Happy Friday TV viewers! When you think of your favorite male hero on television, what comes to mind? Are you thinking about the selfless actions they make to help those in need? Perhaps, they become so good at playing the “hero” that we forget about the anti-hero who has just as much charm and more intrigue. While the good guy typically saves the day and gets the girl, what about our favorite bad boys who lurk in darkness and mystery? Being a “bad boy,” isn’t enough, however; as the hero will ultimately sweep in to make things right. For today’s topic, I am specifically looking at bad boys from television who are redeemed by love and transform into a more realistic hero we can root for as a result. These “bad boys” are nowhere near perfect and continue to make mistakes along the way, but that’s why they are so entertaining to watch. While a hero may sometimes feel destined for greatness, our favorite bad boys were initially looking out for themselves and possessed their own agenda. This changes drastically, however; when they fall in love with the right person who brings out the best in them and reveals an unlikely hero in the process. Please note some spoilers are ahead. My top 5 TV Bad Boys redeemed by love are:
Cole Turner from Charmed.
“I was dead before I met you. I was born the day you loved me. And my love for you will keep me alive…forever.” (Cole’s letter to Phoebe from Charmed)
When Cole was first introduced on Charmed, he was revealed to be a demon who was half-human, posing as a lawyer. His plan was to get Phoebe to fall for him so that he could worm his way into the Halliwell house to steal their powerful spell-book, “The Book of Shadows.” Seemed like a solid plan, until Cole fell madly in love with Phoebe. Cole had the tall, dark, and handsome role down pat, as he used his charm to get what he desired. What separated him from other “bad boys,” was his vulnerability for Phoebe. Even when he was the source of all evil, his love for her still allowed him to embrace goodness inside him that he thought was long gone. Over the seasons, Cole and Phoebe’s love was epic and messy, ending in heart-break and tragedy. Even though Cole overcame his demonic side on more than one occasion and came back from the dead repeatedly, their love did not ultimately win out to the dismay of fans everywhere. Phoebe even commented that “it wasn’t meant to be,” but the uncertainty in her voices suggested otherwise. While Phoebe ended up finding several new romantic loves later on in the show, none of them compared to her passionate love for Cole.
Killian Jones aka Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time.
“When I win your heart Emma, and I will win it. It won’t be because of any trickery.” (Hook to Emma in OUAT)
When the devilishly handsome Captain Hook sailed into our hearts on OUAT, he initially was out for revenge against the “crocodile,” otherwise known as Mr. Gold/Rumpel. While Hook innocently flirted with Emma from the start, his love for her allowed him to grow as a character and to learn from his wicked past. More importantly, he transformed from a classic fairy-tale villain into one of our favorite anti-heroes. Hook was always used to taking the easy way out and making decisions based on how well it suited him. Emma changed this perspective, however; proving that he could be a selfless man. When Hook realized his strong feelings for Emma, he even backed down and explained that she should be with Neal so that Henry could have his family all together. Hook truly loved Emma at this point, but was willing to sacrifice this so that she could find happiness. Later, when they did end up together, Emma’s power became too great and evil corrupted her heart. The only thing that could bring her back to goodness was Hook’s love for her. Emma and Hook had one of the most beautiful relationships on television, but Hook’s growth into a hero is what made him truly stand out.
Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries.
“I don’t mind being the bad guy. I make all the life and death decisions while you’re busy dealing with collateral damage.” (Damon to Stefan in The Vampire Diaries)
This list would not be complete without Damon Salvatore. He embraced the role of the bad brother, refusing to apologize for what he was and how he acted. Unlike Stefan, Damon was reckless and dangerous. He also possessed a magnetic quality about him that just reeled in the ladies with barely any effort. Damon’s initial mission was to free his love Katherine from a tomb, however; he soon realized that Katherine was not the epic love he thought she was. Damon’s jealousy for Elena and Stefan’s relationship reached new heights at this point, but he quickly realized that his feelings involved more than envy. He grew fond of Elena and fell in love with her, which quickly tamed the vampire beast within. Damon didn’t lose his “bad boy” charm, but put Elena before everything else, truly learning what sacrifice means. While the love triangle between Elena and the Salvatore brothers became complicated, Elena eventually followed her heart straight to Damon, allowing her own darkness to reach the surface as well.
Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
“What can I tell you baby? I’ve always been bad.” (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
I have to admit it was extremely difficult for me to choose between my top 1 and 2 picks for this category. After all, Spike was the very epitome of the bad boy redeemed by love. Like Damon, Spike was a soulless vampire, only interested in power and his deranged and misguided love for Drusilla. Over the seasons, Spike proved to be a worthy foe of Buffy, constantly coming up with ways to stop her while having a little bit of fun in the process. In season 4, Spike is captured by a military order experimenting on supernatural creatures and a chip is placed in his brain which prevented him from harming anyone. While this brought on quite of bit of laughs, Spike eventually became a sort of honorary member of the Scoobies, trying to bring down evil, but still holding on to his own agenda to destroy the slayer one day. Like the other bad boys on this list, Spike was redeemed by his love for Buffy. What makes this love so special, however; was the fact that Spike still did not have a soul when he fell in love with Buffy. Sure he had the chip in his brain, but his thoughts and desires were the same as they had always been. Spike grew into an anti-hero that we rooted for above others because he learned how to get in touch with his humanity, with having literally no humanity within him. In season 5, he sets off to kill Buffy and finds her crying on the porch after she has learned about her mother’s illness. Spike puts aside his anger and sits on the porch next to her, offering his support without any hidden agenda. He revealed how much he truly cared for Buffy, as his feelings only grew stronger and stronger. Spike eventually came to realize that Buffy may never love him the way he wanted her to, but accepted this, realizing his destiny to be an unlikely hero for good.
James Ford…aka Sawyer from Lost.
“I’m a complex guy, sweetheart.” (Sawyer to Kate in Lost)
So my number one pick for best TV bad boy redeemed by love has to go to the charismatic and hilarious, Sawyer. When the survivors of Flight 815 crash on the island, Sawyer was revealed to be a con-man with a jaded past. He quickly shifted into survival mode, hoarding many of the supplies for himself. Sawyer wanted everyone to hate him, mostly because he didn’t feel like he was worthy of the love and compassion of others. He even put together several schemes, putting the Losties against each other and making deals that only benefited him. While Jack represented the good hero we came to know and adore, Sawyer proved to be an unlikely hero as well. In season 3, Sawyer returned to the Losties after being captured by the others and the survivors looked to him as their leader. Sawyer showed some promising signs of change, attempting to help out and to protect his love, Kate in the process. He also began to reveal signs of selfless behavior, jumping off the chopper so that Kate and the others could be rescued. While this seemed like a heroic gesture, Sawyer was still running away from his destiny. When Kate and the oceanic six said goodbye to the island, Sawyer was left behind with Juliet, Jin, and Miles. In episode, “LaFleur,” Sawyer put his con-man skills to good use and saved the day, convincing the Dharma Initiative to let them stay with them for a while. Juliet wanted to get on the sub and leave, but he asked her to stay with him. “Who’s going to get my back?” he asked, revealing the first real spark between them. It took traveling back in time for Sawyer to finally embrace the goodness that was there all along. His love for Juliet was pure and selfless, but he was no longer running away from himself or his feelings. Sawyer was finally ready to settle down and lead a simple life with the love of his life. The bad boy was truly redeemed, proving that love can help point our moral compass in the right direction.
I hope you enjoyed the list and please feel free to post your thoughts and comments below on some of your favorite TV bad boys redeemed by love. Happy viewing!
Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl