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. This can overlap with Defiant to the End if not even the prospect of death can break her. If she is resilient to the point it causes more abuse for whoever tried to capture her, you may be inclined to Pity the Kidnapper. It has been said that the duty of any Prisoner of War is to force their captors to dedicate as many resources as possible to holding them rather than fighting their still free and fighting comrades.
Despite the female pronouns used in the description, this is a gender neutral trope.
- Happened in the 2003 version of Astro Boy in the episode "Reviving Jumbo"; Astro's teacher, Miss Miyoki, gets kidnapped by Skunk's goons when they plan to use the titular giant robot to break him out of prison, and even Bound and Gagged, gives them quite a hard time of it.
- Rukia's captivity began with her behaving aggressively towards Renji and smack-talking Ichigo when he came to rescue her. However, as her captivity draws on, she becomes more withdrawn and depressed and moves away from this trope completely, eventually resulting in her having a complete breakdown when Gin tricks her into believing he wants to rescue her.
- Orihime also initially dealt boldly with captivity. She was able to talk down her Hollowfied older brother, stand up for herself and Tatsuki to Numb Chandelier and biting the 11th Division 10th seat when he tries to carry her away to his squad's barracks. This culminates her trying to outlast her captivity with the Arrancars by passively-aggressively accepting Ulquiorra's threats. However, as her captivity draws on, physical and emotional abuse against her begins to escalate and the abuse her friends undergo trying to save her gets worse, eventually culminating with her complete breakdown when Ulquiorra's threat level forces Ichigo into a monstrous form to try and save her.
- Kallen from Code Geass resists Suzaku's attempts at forcing Zero's identity out of her when she's held captive, even when he threatens to inject her with Refrain.
- Tsurugi Kyousuke from Inazuma Eleven.
- In season 3 of GO, he is captured by enemy's planet and forced to marry their queen. He immediately refuses the offer right in front of the queen's face. Until he finds out the queen is not the Big Bad, and eventually agrees to help her saving her doomed planet.
- In the first series (game only event), he is also taken away by SEED members from Academy Kaiou to receive his punishment for his betrayal. He shows the exact defiant to his captors.
- Kagome Higurashi from Inuyasha would find herself in captivity rather often in the earlier arcs, having not been trained in martial arts before she got Trapped in Another World. Nonetheless, she still managed to help Inuyasha out a lot and even talked back at her captors frequently. Then she Took a Level in Badass.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Relena, oh Relena Peacecraft. Sure, she can't fight as well as other girls, but she can talk her way out wonderfully and pulls more than one Go Through Me to defend her friends, her Kingdom, or her beliefs. She does this again in The Movie where she steals the villain's communications in order to encourage the Muggles to stop Holding Out for a Hero and do something themselves.
- The Prince of Tennis: Little Miss Badass Miyuki Chitose is used as a hostage to force a recovering Tezuka into a hopeless tennis match with some arrogant Jerkasses. She decides to yell at her captors and challenge them to a match, despite suffering from the yips herself.
Miyuki: Let go of me, you gorilla!
- Kaoru Kamiya from Rurouni Kenshin. She talks back to Jin-e when he abducts her, later manages to undo her soon-to-be Cruel and Unusual Death by paralysis when it seems that Kenshin will fully unleash his Superpowered Evil Side and break his Thou Shall Not Kill vow solely to save her. Also, she does her best to handle herself when kidnapped by Enishi.
- Iwai from The Severing Crime Edge is captured by the student council president of her school's high-school division. They torture her, but all she does is glare at them with eyes that say "I will not break". Unfortunately this defiance doesn't last very long once they use her love against her.
- Asuna from Sword Art Online pretends to be cowed and helpless, just long enough to memorize her cell's passcode. The moment she has a chance, she breaks out and tries to find a control panel from which she can log out. Even when she's caught and nearly molested she manages to get and hide a card that grants admin status.
- Nia Teppelin of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann will tell you she's not going to die. To your face. While you're shoving a pistol into her forehead. Or about to snap her in half with your claws. Or about to dematerialize her. She may not be able to fight you, but she will tell you to fuck off (very politely), because Simon's on his way, and that's a wave of pain you don't want to happen.
- Wonder Woman:
- Volume 1: When Uvo has Steve and Diana trapped and helpless by their being stuck to a Magnetic Glazite wall he and his men walk up with guns drawn telling them to give up. As Diana had managed to keep her legs from touching the wall this approach is ill considered and she manages to kick one into the others and knock four of them down while saying an Amazon never gives up.
- In The Legend Of Wonder Woman little Suzy mouths off to Queen Atomia after the unrepentantly horrific woman kidnaps her, calling her a mean old lady.
- Black Crayons series:
- While captured by Laserbeak and Starscream, Annabelle Lennox takes advantage of Starscream's ego to convince him to get another Decepticon to watch her. When Starscream gets Barricade to watch Annabelle, the girl convinces Barricade to let her go so that he will not suffer Ironhide's wrath.
- Mikaela Banes is captured by Soundwave and Dylan Gould and spends her time either trying to figure out how to escape or thinking about killing Dylan.
- In Dark, Dark, Ocean Dark, Jasper tries to reason with Lapis and even tries to escape, though Lapis won't let her leave the house.
- In Hope for the Heartless, months after the events of The Black Cauldron, the resurrected Horned King's revenge on Taran is interrupted for a moment, but to ensure that the boy won't escape, the lich takes Princess Eilonwy as a hostage. During the short hostage situation, the lich can't remember anyone in his thousand years lasting existence protesting against him like the princess does.
- 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.
- 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 Vow, the pacifistic Lady Lianne makes brave efforts to undermine with words her captors, first a group of bandits and years later her former fiancé Lord Shen.
- In This Bites! Nami is kept prisoner by Shiki. She refuses to be cowed and constantly undermines and humiliates him with the whole world as her audience, courtesy of vidsnails.
- The female Marine Lieutenant kidnapped and kept captive by Eustass Kidd in the One Piece fanfic Captive only has snark and sarcasm for the infamously sadistic, cruel Worst Generation Pirate Captain that has her in his non existent mercy. Her spirit and gumption however impresses Kidd to the point he ends up falling in love with her.
- In a sidestory of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Yellow gets kidnapped by a Team Rocket cell in the Sevii Islands to use as bait for Red in order to steal his Pokémon. Rather than panicking or crying, she talks back to her captors assuring them they won't get away with kidnapping her, and even manages to break out with the help of a Rattata she befriended.
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- Father Christmas in The Nightmare Before Christmas remains pretty calm in the face of Oogie Boogie's taunts and threats.
- 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.
- The Soothsayer goat in Kung Fu Panda 2. While she never tries to escape, she still doesn't make her imprisonment easy for Lord Shen, lecturing him in an effort to make him change his evil ways and trying to eat his silk robes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Countess Dracula: For all that she is a Damsel in Distress, Ilona makes multiple attempts to escape from her captor. But, being a sheltered noblewoman, she is not very good at escaping and keeps getting caught.
- Die Hard:
- Die Hard: Holly can talk back to an unrepentant murdering Hans Gruber on behalf of her colleagues and negotiate, then after an exhaustively terrifying night, punch out the stupid reporter who made the whole situation worse.
- Live Free or Die Hard: 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 villain to fight her one on one without any restraints, he remarks that she and John are definitely related.
- An early scene in The Great Escape has Bartlett tell the German P.O.W. 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.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service:
- Despite being locked with no prospect of getting out in the foreseeable future, Princess Tilde has no problem with insulting Valentine and making it clear she'll never agree with his insane plot.
- In the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, despite having been kidnapped to serve as Poppy's pet/permanant entertainment, Elton John has literally no problem with giving her and her minions a piece of his mind.
Charlie: Crocodile Rock, please!
Elton John: Fuck you!
- The Phantom: Diana Palmer is 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.
- In Ruthless People, Sam's wife does this to her kidnappers at first, but then teams up with them to ruin her husband for he is wronging her too.
- 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.
- Star Wars,
- A New Hope: Princess Leia did what she could to keep the secret of the rebel base; standing up to Darth Vader and resisting a mind probe. Too bad Alderaan was blown up despite her efforts.
- When captured by Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi she doesn't initially resist, but as soon as Luke kicks off the escape she jumps into action and strangles Jabba with her chains.
- The Force Awakens: Rey ends up turning the tables on Kylo Ren when he tries to use the Force to interrogate her, as she winds up getting information from him instead.
- 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.
- Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Gleahan, when held at Johnson Manor.
- Early in Die Another Day, Bond is captured by the North Korean military and held in prison for several months, constantly tortured for information. He is finally traded for a North Korean operative, and M tells him that they received intel that someone was leaking information to the North Koreans. They assumed Bond broke under torture, which is why they traded him. Bond reveals he never broke, even though he didn't expect a rescue.
- 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.
- Dolores "Clockpunk" Garza. Sure, she spends much of her captive time sitting around or watching TV while being understandably unsettled by The Vitalizer, but she also strings her "Bull" lie along as long as possible and affords herself a means of retribution and escape at the end of it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Codex Alera: Isana, having been kidnapped by the Vord Queen and Invidia, proceeds to play them off against each other, nearly getting Invidia killed, without so much as a single lie.
- While kidnapped, Staś from In Desert And Wilderness seems to spend every other minute making escape plans. The rest of his time is devoted to caring for his companion.
- Nightfall (Series): Myra is one at first, disrespecting her vampire captives and refusing to give them what they want. When this leads to more trouble, she pretends to be cowed and learns more subtle ways to manipulate her captors. Once her position in court is firmer, she becomes defiant once again.
- The Pillars of the Earth: Aliena. There's plenty of distress for this damsel, especially at the hands of the likes of William Hamleigh, but she fights back. She builds her own successful business from nothing.
- The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok: Captured by the Northumbrians, Ragnar refuses to tell Aella who he is, or indeed speak to him at all. Even when Aella has him thrown into a snake pit to make him talk, Ragnar continues to ignore him.
- 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.
- In Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, this is the usual way of the Damsel in Distress or Distressed Dude. (Hey, it may be a Traditional role, but they don't have to like it.)
- In The Ramayana, throughout all the year she's imprisoned at Ravana's palace, Sita refuses to show the slightest hint of fear towards Ravana (which is quite impressive, given that he's a multi-headed demon who constantly yells at and threatens her), takes every opportunity she can to tell him that what he's doing is wrong and he will get punished for it, and eats only the bare minimum of all the fancy food he offers her necessary to stay alive. Rama later comments that Sita's integrity broke Ravana's spirit just as much as the actual war fought to rescue her: he'd finally found someone he couldn't tempt or intimidate.
- In military thriller Victoria, Mrs. Lodge, an elderly Boston Brahmin lady, is one of the victims of General al-Shabazz's radical Islamic army. When she is made to choose between conversion or death, she emphatically rules out the former option—calmly and politely, of course, as a lady ought to, but with finality all the same.
- In The Sorcerer's Daughter, Odette gets kidnapped twice, and both times she isnt afraid to show the kidnapper her spirit is far from broken in different ways, ranging from Snark-to-Snark Combat to physical attack. It says a lot about her, considering that each kidnapper (at least at the moment when she is held captive) is a powerful sorcerer.
- In the epilogue for Julius Zebra: Bundle with the Britons!, Julius's mother is chained to a training pole back in Rome after she refuses to train to become a gladiator. She demands to Victorious that she be freed or she will kick him.
- In Anne with an E, Ka'Kwet is sent to a residential school. While she did ostensibly consent to go, she didn't know what it would be like and becomes a captive when she is not allowed to leave. The nuns cut her hair, change her name, and attempt to forcibly convert her to Christianity. Ka'Kwet staunchly refuses to give up her Mi'kmaq identity. The nuns then attempt to control her with physical abuse.
- 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.
- Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Cyrus is 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).
- Supergirl (2015): It's revealed in Season 3 that J'onn's father is still alive, having been kept in a prison camp for two centuries, with the White Martians using all manner of means to try to break him in order to reveal the location of the Staff of K'rel. Ironically, it's J'onn bringing his father to their old home that ends up breaking him, by reminding him of what he lost.
- The Orville: In the Season 1 episode "If the Stars Should Appear", despite being captured and tortured, Commander Grayson never runs short on snark.
Hamelac: Where are your friends?
