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Real Life Writes the Hairstyle

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When Dyeing for Your Art affects another role too. Real life can write the plot, but it can write the hairstyle too. Say there's a movie in one actress's collection where she doesn't have her trademark long blonde tresses, the reason is that she shaved her head for another role and filmed this one while still growing it back. Or the actress just did it on a whim, and they decided to roll with it.

This is often the case in long-running series and franchises, where the actors will be contractually obligated to keep their hair a certain way. Sometimes they'll just have the actor wear a wig because the character changing their hair would be too out of character. Other times they might make the haircut a plot point.

Compare Throw It In, Expository Hairstyle Change, Actor-Inspired Element.


Examples:

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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Sigourney Weaver wore a wig for 1492: Conquest of Paradise, as she'd shaved her hair off for Alien³. When that film required reshoots, she eschewed going through the process again and just wore a bald cap.
  • In a cancelled Disney film version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, colour tests show Alice with a curly bob rather than the long hair she's normally depicted with. This is because Mary Pickford chose to cut off her famous ringlets for the film Coquette in an attempt to transition to more adult roles.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula - the normally brunette Sadie Frost is red haired as Lucy Westenra. This is because they felt she resembled her co-star Winona Ryder too much (she almost didn't audition for the role because of this).
  • Uniquely an example not affecting a film but preventing a change. Ingrid Bergman cut her hair short to play Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls (who has hers cut by the Spanish fascists). They wanted to re-film a scene in Casablanca with different music in place, but Ingrid's change of hairstyle made this impossible. The original music "As Time Goes By" is now considered iconic.
  • While Velma having a '20s Bob Haircut in the film version of Chicago seems logical, it was actually the idea of her actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. She opted to cut her long hair short because she was very keen on doing her own dancing, and thought long hair could hide her face and lead people to believe she used a double. She shot America's Sweethearts shortly after wrapping Chicago and didn't have time to grow her hair back. The long hair she sports in that movie is actually a wig. Her real hair is seen briefly during scenes depicting the production of Film Within a Film "Time Over Time" which is conveniently set in the 1920s.
  • Robin Tunney wore a wig while filming The Craft because she had shaved her head for Empire Records and her hair hadn't fully grown back yet. Word of God is that he would have been happy to let her use her natural hair (she had "a very cute pixie" at that stage) but the studio insisted she wear a wig.
  • In Crazy/Beautiful when Nicole and Carlos are sitting on the beach together, the usually blonde Nicole's hair is briefly but suddenly colored red. This is because her actress, Kirsten Dunst, was also filming Spider-Man at the time where she played the famously redheaded Mary Jane Watson.
  • Abernathy's haircut in Death Proof was the idea of Rosario Dawson, who wanted to homage pin-up model Bettie Page.
  • Demi Moore wore a wig for her cameo in Deconstructing Harry, as she'd shaved her hair off for G.I. Jane.
  • After shooting wrapped on Die Hard with a Vengeance, Bruce Willis shaved his head for his role in 12 Monkeys. He was later called back to reshoot the ending, which is why John McClane is wearing a baseball cap in the closing scenes, but nowhere else in the film.
  • Divergent: Although Tris does cut her hair in the Insurgent book, she cuts it to chin length. In the film, she cuts it drastically shorter because Shailene Woodley had cut her hair for The Fault in Our Stars and didn't have time to grow it out again. By the time of the Allegiant film, the hair matches the way it is in the books.
  • Matt Damon appears for a scene in EuroTrip with a shaved head as he was also preparing to shoot The Brothers Grimm, for which he'd need to wear a hairpiece. He decided that this was a two-for-one opportunity, as he'd get to dramatically alter his appearance to look more like a rocker and he'd be more comfortable beneath his wig.
  • Similar to the example in The Fog, when Fantastic Four (2015) had to undergo lots of extensive re-shoots, Kate Mara had cut her hair short for The Martian. She wore a wig in an attempt to match her original hairstyle, but it's easy to spot the re-shot scenes because of the differences.
  • Sharon Tate was famous for her blonde hair and wears a red wig for The Fearless Vampire Killers because Roman Polanski was favouring redhead actress Jill St John. Producer Martin Ransohoff had Sharon under contract and pushed for her to be cast, and the character being red haired was the only condition for her to play the role.
  • Ali Larter dyed her hair brown for Final Destination, and it is so in the original ending. When they decided to change said ending, Clear's hair is now blonde after the Time Skip. This carried over to the second film, where Clear is still blonde even when she's in a padded cell.
  • An accidental example for The Fog (1980). Elizabeth's hair seems to change in length between scenes - because re-shoots were done a little later to add more scenes and Jamie Lee Curtis couldn't grow it to the same length as before.
  • Demi Moore was the one who pushed for the famous scene in G.I. Jane where her character shaves all her hair off, which wasn't in the first draft of the script.
  • Josh Hartnett has a rather messy hairstyle in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later because he rebelled against the hair and makeup team's attempts to keep it coiffed, wanting to be different from teen films where everyone looked "perfect". He achieved this by just putting a beanie on to mess it up. LL Cool J even ad-libbed "and comb your hair" in one scene because of this.
  • Emma Watson had to dye her hair blonde for the film adaptation of Ballet Shoes, and as a result Hermione is blonde in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  • For Heathers, the normally brunette Shannen Doherty is red-haired as Heather Duke. Producers originally wanted her to be blonde, so that all three Heathers could match (Kimberly Walker and Lisanne Falk were already blonde). Shannen refused, and going redhead was a compromise.
  • Eve Arden is typically blonde, but has red hair in The Hour Of Enchantment, as she resembled Doris Day too much.
  • A variation in How To Deal. Mandy Moore got a short haircut beforehand, feeling it fit the character. The producers weren't happy but they came up with a compromise; she would wear hair extensions for the first half of the film, and then her character would get an Important Haircut.
  • Anne Hathaway had to cut her hair off for Les Misérables (2012) and thus was still growing it out by the time Interstellar started filming. It was still growing out for The Intern but she just wore a wig there.
  • Sophia Lillis prefers to wear her hair short, so they had her wear extensions for the first part of It (2017) and then give herself an Important Haircut as a way of rebelling against her father's incestuous attraction to her. Notably in the book, one of Beverly's defining characteristics is her long hair.
  • Joey King had shaved off her hair for her role in The Act and was still growing it back during the consecutive filming of The Kissing Booth 2 and The Kissing Booth 3. She wore a long wig to maintain continuity with the previous film, although in the ending of the third movie Elle is depicted with a short hairstyle which utilized King's real hair.
  • Emilia Clarke has blonde hair in Last Christmas because she had bleached it for the final season of Game of Thrones - where she had previously just worn wigs to play Daenerys. Her hair is also short because the procedure ended up damaging her hair, and she was forced to cut it.
  • Reese Witherspoon's had a bob for Sweet Home Alabama, and had to film Legally Blonde 2 right after. Feeling that Elle Woods wouldn't cut her hair that short, they had her wear a wig. And in a scene towards the end, Elle complains about one time a hairdresser gave her a bob by mistake.
  • The ending to Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels had to be reshot, by which time Jason Flemyng had grown his hair long. Thus, he wears a hat in the final scene.
  • Red Harvest was supposed to have long hair in The Magnificent Seven (2016), and Martin Sensmeier had his at knee length when he auditioned. Not realising he was cast partly because of the hair, he cut it short before filming. They then gave Red Harvest a mohawk instead.
  • Julie Andrews has had short hair for her entire film career because while filming Mary Poppins she cut her hair to help it fit under the wig better, and found she liked the look. Any time she sports long hair in films, it's a wig.
  • Keanu Reeves chose to retain his long hair and beard for The Matrix Resurrections, which partially had to do with the fact that John Wick: Chapter 4 was in production at the same time.
  • Charlize Theron wore a wig for A Million Ways to Die in the West, as she'd shaved her hair off for Mad Max: Fury Road.
  • The normally brunette Heather Burns is blonde when playing Cheryl in Miss Congeniality, because Sandra Bullock had been cast in the lead and producers feared they looked too similar. Her hair was also cut to shoulder-length.
  • Natalie Portman has short hair in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium and Hotel Chevalier because she had shaved her head for V for Vendetta.
  • Myra Breckinridge: Farrah Fawcett's hairstyle in the movie was the result of an on-set feud between its two stars Raquel Welch and Mae West. The latter refused to work with other blondes, so she was sent to have her hair darkened. This enraged Raquel Welch, and so Farrah was sent back to the colourist.
  • Jesse Eisenberg shaved his head on screen for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and thus sported a buzzcut for Now You See Me 2 (he had much longer hair in the first film).
  • Emma Watson having short hair in The Perks of Being a Wallflower is because she got a pixie cut after wrapping Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She wore extensions for The Bling Ring and Noah.
  • Power Rangers (2017) required Naomi Scott to cut off her hair on camera. She did it herself, going from waist length to shoulder-length, and liked the resulting style, so she has sported it in most subsequent roles. The exception is Aladdin (2019), what with it being a period piece where long hair was required.
  • S Club: Seeing Double sees Hannah with red tips in her hair because Hannah Spearritt decided to do it for fun. Director Nigel Dick liked it and had her keep it for the film.
  • Rose McGowan opted to go blonde for Scream (1996) to distinguish herself from Neve Campbell. When in a meeting with producer Cathy Konrad, she noticed her colour and asked to meet her stylist.
  • In Sleepaway Camp, Allen Breton filmed one scene as Frank the cop, sporting a mustache. By the time he was called back to shoot another, he had to shave it off for another role. They gave him a fake one to wear, although it looked extremely obvious that it wasn't his real hair.
  • Spears:
    • Bobby Calloway opted for a scissors buzzcut even though the script didn't call for one; this was because the film was shot on and off over several months, and it would be easier to match continuity that way.
    • Towards the end of the film, when Hidell meets up with Rachael in Dublin, her hair is significantly longer. This is because shooting had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Rebecca Rose Flynn had grown her hair out during the time.
  • Keanu Reeves had long hair when he was cast in Speed and producers demanded he have a more respectable haircut. The buzzcut he showed up to set with was his choice, and they also weren't happy with that, trying to make him wear a wig.
  • Star Wars: In The Last Jedi Rey gets an Expository Hairstyle Change to signal her character development. For The Rise of Skywalker she has reverted to her original style, due to them using deleted scenes from The Force Awakens after Carrie Fisher's passing.
  • Emma Stone is a natural blonde but was asked to dye it red for Superbad. She liked the resulting look and has been redhead ever since (save for dyeing it back blonde for The Amazing Spider-Man Series).
  • Because he was between seasons of Arrow, Stephen Amell's Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows lacks the character's traditionally long locks.
  • Thor: Ragnarok features Thor getting an unwanted Important Haircut because Chris Hemsworth didn't want to have to grow his hair out for the role, or spend too long getting a wig fitted (he'd had to cut the long hair shorter for other roles in between, such as Ghostbusters).
