Improbable Hairstyle

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
From a series of political cartoons circa 1760-1780
"And Kate... Harmony Hairspray, anyone?"
AlMiles, of The Doctor Who Forum, on Robin Hood

A very mild relative of Anime Hair, related to Wakeup Makeup, that declines in two variations: anachronistic and maintenance.

Anachronistic improbable hairstyle has to do with hairstyles that are very much unlikely, and yet go unnoticed, or would simply be difficult to maintain in the time period, for lack of necessary material. Basically, it makes you say "How is that even possible!?".

Maintenance-improbable hairstyle are hairstyles that are uncannily maintained while stranded on islands, planets, the past, spaceships... despite the lack of any hairstylist access. Like dreadlocks—real dreadlocks form when hair isn't combed for a long, long time. Styled dreadlocks require regular maintenance.

May sometimes be because of the Rule of Sexy, or because the hair has actual magic properties.

Examples of Improbable Hairstyle include:


Anime and Manga

  • Red Line: 'Sweet' JP's hair, best described as the most epic pompadour to ever be shown in anime.
  • Mugen, from Samurai Champloo, manages to maintain a strangely spiky hairstyle in (approximately) 18th-century Japan without raising eyebrows. But, you know, hair can get pretty stiff when you never bathe.
  • Afro Samurai: The title character has an afro. It is set in a world that pretty much defines Anachronism Stew.
  • As the DVD Commentary mentions, it's highly unlikely that Baccano!'s Graham Spector, a 1930's American mechanic/Talkative Loon, would ever be able to get or maintain that J-rocker haircut of his..
  • Mahou Sensei Negima: Setsuna's hair probably isn't outright impossible. However, she has bangs on only one side of her face, a weird spiky ponytail on one side while the other lets that hair just hang down naturally. And judging by her picture on the Negima character page, there appears to be another random hairband on the 'normal' haircut side of her head.
  • Hild, of Ah! My Goddess fame, is very guilty of this. Her hair manages to be extremely beautiful, yet there seems to be no way it could actually be done. Factor in that she has TONS of hair ornaments in there as well, all very strategically placed, and magic then seems the only way she's doing it.
  • Gosick gives us Victorique's brother Grevil, who has a rather iconic [dead link] hairstyle, to put it mildly...
  • Black Butler: While mundane by Anime standards, most characters' haircuts would be ridiculous in Victorian England. Though Sebastian's Bishie bangs are Lampshaded in the manga, Undertaker's, Druitt's and Edgar Redmond's fabulous 'do's are Unusually Uninteresting Sights.


  • Monica's Gang: The Gang has a few, most notably Cebolinha/Jimmy Five, which has only five spiky -- and sharp - strands of hair (so weird that dolls and live-action portrayals give him six instead, so his whole head is covered) - the unnoticed part is mostly averted.


  • Takeshi Kitano's version of Zatoichi is blonde. Very, very blonde.
  • In Marie Antoinette, before she goes to France, she is very clearly seen with a modern hairstyle, complete with hair cut in layers and multiple shades of highlights.
  • Clash of the Titans (2010): Perseus manages to maintain a buzzcut while travelling the world for months on end.
  • In The Eighties version of Clash of the Titans, Harry Hamlin in the original 80s film sported a dreadful 80s mullet uncharacteristic for Ancient Greece.
  • Jocelyn from A Knight's Tale has a lot of 80's punk-inspired hairstyles - one of which included her hair being highlighted purple - for a woman who lives in freakin' 12th century England, but it's understandable since the whole film is based around anachronisms.
  • Elizabeth Curtis from the Deborah Kerr adaptation of King Solomons Mines gets sick of her waist length hair in the humid African jungle and hacks a slice out of it. When it cuts to the next scene she has cut it short into a perfectly styled short do. That style might have been fashionable in the 1950s when the film came out but the film is set in the 1800s when women didn't have short hair. Test audiences actually laughed their heads off at the scenes when they first saw them that the producers nearly removed them. But they couldn't explain Elizabeth's change of hairstyle so they kept the improbable scenes in the film.


  • Shadow In The North features a black guy in late 1870s London with dreadlocks. While dreadlocks are one of the oldest hairstyles known to man and common in African societies, it was not exactly common in London at the time.

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy series.
    • Seymour from Final Fantasy X has one of the most improbable hairstyles in any work of fiction, such that only pictorial evidence could do it justice. Wakka from the same game definitely qualifies. He swims underwater, rides on the deck of an airship, traverses the world, and he maintains the same physics-defying hairstyle throughout the game.
      • Seymour at least has the excuse of being part Guado (essentially part plant) even though full Guados hair is far less crazy so...
    • Final Fantasy X-2: Meyvn Nooj has impressive Hair Antennae.
  • Tales of Symphonia: The protagonist, Lloyd, has a spiked hairstyle which curls over to his left; partially lampshaded when a male NPC complains that Lloyd has the same hair style. It's more or less averted with the the rest of the crew having reasonable hairstyles; the brother-and-sister magic user pair have white-blue hair with a cowlick for her and silver-white hair with two long tails for him, the female ninja's concession to tidiness is pulling her hair back, the little girl has pig tails. Two of the male characters have fairly untidy long hair. The other improbable hair style is the mercenary's, which seems to grow in spikes.
  • Legend of Mana: The female protagonist has hair decorations called "hair pipes" in game.
  • Gustaf's ridiculous hairstyle in SaGa Frontier 2. Just look at it!
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Agent J from Elite Beat Agents, whose hair looks like some of it got caught in a candyfloss machine. See for yourself. [dead link]


Anime and Manga

  • Lampshaded in Dragon Ball, where it's explained that full-blooded Saiyains like Goku and Vegeta keep the same hairstyle from where they were born.
    • Goku's even had his hair chopped off, only for it to return to normal in the very next panel (or so).
  • Pokémon
    • Jessie's gravity-defying arc.
    • Jasmine, Kris, and Lyra all have anti-gravity pigtails.
    • Pokémon Special: Croissant-headed Emerald. Best part is that he uses gel, not to mention it isn't waterproof!
      • The Sinnoh chairman has a hairstyle that appears to be a giant serving of soft-serve ice cream.
  • In Gundam Wing, Trowa Barton's enormous bangs manage to defy gravity despite spacesuit helmets, combat conditions, and the occasional quadruple flip with a double twist.
    • Gundam really loves this trope, giving utterly ridiculous 80s haircuts to just about everyone.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh series:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh: Yugi. This also covers the Pharaoh, who had the same hairstyle when he was alive in ancient Egypt.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh 5 Ds: Yusei, who, despite being a motorcyclist, never ever gets helmet hair. Especially once you realize he grew up with that hairstyle in the slums.
  • Witch Hunter Robin: The titular character is surrounded by people with very mundane (if somewhat dated) hairstyles. Robin herself, however, apparently spends a great deal of effort putting her hair up in those odd wraps every morning. In one scene, she can even be seen removing a bicycle helmet... which somehow fit on top of those stiff projections; they're still at 90 degrees.
  • The protagonist of AIR is able to retain his spiky hair despite being a homeless traveling puppeteer in the beginning.
  • Tao Jun from Shaman King does not seem to obey the rules of hair as they apply to humans. Her hair style doesn't look like it would stand up to weeks of tromping through the wild west, and yet it does. When she has her hair down, it magically becomes several inches shorter. Finally, there's a scene where we actually see her doing her hair, something that should take a good day and a half, what with all of the glueing, hairspraying, clamping in place until it dries, and praying for the whole thing to stay up. Three hairclips, five seconds, and she's all finished, spikes included.
  • Sailor Moon: The odangos and her relatives stay incredibly pristine throughout their battles. There is only one notable episode where Usagi's hair is destroyed by battle. The war-torn appearance of all the senshi at the end of the third season was to accentuate how tough this battle was. Other than that, there's usually no damage done to their ridiculous up dos during battle. Any cosplayer can tell you that those buns take a pack of hairpins and a can of hairspray to stay in for half a day. Forget the acrobatics.
  • Shiki is apparently set in a universe where you are required to have laughably impossible hairstyles by law.
  • Kodomo no Omocha: Sana's mother, whose hair is a combination of this, Nice Hat, and miniature mobile theme park for the family's pet squirrel.
  • Tiger and Bunny's Kotetsu has a very distinctive beard that, in real life, would take entirely too much time and skill with a razor for a guy like Kotetsu to manage. (Have you ever shaved your facial hair to resemble a cat?) Sunrise seems to acknowledge this, as Antonio has occasionally declared him a "beard narcissist" due to the amount of effort he puts into maintaining it.
  • Inuyasha has two locks of hair over his shoulders that remain separate from his considerably long hair no matter what he goes through, up to and including getting smashed through cliffs.

Comic Books

  • X-Men: In one issue of his own comic, Wolverine has all his hair cut off. It grows back in minutes, in the same style.
  • Spider-Man: Norman Osborn has what appear to be horizontal corn-rows of brown and red hair. It's not entirely clear what this is supposed to actually represent but even in universe characters repeatedly appear unable to figure what he did to his hair.
    • Newer drawings of his son Harry suggest that it may be intended to be very tight auburn curls.
  • In the first issue of Nightwing's own series, a thug attacks Dick with a knife and hacks off the ponytail he'd been sporting in New Titans and Batman. His hair instantly resolves itself into a neat, not-quite-shoulder-length 'do.

Newspaper Comics

  • Alice's fluffy triangle in Dilbert.


  • The Lord of the Rings: Legolas's miraculously tangle-free hair. Aragorn's, on the other hand, gets pretty grubby-looking.
  • In Superman Returns, Superman falls to earth like a meteor, charring his suit, and falling into a coma, but his forelock is still in a perfect curl throughout.
  • Star Wars gives us Queen Amidala. During her first film appearance, every other scene, she's sporting a more improbable hairstyle than the last. Nobody seems to notice. Her daughter, Leia, is almost as bad. Those hair buns she had in the first movie took two hours for a professional hairdresser to do. This is a list of her hair and its plausibility in real life.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow's famous hair may be long and wild, but it's also very clean. On sailing ships, fresh water is too precious to wash with, and soap/shampoo don't work in salt water.


  • If Anne Rice's vampires get haircuts, while they sleep their hair grows back to the length it was at when they were created.
  • Dragon Jousters by Mercedes Lackey: Averted in the last book. Great Queen Nofret needs to wear extremely elaborate hairstyles, different styles for different royal duties. She cuts her hair short and wears wigs instead.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy's fresh-from-the-coffin hair in "Bargaining" is neatly combed and has only a few leaves in it after she clawed her way out of the grave.
  • Torchwood
    • Captain Jack Harkness' hair and clean shaved-ness after spending 2,000 years buried underground without a coffin in the episode "Exit Wounds". Could be a side effect of him dying and constantly reviving, though.
    • Similarly, Martha Jones (who is black) during "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood." Since they had been trapped in 1913 for several weeks or months at that time, a few people questioned how her hair was able to stay pin-straight in a time before most hair-care products.
  • Heroes:
    • Adam Monroe, who after 350 years looks exactly as he did in Japan. Like Jack, probably a side effect of no aging.
    • On a lesser level, Yaeko's perfect, untangled ponytail, which withstands kidnap, explosions, and sudden teleportation.
    • In a first season episode, Claire's hair is regrows completely intact, even in the same style, after being exposed to radiation that burnt off her flesh. Yet between seasons 3 and 4, she cut it shorter.
  • Averted in Carnivale in an episode where Libby's hair, curled in a style common to the time period in which she lives, falls flat and gets pretty messy after she spends some time stranded in the middle of a desert. Also, when Sophie leaves the carnival and becomes Justin's maid, her hair actually looks noticeably better groomed.
  • Babylon 5
    • The Centauri are an entire race with an Improbable Hairstyle. Their primary difference from humans is that the males can style their hair into gigantic fans/crests up to a foot high.
    • Delenn's hair is even stranger, as it seems to go straight through her skull. Word of JMS says that there is a gap between the back of her head and her skullbone, allowing hair to go through it.
  • The Tribe: The characters of have remarkably elaborate hairstyles for survivors of a world-emptying plague. There must have been a lot of hair products waiting to be looted.
  • BBC's Robin Hood is a strong example. The characters are far too well-groomed and clean to be a bunch of outlaws living in the woods of medieval England. In Season Three, we got Braid-Face [dead link].
  • Kamen Rider OOO.
    • Ankh. He first sleeps in a park due to having no home, frequently rides a motorbike and jumps into rivers. His flamboyant hairdo [dead link] remains pretty indestructible.
    • Also, Philip from the previous series, Kamen Rider Double, whose hair, although different from Ankh's, sports similarly flippy bangs (on the opposite side). During his Big Damn Heroes moment in episode 16, when he removes his motorcycle helmet his hair appears messy, but in the next shot it's as perfect as always, as if he didn't have the helmet on to begin with.
  • Falling Skies features the survival of humans After the End. Despite the lack of running water and electricity the women, teenagers, and children maintain perfectly-styled hair even months after the invasion. The men, on the other hand, have greasy locks and rough beards.

Video Games

  • Sora from Kingdom Hearts. Seriously, how much gel does that guy use? His hair keeps its shape underwater. In fact, most of the cast are examples.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • Cloud Strife.
    • Vincent Valentine, but it's much less obvious.
    • Zack, he of the Sonic the Hedgehog spikes. His hair was toned down considerably in later renders.
    • And then there's Sephiroth, who not only manages to not strangle himself on his hair while fighting, but manages to keep it perfectly smooth and untangled at all times. One must assume that no one on the design team has ever had long hair.
    • Crisis Core mentions in a secret email that he uses a special Shinra blend of shampoo and conditioner made especially for him. He uses a whole bottle each time, and there's one of twelve different smells each time he shakes his head.
  • The Beauties from Metal Gear Solid 4 can't leave their suits for more than five minutes. All have beautiful, trendily-styled hair. One's even a peroxide blond with no visible roots.
    • Almost all the men in Metal Gear Solid have absolutely no body hair save for optional manly stubble, which barely ever goes below the jawline. Snake in Metal Gear Solid 1 is supposed to look well-groomed (no excuse for him being hairless in the Briefing, though), Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2 has a very tight suit and probably isn't hairy anyway, but when you have the super-rough living pinnacle of hotness Big Boss running around, after a week in the jungle, with an increasingly shaggy beard, perfectly smooth armpits and not even a single chest hair, it starts to look a little strange. Especially since that game was set in the Sixties when hardly any men removed body hair. Not only that, but there are characters with body hair as a prominent part of their design (Olga and Vamp), proving that it's not just an art-style thing.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. After the End it may be, with ammo, fuel and food shortages galore, but apparently there will always be enough hair conditioner to go around.
  • Elite Beat Agents: Agent J keeps his elaborate cantilevered hair up, even after all that dancing? It never budges!
  • Many characters from King of Fighters
  • Ace Attorney: Numerous characters from the series, including:
    • A good example is Daryan Crescend.
    • Kay Faraday from Ace Attorney: Investigations is a pretty good example as well. Her hairstyle is several feet tall, and has a rather large key stuck through the middle of it.
    • Oddly enough, Phoenix's hair is quite easy to pull off in real life if one's hair is thick enough. Without gel.
    • Redd White has that loopy pink Little Debbie swiss roll thing.
    • Damon Gant's hair looks like a friggin lightning bolt.
    • Pearl Fey has a pretzel.

Web Original

  • Global Guardians PBEM Universe:
    • Samsonite is caught in a form of homeostasis that grants her utter and complete invulnerability. This includes her hair, which is always perfectly straight and hangs down to the middle of her back, no matter what she tries to do with it.
    • Similarly, The Shield's power (a skin-tight impenetrable force field) keeps his hair shorn to the scalp.
  • Whateley Universe: Tennyo's hair. Long, perfect, it looks like it would take ten hours to create, and all day to maintain. In fact, it refuses to do anything else. She can't get dyes to stick to it, so the color is unmistakable. It's impossible to cut. She can't get it into any other style. It won't stay wet even when she showers. She's stuck with it.
  • Wyn's hair from Dimension Heroes.

Web Comic

  • Mike Warner of the Walkyverse. It was actually a problem when creating the figure because his hair defies the laws of gravity (not to the extent of many of the other examples, but it's still not gravity-friendly).
  • In Megatokyo, Miho's hair often has a ribbon wound through it, which cosplayers (or just people who think it looks cool) in real life have had difficulty keeping in. However, the comic heavily implies that this has something to do with her powers, as whether the ribbon is present, absent, or mussed up depends on her emotional state and how in-control she is.
  • Thae from Overlord Academy often wears her hair in an incredibly large, incredibly long ponytail which seems to defy all laws of physics, especially since she's the series' Action Girl.

Western Animation

  • Jem. Most of the main characters have hair larger than their own heads, with colorful shades.
  • Jimmy Neutron, who has hair shaped like soft serve. All the time. That and his enormous head are the only reasons he is as tall as the other characters his age. Cosmo from The Fairly OddParents even comments on it in one of the Power Hours; he repeatedly calls Jimmy a "fudge-head."
  • Kim Possible has flippy waist-length hair completely resistant to swimming, scuba-diving, skydiving, being submerged in cookie dough, or the numerous helmets she's forced into by Executive Meddling. Shego's is the same though even longer, and even if either of them are drenched, buried or blown up, their hair springs back to shape in moments.
  • Invader Zim: Dib's little... pointy... thing. "Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom" demonstrates that the older he gets, the bigger and more ridiculous the hairstyle gets.
    • His dad has it too, and it's shown to be prehensile, as he uses it to pick up Gaz in Gaz, Taster of Pork
  • The Simpsons:
    • Marge Simpson's hair nearly always springs back into the same ridiculously-tall shape, no matter how it might get compressed or disturbed. She is shown as having a whole drawer full of hairspray, however, using several cans a day to maintain it. And when she's younger it's long and flowing.
    • Lampshaded in a recent episode: Bart question where his head ends and hair begins and that there doesn't seem to be any border between. This lead Lisa and Maggie also realising and then collectivly grasping their head and wondering what they are.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: The most paranormal and unexplained element is undoubtedly Egon's hair.
  • Rugrats: Didi's giant orange triforce.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The obvious example is Katara, who keeps up a pretty high-maintenance-looking hairstyle throughout all kinds of trials (although it does fall out of place during one duel), but Zuko is an even better example, given his ability to keep his head shaved except for a perfect diamond on the back of his head, even when trapped in a cave during a blizzard.
    • Justified in that he was royalty and likely had someone to assist him. As soon as he goes on the run, it grows out normally. (As for the cave, he wasn't in there long enough for anything significant to grow in, especially if he had his dome chromed right before.)
  • Rapunzel from Tangled gives us a two-fer. First of all she has over 70-feet of her long golden hair (though the length seems to change everywhere they go) but it's justified since the hair is actually magic. Then she gets her hair cut off into a perfectly styled and layered pixie cut. The hair was cut off in one go with a pane of glass.

Real Life

  • Women (and occasionally men) will show off their wealth with crazy hairdos by way of embedded jewelery, hair extensions, or just the sheer amounts of time and hired help it takes to make (and maintain) such a hairdo. The Eighties alone may have been responsible for the hole in the ozone layer given the copious amounts of hairspray it took for some of those crazy styles.
  • Marie Antoinette had to sleep on a wooden block instead of a pillow to preserve some of her more ridiculous coiffures.
  • As do Geishas.
  • Many of Lady Gaga's styles approach this. Most are quite obviously wigs; while her real hair is peroxide-blonde (dyed), it's normally fairly simply styled and plain.
  • Also, in the "maintenance" camp, the amount of time and effort to maintain a hairstyle can vary from person to person. If you wear the same elaborate hairstyle for a long time, you get good at it - many women with long hair can put it in a complicated-looking bun or braid very quickly, even though it took some time to learn to do that.