A character who has been captured but certainly not cowed
Let's say Alice has been captured, but instead of docilely doing what she's told, she resists attempts to control her. She may attempt to reason with her captor
or play mindgames from her cell.
If they explain The Plan
behind her kidnapping, she'll point out everything wrong with it.
At most passive, she'll engage in Passive-Aggressive Kombat
or a hunger strike
. At her most active, she'll try to escape. Whether or not she succeeds is irrelevant; the point is that she's doing all she can to make life difficult for her captor in spite of the situation.
The Badass in Distress
will usually be defiant.
Contrast Damsel in Distress
, who generally is too frightened, inexperienced, or helpless to put up a fight; compare Damsel out of Distress
, who rescues herself.
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Anime & Manga
- Honorable Hogwarts: A case could be made for Madeline Frost although she's only successfully been kidnapped once. One of her kidnappers suffered a compound fracture of the leg before she was finally subdued, and then she told off the Big Bad who had orchestrated the kidnapping without showing any fear.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, both Roll and Kalinka are this when captive, as they try to impede Wily's plans or talk his robots down.
- In the Lord of the Rings fanfic Left, Frodo tries to withhold information about his homeland and identity, and when the orcs mention Sam, Frodo clams up entirely for fear of betraying him. He also mentions to the orcs threatening him that Sauron won't be happy if he's killed just yet.
Films — Animation
- Belle, from Disney's Beauty and the Beast refuses to kowtow to the Beast like his servants. Initially going the passive route ("I'm not hungry") she ultimately makes her escape. This attempt was a 'failure' in that she goes back but by then she's no longer a prisoner and more like an honored guest that isn't allowed to leave.
- Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero Barbara Gordon talks back to Mr. Freeze when he kidnaps her, attacks him with the same chains she's shackled with, tries to reason with him once she learns about his Ill Girl wife Nora (so she'll be able to help him save her without losing her organs ( and later it turns out a properly done blood transfusion is enough), saves his Kid Sidekick, tries to save him too...
- Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. When she is tied to a pyre, Claude Frollo, who has lusted for her since meeting her, offers to release her in exchange for becoming "his". She metaphorically - and literally - spits on his offer.
- Disney's Peter Pan: Tiger Lily is very calm despite Hook's threats. The only time we hear her speak is a drowned-out shout for help.
- Angel in Rock & Rule is completely uncooperative with Mok's plans for her. In order to get her to sing the Armageddon Key, Mok has to drug her and strap her into his computer system.
Films — Live Action
- An early scene in The Great Escape has Bartlett tell the German POW Camp commander to his face that he will be attempting to prove the Germans wrong about the camp being escape-proof, as is his duty as a prisoner-of-war.
- Fourth Die Hard movie. John has been running around killing bad guys, but they have his daughter, and put her on the radio to beg her father to give up. Instead she says "Now there are only five of them" before they can yank the radio away, giving him some much-needed intel. When she defiantly challenges the Big Bad to fight her one on one without any restraints, he remarks that she and John are definitely related.
- She takes after her mother, who can talk back to an unrepentant murdering Big Bad on behalf of her colleagues and negotiate, then after an exhaustively terrifying night, punch out the stupid reporter who made the whole situation worse.
- The Phantom, in the 1996 film version, has Diana Palmer. She's kidnapped twice in the course of the story, but she is anything but weak and frightened. Instead, she's a wealthy treasure hunter with a taste for adventure in the Indiana Jones mold. When she's kidnapped for the first time, for instance, she is not scared but very angry: assuming she's being held for ransom, she declares that "you'll not get a red cent" from her family.
- Elizabeth Swann is like this in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; sassing Barbossa despite being his captive.
- Star Wars,
- A New Hope: Princess Leia did what she could to keep the secret of the rebel hideout; standing up to Darth Vader and resisting a mind probe. Too bad Alderaan was blown up despite her efforts.
- This trope is also in full force in any of Barbara Hambly's expanded universe novels. Two things you can absolutely be sure of: 1. Leia will be kidnapped by the Villains of the Book, and 2. She will make their lives pure hell before skewering them with a lightsaber near the climax.
- True Lies Dana is saved by her father, but before that, she steals the key that the terrorists need to detonate their nuclear bomb; not bad for a fourteen-year-old.
- The Wolverine: Mariko got in a few hits on her kidnappers and even put one of Hanada's assassins in a chokehold.She saves Logan from Silver Samurai.
- Con Air: Sally Bishop spends most of the movie handcuffed, but she remains absolutely FEARLESS against the cons, including kicking away Johnny-23 when he tries to rape her.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: After Kirk and company corners John Harrison, he surrenders himself freely and provides no resistance as they escort him to the brig. He spends his time there calmly standing in his cell providing a Hannibal Lecture and informing Kirk that he has been an Unwitting Pawn for Admiral Marcus. Oh, and telling the crew that he is actually Khan Noonien Singh.
- Black Hawk Down: Aidid's lieutenant, Atto, spends the movie sitting in an interrogation room enjoying a Cuban cigar and civilly telling General Garrison that it was a mistake to try and intervene in Somalia's civil war.
- The Pillars of the Earth: Aliena. There's plenty of distress for this damsel, but she fights back. She builds her own successful business from nothing.
- In Poul Anderson's "Time Lag", Elva's position as prisoner does not prevent her weaselling concessions out of Bors, and at the end, she casually orders them to take Bors into the corridors and shoot him.
- The Dresden Files Murphy plays around with this trope. When ever she's in trouble/captured (which is rare) she sends Harry a message that she's playing the part, and not actually cowed. Harry has a chivalrous rush-to-women's defense impulse.
- Clara from Dark Ones Mistress refuses to become her lord's mistress, making several escape attempts before succeeding. A 'failure' of sorts in that she finds nowhere to go afterwards and returns, goes back but with the understanding that it is a temporary measure and he will allow her to leave.
- Jerin of A Brother's Price is this when he is captured, using various strategies, trying to manipulate his kidnappers into thinking he's helpless and childlike is one of them. Cira, captured along with him is this, too, but is also a Badass in Distress.
Live Action TV
- Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Rare Gender Flipped version in the form of Cyrus. He's a genie waiting in a silver cage for Alice to rescue him, but he also gives his enemies plenty of sass and outwits them on a number of occasions (such as tricking them into sending a monster after Alice that he knows she can handle).
- Played for Laughs on Hogan's Heroes with Crittenden. While it is the duty of a POW to try to escape (which Hogan constantly reminds Klink, and an occasional method of diverting attention from his operations is simulating he's planning an escape), Crittenden diverts all the efforts of the camp at doing so every time he's there, even though his "escape plans" are absolutely atrocious and constantly endanger exposition of Hogan's operations.
- In Assassins Creed II's "Battle of Forlì" DLC, Caterina Sforza's captured daughter Bianca spends her time mocking her captors. She's ten years old.
Bianca: Is this all the men you have to hold me? Stolti (Fools). It won't be enough. My mamma is fierce. We Sforza women are no wilting flowers! We may look pretty to the eye, but the eyes deceive! Just ask babbo (Father). I hope you don't really imagine I'm scared of you. You'd be very mistaken. My mamma would never let you hurt me. And, if you touch one hair on my little brother's head, she will hunt you down and eat you for breakfast! Capito (Understood)? This is absurd, you know. You'll never survive this. I'll be home in an hour! So, you're basically just wasting your time and mine! I'm getting bored! Don't you have anything to do, while I wait for you to die?!
- (Her nine-year-old brother, by contrast, just cried for his mother. And complained that he had to pee.)
- Vagrant Story: Callo Merlose is kidnapped just before the first boss, and remains captive for the entire game; since she's there to investigate the antagonists anyway, she takes advantage of this situation to learn as much as she can. On one occasion she almost reverses the power balance between herself and her captor. Heck, when she's first kidnapped, she straight up tells Ashley to stay on task and not bother about rescuing her!
- In Robopon, when kidnapped by her own father, Lisa instructs Cody to find bombs and blow up his tower.
- Billy Thatcher in morphE. He spends every moment of his time in Amical's manor trying to get one over on his host/captor, whether it be in attempts to escape or lash out at the man responsible for his imprisonment. After setting fire to one of Amical's beloved paintings he was shot for his efforts and immediately went on to fight for his freedom in a game of wits while bleeding out.
- Roll from the Mega Man cartoon gets captured a couple times, but usually manages to make trouble for her captors—and she's an Action Girl in combat.
- Batman Beyond:
- Dana Tan; the few times she's a Damsel in Distress for more than a minute, she fights back. When kidnapped by a Stalker with a Crush, she tricks him into leaving her alone and tries to escape through the sewers. When Batman is overcome by giant rats while rescuing her, she creates a torch out of flotsam lying around and successfully drives the rats off of him. In The Movie, she almost gets away from the Joker who grabs her; unfortunately, she gives him so much trouble that instead of kidnapping her, he tries to kill her by throwing off the balcony.
- Max Gibson is no slouch, either; on one occasion, she talked her captor into making a Heel-Face Turn. In another, she overpowered her guards, tried to escape, and called out her captor for being crazy.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has an interesting example in the episode A Dog and Pony Show. The Diamond Dogs try to capture Rarity and force her to dig for gems for them. Unfortunately for them, she manages to drive them nuts with her over-the-top drama queen whining. At the end, it turns out Rarity did that quite deliberately.