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Botan: Aw, it's got your hair!
A pet. On someone's head.
From an animation standpoint this serves the purpose of bringing the animal in question closer to the faces of the human characters, so they can both be in close shots at once. Truth in Television in the case of pets, such as birds, that like to be as high up as possible.
Often the owner of the head is an unwilling steed, as the Head Pet is strangely attracted to Deadpan Snarkers and their ilk. Otherwise they can put the human who puts up with this treatment firmly in Cloudcuckoolander territory, particularly if they claim not to notice them.
Anime & Manga
- Ryo-ohki from Tenchi Muyo commonly sits on Sasami's head and occasionally sits on other people's heads as well.
- That cat, Pirozhki, that they find in Kanon.
- "You with the Pikachu on your head! Listen with your ears, not with your mouth!" Though Pikachu has since moved to Ash's shoulder.
- Eevee does this with Mikey in the Pikachu Shocks Back manga.
- More recently, Piplup has started riding on Dawn's head.
- And the Team Rocket trio's Meowth occasionally hitches a ride on Jessie's or James's head.
- In a more amusing example, Ash was somehow stable enough to support a baby Hippopotas on his head. In the games, it weighs in at 109 pounds!
- Iris, Ash's new travel companion for the Unova region, has an Axew which lives in her massively large mass of hair.
- What about Munchlax, which in one episode the Tagalong Kid Max had no problem carrying on his shoulders?
- In Pokémon Special, Black's Munna rides on his head to feed on his distracting dreams. His Tepig also sometimes hitches a ride in his jacket hood.
- Although not a Team Pet, Patamon in Digimon Adventure.
- In Digimon Tamers, Terriermon sometimes sits on Henry's head. Since Terriermon's Masquerading as a stuffed animal, he gets odd stares.
- In Digimon Savers, in which Kudamon rather drapes himself over his partner's neck and shoulders like a scarf.
- Somewhat lampshaded in The Movie. Terriermon, again, sits on Wallace's head when they're traveling cross-country, so he won't have to walk and Wallace gets a convenient umbrella.
- Tora from Ushio and Tora. Considering that Tora is a catlike demon who is much bulkier than his human "boss", this tends to be awkward.
- Yu Yu Hakusho:. It was Urameshi's monster that nested in his head, to his dislike. At least it didn't kill him... It "grows up" later, so he can ride on its head.
- Mokona in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.
- Not the first time a self-insert did it, to much chagrin of the wearer: God!Mokona did it with princey boy for quite some time in the forest of Silence in at least the manga version of Magic Knight Rayearth. (Including a hilarious scene where Ferio's acting all cool an nonchalant, yet Mokona's still hanging around on his head.)
- Kiba has his dog Akamaru on his head. At some point during the time skip he got too big (which Kiba didn't notice since he was there the whole time), and Akamaru eventually got large enough for Kiba to ride him. The cutest part? Kiba doesn't even notice the role-reversal until Naruto points it out.
- The summoned toads Gamakichi and Gamatatsu are similar examples: when they're first summoned they're small enough that they occasionally ride on Naruto's head, but after the Time Skip they're big enough for Naruto to ride on one (which Gamakichi eventually does).
- Ta-kun, the small black cat in FLCL, is often sitting on either Mamimi's or Canti's head.
- Anemone's overweight pet badger in Eureka Seven decides to spend the last few episodes on Dominic's head or shoulder.
- Tama, the flying turtle in Love Hina.
- Diana from Sailor Moon, occasionally. Luna and Artemis are shoulder and neck pets.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Boota sometimes sitting on Simon's head. However, he definitely prefers Yoko's... "comfortable place".
- Partially applies to Yachiru from Bleach and her love of resting on (and chewing!) Ikkaku's head. Also partially applies from the way she spends a lot of time on Kenpachi's shoulder.
- Wanna see a cat resting on top of another cat? Take a look at Nekoconeko from Azumanga Daioh. And then Sakaki puts a Nekoconeko on her head...
- Maro rides on Misako Kurata's head in Kodomo no Omocha. Mama Kurata even answers (In-Universe!) the inevitable Fridge Logic of having a squirrel in your head—Maro knows better than to poop where it lives, so it leaves Mama's head to fertilize the houseplants instead. Maro even wipes afterwards!
- In Potemayo, the title moeblob spends much of its time sitting on Sunao's head. And she generally has a small yellow bird on her head at the same time.
- Yuuno in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha occasionally takes this position. When he's in his ferret form, that is.
- Dan's pet (and occasional mask) Spanky in Basquash!.
- The Phoenix Tayutai in Tayutama, which initially takes to resting on Yumina's head in the form of a plump bird.
- Mahou Sensei Negima
- Chamo is a straight example of this; he has ridden on Negi's head multiple times, and probably about each 3-A girls' head at least once. And he once hid in the front of Asakura's vest (it was her idea).
- Variation with ghost girl Sayo; when she's possessing a small doll, she sometimes sits on people's heads, usually Asakura's.
- Also, when the girls were throwing Chao a going-away party, Zazie gives her a tiny dragon as a present. A live one. Invoking the trope, she puts it on Chao's head, where it spends most of the scene chewing on her hair.
- Timcanpy from D Gray Man likes resting on Allen's head. And General Cross' too. Often in the midst of battle.
- Mocchi, the weird alien-blob thing in Dear S, likes being worn as a hat.
- Adorable midget panda Xiaomei sometimes rides around on her person May Chang's head in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga.
- Axis Powers Hetalia has Prussia, with his mysterious little chickie, Gilbird.
- Ebi, the weird alien pet from the Girls Bravo manga, sometimes rides on Tomoka's head.
- Though not yet in the manga or anime, Shiranui of Hayate the Combat Butler does this for Nagi's figurine.
- Menchi from Excel Saga is depicted in a lot of official artwork being held by Excel on her head. The classic pose is incredibly popular with cosplayers.
- In Gunnm: Last Order, the cyborg representative of the Jupiter Union carries a cyborg cat on his head.
- Madam Torogai from Moribito Guardian of the Spirit often has a a rabbit-like dog resting in her hat.
- In one Ranma One Half story, Kunō buys the egg of a "legendary phoenix" that will supposedly grant him an incredible sword technique, but he is warned to never put the egg on his head. Ranma "accidentally" does just that, and it promptly hatches into a stupid-looking birdie that imprints on the first person it sees each day and psychotically attacks them, though it may as well be glued to Kunō's head. The fact it can also emit a paralyzing/electrifying stare against that person means that they can't fight back. Ranma, naturally, wants the thing gone, so he starts feeding it special growth pellets... which, in the anime, results in it growing to kaiju size and flying about wrecking the city. And all the while, it's still stuck to Kunō's head.
- King, the lion cub from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, sometimes rides atop his mistress' head.
- Air Gear: Granted it doesn't appear very often, but the small crow Kuu actually LIVES, as in its nest is in the main character's hair in earlier chapters of manga. Ridiculously used in the anime, as the crow was there so that he could become the Scenery Censor.
- Ah! My Goddess: In a moment of drunkenly excessive pity, Belldandy teleports a homeless cat to a place of safety and comfort: the temple complex, where it materializes atop Urd's head. It is still riding her head a few minutes later when Urd takes a phone call from Keiichi.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Reborn's partner, Leon the chameleon, rides on the side of Reborn's hat; in fact, all arcobaleno have animal partners, some of which ride on their heads. Also, Kyoya Hibari has his little bird Hibird riding either there or on his shoulder.
- The pet shop owner in Cowboy Bebop episode "Stray Dog Strut" wears a turtle on her head.
- Tegami Bachi has a pet monster named Steak who is often seen on Niche's head. Has also been used as bait and (almost cooked) as emergency food.
- Shakugan no Shana: She may not really qualify as a pet, but we really can't forget that Shana-tan lives on Yuji's head.
- Sometimes, in Soul Eater, the Magical Cat Girl Blair stays on Maka's head (while in her cat-form, of course)
- Hanamaru Kindergarten offers a human variation, where kindergartener Anzu will scramble up her teacher Tsuchida's body and sit on his shoulders. Naturally, it's adorable.
- The Idolmaster: Hamzou seems fond of staying on either Hibiki's head or shoulder.
- Used twice in Fred Perry's Gold Digger comics.
