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Quirky Curls

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Pictured above, this trope (left) and a completely different curl trope (right).

Characters with elegant Regal Ringlets are refined and high class, but characters with tightly coiled, all over the place curls tend to be the opposite. Where ringlets are large, sleek coils that look like they were made with a huge curling iron, Quirky Curls tend to be rendered as zig-zagging kinks which stick out all over the place, much tighter than their more elegant counterpart and are prone to frizzing.

This type of curly hair, especially in girls, represents non-conformity or high energy. These characters are the type to march to the beat of their own drum, sometimes on purpose, other times because they simply feel they don't fit in. They may be quirky and fun, rebelling against expectations, or just eccentric or different. There also seems to be a correlation with this type of hair and being nerdy or intelligent, which contrasts popular girls having long straight hair, and too add to their 'differentness' is not uncommon for characters with Quirky Curls to also have glasses or freckles. If in a fantasy work, if a character has very tight zigzaggy curls they may have lightning or fire powers, or if they have softer waves, they may have water magic.

They may try everything they can to get sleek, straight hair, possibly representing a desire to fit in or be popular. Often there will be a scene where they try to tame their wildly curly hair but as soon as they have it smoothed down, it poofs up again.

Compare Nonconformist Dyed Hair, Messy Hair and Unkempt Beauty. When a character only has one weird curl, it's probably an Idiot Hair. Contrast Regal Ringlets and Ojou Ringlets. This hairstyle was one of the defining styles of the late 1970s until the early 1990s.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Daimos: Richter has blonde, coily, curly Barbarian Longhair that loops up on top of each other and is wildly untamed. He also has a really bad hot temper and is fatally violent.
  • Dorian from From Eroica with Love with his long blond curls. Energetic, loud, openly Camp Gay aristocrat and Super-thief who steals for the love of the hunt/art rather than monetary gain and likes tweaking the nose of a certain NATO agent who would happily strangle him given the chance. His quirks regularly get him into trouble, since he likes to try things just to see if they can be done (stealing the Pope, anyone?).
  • Lady!!: Charles has curly long blonde hair that's bunched up and untamed, and adds to his Pretty Boy appearance. In contrast, his sisters Lynn and Sarah have straighter hair, though Lynn's is somewhere in the middle.
  • Moriarty the Patriot:
    • Sherlock Holmes has long, wavy curls, which he throws back into an untamed ponytail. His personality is just as eccentric and rebellious as his hair.
    • Mycroft has even more untamable curls than his brother does—the only difference is that he makes the attempt. According to his official profile, he spends a full half hour every morning trying to style it, and it still doesn't make it through the day. Needless to say, Mycroft is at least as strange as his brother and more devoted to hiding it.

    Comic Books 
  • Delirium from The Sandman (1989) has a very mutable appearance, which often includes wild, messy curls. This fits her being a Cloudcuckoolander, which makes her Reality Warper powers kind of... dangerous. It's implied she was once the personification of Delight.

    Comic Strips 
  • Little Orphan Annie, a funny and lively Genki Girl.
  • Peanuts: Freida has Naturally Curly Hair and, as originally presented, fancies herself quite the conversationalist. She got Flanderized into only being conversational about her naturally curly hair though.

    Films — Animation 
  • Princess Merida from Brave, who has very curly red hair and doesn't fit with her mother's expectations of how a princess should act.
  • Frozen II: Although it may be downplayed when she becomes a queen, Iduna (Elsa and Anna's mother) as a kid is shown to have curly hair, freely wandering around the Northuldra settlements where she was born and raised.
  • The eponymous character of Moana is a rather free-spirited character with curly hair.
  • Ratatouille: Bumbling, awkward, and horribly inarticulate, Linguini's red curls reflect his quirkiness.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Duck Butter: Nima has short, very curly hair. She's an openly queer, peppy, bohemian actress.
  • Holly Slept Over: Holly's free-spirited nature is partly shown by her hair being in a loose afro when she comes to visit her more straitlaced white ex-girlfriend Audra.
  • In Like Water for Chocolate Gertrudis is the only one of the three sisters with curly hair. Her character-defining moment is when she runs into the desert and rides away on horseback with a Mexican revolutionary. A few years later, we find that she married the man and is now a general in the revolutionary army.
  • Mia from The Princess Diaries has naturally curly hair and at the beginning of the film she is gawky, not very popular and very much quirky, as is her mother who has wavy hair and is an artist. When she finds out she is a princess, she has to have her hair straightened to look acceptable as a princess.
  • In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Eccentric Billionaire Javi (played by Pedro Pascal) sports some stylishly wavy hair, though he has it straightened for special occasions.
  • Amanda Peet's character from The Whole Nine Yards. Talks about her assignment to kill Oz while he's in the room.

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Violet Beauregarde is described as having a big mop of curly hair. While her coif doesn’t directly factor into her character, this is the girl who set a world record by chewing a single piece of gum for three months straight, which definitely has “quirky” overtones.
  • Circle of Magic: Trisana Chandler has wildly curly red hair which is always frizzing. She's also a Deadpan Snarker, Bookworm and loner who doesn't fit in, and has extreme abilities in weather magic, including lightning. In fact, her hair tends to either trap or produce lightning. When her abilities as a mage advance, she actually begins to use her hair to store her magic in tight, carefully wound braids.
  • Discworld: Susan Sto Helit, granddaughter-by-adoption of the incarnation of Death, has hair like this in her first couple of appearances; after that, her hair seems to settle down, although it remains self-styling. Her hair seems to rebel in proportion to how much effort she puts into being normal; in Soul Music she makes the biggest deal about it, and that's the book where she attempts to braid her hair and it always manages to unravel itself. (Although the braids could simply be to conform to her school's dress code, rather than a reflection of her personal preferences.)
  • Gives Light: Skylar St. Clair. It's one of his defining characteristics.
  • Harry Potter: Hermione Granger has the 'nerdy girl frizz' version of these curls, and her story arc includes the classic instance where she straightens them out and transforms into a beauty (once for a big school dance - which took hours and a lot of magical hair-care potion - and once for the wedding of Ron Weasley's brother, Bill).
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, while desperately trying find a spell that will aid Harry in the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, Hermione stumbles across one that will make one's nose hair grow into ringlets and snaps the book shut in annoyance. Fred Weasley, who overhears the conversation, remarks that he actually wouldn't mind having that done, as it would be a humorous talking point.
  • Heaven Official’s Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu: Quan Yizhen is described as having curly hair (unusually for ancient China), and sticks out from everyone else due to his No Social Skills.
  • The Hunger Games: Flavius, Katniss Everdeen’s hair stylist, is described as having bright orange hair arranged in corkscrew curls.
  • I Like Myself: The unnamed narrator might make a good trope image, actually.
  • A Master of Djinn: Fatma's hair is very curly, and she keeps it short, fitting with her gender nonconformity as she has a masculine style, wearing fine Western men's suits with a bowler.
  • Rainbow Magic: While most fairies with curly hair are feminine and proper, a few squeak by with more quirky personalities.
    • Tallulah the Tuesday Fairy, who is sporty and always on the go, has curly hair in a puffy ponytail.
    • Paula the Pumpkin Fairy, a partygoer with some adorable cat-eye glasses, has curly hair in locs with some odangos as well.
  • Sorry, Bro: Erebuni lets her curly hair hang loose, unlike lots of Armenian women, as a sign of her laidback and freespirited personality.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Amber Brown (2022): Amber has her loose afro, which fits well with her energetic, cheerful air.
  • CSI: NY: Stella Bonasera. Her mentor, Professor Papadakis, told her they were what drew his attention to call on her in class all the time.
  • Doctor Who:
    • What Could Have Been: Initial plans were to give these to the Second Doctor, to play up his quirkier personality as compared to his predecessor, though when the team saw him in the wig everyone hated it (Troughton said he looked like Harpo Marx and would often joke that Tom Baker stole his look). Anneke Wills (who played the companion Polly) combed Troughton's hair into the iconic messy moptop as a last-minute replacement.
    • The Fourth Doctor is a clear male example. The curls were Tom Baker's natural hair, and mesh well with Four's characterization as goofy, cheeky, and anti-authoritarian to a greater extent than any incarnation before or since. Tellingly, when Four's personality became more melancholy and wizened in his final season, his curls turned into a softer '80s perm, the result of Baker's hair straightening out from burnout after seven years in the role.
    • In a different way, the Sixth Doctor's curls (also Colin Baker's natural hair; no, he's not related to Tom) matches his characterization as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, who behind the more acidic personality is still, at his core, the Doctor.
    • River Song, a rebellious sociopath.
    • Paul McGann, who played the very Cloudcuckoolanderish Eighth Doctor, got some bright ideas about buzzing his near-shoulder-length curls off between the audition and filming. So they made him wear a wig (which gets obviously frizzier throughout the Made-for-TV Movie). He once stated in an interview that hair generally seems to be an important part of playing the Doctor. His eventual insistance that the Eighth Doctor didn't still have the curls, in a Big Finish photoshoot where he kept his buzzcut, conveniently coincided with the Eight Doctor audios getting Darker and Edgier.
    • The Twelfth Doctor's hair becomes longer and curlier in Series 9, coinciding with his development into a somewhat more relaxed and approachable character.
  • Invoked in Extras when a BBC exec makes Andy wear a curly wig for his sitcom, insisting that "curly is funny".
  • Game of Thrones: Meera Reed's hairstyle. Karl Tanner even compliments her (in a not so flattering manner) for it.
  • Blaine from Glee shellacks his hair down with a ton of hairgel, but when he's finally persuaded to go without in public, he's got these curls. They frighten Brittany. Appropriately enough, he's got all the quirky and highly energetic traits that go with this trope, but spends a lot of time trying to act more sober and grown up than he really is.
  • Lizzi in Greek. As part of her makeover in her last episode (to break her out of being just a Plucky Office Girl being stepped on by the other Nationals, particularly Tegan), Casey and Ashleigh got rid of the frizz and gave her a more professional, dead straight haired look.
  • Parado of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid is Psychopathic Manchild who gets bored extremely easily, so he is either toying with something, scheming or fighting. He has frizzly curly mess of hair in second and third dozen of episodes, but it starts to get somewhat straighter afterwards, coinciding with him being forced into less quirky and fun and more fighting for survival.
  • Loki's hair is practically shellacked down in most of his film appearances, but in his own series, he leaves it looser and only brushed back from his forehead, which reveals its natural state to be a mass of slightly frizzy curls. It goes along with his becoming a much kinder, nobler person.
  • The Harfoots in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power all have curly unkept hair. They are more rustic than their more sophisticated descendants, and their subplot is more comical.
  • Dr. Cox from Scrubs has loads of thick curly hair whose length tends to vary greatly over the course of each season.
  • Cassie from Skins, who is the resident Cloudcuckoolander, although averted with Michelle who also has curly hair. Cassie's hair isn't particularly curly, more just unbrushed; sometimes she styles it wavy.
  • Squid Game has 212\Mi-nyeo, whose hair is as wavy as her carefree, loud and untrustworthy personality.
  • Dave Starsky's exuberant mop of dark '70s style curls in Starsky & Hutch, matching his irrepressibly cheerful, enthusiastic, sometimes-ditzy personality. In one episode he teases them out to be even quirkier than usual when he goes undercover as a patient at a mental hospital.
  • You Me Her: Izzy has loose curls and she's an energetic, fun-loving young women who helps her two lovers get more uninhibited like her.

    Video Games 
  • Takatsuki Yayoi from The iDOLM@STER, an energetic and hardworking Cheerful Child. Her hair is usually rendered as wavy rather than extremely curly in the game and anime adaptation due to the difficulty of properly animating curly hair, but in illustrations it's more clearly curly.

    Visual Novels 

  • Angelica, the ditzy Russian strange girl from Bloody Urban, has very thick, curly, bright orange hair.
  • Catalina Bobcat, the little boisterous gingery closet-lesbian girl from El Goonish Shive. It was revealed that she deliberately styles her hair that way, and it is naturally flat. Also has freckles.
  • Pato, the Deadpan Snarker from M9 Girls!, has very thick, brown curls.
  • Claire Augustus from Questionable Content has the full trifecta of quirky curls, freckles, and (sometimes) glasses. Bonus points for being a redhead, too.
  • While Amaltea's hair in Sword Princess Amaltea looks like it was made with a curling iron, her brash personality makes you think more of this trope than its regal and dignified sister trope.

    Western Animation 
  • Gravity Falls: Mabel Pines' quirky curls are on the end of her hair, but doesn't change the fact that she is a combination of Genki Girl and Cloudcuckoolander.
  • From The Magic School Bus, Miss Frizzle has extremely curly hair. She's also incredibly weird, or (depending on whom you ask) incredibly awesome.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Pinkie Pie is an extremely hyper and high-energy Genki Girl and Cloudcuckoolander, and the only member of the Mane Six with this kind of curly hair. She apparently maintains it by sheer exuberance: in a flashback in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", she had straight hair as a filly before she learned how to smile and bring cheer to others. In "Party of One" her hair goes back to being straight when she convinces herself her friends don't want to hang out with her anymore, and in "The Best Night Ever" she gets her hair straightened, only for it to quickly poof back to its usual curly mess.
    • Pinkie's Spear Counterpart Cheese Sandwich shares her frizzy mane, passion for parties, fondness for rubber chickens and pretty much constructed his personality after being inspired by Pinkie herself, though unlike her, his mane style isn't affected by his mood. For bonus points, he's voiced by none other than "Weird Al" Yankovic, who's notable for having frizzy curly hair.
  • The Owl House: While their hair are kept in a pixie cut (Luz, although due to mishandling a sword she got from a convention, while trying to cut herself her hair) or straighten (Camila), it’s revealed that both of them have natural curly hair. When they both left them curly in Season 3, it symbolizes they are more accepting of their nerdy authentic self.
  • Recess: Miss Grotke, the Genki Girl Hippie Teacher.
  • The titular Steven of Steven Universe is a peppy Friend to All Living Things with a Jewfro.
  • In Winx Club, of the three Trix witches, Icy and Darcy have long straight hair while Stormy has a cloud of kinked curls. Guess which one is the spitfire. Guess which one has the storm powers.
  • Irma from W.I.T.C.H. is a Fun Personified type of girl who has wavy hair.

    Real Life 
  • Carrot Top is a famous Real Life example.
  • Danny Elfman used to have these.
  • David Krumholtz of NUMB3RS springs immediately to mind (this trope is ingrained enough that many naturally curly-haired actors and actresses get typecast into the roles the trope is designed for).
  • Gene Wilder had naturally quirky curls, which fit well with the eccentric/frazzled characters he played for Mel Brooks — to say nothing of Willy Wonka.
  • Lorde is a prime example.
  • Melanie Brown - a.k.a. Mel B of the Spice Girls - arguably fits this trope. Her nickname "Scary Spice" was famously inspired by her wild curly hair
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic kept his frizz even when he ditched his glasses and mustache.
  • The guy who runs the blog Polymathically apparently has two feet of them.