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, sorry, good boys — 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, glosses over the fact that bad boys arebad, 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 redeemed (or even redeemable) or not, use of this trope may give cause for the viewer to question the character's sense or intelligence, particularly if it's immediately obvious to everyone from the outset of the relationship that the man is a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Don't count on Reformed Rakes.
Interestingly, the younger the women, the more prevalent this trope will be. More mature, wiser women (meaning 35 and older) seem to be much more Genre Savvy, thus much less receptive to "bad boy" vibes (or, at the very least, have learnt their lesson through painful experience), although there are always exceptions. Of course, sometimes this occurs when the actual badness is an Informed Attribute, such as with the Loveable Rogue. If the main girl gets the Dogged Nice Guy in the end, beware — some fanficcers will still want the bad boy, and will force him on the main character by bashing thecompetition.
Counterpart trope to All Guys Want Cheerleaders — except these guys probably don't want the cheerleader.
Compare with The Vamp and the Femme Fatale - bad girls that the boys all want. When it goes to the extreme (either intentionally or not), the Girl may find herself becoming a Monster Fangirl or a Love Martyr. The girls may also go to the other end in what they're looking for and seek out the Nice Guy because Single Woman Seeks Good Man — particularly as a Second Love, and often via Just Friends, when they've been burned by this trope.
See Single Woman Seeks Good Man for a typical inversion. A popular subversion is to make the guy look like a bad guy but revealing himself as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with 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.
This portrayal can sometimes be the product of Entitled to Have You or Standard Hero Reward on the part of the good guy we're supposed to root for or the audience or the author. Designed to appeal to a male audience who see themselves as the good guy who gets overlooked.
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Anime and Manga
Sailor Moon originally avoids this in the manga, where Mamoru is more or less a hot nerd, but the anime plays this straight any chance it could (such as giving him a motorcycle or changing him from a high-schooler to a college student). However, this still may be a subversion, since he was a snarky jerk to Usagi for a long time (in the manga, he was merely aloof when interacting with her), and she didn't want him at all until he shaped up.
Played straighter with Naru and Nephrite in the anime. Naru knows Neph isn't a good person and is aware that he has tried to use her, but she admits to a worried Usagi that she can't help loving him. Then Nephrite turns out to not be a monster... only to die in her arms.
Even after everything he's done, girls like Sakura still swoon over 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 but still kind deep down Sasuke she liked is long gone... but she can't help still having affections for him, and that bites her in the ass epically later.
Karin. Dear God, Karin. Although at the end of the Kage Summit arc Karin ditched Sasuke after he tried to kill her, in manga chapter 574 we see her torn between fawning over and bashing a hand-made portrait of him. Time will tell if this was just an act, since she has lockpicks hidden in the picture.
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.
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 Frieza's army, before breaking up with Yamcha. Vegeta, the mass-murdering, ki-blast happyalien 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 onBeam Spam, and in the Buu Saga, when he killed himself to try to destroy Buu on their behalf. Bothfailed.
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. Justified by the fact that 18 and her brother were Anti-VillainFriendly Enemy types rather than the cold-blooded killers of Future Trunks' time. Otherwise, he and the other Z-Fighters would all be dead. And, 16 aside (who would later change his tune anyway), they didn't take the Goku hunt all too seriously.
Ouran High School Host Club parodied this in a chapter where otaku fangirl Renge attacked nearly every club member for not being angsty enough, and declared that filming all of them wallowing in some form of angst would increase their appeal. She was crazy but apparently right, as evidenced by the huge demand for the video.
Tomoya from CLANNAD is a bad boy who is often outright nasty towards the girls he meets, confronting them with his sarcastic attitude and making snide remarks at their expense. He also loves to play pranks on them (especially on Fuko), but that doesn't stop most of the girls from swooning over him toward the end of the series. He ends up with the good girl, Nagisa.
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'sGauron).
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.
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 (not only was he was born under the influence of a curse that turns him into a cat whenever a girl embraces him — or into a monstrous cat-like beast if he ever removes his Bhuddist rosary — as soon as he graduates from high school, his own family is going to lock him up for the rest of his life). As a result, a good part of his "bad boy" attitude comes from genuine psychological problems rather than him being mean.
Gender flipped in Seirei no Moribito, 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 maladjustedGuts. However, Guts isn't really a bad guy, he just looks like one. You just have to get to know him to know that.
Played with in Fantastic Four; Sue Storm is endlessly pursued by Bad BoyAnti-Hero Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner of Atlantis, who isn't exactly shy about letting her know that he has the hots for her, but consistently turns him down in favor of geeky, slightly clueless Reed Richards. Needless to say, the two men don't exactly have a warm friendship. Depending on who's writing her, Sue reacts to Namor's attentions with either barely-concealed interest (which is closer to the spirit of the trope, although she nevertheless continues to spurn him out of loyalty to Reed) or outright irritation. Interestingly, sometimes Reed is on the badboy side, though when Reed is bad, he's more of a Corrupt Corporate Executive than a 100% Bad Boy. There are times when Sue admits that she feels attraction for Namor.
Arguably, the reason so many of the females in Batman's rogues gallery (and superteams) wind up having so much subtext with him. For the villain females, he's just good enough to spark that bit of "I could have something better" but definitely dark enough and bad enough to be Not So Different. The same is true in reverse for the hero females...he's a hero, obviously, but of a very different variety than the primary-colored icons they're otherwise surrounded by.
Batman is also an example of this trope inverted; he tends to go for Bad Girls (Catwoman, Talia Al Ghul, etc). In fact, this tendency was enough to convince him in "Batman RIP" that the woman he was becoming attracted to was The Mole out to betray him to the bad guys - she was a bit too nice for him...
Teen Titans: the original five have this kind of thing going on. Donna could choose between the nice and shy Aqualad, funny Kid Flash, dashing Robin, and badboy Speedy. Guess who did wind up with her. Note, back then, Dick Grayson was pretty clean cut. Now, all girls flock over his dark looks, messy hair, and issues with his daddy (Bats). In short, he didn't got booty until he dropped out of college, grew his hair, and started to talk back to Batman.
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.
Jean Grey in Ultimate X-Men flat out tells Wolverine that, regardless of Xavier's belief in redemption, she doesn't trust him or want him at the Mansion: he's been scarred by the horrors of his Dark and Troubled Past and his work as a former government assassin, and she can't read his mind to confirm her obvious suspicions that he's not nearly as committed to Xavier's cause as he pretends to be. Wolverine doesn't really have to say much else: two panels later, they're making out and she's in bed with him in the next issue.
Cyclops, while a boy scout in general, definitely fits the 'troubled aloof stoic' bad boy criteria, and is the first to point out he's dangerous to be around. Even before his recent descent into Anti-Hero badassery, he's had a steady stream of women pursuing him, including Jean Grey, Madelyn Pryor, Psylocke, and Emma Frost.
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 DoorLana 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.
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.
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.
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 10Hero 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.
Averted in Racer and the Geek. Sunny Breeze, a total Nice Guy, actually finds himself to his neck in love interests, partially because Pinkie Pie and his mother are both acting as the Shipper on Deck, and partially because he is genuinely a very good-hearted individual.
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.
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.
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!
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 him, though.
Subverted in Spider-Man 3: when he gets possessed by the symbiote and becomes a 'bad boy', Peter Parker thinks that he's God's gift to women, but the various looks of exasperation and even disgust he gets from most of the women he encounters tell a very different story - probably because, contrary to expectations, he's still a clueless geek, only, now that he's 'evil', he's just an obnoxious and arrogant one. The seventies disco moves and overparted hair style don't particularly help matters. Ironically, all of the women he does manage to charm were already attracted to the 'good' Peter anyway.
Pirates of the Caribbean plays with it, in that Good Girl Elizabeth has a Good Boy (Norrington), a dyed-in-the-wool bad boy (Captain Jack Sparrow), and Will, who falls somewhere between them, to choose from. By choosing Will, she gets the best of both worlds.
In the crime epic, Goodfellas, Karen admits that seeing Henry pistol-whip her neighbor with a loaded handgun turned her on, where as most women she knew would've gotten out of the relationship quick.
Ginger proves to be this in Casino. While it's debatable if Sam 'Ace' Rothstein was a bad boy or not, Ginger definitely disrespects him in favor of genuine bad boys. First: her ex-pimp, Lester Diamond. Later: Sam's best friend, gangster Nicky Santoro.
In the comedy Don't Tell Her It's Me, Shelley Long helps her nebbish brother, Steve Guttenberg, construct an identity as a "dangerous" biker from New Zealand in an effort to sweep another woman off her feet.
Gender-inverted in Crazy/Beautiful. In this film, it's the poor Latino kid who's the responsible one with the promising future, and the wealthy Anglo girl who has the bad drug habit and truckload of emotional problems. Every adult in the film warns the former to stay away from the latter — including the girl's own father — but, of course, she turns out to simply be a Lonely Rich Kid and everything works out, thanks to The Power of Love.
Jenny from Forrest Gump is a rather blatant example of this. For much of the movie, she keeps moving from one abusive lowlife to another, before returning to the protagonist.
Bond. However, he also steals girls from guys (and psycho lesbians) who're definitely worse.
Deconstructed in Casino Royale 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".
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.
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).
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.
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. "
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!"
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 Getaway (1994), 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.
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 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.
Subverted, or at least rather well Justified, in the romantic subplot running through Lois McMaster Bujold's Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, and Memory. Elli Quinn is deeply in love with the marginally sane mercenary Admiral Miles Naismith and will leap at the chance to marry him, while the prospect of becoming the consort of Lord Vorkosigan of Barrayar horrifies her, even though she knows both men are one and the same. The twist is that Lord Vorkosigan's comparatively subdued public persona is the least of her problems with the latter fate (the phrase "Dirtball barely out of Feudalism" came up in response to the first marriage proposal).
In War and Peace, Natasha is engaged to Good Boy Prince Andre. But after Andre puts the marriage off for a year to please his father, Natasha is seduced by Bad Boy Anton, causing her to break off her engagement with Andre and also to very nearly elope with Anton. Though Anton's plans are foiled, it does succeed in permanently wrecking Natasha's relationship with Andre.
Deconstructed in Wuthering Heights; the all-consuming love between Catherine Earnshaw and brooding bad-boy Byronic Hero Heathcliff is intensely passionate, but it's also clearly depicted as being quite unhealthy for the two (not least because the two are almost brother and sister) and intensely destructive. Especially because, when he is rejected in favor of another man, Heathcliff's response is to embark on a single-minded crusade of vengeance that ends with the ultimately pointless ruination of not only both lovers, but almost everything and everyone else around them. Meanwhile, Catherine's marriage to the kind and loving Edgar Linton (whom she does not love) is described as being reasonably happy - at least, until Heathcliff shows up. There is also Isabella Linton, who wanted a bad boy, married Heathcliff, and got what she wanted in spades...
Jane Eyre: it works out well for Jane and Mr Rochester, probably because he's not as much of a Bad Boy.
Deconstruction in Clarissa, as the titular character gets sick and bored of Lovelace's bad traits extremely quickly and he ends up harming her very badly, ending in her suicide and his guilt-ridden, death-seeking personality.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Helen Huntingdon (Graham), the heroine of Anne Bronte's novel, marries the libertine Arthur Huntingdon, in part because she believes that she can save him from himself. She quickly discovers otherwise. In the process, Bronte makes some pointed jabs at both Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester. 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 The Dresden Files: Blood Rites, and it continues into the next book Dead Beat. Harry also realizes that Molly, his best friend's daughter, has these feelings for him — after all, he's the mysterious stranger in the duster who shows up out of nowhere, deals with dark things, and is the snarky badass to her dad's stodgy crusader. Harry then swiftly drives home that it won't be working like that. With some cold water.
Hand of Mercy's Clemael's temper allows him to backhand a semi-disabled woman into the nearest wall, but said woman is oddly ambivalent as to whether she'll end up with him.
In the short story collection The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, Genre Savvy Puss-in-Boots is well-aware of this trope and suggests that the best way to woo an unattainable woman is to: "convince her her orifice will be your salvation, and she's yours!"
In the Mexican novel El Zarco: The Blue-Eyed Bandit from Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, a beautiful young woman called Manuela is futilely courted by a nice, decent, and hard-working man called Nicolás, when, in reality, she is in love with the eponymous character, who is the leader of a notorious gang of murderous bandits called "Los Plateados". Later, she decides to run away with him, and it's then that she sees all the atrocities they commit.
Often used in Agatha Christie's novels, but particularly Taken at the Flood (1948), to the point where the heroine, Lynn, appears downright insane. She is engaged to Rowley, a simple farmer, but is attracted to newcomer David and his rudeness, aggression, and general ass-holery. However, when she goes to inform Rowley that she's going to elope with David, Rowley is so furious that he almost strangles her to death. When it turns out that David has been the real killer all along, Lynn resumes her engagement to Rowley, having been rather turned on by his murderous impulses. There's a good chance Christie is poking fun at this trope.
Christie returns to this trope in Nemesis, in which she has Miss Marple state:
Young women like bad lots. They always have. They fall in love with bad lots. They are quite sure they can change them. And the nice, kind, steady, reliable husbands got the answer, in my young days, that one would be "a sister to them" which never satisfied them at all.
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.
Mr. Parker Pyne advises a client to pretend to be this. "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."
Rachel from The Hollows is subject to this trope time and again.
Dulcinea Anwin from Tad WilliamsOtherland 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 whathe'sreally like. At which point, she has a Heroic BSOD and tries to turn him in, only to be shot in the stomach and left to die.
In Stephen King's Carrie (and the film adaptation), the Alpha Bitch Chris dates the bad-boy delinquent, Billy. 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.
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.
Daenerys swoons over the dashing badboy Daario even though she realizes that he's a murderous, opportunistic sellsword. On the other hand, she repeatedly fends off the advances of her devoted and loyal bodyguard Jorah because he's middle-aged, plain and not particularly exciting.
The Carrie and Bone subplot of Ander Monson's Other Electricities plays with this, going into detail about Carrie's motivations for wanting Bone, the community's reaction, and the tragic results.
In Shanna Swendson's Enchanted, Inc., Katie muses on this trope when she sees how powerful Owen is, and how attractive it makes him. She's never been attracted to bad boys, but maybe the thrill is the dangerousness, not the actual evil; she explicitly wonders if the potential is enough or you have to do actual bad things to qualify as a bad boy.
The tongue-in-cheek book Nice Guys Don't Get Laid has this as its central thesis. It's basically a Faux To Guide for nice guys on how to become a bad boy.
The landlord's daughter, Bess, from Alfred Noyes' poem The Highwayman has a Star-Crossed Lovers relationship with the titular character. Downplayed as he's utterly devoted to her, despite his dodgy occupation.
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."
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 he takes a change for the dangerous and 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" however its 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 Godholds that the Dating Catwoman thing just wouldn't have worked in this case.
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.
Happy Endings turns this into "All gay gays 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.
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 Seventh Heaven, with few exceptions (none prominent enough for this contributor to name), were bad boys. The Camden boys were even aware of (and made their own love lives difficult over) this trope.
Spike once tried to kill his girlfriend (Harmony) because he found her annoying. He spent most of their relationship either manipulating her, threatening her with violence, insulting her, or forgetting about her completely (except when he wanted something from her). He was arguably less of a bastard with Buffy and Drusilla (although still a bad boy), but both women were manipulative and abusive towards him (not to mention, possibly stronger than him) and he probably wouldn't have been able to get away with it. Buffy seems attracted to him mostly for this reason and Drusilla ditches him specifically because she doesn't think he's evil enough.
Angel is a perfect example of this, too. He has the broody bad boy look, a Dark and Troubled Past, and if he's truly happy, even for a second, he's going to start mass murdering people. Spike might be a Serial Killer, too, and goes on about how Evil Feels Good, but even without his soul, there are limits to how evil he is willing to be. Angel doesn't have any such limits and his re-ensoulment was less stable than Spike's.
In the pilot episodes, Xander's friend, Jesse, was a clueless geek who could never get Cordelia to notice him...until he was turned into a badass evil vampire, at which point, she couldn't keep her eyes off him.
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 who is pretty much loathed by the fanbase, and one she almost completely ignorednote His name was Scott Hope. Remember him? No? Look him up. We'll wait. 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 lampshaded 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.
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 he 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, but 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).
In Veronica Mars, after seeing that he does have a softer side, Veronica finds herself making out with her high school's "obligatory psychotic jackass", Logan. Their relationship redefines the phrase "on-again, off-again", especially in the third season.
Particularly jarring is the finale, where Veronica still appears interested, despite the fact that he only recently beat the stuffing out of her current, genuinely nice boyfriend, "Piz", for suspecting that he posted a sex tape online...despite Piz having no reason or inclination to do so. Logan's response to any situation is to start hitting it, really. Apparently, that's endearing.
