Bad Boys or Boy Scouts?

What type of men do women fantasize about?  Bad boys usually top the list.  The dark, brooding types have an air of mystery about them that we just have to unlock.  Plus they’re dangerous.  There is something alluring about risk, and in fiction it’s all the better because there are no consequences for the reader.  We can fall in love with those abrasive, sexy guys in the safety of those pages (or film) and return to life as normal when we close the book, having vicariously experienced the thrill of adventure.  The Bad Boy archetype is certainly more prominent in fiction than his counterpart, the Boy Scout.

Bones (Night Huntress series)

Bones is the dark, sexy vampire with his own agenda and a devilish approach to sex.  As with many bad boys, there’s something appealing about him: hints of sweetness underneath that thick layer of bad ass.  Would you want a real relationship with him?  Probably not, unless you fancied pain.  But you’re the reader, which makes jumping into bed with him safe and temporarily satisfying.

Damon Salvatore (Vampire Diaries)

Dark, sometimes evil, and witty vampire with piercing eyes.  Oh yeah, he’s delicious.  But then he can go and surprise us with moments of heroism, which makes us believe there is good in him, if only the right girl can draw it out.

Not to list only vampire bad boys (though that does seem to be the best or most popular form this archetype takes), let’s also mention:

Captain Mal Reynolds (Firefly)

This captain’s line of work is anything but legit most of the time, and he’s not afraid to throw a punch or fire off a few rounds.  Yet he also has a sense of nobility and honor.  Being an ex-soldier, he knows loyalty and nobody messes with his crew.  He may have unscrupulous business practices, but he has limits on what he will and will not do.  Dangerous, yet honorable.  Now that’s a combination.


The Boy Scout, though apparently outnumbered, is not extinct in fiction.  There’s also something alluring in undiluted devotion and sweet affection.  The knight in shining armor persona has his place.  In a world of darkness and betrayal, there is something safe and fulfilling in the ever faithful and dependable Boy Scout, the ideal man a woman can spend her whole life looking for in the real world and never find.  Divorce rates are high, marriages are not expected to last a lifetime, and more and more children emerge from broken homes.  Yes, we secretly love danger, but we also long for the stability we believe we’ll never have.

Marcus O’Malley (Dee Henderson’s The O’Malley series)

Really, all the men in Dee Henderson’s books are Boy Scouts.  Marcus is a US marshal dedicating his life to protecting high profile figures.  He’s loyal to his family and those he cares about, to the point that when he gets a call from any of his siblings, he will drop what he’s doing and rush over.  How many women would love if their husbands  put them above their work?

Leopold (Kate and Leopold)

Time traveling romances make use of the good boy persona more easily as honor and decorum is expected of men from the past.  Leopold is a man of 1870, and though he might be considered a bit of a rogue in his time since he refuses to conform and marry a rich American, by today’s standards he is definitely a gentleman.  He treats Kate with respect, and when he attempts to film a commercial for her, he refuses to compromise his standards by promoting a product he finds disgusting.  Kate obviously falls for this chivalry, knowing she’ll never find equal in her own era.

Seeley Booth (Bones)

Here is a fine sample of a Boy Scout who is both tough and sexy.  Booth follows the rules, doesn’t compromise his values, and has a sense of honor.  He’d never cheat on you, never put his work above his loved ones, and never break your heart (intentionally).  He is dependable.

So what about you? Do you prefer the Bad Boys or the Boy Scouts?  Or do you find both meet a deep need at various times in your life?  Who’s your favorite Bad Boy or Boy Scout character?

24 comments on “Bad Boys or Boy Scouts?

  1. amber says:

    Given the specific options you listed, I’m a Captain Mal girl all the way.

    Yes, he is a little bit of a bad boy, but more out of necessity than anything else. And while his thieving may seem bad, he does have a sense of what is right and is fiercely loyal and protective of his crew.

    I like him best since he seems to be the closest to a combination of bad boy/boy scout.

  2. I love the good boys 🙂 The bad boys have a place in my heart too, but the good boys always win me over!

    I love the geeky boys too, but they are usually the good boys. I would pick Simon over Jace any day (Mortal Instruments series).

  3. Why am I not surprised Amber chose Captain Mal?

    I’m usually a bad-boy kinda girl – and Damon is my boyfriend (if that answers your question). Although, I do find myself ooing over the boy scout occasionally when his name is Seeley Booth!

  4. Katy says:

    I have to say I’m a definite fan of the bad boys. I just can’t help it! I do love captain Mal…

  5. Katy says:

    Only because I just finished season 7! Now, if I’m watching season 2, it’s another story entirely 😉

  6. Stacy Green says:

    I like bad boys, but I’m all about Booth. I love his character-he’s good but has a darker side. There are times when he comes close to loosing it, but integrity always wins. And Boreanaz is perfect for the role

    • “Boreanaz is perfect for the role”–that he is. And he certainly shows that being a Boy Scout doesn’t have to mean being a wimp. Thanks for commenting, Stacy! 🙂

  7. Catie Rhodes says:

    Give me a choice, and I’ll always pick the Bad Boy. When Lost was on TV, I was in love with Sawyer. The meaner he was, the more I liked him. As established in my reply to Tiffany’s comment, Damon Salvatore is my boyfriend. He’s a hero underneath all the mean stuff.

    Maybe this is why I liked Pulp Fiction so much. They were all bad guys. LOL

  8. Author Kristen Lamb says:

    I totally married an Eagle Scout. I’ve had a crush on Agent Boothe since the series began. Great post!

  9. Diana L says:

    Oh gods! Booth or Mal. Totally hard call. At first, I was typing that my vote goes to Booth. I admire his black and white morality and his honorable nature but as I was thinking about it, Mal’s just as honorable in a world that is filled with shades of gray. Plus he’s played by Nathan Fillion. 😉 So… MAL!

  10. Give me a bad boy over a boy scout any day! But it has to be a bad boy with a sensitive side…has to be. Damon Salvatore is a perfect example. He’s pretty much my most favorite bad boy ever at this point.

  11. Lesann says:

    I’m such a sucker for the bad boys. I married a reformed one and benefited from letting someone else do all the hard work. I got smarter as I got older. Live and learn. Hilarious post.

  12. I’m with Ashley. Definitely a bad boy with a hint of good that he saves only for me. (Big sigh) Okay…where was I?

  13. Those bad boys are just so darn sexy. But, the boy scouts like Booth always win my heart in the end. 🙂

  14. Susan A. says:

    I completely understand why women love Damon Salvatore. Too bad Elena has him on screen and she is actually dating him offscreen. They looked so cute together in the Paris photos released a little while back. Out of all the bad boys listed, Bones woul have to be my favorite. Well, most likely, I love Vlad from the same series.

    As for boy scouts, Michael Scofield would have to be my guy. He was amazing in that show!

    In reference to my third option I tweeted you about Angela, “forbidden” would be category number three. That is what my hubby was. He is a wonderful man with a great heart, yet both our families and countries did not want to see us together. We didn’t let their opinions stop us though. It was worth the ridiculous amount of adversity we initially faced. Eighteen months of seperation, but eventually we won the battle to be together.

  15. Susan A. says:

    Oops, forgot to say for those that don’t know, Michael Scofield was the main character on Prison Break.

    • Thanks for clarifying, Susan! I didn’t know who he was.

      I’ve been thinking about the “forbidden” category and who would fall into it. Romeo and Juliet types for sure. Angels and mortals. I might have to do another post on that one. 🙂

  16. Bad Boys, definitely :D. I wouldn’t know what to do with a Boy Scout…

    Bad Boys have always some good parts too, anyway.

    But I liked Leopold too 🙂

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