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The bun as a hair style has long indicated a very specific character type. It shows a woman as neat, prim, proper, and organized. As such it tends to be favoured by librarians, school teachers, nannies, serious office ladies, and women of a certain age.
Characters with this hairstyle tend to be respected and be in charge. They also tend to be more conservative than other characters and more tight laced.
Naturally, it makes this hairstyle popular among the more Lady of War-flavored Action Girls who chose to eschew Tomboyish Ponytail or Braids of Action, though the latter could be easily converted into a bun.
Note: This trope is for using visual shorthand to characterize an individual. It is not a trope for every character who happens to have a bun. Please remember this when editing the example list.
- Subverted by the genderbent version of France from Axis Powers Hetalia. She's more sexy than proper because, well, she's France.
- Nanao Ise in Bleach, Lieutenant of the 8th Division, is very true to the trope. Not only does she wear her hair in the bun, but she also wears glasses and is frequently seen carrying a book (making her arguably a Hot Librarian as well). She is also so stiff and formal that her captain (a Professional Slacker in contrast) keeps trying to convince her to lighten up a little.
- Subverted with "Lady Borgia" Ogiwara from Oniisama e..., who is first seen as a softspoken and dignified Onee-Sama type and later reveals herself as a massive Smug Snake. Notice that she originally had a Bob Haircut in the manga, but her hairstyle changed to a bun in the anime series.
- General Vasant wears it in Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing, being the neat and principled Lady of War.
- Pictured above: Dragon Ball has Goku's wife Chi-Chi, who initially has her Rapunzel Hair either loose (as a little girl) or in a low ponytail (as a teenager) but wears it styled in a bun during Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super (not in GT, however, since she's cut it into a bob).
- Akiko from Kyojin no Hoshi starts styling her very long brown hair like this after she marries Mitsuru Hanagata.
- Grandma Duck in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe.
- Mrs. Danvers in at least the film adaptation of Rebecca.
- Appropriately enough, the Prison Psychiatrist in Hair, who interrogates Woof on why he wears his hair long (and whether that makes him gay) in the title song sequence from the film. Her hair is in a tight bun.
- Mary Poppins of course! Practically perfect in every way!
- Jane Porter during her introductory scene from Tarzan.
- Madame from The Aristocats, except when she is sleeping.
- Susan from the Discworld novels finds that her Expressive Hair tends to twist itself into a bun of it's own volition. As she works as a governess or school teacher when she's not saving the world it's rather fitting.
- Granny Weatherwax wears her hair in a "tight bun that could crack rocks."
- Professor McGonagall wears her hair like this in Harry Potter.
- Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch (except at official Halloween parties).
- Laura Ingalls Wilder and her mother wear their hair like this, as do all proper married ladies, in the Little House books.
- Novinha from Speaker For The Dead has one, and it's noted that she lets her hair down as she begins to open up emotionally.
- Katherine Brooke, the Stern Principal in Anne of Avonlea, in contrast to Anne's looser, less severe bun.
- On The King of Queens, Carrie started wearing her hair in a bun. Everyone else thought it was unflattering, but she kept on wearing it until she attends a service for a librarian in Doug's high school and sees a photo of her wearing the exact same bun. She loses it thereafter.
- Star Trek: Voyager
- Mrs. Hall is described this way in All Creatures Great and Small.
- Veronica from Better Off Ted is a powerful, cold hearted executive; also, when Ted takes his daughter to work, Veronica teaches her to put her hair in this kind of bun.
- Lilith from Cheers and Frasier typically wears her hair this way. If she lets it down it's a sure sign that things are about to get intense between her and Frasier.
- Marian the Librarian from The Music Man, the original Hot Librarian herself, wears her hair this way.
- In Mass Effect, Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams uses this hairstyle, and is notably organized, professional, and is also a rank that puts her in charge of her unit. On the other hand, she's also a firm believer in Brutal Honesty. She lets her hair down by Mass Effect 3.
- Saber wears her hair in a rather elaborate bun in Fate Stay Night, and is a no-nonsense leader but also a Kuudere. Her alternate appearance, Saber Lily, wears a Tomboyish Ponytail instead, and is widely believed to be a version of Saber who was more open with her people.
- In Futurama the uptight bureaucrat lady who replaced Hermes for an episode does her hair like this.
- In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle puts her mane in one of these when she tries out Armchair Psychology on Rainbow Dash in "Lesson Zero".
- This is also (fan-named) background pony Nurse Redheart's standard look.