So today's topic: The propensity for fictional characters to have static facial hair stylings. I was thinking a while back about how long-running fictional characters don't seem to change their facial hair much just for the hell of it. Certainly there aren't a lot of real people who do that, either, I guess, but I feel I know more people IRL likely to occasionally change their facial hair style than fictional characters. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with recognizability; probably not a lot of television shows, say, benefit from rapidly changing the appearance of their characters. Bad for branding.
I'm thinking mostly of television series, I guess. It seems the best opportunity for a strongly visual medium with long-running (and therefor familiar) characters. Also noteworthy on this topic, I think, is that people do change facial hair for single episodes sometimes. I'm thinking of Peter growing a beard on Family Guy; all the guys on Cheers engaging in a beard-growing contest on one episode; Dan grew a beard when he was in a coma for two or three episodes of Night Court; and George and Jerry from Seinfeld sported mustaches in a single scene that I recall.
Anyway. When a character does change his facial hair, it seems like a major event to me. As a viewer, I mean. As an event in the fictional world, reactions vary. Today's exercise: what are some examples? When has a long-running, familiar character changed their facial hair, and what kind of response did it get? Here are the ones I've come up with:
1. Frasier on Cheers grew a beard at some point and kept it for a while. I remember this was a big deal on the show, and it was actually the inspiration for the aforementioned beard-growing contest. I also don't recall for sure, but didn't he lose the beard again before the series ended?
2. Beeacher from Oz. I remember that, while Beecher started off clean-shaven, he ended up changing his facial hair all the damn time. This always seemed to pass without comment on the show.
3. Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Riker moving on to facial hair was one of the great transformations on television, IMO. It's been a while since I've been exposed to TNG, but really the only person I can recall bringing up Riker's facial hair was Q. :) (Q materializes a couple women to fawn over Riker. Riker to Q: "I don't need your fantasy women." Q: "You weren't this stoic before the beard." Women disappear, reappear fawning over Worf.) Once Riker went bearded, he never went back.
What do you guys have for me?
EDIT: Just thought of number four.
4. B.J. started on M*A*S*H sporting a mustache, but had it partially shaved off by Hawkeye in one episode, and then went clean-shaven after that. At least for a while; I don't remember if he grew the mustache back.