Johnny studied Sissy as he smoked an after-supper cigar. He wondered what criterion people used when they applied the tags "good" and "bad" to their fellowmen. Take Sissy. She was bad. But she was good. She was bad where the men were concerned. But she was good because wherever she was, there was life, good, tender, overwhelming, fun-loving and strong-scented life. He hoped that his newly born daughter would be a little like Sissy. — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Good girls don't. But she does.
Always Female due to the Double Standard, the Good Bad Girl is less chaste than her fellow female characters. Ever since her figure developed, boys have been making passes at her — and she's been accepting some. In fact, shockingly, she probably even takes the initiative in going after men sometimes. Consequently, she's built up a notorious sexual history around them (which may, however, be exaggerated — many a Good Bad Girl eventually settles for monogamy rather than promiscuity).
She (and her most trusting friends) can't understand why people believe that it's bad for a woman to like sex as much as she does. She's not The Vamp, and she's not even a Gold Digger. Sex for her is not just part of her zeal for living but also of a certain benevolent nature which extends to her non-sexual friendships. She tends to feel sorry when a man isn't getting any — though not necessarily a willing partner for any man: she's unlikely to stray if married to a husband who's good in bed, but if she's unattached, she could fall for her Spear Counterpart, the Chivalrous Pervert in a heartbeat.
This kind of Good Bad Girl is very likely to also be a female Ethical Slut with a benevolent For Happiness morality. However, it could also be so that some part of her believe that Sex Is Evil and make her feel guilty about her "immoral" horniness and overcompensate for it a bit.
If the Good Bad Girl actually decides to do for pay what most Good Bad Girls do only for fun, she will become a Hooker with a Heart of Gold. If boys actually want to be with her due to her experience, then it's My Girl Is a Slut.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Rin and Ayane from Shuukyuu Shoujo seem to fit into this. What with them practically jumping the main character as soon as they meet? And Rin's obsession with big boobs? And Ayane having no qualms about going around without panties and getting naked on the road for blackmail?
Mae West: "When I'm good, I'm good. But when I'm bad, I'm better!"
Jae-yeong in Samaritan Girl by Kim Ki-duk. Although she engages in teenage prostitution, she does so in a surprisingly innocent way, and genuinely cares about her customers (regardless of the fact that they are creeps).
Almost every Marlene Dietrich character, even after the actress had been dubbed "the world's most glamorous grandmother".
The trope namer is 1931's The Good Bad Girl, with Mae Clarke as the title character.
Maria "Masha" Fydornova from The Last Station living in a Tolstoy-inspired commune where sex is supposed to be forbidden believes in free love and deflowers the would-be Celibate Hero, while adhering more to Tolstoy's ideas of non-violence, and is heavily disillusioned when she sees him swat at bugs.
A girl named Elunud in the Brother Cadfael mystery (and TV episode) The Raven in the Foregate. She is also a good example of how such a girl can be exploited.
Captain Roland, from the Temeraire series, is a borderline case, a sort of blurring the lines of this, Lady of War, and Eternal Sexual Freedom, despite being a woman in the early 19th century. It's good to be the captain (later admiral) of one of the most critical dragons to the war effort (who don't accept male captains, hence the extra liberties allowed).
Zinka in Diana Wynne Jones's Deep Secret is a nice young woman with quite a few sexual conquests under her belt (and a hobby of selling porn at fan conventions), and is fairly up-front about it all. She also turns out to be married to the protagonist's brother, so score one more for eventual monogamy.
Caddy from The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner is described by the author as the "true hero" of the story despite the fact that she is sexually promiscuous and brings dishonor on her family for having a child out of wedlock. She even agrees to have sex with Quentin at one point; although, to be very clear, they do not actually go through with it.
Critics have actually called the heroine of Henry James' novella Daisy Miller "a good, bad girl." She was literally chaste, but this was 19th-century Europe, where her habit of flirting and strolling with two men (whom she wasn't married or related to) was absolutely scandalous!
Everyone in Brave New World (albeit from the perspective of our own culture). Involvement in not only sex but public sex, in the Orgy Porgy is compulsory, as is sterilization or contraception. (Babies are produced entirely via ectogenesis)
The Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales, although she (says she) only has sex in marriage, and only marries when she's been widowed; she's had five husbands so far and has an eye out for number six on the road to Canterbury. Her prologue is a ringing defence of women's sexuality against the ideal of chastity, saying that genitals are there to be used and that not everyone is meant to be pure white flour, there's a place for "hot barley bread."
Julia from 1984. She had her first affair at the age of sixteen with a sixty-year-old man, and went on to have multiple others. It's not just Miniluv who like to do it to Julia. Of course she can't be open about this, partly because she's ostensibly a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League, partly because living unconventionally in a totalitarian Police State is inherently unsafe.
Snow White from The Princess Series will risk her life for her friends and flirts with anything male, human or not. Implied to do more then flirt but it's never shown.
Dagny Taggart from Atlas Shrugged doesn't have a world-beating sex drive, but she shamelessly enjoys the sex she does have and has sex because she wants to have sex.
In Discworld Nanny Ogg was one of these in her youth, and has grown up to be a proper Dirty Old Woman. When another witch calls her a "strumpet", Tiffany Aching looks the word up...and concludes that a "woman of easy virtue" must be one who is effortlessly virtuous, and someone who is "no better than she should be" must always be just good enough.
Naoko Kamikishiro of the light novel Boogiepop and Others claims she is in love with a first year student, whom she asks out at least twice; despite this, she has no qualms about sleeping around with other men, having something of a "share the love" mentality. She also hides and protects Echoes, whom she is ALSO in love with, consequently saving the entire planet from destruction at the hands of God/aliens/whatever.
While Jenny really is this (and proudly) in The Truth of Rock And Roll, her reputation for promiscuity dates from before she ever had sex with anyone. Her family already had a bad reputation because "her father was a drunk who couldn't keep a job and her mother was a drunk who couldn't keep a house", and they didn't notice she needed new clothes when she started developing early. When she refused to hide her figure, she was deemed The School Slut and would have been so if she'd stayed a virgin.
Simona Ahrnstedt has two examples of this trope. And to make it even more interesting, they're both French!
Vivienne de Beaumarchais in "Överenskommelser" maybe isn't promiscuous, but still, she lives a very unconventional life. She doesn't care about her hiding her affair with Jacques, despite how she refuses to get married to him before she gets pregnant. She will never let a man control her life again after her first marriage became a disaster. She travels over Europe on her own, and more conventional people are really appalled by her lifestyle.
Marie Dicke in "De skandalösa" is unfaithful to her husband and neglectful to her children. But still, she's portrayed with some sympathy. Just like Vivienne from above, she really has a big appetite for life. And it seems like she's not really a bad person, but simply bored with trying to live a conventional life.
Faith is a counter example, not for her promiscuity but for the nonchalance with which she evicted her lovers; the female equivalent of a rake or cad. Relevant since Xander, Faith's defining one-hour stand and prompt discharge, serves as The Chick in the series team.
Buffy herself also qualifies, actively seeking to hook up early in season one, then falling in love with a 240-year-old vampire. She also frequently admonishes Willow to "seize the moment" by flirting with guys.
Amy Pond sort of fits this trope, having worked as a kissogram (bit like a stripper at a stag party but doesn't take clothes off) before traveling with the Doctor.
River Song tends to flirt with everyone in proximity, male or female, although she only really has eyes for the Doctor.
The Corsair, a fellow Time Lord and friend of the Doctor's mentioned in "The Doctor's Wife", who was famous for changing sex every other incarnation. The Doctor describes the Corsair as being a good man and a very bad girl.
Robin from How I Met Your Mother is second only to Barney when it comes to the number of sexual partners. It helps that she is the only single female character in the main cast.
