Whether they were a man, woman, vampire, brooding bad boy, high school jock, superhero, or super villain, we all had our own fictional crushes growing up. These crushes were influential – nay, critical – in the development of our notions around love, relationships, and, most excitingly, sex.
This Valentine's Day, the Bustle UK team is celebrating their fictional first loves, declaring to the world that, yes, we used to fancy the bloke from Twilight, and we won't hide it any longer. Because fictional crushes are so much better than real ones. Don't believe me? Keep reading.
Miss Honey, 'Matilda'
If I look back now, I've always known I was different. Not that I could put my finger on exactly what made me not the same but it was seeing one fictional character in particular on the silver screen that changed all of that — Miss Honey from Matilda. There she was, doe-eyed, all clavicles, willowy, bespectacled and, let me tell you, the moment when she looks over her round tortoise shell glasses still makes me feel funny. That smart, kind, quietly strong-willed woman who stands up for what matters to her has truly shaped what I look for in a partner to this day and, considering what excellent traits those are, I have a lot to thank Roald Dahl for. — Aoife Hanna, Bustle UK Contributor
Callum, 'Noughts & Crosses'
Representation is so important and when I read Noughts & Crosses for the first time as a pre teen, it spoke to me in ways I could never have imagined. Although I really saw myself as Sephy (and even went to the extreme of emailing Malorie Blackman begging her for the part if she ever took it to the silver screen), it was Callum who really captured my heart, and still has it to this day. He was the loyal, loving, protective boyfriend who didn't let the mistakes of his parents define or harden him. Although Callum appears emotionally withdrawn at times, he quite literally died for love and, honestly, is their a bigger display of your fidelity and adoration? I think not. — Lollie King, Bustle UK Contributor
Charlie, 'Perks Of Being A Wallflower'
The first time I read Stephen Chbosky's Perks Of Being A Wallflower I was 12, had just started secondary school, and hadn’t quite grown into my own skin. I was just getting into YA fiction and had never read anything so "deep." Told completely from the point of view of the main character Charlie, in diary format, Perks Of Being A Wallflower completely engrossed me. Charlie wasn’t like any boys (or anyone) I knew. He was quiet and sensitive. The way he spoke was like poetry and he was fiercely loyal to his mismatching gang of friends. To angsty teenage me, he was everything I wanted. I didn’t see the twist at the end of the story coming but it broke my heart, and it still makes me cry to this day. Although Charlie is withdrawn at times, he taught me a lot about the power of vulnerability and the fact that you don’t have to be the loudest or coolest person in the room to be heard. — Alice Broster, Bustle UK Contributor
Frank, 'How To Get Away With Murder'
I'll be honest. Settling on just one fictional crush for me was hard. I fancy just about everyone on TV and in movies. I toyed with the idea of picking someone like Nick from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, or Stefan (and Damon, pretty much) from Vampire Diaries, but have settled on Frank from How To Get Away From Murder. When you put everyone in my pool of possibilities side by side, I think it's safe to say that there's a common theme amongst them: danger. They're all vampires or warlocks, or er, in Frank's case, very emotionally damaged murderers, which is a little alarming, but I think it's the element of danger and excitement that speaks to me. In my real romantic life, I would never go for a bad boy and just the thought of doing so brings on an anxiety attack, so I think it's that I'm living my alternate best life through fancying someone like Frank. What I do like about him is that he's fiercely loyal (a trait I consider myself to have) and, despite being a little (read: a lot) messed up, he's just damn sexy in a really dark way, and you can't argue with that. Having stopped watching HTGAWM after series two, I don't actually know what happened/is happening to Frank, so if he does some more really messed up stuff in the following seasons, don't judge me, OK? — Rebecca Fearn, Bustle UK Contributor
Erik Killmonger, 'Black Panther'
Black Panther introduced a host of new Marvel characters for us to cherish and adore, showcasing actors in ways we’d never seen them before — the most noticeable being Michael B. Jordan as arch nemesis Erik Killmonger. If I’m frank, Jordan looks good in pretty much any role he takes on, but it was something about the faux dreads, slouchy jeans and bottom grills that did it for me. Killmonger’s permanent snarl and growling voice might not have appealed to others but I was intrigued by his tense, bad boy attitude. Was he truly a villain or simply misunderstood? Turns out Killmonger had deeper, complex issues of self-identification within the African-American community that he clearly struggled to deal with, and so I think the latter. The empathy I felt towards him at the end of the film shows what a good job Jordan did in his portrayal of the character. All Marvel needs to do now is think of how they can bring Killmonger back for Black Panther 2. —Escher Walcott, Bustle UK Contributor
Edward Cullen, 'Twilight'
This is shameful, but my fictional crush was fictional Edward Cullen from Twilight (not to be mistaken with Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen). Yes, I read all the books and no, my teenage self wasn’t concern with the obsessive relationship dynamic between Bella and Edward at the time. I was wondering when my sparkle-in-the-sun BF was going to come along with his old-fashioned values. It was a short-lived crush, however. Once the films hit the cinema the flame had well and truly been snubbed out. — Sarah Lakos, Branded Content Editor
Woodchuck Todd, 'Easy A'
For reasons that I can’t really explain, Easy A is just one of the sexiest films ever to me. Emma Stone, Stanley Tucci, and Patricia Clarkson could all easily appear on this list were it not for Penn Badgley’s performance as “Woodchuck” Todd. Yep, before he was Hot Serial Killer No. 1 in You, he was the loveable-dork-turned-love-interest in a 2010 teen romcom based on The Scarlet Letter. There’s something about the character of Todd that far outstrips Penn’s roles in You, Gossip Girl or even seminal teen classic John Tucker Must Die for me (the less said about his hair in that last one, the better). He makes terrible puns, gives Olive her John Hughes movie fantasy, and somehow looks good in a giant woodchuck mascot costume. Penn, if you want me to ride off into the sunset on a lawnmower with you this Valentine’s Day, my DMs are open. — Isobel Lewis, Bustle UK Contributor
My crush would probably be the third incarnation of Chiron from the Oscar award-winning Moonlight. I remember going to the cinema by myself and just uncontrollably crying into a bag of gummy worms. The film and Chiron are just so breathtakingly beautiful, I actually don’t think I can ever watch it again, it’s just too precious to be tarnished with another viewing. His character goes through this painful and challenging story arch yet comes out on the other side. When we meet Chiron again as an adult he’s really hench and super serious, but deep down he’s just a gentle giant, scared and in love with his childhood crush from all those years ago. It’s so important to see these kinds of stories being told, and it has a happy ending! — Niellah Arboine, Bustle UK Contributor
Robin, 'Batman & Robin'
Although most young comic book fans were mesmerised by the eccentric characters and action-packed scenes of 1997's Batman & Robin, my attention was very much focused elsewhere and, despite being known for living in his partner's shadow, Robin was always my number one. Played by Chris O'Donnell, the character has an impeccable physique with a kick-ass superhero costume to match. However, although both are greatly appreciated, they are not where my initial crush arose. If you've seen the 1997 flick, you'll be aware that Robin comes with his own intriguing backstory and, in many ways, is presented as somewhat of an underdog — a quality many fans of the film, including myself, can identify with. Then there's Robin's ride-or-die approach to his relationship with Batman, and that kind of unquestioned loyalty is something we all aspire to achieve with those closest to us. So, he might not be Gotham City's number one, but Robin is certainly the leading man in my life, and all these years later, I'm still waiting for my invitation to Wayne Manor. — Sam Ramsden, Bustle UK Contributor
Seth Cohen, 'The O.C.'
Oh, Seth Cohen. Where do I begin? I don't think I'll ever get over Seth Cohen. From the first moment I saw him, sitting on the floor in his pyjamas, that was it. That was where our love story began. When Seth stood on the kissing booth and declared his love for Summer? Um, hello sexual awakening. Sadly The O.C. and my beloved Seth were snatched from me after four short seasons. Still, we'll always have the Youtube "best bits" compilations. — Rowena Henley, News & Features Editor
Mitchell, 'Being Human'
Many only fell under Aidan Turner's spell when he ripped off his shirt after a day down in the mine. But Ross Poldark isn't the Turner character I've admired from afar. It's Mitchell, the vampiric star of long-forgotten BBC Three series Being Human. Only becoming a vampire to save his military comrades, Mitchell (full name John Mitchell for the super fans out there) was noble from the very beginning. Yes, he lost his way several times throughout his exceedingly long life, but he always battled the odds, and his thirst for blood, to return to the light. A truly tragic hero in my eyes. (And, of course, that Irish charm helped.) — Lauren Sharkey, Bustle UK Contributor
Frank Castle, 'The Punisher'
I wasn’t a huge fan of Daredevil, but I will forever be indebted to its second season for introducing me to Frank Castle, aka The Punisher. Jon Bernthal perfectly inhabited the troubled anti-hero role, so much so that Frank ended up getting his own series. I’ll never forgive Marvel/Disney for cancelling it after its second, but at least the world was given 26 episodes of Bernthal being an absolute badass. I’ve never become so emotionally attached to a character in such a short amount of time, especially in the later episodes of season two (don’t even talk to me about ‘The Dark Hearts of Men’ and ‘The Abyss’).
To sum up, Bernthal was made for this role. Like seriously, there have been iterations of Frank before him (all of which were amazing), but Bernthal brings such a complex depth to the character that hasn’t been seen on screen before. — Sophie McEvoy, Bustle UK Contributor
Jess Mariano, 'Gilmore Girls'
Oh, Rory Gilmore, you had your pick of the crop didn’t you? As a bookish, over-achieving teen, Gilmore Girls provided ample hope that bookish, over-achieving teens could, in fact, bag cool, broody boys in leather jackets with long fringes. When Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia) entered Stars Hollow as a dark-haired, strong-eyebrowed tearaway, he may have cemented my love for angst-y bad boys indefinitely — one who also enjoys a good novel. While aspiring journalist Rory eventually chose high-school sweetheart Dean (a tad boring but admittedly also had nice hair) and later, rich and entitled Logan Huntzberger over Jess, I still rooted for the bad boy with a good heart. Rory, how could you? And so, I will forever crave that ‘steal a car and steal a kiss’ love. — L'Oréal Blackett, Bustle UK Contributor
Dr Cristina Yang, 'Grey's Anatomy'
I fall hard and fast for fictional men (I mean, don’t we all?) but my one true love has got to be Dr Cristina Yang. Yes, I continue to fawn over McDreamy, and lust after McSteamy (and McVet, and McWidow...) but Cristina will be my forever favourite. She was fierce, intelligent and totally badass: unapologetic about her ambition and completely unforgiving. She had her own way of doing things, sure, but she was always there for her friends also. And she was the queen of quotes. Among my favourites is her reply to Owen asking if she preferred being the big spoon on the little spoon: “I’m not a spoon. I’m a knife.” A girl after my own (ice-cold) heart. — Sam Rogers, Executive Editor
Austin Ames, 'A Cinderella Story'
I was all about Chad Michael Murray's character Austin Ames in A Cinderella Story – a beautiful American football player who's endearing personality was overshadowed by his popularity at high school. My crush was still very much there despite his inability to recognise Hilary Duff in her tiny white mask at the masquerade ball when it was blindingly obvious, my 13-year-old self just loved the aesthetic of the all-American-Ralph-Lauren-wearing high schooler who seemed so much cooler than any of the boys I knew. It's such a great movie, a heartwarming, classic teen romance that I think I probably watched more than 70 times. At least. — Victoria King, Brand Partnerships Director