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All Girls Want Bad Boys / Live-Action TV

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  • Game of Thrones: Dany's great love was her husband Khal Drogo, a tough warrior, barbarian, rapist, and pillager. Later, she gets hot for amoral mercenary Daario Naharis, who first gets her attention by bringing severed heads of her enemies to her. On the other hand, her loyal friend and advisor Ser Jorah Mormont's feelings for her are so unrequited that he is dubbed "Lord Friendzone" by the fandom, and her almost second husband, Hizdahr zo Loraq, a non-fighter and probably the most decent guy of all of them, is a straight-up The Chew Toy, subjected by Daenerys to And Now You Must Marry Me for political reasons, but she blatantly states that she won't be faithful to him and seems to take pleasure from watching Daario bully Hizdahr right next to her. Finally averted in season 7 where she slowly falls for Jon Snow, who is honest, decent, selfless, a strong character, has an earnest desire to save the world and doesn't enjoy killing, although he's good at it.
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  • Happy Endings turns this into "All gay guys want bad boys" in the episode "You Snooze you Bruise". Dave runs afoul of a bully at his new gym. He thinks the guy is Invoking this trope to show off for girls, but it turns out he's a Straight Gay Jerkass. Max plays this trope straight by becoming attracted to the guy (whose attraction he previously dismissed-despite others thinking he was basically Max's ceiling), especially after he punches Dave. When Dave stands up for himself and gives a Rousing Speech that inspires Camp Gay Derrick to punch the bully out, Max instantly switches his attraction to Derrick.
    Max: I love bad boys. Like Will Smith in the movie Bad Boys, or even Martin Lawrence in Big Momma's House.
  • Fonzie, token bad boy of Happy Days and girl magnet. Of course, he became less and less "bad" as time went on, due to the writers twigging to the fact that he was becoming a role model.
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  • Full House: Jesse nurtured the bad boy/nomad musician persona until he settled down and got married.
  • Family Ties has a subversion in the form of Mallory's boyfriend, Nick. While he very much looks the part of a bad boy (e.g. mullet, leather jacket, motorcycle), he's actually quite harmless and genuinely loves Mallory. He's also shown to be very good with kids, as seen with his interactions with Andy (none of this stops the parents from disliking him though).
  • Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, got a lot of his Girls of the Week thanks to his Philadelphia street cred as a breath of fresh air in a world of rich, preppy good boys. He was only "bad" by contrast, though, being otherwise a pretty standard protagonist.
    • In one rather hilarious episode, Will actually tries to be as "bad" as possible to get a really hot girl who's obsessed with dating the meanest, baddest guy around. This episode seemed to be making fun of this trope as well the concept of an overprotective father, as the girl seems, at least partly, to have developed this fixation due to the extremely limited interaction she has with boys her age (her father, a professor of psychology, is known as 'Dr. No' when it comes to his daughter).
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  • Drake & Josh features an episode where textbook Nerd Eric becomes popular (especially among the girls) after a rumor spreads that he beat up Drake.
  • Every one of the Camden girls' boyfriends on 7th Heaven, with few exceptions (none prominent enough for this contributor to name), were bad boys (at least by the standards of this particular show). The Camden boys were even aware of (and made their own love lives difficult over) this trope.
  • Girl Code: The "Bad Boys" segment treats this as a given. By the end of the segment, the consensus is that while all girls want bad boys, it's ultimately a bad idea to end up with one.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Having been a socially awkward and much maligned poet in life, Spike basically built his entire persona around the 'bad boy' image once he turned into a vampire. He fabricated a rougher accent, took up smoking, is rarely seen without his leather coat, and quickly established himself as a notorious Blood Knight with a rep sheet only outdone by Angelus. Impressive, considering he's also less than half Angelus' age. Naturally, he's prone to weaponizing seduction and a whole lot of his Casual Danger Dialogue verges on Foe Romance Subtext. Even despite outward distain and mistreatment from him, Harmony is quite taken with him note  and even Buffy eventually finds herself attracted to his roguish charm.
      • Somewhat subverted by Drusilla, as although they spent over a century in Unholy Matrimony, she eventually leaves him for not being bad enough, having foreseen him falling in love with Buffy and presumably catching a glimpse of his upcoming Character Development.
    • Angel is a perfect example of this, too. He has the broody bad boy look, a Dark and Troubled Past, and if he's truly happy, even for a second, he's going to start mass murdering people. Spike might be a Serial Killer, too, and goes on about how Evil Feels Good, but even without his soul, there are limits to how evil he is willing to be. Angel doesn't have any such limits and his re-ensoulment was less stable than Spike's.
    • In the pilot episodes, Xander's friend, Jesse, was a clueless geek who could never get Cordelia to notice him...until he was turned into a badass evil vampire, at which point, she couldn't keep her eyes off him.
    • And didn't Vampire Xander from the Alternate Universe seem hotter?
    • Not to mention Riley Finn, who specifically avoided this trope...and hell had no fury like the backlash that came from THAT.
      • Riley's attempts to get Darker and Edgier only hastened the downfall of their relationship. Hearing Dawn say that Buffy doesn't get all miserable over him the way she did over Angel + whatever the frak was going on in Riley's head = visiting disgusting vampire brothels.