Manny and Emma from Degrassi The Next Generation become this, Manny earlier than Emma. Though Manny starts to become sexual (even with other people's boyfriends) she still seems to have a perfect wisdom and maturity about her when dealing with Emma and later Darcy's problems. She also turns Jay into a good guy through the power of love.
American Dreams had Roxanne who was a family hour version of this trope while she only slept with two boys over the course of the show and Word of God has her marrying the second she "made out" with just about anyone pretty freely. Roxanne also acted as more experienced mentor to the other girls on the show when it came to boys clothes and hair.
Penny from the The Big Bang Theory, especially when compared to her Hollywood Dateless friends. Amy and Sheldon once did the math to figure out approximately how many men she slept with and came up with 30.96 sexual partners (they rounded up to 31). This actually becomes a major plot point in the fourth season cliffhanger when she wakes up in bed with Raj. She is utterly devastated and disappointed in herself, while Amy compares her to Catherine The Great (see Real Life). "She engaged in interspecies hanky-panky, and they still called her Great. I'm certain your reputation can survive shagging a little Indian boy."
Isolde from Merlin is clearly sleeping with Tristan despite there being no hint of a marriage between them. That, and she's a smuggler.
One Tree Hill: Brooke, in high school, to the point where Haley jokingly challenges the new girlfriend of one of Brooke's exes to find a boy in Tree Hill who didn't lose his virginity to Brooke Davis. By the time she's an adult, Brooke has grown out of this, and in fact is bothered by the amount of people who either A) act like she's still that person or B) make jokes about High School Brooke being a "slut."
Subverted in "Kinda Out Of Luck" by Lana Del Rey. The first 1.20 seconds are spent building a "Good Bad Girl with bad self esteem getting rescued by Prince Charming" kind of narrative... and then... oops.
In the Dungeons & DragonsMystara setting, the Immortal (Immortals being D&D's equivalent of AD&D's gods) Valerias, the Immortal of love, passion, and star-crossed lovers. She genuinely loves her mate Ixion, the Immortal of the sun and fire, but she still has periodic affairs. At the same time, Valerias is one of the good Immortals. To be fair, when you are so old that no one, including yourself and your fellow Immortals, remembers a time when you did not exist in your current form, and when you are at the same time eternally youthful and unchanging, fidelity is inevitably going to be more of a challenge than for ordinary mortals. Still, Valerias Really Gets Around.
Maureen from RENT. "Ever since puberty, everybody's stared at me: boys, girls, I can't help it baby." Her current lover can't stand her flirtatious (if you ask Maureen) or slutty (if you ask Joanne) ways ("You were flirting with a woman in rubber!"), leading to a combined "I Am" Song and a pretty epic breakup.
Petra from A Little Night Music. There's a scene where The Ingenue Anne (virginal despite marriage) asks Petra if she's a virgin ("God forbid"), how old she was when it happened (16), and how disgusting it must have been ("Disgusting? It was more fun than the rolly-coaster at the fair").
A Shot In The Dark has Josefa Lantenay, a good parlor maid who's bad at keeping her footing around men while not wearing panties. When the murder occurred in her bedchamber, she had been having affairs both with the victim and with the man of the house (but no others: "Josefa isn't really a whore - just bed-minded!"). When she's ultimately released from suspicion, she plans to go into a new line of work: striptease.
Buffy in Starlight Express. She dresses like an old-fashioned pin-up girl and, in the 1980s London and Broadway productions, quickly establishes her promiscuity, but she has a sweet personality and no one criticizes her for her behavior.
Leliana from Dragon Age: Origins is a "repentant bad girl", meaning that she is a former Femme Fatale who got religion and is now struggling between her wild nature and her newfound beliefs. If you choose to "harden" her, she will embrace her past once more but still stay the kind, caring individual she is. The Player Character, if female, might be portrayed as this, especially the female Human Noble. If propositioned in the Human Noble origin, Dairren states that he has heard of her proclivities (and is happy to oblige himself), and Alistair asks in earlier romance stages if you've "ever licked a lamppost in winter" and you can reply "many lampposts and then some". You can then go on to have a threesome with Alistair (if he's shed his naive idealism) or Leliana and a third participant, Isabela (or even a foursome with Leliana and Zevran).
Pia, and potentially the player, in the Neverwinter Nights module A Dance with Rogues manages to come across this way, despite the fact that we only ever hear about one past affair. Her willingness to jump into bed with the player helps.
Mion Sonozaki in Higurashi: When They Cry. Much more prevalent in the manga where she does such wholesome things as grope Keiichi's rear in the Cotton Drifting chapters and raunchily stares at his crotch in the Curse Killing chapter. Then again, she may also be acting as such to screw with Keiichi for lulz every bit as much as it's motivated by affection and/or her screwed up backstory.
Maytag of Flipside is this, shamelessly. She is described as a nymphomaniac, and part of the dramatic tension between her and Bernadette is her unwillingness to settle down. It's revealed that Bernadette already knew that Maytag was cheating on her but was willing to tolerate it as a "phase" of her life.
Sam of The Space Between is a hard-partying girl who apparently sleeps around quite a bit, but her best friend Jack doesn't seem to mind particularly, and his new roommate Frank thinks it's hot.
Despite (because of?) her past as a stereotypically womanizing Frenchman, Petite of Jet Dream became extremely interested in men after her sex change.
Marina Flippo-Baret of the Ciem Webcomic Series becomes this briefly. The tragedies that befall her sisters lead them to border on this as well. In Miriam's case, it's a combination of this with post-traumatic embitterment disorder. Made worse by the fact that Miriam becomes a Manipulative Bitch in High Schooljust to survive. In Candi's case, she acts a little like this around her preferred men due to Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny.
The Drow of Drowtales are generally pretty open about sexuality, but Ash'waren of the Sullisin'rune takes the cake as far as this trope goes. She's an Ethical Slut bar none, is implied to have hundreds of children (to the point she has to be reminded which of her daughters is which and initially fails to recognize one of them until reminded of the year of her birth) and just as many lovers of both sexes. Like everyone else in the series she has her flaws but is overall presented in a positive light.
Seram from MSF High, full stop. Also, recently, Michelle's hidden tendencies for this have been getting into the open.
A downplayed version is seen with Wendy Corduroy in Gravity Falls. She has displayed mischievious behavior often (usually around her teenage friends), been in plenty of relationships (though the latest one ended in tears) and at one point stole a police car from the two inept sherrifs of the town. She's also a slacker at work and was willing to take advantage of Mabel's kindness in the episode Boss Mabel. Nevertheless, she is a strong and good character who cares about Dipper and Mabel along with the rest of the Mystery Shack and views them like family.
Liane Cartman from South Park easily qualifies: she can't remember who Cartman's dad actually was (because she banged multiple men at the Drunken Barn Dance), and porn videos starring her are sometimes mentioned during the series, especially in the movie: when Kyle and Stan were doing a little research, they found a scat porn video starring Liane herself.
Another Real Life example is Julia the Elder, daughter of Emperor Augustus of Rome: known for her quick wit and lovable personality (which made Augustus, Magnificent Bastard that he is, to dote over her), she was involved in countless affairs that exploded into a scandal right smack when Augustus was implementing ethical reforms in the Empire. He was, unfortunately, quite harsh in his punishment and disowning of her. The Live-Action TVBBC production I, Claudius dealt with this conflict, accentuated by BRIAN BLESSED's (portraying Augustus) bombastic lament of:
Angelina Jolie has often been portrayed this way in the media, that is the tattooed, brother-kissing, blood-capsulating, oft-married, bi-sexual "wild child" in her twenties compared with the orphan-adopting, large-money donating, self-effacing foreign-ambassador pilot in her thirties.