Ever since I first watched My So Called Life when I was only a preteen, I knew I was in trouble. Jordan Catalano kept leaning against things. In flannel. With those bangs flopping over his forehead and that brooding look in his eyes. It was official: I was hooked on bad boys.
Years later, I still haven’t beaten my addiction. There’s just something about that boy from the wrong side of the tracks who didn’t have the best upbringing but still manages to have a soft side. A soft side that only comes out around his true love, naturally. Luckily for me (and all of you), there are tons of awesome television bad boys to drool over. Here are my top five — plus one book bad boy that I’d rejoice to see on a TV one day:
Logan Echolls, Veronica Mars
Oh, Logan. Let’s run away together and make beautiful, unhinged babies. Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) was never supposed to be the leading man. It was pretty clear from the start of this epically awesome teen detective show that the powers-that-be wanted Veronica (Kristen Bell) to end up with milquetoast Duncan (Teddy Dunn). Instead, fans rallied behind the “obligatory psychotic jackass” Logan who was hiding a pretty painful home life behind hilarious quips and occasional brooding. Not only is his character compelling in his moral ambiguity and hilarious one-liners, but the chemistry between Dohring and Bell is off the charts. Logan is, and forever will be, one of my favorite bad boys of all time.
Chuck Bass, Gossip Girl
Was there anything more delicious than Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) on Gossip Girl? He was blunt, sexy, stubborn, and borderline sociopathic. This guy screwed up more times than anyone could count, and, when it comes to the nefarious dealings of Gossip Girl, that’s truly saying something. But still, Chuck was the guy we loved to hate —or just plain loved. He and Blaire (Leighton Meester) were perfect together: conniving, passionate and crazy in love. These characters knew each other inside and out and fully accepted the other’s true self. It wasn’t always the healthiest romance, but it was definitely one of the hottest. If (like Blaire) you want your bad boys with no remorse and a lot of sexy suits, then Chuck Bass is your man.
Tim Riggins, Friday Night Lights
FNL pretty regularly broke my heart with its realistic depiction of coming-of-age in a small town, but no character drew me in quite like Riggins (Taylor Kitsch). Not only was he crazy hot —THOSE LIPS!! — but he was the perfect blend of sensitive, tragic, and reckless. When he loved, he fell hard, but there was always an air of melancholy that followed Riggins around. These were his golden years and he knew it, and he was going to make the best of them. Luckily for us, that meant he was shirtless a lot. He might not have had the most ambition or drive, but Riggins will always be that crazy hot guy from high school who never seemed to fully grow up.
Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls
The bad boy dream is that he’ll secretly be really smart with hidden depths that just haven’t been discovered yet. While that’s not true of every bad boy (*ahem, Catalano, ahem*) it was certainly true of Jess (Milo Ventimigilia), who was too smart to play by the rules. He couldn’t make his way to class, but he could certainly recite some Kerouac at you. His relationship with Rory (Alexis Bledel) was heartbreaking, realistic, and ultimately unresolved. Maybe we’ll finally get a little more closure now that Gilmore Girls is getting revived on Netflix.
Klaus Mikaelson, The Originals
Most of the bad boys on this list are reformed or just generally misunderstood. But Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is one of the few who started out as a true villain with very little explanation for why he wanted to basically kill everyone around him. We first met the immortal vampire on The Vampire Diaries when he was busy terrorizing the town of Mystic Falls. The fact that he still managed to be sympathetic and likeable was a real testament to the charm that Morgan brought to the character. Now that he’s on his own show (The Originals), Klaus has mellowed out a bit. But you still never know when he might get pissy and stab one of his siblings in the heart. That unpredictable nature is just part of why Klaus is one of the hottest and sexiest bad boys around.
Travis Maddox: Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire (Atria Books, 2012)
Having a bad-boy leading man is a pretty common trope in romance novels. But not many are as hot — or as bad — as Travis Maddox. When Travis meets Abby Abernathy, he falls hard. Like, crazy hard. She’s the good girl struggling to be good; he’s covered in tattoos, participates in underground boxing and represents everything she’s running from. They try to be friends, but Travis’s jealousy, and, uh, penchant for seducing other women, get in the way of that pretty fast. Travis is a true bad boy: sexy, sweet, secretly smart, and makes all the wrong decisions. Still, his humanity is what makes him so compelling and there’s a reason so many fans keep flocking to McGuire’s successful series. Now we only need to get this book made into a TV show. My choice for Travis? Colton Haynes, the former sidekick on Arrow. He’s got the moves, the bad boy attitude and a jawline that just won’t quit.