Let's say you're a typical protagonist, and you've stumbled upon a MacGuffin or had some kind of incredible, scarring experience. It tends to change you—and it especially tends to change your hair. Skunk Stripes, Multicolored Hair and more are common mementos left on your once lovely locks.
Compare Power Dyes Your Hair, which is strictly supernatural, often coming and going with the phenomenon causing it; and Disease Bleach, which occurs as a result of more mundane causes and isn't spontaneous. See also Shapeshifter Mode Lock and Shapeshifting. Contrast Kaleidoscope Hair, when the change isn't permanent and can happen for other reasons.
As a trauma trope, expect spoilers.
Anime and Manga
- Probably the most famous example in anime, in Fist of the North Star, Rei's hair turns white after his life is extended by Toki's use of his Shinreidai pressure point.
- The first time Guts uses the Berserker's Armor in Berserk, he gets a white streak in his hair.
- At one point in the manga, Tetsuo's hair turns completely grey as the result of a major psychic revelation. Later, after he shortly turns into The Blob then reconstitute himself, his body has lost all pigmentation.
- The three psychic children that survived the original catastrophe besides Akira (Kyouko, Takashi and Masaru), also all have white hair (along with albino skin and premature aging), but we don't know if this was gradual or not.
- In Mermaid Saga, Towa Kannagi's hair turns completely white overnight when she drinks mermaid's blood.
- In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, Aion's hair turned completely white (on top of his skin becoming darker, for whatever reason) when he saw forbidden knowledge during his coming-of-age ceremony, including the fact that the demon's Hive Queen was originally a human woman pregnant with twins -- him and Chrono. It's implied his hair and skin color was identical to Chrono's before the change.
- Half the hair on Jio's head from Six Six Six Satan is white, to go along with his Mismatched Eyes eyes. Being possessed by Satan does wonders for his personal appearance.
- Katanagatari: Togame's hair turned white instantly when her father was beheaded. That trait is commented upon in the first half of the series.
- Enishi Yukishiro's hair in Rurouni Kenshin turned almost white after he witnesses his beloved older sister Tomoe's death.
- Read or Die, the TV series: In the final episode, Joker's hair turns entirely white after being put in direct contact with the mind of Mr. Gentleman. He also goes more or less catatonic.
- In Mushishi, coming into contact with certain mushi alters your appearance. This is what happened to Ginko, and previously to his mentor, Nui.
- In Soul Eater, Death the Kidd's three horizontal hair stripes, which normally only cover half of his head, begin to stretch around to the other side of his head and connect one at a time when he receives a major power up. In the manga, this happens because he had been carrying a powerful MacGuffin called BREW which unlocks his true potential. In the anime, it just happens spontaneously. In the manga this is only temporary, however; it's implied that when he reaches his full potential on his own, the hair stripes will be perfect permanently.
- Argento Soma sees protagonist Takuto developing one heck of an epic streak after his girlfriend and her mentor are flattened by the wreckage of a laboratory demolished by an... escaping alien named Frank. No, really.
- Naruto uses this with Pain/Nagato, whose hair turns from red to white after he resurrects everyone he killed in Konoha. Notably, he dies right after.
- Similarly, Isumi's hair is turned white when she uses too much of her power during the Athens arc. Interestingly, when she lost her powers in an earlier arc, no comment is made on her hair changing color in any way.
- In D.Gray-man, Allen Walker's white, originally red-ish light brown, hair is the result of the trauma from his Innocence destroying Akuma Mana after he resurrected him with the Millennium Earl's powers.
- Fourteen. Since Chicken George is... well... you know, a chicken-man hybrid, he doesn't have any hair. However the horrible secret he discovered about the human race turns his cockscomb (the red crest on his head) white.
- In the Trinity Blood anime, the originally blonde Astaroshe Asran received a single blood-red forelock from a head wound in her backstory. In the original novels, she was originally a Fiery Redhead, whose hair went completely white except that one forelock after the death of her mother.
- Apparently, Victorique from Gosick.
- In Canaan, people exposed to the Ua virus sometimes have their hair turn white. This is clearly seen in Canaan, Liang Qi, and an unnamed girl who died when experimented on to create a second Canaan.
- In One Piece, consuming too much of Enery Steroid at a time, will cause the user's hair to turn white, as well as beefing them up as seen with Hodi Jones and Hyozou
- Late in the manga of Trigun, it's revealed that Plants are born with Blond hair, which turns black as their power is used up, and when it changes completely they will die. This is unfortunate news, as Vash at this point has mostly black hair.
- Happens to Marie Antoinette towards the end of Rose of Versailles.
Narrator: "The terror of the journey turned Antoinette from a beautiful blonde into the white hair of an old woman!"
- Junshiro Ukitake from Bleach wasn't always a White-Haired Pretty Boy. Apparently, his hair turned white in the span of three days after he learned that, despite being a Shinigami, he was seriously sick.
- In Howl's Moving Castle, the main character Sophie eventually gets her youth back after being cursed to old age, but her hair stays silver. Both she and Howl think it looks good, though.
- Howl himself appears to have a magical dye job by the end of the film, although it could be that he just gave up dyeing it because his love for Sophie led him to abandon his vanity.
- The DCU supervillain Prometheus' backstory; his hair went white when his parents were gunned down in front of him by the cops.
- In the Belgian series Papyrus, the title hero got once his raven-black hair turn white after being frightened to death by a venomous snake crawling over him.
- Astro City's Samaritan has his hair turn blue after the Time Travel incident that gives him his powers. He can change it to white at will, but apparently not back to its original black. His archenemy Infidel's hair also changed color as a result of the same incident, going from black to green, though when not using his powers it's blond.
- In The Corinthian: Death In Venice, Amedeo's hair turns abruptly white when his body is possessed by the Corinthian. His already mentally-disturbed lover, Coco (or Pestilence, or Columbina), alludes to this trope, saying she's willing to bet it didn't happen out of fear...
- Legion of Super-Heroes
- Jason Blood has a white streak in his dark-auburn/red-brown hair as a result of being the human host for the Demon Etrigan.
- So did the original Jim Corrigan, as a result of being the human host for The Spectre.
- During the time when they were both active in the DCU, it was sometimes difficult to tell which of them had just appeared on-panel.
- Strangers in Paradise: This happens to Francine after she somehow "feels" that something had happened to Katchoo and David (who, at the moment, were involved in a plane crash).
- Applied via Retcon to Green Lantern Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Rebirth. His hair going white at the temples was the first sign that he had been touched by the power of the fear demon Parallax.
- An Archie Comics comic has Mr. Lodge's hair turn white when he saw Archie doing something stupid. What's funny is that he had dyed his hair earlier that day.
- In Batman comics, going through the Lazarus Pit apparently puts white streaks in your hair. (This is applied inconsistently.)
- In Undocumented Features, Corwin Ravenhair develops a white forelock in his otherwise black hair after ascending as an Aesir and becoming the pillar of Cephiro.
Films -- Animation
- The same Green Rocks that turn Susan Murphy into a 49-foot-11 giantess in Monsters vs. Aliens also bleach her auburn hair white.
- Rapunzel, as revealed at the end of Tangled. Her notable super-long Hair of Gold turns brown when Eugene cuts it as a Heroic Sacrifice. Eugene does have a thing for brunettes, though.
Films -- Live-Action
- In Young Frankenstein, Elizabeth's hair gets a white streak after she's been abducted by the monster. This is mostly so she can have the Bride of Frankenstein hairdo later, because it's funnier that way. Of course, then there's the Bride herself...
- This happened to the Mom in |Poltergeist after she rescued her little daughter from that ghost world -- two white streaks in hair, one at each temple.
- Rogue gets her white streak in the X-Men series because of Magneto's attempted power-transfer toward the end of the first film.
- Reed Richards in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie gets his comic counterpart's grey temples after being exposed to the cosmic radiation that gives the eponymous four their powers.
- Bruce Campbell gets a grey streak over his temple at the end of Evil Dead 2.
- Metropolis: Joh Fredersen is dark-haired for most of the film, but goes totally gray while watching his son and Rotwang fight it out on top of the cathedral.
