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Girl in the Tower

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Using stairs to get to her is optional.

Shrek: Go over there and see if you can find any stairs.
Donkey: Stairs? I thought we were lookin' for the Princess.
Shrek: The Princess will be at the top of the stairs in the highest room in the tallest tower.
Donkey: Well, what makes you think she'll be there?
Shrek: I read it in a book once.

The standard place to imprison damsels in distress and overthrown princes: A tower. Preferably on top of the tallest tower, in the biggest castle, on the highest hill, in the most dangerous land in the whole wide world. After all, It's All Upstairs From Here. It's generally up to the Knight in Shining Armor to free the damsel in distress from it.

May be attached to an Evil Tower of Ominousness or The Alcatraz, although some are freestanding. A Bedsheet Ladder is an invaluable tool in such cases. Possibly inspired by the Tower of London; originally a royal residence, the Tower later became a prison that was often used to house royal prisoners.

See also Locked Away in a Monastery (used for broadly similar purposes, but without the implication of evil) and Madwoman in the Attic (a darker version where someone considered incapable of venturing out into normal society is kept hidden and confined).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • A male example: Len from the manga adaptation of mothy's "Aku no Meshitsukai" is locked in a tower from birth when it's revealed that he possesses the birthmark that the fortune teller prophesied would lead the country into ruin. His twin sister Rin eventually finds him there and starts visiting him.
  • Diva from Blood+ was kept isolated from the world whereas her sister could get out.
  • Clarisse in The Castle of Cagliostro. Clarisse is locked away in the North Tower by the Count, so she could not escape again. Cue Lupin and his Wall Crawl skills. Little does he know that he is being Lured into a Trap by the Count.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Three Visionary Swordsmen has the Rebellious Princess Shizukaria (an Alternate Self of Shizuka) being locked in the parappets of the king's castle. She escapes via Bedsheet Ladder.
  • In one of the first arcs of Fairy Tail, Lucy is knocked out and kidnapped by a rival guild. She's placed in one of these overlooking said rival guild's headquarters. It holds her for all of five minutes once she wakes up.
  • Grimms Fairytale Classics
    • The series' version of "Princess Briar Rose / Sleeping Beauty'' has the titular Briar Rose locked away in a luxurious tower of her palace to protect her from the curse.
    • Like in the Disney version, "Cinderella" gets locked in her tower room by her Wicked Stepmother and her mean stepsisters. Her animal friends bail her out and build a net that they use to fly her to the Royal Palace, so she can put on her slipper and tell the Prince that she's the girl he loves.
  • Princess Shirahoshi from One Piece is a variation: Her Stalker with a Crush, Vander Decken IX, can literally kill her from miles away because of his Devil Fruit powers. This means that she had to stay confined in her room, which is located atop a tower, for ten years. Since she's only sixteen, that means she literally spent most of her life in that tower.
  • PandoraHearts:
    • Alice. In the past, she was trapped in a lonely prison of a tower by Glen Baskerville. Jack became her First Friend after he discovered her. She was trapped there because of the anomaly of being a child born in the Abyss and the twin sister of the Will of the Abyss, who frequently possessed her body to experience the real world.
    • Before Alice, her mother Lacie was also locked away in the same tower because she was a Child of Misfortune and the Baskerville Clan had to keep her isolated until the day her brother Oswald executed her by throwing her into the Abyss. Though, she wasn't as easily contained as other examples, constantly slipping out whenever she got the chance.
  • Fai/Yuui and his twin brother were trapped for long time in a tower in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Ruri and Rin are imprisoned in the Western Tower and Easter Tower, respectively, each guarded by a Guardian. Freeing them doesn't actually do much good, since the girls are Brainwashed and Crazy via parasites that have nested in their brains. Because of that, each girl pushes her rescuer from the tower.
  • A version of it in YuYu Hakusho where Yukina is trapped in a stronghold mansion. Within that mansion she's in a tower and does need to be rescued by the main characters. She herself becomes a recurring character herself after that.

  • The Lady of Shalott (Holman Hunt) depicts Elaine of Astalot, a noblewoman cursed to stay in a tower weaving all night and day, and never look at the outside world except through a mirror. The painting shows the moment when she does, and is cursed to die, with The Lady of Shalott (Waterhouse) depicting her after having left the tower.

    Comic Books 
  • This Spanish comic based on The Fairly Oddparents has Tootie in this role.
  • Conan the Barbarian:
    • Exploited in a story: The princess in question is just a preserved corpse automated to wave once in a while, to lure potential challengers (who have to give up a deposit and sign an indemnity form first).
    • Another Savage Sword of Conan story had Conan rescue a young princess locked away in a tower in the middle of a lost land by her father. Said princess was actually a powerful demon who, upon being freed, destroyed her father's kingdom.
  • Lucifer: Jill Presto becomes a prisoner in the tower of the Basanos.
  • Princeless starts off with this, then the princess gets tired of waiting for a rescue and so frees herself.
  • In Wonder Woman Vol 1 #14 the princess of "Shamrock Land" gets trapped in a tower that's set to blow up by the evil Gentleman Killer and Diana has to rescue her.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In the American As Meat Loves Salt, instead of turning his daughter out when she says she loves him like salt, he imprisons her in a tower.
  • In The Blue Bird, Florine is imprisoned in a tower by her stepmother so she cannot see her beloved King Charming, who has been turned into a bird.
  • The Discreet Princess starts with a king who goes on a Crusade and leaves his three daughters locked in a tower. Turns out he was Properly Paranoid.
  • In The Grateful Beasts, the princess gets locked in the tower for complaining about her father's Impossible Tasks. This means she isn't there when the hero performs the third task— summoning all the wolves in the kingdom. Who turn out to be hungry.
  • In Andrew Lang's "An Impossible Enchantment" (link), Graziella is imprisoned in a tower in the middle of the sea.
  • Maid Maleen: The titular character is trapped in a tower by her cruel father after she rejects an Arranged Marriage. Unlike many examples, she escapes and must learn to navigate the world seven years later and find her way back to her true love.
  • Rapunzel: A sorceress steals a baby girl from her parents, names her Rapunzel and locks her up in a tower in the middle of the woods.
  • "Reygoch": Subverted. Fairy princess Curlylocks ends up living in a high tower after becoming trapped in the human world, but she does not mind her situation.
  • In an earlier version of Sleeping Beauty, this applies to the Wicked Fairy. The reason why the king and queen fail to invite her to their daughter's christening is because she's been in the tower for years and no one has seen or heard from her, so it's widely assumed she's dead. Of course, it turns out she's very much alive, and she's so offended by this oversight that she enchants the princess to die or sleep for a hundred years.
  • "The Tinderbox" is another fairy tale with a damsel in distress who must be rescued by the handsome hero.
  • In The White Cat, the princess grows up as one of these, attended on by fairy guardians, but when she rejects an Arranged Marriage to a fairy king and rebels, they return her to her own kingdom...changing her and everyone else in the realm into cats.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the 2021 French comedy Kaamelott: Premier Volet, tyrant Lancelot has Guinevere locked in a tower. A suitor really wants to free her to accomplish his Knight in Shining Armor quest and Arthur Pendragon helps him by neutralizing the guards and crashing through the door... but the guy has a Complexity Addiction and insists on escalating up the tower instead of taking the stairs. Arthur lets him proceed... and he doesn't go very far and ends up falling, landing with a thud.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. Our heroes come across a naked woman imprisoned in the ruins of a high tension tower, screaming for help. However Max instantly recognizes it as Schmuck Bait for the gang lurking in ambush.
  • Mirror Mirror (2012): Played with when, after her father's death, Snow White didn't leave the castle for several years due to the Queen convincing her that she wasn't capable of venturing outside.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Lancelot goes to rescue a damsel in distress from the Tall Tower. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Princess: The princess is introduced when locked in a tower, which she quickly escapes.

