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Some characters just can't get their hair into a neat and tidy hairstyle. Others can't be bothered. Still others actually like their hair that way. All of them have Messy Hair. This is often used to set the character apart as unusual; it may indicate that they're a nonconformist, that they don't care about their appearance, or that they don't have the means to make themself look presentable. Or just because it looks cool.
Frizzy, tangled hair is also commonly seen on characters who've just woken up (except if Wakeup Makeup is in effect), which is Truth in Television for most people except those with particularly short haircuts. It often goes away by the next scene change with the assumption that they've run a brush through it offscreen, but might stick around longer if the character sporting Messy Hair is Not a Morning Person.
Long, tangled hair can be seen very frequently on The Ophelia, as part of that archetype's image of eerie, disheveled beauty; even sane, or at least saner, Strange Girls might have it, to go with their general theme of unusual looks. Untidy hair, particularly dark hair, is also one aspect of Looks Like Cesare.
Brilliant but eccentric, absent-minded, or downright deranged scientists often have Einstein Hair, which is a Sub-Trope, as is the Wild Hair found on animalistic or close-to-nature characters and Wild Children. Shonen Hair sits at the intersection of this trope and Anime Hair, and is generally found on spirited young men. Messy Hair is also very common on conductors and musicians.
- L's messy hair is another artifact of his genius eccentricity in Death Note.
- Ranma Saotome has an enchanted hair ribbon because without it his hair gets really out of control.
- Rakka had constant "Halo-Hair" throughout Haibane Renmei.
- Axis Powers Hetalia:
- Child!England had notoriously messy hair, and as an adult it doesn't really get any better.
- Greece's messy hair is actually the subject of one strip where he explains to Japan that he doesn't like the rain because it makes his hair curly and frizzy, and Japan gets confused because Greece's hair doesn't look any different from its regular, already-messy state.
- Apollo, the Big Bad from the fifth Saint Seiya movie.
- Hideki's messy hair is commented on by several characters It's even stated that he looks weird when he tried to comb it for a date.
- Kaoru Tanamachi, AKA Sex Hair.
- Goku and most other Sayians from the Dragon Ball world
- In Oniisama e..., "Lady Medusa" Katsuragi gets the "Medusa" nickname due to having very messy hair, which seems to be pretty uncommon in Japan.
- Multiple members of the Endless. Death and Dream have straight hair that sticks out in all directions, Despair's hair is snarled and ratty, and Delirium's is wavy and changes between various flavors of unkempt.
- Max, the reclusive math genius in the movie Pi.
- Flint Lockwood of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has wild hair that he has to struggle to get to lie down flat.
- The Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
HeadlessHorseman in Sleepy Hollow.
- The Penguin in Batman Returns.
- Edward Scissorhands
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- Harry Potter: Bellatrix Lestrange's, Hermione's in the first two and seventh films.
- Aragorn's hair in The Lord of the Rings tends to hang over his face in strings. Apparently combs are not regular Ranger equipment.
- Wybie and his Other World doppleganger both have Messy Hair.
- The killer in The Final Terror has such long and messy hair that it works as an effective camouflage.
- The eponymous wizard from Harry Potter has hair that won't lie flat no matter what he does. His aunt at one point cut it embarrassingly short but it had grown back by the morning. Hermione, meanwhile, has frizzy, bushy hair which she finds too much trouble to tame except on special occasions. (This hasn't been consistently carried over to the films, however.) And Harry's dad, who had hair just like his, used to mess it up on purpose because he liked looking as though he'd just been flying.
- As to Hermione's there's a lot of Truth in Television: Hair like hers takes hours to make look cared for.
- Well, she could take a shower every morning and wait until the end of the day to brush it, but even then it looks uncared for. It just looks slightly less bushy.
- Luna, who has "scraggly" hair. It's probably naturally curly like Hermione's, but is most likely a lot thinner, so it isn't so much bushy as scraggly. Hermione's hair is long (she has it in a long plait in DH) and extremely thick.
- As to Hermione's there's a lot of Truth in Television: Hair like hers takes hours to make look cared for.
- Susan Sto Helit, granddaughter of Discworld's Death, apparently has supernaturally unmanageable hair as part of her general inherited oddness. On the rare occasions she manages to get it to stay still long enough to style it, she can actually feel it messing itself up again almost immediately.
- In Paul Kidby's artwork, she has a gigantic Bride-of-Frankenstein-toned afro.
- Door of Neverwhere had tangled hair at first, as part of her general grimy and ragged appearance, but fixed that when she had a chance to bathe properly.
- In Around the World in Eighty Days, "[Passepartout's] brown hair was somewhat tumbled; for while the ancient sculptors are said to have known eighteen methods of arranging Minerva's tresses, Passepartout was familiar with but one of dressing his own: three strokes of a large-tooth comb completed his toilet."
- In The Dresden Files, the titular wizard Harry Dresden has hair that remains perpetually unable to be properly shaped. The fact that he doesn't have any mirrors save a small shaving mirror (because lots of things can use mirrors as gateways) doesn't help.
Live Action TV
- The Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who has pretty unkempt hair. The Eleventh's is so bad, he initially thinks he's a she. The Fourth Doctor has a tangled mop of curls. The Eighth Doctor has hair like this, about chin-length. And he's even weird by Doctor standards. The Second Doctor had unkempt hair as well as an abiding five o' clock shadow.
- In Firefly, River Tam's hair is long, wild, and unkempt, partially because she's insane and thus doesn't seem to care a whole lot for it. Of course, she's the most "in-tune" of all the characters, being a psychic.
- In Taxi, the character Reverend Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) usually had messy hair to go along with his regular drug use and "spaced-out" behavior. Here's a picture of the Reverend.
- Parodied in How I Met Your Mother episode "The Platinum Rule" when Ted spends the ENTIRE episode trying to get his hair messy in the exact right way to go impress a girl. At one point when he's about to leave he gets stalled when one of his friends messes up his messed up hair, and Ted returns to the mirror trying to reperfect it.
- Hatter in Sy Fy's Alice miniseries.
- Bernard Black in Black Books.
- ...also, every other character played by Dylan Moran, including his stage persona. As he himself says: "It's its own bioculture, I just leave it alone... we sleep in separate rooms."
- John Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis
- Fans speculate if Serena van der Woodsen even owns a hairbrush.
- Kitty Sanchez from Arrested Development, when Letting Her Hair Down.
- Bob Dylan, of course. ("Einstein disguised as Robin Hood...")
- Robert Smith of The Cure.
- Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack
- 2D and Noodle of Gorillaz both have uneven, shaggy haircuts. Noodle pairs it with Blinding Bangs.
- Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat, with his untameable head of ginger curls.
- Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace has messed-up hair.
- Buzz Osbourne of The Melvins is known for the huge pile of messy black (or later on, black and gray) hair on top of his head.
- Russian rock star Viktor Tsoi of the band Kino had wonderfully messy dark hair, good for throwing around.
- Geddy Lee of Rush has been keeping his long hair a bit messy in recent years, though this is probably just a natural effect of having naturally curly hair that would probably be a Jew-fro if he kept it shorter. (He comments, while in very humid and hot Brazil in a short documentary, "Jews must have a hell of a time with their hair in this climate. We get the frizzies immediately.")
- Zimmy of Gunnerkrigg Court has messy hair with lots of flyaways as one part of her generally unkempt and dirty appearance, and Jack's hair has become steadily messier as he's become more Zimmy-like.
- Bleu of Cuanta Vida has stupid hair. It always looks like that, by the way, it's not just hat hair.
- Vaarsuvius, while s/he was suffering the effects of trance deprivation.
- Several of the trolls from Homestuck: Karkat Vantas, Gamzee Makara (easily the best example among them), Aradia Megido, Nepeta Leijon, and arguably Vriska Serket.
- In Impure Blood, everyone goes from waking up to look, with their hair still down.
- In Sinfest Monique looks Medusa-like when she wakes.
- Several characters have this in Survival of the Fittest. Some examples include Jonathan Jarocki and Lily Ainsworth, for starters. Chris Richardson of Evolution is also described this way.
- If you look on the comment sections for The Nostalgia Chick's videos (...why would you do that to yourself?), you'll nearly always see people saying she needs to at least look like she's brushed her hair. Somewhat shallow Fridge Brilliance here; she's only pretending to be a girly girl for her reviews, she's not really.
- Icarus from Hercules has spiked hair that is assumed to have been fried when he flew too close to the sun (along with a few brain cells).
- Pinkie Pie, resident Cloudcuckoolander of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic.
- Both the title characters of Phineas and Ferb and Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
- Tim Burton's perpetually unkempt mass of dark hair has no doubt served as inspiration for many of his characters who are similarly coiffed.
- Neil Gaiman has untidy dark hair, at least in his author photos. This is probably the inspiration for the looks of several characters he's written, including the Sandman, Richard Mayhew, and Tristran Thorn. Even after a haircut.
- Curly hair is often referred to as "messy hair" because many people assume it will be unstyled or not cared for.
- Well, that's because when someone brushes it, the curls tend to merge into one giant puff ball.
- I hear ya.
- And if you don't brush it people tell you you look like Harpo Marx.
- And if its secured back when you're alseep, it comes out of the secured place and you suddenly bear a striking resemblance to Bellatrix (see below)
- Helena Bonham Carter, especially as Bellatrix Lestrange.
- Mia Wasikowska looks like her hair-care routine consists of two steps: 1. Wash it. 2. Maybe comb it. Not that we're complaining.
- Fans of Darren Criss will forever argue over whether he looks better with the short straight hair on Glee, or the wild curly mane in A Very Potter Musical and many of his Youtube videos.
- Similarly, Robert Sheehan cannot cut or strighten his hair without fans threatening (jokingly...we hope) to commit suicide.
- Zooey Deschanel's hair just seems to grow out of her head like kudzu.
- Scout Taylor Compton's hair often borders on Flock of Seagulls. Not that we're complaining.
- According to Barry Williams's Growing Up Brady book, Chris Knight developed this as he grew up and his hair started to develop a wave. Aside from Ann B. Davis, he was the only cast member not to fuss with his hair or have it fussed with, he'd just run his hands through it before taping and let Peter Brady's hair look just as messy on-screen. Arguably, this only made the character more attractive.