- In X-Club, a telepathic starfish "bonds" to Doctor Nemesis' head. Nemesis wants to get rid of it because the starfish is also broadcasting all of his thoughts, revealing, among other things, that he actually likes his co-workers.
- Cap'n Eddie's cat in Non Sequitur appears to have been planted on its owner since Woodstock.
- FoxTrot: Jason Fox often carries his pet iguana, Quincy, on his head.
- Given the title character of Kyon: Big Damn Hero is the resident Deadpan Snarker and he and Team Pet Achakura are currently taking care of each other, this was inevitable.
- In the Fuku Fic Bishonen Senshi Sailor Moon, Luna becomes one of these to Ranma in an effort to convince him she is really a squirrel (long story, don't ask).
Films — Animation
- Remy the Rat in Ratatouille certainly would not consider himself a pet, but he still rides Linguini's head while taking advantage of the fact that the human's toque (cook's hat) can easily hide him.
- Pascal the chameleon in Tangled.
- Subverted with the evil Gonchong of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. Sure, this arachnid creature likes to ride on top of the head of humanoids... but to skewer it with a long proboscis that takes control of the brain.
- There's an old joke involving a bartender hearing someone coming in and ordering a drink. He turns to see a man with a frog on his head. The bartender says, "Huh, that's odd" to which the frog replies, "I know! I wake up this morning and I've got a human stuck to my ass."
- A variant on the theme features a person, usually a pirate, walking into a bar with a parrot or other piratical pet on their head. The bartender says, "Hey, that's pretty neat, where'd you find him?" "Tortuga," the parrot replies, "They're all over the place!"
- There's another about a fellow who pours the last little bit of his beer into his hat. The bartender asks why, and he is rudely ordered to mind his own business. Then a (completely smashed) mouse surfaces and informs him the same goes for his cat.
- The Duck Man, first seen in Soul Music. Slightly averted in that he has no idea he has a duck on his head, and is confused that everyone around him always seems to be talking about some duck somewhere. "Isn't it time to feed your duck?" "What duck?"
- Not unlike a costume Rincewind wears in Unseen Academicals, in which the other wizards chase him around the campus in one of UU's inexplicable traditions. In that case, the duck is a wooden fake.
- In Wintersmith, Granny Weatherwax carries her kitten You under her witch hat to keep her head warm—or so she says.
- In Wyrd Sisters, Greebo once pounced on the Fool's head, found he couldn't claw through the chain-mail protective wrapping the man was wearing (just because he's a Fool, doesn't mean he's stupid), and wound up clinging to the mail all the way out of the castle and into the woods.
- While passing for traveling entertainers in Jingo, Lord Vetinari uses sleight-of-hand to make a baby chicken appear under Sgt. Colon's fez. An unhousebroken chick, as it happens.
- Just before the final battle in Sabriel, Mogget decides to perch on top of Touchstone because they're wading through water.
- The native habitat of Baby Fuzzy in H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy.
- Niles' pet cockatoo, Baby, on Frasier. One episode in particular centers around him unable to remove her from his scalp at a party, after she digs her claws in after being spooked by the doorbell and the fireplace.
- The Tonight Show
- A pygmy marmoset once climbed up onto Johny Carson's head. It wasn't a pet, and didn't stay there long, yet it earned a place in countless blooper-reels and retrospectives by doing, while it was up there, something which actual pet monkeys are diapered to prevent.
- Years later, both Jay Leno and his zookeeper guest had scarlet ibises invoke this trope on their heads. Luckily, the birds refrained from also invoking Urine Trouble.
- Tragically subverted on Las Vegas, when a guest's pet rat got lost in the hotel's ventilation system, found its way to an open wall vent, and attempted to climb down onto the nearest person's head. The head's owner panicked, grabbed the rat, and threw it fatally against a wall.
- A rather non-comedic version appears late in Kamen Rider Double, where we learn that the Terror Dopant's giant headdress can "split off" into a gigantic monster called the Terror Dragon, which badly injures Kamen Rider Accel. Okay, maybe it's a little comedic, simply because the dragon has a goofy, "Chinese New Year parade float" appearance to it.
- Not shown, but one of the interns on Bones confessed to having stolen Brennan's iguana and worn it on his head to a party.
