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Hair-Contrast Duo

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A duo (often a romantic couple) whose contrasting hair colors signify their opposing world-views. Said hair colors are usually blond and black or dark brown, but it can just as well be red and black, or blond and blue—the important bit is the contrast. Their respective personalities are then typically defined as follows:

  • The fair-haired partner is the "good" one: younger, bright, hopeful, enthusiastic, naive, helpful, innocent, tends to follow the rules.
  • The dark-haired partner is the "bad" one: older, moody, testy, serious, cynical, often relishes in Angst and their Dark and Troubled Past, tends to break the rules and snap.

The two of them oftentimes have a shaky and volatile relationship due to their great difference in temperament and worldview. The Fair-haired partner often has to push at the Dark-haired partner to even get the relationship going in the first place. There's often a reason lurking in the Dark-haired partner's past to explain their hesitance, be it a failed relationship, abuse from their family, or simple shyness. Other times, the Dark-haired partner is just testier and not necessarily angsty. They may just be easily frustrated with their hyperactive partner's antics.


Ultimately, however, the Opposites Attract.

This is particularly a staple in lesbian romance fiction, where common pairings include a "good blonde" and a "bad brunette". A common inversion features a slightly altered setup:

  • The Blonde becomes an (implied) Phenotype Stereotype, who, while still cheerful and clueless, gains traits like frankness, openness, inventiveness, and ignorance of proper etiquette.
  • The Brunette becomes an (implied) Proper Lady, who, while still moody and cynical, becomes more reserved, well-mannered, and manipulative.

Compare the Seme and Uke dynamics in Boys' Love genre and the One Head Taller rule of thumb to recognize them. Also compare Red Oni, Blue Oni. Contrast Betty and Veronica, which is about romantic rivals with opposite personalities and physical traits, while this trope is specifically about duos/couples, not Triang Relations.


