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Distressed Dudes in literature.


  • Poul Anderson:
    • In A Midsummer Tempest, Prince Rupert is captured in the opening scene.
    • In the Time Patrol series:
      • "Brave To Be A King": Finding where Denison is in time and extricating him.
      • "Delenda Est": they deduce the deaths of the Scipios in battle caused the Alternate History and go to rescue them.
  • Patricia A. McKillip:
    • In The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Tanis is trapped in the forest. Where a woman reveals that the ominous Hunter is her consort, trapped in a dire spell.
    • In The Riddle Master Trilogy, when Morgon disappears, both his sister (who is far too young) and Raederle, the second most beautiful woman in the three portions of An, set out on a quest to find and rescue him.
    • In The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Sybel has to rescue Coren from her own beasts more than once.
  • Andre Norton:
    • In Ice Crown, Nelis Imfry is arrested for crimes while the crown mind-controls the new queen.
    • In Catseye, Troy is captured by Zul and brought to the head of the spying ring to be persuaded to help.
    • In Storm Over Warlock, Shann has to break Thorvald out of the dream the Wyverns hold him in. Later, he is captured by the Throgs. When he defies them by warning off the incoming ship, albeit cryptically, they take him to be tortured to death.
    • In Ordeal in Otherwhere, the Wyverns attack Shann and imprison him in his own mind; Charis has to break him free. Later, he's captured by Company men, and retreats back there to escape questioning. Charis, posing as a Damsel in Distress, manages to pull him back.


  • A recurring trope in the Deryni books:
    • After the young Barrett de Laney surrenders himself in exchange for twenty-three Deryni children, he's rescued by another Deryni (one of the teachers at a forbidden Deryni scola) who dies of arrow wounds he sustained in the rescue. The short story "Bethane" gives one version of these events, and Barrett himself recounts the story to Jehana in King Kelson's Bride.
    • In In the King's Service, rebellious Mearans try to assassinate Prince Richard Haldane, the King Donal's younger half-brother. The plot is unsuccessful, but Earl Keryell is slain and his eldest son and heir, Lord Ahern de Corwyn, is seriously wounded in the attack. Three years later (but also in the same book), assassins strike at King Donal directly, and Sir Kenneth Morgan (future father of Duke Alaric Morgan) is wounded defending him.
    • Late in Childe Morgan, a young King Brion Haldane is the target of an assassination plot led by rogue Deryni Zachris Pomeroy (a friend and foster brother to the Festillic Pretender Hogan Furstán-Festil mac Tadhg a.k.a. "the Marluk"). Pomeroy and his minions are defeated and killed by the combined efforts of Sir Kenneth Morgan, Master Jamyl Arilan (a squire to Brion and elder brother of future bishop Denis Arilan), Lord Rhydon of Eastmarch (who is wounded in the face), and Sir Sé Trelawney.
    • Alaric Morgan is abducted by Warin de Grey's men and has to be rescued by Duncan McLain in Deryni Checkmate.
    • Derry is retrieved from Wencit during a tense parley in High Deryni (though Wencit seems to have permitted this knowing he had control of Derry's mind.
    • Dhugal is taken captive by allies of the Mearan Pretender (who happens to be his great aunt by marriage); he contrives his own escape and takes the Pretender's daughter Sidana hostage, and one her brothers is taken by Kelson's forces while he's riding to the rescue.
    • Nigel (and possibly young Liam as well) is the target of Torenthi assassins in The King's Justice. He gets warnings from a couple of sources (one of them Jehana), and is able to fight off the assassins with the help of Conall and the Haldane household archers.
    • Duncan is rescued from Loris' clutches by Kelson, Morgan, Dhugal and their army in The King's Justice.
    • Dhugal keeps Kelson alive after they both get caught in a landslide and are washed over a waterfall (Kelson has a head injury) in The Quest for Saint Camber. In the same mudslide, Conall is saved from going over the side by his maternal uncle Saer de Traherne.
    • Later in The Quest, Nigel is attacked by his son Conall and is left in a psychic lock (a magic-induced coma state) for a fortnight until Morgan, Duncam and Dhugsl learn what to look for and how to fix it.
    • Kelson and Liam are attacked by assassins disguised as servants en route to the Hort of Orsal's palace in King Kelson's Bride. First, Morgan's stepson Brendan Coris tackles one of the assassins, giving them some breathing space, then Morgan saves Liam from falling off a nearby precipice.
    • Later in King Kelson's Bride, Liam is attacked by Mahael and Braynyng during a vulnerable moment in his killijálay, whereupon Mátyás and Kelson attack them, giving Liam enough time to finish the ritual and assume the power of Furstán.
