Follow TV Tropes


Standard Female Grab Area

Go To
Oh no! He's got my arm! ...Sort of.

Your average female RPG character carries a variety of deadly weapons and can effortlessly hack or magic her way through armies of monsters, killer cyborgs, and mutated boss creatures without breaking a sweat. She may be an accomplished ninja, a super-powered secret agent, or the world's greatest adventurer. However, if one of the game's villains manages to sneak up and grab her by the Standard Female Character Grab Area (her upper arm) she will be rendered utterly helpless until rescued by the hero.
The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Cliches #148

So, the Faux Action Girl is busy slinging around multiple opponents with her seemingly competent style of Waif-Fu. In fact, she is doing so well that one has to wonder what the heroes are doing at all when they could leave the entire mission to her and she'd get it done and be back home in time to make dinner, maybe she's a bonafide Action Girl instead of a Faux one.

But suddenly, something unexpected happens — she gets grabbed by the arm! Shock and horror, now she has suddenly become the Damsel in Distress that needs to be saved.

No one is quite sure why, but it appears that any female lead's weak point in any given show happens to be on or around her upper arm (or alternatively the wrist). She could be absolutely dominating a fight, but the moment any old mook sneaks up behind her and say, grabs her shoulder, she suddenly loses all competency and is reduced to begging the hero to save her, or tries to fight back but is completely useless. This trope would make more sense if the Mook also had, say, a gun to her back or something, but too frequently he runs at her unarmed and manages to reduce her to complete harmlessness. Maybe Faux Action Girls come factory-equipped with an on/off switch in their upper arms.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, this trope exists to keep fights interesting. But since it doesn't happen near as often to guys, it's more likely that gender stereotypes haven't changed as much as we're led to believe. When someone tries to calm or incapacitate a guy it's much more socially acceptable to use a believable amount of force — such as punching him, knocking him out with a weapon, or beating him senseless. But since Wouldn't Hit a Girl tends to be in effect, the next best option is to just grab her. But even that can gather Unfortunate Implications: there are few real-life holds that can be used on women without being (at least a bit) reminiscent of sexual harassment.note  So writers resort to the Standard Female Grab Area as a less graphic shortcut to incur a plot development. Until audiences and/or Media Watchdogs get over their distaste for seeing female characters hurt, this trope will persist (and the double standards it implies, such as how ridiculous it is for an otherwise strong female to fold this easily).

Note this never happens to a Dark Action Girl or a true Action Girl. If a Mook were to attempt such a thing, well, expect someone to be on the business end of a nasty kick to the crotch, aka the standard male instant-incapacitation area (and this one is Truth in Television) if he's lucky — modern Dark Action Girls are rather likely to opt for breaking his arm in three places instead of "lowering themselves" to a groin attack. If it does happen to a legit Action Girl (usually on the good side), she's a victim of The Worf Effect.

The arm is also the ideal location to grab a female character who's panicking or in the middle of a screaming freakout. No amount of verbal entreaties will get her to mellow out on her own, but punctuate a terse "calm down!" with both hands on her upper arms, and voila, she's back on steady ground again.

Note that this trope does not apply if the female character is subjected to an actual combat move such as an armlockdefinition  or a hammerlock.definition  Note also that not every instance of a man grabbing a woman by the arm counts as a use of this trope. As mentioned, there really aren't a whole lot of other places that a man can grab a woman that don't carry Unfortunate Implications, especially on a family-oriented show. The trope only comes into play when use of the Standard Female Grab Area makes the woman unaccountably helpless or ineffective.

As a subversion, briefly controlling one elbow or upper arm can actually be extremely effective. Standing still once you've grabbed hold, not so much.

Compare Possessive Wrist Grab, which is not exclusive to fights and can be applied to either gender.

