11 Reasons Why Gus From The Fault In Our Stars Would Be The Worst Boyfriend Ever

Okay. Just hear me out.

I read the book (and cried). I also watched the movie (where, again, I cried, though I must admit that I was slightly distracted by the girl sitting next to me who actually sobbed throughout the whole movie). The Fault In Our Stars is, by all accounts, an excellent piece of culture to consume if you’re trying to get some catharsis, replacing old standbys like A Walk To Remember and My Sister’s Keeper in the “emotional pornography to watch at sleepovers” canon. But lately, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that the universal collective heaving sob induced by hearing the word “okay” is distracting us all from the real issue of The Fault In Our Stars–that Gus is actually pretty terrible. Here’s why:

1. That Cigarette Metaphor

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This is, like, reason 1-1,000 for me, personally. You know the quote–“It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” Sorry, my eyes just FELL OUT OF MY HEAD because of how hard I was rolling them. Not only is this some immature, pretentious, wannabe-Holden Caulfield BS, it’s not even a real metaphor, technically. You know what you do with boys who insist on speaking in metaphors but don’t even know how to do so? BREAK UP WITH THEM.

2. Gus Is A Manic Pixie Dream Boy

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Much like how Jim Halpert’s crushability goes down the drain once you realize that he isn’t real, so too does Gus’ when you realize that he suffers from classic Manic Pixie Dream Boy Syndrome. Gus is basically the facsimile of every errant fantasy that has gone through any girl’s mind–he’s quirky, super-devoted, spontaneous, always talking about metaphors, etc. Matt Patches writes at Vulture, “he’s everything everyone wants in their lives, and he’s a fallacious notion of what we can actually have in our lives.” The problem with this? Besides being highly unrealistic, all of his qualities are also his flaws, but they are made to look like unquestionable facets of desirability.

3. Gus Doesn’t Understand The Word “No”

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Say someone is offering you, I don’t know, a piece of cake after you’ve already had three pieces. You like cake, but you’re pretty full, so you say no. Most people would say, “Yeah, I get that.” But say someone is all, “No, nothing. You love cake. You have to eat this cake. If you don’t, you’re missing out on the best experience of your life. Also, this cake is a metaphor.” That person is Gus. There are so, so many instances of when Hazel says “No thanks,” to something, but Gus is like, “No means nothing to me, buddy.” Like when he asks her out, she says no, and he actually says, “Your trying to keep your distance from me in no way lessens my affection for you.” BYE.

4. Gus’ Pickup Lines…Need Work

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On that line, why does nobody ever talk about how Gus’ true passion, apparently, is (terrible) pickup artistry? We forget this a lot, I’m pretty positive, because he’s played by Ansel “Ansolo” Elgort, regulation hottie, but how do his words hold up when they aren’t coming from Anel Elgort’s (metaphorical) cigarette holder? Not so great. Like, when they first meet, Gus won’t stop staring at Hazel. When she’s like, “Uh, why are you inflicting your male gaze upon me,” (paraphrasing by me) he says, “Because you’re beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence.” Try-hard? Check. Pretentious? Check. Creepy? Check. Do less, Gus.

5. Just Call Hazel By Her First Name, Jerk

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Gus insists on calling Hazel “Hazel Grace,” which seems cute until you realize it sound like how your mom says your name when she’s mad at you for using up too much of the family plan’s cell phone data, or when you keep putting broccoli in your mouth at the dinner table and calling it a metaphor.

6. Everything About Gus Is Performative

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I mean, this brings us right back to Gus’ metaphorical cigarette line, doesn’t it? Quoth John Green himself: “I think in a lot of ways Gus is one of those guys who like, the first time you meet him you’re like ‘that guy’s amazing’ and then the second time you meet him you’re like, ‘that guy only has five funny stories about himself,’ those people who are sort of very performed in their lives.”

7. Gus Doesn’t Really Seem To Care About His Dead Ex-Girlfriend

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In the book, Gus has this ex-girlfriend, Caroline, who he feels pretty “meh” about. He wanted to dump her, but he couldn’t. Remember why? She had a brain tumor, and, as Gus says, “you can’t dump someone with a brain tumor.” (To be fair, the brain tumor made Caroline say mean things to Gus, but still.) Luckily, he dodges that bullet, because Caroline dies from said brain tumor, allowing Gus and his cigarette metaphor to slime on over to Hazel. He recounts this later to Hazel with an oddly blasé “over it” tone, implying that he liked her but he doesn’t really care now. Why don’t you care about your dead ex-girlfriend, Gus??

8. What Does Gus Like To Do, Anyway?

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Like, actually. What does Gus like, besides Hazel and cigarette metaphors? He used to play basketball, but he hated it. He likes video games, like any other teenage boy. He likes V For Vendetta, I guess. Other than that, his personality is a blank, ambiguous sponge that allows him to soak up all of Hazel’s interests and make them his own. This is weird and borderline stalker-y behavior, people.

9. Gus Doesn’t Care About Hazel’s Health

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Going along with his whole “not taking no for an answer” shtick, Gus basically peer-pressures Hazel into coming to Amsterdam with him, even though she’s really not supposed to fly (and he shouldn’t either, which we’ll get to in a second.) Like, metaphor-filled romantic getaways are great and all, but not if they are literally foisted upon you.

10. Gus Ruined Hazel’s Favorite Book

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This is maybe not fair, since Gus was just trying to do a nice thing and get Hazel to meet Peter van Houten, and had no way of knowing that he would be a class-A jerk. Still, though, has he really never heard that you should never meet your heroes, because they’ll always disappoint you?

Besides, Hazel didn’t really want to meet him, but at this point in the story, it’s pretty clear that, to Gus, the word “no” sounds like the way the grown-ups talk in Peanuts cartoons. Wah-wah-wah-it’s a metaphor-wah-wah-wah.

11. Gus Lied About Being Sick

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This is kinda the clincher, for me: Gus doesn’t care about his own health any more than he does about Hazel’s, and he certainly doesn’t care about informing the people he loves about it. Right after he tells Hazel that he loves her and they have sex for the first time, he drops the kicker that oh, he’s also definitely dying very, very soon. To me, this isn’t a protection, but rather a massive betrayal. It’s his sickness and he has his own agency about who he wants to tell and when he wants to tell them, of course,but considering how much he expects from Hazel, it’s not fair at all that he chose to wait until the last minute. Cute metaphors can only soften the blow to a certain extent, you know.

Am I *literally* insane? Is Gus actually the best? Hate on me in the comments below!

You can follow the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter or Instagram.

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  • Independent Radical

    I know this post is old, but I would like to say that I complete agree. I think all your points are dead on. I didn’t like Gus at all. This may have to do with the fact that I listened to the audiobook before watching the movie. The actor is attractive and makes horrible, creepy lines sound charming.

    Without that element Gus isn’t appealing at all. What’s sexy about “All attempts to keep me from you are going to fail.”? Nothing. Imagine a “non-hot” (Hazel’s term from the book, btw) guy saying that line. Most women would run away, but Gus is a hot guy with a tragic destiny so he’s allowed to say those things.

    Physical attractiveness (Hazel references Gus’s muscles and general hotness over and over in the book) and superficial charm (in the form of pretentious dialogue) don’t make for a good boyfriend. Gus is lacking in any true moral virtue.

    He’s nice to Hazel because she’s hot (again he references this over and over) and he wants to get laid before he dies (he learns early on that his cancer has come back so “I’m gonna die a virgin” isn’t a joke, getting laid is seriously his top priority, which is why he sacrifices his health). A truly good male is good even when he doesn’t have to be (hence the waiter test). Gus doesn’t show anyone else the same respect he shows Hazel.

    He treats Isaac as a nuisance when he gets upset (not that I like Isaac either), he stops his medical treatments to go to Amsterdam without regard for how his parents will feel if he dies, he comes up with the plan to egg Monica’s car (even though Monica’s only “crime” was not wanting to be in a sexual relationship with Isaac, Gus really needs to learn to respect women’s rights to say “no”), urges Isaac to participate in it (even though he was over the breakup at that point) threatens Monica’s mother (who did absolutely nothing wrong) and encourages Hazel to fall in love with him while knowing that he has cancer and that she will have to take care of him and watch him die.

    The overly selfless and submissive Hazel goes along with it, but think about it. Would you want to be called at 1:30am in the morning and asked to handle a gruesome medical emergency because your boyfriend was too arrogant to call someone more qualified. Fiddling with bodily fluid filled tubes without the proper gloves or knowledge of what to do is not my idea of romance.

    It’s not Gus’s fault he has cancer but the way he handles it is horribly irresponsible and selfish. Instead of trying to stay alive for the sake of those who love him, he takes risk for the sake of his masculine ego.

    He are a few other reasons I want to add to the listen;

    1. He only likes things that are overly violent (e.g. R-rated movies, militaristic videos and their novelisations). Hazel doesn’t like that stuff, but doesn’t tell him lest that upset his masculine ego.

    2. He pretentiously tells Hazel to shut up (that’s what “I’m in the midst of a grand soliloquy” meant in that context), because his pretentious rehearsed monologue (not soliloquy) is more important

    3. He is vengeful. In addition to the Monica incident, he thinks it would be a good idea to travel around murdering former Nazis (who are in fact elderly people who haven’t done anything for 70 years). In general he comes off as a man who thinks all problems can be solved with violence and is obsessed with being a masculine hero.

    4. He thinks paedophilia and crude sexual humour (coming mostly from Isaac) is funny.

    In general he comes off as a typical masculinity-conforming man who thinks all problems can be solved with “heroic” violence and aggression, obsesses over sex (he also feels entitled to it and is willing to lie to get it), likes his ladies submissive (Hazel is awesome according to him because she wants to leave as little impact upon the world as possible) and believe his ideas are better than everyone else’s.

    He’s only appealing in the short term because of his looks and charm. Anyone who stayed with him for the longer than the month or so Hazel knew him for would get sick of him.

  • Hannah Eschelbach

    THANK YOU I thought I was the only one immune to his quote-unquote charms.

  • Alyxandra Sarik

    One of the most horrible assumptions that our culture has, is the belief that we have to find the perfect person to fall in love with. Run for the hills if they have a flaw! That’s why this article is shallow crap. The story isn’t about how Gus is the perfect boyfriend. Its about how two broken characters fell in love. Gus may have been over the top and full of himself, but he is exactly what Hazel needed. She felt invisible and a shadow of herself. People like her need people like him to get them out of their shells. And it isn’t like he is one of those inconsiderate creeper guys that like to holler at us from the streets and only sees women as something to toy with, like you so graciously boxed him in with. He actually demonstrated his sincere love for Hazel many times and he cared about her. So before you use your writing to needlessly criticize certain kinds of people, (because I know people like him who are amazing) try and write something actually worth reading

  • Rose Waters

    Maybe… But I think that the worst is if it was Hazel who did all this, she would pass for a crazy annoying girlfriend, like ten time worst than him just because we are used to see the guy in this protective-yet-surprising-role and the girl in a passive and/or kinda bitchy clever. In fact, between my bf and me, I would be more Gus-like than him.

  • Ashley McCaig

    Wow I disagree with this post 110%. I cant even begin to put into words the number of issues I have with it.

  • I died laughing reading this! I love how you included the metaphor thing in every paragraph. I’ve never really thought about Gus being problematic but I guess I would be thinking about this all week now

    • Sara Hendricks

      Hehe sorry if I ruined him for you!!

      • Don’t worry. John Green ruined him for me the moment he killed him