Bald is beautiful. I know that. You know that. (At least, you should!) Authors, animators and Hollywood execs, however, seem to have a different idea. For whatever reason, the big-wigs (pun intended) of Tinseltown think that bald means evil, suspicious, sneaky…or just downright weird.
There are plenty of famous alopecians out there – see my full list of 44 celebs here! But this post will focus on the best bald characters in film, tv and fiction, whether they’re evil or not. (Spoiler alert…most are evil!)
Psst…if you’re wondering why there aren’t many ladies on the following list, that’s because they’ve got their own very special badass bald women article. Yay!
A final spoiler alert…there may be spoilers ahead.
Ok, in a list that is going to contain a lot of bad guys we might actually be starting with the worst of the worst. Judge Holden does not do us alopecians any favours at all.
Supposed based on a genuine real-life mid-19th century scalp hunter of some renown, Judge Holden was given real form as the main antagonist of Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant novel Blood Meridian which follows the bloody exploits of the Ganton Gang.
He is described as being seven feet tall and completely devoid of any body hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes. A classic case of Alopecia Totalis if there has ever been one. Not the 7 foot part, but the completely hair-free part.
Throughout a few hundred blood-soaked pages, Judge Holden murders dozens in often brutal ways and is heavily implied to be a child rapist. Socially refined and a polymath Holden is a mysterious almost supernatural figure, depicted as almost the very embodiment of evil itself. A hair-free devil incarnate.
Famous American Literary critic Harold Bloom described Judge Holden as “short of Moby Dick, the most monstrous apparition in all of American literature.”
Now, the sharp-eyed amongst you may have spotted that Blood Meridian isn’t a movie or a TV show. In fact, the book has often been described as unfilmable. But hey, this is my list and I make the rules. So he’s in.
From the truly evil to cartoon evil. Our next bald character is Gru, or Felonious Gru to give him his full name. Gru is the main protagonist of the widely popular Despicable Me franchise.
Also known as the films that gave us the Minions, that entertaining/irritating yellow gibberish talking merchandise machine. Oh, and the Pharrel Williams song. I can’t imagine Judge Holden singing along to “Get Happy”.
And once again Gru is a bald bad guy, what a surprise! This time he is a supposed supervillain with a dastardly plan to steal the moon.
Gru descends from a long line of villains but after a stint as a supervillain, he becomes a stay-at-home adoptive dad to three little girls. So he isn’t really bad. He is pretty good at heart.
Although some would argue that whoever invented and inflicted the Minions on the world might be the most despicable character of all!
Next up is Kojak, the bald-headed lollipop licking 1970s detective. There is no way he couldn’t make the list. Not only because no bad guy ever got one over on him but also because this list is desperately in need of a non-evil character.
Actor Telly Savalas’ brilliant portrayal of Kojak as a witty, incorruptible, dapper and very bald New York cop will live on forever as one of the most iconic TV cops ever. He’s not quite as cool as Peter Falk’s Colombo but he’s close.
Who loves you, baby? Well, we do Kojak. We love you. And your big shiny head.
Finally, a non-evil bald character to talk about. The follically challenged King Mongkut of Siam in the 1954 film, The King and I.
Whilst not evil, the king isn’t exactly a nice guy. Actually, he is far from a nice guy but he isn’t beyond redemption. A bit like Gru in that respect I suppose.
The King and I which starred Yul Brynner as the bald King of Siam and Deborah Kerr as Anna. The movie was based on a Rodgers and Hammersmith musical of the same name, itself based on a novel Anna and the King of Siam. Which itself was based on an 1870 memoir by Anna Leonowens titled “The English Governess at the Siamese Court”.
How much truth there is in the original memoir is up for debate. And don’t go trying to play this film in present-day Siam, now known as Thailand, as it will see you run up against strict lèse majesté rules which see anything except positive things said about royalty punished. Which is a lucky rule for the current king who let us just say is an interesting chap.
Yul Brynner shaved his head for the role and got such a good reception for his new clean headed look that he continued shaving his head for the rest of his days. Many of his fans at the time followed suit and shaved their own heads for that “Yul Brynner” look.
Next up on our list of chrome-domes in fiction is Cypher from The Matrix. Cypher is one of the “redpills”, or those who live in the real real world as opposed to the computer-generated life of the Matrix.
Cypher is one of the motley band that makes up the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar, under the command of the legendary Morpheus. But when it comes time for one character to betray the rest and sell them out to Agent Smith any guesses who it is going to be?
The bald guy of course. Cypher. Well because he has no hair and is, therefore, the least trustworthy. I mean if he was to be trusted his own hair wouldn’t have abandoned him would it?!
You see, Cypher has a downer on Morpheus, he doesn’t buy into Neo and his potential “One-ness” and he has a bit of a hard-on for Trinity that is going nowhere. But most of all he regrets ever taking that red pill because the real world sucks! And to be honest I think that’s something a lot of us can sympathize with.
Next up on our rundown of the best bald characters in fiction, or should that be the evilest characters in fiction, is Kevin Spacey’s bald-headed serial killer John Doe in the 1995 film Se7en.
Directed by master of tension David Fincher, Se7en is a very dark psychological mystery-thriller, and John Doe is its very dark antagonist. A serial killer punishing in a variety of gruesome ways those he perceives as having committed one of the seven deadly sins. For example, he forces an obese man to eat himself (gluttony) and so on. You get the twisted idea.
John Doe is intelligent and a master of manipulation and mind games, playing with his victims and twisting the minds of Brad Pitt’s officer David Mills into pieces before a shocking finale.
“What’s in the box?!” If you don’t know the answer that particular question I’m not about going to tell you. But it ain’t good.
Oh, and John Doe is bald. Well, of course, he would have to be, wouldn’t he? You can’t have a serial killer with hair now, can you?
This character wouldn’t be the most famous baldie now but I included him as Kevin Spacy the actor who played him famously isn’t bald (he also now more famously not a good guy at all) so it was a conscious decision to remove the character hair to make John Doe more sinister.
James Bond’s nemesis in numerous novels and films, Blofeld is the dastardly head of global criminal organisation SPECTRE, where he is referred to by his criminal compatriots as Number 1. Well, he isn’t number 1 on my list of best bald characters. Not even close. But he is still iconic.
So iconic in fact that it’s hard to think of any character that has been parodied quite so much as Blofeld. Ever pretended to stroke a cat while saying something evil? Well, then you are doing a Blofeld impression.
He has been played by some great actors over the years, from Donald Pleasance to Max Von Sydow and even Telly Savalas of Kojak fame.
Blofeld would be higher on the list but the fact is Blofeld isn’t always bald. His most recent reincarnation played by Christoph Waltz shows him sporting quite a nice tidy hairdo. And you can’t make it into the top ten of my best bald characters if you are only a part-timer. Sorry Ernie!
The bald bad guy is such a well-worn trope (that’s trope, not toupee) that when Mike Myers was creating his bad guy for Austin Powers he created Dr Evil, another chrome-domed arch-villain. He even had his own bald mini-me in Mini-Me.
Taking the ridiculous to an even further level, in the third Austin Powers movie, Scott, Dr Evil’s son who for the first two movies was completely disinterested in evil doings, ends the movie completely bald and ready to take control of his father’s evil empire.
As we will see with Lex Luther this is a classic example of losing hair being a symbolic loss of innocence and goodness.
Oh what’s this, another bald supervillain, well isn’t that a surprise.
Funnily enough, the real reason why Superman’s arch-nemesis turned out to be bald isn’t to do with Hollywood stereotypes, they hadn’t been established way back in 1940 when he first took on Superman. No, the real reason Lex is bald seems to be either laziness or a mistake.
When he debuted way back in Action Comics #23 in 1940, Lex Luther had a great big head of hair, kind of like me when I was young, but apparently, one of the original artists got tired of drawing all that hair and one day just forgot to include it! The new-look stuck.
It took another 20 years of bald Lex until Superman co-creator Jerry Seigel finally got around to explaining the villain’s baldness. In Adventure Comics #271, it seems a young Superman met and befriended Lex Luthor, but after a fire breaks out in Lex’s lab while he is trying to create a cure for kryptonite, Superboy blows out the flames but in the process causes a chemical reaction which burns off Lex’s hair and sets them on course to be lifelong enemies.
Eek, talk about no good deed going unpunished. So you see. Lex wasn’t always bald just like he wasn’t always evil. His lack of hair is symbolic. What the symbol is I’m not sure. Hair equals good. Bald equals megalomaniac.
Our second character from The Matrix but this time our baldie is working for good, not like that sneaky Cypher. Morpheus played by Lawrence Fishbourne is that rare thing a bald good guy.
In Greek mythology, the name Morpheus is that of the god of dreams. Which is kind of what he is in The Matrix too as he’s the guy handing out redpills to free Neo from the computer induced dream world.
Morpheus’ lifelong mission is to find “the One” but his side mission has to be looking cool. If I was doing a list of the coolest bald characters of all time, I am pretty sure Morpheus would be hands down number one.
No man has ever worn sunglasses better than Lawrence Fishbourne in this film, and he probably needed them considering the gleam that his shiny bald head gives off.
“Why is it that when a black man shaves his head he looks like a superhero, but when a white man does it he looks like a serial killer?”
— Chris Rock
Has there ever been a more nuanced and conflicted character in a TV show than Bryan Cranston’s Walter White in Breaking Bad? Or to give him his bad guy alias, Heisenberg.
Now Walt definitely isn’t just another bald bad guy stereotype, he is almost the definition of a good guy gone bad. Hence the name of the show, breaking bad.
Walt starts the show as a mild-mannered put upon chemistry teacher but over the course of five seasons is transformed into a ruthless criminal mastermind. Or in his own words to his terrified wife:
“I am not in danger, Skyler. I AM the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!”
If you haven’t watched that scene in a while. I beg off you, go and watch it again now. I’ll wait. If I had any hairs on my neck they would be standing up now!
Now like Lex Luther, Walt starts the show with a nice head of hair but quickly loses it in Season One following chemotherapy for his cancer. Seeing his hair come out in clumps in the shower, Walt shaves his head and in almost the next scene has his first true badass moment of the series, as he walks into the headquarters of a biker gang and holds his own.
It’s more subtle than Lex’s transformation but once again, loss of hair symbolises a loss of innocence.
Ok, we are getting to the pointy end of this list now, and finally, a character who is a force for good. Charles Xavier in the X Men, also known as Professor X. The wheelchair-bound founder/leader of the X-Men.
Charles is shown throughout the comics, cartoons and films to be one of the most powerful mutants with the telepathic ability to read and control minds. Unless of course, you wear a nice metal hat like Magneto.
Stan Lee the creator of Professor X once admitted that inspiration for the character came from Oscar winning-actor, famous baldie and number 10 on this very list, Yul Brynner.
In the most recent film franchise, Professor X loses his hair thanks to a confrontation with an evil mutant known as Apocalypse. Although, as I can attest losing your hair isn’t the end of the world!.
In the comics, the Prof’s hair loss is a result of his powers, with his powerful telepathy being likened to radiation. Whatever the reason, it looks incredibly cool. Plus, it also meant that when it came to casting no other actor was ever going to get the role apart from the amazing Patrick Stewart.
Speaking of Patrick Stewart…
What’s this, another non-evil bad character. That’s right my friends. Top of my list of best baldies in film and TV is Jean Luc Piccard. The shiny-headed captain of the Star Ship Enterprise and man who has baldly gone to more sci-fi conventions that anyone should ever have to.
Baldly gone! Gettit?
Played once again by the one and only Sir Patrick Stewart, a man whose acting talent is surpassed only by his decency as a human being.
Turning bald due to alopecia by the age of 19 didn’t stop Patrick Stewart becoming one of his generation’s most respected Shakespearean actors. Or indeed “the most famous cranium in the world” as one interviewer dubbed him.
Following many years treading the boards of the British stage, in 1987 Stewart took his acting chops into outer space when he took on the role of Captain Picard. A character that he embodied so completely, that working out where Jean Luc Piccard ends and Sir Patrick begins is impossible to tell.
Now when you hear Stewart speak out on one of his many political or social forays into the public sphere it’s hard not to believe that he doesn’t have the full force of Starfleet behind him.
Yep, number 1 hands down on my list of best bald characters in film and tv is Jean Luc Piccard. Now, of course, I’m biased and this list is based on nothing more than my own opinions. The fact Patrick Stewart suffers from alopecia may have influenced my opinion on the top two choices a little. But they are also there primarily because they aren’t evil.
So why are so many bald characters evil? Well, there seems to be a theory that stems all the way back to the Bible and Samson’s fall from grace when he lost his precious locks.
And after a while these things come self-fulfilling, a few notable bad guys in successful films etc were bald so it enters the conscious that bad guys are bald, so then more baldies are hired as bad guys. It’s lazy shorthand.
There is one genre that seems to have a slightly healthier attitude toward bald men and that’s anime. There are a lot if positive portrayals of bald anime characters. Want to know who, well then you are in luck. Here is my list of the best bald anime characters of all time. Have a look.
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