Perma-Stubble

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The face that inspired the "stubble" setting on electric razors.


"I'm trying to think of the last action movie I saw with realistic facial hair. I sometimes wonder how these guys go through days of unremitting action while still finding time off to use an electric shaver on the stubble setting"

So you're an Anti-Hero, or maybe The Drifter or an equally gritty protagonist Made of Iron. Now, how to get street cred as a Badass Mofo? Cause big explosions? Shoot with Guns Akimbo? Nah, just stop shaving!

In the wonderful land of Hollywood, the law of Good Hair, Evil Hair is irrevocably ingrained in concrete. To wit, the only people who don't shave are Action Heroes; everyone else has good hygiene. Even Mooks are better groomed, or are ugly and easily distinguished from our hero.

Especially fun when the hero has a perfectly shaved head (unless naturally bald or getting there) and a five o'clock shadow. Even when starting a film with a perfectly smooth jaw, all it takes for the hero to grow his five-o'clock shadow is the sound of gunfire; y'see, Big Damn Heroes don't sweat when anxious, they grow facial hair.

May grow out into a Badass Beard if given enough time, unless he keeps it stubbly by choice. Tends to grow on a Lantern Jaw of Justice. Contrast Beard of Sorrow, which is usually temporary. Opposite of the Perma-Shave.

Not entirely unrealistic, as men with dark hair but slow beard growth can get 5-o'clock shadow which then stays perma-stubble for days without any maintenance.

Almost ubiquitous among Estrogen Brigade Bait characters, from the common female perspective that facial hair is manly, but too much is foul.

Examples of Perma-Stubble include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Also, Gambit, from X-Men. Until very recently, I think.
    • Wolverine as well, though the movies have him pretty well cleaned up at times.
      • Depending upon the era, The Punisher certainly qualifies - during his Nineties Anti-Hero phase, he had stubble so often his action figures had it. Sine the Garth Ennis reboot of the 2000's, he's gone pretty much clean-shaven (although it has returned on occasion during Ennis' Marvel Max run).
  • Depending on the Artist, clean shaven Bruce Wayne sometimes grows an instant rugged stubble the moment he puts on the Batman mask. It's also reliably a part of any disguise as a disreputable character.
  • Lampshaded in the case of Desperate Dan of the British Dandy comic: his stubble, like everything else about him, is super-tough, so removing it is very, very hard. It also grows back super-fast.
  • In Fables Bigby Wolf has to constantly shave because of his ancestry. This becomes a minor plot point in one issue because members of the SS were expected to be clean shaven and Bigby needed to impersonate one.
  • Gen, Miyamoto Usagi's bounty hunter friend. Also Sanshobo.
  • In the '90s, and in certain titles over the past year or so, you could expect any male over the age of eighteen who didn't already have a full beard or goatee to sport this, usually in either Marvel or Image comics. Practically the only one to escape was Captain America.
  • Comicbook representations of Soontir Fel seem to veer around this interestingly. As a youth pre-conscription he was clean shaven. After gaining some renown as a fighter pilot and starting to teach more pilots he grew a very neat goatee. But as various things happened and he lost faith in the Empire, he started getting more and more stubbly. He tended to have stubble after defecting, too. Not all the time, but, for example, there's a point when all of the Rogues are cut off from civilization for long enough that all of the human males grow stubble. A few scenes later, everyone but Fel has found time to shave. Yet he never has an actual beard.


Film[edit | hide]

  • John McClane of Die Hard has the shaved head variety in the latest.
  • Indiana Jones has this in all four films. He might START clean shaven, but as soon as he puts on the Hat, he has at least 3 days growth. It's Lampshaded in Temple of Doom: "Shorty, where's my razor?"
  • Aragorn of The Lord of the Rings has about two weeks of stubble for three films, until he becomes king and instantly grows a regal beard. Elves can't grow beards, so the stubble works as a symbol that he's an outsider among them and not comfortable with the fact.
  • Toshiro Mifune plays a gruff and disheveled samurai in various films who usually goes unshaven. Mifune often sticks his arm up through his collar to absently rub his stubbly chin, which has become an iconic image for the actor and the character.
  • Nearly every Terminator has an example. Kyle Reese in T1, John Connor in T3 and Salvation, not to mention most of the resistance in Salvation including Marcus Wright which makes this a rare form of cyborg permastubble!
  • Clint Eastwood. Although, in The Dollars Trilogy, it's on the edge of becoming a full beard.
  • Escape from New York: Snake Plissken, though the film takes place over a single night, so naturally it never changes.
  • All male hyenas from The Lion King, most notably Banzai and Ed, for some reason have perma-stubble, which is simply a patch of darker fur around the muzzle.
  • If you look closely in Megamind, Megamind has perma-stubble when masquerading as Bernard. Justified, since Bernard had 5 o'clock shadow when Megamind scanned him with the disguise watch.
  • Colter Stevens has perma-stubble in Source Code, even when the person he's inhabiting is clean shaven. I don't even know where to begin on how that works...
  • The titular character gets this while on the run in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • The low-budget movie Trancers is a rare instance where the explanation is shown on screen. Jack Deth used futuristic technology to jump into his ancestor's body 300 years earlier. When he jumped, his ancestor had his face lathered up and was about to shave. Since Jack didn't know anything about twentieth-century shaving methods, he just wiped the foam off his face and went unshaven for the rest of the movie.
  • Jeff Speakman in The Perfect Weapon sports a five o'clock shadow that's actually just painted on.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In many variants of Our Vampires Are Different (Such as Anne Rice's), vampires can't change the length of their hair, because their regeneration simply causes it to grow back to the original length in minutes. Hence, they're basically stuck with whatever hair-length they had when they were 'turned'. Thus, for a vampire, having permastubble could actually be justified.
  • Samuel Vimes from Discworld . Even though he shaves regularly, he always is drawn with a stubble.
    • Ditto Nobby Nobbs, who was described in one book as "clean-shaven, at least he was clean-shaven the last time he shaved."
    • In Vimes' case, it probably has something to do with the fact that he's described as being so fundamentally, in-the-bone scruffy that he could "rumple a helmet".
  • Bendel, from Pettersson & Bendel.
  • Fitz Kreiner, from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, has a more realistic variant—he's just bad at shaving.[1] So he's often described as stubbly. It suits him, as he's an Action Survivor.
  • Artemis Enteri is described as having a stubbled beard that "no amount of shaving could ever lighten."
  • Lampshaded in Warbreaker, where Vasher's perpetual beard stubble leads Vivenna to wonder if he actively trims it too look like that. It's eventually revealed to be literal Perma-Stubble; Vasher's a Returned, which means his appearance changes only if he actively wills it to.
  • Time Scout's Kit Carson always sports a little mustache, but when things go to hell during Ripper Season, he ends up with manly stubble.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Stannis sports a beard that is trimmed so short that it's just a shadow along his jaw.
  • One character in Goldfinger carried a small electric shaver with him, apparently at all times, because it seemed his beard grew so rapidly he had to shave four or five times a day to keep from looking scruffy. This is revealed when he pulls out the shaver and uses it in the middle of a conference while he's thinking over Goldfinger's plan.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • House always looks disheveled, a combination of his disability and his personality. The stubble is actually lampshaded in two episode. One of these has House actually giving himself a clean shave; the result is so jarring that he looks like a stranger, highlighting how much the stubble is associated with his character. On another occasion Dr. Wilson tells him, "I lied. I've been lying to you in increasing amounts ever since I told you you looked good unshaved a year ago."
    • Now Chase has stubble too, causing many fangirls to go "squee...."
  • Dr. Mc Dreamy on Grey's Anatomy. Also Alex, Jackson, and sometimes Mark.
  • Luke Danes on Gilmore Girls Seriously. Does he ever get a beard in the entire show?
  • Several guys on on Men In Trees.
  • Lost has an interesting case of this. Despite having very limited access to a razor, none of the males have grown beards. Maybe slowing down the growth of facial hair is yet another special quality of the island. The rest is covered under Improbable Hairstyle.
    • Though Locke is shown shaving his head in the hatch.
    • Jacks Perma-Stubble is actually parodied in a sketch on Mad TV. Apparently the only razor Jack has access to is a sharpened seashell which apparently only keeps his beard at 5 o'clock shadow.
    • Ironically, it's future-Jack that can't seem to get a shave. Go figure.
    • On more than one occasion characters have questioned Hurley's beard growing ability.
  • Shawn from Psych, who has actually woken up with less stubble than when he went to bed.
  • Dr. Cox on Scrubs, for the most part.
    • For the most part he's clean shaven. Though he did grow it out one season, and then J.D. started doing it.
  • The title character on Dexter. He's shown shaving in every opening sequence, but we see no more than a few swipes at his neck, so he apparently cultivates the look intentionally.
  • Don Draper of Mad Men has a permanent five-o'clock shadow (that gray color on his cheeks), even when he steps out of the barber's chair after receiving a shave.
  • One of the signs that Wesley on Angel Took a Level In Badass is when he got the Perma-Stubble.
  • Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice put permastubble on the map. Electric shavers didn't even have a "stubble" setting before Miami Vice came out. That was introduced as a direct response to Sonny Crockett's popularity.
  • Sylar, the brain-stealing supervillain from Heroes. In his meek Clark Kent-ish persona, Gabriel Gray, he is clean-shaven and wears glasses. As soon as he manifested his powers and learned that Evil Feels Good, he grew a Perma-Stubble. (Well, alright, not immediately. But the only time we see him shaving off the stubble is when he visits his mother, who didn't know what her son had been up to.)
    • Peter had an on/off Perma-Stubble in Season 1, which became non-existent in Season 2, returned with a vengeance in Volume Four, and hasn't seemed to disappear since. Also, Future Peter 1.0 was made of this.
    • Mohinder also had Perma-Stubble much of the time. Future!Mohinder as of "Five Years Gone" replaced this with a full beard (and glasses).
  • Dean Winchester from Supernatural. This was also done to make his actor, Jensen Ackles, look older than Jared Padalecki, the actor playing Dean's younger brother, Sam.
    • To an extent, it's pretty necessary as well. Take a look at him in 4x17 where he's quite clean shaven - and looks about five years younger than he does in the rest of the episodes. There were some other factors at play there, of course, but still.
    • Also, Castiel. Justified in that he's an angel posessing a man, and the body is either in stasis or Castiel maintains it the way it was when he took posession. The actor himself, Misha Collins, also seems to have a case of perma stubble.
  • Michael Westen of Burn Notice grows a five-o'clock shadow in the second season mid-finale. This episode he portrays a hard-drinking bodyguard to catch the attention of a would-be kidnapper. It fits the character personality, but also makes him that much more Badass when he "gets religion" and fights back.
    • Sam Axe never met a razor he liked. He gets called on it in the fourth season.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles' Derek Reese has what is dubbed as a "permanent three day growth."
    • Kyle has some as well, even as a hallucinated ghost!
  • Cyrus Lupo from Law and Order, particularly since Ed Green left and he's now the senior partner.
    • Though in 20.12 the Lt called him on it, telling him (and the junior) to get a shave because he was not in Falujah any more.
  • Charlie on Numb3rs has varying amounts of stubble throughout the show.
  • Dark Angel's Logan Cale sports the unusual combination of Action Hero three-day stubble and Non-Action Guy glasses.
  • Peter Bishop from Fringe.
  • Cal Lightman of Lie to Me is rarely shown clean shaven.
  • Mitchell from Being Human (UK). He even shows up to an interview with a few day's worth of stubble.
  • Rick from The Walking Dead has an egregious case of this, as it is post-Zombie Apocalypse yet he still maintains a perpetual three-days beard growth. He even had Perma-Stubble when he woke from a months-long coma! This is in sharp contrast to the original comic, where his beard does grow realistically.
  • John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis has a fluctuating level of stubble, but he is never fully without it.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Michael W. Smith in the 80's and 90's.
  • All over the place in Country Music; nearly everyone has stubble, a beard or a goatee. It seems a lack of facial hair is forbidden unless you're George Strait.


New Media[edit | hide]

  • The Vocaloid character Tonio has stubble and a tuxedo in his boxart, giving him a bit of an unkempt-opera-singer Tuxedo and Martini vibe. The fandom took this and ran with it.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan. Particularly ridiculous because his hair is trademark blonde and the stubble was black.
  • Edge.
  • Scott Hall, going all the way back to his WWF days as Razor Ramon.


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • "Brown Hair and Stubble" has become part of the standard "make a game setting" package of tropes used by developers, along with Real Is Brown and Take Cover.
  • The officer outfit for the Herald of Insight of Bloodline Champions shows how he must be deserved that rank (in an Authority Equals Asskicking manner) with this.
  • As of Devil May Cry 4, Dante has one. Oddly, it's a different color from the rest of his hair. It's uncommon, but not unheard of, for facial hair to come in a different color than the rest of a man's hair.
    • Well, supposedly Dante's hair color actually was originally brown until his demon bloodline kicked in.... though this still doesn't explain why it only changed from the eyebrows up.
  • The characters in Street Fighter 2 were given a minor makeover in the Champion Edition, and one of those was giving a shadow to Ryu.
  • If you look hard enough at the large posters, you can see that Assassin's Creed protagonist Altair has stubble.
  • Several of the Team Fortress 2 classes namely: The Heavy, The Soldier, The Sniper, The Engineer and The Spy (or what little you can see through his mask) look as if they haven't shaved in a week. As for the others, The Scout is physically incapable of growing facial hair, The Medic looks as if he shaved yesterday, The Demoman's facial hair appears to be a style choice, and the Pyro's is none of your damn business.
  • When Solid Snake's being an angsty self-proclaimed bastard in the first Metal Gear Solid, he's clean-shaven. In Metal Gear Solid 2, when he's being far more personable and open, cue a shadow - apparently to invoke a vagrant living on a miserable budget, according to the character designer. Interestingly enough, an Easter Egg allows Raiden to give Snake a shaver as a present right at the start of the game, which causes him to be clean-shaven towards the end. You just have to find it first. (His friend Otacon also has permastubble, but that's more about being an unkempt Otaku than a Badass.)
    • In the Metal Gear Solid graphic novel, the artist draws Snake smooth-faced at the start of the story, gritty towards the middle, and with a young beard towards the end (and on the cover of the PSP version), suggesting he just grows facial hair very quickly.
  • In the fourth Ace Attorney game, Phoenix Wright sports one, signifying his significant change in life and personality.
    • Gumshoe does, along with a perpetual bandage over what is presumably a shaving cut. Since everyone in the games only has one sprite (unless time travel or costume change involved), he never changes.
    • Detective Badd, in Ace Attorney Investigations, probably because he's designed to resemble your stereotypical Hardboiled Detective.
  • As a gentle send-up of the Action Movie Hero type, Double H from Beyond Good and Evil sports perma-stubble.
  • The default facial preset for Mass Effect's male Commander Shepard—which is a head-scan of Dutch fashion model Mark Vanderloo—has an impressive one of these, as well as a variation of stubble available for customized faces.
  • Another one from BioWare: Carth Onasi has a case of this.
  • Volke, an assassin in the Fire Emblem series, has permanent stubble in Path of Radiance. He also happens to be one of the most badass and wittiest characters in the game. In the sequel, Radiant Dawn, he's wearing a scarf that covers his chin, but he exchanges the stubble for even more badass lines.
  • Henry and Walter of Silent Hill 4 are in dire need of a razor.
    • To be fair Henry has way bigger problems to deal with, and Walter... well he's Walter.
  • Auron in Final Fantasy X has a short growth the entire game. It's almost like he's not aging...
    • Ba-dum chick!
  • Torn of the Jak and Daxter series seems to have this, though it's lighter than the rest of his skin... a five o'clock AM shadow?
  • Ryotaro Dojima of Persona 4.
  • Calvin, the Adventurer Archaeologist and an eligible bachelor from Harvest Moon Tree of Tranquility and Animal Parade, has stubble.
  • Again with BioWare, Alistair of Dragon Age (also an example of Estrogen Brigade Bait), though somewhat unusually his is blond. Most non-bearded male NPCs are also stubbly, unless they're elves. The sequel also has Perma-Stubble on Varric (an unusual non-bearded dwarf) and Anders (who has brown stubble despite his blond hair; perhaps he bleaches?)
  • Snow Villiers of Final Fantasy XIII
  • Raven from Tales of Vesperia.
  • Batman again, in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Actually, he begins the game clean shaven, and winds up with stubble by the time it's over. Which in the timeframe, was probably all of one night (but maybe his facial hair does grow that fast).
  • Sims 2 allows you to configure your characters with permastubble - which is relatively tame considering that the same function allows you to change your hair color and length, longer OR shorter.
  • Glas, from Fear Effect has perma stubble in both games. (As well as the cancelled 3rd game.)
  • Angeal Hewley from Crisis Core, in contrast to the baby-faced, Bishonen Genesis, Sephiroth and Zack.
  • John Marston from Red Dead Redemption has one hell of a stubble.
  • If you don't have York shave in Deadly Premonition, he can eventually grow a full-blown Badass Beard. However, no matter how often you do make use of that razor, he still always has a permanent five-o-clock shadow.
  • Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell. Also, if you horse around too long on missions, he'll eventually grow a thicker one.
  • Motomi from Togainu no Chi. Although all the other males in Toshima are clean shaven...