See also By the Hair, which is far more plausible and not as unrealistic as this.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in the Virtua Fighter: A thug wants to use a young ballerina who had befriended Akira, Jacky and Pai as a hostage and grabs her by the arms, but she actually wriggles her way out of his hold and manages to kick him away. She even says it's thanks to her dance training, which gave her extra flexibility.
  • Attack on Titan gives us an awesome subversion when an enraged, fully grown man tries this on one of the smaller female leads. Instead of freezing up, she grabs him by the shirt collar and uses a judo throw to flip him tail-over-tea-kettle into the ground (which is why you should never, ever, try this on a Military trained Action Girl). What makes the scene really stand out was that the man was her own father, and was in the midst of her epic Calling the Old Man Out moment. For extra Irony, he was the one who forced her into the army in the first place.
  • One scene in Case Closed has Mouri Ran, a Karate expert being held by a criminal. Suffice to say, the mook didn't stand a chance, despite him actually holding a gun.
    • Another episode lampshades the probable cultural origin of the trope in showing Ran, after reading a fortune-telling card that says "You must be more feminine to reach the heart of your lover", practically incapacitated. Luckily, the killer of the week later reads the real card for her - "no way you can deceive your lover, just be yourself and he will get your sentiments anyway" - and she merrily trashes the unfortunate guy and his knife.
  • In Sailor Moon, Neptune uses it on the main heroine when they fight. After a few seconds, though, Moon powers up, and her Battle Aura sends Neptune flying.
  • In a dark, personal scene in The Rose of Versailles, Oscar and André are arguing, when André becomes very upset at her decision to live her entire life as a man. He has always seen her as a woman as well, and their fight takes them near Oscar's bed. As he becomes physical, Oscar (being the main character) keeps fighting him off until he grabs her and the shoulder of her shirt rips. Then she's just at his mercy, asking "what will you do?" very pitifully — but this of course frightens André, who stops and apologizes repeatedly. It must be noted, though, that said scene is the tip of the iceberg concerning years of things untold and repressed feelings between Oscar and André (who was in the verge of an Heroic BSoD or maybe even the Despair Event Horizon, considering how he thinks that his beloved Oscar is completely throwing her life away), so it's not much about Oscar suddenly becoming failtastic at fighting, but about her breaking down when facing a truth she doesn't want to see.
  • Tora actually tries this with Maylu in MegaMan NT Warrior (2001), grabbing her by the wrist — guess what happens to him next.
  • Ranma ½:
    • In the manga, a shadowy assailant surprises Akane from behind, and pulls her back while cupping his hand over her mouth. She pauses just long enough to gather her thoughts before elbowing him hard in the gut and slapping him senseless. (Turns out it was just the Jusenkyō Guide, who wanted her to be quiet due to all the Phoenix Soldiers flying around, but he really could've picked a better approach.)
    • In the anime, Akane tries to defeat Ranma's Living Shadow. Due to his crush on her, the shadow simply grabs her wrists and keeps her in place. It isn't until Nabiki says that Akane will hate him if he doesn't stop holding her that he impulsively lets his grip go slack.
  • Miu of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple subverts this trope. She's trained herself to automatically flip anyone who approaches her from behind.
  • This happens to Cowboy Bebop's Faye Valentine in "Jupiter Jazz (Part 1)". She's in a bad mood and about to take it out on some thugs who surround her in an alley when Gren appears, grabs her by the forearm, and drags her away to the relative safety of his apartment. She doesn't fight back, not because she's incapacitated but because she's too confused by his actions. Body language has a lot to do with it; Gren isn't rough when he grabs her, as is usually seen in this trope, and carries himself in such a way that isn't threatening to her.
  • Subverted in Flunk Punk Rumble; Shinagawa grabs Adachi's arm to stop her from running away, so she grabs him and throws him to the ground.
  • Fairy Musketeers has this applied to the male main character (who, for what it's worth, knows little about combat.)
  • Actually sorta justified in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, since being restrained in any way is among the limitations of Homura Akemi's otherwise very versatile Time Travel. The trope is then completely subverted when the 'victim' drops a live stun grenade on the floor and easily escapes in the panic.
  • Subverted in Kamichama Karin: Kirio tries this on Karin once and gets punched in the face for his trouble.
  • Episode twelve of They Are My Noble Masters, has Ren's father use this on a couple of the servants...and it's played completely straight, despite all the female servants being proven ass-kickers. Apparently getting grabbed on the arm by a drunk, was their only weakness...
  • A canine version of this appears in the Grand Finale of Ginga Densetsu Weed, where Hougen kills one of Jerome's followers and holds the female follower hostage by grabbing her throat. He only drops her when Weed arrives in time for the final battle.
  • Used in Rosario + Vampire against Kurumu by Hokuto.
    Hokuto: Although your attacks are sharp, it becomes weak once you're caught.
  • In Code Geass, Suzaku does this to Kallen, but this is also a subversion due to the fact that he sucker-punched her in the stomach first, and used the opportunity to twist her arm behind her and force her to sit down in a chair with such a high back that it blocked her other arm. Consequently, the Action Girl's helplessness is believable.
  • Subverted in Berserk, where Guts gets Casca to stop yelling on two occasions - once by slapping her ass, then grabbing her breast the second time. Played straighter - but soon subverted - earlier in the series when Guts grabs her by the wrist during an argument, but she slaps it away.
    • Unfortunately, this trope has also been deconstructed as a result of Casca's rape, where she now panics whenever somebody grabs her.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball Z when Dr. Gero grabs Android 18's upper arm. Of course, she was the Dark Action Girl half of a pair of Big Bad Creepy Twins, so it no surprise when she effortlessly knocks him to the ground.
  • In Brave10, Action Girl Ninja Anastasia puzzlingly lets some joke villains almost rape her during her first appearance in the series just because they caught her by her wrist?!
  • Occurs several times during the Enies Lobby arc of One Piece. Spandam grabs Nico Robin by the upper arm several times while escorting her to the prison ship. Downplayed to believability by the fact that Robin's hands are cuffed behind her with power-suppressant shackles and Robin is mostly non-resistant at first. It also doesn't last long. After Robin starts fighting back and trying to run, Spandam has to resort to beating her, striking her with his elephant-sword, and dragging her By the Hair in order to keep moving.
  • In Sword Art Online, Asuna is unfortunately subjected to this by the hands of Kuradeel. She is tougher than him, and likely could have broken free without help; Kirito simply intervened before this happened.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Panik/The Player Killer of Darkness subjects Mai to this when Yugi and his friends show up to investigate Mai's screams. It's justified in this case, both because Panik had just traumatized Mai with his signature brutal, mind-game tactics and Mai was thoroughly shaken by the ordeal, and because even if he hadn't he's about two heads taller than her and built like brick shithouse.

    Comic Books 
  • In Fantastic Four #119 (Published in 1972) a planejacker takes a stewardess hostage by just lightly gripping her shoulder so that both her arms are still free!
  • Subverted in Mass Effect: Redemption. A sleazy batarian grabs Liara by the arm, thinking that she's for sale. Liara subdues him and his volus companion with a single biotic blast, while Feron, her drell companion, Facepalms.
  • Sin City: Manute does this to resident Action Girl Gail. Considering he's Made of Iron, it makes sense she's unable to do much against him.
  • Subverted in Superman story arc Death & the Family. Supergirl grabs Silver Banshee's arm to push her away from Inspector Henderson. Banshee does not try to fight back, but she casts one teleporting spell.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): Becomes plain ridiculous in issue #14— the villain grabs April by the upper arm and then lets go for long enough to tie a cloth gag around her mouth, and then shoves her over to the mooks to take her away. Though one of her arms and both her legs are free, and nobody seems to have any weapons with which to threaten her, that brief upper-arm grab seems to have made her so helpless that she doesn't even try to struggle or escape.
  • Played straight in Warlord of Mars normally where Martian nudity is treated as a non-issue and enemies have a sense of gallantry, but averted in Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars. The mini-series ups the fan service by often having the Green Martians grabbing the near-naked Dejah Thoris just under the breasts to force her into a kneeling position and in one case a Green Martian holds onto her butt.

    Fan Works 
  • Megami no Hanabira: Yuuna stops Reo from being a Leeroy Jenkins in one chapter by grabbing her forearm as she runs past. Reo's tiny and out-of-shape, so her struggles don't help much against the much larger, more athletic Yuuna.
  • A Crown of Stars: Subverted in chapter 48. A warlord grabbed Misato's upper arm and for a moment she seemed helpless and unable to wrench herself free, but in reality it was part of her plan.
  • Justified example in Hunting Monsters when Dominic restrains a woman by grabbing her wrist. She digs her heels in and hits him with her other hand, but he's so much stronger than her it doesn't make a difference.
  • In Dreaming of Sunshine, a competing genin does this on Shikako during the second chunin Exams. It does not work.
  • Adrien goes for this twice in LadyBugOut:
    • As Chat Noir, he irritably slaps Ladybug's yo-yo out of her hand, then grabs her arm when she tries to retrieve it, as he's not done blaming her for everything. It only works insofar as she's shocked by him doing so; once the surprise wears off, she pulls away and takes him to task for it.
    • Later, he pulls the same stunt on Marinette when he wants to talk to her about how she witnessed his being stripped of the Ring. Again, she's not impressed by him attempting to manhandle her into compliance.
  • Gender-Inverted in the Virtue's Last Reward fanfic Axe Back. Dio attempts to leave for the lounge to cool off after the end of the Nonary Game, but Sigma, still angry over his past actions, grabs Dio by the arm and takes him to the infirmary. Sigma continues to grasp onto Dio’s arm for the remainder of the fic, and Dio makes no attempts to struggle free.

    Films — Animation 
  • Mulan:
    • This is how Chi Fu forcibly drags Mulan out of the medical tent after her real gender is found out, but it's actually justified. Despite her established badassed-ness, Mulan has just been treated for and is recuperating from a cut across her stomach, and the attendant blood loss has likely left her in no condition to fight back, even if she is being manhandled by the weakest man in the group.
    • In Mulan II, one of the Mongolian emperor's guards successfully uses this on Mulan.
  • Shrek:
    • After showing impeccable fighting skills early in the movie, at the end, Fiona can only call helplessly for Shrek when grabbed this way. Granted, Farquaad does eventually put a knife to her throat, but only after 20 seconds or so of her doing nothing while Shrek, who is also grabbed, actually fights back.
    • And again at the climax of Shrek the Third.
  • A rare male example in Disney's Tarzan. Earlier in the film, he successfully incapacitates a full-grown silverback gorilla, but when he's grabbed by the upper arm by a man of average build, he can't break free.
  • Justified in Despicable Me 2. Agent Lucy Wilde (who can actually fight) is grabbed in this way, in the middle of a party chock full of civilians, mostly kids. The guy who grabbed her is also known for being strong. She's even shown looking around at all the people who could potentially be collateral damage.
  • In Turning Red, in a Blink-and-You-Miss-It moment, during Tyler's birthday party, one of Mei's classmates is sitting on a couch when Mei grabs on to her by her upper arm and pulls her onto the dance floor. This takes place in the space of a second.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • While Lyra of The Golden Compass can be forgiven for suffering from this weakness because she is so young, it's still almost hilariously obvious several times in The Film of the Book, especially in the Final Battle.
  • The commander in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire does this when he takes Katniss away from the crowd in district 12.
  • Subverted in Last Action Hero. Slater's daughter gets grabbed by one of the Mooks and becomes little more than a screaming nuisance, but as soon as the mook takes her to another room she uses her screams to cover the sound of her dealing with him.
  • Live Free or Die Hard:
    • Subverted near the end of the flick; a henchman has Lucy firmly subdued via the Standard Female Grab Area while the Big Bad, Gabriel, threatens McClane... but the second the Big Bad's back is turned, Lucy smacks the henchman in the face, shoots him in the foot with his own gun, and almost manages to finish out the whole flick by herself. When the henchman get her back under control, he grabs her by the throat and shoves a gun in her face.
      Gabriel: You got her?
      Henchman: Yeah.
      Gabriel: You're sure?
    • The same henchman also brings in Lucy when she's initially captured by this, although she's clearly struggling to break the larger man's grip. He mentions that "this bitch is a handful", and she proves him right as the moment he goes lax, she slips free and clocks him across the face. Gabriel snarks at his henchman's situation:
  • Aragorn does this to Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers when she sees Gandalf performing his magic on a possessed Théoden. However, she stops fighting him when Aragorn tells her to wait and as soon as Théoden is back to normal, she pulls away from Aragorn to catch her uncle.
  • Man of the Year: Eleanor is walking out of a mall when suddenly the Big Bad's mook comes and grabs her under the armpit. She squeals and is dragged forcefully to his van. The moment she retaliates and manages to escape is the exact moment he lets go of her.
  • Miss Congeniality absolutely destroys this trope by having Sandra Bullock's character demonstrate self-defense techniques against just such a grapple for the talent portion of the beauty contest.
    "Hey, hey! It is not a beauty pageant, it is a scholarship program."
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie has the previously shown Action Girl Sonya Blade being held by the Big Bad Shang Tsung with her arm behind her back and gripped by her ponytail. It's implied that she doesn't fight him off because doing so would mean accepting Tsung's final challenge, but it's not made explicit in the film.
  • A justified example comes in the Percy Jackson film. A terrified woman grabs Annabeth's hand and renders her unable to fight Medusa—because Medusa turns the woman to stone while she's still holding onto Annabeth's wrist.
  • In the 1943 version of Phantom of the Opera (1943), the Phantom manages to drag Christine all the way down to his underground lair against her will by grabbing her arm with one hand. Justified, as Erik is always described as having near-superhuman strength despite his frail appearance.
  • Secret Window, where the antagonist drags the conscious and struggling female lead along the ground, face-down, by one wrist. No, the villain is not particularly strong; she was just Too Dumb to Live.
  • Subverted in Serenity, where Jayne grabs River by the arm in the middle of her rampage through the bar. That fails, so he pins both her arms to her body with a bear hug, and leans on her to hold her down. It looks like she's been handily contained by Jayne's intervention... but then she attacks his weak point for massive damage and the ninety-pound girl kicks the ever-living crap out of him.
  • The Wild World of Batwoman has this used successfully on several girls in a row.
  • Played with Mariko in The Wolverine, it seems mostly effective until she decided to fight against her Yakuza kidnappers, where she lands a few blows until she escapes with Logan.
  • Used on Sara in Red (2010), but justified: the attackers are armed CIA agents, while Sara just works in a cubicle. Would you try to resist? (The grab would probably have a snowball's chance in hell at working on the movie's other female lead, Victoria.)
  • La Captive: Simon is insanely controlling of his girlfriend Ariane's life, following her everywhere and having others follow when he can't. However, while he's weird he isn't violent, and the closest he ever comes to violent is when he finds Ariane chit-chatting with her friends at the theater. He grabs Ariane in the standard area, namely her upper right arm, and hauls her away.
  • Subverted in Star Trek: The Motion Picture when Bones tries to take Ilia for a medical examination. Since she doesn't want to go, it's like trying to move a building.
  • Averted in a Deleted Scene of The Terminator. Sarah Connor finds the address of Cyberdyne Systems in the phone book and gets into an argument with Kyle Reese over whether they should just destroy Cyberdyne before they develop Skynet. When Kyle says that's not his mission, Sarah declares she's going ahead anyway. Kyle tries to grab Sarah, only for her to break free and run off. He tackles Sarah and grabs her upper arm again, whereupon she slugs him in the face. The scene is meant to show how the mild-mannered waitress is becoming more assertive.
  • Averted in Suffragette. Suffragettes are not this easily defeated, and the police don't feel bad about hitting them in the face, anyway. Even the husband who just wants to keep his wife out of danger has to resort to locking her in a closet, where he lured her under false pretense, to keep her from leaving.
  • Black Sunday: A policeman grabs a nurse this way to stop her from entering the hospital room where a wounded colleague lies. Unfortunately for him, she's a terrorist intent on committing a Sickbed Slaying.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Bruce Wayne grabs Diana Prince this way during a society fundraiser and only gets an annoyed look in response. Subverted when we later discover that she's Wonder Woman, and more than capable of kicking his ass should she choose.
  • Gender-Inverted in Queen of Outer Space when our heroes are captured by a bevy of mini-skirted dames from Venus. One of the Ray Gun-toting Venusians has no problem hauling Lt. Cruze around this way.
  • Subverted in Shredder Orpheus when Hades' goons try to kidnap Eurydice by grabbing her upper arm while she's in the middle of coughing up bad food. Eurydice fights off her attacker and slaps him in the face, forcing them to hold her at gunpoint instead.

  • This happens in The Wheel of Time when a girl is grabbed by a Warder in a Crown of Swords.
  • In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Deckard uses this on Luba Luft. When previously cornered by the bounty hunter, she outsmarted him and managed to hold him at laser point. However, once he puts his hand "laxly onto her upper arm" she ceases all struggle.
  • Tortall Universe: Defied with a vengeance in the third Protector of the Small book when Raoul's standard-bearer tries to intimidate Squire Keladry this way—by this point, she's so built that all she has to do is flex her bicep and his hand pops off.
  • Feet of Clay: Angua, a female cop, is grabbed in this method and does nothing while she is inside the bar her fellow coppers are in. The reason why is she's a werewolf and more than capable of taking care of the fools taking her hostage. She just didn't want to damage the place or her co-workers.
  • In The Dresden Files, if you grab Lieutenant Murphy, an experienced Aikido practitioner, prepare to have the crap beaten out of you. Unless she's pretending and you are stupid enough to believe it.
  • Averted in A Song of Ice and Fire. A smitten suitor grabs Asha Greyjoy this way; she draws a dagger and makes it clear he's never to touch her without permission. During a Bar Brawl a squire does the same to Arya Stark; he's also holding a sword, so with both hands occupied there's nothing to stop Arya grabbing the dagger on the squire's belt and burying it in his belly. It is however played straight, but in a Gender-Inverted Trope, when Royal Brat Puppet King Joffrey is hauled off to bed this way after annoying his Dragon-in-Chief Lord Tywin Lannister.
  • When Orrin and his kids kidnap Annileen near the climax of Star Wars: Kenobi, they hold her by the upper arm. She doesn't get a chance to escape until Mullen lets her go in order to try and shoot her.
  • Reba McClane in Red Dragon mentions how annoying this is, as someone grabbing the upper arm of a blind person throws off their balance, not to mention how men use their knuckles to cop a feel of her breast while doing so.
  • In The Cleric Quintet Rufo grabs Danica this way, despite her being an extremely skilled fighter who specializes in unarmed combat. In this case, she briefly reflects on how amateurish his hold is, but having become a vampire, he's now strong enough to shatter the bones of her arm by squeezing if she tries to break it.
  • The Turkish Gambit: "Paladin had reached out his left hand, grasped her tightly by the elbow, and pulled her toward him, protecting himself with her like a shield."
  • Downplayed in Avengers of the Moon, by Allen Steele. Captain Future grabs IPS officer Joan Randall this way to stop her leaving the rocket ship for a risky EVA, but hands her directly to his Robot Buddy, who holds Joan in place easily thanks to the robot's superior strength.
  • Schooled in Magic: Laughed at by Sergeant Harkin. Only someone unwilling to fight back would be caught just by grabbing her upper arm; breaking free would be trivial.
  • In A Darker Shade of Magic: this happens when Holland grabs and drags Lila, the girl who otherwise pulls a knife out at almost every situation by the upper arm and Lila can do nothing but squirm a bit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in Altered Carbon when Tanaka grabs Prescott this way and tries to threaten her. She coldly tells him not to do that again, then tells him just how powerless he is compared to her clients.
  • Arrow: Averted when Oliver Queen finds his underage sister Thea drinking in a nightclub and tries to haul her outside using this trope, only for Thea to angrily shove him away.
    Thea: Keep your hands off of me! You're not my father, and you're barely my brother.
  • Subverted in Stargate SG-1 — Teal'c grabs RepliCarter's arm to stop her from escaping through the Stargate. She detaches her arm and exits, leaving him holding the severed limb. Then justified when Daniel grabs RepliCarter's wrist, as it's symbolic of him gaining control and trapping her inside his mind. She then manages to break free and impale Daniel in the real world.
  • In Bones, Booth pulls Brennan out of a room by her upper arm on the first case they work. Despite being trained in multiple forms of self-defense, she allows herself to be pulled, only smacking Booth across the face once he let go of her arm.
  • Subverted (unsurprisingly) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy gets grabbed like this almost once a fight. Her response is usually to use her attacker as leverage to bicycle kick some other guy in the face. However, in "Into the Woods", her boyfriend Riley (whom she's discovered is cheating with vampire prostitutes) grabs Buffy this way three times during the course of their subsequent argument. Contrary to all expectations (including Riley's own), she doesn't pummel him, eventually just walking out in disgust.
  • Subverted in Robin Hood with Djaq. A Mook twists her arm behind her back and triumphantly shouts: "I've got the girl!" She head-butts him, retrieves her sword, and mutters: "A woman, you'll find."
    • Played straight with Djaq's replacement Kate, who in her first episode is magically capable of overpowering grown, horse-backed, armoured men by poking them with her bare hands, and is then rendered utterly helpless in every other fight she participates in. Except the Cat Fight, of course.
  • Reference in Shooting Stars in a segment parodying The A-Team - "Look, it's a woman being pushed and pulled about a bit by some communists!" (Two Fidel Castro lookalikes each holding on to the Standard Female Grab Area and pointlessly pushing her back and forth)
  • Inverted in an episode of iCarly, where Sam incapacitates a girl-hating model train club member by squeezing his wrist.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In the early episode "Past Prologue", Commander Sisko uses this trope to haul Major Kira aside when their argument on the Promenade gets too close to potential witnesses, but Kira angrily pulls her arm free. The trope is Played for Drama in that Sisko is manhandling his First Officer, showing their tense relationship before they become Fire-Forged Friends.
    • In the flashback episode "Necessary Evil", Kira is grabbed by Gul Dukat and submits to it silently. Justified though as that episode takes place during the Occupation — laying hands on a Cardassian officer would be a death sentence. Kira was a member of La Résistance working undercover on Empok Nor, so couldn't afford to draw attention to herself.