  • Discworld:
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward is imprisoned and tortured by the bad guys and has to be rescued by a friend.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden seems to end up manacled, bound, or otherwise restrained once a book at least. Other examples include Shiro (Death Masks), Thomas Raith (Blood Rites and Turn Coat), and John Marcone (Fool Moon and White Night).
  • Earthsea: In The Tombs of Atuan, Ged gets locked in the titular tombs by Tenar and very nearly dies before he convinces her to help him.
  • In Wen Spencer's Endless Blue, Paige finds Turk bound by spider web on the civ raft. He pleads with her to kill him if she can't free him; she has to leave him for a time in hopes of getting what she's after, plunging him in despair, but returns to rescue him.
  • In Regina Doman's Fairy Tale Novels, every male hero gets tied up and humiliated at least once.
  • In The Goblin Emperor, Maia is kidnapped by conspirators who want to force him to abdicate. Although he is a Non-Action Guy, he is able to stall for time until the guards kick down the door.
  • John C. Wright's The Golden Oecumene: In The Phoenix Exultant, Daphne Tercius goes into exile herself to bring Phaethon what he needs to escape exile. Later, when faced with a problem, he asks her what to do: she came to rescue him, and he needs rescue.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy:
    • Han is gravely endangered by a very angry female Barabel who accused him of cheating when he gets his blaster jammed in its holster, before Chewie saves him.
    • Han later gets injected with a mind control drug by Boba Fett to capture him, marching helplessly toward his ship until Lando intervenes. He stops Fett with the same drug and frees Han.
    • Lando is captured by Boba Fett when he's come to capture Bria. The ship they're on is then soon attacked by pirates, with their leader being Lando's ex-girlfriend. Thankfully, she's into Lando enough that Fett is paid the bounty price on Bria and he lets them go.
  • In almost every single adventure, at least one of The Hardy Boys (including their friends and father) would wind up captured, bound and gagged, and need rescuing. The original author, who reportedly hated writing "juvenile fiction", may have been putting this in on purpose, as a dig at his editors. Whatever works. Many, many bondage fans grew up reading those books.
  • Harry Potter
    • Sirius Black ultimately becomes this in the climax of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He was unjustly arrested by the Ministry of Magic and is set to undergo the capital punishment, called the Dementor's Kiss, which amounts to having his soul sucked out by the eponymous Eldritch Abominations. It is up to Harry and Hermione to save him from this fate.
    • Near the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry receives a vision that his godfather, Sirius is being held captive by Voldemort at the ministry. This time, the trope is subverted, as it was a vision fabricated by Voldemort to lure Harry to the ministry. Sirius wasn't there at all.
    • Harry and Ron (along with Hermione) become this themselves halfway through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when they are apprehended by Snatchers.
  • The Heroes of Olympus:
    • The Lost Hero: Percy Jackson has disappeared, and no one knows where he is. At the end of the book, Hera reveals she sent him to the Romans.
    • The Son of Neptune: At the end, it's revealed that Nico di Angelo has been captured. He's rescued in the next book.
    • The Mark of Athena: At the end, Percy and Annabeth fall into Tartarus.
  • Ian Fleming's Moonraker has James Bond and Gala Brand (not Holly Goodhead) tied up at a missile silo to be left and fried at (London-bound) takeoff. Bond gets villain Hugo Drax distracted by dredging up ugly memories of Drax's sorry past (and getting himself thrashed brutally), to where Drax leaves them with a running blowtorch available to undo their bonds.
  • In ''Ivanhoe," the title character, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, spends over half the novel recuperating in bed after being wounded in a tournament. Under the care of Rebecca of York, he steadily improves, but when the castle of Torquilstone is besieged, is still too weak to leave his bed, and must be literally carried to safety by The Black Knight/King Richard.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars:
    • In A Princess of Mars, John Carter is captive to Green Martians twice, once on his arrival, and once after he enabled Dejah Thoris's escape with You Shall Not Pass!.
    • In The Gods of Mars, John Carter and Tars Tarkas are trapped in a Mobile Maze with banths that could kill them; Thuvia saves them. Later, John Carter and his (male) companions must escape captivity among the black pirates. Later still, John Carter must rescue Tars Tarkas from the Warhoon.
    • In Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Carthoris and Kar Komak are captured first by green men and then by great apes.
    • In The Chessman of Mars, Turan is captured by the city of Matador. Tara tries to shield him by denying knowledge of him.
      "You did not guess," she asked, "that it was my lips alone and not my heart that denied you? O-Tar had ordered that I die, more because I was a companion of Ghek than because of any evidence against me, and so I knew that if I acknowledged you as one of us, you would be slain, too."
      "It was to save me, then?" he cried, his face suddenly lighting.
      "It was to save my brave panthan," she said in a low voice.
    • In The Master Mind of Mars, Ulysses Paxton rescues some men from Faux Death, and they all escape the Mad Scientist. Later, one of them is captured in the city where he had been betrayed and threatened with Human Sacrifice; Ulysses rescues him.
  • Journey to Chaos: Siron was one of the Black Cloak's captives in A Mage's Power, and to add insult to injury, it was while attempting to rescue Kasile. She escaped on her own; he didn't. Someone in the official rescue party needles him about it afterward.
  • Journey to the West: Sanzang, the only human of the group, often finds himself kidnapped by the newly introduced Big Bad of each chapter.
  • In the first Kingdom Keepers book, there's a subplot about Maybeck getting kidnapped and needing to be rescued.
  • Michael in the Knight and Rogue Series. Even though he's the stronger of the two main characters, he's also the one with almost no sense of self presvation or legal rights.
  • In A Legacy of Light: The Things We Can Change, after returning from battle badly wounded, Tutankhamun spends the majority of the book confined to bed.
  • Lilly and Fin: A Mermaid's Tale: When Lilly and Fin reach their usual hang-out cave outside Mermaid City, they find the Snorkels' private submarine waiting for them there. The sight of it shocks Fin still, allowing the Snorkels and Detective Harkenear to capture him, whereupon he's placed in a glass jar for the Snorkles to take home and add to their collection.
  • In Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King, Samwise Gamgee risks his life to save his best friend Frodo Baggins from the Tower of Cirith Ungol, where the latter has been imprisoned, stripped naked, interrogated, and whipped by Orcs seeking to procure the One Ring for Sauron.
  • In the climatic scene of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, first part of The Millennium Trilogy, the male protagonist Mikael Blomquist is captured by a mass murderer, locked in an underground torture room, chained, stripped naked, humiliated and explicitly threatened with rape, when his female partner, the Action Girl Lisbeth Salander, comes in to save him, chase and destroy the villain.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Lucian is a captive at the opening. Father Matthew has to give him a way to escape and rouse him from despondency to get him to take it.
  • Jace in The Mortal Instruments. A recurring plot in almost every book is Jace being held in some form of captivity. This despite the fact that he is one of the most skilled Shadowhunters of his generation. Most of it is that he is a bit of a Death Seeker, and a large amount of effort on the part of his family and friends goes into getting him out of whatever trouble he has gotten into. In City of Bones his best friend Alec had initially never slain a demon, primarily because his main focus was on keeping Jace alive instead.
  • In one of the less known fragments of Le Morte d'Arthur, Elaine of Astolat practically saves Lancelot's life by finding him and healing his injuries.
  • In Mr. Standfast, Hannay can generally take care of himself, but at one point he gets lured into the villain's clutches and placed in a Death Trap.
  • Mrs. Smith's Spy School For Girls: Power Play: Drexel Caine, Toby's dad, gets kidnapped near the beginning of the book by the book's Big Bad, Menace. He promises Drexel's safety in exchange for Toby playing a game of Monster Mayhem.
  • In Murderess, this happens to Hallwad after he takes on the Dark Ones torturing his sister.
  • Nancy Drew's boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, gets kidnapped a lot. Nancy and Ned took turns getting kidnapped and coming to the other one's rescue.
  • The Parasol Protectorate: In book 3, Blameless, this is used to get someone out of the way. Biffy, Lord Akeldama's favourite drone, is kidnapped on the potentate's orders and held in an underwater prison in the Thames so his master is preoccupied looking for him and can't help Alexia, who the vampires want dead because of the kind of being she's pregnant with. And during the rescue, Biffy is fatally shot, necessitating an Emergency Transformation into a werewolf.
  • Arguably, Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, both the novel and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The entire purpose of his character seems to be to get caught by the Phantom, who then offers the female lead a Scarpia Ultimatum for his life.
  • In George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin, Irene uses a magic thread given her by her great-great-grandmother to rescue Curdie when the goblins have him trapped in the mines.
  • L. Jagi Lamplighter's Rachel Griffin: In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, a vision of three male students valiantly facing off against the villain and dying inspires a Big Damn Heroes charge. They are, in fact, unaware of their distress until told. Gaius has a disconcerted moment before he collects himself enough to thank the rescuers.
  • Ratburger: Armitage, Zoe's rat, ends up in danger from the man who turns rats into burgers.
  • In The Red Vixen Adventures, Rolas starts out as the captive of the titular Space Pirate, spending most of first half of the story either in a cell on her ship, or led around with an electronic leash and a Shock Collar.
  • Ruggiero, a heroic knight in many medieval French Chivalric Romances, was once held prisoner by a wizard until rescued by his future wife, the knight Bradamante.
  • Septimus Heap: In Physik, Septimus is abducted 500 years into the past and forced to work as Marcellus Pye's apprentice.
  • Poor Harry Vincent is constantly a victim of this in The Shadow pulp novels. In the first story alone, he has to be rescued by the Shadow no less than three times.
  • In George Eliot's essay "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists", she complains of a work supposed to be instructive because "the hero is a Jewish captive".
  • Lúthien saves Beren in The Silmarillion and in Tolkien's other tellings of the story. Another example is the story of Elwing and her husband Eärendil. There's also Maedhros, who spent a few decades Chained to a Rock before being rescued by his friend Fingon.
  • Lee in the Smoke and Shadows trilogy by Tanya Huff. In this case, he's Tony's Mary Jane. Lee gets very tired of being the damsel by book 3. Also in the fourth book of the Blood Books, Henry, the vampire is captured and held prisoner by mad scientists and it is up to Vicky and Mike to rescue him. In the fifth book it is Mike who is captured and bound, but since he is rescued by two vampires, I do not know if that would count.
  • The Snow Queen: Kai gets kidnapped by the titular Snow Queen. It is up to his best friend Gerda to save him. While Gerda does hit several stops that slow her down, she ultimately succeeds and the two of them make it home safely
  • Spice and Wolf: Lawrence will often find himself in situations that he can't easily wriggle out of by himself. Holo helps him save his own his behind (or the business deal at hand) by shifting into her true form- a giant wolf- and kicking around any enemies.
  • Tarzan: William Cecil Clayton gets lost in the jungle and has to be saved by Tarzan from lions. He also gets shipwrecked and has to be saved by the other sailors from being cannibalized.
  • Wen Spencer's Tinker: The first book opens with Windwolf being chased by Foo dogs, who have separated him from his guards. Tinker is able to fight off his pursuers, but not before he's severely injured, and stuck in Pittsburgh on Shutdown Day, the one day of the month when the city is returned to Earth. Thus, for the rest of the day Tinker's focus is on keeping him alive until Startup.
  • In Transitions Tos'un Armgo, being a male from the violently misandrist drow society, is no stranger to being bound and manhandled. When Drizzt ties him to a tree to interrogate him, he doesn't even flinch when his arms are wrenched back, thinking on how he's already used to worse.
  • The Treachery of Beautiful Things: Tom was captured by the forest. When it swallows his sister, too, she decides to rescue him. Later, Jack needs her help, too.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Brothers of the Snake: A Space Marine killed another and claimed that the dead one had been touched with Chaos. There being no evidence of this, he asks to be exposed to the sea serpents of their world: if they ate him, he would be proven innocent. However, evidence turns up of his innocence, first, and a squad of Marines come to save him, killing one of the great serpents. Also, when a Marine vanishes on a town they are investigating for Chaos cults, they search for him, find him being sacrificed to the daemon, and rescue him.
    • Gaunt's Ghosts: In First & Only, the Ghosts' Revenge raid on the Jantine Patricians is partly to see if they can find Rawne alive. They do, and he is being tortured, so the raid quickly turns to a rescue. Similarly, at the end of Only In Death, Mkoll and Eszarah rescue Gaunt as soon as they find him alive.
  • Watersong: Daniel spends the final battle in the last book trapped in a bathroom by Penn, unable to help his friends. It's not until after she and Liv are defeated when he is freed.
  • In The Well of Moments, Jasmine has to rescue Seth Gable, who is now her boyfriend and was taken hostage for that reason.
  • Rand in The Wheel of Time got kidnapped and stuffed doubled into a box for a week. He got rescued by his friends and allies only after a big chase and probably the series' bloodiest and goriest battle ever. The captivity was one of the major catalysts of his descent into madness.
  • The demon in When Demons Walk distresses a Disabled Badass nobleman, who then has to be rescued by his mistress.
  • In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess, Liam is enchanted by a kelpie, which gets him on its back and goes to drown him. Only Annie's Anti-Magic saves him.
  • In the second last chapter of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water and has to be rescued by Pooh and Christopher Robin.
  • In The Witchlands, Merik spends most of the third book trapped by The Dragon who wants to turn him into her puppet.
  • Early in The Worm Ouroboros, Lord Goldry Bluszco of Demonland is spirited away by the magic of Evil Overlord Gorice XII as payback for killing Gorice's father/previous incarnation in a fair wrestling match, and the bulk of the plot focuses on Goldry's kinsmen trying to locate and rescue him.


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