    • Buffy is pretty much an extreme case of this trope. The main character only ever seems to date two guys who remains on the human side of "unholy, Always Chaotic Evil abomination against God", one of whom she almost completely ignorednote . It's even lampshaded by both Buffy herself and Spike, especially when she dated wholesome Riley.
      "You like men who hurt you. You need the pain we cause you. You need the hate. You need it to do your job, to be the Slayer."
    • Buffy herself noted her attraction to bad boys in "Something Blue" when she worries that a nice, safe relationship would lack the intensity.
    • Subverted with Robin Wood, who Buffy dated briefly. A genuine Nice Guy, the attraction was more Hot for Teacher. Wood however is the son of a Slayer Spike killed, and he's prepared to defy Buffy for revenge. He ended up with Faith but remains a loyal friend when Buffy needs him.
      • The trope is amusingly lampshaded when Buffy goes on a date with Wood before finding out which side he's on:
      Buffy: He's good-looking, and he's solid, he's normal. So, not the wicked energy which is nice 'cause I don't only want to be attracted to wicked energy. (suddenly worried) Or what if he is wicked? In which case, is that why I'm attracted to him?
    • When Giles was younger, he was a smoking, drinking, violent, vicious mage called Ripper. This side of him crops up from time to time, such as when he uses the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique or displays his skills as a crook, and when a spell reverts him back to his Ripper days, Joyce is all over him.
  • Subverted in The 10th Kingdom. Wolf does get the girl in the end, but being a bad boy didn't help, and after his disastrous initial encounter with Virginia, he spends a good part of the series reading self help books to reform himself.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, the female characters, including Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline all seem to be attracted to a mysterious, brooding loner (Stefan) and a dark, charming, rebellious bad boy (Damon).
    • Caroline plays it straight in the first season; she's attracted to the Salvatore brothers because of how "sexy" and "dangerous-looking" she thinks they are. Stefan bluntly rejects her, and then she meets Damon, who she wastes no time getting in bed with. However, this is subverted when Damon reveals that he's a vampire and feeds on Caroline. She hypnotizes her into being his girlfriend and obeying his every command, and abuses her both physically and emotionally during their entire time "together". Then Elena forces him to leave Caroline alone so he makes her forget the whole abuse. Think that's it? No, because in season 2 Caroline gets turned into a vampire by Katherine, thus getting back all the memories Damon took from her. It's notable that because of this, Caroline eventually subverts the trope, in that she doesn't think of Damon as "sexy" anymore because of his bad-boy attitude and knows he's a psychopath, which is why she spends her time talking Elena out of being with him.
    • Elena, however, plays it straight when it comes to Damon. In fact, Elena just gets more and more into this trope as the series progresses (possibly because her life gets crappier and her character darker).
      • In fairness, by the time Elena and Damon are together, Damon has come a very long way from the unrepentant, murdering asshole he was in the first two seasons (he even saved Caroline's life on more than one occasion, and defended her to her mother when Liz found out she was a vampire). Caroline, meanwhile, remains completely blinded by Stefan's 'Good Brother' facade (he is, after all, the same person who was so determined to 'fix' his ex-girlfriend that he willingly activated her brother's hunter gene, which nearly led to him killing Elena), to the point where she says "Say what you want about Ripper Stefan, but at least he wasn't a manwhore." Elena, in contrast, sees and knows every facet of Damon, good and bad, and loves him because she knows all of him, meanwhile growing and learning more about herself and that it's ok to be a little selfish in the process. Really, Damon and Elena are a deconstruction of this trope (after all, she didn't start to actually fall for him until he started becoming a better man through his love for her).
    • Played straight and subverted with Klaus and Caroline. Caroline tried really hard to resist Klaus' bad boy charm, turning him down many times and never holding her tongue about how much of an evil jerk he is while still showing signs of attraction from time to time. She does cave and sleeps with him later, but still doesn't want to actually be in a relationship with him.
  • In Veronica Mars, after seeing that he does have a softer side, Veronica finds herself making out with her high school's "obligatory psychotic jackass", Logan. Their relationship redefines the phrase "on-again, off-again", especially in the third season. Particularly jarring is the finale, where Veronica still appears interested, despite the fact that he only recently beat the stuffing out of her current, genuinely nice boyfriend, "Piz", for suspecting that he posted a sex tape online...despite Piz having no reason or inclination to do so. Logan's response to any situation is to start hitting it, really. Veronica's renewed interest in Logan isn't so much because he's beating someone up, but that he's beating up a man to avenge Veronica's honour when he has absolutely nothing to gain doing so (and plenty to lose). She's clearly turned on by the whole thing, hence her guilty look to Piz. The show ends with her being with Piz. However, the follow-up film results in Piz dumping her, after she chooses to stay in Neptune rather than meet his parents in New York. She then goes back to her "on-and-off" relationship with Logan, who's in the Navy now.
  • Lost: In-story, we have Kate as an example of how girls want bad boys, with Sawyer playing the Veronica to Jack's Betty, although Kate herself is the distilled female version of Troubled, but Cute.
  • Heroes: taken to hilarious extremes in the show proper: Maya doesn't seem to think of Mohinder in that way when he's a nice guy scientist, but when he injects himself with a Super Serum that gives him an array of superpowers and starts giving off a dangerous aura, she wastes no time getting into bed with him!
  • House, being at best a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, gets this a lot. Out of the four women in his life who were on the show, three had some form of romantic interest in him (not counting Amber. Maybe). Stacy was his girlfriend. Cuddy had sex with him in college, and apparently carried a torch for him for twenty years. Interestingly, Cameron's crush on him may be a subversion, since her occasional You Are Better Than You Think You Are moments with House suggest that she's drawn to the Hidden Heart of Gold that she sees within him, rather than the prickly exterior surrounding it. She's also the only one of these women who definitely leaves the show because House does something she finds unforgivable. Cuddy presumably feels the same way, but the series never explicitly details her reason for leaving.
  • To a point, Danny on CSI: NY; he wasn't a complete bad boy, but had some bad boy qualities surfacing in his backstory and onscreen now and then. Granted, he'd settled a lot by the time he married Lindsay.
  • The IT Crowd featured an episode in which Roy tried to demonstrate the validity of this trope after a bad date, by posting an online lonely hearts ad consisting largely of abuse. He later struggled to maintain his bad boy persona during a date with the woman who answered. Then a genuine bastard showed up. Guess who the woman left with?
  • In Growing Pains, it's the Seaver parents who are convinced that other parents would not like their children to hang around their troublesome son. In latter seasons, partially due to the actor's religious conversion, Mike's "bad boy" persona has been toned down considerably. One may see it as Mike becoming mature.
  • Sean Slater on EastEnders; he's an unpleasant, bullying, smug, and vicious borderline sociopath with hardly any redeeming qualities whatsoever�who, despite pretty much being an openly nasty piece of work, has to beat women off him with a stick.
  • Charlie Stubbs on Coronation Street who, if not quite as sociopathic, was nonetheless a thoroughly obvious nasty piece of work whom women seemed to find irresistible. Unluckily for him, he ended up with a woman who was a full blown sociopath.
  • Gilmore Girls: Rory Gilmore, over the course of the series, seems determined to date the baddest boy—first dumping wholesome Dean for Jess, then, after Jess leaves town, getting back with Dean, who is now a significantly darker character, given that he's cheating on his wife with Rory. Later, she again dumps Dean for Logan, who is a member of a secret society and a rebel against the wealthy society of his upbringing.
  • Smallville:
    • Upstanding farmboy Clark Kent puts on his new class ring and gets a rebellious attitude, which the new girl, Jessie, loves and even Lana falls for.
    • In season nine, Chloe Sullivan ends up with Oliver. Somehow.
    • In season ten's "Luthor", alternate-universe Tess is apparently in a relationship with Clark Luthor a.k.a. Ultraman .
  • Played With Hyde and Jackie in That '70s Show. While his petty criminality is a turn-on when they are dating, and helps when he dons a leather jacket that Kelso kept getting made fun of when he tried to wear it, it was him knocking out a guy for calling Jackie a bitch that first cemented her feelings for him, causing her to envision him as a literal Knight in Shining Armor atop a white stallion.
    • This is also why Donna attaches herself to Casey, Kelso's older brother after her and Eric break up at the end of season 3.
  • Gender-reversed in the Seinfeld episode "The Little Jerry", where George falls for a female prison inmate. Of course, he's desperate and, simultaneously, afraid of commitment. On the plus side: conjugal-visit sex. And eventually, one better than that: "fugitive sex!"
    • There is also the episode "The Little Kicks", where Elaine forbids an intern or temp working for her to get close to George, which immediately turns him into a forbidden fruit to her. He picks up on this and starts pretending to be a bad boy in order to get into her pants, and it all works out for him, until they get caught filming a bootlegged movie and he starts crying as they are arrested.
  • Friends: Lampshaded by Chandler.
    Chandler: "You're such a nice guy" means "I'm gonna be dating leather-wearing alcoholics and complaining about them to you."
    • Ironically, and luckily for him, his best friend-later-girlfriend-come-wife Monica is Single Woman Seeks Good Man, and outright rejects a few mean guys before they get together. Rachel plays it straight though when she dates Paolo.
  • Gossip Girl: Blair's true love was made out to be Chuck, who takes bad to another level—he tried to rape two separate characters in the pilot episode. In the later half of the season, after Lily and Rufus become official, Jenny deflects Chuck's mean comments by reminding him of what he did to her, including a mild threat of what would happen should she ever chose to tell Rufus. This does prompt an apology from Chuck but, contrary to what one might expect, Jenny receives this not with a gushing sentiment that all is forgiven, but with a stony (if stunned) silence.
    • Also, Carter Baizen in seasons two (Blair) and three (Serena), though the latter season seems to be pushing for Carter as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold rather than a true bad boy.
  • Dexter picks up a stalker who is in love with him largely because he is an unrepentant serial killer.
    • Rita and her first husband. To a lesser extent, Rita and Dexter. Apart from being a serial killer, he had an affair and was constantly too busy working and murdering people to commit to her. Lila and Lumen both seemed attracted to Dexter specifically because they knew there was something not quite right with him.
  • Molly in Scrubs hangs a lampshade on this trope.
  • iCarly: Carly Shay highlights this trope in some of the episodes.
    • The central plot of "iDate a Bad Boy". Griffin is a delinquent who stole the motorcycle that Carly bought for Spencer. After having a short Slap-Slap-Kiss incident, Carly falls in love with him, much to Spencer's chagrin and Freddie's jealousy. Carly and Sam even gush at the fact that Griffin is full of scars and he punched a hole in the wall due to anger. But all of his bad boy rep went downhill when Carly discovered his deep obsession with plush toys.
    • In "iStage an Intervention", Carly is impressed that goody-two-shoes Freddie "could be so bad" when not only does he inform her that he already knows all the "bad luck" he's been having was caused by Sam, but that he managed to pull a secret prank on Sam as revenge.
    • Inverted in "iPear Store", when Carly goes after one of Freddie's co-workers with gusto because he's a nerdy guy—but when he turns into a Casanova Wannabe and tries to make a move on her, it turns her off completely.
    • Gender Flip in "iMake Sam Girlier". Sam asks Carly to teach her how to behave like a real girl to catch the attention of her eye-candy, Pete. While Sam does a good job in behaving "girly", Carly gets attacked by a bully, which triggered Sam's Unstoppable Rage. Unfortunately, Pete saw how Sam wrestled with the bully, but it turns out he likes a girl "who kisses well and kicks butt as well".
  • The Good Doctor Sara Tancredi of Prison Break is the poster girl for this trope, both in-series and in her back story.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look
    • A sketch featuring a 'wacky' popular historian whose wife wishes he would be more like the "angry, edgy young historian" he was in his youth. After a brief flashback, in which we see the younger version of the historian in all his wangsty, leather-jacketed glory, the historian not unreasonably protests that he was a "tosspot" back then.
    • In another sketch, Cyrano de Bergerac "helps" a reluctant Nice Guy seduce a chavvy woman by acting like a sexist douche. It works too well and by the time he realizes he doesn't want to be with someone who's attracted to that kind of thing, she's dragging him into her house.
    • Possibly the darkest take is in the sketch where a male librarian suddenly starts mocking a lonely woman's choice in books, moving on to her intellect and personality and quickly reducing her to tears, then successfully asks her out.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed". Ship's Historian Lieutenant Marla McGivers falls in love with the charismatic and forceful former dictator Khan Noonien Singh, even though he mistreats and uses her. Interestingly, he does grow to care for her, especially after she chooses to be exiled with him on a Death World. Her death prior to The Wrath of Khan is one of the reasons for his hatred of Kirk.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak was ruthless, dangerous, a Consummate Liar with a Mysterious Past, his alliances were hard to keep track of, and he wasn't the type to fight fair. He was also Gul Dukat's most hated enemy. Despite all this, Dukat's daughter Ziyal still fell in love with him. Defying all expectations, Garak always treated her gently and respectfully and, while smart in many other ways, clearly did not have a handle on this trope as he never could understand why she was in love with him.
  • Alex and Dean in Wizards of Waverly Place, although, it being a Disney Channel show, his badness is limited to wearing a leather jacket, liking fast cars, and going to class when he feels like it. In fact, Alex is "badder" than him on several levels.
    • Alex is a good gender swapped example of this. All of her Cool Loser Anti-Hero status moves put her closer to the standard male example than the usual Defrosting Ice Queen label, since she hits every (G-rated) High School trick that a boy would have to pull to be this, especially during Season 2.
    • In Alex vs. Alex, we have this:
    Alex: "Dominic is evil?"
    Harper: "Is it weird he's even more attractive now?"
  • Jax and Tara in Sons of Anarchy. Basically the entire male cast benefits from this at some point in the series.
  • Discussed in one episode of CSI: Miami:
    Calleigh: Bad boys aren't so cute up close, are they?
  • The women on The Sopranos have a bad-boy compulsion that's virtually suicidal, especially for Tracee and Adriana.
  • Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother consciously plays with this trope so much.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch parodied the Phil Donahue Show, with all the guests as women with abusive boyfriends. The sketch ends with a nice man in the audience telling them they should find a man who truly appreciates them, but they tell him to sit down because they're more interested in the jerkass behind him who's berating his girlfriend. When he grabs the mic and starts bad-mouthing them, they immediately fall for him, including the lesbian guest, who asks if he has any sisters like himself.
    • During the sketch Phil, lists all the wrongs one woman's boyfriend committed. She still defends him:
    Phil Donahue: Now, your last boyfriend... [reads cards] drunk, totaled your car, with you in it! Which left you in intensive care for over a year and... [Phyllis starts to cry] ...during your painful convalescence he never visited you, he withdrew your life savings, spent the money on other women! Held orgies in your apartment, got you evicted... [lifts his head, stares effortlessly and shakes it in disgust] ...and yet I understand you still live with this man.
    Phyllis Sykes: [Suddenly smiles] Well... you would really have to meet him!
    • There was a joke in one of the news report segments in which Bahrain was cited for women's rights abuses. The joke ended with the reporter saying, "So, look out Bahrain, 'cause the more Bahrain treats women like dirt, the more women will love Bahrain."
  • Mortified: Layla's boyfriends all tend to be bad boys. Leon, who both Brittany and Taylor are crushing on, could also make it this.
  • Cook from Skins is made of this trope, although there are more than a few instances where it's suggested that he deliberately plays up to this image.
    • And Tony from the 1st generation, who is a complete jerkass towards his girlfriend, Michelle. Also, he sleeps with another girl AND tries it on with Maxxie in the episode where they go on a school trip to Russia, yet Michelle still can't stop herself and goes back to him.
  • Degrassi plays this straight time and again, but subverts it when bad goes too far. Sean, Craig, Jay, Spinner, Lucas, Johnny, and Eli have all carried the badboy image at one point. Most of them lose the girl when they are too bad (Sean, Jay, Lucas, Johnny, almost Eli), or the girl was trying to save them in the first place (Craig, Spinner, Johnny).
    • Emma seems to only want bad boys. There's Sean, Peter, Jay, and Spinner.
  • On Yes, Dear, Jimmy advises his eldest son, Dominic, to stop catering to his date's desires, after witnessing the first date, in which Jimmy sees him being treated as less than equal. When Jimmy's wife finds out about this, Jimmy states this trope as his belief, whereas his wife disagrees.
  • On Dark Oracle, this is the cause of Nice Girl Cally's relationship with Smug Snake and ex-Big Bad Omen. Luckily, she's far from blind to his many, many failings, and calls him on them all, eventually leading to Redemption Equals Death. Thoroughly averted by Big Bad Wannabe Vern, whose Goth look, bad attitude, and lack of social ability make him an outcast, completely unable to get a date.
  • Hilariously parodied on Everybody Hates Chris. In the episode "Everybody Hates Bad Boys", nice guy Chris tries to woo his crush, Tasha, by emulating Slava Slav, a misogynistic rapper and obvious Expy. He mistreats and utterly insults nearly ever girl he encounters, and they all show sudden interest in him, and he even manages to get Tasha to go out to a family dinner. All was going well with his "bad boy" plan until he accidentally yells at his mother, and proceeds to regret it immensely. You really have to see it for yourself.
  • Played with in The Monkees episode "The Wild Monkees". The four boys try to adopt "tough" personas in order to impress some female bikers. They immediately become cowards again once the girls' actually tough biker boyfriends enter the picture.
  • Only Fools and Horses:
    • Del Boy manages to convince Rodney that the Girl of the Week likes bad boys, so he dresses like the Fonz and acts like James Dean on their date, only to terrify her to the point of tears when they get chased in the van.
    • Cassandra claims that she doesn't like that Rodney drinks and is violent. She is quickly seen through and smiles when asked if she fancies Rodney.
  • Invoked in Secret Girlfriend by Chad, the current boyfriend of Jessica, the titular character. His Jerkass behavior turns out to be a just an act that he doesn't like keeping up, but thinks he needs to because of this trope. Apparently, it's working, or at least not hurting—he's been Jessica's boyfriend for two years, and may have lasted longer if not for the protagonist's arrival, relegating him to Romantic False Lead status.
  • This is a major story arc in The Office (UK), as well as the first couple seasons of the The Office (US), with Dawn engaged to Lee and Pam engaged to Roy. Subverted in a sense, as while Lee and Roy aren't the sort of guys you'd want to anger, they're so dull that the thrill of the bad boy is completely absent. Tim and Jim meanwhile seem like unassuming guys but love to cause mischief, making them a straighter example.
    • In Pam's case, it's less this trope than her simply believing she doesn't deserve anyone or anything better for herself.
  • In Parks and Recreation, Ann was dating irresponsible, lazy, and dimwitted Andy, despite the fact that Andy frequently and obviously takes advantage of her. When they finally do break up, he then starts drawing the attention of April. Since then, Andy has experienced Characterization Marches On and become more of a cheerful Manchild.
  • The Highwayman in the Young Blades episode "Four Musketeers and a Baby" builds his image around this trope by targeting coaches with women in them, flirting, and giving them scarves as keepsakes. It reaches the point where women write ballads about him and ride around in a carriage, trying to get robbed. It's implied that he gets pardoned in the end, in part because Queen Anne herself fell into this mindset.
  • Noah's Arc: This was Eddie's motivation for cheating on Chance with a more "thuggish" guy.
  • True Blood:
    • Bill and Sookie: Bill is a controlling, manipulative, partially-reformed serial killer who broods a lot and identifies Sookie as his property on more than one occasion. Sookie is instantly more attracted to him than the approximately-equally-good-looking Sam, who treats her with a lot more respect and is a much nicer guy (despite doing creepy things now and then). Then there's Eric, who (as well as being an unreformed serial killer) is a drug-dealing former Nazi who tortures people in his basement. Sookie and the female fanbase seem to be exceedingly attracted to him, especially after his hotness upgrade in seasons two and three.. This trope fits almost every male character on the show except Hoyt and Terry. Jason is a chronic womanizer, Sam sexually harasses the female barstaff and has no compunction about stalking Sookie (in canine form), Lafayette deals drugs and looks down at everybody, and no vampire on the show has ever completely stopped murdering people. Luna lampshades this when she admits to Sam that she "became a cliche" when she fell in love with her ex-husband and baby-daddy Marcus, a biker werewolf.
  • Played with to the point of inversion in Castle; Richard Castle has the public reputation of a bad boy who lives a playboy rock-star life, but it's gradually made clear that this is mostly an act and he's a genuinely good and decent man when you get down to it. Kate Beckett, however, has the appearance of an upright and solid By-the-Book Cop, but is gradually revealed to have wilder Hidden Depths than would not be suspected from the initial appearances, and the more the fallout from her mother's murder is examined, the more a broken and darker character begins to emerge. It's also subverted in that, while it's hinted several times that Beckett may have a bit of a thing for bad boys, she only really begins to seriously warm to Castle when he shows his more mature and decent sides.
    • One episode, "Food To Die For", plays with this. The victim had a reputation for being a bad boy that slept around. He also got his foster brother's girlfriend pregnant. However, she rejected him because he was a bad boy. In her words, if she couldn't trust him as a man, she certainly couldn't trust him as a father. In this case, he was truly in love with her, to the point where he planned to quit his successful career as a chef, and spent two weeks in the cafe near where she worked, trying to get up the nerve to propose to her. Unfortunately, his foster brother found out and killed him.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 both played this straight and averted it. It's played straight with Dylan, the bad boy that several leading ladies pined for over the years (Kelly and Brenda as the most prominent examples). Originally Dylan was even planned to only be the troubled-kid-of-the-week, but the audience took to him so much, that he was brought back as a regular. Averted with Brandon, who had a different girl pining over him nearly every week during the first seasons despite being one of the nicest guys ever...
    • Also in the sequel series Both Naomi and Annie fall for resident bad boy Liam.
  • Community: This is something of a recurring theme with Britta Perry whose past romantic involvements seem to involve a long line of 'bad-boys', weirdoes and damaged goods:
    • In the early seasons of the show, she had something of a Will They or Won't They? vibe with Jeff, an Amoral Attorney and allround Jerkass (albeit one with a deeply hidden heart of gold) culminating in the revelation that they'd been having a Friends with Benefits relationship in season two. They later dropped it, however.
    • In "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy", she has a brief fling with a guy who turns out to be a Balkan war criminal. Subverted, however, in that even for Britta this is going a bit too far.
    • "Competitive Wine Tasting" sees her begin to develop urges towards Troy after he makes up a story about being molested by his uncle to avoid feeling left out in drama class (long story).
    • Deconstructed in "Origins of Vampire Mythology", where Britta—previously established to have a thing for bad boys and messed-up losers—discovers an old boyfriend who works with a carnival is in town and ends up having to be restrained to prevent herself from flinging herself into an ill-advised sexual encounter that she will end up regretting. Over the course of the episode, it's gradually suggested that Britta's urges stem from severe self-esteem issues and that she initiates these relationships as a self-destructive way of validating her own lack of self-worth; when her friends are texting her as her boyfriend to try and throw her off, their increasingly nasty and dismissive text messages serve only to prompt increasingly pathetic and desperate responses from Britta, until a "nice" text message serves to break the spell and cause her to dismiss the boyfriend as a "loser". Unfortunately, she happened to say this in earshot of Troy, who actually sent the message, hurting his feelings and prompting a calling out over how fucked up she and her relations with men both are by Annie.
      • Also deconstructed with the boyfriend, who—when we encounter him—turns out to be a fairly pleasant, laid-back, amiable guy, on the surface at least. It's suggested that this is why people are drawn to him despite the fact that he's apparently a jerk, since his laid-back attitude conceals his inner flaws and makes him a lot more engaging than he would be if he was just an asshole up front, as is common with a lot of depictions in this trope. It's also revealed that he has brain damage which means he is literally incapable of feeling shame, meaning that he also literally cannot help being an asshole whenever he feels like it.
    • Given her oft-seen crush on Jeff, it's fairly safe to say that Annie has tendencies towards this trope as well (although, that said, in the above example she's utterly bewildered by Britta's response to the text messages). She is, however, a lot more perceptive, self-aware and self-critical of it than Britta, acknowledging at several points that she knows that ultimately she and Jeff aren't a very good match and that she's trying to "change" him more because she's frightened of ending up alone and unloved than because of genuine feelings.
    • Annie also shows this towards Abed when he is playing Han Solo during the paintball game. Though she also points out that he was more of a dork for doing it than the rouge that he was portraying.
  • Boy Meets World: Kid-anova Shawn has a troubled home life and something of a "bad boy" image. However, the bad boy aspect of his character became less prevalent as the series went on, and was basically dropped by the time he gets a steady girlfriend in season five. There are also several times when Cory tries to impress girls by acting "dangerous", usually failing at it.
  • I Married A Mobster deconstructs this as the future wife starts off relatively okay (more or less) before being swept off her feet by the bad boy mobster to effectively live the "Push It To The Limit" montage from Scarface (1983)—then the mobster is caught, sent to jail for life (or close to it), leaving his spouse with a mountain of debt, a bad rep, and having to actually ''work'' again--after years of living in a mansion with fast cars, parties, etc.--to support herself and remaining family.
  • On an episode of Cheers, Lilith writes a book called Good Girls, Bad Boys and is invited on a women's talk show. She brings along Sam as an example of a "Bad Boy" and her husband Frasier as a "Good Boy" women should be attracted too. The audience full of women go crazy for Sam and want him to take his shirt off. Lilith at first is clinical as she describes all the dangerous qualities that make Sam desirable to these sensible women but then she gets aroused and lunges at him to take his shirt off herself! Frasier is humiliated by this and goes to great lengths to prove that he can be a bad boy too, starting with taking a pair of scissors and running around the bar yelling "I am running with scissors!"
  • Played with on an episode of A Different World. Lena James (Jada Pinkett Smith) is tempted when her "bad boy" ex-boyfriend (played by Tupac Shakur) visits her on campus and tries to convince her to leave the college and live with him. She ultimately refuses, even after most of her women friends claimed they would have accepted without hesitation. Truth in Television as well: Jada Pinkett Smith revealed that she knew and had a bad boy crush on Tupac before she met and ended up marrying Will Smith.
  • Played for laughs on Married... with Children. Bud Bundy tries to use different bad boy persona's to convince women to have sex with him. His most commonly used persona being Grandmaster B, a rapper born in the Hood. Most of the time, he's convincing enough to lead the women back to his house, only for one of the family members to expose what a square he really is. Ironically, his first steady girlfriend ends up liking him because he's Endearingly Dorky.
    • Also in a Gender-Inversion. Bud becomes a contestant on a dating show and ends up losing to the bad boy, Rodrigo, who plays the spoiler on the show. This was despite promising what a good man he would be to the female guest. Afterwards, many women end up feeling sorry for Bud and beg to date him, including a nerdy good girl who promised Bud the same love and loyalty. What does Bud do in the end? Rejects the nerdy woman for the more slutty looking one behind her.
    • Bud's sister, Kelly meanwhile dates various sleazy bikers, hoods, and ex-cons with nicknames like Mayhem, Pinworm, Salt Water, and Stab Wound.
  • On Once Upon a Time, Belle's curse persona Lacey is drawn to Gold's villainous ways.
  • Arrow
    • Laurel Lance, which is even lampshaded by Tommy in episode thirteen.
      Tommy: We both know that she has a pretty strong track record of being attracted to guys who are dangerous, who break the rules. Show me a more dangerous rule breaker than the Hood.
    • When Thea Queen falls for Roy Harper, the guy who stole her handbag, she goes to Laurel for advice given her own experience with this trope. Laurel's advice is, "Run" but she's not surprised when Thea doesn't. As Roy's relationship with Thea, and his hero worship of The Hood (Thea's brother Oliver), turns Roy away from a life of crime, things don't work out too badly.
    • Felicity Smoak's crush on Oliver probably started this way, though it becomes more romantic.
  • In M*A*S*H, Hawkeye and Trapper are surrounded by nurses who can't stop sleeping with them, even knowing they're complete man-whores and Trapper is married. Subverted as the series went on, partly due to Alan Alda Running the Asylum, and partly due to the nurses just getting fed up with Hawkeye's crap. Inverted with BJ Hunnicutt: a devoted family man invested in staying faithful to his wife, he had several episodes involving comely young women becoming romantically interested in them. He turned (almost) all of them down.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, E20), Dean revels in their fugitive status, declaring that "chicks dig the danger vibe". Later in the episode, his Wishverse girlfriend, Carmen, seems to be this as well, considering that she's a nurse who's living with a guy who's implied to be an alcoholic, works as a mechanic, and is on not-exactly-stellar terms with his lawyer brother.
    • In the episode "Born Under A Bad Sign" (S02, E14), fans loved getting a glimpse of evil Sam when he's possessed by Meg. He shoots Dean in the shoulder and ties up Jo as bait, and the Jo interactions have distinctly creepy and borderline rapey undertones.
    • Rowena might be a centuries old witch but she goes completely googly-eyed when she sees Lucifer in action. On the other hand she might just be attracted to the raw power Lucifer exudes.
  • In Power, Tasha loves James, her husband, because he's a major drug dealer, and his attempts at getting out of the criminal lifestyle turn her off. Meanwhile Holly initially tells Tommy (James' partner) that she won't sleep with him on their first date, but, after witnessing him beat the hell out of a patron in a bar who was flirting with her, very eagerly changes her mind.
  • In Open Heart, it's Dylan Blake and her break-in buddy Teddy. Though she may not be too fond of him after he ditches her and her dying friend.
  • When Eddie is introduced in the second season of House of Anubis, practically all the girls (besides Patricia) find themselves falling for him as soon as they met him, especially after telling his story about how he got kicked out of a lot of schools. However, the girls soon just started treating him like anyone else in the House and let he and Patricia do their thing.
  • Subverted in an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Two war buddies, a geeky, dorky, nice guy and his friend, a Tall, Dark, and Handsome guy who displays all the characteristics of a bad boy, arrive back in America from their tour in Vietnam. They go to the nice guy's house only for his friend to discover that he's married to a beautiful woman. Not understanding how such a woman can be with a guy like his geeky friend, he soon becomes jealous and tries to seduce her away from him. After the wife makes it clear she isn't interested, he kills his geeky friend, but makes it look like an accident. The wife knowing that he was killed by his friend, pretends to fall for the bad boy's charms, only to poison herself seconds before having sex with him, which kills them both.
  • Night and Day plays this straight to the extent that Josh Alexander, the primary love interest of Jane and after her disappearance, Della, appears on the surface to be the archetypal bad boy, all brooding biker and leather jackets. But blackouts and spooky demonic phase notwithstanding, for the most part he's one of the nicest and best-adjusted of the teenage male characters on the show.
  • Madam Secretary:
    • Inverted with the Happily Married Liz and Henry McCord. Henry's a professor of theology with a very strong personal code of ethics, and she's commented that she finds his morals quite a turn-on. It doesn't hurt that he's an ex-marine as well.
      Henry: Who says you have to be a bad boy to get the hot girl?
    • Their eldest daughter Stevie, though... First she starts dating her twenty-years-older boss, then switches to her old friend, the President's son Harrison (who she knows because Liz and President Dalton worked together at the CIA), a recovering heroin addict prone to relapse.
  • The O.C. has Marissa fall for the brooding, troubled Ryan, Also there's also Volchok in season 3. She is aware that he is "bad" by most people's standards, but actively defends him as misunderstood to everyone, until he cheats on her, humiliates her and uses her to steal money.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has Bronwyn Freed who pretty much embodies hybristophilia. She befriends William Lewis while serving as a juror and helps him escape. She does this again in Season 17, with Dr. Yates and Dr. Rudnick. Despite how they ditch her, she still defends them, saying they're nice people!
    • There is also Olivia Benson and her off again, on again relationship with ex SVU cop Cassidy, who is overall a good person, but is filled with bad boy ways and actions, which often get him in trouble throughout the series.
  • Studio C parodies this in "Bad Boy Rap", which is supposed to be a song about how girls prefer troubled boys with tattoos and a motorcycle, until it's hijacked by a pair with a different definition of bad boy:
    We like Scar and Jafar son - Darth Vader, Mr. Hyde and Attila the Hun Uh! When they try to Take Over the World in any way, it's hot like the alien from Independence Day!
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • The relationship between Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Marianna can only be described as this. Vanessa decides that the fact that Fisk is a dangerous sociopath and murderer is actually a plus. If nothing else, it means he will definitely keep her safe. And while it initially seems like she's going to humanize Fisk, his relationship and his desire to protect her from his criminal activities lead him to committing even more violent acts which she encourages. And Vanessa is no saint either, deciding after Fisk foils Nelson & Murdock's attempt to put Ray Nadeem in front of a grand jury that Nadeem needs to be killed, as opposed to Fisk's plan to simply discredit him.
    • It's lightly implied that Karen Page has this crossed with Rescue Romance going for Daredevil himself, even before she begins dating Matt Murdock in season 2.
    • While Karen does seem to connect to Frank Castle, it's more that she sees him as a representation of her own sins (killing James Wesley, and whatever happened with her brother) more than anything else.
    • When Karen lived in Fagan Corners, she was shagging homely, trailer-dwelling drug dealer Todd Neiman, selling drugs with him while getting high at the same time. Her actions ultimately get her little brother killed in a car accident and her father all but disowns her as a result.
  • In Wynonna Earp, this is what attracts Wynonna to Doc Holliday, yes, that Doc Holliday. By season 2, her terrible taste in men is being openly mocked by everybody around her, such as when one of her old classmates may be going around murdering his fellow classmates and she tells her sister Waverly:
    Waverly: Oh my God, you're gonna ask him to marry you.
  • Cobra Kai: Moon probably wouldn’t have spat on Eli if he was on fire. After Eli turns into Hawk... is a different story. However, it's ultimately subverted in season two as it turns out she really only liked his look and confidence, not him acting like a jerk. After he attacks his friend Demetri for petty reasons, she dumps him.
    • Sam also ditches her boyfriend or rather boyfriends, Kyler, Robby and Miguel all get the cold shoulder in sequence once his Jerkass tendencies become too pronounced.
  • Played with, but ultimately subverted on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. At first glance, the dynamic between goody-two-shoes Amy and leather-jacket wearing would-be Cowboy Cop Jake would appear to have this trope going in spades, but a closer glance quickly makes it clear that while Jake might desperately want to be a bad boy, he's actually just a dorky nice guy putting on bad boy trappings. Amy, for her part, never really shows any kind of attraction to bad boys (all her previous love interests have somehow managed to be even bigger nerds than she is), thus making it pretty clear that what really draws her to Jake is the fact that he's a dorky nice guy, not his swaggering and preening.
  • A French Village: Hortense finds Müller quite attractive and has an intermittent relationship with him. She even later explains his appeal as being how cold and selfish he is. Even the fact he tortured Hortense at one point to coerce her husband into giving up information or related how he oversaw mass murders in the Soviet Union doesn't change her, which pushes this to it's greatest extreme.


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