By Methos 59 Comments
Love Interests have always been Colour Coded For Your Convenience. Traditionally, the hero's significant other would usually be a blonde, to contrast with the brunette Vamp or Femme Fatale. But today, the passive Distressed Damsel and Shallow Love Interest have been replaced by the sassy, bold, brash, sharp-tongued Action Girl and Well Excuse Me Princess, easily compatible with the "spunky Fiery Redhead" stereotype.
Considering that less than 1% of the world's population have red hair (largely confined to the Anglo-Irish sphere, and even there only tops at Scotland's 13% of the population), there is a disproportionate number of red-haired female characters out there, and an inordinate number of them are The Hero's winning Love Interest. (On top of that, she is also inordinately likely to have green eyes to go with it.)
One possible source is Robert A Heinlein's fondness for hypercapable redhaired heroines (he had a red-haired wife).
In European comics, the high proportion of redheads among the main protagonists has been explained by some authors by the simple fact that, since redheads are rare, they're easier to spot in the panels, especially true for crowd scenes.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the (relatively) high proportion of Irish redheads, this trope does not seem to exist in Ireland. Redheaded female leads do appear of course, but they are heavily outnumbered by blondes and brunettes. This may be that unlike almost everywhere else red hair is not really seen as 'exotic' in Ireland as blondes are.
It's entirely possible that sometimes the red hair is symbolic of love and romantic desire, making the identification of the hero's love interest at least sub-conscious.There are some cases where the redhead actually is the hero. This is the result of an Evolving Trope. (Maybe. Red-headed male heroes are as old as Thor.)
- Subverted in anime in general, where there are more brunette heroines because there are just more brunettes in general, especially among the females.
- Asuka Langley Soryuu of Neon Genesis Evangelion, though it is extremely debatable whether or not Shinji acually loved Asuka as much as he needed her by the end.
- This may be one of the reasons Ash of Pokemon is so frequently paired with the redheaded Misty.
- In the manga adaption of the Kanto season,Ash definatly likes Misty.
- Tsukimiya Ayu of Kanon.
- Apricot Sakuraba of the Galaxy Angel II series.
- Princess Sakura in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, who has red-tinted hair in the manga, but is something between a brunette and a bleached blonde in the anime.
- In the Tsubasa OVA entitled The Magician's Message, Princess Sakura is a pure redhead. However, the OVA animators were not the same animators who did the previously mentioned Tsubasa anime.
- Kaito Doumoto from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is a male example.
- Kushina Uzumaki, Naruto's mother and, to a slightly lesser extent, Naruto's pink-haired friend and potential love interest Sakura.
- Lucy/Nyu/Kaede from Elfen Lied, though her hair is technically hot pink...
- Magic Knight Rayearth Both Lantis and Eagle want Red Headed Heroine Hikaru.
- Originally, Tatewaki Kuno from Ranma 1/2 calls female Ranma "The Pigtailed Girl." In the Latin American dub, however, he calls her "Flame-Haired Girl," in consideration of that much, much more noticeable trait.
- To be fair, 'Pig-tailed Girl' was originally used in the manga, where Ranma had black hair in both forms.
- Ai Tanabe from Planetes is a redhead.
- Lina Inverse of the Slayers universe. Gourry chose her over his black-haired Unlucky Childhood Friend Sylphiel, after all.
- Chiharu Shinonome from Eiken is male protagonist Densuke Mifune's crush the entire series. Everone else in her family is a redhead too.
- Male subversion in Fushigi Yuugi: When given the chance, the heroine Miaka chose the black-haired Tamahome over the redheaded Tasuki in the OAV's. Though to be honest, Tasuki had it lost from the start...
- Yoko of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann garnered interest from at least three heroic men. Though the true protagonist, Simon, ends up seeing her as more of an older sister/good friend character and pairs up with Nia, whose hair is...well, Anime Hair.
- Karen Stadtfeld from Code Geass. Even Anti Heroes want her. And she's a Tsundere, to boot.
- There's also Shirley, whose hair's a more realistic orange color, and Euphemia, whose hair's a less realistic pink. For a Celibate Hero, Lelouch certainly wants a lot of girls.
- Maruko from Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is arguably a subversion of this trope, as she's somewhat off-putting towards some of the characters (including the main character) and it may be partially the author's intention to convey that to the audience. Quite a bit of the audience isn't listening though, and as far as they're concerned she's a straight-up trope example.
- Mobile Suit Gundam has a few examples. Amuro's Unlucky Childhood Friend Frau Bow has reddish-brown hair and Lt. Matilda is a full-on redhead who is lusted after by every male member of the White Base crew. Then there's Margaret Blair, Char's love interest in the 3rd volume of the novelization. The fact that she's a chubby, Girl Next Door type secretary who manages to bed an Ace Pilot whose other love interests have all been mysterious, waifish girls with tragic pasts is a testament to the awesome power of the trope.
- Let¡'s not forget Lady Of War Haman Khan, who also was one of Char's love interests as well as a redhead... and later becomes one of Judau's love interests in Gundam ZZ.
- Flay Allster of Gundam SEED may have been the Scrappy, but Kira had a crush on her at the beginning of the series.
- Mikuru Asahina, the Moe-blob in Suzumiya Haruhi has reddish brown hair (or brownish red hair? orange? we may never know) and might be Haruhi's closest competition for Kyon's heart. Not 100% love intrest, but Kyon is still very fond of her and she triggered Haruhi's second unconscious universe warping when she thought Mikuru and Kyon were too close.
- Not to forget,Haruhi definatly a thing for Mikuru. Proven in Snow Mountain Syndrome,where it is highly suggested that the "clones" that appeared are of the people that that person are attracted to. Mikuru and Kyon appeared for Haruhi.
- The main Official Couple in Brain Powerd is Yuu and Hime... and Hime is a red-haired Tsundere!
- Les Yay example in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS with Teana, who Subaru isn't shy about expressing her affection for, much to Teana's embarassment.
- It pains this non-shipper One Piece fan to admit it...but even though Oda said no romance, it's kinda hard to deny Luffy, um, does indeed ''want'' Nami... so this could be considered a non-romantic variation of this trope.
- Lead character Izumi Noa of Patlabor becomes a redhead about three seconds into the OVA opening animation. Apparently they'd already started animating, then decided that she needed to be more visually distinctive.
- Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin is also a redhead- despite his Japanese origins. He's pursued by both Kaoru and Megumi. The first wins
- Keitaro Urashima of Love Hina has the red-headed Naru Narusegawa (among others), although he's not much of a hero. Initially.
- In Bleach, Orihime. Ichigo might also be a male version if you look at it right.
- Mary Jane Watson, love interest of Spider-Man. She beat even the writers' choice of the blonde Gwen Stacy (though the fact that the latter, ah, stopped walking among the living, probably helped).
- Marvel seems particularly fond of redheads. Notably, Cyclops' One True Love is (redhead) Jean Grey; the first time he thought she was dead his new girlfriend was (redhead) Colleen Wing, and when Jean died again he went and married her (obviously redhead) clone Madelyne Pryor. Meanwhile, Wolverine's fixation on Jean Grey is apparently the latest in a long line of redheads going back to his childhood, where his first love Rose was a dead-ringer for Jean, and Deadpool has (or at least had) a thing for the red-headed Siryn.
- King Mob of The Invisibles ends up in a relationship with the red-haired Ragged Robin.
- Becky Burdock, Vampire Reporter, is the potential love interest for Jack Staff. She's clearly stated to be a redhead, even though the comic is in black and white.
- In addition to the characters named above, there's Batgirl/Oracle, the new Batwoman, Black Widow, Caitlin Fairchild, Dawn, Hawkwoman/Hawkgirl, Hellcat, Lana Lang, Julie Power/Lightspeed, Maxima, Lady Medusa, Mystique (in her blue-skinned form), Red Sonja, Siryn, the second Spider-Woman, Tigra, Jim Balent's Tarot et cetera and so on.
- When Yvonne Craig portrayed Batgirl on the old Adam West live-action series, Barbara Gordon had short-cropped brunette hair. Batgirl's long red tresses were part of her cowl, one of the best identity-concealing tricks I've seen, and one I wish they'd kept for the comics.
- Wally West is one of the rare male redheads in Superhero comics. When he was running around with an open-topped cowl as Kid Flash, he dyed his hair brown (at super-speed), because, for once, red hair was acknowledged as being Unusual And Distinctive.
- Cheryl Blossom, who steals Archie's heart from Betty and Veronica.
- Aquaman's on-again, off-again wife, Mera. (Note that white-haired Dolphin didn't last too long as his beau, and was eventually paired off with Tempest, formerly Aqualad.)
- Looker of the '80s and '90s Outsiders was portrayed as highly attractive and desirable, even when she didn't literally hypnotize bad guys into doing her bidding.
- Another male example, Green Arrow's sidekick, Roy Harper (formerly known as "Speedy" and "Arsenal", now called "Red Arrow"), has always been a ladies' man.
- Parodied in Powers; when a philandering superhero is found dead in bed as a result of bedroom-related complications, the police find a little black book with all of the women he tried it on with, and have to go and interview all of them. Every single one of them is a redhead.
- Well, he dyes it, but I like to think Midnighter counts.
- The marvellous, much sought after Mina of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Dracula fame is a redhead.
- Liz Sherman from Hellboy has deep auburn hair in the comics, which seems to match her abilities (pyrokinesis). Perhaps subverting the trope, in the comics she isn't a love interest, however in the movies she is and her hair changes from red to brunette.
- Despite having a great many "sweethearts", Conan The Barbarian seemed to always hold a special place in his heart for Red Sonja, to the point of being ready to abandon his wife, children and throne to go adventuring with her in Conan The King #28.
- James Bond has slept with four redheads. And only killed one of them!
- Though, given the number of girls he's slept with overall, this is probably just a matter of statistical chance rather than personal preference. In fact, Connery's Bond stated in Diamonds Are Forever that he did really like redheads. Other Bonds' opinions on the matter are unknown.
- In Diamonds Are Forever, when Bond first meets Tiffany Case, she moves back and forth between rooms changing wigs and hair colors each time. Bond expressed his approval of each one except the red one, which prompts a comment on redhead temper. That one is not a wig.
- More than one filmgoer has vowed never to forgive Quantum Of Solace for killing off Miss Fields.
- Kirsten Dunst and Gwyneth Paltrow both dyed their hair to play the crimson-tressed love interests in Spider-Man (Mary Jane) and Iron Man (Pepper).
- Ironically, redheaded Bryce Dallas Howard dyed her hair blond for Spider-Man 3.
- Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
- The Quiet Man: John Wayne's love interest? The quintessential redhead, Maureen O'Hara.
- Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
- Giselle from Enchanted. The actress dyed her hair from blonde to red for the role, and later stated in interviews that she had decided to keep it red because she got "more respect" (and presumably more positive male attention, making this Truth In Television.)
Live Action TV
- Hiro Nakamura from Heroes got a subplot with a red-headed diner waitress named Charlie.
- All four of Gibbs' ex-wives from NCIS are redheads. Then again, they are ex-wives (except for the one who was killed while they were married). He's also had an affair with his current (redheaded) boss and is dating a redheaded Army investigator. Jethro is da man.
- And everyone else recognizes it. When he first met said investigator, the other team members noted the growing attraction and pointed out the red hair as proof it was inevitable.
- Not hereditary- his father had Betty Grable painted on the nose of his P-51.
- Fans of Lost are counting down the episodes until the redheaded Hot Scientist Charlotte hooks up with Daniel. Come on, you know it's going to happen!
- Unfortunately, after her Defrosting Ice Queen moment...
- In Doctor Who, many fans posit that the Fourth Doctor "danced" with Romana. Romana II was somewhere between a redhead and a blonde. Then again, she was a Time Lord. In The Movie, Grace Holloway is also a redhead, and human.
- Averted in the most recent season with Donna's repeated refusal to have anything to do sexually with the Doctor. "You're not mating with me, sunshine!"
- The Tenth Doctor wanted to be a redhead. ...Oh, wait.
- Lucy of I Love Lucy. A redhead on black-and-white TV.
- Scully of The X-Files. Scully's redhair became a tradmark for the show, as did the UST between Mulder and Scully.
- A flashback episode of Angel had a character bringing this up, mentioning the trope.
- The American version of The Office has Pam Beasley, Jim Halpert's One True Love.
- Inverted with Charlie on Ugly Betty.
- On Smallville, Lionel Luthor has shown an attraction to redheads, his wife, mistress and Martha Kent all have or had red hair.
- Swingtown: everyone and I do mean everyone wants Susan.
- Notably avoided in Mad Men; the hero dates brunettes, married a blonde, and is the only (straight) man on Earth who's apparently oblivious to Joan Holloway (played by the...voluptuous Christina Hendricks), one of the greater redheads of this or any time.
- In an episode of The Bill, DC Banks and DC Webb have a tough interview with a suspect, who is aided by a red-haired solicitor. Webb comments he'd like to sleep with her. It's established that Banks does sleep with her- she's his wife, using her maiden name for work.
- Red of Fraggle Rock would be a case of "red heads want heroes."
- President Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica is a redhead and has no shortage of male admirers in spite of her age, health, and position. She is also a change for partner Bill Adama, whose previous interests in flashbacks have been blondes.
- This troper believes that Roslin's attraction has less to do with her hair color and more to do with her truly excellent legs.
- Robin of Sherwood seems to have firmly established Maid Marian (or Marion, if you will) in the collective unconscious as a feisty redhead.
- This trope, combined with their Slap Slap Kiss dynamic, seems to point to having something happen between Jack Bauer and Agent Renee Walker.
- He's not exactly a hero, but That 70's Show had main character Eric Foreman's love interest be the red haired Donna. Forget the last few seasons where she was blonde. We all try to.
- The redheaded Princess Daisy is sometimes hinted to be Luigi's answer to Peach.
- Aika from Skies Of Arcadia, who's also in a Love Triangle.
- Leena from Chrono Cross is a seeming subversion as she had the misfortune of being Serge's Unlucky Childhood Friend, and thus loses out to the blond girl. However, the Good Ending pushes a reset button that erases Serge's memories of the blonde, and puts her back to the top of the list, until the credits roll and we learn that Serge ended up with the blond anyways.
- Metal Gear Solid did it, naturally - Snake had the lovely redheaded Meryl.
- And Johnny Sasaki, who after a massive amount of level grinding, swept her off her feet and married her in the 4th game.
- Marin from The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and possibly Malon from Ocarina of Time and Cremia from Majora's Mask as well.
- Not surprising because they're all pretty much the same person. It's a well-known fact that the cast of Majora's Mask is almost completely comprised of Ocarina of Time Expies, and the creators acknowledged that Talon and Malon were Expies of Tarin and Marin from Link's Awakening.
- As well as Midna from Twilight Princess.
- Also, though frequently forgotten thanks to her gradual blondification, Princess Zelda herself was red-haired in the original NES games. (Or should we say both Princess Zeldas, since the one in the second game was a Sleeping Beauty relative of the one from the first.) This might be more be because of the limited palette of the NES — Note that even Princess Peach was a redhead in the first Super Mario Bros. game.
- Kairi of the Kingdom Hearts series.
- Male subversion: in Fire Emblem 6: Sword of Seals: the redheaded male lord Roy can have six different possible brides (and one of them, the dancer Lalam, is a redhead as well). In the prequel, Fire Emblem 7: Blazing Swords, his also redheaded father Eliwood can have three possible girlfriends (but no redheads this time).
- Another subversion: in Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, one of Princess Eirika's four suitors is a redhead male, Seth the Silver Knight. This support/ending is also ridiculously easy and fast to get, in this troper's experience.
- And yet ANOTHER male subversion, though in a milder degree: the redhead Myrmidon Joshua gets two possible love intrests, Emotionless Girl Marisa (also a redhead!) or Staff Chick Natasha.
- Another milder male subversion, again from Fire Emblem 7? The redheaded Cavalier named Kent has three possible love intrests, the Pegasus Knight Fiora, her Tsundere sister Farina, and Action Girl heroine Lyn.
- For a traditional female version, look no further than Staff Chick / Magic Warrior Priscilla, who has three official love intrests (though she only gets to keep one of them, the others have to go) and arguably has chemistry with other two guys.
- Dahlia Hawthorne in Phoenix Wright, Phoenix's college love interest, is a redhead.
- Averted with Mieu from Phantasy Star III who's the female lead, no less. Granted she is a cyborg designed to protect the bloodline of the family the game centers on. Though it's still a bit surprising considering there's eight of them (seven male, one female) in the game.
- Mitsuru of Persona 3 is a redhead. Guess who's a potential love interest?
- Everyone female is a potential love interest. Including that eight-year old girl (although fortunately only as a Childhood Marriage Promise).
- Not exactly a hero but the main character in the Harvest Moon games has almost always a redhead as one of the potential brides to choose from.
- To be precise : Ann from SNES,her descedant also named Ann from 64. Ann appears again in Back To Nature,Friends of Mineral Town and DS(FOMT Ann's decendant).Katie in Save the Homeland(and Lyla,who has pink hair). Nami from A Wonderful Life,A Wonderful Life Special Edition and DS(AWL Nami's desendant). SNES Ann appears in Magical Melody(though,that may be her descendant),and Katie apparently moved to Flower-Bud. Melody,Lynette and Lara have pink hair(well,Lara's is almost violet),from Rune Factory 1. Chelsea,Julia and Natalie from Island Of Happiness,and Shining Sun and Friends. Cecilia from Rune Factory 2. Maya and Selena from Tree of Tranquility,and Wakuwaku Animal March.
- Don't forget the invert with "Claire",and "Jill"/"Pony". Both females have red headed love interests in Cute,Rick,Grey and Cliff(though,he's more of a brownish-red). Also,Basil and Blue in Magical Melody,for Tina.
- Elly from Xenogears is a redhead, and the love interest of the hero.
- Though the main heroine is a blond, most of the heroines of Tsukihime, and a few non-heroines as well, are redheads. Since the hero can score with any of the heroines, their overwhelming majority would make that game fit this troupe.
- Akiha, Hisui, Kohaku, Aoko; that's half of them. More, if you don't count Sion.
- Planescape Torment has two "romance" options (in quotation marks because the game doesn't really consummate the relationships). The one you can get farthest with, giving a deep and passionate kiss to, is the redhead Annah.
- Haley from Order Of The Stick.
- Jade, and later Miranda, from PVP.
- And Marcy. ALL of the regular female cast members are redheads.
- Kate, from CtrlAltDelete.
- Tycho's wife from Penny Arcade.
- Given that the wives are just their real-life wives in comic form, this is more of a Real Life example than a webcomic example.
- Dominic Deegan: Oracle For Hire: The minor characters' love interests have red hair (Pam for Gregory, Jayden for Milov/Siegfried), while the main character's girlfriend, Luna, is the traditional blonde. However, it's interesting to note the shifts in the artist's coloring from the early days, when color strips were rarer; Early pictures of Luna had redder hair (and Gregory, now a solid redhead, was fairer-haired).
- Nanase, from El Goonish Shive, is an odd example. She briefly dated the hero, before dumping him. He's dating a blonde now... And Nanase? Well, she's in a relationship with the hero's Opposite Sex Clone.
- Surma Carver from Gunnerkrigg Court: her love life prior to Antimony's birth is one of many unresolved (so far) mysteries. Annie's a Redheaded Hero herself, with too many other problems on her plate to think about romance for now.
- Anne Onymous, protagonist of The Wotch is a red head, as are a few side characters. The (blond) Jason has a huge red head fetish... so much so that he has a "Red Head Sense", also whenever he is turned into a girl (which is fairly often) he's red haired (and calls himself Sonja). Ironically, his one true love is a brunette.
- Guinevere in Arthur King Of Time And Space.
- White Mage from 8-bit Theater. Black Mage comments on this when she first appears.
- Daisy Archanis and Damien Vaeo from Last Resort. Arguably Geisha too, although he's more a red body than anything...
- Tai and Ellen from Questionable Content, the latter a supporting character's ex-girlfriend, the former a college librarian in an all-girl Love Dodecahedron.
- Torg's unwanted Magical Girlfriend Oasis from Sluggy Freelance.
- Irregular Webcomic has Ginny Smith, but nothing has come of it yet.
- Though not apparent, both Erika Hayasaka and Largo of Mega Tokyo have red hair.
- Princess Voluptua in The Inexplicable Adventures Of Bob. Granted that her human form is an illusion and she is actually a giant alien butterfly—which Bob knows, and which prevents any possible relationship between them—but even her butterfly form has those same long flowing locks of (presumably red) hair.
- Dr. McNinja's old girlfriend Hortense is a redhead.
- Chel, from Alien Dice is the heroine of the story, and Lexx's love interest. True to the trope, Chel is fiery and independent, and it's her stubborn nature which brings them together and prompts Lexx to fall in love with her. He finds her hair color strange (but pretty).
- Starfire of Teen Titans
- Princess Fiona in Shrek
- Shayera aka Hawkgirl in Justice League
- Come to think if it, it's difficult to find a red head (or former readhead) that hasn't got some on that show. The Question (redhead! Surprise!) has something with Huntress; Lex (but how do you tell what color his hair...ahhh...) was doing Mercy and Tala, and as for the Flash...well, let's just say there's truth behind the "Wally's a pimp" meme.
- On Clone High, Abe spent most of his time in love with black-haired Cleopatra, but in the last episode realized he was in love with red magenta-haired Joan of Arc.
- Elastigirl/Helen Parr of The Incredibles, at least when she was younger.
- Atomic Betty.
- In an episode of The Venture Brothers, Phantom Limb freezes a courtroom and gives Dr. Orpheus a hypnotic suggestion to testify against the Monarch, then he'll get an archvillain like he always wanted. When the room unfreezes, Dr. Orpheus is wistfully muttering "I hope they'll get me a girl villain. A redhead..."
- On Ben 10, the redhead Gwen is Ben's cousin. They are shipped together anyway, but the writers have no one to blame but themselves.
- Of course, the sociopathic incurably evil bad guy Kevin apparently has such a thing for redheads that his crush on All Grown Up Gwen is one of the major factors in his turn to Anti Hero in Ben 10 Alien Force.
- In Daria, Daria's little sister Quinn Morgendorffer is the teen queen of this trope, as almost every guy who sees her is immediately hypnotized by her bouncy carrot-top (and tiny, cute pores!). In fact, the only guys who see her and AREN'T interested are those who see her as a Well Excuse Me Princess type (Trent Lane, David Sorenson), are part of an Official Couple (Kevin) or where First Girl Wins (Young Master Thomas Sloane aka Tom, who also beautifully subverts that trope by ending up with Daria, the star of the show, after coming aboard as part of a Beta Couple with Jane).
- In the 80's G.I. Joe cartoon, redheaded intelligence officer Scarlett was vaguely presented as a love interest for the heroic male lead, Duke. In the comics, she was the main squeeze of primary character Snake-Eyes.
- April O'Neil, yellow-jumpsuited friend of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was an object of the boys' affection in both the cartoon and the movies (especially for Mikey) and for Casey Jones.
- Teela, from He Man and the Masters of the Universe would be another definite candidate, if He-Man was interested in women, If You Know What I Mean...
- Jessie Bannon, Race's tomboyish daughter who showed up for the Jonny Quest movie and late 90's animated series, is yet another example of American cartoons brainwashing children to think redheads are totally hot.
- In Futurama, when Bender becomes a woman, she calls herself Coilette and has red hair (or whatever robots have). Futurama 's "hero" Fry is red-headed, however.
- Charlie Brown's Crush is a little redheaded girl.
- On the animated show Huntik (which I can best describe as a cross between the Da Vinci Code and Pokemon) there are two female heroines: the sultry, raven-haired Asian beauty Zalia, and the fiery redhead British hottie Sophie. Guess which one is the main character's love interest?
- Roxanne in A Goofy Movie.
- Kim Possible is a redhead.
So, what else can i say... heroes love readheads, it's out there, in books, comics, movies, tv shows and anime... all the heroes eventually fall in line and start worshipping redheads... it's a weird fact, but next time you're reading a comic, have a look out for how many redheads you can spot in relation to the amount of blondes and brunettes... you may be surprised yourself.