Only four percent of the global population rocks naturally red hair, but their representation in literature is way higher. After all, endowing a character with a mop of ginger locks is basically a shorthand way of saying, “Hey reader—this person stands out!” Whether that’s good or bad depends on the story, but one thing’s for certain: there sure are some memorable carrot tops in fiction. Here are a few of our favorites!
6. Ygritte (A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R. R. Martin)
Ygritte is kind of the archetypal redhead. Stubborn, fearless, and bossy, she embodies many of the tropes popularly associated with the hair color. Among her people, her locks are considered lucky, and “kissed by fire,” but she’s not all that unique in Westeros, follicle-wise. Red hair also runs heavily through the Stark and Tully families, while the priestess Melisandre has been “kissed by fire” in a much more literal way.
5. The Weasleys (Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling)
In contrast to the stereotype about redheads being fiery lunatics, the ginger gene is recessive and will politely step aside for most other hair colors. That is, until two carriers of the gene unite. Then, you’ve got a veritable coppertop factory on your hands, and the Weasleys are the perfect example. All 7 Weasley kids have red hair, making them instantly identifiable at Hogwarts. Incidentally, Harry’s mother was a redhead, too, but he took after his raven-haired pops.
4. Leigh-Cheri Furstenburg-Barcelona (Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins)
It’s nearly impossible to sum up this wacky novel, so we won’t even try. Suffice it to say, Leigh-Cheri is a total manic pixie dream girl, with red hair to top it all off like a cherry on a nutty sundae. She teams up with an outlaw named the Woodpecker (also a redhead), and they have a series of surreal adventures, which include a brush with an alien race that believes all gingers are inherently evil, and that “red hair is caused by sugar and lust.” That should give you some idea of how refreshingly nutballs this book is.
3. Poison Ivy (multiple authors)
The superhero genre is bursting at the seams with redheads. There’s Jean Grey, Black Widow, Mary Jane Watson, Barbara Gordon, Banshee, Caitlin Fairchild, Velocity…the list is seemingly endless (and interestingly, almost entirely female). But our favorite super-ginger has got to be Poison Ivy. Even though she’s completely bonkers, we can’t help but dig her eco-friendly stance. Plus, she knows how to rock a leaf-heavy leotard like nobody else. Work it, girl.
2. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables series, by L.M. Montgomery)
Anne is hands down our favorite redhead in children’s literature. Still, as with superhero lit, kids books are positively brimming over with coppertops. Take your pick among Pippi Longstocking, Nancy Drew (more of a strawberry blonde), Little Orphan Annie, Madeline, Fancy Nancy, or one of the other 12 million gingers that populate the young readers section. Heck, even animals have red hair in these books—fGinger from Black Beauty, Clifford the Big Red Dog.
1. Tintin (Tintin series, by Hergé)
Who doesn’t love Tintin? Answer: crazy people. The adventures of this globetrotting reporter have captivated audiences for almost a century, buoyed by Hergé’s clever mix of satire, political intrigue, and science fiction. We should mention that there is some debate about Tintin’s true hair color, with some arguing that he’s blond *gasp*. We’re firmly in the redhead camp (I mean, look at that fiery shock of a forelock), but if you’re in the flaxen camp, then sub in Archie Andrews here instead. There’s no mistaking that teen lothario’s hair color!
Who are your favorite literary redheads?