The 25 best genre hairstyles of the past 25 years

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Sep 29, 2017, 3:00 PM EDT

September 2017 is SYFY's 25th anniversary, so we’re using it as an excuse to look back and celebrate the last 25 years of ALL science fiction, fantasy, and horror, a time that has seen the genres we love conquer the world of pop culture. For us, that means lists! ALL THE LISTS! We’ll be doing two “25 greatest” lists per day all throughout September, looking back at the moments, people, and characters that shaped the last quarter century. So keep checking back.

Please note: Our lists are not ranked; all items have equal standing in our brains.

What items in our lists were your favorites? Did we miss something? We welcome respectful debate and discussion, so please let us know in the comments!

Since their beginning, science fiction, fantasy, and horror have allowed humankind to confront issues that concern us all -- issues of human nature, of fate and God, of the great answer to life, the universe, and everything (42, natch) -- through the lens of the unfamiliar. Unfamiliar settings, unfamiliar characters, unfamiliar circumstances, and (more important than all of those things) unfamiliar hair.

Why, what did you think I was going to say?

Over the last 25 years, genre has given us some great updos. These are 25 of the best. And, er, sometimes worst. You know, let's split the difference and settle on "most unusual."


Josuke - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

"Bizarre" sure is one word for the vaguely Starship Enterprise-esque hairstyle rocked by one Josuke Higashikata in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, about the multi-generational adventures of the superpowered Joestar family. Hirohiko Araki's manga series is enormously popular, having spanned anime adaptations, video games, novels, and a recent-live action film from the famed Takashi Miike (13 Assassins). Yes, in case you were wondering, Miike kept the weird hair. There's a lot of it.

Original 1992 Sailor Moon Transformation

Sailor Moon

When it comes to hair buns, the genre OG is obviously Princess Leia... but hot on her heels is Sailor Moon, whose signature bun-plus-ponytail style has been inspiring nerds to grow their hair out since the 1990s. Whereas Leia’s buns are more of the cinnamon variety, Sailor Moon’s fall into the odango, or Japanese sweet dumpling, category. Thus Sailor Moon’s in-universe nickname of “bunhead,” sometimes changed to “meatball head” depending on the translation. Great, now I'm hungry.

Duelist Kingdom - Every Yugi Transformation Scene

Yugi Mutou - Yi-Gi-Oh!

Some anime characters have weirdly colored hair. Some anime characters have weirdly shaped hair. Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! wants to know why all those other nerds have to be such underachievers, because why have a weird hair shape or a weird hair color when you can have both? It's nothing short of splendid. You could snap off some of those spikes and use them to roast marshmallows over a campfire.


Washu Hakubi - Tenchi Muyo

Tenchi Muyo’s Washu Hakubi is one of the most brilliant scientists to ever exist in the universe, which might explain how she was able to turn her hair into some kind of gigantic crab monster. Why should her hair have to obey the laws of physics when she doesn’t? But then, there’s another explanation: Forget it, Jake. It’s anime. Weird hair needs no explanation. Someone should photoshop Disney princesses with weird anime hair. We’ll wait.


Solty Revant - Solty Rei

Solty Revant of the anime SolRei takes the unusual anime hair game to a whole new level. Weird color: check (seafoam green, to match her eyes). Weird shape: check. And something that other characters on this list don't have: hair that moves based on her emotions. Essentially, Solty has tufts of hair that function as animal ears, perking up when she's happy and drooping when she's sad. Perfect for your friendly neighborhood android.

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo - Pineapple Custard Pudding

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo - Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo

There’s only one thing better than Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo’s name, and it is his hair, a glossy yellow gumball that really pops against his favored blue crop top. (When you have abs like that, you show them off.) Hair is a big deal in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, in which Hair Hunt troops roam around, cutting the hair of innocents. So how does Bo-bobo fight back against his enemies? Weaponized nose hair, of course.

The Force Awakens - Rey blaster scene

Rey - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

We now move from anime hair to hairstyles that are more...well, let’s say, sedate, i.e. more achievable by real human people with real human hair. Top to toe, The Force Awakens’ Rey has proven a massively inspirational character, particularly for little girls with dreams of one day fighting back against great injustice. Her hairdo, a trio of ponytail/bun hybrids framed by some wispy fringe, is at once distinctive and easy to pull off. It’s not as iconic as Leia’s cinnamon bun look, but it’s much easier to wear on Halloween.

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory - Wonka's Welcome Song

Willy Wonka - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

When Tim Burton put his distinctive stamp on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in his 2005 movie of the same name, he gave candy impresario (and low-key torturer of children) Willy Wonka some traits that he didn't have in Mel Stuart's more famous 1971 film, in which he was played by Gene Wilder. Like, say, a backstory, a serious case of the crazy eyes (Barring the famous boat scene, Wilder tended to be more subtle than Depp in depicting the more disturbing side of Wonka's personality), and, oh yeah, a pageboy haircut that's impossible to look at without thinking "Berries and cream! Berries and cream!"

Riddick (2013) - Vaako's promises of Furya

Vaako - The Chronicles of Riddick

As Eomer, Karl Urban boasted long, luxurious blonde locks in the last two films of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was inevitable that karma would catch up with him, but...not like this. Not like this. In his first post-Rings credit, The Chronicles of Riddick, Urban sports a greasy mullet with miniature dreads hanging down the back. One question: What did Karl Urban do to tick off franchise star and producer Vin Diesel? Did he refuse to join Diesel and co-star Judi Dench in a friendly game of Dungeons & Dragons (Diesel, a D&D enthusiast, famously introduced Dench to the game on-set)? Did Diesel’s jealousy towards Urban’s full, beautiful head of hair cause him to strike out in petty vengeance? Whatever it was, Karl, play nicer next time. Nothing is worth this.


Dracula - Bram Stoker's Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, packs a whole lot of style into two hours and eight minutes. A lot of that is due to the elaborate, inventive costumes, designed by the legendary Eiko Ishioka. But a good costume needs a good hairdo. Gary Oldman, playing Dracula, got the very best hairdo there is in what we at SYFY WIRE affectionally refer to as the "ass bun head" look. It's only slightly less embarrassing than Keanu Reeves' attempts at an English accent.


Seymour Guado - Final Fantasy X

The Final Fantasy series has no shortage of over-the-top hairstyles - Kefka Palazzo’s clown-inspired coif, Ultimecia’s bull horns, and spikes, spikes, spikes for days - but nothing can quite beat Seymour Guado’s gravity-defying updo. It’s a blue… spiked… mullet? With what honest-to-God looks like a scythe made of out of hair emerging from each temple. The spike running down the entire length of his head really takes the cake. Does it not bug you, S my man, seeing that right smack dab in the middle of your center of vision all day? Though I guess, compared to all the Aqua Net fumes he must be inhaling, a little obscured vision isn't much.


Jon Snow - Game of Thrones

You know nothing, Jon Snow… except, apparently, how to condition, because those are some luscious curls! It's nice to know that in between fighting ice zombies, getting murdered, and accidentally sexing up his aunt (whoops), Jon takes some time for proper hair maintenance. What's your secret, Jon? Aside from your hidden Targaryen lineage, that is. Do you prefer a gel or a cream? A serum? You been taking hair care tips from the Wildlings?


Padmé Amidala - Star Wars

It’s hard to pick one Queen Amidala hairdo to single out, here… so we won’t. From the cylindrical megabun to the McDonald’s arches (pictured) to that time her hair, like Red Bull, gave her wings, they’re all blessedly weird. The fact that between them the prequels only got one Oscar nomination for Best Hair and Makeup is, frankly, ridiculous, though one supposes the nominating committee may have been thrown off by the Padawans’ manky rattails.



In this November's Justice League, Aquaman gets a grungy makeover courtesy of actor Jason Momoa, who imbues the character with a tattooed, muscleman vibe. But this won't be the first time the king of the seas took a level in badass, at least concerning his aesthetic. In the '90s, Aquaman got the long hair, the beard, and the bulky build of an exxxtreme superhero edgelord. Oh, and he had a harpoon for a hand, because why wouldn't you?

Garnet's Anime Training Montage I Steven Universe I Cartoon Network

Garnet - Steven Universe

Garnet’s hair has changed a bit over Steven Universe's run, depending on who draws her. Sometimes, the dent in the middle of her hair is more pronounced, whereas, other times she’s basically rocking a cube. Regardless of minor details, one thing you can’t say about Garnet’s bold, stylish coif is that it’s…. square. Sorry. I’ll see myself out.


Cynthia - Rugrats

Angelica Pickles, as anyone who watched Nickelodeon in the ‘90s knows, is a grade-A terror from Hell. Spoiled, tyrannical, and just plain mean, she was rarely one to play nice with her cousin Tommy and his toddler clan… but no one received the brunt of Angelica’s wrath more than her beloved Barbie stand-in, Cynthia (“She’s a really cool dancer!”). Look at that poor doll’s hair! I need a Child’s Play spinoff in which, years down the line, an embittered Cynthia finally wreaks her bloody vengeance. It’d be brutal, too. Look at her. She's got the whole punk vibe on lockdown.

Mama (10/10) Movie CLIP - The Ending (2013) HD

Mama - Mama

(Clip contains spoilers for the end of Mama.)

Not to get into spoilers here, but Mama — the eponymous baddie at the center of Andy Muschietti’s 2013 debut film — isn’t your typical supernatural movie monster. So, it makes sense that she wouldn’t have typical hair. Instead, her long, grey locks flow as if underwater, looking at once creepy and oddly beautiful. The hair was CGI tacked onto the body of Mama actor Javier Botet, a seven-foot fall contortionist who would later play Pennywise’s leper incarnation in Muschietti’s It.


Effie Trinket - The Hunger Games

In the Hunger Games series, Capitol fashion represents everything gaudy, gauche, and over-the-top, a symbol of superficiality and excess. And it is all that... but it's also fun to look at, especially when worn by the ever-bubbly Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). Trinket sports an assortment of technicolor looks over the series--a stint in less-fashionable District 13 aside -- and each outfit is paired with a coordinating wig. Does this look like a glitzy, haute couture version of the Dracula bun head look (see above) to anyone else?

Ruby Rhod, The Fifth Element

Ruby Rhod - The Fifth Element

Say it with me now: Ruby Rhod's hair in The Fifth Element is hotter than hot. It's hot, hot, HOOOOT. He's like a brilliant space unicorn. The Fifth Element has a lot of other great hairstyles--Leelo's bright orange, quasi-dreadlocked hair is the most iconic, and Gary Oldman's Zorg gets whatever the heck you'd call this -- but Ruby Rhod's is the only 'do in which you could store some snacks in a pinch.


Londo - Babylon 5

Next time you go and get a haircut, show your stylist this picture and tell them you want "the Londo," because you've heard looking like you walked backwards through a wind tunnel is going to be a really big look in 2018. Bonus: you can probably pick up a television station or two. And you'll save money on your Halloween costume, because as long as you sport the Londo you're already 80% of the way to a pitch-perfect "Aliens!" costume.

Merida wins her own hand by skill of archery in "Brave"

Merida - Brave

The great thing about Merida’s wild red ‘do from Brave isn’t just that it’s aspirational for everyone who’s ever had visions of stomping around the Scottish Highlands, bow and arrow in hand. It also represents a technological innovation from the animation wizards at Pixar, who had to design a new CG hair simulator to accomplish a level of follicular detail never before seen in animation. Per Wired, the simulator “forms individual coils around computer-generated cylinders of varying lengths and diameters. The resulting locks stretch out when Merida runs but snap back into place as soon as she stops. Each strand is also strung through with a flexible ‘core curve,’ like the string of a beaded necklace, that lets the coils bounce and brush against one another without unwinding.”

Gandalf vs Saruman HD || Fight Scene from The Fellowship of the Ring

Saruman - The Lord of the Rings

A partial list of modern hair care items the denizens of Middle-earth do not have access to: flat irons, protective spray for said flat irons, blow dryers, dry shampoo, sulfate-free conditioner. Yet someway, somehow, someone figured a haircare routine that leaves Saruman's hair bereft of a single flyaway. It's not natural. As someone who's fought the frizz her whole life, I can say that if I were a wizard, getting Saruman's long, sleek hair is exactly what I'd spend my powers on. He can keep the beard, though.


John Travolta - Battlefield Earth

You've probably been scanning down this list wondering, "Wait... where is John Travolta's hair from Battlefield Earth?" Here it is, babes. We decided to put it late in the slideshow because, frankly, after seeing Vincent Vega's space dreads, a lot of the other hairstyles on this list look positively pedestrian. It's not that it's the weirdest look, per se. Unlike Seymour Guado's Final Fantasy X hair, for example, Travolta's obeys the laws of physics. It's basically dreads and an extra large Bumpit. What makes this hairstyle so perversely entertaining is the fact that it's worn by an A-list star (this was 2000, remember) who appeared to have no idea how goofy it looks. Everything about Battlefield Earth, Travolta's paean to Scientology, is just so damn earnest, this hairdo included. And Forest Whitaker got saddled with it, too. You owe that man a lifetime supply of beer, John.


Valentine - The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones took one look at Karl Urban’s hair in The Chronicles of Riddick and decided “Hmm, yes, I’m going to do that.” The poor actor who got saddled with Vaako’s unfortunate mullet-rattail (braided, this time!) combo was Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, playing the Shadowhunter Valentine Morgenstern. City of Bones was supposed to be the first in a series of adaptations of Cassandra Clare’s popular Mortal Instruments books; obviously, the potential franchise didn’t really pan out, though it got a mulligan in the form of a TV show on Freeform. I’m not saying the movie flopped because of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ hair... I’m just saying it deserved to flop because of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ hair (For the record, Valentine on the show is bald).

Samara Comes to You - The Ring (8/8) Movie CLIP (2002) HD

Samara - The Ring

It takes a bold sort of supernatural murderer to rock Samara’s hairstyle. With her long, black hair swept forward so that it entirely obscures her face… she can’t see, right? Like, at all? It’s the emo bang taken up to 11. It's creepy, sure, but she must bump into so much furniture when the camera’s not rolling. Luckily, anyone who sees her trip over a rogue ottoman dies shortly thereafter.

These were OUR choices from the last 25 years. What are yours? Let us know in the comments which of these incredible hair-do's you’d put on your list.

And be sure to check out our complete “25 Greatest” lists here!