  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Beren and Lúthien, the titular heroine Lúthien is put in a treehouse high enough to be considered a tower. She then uses a spell to make her hair grow, cuts it off, weaves the strands into a very long and sturdy rope, climbs down the immense beech-tree Hirilorn (its name meaning "Queen of Trees"), escapes and goes to help her beloved, Beren, finish his Engagement Challenge.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain: The abducted Princess Eilonwy is found in a tower of her ancestral home, Caer Colur, in the third book.
  • Clocks that Don't Tick has Martha. While it occurred before the main events of the novel, she once spent quite a long time alone maintaining the Space Needle.
  • Conan the Barbarian:
    • In "The Hour of the Dragon," the Countess Albiona (a supporter of King Conan) is imprisoned in the Iron Tower of Tarantia because she refused to become the consort of a tyrannical puppet king. Conan infiltrates the tower through a hidden door, kills her jailers, and rescues her.
    • Also, in The People of the Black Circle the Devi Yasmina is captured and imprisoned in a tower atop Mount Yimsha. This time, Conan infiltrates the tower with the help of an enchanted girdle that protects him from the magic of the evil wizards within.
  • The Dream of Perpetual Motion. Mad Scientist Prospero Taligent lives in a tower with his daughter Miranda, designed to be a Gilded Cage she'll never want to leave. He doesn't react well to her running away and taking a lover.
  • The Elenium: Done to Bellina because she is a cannibalistic Eldritch Abomination worshipper who needs to be locked away for the good of the surrounding villages.
  • Stephen King's novel The Eyes of The Dragon: The overthrown King Peter's imprisonment in the tower called "The Needle".
  • In Fairest of All, Siofra is locked in a tower above the clouds by her King, who takes her in as The Runaway and keeps her as essentially his concubine until Brogan persuades her to flee to another realm.
  • Spoofed in Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks. The handsome prince turns up to rescue the Damsel in Distress in her tower. She helps him climb most of the way up and then lets go of the rope so he'll fall to his death, as she knows she's in a Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • In the Frozen Teardrops novel to Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, it's revealed that Relena's great-aunt Sabrina Peacecraft was locked away with only a cat to keep her company.
  • As the title implies, The Girl In The Tower by ML Lanzillotta. The main character spends years locked in a tower in the middle of a dark forest. That's only natural, considering that the book's a retelling of the fairytale Rapunzel.
  • The madwoman of The Girl Who Drank the Moon is imprisoned in a high room in the Tower with a barred window. There are other prisoners but no mention of where they are held.
  • The Hands of the Emperor: The empire of Astandalas had the tradition of imprisoning a member of the royal family, the so-called Marwn, in a tower on a magically significant location from the age sixteen onward to stabilize the empire's magic. The Marwn is imprisoned until death, should they not unexpectantly inherit the throne, as the current emperor Artorin Damara did.
  • In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick from Kat, Incorrigible, the story about Sir Neville is that while possessed by the Green-Eyed Monster, he locked his wife into a tower, where she died.
  • The Lady of Shalott: The Lady is cursed to stay on a building with "four gray walls, and four gray towers". She knowingly decides to enact the curse on her and leave, even if it means her death.
  • The basic premise of the YA series The Lunar Chronicles is various Fairy Tales getting a Setting Update several hundred years into the future. The Rapunzel stand-in, Cress Darnel, trades the tower for an isolated satellite.
  • Marcus Didius Falco. The Germanic priestess Veleda lives in an abandoned Roman watchtower and may or may not have spent a night of love with handsome tribune Justinus.
  • The Ordinary Princess: The titular princess's parents plan to put her in a tower guarded by a dragon and marry her off to the prince that manages to free her.
  • In Gene Wolfe's Pandora by Holly Hollander, at the end, Holly decides on Staying with Friends. The friends look her over and conclude that since she's a teenage girl, obviously she gets the tower room.