Compare Left-Handed Mirror, another way to compare and contrast two characters.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • As noted above, couples with contrasting hair colors are extremely popular in the Yuri Genre:
  • The title characters of Dirty Pair have very contrasting hair colors (red vs blue). They don't quite fall into the yuri category above, but are still Heterosexual Life-Partners who do get shipped together in many fanfics and several hentai doujins.
  • Berserk one could say Guts' relationship with Griffith is very black and white... ''ba dum-tss'', but in all seriousness Gut's hair (short, spiky, black and brutish) contrasts with Griffith's hair (long, wavy, white, serene) and mirrors their distinct personalities. And can't forget the whole White is evil and Black is good angle.
    • Guts and Casca is initially start off as a subversion, in fact their military short-hair dos make them kinda visually similar but after the Eclipse during the three years in which Guts was gone Casca's hair has grown out and become shoulder length providing good contrast to Guts.
  • Usagi and Mamoru from Sailor Moon: she's the perky blonde and he's the aloof dark-haired guy.
  • In the Lyrical Nanoha franchise:
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi's (brunette) a Deadpan Snarker Bifauxnen who's very down to earth, while Tamaki (blonde) is melodramatic, hyperactive and often comes up with Zany Schemes for the Host Club. Though in the anime, at least the romance aspect is only one-sided on Tamaki's part.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners Kotetsu and Barnaby from Tiger & Bunny completely invert the character dynamics associated with their hair colors (with the exception of age, as the former is about ten years older than the latter). Blond Barnaby is the troubled, socially isolated Defrosting Ice King, while brunet Kotetsu is the idealistic, energetic and impulsive Messiah who eventually manages to gain his friendship and trust.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto and Sasuke in part 1 play this trope relatively straight, especially at the beginning of their rivalry: light-haired Naruto is hyperactive and impulsive, while dark-haired Sasuke is cold and calculating.
    • Naruto's hair also contrasts with the hair of the women in his life: bright yellow against Sakura's neon pink, spiky against Hinata's straight flowing hair. Even when it's supposed to be the same color (blonde) like with Tsunade, it's such a different style and tone.
    • Naruto's parents: "Yellow Flash" Minato and "Red Hot-Blooded Habanero" Kushina.
    • The previous generation had Kakashi and Obito, the first with white/silver hair and the second with black hair. Interestingly the dark-haired one started out as the warm, good person whereas the white haired one was cold and calculating, but as adults they have switched roles, with Obito being the main villain and Kakashi a main character and one of Naruto's biggest supporters.
  • One Piece many, but no real romantic examples
    • Long time friends Shanks and Buggy are the literal Red vs Blue but also subverted as Buggy (Blue hair) is loud, aggressive and quick to anger while Shanks (Red Hair) is calm, easy going and friendly only becoming angry when his friends are endangered.
    • This trope applies strongly to the Strawhats with the exceptions of the dark-haired crewmates (Luffy, Usopp, Robin and Brook) and fur-covered Chopper, the vibrant-haired crew-members fulfill this trope.
      • Zoro-Green (mellow, stubborn, driven).
      • Nami-Orange (fiery, greedy, alluring).
      • Sanji-Yellow (optimistic, loving, enduring).
      • Franky-Blue (positive, relaxed, loyal).
    • Really applies to Nami and Vivi (Les Yay suggestible) as Nami the Fiery Redhead and Vivi Shy Blue-Haired Girl.
    • Smoker's spiky short white hair to Tashigi's neat long black hair. Same goes for Zoro and Tashigi.
    • The Vinsmokes Sibling have this in full.
  • K-On!: Mio (black) is graceful (most of the time) while Ritsu (light brown) is brash.
  • Lucky Star: Yutaka (pink) is cute and childish, while Minami (green) is cool and mature.
  • Common in Pretty Cure seasons with two protagonists. Nagisa and Saki (orange and light brown) are the outspoken tomboys, while Honoka and Mai (black and dark purple) are calmer and more elegant. On the other hand, Heartcatch Pretty Cure inverts this and Suite Pretty Cure ♪ averts it.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka's worldview is "happiness for everyone", while Homura's worldview is "happiness for a specific person named Kaname Madoka".
    • Kyouko's "for myself!" versus Sayaka's/Mami's "for justice!"
  • Boys' Love Genre Ai no Kusabi gives us the Opposites Attract couple consisting of The Beautiful Elite, blond Iason with the younger Troubled, but Cute, Badass Biker Riki who is also a slum mongrel.
  • Yuru-Yuri is pretty much made of hair contrast duos, such as:
    • Yui and Kyouko -or- Yui and Chinatsu -or- Kyouko and Ayano
    • Himawari and Sakurako
  • Slayers has Xelloss and Filia. While not romantic (fandom aside), they contrast in most aspects of their designs, like hair (purple and yellow, complement colours), clothes (black and white), diametrically opposed species (demon and dragon), and their widely different personalities clash just about all the time they're on screen at the same time.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Shinji Ikari (dark brown) and Kaworu Nagisa (silver), who are also contrasted by their blue eyes and red eyes respectively. Shinji tends to be depressed and unenthusiastic whereas Kaworu is always smiling and often expresses admiration for life and culture. Also contrasted by Shinji being a human, progeny of Lilith, and Kaworu being an Angel, progeny of Adam. There is a considerable amount of Ho Yay between the two.
    • Asuka and Rei are also examples of this trope, with the former being a Fiery Redhead and the latter a Shy Blue-Haired Girl.
  • A Cruel God Reigns has Jeremy and Ian, the two protagonists who eventually end up in a relationship. Jeremy has very curly, shorter, black hair while Ian has blonde, stick-straight, long hair. Jeremy, who for the first half of the series is sexually and physically abused his stepfather and Ian's father, and falls into a pit of post traumatic stress disorder, prostitution and drug addiction is the darker of the two. Ian, who is free spirited and has trouble accepting the fact that his father abused his stepbrother, is the lighter of the pair. The two also fall under the One Head Taller rule: Ian is over 6 ft while Jeremy appears to be around 5'5"-5'7".
    • This trope is played with in the later chapters of the manga, as Ian becomes less innocent, thus making it hard to tell who's "dark" and who's "light" personality-wise.
  • Attack on Titan loves this one.
  • FAKE partners light-haired Nice Guy Ryo with dark-haired Dee, the biggest, brashest and most temperamental cowboy in a whole precinct of Cowboy Cops.
  • Kill la Kill has Genki Girl Mako Mankanshoku, with a neat brown bob cut, and Hot-Blooded Delinquent Ryuko Matoi, who has spiky black hair with red highlights. To a lesser extent, there's also Nonon Jakuzure and Satsuki Kiryuin.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has many examples, especially since there are Plenty of Blondes. However, they are most often reversed;
    • Germany and Italy embody this. Germany is a blond, Italy is a brunet, they are total opposites. Germany is a serious workaholic who always follows the rules, Italy is carefree and lazy, Germany is emotionally repressed, Italy is very emotionally open, Germany is tall, muscular and very masculine, Italy is effeminate and get the idea. They are a near Official Couple, confirmed to be at least one-sided on Germany's part. This Phenotype Stereotype has been lampshaded many times, such as a reference to the painting Italia and Germania, where the personification of Germany is depicted as an intelligent blonde, and Italy is depicted as a cheerful brunette.
    • England, a blond snarky tsundere wannabe-gentleman, and Japan, a male equivalent of a Yamato Nadeshiko.
    • Prussia, a white-haired Hot-Blooded jerkass with tremendous military experience and ability, and Austria, a dark-haired Princely Young Man Non-Action Guy.
    • Poland, a Cloud Cuckoo Lander Dumb Blond (most of the time) who often behaves like a Spoiled Brat, and Lithuania, a humble, painfully kind and patient Brainy Brunet who's even more serious than Germany.
  • In Sei Juushi Bismarck, as well in its Macekred Gag Dub version Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, there're Shinji Hikari/Colt and Richard Lancelot/Saber Rider, which are friends and one of them is The Protagonist and the other is The Lancer, depends on the version you know.
  • Bungou Stray Dogs has a few examples:
    • Brunette, manipulative, and suicidal Dazai and his ADA partner, blond, idealistic, rule-abiding Kunikida.
    • Silver-haired optimist Atsushi and his Mafia counterpart, black-haired pessimist Akutagawa.
    • Atsushi could also be paired with Dazai here, as well as with the quiet and stoic Kyouka.
    • Dazai and his former partner, Chuya, a Fiery Redhead who wears his heart on his sleeve and cares too much about his subordinates, as opposed to Dazai's more closely-guarded emotions and detached nature.
    • The leaders of the Armed Detective Agency and the Port Mafia, kind-hearted silver-haired Fukuzawa and Chessmaster black-haired Mori.
    • The duo of mysterious and quiet Lovecraft (deep blue hair) and apparently cheerful Steinbeck.
  • Used in Haikyuu!! to highlight Foils:
    • Exuberant, inexperienced, friendly Hinata has orange hair, while aloof, prodigious, bad-tempered but otherwise collected Kageyama has black hair. These are notably the Karasuno team colors.
    • Team Dad captain Daichi has brown hair, while Team Mom vice-captain Suga has ash-blonde hair.
    • Managers Yachi (blonde) and Shimizu (brunette) form a Light Feminine Dark Feminine pair.
    • Stoic, demotivated Tsukishima is blonde, while his more personable childhood friend and constant companion Yamaguchi has dark hair.
    • Takeda (their dark-haired faculty adviser) and Ukai (their blonde coach) are a Sensitive Guy and Manly Man duo.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid:
  • Subverted in I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying. Kaoru and Hajime appear to have blonde and black hair respectively, but Kaoru actually dyes her hair (her natural color being a very dark blue).
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Wimpy nice guy protagonist Midoriya has dark, green-tinged Messy Hair, while his foil, the hot-tempered, asocial Bakugo, has light blond Shonen Hair.
    • The lazy, slovenly black-haired Aizawa to his old friend, the upbeat and energetic blond Present Mic, as well as the heroically blond All Might, with whom Aizawa forms a The Cowl / The Cape contrast.
    • Deadpan Snarker Jirou has dark hair, while her vitriolic best bud, the overall sillier Kaminari, has spiky blond hair.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War does the standard couple contrast with Kaguya (black), and Shirogane (blond). They also have contrasting red and blue eyes.

     Comic Books 

     Fan Works 
  • Bruce and Thomas Elliot in Batman: Melody for a Mockingbird are a hero/villain example that plays with the dynamics: Raven-haired Bruce is an altruistic hero under a troubled, sullen outer shell, while Elliot has golden blond hair, but the outward charm and friendliness is a Mask of Sanity hiding his true, monstrous nature. The latter contradicts the comics, where Elliot is an Evil Redhead.

     Film — Live-Action 
  • Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
    • Troubled, self-doubting Frodo (brunette) and upeat, down-to-earth Sam (blonde).
    • Cool and elegant Legolas (blond), and an aggressive and hot-tempered Gimli (redhead).
  • Scream (1996): Sidney (cynical and troubled brunette) and Tatum (care-free and bubbly blonde). Both actresses are natural brunettes, but Tatum's actress went blonde specifically to create the contrast.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe contrasts brothers Thor as the "good blond" and Loki as the "bad brunet".
  • Dark-haired, brooding Adam is contrasted with his blonde, optimistic wife, Eve, in Only Lovers Left Alive. Yin-yang symbolism is everywhere in this movie.
  • Peter Weir's classic Aussie war flick Gallipoli has the typical personality types in blond idealistic Archie (Mark Lee) and the more cynical Frank (Mel Gibson). NB: If you haven't seen this movie before, bring tissues!
  • The two rivalling main characters of The Legend of Frenchie King are the blonde Louise and the brunette Maria. Louise is coolheaded and sophisticated, while Maria is rough and hot-tempered.
  • A Knight's Tale has the heroic idealistic William as a blond, contrasted with the cynical villainous Ademar as a brunet.
  • Cinderella2015 contrast the good-hearted and idealistic Ella (blonde) with the cruel and cynical Lady Tremaine (redhead). To further this contrast, Ella's saintly biological mother and Fairy Godmother are both blondes too.
  • The Disney film version of Pollyanna. Pollyanna is positive and blonde, while Aunt Polly is cold and brunette. Notably light-haired characters - Nancy and Tilly - defrost quicker than darker haired characters - Angelica, Mrs Snow.
  • The Sound of Music the free-spirited Maria is a blonde while the broken and detached Captain is a brunet.
  • There's Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon which has his rival incarned by Chuck Norris, one of the most known rivalries in martial arts films history.

  • Literature/The Heroes of Olympus has Will and Nico
  • In The Time of the Reaper by A.J. Butcher, Jessica and Mel are another lesbian couple example.
  • Thais (bronze-skinned Brainy Brunette of Cretan origins) and Aegesichore (fair-skinned blonde from Sparta) from Thaïs of Athens. Despite lots of Les Yay between them, they are really Just Friends, though.
  • Kind, gentle, peaceful Peeta (blond) and moody, brooding, unsociable Katniss (dark haired) in The Hunger Games.
  • Francis and Ross Poldark in both the Poldark book series and the show Poldark based on them. Their mutual aunt Agatha calls them "the Dark Poldark and the Fair Poldark" with dark-haired Ross as a broody Byronic Hero and light-haired Francis as his weak willed cousin with self confidence issues.

     Live-Action TV 


     Video Games 

     Visual Novels 
  • Sono Hanabira Ni Kuchizuke Wo:
  • Akai Ito: Uzuki and Kei -or- Yumei and Kei.
  • Aoi Shiro: Syoko and Nami -or- Syouko and Migiwa.

     Web Animation 
  • Blake and Weiss of RWBY, though both of them are Huntresses, therefore on the side of good. While Weiss isn't exactly altruistic (at least not at first) and is reluctant to help those that she feels don't deserve help, she is law-abiding to a fault, comes from a wealthy family, and by-the-book. Blake is anti-social, broody, pragmatic, world-weary, and used to be part of a criminal organization, though they do have their reasons for attacking people. In the final two episodes of the first season, they get into an argument about the White Fang's intentions, which culminates in Blake running away from her team.

     Web Comics 
  • Penny and Aggie.
  • Grey is... inverts this. Black with his rash personality and quick temper has white hair while calm introspective White has black hair.
  • The Kids in Homestuck.
  • Mias and Elle from Mias and Elle are the typical examples of this trope. Mias is the "dark" (dark skin, black-hair) lecherous "bad boy" and Elle is the "light" (pale skinned, blonde haired) "good girl" he kidnaps, but it remains to be seen if they'll become a couple.

     Web Original 
  • The Runaway Guys invert this with two of their members. Chugga, the cheerful and energetic one, has dark brown hair, while the more irritable and snarky Jon has blond hair.

     Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Hair Contrast Couple