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- Cap'n Crunch, in one commercial where he uses his hat as a boomerang to take out the Soggies, reveals that he has a curious case of male pattern baldness.
- This is lampshaded in a later commercial spot where two boys are offering color commentary for the above commercial. They imply he might be cooler if he ditched his captain's hat - and then he takes it off to defend the crunchberry bush. Their reaction?
Boy 1: Dude, check out the 'do.
Both: Keep the hat! Keep the hat!
- This is lampshaded in a later commercial spot where two boys are offering color commentary for the above commercial. They imply he might be cooler if he ditched his captain's hat - and then he takes it off to defend the crunchberry bush. Their reaction?
Anime and Manga
- In the case of Ibiki Morino from Naruto, he rarely takes his bandanna off... and once you see the HORRIBLE scars underneath, you'll wish he never ever does it again. And yes, he's the one pictured above. He takes it off to show what it really means to be a ninja: as the top covert operations specialist, he has endured great torture without giving up secrets. Even Sasuke is all "eugh" at the sight.
- Da Chief Inspector Meguire from Detective Conan never takes his hat off. It turns out he keeps it on at all times because he has an ugly scar from where he was injured on a case... the same one in which he met his wife Midori..
- The Millennium Earl in D.Gray-Man always wears a jaunty hat to hide the pair of devil horns under it.
- Why does Karasawa in Daily Lives of High School Boys always wear a cap? It's to cover a large scar on his forehead courtesy of the girl who lives next door.
- Celty Strulsen from Durarara!! is understandably reluctant to take her helmet off anywhere outside her own apartment, what with the headlessness and all.
- Holy hell,◊ Jagi! The main purpose of his helmet is to KEEP HIS HEAD FROM EXPLODING. It's not a pretty sight once the helmet and underlying bracer come off.
- Inverted in one of Mozguz's torture squad in Berserk: when he removes his plague-doctor mask, he's a Bishōnen (contrasting with the other deformed mooks). However, it turns out he wears it because of an allergy to sunlight, causing him to burst into flames if uncovered.
- In Pokémon Adventures, Ruby wears his iconic hat to hide a scar that he got fighting a wild Salamence barehanded to impress a pretty girl who turns out to be Sapphire in the backstory.
- Masamunya from "The Gothic World of Nyanpire" doesn't like removing his helmet.In the end of episode 11, Nyanpire and friends are busy Trick or Treating and they wonder who that person is. He then removes his Halloween costume to reveal it was Masamunya dressed up.◊ Judging by his reaction, it's a good reason why he never takes his Samurai helmet off.
- ElfQuest's Nightfall has perfectly normal (though voluminous) hair, but always keeps it under a headscarf except when she's literally letting her hair down.
- In the last issue of Buster, the title character removed his hat for the first time, to reveal that without it he looked exactly like Dennis the Menace (UK). Buster had to keep it on for copyright reasons.
Howard: My lawyers tell my I've always been wearing these pants.
- Similarly, Howard the Duck started wearing pants because he looked too much like Donald Duck otherwise (though in universe it was portrayed as the act of Moral Guardians).
- In the Radioactive Man comic book spinoff from The Simpsons, the titular hero has a lightning-bolt shaped shard stuck in his head, which he hides under a hat in his Secret Identity.
- Vaughn Bode's Cheech Wizard, whose floppy wizard's hat covers him down to his navel, is ordered to remove it by some police and a priest - when he does, they lapse into a comatose state at the sight. In a later strip he mentions this to a girl who wants to see what he looks like. She persists and he obliges her, warning "okay, here goes, but I bet you go blind!"...and the last panel is a total blank.
- Deadpool is horribly scarred all over his body as the result of the process through which he got his powers. When this idea was first introduced, it was given as the reason why he had never been seen previously without his costume (which covers every inch of his body, like Spider-Man's) on. Over the years, he's varied between always wearing his costume even in private and warning anyone who asks him to remove it that they won't like what they see to walking around in casual clothing as if he doesn't realize (or doesn't care) that he's unpleasant to look at, Depending on the Writer and/or artist. He is insane, though, so the degree to which his condition bothers him may actually change from day to day.
- Deadpool's actual scarring changes from time to time as well. Justified in that his healing factor keeps regenerating his decaying flesh randomly.
- In the early 1950s, when Beetle Bailey was still a college student, he removed his hat exactly once in the classroom. The professor told him to put it back on.
- Doonesbury. B.D. has been wearing some manner of helmet for decades. When it's finally removed, it is...quite normal hair and he wasn't sure what the big deal had been.
- One storyline in Get Fuzzy has Rob accidentally going bald when Bucky puts hair removal cream in the shampoo. He spends his period of baldness with a baseball hat on, except when showing Joe what happened. At that point, a coworker looks alarmed and tells him, "Woah! Keep the lid on, Kojack!"
- Happens in a Peanuts strip when Peppermint Patty wears her ski cap into class. Her teacher tells her to take it off, but when she does, her hair is so wild and unruly that she is immediately told to put it back on.
Films — Animated
- In The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a policeman removes his old-fashioned British police helmet to reveal that his head is the same shape as the helmet.
- Meet the Robinsons: Lewis had to do this to avoid revealing his identity to Wilbur's family. Why? Because he's Wilbur's father.
- The Princess and the Frog: Yes, everybody loves Dr. Facilier's personality and style, but when he takes off his Nice Hat... his hair has the same form. And we're talking about a top hat.
- The Spongebob Squarepants Movie: King Neptune from the movie needs to keep his crown on at all times, because his thinning head painfully blinds everyone who sees it. Another reason, of course, is that he's in permanent denial about being bald.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars:
- Darth Vader is probably the most popular example of this. In The Empire Strikes Back, we see the back of Vader's bald, scarred head. In the next movie we see that from the front. He can only survive without the helmet if he's in that meditation chamber we saw in ESB.
- In The Phantom Menace for most of the film, Darth Maul's hood hides his horns.
- Played with in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, there is a running gag where every time someone mentions that Scott might need a haircut, his goofy hat will be on his head in the very next shot.
- The Adjustment Bureau. All the bad guys tend to wear hats... because their crazy bad guy teleportation won't work without them.
- In Men in Black 3, Griffin, a fifth-dimensional being that takes the form of a Cloud Cuckoolander constantly wears a wool toque, except for one scene, where he reveals that his head is mostly a fleshy framework surrounding a glowing blue orb.
- In Cannibal! The Musical, the prospectors are drying themselves by the campfire after failing to ford a river. Humphrey struggles to remove his earflapped cap, and after it comes off with a loud pop, the others stare agape at his humungous ginger afro.
- After completing the wedding ceremony, the groom asks the priest how much he owes. The priest replies that it is traditional to make a donation based on the beauty of the bride. The groom looks embarassed, and pulls a dollar out of his pocket. The priest then lifts up the bride's veil, digs around in his pocket, and gives the groom three quarters, saying "Here's your change".
- In Artemis Fowl Turnball gets badly hurt and "dies" from plasma. When he is revealed to be alive, he has very bad scarring on his head.
- All the illustrations of Captain Sam Vimes from the Discworld stories show him wearing the Watch regulation helmet, except in Where's My Cow? (a defictionalization of Sam Jr.'s favorite book), where Vimes is shown without his helmet and with a corresponding case of greasy-looking helmet hair. But that's probably only that artist. Paul Kidby depicts Vimes with short, tousled, unremarkable hair that couldn't grease down like that if he tried. And according to Feet of Clay he's actually starting to go bald.
- In Always Running a confessional novel about Mexican gangster in California at the end Luis meets a disturbed man who has lots of disgusting scars on top of his head that he hides with a beanie hat because of gang warfare.
- In one of the Sesame Street Manners Books (probably Grover's Guide to Good Manners), it states that it's okay to ask someone in front of you to remove his hat but the following illustration reveals that hat-wearer to have mass quantities of hair under the tiny little bowler hat he just removed.
