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A duo (often a romantic couple) whose contrasting hair colors signify their opposing world-views. Said hair colors are usually blond and black or dark brown, but it can just as well be red and black, or blond and blue--the important bit is the contrast. Their respective personalities are then typically defined as follows:
- The fair-haired partner is the "good" one: younger, bright, hopeful, enthusiastic, naive, helpful, innocent, tends to follow the rules
- The dark-haired partner is the "bad" one: older, moody, testy, serious, cynical, often relishes in Angst and their Dark and Troubled Past, tends to break the rules and snap
The two of them oftentimes have a shaky and volatile relationship due to their great difference in temperament and worldview. The Fair-haired partner often has to push at the Dark-haired partner to even get the relationship going in the first place. There's often a reason lurking in the Dark-haired partner's past to explain their hesitance, be it a failed relationship, abuse from their family, or simple shyness. Other times, the Dark-haired partner is just testier and not necessarily angsty. They may just be easily frustrated with their hyperactive partner's antics.
Ultimately, however, the Opposites Attract.
This is particularly a staple in lesbian romance fiction, where common pairings include a "good blonde" and a "bad brunette". A common inversion found in recent works features a slightly altered setup:
- The Blonde becomes an (implied) Phenotype Stereotype, who, while still cheerful and clueless, gains traits like frankness, openness, inventiveness, and ignorance of proper etiquette
- The Brunette becomes an (implied) Proper Lady, who, while still moody and cynical, becomes more reserved, well-mannered, and manipulative
Compare the Seme and Uke dynamics in Boys Love genre and the One Head Taller rule of thumb to recognize them. Also compare Red Oni, Blue Oni. Contrast Betty and Veronica, which is about romantic rivals with opposite personalities and physical traits, while this trope is specifically about duos/couples, not Triang Relations.
- As noted above, couples with contrasting hair colors are extremely popular in the Yuri Genre:
- Shiroi Heya no Futari: Resine and Simone are the Trope Makers in this particular genre.
- Maya's Funeral Procession: Another old one. Reina and Maya.
- Kannazuki no Miko: Himeko and Chikane are another archetypal example and can be considered modern Trope Codifiers.
- First Love Sisters: Chika and Haruna
- Mariasama ga Miteru: Though they are more a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship Yumi and Sachiko display this dynamic. Sei and Shiori play this trope but have reversed hair colors making them a Bad Blonde and Good Brunette
- Strawberry Panic: A few pairs. Nagisa and Shizuma are the primary example though Shizuma's hair is a bit off for the role. Hikari and Yaya play it straighter hair color wise, but it is a one sided affair on Yaya's end.
- Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito: Hatsumi and Hazuki. Often considered an inspiration for Himeko and Chikane as well.
- Hayate Cross Blade: Comically plays with the dynamic with Hayate and Ayana as well as others.
- Gokujou Drops: Komari and Yuki
- Gunjo: Nameless Blonde and Nameless Brunette protagonists
- Natsuneko does this in every single one of her mangas
- Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu: Inverts the formula thoroughly
- Pfil and Pamila from Bondage Fairies.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: This series has many, many popular shippings, but Sayaka and Kyoko is one of the most popular by far; Sayaka has blue hair, whereas Kyoko has red hair.
- Another popular ship comes from the spin-off series Magia Record with Iroha and Yachiyo. Iroha has pink hair, and Yachiyo has blue hair.
- The title characters of Dirty Pair have very contrasting hair colors (red vs blue). They don't quite fall into the yuri category above, but are still Heterosexual Life Partners who do get shipped together in many fanfics and several hentai doujins.
- Usagi and Mamoru from Sailor Moon: she's the perky blonde and he's the aloof dark-haired guy.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S starred the Hot-Blooded blue-haired Genki Girl Subaru and the careful, analytical red-headed Tsundere Teana, who also formed a Tomboy and Girly Girl duo and are currently the most blatantly lesbian couple of the franchise.
- In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi's a Deadpan Snarker Bifauxnen who's very down to earth, while Tamaki is melodramatic, hyperactive and often comes up with Zany Schemes for the Host Club. Though in the anime, at least the romance aspect is only one-sided on Tamaki's part.
- Heterosexual Life Partners Kotetsu and Barnaby from Tiger and Bunny completely invert the character dynamics associated with their hair colors (with the exception of age, as the former is about ten years older than the latter). Blond Barnaby is the troubled, socially isolated Ice King, while brunet Kotetsu is the idealistic, energetic and impulsive Messiah who eventually manages to gain his friendship and trust.
- Naruto and Sasuke in part 1 of Naruto play this trope relatively straight, especially at the beginning of their rivalry: light-haired Naruto is hyperactive and impulsive, while dark-haired Sasuke is cold and calculating.
- K-On!: Mio (black) is graceful (most of the time) while Ritsu (light brown) is brash.
- Lucky Star: Yutaka (pink) is cute and childish, while Minami (green!) is cool and mature.
- Common in Pretty Cure seasons with two protagonists. Nagisa and Saki (orange and light brown) are the outspoken tomboys, while Honoka and Mai (Shiny Midnight Black and dark purple) are calmer and more elegant. On the other hand, Heartcatch Pretty Cure inverts this and Suite Pretty Cure averts it.
- The Time Of The Reaper: Jessica and Mel are another lesbian couple example.
- Thais (bronze-skinned Brainy Brunette of Cretan origins) and Aegesichore (fair-skinned Power Blonde from Sparta) from Thais of Athens. Despite lots of Les Yay between them, they are really Just Friends, though.
- Blond Gabrielle and Brunette Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess
- Brittney and Santanna from Glee
- Buffy (blond starting the 2nd season) and Cordilia (brunette) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Also Buffy (still blond) and Faith (brunette), the evil Slayer.
- Cool, blonde, Defrosting Ice Queen Sarah and Adorkable, Hollywood Nerd brown-haired Chuck from Chuck.
- Brunette Apollo and Blond Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica.
- Brunette Starsky and Blond Hutch.
- Brunette Ponch and Blond Jon from CHiPs.
- Brothers Rick (brunette) and AJ (blond) in Simon and Simon.
- The BBC's Sherlock: Dark haired Sherlock, blond John.
- Touhou: Reimu (black) is more collected, while Marisa (blonde) is more... blast-happy.
- Final Fantasy VIII: Fujin (female, silver-haired, cool) and Raijin (male, brown-haired, enthusiastic).
- Final Fantasy XIII: Fang and Vanille-- whose dynamics seems to be copied verbatim from a yuri manga.
- Tales of Vesperia has its resident Heterosexual Life Partners; blond, Lawful Good Knight in Shining Armor Flynn and dark-haired, Chaotic Good Vigilante Man Yuri.
- Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo: Mai and Reo, with Reo being the hot-blooded Tsundere with the lighter hair color and Mai being the cool and more collected dark-haired girl.
- Penny and Aggie.
- Grey Is inverts this. Black with his rash personality and quick temper has white hair while calm introspective White has black hair.
- If the romantic leads are of different hair colors, Disney tends to go this way, towards the "blondes equals good" and "brunette equals not-so-good" variety.