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Stubble ain't no trouble.
"I'm trying to think of the last action movie I saw with realistic facial hair. I sometimes wonder how these guys go through days of unremitting action while still finding time off to use an electric shaver on the stubble setting."

So you're an Anti-Hero, or maybe The Drifter or an equally gritty protagonist Made of Iron. Now, how to get street cred as a badass Mofo? Cause big explosions? Shoot with Guns Akimbo? Nah, just stop shaving!

In the wonderful land of Hollywood, the law of Good Hair, Evil Hair is irrevocably ingrained in concrete. To wit, the only people who don't shave are Action Heroes; everyone else has good hygiene. Even Mooks are better groomed, or are ugly and easily distinguished from our hero.

Especially fun when the hero has a perfectly shaved head (unless naturally bald or getting there) and a five o'clock shadow. Even when starting a film with a perfectly smooth jaw, all it takes for the hero to grow his five-o'clock shadow is the sound of gunfire. Big Damn Heroes don't sweat when anxious; they grow facial hair.

May grow out into a beard if given enough time, unless he keeps it stubbly by choice. Tends to grow on a Lantern Jaw of Justice. Contrast Beard of Sorrow, which is usually temporary. Opposite of the Perma-Shave.

Not entirely unrealistic, as men with dark facial hair but slow beard growth (and especially with lighter skin for contrast) can get a 5-o'clock shadow by noon, which then stays perma-stubble for days without any maintenance.

Almost ubiquitous among Mr. Fanservice characters, given the common Female Gaze perspective that facial hair is manly, but too much is unappealing.

For examples of cartoon characters having stubble due to Limited Animation, see Solid Cartoon Facial Stubble.


    open/close all folders 

  • A commercial for Energizer Batteries featured a man whose beard grew back within seconds after he shaved it. As a result, he had to bring his electric razor (powered by Energizer batteries, of course) with him wherever he went, and shave his beard at the most inopportune moments.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mr. Satan from Dragon Ball Z has a 5 o'clock shadow with a fully grown handle bar mustache.
  • Holland from Eureka Seven has some around his chin, and it does make him look fairly badass (you can see him without it in a flashback, though).
  • Protagonist Shinichi from Kore wa Koi no Hanashi has a bit of stubble on his chin, which he rarely — if ever — shaves off.
  • Yuuichirou from Sailor Moon has long hair with bangs and a face full of stubble, even though other young men his age (like Mamoru, for example, who even references having to shave) are clean-shaven and well-trimmed. It is revealed a few episodes after his appearance that he is the son of wealthy parents that on business/living abroad, and he hopes to find an identity other than being a rich kid, so he might be purposely trying to look unkempt to hide his family history.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Kaji has stubble, probably because of his confusing and ambiguous job description, which probably makes him too busy to shave. It's lampshaded a lot by some of the characters: Misato criticises it a lot and thinks it makes him look lazy and careless; Hikari refers to him as "the cool-looking guy that never shaves", and Asuka thinks that it makes him look much more attractive. Kaji's fangirls agree with Asuka.
    • Younger Gendo in a flashback to the early days of his partnership with Prof Fuyusuki. After his wife's death, Gendo grows out his stubble into a thick beard.
  • Ozma Lee in Macross Frontier.
  • It's pretty subtle (as in, you might not notice it unless you pay close attention), but Mugen has some very slight stubble and the faint beginnings of a mustache throughout Samurai Champloo. Makes sense, as he's supposed to be 19.
  • The Men in Black from Serial Experiments Lain; their perma-stubble makes it very clear they're dangerous and that something very wrong is going on.
  • Father Alexander Anderson from Hellsing, Church Militant Juggernaut.
  • Nicholas D. Wolfwood from the Trigun anime.
  • Sanji from One Piece, as well as a number of less frequently seen characters, among them Shanks, Buggy, and Smoker.
    • Sanji jumps to full-blown goatee after the time-skip.
    • Capone Bege has some, to reinforce the mafia aspect. Funnily enough, his infant son somehow inherited it.
  • Any and all cool older mentor figures from anything written by Ken Akamatsu. Including, but not limited to, Takamichi from Negima! Magister Negi Magi and Seta of Love Hina.
  • France, Turkey, and Grandpa Rome from Hetalia: Axis Powers.
  • Kobayashi, the Sink or Swim Mentor from The Law of Ueki. It seems more to show laziness than badassitude, though he does have his badass moments.
  • Sven from Black Cat, moreso in the manga. In the anime, he shaves the stubble 'stache.
  • Bleach:
    • Resident Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass Isshin Kurosaki sports beard stubble, although no moustache stubble.
    • Kisuke Urahara has very mild beard stubble as part of his disheveled, laid-back persona. He always portrays a Brilliant, but Lazy image, but that image hides his true Gadgeteer Genius nature instead.
    • Shunsui Kyouraku wears an unshaven look as part of his genuinely Brilliant, but Lazy persona. He has the full beard and moustache stubble.
    • Coyote Starrk is Shunsui's Evil Counterpart, so is also Brilliant, but Lazy. He also has something of an American gunslinger persona and the goatee stubble to complete the look.
  • Konata's dad Soujirou from Lucky Star.
  • Dr. Tenma from Monster grows one as a part of his Expository Hairstyle Change.
  • Dr. Shamal, Chivalrous Pervert from Reborn! (2004), as well as the sexy scientist Verde.
  • Gauron from Full Metal Panic!. He's a rather unusual example, in that he's one of the most Ax-Crazy, depraved, evil Big Bads on the show.
  • Raigyo from Xam'd: Lost Memories has a particularly literal example of perma-stubble that manages to stick even immediately after he shaves.
  • Sakuraba in Eyeshield 21 gets the stubble and shaved head to signify that he's a serious athlete and not just a pretty boy.
  • Takuma Fudou from Get Backers - an Ax-Crazy Psycho for Hire who is Ban's Stalker with a Crush. He's also called an "old man" (he's 28) by a lot of the characters - presumably characterized so by his five o'clock shadow.
  • Lieutenant Colonel no... ''Brigadier General'' Maes Hughes of Fullmetal Alchemist has a this too. His daughter Elysia complains about it when he hugs her.
  • Manji from Blade of the Immortal has a rare case of literal perma-stubble. His Immortality locks him into the state he was in when he was first cursed with it, thus he can neither shave it off or grow it out.
  • Dr. Ozaki from Shiki.
  • Benny of Black Lagoon, the Non-Action Guy of the crew.
  • Jean-Baptiste Bessières in Napoleon — Hadou Shingeki, just like his real-life counterpart. However, so far he hasn't displayed any of the traits usually associated with this trope.
  • Julie Sakuma Dmitriyevich from Sunday Without God. Being in his thirties, he's older than the rest of the cast, and his stubble sets him apart from the immortally youthful Hampnie Hambart.
  • Kankichi Ryotsu from Kochikame.
  • Senai of The Unpopular Mangaka and the Helpful Onryo-san has a perpetual day-old beard.
  • Isamu Kenmochi, a police detective and a Friend on the Force with Kindaichi in The Kindaichi Case Files, always has a stubble. Amusingly, his stubble serves to lead to a "Eureka!" Moment for Kindaichi to solving a case and as a source of comedy — an author's note at one point during The Summation of that case actually indicates that Kenmochi had recently shaved himself before Summation Gathering, even though he looks as stubbly as ever.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, Huo Haha, a villain introduced in Season 8, has a noticeable stubble on his chin.

    Comic Books 
  • Also, Gambit, from X-Men, until very recently.
    • Wolverine as well, though the movies have him pretty well cleaned up at times.
      • Depending upon the era, The Punisher certainly qualifies - during his '90s Anti-Hero phase, he had stubble so often his action figures had it. Since the Garth Ennis reboot of the 2000s, he's gone clean-shaven (although it has returned on occasion during Ennis' Marvel Max run).
  • Rarely is Nick Fury ever seen without his 5 o'clock shadow. One has to go back to his Howling Commando days to see what he looks like clean shaven.
  • Depending on the Artist, clean shaven Bruce Wayne sometimes grows an instant rugged stubble the moment he puts on the Batman mask. It's also reliably a part of any disguise as a disreputable character.
  • Lampshaded in the case of Desperate Dan of the British The Dandy comic: his stubble, like everything else about him, is super-tough, so removing it is very, very hard. It also grows back super-fast.
  • In Fables Bigby Wolf has to constantly shave because of his ancestry. This becomes a minor plot point in one issue because members of the SS were expected to be clean shaven and Bigby needed to impersonate one.
  • Gen, Miyamoto Usagi's bounty hunter friend. Also Sanshobo.
  • In the '90s, and in certain titles over the past year or so, you could expect any male over the age of eighteen who didn't already have a full beard or goatee to sport this, usually in either Marvel or Image comics. Practically the only one to escape was Captain America.
  • Comicbook representations of Soontir Fel seem to veer around this interestingly. As a youth pre-conscription, he was clean-shaven. After gaining some renown as a fighter pilot and starting to teach more pilots he grew a very neat goatee. But as various things happened and he lost faith in the Empire, he started getting more and more stubbly. He tended to have stubble after defecting, too. Not all the time, but, for example, there's a point when all of the Rogues are cut off from civilization for long enough that all of the human males grow stubble. A few scenes later, everyone but Fel has found time to shave. Yet he never has an actual beard.
  • The Swoofs from The Smurfs story "The Astro Smurf" (and its Animated Adaptation) have what appears to be a ring of Fred Flintstone stubble around their mouths, though it could also simply be Tribal Face Paint. Even Swoofette, who is Smurfette in disguise, has it!
    • In the app game Smurfs Village, the stubble patch around the Swoofs' mouths is much darker.
  • Both Jesse Custer and Cassidy from Preacher are this for the majority of the series.
  • Moses "Blackjak" Fisk of the second Atari Force series has a fully-formed mustache amidst a face full of stubble.

    Comic Strips 
  • Back in The '70s, the Israeli comic strip Dry Bones joked about Yasser Arafat's stubble. "Does he only appear in public on the third day after shaving? Does he have a faulty electric razor? How does Yasser do it?!?"

    Fan Works 
  • MonsterVerse fanfiction Abraxas: The Russian Colonel Badass who helps to combat Ghidorah-derived monsters, Lieutenant Commander Pasternak, has a five o'clock shadow that's turning into the beginnings of a short beard.

  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter was stuck with this because he couldn't afford shaving supplies or the time to do it while swinging around New York as Spider-Man. Izuku eventually manages to nudge Peter into visiting a public bath to shave with Hisashi's leftover shaving products. Peter misses a few spots out of embarrassment for doing this in view of other naked guys.

    Films — Animation 
  • Joaquin from The Book of Life appears to have a five o' clock shadow.
  • All male hyenas from The Lion King, most notably Banzai and Ed, for some reason have perma-stubble, which is simply a patch of darker fur around the muzzle.
  • If you look closely in Megamind, Megamind has perma-stubble when masquerading as Bernard. Justified, since Bernard had 5 o'clock shadow when Megamind scanned him with the disguise watch.
  • The Road to El Dorado: Spanish con men Tulio and Miguel spend days wandering through the Amazon, with no visible access to soap, let alone shaving supplies. Tulio's perma-stubble look stays immaculate through the entire film.
  • In Turning Red, Mr. Kieslowski has a five o'clock shadow in all his appearances.
  • Ralph in Wreck-It Ralph. Living in the dump doesn't give you access to a razor, so this is kind of inevitable. It's not very visible as far as Perma Stubbles go; in fact, his 8-bit appearance lacks it entirely.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Clint Eastwood. Although, in the Dollars Trilogy, it's on the edge of becoming a full beard.
  • Toshiro Mifune plays a gruff and disheveled samurai in various films who usually goes unshaven. Mifune often sticks his arm up through his collar to absently rub his stubbly chin, which has become an iconic image for the actor and the character.

  • Batman is sporting this in both his identities in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Berlin Syndrome: Andi is always unshaven but arguably doesn't have enough facial hair to qualify for a beard.
  • John McClane of the Die Hard series has the shaved head variety in the fourth film.
  • Escape from New York: Snake Plissken, though the film takes place over a single night, so naturally it never changes.
  • Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Mark spends the entire movie in the liminal space between "clean-shaven" and "bearded."
  • Harry Potter: The title character alternates between this and clean-shaven in the last three films. In Deathly Hallows, it's understandable since he and his friends are on the run from Voldemort's regime and living in the woods. Lampshaded by Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince when he says to Harry, "You need a shave" before they leave Hogwarts and follows it with a He's All Grown Up monologue.
  • Indiana Jones has this in all four films. He might START clean shaven, but as soon as he puts on the Hat, he has at least 3 days growth. It's lampshaded in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: "Shorty, where's my razor?" Probably the modern Trope Codifier.
  • Snow in Lockout has stubble. Sexy, sexy stubble.
  • MonsterVerse: Mark Russell in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) (in which he's one of the main protagonists) and Godzilla vs. Kong is a cynical, Good is Not Nice if comparatively competent character on the heroes' side who has a five o'clock shadow.
  • Jeff Speakman in The Perfect Weapon sports a five o'clock shadow that's actually just painted on.
  • Colter Stevens has perma-stubble in Source Code, even when the person he's inhabiting is clean-shaven. Which might be justified by the concept of "residual self-image": Colter simply remembers himself looking like that.
  • Nearly every Terminator movie has an example. Kyle Reese in The Terminator, John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation, and most of the resistance in Salvation including Marcus Wright.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • Aragorn of The Lord of the Rings has about two weeks of stubble for three films, until he becomes king and instantly grows a regal beard. Elves can't grow beards, so the stubble works as a symbol that he's an outsider among them and not comfortable with the fact.
    • Kíli in The Hobbit retains the exact same stubble length for the entirety of the first two movies.
  • The low-budget movie Trancers is a rare instance where the explanation is shown on screen. Jack Deth used futuristic technology to jump into his ancestor's body 300 years earlier. When he jumped, his ancestor had his face lathered up and was about to shave. Since Jack didn't know anything about twentieth-century shaving methods, he just wiped the foam off his face and went unshaven for the rest of the movie.
  • Perky Goth Manchild Gary King in The World's End sports (highly untidy) facial hair, which coupled with his generally ungroomed appearance shows what a self-destructive lifestyle will do to you. He's clean-shaven — and sober — by the end of the movie.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Hank has light stubble throughout the movie which is meant to make him look older than his clean-shaven appearance in First Class.
      • Sunspot sports a 5 o'clock shadow, making him unique among the Free Mutants.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Charles has faint stubble instead of being clean-shaven (which is his regular look in the franchise), and at first, it seems to convey to the audience that he hasn't fully reclaimed his heroic Professor X identity. He's a relaxed, content principal, teacher, and low-key mutant activist, not a commander of a paramilitary group like in X-Men: First Class. However, once he decides that it's necessary for him to step up his role as a leader of mutants, he still keeps the extra facial hair—this illustrates that James McAvoy's character is "rougher-around-the-edges" than Patrick Stewart's in the original timeline. Xavier's stubble is also a Shout-Out to Detective James "Sonny" Crockett from Miami Vice.note 


In General:

  • In many variants of Our Vampires Are Different (Such as Anne Rice's), vampires can't change the length of their hair, because their regeneration simply causes it to grow back to the original length in minutes. Hence, they're stuck with whatever hair-length they had when they were "turned". Thus, for a vampire, having perma-stubble could actually be justified.

By Work:

  • Discworld
    • Nobby Nobbs is described in one book as "clean-shaven. At least, he was clean-shaven the last time he shaved."
    • Commander Vimes is also often described as badly shaved, and is the Disc's gritty action hero. Like Fitz, below, his father died when he was young, and he insists on shaving himself because then he sees Sam Vimes in the mirror; if he had a servant do it, he'd see the Duke of Ankh.
  • Fitz Kreiner, from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, has a more realistic variant — he's just bad at shaving.note  So he's often described as stubbly. It suits him, as he's an Action Survivor.
  • True to its hardboiled roots, the hero of The Dresden Files is often described as having a light stubbly beard, though the length of said facial hair occasionally fluctuates. While any sort of stubble is noticeably absent from nearly all the cover art, the first few graphic novel adaptations had a hairier Harry more in line with the books' descriptions.
  • In The Hunger Games, Blight is always seen with his scruffy beard.
  • The Legend of Drizzt: Artemis Enteri is described as having a stubbled beard that "no amount of shaving could ever lighten."
  • Bendel, from Pettersson & Bendel.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Stannis sports a beard that is trimmed so short, it's just a shadow along his jaw.
    • Lower class, sellsword Bronn has a stubble of a beard. It's a shock to Tyrion to see him freshly shaven.
  • Lawrence from Spice and Wolf is consistantly depicted with a freshly growing beard.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Rhythm of War, Shallan notes that she's never seen her assosciate Vathah cleanshaven, but he's also never grown a full beard. As a result, he looks "rough" compared to the rest of the Lightweavers.
  • Time Scout's Kit Carson always sports a little mustache, but when things go to hell during Ripper Season, he ends up with manly stubble.
  • In John R. Powers' The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God, the main character, Tim Conroy, describes his pal Bill Weatherly thusly:
    Weatherly was a rather strange fellow. He always had what appeared to be a three-day growth of beard, which meant that he must have gotten up every morning and shaved off one day’s growth.
  • Lampshaded in Warbreaker, where Vasher's perpetual beard stubble leads Vivenna to wonder if he actively trims it too look like that. It's eventually revealed to be literal perma-stubble; Vasher's a Returned, which means his appearance changes only if he actively wills it to.
  • Wolf Hall: Cromwell mentally comments that More's busy schedule of hair shirts and self-flagellation must take away time from shaving.
  • In An Unkindness of Ghosts, nearly every upperdeck man who doesn't have a full beard keeps his face stubbled. Theo's clean-shavenness makes him a rare violator of the norm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the signs that Wesley on Angel Took a Level in Badass is when he grew some stubble, though it started out as a Beard of Sorrow.
  • On Arrow, Oliver sports that after some time spent on the island. He's shown to grow it into a beard by the time he's rescued and then keeps the stubble once he gets back to civilization. Also during the island days, Slade had some stubble that he probably keeps in check thanks to one of his many blades.
  • Mitchell from Being Human. He even shows up to an interview with a few days' worth of stubble.
  • Booth from Bones.
  • Burn Notice:
    • Michael Westen grows a five-o'clock shadow in the second season mid-finale. This episode he portrays a hard-drinking bodyguard to catch the attention of a would-be kidnapper. It fits the character personality, but also makes him that much more badass when he "gets religion" and fights back.
    • Sam Axe never met a razor he liked. He gets called on it in the fourth season.
  • Jeff Winger on Community starting in season 3, possibly showing that Greendale has made him less uptight.
  • On CSI: NY, Danny Messer was originally clean-shaven, then grew a Beard of Sorrow after being shot in the back and temporarily paralyzed. Once he recovered, he traded it in for stubble for the remainder of the series.
  • Dark Angel's Logan Cale sports the unusual combination of Action Hero three-day stubble and Non-Action Guy glasses.
  • The title character on Dexter. He's shown shaving in every opening sequence, but we see no more than a few swipes at his neck, so he apparently cultivates the look intentionally.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Second Doctor has one, but it's to indicate scruffiness rather than badassness. His Criminal Doppelgänger Salamander, by contrast, has darker stubble indicating his relative sexiness compared to the Doctor.
    • The Tenth Doctor, which he seems to lampshade when he encounters the Fifth Doctor:
      The Doctor: Check out this bone structure, Doctor, because one day you're going to be shaving it!
  • Jayne Cobb on Firefly goes between this and an actual beard.
  • Peter Bishop from Fringe.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Master Torturer hasn't quite grown out his beard.
    • Jorah Mormont never really grows a full beard.
    • Stannis Baratheon, in lieu of his book counterpart's neatly-trimmed beard.
    • Balon Greyjoy is an abusive, hypocritical, self-serving asshole who's badly in need of a shave.
  • Luke Danes on Gilmore Girls, the grumpy bear and Lorelai's Will They or Won't They? Love Interest. Does he ever get a beard in the entire show? No, Luke looks best unshaven.
  • Dr. Derek Sheppard from Grey's Anatomy, which is probably the reason why he's nicknamed "Dr. McDreamy" by his fangirls. Also Alex, Jackson, and sometimes Mark.
  • Max Blum of Happy Endings, sometimes called "fuzzy face".
  • Sylar, the brain-stealing supervillain from Heroes. In his meek Clark Kentish persona Gabriel Gray, he is clean-shaven and wears glasses. As soon as he manifested his powers and learned that Evil Feels Good, he grew stubble. (Well, alright, not immediately. But the only time we see him shaving off the stubble is when he visits his mother, who didn't know what her son had been up to.)
    • Peter jumped between being clean-shaven and stubbly in Season 1, which became non-existent in Season 2, returned with a vengeance in Volume Four, and hasn't seemed to disappear since. Also, Future Peter 1.0 was made of this.
    • Mohinder also had stubble much of the time. Future!Mohinder as of "Five Years Gone" replaced this with a full beard (and glasses).
  • House:
    • House always looks disheveled, a combination of his disability and his personality. The stubble is lampshaded in several episodes. Then in one episode, House actually shaves his face clean, and the result (and character reaction) is so jarring that he looks like a stranger, highlighting how much the stubble is associated with his character. On another occasion, Dr. Wilson tells him, "I lied. I've been lying to you in increasing amounts ever since I told you you looked good unshaved a year ago."
    • In later seasons, Dr. Chase got some stubble too, causing many of his fangirls to squeal in delight.
