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"If I am presented with a reasonable opportunity to save the day myself, I will at least try, and not wait for the hero to do it."
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The hero and the villain are having a Sword Fight or similar one-on-one altercation.

Meanwhile, our lovely heroine, whom the narrative will insistently claim is physically capable, is just standing around... and doing absolutely nothing (and not in a winning way, either). This isn't a case where she's trapped, incapacitated, physically impaired, or any less experienced than the hero, himself. This is an able-bodied woman with some established ability who is just standing around on the sidelines, helplessly watching while the men do all the dirty work.

So no trying to improvise to assist the hero. No calling for help. No making any attempts to stalk off while the villain is distracted; anything that could possibly enable the hero's success. Not even cheering the hero on to boost morale. You could replace her with an inanimate prop for all the good she's doing.

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The situation doesn't necessarily have to be Hero vs. Villain. It can also apply between good guys, especially in terms of romantic competition. The point is that the girl is still not helping either of them nor doing anything to stop the fight, not even by saying something that could settle everything between the combatants.

There are cases where her inactivity or lack of involvement in a fight can be justified. As stated above, she may be injured or Bound and Gagged and thus unable to move. She could be lower on the Super Weight scale or lack experience. Another reason could be This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself (where none of the hero's allies help him) or the hero insists on an honorable one-on-one duel. An especially fickle heroine may simply be waiting to see which man comes out on top, since Women Prefer Strong Men.

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What differentiates her from a regular Load is that it's established she has abilities or has choices at her disposal but when confronted with duking it out among the boys she's suddenly rendered inept by virtue of being female. Compare to Damsel in Distress but with a case of Faux Action Girl; which often serves as both the source and result of this trope. The distinction is that the Faux Action Girl is consistently failing to live up to her hype. It is a character trope. This trope here is more of a situational trope and it could have some justifying context (This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself for instance). Thus, not every Neutral Female is a Faux Action Girl.

Also compare Standard Female Grab Area which is where being caught by the wrist or upper arm is enough to impede her. Both tropes are often caused by the writers' unwillingness to have a woman fighting (and thus being hit by) a man. Polar opposite of the Defiant Captive, who may be helpless but won't let that stop her from telling her captors exactly what she thinks of them.

Not to be confused with female RPG characters with a Neutral component to their Character Alignment.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Bambi, Faline just stands against a rock wall and watches Bambi and Ronno fight over her. Justified as in real life, a doe would be fine with bucks fighting over her. Less so when she is utterly unable to do anything when the hunting dogs show up and corner her; in real life, female deer can give predators hell with their hooves, and she's roughly the same size as Bambi, who trashes them.
  • Averted in The Book of Life. Maria takes part in the action at every opportunity, and leads the finale battle.
  • Averted in one memorable scene from Shrek, where an inexplicably French Robin Hood is about to throw down Shrek and "rescue" Princess Fiona. But it's Fiona who ends up clobbering Robin and his Merry Men with some Wire Fu and Bullet Time moves.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Hestia from Classical Mythology was this to her pantheon, a goddess who was capable of taking on Titans refuses to engage in any mortal activities, unless listening to prayers counts. Even during the Trojan War when the gods had a free-pass to walk-among mortals, or the gigantomachy — which was basically a sequel to the issues with the Titans — Hestia is committed to Actual Pacifism. Most artwork portrays Hestia as a literal back-ground character, cooking or patiently standing behind other gods when fighting. Justified since someone needs to take heed of the fire within the hearth.

    Visual Novels 
  • Subverted in Fate/stay night with Sakura, who keeps trying to make Shirou stop participating in the Grail War and despite having the potential of Tohsaka knows nothing of fighting or real magecraft. She's actually the biggest powerhouse of any single character in the entire game... and she is not on Shirou's side by that point.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Dino Attack RPG, as revealed in Greybeard's Pensieve Flashback, the infamous pirate "Bad Luck" Beatrice took on this role while Grisbarba and Anton Gaston dueled in a swordfight, doing nothing but standing off to the side and shouting at them to stop. Justified in that she could not do more because she was unarmed; once Anton was disarmed and Grisbarba prepared to kill him, she did grab Anton's fallen sword and step in, accidentally cutting off Grisbarba's hand in the process. Besides, even if she tried to step in before Anton was disarmed, it would have done more harm than good since Grisbarba was too drunk and would likely have killed her in his stupor.
  • In Twitch Plays Pokémon Crystal, Oxxy Ozworme, the team's Metapod, is the least-used and most under-leveled member of the main party, outclassed by such male Pokemon as Feraligatr, Eevee, and even Togepi! Subverted, however, with Abed the Raticate, who can hold her own against most of the guys in the party, with the glaring exception of Feraligatr.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon Red has an interesting example: Air, the Lapras, was consistently the weakest member of the party, but it wasn't until the game was finished and the party data transferred to a copy of Gold that it was discovered that Air was in fact female.

    Real Life 
  • A literal example could occur during medieval sieges. Depending on how well a castle was fortified and supplied, a siege could last years or even decades, so the leader of the attacking army sometimes ended up bringing all the comforts of home along, including his wife. Since women were considered neutral in all conflicts, the lady of the castle and the wife of the attacker were sometimes given safe passage to come and go as they pleased, and may become friends and even make social visits to each other, with each side forbidden to even touch them. Obviously, they would make invaluable hostages or infiltrators, but this didn't always happen. It was unchivalrous.


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