• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


Farm-Fresh balance.pngYMMVTransmit blue.pngRadarWikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotes • (Emoticon happy.pngFunnyHeart.pngHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3.pngAwesome) • Refridgerator.pngFridgeGroup.pngCharactersScript edit.pngFanfic RecsSkull0.pngNightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out icon.pngShout OutMagnifier.pngPlotGota icono.pngTear JerkerBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersHelp.pngTriviaWMGFilmRoll-small.pngRecapRainbow.pngHo YayPhoto link.pngImage LinksNyan-Cat-Original.pngMemesHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconicLibrary science symbol .svg SourceSetting
File:Cruelintentions 9451.jpg

Cruel Intentions is a 1999 American drama film written and directed by Roger Kumble. The movie is a comedic and dramatic appropriation of the 18th-century French epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Laclos, but unlike other modern film versions of the novel (Dangerous Liaisons) is not set in the France of that time.

The story follows a handful of wealthy teenagers living in modern New York City. The plot is mainly driven by a bet held between the two main characters, and it heavily involves manipulation, seduction, and love in a rich and sophisticated socially elite youth atmosphere.

The film started as an independent film with a much smaller budget, and was later picked up by Columbia Pictures. The film was released on March 5, 1999. It was later followed by two direct-to-video films: a prequel, Cruel Intentions 2, and a sequel, Cruel Intentions 3.

Tropes used in Cruel Intentions include:
  • Adults Are Useless
  • Alpha Bitch: Deconstructed with Kathryn. She is the most popular girl in school and regularly abuses the privilege, but she is also a borderline recluse much of the time and confesses to Sebastian that she isn't really happy with her life. Honestly, her desire to want to humiliate other girls is more out of envy than pure sadism.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Again, Kathryn (Type II). She's actually more of a Jerkass Woobie with the "woobie" part significantly reduced, in that so many of her cruel schemes are motivated by a Scrooge-like resentment toward the rest of the world.
    • Sebastian, too (also a Type II). He's as scuzzy as his stepsister in the beginning, but as the tale progresses his saving graces become much more evident.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Annette's friend Greg plays on the football team and makes himself out to be a heterosexual jock type. Of course he isn't, which is taken advantage of by Sebastian.
  • Batman Cold Open: Sebastian's session with the psychologist to deal with his "sexual addiction." This also serves as his Establishing Character Moment, where he comes onto his doctor who, after he leaves, receives a phone call from her crying daughter telling her that Sebastian seduced her and let him take nude photos of her that he posts on the internet. Game, set, match.
  • The Bet
  • Betty and Veronica: Sebastian must choose between his affections for the sweet, blond Annette and the cruel, dark-haired Kathryn.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Kathryn.
  • Bittersweet Ending or Downer Ending: Kathryn gets her comeuppance in the end, but Sebastian dies, both Annette and Cecile seem to have become more corrupted from the experience, and even Kathryn's defeat (set to The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony") isn't pleasant. It's more bittersweet if you choose to be hopeful about all three girls' futures, so it's all up to the audience to decide in the end.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Sebastian and Blaine
  • Book Ends: The opening scene is the same as the last scene, except with Annette replacing Sebastian.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: When Sebastian comes to collect from Kathryn, she just laughs in his face and gives him a Reason You Suck Speech.
  • Camp Gay: Blaine
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Though their uniforms are more drab and conservative than is popularly portrayed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sebastian's journal. He's seen with it throughout the film writing or inserting pictures. He later delivers it to Annette for her to read in order to wipe his slate clean. After Sebastian's untimely death due to Kathryn's manipulation, Annette does something else with it. See Cry For The Devil below.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: The psychiatrist's daughter is a psychological mess.
    • Not really, she's been seduced by someone who took nude pictures of her, and she just found out that they've been posted on the internet. Most women, not to mention young teenage girls, would be extremely upset at this, no matter how psychologically balanced they were.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Sebastian and Kathryn wear black and other dark colors, while Annette prefers white and pastels.
  • Corrupt the Cutie
  • Covered in Mud: In the second film, Sebastian pushes Kathryn in a pool of mud as a declaration of war.
  • Cry for the Devil: Anette knows that Kathryn is ultimately responsible for Sebastian's death through what she read in Sebastian's journal. Many photocopies of it are then made and Anette gets Cecile to distribute it to the other students at school. Kathryn is delivering a eulogy for Sebastian in the chapel when someone enters the church and quietly lets the higher-ups know what is going on. Everyone begins to exit the chapel, prompting an outraged rant from the normally composed Kathryn. She storms out, demanding an explanation....and soon comes to realize that everyone now knows the whole truth about her. As she stands in shock, the school's headmaster comes up behind her and detaches the crucifix from her necklace....causing a trail of cocaine to spill out. This prompts tears of shame from Kathryn to end the movie on a sad note.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The ending for some, as Kathryn had no intention of killing Sebastian, yet her downfall comes due to her being held responsible.
    • Cecile seemed to be the only one in it for pure revenge; Annette does try to get Kathryn to "try for some remorse" prior to the reveal and offered up friendship. Her chief reason for outing Kathryn's true nature had more to do with Sebastian's wishes than for Sebastian's vengeance.
  • The Ditz: Cecile.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The two main characters receive a negative version of this in the prequel.
  • Diving Save
  • Evil Gloating
  • Evil Tastes Good: Kathryn basically says this in one scene.
  • Evil Is Scared Of Feeling Good: "....She made me laugh."
  • Expy:
    • Sebastian Valmont is Vicomte de Valmont
    • Kathryn Merteuil is Marquise de Merteuil
    • Annette Hargrove is Madame de Tourvel
    • Cecile Caldwell is Cécile de Volanges
    • Ronald Clifford is Chevalier Danceny
    • Bunny Caldwell is Madame de Volanges
    • Court Reynolds is Comte de Gercourt
    • Helen Rosemont is Madame de Rosemonde
    • Sebastian's journal represents the letters Vicomte de Valmont possessed
  • Flirty Stepsiblings
  • For the Evulz

Kathryn: You were very much in love with her. And you're still in love with her. But It Amused Me to make you ashamed of it. You gave up on the first person you ever loved because I threatened your reputation. Don't you get it? You're just a toy, Sebastian. A little toy I like to play with. And now you've completely blown it with her. I think it's the saddest thing I've ever heard.


Kathryn: It's all right for guys to fuck everyone... ...but when I do it, I get dumped for twits like Cecile. God forbid I exude confidence and enjoy sex. Do you think I relish acting like Mary Sunshine so I can be considered a lady? I'm the Marcia-fucking-Brady of the Upper East Side... ...and sometimes I want to kill myself. There's your psychoanalysis, Dr. Freud.

  • Hair of Gold: Annette
  • Hands-On Approach: With a Cello.
  • Heel Face Turn:
    • Sebastian, who's every bit as slimy as his stepsister at the beginning, just couldn't continue being such a jerk after Annette genuinely won his heart. Whether Kathryn has one after going through the inevitable rehab program remains to be seen.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: After Annette is pushed onto the road by Ronald during his and Sebastian's fight, Sebastian pushes her out of the way of an oncoming car and gets hit himself. He would succumb to the accident.
  • Instant Seduction: Sebastian, apparently. In his first scene he tells a girl that she's beautiful, and the next we see him a few hours later he's already had sex with her.
  • Invisible Parents: Sebastian and Kathryn's parents are only vaguely mentioned as being out of the country.
  • Kissing Cousins / Twincest: The twins in the second movie claim to be Kissing Cousins, but were played by Real Life twins.
    • Some have accused Sarah Michelle Gellar of being this too.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kathryn's downfall comes about from people whom she screwed over. Her secrets are exposed by the journal of Sebastian, which was copied by Annette and distributed to the student body by Cecile.
  • Lean and Mean: In the form of the rail-like Kathryn.
  • Light Is Not Good: Kathryn can't seem to stop telling people how fortunate she is to be a part of the Roman Catholic faith. She speaks as if Jesus Christ is her greatest ally and even wears a rosary as a necklace in public. But despite all that she is an insufferable elitist, and manipulative, spiteful and cruel, and stashes cocaine inside a hollowed-out crucifix at the end of her rosary.
  • Love Redeems: Sebastian, sort of.
    • Love Makes You Evil: On the other hand, the last shot of the movie, (Annette driving Sebastian's car, wearing Sebastian's sunglasses, and smirking like Sebastian did at the start of the movie) indicates that loving Sebastian may not have been all too good for Annette...
    • The original ending was far less ambigious; in it, Annette DOES become evil and, instead of publishing Sebastian's journal and expose Kathryn, uses the possibility of doing that to blackmail Kathryn into becoming her minion, who she plans on using to completely fuck around with the social order of her father's school.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Sebastian
  • Manipulative Bitch: Kathryn, IN SPADES
  • Noodle Incident: Cecile's mother about Sebastian: "I can't believe they didn't expel him after what he did to the school nurse."
  • Not Blood Siblings: Sebastian Valmont and Kathryn Merteul.
  • Panty Shot: Cecile Caldwell (Selma Blair) sitting on the couch with her legs open, giving a view of white panties under her khaki short skirt, teasing while in an interview for a college entrance and acceptance.
  • Pet the Dog: A small moment for Kathryn, when she tells Cecile's mother that Cecile's been seeing Ronald. Kathryn isn't just surprised, but shocked, maybe even angry and upset, when Cecile's mother is angry over Ronald being black (Kathryn thought she would be upset over Ronald being "hired help"). She may be manipulative and play games with people's lives, but race doesn't seem to be an issue for her (further emphasized when SHE later sleeps around with Ronald as part of her scheme.)
    • Sebastian deliberately goes for this when volunteering to help Annette work at the old people home, with humorous results.
  • Popular Is Dumb: Subverted as Kathryn and Sebastian are in fact pretty intelligent.
  • Practice Kiss: In a Les Yay example of this trope, this is proposed by Manipulative Bitch Kathryn to the innocent Cecile, who is worried about making a fool of herself when kissing her boyfriend for the first time. After the kiss Cecile is left breathless, and unconsciously leans forward for more as Kathryn pulls away.
  • Prequel: Cruel Intentions 2....sort of (It was actually a pilot for a TV show that never happened.)
  • Really Gets Around
  • Redemption Equals Death and Death Equals Redemption: Sebastian dies saving the girl he loves from a car crash and in death he owes up to his and his sisters' crimes through his journal that Annette gets published, which exposes their cruel intentions.
  • Secret Diary
  • Setting Update
  • Sinister Shades
  • Smug Snake: Kathryn spirals into this toward the end. For much of the movie, she's very competant and successful at manipulation, but she really overreaches when she turns on Sebastian, whose assistance was a big contributor to her past success.
  • Spit Trail Kiss
  • Straw Hypocrite: Kathryn uses gay slurs towards men ("Trevor's a fag", "Could you be more queer?") but has no problem kissing Cecile, twice, with tongue.
  • Teens Are Monsters
  • There Are No Adults: The few adults who do exist on rare occasions are clueless.
  • Token Minority: Ceciles' 'unsuitable' lover, Ronald. Kathryn was expecting Cecile's mother to be shocked at the idea of her daughter dating the "hired help". She's surprised when the mother is instead horrified because Ronald's black.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Cecile.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Again, Cecile, who gets more bitchy and slutty as the film goes on, just as Kathryn had planned.
  • Tsundere: Sebastian pretty much accuses Annette of being this at one point ("Hot one minute, cold the next")
  • Unholy Matrimony: Sebastian and Kathryn's parents. When she tells him that her mother suspects his father of doing the maid he says excellent, while he calls her mother a gold digging whore.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused: Becomes something of a running gag across the series.
  • Villainous BSOD: Kathryn at the end.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sebastian originally had one when Kathryn refuses to sleep with him even after he dumps Annette, going into a tearful, psychotic tirade and even hitting Kathryn. However, it was cut out because it lessened the feeling that Sebastian could truly be redeemed. Interestingly, Kathryn still tells Ronald that Sebastian hit her, making it seem like a lie when it was originally meant to be true.
  • Villain Protagonists
  • Virginity Flag: Annette suddenly wears dark clothes in contrast to her former pastel wardrobe. Sebastian also wears a bright blue shirt to symbolize that he has fallen in love with her.
  • Virginity Makes You Stupid: Subverted with Annette, played straight with Cecile.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Ronald with Cecile.
  • Wicked Cultured: Kathryn speaks Vietnamese, French and has sashimi as a midday snack. Sebastian rides, is an expert marksman and quite well read. He also drives a vintage Jaguar, which Kathryn covets.
  • Woman Scorned