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Going once, going twice
Every man here has a price
Over where? Over there!
Sold to not a single lady in here

"The Bidding", Tally Hall
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This is a common trope in Live-Action TV comedies: A bunch of male characters get together for a "date auction," usually for charity, and the plot is usually written from the results. Expect these to happen:

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Note there are rarely any bachelorette auctions. However, there are occasional "basket auctions." In these, a woman will bring a basket to auction, and men will bid on the basket so they may have lunch with the ladies.

Note that those auctions are public and legal, and people take part on their own free will. If criminals hold a secret auction to sell captive Sex Slaves to the highest bidder, see Human Traffickers instead.

For cases in which a famous person is "won" rather than "bought" and the winner's intentions are not necessarily romantic, see "Meet the Celebrity" Contest.

A Sub-Trope of Auction.


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Examples:

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     Comic Books 
  • In the Action Comics backup strip Jimmy Olsen's Big Week (later released as a one-shot), Lois pushes Jimmy into signing up for one of these. Jimmy's narration laments that his life has become a series of sitcom cliches. And then his archenemy, hotshot young Lexcorp exec Sebastian Mallory, is bought by his ex, Chloe Sullivan. Just when he thinks the whole thing is a disaster, a woman offers a million dollars for him. Shame it's Mr Mxyzptlk's daughter.
  • Bec And Kawl had Kawl put up in one of these with no interest until a mysterious woman makes a large bid. It turns out that her attractive appearance is actually a Glamour and she is actually Margaret Thatcher who is using Kawl as part of her plot to privatise Hell.
  • In Harley Quinn's Valentine's Day Special #1, Bruce Wayne is New York for a charity bachelor auction, and Harley Decides she has to be the one to win a dream date with The DCU's most eligible bachelor. Hilarity Ensues.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The X-Men: Evolution fanfic The Basket Auction uses, well, the "Basket Auction" variant. The only examples that are shown are: Lance winning Kitty, Kurt winning Amanda, the new recruits pooling their money to win Amara, Roberto winning Tabitha, and Gambit winning Rogue.
  • The Love Live! fanfic Buy Your Love has the girls of µ (minus Umi, Eli, and Maki, who decline and do an autograph section instead) participate in a dating auction to raise money for charity and boost the group's popularity. Notably from the event, Maki impulsively bids and wins Nico, Maki and Umi have to keep Eli from bidding for Nozomi to avoid further scandal, and Honoka gets won by Tsubasa.
  • In the Emergency! fic "Catwalk'', Dixie buys a date with Johnny. Possibly NSFW content.
  • In the A Certain Magical Index fic A Certain Date Auction, Academy City sets up an event where anybody can bid to get a date with anybody else. The girls in Touma's Unwanted Harem pool their resources to buy him for 1,760,000 yen. In the end, the series Big Bad, Aleister Crowley, gloats because all the money from all the auctions went to him; that was the whole point of this.
  • A Miraculous Ladybug fic, For the Love of a Picnic Basket has the class hosting a picnic basket charity auction, with a lot of students aiming for Marinette's basket due to the delicious treats it will hold. Adrien uses his powers as Chat Noir to rush to the school and win the bid for Marinette... and doing that while he is still Chat.
  • My Night With You, a Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic, did this. Here, the rich old lady was instead a hideously obese hippopotamus woman. Also uses the "purchased by love interest" point.
  • In the Dragon Ball fanfiction Sold!, the entire male main cast enter a Bachelor Auction. Half of them were forced to by their wives and/or mothers (since they'll receive a cut of the money), while the other half entered out of their own free will. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In A Song of Grumbling & Cotton Candy, Jem is involved in a charity auction where the biggest bidders win a date with her. A drunk Pizzazz crashes the auction and wins by bidding $10,500.
  • A Fanfic for Stargate SG-1 involved this trope, as a fundraiser for Pentagon 9/11 victims and their families. Someone who thinks they're hot stuff- check. Someone bid on by rich, horny old lady - check. Though it's obvious the author is a big Daniel fan.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In a gender inversion, Batman and Robin (in the movie of the same name) are at an auction and try to outbid each other for Poison Ivy, with Batman winning and paying for it with his Bat credit card. note 
  • Coal Miner's Daughter has the "basket auction" angle as part of a southern courting thing. Her eventual-husband Mooney bets on Loretta's homemade pie. This prompts this exchange:
    Mooney: *Takes a bite and very very carefully chews and swallows it.*
    Loretta: *expectantly* Well?
    Mooney: How much salt y'supposed ta put in this kinda pie?
    Loretta: Silly, ya don' put salt in pie...
    cue look of horror on Loretta's face
  • In Coyote Ugly when Violet needs to pay off a $250 fine caused by a mistake she'd made, she auctions off her own love interest to the bar's female patrons. At first shocked and embarrassed, he goes along with it anyway (easily getting her the required amount due to his looks and charm), and later forgives her after all is said and done. Also subverted at the end of the movie when she auctions off her father. Unlike the earlier auction, this was simply a pretense for hooking him up with the cute redhead who was there with him; the two had already shown interest in each other, but Violet's dad had been a bit anxious about actually asking the woman out.
  • Groundhog Day features one in the last iteration of the loop. Phil Connors, who by this point has developed into someone who stops the same kid from breaking his leg every day, is bought for $339.88 (the entire contents of his Love Interest's wallet). His cameraman co-worker is bought for 25 cents.
  • Road Trip: There's a bachelorette auction at a party, where the Veronica is to be auctioned off, and knows that a creepy guy will try to get her. She begs the protagonist to bid on her, and the auction leader then ignores any further bids. Note that this is unusual in that the auctioneer stresses that they are not buying the girl, but buying her company.
  • White Chicks had a Bachelorette auction where one of the Wayans Bros (Marlon). dressed like a socialite was being bid on. The other brother (Shawn) then went through the crowd to ensure that the bid wasn't won by Terry Crews' character who had been pestering Marlon throughout the film, making sexual advances, etc.

    Literature 
  • The Cat Who... Series: In book #18 (The Cat Who Said Cheese), as part of the Explo, a celebrity auction is held with five men and five women, each accompanied by a special other event for the winning bidder. Qwill is talked into being one of the men (along with Pickax Mayor Gregory Blythe, John Bushland, Derek Cuttlebrink, and Wetherby Goode), and is won by Sarah Plensdorf — one of his coworkers at local newspaper The Moose County Something. He finds himself not only enjoying the evening but getting material for his column out of it.
  • Flipped: Bryce is put through this and is sold to the most popular girl in school, Shelly. He is not happy about this however because he wanted to be bid on by Juli who bid on the boy before him.
    • He also lampshades the Double Standard of the trope, noting that if they were auctioning off the girls, no one would think it was cute.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development plays with this a bit, using bachelorette auctions. Instead of the usual romantic setup, there is a Heartwarming Moment, when no one bids on Lindsay and so her brother that she has been fighting with bids on her instead. Also, Buster was told to bid on his mother, but messes up and bids a huge amount on Liza Minnelli's character (who has the same name), continuing the Running Gag where she thinks Buster is interested in her.
    • Lucille twice gave one of her sons $10000 to bid on her, only for them to bid on someone else.
  • Done in an episode of California Dreams, and only mildly subverted when the organizer, a girl named Tiffany is convinced to stand for auction because her best friend hasn't been able to buy anyone. Unfortunately for her, by the time she agrees all the other bidders have left and she's bought for virtually nothing.
    • That episode also has a guy accidentally buy his male friend. Naturally the friend isn't very pleased.
  • Richard Castle becomes the subject of an impromptu one of these in Castle.
  • In Charmed, the second part episode "Oh My Goddess". Phoebe arrives at the auction after recently becoming the Love Goddess (It Makes Sense in Context). All guys start to do auctions on her, forgetting they're the ones that should be bought. Finally she takes all of them back home, and never so much money was won.
  • Cheers: In "Bidding on the Boys" Frasier angers his fiancee Lilith by asking her to sign a pre-nuptial agreement and she bids on Sam to get revenge. (Woody participated too, and the winning bid for him went to a rather eccentric, rich woman who was chain-smoking through the whole scene and the next one. Unfortunately, the show episode focuses on Woody there.)
  • Dave's World: A reluctant Shel is hot property among hot bidders (thanks to tips from Kenny), despite the card with his personal information on it being switched with a loser.
  • Suzanne enters Anthony for a charity bachelor auction on Designing Women. As he's a contractor she dresses him up in a tank top and tiny jean shorts. Suzanne wins him when she accidentally bids $5,000.
  • In Doogie Howser, M.D. Doogie's girlfriend Wanda wins Doogie by outbidding a bulimic model.
  • Family Matters: Eddie, Stefan, and Steve all go up on the block, Eddie's girlfriend and Mona get into a catfight over him, Stefan's looks and charm nearly start a riot, and Laura buys Steve out of pity although it turns out kissing Steve wasn't as bad as she thought...
  • Frasier: While Daphne unintentionally buys Bulldog after only bidding out of pity, Frasier is purchased by a sexy woman (however her bratty daughter destroys any chance of romance.)
  • Full House: Danny, Jesse, and Joey enter an auction as a favor to Becky. A jealous Becky ends up buying Jesse for a ridiculous amount though it's pointed out she could've had him for free. An old lady buys Joey for her beautiful granddaughter and Danny for herself.
  • The Golden Girls did a bachelorette auction, in which Dorothy ended up with ex-husband Stan. The previous year Dorothy was won by a balloon salesman who Dorothy speculates had never had a date who wasn't inflatable before.
  • The houses on Greek held a bachelor auction as part of an inter-fraternity competition.
  • One episode of Green Wing revolves around an upcoming charity slave auction featuring members of the hospital's staff. Most of the major characters use it as an opportunity to get close to their love interests, and they almost all fail.
    • And check out Sue White's reaction to the news that Mac has withdrawn from the auction.
    • Boyce buys Statham for twenty pence. Originally it was fifty, then he lowered his price.
  • Home Improvement did a variation where rather than bid on dates with the men, people would bid to get the celebrity handymen to come over and do home repairs. Unfortunately for Tim, Al got his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Bob Vila to participate, causing his potential bids to plummet (if his general tendency to Doom It Yourself hadn't done so already). Bob went for hundreds of dollars, while Tim's situation got so dire that his wife Jill (who was running the thing as the auctioneer) had to step in and make a bid herself because nobody else would.
  • The Leverage team infiltrate one when a (non-corrupt) CEO comes to them to help find his missing wife whom he met at another one run by the same people. This leads to them realizing the auctions are cover for a grifter ring of gold diggers. Including the CEO's wife whose disappearance was due to her having a Heel–Face Turn and wanting to keep him safe from her boss.
  • In the Lois & Clark episode "I'm Looking Through You" a comedy scene near the beginning includes Cat Grant and Lois bidding on Superman, before a third woman bids $5,000. This is five times what Lex was bought for, much to his resentment.
  • Midnight Caller: Jack participates in a charity auction in "Class of 1980." To his embarrassment, Devon yells, "Shake your moneymaker! Strut your stuff!" Naturally, the woman who buys him is a murder suspect.
  • Monk: In "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan", the police department is holding a bachelor auction for charity. Monk, not liking this event, gives money to Natalie so that she can "buy" him and free him from going on a date. Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher also participate. Randy gets a woman whose nine-year-old son apparently wants to be a cop but turns out to have reconsidered later on. Stottlemeyer ends up with his girlfriend Linda Fusco, which turns out to be opportune for both of them because their previous dates had always been canceled by Stottlemeyer's work getting in the way. Natalie tries to bid for Monk but is outbid by Monk's obsessed fan Marci Maven, who wants to hire Monk to clear her recently deceased dog of murder.
  • The Nanny did this with both Fran and Niles on the auction block to work as a nanny and butler respectively. Fran is bought by the biggest donor's son. Niles on the other hand is bought by C.C. for less than $40.
  • In a June 2012 episode of Neighbours, a charity bachelor auction is held at Lassiter's. Doctors Karl Kennedy (mature) and Rhys Lawson (young and fit) have a private competition as to who will get the higher bid. Karl gets a decent bid of $50 or so, but then Rhys persuades his girlfriend to bid high on him so he wins - she doesn't have any money to spare though, so he promises to pay her back. Essentially buying himself at auction to go out with his girlfriend.
  • The New Adventures of Robin Hood: "The Auction". At the Third Annual Widows and Orphans Charity Fair, Friar Tuck holds a charity auction, in which one of the lots is a date with Robin. When Robin learns that his father may still be alive, he goes off in search of his father, but it turns out to be an impersonation by a sorceress, and he has to battle her and another sorcerer before he can return to the auction. Meanwhile Friar Tuck has to hold off the women of the village, who are becoming impatient with Robin's absence.
  • In a NewsRadio episode the billionaire boss pays a female employee to come to his auction and bid, just so he won't go for a few dollars. She brings along a male employee as her "butler", but before the bidding starts she runs off with another pretend-butler and the male employee has to bid.
  • One Tree Hill had an auction complete with a guy in a bird suit, shirtlessness, and an awkward robot dance.
    • And Brooke bought Mouth, who wasn't one of the bachelors, after arriving late.
  • Used on The Red Green Show, where the only bachelor bid on is Harold (the most severe nerd in Canada), who is bought by an attractive woman. Dalton ended up taking both Winston and Mike for $10 to help him do some painting.
  • Saved by the Bell did a date auction, to which Jessie was morally opposed. As a result, she threatened anyone who would bid on Slater, so Kelly ended up with Slater, and Jessie ended up with Screech.
  • Seinfeld: Elaine hosts the event while Kramer struts his stuff.
    Elaine: ...He's...got a high school diploma...
    Kramer: [whispering] Equivalency!
  • In Spin City Michael J. Fox's character enters one and is confident but in another subplot also agrees to wear a fat suit which means nobody bids for him.
  • The Steve Harvey Show: Regina hosts the event for her sorority. Steve initially isn't bid on at all but at the last minute, a very attractive young woman bids $2000 for him. Ced (who really didn't want to participate at first) is involved in a bidding war between his girlfriend Lovita and another woman. Later in the episode, it is revealed that the young woman who bid on Steve was actually bidding on behalf of her boss, an older woman who is using Steve to make her husband jealous because he's been ignoring her. In Ced's case, the other woman beats out Lovita. Ced is excited to go out with her but Lovita demands that she goes on the date too. When Nikki (the other woman) comes to the apartment for the date, she and Lovita become friends and leaves Ced out in the cold.
  • In the episode "A Few Good Men" of The Vampire Diaries, although it's actually a raffle.
  • In an episode of White Collar Neal, Peter, and Jones go undercover as wealthy bachelors at a charity auction to investigate a possible Black Widow murderess. Neal expects his looks and charm will carry the day but it's down-to-Earth Peter who scores the suspect (and a higher price than Neal).
  • Will & Grace: Will hosts an auction as part of a charity fair and gets Jack to be one of the bachelors. Despite the low starting bid nobody is willing to bid. As Jack tries to leave the stage in shame, Will pretends that multiple people are actually bidding on him. Will ends up paying the $1,500 price himself, saving his friend from being embarrassed at not being bought.

    Music 
  • Tally Hall's "The Bidding" is set in an auction house, with various men giving their reasons why they should be bought. For instance, one appears to be a homeless alcoholic, while another has "dated every woman in the atmosphere". Over the chorus, the auctioneer gets increasingly desperate ("won't these gentlemen suffice?"), to the point he auctions off each man four times.
    So many ladies are wanting for mates
    And the prospects are good, but the date's never great
    Over here, over there, over where? Anywhere
    They're too busy with winning the bidding to care
    And he's sold!

    Theater 
  • The plot of Oklahoma! revolves around a basket auction and who will be accompanying (and bidding on) who. Jud, Laurey's Stalker with a Crush, has saved his paycheck for months so he can buy her basket, but Curly saves her by selling all his worldly possessions to the crowd.
  • In Paint Your Wagon, a Mormon comes to California with two wives and is forced to give up one of them. Elizabeth, the less favored wife, offers herself up for auction. Ben places the winning bid and marries her.
  • In Patience, Bunthorne believes he won't be accepted by the woman he really loves, so he decides instead to marry the winner of a raffle.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Devil's Panties, comic artist Jennie Breeden does at least two weeks' worth of strips a year about "Geek Auctions" she has attended. With special emphasis placed on any strippers or Ho Yay encountered.
  • There was an Octopus Pie arc where Marek entered a bachelor auction to raise some money and gave Hanna some money to make sure she got him. She was outbid before she even finished. He ended up spending the date talking about Hanna to the winner.
  • In webcomic Too Much Information (2005), Ace gets dragged into a Bachelor Auction and pretty much gets bid on by every woman with a pulse, including a supermodel and a millionairess. And one without a pulse - the winning bidder is a female vampire.

    Web Original 
  • The French meeting site AdopteUnMec ("Adopt A Guy/Boyfriend") advertises itself as a boyfriend-shopping store (and its logo is a man dropping into a woman's shopping cart), such as having "sales" on gingers or bearded men. Despite the premise of women taking charge of hunting for companions, it's been criticized for encouraging the double standard of women as victims of consumerism and treating men like objects.
  • In the 2010 Yule Ball for The Gungan Council, many men were auctioned off for laughs.

    Western Animation 
  • In 6teen, there was Valentine's Day special where Jonesy holds an auction for a date and the highest bidder is almost a male cowboy.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: In one episode, Trixie and Spud, who share the title of Student Council President, held a bachelor auction for charity on behalf of hungry puppies and kids who get sick from playing video games in the car (there was no cause both of them would agree on). The cheerleaders joined up to buy Brad; Fred ended up being bought by his mother; Jake anonymously loaned Danika five dollars so she could outbid nerdy girl Vicki; and Trixie unwittingly bought Spud. Trixie was so upset at Jake for being superficial she spent a good deal of the episode trying to push Vicki towards Jake, only to learn Vicki was a siren.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Cat and the Claw," Bruce Wayne participates in a bachelor auction and while there is some competition for him, the auction is won by Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Ironically, Selina is only interested in making a showy donation to charity and not (at first) in Bruce; she agrees to go through with the date only after he turns on the charm.
  • The Emperor's New School does this in an episode. Of course Kuzco is one of the bachelors and no one wants him. Only Yata bids on him out of sympathy... using Kuzco's credit card of course, since he told her to do it.
  • Happens in The Looney Tunes Show in the episode "Eligible Bachelors" when Bugs and Daffy participate in a charity bachelor auction to raise money for literacy. Bugs gets bought by Lola, Daffy gets bought by Granny. They both have a wonderful time with their dates, anyway, as Bugs and Lola are Ship Teased and Daffy gets to hear Granny's stories of her past as a spy in World War II.
  • An episode of The Raccoons used a Bachelor Auction as a Framing Device for a Clip Show for the backstory of the three main Bachelors involved; Bert Raccoon (bought by a little girl for a picnic), Cedric Sneer (bought by his girlfriend) and Cyril Sneer (bought by the reporter he was trying to avoid).
  • Parodied on The Simpsons episode "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", where a charity auction to buy the fire department a new engine flops because all the bachelors sans Apu are creepy and/or unattractivenote . Before Apu steps up, Lisa wonders if there are any good bachelors in Springfield, and the "camera" pans over to show the firemen, all handsome hunks.
    Fireman: Aww, we're never gonna get that fire engine.
    • Apu, meanwhile, turns out to be so attractive (he owns his own business and enjoys interior decorating) that four women fight over him, then pool their money so that they can all go out with him.
      Krusty: SOLD! To the five desperate chicks! (for $700)
  • One El Tigre episode has this as an excuse for the Rivera men to get out of the house so their pets could have their Day In The Lime Light.

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