aka: The Kimberly
Damsel in Distress is an age-old classic plot device, which places a character in danger to add tension to the story. Sometimes one character (usually a Love Interest or a relative of another character) seems to have no discernible purpose besides serving as the Designated Victim. If the character is popular with the audience, this can be effective. Other times, well... let's just say that the audience starts wishing that the Big Damn Heroes would get stuck in traffic, just so they won't have to put up with her anymore. Most of the time, this character's plight is due entirely to her own stupidity. She doesn't just pick up the Distress Ball, she runs it into her own endzone and gets tackled for a safety. And she keeps on doing it, again and again and again. This may be due to being The Ditz, or a severe case of crippling Genre Blindness. Even if she's just unlucky, she may be disliked for other reasons. Perhaps the audience finds her too bland, or too bitchy. Perhaps her presence seems shoehorned into the main plot (perhaps to attract a Periphery Demographic or for blatant Fanservice), and the audience feels she steals time from the story they're actually interested in. This is especially true when her subplot has nothing to do with the main plot at all. Or else she seems like useless dead weight whose only purpose is to pad the plot by getting in trouble. And worst of all, the fans may just dislike her for getting in the way of their Fan-Preferred Couple, and actually use this trope as an excuse to hate her without being called out for it. Faux Action Girl is what you get when you mix this with an Action Girl. Chickification is what happens if an actual Action Girl gets retooled or derailed into this. Child characters can fall prey to this just as easily, especially the Tagalong Kid or a hero's Oblivious Younger Sibling. Large risk of being Trapped by Mountain Lions. See also Too Dumb to Live. Compare The Scrappy and The Load. Compare The President's Daughter, Defiant Captive and Damsel out of Distress. See also Reckless Sidekick, Sympathetic Sue. Deliberately Distressed Damsel can justify or subvert this trope.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Meg from Burst Angel. Supposedly an Action Girl, but Jo must rescue her all the time.
- Princess Charlotte is considered this in a lot of circles, primarily because she is a Meal Ticket for main antagonist Griffith and is pretty much the Naïve Everygirl of the series.
- Post-Eclipse Casca manages to avoid this within the greater fanbase for her status as a major and sympathetic woobie, which prompts many fans to rush to her defense by explaining precisely why Casca acts the way she does whenever someone tries to pull The Scrappy status on her.
- Black Butler: One of the reasons for Elizabeth's scrappy status. In the manga this is eventually subverted, as Elizabeth is actually a Little Miss Badass more than capable of defending herself who only acts this way because she fears Ciel may reject her for being "unfeminine."
- Bleach: Princess Lurichiyo. A bratty, spoiled rich kid who can't seem to stop getting kidnapped. After Ichigo and crew have the kidnapper cornered and it looks like the filler arc is over, Amagai shows up, reveals he is a villain, and kidnaps her again. Made more irritating for some by the fact that the arc came up in the middle of the Hueco Mundo arc and after Ichigo's battle with Grimmjow.
- Beauty from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo serves two purposes: perpetually reminding the viewer at the top of her lungs that the things the other characters are doing are bizarre, and being the Damsel in Distress when the plot calls for it.
- Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi, despite being the series protagonist, has come in for some fan hate for the numerous times she pointlessly rushes headfirst into dangerous situations, in some cases even actively sabotaging her protectors or not telling them important information, then getting in trouble and needing them to come save her anyway.
- Kaede Sakura from Kämpfer. It's all just an act.
- One of the reasons why Akane Tendo from Ranma ½ is considered by some to be a Base Breaker is the fact that, sometimes, she comes off as one of these. It's not that she gets kidnapped a lot (in fact, Ranma Saotome himself is actually kidnapped more frequently than she is), but she does get into trouble frequently, often because of her own issues (temper tantrums, pride and blind distrust of Ranma/trust of her enemies, mainly), and usually ends up contributing nothing positive to the experience. The very earliest examples of this are the Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics and Martial Arts Figure Skating stories.
- Actually, many times she gets in trouble for trying to help Ranma over the troubles he gets in. But the fans happily forgive Ranma while slamming Akane.
- Molly from the DiC English dub of Sailor Moon. Her horrible accent, combined with how she gets attacked by the Monster of the Week in almost every episode of the first season, makes her much more annoying than her original character.
- Chibiusa/Rini too. Over half of the Monster of the Week plots in the second season are kicked off by her running off and getting herself into trouble. You'd think the girl would catch on after it happens so many times but no. The villains of that season have the easiest job in the world - they don't have to try and find her at all, they just need to wait for her to run off and inevitably reveal herself which happens every time.
