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Deliberately Distressed Damsel

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That Alice! She seems Too Dumb to Live. She picks up the Distress Ball and, like a true Damsel Scrappy, scores on her own team with it. And worse, she seems like she's enjoying it.

While this character may look like a Damsel Scrappy at first glance, she's actually Obfuscating Stupidity. Whether she's pulling a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, or just into this sort of thing, she doesn't get captured because she's weak, she gets captured because she wants to. She may even have the skills to get out of the scrape she's in herself if necessary. If this is the case, expect her to say Let's Get Dangerous! at some point.

If she's getting captured because she's into it, she may be a case of Best Her to Bed Her. Expect her not to have much regard for Safe, Sane, and Consensual. If her getting captured is part of her Evil Plan, she's really a Decoy Damsel. If she is a protagonist, she may be letting herself get captured as part of The Infiltration. Alternately, if she's Bruce Wayne Held Hostage, she may pretend to be a Hysterical Woman in order to convince the villains to let her go before she comes back in her more heroic guise.

Compare I Surrender, Suckers, Too Kinky to Torture, Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • BURN THE WITCH!: Lila convinces herself that the only reason Hawkmoth is permitting Witch Hunter to go on such a rampage is because he's setting up a trap for Ladybug of this nature. After all, surely, she's far too valuable to him as a partner-in-crime for him to just... let her be burned at the stake for real, right?!
  • I'm In Love With Another Boy: After Chat Noir learns that Ladybug is crushing on his civilian identity, he starts intentionally endangering himself as Adrien so that she's forced to repeatedly rescue him. He doesn't consider how this is impacting his performance as a superhero until Ladybug finally calls him out on all the battles he's shown up late to or skipped outright.
  • Princess Celestia Gets Mugged. It's in the name! Instead of revealing her identity and curbstomping the attackers, she decides to play along and see what happens.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Alien Avengers, George Went's character's wife does this. The pair make it seem like the wife is unconscious, and ask an implied gang member if he will help. He said that since it is George's wife after he's done with her, he can have a turn. She gets up from her feigned incapacitation and the two kill the guy. She fit this trope in that moment because she is really a homicidal alien with a strong sense of justice instead of a weakling.
  • The Avengers reveals that this is a favorite tactic of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, because between her captors' boasts and whatever they think is important enough to question her about, she learns a lot. Her introductory scene opens with her tied to a chair and surrounded by thugs, who are ready to torture her at behest of a rogue Russian general...then a call from her fellow Agent Coulson confirms this is just another day of work for her and she breaks out and beats them all up the minute he needs her on a different mission.
  • The short film that D.E.B.S. was based on had a team member who keeps getting kidnapped by the Big Bad to cover for their Dating Catwoman relationship.
  • Played with in Monkey Business, when Mary Helton drops a handkerchief in front of Zeppo, who pockets it and then drops one for her to pick up.

  • In Everworld, Senna knew that someone like Loki was going to come for her eventually, so she purposefully manipulated people she knew to get sucked into Everworld with her. Particularly early on she tried to play the innocent Living MacGuffin, but April, Jalil and Christopher could see through her. David had a harder time of it, though, for various reasons.
  • In The Light Fantastic, Cohen the Barbarian, Rincewind, and Twoflower interrupt a druidic sacrifice, in the process rescuing the maiden who was about to be sacrificed. Said maiden is extremely indignant about the rescue, protesting that if it weren't for them rescuing her she would be "having tea with the Moon Goddess by now" and that they'd just caused "eight years of staying in on Sunday nights" to go "down the drain".
  • In Murder on the Leviathan, Renata Kleber gets into trouble on purpose in hopes of starting a Rescue Romance with the handsome protagonist, who seems to uphold chivalric values.
  • Spice and Wolf: Holo gets kidnapped, and though she is a goddess and could easily escape, she doesn't because she wanted to see her love interest, Kraft Lawrence, bust in like a badass, beat up the kidnappers, and sweep her off her feet. She gets upset when Lawrence, whom she forgot doesn't have any fighting skills, does the sensible thing by hiring expert mercenaries to rescue her.
  • In The Twilight Saga, Bella thinks that she can psychically connect with her ex-boyfriend Edward if she gets an adrenaline rush, and purposefully puts herself in near-death situations to bring them on.
  • Urban Dragon: Arkay's main source of income involves pretending to be a ditsy ingenue for would-be sexual predators, beating them within an inch of their lives, and robbing them blind.
  • The Wheel of Time: Aes Sedai Magical Society members take a magically binding Oath never to harm humans with their powers except in defense of their own lives — such as when they deliberately wade into the battlefield until they feel threatened enough for the Oath to let them start slinging fireballs.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Flash: In "The Flash Reborn", Iris deliberately offers herself as a hostage to the "Samuroid", hoping that her being in danger will snap the mentally-unstable Barry out of it. It works. And how!
  • Neal Caffrey pulls a male version in the Pilot Episode of White Collar: Long story short, Neal has been let out of prison in order to help the FBI catch an art forger known as The Dutchman. If he fails, he goes back to prison to finish out his sentence. He and Agent Burke have ID'ed The Dutchman and found his base of operations, but they don't have probable cause to carry out a search. Neal gets around this by getting himself captured by The Dutchman's Mooks, knowing that this will take him outside of the two-mile radius afforded by his tracking anklet, setting it off and giving the FBI an excuse to raid the base.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions: Princess is a supervillain (given a very loose definition of 'villain') who subconsciously does this to herself. She is romance junkie who has fixated on superheroes as the modern version of a Knight in Shining Armor. Her uncontrolled powers keep placing her in bizarre and dangerous situations which force superheroes to come and rescue her.

    Video Games 
  • Princess Garnet in Final Fantasy IX tries to invoke this trope by begging Tantalus member Zidane to kidnap her in order to escape the country. Unbeknownst to her, Tantalus was there to kidnap her anyway.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Played with in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Though Zelda herself certainly doesn't choose to be kidnapped, it's later revealed that her plight was part of a plan set in motion by her previous incarnation. In her past life as the goddess Hylia, she predicted that putting her human self in danger would be a surefire way to spur Link into action.
    • Played straight in Breath of the Wild. Zelda may have been trapped inside Hyrule Castle for the past 100 years, but that's because she's been busy keeping Calamity Ganon sealed up with her.
  • In The PK Girl, Cassie is kidnapped by thugs in the beginning. She admits after you rescue her that she could easily have escaped and taken care of her attackers herself, but she didn't because being rescued was more fun.
  • A mission in Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon involves a request from a Grovyle to rescue a Shiny Celebi. When you finally find that Celebi, she states she pretended to be in trouble in the dungeon so that she can cause Rescue Romance with Grovyle... whose sole response is that she's strong enough to have no trouble in that dungeon.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, Governor Elaine Marley is kidnapped by her rejected suitor LeChuck. Guybrush manages to track LeChuck's ship to Monkey Island, and nearly manages to free Elaine when the ship sails back to Melee Island where LeChuck hopes to force her to marry him. Guybrush manages to crash the wedding at the last second... only to discover that the bride isn't Elaine, but a pair of monkeys. It turns out Elaine freed herself and hatched a plan to destroy LeChuck. It is unclear exactly at what point she hatched her plan - possibly even before being kidnapped.
  • Alicia Pris pulls this off in Solatorobo: Red the Hunter. hiring the Sky Pirates to kidnap her, all in the hopes that the good cop Waffle will come rescue her. Unfortunately for her, Red gets there before her intended man and Hilarity Ensues.
  • A common interpretation for Super Mario Bros.'s Princess Peach is that she lets herself get kidnapped out of boredom, or to give the brothers something to do. As shown in various games in the franchise ( Super Mario Bros.2, Super Mario RPG, Super Princess Peach, Super Paper Mario, Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Run, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope and Super Smash Bros) she is a very powerful and dangerous Action Girl when she wants to be so this most likely is the case.
  • One common fan theory about the ending of Half-Life: Alyx is that the G-man deliberately allowed himself to be captured by the Combine, because he already knew that Alyx would inadvertently free him.

    Visual Novels 


    Web Original 
  • In episode 17 of RWBY Chibi, Nora repeatedly tries to stage herself being attacked by a Grimm creature in hopes that Ren will save her. It doesn't work: the first two times she's saved by Sun and Yang instead, while the third time has Ren see she has it under control and leave.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Suguha Kirigaya is a Jerk Jock and Little Sister Bully who enjoys thrashing and insulting her brother during kendo practice, but when she logs into Alfheim Online it's to roleplay as "Princess Leafa," someone victimized by other players in an I Have You Now, My Pretty scenario. She's bad at it, since she can't help but brandish her sword even while trying to plead for her life, but Leafa aspires to be a helpless damsel, hence why she allows Kirito to "rescue" her. Given that Yui's psychoanalysis of Leafa/Suguha pegs her as a Tomboy with a Girly Streak who views her own femininity as a weakness, it's likely that Suguha's roleplaying as Princess Leafa is a way to safely explore that aspect of her personality, as a sort of inverted Power Fantasy.

    Western Animation 
  • The gender-flipped version is discussed in the Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "Beast of the Temple". Upon seeing Wheeler for the first time after he lured the dragon away from her, Linka throws herself into his arms in relief. Wheeler tells her that if he'd known getting captured would produce this reaction, he'd have gotten himself caught more often.
  • In Good Wilt Hunting, the first movie made for Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Nina, who created Eduardo as a little girl, is able to use Eduardo's Papa Wolf Mentality towards her to her advantage by playing Deliberately Distressed Damsel when interrogating some stowaways on the bus, despite being a cop herself and him being the most cowardly member of the group trying to find Wilt.
  • In Muppet Babies (1984), Piggy would always cast herself as the classic fairy tale princess or damsel-in-distress, helplessly trapped by the villain, in the games the babies imagined so that her hero "Kermy" could rescue her... and then things would go south, so she'd have to step up, say, "Gimme that stupid sword!", and beat the bad guys herself, acting very annoyed the whole time ("Can you believe this?").
  • Spoofed in Pucca, when Pucca's best friend Ching (a Cute Bruiser) tries to stage several dangerous situations to attract the attention of her crush Abyo - and not even a single one works. And then it's subverted: when Abyo ends up in trouble and Ching saves him, he's revealed to be an Amazon Chaser.
  • Gender-Inverted in the ThunderCats (2011) episode "The Duelist and the Drifter." Adventure Town resident and habitual Distressed Dude the Drifter gets snagged on high fences three times, each time enlisting protagonist Lion-O's help to get down. This would be innocuous but for the fact that the Drifter possesses Not Quite Flight, and readily exploits these encounters to offer Adventure Rebuffs and unsolicited, passive-aggressive advice on Lion-O's own increasing problems while elaborately feigning disinterest.


Video Example(s):


Black Widow vs. Interrogators

Once Black Widow finds out her friend is in trouble, she quickly dispenses with those interrogating her.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / CurbStompBattle

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