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Well, at least she didn't break a nail...

"My hair! He shot my hair! Son of a bitch!"
Princess Vespa, Spaceballs

In either a gunfight or a sword battle, sometimes the bullet or blade gets just a bit too close for comfort, and you often see a Close-Call Haircut with a few cut strands of hair blowing around to indicate just how close the character came to getting hit. May also mark the point in the battle when the gloves come off, especially if one or both of the fighters are female and it suddenly becomes personal as soon as the female character's beauty is involved (a possible Double Standard, though this has been known to happen to the White-Haired Pretty Boy).

A common variation involves a bullet passing through a female character's hair, creating a gaping hole that's sometimes magically repaired by the next scene (see Hair Reboot).

May overlap with Important Haircut or Traumatic Haircut in some cases. See also Slipknot Ponytail and Hat Damage.

The trope was popularized during the Renaissance, when sword-wielding folk moved away from large and cumbersome cutting tools to lighter weapons that allowed additional finesse. Trimming an opponent's moustache or removing buttons in a declared order was a way to demonstrate one's superior fighting skills, culminating in the famous 'slice your initial in your opponent's clothes without actually breaking his skin' maneuver made famous by Alex Thoth's 'Zorro'.

Examples of Close-Call Haircut include:


  • In the 13th Detective Conan movie - "The Raven Chaser" we see Ran successfully dodging a bullet fired by a Black Syndicate member standing just in front of her. Truly one of her Crowning Moments of Awesome. A short slow-motion then happens, while we see this trope in use.
  • Happens twice to Kirika in Noir, once in the form of a bullet that grazes her head, apparently leaving her uninjured and undoing part of her Laser-Guided Amnesia, and again with a sword-wielding nun in the final episode. Mirielle also had one of these when she was a child; that's the apparent reason for her "half-bang" hairstyle.
  • Natsuki of Mai-HiME is angered to find that sword-wielding Mikoto has sheared off part of her hair during their fight in the first episode.
    • In a later episode, she does this to Nagi when she attempts to shoot him, but the bullet misses leaves a nasty mark on his hair.
  • Shizuru Viola in Mai-Otome has a sniper's bullet shot through her hair that takes out a spy she's captured (see image), though the damage is not noticeable by the next time we see her.
  • Meg from Burst Angel finds herself with a hole through her hair after Jo shoots through it to hit an enemy behind her.
  • Nia from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann cuts her hair short after it's riddled with bullets during a fight. It's also Character Development since the one who helps her with that is Cool Big Sis Yoko, showing that they're putting away their disagreements.
  • Nanami of Revolutionary Girl Utena has this happen during her duel with Utena to emphasize the loss of her composure.
  • It happens to Goku a couple of times in Dragonball Z. One scene in particular, from the first movie, is even included in the credits of the English version.
    • Of course, Goku being a Saiyan, it's back to normal by the next scene every time.
  • In Dragon Ball Z special The History of Trunks, Trunks manages to cut off a small bit of Android 18's hair using his sword. She gets angry "My hair! It doesn't grow back!" then proceeds, with the help of Android 17 to beat Trunks to a pulp.
    • During Vegeta's battle with Recoome he tries to kill Recoome by blasting his head off with a ki-blast, he survives the attacks and it burns off most of his hair.
  • Akane getting caught in the middle of Ranma's fight with Ryoga in Ranma ½, and the subsequent haircut, is an example that overlaps with Important Haircut.
  • In one episode of Pokémon, a Scyther lops off part of Jessie's distinctive hairdo, and she becomes obsessed with getting even with the Pokémon. Not only does she fail, but the Scyther ends up giving her, James, and Meowth mohawks in the end.
    • In another episode, a Seviper that Team Rocket is trying to catch does the same thing. Jessie beats it into submission with her bare hands, then captures it. She's had it for seven seasons (spanning two series) since.
  • Shaman King uses this on Bokuto no Ryu as a running gag, as his Elvis-esque pompadour is cut repeatedly. Very rarely is his pompadour ever intact, though he will go to absurd ends to cover up his mangled hair. (In the manga, he claims to use the hair-care product "Wrongain", obviously a Rogaine-spoof, to quickly grow his pompadour back.)
  • Slicer cuts off Miyuki's braid in the Triangle Heart 3 ~sweet songs forever~ OVA.
    • This is later referenced in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha with Signum as a Mythology Gag.
    • Speaking of Nanoha, you can barely see it (it's one of those "pause it and THEN you'll see it), but in Nanoha and Fate's climatic battle, some of Nanoha's hair is shot off by Fate's Magic Missile.
  • Laputa: Laputa: Castle in the Sky features Sheeta losing both of her pigtails after Muska shoots them off. This is also a case of Important Haircut.
  • During one of Teresa's fights in Claymore a few strands of her hair are seen blowing after her when Ilena attempts to attack her. However, this isn't so much hint that she's losing her composure (quite the opposite) but to show that she's just that good and they can't even touch her.
    • Another example occurs when Clare rescues Galatea from Agatha's clutches ? Clare's Windcutter nicks off a bit of Galatea's bangs, prompting Galatea to snark that her rescuer's technique needs refining.
  • A slight subversion occurs in the second episode of Zombie Loan: The cleaver that cuts off one of Michiru's braids actually does hit and fatally wound her. She's later resurrected and cuts the second one off herself.
  • In the first episode of Seto no Hanayome Nagasumi loses a few strands of hair when a dagger hits the wall close to his head.
    • In a later episode, Akeno actually slices the top of his head off.
  • In D.Gray-man, Lenalee Lee's formerly long Girlish Pigtails are burned off in a close call during a life-threatening over ocean battle with a level 3 Akuma, leaving her hair extremely short and unkempt in the process.
  • Occurs in Elfen Lied to multiple characters (mainly Lucy and Nana). However more often than not, people do get dismembered and sliced in half a lot.
  • Mikuru is subject to one of these during the baseball game in The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya when she ducks a fast moving baseball headed straight for her head.
    • Not too long after, Yuki experiences the same thing, excepts she does it while standing comfortably at attention and catches only the balls that head straight for her face and other vital spots on her body.
    • And this goddess gets another two from Mikuru while filming the movie. Not by baseballs, not by BB pellets, but by pressurized water balls, which promptly decimates the landscape behind her. AT POINT BLANK RANGE.
  • In the Kino's Journey novels, the young Shishou's hair has a ragged, gunshot appearance, as though this is the only way she cuts her hair. Given the way she's been known to cut down trees later in life, this is perhaps unsurprising.
    • Also, in the first coliseum fight, Kino faces an assassin with a bladed boomerang that manages to give her a tiny shave on the way back.
  • In Hunter X Hunter, Biscuit gets one of her pigtails cut off in a fight shortly after she is introduced. She continues to sport one-and-a-half pigtails for a while afterwards, before switching to a single ponytail.
  • Chrono in Chrono Crusade has his braid cut off during a battle with Remington. Another example of an Important Haircut.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Yue, after a mid-air scuffle with Ruby Moon, gets a portion of his hair severed by Ruby's swift hands.
  • In Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid Kaname Chidori is targeted by assassin Xia Yu Lan. Fortunately her knees buckle at that precise moment and so the bullet just clips her hair.
  • Played perfectly straight in Devil May Cry: The Animated Series when Trish and Lady fight in the church. Trish fires on a temporarily helpless Lady, who feels no wound and pats herself down, to find strands of hair on her shoulder. "You BITCH you shot my hair!" and the fight turns to fisticuffs.
  • It happens in One Piece in the fight between Zoro and Hatchan. At one point during his fight with Hatchan, Zoro lops off one of the spikes of his hairdo. For a few seconds, the octopus man looks as if he's about to blow a gasket, but then he immediately calms down as he realizes "It's only hair, after all. It'll grow back."
  • Death the Kid in Soul Eater had once some of his hair cut off during a fight. However, since he's very obsessed with balance and symmetry, it was sufficient to knock him out.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi, Yue, Nodoka, Tsukuyomi, and even Fate have experienced this.
  • Bleach: Charlotte Cuuhlhourne went berserk when Yumichika did this to him. It was implied that Yumichika did it deliberately to irritate Charlotte into releasing his power.
    • Hisagi did it to Findor who was a little unsettled by it but didn't go berserk.
    • In the anime, Toushirou managed to slice off a chunk of Gin's hair during their fight. Gin just carried on smiling...
    • It appeared as though Tsukishima had sliced off some of Orihime's hair when he cut her until it turned out he'd done something else instead.
    • Tsukishima sliced off some of Riruka's hair when she blocked his attack of Ichigo during his Villainous Breakdown.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, a few strands of Tamahome's hair are severed (in addition to him getting a slash across the cheek) while saving Miaka from thugs, just to show how Badass he is. Note that this happened before his fight with Suboshi, resulting in his Important Haircut.
  • Sakuya get hers lopped off by a spear in Utawarerumono.
  • One Monster of the Week in Sailor Moon was a doll with razor-sharp, projectile appendages. Sailor Mars just barely misses losing her head, and instead loses a few strands.
  • In King of Thorn, not long after Marco gives Kasumi a gun, she fires it accidentally and parts his hair.
  • This is how Goku lost his long hair in Saiyuki, when Gojyo first activated the shakujo staff without knowing how to use it.
  • Lelouch's hair gets clipped in Code Geass when Shirley shoots at him after being mind raped by Mao.
  • A Naruto villain seemed particularly ticked off every time her hair was damaged. Turns out it's because she's actually a body snatching wig. I.E. the hair is her real body.
  • Ushio tries to take out an enemy by tossing the spear...but only shaves off a few hairs.
  • Happens in almost every fight scene in Change 123. Everyone loses a few strands here and there, and yet it never adds up to a visible difference.
  • In Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, Yako gets her hair clipped when Neuro uses her to demonstrate a "Slingshot Guillotine" (more visible in the manga).
  • In Wild Rock, Emba just barely escapes from the alligator he's trying to save Yuuen from. His Braid Of Action gets snapped clean off in the alligator's jaws.
  • Softenni has Kotone, in a fit of jealousy, manage to undo Coach Mishimagi's ponytail and cut off a part of his hair. With a soft tennis ball.
  • In Gunsmith Cats, Rally gets a goodly portion of hair from the left side of her head cut off when Gray slashes at her with his prosthetic blade-arm.
  • Joe from ARAGO - as he receives a pair of glasses that allow him to see demons, and sees Seth for what he really is, Seth responds with a glare that nicks Joe's cheek and cuts a few strands of his sideburns loose.
  • This happens a couple of times to Kenshin of Rurouni Kenshin.
  • In one story arc of Lupin the Third Goemon has left the gang for another gang whom he thinks fits his lifestyle better, since he has betrayed them Lupin feels that he should kill him he fires a shot at his head, he ducks and the bullet grazes his cheek and cuts off a few locks of his hair.
  • In The Slayers, Lina gets a magic suppressing tiara latched onto her head to prevent her from using magic or suffer a nasty shock. After she and Gourry escaped from their cell, Gourry finds their weapons, and without hesitation, tosses Lina up and SLICES at her face with his sword as she fell. It took of a small strand of hair, but ultimately sliced off the tiara from her head. She repays him by bashing him over the head WITH HER OWN SWEATDROP.


  • British children's comic Dandy features one issue in which giant cowboy Desperate Dan has to get ready for a date. First he shaves, by dangling over a volcano to burn off the stubble. Then he gets a haircut by finding an Indian with a sharp-looking tomahawk, punching him in the face, and ducking at just the right moment...
  • Storm had this happen to her once, during a duel with Marrow. It led to a second dramatic hairstyle change from long and flowing to short and practical (and this one was much more stylish than her original Mohawk), though her character didn't change quite as much this time.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: While fighting Noriko, her half-sister, Tomoe gets a chunk of her hair sliced off as she ducks under a sword swing. Tomoe says nothing, but Noriko remarks "Bah! Your hair was too long, anyway."
    • While he doesn't make a big deal of it, Katsuichi-sensei loses a chunk of hair during his duel with Koji.

Fan Fiction

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon's sister gets one by a stray flechette, during the Combine's attack at North High.


  • Used comedically in Spaceballs, when the vain Princess Vespa's hair is singed by a Mook's laser - and she proceeds to pick up a gun and go Rambo on them.
  • Happens with stubble at the climax of Blades of Glory.
  • Daigoro's topknot from Lone Wolf and Cub gets a chunk taken out of it during a fight, but he's otherwise unharmed. Considering that he's a small child, this might have been as far as the director wanted to go when it came to actually injuring him.
  • Undercover Brother qualifies, although there it was more to motivate the hero to victory, à la the Berserk Button.
  • 300 has a slight variation: An axe cuts off the horse hair on top of the king's helmet.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen does this, but with an executioner's axe (one of his servants arrives just in the nick of time). "Thanks! I needed a trim!"
  • A variant of this happens early in Get Shorty, when Ray Bones tries to sneak into Chili Palmer's office to shoot him. Chili, having been alerted to this, just waits with his gun aimed at head height. When Bones breaks in, Chili shoots him—and leaves a groove on the top of his head from the passage of the bullet, to which Bones freaks out and goes running out of the building, screaming.

 "Someone call nine-fucking-one-one-one!"

  • This popped up in a climactic battle in The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, between the emperor mummy and Zi Yuan.
  • In Peter Jackson's depiction of the War of the Last Alliance in The Fellowship of the Ring, an Elf arrow just barely misses taking Elrond's pointy ear off as it breezes through his hair.
  • In Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves Kevin Costner (Robin Hood) chops off a decent sized piece of Alan Rickman's (The Sheriff of Nottingham) hair during their final battle. He then quips "If I have to, I shall take you a piece at a time..."
  • The Thin Man in the Charlie's Angels movie cut off Alex's hair and sniffed it while swordfighting with her.
  • The fatter of the two Scousers in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels takes a shotgun blast to the perm. He is not pleased.
  • Red Cliff: At the climax, Cao Cao's topnot is undone (in Bullet Time, even!) by an arrow courtesy of Sun Quan.
  • Subverted in Kill Bill, Pt. 1, when for perhaps half a second, it appears that the Bride's katana has cut O-Ren's black hair off her head. Then you realize that O-Ren's scalp and the top of her skull have come off with it.
  • In many shorts of The Three Stooges, gun shots might leave a bald, steaming trail from the front to the back of Moe's or someone else's head, or else blow their hats off.
  • In Rio, Blu narrowly escapes getting cut by a buzzsaw, which shears off a couple of feathers off the back of his head.


  • In Mercedes Lackey 's Born to Run (part of the SERR Ated Edge series), due to participating in a magical battle while exhausted (his aim goes to pieces when he's tired), Tannim accidentally gave an elf a 'Reverse Mohawk' because his magic bolt riccoheted off and cut a clean line along his scalp. The elf kept this style for the rest of the book, despite their glamour magic.
  • In Finder's Stone trilogy one halfling got a clump of her hair shaved off by dozen of sweeping disintegration rays. Granted, this trap was set on a reasonable assumption that only one human could be there, but it still looks like those who suspected she's favoured by Lady Luck even more than other halflings got it right...
  • This happens in Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix to Dolores Umbridge, the most hated authority figure character throughout the series, when a centaur fires an arrow that catches her hair in passing after she offends them... not that it stops her from insulting them further. Some people simply never learn...
    • During a duel Harry ducks to avoid a spell, and mentions the smell of singed hair to show how close the spell was
  • In the Italian children's book Il Mascheraio Innocente (The Innocent Mask-maker), the titular character is wrongly accused of putting a wasp inside a duchess' mask, and sentenced to death by beheading. He spends the time until the execution making a mask with his likeness and then wears it on top of his head, so when he gets executed he survives. He didn't make the neck of the mask quite long enough, though, causing his friends to remark that "[his] haircut looks like it's been made with a meat cleaver".
  • In the Federation of the Hub story Lion Loose, "Baldy" Perk got his name because a near-miss from a blaster permanently removed the hair from the top of his head.