- A similar visual gag was used in an old Woody Woodpecker cartoon.
- In Savages of Gor, Cabot meets a man who never takes his hat off. In Blood Brothers of Gor, we learn why: He had been scalped as a young adult.
- Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And it's not a usual example, he has a face on the back of his head. Not just any face either; it's the series wide Big Bad.
"Who's ever suspect p-p-poor st-st-stuttering Professor Q-q-quirrel?"
- The witches in...well, The Witches have wigs on all the time because witches are naturally bald and leaving them off would expose them for what they really are.
- Hadassah in book two of The Mark of the Lion takes to wearing veils 24/7. Ostensibly to hide her identity since shes supposed to be dead, even though she isnt at all well-known by sightand because, as one character points out, people tend to be disturbed when they see how she was brutally maimed by lions.
- In The Phantom of the Opera, the Phantom wears a mask to hide the fact that his face resembles a skull. The Reveal has become iconic, though the level of deformity varies between adaptations.
- Recurring supporting character Sam Hawkins in Karl May's Winnetou novels wears a shaggy gray wig all the time to cover the appropriately gruesome scars from the scalping he's survived in his backstory.
- The Father Brown story The Purple Wig revolves around this. A duke is famous for a purple wig, which he claims is to hide the hideously deformed ear that is the mark of shame for his family's crimes. Father Brown points out that, if he really wanted to hide the thing, he would wear a wig of an actual hair color and wouldn't go around telling his shame to everyone he met. It turns out that what he's really hiding is two perfectly normal ears - and a scar identifying him as the lawyer who defrauded the old duke out of his lands and title.
- Goosebumps: In You Can't Scare Me!, Hat (real name: Herbie) keeps his baseball cap on at all times. When finally exposed, his hair is plastered to his head to the point where it looks like wood, much to everyone's disgust. His following comment implies that he never washes it either, which explains a lot about its condition.
- A Different World had an episode where the guys gave Ron a really bad haircut while he was asleep as a joke. It was bad enough that the ROTC professor told him he could leave his hat on during class.
- Doctor Who: In "Time Crash", Ten is put off by (temporarily-aged) Five's bald spot:
Ten: Sorry, not something you see every day, the back of your own head. Mind you, I can see why you wear a hat. I don't mean to sound vain, but would you mind putting that back on?
- Firefly: It's more like "please keep your hair tie on", but River gets very frightened when Shepherd Book lets out his Compressed Hair. Even Zoe admits that it's alarming.
Zoe: River, honey, it's OK. He's putting the hair away now.
River: Doesn't matter. It'll still be there...waiting.
- Zydos from Gosei Sentai Dairanger looks rather freaky when finally seen sans headgear. He has two volcanoes atop his head. Also a Visual Pun on the phrase "cranial eruption".
- Leave It to Beaver: In the first season episode, "The Haircut", Beaver is hyped about playing in the school Christmas Pageant. Unfortunately, he loses his haircut money and has Wally act as amateur barber. Fortunately, Beaver gets to sing in the play. He simply wears a winter tuque.
- Saturday Night Live:
- A 2016 episode hosted by Kristen Stewart featured her in a skit about underage college students forced to attend a "Dry Friday" event after getting caught with booze. As the students share tales of the bad decisions they've made while drunk, Stewart pulls off her beanie to reveal a "nohawk" (the exact opposite of a mohawk) she got after she "did a 10-minute solo keg stand." For the remainder of the skit, the counselors assigned to the group repeatedly suggest that she "just pop that beanie back on" because the sight of her bald streak is so awful.
- In a sketch, MacGruber wears a bandana to hide a thinning scalp. Of course, this being a MacGruber sketch, it's the only time it happens.
- Seinfeld - George buys a fedora at a flea market and waxes nostalgic for the days when men wore hats - "It must've been a bald paradise!". Naturally he meets an attractive woman and has to face the prospect of removing it...
Mythology and Folklore
- In the Coast Salish tale S-Hal-Ikun, the title character has been changed by a great bird called Thunder, and if he opens his eyes the lightning will flash and if he removes his hat, the thunder will come. This does not contribute to good relations with his neighbors.
- King Midas (the same one with the golden touch) chose Pan over Apollo in a music contest and was cursed with donkey ears by the sore loser. He hid it by making tall caps a fashion statement, but his Chatty Hairdresser knew the truth...
- Magic: The Gathering: Chainers Torment has Skellum, who, when things get serious, will lift up his hat to reveal his face...which he doesn't have.
- Orpheus: You'd think that the dapper, white-suited Mr. Jigsaw keeping his hat on wouldn't be much of a big deal; after all, it's obvious he's a disturbing human-shaped blob that uses the faces and voices of others to communicate. Then you find out how those faces probably got in there. Because when Mr. Jigsaw removes his hat, he's about to bow, and when he bows, his upper body splits in half to make a massive maw. His black leather tie becomes a tongue which he uses to pull his victim into its toothy terribleness, consuming them without hope of recovery. In short, when Mr. Jigsaw takes off his hat... run.
- Razputin, the hero of Psychonauts, wears an aviator's cap and goggles throughout the entire game, until the denouement, where he is made an official Psychonaut. He gains a sweater and loses the aviator cap - and the hair revealed by this fashion change looks like it's in desperate need of combing.
- Dogen Boole wears a special tinfoil hat to prevent him from accidentally exploding people's heads. "Please keep your hat on" indeed.
- Flint in MOTHER 3: His hat's brim is kept low until the very end of the game, wherein it is revealed that he's bald. "Bald as a bean".
- The Engineer in Team Fortress 2 is bald underneath his helmet. Meanwhile, Pyro is the only class that doesn't have a "no hat" alternate hat, so fan theories have run wild about what exactly is under his ubiquitous gas mask, ranging from a horribly scarred or deformed freak to a hot woman. Someone even made a video where the Pyro reveals themselves to be Half Life 3.
- Soldier looks kind of weird without his helmet. This is probably due to his sloping forehead and enormous chin, which gives him a vaguely simian or Neanderthal appearance.
- The Doom Riders from Jet Set Radio Future wear helmets all the time because of massive skull injuries.
- The Hunter from Left 4 Dead, whose hood hides Tears of Blood and possibly a complete lack of eyes. ("Possibly" because they may have been left unrendered to save on polygons. It's not like that part of his face was meant to be visible, after all.)
- In Loom, rumor has it that looking under a Weaver's hood is fatal. When the main character, a Weaver, is captured, the guard can't resist finding out if it's true. Cue a black screen, a horrified scream, and then the game returning with the guard mysteriously vanished. Yeah, it seems like the hood's there for a VERY good reason.
- If you play on Expert difficulty, you get to see what happens: there's nothing but an inky black head-shaped void beneath with two glowing lights for eyes, and the guard is sucked into the void and disappears before Bobbin puts his hood back up with a smug comment about having warned him.
- Nergal of Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword wears a turban which hangs low enough to cover his right eye. In the final chapter, he removes it to reveal a massive scar distorting that eye, inflicted by Athos centuries ago.
- Early in XCOM 2's campaign, we get a good look at why the ADVENT soldiers and officers wear big, face-concealing helmets. It turns out that they only vaguely look human underneath their helmets, with enlarged eyes, catlike noses, and tiny ears, which would naturally undermine ADVENT's attempt to present their soldiers as human-like peacekeepers.
- In Unsounded, Duane always wears his hood up, and for good reason, too.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage's face is usually obscured by the shadow of his hat. Seeing his face is known to induce madness, and may even destroy the universe.
- In Achewood, one strip indicates that the reason Ray never takes off his glasses is because he sold his eyes to pay for the first Achewood book.
- In Girl Genius, Ol' Man Death has a Very Nice Hat. He also has Very Bad Hat-hair under it.
- Jameson from Girls with Slingshots is shown to always wear a bandana or cap on his head. We later find out that he has early onset male pattern baldness.
- Except for one tuft of hair. The rest of the cast spends a long time trying to persuade him to shave the tuft, because it looks ridiculous.
- Ananth in Johnny Wander is never pictured without his baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes. This is explained here... the effect is rather familiar.
- A bit of a Running Gag for Rick O'Shay in Bob and George, along with his chronic Schedule Slip. It's been proposed that he has, among other things, a demonic soul-stealing abomination, a bad case of helmet hair, or shiny pink Bishōnen hair. Mini-Rick appears to keep several Met helmets under his Met helmet in a sort of infinite loop of Met helmets—he's seen pulling one off yet having another one under it...yet is also able to manifest the aforementioned shiny pink hair by taking off his helmet. Rule of Funny is to blame, most likely. Amusingly enough, it's the pink Bishonen hair that's freaked out the most people in the comics.
- One Strong Bad segment in Homestar Runner implies that Strong Bad has no face under his luchador mask. More specifically, he claims that the mask is his face.
- Supported by the fact that when he does briefly remove it, the entire time it is off he is screaming in horrible agony.
- To Boldly Flee has Todd in the Shadows finally reveal his face to The Nostalgia Chick (who has been converted into a Borg). The sight causes her to shriek and short out. Word of God is that to look on Todd's face is to see your own soul, and the Chick is something of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing / Broken Bird...
- In Adventure Time, the reason Joshua wears a hat all the time is to hide the scar he got from giving birth to Jake.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang disguises himself in the Fire Nation by concealing his tattooed forehead with a headband. When a teacher scolds him for this Non-Uniform Uniform he Invokes this to preserve his cover identity and claims he wears it to cover an embarrassing scar.
- The teacher accepts this excuse without question. Fridge Brilliance reveals that, in a land full of angry firebenders, burn scars may be a common problem.
- In Batman: The Animated Series episode "Almost Got 'im" (and undoubtedly many times in the comics as well), Discussed by Penguin and Joker wondering if Batman covers his head with a mask because someone blew part of his face off.
Penguin: It's obvious our caped friend suffered some crime-related trauma when he was younger. Perhaps an over-anxious mugger blew off a piece of his face.
Joker: Sure, he could be all gross and disgusting under that mask!
(Two-Face crushes the half-and-half carton he's pouring into his coffee)
Joker: Uh, no offense, Harv.
- Downplayed/Played for Laughs in an ad for Batman Beyond. Terry takes off the mask and asks Max if being Batman has given him a suspicious nature.
Max: Yes, along with a serious case of hood hair.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold uses this for a Discussed Trope again when the Red Hood is about to remove his helmet, warning Batman against what he is about to see. A discretion shot serves to delay The Reveal: The heroic Red Hood is a Mirror Universe analogue of The Joker.
- In the finale of the 2006 revival of Biker Mice from Mars, this is shown to happen to Vinnie's old girlfriend Harley, who reveals that she has sided with the Nomad Rats because she was horribly scarred during the Plutarkian invasion and thought that the Biker Mice abandoned her. She now hides her disfigurement by wearing a purple mask. While we never see her scars, the flashbacks that appear during her Villain Song do depict her covering her face with her hands as well as her face being bandaged prior to getting her mask.
- In "Musical Scales" from Dragon Tales, Enrique spends most of the story wearing a bright, multicolored hat, trying to hide a bad haircut that his abuelita (grandmother) gave him. "I don't think she's cut hair in a long time." In the end, because Zak and Wheezie have been bothered the whole story by their bare skin from the scales that they're shedding, he takes it off in a gesture of empathy. As it turns out, the males of the Doodle Fairy kingdom that Zak, Wheezie and Enrique are performing a song number for all sport the same hairstyle, which they show Enrique by removing their ceremonial hats. So, ultimately, more or less subverted.
- In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Edd always wears a hat. Sometimes it comes off and the other characters stare at it in horror and shock, although what is being seen is never shown to the audience.
- In the Family Guy episode "Friends Without Benefits", it is shown that reason Meg wears a hat is because her heart is located in her head. It's not a pretty sight. Even though she's been seen without a hat plenty of times.
