Jail Bait

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/31631_slide_340x350_8012.jpg

Malory: For God's sake, Sterling, she's turning seventeen!
Archer: Oh, ew, sorry.
Lana: Even for you, Archer.
Archer: Come on, she doesn't look like she's turning seventeen.
Lana: No, she looks like she's turning eighteen.
Archer: Exactly! Plus, the Europeans use the metric system, so...
Archer

Sometimes romantic prospects are Younger Than They Look. It may be difficult to realize this until it is too late, however. Especially if they claim to be Totally Eighteen.

In Real Life, it is a serious crime for a legal adult to have sex with a minor who is below the age of consent, usually 16-18 in North America and 14-18 in Europe, but in Western works is almost always assumed to be 18 thanks to SoCalization and Artistic License – Law. The national age of consent in Japan is infamously 13, but in practice there are local or prefectural laws in most places raising it to 16 or higher.

The term for a person, or provocative pictures of them, who is under that age but looks either old enough or hot enough for onlookers to forget the difference is "jailbait." A common remark about this is that "15 will get you 20", as according to the law, a minor can't give proper consent to sex since a teenager might not make the most sound decisions and an adult could exploit that, hence the term "statutory rape."

Most jurisdictions do have exceptions in special cases. Cases in which both parties are below the Age of Consent are usually relatively kosher, as well as cases in which the age difference is small (in order to avoid it suddenly becoming illegal upon the older party's birthday, then legal again in a few months when the younger party catches up). Some jurisdictions also have one age of consent on one's own recognizance but a lower one with parental consent. Except in police procedurals where they become plot points, these details are often ignored in fiction.

See also The Jail Bait Wait. Contrast Dawson Casting. Not to be confused with Jail Bake. Compare Fille Fatale which is a more...proactive version of this trope.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Comics  

  • Intentionally averted with the romance of Kitty Pryde and Colossus. They were 14 and 19, respectively, when they met and Marvel's editor-in-chief disliked the idea of them together because of it. Years later, after Colossus' resurrection, the now-both-adult mutants consummate their relationship.
  • During the events of NYX, X-23 was no older than 16. And she was a prostitute.
  • The Really Seventeen Years Old porn star at the centre of "Runaway II" storyline in Ms. Tree. Dan Green is given the double-edged duty of protecting her.

     Film  

  • In Trainspotting, Mark Renton has sex with a girl he meets at a bar, discovering the next morning that she is fifteen when she appears in her school uniform and her "flatmates" are actually her parents. Later, she threatens to tell the police if he does not see her again.
  • In the movie Lifeguard, the chief lifeguard warns his assistant that having sex with an underage girl — even if she's willing — is a crime. Then he goes ahead and has sex with one anyway after warning the trainee that it's a bad idea.
  • In Animal House, Clorette blurts out "I'm only 13" during a makeout session. The line was actually a Censor Decoy put in so that the writers could get away with "I'm only 17" as a "compromise", but it went though without modification.
  • In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, McMurphy is serving out a sentence for statutory rape. During his interview with Dr. Spivey, he says, "She was fifteen years old going on thirty-five, Doc, and she told me she was eighteen."
  • The main character in The Crush is 14 and obsessed with the 28-year-old renting her parents' guest house. He spurns her advances, citing her age as part of the problem. She then frames him for raping her; the cops point out that, given that she's just a kid, of course they don't believe she set him up.
  • In 13 Going on 30 when Jenna (a 13-year-old in the body of a 30-year-old) gets told by her friend that a guy is checking her out. Jenna ignores the adult man winking at her and flirts with a preteen guy instead. Her friend drags her away instantly.
    Lucy: What do you want? A jail sentence? I was talking about that guy.
    Jenna: The man? Oh gross.
  • In The Social Network, Sean gets into legal trouble for doing drugs with (and almost certainly sleeping with) underaged interns.

     Literature  

  • Male example in Haunted 2005. Brandon Whittier is a thirteen-year-old boy suffering from progeria, which causes him to age at seven times the normal rate. He amasses a fortune by telling his nurses he's eighteen, begging them not to let him die a virgin, and then revealing his age and demanding money in exchange for not reporting them.
  • In the early Legacy of the Aldenata novels, Cally O'Neill's apparent age, actual age, and willingness to defend her virtue at gunpoint caused posters with her picture on it to be put up all around her home town with the message: "WARNING: Jailbait. To be considered armed and dangerous."
  • The age of consent in A Brother's Price is sixteen. Jerin Whistler spends most of the novel at fifteen, just two months shy of his birthday. When Ren seduces him, she thinks of his age with embarrassment.
  • Invoked in MAD's "Pantheon of Olympic Gods" with Pubertina: Goddess of Jailbait Teenage Gymnasts.
  • Jill Mastrano's nickname in Vampire Academy, for hanging out with older guyd like Christian Ozera and Adrian Ivashkov (along with older girls, though). She is only fifteen while the others are around seventeen.
  • In Gottes Bodenpersonal - eine unwahrscheinliche Liebesgeschichte, a hooker tries to get rid of a preacher who keeps her customers away by bribing an underage male prostitute to seduce him. It doesn't work. Instead, the preacher calls social services and gets the boy into proper care. Confronted about it, he lampshades this trope by stating that the boy was clearly underage, and there was nothing else anyone with a conscience would do.

     Live Action TV  

  • In the first episode of Californication, Hank has a one night stand with a young woman who turns out to be the sixteen-year-old daughter of his ex-girlfriend's fiancé (though he did not know who or how old she was at the time.) Three seasons of blackmail and plagiarism later, the truth is finally revealed and Hank is arrested and charged with statutory rape.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • When new watcher Wesley expresses interest in Cordelia, Faith's response is to inform him of the the potential for going to jail:
    • In the Musical Episode Buffy's little sister Dawn is kidnapped by a demon who wants to make her his queen.
    ♫ What I mean / I'm fifteen / So this "queen" thing's illegal!
    • Even Buffy (16 at the time) calls Angel on this in "What's My Line?"
    Buffy: I wish we could be regular kids.
    Angel: Yeah. I'll never be a kid.
    Buffy: Okay, then a regular kid and her cradle-robbing, creature-of-the-night boyfriend.
  • In the British sitcom Outnumbered, there is the Brockmans' teenage son Jake, who is 15 and dating a lap-dancer who believes he's 17. He eventually tells her this, at which point she reveals herself to be 16 and lap-dancing illegally.
  • In one episode of NCIS, one particularly Jerk Ass suspect alibies out of the Murder of the Week because he was having sex with a senator's seventeen-year-old daughter at the time. Ziva promptly (and rather smugly) arrested him for statutory rape.
  • British police drama The Bill has an interesting example. A drunken man picks up a very willing female partner in an adult nightclub and ends up bedding her. Some months later this girl's mother finds out about it and reports them to the police since her daughter was under the age of consent (16 in the UK). The police establish that the fourteen-year-old had deliberately used clothes and make-up to make herself look older than she really was, and persuade the male to confess, reasoning that he had been careless but that it wasn't really in the public interest to prosecute him so he would be given a slap on the wrist and let go. Then it transpires that the girl's birthday was incorrect due to adoption or some other reason, so she was actually twelve at the time, thus meriting a statutory rape charge. That the unwitting guy had just confessed to. Oops.
  • In Tinsel, Angela Dede thinks a she's dating who she met at an office party is twenty-something, until his mother — her boss — tells her he is seventeen and is a frequent offender.
  • 8 Simple Rules
    • Bridget Hennessey frequently flirts with older guys even if she is only sixteen or seventeen, though the only actual relationships she's had are with fellow classmates. Her sister also drops this line during a conversation.
    Bridget: Just use the line I use whenever I need to break up with a guy.
    Kerrie: I'm only seventeen, you'll go to jail?
  • There was an unsuccessful Spin-Off of Married... with Children called Top of the Heap (it only lasted seven episodes, but that was still longer than the other two attempts at spin-offs for the show.) In the first episode, an attractive teenaged girl tries to seduce the male protagonist; he suggests she come back "when you're not a felony."
  • The Affair: Noah's 16-year old daughter Whitney had sex with Cole's 30-year old brother Scott during the summer and became pregnant as a result. Her parents threaten to press charges for statutory rape and Noah attacks Scott when he runs into him. This makes him the primary suspect when Scott's murder is being investigated.

     Music  
  • "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap is all about this: the singer has discovered that his girlfriend is underage ("You led me to believe you're old enough to give me love") and tells her to go away "before I have the time to change my mind."
  • The song Into the Night by Benny Mardones is all about this type of relationship. The lyrics start "She's just 16 years old. Leave her alone, they say."
  • The song Jailbait by Motörhead is about underage groupies who show up at the band's shows.
  • Jimmy Buffett gets right down to brass tacks: "Hittin' on the honeys right out of high school, Yeah, fifteen may get you twenty, but that's all right, "Cause they're rockin' and a rollin' on a Livingston Saturday Night"
  • Christine Sixteen by KISS is about an older man who becomes infatuated with a sixteen year old girl. Because of the controversial subject matter many radio stations refused to play the song when it was released in 1977.
  • Cherie Curie of The Runaways was marketed as such. She was fifteen when the band was formed and was given a racy and provocative magazine spread. There was also a famous performance in Japan where she sang onstage in lingerie.
  • "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner features the line "Are you old enough? / Will you be ready when I call your bluff?"
  • Proyecto Uno's cover of "Nu nu" is about the singer going into a disco, picking an incredibly hot girl who was checking him, and then while dancing discovering that the girl is only 15 years old. The singer is scared and stupefacted at this revelation: "How I'm going to do / if the chick is hotter than my ex-girlfriend!"
  • "Does Your Mother Know (That You're Out)" by ABBA is about a guy in a dance club who realizes that the girl flirting with him is (probably) underage. He's still willing to flirt and talk with her, though, but he's careful not to let things get too far.
  • Although neither song contains anything inappropriate (even by 1950's standards), the two Chuck Berry classics "Sweet Little Sixteen" (featuring, obviously a 16 years old) and "Little Queenie" (featuring a girl "too cute to be a minute over 17") take on a bit of this when you remember that the songs were written and performed by a man in his late 20s, early 30s. And the less said about "Sweet Little Rock and Roller" in this context, the better which is why covers of the song usually adjust the girl's age to nineteen.
  • "Fucking Young" by Tyler, the Creator is a song about a non-sexual relationship with an underage girl. He is tempted to have sex with her but he's scared that he'll end up in prison for it.
  • Jim Croce's "Five Short Minutes."("Five short minutes of love/Done brought me twenty long years in jail.")

     Professional Wrestling 
  • GLOW had such a character named Jail Bait. In her opening rap she even drops the "fifteen will get you twenty" line.
  • JAPW's and later, Ring of Honor's Christopher Street Connection had a member named Jail Bait, who was unfortunately pulled into the stoner group Special K.
  • Sexy Juliette made her debut at fifteen. Then again, her gimmick was hunting the wicked...
  • Team Bad, made up of teenaged Braden Austin and Dante Acosta were subjected to many such jokes in UCW-Zero, from getting put in matches with The 801 District who "deserved" to be incarcerated to being borderline molested by the exotico team, the Fella Twins.

     Tabletop Games  
  • In the controversial card game Pimp: The Backhanding, the flavor text for one of the 'whores', Ursula, reads, "Are you sure you're 18?" This particular card earns a penalty if the "Undercover Cop" card is played by an opponent.

     Theatre  

     Webcomics  

  • In one early story arc of Least I Could Do, Rayne met a girl in a bar, and slept with her, not unreasonably assuming that she was over 18. However, she was actually 16 and still in high school. Rayne was arrested but eventually acquitted as there was no way he could have known she was under age, since 16 year old high school students aren't supposed to hang around in bars. Rayne them asked if this meant he could legally sleep with sixteen year olds if he met them in bars, causing John and his lawyer to drag him out of the courtroom.
  • This trope got taken Up to Eleven and savagely deconstructed in the backstory of Lillian Schneider from White Dark Life; she was captured by a sexual slavery ring at the age of five, and made a prostitute before she even hit puberty. (The sex slavers in question really hated her parents for making their operations difficult, and wanted her to suffer.) Even worse, Lillian was a sex slave for eight years. Needless to say, she was severely psychologically damaged by the time she was finally rescued. Thankfully, by the time of the roleplays, she's managed to recover from the experience (though it did take lots and lots of therapy, and she still has nightmares and psychological quirks from her experiences, which will never go away).

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  
  • Even Sterling Archer, for all the depraved sexual acts he's performed (willingly and otherwise), draws a line at underage women. Even when being informed that the girl in question is legal in the country he's in, he refuses to give in to her advances, showing it's more of a personal rule than actual being afraid of prosecution. It might even be the first time we see Archer have an actual set of principles.
  • Family Guy:
    • One episode of has Brian infer from a comment by a recent sexual partner that she's sixteen, to which she responds that she will be in a few months (which prompts him to state that she'll get a car as a present from him to keep quiet about it).
    • The 2008 episode "McStroke involved Stewie setting up school slut Connie D'Amico by masquerading as a high school student and tricking her into going out with him and having sex. When Connie makes fun of Stewie's endowment, Stewie makes sure the cops know how old he really is.
    • Meg, of all people. Quagmire sometimes greets her, "Hey, Meg! 18 yet?"


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JailBait