- Saint Seiya has Saori Kido who to be saved by the main characters about five times in the original manga, four other times in the movies, twice in the spin-off anime, and once in the manga sequel. Of course this gets her bashed six ways from Sunday by many fans.
- Mokuba Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!, who gets into trouble precisely seven times in the series. However, he's not all that hated by fans since he's a kid, which makes it a bit more understandable as to why fully grown people are often managing to kidnap him, and often more amusement than annoyance is found at the fact that he's in trouble so often. And to his credit, in one memorable situation, he actually manages to break himself out, finds Yugi and Kaiba with a helicopter, and takes them to where Yugi's friends were being held captive.
- Also invoked in the early manga somewhat with Anzu. She is first held hostage by a restaurant owner and then nearly assaulted by a classmate. Yami Yugi rescues her both times and she promptly develops a crush on him. Then she herself invokes the trope, trying to put herself in danger in one chapter to make him appear. She isn't usually held hostage any more than anyone else in Yugi's immediate circle of friends, though, and given that she gives friendship speeches much less than she does in the anime, the extent of the scrappy-ness is debateable.
- Empowered has a very sturdy reputation as this in-universe, as a "D-list superchica prone to capture and bondage", despite the fact that when the villains she faces upgrade from obnoxious, but not very harmful pervs to actual threats to the safety of her friends and/or the world, she is one of the most effective and powerful heroes (and a good battlefield leader even), especially in the later stories. She is growing increasingly effective against the pervs too.
- This is the characteristic once strongly associated with Lois Lane. Ironically, it can be argued that Lois' role as a Damsel in Distress was far more important to the Superman plot than her role as a love interest, Depending on the Writer. In the 1940's, she did need to be rescued a lot (usually while pursuing a news story), but was fairly intelligent and could sometimes get herself out of scrapes by kicking ass and taking names. Once the 50's, 60's and early 70's came around though... Yeesh. She was an empty headed twerp who was constantly putting herself in danger for no reason, and whose sole goal in life was to trick Superman into marrying her. She took Too Dumb to Live to uncharted levels. In recent comics and other media she's a much more well rounded and developed character, who is extremely competent and able to take care of herself. She still needs to be rescued sometimes, and the trope may pop up occasionally, but for the most part she's a very independent, intrepid and intelligent reporter who just needs a little help against super powered aggressors from time to time.
- The sixties-era book Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane seemed dedicated to making sure every single reader hated poor Lois. If you Google around, you'll find scans of multiple letters columns where readers asked for Superman to spank Lois (which would in fact occur, though in the context of Super Dickery). A few may have had other motives than scrappyhood, though.
- Even when there's neither any Super Villain's ill will nor a big scoop one jump away from her window, she can be trusted to find something dangerous. Letters on the label are bigger than her eyes, so... they just don't fit in, right?
- Starting late in The '70s comics, Lois was written to be more assertive to avert this trope, and needed rescuing much less often, including in her solo stories in The Superman Family. This included Lois having mastered a Kryptonian form of martial arts named "klurkor."
- Being associated with this trope is probably what spurred John Byrne, in his Post-Crisis retelling of Superman's origin, to make it very, very obvious that Lois was now a borderline Action Girl. This eventually led to an Inversion immediately after her wedding to Clark when he was kidnapped after temporarily losing his powers. Lois took her Army brat background to extremes, becoming a G. I. Jane in order to come to the rescue.
- Rick Jones has been this from his first appearance, which annoyed even The Hulk during his grey, intelligent phases. This was lampshaded by Rick himself in one issue where he managed to beat his captor and escape on his own.
- The Ultimate Spider-Man version of Mary Jane fits this so well that even Spidey notices in-universe, breaking up with her because he can't trust her to handle herself intelligently when a supervillain is wrecking up the place. Unusually, she takes this as a spur for Character Development and resolves to do better in the future.
- Pretty much what happened to Vicki Vale in Tim Burton's Batman. Originally it was going to be quite different, but after the first actress cast as Vicki (Sean Young) fell off a horse and broke her arm in a scene that was cut from the film, it was decided that the replacement (Kim Basinger) shouldn't be put at such risks.
- Lori from Freddy vs. Jason. The one character that could have died in the first five minutes ends up surviving the whole movie.
- Parker from Frozen. Audiences blamed her for getting herself, her boyfriend and his best friend all stuck on a skilift during a snowstorm, she survives the ordeal and has the massive luck of finding a road where she could be rescued.
- Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. She's almost always crying and whining about something whenever she's onscreen, and contributes very little to the plot besides getting kidnapped and being Indy's obligatory love interest.
- Even Bond girls from the James Bond movies are not immune, despite trying to help more than once. Such as Stacy Sutton... seriously woman, Christopher Walken was able to sneak up on you in a zeppelin. And the screeching...
- Mary Goodnight from The Man with the Golden Gun is supposedly an intrepid agent sent along to aid Bond. All she manages to do is get caught by Scaramanga and then lie around on a beach wearing a bikini.
- There's also the Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever, who at one point falls off the edge of an oil rig after trying to use a submachine gun and failing epically. From the way she held the gun, one would assume she had no prior firearms training, so she didn't know what kickback was.
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) recreates the style of a 1930s Pulp Magazine story - right down to putting Gwyneth Paltrow in one of these roles as the Plucky Girl Reporter.
- Spider-Man Trilogy:
- Mary Jane Watson. Three movies. Three times kidnapped to be used as bait to lure Spidey out. Yawn. It's particularly egregious in the first movie; Spidey rescued her three times in it alone.
- Lampshaded in the third movie novelization by Mary Jane who asks if she has bait stamped across her forehead when she's locked in Venom's falling car. In the sequels she makes a couple of attempts to become a Heroic Bystander. She drops a block of cement on Venom's head as he fights with Spider-Man in the third film and tries to attack Doc Ock from behind in the second film — but Aunt May had already successfully done the same thing earlier on, and Doc Ock doesn't repeat his mistakes.
- Interestingly enough, Gwen Stacy was originally going to be the one abducted for the final battle in the third film, not Mary Jane, and Mary Jane would have been the one who helped Harry come to his senses. A line from this was included in the trailer: "We've all done terrible things to each other, but we have to learn to forgive each other or else everything we ever were will have meant nothing."
- If you listen to the DVD commentary, you can hear the irritation in Sam Raimi's voice while he recalls having to A) put MJ back in the damsel role because of time constraints and B) having to apologize profusely to Kirsten Dunst after he promised her before the filming of the movie that she wouldn't be doing that again. To make up for it, he gave her more action to do in the scene and used recycled audio of her past screaming rather than make her scream again.
- Carly from Wrong Turn. She spends the entire movie screaming "I CAN'T!" at the top of her lungs and doing absolutely nothing useful.
- A good chunk of Catherine Anderson's heroines follow the same pattern: Get mad at the hero, run off in a hissy fit, get in trouble, scream for help, get rescued by the hero. The biggest examples are Baby Love, Cherish and Phantom Waltz.
- Nora Grey, the heroine of Hush, Hush, quite possibly gives Bella a run for the money. Over the course of three books, she repeatedly walks into dangerous situations without telling anyone else where she's going (so no hope of a rescue if a plan goes wrong), no weapons of any kind, and usually no actual planned course of action beyond "I'll break into that place and wing it". The author seemed to be trying to channel Nancy Drew, but failed to give Nora any competency. Really, Nora's stupidity could be summed up near the end of the first book when she willingly walks into an empty school and plays into the bad guy's hands, even though (A) she knows she's being lured into a trap, (B) her super-powered, invincible boyfriend is already rescuing the hostage being used as bait for Nora, and (C) the bad guy doesn't even know said boyfriend is on the case, meaning that if Nora had stayed put, the entire climax probably would never have happened. And then, when she's in the school, she gives up and says that she hopes her boyfriend will rescue her. Even though he has no idea she is inside because he told her to wait outside for him.
- Clio Marsden starts out like this in E.E. "Doc" Smith's Triplanetary (the first of the Lensman novels), but gets a lot better as the book goes on. In her case, the threats ("a research upon sex") are anything but vague.note
- In fairness to Clio, she's nothing more than an ordinary civilian at the start; needing to be rescued from a gang of highly organised and very professional space pirates is entirely justified; and while she's no Clarissa Kinnison, the levelling-up she does is reasonably impressive for the era in which the books were written.
- Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments mostly. Indeed, Simon would be leading a happily mundane life were it not for his determination to protect her even though she just sees him as a friend. Jace could be argued as being a male version of this trope as well, since a great deal of effort on the part of Clary, Alec, Isabelle, Magnus, the Lightwoods, and others centers on saving him from some life-threatening situation that could have been avoided were it not for his nasty independent streak.
- Bella Swan pretty much epitomizes this trope, even commenting in her own narrative that "I guess my brain will never work right. At least I'm pretty." Add in the fact that she can't seem to get out of any scrape without the intervention of a male, you've got one of the most textbook examples of this trope EVER.
- Alice Cullen just sums it up: "I have never seen anyone more prone to life-threatening idiocy."
- The entire Tribe Of Rushing Water in Warrior Cats. In only one of their four appearances did they not need to be saved from something by the clans, yet they are rude to the clans and tell them to go away. In Sign of the Moon, the cats come for a visit when the Tribe doesn't think they need help and the Tribe actually attacks them!
- Determinedly invoked by Millie in Castle Roogna. She repeatedly gets kidnapped or attacked, and never does anything to defend herself other than by kicking (not kicking the assailant, mind you, just kicking in the air) and screaming. She seems to believe that's how she should act and noone can convince her otherwise.
- Older than Television: In the era of Pulp Magazine action stories, their teenage male readers would frequently complain about the very existence of female characters, because they were inevitably Flat Characters whose only role in the plot was to get into trouble, be on the receiving end of vague threats from the villain, and be rescued by the hero. Were it not for the need to put a scantily-clad woman on the cover to boost sales, these stories probably wouldn't have had any women at all.
Live Action TV
- Battlestar Galactica (2003): Colonel Tigh's wife Ellen in this remake. The woman was essentially a walking plot complication. They eventually had to put her down because of it.
- Beverly Hills 90210: Updated this trope for the teen soap/drama in the form of rich girl Kelly Taylor. Just read her Wikipedia article. Then again, maybe they're right: being stalked, burned, brainwashed, raped, addicted to cocaine and shot does enable one to become a stronger person.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dawn is put in peril often enough to be notable in-universe; in the Musical Episode "Once More With Feeling," Buffy quips, "Dawn's in trouble, must be Tuesday." When local theaters used to play this episode as a singalong, some also passed out lists of Rocky Horror-style audience-participation phrases to yell out; among them was "Shut up, Dawn!" every time Dawn is on-screen.
- Desperate Housewives: Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher). Hilariously, Hatcher also played Lois Lane in the '90s Superman drama Lois and Clark.
- Doctor Who:
- There is a common misconception among media commentators and some post-2005-only fans that every female companion before 1989 was nothing but helpless shoulder-candy for villains. This is completely wrong, and the few companions who genuinely did approach that tend not to be very popular.
- Susan is a Screaming Woman well known for twisting her ankle, freaking out hysterically, and (in one story) refusing Barbara's plan of escape from a Revolutionary France Death Row because she's scared of the rats in the cell. She had occasional stories where she was useful ("The Sensorites") but most of these were not followed up on. Amusingly, the actress had been cast to be a telepathic martial artist and was instead given a character who spent all her time being captured, which contributed to her decision to quit.
- A rare male example is Harry Sullivan, who tended to catch the Idiot Ball a lot and get himself and the Doctor captured, with even the Doctor picking up on it and complaining. His character had been written in as compliment to the elderly Non-Action Guy the Fourth Doctor had originally been pitched as, before the role was cast with a huge, highly energetic and physically fit forty-year-old who could comfortably do action. The result of this is that writers were not quite sure what he (or his co-companion Sarah Jane) was supposed to be for other than to catch the Distress Ball, but Sarah Jane had the benefit of being a previously established character and having writing that portrayed her as consistently sympathetic and intelligent, whereas Harry would happily plough into obvious traps and fail to notice things the Doctor pointed out to him thirty seconds ago. Both the Doctor and Sarah moan at him about this in various scenes.
- Tegan—though, as a woman of normal intelligence stuck on the TARDIS with three alien super-geniuses (The Doctor, Nyssa, and Adric/Turlough), she was Damsel Scrappy By Default.
- Peri is the single most notorious example. Her first appearance in "Planet of Fire" had her being very self-possessed and one of the few human characters ever to No Sell the Master's mind-control abilities, but the rest of her tenure hardly ever had her achieve anything except be an object to be fought over. Due to the Darker and Edgier tendencies of the era, she came in for an unprecedented and uncharacteristic amount of explicitly sexualised menace from villains, which came across as particularly disturbing given the general unusual degree of sexualisation in her portrayal and her borderline-abusive relationship with the Doctor. Her brutal (possibly faked) death came across as not so much shocking as the inevitable climax of her character arc.
- Mel was the only companion during her tenure, and thus had the duty of getting captured. This would be fine if she were useful or likable. And then she was followed by Ace. Who killed Daleks with homemade explosives (stored in deodorant cans) and a super-charged baseball bat.
- Heroes: Maya.
- Matlock: Charlene Matlock, who almost every episode gets herself into some sort of trouble by trying to investigate/snoop around alone and either Ben or Tyler need to come to her rescue.
- Revenge: Charlotte. People were not fond of her by the end of the series, but she arguably got the most blow back from every revelation Emily reveals.
- Revolution: Charlie. What were the creators thinking making her the main protagonist? She needed to be rescued in "The Plague Dogs". Taken Up to Eleven in "Soul Train". There is something seriously wrong if Danny has to save your ass from getting choked to death. Fortunately, they've started redeeming her; Spiridakos seems to be a little less wooden now, and the character is really becoming effective with her weapons. It is pretty funny when General Monroe actually saves her life in "Children of Men".
- Robin Hood: For this BBC show, a number of viewers feel that the replacement for Marian, Kate, fits this. She's pushy, loud and generally useless, where in contrast the previous character in the love interest role was an Action Girl who at least had the dignity to be right when she was pushy, and was never louder than was needed. And yes, true to the trope, all of Kate's numerous kidnappings were due to her inability to keep up, defend herself, or know when to keep her mouth shut.
- In her capacity as a "damsel" scrappy, she's been captured by guards more times in one season than any of the other outlaws have in three. The words: "Where's Kate?" could be a drinking game.
- Smallville: Lana Lang, for quite a while now. And when they decided to fix it in later seasons they went too far in the opposite direction. The kid can't win, really.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- Jennifer Keller, though she learned to fight in the final season and part of the Scrappy-ness has to be from her replacing Carson Beckett.
- Fans are probably also willing to cut her more slack because her actress is associated with a well-liked former role. Or that may paradoxically lead some to dislike Keller because she's not Kaylee. Ah, human nature, you never fail to amuse with your delightful contradictions!
- The dislike isn't just because she was useless when not in sickbay - it was because she was useless outside sickbay and the writers shoehorning her into as many episodes as possible and even having two characters fall in love with her so we'd realize we are supposed to love her too, as if they thought they could bludgeon the audience with her until they surrendered and decided they may as well like her. (The writers have admitted to doing this.) Didn't work.
- Stargate Universe: Chloe, who was - like Jennifer Keller on Atlantis - the Love Interest for two different guys. Unlike Keller, however, Chloe had virtually no useful purpose whatsoever.
- Kimberly Bauer, former Trope Namer, has an annoying habit of getting Trapped by Mountain Lions, wandering around bra-less in wifebeaters around potential rapists, and doing everything in her power to anger men with guns. Kim is sometimes known as "Bathroom-Break Bauer", due to a nearly-unbroken string of kidnappings, confinements and hostage-takings, which make it possible to take a bathroom break whenever she's on screen without missing anything truly important. The writers have admitted, in essence, that she can't be killed off because Jack has already lost Teri, his wife and it would destroy him. Jack also says this much late in Season 7, when the only way to save his life puts Kim at risk of losing hers.
- This Sluggy Freelance strip shows the Damsel Scrappy in action, in the context of a 24 parody.
- Then in the final season, Kim finally kicked this to the curb. She managed to get out without being kidnapped, and she sent Jack off to do his thing.
- Olive Oyl from Popeye. Much more so in the cartoons, especially the Famous/Paramount Studios ones.
- One of the most annoying was Sharmell Sullivan, 1991 Miss Black America and the wife (both on-screen and off) of former WCW great Booker T. Beginning in 2005, Sharmell accompanied Booker to all his matches dressed "beauty queen" style in a fashionable gown and tiara, and sometimes petticoats as well. Her only purpose when she and Booker were faces seemed to be getting menaced by her husband's heel opponents (including Kurt Angle, who notoriously threatened to rape her). While Sharmell was capable of giving some of the weaker villains a good slap across the face from time to time, for the most part she was reduced to shrieking "BOOK-ERRR!" until her husband could come in to save her. After the pair's Face-Heel Turn (and especially after Booker became "King Booker"), Sharmell became more of a Faux Action Girl (with a bit of the Alpha Bitch thrown in). At the 2006 WrestleMania she even joined Booker in a handicap match against The Boogeyman - but the pair lost when Boogey grabbed Sharmell and shoved a handful of worms down her throat!
- Vickie Guerrero as well, with a side order of Miles Gloriosus to boot. As General Manager of Friday Night SmackDown, Vickie would boss around all the fan favorites in her obnoxiously whiny voice and generally act like a bitch....until someone like The Undertaker would threaten her, and Vickie would turn into a cowardly Screaming Woman who was helpless until her love interest of the moment could come rushing to her rescue. She eventually did Take a Level in Badass and even wrestles occasionally, but at heart she remained a man-hungry Mrs. Robinson Wannabe who pouts when she doesn't get her way and still screams all the time (particularly when her newest boyfriend, Dolph Ziggler, is losing a match).
- Rosa from Final Fantasy IV, who spends the whole first half of the game in distress, gets this reception from some, even though she makes up for it in the game's second half as the White Magician Girl.
- Rinoa from Final Fantasy VIII gets blamed for this, managing to get herself kidnapped four times through the course of the game, but only on the first instance did her own foolishness get her into the situation. The rest was unfortunate circumstance. The thing that grates most players is how accepting the rest of the cast becomes afterward—at one point, even choosing to save Rinoa despite the fact that saving her conflicts with Squall's (the player's) current task as leader. They get mad at you for even considering that the mission may be more important than saving her. It also doesn't help her out that the other two playable females, Quistis and Selphie, are highly-trained military professionals, while Rinoa is an untrained teenage girl (though ironically....)
- Ninian from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword often gets lumped into this category, even though she's only ever captured twice and the third time she goes with the Big Bad willingly to spare her friends' lives. Not to mention she is a very useful member of the party with her ability to give an extra turn. But she gets in between Eliwood-based pairings, the bitch!
- Rosie in Fossil Fighters seems to exist solely to get kidnapped a lot, and to have various other humorous problems befall her. It wouldn't seem quite so bad if she and the hero weren't getting Strangled by the Red String. You, however, can eventually choose to deny the red string and Toy Ship yourself with Action Girl alien Duna if you want.
- Yukimura Chizuru from Hakuouki comes in for a lot of frustration from players for her lack of combat ability and reluctance to fight, which - since she spends all her time in the company of the Shinsengumi and is herself the target of kidnapping attempts by demons - makes her The Load and means she repeatedly has to be rescued by others.
- To make it even worse, she's a pure-blood demon, which is emphasized many times that pure-bloods are far stronger than any human except Hijikata. While she wouldn't be on the level of the rest of the Shinsengumi, training would easily make her very capable of holding her own.
- Similarly, Kairi from Kingdom Hearts is considered this by people even though she only has two moments of real distress, both of them in the second game (in the first, the twist is that her heart was inside of Sora all along and not in danger). Yet the fandom still holds her in scorn for this and many don't even understand the subversion from the first game, thinking she was "in a coma" and thus in distress even then. Of course, alot of this hate all stems from certain other feelings...
- Kairi is more divisive than that. She does have those who dislike her from the never live it down scenario, but many feel that she is underutilized as a character to the point of wondering why bother to involve her unless it's just to keep Sora motivated.
- Shana in The Legend of Dragoon, however, most people preferred her over Miranda, who never got kidnapped or sick but still turned out to be more annoying.
- Shandra Jerro in Neverwinter Nights 2 starts out like one of these (first barn, then house burned, then kidnapped by Githyanki), but subverts it when she joins the party and Takes a Level in Badass. (Almost literally: she's a Fighter.) The player's party even lampshades the scenario, commenting that if they're going to keep her around, they have got to teach her how to fight. Her Dying Moment of Awesome is arguably an inversion of the trope: it's the party that has to be rescued by her.
- Princess Elise from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Throughout the course of the game, she gets kidnapped by Dr. Eggman five times (although for the fifth one, she allowed herself to go in Eggman's Egg Carrier to prevent him from destroying Soleanna).
- The Damsels in Spelunky are pretty much based on Willie Scott and manage to work this trope into game mechanics. Though they aren't *that* annoying, some players still delight in throwing her at spiders, attaching a sticky bomb to her and sending her charging towards enemies, and then throwing her corpse at more spiders.
- Star Fox 64: Slippy Toad. A player could be haunted for YEARS with the ear-piercing refrains of "Fox! Help me!!" or "Fox! Get this guy off me!!" If it weren't for his unbelievable mechanical ability, the Star Fox team would have probably pushed him out an airlock after his first mission.
- Princess Peach in the Super Mario Bros. series still has this reputation, despite having taken many levels in badass since her initial appearance and becoming the heroine of her own game (although her badass qualifications in that game is debatable). One fairly common complaint is that while she does Take a Level in Badass sometimes, it's a very small amount of games where that actually happens, especially in comparison to the vast majority of games where she plays the Damsel in Distress trope completely straight, which brings the question of why she is utterly incompetent in defending herself in most of the main games.
- Princess Shine starts out as one of these in Super Robot Wars Original Generation, but becomes less so as we get to know her better. Then we find out she has special powers that allow her to use a super-advanced Humongous Mecha.
- Shirley Fennes from Tales of Legendia, gets kidnapped constantly and does nothing to help herself despite having a bunch of powers, eventually making a full Heel-Face Turn under More Than Mind Control. She is also considered the game's plain Scrappy for her Yandere tendencies.
- Colette Brunel from Tales of Symphonia. Despite that she does get better after a little while (and that technically, Mithos can kidnap almost ANYONE at the end, except Kratosnote ), some people dislike her for this.
- Estelle is a bit of a Base Breaker in Tales of Vesperia, but those who dislike her consider her as one of these for much of the same reasons as Shirley and Colette- Being Purity Personified and getting kidnapped and doing nothing to help herself, and finally fighting against the heroes after Brainwashing.
- Fate/stay night: Sakura Matou fits this trope pretty well. She has the biggest Hatedom of the cast and she's one of the least commercial characters in the series along with Shinji and Zouken, despite the fact that she's one of the main heroines. It's not too hard to understand why: Saber and Rin get to kick plenty of ass in and outside their respective routes. As for Sakura, Shirou spends most of her route sacrificing everything to save her, while she doesn't (and can't) do much to help him. Justified or not, people usually don't like characters who don't contribute as much as the others or don't have many character traits outside of being sympathetic.
- Ciem Webcomic Series. One of Denny Levens' basic purposes is to give Candi someone to constantly protect/rescue.
- The idiot damsel in the trope image is Zola from Girl Genius. Not a true example, as while she started out appearing to be a picture-perfect Damsel Scrappy it was later revealed she was in reality a Deliberately Distressed Damsel and an antagonist hiding her true ambitions and skills by appearing to be a useless ball of fluff. But until the reveal she sure had to get rescued. A lot.
- In Flander's Company episode "Pegasus Fantasy", that's how Lawyer-Friendly Cameo Seiya sees Saori Kido from Saint Seiya. It's part of the reason for his Face-Heel Turn (the other part being that he's fed up with the yaoi innuendos of his teammates).
Seiya: Oh yeah? And spending your whole life running after princess Whatshername, who's so dumb, so DUMB that she gets kidnapped every five minutes, you think it's a soft job?
Hippolyte: Indeed... seen like this...
Seiya: Miss is supposed to be the incarnation of a warrior goddess, but as soon as she goes to the Wallmart to take advantage of discounts for the Pig Feast, slam! Two mooks drop on her, and she can't even send them flying. And of course, who has to climb 6000 steps and beat up 142 assholes to get her back? Muggins here! And in half a day, to boot, otherwise Miss could end up dead cold.
- The Nostalgia Critic summed this trope up in his "Top 11 Dumbasses in Distress" video: that the Damsel in Distress and/or Distressed Dude is an old trope that isn't inherently bad at all, unless it's a character the audience is annoyed with rather than cares about.
- Young Allies, according to Superdickery.com — "Near as I can figure, the premise [...] is that group of kids [...] keep getting captured by the Axis forces, and keep needing to be rescued by Bucky and Toro.", and the covers confirm this impression. Also, Bucky.
I'm starting to think that Bucky must have a tracer planted on him that allows Captain America to track down these hidden enclaves of enemy combatants. That's the only possible use I can think of for a sidekick who's only contribution to the war is to get captured every month...
- In-universe examples: Patrick and Esmeralda from The War Comms, always calling for Gordon and Tuxedo Wank Man to save them at the slightest hiccup. Gordon even lampshades this in a comment to Pat during Nancy's intro post.
- Max Gibson in Batman Beyond is often considered this by her detractors. This tendency is best displayed in the episode "Final Cut", where she ignores Terry's instructions and snoops around for clues, leading to her getting attacked by an assassin. Terry has to leave his post protecting the assassin's target to rescue her, which results in the target getting mindwiped with a hidden bomb ready to explode thanks to his Dead Man Switch.
- Julie Yamamoto from Ben 10: Alien Force. As one fan put it, 'Julie had a good 30 minutes to actually do something other than 'I smile, accept Ben, and become a damsel in distress'. Later episodes had her Rescued from the Scrappy Heap however, by giving her Character Development and a mean to fight through Ship. She actually has a quite limited amount of actual Damsel in Distress situation in the whole franchise compared to other Love Interests: over the course of five seasons, she only got captured three times. Really, this is more a case of What Measure Is a Non-Badass? than anything else.
- Norman Price in Fireman Sam. Even on the rare occasions that someone else needs rescuing, he's usually the cause of the trouble.
- Pepper Potts in Iron Man: Armored Adventures has two purposes for her existence: help Tony out on occasion and get captured and rescued constantly even in situations she should be able to escape from on her own. Her behavior is consistently damsel-like despite her aspirations to be a kick-ass SHIELD agent - at one point she's in the middle of an abandoned warehouse where two different factions of Chinese assassins are fighting and she sits there waiting to be rescued instead of getting away from the fighting. Yeah, real SHIELD material. She begins to grow out of this in season 2 after using the Stealth armor, and eventually getting one of her own, making her a bona fide Action Girl.
- Alexandra in Josie and the Pussycats.
- Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo:
- She is known to often fall into traps, be kidnapped by the villain, or anger the villain in some way. Her nickname in the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! series was "Danger-prone Daphne".
- The first live action film played with the concept and had Daphne pick up martial arts skills and become generally more useful after the gang broke up as a direct result of being called out for being the Damsel in Distress. In virtually all Scooby Doo series and films since then, Daphne has been portrayed as a MacGyver with her makeup kit and accessories. Her martial-arts skills from the live action film carry over to the animated film Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword, where she arguably has a Moment of Awesome when she fights in the arena.
- In an interview, the staff of that movie said that changing Daphne was necessary for the sake of proper method acting. The goal established from the start was for live actors to do the best interpretations they could of the cartoon characters, but they ran into a roadblock with Daphne because in the cartoon she essentially had no personality. The natural choice was for Sarah Michelle Gellar to channel her greatest known role.
- Daphne became more competent well before the live action movie. In the 1980s Scooby Doo series when the group was reduced to just her, Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy, she became the leader of the group. That also was true in the 13 Ghosts Of Scooby Doo series, where she was the Team Mom. Unfortunately, she quickly lost accumulated good will with the horrendous character design and jumpsuit she had in that series.
- Also Scrappy Doo, due to his idiotic tendency to pick fights with guys about ten times his size. Shaggy and Scooby usually always have to pull him away before he gets himself hurt or killed.
- He even steps just out of hiding spots Scooby & Shaggy are still in to do it thus compromising everyone's safety so he's essentially a traitorous snitch.
- Static Shock:
- The other girl's name is Frieda. Her role in the cartoon was downplayed after giving Virgil a guy best friend instead of letting her be the best friend. She was replaced by Richie Foley, who is basically her except male and blonde - according to Word of God, he's also gay. On the other hand, Richie also falls into this category in the sense that he's always getting kidnapped and his help is mostly ineffectual except for a few episodes. His ineffectualness begins in episode 1 when he tries to protect Frieda from Hotstreak and gets his shirt burned to a cinder, and he is first kidnapped in the episode "Sons of the Fathers" by Ebon. After that, he becomes a mind-slave twice and is kidnapped at least three more times. However, since he's a male, people love him, even if they're outside of the age group that he was created to appeal to. So he's more of a Damsel Bumblebee than Damsel Scrappy. That, and the fact that Richie gets super powers of his own later on, so he's actually able to help out more in combat and rescues Virgil a few times.
- Aquaman, on the Western Animation/Superfriends, sometimes falls into this role. He seems to exist only as someone to get captured by the Legion of Doom, so that the rest of the Justice League can rescue him.
- Transformers Animated:
- Sentinel Prime is an unusual male (not to mention giant alien robot) example. Most of his time onscreen involves him getting into some scrape or another and having the long-suffering Optimus get him out. It seems the only thing that keeps Optimus from abandoning him is a sense of guilt about their shared past and perhaps some level of fondness for his old Academy-mate.
- Mix of all of the above, and the hope that Sentinel gets it through his thick head that his arrogance is a Bad Thing. But Status Quo Is God and he always rubber bands back to being a jackass by his next appearance. Even Jazz, who has long tolerated (or ignored) it as his second in command, finally gives up and more or less defects to Prime's crew.
- Miko of Transformers Prime. No matter how many times she is told by her friends not to sneak off to see the titular robots fight and get caught in the crossfire, she sneaks off anyway, has to get rescued, and in some cases nearly kills her friends. After doing so, she can be counted on to laugh about how awesome it all was even as the Autobots are trying to make her understand that nearly getting people killed or causing important missions to fail is in fact not a good thing. Being merely Too Dumb to Live would be bad enough, but knowing and not caring because your amusement is more important... she makes people say "I guess Daniel Witwicky wasn't all bad..." Also, she's another one the creators love far more than the viewers, so we get a lot of screentime devoted to someone whose "wacky antics" fall squarely into Dude, Not Funny!.
- Greatly improved in season two. She's gone from underfoot and proud of it to actually helpful, caring when people almost get killed, and not being the most common cause of people almost getting killed. All while not becoming unrecognizable. The arc with Bulkhead's injury and recovery have been especially good for her, and prove that anyone can be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Then on season 3 she goes one on one with Starscream with the Apex Armor. And Win!