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Bad Date

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Everyone knows dating is fraught with tension. As if the usual stress of trying to impress someone special weren't enough, sometimes things go badly. Really badly. That's what happens when you have a Bad Date, which can be played for either comedy or drama.

The Bad Date has long been a staple of the Romantic Comedy. Common elements of the comically bad date include social gaffes, allergic reactions or intolerance to certain foods, tactless comments, interfering friends, poor wardrobe decisions, or any combination of the above. The Rom Com bad date tends to come in two types. The first type is a date suffered by the protagonist, which serves as a trial that the protagonist has to endure to secure his or her desired Love Interest. The second type is a way of weeding out Romantic False Leads or otherwise demonstrating that a couple is not a good match. Either type of date can result from sabotage by another interested party who wants the date to fail.


The dramatic Bad Date is much the same thing, but not played for laughs. The couple may have a fight, with one of them storming out. Or one of them could just be obnoxious and the other one waits patiently for it to be over. Or, as things used to be called, it could end in a "bad date," which once upon a time was code for Date Rape.

Any Bad Date could be played for laughs, for drama, or for both.

Not to be confused with the bad (i.e. poisoned) date that Indiana Jones almost ate.

If the bad date is the result of an online dating service, see Dating Service Disaster. If the bad date is just one in a series of bad dates suffered by the protagonist, it's probably part of a Terrible Interviewees Montage. If the character is trying to date two people at the same time, see Two-Timer Date. Date Peepers is a specific kind of interference that may result in a bad date. See Blind Date, which can also overlap with this trope. If one party intended the date to go bad on purpose, it might be a Prank Date.



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Comedic Examples:

  • In the late-manga "Lenses of Invincibility" arc of Ranma ½, the punchline of the story is that Mousse finally gets Shampoo to agree to take him on a date by impressing her with a display of moral fortitude... and then completely squanders this chance by taking her to "The World's Most Tasteless Wax Figure Megashow", a display of gruesome horror-themed waxworks, hoping that she'll be so frightened she'll hug him for support. He completely forgot that Shampoo is a Chinese Amazon; she just finds the waxworks tasteless and disgusting, and so she beats Mousse up for taking her there.

    Comic Strips 
  • This happens fairly often to Jon in Garfield, until a storyline of comics from 2006 allowed him and Liz to become an Official Couple.

    Fan Works 
  • The entirety of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic, is built around one of these. Take serious social awkwardness, add very bad advice and minor intoxication, and stir.
  • In The First Of Many, Princess Twilight Sparkle is terrified that her first date ever might go like this. Being the Cool Big Bro he is, Shining Armor calms her down by telling his sister the story of his encounter with this trope, which went so horribly wrong that it warped back to being wonderful again.
  • Twilight gets one in the Hard Reset (Eakin) series story A Stitch In Time when she accepts a blind date as petty retaliation after having a row with her current girlfriend, Azalea. The date, Algae Bloom, takes her to a shady bar, repeatedly tries to get her drunk, insults Twilight's intelligence, insults Twilight's current girlfriend, and generally acts like a date rapist. Finally, Twilight has enough, gives her a solid "The Reason You Suck" Speech, and walks out to reconnect with Azalea. She also informs Cloudkicker (who is promiscuous but has solid dating ethics) about the ordeal and asks her to spread the word so Algae Bloom won't prey on anypony else.
  • This is something of a Running Gag with Tucker in The Many Dates of Danny Fenton, where each of his dates goes awry due to his misleading dating profile. His friend Danny has been much more successful in this endeavor, but he isn't immune to it.
  • In Opalescent, Opal and Otto go on their first date, which the latter dubs "Operation Bring-Fun-to-Opal". They head to Missouri and go to Harvey's Diner, where things get awkward fast and they fail to find the appeal in restaurant dates that grown-ups go on. The date does get better by the time they visit the Silver Dollar City amusement park, however.

    Films — Animation 
  • Boogie: The date between Boogie and his ex, Sonya. After Sonya repeatedly asked for a light to smoke, a pissed off Boogie hurls his lighter into her eye, giving her a black eye in the process. As a pissed-off Sonya leaves, Boogie then blows up Sonya's car with her on it. Yes, the main character is an asshole.
  • Monsters, Inc. has the bad date between Celia and Mike. It's played for laughs and implied that it's a blip in an otherwise strong relationship.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Look Who's Talking, James sabotages Molly's date with the fellow accountant, telling him not to pay for dinner, open the door for her, etc. Molly's pretty unhappy with both the date and (when she learns of it) James' interference.
  • In Along Came Polly, Reuben's date with Polly is ruined because the restaurant she chose triggered his IBS.
  • This is pretty much the whole premise of the film Mystery Date (1991). The main character borrows his brother's car for his date and finds a dead body in the trunk.
  • Sandy is set up on a Blind Date that turns out to be a disaster in The Rebound.
  • In Something New, Kenya and Brian meet on a Blind Date that goes horribly when she realises he is white.
  • In Problem Child 2, Junior has a bit of a problem adjusting to his dad trying to get him a new mom, and as a result sabotages two of his dates. This sets up the Cassandra Truth situation later in the movie where Junior is trying to get his dad not to marry Lawanda Dumore, a child-hating Rich Bitch who has it in for him.
  • The movie Blind Date is all about Bruce Willis being set up with a woman who shouldn't have alcohol... and yet he lets her drink.

  • The aptly-named anthology Dates From Hell by Katherine Salmon is a collection of these. Supposed to be comedic, but sometimes they cross the line: it opens with a (fictional) story in which the protagonist steps on the neck of her boyfriend's mother's dog, snapping it.
  • In the Fairy Oak series, Cicero and Dahlia's first date consisted on her getting soaked by the stormy sea while he explained how waves are formed. Then, when he tried to kiss her, she freaked out and accidentally turned him into a seagull.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks often suffered from variations on the trope in her relationship with Mr. Boynton. In part, this was mostly because Mr. Boynton was Adorkable and Oblivious to Love - his favorite place to take Miss Brooks was the zoo. they finally end up marrying at the end of The Movie Grand Finale. Some notable bad dates follow:
    • In the radio episode "The Frog", Miss Brooks tries to relocate her next date by getting a pet female frog . . . and going on a double-date with Mr. Boynton and his pet frog Macdougall. Hilarity Ensues when Mr. Boynton also brings over a tomcat to date landlady Mrs. Davis' cat Minerva.
    • Another radio episode, "Valentine's Day Date", sees Miss Brooks conspire to get Mr. Boynton to take her to a restaurant. "Turk's Turkey Heaven".
    • A television episode "Madame Brooks du Barry" has Brooks and Boynton initially having a good date at the country club. Mr. Boynton, borrowing Teacher's Pet Walter Denton's car, runs out of gas on a lonely country road (likely due to Denton's scheming). Mr. Boynton takes this as prompting to take a nap until morning. Brooks and Boynton finally get gasoline from the milkman in the morning.
  • Love Connection: A lot of the entertainment value on this video matchmaking series (that was sort of a Game Show) wasn't always the recaps of good dates where the couple stays together... but the revisiting of dates that were utter disasters, for countless reasons. Sometimes the guy (or gal) was a class-A jerk or had no social graces, while other times it was simply that the two had no compatibility or chemistry, but either way the end result of the occurrences of this trope was the same: the end of the relationships.
  • Family Matters: The Season 1 episode "The Big Fix," which depicts Laura and Urkel's first date, is nothing short of a comical disaster, and it only gets worse as the nerd tries his darndest to impress Laura and make it a perfect date. From the bad music he dedicates to her to gobbling up frogs legs in front of her to talking about his medical maladies to being a complete klutz — he trips a waiter, setting into motion a series of domino-effect accidents that ruin others' evenings out — to just being himself ... and (even better) this was what was supposed to be (according to Laura) a "non-date"! In short, this was one "non-date" Laura wanted to forget ... but she and everyone else would simply laugh about this "non-date" years later as, by the end of the series, she and Urkel were engaged to marry.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Ted often goes on dates that go badly. Barney is the quintessential Bad Date.
  • Most of the entertainment value of Millionaire Matchmaker comes from this trope.
  • On Donna and Eric's first date in That '70s Show, Donna orders an iced tea and is mistakenly served a Long Island iced tea. Not only is the date spent trying to keep Donna from making an idiot of herself, but Hyde later shows up to profess his feelings for Donna.
  • There's a one-off episode of Rik Mayall Presents in which Mayall's character manages to give his blind-date the impression that he's a serial rapist and killer, and her panic escalates to the point where she locks him in her burning flat.
  • On the Reality TV show Blind Date, dates that went particularly badly were featured as "Dates From Hell".
  • Ryan plans a romantic date on Oddities. Dinner and then a meeting with a bone artist and his flesh eating beetles. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Averted in "For The Cause". The entire B-plot of the episode consists of a build-up that looks like it's going to be a disaster. Shortly after Ziyal first arrives on the station, she and resident spymaster Garak take notice of each other and she ends up asking him out on a date. Bashir points out she's the daughter of Garak's Arch-Enemy, Dukat. Kira threatens Garak's life if he does anything to hurt her. Garak himself is convinced that Ziyal invited him out to kill him on her father's behalf. Quark makes things worse by making Garak believe Kira's in on the plot as well. Cue the date: Garak takes a gun to the date, Ziyal gives him "The Reason You Suck" Speech.... which clears the air, allowing them to have a good time and get on well with each other.
    • Played straight in the "Life Support" B-plot. Jake is overjoyed when the girl of his dreams asks him out on a date. Nog invites himself along and even convinces Jake to convince his date to bring a date along for Nog. Nog trying to treat his date as if she's a Ferengi female. Jake's attempt to keep the peace makes his date think he's siding with Nog. Not only is the date a disaster but it almost ruins Jake and Nog's friendship as well... and it turns out Nog was actually holding back on his behaviour out of consideration for the fact his date wasn't Ferengi; he didn't insist she engage in the full range of activities a Ferengi female would be expected to perform (such as softening his food by chewing it, he thought merely insisting she cut his food for him was a huge compromise).
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Someone To Watch Over Me", Raised by Orcs Ice Queen Seven of Nine decides to try romantic interactions, but her first date leaves a lot to be desired. She and the hapless Lt. Chapman are both nervous, leading to a string of dinnertime disasters — Seven splitting a lobster with such ferocity that she splats Chapman in the face with it, and ballroom dancing with enough fervor to break his arm.
  • JAG: Bud shows up too late at his date with Harriet in "Washington Holiday" because his car had a flat tire.
  • On New Girl, Jess asks Nick to give her number to the cute guy she met at his bar. She meant Andy. She ended up with Bear Claw... Andy's chubby, incredibly awkward, doofy co-worker who can't wait to see her meatbar (Damn you, autocorrect).
  • The first season of Scrubs had Dr. Cox have unrequited romantic feelings for Carla. A later episode has both Dr. Cox and Carla, separately, talk about the worst date they have ever had. Turk overhears both of them talking and is horrified to learn that they are talking a date they went on with each other years before.
  • The Wild House has Natalie's first date begin disastrously when her brother and his friend, who are having a water gun fight in the hallway, spray her and ruin her outfit and makeup.
  • Happened several times in Friends:
    • In "The One with the Blind Dates," Joey and Phoebe try to trick Ross and Rachel to get back together again, by setting them up bad blind dates. Phoebe set up Rachel with the biggest recent loser she remembers dating, while Joey sets up Ross with a woman he found incredibly boring. However, when Phoebe said that Ross also enjoys similar things, Joey lies to the woman, and Ross gets stood up. It doesn't work, and Ross and Rachel figure out what the other two were up to.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Played for Laughs. Hilda goes on a date with a man named Randy, but she finds it unsatisfactory due to his inattentiveness. When she gets home that night she prepares a spell to make him a better listener. The next morning when Randy wakes up he sees to his horror that he now has ears all over his head.
  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law had Jen Walters only getting one match through the dating app. The guy is a complete weirdo who is paying more attention to his cellphone as Jen talks, even when decides to mention being capable of Hulking Out.

  • The music video for the One Direction song "Night Changes" shows an unseen person (through First-Person Perspective) going on dates with all the members of the band. While they start sweet, all of them turn into this — from injuries to motion sickness to getting arrested...

  • In all of Jonathan Rand's Check Please short plays, most of the comedy is derived from the hilariously terrible blind dates that the two leads, named in the scripts as Guy and Girl, go on before Guy proposes to Girl at the end of Check Please, Take 3.

    Video Games 
  • Afterlife (1996): The "Dates from Hell" Lust punishment promises the very worst of these Hell can line up. The description promises that any "dates from Hell" you think you've had are a blissful honeymoon with your one true love in comparison with what the actual underworld can cook up for ya.
  • In Love & Pies, there are several ways a date can go wrong, such as telling a harsh truth, failing to tell a convincing lie, or failing a minigame. Doing so will earn you a strike, and getting three will cause the candidate to dump your client early. Additionally, if you fail to find a suitable match for your client three times, they'll walk out on you and look for another dating agency.

    Web Animation 
  • The "Trouble Date" episode of Dick Figures is about Blue's date going terribly wrong, thanks to interference from Red.
  • Invoked in Hades' Misguidance. Due to Chrom and Palutena's overprotectiveness of Lucina and Pit respectively, they purposely make their date go sour. Hades and Viridi also help for shits and giggles.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Moist has one in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
    Dr. Horrible: Hey, didn't you ah... didn't you go on a date last night? Conflict Diamond told me you were doubling with Bait and Switch.
    Moist: Yeah...
    Dr. Horrible: Yeah?
    Moist: It was alright... I kinda thought I was supposed to end up with Bait, but...
    Dr. Horrible: I hear ya.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a sketch called "Dating Solutions". They also have "Date Wars," which is a bad date summarized in an actiony death-ray battle.
  • Statistical Fact: Early signs of a bad date occur when this couple encounters a sidewalk loogie.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "The Trouble With Doubles", Bob and Linda go on a double date with some new friends, but Nicholas and Ruth-Anne prove to be insufferable, dragging Nick's poorly-trained "emotional support" dog along to dinner, insisting on communal dining, and dragging Bob and Linda into a crappy escape room venue. Things get awkward when Linda accidentally texts Ruth-Anne when complaining about her date to the kids, and then the couples get stuck in their room with a live rat and have to escape on their own when the attendant falls asleep on the job.
  • Garfield and Friends: Carrying on the storyline from the comic strips, Jon and his luck keeping women past the first date, thanks to his overenthusiastic or clueless personality. At times — especially if he'd show up to his date's home wearing a buffoonish costume or ridiculously loud suit — he was lucky if the "bad date" lasted even one nano-second! (Made worse when Garfield would make a sarcastic comment about the situation.)
  • The main focus of the Clarence episode "Neighborhood Grill" involves Ms. Baker going on one with a bizarre man named Larry.
  • The Simpsons: "I Love Lisa," declares Ralph Wiggum as he takes a (very) reluctant Lisa on a date to the "Krusty the Klown's 29th Anniversary Spectacular." (Thanks to him procuring tickets through his dad, Chief Wiggum.) Ralph is himself as he tries gamely to impress Lisa, but things go south when — interviewed by Krusty on live television — he declares that he and Lisa are a couple and are going to be married someday. Lisa snaps and — forgetting they are on live TV — screams and berates him. Needless to say, that ends the evening for both of them.

Dramatic Examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, the plot is kicked off by a particularly horrifying example. Kaneki's date with Rize was going great, right up until she tried to eat him. Their date concludes with her crushed under several tons of steel beams, and him needing an emergency organ transplant to save his life.

    Fan Works 
  • RWBY: Scars: Blake and Weiss go on a date, but Weiss inadvertently takes Blake to areas known for their anti-Faunus bias. Weiss didn't notice but Blake still calls her out for it, setting off Weiss' Trauma Button. Blake instantly regrets her reaction, because Weiss didn't know any better, and ends up running off. The next few days are awkward for Weiss and Blake but they eventually recover from the incident.

  • Gaia's first date in Fearless ends with her date trying to kill her. She notes that among the worst first date stories she's ever heard, it ranks by and large as the worst she can imagine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of 7th Heaven had Lucy out on one with an obnoxious Spoiled Brat who also had an overprotective father who believed she was a bad influence. During the night, he refused to hold the door open for her when they entered the restaurant where it was held, asked invasive questions about her family, made her pay for the both of them and went on complain to his father for her not indulging him like he's used to.
  • In the first episode of Moon Knight (2022), Steven manages to score a date with a colleague for Friday, but it's not until he waits at the steakhouse that he realizes he had another dissociative episode and now it's Sunday. His date obviously never shows up, and when he tries to call her to explain what happened and that he didn't mean to ditch her, she just angrily tells him to delete her number. He's so devastated that despite being vegan and originally planning on just getting a salad, he orders a steak and goes home alone.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, when the protagonist follows Tamara on her date with Dennis, it’s clear that she’s having one of these.
  • Melody has a time when the protagonist helps Becca paint her room (on her romantic path only). The mood for sex hits the two of them, but Becca then asks if the guy has a condom. He doesn’t, but if he insists that it’s fine anyway, it leads to Becca getting so offended that she doesn’t want to see him again.

    Web Original 
  • In Crossing Kevin's Crossing, on Carly Hawkins and Matthew Myers's date to celebrate their two month anniversary Carly dies from anaphylactic shock after eating a a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Both Comedy and Drama:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: When Kuroe goes on a date with Arata to Destinyland, the elaborate steps she takes to keep from triggering her Involuntary Shapeshifting (mostly involving her avoiding physical contact with Arata) make things really awkward between the two of them. It's funny because most of the things Kuroe does are silly (and it's all done in the midst of cute and cartoony Captain Ersatz versions of Disney characters, with Kuroe's mother Rinko disguising herself as the local Mocky Mouse to spy on her daughter), but also sad because Arata is visibly hurt by her keeping him at a distance — and because Kuroe goes through a Heroic BSoD when a Partial Transformation happens anyway.
  • My Daddy Long Legs has three-couple group date that goes wrong in so many ways in episode 31. The interactions between Bob and Sally are played purely for comedy, but the tension between Jimmie, Judy, and Jervis is pretty dramatic, and it has considerable significance with regard to the emerging Romance Arc.

    Comic Book 
  • In volume 2 of Jughead in Archie Comics (2015), Jughead accidentally agrees to go on a date with Sabrina, having just thought they would be hanging out. Him being canonically asexual (and, though not stated, clearly aromantic), he's...very uncertain about this, though his friends encourage him to try it anyway. It goes bad. Very bad. To the extent that Sabrina gets so frustrated she tries to cast a love spell on him halfway through, only for it to No-Sell on Jughead, infecting seemingly everyone else instead. There's plenty of farce about it all, but both Sabrina's genuine hurt and confusion, and Jughead's guilt and worry over how to explain himself, make it a serious affair as well.
  • Zatanna: Everyday Magic: When Zatanna's backstory is being explained, there's a brief montage of her disastrous failed dates to illustrate how she's been unlucky in love.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Hitch, he goes on a jet ski date and accidentally kicks her in the face, then accidentally forces her to confront the reality of her genocidal ancestor, and on another date has a bad reaction to food and looks like an ass and... these are funny, but they also demonstrate that he's not actually any good at dating, in spite of his alleged expertise.
  • In When Harry Met Sally..., the titular characters bond over bad dating experiences. These are usually comedic, but venture into the dramatic when Harry talks about dates being ruined when he is reminded of his ex-wife and becomes overcome with regret over her.

  • In the Teenage Worrier series, Letty attends a party that's supposed to be a date (she'd agreed to meet a guy there) but everything that can possibly go wrong does, including him not showing up. Although it's played for comedy, the dramatic element comes in when through a combination of circumstances she suspects (wrongly) that she may have been drugged and raped at the party.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens in Burn Notice: occasionally Fiona pushes Michael to treat their relationship like a personal relationship rather than a professional spy relationship with sex involved. One time he promises her a romantic dinner. Unfortunately, after a job goes south, they don't have the money for a nice place, so they end up back at The Carlito, their usual hangout. They play it for laughs and show the rocky nature of Michael and Fi's relationship.
    Fiona: I distinctly recall you saying someplace nice. We're at the Carlito; we eat half our meals here. Have you forgotten what a date is?
    Michael: I said that when I thought we were gonna be five grand richer!
    Waitress: Would you like anything else?
    Fiona: Yes, your most expensive dessert, please.
    A little shop talk, and then Sam sits down.
    Sam: Well, you two look as good as I feel.
    Fiona: You invited him?
    Sam: I need an invite to Carlito's now?
    [a little more shop talk, then Fi's dessert shows up]
    Sam: Okay, wait a second, is this a date?
    Michael: Yes. [and at the same time]
    Fiona: No. This is officially not a date.
    Sam: Alrighty, can you bring us another spoon?
  • On an episode of Friends, Joey and Phoebe purposely set up Ross and Rachel on these to try and get them back together.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva has Riki (a monster in human form) go on a group date where he soon gets bored with the girl he was paired with and decides she'd make a tasty snack. It's later played for laughs when he says, entirely seriously, that he ate her and the rest of the party get the wrong impression.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Diane's universally-terrible dates are played for laughs... and also lead to her becoming the jaded, semi-gold digging person that we know early in the strip.