Subverted in Battle Spirits Sword Eyes with Grenada. The show starts out with the premise that Tsurugi has to rescue her but as it turns out, she was on the side of the villains willingly. This is later twisted again when it's revealed that she was a Reverse Mole working with the Red Army.
Played completely straight in the manga, however, where she remains imprisoned until the conclusion.
Rukia Kuchiki gets to be the Damsel in Distress in the Soul Society arc, despite the fact that she could fight in previous episodes (and after her rescue).She agreed to go because she knew she'd be executed for giving her powers to a human... and Rukia wanted to die in the first place. Despite her Quickly-Demoted Woman status, it could be argued that Rukia was actually just a Badass in Distress... for a really long time.
Casca plays all three tropes: Damsel in Distress, Action Heroine and then sadly Faux Actiongirl. It also doesn't help the majority of villains who capture her also want to get in her pants (even in her childhood Egh). Guts is the man who saves the most often and his first rescue of her is the reason why she fell in love with him since no man had ever shed so much blood for her before. Casca is still given plenty of badass moments and even brings down Adon but after the Eclipse where all her friends are killed and she is raped by the man she once loved and her baby with Guts is corrupted. Casca becomes completely helpless and needs to be protected by Guts constantly, hell the whole Conviction arc was nothing but a Rescue Arc, and even the Beast of Darkness in Guts tries to get him to kill Casca or let her die. But Guts simply cannot forgo his love and will throw himself after her, Casca is not completely gone as her old self still lives in subconscious and will activate when she is sexually attacked. Casca is on the mend now as the elf king (queen) Hanafubuku explores Casca's mind along with Farnese and Schierke.
Farnese is a frequent one, justified in her introduction as while she leads the Holy Chain Knights she no training and was never expected to fight. Though it still embarrassing how helpless she is even needing to be saved by Guts (the man who held her hostage) and her half bother Serpico. She later gets some magical witch power ups from Schierke and would seem to be elevated to Action Girl status but still gets into danger anyway and while she's protecting Casca and is actually disappointed when Guts is more focused on protecting Casca than her.
Little girls like Jill and Schierke, saved by Guts in Papa Wolf fashion.
Most women in general in Berserk have to be rescued from the men & Monsters who usually have less than pure intentions for them. Casca in youth was saved from a rapey nobleman by Griffith (horribly ironic later). Village girl Jill and little witch Schierke were protected by Guts and both of them became Daddy's Girl(s) towards him. Griffith's medium Sonia was saved by in almost the same way as Casca (but with more slavery) and is also in danger from the monster warriors that make up Griffith's army. Though Sonia is unbearably cheerful, worshiping Griffith as the messiah (when he is anything but) so her actually dying would be no big loss.
Instead of a Rescue Arc, Kallen's time as a Prisoner Of War is used as Character Development. She not only interacts with Nunnally and sees a different side of Lelouch through her, but also gets to punch Suzakuwhile wearing said frilly, cleavage heavy dress, which makes Suzaku realize he isJumping Off the Slippery Slope. She ends up in a mini-Trauma Conga Line version of this as not long after the battle over Tokyo comes to its disastrous conclusion, during which she was finally freed from her imprisonment, she ends up back in distress again, as she tries to defend Lelouch, who she has been used to bait into a betrayal from her fellow Black Knights. Her comrades accuse her of being under Lelouch's geass. When he realizes Schneizel is behind this, it takes Lelouch shooing her off with a fake admission to using them all in order to save her.
Aura's kidnapping is the drive behind most of volume 2 and 3 of Corsair, however, being a Plucky Girl she doesn't act overly distressed about it or her impending execution, and when Ayace finally shows up to rescue her, her reaction is: "You're late!"
Maeda in Cromartie High School is a text book example despite being male. Very commonly plots are kicked off because he gets kidnapped by a rival high school prompting the students of Cromartie to go rescue him. Though, being a comedy show, it's played for laughs and he rarely gets rescued since the protagonists will usually get lost or caught up in something else.
In Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, Maia is kidnapped on numerous occasions, but it's justified on grounds that Rena doesn't give her any combat or weapons training before sending her into dangerous situations. This is because her role for most of the series is basically to be live bait to lure out the bad guys, and Rena simply trusts her team to be able to rescue Maia whenever it's necessary.
Jasmine though she started off as a subversion saving Lief and Barda from the Wennbar and annoyingly bragging about how they'd helpless without her afterwards. Jasmine still gets in plenty of trouble and needs the Lief, Barda or Doom her dad to pull her out of trouble. She gets plenty of kick ass moments and even wins the Rithmere games (though her opponent let her win) is competent for the most part. But this winning streak does not hold up for most of the series as she is quickly overpowered by the stronger monsters and is even used a Human Shield by a Ol against Lief.
It's fair to point out in the books she is captured far less.
Neridah often act helpless to fool lovesick boys (like Lief) into her trap but then actually gets captured for real later on and angry screams that the heroes aren't so eager to help her. Many fans wish she had died like in the books.
Bulma despite knowing how to use a gun, needs to have her ass saved frequently. Mostly by Goku, Yamcha, Master Roshi (and later Vegeta and Trunks her husband and son).
Launch in her good blue form but her badass blonde Split Personality is a big subversion, easily able to handle herself (though she gets flustered when Tien is around).
Chi-Chi in her first appearance as a kid is a funny subversion as she is attacked by a T-Rex and falls about crying, but her helmet shoots lasers beams out and fries everything around her; but opening her eyes and looking around at the devastation only causes her to cry more. Goku later shows up, helps her out and promises to marry her (thinking that marriage is some kind of food). Later in the last Dragon Ball filler before Dragon Ball Z, Goku and Chi-Chi work together to save the Ox King from his burning castle and despite being a trained fighter at this point Chi-Chi still screams out to her fiance Goku to help her out. Chi-Chi doesn't need much saving as a house wife in Dragonball Z, though it gets played around with in Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug as when Gohan is fighting the solider henchman Chi-Chi bursts in and takes two of them out, Gohan is amazed and Chi-Chi brags just long enough before she is knocked out by a third solider.
Videl despite being a trained fighter is frequently putting herself in danger as the city protector, and needs to get pulled out of it by her boyfriend/future husband Gohan in his Great Saiyanman disguise. A funny subversion in the second Broly movie where Videl tries to fight the mad Saiyan but is immediately beaten aside, and Gohan only comes later to save Goten and Trunks. Videl angrily confronts Gohan yelling at him that he didn't show up sooner to save her, Goten and Trunks look on confused saying "that's love I guess..".
Android 18 thankfully is a badass Action Girl for the most part, though when Semi-Perfect Cell (blame Executive Meddling for that) shows up and seeks to absorb her (egh) she is fairly helpless and has to be unsuccessfully protected by Krillin and a reluctant Trunks (although to be fair, Cell devoured her brother first). Also in the Third Broly movie, she is overpowered and needs to be rescued by her now husband Krillin (though it's sweet moment). These cases are rare though, as she's stronger than her husband.
Winry is taken "hostage" by the military after Ed and Al discover the truth about the homunculi. Although Winry has no idea, if Ed and Al do something the government doesn't like, then the powers-that-be will kill her. To save her, they end up north, near Briggs, and enlist the unlikely help of Scar, the man who'd murdered her parents, by pretending to have him kidnap her. Granted, the fake kidnapping part of the plan was Winry's own idea, so she half rescued herself...
This dirty little trick was played off on Roy and Riza as well: the same situation was setup with Riza, to make sure Roy didn't act up. However, she's more of a Badass in Distress here because despite being a hostage, she knows it isn't fazed by it in the slightest. She remains courageous to the point where she can confront Selim Bradley about his secret identity as the homunculus Pride, and then use her position as a hostage to prevent him from killing her on the spot.
In the later Full Metal Panic! novels, Kaname turns into an extreme Damsel in Distress. She may have more or less given up for a while after the events of Continuing On My Own, but it's only a temporary thing, and it's not that long before she starts to regain some of her old vigor and determination. After that she ends up being more or less mind controlled by Sophia aka the First Whispered Ever, but that's a bit of a different matter.
Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi. Despite being the main protaganist of the series, she ends up needing to be rescued from wild animals, bandits, the Big Bad, and just about anything else that a human being might concievably need rescuing from.
Lampshaded in GUN×SWORD when Van asks Wendy "Why do you keep getting caught?" (As it happens, she keeps getting in trouble because she's not afraid to mouth off to the villain of the week . . . which usually pisses off said villain.)
Goblin Slayer has no shortage of this due to the Mars Needs Women nature of goblins. However, the experience is treated as much more traumatizing than most examples, and unfortunately not every damsel is saved.
Kagome has to deal with more then a fair share of kidnappings. This can be somewhat justified on grounds that she starts the series as a normal teenager with no combat training who is thrust in a world where she constantly faces life-threatening situations.
Rin probably personifies this trope more then any other character in the series, though this makes sense as a normal small child with no fighting skills who travels with a demon lord who has many powerful enemies.
In Part One, Poco's sister gets abducted by Dio's minions at one point and needs to be rescued, though it's not really focused upon since the main cast were on their way to defeat Dio anyway.
*On the opposite end of the spectrum, Part Three's plot is driven entirely by the fact that Holly is slowly being killed by her own Stand, so the main cast need to travel to Egypt and kill DIO to end the curse before fifty days are up.
In Part Two, Lisa Lisa catches the Distress Ball during her fight with Kars, and when Joseph steps in to save her, Kars uses her as a hostage against him.
In Part Five, Trish Una ends up in this situation twice, once when Diavolo revealed that he had been tricking Bucellati's team into bringing her to Venice so he could kill her, and then again during the Chariot Requiem arc when Chariot Requiem ends up putting Diavolo's soul into the same body as hers (Mista's, for the record), and he uses his King Crimson to immobilize her Spice Girl and take over said shared body.
Lucy Steel in Part Seven gets this treatment constantly as she juggles the aforementioned Distress Ball. Every time she tries (and, all the following being said, typically succeeds) in acting against Funny Valentine, she ends up cornered in a locked room and needs to be rescued by, in order, Mountain Tim, Gyro and Johnny, Hot Pants, and (sort of) the actual Jesus Christ. Emphasis on the sort of on the last one, since Jesus' method of 'rescuing' her is choosing her as the host of the Head of the Holy Corpse - and later, the completed Corpse, giving her the Stand Ticket to Ride... which eventually started consuming her energy to repair the Corpse as long as she stayed in Valentine's presence. This forced Johnny, Gyro, Diego, and Hot Pants to chase down Valentine's train in hopes of putting a stop to Valentine and saving Lucy.
Nao from the Liar Game starts off as this, extremely naive and crying whenever someone who she put her trust in (even if she shouldn't) deceived her and always relying constantly on Akiyama to help her. But she matured and now, she's quite a force to be reckoned with, using her honest character to trick others, even deceiving Magnificent Bastards Yokoya and Akiyama on separate occasions without either of them realizing it until afterwards.
Lupin III: Clarisse, Murasaki, Fujiko (sometimes)... The character trope was used back in the Manga, and is expected to occur. There's one in pretty much every Lupin movie or TV special, in fact. See the Animated Films page.
Subverted in Magic Knight Rayearth, as a part of the Twist Ending of the first half of the story. The Magic Knights thoughtPrincess Emeraude was the Damsel in Distress who summoned them to Cephiro to rescue her, but she actually entered the dungeon she's seemingly "imprisoned" in of her own free will due to her conflicted emotions. She's actually in love with her supposed kidnapper Zagato, but as the Pillar of Cephiro, having feelings for anyone outside of her duty is enough to plunge Cephiro into chaos. Since the Pillar can't harm themselves and no one in Cephiro can harm them either, the only option she feels she has left is to summon the Magic Knights from another world so they can kill her. In the end, her emotions drive her berserk and the Knights have no choice but to fulfil her request.
