30 Days of Vampires: The Allure of the Bad Boy

December 22, 2011 | 30 Days of Vampires | 20 comments

Lynda HillburnLynda Hilburn, author of the Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist series, is a licensed psychotherapist, certified clinical hypnotherapist and professional intuitive. She lives in Boulder, CO, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and has been a vampire fan since she first got her hands on Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a child.


The Vampire ShrinkI’ve never been surprised that vampires in books and movies are so popular.

I had a psychotherapy session with a client recently and she reminded me of an ongoing question in my mind: What is it about bad boys? Why are we attracted to them? Why do we abandon good sense (along with clothing, sometimes, LOL) when one walks into the room?

From a psychological point of view, we’re often drawn to men (or characters) who remind us (consciously or unconsciously) of an important male figure from our childhoods. Or, we’re enticed by the opposite. For example, if Dad was a bad boy, depending on how his behaviors impacted us, we might either idealize or demonize him. If he was a laid-back beta male, we might crave what had been missing.

Hmmm. Do we believe that fantasizing about a rebellious, borderline criminal will somehow rub off on us and we’ll begin to explore our primitive sides? Is this really about our desire to be wild and crazy? Unrestricted? Less like good girls? Or do we really want to surrender to some dark, brooding male?

What is a bad boy? When I use those words, I don’t necessarily mean someone who is evil. Although, he could be. In today’s vampire literature, the line between “good” and “evil” is often smudged (in the world of psychology, most everything lies in a vast gray area). A bad boy certainly doesn’t follow rules or conform to society’s ideas about what he should/shouldn’t do. He might have a flexible moral compass. As a human, he’s often a risk taker, who probably wouldn’t be satisfied with a traditional nine-to-five job or a “normal” life. He’s the perfect projection screen for our fantasies.

The bad boy is a celebrated archetype. We have lots of names for him: rake, cad, scoundrel, charmer, heartbreaker, ladies’ man, scamp, rascal, bounder, thug, to list a few. He’s usually confident and indifferent. A man who exudes an aura of mystery (the perpetual “strong, silent type”). Most important, he’s unavailable. We humans always want what we think we can’t have. And, of course, once we meet this elusive troublemaker, we women begin to believe that only we can “change him.” But, will we still want him after we do? (Ah, but we hope we can’t!)

Undead in the CityUnlike a lot of the bad boy heroes of romance novels (which I read and write), he isn’t necessarily gorgeous. So, it seems being a bad boy is more about his attitudes and behaviors than anything else. For example, my client at the beginning of this article is absolutely obsessed with a hygiene-challenged, scarred, rule-breaker on a Harley. She says life without him would be unbearable. (We’re working on that.)

I love vampire books, and I consider all male vampires – and other paranormal creatures – to be bad boys. (Which is a powerful reason we love vampires.) By their very nature, they don’t follow any human rules. They usually don’t even adhere to the laws created for their particular mythology. Like humans, they range from charming rebels to self-absorbed sociopaths/psychopaths.

Good examples of (the wide range of) bad boys: Jason Bourne, Lestat, James Bond, Dexter Morgan, Spike, Captain Jack Sparrow, Rhett Butler, Don Draper on Madmen, James Dean, Han Solo, Jamie from the Outlander books, the Harry character from True Lies, Michael Weston on Burn Notice, Roarke from the Eve Dallas books and my own vampire, Devereux.

What literary/movie characters come to mind for you when you think of bad boys? Why do you think we love them?


  1. Joe

    As a licensed therapist myself I wonder what is the undeniable allure of the ‘vampire’ figure in western culture? Is it the promise of immortality? Is it eternal youth and vigour? Great article.

  2. SandyG265

    Don’t enter me for The Vampire Shrink. I already have it. It’s a good read.

  3. Lynda Hilburn

    Thanks for stopping by, Joe! I think our love of vampires has a lot to do with the human fear of death. All the aspects of the vampire archetypes are interesting! Especially the relatively new romantic ones.

    Sandy: Thanks so much for the good words about The Vampire Shrink! I’m happy you liked it. Book #2 (Blood Therapy) should be out in 2012.


  4. Viki S.

    The first bad boy that comes to mind is Larissa Ione’s Wraith. Then there are Damon from TV’s The Vampire Diaries and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. I think we love them because we know they’re not ALL bad. And to be honest I think we females like the challenge they present. Thank you so much.


  5. WildAboutBones

    I am so glad you participated in this event. You are a new (to me) author I found when The Vampire Shrink was offered as a giveaway (I think on Goodreads.com). I’ve had it on my to read list since and have been trying to win it wherever I see it. It sounds great.
    Bad boys — XXX as played by Vin Diesel, all of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood vamps
    As for why we love them? I think it has a lot to do with being with a bad boy would allow us to “let go, let our hair down” giving us permission to be a little wicked if only for a small amount of time. Bad boys are fun to be with, to fantasize about, but you usually wouldn’t bring him home to mom & dad or marry him. Screw his brains loose? Oh yes! Marry him, not so much.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book.

  6. tammy ramey

    Hi LInda,
    great post today.
    i always had a thing for the guys that were just a bit on the wild and dangerous side. i don’t know if it was that i wanted to reform him or if i secretly hoped that he would
    corrupt me, but either way it was bound to be a fun time. LOL! the downside was that they didn’t really want to change and even if they did would we still want them?

    the very first bad boy i always think of in books/movies is Brahm Stoker’s Dracula 1979 movie version played by Frank Langella. this was probably the 1st “horror” movie i had ever seen and i was hooked. he was so HOT! after that it is Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing. also so HOT! LOL

    thank you agian for the great post and the chance at such an awesome giveaway. i hope that you and your family have a very Happy Holiday Season.


  7. tammy ramey

    i am sorry i mispelled your name on the above post.


  8. sue brandes

    I think of Eric from True Blood. He bad,sexy, funny, scary,naughty, and there’s something about him that makes you want to like him. Makes for a great character.

  9. Lynda Hilburn

    Viki: I think you’re right! We love the challenge. Thanks for commenting!

    WildAboutBones: Thanks so much for trying to win my book! I hope it happens! Yes! We want to be a little wild, I think. We need to live dangerously once in a while!

    Tammy: Yes! Frank Langella! That was the most sexual vampire move I’d seen to that point. I watched it over and over. Nothing overt, but very effective. No problem with the spelling of my name! I answer to most everying. LOL. Thanks for stopping by!

    Sue: Definitely. Eric is good. Although I have to say I prefer to imagine him with long hair. What can I say? There’s just something incredible about a man with great hair. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Angela

    My favorite villian is Hannibal Lecter played by Anthony Hopkins in the Silence of the Lambs because he is so brilliant and powerful. I also love Danny Ocean played by George Clooney in the Ocean’s 11 movies.

  11. wanda flanagan

    Soo many bad boys to choose from at the top of my list would be Spike from Buffy,Seth from Sherriyln Kenyons Guardian,and how about Liev Schreiber who played Victor inX-Men Origins Wolverine another favorite bad boy of mine is Jason Beher as Varek in Skinwalkers .

  12. Deb P

    Johnny Deep in the Pirate movies. Why we love them? Because bad boys are so much fun. Yes they get into trouble ,but that only makes them much more interesting.

  13. Lynda Hilburn

    Angela: I’m with you about Hannibal! Even though he was insane, he was brilliant. The Dr. Greg House character on House was similar, although much more adolescent. Yes! Danny Ocean! Thanks for commenting!

    Good choices, Wanda. Thanks for participating!

    Deb P: Oh, yeah. Johnny Depp. My fave. I can’t wait to see what he does with Barnabas in Dark Shadows. Thank you for stopping by!

  14. StacieD

    I would add Sawyer from LOST. He was always doing things his own way and for selfish reasons. He was a smartass who loved to read. I think the fact that he was always reading a book made him very attractive to me. You can’t hate someone who loves books, right?

  15. Stephanie

    Thanks for the interview! Your books look fun!

  16. Lynda Hilburn

    StacieD: It would be really hard to hate someone who reads! And I’m pretty fond of smartasses, too! Thanks for commenting!

    Stephanie: Thanks for the kind words! I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it. The USA version comes out in April.

  17. Yadira A.

    A literary character that comes to mind for me is Zadist from the BDB series by J.R. Ward. I think it’s because of how strong he is to have survived what he did and then he remained hard to everyone with exception of one very persistent female. He’s still a bad boy, but now he’s also a dad… I just love those kind of HEA’s:)


  18. Lynda Hilburn

    Yadira A: Thanks so much for commenting! I agree that Z was definitely a bad boy!

  19. June M.

    My favorite bad boys would be the guys in Larissa Ione’s Demonica & Lords of Deliverance series. They are good, bad guys though. Deep down (and in some cases really deep down) they are good.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  20. Kimberley Coover

    On the tv I thought that Angel and Spike were good bad boys.
    In movies, Johnny Depp as a pirate is a bad boy you love to love.
    In books…Wraith, Bones, comming soon…LOTHAIRE!

    Happy New Year everyone