That's over-simplifying Logan's actions but yeah, point taken. 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). Granted, she's clearly turned on by the whole thing, hence her guilty look to Piz.
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 reaction to House's... unique method of breaking up with her.
To a point, Danny on CSI: NY… he wasn't a complete bad boy, but had some bad boy qualities surfacing in his backstory and onscreen now and then. Granted, he'd settled a lot by the time he married Lindsay.
The IT Crowd featured an episode in which Roy tried to demonstrate the validity of this trope after a bad date, by posting an online lonely hearts ad consisting largely of abuse. He later struggled to maintain his bad boy persona during a date with the woman who answered. Then a genuine bastard showed up. Guess who the woman left with?
In Growing Pains, it's the Seaver parents who are convinced that other parents would not like their children to hang around their troublesome son. In latter seasons, partially due to the actor's religious conversion, Mike's "bad boy" persona has been toned down considerably. One may see it as Mike becoming mature.
Sean Slater on EastEnders; he's an unpleasant, bullying, smug, and vicious borderline sociopath with hardly any redeeming qualities whatsoever…who, despite pretty much being an openly nasty piece of work, has to beat women off him with a stick.
Charlie Stubbs on Coronation Street who, if not quite as sociopathic, was nonetheless a thoroughly obvious nasty piece of work whom women seemed to find irresistible. Unluckily for him, he ended up with a woman who was a full blown sociopath.
Gilmore Girls. Rory Gilmore, over the course of the series, seems determined to date the baddest boy in the series - first dumping wholesome Dean for Jess. After Jess leaves town, she ends up back with Dean, who is a significantly darker character, given that he's cheating on his wife with Rory. Later, she again dumps Dean for Logan, who is a member of a secret society and a rebel against the wealthy society of his upbringing.
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.
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 did try to rape two separate characters in the pilot episode. In the later half of the season, after Lily and Rufus become official, Jenny deflects Chuck's mean comments by reminding him of what he did to her, including a mild threat of what would happen should she ever chose to tell Rufus. This does prompt an apology from Chuck but, contrary to what one might expect, Jenny receives this not with a gushing sentiment that all is forgiven, but with a stony (if stunned) silence.
Also, Carter Baizen in seasons two (Blair) and three (Serena), though the latter season seems to be pushing for Carter as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold rather than a true bad boy
Dexter picks up a stalker who is in love with him largely because he is an unrepentant serial killer.
Rita and her first husband. To a lesser extent, Rita and Dexter. Apart from being a serial killer, he had an affair and was constantly too busy working and murdering people to commit to her. Lila and Lumen both seemed attracted to Dexter specifically because they knew there was something not quite right with him.
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.
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.
Alex is a good gender swapped example of this. All of her Cool LoserAnti-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?"
A Saturday Night Livesketch parodied the Phil Donahue Show, with all the guests as women with abusive boyfriends. The sketch ends with a nice man in the audience telling them they should find a man who truly appreciates them, but they tell him to sit down because they're more interested in the jerkass behind him who's berating his girlfriend. When he grabs the mic and starts bad-mouthing them, they immediately fall for him, including the lesbian guest, who asks if he has any sisters like himself.
During the sketch Phil, lists all the wrongs one woman's boyfriend committed. She still defends him:
Phil Donahue: Now, your last boyfriend... [reads cards] ....got drunk, totaled your car, with you in it! Which left you in intensive care for over a year and... [Phyllis starts to cry] ...during your painful convalescence he never visited you, he withdrew your life savings, spent the money on other women! Held orgies in your apartment, got you evicted... [lifts his head, stares effortlessly and shakes it in disgust] ...and yet I understand you still live with this man.
Phyllis Sykes: [Suddenly smiles] Well... you would really have to meet him!
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."
Cook from Skins is made of this trope, although there are more than a few instances where it's suggested that he deliberately plays up to this image.
And Tony from the 1st generation, who is a complete jerkass towards his girlfriend, Michelle. Also, he sleeps with another girl AND tries it on with Maxxie in the episode where they go on a school trip to Russia, yet Michelle still can't stop herself and goes back to him.
Degrassi plays this straight time and again, but subverts it when bad goes too far. Sean, Craig, Jay, Spinner, Lucas, Johnny, and Eli have all carried the badboy image at one point. Most of them lose the girl when they are too bad (Sean, Jay, Lucas, Johnny, almost Eli), or the girl was trying to save them in the first place (Craig, Spinner, Johnny).
Emma seems to only want bad boys. There's Sean, Peter, Jay, and Spinner.
On Yes Dear, Jimmy advices his eldest son, Dominic, to stop catering to his date's desires, after witnessing the first date, in which Jimmy sees him being treated as less than equal. When Jimmy's wife finds out about this, Jimmy states this trope as his belief, whereas his wife disagrees.
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 UK version of The Office, as well as the first couple seasons of the US version, with Dawn engaged to Lee and Pam engaged to Roy.
In Pam's case, it's less this trope than her simply believing she doesn't deserve anyone or anything better for herself.
In Parks and Recreation, Ann was dating irresponsible, lazy, and dimwitted Andy, despite the fact that Andy frequently and obviously takes advantage of her. When they finally do break up, he then starts drawing the attention of April. 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.
True Blood - the most obvious use of this trope is probably Bill and Sookie: Bill is a controlling, manipulative, partially reformed serial killer who broods a lot and identifies Sookie as his property on more than one occasion. Sookie is instantly more attracted to him than the approximately equally good looking Sam, who treats her with a lot more respect and is a much nicer guy (despite doing creepy things now and then). Then there's Eric (of course), who (as well as being an unreformed serial killer) is a drug-dealing former nazi who tortures people in his basement. Sookie and the female fanbase seem to be exceedingly attracted to him, especially after his hotness upgrade in seasons two and three. And Franklin is a psychotic mass murderer who repeatedly raped one of the most vulnerable characters on the show, but out of the show's universe, the female fans have sewed him up a nice pair of leather pants.
To a lesser extent, this trope fits almost every male character on the show except Hoyt and 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 babydaddy 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...
This is something of a recurring theme with Britta Perry in Community, whose past romantic involvements seem to involve a long line of 'bad-boys', weirdoes and damaged goods:
"Competitive Wine Tasting" sees her begin to develop urges towards Troy after he makes up a story about being molested by his uncle to avoid feeling left out in drama class (long story).
Deconstructed in "Origins of Vampire Mythology", where Britta — previously established to have a thing for bad boys and messed-up losers - discovers an old boyfriend who works with a carnival is in town and ends up having to be restrained to prevent herself from flinging herself into an ill-advised sexual encounter which she will only end up regretting. Over the course of the episode, it's gradually suggested that Britta's urgings stem from severe self-esteem issues and that she initiates these relationships as a self-destructive way of validating her own lack of self-worth; when her friends are texting her as her boyfriend to try and throw her off, their increasingly nasty and dismissive text messages serve only to prompt increasingly pathetic and desperate responses from Britta, until a 'nice' text message serves to break the spell and cause her to dismiss the boyfriend as a 'loser'. Unfortunately, she happened to say this in earshot of Troy, who actually sent the message, hurting his feelings and prompting a calling out over how fucked up she and her relations with men both are by Annie.
Also deconstructed with the boyfriend, who — when we encounter him — turns out to be a fairly pleasant, laid-back and amiable guy, on the surface at least. It's suggested that this is why people are drawn to him despite the fact that he's apparently a jerk, since his laid-back attitude conceals his inner flaws and makes him a lot more engaging than he would be if he was just an asshole up front, as is common with a lot of depictions in this trope. It's also revealed that he brain damage which means he literally feels no shame, meaning that he also literally cannot help being an asshole whenever he feels like it.
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 her 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.
Boy Meets World - KidAnova Shawn has a troubled home life and somewhat 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.
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.
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). Maybe justified by the environment and the fact that women dig doctors.
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.
"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.
I'll forgive, and forget. If you say you'll never go. Cause its true. What they say, its better the devil you know.
Jewel's song Foolish Games is a Deconstruction that analyzes this from the perspective of a girl who's been deeply hurt by her Jerkass of a boyfriend, who's described as having many of the aspects of this trope.
Boys like you, are bad through and through/Still, girls like me, always seem to be with you!
Be Hit by Smog.
It seems that my sensitive touch
Could be given by any old schmuck
"Becoming More Like Alfie" by The Divine Comedy is about a former Nice Guy who's decided to become a Bad Boy after striking out once too often with girls who like the latter over the former.
"Biker Like An Icon" by Paul McCartney is about a girl who's infatuated with a rough-and-tough biker and follows him around, hoping to meet him. It's deconstructed, however, since "the biker doesn't like her", and when they finally meet up, it's implied he rapes and murders her.
Rule Breaker by Ashlee Simpson is this.
Judas by Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga admitted this was about her then-exboyfriend, a notorious bad boy. The video is also clearly about the bad boy—the betrayer—in the group.
Mr.Wrong by Mary J. Blige. In the song, she gets along with her "bad boy" boyfriend good but he hurts her a lot. She tries to leave but can't get herself to do it because she loves him. This can be interpreted either as a love song or sad song.
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.
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.
In Classical Mythology, Aphrodite's passionate (and lasting) affair with the dangerous, bloodthirsty war-god Ares makes this trope Older Than Feudalism. Though the fact that her husband Hephaestus was hella ugly and the marriage wasn't even her idea probably helped too.
Loki (yes, the guy who tricked a blind god into killing his own brother) is married to the giantess Sigyn. For his crime, he was bound with the entrails of his sons to three rocks, and a snake constantly drops venom in his eyes. But Sigyn still stands by him and catches the venom in a bowl. Sometimes, she has to empty it, then we get earthquakes. Doesn't that sound like a hybristophile following her object of affection into prison?
Kind of, but not really. It's more like the wife of a rebel trying to ease her husband's pain when he gets sentenced to an eternity of punishment by the "evil" state.
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.
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.
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-HeroCM Punk, wearing his shirts and mimicking his mannerism to a degree. Then there's JerkassDaniel 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.
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 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.
Parodied in Final Fantasy VII, when the evilscientist 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.
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 stillloves him anyway...
Oghren from Dragon Age: Origins lampshades this, joking that Berserkers can get all the women they want because women are attracted to men who are mysteriously angry and sulk in the shadows. (Not that it works in his case...)
The trope is discussed in a conversation between Alistair and Leliana, where Alistair ponders why Zevran is so successful with the ladies.
In the expansion, Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, Oghren comments that Nathaniel Howe's tall, dark, and broody appearance must make him very popular with women.
Oghren himself confides in the player that the Berserker habit of 'standing still and looking mysteriously angry' goes down well with the ladies
Lampshaded in Dragon Age 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"). 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).
In Mass Effect 2, Shepard can invoke this trope to explain why Kelly finds Thane alluring. If Shepard is male, Kelly says that that's a dirty stereotype, which just happens to be true in her case. If Shepard is female, Kelly asked if that includes her. Femshep can reply that dangerous men fit right into her dangerous life.
It can be gender reversed with a Paragon male Shepard romancing Jack.
In Guilty Party, both dialogue and cutscenes seem to suggest that nefarious Mr. Valentine, the "Shakespeare of Crime", does not lack for feminine affection. He even seduces one female culprit into working for him! Several others seem to have crushes on him.
Fallout: New Vegas opens with Benny shooting the Player Character in the head. Later on, they can give this trope as an excuse while seducing him. It should be noted that he is (understandably) Squicked out by the offer, but eventually relents.
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 orgasaming over Link's badness.
In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Ashara Zavros and the Male Sith Inquisitor. Played straight in the Dark Side route, where the relationship has a heavy dose of psychological manipulation and outright torture, while subverted if Light Side, where the Inquisitor is more of a Noble Demon and Ashara becomes their Morality Chain.
Interestingly toyed with in Fire Emblem Awakening. Henry is a beautifulwhite haired youthwith some screws loose due to a Dark and Troubled Past, and as a result he's a merciless Blood Knight with quite the 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 in 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. And he also turns out to be a surprisingly loving and dedicated father to any child he has.
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.
Used in a gay sort of way with Abe And 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 do...you 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 on thisSomething 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 popularisers) in this strip from Hark! A Vagrant, in which there is clearly something wrong with Anne Bronte.
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 this name is not a misspelling; it is how his name is spelled in-universe 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 her name is spelled this way in the webcomic itself built around the idea that women are nothing without men and need men to "complete" them.
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.
And again in this video with Adam, Eve, and the Snake.
In one Whateley Universe story, Loophole's student advisor warns her about Kodiak, pointing out that, no matter how romantic the bad boys seem, they're still bad, and it takes more than one girl's love to make them good - so if she's trying to change him, she needs to be bloody careful (especially considering that Kodiak is one of the most dangerous people at Whateley, at least among the student population). Loophole takes it to heart and later informs Kodiak that she knows he only really respects people who can stand up to him - and she proceeds to fight him and (almost) win so he'll really respect her. It works.
Gender-inverted with The Nostalgia Critic. He likes aggressive women so much that he would be happy for the prison characters of Chicago to kill him, he picked up a psycho Stalker with a Crush partner when he was a teenager because he broke up with them three times, his prom date ended up raping him, he has a complicated relationship with The Nostalgia Chick, and he keeps getting with Rapey!Spoony.
And now that we mentioned her, The Nostalgia Chick. She gets manipulated into sex with Spoony, can't stop dating drunk guys, has a "history" with the Critic, and keeps on fawning over an asshole with no interest in her. Both of these can be considered deconstructed though, as the Critic's a "glutton for punishment" with very little power and the Chick herself is a Bastard Girlfriend with issues.
Also shows up on her list of the top ten hottest animated guys, where most of the list fall under this trope, whether into the "brooding tortured loner" version or the "horrible, horrible person that may or may not have a heart of gold in there somewhere who girls can have sexy fun rehabilitating" version.
Parodied in thisNigahiga video. It shows Ryan and Kevin trying to pick up girls by acting like total jerks.
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 critisizes 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.
Kim Possible admits to Ron (in the appropriately titled episode "Bad Boys") that she likes the Troubled, but Cute type. Ron sees a pattern, and attempts to cultivate a bad boy persona as date-bait. This coincides with a Transformation Ray that makes him a genuine supervillain. Ironically, not Disney, but Nickelodeon would grant Kim's wish in one of their magazine's prank comic books◊ that announced she was dating...
Katara also was quite goo-gaa over Jet in his first episode. At least, until she saw for herself that Jet and his gang were about to destroy an occupied Earth Kingdom village.
The titular character in The Legend of Korra naturally falls for the dark, brooding, distant Mako instead of his cheerful, approachable younger brother Bolin.
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.
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.
Spoofed briefly in Dilbert; Alice gets involved with a prison inmate. When his appeal goes through and he is found innocent, she promptly dumps him.
Similarly spoofed in the episode where Alice falls head over heels for Bob Bastard, a disfigured and evil testing engineer. That is, until Dilbert (somewhat unwittingly) reveals what he's really like...At the very least, everyone (save Dilbert) fell for him.
Yin of Yin Yang Yo ignores Coop the chicken when he's in his normal geeky state, but when he's tainted with evil, she's mad about him [this also goes for other males in their world. She finds evil "dreamy"].
In "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, as she was willing to steal from the Church collection plate while Bart was not. Jessica had Bart set up as a pasty 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.
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.
There's an episode of The Powerpuff Girls where Buttercup develops a crush on Ace from the Gangreen Gang who, naturally, upon noticing, decides to suck up to her to get her on his side while the rest of his gang try to kill her sisters.
In a later episode which shows the girls as teenagers, all three flirt with the Rowdyruff Boys.
Bubbles: We can't talk to them! They're bad. Blossom and Buttercup (excited): We know!
In one Slacker Cats episode, Eddie seduces a female cat by pretending to be a hardcre bad boy, this proves too much for him because, while he was always a bit of a jerk, he was never as bad as she wanted. Eventually, he tries to prove how evil he is by robbing a baby panda, but it backfires and, eventually, she leaves him to date Dooper, the local homeless cat (who she considered more "bad"). But due to the Reset Button, this never lasted after the episode.
In Kick Buttowski, Kick has a crazy stalker in Wacky Jackie. He also has gotten Kendall (who has a boyfriend already) to fall hard for him.
On American Dad!, one episode has Hayley fall for a Saudi terrorist who is torn between his mission and his love for her. Actually an Invoked Trope—he isn't a terrorist at all, he just uses that schtick to get American girls to sleep with him.
Gwen in Ben 10: Alien Force gets one towards Kevin, someone she wouldn't even considered talking to before her Girliness Upgrade. Partially subverted in that she seems more appreciating of his softer side, and usually gets pissed off by him acting like a jerk or doing illegal deals.
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.