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Guilty Pleasures

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"It's cheesy, it's over the top, and I love every second of it!"

There are shows or products that many people are ashamed to watch/use. That doesn't mean a character won't enjoy it and continue to consume it anyway, regardless of what's going on. In real life, a person with such a condition usually shares some elitist point of views, and acceptance of their guilty pleasures can help them change their point of view.

Guilty Pleasure may, but does not always, overlap with Closet Geek. "Guilty Pleasure" implies that a person feels guilty for enjoying a show or product, either because they believe it is of low quality or because they fall out of the product's target demographic, but for some reason like it anyway. This differs from So Bad, It's Good, where the enjoyment is specifically based on its flaws. The Closet Geek hides their fanhood for fear of what other people will say, but they may believe that the things they like are legitimately good and worthy of appreciation. It can overlap with Unmanly Secret if a masculine character has a feminine guilty pleasure.

Compare Damned By a Fool's Praise, when it's the people who like something that make it embarrassing for more discerning consumers, and It's Popular, Now It Sucks! when someone doesn't want to be seen appreciating something the common masses enjoy.

Of course, this is Truth in Television for many people, as everyone has at least one movie, TV show, web site, book, game, hobby, food, etc that they secretly enjoy but are ashamed to admit. They understand that there's nothing wrong with loving something even though it's not what some would call "quality entertainmment", but they aren't about to announce this fact about them to the world.

Something that's a Guilty Pleasure may often have Narm Charm, be appreciated as Camp, and face Critical Backlash. Different from So Bad, It's Good, which is where people find enjoyment because of the flaws. Also see Bile Fascination.

For the novel Guilty Pleasures, see the Anita Blake page.

No Real Life examples, please! note 

In-Universe Examples Only:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • A Running Gag brought up every so often in Crayon Shin-chan is Georgie's denial of watching a girls' show called "Princess Heiressz", but it's his guilty pleasure and favorite show to watch.
  • Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid: the OVA is about Tessa trying to get her teddy bear back before somebody else finds out about it. Belfangan Clouseau tries to keep his Anime habits a secret as well, mostly Played for Laughs.
  • Hen Zemi: Nanako seems quite non-perverted when compared to the rest of the cast, but as the series progresses she begins to like and admit some of her odder preferences, such as enjoying the smell of her flatulence in the bathtub or beginning to strip at a party when the lights went out.
  • From One Piece, we have Charlotte Katakuri. He is a Comically Serious badass who has a design from something out of Berserk and carries himself in a stoic manner as a ruthless fighter, despite his powers basically allowing him to become and control a mochi-like substance. It's revealed he's actually a massive glutton who loves sweets, but is ashamed of this and his huge teeth, to where he makes a sanctuary of mochi to have his hidden snack time. Disrupting it seriously unbalances and pisses him off.
  • Kiyoshi from Prison School likes sumo wrestling but doesn't want his crush Chiyo to find out because he thinks she'll think he's weird. She does find out though and it turns out that she's a sumo wrestling fan as well.
  • Washio's friends force her into a western-style dress in Washio Sumi Is a Hero. Being very traditionally Japanese and patriotic, Washio resists, but she does like how it looks on her. The scene then cuts to her saying that she's a failure as a Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • In My Hero Academia, this is Jiro's interest in music. She's the only girl embarrassed about the others seeing her room during the dorm tour. Chapter 169 reveals that she doesn't think her musical interest is heroic, and that she isn't proud enough about it to perform live during the U.A. Cultural Festival. Even though Uraraka and Hagakure have watched her perform in her room on the guitar, her body language shows she is really shy in front of an audience: nervously blushing, hands tucked under her legs, and feet dangling above the floor with her toes pointed out and avoiding the ground. It turns out that this is largely due to the fact that in the past, she felt conflicted about her dream of becoming a pro hero since she thought her parents would want her to become a musician like them, even though they assured her they would support her no matter which path she took.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun:
    • The infamous Tomoda scene, where Nozaki and Mikoshiba power through a dating simulator they don't care for very much solely because they got attached to their in-game Bromantic Foil Tomoda. They even begin work on a BL fan comic for him.
    • In chapter 76, a girl in Sakura's class brought in shoujo manga, so two girls are reading it. Two boys are also shown reading it while clearly thinking it's ridiculous and illogical, and then two panels later have gotten into it to the point that they're crying and sobbing while having gotten up to the 6th volume.
  • Good Day to You, How About a Game?: Sae loves playing mahjong on her phone, but decides to keep it a secret from all the elite young ladies at Ootori Academy since she's afraid they'll dismiss it as a game for peasants. However, when Class Princess Chise sneaks up behind her and takes a peek, she's intrigued by what she sees.

    Comic Strips 
  • Adam@Home: this strip for 2-22-11, Adam and his wife discuss theirs.
  • Clyde, the closest thing that Candorville has to a stereotypical black male, is often found selling these. On one occasion he used a similar approach to sell something highly secret—the main character thought it was drugs, but it turned out to be videos that were Guilty Pleasures.
  • FoxTrot

    Fan Works 
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Japan's guity pleasure is intense yaoi mangas.
  • In Mall Rats, a fanfic of The Loud House, Lincoln likes escalators but doesn't want to admit it.
  • In To Hell and Back (Arrowverse), Laurel had a secret love for High School Musical back during college.
  • In Doctor Ghemor, I Presume?, Garak publically maintains Cardassian literature is the only kind worth reading, only for Bashir to find the tailor busy with Persuasion in his free time.
  • In Chapter-57 of the second volume of Family Matters (Nyislandersgirl), Misty's revealed to be a fan of "cheesy, dramatic soap operas" (the chapter itself is called "Soap Opera Digest"), with her favorite soap opera being one called "Days of Our Pokemon." She ultimately got into soap operas because of Ash's mom, Delia, especially how early on in Ash and Misty's marriage (when Misty was pregnant with Aiden and Michelle and before they had moved into their house in Cerulean City). Misty kept it a secret from everyone outside of Delia—Ash didn't find out that Misty watched the show until they had been married for almost seven years, but he promised to keep it a secret. However, May and Dawn (who had been watching the show since they were teenagers) end up finding out after Misty herself accidentally blabbed it to them.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Lost in Gotham plays with this trope:
    • Chapter 15 reveals both Jason's love of classic romance novels (something he gets Peter in on) and Spider-Man's love for Bat Burger's Spider-Shake. Averted in that neither of them are embarrassed about liking these.
    • Stephanie notes at one point that Bruce still binges the old Gray Ghost TV show whenever he has free time... and that he denies said binging whenever caught.
    • Zig-zagged. When they hang out, Peter and Tim put on a cheesy B-movie... so they can make fun of it MST3k style. They end up abandoning the movie entirely after deciding looking at the Batman rogues gallery would be more entertaining.
  • To Love Somebody:
    Draco: So, why were you so mad at me?
    Harry: I... I was angry that you showed everyone my Michael Bolton CD... Everyone knows he's a closet poof and his music is dreadful... You didn't have to show everyone I loved him. It was so embarrassing!
  • In Rocking the Boat Hermione has a secret addiction to cheesy erotic novels her father refers to as "housewife porn".
  • In the My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! fanfic Fortune_Lover_(TGS Beta)(SARU_rip)[T+Eng0.75_Sincere].zip, Parasite_Ib describes Fortune Lover as this to her to the point of playing it once every six months long after its release, despite its "kind of a cliché plot (and a painfully heterosexual one, to boot)".
  • Spider-Ninja: Leonardo secretly loves the Harry Potter books, and has read April's copies a few times. He's made April swear she'll never tell his siblings, because he knows that they'd never stop teasing him about it.
  • Who Is Harry Potter?:
    Albus shuddered with dread – his staff and students knew one of his darkest secrets – his love for the music of the Swedish pop group ABBA. No one could deny the enchantment of their tunes and he shook his head in disappointment every time the group denied there was magical blood in their families. The Swedish magical government finally demanded the ICW censure Albus when he continually appeared at the group's concerts around the world every summer seeking autographs.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Lampshaded in "The Imaginary Letters" when Bolt refers to Mittens's saying that the first album by The Romantics is "the best guilty pleasure Power Pop album of all time." He's not sure there's any reason to feel guilty about liking it, though.
  • Manehattan's Lone Guardian: Maverick and Magnum are two pegasus thieves that are roped into being boxed crooks for Leviathan and had previously given her a halfway decent showing in a fight. Neither of them is too keen on admitting to anyone that they enjoyed it when Leviathan gave in to temptation and scratched them behind the ears.
  • Peter Parker Needs A Hug: While stalking Peter Parker, Red Hood and Red Robin have a brief discussion about the fact that they both enjoy reading romance novels (although Hood insists he only reads the good romance novels; Red Robin reads the trashy ones).
  • If Wishes Were Ponies: Twilight blushes when Discord reveals her secret fondness for human romance novels.

  • Red (2010): Sara Ross likes to read trashy romance novels which she tells Frank Moses are terrible but so addictive. Incidentally, we later see Moses himself reading those same novels (though whether he genuinely enjoys them or is only doing it for research (or "research") is left unstated).
  • In Turning Red, Mei's father Jin is shown in The Stinger to be a secret 4*Town fan, dancing to it in the privacy of the basement away from his wife and daughter.

  • The first of Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake novels is actually named Guilty Pleasures (which seems quite apt given that about half the series' fanbase regards it as one). The title has an equally appropriate use in-story as the name of a sleazy vampire-fetish nightclub.
  • Artemis: Jazz gets hooked on Arabic gossip sites while posing as a Saudi tourist. There was a rather engrossing story involving the crown prince and half of his wives filing for divorce.
  • The East German novel Die Aula by Hermann Kant has a high party functionary who claims the Karl May novel in the back of his fancy car belongs to his chauffeur.
  • When Dora Wilk finds herself in Baal's bedroom while Dreaming of Things to Come (incorporeally), there's Baal with another girl with it (very corporeally). Dora knows that she shouldn't really watch it, but she just can't keep her eyes off it.
  • In Firebird (Lackey), Ilya is a little pleased to see Pietor among the Katschei's statuary. He's really, really pleased to be able to rub his brother's face (and his father's, by proxy) in his eventual, overwhelming success. He's also very pleased to leave his brother and his cheating bride to their dismal fate together.
  • The Mako Saga: Mac is a metal fiend who is derisive towards Southern Rock ("Mullet rock for hillbillies in pickups"), but Lee once caught her rocking out to "Please Call Home" by The Allman Brothers Band. (She says it's bluesier than their other songs.) Her Relationship Upgrade with Lee comes when he puts it on the jukebox on the Praetorian.
  • In the Ms. Wiz books, Jack Beddows apparently carries around a few Beatrix Potter books and when asked about them he says they're for his sister. Then when the characters get released from the books (long story) he's in near tears when Peter Rabbit appears to have been run over by a bus.
  • Josh Newman from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is described as loving Shrek but would "die before admitting it to his friends".
  • In Rubbernecker, Meg volunteers to read to the coma patient Mrs Deal. She starts reading Ulysses, but gets bored with it and switches to The Da Vinci Code, which she describes to her friends as 'some rubbish that I found on her bedside table'. The book turns out to be so gripping that Meg finds herself reading to Mrs Deal for two hours at a time instead of one, but she'd never admit that.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: Archie's usual leisure time is spent drinking beer and watching football, like the typical blue-collar worker he is, but he also reads Dennis the Menace comic books when nobody is around and may have a whole trunk full of them.
  • Big Time Rush: One episode in which the guys have a photo shoot for a Tween girls mag. Only one of them is familiar with the magazine and the others shockingly look at him, almost in disgust, and one even asks him if that's Katie's. He replies that those "...magazines have great articles for guys too." Seconds later, as they are mocking him, another guy in the band reads a headline about a heartthrob cover boy and becomes interested in what the interview with said heartthrob says. The guys get into an argument about what their opinions and the heartthrob's about what to bring to a desert island. So in mere seconds, they go from mocking it to liking it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer have guys like Spike and Giles who watch Dawson's Creek and Passions and Angel who likes to sing Barry Manilow. Joyce also admits to watching Passions.
  • Castle:
    • In "Always Buy Retail", Castle compares having sex with his ex-wife to a deep-fried Twinkie.
      Ryan: A deep-fried Twinkie?
      Castle: Yeah, the guilty pleasure that you know is bad for you, so you only do it once, maybe twice a year for the novelty.
    • Also Beckett watching Temptation Lane, a soap opera that she used to watch with her mom when she was little. Castle sums it up PERFECTLY:
      Castle: That's just so delightfully not you!
  • Friends: This is a question asked by Ross in the quiz to see who would get the better apartment:
    Ross: Rachel claims this is her favorite movie?
    Chandler: Dangerous Liaisons?
    Ross: Correct! Her actual favorite movie is?
    Joey: (confidently) Weekend at Bernie's!
    Ross: Correct!
    • A few seasons later we find out Rachel also likes to read a steamy romance novel about a vicar's wife having an affair with a stable boy. She keeps this hidden under her pillow.
  • Glee had an entire episode, appropriately titled "Guilty Pleasures", revolving around the kids' guilty musical pleasures. Spice Girls, Barry Manilow, and Wham! ensued.
  • iCarly: Carly once broke up with a "bad boy" she was dating because she found out that he had a stuffed animal collection. Inverted: he wasn't embarrassed about the stuffies (he was actually a bit proud of them), but she was embarrassed at the fact that she was dating a boy with a stuffed animal collection.
    • In the episode "i Was a Pageant Girl", Sam admits that she's a former pageant girl. While it's implied that she didn't enjoy the pageants themselves, she received professional dance training from them and is shown in the episode to be an incredible dancer (something she seems to genuinely enjoy).
  • In M*A*S*H, Major Winchester admitted to a woman whom he was dating at the time that he secretly enjoyed Tom and Jerry cartoons.
  • The Sing-Off includes a Once a Season "Guilty Pleasures" round of the contest, allowing the vocal groups to perform songs full of Narm Charm (such as pop hits from The '80s).
  • Supernatural:
    • In the episode "Changing Channels", Sam earlier caught Dean watching a hospital show called "Dr. Sexy, M.D.", but Dean claims he isn't a fan of the show. Later on, "Dr. Sexy" actually appears.
      Dean Winchester: [notices the doctor's footwear, slams him against the wall] You're not Dr. Sexy.
      Dr. Sexy: You're crazy.
      Dean Winchester: Really? Because I swore part of what makes Dr. Sexy sexy, is the fact that he wears cowboy boots. Not tennis shoes!
      Sam Winchester: Yeah, you're not a fan...
      Dean Winchester: It's a guilty pleasure!
    • In the episode "About a Boy" Dean was slightly distressed to admit to Sam that he heard a Taylor Swift song and liked it. At the end of the episode, Dean left "Shake It Off" on while driving away in the Impala, despite no longer being a teenager meaning that it actually IS a guilty pleasure, and not just a side effect of his temporary age.
  • Young Sheldon: In "A Docent, a Little Lady and a Bouncer Named Dalton", Georgie catches Mary watching Road House (1989). George Sr. then ruins it for Mary after he points out that Dalton (Patrick Swayze) looks just like Georgie.

  • In the Vocaloid song "Magnet", Luka and Miku know they aren't "supposed" to be in love, but that only fuels them with more passion.
  • Larry Groce's "Junk Food Junkie" is all about this trope:
    Yeah, in the daytime, I'm Mr. Natural
    Just as healthy as I can be
    But at night I'm a junk food junkie
    Good lord have pity on me