  • In Charles de Lint's Seven Wild Sisters, the bee fairy queen's daughters all ran off with 'sangmen. She had locked the seventh into a tower to prevent it. It didn't work.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • King Baelor the Blessed imprisoned his three sisters to prevent them from tempting him into cardinal sin. They were even known as "The Three Maids in the Tower."
    • Ned thought he was rescuing his sister Lyanna from her kidnapper Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and found her in a remote tower guarded by three knights... but when he gets to her, there is speculation confirmed by the television series that he finds a dying Lyanna after she has just given birth to her son by Rhaegar, asking Ned for a promise to keep her son safe, and Ned thereafter raises his sister's son as his own. Even his wife doesn't know the real relationship between the two. There are also ambiguous implications that Lyanna's disappearance may have been voluntary.
    • Donella Hornwood gets locked in a tower by Ramsay Snow. Sansa Stark was also held in one in Maegor's Holdfast after her father and members of his household were killed. Neither of them were rescued during their stays in their respective towers, though Lady Donella's fate is considerably worse.
    • The fourth book of the series has a chapter called "The Princess in the Tower," about Princess Arianne of Dorne after she has tried and failed to crown Myrcella Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and start a war with the Lannisters.
    • Val, the so-called "wildling princess", is held captive by Stannis Baratheon in one of the towers of Castle Black — and she is even protected by a (sentient and friendly) giant. Ser Patrek's foolish attempt to prove his worth as a suitor, vying for her hand, causes no end of chaos.
  • The Sunne in Splendour: Richard and Edward send Broken Bird Anne Neville to her sister's castle to rest and heal after her brutal and brief first marriage. Unfortunately, Isabel's husband George (who is also Richard and Edward's brother) covets Anne's fortune and holds her as a virtual prisoner, not letting her downstairs and telling everyone, including Richard, she is ill. He eventually embarks on a Locked Away in a Monastery scheme to get her out of the way. Isabel tips Anne off and she runs away until Richard can find her and get her to safety.
  • Wings of Fire has a male example — Queen Scarlet imprisons her grandson, Cliff, in a crematorium tower since he's said he's too young to be able to fly. Unfortunately for Scarlet, he was lying, and escapes as soon as he's given the chance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Best Friends Whenever: Daisy was a 15th-century princess who was locked up in a tower until she was accidentally broken out by a time rift and is now living in the present day.
  • Recycled In Space in the Blake's 7 episode "Hostage". The titular hostage is a former Love Interest of Blake being held prisoner by his Arch-Enemy Travis. In this case it's a derelict communications tower on the chalk cliff of a BBC Quarry. Unfortunately due to the low budget of this sci-fi series we only see the tower in a distant shot, plus a studio interior.
  • Clementina from Carrusel is kept locked away in her own home after her parents are hospitalized and she's in the care of her very overprotective aunts.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sansa Stark becomes one following her marriage to Ramsay Bolton, as she is kept locked in a bedroom. A particularly nasty example, as he is explicitly raping her every night.
    • The last stages of Robert's Rebellion had Ned having to rescue Lyanna as she's being kept in a tower (dubbed Tower of Joy) at Dorne.
  • The Goodies. Spoofed in "Camelot Capers" when Graham goes to rescue Rapunzel from her tower by climbing her hair, only when he puts his weight on it he yanks her out of the tower.
  • The Legend of Dick and Dom episode "Princess Gladys" features the heroes rescuing the Princess though not her sister from the top of a tower in a castle guarded by the Evil Dancing Dolphins of Doom.
  • Merlin: Gwen in "The Dark Tower," stated explicitly by Gawaine in the episode.
  • Once Upon a Time has used this trope a few times, including the Rapunzel episode, the Cruella de Vil back story episode, and the season 4 finale, in which Emma is rescued by her son and her boyfriend. However, in Cruella's case, it turns out her mother kept her imprisoned due to Cruella murdering all three of her mother's husbands while a child. When she is released, she murders her mother.

  • Chris de Burgh: The Tower
    In the wood was a bower where stood an old tower
    And he threw her deep inside
  • Rainbow: Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
    It's only been an hour since he locked her in the tower
    The time has come, he must be undone by the morning
  • Blackmore's Knight: Ivory Tower
    I feared not in the Ivory Tower, Imprisonment you'll find
    Lies within your heart your soul, your spirit and your mind
  • Avatar: Tower
    You lost your key and cannot leave
    I'll play with you and make believe
    I'll keep you safe with all my power
    I will build you a tower

    Myths & Religion 
  • One of the earliest known examples comes from Lithuanian mythology with Saule, the sun goddess. She was trapped in the tower by a jealous god, and the constellations persuade the divine blacksmith to construct a hammer capable of knocking the structure down.
  • Arthurian Legend:
    • In some versions of the legend, Queen Guinevere hides in the Tower of London after her affair with Lancelot is discovered.
    • The Lady of Shalott (who may also be Elaine of Astolat) spends most of her life in a tower on an island. She can't even look directly at the outside world because of a curse and spends her time watching Camelot in a mirror and weaving what she sees. Until she sees handsome Sir Lancelot, falls in love with him, and decides to venture into the outside world... She dies in a boat on the river, almost immediately.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Perseus' birth is set in motion when King Acrisius hears a prophecy that if his daughter Danae has a son, the child will kill him. He locks the princess in a tower of brass, but seems to have forgotten that gods can shapeshift. Soon enough, Danae has given birth to the titular hero.
    • Princess Philomela of Athens was first raped by her brother-in-law, King Thereus of Thracia, then had her tongue cut out and was thrown into a tower in the middle of the nearby forest so she wouldn't spill the beans. She then sewed a tapestry that represented her Break the Cutie process, then had a caretaker sneak it to her older sister Procne aka Thereus's wife, who then bailed her out. It went From Bad to Worse very quickly.
  • Ethniu from Celtic Mythology was also locked away in an attempt to thwart a prophecy about her potential son killing her father, the evil giant Balor. However, she is found by Cían and gives birth to triplets. When Balor finds out, he has two of the children killed, but the boy who escapes grows up to be Lugh, one of the most important gods in the Celtic pantheon.
  • Brunhild, one of the Valkyries from Norse Mythology, combined this trope with a proto-version of Sleeping Beauty. The goddess vowed she would only marry a fearless man, and so she set up a number of obstacles for any interested suitor to overcome. On a mountain in place of a tower and surrounded by a wall of fire, Brunhild sleeps in her armor until Sigurd arrives and wakes her.
  • Rudaba in Persian mythology meets her husband Zāl by having him climb her tresses into her palace.
  • It also happened in the legend of Saint Barbara, locked in a tower by her father Dioscorus so she wouldn't convert to Christianity. She still turned towards the Christian God, and once her dad found out, she was tortured and executed. (And her dad got hit by a Bolt of Divine Retribution for that.)
  • Some versions of the legend of Saint Christina of Bolsena use this trope. In her case, her father Urban of Tyra locked her up in the tower half to escape marriage proposals coming from local nobles, half to get her trained to become a pagan priestess. Like in Barbara's case, Christina still defied her dad's will and became a Christian, and then was tortured and killed.

  • After Arnie manages to break through the wall of the Shattering/Fragmenting/Breaksies in Hello, from the Magic Tavern, he encounters a Damsel in Distress sealed away in a tower... who turns out to be a conwoman pretending to be imprisoned to scam money out of passing travellers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mortarion of Warhammer 40,000 was raised in one, constantly forced to move to higher altitudes into the poisonous clouds of the planet by his adopted father. Ironically, as a Daemon Prince he now lives in a mountain fortress on a planet with a toxic atmosphere.

  • Happens to Princess Jasmine in the play Sheik, Rattle and Roll, where she insists on finishing her song before allowing herself to be rescued.
  • Princess Fiona is this in Shrek: The Musical (just as in the original animated movie it's based on).
  • Johanna from Sweeney Todd. Although the edifice in question isn't technically a tower, it is still a high building and Johanna is still, for all intents and purposes, locked away from the outside world.

