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The Damsel in Distress is a dime a dozen in media since the beginning of time, but now that females are starting to take on a more active role, there's no one left for them to save!
Meet the male equivalent of the Damsel in Distress. He's usually the sidekick to a butt-kicking Action Girl, always getting himself captured for the female lead to save. This may also occur in shows featuring a male protagonist. Even when the male protagonist is a total Badass, they tend to get captured quite a bit... usually to demonstrate their awesome escape skills.
Sometimes regarded as a product of twentieth-century feminism. In fact, it is Older Than They Think. When classifying fairy tales according to the Aarne-Thompson system, one distinguishing mark of several types of tales is that a man (or men) is rescued—generally by the heroine. (He is generally her Love Interest; they are generally her brothers.)
Compared to the Damsel in Distress, the Distressed Dude is somewhat more likely to save himself in the end, to be saved by someone of the same sex, or, if saved by a woman, to be saved by one using her traditional, feminine strengths, rather than by someone using a more direct approach. When the Distressed Dude is rescued by an Action Girl, it's not uncommon for him (or for another character) to describe this as an injury to his masculinity. This may be Played for Laughs, though sometimes the Distressed Dude will learn An Aesop, instead.
The dude may have picked up the Distress Ball. If he was a Badass before getting kidnapped, he may suffer Badass Decay. If he continues to kick ass after being freed, he's Badass in Distress. Compare Non-Action Guy.
- Santa Claus, often leading into a Saving Christmas scenario.
- Children's programming seems to have a liking for a princess in charge of everything with her father (the mother almost never mentioned) apparently locked away. Somewhere.
Anime and Manga
- Mamoru Chiba, a.k.a. Tuxedo Kamen from Sailor Moon, is probably the best example of this in Anime fandom. He started off as helpful and slightly badass, but after he and Usagi entered into a relationship, the poor guy descended rapidly into Distressed Dude territory. This also had some Worf Effect crossover just because the most common method of the villains to demonstrate their evil was to chuck the powerless guy in the tuxedo across the room and make off with him... or, in at least two cases, reprogram him. The evil version of him seems much more powerful.
- The manga version was less so as Naoko gave him actual, useful powers, and he took care of a few villains by himself. But he'd still get kidnapped/killed/brainwashed whenever the plot needed to kick up the drama a few notches. The Stars manga storyline even started off with Galaxia effortlessly killing the poor kid in front of Usagi.
- Mikagami Tokiya in Flame of Recca, despite being a competent fighter and a ruthlessly efficient The Smart Guy, actually doubles as this. He gets tied up TWICE in the series, both probably as an effect of picking up the Distress Ball, or maybe because Good Is Dumb, since this happens once he lets go of his Revenge tendencies and lessened his ruthlessness. In his defense though, after all that, he goes to beat down the most feared member amongst the enemy ranks.
- Done a lot to the title character of Natsume Yuujinchou. He gets captured by youkai and the Matoba clan on more than one occasion. Special mention to his first encounter with the head of the Matoba clan. Natsume is abducted and told that if he tries to run, it will be made so that he can't run, and if he tries to yell, it'll be made so that he can't yell. Special mention also goes to season four, episode six, which plays with the trope before playing it straight: Natsume is trapped in a jar by an ayakashi that wishes to use him as an offering. Initially, the only issue is getting out of the jar since his guardian Nyanko-Sensei protects him, but the ayakashi does eventually make off with Natsume. The episode ends as Natsume's friend runs off trying to save him.
- Slightly justified in that Natsume isn't necessarily weak - he's actually pretty strong for a non-exorcist human, and the fact that nearly everyone wants him (no, not like that!) leads to him getting kidnapped quite often. That he can scatter ayakashi just by punching them is considered quite impressive. Still doesn't save him from this trope, though.
- Yu Yu Hakusho: Kazuma Kuwabara in the Sensui arc.
- Kaito Doumoto of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch should really stop going overseas for surfing tournaments. The first time, he was kidnapped by his long-lost brother Gackto, had his power almost stolen and got used to blackmail Lucia. The second time, he had his memory wiped by Michel and was used to draw Lucia out of hiding and blackmail her again. Thankfully, though she may be The Ditz, she's smarter than that.
- Genjyo Sanzo of Saiyuki gets abducted and restrained by baddies quite often in the anime. Doesn't stop him to be a badass, though. Then again, his original counterpart from Journey to the West gets this treatment way more than Sanzo.
- Not that that's hard given his original counterpart was pretty much a complete wuss compared to Saiyuki's loud, violent, arrogant, chain smoking, gambling, foul mouthed, violent version who on average threatens to kill his companions at least twice a chapter. Oh and did I mention foul mouthed and violent?
- Negi Springfield of Mahou Sensei Negima! once got held captive by his fellow mages who wanted to turn him into an ermine and deport him to the Magic World for failing to maintain The Masquerade. He managed to get out of his cell, but his True Companions (mostly Action Girls) had to bust into the enemy base to get him out.
- In one arc of the Soul Eater manga, Death the Kidd seems to be playing this role after a Collector of the Strange decides to add him to his collection. He manages to break out by himself, but only after a fight with Black Star which snaps him out of insanity.
- Parodied with North Italy of Axis Powers Hetalia, who often gets in trouble and derails his partners' plans.
Italy: (over the phone) Germany! Germany! I'm in North Africa right now and I CAN'T TIE MY SHOELACES!
- This reaches a new level of absurdity when Italy needs rescuing from falling into a pit dug by "that jackass Britain". It wasn't an elaborate or hidden trap, it was just an ordinary hole dug in the ground.
- His brother South Italy plays it a bit straighter as a child, when Turkey kidnaps him. His boss/caretaker Spain goes Papa Wolf on Turkey. In return, Spain falls gravely sick in another strip and the adult South Italy searches for a "cure", even having recourse to The Mafia to try help him.
- As a child, North Italy's Team Dad Austria played it straight and had to be bailed out by Switzerland. Ironically, the one who "bullied" Austria the most was Hungary... who would become his Ninja Maid, and later his wife.
- Two recent strips feature England as a parody of this trope, trying to escape from Germany and the Italies and hilariously failing.
- In Paint It, White! most of the heroes find themselves immobilized after they are turned into Pictonians. Ironically, it's Italy who saves them at that time.
- Poor, poor Keiki from The Twelve Kingdoms...
- Also Enki, specially in the last anime arc.
- Used in a Bleach Omake to Ichigo and Uryuu when Orihime and Rangiku want them to test a boiling purple thing. Ichigo also seemed to get restrained a lot in the beginning of the series.
- In the Bount arc, Ishida was whacked with the Distress Ball and ended up this way.
- Spectacularly subverted in the Zanpakutou filler arc. People thought that General Yamamoto had been captured and sealed inside a powerful kido barrier, but he sealed himself willingly to protect his powerful zanpakutou from Muramasa. And then, the barrier was broken by his "rescuers" and Ryujin Jakka was taken away. Nice Job Breaking It Heroes.
- Mokuba Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh
- "Mokuba was supposed to be there with me, but he had been kidnapped for the fiftieth time that week so his seat was empty."
- Little Kuriboh even saw fit to put together a montage of a few scenes in which he was kidnapped.
- "Mokuba was supposed to be there with me, but he had been kidnapped for the fiftieth time that week so his seat was empty."
Kaiba [thinking]: Hmm. Perhaps I should consider keeping him on a leash.
- Astonishingly averted in Yu-Gi-Oh! R, where nobody even considers grabbing the kid.
- Portgas D. Ace from One Piece is definitely this trope. Except that his younger brother Luffy is the one rescuing him, not a girl. Luffy succeeded in freeing him. Unfortunately, it was in vain as soon Ace took a lava punch from Admiral Akainu to save Luffy and actually died.
- Kyrie from World Destruction, so many times it's not funny. It's to be noted that he has the potential to defend himself but he never does.
- Tragic from Mythic Quest is threatened in exchange for Aramusha's good behavior so often that the one time someone claims to have kidnapped her, he knows they're bluffing, because that's not how things work. Usually this is just an excuse to have Tragic and Aramusha agree not to use their Game Breaker powers for the duration of a fight, but once John is actually kidnapped and Anaya has to go rescue him.
- While he doesn't get caught every single episode... well, if there's a Wing Boy liable to get captured, that's Duo Maxwell. Flanderized to death by fandom via utter Wimpification.
- Ciel of Black Butler.[context?]
- Rock in Black Lagoon. Revy at one point makes a sarcastic quip when his latest kidnapper turns out to be a Japanese high-school girl.
- Alviss of MAR, in the anime.[context?]
- Taki from Yellow gets this a bit, although it happens to Goh at least once.[context?]
- Change 123: Played straight in the Chapter 2 where Hibiki eventually rescues Kosukegawa. A variation happens during the "Zero revealing" plot arc where Kosukegawa's kidnapping serves only as a bait for HiFuMi to lure them into a Xanatos-style trap.
- Mamoru Amami from GaoGaiGar. specifically in it's epilogue OVA, FINAL. When trying to make the preperations that would allow 3G to win against the 11 Planetary Lords of Sol, Mamoru created a replicant of himself to use as a decoy so he could get to the G-Crystal without being caught by the Sol Lords, said replicant is...very gut-wrenchingly chained and given mind-altering drugs by Palparepa. It's pretty scary, honestly, and adds more to Mamoru's woobie factor.
- Lawrence sometimes takes this part in Spice and Wolf. In both arcs of the first season, Holo has to save his butt (or the business deal at hand) by returning to her true form, a giant wolf, and kicking around lots of thugs. The situations in the second season are a bit more complicated, however.
- Shokupanman, frequently, in Anpanman. And by frequently, I mean all the time, by everyone. Even though he's also a superhero and one of the Power Trio.
- Yuki from Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru often qualifies. Most of the time, the other characters are protecting or saving him.
- Yuuen from Wild Rock is small, weak, and looks like a girl, and basically helpless against most giant prehistoric animals. Luckily for him Emba's the opposite.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion has Shinji Ikari, a teenage boy forced to fight in a giant robot with zero training or experience who also suffers from horrible anxiety. It makes sense that he'd get in trouble and need rescuing quite a bit.