    • Also in "Resurrection" when Kira is kidnapped by Mirror Universe Bareil. At first, Bareil is holding Kira in front of him as a Human Shield. By the time he grabs her this way, Kira has overcome her shock at seeing her long-dead lover and is a Play-Along Prisoner, knowing that Bareil's weapon doesn't work and he won't make it off the station anyway. When they do fight, she takes him down easily.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Gender-inverted in "Ex Post Facto" and "Initiations" when a male prisoner is hauled around this way, likely to show how their spirit has been broken if they let themselves be hauled about like a wuss.
    • Justified in "The Q and the Grey" when Chakotay grabs a female member of the Q Continuum. When you can change the gravitational constant of the universe with a Badass Finger Snap, it's difficult to get your head around physical violence after you've been Brought Down to Normal.
      Female Q: Let me go before I hurl this ship and everyone on it into the Therinian Ice Age.
      Chakotay: I don't think you can.
      Female Q: Don't be ridiculous. [Badass Finger Snap = No-Sell]
      Chakotay: I don't know how or why, but something's affected your powers. Otherwise, you wouldn't still be here and you wouldn't have a bruise on your forehead. Now start talking before I hurl you into the brig.
    • Averted in "Year of Hell" when the Doctor tries to restrict Janeway to Sickbay by grabbing her arm. She responds with a Death Glare and threatens to shut down his program.
    • In "Bliss", Chakotay grabs Seven this way, but it's a sign that he's Not Himself as he'd never manhandle a female crewmember. Seven plays along only because he has two armed security officers with him, and she needs to get them to let their guard down.
    • In "Someone to Watch Over Me", Seven of Nine shows the correct way to respond when a drunken alien ambassador grabs you like this.
      Seven of Nine: Remove your hand or I shall remove your arm.
  • In the season one finale of Teen Wolf, Peter does this to Kate, rendering her pretty much helpless in seconds.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: In the Series 4 finale, "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith", Ruby first grabs Clyde's upper arm, and later Rani's. Their inability to react is justified by her Super Strength.
  • Rufus does this to Patricia in House of Anubis. She does keep fighting in his grip, though, so it's possibly a subversion, and seemed like it was more of a matter of her just giving up than being subdued.
  • Averted in the Torchwood episode "Cyberwoman". Owen has to grab Gwen around the waist in order to prevent her from trying to help Jack, and even then, she still tries to pull away.
  • M*A*S*H: Subverted when Major Burns restrain Major Houlihan to make her listen to his racist rant. She glares at him and implies a serious harm to his hand unless he lets go of her immediatelly. Burns' offended and teriffied reaction when complying to her request is just a cherry on the top.
  • Male example in Once Upon a Time: Henry gets kidnapped, and even when his mother is running toward him, he doesn't bother to resist being taken through a portal to another world. It might have been understandable up until then, but Emma just needed a little time to reach them.
  • Sloan Sabbith on The Newsroom has a truly spectacular response to being treated this way by a male coworker:
    Sabbith: If you ever lead me by the wrist through that newsroom again, I'm gonna take out each of your goddamn knuckles with a ball-peen hammer.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: "The Tale of the Many Faces". When the two girls simply grab Madame Visage and she makes no attempt to break free, and they easily defeat her while she pathetically screams. So the girls have been working as slaves for her all this time and all they needed to do was simply hold her?
  • Blake's 7: In "Moloch", two mooks grab Servalan by the arms so she can be hauled off to be gang-raped. Servalan contemptuously pulls her arms free, utters a blatant death threat, then calmly strides off to her fate. She escapes, of course, racking up quite a body count in the process.
  • The Defenders (2017):
    • Played for Laughs when Matt Murdock roughly grabs Jessica Jones by the arm upon her entry into Midland Circle and drags her aside to try and warn her into leaving the place. since it's a trap set by the Hand. This trope only works because she's just shocked he actually did it since she has Super Strength and he's a blind-but-maybe-not lawyer.
      Jessica Jones: Murdock! What—
      Matt Murdock: You need to leave, now.
      Jessica Jones: If you grab me like that again, I'll punch you so hard you'll see.
    • Later, Jessica's threat turns out to be all for naught since when they're brought in for questioning by the police, she lets Matt grip her elbow and allow her to guide him, to maintain the illusion that he's blind. In Daredevil (2015), it's implied that Matt does this a lot with beautiful women, as we see Matt in his introductory scene letting an attractive female realtor lead him around while Foggy Nelson rolls his eyes in the background.
  • Westworld:
  • Let the Right One In: Discussed by Naomi, who shows Eleanor that most attackers will grab her by the wrist. This is subverted as a weakness since she then teaches Eleanor how the female subject of this can then counter it very effectively, rather than be vulnerable to the attacker. Eleanor of course already is quite able to handle herself, despite having a twelve-year-old's body physically, given that she's a vampire with superhuman strength and speed.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Before inducting her into the TNA gathering, Raven dragged Alexis Laree into the Sports Entertainment Xtreme office by her wrist. She was on the losing end of a lengthy match with Trinity, who a fresh Raven then attacked and gave the even flow DDT to, so she probably wasn't in any shape to fight him off and seemed more confused about the whole thing than distressed. It only looks like a straight example if you know ahead of time the mess Raven's Gathering turns out to be.
  • The Giant Killer Mike Mondo does incapacitate Maria Kanellis this way on OVW television. However, it did him no good against Alexis Laree (yes, the same one). He did know his fair share of actual debilitating holds but subduing Laree was no trivial effort.
  • After winning TNA's X Division Title from Suicide, Homicide celebrates by kidnapping the locker room interviewer Lauren in this manner.
  • Big Boss Man holds Elizabeth this way after he and Akeem (The African Dream) took out Hulk Hogan and had evil plans for her. She was restrained and helpless throughout the duration her arm was held until Randy Savage saved her.

  • In The Fantasticks, Luisa is grabbed by El Gallo around the wrist. She romanticizes it by tying a ribbon to the spot in the aftermath.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Both subverted and played straight in Kingdom Hearts II. In the subversion, villain Xaldin attempts to force the Beast to choose between his magical rose and Belle, by holding both (with Belle held by the arm). While he's busy gloating, Belle elbows him, grabs the rose from him, and runs back over to the heroes. Played straight when Kairi is kidnapped by Axel when he simply grabs her wrist and drags her around like Kleenex. Kairi just goes and follows her kidnapper while slightly squirming and only dragging her feet once; never does she consider using her free hand or kicking her abductor. One could chalk it up to an uncaring animator, though, or maybe her being a kid being dragged off by a Humanoid Abomination who's NOT busy gloating.
    • The manga adaptation partly subverts this with Kairi biting Axel in the arm to escape, but by that point, they were no longer in Twilight Town.
    • Played painfully straight in Kingdom Hearts III, where, in the home stretch of the game, Xemnas sneaks up on Kairi and grabs her by the wrist. Instead of trying to fight back, switching her Keyblade to her other hand and defending herself, or even just pushing against him, she's reduced to squirming feebly in his grip while he delivers a lengthy monologue to Sora, Axel, and Xion, who just stand there and watch as he whisks her away. This one event precipitates the unlocking of Kingdom Hearts, provokes the Final Battle, and leads to Sora having to seek her out and getting sent to another world for the Sequel Hook. A later scene from Re:Mind, in which Kairi was weakened after a Nothingness trap by Xemnas left her energy drained, adds some much-needed context to this scene, but when it first came out... yikes.
  • The Bouncer features a kidnapping in the opening cutscene where the kidnapped girl, while trying to escape, is stunned so much by being grabbed on the upper arm that he can put her in a headlock easily.
  • Subverted in Last Scenario when Lorenza is introduced. A group of soldiers is trying to capture her, and one of them grabs her arm... so she vaporizes him with a lightning bolt.
  • Mass Effect 2 involves Shepard intervening in a Beam-O-War between two exceptionally powerful Asari biotics, by wading into the conflict and twisting the arm of his/her desired target. Alone, Shepard most likely would have been smashed into paste after this, but here it serves to break their concentration and opens them up for a Coup de Grâce blast from the other biotic.
    • Shepard does it again in Mass Effect 3 in a paragon interrupt to prevent Samara from committing suicide in the Ardat Yakshi monastery. Of course, it's mentioned that biotics need precise and exact muscle movements, and Shepard is a super-powered cyborg at both points, so this means that the SFGA is a perfect way to incapacitate biotics as long as they haven't learned how to channel their abilities through their legs. Of course, the only biotic we know of with that ability is male.
      • Additionally, it does not seem that at that time the female is incapacitated, but rather is simply refraining from fighting an ally while demanding to be released so she can finish committing suicide.
      • Also, the hold Shepard uses is an effective restraint against anyone — holding the arm behind their heads with both hands and bending the elbow so they can't effectively move it.
  • Averted in Dragon Age II; whenever anyone wants to grab Isabela, they grab her by both arms at once from behind, and she always manages to escape anyway - if she wants to.
  • Used in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, when the Big Bad kidnaps Flora, Layton's ward, by dragging her out of a restaurant by one arm. This one is justified, since Flora is a sweet girl with zero combat training and can't do much to defend herself anyway.
  • In Tales of Graces, Raymond Oswald manages to subdue Action Girl Cheria using this technique. Granted, she probably would have kicked his ass into next week had ol' Raymond not been backed up by a bunch of his soldiers.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, Angelo grabs Jessica by the arm and drags her off to sneak away from a bar brawl over his cheating at cards.
  • An interesting version of this happens in the Super Smash Bros. series. Characters can grab each other, and, if someone grabs a male fighter, it'll be by the chest's clothes, or in the case of fighters that don't wear clothes... by grabbing their skin directly, supposedly. However, if one grabs one of the female characters, it'll be by the arm. Of course, grabbing by the chest would lead to some Unfortunate Implications. This is, however, subverted by both the Miis and Mega Man. All Miis, even males, are grabbed in this area, and Mega Man uses the Super Arm for his grab, holding them up by the rear or back instead.
    • This also applies to the girls in other areas too, such as Kappn's bus. Female characters use their grabbed animation which has their arm extended for no real reason and they struggle as if their hand was being grabbed against their will ( This also extends to items that grab characters. The Beetle for example will grab male characters by the waist or other areas but females always by their hands (
    • Megaman specifically averts this in his own way. When a female is grabbed by him their chests are very much safe from being grabbed, their rear ends? Not so much.
    • Yoshi somewhat averts this by putting his opponent in his mouth, but if one sees the victim when his tongue makes contact to pull them in the girls use their default grabbed animation, thus his tongue grabs the female opponent's arm.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty. Talwyn can shoot guns and jetpack around all she wants during gameplay, but once she's grabbed by the arm in a cutscene, she doesn't even struggle.
  • A Justified example in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, when the super-strong Wesker takes Claire prisoner to lure her brother into a confrontation. Considering his ability to throw Chris around like a rag doll and No-Sell steel pipes by bending them, there's not a lot Claire can do to escape.
  • In the opening cinematic for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Justified as mages have low strength stats and the mage in question is descended from a race of very fragile pacifists.
  • Gender-Inverted in the case of Lon'qu of Fire Emblem: Awakening. If a woman grabs his hand or arm, he freezes up.
    Lon'qu: That's my arm. You're touching my arm. Please stop touching my arm.
  • The vampires dragging Willow around early in Buffy the Vampire Slayer hold her this way. But at this point Willow is a shy and (more importantly) normal high-school girl who is being held by what is essentially a demon in a human body, so it's justified.
  • Double Subverted in the remake of Splatterhouse. Dr. West, the main villain, grabs Jennifer by the arm and drags her through the mansion and across time to complete the ceremony. While Jennifer is no fighter, Dr. West looks to be a fairly frail old man, and Jennifer takes the initiative and stabs West through the temple with a jagged dagger. This turns out to be little more than a mild irritant for West, and as it dawns on Jennifer that he's more than human he easily drags her into the shadows by himself.
  • In a rare example of a tiny female doing it Street Fighter has Ibuki with her Raida special and Yoroitoshi ultra. When either attack connects Ibuki grabs the wrist of her opponent and simply holds it above her head. She then uses her free hand to blast her opponent with Ki that sends them flying away. In both instances her opponent has a free hand to defend themselves with but they offer no resistance no matter their size and gender.
  • Subverted in Dead or Alive Dimensions. Brad Wong manages to subdue Kasumi by grabbing her arms. But he does it from behind, grabs both her wrists, and still has to scuffle to avoid her legs. She was seconds away from getting herself out by breaking his nose before he let go himself.
  • Subverted on Jonah's route in Ikemen Revolution. When the Big Bad grabs the main character's arms to stop her during the route's climax, the self-defense lessons she got from the Black Army earlier mean that she knows how to elbow him in the stomach to escape.
  • Near the end of Detective Pikachu, Keith restrains Emilia just by holding her arm.
  • Dynasty Warriors 4 has an example in the Wu hidden mission "The Two Qiaos". The mission ends if anyone in your team dies; however, if any of the Qiao girls are defeated in battle, a cutscene plays which doubles as a Special Game Over, in which Dong Zhou is holding the girl in question (either Da or Xiao). They struggle initially, but once he starts talking they stop all resistance. With some setup, this same cutscene can be triggered while either Qiao has their max level armor and/or weapon, which is a sight to behold since they're being given such treatment at their strongest.
  • In Star Wars Chess Princess Leia despite having some initial success in one of her defeated cutscenes simply stops all resistance when her opponent grabs her by her upper arms. She is then somehow either killed or knocked unconscious, it isn't clear.
  • Haunting Ground Daniella does this to the playable character Fiona, though Fiona does visibly struggle and if she doesn't escape in time Daniella stabs through Fiona's midsection.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Subverted when Ruby gets grabbed like this but shrugs it off. She still gets captured, mind you... but she at least puts up a fight. It's not her fault that she's only 15 and the guard is therefore able to No-Sell her punch before Pistol-Whipping her into submission.
    • Subverted again much later with her sister Yang. Mercury, one of the bad guy's minions, tries to grab her arm as she passes... her cybernetic arm, which she simply detaches without missing a beat.

  • Lampshaded in Casey and Andy, the antagonistic Lord Milligan is a Card-Carrying Villain who follows basically every trope in the book, right down to having a lair inside a hollowed-out volcano, and insisting on explaining the villainous plot to the heroes before killing them. When one of the eponymous characters asks him if there's any advantage in following all those rules, Milligan demonstrates that there is by employing the "Female Incapacitation Attack" on Mary, an Action Girl with implanted, Wolverine-style claws.
  • A blink and you'll miss it example in Tower of God during the fight between Endorsi and Quant: in one panel, Quant manages to catch Endorsi's arm, and tries to hit her. It takes Bam and his newly acquired freezing technique to intervene and get Endorsi out of this situation. Why Endorsi didn't just swing her Cool Sword that she held in her free hand at Quant's neck is unclear, but the surprise effect or the fact that you need to land really strong attacks on Quant to even scratch him (even the Sword Beam wasn't enough to do that) might have played into that.
  • Subverted in Darken: When Shard grabs Elia like this to take her hostage, she promptly grabs the dagger he's holding to her throat and stabs him with it.
  • Girly, most likely will be Lampshaded later (it's not the first time Girly lampshaded something while playing it straight).
  • In Underling, this happens to Eshi on this page.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Happens (briefly) when "Snapper" Boikov tries taking Sanaa hostage. After discovering she's a sister of the hero who did personally break half of the prisoners' or their bosses' operations and probably already knowing she was imprisoned for piracy. "Dibs on his boots!"
    • Also happens with Agatha. Even sparks are not immune. Justified in that the abductor had the benefit of surprise, and is a big guy. In a following comic, he's shown carrying Agatha under his arm like a sack of potatoes, even though Agatha is putting up a pretty good struggle. Later comics also elaborate that he's quite competent with the family's trademark Smoke Knight training, while Agatha's own Skifander training has only been going on for a few months, with quite a few interruptions.
  • Subverted in Leftover Soup, Ellen's self-defense class was devoted solely to techniques to stop rapists grabbing one's wrist. When she asks Jamie to "give her his best shot" he kicks her in the kneecap.
  • Subverted in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name. Zombie tries to restrain Adelaide by grabbing her wrists. Being a vampire and thus having super strength, she's kept still for a panel or so before simply breaking off one of Zombie's arms and freeing herself.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in the Whateley Universe. In the second Boston Brawl, Generator (who looks like a ten-year-old girl) is grabbed as a hostage by Ironhawk (mutant in power armor). She slaps something on his armor, takes over his control system, and uses him as a missile for the rest of the battle.

