Playing With / Neutral Female

Basic Trope: While the villain and hero fight, the damsel in distress does not attempt to aid the hero in any way.
  • Straight: The Big Bad and Bob fight while Princess Carol just stands and watches helplessly.
  • Exaggerated: Princess Carol is a skilled warrior with major street credentials under her belt, possessing abilities that far surpasses that of the Hero and Big Bad combined. But she just decides to stand by because...that's just what girls do.
  • Downplayed: Princess Carol does nothing for a reason. Sure she could throw the Big Bad off as a fatal distraction but that could get Bob killed because she knows he'd attempt a Diving Save.
  • Justified:
    • Bob told her about the promise he made to himself to kill the Big Bad, in order to avenge the loved ones he lost to him. Carol stays out of the fight to honor his wish.
    • Princess Carol has a good reason not to join the fight — she is injured, immobilized, has no fighting skills, or is simply frozen with panic and indecision.
    • A conflict of interest: Bob is her lover, but the Big Bad is her brother.
    • Carol is a pacifist.
    • She may be powerful and capable in her own right, but this particular fight is simply on a level above her own and she knows if she gets involved it likely would do more harm than good.
    • Princess Carol is a Dirty Coward.
    • The fight is a duel and a matter of honour. Carol's interference (to give Bob an unfair advantage) would be breaking the rules/code of honour.
    • They're fighting over her. Either Carol is using it as a Secret Test of Character to prove Bob is a worthy match, or it's some kind of ritual combat to decide who is deemed the worthy suitor. Either way, she doesn't get involved because that would be missing the point.
  • Inverted:
    • Princess Carol has to be restrained from killing the Big Bad, herself.
    • Action Girl
    • Gender Inverted: Prince Carl is the one in the situation.
  • Subverted:
    • Princess Carol seems to be doing nothing, but in actuality, she's chanting a spell to harm the Big Bad.
    • Or, alternatively, she is the Big Bad.
  • Double Subverted: ...but the spell backfires and makes Bob's situation even worse.
  • Parodied:
    • Princess Carol has an entire arsenal of weapons strewn at her feet yet is staring dumbstruck as the hero is facing near certain death at the hands of the villain.
    • Princess Carol outright refuses to fight or escape when every opportunity is handed to her. Alternatively she may even volunteer to be captured because she feels it is her royal, female duty to let Bob, the hero, take care of all her problems.
    • Princess Carol looks to be aroused by watching the hero and big bad fight over her.
  • Zig Zagged:
  • Averted: Princess Carol is already fighting when Bob arrives or makes an effort to assist in her escape in some way.
    • The Big Bad was smart and had Princess Carol too thoroughly restrained to assist.
  • Enforced: The actress playing Carol got an injury recently, and can't do any fight scenes.
  • Lampshaded:
    • The next exchange happens:
    Bob: "Hey, Princess! Little help here?"
    Carol: "Oh. Um... Sorry, that's just way too much testosterone for my comfort. I'll just stand right here and let you guys work this all out."
    • Alternatively...
    Carol: "Fight back, you say? Foolishness! I'm a helpless female. What? You just expect me to break a nail just to save everyone the trouble? Not on your life, sport."
  • Invoked: The Big Bad has magic to render Carol helpless; Bob tells her to stay out of the fight or she'll be taken hostage.
  • Exploited: The Big Bad takes the opportunity to weaken Bob and Carol's relationship, pointing out that Carol obviously doesn't care if Bob is killed due to her inaction.
  • Defied:
    • "Hey! I may be a Lady, but that doesn't mean I'm obligated to sit by just so that a bunch of boys can be bull-headed dunderheads."
    • After watching Bob get the snuff beaten out of him Carol decides that Bob is more important than being proper and joins the fight.
  • Discussed: "You know princesses. They just sort of stand there."
  • Conversed: "Isn't she going to do anything?"
  • Deconstructed:
    • Bob is seriously injured or dies at the Big Bad's hands. Princess Carol, overwhelmed by guilt and despair at her inaction, vows to never be weak again and vigorously trains to become a better fighter.
    • Princess Carol is berated for her uselessness in battle or is told to stay far away from the battlefield where she's out of everyone's way.
  • Reconstructed: Bob needs to defeat the Big Bad himself, so Princess Carol deliberately abstains from the fight to spare his honor.
  • Played For Laughs: Carol merely stands by looking bored at the fight as she files her nails.
  • Played For Drama: Carol is suffering from some sort of phobia. She wants to help but she is too terrified to do anything.

"While you go fight the Big Bad, I'll just stand back and watch; I'm a Neutral Female, after all!"