It’s a question as old as time: why do girls love bad boys and nice guys finish last? Well, I’m here to try to dispel some misinformation. TV bad boys are not bad, they are the actual good guys.
Let’s first look at what makes a TV bad boy:
- They do what they want, when they want
- They don’t pretend to be somebody they are not
- They have confidence in themselves
- Everything they do has a purpose
- They think for themselves
- They call it like it is
What TV bad boys are not:
Why exactly do we label the first set of characteristics as ‘bad’? Probably because they go against everything we have ever been taught. As children, we are taught to be helpful, do what we are told, speak when spoken to, listen to our elders, etc. Bad boys ignore all of that and take care of themselves, and those they have deemed worthy, first and foremost. Once a bad boy puts you in the circle of people he loves, there is not anything in this world he wouldn’t do to protect you.
In fact, according to Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, bad boys would often be put into the highest category, Level 3 Stage 6: Universal Principles. Those that are in this stage have created their own moral guidelines, regardless of what the law is. Examples include Mother Theresa and Ghandi. Kohlberg mainly focused on human rights, justice, and equality for what these moral guidelines would be.
A prime example of a bad boy that would fit in Kohlberg’s Stage 6 would be Logan Echolls from Veronica Mars. From the very first episode he is billed as the bad boy, even taking a tire iron to Veronica’s headlights after she planted a bong in his locker. A few more episodes in, and we discover his true bad boy character. He does not care what the other student’s think, he speaks his mind and calls out bullshit when he sees it (even if it’s a teacher), he has a confidence about him that speaks to him knowing who he is and knowing what he wants, and when he wants something done he will go to any length to get it.
It is that last one that truly makes a bad boy. The lengths they go to to get something done. Remember, bad boys aren’t thugs, criminals, or abusers. They aren’t out stealing in order to get the latest iphone. Everything they do has a purpose. Their ‘criminal’ activities are done in order to protect or defend themselves or somebody they love.
Back to Logan. He turns the whole school against Veronica because he believed that she turned her back on Lilly, somebody he loved. He is willing to go up against his father, even though his father will clearly win, in order to defend his mother. When Logan finds out who attacked Veronica, he intentionally beats up a cop car in order to get arrested and land in the same jail cell as her attacker. The things he does is not for fun and games, they are done out of a higher level of morality, in the belief that the protection of yourself and those you love should be put above all else.
Another example would be Bellamy Blake from The 100. He puts those he loves above everything else, including himself. He is willing to do a suicide mission (sneak on the dropship to Earth) in order to protect his sister. He removes wristbands in order to make the adults think they are dead because he fears his and his sister’s freedom will once again be taken away. He soon becomes a leader of the delinquents and the rules are based off of his own moral ideals. He clearly believes in people paying for their crimes (Murphy being hanged for Wells death), but draws the line at children (not hanging Wells true killer, Charlotte). It takes a while for him to put Clarke in his inner circle, so to speak, but once he does he will do anything to help her. Whether that be going on a suicide mission into Mount Weather (much like he did for his sister in the pilot) or by trying to rescue her. If he believes that he can do something to protect somebody he loves or uphold his moral guidelines, he will do it no matter the consequences.
In conclusion: “It’s hard to resist a bad boy who’s a good man.” -Nora Roberts