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Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl

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The split ends are the scariest part.

Pat: Why is every Asian ghost exactly the same ghost... person?
Matt: Well, the girl in The Ring is different.
Pat: No, I mean, they're literally all ladies in white clothes with super-long black hair that's all tangled and stuff.
Matt: What's scarier than a lady coming at you?

An entity often seen in Japanese horror movies is a ghost, usually that of a young woman, with long, stringy black hair that covers her face, clad in a white burial kimono or shroud. Her face itself is often quite ghastly to look upon. She is commonly barefoot, if she has feet at all. In some cases, this type of ghost will appear with a pair of ghostly blue flames hovering around her.

This is actually a type of ghost known as an onryō, the ghost of a young woman who was greatly wronged by a man in life and now seeks vengeance on the living. Usually, the man who actually did the wronging is left untouched by the onryō (unless he's a main character) and her anger tends to be directed more at anyone unlucky enough to run into her. While the onryō goes as far back as 729 A.D., the Trope Codifier was undoubtedly Sadako Yamamura from The Ring given how iconic she is to Japanese horror and the horror genre in general, to the point it's hard to find examples that do not reference her to some extent.

While there are a few male onryō in kabuki, the vast majority are female. And while there are similarly a small number of exceptions with lighter and/or more colorful hair, and even a few with skin that isn't ghost-white, the overwhelming majority are Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunettes.

In most media, the onryō has no one in particular to seek vengeance on, rather inflicting it on everyone in the area.

This trope, while a staple in Asian media for a long time, also became insanely popular in Western media during The Noughties and early in The New '10s. Compare with Bedsheet Ghost, Undeathly Pallor, and Yuki-onna. Contrast with Cute Ghost Girl note . Usually comes with a side serving of Screamer Trailer. See also Undead Child and Vengeful Ghost, as well as the occasional Ghost Pirate who happens to be a girl.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The story that Doumeki tells about his grandfather's encounter with a ghost during the Hundred Ghost Story Ceremony in ×××HOLiC features one of these, albeit one wearing a simple dress as opposed to a burial kimono or shroud.
  • In Angel Densetsu, while the protagonist and his father combine Looks Like Cesare with Face of a Thug, his mother, while pretty, scares people because she looks like this.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Deserted Island Diary: In "The Ultimate Photoshoot!", when taking a photo at Harvey's photo studio, the human quartet set up a spooky scene involving a well, out of which a Stringy-Haired Transparent Ghost Girl comes. Harvey quickly befriends her, much to Benben's shock.
  • In Anne Freaks, Yuri's dead mother is shown as this in his hallucinations. The few flashbacks we see of her when she was alive also show her looking this way, which is likely to show her as unhinged since she's heavily implied to have sexually abused him.
  • Parodied in Attack on Titan, when Galliard arrives for an early-morning meeting and is greeted at the top of the stairs by one of these crawling around on all fours. He nearly falls back down the stairs in shock, before realizing that it's just Pieck just screwing with him.
  • Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales features Oiwa in an adaptation of Yotsuya Kaidan (see below in the Theater examples).
  • Ayakashi Triangle features a kubire oni, a Vengeful Ghost created by people who killed themselves that tries to subjects others to Psychic-Assisted Suicide. It's too emaciated to identify by gender, but wears a white robe and has long, stringy black hair. It is described as an onryō, but in-series, the term is used for Vengeful Ghosts in general (regardless of appearance).
  • Bleach:
    • Like Orochimaru, Äs Nödt looks like a Stringy-Haired Ghost Guy, with his long, straight black hair and white uniform. He wears a mask that covers his nose and mouth, so the "ghastly face" part might apply.
    • Similarly, 4th-Division captain Yachiru Unohana resembles this once The Gloves Come Off in her final fight with Zaraki Kenpachi.
  • Rare male example from Death Note. L haunts Light in this fashion right up until Light himself is killed. Though it's up for debate whether the entity Light is seeing is actually L's ghost, or whether he's merely hallucinating.
  • Miss Michiko from Den-noh Coil looks like this during her more corporeal moments.
  • Dusk Maiden of Amnesia: Yuuko Kanoe is an amnesiac ghost who wanders the halls of the school she died in. She's bubbly, flirty, and smitten with the protagonist, the first person who's seen her in the decades since her death. Then there's Shadow Yuuko, the embodied hatred and resentment she split off out of disgust with herself, who is a true onryō sporting a Slasher Smile with Scary Teeth and glowing crimson eyes.
  • Whenever Nyu from Elfen Lied turns back into Lucy she sports this appearance, despite having pink hair.
  • One of the "contestants" in Gantz is a young woman who looks like one of these. It's even lampshaded by the young model whom she is stalking, who calls her "Sadako". It turns out she's really beautiful under all the hair.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Fuyutsuki dresses as one (even calling herself Sadako) to scare the students for the Test of Courage in Okinawa.
  • Ghost Hunt naturally features a case centered around an onryō.
  • The 10th episode of Hanamaru Kindergarten has a horror-style ending song which features this.
  • Inugami Isuzu in Hayate X Blade resembles one in her initial appearance. However, after pairing up with her current shinyuu Kibi Momoka, she gets a makeover that makes her resemble Lenalee Lee.
  • Enma Ai from Hell Girl is definitely onryō-inspired (not to mention Sadako-inspired, particularly in her use of modern technology). She's less scary most of the time because she doesn't obscure her face (she goes for the Hime Cut instead), and being the protagonist, she's onscreen a lot. But beneath that unchanging, impassive expression, she's hiding deep bitterness and rage — when she loses her cool, it's the scariest thing you'll ever see. She began as a stringy haired ghost girl, and just after she got her revenge hell drafted her as a vengeance demon. So apparently hell has a dress code.
  • The "Wet Woman" from Hell Teacher Nube is an apparition that shows up during the rain, sopping wet, asking innocent passersby for shelter. Then she haunts her victims unto death, drawing so much humidity into their homes that they decay and rot within days. She's identical in appearance to Sadako.
  • In the Onisarashi-hen manga of Higurashi: When They Cry, there were one or two scenes in which the artist was definitely going for this effect.
  • In Hikiko Urban Legend Story, the titular character is an onryō that moves scary fast when she wants to.
  • Hunter × Hunter has Palm Siberia. She, on most occasions, sports this appearance because of scruffy long black hair and too much make-up, not to mention a frightening aura caused by stress. However, she is shown to be Beautiful All Along when she gets rid of that Sadako look, takes a shower and combs her hair to go on a date with Gon. Illumi, who is already an [1] invokes this trope during an infamous scene where Hisoka threatens his little brother Killua. His face becomes green and his slicked-back black hair covers his face to show his demented side, and his even eye resembles Sadako’s iconic death stare.
  • Inori in Hyakko has this look (complete with dark aura sometimes), but it's not her fault — she's just shy and doesn't know how to present herself. Her creepy smile really doesn't help.
  • Kimi ni Todoke deals with Sawako Kuronuma, a girl whose onryō-like appearance and intimidating manner of speaking leaves her alienated from her students. Many of her classmates even mistakenly call her Sadako. In truth, she's a very sweet girl whose attempts to overcome her shy nature are misread as threats or curses.
  • My Hero Academia: A male example. Yoichi Shigaraki, the first user of One For All looks like this. Except he is actually a very Nice Guy who guides the ninth user of One For All Midoriya.
  • A character very similar to Sadako, Urabe from Mysterious Girlfriend X, has short hair, but she is otherwise very clearly based on an onryō — although she is a (not) perfectly normal human girl.
  • Naruto: He's not a ghost and he's not a girl (well, at present), but Orochimaru's design is clearly based on this.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi plays around with this; Cute Ghost Girl Sayo just wants to make friends, but all her attempts to communicate with people are horribly misunderstood, and Asakura takes a Spooky Photograph of her, leading the class to assume that she's an onryō (although with white hair). It gets to the point that they even call in two professional exorcists to take care of the problem before they finally figure out that she doesn't want to hurt anyone.
  • Tamaki of Ouran High School Host Club dresses up as one in one episode.
  • Tomoka Kayahara from Ramen Fighter Miki is often mistaken for this, except when eating Onimaru Ramen.
  • In Re-Kan!, the characters make a haunted house for the School Festival, and Narumi is disguised as a onryō. Since she is terrified of ghosts, she is not too pleased about being dressed like one.
  • Sakura no Ichiban!: Whenever Tsukiko's hair is disheveled, her bangs go in her face, and when she is wearing a white kimono, people tend to get scared and mistake her for a ghost.
  • Kiri Komori of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei looks the part, having ghost-white skin and long black hair that tends to obscure her eyes. While Kiri was mistaken for a spirit by the ever-cheerful Kafuka, however, she was instead identified as a 'zashiki warashi' or house goblin. Plus, her hair is beautifully straight and not stringy in the slightest once she moves into the school. Probably because Nietzsche starts washing it for her for fanservice purposes.
  • Sgt. Frog plays with this trope. The Hinata home is haunted by the ghost of a girl who was chained up there and died, but is very friendly — because it turns out she wasn't chained up there for long and died peacefully of an ailment at her own home. The only reason she stayed around was because she hoped to see her old friend, a kappa she had befriended (who, it's implied, was actually a visitor from Keroro's homeworld of Keron) one last time.
  • Sket Dance has Reiko Yuki, who has most of the mannerisms nailed down; pale skin, long black hair, a deep, particuarly haunting tone in her voice and (in most of her appearances) usually enters the Sket Dan's clubroom through the windows. The fact that she's a member of the school's occult club helps.
  • While onryō don't appear in Strawberry Marshmallow, Miu, who has a penchant for attempting improv playacting, pretends (badly) to be possessed, seemingly by this kind of spirit (confirmation from readers of Japanese?). She even puts most of her hair in front of her face, but she doesn't leave for a costume change and return in a white kimono.
  • Reiko from There's a Ghost Behind That Gal has the usual pale complexion, sunken eyes, and long, wiry hair, but she's also very friendly and ultimatley harmless.
  • Tomie may have the hairstyle down roughly, but subverts this otherwise by being one of the most unspeakably beautiful things you'll ever see. You'll love her, and hate her, and be driven to kill her... and freak out entirely when she keeps coming back...
  • The Unpopular Mangaka and the Helpful Onryo-san: Onryo-san's hair is usually pretty normal-looking, but she otherwise fits the description of an onryō. The horror movie she and Senai watch (and she's afraid of) has a more conventional one.
  • Sunako Nakahara from The Wallflower was originally portrayed as an onryō-like Hikikomori who hated going out in the light, but was really Beautiful All Along.
  • Chizuru from Wandering Son dresses up as one during a School Festival.
  • Kuroko in Yandere Kanojo is a fairly harmless one. The worst she'll do is steal your food and hurt your ears with her piano playing.
  • Sachiko Shinozaki from the anime adaptation of “Video Game/Corpse Party”, who’s backstory justifies her being an Ax-Crazy one. Just like a traditional onryo, she was cruelly murdered to keep her mouth shut. Just like Sadako, she had literal split personality who wore white, and instead helps people rather than hurt, which is what Sadako’s twin did. Sachiko wears red too instead of white like the usual onryo does.


    Comic Books 
  • The Bell Witch in An American Haunting.
  • The Horror Host in Anthony Bourdain's Hungry Ghosts is an unnamed female youkai with scraggly black hair and an orange floral kimono, later revealed to have been one of the chefs as a human disguise.
  • Anya's Ghost: Once Emily's true colours of being a Control Freak and a Yandere are revealed, she transitions from being a Cute Ghost Girl into this, complete with malicious acts against Anya once the latter tries to oppose her.
  • The slasher from Cutter initially appears to be one of these, even wielding scissors and shears like the Kuchisake-onna, but then it's revealed that she isn't actually a ghost, she simply enjoys making the people who she is stalking and killing think that she's one.
  • A furry version of this trope happens in Katmandu with Klikatat, a mysterious feline girl who follows the main protagonist Liska when she is trying to find a new home for her tribe as a result a drought, forcing her to go to the forest to find one. Unlike many of the examples of this trope, Klikatat doesn't kill anyone here, and her job is basically warning Liska that her foredestined death is coming close. Also, it's heavily implied she was manipulating the villain of the story she debuts in, the Witch of the Woods, for unknown reasons.

    Fan Works 
  • Touhou Shinkai ~ Awakening Deep Mythos: Hayako Denki, the mid-boss of Stage 5 and the end-boss of the Extra Stage, is a young ghost girl appearing out of a floating TV screen, akin to her inspiration from The Ring. The revamped version of her song featuring her full color design furthers the connection by making her hair pure black, her outfit white, and her skin pale.
  • Yesterday Upon The Stair: Rei is a ghost of a nine-year old girl with extremely long black stringy hair, a white dress that resembles a hospital gown, and pitch black eyeballs. She's also able of messing with electronics and affect the emotions of other people. However, she's a case of Creepy Good as she's the adopted sister of Izuku whose main priority is to make him happy and be a good sister.
  • In chapter 8 part 4 of SlifofinaDragon's Sengoku Basara modern day fanfic Having fun while you can, one of the ghostly illusions Kyogoku Maria casts at the mountainside abandoned school (the same one from ‘’Gakuen Basara'' episode 8) where Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura's son Masa and his classmates have an illicit test of courage involves his sister Yuki crawling on the floor and her hair covering her face, though it’s the same color as mom Yukimura’s.
    • Maria’s sister-in-law Oichi invokes the feel in general like in the rest of the SB franchise.

    Film — Animated 
  • Coraline has the beldam, in her TRUE form. She appears as a normal woman with button eyes but transforms into a "grudge-like ghost". It's not confirmed that she is entirely a ghost.
  • Corpse Bride has Emily as this appearance. She's definitely a tragic Cute Ghost Girl more than a vengeful one. While her hair is a dark blue color, She sports a tattered white wedding dress which is a key part of this type of trope.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Chinese equivalent is the main (vengeful) heroine of the 1974 Hong Kong film All in the Dim Cold Night.
  • Mary Hatchet from Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet.
  • The Japanese ritual site in The Cabin in the Woods featured a girl like this terrorising a classroom of Japanese schoolgirls, until they perform a song and dance to turn her into a happy frog. Sitterson and Lin both prove to be quite disappointed with how it went and knock the Japanese team for their failure, deciding that their "perfect record" and reputation for efficiency in their human sacrifices was all a sham.
  • Also riding the original wave of onryō-centric horror films is Dark Water (directed by Hideo Nakata, director of Ringu).
  • The Disappointments Room has one in the poster itself.
  • The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959), being an adaptation of Trope Maker Yotsuya Kaidan (see Theater below) has this, as Oiwa returns as a stringy-haired corpse to haunt her murderous husband. Like the play it's based on and unlike many later instances of this trope, in this movie Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl Oiwa is not randomly murdering people, but is laser-focused on the man who killed her.
  • There are a few in the depths of Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum
  • Hair Extension — Yes, it's exactly what the title sounds like. All dedicated to haunted hair. It's like the film makers weren't even trying to hide it anymore!
  • Kayako from the Ju-on movies, and their remakes, The Grudge movies. Aubrey ends up as one by the end of the second movie, as well. Naoko turns into a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl after she is murdered by a curse-possessed Max in The Grudge 3.
  • Kuntilanak: The titular Kuntilanak appears as a Stringy-Haired ghost woman when she makes on-screen appearances.
  • The short Japanese film Black Hair, from the anthology Kwaidan, is a classic example.
  • The eponymous spirit in The Legend of Black Annie is a bit an atypical example of this, in that she's (as the film's title suggests) black.
  • In 1971's Let's Scare Jessica to Death, a pale young woman with long hair in a gauzy white dress frequently appears to Jessica, presumably as a warning of impending danger.
  • And crossover movie Sadako vs. Kayako features the two iconic onryō of J-Horror colliding.
  • AJ Annila's Sauna features a rare blonde example of the trope, though the black filth she oozes obscures this detail much of the time.
  • Parodied with Tabitha from Scary Movie 3.
  • Natre from the 2004 Thai horror film Shutter. Unlike the ghosts from Ring and Ju-on, the only people Natre ends up hurting or killing were the ones who deeply wronged her in life and drove her to depression and suicide. Heck, Natre even went out of her way to warn her ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend of his crimes, though this was probably motivated mostly by the desire for revenge against said ex.
  • The Thai film Sick Nurses plays with this trope when you find out the ghost is actually a MTF trans woman.
  • Enchantress from Suicide Squad strongly invokes this trope. She has messy black tendrils of long hair running down her head when she takes over June Moon. Enchantress cleans up much more nicely once she gets her heart back.
  • The Indonesian cult classic "Sundel Bolong" is about the title character taking her revenge on the gang who drove her to her death (in various creative ways)
  • Dark Alessa in the Silent Hill movie.
  • A Tale of Two Sisters has one.
  • The first part of the Japanese horror anthology Unholy Women, ''Rattle Rattle". Get past the scare factor, and you have absolutely no idea what's going on. Why do Japanese endings have to be so confusing?
  • "Bloody" Mary Banner from Urban Legends: Bloody Mary seems to be inspired by this type of spirit.
  • What Lies Beneath shows strong influence from the onryō genre.
  • The Whole Truth (2021): When Putt and Pim look into the hole, they see a girl who fits this criteria in the house. She's actually Pinya, their older sister who died when Pim was a baby and Mai was pregnant with Putt, from consuming rat poison.
  • The Korean horror film White: The Melody of the Curse features one; in this case, the ghost in question has white hair, and is believed by the protagonists to be the vengeful spirit of a K-Pop idol who committed suicide, at least until the end, where it turns out to actually be the vengeful spirit of the backup dancer who actually wrote the song and committed suicide after being mutilated by the K-Pop idol, who lashes out at anyone who sings her song — oh, and the above-mentioned idol was her first kill.
  • The 2005 South Korean horror film, "The Wig".
  • In Zebraman the main character has his tv on while working on his costume. The show has a sentai hero called in the English dub Radiation Ranger who is battling a monster that looks like this who is calling out for her son George.

  • In Jin Yong's The Book and the Sword, Yuanzhi disguises herself as one. Her disguise consists mostly of putting her hair over her face. It's effective enough to clear out a room full of mercenaries.
  • Stephen King's Duma Key has twin undead 6-year-olds Tessie and Laura appear with dripping wet hair hanging into their undead faces, and white dresses, in one of the scariest scenes in the book.
  • The protagonist of ghostgirl is presented as a girl with long, messy black hair, blank white eyes, and tattered clothes in artwork. Charlotte dies in the second chapter and spends the rest of the book in the afterlife. In contrast to other examples, she's the complete opposite of "scary". Charlotte is an awkward, unpopular teenage girl who died choking on a gummy bear.
  • In The Girl from the Well, the ghost Okiku is stated to be the in-universe origin of this trope and one of the most famous aside from Oiwa, being the subject of the folktale "Banchō Sarayashiki" and the inspiration for The Ring.
  • Kuyou Suou in Haruhi Suzumiya. An interface, similar to Nagato, but worse. Apart from being an onryō, she actually seems to be invisible to unimportant persons.
  • Juliet, David's dead sister, from Haunted (1988).
  • Sadako Yamamura from The Ring is singlehandedly responsible for making onryō popular again. While serving as the inspiration for the other works in the Ring franchise, the first book has a few major differences, while Spiral and Loop continue to expand the story.
  • The "creeping woman" from Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", who is actually a hallucination appearing to the narrator, who has been forced to stay in a room with no intellectual stimulation, or any exciting activity at all, to 'calm her nerves.' Liberal doses of nerve tonic were also prescribed, probably containing significant quantities of opium and alcohol. (Note, this was the prescribed remedy to women suffering "hysteria" in the 19th century.) The narrator eventually thinks there's a woman creeping behind the odd, vine-like pattern of the wallpaper, and eventually, sees her crawling about. Then she thinks she sees a lot of them. Then she thinks she's the creeping woman.
  • Death Trance by Graham Masterton is partly set in Bali, and draws on the folklore of this part of the Far East. The leyaks, a sort of vampire-ghost, appear this way, at least at first, with their faces completely covered in veils or long hair.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A Spanish candid camera show decided to test people's reactions to this trope in Real Life. Ditto for this Brazilian show.
  • Rosa's ghost takes this form in Alta Maror rather, the woman hired by Cassandra to play Rosa's ghost as part of an elaborate revenge plan.
  • The Chen Family from American Horror Story: Roanoke were a family of Taiwanese immigrants who lived in the Roanoke House during the early 1970's. They began experiencing supernatural phenomena during their stay so they attempted using ancestral folk magic to protect themselves, only to be killed by the Butcher and her ghostly minions. Due to the cursed nature of the property, they manifest as ghosts under the Butcher's power, killing all others that trespass on her land. Due to their heritage, the Chens all appear similar to the onryō from The Grudge, possessing long scraggly hair, clinging to the walls, walking on all fours and contorting in impossible ways.
  • The Sacred Riana, an illusionist who appeared on Asia's Got Talent and America's Got Talent with her long straight black hair almost entirely covering her face. To complete the unsettling effect, she twitched instead of speaking and never broke character.
  • Community: In the fourth season Halloween Episode "Paranormal Parentage", Jeff and Annie decide to pair up their costumes, with Jeff being a conveniently shirtless boxer and Annie being a sexy ring girl. Unfortunately, she thought he meant the girl from The Ring.
  • Game of Thrones. Arya Stark takes on this appearance when assassinating Ser Meryn Trant; her long tangled hair is initially obscuring her face, which when revealed is that of a girl who died earlier in the season, as the Faceless Man cult which is training Arya uses the faces of dead people as a glamor. Further continuing the association, Arya herself is long presumed dead by her victim.
  • Some of the Horrors in the Japanese series GARO.
  • The Haunting of Hill House (2018)'s most iconic and first-seen ghost the Bent-Neck Lady as well as most of the non-bent-necked iterations of Nell’s ghost match the look. presumably partly as a way of disguising the ghost’s identity ahead of the reveal.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Double: The Virus Dopant is an onryō in all but name: a woman who was hit by a car and put into a coma, but took a dose of Psycho Serum at the very last moment that manifests her mental energy as a vengeful spirit capable of killing her victims with a Touch of Death. Her psychic manifestation has much stringier hair, pale skin, and conveniently she was already wearing white.
    • In the Kamen Rider Zi-O Hyper Battle DVD, the four main characters go through a haunted house. Tsukuyomi turns out to love pranking the others, because they mistake her for an onryō once and then she does it on purpose, again. Helps that she has really long black hair and is always wearing white.
  • The last episode in the Masters of Horror series, "Dream Cruise".
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: Alan mistakes a long-haired nurse for this kind of ghost while patrolling at night in episode 41.
  • Despite being based off of a spirit of Germanic folklore, Nyx from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland bares a stronger resemblance to Sadako if nothing else. She emerges out of a well, she has long, unkempt dark hair, she looks like a water-logged corpse, she wears a white dress, she curses people and she is probably the scariest thing in the franchise as a whole.
  • Supernatural:
  • The Young Ones has a "fifth roommate" hidden in the background of some scenes before this trope was popular. Word of God says she showed up to a house party and never went home.

    Music Videos 
  • The German techno-goth group E Nomine's music video for "Mitternacht" features one of these.
  • Disturbed's video for "The Animal" also feature one (technically a pontianak but still similar) with red cross-shaped make up. Who later paints a cross on top of a lamb and enjoys a bloody feast before sending her wolves in an attempt to kill the band.
  • In the video for Jason Derulo's song "Cheyenne," the titular woman is based on this, with a few notable differences in appearance: instead of a white dress and stringy hair, she wears a red dress and has long, thick braids. However, her mannerisms and motivations clearly invoke the image.
  • Olivia Hye of LOONA subverts this trope with her technically being alive by the end of love4eva, but she certainly looks the part.

    Myths & Folklore 
The long-haired onryō isn't just seen in Japanese culture. Similar variations occur in other Asian countries as well, like China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea.
  • Heuksin (측신), is a Korean goddess who fits this trope, according to the myth, she is described as a woman with hair 150 cm long, and kills time by counting all her hairs. A wrathful deity, she was exiled to the domain of baths by the god Cheonjiwang, with days with the number 6 being her most dangerous moments, so ancient Koreans avoided using the bath on those days; also responsible for kidnapping children by throwing them into the toilet, due to her hatred towards the hero Nokdisaengin.
    • Traditionally in Korea, ghosts tend to follow the same archetype as the fiend in "The Ring". Female ghosts look bedraggled with hair in their face, and they are always clad in white (the color worn in funerals). This type of ghost, called a maiden ghost, is the most universally feared type of ghost in Korea.
  • Of all the ghosts in Thailand, the most famous is "Nang Naak". The story varies, but it's usually like this: An ordinary farm girl named Naak from a village falls in love with a handsome young man named Nai Maak. Despite their economical backgrounds, they eventually manage to be together. Shortly after marriage, Nai Maak is conscripted for military service and leaves Naak behind, who dies during labor along with her unborn child. Although they are buried according to local tradition, the spirit of Naak refuses to perish. When Nai Maak returns from the war, the ghost disguises herself and her child as humans to him. The revelation itself provides one of the most memorable scenes in the story when Maak sees his wife grotesquely stretching her arm through the floorboard of their elevated house to pick up a fallen lime, or a knife in another version, on the ground. The terrified husband runs away and the ghost follows him. There are many gory accounts of how Nang Naak chases, harasses, or even kills whoever comes between Maak and her. You're going to have to go on this link to learn what happens afterward —
  • In China, the classical image of a ghost is a young woman whose face is covered by long black hair, who dies due to misfortune, then comes back for revenge.,2,Slide 2
  • Indonesian and Malay mythology has a lot:
    • The most famous example is pontianak (also known as kuntilanak, especially in Java), the ghost of a woman who died while pregnant. She is vampiric and fond of sucking the blood of young men. She is associated with banana trees, where she resides during the day, and plumeria flowers, the scent of which when they are not physically around indicates the ghost's presence. Other sign includes her voice: her Evil Laugh means she is far away, but if you hear a slow giggle, she is nearby. In almost all myths, the only way to defeat her is by nailing her in the head. The ghost is the namesake of a city in Indonesian Borneo.
    • A related entity is the langsuyar. While pontianak is the ghost of a pregnant woman, langsuyar is the ghost of a woman who died giving birth. She also prefers flying over walking, befitting her name (lang means "eagle" in Malay). Otherwise, she is identical to pontianak.
    • The Sundel bolong from Javanese folklore. She is the ghost of a prostitute (sundel means "prostitute") who died giving birth to her illegitimate child. Other than long black hair, a large patch of her back is not covered by skin. Some state that the part is hollow to the front, others say that only the skin is missing, exposing her rotten meat (complete with maggots).
  • La Llorona, the "weeping woman" of Latin American myth, has elements of this.
  • Brazilian Folklore has the Blonde Girl in the Bathroom (Loira do Banheiro in Portuguese), the ghost of a blonde girl who died at a young age and was buried in her house. A school was later built where her house used to be, so she still haunts it looking for proper burial.
    • From the same Folklore, the Comadre Fulozinha is basically a Nature Spirit combined with this trope. She is the ghost of a woman with long, black, and weaponizable hair who wanders the forests and kills those who defile nature.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters:
    • One of the geists in the first edition core (in the Forgotten splat write-up) manifests like this.
    • The geist See No Evil, from the 2e jumpstart One Foot in the Grave, also manifests like this, with hollow, bleeding eye-sockets and a permanent rictus grin.
  • The Tenth Edition version of Bog Wraith in Magic: The Gathering. Appropriately enough, the flavor text refers to a location in Kamigawa, the Japan-inspired part of Magic's multiverse.

  • First and foremost is the original onryō herself, Oiwa from Yotsuya Kaidan. And yes, it is just as bad as you can imagine it.

    Video Games 
  • Alpha 13 of 7 Days to Die introduced the Screamer, an undead girl with long black hair in a white gown, whose screeching attracts other zombies. While most other zeds sport a quite gorn-y look and yell and groan like you'd expect out of the classic Romero zombie, the Screamer's intact but eerily pale complexion, tinny voice and lack of blood anywhere but on her waist and down (none of which appears to come from her) make her look far more like a ghost than a zombie.
  • The Black Heart (which runs on the below mentioned M.U.G.E.N engine) has Noroko: she is a more traditional ghost girl, with the ability to crawl on the ceiling, spew blood from her wrists, and a complete lack of a face. She sometimes has a mouth, though. A mouth to scream loudly at you, when she's on idle mode, and during one of her fatalities. She also appears to have a mirrored body; instead of legs, she seems to have another torso, with a head and two arms, seeing as some of her attacks show a pair of hands and a head appearing from below her dress. Noroko's story is also that of a traditional onryō; by completing her Story Mode, we learn that, in life, she was sacrificed (and possibly raped) by a man, that bathed a doll in her blood, for an unknown purpose (although it seems he was the leader of a cult). Her spirit was locked inside the doll, and it only awoke years later, when the heart of the King of the Other World was stolen. She now searches for the heart, hoping to use its power to find peace in death.
  • Reiko in Calling, a murderous ghost complete with the pale skin, white dress and black hair.
  • Castlevania added a screaming onryō to its menagerie of monsters in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. The English name for this enemy is "Banshee", which fits well enough.
  • Champions Online has Demoiselle Nocturne. After being murdered by her husband, she returned through his nightmares, turned his body inside-out... and then decided to stay in the mortal realm and become a supervillainess. She also began a romance with the evil sorcerer Luther Black, which is disturbing on many levels.
  • The subway level of Condemned: Criminal Origins (a game developed by the same people who made F.E.A.R.) has several female enemies that look like onryō, with black hair, pale skin, blank eyes, and tattered white dresses. They're not real ghosts-just victims of the Hate Plague affecting Metro City, and their appearance may simply be a result of living in the dark and filthy confines of the subway tunnels.
  • Sachiko Shinozaki from Corpse Party plays with this. In the original PC-98 version she was a pretty typical onryō spirit aside from being a child in red instead of a woman in white. In the Heavenly Host saga she was the Sole Survivor of a multiple-murder incident in the titular school. In-game she’s a helpful, if distant, Cute Ghost Girl. Then it turns out she was the true murderer. And then it turns out she and her mother were killed long before by the principal, corrupting her with hatred. And then it turns out she split up into two halves, the good half wears the white dress, and the evil half is the vessel of the school’s will... It only gets more complicated from there.
  • Cthulhu Mythos RPG: The Sleeping Girl of the Miasma Sea features such a monster, who will later in the game chase after you in the form of the Chaos Beast. Later on, it's revealed that it posses the body of a young girl.
  • Damned challenges four players to escape a monster controlled by a fifth player. One of those selectable monsters is Bloody Mary, a pale, stringy-haired ghost girl in a tattered white dress, who walks extremely slowly, teleports randomly around, and once in a while flies into a bloody frenzy, murdering anyone in the near vicinity.
  • Dead by Daylight:
    • Rin Yamaoka, "The Spirit", is a clear example of this trope. Originally an ordinary Japanese girl, Rin came home one day to find that her father, having suffered serious financial difficulties for some time, had finally snapped and butchered her mother with a sword. He then attacked her, cutting her to ribbons and throwing her through a glass partition. As she lay dying, the Entity offered her the chance to take out her rage on others, and she gladly took it.
    • Patch 5.6.0 brings in Sadako herself, of The Ring fame. Called "The Onryō", Sadako can be largely invisible, manifesting to attack. She can also teleport between scattered around the map. Survivors can lock Sadako out of these televisions, blocking them from her use, by moving video tapes between them. Survivors that hang on to tapes are potentially vulnerable to being killed outright rather than requiring being hooked.
  • Yurei, the final opponent in the Doom II mod Ghoul's Forest 3.
  • Faith in the video game Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is probably based on onryō. Though, to her defense, she never hurts anyone intentionally or knowingly, just wanting to live on.
  • Eastern Exorcist, a game crammed with supernatural-themed enemies, naturally have plenty of ghost-women as common mooks, depicted as floating ethereal women in flowing white robes and having long hair that conceals their faces. They float around all over the place and can damage the player on contact, but luckily the weapons used by players are blessed to hurt spirits.
  • The Evil Within: Laura, Ruvik's dead sister, is a homicidal spider version of this trope. It turns out that she's the memory of the real Laura, created from Ruvik's desire to revive his sister from her coma. Since she went brain-dead from immolation, the simulation projects her apparent fear of fire as a critical weakness, so the easiest way to kill her is to set her on fire and pump shotgun shells into her screaming undead carcass.
  • A number of the enemies in Fatal Frame are onryō.
    • Kirie, the Big Bad of the original game, is classic example.
    • The Box Woman from the second game, though she's an Ubume rather than an onryō.
    • Kyoka Kuze, from the third game, attacks with her long hair.
    • The fifth game has a recurring enemy in the form of an unnamed woman who is clad in a white dress, complete with a nice hat, and has long, stringy hair to go with it... but you're far more likely to notice her Slasher Smile and the fact that she's eight feet tall, a reference to the child snatching yokai Hachishakusama (Eight-Foot-Tall Woman).
  • Fancy Island has a wide variety of these. Here are the following characters: Kuroageha, Yuri, 404‘San, Dai Kuchisakeonna, Eris, Konkon-san, Dorodoro, Konnichiwa,Abyss,
Borei, Akai Sukato No Onnanoko, Chaori, Crow, Crying Ghost, Elusive, Eris, Franjyou, Futeki Na Emi No Onna, Gallery Master, Half-melted Woman, Ichimatsuko, Ima Socchi, J-ker, Kanrinin no Yorishiro, Kon-kon San, Kubishime-onna, Nata-onna, Ookamuro, Purapura, Sanrenma, Shadow Head, Tomato Onna, Wandering Neck and Yukie.

