The Saiyans of Dragon Ball Z were known for their wild and flowing hair, especially as the concept of Super Saiyans was introduced. This saw the species receive increasingly spiky and wavy manes that bristled with power, with their blond mops separating them from other characters in the franchise. There was one notable exception to this follicle rule, however.
Despite being a seemingly powerful and high-ranking Saiyan, Vegeta's former servant Nappa was also bald. This flew in the face of typical Saiyan race imagery, and causing many Dragon Ball fans to speculate. Did he lose his hair naturally? Did he have a disease? Was it a sign of weakness? Here's the truth behind the hairless Saiyan warrior.
The Saiyans and Their Hair in Dragon Ball
Members of Dragon Ball's Saiyan race almost always have jet black hair, though there are exceptions, especially in the case of half-breeds. For instance, the half-human Trunks inherited his mother's hair color (purple or blue depending on different adaptations) instead of his father Vegeta's dark hair. Of course, the various Super Saiyan transformations tend to change a Saiyan's hair color, with most of these forms turning their locks blond. Saiyan hair is also often spiky and somewhat unruly, though this could simply be Akira Toriyama's art style.
Vegeta has stated that a pure-blooded Saiyan's hairstyle will not naturally deviate from its appearance from the day they're born. Being born with a full head of hair would also seem to be common among Saiyan babies, as main character Goku's hair was 100% even as a newborn. Perhaps due to their slowed aging compared to humans, facial hair is somewhat difficult to grow for Saiyan males -- it took Goku and Vegeta three "years" in the Hyberbolic Time Chamber in order to grow noticeable beards. Other Saiyans known to have had beards include Vegeta's father King Vegeta, as well as his former assistant Nappa, with the latter being a total follicular anomaly.
Why Was the Saiyan Nappa Bald in Dragon Ball Z?
Many have assumed over the years that Nappa's lack of hair atop his head was simply due to age. This still makes him a notable exception to most Saiyans, since pretty much every other male member of the species has fairly healthy hair. This is somewhat backed up by a recent statement made by Akira Toriyama in the Dragon Ball Super Exciting Guide where he commented that, despite their slowed aging, Saiyans do indeed age and their hair can change as well. He also states that Nappa "went bald," furthering the idea that he simply lost his locks due to no longer being a spry young buck anymore.
However, this contradicts an earlier statement from the Dragon Ball franchise creator, where he stated that Nappa had actually shaved his head as an act of courage and defiance against cultural norms. This somewhat makes sense. Again, every other Saiyan was far from bald, thus making the muscular cue ball stand out from the crowd and blaze his own path. A more hirsute Nappa can briefly be seen in the Bardock - The Father of Goku animated special, where he has a sort of mohawk. If he truly was going bald naturally, it might explain why the sides were already gone.
Combining this with the "courageous act" theory, perhaps he noticed that the strands on his head were thinning out and decided to end it on his own terms. Of course, the more recent statement of Nappa "going bald" might not mean naturally, and Toriyama could've meant that Nappa simply adopted the bald hairstyle, with this meaning lost in translation. Whatever the case for his shiny scalp, Nappa was certainly an irregularity among the Saiyans seen throughout the Dragon Ball franchise.