Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"They’re the kind of dames who can wear floor-length gowns and look completely naked. The kind with hair piled up on their head like compliant serpents, or falling down in smooth lustrous waves. Dames with hard faces and mocking smiles and eyes that sized you up and found you wanting . . . but you’d do, for now."
One of the most widely known femme fatales is FujikoMine of Lupin III fame. When she's not using her body to get what she wants, she falls back on her knowledge of weaponry, battle strategy, and disguising. She uses this against anyone and everyone, especially her male counterpart and rival, Arsene Lupin III.
Fujiko's fame reached a climax in 2012, when after forty years and much egging by the fans, she had a spin-off series that featured her and the rest of the Lupin gang as a series-long Origins Episode, similar to the Monkey Punch era titled Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
Bitch-sensei Irina Jelavic from Ansatsu Kyoushitsu. Before coming to clas 3-E, she was a assassin who is famous for her Honey Pot method. Now that she is a teacher, she's more than willing to pass her skills to her students and at least two of them are already on the way to become this trope.
Barbara in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, specifically the Crashtown Arc. She not only used her charms to gain Yusei's trust, only to betray him later (and then offer to spare him if she willingly submitted to him, something he refused) she later betrayed her original lover, showing true loyalty - apparently - to her equally-rotten boyfriend (husband in the dub) Lotten, and was, like him, one of the few villains in the franchise incapable of redemption. (Ironically, despite the fact that she didn't duel even once - whether she even did that or not isn't even known - Barbara remains one of the most hated villains in the franchise by fans.)
Soti from Cyber Weapon Z left Park Iro for Leiting and at first looks like an indecisive Dark Mistress. However, she's not above infiltrating the Shaolin temple to spy on the man she once loved and gain information for her new boyfriend, but usually doesn't act directly against him out of respect for what they once had. Iro is often troubled by her presence since her sweet face and apparent harmlessness still get to his heart, despite the fact that she's a quite capable Dark Action Girl.
Not surprisingly, due to its noirish roots, Sin City has quite a few. Almost every female character counts, and Dwight is the one that gets in trouble with them as they tend to go back and forth between Damsel in Distress and The Vamp. The most triumphant example from the series is in The Babe Wore Red. Dwight said it best:
Dwight: The moment I lay eyes on her, I know I'm in trouble.
Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (of Criminal fame) places a horror spin on this trope which also serves to make the femme fatale in question more sympathetic; it's implied that she's supernaturally cursed to forever remain young and beautiful, and the spell also works to cause them to fall hopelessly in love with her to the point where it leads to their own ruin. It's clearly established that she hates her life and the effect that she has on men, but can't escape it.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy from The Maltese Falcon is one of the earliest examples of the Femme Fatale in noir fiction. She's directly involved in betrayal, theft, and several murders all while trying to play innocence to (not to mention seduce) the lead character throughout most of the film and the book.
Kathie Moffat from Out of the Past is the quintessential film noir example. She lies, steals, kills at least three people and conspires to commit another murder, uses sex to ensnare men to do what she wants, and she looks great in a cocktail dress.
Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct is one of the most iconic examples in modern filmmaking. No surprise, seeing as how the entire film is a 90's update on the Film Noir genre. She seduces both men and women to attain her goals, tempts Nick with her emotional vulnerability after Roxy's death, and committed all the murders.
Selina Kyle has always been a classic Femme Fatale, but the way Anne Hathaway portrays her in The Dark Knight Rises takes it to a whole new level. Suffering from a major case of Heel-Face Revolving Door, her tough, street-smart cat burglar is as elegant as she is dangerous, something Bruce Wayne both notices and forgets when he's in her presence. Director Christopher Nolan claims that he has always envisioned Catwoman as an "old-school femme fatale".
Summer in Definitely, Maybe is the sexually adventurous "bitch" that destroyed her boyfriend's career to advance her own.
Phyllis Dietrichson from the classic noir Double Indemnity. She starts an affair with Walter Neff, an insurence agent. Together, they convince her husband to take a life insurance, then kill him and Make It Look Like an Accident so they could collect the money.
Europa trilogy by Lars von Trier has two examples. Because these are Lars von Trier movies, both characters are examples of ruthless deconstruction of Femme Fatale trope, both utterly fail their agenda and turn out to be exteme versions of Jerkass Woobie trope.
In The Element of Crime, there is Kim, Asian prostitute, who slept with Serial Killer the protagonist is looking out for, and she tries to misguide the protagonist, but fails and, in the end she can do nothing but cry, when he watches how the man who was, in fact, her real lover and father of her child is hanged by himself.
The other example is Katharina Hartmann from Europa, who seduces the hero, makes him fall in love with her and maryy her, exploiting her image of Innocent Bystander who merely got involved with Nazi underground, while in fact she was a Honey Trap for the hero, and she drove her father to suicide, and tried to make the hero commit bombing killing many allied officers. She utterly fails at the end, and is killed along with every major character in the movie by suicidal bombing of the train by the protagonist.
The shade of Mal in Inception. She killed or tried to kill someone in about every other scene she was in, but she still gave the hero pause when he was faced with stopping her.
Tae-ju in Thirst, who seduces Sang-hyun, convinces him to murder her husband and turn her into a vampire, then turns into a gleeful killer.
Jessica from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She's a toon clearly created by some artist to be the perfect Femme Fatal, from her dangerous good looks and sultry voice, to the slinky way she moves. Even her smile is suspicious. It turns out that she's the Red Herring and was telling the truth all along. She really isn't bad! Just drawn that way.
Viper from The Wolverine, kills with a kiss... literally. She does know how to use her considerable sexuality as a weapon.
Naked Weapon is all about a Murder, Inc. organization that kidnaps and trains young Asian girls to seduce and kill their male targets. Their favorite method of killing the target is to rip out the spinal cord, which they can do in a blink of an eye. Often, they will first have sex with the mark and then offer a massage. Cue the spine attack.
Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. She seduces both Indiana and his father to gain vital information for the Nazi’s mission to find the Holy Grail. However, as the movie goes on, she pulls a Heel-Face Turn and helps Indiana by disposing of the Big Bad. However, her Redemption Equals Death, because, like most femme fatales, she couldn’t overcome her biggest Fatal Flaw - greed. In a Literal Cliffhanger, she thought she could reach the grail with a free hand in time for Indiana to pull her up. Unfortunately, he can’t hold her slippery gloved hand and she falls to her death.
Vivian from The Big Sleep is a rare heroic example, despite being involved in several shady deals, gambling, outright leading at least one character to their death in order to help the protagonist, and admitting to help cover up another murder. The novel plays the trope completely straight.
Rita, the sexy, deadly, devil-may-care manhunter from Put The Sepia On is named after legendary film femme fatale Rita Hayworth, and lives up to it.
In The Stainless Steel Rat action/comedy series by Harry Harrison, thief turned galactic secret agent 'Slippery Jim' DiGriz finds himself up against the psychotic (yet beautiful and criminally brilliant) Angelina. Jim falls in love and marries her in the next novel of the series. Supposedly, the psych-techs have straightened out Angelina's twisted personality, implanting her with a conscience, but there are times when her husband has to restrain Angelina's natural enthusiasm for torture and killing. Plus, Jim quickly learns the inadvisablity of showing interest in other women, or trying to wriggle out of promises (an attempt to back out of their marriage is stopped by Angelina shoving a .75 calibre recoil free pistol up his nose).
In Dan Abnett's Gaunts Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, Inquisitor Lilith actively tries to incite jealousy in Gaunt as a way to manipulate him. Gaunt calls her on it and tells her it's not needed, he will help voluntarily. She admits at the time that she's not used to voluntary cooperation and, later, when about to go through a gate to an Eldar craftworld, that she actually found Gaunt attractive.
Patience Kys in the Ravenor books by the same author is a heroic example, she is a somewhat hostile Ice Queen who tends to use her attractiveness to her advantage on covert operations.
Lara Raith from The Dresden Files. It helps that she's a succubus. It contrasts rather nicely to her sister, Madeleine, who tries to pull this off, bless her sordid heart, but really just comes off as a Vamp.
Not just Lara. The first time we see Mab, the Winter Queen, she is pulling the classic 'slinky sexpot asks the P.I. for help' routine in Harry's office.
Harry, being Genre Savvy as always, gets suspicious and manages to figure out what Mab is(although a Cold Iron test is how he was certain). Although it is more surprising for him not to be suspicious of Femme Fatals.
Cora Smith in The Postman Always Rings Twice. She's married to an old Greek man named Nick who owns a diner. When Frank, a young drifter gets a job at the diner, Cora starts a passionate affair with him, and together they conspire to kill Nick.
Homeland Security agent Cassandra Renaldo in the Dale Brown novel A Time for Patriots, who seduces Bradley to use against Pat.
Annabel St. Clair in the short story Amante Doree from Somewhere Beneath Those Waves — she's a beautiful, charming Louisianian courtesan-spy for the interests of the French government.
Subverted in Mr Blank: Our genre-savvy hero just knows Mina will betray him on account of her beauty, yet she turns out to be the most loyal ally he has.
Once again subverted in the sequel, where we have Heather Marie Tooms, former movie star and current assassin for a self-help cult. While she tries to be flirty (and she's certainly attractive), she's far too creepy and unstable to be alluring.
Lampshaded in City of Devils when the hero remarks, upon entrance of the femme fatale, Oscar-winning doppelganger actress Imogen Verity, "not only had I seen the movie, but it had starred her."
Selena Coombs of American Gothic. In an interesting inversion, however, her primary sexual usage in the show, aside from being Buck's mistress, is not to turn a good man evil, but to keep a man nominally on the side of evil—Ben Healy—from defecting to the good.
Inverted by Spike of (a knowingly seductive, platinum-blond male vampire), who tells Buffy that she belongs "in the dark, with me." Especially pronounced in "Dead Things," the source of the quote.
Darla is also one. She is very manipulative (for example, she easily controls Lindsey in Angel - who is a lawyer) and exercises sexual power over Angel. She's also something of an Anti-Hero, however.
Drusilla is a wholly villainous example. She appears very innocent and vulnerable (for a vampire) at first and often uses this to lure men into her service.
Faith, who serves as a Foil to Buffy herself. She would often use her sexuality to her advantage, e.g she tried to get Angel to sleep with her which would cause him to lose his soul and become evil.
Sam Marquez on Las Vegas works for a casino. Specifically, her job is to keep 'whales' - big spenders - happy. Once, she only slept with a guy because he was dying, and she has openly called herself a slut. Strangely, she rarely sleeps with any of the whales themselves, and had to start going to a therapist later in the series after she was abducted and nearly raped and killed.
Dita Von Teese's character in CSI: Las Vegas episode "A Kiss Before Frying" is a serial-killer that seduces Greg so she can find out more about the case, and she tries to kill him like her previous lovers.
Maneater Edie Britt on Desperate Housewives who seduces and uses any man she comes across, and she doesn't care if their married either. Special mention goes to Mike, Carlos and Karl.
Miss Parker from The Pretender. Makes her entrance stomping out a cigarette on an oil tanker, shoots at the good guy a lot, has UST with him, and regularly growls at and intimidates most men within range.
Dollhouse: Adelle DeWitt - charming, morally grey ballbuster who is equally at home with threats and seduction, and approaches Darth Vader levels of nastiness in the second season. She is. In. Charge.
In the episode Noir, an episode with all the Smallville characters in a Film Noir, Lana takes the role of the Femme Fatale, having an affair with Clark Kent, an undercover cop, killing her husband, Lex, and framing Jimmy for the murder.
Cameron of The Sarah Connor Chronicles has more than once used her physical body's attractiveness to coldly manipulate people, up to and including John Connor himself. It is implied that this was, in fact, the entire reason she was built. Her external appearance was based on a girl named Allison Young, who was implied to be either a close friend or lover of the future John Connor, and Cameron interrogated Allison to learn her mannerisms before attempting to take her place.
A villanous example is Commandant Mele-On Grayza from Farscape. In addition to being very attractive with well-displayed breasts, she also secretes a chemical from a gland between her breasts that literally hypnotized men into doing her bidding.
On Weeds, Nancy may not seem like it at first, but she has this effect on men. They seem to be attracted to her despite the fact that she brings chaos to everything she touches.
The Shadow Line has Petra Nayler, girlfriend of the missing Glickman. She seduces the married Joseph Bede using her apparent helplessness, and is later revealed to have done this to Glickman too, under the orders of Counterpoint. Not only that, she only went to Bede to look for leads on Glickman's location, so she could kill him for trying to expose the conspiracy.
Katherine Pierce from The Vampire Diaries is a classic example. She's willing to seduce anyone that can give her what she needs, and the many, many men that have taken the fall for her over the past 3 seasons are more than happy to comply.
Calexico's "Ballad of Cable Hogue" has an Old Western version. She's only ever referred to as "Madame". Even though the narrator suspects that Madame will be the death of him, she sweet-talks him into leaving his gold with her for safekeeping. Then she leads "an army" to his hiding place and guns him down.
David Byrne's "Miss America" uses this as an extended metaphor for the US's foreign policy. America is a woman who seduces men then discards them when she no longer needs them. The narrator knows how dangerous she is, and he loves her anyway.
Bally's Mata Hari pinball shows the title character in her bedroom, handing over a secret map with one hand while discretely clutching a small dagger in the other.
Maggie Chow in Deus Ex. Turns out, she's actually in league with the villains and murdered the leader of the Red Dragon triad and stole his nano-technologically enhanced sword in order to initiate a triad war.
Ada Wong from the Resident Evil series initially showed very mild Distressed Damsel qualities in her first appearance, but by the fourth game in the series, there was no question that she was a first-class Femme Fatale, to the point that it's clear in retrospect that her originally helpless was playact the whole time. Trying to figure out which side the girl is on and if she's going to help you or hurt you can give you (and poor Leon) a serious headache.
Excella Gionne from Resident Evil 5 is also an example, being Wesker's Dragon. An example that ends up being subverted: it is she who ends up being manipulated and betrayed by Wesker, who injects her with the Uroboros virus she created. Rather than a manipulative woman behind the man, she's actually just an opportunistic Rich Bitch who is Too Dumb to Live.
Miranda Lawson in Mass Effect 2 at first appears to be a femme fatale, but it's ultimately subverted as she quits Cerberus and makes no attempts at seducing Shepard. She actually tries to avoid a romance, at first, if a Male Shepard pursues it.
Naomi in Metal Gear Solid and Guns Of The Patriots. According to the backstory, she seduced Richard Ames away from his wife, Nastasha Romanenko, in order to get onto the FoxDie project so she could modify it to kill Snake. She spent the game until the bombshell alternately acting very cold towards him and drooling over him. She has good intentions.
Ultimecia in Final Fantasy VIII is this. When she's possessing Edea - who normally wears a very simple and modest dress - she makes her wear incredibly ornate and over-the-top "sexy" clothing. When you finally meet her in person, the costume she has on is, to say the least, extravagant. She uses her body to get what she wants, and was openly called a Femme Fatale in the spin-off game Dissidia.
Viletta Vadim from Super Robot Wars, starting out as The Mole of the team for Ingram and is a deadly pilot in combat. This is later subverted as Viletta and Ingram have good intentions, despite coming off as rather strict and oh-so-much a Magnificent Bastard for Ingram, not flat out evil. Her looks also gave her the distinction of being one of Excellen's 'Three Beautiful Sisters' and the only person she'd goLes Yay with. To hammer it home, her theme song was re-named to this trope when Original Generation got a US translation by Atlus (it was formerly 'Woman The Cool Spy').
Dark Saber in Fate/stay night, during the scene that is titled "Femme Fatale". During this scene, Shirou can't bring himself to kill Saber due to his attachment to her, but it is due to these attachments that he ends up in a very horrible Bad End. All the horribleness is caused to Sakura and not Saber.
In Thief The Dark Project, Viktoria plays this to Garrett's Noir action hero, tempting him with greed, the power of an exotic blade, and obliquely hints at the possibility of sex. Without Constantine's leadership in Metal Age, she becomes less this, but still remains Strange Bedfellows.
Sylvia Christel from No More Heroes, who manages to convince an impoverished otaku living in a cheap motel to use his laser sword that he got off the internet to murder people. Granted, said otaku wasn't exactly a prince himself in terms of morality.
Carlotta Von Überwald in Discworld Noir, the extremely attractive woman who hires Lewton and who turns out to be directly or indirectly responsible for multiple murders, a Religion of Evil cultist, a werewolf, and the Disc's counterpart to the Femme Fatales in The Maltese Falcon, The Big SleepandFarewell, My Lovely.
Sahar of the Whateley Universe. She has spent several years seducing any mutant (male or female) with the right powers, so she can copy their best psychic traits. Even the campus Alphas and Intelligence Cadet Corps fear her.
Blackarachnia from Transformers: Beast Wars plays this to the hilt when she gets a chance, towards allies and enemies alike, though she does less flirting and more fighting than is usual for this trope. The choice of a black widow spider as her alternate mode is surprisingly appropriate, though she's not without redeeming qualities.
The Blackarachnia in Transformers Animated fulfills this trope whenever it's convenient for her, either with the Autobots or the Dinobots. Optimus Prime is especially vulnerable to falling for this no matter how many times she does it. It does make you wonder why she considers herself such a horrific freak, when everyone with a spark seems to want to jump her thorax.
Samurai Jack ran into this type of villain twice. (Demons and bounty hunters were easy for him; seductresses, not so much.) The first one was actually Aku in disguise, and it ended very badly for Jack. The second one was Josephine Clench, also a Dark Action Girl and half of an Outlaw Couple with her ex-husband Zeke. Apparently, her typical MO was to lure a victim into a false sense of security with her charms so that Zeke could attack by surprise, and then she could strike from behind when he tried to fight him. It almost worked on Jack, but the plan fell apart when she tried to double-cross Zeke. Possibly, something like this may have been why they had divorced.