A man carries a woman in his arms — one arm under her legs and the other supporting her back like a groom carrying his bride. It usually denotes or foreshadows a romantic relationship between the characters or a major difference in their physical strength or both. It's also called a princess carry.
Variations of this trope are common and include:
When the participants aren't romantically involved, expect fans to cite this as "proof" that they really are.
A guy must be very careful when treating an Action Girl like this, especially if they're not involved. If asked properly or if the circumstances justify it, she may accept if she's indeed too hurt to walk. Other than that, she's likely to refuse. No matter what, he shouldn't force it on her, else he may incur a less than grateful reaction. Slinging them over the shoulder in a Fireman Carry will avoid the romantic implications but not the complaining.
If the person being held is injured, dead or dying, it may cross over into Pietà Plagiarism. Usually coexists with rescue tropes like Rescue Romance and Embarrassing Rescue. See also Security Cling. Contrast Over-the-Shoulder Carry and Effortless Amazonian Lift.
Carrying someone like this (especially in the Pietà Plagiarism style) should only be done if you are entirely sure they are not suffering from neck or back injuries, whether pre-existing or new. It provides little (in the Pietà Plagiarism style, zero) support for the neck and little support for the spine (supporting some areas while stressing many others), and can leave someone with anything from chronic pain to quadriplegia or death, none of which are very romantic and all of which are negligent enough to get a rescuer sued. Carrying someone with pre-existing healed neck or back injuries can possibly be done safely this way using the head resting shoulder variant if their neck is properly braced (since the combination of brace + positioning serves as support) but it's generally a good idea, outside of extreme emergencies, to leave moving people with spinal cord injuries who can't move under their own power up to the paramedics and/or people trained in proper care for them.
Not to be confused with Tribal Carry.
After Misaki sprains his ankle while escaping from captivity, Usami carries him away this way, in front of his brother and their servants. Later, he's carrying Misaki piggyback, and Misaki complains it feels silly, prompting Usami to ask "would you rather be carried like a princess?"
Once again Usami carries Misaki in this way to the bedroom after Misaki's attempt to seduce him in chapter 21.
There are a few times in which Yuri was carried and/or caught from falling a long distance like this. Probably because he's usually a male Damsel in Distress when he's not in Maoh-mode. He carries Wolfram this way one time during that one episode in the snowstorm.
The aftermath of Nanoha and Fate's final battle in the first season, with Nanoha carrying the beaten Fate in this manner.
The light novel version of the first season does it again, only this time, it's a picture of Fate carrying the beaten Nanoha as they gaze into each other's eyes.
Nanoha does this to Vita in Chapter 19.5 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid, as Vita had fallen asleep in the car while Nanoha was driving to Hayate's house for dinner. After waking up, a deeply embarrassed Vita screams "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" at the top of her lungs, while Nanoha tells her that she tried to wake her up but failed.
Erio and Caro have alternated in carrying each other bridal style in both the series and promotional material.
In the first episode, Kenshin saves Kaoru from a fake Battosai, and ends up sweeping her off her feet in this manner.
Later in the Kyoto Arc, Yumi (Shishio's mistress) objects to being carried over Sano's shoulder, so he asks sarcastically if she'd prefer to be carried bridal-style, using a straw dummy to demonstrate. (She doesn't.)
Harima from School Rumble does this to Yakumo when he (mistakenly) tries to steal her away from a wedding, which is really a photoshoot. Also, he thought she was her sister.
Sarutobi Sasuke does this three times in the Sengoku Basara anime: once in his Embarrassing Rescue of Kasuga (who gets so flustered that she ends up falling out of a tree trying to get away), again saving Yukimura from an explosion, and thirdly rescuing Oichi's body from the burning castle.
In the second season he's shown cradling an unconcious Kasuga in his lap this way.
In Skip Beat!, Ren does this to Kyoko because she sprained her ankle. The villain of the day, Ruri, is quite angry about it. So is Kyoko.
The number of times Tuxedo Kamen holds Sailor Moon in this fashion (it happens more in the manga) is almost ridiculous.
Interestingly enough, Sailor Moon herself will invert this trope sometimes, one example being Sailor Moon rescuing Chibiusa in this fashion from an enemy attack in the second season.
In the final episode of Eureka Seven, Renton carries Eureka this way in space when they kissed each other for the 2nd time. After a year, they officially became husband and wife in the Thurston family register.
Horribly used in Detective Conan, when Ran, Conan, Sonoko, Sonoko's sister Ayako and Ayako's friends see a mysterious bandaged man carry a kidnapped girl away in his arms, right before the girl's mutilated body is found. It was a stage trick with a doll, piano wire ... and the woman's already decapitated head.
In another episode, Ran is carried like this by the killer of the week, who has drugged her and is about to try drowning her to have an alibi.
In Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru, Mizuho does this for Shion after the latter passes out from illness, and carries her to the nurses room.
Ichika does this to Houki to help her get into the IS suit. Houki becomes quite happy when he does this for her.
He does this again with Houki at the end of episode 12, after sharing an Almost Kiss with her, right before being chased by the other four girls in the harem, who are very angry that she's way ahead of them with Ichika.
Occurs once with Satoshi and Daisuke in D.N.Angel. Daisuke fell ill at school and Satoshi carried him to the infirmary. And Dark generally does this to the girls that he rescues.
A bonus strip for Christmas has America complimenting Lithuania on his stripping skills and then carrying him bridal style to Poland's house.
Fanart for Hungary also include a gender reversal: namely her carrying Austria away bridal-style. Sometimes with Austria wearing the dress. OTOH, there are also arts with Austria trying to carry Hungary like this, but he can barely lift her off her feet.
In canon Hungary has never carried Austria like this, but she does pick up somebody else in her arms: the teenaged Holy Roman Empire, an Ill Boy afflicted with a Soap Opera Disease (implied to come from the progressive debilitation of the HRE lands under all of the in-fighting between the Germanic states).
In Special A, Kei does this to Hikari frequently, referring to it as the "Princess Lift." He quite obviously does it as a sign of affection, which she completely misses. She's also a bit oblivious as to why this flusters her so much (except when she's sick, and she asks for it... completely forgetting that she did so afterwards).
In Fairy Tail, Natsu carries Erza this way after saving her from the exploding Tower of Heaven. In a later arc, Elfman and Evergreen get gravely injured in a battle, and Elfman bridal carries the unconscious Evergreen back to the camp.
In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke carries Kurama like this during the Dark Tournament.
In Popcorn Avatar, Lisa and Amano/Indra experience theis with their respective avatars. Not coincidentally, this happens for both during a personal turning point in their relationships.
This tends to happen a lot in Shugo Chara! with Ikuto and Amu. We have one where he does it - while she's in a wedding dress like outfit!
Hilariously inverted in chapter 11 of Karneval, where Eva carries a wounded Gareki (under the threat of being kissed if he doesn't comply) because he was staggering and slowing their progress. He's not happy about it.
In Kamisama Kiss Tomoe carries Nanami like this when they first contracted. He later does it again after he saves her from Mizuki and when she falls from a ladder.
In Komatta Toki Ni Wa Hoshi Ni Kike this seems to be Kiyomine's preferred carrying method when carrying Takara, he uses it whenever Takara has hurt himself, can't walk by himself, or just to annoy him; at first it embarrassed Takara, but as time went on, he got used to it, to the point of it being natural.
In Shakugan no Shana, Yoshida summons Pheles to their location. The effort makes Yoshida woozy and she falls over, but Pheles catches her and holds her like this.
Also, sometimes ThugBoy with Emp, and (in a dream/Imagine Spot) ThugBoy with Sistah Spooky.
Hulkling sometimes carries Wiccan like this in Young Avengers. Not often, since Wiccan can fly, but occasionally.
Spider-Man: Appropriately enough, when Peter Parker and M.J. Watson came back from their honeymoon, he carried her across the threshold in one arm while balancing their suitcases in the other. MJ's reaction: "I always dreamed of being carried across the threshold, but one hand? That's class!"
Played straight in Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8, when an inured Oz carries an even worse injured Bayarmaa off the (still-raging) battlefield this way.
Genderflipped in the New Teen Titans books, where alien princess Starfire often flew around carrying her boyfriend Nightwing.
Dave Berg of MAD once made a strip about this trope. The bride asks the groom whether he'll carry her, and he replies that this is an obsolete custom from the time when men used to steal their brides. The bride thinks about it and then remembers that she actually "stole" him from "some tramp", and the strip ends with her carrying him.
Similar to the Shrek example cited below, one The Far Side comic shows Frankenstein's Monster carrying his Bride through the door crossways, her head and feet having knocked holes right through the wall.
In two separate alternate timelines in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf where Smurfette is married to someone, her husband picks her up and carries her out of the kitchen, supposedly into the bedroom.
Films — Animation
Double subverted in the second Shrek film, where Shrek bashes Fiona into the doorframe, breaking right through the wall.
Delightfully spoofed via Gender-Inverted Trope in Monsters vs. Aliens. A cheerleader type is trying to seduce an athletic jock in a car when the alien robot crashes nearby, and we have a great shot of the girl running holding her boyfriend in her arms.
Not exactly "carrying", but Peter Pan catches Wendy a couple of times like this. Later, he does the same with Wendy's daughter Jane in the sequel Return to Neverland.
There are several examples in Robot Carnival: Starlight Angel has a flying scene with a robot and a girl; Deprive has a cyborg and a girl, etc., etc.
Toy Story 3 does this between Spanish Buzz and Jessie. He was saving her from falling trash.
Let's not forget Minion carrying Megamind into the office threshold style.
In Treasure Planet, Dr. Doppler carried Captain Amelia to B.E.N.'s lair this way, with B.E.N. commenting on the implications.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. When Syrena's box breaks, and she gains legs, Philip carries her. It's quite touching.
The Man With Two Brains. Twice. The first time, Dr. Hfuhruhurr waits hours in the pose for the photos to be developed before letting his new bride down, and then, in the finale, had problems carrying her through since, well, Anne had an eating problem when she had her own body. Hilarity Ensues, but it's a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming because Hfuhruhurr doesn't care about her weight.
Friday Night Lights had Tim do this with his newly-paralyzed friend Jason, just so Jason could be out of his wheelchair for a little while. Jason comments that maybe he should just have Tim carry him everywhere from then on.
After Rocky marries Adrian in Rocky II he carries her all the way home from the church like this. When she tells him it's unnecessary, he says it's good for the arms.
Batman does this to Rachel in Batman Begins. The scene was also the basis for one of the film posters, in which it was not clear if Rachel was dying or merely unconscious.
One cute Plucky Middie gets carrued by another sailor when he's injured.
When Lady Barbara gets sick, Captain Hornblower takes her into his arms and carries her below-deck.
In Lemonade Joe, Doug Badman carries his love Tornado Lou into her room when she fainted.
In Film/The Long, Long Trailer, the groom does this—and bumps her head on the doorframe. Also, because he's shy about their being newlyweds, he tells the other guests at the trailer park that she's twisted her ankle—and all the women start fussing over her.
Caractacus:Well, unless you'd rather ride piggyback.
Anita Blake is shaken up by doing some "major magic" with a werewolf and drops her machismo long enough to let Jean-Claude carry her this way. Both think it's kind of romantic until Anita notices... something... about Jason's pants....
In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Astreus carries Miranda in this fashion.
Now that he had won her, what was he to do with her? He was but an adult child, with the brain and brawn of a man, and the ignorance and inexperience of the new-born. And so he acted as a child acts, in imitation of what it has seen others do. The brute had been carrying the lovely creature, therefore that must be the thing for him to do, and so he stooped and gathered Virginia Maxon in his great arms.
In the episode "The One After Vegas", Monica and Chandler have decided they aren't ready to get married, but keep seeing "signs" that they should. At one point, Monica's hurt her leg, so Chandler gathers her up and carries her into her appartment, before they realise what they're doing.
Another episode had Ross and Rachel parodying An Officer and a Gentleman: Rachel kept having to go back for stuff, so in the end Ross just dumped her on the couch.
In "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS", Chandler carries Monica into the hallway, but bangs her head against the doorframe.
Played with in an episode of Home Improvement when Jill insists that Tim carry her like this, unaware that he'd pulled a groin muscle earlier. It doesn't end well.
Inverted again in the last scene of the (intended)series finale which involves JD imagining scenes of what his future will be like, including getting married to Elliot, who bridal carries him.
Used in the prequel season 6 of Kaamelott. Guenièvre insists that Arthur carry her that way after their marriage "because it's romantic." Not just to go through a treshold, mind you, but as long as possible. After some long, agonizing minutes, Arthur finally drops her like a sack of potatoes as he gets exhausted and his back gives up.
When Anna of Chuck falls over and is in danger of being trampled during a store evacuation, Morgan runs heroically to her and carries her out of the shop in this manner, to cries of "What are you doing, Morgan? Put me down!" He has no answer when a fellow employee asks why he carried her out when she could have just walked.
A non-romantic Doctor Who example: the Fourth Doctor carried everyone in his arms, since at 6'3 he was almost always bigger than them.
The Tenth Doctor staggers down the hall with an unconscious Martha in "Smith and Jones". Since the crisis was over and he'd lost a litre or two of blood, you wonder why he made the effort.
The promo pictures for Series 7 showed the Eleventh Doctor carrying the very tall Amy Pond in his arms. Some fans took exception to this, and inverted the image.
Dean does this to Jo in Supernaturalafter she is attacked by a hellhound.
In The Borgias, Cesare carries a sleeping Lucrezia to her bed after she passes out during her wedding reception.
Arthur from Merlin carries Morgana to the physician's quarters like this after she's hit her head after falling down a flight of stairs.
When Elizabeth Weir unexpectedly collapses on Stargate Atlantis, John Sheppard carries her to the infirmary this way.
During the Stargate Universe episode where the Destiny is invaded by the Lucian Alliance, Eli has to carry a wounded Chloe this way. He jokes that this kind of exercises could easily get him to lose some weight and that they should do it more often.
There's some subtext here too, in that he is the Romantic Runner-Up who hasn't yet gotten over his crush on her.
In the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Buying a Bed", a man carries his bride like this across a field, then on the streets of a city through traffic, until they arrive to a large department store.
In The City Hunter, Yun Sung carries Na Na up the stairs to her apartment after she's sprained her ankle.
Chuck carries Blair up the stairs this way in a season four episode of Gossip Girl.
In Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin unwittingly saves Belle in this fashion after she falls off a ladder.
Heart wrenchingly in the season two finally of Hell On Wheels.
The Daily Show got the armed forces to carry correspondents down office corridors on two occasions, to the tune of "Love lifts us up where we belong": Colbert by a Rear-Admiral, and Sam Bee by a Captain. The latter doubled as a Take That to the arguments that female soldiers' are physically too weak to be allowed active service.
"The Duchess and the Devil" from Horatio Hornblower has two sailors in this classic position, and it's Played for Drama. Horatio carries his friend Archie Kennedy in his arms when he realized that Archie has been starving himself. He tries to get help for him from Don Massaredo, the commander of the Spanish prison they're in. Conveniently, it's also raining and it looks very dramatic.
Wives and Daughters: An utterly tragic use of this trope: Squire Hamley carries his dead son Osborne in his arms. He died outside alone and he wants to bring him home.
This Stock Pose can be seen several times in Cranford; mostly with brides and grooms, but also when a father carries his ill daughter.
Happens in The O.C. pilot episode, when Marissa drinks until she is unconscious. Her friends ditch her in front of her house and after they leave, love interest Ryan carries her inside.
Again in the first season episode "The Escape" in which Marissa downs a bottle of sleeping pills with a shot of tequila after finding out that her parents were getting a divorce and her boyfriend Luke cheated on her. She stumbles into an alley and the episode ends with Ryan picking her up.
Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" music video starts with a groom carrying a bride into their new home.
The backglass for Jack*Bot shows Pin Bot carrying The Bride in his arms, while simultaneously holding a handful of cards.
In Paint Your Wagon, Ben, having married Elizabeth, tries to carry her over the threshold, but proves too drunk to pull it off.
Assassin's Creed. In the second game, Ezio has to carry Rosa to safety after she finally collapses from an arrow wound to her leg. After running and fighting with an arrow sticking out of her leg for quite a distance, mind you.
Like above, Musashi: Samurai Legend has the titular hero do this with some of the damsels. While carrying them, however, he is restricted to one attack: throwing said damsel into the air, performing a 360-degree slash, then catching them before they hit the ground. Hilariously, it's possible to miss the catch, meaning you may spend some time actively dropping the damsel while trying to fight off your pursuers.
In The King of Fighters, Kensou carries an unconscious Athena in his arms in KOF'99. He does the same for Bao in KOF 2000.
In Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE, Cu Chulainn's mount animation consists of him carrying the player in this manner while looking into their eyes...regardless of gender.
Averted in Schlock Mercenary: Faced with a high-gravity environment, Tagon stretches out his arms to offer a ride to an unarmored female character this way. The female being a scientist, she declines-noting that while Tagon may be wearing Powered Armor, she'd be unprotected from the obvious effects of pressing against metal arms at increased gravity.
In El Goonish Shive, when Hedge carries Elliot away to The Nest after subduing him, he does so using this carry instead of the Over-the-Shoulder Carry as would be expected of a typical antagonist in that situation. While choosing this carry over the other one does not have the usual connotations in this case, it is one of the clues that Hedge is not actually evil and doesn't actually have malicious intentions toward Elliot.
Homer: I'm going to the back seat of my car with the woman I love, and I won't be back for TEN MINUTES!
Parodied again in a flashback when he tries to carry a very heavily pregnant Marge over the threshold and does his back in.
Wakfu: Sadlygrove carries Evangelyne this way thrice: on their very first encounter in episode 2, then in Eva's dream in episode 20, and again for real in episode 24 after he saves her from Desherboss.
Young Justice: Kid Flash rescues Artemis from firing tanks in "Bereft" and carries her like this.
Looney Tunes: Pepe Le Pew carries Penelope like this when she faints from exhaustion in "Little Beau Pepe".
Another cartoon had Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd get married (Makes Sense In Context) and Bugs carries a bridal gown clad Elmer over the threshold, only to drop him off a cliff.
Gender inverted in the Total Drama World Tour episode "Slap Slap Revolution" where Izzy is seen carrying Noah around in this style after accidentally injuring him in a previous scene. True to his Non-Action Snarker status, Noah is perfectly fine with being carried and none of the other contestants comment on the two.
Kick Buttowski: Brad pulls off a literal version of this in "Bwar and Peace", where he's seen carrying his Viking bride around after their wedding.
Mako does this for Korra after she escapes from being held captive by Tarrlok and from almost being captured again by Amon.
Done again later in a frantic attempt to escape Amon after Korra gets De-bended by him.
In The Smurfs special "Smurfily Ever After", when Smurfette imagines herself being married to Hefty, he carries her in a jog through the village to his house. Smurfette asks if he's doing this because he's so eager to be alone with her, and Hefty says he's doing this because it's good exercise.