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Guilty Pleasures
aka: Guilty Pleasure

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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.


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.

(This is a trope; for the novel Guilty Pleasures, see the Anita Blake page.)

In-Universe Examples Only:

    open/close all folders 

    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, finding 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.

    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
    • In one strip, Paige catches Jason watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer - as she goes off mockingly chanting "Jason likes Buffy!" he calls out "I like the vampires, okay? I'm not a weirdo!"
    • In a week-long series, Jason gets into a heated argument with diehard Harry Potter fan Eileen, claiming TheFellowshipOfTheRings is a better movie than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, although Eileen can't for the life of her understand why he thinks its a competition. (Jason turns everything with her into a competition.) As the last strip shows, however, Jason is secretly a fan.

    Fan Works 

  • RED: 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).

  • 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".

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family; Archie's usual leisure time is spent drinking beer 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 is that 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 heartthrob coverboy and becomes interested in what the interview with said hearthrob says. The guys get into an argument about what their opinions and the hearthrob'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!
  • Eureka: Jo. "Sassy pumps for fall."
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

  • 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 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 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.


    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: Arthur is secretly a fan of "Love Ducks". He keeps it a secret because (per the title of the episode) "That's a Baby Show". By the end all of his friends are into it.
  • 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. The video game reveals she actually likes some of their songs when you find a CD of theirs belonging to her.
  • 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.
    • Subtlety subverted in "The Ticket Master". A sub-bit is on Spike's supposed disgust on going to the Grand Galloping Gala, but excited to get his own ticket. However the subversion comes in if one notices that Spike was actually excited to go (since he figured the other ticket was for him and Celestia likely intended that to be the case) and only said that to he didn't want to go to the gala anyway when Twilight begins debating which of her new friends to take and thus upsetting Spike by snubbing him.
    • 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.
  • Phineas and Ferb: The episode "Nerds of a Feather" featured Candace going to a convention dressed as Ducky Mo-Mo; she liked the character since she was little, but was too embarrassed to admit she still did.
  • 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 monents 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: One episode 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 (with a full headstone.) Granted, the previous bit was done to dissaude 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. Sponegebob 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 he blows up (though not before it goes to his thighs.)

Alternative Title(s): Guilty Pleasure


Example of: