All Girls Want Bad Boys

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

Maybe Hollywood is tapping into the ancestral female animal instinct to choose the mightiest, strongest, toughest genes for their offspring. Maybe it's just because Good is Boring and Evil Is Sexy. Whatever the reason, in Hollywood, it's the bad boys the girls want.

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 as well. Add to that the fact that Evil is Cool, the Anti-Hero ranks as Bachelor of the Month.

All this, of course, tends to gloss over the fact that bad boys are bad, meaning criminally inclined, not good as friends, probably not too mentally stable, potentially abusive/physically violent, might have trouble keeping a legal job, and will most likely be 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 redeemable or not, use of this trope may cause 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 if the bad boy is a One-Shot Character. If the bad boy and or the girl are unimportant characters, they have a tendency to be Straw Characters.

This portrayal can sometimes be the product of Entitled to Have You, Standard Hero Reward or Nice Guys Finish Last on the part of good guy we're supposed to root for or the audience or the author. This bad boy is made to be a foil and show how "undesirable" the other options are. This can backfire if there are female audience members who have something else in mind. Ironically, their Fix Fic is likely to 1) make the bad boy look better and 2) make the nice guy look worse.

Sometimes the badness is an Informed Attribute, such as with the Lovable Rogue. It all depends on what the author wants to use this trope for. It's entirely possible for someone to look like a bad boy but not fit the above description. Sometimes a supposed bad boy who really isn't has to deal with the advances of a hyperactive Fangirl who doesn't know when to cut it out resulting in comedy at the "bad boy's" expense.

Interestingly, younger women are often portrayed as prone to this trope, while older, more mature, and wiser women (meaning 35 and older) seem much less receptive to "bad boy" vibes (maybe they learnt their lesson through painful experience or are simply mature enough to know better), although there are always exceptions (especially bored housewifes with marital issues). Can be portrayed as being either Genre Savvy or if the bad boy falls into the not really a bad boy category (especially if he is a main character) as a overly protective but well meaning mother figure for the girl.

For really bad bad boys, the Girl (either intentionally or not) may find herself becoming a Monster Fangirl or a Love Martyr at worst. The girl may also go to the other end and find what they are looking for is 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 their previous boyfriend.

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 little 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. In high school settings often found alongside All Guys Want Cheerleaders (its Spear Counterpart). Contrast Adorkable and Weakness Turns Her On, where more timid, sweet, and "uncool" characters are seen as attractive.

Despite the gendered name, it can also be gender-inverted or applied to same-sex couples.

Hybristophilia is this trope taken Up to Eleven.


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  • An advertisement for a brand of high-heeled shoes said shoes were like men. "The ones you want to take home with you aren't the ones you can live with."

    Anime and Manga 
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The anime version of Mamoru plays with this dynamic, since he's given a motorcycle and an Age Lift from high-schooler to college student while dating a middle-schooler. He's a snarky jerk to Usagi for a long time, but they don't progress beyond Belligerent Sexual Tension until he shapes up.
    • Played straighter with Naru and Nephrite. Naru knows he isn't a good person and is aware that he has tried to use her, particularly since he tells her as much. Yet she admits to a worried Usagi that she can't help loving him. Then Nephrite turns out to not be a monster... only to die in her arms.
  • Naruto:
    • Even after everything he's done, Sakura still has feelings for Sasuke. In Sakura's case though, it's a Deconstructed Trope: she's aware that he's broken and ruined beyond belief, and that the gruff yet inwardly kind-hearted boy she fell in love with is long gone... yet still can't help having feelings for him. In chapter 693, Sasuke mocks Sakura for this. He states that he isn't the least bit interested in her and admits that he has no idea why she has feelings for him, given everything he's said and done. Which is ironic, as both end up as a couple with a child, years after said lost kindness was restored by Naruto, their best friend they both had been neglectful towards.
    • 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. Sasuke needs only make the briefest of apologies to get her back on his side. She does vent her angst by pounding the snot out of Suigetsu, though.
  • Bad boy Yusuke in YuYu 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 bad boyness, never hesitating to bitch slap 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?!" It helps that (delinquent rebelliousness aside), Yusuke is actually surprisingly nice most of the time, especially as he matures as the series goes on.
  • 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:
    • Tenshinhan and Launch in the original manga. 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 foolish woman and her blasted child" 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.
    • Dragon Ball Z: 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.
  • Dr. Slump: Tsururin has an attraction for Taro, who is a rebellious teenager, troublemaker, and proud of it (although later he happens to be a police officer).
    • Gender inverted. Tsukutsun falls in love with Akane, who like Taro is a rebellious girl, breaks rules for fun and play pranks on many of the residents of Penguin Village.
  • 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.
  • 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 a All-Loving Hero 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×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 the 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 Dramacon 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, considering that 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 Buddhist rosary — as soon as he graduates from high school, his own family is going to lock him up for the rest of his life. As a result, a good part of his "bad boy" attitude comes from genuine psychological problems rather than him being mean just because.
  • Gender-flipped in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, when softhearted healer Tanda pines after fierce female bodyguard Balsa. And she likes him too!
  • Kyo Koi O Hajimemasu has Tsubaki Kyota. Despite acting like a delinquent and switching girls like he switches shirts, he is the most popular guy at school.
  • Toyed with in Eyeshield 21. Marco from the Hakushu dinosaurs wants to impress his Cute Sports Club Manager Maria badly enough that he's more than willing to use Gaou as a weapon, turn Kisaragi into a psycho, and break other team's quarterbacks in order to win... but she actually loves him for the Nice Guy he used to be, and is so conflicted over his "bad boy" attitude that she becomes an Emotionless Girl and is willing to secretly give tips to others so they can defeat Marco and Co., and knock him down his pedestal. It's only after Marco straights his act that Maria shows him her feelings for him.
  • In King of Thorn, Kasumi develops a crush on Marco Owen, who is a muscular, foul-mouthed, Tattooed Crook. Several of the other survivors notice Kasumi's crush and comment on it, but it's hard to tell what Marco thinks, as he's somewhat hard to read. Although he does come back from the dead in order to save Kasumi...
  • In Beelzebub, every male student of Ishiyama High who has a love interest counts.
  • Deconstructed in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack where Quess Paraya falls for the ruthless Char Aznable, only for her to be manipulated into becoming a psychotic killing machine. Amuro Ray even calls him out for it.
  • Subverted in Berserk. Casca becomes the love interest of the towering, brooding, rugged, and usually maladjusted Guts. However, Guts isn't really a bad guy, he just looks like one. You just have to get to know him to know that.
  • Jotaro Kujo of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure gets far more female attention than he's comfortable with. He tries to rectify this by bluntly telling any girl who approaches him to piss off. This has worked exactly zero times.
  • Unavoidable in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, which is an Affectionate Parody of Shoujo Genre manga.
    • Also why Nozaki decided to come up with a "bad boy" character at Chapter 30, because they seem more appealing
    • Parodied in Chapter 32 when Nozaki received an over the top Otome Game from his editor and decided to play it with Hori and Wakamatsu. The trio soon became amazed by the persistence of the female lead in chasing the cast of largely Jerk Ass guys.
  • Ojamajo Doremi:
    • Hazuki: She is drawn to the local juvenile delinquent Masaru Yada, though it's downplayed in that he is Troubled, but Cute in her eyes. He reciprocates and cares deeply for her, and he even gets jealous when Fujio tries to woo her. The two are dating as of Ojamajo Doremi 16/17/18.
    • Doremi herself is drawn to her Evil Counterpart Akatsuki, though she didn't know he was bad until he revealed his true colors. She still reciprocates his feelings, though they do not become an Official Couple.
    • Doremi is also drawn to Jerk Jock Kotake, even though he is more antagonizing. The earlier seasons show a lot of Belligerent Sexual Tension between the two, and it is pretty obvious he has a crush on her but can't spit it out. She confesses to him at the end of the anime but the light novels reveal that he didn't accept her feelings. This changes later on when he gets his head on straight and the two become an Official Couple.
    • Onpu: In a daydream she had in Naisho, her ideal boy was depicted as bad.
  • Subverted in Gungrave anime. Maria likes Brandon not because of his bad boy image; instead, she immediately falls for him when he saves her from some hoodlums. Brandon himself, too, is actually a loyal, caring man despite being a street punk who often gets in street brawls. Unfortunately, said profession becomes a problem when Uncle Jester (Maria's guardian/foster father) sees him walking home with Maria.
  • Subverted in Assassination Classroom where the girls are discussing who is the most attractive boy in the class. Troublemaker and Bully Hunter Karma comes up... only for them to declare he'd only be desirable if he wasn't such a delinquent.
  • Kamisama Kiss lives this trope. The lead male, Tomoe, is a snarky, rude, and conniving fox demon. His main rival, Kurama, is a narcissistic, manipulative, and perverted crow tengu. And yet, The Heroine, Nanami, is involved in a complicated love story with these guys, primarily Tomoe. To be fair, in all cases, the boys are Jerks With Hearts Of Gold and Tomoe in particular is quite kind and caring underneath his gruff and rude exterior.
  • In Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, this is how viewers see Aya's crush on Sunahara, as the latter is a G-rated depiction of a Japanese Delinquent and she did say he looked "a bit intimidating." Although, Aya herself sees it as a case of Single Woman Seeks Good Man.

    Card Games 
  • In the DC Comics Deck-Building Game, Wonder Woman and Black Canary need Villains in order to trigger their Super Hero abilities. The card Princess Diana of Themiscyra, i.e., Wonder Woman, automatically gains all Villains in the Line-up. In Crisis Mode, Black Canary is the only character who can add Villains to her deck under normal circumstances.

    Comic Books 
  • 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 bad-boy 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.
  • 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...
    • Depending on the writer, this is the definition of Harley Quinn's attraction to The Joker.
  • 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).
    • It still bears noting that while Dick copies his mentor's dark look, he is otherwise remarkably well-adjusted (for a superhero anyway), and gets along well with literally every single superhero in the DCU, which is something even Superman isn't always capable of doing.
    • In most modern stories, one of the biggest reasons Dick is a Chick Magnet of extreme proportions is actually because of his Nice Guy charm. This even extends back to his days as Robin, when he was something of a Chivalrous Pervert.
  • X-Men:
    • Kitty Pryde is an interesting example of this trope. The very first guy we see her pursuing is Colossus, a guy who is anything but bad. However, after they broke up, all her next relationships have been with guys who are either jerkasses (Iceman), scoundrels (Star-Lord), both things (Wisdom), or outright villains (Seth). Even her first crush at school was a jerkass, and the only reason she gave up on him was because the guy turned out to be an anti-semitic as well.
    • 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.
  • 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. This didn't last, because when she did find out his reasons for joining, she attacked him violently and stuck with Scott from then on.
  • Wolverine also fits the bill. He has a seemingly endless amount of women after him, and he's a more straight-up bad boy.
    • It's apparently genetic. Wolverine's son Daken has this as well. Both women and men are attracted to his bad boy status, even without him using his powers to seduce them.
    • Logan's mother had an affair with scruffy, ugly, alcoholic and violent Thomas Logan. Her actual husband, John Howlett, was much more nice and Tall, Dark and Handsome, but when the two die in the same incident, Logan's mother mourns Thomas, not John.
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, 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.
  • Discussed in Journey into Mystery when Kid Loki gets jealous of the attention his BFF shows Walking Shirtless Scene Daimon.
    Loki: What is wrong with the pair of you?
    Leah: Bad boys. Everyone loves a bad boy.
    Loki: I'm a bad boy!
    Leah: Not actual boys.
  • Subverted in Sin City with Shellie. She dumps the abusive boyfriend Jackie Boy and goes for the much nicer Dwight McCarthy. But as readers know, Dwight's no angel either, and he even killed a former Femme Fatale girlfriend in a previous issue but he's still a far cry from the misogynistic scumbag that Jackie-Boy was.

    Comic Strips 
  • Funky Winkerbean: In the mid-1990s, the romance between then-high school sweethearts Wally Winkerbean and Becky Blackburn. Becky was heavily involved with music and drama, but her heart fell for a guy that struggled in school and often drank and partied on the weekends. Years later, in 2010, Becky reflects back on how she came to fall in love with Wally note  and admits that it was his "bad boy" attitude that drew her to him.
  • Played with in these two Dilbert comics.
  • Ink Pen's Scrappy Lad spends a week trying go bad to win over Moxie. He and Hammock discuss the trope.

  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Pleasant Surprise, this trope is zig-zagged. It's an inferred reason that he has little experience with girls. An aversion of this trope is why he and his love interest get together.
  • 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 Ben 10 Hero High: Sphinx Academy, Gwen is shown to still be in love with the now revealed Big Bad. However this is deconstructed as she is in love with him because despite being the Big Bad, he was one of the few people outside of her family to be nice to her, accepting of who she was, and even encourage her.
  • 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.
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, Makoto Kagami, a shapeshifting SUE in Mai's image, takes an interest in Nagi, convinced that there's good in him and that her love will change him, even as he plans on using her to betray the Usurper, who has possessed his master, the Obsidian Lord. Makoto's superficial attraction to Nagi ends up having severe repercussions... for Nagi, who gets killed when Makoto's Child is destroyed as a result of her own death.
  • Have a Troubled, but Cute or otherwise dark and edgy Anti-Hero/Anti-Villain in your story? Just look up fanfiction, and nine times out of ten, you will find many fanfics of self-insert Mary Sue OCs romancing him.
  • In Nymphadora's Beau Tonks' mother uses Tonks' tendency toward this trope to encourage her to gravitate toward Harry instead of Remus by making Harry seem like a "bad boy" and pretending to disapprove of him.
  • In Super Therapy!, this is Wonder Woman's main problem — the therapist describes it as her Kryptonite. This is illustrated by Travis, her complete slimeball of a boyfriend, who's revealed to have cheated on her thanks to the Lasso of Truth.
  • For Le Papillon Rising this is the only explanation for why Marinette decides to crush on Papillon, who happens to also be Adrien, who she's already dating.
  • Frequently deconstructed or subverted in "The Light in the Dark": Deconstructed with Bertha's and Florence's infatuation with Alton Avery. Subverted by Maria Zabini, who is either drowning in denial or genuinely believes that Mulciber is really a good person. Snape seems to believe this, as he thinks that becoming a powerful dark wizard will make Lily attracted to him. Mrs. Jorkins has been going out with Terrance Banks for years, who's a complete scoundrel. This may or may not have been what attracted Eileen Prince to Tobias Snape, who is most certainly a bad man. Averted with Lily, who hates James' bullying and is weary of Snape's growing interest in the Dark Arts.
  • In Chapter 29 of I Am NOT Going Through Puberty Again!, 12-year old Sasuke muses a Wall of Text on how he not only finds this trope stupid but insulting.
    Sasuke didn't see himself as a charming person. He had no idea what all those girls saw in him, to be frank. He was bitter, asocial, wrapped in darkness and scarred by grief. The phrase "damaged goods" surely existed solely to describe people like himself.
    He was not the kind of person that he thought a smart or self-respecting girl should pursue. Couldn't they see how messed up he was? How dangerous a path he would have to walk?
    It galled Sasuke that so many girls should be so smitten with him. It felt insulting, somehow, like their infatuation devalued the tragedy of his clan's destruction, romanticizing his pain and frustration into an unrecognizable caricature of the person he really was.
    Their smiling, giggling, blushing, and cooing all angered him. Like they saw it all as one big game, like they didn't take anything seriously. They didn't get it. They refused to understand.

    Films — Animation 
  • Brought up in song in Lady and the Tramp:
    He's a tramp
    He's a scoundrel
    He's a rounder
    He's a cad
    He's a tramp
    But I love him
    Yes, even I have got it really bad...

  • In Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Cindy has the hots for local skateboarder Nick Dean...that is, until he encounters Poultra and Screams Like a Little Girl.
  • In the Wonder Woman film, Steve suspects this with Hippolyta and Ares. Hard to get badder than the God of War.
  • Gender-Flipped in Hercules. The titular hero is sweet, innocent, Adorkable, and head over heels for the sexy, sarcastic, jaded Anti Villainess Megara. The feeling turns out to be quite mutual, and Love Redeems in its classic form kicks in. Definitely something different, especially for a Disney movie.
  • The Sword in the Stone: The cheerful red haired girl squirrel was already in love with Arthur/Wart in squirrel form the moment she laid eyes on him. When she wraps her tail around him and kisses him on the lips three times, he wipes his mouth, throws her tail over her head and pushes her. She chirps in an excited, flirtatious way suggesting this trope.
  • In Shinbone Alley Mehitabel lusts after the roguish Big Bill even though he's treated her badly in the past. She even goes back to him in the end despite the fact he ran out on her when she gave birth to his litter.
  • The Castle of Cagliostro concludes that Lupin III, Gentleman Thief that he is, has stolen the heroine's heart.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Invoked by Anne in The Fisher King.
    Anne: I think men was made in the Devil's image, and women were created outta God. 'Cause, after all, women can have babies, which is kinda like creating. And which also accounts for the fact that women are so attracted to men. 'Cause let's face it, the Devil is a helluva lot more interesting. I've slept with some saints in my day, and believe me, I know what I'm talking about. Egh-boy!
  • 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?"
  • Star Wars:
    • In the original trilogy, Leia Organa 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 Luke, though.
    • In the prequel trilogy's Attack of the Clones, slaughtering the Tusken Raiders didn't stop Padmé Amidala from being in love with Anakin. Ultimately leads to tragedy in Revenge of the Sith where he turns to the Dark Side.
  • 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 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.
  • Every now and then in The Little Rascals film series, Darla will prefer Butch over Alfalfa.
  • 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. Throughout the whole film he abuses her and calls her all sorts of obscenities, belittling her shamelessly in front of everyone else...which is of course why she ends up passionately kissing him at the end.
  • 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-, race-, and class-inverted in Crazy/Beautiful. It's the poor Latino boy who's the responsible one with the promising future and the wealthy Anglo girl who has the 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 (2006) with Solange, the wife of Bond's target Demitrios. She has a fling with Bond, lamenting as she does that she had "so many chances to be happy" with "nice guys" but keeps finding herself drawn to "bad men" like Demitrios and Bond instead. Her connection to the two of them gets her tortured to death not long afterwards.
  • 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".
  • In Fallen Angel, June Mills loves a career Con Man who married her for her inheritance.
  • 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 Bedazzled (2000); 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. Elliot's conclusion is that women don't really know what they want. The Devil agrees.
  • Averted in the film, The Love Of Siam. Ying loves Mew who is anything but a bad boy. However, this trope was played around a bit with Donut and Tong. Tong smokes and drinks alcohol despite him being underage. Therefore, he sort of fit the bad boy archetype. However, he is genuinely a sweet and kind person who protects bully victims, which kind of warrants him a good boy status as oppose to bad boy.
  • In Plunkett & 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.
    • Subverted with Pepper Potts, who keeps pre-Character Development Tony at arm's length while she works for him. The two become closer after she sees him becoming a much less selfish person, but then she becomes disgusted with him when he goes back to acting irresponsibly in the second movie. (She doesn't know that it's his way of coping with the fact that he's dying) In the third movie, she starts to leave in disappointment when it looks like he's going back to his old behavior, but comforts him when he opens up and explains why he's acting the way he is. While they stay in a steady relationship, she doesn't hesitate to call him out on his stupid moves (like announcing his home address on live air, daring the Mandarin to stop by and fight him).
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Apparently, even some boys want bad boys, even if they're a Creepy 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).
    • Elle herself ultimately subverts it when she ends up with Emmett, who was always nice and supportive of her, over her ex, who dumped her and tried to pick her up again as was convenient to him.
  • 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.
  • Becky in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is drawn to and falls in love with the title character, empathizing with Henry's withdrawn nature and seeing him as damaged goods, much like herself. The film's subtitle should provide a clue as to how well it works out for her.
  • Batman Forever has the movie's designated girlfriend Dr. Chase Meridian 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!" This is them making up for them unintentionally interrupting his first time with a hot girl.
  • Irene in Drive had a husband who was sent to jail before getting involved with the protagonist, who is a criminal and has some serious anger management issues as she and some Mook find out.
  • During the The Getaway, starring Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Tilly plays a wife who falls in love with one of the main villains after he kidnapped her and her husband. It got so bad, that she openly has sex with him in front of her husband and begins to insult him. It eventually causes the husband to commit suicide.
    • To a lesser extent with the main couple themselves, Doc and Carol. Although the two are Happily Married and very much in love, the bottom line in, Doc is a bank robber and it's likely that this is a huge part of his appeal to her.
  • Invoked in-universe in The Green Hornet Serials. Lenore Case (who is not the Hornet's Secret Keeper in this version) spends both serials convinced for no apparent reason that the Hornet is "a modern Robin Hood". Several male characters suggest her reason for this belief is that she is attracted to him.
  • Played straight and then subverted in Kalifornia. Adele is deeply in love with Early, because she believes he protects her from badder men, even though Early treats her like a slave and beats her the moment she steps out of line. However, after she makes friends with Brian and Carrie on the road trip to California, she finally accepts Early for the evil man that he is and breaks up with him. Early kills her as a result. It's made even sadder after the happy message Adele left on Brian's recorder before she was killed, which is played before the ending credits.
  • In Cherrybomb, Michelle is in a Love Triangle with Luke and Malachy, who commit various crimes to get her attention.
  • In We're the Millers tattooed bad boy Scotty P. attracts the attention of Casey.
  • In Youth in Revolt, the reason why Nick creates Francois is because Sheeni requests that Nick be "very, very bad." He complies and she wants him more than Trent after burning down half his town.
  • Angel Heart: The dead occultist Johnny Favourite was a real ladies man. Subverted with Epiphany's mother however, who according to her daughter eventually realized with a monster Favourite was.
    Epiphany: You know what they say. It's always the badass that make a girl's heart beat faster.
  • Jim Stark, who provides the page image, is portrayed as a violent and menacing, if not downright villainous, figure in the promotional posters for Rebel Without a Cause, no doubt to capitalize on this trope. However, in the film, he's actually a sensitive, kindhearted boy; Judy becomes attracted to him because he's kind to her.
  • The first time Dylan in Charlie's Angels is shown on-screen falling for someone, she doesn't know that he's evil (at first), but by the second movie her taste in guys is a Running Gag and a Discussed Trope In-Universe.
    Alex: Check it out...brown shorts, red board, 11:00. What d'you think?
    Dylan: [looking at the guy] Yummy!
    Alex: That's what I thought. Case closed. Nat, move in, Dylan thinks he's hot.
    Dylan: What do you mean?
    Alex: You always fall for the bad guy.
  • Alison falls for Cry-Baby supposedly because she's "Tired of being good." As with most John Waters films, the strange outlaws end up being kind, warm, and unassuming while the respectable suburbanites are sadistic, elitist jerks.
  • Inverted in Beyond The Lights. Noni wants straight-laced cop Kaz. Kaz, the potential congressman, in turn wants super-sexual R&B star Noni.
  • The Hunger Games: Glimmer seems to have a little thing for Cato in the film.
  • The Nazis produced an antisemetic propaganda film called Jud Suss ("Suss the Jew"). However, the propaganda purpose failed; the Villain Protagonist was apparently so sexy that the actor who played him got a lot of fan-mail from smitten women.
  • Duel in the Sun (1946). The protagonist, half-caste Pearl Chavez, is sent to live at a ranch where two brothers become infatuated with her. She rejects the gentlemanly Jesse for the lustful advances of his brother Lewt, with whom she shares Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • The Boyfriend School (originally titled Don't Tell Her It's Me): shy, overweight cartoonist Gus is persuaded by his romance novelist sister to adopt the persona of Lobo Marunga, a long-haired leather-clad biker from New Zealand, in order to win over the girl he's fallen for. The ruse falls apart eventually, but it definitely does the job of attracting her interest.
  • Katie in Wet Hot American Summer invokes this trope when choosing Paul Rudd's character over Michael Showalter's nice character. She says she is sixteen and therefore isn't looking for a nice stable boyfriend.
  • In The Edge of Seventeen, protagonist Nadine has a crush on Nick Mossman, who is said to have just gotten out of juvie.

