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Worf begins TNG with very short hair, and progressively grows it (see images below). But for someone who thinks of himself to be very Klingon, having short hair doesn't seem to be a Klingon thing to do (again, see images below). Why, then, did Worf have such short hair to begin with? (All I can think of is a Starfleet hair/grooming policy, although that didn't stop Worf having long hair later on, albeit well groomed)

Season 1 - short hair

Worf Season 7 - much longer hair

Kahless - the Klingon Warrior, with long hair

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    Didn't he have a pony tail?
    – TLP
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 23:35
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    @TLP - yes he did by the end of TNG, but in season 1 his hair was very short Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 23:36
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    Best guess: Worf thought he was in the Original Series.
    – Xantec
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 23:45
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    Starfleet regulations. Get a haircut you bloody hippy, I'll make an officer out of you yet!
    – user8719
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 10:37
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    Maybe Worf was keeping to Lt. Yar's policy and after he took over as boss of the security department, he changed the hair rules. Starfleet itself is very flexible, but local officers can be stricter (see Jellico for example being more strict on uniform policy, or Riker giving Ro a hard time.) Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 23:27

4 Answers 4

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They were actually still developing the character at that point. They ultimately decided that a more long haired look cut a more 'feral' and wild appearance. Also, the bulbous head with short hair looked stupid so they subtly transitioned from the short-to-long hair style by quietly slipping in a pony-tail.

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    Also note the cranial ridge and skin tone change as well as the highlights added to his hair.
    – Morgan
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 23:53
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    the change in Worf's cranial ridge was due to the original mould being lost or stolen between seasons.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 4:03
  • Huh, I didn't know that.
    – Morgan
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 4:13
  • Also long hair helps to disguise the join-line for the prosthetic.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 1:01
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    "They ultimately decided that a more long haired look cut a more 'feral' and wild appearance" — citation needed. I don't remember Worf being especially wild and feral. He got mad when Alexander left their quarters in a mildly messy state. Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 15:50
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In-Universe Reason:

I don't have the source handy, but one of the novels explained it as Worf trying to fit in. Although proud of his Klingon heritage, Worf was still somewhat anxious about what people thought of him. The events we witness throughout TNG helped him to grow more comfortable with himself, and his decreasing anxiety is symbolized by his hair getting progressively longer throughout the first few seasons.

He wore his hair shoulder-length throughout his Academy years, but was often ostracized due to being the first Klingon in Starfleet. He served nearly three years as an Ensign on the USS Aldrin before his transfer to the Enterprise. Presumably he started cutting his hair short during that period.


Out-Of-Universe Reason:

As others have commented, production-wise it was because they didn't quite have the character's appearance nailed down yet in the first season. The prosthetic for his cranial ridges was updated in the second season, and the longer hair helped hide the edges of the latex application.

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In-universe: Starfleet, much like current military organizations, undoubtedly has regulations governing crew member appearance and hygiene maintainance, and requires its members to maintain good grooming, including keeping hair short (probably to avoid letting it get caught in machinery and such). For comparison: Why does the Army require soldiers to have crew-cuts?

Also, Worf was raised by human parents, and many human cultures routinely trim hair (or at least male hair).

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  • This is probably approximately correct, but could stand having some support added - evidence of Starfleet grooming standards for instance, pictures of Worf as a child, etc.
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 15:02
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    The Army required crew cuts as part of their plan to reduce individuality. The theory is if you make everyone look the same, they will act the same. Perhaps a young Worf was trying to “fit in” with the cool kids but became more comfortable with being himself as he aged; that’s not uncommon for humans.
    – StephenS
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 15:23
  • "including keeping hair short (probably to avoid letting it get caught in machinery and such)" - I don't see much support for such an assumed regulation when thinking of female crew members; Tasha Yar and Ensign/Lt. Jae being rare exceptions in terms of short hairstyle rather than the norm. Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 21:43
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Worf's hair isn't that much shorter than Commander Kruge's. I suspect in-universe a Klingon would just assume Worf is nobility (which Worf is).

Out universe we should remember that the Klingons of Star Trek III and IV were the ONLY ones prior to Worf with the modern makeup. TOS Klingons had very short hair and motion picture Klingons also had medium length hair but it isn't quite consistent with what became the makeup of the classic movies to Berman era (though not so far off one couldn't assume ethnic variation).

Commander Kruge with shoulder length hair

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