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Everyone knows dating is fraught with tension. As if the usual stress of trying to impress someone special weren't enough, sometimes things go badly. Really badly. That's what happens when you have a Bad Date, which can be played for either comedy or drama.

The Bad Date has long been a staple of the Romantic Comedy. Common elements of the comically bad date include social gaffes, allergic reactions or intolerance to certain foods, tactless comments, interfering friends, poor wardrobe decisions, or any combination of the above. The Rom Com bad date tends to come in two types. The first type is a date suffered by the protagonist, which serves as a trial that the protagonist has to endure to secure his or her desired Love Interest. The second type is a way of weeding out Romantic False Leads or otherwise demonstrating that a couple is not a good match. Either type of date can result from sabotage by another interested party who wants the date to fail.

The dramatic Bad Date is much the same thing, but not played for laughs. The couple may have a fight, with one of them storming out. Or one of them could just be obnoxious and the other one waits patiently for it to be over. Or, as it used to be called, it could end in a "bad date," once upon a time code for Date Rape.

Any Bad Date could be played for laughs, for drama, or for both.

If the bad date is the result of an online dating service, see Dating Service Disaster. If the bad date is just one in a series of bad dates suffered by the protagonist, it's probably part of a Terrible Interviewees Montage. If the character is trying to date two people at the same time, see Two-Timer Date. Date Peepers is a specific kind of interference that may result in a bad date. See Blind Date, which can also overlap with this trope.

Comedic Examples:


  • In Look Who's Talking, James sabotages Molly's date with the fellow accountant, telling him not to pay for dinner, open the door for her, etc. Molly's pretty unhappy with both the date and (when she learns of it) James' interference.
  • In Along Came Polly, Reuben's date with Polly is ruined because the restaurant she chose triggered his IBS.
  • This is pretty much the whole premise of the film Mystery Date. The main character borrows his bother's car for his date and finds a dead body in the trunk. And then It Gets Worse.
  • Sandy is set up on a Blind Date that turns out to be a disaster in The Rebound.
  • In Something New, Kenya and Brian meet on a Blind Date that goes horribly when she realises he is white.
  • In Problem Child 2, Junior has a bit of a problem adjusting to his dad trying to get him a new mom, and as a result sabotages two of his dates. This sets up the Cassandra Truth situation later in the movie where Junior is trying to get his dad not to marry Lawanda Dumore, a Rich Bitch Child-Hater who has it in for him.
  • The movie Blind Date is all about Bruce Willis being set up with a woman who shouldn't have alcohol... and yet he lets her drink.

Fan Works

Live Action TV

  • On How I Met Your Mother, Ted often goes on dates that go badly. Barney is the quintessential Bad Date.
  • Most of the entertainment value of The Millionaire Matchmaker comes from this trope.
  • On Donna and Eric's first date in That 70's Show, Donna orders an iced tea and is mistakenly served a Long Island iced tea. Not only is the date spent trying to keep Donna from making an idiot of herself, but Hyde later shows up to profess his feelings for Donna.
  • There's a one-off episode of Rik Mayall Presents in which Mayall's character manages to give his blind-date the impression that he's a serial rapist and killer, and her panic escalates to the point where she locks him in her burning flat.
  • On the Reality TV show Blind Date, dates that went particularly badly were featured as "Dates From Hell".
  • Ryan plans a romantic date on Oddities. Dinner and then a meeting with a bone artist and his flesh eating beetles. What could possibly go wrong?

Newspaper Comics

  • This happens fairly often to Jon in Garfield, until a storyline of comics from 2006 allowed him and Liz to become an official couple.


  • In all of Jonathan Rand's Check Please short plays, most of the comedy is derived from the hilariously terrible blind dates that the two leads, named in the scripts as Guy and Girl, go on before Guy proposes to Girl at the end of Check Please, Take 3.

Web Original

 Dr. Horrible: Hey, didn't you ah... didn't you go on a date last night? Conflict Diamond told me you were doubling with Bait and Switch.

Moist: Yeah...

Dr. Horrible: Yeah?

Moist: It was alright... I kinda thought I was supposed to end up with Bait, but...

Dr. Horrible: I hear ya.

  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a sketch called "Dating Solutions." They also have "Date Wars," which is a bad date summarized in an actiony death-ray battle.

Western Animation

Dramatic Examples:


  • Gaia's first date in Fearless ends with her date trying to kill her. She notes that among the worst first date stories she's ever heard, it ranks by and large as the worst she can imagine.

Live Action TV

  • Joan's bad date with her fiance in Mad Men.

Both Comedy and Drama:


  • In Hitch, he goes on a jet ski date and accidentally kicks her in the fact, then accidentally forces her to confront the reality of her genocidal ancestor, and on another date has a bad reaction to food and looks like an ass and... these are funny, but they also demonstrate that he's not actually any good at dating, in spite of his alleged expertise.
  • In When Harry Met Sally, the titular characters bond over bad dating experiences. These are usually comedic, but venture into the dramatic when Harry talks about dates being ruined when he is reminded of his ex-wife and becomes overcome with regret over her.

Live Action TV

  • Happens in Burn Notice: occasionally Fiona pushes Michael to treat their relationship like a personal relationship rather than a professional spy relationship with sex involved. One time he promises her a romantic dinner. Unfortunately, after a job goes south, they don't have the money for a nice place, so they end up back at The Carlito, their usual hangout. They play it for laughs and show the rocky nature of Michael and Fi's relationship.

 Fiona: I distinctly recall you saying someplace nice. We're at the Carlito; we eat half our meals here. Have you forgotten what a date is?

Michael: I said that when I thought we were gonna be five grand richer!

Waitress: Would you like anything else?

Fiona: Yes, your most expensive dessert, please.

A little shop talk, and then Sam sits down.

Sam: Well, you two look as good as I feel.

Fiona: You invited him?

Sam: I need an invite to Carlito's now?

A little more shop talk, then Fi's dessert shows up.

Sam: Okay, wait a second, is this a date?

Michael: Yes. [and at the same time]

Fiona: No. This is officially not a date.

Sam: Alrighty, can you bring us another spoon?

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