The male choices in female-centered love triangle usually comes with two archetypes: the kind-hearted, safe Gentleman and the edgy, dangerous Scoundrel. The Gentleman is a good guy: honest, upright, and noble. The Scoundrel is an outsider to the heroine's world (most of the time), dangerous and wild. It is a love triangle between a heroine and Noble Male, Roguish Male: a man who is safe versus a man who is exciting.
The Gentleman is likely someone the heroine has known previously, the kind of man who represents the safety of her youth and home. The Scoundrel has a dangerous spark that attracts her into his world. That kind of danger is usually emotional in nature—the heroine risks a wild and unstable relationship with him, especially in contrast to the relative dependability of the Gentleman. Parents will favor the Gentleman and discourage dalliance with the Scoundrel, regardless of personality.
A discretionary angle features the heroine committing to a lifestyle via a man: choosing traditionalism vs passion or lasting happiness vs transient excitement. In these cases, one of the two men will almost always have a clearly undesirable personality. If the poorer character seems to fit the patterns of Gentleman better (or vice versa), the trope is Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor.
Unlike with Betty and Veronica, the heroine often chooses early or midway into the story, and who she ends up with is usually dependent on the length of the work and how early she made a choice. If a choice is made very early, the heroine is more likely to end up with with that first choice after several setbacks with him. If the choice is made mid-way, then it was the Wrong Guy First. Otherwise be prepared for a while of agonizing UST and Will They or Won't They?.
Bear in mind that not every love triangle with two men is going to fit.
- In Naruto, there's Sakura who seems to be choosing between Naruto (the Gentleman) and Sasuke (the Scoundrel). Sakura never loved Naruto romantically, so once Sasuke straightens-up his act, she goes for him. Naruto falls in love with Hinata and marries her.
- Gakuen Alice: Mikan has Ruka (the Gentleman) and Natsume (the Scoundrel).
- Shugo Chara!: Amu has Tadase (the Gentleman) and Ikuto (the Scoundrel).
- Fruits Basket: Tohru has Yuki, a stoic princely type who is always polite to Tohru, and Kyo, a hotblooded delinquent who tends to insult Tohru at first. She only meets Yuki a short time before Kyo, and that's befgore it's shown that both guys are more complex than it seems.
- Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura has Yukito (the Gentleman) and Syaoran (the Scoundrel). Played with in the end: Yukito ended up with Sakura's brother, and by the time Sakura fell for Syaoran, he was far more of a Gentleman than a Bad Boy.
- In the anime, Syaoran has Sakura (Gentleman) and Meiling (Scoundrel). Again, Sakura and Syaoran get together, and shortly before that Meiling says "I Want My Beloved to Be Happy!".
- Kitchen Princess: Najika has Sora (the Gentleman) and Daichi (the Scoundrel).
- Vampire Knight: Yuuki has Kaname (the Gentleman) and Zero (the Scoundrel). However, the roles could potentially be switched. Zero is her "safe, comfortable friend", while Kaname is the exotic one that she believes she literally can't have.
- Prétear seems to set this up between Himeno, Sasame (a good listener, explains things to Himeno) and Hayate (troubled, acts like a jerk who wants nothing to do with Himeno), especially in the manga. The anime is more... complicated. Note that she meets them both at the same time, and that in the manga they are presented as equal candidates. In the anime, well. Again, it's complicated.
- In Peach Girl, Momo spent years with a crush on the chivalrous and polite Toji, until she finally gets him. They guy helping her out on the way is Kairi, a lecherous, school-skipping bad boy she discovers she now has feelings for. Throughout the series she bounces back and forth between them, until finally she ends up with Kairi.
- Princess Tutu plays with this trope in a way that approaches Cyclical Trope levels. First, we have Fakir (the Tsundere Scoundrel) and Mytho (the Gentleman) for Ahiru. However , their roles are subverted in the second season with Fakir as the the Gentleman to the Raven Prince Mytho's Scoundrel. On the other hand, while Ahiru seems The Betty to Rue's Veronica... Rue's certainly The Betty to Princess Tutu's Veronica for Mytho. And if we bring Princess Kraehe in this, this starts all over again. Plus, Autor could be the Gentleman for Rue while Mytho is the Scoundrel.
- The one-episode Love Triangle from Kaleido Star had Sarah choosing between Kalos as the Gentleman, and Andy as the Scoundrel. Sarah chooses Kalos — in fact, she had chosen him quite a while before and that's why she had stayed in the Stage in the first place. Andy never really stood a chance, and he immediately acknowledges it.
- Another genderflipped example: In Eden of the East, Osugi (Betty) and Takizawa (Scoundrel) to Saki's Archie.
- Blue Exorcist; Shiemi appears to be liked by both the lead protagonist Rin, a Delinquent Hot-Blooded Anti Anti Christ, and his twin younger brother Yukio, an absurdly young, very polite teacher who has known Shiemi for many years.
- However, Rin is ultimately a true Nice Guy potential House Husband who is very considerate of Shiemi despite his No Social Skills while Yukio has various issues that results in him using Shiemi as a Living Emotional Crutch and is cripplingly shy in regards to Shiemi, as well as dealing with some Fantastic Racism that is partially internalized due to his heritage. In short, Yukio's Gentleman Facade hides someone who's increasingly unstable due to the pressures he gets put on him and puts on himself, while Rin's Scoundrel Facade is more from a lack of true experience at being an gentleman. So both fall under both options for Shiemi ultimately, as both are Nice Guys and both are dangerous in different ways.
- Inuyasha: As a potential love interest for Kagome, the title character is usually the Scoundrel in comparison to characters such as Hojo (although in Koga's first appearance, he sort of fills the Gentleman role).
- In Full Metal Panic!, Leonard tries invoking this against his perceived rival in Kaname's affections, Sousuke, presenting himself as the princely Gentleman and painting Sousuke as not merely the Scoundrel, but a dangerous, feral animal. He has absolutely no success with this strategy (being the Big Bad sure doesn't help), to the point that Sousuke almost comes off as the wholesome Boy Next Door in comparison.
- One example was a long-running Love Triangle with Jean Grey, Cyclops (the Gentleman), and Wolverine (the Scoundrel). Cyclops was the square-jawed, righteous leader of the team who had been with Jean since the beginning. Wolverine was the short, hairy Anti-Hero who had a smoking, drinking, and killing problem.
- The love triangle between Havok, Polaris, and Iceman has Havok as the Scoundrel and Iceman as the Gentleman. Havok and Polaris have been through hell and back together since the earliest days of the comic.
- For a brief time, Rogue, she had the polite and sincere Magneto clone, Joseph, as the Gentleman and the dangerous charming thief Gambit as the Scoundrel. Eventually, she then she has Gambit as the Gentleman, who was the traditional choice that had a lasting love for her, and Magneto, the Scoundrel, former super villain.
- In Uncanny X-Force, Psylocke had to choose between the gentleman Archangel (an honorable, decent, superhero and Honest Corporate Executive) and the scoundrel Fantomex (a roguish, mysterious, master thief and mercenary). She started the series having reignited her long-term relationship with Archangel, but was aware that his Super-Powered Evil Side might become a problem; eventually it took over and she was forced to kill him. She then dated Fantomex for a while, but eventually realized that he was manipulating her, and dumped him. After which he, too, turned evil until she gave him a psychic lobotomy.
- This 1960's romance comic. Our heroine Vicki is torn between boring, dependable Laurence and exciting bad boy Allen. In the end she chooses... Chris, when she realizes that the reason she couldn't choose was because neither of them was her perfect guy.
- Disney's Pocahontas presents a lifestyle choice with the steady home-building Kocuom, choice of her father (the Gentleman), and the native-killing foreigner John Smith (the Scoundrel). She does not end up with either, as Kocoum dies and John Smith must go back to England, but her choice lies with John.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean Elizabeth must choose between Jack (the Scoundrel) and Will (the Gentleman). Since Elizabeth chooses Will early, she ends up with him after some amount of flirtation with Jack.
- Star Wars: Princess Leia Organa has a brief love triangle with good-hearted, loyal, and friendly farmboy/Jedi Luke Skywalker as the Gentleman. Roguish, rough, and experienced Han Solo is the Scoundrel. Rather luckily (given the later revelation that she was Luke's Long Lost Sibling), she chose Han. Bonus points in Empire for Leia actually calling Han a scoundrel, and Han saying he likes the sound of it. And then teasing Leia later on by calling Lando as a scoundrel as well.
Han: You like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life.
Leia: I happen to like nice men.
Han: I'm a nice man.
Leia: No, you're not. You're...
- Subverted in Not Another Teen Movie, where Janey, having to choose between Jake (The Jock who dates her only because of a bet with his Jerk Jock buddy) and Ricky (the annoying, whiny loser of a "friend"), chooses the former, causing him to have a change of heart, while the latter remains an annoying whiny loser.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula has (although Bram Stoker's Dracula does not) a version with Mina chooses between Dracula as the Scoundrel and her much more average fiance Jonathan as the Gentleman. Dracula dies, but it is not made entirely certain that Mina goes back to Jonathan.
- The 2010 Rupert Grint movie Cherrybomb, with Michelle having to choose between the (relatively) safe and dependable Malachy (Gentleman) and the rebellious, dashing Luke (Scoundrel).
- In The Notebook Allie has to choose between Lon Hammond Jr., a dashing young lawyer who is funny, charming, sophisticated, and comes from old Southern Money or the local country boy Noah Calhoun who threatens to jump off of the Ferris wheel if she doesn't go on a date with him and constantly fights fights with her.
- In His Girl Friday, Hildy is to choose between gentleman Bruce and scoundrel Walter. Fits the trope to a t, seeing how she ends up with the man she originally chose, Walter, after divorcing him and starting her relationship with Bruce.
- As in the comics, happens in X-Men Film Series. There's a minor one with Bobby/Rogue/Pyro, with Bobby as the gentleman and Pyro as the scoundrel. The more central Scott/Jean/Logan comes complete with lampshade hanging.
Jean: Girls flirt with the dangerous guy, Logan. They don't take him home.
- Played with in The Alice Network. The main character, Eve, sleeps with both Captain Cameron (the Gentleman), An Officer and a Gentleman, and M. Bordelon (the Scoundrel), a profiteer and Man of Wealth and Taste. However, it's never a choice between them — Eve actively despises Bordelon and only sleeps with him because she needs the information — and she doesn't end up with either one in the end.
- This is a common theme throughout the novels of Jane Austen, of the heroine being torn between a dependable, caring man and a libertinish cad. She will always choose the former, but Austen will keep you guessing as to who it is.
- Sense and Sensibility: With Marianne choosing between Brandon (the Gentleman) and Willoughby (the Scoundrel)
- Pride and Prejudice: With Elizabeth, Darcy is the Gentleman and Wickham is the Scoundrel.
- Mansfield Park: With Fanny, Edmund is the Gentleman and Henry is the Scoundrel.
- Emma: With Emma, George Knightley is the Gentleman and Frank Churchill is the Scoundrel.
- In Harry Potter, the trope is Played With in the Lily/Snape/James triangle:
- From Snape's perspective, he was always the Gentleman: the childhood friend who dearly loved the gentle Lily despite of her heritage, and James was the Scoundrel, an arrogant showoff.
- From James' perspective, he is the Gentleman: he comes from a good family and barring his mutual animosity with Snape, he gets along well with most people. He saw Snape as the Scoundrel: someone with a negative personality and chooses to affiliate himself with unsavory individuals whose core belief system includes discrimination in the type of people Lily is.
- With Lily, she was somewhat mercurial with James though there were hints she was attracted to him while she did have her friendship with Snape. While James eventually cooled down and stopped being so cocky, Snape continued associating with those who would become Death Eaters and by fifth year, Lily ceased being friends with him. By seventh year, she was going out with James, with her choosing the Gentleman and Snape the Scoundrel.
- In Stephanie Meyer's Twilight saga, Edward is the Scoundrel, and Jacob is the Gentleman. While Jacob is more forceful and direct than the well-mannered Edward, Edward's life invited danger and death into her life, and was the choice her parents couldn't stand, while Jacob is the old friend boy-next-door who dependably offers Bella emotional support.
- Bridget Jones: Bridget Jones's Diary plays this fairly straight between Mark Darcy (Gentleman) and Daniel Cleaver (Scoundrel). The film version even describes them as "too good to be true" and "so wrong he might just be right," respectively. By the end of the books, Mark has won, although when Helen Fielding continued the column, apparently Bridget was still torn between them and even ends up having Daniel's baby.
- In the Stephanie Plum series, the protagonist of the same name is caught in a love triangle between her childhood friend Joe Morelli and the more mysterious Ranger.
- In The Hunger Games, Katniss' original choice was not between a Gentleman and a Scoundrel, as they were both dependable people. However, as the series progresses, Peeta reveals himself as the Gentleman who cares deeply for Katniss and desires her safety, and Gale the Scoundrel revolutionist who desires to entangle Katniss in that world.
- Wuthering Heights has this as a central theme. Catherine must decide between Heathcliff and Edgar Linton— one a childhood friend with whom she shares a relationship approaching siblinghood, the other the eldest son of a neighboring wealthy family. While Catherine repeatedly asserts that she and Heathcliff are one, her family believes marrying Linton will bring them more prestige, and this is her ultimate choice. Arguably, it is this decision that ultimately kills her, as after a prolonged separation from Heathcliff, seeing him again throws her into a fatal coma presumably from sheer excitement.
- Conversational Troping in Wintersmith, when Tiffany reads a romance novel in which the heroine must choose if she wants to marry William, an honest man with two and a half cows, or Roger, who rides a black stallion and calls her "My proud beauty". Tiffany isn't sure why the character needs to marry either of them.
- In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara's two main love interests are Southern Gentleman Ashley Wilkes and Tall, Dark, and Snarky Rhett Butler. She spends most of the book convinced that Ashley is her one true love even after she marries Rhett for financial security, only to realize in the end (far too late) that she had really loved Rhett all along.
- From Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Early seasons also have Buffy's friend Xander as the Gentleman and the vampire Angel as the Scoundrel.
- While both relatively dangerous, Angel is the original man who ultimately tries to do good and be a good choice for Buffy, and Spike is the dangerous and deadly killer who was fairly remorseless through most of the series due to being soulless. Once he gets himself a soul, while decidedly more moral and selfless with regards to Buffy and in general, Spike retains his thuggish, rockstar-esque swagger and thus the dynamic becomes more akin to Betty and Veronica.
- Ironically, when it was Drusilla in the centre of this triangle rather than Buffy, this dynamic is swapped. While Spike is as amoral as any given vampire, he is also very genuinely devoted and doting to the object of his affections. Compared to Angelus, who is certified Chaotic Evil and completely without remorse or loyalty, even pre-soul Spike comes across as downright gentlemanly.
- Angel example: Fred had to choose between the tough, street-smart former gang leader Gunn (Scoundrel) and the bookish, nerdy Smart Guy Wes (Gentleman). (Ironically in Season 5 these roles are reversed, due to Wesley taking a level in badass and Gunn getting a brain implant). Eventually, she chose her Scoundrel, then broke up with him, turned to her Gentleman, died, became an ancient goddess, nearly killed both of them (one inadvertently), and then Wes died.
- Gilmore Girls: Rory had to choose between boy-next-door Dean (Gentleman) and bad boy Jess (Scoundrel).
- In Veronica Mars, there's several instances of this throughout the entire series. Duncan, the Gentleman, and Logan, the Scoundrel. Piz (Gentleman)-Veronica-Logan (Scoundrel).
- Doctor Who has (or had) Amy between childhood friend and eternally devoted Rory (Gentleman) and the adventurous Doctor (Scoundrel).
- That '70s Show: Donna chooses the nerdy, sweet childhood friend Eric (Gentleman) over the rebellious, tough Hyde (Scoundrel).
- In Season 4 theres also Eric as the Gentleman and Casey Kelso as the Scoundrel.
- From Lost, Kate must choose between noble doctor Jack, the Gentleman, and Southern con-artist Sawyer, as the Scoundrel.
- Les Filles d'à côté has the flat-sharing characters of Daniel and Marc. Daniel is a suave sophisticate in a settled well-paying job with a model girlfriend. His ligger best friend and embarrassing flatmate Marc... isn't.
- The Twilight Zone (1959) Has this scenario in the episode entitled "Spur of the Moment." The story begins with a wealthy young woman named Anne. She is out for a horseback ride and before long she finds herself being chased by a woman she does not recognize. She rides back home in terror and is comforted by her fiance, Robert. (a wealthy banker). Despite being engaged to Robert, Anne is actually in love with an average boy named David. The two elope in the night before she was to marry Robert. Unfortunately for Anne David is an abusive drunk who drains the family's finances to the point that they're being evicted. Heartbroken by this, she mounts a horse and chases what is revealed to be her younger self to deliver a warning. Rod informs the audience that it is a mission that is forever doomed to end in failure.
- Two such relationships in Stranger Things:
- Nancy Wheeler with Steve Harrington and Jonathan Byers, who fit the molds either way. Steve Harrington is a the son of a wealthy and influential family in their small-town of Hawkins, Indiana, is a popular jock who holds parties and has popular friends (Gentleman) while Jonathan Byers tends to spy on other people, comes from a family with a deadbeat dad who left and a Struggling Single Mother, is poor and has second-hand clothing, and is generally looked down upon by his peers. Jonathan is the Gentleman in that he assists Nancy with looking for her friend Barb (along with his little brother), he is very affectionate and close to his brother, he sees Nancy for her capabilities and her person, and comforts her after a scary encounter. Steve reacts badly to Nancy being comforted by Jonathan and to her worries about her best friend] and even after he redeems himself, his relationship with Nancy is revealed to be a sham and she comes clean about it. She then enters a serious relationship with Jonathan at the end of Season 2.
- Nancy's mother Karen with Lazy Husband Ted and Metal Head Billy Hargrove. The latter is young enough to be her son, appears gentlemanly but is actually a racist bully while the former is a mediocre, unimaginative, unhelpful, high earning Lazy Husband who leaves most of the child-rearing to her and their marriage is one of convenience and fulfilling societal expectations. Karen considers meeting Billy for a rendezvous but stops herself and tries harder with her husband, though it looks like the marriage isn't out of the woods.
- Nurse Ida Lenze in Charite is courted by student Georg Tischendorf, a sweet, gallant young Gentleman who can offer her emotional stability and a secured future, and Doctor Emil Behring, a fickle, difficult Scoundrel with a nasty temper, though he's an ambitious and brilliant scientist who challenges Ida and shares a passion for medicine with her. Ida's friend Hedwig advises her to choose Tischendorf, but Ida has doubts, seeing as Behring is the one who supports her plans to study and become a doctor in her own right instead of just a housewife. The trope is not played straight all the time though — Behring has his kind and noble moments, and Tischendorf some increasingly obvious shortcomings such as sexism and racism.
- The Phantom of the Opera has Christine choose between her childhood sweetheart and general Knight in Shining Armor Raoul and the insane, brooding, but more passionate Phantom. Although Word of God says that Christine loves the Phantom the most, in the end she chooses the Safe Option, Raoul.
- Romeo and Juliet: Juliet's decision between her two suitors. Paris courts her in the "proper" way, by asking her father's permission. Romeo crashes her family party with his buddies (who are not welcome there). Paris definitely represents tradition, and Romeo represents passion and danger.
- Elisabeth: Sisi struggles with a choice: life with the kind, noble Emperor Franz Joseph who loves her unconditionally but is too busy with state affairs and being a Mama's Boy to defend her, or suicide/death with the roguish, darkly attractive but cruel Death? She runs into Death's arms and embraces him at the end.
- BioWare is particularly fond of this trope whenever a female has more than one love interest:
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Alistair is the sweet-hearted, noble Gentleman and Zevran is the sex-crazy assassin Scoundrel.
- In Mass Effect 2: Garrus and Jacob are both steady, reliable people (and Garrus is an old friend), while Thane is a dark, mysterious, broody assassin.
- In Dragon Age II, Anders and Fenris are both broody, mysterious, and lead dangerous lives, while Sebastian is a chaste Chantry boy.
- Played with in Dragon Age: Inquisition, however, with its multiple romance options for female player characters. It's more of a sliding scale than a cut-and-dried choice, with Cullen on the Gentleman end and the Iron Bull on the Scoundrel end. Solas and Blackwall fall somewhere in between, although your mileage may vary as to where.
- From Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the quiet medic and old acquaintance Mical is the Gentleman, and Atton Rand is the Han Solo-like Scoundrel smuggler.
- Star Fox: Krystal's love interests are the justice-driven military man and boss Fox, and the womanizing Space Pirate and rival Panther. There was not much of a love triangle in the English translations of Star Fox: Assault and Super Smash Bros. Brawl as Krystal is revolted by Panther until the Downtime Downgrade of Star Fox Command put the boys on even footing.
- A female Sole Survivor in Fallout 4 has a choice between the idealistic Minuteman soldier Preston Garvey or an entire gallery of rogues including the mercenary MacCready, the chem imbibing ghoul Hancock or The Paladin Noble Bigot Danse.
- In Penny and Aggie. Although Penny has dated both Badass Biker Rich and Nice Guy Duane, she finds that she genuinely loves only the former. Thus, when one of her hypothetical future selves urges her to use "common sense" in deciding whether to run away with Rich, this is her sarcastic response:
Ooh, what if he doesn't make six figures? Ooh, what if I want kids and he doesn't? Whiiiine. I better hook up with the nice class president!
- In King of the Hill, Nancy Hicks-Gribble has been carrying on an affair with the Scoundrel, John Redcorn, while married to her Crazy Survivalist husband Dale (the Gentleman), who despite his flaws was very faithful to her and still regards her with affection.
- In ThunderCats (2011): Lion-O (Gentleman) has a crush on Cheetara, which makes his older brother Tygra (Scoundrel) jealous. She had always loved Tygra, so she chooses him.
- In Miraculous Ladybug, Marinette must choose between her schoolmate: the kind, handsome, and incredibly wealthy Adrien Agreste, and her fellow superhero: the flirty, wisecracking Cat Noir. Marinette definitely favors Adrien, but since Adrien doesn't reciprocate her feelings (or rather, he does but he doesn't know he does), the triangle remains open. Er, rectangle? Its complicated.
- In Bojack Horseman, Joseph is keen on his daughter Beatrice marrying Corbin Creamerman (the dull-witted but well meaning Gentleman) for business reasons, but Beatrice ends up falling for Butterscotch Horseman (the Scoundrel in every sense of the word) and chooses to run away with him when she finds out she's pregnant by him. The marriage goes badly, and is a significant source of their son Bojack's neuroses.