, you can one-shot Big A. Or you can shoot his teddy bear in the face and cause Big A to suffer Death by Despair.
- In Psychonauts, camp bully Bobby Zilch has a massive orange afro that's almost as tall as he is.
Bobby: I heard a rumor that you were raised in the circus, so let me put this in terms you'll understand: I'm the strong man around here!
Raz: Really? Because you look more like the cotton candy.
- Luigi's Mansion 3 has DJ Phantasmagloria, a Disco Dan character fought in the Dance Hall who sports a massive afro. It's actually a wig; her real hair is much shorter. Her office behind the stage has several spare wigs.
- Angela Burnes, the Player Character from Sunset (2015), has her hair done in a normal sized afro.
- The final stage of becoming a /b/tard is a giant afro sprouting forth from the victim's head followed by a complete loss of emotional function.
- When Hanna-Barbera made a cartoon with the Harlem Globetrotters as superheroes, Sweet Lou Dunbar aka Gizmo Man had a Hammerspace Hair afro. Just took a moment of rooting around and whatever he wanted could be found in that afro.
- Daggett wears one in the famous "Beaver Fever" episode of The Angry Beavers. It's huge, especially on Daggett, who can't be much more than 2' tall.
- Cher ends up with this style in an episode of Animaniacs after being exposed to The Brain's shrinking formula, being told it would get her the "really, really big, big hair" she always wanted. Which it did, by shrinking the rest of her body. Her relatively Rapunzel Hair fluffed up into an afro two and a half times her new height after declaring "It's fantastically amazing!"
- Tina from Bob's Burgers rocks a 'fro in a few of Gene's imagine spots: a small one in Gene's story in "The Frond Files" and an epic one in "Itty Bitty Ditty Committee".
- King from The Crumpets has one under his lion costume mane. Due to his dislike of getting the costume off and bathing, it is filthy to the point that countless bugs live in it.
- Fry from Futurama whenever he gets electrocuted. It has its own wiki page, complete with image gallery.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Robot Rodeo" ends with Isabella's hair frizzy because of the humidity that resembles the "afro puffs" style. She makes also a musical number in funk-style about this.
- The Simpsons:
- Disco Stu.
- Homer in an episode where they were in The Poseidon Adventure. When the ship flipped, his wig came off. "Aah! My wig!...I mean, my natural hair!"
- And George Bush senior getting a rainbow afro wig glued to his head— right before a meeting with the Elks.
Bush: Now, are there any questions?
[everyone puts their hand up]
Bush: Keeping in mind that I already explained about my hair.
[everyone puts their hand down]
- Martin Prince's normally straight hair reverts to an afro when exposed to high humidity.
- Marge's Beehive Hairdo turns into an afro when she finds a hidden spa in the basement.
- Carl and Dr. Hibbert often sport them in flashback episodes.
- South Park: Kyle Broflovski has a red Jewfro, which he prefers to keep hidden under his hat and only reveals a) under duress or b) if it has been styled beyond recognition. It also looks very little like a Jewfro and more like an afro.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: When SpongeBob tries to get into a "tough" bar, one ploy is wearing a rainbow afro wig. He thinks this makes him look tougher. Considering what he normally looks like, that's actually somewhat true.
- Total Drama:
- In the second season, Total Drama Action, Leshawna's hair gets wet and turns into an afro for an entire episode. This happens several times in other episodes as well, though sometimes her hair is said to be weave. Especially strange because on multiple occasions Leshawna's hair got completely wet in the first season without turning into an afro the size of a bush.
- Heather wears an afro wig during the third Total Drama Aftermath. The first thing Bridgette tells her in the episode is "nice wig".
- Beardo from "Pahkitew Island". It looks like a microphone.