Heroic Seductress

Sex often has a bad reputation in fiction. Often, the only characters allowed to have any sort of sex appeal are not the ones for whom we're meant to root. Character types like The Vamp and the Femme Fatale run amok, doing their evil work, ruining lives and corrupting men into doing nasty things.

But not every sexy girl in fiction is evil. Some of them are downright heroic; and not despite their sexiness, but because of it. These are the ladies who epitomize Sex Is Good. They're the ones who use sex as a tool or means to achieve a goal, the same way the vamp or femme fatale might, the only difference being that their goals are... well, not evil.

Here are a few ways the trope can manifest:
  • Sex as a bargaining chip: A night in bed with the heroine to get what she needs to complete her quest or supplies for the town she's trying to save, etc. etc.
  • Sex as a distraction: Taking advantage of the Male Gaze, allowing the heroine's allies to complete a task without interruption.
  • Sex as espionage: Getting into bed with people who have high clearance levels, or even the Evil Overlord himself, then using that position to get information or just remove the threat entirely.
  • Sex as encouragement: The heroine beds a man as a way to get him into a heroic state of mind. Bonus points if she also brings him over to the good guys' side.

Compare Good Bad Girl.

Contrast with The Vamp, who uses sex to corrupt. Also contrast with Femme Fatale, who uses sex to manipulate for purely selfish, often villainous ends. Contrast the Madonna–Whore Complex, which states that sexually active women cannot be considered "good" in any way.

Frequently crosses with Hooker with a Heart of Gold, Ethical Slut and High-Class Call Girl. Sometimes even My Girl Is a Slut.

Every example of female-initiated Sex Face Turn featured someone in this role. Because, remember, Good People Have Good Sex.

Subtrope of Sex Is Good. Contrast Sex Is Evil.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Black Widow started off as a villain but did a Heel-Face Turn and started working for SHIELD. She still uses sex to get information out of SHIELD's enemies. It is part of her "specific skillset" after all.

    Film - Animated 
  • Aladdin: Jasmine had her moment, keeping Jafar distracted long enough for Al to get the lamp back. Backfired, since Al was (rightly) too squicked out upon seeing her kiss Jafar to keep moving toward the lamp, losing a few crucial seconds.
  • Songstress Angel attempts to seduce Mok in Rock & Rule so that Mok will abandon his Evil Plan to summon a demon during a rock concert. Unfortunately, Mok is Ax-Crazy, and laughs off the attempt, ordering his minions to "take her away".

    Film - Live Action 

    Literature 
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, Dayna Jurgens of the Boulder Free Zone goes to Las Vegas to infiltrate and spy on Flagg's organization. She sleeps with Flagg's right-hand man Lloyd Henreid as part of this mission.
  • Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel Oath of Fealty: Tony Rand, the chief engineer of the Todos Santos arcology, needs to come up with a plan to rescue someone from police custody. He's talking over his plans with a woman named Delores Martine. Because of problems in his personal life he can't concentrate and starts to lose control of himself, so Delores repeatedly seduces him to calm him down so he can think.
  • Francesca in The Shadow of the Lion uses her position as a high-class courtesan to end a deadly family vendetta and to further the education (in all sorts of ways) of prince Manfred.
  • A lot of problems in the first trilogy of the Kushiels Legacy series are solved by having the High-Class Call Girl protagonist, Phedre no Delaunay, find the right person to sleep with. This ranges from seducing an on-the-fence admiral to infiltrating the harem of a horrific dictator.
  • In Mercedes Lackey 's Owl Flight, Lilly keeps the Barbarians from raping any of the village girls by keeping their attention on her.
  • "Mary" From Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters is walking death with hands/feet, with knives, and with guns. Lots of guns. Every of the guns. But her principle weapon is her sex appeal, which "Sam" is happy for her to use on him, but which is more useful detecting aliens, due to their not understanding human emotions like physical attraction.
  • It may take some stretching of the term "heroic," but in No Good Deed Elsabeth Soesten is not the least bit hesitant to sleep with Lord Cuncz as an easy means of gaining access to some documents she's come to steal. It's also made clear when she describes the plan to Hieronymus that she's used this particular trick many times in the past. The plan nearly falls off the rails and she has to resort to drugging him, because rather than getting an opportunity to slip away later after he falls asleep, Cuncz was ready and able to go all night. It also turns out to be subverted in that Cuncz wants her to have the documents and knew why she was there all along. He just went with it for the opportunity to bed her.

    Live Action TV 
  • The episode "Mirror, Mirror" from Star Trek: The Original Series shows Lieutenant Uhura get minxy with Mirror-Sulu, so that he doesn't notice a warning light that signals transporter tampering by Chief Engineer Scott. Once the danger is past, Uhura switches off the sexy.
    • Many episodes in TOS feature Kirk having to seduce some lovely woman in order to save his ship and crew.
  • Inara Serra in Firefly.
    • In the series as a whole, she is a minor example. Her status as a Companion granted the Serenity crew a level of respectability, allowing them to get around more easily.
    • In a full-blown moment of the trope, Inara's involvement with the son of the guy who runs Canton gave him the confidence he needed to stick up to his dad, and sooner or later when the responsibility passes to him, he'll rule with a gentler hand.
  • Lexx. Xev was not above using her libido to get what the crew needed. That she finally got the chance to satisfy said libido was of course an added bonus.
  • Chiana in Farscape.
    • At one point, the crew is short on food. When someone offers them what they need in exchange for a night with her, she is more than willing to go through with it for the sake of her crew.
    • On many other occasions, she's used her inherent sex appeal to extract information, or to keep attention on her and be a distraction while her teammates are working.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Margaery Tyrell. She's sexy and she knows it. And what does she do with her sexiness? Keeps Joffrey from being too cruel. Given the Gray and Grey Morality of the show, may be a case of Pragmatic Villainy; she seems to see befriending the people as a path to power, rather than getting power in order to help the people.
    • Shae counts to some extent, being Tyrion's main emotional support.
    • Ros is likewise skilled at using sex to get information. She feeds said information to Varys, who uses it to keep Sansa away from Littlefinger. This gets her killed.
    • Of Dany's many achievements, convincing an enemy general to assassinate his two co-generals and grant her control of his army, simply by being the sexiest woman he's ever met, is pretty close to this.
  • The Walking Dead. A minor example, and possibly a subversion. During the third season, the survivors are being terrorized by a man known as The Governor, whom Andrea just happens to be involved with. Knowing this, Carol suggests she take a page out of Jael's book; sex him to exhaustion, then impale his skull in his sleep. But after he's finally out, she can't bring herself to do it.
  • The heroine of the TV show Lost Girl is a succubus who uses her magical seduction powers to flirt information out of bad guys regularly, and occasionally knocks them unconscious with a kiss.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined)
    • Mrs. Tigh may be a woman of questionable morality, but her liaisons with the Cylon Cavil were ostensibly to secure her husband's release from the detention center, where he was likely being tortured, and had lost an eye.
    • Baltar's Head-Six bounces like a pendulum between this and The Vamp every few episodes or so. Makes sense since Ron Moore has described her as being a Madonna-Whore made real.
  • Emma, the protagonist of Once Upon a Time, did this for a living as a Bail Bond Investigator, prior to taking over as The Sheriff of Storybrooke. Admittedly, the only time she's ever seen on the job is during the pilot, but holy crap did that dress not work like a charm.
  • In Horatio Hornblower, Miss Cobham used her sexiness and sex to preserve her alias as Duchess of Wharfedale when she was staying as a civilian in Spanish fort (and prison), and consequently she saved her and Hornblower's life. It also saved Horatio's super important dispatches for the Admiralty she was hiding for him. The inquisitive French soldier she had to sleep with was sleazy and she was not happy about it but she saw it as the only way.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible of all places has quite a few examples of this.

    • Judith uses her sexuality to get close to Holofernes, the leader of the oppressive enemy, then kills him while he's vulnerable. She takes it a step further and cuts his head off.
    • Tamar in the Book of Genesis. Her father-in-law Judah misblamed her for the deaths of his first two sons and wouldn't give her his third son in marriage as was the custom. As a result, his line was in danger of dying out. She then disguised herself as a veiled temple prostitute so that Judah lay with her. The result was twin boys who became the ancestors of the Judah tribe, and of King David.
  • The Kitsune is a fox-like spirit often shapeshifts and seduces human men. However, their intentions are rarely ill, with some actually encouraging or inspiring heroic and courageous acts, and many of them often wind up falling in love and become completely devoted wives and mothers.

    Video Games 
  • It is possible (but by no means required) to play the Princess as this in A Dance with Rogues.
  • Sha'ira, the asari Consort in Mass Effect 1. She's introduced as a very powerful woman who is part confidant, part therapist, part soothsayer, and part prostitute. We're never given a clear indication of what she does...only that she "helps" people and that it sometimes involves sex. The only quest involves calling Commander Shepard to her room, and asking him/her to deal with a problem (one of her clients has become a Clingy Jealous Guy and she needs him to be talked down). She makes it clear that the man is a dear friend and that she wants him to get his act together. If you're disappointed with the platonic reward she gives, she'll also sleep with you.
    • By extension, the other Consorts in her employ are also this trope—but nowhere near her level of skill.
  • You can play this type of character in Dragon Age: Origins. For example, one of the bargaining chips you can use to convince a pirate queen to mentor you, to convince a demon to stop possessing a child, or to solve a Succession Crisis is to sleep with (or in the last case marry) the person involved.
  • You can also play this type of character in Fallout: New Vegas. Aside from the normal dialogue trees, there are specific perks that affect men or women (both are available to either men or women) that will have some sort of desirable outcome gained through flirtation or outright sex. For example, you can resolve the situation with the Starter Villain by using this perk to follow him to his hotel room, whereupon you can either kill him, sleep with him, or sleep with him and then kill him.note  There are other examples as well, with one of the most direct ones being finding the military contact for a smuggling ring with the Great Khans gang, and convincing him to make his scheduled delivery by...well, you know.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Judith qualifies as a heroic seductress.

    Webcomics 
  • In Key Chain Of Creation, seduction is Marena's favored tactic, though she is not above turning into an 8-foot tall werefox should that fail.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Played for Laughs. The episode "Large Marge" has Homer Simpson get masticated by their old elephant Stampy. The Springfield police are ready to shoot the beast, but Marge realizes that the police are very likely to shoot Homer as well. To allay this, Marge flashes her enhanced breasts to the crowd, and the police stop to ogle and drool. This gives Krusty the chance to comment, "Check out those mogumbos." This key word was the elephant's signal to play dead, and it spits out Homer intact.

    Real Life 
  • Sexual surrogacy. Taken from The Other Wiki:
    "A sexual surrogate is a member of a three-person therapeutic sex therapy team consisting of surrogate, client, and supervising therapist. The surrogate engages in education and sometimes intimate physical relations or sex with a patient to achieve a therapeutic goal."