Created By: ginsengaddict2January 10, 2012 Last Edited By: ginsengaddictJune 4, 2013
Troped

Heroic Seductress

Woman who uses sex and sexuality for heroic purposes.

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Main
Page Type:
Trope
Sex often has a bad reputation in fiction. Often times, the only characters allowed to have any sort of sex appeal are not the ones we're meant to root for. Character types like The Vamp and the Femme Fatale run amok, doing their evil work, ruining lives and corrupting men into doing nasty things.

But not every sexy girl in fiction is evil. Some of them are downright heroic; and not in spite of their sexiness, but because of it. These are the ladies who epitomize Sex Is Good. They're the ones who use sex as a tool or means to achieve a goal, the same way The Vamp or Femme Fatale might, the only difference being that their goals are... well, not evil.

Here are a few ways the trope can manifest:
  • Sex as a bargaining chip: A night in bed with the heroine to get what she needs to complete her quest or supplies for the town she's trying to save, etc. etc.
  • Sex as a distraction: Taking advantage of the Male Gaze, allowing the heroine's accomplices to complete a task without interruption.
  • Sex as espionage: Getting into bed with people who have high clearance levels, or even the Evil Overlord himself, then using that position to get information or just remove the threat entirely.
  • Sex as encouragement: The heroine beds someone as a way to get him/her into a heroic state of mind. Bonus points is she also brings him over to the good guys side.

Compare Good Bad Girl.

Contrast with The Vamp, who uses sex to corrupt. Also contrast with Femme Fatale, who uses sex to manipulate for purely selfish, often villainous ends.

Frequently crosses with Hooker With A Heart Of Gold, Ethical Slut and High Class Call Girl.

Every example of female-initiated Sex Face Turn featured someone in this role.

Subtrope of Sex Is Good.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In The Vision Of Escaflowne, when Allen Schezar is locked up by his king, Princess Millerna comes down to the dungeons, seemingly trips and Shows Some Leg to the guard, asking him to check her foot. The blushing guard bends down to investigate and gets a Tap On The Head from Allen's lieutenant Gaddess.

Comic Books
  • Black Widow started off as a villain but did a Face Heel Turn and started working for SHIELD. She still uses sex to get information out of SHIELD's enemies. It is part of her "specific skillset" after all.

Film
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. CIA agent Felicity Shagwell seduces the villain Fat Bastard in order to implant a Tracking Device in his buttocks.

Literature
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, Dayna Jurgens of the Boulder Free Zone goes to Las Vegas to infiltrate and spy on Flagg's organization. She sleeps with Flagg's right-hand man Lloyd Henreid as part of this mission.
  • Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel Oath Of Fealty. Tony Rand, the chief engineer of the Todos Santos arcology, needs to come up with a plan to rescue someone from police custody. He's talking over his plans with a woman named Delores Martine. Because of problems in his personal life he can't concentrate and starts to lose control of himself, so Delores repeatedly seduces him to calm him down so he can think.
  • Francesca in The Shadow of the Lion uses her position as a high-class courtesan to end a deadly family vendetta and to further the education (in all sorts of ways) of prince Manfred.
  • A lot of problems in the first trilogy of the Kushiels Legacy series are solved by having the High Class Call Girl protagonist, Phedre no Delunay, find the right person to sleep with. This ranges from seducing an on-the-fence admiral to infiltrating the harem of a horrific dictator.
  • "Mary" From Robert Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" is walking death with hands/feet, with knives, and with guns. Lots of guns. Every of the guns. But her principle weapon is her sex appeal, which "Sam" is happy for her to use on him, but which is more useful detecting aliens.

