Top Ten Reasons to Love a Bad Boy

What is it about the bad boy? Every time one shows up on the page our hearts race and we just have to know more.  I don’t know about you, but it’s one of our favorite tropes to pick apart.  So let’s get to it!

1. It’s forbidden. Sometimes we want something because we’ve been told we can’t have it.  A little ill-advised curiosity can go a long way.

2. The mystery. What has he done that makes him so bad?  Who is he, really?  A good bad boy is like a puzzle you can’t resist trying to solve.

3. The angst. The buried past.  The secret pain. Whatever is behind those walls of his, we want to break them down to find out!

4. The trust. When the heroine (and reader) are finally let in on the bad boy’s secret, nothing feels more valuable than his trust, since it’s not freely given.

5. They’re usually alpha. Bad boys tend to be confident, self-reliant and dominant.  Combined with his mystique, he can’t help but catch the heroine’s eye.

6. The soft side. When the hero is a bad boy, his moments of sensitivity and concern are that much more powerful!

7. He’s fearless. This is usually a character who has been through hell and back – and would gladly do it all again for his heroine.

8. The risk. The stakes are often high for both the hero and the heroine – will he betray her?  Can she take the heat?  But a high risk can mean a high payoff and is that much more satisfying for the reader.

9. Deep connection. A well written bad boy, like an anti-hero, is usually a complicated character, but this can mean an even stronger shared connection between him and the heroine when that hard-won connection is finally made.

10. Redemption. The key part of a loveable bad boy is that he’s redeemable. He has to walk a long road to get there, but the best bad boys are always worth the journey and always come through for their heroine.

Can’t resist the bad boy either? Tell us why in the comments!


8 replies on “Top Ten Reasons to Love a Bad Boy”

Not my cup of tea, because they almost never work out in real life. I know the fantasy of fiction allows a person to indulge without danger, but I cannot suspend my disbelief for the Bad Boy romance. Besides the extreme risk of a broken heart, there’s also the extreme risk of raising a child alone, or at least without financial assistance.

Good-morning, editors! I am not sure it is the issue of ‘unable to resist a bad boy’ as much as wanting to know/understand what made him that way. Human nature defaults to the past every time, whether it is environment or heredity, or just events in that person’s life. All can make for a deeper POV, but the trick is learning just how much the reader wants to know. My characters are fully fleshed-out in my mind. The why’s and wherefores are all there, but I’ve been told I need to make my characters more ‘sympathetic’. So, I am attempting to add more of what is in my head to the story and try my best not to overload it with too much drama. Any hints on how to do that, and not add too much backstory, would be a great bog post from y’all. Thanks for everything you’re doing for us. 🙂

Attraction depends on the individual bad boy. Too many, for me, are cardboard cut-outs. I’m not at all interested in the kind who pulled legs off spiders as a kid, but the right blend of a sympathetic backstory, empathetic actions, and a dose of devil-may-care can be very alluring. I think the key is that the character(s) have to have the ability to show empathy. All major characters have to evolve and change through the story, to acknowledge their past and emerge more self-aware by the end of the story. As your article says, redemption is key. You can’t start with a sociopath or psychopath and suddenly have them learn empathy. Now matter how great their epiphany, that’s not credible (or socially responsible). There has to be some evidence that the character is redeemable, then the story becomes about their growth, their self-awareness and, of course, in romantic fiction, that depends on a strong female lead.

I think it would make a great novel to reverse the roles, and give some of those bad-boy traits to the female lead, and have the hero be the one to bring out her better nature. Also, it’s important to show the change in behaviour (empathy and self-awareness) goes beyond romantic couple and extend that behaviour towards others, even if it’s a select few. Having someone’s good/kind behaviour hinge on a single person is not a healthy relationship.
As a side note, I’ll be watching Casablanca this weekend – redemption of a bad-boy against the backdrop of war and the greater good. Awesome movie.

Ha! I watched that movie so many times as a kid. I would cry every time at the airplane scene. Not sure how I’d feel if I watched it again after all these years. Kind of like how I cried at the original The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (Rex Harrison was the studly ghost). I still cry in the final scene where he comes to take her into the afterlife with him. I love tear-jerkers. Lol.

Yep, I thought Casablanca would be a great Friday night movie to watch with my kids. Watching a movie with so many layers is part of a modern classical education. 😉 It’s interesting that it was filmed in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor and 2 years before D-day. Context is everything.
I’ve only seen The Ghost and Mrs. Muir once, a long time ago.

I’ve always loved good bad boys. I’m thinking Danny from Grease, any of the guys from The Outsiders, Eddie from Eddie and the Cruisers, Patrick from 10 Things I hate about You, and many, many others. I also married a bad boy turned pastor. 😉

I’m currently in the middle of plotting a story and had a bit of a snag, but I think you helped me out.

Thanks for the inspiration.

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