- Weird Al's 2003 album Poodle Hat. The dog's name is Bela, and provides a bark for "Genius in France".
- From Dungeons & Dragons, the description of the pseudodragon from the Monstrous Manual specifies that it likes to ride on the head of its humanoid companions.
- The Pokémon Swablu is said to do this in its Pokédex entries.
- Dr. Kleiner's pet headcrab Lamarr in Half-Life 2 seems to like resting on people's heads. Admittedly, it's trying to puncture their skull and take over their nervous system, but it's been defanged so nobody... well, Kleiner doesn't mind. Nobody else likes Lamarr.
- Several of Maple Story's Cash Shop hats take the form of pets that sleep on the wearer's head.
- Gaia Online
- Similarly, Gaia Online has several pets that can be equipped onto the user's avatar. Invariably, one of the poses will be the pet perched on the avatar's head.
- And The Merch includes plush versions of the pets which come with places to attach headbands so that you can wear them on your head.
- Predating it all, of course, Ragnarok Online pretty much has a whole class of headgears that qualify as head pets. Cats, rabbits, dogs, even the series' own homonculi...
- In Ape Escape 2, Pipochi rests on Jimmy's head when he stands still.
- Margarita's frog Surely from Grim Grimoire.
- In Title Defense mode of the Wii Punch-Out!!, Bear Hugger acquires a pet squirrel, who spends the fight under his black stocking cap. Which leads to the priceless sight of Bear Hugger lifting the cap, the squirrel coming out, as he yells "Hat trick!"
- Nagino Ise from Shikigami no Shiro fights with a bunny on her head (the bunny also wears an aviator helmet).
- A weird variant in Final Fantasy VII: Cait Sith is a small cat who rides on top of a giant Moogle. However, it's the moogle that doesn't say or do anything, and is only used by Cait Sith to move around and attack. Of course, neither one is really a pet—they're both toys that are remotely controlled by someone else entirely.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Sazh Katzroy has a baby chocobo living in his 'fro.
- Knights in The Nightmare
- Vienya's raven familiar Moja is always found perched on her head when not flying.
- Moja and Vienna also toy with the formula in that Vienna is mute, and only 'thinks' her statements, while Moja loudly voices them.
- In Dragon Quest VII, the main character has a little lizard on his head in the artwork. It is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the game proper.
- In Cave Story, during the Fetch Quest to retrieve Jenka's puppies, you carry the dogs on your head. Presumably because you need both hands free to use your guns.
- In Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness, Denny the fisherman has his pet bird, Kuu. Official art has Kuu on Denny's arm. Denny's game sprite has Kuu firmly on Denny's head. On Denny's dialog portraits, Kuu switches between his head and both shoulders.
- Litchi's miniature panda Lao Jiu in BlazBlue spends most of his time living in her hair as a hair clip. He's also Litchi's means of tapping into the power of the Boundary and, by proxy, the cause of her degeneration due to that.
- The plot of Jabless Adventure is set off by a squid named Squiddy perching on Jables's head, and informing the boy that he's The Hero. Squiddy remains on Jables's head for the rest of the game.
- Team Fortress 2
- The Minecraft mod Mo' Creatures includes bunnies that will hop onto the player character's head if the player character approaches them.
- Pirozhki from Kanon is referenced by the cat's namesake in Megatokyo.
- Also led to the scene depicted above from Mac Hall. Specifically it came from a Real Life event where during a convention, someone covertly placed a stuffed cat that resembled Pirozhki on Ian McConville's head and he went about for good amount of time completely oblivious to it.
- In The Chapel Chronicles, Chapel's pet hedgehog, Rupert, occasionally is perched atop Chapel's big head of hair, such as Hedgehog Constitutional.
- In the completely un-notable webcomic Dreamaniac, Jake's imaginary friend Whippy has a tendency to cling to his hair. Occasionally moves to arm or shoulder.
- Happened at least once with Jeremy on Susan in El Goonish Shive. But maybe only in Filler Strips. That panel was a visual echo of Kamineko's appearance on Sakaki-san's head during the Azumanga Daioh opening sequence, which might be a Shout-Out or just a visual influence.
- In Kagerou, Kano contracts headfoxes.
- Spo from Housepets, who is sometimes found right on Fido's head.
