One of the HelloGiggles editors, Chrissa, posted this tweet last Thursday, kicking off a Twitter discussion of TV bad boys between the two of us and fellow HelloGiggles contributors Erin, Sam and Gina. The conversation lasted for roughly two hours and covered important issues such as: Who from Saved By The Bell was the “bad boy”? Can blonde dudes be considered bad boys? Does Roger Klotz qualify even though he’s green and animated? By the end of the 30-tweet-thread, we had compiled a list of roughly twenty fictional television characters that, per our expertise, qualified as bad boys. After paring down the list to ten, I was left with a topic for this week’s piece.
These fictional fellas are the Sour Patch Kids of the television world. They do awful things like cheat and steal, but then they do something sweet and adorable, like make breakfast in bed and cry on your shoulder about their awful childhood, and all is forgiven. It’s not their fault they’re trouble, they just need someone to show them they’re worthy of love. They are lost puppies and we just want to take them home and fix them up. They create unrealistic expectations for real life bad boys and set the bar too high for the good guys. From their smouldering glances to their criminal records, everything about them makes me nervous. So… here we go.
1. Tim Riggins, Friday Night Lights
Let’s start with the man who inspired it all. Tim is a borderline-alcoholic high school football player who likes to hit people on and off the field. Despite all his anger issues and self-destructive habits, Tim genuinely means well and will sacrifice his happiness for those he loves. He hasn’t had the easiest life and all I want is for him to be okay, living happily ever after in Texas. Forever.
2. James “Sawyer” Ford, LOST
Or as Chrissa so brilliantly referred to him, “Island Riggins”. Sawyer is/was (I’m still not sure what was happening with the timeline on that show) a con artist. He lies, steals and breaks hearts professionally. Yet, whenever it comes down to choosing a side, I am Team Sawyer all the way. He has a heartbreaking family history and a talent for creating witty nicknames. Swoon.
3. Logan Echolls, Veronica Mars
Logan terrifies me, because no matter what this fictional rich boy does, I still love him. I’m talking terrible, awful things like organizing bum fights and slipping roofies into people’s drinks. Logan is a huge jerk, yet… nothing he does changes my opinion of him. Duncan, Deputy Leo, even Piz were solid good guys, yet the hopeless romantic in me wanted V to end up with Logan. Logan has a spell on me that is powerful and unbreakable.
4. Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries
When we first meet Damon, he has a habit of compelling underage girls and using them as play things. I tend to cut him some slack because he’s dead and all, but even for a vampire, he’s a complete psychopath. The thing is, he’s an underdog and there’s nothing I love more than a good underdog. He’s constantly coming in second to Stefan and he acts like a jerk because everyone expects him to act like a jerk. He’s damaged and needy and so much more interesting than Stefan. I think the thing that makes me most nervous about Damon is that I just wrote this paragraph about Damon, a fictional vampire on a CW show. I’ve officially lost the right to make fun of Twilight fans, haven’t I?
5. Crosby Braverman, Parenthood
When the show started, Crosby lived on a house boat, did laundry at his parent’s house and was hiding his newly discovered son from his then girlfriend who was begging him to commit. Crosby has screwed up over and over throughout the show’s run, but we quickly realize that his poor decisions are made out of fear and insecurity. He never means to hurt anyone, people just get caught in the crossfire of his self-destruction. Crosby grows immensely over the course of the series, showing us that bad boys can change, which is a problem because then we expect all bad boys to be capable of change.
6. Pacey Witter, Dawson’s Creek
Pacey is definitely the bad boy on the creek. He sleeps with his 36-year-old english teacher, gets detention for masturbating in school, gets in fist fights, spits in a teacher’s face, etc. He’s a class clown who doesn’t do well academically. He thinks he’s a loser, because his family is constantly telling him he’s a loser. The more we know Pacey the more we love Pacey, because in addition to being tough and funny, Pacey is sweet and lovable. We forget all the gross stuff he does, because he has that smile and those eyes and he names his sail boat “True Love” and it’s just awwwwwwwwww.
7. Ryan Atwood, The O.C.
Ryan wears leather jackets and white tank tops, so we KNOW he’s a bad boy. He is headed down a long and troublesome road, when Sandy Cohen pulls him from the dark side. He is almost literally a lost puppy when the Cohens take in. They care for him and have faith in him and despite multiple setbacks throughout the series (his mom abandoning him, his brother trying to rape his girlfriend, his girlfriend shooting his brother, his girlfriend dying), Ryan makes it through and achieves his dream of becoming an architect. It is a rags to riches story: From Chino to UC Berkeley. In high school I always hoped one of my friends’ families would take in a cute criminal for us to fix up.
8. Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad
I was hesitant to include Jesse in this list because I am only halfway through season three. So I don’t know exactly where Jesse ends up or how I will feel about him once I catch up. However, right now he just fell in love, cooked some eggs, lost the woman he loved and went to rehab. So, I’m really rooting for Pinkman at the moment. The thing that’s different about him is that he’s not a reformed bad boy. Sure he’s clean, but he’s still a drug dealer and I’m kind of cool with that. Jesse makes me question my standards.
9. Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls
Jess was the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. His mother couldn’t handle him and shipped him off to live with his uncle Luke. Jess was too cool for school, literally. He stopped going to school in order to work at a hardware store. The most intriguing thing about Jess though, was how well-read and smart he was. Jess gave me the impression that all the bad boys in my high school were secretly smart, just hiding it to appear cool. They were not.
10. Daniel Desario, Freaks & Geeks
Daniel Desario is a burnout who has very little ambition. My favorite Daniel moment is when he tells Lindsay how he wishes he was good at school, how he wishes he wasn’t dumb, but he was put in “Track 3, for the dumb kids” when he was in sixth grade. He breaks down into tears at the memory of being told that he was dumb at age eleven. After Lindsay agrees to go along with him, he gives the same exact speech to the principal. Daniel isn’t dumb. He’s a manipulative genius. He promises if you do what he asks he will try harder and do better and you believe him because you really really want to think you can be the one to fix him. Daniel is what happens to us after we’ve fallen for all the other TV bad boys before him.