    Video Games 
  • Princess Sophia, the Sleeping Beauty-ish heroine of the Awakening series of PC games, begins the first game, Dreamless Castle, by waking up from her enchanted sleep in the tower of an almost empty castle. In a refreshing twist, Sophia is a self-rescuing princess who finds her own way out.
  • Bioshock Infinite has Elizabeth, who lives in a tower shaped like a giant angelic statue of herself, where she's observed in secret by scientists and slowly siphoned to produce the Vigors.
  • Dark Parables, being based on classic fairy tales, has some of these:
    • Princess Briar Rose is asleep in a tower throughout Curse of Briar Rose.
    • Jack and the Sky Kingdom takes it to the extreme because Emma isn't just in a tower - she's in a castle in the clouds, and she really can't escape because there's no way down.
    • Ballad of Rapunzel has two girls in the tower, although this isn't immediately understood.
  • In Disney's Hades Challenge, Helen of Troy has been imprisoned in a tower for 10 years and even gets a song about how bored she is waiting for rescue.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest IV has Rose, hidden away in a tower because Humans Are Bastards.
    • Dragon Quest V: In the backstory, Mada -the Hero's mother- was locked up in a tower by the Loftians since her holy powers made her a prime target for the villains. Invoked when the party visits her room at her old hometown, and her grandson Parry directly compares it to a fairy-tale tower.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Great House Telvanni councilors have a habit of kidnapping the loved ones from the leadership of the other Great Houses and keeping them trapped in their magically grown mushroom-like Mage Towers. Master Neloth keeps the daughter of Redoran councilor Miner Arobar in his Tel Naga tower while Divayth Fyr keeps the daughter of Redoran Noble Arethan Mandas in his Tel Fyr tower. Both can be rescued during the House Redoran questline. Potential Telvanni Councilor (if you join the Great House) Baladas Demnevanni simlarly keeps an Imperial Legion tax collector in the dungeon of his Velothi Tower, Arvs-Drelen, and she must be rescued during the Imperial Legion questline.
  • Deirdre of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is a largely voluntary case. She's not physically locked up, but lives in a very secluded community in a forest and she's strictly forbidden from meeting men from the outside. This is because she is a distant descendant of Loptous, and could potentially give birth to someone capable of resurrecting him.
    • Also, Deirdre's mother Cygiun was subjected to the same treatment, for exactly the same reason.
    • The sort-of sequel Thracia 776 reveals that Manfloy's heiress and granddaughter Sara was also locked away from the world. She is very unhappy about it.
  • Namine in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. The twist is that although she was legitimately being held prisoner, she was cooperating with the bad guys by manipulating Sora's memories so that he would want to save her and thus becoming the pawn of Big Bad Marluxia. Her conscience wins out and she turns against her captors.
  • King's Quest:
    • Princess Cassima of King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow spends most of the game in a tower. In fact, her musical motif is called "Girl in the Tower."
    • Valanice of King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne was also imprisoned in a tower; Graham takes it upon himself to rescue her, hoping for a Standard Hero Reward.
    • Rosella was also locked in a tower in Lolotte's castle in King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella. Good thing Edgar was fonder of her than he was of Lolotte.
    • Exaggerated in Kings Quest (2015) Chapter 3, which retells the end of King's Quest II where Graham finds Valanice in a tower. Only this time, there are two girls in the tower, and Graham becomes trapped there as well when it turns out that he rushed off to find his true love in the tower without thinking of how to actually rescue them. It turns out that Hagatha, who was the original girl in this tower, was invoking this trope by capturing maidens and imprisoning them in the tower in an attempt to get someone to come rescue them all, since she thought she was too ugly for anyone to want to save her by herself. In the end, Graham ends up freeing them all and marries one of the two girls, who reveals her name to be "Valanice". The other girl ends up back in the tower by the events of Chapter 4.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • In the PC game Love Chronicles: The Sword and the Rose, the Prince needs to get into the castle tower to rescue the Princess, who is being held prisoner by a hideous beast. But when he finally gets to the tower, he finds only the beast. The beast is actually the ensorcelled Princess.
  • In Magic Fairy Tales Barbie As Rapunzel, the Rapunzel story plays out as usual until Prince Galen is caught visiting her and cursed to Walk the Earth. At that point, Rapunzel cuts off her hair and knots it around a bedpost, climbing down the hair so she can search for him.
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village has the daughter of the Baron who owned the eponymous village living in a tower, and the heroes eventually rescue her at the game's ending. This is something of a twist on the trope, however, because she's not imprisoned up there — she can leave the tower whenever she pleases, and in fact is seen doing so (though the heroes don't know who she is at the time). She just can't leave the village.
  • Raz must make his way up Thorney Towers in Psychonauts, to rescue Lili after she is captured by the Big Bad.
  • Parodied in Spyro: Year of the Dragon, where one sidequest begins with an NPC saying that his girlfriend, Rapunzel, has been kidnapped and taken to a tower. The end of the sidequest has Rapunzel reveal the guy is just a stalker, and she went to the tower of her own accord to get away from him.
  • Astra in Star Stealing Prince; the game kicks off when Prince Snowe learns of her existence and sets off on his own to rescue her. Within Snowe's dream, Dream Astra is one too. It's not necessary to save her to finish the game, but doing so leads to the Good Ending, while not doing so... Ironically, one of the people who put her in the tower, Lina was also an example of this in her backstory due to a prophecy foretelling that her child (Snowe) would destroy the world.
  • Princess Peach in the Super Mario Bros. games. In Super Mario RPG, for once, it's not Bowser but Booster who kidnaps her and keeps her in his tower.
  • ZUN, creator of Touhou Project, must be fond of this trope:

    Visual Novels 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, it's revealed that when Athena was very young, she lived in the GYAXA's Space Center with her mother. She rarely left the Center because her extremely sensitive hearing made it difficult for her to be in crowds, and only a handful of people knew she even existed. It wasn't a disadvantaged childhood, exactly—her mother really did love her—but it was a while before Athena got any sort of grasp on social norms. Luckily, Simon was there to guard Metis' "most beloved treasure".
  • This trope is central to the legend of the flower Maiden's Vigil in Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem. The maiden in question, so beautiful that her greedy, jealous father locked her away as a treasure, received the seeds as a gift from a mysterious woman. She planted the seeds outside her tower window and watered them with her tears, and soon enough, the plant grew so large and strong that she was able to climb down the stalk and escape, finally free to determine her own fate. The flower is considered good luck for any young lady with a similarly uncertain future.

    Web Animation 
  • Cyanide and Happiness presents us Repulsel, the parody of Rapunzel. Tower, check. Hair used as ladder, check. (Well, not that hair.)
  • The Flash Tub cartoon Platform Hero plays with this trope. To be precise, it plays electric guitar with this trope.
  • RWBY: In Volume 3, Ozpin asks Pyrrha in Volume 3 what her favourite fairy tale is. Pyrrha starts listing off the names of childhood stories but Ozpin suddenly interrupts her when she mentions The Girl in the Tower to talk about a different fairy tale. It's not until Volume 6 that the detail of this fairy story is revealed. It's about a girl who was locked in a tower by her cruel father until she was eventually rescued by a legendary hero, with whom she fell deeply in love. Unfortunately for the entire world, the true story behind the sanitized fairy tale is one of tragedy and catastrophe. The tale is based on how Salem and Ozpin's first incarnation, Ozma, met. What it excludes is how Salem's inability to accept Ozma's death from a fatal sickness set off a chain of events that led to her becoming an unkillable villain and Oz being returned from death by the gods to save humanity. The former lovers have been trapped for thousands of years in a Secret War for the fate of humanity, each unable to destroy the other.

  • In Erstwhile, Maid Maleen is locked in a tower to enforce a Parental Marriage Veto.
  • Moll from the series Battlepug, who may or may not be a prisoner in the tower she resides in.
  • Hooky: Monica briefly gets stuck in a tower in an homage to Rapunzel, but flies out of it on a broom thanks to Dorian.
  • In a story arc of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Princess Voluptua is under siege inside Viceroy's Spire—with the variation that she's not a prisoner, and it's her tower, but she's still inside it and needs help as it's being attacked.
  • Kaiten Mutenmaru: King Ocean locked his daughter, Umimi Shira, away in the strongest tower of her home since her infancy to protect her from the likes of Sick, who almost abducted her for her strong potential.
  • Sadie from Princess Princess (2012) is a very typical princess in a tower ... but lacks Rapunzel's long hair, which is why she still is in the tower at the beginning of the story.
  • Princess Robin in Side Quested starts out as one of these, but that's mostly just because that's where she thinks she should be, so that Prince Leopold can fight his way to her rescue. (That's how the story goes!) She's hardly trapped, the tower is enchanted to give her anything she wants, and once things go awry thanks to Charlie's knowledge of certain security measures, she decides to just pop off and rejoin the world.
  • Rachel from Tower of God, the subversion that she went there on purpose and yet has to reach the top.
  • xkcd features a girl who wants to be a lighthouse keeper. She reasons that she gets to be the girl in the tower, only she's the one saving people.

