How do you get something you want from another person? Logical arguments, bribery, force, or — if you're a woman trying to persuade a man — the mere fact of having mammary glands.
Yes, because writers think All Men Are Perverts, women don't even need to pretend that getting sex is a likelihood or even a possibility. All they have to do is possess secondary sexual characteristics to get men to do their bidding. We mean, They're Men, They Can't Help It, right?
Can be Truth in Television, though of course in fiction it's often exaggerated. Compare the Lysistrata Gambit, which differs in that the characters are in a relationship and that sex is on the table, but still shares the underlying assumption about men's self control. See also Distracted by the Sexy, which is perhaps an unintended side effect, and Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!, for when it isn't necessary for a woman to have a couple of good reasons to do so. See Ignore the Fanservice for one way this gambit falls flat on its face. Another is for the woman to attempt this on a man by opening their shirt/showing "the goods," only to then find out that the man they're trying it on is gay.
Compare Glamour, where the effect is universal, and Favors for the Sexy, the voluntary, almost always male, response. Compare and contrast with the infamous Honey Trap, which is more subtly exploitative and usually far more sinister. Not surprisingly this crosses over with Marshmallow Hell on occasions.
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Anime & Manga
Naruto, despite being male, tried to use this on Killer Bee via shapeshifting.
One episode of Golden Boy has a busty blonde as an office boss.
Bleach: Rangiku Matsumoto's not above using her appeal to help her get what she wants, such as the time she tried to convince Ichigo to let her sleep at his house by unbuttoning her already partially undone blouse. Aside from the occasional reference (usually comedic, but sometimes insulting) in the manga and its related omakes, the anime takes this much further and has a field day using Matsumoto's chest as actual weapons to help her manipulate men (usually Hisagi).
Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop hints that this may be the reason behind her iconic outfit.
One subversion in the early series actually involves Bulma offering a lot more than a peek to General Blue, who is consequently horrified by the prospect, hinting his tastes run ...elsewhere.
The only time this tactic has worked for Bulma is when she has to cajole KameSen'nin into giving up a dragon ball. Due to forcesunexpected, she ends up giving Kame a bit more than she thought she did...
By a character who is only rarely magically gifted. What's even funnier is her breasts even then are still not that big, not even as big as Belldandy's , and Urd's are significantly larger ◊
Momoko Kibitsu from Ookami-san and her "kibidango" that she uses to control her three fanboys...and Urashima.
Suggested in the Beach Episode of Rahxephon. Ayato's drawing ability becomes known, Cathy McMahon subtly rubs one of her breasts in Ayato face, 'suggesting' that he pick her as his next subject.
In one Kamen no Maid Guy episode Naeka got pulled into a restaurant feud centering around a bakery whose manager had decided to go for a business model that depended on this trope to distract customers from how bad the food actually was.
In Young Justice, the first villain the team ever fought literally had this trope as her superpower. After she had retrieved some artifact from an archaeological dig, mousy but slightly hot Nina Dowd was transformed into the voluptuous Mighty Endowed. ME's power was the ability to shine, er... headlight-type beams from her newly ample bosom, hypnotizing all men who saw them. The responses from the guys were hilarious.
For the record, she was defeated when her newly gigundus breasts caused her to lose her balance and fall flat on her face, blocking her powers. In a later appearance, she literally had to have a pair of male minions help her stand.
Erin Brockovich: When asked how she will gain evidence: "They're called boobs, Ed."
Men In Black II: Serleena comments, "Silly little planet. I could rule the place with the right set of mammary glands."
In Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines the TX is speeding in a stolen convertible and a police officer stops her. She spots a big Victoria Secret billboard with a model wearing a wonderbra and inflates her bust size before the cop walks up next to her. It works and the cop is momentarily distracted by her cleavage.
In Material GirlsHilary Duff's character watches Erin Brockovich and remarks that you can always get your evidence with nothing but a push-up bra. She invokes this when she tricks the security guard with a cleavage-revealing Little Black Dress.
In Jennifers Body, Megan Fox's character uses this to get drinks despite being underage. She later cites this trope almost by name to her best friend, telling her breasts are like smart bombs: you point them in the right direction and the magic happens.
In The Cannonball Run a pair of jumpsuited beauties in a Lamborghini use this to evade speeding tickets. It ends up backfiring on them when they try it on a cop who, as they soon discover, ends up having her own impressive assets in this area.
During the rescue sequence of The Living Daylights, Bond gets a little help from this trope; his helper on the east side of the Berlin Wall distracts a guard by unveiling her assets. When last seen, the distracted party is planted face-first in them while the defector escapes.
In the medieval comedy Gladiatrix, the heroine's newly acquired French husband is disappointed over her lack of breasts. When she magically acquires breasts during the course of the movie, she's able to return home and order her husband to carry out numerous household tasks.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, mentions that "The great swamp in the west mingled with a boundless extension of water where there were soft-skinned cetaceans that had the head and torso of a woman, causing the ruination of sailors with the charm of their extraordinary breasts."
The Promise from The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love is related to this.
In the earlier Discworld books it's mentioned that people are practically lining up to be arrested by Angua because of her... unique talents.
This, of course, is stated before it becomes clear that she's a werewolf capable of shredding anyone who resists arrest ...
In The Dresden Files novel Turn Coat, Harry's apprentice Molly gets information out of a rival P.I. by employing this trope. She takes off her bra under her T-shirt, and uses a cold beer bottle to...... bring attention to the fact she's not wearing a bra, before going to talk to the guy in his air-conditioned car. As Harry comments, "He didn't stand a chance".
Live Action TV
Attempted by Jenna on Thirty Rock. Upon arriving at a restaurant, the Maitre'd tells her it will be a 45 minute wait. She bends over, opens her top button... And it's still going to be a 45 minute wait.
In the pilot of Bones, Angela is waiting for Brennan at the airport, but finds the arrivals board broken and therefore has no idea at which terminal Brennan's plane has arrived. She goes to speak to a serviceman, who is too busy punching keys to talk to her. After about ten seconds of being ignored, she rips open her shirt, showing off a very nice pair of breasts(in a very nic lacy bustier, this is network television, pervs). The FATASS man then gives her his full attention.
Averted in Casados Con Hijos: Laura and Coqui try to buy something expensive, so Laura hugs sensually the salesman and asks for a discount. "Excuse me, I'm gay". So she leaves him... and makes Coqui hug him sensually instead, and ask for the discount. "Excuse me, I'm gay, but not desperate".
An episode of Friends begins with the cast discussing who's going to say what about Joey's new show without hurting his feelings (they pass around the Damned by Faint Praise standbys like "the lighting was good.") Phoebe doesn't have to say a word — she just presses him against her chest. His response? "... It wasn't that good."
It later turns into a Brick Joke when his show gets canceled. As Joey is completely distraught, he asks "It was a good show! Right!?" Then both Rachel and Phoebe press him against their chests simultaneously.
In "The One With All the Football," Rachel, Monica and Phoebe have to figure out some way to defeat the guys in a football game. Phoebe flashes Chandler, distracting him enough to enable her to steal the ball.
In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Robin and Lily are trying to get back into a club where Robin was on the VIP guest list, but since the bouncers changed shift, the current one won't believe that she is supposed to be let in. Robin and Lily flash him and get allowed in, giving a gratuitous flash to the nerds standing near the door. (Lucky guys!)
Haley on Modern Family prepares to bring this trope into play when she needs to obtain the last of a very popular toy as a Christmas present and it has just been grabbed by a man. As she adjusts her cleavage and makes her approach, she overhears the man on his cellphone and realizes that he is a Camp Gay. Foiled, she has to find another way to get the toy away from him.
In The Office, Jan gets Michael to rekindle their relationship by getting implants. Michael had no desire to get back together with her until she showed him the goods. Michael maintained that it was not shallow but "emotionally magnificent".
"You made a good argument...Hers was bigger."
In the first episode of Outlaw, Lucinda (Carly Pope) tells Eddie that she's going to get the construction plans she needs from a government office by flashing her breasts. She gets the plans, but it's left ambiguous as to whether she actually had to flash her breasts to get them or was just teasing Eddie.
Elliot and Jordan on Scrubs both do this fairly frequently. Although Elliot would use this on J.D., at times she had some ethical dilemma because she didn't want to build a reputation on her sex appeal (with others telling her it is okay because as a female doctor she got the short end of the stick anyway). Jordan, not being a doctor or even a real working woman, has no qualms about that.
At one point, Elliot believes that her breasts have miraculous healing powers that enable her to cure sick patients by showing them off.
In the Seinfeld episode "The Gum", Elaine does it by accident; a button falls off from her blouse, resulting her showing a great amount of cleavage, but she doesn't notice it, until she easily convinces a policeman to tell a florist to disconnect a hose he was washing the sidewalk with.
In another episode, while meeting with an NBC executive, George is caught looking at his teenage daughter's cleavage, so the executive turns down their idea for a show. To get revenge George and Jerry make Elaine basically shove her cleavage in the executive's face, thus causing him to reconsider the show.
Averted in the Stargate Atlantis episode "Trio", when McKay, Keller and Carter are trapped underground, and McKay suggests that Carter should offer a glimpse of her breasts to motivate a group of boys to help them. Carter, appalled and incredulous, refuses. Keller just ignores him.
Donna in That '70s Show works this one out and subsequently manages to convince guys of things by just showing her bra strap. She also lampshades this one with a downward look:
Donna: These things are awesome!
In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Sally conducted an experiment to see how much abuse a man would take from a beautiful woman before he would tell her to go to hell. She invited a man over and bossed him into doing an endless series of chores, never once showing an interest in him. Eventually, he collapsed from exhaustion and she exclaimed, "Oh my god! I'm so hot I killed him!"
One time Sally and Nina went to the watering hole. Sally approached some random guy.
Sally: Hey, buy us a couple of beers?
Man: Sure. So are you girls going to the big game?
Sally: We don't want to talk to you, we're just broke.
Subverted in another episode. In an effort to reduce Mary's parking ticket fines, Officer Don has her assigned to a judge who is easily influenced by cleavage. However, they change judges at the last minute and Mary ends up doing her flirty act for a strict, serious judge who charges her with contempt of court. Double subverted in The Tag when the same judge offers to reduce the fines and eliminate the contempt charge if she spends the weekend with him at a hotel. Mary turns him down on the basis of his choice of hotel.
On New Girl, Cece tries to use this on Schmidt (explicitly to lure him into sex when he insists he needs to work). He manages to resist, pulling a gender-swapped Lysistrata Gambit, in part because he's upset she was bragging earlier about having all the control in their relationship.
Played quite literally in Misfits where one girl has hypnotic tits. That isn't a figure of speech, her (involuntary) power is to cause men to stare at her breasts and then do whatever she tells them to.
The seguidilla in Carmen. After being arrested, Carmen convinces Josť to let her go by singing a song that can be summed up as "I'm available, let's meet at an inn later tonight."
While Maya Fey of Ace Attorney is reasonably small-breasted, her (dead) sister Mia has a much larger bosom. On one occasion Maya channels her to fill out a waitress outfit that Maya was wearing, thus convincing an older witness with a maid fetish to give them information. Mia is not pleased about her role in the ploy.
It's also used in one of the short oekaki comics in the Case Files manga, where Maya channels Mia in order to get the waiter to give her another serving of pork.
In Casey and Andy, time-traveling Jenn gives this as the reason why the younger Casey and Andy have to agree to help her time-travel back home.
Actually backfires and plays into the plot. It led to a crush, which led to the seduction of the past-Jenn, and her being married to Andy in the present, which she then has to go back and fix.
This is a life strategy of Julia Greenhilt from The Order of the Stick. When she tries this on Durkon ("Don't you want to pay attention to the girl with the boobs?") and he doesn't react, she decides he's gay and catatonic. He later (off screen) subjects her to a talk about respecting her body.
Misfile: Ash, being an involuntary Gender Bender, is understandably reluctant to exploit her rather ample chest in this way, leading bewildered flat-chested Missi to fantasize about what she would do if she had Ash's "assets" in the page image above.
Sinfest: Monique does it frequently. Admittedly she usually uses her buttocks, but the principle is the same.
Jade's sister, Miranda, in Pv P does it to virtually anything male. It only has about a 50% success rate. Brent tries to resist it (and usually does), Cole has too much business ethics, and Max is (probably) gay. It works perfectly on Francis and Jason and most passers-by. Miranda typically counters this with a rapid fire approach.
It's actually so second-nature to her that there's a minor plot arc when an extra-cold winter forces her to stash the cleavage, and she discovers that she's actually gotten to the point of doing it involuntarily. She's rather taken aback to discover that even her closest friends have been swayed by it.
"You've been giving me boob discounts?!"
She's not entirely innocent, as she didn't even take money when going to a bar because "That's what guys are for". Unfortunately, she was in a gay bar and was shocked that it didn't work there. "Powers...weakening..."
Sometimes used by Lilah in Ctrl+Alt+Del to make Ethan do things.
These were used to instantly cure him of his addiction to Everquest; an addiction that otherwise took at least two weeks of therapy to cure.
Ethan claims to have learned from this, and later attempts to use his penis to create this effect on Lilah. This does not work at all.
Daisy from Daisy Is Dead tries to do this, but it only worked when she was still alive. Being a zombie complicates things.
Inversion in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, where Wolf's status as having the best ass in the Underdark allows him to sleep his way up the ranks — he's a male Drow in the female-dominated world of the Dark Elves.
In an Easy Skankin guest comic crossover with Ansem Retort, Dingy tries to invoke this on Duke to get him to do a guest comic for her. He points out that her boobs violate the Geneva Convention, and also that, if he did this, she would have to admit that she was lazier than a sprite comic artist. She relented.
In this strip from Slimy Thief Aisha wants to join the thieves guild but they reject her because they're no longer accepting new members. However, when Aisha shows off her Breast Expansion powers they make an exception.
Girl: Hi, I heard you were a lesbian. Author Avatar: [Rants about being pigeonholed by this single trait] ...I've had just about enou— Girl [unzips her top] Author Avatar: Hi, I'm a lesbian.
In the Fark video "World of Wifecraft", the husbands can be perpetually killed by their wives (necessitating that they run back to their bodies from the graveyard) because the wives' breasts instantly raise them to max level.
ThisCracked article clearly explains the power of boobies.
When Germaine gets a job at a local coffee shop in an episode of Neurotically Yours, she acknowledges to Foamy about how all she has to do is wear very revealing shirts to show off her cleavage (and ginormous boobs), and she gets more tips.
Parodied here in "How To Succeed At Job Interviews, Or Just About Anything, Really." Nice boobs will get you a job.
Marge discovers the advantages of having large breasts in The Simpsons after getting an accidental boob job.
During an early episode of Family Guy, Peter recalls trying to get out of a speeding ticket by pulling his shirt up to expose his man boob.
An episode of South Park is titled "Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society." You can guess the rest. It's Played With.
It's about a girl who first starts developing (tiny) breasts and is freaked out by how it makes boys her age act around her.
It involves the boys learning how to defy this trope.
The last part comes to the dismay of Wendy, who got breast implants just so the boys would act around her like they did around Bebe- only for Wendy to find out the boys successfully learned how to defy this trope.
American Dad! The episode, "My Morning Straitjacket" had Francine doing this in order to get her and Stan past security at the various areas at a concert.
The Robot Chicken sketch "The Lion, the Witch and the Locker", a parody of The Chronicles of Narnia. A nerd wound up in Narnia and the evil Queen asked him to kill the lion Aslan (Jesus). When he argued about whether a mere lion was worth his effort, she just sighed and showed him her boobs. He instantly agreed to obey.
Following a Gender Bender moment, he does this at the video store.
Video Store Owner: That will be $68.50... (The Nerd flashes him and he gasps) by which I mean free!
Used in an episode of Stroker and Hoop where a henchwoman had the ability to hypnotize people regardless of gender by getting them to stare at her breasts. She also swirls them around, like a hypno-spiral.
The original '80s shirt said ALL THIS AND BRAINS TOO.
Abercrombie & Fitch used to sell T-shirts for girls that read right across the chest: "WHO NEEDS BRAINS WHEN YOU HAVE THESE?" A group of teenage girls protested and managed to get the shirts pulled from the shelves due to the blatant sexism.
T-Shirt Hell sells a shirt which reads "I'LL BE USING THESE TO MY ADVANTAGE".
This is so pervasive in Real Life that studies were actually conducted, finding that a female's earning power increased roughly 5% with every extra letter in cup size, especially in service-oriented jobs where tips make up a large proportion of income.