  • House of the Dragon: King Viserys isn't particularly action-oriented himself. Rather, his perma stubble is a shorter sort of Beard of Sorrow, or at least definitely becomes one after he loses his beloved wife Aemma.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): If a man has stubble when he's transformed into a vampire, his facial hair is immutable because he'll never be able to get rid of it or grow new hair again, as demonstrated by Lestat de Lioncourt and Louis de Pointe du Lac.
  • The titular character from Jack Ryan, as played by John Krasinski, lurches between degrees of this depending on the season. First season; he flips between clean and noticeable five o’clock shadow. Second; heavy stubble that turns into full-grown beard by the end. Third; lighter stubble that stays consistent throughout the season.
  • The titular character from Jack Taylor, as played by Iain Glen. Lampshaded by his mother, who asks if he's ever shaved.
  • Cyrus Lupo from Law & Order, particularly since Ed Green left and he's now the senior partner.
    • Though in 20.12 the Lt called him on it, telling him (and the junior) to get a shave because he was not in Fallujah any more.
  • Cal Lightman of Lie to Me is rarely shown clean-shaven.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • Halbrand sport a five o'clock shadow befitting his disheveled looks. Even after getting clean and an armor, he still keeps his stubble, resembling Aragorn.
    • Elendil has a neatly trimmed stubble befitting his noble roots.
  • Lost has an interesting case of this. Despite having very limited access to a razor, almost none of the males have grown beards. Maybe slowing down the growth of facial hair is yet another special quality of the island. The rest is covered under Improbable Hairstyle.
    • Though Locke is shown shaving his head in the hatch.
    • Jack's stubble is actually parodied in a sketch on MADtv (1995). Apparently, the only razor Jack has access to is a sharpened seashell which apparently only keeps his beard at 5 o'clock shadow.
    • On more than one occasion characters have questioned Hurley's beard growing ability.
    • Charlie's stubble borders on a beard, although in a season three episode he is seen shaving it off.
    • Sawyer always rocks it.
  • Lucifer Morningstar in Lucifer (2016) has a permanent five-o'clock shadow, though this may be because his appearance is under his subconscious control. It threatens to become a Beard of Sorrow in S4 when Chloe goes to Europe for a month.
  • Don Draper of Mad Men has a permanent five-o'clock shadow (that gray color on his cheeks), even after being shaved by his barber.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Kilgrave in Jessica Jones (2015) has a permanent five o'clock shadow.
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • Matt Murdock almost always a few days' of stubble, even though he's an attorney and really out to look more professional. It's thought that he either doesn't often have enough time to shave, what with living two lives, or that his blindness makes it more difficult than it's worth to get a close shave.
      • Christian Blake, a corrupt cop on Wilson Fisk's payroll, has a five o'clock shadow.
  • Din Djarin in The Mandalorian has some patchy stubble during his sporadic unmasking scenes, implying that he removes his helmet so rarely, that he doesn't bother shaving.
  • Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice was probably the Trope Codifier. Electric shavers didn't even have a "stubble" setting before the show aired. That was introduced as a direct response to Sonny Crockett's popularity.
  • Dash from Minority Report (2015) is always seen with some peach fuzz.
  • Monday Mornings: Dr. Ty Wilson has a five o'clock shadow. He's played by Jamie Bamber and he's a major Hospital Hottie and Mr. Fanservice. Befitting for his character who is a brilliant neurosurgeon, Too Clever by Half, who messes up and goes through off-and-on Heroic Blue Screen of Death phase.
  • Callen from NCIS: Los Angeles.
  • Charlie on NUMB3RS has varying amounts of stubble throughout the show.
  • Perry Mason (2020): Perry starts off the series as a Shell-Shocked Veteran and Defective Detective who sports a few days' of stubble at all times. Only once he passes the bar and starts appearing in court does he show up completely clean shaven.
  • Shawn from Psych, who has actually woken up with less stubble than when he went to bed.
  • Dr. Cox on Scrubs sometimes. For the most part, he's clean-shaven. Though he did grow it out one season, and then J.D. started doing it.
  • Dr. Harry Cunningham from Silent Witness was clean-shaven for his first few seasons, then started sporting stubble and retained that look for the rest of his time on the show. It's entirely possible he made that choice so he'd finally stop being mistaken for a student.
  • John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis has a fluctuating level of stubble, but he is never fully without it.
    • Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1 had one for the first few episodes of season nine (allegedly it was to help tell him apart from Cam Mitchell who had just joined the show), but quickly went back to being clean-shaven. However, he was sporting stubble again in his final appearance in Stargate Universe.
  • Star Trek: Voyager invokes this trope in "Fair Haven". Janeway develops an interest in a holodeck character and tweaks his settings to be more her type. Among these changes, she first erases his beard, but then puts it back with specifically two days' growth.
  • Supernatural
    • Dean Winchester. This was done in part to make his actor, Jensen Ackles, look older than Jared Padalecki, the actor playing Dean's younger brother, Sam. To an extent, it's pretty necessary. Take a look at him in the seventeenth episode of the fourth season, where he's clean-shaven and looks about five years younger than he does in the rest of the episodes. There were some other factors at play there, but still.
    • Starting in season 8, Sam grew stubble, too.
    • Castiel. Justified in that he's an angel possessing a man and the body is either in stasis or Castiel maintains it the way it was when he took possession. The actor himself, Misha Collins, also seems to have a case of stubble too.
  • Taken: From "Dropping the Dishes" onwards, Charlie Keys has this level of facial hair.
  • Teen Wolf: Derek, after the first couple of episodes.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Derek Reese has what is dubbed a "permanent three-day growth".
    • Kyle has some as well, even as a hallucinated ghost.
  • The Walking Dead (2010): Rick spends the first few seasons of the show with a case of stubble that takes quite a while to graduate into something that could be called a beard. In later seasons, however, he's got a definite beard that ranges in length, sometimes straying pretty far into mountain man territory.
  • Agent Steve Jinks on Warehouse 13 has a permanent 5 o' clock shadow, in contrast to clean-shaven Pete and goatee-sporting Artie.
  • On Wolf Hall, Sir Thomas More has a perpetual two-days beard. The effect is to make him look slovenly rather than tough, part of the general subversion of More's mainstream image conveyed through A Man for All Seasons.


  • Invoked and parodied with the main character in the Podcast Sci-Fi Radio Drama Log of the Crimson Lien. He's descended from genetically-altered humans, and, as a result, has extremely sparse and slow hair growth. Years upon years of not shaving has still only resulted in a 5 o'clock shadow, which he keeps because he thinks it makes him look like a rugged space adventurer.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 

  • Avenue Q: Nicky, the slacker roommate of uptight Rod, subtly has a permanent stubble on the chin. It looks more dirty after Rod evicts him.

    Video Games 
  • The officer outfit for the Herald of Insight of Bloodline Champions shows how he must be deserved that rank (in an Rank Scales with Asskicking manner) with this.
  • As of Devil May Cry 4, Dante has one. Oddly, it's a different color from the rest of his hair. It's uncommon, but not unheard of, for facial hair to come in a different color than the rest of a man's hair. Supposedly, Dante's hair color actually was originally brown until his demon bloodline kicked in, though this still doesn't explain why it only changed from the eyebrows up. It's more prominent in Devil May Cry 5 since Dante is now roughly middle-age.
    • Although the game only takes place over a couple of days. Evening One: Dante kills Sanctus, everything in the town except the Berial fight. Night One: Nero fights Berial, everything in the castle. Day Two: Everything in the forest and headquarters for both Dante and Nero. Night Two: Dante's leg of the castle and fight with Berial. Day Three: Dante kills Agnus and the final battle.
  • The characters in Street Fighter II were given a minor makeover in the Champion Edition, and one of those was giving a shadow to Ryu.
  • If you look hard enough at the large posters, you can see that Assassin's Creed protagonist Altair has stubble.
  • Several of the Team Fortress 2 classes namely: The Heavy, The Soldier, The Sniper, The Engineer and The Spy (or what little you can see through his mask) look as if they haven't shaven in a week. As for the others, while the Medic has a shadow enough to show he's a man who shaved yesterday, the Scout is so devoid of facial hair that it's as if his balls haven't even dropped yet. The Demoman has a fine bushy beard that seems to be a style choice, and the Pyro is none of your damn business.
  • When Solid Snake's being an angsty self-proclaimed bastard in the first Metal Gear Solid, he's clean-shaven. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, when he's being far more personable and open, cue a shadow—apparently to invoke a vagrant living on a miserable budget, according to the character designer. Interestingly enough, an Easter Egg allows Raiden to give Snake a shaver as a present right at the start of the game, which causes him to be clean-shaven towards the end. You just have to find it first. (His friend Otacon also has stubble, but that's more about being an unkempt Otaku than a badass.)
    • In the Metal Gear Solid graphic novel, the artist draws Snake smooth-faced at the start of the story, gritty towards the middle, and with a young beard towards the end (and on the cover of the PSP version), suggesting he just grows facial hair very quickly.
  • As a gentle send-up of the Action Movie Hero type, Double H from Beyond Good & Evil sports stubble.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The default facial preset for a male Commander Shepard—which is a head-scan of Dutch fashion model Mark Vanderloo—has an impressive one of these, as well as a variation of stubble available for customized faces.
    • Shepard's lieutenant, Kaidan Alenko, also has this. It's even more apparent with the third installment's improved textures.
    • Joker has one that's on its way to becoming a beard. In the first game, he even jokes he'll have to turn down a medal because the brass will want him to shave, which is not going to happen as he's "spent seven weeks working on this baby".
  • Another one from BioWare: Carth Onasi has a case of this.
  • Volke, an assassin in the Fire Emblem series, has stubble in Path of Radiance. He also happens to be one of the most badass and wittiest characters in the game. In the sequel, Radiant Dawn, he's wearing a scarf that covers his chin, but he exchanges the stubble for even more badass lines.
  • Henry and Walter of Silent Hill 4 are in dire need of a razor.
    • To be fair, Henry has way bigger problems to deal with, and Walter...well, he's Walter.
  • Silent Hill: Downpour: Murphy Pendleton, being a convict, probably hasn't had a good shave in a while even before he got stuck in Silent Hill.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Auron in Final Fantasy X has a short growth the entire game. It's almost like he's not aging... Given that his character design is in many ways a callback to the samurai archetype often played by Toshiro Mifune, it's no surprise that he would share the laxness toward shaving as well.
    • Snow Villiers of Final Fantasy XIII. Unlike many examples, he's a proper (idiot) hero from a small town. Fittingly, his blonde hair makes his stubble a bit more subtle.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV's character creation menu, although most faces (for all races) are clean shaven (with full-grown beards and moustaches under the "facial features" setting), male Hyur Midlanders have one exception: option 7 is just Perma-Stubble added to option 5. Incidentally, these options are based off the "Meteor Survivor" player stand-in from the CG trailers, who started out clean-shaven in the Legacy opening, but picked up stubble for Stormblood and never found a razor.
    • Ardyn of Final Fantasy XV is portrayed with stubble in his older age. Official art showing him as a young man showed him with a full beard. Also subverts the usual use of the trope, as he's not just a villain but the Big Bad of the game.
  • Torn of the Jak and Daxter series seems to have this, though it's lighter than the rest of his skin...a five o'clock AM shadow?
  • Ryotaro Dojima of Persona 4, though given how he's characterized it's more a sign that he's overworked and stressed out by his job as a detective.
  • Calvin, the Adventurer Archaeologist and an eligible bachelor from Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade, has stubble.
  • Bishop from Neverwinter Nights 2. This detail is even mentioned in his in-game description, probably to underscore his polar-opposition to Casavir, who is clean-shaven.
  • Again with BioWare, Alistair of Dragon Age: Origins (also an example of Mr. Fanservice), though somewhat unusually his is blond. Most non-bearded male NPCs are also stubbly unless they're elves. The sequel also has stubble on Varric (an unusual non-bearded dwarf) and Anders (who has brown stubble despite his blond hair; perhaps he bleaches?). As of Inquisition, Cullen has perpetual five o'clock shadow and bags under his eyes, despite his romance's "Disney Prince" reputation.
  • Raven from Tales of Vesperia.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Geralt and most of the men in the setting have stubble to various degrees. Geralt is unique in that you can actually shave him, or let his beard grow, or anywhere in between. If you do shave him, it's never quite a clean shave, as is what happens when someone only uses a single blade.
  • Batman again, in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Actually, he begins the game clean-shaven and winds up with stubble by the time it's over. Which in the timeframe, was probably all of one night (but maybe his facial hair does grow that fast).
    • Though we have no idea how long Batman tangled with the Joker before he brought him into Arkham.
    • In Batman: Arkham Origins, he shows impressive foresight by having stubble at the very beginning of the game, meaning he doesn't have to grow it over the night.
  • The Sims 2 allows you to configure your characters with stubble — which is relatively tame, considering that the same function allows you to change your hair color and length, longer OR shorter.
  • Glas from Fear Effect has stubble in both games, as well as the cancelled third game.
  • Angeal Hewley from Crisis Core, in contrast to the baby-faced Bishonens Genesis, Sephiroth, and Zack.
  • John Marston from Red Dead Redemption has one.
  • In Red Dead Redemption II, Arthur's default facial hair is a five o'clock shadow that you can either choose to grow or shave.
  • If you don't have York shave in Deadly Premonition, he can eventually grow a full-blown beard. However, no matter how often you do make use of that razor, he always has a permanent five-o-clock shadow.
  • Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell. Also, if you horse around too long on missions, he'll eventually grow a thicker one.
  • Ethan Seed, the Bastard Bastard of Joseph Seed in Far Cry: New Dawn, has a considerably hairless face compared to the Beard of Evil sported by his father, and to his bearded uncles John and Jacob from the previous game. It's one of the reasons Ethan is a less popular villain than the rest of the Seeds.
  • Isaac Clarke from Dead Space.
  • Soap MacTavish from Modern Warfare.
  • Jacques Blanc from Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. He was granted the oni power, allowing him to use whip-based weapons. Bonus points because he is modeled after Jean Reno.
  • Eoleo shows up to Golden Sun: Dark Dawn in stubble. His career indicates the action anti-hero interpretation, but the fact that he's an adult player character in a series full of teenage heroes probably contributes to it, too.
  • Averted in Max Payne 3, as Max starts the game with some stubble and ends it with a full beard and a shaved head.
  • Beginning in Tekken 3, which takes place after a 20-year Time Skip, Paul Phoenix started sporting some gruff-looking stubble in addition to his Anime Hair. Video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly said it made him look "older and angrier" in their Tekken 3 preview, which is a good assessment.
  • Chris Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy from Resident Evil have both adopted a scruffy look in the more recent games. It seems that the BSAA doesn't have any regulations concerning facial hair, in spite of being a military organization that responds to bio-hazardous incidents.
  • In Halo: Reach, Jorge is the only Spartan to have a substantial amount of stubble, being the oldest and most experienced member of Noble Team.
  • The protagonist of Disco Elysium has a blue-tinted shadow on his Lantern Jaw of Justice, between his massive muttonchops. If the player chooses to have him shave the chops, the whole of his lower face will have that heavy blue tint.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In the fourth game, Phoenix Wright sports one, signifying his significant change in life and personality.
    • Gumshoe has this, along with a perpetual bandage over what is presumably a shaving cut. Since everyone in the games only has one sprite (unless time travel or costume change is involved), he never changes.
    • Detective Badd, in Ace Attorney Investigations, probably because he's designed to resemble your stereotypical Hardboiled Detective.
  • Spirit Hunter series:
    • In Spirit Hunter: Death Mark, two of the appearance options for the protagonist have him with a scruff of facial hair. Rather than marking him as a badass, though, it instead shows him as an unkempt, amnesiac drifter.
    • The protagonist from Spirit Hunter: NG can also have facial hair which, in contrast to Death Mark, highlights his blunt, badass personality.
  • Motomi from Togainu no Chi. Although all the other males in Toshima are clean-shaven...

    Web Animation 
  • Robbie from Eddie at The LMV is the shortest in the band (even the female members are taller), so he has stubble to look as old as everyone else.
  • RWBY: General James Ironwood was originally a clean-shaven man. However, since the fall of Beacon, he has been sporting an unshaven look, with the stubble reaching all the way up to his cheek bones. He's been run ragged. By the time of Volume 7, it's grown into a full Beard of Sorrow.

  • Toivo, Larry's gay Neanderthal best friend in Groovy, Kinda When Toivo's pirate double, Mancanilla, shows up, their stubble is identical even though one was freshly shaved and the other was trying to grow a beard.
  • A shepherd in Erstwhile has stubble, presumably to show that he's, well, just a shepherd. He doesn't even appear clean-shaven at the heroine's wedding.
  • Dimo the Jaegermonster from Girl Genius is a badass, and he has the stubble to match. The exception being the time he was made to clean up for a ball. While his (unseen) evil dimension counterpart apparently had two goatees.
  • Displayed by semi-fallen angel Rumisiel in Misfile, in stark contrast to his clean-shaven boy scout of a brother. It suits his stoner/slacker persona quite well.
  • Stubble Comics.
  • {...} of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has one, since he's...well...dead. He's also a master of deadpan sarcasm and very protective of his friends. Doc Worth also has stubble, although in his case it's less badass and more because he doesn't care enough about his appearance to shave it.
  • Ronin Galaxy: Giancarlo's goatee isn't the neatest one, its surrounded by plenty of stubble.
  • Rocko Sasquatch in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. He learns that he is actually a Bigfoot who was exiled for being born bald; ironically, his beard and eyebrows are the only significant hair on his body.
  • Several of the characters in Stubble Trouble are permanently bald (they're furries who like to shave off their fur; try to figure that one out).
  • Commander Badass of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things (though a couple of days without shaving gives him a full beard).
  • The Fox Sister: Alex sports a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow.
  • Accursed Dragon: Coven has this once his curse weakens enough for him to grow facial hair. Later on, he grows it out into a beard.
  • Hartwig from Ashface's Daughter sports one of these.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Aberration that looks like an Australian has this in his human form, to complement the "Crocodile Dundee" look.

    Web Videos 
  • RedLetterMedia: Mike Stoklasa regularly sports a trimmed beard that is so short that it's essentially two days' growth of stubble.
  • Though he's clean-shaven on occasion, The Spoony One is most often seen with a face full of stubble.
  • Paw Dugan. Especially prominent in that close-up of his mouth from his Hedwig and the Angry Inch review.
  • Roger from Men in Blazers has stubble thick enough to be a light beard.
  • Ethan from H 3 H 3 Productions. He calls it a "patchy beard".
  • Built up in The Autobiography of Jane Eyre when it came to Mr. Rochester, who inherited a family company and should be a serious businessman, but has a tattoo and wears striped socks with skinny jeans. In the tenth episode, he was only shown from the waist down, but then in the next episode, his face is revealed ... with a face full of stubble.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Parodied with Tiffany Oiler, a goblin boy who has perpetual teen-boy peach-fuzz on his face.
  • Bruce Banner in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (but not the Hulk, strangely enough).
  • In one episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter's Mom comments to his Dad, that he looks especially rugged today. Dad replies that it's because he hasn't shaved for a couple of days.
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy wishes to be an action hero. He instantly gets muscular and has a five-o'clock shadow.
  • Fred Flintstone from The Flintstones, Homer's spiritual ancestor. It shows his rather uncultured look rather than implying a sexy look.
  • Futurama: Bender grows rust around his mouth when he doesn't drink. This is a display of Fridge Brilliance since alcohol and effervescent drinks can be mildly acidic, and acid is a rust remover.
    • Knowing the writers of Futurama, the odds of this being a coincidence are virtually nil.
  • "Grunkle" Stanford Pines from Gravity Falls.
  • Hoss Delgado from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
  • In The Jetsons, George Jetson sports this look for some reason, even though he lives in the future where anything can be done at a push at a button.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: K'nuckles is blue. For the most part, the series is content to let you assume that he's an example of Amazing Technicolor Population in a series that otherwise lacks the trope...except for one episode that implies it's some sort of stubble-wig he puts on every morning.
  • Matrix from ReBoot.
  • Regular Show: Benson's gumballs are meant to resemble this.
  • Stu Pickles in Rugrats.
  • Homer Simpson of The Simpsons, though, in his case, it's more to accentuate his low-brow nature. If he shaves, it still grows back in a matter of seconds. In Three Gays of the Condo he shaves off his muzzle by accident at one point and uses a spray-on can of stubble to replace it.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Clone trooper Jesse has a perpetual face full of stubble.
  • Chris on Total Drama. He temporarily clean shaven in "A Blast From the Past", but regains his stubble in the next episode.
  • Pete on Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race.
  • If we wanna argue robotic facial hair, one could say that Transformers: Animated Ratchet has what at least looks like stubble. Even without the three little dents that are consistently drawn on his face, the area around his mouth is colored purplish-blue, like five o' clock shadow.
  • TUGS: Big Mac, Zebedee, and Johnny Cuba all have this look.
  • Colonel Hunter Gathers from The Venture Bros. maintains his perma-stubble even after getting a sex change operation.

    Real Life 
  • Certain men (and particularly certain ethnic groups) have facial hair anatomy such that it is extremely difficult to shave cleanly. This is particularly true for men of African descent whose hair grows in at a narrow angle. Shaving can also actually be more dangerous for such people since closely trimming hair at such a narrow angle makes it far more likely for the hair to become ingrown. While some of these people do diligently shave anyway (particularly if they are a minority in cultures that have a taboo against facial hair), they never quite look clean-shaven.
  • Some people's facial hair just grows very, very slowly, meaning that it could take as much as a week before you actually notice it has gotten longer. The opposite is also true. Coarse, dark facial hair against very pale skin is nearly impossible to wipe off short of removing the top layer of facial skin. The end result of a normal shave is a near-permanent five o'clock shadow. (Jon Hamm is a good example. He's almost always clean-shaven on Mad Men, but never entirely loses the shadow.)
  • Some men who usually maintain full beards will choose a five o'clock shadow look during the warmer months as a cooler alternative and as a way to bypass the "itchy" phase of beard growth when they wish to grow it back.
  • Even without any of the above reason, using electric hair clippers with a short spacer permits maintaining a neat, even stubble for far less effort than shaving clean.
  • Richard Nixon's stubble was so apparent that he had to shave two or three times a day throughout his public life to avoid looking slovenly. For his 1960 presidential debate against John F. Kennedy, Nixon used a makeup powder called "Lazy Shave" ("Hides the beard!") to hide his five o'clock shadow. It looked terrible. The contrast between sweaty, grizzly-chinned Nixon and handsome, tanned Kennedy is widely believed to have decided the outcome of the very close 1960 election.