  • Kristen Stewart had to wear a wig during Twilight: Eclipse as she'd cut her hair short to play Joan Jett in The Runaways which was being produced around the same time. She however had been wearing hair pieces in the first two films to save time as well.
  • Another Twilight example - Kellan Lutz intended to use his natural curly hair to play Emmett, who is described as being curly haired in the books. But he had just played a marine in Generation Kill, so he has a buzzcut for all five films (as it's mentioned in the books that vampires' hair is locked at how it was when they were turned).
  • Hugh Jackman had hair extensions for Van Helsing, and grew out his hair along them while filming. Then he went and filmed the reshot ending to X2: X-Men United, and his hair is clearly bigger.
  • Kristen Stewart sports a shaved head in Underwater because she felt that her character would keep it short for health and safety reasons. She had also wanted to shave it for a while, which is why she suggested it to the director.
  • Debra Messing is best known as a redhead because she had to dye her hair for A Walk In The Clouds, but it was supposed to be dyed blonde. A mistake left it red and she noticed she was getting offered more parts afterwards, so she kept the colour.
  • Pin-up model and singer Yvette Vickers has a small role in What's the Matter with Helen? where her blonde hair is dyed red so as not to compete with Debbie Reynolds. Ironically the latter's character is a brunette who bleaches her hair as a way of starting a new life for herself.

    Literature 
  • The Animorphs book covers famously each show a main character turning into an animal. The model for Marco cut his long hair short sometime between books #5 and #10, so a minor subplot about Marco having had his hair cut was written into book #10.
  • The character Shelly in Young Blood was first written as a blonde, to match the woman she was inspired by (actress and model Michele McNally). When Michele dyed her hair pink, Shelly's hair was rewritten to be pink as well. And when it was time to shoot promotional trailers for the book, Michele McNally portrayed Shelly and dyed her hair pink again to do so.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete sees Big Pete getting a drastically shorter hairstyle so that actor Michael C. Maronna could play a punk in an episode of Law & Order.
  • Angel: Cordelia goes for a drastically shorter haircut in Season 2 because Charisma Carpenter found the upkeep of her long hair too much. It was initially shoulder length but then goes even shorter because Charisma hated the first cut.
  • Felicity Smoak's hair is dyed pink as a disguise from Ricardo Diaz in the Season 7 premiere of Arrow. In Real Life, it's because Emily Bett Rickards had to dye it for a photoshoot.
  • In some episodes of Season 6 of The Avengers Tara King's hair is very short. This is because when Linda Thorson joined the show, they wanted her to bleach her hair blonde. The dye ruined her hair, so in some episodes, she was wearing a wig. The short hair was Linda's growing back. One episode even has characters arguing about what color Tara's hair is.
  • Starbuck eventually growing her hair long in Battlestar Galactica (2003) was because Katee Sackhoff was fed up at having to keep her hair short for the role.
  • In Season 8 of The Big Bang Theory Penny has short hair because Kaley Cuoco had cut hers short for the indie film Burning Bodhi. She put extensions in after the season wrapped.
  • Boy Meets World: Topanga cuts her famously waist-length hair to shoulder-length at the beginning of season 4 after years of Danielle Fishel begging the producers to let her cut it short. They agreed on the condition that they got to make an Important Haircut episode out of it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Willow is portrayed as a redhead for the whole series because Joss Whedon wanted the three lead actresses to differentiate themselves - and Alyson Hannigan volunteered to go that colour (she is naturally brunette).
    • Buffy chops off her hair in "Gone" in a fit of depression. This was because Sarah Michelle Gellar had asked to cut her hair and they wrote it into the episode.
    • Gellar had her hair cut shorter, and dyed blonder, for her part in Scream 2, which she filmed in the summer between seasons one and two. Xander comments on her new hair in "When She Was Bad". This also affected I Know What You Did Last Summer, also filming around the same time; she wore hair extensions for the first half of the film, and the killer then cuts her hair (notably in the book it's based on, Helen's defining characteristic is her long hair).
    • Gellar was only available for three days to film "Selfless", as she was getting married to Freddie Prinze Jr. that week. Drew Goddard said in his DVD Commentary for the episode that her hair in the show (the little braid at the side of her head) was her "wedding hair".
    • In "Enemies", Oz has blonde hair, as Seth Green had just finished filming Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • Piper has a fringe in Season 1 for the only time on the show because Holly Marie Combs had just starred in the Made-for-TV Movie Sins of Silence, where her character cuts a fringe to hide a bruise. She was initially ready to grow it out by the middle of the season, but Aaron Spelling told her it was her character's trademark and insisted she keep it that way. She was allowed to grow the fringe out for Season 2.
    • Alyssa Milano got a pixie cut to celebrate her 30th birthday, which was right before Season 6 started filming. Rather than making her wear a wig, they threw in a couple of lines referencing Phoebe cutting her hair.
    • Rose McGowan spontaneously decided to dye her hair red right before Season 5, thoroughly annoying producers. The in-show explanation was a potion blowing up on her and turning it that colour, which Rose had sarcastically suggested as the explanation when the producers expressed their displeasure. In her autobiography, she claimed this was a minor rebellion when the studio tried to enforce no hair changes without permission.
    • Paige goes back to brown hair near the end of Season 6 because Rose appeared on Regis & Kelly and had a poll where fans voted what colour she should go next (she had strawberry blonde hair at this point).
    • Danielle Harris was cast as Aviva in "The Fourth Sister" while also filming Urban Legend at the same time, and they wanted her to dye her hair red to look different from the three sisters. As she couldn't change it for continuity on the film, they gave her the slicked back style as a compromise.
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Ross Lynch is normally blond but has brown hair as Harvey because they feared he looked like he was related to his blonde co-star Kiernan Shipka (who plays his girlfriend). Ironically Kiernan herself had to change her hair for the role (she's naturally blonde but had gone brown before she auditioned).
  • Coronation Street:
    • Sally Dynevor was undergoing treatment for breast cancer (ironically after her character Sally Webster was given the all-clear) so she wore a wig for several months. After a while, she opted to appear without the wig, and it was written in that Sally's new boyfriend had taken her for a short haircut.
    • Katherine Kelly's hair was ruined from dye, so she cut it to shoulder-length and in-universe it was an attempt by Becky to look more mature as she approached adoption agencies.
    • Leanne wears a hairpiece for the special Joinery explosion that happened on her hen night. This is because there would be a live episode in between several pre-taped ones (all taking place within the same Extremely Short Timespan) and this helped avoid continuity mistakes.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "State of Decay", Tom Baker had to have his hair permed for the one and only time during his tenure as the Doctor; his hair had lost its natural curl due to him being in ill health.
    • In the TV movie, Paul McGann wears a wig because he'd had to get an un-Doctor-ish military short haircut for his role in the war movie The One That Got Away. (He would later get so sick of the wig in subsequent publicity photos that he managed to get a haircut written into his Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas, which carried over into "The Night of the Doctor", where his hair is longish, but definitely not the flowing curls of the TVM).
    • Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, played a man with cancer in Lost River around the same time as his tenure as the Doctor was ending, a role that required Smith to shave his head. This did not result in a change of hairstyle, as Smith simply wore a wig. The wig itself, however, was incorporated into the Eleventh Doctor's final story, as he shaved his head and used the wig to hide a spare key to his TARDIS.
    • From the same episode, Karen Gillan wore a wig, as she'd shaved her hair off to play Nebula in Guardians Of The Galaxy. More than anything, she regretted that she and Matt didn't swap wigs.
  • Finn Jones has significantly shorter hair for Season 2 of Iron Fist (2017) because he had to cut it short for Season 6 of Game of Thrones, where Ser Loras is sheared right before the Green Trial.
  • Lucy Liu dyed her hair blonde in 2017. As a result, Watson has blonde hair in the final season of Elementary. This gets joked about, with others saying she dyed her hair because she's not adjusting well to London.
  • La Femme Nikita got an unexpected fifth season, after Peta Wilson had cut her trademark long blonde hair short (thinking she wouldn't be needed again). So the season premiere has a scene where she cuts her hair before returning to Section One.
  • Friends:
    • Jennifer Aniston's famous "The Rachel" hairdo came about because - in her words - the hairdresser was drunk, made a mistake and tried to correct it.
    • The little subplot in the Season 2 premiere involving Joey, Chandler and Monica's haircuts came from the actors cutting theirs between seasons and the show deciding to incorporate it.
    • On the day before he auditioned for the role of Gunther, James Michael Tyler let a friend who wanted to become a hairdresser practice on his hair. Apparently, the producers liked the bleach blond look on him, which he kept for the rest of the series.
    • Monica sports a chin-length reddish-brown bob in the majority of season four. This is due to Courteney Cox cutting her hair to this size for Scream 2.
    • Lisa Kudrow had shoulder length hair in Season 6. Feeling Phoebe would never cut hers that short, they had her wear a wig. In "The One That Could Have Been", the shoulder-length cut is Lisa's actual hair; that length being appropriate for Phoebe's alternate reality self.
    • In "TOW Where Monica and Richard Are Just Friends" sees Richard appearing without his usual moustache because Tom Selleck had shaved it off for his role in In & Out.
  • The Full House Season 2 premiere "Cutting it Close" had Jesse end up getting his mullet cut off into a shorter style due to Stephanie cutting off a lock of hair during a game of "barber" with actual scissors. In real life, John Stamos (Jesse's actor) actually had his hair cut before Season 1 finished, as he felt the mullet was going out of style (this was in 1988), and so in the last couple of Season 1 episodes and at the start of "Cutting it Close," Stamos was actually wearing a wig resembling his old mullet.
  • In Game of Thrones, it's a plot point in the first season that all Lannisters are blonde. However, as the seasons go on, Jaime and Tyrion's hair become increasingly darker, to the point of being dark brown in season 8. Word from the set workers is that it was simply too damaging to the hair to keep dyeing it for so long, so they chose to prioritize the actors' health over the characters' image. (Cersei and Daenerys wear wigs, which is why their hair remains blonde.) In fact, Tyrion was given bleached blond hair in the original pilot, but it was darkened in the series proper for this reason.
  • Leighton Meester is blonde naturally but has been famous as a brunette because Gossip Girl required her to dye it brown.
  • Haven: Dwight is played by Edge, who retired from wrestling while on the show, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012. As he was no longer wrestling and "didn't want to be a 40-year-old with a ponytail", he cut his famous long hair completely short to coincide with the induction ceremony. Dwight then has short hair in Season 5.
  • Amy Lennox's hairstyle in some Holby City episodes resembles the style she sported in a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show she was in around the same time.
  • Hollyoaks's Amy Barnes was known for her long hair. Her actress Ashley Slanina Davis decided to cut it for charity, so in the soap, her abusive boyfriend cut it off because he thought it looked childish.
  • Love/Hate's Mary has blonde hair in Season 1 that becomes brown in Season 2 because Ruth Bradley was playing a Victorian woman in Primeval.
  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men - Marian's short haircut in Season 4 is because her actress had cut her hair for a play between seasons.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
    • Season 3 has an episode where Bulk and Skull join the junior police, and end up getting induction haircuts. This came about because Paul Schrier felt his hairline wasn't matching too well with Bulk's long hair and wanted to cut it off, so it was written into the show. Jason Narvy didn't want to cut his as short, which is why Skull just gets a flattop instead of a buzzcut like Bulk.
    • During the second season after "Rangers Back in Time" and before "The Wedding", Aisha's hairstyle changes from straight to box braids and would continue sporting the hairstyle until her departure. This was because her actress Karan Ashley had tied her hair into that as the cast were busy shooting the film, which was filmed back to back in Australia with two three-part episodes including this one and "Return of the Green Ranger".
  • When the character Scott Robinson returned to Neighbours in 1989 after a few-week absence, he had short hair due to Jason Donovan having to cut his hair short due to having a role in a miniseries.
  • The Office (US): Season 3 sees Jim getting his 2000s Wings hairstyle cut into a shorter, more professional look before his big job interview at corporate. In real life, John Krasinski had to get his hair cut to a 1920s-style so he could star in Leatherheads. The Office show-runners had originally refused to let him cut his hair, until Krasinski had the show's hairstylist create a convincing wig he could wear for the show.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Emma Swan has blonde hair even though Jennifer Morrison was best known as a brunette at the time because - a natural blonde who had dyed it brown for House - she was annoyed at how often she had to touch up her roots and saw it as a good opportunity to go back blonde.
    • Rumpelstiltskin gets an Important Haircut in Season 6 because Robert Carlyle had cut his hair for T2 Trainspotting.
    • Mary Margaret's hair in Season 4 is slightly longer than her usual pixie cut, as Ginnifer Goodwin had decided to bleach her hair, and was wearing a wig.
    • Belle's hair visibly changes in colour and texture between the end of Season 1 and the start of Season 2. Emilie de Ravin, a natural blonde, had worn a wig for her three episode guest appearances, but dyed her hair brown when she was promoted to regular for Season 2. She reverted to a wig from Season 5 onward because she didn't want to keep dyeing it while pregnant.
  • One Life to Live: Actress Kassie DePaiva twice had her Real Life haircut written into the show. The first time, her character Blair hacked off her hair in a fit of grief and rage over her husband Todd's death. The second time, her husband Max's mistress Skye chopped her hair off as revenge for a nasty stunt Blair had played on her.
  • A famous example in Peyton Place with Mia Farrow — who became insecure about her long blonde hair and decided to cut it short on a whim. As she was halfway through filming an episode, they had to hurriedly write Alison getting a haircut as a plot point. It underwent Memetic Mutation - "where were you when Mia Farrow cut her hair?" - and led to an urban legend that Vidal Sassoon flew out to cut the hair in a boxing ring (which was just a publicity stunt for Rosemary's Baby). The actress said in her autobiography...
    "There must have been nothing going on in the world that week because my haircut got an absurd amount of press coverage."
  • Abby has Spiky Hair in Season 3 of Primeval that's shorter than her usual style because Hannah Spearritt's hair was damaged from the bleaching she had been doing (she went brown because of it but reverted to blonde before filming the episodes). Abby's hair is notably longer in Season 4 because Hannah grew hers out before the show was Un-Cancelled. As Abby was trapped in the Cretaceous Period with Connor for a year in between seasons, the hair change was easily explained. She wore extensions for the first two episodes to make it look wilder, and then removed them to imply that Abby had adjusted to life back in the present.
  • In the final episode of The Prisoner, Leo McKern's Number Two is resurrected after apparently dying in the previous episode, a process that also mysteriously cuts his hair much shorter and shaves off his beard. In fact, McKern hadn't been told that he was still needed until he'd already changed his grooming for a different part.
  • Rookie Blue's fifth season premiere takes place directly after the finale. Between Seasons 4 and 5, Charlotte Sullivan's hair had to be cut because of the bleach damaging it. As a result, Gail gives herself a drunken haircut in the episode.
  • Roseanne:
    • During the final season, John Goodman was also filming The Big Lebowski, and so he sports the flattop haircut he had for that. At one point, he appears as Walter.
    • Becky has a very short, boyish cut for the last few episodes of season 3. Lecy Goranson had asked producers about cutting her long hair but they refused on the grounds that boys from Illinois (where the show was set) don’t like girls with short hair. (Goranson, who is from Evanston, naturally protested this, but to no avail.) When Roseanne Barr got wind of this, she took a pair of scissors and cut a large chunk of Goranson’s hair, leaving the producers no choice but to allow Goranson to cut the rest.
  • Scrubs had Elliot Reid with dark blonde hair in the first two seasons, but the network then demanded a sexier female character to draw in male viewers. So the first episode of Season 3 has Elliot giving herself a makeover involving a shorter platinum blonde haircut. While the makeover was toned down by the end of the season, Sarah Chalke remained that lighter shade of blonde for the rest of the series.
  • Selfie had Karen Gillan wearing a wig made out of the hair she shaved for Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
  • The Trope Namer for Growing the Beard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jonathan Frakes grew his beard while the show was on temporary hiatus due to the 1988 Writers' Strike; when work began on season 2, Gene Roddenberry told him to keep the beard, saying "It's nautical."
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Captain Janeway's "Bun of Steel" from the early seasons was the result of Kate Mulgrew's hair reflecting so much light on camera that it rendered early footage unusable. The tight bun was a hasty workaround that stuck until Mulgrew switched to a shorter cut midway through the show's run.
    • Kes changed from a pixie cut to a longer hairstyle that covered her Unusual Ears because Jennifer Lien became allergic to the glue used to put them on.
  • That '70s Show has an episode where Donna decides to dye her hair blonde, which came about because Laura Prepon had dyed her hair for the film Karla.
  • Inverted for Felicity: the scripted Important Haircut near the beginning of season 2 instead wrote real life, as it were, coinciding with a drop in ratings and engendering a lot of buzz over whether shearing off Keri Russell's locks was to blame for the show's Sophomore Slump. As a result, the WB introduced an order that no young stars on their shows could make major hair changes without permission.
  • Bob Ross' iconic faux-Afro during his time hosting The Joy of Painting was a carry-over from his early days when he permed his hair to save money on haircuts. He reportedly didn't much care for the look, but by the time he was starting to see some success in his art career, the 'fro had become a staple of his brand, so he kept it.
  • Elliot Page's Important Haircut which occured shortly before he publicly came out as a trans man was carried over to the third season of The Umbrella Academy (2019) when his character Viktornote  does the same in episode 2 after going on a self-discovery journey and before publicly coming out to his family.
  • Gillian Anderson wore a wig in the reboot of The X-Files. This was reportedly due to her going blonde for The Fall (2013), and being told that dying her hair to Scully's red and bleaching it again to Stella Gibson's platinum blonde would cause hair loss. X-Files fans were not fond of the wig and were confused, since Scully had also been blonde (though strawberry blonde, closer to Anderson's natural color) in The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and no explanation for why had been given either in-universe or otherwise.
  • Yellowjackets:
    • Adult Natalie's hair is in a "dishevelled bob" because Juliette Lewis had to cut it that way for Secret Lies.
    • Season 2's first episode has a brief scene of Lottie in a mental hospital where she has shoulder-length hair. Courtney Eaton had cut it that way at that point, and it helped indicate the passage of time. For continuity reasons, she wore a wig for the 1996 flashbacks.

    Music 
  • Ariana Grande's signature look of hair pulled back into a high ponytail came about when she had to keep her hair red for Victorious and later Sam & Cat. The years of dyeing damaged it, so wearing it in the ponytail was initially just to cover all the split ends.
  • Atomic Kitten
    • Jenny's bobbed hair for "Love Doesn't Have To Hurt" and the first half of the Ladies Night period was because people were having trouble telling her apart from the other two, and it was also wrecked from using extensions too much.
    • Likewise Jenny putting extensions in for "Someone Like Me" was because Natasha showed up one day with a short haircut identical to hers.
  • Bobby Brown sported a Gumby-esque hairdo from the making of "Every Little Step" when his barber, who was flirting with the girls on the set, accidentally cut off half of his flat top at a slant angle.
  • Eminem got high on ecstasy and idiotically bleached his hair during the production of The Slim Shady LP, marking his transition from the dark-haired underground battle-rapper of "Just Don't Give A Fuck" and the video for Korn's "Got the Life", to the platinum-blond platinum-selling pop star of "My Name Is".
  • Similar to the "Neighbours" example above, Jason Donovan had brown hair in the music video for the song "Hang on to Your Love" because he was taking a break from filming another miniseries.
  • Jordan Lennon (aka Jay-El) sports a buzzcut for his "Poisoned City" video because it was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic and, like many others, he'd taken to buzzing his hair due to barbershops being closed.
  • Melanie C dyed her hair blonde and cut it short in the year 1999 after the Spice Girls went on hiatus, because she was annoyed that people couldn't tell her apart from Victoria.
  • Metallica's James Hetfield had to cut his hair after a pyrotechnics accident. It's thought that the rest of the group cutting theirs was a gesture of solidarity.
  • In the S Club 7 video for "You're My Number One", Bradley is just wearing a beanie because the video's rushed production meant there was no time to braid his hair.
  • Seal changed his image by shaving off his short dreads in 1993, opting to go bald and has maintained that look since then.
  • The Weeknd ditched his iconic hairstyle to a fade hairstyle at the start of his Starboy era before donning a short curly afro for his After Hours era.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • John "Bradshaw" Layfield famously had long black hair for most of his career. When his stock investments went up and he had to be on Wall Street more often, he cut the hair short and stopped dying it black. This eventually led to him changing character completely to JBL.
  • Roxxi Laveaux infamously getting her head shaved at the 2008 Sacrifice PPV in TNA was because her hair had been ruined from dyeing it purple.
  • Kevin Nash lost a Hair vs Hair match against Chris Jericho because he had to cut his hair for The Punisher (2004). And the bleach blond he had for that week (and therefore the film) was (according to Chris Jericho's autobiography) a whim to fool the fans into thinking he wouldn't get his hair cut if he'd just bleached it.
  • Molly Holly:
    • Her blonde hair for the first half of her career came about because her initial gimmick on WCW was 'Miss Madness', and Randy Savage suggested she bleach it to fit the Pageant Queen image. She kept the blonde hair long after she switched personas to Mona and later Molly Holly in WWE.
    • She changed her hair from blonde to brown after her 2002 Face–Heel Turn because it had been fried from years of bleaching, and she saw the heel turn as a good opportunity to change it. It was initially worn long but had to be cut short because it was "like straw".
    • Her famous head shave at WrestleMania 20 came about because she heard there would be no women's match on the show - so she offered to lose a Hair vs Title match.
  • Dolph Ziggler briefly cut his hair short in 2011 when the bleaching had ruined it - also partly due to Executive Meddling saying he needed short hair to be taken seriously. Widely disliked, as it made him look like The Generic Guy, he re-bleached it as soon as it got long enough.
  • Hulk Hogan had to lose his famous mustache for a movie role in October 1995. The Dungeon of Doom attacked him and shaved it off on TV. However, they didn't say they shaved his mustache because that would be too ordinary for them. They said that they "plucked the whiskers of the rare white Bengal Tiger!"
  • Similar to JBL, Triple H buzzed his long hair off in 2012 due to his backstage role as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations requiring a more professional look.
  • Shawn Michaels was bald during his brief return to the ring in 2018 due to him having shaved it for his role in the film 90 Feet From Home - where he plays a cancer patient. Many fans thought he'd embraced his hair loss and would keep it shaved, but he would grow his remaining hair back afterwards.
  • Kurt Angle had his head shaved after losing a Hair vs. Hair match to Edge at Judgement Day 2002. The reason being that Kurt was rapidly going bald anyway.
  • John Cena sported longer hair than his usual crew cut in 2019 because he had to grow it out for filming Project X-Traction.
  • Natalya Neidhart sported red hair from mid-2008 until 2009 because she felt there were too many other blonde Divas and wanted to distinguish herself. She reverted to blonde when the Hart Dynasty was formed, and added a pink streak to her hair to fit the Hart family's pink and black colour scheme.
  • Nikki Bella of the Bella Twins originally favored blonde hair (though she is naturally dark) but had to dye hers the same colour as Brie when they did the identical twin models thing. As being identical and switching places in matches was their initial gimmick in WWE, they had to maintain this for years (Brie at one point sported bangs at a red carpet event but had extensions in whenever she was on TV). In 2013 when they began to differentiate their personalities on-screen, Nikki added blonde highlights.
  • Danger Dawn of Irish wrestling had red hair for 2014 but reverted to brown later in the year because she was doing background work on Vikings and they required the hair to be a natural colour.
  • Becky Lynch had dyed red hair when she first debuted on WWE television for the sake of an Oireland gimmick that was dropped due to negative audience reactions. She kept the hair for a while (even though she had no reason to) until adopting a Steampunk look with her hair dyed orange. After becoming the Man, is became more of a dark strawberry blonde.
  • Similar to Kurt Angle, Steve Austin shaved his head in early 1996 because he was losing his hair anyway. He briefly tried to rock a buzz cut, but didn't like it and shaved all his hair off in the hotel bathroom right before a WWF event. The new look led to him ditching his bland "Ringmaster" character in favor of his his bald "Stone Cold" persona.
  • Eric Bischoff had his head shaved during his 1998-99 feud with Ric Flair. Bischoff said he came up with the idea because he was tired of dying his hair black. He was Prematurely Grey-Haired and had been dying it for many years. Now that he was in his mid-forties, he was ready to embrace his natural gray hair. He went through the same scenario again in his 2002-2005 WWE run, as Vince McMahon personally requested Bischoff to dye his hair black again upon being hired and it was shaved on-screen once more towards the end of Bischoff's run.
  • In late 1995 into 1996, Sting swapped his trademark bleach-blond flattop for a longer, brunette (his natural color) style. This was entirely Steve Borden's decision, as he felt the flattop was out-of-style and he wanted to change with the times. The new hairstyle led to him switching to his legendary "Crow" persona near the end of 1996. And in a case of real life preventing a hairstyle change, Sting has stated that one of the reasons why he never reverted back to the surfer Sting persona is because of his hair loss in later years preventing him from bringing back the flattop.
  • 'Session Moth' Martina had purple in her hair for 2017 but soon went back to blonde because it was too much upkeep. She had previously been black haired but bleached it blonde to distinguish herself from Katey Harvey.
  • Naomi initially competed with her hair in braids but, on being called up to television to be part of NXT Season 3, the higher-ups showed her a picture of Naomi Campbell and told her "we want you to look like that". As a result, she was notable for wearing a straight weave for most of her career (although she did experiment with a few different styles). It wasn't until 2020 that she wrestled with her hair naturally in an afro.
  • Naomi's partner in The Funkadactyls Cameron also initially competed with her natural dark hair. But to avoid people confusing her with Naomi, she first added some brown highlights and later became blonde. Once the team split, she darkened her hair again.
  • An ironic example of real life preventing a hair change, but Sonya Deville was booked in a Hair vs Hair match against Mandy Rose for SummerSlam 2020. As the match was set up by Sonya ambushing Mandy and cutting her hair, most expected that Sonya would lose and get shaved bald. A week beforehand however, it was changed to a Loser Leaves WWE match. The reason was that Sonya had been the victim of an attempted kidnapping in her home, and would need to appear in court - therefore needing a more 'professional' appearance.
  • Krissy Vaine was best known for being platinum blonde on the indies in Team Blondage. But when she was in DSW and OVW, she had darker hair. This is because WWE refused to hire her because she looked too similar to Torrie Wilson with her original colour. She had decided to go back to platinum blonde by the time of her short-lived call up in 2007.
  • Jillian Hall was originally portrayed as The Cutie with her natural darker hair. When in OVW, she opted to get breast implants, Jim Cornette had her bleach her hair as well; the incident inspired him to write a storyline where the implants leaked into her head and turned her into a Dumb Blonde.
  • Angela Fong had her natural dark hair in FCW. When she was called up to the main roster as 'Savannah', she lightened her hair to stop people mixing her up with Gail Kim (the only other Asian woman in WWE at the time).
  • Javier Bernal was signed to WWE with near waist-length hair (he was previously a long hair model). Right before his debut on 205 Live, John Laurinitis "pretty much ordered" him to cut it short.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Goldberg's trademark shaved head was a result of Bill wanting to get rid of the mullet he sported during his professional football career (it made him sweat a lot), not because he was trying to copy Steve Austin.
  • Several wrestlers with long blond or light-brown hair had to cut theirs short in the early 2000s to avoid looking too similar to Triple H - who at this point was Vince McMahon's son-in-law and carried a lot more backstage power.
    • Stevie Richards had long hair for his entire career, even when he debuted in WWF. When the planned 'Blonde Bytch Project' gimmick was dropped, he was repackaged with short hair. He found this as a good opportunity, as it led to him being put in the Right to Censor gimmick.
    • Val Venis likewise originally had long hair and cut it short right before being brought into the Right to Censor as well. This was also because his gimmick of a wrestling porn star needed to be phased out thanks to frequent complaints from the Parents Television Council. The Godfather was put into the Right to Censor for similar reasons, although didn't have to change his hair.
    • Test actually resisted this pressure for a while, as it initially surfaced when he was in The Un-Americans stable; they wanted all four guys to have military haircuts, which was already Lance Storm and William Regal's look. He went short in 2002 as part of a storyline where Stacy Keibler was trying to make him more marketable.
    • Christian likewise shortened his hair in 2003 to coincide with winning the newly reinstated Intercontinental Championship, having resisted the pressure in The Un-Americans too.
  • Daniel Bryan:
    • He became known for his long hair and beard in the 2010s (after being short and clean-shaven for his American Dragon run on the indies). In his feud with Bray Wyatt, he suggested that the latter rip part of his beard out as a way of "stripping me of my identity". The higher-ups liked the idea and wanted Bray Wyatt to cut some of his hair too. Bryan wasn't keen on the idea of his hair being cut but compromised on the condition that it would only be a little. As it was live television and happening under the ring (with the strands of hair and beard being thrown out through a hole), the barbers accidentally cut too much off, and after the show the only way to fix it was essentially a buzzcut.
    • Beforehand, he only had the beard so long to distract from his head, as he wanted to just grow his hair long and the beard would make the "awkward middle stage" look less ridiculous.
  • While Sasha Banks opts for brightly coloured hair like pink, purple and blue because it fits her character - she rarely shows pictures of her natural hair to make it harder for fans to recognise her in public.
  • Ryan Nemeth, when he was in FCW and NXT as 'Briley Pierce', dyed his brown hair darker specifically to look different from his brother Dolph Ziggler, who was sporting bleach blond hair on the main roster. It was then flipped around when he debuted for AEW, as his brother had let his natural hair grow out, so he bleached his again to distinguish.
  • After Shotzi Blackheart got part of her hair cut by Bayley in a post-match attack, she went crazy and shaved the rest off. In reality, she shaved her head to support her sister who is fighting liver cancer.
  • Karlee Pérez was dark-haired for most of her career, but had to lighten her hair with blonde streaks around the time of her re-debut on NXT Redemption in 2011 as Derrick Bateman's girlfriend. This is because she had previously pitched a storyline involving her as a Femme Fatale seducing Teddy Long on Smackdown, but it was given to Aksana instead, who then had to dye her hair from blonde to black and essentially take on Maxine's aesthetic. Karlee then had to change her hair and gear to distinguish herself from it. Once enough time had passed, she went redhead and then eventually returned to her original colour.
  • Michael Hayes had long hair for most of his wrestling career, fitting his 'Purely Sexy' rock star gimmick. When he debuted in WWF as 'Dok Hendrik' in 1995, he had short hair for a while, because cutting it was a condition of being hired in the first place.
  • Mick Foley was usually long-haired when he was a full time wrestler, with it being the longest it ever was when he was Mankind. On a retirement and return in 2000 now as a character role 'Commissioner Foley', he had a buzz cut, which he described as a deliberate attempt to not be seen as Mankind anymore. He grew the hair back out and kept it that way until 2017, where he first appeared with a shorter cut one week and then a buzz cut the next, which was motivated by a mistake made with the first. He's kept it short ever since.

    Other 
  • The Actors' Life Podcast, filmed over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic saw many guests sporting 'lockdown hair' (either overgrown or buzzed short, due to barbers and hairdressers being closed. Some other examples.
    • Bobby Calloway (the host) has a crewcut when interviewing Dawn Wolfe because he'd cut it for the short film Widespread.
    • When Season 2 started up in 2021, he had a buzz cut again because he'd had to shave it for Gold Standard. He was also required to grow a thick beard for it too.
    • Greg Young at one point appears without his beard, because he'd shaved it off for an audition to play a sixteen-year-old.
  • In his autobiography Immediate Action, former Special Air Service trooper Andy McNab recounts an incident where Princess Diana's hair was singed by an explosion during a hostage rescue demonstration. One emergency trip to the stylist later, tabloids began raving about her new, shorter hairstyle.
  • Liana K chopped her long hair to shoulder length in early 2020 right before beginning her Bossfight series. She explained that since the series would have her wearing a lot of wigs to play different characters, shorter hair would fit under the wigs better.
  • Model Liz Seibert made news in 2021 for an incident that went viral on her TikTok account, where a hairdresser made a mistake and burned off most of her hair right before she'd been booked for several events at New York Fashion Week. At the advice of her agent, she wore extensions for the week, and then got a pixie haircut afterwards. She's kept her hair short ever since, wanting to make sure it's healthy before growing it out again.

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