    Web Videos 
  • Discussed in an episode of Best of the Worst. Josh "The Wizard" points this trope out to the others while watching High Voltage. To demonstrate, Mike grabs Jessi by the upper arm and she immediately goes limp.

    Western Animation 
  • Used heavily in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) to April O'Neil. It even got to the point that Leonardo uses it in the episode "It Came from Beneath the Sewers".
  • Justice League generally subverts this trope:
    • In the episode "The Cat and the Canary," Black Canary is forced to watch Green Arrow fight her mentor Wild Cat in a cage match while being held this way. She more or less allows Roulette's goons to grab her, but as soon as she decides to get involved, she essentially shrugs them off with no problem.
    • Subverted earlier when she was flirting with Arrow while sparring with him, allowing him to grab and pin her this way. She then bets that if she can get out of that hold, he'll go with her on an off-the-books mission (that leads to the cage fight). Gilligan Cut to Arrow hitting the wall.
    • If you grab Hawkgirl or Wonder Woman there, all you're doing is giving them leverage. On the other hand, sometimes when the enemy is also powerful enough to take out the male heroes in the same way.
    • In the original, Green Lantern grabs Wonder Woman by the wrist to stop her from talking to a reporter, and it works.
  • Not even Goldie Gold, of Goldie Gold and Action Jack, has enough limitless wealth to buy her way out of this trope.
  • Teen Titans:
    • In the episode "Haunted", when Robin is hallucinating visions of Slade, he grabs Starfire here angrily, and she exclaims that he's hurting her, despite the fact she seems to possess at least a degree of Nigh-Invulnerability, and he has no superstrength to speak of. Fan consensus is that she was more emotionally hurt by her good friend grabbing her then any actual physical force. This makes sense when you consider that Starfire's powers are based on her emotions; thus her emotional distress can cause her invulnerability to weaken, allowing Robin (a Charles Atlas Superpower level martial artist) to physically harm her.
    • Again during the beginning of Raven's arc: When Slade is forcing Raven to acknowledge the doomsday prophecy surrounding her Sealed Evil in a Can existence, he is holding her by both arms in the same spot. While Raven doesn't have super-strength, for which she compensates with insanely powerful telekinesis and magic, her powers, like Starfire's, are also rooted in emotion; specifically, emotional control and detachment. She's too freaked out and mired in self-loathing and resignation to effectively defend herself. Unlike other examples on this page, there is a pretty disturbing sexual harassment subtext, given that Slade is a zombified 30-something-year-old man and Raven is, at this point, 16 (the prophecy kicks in on her 17th birthday).
  • Used in the classic The Shooting of Dan McGoo Tex Avery short, featuring Droopy. Upon finishing her performance, Red is accosted by the Wolf, who proceeds to drag her across the room by the wrist, before switching to carrying her underarm.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • After Katriana Moldoff pulls a "Freaky Friday" Flip on Batman, she is able to grab the now-female Batman by the arm and leave him helpless.
    • Subverted later when Superman tries this on Cheetah. He grabs her arm and twists, she slashes his face with her Kryptonite-coated nails.
  • Inverted in Wing Commander Academy: Archer performs this hold on Maniac, before tossing him halfway across the room. Worth noting, Maniac appears to be about twice her mass.
  • Totally Spies!: Whenever the spies get captured or subdued by the enemy they'll end up a victim of this.
  • The Legend of Korra: Korra actually falls victim to this once in a fight with Zaheer. The details are non-standard, and it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it example, but the spirit is the same. Korra is held by the back of her shirt, not the arm. She is also shackled by the wrists and ankles and had just taken a pretty serious beating. However, as she is being captured and put on an airship, she puts up zero resistance. One might argue that her injuries and shackles were just too much for her to overcome, but then her father comes to her rescue and the two of them proceed to fight Zaheer together, Korra still in shackles.
  • In the extended opening for Steven Universe, Jasper is shown restraining Lapis Lazuli in this manner.
  • Averted in The Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land." When Marge is grabbed by the arm by two guards twice her size, she breaks free within fifteen seconds.
  • In season 2 of Castlevania (2017), the priests hold Lisa to drag her out of her house before burning it down. Believable since two guys are holding her, one on each arm, they are most likely experienced 'witch' hunters, and Lisa is not shown to have any combat training.
  • Justified in Thundarr the Barbarian against Ariel; all her magic requires her to raise her arms above her head and she's not terribly strong, so once her arms are restrained she's fairly helpless.

    Real Life 
  • This famous photograph of the wife of Soviet defector Vladmir Petrov being forcibly taken back to the Soviet Union by two KGB agents. Evdokia Petrova eventually broke free with the help of Australian officials and claimed political asylum.
  • A male version. In Jim Browning's YouTube video series Spying on the Scammers the fourth part shows some of the top brass of the scamming organization he brought to light being arrested. However instead of handcuffs being used or any restrained the officers would simply hold the arms or hands of the person they were arresting.