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[[quoteright:350:[[VideoGame/SuperMario3DLand http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Mario-DamselInDistress_2325.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[SaveThePrincess Just another Wednesday for]] [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Princess Peach]].]]

->''"[[LampshadeHanging Why is she always the one getting kidnapped]]?'' I'm ''the princess!"''
-->-- '''Amalia Sheran Sharm''', ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}''

A character, usually female and nubile, is portrayed as [[NeutralFemale helpless]] and in danger in order to put the cast in motion. In particular, the cast is unified, putting aside [[DividedWeFall differences]] in pursuit of the rescue.

This works if the damsel in distress is a beloved character, but can be very annoying if the audience [[DamselScrappy wouldn't mind her dead]], or sees the helplessness as CharacterDerailment. An ActionGirl who [[{{Chickification}} becomes a damsel in distress]] is likely a FauxActionGirl, though not always; if they can reclaim their ActionGirl credentials after being freed, they were just experiencing BadassInDistress after being thrown a DistressBall.

[[RealWomenNeverWearDresses Don't expect people to cut her some slack, even if she logically would not have the power or abilities necessary to help]]. In more other works the damsel is [[DamselOutOfDistress more likely to rebel one way or another]], which can either help or make things worse. The screaming associated with this trope has largely been replaced with [[DefiantCaptive getting angry and telling her captors to put her down]], but she will still scream when they throw her off a building.

Sometimes the character gets kidnapped for the sake of her [[WorldsMostBeautifulWoman good looks]] or [[BlueBlood royal blood]], but in other works she's more likely doing something that is a threat to the party that kidnaps her ([[IntrepidReporter reporters are common]]), which allows her to look smart and independent [[UnfortunateImplications before she needs to be saved]]. Alternatively, she can end up prisoner as a HeroicSacrifice; realizing that there is only enough room to get all the children on the transport, or attempting to free other prisoners (which may or may not succeed before her capture) are popular.

Generally expected to give TheHero a SmoochOfVictory when he rescues her. [[ILetGwenStacyDie Unless]] [[RedundantRescue he doesn't.]]

This is a type of LivingMacGuffin. ChainedToARock is an ancient form; GirlInTheTower and HypnotizeThePrincess came later. Damsels in distress are often BoundAndGagged, especially where AuthorAppeal is concerned.

If the kidnapper in question is particularly nasty, expect an IHaveYouNowMyPretty situation to occur. If the character does not become a DamselScrappy but still is constantly captured, they are a DesignatedVictim. A more sexist version is the DisposableWoman.

For the GenderFlip, see DistressedDude. See also DistressBall, StandardFemaleGrabArea, DeterminedWidow, IHaveYourWife, ThePresidentsDaughter, SaveThePrincess. If the girl is actually ''faking'' this for her own benefits, depending on her purposes she's either a DeliberatelyDistressedDamsel or a DecoyDamsel. A typical damsel that rescues herself is a DamselOutOfDistress. If she has a strong spirit despite captivity than he/she is a DefiantCaptive.

Not to be confused with the 2012 comedy film ''Film/DamselsInDistress''.

''[[TropeCo/DistressedDamsel This item]] is available in the TropeCo/TropeCo catalog.''

!!Example subpages

* DamselInDistress/{{Anime And Manga}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Comic Books}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Fairy Tales}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Animated Films}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Live-Action Films}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Literature}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Live-Action TV}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Music}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Myths And Religion}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Pinball}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Video Games}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Web Comics}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Web Original}}
* DamselInDistress/{{Western Animation}}

!!Other examples


* Lola Bunny at the end of this [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAB-zHpcmag UK advert for Walkers Crisps.]]

* Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''[[http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch060.htm King Estmere]]''. The king goes wooing on the recommendation of his brother, and arrives to find the lady is being forced to marry. He rescues her.
* Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''[[http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch095.htm The Maid Freed from the Gallows]]'' has the heroine about to be hanged if she is not ransomed. Various relatives arrive and declare they are there to see her hanged. Finally, her true love arrives and ransoms her. (Most American versions of this ballad feature a GenderFlip version, of a man about to be hanged, but this is the older variant.)
* In the Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''Literature/SirAldingar'', the queen.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* [[MarySue Ariana Black]] of Fanfic/TheArianaBlackSeries gets kidnapped or otherwise endangered by Voldemort at least once per fic.
* Nala is this at times in Fanfic/TheLionKingAdventures, most notably when she's kidnapped by Scar and Hago in ''King's Ransom''.

* ''Radio/TheShadow'''s companion Margot Lane served the function of designated hostage more often than not...especially if a MadScientist needed a "test subject."
** Margot Lane is also an example of {{Flanderization}}. In the early episodes with Orson Welles, she was fairly competent and saved The Shadow almost as much as he saved her.

* Alice Faulkner in ''Theatre/SherlockHolmes''.
* The sister in Creator/JohnMilton's ''Theatre/{{Comus}}'',