There are so many interesting bad girl good guy characters to choose from, I had to make another list.
Why are men (and lots of women) so fascinated by them? It’s not because they tend to wear skintight clothing, or revealing clothing, or have some aversion to clothing (although that helps).
It’s not that I’m not complaining about all that stuff. I’m just saying that we’re interested in Naughty Girl Good Guys for more than their bodies. There’s something about that woman (or man, of course, but that’s a different entry) who on the one hand you can’t take home to mom but on the other hand you know will save your mom when the aliens invade.
Anyway, here’s the list:
Catwoman from DC Comics
The evidence is in the super hot hotties that have played her on screen, from Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Barry to Julie Newmarr and Eartha Kitt. A bad girl that’s so sexy, she’s been Batman’s love-interest-slash-rival since Batman #1.
But (as with all naughty girl good guys) it’s the personality that gets us. Whether it means breaking the law or fighting Batman to a standstill, she blazes her own path. With Catwoman on the job, that rob from the rich and give to the poor thing never gets old. Actually, it does get kind of old, but not as quickly when Catowman is on the job.
Emma Frost from Marvel Comics
If you do a word association game with your girlfriend, don’t let her say “Emma Frost,” because you’ll respond with “exposed panties” and it’s hard to recover from that kind of thing. But just because that’s the first thing everyone thinks about, it doesn’t mean that’s the only thing. Take away her Fredrick’s of Hollywood fashion sense, and you still have one of the most fascinating telepaths in fiction.
First off, she’s almost as powerful as Professor X in the mind reading department. But there is one major difference (besides that she has hair) between Frost and X: she is honest about her dishonesty.
Sure, she’ll use her mental powers to seduce an ally’s husband when nobody’s looking. And yes, she’s been known to train and lead some of the deadliest bad guys the X-Men have faced. But what makes it so hot is that she is totally up front about the fact that she’s bad. In the end, of course, she’ll stand up for what’s right. And she’ll do it with that ruthlessness only a bad girl good guy can pull off.
Starbuck / Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica
By the end of the second season, it would have been difficult to care what happened to that rag tag fleet of fugitives hurling through space. And when they tried to go episodic instead of ongoing story arc? Forget it.
Fortunately, Starbuck tagged along. The age-old question “what is Starbuck going to do next?” never gets old. Will she get drunk and punch out her commanding officer? Who’s going to be her next toy boy? How many episodes has it been since her last shower?
And that’s the appeal. We all know that a naughty girl good guy like Starbuck will save the day when it really matters, and that’s the rub. Predictability could make the character downright boring.
But Starbuck’s self-destructive journey to that moment made her interesting enough to keep us tuning in until the final episode (which by the way made complete sense, totally closed all the loose ends in a satisfying way, and makes me thank the gods that I watched that show religiously for four frakking seasons, three miniseries, and a prequel. By the way, that was sarcasm).
Lara Croft from Tomb Raider
Guns, treasure, and a knack for solving ancient mysteries. Nuff said, right?
Actually, there’s one more thing, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. What is that one more thing we think of when people say “Lara Croft”? What could it be?*
Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Anya got her start as a demon, granting the wishes of women who have been wronged by men. Having never wronged a woman, I of course think that’s totally awesome and don’t feel threatened at all.
But there’s more to Anya than running around blindly wreaking havoc on guys who may have made a teensy mistake. When she regains her humanity, Anya still has a way to go to learn to be human. She’s blunt. She’s brutally honest. But she’s vulnerable too. That’s exactly the juxtaposition of vulnerability and badassery that makes makes us weak in the knees.
Vala Mal Doran from Stargate: SG-1
It’s difficult to keep a show interesting for 10 seasons. One technique to avoid jumping the shark is to introduce new characters.
Stargate: SG-1 was the master of this technique. And who was more interesting than Vala? Admittedly, Claudia Black could take a role as a doorknob and make it interesting. So that is part of the appeal.
But the other part is the character herself: cunning, quick-witted, and out to make a buck. She’s basically Han Solo with a better haircut. But where Han had a walking rug to keep things interesting, Vala had that certain something that can’t be defined (okay, Han had it too, but go with me on this).
It probably had something to do with that great chemistry between Vala and Daniel Jackson. It’s the old “bad girl chasing a good guy who would simply have a one night stand if he were a bad guy but instead since he’s an overly prudish good guy just gets mad at her advances which makes the bad girl even more interested in him” routine. Doesn’t roll off the tongue very well. But it makes for good TV.