Live Action TV
  • The episode "Mirror, Mirror" from Star Trek The Original Series shows Lieutenant Uhura get minxy with Mirror-Sulu, so that he doesn't notice a warning light that signals transporter tampering by Chief Engineer Scott. Once the danger is past, Uhura switches off the sexy.
  • Inara Serra in Firefly.
    • In the series as a whole she is a minor example. Her status as a Companion granted the Serenity crew a level of respectability, allowing them to get around more easily.
    • In a full-blown moment of the trope, her involvement with the son of the guy who runs Canton gave him the confidence he needed to stick up to his dad, and sooner or later when the responsibility passes to him, he'll rule with a gentler hand.
  • Lexx. Xev was not above using her libido to get what the crew needed. That she finally got the chance to satisfy said libido was of course an added bonus.
  • Chiana in Farscape.
    • At one point, the crew is short on food. When someone offers them what they need in exchange for a night with her, she is more than willing to go through with it for the sake of her crew.
    • On many other occasions, she's used her inherent sex appeal to extract information, or to keep attention on her and be a distraction while her teammates are working.
  • Game Of Thrones
    • Margery Tyrell. She's sexy and she knows it. And what does she do with her sexiness? Keeps Joffrey from being too cruel.
    • Shae counts to some extent, being Tyrion's main emotional support.
    • Ros is likewise skilled at using sex to get information. She feeds said information to Varys, who uses it to keep Sansa away from Littlefinger. This gets her killed.
    • Of Dany's many achievements, convincing an enemy general to assassinate his two co-generals and grant her control of his army, simply by being the sexiest woman he's ever met, is pretty close to this.
  • The Walking Dead. A minor example, and possibly a subversion. During the third season, the survivors are being terrorized by a man known as The Governor, whom Andrea just happens to be involved with. Knowing this, Carol suggests she take a page out of Jael's book; sex him to exhaustion, then impale his skull in his sleep. But after he's finally out, she can't bring herself to do it.
  • The heroine of the TV show Lost Girl is a succubus who uses her magical seduction powers to flirt information out of bad guys regularly, and occasionally knocks them unconscious with a kiss.
  • Battlestar Galactica
    • Mrs. Tigh may be a woman of questionable morality, but her liaisons with the Cylon Cavil were ostensibly to secure her husband's release from the detention center, where he was likely being tortured, and had lost an eye.
    • Baltar's Head-Six bounces like a pendulum between this and The Vamp every few episodes or so.
  • Emma, the protagonist of Once Upon A Time, did this for a living as a Bail Bond Investigator, prior to taking over as The Sheriff of Storybrooke. Admittedly, the only time she's ever seen on the job is during the pilot, but holy crap did that dress not work like a charm.

Mythology and Religion
  • The Bible
    • Jael: Invited a fleeing enemy general of an army who had oppressed her people for decades into her tent, shagged him into submission, then drove a tent peg through his skull while he slept.
    • For that matter, to a slightly less fatal degree, Esther: Used her charm, wit, beauty and sex appeal to get a king to marry her, so she could get him to countermand an order to kill a bunch of her people.
    • And to an even more fatal degree, Judith. Similar to Jael, oppressive enemy, uses her sexuality to get close to the guy, then kills him while he's vulnerable. She takes it a step further though... (See: Holofernes).

Video Games

Web Comics
  • In Key Chain Of Creation, seduction is Marena's favored tactic, though she is not above turning into an 8-foot tall werefox should that fail.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: Played For Laughs. The episode "Large Marge" has Homer Simpson get masticated by an angry elephant. The Springfield Police are ready to shoot the beast, but Marge realizes that the police are very likely to shoot Homer as well. To allay this, Marge flashes her enhanced breasts to the crowd, and the police stop to ogle and drool. This gives Krusty the chance to comment, "Check out those mogumbos." This key word stops the elephant's rage, and it spits out Homer intact.
  • Aladdin: Jasmine had her moment, keeping Jafar distracted long enough for Al to get the lamp back. Backfired, since Al was (rightly) too squicked out upon seeing her kiss Jafar to keep moving toward the lamp, losing a few crucial seconds.
  • Songstress Angel attempts to seduce Mok in Rock And Rule so that Mok will abandon his Evil Plan to summon a demon during a rock concert. Unfortunately, Mok is Ax Crazy, and laughs off the attempt, ordering his minions to "take her away."

Real Life
  • Sexual surrogacy is this. Taken from The Other Wiki:
    "A sexual surrogate is a member of a three-person therapeutic sex therapy team consisting of surrogate, client, and supervising therapist.[1] The surrogate engages in education and sometimes intimate physical relations or sex with a patient to achieve a therapeutic goal."
Community Feedback Replies: 65
  • January 10, 2012
    ginsengaddict2
    Bump - I'd take this to TRS, but the button to start a new topic isn't there.
  • January 10, 2012
    Oreochan
    TRS is full at the moment. You gotta sit it out a bit longer. Make a to do to take it there for the TRS.
  • January 10, 2012
    AP
    Comics
  • January 10, 2012
    ScanVisor
  • January 10, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
  • January 10, 2012
    X2X
    Video Games
  • January 10, 2012
    NoirGrimoir
    How is Inara this?
  • January 12, 2012
    ginsengaddict2
    ^ She uses her sexuality in the same way a typical Vamp would, and has been trained since birth to do so. The fact that she rarely uses that power outside of her job doesn't disqualify her. And she does try to sexually subdue Jubal Early. Doesn't work, but that's because Jubal's nuts, not because she isn't sexy.

    Other examples of Inara using her sexuality for heroic purposes? Distracting Atherton for a moment so Mal could stab him, instilling some confidence in the Magistrate's son which will likely lead to the freeing of all mudders on Canton, rescuing Mal and Zoe from the Paradiso feds (okay, so that was more her reputability than her sexuality.. but don't think she wasn't aware of the effect she was having on the crowd)...
  • January 12, 2012
    Damr1990
  • January 21, 2012
    ginsengaddict2
    bump
  • August 23, 2012
    captainpat
    Some of these examples need explanations.
  • August 29, 2012
    MorganWick
    Tagging this as needing a better description (though I'm not convinced this is splittable from Femme Fatale), because simply taking the description on The Vamp and changing the words around doesn't seem like it would make a lot of sense to me. The tactics The Vamp is described as using seem despicable enough that, even discounting any Sex Is Evil overtones, a "heroic" character using them would have to be an Anti Hero at best. I need detailed descriptions of what, exactly, some of these characters actually do to be convinced otherwise, because The Vamp isn't just "a woman who uses sex to get what she wants".
  • May 30, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Some of these examples are just "sexy woman who are good." Morrigan, despite being a succubus, never really uses her charms to do good. The Old Town girls in Sin City likewise don't seem to use their sex appeal to do good but rather because they're organized and strong and happen to be hookers.

    I do think Inara barely counts. She honestly uses her knowledge of psychology rather than sexuality on Jubal and the Magistrate's son, and her contribution to the Atherton fight really amounted to "HEY LOOK OVER HERE FOR A SECOND." But, her job as a companion does basically raise Serenity's "value" to get them clearance to land in places they otherwise wouldn't, so I guess she'd count.

    ... to be honest I don't think this trope needs to exist. But if it does, Ethical Slut needs to be mentioned.
  • May 30, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    There are way too many Sex Is Evil tropes. They're disproportionately represented, and this appears often enough to be worth including, if only to balance the scale a bit. I've done away with the non-examples and included the trope comparison you suggested. Any other examples?
  • May 30, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Jael and Judith need context. Jael looks downright villainous from the description.

    Bayonetta needs context. So does the Real Life example.

    EVA needs to be cut because subverting a subversion is just playing the original trope straight.

    Another question is what makes someone "heroic." Would, say, pity sex with someone count as an example?
  • May 30, 2013
    lexicon
    Another comparative trope that should be mentioned is High Class Call Girl.
  • May 30, 2013
    kjnoren
    No idea on how this trope will develop or if it's a good idea, but here are some possible examples:

    Literature:

    • Francesca in The Shadow of the Lion uses her position as a high-class courtesan to end a deadly family vendetta and to further the education (in all sorts of ways) of prince Manfred.
  • May 30, 2013
    Arutema
    Web Comic:
    • In Key Chain Of Creation, seduction is Marena's favored tactic, though she is not above turning into an 8-foot tall werefox should that fail.
  • May 30, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Oh also I think this would be a subtrope of Femme Fatale, not just a comparison. The question is whether it's distinct enough to split off from it or not.
  • May 30, 2013
    MissKitten
    The two video game examples tell me nothing on how they are the Heroic Seductress.
  • May 30, 2013
    XFllo
    Some of the examples need correcting Example Indentation.

    • Show: Something about the show and examples in general.
      • Example A is...
      • Example B happens when...

    This is incorrect, and most common mistake on the wiki.
    • Show: Example A
      • Example B


    I am also not entirely convinced this is tropeworthy on its own, but I lean towards yes. I agree that it would be sub-trope or sister trope to Femme Fatale.

  • May 30, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^^ I haven't played either game, so I have no idea either. I've never played a Metal Gear game and thus have no clue who EVA is, and Bayonetta can pretty much be summed up as "clothes fly off during power attacks against big monsters" which is a superficial example at best. That said, I've left them there in case someone who is more familiar with the games can elaborate.

    ^^^ How is it a subtrope of that? Sister trope, maybe - both are character types who have an affinity for sex. But I don't see how all Heroic Seductresses are also examples of Femme Fatale.

    ^^^^^^^ Made those changes.
  • May 30, 2013
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • A lot of problems in the first trilogy of the Kushiels Legacy series are solved by having the High Class Call Girl protagonist, Phedre no Delunay, find the right person to sleep with. This ranges from seducing an on-the-fence admiral to infiltrating the harem of a horrific dictator.
  • May 30, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Well, here's a kittenish seduction as a distraction ploy:

    Live Action TV
    • The episode "Mirror, Mirror" from Star Trek The Original Series shows Lieutenant Uhura get minxy with Mirror-Sulu, so that he doesn't notice a warning light that signals transporter tampering by Chief Engineer Scott. Once the danger is past, Uhura switches off the sexy.
  • May 30, 2013
    MorganWick
    More see-alsos and compare-and-contrasts: Show Some Leg and Sex Face Turn.
  • May 30, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^, ^^ and ^^^ Thanks for those. Got any more?
  • May 30, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    For those who have suggested this is a mere subtrope of Femme Fatale, one of the key features of that character type is moral ambiguity. This character type here is not morally ambiguous - the goals she employs sex toward are explicitly heroic. The counterpoint to The Vamp - no evil motives at all; no using sex to ruin lives or hurt people (though assassinations of evil people are included).

    The trope is distinct. Related of course; female sexuality is a key theme in both this trope and Femme Fatale, and also The Vamp for that matter. But the ways each character type uses sex is mutually exclusive, though a number of Femme Fatales have become this trope.
  • May 30, 2013
    StarSword
    The Metal Gear Solid 3 and Bayonetta examples need context.
  • May 30, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^ I just removed them. I've asked for context, but no one's offered it yet, so I'm guessing they don't count.
  • May 30, 2013
    XFllo
    When you are so keen on deleting Zero Context Example, there are more. Shae from Game Of Thrones says nearly nearly nothing. ZCE are my pet peeve as well, so I agree.

    Still lots of examples have incorrect Example Indentation (again, Game of Thrones) or are in natter mode. And examples should not be compared to each other, so the mythology examples should be rewritten.


    Btw, I just noticed the first comments about TRS. (Bump - I'd take this to TRS, but the button to start a new topic isn't there. and TRS is full at the moment. You gotta sit it out a bit longer. Make a to do to take it there for the TRS.) Is this a suggestion of a new trope, or does it mean to repair a misuse of another one?
  • May 30, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Okay, one life-saving boob-flash coming up:

    Western Animation
    • The episode "Large Marge" from The Simpsons has Homer Simpson get masticated by an angry elephant. The Springfield Police are ready to shoot the beast, but Marge realizes that the police are very likely to shoot Homer as well. To allay this, Marge flashes her enhanced breasts to the crowd, and the police stop to ogle and drool. This gives Krusty the chance to comment, "Check out those mogumbos." This key word stops the elephant's rage, and it spits out Homer intact.
  • May 30, 2013
    surgoshan
  • May 30, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    I don't see what TRS is here for.
  • May 31, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^ Ignore it - doesn't matter.

    ^^ Which category does that go in?

    ^^^ Played for laughs I imagine.
  • May 31, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ ^^^ I assume surgoshan was talking about the 1951 novel, so it would go under Literature.

    Added Namespaces to and italicized example work titles, re-arranged media groupings in alphabetical order, etc.

    Film
    • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. CIA agent Felicity Shagwell seduces the villain Fat Bastard in order to implant a Tracking Device in his buttocks.

    Literature
    • Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel Oath of Fealty. Tony Rand, the chief engineer of the Todos Santos arcology, needs to come up with a plan to rescue someone from police custody. He's talking over his plans with a woman named Delores Martine. Because of problems in his personal life he can't concentrate and starts to lose control of himself, so Delores repeatedly seduces him to calm him down so he can think.
  • May 31, 2013
    Koveras
  • May 31, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    This has some extensive overlap with Distracted By The Sexy. Of course, in this case, the distraction is deliberate, and is used as a ploy to aid the good guy(s). Distracted By The Sexy also covers non-aligned characters, such as the Subaru team in The Cannonball Run watching Marilyn Chambers in the old porn flick Behind The Green Door, which almost causes them to crash.
  • May 31, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^^^ Much appreciated, thank you. I've added your examples also.

    ^^ At last! A relevant Video Game example. Admittedly, it only applies if players choose to follow that path, but it applies nonetheless. Thank you.
  • May 31, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ That's RPG gameplay for you--you can do certain things but also have a few alternative paths. And as for rarity of VG examples, it's because a) sexuality is very underrepresented in video games that aren't mods (thanks a bunch, ESRB) and b) it's hard to pitch a game with a woman in the main role, but pitching a game where you play as a woman who initiates intimate relationships with men to advance the plot is a sure way to send the publisher packing.
  • May 31, 2013
    Larkmarn
    A Femme Fatale is a woman who uses her sexuality to her own ends (that's usually, but not always, morally questionable. The archetype is that she's mysterious and dubious, but it's definitely expanded).

    This is a woman who uses her sexuality to her own ends, but she's definitely a good guy. Definitely a subtrope.
  • May 31, 2013
    Koveras
    Well, technically, "Fatale" in "Femme Fatale" means "deadly", so the "morally questionable" part is all the way in the original concept.
  • May 31, 2013
    DracMonster

    • In The Vision Of Escaflowne, when Allen Schezar is locked up by his king, Princess Millerna comes down to the dungeons, seemingly trips and Shows Some Leg to the guard, asking him to check her foot. The blushing guard bends down to investigate and gets a Tap On The Head from Allen's lieutenant Gaddess.
  • May 31, 2013
    CaveCat
    • Minerva Mink from Animaniacs has this as her defining trait. Any male character who sees her will be reduced to a babbling idiot, a la the classic Tex Avery cartoons.
  • May 31, 2013
    Larkmarn
    ^^^ Yeah, she started out as more questionable but has since become much softer.

    ^ How's she this trope?
  • May 31, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • One rollicking motivator is used in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, where the "ladies" of The Chicken Ranch avail their services to the University of Texas football team at no charge if the team wins a berth in a Bowl Game. The Aggies have eight straight winning seasons. Coincidence?
  • June 1, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^^^ I must agree with Larkmarn. Your description of Minerva doesn't make her out to be heroic, just sexy and a bit coquettish. What does she she do with that effect she has on male characters? That's what determines whether she's an example or not.

    ^ Debatable. Definitely applies as "Sex as Encouragement" - but I'm dubious on whether "win football games for free hookers" goes far enough as a heroic goal.
  • June 1, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Literature

    In Stephen King's The Stand, Dayna Jurgens of the Boulder Free Zone goes to Las Vegas to infiltrate and spy on Flagg's organization. She sleeps with Flagg's right-hand man Lloyd Henreid as part of this mission.
  • June 1, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    It seems like the truest examples of this are in Literature. Kushiel's Legacy even has it as the driving force of the plot. Are there any examples from other mediums that take the trope to such levels?
  • June 1, 2013
    jbrecken
    The heroine of the TV show Lost Girl is a succubus who uses her magical seduction powers to flirt information out of bad guys regularly, and occasionally knocks them unconscious with a kiss.
  • June 1, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Don't forget namespaces. ;)
  • June 1, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Songstress Angel attempts to seduce Mok in Rock And Rule so that Mok will abandon his Evil Plan to summon a demon during a rock concert. Unfortunately, Mok is Ax Crazy, and laughs off the attempt, ordering his minions to "take her away."
  • June 1, 2013
    jatay3
    Scherazade from Arabian Nights.
  • June 2, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^ Need context.

    edit: And namespace I think.
  • June 2, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^ Scheherazade marries the king, but she never actually has sex with him. She just tells him stories.
  • June 2, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    Massively updated the description. Still needs work though; would like to move away from using contrast with Sex Is Evil and related tropes. Help, please?

    ^ So, does her sex appeal come into play in any way?
  • June 2, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Not really IIRC. The king didn't really care about the women's looks, only that they were virgins. The only way Scheherazade would fit this YKTTW is by smart-is-sexy measure, but that's really far-fetched. She won the king over simply by her smartness, not by turning smartness into sexiness and using that to charm him.
  • June 2, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    This is probably a question for the TRS, but is there any real difference between Ethical Slut and Good Bad Girl? The trope descriptions don't offer much differentiation between then.
  • June 2, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ IIRC, once upon a time Ethical Slut was defined as a character who takes Good People Have Good Sex as a moral imperative (and thus actively promotes sex among good people by having it with them), while Good Bad Girl is basically a woman whose promiscuity is not depicted as bad, subverting the traditional norm of chastity as a mark of virtuousness.
  • June 2, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^ So, in other words: one is "lets have sex because sex is awesome" and the other is "lets have sex because there's nothing wrong with having sex". That's a pretty flimsy difference, methinks.
  • June 2, 2013
    DracMonster
    Hey can this be named Seduced By The Light Side???

    (I'm not sure if I'm joking or not.)

    Seriously, it may need a different title, some of these are just the lady doing it once, not as a habit. Also, seems like it could be expanded to a Chivalrous Pervert and Casanova.

    A Good Cause For Seduction perhaps?
  • June 2, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^ I'm pretty adamant about this being a character archetype, so no. It's perfectly normal for characters who aren't primarily of a certain archetype to take on shades of the archetype. Though a better title may still be in order.

    Are there any examples of this that cross with Honey Trap?
  • June 2, 2013
    Koveras
    @ginsengaddict: I'm not really sure how Ethical Slut is defined right now, but the definition I recall was more of a "let's have sex because it will make your life (and mine) better". The point is to help the partner by having sex with them--which overlaps with "sex as encouragement" part in this YKTTW.
  • June 3, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    I'm not particularly concerned with the differences between ES and GBG for the time being. Both cross with each other and with the Heroic Seductress, until such time as the differences are sorted. I'm only curious if we can streamline the description a bit.

    Still not Honey Trap cross examples?
  • June 4, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    Bump
  • June 4, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    So, if no one has any objections, I'm ready to launch this. Quick question, though. Which Indexes does it need?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable