Why do fans root for TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS? Main Lead/ Second Lead Debate

PLAYFUL CONVERSATION!! I just finished watching Love Alarm Season 2 and was thrilled by the ending. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was happy for everyone. But I am stunned by how many people are upset. This made me think…

Does who you root for in a love triangle k-drama say a lot about your relationships in real life? People tend to root for the Main Leads. 85% of the time those relationships are soooo toxic. Main leads are always selfish jerks. Need to see some health in these k-drama relationships LOL

Boys over flowers: EW
Heirs: Both were terrible
Cheese in the Trap: WHY

What are yall’s thoughts?


My opinion is that Asian dramas tend to follow a ridiculous pattern and that is the first guy that kiss the girl ends up with her. I have seen my share of dramas where my heart ache for the second lead that stays yearning for his love.I hope she stays with the one that is humble like her and has shown to be faithful and devoted to her. In Asian culture marriage/relationships are based on social class and they would never embrase into their lineage a child that is poor, orphan and not educated enough to meet their social status. I hope I don’t get disappointed with the ending. Let’s see…


Yeah that is an interesting point… Why do the writers stick with the trope of “the first kiss gets the girl?” Shared histories dont need to equate to being together.

And yes from what Ive learned, status us very important. I guess that is what makes the drams so compelling. Is love worth fighting everyone in your life just to stay together? lol

Yes, these tropes are what make kdramas entertaining, but I’m ready for them to evolve. Second lead syndrome is so real, its silly that its never a no brainer to the female leads.


I could not agree with this more. The trope is so toxic; stay with the abusive guy, who is super rich and powerful, and he will turn into a person. We eat a steady diet of this, and it teaches young people horrible relationship skills. Why can’t the nice guy, the one who is kind, understanding, and always there for the female lead, get the girl. For that matter, why are women in these shows treated like a prize to be won? Never once have I watched this and been happy to see the girl go with the jerk. Never.


Fans doesn’t really root for toxic relationships, they root for the main lead because

  • he is always an actor more popular than the second lead
  • he’s the one that the scenario favors
  • his bad actions have always an explanation and are minimized by the female lead or someone else

The second lead may be perfect but I think it’s also a way for scenarists to show that the relationship between the first leads is the ONE TRUE LOVE. :roll_eyes:

I often thought that a lot of things were ridiculous, that in real life the female lead would never accept that. We just have to remember that it’s just a TV show. The Asians are the first to say that nothing is true in dramas.


mine is; I root for the “underdog”


I like the Bad Boys! I do know that about myself! But they tend to be the ones who are angsty and broken in some way. They also deserve love. I just wanna fix them. I have to watch Cheese In the Trap cuz wonder who I’ll go for. I think I’ll go for the one she doesn’t choose but we shall see. I know we have had the discussion about Love Alarm, I just see it differently, some people agree with me, others don’t. I do not have any TOXIC relationships in my own life. I do not allow it. I even convinced a friend the other day to drop one in her life. I do like a strong, moderately possessive guy - that is not abusive. Kind of a knight in shining armor defender. I like the guy in 1%. I like the Lead in Secret Garden. So I might be in the minority there. But I see depth in characters sometimes that others don’t. I like the good Flirty guy like in My Secret Romance and I bet you guys think that is awful. Kill Me Heal Me I loved Shin Si Gi, Sorry! I liked the broken guy in I Am Not A Robot. I liked the guy in Beauty Inside who was somewhat broken. But to be fair I love Seo Kang Joons quiet character in I’ll Go to You When the Weather is Nice. (I guess I have not watched as many with 1st and 2nd lead like True Beauty, I need to catch up, I already know I’m gonna go for the bad boy). I still like the guys who cherish their girl and do anything for her! I did like Fated to Love You and that one I would have taken either one of them.

I also love Wuthering Heights so that tells you something!!!

I was team Edward! Not Jacob!

All in good FUN

(I still think that JoJo in Love Alarm was toxic in and of herself)


I also like the bad boy, not the toxic abusive ones, but the ones who are slightly damaged and love starved, that once they find ‘the one’ they’ll hold on for dear life.

1% of Something is one of my favorites, I loved Lee Jae In.
Actually I loved all the characters you mentioned.


Yes! Isn’t that the drama where this conversation happens?
“Why do girls always end up falling for bad guys?”
“Maybe it’s because with a good guy, you see all the 99% good and fall in love. So when you get familiar and find the 1% fault in him, you’re utterly disappointed (that he’s not as perfect as you imagined him). However, when you meet a guy who’s 99% bad on the outside, once you get closer, nothing but the 1% good in him will surprise you. You’ve already seen his flaws, now he just has to surprise you with his strengths.”

I do hate abusive/manipulative/toxic leads, but I totally agree with @sweetybirdtoo with these kinds of guys:

A lot of the time, the second leads are these nice, soft, bright, perfect guys whose characters who are soooo shallow if you stop to think about it. I love the loadsss of character development in shows like I Am Not A Robot, Lost Romance, Legend of the Blue Sea, Touch Your Heart, Go Back Couple…
As long as the ML isn’t all-out MISTREATING her (like in BoF/Noble My Love I couldn’t tolerate those idiots), I’m completely satisfied when they do that total turnabout in character :sweat_smile: never fails to bring a goofy grin to my face. With the nicey-nice SML, there’s not much more to see. Watching the ML soften and slowly sacrifice his dignified persona is tHE most satisfying thing to watch. You know that they’ll never ever let go. You can look back and see that you’ve really PROGRESSED through all those hours and episodes. The change is both hilarious and adorable. That’s why I hardly get SLS…you can’t live forever with a fluffy little puppy.

btw @kdrama2020ali “back in the day”, I was Team Edward too! :upside_down_face:


I am totally with you, you explained it a little better than me. I absolutely hated Noble My Love, his character in that was just a total turn off. But Marcus Chang in Lost Romance! Aw, I love him. The character development in these “Lost Boys” I call them like the con-man in Legend of the Deep Blue Sea and I Am Not A Robot just took my heart. They do tend to be a knight in shining armor with flaws in the end. I like your fluffy little puppy analogy (good one) I so far have not had second lead syndrome I don’t think except (Park Hyung Sik in High Society, another flawed sweetheart spoiled chaebol with the most beautiful heart, but he was a 2nd lead couple).

Why do girls always end up falling for bad guys?”

This explanation is GREAT!
“Maybe it’s because with a good guy, you see all the 99% good and fall in love. So when you get familiar and find the 1% fault in him, you’re utterly disappointed (that he’s not as perfect as you imagined him). However, when you meet a guy who’s 99% bad on the outside, once you get closer, nothing but the 1% good in him will surprise you. You’ve already seen his flaws, now he just has to surprise you with his strengths.”

Onward to more guys with FLAWS!:blue_heart:


I love these conversations! I am someone who gets waaayyyy into dramas. Watching them for me is like a physical exercise where Im standing up, yelling at the screen, walking away when I cant stand the character’s decision making :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:. My husband thinks I’m crazy.

But this is why I cant deal with these bad boys who go too far sometimes, no matter their background. I’m all for a good fixer-upper, flaw filled, damaged past guy (:rofl:) like in Whats Wrong With Secretary Kim and I Am Not A Robot (great example yall mentioned). Some writers make the symptoms of a hard life tooooo extreme though.

Did yall watch Meteor Garden (Boys over Flowers Remake?). Dao Ming Si was a perfect example of DTM (DOING TOO MUCH :rofl:).

When there’s a love triangle with 2 women and 1 man, I don’t recall the same level of toxicity (maybe im wrong). The women mainly just fight each other LOL


I keep hearing the song "Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What Ya Gonna Do, What Ya Gonna Do When They Come For You."

High End Crush just had a spoiled CEO, I loved it! He was so redeemable in the end. But it seems I have not watched very many love triangles yet

Vincenzo has me yelling at the screen, laughing, jumping up and down. My dog flipped out last night cuz I lost it on Eps 8


I think it has a lot to do with the culture and toxic norms in a lot of places. I think the whole idea of the controlling/protective bf is looked upon as good when most of the time that possessiveness and controlling behavior can be toxic. In more recent dramas (love alarm excluded lol) I feel like the main leads have not been AS bad as usual and I have not found myself rooting for the second lead in a while. Although, I tend to stay away from dramas where I do not like the main guy :sweat_smile:
I think people who support these unhealthy relationships might be more romantic and idealistic in their view of romance and tend to only see the positives/bright side of the relationship.
Despite my love for cheesy romance, I tend to be more of a pessimist and suspicious of people’s motives (mostly when it comes to men haha) so maybe that explains why I stay away from dramas with toxic relationships :grin:


I binge watched the second season and like you, I absolutely loved the ending! In fact, I’d say that the final episode was one of the most beautiful episodes I’ve seen in a long time, maybe since Mirror of the Witch. Writing wise, cinematography wise, theme wise, I was so pleased with the ending (plus, the relationship I was rooting for since episode one of the first season ended up together, so I was extra happy).

Most of the time, I root for the second lead because he usually cares for the girl in her good moments and her bad, and he actually respects her. I got halfway through Boys Over Flowers and couldn’t watch anymore because I just couldn’t understand how the girl chose the dude even when he was being so disrespectful to her. I guess I’m big on mutual respect and understanding in relationships, and a lot of popular drama relationships do not portray that :pensive:.

As for the relationship in Cheese in the Trap, I remember thinking that the problem was psychological on the guy’s side. Honestly, I think the choice in the end was inevitable because eventually he needed to work on getting better and becoming a better person. Maybe the relationship wasn’t healthy in the first place, but could that have been the idea that the writer wanted to get across?

Yes, the relationships in The Heirs were not ideal, but I really didn’t take that show seriously. In that way, I could casually choose which lead I liked, not which one was good for the female lead.

I think that sometimes, the fans just go for the lead who looks the most handsome, not the one who would be a better fit for the other lead, in personality, in mentality, and in values. Looks have their place, but there comes a certain point where if someone’s character is awful, their looks cannot save them.

But in the end, they are dramas. Sometimes they exaggerate things, sometimes they try to keep as close to reality as possible.


When I was younger, I would have rooted for the damaged and love starved guy any day! However, now that I’m somewhat older, even though I still wish for their happiness, I don’t usually ‘ship’ them with the female lead.


I love watching them change because of love. Ooh, that’s so fun to watch!


Y’all I’m watching Jugglers and WOW this tsundere male lead is WAYYY different from most of the bosses I’ve encountered before!! Though he’s abrupt and sometimes rude/uncaring with her, he never ever makes her do his personal work and wouldn’t stand others mistreating his secretary wayyy before he even liked her.
Though he has the cliche childhood trauma, he does feel extremely pathetic whenever he says anything mean to her and tries to make it up to her in his own awkwardly adorable ways :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I loveee the way he says such cheesy, romantic, cool lines to her and then sits in his own room and cringes over it :joy: And I’m so glad there’s no love triangle…the cute little second main lead has an arc of his own and bromances with the ML without trying to steal his girl. I love the way he calls his secretary “Wang-bi” as a play on her surname Wang and “biso”(비서-secretary) and it ends up meaning “Queen”(왕비):heart_eyes: it’s the tiny little things that make me love the drama


Vincenzo is such a fun drama!! I like how our protagonists aren’t experiencing too many losses. I watched episode 8 through my fingers because it was so hilariously cringey

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YES this is what makes them so fun and addicting! I love irrationally analyzing dramas! HAHA


Watching Coffee Prince for the first time right now and it brought me back to this conversation… Holy Toxic LOL. Every relationship is a complete mess.


I can’t remember which drama I was watching, but the relationship was so overly toxic that I was happy when the FL started to distance herself from this person. But people in the TC’s were complaining so much that I had to turn it off. They said that they would tolerate the abuse if it meant that they’d have such a handsome partner… Like what? No! No! No!

Your life experiences definitely shape the way you view these characters though. When I was younger and more naïve I though a fixer upper was okay… now I look at it differently (some fixer uppers will stay fixer uppers forever). I’ve also seen some people ruin their lives for a good amount of years falling for some of these tropes :cold_sweat:.