So, you've got a protagonist
who's a bit abrasive, a bit rough around the edges. If you wanted to make a love interest for that character (assuming the character is the type that has the human capacity for love), you could
either make the love interest just like the protagonist, make him or her single, or Take a Third Option
: you could make his or her love interest completely passive.
The inversion of All Girls Want Bad Boys
and All Amazons Want Hercules
, Pitbull Dates Puppy is when someone who's tough and Not Good with People
enters a relationship with The Woobie
, Non-Action Guy
, The Heart
, or the Extreme Doormat
— often by force, though it is possible for one or the other to naturally fall in love with each other.
Often done in historical romance novels where a Badass
decides to marry some fresh young innocent thing
as a change from his usual Vamp
or Femme Fatale
choices. May be a Romantic False Lead
if done deliberately to screw with a more suitable ex.
Contrast Best Her to Bed Her
. Also see True Love is Exceptional
for when a similar Opposites Attract
dynamic actually works out, and Aggressive Submissive
when the relationship works like this most of the time, until the time they actually have sex, when suddenly their roles get inverted. Compare Beast and Beauty
Anime & Manga
- Chessmaster megalomaniac Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam first dated Lahla Sune, a sweet, demure Hindu girl (though she's also a Tyke Bomb), and then later dated the similarly-dispositioned Nanai Miguel. Taken to the extreme in the novels, where he ultimately winds up with a plump Girl Next Door named Margaret who works as a secretary (which may have been the whole point, as the sort of people he usually meets through his work aren't really the kind anyone sane would want to start a family with).
- The bloodthirsty Cute and Psycho Miyamiya from Bamboo Blade has the unassuming Gonk boy Dan for a boyfriend. She never really demonstrates the especially violent aspects of her personality around him, however. It's occasionally hinted that Dan has his own dark side. He's just less easily provoked and hides it better even when he is.
- Kanou and Ayase from Okane Ga Nai, accentuated even more by their massive height difference. Their relationship is supposed to work out somehow but they've got a long way to go, considering that Kanou's still extremely forceful and dominant over the frail, would-rather-martyr-himself-than-harm-even-his-would-be-rapists Ayase 7 volumes in.
- Lua and Ladd from Baccano! may have fit this trope, with Lua, by the end, almost getting up the courage to suggest that maybe she doesn't want to die by his hand.
- Kara no Kyoukai has a variation of this with Kokuto and Sociopathic Hero Shiki. In one case taken to its logical extreme when Shiki once puts a knife to his throat and threatens to kill him. Eventually, it works out when she lets him be her Morality Pet.
- Yandere Kanojo: The delinquent-girl Reina and unassuming stoic guy Manabu fall for one another. Hilarity Ensues as Reina tries (vainly) to keep their relationship a secret in order to preserve her reputation.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: At heart, Shinji and Asuka truly care about and are attracted to each other, but Shinji's extreme passivity and Asuka's similarly over-the-top aggressiveness prevent them from ever forming a real relationship.
- In Onidere, gang leader Saya is head over heels for nerdy Tadashi.
- Flipped around all over the place with Toradora!. Ryuuji has the Face of a Thug, so much so that on the way to class one morning, two guys gave him their wallets, pleading for their lives. He's actually a very nice guy, as well as a major Neat Freak. Contrast with Taiga, who's a short, very cute girl... and known around school as the "Palmtop Tiger" for her angry demeanor and occasional violent outbursts (she punches out Ryuuji when he accidentally bumps into her).
- Fruits Basket has Kyo as the pitbull (ironic due to his zodiac year) to Tohru's puppy. In the early chapters, Kyo was verbally aggressive to her and even accidentally hits her at one point, but he gets better and learns to control his temper around her.
- In Killer Condom, bear Bob "Bladder" and Plumley, a normal sized mature man who manages to look quite like a puppy next to the incredibly hairy mountain of meat, Bob.
- In Crystar Crystal Warrior, the short, tough-as-nails warrior woman Shen is the much older, somewhat bumbling wizard Ogeode's wife. She's completely devoted to him and won't tolerate anyone insulting him in her presence; he meanwhile seems a little intimidated by her. They have a daughter, the beautiful sorceress Ika.
- The Joker and Harley Quinn's relationship. True, Harley is psychotic and destructive like Joker, but is still much more innocent. Their relationship is usually Joker abusing Harley, though it's occasionally implied that he does actually care about her.
- In noir film Rider on the Storm, heroine Mellie has probably never stood up to anyone, let alone her somewhat domineering and chauvinistic husband. The events of the movie manage to show that she's legitimately More Deadly Than The Male without changing any of this.
- Jaded English spy James of Your Scandalous Ways resolves to marry some sweet innocent girl when he gets back home, as he's really sick of Femme Fatales. (This doesn't happen.)
- Kethry of Valdemar- a tough mercenary sorceress whose lack of combat training is made up for by a magic sword- ends up Happily Married to Jadrek, a brilliant and learned Non-Action Guy who suffers from severe arthritis (incapacitating when they meet, later somewhat alleviated by magic).
- House has two doctors who date in season 4 and tried to keep their relationship secret. The pitbull is Amber whose nickname is "Cutthroat Bitch" and the puppy is Wilson, a rather sweet sensitive guy. Part of the arc of their relationship was her trying to teach him to stand up for himself, even to her. Their relationship lasted for half a season. She died in season finale.
- Quinn, who began as the Alpha Bitch of the series, and Finn, the Big Man on Campus who just happens to be a really Nice Guy. During the time they were together, they genuinely were in love with each other, but Quinn slept with Finn's best friend and tried to pass the baby off as Finn's and Finn himself kissed Rachel while he and Quinn were still together.
- Alpha Bitch Quinn follows this up when she starts dating dorky but cute nerd Sam Evans.
- Santana and Brittany. Santana can be a bitch and Brittany is an adorable Cloud Cuckoolander, Brittany's the only person Santana is genuinely nice to and the only one that can actually control Santana's meanness.
- April and Andy on Parks and Recreation. They get married, and it seems to work, probably because April is actually a softie under the snarky exterior.
- His main tactic to get her back when she was trying to make him jealous and toying around with him? Being nice and inviting her revenge boyfriend to jam with him on old Dave Matthews Band songs.
- In a medical drama Monday Mornings, Dr. Sydney Napur dates Dr. John Lieberman. He asks her out in the first episode but she kind of made him by almost-screaming and being pushy. Generally, she is way tougher than him. When Sydney discusses it with her colleagues, Bald Black Leader Guy Dr. Jorge Villanueva thinks he'll "go through her like crap through goose", and she gets angry. Dr. Lieberman reacts with a Flat "What.".
- Ally McBeal: John Cage, nicknamed "Biscuit", is a sensitive dorky lawyer who dates a gorgeous but icy Nelle Porter (nicknamed "Sub-zero") in season 2 and 3. Their relationship is quite happy and Nelle gets a bit warmer, but they later break up.
- Metal Gear Solid:
- There's clearly something going on between Sniper Wolf and Otacon. While Otacon's massive crush for her is not entirely requited, she still is very fond of him. But even though she puts on a tough appearance, she's actually a Death Seeker and knows it will be only more painful for him if they get closer.
- Meryl and Johnny in Metal Gear Solid 4. He is a complete loser and dork, while she's one of the toughest Action Girls in video game land, and has a rather mean temper as well. She shows no interest in him at all and constantly berates him for most of the game, until he saves her life not once but twice, after which she admits her affection for him, but is still quite mean most of the time. When he finally asks her to marry him, she refuses on the ground that in this relationship SHE has to propose to him, which he then gladly accepts.
- In Left 4 Dead, Francis, a hot-blooded biker who enjoys fighting and stealing stuff, falls for cute little news reporter Rochelle. She reciprocates. Everyone else is thoroughly confused.
- Implied with Rita and Estelle in Tales of Vesperia, though it gets no further than subtext. Rita's aggressive and pragmatic, whilst Estelle is noble, naive and sweet. She's also the only one who brings out Rita's softer side.
- Rather common in BioWare RPGs, usually with a protagonist on the darker end of the Morality Meter:
- Deconstructed with Vriska and Tavros. Vriska's a Manipulative Bitch who crippled Tavros for a laugh as a child, and years later, continues to mess with him to try and toughen him up. It later turns out that part of the reason she's doing it is to try and invoke Generation Xerox. Her ancestor wound up in love with (and killed by) Tavros' ancestor, who incidentally was one of the greatest heroes trollkind had ever known. In the end, Vriska finally winds up killing him because she feels he's toughened up too late. Vriska and Tavros finally start dating in the afterlife, and their relationship is every bit as messed up and dysfunctional as you'd expect.
- Vriska's relationship with John reconstructs the trope, mostly because she's learned from her past experiences "helping" people. Not only does she succeed with him in every way she failed with Tavros, but she actually starts wanting to be a better person as a result. Unfortunately, she's killed right after she asks him out on a date.
- Parodied in Hark! A Vagrant's "Strong Female Characters" story, where Susan B. Assthony becomes enticed by the "incredibly weak male lead" character, and apparently marries him.
- KaBlam!'s Henry and June. June is a hot-tempered, deadpan, tough, bossy girl with a crush on Henry, who isn't that strong or smart.
- Janet Barch and Timothy O'Neill on Daria. A man-hating divorcee and borderline Straw Feminist falls for and dates (and eventually marries) a shy, neurotic, utterly inoffensive Hippie Teacher after O'Neill gives her an impromptu therapy session about venting her feelings over being divorced.