    Western Animation 
  • 850 Meters: The knight tries to rescue a Princess from a tower as his first attempt to get fame and fortune.
  • Invoked in one Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode by Cavin; when he and Princess Calla are captured and taken to Drekmore by the ogres, Cavin tells them that royal prisoners go in the tower. The ogres agree, but separate the two by putting Cavin in the regular dungeon.
  • The opening sequence of the Australian cartoon series Arthur And The Square Knights Of The Round Table has Arthur "rescuing" Guinevere from a tower in Camelot. It was a mere spoof, though, she was getting ready to have dinner with him.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes features a girl named Ariane held in a tower by Lucius. Jimmy and Beezy spend the entire episode trying to rescue her. When they do, she transforms into a giant bug monster and levels Miseryville. As Lucius put it, "She was in there for a reason."
  • Invoked in a Kaeloo episode where the gang is playing a medieval-themed game. They force Stumpy to dress as a princess and make him sit on top of a tower so Quack Quack can rescue him.
  • In The Magic Trolls and the Troll Warriors Princess Celia spends her days singing in a lonesome tower prison.
  • The Miraculous Ladybug character Adrien is a rare male example. Very beautiful, very noble, a little... ignorant, because his Abusive Parents kept him locked up in their elaborate, fortified mansion with minimal human contact for years. Once his father is finally persuaded to let Adrien attend public school, his classmates continually struggle with how to support him emotionally and protect him from loony fans.
  • Jenny from the pilot of My Life as a Teenage Robot is a variant of sorts. Jenny is kept in her room on the top floor until the world needs saving. When Tuck claims to have seen a monster up there, Brad climbs up to see what it is.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, the titular boys decide to set up a medieval tournament. Their older sister Candace is cast in this role with her Guy of the Week as her Knight in Shining Armor. Naturally, being Candace, she soon discovers she actually is trapped in the tower, and when she breaks herself out, a series of Contrived Coincidences send her bouncing all over the English countryside.
    • In the Elseworld episode "Doof Dynasty", Doofus Khan kidnaps Princess Isabella and locks her in the "Penthouse Dungeon" of his multilevel yurt, with various booby traps on the stairway up to deter escape and/or rescue attempts.
    • Parodied in another elseworld, "Excaliferb", where the Agent P analogue gets his mission briefing by climbing King Monopunzel's mustache.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: The Sleeping Beauty in the "Fractured Fairy Tales" version, which is a direct parody of the Disney version. The Prince (who looks like Walt Disney) realizes he can make a fortune off tourists so he turns the castle into SleepingBeautyLand.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In the episode "Bombad Jedi" Padmé is briefly imprisoned in a detention tower.
  • An episode of Tales From The Cryptkeeper had a twisted take on this, where the person the Prince Charmless and his put-upon younger brother think is a traditional Sleeping Beauty is actually a vampire.

    Real Life 
  • This is what happened to Princess Gwenllian of Wales and her cousins after Wales was conquered by England. The boy cousins were imprisoned in Bristol Castle, while Gwenllian and the girl cousins were locked away in convents and forced to become nuns. In the baby Gwenllian's case, it was not just to keep her from marrying and having children when older, but to keep her completely hidden from the world, so that her native countrymen couldn't find her and make her the figurehead of a new rebellion.
  • Later, it also happened to the so-called 'Princes in the Tower', the sons of Edward IV of England: 12-year-old Edward V, and his little brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, who were placed in the Tower of London by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Lord Protector, who promptly usurped the throne and became Richard III. They were, nominally at least, under his protection, and occupied this position. Shortly after, however, the boys vanished, and despite the claims of pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, were widely accepted to be dead. 120 years of Tudor propaganda, including a play or two, ensured that Richard III was remembered as their murderer - or at the very least, the man who ordered their deaths. To be fair, he probably was: he was the one with the most to gain from their disappearance, and they vanished without a trace from the most secure fortress in the country, one staffed by Richard's trusted men, and they were supposedly under Richard's protection (meaning that he was at least critically negligent).
  • Spanish Ana de Mendoza de la Cerda y de Silva y Álvarez de Toledo (yes, it's her full name), Princess of Eboli, spent some years jailed at a tower after having been accused of betraying state secrets.
  • For a few years, this was the fate of Marie-Thérèse, the daughter of Marie-Antoinette and only surviving member of her immediate family. After she was separated from her little brother, parents and finally from her aunt, she spent a whole year in solitary confinement in the Temple Tower, not knowing what happened to her mother, aunt and brother. She barely spoke a few words during that year, to the point where she became unused to talking and had to start reading aloud in order to train her voice again.


Video Example(s):


Young Rapunzel in the tower

Princess Rapunzel of Corona, kidnapped as a baby by Mother Gothel, is raised in an isolated tower far away, in order for Gothel to keep the healing power of Rapunzel's hair to herself so she can stay young.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / GirlInTheTower

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