  • Lampooned in Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus with Narcissus's nymphs. Team Leo!
  • In Erika Griffin's novel, The One Who Waited, the main characters, Alice and the Boogeyman.
  • In The Outsiders, Cherry Valence is afraid of Dally, the worst delinquent in the Greasers' gang, because she knows that he's the type of guy she might fall in love with.
  • 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.
  • A point of contention 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 The Reynard Cycle, the Countess Persephone is clearly drawn to Reynard for this reason.
  • In War and Peace, Natasha is engaged to Good Boy Prince Andrei. But after Andrei puts the marriage off for a year to please his father, Natasha is seduced by Bad Boy Anatole, causing her to break off her engagement with Andrei and also to very nearly elope with Anatole. Though Anatole's plans are foiled, it does succeed in permanently wrecking Natasha's relationship with Andrei.
  • Deconstructed in Wuthering Heights; the all-consuming love between Catherine Earnshaw and brooding bad boy Heathcliff is intensely passionate, but it's also clearly depicted as being quite unhealthy for the two (not least because they're 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's 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 she doesn't marry him until after 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 Brontë'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. Anne Bronte had more experience of real life than her two elder sisters put together being the only one who could actually manage to hold down a job for more than a few months.
  • Zachary Gray, the thinking woman's Bad Boy, turns up in multiple Madeleine L'Engle novels.
  • The Changeover: Subtly deconstructed. The male character's initial behavior is not portrayed as being right, okay, or even wanted, and as he changes, the female lead becomes fonder of him.
  • 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 Blood Rites, and their thing 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.
    • Keep in mind that is all from Harry's perspective. We see clearly that Karrin's feelings for Harry run a lot deeper than she shows, in the short story told from her point of view after "Changes" And they clearly aren't just "close friend" feelings, although they are close friends. And, the events at the end of "Skin Trade," well... So Jim Butcher zig-zagged this trope.
  • 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, 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:
    • In 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.
    • Another Christie character who fits into this trope is Patricia Fortescue from A Pocket Full of Rye who has married not just one but three different bad boys. Her first husband, Don, was a "arrogant, insubordinate" pilot who died in the Battle of Britain and whom she doesn't think could have handled peacetime. Her second husband was an aristocrat with an unsavoury reputation who committed suicide before the law could catch up with him. Her third husband was the Black Sheep of the wealthy Fortescue family at the heart of the book's plot. In fairness to Pat all three seem to have treated her beautifully.
    • In Parker Pyne Investigates, Mr. Parker Pyne advises a client who, on his honeymoon, has become entangled in events which make him seem worse than he is, that he should absolutely not tell his new wife the truth. "Your wife is a lovely and high minded girl and the only way she is going to get any fun out of being married to you is by thinking she's reformed a rake."
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Illustrious Client", the Bad Boy in question is an aristocrat with a sulfurous reputation, who's charmed the girl into denying all allegations of misconduct on his part as jealousy and slander. His disfigurement by an ex doesn't help, as it only seems to prove that interpretation right. Holmes snaps her out of it in the end by bringing her a diary the man kept of his sexual conquests.
  • 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 B.S.O.D. 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. The novel explains her attraction as Chris being used to wrapping boys round her little finger and Billy is the only boy she hasn't been able to control.
  • Sense and Sensibility has this, with Marianne having to choose between the somewhat shy, music-loving, thirty-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:
    • 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. (Then again, he's also a slaver who creepily feels Dany up without her permission, as well as spying on her, so it's more a case of Nice Guys Finish Last.) It's played straight with Quentyn Martell, though. (Although even then, Daenerys was already married and calling it off would have been a political disaster.)
    • Averted with Sansa. While she initially wanted Joffrey, who is very bad, she was initially blind to his flaws and thought of him as a heroic prince. However, though to be her ideal man one has to be a Princely Young Man or Knight in Shining Armor, she later develops attraction to Joffrey's bodyguard who is best described as The Brute (his first major action on pages is killing a thirteen years old boy) and seems to find his "ferocity" thrilling.
  • 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.
  • Played for Laughs in Finding Snowflakes. At one point, Carrie tries to invoke this to help the main lead, Eliott get a girlfriend. It backfires horribly.
  • The landlord's daughter, Bess, from Alfred Noyes' poem The Highwayman has a Star-Crossed Lovers relationship with the titular character. Downplayed as he's utterly devoted to her, despite his dodgy occupation.
  • 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 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."
    • Averted in all stories where Bertie is pursued by women who are very attracted to his gentle knight personality, and has to rely on Jeeves to get rid of his admirers without having to openly reject them.
  • Jay in the Spaceforce series is a compulsive womanizer and all-round Manipulative Bastard in a society where such behaviour is actually illegal, not merely amoral. He has no difficulty drawing women to him, both of his own species (Taysan) and alien—including Ashlenn, heiress to a clan chiefdom, who gives up everything to be with him.
  • 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.
  • Edward is this for Bella in Twilight. However "soft" he is as a vampire, 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 Jacob takes a change for the dangerous—then she's conflicted.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Discussed by Ben: "Girls are all the same: you claim to like Nice Guys but you can't resist a bad boy." Defied by Daniar, who honestly can't stand them.
  • Ultimately averted in the Provost's Dog books. Beka Cooper, a cop, is friends with Rosto the Piper, the head of organized crime in Corus. They are attracted to each other and Rosto flirts with Beka, and he's the honorable kind of thief, but "he is a rusher, a criminal, the kind of man she has sworn never to involve herself with." Word of God holds that the Dating Catwoman thing just wouldn't have worked in this case. The man she does eventually marry is a Kennel mage.
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Draw One in the Dark, Tom has a bad history, and a history of attractiveness to women. Kyrie wrestles with it.
  • Shows up in the Discworld series whenever Humanity Ensues for Greebo. Being the epitome of Cats Are Mean gives his human form an aura of raw sex that can be felt from the next room.
  • Played with in the book Losers in Space by John Barnes. Both Susan and Emerald have relationships with Derlock, who's described as a sociopath. Susan doesn't love him and knows he's unfixable—she just thinks he's hot, partially because he scares her a little. Emerald, on the other hand, is a more straightforward example, despite her original protests that she's only in it for the sex. It...doesn't turn out well for her.
  • Every girl at court, Corie included, is a little in love with the wild, handsome, Jerkass Prince Bryan in Summers at Castle Auburn.
  • The Infernal Devices:
    • Will constantly says he's always out drinking and gambling, and that there are a dozen girls who've claimed that he'd compromised their virtue. Jem, however, thinks he's lying to make himself look bad.
  • Discussed For Laughs in Penryn and the End of Days.
    Penryn: "You're not Fallen, are you?"
    Raffe: "From what I've heard, that would just make me sexier to you Daughters of Men."
  • Inna from Vampire Academy, is the willing servant and love interest of Nathan, a handsome Strigoi. Her love interest happens to be evil.
  • Subverted in A Brother's Price - some women are attracted to bad boys with good looks, much to the chagrin of their wiser sisters, who will have to share the same husband. Keifer Porter is one horrific example of what happens when the warning of a sister is not heeded.
  • Defied in Year Of The Griffin: Both Calette and Elda find Bad Griffin Jessak extremely sexy...but since they are both part-human and sentient, they both deliberately ignore being turned on and focus on how much of a jerk he is.
  • Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey is into BDSM and has the typical personality of the bad boy/alpha male in romance novels: domineering, impatient, frequently angry, and demands to have his own way. Almost all women in the series are attracted to him who aren't related or lesbians. However, Ana alternates between believing that these are minor quirks and thinking that she can heal him emotionally by giving him everything he wants, thus healing him with the power of her love. Although Ana insists throughout the series (and with ever-increasing strength) that Grey is making progress and is maturing emotionally because of her, he actually becomes crueller and more controlling as the series continues, to the point where he tortures her against her will in Fifty Shades Freed. Her crime? Getting home later than she said she would and thus avoiding being kidnapped.
  • In Eden Green, the title character's best friend is infected with an alien needle symbiote by an edgy, misogynistic loner, and immediately makes him her new boyfriend. She's also revealed to have had a history of bad and even abusive relationships.
  • In Autobiography of Red, Herakles is a sub-delinquent type with a fondness for graffiti, shoplifting, and leather. Geryon finds him wildly attractive.
  • Amusingly lampshaded in the first novel of the Wolf Rampant series by Aimee Easterling. The protagonist Terra has a "moment" with another male character other than the love interest who happens to be a handsome, charismatic, and all around nice guy. She wistfully notes that it will likely go nowhere because she's too stuck on the bad boys.
  • In The White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice wants to date Cole even after Kat tells her that he's dangerous and not somebody to hang out with. Of course, having a vision of them kissing might have some influence.
  • In Rogue Star, Molly Zaldiver falls for the rogueish, brooding loner and rebel, Cliff Hawk, rather than the earnest, well-intentioned, and well-behaved Andy Quamodian who is hopelessly in love with her.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Of a sort. After their time in the chasms, Shallan admits to herself that Kaladin's confidence and dangerous intensity are very attractive. In the end, she goes with Adolin instead, and Kaladin resolves not to pursue her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones deconstructs this with Sansa, who convinces herself Joffrey is her Prince Charming even after seeing clear hints of what a Royal Brat he really is because she wants a hero, not a villain. That ends the moment he leaps the Moral Event Horizon by executing her father and calling it mercy.
  • Happy Endings turns this into "All gay guys want bad boys" in the episode "You Snooze you Bruise". Dave runs afoul of a bully at his new gym. He thinks the guy is Invoking this trope to show off for girls, but it turns out he's a Straight Gay Jerkass. Max plays this trope straight by becoming attracted to the guy (whose attraction he previously dismissed-despite others thinking he was basically Max's ceiling), especially after he punches Dave. When Dave stands up for himself and gives a Rousing Speech that inspires Camp Gay Derrick to punch the bully out, Max instantly switches his attraction to Derrick.
    Max: I love bad boys. Like Will Smith in the movie Bad Boys, or even Martin Lawrence in Big Momma's House.
  • 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.
  • Family Ties has a subversion in the form of Mallory's boyfriend, Nick. While he very much looks the part of a bad boy(e.g. mullet, leather jacket, motorcycle), he's actually quite harmless and genuinely loves Mallory. He's also shown to be very good with kids, as seen with his interactions with Andy (none of this stops the parents from disliking him though).
  • 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 & 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.
  • Girl Code: The "Bad Boys" segment treats this as a given. By the end of the segment, the consensus is that while all girls want bad boys, it's ultimately a bad idea to end up with one.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Spike 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 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, Always Chaotic Evil abomination against God", one of whom she almost completely ignorednote . 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."
    • Buffy herself noted her attraction to bad boys in "Something Blue" when she worries that a nice, safe relationship would lack the intensity.
    • Subverted with Robin Wood, who Buffy dated briefly. A genuine Nice Guy, the attraction was more Hot for Teacher. Wood however is the son of a Slayer Spike killed, and he's prepared to defy Buffy for revenge. He ended up with Faith but remains a loyal friend when Buffy needs him.
      • The trope is amusingly lampshaded when Buffy goes on a date with Wood before finding out which side he's on. Buffy starts wondering if she's attracted to Wood because he's a nice handsome guy who's not evil, or because he's secretly evil and she's attracted to that.
    • 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 10th 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 The Vampire Diaries, the female characters, including Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline all seem to be attracted to a mysterious, brooding loner (Stefan) and a dark, charming, rebellious bad boy (Damon).
    • Caroline plays it straight in the first season; she's attracted to the Salvatore brothers because of how "sexy" and "dangerous-looking" she thinks they are. Stefan bluntly rejects her, and then she meets Damon, who she wastes no time getting in bed with. However, this is subverted when Damon reveals that he's a vampire and feeds on Caroline. She hypnotizes her into being his girlfriend and obeying his every command, and abuses her both physically and emotionally during their entire time "together". Then Elena forces him to leave Caroline alone so he makes her forget the whole abuse. Think that's it? No, because in season 2 Caroline gets turned into a vampire by Katherine, thus getting back all the memories Damon took from her. It's notable that because of this, Caroline eventually subverts the trope, in that she doesn't think of Damon as "sexy" anymore because of his bad-boy attitude and knows he's a psychopath, which is why she spends her time talking Elena out of being with him.
    • Elena, however, plays it straight when it comes to Damon. In fact, Elena just gets more and more into this trope as the series progresses (possibly because her life gets crappier and her character darker).
      • In fairness, by the time Elena and Damon are together, Damon has come a very long way from the unrepentant, murdering asshole he was in the first two seasons (he even saved Caroline's life on more than one occasion, and defended her to her mother when Liz found out she was a vampire). Caroline, meanwhile, remains completely blinded by Stefan's 'Good Brother' facade (he is, after all, the same person who was so determined to 'fix' his ex-girlfriend that he willingly activated her brother's hunter gene, which nearly led to him killing Elena), to the point where she says "Say what you want about Ripper Stefan, but at least he wasn't a manwhore." Elena, in contrast, sees and knows every facet of Damon, good and bad, and loves him because she knows all of him, meanwhile growing and learning more about herself and that it's ok to be a little selfish in the process. Really, Damon and Elena are a deconstruction of this trope (after all, she didn't start to actually fall for him until he started becoming a better man through his love for her).
    • Played straight and subverted with Klaus and Caroline. Caroline tried really hard to resist Klaus' bad boy charm, turning him down many times and never holding her tongue about how much of an evil jerk he is while still showing signs of attraction from time to time. She does cave and sleeps with him later, but still doesn't want to actually be in a relationship with him.
  • 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. Veronica's renewed interest in Logan isn't so much because he's beating someone up, but that he's beating up a man to avenge Veronica's honour when he has absolutely nothing to gain doing so (and plenty to lose). She's clearly turned on by the whole thing, hence her guilty look to Piz. The show ends with her being with Piz. However, the follow-up film results in Piz dumping her, after she chooses to stay in Neptune rather than meet his parents in New York. She then goes back to her "on-and-off" relationship with Logan, who's in the Navy now.
  • 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, being at best a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, gets 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. Maybe). Stacy was his girlfriend. Cuddy had sex with him in college, and apparently carried a torch for him for twenty years. Interestingly, Cameron's crush on him may be a subversion, since her occasional You Are Better Than You Think You Are moments with House suggest that she's drawn to the Hidden Heart of Gold that she sees within him, rather than the prickly exterior surrounding it. She's also the only one of these women who definitely leaves the show because House does something she finds unforgivable. Cuddy presumably feels the same way, but the series never explicitly details her reason for leaving.
  • 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—first dumping wholesome Dean for Jess, then, after Jess leaves town, getting back with Dean, who is now 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.
  • 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.
    • In season nine, Chloe Sullivan ends up with Oliver. Somehow.
    • In season ten's "Luthor", alternate-universe Tess is apparently in a relationship with Clark Luthor a.k.a. Ultraman .
  • 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.
  • Friends: Lampshaded by Chandler.
    Chandler: "You're such a nice guy" means "I'm gonna be dating leather-wearing alcoholics and complaining about them to you."
    • Ironically, and luckily for him, his best friend-later-girlfriend-come-wife Monica is Single Woman Seeks Good Man, and outright rejects a few mean guys before they get together. Rachel plays it straight though when she dates Paolo.
  • Gossip Girl: Blair's true love was made out to be Chuck, who takes bad to another level—he tried 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.
    • Inverted in "iPear Store", when Carly goes after one of Freddie's co-workers with gusto because he's a nerdy guy—but when he turns into a Casanova Wannabe and tries to make a move on her, it turns her off completely.
    • 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.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look
    • A sketch 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.
    • In another sketch, Cyrano de Bergerac "helps" a reluctant Nice Guy seduce a chavvy woman by acting like a sexist douche. It works too well and by the time he realizes he doesn't want to be with someone who's attracted to that kind of thing, she's dragging him into her house.
    • Possibly the darkest take is in the sketch where a male librarian suddenly starts mocking a lonely woman's choice in books, moving on to her intellect and personality and quickly reducing her to tears, then successfully asks her out.
  • 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. Interestingly, he does grow to care for her, especially after she chooses to be exiled with him on a Death World. Her death prior to The Wrath of Khan is one of the reasons for his hatred of Kirk.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak was ruthless, dangerous, a Consummate Liar with a Mysterious Past, his alliances were hard to keep track of, and he wasn't the type to fight fair. He was also Gul Dukat's most hated enemy. Despite all this, Dukat's daughter Ziyal still fell in love with him. Defying all expectations, Garak always treated her gently and respectfully and, while smart in many other ways, clearly did not have a handle on this trope as he never could understand why she was in love with him.
  • 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 "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.
    • In Alex vs. Alex, we have this:
    Alex: "Dominic is evil?"
    Harper: "Is it weird he's even more attractive now?"
  • Jax and Tara in Sons of Anarchy. Basically the entire male cast benefits from this at some point in the series.
  • 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] 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!
    • There was a joke in 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."
  • Mortified: Layla's boyfriends all tend to be bad boys. Leon, who both Brittany and Taylor are crushing on, could also make it this.
  • 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 advises 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 Façade 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 Office (UK), as well as the first couple seasons of the The Office (US), 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. Since then, Andy has experienced Characterization Marches On and become more of a cheerful Man Child.
  • 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.
  • In 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 a nice pair of leather pants.
    • To a lesser extent, this trope fits almost every male character on the show except Hoyt and Terry. Jason is a chronic womanizer, Sam sexually harasses 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.
    • Luna lampshades this when she admits to Sam that she "became a cliche" when she fell in love with her ex-husband and baby-daddy 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 straight 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 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...
    • Also in the sequel series Both Naomi and Annie fall for resident bad boy Liam.
  • Community: This is something of a recurring theme with Britta Perry whose past romantic involvements seem to involve a long line of 'bad-boys', weirdoes and damaged goods:
    • In the early seasons of the show, she had something of a Will They or Won't 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 that she will end up regretting. Over the course of the episode, it's gradually suggested that Britta's urges 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, 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 has brain damage which means he is literally incapable of feeling shame, meaning that he also literally cannot help being an asshole whenever he feels like it.
    • Given her oft-seen crush on Jeff, it's fairly safe to say that Annie has tendencies towards this trope as well (although, that said, in the above example she's utterly bewildered by Britta's response to the text messages). She is, however, a lot more perceptive, self-aware and self-critical of it than Britta, acknowledging at several points that she knows that ultimately she and Jeff aren't a very good match and that she's trying to "change" him more because she's frightened of ending up alone and unloved than because of genuine feelings.
    • Annie also shows this towards Abed when he is playing Han Solo during the paintball game. Though she also points out that he was more of a dork for doing it than the rouge that he was portraying.
  • Boy Meets World: Kid-anova Shawn has a troubled home life and something of a "bad boy" image. However, the bad boy aspect of his character became less prevalent 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 okay (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 (1983)—then the mobster is caught, sent to jail for life (or close to it), leaving his spouse with a mountain of debt, a 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.
  • On an episode of Cheers, Lilith writes a book called Good Girls, Bad Boys and is invited on a women's talk show. She brings along Sam as an example of a "Bad Boy" and her husband Frasier as a "Good Boy" women should be attracted too. The audience full of women go crazy for Sam and want him to take his shirt off. Lilith at first is clinical as she describes all the dangerous qualities that make Sam desirable to these sensible women but then she gets aroused and lunges at him to take his shirt off herself! Frasier is humiliated by this and goes to great lengths to prove that he can be a bad boy too, starting with taking a pair of scissors and running around the bar yelling "I am running with scissors!"
  • Played with on an episode of A Different World. Lena James (Jada Pinkett Smith) is tempted when her "bad boy" ex-boyfriend (played by Tupac Shakur) visits her on campus and tries to convince her to leave the college and live with him. She ultimately refuses, even after most of her women friends claimed they would have accepted without hesitation. Truth in Television as well: Jada Pinkett Smith revealed that she knew and had a bad boy crush on Tupac before she met and ended up marrying Will Smith.
  • Played for laughs on Married... with Children. Bud Bundy tries to use different bad boy persona's to convince women to have sex with him. His most commonly used persona being Grandmaster B, a rapper born in the Hood. Most of the time, he's convincing enough to lead the women back to his house, only for one of the family members to expose what a square he really is. Ironically, his first steady girlfriend ends up liking him because he's Adorkable.
    • Also in a Gender-Inversion. Bud becomes a contestant on a dating show and ends up losing to the bad boy, Rodrigo, who plays the spoiler on the show. This was despite promising what a good man he would be to the female guest. Afterwards, many women end up feeling sorry for Bud and beg to date him, including a nerdy good girl who promised Bud the same love and loyalty. What does Bud do in the end? Rejects the nerdy woman for the more slutty looking one behind her.
    • Bud's sister, Kelly meanwhile dates various sleazy bikers, hoods, and ex-cons with nicknames like Mayhem, Pinworm, Salt Water, and Stab Wound.
  • On Once Upon a Time, Belle's curse persona Lacey is drawn to Gold's villainous ways.
  • Laurel Lance from Arrow. Even lampshaded by Tommy in episode thirteen.
    Tommy: We both know that she has a pretty strong track record of being attracted to guys who are dangerous, who break the rules. Show me a more dangerous rule breaker than the Hood.
    • Thea who falls for Roy—the guy who stole her handbag.
    • Felicity's crush on Oliver.
  • In M*A*S*H, Hawkeye and Trapper are surrounded by nurses who can't stop sleeping with them, even knowing they're complete man-whores and Trapper is married. Subverted as the series went on, partly due to Alan Alda Running the Asylum, and partly due to the nurses just getting fed up with Hawkeye's crap. Inverted with BJ Hunnicutt: a devoted family man invested in staying faithful to his wife, he had several episodes involving comely young women becoming romantically interested in them. He turned (almost) all of them down.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, E20), Dean revels in their fugitive status, declaring that "chicks dig the danger vibe". Later in the episode, his Wishverse girlfriend, Carmen, seems to be this as well, considering that she's a nurse who's living with a guy who's implied to be an alcoholic, works as a mechanic, and is on not-exactly-stellar terms with his lawyer brother.
    • In the episode "Born Under A Bad Sign" (S02, E14), fans loved getting a glimpse of evil Sam when he's possessed by Meg. He shoots Dean in the shoulder and ties up Jo as bait, and the Jo interactions have distinctly creepy and borderline rapey undertones.
    • Rowena might be a centuries old witch but she goes completely googly-eyed when she sees Lucifer in action. On the other hand she might just be attracted to the raw power Lucifer exudes.
  • In Power, Tasha loves James, her husband, because he's a major drug dealer, and his attempts at getting out of the criminal lifestyle turn her off. Meanwhile Holly initially tells Tommy (James' partner) that she won't sleep with him on their first date, but, after witnessing him beat the hell out of a patron in a bar who was flirting with her, very eagerly changes her mind.
  • In Open Heart, it's Dylan Blake and her break-in buddy Teddy. Though she may not be too fond of him after he ditches her and her dying friend.
  • When Eddie is introduced in the second season of House of Anubis, practically all the girls (besides Patricia) find themselves falling for him as soon as they met him, especially after telling his story about how he got kicked out of a lot of schools. However, the girls soon just started treating him like anyone else in the House and let he and Patricia do their thing.
  • Subverted in an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Two war buddies, a geeky, Adorkable, nice guy and his friend, a Tall, Dark and Handsome guy who displays all the characteristics of a bad boy, arrive back in America from their tour in Vietnam. They go to the nice guy's house only for his friend to discover that he's married to a beautiful woman. Not understanding how such a woman can be with a guy like his geeky friend, he soon becomes jealous and tries to seduce her away from him. After the wife makes it clear she isn't interested, he kills his geeky friend, but makes it look like an accident. The wife knowing that he was killed by his friend, pretends to fall for the bad boy's charms, only to poison herself seconds before having sex with him, which kills them both.
  • Night and Day plays this straight to the extent that Josh Alexander, the primary love interest of Jane and after her disappearance, Della, appears on the surface to be the archetypal bad boy, all brooding biker and leather jackets. But blackouts and spooky demonic phase notwithstanding, for the most part he's one of the nicest and best-adjusted of the teenage male characters on the show.
  • Madam Secretary:
    • Inverted with the Happily Married Liz and Henry McCord. Henry's a professor of theology with a very strong personal code of ethics, and she's commented that she finds his morals quite a turn-on. It doesn't hurt that he's an ex-marine as well.
      Henry: Who says you have to be a bad boy to get the hot girl?
    • Their eldest daughter Stevie, though... First she starts dating her twenty-years-older boss, then switches to her old friend, the President's son Harrison (who she knows because Liz and President Dalton worked together at the CIA), a recovering heroin addict prone to relapse.
  • The O.C. has Marissa fall for the brooding, troubled Ryan, Also there's also Volchok in season 3. She is aware that he is "bad" by most people's standards, but actively defends him as misunderstood to everyone, until he cheats on her, humiliates her and uses her to steal money.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has Bronwyn Freed who pretty much embodies hybristophilia. She befriends William Lewis while serving as a juror and helps him escape. She does this again in Season 17, with Dr. Yates and Dr. Rudnick. Despite how they ditch her, she still defends them, saying they're nice people!
  • Studio C parodies this in "Bad Boy Rap", which is supposed to be a song about how girls prefer troubled boys with tattoos and a motorcycle, until it's hijacked by a pair with a different definition of bad boy:
    We like Scar and Jafar son - Darth Vader, Mr. Hyde and Attila the Hun Uh! When they try to take over the world in any way, it's hot like the alien from Independence Day!
  • Daredevil: The relationship between Wilson Fisk and his mistress Vanessa Marianna can only be described as this. Vanessa decides that the fact that Fisk is a dangerous sociopath and murderer is actually a plus. If nothing else, it means he will definitely keep her safe. And while it initially seems like she's going to humanize Fisk, his relationship and his desire to protect her from his criminal activities lead him to committing even more violent acts which she encourages.
    • It's lightly implied that Karen Page has this crossed with Rescue Romance going for Daredevil himself.

