Movies like Grease, Dirty Dancing, and She’s All That convinced women everywhere that you could easily turn a bad boy good. In fact, they convinced girls that the only boys worth being with were the ones who needed to be reformed in the first place. They taught us that if we’re just smart enough, interesting enough, and pretty enough, we could change that one guy who’s infamous for getting with every single girl. Unfortunately, the cold, hard truth is that these dudes don’t want to change in real life they’re perfectly happy spending their time swiping right regularly instead of settling down with someone.
Reality Bites Reality Bites was basically catnip for those of us who were completely jaded yet somehow still hopeless romantics. Not only does it deal with struggling millennials before the quarter-life crisis was a thing, but it also stars Ethan Hawke as Troy, the brooding bad boy/musician (but of course) of your fantasies. It also features Winona Ryder, who’s as broke and confused as you are every day. It combines two of the most tension-filled romantic comedy tropes: best friends becoming more and the bad boy becoming better. If you’ve never seen this ’90s gem, you’re missing out on more sulky Hawke than you can handle. “He’s weird, he’s strange, he’s sloppy, he’s a total nightmare for women… I can’t believe I haven’t slept with him yet!” That probably describes every regret you’ve ever been with, right?
Dirty Dancing No heroine was quite as good as Baby. Not only was she beyond innocent, but she was also all of us when she carried that watermelon. While your bad boy is probably a bartender, recovering frat boy, or some type of “artist,” Johnny was a professional dancer/sometimes prostitute for the upper crust.
She’s All That She’s All That taught everyone that once someone takes their glasses off, they’re automatically a hard 10 smoke show, which is one of life’s great lessons. It’s still lol-worthy that anyone would think Rachel Leigh Cook was hideous just because she was rocking a ponytail. Plus, if you go anywhere in Brooklyn, you’ll see the same type of hipster glasses and they’re considered cool, not crazy. Freddie Prinze Jr. fell hard for her once he realized that she was so much more than a pair of glasses and a scrunchie – he even took off all of his clothes for graduation. While grand gestures are romantic, they don’t actually exist in the real world (other than awkward public proposals and unfortunate flash mobs).
A Walk to Remember The beyond bad Shane West did shocking things like climb water towers, while good girl Mandy Moore wore a lot of ugly sweater sets and overalls. The combination wasn’t exactly explosive, but it probably made your middle school self tear up in the movie theater. (Don’t worry, we all did.)
How to Deal In this lesser-known (but far superior) Mandy Moore movie, she falls hard for the ridiculously charming Macon, who has the floppy emo hair and puppy dog eyes that seem like a pre-requisite for high school bad boys in the movies and in real life. It’s based on a combination of Sarah Dessen novels (her characters could all be on this list). Moore portrays a cynical high schooler who doesn’t believe in feelings or true love. While it seems like the typical teen movie, it’s far darker than most — it deals with death and teen pregnancy. There’s tons of teen angst, and Mandy Moore is rocking a pretty heinous haircut – what more could you ask for in an early 2000s rom-com?
Crazy, Stupid, Love Let’s be honest – anyone would try to reform Ryan Gosling. He could be a murderer and girls would still be convinced there was a heart of gold hiding under that stellar six-pack. While Emma Stone has beyond beautiful hair, it’s less than likely that Ryan Gosling, playboy extraordinaire, would’ve fallen so quickly for her.
10 Things I Hate About You Heath Ledger stars as an Australian outcast, and Julia Stiles is a super-feminist who loves ska. At the end of the day, they fall in love over paintball, in a scene that you may or may not have worn out your VCR re-winding to watch over and over again. In reality, Ledger probably would have moved back to Australia and she would’ve gone to Sarah Lawrence and forgotten all about him.
Cruel Intentions This was the most hardcore of all the bad boy movies. In most others, the characters allude to said BB’s misbehavior, which usually includes heavy drinking and heavy petting. In Cruel Intentions, Sebastian is infamous for trying to sleep with his step-sister, defiling virgins, and boning 90% of New York City. Sebastian, a high school senior, makes his way through the Upper East Side (in fact, he gets even more action than Chuck Bass of Gossip Girl fame, who was famous for bedding, well, everybody). To keep up with his conquests, he keeps what basically amounts to a Mean Girls burn book, only even more disgusting. While Reese Witherspoon is beyond gorgeous and the two were together in real life, it’s less than likely that NYC’s resident bad boy would be ready to settle down at 17.
What makes a bad boy?
You’re likely familiar with the “bad boy” persona, but what are the characteristics of these guys that women tend to find so irresistible even when we know they’re probably completely toxic?
They’re total thrill-seekers. Bad boys are always up for an adventure and are never satisfied with the status quo. You wouldn’t be surprised to see them going skydiving or mountain climbing or something else that’s so extreme, the majority of us wouldn’t have the balls. They have courage to spare and are always out to find the next big thing that gets their blood flowing and their heart pounding. It’s actually really sexy.
They have crazy levels of confidence. You’ll never find a bad boy worrying about whether or not he’s good enough and he definitely doesn’t struggle with self-doubt. These guys know what they have to offer the world and they’re not afraid to show it off. They exude an aura of self-assurance that’s actually really nice to be around.
They fly by the seat of their pants. The worst word in these guys’ vocabulary has to be “routine.” They have a spontaneous edge to them that means they’re ready to go at a minute’s notice. In fact, they prefer it that way. Anything too meticulously planned out is a big turn-off to them, and even though being so last-minute can be stressful to many people, they thrive on it.
They don’t mind taking charge. Is there anything sexier than a guy who takes charge? As women, we’re so “on” pretty much 24/7. It’s nice to come home at the end of the day to a man who’s dominant in and out of the bedroom (though not in a jerky way) and is fine taking over. It lifts a weight off your shoulder and allows you to let go, even for a little bit. It’s actually really hot.
They don’t care what anyone thinks of them. You don’t like a bad boy? Oh well, your loss. These guys are not going to lose sleep because someone doesn’t “get” them or actively dislikes them. They have all the friends they need and can easily find more if you’re not interested. It’s really refreshing to see just how little they care about what people think of them. If only we could all be so carefree!
They’re unapologetically themselves. This ties into the earlier ideas of confidence and not caring what anyone else thinks. Those traits allow them to live their authentic lives rather than pretending to be someone they’re not or hiding parts of their personality from the world. What you see is what you get with them, and that’s really refreshing.
They always keep things exciting. You’ll never get bored with a bad boy, that’s for sure. Because he’s against routine and always looking for the next thing to do, being with him is endlessly exciting and fun. You’ll need loads of energy to keep up with him, that’s for sure, but if you can, it’ll be unlike any other relationship you’ve ever had.
They have a weirdly dangerous vibe. Tattoos, piercings, an edgy style… Bad boys tend to have one or all of these things and it sets off some primal urge inside of many of us. There’s no way to explain it – it just is what it is.
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