- Cole from The Sixth Sense has white patches in his hair, very possibly from his ability.
- In The Ten Commandments, Moses's hair turns grey after his encounter with God at the burning bush.
- In The Royal Tenenbaums, the pet hawk that is released early in the film returns towards the end, but with a good deal of his feathers turned white. His owner speculates that he must have had some kind of shocking or traumatic experience, but he isn't really sure.
- Constantine. Constantine tells the men helping him with the possessed girl "Close your eyes. And whatever happens, don't look." One of them does and his hair instantly turns white.
- In A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy Thompson developed a streak of white hair after one of her encounters with Freddy Krueger in the dreamworld.
- In European mythology, one story about Ankou (An entity similar to The Grim Reaper) describes his cart breaking down on the side of the road. Three men encounter him. Two of them throw stones at him and run away; the third offers to fix his cart. The next day, the pair who ran away are dead, while the one who stayed merely had his hair turn white.
- Jagged Fel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe developed a white lock and scar from some head trauma he suffered. His descendants exhibit the same hair and scarring, and the surrounding Fanon suggests it's a family tradition.
- Stephen King
- In The Stand, Nadine starts with black hair, gains several white stripes, then ends up all-white as a result of her personal proximity to Randall Flagg.
- Also in his short story "The Jaunt", a character who stays awake during the jaunt ends up white-haired and insane, because Hyperspace Is a Scary Place.
- And then there's Pet Sematary, where the protagonist's hair turning white is the last sign that he's snapped completely.
- In his short story "The Mangler" (published in the collection Night Shift), the protagonist's hair also turns white by the end.
- Same goes for main character Sam Peebles in "The Library Policeman" (Four Past Midnight).
- In David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series, this is the reason for Polgara's white lock. She got it when her father, the sorcerer Belgarath, first laid his hand upon her after she was born. It resists cutting and dyeing, which has led to some interesting dilemmas when they've been trying to hide from their enemies. This trope shows up in the entire Rivan royal line, too, and (possibly?) all the disciples of Aldur. Polgara's hair is just the most striking example.
- With most disciples, it appears as a sort of Birthmark of Destiny.
- Additionally, Belgarath's hair is entirely white (as befits his age). In the [[Book Of Alorn, this is put down to frost settling in his hair during the trek across the frozen land bridge between Aloria and Mallorea. But in Belgarath the Sorcerer, he claims that it had gone white before then, and blames stress from dealing with the Alorns.
- Uncle Andrew, the Magician in CS Lewis' The Magician's Nephew tells his nephew Digory Kirke that his hair turned white as a result of the bizarre magical experiments performed in order to create the rings.
- In Memory Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams, Simon gains a scar and white streak in his hair after being burned by dragon's blood. From then on he's often referred to as Simon Snowlock.
- Several of Kay Hooper's characters in her psychic series end up with a white streak going through their hair.
- Raistlin in Dragonlance had his hair turned white by the Test of High Sorcery, among the other bizarre changes it wrought to his appearance.
- In the Dragonlance The New Adventures books, Nearra got a streak of black (the "possessed" hair color) in her normally blond (the "normal" hair color) hair after the events of the first book, in which she came dangerously close to having her Super-Powered Evil Side take over.
- Discworld: Susan Sto Helit, adoptive granddaughter of Death, is slightly more than human because of the odd way heredity works on the Disc. Signifying this, her hair is pure white with a single black streak running through it.
- Richard Henry Benson's hair (and skin!) turned pure white after the loss of his wife and child, and he suffered from paralyzed facial muscles as well, which led him to become the heroic Avenger in the Pulp Magazine series of that name.
- Extreme example: the "old man" in A Descent into the Maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe.
- Don Simon Ysidro in Barbara Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night had his hair and skin turn white when he became a vampire; "bleaching" is a rare but not unheard of occurrence to vampires in the book.
- In the Zoë Martinique series, Zoë gets, then looses, and then gets again, a white lock of hair. It also changes sizes a few times.
- Kim Ford of Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry. Her hair all turns pure white after she completes her "apprenticeship". A later book, Ysabel, reveals some of the problems she had when she returned to our world, by refusing to dye it back or pretend her experiences didn't happen.
- At the end of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, the black half of Cruella de Vil's hair turns white with shock. The white half turns green.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, after Justine was nearly killed by her vampire boyfriend, her hair turned white. It's stayed that way even though she's been steadily recovering for 5 books now.
- In the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series, Percy and Annabeth get matching gray streaks in their hair from literally holding up the weight of the world.
- In Anne McCaffrey's Talents series, the Rowan has her hair turn totally white as a result of childhood trauma. Her children and grandchildren inherit white streaks.
- Fitz from the Realm of the Elderlings series had a literal scarring experience that turned a streak of his hair white—someone bashed him over the head with an axe. He decided to go by the name of Tom Badgerlock in the second trilogy for this very reason. He got better later in the series, and had to quickly figure out why he now no longer had a white lock in his hair.
- Erast Fandorin's temples become completely gray (in sharp contrast to the rest of his hair, which remains black until very old age) after witnessing his wife blown to pieces by an assassin's bomb in the end of the first novel. In a much later book, the villain used this characteristic trait (and a few others) to successfully impersonate Fandorin.
- After Doc experiences God in Lester Del Rey 's short story For I Am A Jealous People, his hair turns white.
- Use of magic eventually bleaches mages' hair in the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey.
- In the Corean Chronicles beings who use the conduits linking worlds are transformed due to the long journey. This makes identifying ifrits and those possessed by their powers easier for those who know.
- Max Barry's Machine Man has Cassandra Cautery. The Cyborg security guard Carl almost kills her and everyone else at Better Future. Afterwards, her hair is "the color of ash".
- In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean's hair turns completely white the night after he makes the difficult decision to turn himself in so that an innocent man doesn't get sent to the galleys in his place; it stays white for the rest of the book.
- Helen Stoner, from the Sherlock Holmes's story The Speckled Band, has this as a result of the horrible stress and psychological abuse she has been subjected to while under the care of her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott. Her twin sister Julia also had her hair turning white for the same reason, but died few ago in strange circumstances so Helen goes to Holmes's studio to ask for help...
- As Torchwood revealed courtesy of Martha Jones in the episode "Reset", enough exposure to time radiation will forever alter you down to the genetic level, which had the added effect of granting a limited immunity/resistance to being caught up in events that change the timestream in unnatural ways.
- The early Charmed episode "From Fear to Eternity" has Prue's hair turning slightly white due to nearly drowning because the sisters are being targeted by Barbas for the first time; all the other witches targeted by him die of fear, with completely white hair.
- According to his Backstory, MST3K's Dr. Clayton Forrester gained a white streak in his hair (and his mustache) after being struck by lightning.
- In an episode of The Avengers showing Tara King's backstory, she was originally white-haired, until she saw something so horrifying that it turned her hair black.
- From Cirque Du Soleil's Widget Series Solstrom: In the horror pastiche episode "Howling Wind", the magic that transforms an old hotel into a Haunted Castle / Hell Hotel hybrid leaves its elderly owner with Einstein Hair. And in a rare example of this relating to Shapeshifting, it turns out to be the first step in his slow Metamorphosis into a Wolf Man.
- In Twin Peaks, Leland Palmer's hair turns white after he kills Jacques Reanult in the first season's finale.
- In the song "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm" by the Crash Test Dummies, the second verse is entirely about this trope. Namely, it's about a boy whose hair turned "from black into bright white" as the result of a traumatic car accident.
- Voltaire's "The Beast of Pirate's Bay" includes a verse about Blackbeard the pirate's encounter with the beast resulting in his beard turning white.
- 2D, lead singer of the rock band Gorillaz, fell out of a tree at a young age, landing on his head and knocking all his hair out. It grew back in bright blue and has stayed that way since.
- Fatal Frame
- Itsuki the boy locked in the storehouse in Fatal Frame II has his hair turn white overnight after killing his twin brother during the ritual. This seems to occur with some Remainings while others keep their normal hair color.
- Also happens to Tsuzuri Osaka, one of the ghosts in Fatal Frame 3. She had also killed her twin sister, though the backstory to this falls under All There in the Manual.
- Deadly Premonition. Zach's hair turned from brown to white upon witnessing the dead of both of his parents and being attacked by Kaysen. His hair, as well as scar, are hidden throughout the whole game as the players play through the viewpoint of his second personality, York, who selectively omits these two changes to Zach's appearance.
- In Warcraft 3 Arthas' hair goes white after his experiences in Northrend, though it's not entirely clear if it was the result of the magical influence of Frostmourne or simply stress, obsession and trauma combined with frigid weather.
- This is actually inverted in Last Scenario, when a blond character's hair turns black after prolonged exposure to a harmful magical substance.
- Jill goes blonde (not albino) in Resident Evil 5, apparently as a result of being cryogenically frozen.
- If you pay very close attention it's mentioned this is a result of harvesting T antibodies from her blood stream, which makes slightly more sense. Not really.
- In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future,
Don Paolo'sPaul's hair takes quite the transformation when he sees Claire and Hershel together. And for him, that's some serious business.
- A common fan theory is that this happened to Fenris due to the same ritual that imbedded lyrium in his skin. Considering his eyebrows are darker, this may be plausible.
- The anthropomorphic raccoon hero of Tales of the Questor has a white cow-lick where he was touched by a mythic entity—believed by some to be equivalent to an angel.
- Can happen to vampires in |Bite Me Lucien gets a white streak in his hair, while Audric's hair is completely white. Ginevra also gained a streak, though contrary to Audric's claim, she was always female.
- Happens many times in The Dragon Doctors. The wizard Sarin has green hair as a leftover from when she was turned into a tree. The shaman Kili's hair turned white when she was haunted as a child, and when Kili and her boyfriend Greg became werewolves later, a side-effect was their hair growing really long. There's also been one case of a woman trapped in slow motion having her hair grow several inches when she's accelerated back to normal speed.
- El Goonish Shive
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper Lee developed a fuchsia case of these upon becoming the Te Xuan Ze. Her grandmother's streak turned gray upon the transfer of power. The streak may actually be white (she just dyes it fuchsia), though past Te Xuan Zes seen in flashback have the same fuchsia streak. (Most notably a male one from what's probably the middle ages, before they were likely to have that kind of hair dye.)
- In the episode where June is shown getting her powers it's plain white, so she probably dyes it to avoid attracting to much attention. The fuchsia steak also fits in rather well with her status as a member of her brothers' rock band.
- In Transformers Animated, it's been revealed that this is how Isaac Sumdac got the grey/white streak in his otherwise black hair. He found a protoform, and when he touched it, it did... something to him while scanning his DNA, resulting in said hair.
- In Gargoyles, gangster Tony Dracon has a Skunk Stripe in his hair after his first appearance in "Deadly Force"; Word of God says that the in-universe rationale for this is because Dracon's first encounter with the gargoyles scared him so badly.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl Princess Yue of Avatar: The Last Airbender was a sickly child but perfectly dark-haired; her hair turned white when the Moon Spirit healed her.
- According to the "Cutie Mark Chronicles" episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie's curly mane and tail used to be straight, until she was hit by the force of Rainbow Dash's first sonic rainboom, which also made her want to spend her life smiling and having fun. This is proven in a following episode, "Party of One", where her hair immediately loses its curl when she thinks her friends no longer like her and all the joy drains out of her life.
- Referenced in the next episode, "Best Night Ever", where she tries to straighten her hair. It works...for about three seconds, when her excitement about the Grand Galloping Gala causes her hair to become curly again.
- In Recess, one episode established that Butch's Skunk Stripe came from him being traumatised after seeing two teenagers making out.
- On one episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Boris' latest fiendish plan is so horrible that Natasha's hair turns white upon reading it. "Not white, dahlink. Ash blonde."
- In the Futurama episode "Mobius Dick", Zoidberg is so traumatized by a Space Whale attack that he grows hair just so it can turn white.