Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
It's a story for the ages: girl meets boy, girl is forced to fight in a war/battle royale or discovers boy is a supernatural creature, girl and boy fall in love despite the odds, they live happily ever after. Nearly every major YA franchise features some twist on this story, regardless of how vital the romance is to the plot, because a main character is never truly special until some magical, mysterious boy falls head over heels in love with her. Why shouldn't they? These girls are smart, powerful, and strong, the kind of girls who put their own fears aside to face down their enemies and help overthrow a corrupt government or an evil mastermind. They're spunky or sarcastic or dedicated and they're the role models of readers around the world.
The boys, however, are rarely as awesome as the heroines they end up with. Sure, they seem dreamy, what with their chiseled abs, high cheekbones, and penchant for swooping in to help get their heroine out of a tricky situation before stepping back to let her finish the job. But when you really think about it, most YA boyfriends are pretty lame. Take Divergent, for example: Four seems mysterious and protective, but compared to Tris, he's got about as much personality as one of the Dauntless punching bags. And this problem doesn't just affect Divergent. It pops up all over YA literature. Peeta follows Katniss around like a lost puppy, Gale's too pushy, and both Edward and Jacob are far too controlling. Surely if the protagonists (and readers) are going to devote their time, affection and Tumblr accounts to these boys, they should at least be a bit more deserving of the women in their lives.
To prove that underneath the muscles and put-on American accent there's not very much substance, we've rounded up the strongest and dreamiest YA franchise boyfriends and all of the reasons why they're actually really lame. Forget Team Edward or Team Gale; you're about to become Team Heroine.
Franchise: DivergentPlayed By: Theo JamesIs the Actor British? YesLove Interest: Tris PriorWhat’s his deal? He’s the handsome but mysterious Initiation Trainer for the Dauntless faction. He and Tris grow close over the course of her initiation, and he gives her some… hands-on training. Why You Think He’s Dreamy: He’s mysterious, strong and brave, and he goes out of his way to protect Tris. Plus, look at those cheekbones. His Big Secret: SPOILERS — He was abused by his fatherWhy He’s Actually Lame: Yes, he’s hot and strong, but when it comes down to it, there’s not a whole lot to Four. He’s there to look good and fight bad guys and occasionally, he’ll even manage to produce a whole smile. He spends all of his time either being rude to Tris or fawning all over her, and even when she's inside his head, there's still never any real spark of personality.
Franchise: The Hunger GamesPlayed By: Josh Hutcherson Is the Actor British? No Love Interest: Katniss Everdeen What’s his deal? He’s the male tribute form District 12 who fought against and then alongside Katniss in both Hunger Games. He’s been in love with Katniss since they were kids, and now they fake a relationship for the cameras, and bond over the trauma they experienced in the arena. Why You Think He’s Dreamy: He’s completely devoted to Katniss, and will help her deal with the aftermath of the games, even if that means he has to put his feelings aside in favor of hers. He’s kind and considerate and your mother would absolutely love him. His Big Secret: He doesn’t really keep secrets from herWhy He’s Actually Lame: Again, he’s pretty lacking in the personality department. His defining characteristics are that he can paint and he can bake — that's it. Plus, he mostly just follows Katniss around like a puppy dog and doesn’t contribute to anything. He spends most of the first Games painted to look like moss and he spends the second one either almost-drowning or being carried around.
Franchise: The Hunger Games Played By: Hemsworth the Younger Is the Actor British? He’s Australian, which is close enough. Love Interest: Katniss Everdeen What’s His Deal? He’s Katniss’ best friend, and since they’ve been inseparable since childhood, he’s not pleased about her new-found friendship with PeetaWhy You Think He’s Dreamy: He’s the reliable, caring best guy friend you’ve always wanted, who just so happens to be 6 feet tall and insanely hot. His Big Secret: He’s been working with rebels to overthrow the government while Katniss has been awayWhy He’s Actually Lame: He spends all of his time pushing Katniss to either date him — right after she just barely made it through a giant televised death match — or to publicly join the revolution, where she might be tortured or killed — right after she just barely managed to live through a giant televised death match — and then gets upset when she tells him she can’t make a decision right now. Come on, Gale, develop some perspective.
Franchise: Twilight Played By: Robert Pattinson Is the Actor British? Yep.Love Interest: Bella Swan What’s His Deal? He's Bella's lab partner-turned-boyfriend, who must balance his love for her with the overwhelming desire to drink her blood. Awkward. Why You Think He’s Dreamy: He looks like he was carved out of marble, he feels like he was carved out of marble, he’s shiny, he’s an old-fashioned gentleman, and he devotes all of himself to looking after Bella’s every needHis Big Secret: He’s a 107 year-old Vampire Why He’s Actually Lame: Before he and Bella get together, he spends his time stalking her, and then rejects her every time she comes near him. He sneaks into her room to watch her sleep at night, which is the creepiest thing in the world. He’s incredibly possessive, even going so far as to cut the brakes in Bella’s car in order to keep her from leaving. He dictates who she can and can’t hang out with and when, and he completely monopolizes her life. Like we said, he's really creepy.
Franchise: Twilight Played By: Taylor Lautner Is the Actor British? No Love Interest: Bella Swan/Renesmee CullenWhat’s His Deal? He and Bella were friends as kids, and now that they’re living in the same town again, they’ve rekindled that friendshipWhy You Think He’s Dreamy: His abs. Also, he’s kind, funny, considerate, and he's there for Bella whenever she needs him. But mostly the abs. His Big Secret: He’s a werewolfWhy He’s Actually Lame: He’s essentially the Nice Guy of YA literature, and he’s convinced himself that if Bella would just give him a chance, she would fall in love with him. He forces her to kiss him – during a major vampire battle in which she and her boyfriend might die – despite the fact that she’s told him over and over that she’s not interested. He’s also big into stalking, and oh, yeah, he falls in love with her newborn baby.
Franchise: Harry Potter Played by: Rupert Grint Is the Actor British? Of courseLove Interest: Hermione Granger What’s His Deal: One third of the Golden Trio, Ron is Harry Potter’s best friend and sidekick, alongside Hermione Granger. He and Hermione become interested in more than friendship over the course of their school years. Why You Think He’s Dreamy: He’s incredibly funny, unfailingly loyal, and he will surprise you with how thoughtful he can be. If your childhood best friend grew up to be a hot, caring, and witty, you’d have Ron Weasley. Plus, he's a talented Quidditch Keeper. Weasley is our King!His Big Secret: He’s been harboring a crush on Hermione for years. Also, he’s pretty insecure about how much smarter and braver his two best friends are, and he’s expecting them to ditch him at any moment. Why He’s Actually Lame: Of all of the boys on this list, Ron probably showed the most growth over the course of the series, which isn't surprising considering he was 11 when it began. Still, he can be jealous and immature, and is often dismissive of things that are important to other people. He's got a bit of a temper, and is easily offended. He lets his insecurity get the best of him, and he doesn't think before he speaks, which usually results in hurting other people's feelings.