All Girls Want Bad Boys

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"Why do girls always prefer the distant, aloof, handsome, dangerous dudes instead of cheerful chaps like me?"

Maybe Hollywood is tapping into the supposed ancestral female animal instinct to choose the mightiest, strongest, toughest genes for their offspring. Maybe they're tapping into teenaged rebellion: girls are most likely to like the boys their parents are most likely to hate. Maybe it's because the more tanned, muscular, and scarred the actor, the better the shirtless scenes. Maybe the trend originated in a time when leather jackets, sunglasses, and motorcycles were in fashion. Maybe it's the thrill of danger being mistaken for love. Maybe it's just because Evil Is Sexy. Maybe "good girl and great guy get along great and are perfect for each other" is really boring. Maybe the writers are just bitter about the girls they didn't get. Whatever the reason, sorry, good boys—in Hollywood (and often in real life), it's the bad boys the girls want. No matter that the other characters are (sensibly) muttering "What Does She See in Him?"

The "bad boy" targets the strongest womanly instincts: the stoic, silent guy is a mystery waiting to be solved; the Troubled but Cute youth with a tragic past is a woobie needing comfort; he's tough enough to be a girl's protector, but vulnerable enough to need her to redeem him as well. Add to that the fact that Evil Is Cool and Good Is Dumb, and the Anti-Hero ranks as Bachelor of the Month - even more often than he ranks Ensemble Darkhorse.

All this, of course, glosses over the fact that bad boys are bad, meaning dangerous, not good as friends, probably not too mentally stable, potentially abusive/physically violent, and/or more interested in the physical (read:sexual) aspect of a relationship than anything else. He's also probably not going to be that concerned with fidelity, either. So what if he can't be trusted? It's an honor for girls in media to be chosen by him, to walk into prom night with him on her arm, to ride on the back of his motorcycle with her arms around his waist, to stick her tongue out at the Alpha Bitch from the passenger's seat of his stolen convertible. Depending on the nature of the Bad Boy and whether he's redeemed (or even redeemable) or not, use of this trope may give cause for the viewer to question the character's sense or intelligence, particularly if it's immediately obvious to everyone from the outset of the relationship that the man is a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Don't count on Reformed Rakes.

Interestingly, the younger the women, the more prevalent this trope will be. More mature, wiser women (meaning 35 and older) seem to be much more Genre Savvy, thus much less receptive to "bad boy" vibes (or, at the very least, have learnt their lesson through painful experience), although there are always exceptions. Of course, sometimes this occurs when the actual badness is an Informed Attribute, such as with the Loveable Rogue. If the main girl gets the Dogged Nice Guy or The White Prince in the end, beware—some fanficcers will still want the bad boy, and will force him on the main character by bashing the competition.

Counterpart trope to All Guys Want Cheerleaders—except these guys probably don't want the cheerleader.

Compare with The Vamp and the Femme Fatale - bad girls that the boys all want. When it goes to the extreme (either intentionally or not), the Girl may find herself becoming a Love Martyr. The girls may also go to the other end in what they're looking for and seek out the Nice Guy because Single Woman Seeks Good Man—particularly as a Second Love, and often via Just Friends, when they've been burned by this trope.

See Single Woman Seeks Good Man for a typical inversion. A popular subversion is to make the guy look like a bad guy but revealing himself as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with litte to no criminal record.

Related to I Can Change My Beloved, which often follows after this. The fandom reaction version of this is Draco in Leather Pants.

It is commonly and quite hotly debated whether this is Truth in Television or not. If you must add Real Life examples, use the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement.

Examples of All Girls Want Bad Boys include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Sailor Moon originally avoids this in the manga, where Mamoru is more or less a hot nerd, but the anime plays this straight any chance it could (such as giving him a motorcycle or changing him from a high-schooler to a college student). However, this still may be a subversion, since he was a snarky jerk to Usagi for a long time (in the manga, he was merely aloof when interacting with her), and she didn't want him at all until he shaped up.
    • Played straighter with Naru and Nephrite in the anime. Naru knows Neph isn't a good person and is aware that he has tried to use her, but she admits to a worried Usagi that she can't help loving him. Then Nephrite turns out to not be a Complete Monster... only to die in her arms.
  • Naruto:
    • Even after everything he's done, girls like Sakura still swoon over Sasuke. Though Sakura's affections for Sasuke have toned down, she still throws a fit if anyone says something bad about him. Though considering the horrible effects on her psyche, this could be seen as a Deconstructed Trope.
    • Karin. Dear God, Karin. Although at the end of the Kage Summit arc Karin ditched Sasuke after he tried to kill her, in manga chapter 574 we see her torn between fawning over and bashing a hand-made portrait of him. Time will tell if this was just an act.
  • Bad boy Yusuke in Yu Yu Hakusho is the object of good girl Keiko's desires. It helps that they are childhood friends. Being a Tsundere, Keiko also isn't really attracted to his badboyness, never hesitating to bitchslap him when he acts bad in her presence. Keiko is the only girl attracted to Yusuke. The other girls in Sarayashiki are afraid of him, and more than once, they ask her "Keiko-chan, just what do you see in him?!"
  • Death Note: Light Yagami, a sociopathic Knight Templar. In series, he has both kinds of girls that like him. The type that is infatuated with his goody-two-shoes Mr. Perfect personality on the outside, and the type that is obsessively in love with him because he's the brutal, condescending killer Kira.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Tien and Launch. Launch falls in love with him because of how ruthless he was in fights.
    • Bulma: Yamcha was a former bandit, until his Anti-Hero streak reached its expiry date. She also went head over heels when she first saw General Blue from the Red Ribbon Army and Zarbon from Freeza's army, before breaking up with Yamcha. Vegeta, the mass-murdering, ki-blast happy alien and Sociopathic Hero of the group actually managed to get Bulma knocked up, and she gave birth to their son Trunks (she eventually married Vegeta and they had a second child) . Even after that, when Dr. Gero attacked her, Vegeta, instead of tending to them like Future Trunks requested, said he doesn't care so much about "that crazy woman and her baby" before he punched him. The only two moments where he showed any substantial love for his family came during the Cell Games, when he witnessed Cell kill Future Trunks with a Death Beam and promptly went crazy on Beam Spam, and in the Buu Saga, when he killed himself to try to destroy Buu on their behalf. Both failed.
    • In a gender-inversion, Krillin, an all-around good guy, married Android No.18, a killer cyborg and someone who stated she wanted to kill his best friend, simply for giving him a kiss on the cheek. Justified by the fact that 18 and her brother were Anti-Villain Friendly Enemy types rather than the cold-blooded killers of Future Trunks' time. Otherwise, he and the other Z-Fighters would all be dead. And, 16 aside (who would later change his tune anyway), they didn't take the Goku hunt all too seriously.
  • Ouran High School Host Club parodied this in a chapter where otaku fangirl Renge attacked nearly every club member for not being angsty enough, and declared that filming all of them wallowing in some form of angst would increase their appeal. She was crazy but apparently right, as evidenced by the huge demand for the video.
  • Tomoya from Clannad is a bad boy who is often outright nasty towards the girls he meets, confronting them with his sarcastic attitude and making snide remarks at their expense. He also loves to play pranks on them (especially on Fuko), but that doesn't stop most of the girls from swooning over him toward the end of the series. He ends up with the good girl, Nagisa.
  • Lovely Complex: Koizumi's love interest, Otani, has a real attitude problem and Koizumi often has to endure quite a bit of verbal abuse. It doesn't prevent her from pursuing him relentlessly, competing with the other girls who like him—which includes his neighbor Mimi, a fashion model. Then again, she is not always lovey-dovey herself.
  • The Castleof Cagliostro concludes that Lupin III, Gentleman Thief that he is, has stolen the heroine's heart.
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, every female in the class swoons over cigarette-smoking, dynamite-throwing, foul-mouthed juvenile delinquent Gokudera Hayato, including main love interest Sasagawa Kyoko—much to The Hero, Sawada Tsuna's chagrin...Ironically, Gokudera spends time fanboying over Tsuna himself
  • Played with in Princess Tutu. When Mytho, former Extreme Doormat, goes through a Face Heel Turn in the second season, he picks up a new girl almost every episode, but it's because he's casting a spell on them so he can manipulate them into being a sacrifice for the Big Bad, not because they're suddenly attracted to him now that he's a Bad Boy.
  • Paradise Kiss: this is Hiroyuki Tokumori's curse. When he was a kid, Miwako chose Arashi instead of him. Series heroine Yukari was in love with him for who knows how long, until she met George and fell for him on the spot. In the end, it's subverted when Yukari ends up marrying him, since both she and George realized that their relationship wasn't going anywhere.
  • Sousuke Sagara of Full Metal Panic! is a subversion. A highly-skilled military specialist who works for a mercenary company, who knows half-a-dozen ways to kill you before you hit the floor, and who's been an assassin since he was eight, with enough of a Dark and Troubled Past for two or three protagonists, is prime bad-boy material. And yet the qualities for which he's best loved, both in the series and in real life, are his loyalty, dedication to duty, determination, stalwart protectiveness (in a good way), chastity, and frequently naive earnestness. Furthermore, his tendency to seek violent solutions whether or not they are appropriate drives off prospective matches (except Gauron, but that's because he's Gauron).
  • Coyote Ragtime Show: This is essentially Angelica Barnes's reason for chasing the rogue Mister.
  • Both played straight and inverted in Angel Densetsu, with the same character. More than one girl falls for the main character, who is exactly everything a Bad Boy is NOT. He is, however, seen as one by everyone else in the cast. Also either played straight or inverted with most other cast members. At one point, king of the Idiot Ball Kuroda tries to "save" Ryoko from Kitano, because he thinks she's suffering from this trope, and sees himself as the good guy. Ryoko, of course, likes Kitano because he's The Messiah and despises Kuroda (who poses as a bad boy). Oh, and Ryoko is quite the bad girl herself, but poses as mostly harmless. Confused yet? Because that's just the start of it.
  • Good lord, Freya from Immortal Rain. She has no interest in Rain, who stays by her side to comfort her, plants a garden of beautiful flowers to cheer her up, and generally does everything chivalrous and gentlemanly when it comes to her. And just to add to how horrible her taste is, she goes after Yuca, who is not actually all that friendly towards her, and is actually jealous of how Rain liked her, being unhealthily obsessed with Rain himself. (Seriously, how could she not notice?) This ends very badly for Freya, as Yuca ends up murdering her - presumably as a form of Murder the Hypotenuse, and feeds her flesh to a paralyzed, unconscious Rain.
  • Shugo Chara milks this trope for all it's worth with Ikuto, the Not Evil, Just Misunderstood/Troubled but Cute/Tall, Dark and Snarky/Jerk with a Heart of Gold/Punch Clock Villain who has hordes of swooning fangirls in the real world and manages to fluster the heck out of the heroine, even though she officially has a crush on another boy.
  • Van of Gun X Sword is rude, lazy, and oblivious to other people most of the time. He still gathers an Unwanted Harem. One suspects that his harem members like him at least in part because of this trope. (In the series' comic Omake, the puppet version of Wendy explicitly invokes this trope, claiming that "girls are more attracted to bad boys.")
  • Karim of Jyu-Oh-Sei is madly in love with her superior, Zagi, despite his role as the psychotic murdering bastard with not a hint of respect for either his opponents or his allies. He hits her, manipulates her emotions, and completely rejects her when she disobeys a single order.
  • Not quite invoked in Eureka Seven. The trope is referenced in one of Renton's men's magazines, which advises readers to be a little wild with girls and not to come across as too friendly. Renton just keeps on being nice to Eureka, however, since romance in Eureka Seven series mostly works on the principle of Single Woman Seeks Good Man. The sole exception is Talho's relationship with Holland, but even that is tempered by her insistence that he act more maturely.
  • This is subverted in Fist of the North Star, where Mamiya falls for Rei only after Kenshiro redeemed his violent attitude by saving his long-lost sister, Airi, and revealing him as actually a good person. Sadly... Rei dies before he can share the romance with her.
  • Hime-chan, while disguised as Daichi (a boy with a huge fanbase in the school due to his dequilent nature), tries to tell Hikaru, his number one fan, to stop liking him because he's dangerous...which only makes her like him even more and declare that he is extremely "cool".
  • In the "Cupid's Day" episode of Code Geass, Shirley says that it is her duty to "reform" Lelouch because she believes that he's "a failure as a person".
  • In Nichijou, Weboshi admits to liking Nakanojou, the boy with the mohawk. What she doesn't know, nor believes when told, is that Nakanojou is actually a very sweet guy. His mohawk is simply his natural hairstyle.
  • Christie from Drama Con falls for Matt. A subversion, as he's really not a bad guy at all—just socially inept and very cynical.
    • It's more or less the same deal in Fruits Basket, when Tohru falls in love with Kyo—also socially inept and terribly cynical, but then, he may have a right to be, just a little (not only was he was born under the influence of a curse that turns him into a cat whenever a girl embraces him -- or into a monstrous cat-like beast if he ever removes his Bhuddist rosary -- as soon as he graduates from high school, his own family is going to lock him up for the rest of his life).
  • Gender flipped in Seirei no Moribito, when softhearted healer Tanda pines after fierce female bodyguard Balsa. And she likes him too!


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Played with in Fantastic Four; Sue Storm is endlessly pursued by Bad Boy Anti-Hero Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner of Atlantis, who isn't exactly shy about letting her know that he has the hots for her, but consistently turns him down in favor of geeky, slightly clueless Reed Richards. Needless to say, the two men don't exactly have a warm friendship. Depending on who's writing her, Sue reacts to Namor's attentions with either barely-concealed interest (which is closer to the spirit of the trope, although she nevertheless continues to spurn him out of loyalty to Reed) or outright irritation. Interestingly, sometimes Reed is on the badboy side, though when Reed is bad, he's more of a Corrupt Corporate Executive than a 100% Bad Boy. There are times when Sue admits that she feels attraction for Namor.
  • Arguably, the reason so many of the females in Batman's rogues gallery (and superteams) wind up having so much subtext with him. For the villain females, he's just good enough to spark that bit of "I could have something better" but definitely dark enough and bad enough to be Not So Different. The same is true in reverse for the hero females...he's a hero, obviously, but of a very different variety than the primary-colored icons they're otherwise surrounded by.
    • Batman is also an example of this trope inverted; he tends to go for Bad Girls (Catwoman, Talia Al Ghul, etc). In fact, this tendency was enough to convince him in "Batman RIP" that the woman he was becoming attracted to was The Mole out to betray him to the bad guys - she was a bit too nice for him...
  • Teen Titans: the Original five have this kind of thing going on. Donna could choose between the nice and shy Aqualad, funny Kid Flash, dashing Robin, and badboy Speedy. Guess who did wind up with her. Note, back then, Dick Grayson was pretty clean cut. Now, all girls flock over his dark looks, messy hair, and issues with his daddy (Bats). In short, he didn't got booty until he dropped out of college, grew his hair, and started to talk back to Batman.
  • Jean Grey in Ultimate X-Men flat out tells Wolverine that, regardless of Xavier's belief in redemption, she doesn't trust him or want him at the Mansion: he's been scarred by the horrors of his Dark and Troubled Past and his work as a former government assassin, and she can't read his mind to confirm her obvious suspicions that he's not nearly as committed to Xavier's cause as he pretends to be. Wolverine doesn't really have to say much else: two panels later, they're making out and she's in bed with him in the next issue.
    • Cyclops, while a boy scout in general, definitely fits the 'troubled aloof stoic' bad boy criteria, and is the first to point out he's dangerous to be around. Even before his recent descent into Anti-Hero badassery, he's had a steady stream of women pursuing him, including Jean Grey, Madelyn Pryor, Psylocke, and Emma Frost.
    • Averted with Colossus. Kitty Pryde has pursued him pretty much from day one, and he's as good a boy as can be found.
  • In the Sonic The Hedgehog comic, Fiona Fox performs a Face Heel Turn because she prefers Sonic's Alternate Universe Evil Twin Scourge over the real hero.
    • Many female characters have shown some form of attraction towards Shadow the Hedgehog by now, even if he hasn't had a real girlfriend.
  • In Superman, the gender-flipped version applies. Laid-back Clark Kent is head-over-heels for sharp-tongued, moody army brat Lois Lane and ignores cheerful, flirtatious blonde Cat Grant and sweet, caring Girl Next Door Lana Lang. Of course, Lois's heart of gold turns out to be far sweeter than those of either of the other two, so Clark's probably just very perceptive.
  • Parodied in Widgey Q Butterfluff, where the closest the comic's Sugar Bowl setting has to a bad boy is poodle-poking, overgrown juvenile delinquent Buster, and Widgey still finds herself inexplicably attracted to him.


Documentary[edit | hide]

  • The BBC documentary The Human Animal proposes a reason this trope exists in simple biological terms. The short of it is that the dangerous aspects of the target are sexual advertisements. According to the documentary, on a biological level, women are looking for signs of protective prowess (IE: who will help protect and rear offspring). Displays of aggressive behavior are then read as signs of this prowess (cultural signs of this vary greatly, but the intended messages are the same). Once partnered up, however, the female will actively work to prevent the male from displaying further (the 'redeeming' aspect of this trope), so as to prevent the male from gathering further attention from the opposite sex. There's a lot more to human courtship, of course, mostly because, unlike other primates alive today, sex among humans lasts more than 8 seconds.


Fanfic[edit | hide]

  • Demon of Justice Zigzags and plays with this trope. Rami pines after the scary handsome demon and gets dressed up to say goodbye to him...because it's just like what's in the stories. She doesn't mind that he's going, though, because she can't picture him settling down and having kids with her. Wufei is just thankful to get away from her, and is, in fact, prone to hiding in Nantaku until he left the village.
  • For Good, a Buzz Lightyear of Star Command series, is perhaps best known for the romance between Erin, the protagonist, and Warp Darkmatter, the Evil Emperor's right-hand man. In the introductory fic, Breakaway, their relationship actually begins innocently enough, at least on Erin's part. Warp comes off as less of a villain and more as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, several nameless girls and Michikyuu Kanae react like this when Kyon is in delinquent mode, breaking up an illegal photography ring with Yakuza links.
  • Shinji and Warhammer 40 K: anyone who asks themselves how it's remotely possible for any woman to crave Shinji Ikari, whether in the S&WH40K world or any other, directly invokes this trope in reverse, by definition. Then comes their reaction after reading it.


Films -- Animated[edit | hide]

He's a tramp
He's a rounder
He's a scoundrel
He's a cad
He's a tramp
But I love him ...


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • Days Of Being Wild: The main character Yuddy/York played by Leslie Cheung
  • Bachelor Party (Tom Hanks). The band they get for the party sings the song, "Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boys?"
  • In the original Star Wars trilogy, Leia goes for Han Solo (a near-perfect storm of bad-boy beauty) over Luke Skywalker. Then, of course, we find out the true nature of Luke and Leia's relationship, and breathe a collective sigh about the "ewww" moment from which this trope has saved us. She still kissed him, though.
  • Subverted in Spider-Man 3: when he gets possessed by the symbiote and becomes a 'bad boy', Peter Parker thinks that he's God's gift to women, but the various looks of exasperation and even disgust he gets from most of the women he encounters tell a very different story - probably because, contrary to expectations, he's still a clueless geek, only, now that he's 'evil', he's just an obnoxious and arrogant one. The seventies disco moves and overparted hair style don't particularly help matters. Ironically, all of the women he does manage to charm were already attracted to the 'good' Peter anyway.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean plays with it, in that Good Girl Elizabeth has a Good Boy (Norrington), a dyed-in-the-wool bad boy (Captain Jack Sparrow), and Will, who falls somewhere between them, to choose from. By choosing Will, she gets the best of both worlds.
  • In the crime epic, Goodfellas, Karen admits that seeing Henry pistol-whip her neighbor with a loaded handgun turned her on, where as most women she knew would've gotten out of the relationship quick.
  • Ginger proves to be this in Casino. While it's debatable if Sam 'Ace' Rothstein was a bad boy or not, Ginger definitely disrespects him in favor of genuine bad boys. First: her ex-pimp, Lester Diamond. Later: Sam's best friend, gangster Nicky Santoro.
  • In the comedy Don't Tell Her It's Me, Shelley Long helps her nebbish brother, Steve Guttenberg, construct an identity as a "dangerous" biker from New Zealand in an effort to sweep another woman off her feet.
  • In the classic 80s teen movie The Breakfast Club, popular 'princess' Claire falls for rebellious 'criminal' Bender.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera. Amber Sweet has resolved sexual tension with Grave-Robber and unresolved sexual tension with Luigi, who is also undeniably bad. Shilo isn't immune to Grave-Robber's bad-boy charms either. It's implied in Needle Through A Bug that he's grooming her to be his protege.
  • Gender-inverted in Crazy/Beautiful. In this film, it's the poor Latino kid who's the responsible one with the promising future, and the wealthy Anglo girl who has the bad drug habit and truckload of emotional problems. Every adult in the film warns the former to stay away from the latter—including the girl's own father—but, of course, she turns out to simply be a Lonely Rich Kid and everything works out, thanks to The Power of Love.
  • Jenny from Forrest Gump is a rather blatant example of this. For much of the movie, she keeps moving from one abusive lowlife to another, before returning to the protagonist.
  • James Bond series:
    • Bond. However, he also steals girls from guys (and psycho lesbians) who're definitely worse.
    • Deconstructed in Casino Royale; Solange married Demitrios and regrets it, then briefly hooks up with Bond, remarking on how they're both "bad men" and how she loves this kind of guy because they're "so much more interesting" than "nice guys". Later in the film, her association with the man who helped orchestrate the bomb plot (Demitrios) and the man who foiled it (Bond) are what gets her tortured to death.
  • Grease: starts out as a Classic Good Girl Wants Bad Boy. Sandy is as wholesome and sweet as possible; Danny is not. Then it's played with, as he tries to become a jock to get her, while she's learning how to be a bad girl to get him...
    • Grease 2, "Cool Rider". Michelle Pfeiffer's character somehow resists the charms of the sweet British boy, because she's "...lookin' for a dream on a mean machine/ With hell in his eyes/ I want a devil in skin tight leather..."
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin plays with this in a scene in which the titular character is calling out his friends with a slightly angry attitude, at the same time, a girl he met earlier observes him from a distance and swoons over him while telling another girl: "He is such a Bad Boy." Earlier, she fell for him when he was following his friend's advice to act like "David Caruso in Jade".
  • Parodied/subverted in Mystery Men: Roy (a.k.a Mr. Furious) would very much like to be a bad boy, and struts around making a fool of himself acting like one in the hope of impressing Monica, the waitress on whom he has a crush. Monica, for her part, is never anything less than dismissive of him...until the point where he finally just starts acting like the sweet nice, guy he ultimately is at heart, at which point she begins to warm to him.
  • Step Up: Played straight with Tyler in the first film.
  • Parodied in the modern version of Bedazzled, Alison says how she wants a sensitive man who can understand her feelings. The Devil agrees to make Elliot the most sensitive man on Earth. Then she ditches him for a Jerkass.
  • In Plunkett and Macleane, Lady Rebbecca falls for notorious highwayman Macleane.
  • Iron Man: Tony is a rich jerk who goes through women like candy. And yet women keep on coming after him.
    • Because he's rich. And he looks like Robert Downey, Jr.. He could be a saint and he'd still be beating them off with a stick, this trope is just a bonus for him.
  • Top Gun, with Charlie falling for Maverick, definitely invokes this, considering...well, his nickname says it all.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Apparently, even some boys want bad boys, even if they're a Villainous Crossdresser wearing fishnets and high heels.
  • Legally Blonde: "Dorky" David, who has a Masters degree in Russian Literature, a PHD in biochemistry, is going to Harvard Law (strange mixture...), gives homes to Somalian orphans, and is fairly attractive, is getting turned down by a girl. Elle overhears and comes over, pretending to be a Woman Scorned, screaming at him about how he never called her back and broke her heart. The girl is immediately more interested (although how much of that is because Elle claims David broke her heart and how much of it is because Elle claims David is very good in bed is open to debate).
  • Heavily deconstructed in Heathers. In this case, the bad boy is a complete psycho, murdering three of the popular kids and intending to blow up the entire school and pass it off as a group suicide. The girl who wants the bad boy soon realises the mess she's got herself into and how much better her life would have been without him.
  • Discussed in Roger Dodger

Roger: "Ask any woman, What's the single most attractive quality a man can possess? And what do they invariably answer? - Sense of humor... And yet, if two lean, mean, play-by-their-own-rules... motorcycle-riding men strolled up to this booth... and beat the shit out of us two humorous guys, right, and asked you out for a ride, you would be weak at the knees."
Andrea: "Well, actually, guys who ride cycles are pretty sexy. "

  • In One, Two, Three, the daughter of a Coca-Cola executive falls in love with a Commie from East Germany. And, during the Cold War, no one was worse than a Commie.
  • Val Kilmer's version of Batman had the movie's designated girlfriend Dr. Chase Meridian, played by Nicole Kidman, flip-flopping between Bruce Wayne and Batman, depending on who she thought was more fucked in the head at the time (and getting a twofer? HUGE bonus for her).
  • Dead Poets Society: Pitts remarks on this trope to try and get Knox to forget Chris: "All the good ones go for jerks. You know that."
  • The cops in Superbad "arrest" McLovin after the party, remarking, "That's gonna get you so much ass!"


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Erika Griffin's novel, 'The One Who Waited, the main characters, Alice and the Boogeyman.
  • Anthony Trollope uses this in several of his novels. The most well-known is probably in the Palliser series, where Lady Glencora falls in love with ne'er-do-well Burgo Fitzgerald, leading her guardians to arrange a marriage between her and stodgy Plantagenet Palliser. However, at least three other novels have a wealthy refined girl fall in love with a rogue.
  • Subverted, or at least rather well Justified, in the romantic subplot running through Lois McMaster Bujold's Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, and Memory. Elli Quinn is deeply in love with the marginally sane mercenary Admiral Miles Naismith and will leap at the chance to marry him, while the prospect of becoming the consort of Lord Vorkosigan of Barrayar horrifies her, even though she knows both men are one and the same. The twist is that Lord Vorkosigan's comparatively subdued public persona is the least of her problems with the latter fate (the phrase "Dirtball barely out of Feudalism" came up in response to the first marriage proposal).
  • In War and Peace, Natasha is engaged to Good Boy Prince Andre. But after Andre puts the marriage off for a year to please his father, Natasha is seduced by Bad Boy Anton, causing her to break off her engagement with Andre and also to very nearly elope with Anton. Though Anton's plans are foiled, it does succeed in permanently wrecking Natasha's relationship with Andre.
  • Deconstructed in Wuthering Heights; the all-consuming love between Catherine Earnshaw and brooding bad-boy Byronic Hero Heathcliff is intensely passionate, but it's also clearly depicted as being quite unhealthy for the two (not least because the two are almost brother and sister) and intensely destructive. Especially because, when he is rejected in favor of another man, Heathcliff's response is to embark on a single-minded crusade of vengeance that ends with the ultimately pointless ruination of not only both lovers, but almost everything and everyone else around them. Meanwhile, Catherine's marriage to the kind and loving Edgar Linton (whom she does not love) is described as being reasonably happy - at least, until Heathcliff shows up. There is also Isabella Linton, who wanted a bad boy, married Heathcliff, and got what she wanted in spades...
  • Jane Eyre: it works out well for Jane and Mr Rochester, probably because he's not as much of a Bad Boy.
  • Deconstruction in Clarissa, as the titular character gets sick and bored of Lovelace's bad traits extremely quickly and he ends up harming her very badly, ending in her suicide and his guilt-ridden, death-seeking personality.
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Helen Huntingdon (Graham), the heroine of Anne Bronte's novel, marries the libertine Arthur Huntingdon, in part because she believes that she can save him from himself. She quickly discovers otherwise. In the process, Bronte makes some pointed jabs at both Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester.
  • Zachary Gray, the thinking woman's Bad Boy, turns up in multiple Madeleine L'Engle novels.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden is very disappointed to find out his friend, Karrin Murphy, is like this when she becomes attracted to mercenary Kincaid in The Dresden Files: Blood Rites, and it continues into the next book Dead Beat. Harry also realizes that Molly, his best friend's daughter, has these feelings for him—after all, he's the mysterious stranger in the duster who shows up out of nowhere, deals with dark things, and is the snarky badass to her dad's stodgy crusader. Harry then swiftly drives home that it won't be working like that. With some cold water.
  • Hand of Mercy's Clemael's temper allows him to backhand a semi-disabled woman into the nearest wall, but said woman is oddly ambivalent as to whether she'll end up with him.
  • In the short story collection The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, Genre Savvy Puss-in-Boots is well-aware of this trope and suggests that the best way to woo an unattainable woman is to: "convince her her orifice will be your salvation, and she's yours!"
  • In the Mexican novel El Zarco: The Blue-Eyed Bandit from Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, a beautiful young woman called Manuela is futilely courted by a nice, decent, and hard-working man called Nicolás, when, in reality, she is in love with the eponymous character, who is the leader of a notorious gang of murderous bandits called "Los Plateados". Later, she decides to run away with him, and it's then that she sees all the atrocities they commit.
  • Often used in Agatha Christie's novels, but particularly Taken at the Flood (1948), to the point where the heroine, Lynn, appears downright insane. She is engaged to Rowley, a simple farmer, but is attracted to newcomer David and his rudeness, aggression, and general ass-holery. However, when she goes to inform Rowley that she's going to elope with David, Rowley is so furious that he almost strangles her to death. When it turns out that David has been the real killer all along, Lynn resumes her engagement to Rowley, having been rather turned on by his murderous impulses. There's a good chance Christie is poking fun at this trope.
    • Christie returns to this trope in Nemesis, in which she has Miss Marple state:

Young women like bad lots. They always have. They fall in love with bad lots. They are quite sure they can change them. And the nice, kind, steady, reliable husbands got the answer, in my young days, that one would be "a sister to them" which never satisfied them at all.

  • Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame is all about this. A beautiful girl has a choice between a beautiful temperament (Gringoire), a beautiful mind (Claude Frollo), a beautiful heart (Quasimodo), and a beautiful face (Phoebus). She goes for Phoebus, even after he demonstrates that he may not be marrying material, on the grounds that he is good looking and he rides a horse.
  • Rook from Havemercy, and maybe even Caius Greylace, if the fan base is anything to go by.
  • Rachel from The Hollows is subject to this trope time and again.
  • Dulcinea Anwin from Tad Williams Otherland would like to be a Bad Girl. She's a Cracker, considers herself a seasoned veteran of the criminal underground, and has been lacking in physical company for a while now. Then she meets John Dread, who is baddest of the bad. So what should she do but fall in love with him and follow him around, sinking deeper and deeper into his web? After all, how bad can he really be, right? Until she manages to hack into his system and find out what he's really like. At which point, she has a Heroic BSOD and tries to turn him in, only to be shot in the stomach and left to die.
  • In Stephen King's Carrie (and the film adaptation), the Alpha Bitch Chris dates the bad-boy delinquent, Billy.
  • Sense and Sensibility has this, with Marianne having to choose between the somewhat shy, music-loving, thrity-five year-old Col. Brandon or the younger, dashing, and adventurous Willoughby. She, of course, chooses Willoughby, who eventually dumps her to marry some other girl for money, causing her to try to commit suicide by getting ill. Marianne eventually agrees to marry Col. Brandon.
  • Austen's Mansfield Park may be tied with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as the ultimate Take That at this trope. Everyone expects the heroine to be flattered by the Handsome Lech Henry Crawford's attention. Isn't she excited to become his conscience and redeemer, to be the one who fixes him, and turns The Hedonist into a Ladykiller in Love? No. Her cousin, however, did fall for the bad boy, and Reality Ensues.
  • Subverted in Making History by Stephen Fry; a quiet, shy college boy is set up on a date with a girl who eventually dumps him for the resident Jerk Jock. Except the quiet shy boy is actually gay and in the closet, and rather relieved that he doesn't have to keep up the awkward pretense of being interested in her.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Oberyn has an endless supply of women (and men) for his bed.
    • Daenerys swoons over the dashing badboy Daario even though she realizes that he's a murderous, opportunistic sellsword. On the other hand, she repeatedly fends off the advances of her devoted and loyal bodyguard Jorah because he's middle-aged, plain and not particularly exciting.
  • The Carrie and Bone subplot of Ander Monson's Other Electricities plays with this, going into detail about Carrie's motivations for wanting Bone, the community's reaction, and the tragic results.
  • In Shanna Swendson's Enchanted Inc., Katie muses on this trope when she sees how powerful Owen is, and how attractive it makes him. She's never been attracted to bad boys, but maybe the thrill is the dangerousness, not the actual evil; she explicitly wonders if the potential is enough or you have to do actual bad things to qualify as a bad boy.
  • The 39 Clues: Amy Cahill falling for Ian Kabra.
  • Irial from Wicked Lovely.
  • The tongue-in-cheek book Nice Guys Don't Get Laid has this as its central thesis. It's basically a "Faux To" Guide for nice guys on how to become a bad boy.
  • The landlord's daughter, Bess, from Alfred Noyes' poem The Highwayman has a Star-Crossed Lovers relationship with the titular character.
  • Snowfur and Thistleclaw in Warriors.
  • In Death: Eve and Roarke's relationship seems to be this. Fortunately, he returns her feelings and does have good qualities to go with the bad. Coltraine and Alex Ricker had a relationship like this, but she broke it off when she realized that he considered his criminal business more important than her.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: in the book Final Justice, two characters are introduced, and their names are Little Fish and Stu Franklin. Both of them are genuine bad boys. Countess Anne de Silva forms a relationship with Little Fish, and Isabelle Flanders forms a relationship with Stu Franklin. By the book Cross Roads, however, it becomes painfully clear that both relationships are falling apart, because Little Fish and Stu Franklin are becoming increasingly cold, distant, and disinterested in their girlfriends. The Vigilantes discover that the two men are with Complete Monster Henry "Hank" Jellicoe. They also find out that the two men are cold-blooded murderers who have killed a number of people. The Vigilantes are more than happy to have them punished!
  • Carol Birch's theory about Margaret Catchpole, the real-life eighteenth-century servant-turned-criminal, in Scapegallows. Margaret spends the entire novel pining over her beloved, William Laud, a smuggler who is terrible with money, increasingly violent, and often absent. Even she occasionally recognizes that he's not worth the effort.
  • This trope is discussed a overall three times in the novel Youth in Sexual Ecstasy, first with the protagonist and his friends when they notice that while women tend to fall over the rough-looking dangerous types, ultimately what wins out is being considerate, treating them "like a lady" and sweet-talking (all of which may or may not be sincere), later the doctor in sexual dysfunctions outright denies it, and then the protagonist's mother admits that there is a grain of truth in the trope as she experienced it on her youth.
  • In the Jeeves and Wooster story "The Spot of Art", Bertie lampshades this trope with regard to his romantic rival, who, sure enough, ends up engaged to the girl by the end of the story.

"Moreover, this bloke is one of those strong, masterful men. He treats Gwladys as if she were less than the dust beneath his taxi wheels. He criticizes her hats and says nasty things about her chiaroscuro. For some reason, I've often noticed, this always seems to fascinate girls, and it has sometimes occurred to me that, being myself more the parfait gentle knight, if you know what I mean, I am in grave danger of getting the short end."

  • At the end of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Katrina van Tassel (the girl schoolteacher Ichabod Crane falls in love with) ends up marrying hunter Brom Bones (who constantly made fun of Ichabod) after Ichabod was mysteriously carried off by the Headless Horseman one night.
  • I flinch to bring it up, but Edward is this for Bella in Twilight. However soft he is as avampire, he is still a brooding predator who could kill her in seconds - and often wants to. She prefers him to the good ol' boy Jacob, until he takes a change for the dangerous and then she's conflicted.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Fonzie, token bad boy of Happy Days and girl magnet. Of course, he became less and less "bad" as time went on, due to the writers twigging to the fact that he was becoming a role model.
  • Full House: Jesse nurtured the bad boy/nomad musician persona until he settled down and got married.
  • Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, got a lot of his Girls of the Week thanks to his Philadelphia street cred as a breath of fresh air in a world of rich, preppy good boys. He was only "bad" by contrast, though, being otherwise a pretty standard protagonist.
    • In one rather hilarious episode, Will actually tries to be as "bad" as possible to get a really hot girl who's obsessed with dating the meanest, baddest guy around. This episode seemed to be making fun of this trope as well the concept of an overprotective father, as the girl seems, at least partly, to have developed this fixation due to the extremely limited interaction she has with boys her age (her father, a professor of psychology, is known as 'Mr. No' when it comes to his daughter).
  • Drake and Josh features an episode where textbook Nerd Eric becomes popular (especially among the girls) after a rumor spreads that he beat up Drake.
  • Every one of the Camden girls' boyfriends on 7th Heaven, with few exceptions (none prominent enough for this contributor to name), were bad boys. The Camden boys were even aware of (and made their own love lives difficult over) this trope.
  • Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer once tried to kill his girlfriend (Harmony) because he found her annoying. He spent most of their relationship either manipulating her, threatening her with violence, insulting her, or forgetting about her completely (except when he wanted something from her). He was arguably less of a bastard with Buffy and Drusilla (although still a bad boy), but both women were manipulative and abusive towards him (not to mention, possibly stronger than him) and he probably wouldn't have been able to get away with it. Buffy seems attracted to him mostly for this reason and Drusilla ditches him specifically because she doesn't think he's evil enough.
    • Angel is a perfect example of this, too. He has the broody bad boy look, a Dark and Troubled Past, and if he's truly happy, even for a second, he's going to start mass murdering people. Spike might be a Serial Killer, too, and goes on about how Evil Feels Good, but even without his soul, there are limits to how evil he is willing to be. Angel doesn't have any such limits and his re-ensoulment was less stable than Spike's.
    • In the pilot episodes, Xander's friend, Jesse, was a clueless geek who could never get Cordelia to notice him...until he was turned into a badass evil vampire, at which point, she couldn't keep her eyes off him.
    • And didn't Vampire Xander from the Alternate Universe seem hotter?
    • Not to mention Riley Finn, who specifically avoided this trope...and hell had no fury like the Internet Backdraft that came from THAT.
      • Riley's attempts to get Darker and Edgier only hastened the downfall of their relationship. Hearing Dawn say that Buffy doesn't get all miserable over him the way she did over Angel + whatever the frak was going on in Riley's head = visiting disgusting vampire brothels.
    • Buffy is pretty much an extreme case of this trope. The main character only ever seems to date two guys who remains on the human side of "unholy, Exclusively Evil abomination against God", one who is pretty much loathed by the fanbase, the other she almost completely ignored. It's even lampshaded by both Buffy herself and Spike, especially when she dated wholesome Riley.

"You like men who hurt you. You need the pain we cause you. You need the hate. You need it to do your job, to be the Slayer."

    • When Giles was younger, he was a smoking, drinking, violent, vicious mage called Ripper. This side of him crops up from time to time, such as when he uses the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique or displays his skills as a crook, and when a spell reverts him back to his Ripper days, Joyce is all over him.
  • Subverted in The Tenth Kingdom. Wolf does get the girl in the end, but being a bad boy didn't help, and after his disastrous initial encounter with Virginia, he spends a good part of the series reading self help books to reform himself.
  • In Veronica Mars, after seeing that he does have a softer side, Veronica finds herself making out with her high school's "obligatory psychotic jackass", Logan. Their relationship redefines the phrase "on-again, off-again", especially in the third season.
    • Particularly jarring is the finale, where Veronica still appears interested, despite the fact that he only recently beat the stuffing out of her current, genuinely nice boyfriend, "Piz", for suspecting that he posted a sex tape online...despite Piz having no reason or inclination to do so. Logan's response to any situation is to start hitting it, really. Apparently, that's endearing.
  • Lost: in-story, we have Kate as an example of how girls want bad boys, with Sawyer playing the Veronica to Jack's Betty, although Kate herself is the distilled female version of Troubled but Cute.
  • Heroes: taken to hilarious extremes in the show proper: Maya doesn't seem to think of Mohinder in that way when he's a nice guy scientist, but when he injects himself with a Super Serum that gives him an array of superpowers and starts giving off a dangerous aura, she wastes no time getting into bed with him!
  • House seems to get this a lot. Out of the four women in his life who were on the show, three had some form of romantic interest in him (not counting Amber, although some say...). Stacy was his girlfriend. Cuddy has a thing on him, and Cameron had a crush on him.
  • To a point, Danny on CSI: NY...he wasn't a complete bad boy, but had some bad boy qualities surfacing in his backstory and onscreen now and then. Granted, he'd settled a lot by the time he married Lindsay.
  • The IT Crowd featured an episode in which Roy tried to demonstrate the validity of this trope after a bad date, by posting an online lonely hearts ad consisting largely of abuse. He later struggled to maintain his bad boy persona during a date with the woman who answered. Then a genuine bastard showed up. Guess who the woman left with?
  • In Growing Pains, it's the Seaver parents who are convinced that other parents would not like their children to hang around their troublesome son. In latter seasons, partially due to the actor's religious conversion, Mike's "bad boy" persona has been toned down considerably. One may see it as Mike becoming mature.
  • Sean Slater on Eastenders; he's an unpleasant, bullying, smug, and vicious borderline sociopath with hardly any redeeming qualities whatsoever...who, despite pretty much being an openly nasty piece of work, has to beat women off him with a stick.
  • Charlie Stubbs on Coronation Street who, if not quite as sociopathic, was nonetheless a thoroughly obvious nasty piece of work whom women seemed to find irresistible. Unluckily for him, he ended up with a woman who was a full blown sociopath.
  • Gilmore Girls. Rory Gilmore, over the course of the series, seems determined to date the baddest boy in the series - first dumping wholesome Dean for Jess. After Jess leaves town, she ends up back with Dean, who is a significantly darker character, given that he's cheating on his wife with Rory. Later, she again dumps Dean for Logan, who is a member of a secret society and a rebel against the wealthy society of his upbringing.
  • In Smallville, upstanding farmboy Clark Kent puts on his new class ring and gets a rebellious attitude, which the new girl, Jessie, loves and even Lana falls for.
  • Hyde and Jackie in That '70s Show.
  • Gender-reversed in the Seinfeld episode "The Little Jerry", where George falls for a female prison inmate. Of course, he's desperate and, simultaneously, afraid of commitment. On the plus side: conjugal-visit sex. And eventually, one better than that: "fugitive sex!"
    • There is also the episode "The Little Kicks", where Elaine forbids an intern or temp working for her to get close to George, which immediately turns him into a forbidden fruit to her. He picks up on this and starts pretending to be a bad boy in order to get into her pants, and it all works out for him, until they get caught filming a bootlegged movie and he starts crying as they are arrested.
  • Gossip Girl: Blair's true love was made out to be Chuck, who takes bad to another level - he did try to rape two separate characters in the pilot episode. In the later half of the season, after Lily and Rufus become official, Jenny deflects Chuck's mean comments by reminding him of what he did to her, including a mild threat of what would happen should she ever chose to tell Rufus. This does prompt an apology from Chuck but, contrary to what one might expect, Jenny receives this not with a gushing sentiment that all is forgiven, but with a stony (if stunned) silence.
    • Also, Carter Baizen in seasons two (Blair) and three (Serena), though the latter season seems to be pushing for Carter as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold rather than a true bad boy
  • Dexter picks up a stalker who is in love with him largely because he is an unrepentant serial killer.
    • Rita and her first husband. To a lesser extent, Rita and Dexter. Apart from being a serial killer, he had an affair and was constantly too busy working and murdering people to commit to her. Lila and Lumen both seemed attracted to Dexter specifically because they knew there was something not quite right with him.
  • Molly in Scrubs hangs a lampshade on this trope.
  • iCarly: Carly Shay highlights this trope in some of the episodes.
    • The central plot of iDate a Bad Boy. Griffin is a delinquent who stole the motorcycle that Carly bought for Spencer. After having a short Slap Slap Kiss incident, Carly falls in love with him, much to Spencer's chagrin and Freddie's jealousy. Carly and Sam even gush at the fact that Griffin is full of scars and he punched a hole in the wall due to anger. But all of his bad boy rep went downhill when Carly discovered his deep obsession with plush toys.
    • In iStage an Intervention, Carly is impressed that goody-two-shoes Freddie "could be so bad" when not only does he inform her that he already knows all the "bad luck" he's been having was caused by Sam, but that he managed to pull a secret prank on Sam as revenge.
    • Gender Flip in iMake Sam Girlier. Sam asks Carly to teach her how to behave like a real girl to catch the attention of her eye-candy, Pete. While Sam does a good job in behaving "girly", Carly gets attacked by a bully, which triggered Sam's Unstoppable Rage. Unfortunately, Pete saw how Sam wrestled with the bully, but it turns out he likes a girl "who kisses well and kicks butt as well".
  • The Good Doctor Sara Tancredi of Prison Break is the poster girl for this trope, both in-series and in her back story.
  • Parodied in a sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look featuring a 'wacky' popular historian whose wife wishes he would be more like the "angry, edgy young historian" he was in his youth. After a brief flashback, in which we see the younger version of the historian in all his wangsty, leather-jacketed glory, the historian not unreasonably protests that he was a "tosspot" back then.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed". Ship's Historian Lieutenant Marla McGivers falls in love with the charismatic and forceful former dictator Khan Noonien Singh, even though he mistreats and uses her.
  • Alex and Dean in Wizards of Waverly Place, although, it being a Disney Channel show, his badness is limited to wearing a leather jacket, liking fast cars, and going to class when he feels like it. In fact, Alex is arguably "badder" than him on several levels.
    • Alex is a good gender swapped example of this. All of her Cool Loser Anti-Hero status moves put her closer to the standard male example than the usual Defrosting Ice Queen label, since she hits every (G-rated) High School trick that a boy would have to pull to be this, especially during Season 2.
  • Jax and Tara in Sons of Anarchy.
  • Discussed in one episode of CSI: Miami:

Calleigh: Bad boys aren't so cute up close, are they?

  • The women on The Sopranos have a bad-boy compulsion that's virtually suicidal, especially for Tracee and Adriana.
  • Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother consciously plays with this trope so much.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch parodied the Phil Donahue Show, with all the guests as women with abusive boyfriends. The sketch ends with a nice man in the audience telling them they should find a man who truly appreciates them, but they tell him to sit down because they're more interested in the Jerkass behind him who's berating his girlfriend. When he grabs the mic and starts bad-mouthing them, they immediately fall for him, including the lesbian guest, who asks if he has any sisters like himself.
    • During the sketch Phil, lists all the wrongs one woman's boyfriend committed. She still defends him:

Phil Donahue: Now, your last boyfriend... [reads cards] ....got drunk, totaled your car, with you in it! Which left you in intensive care for over a year and... [Phyllis starts to cry] ...during your painful convalescence he never visited you, he withdrew your life savings, spent the money on other women! Held orgies in your apartment, got you evicted... [lifts his head, stares effortlessly and shakes it in disgust] ...and yet I understand you still live with this man.
Phyllis Sykes: [Suddenly smiles] Well... you would really have to meet him!

    • This troper recalls a joke from one of the news report segments in which Bahrain was cited for women's rights abuses. The joke ended with the reporter saying, "So, look out Bahrain, 'cause the more Bahrain treats women like dirt, the more women will love Bahrain."
  • Cook from Skins is made of this trope, although there are more than a few instances where it's suggested that he deliberately plays up to this image.
    • And Tony from the 1st generation, who is a complete Jerkass towards his girlfriend, Michelle. Also, he sleeps with another girl AND tries it on with Maxxie in the episode where they go on a school trip to Russia, yet Michelle still can't stop herself and goes back to him.
  • Degrassi plays this straight time and again, but subverts it when bad goes too far. Sean, Craig, Jay, Spinner, Lucas, Johnny, and Eli have all carried the badboy image at one point. Most of them lose the girl when they are too bad (Sean, Jay, Lucas, Johnny, almost Eli), or the girl was trying to save them in the first place (Craig, Spinner, Johnny).
    • Emma seems to only want bad boys. There's Sean, Peter, Jay, and Spinner.
  • On Yes, Dear, Jimmy advices his eldest son, Dominic, to stop catering to his date's desires, after witnessing the first date, in which Jimmy sees him being treated as less than equal. When Jimmy's wife finds out about this, Jimmy states this trope as his belief, whereas his wife disagrees.
  • On Dark Oracle, this is the cause of Nice Girl Cally's relationship with Smug Snake and ex-Big Bad Omen. Luckily, she's far from blind to his many, many failings, and calls him on them all, eventually leading to Redemption Equals Death. Thoroughly averted by Big Bad Wannabe Vern, whose Goth look, bad attitude, and lack of social ability make him an outcast, completely unable to get a date.
  • Hilariously parodied on Everybody Hates Chris. In the episode "Everybody Hates Bad Boys", nice guy Chris tries to woo his crush, Tasha, by emulating Slava Slav, a misogynistic rapper and obvious Expy. He mistreats and utterly insults nearly ever girl he encounters, and they all show sudden interest in him, and he even manages to get Tasha to go out to a family dinner. All was going well with his "bad boy" plan until he accidentally yells at his mother, and proceeds to regret it immensely. You really have to see it for yourself.
  • Played with in The Monkees episode "The Wild Monkees". The four boys try to adopt "tough" personas in order to impress some female bikers. They immediately become cowards again once the girls' actually tough biker boyfriends enter the picture.
  • In Only Fools and Horses, Cassandra claims that she doesn't like that Rodney drinks and is violent. She is quickly seen through and smiles when asked if she fancies Rodney.
    • In an earlier episode, Del Boy manages to convince Rodney that the Girl of the Week likes bad boys, so he dresses like the Fonz and acts like James Dean on their date, only to terrify her to the point of tears when they get chased in the van.
  • Invoked in Secret Girlfriend by Chad, the current boyfriend of Jessica, the titular character. His Jerkass behavior turns out to be a Jerkass Facade that he doesn't like putting up, but thinks he needs to because of this trope. Apparently, it's working, or at least not hurting—he's been Jessica's boyfriend for two years, and may have lasted longer if not for the protagonist's arrival, relegating him to Romantic False Lead status.
  • This is a major story arc in the UK version of The Office, as well as the first couple seasons of the US version, with Dawn engaged to Lee and Pam engaged to Roy.
    • In Pam's case, it's less this trope than her simply believing she doesn't deserve anyone or anything better for herself.
  • In Parks and Recreation, Ann was dating irresponsible, lazy, and dimwitted Andy, despite the fact that Andy frequently and obviously takes advantage of her. When they finally do break up, he then starts drawing the attention of April. To be fair, though, he treats April a lot better than he ever did Ann.
  • The Highwayman in the Young Blades episode "Four Musketeers and a Baby" builds his image around this trope by targeting coaches with women in them, flirting, and giving them scarves as keepsakes. It reaches the point where women write ballads about him and ride around in a carriage, trying to get robbed. It's implied that he gets pardoned in the end, in part because Queen Anne herself fell into this mindset.
  • Noah's Arc: This was Eddie's motivation for cheating on Chance with a more "thuggish" guy.
  • True Blood - the most obvious use of this trope is probably Bill and Sookie: Bill is a controlling, manipulative, partially reformed serial killer who broods a lot and identifies Sookie as his property on more than one occasion. Sookie is instantly more attracted to him than the approximately equally good looking Sam, who treats her with a lot more respect and is a much nicer guy (despite doing creepy things now and then). Then there's Eric (of course), who (as well as being an unreformed serial killer) is a drug-dealing former nazi who tortures people in his basement. Sookie and the female fanbase seem to be exceedingly attracted to him, especially after his hotness upgrade in seasons two and three. And Franklin is a psychotic mass murderer who repeatedly raped one of the most vulnerable characters on the show, but out of the show's universe, the female fans have sewed him up a nice pair of leather pants.
    • To a lesser extent, this trope fits almost every male character on the show except Hoyt and Terri. Jason is a chronic womanizer, Sam sexually harrasses the female barstaff and has no compunction about stalking Sookie (in canine form), Lafayette deals drugs and looks down at everybody, and no vampire on the show has ever completely stopped murdering people.
    • Lampshaded by Sam's girlfriend Luna in the fourth season; she admits that she "became a cliche" when she fell in love with her ex-husband Marcus, a biker werewolf.
  • Played with to the point of inversion in Castle; Richard Castle has the public reputation of a bad boy who lives a playboy rock-star life, but it's gradually made clear that this is mostly an act and he's a genuinely good and decent man when you get down to it. Kate Beckett, however, has the appearance of an upright and solid By-The-Book Cop, but is gradually revealed to have wilder Hidden Depths than would not be suspected from the initial appearances, and the more the fallout from her mother's murder is examined, the more a broken and darker character begins to emerge. It's also subverted in that, while it's hinted several times that Beckett may have a bit of a thing for bad boys, she only really begins to seriously warm to Castle when he shows his more mature and decent sides.
    • One episode, "Food To Die For", plays with this. The victim had a reputation for being a bad boy that slept around. He also got his foster brother's girlfriend pregnant. However, she rejected him because he was a bad boy. In her words, if she couldn't trust him as a man, she certainly couldn't trust him as a father. In this case, he was truly in love with her, to the point where he planned to quit his successful career as a chef, and spent two weeks in the cafe near where she worked, trying to get up the nerve to propose to her. Unfortunately, his foster brother found out and killed him.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 both played this staight and averted it. It's played straight with Dylan, the bad boy that several leading ladies pined for over the years (Kelly and Brenda as the most prominent examples). Originally Dylan was even planned to only be the troubled-kid-of-the-week, but the audience took to him him so much, that he was brought back as a regular. Averted with Brandon, who had a different girl pining over him nearly every week during the first seasons despite being one of the nicest guys ever...
  • This is something of a recurring theme with Britta Perry in Community, who's past romantic involvements seem to involve a long line of 'bad-boys', weirdos and damaged goods:
    • In the early seasons of the show, she had something of a Will They Wont They vibe with Jeff. an Amoral Attorney and allround Jerkass (albeit one with a deeply hidden heart of gold) culminating in the revelation that they'd been having a Friends with Benefits relationship in season two. They later dropped it, however.
    • In Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy, she has a brief fling with a guy who turns out to be a Balkan war criminal. Subverted, however, in that even for Britta this is going a bit too far.
    • "Competitive Wine Tasting" sees her begin to develop urges towards Troy after he makes up a story about being molested by his uncle to avoid feeling left out in drama class (long story).
    • Deconstructed in "Origins of Vampire Mythology", where Britta—previously established to have a thing for bad boys and messed-up losers—discovers an old boyfriend who works with a carnival is in town and ends up having to be restrained to prevent herself from flinging herself into an ill-advised sexual encounter which she will only end up regretting. Over the course of the episode, it's gradually suggested that Britta's urgings stem from severe self-esteem issues and that she initiates these relationships as a self-destructive way of validating her own lack of self-worth; when her friends are texting her as her boyfriend to try and throw her off, their increasingly nasty and dismissive text messages serve only to prompt increasingly pathetic and desperate responses from Britta, until a 'nice' text message serves to break the spell and cause her to dismiss the boyfriend as a 'loser'. Unfortunately, she happened to say this in earshot of Troy, who actually sent the message, hurting his feelings and prompting a calling out over how fucked up she and her relations with men both are by Annie.
      • Also deconstructed with the boyfriend, who—when we encounter him—turns out to be a fairly pleasant, laid-back and amiable guy, on the surface at least. It's suggested that this is why people are drawn to him despite the fact that he's apparently a jerk, since his laid-back attitude conceals his inner flaws and makes him a lot more engaging than he would be if he was just an asshole up front, as is common with a lot of depictions in this trope. It's also revealed that he brain damage which means he literally feels no shame, meaning that he also literally cannot help being an asshole whenever he feels like it.
  • Boy Meets World - Kidanova Shawn has a troubled home life and and somewhat of a "bad boy" image. However, the bad boy aspect of his character became less prevelent as the series went on, and was basically dropped by the time he gets a steady girlfriend in season five. There are also several times when Cory tries to impress girls by acting "dangerous", usually failing at it.
  • I Married A Mobster deconstructs this hard as the future wife starts off relatively ok (more or less) before being swept off her feet by the bad boy mobster to effectively live the "Push It To The Limit" montage from Scarface then the mobster is caught, sent to jail for life or close to it, leaving his spouse with a mountain of debt, bad rep and having to actually work again after years of living in a mansion with fast cars, parties, etc. to support herself and remaining family.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Garbage has a song titled 'Bad Boyfriend', featuring lyrics such as "And if you can't love me honey, come on, just pretend", and "It may not last but we'll have fun till it ends". The lyrics seem to be from the perspective of a bad girl, too.
  • Backstreet Boys had a song with the lyrics "If you want it to be good girl, get yourself a bad boy".
  • Angel and the Reruns performed a song called "Why do Good Girls Like Bad Boys?" in the movie Bachelor Party.
  • The (hilarious) DMX song "Good Girls, Bad Guys."
  • "Leader of the Pack", sung by girl group The Shangri-Las was a Billboard #1 hit in 1964.
    • Twisted Sister did a gender-flipped cover of it in 1985, sung from Jimmy's POV. In this one, it's the girl who drives off and dies in an auto accident.
  • It's part of the reason why the groupie goes off with the hot mega-rock star Pink in The Wall. And then, of course, Hilarity Ensues as she finds out just how bad he really is, as he proceeds to trash his hotel room and nearly kill her in the process.
  • Stephanie's Irresistible:

I know he's wrong
But his arms feel so right
He's a magical potion
Tearing up my emotions
What if I see what this boy does to me?
Can't I simply forget him
Cause I know I'll regret him
I can't fight anymore

Wanted and adored by attractive women
Bountiful selection at your discretion
I know I'm diving into my own destruction
So why do we choose the boys that are naughty?
I don't fit in, so why do you want me?
I know I can't tame you, but I just keep trying.

  • MC Lyte's "Ruffneck".
  • Cobra Starship's "Nice Guys Finish Last":

Listen kid you hear them sirens coming for me
But when I get downtown she will already be
Posting bail in her favorite dress
Smiling at me because I'm no good

    • Cobra Starship also has "Good girls go bad"
  • The Cheer Up Charlie Daniels song "Too Damn Rock and Roll" plays with the trope. The girl wants him, but she won't follow through.
  • Ludo's Roxy has a theme like this, although it's more like "All Girls Want Jerkasses":

Oh Roxy, why won't you love me?
Is it because I'm American?
Or maybe it's because- I don't grope you and your friends
Like the fool behind you now dancing halfway down your pants.

  • Alexandra Burke likes Bad Boys.
  • The song "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga could be interpreted this way.
  • Britney Spears' "Toxic" practically defines this trope. "You're toxic, I'm slipping under, a taste of your poison paradise", clearly from the perspective of a bad boy wanter!
  • Professor Green's song "Just be Good to Green" invokes this.

I'm a bad boy, something every good girl needs.

I'll forgive, and forget. If you say you'll never go. Cause its true. What they say, its better the devil you know.

  • Jewel's song Foolish Games is a Deconstruction that analyzes this from the perspective of a girl who's been deeply hurt by her Jerkass of a boyfriend, who's described as having many of the aspects of this trope.
  • Good Girls Like Bad Boys by Jadyn Maria.
  • Bowling for Soup has "Girl All the Bad Guys Want", which is about an uncool guy who likes a bad girl who dates bad boys. So...PlayedStraight and two or three kinds of inverted?
  • Can't Leave 'Em Alone by Ciara.

I can't leave 'em alone
Tried that good boy game
But the dope boy's turning me on
So bad, I love that, I can't leave 'em alone

  • Bad Boys by Wham!.

Boys like you, are bad through and through/Still, girls like me, always seem to be with you!

  • Be Hit by Smog.

It seems that my sensitive touch
Could be given by any old schmuck

  • "Becoming More Like Alfie" by The Divine Comedy is about a former Nice Guy who's decided to become a Bad Boy after striking out once too often with girls who like the latter over the former.
  • "Biker Like An Icon" by Paul McCartney is about a girl who's infatuated with a rough-and-tough biker and follows him around, hoping to meet him. It's deconstructed, however, since "the biker doesn't like her", and when they finally meet up, it's implied he rapes and murders her.
  • Rule Breaker by Ashlee Simpson is this.
  • Judas by Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga admitted this was about her then-exboyfriend, a notorious bad boy. The video is also clearly about the bad boy—the betrayer—in the group.
  • Mr.Wrong by Mary J. Blige. In the song, she gets along with her "bad boy" boyfriend good but he hurts her a lot. She tries to leave but can't get herself to do it because she loves him. This can be interpreted either as a love song or sad song.
  • Gender Flipped in Apache's "Gangsta Bitch".


Mythology[edit | hide]

  • In Classical Mythology, Aphrodite's passionate (and lasting) affair with the dangerous, bloodthirsty war-god Ares makes this trope Older Than Feudalism. Though the fact that her husband Hephaestus was hella ugly and the marriage wasn't even her idea probably helped too.
  • Loki (yes, the guy who tricked a blind god into killing his own brother) is married to the giantess Sigyn. For his crime, he was bound with the entrails of his sons to three rocks, and a snake constantly drops venom in his eyes. But Sigyn still stands by him and catches the venom in a bowl. Sometimes, she has to empty it, then we get earthquakes. Doesn't that sound like a hybristophile following her object of affection into prison?
    • Kind of, but not really. It's more like the wife of a rebel trying to ease her husband's pain when he gets sentenced to an eternity of punishment by the "evil" state.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • If a woman in WWE ever undergoes a Face Heel Turn, there are good odds that this is how she'll do it. Examples include:
    • Stephanie McMahon, who turned heel after marrying Triple H. In her post-heel-turn promo, she admitted that she was always attracted to him, but her feelings were only spurred on by her desire to spite her father.
    • Tori, when she ditched Kane for X-Pac.
    • Years later, Lita would leave Kane for Edge.
    • Trish Stratus, who turned on Chris Jericho in favor of Christian after Jericho did a Heel Face Turn for her sake.
    • Layla choosing William Regal over Jamie Noble is another example, though she never really turned face in the first place.
    • Subverted, though, by Molly Holly's heel turn in 2001. Despite the fact that it showed all the qualities of the above angles, the fact that she left Spike Dudley for The Hurricane undermines the "bad boy" aspect since he's...well, a superhero. It didn't help that neither of them really did anything heelish at all beyond disapproving of The APA drinking beer, and immediately turned out-and-out face after the WCW/ECW Invasion angle ended. A much more definitive heel turn occurred for Molly the following year, with no bad boy in sight.


Stand Up Comedy[edit | hide]

  • Jeff Foxworthy mocked and Deconstructed this trope at the same time. He said that when women say they want a "dangerous" guy, they're usually thinking of some James Bond-type of dude, but if a woman did end up with a "dangerous" man, then the likeliest outcome would have them on an episode of Cops with her hanging out of the trailer in a tube top, screaming "Lock his ass up!"
  • Bill Hicks has a routine about this trope in which the "bad boy" is Satan and the woman believes I Can Change My Beloved. He has also recorded a song about it: "Chicks Dig Jerks". Both have a decidedly bitter tone.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In Grease, the "cool" girls, especially Rizzo, are attracted to bad boys, and the male lead, Danny Zuko, is a bad boy who resembles Arthur Fonzarelli. The main conflict in the plot is over Danny's "badness" and the "goodness" of Sandy, the lead female. Eventually, they end up meeting somewhere in the middle.
  • Assassins plays this for laughs by having Lynette Froome wax lyrical about how amazingly smart and beautiful Charles Manson is. Based on Real Life, as she was infatuated with Manson and tried to kill the President in his name.
  • In Spring Awakening Thea declares, "Melchi Gabor, he's such a radical! You know what the whisper is? He doesn't believe in anything! Not in God, not in Heaven, not in a single thing in this world!" Cue the other girls on stage sighing dreamily.
  • In The Importance of Being Earnest, Cecily falls madly in love with Jack's wayward brother without ever having met him because "a man who is very much talked about is always very attractive. One feels there must be something in him after all."
  • Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire chooses to stay with Stanley, who is violent, abusive, and beneath her social class. She reasons that what goes on between the sheets makes everything unimportant. Even her sister Blanche flirts with him.
  • "Mack The Knife" Macheath in Kurt Weills The Threepenny Opera is an all-out sociopathic criminal. But that does not stop at least four girls from going crazy over him.
  • Zombie Prom sort of parodies this with The Hero, Jonny Warner. He has a motorcycle (like many bad boys), but the most rebellious thing he does is take the "h" out of his name, then tell Miss Strict he'd prefer to keep it out. Miss Strict and Toffee's parents still insist she break up with him. When she does, he is Driven to Suicide, then comes back as a zombie. Interestingly, once he does, it is suggested that he might have been a bit more rebellious than we thought (telling Miss Strict that he "used to hate [her]" and "could not be reached"), but, as a zombie, all he wants to do is return to school and take Toffee to the prom.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in Final Fantasy VII, when the evil scientist Hojo is surrounded by women at the beach. Played straight when you are told the reasons Sephiroth and Vincent exist.
  • Karen in Pokémon Gold and Silver explicitly states this trope.
  • In the original Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha mini-scenario that was included in the Triangle Heart 3 ~sweet songs forever~ fandisc, Chrono played the role of the villain and Nanoha eventually ended up with him.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: Bastila in the first game will fall for the male Player Character regardless of alignment, and has some comments before the kiss about how attractive his strength (of personalty, we assume) is.
  • This trope accounts for at least some of Squall's appeal to Rinoa in Final Fantasy VIII, although a lot of it also has to do with the fact that Squall is profoundly broken and Rinoa is strongly motivated to help people. Rinoa also dated Seifer in the game's backstory, but considering Seifer's aspirations to heroism and the fact that Rinoa herself was a member of La Résistance, he may not necessarily have come across as a bad boy at the time.
  • Chillingly deconstructed in Planescape: Torment. A young, naive girl falls desperately in love with a dark, mysterious stranger covered in scars...whose every word is calculated to manipulate her into being willing to do anything for him, because he needs a tool to sacrifice herself for him. He feels nothing for her but irritation for using his time. He is, after all, Practical.
    • Somewhat subverted in that he acted the part of Nice Guy at first and manipulated her more subtly. It's not until after she dies that she realizes the kind of guy he really was, yet still loves him anyway...
  • Oghren from Dragon Age Origins lampshades this, joking that Berserkers can get all the women they want because women are attracted to men who are mysteriously angry and sulk in the shadows. (Not that it works in his case...)
    • The trope is discussed in a conversation between Alistair and Leliana, where Alistair ponders why Zevran is so successful with the ladies.

Alistair: Do women go for that sort of thing?
Leliana: Where I come from they do, oh yes.
Alistair: Huh. Really? I see.

    • In the expansion, Dragon Age Origins Awakening, Oghren comments that Nathaniel Howe's tall, dark, and broody appearance must make him very popular with women.
    • Oghren himself confides in the player that the Berserker habit of 'standing still and looking mysteriously angry' goes down well with the ladies
  • Lampshaded in Dragon Age 2. Hawke of either gender can comment on Anders' "sexy, tortured look", upon learning about his experiences with the spirit of Justice. Varric tells Fenris that if he looked any more broody, women would swoon at his feet.
  • Yo-Jin-Bo has Tatsunami Ittosai as one of your possible options. He actually betrays the heroine to the villains, becoming The Mole for a substantial section of the game, but can be redeemed courtesy of the The Power of Trust, and has some of the most emotional endings in the game.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Shepard can invoke this trope to explain why Kelly finds Thane alluring. If Shepard is male, Kelly says that that's a dirty stereotype, which just happens to be true in her case. If Shepard is female, Kelly asked if that includes her. Femshep can reply that dangerous men fit right into her dangerous life.
  • In City of Heroes, mook types known as Skulls are often shown with girlfriends who you can't attack, however, if you initiate combat with the Skulls, the girlfriend will almost immediately dump them.
  • Avoided entirely in the female route of Persona 3 Portable. Of the men the female protagonist can romance, Akihiko Sanada's aloof nature has caused him to be pegged as a Bad Boy with plenty of fangirls, while he is, in fact, a generally all-around nice guy (as well as being hopelessly awkward when it comes to girls), Ken is eleven, Ryoji is a Ladykiller in Love and, while he's supposed to bring about The Fall, he really doesn't want to. And Shinjiro Aragaki? Is not only nice to her from the very start of his Social Link, a good part of said Social Link is showing that he's not really a jerk at all. His love scene is not only completely optional (available after maxing his Social Link out), but a rare male case of But I Would Really Enjoy It. The female protagonist has to be very persistent with her feelings.
  • In Guilty Party, both dialogue and cutscenes seem to suggest that nefarious Mr. Valentine, the "Shakespeare of Crime", does not lack for feminine affection. He even seduces one female culprit into working for him! Several others seem to have crushes on him.
  • Fallout: New Vegas opens with Benny shooting the Player Character in the head. Later on, they can give this trope as an excuse while seducing him. It should be noted that he is (understandably) Squicked out by the offer, but eventually relents.
  • Deconstructed in Last Window. Margaret fell in love with her husband George knowing fully that he was an evil man. Eventually, he became a criminal and the only thing keeping them together was their shared guilt of his crimes. When he murdered a friend of theirs, she decided she'd had enough and planned to kill him, only to be beaten to the punch. Her knowledge of his crimes and the fact she allowed them to happen haunts her to this day. At one point, she describes herself as alternately loving and loathing him.
  • Marin from The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening seems to be this. If the player attacks a Cucco enough times while she's with you, she will scream out different remarks such as "Yes! Kill the chicken! Hit it! Do it MOOOOREEE!!!!" and "I love seeing cuccos in PAIN!! as if she's orgasaming over Link's badness.
    • Breaking pots in someone's house while she's with you will cause her to say that Link's a "Bad Boy!". Also, if you break most of the pots then don't break the last ones, she'll say something like: "Come on bad boy! BREAK THEM! MAKE THOSE POTS BURN!"...and you thought she was innocent....

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • This strip of Loserz.
  • Used in a gay sort of way with Abe & Kroenen, because, while Kroenen's not that mean of a guy, he's still an undead Nazi assassin.
  • Order of the Stick: Belkar kisses a girl, in the middle of massacring her party. End result: she's lying among dead bodies, saying, "My name's Jenny! ... Just in case you ever ... you know" Later, they do...you know. A possible justification is that she is a member of the Thief's Guild.
  • This strip of Freefall proposes a brilliant theory that not only explains this trope, but explains why there are so many of the jerks prowling the planet in the first place.
  • Discussed and subverted on this Something*Positive strip and those that follow it; Mike complains about this trope when seeing a girl he tried to go out with date another guy. Davan points out that, far from her being attracted to a jerk, it's more likely that she's dating him because he actually went to the trouble of asking her out—and furthermore, guys who misrepresent their intentions by pretending to be a girl's friend solely in order to date (or just have sex with) her, and then passive aggressively whine when she doesn't 'reward' them for being her friend (as Mike is currently doing) are hardly that great an improvement over the 'jerks' they complain about.
    • Interestingly, another storyline has Davan learn that same lesson himself in a Flash Back.
  • Used in a gender-reversed form in Digger. The first-born of Ed and his 'wife' Blood-eyes dies, as is normal for hyenas (go look them up on Wikipedia and you'll see why). However, Ed had himself been a rare surviving first-born, and had been encouraging hope in her. Afterward, she started beating him, while he refused to flee from the situation (as was his right) because he still loved her. It gets worse, though. Eventually, she and Ed conceive again; this child is born successfully, but she starts beating it, as well. Ed is now thoroughly exhausted, and rips Blood-eyes' throat out while she sleeps, leading to the destruction of his previous name and exile from the tribe.
  • Parodied (along with two of this trope's biggest popularisers) in this strip from Hark a Vagrant, in which there is clearly something wrong with Anne Bronte.
  • Mimi and Eunice explain the logic behind the trope.
  • Pibgorn: it's hard to blame her...The evil ones give me a jump-start too.
  • After working for Narbonic Labs for a while, Dave is starting to have this effect on some ladies. (It helps that he has a special bond with computers, and he's talking to an A.I.)
  • Ashley in Soul Symphony has a thing for local bad boy metalheads Charlie and Tom.
  • In Sinfest, [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2142 Satan's TV ad promises "Evil: chicks dig it!"

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in an issue of The Descendants that goes so far as having the same name as this trope.
  • In I'm a Marvel And Im ADC, Harley Quinn says that she wants a physically and emotionally abusive guy. She was trying to justify her canon love for the Joker, which is depicted as extremely unhealthy and, by the end of this season, ends up with the Green Goblin, who is an a-hole to everyone else but treats her well.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, Rosa Fiametta's attraction to JJ Sturn, despite the fact that he's pretty much an asshat (whilst they're dating, at least). This backfires on her in a major way.
  • The Being a Jerk Method of picking up women.
  • This parody from College Humor, showing what Zelda and Princess Peach discuss when the heroes aren't around.
    • And again in this video with Adam, Eve, and the Snake.
  • In one Whateley Universe story, Loophole's student advisor warns her about Kodiak, pointing out that, no matter how romantic the bad boys seem, they're still bad, and it takes more than one girl's love to make them good - so if she's trying to change him, she needs to be bloody careful (especially considering that Kodiak is one of the most dangerous people at Whateley, at least among the student population). Loophole takes it to heart and later informs Kodiak that she knows he only really respects people who can stand up to him - and she proceeds to fight him and (almost) win so he'll really respect her. It works.
  • Gender-inverted with The Nostalgia Critic. He likes aggressive women so much that he would be happy for the prison characters of Chicago to kill him, he picked up a psycho Stalker with a Crush partner when he was a teenager because he broke up with them three times, his prom date ended up raping him, he has a complicated relationship with The Nostalgia Chick, and he keeps getting with Rapey!Spoony.
    • And now that we mentioned her, The Nostalgia Chick. She gets manipulated into sex with Spoony, can't stop dating drunk guys, has a "history" with the Critic, and keeps on fawning over an asshole with no interest in her. Both of these can be considered deconstructed though, as the Critic's a "glutton for punishment" with very little power and the Chick herself is a Bastard Girlfriend with issues.
      • Also shows up on her list of the top ten hottest animated guys, where most of the list fall under this trope, whether into the "brooding tortured loner" version or the "horrible, horrible person that may or may not have a heart of gold in there somewhere who girls can have sexy fun rehabilitating" version.
  • Parodied in this Nigahiga video. It shows Ryan and Kevin trying to pick up girls by acting like total jerks.
  • The whole point of websites like Hot Chicks with Douchebags.
  • The website Art Of Manliness debunks this in a few articles and podcasts, explaining that women tend to go for confident guys and, often times, bad boys are more confident. It also mentions that those same bad boys don't last long and that a confident, yet well-mannered man is something for the guys to strive for. The site also critisizes the supposed Dogged Nice Guy for not being nearly as nice as he claims.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Kim Possible admits to Ron (in the appropriately titled episode "Bad Boys") that she likes the Troubled but Cute type. Ron sees a pattern, and attempts to cultivate a bad boy persona as date-bait. This coincides with a Transformation Ray that makes him a genuine supervillain. Ironically, not Disney, but Nickelodeon would grant Kim's wish in one of their magazine's prank comic books that announced she was dating...
  • ...Prince Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender, who has the scars, the attitude, and the fangirls to qualify, not to mention a familiar name. Even well before his Heel Face Turn however, the more he is seen outside of battle, the clearer it is that he is much less a bad boy than a brooding dork.
    • Don't forget that Katara also was quite goo-gaa over Jet in his first episode. At least, until she saw for herself that Jet and his gang were about to destroy an occupied Earth Kingdom village.
  • Extreme badass characters on various shows such as Brock Samson on The Venture Brothers and Korgoth from Korgoth of Barbaria seem to have an almost supernatural ability to court women. Even though both of them are kind of ugly, physique aside.
  • In the series X-Men: Evolution, Kitty (Shadowcat) is attracted to and dates the Troubled but Cute Lance (Avalanche), even though he tried to kill her in an earlier episode. The whole relationship was an homage to Claire and Bender from the 80s teen movie The Breakfast Club. Avalanche looks exactly like an animated version of Judd Nelson's Bender.
    • Also note that Pietro is the single most jerkass member of the Brotherhood, has repeatedly bullied and tormented the X-Men, primarily Evan, and, later, teased Kitty, was an irredeemable Dirty Coward, and, in some episodes, seemed like a budding sociopath. This has not stopped him being able to date FOUR girls at the same time.
  • Spoofed briefly in Dilbert; Alice gets involved with a prison inmate. When his appeal goes through and he is found innocent, she promptly dumps him.
    • Similarly spoofed in the episode where Alice falls head over heels for Bob Bastard, a disfigured and evil testing engineer. That is, until Dilbert (somewhat unwittingly) reveals what he's really like...At the very least, everyone (save Dilbert) fell for him.
  • Yin of Yin Yang Yo ignores Coop the chicken when he's in his normal geeky state, but when he's tainted with evil, she's mad about him [this also goes for other males in their world. She finds evil "dreamy"].
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Mr. Burns acquires a girlfriend who is attracted to "bad boys", and finally dumps him for her former boyfriend - pretty criminal Snake Jailbird, causing much confusion for Mr. Burns: "I don't understand, Simpson! I'm a bad boy! I'm completely evil! I once blotted out the sun!"
    • In the episode where Lisa falls for Nelson, this trope is discussed on the DVD Commentary, with those present ruefully concluding for all the nice guys out there that, 'it's nice to be a nice guy, but with the ladies... steal a hood ornament... otherwise you'll have to wait to be someone's second husband'.
    • In the episode "Bart's Girlfriend", Rev. Lovejoy's daughter, Jessica, is attracted to Bart's "Bad Boy" status after a dinner from the Lovejoys have gone awry:

Jessica: [Walking up] You're 'bad', Bart Simpson.
Bart: [Plaintive] No I'm not! I'm really -
Jessica: Yes you are. You're bad... and I like it.
Bart: [Suave] I'm bad to the bone, honey.

    • When Kirk van Houten was imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, he found himself becoming an object of affection to a group of women who thought he was guilty.
  • This trope is inverted in Futurama, where Amy is in love with the sensitive Kif. Her parents disapprove of the fact that Kif isn't "manly enough" and try to hook her up with the more stereotypical bad boys. After failing to impress Amy's parents, Amy assures Kif that it's a good thing that Amy's parents don't like him, which raises the question, is it the trope that's inverted, or the meaning of 'bad'?
    • In "Proposition Infinity", it turns out that Amy still can't keep her eyes off of bad boys or flirting with them. This causes Kif to break up with her and Amy starts a "robosexual" affair with the biggest bad boy she knows, Bender.
  • Gender inverted in Re Boot with the relationship between Bob and Mouse. Early episodes showed a certain degree of UST between them, but we knew Bob's OTP was with Dot and Mouse found her love interest with Ray Tracer, the web surfer.
  • Jazz in Danny Phantom fell for the motorcycling Rebel-Without-A-Cause type Johnny 13 after he rescued her, the results of which had her acting rebellious as well. Of course, he's really a ghost planning to entrap his equally dead girlfriend in Jazz's body. Creepy.
  • There's an episode of The Powerpuff Girls where Buttercup develops a crush on Ace from the Gangreen Gang who, naturally, upon noticing, decides to suck up to her to get her on his side while the rest of his gang try to kill her sisters.
    • In a later episode which shows the girls as teenagers, all three flirt with the Rowdyruff Boys.

Bubbles: We can't talk to them! They're bad.
Blossom and Buttercup (excited): We know!

Wonder Woman: No. No dating for the Batman. It might cut into your brooding time.
Batman: One: dating within the team always leads to disaster. Two: you're a princess from a society of immortal warriors; I'm a rich kid with issues... lots of issues...

  • Rather extreme example: Harley Quinn in Batman the Animated Series is crazy in love with The Joker. Even before he slowly takes her sanity, Dr Harleen Quinzel is attracted to the Joker. It's hard to get more "Bad Boy" than a sociopathic, mass-murdering clown...
  • Discussed Trope in Family Guy when Quagmire (who is only a Chivalrous Pervert towards Meg and is an implied rapist otherwise) explains that the more a woman is treated like crap, the more interested she'll be in you.
    • In one episode, Stewie realises the way to get Olivia to go out with him is to treat her like crap. It works.
  • In one Slacker Cats episode, Eddie seduces a female cat by pretending to be a hardcore bad boy, this proves too much for him because, while he was always a bit of a jerk, he was never as bad as she wanted. Eventually, he tries to prove how evil he is by robbing a baby panda, but it backfires and, eventually, she leaves him to date Dooper, the local homeless cat (who she considered more "bad"). But due to the Reset Button, this never lasted after the episode.
  • In Kick Buttowski, Kick has a crazy stalker in Wacky Jackie. He also has gotten Kendall (who has a boyfriend already) to fall hard for him.
  • On American Dad, one episode has Hayley fall for a Saudi terrorist who is torn between his mission and his love for her. Actually an Invoked Trope--he isn't a terrorist at all, he just uses that schtick to get American girls to sleep with him.
  • Gwen in Ben 10 Alien Force gets one towards Kevin, someone she wouldn't even considered talking to before her Girliness Upgrade. Partially subverted in that she seems more appreciating of his softer side, and usually gets pissed off by him acting like a jerk or doing illegal deals.
  • The ending of The Barn Dance. Poor Mickey Mouse.
  • On The Looney Tunes Show, when Bugs tried to find a way to break up with Lola Bunny, he disguised himself as a woman warning Lola to break up with him or have her heart broken. It ended up not working because she then thought Bugs was a bad boy.