The Backstreet Boys said it best: "If you want it to be good girl, get yourself a bad boy." Need proof? Just look at the untrustworthy, yet irresistible leads who have taken over your TV. From White Collar's Neal Caffrey to The Vampire Diaries' Damon Salvatore, bad boys seem like they're here to stay — and we aren't complaining! But what is it about a bad boy that's so appealing?
The hope of reform
No one knows how hard it is to reform a bad boy more than Neal's (Matt Bomer) FBI partner on White Collar, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). So what makes him keep trying? Pure pride and optimism. It's that simple. The people who love a bad boy imagine that a guy like Neal is simply hurt and misunderstood. They like to believe that they're the missing piece in his life that will make everything — even him — better. Too bad Neal has proven Peter's idealistic views of him wrong on more than one occasion.
White Collar first-look photos: Will Neal and Mozzie find trouble in paradise?
The best television shows aren't predictable, and neither are the bad boys who star in them. The inability to envisage the next move by Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) is what gives him such a sense of adventure. Bad boys are risktakers. Even if things don't always work out as planned, the "He loves me, he loves me not" speculation is always an exciting, albeit emotionally exhausting, escapade. Unfortunately, this type of instability is also what makes relationships with bad boys like Chuck so volatile (just ask Blair).
Even the biggest goody-two-shoes has a repressed bad boy in them somewhere deep down. Just look at Sam Winchester (Jared Padelecki). When Supernatural started, Sam was about as sweet and innocent as a person could get and even though he would chide his brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) for his love 'em and leave 'em lifestyle, it was clear he also secretly admired big bro's tough guy attitude. Of course, a few seasons into The CW drama, Sam's inner bad boy was eventually revealed in full force, proving that he wasn't as different from Dean as he originally thought.
White Collar exclusive: Get your first look at Season 4!
The Vampire Diaries' features one of the fiercest rivalries television has ever known: Team Damon vs. Team Stefan. For many, it isn't a debate at all. The bad boy charm of Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) has won over most viewers' hearts. And not to discredit Damon's personality (best described as charming with a side of murderous), but the majority of his appeal is fairly superficial. Damon's best feature? Not his striking blue eyes or his chiseled jaw. It's his deliciously sexy leather jacket. There's just something about a man in leather that is so seductively edgy. It's as though he could whisk you off on the back of his motorcycle at a moment's notice. Now all Damon needs is that motorcycle...
Bad boys aren't tentative about breaking the rules and they definitely aren't tentative about love and lust, either! True Blood's Area 5 sheriff and resident bad boy Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) is used to getting his way. Maybe that's why he had no qualms propositioning Sookie (Anna Paquin) season upon season even though she wasn't technically "his." When they did finally hook up in Season 4, it was everything we could have imagined — steamy on top of sexy on top of hot! There's just something so much better about hooking up with a bad boy. Maybe it's the taboo. Maybe it's the six-pack abs. Maybe we just don't care. Eric isn't afraid to take what he wants and he has every guy and girl wishing he wanted them.
Who's your favorite TV bad boy?
- Neal Caffrey