The O.C.

The 4 Male Romantic Interest Archetypes from “Buffy,” “Gilmore Girls,” and “The O.C.”

Was there ever a better era for high school dramas than the late ’90s-early ’00s? The answer, of course, is no. As a dedicated student of both “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Gilmore Girls” who is currently watching “The O.C.” for the first time (I know, I know), I can’t help but notice that the female protagonists pretty much have the same 4 guys to choose between. They are:

The tortured bad boy with a soul

Tortured Bad Boy

Spike, Jess, Ryan

Every high school has a bad boy, and if we’ve learned anything from romantic teen dramas, every bad boy secretly has a heart of gold. This boy may have done bad things in his old life before moving into this new town, but he’s trying to make a new start for himself. His outsider status, however, makes it hard for him to fit in, and he can find himself in more fights than he’d want to be involved in. Thankfully, one girl in this new place cares for and believes in him.

The goofy lovesick nerd

Lovesick Nerd

Xander, Marty, Seth

All the drama can get tedious after a while, and that’s when a little comic relief comes in handy. This is the awkward, goofy guy that is head-over-heels for the female protagonist who only sees him as a friend. Sometimes his geeky charm works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

The bland, straight-laced, all-American jock

Bland Jock

Riley, Dean, Luke

He may not be exciting like the bad boy or funny like the nerd, but at least he’s nice to look at? This guy excels at athletics, and can offer the female protagonist sex, but not much else. He also has a pretty bad habit of cheating…

The entitled asshole

Entitled Asshole

Parker, Logan, Oliver

And then there’s the rich kid who’s used to getting everything he wants in life, including the main girl. This guy is notable for his ability to charm women into participating in activities that they would not normally perform. In the end, he and the girl just don’t share the same set of values.

NOTE: The obvious omission from the list is Angel from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I guess he somewhat falls in line with the tortured bad boy and the bland jock archetypes, but Spike and Riley clearly better fill those roles.