Follow TV Tropes


Important Haircut

Go To

Hitomi: Goodbye, old me.
SFX: SNIP snip snip snip snip
Hitomi: Hello, new beginnings.

When a character cuts off their hair, it often symbolizes a rite of passage or bout of character growth. A princess striking out on an adventure, or a new recruit at boot camp, for instance. Parting with it voluntarily can be greatly symbolic.

This is particularly a big deal when women get haircuts because their long hair takes a lot of time to grow and Long Hair Is Feminine, doubly so if the new haircut is completely shaven or bald. Yet in fiction, even an accidental hair slicing can leave a character with a surprisingly even cut.

In many religions (Western Christianity, Ancient Egyptian religion, and others) priests and/or monks cut/shave their hair. Roman Catholic nuns also tend to cut and maintain their hair short under their veils when they enter the nunneries. The cutting of one's own hair is also a part of Buddhism, specifically something done by Siddhartha himself early on in his path to enlightenment, so anime examples might draw from this as an allusion. There are also some cultures, including Native American and many Asian ones, where a person would cut his or her hair as an act of grief, disgrace, or even rebellion. In the Confucian tradition, hair (like the rest of your body) is considered a gift from your parents and may not be damaged without a good reason. Furthermore, prisoners and psychiatric patients commonly have their heads shaved, often to prevent the spread of lice, but sometimes also as a demeaning measure.

Having the head shaved can be a punishment prescribed in law, but also something done as "mob justice". An infamous example of this was the thousands of European women who had their heads shaved in front of cheering crowds in the wake of World War II, in particular by the communist groups in France, as punishment for associating with occupying Germans during the war.

However, an important haircut can also be positive, such as changing one's style after a breakup or overcoming the fear of hair loss by just shaving it off.

The opposite of a Hair Reboot. If it comes after a Heel–Face Turn may result in switching their Good Hair, Evil Hair around. May also occur after or during a Close-Call Haircut. If it's involuntary, it's likely a Traumatic Haircut (though it can also be concurrent if it also involves an important change to the character). If the hair is changed in order to show a change in characterization, this may also be an Expository Hairstyle Change.

See also Beard of Sorrow, Dye or Die, and Fanservice Pack. The new haircut is sometimes Power Hair.


    open/close all folders 

  • This Taco Bell ad centers around a man who looks like he was pulled from The '80s. Upon discovering the waffle taco, he updates his entire image. One of the things he does is have his hair cut to a shorter style.


    Fan Works 
  • In the Kim Possible fanfic Broken Heart, Broken Mind, a resurrected Eric arranged to swap Kim's headache medication with a powerful mood-altering drug, prompting her to bitterly denounce Ron (less than a month before their planned wedding, no less), and then attempt suicide. While recovering from the drug's effects, Kim was forced to face the fact that what she said while under the influence hurt Ron deeply, and that she had taken him for granted all too often in the past. Later, Kim and Ron face Eric's army of android clones of Kim. Prepping for the battle, Kim asked Ron to cut her hair short with the Lotus Blade. In this case, the Important Hair Cut served two purposes: the traditional transformation from "old Kim" to "new Kim" as Kim acknowledged how she had taken Ron for granted, and also the more practical purpose of allowing Ron to tell the real Kim from the Kim-bots, so he wouldn't kill her by accident while slashing robots.
  • Sachiko from Danganronpa 52: Despair From the Heart cuts her hair short after the fourth case, where her Love Interest Haruto died.
  • Hunter from The Dusk Guard Saga cuts his mane back to its previous length, from before his fiancee died, when he decides to join the Dusk Guard, symbolizing him finally getting over her death.
  • In The Fourth Apprentice, Sarutobi makes Sakura do this earlier than canon, and justifies it by showing how an enemy can grab and use it against her due to its length. It also goes to show that Sakura no longer cares about her looks and figure as she becomes more focused on her training.
  • Yuuka Kazami symbolizes the End of an Age in Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness. Unlike Reimu, Marisa, and Alice, who have all undergone major changes in their lives and appearances since the days of Touhou's PC-98 games, Yuuka kept her original looks from that period, including a full head of long hair. Towards the end of the story, she takes note of the increasing number of powerful figures who've been making their presence known in Gensokyo and decides to get with the times, starting with her hair. With that decision, the PC-98 era is over at long last.
  • Grojband fans have believed Laney Penn was originally openly feminine with long hair. But when she joined the band, she changed her look drastically to look more like a boy, even having her hair cut shorter.
  • I Think We'll Be Okay: Kosuke starts off as an incredibly lazy couch potato whose lack of commitment to anything strains her relationship with her family, friend, and boyfriend. Following the deaths of her parents, however, she steps up like her siblings' caretaker and becomes a much more mature and committed person. Before this, her hair was long and dyed red, but to help calm her brother down during a haircut, she has it cut short and dyed back to her natural blonde.
  • In I Will Remember You, Odd Della Robbia gets one of these, and the sight of it inspires a moment of genuine shock from Reese.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe Cerise has traveled throughout the train with her long red hair flowing free — because the scrunchie that kept her braid together got blown off when the train arrived to pick her up — which ends up getting her trouble when the Organ Man grabs it and is about to chop her head off. However, Chloe has a paper bracelet Lexi gifted her, and he uses his paper powers to fold it into a knife to cut it. Not only does it save her life, but this is also coming off the heels after a horrific series of events in regards to the Unown back in Vermillion City and the realization that Chloe herself needs to change. The next car Chloe enters has her hair styled into side-swept waves and dyed with blue streaks, signaling that she's ready to make the effort to change and go home.
    • In the alternate timeline fic, Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus, Chloe also gets her hair cut, but this time she's in the Fashion Runway Car as an act to defy how she was chosen to be Lady Destiny for the Cage of Flauros Ritual (as Lady Destiny was depicted as a girl with "long red flowing hair and a white dress").
  • Done to Ringo by the Guardians in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World; they cut his ponytail off and gave him a buzzcut to symbolize that he's becoming one of them. After John rescues him, he eventually has his hair regrown to reassert his separation from the Guardians.
  • Out Of Luck has Lynn do this by undoing her ponytail. This is done out of shame as it was her actions and belief in so-called luck that cost her everything: her family, her brother, her popularity, her honour and her pride. Her ponytail was a symbol of how arrogant she became and the result of said pride.
    "Lynn stared at herself in the mirror that hung above the sink in her cold cell. For the first time, her reflection brought her no comfort, no pride. Instead she saw a miserable shell of her former self. A foolish child who believed she had been chosen by gods who existed only in her mind and that the entire world revolved around her.
    With each passing week, Lynn felt a part of herself die. To symbolize this, she undid her ponytail she once wore with pride and let all her hair hang loose."
  • RWBY: Scars:
    • Pyrrha cuts her hair similarly to Jaune's after the Fall of Beacon and Jaune's Heroic Sacrifice. This goes along with her characterization change into a darker, more cynical person.
    • Weiss cuts off her ponytail during Volume 4 as a sign of her recovering from her depression, separating from her family, and becoming her own person.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire canon, Theon Greyjoy suffers Disease Bleach after a year of Cold-Blooded Torture. In the fanfic Safe Anchorage, his hair starts growing darker during his recovery, and Jeyne helps him cut the white away.
  • Asuka reluctantly has Shinji trim her hair down to shoulder-length or so in one post-3rd Impact chapter of The Second Try, because baby Aki keeps grabbing handfuls of it and yanking painfully.
  • Hermione gets one in Those Gilded Chains We Wear after she breaks up with Ron.
  • The Sailor Moon fanfiction War Games makes this the final step of Queen Beryl's Heel–Face Turn, doing it on the pier before throwing her cut strands towards the water.
  • Total Drama Legacy: After Lydia's secret gets revealed and Emilia gets beaten up by Storm in "A Shocking Twist", Emilia decides to get serious and get mean. To symbolize her newfound drive, she cuts off her long braid, leaving her with shorter hair.
  • In the Ranma ½ fic Girls Before Swine, Akane's unintentional bobbing is similar to canon in that it represents a cessation of her attempts to be like Kasumi. In this case, however, it also represents her accepting that she's a lesbian.
  • In the Ace Attorney fanfic a study of the butterfly effect, Maya cutting her long hair symbolizes her growing away from the Fey clan and planning her own path in life.
  • In Danganronpa Class Switch, Tenko cuts her pigtails off in order to symbolize getting over Angie's death.
  • In The Parliament of Heroes, during the 11th A Summer Job snippet, Rose requests a haircut from Mabel and Pacifica, changing her long hair to a pixiecut to reflect her newfound life and freedom away from Slade.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Breadwinner: Parvana cuts her hair short to pass as a boy, so she can earn money for her family. They are living under the rule of the Taliban, which orders women to be submissive.
  • Isle of Dogs has Atari giving Chief a bath and grooming him after they start to bond. When Chief's fur gets cleaned, Atari realizes that underneath what appeared to be Chief's black fur, he turns out to have white fur and black spots just like his own dog Spots. It comes around full circle when it's confirmed that Chief and Spots are actually long-lost brothers.
  • In Mulan (pictured above), the title character cuts her hair off with a sword in a half-practical (making her upcoming Sweet Polly Oliver charade easier), half-symbolic (breaking off with her past) move. Also, Chinese adults traditionally were forbidden from cutting their hair, as there would be no proof that they got parental permission; making this an even more daring move on Mulan's part.
  • This happens in Tangled when Flynn cuts Rapunzel's hair as she is about to heal him, intending to free her from captivity. In the process, he causes her hair to lose its magic powers, thereby revoking Mother Gothel's immortality and having her go through Rapid Aging to the point of death.

  • A little bit more literally: There has been a strange trend of hair growth among the leaders of Russia. It serves, among other things, as a mnemonic aid to Russian pupils to list the leaders of Russia. In fact, according to the Wikipedia article, this trend goes as far back as Tsarist Russia 1825:
    • Nicholas I: No hair.
    • Alexander II: Hair.
    • Alexander III: No hair.
    • Nicholas II: Hair.
    • Georgy Lvov: No hair.
    • Alexander Kerensky: Hair. (Russian Republic)
    • Vladimir Ilich Ulianov aka Lenin: No Hair. (Soviet Union)
    • Iosif Stalin: Hair.
    • Nikita Khrushchev: No Hair.
    • Leonid Brezhnev: Hair.
    • Yuri Andropov: No Hair.
    • Konstantin Chernenko: Hair.
    • Mikhail Gorbachev: No Hair.
    • Boris Yeltsin: Hair. (Russian Federation)
    • Vladimir Putin: No Hair.
    • Dmitri Medvedev: Hair.
    • Vladimir Putin: No Hair.

  • Metallica experienced a backlash from their fans when they cut their hair prior to the release of 1996's Load (after a pyrotechnics accident forced James Hetfield to cut his, possibly out of solidarity). Guitarist Kirk Hammett has stated that "Metallica is all about music, not the length of our hair." During Alice in Chains' MTV Unplugged performance (which Metallica attended), bassist Mike Inez wrote on his bass guitar, "Friends Don't Let Friends Get Friends Haircuts..." However, the line was in fact just a Friends reference and the relation with Metallica's new haircuts was coincidental.
  • Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley cut his signature dreadlocks around the time he started using heroin.
  • Skinny Puppy keyboardist Dwayne Goettel traded his Wild Hair for a buzz cut when he began using heroin.
  • Garbage singer Shirley Manson cut her trademark red hair short and dyed it blonde after splitting from her husband in 2001.
  • Alanis Morissette was known for her waist-length brown hair and shocked the world when she cut it short, recreating the chop in her video for "Everything". She has since reverted back to her normal hairstyle.
  • Amy Lee gives herself one in the video for "Everybody's Fool".
  • AOA has a song called "Short Hair", which is mostly about getting a makeover and haircut after moving on from a previous relationship.
  • Justin Bieber wore his world-famous longer hairstyle most of his life after he hit his teens, which won over countless fans aside from his catchy (if hated by many, if not most) musics. In February 2011, coincidentally only a few days before his 17th birthday, he cut his hair short. He said that the cut 'had a more mature look', and that he got it because 'it was time for a change'. Hilariously, his fangirls didn't like this at all.
  • The Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song "Almost Cut My Hair" concerns a hippie/counterculture type who nearly gets his hair cut to avoid being harassed by the cops, but ultimately changes his mind and decides to be true to himself by "letting my freak flag fly".
  • Invoked by many black rappers and a few R&B artists that were known to sport cornrows. It's usually a sign that their music is about to take a more mature, down-to-earth, and mainstream-friendly turn.
  • Given the fact that a girl cutting her hair after a break-up is a centuries-old real-life tradition in Japan, important haircuts feature prominently in Japanese pop music. A particularly obvious example is "Kanojo ga kami wo kitta you" ("The Reason She Cut Her Hair") by Watanabe Misato.
  • "Straight Lines" by Suzanne Vega is about one of these. Unless it's not.
  • The character in P!nk's F ckin' Perfect video gives herself a haircut before she pulls her life together.
  • An inversion: Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics grew out her trademark mohawk upon the release of her solo album, choosing instead to wear it long.
  • Katy Perry's character in her song "Part of Me" after breaking up with her cheating boyfriend cuts her hair short and joins the Marines.
    • In 2017, Perry did actually cut her hair after reverting back to being a blonde (since she wasn't a naturally raven-haired) with a Boyish Short Hair do.
  • Rihanna had long, wavy hair when she first debuted. When ''Good Girl Gone Bad'' came out, with it came a much shorter, sleeker, darker 'do. Since then, she's changed up her hair fairly frequently (including back to long and wavy on occasion), but the image change certainly stuck.
  • Inverted by Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, who grew out his hair and grew a beard to go along with the rawer Grunge-influenced Songs of Faith and Devotion album. Played completely straight when he cut his hair and shaved off his beard after quitting heroin.
  • My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way got one shortly before the release of The Black Parade in 2006 when he cut and bleached his distinctive jet black mane. note  At the time, The Black Parade (an epic rock opera inspired by Pink Floyd's The Wall) was considered a fairly radical step forward for Way and the rest of My Chemical Romance, who had garnered solid reviews for their music up to that point but found it difficult to dissociate themselves from the teenage Emo subculture that made up a sizable chunk of their fan base. By contrast, The Black Parade was widely praised by music critics for its mature, nuanced sound, and it scored the band real mainstream attention for the first time in their career. Way's haircut can be seen as part of his effort to distance himself from the Emo scene and appeal to a wide audience.
  • Jana Hunter's hair as a freak-folk artist has generally been longish and shaggy, often in her eyes. It's much shorter when she fronts Lower Dens.
  • Jon Bon Jovi cut his long curly hair when Bon Jovi moved into more serious territory musically with Keep The Faith at the start of The '90s.
  • Lenny Kravitz cut off his iconic dreads during the 5 era and sported a short afro (though he straightened his hair during the Baptism era) until the late 2010s when he brought back the dreads.
  • In the Kelly Clarkson song "Heartbeat" one of the actresses cuts her hair in the bathroom after going through a bad breakup.
  • The Kenny Young and the Eggplants song Randolph Got a Haircut portrays this trope in an almost cosmic sense, crediting the titular coiffure with the end of structural unemployment and a resurgence of indie music, and improved climate.
  • Lady Gaga grew out her hair and cut off her distinctive bangs around 2010, right as she started to move away from the Synth-Pop sound of The Fame, and started to really show off her vocal range with Born This Way. Considering how heavily The Fame used synthesized sounds, she may have been going for a more "organic" hairstyle with the new look.
  • Ozzy Osbourne decided to shave his head and grew something similar to a military-style buzzcut after Randy Rhoads’ sudden passing in 1982.
  • In "Hooped Earrings" by The Front Bottoms, a lot of focus in the song is given to the narrator helping his friend cut her hair short against the wishes of her mother. This symbolizes the friend coming out as a lesbian.
  • Crops up a lot in beabadoobee's songs, where dying your hair is used as a symbol of becoming a new person and getting over a breakup.
  • Eminem:
    • In "My Darling", Slim persuades Marshall to cut his hair to the buzzed style he wore when he was first famous. He then tries to persuade him to bleach it back, but doesn't manage.
    • In "Walk on Water", Eminem observes his fading fame and washes out the blonde dye.
  • Most male K-Pop idols have to shave off their normally very styled hair at some point, due to Korea’s mandatory millitary service.
  • Doja Cat shaved her hair to a buzz cut in August 2022, in order to distance from her image as a pop rapper and had gotten tired of sporting her hair long.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Professional Wrestling uses the haircut as the ultimate insult, which means it is occasionally used as a way to resolve a dispute that has gone beyond It's Personal levels. In Mexico, it is especially considered a "statement victory" if you win with your hair (or mask) on the line, especially if your opponent has the same risk. This goes back to 1942 when El Enmascarado Rojo shaved Bobby Segura to pay him back for the luchadors whose masks he took. The winning luchador is typically implied to keep the masks and hairs he wins as trophies.
  • An accidental haircut turned Brutus Beefcake, one of wrestling's best mid-1980s heels, into a face. The incident in question happened during a six-man tag team match aired on WWF Superstars Of Wrestling (involving Beefcake, Greg Valentine and Adrian Adonis vs. Rick Martel, Tom Zenk and Lanny Poffo), where Adonis somehow confused Beefcake for one of their opponents and cut a lock of Beefcake's hair. Beefcake didn't take the incident well but continued as a heel until WrestleMania III when he officially made his Heel–Face Turn and assisted Roddy Piper in getting revenge on Adonis. From there, Beefcake became "the Barber" ... and from 1987-1990 one of the top stars of the WWF.
  • Jimmy Valiant during the 1986 Great American Bash tour. After defeating Shaska Whatley in a hair vs. hair match, Valiant won the right to face Shaska's manager, Paul Jones, in a match with the same stipulation. Shaska interfered to help Jones win exact revenge for his own head shaving. Afterward, a crowd of wrestlers tried to stop Valiant from going through with the head shaving, saying he could protest the finish to the NWA Board of Directors on the grounds of Shaska's interference. Valiant slammed a chair down in the middle of the ring, plopped himself down in it, and gritted his teeth while the deed was done.
  • Inverted with Sting. For his first ten years in wrestling, he had a dyed blond flattop. But in late 95, he stopped dying his hair and let it grow long before transforming into Crow-mode.
  • Molly Holly had been known as a blonde for the first few years of her career. After her Face–Heel Turn, she darkened it to brown and eventually cut it short. It was half-symbolic, to fit her new character. And it was also half-practical, as her hair had been fried by years of bleaching. Behind the scenes, bleaching the hair in the first place had been one too — she bleached it when she got to join WCW as Miss Madness, the blonde hair fitting her new gimmick of a pageant queen.
  • The Undertaker does this twice. Once when he became Big Evil and another when he is prepared to wrestle Triple H at WrestleMania 28, after his humiliating performance at WrestleMania 27''.
  • Kevin Nash lost a hair vs hair match and had his hair cut messily off by Wrestling/Chris Jericho and then tidied up off-screen. This was done as Nash had a role in the film The Punisher (2004) and needed to cut his hair.
  • John "Bradshaw" Layfield was known for having long black hair most of his career. Behind the scenes, when his stock investments went up and had to be on Wall Street more often, he cut his hair short and let it revert to his natural dark blond. WWE eventually used this as a way to bring in his JBL character.
  • Used in an angle with CM Punk where he began to form a society of straight edge people. He picked three people out of the audience and had them pledge allegiance to him before shaving their heads bald. One included a woman who actually got to join his stable on television.
  • One of TNA's most controversial moments had Roxxi Laveaux lose a match and have her head shaved as a consequence. While the shaving was going on the crowd chanted "Fire Russo" and Angelina Love and Velvet Sky picked up the hair and waved it in her face. Behind the scenes this was done so Love and Sky could get over as heels and Roxxi's hair was ruined from constant dying. What made it so controversial wasn't just that Laveaux had recently gotten over with the TNA fans as a face once they realized she could wrestle but the events leading up to her shaving had been incredibly convoluted.
  • Test and Christian were pressured by management into cutting their long hair short. Both of them used this trope as a way to explain the hairstyle change on TV. For Test, it was done as a business move by his girlfriend Stacy Keibler who insisted it would help his fanbase grow. Christian cut his hair short after winning the newly re-instated Intercontinental title.
  • Outside of the ring, it's a bit of a tradition for some male wrestlers are known for their long hair to cut it short once they retire. Edge gradually shortened his after retiring but went fully short before his Hall of Fame induction. Triple H shaved his head after his big loss to Brock Lesnar and transition to a character rolenote . Kevin Nash cut him off after his 2011 program with Triple H had ended (he let the haircut from the above example grow out almost immediately). Adam Rose had long hair well past his shoulders, but cut it all off as soon as he was granted his release.
  • On the Gender Flip side, it's a tradition for a WWE Diva to change her hair after leaving the company. Normally blonde Divas go brunette — Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix, Michelle McCoolnote , and Kelly Kellynote  and Emma are examples. Kaitlyn darkened her trademark two-tone hair to a simpler brunette look a couple of months before she left the company too. Mickie James stopped highlighting her hair after leaving WWE. Eve Torres, Candice Michelle, Brie Bella, and Melina opted for shorter haircuts when they retired too. (Candice's was for locks for love, though) Ivelisse Vélez turned her hair brown after getting released, claiming she had wanted to do it while in the company but they insisted she remains blonde. Summer Rae likewise went redhead.
  • Natalya Neidhart dyed her hair red in 2008. Behind the scenes, she did it because she felt there were too many blonde Divas already. On-screen, it coincided with her winning a chance to become the first Divas' Champion. She went back to blonde when she joined the Hart Dynasty — and added a pink streak in honor of the Hart family colors.
  • Bobby Roode cut his hair short after winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. This marked the transition from his previous Beer Money Inc character to a more serious top Heel.
  • This trope is often inverted by many WWE Divas, as getting weaves or hair extensions put in is a sign that they're about to be called up to a TV or used more prominentlynote . Sasha Banks had shoulder-length hair when she was signed, but long hair by the time she had debuted. Charlotte Flair initially had shoulder-length hair but put extensions in right before her NXT Women's Championship win. It would probably be easier to list the WWE Divas who haven't put them in at some point.
  • Matt Hardy also cut his hair notably shorter around the time he won the TNA Championship too, getting his first top heel push.
  • Attempted by Dolph Ziggler in 2011, where he cut his bleached blonde hair into a brunet buzzcut. But Word of God is that they realized it was a mistake immediately and re-bleached it as soon as it got long enough. He also reverted back to his previous cocky show-off persona.
  • Baron Corbin shaved his head bald when he was appointed Stephanie McMahon's 'Constable of Raw'.
  • Paige traded her long hair for a shoulder-length bob when she became Smackdown General Manager.
  • Bayley chops off her trademark ponytail in late 2019 when she made her official Face–Heel Turn. It's right before winning her fourth Women's title, too.
  • Daniel Bryan had his long hair and beard trimmed during his tenure as SmackDown General Manager, though they grew to their familiar length by the time he got back into action. At the very end of 2019, he reverts to the hairstyle he originally had in his early career, which was an accident made during a Traumatic Haircut segment where they cut off too much and had to even it out.

  • Many religions have prohibitions or rules in regards to hair. The most famous example is probably the Biblical Samson (Book of Judges), whose parents were visited by an angel who allowed his barren mother to become pregnant if she would abstain from unclean meat and alcohol and never cut the child's hair or shave him. This essentially constituted a pre-natal initiation into a Jewish ascetic cult, and this super out-of-proportion before-birth devotion granted Samson the mystical power of invincible strength, allowing him to become one of the judges who were leaders of Israel. The major part of his story is a negative Important Haircut that eventually results in his blindness and death, making even the inversion of this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • The Bible, Isaiah 15: Hair is shaved as a mourning rite.
    Ah, in the night Ar was sacked, Moab was ruined;
    Ah, in the night Kir was sacked, Moab was ruined.
    He went up to the temple to weep, Dibon [went] to the outdoor shrines.
    Over Nebo and Medeba Moab is wailing;
    On every head is baldness, every beard is shorn.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dwarfs in the world of Warhammer who fail to fulfill an oath or become similarly dishonored seek death on the battlefield, joining the Slayer cult. This is done by discarding any armor, dyeing their hair orange (in honor of the first Slayer), hacking it into a mohawk (not explained), and finding the nastiest enemy they can. Dwarfs being dwarfs, don't expect them to throw the match.

  • In Alcestis, Admetus orders all in Thessaly to cut their hair in mourning for Alcestis.
  • In the Chicago preview version of the Addams Family musical, the opening number is a coming-of-age ceremony for Wednesday that involves this. When the song was replaced with "When You're an Addams", the character's tie-in Twitter suggested that her Expository Hairstyle Change was the self-inflicted result of emotional turmoil about her attraction to Lucas.
  • In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick shaves his beard after realizing that he is in love with Beatrice. When Claudio and Don Pedro see his clean-shaven face, they rib him mercilessly about it. Many productions skip this sequence, but Joss Whedon's movie version includes it to great effect.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed III, Connor goes through one late in the story, using a knife to shave off most of his long hair into a short mohawk, and permanently leaving his hood down.
  • In Avengers Academy, Maria Hill's hair gets progressively shorter as she ranks up.
  • In BioShock Infinite, Elizabeth cuts off her ponytail after killing Daisy Fitzroy.
  • In Disco Elysium, it's possible to shave off the Player Character's huge mustache and mutton chops. While the game does not explicitly say anything about the significance of this, and mostly leaves it up to the player to decide what is, it is easy to read it as the Player Character making a deliberate break with the past. The player character isn't quite sure that shaving is the right call after doing it, but thinks he might look younger (along the lines of a Thought elsewhere in the game that allows the player character to figure out that, since he's only 44, he still has time left to recover from his nihilistic alcoholism). The player character remarks that his look now seems like "a normal cop", and if the player asks Kim to comment on his new look, he says the player character should have kept the beard because it covered up more of the damage, which implies it's an attempt to drop his Mask of being a hedonistic Disco party animal, and be honest to himself about what he is, the job he has to do and what he's done to his body and brain.
  • Referenced in Dragon Age: Origins, when Marjolaine comments that Leliana cut her hair "like a boy" after escaping from Orlais
  • In Final Fantasy IX, Princess Garnet goes into a period of mourning after her coronation as Queen of Alexandria is interrupted by an invasive attack by the Big Bad — a piece of unfinished business she left hanging when she went home to assume the throne. Eventually, she learns to put the incident, and her sense of shame over it, behind her. As an expression of her newfound devotion to give her all to finding and stopping the Big Bad, for her people and for every kingdom in the world, she borrows one of Zidane's daggers — which have a previously established significance in her sense of identitynote  — and uses it to give herself an Important Haircut. In a slight twist, her hair has grown back to its original length by the end of the game, although the symbolic weight of the Important Haircut doesn't seem to be diminished by it (and the long hair would likely be more appropriate for The High Queen she becomes).
  • Used in Fire Emblem at least thrice:
    • A conditional example appears in Fire Emblem Gaiden: Should her lover Zeke fall in battle, the priestess Tatiana will cut her hair short as a means of expressing her overwhelming grief. In the remake, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Tatiana does not cut her hair but instead locks herself in a monastery for a while.
    • A weird retroactive version of this trope occurs between Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade and Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade with Karel. In the prequel, The Blazing Blade, he's a Blood Knight with hair down to his waist. In The Binding Blade, he has short hair and deeply regrets the way he used to act.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn puts a twist: Lucia being given a Traumatic Haircut and barely averting being hanged marks a significant turning point for Elincia,
  • Cutting off a strand of one's hair is part of the Schattenjä ger initiation ritual in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, and Gabriel hates it.
  • After getting into a car accident with Miki Hoshii in THE iDOLM@STER, she vows not to take things lightly ever again, and then she asks the player if he likes short-haired girls. The next week she comes in with short, un-dyed hair. Her personality also changes, making her more strong-willed and hard-working. She also seems to be madly in love with the producer, calling him "Honey."
  • Jak and Daxter: Jak spends the entirety of the second game as a Long-Haired Pretty Boy. Come the third, he cuts his hair short, so that he can survive in the desert.
  • Jeanne d'Arc in... well, Jeanne d'Arc when she decides to pursue the Englishmen and join the army.
  • Posha Saint-Amour cuts her hair late in Kartia: The Word of Fate as a sign of leaving the Medium profession. She becomes a Shrine Warrior, boosting her stats quite a bit.
  • The King of All Cosmos suffers one in his youth, as depicted in his flashbacks in We Love Katamari.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • In the third Max Payne game, after being mired in alcoholism for years and having failed to protect his principal, Max shaves his head when he decides to quit drinking. He retains a badass Beard of Sorrow.
  • A semi-hidden audio segment in Metal Gear Solid shows Snake (who was shown up until this point as having long hair) asking Naomi for a pair of scissors so he can "clean himself up a little" — when pressed, he admits he doesn't want to be mistaken for the terrorist Liquid Snake, who has the same haircut, and the confession serves as his acceptance of the mission. By the time he's playable his hair is much shorter.
  • Punch-Out!!: Von Kaiser and Mr. Sandman in Title Defense mode in the Wii game, both before their respective rematches with Little Mac. Kaiser is shown getting a military cut, symbolizing he's not letting his emotional trauma hinder him for the next match. Sandman does it to reinforce his desire for revenge after losing the WVBA belt to Mac.
  • Resident Evil: Outbreak does this with Yoko. In the intro, she rushes into the bathroom to cut her hair because Umbrella assassins were after her. However, this would also tie into her Eastern character, abandoning her life working on bioweapons and trying to put it behind her.
  • Romancing SaGa 3 Katrina Changes her hairstyle and loses her Noble's clothes after the Masquerade was stolen from her, you can revert her back to the way she was after getting the Masquerade back and Defeating any of the Devil Lords except Byunei so you can gain access to Loanne Castle.
  • Charlotte cuts her own hair at the end of Samurai Shodown 2 to symbolize the renouncement of her feelings for Haohmaru.
  • Invoked in Shadow Warrior, where Lo-Wang decides to shave his head because all the great heroes do this, citing Kung Fu (1972) and Taxi Driver as examples. His demon companion Hoji notes that Travis Bickle is far from heroic, but Wang ignores this.
  • A not-just-symbolic example: in the StarCraft universe, the Nerazim officially cut themselves off from the Protoss race by cutting off their "nerve-appendages": thick, hair-like fibers at the back of their heads that connect the Protoss to a sort of communal mind-link. The Khalai Protoss eventually do this as well in Legacy of the Void, whereupon Amon corrupts the Khala, turning the Protoss into his slaves; the Nerazim, and some Khalai Protoss before the corruption sets in, cut their own nerve cords off and do the same for every Protoss they can. Karax even commands his assistant probes to do the same with the zealots in stasis aboard the Spear of Adun, and while Rohana retains hers to better study Amon, she eventually trims herself as well.
  • In Suikoden V, Lady Sialeeds stops dying her hair after her Face–Heel Turn, allowing it to go back to its natural white.
  • Luke cuts his hair in Tales of the Abyss when he decides that he wants to change himself for the better.
  • In The Walking Dead: Season One, Lee gives Clementine a haircut on the advice of Chuck, who states that having long hair is a serious disadvantage with zombies as it gives them something to cling to. One of the last things Lee can say to her is to keep her hair short. She gets another at the end of A New Frontier, when Javíer styles it to be side-swept like Mariana's was, making it more of her haircut being important for him rather than Clem.
  • Princess Cecilia from Wild ARMs cuts her hair to show her dedication to the party.
  • According to the lore in World of Warcraft, men in the Blackrock clan didn't cut their hair until adulthood, at which time their heads would be shaved and they'd be assigned their role in the clan.

    Visual Novels 
  • Almost done in Ace Attorney Investigations with Lauren Pups. One of her 'upset' animations is pressing a pair of scissors to a lock of her hair, on the verge of cutting it. She never does. But compare the short, choppy hair she has tied back with her long, curling locks in front, and you can imagine how often this has happened before.
  • In Air Misuzu gets her long hair cut by Haruko, her aunt, and adoptive mother. By mistake, Haruko cuts Misuzu's hair a lot shorter than intended, which gives Misuzu a much younger appearance and subtly hints at the turn of events in the show.
  • CLANNAD, in the Kyou OVA/Kyou route of the game, when Tomoya calls Ryou out to break up with her and apologize for falling for her sister, instead Kyou comes in Ryou's place, but her hair was already cut short, thus making her fool Tomoya until she utters his name.
  • Similarly, in Kanon, Ayu's hair has grown long in a coma; not long before she awakens, Yuuichi gives her her headband and Nayuki cuts her hair to look like the Ayu that the viewers know.
  • Every Day's Different has Yuika, until then under the thumb of her controlling parents, cut her hair short to symbolise her rejection of their stifling expectations of her.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Shiina Mikado aka Misha chops off her long hair in a very tomboyish cut. It's important because this happens only in Shizune's route, and Misha cuts it over her feelings of inadequacy and jealousy over Shizune and Hisao's relationship — because she loves Shizune and feels out of place now that Hisao is her boyfriend, despite Misha's own care for him.

  • Done twice in Abstract Gender. First, right after the transformations, where Ryan cuts his hair shorter to feel more like himself. He then does this again after discovering he now likes guys and is worried about losing his identity.
  • Austen of Always Human gives herself one after deciding to change her college major.
  • The lead character and author's mouthpiece in Atheist Eve started out with a short bob, but was suddenly drawn with long hair in a strip focusing on evolution. It's been that way ever since.
  • From Black Haze:
    • In chapter 56, Lidusis gets one from Lin in celebration of his growing confidence and to give him a new image in the eyes of his classmates. Rood builds up the big reveal until the class formal, where their classmates are stunned at Lidusis's new look. Even recovering Rich Bitch Chevel is moved, using his magic to sprinkle flower petals for effect.
    Rood (thinking): "With this change, no one will even be able to say the word 'monster' or try to bully him."
    • In Chapter 119, Kielnode gives himself one when presented with the options of either rejoining the Tower, which he abandoned eight years prior, or taking his own life in retribution for his crime. Naturally, he chooses the former, though he's picking up the dagger to initiate this trope made his captors momentarily believe he was choosing the latter.
  • In Concession, Artie starts out refusing to tie his waist-length hair back on the grounds that it makes him look like a girl. When in a relationship with Kate, she braids it for him, and he keeps this style for a short time, then goes back to wearing his hair loose after he breaks up with Kate when she reveals herself to be a pedophile and tries to get him to join in a NAMBLA meeting. After the undergoes successful treatment for his cancer, he cuts it short and adds red streaks.
  • Inverted in Drowtales — when Vaelia is no longer a slave and becomes Ariel's servant and guardian, she gets hair extensions. This is justified because short hair on women is a telltale sign of slavery, even without a slave collar. Long hair on a human in Drow's world would cause anyone to have a double-take.
  • Becky gets one not long after coming out as a lesbian in Dumbing of Age. Joyce is horrified by it.
    • It's implied Leslie had done the same thing when she had come out, as when she finally meets Becky, who reminds her of when she had been a 'baby gay', Leslie asks Becky how long did it take her to decide to cut her hair. (five minutes, tops, by the way)
  • Willow cuts her long hair in Earthsong after learning that she is Earthsong's Eve, but created by Beluosus for his plans to become a star. The style isn't super short, but it does increase her resemblance to his original Eve, who rejected the plan in favor of revenge.
  • Used multiple times in El Goonish Shive.
    • Ellen cuts her hair shorter just as she is starting to find her place in the world.
    • Susan dyed her hair and had it cut after finding out about her father. When she has an angst-induced awakening after learning the truth about the hammers, the dye drains from her hair, which then turns actually black, creating the strange effect of an Important Haircut that leaves her hair looking exactly the same.
    • And there's Nanase, who cuts her hair really short. Not so much an important haircut as it is an important complete makeover. Nanase gets another one when her magic is temporarily run out. Her hair goes completely black.
  • A minor variation in Everyday Heroes. Jane, during her career as a villain, had a long black wig as part of her costume. It was yanked off in the middle of the fight during her Heel–Face Turn, and she's been an ordinary brunette ever since.
  • Collin of Friendly Hostility has to dye the blue streak from his hair whenever he visits his hated parents. Not exactly a haircut, per se, but it probably still fits.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court, Chapter 15 shows Red's first haircut, ever. (Owing to her fairy heritage, she didn't even know that hair could be cut.) She's convinced that it's not just symbolic, but that her old long hair that won't stick up is actually the root of all her problems.
    • Also happens at least twice to Kat. First, towards the end of Chapter 29, when Kat finally makes her peace with what she learned about Jeanne and Diego and trims her locks of sorrow; Second, in Chapter 32 when she returns from summer holidays with a new style — and a chip on her shoulder after Annie ran away to the Gilletie Forest without telling her.
  • Heartcore's Amethyst used to have long, flowing hair. After her father drained her power against her will, though, she cut her hair to shoulder-length (and got green bangs) in the first of many rebellious signs of protest against her father.
  • Joe's friend Wilma in Joe vs. Elan School. During their time in Elan School, Wilma had long hair. When Joe goes to visit her after they leave Elan, he notes that her post-Elan PTSD has led her to chop off her hair and seemingly rebel against her previous persona.
  • Alex from Khaos Komix got a haircut from his sister, as a part of trying to transform himself more attractive. Earlier, Tom began his transition with a short haircut.
  • Coney was subjected to this trope twice in Kevin & Kell.
    • The first time was her getting her very first haircut, not long after she said her first word. (She needed it too, turns out under that bonnet was enough hair to make her look like Cousin Itt.)
    • Years later, after a misadventure that involved her shaving her hair to look like her cousin Wendell, Coney had her hair restyled (with the help of hair extensions made from her tail hair) into more of a poodle cut. This puts a strain on her friendship with Harcourt, who didn't act so happy about it at first. When he explains that he needs time to process surprises since his childhood has led him to prefer consistency, they make up.
  • The 'dating sim accessory' Ping in MegaTokyo has her previously longer-than-waist-length ponytails trimmed by a plasma cannon shot; later on, at the beginning of the next chapter, we see her behaving like a 'real', possessive girl. The next two chapters top this with her gaining an Important Hair Colour, Height Change, Breast Expansion and Personality Switch in order to make her more attractive to her 'owner', Piro.
    • Inverted recently, with the ever strange Miho growing about a foot and a half of hair in no more than a week. And her personality seems to have changed as well...
  • Played for laughs in Ménage à 3, as when Didi comes out mistakes inadequate sexual partners as a sign that she is gay she immediately declares that she must now cut her hair short.
  • Order of the Stick:
    • Lampshaded and Discussed in this strip, and then again here.
      Elan: You know, I had just assumed that your short hair was somehow symbolic of your character growth.
      Haley: Me too! I guess it was just a crappy haircut.
      Elan: Weird.
    • Done a bit more seriously with Vaarsuvius, who starts wearing their hair in a ponytail post-Deal with the Devil to symbolize that they've grown from their experiences with power, and now they are going to start acting more humble and polite as a result. Previously, their hair was short and neat, and kept up with a circlet.
  • Played straight in Penny and Aggie when Sarah got an extreme haircut to symbolize coming out of the closet.
  • Felix in Queen of Wands usually sports long, bright blue hair; he cuts it and gets rid of the dye when the baby comes.
  • Marten of Questionable Content seems to always get a haircut just before something interesting happens between him and Faye.
    • Also in Questionable Content, Dora decides to grow her dyed-black hair out shortly before a Time Skip; presumably, in the skipped time, Faye and Sven both grow accustomed to their friends-with-benefits relationship, which makes it all the more painful for both of them when he has a one-night stand with someone else.
  • Red String loves this trope.
    • Karen cut her hair after she gets a dressing down from Miharu, whose fiance she'd previously been trying to lure away for her own reasons. After this, Karen becomes a more sympathetic character and stops trying to break Miharu and Kazou up.
    • Miharu's characteristic blond hair is the result of one of these — her friend Reika had her hair lightened (though not bleached) at the same time, symbolizing the strengthening of their friendship and their new lives at a new school. Miharu got another one when she was expelled from that school and had to let her hair go black again, symbolizing the subsequent identity crisis she suffered through. Then she bleached it yet again over the summer, symbolizing trying to reclaim her identity. As the comic still hasn't moved past summer break, it's to be seen if she changes her hair again.
    • Hanae did this in Chapter 45. In this case, she was trying to make a point to her mother that she was serious about her lesbianism.
  • Sluggy Freelance did two of these in one. After Zoe (in camel form) chewed off most of Gwynn's hair, Gwynn used magic to turn Zoe permanently bald. Zoe took to wearing a wig (longer than her previous hairdo), while Gwynn switched back and forth between her short hair and a wig that resembled her previous look. They were eventually restored to their old hairstyles in the "Time for Hair-Raising" arc.
    • Oasis also gave herself one of these in order to make herself look more like Zoe, though in the same arc a lot of it was burned off as well. Her previous Anime Hair was restored when she came Back from the Dead (again).
    • Gwynn had short locks for a brief period when her hair was burned off during the "Dangerous Days Ahead" arc. She grew it back over time. Played for laughs when the long-moved out Zoe moved back in and, trying to find at least one normal event, asked Gwynn what happened to her hair.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Tuuri had a long ponytail before Chapter 1, but cut her hair to Boyish Short Hair right before leaving for the expedition, which is her first time doing actual fieldwork.
  • Mel from Stubble Trouble agreed to shave off all her fur at the request of her boyfriend, Lennon the Shaved, near the beginning of the comic. She has since stayed completely shaven for nearly the entire comic's run.
  • Sebastian gives himself a stylish, villainous trim in Saga 5 of True Villains when he accepts his villainy.
  • Shelly in Wapsi Square cuts her hair while dealing with some emotional issues. Semi-lampshaded a little later.
  • The Weaponmaster in The War of Winds does this to himself because he expects to die in the next battle. The act is a warrior tradition from his homeland acting as a symbol of his slavery to fate.
  • Your Throne: Psyche cuts her long hair to shoulder length after deciding to stand up for herself.

    Web Original 
  • Dad: Daughter cut her hair just to impress her crush, Griffin, who happens to like short-hair. She doesn't seem too happy with her new style, but did it anyway, just to make sure he likes her.
  • The Cry of Mann: Jouglat chops his hair off messily with scissors when he decides he's going back to the war. note  His mental state not doing well, he does it while staring intensely at a mirror, and leaving large chunks behind.
  • Another male example of this is Gino Gambino from Gaia Online. He has become a new man, a navigator of an airship. And what better way to show the change in his character (and to keep his flowing hair out of his face) than with an Important Haircut. (The first try doesn't come out looking as it should, though this should come as no surprise as it's Gino we're talking about...)
  • In The Jenkinsverse, both Jen Delaney and Adrian Saunders shave their heads around about the same time. Jen's haircut is born of the practical need to pass anonymously without anybody recognizing her distinctive red hair and symbolizes her commitment to leaving her old life behind. Adrian's haircut marks the moment where things finally start picking up for him and he's able to clean up, acquire some assets and allies, and start fighting back.
  • Looming Gaia: After escaping from Damijana to the Zareen Empire and leaving their old life behind, Jeimos shaves their head bald due to their long curly hair being too much to maintain.
  • On Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, J does this in the first episode after her boyfriend breaks up with her, only for him to take her back but break up with her again because he can't deal with her short hair (it makes him feel like "less of a man").

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • After his own sister Azula attempts to drag him home in chains, Prince Zuko and his Uncle Iroh cut off their ceremonial top-knots in a dramatic scene, both as a symbol of serious exile from their own Nation and as a practical measure to pass in the Earth Kingdom. Later episodes show them growing out their hair gradually and consistently. Zuko's head had previously been shaved, except for the queue (top-knot). The former is probably a reference to the queues worn by Chinese men during the Qing dynasty to symbolize their loyalty to the Emperor (see Real Life below), while the shaggy mop Zuko wound up with by the end of the second season reflected Turn of the Millennium styles for teenage boys throughout the developed world, giving Zuko an air of familiarity as well as emphasizing his youth, concealing the more jagged areas of his burn scar, and giving his face a much softer look to it, as his Back Story was filled out and he became a more sympathetic character.
    • Zuko also gets an Important Hairstyle Change for the first part of Season 3; somehow the mop he was wearing in Ba Sing Se is long enough to tie up smoothly, and Prince Zuko goes around with a proper grown-up topknot for the first time in his life.
    • Aang is typically bald (customary in the Air Nomad culture) and has a distinctive tattoo of an arrow down his scalp. He spends the downtime between seasons two and three in a coma, where his hair grows in naturally (it's brown). After he's convinced to conceal his status as the Avatar to move freely through enemy territory, he continues allowing his hair to grow until the day of their planned invasion.
    • Azula's haircut is the sign that she is coming unhinged due to paranoia and mistrust.
    • Zuko actually had another important haircut, just after he was banished (with his Uncle Iroh). Beforehand, he had a full head of hair, but just a week later, he was mostly bald. It's never explained if this haircut was a symbolic haircut of disgrace forced on him when he was banished, something he did to himself for his own reasons, or simply a way to keep his hair out of his face while his burn healed. After all badly burned hair would have to be removed and anything hot enough to cause 2nd-degree burns would definitely scorch your hair.
    • The final season of The Legend of Korra sees Korra giving herself one with a lance's blade, after the Trauma Conga Line of the third season finale and finally getting back on her feet after three years.
  • In The Boondocks episode "Bitches to Rags", after Thugnificent loses all his wealth, he chops off the two huge Mickey Mouse afro balls on the side of his head.
  • In the transition from Justice League to Justice League Unlimited, Green Lantern John Stewart, like Sisko before him, shaves his head and grows a goatee. Whether this is a deliberate reference to Sisko is unknown. Unusually for a male character, Stewart's Important Haircut immediately follows his traumatic break up with Shayera.
  • Kim Possible:
    • After Kim forced Ron Stoppable to cut his hair, his personality took a 180. He became secure in himself, dressed more slick than he ever did, and got to be popular with the attractive girls. But he became such a jerk that even his loyal naked mole rat didn't want to spend time with him, so he had his hair combed wrong, making the attractive girls overlook him again.
    • Also, in the time travel movie A Sitch in Time, the older present Ron advised the past young Ron that he should keep the haircut.
  • In King of the Hill, Hank Hill cares very much about his hair. In one episode, he is soon going to pose in a "Wish You Well" Christmas themed card from his workplace, but when his hair is ruined by his barber, he almost breaks down. To round it all off, when he finally gets in the photo at the last second, he doesn't even smile.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: To demonstrate that she's not just shallowly obsessed with her own appearance, Rarity chops off her own tail-hair to give to someone else as a gift.
  • The Owl House:
    • In "Through the Looking Glass Ruins", Amity, with the help of her siblings, cuts her hair into a bob and have it dyed purple, despite knowing that it’ll get her in a LOT of trouble with their mother. This shows that Amity is continuing to break free from Odalia's toxic influence and wants to grow as her own person rather than go with what her mom wants.
    • In the episode "Thanks to Them", Hunter gives himself a haircut when he realizes his hair too closely resembles that of his past abuser, Emperor Belos. Willow later helps him clean it up in a surprisingly tender moment.
  • A Rugrats episode was about Chucky's first haircut. He went back to his old hairstyle after that episode.
  • Season 2 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated sees Angel Dynamite getting her distinctive afro shortened in a pivotal scene, not long after the gang finds out that she's secretly Cassidy Williams, one of the four members of the original Mystery Incorporated. This signals the end of her status as a one-note Jive Turkey, as the Gang begins to delve into the darker aspects of her past.
  • In the final season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Catra's long hair is reduced to a pixie cut when she becomes mind-controlled by Horde Prime.
  • South Park:
  • The completion of Anakin's training as a Padawan and his becoming a Jedi is signified in Star Wars: Clone Wars when Yoda slices off Anakin's braid with a lightsaber in a Jedi Knighting ceremony. Later Anakin has it sent to Padme, who keeps it in a small jewelry box with the pendant he carved for her back in The Phantom Menace.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Missing in Action": Amnesiac clone commando Gregor grows his hair sort of long and has a shaggy beard while on Abafar. When he is reminded of his true identity, he shaves the beard and cuts his hair back into his old short style.
    • "Fugitive": When he has AZI-3 remove the control chip from his brain, Fives gets his head shaved. It signifies that he's no longer a Manchurian Agent like the rest of the clones.
  • At the end of the Teen Titans (2003) episode "Birthmark", Raven cuts her hair, which had grown out like her father's (fittingly, this happens after Raven's father tells her via a vision that she will help him bring about The End of the World as We Know It), back to its normal length. The haircut seems to symbolize her taking back control of her life, reclaiming her humanity. The same haircut presumably happens in "The End, Part 3". Her hair grew out again when she regained her power (which she used to defeat her father for good), but when we see her again back in Titans tower, her hair is back to normal length again. However, we never actually see her cut her hair in this episode.
  • While it was more of a shaved bald than cut, Total Drama's Heather was both eliminated from the first season due to it and went through her Villain Decay in the second because of it.
  • Young Justice (2010):

    Real Life 
  • Joan of Arc cut her hair to a man's length both for practical reasons and to show her commitment to the cause (and make it easier for men to take her seriously); it was something the clergy at her trial made a big deal about. When she was convicted, her head was shaved completely, giving us a twofer.
  • Since the Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty required all men to keep their foreheads shaved and the rest of the hair long on the pain of death, cutting the braid was thus a symbol of rebellion — and to the Manchu, treason. When the Manchu era ended, this happened en masse for all of China, though many would keep their braid out of sheer habit.
    • The Taiping rebels in particular were known as cháng máo "long-hairs" for their habit of growing out their queue hairstyles in defiance off Qing laws.
    • Same went for the Japanese and their top-knots (chonmage). During the Edo period, a chonmage was the mark of a Samurai under a feudal master. Masterless samurai, Rōnin, grew their chonmage out.
    • Legend goes, when a general staged a coup and tried to restore the Qing dynasty in 1917, many Pekingese put on fake braids just in case the Emperor was not happy about their "treason". The attempt failed, so the next morning the city streets appeared covered in fake braids.
  • Many people respond to hair loss by shaving their head, often deciding either to embrace the loss of hair entirely or in order to more comfortably wear wigs instead. There are many people who felt insecure over a loss of hair who end up feeling significantly better after making the step, some saying they wish they had done so years earlier. Similarly, many people afraid of hair loss cope by using toupees or wigs, but later find peace in ditching them and choosing to present themselves as bald.
    • Similarly, the comb-over hairstyle is a fairly popular look often adopted in response to loss of hair.
  • The Merovingian dynasty of kings in Dark Ages France famously never cut their hair, so the first thing that happened to a deposed king was that they shaved his head.
  • In their second year as students at the Takarazuka Revue Academy in Japan, numerous teenage girls in each class are selected to become otokoyaku, actresses who play primarily Crosscast Roles and their hair is cut into the traditional otokoyaku style (a short crop that gets longer toward the front so there's a longish, side-swept forelock over the forehead). Despite the long-standing cultural attitudes Japan has toward traditionally valuing long hair on women, to be chosen as an otokoyaku is considered a great honor, as they generally receive more acclaim and more fans than the female-playing musumeyaku, and the haircut is seen as the first step toward becoming a real-life anime-style bifauxnen.
  • In many Native American tribes, hair is cut only as a sign of grief or disgrace. Because of this, the students at Carlisle Indian Industrial School and other Indian schools designed to "civilize" them were fairly traumatized when their braids were forcibly cut off.
  • The haircut traditionally given to new military recruits. The tradition began with the Romans, who wanted to make sure that barbarians couldn't grab onto a Roman soldier's hair during battle. In modern armies, they do it mostly to prevent the spread of lice and for uniformity. The most popular style is the high and tight.
    • Female recruits usually don't go through this, though a few military academies, while not shaving female "knobs," will nevertheless severely crop their hair down to an inch or less. West Point, however, bobs female cadets' hair quickly but with care about how it will look when the students are not at school. A lot of academies actually advise female cadets to have their hair cut before arriving, in case they don't like the one the barber gives them. This is in contrast to male recruits, who are expected to get them there and then.
    • The history of the modern version of the mohawk haircut is also military. Paratroopers; having their hair grown a bit since joining the force, would cut the sides, leaving the mohawk before going to battle. The tradition was copied from the Native Americans.
    • Finnish conscripts that are selected for officer training in the Engineer line shave their heads bald the night before leaving for Hamina where they will be trained and keep it that way until they return to their original units.
  • This is commonly done to prisoners as part of the intake process. Much like the military example above, women are generally excluded, and lice prevention partially drives the practice. It is also for security, as long hair can provide a hiding place for contraband. Furthermore, it limits the ways by which an inmate can express freedom or individuality. This can be view as either part of the offender's punishment or a tactic that makes him more likely to conform to his new enforced lifestyle. Regulations generally force the incarcerated to maintain the short hairstyle and shave their faces regularly. Years of forced shaves and haircuts often lead to this trope being played in reverse once the former inmate is released, resulting in an important regrowth.
  • Benedictine monks with their distinctive tonsured hairstyle.
  • Part of the punishment for cowardice in ancient Sparta was to shave half your beard as a sign of humiliation.
  • Patrick Stewart's baldness? Began as an Important Haircut. He started losing his hair at nineteen, thought life was over, was mortified and wore hats all the time, until a Hungarian theatre friend who was a judo black belt snuck up behind him and pinned him screaming to a chair while his wife chopped it off.
  • In Japan, it's a trend for girls to cut their hair short after getting rejected from a love confession. So they cut their hair as a sign that they got over it and moved on.
  • Inverted by Kate Gosselyn, who got hair extensions following her divorce from Jon.
  • One of the many ways Peter the Great used to westernize Russia in the 17th Century was having all the Russian nobles' facial hair shaved by force.
  • In 1968, many students and antiwar activists, many if not most of whom had previously sported the long/unconventional '60s "hippie hair", cut their hair as part of a "Get Clean for Gene" campaign in support of Democratic Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, who ran on a platform in opposition to The Vietnam War. You see, if a middle-aged Middle American Joe or Jane sees a hippie at the doorstep canvassing for McCarthy, that vote is gone. If it's a clean-cut "nice young man/nice young lady", they have a chance. (The tactic worked as well as it could: McCarthy proceeded to win the popular vote in the primaries...but because most states didn't have primaries in '68, the DNC was brokered and the nomination went to Hubert Humphrey).
  • Getting their hair "bobbed" or cut short was a rite of passage and symbol of independence for many flapper women in The Roaring '20s.
  • Rebbe Akiva, one of the greatest Jewish sages, owed everything to his wife who did all in her power so that he could learn Torah — including cutting and selling her own hair.
  • Some cancer patients choose to symbolically shave their head even after their chemotherapy is done, or alternatively, keep it short if it had been longer before.
    • Friends and family of female cancer patients can shave their hair in support.
  • The organization Locks of Love makes vacuum-sealed hairpieces (specially-made wigs which only the wearer can remove) for children suffering from long term or permanent hair loss from donated hair. note  In this case, the significance comes largely from what's done with the hair, as well as how long it takes to grow (each donation needs to be at least ten inches long).
  • Saint Clair of Assisi managed to convince her family that she had really decided to be a nun when she took off her veil and showed that she had cut her (beautiful!) hair short.
  • Similarly, Angela Merici was a very good looking tertiary member of the St. Francis Order with blond hair. She showed her determination to dedicate herself only to God and teaching by cutting her hair short and dyeing it with soot.
  • French Revolutionaries cut their hair short to show opposition to the long-haired wig-wearing aristocracy. Many pro-French members of the Society of United Irishmen copied the hairstyle for moral support and were nicknamed 'Croppies' after their hairstyle.
  • Napoléon Bonaparte, between the 18 Brumaire coup and upon becoming emperor, traded his long flowy locks to a combed over Caesar cut.
  • Women in certain religious sects such as the Fundamentalist sect of the Church of Latter-Day Saints are taught to prize their long hair; women who are disillusioned with such movements may cut their hair to signify that.
  • Unfortunately tightly tied to Traumatic Haircut in the case of some (usually female) sexual assault survivors. In some places, if a woman walks into a hairstylist's or a barber's visibly distressed, asking for her long hair to be cut markedly shorter, they just won't cut her hair. They often offer to call a therapist or try to calm her down and find out what's wrong, in case it's a reaction to abuse or sexual assault.
    • In a more benign example, it's often common for women (and some men) to change their hair after a long relationship even if it wasn't abusive, as a sort of fresh start.
    • Lonnie Walker IV cut his trademark hair to shed his traumatic past rife with sexual abuse. He made his hair a symbol of his autonomy.
  • In the middle of the nineteenth-century, female members of the Nihilist movement in Russia cut their hair short. Ironically, many male members had long hair.
  • During a 2016 WTA Finals match against Agnieszka Radwanska, female tennis player Svetlana Kuznetsova hacked part of her own ponytail off before the deciding set, as it kept getting in her face during rallies. She went on to win the set and the match.
  • The two-thousand-year-old Germania by Tacitus describes one German tribe whose young warriors would stop cutting their hair on reaching adulthood and only cut it again once they killed a man in battle.
  • Rachel Maddow was once a closeted teenager with long blonde hair; she went to college and came out as a lesbian, got a Rhodes Scholarship and shaved off dyed blue hair as part of a bet; her hair grew back a little before Digimon Adventure came out, then she got a short, sensible haircut that would make 90s cartoon moms cream; now she has short brown hair.
  • Silent film star Mary Pickford cut her famous curls in 1928 and adapted a '20s Bob Haircut. This made the front page of national newspapers in America, including The New York Times. This was largely considered a Creator Killer for her. Her fans liked her in innocent, childish roles while Pickford wanted to play more mature ones. When she cut off her curls and tried more adult roles, her popularity floundered dramatically.
    "You would have thought I had murdered someone, and perhaps I had, but only to give her successor a chance to live."
  • It was a pre-Christian Slavic custom to not shave a boy until he was seven, then do it ceremonially, while also giving him his adult name.
  • It is traditional in Polish custom that a young woman has her hair cut short the day before her wedding.
  • Starting in the 1960s, black men and women have increasingly been deciding against chemically straightening their hair. It's called the "Natural Hair" movement. (In the '70s, this was reflected in the Afro hairstyle. As Bob Marley popularized dreadlocks, many chose to wear them whether or not they became RastafarI.) Many black women announce their decision to "Go Natural" by cutting off their chemically straightened hair in an emotional haircut called the big chop.
  • In the 19th century, the bullfighters wore long hair ("coleta") often secured in a bun. Traditionally, the hair-bun was severed to indicate the torero was leaving the profession. This created the Spanish expression "cortarse la coleta" (Cutting the long hair) as a synonym for leaving a job.
  • Immediately after quitting playing the Doctor, Tom Baker shaved off all his iconic '70s curls as a form of breaking with the role, as he was severely Lost in Character and needed to relearn the difference between himself and the Doctor. After doing this, he discovered no-one recognised him anymore, and (missing the adoration of children who would come up to him in the street and gawp) related it in his autobiography Who On Earth Is Tom Baker? to Samson cutting off his long hair and losing all his powers.
  • As in the Kingdom of Heaven example above, women during the Siege of Jerusalem cut their long hair short as a sign of solidarity with the defenders of the city.
  • Transgender men (and some non-binary people) often cut their hair shorter as one of the first steps in transitioning.
  • Rose McGowan decided to cut her hair short herself on a whim one day after she had decided to stop acting. According to her, she had kept it long all her life because she had once been advised that long hair would get her more parts and she eventually shaved her hair off, though she now sports a pixie cut. Previously in her career, she discovered that the WB had a mandate that no young actors on their shows could change their hair without permission, and rebelled by dyeing her hair red before Charmed (1998)'s fifth season.
  • Alyssa Milano chopped off her long hair into a pixie cut because she wanted to do something shocking for her 30th birthday.
  • Young girls in Ancient Rome who were selected to be Vestal Virgins had their hair cut short when first dedicated. However, they eventually did grow their hair out again, which was then tied up every day in a very elaborate style similar to what brides wore.
  • The Weeknd cut off his iconic dreads in late 2016 and showed off his new haircut in the album cover for his third album ''Starboy'.
  • Actors attached to franchises or TV shows often have it written into their contract that they have to keep their hair a certain way for the sake of their character. As such when filming wraps, it's sort of a ritual for the actor to change their hair to celebrate that they don't have to keep it that way anymore:
    • Emma Watson chopped all her long hair off into a pixie cut as soon as she finished filming the last Harry Potter movie.
    • Chad Michael Murray was required to grow his hair out for One Tree Hill. Every time they wrapped a season, he would celebrate by getting a buzzcut.
    • Jennifer Morrison cut her hair to shoulder length around the time she finished up Once Upon a Time. As she still had some filming left to do, she wore hairpieces for the remaining episodes.
    • It was the opposite for Katee Sackhoff. Required to keep her hair short for Battlestar Galactica, she would grow it out in between seasons and eventually fought for the character to grow her hair long too.
    • Kit Harrington has alluded to the same for Game of Thrones. In contrast to many of his co-stars who just wear wigs, he has grown his hair for the entire duration of the series and has said he'll cut it as soon as he's finished. This was even a joke among fans regarding a Cliffhanger ending for one season; if Kit's hair was cut, it was a good sign his character wasn't coming back. Sure enough, a few months after the series wrapped (and it was clear they didn't need re-shoots) he cut it shorter and shaved his beard.
    • Michelle Fairley marked Catelyn Stark's death at the Red Wedding by getting a haircut after filming. She also had her hair dyed for the role and this allowed it to grow back naturally. Somewhat ironic, as her character's last thoughts in the novel was thinking that a Frey was going to cut her hair and that Ned always loved it.
    • Emilia Clarke likewise celebrated the ending of Game of Thrones by cutting her hair short. She wore a wig for the first seven seasons of the show to play Danaerys but bleached her hair blonde for the final season.
    • Chris Hemsworth likewise didn't want to grow his hair out again for Thor: Ragnarok so he wore a wig for the first half of the film and the character gets a haircut as a plot point.
    • Lin Manuel Miranda was required to have long hair for his role in Hamilton. After his final performance, he cut it much shorter.
  • This report talks of a kindergarten teacher whose student's hair had to be cut short due to headlice. After a few weeks of the girl being teased for it, the teacher had her own long hair cut to the same length in solidarity.
  • Corbin Bleu made a conscious decision to cut his curly hair gradually shorter in order to transition out of his Disney High School Musical image and get more diverse roles.
  • Deborah Kerr had hair that was naturally darker than the red she was known for. A friend encouraged her to lighten it when she became an actress. She did and then became one of Hollywood's favourite redheads in the 1950s.
  • Lana Parrilla found herself often being turned down for roles because casting directors felt she didn't "look Latina enough" and — comparing herself to the other actresses who had the more typical Latina look — decided to cut her hair much shorter. It worked and she booked a lot more roles afterwards.
  • Sofia Vergara is a similar case, as she's a natural blonde but Hollywood found it difficult to find a role for her, not used to blonde Latinas. So she darkened her hair and enjoyed much more success.
  • A lot of actors find that changing their hair for a particular role is a good part of helping get into character.
  • Many older women who have been dyeing their hair will make the decision to let their grey hairs grow through. Some even cut theirs short to allow the grey to come in quicker.
  • Michael Bolton ditched his wavy mullet hairstyle in favour of a more shorter haircut in late 1997.
  • Mia Farrow was known for her long hair when she first got fame for the TV series Peyton Place. Having been raised Catholic, she felt uneasy when her hair became popular and then impulsively cut it all off herself with manicure scissors one morning — right in the middle of shooting an episode. They had to hurriedly write in a reason for her character to do the same in said episode. In her autobiography she remarked:
    "There must have been nothing going on in the world that week, because my haircut got an absurd amount of press coverage."
  • Shannen Doherty did something similar while filming a season finale of Beverly Hills, 90210 — impulsively chopping all her hair off while shooting was ongoing. This was reportedly the last straw when it came to her diva behaviour and got her fired from the series.
  • Björk cut her mid-length hair to shoulder length in late 1996 and dyed it auburn and kept it at this length for the Homogenic era and did it again, though to chin length during the post-Vespertine/pre-Medúlla era. Prior to this, she sported a pixie cut during the Sugarcubes' second album Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!.
  • Inverted by Dean Koontz who had a hair transplant and shaved off his moustache in The '90s as, in his own words, he "was tired of looking like G. Gordon Liddy" (a controversial member of the Richard Nixon political establishment who’d served prison time for his part in the Watergate scandal).
  • Some Orthodox Jewish women shave their heads or cut their hair very short after marriage and thereafter cover their heads, with kerchiefs, hats, or, counterintuively, wigs. (Others simply cover their hair in public.)
  • Traditionally, Orthodox Jewish boys' hair is first cut (leaving long earlocks) when they turn age 3, on a holiday traditionally associated with scholars, symbolizing a transition from infancy and the ability to begin learning.
  • Elliot Page cut his hair short not long before coming out as a trans man in late 2020. In fact, he remarked that previously having to shave his head on screen for Mouth to Mouth was an early personal indicator that he was trans - although he didn't come out until years later.
  • Inverted by Suzy Eddie Izzard as she grew out her hair not long before coming out as a trans woman in early 2021.
  • During the 2022 Mahsa Amini protests in Iran (so named after Amini, who was killed by Iran's morality police for not covering her hair with her hijab properly), many Iranian women cut their own hair in public and on social media in protest.
  • JAMIEvstheVOID cutting his long hair short and updating the avatar used in his storytime animations to match was the first sign that he was transitioning from female to transmasculine non-binary in 2020.
  • NIMONA, Lumberjanes and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power creator ND Stevenson cut his hair short in 2021 just prior to coming out as transmasculine a year later.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Significant Haircut


How about cutting your hair?

Heavy metal headbanger Chris Perez agrees to a haircut so Abraham will hire him for Selena's band. Cue his transformation from disheveled hobo from planet "Dump Truck" into "sleek and sexy heartthrob."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImportantHaircut

Media sources: