Damsel In Distress: Western Animation

  • Classic Disney Shorts, Looney Tunes, Popeye, and other vintage theatrical cartoons used this trope to death.
    • Popeye saves Olive from Bluto/Brutus...
      • Subverted at least once in an old cartoon - Bluto enters Olive's room, and a scuffle breaks out, Olive is crying for help - when Popeye enters, Olive is still yelling while clubbing an unconscious Bluto with a skillet.
    • Buddy saves Cookie from a Bluto-like character...
    • Mighty Mouse saves Pearl Pureheart from Oil Can Harry...
    • Bimbo or Koko saves Betty Boop from various baddies...
    • Bosko saves Honey from more various baddies...
    • The pre-Mighty Mouse Terrytoons mouse lead saves his girlfriend from more various baddies...
    • Toby the Pup saves Tessie from more various baddies...
    • Flip the Frog saves Flap, Kitty, and Fifi from even more various baddies...
    • Julius saves Alice from Pegleg Pete...
    • Oswald saves Sadie from Pegleg Pete....
    • Mickey Mouse saves Minnie from Pegleg Pete (Disney only had one recurring villain... pass it on).
      • Subverted in Pioneer Days and Building a Building, where Mickey tries to rescue Minnie but is captured himself, whereupon Minnie breaks free on her own and rescues Mickey.
      • But played straight as recently as Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers
      • Even his dog, Pluto, gets in on the trope, saving love interests Dinah and Fifi a few odd times.
    • Subverted along with everything else in Chuck Jones' melodrama parody The Dover Boys as their fiancée, Dora Standpipe, is abducted by villain Dan Backslide - she doesn't break the pace of her cries for help even as she demolishes Dan.
  • Subverted in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends special, "Destination Imagination"; the plot was to save Frankie after she was kidnapped by an imaginary friend who controls a trippy world inside a toy box, but near the end it's revealed that she wasn't kidnapped at all, and that she willingly stayed with the imaginary friend to keep him company. But at the climax, when the imaginary friend has a Villainous Breakdown and becomes a monster (thanks to a verbal lashing by Mr. Herriman), the characters fight him to protect Frankie from being trapped in the imaginary world forever. However, the gang are roundly defeated by the monster, and ultimately it's Frankie who becomes the hero of the story: not only does she distract the monster so that the gang can escape the toybox — she briefly stays behind but soon escapes on her own, thus completing the subversion — but she chooses to free the lonely friend as well, having offered to bring him to Foster's, where he can have all the friends in the world.
  • Nell Fenwick on Dudley Do-Right is a parodic composite of the woman tied to train tracks in the gothic genre.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop is a parody of this genre, since often Penny is more capable than the guys supposed to rescue her.
  • Ursula in no fewer than three episodes of the original George of the Jungle.
  • April O'Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, at least in the first animated series. To the point that they can recognize her "mumbles" when she's gagged, without seeing her.
    • Eventually lampshaded by Shredder:
      Shredder: And while we're at it, let's kidnap April O'Neil. Sure, we've done that 20 or 30 times already, but why mess with what works?
    • Also lampshaded in the Turtles Forever crossover movie. The 1980s turtles stop to save April in their home dimension and explain that they save April at least once a day.
    • In the Nick series April starts out as this, but as her fighting skills have been improving she's growing out of it.
  • Princess Aruzia for the first part of The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. She is an Action Girl for the rest of the series.
  • Elita One gets this with her love interest Optimus Prime in Transformers Generation 1. To lure Optimus to his doom, the Decepticons capture Elita. However, when Optimus arrives, he gets captured himself and Elita first has to save him before he can manage to save her. It's pretty 50/50 with them.
  • This is lampshaded in The Spectacular Spider-Man, when Spider-Man cheerily points out to an ungrateful Norman Osborn that he is Spidey's very first rescue of this type. It's played straight in regards to Love Interest Liz Allan, an Innocent Bystander who gets used as part of a Hostage for MacGuffin scenario.
    • Also with Gwen when she is kidnapped by Venom in the season 1 finale.
  • The entire episode of "Beauty Marked" in Danny Phantom was made in order to subvert this as much as possible. While Danny and Tucker are under the mindset that the kidnapped Sam needs rescuing, she managed to figure a way out just fine. It is their meddling that gets her captured again/still.
  • Kim Possible: Every main character (and some of the villains) have been in this situation. Kim. Ron. The Cheerleaders. Bonnie. Kim's Dad. Kim's Grandmother. The Tweebs. Ron's Dad. Shego. Drakken. Shego's little brothers. It's a requirement of this show that you get captured at least once.
  • Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo is often kidnapped by the villain of the week in most incarnations, and earned the In-Series Nickname "Danger-Prone Daphne". Later incarnations such as the live action movies have her saving herself or fighting off her attackers. Many of the later animated movies and series have followed suit in terms of upgrading Daphne's combat competency.
  • Subverted in the movie Batman & Mr. Freeze - Subzero. Yes, Plucky Girl Barbara a.k.a. Batgirl gets kidnapped, but she's so competent that she kicks the asses of her captors (Mr. Freeze being one of them) multiple times, and would have escaped on her own just fine if it wasn't for the fact that she was in the middle of the friggin' ocean. In fact, she is probably more useful in the movie than even Batman and Robin.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Padme has been captured three times in the first season alone. She's usually well on her way to escaping on her own by the time the cavalry shows up.
  • In the shows Tom and Jerry Kids and Droopy Master Detective, Miss Vavoom is always getting kidnapped by McWolf or any other villain who lusts after her.
  • The Herculoids. Tarra, in many episodes.
  • Space Ghost. Jan, in most episodes. To be fair, Jace was a Distressed Dude.
  • Super Friends. Wonder Woman, oddly enough, in some episodes.
  • The Mighty Mightor. Sheera, in most episodes.
  • Jez on an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes. She quickly develops Stockholm Syndrome, though.
  • Subverted on ReBoot. One game sets up this plot with Bob as the rescuing knight and implies Dot is the distressed damsel. The subversion is that Enzo is the distressed damsel and Dot is another rescuing knight.
    Enzo: "I don't want to be a damsel in this dress!"
  • When is Smurfette never in need of being rescued by somebody? Only in the live-action movie, where she is finally promoted to Action Girl status.
  • In the Indiana Jones parody episode of Phineas and Ferb, Isabella calls herself a "certified Damsel in Distress" (handing the boys her business card). Though this later appears to be part of the ploy to earn the boy's trust so she can save her mother from Doofinshmirtz's character.
  • In the Fantastic Four cartoon, poor Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman, would be hit with this trope, especially in the first season. An episode in the second season would have Sue admonish Doctor Doom for using this trope. He apologizes for doing so, but explains that this is the quickest, most effective way to get what he wants.
  • There were a few episodes of The Powerpuff Girls in which the girls themselves needed to be rescued (e.g., "Buttercrush," "Twisted Sister," "Stray Bullet").
  • Lois Lane from "Superman: The Animated Series" as usual.
  • In a episode of Sonic Boom called Fortress of Squallitude, Amy is captured by Eggman and Amy is forced to make Eggman's fortress beautiful. Sonic and co. have to save Amy.
    • In the episode Sleeping Giant, after Rocky takes a liking to Sticks' singing, Sticks is captured by Rocky and she is forced to sing for Rocky. Sonic and co. have to save Sticks.
    • In the episode Closed Door Policy, Sticks is captured by the frog warriors, leaving Sonic and co. to rescue Sticks.
  • Talking of the Sonic series, Sonic Sat AM, Sally also becomes this in a few episodes, most notable in "Sonic and Sally" where she had a robot take her place and where she was almost turned into a robot herself, but was rescued by Sonic Just in Time.
  • Xandir P Whifflebottom in Drawn Together is a video game character "on a neverending quest to save my girlfriend". When she discovers he's gay she refuses to be rescued by him. Shortly afterwards his boyfriend is kidnapped and he remarks "Dare I say it? I, Xandir, am on a never ending quest to save my boyfriend!".
  • Esmeralda sometimes plays this role in The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo.