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Defiant Captive

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Image by Coelasquid. Used with permission.

"Colonel Von Luger, it is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability."
Group Captain Ramsey, The Great Escape

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 mind games 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.

Contrast Damsel in Distress, who generally is too frightened, inexperienced, or helpless to put up a fight; compare Damsel out of Distress, who rescues herself.

Despite the female pronouns used in the description, this is a gender-neutral trope.


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    Comic Books 
  • Secret Origin: During "The Secret Origin of Green Lantern", a bunch of gangsters have kidnapped a little kid, and Alan Scott goes to rescue her. However, even before he gets there she's already making their lives miserable by being utterly un-intimidated by them.
  • Superman: In The Killers of Krypton, Harry Hokum captures Supergirl and demands to know what business brought her from Earth to his neck of the galaxy. Supergirl's only response is to spit in his eye.
  • 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 when Pan shows up and she gives a drowned-out shout for help.
  • Angel in Rock and 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.
  • Lois Lane in many of the "Superman Theatrical Cartoons", but especially in the short "Jungle Drums". After having been captured by Nazi agents in Africa and taken to an interrogation room where she's tied to a chair and made to reveal vital secrets, she remains unfazed. They threaten to use fire on her and she simply tells them to "go ahead". They then tie her to a stake and intend to burn her alive unless she spills secrets, but she simply tells them off again all while being bound to the stake. Luckily, Superman shows up to save the day before the situation escalates further.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Gleahan, when held at Johnson Manor.
  • An early scene in The Great Escape has Bartlett tell the German POW 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.
  • It (2017): When Beverly wakes up in Pennywise's lair, the first thing she does is try to locate an exit. When that fails, and It catches her, she defiantly tells It that she isn't afraid. Realizing that Beverly isn't bluffing, It is left with no other option than to blast her with the Deadlights so she'll at least stay docile.
  • 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/permanent 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 torture and a mind probe. Too bad Alderaan was blown up despite her efforts.
      • In the Legends novel Death Star a medic is dispatched to treat her after she's tortured. There her defiance is modulated to more on the level of an Annoying Patient, weakened but sarcastic - and when the medic proves sympathetic to her, she starts facilitating his defection. Not that he's able to help her out much, but he does desert the Death Star before it's blown up and join the Rebellion.
    • 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.
      • This trope is also in full force in any of Barbara Hambly's Legends novels. Two things you can absolutely be sure of: 1. Leia will be kidnapped by the Villains of the Book, and 2. She will make their lives pure hell before skewering them with a lightsaber near the climax.
    • 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.

  • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Despite being fourteen years old, Oscar understands the importance of keeping silent when in enemy hands. When captured and interrogated by Salem, he angers her by responding to her surprise at his youth with sarcasm. When she asks him for the lamp's password, he lies and refuses to cooperate even after she tortures him with magic. She leaves him with Hazel, who vents his hatred of Oscar's predecessor, Ozpin, through physical beatings. Although bloodied, bruised, and holding his ribs in pain, Oscar not only refuses to cave but even starts undermining Salem by turning her subordinates against her. With Hazel and Emerald's help, he is able to escape by injuring her so decisively that it takes her hours to regenerate, allowing the heroes to evacuate an entire kingdom's worth of people to safety before she can return.

  • 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.
  • 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 Vampire Girl, Levana is apprehended by vampire goons Saul and Paul and brought before the Vampiress, but even so, she outright refuses to answer any of the Vampiress' questions regarding why and how she was transformed into a mortal, or who helped her achieve her transformation. She even SNUBS the Vampiress throughout the interrogation, of which the Vampiress notes as being a display of callous disrespect for Levana's supreme overlord.


Video Example(s):


Valkorion's Offer

Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I: "The Hunt". Having slain Darth Marr, Emperor Valkorion, a.k.a. Darth Vitiate the Sith Emperor, praises the efforts of the captured Darth Imperius and offers her a position at his side. She refuses, and Valkorion directs his son Prince Arcann to execute her. (Video by StarSword.)

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