  • Isaac Clarke from Dead Space.
  • Soap MacTavish from Modern Warfare.
  • Jacques Blanc from Onimusha 3. He was granted the oni power, allowing him to use whip-based weapons. Bonus point because he is modeled after Jean Reno.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Dimo the Jaegermonster from Girl Genius is a Badass, and he has the stubble to match.
  • Displayed by semi-fallen angel Rumisiel in Misfile, in stark contrast to his clean shaven boy scout of a brother. It suits his stoner/slacker persona quite well.
  • Stubble Comics.
  • Clark from Shape Quest has a trademark stubble.
  • {...} of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name literally has Perma-Stubble, since he's... well... dead. He's also a master of deadpan sarcasm and very protective of his friends. Doc Worth also has Perma-Stubble, although in his case it's less Badass and more because he doesn't care enough about his appearance to shave it.
  • Ronin Galaxy: Giancarlo's goatee isn't the neatest one, its surrounded by plenty of stubble.
  • Rocko Sasquatch in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob. (He learns that he is actually a bigfoot who was exiled for being born bald; ironically, his beard and eyebrows are the only significant hair on his body.)
  • Several of the characters in Stubble Trouble are pretty much permanently bald (they're furries who like to shave off their fur, try to figure that one out).
  • Commander Badass of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things (though a couple of days without shaving gives him a full beard).
    • At the other end of the scale, you have Jared.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Invoked and parodied with the main character in the Podcast Sci Fi Radio Drama Log of the Crimson Lien. He's descended from genetically-altered humans, and as a result has extremely sparse and slow hair growth. Years upon years of not shaving has still only resulted in a 5 o'clock shadow, which he keeps because he thinks it makes him look like a rugged space adventurer.
  • Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
  • Though he's clean shaven on occasion, The Spoony One is most often seen with a face full of stubble.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Let's not forget Homer Simpson of The Simpsons, though in his case it's more to accentuate his low-browness. If he shaves, it still grows back in a matter of seconds.
    • In one episode he's shaving but leaves his usual because Marge likes a bit of stubble, it has at times become worse when he can't take care of it.
      • In fact, he shaves off his muzzle by accident at one point and uses a spray-on can of stubble to replace it.
  • Same goes for Homer's spiritual ancestor Fred Flintstone.
  • For some reason, despite the fact that he lives in the future where anything can be done at a push at a button, George Jetson sports the stubble.
  • The Road to El Dorado: Spanish con men Tulio and Miguel spend days wandering through the Amazon, with no visible access to soap, let alone shaving supplies. Tulio's Perma-Stubble stays immaculate through the entire film.
  • Chris on Total Drama Island.
  • Hoss Delgado from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.
  • If we wanna argue robotic facial hair, one could say that Transformers Animated Ratchet has what at least looks like Perma Stubble. Even without the three little dents that are consistently drawn on his face, the area around his mouth is colored purplish-blue, like five o' clock shadow.
  • In one episode of Dexters Laboratory, Dexter's Mom comments to his Dad, that he looks especially rugged today. Dad replies its because he hasn't shaved for a couple days.
  • Colonel Hunter Gathers from The Venture Brothers maintains his permastubble even after getting a sex change operation.
  • Matrix from Re Boot.
  • Bender grows rust around his mouth when he doesn't drink. This is a display of Fridge Brilliance since alcohol and effervescent drinks can be mildly acidic, which are rust removers.
    • Knowing the writers of Futurama, the odds of this being a coincidence are virtually nil.
  • The Swoofs from The Smurfs have what appears to be a ring of Fred Flintstone stubble around their mouths, though it could also simply be tribal face paint. Even Swoofette, who is Smurfette in disguise, has it!
  • K'nuckles is blue. For the most part the series is content to let you assume that he's an example of Amazing Technicolor Population in a series that otherwise lacks the trope...except for one episode that implies it's some sort of stubble-wig he puts on every morning.
  • Benson's gumballs are meant to resemble Perma-Stubble.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Women like their men with stulazybble. It's true!
  • Certain men (and particularly certain ethnic groups) have a facial hair anatomy such that it is extremely difficult to shave cleanly. This is particularly true for men of African descent whose hair grows in at a narrow angle. Shaving can also actually be more dangerous for such people, since closely trimming hair at such a narrow angle makes it far more likely for the hair to become ingrown. While some of these people do diligently shave anyway (particularly if they are a minority in cultures that have a taboo against facial hair), they never quite look clean-shaven.
  • Some people's facial hair just grows very, very slowly, meaning that it could take as much as a week before you actually notice it to have gotten longer.
    • The opposite is also true. Coarse, dark facial hair against very pale skin is nearly impossible to wipe off short of removing the top layer of facial skin. The end result of a normal shave is a near permanent five o'clock shadow. (Jon Hamm is a good example. He's almost always clean-shaven on Mad Men, but never entirely loses the shadow.)
  • Stubble tattoo.
  1. Fridge Brilliance: his father died when he was quite young, which might explain it. Or maybe it's just because he's The Klutz.