  • First Encounter Assault Recon: Alma Wade is the ghost of a psychic left to die in the psychic blocking chamber after she was drugged into a coma and forced to give birth to children to be used in a clone army project, so she is understandably pissed. She wipes out an entire Delta team squad in three seconds by turning them into bloody skeletons, so the player is kinda over his head there. Oddly enough, the young Alma is somewhat benevolent towards the protagonist despite her penchant for scaring the absolute living piss out of him. She's often turned rooms filled with enemy Mooks into thin red gruel before the player character has a chance to. Alma's "current" self, however, is less interested in his survival. It helps that you're her son. Sadly, those games have been declared Canon Discontinuity, so don't expect any mercy from young Alma in future installments. Alma does retain her merciful tendencies in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin; at one point, she saves Becket's life by killing an Abomination controlling a group of Replica soldiers. It isn't made clear why she does this until the very end, though. She "covets" Becket due to his modifications in Project Harbinger, and uses him to impregnate herself. Also, unlike most here, she does get revenge on her killer (in fact the whole first game seems to be just her trying to get payback).
  • Ganbare Goemon has one of these as the first boss, though with Deadly Discs substituting for the usual flames.
  • Ghostlore depicts the pontianak enemies (based on a legit supernatural myth from Malaysia / Indonesia) as floating, semi-translucent ghost-women in flowing white robes, with long hair obscuring their faces.
  • The major enemy of GOHOME, Claudia, seems to be a mutation of this trope. While whether she's a dead woman or just a spirit is unclear, she has the aesthetic; she has long stringy black hair and wears a white dress, she haunts the player relentlessly to the point of following you to your house, and just has a generally frightening vibe. Her head is constantly swelling and shrinking, and she walks in a bizarre, hunched manner that puts her deep into the Uncanny Valley.
  • S-Ko, the leader of the ghosts possessing Zappa in Guilty Gear is an onryō as well as an obvious Shout-Out to Sadako.
  • These are one of the recurring enemies in The Haunted Mansion.
  • The House of the Dead: OVERKILL features a boss named Screamer, which appears to be an homage to Alma, as it shares both Alma's appearance and mimics some of her appearances such as appearing briefly in windows or sitting in the corner of the elevator.
  • The secondary antagonist of Imscared is HER, who, while not the standard incarnation, certainly fits the trope.
  • In Katamari Damacy, ghost girls are one of the many things you can roll up in the game. When you roll one up, she moans "Yuurei desu" (which simply means "I'm a ghost" in Japanese) in a creepy voice.
  • The Killer Instinct reboot has DLC character Hisako, who is the ghost of a samurai's daughter who is reanimated after her grave was disturbed. She fights with a naginata and can do things such as possessing an opponent in order to make their bodies contort in painful ways. She's also rather unique as far as onryō go, as she's actually benevolent and serves as her village's Guardian Entity with her rage directed solely at those who threaten it or defile her grave.
  • Kuon has several creepy female ghosts, most notably Utsuki's sister Kureha, who has long black hair, wears a red kimono and drags herself around killing anyone she comes across in a horrific fashion.
  • The Witch from Left 4 Dead appear at various points in the level curled up and crying (with a distinctive, creepy sound and Glowing Red Eyes) and resemble this trope with a pair of claws to boot. If a player startles one, (by shining their flashlight on her, getting too close or attacking her) she goes into a frenzy and knocks them into negative health. To make matters worse they're the fastest non-mook zombie and they have extremely high health (players are supposed to avoid them, indeed there's an achievement for avoiding provoking any of the witches you encounter in a campaign). The game intentionally spawns them in such ways that it is usually impossible to get around one without running over her and hoping you pass quick enough. There are also multiple achievements for ways to kill her, including fire, which slows her down to a survivor's running speed, and a single shotgun shell hitting her head, which will kill her even on Expert. For the record, though, they have white hair.
  • Wall Gazer of Lobotomy Corporation has a design based on the trope, with long black hair covering her face, a constant mourning pose, and a Jump Scare with a shriek. She is a horror-themed supernatural creature, but may not strictly be a "ghost," as her exact origins are unknown.
  • The Mimic: Almost all of the monsters surprisingly follow this trope. One of the remarkable ghosts that appear is either Hiachi or Sama. While not authentic ghosts, they are inspired by this trope for sure, considering the game being based off classic Japanese urban legends.
  • Misao: In one of many death trap endings one of these will pop up randomly on screen before it cuts out on the protagonist's screams.
  • M.U.G.E.N has Ella, whos is based on a ton of horror movies and is more comical than horrific.
  • Along with many other mythical creatures and monsters, Muramasa: The Demon Blade also has onryō. One in particular tells you that she watches over her son in death, and is particularly busty to boot. Another is too frightened of a dark path to her husband's new home to haunt him after he remarried. In the second DLC chapter for the PS Vita rerelease, Gonbe's wife Otae also comes back as an onryō to aid her husband on his quest.
  • The Nancy Drew game Shadow at the Water's Edge has such a ghost haunting the Ryokan Hiei, and she tries to drown you. Turns out it's actually an anamatronic created by Rentaro in an attempt to scare everyone out of the Ryokan so it would close down, and so Miwako would come live in the city with him.
  • The antagonist of the Mobile Phone Game Nowhere, Emily/Catherine, is a typical onryō with a grudge.
  • The Night Way Home: Rina spends the game being chased around by an onryō in a Japanese schoolgirl outfit with really long legs.
  • In Ōkami, the ghost ship features just a head that makes a pretty good effort at this trope by swooping right down into your face without warning. You can't even do anything about it, like you can with the other ghosts. It doesn't help that it has the Spider Queen's face, which has no features other than a big, toothy mouth.
  • OMORI has a recurring being that's only referred to in the game as Something, which appears to Omori as a floating eye with three black tendrills that sort of look like hair when looked at from a certain angle. That's because its true form is of the hanging body of Mari, the black-haired sister of true protagonist Sunny who accidentally killed her and hung her corpse from a tree to make it look like a suicide to hide his involvement. The whole purpose of the cheerful Headspace portions of the game is to repress the memories and guilt Sunny feels, but no matter how much he tells himself everything is going to be okay, Something will always follow him like a vengeful onryō unless he confronts the incident directly. There's also a more classic example of this trope in the form of Hellmari, a recurring monster that appears in Sunny's day-to-day hallucinations that looks like Mari with a disfigured face and an elongated neck.
  • The main enemy of Pacify is one of these that you have to pacify.
  • An indie horror game, Paranormal HK have you being pursued by one while roaming the streets of Hong Kong (what the title states) after dark.
  • One of the events in Pokémon: Magikarp Jump includes such a ghost coming at you after turning the TV on and off too many times.
  • The onryō is an enemy type in The Secret World's Tokyo area, though they don't necessarily fit the details (for one thing, many of them are male), instead serving as Tokyo's version of the spirit enemies found elsewhere in the game. However, Sachiko, a ghost you encounter in the Fear Nothing Foundation building, most definitely does. A member of the group, Sachiko was killed as part of their attempts to brainwash her into a loyal follower of the Morninglight, and she now haunts the building's third floor where most of the nasty stuff took place, killing everything in sight — including you if you don't run and hide in time. Any attempt to fight her ends swiftly with a One-Hit Kill attack from an enemy with a seven-figure health bar and resistance to all stun, impairment, and debuff attacks.
  • Oichi gains many traits similar to this in Sengoku Basara 3, after losing her mind. It's never made entirely clear whether she's dead or not, but she already looks the part, with white skin and long black hair. The way she totters around, swaying eerily, singing and moaning in that ghastly way and crushing victims with her demonic powers while giggling childishly is pure horror.
  • Early in Shadow Hearts, the party is briefly trapped in a village haunted by an onryō named Li Li.
  • In Silent Hill 4, the second trip to the Subway World features an onryō (specifically, the ghost of Cynthia Velasquez) that stalks the player throughout the level and can't be killed, only immobilized with one of a very limited number of items.
  • Spoofed in Skullgirls, Filia can be seen numerous times dressed as Sadako from The Ring in promotional artwork and on one of Peacock's blockbuster moves. Also invoked in one of the NPC girls from Lab 8.
  • In Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion, there's Specimen 4, which is hinted to be either the ghost of a girl named Matsuri, or a similar entity from an urban legend. Notable in that she eats the player if she kills them.
  • Super Mario Fusion Revival has onryōs all over the place in World 4 (Di Yu, the Chinese hell). They behave like Boos, except slower.
  • The evolved form of Toiletta, Foiletta, from Yo-kai Watch has messy black hair (though it doesn't cover her face) and a blue tint under her eyes that resembles bags. She curses people often. Foiletta is a youkai, which also makes her an Undead Child.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sorta visually invoked in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. When Ibuki Mioda is murdered by hanging, her body is found still hanging from a noose... and she's wearing a white robe, and her long black hair is down.
  • Hanako from Katawa Shoujo certainly evokes the image, what with her scarred face covered with long black hair, though it isn't commented upon in the game proper.
  • The Ghost from The Letter is one of these. However, while inspired by such Japanese horror films as The Ring and Ju-on, Takako herself is a Justified example. Takako was originally just a normal ghost, and the only person she hated was Charlotte. Takako does not become a traditional onryōnote  until after she fuses with Charlotte.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG:
    • In Yuri's brief appearance before she attacks the protagonist, she can be seen with long black hair that falls over her face, obscuring her features but leaving some of her bluish skin on display.
    • The Urashima Woman's appearance is that of a pregnant woman with long, stringy black hair and a tattered white hospital gown. Her goal is revenge on the midwife that killed her and stole her newborn baby.
    • The Screaming Author appears as a young girl with long black hair and a tattered white dress, the remnants of her clothing before she was kidnapped and mutilated.


    Web Original 
  • Several chain mail messages on various forums claim that one will come after you if you don't continue to spread the message. Snopes debunks a few of these on their site — including one that tries to pass off the DVD cover from a Korean horror film about a straight example of this trope as a real ghost photo.
  • This video series features a pretty classic example of this trope, complete with long black hair and a white dress, along with a Slendy-like tendency to disappear or teleport when the camera's not looking (thanks to well-done video effects).
  • The Creepypasta story Play with Me features the titular character Sally Williams in a very similar fashion. Even though she wears a pink dress and has dark brown hair, Her hair slightly obscures her face most of the time.
  • This short video features this spirit in a mirror making a gurgling sound. Sound familiar?
  • One shows up frequently in the interactive game The House.
  • In 2019, there is a moral panic going on about something called the "Momo Challenge" which might be a distortion of this meme, given the icon associated with it.
  • Parodied in "Scary Girl" by Funny or Die, in which Chloë Grace Moretz plays an actress, Enid, who only ever plays such characters because that's what she's actually like. When Enid gets a part in a Sunny D commercial, she looks and behaves exactly like she does all the time, with the result that the sound recordist starts hearing scary whispers and growls through his headphones and even begins to bleed from his ears.
    Enid: [in a creepy whisper] My dream... is to transition... from Scary Girl roles... to Scary Woman roles. ...I wanna be Scary Meryl Streep.
  • SCP Foundation:
  • Something Awful's "Awful Movie Database" entry for Dark Hair, a parody of The Ring in which the ghost girl's stringy hair is presented as horrifying in itself.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: The Blank-Eyed Girls from their eponymous episode.
  • Breach from Generator Rex has a character design that evokes this.
  • Parodied in a Halloween Episode of Kappa Mikey which was lampooning The Ring. Of course, in this case it's a little girl and her vengeance is based around losing candy.
  • The character design for Red Lotus villain Ming-Hua in Book 3 of The Legend of Korra hearkens to this trope.
  • Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child: Parodied in "The Princess and the Pea". Princess Eu-la appears at the door of Queen Ah Moo-ni and King Abeugi's palace with her wet hair covering her face with a Scare Chord playing.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In the Hiccup Hijinks episode, the Haunted House the title characters build for Isabella feature Stringy-Haired Ghost Girls.
    • The show went to the well with this one again in season 4's "Happy Birthday, Isabella", with Stacy watching a parody of The Grudge, and accidentally ending up looking like the "Grievance Girl".
  • Robot Chicken parodies The Ring, making her a friendly cute ghost goth girl in a dating video.
    • Robot Chicken would spoof it again by mocking Sadako's outdated media format in a running sketch throughout the episode. She's shown berating two college guys into watching a HQ upload of her video on YouTube only to get preempted by the cat video they switched to spontaneously taking on its properties (i.e. the cat comes out and mauls them).
  • The Strange Chores: Que, is a Cute Ghost Girl version of this, possessing a mischievous, playful, and spirited personality but otherwise being fairly harmless. However, unlike most examples on this page, she has blue hair rather than the traditional black.
  • Akiko from Wishfart is a Cute Ghost Girl version. She's (for the most part) pretty friendly, if something of a troublemaker and a major Deadpan Snarker.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Onryo


The Beldam

The BigBad of the movie. While not an authentic ghost, She counts more as a EldritchAbomination of some sort. She still manages to look like a classic onryo with stringy black hair.

How well does it match the trope?

4.58 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / StringyHairedGhostGirl

Media sources: