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Redheads Are Uncool

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When even the token minorities reject you.

"Ron had been suffering from swine flu and people were avoiding him. Luckily, he was ginger, and he was used to it."
Frankie Boyle, Mock the Week, "Unlikely lines from a Harry Potter book"

The high tendency in fiction for young nerds, geeks, and other social outcasts to have red hair.

They're often gingers, redheads with pale skin and freckles, but not necessarily. They might have intellectual hobbies like reading. Their clothes are probably far from stylish and they are likely to have minor health problems. They are easily picked on for these things, not necessarily for their hair color, unlike the Red-Headed Stepchild. They also have a tendency to be a Shrinking Violet. If they're not then they'll be an uncontrollable Fiery Redhead who gets into big trouble. Despite how different they are, they can grow out of it and by the time they mature they can be expected to blossom into a self-assured person who is calm, strong and elegant. In the mean time they will probably make a loyal friend.

The character might think that it's just their hair color making people look down on them like the Red-Headed Stepchild, but if it was a different color they wouldn't be so self conscious and make themselves look bad. Dye jobs tend to backfire though. A sign of maturity is fixing up their hair but keeping it red.

The Brainy Brunette can similarly not fit in, but their geeky intelligence gives them a calm confidence that the redhead lacks. If the character has red/brown hair they only count if it's noticeably red and they have that lack of confidence among their peers.

On the other hand, mature redheads are wanted by heroes. Being Truth in Television varies between individuals, but No Real Life Examples, Please!


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  • Bill Burr has frequently commented on the stereotype in his stand-up and on his podcast, acknowledging its ubiquity but also making no secret of his annoyance with it (specifically citing the South Park example as having a lot to do with its ubiquity by turning it into a meme).
  • A joke about the Harry Potter franchise is that the least plausible thing that could happen in a world of magic is that a redhead could have two friends.

    Comic Books 
  • Robin: Philmont Denlinger is a redheaded geek with freckles who gets relentlessly bullied.
  • Spider-Boy: While most people don't know he's a redhead under the mask, once the photo of Spider-Boy with his fangs bared during the fight with Electro is published in the Bugle, civilians start reacting with fear toward him. Joked about by Christina when Bailey is venting to her about people thinking he's "some weird bloodsucking vampire kid."
    Bailey: C'mon. Would you and your family have taken me in if the first time you saw me I had all my fangs and extra eyes out?
    Christina: Please. You unmasked in front of me... and showed me you were a ginger. That's way worse than a vampire!
  • Will Vandom from W.I.T.C.H. and the animated series is the The Leader of the titular group and the relatable everygirl that worries about her figure and whether her boyfriend would prefer older, more mature girls while also having trouble with her math classes, not helped by the fact that her teammates are a gorgeous blonde Lovable Alpha Bitch, a free-spirited Otaku that is talented in designing and making clothes, a Teen Genius that's also a skilled dancer and an "early bloomer" that had several more boyfriends than the other girls during the comic's run, making it harder for Will to stand out in comparison. It's actually downplayed that despite Will's confidence issues and sometimes poor self-image she's an excellent compeitive swimmer, dating one of the coolest guys at her school and as mentioned is the leader of a team of Magical Girl Warriors that have saved the multiverse multiple times and are closer than sisters to her, so it's more that Will feels like an unpopular redhead than actually being one.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld continuations, Mariella Smith-Rhodes, despite being no plain jane in her own right, is continually eclipsed by a stunningly beautiful best friend who crosses a continent breaking hearts and attracting, at the final count, a hundred and seventy-eight offers of marriage. Mariella is the disregarded companion, and a running joke is that whatever culture or civilization she is in, she attracts a name in the local language meaning "Oh, Her? Ginger With Freckles". When the adventure is at an end and she is conscripted into her country's army for National Service, her Army nickname is, inevitably, Sproetjie or somply Sproet. note  Her older sister Johanna, also red-haired, pale skinned and freckled, points out she got it too: her best friend at school was an archetypical gorgeous blonde who attracted all the attention, leaving the red-haired best friend disregarded on the sidelines. Read about Mariella's rite of passage in Gap Year Adventures.
  • In Tales of the Undiscovered Swords, Kiriha Sadamune the quiet and reserved boy who spends most of his time writing a diary has two red pigtails, which are often mocked as "carrots" by his Big Brother Bully. He later becomes a Fiery Redhead who trounces said deranged brother in a violently bloody duel.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe has maroon hair but she's harassed and bullied by her classmates for not being into Pokémon. She also feels like she's never noticed by her father, who is more into the dark haired Ash and Goh for being research fellows.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Cabin in the Woods pigeonholes redheaded Dana into the role of 'The Virgin' - who in horror movie tropes is typically the boring, uncool one of the group. Notably her friend Jules has dyed her hair blonde to become 'The Whore', and we never find out what her original colour was.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The redheaded Fregley is established early on as the least popular kid in the school, due to his many bizarre tendencies.
  • Halloween (1978) downplays it but the auburn-haired Laurie is the shy, bookish one out of her trio of friends.
  • The Last King of Scotland: Idi Amin tells Nicholas Garrigan that if he could be anything other than a Ugandan, he would be a Scot, except for having red hair, because while Scottish women find it attractive, Africans like Amin are disgusted.
  • Ophelia is a redhead and is regarded as a misfit amongst the ladies-in-waiting, teased for dancing clumsily, reading for fun, wearing flowers, and being unable to afford the finer clothes and jewellery. She tends to be rather reserved at first, before becoming more outspoken.
  • The Quiet Man: Mary-Kate is considered trouble by the locals because of her red hair, but the protagonist Sean (who's American) finds her beautiful.
  • The Wrecking Crew: The redheaded Freya (played by the naturally blonde Sharon Tate) is framed as a geeky, hapless klutz. None of Contini's henchwomen are redheaded and they come across as more elegant and worldly in contrast to Freya.

  • Anne of Green Gables: Anne definitely believes this. Her relationships with Rachel Lynde and Gilbert Blythe are openly hostile at first because they teased her about her red hair, which she hopes will some day darken into "a real handsome auburn" (which it eventually does). Still, though at times she can get very careless and cause mishaps, Anne is popular with her peers and rarely considered "uncool" by other people.
  • The Art of Starving: Matt is a redhead who's bullied for being gay and whose Only Friend has moved away before the story started. Through the novel, he becomes more popular thanks to his new-found powers and his relationship with the school's soccer star Tariq.
  • The Baby-Sitters Club: As Mallory Pike is the only one in her family with red hair, glasses and braces. Mallory often feels unattractive and an ongoing plot arc of hers was trying to convince her parents to let her spice up her look with contacts, pierced ears, and a new wardrobe. She also feels like her parents treat her like a baby.
  • Bad News Ballet has Gwen Hays, who along with her Weight Woe hates her stringy, limp red hair.
  • In The Cinderella Murder, Nicole is naturally a strawberry blonde and was a shy, dorky girl with little self-confidence as a teen; she tended to be so focused on her studies she didn't have much room to figure out who she was beyond that. Her more glamorous and outgoing roommate Madison tended to look down on her, though her other roommate Susan was protective of her and even tried to set her up with a classmate. As an adult, Nicole is more confident and comfortable in her own skin, and dyes her hair dark brown.
  • Circle of Magic: Trisana "Tris" Chandler has curly red hair (her friend Briar calls her "Coppercurls"), gray eyes, and wears spectacles. She believes herself to be fat and is called "Fatty" a few times by some of the series' crueler characters. Before she learned control over her magic, strange things would happen when she got angry or emotional, such as causing it to hail indoors or to strike lightning nearby.
  • The eponymous Eleanor of Eleanor & Park gets picked on for being fat and having red hair, which she's suitably insecure about. Her time with Park leads her to rise above this.
  • Evernight:
    • Bianca has very obvious red hair and is considered a geeky, socially awkward bookworm. It's implied that she could be 'cool' if she really tried, but she figures out early on she'd prefer to stay a loser than change herself to fit in with the 'Evernight types' (probably not a bad thing seeing how most of them are snobs and assholes who bully outcast students). It also doesn't stop the heroes from wanting her.
    • Averted by Adrian, Bianca's dad, a biology teacher who is seen as a Cool Teacher (although he's said to have very dark red hair that looks almost black, while Bianca's hair is a much brighter shade).
  • Harry Potter:
    • Rowling introduces Ron Weasley as "tall, thin and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose." He quickly becomes Harry's best friend, but feels overshadowed by his older brothers, and feels embarrassed to have to use second hand supplies and wear second hand clothes. Harry choosing to befriend him over the posh, snobbish Malfoy sets the tone for both relationships from that point on.
    • His older brother, Percy, and his father, Arthur, may also qualify for their own reasons. Percy is pompous, bossy, and sucks up to authority to get ahead, but generally treated as an afterthought or a mere annoyance by most except his parents. Arthur, while a very kind and intelligent man, is seen as a loser of sorts for his lower-class financial status, his keen interest in all things Muggle-related, and his refusal to suck up to his superiors and co-workers to advance. Incidentally, Percy also looked down on Arthur for these very things.
    • Averted with most of the rest of the (notably redheaded) Weasley family. Fred and George are very popular at Hogwarts, Ginny seems to come into her own as she gets more comfortable in her skin, Charlie works with dragons, and Bill is - as Harry succinctly put it once - just cool. Molly is also quite well-liked, even if she can be overbearing.
  • Joyride: Joyce is prudish to the point that even her only real ally in her circle of "friends" is prone to being agitated by her.
  • Beatrice Löwenström of Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt belongs to the fiery cathegory. She's both an intelligent book lover and a plucky tomboy, not to mention that she's a proto-feminist, which turns a lot of people away from her. She's described as not conventionally beautiful, with too many freckles and a too wide mouth, and she also seems to often wear unflattering clothes.
  • TimeRiders: Maddy, a geeky girl with frizzy strawberry blonde hair, glasses and asthma.
  • Generally averted quite in many of R.L. Stine's Fear Street books, wherein his fondness for redheads seems to shine through. Many protagonists or very beautiful, usually popular or mysterious girls, are described as redheads. (Usually, green-eyed redheads.) Although that doesn't stop them from dying horribly (Marla Newman), suffering severe brain damage that renders them mentally retarded (Rachel from Broken Hearts), or just being a nasty, horrible person in general (Karma Houdini Reva Dalby from the Silent Night series).
  • World Of Wishes: Protagonist Maddie, a redhead, is often picked on at school by haughty mean girls for a variety of petty reasons, particularly her "carroty hair" and braces. She tries her best to ignore them, although it still bothers her at times.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7th Heaven has an episode where Mary's high school friends tease a girl with frizzy red hair for wearing flannel and being fat.
  • 8 Simple Rules: The middle daughter Kerry is often made fun of for her red hair by her more beautiful older sister Bridget. Kerry despises anything to do with femininity. When she meets a modelling agent who's interested in her sister, she launches into a spiel about how how shallow and superficial modelling is...until said agent compliments her on how beautiful her red hair is and suggests she try modelling. Kerry immediately starts gushing.
  • Bridgerton: The Featheringtons are treated mostly as uncouth pariahs, and all of the women have dark red hair.
  • ER: Kerry Weaver. Fussy, officious, hypercritical, hypocritical, two-faced, control freak, irritating, etc, etc.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow is presented as a bookish nerd with considerable computer skills, dowdily dressed and easily intimidated by more popular girls in school. Willow becomes much more confident in college, finally finding a place that respects her intellect, and to show that, she has embraced the redness of her hair by having dyed it a brighter red.
  • A joke in Game of Thrones where Jon Snow assigns latrine duty to one of his friends and says "it's a good job for a ginger."
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • Sabrina's first best friend in the series Jenny had a mane of red curls and was considered a 'freak' by the Alpha Bitch. Jenny however willingly embraced being seen as an outsider.
    • And inverted with the aunts, where the Cool Aunt Vesta is the only redhead.
  • In the pilot of Smallville, nine-year-old Lex Luthor is being chastised for being scared and keeping his eyes closed while on the helicopter ride. Once he opens them he gets more scared and needs to use his inhaler because he has an asthma attack. That day the meteor shower caused him to lose all his red hair.
  • Stranger Things: Subverted in Season 2 (at least from the boys' perspective) with the introduction of Max, a tomboy girl who likes skateboarding and video games.
  • One contestant on the UK version of Ten Years Younger said point blank that she did not want to become a redhead. Needless to say she had an Oh, Crap! reaction when stripping the black dye from her hair resulted in a ginger colour.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Double Homework:
    • Dennis’s red hair completes his stereotypically nerdy look. And nobody likes how he turned out, not even his father.
    • Interestingly, Tamara embraces this trope. She has no desire to be “cool” or popular. Even her clothing style is meant to be subversive more than trendy.
  • Subverted with Becca from Melody, who only thinks she’s uncool. She’s actually beloved not only by the protagonist but by the fans, who picked her hair color (among other physical features) via poll.

    Web Animation 

  • Inverted in El Goonish Shive. Nanase Kitsune is both a redhead and The Ace.
  • Amusingly enough, the writer/artist of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is a ginger, and as his comics would imply, a MASSIVE nerd. Also played straight with several of his comics. One strip decided that male redheads fall into this category, while females fall into the opposite camp.
    Doctor: Not only are you ugly, but if you ever have any daughters, everyone will want to nail them!
  • Tyler Dawn from morphE, a red-headed college student who makes obscure pop culture references to compare his strange new situation. In canon he is barely tolerated for being annoying and uncool.
  • Questionable Content: Siblings Clinton and Claire Augustus have brilliantly red hair and unabashedly geeky passions. Clinton is an AI buff who briefly stalks Hannelore when he learns that her father is a famous AI pioneer, while Claire is a literature camp-attending aspiring librarian who claims that she couldn't survive outside the "library ecosystem". Both get significant Character Development and end up befriending the main cast.

    Western Animation 
  • As Told by Ginger: Ginger is presented this way, especially in early episodes, however her being unpopular doesn't stop her from being a Dude Magnet or befriending the most popular girl in her middle school.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter is a geeky redheaded boy-genius, complete with giant glasses, lab coat and awkward speech.
  • Family Guy: The Goldman family, father, wife and son are all gingers and are walking clichés of uncool tropes.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
  • Hey Arnold!: Eugene had red hair and is the accident-prone resident jinx.
  • Carl from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius is chubby, awkward, and frequently uses his inhaler as well as receiving other injuries (specifically injuring his scapula.)
  • Eugly from Kaeloo is a shy and awkward redhead who is constantly subjected to verbal abuse and harassment by everybody except her boyfriend, Quack-Quack.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Nathanael spends a lot of his time drawing, and is made fun of by Chloe for his crush on another classmate. This leads him to turn into a villain for one episode and attempt to get revenge on her.
  • My Gym Partner's a Monkey: Adam Lyon is a typical freckle-faced ginger boy who is frequently pushed around and bullied, with rarely anything ever going right for him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Twist shows several stereotypically nerdy traits, such as a curly red mane and tail, pale coat, large, large glasses, and a nasal Speech Impediment (she has a hard time pronouncing W's and S's). She is the last one in her class to get her cutie mark before the cutie mark crusaders.
  • The Proud Family: The redheaded Zoey has glasses, braces, a lanky body, and a desperate attempt to be cool.
  • Rugrats: Chuckie Finster is danger-prone, cowardly, wears glasses that would break from time to time, has a perpetually stuffy nose, and is often picked on by other kids. So much so that there have been entire episodes devoted to him having an operation that temporarily cleared his nose, him trying to dye his hair black to fit in with the rest of the kids, and his other quirks.
  • South Park: The "Ginger Kids" episode features Cartman turning his bigotry on redheads, claiming that they're soulless and unattractive to the point of being frightening. Subverted halfway through when the other boys make Cartman look like a ginger to teach him a lesson: Cartman immediately starts a ginger supremacy group and tries to kill all of the non-ginger kids. Several seasons later, this becomes a double subversion: 201 sheds some light on Cartman's true father, and Scott Tenorman, whose parents had been previously murdered by Cartman reveals that they are half-brothers on their father's side, meaning Cartman himself is in his own eyes half-ginger. Cartman is also one of the most unpopular kids at South Park Elementary, not at all helped by the fact he's a sociopath.
  • Total Drama:
    • Harold has a lot of traits that make him look strange in the eyes of the other contestants, such as his nerdiness, know-it-all persona and rather poor hygiene. These traits (especially the first two) are the main reasons he usually isn't respected by the others, especially Duncan, who enjoys picking on him. He does, however, have more than enough moments where his "mad skills" help him lead his team to victory, earning their respect.
    • Sam from Revenge of the Island is an overweight video game geek who farted at his first and only date with a girl before Dakota and his first interactions with her are rather awkward. However, after Dakota becomes an intern, he soon starts to break through her shell.
    • Averted with Scarlett from Pahkitew Island. While she is a genius who tends to say things the others don't understand, she doesn't display any of the negative stereotypes associated with nerds. Also, she is secretly an Evil Genius.
    • Rodney on the other hand, seems to be a straight example. While not exactly a nerd, he's extremely socially awkward towards girls, as a result of living with several brothers and his father being single. He develops a crush on three of the female contestants, but his attempts at trying to talk to them are terrible.
  • The Wild Thornberrys: Eliza Thornberry can be geeky at times. She has red hair (always in braids), large glasses, braces, an overbite and a chimpanzee as a best friend, all the while being homeschooled while traveling the world and hiding her secret ability for talking to animals.