It's hard to tell what does it exactly. Maybe it's the tendency of good guys to have larger Johnsons
than their evil counterparts. Perhaps it's the realization that Good People Have Good Sex
. But for some reason or other, sending an evil woman to seduce a hero has a surprisingly high turnover rate. There's a very good chance that's she'll just decide to bat for the other team (moral team, that is) rather than stick to the original plan. The sexier the hero, the more likely this will work.
To make some sense out of this trope, look at this way. Sex Equals Love
right? And Love Redeems
, right? So sex redeems. If you're a woman, anyway—this is rarely used with female heroes
, making this something of a sexy Double Standard
The trope may have a foot on reality
's ground, for less than intuitive reasons: usually the villain is a villain for everyone
, this including his or her female agents
(who may get it even worse in their own camp
compared to other minions of the Big Bad
, for being at the same time female, spies and
whores). If the good guys prove their own goodness in bed, but at the same time in their manners, way of acting and treating her, this may be the last straw to convince her it's the proper time to switch boats.
The trope can also be gender inverted
, with a male (usually the protagonist) suddenly being a lot
more interested in helping some group after sleeping with a woman who's in the group.
For more wordplay on related tropes, think of this as Sex Equals Redemption as opposed to Redemption Equals Sex
. Here, the redemption comes after the sexual encounter instead of before.
May or may not be a part of a High Heel-Face Turn
and In Love with the Mark
. Very common as a result of Go Seduce My Archnemesis
, markedly less so in a Honey Trap
. If the sex itself doesn't cause redemption, but she gets knocked up and that does
, it's Deliver Us from Evil
. Also see Villainesses Want Heroes
which is basically the same except she doesn't succeed. If initiated by a female character, she is always a Heroic Seductress
For a darker relative, see Rape Portrayed As Redemption
. Related to Sex Is Good
Anime and Manga
- The original, 1940s Golden Age Airboy series. Kissing the titular protagonist didn't turn Valkyrie, a Nazi air ace, against her superiors - finding out that her subordinates were about to be executed did. Unfortunately, many fans of the later 1980s incarnation of the series didn't have an opportunity to read the original stories, so they assumed that this was an example of the trope.
- In the Mystique series, Mystique slept with a seeming ally, Shepard Leighton, only to have him betray her to Mystique's foe, the Quiet Man who was actually possessed by the mind of Shepard's dead sister.
- Averted with Loretta in The Sting. She sleeps with Johnny Hooker because she's the hitman "Salino" who's been hired to kill him. Somewhat played with because the character the audience thinks is the hitman is actually a bodyguard hired by Gondorff for Johnny's protection. It doesn't hurt that up until the very last second, the audience thinks that the only person who would help Johnny has just been shot by the 'man' gunning for him.
- Eve in North by Northwest, although technically since she was a mole all along she never really loved her crime boss partner in the first place.
- Lili Von Shtupp from Blazing Saddles pulls this after being surprised and overjoyed at how big the black Sheriff Bart turns out to be. "It's twue, it's twue!"
- Had the censors and / or executives not objected, this was to have been played with for parody; Bart's next line after this was to have been to politely point out that Lili was, in fact, sucking on his elbow.
- Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Ivonna Humpalot and Austin Powers.
- Undercover Brother. White She Devil and the title character.
- James Bond examples:
- Gila in Our Man Flint, with Derek Flint.
- Meg from Hercules, although as far as we can tell it wasn't actual sex that did it.
- Sorsha from Willow with Madmartigan.
- Achilles in Troy with Briseis. He gains a heart and purpose from there on.
- Revenge of the Nerds: Betty is more of the Alpha Bitch than an actual enemy, but she IS the Alpha Beta leader's girlfriend until Lewis Skolnick covertly has sex with her in the Moon Room during the Carnival.
Lewis: Jocks only think about sports. We [nerds] only think about sex.
- In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, the same effect is achieved not by the antagonistic woman actually seducing the hero, but by having her sleep with someone she thought was him when it was in fact another member of the same multi-national Carnival of Killers as her. This leaves the hero very confused when she suddenly appears naked in his bed professing her undying love for him.
- A major reason for Jake going native in Avatar is the fact that he's boinking a very hot alien chick. The Colonel even calls him out on it.
Quaritch: "So, what, you find yourself some local tail... and then you completely forget what team you're on?"
- Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indy actually believed she was good when he slept with her, only later learning that she was The Mole. Apart from that innovation, it's played completely straight.
- This occurs at least twice in the Incarnations of Immortality series. Incidentally, the series also includes a Sex Heel Turn. However, the Go Seduce My Archnemesis plan worked a little too well, and the newly minted Anti-Villain comes out on top of the ensuing Evil Versus Evil struggle.
- Tahiri Veila in Legacy of the Force. Subverted in that she doesn't actually have sex with Ben. Oh, and Ben's 14 and she's 28, making this an example of Squick. Of course, much Fanon says his father did the same to his mother, making this trope (and just about everything else a Skywalker does) In the Blood. Also subverted, in that instead of the 'sex face turn' working, he converts her later on.
- Happens to half the women Golan Trevize meets in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, two examples being Hiroko in Alpha Centauri and the transport minister in Comporellon.
- On Hercules: The Legendary Journeys however, everyone the Hercster slept with went from unpleasant or downright evil to virtuous and demure. His strength was apparently not his only divine ability.
- Kind of played with in Angel at the end of Season 3, where Lilah tries to recruit the abandoned Wesley, even claiming he shouldn't pretend he is too good to work for Wolfram & Hart since he betrayed Team Angel. They end up having sex and develop very quirky feelings for each other, even to the degree of relationship-like behaviour. Well, she was rather turned Face than Wesley Heel. What are the odds ...
- On Buffy, the opposite happened. Angel literally lost his soul and turned evil when he had sex with Buffy, because of a moment of true happiness. Granted, he was kinda cursed to that fate. Spike plays the trope straight-ish, though.
- On an episode of Wings, after Brian reports the improbable-but-true circumstances of his house burning down, a tough insurance inspector arrives to investigate him for fraud. She mercilessly builds her case against Brian, refusing to even consider his innocence... until she and Antonio have a wild passionate hook-up, and in the course of doing so accidentally start a fire that's comedically similar to the circumstances around Brian's house fire. The episode ends with the inspector unceremoniously dropping the case.
- House, the season 6 premiere. Kind of. He's still a sociopath afterward, but at least he's not a crazy sociopath.
- Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica has Caprica-Sharon pulling one of these after a night with Helo. Ironically, Boomer's sex with Helo, in season 4, only sets up her Moral Event Horizon. A meta-subversion of this trope occurs in the opening moments of the Season 3 premiere: Ellen Tigh is seen sleeping with Cavil, to release Saul Tigh from Detention. Subversion because Cavil ain't one of the good guys and meta because while we can presume this is not her first selfless act, it is the first one the audience sees, and so serves as an inadvertent representation of our increased sympathy for her.
- Nearly happened in season four of Gossip Girl. Juliet's main goal is to destroy Serena, but begins to turn away from that plan after she jumps into bed with Nate. Then Vanessa convinces her to go back to the dark side.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation had the Face Turn precede the Sex part. In one episode, Riker is stuck on an alien world which has yet to achieve warp drive (but is very close). He ends up being hospitalized then held captive when they discover he's not the same species. One nurse offers to help him escape... if he'll sleep with her. Cut to her helping Riker escape.
- Averted in season 3 of Heroes. The viewers are led to believe this is going to happen when it looks like Sylar is falling for Elle. (Admittedly, Elle isn’t exactly a shining paragon of White Morality, but any influence she can have at this point can’t help but be for the better.) They end up on a beach alone at night, and just as Elle and the viewers think he’s going to tell her how she saved him and they’re going to sleep together…Sylar whispers that they’re both “damaged goods” and can never change, and then he brutally murders her.
- In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu starts off as wild and uncivilized, but then has sex with a temple prostitute named Shamhat over the course of a week. (Perhaps she was using sex as a reward for desirable behavior on Enkidu's part?) By the end of the week, Enkidu is civilized, and no longer roams around with animal companions in the forest, but rather befriends Gilgamesh. Enkidu does blame Shamhat for his death and curses her, however, because if it weren't for her, he would have remained a wild man and not gotten caught up in all the mess he and Gilgamesh did. The sun god reminds him that he is better off because of her, and Enkidu takes back the curse he put on her.
- Eva had simple orders in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: seduce Naked Snake, steal the Philosopher's Legacy from him, and kill him. In the end, she does steal the Legacy, but leaves him alive with a recording explaining her involvement, and her connection to The Boss. They meet again with much plot relevance before Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Possibly subverted when Eva claims that it wasn't her feelings for Snake that stopped her from killing him, but the respect she had for the Boss, who made Eva promise she would let him live.
- Possibly gender inverted in the Neverwinter Nights mod A Dance with Rogues, where having sex with Vico in the second chapter leads you down a path in which he is a somewhat nicer person than your other options in that scene. Played straight in The Bastard Of Kosigan, in the first module with the female mercenary in the forest north of Cologne. Having sex with her is an optional part of her Heel-Face Turn, though.
- Early in Sengoku Rance, Suzume is dispatched by Inukai of Iga to seduce and kill Rance. She chooses to defect to Oda after having sex with him. Since when is Rance a good guy? When the plot calls for it. Relatively speaking.
- Can be done in Liberal Crime Squad: high seduction can convert CIA agents, and even the corporate CEO.
- The Evil Overlord List, #19. Stick to the list and you shall succeed.
- Leather from Interviewing Leather, has some really nasty things to say about "heroes" who think they can redeem a supervillainess by sleeping with her.