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Hairstyle Malfunction

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The Distaff Counterpart to Fake-Hair Drama/Dodgy Toupee. Because bald women are comparatively rare, you know that if a woman is bald then there's obviously something not right and she'll likely try to hide this lack of hair with a wig. Whatever wig she's chosen is apparently very flimsy as it'll inevitably get ripped off, exposing her naked head to the world. She will shriek in embarrassment and try to cover it up while the person who ripped off the wig will apologise endlessly. This is always Played for Laughs and the woman will typically be just a random extra or if she's a developed character, she'll be a nasty person so this wig reveal is her getting some kind of comeuppance. The woman doesn't actually have to be bald as the wig could just be covering up a bad dye job or the woman just felt like wearing a wig for some reason. Another variation can include a girl wearing hair extensions to get them ripped out. See also Gag Haircut. Compare Mistaken for Fake Hair.


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    Comic Books 
  • Happens to the school teacher Miss Grundy in Archie Comics. In another issue, it happened to Veronica, who wasn't bald but had gotten a new haircut she wasn't happy with and proceeded to get a wig made to look like her old style.
  • In Batman: Dark Victory, Sofia Gigante pulls off her wig to embarrass Batman for accusing her, a wheelchair user due to an accident, of aiding a crime. She doesn't need the wheelchair at all, and the baldness and wheelchair is largely to give her an alibi.
  • The modern Batwoman, Kate Kane, has short red hair but wears a long red wig to help disguise her identity. At one point the villain Alice tries to grab her By the Hair and is quite surprised to pull off the wig instead, allowing Kate to escape.

    Film — Animated 
  • Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove is enraged when Kronk enters her tent at night and finds out she's bald.
  • In Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World ,during the "What A Day In London" musical number, one random woman sings [about Pocahontas] "I wish I had her hair" just as someone behind her with a mop accidentally lifts her wig off.
  • Rapunzel in Shrek the Third is revealed to be bald when the Gingerbread Man uses her hair as a bungee cord.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Happens in the ballroom scene in Don't Lose Your Head.
  • Louise in House Arrest wears a hairpiece that accidentally gets pulled off by one of the other moms. Her hair isn't that much shorter so she goes without it for the rest of the film.
  • In Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession, when Bunsha's wife goes crazy, she suddenly takes off her wig and we find out that she's not quite bald, but has a really short cut.
  • In James and the Giant Peach, as part of their Humiliation Conga at the end, Aunt Sponge and Spiker's red wigs come falling off, revealing their actual hair to be short, grey, and partially balding.
  • Benny in Kopps is revealed to have a toupee during the car chase towards the end.
  • The Party - during a sit-down dinner, Bakshi is trying to cut into his cornish hen, and in the struggle it flies off his plate and lodges, unnoticed, onto a posh woman's tiara. Horrified, Bakshi whispers the situation to the waiter, who by this point is staggering drunk - he discreetly weaves his way to the woman and pulls the hen off - along with the tiara and hairpiece she's wearing.
  • Valley of the Dolls has a famous catfight which climaxes with Neely tearing Helen's wig off her head. She looks at it with shock for a second, then runs to the nearest toilet and flushes it.
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, Mrs Dribb is exposed as a member of the Egyptian cult when Elizabeth's dog Uncus bites her wig and pulls it off; exposing her bald head.

  • Forest Kingdom: During the first chapter of Beyond the Blue Moon, Hawk and Fisher discover that their fellow guard Mistique is bald and hiding it under a wig when a zombie grabs hold of said wig and accidentally pulls it off. Mistique does not appreciate having her baldness exposed and violently takes out her anger on the zombie in retaliation.
  • Harry Potter refers to an embarrassing incident when he was in primary school and turned his teacher's wig blue by accident.
  • An example in the 1970s young adult novel The Prince of Central Park is, unusually for the trope, not Played for Laughs. Protagonist Jay-Jay is subjected to another bout of his abusive foster mother's anger, when she returns home having failed to pick up a guy at a bar. She then passes out drunk, and he quickly gathers up his things to run away. In order to make it impossible for himself to return, he pulls off her blonde wig and rips it to pieces, scattering the locks around her unconscious body. (She wears wigs just for easy hair color changes, not because she's bald, but it's still this trope because he does it to humiliate her.)
  • In The Princess Bride, a potential bride for Prince Humperdinck visits, bringing along her hugely famous collection of hats. Unfortunately for her, a breeze blows through the castle while she's there, her hat comes off to reveal her (heretofore hidden) baldness, and Humperdinck is ready to go to war with her country because of the embarrassment he suffered seeing her.note 

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Brothers García, Lorenna gets to meet her favourite actress, but said actress is a complete diva and insults her whole family. Lorenna throws a head of lettuce at the actress and ends up knocking her wig off. The actress's co-star has this to say:
    Actor: (sternly) Little girl, come here.
    Lorenna sheepishly comes over to him.
    Actor: I've wanted to do that for so many years. You've finally put that wicked wicked woman in her place.
    Assistant: She's not a very nice person.
  • Variation: an episode of Family Matters had Laura ordering shady shampoo from out of the back of a magazine. The next morning, she, Harriette, Rachel and Estelle have all gone bald. Rachel reads the back of the bottle — "You'll love how your hair comes out!" Naturally, Carl, Eddie and even Richie can't help but crack a few jokes.
  • An episode of Kenan & Kel had a rat loose in Rigby's and Kel found it crawling around in a woman's hair. He goes to grab it... and reveals she's wearing a wig.
  • Happened in an episode of Misfits to Kelly, who'd run afoul of a person whose power was to remove the hair of people around her when she was upset. Kelly had been wearing a hat and a bad wig, which got knocked off.
  • During a Cat Fight in a club in Raw JoJo accidentally rips a girl's extensions out, adding insult to injury for unknowingly making out with her boyfriend.
  • It's practically a given for almost all of the Drag Queen contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race to employ wigs liberally, but they have a habit of falling off at exactly the wrong time, especially when two queens have to Lip Sync For Their Lives.
  • A variation is seen in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, when molecular instability causes Sabrina's ponytail to come off. She explains it away as extensions coming loose.
  • Happens twice in an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody where Mr. Moseby knocks the same woman's wig off by accidentally hitting her with a pillow. She's wearing a different wig the second time and turns around to exclaim, "You again!"

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Molly Holly had her head shaved at WrestleMania XX and wore a wig for the next several months. There was a Running Gag of her losing matches when the wig would get ripped off, embarrassing her.
  • Natalya and Alicia Fox currently seem to love doing this to each other. Alicia first ripped a chunk out of Natalya's weave in a match on Raw. Six months later Nattie returned the favour on Superstars and she did it again in another match. Alicia got her revenge a few weeks later. In that case the malfunction helped her win the match.

    Video Games 
  • Ollo in The Sunny Valley Fair has a (possibly) male example. Blimpo the Clown is incredibly embarrassed when his wig falls off. Helping him find it is one of the game's objectives.

    Web Animation 
  • A Day With Bowser Jr: In Two Koopas for a throne (part 3), Ludwig drinks up a magic healing potion despite Kamek's warning of its nasty side-effects if taken in a hurry. The result is a ridiculous new blonde hairstyle.
  • Happy Tree Friends: In "Wipe Out", after Surfer Dude Lumpy gets his arms cut off when juggling chainsaws while surfing, his blonde mullet (actually a wig) flies off, much to his embarrassment. Of course, this ends up becoming the least of his problems...

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, Hayley's head had been shaved by Stan, and while she's working as a pole dancer her wig accidentally comes off, provoking cries of revulsion from the crowd saying "that's the only place you want them to have hair!"
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Casey Bats Again: When he steps up to the plate disguised as Patsy, Casey's wig falls over his eyes during the first pitch, which gets him his first strike.
  • Happened in an episode of Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) to a one-off crook working with Willy.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: The main plot of "Hair Apparent" is that a parks and recs manager lost his toupee and the Penguins are trying to get it back.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): "The Mane Event" had Bubbles and Buttercup accidentally ripping off a tuft of Blossom's hair from the back. In trying to fix it, they wind up lopping off Blossom's hair almost completely.
  • Rugrats:
    • An episode had a news reporter who the others kept referring to as "the one with the hair". When an avalanche of rubbish pours out from the garage, the force of it knocks the reporter's wig off on live TV.
    • Inverted when Tommy and Chuckie are horrified to find out that Aunt Miriam wears a wig (they think she's an alien). She, however, isn't bothered by them seeing her without it.
  • Hogatha in The Smurfs (1981) constantly wears a wig. In the episode "Smurfette's Golden Tresses", she wears a blond beehive wig on her date with Lizardo, only for the beehive to attract a swarm of bees that forced her to jump into the pond, where she lost her wig and her date.

    Real Life