?People just don’t wear hats any more. Sure, teens still wear baseball caps, ravers still wear Dr. Seuss hats and some women still wear elaborate bonnets to church on Sunday, but the days when every man and woman on earth wore a head covering when going out of doors are well behind us. But that has given the remaining hats power — for anyone who wears one, it becomes their defining characteristic. And while many characters from popular fiction wear hats — Jack Sparrow, Dick Tracy, and Freddy Krueger, for example — only a select few of these hats wield the power to control and influence all of nerd-dom. They are the Ten, and they are legend. Some choose to control their followers from their seat of power, atop the heads of their wearers, while others have been replicated by the thousands and distributed to fans around the world. The next time you cosplay as one of these characters, or wait in line for two hours just to get an autograph from one, or drop big money on a DVD box set starring one, ask yourself — were you you the one in control of your actions that day? Or was it the hat?
10) The Eleventh Doctor’s Fez
?“I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.” With those words, spoken by the Eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) in “The Big Bang,” fezzes rocketed to the top of the “Most Popular Doctor Who Headgear” list, knocking aside the previous top entry, the Fourth Doctor’s floppy hat, which, to be fair, was already overshadowed by that Doctor’s enormous scarf and/or hair. Since then, the fez has returned or been referenced several times, and while it was temporarily succeeded by a Stetson in one episode, the version of the Doctor who wore said Stetson was promptly shot. Lesson learned? DO NOT MEZ WITH THE FEZ.
9) Dum-Dum Dugan’s Derby
?For a 100-year-old who fought in World War II, Dum Dum Dugan is pretty spry. He still works for SHIELD, he still has a luxuriant red mustache and he still rocks a derby like it’s nobody’s business. True, nobody seems to be able to explain why he’s still walking around unassisted, but I’m going to chalk it up to the hat. Assuming that’s the same hat he wore back in the Big One, that sucker is bulletproof, and back in the 1940s “bulletproof” meant “lined with solid steel.” So in addition to being a circus strongman before he signed up to fight the Nazis, he’s been walking around with a heavy-ass hat on his head for 70 years. Not only would that strengthen his neck muscles to a ridiculous degree, if he ever took it off he could probably jump over the sun.
8) Finn’s Awesome Hat
?If you haven’t watched the ridiculously fun cartoon Adventure Time, you really should. It’s like a more surreal and ridiculous “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” and it has singlehandedly revived the animal-ear hat. For a while, anime seemed to be doing a pretty good job of popularizing them on its own, but if you attended San Diego Comic-Con this year, you saw thousands of people wearing them, and parades of people walking up and down the streets in them, and they were all Adventure Time hats. Granted, that’s because the Cartoon Network was handing them out for free, but just because something’s free doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to wear it. You wear it because it’s awesome.
7) Sgt. Slaughter’s Campaign Cover
?His drill instructor hat, and the persona that came with it, were the product of Robert Remus’s former career, that of an actual Marine Corps drill instructor — a fact that helped bring a gritty authenticity to his matches with Kamala the Ugandan Giant, as well as to his brawl with winged Cobra-La heavy Nemesis Enforcer at the end of G.I. Joe: The Movie. Yes, there were other G.I. Joe members who wore hats, and other WWF Champions, too, but Shipwreck was never a real sailor, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage was never a real rhinestone cowboy. Sgt. Slaughter straddled both fake worlds, and he was the realest thing about both of them. The only difference was that, in the Joe world, he fought with his hat on.
6) Zatanna’s Top Hat
?The DC Comics sorceress Zatanna is by no means the first magic-user to wear a top hat. Hell, Mandrake the Magician was rocking the top hat back in the 1930s, and he still owned that look 50 years later, as a member of the Defenders of the Earth. But there is nothing quite like a beautiful, scantily clad woman in a top hat — the top hat lets you know you’re in for a classy affair, and the fishnets tells you that the invitation failed to mention pants. Granted, the Gentleman Ghost has been wearing one for much longer — and more consistently — but G.G. was also never in the Justice League. Plus, whoever decided to ditch the hat and switch Zatanna over to more standard superhero garb in the late 1970s should be brought to the present day in a time machine, fired, and sent back again.
5) Jayne’s Knit Cap
?Firefly fans are a dedicated lot, and with a limited number of episodes, ships, collectibles and actor autographs to obsess over, every frame of the show’s fourteen episodes and one movie gets equal scrutiny. So while some “Browncoats” choose to wear the article of clothing that gave the fandom its name, and others sport any number of t-shirts with the show’s omnipresent Chinese advertisements on them, when it comes to headgear, there is only one choice: Jayne’s hat. Sent to Firefly‘s resident bad-ass (well, one of its several resident badasses) by his mother, the original hat was red, orange and yellow, but really, any knit hat will do, as long as it has earflaps, a pom-pom on top and negates any sense of cool you might be attempting to project. It only appeared for one episode, but that’s 5% of the show, which practically makes it a cast member.
4) Dave Filoni’s Cowboy Hat
long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, nobody wore hats — that is,
nobody except the millions of nameless, grey-uniformed Brits that made
up the great Imperial machine. Perhaps that’s why the rebels avoided
hats: to make a display of hat-less solidarity. And yet, the man who
currently controls your weekly dose of Star Wars is never seen without one. Everyone who’s ever attended a panel or seen a behind-the-scenes video about the Clone Wars cartoon has seen the spectacularly out-of-place hat of Dave Filoni, director of the Clone Wars movie
and series. Supposedly worn to honor his cowboy great-grandfather,
Filoni swears that his preferred choice of headgear had nothing to do
with the creation of Clone Wars’ resident desperado, Cad Bane,
but we know better. And when the special edition Blu-rays of the
original trilogy are updated to have Han Solo wearing a jaunty chapeau
in every scene, so will the world.
3) Monkey D. Luffy’s Straw Hat
?The pirate saga One Piece has been one of the world’s most popular manga and anime series for nearly 15 years, and it’s all thanks to a hat. Not only does the straw hat of Captain Monkey D. Luffy give its name to the central Straw Hat Pirates crew (it even adorns the skull on their Jolly Roger), it set the emotional tone for the series early on, with the passing of the hat from Captain Shanks to the young Luffy acting as the emotional climax of Chapter 1, inspiring the rubbery youth to pursue the career choice that has lasted for over 60 volumes. It is also said that the hat once belonged to Gol D. Roger, the famous Pirate King, before it belonged to Shanks, which makes it one of the sturdiest and longest-lasting straw hats known to man.
2) The Sorting Hat
?Of all the hats on this list, the Sorting Hat is the only one who talks, and the only one holding down a job other than “dome protection.” As the Head Sorter of Children at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Sorting Hat is kind of like a guidance counselor, since he sends students down the paths that will shape them into the noble, evil, smart or stupid adults they’ll become. He’s also the staff armorer, storing deadly bladed weapons within himself and distributing them to the schoolchildren as needed. Is it any wonder he’s the most popular talking hat in children’s literature? When not giving swords to minors and grouping like with like, the Sorting Hat is also an accomplished poet.
1) Indiana Jones’s Fedora
?The true measure of a hat’s value is what length the hat’s owner would go to in order to retain ownership of said hat. And there is no hat so treasured as the hat of archaeologist Indiana Jones, by either its fictional owner or the legions of fans who now possess one. Given to a young Indy by a fortune hunter he crossed paths with, Dr. Jones has risked life and limb to keep it in his possession, whether it’s retrieving it from behind a rapidly closing stone door or snatching it from the hands of a franchise-hungry Shia LaBeouf. Not that it falls off very often — it usually stays on through extended action sequences, only leaving Indy’s head when he is placed under a blood trance, or impaled by spikes. Plus, whenever he puts it on, it plays his theme music.