- Dust Puppy from User Friendly, in the September 30, 2009 strip, is standing on Pitr's head while they're talking.
- A giant moth in this Gone With the Blastwave page.
- The protagonist of Real Life Fiction has a squirrel on top of her head about all the time. Though it once becomes a scorpion-squirrel because of "drow-siness".
- In Nerf Now, Heavy Weapons Guy wears Baby Medic as a hat while delivering a message as a Scout. She seems perfectly happy with the arrangement.
- On Page 701 of The Phoenix Requiem, a chicken appears on Petria's head for no discernable reason, and only for one panel. One can only speculate as to what was on AA's mind when she drew that...
- Scandinavia and The World
- Sister America has a pet chihuahua that sits on her head and has a perpetually confused expression.
- Brother America usually has Canada on his head.
- Norway sometimes puts an apparently living fish on his.
- In Beyond the Canopy, Glenn acquires a crab on his head during his fight against the Caped Crustacean. He names him Orson Shelles.
- In Murphy's Law, Serrin's familiar, a cat named Fir, often rides on her head.
- In Our Little Adventure, Angelika's rat Familiar Norveg does this sometimes, though Angelika hates it. Norveg usually does it to escape things that want to eat him on the ground.
- In The Order of the Stick, Mr. Scruffy (Belkar's animal companion) has taken residence atop the enslaved Yukyuk's head and is using him as steed while the kobold is dominated. This is no doubt a comeuppance from Yukyuk's previous attempt to kill the cat.
- The Wasp Eaters in Girl Genius tend to climb on top of any human they "adopt".
- Momo on Avatar: The Last Airbender, seen here [dead link] and here [dead link].
- Invader Zim
- Perhaps parodied in one episode, where Zim's robot henchman GIR is shown to have a fondness for sleeping on its master's head. Zim does not appreciate this.
Zim: You have head pigeons.
- GIR also spends half an episode clinging onto the back of Dib's head as a "tracking device".
- Yugo's pet bird Az sometimes perches on the boy's Nice Hat.
- Some Sadidas have a whole bird nest, complete with birds and chicks, atop their furry heads.
- Ching from Pucca is seldom seen without her pet chicken, Won, perched just over her bangs. She even gets into epic swordfights with Won seemingly undisturbed.
- In one episode of Willa's Wild Life, Willa has one of her rabbits sit on her head, to hide her bad hair during picture day.
- Most pet parrots. They're tree-dwellers, so they like to be as high up as they can. You may not like it, since they're usually not housebroken...
- Birds cannot be housebroken. Since they're designed to drop excess weight in flight, they don't have the anatomy to hold back.
- It's possible to train them to go back to their cage when they need to eliminate, but it's still not a sure-fire policy. The bird always runs the risk of not leaving your head soon enough.
- It should also be pointed out to those not terribly informed about birds that you should NOT allow a bird to sit on your head, as it places them above you, which in bird hierarchy means they're leader-bird (for lack of a better term). Shoulders are usually fine, though.
- Actually according to recent studies, even the shoulders can be a bad idea. As most people can't see the bird really well at all times, the bird has to hold itself up if it gets off balance. This means that it will use it's beak which can lead to big bites on your shoulders and neck where some major danger spots are. There are some stories of people nearly bleeding to death because of bird bites of this nature.
- Many pet rats also like to sit on their owners' heads. Rats, however, can be housebroken.
- Like the parrots above, iguanas also like to climb as high as possible and can end up on top of their owner's head.
- More Truth in Television: this man and his cat.
- Another case of Truth in Television, this time with a chihuahua.
- Any decent-sized zoo souvenir shop is bound to have racks of baseball caps with stuffed animals attached to their tops, emulating this trope.
- A girl and her cat have made it part of their nightly routine.
- Subverted in the classic Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat magic trick, as the rabbit is actually hidden beneath the table, not inside the hat.
- World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle reported the story of an American officer in North Africa who let a big lizard—eighteen inches from nose to tailtip—crawl up his arm to perch on his head. He spent the next three hours, including some thirty miles motorcycling, with this lizard riding his head, freaking out most people who saw it.
- Some 18th century women's wigs were so very elaborate, they actually incorporated tiny birdcages in which small finches or canaries could be kept.