  • Barbara Mandrell's "Angels Love Bad Men," a top 20 country single from 1986 about a girl falling for a career robber; guest backing vocals were provided by Waylon Jennings.
  • Pretty much everything from Lana Del Rey falls into this trope. Her debut album Born to Die has "Blue Jeans" (which even namedrops James Dean), "Off to the Races" (which is more of an ode to an Outlaw Couple), "Born to Die" (which is about an abusive relationship with a macho man while living on "the wild side")... it goes on and on. It's hard to tell whether she really believes it or whether she just plays up that persona to sell records.
  • The narrator in Halsey's "Ghost" admits to this.
    Kiss me in the corridor, but quick to tell me goodbye.
  • Liz Phair tends to parody this. Her debut album Exile in Guyville features the song "Soup Star Joe", about the idealization of such men in Hollywood.
  • So why do good girls like bad guys? I've had this question for a really long time! I've been a bad boy and it's plain to see! So why do good girls fall in love with me?
  • 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.
  • Pet Shop Boys song "West End Girls".
  • Backstreet Boys had a song with the title, "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 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
  • No Doubt's Bathwater:
    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".
  • Taylor Swift 's "The Way I Loved You" is about a girl who dates a nice guy but is incredibly bored with him and misses the way she and her ex would "scream, fight and kiss in the rain."
    • "Blank Space" is this Gender Flipped, inverted, and subverted. "But you'll come back/each time you leave/'Coz darling I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream." Even features the line "I can make the bad boys good for a weekend."
  • 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
  • Kylie Minogue has a song called "Better the Devil You Know".
    I'll forgive, and forget. If you say you'll never go. Cause its true. What they say, it's 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...played straight 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-tumble 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-ex-boyfriend, 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, but he hurts her a lot. She tries to leave but can't get herself to do it because she loves him. It can be interpreted either as a love song or sad song.
  • Gender Flipped in Apache's "Gangsta Bitch".
  • Cascada's "Bad Boy" is sung from the POV of girl who's had her heart broken by a bad boy and doesn't want to be involved with him again but still wants to have sex with him.
  • Theory of a Dead Man's "Gentleman" is this trope with a dash of Take That!:
    Girls don't want a gentleman
    They say they do but in the end
    Girls don't want a gentleman
    They want a loser like me
  • "Oh, Mr. Darcy" by the Doubleclicks is about someone trying to overcome this tendency, inspired by early exposure to the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.
    • Their song "Lasers and Feelings" advances the "bad boy" concept to the level of super-villain.
  • Celtic Thunder's Ryan Kelly, especially in the songs "That's a Woman" and "Heartbreaker". The latter even provided his Fan Nickname: "The Dark Destroyer".
  • Richard Thompson seems to enjoy playing with this trope. For example, his "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" is about a passionate romance between Fiery Redhead Red Molly and Badass Biker James, which ends when the latter is gunned down during an armed robbery (leaving the former his bike). Or there's his "I Feel So Good", about a newly-released ex-con hitting the town with "a half-naked woman with her tongue down my throat". For that matter, Thompson's tongue-in-cheek but straight-faced cover version of Britney Spears's "Oops, I Did It Again" turns that song into a faintly sinister evocation of this trope.
  • "Bad Boy" by the Miami Sound Machine
    Bad, bad, bad, bad boy! You make me feel so good!
  • Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" explores this trope from the perspective of the bad boy.
    • "Only The Good Die Young" does so to an extent, too.
  • "Poison" by Groove Coverage.
    I wanna love you but I better not touch.
    I wanna hold you but my senses tell me to stop.
    I wanna kiss you but I want it too much.
    I wanna taste you but your lips are venomous poison.
    You're poison running through my veins, you're poison.
    I don't wanna break these chains.
  • Trisha Yearwood's "Walkaway Joe" shows the dark side of this trope: bad boys are usually bad for a reason, and have no qualms toying with the hearts of young girls and leaving them behind (after robbing a gas station).
  • "Rasputin" by Boney M:
    "This man has got to go" declared his enemies
    But the ladies begged, "Don't you try to do it, please"
    No doubt this Rasputin had lots of hidden charms
    Though he was a brute, they just fell into his arms
  • "Rich Fantasy Lives", a Filk Song by Tom Smith and Rob Balder:
    That waitress at Pete's, who took so long to seat you
    And left you to stand in the doorway
    With her stringy red hair, and her thousand yard stare
    In her mind, she's the princess of Norway
    As she takes down your order, she's crossing the fjord
    Her white stallion spits foam like a madman
    Many vikings have died trying to take her as bride
    But her heart is reserved for a bad man
  • Deconstructed by Laura Branigan's "Bad Attitude", where the singer says she only has herself to blame for getting into a relationship with a boy like this, and dumps him. Australian Girl Group Girlfriend's cover includes the backup singers as her friends warning her that things would turn out this way, and alters one of the lines to "But Cupid's a real good liar".
  • The Offspring provide a rare gender inversion in their song "Want You Bad".
    I know your arms are open wide, but you're a little on the straight side, I can't lie
    Your one vice is you're too nice
    Come around now, can't you see?
    I want you, all tattooed, I want you bad
    Complete me, mistreat me, want you to be bad, bad, bad, bad, bad


