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Sex Is Evil

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Cordelia: I learned something, too. I learned, um… men are evil? Oh wait, I knew that. I learned that L.A. is full of self-serving phonies. —No, had that one down, too. Uhh… sex is bad?
Angel: We all knew that.
Angel, "Expecting"

In many moral codes, sex is regarded as fraught and dangerous. Moral Guardians and their comrades have always considered sex to be multiple magnitudes more disgusting than gratuitous violence. Arguments to the contrary of this attitude, such as sexuality being much less harmful to the human psyche than violent acts or how sex is pretty much the reason humanity and most life forms went this far without going extinct, always seeming to evade them. The Hays Code, in particular, outlawed anything that even remotely implied sex, whereas hangings and executions could be shown "within good taste". It should be noted, however, that sex and violence absolutely can go together.

So, of course, adding sex automatically makes works Darker and Edgier.

Want to add menace to your villain? Have him make sinister advances towards the heroine or the hero. Want to hammer into people's heads that this villain is irredeemable? Have him rape someone. Want The Ingenue to make a Face–Heel Turn? Get her laid by the villain. Bonus points if the villain is Ambiguously Gay.

In older works, Sex Is Evil could also be used as a free pass for the hero to be a total jerk under the banner of Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny. For example, he could sexually abuse women (including way too young ones), and then show his goodness by forgiving them for tempting him.

Sex can be a dangerous thing (STDs, unwanted pregnancies, sleeping with someone you should not be sleeping with) and the importance of safe sex is emphasized in many places for this reason. Of course, Moral Guardians being Moral Guardians, they're simply going to take this concept too far to the point of irrationality and portray sex as the most terrifying and nauseating Eldritch Abomination in all of existence, with only exterminatus as the solution.

A subtrope of Fan Disservice. Compare Sexual Deviance Is Evil, and Psychosexual Horror. Contrast with Sex Is Good and Sexual Karma.

Related tropes:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Men are often portrayed as perverts incapable of keeping it in their pants.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Women are often portrayed as promiscious and unable to keep their panties on.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Beautiful characters are portrayed as bitchy, arrogant, controlling or just plain evil.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Bondage is used to establish a character as a controlling jerk at best or an outright villainous predator at worst.
  • Bury Your Gays: If a character is gay, chances are the work will have them die.
  • Contractual Purity
  • Corrupting Pornography: Pornography is dangerous and corrupts either the viewers or the participants.
  • Cruel Cheerleader: Cheerleaders portrayed as villainous characters.
  • D-Cup Distress: Characters with larger breasts hate the fact that they've been "blessed" with bigger assets than their peers.
  • Defiled Forever: A trope often used against women to imply that nobody will ever love them if they have sex before marriage.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Bisexual men or women who are portrayed as menacing, antagonistic or just plain evil.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Gay men or lesbians who are portrayed as menacing, antagonistic or just plain evil.
  • Dirty Old Man: Creepy older men who peek at younger women or men at best or prey on them at worst.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Creepy older women who peek at younger men or women at best or prey on them at worst.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Sex workers are used as a victim to showcase how evil a villain is.
  • Fetishes Are Weird: Fetishes are used to portray characters as losers, creeps or outright villains.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: If someone refuses to marry the person their family approved of, they will face hell for it.
  • Hysterical Woman: A sexist trope designed to portray women as irrational, trouble-making or potentially insane.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: A villain is intending to have their way with another character and will damn well make it clear that there is nothing they can do about it.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: When sex is allowed, but only for the purposes of making babies, or keeping one's spouse satisfied.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: Characters who split people into pure, chaste "Madonnas" and evil, slutty "Whores" because they are incapable or unwilling to see women as capable of both things.
  • Makeup Is Evil: When women wearing make up is portrayed as bad or as a sign of villainy.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut
  • Nature Adores a Virgin
  • No Sex Allowed: Sex is banned from society and often replaced with artificial means of reproduction; this is almost always portrayed as a bad thing.
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality
  • Pink Is Erotic: The color pink represents eroticism and scenes of a sexual nature. This color can be used to indicate sexual violence.
  • Predatory Prostitute
  • Psychosexual Horror: A horror subgenre that explores psychosexual development as a subject matter, including themes of sexual development and sexual activities.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Heroes are covered up whereas the bad guys get to show off some skin.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Characters who repress their sexual desires and use them as an excuse to commit evil acts. Not to be confused with antisexuality.
  • Sex Signals Death: If characters have sex, it's ensured that death will come for them soon.
  • Sexy Villains, Chaste Heroes: Evil characters are portrayed as sexy, in contrast to the more modest heroes.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Characters who are portrayed as sleeping with their superiors to secure their promotions.
  • Slut-Shaming: Shaming people for having sex.
  • Succubi and Incubi: Male and female demons who absorb the life force of their targets by having sexual intercourse with them.
  • Unsexy Sadist: Sexual sadism portrayed as horrifying rather than tittilating.
  • Virgin Power: A character derives their power from their virginity and lose it once they have sex.
  • Virgin Tension


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Full Metal Panic!. Sousuke is a Chaste Hero who is obviously a virgin and doesn't understand anything about sex. And then to contrast, there are the villains from Amalgam who have a huge array of weird kinks and depraved tendencies. Gauron, a sadomasochistic, Depraved Bisexual pedophile and necrophiliac who displays most of these kinks towards Sousuke. Gates, Ax-Crazy paedophile rapist who masturbates to animal nature videos (and is very likely a necrophiliac as well, though not as explicitly stated). And the Twincestuous Creepy Twins Xia Yu Fan and Xia Yu Lan, who most likely had something going on with Gauron and are shown to be rather promiscuous (with them seducing the AS repairmen in Amalgam). Even the villainous female scientist who only had a small part, in the beginning, has depraved kinks. In the novels, she's shown to enjoy Gauron strangling her as much as he does. He even lampshades it by mocking her with amusement. To go further, even Leonard is not exempt from this—in the novels, when he's first mentioned, he's shown to be a rather loose playboy that sleeps around. Over the phone, he's heard to have had sex with a woman with a high nasal voice.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion, with its focus on adolescence and pathology, broadly hints at this trope more than once. In particular, the Mind Screw collage in End of Evangelion includes a shot of Shinji screaming while the word "SEX" flashes across his face.
  • It's difficult to tell whether Speed Grapher is anti-sex or just anti-fetish, but it's definitely anti-something. How healthy a relationship tends to be inversely proportional to how sexual it is, and all but one sexual fetish in the series either requires killing or mutilating people, or leads to killing or mutilating people (sometimes for no apparent reason, as when the tattoo fetishist kills the girl he's dating.)
  • Berserk zig-zagges between sex being evil and being good. Majority of the sex scenes in the series, consensual or not, are generally depicted in ways to gross out the reader and not at all titillating. Best way to describe it, is that the series shows that sex itself isn't inherently evil, but is far too easy to use for evil. The following examples are the most egregious when it comes to how sex is depicted in the series.
    • Played straight with the Sex for Solace that Griffith has with Princess Charlotte. It's not depicted as being romantic or even physically fulfilling, but more to show just how far off the deep end Griffith has gotten. This sex scene is also the key element that leads to the eventual destruction of the Band of the Hawk and The Eclipse.
    • Played straight with a vengeance during The Eclipse, when Griffith-turned-Femto rapes Casca. Not only is Casca being raped to the point of insanity, but Guts is Forced to Watch the entire time because he's held in place by demons, and Femto is staring at Guts the entire time. It's not presented as simply rape or sex, it's a power play going on. And the rape leads to Casca giving birth prematurely, having been impregnated by Guts prior to The Eclipse, and the baby having been tainted by Femto's evil sperm, turning it into a gross demon-like thing. The only upside is that the child clearly wants to keep its parents safe.
    • Averted when it comes to Guts and Casca having their first time. It's presented as loving, consensual, and the only bright spot in their lives up to that point — even with Guts almost strangling Casca mid-coitus due to his rape flashbacks.
    • Also averted with most of the prostitutes in the Tower of God arc, who are presented as being genuinely nice and sweet people. Luca is the main example on how they are making money in ways they can, but she's also making sure that no envy comes up between them by sharing any expensive gift she is given, and looking out for the others like a big sister and mother.
  • Star Driver is big on this trope too. On the one hand, you get the Chaste Hero main character Takuto, who borders on having a Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality while on the other hand, there is his father, Head, a Depraved Bisexual who will sleep with everyone he comes across in order to manipulate them into doing what he wants. Of course, everything in this series runs on "libido" (in the literal and metaphorical sense), so you do also get sexually active and inactive characters of every alignment, but the contrast between the hero and villain in this regard (and a few more things) is so heavy that it just screams this trope.

  • Rorschach of Watchmen is a firm believer in this trope. Of course, he is crazy, and his mom was a prostitute of the most Crapsack World kind, so it's not hard to see why he has the idea.
  • Marshal Law uses rampant sexual imagery to emphasize the Crapsack World nature of the setting.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story series, the Psyches view not just sex, but all forms of pleasure, as evil, and thus live as sexless emotionless beings that cover most of their bodies in a bodysuit. Seeing that the Smurfs in this series are rather shameless when it comes to their visual presentation of themselves, not to mention that they actually enjoy sex in its proper milieu, the Psyches also see the Smurfs as a Wretched Hive.

  • The women in America 3000 seem to have this idea about sex with men, which is rather problematic since they still need the men to make babies. As Tiara Vena's best friend Lynka puts it, "It's a cold act… but it's gotta be done." The men also seem to have developed the same contempt for women, at least until Korvis and Vena work out their natural attraction to each other and then find a way to change all their followers' minds as well.
  • Played straight in The Wicker Man (1973), in that the straight-laced Christian officer is shocked at the depraved sex and immorality surrounding him on the island, believing that they were evil heathens—and he was proven right. In some cruel irony, his chastity was part of the reason why Lord Summerisle chose him to be sacrificed. If he hadn't resisted Willow's seductions earlier in the film, he might have escaped his fate.
  • Zardoz: THE PENIS IS EVIL!!! (Bit of a subversion - he is evil and guns are good in this universe because of population increase/decrease, whereas the trope usually does not refer to the procreation aspects of sex.)
  • Demolition Man: In the politically correct future, the physical act of sex (and even forms of intimacy going all the way to kissing) is banned due to the belief that it has caused the downfall of mankind, with other kinds of incurable and possibly deadly sexually-transmitted diseases emerging during the time John Spartan was serving his cryo-prison sentence. To combat this, all procreative activity is regulated through the government, and any form of sexual intimacy is engaged through using special headsets that flash erotic images into the person's mind to make them feel the sensations of having sex without any physical contact with a partner.
  • In the obscure Scandinavian silent movie era horror movie Rat King, the rats can disguise as humans. One plays the girlfriend of the hero. And then wants sex from him. Bad move, cover instantly blown.
  • This is what Judith believes in Young Lady Chatterley II. An unhappy, failed marriage has left her incredibly repressed, and believing that no good can come of sex. She not only abstains from sex herself, but she pushes her brother and her son into joining the priesthood to 'protect' them from the evils of sex. It takes a life-changing sexual encounter with Thomas the gardener to change her mind.
  • Yes, God Yes is a Deconstruction of this trope. Everyone has a messed up perspective on sexuality and sex due to the ultra conservative and useless education.

  • Carrie's mother, Margaret White, believes this wholeheartedly due to her ultra-religious upbringing, to the point of being pathologically afraid of anything to do with sexuality. This even extended into her marriage with her husband Ralph White, as she tried to practice celibacy within her own marriage, viewing sex as a sin no matter what. In fact, the only reason that Carrie was born at all was because Ralph raped Margaret one night.
  • In Dracula, being bitten is interpreted as a metaphor for sex (although Van Helsing himself actually laughs at seeing donating blood as a metaphor for sex). When Dracula bites the unconscious Lucy and forces Mina to drink his blood (both against their will), it's evil. When Lucy's fiancé, 2 admirers, and Van Helsing give her blood, it's redemptive. Jonathan and Mina are married and sleeping together, which is not portrayed as evil any more than Lucy's excitement at becoming engaged to Arthur. In this context, rape is evil, but mutual, passionate love is portrayed as necessary, healthy, and beautiful, which is quite an impressive distinction for a Victorian novel to make.
  • It might surprise some people, but this trope is averted in The Bible. Sex is to be used within marriage, and there are whole chapters devoted to it, e.g., not going with "strange women" (harlots), not committing adultery nor incest, with reasons given, but there's also a whole book (The Song of Songs aka The Song of Solomon) devoted to sex and romance (the Book of Proverbs says of the man's wife, "Let her breasts satisfy you always"), and there are even bits in the New Testament (especially the Book of 1st Corinthians) about not "depriving" your mate of sex, except by mutual agreement for a short time.
    • Also, the very first command God gives to Adam and Eve is, "Be fruitful and multiply," and his first command to Noah, after the The Great Flood, is, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth."
    • A sectarian interpretation of the Adam and Eve account in the Book of Genesis is that the Forbidden Fruit Eve ate of was actually a forbidden sexual act between the serpent (who according to this interpretation was at the time not yet forced to "go about his belly" like a common snake) and Eve, resulting in her first child, Cain, being the first of the "serpent seed" that somehow survived and became the Jews, of which Jesus in John chapter 8 had denounced as being "children of the devil." This interpretation also somehow fosters this idea among certain sects that believe in this that this trope is true.
    • This is played straighter in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 which put sexual immorality above all other sins because you are sinning against your own body, which is the temple of God.
    • Later in the 4th century, St. Augustine of Hippo, considered one of the most important theologians of Christendom, taught that lust came to be as a consequence of the Fall. For that reason, sex (which in itself is not a sinful act), now straddles a very fine line between being sinful and not sinful. Any sexual act not strictly intended to conceive a child between a husband and wife was sinful. Sex between even a married couple for pleasure, or at any time when conception was not possible for any reason, was a sin. Even then, the act between a husband and wife to conceive a child was sin-adjacent, in his view, because sexual arousal is required to have sex, which is too close to lust. The only truly pure sexual act would be one which was purely intellectual without any passion, which for humans after the Fall was impossible. The only way to remain completely pure was to be celibate.
  • The Party in Nineteen Eighty-Four preaches that sex is like a minor and disgusting operation, all as part of an attempt to corrupt the sex drive.
  • Keira in "Scourge the Heretic" is a psychotic zealot assassin raised in a Sex Is Evil Redemptionist society that believes killing sinners is righteous and everyone has done something. Unfortunately for her faith, she is also a teenage girl. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Atlas Shrugged, former movie actress Kay Ludlow complains about this trope applying to her roles:
    "Whatever quality of human greatness I have the talent to portray—that was the quality the outer world sought to degrade. They let me play nothing but symbols of depravity, nothing but harlots, dissipation-chasers and home-wreckers, always to be beaten at the end by the little girl next door, personifying the virtue of mediocrity."
  • Asher in Someone Else's War doesn't even want to see it suggested that people are having sex.
    "Get that filth out of here!"

    Live Action TV 
  • One of the more frequent knocks on CSI is that this is pretty much how any sex practices outside of the norm come off.
    • One significant exception is Lady Heather, a dominatrix who is consistently portrayed as a mentally balanced and sympathetic character. She even develops a friendship and possibly has a brief romantic relationship with Grissom. Later she nearly kills the man who murdered her daughter, but this is not really related to her sexuality.
  • This would seem to be the 'moral' being raised in American Gothic (1995), unsurprising for a show where the Big Bad is essentially Satan, known for using lust as his primary weapon. Not only does Selena spread her legs at the drop of a hat for Buck (or to corrupt Ben, or Dr. Peele, or…), but Buck himself seduces Gail into a cringing Damsel in Distress, it was his rape of Mrs. Temple that started everything, and even Merlyn's desire for a normal life (complete with a love interest) almost costs an innocent baby its life and leads her to suicide and a return as an avenging angel. Oh, and when Buck corrupts the wife of a hospital orderly with a magic mirror, what's the first thing she does? Turn on the seductive charm.
  • Joss Whedon did this so much in the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the fourth season he made an episode that was all about subverting it: "Where the Wild Things Are" was dedicated to exploring a haunted house that punished people for sexual activity.
    • What's weird is that he expressly says in interviews and the DVD commentaries that he created the character Buffy to subvert this (well, the trope of the blonde girl always being killed off in horror films, but he considers the death = punishment for having sex is a part of that trope).
  • Angel frequently had this trope, to the point in one episode in the first season Cordelia was searching for a lesson to learn from the experience and eventually settled on "sex is bad", one which Angel immediately agreed with.
  • Margaret Cho fell victim to this trope while filming her sitcom All-American Girl (1994). The series was based on her life, and Cho wrote in her autobiography how the producers would make her character refuse any and all sexual advances, even situations where she herself would have consented.
  • House had a lot of episodes, especially in the first two seasons where the Disease of the Week was tied in some way to sex, often outside of marriage (affair, unmarried couple, etc), or thought to be at some point in the episode. This culminated in a second season episode called, naturally enough, Sex Kills.
  • This seemed to be part of the general theme of Robin Hood. There are only two people that definitely had sex on the show: Guy of Gisborne with a serving maid, and one half of an Abel And Cain pair of brothers (naturally, the evil one). But apart from that, both Robin and Marian were portrayed as being sexually attracted to the Gisborne siblings: Guy and Isabella. They are both punished severely for their "lust".
    • Marian is eventually murdered by Guy in a death scene that is deliberately filled with sexual symbolism, and which creator Dominic Mingella calls "the consummation of Guy and Marian." After Marian's death, Robin finds himself in a Love Triangle with Isabella and Kate, who embody the Madonna/Whore stereotype. Isabella sucks on strawberries, carries money in her garter, wears seductive red dresses, and has escaped an abusive marriage. Kate is a peasant virgin with a crush on Robin who instinctively distrusts Isabella. Naturally, Isabella turns out to be evil, revealed after she tries and fails to lure Robin away from his calling as a hero to the people. She eventually murders him. Lesson: if you're sexually attracted to someone, they will kill you.
  • Vaal forbade love and sex to his primitive subjects in "The Apple" episode on T.O.S..
  • In the "Hook Man" (S01, Ep07) episode of Supernatural, Lori's date, who gets a little fresh, and her roommate, who was promiscuous, are killed by the titular Hook Man. Turns out the Hook Man kills whoever Lori thinks deserves punishment (unbeknownst to her).
  • Characters' tendency to link sex and sin is a running theme of Night and Day, but as an in-universe phenomenon, it's frequently played for laughs. It’s most overtly exemplified by Frankie, who is in denial about sex to the degree that she founds a Virgin Army, dedicated to excising racy passages from Victorian novels. Other characters frequently display hang-ups about sex and morality – not least Rachel, Kate, Ryan, Mike, Natalie, and Sam. That said, the show also features plenty of not-for-laughs references to the dark side of sexuality, for example including Parental Incest as a central plot point.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate II allows you to romance party members. Sex with them has an even split on negative consequences. The final dialogue for Jaheira's takes place between you and her the morning after, and the only one where coupling appears before the end of the relationship at all is with Viconia, an evil character. Meanwhile, if you sleep with Aerie, it breaks the romance. The expansion allows Good People to Have Good Sex, plus you can convert Viconia from The Dark Side and impregnate Aerie.