Happens several times in Mahou Sensei Negima! First is Konoka during the Kyoto arc, but that's a Justified Trope since she had not waken up her own powers and she didn't have any similar to self-defense training. Then a demon captures Asuna. Lastly, Asuna and Anya are held captive by Fate. Unfortunately, the rest of the team is unaware of this, as Asuna is replaced by a doppelganger, and Anya is MIA to begin with.
Realizing that Johan has plans to meet up with (and presumably do horrible, unspeakable things to) his estranged twin sister, Nina, Tenma rushes off to rescue her. The thing is, in the rush, the good doctor seems to have not accounted for two things — 1) Being mostly a Non-Action Guy, he is woefully unprepared for things like a crazed lackey stabbing him in the face with garden shears and 2) Nina is pretty damn awesome in the art of Aikido, which she immediately demonstrates by saving him. Looks like she didn't need your help after all, Tenma. Too bad the same couldn't be said for her parents...
Also played straight with Eva when she is rescued from The Baby by Martin
Invoked by the Help Us Company in My Hero Academia who are professional Damsels in Distress. This is not as ridiculous as it sounds, as they act as judges for aspiring heroes trying to get their license, specifically by assessing their capability on crisis control and lifesaving techniques. They're also very good at their job, and the complaints they make is never without reason.
Nami the resident Gold Digger and navigator of the "Strawhats Pirates" has been kidnapped and rescued more times than anyone on board the crew (even more than Usopp and Chopper) she is abducted usually because of her good looks and her superior navigation skills. Nami is normally rescued by the three strongest males on the crew Luffy, Zoro and Sanji (frequently) and only learned how to defend herself in the Alabasta arc where she given a weapon by Usopp a storm summoning lighting rod called "Clima tact" turning her into a fighter, but she continues to be kidnapped anyway, turning her into a Faux Action Girl at best.
Enies Lobby is a Rescue Arc where the Straw Hats are fighting the CP9 to save Robin. However, her status as a damsel in distress is justified by the fact that she willingly let herself get captured. She felt she had to die, so she surrendered to the World Government. Plus, although she was bound with Seastone by the time she regained the will to live, she still tried her best to escape, and the only reason she failed was because Spandam kept using Funkfreed to keep her in line. She started fighting back the moment she was freed from the Seastone.
The second time was when Bartholomew Kuma blasted her to Tequila Wolf, where she was forced to work as a slave. But in this case, she was saved by Revolutionaries more or less instantly and was not bound with Seastone anyway, making her status as "distressed" questionable at best.
Captain Tashigi of the Marines is unfortunately this for most of her appearances. Though in her introduction she was a subversion as Zoro witnessed her getting attacked by a couple of mooks and was gonna jump to her rescue but then was amazed when she cut both of them down in seconds. Tashigi also resembles Zoro's dead childhood friend Kuina and has to be saved by him despite their warring factions. Even in a Freaky Friday situation when Tashigi is swapped in the body of her superior Smoker (who can turn into smoke) Tashigi is immediately overpowered by Luffy who expresses surprise at the fact Smoker has seemly grown weaker. Though after Sanji saves her from Vergo and Zoro rescues her again from Monet the snow harpy, Tashigi manages to bring Monet down in Designated Girl Fight fashion making her less of a damsel (though Zoro had to help her).
Most Princesses in One Piece are kidnapped or are frequently in danger. Vivi acknowledges that she isn't strong but still tries her best to save her county, Rebecca due to a promise she made to her mother and her father Kyros making sure she doesn't bloody her hands ever teaches her Deadly Dodging but this doesn't hold up when Domflamingo comes in to ruin Rebecca's day. And Mermaid Shirahoshi gets captured throughout the Fishman island arc but in end gets a ability to control sea kings and is apparently one of the ancient weapons so she's not quite helpless but still acts like it for the majority of the time. Even Reiju, Sanji's older sister seemed like the only princess who was gonna avert this trope gets shot by Pudding half way though the arc and then held at gunpoint during the climax, Reiju does get a kick-moment before getting overpowered by Big Mom and needed to be saved by Luffy and Sanji.
Queen Felia -The Hero's mother- gets captured and imprisoned by the Big Bad in first episode. Jordy spends a long while believing his mother was dead, but as soon as he finds out that she's alive, rescuing her becomes one of his priorities.
Hilmuka kidnaps Chururu in the third episode. Although in this instance Hilmuka only wanted to draw Jordy's attention, and she let Chururu go when he found them.
Pikachu often gets himself caught in Team Rocket's traps. However, he often gets himself out, so this is an aversion.
Nearly every character, male or female, had a turn as this (Misty being a common one). Amusingly, the Team Rocket trio themselves might actually be one of the most recurring examples.
A Gardevoir actually serves as the damsel in the episode where Hunter J makes her first appearance.
In Pokémon AdventuresPlatinum initially seems to be the living embodiment of the trope, as she rarely goes ANYWHERE without getting herself into trouble. It was so obvious that Diamond was able to point out and lampshade this only after 4 chapters into the story; most anime and manga characters don't realise this sort of thing ever.
Generally played straight in Ranma ½ with Akane. Two plotlines in the 38-volume manga (and two of the movies) involve her Bound and Gagged and in need of rescue. A good number of the other girls fall prey to this throughout the series, and the entire female cast winds up like this in the second tie in movie. Ranma himself holds the Distress Ball (both in male and female forms) more than once and needs someone from his harem to rescue him.
Deconstructed in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Many shows have DID girls who go through Hell and back, but remain sweet and nice and without many psychological marks because many writers won't know what to do. Utena points out that in RL, people of both genders stuck in these roles will stop being "pure" and "sweet" and start acting more passive-aggressive and manipulative, if they're forced into situations where they can't seize direct power. This is very obvious in the cases of Shiori Takatsuki (looks sweet and gentle and demure, but is very malicious and has horrible self-esteem since her "best friend" Juri is a beautiful and strong Lady of War), Kozue Kaoru (repeatedly gets herself in trouble and flirts/sleeps with other guys to catch the attention of her twin older brother and "prince", Miki), and specially Anthy Himemiya (once performed a huge sacrifice, paid the price by both suffering immense physical pain and becoming a passive figure as the Rose Bride, ultimately became a mix of Broken Bird and puppet to her Manipulative Bastard brother Akio a.k.a. Dios aka End of the World) and Utena Tenjou (she's not one since the beginning, but her insecurities and naiveté more than once play quite a part into shoving her close to the "role") This is not to say that Being Tortured Makes You Evil, or that it's stupid to be remain nice after a tragedy. It's just pointing out a general trend: if weakness is imposed on people, it will bring consequences.
Naru Osaka of Sailor Moon needs to be saved from a Monster of the Week attack fairly regularly, to the point where it gets frequently lampshaded in Fan Fiction.
Saori Kido in Saint Seiya. Often her role in the story is be kidnapped or offers herself as a hostage to save her friends. Despite that she is the goddess Athena!
Cho Kanan, Lirin, and Yaone all hold their own separate moments in Saiyuki. Both Yaone and Lirin being saved successfully by Kougaiji. And Kanan becoming the traditional Disposable Woman.
Samurai Champloo: Given the number of times that Fuu ends up getting kidnapped, she made a good investment in saving the two male leads to be her bodyguards. Considering how most of the kidnappings were all just random encounters, you wonder why she wasn't more concerned with separating from them. This was lampshaded in an old "Anime Insider" magazine, which featured a match-up pitting Fuu against Excel and Hyatt in an eating contest. On her stats, Fuu's pet peeve is listed as "getting kidnapped."
Iwai from The Severing Crime Edge is doomed to this. She's small, weak, has little experience in the real world, and she's surrounded by serial killers with unbreakable super-weapons who can have any wish granted if they kill her. One could even argue that the organization that'd kept her for much of her life deliberately arranged her lifestyle to make her into a DID, since they love nothing more than gruesome crimes and moving stories like a hero rescuing a princess. That said, she does have some steel in her even if she can do little to fight back. One enemy who's obsessed with authority and power has Iwai nearly raped by several men, gets her beloved to attack her, then tries some mild torture when she finally reaches them. Despite everything, Iwai just stares at her enemy with defiant hate in her eyes, refusing to break under the torment.
Akiko in Shōnen Onmyōji gets her moment when a group of demons kidnap her in order to use her blood to heal their master, as well as lead Masahiro into a trap. Of course in the end either Masahiro or Akiko would have been enough to heal their master, but Masahiro has some pretty steller spiritual powers in terms of combat so is more of a threat.
She was pretty much asking for it really. She followed Masahiro out at night, despite the fact that Masahiro had specifically directed her to stay in her room so she could be protected by the spiritual barrier his grandfather had erected.
Nominally, Princess Syalis of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is this. Nominally, because a) Syalis, a Workaholic from all the administrative work she does as a princess, views this as an opportunity to catch up on her sleep, b) the demons fear her because of the lengths she'll go to to get said sleep, and c) it's made clear she could totally escape if she wants to, but she doesn't, again, because she'd rather be sleeping.
Subverted regularly in Sonic X, most notably with the episode Young Girls Jungle Trap where the female characters are captured multiple times — and get out of it entirely by themselves multiple times, too.
Played with in Spice and Wolf. Holo isn't a Damsel in Distress - in fact her counterpart Lawrence usually takes the part of the Distressed Dude - but she's Genre Savvy enough to be well aware of the trope. She jokes around with Lawrence about him liking meek women he could comfort, and enthusiastically play-acts the part for him in jest. She even fools Amati into being her Knight in Shining Armor, largely for kicks. When she's genuinely crushed by the revelation that Yoitsu has been destroyed, she bitterly accuses Lawrence of hiding it from her because he liked seeing her helpless and ignorant.
In the second arc of Sword Art Online, Asuna is still trapped in cyberspace in a different game under control of a domineering Game Master. While said Game Master has had months to wear her down and use his admin privileges to stop any plot she devises, the contrast between her hardcore persona in the first arc and the helpless damsel in the second was taken poorly by some fans.
In the Tenchi Muyo! manga series, it's not uncommon for big story arcs to have Ayeka and/or Sasami getting kidnapped and held hostage so Tenchi and the other girls go and save them. As the two girls are high-powered princesses (with Sasami bonded to a Goddess), it's not uncommon for the girls to be put into situations where they can't use their powers to easily break free. It also probably helps that Ayeka finds the idea of being rescued by Tenchi romantic, too.
Nia generally fits this role in the third and final arc of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The third was justified because she was Brainwashed and Crazy. Once she snaps out of this with the help of Simon however, she fits this trope to a T.
Parodied in The Devil King Is Bored when the titular Devil King kidnaps a kingdom's princess because he's, well, bored, and thinks that fighting some heroes would be fun. He even places a portal to hell in the middle of a populated town. With a sign above it that says "Portal to Hell."
Once again in the movie, rescuing her becomes a major plot point when she becomes trapped inside the body of the Big Bad.
Sasagawa also needs rescuing four times, but it is not nearly as glaring in her case, given that she appears much more frequently than Kasumi and usually avoids trouble. It's also done half the time as an excuse for Karigari to be heroic.
Akiko Aoshika from Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest. Haguro tries to invoke this trope with Ryuuko, but she points out that Inugami isn't interested in her.
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Anzu falls into this role more than once and is kidnapped, brainwashed, possessed, or has her life endangered by nearly all of the villains in the series. This even carries over to spin-offs, such as Yu-Gi-Oh! R, where she's kidnapped by Yako to be the vessel for Pegasus's resurrection, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories, where Seto kidnaps her pre-incarnation, Teana. However, in a bit of an out-of-character moment, she invokes the trope once to lure out Dark Yugi in one of the manga's early chapters, putting herself in danger with the Playing Card Bomber.
Yu Yu Hakusho Yukina is introduced as a such. She's imprisoned and tortured because her tears, which turn to stone, are valuable. The main characters do rescue her and she becomes a recurring character in the show and even is in one of the movies.