- In a different episode, Quagmire said he would like to see Meg without her hat on. He starts to pull her hat off, but a green hand reaches from under Meg's hair to pull the hat back down.
- Death also keeps his hood up because underneath it he has a rotting, unmoving skull.
- Dumb Donald in Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids constantly wears a pink stocking cap that covers most of his face. In the movie, he eventually takes it off while in the real world, revealing he has a handsome face. When he goes back into the TV world, the only parts of his face that show up are the parts visible through the hat - mainly two pairs of eyes floating in midair. According to the other Cosby Kids, it's because the animators never had reason to actually draw him a full face.
- In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "Lights, Camera, Cobra", Destro walks in on Cobra Commander while the latter is eating, and has to look away, insisting that the Commander put his cowl on before going any further.
Cobra Commander: It takes a strong stomach to watch me eat, eh, Destro?
- In Gravity Falls, Dipper admits that beneath his hat is a birthmark he does not want anyone to see. This Distinguishing Mark on his forehead is a perfect likeness of a constellation: the Little Dipper. He explains that other kids teased him about this until the nickname became his Appropriated Appellation.
- Dale Gribble in King of the Hill wears his cap to cover his bald head nearly constantly - he was quite upset when he had to take it off for an office job.
- In the Loonatics Unleashed episode "The Heir up There", Sylth Vester explains to Danger Duck that he wears his helmet to hide disfigurements he's suffered from the Royal Tweetums causing his head to get stuck in a black hole. We don't see his face when he takes the helmet off, but judging by Duck's reaction, the scarring isn't pretty.
- Roger, from The Life and Times of Juniper Lee actually has an afro, though most of the time you'd never know thanks to the hat.
- The OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes episode "Let's Watch the Boxmore Show" reveals that Ernesto wears his tall top hat to hide that his head is balding. Note that Ernesto is a ball-like robot, so there being any hair at all looks out of place.
- Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls wears a giant helmet on his head to hide his enlarged brain.
- It is revealed in the Road Rovers episode "Dawn of the Groomer" that the series' main villain General Parvo wears his metallic helmet to conceal cat ears.
- In The Simpsons episode "Pranks and Greens", Bart makes friends with the school's former resident prankster. When he takes his hat off, revealing a bald head with a small tuft of hair in the front, Bart tells him to keep it on.
- In one gag, one of the bullies Jimbo was revealed to be bald when his hat was knocked off.
- Kyle from South Park is shown with a huge red Jewfro when not wearing his hat.
- Blackarachnia's helmet from Transformers Animated. She often talks about her horrible organic mutation while looking much like any other 'bot but with an animal-like transformation, and... for a cartoon robot purple spider lady, she's kinda hot. Since she's from a race of Mechanical Lifeforms, most viewers didn't even realize it was a helmet and not her real face until either it came off (or they noticed it lying on the ground before her transformation.) It seemed like it was an Informed Flaw, or the Fantastic Racism talking (whatever she looked like, a techno-organic is disgusting to Cybertronians for being techno-organic, perhaps?) Then comes "Predacons Rising" (the episode, not the TF: Prime movie) and we see her real face for the first time. You can definitely see what the fuss is about.
- The Venture Bros. - the lady cosmonaut on the Venture Industries space station has a stunning figure in her form fitting space suit, and a face (unseen) that startles and horrifies. When she and Brock have sex, he requests she keep her helmet on.
- In the Popeye short "William Won't Tell," Popeye is in the role of the famed archer who refuses to remove his hat for anyone as the Queen had kissed him on the forehead as a reward for repairing the wheel of her stagecoach. When the Queen says this is so, it's because she was buying a new crown for the King's birthday. Now the King is reluctant to remove his crown because he's bald.
- Quite common in Real Life with balding men.
- And then, there are also women who are bald, due to a medical condition, or because of chemotherapy.
- People who have had a bad haircut are often examples of this trope.
- Also quite common amongst people with skin conditions, such as scalp psoriasis. Wearing a hat helps to avoid awkward questions and looks of disgust.