Looks like it's the end of the line, woobie
. All the characters with awesome action skills aren't going to come save you. They just get to watch
while I brutalize you so as to kick me a few notches up the villain ladder.
What was that? I can't- BLAFGH!
That sound you just heard is what happens when a character who is assumed to be weak and helpless compared to their stronger counterparts in a setting won't give in. Yes, narrative convention assumes that they will fail to successfully resist, but to hell with that. They're going down kicking and screaming (or snarking), and absolutely won't let the villain enjoy the sadism that they expected.
When successful, this usually results in a Crowning Moment of Awesome
. When unsuccessful, it can lead to either some talk about the reason why you suck
, things going even more wrong
, or tragic results
See also Beware the Nice Ones
, Damsel out of Distress
, Iron Woobie
, Submissive Badass
Anime and Manga
- Perhaps the darkest and most disturbing example is The Protagonist Ryo Narushima from Shamo. He begins the series by murdering both of his parents with a knife because he felt their overbearingness would kill him soon. And then proceeded to get much much worse.
- In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, Rika figures out who the true antagonist of the series is (Miyo Takano), but is powerless to stop them. Rika refuses anesthesia before being disemboweled by Miyo, so they won't forget the identity in the next time loop.
- In Deadman Wonderland, one of Ganta's many awesome moments is one of these. During his first Deadman fight with Crow/Senji, it looks like he's about to give up- until he grabs the back of Senji's coat, hauls himself up and proceeds to say how it's tough, he's scared, but he wants to live. However, Senji's not a villain, and actually respects Ganta for this. Ganta also has another one before this, during the Dog Race.
- In the second episode of Blue Seed, Momiji is attacked by an Aragami and the TAC and Kusanagi aren't around to save her. The Aragami points this out as a way to verbally torture Momiji before killing her. But the priestess fights back, killing the Aragami with a flare gun right before Kusanagi showed up too late. Momiji makes it clear that she doesn't want to be a victim and plans to fight. She joins the TAC.
- Done as a Take That in Nextwave, when the New Paramounts attack the team and Charlie America goes after the British Elsa Bloodstone. When he tells her to lie back and take it like a good victim, she indignantly points to the Euro symbol on her shirt and says, "Victim? VICTIM?! DO YOU THINK THIS LETTER ON MY CHEST STANDS FOR AMERICA?!"
- Faust, in Things We Donít Tell Humans. Heís barely an adult, heís a prisoner of war in the Decepticon camp, and he (as far as a bullying Starscream knows) has had no proper combat training by anyone who can fly. Unfortunately for Starscream, Faust is a Kung-Fu Kid, Megatron is egging him on to fight, and Starscream just said something to press Faustís Berserk ButtonÖ
- In the Axis Powers Hetalia fanfiction Refusal to Fall, Ukraine is injured and at the mercy of the personification of the Empire, a political movement that's been assimilating and killing nations left and right. Given the choice between surrendering to the Empire or dying, Ukraine reflects on how she's spent her life depending on others to take care of her, before saying "I bow to no one" and shooting him. She herself is killed not long after, but is later remembered as a brave soldier who turned the tide against the Empire.
- Another Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic, Seven Little Killers, has Finland (of all people) pull one of these while Blue/ Canada is killing him. Both a Crowning Moment of Awesome and an unbridled Tear Jerker.
- Done psychologically in Lockout when Emilie refuses to cave to the demands of her kidnappers to have her father, the president, call off his attack and instead tells him to blow the space-jail (including herself) out of the sky.
- Subverted in The Dark Knight. When Rachel responds to the Joker's threats via a Groin Attack, this actually makes things worse- now, instead of being a random damsel, she's an interesting damsel worthy of being involved in plans far more dangerous than establishing Joker's villain cred.
- Street Fighter, M. Bison has Chun Li locked in his private quarters, with her hands tied together. Bison goes at length taunting Chun Li with how he has separated her from her two Bruisers, and how she is now helpless.
- In the Japanese live action version of the manga Hana Yori Dango, the heroine, Makino Tsukushi, delivers a solid punch to the jaw of Domyouji Tsukasa, the spoiled, sadistic BMOC of Eitoku High School and its clique of ultra-rich hot guys, The Flower Four. No one dares to cross the F4 for fear of retaliation, but Tsukushi — who the F4, particularly Domyouji, have been picking on mercilessly for weeks — refuses to play the victim anymore and declares war. This could be considered a Crowning Moment of Awesome, except it happens so early in the story that there is much more awesome to follow!
- In the Korean live action version of the same manga, entitled Boys Over Flowers, Geum Jan Di, the heroine, opts to deliver a spinning kick to Gu Jun Pyo's face instead of a punch. It is equally made of awesome.
- In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne is often beaten and raped by a group called the Sisters. When he fights back, the leader says, "Yes, you fight, I like that!", and it goes From Bad to Worse. Red says that "I wish I could say that Andy fought the good fight and they left him alone, but life is not a fairy tale". What saves Andy isn't his brawn or openly refusing to be a victim, but rather his knowledge and his ability to work with others. He gains favor with the guards by helping them with taxes and wins the support of other prisoners by getting them beer. The lead guard finds out about the Sisters and beats the hell out of the leader, leaving him permanently crippled. Only then do the Sisters finally leave Andy alone.
- Towards the beginning of The Avengers, we first see Black Widow tied to a chair, ostensibly being interrogated by a few Russians. One of her captors' phones ring, and it just so happens to be Coulson, telling Natalie that she has to come in. It just so happens that she wasn't as helpless as her captors believed, since she proceeds to beat the shit out of them (involving a very neat backflip to get herself out of the chair) while wearing nothing but a little black dress.
- An even better example of this is the defiant old man in Germany when Loki attempted to intimidate the crowd before the Avengers showed up.
- In Tereza Batista, the titular heroine is sold at the age of thirteen to be a sex slave to a captain. Rather than submitting to her fate as a victim, she viciously thrashes, bites, and attacks her subduer for several pages before finally being forced to submit. After the Time Skip — when he catches her in bed with a lover, and the lover cowers realizing what the captain's about to do to him, Tereza immediately takes advantage of the captain's turned back to stab him. This shocks the captain as he lies dying, since his slaves aren't supposed to have the willpower to think they can actually kill him once they've been broken.
- Some of the victims on Criminal Minds do this. Others do not.
- In Game of Thrones Jaime tells Brienne that she will be raped by the House Bolton soldiers who have captured them and advises her not to fight since they will kill her if she resists. Brienne asks Jaime if he would just let himself be raped if he were a woman; Jaime replies that he would make them kill him. Brienne, predictably, puts up quite a good fight but Jaime convinces the leader of the soldiers to ransom her (which requires her "honor" to be intact) before they can cause her much harm.
- In the 5th season of Angel, when Illyria starts to take over her body and destroy her soul, Fred Burkle says she refuses to be a damsel in distress.
- Andrea in the television version of The Walking Dead after her failed suicide attempt. The early results are...mixed.
- One of the most popular Super Stupor strips is about a superhero's girlfriend who beats the crap out of a villain who tries to stuff her into the fridge, finishing the beating by shoving his hand into a garbage disposal. He did say "unhand me", after all...
- The Cadmus Arc in Justice League Unlimited centers around The Flash — specifically, the fact that his death at Luthor's hands is what caused the Justice Lords to go over the edge in their Alternate Universe. When Luthor attempts to reenact this event in the second season finale, Flash takes matters into his own hands, defeating Luthor by going so fast the sheer energy discharge of collision is enough to destroy Luthor/Brainiac's Nigh Invulnerable armor piece by piece.