Fav Romantic Tropes: That Bad Romance!

Stories are made of many characters and relationships. Good, bad, and unusual. While most movies and shows have the romance between the hero and heroine, there are many that showcase a “bad romance” or one that isn’t naturally good for one of the parties (or both, lol) but is intriguing to watch. Sometimes this is a full on tragic romance, other times it’s just a hint of an unlikely pairing – like a super-heroine and a villain or vice versa.

As a viewer who primarily focuses on character-driven components in shows, the bad romance, if done well, can be an intriguing plot point that leaves you wondering what will happen next. I will add a disclaimer that I’m fully aware of the difference between reality and the fictional world… there’s obviously, absolutely no such thing as a fun or good “bad romance” in real life. Okay, now onto the fictional fun! (Also spoilers)

#1 Min Seok-Heon & Choi Mi-Yeon (Mask)

Seok-Heon and Mi-Yeon’s marriage was based totally on lies, manipulation and revenge as Seok-Heon married into her family in hopes of eventually getting vengeance on an even meaner baddie. Mi-Yeon was pretty messed up herself, but her obsession over Seok-Heon made her totally vulnerable to his impressive manipulative skills, which he worked on everyone. The romance ended a little more tragically and dramatically than I felt was necessary but it was still an intriguing character ride. Also it was a nice contrast with the show’s hero and heroine’s fight to overcome their own marriage based on lies and manipulation and become a real couple that wholly loved and supported one another.

#2 Princess Deokman & Bidam (Queen Seondeok)

Tragic, epic bad romance! Bidam was all kinds of wrong for Deokman, what with his lust for power and self-identity issues. They shared similarities as both came from terrible tragic pasts. Despite Bidam’s darker side, he was her greatest supporter as she took the throne. Bidam and Deokman would’ve made an epic, power couple if he could’ve resisted his own longings to be the one with the power. This romance ended in tragedy but it was such a glorious ride.

#3 Sir Guy & Maid Marian (Robin Hood BBC)

How could I not include them? This has epic bad romance written all over it. While I’m completely a Robin-Marian shipper, who could deny the chemistry between Guy and Marian? He was totally wrong for her; messed-up, selfish and willing to do evil things more often than not to serve the sheriff of Nottingham. I would counter that Marian was not that great for him either as she often manipulated his feelings for her (I mean, she had her reasons most of them time, hehe). I’m STILL mad at the end of season 2 which I felt was pretty stupid but I guess that’s all water under the bridge by now, right?

#4 Anakin & Padme (Star Wars)

I understand not everyone will agree with me on this one. After all, their relationship was primarily good… but just “bad” for its timing and what it eventually turned into. I mean for a woman who has so much worldly experience, I wonder that Padme didn’t consider Anakin unready to deal with a secret marriage when he had some intense issues to deal with (mass-murdering a village, lol). Anakin certainly wasn’t all bad in their romance but by the time he was close to the dark side, he was a mess of jealousy and control. He really took the cake when he attacked her with his force powers while she was pregnant. I mean, if that isn’t a bad romance, I dunno what is lol!

 #5 Henry & Fanny (Mansfield Park 1999 film)

Did Henry really love Fanny? Really, this romance is the best and most fascinating part of Mansfield Park in my opinion. Initially Henry starts out trying to woo Fanny just for fun… and she’s aware that his intentions aren’t sincere. But somewhere along the way, Henry really goes all out in pursing Fanny and she’s seriously being swayed by it. It’s really an emotional watch seeing her fight with her feelings for Edmund while questioning whether Henry really cares. Perhaps Henry did care (and I love analyzing with my sisters how true his intentions were, hehe) but his overall personality and integrity weren’t the best and ultimately explain why he made such a terrible choice at the climax.

#6 Batman & Catwoman

The best “bad” superhero romance. Catwoman isn’t really right for Batman, after all she’s a baddie. But no one has come close to having the awesome chemistry with Bats that Catwoman did. I admit that I loved The Dark Knight Rises choice to give them a romance and even a happy ending. Like Alfred, I was beaming when I saw the Ultimate Broodster and Catlady together and enjoying life.

#7 Arang & Joo-Wal (Arang and the Magistrate)

Arang didn't have any idea that her crush, Joo-Wal, was a killer. And few would've guessed as he seems merely quiet and silently tortured than deadly. While I obviously shipped Arang with the hero (played by Lee Joon-Ki, friends!), I enjoyed the romantic elements with her and the mysterious Joo-Wal and almost shipped her with the bad boy.

#8 Jung & Seol (Cheese in The Trap)

More controversy, hehe! Was Jung really that bad? Was he just completely misunderstood? Should Seol and Jung really have been together? Questions that may be debated for the next century. I mean, Jung did manipulate people all the time, but almost only those who attacked him first. Still having a boyfriend always on the offense wasn’t easy for compassionate Seol. One thing’s for sure, Seol and Jung had a lot of chemistry and I loved it.

#9 Rouxi & 4Th Prince (Scarlet Heart)

To love him or not to love him. Of the many romances of Scarlet Heart (and there were many; it was a reverse harem romance after all), Rouxi’s emotional romance with 4th Prince was the most fascinating and heartbreaking. 4th Prince was certainly not the best choice out of the princes – a total Byronic, stoic leading man who took the harsh road to the throne. He clearly loved Rouxi, but as the emperor, maintaining his power often came first – and he was not afraid to be ruthless. The cruelty against others, especially her friends in the palace, broke Rouxi’s heart. Their romance unraveled at the seams but left us with a reminder that despite all the pain and mess, they still loved each other to the end.

Any of your favorites here? Or do you have another "bad romance" that you love? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Henry and Fanny. I have always found that relationship fascinating.

    1. Yes! I honestly believe they were the best part of Mansfield Park. I mean the question may be asked forever... but did he really love her? :D

  2. "Should Seol and Jung really have been together? Questions that may be debated for the next century." ---- This! Hahha had me in stitches reading that line. My fave from the list: Arang & Joo Wal. Joo Wal, to date is the creepiest villain of all kdramas I've ever seen. He didn't even have to do or say anything. Just his expression and the way he hulks around like a Frankenstein monster (he was a very good looking one though). Seen many villains come and go in my dramas but THIS character, and his ill-fated love for Arang, took the cake!

    1. Haha, yay! Glad I could make someone laugh! :D
      I agree there was something definite creepiness with Joo-Wal. I had to get used to his unnerving stare, lol!

  3. I haven't seen many of these, but Mi Yeon and Seok Heon drove me nuts in Mask. She loved him so much, and even though she was a desperately flawed character, I really kept kind of hoping that Seok Heon would realize that he might actually have feelings for her instead of just using her. But then I would remember how awful Mi Yeon was, and how ridiculous she was for loving someone who treated her so incredibly poorly and I flipped around. And don't even get me started on how insane it was that Eun Ha could even love Seok Heon. Seriously, what the heck did she see in him?

    1. Yes, I had those same roller coaster feelings with Mi Yeon and Seok Heon! I really had hoped he would've took notice of her... but like you, I remembered she was willingly staying with this guy which made me dislike her again, haha. Yeah, I have no idea why Eun Ha loved him but Eun Ha seemed a bit messed up herself. At least that's what I tell myself since she was in love with Seok Heon. You can't be normal to love this guy. Just look at Mi Yeon! ;)

  4. I might have been a bit of a Guy/Marian fan at the time... and you're right, that season 2 ending was so stupid. And then they tried to turn Guy good in the next series? It was too late for that!! haha, anyway great list :)

    1. It was kinda hard not to ship them a little. :D Yeah, I agree. Guy turning to the good side was definitely too late to make it believable.


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