Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Winston Payne, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations

In many shows, whenever a main character is bald, every time they're shown in a Flash Back, they're always depicted as having hair like Axl Rose, Jim Morrison, etc. Generally meant to imply they were so in love with their own hair that the hair gods or something took it away from them to punish them. Of course, it could just be that a long haired wig on a bald actor tends to look a lot more convincing than a short one. This doesn't explain why the trope is so common in animation, however.

Of course there are variations. A character might retain a full head of hair but in the current day it is trim and business-like while in the past they had a Funny Afro, suggesting they were rebellious teenagers. Other times it's just a visual indication that it's the same character in a different era (if there isn't an actor playing a younger version of a character it can be hard to suddenly look 30 years younger).

Can overlap with Same Clothes, Different Year for emphasis.

Can be Truth in Television. A perfect example of this in real life is Andre Agassi. Contrast the rockstar mullet of his younger days with his current shaved head.

Examples of Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow include:

Anime and Manga

  • Genma Saotome in Ranma ½ was willing to let his son go bald in order to get his full head of hair back.
    • In flashbacks, he's always seen sporting some unruly locks under his ever-present handkerchief. It's not exactly clear when he went completely bald, though.
    • Once, after acquiring a prodigious hair-restoring tonic, Genma grows immense, nearly-vertical hair that stands up in spikes. But only when he's angry. He's very proud of this hair, but, sadly, it falls off instantly if he laughs or so much as cracks a grin.
  • Nappa from Dragonball Z was shown to have hair when Vegeta was still a child. This is at odds with Vegeta's latter claim that a pure-blood Saiyan's hair never changes from the day he was born. Presumably Nappa shaves and Saiyan head hair is like human eyebrow hair or leg hair: It grows to a certain length and then falls out to make room for new hairs. This would explain the interesting scene in the original Dragonball where Mercenary Tao cuts off some of Goku's hair (twice, thanks to re-using some footage), and yet it's all back the way it was before a while later.
    • Another case is Master Roshi as shown he has a full head of hair when he was a teenager. He said he's naturally bald as Krillin argued all great fighters shave their heads.

Comic Books

  • Mortadelo from the Spanish comic Mortadelo y Filemón had exceptionally great and long locks before losing all of it because of a failed experiment by the comic's resident Mad Scientist, Profesor Bacterio.
  • Yorick fears he is going bald toward the end of Y: The Last Man and considers shaving his head if this happens; in a flashback in the Distant Finale we see he's done so. Ironically his elderly self still has a good shock of white hair.
  • One issue of Twisted ToyFare Theatre takes place mostly in the mid 1970s... and everybody has an afro. The Punisher, Daredevil, Man-Thing, everybody. The biggest, most funktastic afro of all belonged to Chuck Xavier, the best dancer in town.
  • The National Lampoon did a fotonovela story "Too Old For Menudo", where a member of the boy band says his mandatory goodbyes on his 15th birthday - the next morning he finds he's turned middle-aged and bald, and can't land a singing job anywhere.


  • Subverted in the first Back to The Future movie when Marty visits his high school 30 years ago... and finds Principal Strickland still bald. Which has him query, "That's Strickland! Jesus, didn't that guy ever have hair?"
    • And then in Back To The Future Part III, Strickland's Wild West ancestor (played by the same actor, of course) had shoulder-length General Custer-style curls.
    • Pretty much the first thing out of Doc of 1955's mouth when he see his 1985 self? "Thank God I've still got my hair!" Of course, 1985 Doc's hair had gone from thick, curly, and blonde to thin, stringy, and white. But it was THERE, dammit!
  • Before creating his 177th experiment, Dr. Jumba Jookiba had long, luxurious black hair. Unfortunately, said experiment, created to devour a type of fuel, actually devoured hair (since the word is the same in his native language), leaving Jumba bald except for three hairs for the rest of this days.
  • Rob Cordry's character in Hot Tub Time Machine is as bald as the actor who plays him. When they first arrive in the past he goes to take a piss and catches sight of himself in the mirror. He's so in awe of his own former glory that he doesn't even put himself away or stop pissing as he turns to stare in dumbfounded wonder.
  • Unintentional and amusingly extreme example in the Friday the 13 th series. In Part 2 Jason has an impressive mane of hair. By Part 3, supposedly set the next day, he's completely bald.

Live Action TV

  • Balding Mr. Belding is shown to have a hippie-esque head of hair in a Flash Back to his student radio days on Saved by the Bell.
  • George Costanza in Seinfeld.
  • Subverted in the Lost episode "Deus Ex Machina" when, during a flashback, we discover that the Locke of several years ago had... a really bad toupee.
  • Scrubs: He's not bald, but short-haired Dr. Cox is shown in JD's 80's flashback as having a blond Mohawk. ("Shut up jackass, I rock!")
    • Turk, however, is bald and was shown in a flashback to have a full head of hair, excited to Michael Jordon at a basketball game. When JD shows up and is asked if he has the tickets, JD says he thought he was supposed to bring the sandwiches. Now that neither of them can get inside the game, an enraged and upset Turk rips his own hair out.
      • He apparently shaves his head, as one scene has Carla show a picture him trying to grow his hair in, which comes in in awkward patches. He shaves it to keep it from looking ridiculous.
      • He grows it out a bit in later seasons (although still really short).
    • Ted on the other hand once was supposed to have hair. But now it's gone.. GOOOOONE!
  • Lampshaded in Psych, as Corbin Bernsen plays Shawn's father in the series and wears a wig in nearly all the flashbacks (at least those set when Shawn was a preteen).

Shawn: Slap a wig on you, you're a dead ringer for when I was a kid.

  • A Thirty Rock episode had Pete explain that he almost got into the Olympics in 1980, but, of course, that was the year the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games. The accompying flashback shows Pete, who is bald in The Present Day, having a full head of hair (and a moustache!) back in 1980.
  • One The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour was about how Lucy and Ricky met. Young Fred has a full head of hair that he is very proud of, causing Ethel to comment that one day he's going to lose it all.
  • Almost everyone in My Name Is Earl, at least for the adults who play themselves in the present day and some 25 years in the past with all the flashbacks. Although a subtle version is used for Joy, almost anything set before she had kids she would wear her hair down, while as a mom she usually had them in hair bands.
  • In Star Trek the Next Generation, several flashbacks and one comment by Starfleet Academy's groundkeeper reveal that Picard once had hair. Curiously, there is also the photograph a bald Cadet Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis.
  • The Big Bang Theory had a Flash Back to the time when Leonard and Sheldon first became roommates in 2002. Leonard and long, wavy locks, Raj had a mullet and Howard had a Jewish Afro. A brief cut to Penny at the same time had her with borderline Eighties Hair. Sheldon was the only one who remained almost the same.

Newspaper Comics

  • Wally on Dilbert was shown to have an afro in the 70's (a.c.).
    • Also, in one comic strip showing the office in 1985, 1990 and 1995, Wally progressively goes from a full head of hair to bald. The Pointy-Haired Boss' style changes to evoke a Mythology Gag with how he used to be drawn. And Dilbert never changes...
  • Walt from Zits had bushy, curly hair as a teenager. Jeremy's dismissive attitude towards hair is a constant source of pain to him.

Video Games

  • In the third Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, we see balding prosecutor Winston Payne in flashback with a pompadour. We also see how he loses it: he's so shocked at losing a case that his hair explodes.


Western Animation

  • Dr. Thaddeus Venture of The Venture Brothers subverts this. Though he is indeed bald in the present day, flashbacks show that he was losing his hair as early as his late teens. This may or may not have been a result of his deformed twin brother residing in his abdomen and thus ruining his hormone balance. Or perhaps he was just taxing it too much by trying to grow it out.
  • Pickles of Metalocalypse, who is a direct parody of Axl Rose. He tries to cover his receding hairline with a dreadlock comb-over.
  • Bill Dauterive and to a lesser extent Dale Gribble of King of the Hill.
  • Homer of The Simpsons had plenty of hair in his younger days, but now is reduced to two strands on the top of his head. There is a reason for this, however - we see him apparently balding in the episode when Marge reveals she is pregnant with Maggie. When she tells him, he screams, pulls out his hair and runs upstairs. Bart asks him if he did that every time. Cut to Homer with a full head of hair being told Marge is pregnant with Bart - he screams, tears hair out and runs upstairs. Then cut to Homer being told Lisa is going to be born: hair pulled out, screaming, running up stairs. Also, they were in their current Evergreen Terrace home.
    • This being The Simpsons, of course, one backstory is never enough; in an earlier episode, it's shown that he lost his hair as the result of an Army medical research project he volunteered for to avoid having dinner with Patty and Selma.
    • There's also the stress backstory. In "Kamp Krusty", Homer's hair begins to grow back once the kids are gone. The second he sees on TV that Bart has commandeered the camp, all the new hair falls out.
    • In flashbacks to Mr. Burns's childhood, he has enormous golden curls, a visual reference to a stereotyped image of a wealthy boy in The Gay Nineties.
    • Dr. Hibbert's changing hairstyle through the years is also a common running gag (he still has hair in the present, though)
  • In the first "flashback" episode of Animaniacs, Dr. Otto Scratchansniff is depicted with a full head of gray, Einstein-esque hair. By the time his first meeting with the Warners is over, he's pulled out every follicle on his head in frustration and remains bald for the rest of the series.
  • When the characters of Sonic the Hedgehog (the SatAM cartoon) go back in time, the villain minion Snively is shown with a full head of hair that he's quite proud of. An encounter with Sonic's super speed causes him to lose all of his hair, however.
  • In his youth, Lancer in Danny Phantom used to have a full set of hair. He still grows his hair...all over his body. Everything but the head!
  • In the Futurama episode "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles" (in which the entire cast starts to regress in age), a much younger Professor Farnsworth sports a bodacious 'fro.
  • Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants, during the episode where the Krusty Krab crew meets their old fry cook.
  • In Trollz, Jasper is seen with an afro at first. Then Amethyst's spell makes him lose his hair permanently. He gets over it pretty quickly.
  • Mr. Garrison on South Park had hair in a flashback in the episode "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut," however it may have been a wig considering that in "Weight Gain 4000" he was shown as a child with the same baldness that latter plagued him.