    Pro Wrestling 
  • 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. This mirrored her real life actions with Matt Hardy.
    • 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.
  • Played with in the case of Terri Runnels during WWE's Attitude Era. She made her debut as Marlena the valet of her real life husband's Goldust persona. Goldust was a heel. However, after his Heel–Face Turn, Goldust lost Terri for a few days to heel Brian Pillman, but then initially refused to take her back. About a year later, Goldust broke character and appeared as a Born Again Christian Dustin Runnels, who was willing to forgive and forget and take Terri back. She however, blew him off for Val Venis, a playboy persona. However, when Venis started to reform, Runnels showed up again as Goldust and Terri came running to him. After he rejected her for good this time, she became a Straw Feminist who swore off men completely.
  • A quite frankly, bizarre example is with AJ Lee, who pursued not one, but three men who each fit the bad boy criteria to different degrees. Her main interest focused on Anti-Hero CM Punk, wearing his shirts and mimicking his mannerism to a degree. Then there's Jerkass Daniel Bryan, her ex who she admitted she wasn't quite over yet, and was possibly just trying to make jealous. And finally there's Kane, who she made dreamy eyes at, and apparently thought he had a heart buried under his tormented soul, and who she notably kissed with considerably more passion than she showed towards the other two. The one thing all three men appeared to agree on is that AJ is out of her damn mind. After a stint as RAW GM, she began an on screen relationship with WWE's good boy, John Cena. Then she topples a ladder with him on top and ends up with bad boy Dolph Ziggler.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • 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.
  • Glen Foster, aka "That Canadian Guy", says that someone once told him that girls may be attracted to bad boys initially, but they don't stay with the bad boys. Glen interprets this as a double benefit.

  • 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 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sarah of Tanz Der Vampire is a lot more interested in the vampire Count von Krolock than she is in Alfred, the quintessential (human) Dogged Nice Guy. She spends the musical longing for the Count's bite even as Alfred sings of his love for her.
  • Deconstructed in Heathers. Veronica was very much attracted to bad boy J.D. when he was just a broody, intense bookworm with a troubled past that beat up Jerk Jocks in the cafeteria. Once he starts murdering people, however, their relationship goes south.

    Video Games 
  • 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. This is especially notable in that Hojo is never shown to be handsome at ALL. In fact, he's as close as you can get to the stereotypical mad scientist look, complete with evil laughs he doesn't even bother to hide.
  • Both played straight and inverted with The Sims 2. Angela Pleasant, the sweetheart of the Pleasant family, is going steady with Dustin Brooke, who is a rebel, at the start of the game. Lilith Pleasant, who's a bit of a devil, is going steady with a fairly good teen, Dirk Dreamer. Also, a fair number of girls are in love or have a crush on the town Casanova, Don Lothario, when Dina Caliente is dating Mortimer Goth as well, Kayleen Landgrak (One of the towns' maids, mind), is in love with both the aforementioned Don and Daniel Pleasant (whom is married already), and Cassandra is engaged to Don himself. Nina is the only one in the loop who isn't dating or has a crush on anyone else.
  • 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 personality, 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. It's not until after she dies that she realizes the kind of guy he really was, yet still loves him anyway...
  • Dragon Age: Origins
    • Oghren will bring this up if you talk about his class with him, 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.
  • Dragon Age II
    • Hawke of either gender can comment on Anders' "sexy, tortured look", upon learning about his experiences with the spirit of Justice; there's also a dialogue option for telling him "I love it when you go all hot-headed revolutionary" (marked "You're cute when you rebel"). There's also a hilarious conversation in the Legacy DLC where Anders goes into depth about his condition and Hawke's response is literally "Ooh, baby. Tell me more."
    • Varric tells Fenris that if he looked any more broody, women would swoon at his feet.
    • The Anders romance arc could be seen as a deconstruction. The bad boy ends up a tragic Fallen Hero gradually being corrupted from within; he essentially goes insane, manipulates his lover into helping him blow up the Chantry and start a war, and Hawke is eventually forced to either kill his/her own beloved, send him away, or run off with him to spend the rest of his/her life a wanted fugitive, also losing and greatly angering a close friend in the latter two cases (who swears vengeance not only on Hawke and Anders, but on everyone in Kirkwall).
    • The minor character Emile de Launcet invokes this, as he tells women he's a blood mage in an attempt to seem "dangerous and suave".
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Shepard can invoke this trope to explain why Kelly finds Thane alluring. If Shepard is male and played as mostly paragon, Kelly says that that's a dirty stereotype, which just happens to be true in her case. She says to a renegade male Shepard that she was thinking the same way about him too. If Shepard is female, Kelly asked if that includes her. Female Shepard can reply that dangerous men fit right into her dangerous life.
    • It can be gender reversed with a Paragon male Shepard romancing Jack.
    • Also averted when Kelly says something along the lines of: "Oh I don't know, good guys are pretty nice too." Of course, this is Kelly Chambers we're talking about. It's not like she's picky.
    • Played straight however with the vampire in space Morinth. Her mother Samara asks you to help draw her out to be killed, but advises Shepard that acting nice and good will turn her off. The only way The Paragon can attract her is by studying some clues on Morinth's musical, artistic and vid preferences. On the other hand, a renegade needn't know these preferences and can browbeat Morinth into taking him home. Then, someone who kills Samara to recruit Morinth plays this trope straight. However, consummating the relationship ends badly. Not consummating also ends badly in the third game, as she shows up as a banshee and tries to kill you.
  • 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.
  • A major part of Ulala Serizawa's jealousy of Maya Amano in Persona 2 Eternal Punishment is Maya's editing job and popularity with men; Ulala has no such luck, and the men she had dated in her lifetime were not only this trope, but have swindled her for money several times (you actually meet one of said swindlers during the game). At the end of the game, it's implied that she fell for another "bad boy" - Kaoru Saga, better known as Baofu, a wiretapper, former public persecutor, and another member of the party. It's also subverted at that point; both Ulala and Baofu have gone through significant Character Development, and at the end of the game, Baofu shuts down his wiretapping trade and opens a missing persons operation, even taking on his old name again.
  • 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, if the player character is female and has the Black Widow perk, they can give this trope as an excuse while seducing him. He is (understandably) Squicked out by the offer, but eventually relents.
  • Bully largely averts this. Some of the girls you can flirt with may say they like Jimmy's rough side, but if you so much as hurt their feelings they'll cool on you immediately and the Prefects will quickly jump on your ass. Zoey plays it mostly straight in-story, but abusing her in the game proper will yield equally bad results. You want some action with the ladies, you've gotta play nice.
  • 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: Link's 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 "Ohh! Link, you're a bad boy!" as if she's orgasming over Link's badness.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, it shows up when playing a male, Dark-side Sith. Interestingly, the two classes have two different variations:
    • If the DS Sith Warrior falls for Vette, it's implied the relationship is genuine love, since to start the romance he has to remove her Shock Collar, which he has no reason to do besides wanting to. She ends up being his Morality Pet, and he her Violently Protective Boyfriend.
    • The DS Sith Inquisitor and Ashara, however, seem to deconstruct this. While the feelings between them are also genuine, he does some pretty dark things to win her over, including staging a Rescue Romance to get in her good books and killing her parental figures so she can travel with him. Additionally, the usual "bad boy is redeemed by love" cliché is completely absent here—while he has a soft spot for Ashara, the Inquisitor remains evil. In fact, his relationship with Ashara opens her up to Sith corruption and she ends up Slowly Slipping Into Evil, showcasing the very real dangers of this trope.
    • While not to the extent of the Sith classes, and certainly not played with on the same level as the Inquisitor's, this can also be present in any other class where the male Player Character is Dark-side and going after a Light-side companion.
  • Interestingly toyed with in Fire Emblem Awakening. Henry is a beautiful white-haired youth with some screws loose due to a Dark and Troubled Past, and, as a result, he's a merciless Blood Knight with a Lack of Empathy. However, when a girl falls for him, it's NOT due to his badassery and bad attitude but because, despite his craziness on the battlefield, outside of it he tries to help them in their daily lives—he joins Cherche in her vigilance rounds, fixes the plates Sumia broke, tries to help Lissa catch some sleep, etc. He also turns out to be a surprisingly loving and dedicated father to any child he has.
    • Inverted in Fire Emblem Fates with Niles and two of his possible love interests, Effie and Oboro, who don't show any romantic interest in him until they get a glimpse of his Hidden Heart of Gold.
  • Amy Rose's attraction to Sonic the Hedgehog—basically the progenitor of the Mascot with Attitude trope—definitely has shades of this. Despite her being a Bad Girl, Rouge's frequent flirting with Shadow is also ultimately this... oh wait...!
  • The former queen of the Night Elves Azshara from Warcraft entranced everyone around her with her beauty and power. The one man she considered worthy of her? The Burning Titan Sargeras, who is essentially the Devil in the Warcraft mythos. Many of Azeroth's magic-related problems can be directly attributed to Azshara's twisted desire to bring Sargeras into the world and rule alongside him.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Nirya, one of the mages at the College of Winterhold, says that Ancano is clearly up to no good, but he's "rather handsome" anyway. Of course, if you read the Skyrim Kink Meme at all, you know that many, many people agree with her, as Ancano and various other male Thalmor (especially Ondolemar) feature prominently in the fills.
  • In Roommates, Anne going for Max fits the trope to a t. She describes him as being the kind of guy her parents warned her about, despite the fact that there were no guys like him within miles of her hometown. Anne's Gay Option Isabella also counts. Flipping the player's gender, Max going for Sally could be seen as counting in a way, as while Sally isn't as sheltered as Anne, she's not nearly as wild as Max, either.
  • Blazblue: Tsubaki Yayoi has a rather obvious attraction to Jin Kisaragi. Jin himself is an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who barely holds his contempt for those around him. To be fair, they are Childhood Friends and Tsubaki is pretty much the only character Jin treats with any sort of kindness.

     Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • In Rasputin Barxotka, Camello and his muscles seem to attract beautiful women on a regular basis, even if though he is an arrogant jerk and a smuggler.
  • 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.
  • The 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 know.
  • 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.
  • Yeon from Tower of God, who slowly falls for Viole, a candidate FUG Slayer terrorist who wishes to kill her king, and by extension, wage war against the entire Zahard empire.
  • Discussed and subverted in 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 Flashback.
  • 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 popularizers) in this strip from Hark! A Vagrant, in which there is clearly something wrong with Anne Brontë.
  • 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 the Labs in Narbonic 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.)
    • His main love interest, the titular dr. Narbon, shows this to an extreme degree. This becomes very amusing during Dave's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Ashley in Soul Symphony has a thing for local bad boy metalheads Charlie and Tom.
  • In Sinfest, Satan's TV ad promises "Evil: chicks dig it!"
  • Heavily deconstructed in When Dawn Breaks, So Too, Shall You. The women and girls who have become fans of the Twilyte series seek to gain boyfriends like Edward Cullin.note  However, they instead end up horrifically abused and mistreated by their boyfriends who they believe are their "true loves", still staying with them and putting up with every second of the abuse because they believe that their boyfriends are doing it out of love. This results in overflowing numbers of women being sent to women's shelters, including the one the protagonist works at, and even the shelter's therapist is unable to convince them that they are being used instead of loved. Compounded by the in-universe Liberatist Feminist movement, created by Stephanie Mayernote  built around the idea that women are nothing without men and need men to "complete" them.
  • Most of the male characters in Homestuck qualify as bad boys, so this trope comes into play quite a lot. Aradia and Feferi both had redrom flings with Sollux, and Feferi was once Eridan's moirail. Nepeta and Terezi both had red feelings for Karkat, to say nothing of Terezi's blackrom with Gamzee. On the human side of things, Terezi also had a brief redrom with Dave.
  • Sinners Of Saint Paul: Viro is hot. Everyone wants to smang him.
  • In Skin Horse, Killotron-1 warns Bubbles that Killotron-2 is "not a robot you want to get attached to. He is a machine of dangerous passions! A tormented loner whose emotions are enslaved to wild desires!" Bubbles's reaction is "" (Which admittedly is one of six words she can say, but she seems to mean it.)

    Web Original 
  • 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 I'm a DC, 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 CollegeHumor, 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 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: most of the list falls under this trope, whether 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 'fun' rehabilitating" version.
    • Being an Anti-Role Model for fangirls, it's only fitting that Critic's stalker (Hyper Fangirl) shows this off. Critic's threatened to kill her a load of times for not leaving him alone and it just makes her more attracted to him.
  • 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 The 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 criticizes the supposed Dogged Nice Guy for not being nearly as nice as he claims.
  • Inverted in an article at Cracked. One of the writers went undercover on a dating site, posing as a woman with model looks who spends "her" entire profile making racist jokes, displaying bad manners, admitting to breaking the law, gladly admitting she lies about being pregnant to get what she wants, and showing horrible grammar and spelling. Many men still messaged this person, asking for dates. The writer decided to up the ante by messaging them back, boasting about bullying young children, lying to a judge to avoid charges, and even making stupid demands of the men if they wanted to have sex with her, which included but was not limited to, allowing her to yank out one of their teeth. At one point, she freely explained that she only has sex with men so she can pretend to be pregnant and get money from them. Despite this, many men were gravitating toward her. And yes, it was all real.
  • Veronica of The Veronica Exclusive wants bad girls, specifically, Jane. This is Deconstructed when Jane turns out to be less of a deep, mysterious loner and more of a vindictive, psychotic Serial Killer. At the end, Veronica outright states that everything she found attractive about Jane at first turned out to be a far harsher, more dangerous quality once you scratched the surface.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible admits to Ron (in the appropriately titled episode "Bad Boy") 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...
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel The Legend of Korra both have examples which, interestingly enough, are either not played straight or end up subverted in some way or another.
    • Prince Zuko, 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.
    • Katara also was quite goo-gaa over Jet in his first episode when he was a heroic Robin Hood-esque figure fighting for the freedom for the Earth Kingdom but still had the roguish aloofness of a bad boy. At least, until she saw for herself that Jet and his gang were about to destroy an occupied Earth Kingdom village.
    • It's played entirely straight in "The Ember Island Players", wherein Katara falls for Jet (who wipes out the town for her) and later Zuko. What she says about Jet is on the quotes page.
    Player Katara: Oh Jet, you're so bad.
    • Better yet, in the sequel series Korra's first crush Mako seems like Zuko 2.0 with the same personality and attitude... but is actually such a Love Martyr Without a Cause that he makes anyone he's in a relationship with the Bad Boy by default. He ends the series single.
  • Gender flipped in Beast Wars, where good-boy Knight-In-Shinning-Armour Silverbolt can't stop himself from falling for the naughty bad-girl Blackarachnia. And he's not the only one. Cheetor has the hots for her as well. She appears to show some interest in his upgrades after he became the much more badass Transmetal II Cheetor, but still calls him a "nice kid", pointing out that it's already two strikes against him, prompting Cheetor to angrily mutter that he's neither a kid nor that nice. She still goes with Silverbolt, probably because spending years around Predacons has turned her off to this trope (and she's a Maximal at heart anyway).
  • Extreme badass characters on various shows such as Brock Samson on The Venture Bros. 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.
  • 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 biggest jerkass in 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.
  • Kaeloo: Alpha Bitch Pretty and Kaeloo herself have both shown attraction towards Mr. Cat.
    • Also inverted, as Mr. Cat seems to like Nice Girl Kaeloo.
  • 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".
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love", 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!"
    • Discussed on the DVD Commentary for "Lisa's Date with Density", 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.
    • Subverted, as Jessica is actually worse than Bart: she was willing to steal from the Church collection plate while Bart was not. Jessica had set Bart up as a patsy all along, so if they got in trouble, everyone would look at him instead of her.
    • 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.
    • Bart invoked this to make himself popular at a new school. In exchange for attending Ralph's birthday party, Chief Wiggum pretended to take Bart into custody in front of the entire school, calling him a rebel who follows his own rules. One girl promptly swoons after hearing this.
    • Discussed in a later episode when Bart asks Lisa why she still has a thing for Nelson. She goes from denying any kind of attraction, to admitting that he's mysterious, to gushing that he's dark, complex and she's the only one who can change him!
  • 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" (quite possibly a case of Depending on the Writer as it was after Comedy Central picked up the series), 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 ReBoot 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.
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • There's an episode 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): I know!
  • In Total Drama, Courtney and Gwen both dig Duncan.
  • Justice League:
    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...
  • Family Guy
    • 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.
    • The trope is also subverted in one episode when Chris gets a girlfriend and Peter tells him to treat her like crap so that he'd be "cooler than the other side of the pillow." She dumps him almost immediately for it.
  • 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 Superman: The Animated Series, Lana Lang dates Lex Luthor in "My Girl" and tells him she likes bad boys...but given the choice, she'd much prefer Nice Guys like Clark Kent. Played straight in "Superman's Pal" when Jimmy's crush Tina turns out to be involved with Metallo.
  • 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. Rather than being scared away, as Bugs had hoped, she's intrigued by it, and outright calls him one with glee.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Most of the girls at Sherman High School seem to be crushing on Lance.
  • Discussed in Baby Blues. Were Daryl bemoan that his babysitter is going out with a complete jerk who acted like he was 'hurting inside. They try and set her up with a nice boy but she displays no interest in him and runs back to the jerk at the episodes end. The jerk boyfriend even threatens Daryl to get Dizzy together with him again. Despite the threat of violence he refuses and gives the guy a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how nice guys like him are the ones hurting inside because girls flock to utter assholes like him who treat them like crap.
    • Daryl is also the victim of this, since in high school he lost the girl he had a crush on two a guy playing the bad boy to get girls. He's vindicated years later when it turns out that guy became an overweight, balding janitor at not even thirty.
  • Gender reversed on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Both Black Canary and Huntress throw themselves at Batman, but he's solely interested in "reforming" Catwoman.
  • Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake: Marshall Lee believes that Fionna likes him because of this.
    • Fionna also raises a good point to this trope- if Marshall is as bad as he claims, then why would he want to hang out with a nice hero like her? Thus, she knows, it's all just an act.
    • This was also skewered in an early episode. The Ice King, who at that point in the story has little character besides abducting various princesses and attempting to marry them, shaves his beard in a fit of depression, dresses differently, and his line "Well, I'm an ice king" is misheard by a princess as "Well, I'm a nice king." Princesses turn out en masse in their eagerness to meet and court the "Nice King", as do Finn and Jake, who immediately come to offer their services to him. However the Ice King's inability to be truly nice or considerate of anyone else, (as well as his beard rapidly growing back due to the magical influence of his crown, giving him back his distinctive appearance) quickly undoes the ruse and drives everyone away.
  • Directly spoofed on Rugrats. The Pickles family goes to see an incredibly lame musical called "Reptar On Ice." In it, a female news reporter falls in love with the insanely destructive Reptar, despite the fact that he's a dinosaur and she's a human being. Backstage, the actor playing Reptar complains about the ridiculousness of this romance.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • In "Cheer Up Star" Star develops a crush on Oskar Greason, a keytar-playing slacker who "has a record". Given her demonic ex Tom, it's not the first time she's had a crush on a bad boy.
    • Marco, meanwhile, seems to believe in this trope, and thus tries to act like a "misunderstood bad boy". In truth, he's really just a Nice Guy.
  • In the first season of Gravity Falls, Dipper worries that Wendy and Robbie will start a relationship because, even though Robbie's a jerk, "He's a jerk with tight pants and a guitar." When Wendy and Robbie do hook up, it's implied to because of Robbie showing an occasional soft side. They break up largely due to him being unable to keep the 'jerk' aspect buried.

Alternative Title(s): All Guys Want Bad Boys, Bad Boy, Single Woman Seeks Bad Man, All Girls Want Bad Guys