  • Surprisingly, this seems to be the moral of Sexy Losers, though it's a bit more complex than most instances of this trope. The characters who engage in sex aren't (usually) evil at heart, but as they become obsessed with getting more and more sex, they become less and less interested in who they're having sex with, treating others only as tools (or more accurately, blow-up dolls.) In one case, it's been openly stated that a character will die alone and unloved unless he can learn how to actually love people and not just lust after them.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl features a sex ed teacher who thinks this way. Her (middle school) class all agrees that she needs to get laid.
  • In Sinfest, this was subtly implied before becoming downright blasted with the Sisterhood and the Devil with his succubi. It's telling the only couple, the redeemed devil girl Fuschia and pillar of virtue Criminy are chaste (though it's implied Fuschia teases Criminy).

    Web Original 
  • The Erotic Mind Control Story Archive: a rather populous sub-genre of stories where the sexual act is the method of a corrupting, controlling force. Also found if you poke around its host/ sister site (NSFW) in the stories of Stephen Gray and others. The application of the trope in the stories ranges from cheesy bordering on parody (intentional or not) to downright Nightmare Fuelwhich may be just your thing.
  • This attitude (in regards to the Christian culture of sexual purity) is deconstructed here.
  • Kakos Industries treats sex as a commodity the Good people of the world abandoned and can't have back. The members of the cooperation are more than happy to exploit their incredibly aggressive sex drives, almost always looking for new ways to get themselves off with whoever they want, whenever they want.
  • Several 2020's era Doge memes show the Doge beating people with a cudgel and throwing them in prison for posting risque content, with a scream of "No horny! Go to horny jail!"

    Western Animation 
  • The South Park episode "Good Times with Weapons" left Butters with a shuriken stuck in his eye, but none of the adults (except arguably Butters' parents) cared — they were more concerned with Cartman's naked walk across the stage at an auction that most of the town was watching. Stan hit the nail on the head: "Parents don't give a crap about violence when there's sex stuff to worry about."
  • Family Guy: "If you have sex, you're automatically in Al Qaeda."
  • Three of the Lost Commandments on Moral Orel:
    • Number 11: Thou shalt be ashamed of thy natural anatomy.
    • Number 12: Thou shalt only have sex face-to-face, man on top.
    • Number 19: Thou shalt not masturbate.