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Playing With / Damsel in Distress

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Basic Trope: A female character is kidnapped (or otherwise endangered) and in need of rescue.

  • Straight: Princess Alice is kidnapped by the Big Bad and must be rescued by Bob.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed:
    • Princess Alice would happily kick the asses of her captors and take names afterwards, if she wasn't greatly outnumbered by her kidnappers, who are all heavily armed and have her imprisoned within an inescapable prison. Therefore, she figures it's better to wait for rescue rather than try to break herself out.
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    • Princess Alice is one of many hostages, both male and female, but she is considered the most important one.
  • Justified:
    • Princess Alice is wheelchair-bound, so she's disadvantaged against a physical attack.
    • Princess Alice is physically overpowered not due to weakness on her part, but because her captors have her outnumbered and/or outgunned.
    • Princess Alice lived a sheltered life, and doesn't have the skills to defend herself or escape without guards.
    • Princess Alice's agricultural studies, on work vital to the kingdom, absorb so much of her time that she couldn't train herself to a level of dealing with specifically trained kidnappers, and worse, make her a particularly valued target, both to deprive the kingdom of her skills and to try to force her to use them elsewhere.
    • Princess Alice, a civilian not trained to fight, was trapped by an enemy attack and gave up her chance to escape to get some more children away from the enemy.
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    • Princess Alice was blinded by a surprise attack and kidnapped; she hasn't been trained to work blind.
    • Princess Alice is too lazy to rescue herself.
    • Princess Alice is a child, so her needing rescuing is simply Reality Ensues.
  • Inverted: Alice is the Action Girl who saves anyone in danger.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged: Alice gets herself into a situation where she needs to be rescued. She not only rescues herself, but also her rescuers. Then she pulls a Heroic Sacrifice so they can escape a bigger threat.
  • Averted: Nobody bothers trying to kidnap Princess Alice, because it's not in their best interests to do so. Either it would take too many resources to subdue her, or the effort isn't worth it.
  • Enforced: "The Big Bad needs to be established as such. He has to Kick the Dog in a way that will affect Bob on a personal level and give him a justification to chase after him. Let's have the Big Bad kidnap his girlfriend!"
  • Lampshaded: "I hope Bob arrives soon. I don't like being locked up in here."
  • Invoked:
    • "We need a hostage worth good money. Princess Alice is in no position to defend herself; capture her."
    • There are professional Damsels in Distress who act as judges on aspiring heroes trying to get their license.
  • Exploited:
    • Princess Alice deliberately goes down to the crime-ridden docks to be captured, thus giving the king's men an excuse to break into the house of the high-ranking noble who is the head of the kidnappers' guild.
    • Princess Alice goes into bandit territory to haggle with the bandit chief, knowing he is treacherous — and that her capture will sort out The So-Called Coward and Miles Gloriosus among her suitors.
  • Defied:
    • Princess Alice has been trained in self-defense, so she dispatches those sent to capture her.
    • the Big Bad refuses to have anything to do with Alice, so he leaves her alone.
    • To prevent kidnapping from happening, King Allard has a devoted regiment of bodyguards with Princess Alice at all times.
  • Discussed: "You can't expect Princess Alice to save herself... she's badly outnumbered and she's had no weapons training."
  • Conversed: "By using the damsel in distress plot, the producers can appeal to their target audience; role players."
  • Deconstructed:
    • Princess Alice is kidnapped, and while Bob saves her, the incident has scarred her. She feels helpless and blame herself.
    • After being kidnapped, Alice is abused by her captors in one way or another while they wait for the ransom.
    • Alice has been kidnapped or her mentality was put in distress... and nobody saves her, despite her pleas because of one obstacle or another.
    • Alice is rescued by Anti-Hero Bob, who only rescues her because he wants a reward.
  • Reconstructed:
  • Played For Laughs: Princess Alice getting kidnapped is an Excuse Plot to get the story going, and happens every week, like clockwork. Princess Alice is resigned to this, and greets each kidnapping with a sigh, whiling away her hours in the dungeons.
  • Played For Drama: Princess Alice being kidnapped is a devastating experience for her, Bob (her rescuer and lover), and the people of her kingdom. Each time it happens, Bob goes through much angst over allowing her to be taken again, and Princess Alice gets progressively more insecure in her own power each time she allows herself to be taken, which impedes her abilities as a ruler.
  • Intended Audience Reaction: Considering how often Princess Alice gets kidnapped, the fanbase eventually see her as an either The Scrappy, or The Load... which is what the author/producer intended from the very beginning, in order to get the point across that if you have everyone else save you from the harsh things in life, you won't be able to fend for yourself later on in life. This is reflected in the show as one of the morals.

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