An Academic Study of Permissible Mullets in Classic Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Introducing a Hairstyle That Needs No Introduction: The Mullet

The mullet is a unique hairstyle that is characterized by being short on the top and sides and long enough in the back to pull into a ponytail. It can be summed up as “business in the front and party in the back.” One of the most recognizable mullets of all time was the one donned by country music artist Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2006, Cyrus released the album Wanna Be Your Joe and included the song “I Want My Mullet Back,” which was largely ignored by country radio stations. Cyrus’s mullet has been deemed not permissible due to its association with redneck culture. Another famous mullet was worn by a palomino pony whose gloriously epic mane can’t be touched by any man.

The mullet, however, did not originate in redneck culture or 1980s action films, nor is it a new phenomenon. Mullet enthusiasts Michael Bailey, Tegan Hendrickson, and Shaun Rosado talked about everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about mullets on Saturday at 10AM in the Marriott (M303–M304).

Mullets Through Time

The mullet is an ancient hairstyle with references to the haircut dating back to the sixth century when the renowned scholar Procopius proclaimed a new style of hair worn by young men was not principally Roman and named it a “hunnic” style.

“Business in the front, party in the back” became popular once again in the Wild West when different styles of the cult cut were worn by famous men such as Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody.

The Mullet Strikes Back

The mullet’s resurgence in modern times can be attributed to/blamed on prominent public figures such as Rod Stewart, David Bowie, and Paul McCartney. While the mullet came back in the 1970s, it was really the 1980s that made the mullet legendary. We think of the mullet as a predominantly male hairstyle, but it was quite popular with the lesbian community in the 1980s because it was a way for them to set themselves apart.

The mullet saw a rebirth in the 1990s when a number of popular comic book characters, like Superman, and musicians sported the style. The world wasn’t able to sustain the mullet. We saw the demise of the mullet’s popularity in the new millennium when the haircut became principally connected with the stereotypical redneck; specifically, Joe Dirt murdered the mullet.

Two Types of Acceptable Mullets

In classic sci-fi, fantasy, and life, there are two permissible categories of mullets, according to Hendrickson:

  1. The mullet makes sense within the context of the media. Contextual mullets include:
    • Red Sonja because she is a sword fighter and can’t have long hair in her face, which makes it a tactical mullet.
    • Kevin Costner in Robin Hood because he’s a warrior and has the tactical mullet as well.
    • Of course, the palomino pony because “a horse is a horse of course.”
  2. The bearer of the mullet is “just too badass” for it to be questioned:
    • 1990s Aquaman with his hand bitten off by Piranha.
    • Captain Planet because mullets and saving the world just fit together.
    • He-Man “because I dare you to give him shit for that,” Rosado stated.
    • Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys since, according to Rosado, “At no point do you ever question how much of a badass Kiefer Sutherland is in that movie. He is terrifying. You never go, ‘Hehe, it’s a vampire with a mullet.’ No, you’re like, ‘That vampire with a mullet is going to eat me.’”
    • The Darth Vader helmet mullet.

Mullets that are not permissible include Hercules, Ares in Xena because the god of war can do better, Kurt Russell in Captain Ron as it isn’t a badass role, and stereotypical rednecks. The Jedi mullet is on the fence. While Ewan McGregor can pull off just about anything, anyone else would have been ridiculed. On a side note, the consensus was that he expertly cut it off with a lightsaber.

Goodbye, Sweet Mullet

In the end, a mullet that is permissible is one that you look at and think “it works.” You don’t laugh at it or question it. Stay tuned for next year when the panel tries to out-mullet the mullet or dares to go to the dark side of the mullet. Also to be discussed after further research are the ratios that mullets must follow in order to be official and permissible.


Bailey, M. Fortress of Baileytude.

Hendrickson, T.

Rosado, S.

Author of the article

Not everyone can say they watch television for homework, read novels for inspiration, and are paid to follow what’s trending. For Alicia Pack, it is all part of life as a writer and media enthusiast.  When she isn't lost in the world she is trying to create, you can find her with her nose in a book or catching up on her favorite supernatural shows.  She has a Master’s degree in Mass Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television, and Film.  Her nine years of diverse media experience include news writing, copywriting, website content management, social media, promotions, television production, and teaching.