Kelly: Well, last time I saw them, one of them was banging your mom and the other was high-fiving him.
(One of Hamelac's goons punches Kelly hard in the face. Again.)
Hamelac: Where. Are. Your. Friends?
Kelly: Okay. I'll tell you. There's a little coffee shop, on Lafayette Street in Soho, called Central Perk. My Friends are there. Just, please... don't hurt the monkey.
- 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 Assassin's 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.
- The titular Player Character of Guenevere can choose to spin her captivity in Book II this way. Whether or not she does, her fellow captive Morgana certainly makes a pain of herself to their captors. And at least one of them will have escaped by the midpoint of Book II.
- In Robopon, when kidnapped by her own father, Lisa instructs Cody to find bombs and blow up his tower.
- 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!
- The ClueFinders:
- The entry "Reading Adventure" features Non-Action Guy Santiago and Badass Bookworm Leslie as this trope when captured by said game's villain. Interestingly, Santiago, the one who has never shown any combat abilities, is the more vocal of the pair.
- In the earlier "5th Grade Adventures", team leader Joni does this briefly when she and Santiago get captured by the aliens behind everything, demanding that their unseen captors release them.
- The main character in Ikemen Sengoku is this whenever she gets kidnapped, actively resisting her captors' attempts to break her spirit and trying to find ways to escape on her own before her love interest shows up to rescue her. Sometimes she even helps her more fight-capable love interest defeat the enemy who's holding her hostage, like breaking free from Kennyo's grip on her own and running back to the Oda forces to warn them about his ambush in Nobunaga's route or using her self-defense lessons to incapacitate the Big Bad at the most opportune moment in Mitsuhide's Romantic route.
- 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.
- In El Goonish Shive, Elliot gets captured by Damien. While tied up he engages in Passive-Aggressive Kombat by snarking about Damien's fire-based power, makes pop culture references and lies when questioned, and continually tries to escape.
- A couple in Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Katara when Zuko captures her in The Waterbending Scroll. He attempts to locate Aang by interrogating her, but she simply tells him to go jump in the river.
- During Aangs imprisonment in Zhaos fortress, he blows a gust of wind at Zhao after the man gleefully told Aang that he will be kept alive only to spare the Fire Nation another arduous search for the Avatar.
- When Toph is captured by Xin Fu (the first time), she demands that he let her out so that she can wipe that smug smile off his face.
- 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 HeelFace Turn. In another, she overpowered her guards, tried to escape, and called out her captor for being crazy.
- Roll from the Mega Man cartoon gets captured a couple times, but usually manages to make trouble for her captorsand she's an Action Girl in combat.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has an interesting example in the episode "A Dog and Pony Show". The Diamond Dogs 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.
- Star Wars Rebels:
- After getting captured in "Call to Action", Kanan spends a good chunk of his screentime in "Rebel Resolve" snarking at Tarkin and the Grand Inquisitor while they're interrogating him. After several rounds of Electric Torture, however, he still hasn't broken, but he's stopped talking. In "Fire Across the Galaxy", he still refuses to give any information, even though he didn't know anything to begin with.
- "Hera's Heroes": Hera, upon realizing that Thrawn has seen through her disguise, defiantly tells him that the Empire will be defeated someday.
- "The Last Battle": Kanan, Ezra and Rex are forced to participate in a war game the droid general Kalani, leader of a holdout of Separatist droids, has planned. Zeb is held hostage because his species didn't participate in the Clone Wars, and spends this time snarking at Kalani and making an Implied Death Threat.
- "Zero Hour": After his cover gets blown, Kallus ends up getting held prisoner on the bridge of the Chimaera and Forced to Watch as Thrawn carries out his attack on the rebels. He spends this time relentlessly snarking at Thrawn and Pryce about the situation.
- Richie Foley of Static Shock in "Sons of the Fathers". It's not his only stint with this trope but it's one of the more successful ones.
- In the The Legend of Zelda cartoon, a few episodes have Zelda get captured by Ganon and tied to a stalagmite. This doesn't stop her from mouthing off to Ganon, not to mention kicking or even biting if he gets too close.
- Zelda: Link will rescue me. He always does, it's his job.