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Jenna and the school's nurse are both secret fans of trashy romance novels. Jenna takes it even further and likes to write amateur romance Fan Fic starring her friends, which she'd be horrified if anyone learned about.
    • The anti-social, broody Simon secretly likes working out to cheesy 80's exercise videos.
    • Vivian has a deep love for musicals and a plethora of other geeky hobbies, which she tries to hide from others.
    • Benedict keeps it on the down low that he likes to experiment a little with make-up, especially since his father is a homophobe.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Miles Edgeworth would (almost) never admit that he's a big fan of the Steel Samurai, even though he keeps an expensive miniature of the show's hero next to his tea set.
    • In Spirit of Justice, Princess Rayfa adamantly denies that she watches the Plumed Punisher (as per her Tsundere routine), despite all her fangirling whenever she sees limited edition Punisher merchandise.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Lady of War Cassandra Pentaghast is a huge fan of Varric's stories, particularly his smutty romance serial "Swords and Shields", which Varric himself considers the absolute worst thing that he's ever written. When the Inquisitor finds her reading it, she tries to use every excuse that she can to hide it.
  • Grand Theft Auto V's Non Stop Pop FM features comments that hint at the station being your guilty pleasure.
  • This is the plot point of Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Someone has discovered that the prince of Hell likes rubber duckies? Why, MURDER THEM!
  • In Kitty Powers' Matchmaker, clients have at least one interest that their Type usually doesn't like, such as a Geek secretly liking penthouse suites, which is usually liked by Glams. This is expanded into the Inner Type in Kitty Powers' Love Life, where your client has to first admit to you about it in their appointment with you, and then come out to one of their friends, and then talk about one of their guilty pleasures to their spouse before leaving the Love Village and achieving their "happily ever after".
  • In Persona 3 Portable, Ken's social link for the female main character has him regard his love of Phoenix Ranger Featherman R as a guilty pleasure that he wants to grow out of because he feels it makes him immature to like a Sentai show. You can respond with dismissal of the show, open enthusiasm for it, or a similar confession that it's a personal guilty pleasure too.
  • Yakuza: In "0" Hibiki admits to being a shojo manga fan, though she states that she feels she is too old for it.
    • Similarly, in "Kiwami 2", Shoko is a passionate but reticent fan of gag manga and even tries her hand at drawing one. Part of her story is Kiryu convincing her to be less guilty about it and let her geek flag fly.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In 6teen's "The Girls In The Band", Nikki is revealed to be a closet DawgToys fan. Caitlin forces her to admit it after Nikki's backpack rips open and causes her secret stash of Boy Band merch to fall out in the Khaki Barn.
  • Arthur: In the episode "That's a Baby Show", Arthur is secretly a fan of "Love Ducks", but keeps this a secret because the show in question is aimed at a much younger audience. By the end of the episode, all of his friends are into it as well.
  • In Gravity Falls, Dipper would never admit that he's a big fan of girly Icelandic pop sensation BABBA.
    • Wendy is not a fan of most modern music, viewing it as soulless corporate creations, and laughs at Sev'ral Timez for being a boy band that appeared too late (with the creation part being literal given how the boy band consists of clones Mabel and her friends help). The video game reveals she actually likes some of their songs when you find a CD of theirs belonging to her.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): When Poison Ivy, who is an Eco-Terrorist, is under the influence of Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth, she admits to having several non-environmentally friendly habitats, including that she enjoys watching NASCAR.
  • DuckTales (2017): Mrs. Beakley, at first, doesn't get why Launchpad is so obsessed with the low-quality Darkwing Duck show... until he shows her his entire episode collection. Despite being sophisticated and high-brow, she falls in love with show and watches the last few episodes in excitement.
  • The Legend of Korra: Tenzin regards Pro-Bending as a mockery of the ancient elemental arts. Nevertheless, he is later shown to be cheering Korra on during the tournament and familiarizing himself with the rules.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The premise of the episode "Read It and Weep" was Rainbow Dash discovering that reading can actually be fun after lambasting it as an egghead hobby. She's driven to petty theft by the end of the episode in order to finish the book she had started.
    • Subtly subverted in "The Ticket Master". Spike is allegedly grossed out by the idea of going to the Grand Galloping Gala but is excited to get his own ticket at the end of the episode. However, this trope is subverted upon closer examination: we see that Spike had initially been excited to go, likely because he assumed the tickets were for him and Twilight (and this is what probably Celestia had intended given how Twilight just started making friends outside of Spike). He only claimed that he didn't want to go to the gala "anyway" when Twilight accidentally snubs him by debating which of her new friends to take, not considering the possibility the other ticket was for Spike.
    • In "A Rock Solid Friendship", Starlight Glimmer has this bombshell to drop to her new friend Maud Pie:
      Starlight Glimmer: [glances nervously around] I like kites.
      Maud Pie: [beat] ...Kites are cool.
      [later while flying a kite]
      Starlight: The trick with an S.L.K. is not to make the spars too heavy. But if they're too light, you've got no ballast and then good luck tacking against the A.O.I.! [beat] I really like kites.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Shaggy reveals in one episode that he used to secretly play a D&D Expy every night, and never admitted it because he was embarrassed.
  • Phineas and Ferb: The episode "Nerds of a Feather" featured Candace going to a convention dressed as Ducky Momo. She liked the character since she was little, but was too embarrassed to admit she still did. This is AFTER she teased Phineas and Ferb for going to the convention dressed as a sci-fi space captain and an elf prince, respectively.
  • The Simpsons: Dr. Marvin Monroe admits that one of his "guilty little pleasures" is grabbing a bucket of popcorn and watching "Itchy and Scratchy".
  • South Park: The episode "Funnybot" reveals that Tyler Perry seemingly has this effect on all African-Americans, who inexplicably enjoy his movies even if they are ashamed of that fact. Even President Obama is shown to be a victim of this:
    Barack Obama: I'm going to spend my final moments on this Earth with my loved ones... watching a Tyler Perry movie. I know, it's embarrassing. But I simply can't help myself.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has two of these episodes involving this trope.
    • Just One Bite is centered on Squidward's unexpected liking of Krabby Patties. He tells Spongebob that they're disgusting and even goes as far as burying one, complete with a full headstone. Granted, the previous bit was done to dissuade Spongebob he liked it (since he tried it seconds beforehand). The moment Spongebob leaves, he unburies it and eats it ravenously. The guilty comes from the fact that he spent a good part of the episode denying he liked it and making a big deal out of it, thus Squidward assuming that Spongebob would never let him live it down. SpongeBob does catch Squidward sneaking in for more patties and after smugly asking Squidward rhetorically if he likes them, Squidward proceeds to lock himself in the vault and gorge on Krabby Patties while admitting it...before going overboard and eating until it goes to his thighs and blowing up.
    • The Hankering centers around Mr. Krabs' surprising taste for chum which worried the customers and Spongebob in the process. While the Krusty Krab restaurant is closed early, Mr. Krabs admitted this to Spongebob just before the Slop Pail is permanently closed after running out of chum. Spongebob then proceeded to attempt to make chum for Mr. Krabs, which are all rejected. While it makes sense Mr. Krabs has trouble with staying away from the Chum Bucket, he had to give up and blurt it out to Plankton, leading to him having trouble with retrieving the secret Krabby Patty formula until Spongebob encouraged him to eat the chum inside of the giant bucket at the cost of Plankton getting accidentally eaten. Yikes.
  • Season 2, Episode 10 of Mighty Magiswords, aptly titled Vambre's Guilty Pleasure features a case of this. Specifically, her liking the children's entertainer Piggiepie Jones, which conflicts with the badass warrior image she's cultivated, especially in contrast to her more sensitive brother Prohyas. By the end of the episode, she finally admits she's a fan and the people couldn't care less.
  • Bojack Horseman: BoJack's mother Beatrice really thinks his sitcom Horsin' Around is genuinely funny and entertaining, and brags to others that her son stars in the show. However, she would never admit it to BoJack's face, partly because her high-class upbringing made her feel as though she wasn't allowed to enjoy something so childish, and partly because she refused to praise the person who "ruined" her. Only after she's been stricken with late-stage dementia and no longer recognizes her son do we see her openly enjoying the show in front of him, but at that point BoJack no longer cares.

Alternative Title(s): Guilty Pleasure


Guilty Pleasures

There's plenty for everybody!!

How well does it match the trope?

3.71 (7 votes)

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