"We're sexy! We're cute! We're popular to boot! We're bitchin'! Great hair! The boys all want to stare! We're wanted! We're hot! We're everything you're not! We're pretty! We're cool! We dominate this school! Who am I? Just guess! Guys wanna touch my chest! Hate us 'cause we're beautiful but we don't like you either We're cheerleaders! We! Are! Cheerleaders!"
In almost no movie or TV show from the USA will you find a male character who finds cheerleaders anything other than a turn-on. This, despite the fact that the cheerleaders are almost universally presented as shallow, bitchy and led by the Alpha Bitch.
It might have something to do with the (greater or lesser) element of sexual titillation in many of the cheers. Beside being a lifesaver for people who hate sports but like girls, a little sexual excitement can boost the transient testosterone of the competitors, or at least remind the crypto-warriors of 'what they're fighting for', as well as who they don't want to be embarrassed in front of...
This is part of the same syndrome that leads to Hollywood Homely. Most American television also banks on the idea their viewing audience may not have gone to college but did go to high school, where cheerleaders were prominent, attractive, and unattainable.
It is worth noting that Reality Is Unrealistic in terms of the girls' outfits. Fictional cheerleaders often perform in uniforms that wouldn't be allowed in a high school. In real life, sleeves are optional, but bellies are covered and skirts are fingertip-length. Not that it really matters, since cheerleaders on screen are usually played by adults anyway.
Commonly carries Unfortunate Implications, stereotyping men as brainless and shallow and cheerleaders as slutty.
It should be stressed again that that while cheerleaders are universally seen as sexy in American TV and movies it is by no means a certainty that the male lead will end up with them; indeed they will often be depicted as a vindictive Alpha Bitch or shallow Brainless Beauty who will be dumped in favor of a Girl Next Door, Hollywood Nerd, or Cool Loser.
See also The Cheerleader for how the girl herself is usually portrayed.
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Anime and Manga
Syaoran and Yamazaki both have Love Interests on the school cheerleading squad, but their love for Sakura and Chiharu (respectively) has pretty much nothing to do with that.
Suzuna, the head cheerleader for the Deimon Devilbats in Eyeshield 21 took the place of Sena's love interest (To a broad extent) after the writer seemed to want Mamori and Hiruma. Though this is a bit of a variation as Suzuna is the least developed of the cheerleaders along with the fact that, as a shounen series about football, the romance between the two isn't very developed either.
Although she's the lead's love interest, in a subversion, it's the team's manager who's wanted by most of the guys.
Lina from Heroman doesn't conform to the usual stereotypes, being neither an Alpha Bitch nor a Brainless Beauty, and actually shows a liking for Joey. And the only people who object to any interaction between these two are Lina's brother and his friends.
Otogi No Machi No Rena: Ogata, Jirou, his brother and the guy that works at the gym all want Rena, a cheerleader.
At first it seemed like May would join the school cheerleading squad, and one cover even showed her in the outfit, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely with each new issue of Spider-Girl.
In Young Justice Superboy refuses to go out on patrol with Impulse because he'd rather watch the televised national Cheerleading finals. Sucks to be him as that's where Impulse ends up to stop a robbery and saves the day!
The Eds fall head-over-heels in love in the Calvin At Camp episode "A Stalker's Life."
Played straight with Vinel/Cotton in The Capitol Games, subverted with Britney whom no one seems to want.
Averted with Naveen in Disney High, who shows more interest in Esmeralda and Tiana than he does Lottie.
Inverted in Shinra High Soldier, where multiple characters wonder why Sephiroth would want to date a cheerleader.
Films — Animated
Subverted in ParaNorman. Mitch is gay and has no idea Courtney has been trying to flirt with him.
Films — Live-Action
Played with in A History of Violence, where Tom Stall's wife decides that since they didn't grow up together, he deserves a night with a cheerleader. Turns out she can still fit into her old cheerleading uniform, or had one specially made...
Played straight and subverted in American Beauty. Kevin Spacey's character becomes infatuated with his daughter's cheerleader friend, Angela to the point of having weird fantasies about her in the middle of her routine. However, one of her classmates pointedly ignores her in favor of depressed, introverted Jane. Jane, ironically, is also a cheerleader, but so far from the stereotype that she doesn't really count.
Parodied in Animal House. Budding playboy (and future gynecologist) Otter subverts the main cheerleader's romance (such as it is) with the college jock by cheating with her (and getting further than he does). True to her archetype, she casually blows him off and dismisses his performance, the only blow to his persona that occurs. He consoles himself by seducing and satisfying the wife of the Dean of the college.
Double Subverted with Brian Flagg in the 1988 version of The Blob. He doesn't show much interest in Meg at first, but they end up together by the end of the movie.
Mocked in Bowfinger. Eddie Murphy's main character keeps getting in trouble for exposing himself to the LA Lakers cheerleaders. It's how they blackmail him into doing the movie at the end.
Bring It On: Most notably Cliff from the first movie, but a lot of men across the franchise. This is the reasoning behind the bikini car wash as a fundraising effort in the first movie.
In Dead Poets Society, Chris is a cheerleader, and while this doesn't seem to make a difference for Knox, it probably has something to do with why she's with Chet, a football player.
Played for laughs in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: the teenage member of the gym is in love with a cheerleader at his school - however, his response to try and win her over is to join the cheerleading team himself. It's subverted, however, that the cheerleader is clearly in love with him as well, but he's a little too geeky to actually realize this.
Fired Up plays this for comedy. Two of the most popular guys in school ditch football camp to go to cheer camp, originally for no other reason than to score with all the female cheerleaders. In the end, they end up enjoying being male cheerleaders, and for one of them, lust is replaced by love.
Played with in The Gals Of Galaday in that more attractive girls aren't cheerleaders to begin with, but still get most of the attention.
The Goonies: In Brand's case itís a girl who happens to be a cheerleader.
Somewhat lampshaded in Grosse Pointe Blank, as the character played by Jeremy Piven confesses that despite all of his successes, he feels worthless without gaining the attention of the Alpha Bitch from high school.
Averted in High School Musical. There aren't any major cheerleader characters until #3, and even then, the only reference we get to a date with a cheerleader (in this case, Jason wanting to date Martha, the hip-hop loving nerd) is in a deleted scene.
Gregorys Girl: Dorothy immediately becomes the most popular girl in school when she joins the soccer team, gaining her a lot of attention from the boys, much to Gregory's frustration.
Heather from John Tucker Must Die. Kate later joins the cheer leading squad in order to get John's attention.
Inverted in Juno: the titular character observes that guys are secretly more attracted to the edgy oddball girls than the generic cheerleaders. This is perhaps wishful thinking from Juno, who is an oddball girl herself.
Although it's pretty understated, Steve the cool kid is seen staring at her a couple of times during the movie.
A deleted scene from The Last Seduction has Bridget dressing up as a cheerleader for Mike.
The Replacement: Shane falls for the gorgeous head cheerleader for the Sentinels but in his defense, she's sweet, funny, and probably knows more about football than he does...even if she does drive like a maniac. She's also a cheerleader who owns a sports bar. That has to be a Geeky Turn-On for sports fans.
The less nerdy nerd in Revenge of the Nerds finds a compatible girlfriend, a quietly pretty girl-next-door who shares his love of computers. However, the Chief Nerd will not rest until he has had the Chief Jock's Cheerleader, who also happens to be the Alpha Bitch of the story. Breaking not only the trope but also a few laws of the universe; he actually wins her over in the end.
Subverted in Saved! in that Patrick is willing to hang out with the Alpha Bitch but is really interested in very non-cheerleader Mary.
Averted by Mox in Varsity Blues, who actually turns down a cheerleader because he prefers his girlfriend.
Averted in 17 Again. Neither Scarlet nor Maggie are cheerleaders despite the fact that they date the captains of the basketball team in their respective decades. The actual cheerleaders appear to be Mike's pals and/or background dancers.
But then of course there's Alex who does want a cheerleader, and actually gets her.
Let It Snow: Skimmed over in The Jubilee Express and addressed in A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle.
Seasons Of Love: Josh used to date Stacey before he met Vanessa, and Kent falls for Jessie shortly after meeting her.
In Maggie Furey's Shadowleague trilogy, this seems to be the driving force behind Zavahl's willingness to sleep with Ailie, though nobody really cared why he did it at that point. It made him a better person.
Shadow Whispering: Mike Bailey, whom ends up becoming far more interested in Veronica than Ashley.
Spellsinger: Jon-Tom had a crush on Flores Quintera, the stunningly beautiful cheerleading captain.
In The Squad Toby's transformation into a cheerleader causes her to be adored by most of the male student population.
On Boston Legal, senior partner (and senior citizen) Shirley Schmidt admits during a heart-to-heart with Denny Crane that when she's depressed, she tries on her old cheerleading uniform to cheer herself up. Denny find this to be quite exciting, as does his friend and fellow Shirley-admirer Alan Shore when Denny shares this information with him. In a later episode, the two men find the uniform in a box (presumably left there by Shirley herself to cheer them up), and they dance with it while making alternatingly affectionate and lewd comments about it. To be fair, both Alan and Denny were sexually attracted to Shirley long before they knew about her cheerleading tendencies.
In The Brady Bunch episode Gregís Triangle Jennifer Nichols knows exactly how to play Greg's sweet spot and weakness for hot-looking chicks, especially when she is so wanting that head cheerleader spot.
Subverted. Oz and Xander are watching the cheerleaders practice. Xander comments on how attractive they are, to which a bored Oz replies "Their spelling's improved." Eventually Oz, a popular young musician, ends up going out with computer-nerd Willow and Dorkish Xander gets Cheerleader Cordie.
Angel is this. Buffy and Cordelia, his two major love interests, are former cheerleaders.
Xander: People scoff at things like school spirit, but look at these girls giving their all like this! (He notices Amber doing the splits between two chairs)Ooo, stretchy! Where was I? Willow: You were pretending that seeing scantily clad girls in revealing postures was a spiritual experience. Xander: Who said I was pretending?
KC certainly wanted Marisol, despite him being with Jenna and his son.
J.T. with Paige, at least initially and Manny in season three. With the latter he even has a short relationship but it doesn't last long.
In an episode of Dream On, Martin is suffering from impotence. Trying to cure it, he goes to bed with a busty, blonde cheerleader, naked except for her short skirt and pom-poms. She does the "We got spirit, yes we do!" chant while straddling him. The fact that this doesn't make him "rise to the occasion" seems proof that his condition is really bad.
Referenced in Frasier when Niles is given the opportunity to meet a cheerleader for a basketball team. Roz says in annoyance that not all guys want cheerleaders, while Niles' response is "Is it the ''head' cheerleader?"
Subverted in Freaks and Geeks When Sam learns that cheerleader Cindy and him really have nothing in common and break up. Played Straight by his friends, who think he's nuts for doing so.
On Friends, Rachel claimed that she had never failed to score when wearing her cheerleader uniform, leading to her donning it at a party in a desperate attempt to win the attention of one particular guy.
Subverted on Glee. Finn the star quarterback is dating 'Cheerio' Quinn, however not only is he attracted to Genki Girl Rachel but he is also sexually frustrated due to Quinn also being president of the celibacy club. It should also be noted that all the female celibacy club members are cheerios and all the male members are guys just trying to get into their pants. Furthermore, the point of the celibacy club seemed to be more about teasing the guys, rather than staying celibate for religious or moral reasons.
Naturally on Hang Time. It gives Julie some competition.
An episode of Happy Days revolves around Richie, Ralph and Potsie wanting to date cheerleaders "instead of the girls we usually date," and staging a beauty contest with fake prizes to get the shallow cheerleaders to participate.
A similar example is brewing in The Hard Timesof RJ Berger - after spending the entire first season chasing Jenny (who is portrayed as having a good heart, but about whom we know little else beyond the fact than she's the head cheerleader), RJ is quickly realizing they don't have much to talk about.
Played With for Heroes' Claire, who is a cheerleader and undeniably attractive, but so withdrawn because of her issues with her powers that she only ever winds up dating loners like West.
Kamen Rider Fourze: Miu and Shun are the school's power couple. Gentaro thinks she's a babe, too.
Bradley apparently hooked up with a group of cheerleaders in an episode of LA 7.
On Life With Derek Casey joined the pep squad because she assumed this was expected of her as the football hero's girlfriend.
In Lizzie McGuire, Lizzie wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad so Ethan Craft would notice her, and naturally Gordo expresses his disgust at her invoking the trope.
In the M*A*S*H episode "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan", Hawkeye's pretending to be smothered by cheerleaders after winning a (made-up) basketball game when he is interrupted by Radar. Hawkeye asks whether anything of the sort ever occurred to him.
Chauncey from My Family And Me became so enamoured over Farrah when she became a cheerleader. He admits that he likes cheerleaders.
Subverted in My Name Is Earl, where, in a desperate move, Earl has to seduce a cheerleader who had been mauled by a rabid badger. Since she's so flexible, no matter what position he takes, he's always looking at her horribly scarred face. Eww.
In an episode of NUMB3RS, Megan and Colby are searching the dorm room of an impostor university student. Remarking on his suspiciously stereotypical college-boy belongings, Megan makes conversation by asking Colby what he was into in school. His response: "Cheerleaders".
Played straight and averted by Eddie from October Road. He was known for bedding the cheerleaders and a succession of pretty women. He then starts dating Janet, who is quite the opposite of Eddie's usual tastes.
Subverted in The Office (US), where Jim is sort of embarrassed by Katy's past as a cheerleader.
In Perfect Strangers, Cousin Larry once noted, "Sure, the girls in the Math Club were all right, but just once, just once, I wanted a cheerleader."
Completely turned on its head in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, where Libby Chesler, head cheerleader, is constantly drooling over jock (barely, he mostly warms the bench at games) Harvey Kinkle, who is dating Sabrina the entire time.
* On Teen Angel Steve gets a crush on Jessica Fishman, a popular cheerleader. He winds up dating her for most of the series. Granted, the series lasted 17 episodes...
Inverted in That 70s Show, where Hyde, among other reasons, doesn't want to date Jackie because she's a cheerleader, thus a "square", opposed to him. However, after they get together, she once does a dance for him in her uniform.
Played straight in Eric's dream sequence where all 3 women in the "Pick a Chick" segment are attractive cheerleaders.
Played for Laughs in the Victorious episode "Wi-Fi in the Sky" where Beck is taking care of a puppy for his neighbor. When his girlfriend Jade discovers that his neighbor is a cheerleader, she storms over to his house and stays there until the neighbor returns from cheer practice to pick up the dog. An hour later the neighbor arrives— she is about 9 or 10. Cue mortified scowling by Jade.
On What I Like About You Val buys and puts on a cheerleader uniform for Jeff, though it gets awkward when he comes to introduce her to his mother while she has it on.
In the drama Wizards of Waverly Place, there seems to be no other reason for putting Alex and Harper on the cheerleading squad.
Harper being an overly cheerful girl perhaps?
The Cheer Up, Charlie Daniels song "Pig Tails" is about one of these guys realizing that his girlfriend's The Cheerleader. (She's already a cheerleader, but as far as personality goes.) He notes that she 'used to be sweeter', indicating that she may have been nicer before. It's surprisingly sad.
Takeuchi Saki of SKE 48. From her third year of elementary school to her first year of middle school, she was part of the Cheer Dragons, the official cheer leading team for the Chunichi Dragons (baseball team). She also danced in Nagoya Dome with her cheer team.
In "You Belong with Me," Taylor Swift just knows that she can't compete with her crush's girlfriend, who is of course cheer captain. Although according the video she can because She's Taylor Swift and looks freaking gorgeousincluding with the glasses it's idealistic.
Tokyo Girls Style: "Ganbatte Itsudatte Shinjiteru" and "We Will Win ~Kokoro no Baton de Po Pon no Po~n~" depict them in cheerleading outfits.
The Trents: The original song "Green River Reflections" is basically this trope.
Stacy Keibler: Enforced during various gimmick matches. She had been one for the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team, though.
Subverted by Sandy in Grease. She has a brief stint as a cheerleader, in order to attempt to catch Danny's eye. It turns out she's horrible at it and is dropped from the squad. It doesn't make her any more attractive to Danny, either.
Almost all of the boys in 13 have crushes on a cheerleader. This is justified by the fact that it's a small school and the only girl who's not a cheerleader is the geeky Patrice who later ends up dating The Hero Evan, subverting this trope.
Although it seems the one cheerleader everyone wants is Kendra. When Lucy dates Brett, he just seems to want to have Kendra back as his girlfriend.
Battlefield: Bad Company: How Sweetwater convinces Haggard to keep fighting since the whole ultimate EMP weapon the story is based on going off over America makes it tough for commercial football to continue.
In Bully, cheerleader Mandy Wiles is the self-proclaimed best looking and most popular girl in school and a total Alpha Bitch.
in lollipop chainsaw swan is revealed to have a borderline stalker crush on juliet even though she already has a boyfriend.
master Morikawa repeatedly makes references to having juliet do cartwheels to see her underwear and during his attempt at fighting swan lands face first in her breasts repeatedly.
Sandy from Maniac Mansion is a cheerleader, and several characters are implied to have the hots for her:
The most obvious example is her boyfriend Dave.
At the start of the game, Bernard tries to back out of the rescue mission, but decides to stick around when Dave tells him that Sandy's the one they're trying to rescue.
The Purple Tentacle chases her around Dr. Fred's lab in one cutscene. She's understandly Squicked out by it.
In Psychonauts, Edgar Teglee's backstory has his cheerleader girlfriend Lana ditching him for male cheerleader Dean. Upon defeating Dingo, the romanticized version of Dean, Edgar finally decides that they were both losers not worth tearing himself up about and buries them within the depths of his mind.
Subverted with self-proclaimed, preteen cheerleaders Clem and Crystal, who everybody openly admits to hating because of how annoyingly peppy they are. Which may make them all feel guilty when it comes out that they're suicidal Stepford Smilers.
Played with in Viewtiful Joe. Guess the motif behind Silvia's henshin form.
Renee Mariani from Air Heads has her cheerleading social status, as well as her inexplicably large bust which attracts a lot of unwanted popularity and male attention.
Gregg Easterbook, a writer for ESPN.com, takes time out of his football column every week to draw attention to some NFL cheerleader that he finds interesting (contrary to the stereotype, many of them are very well-educated), which he jokingly rationalizes as an excuse to run their picture in the column. Taking it further, he repeatedly complains that ultra-thin fashion models are terrible standards of beauty and holds up athletic cheerleaders as a better one.
In Survival of the Fittest v4's pre-game, this is part of the reason why Rizzo Vitoria sleeps with a drunken Janet Claymont (who is, as you might have guessed, a cheerleader). When she wakes up the next morning, she isn't happy at all for obvious reasons, especially since she is dating another character.
Subverted in Teen Girl Squad, where football star, Quarterman, has no interest in Cheerleader and even seems to find her annoying. Further subverted by the fact that the object of his affections is none other than The Ugly One.
Kylee from Zombie-Spree-Oct is always in a cheerleading mood, but it's not a guy who wants her.
On American Dad! with the exception of his sometimes girlfriend Debbie, Steve directs pretty much all of his attention to scoring dates with the acknowledged popular girls at his school. Most notably, Lindsey Coolidge and Lisa Silver.
Played with in The American Dad After School Special. After Steve tells his family about his new girlfriend (the aforementioned Debbie), Stan immediately assumes Steve is dating a cheerleader, and refuses to believe the truth when he is told otherwise.
In Danny Phantom, Danny Fenton is smitten with Paulina, much to Sam's annoyance. Every minor, two-second appearance she is treated with displays her in an extremely negative light, ignoring any and all chances of redemption, until it culminates in revealing that she is also the school's head cheerleader. Paulina is also a Rich Bitch and Alpha Bitch who (as usual) only has eyes for the mysterious superhero, Danny Phantom. Much like Kim Possible, it's all about getting dates and making out. All a result of Butch Hartman's less-than-pleasant high school experiences.
Daria's universe tends to show this as quite common at Lawndale High where the student body is largely superficial. Then again, most of the guys who date cheerleaders are also shown to be dumber than dirt and characters the audience is intended to like are shown to scorn them.
Camillio Martinez from Detentionaire till he starts getting interested in Brandy.
On El Tigre Manny keeps trying to impress a bunch of reoccurring girls (he usually fails.)
In Garfield and Friends, Garfield the cat and his owner, Jon, once quarreled about which TV show to watch. Garfield favored "Wonder Cat", while dateless nerd Jon wanted "Cheerleader High".
In the comics, Jon mentions that in high school, he had a mad crush on the head cheerleader, which didn't end well: "Ever had a pom-pom shoved up your nose?"
Jon did manage to get a professional cheerleader named Tami to fall for him when they met at a pizza parlor. Later, when Tami called to give Jon her phone number, Garfield destroyed the answering machine, saying, "I can't believe he had pizza without me!"
On the other hand the cheerleaders Bonnie and Tara were rarely unescorted, dating the star quarterback, the cool new foreign exchange student, and even laid-back Josh Mankey (After he and Kim realized they were not meant for one another).
Played straight in Robotboy: Despite of Lola being good-looking, rich, smart, stylish and ever reliable, Tommy only have eyes for Bambi, a blonde, prepubescent bitch in training with a cheerleader uniform.
In The Spectacular Spider-Man, the geeky Peter Parker asks out cheerleader/Alpha Bitch Sally Avril and is very bluntly rejected. Later, another cheerleader, Liz Allan, shows interest in him, and they begin dating.
In Unstable Fables Junior Bear starts out mooning hopelessly over Misty Brown. But later, when she suddenly takes a liking to him for his fame, he comes to realize that "Misty's not nearly as cute once you get to know her."