Video Games

  • In Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+, there is a scene in which Xaldin hurls a spear at Axel's head; there is a visible puff of red hairs that fly off when the spear hits about three inches to the left of Axel's face.
  • The introductory cutscene to The Witcher has Geralt doing this to a Striga.

Web Comics

Live Action TV

Western Animation

  • In the Woody Woodpecker short "Solid Ivory", Woody gets a chunk of his hair chopped off by a flying axe. He is not amused.
  • Katara does this to Azula with a blade of water in the season two finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, managing to annoy the already borderline-crazy Azula even more.
    • Earlier, in a fight between Jet and Zuko, a blow gets so close that it cuts the blade of grass from Jet's mouth.
    • And even earlier than that, the leaders of two feuding tribes that the gAang run into have a duel in which they do this to each other.
    • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok does this to Korra with a viscious waterbending attack.
  • In the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", Bender is dealing a hand of poker and accidentally clips off some of Fry's hair with a wildly thrown card.
    • In Bender's Big Score, Bender belches, setting Amy's uncharacteristically long hair on fire—causing it to go back to the style she had it in during the series.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land," Homer repeatedly ducks the cleaver of a mad robot while insisting that nothing is wrong, but loses the two hairs on top of his head when it gets too close ("Ah! My hair!").
  • At least one episode of Looney Tunes in which Yosemite Sam confronts Bugs Bunny culminates in Bugs using a trick shot that not only parts Sam's hair but splits his hat, as well.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two Shoes had Lucius sending Jimmy and Heloise on a roller coaster that consisted, in part, of several giant meat clevers that would chop them to bits. They were spaced so poorly that they only succeeded in chopping of Jimmy's hair.
  • An episode of The Fairly Odd Parents had Timmy's Yoo Doo doll about to be put into a wood chipper. By the time he gets Cosmo and Wanda to unwish the dolls, the shredder has shaved his hair.
    • In another episode in which he wishes that he and Trixie were the last people on earth, near the end Trixie has gone insane and tries to kill Timmy with a helicopter just before he wishes the world back to normal she has managed to cut off some of his hair with the helicopter blades.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don't have hair, but in an episode of the 2003 cartoon an axe blade slices through the tails of Michelangelo's mask for much the same effect.
  • Happens to Clover in an episode of Totally Spies. It's naturally a Berserk Button.
  • The Powerpuff Girls - Bubbles gets one of her pigtails turned into a drumstick by a stray meat-making beam from the villain of the week. Cue No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • In the Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes episode "Widow's Sting" Hawkeye tries to shoot Natasha with an arrow, she moves out of the way and it cuts off some of her hair.
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "Jack vs Mad Jack" during their fight Evil Jack slices off his trademark topknot hair, he then does the same to him.
  • In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "The Ride of the Valkyries" after being mistaken for their sister the Valkyries give Muriel a battle axe as she playfully fools around with it she accidentally cuts off some of Courage's fur on his head.
  • In the Thundercats 2011 episode "Journey to the Tower of Omens" this happens to Cheetara while using her Super Speed and Super Reflexes to jump through a Death Course of whirling blades in a Temple of Doom.
  • Rambo in his 1980's cartoon was often seen ducking for cover right when the enemy fires at him, just fast enough for the bullets to slice a few locks of hair from his head. The man had the Devil's luck, one has to admit.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret of my Excess" this happened twice - first time when Spike accidentally burns the doctor's hair off with his breath, another time when the Wonderbolts slashed the crest on his head off.
  • In the Tom and Jerry short "Mouse Trouble", a gunshot leaves Tom bald, and he has to wear a Dodgy Toupee for the rest of the cartoon.

Real Life

  • At the battle of Fredericksburg during the American Civil War, Confederate cavalry general J.E.B Stuart had a lock of hair cut off by a bullet, and three more bullets passing through his clothes, while he left the battlefield unharmed.