- Subverted in episode 88 of Ranma ½. The Amazon sisters say that they're holding Ranma captive, but it turns out that they simply gave him a meal to keep him busy.
- Wonder Woman's old boyfriend Steve Trevor also got into a fair share of trouble.
- Her new boyfrriend, Tom Tresser a.k.a. Nemesis, is generally portrayed as more competent. But he's still not in WW's league, and thus still needs saving on occasion.
- Dick Grayson used to get captured and tied up a lot during his old Robin days, in order to play the Sidekick in danger and get rescued by Batman. Now, as Nightwing, this has evolved into a tendency to end up bound and stripped down to his underpants by the Villain. Not that we're complaining.
- Lampshaded in (IIRC) The Dark Night Returns comic, when Joker refers to "Robin, the Boy Hostage".
- Hey, Dick isn't the only one who gets tied up. Even Batman gets it sometimes.
- Pick an issue of Will Eisner's The Spirit. Any issue.
- Y: The Last Man: Yorick Brown frequently needs to be rescued by 355. And in the "Safeword" arc, the bondage gets... rather literal.
- As a magician Yorik is a trained escape artist, so he can often free himself.
- Getafix is sometimes captured by the Romans or Goths, because they want his Super Serum potion.
- Rictor's first appearance in comics consisted of his being saved from the Right, who'd kidnapped him in order to use his powers to wreak havoc on San Francisco. Since then, in his two stints in X-Factor and his time in X-Force, he's often the go-to guy to be kidnapped.
- In the climax of one issue of Runaways, Chase is captured and held at knifepoint by Geoffrey Wilder, while trying to see if Nico and Xavin escaped from the burning planetarium. He's rescued by Gertrude. Unfortunately, Geoffrey decides to just kill Gert instead, making it a Heroic Sacrifice on her part.
- "The Search for the Lost Husband": The heroine breaks a prohibition and her husband is lost to magic. She must track him down and rescue him. Tales of this type include:
- "The Girl Helps the Hero Flee": a hero falls under the villain's power. The heroine, often the villain's daughter, tells him how to escape the impossible tasks, or performs the magic to allow his escape, and usually both. Afterward, he often loses his memory of her and she must disenchant him.
- "Katie Crackernuts" saves a prince from The Fair Folk.
- In "The True Sweetheart", the heroine must find the prince, who has been enchanted into forgetting her, and break the spell.
- "The Brothers As Birds": the heroine's brothers have been turned into birds, and she must rescue them. This can range from a quest to making magical shirts to disenchant them, remaining silent the whole time.
- "The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird": After they have been abandoned and grew up, the heroine's brothers are turned to stone. She must follow them to restore them.
- In "The Death of Koshchei the Deathless", Koshchei chops Prince Ivan into little pieces, throws them into a barrel, and throws the barrel into the sea. His brothers-in-law must retrieve the barrel and fetch the Water of Death to put him back together and the Water of Life to revive him.
- Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen": Kay is rescued by Gerda, who, before she finds him, obtains some features of an Action Girl. Princess Eliza does the same (though in the non-action way) to her brothers, transformed into wild swans by their stepmother. Christopher Booker goes into great detail on the symbolism behind his bondage, and the symbolism inherent in the heroine coming to free him.
- Hansel from "Hansel and Gretel" is put in a cage to be fattened, and it is up to his sister Gretel to kill the witch and rescue him.
- There is a genre of fanfiction called "whump", which almost exclusively involves having the bad guys kidnapping one of the guys and doing painful things to them, often leaving them emotionally scarred, all so that they will be saved in the end.
- A longstanding Running Gag in Blake's 7 fandom states that there are only two types of Avon fanfic; slash and trash — with "trash" being an example of this trope.
- The Good Omens fandom seems to have a thing for Aziraphale being dragged into Hell for some torture scenes with the option of making Aziraphale Fall. This got parodied in Manchester Lost, where Poor Aziraphale got it so bad we only got to see what was going through his head as Lucifer tore off his wings, which was an incredibly fluffy flashback.
- The That Guy With The Glasses fandom has been making the Critic the Distressed Dude long before he got captured canonically. Mostly justified, seeing as how the fics usually also have Ask That Guy in power and that usually means no happy fun times for the Critic. But other times it's just because he's so very pretty when suffering.
- In the Galaxy Rangers story Chrysalis, Niko was the only one who managed to escape the Supervillain Lair—meaning she had three Distressed Dudes to rescue on a return trip.
- How much Lord of the Rings fan fiction has either Aragorn or Legolas in danger, kidnapped, tortured or out of commission so the other has to rescue him?
- Parodied in this adult but fairly cracky Doctor Who fic. The Doctor's tendency to get tied up/handcuffed/etc. by the villain of the week means bondage no longer does anything for him.
- In the Final Fantasy XII fanfic Touch and Go, Balthier gets kidnapped, and almost succeeds in freeing himself.
- This crops up quote a lot in Axis Powers Hetalia fanfiction. They tend to fall into one of two camps:
- The nations are discovered by the public at large or some shady organization, and are abducted and imprisoned. This usually leads to some sort of experimentation on them.
- One or more of the nations kidnaps another or several nations and holds them hostage, usually for some dark and disturbing purposes. This can be used to represent historic events, like an occupation or invasion. Beatrice The Golden (NSFW) has written some of the more graphic ones, including Debt and 'My Little Chicken.
Films — Animation
- Princess Aurora/Briar Rose is the Damsel in Distress in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, but her boyfriend Prince Philip does spend a while as a Distressed Dude when the Genre Savvy Maleficient captures and chains him to keep the guy from giving Aurora the True Love's Kiss required to break her Convenient Coma. The Fairies have to break him out and give him the weapons he needed to win his fight.
- In Tangled, it's always Flynn who has to be rescued by Rapunzel, not the other way round! Even when Rapunzel gets Bound and Gagged toward the end of the film, she's able to save Flynn from his mortal knife wound by working off her gag and begging Mother Gothel to let her heal him, which gives Flynn a chance to pull off his would-be Heroic Sacrifice.
Films — Live-Action
- James Bond seems to get himself captured almost every movie. Hence the title that this trope used to have: James Bondage.
- That iconic Goldfinger scene where James is strapped down to a table with a giant laser slowly making its way toward his groin.
- Bond is captured by the North Koreans in Die Another Day and spends the title sequence being beaten and tortured.
- The recent Casino Royale has the poor guy tied naked to a chair and whacked repeatedly in the groin by a knotted rope.
- The Scaled Up antagonist of Enchanted intends to grab the female lead as a Damsel in Distress, but the male lead makes the mistake of proclaiming that this will happen "over my dead body". The resultant Gender Flip does not go without lampshading.
- This happens to a wounded Hannibal King in Blade Trinity when he gets captured by vampires.
- The last twenty minutes of Audition.
- Rescuing Han Solo in Return of the Jedi.
- Indiana Jones. Tied to a light pole in Raiders of the Lost Ark, tied to a chair in The Last Crusade, kidnapped and stuffed in a car trunk and tied to a chair in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull...
- Practically Lampshaded with this exchange between Marion and Indy about them both being kidnapped
Indy: Oh, Marion. You had to go and get yourself kidnapped.
- In the first Matrix movie, Agent Smith and a few other agents ambushed Morpheus's crew in an old building. The rest of the crew (except for the dearly departed Mouse) escape, but Morpheus was abducted. With him in his custody, Agent Smith attempted to interrogate him into giving them the codes to get into Zion's mainframe. Luckily, Neo and Trinity were on their way to rescue him.
- Happens at the end of |Mission Impossible III, after Tom Cruise's character electrocutes himself to short out the bomb in his head (yes, really), the Love Interest he just rescued has to revive him, but before doing so has to take out the Big Bad and his mooks all by her lonesome while the hero lies prone and unconscious.
- The A-Team: In what's probably a nod to the original show (see below), Face is captured by bad guys and tied up in tires while wearing nothing but an open bathrobe.
- Also Hannibal at the very beginning of the movie, getting punched by two corrupt Mexican cops while handcuffed. Unfortunately for their boss, they're dumb enough to leave him alive. This ends badly for them.
- Clint Eastwood's character has gotten captured and beat up to varying degrees of seriousness in all three Dollars Trilogy films. He's escaped from them in a variety of ways, ranging from his own quick thinking, Deus Ex Machina, or Bond Villain Stupidity.
- This happens to the character of Kale in the movie Disturbia, and his Love Interest Ashley rescues him.
- "Joyride 2 Dead Ahead" is exactly this trope. When the character of Bobby is kidnapped by Rusty Nails, his fiance Melissa must save him. Later on the other male protagonist is kidnapped.
- The eponymous Mystery Team has this happen to them a lot.
- In Kick-Ass, Dave and Big Daddy get tortured on streaming video, before Hit Girl arrives to stop the show.
- In one of the less known fragments of Le Morte d'Arthur, Elaine of Astolat practically saves Lancelot's life by finding him and healing his injuries.
- Nancy Drew's boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, gets kidnapped a lot. Nancy and Ned took turns getting kidnapped and coming to the other one's rescue.
- Lee in the Smoke and Shadows trilogy by Tanya Huff. In this case, he's Tony's Mary Jane. Lee gets very tired of being the damsel by book 3. Also in the fourth book of the Blood series, Henry, the vampire is captured and held prisoner by mad scientists and it is up to Vicky and Mike to rescue him. In the fifth book it is Mike who is captured and bound, but since he is rescued by two vampires, I do not know if that would count.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden seems to end up manacled, bound or otherwise restrained once a book at least.
- Prince Rilian in C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair.
- And Edmund, between Jadis revealing her true colors and his rescue by Aslan's troupe.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Brothers of the Snake, a Space Marine killed another and claimed that the dead one had been touched with Chaos. There being no evidence of this, he asks to be exposed to the sea serpents of their world: if they ate him, he would be proven innocent. However, evidence turns up of his innocence, first, and a squad of Marines come to save him, killing one of the great serpents.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, the Ghosts' Revenge raid on the Jantine Patricians is partly to see if they can find Rawne alive. They do, and he is being tortured, so the raid quickly turns to a rescue. Similarly, at the end of Only In Death, Mkoll and Eszarah rescue Gaunt as soon as they find him alive.
- In George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin, Irene uses a magic thread given her by her great-great-grandmother to rescue Curdie when the goblins have him trapped in the mines.
- Arguably, Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, both the novel and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The entire purpose of his character seems to be to get caught by the Phantom, who then offers the female lead a Scarpia Ultimatum for his life.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess of Mars, John Carter is captive to Green Martians twice, once on his arrival, and once after he enabled Dejah Thoris's escape with You Shall Not Pass.
- In The Gods of Mars, John Carter and Tars Tarkas are trapped in a Mobile Maze with banths that could kill them; Thuvia saves them. Later, John Carter and his (male) companions must escape captivity among the black pirates. Later still, John Carter must rescue Tars Tarkas from the Warhoon.
- In Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Carthoris and Kar Komak are captured first by green men and then by great apes.
- In The Chessman of Mars, Turan is captured by the city of Matador. Tara tries to shield him by denying knowledge of him.
"You did not guess," she asked, "that it was my lips alone and not my heart that denied you? O-Tar had ordered that I die, more because I was a companion of Ghek than because of any evidence against me, and so I knew that if I acknowledged you as one of us, you would be slain, too."
- In Wen Spencer's Endless Blue, Paige finds Turk bound by spider web on the civ raft. He pleads with her to kill him if she can't free him; she has to leave him for a time in hopes of getting what she's after, plunging him in despair, but returns to rescue him.
- In almost every single adventure, at least one of the Hardy Boys (including their friends and father) would wind up captured, bound and gagged, and need rescuing. The original author, who reportedly hated writing "juvenile fiction", may have been putting this in on purpose, as a dig at his editors. Whatever works. Many, many bondage fans grew up reading those books.
- Ian Fleming's Moonraker has James Bond and Gala Brand (not Holly Goodhead) tied up at a missile silo to be left and fried at (London-bound) takeoff. Bond gets villain Hugo Drax distracted by dredging up ugly memories of Drax's sorry past (and getting himself thrashed brutally), to where Drax leaves them with a running blowtorch available to undo their bonds.
- In the first Kingdom Keepers book, there's a subplot about Maybeck getting kidnapped and needing to be rescued.
- In John C. Wright's The Phoenix Exultant, Daphne Tercius goes into exile herself to bring Phaethon what he needs to escape rescue. Later, when faced with a problem, he asks her what to do: she came to rescue him, and he needs rescue.
- Ruggiero, a heroic knight in many medieval French Chivalric Romances, was once held prisoner by a wizard until rescued by his future wife, the knight Bradamante.
- In Patricia A. McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Tanis is trapped in the Lost Woods. Where a woman reveals that the omninous Hunter is her consort, trapped in a dire spell.
- In Robert E. Howard's "A Witch Shall Be Born", Conan the Barbarian is crucified. He even needs someone to get him down.
- In "Shadows in The Moonlight", Olivia rescues him from pirates.
- In The Hour of the Dragon, Zenobia rescues him from the Evil Sorcerer.
- In "The Scarlet Citadel", he manages an escape because a man taunted him with the keys got eaten by a snake and drops the keys. He also finds Pelias prisoner to a Man-Eating Plant and rescues him.
- In "Beyond the Black River," Balthus.
- In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Prince Rupert is captured in the opening scene.
- In George Eliot's Silly Novels by Lady Novelists, she complains of a work supposed to be instructive because "the hero is a Jewish captive".
- Luthien saves Beren in The Silmarillion and in Tolkien's other tellings of the story. Another example is the story of Elwing and her husband Earendil.
- Septimus in Physik.
- In The Light Fantastic we get a conventional scene of the Barbarian Hero rescuing a Virgin Sacrifice. And then, because it's Badass Grandpa Cohen, his back gives out and the sacrifice has to take him to safety.
- Verence in Lords and Ladies and Roland in The Wee Free Men are both captured by the Queen of The Fair Folk and rescued by the heroines. With as many Tam Lin references as seems appropriate.
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Lucian is a captive at the opening. Father Matthew has to give him a way to escape and rouse him from despondency to get him to take it.
- In the climatic scene of Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, first part of The Millennium Trilogy, the male protagonist Mikael Blomquist is captured by a mass murderer, locked in an underground torture room, chained, stripped naked, humiliated and explicitly threatened with rape, when his female partner, the Action Girl Lisbeth Salander, come in to save him, chase and destroy the villain.
- In the second last chapter of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water and has to be rescued by Pooh and Christopher Robin.
- Michael in the Knight and Rogue Series. Even though he's the stronger of the two main characters, he's also the one with almost no sense of self presvation or legal rights.
- The title character in the show Chuck, featuring a hapless electronics-store worker who gets thrown into the world of spies and danger. He tends to get thrown into car trunks quite a bit, forcing him to await rescue from his Action Girl partner.
- Casey and Sarah also get captured a lot and need to be rescued. More than one would expect, given that they are the trained professional elite spies and Chuck is the schmuck they're supposed to be guarding, but he is the title character... And he never stays in the car when they tell him to...
Chuck: "It's never safer in the car!"
- 24's Jack Bauer gets captured and tied up several times a season. Of course, as mentioned above, it's usually to prove how much of a Badass he is when he gets free.
- MacGyver is legendary for this, with escape skills surpassing even those of Jack Bauer—and sometimes Houdini.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: James T. Kirk not only gets manacled, but stripped to the waist and rubbed down with oil. Several times. Fan Service, anyone?
- Quite often, Spock and/or McCoy would get captured with him, also. But they never got the oil treatment, though we did get to see Spock shirtless and whipped in "Patterns of Force".
- Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a tendency, eventually Lampshaded, to get Chained to a Bed by the Monster of the Week and get rescued by Buffy.
- Hell, this even happened to Angel once. Nearly an entire episode of Angel tied up, shirtless, and whimpering.
- This happened to Spike once, in the Season 4 episode "Something Blue," where he is chained in Giles's bathtub and looking pouty. Now, why on earth would they do that?
- And again (but quite a bit rougher) in the season 5 episode "Intervention," where he is captured and tortured by the Big Bad. He halfway escapes (by goading the Big Bad into literally kicking him out of his chains) and then is rescued the rest of the way when Buffy and the Scoobies arrive. Ironically, they were actually intending to kill him to keep him from talking.
- Oh, Spike does this all the damn time. In particular; a good chunk of season 7 features him chained to a wall, at least 10 episodes on-again-off-again chained.
- This trope was also lampshaded in the Musical Episode "Once More, With Feeling". In the opening number, Buffy rescues a tied-up young man with a distinct resemblance to Fabio, then brushes him off:
Buffy: Will I stay this way forever? Sleepwalk through my life's endeavor?
- This seems to be a very popular trope in the Whedonverse. In Firefly, Wash and Mal get tied up and tortured by Niska and are saved by Zoe and the crew.
- Joxer, the Loser Protagonist warrior wannabe and part-time sidekick to Xena and Gabrielle in Xena: Warrior Princess.
- Similarly, in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (the series that Xena was the spin-off of), Hercules' sidekick Iolaus, while a warrior in his own right, is regularly put into the role of the Distressed Dude, beaten, killed (a couple of times) and in need to be rescued by his big buddy Herc. When you're up against enemies who can present a semi-credible threat to Hercules, after all, merely being a competent warrior doesn't quite cut it.
- Both of the guys on Supernatural have been tied/chained up so often that sooner or later you start to think someone on the writing team has a fetish.
- The X-Files: Fox Mulder ends up in this role a lot, though this was more due to his inability to think before charging in than a need to show off Scully's competency. Scully's awesomeness was kind of self-evident.
- Tony Hill from Wire in The Blood has a tendency to get into this kind of thing.
- Like Supernatural, Smallville also had this in its early years to the point of being female Fan Service. Ads for the premiere showed Clark tied to a cross with his shirt ripped off and a big "S" painted on his chest in what seemed to be blood.
- Not to mention during the first 4 seasons or so, Lex needed Clark to save him as many times, or perhaps even more, than Clark's official love interest, Lana!
- In Doctor Who, the Doctor gets tied up all the freaking time.
- The First Doctor is help prisoner by A Disgrace to Blackbeard in The Smugglers. He does trick and overpower the pirate guarding him and the innkeeper, though. You Have Failed Me... ensues.
- The Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors were tied up and tortured far more than their modern counterparts. There was only one Third Doctor serial in which he wasn't tortured, strangled, or held in bondage. Plus, the Third Doctor is the only Doctor to have been tied up and gagged too. (The Fifth Doctor came close with being blindfolded and chained in The Caves of Androzani). This may have been due to his companion Jo Grant. Originally written as an Emma Peel-type character, she became The Ditz in a miniskirt instead, but one aspect of her backstory—her training in escapology—was kept.
- The Third Doctor also holds the current record for "number of times entrapped/bound to a wall by alien tentacles". (Twice, incidentally.)
- Five definitely spent more time sprawled on the floor (or on his knees, or strapped to something, or being manhandled) than he did, well, standing upright.
- The Sixth Doctor didn't do any better. Out of his 11 stories, he was tied up or locked up (and held hostage once) in six of his stories. In fact, he was tied up three times alone in The Mysterious Planet.
- Even Eight gets in on the action in the Made for TV Movie, what with the Master chaining him up to steal his regenerations, and putting this weird spiky crown-thing on his head that looks like a cross between something out of The Passion of the Christ and A Clockwork Orange. Fridge Logic kicks in when you have to wonder why the hell he had all that stuff on the TARDIS in the first place.
- The Ninth Doctor seemed to get cornered by enemies much more often than the other Doctors of the 2005 revival. And he seems to be the only Doctor who has been chained and shirtless (concurrently) in an episode ("Dalek"). You'd think one of the writers had a Fetish for Christopher Eccleston or something.
- The Tenth Doctor was chained to a chair designed for use as a restraint and very thoroughly gagged by the Master at the same time in the The End of Time Part 2. Bonus points for fleeing the scene (down a flight of stairs!) with the Doctor still tied to the wheeled chair, finally un-gagged and screaming bloody murder the whole way to stop and untie him first. More bondage happened in "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords", "Voyage of the Damned", "Midnight" and of course, "Planet of the Ood," much to the delight of fangirls. Ten got his fair share of it in the comics as well. Here and here are just two such examples. He also got handcuffed by River Song at the end of Forest Of The Dead. Why did she have handcuffs? "Spoilers!" No really, spoilers: either the Doctor told her to, or she learned they were used before by her mother. Although as a much more simple explanation, Brains and Bondage just seems to be River's favourite trope.
- The Eleventh Doctor has been getting in on the action from the get go, getting handcuffed to the heater by Amy Pond right away in The Eleventh Hour, and being strapped into the Pandorica by most of his usual foes in "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang".
- Let us not limit the discussion to the Doctor's incarnations. Many a male companion or innocent bystander got this.
- Steven is taken captive, tied up, or otherwise incapacitated at least once per serial, on average.
- In The War Machines, Ben is captured by the enemy and saved only because Polly, under mind-control, insists that he be used to work; he escapes only because Polly, despite the mind control lets him. (Later she, still mind controlled, is baffled as to why, barely managing to remember they were friends.) More subtly, most of the mind control victims are male.
- In State of Decay, Adric is captured to be made a vampire.
- In Vengeance on Varos, the Doctor and Peri arrive just in the nick of time to save a man being executed for his work in La Résistance.
- In The Caves of Androzani, the commander's aide was taken captive by the villain of the piece, who kept him about for someone to talk to.
- In Enlightenment, Turlough was chained up by Captain Wrack.
- In Last Of The Time Lords, Jack was chained up, tortured and repeatedly killed by the Master for a full year.
- At least one of protagonists of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. would usually be tied up by the the villain(s) in just about every episode, often while confined in a Death Trap.
- Star Trek: Enterprise. Captain Archer got thrown into a cell and/or beaten up by interrogators so many times it became a series cliché.
- For being a former Marine and the head CSI of the series, Mac Taylor from CSI New York has a nasty habit of being duped and/or captured by the very criminals he's trying to capture.
- Danny and Adam both got this is the season three finale ("Snow Day").
- Nigel Bailey of Relic Hunter epitomizes this trope. Sydney rides to his rescue at least every other episode.
- NCIS also has a designated "damsel" in Tony DiNozzo, though he usually rescues himself.
- Rimmer in the Red Dwarf episode "Terrorform":
"My god, are you gonna take a flying leap?"
- The boys of Stargate SG-1 invoke this trope fairly often. Daniel winds up kidnapped disproportionately often in the first season or two. He's also the Woobie, so...
- Criminal Minds: Spencer Reid. He ends up separated from the rest of the team and in danger very frequently, especially in early seasons. In one such instance he was actually held hostage and ended up addicted to painkillers, he's also been caught in a cult compound while investigating child abuse (along with another agent), he and Hotch were trapped in a cell with a serial killer during the guard's shift change, and in one episode he didn't start out in danger, but ended up in it during an attempt to rescue the female agent trapped on a train with an unstable man.
- This has gotten so bad, Matthew Gray Gubler (Reid's actor) has commented on it:
- Intrepid reporter Mike Axford in the The Green Hornet is kidnapped and held as some kind of leverage tool on the Hornet on pretty much every third episode. Lampshaded lightly in "Eat, Drink, and Be Dead" at the closer when Mike insisted on a raise after being kidnapped yet again.
- Despite his status as God Mode Sue for the series, Tommy Oliver from Power Rangers is a magnet for getting his powers stolen/getting Brainwashed and Crazy/turning into a Sealed Good in a Can. Currently, his most egregious brush with this trope happens in Power Rangers Dino Thunder, where he is frozen in amber, stuck in his Black Dino Ranger form, turned invisible, and put into a deathly coma, all in that order, in the course of 15 episodes.
- The Prisoner episode "The Girl Who Was Death" plays inexplicably like a loopy spy-adventure movie. Number Six is eventually caught in the villain's lair and is bound to a chair.
The Girl: Mountaineering rope — it'll hold an elephant!
- Will Zimmerman from Sanctuary constantly gets kidnapped or stuck in a situation where Helen Magnus (and sometimes her team as well) generally has to come to his rescue. So much so that some fans have even dubbed him the "Dude in Distress".
- Will Tippin in Alias. The first real incident was in "Rendezvous". Will, a Muggle who is gradually losing his status via investigating SD-6, and Sydney saves him in France. He doesn't know about her high-kicking spy job and screams when he sees her. He is then kidnapped by Julian Sark. Will ends up in China being tortured by a Depraved Dentist, and then gets rescued by Jack. Jack later needs to be rescued by Sydney from Sloane's replacement Rutger Hauer. Marshal is up next when he is tortured by the same Depraved Dentist, who threatens to fill Marshal's guts with a gel that will expand and crush his internal organs, and then threatens Marshal's mother. Vaughn and Dixon are also rescued by Sydney to a lesser extent a couple of times.
- Face got captured more than anyone else on The A-Team. Bad guys loved to tie him up.
- Demetri Noh on FlashForward, who was captured and placed in a ridiculously elaborate Death Trap so that the crazy villain could test his timey wimey theories. It took a combination of his FBI partner Mark carrying the Hero Ball and his girlfriend pulling an I Did What I Had to Do in order to save him.
- Stephen Colbert chains himself to his desk in an early 2010 episode during a word segment where Obama's advocating bipartisanship - the word was 'siren song' and he was kindly demonstrating.
- Peter Bishop from Fringe is constantly getting rescued or saved by Olivia Dunham.
- Both Sherlock Holmes and John Watson get this, more than once. Usually one will end up coming to the other's rescue. Unless Sherlock leaves him waiting outside, so he's alone in the flat when the Chinese assassin attacks him.
- In season 2 of Veronica Mars, when Logan gets kidnapped by the PCH gang.
- Once Upon a Time reveals, near the end of the pilot, Prince Charming stuck in a coma much the same way Snow White was at the beginning when he rescued her.
- On Leverage, Hardison often fills this role given his status as a Non-Action Guy.
- In Torchwood, their archivist Ianto Jones spends a fair bit of time getting caught unawares, threatened and tied up in the first series, but after Jack leaves between series 1 and 2 he gets more field experience and avoids this trope more frequently.
- Happens pretty much every second episode in The Mentalist - Jane gets himself into all sorts of scrapes; but as he's not allowed a gun and has no physical defence training whatsoever, he has to resort to reasoning with his enemies until Lisbon and the team arrive.
- Minwoo from Metal Heart gets kidnapped by Nova in order to use him as bait for Sia.
- Child Ballads:
- In the Child Ballad "Tam Lin" (Child #39), Fair Janet rescues Tam Lin from The Fair Folk.
- In the Child Ballad "The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward", the young lord saves his life by promising to never to tell that his servant robbed him; the servant turns him into a servant, until the daughter of a local lord figures out how to get the story out of him. (Gender Flip version of the Damsel in Distress in The Goose-girl).
- In the Child Ballad "Geordie" (Child #209), a woman pleads for her husband Geordie who is condemned to hang, convincing the King to commute the sentence to a fine. In the Scottish version sung by Maddy Prior and June Tabor (as the Silly Sisters), she doesn't merely plead—she brings all the fighting men of Clan Gordon ready for action, to make sure the King listens. In Joan Baez's version, presumably related to others called "The Death of Geordie", her plea fails. See also http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/C209.html
- There are versions of Child Ballad #95, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows", where the condemned is male, ransomed by his female lover.
- The video of the Brandon Flowers song - Crossfire has the guy repeatedly rescued from ninjas by the female leader.
- In all fairness, most guys would probably be willing to be captured over and over if Charlize Theron is the one rescuing them.
- Older Than Dirt: In what may be the first recorded example of this trope, a central point of Ancient Egyptian religion is the rescue of Osiris by Isis, after he's killed by his brother Set.
- Prometheus, rescued by Hercules—eventually. This has featured in literature from Prometheus Bound (attributed to Aeschylus) to Percy Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.
- Although Theseus was ready to face the Minotaur alone, he would have never found his way back through the Labyrinth if not for the trick Ariadne taught him.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, this happens twice. Once when Edgeworth is "arrested" for supposedly murdering another passenger on a first class transcontinental flight and once when Edgeworth goes to deliver some ransom money to some kidnappers and gets taken hostage himself. Both times he ends up with his hands either tied or handcuffed behind his back, and he has to talk other people into setting him free.
- Most gamers expecting to see Damsel in Distress Ashley getting the first bondage scene of Resident Evil 4 were surprised to see a bound and gagged Luis Sera pop out of a closet near the end of Chapter 1.
- Metal Gear Solid games almost always have a scene where the protagonist is captured, tortured, then given the means to escape by a woman (okay, Otacon or Gray Fox in Metal Gear Solid 1, but they're Snake's Not Love Interests and probably qualify).
- Metal Gear Solid 2 has Olga free Raiden, with Snake on standby to give him his clothes back later.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, means to escape are given by The Boss, but you can flirt it out of Johnny instead if you want.
- Elisa spends most of Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops prying Big Boss out of some trap or another, not just during torture.
- Not to mention, several scientists get kidnapped in the series, mostly male.
- Both of Jade's (male) sidekicks in Beyond Good and Evil have the nasty habit of getting themselves into trouble and needing Jade (female) to rescue them. Torture? Poisoning by an evil alien virus? Kidnapping? Death itself (or not)? Even in ordinary combat, not necessitated by the plot, they seem incapable of getting themselves up if pinned by a certain type of enemy.
- Although Jade is freed from Naughty Tentacles by Pey'J at the start of the game.
- Mario, Luigi and Toad become these in Super Princess Peach.
- Mario and Luigi (along with Wario) in Super Mario 64 DS actually start out trapped by Bowser. The player starts off as Yoshi and has to rescue them first in order to unlock them.
- As of late, Luigi seems to have been put in the unenviable position of 'Character everybody would rather play as'. In an effort to make players work for their reward, he's been made unavailable throughout several of the recent games. The easy way to accomplish this is, of course, kidnapping.
- Mario in Luigi's Mansion
- There's a lot of these in the Fire Emblem series.
- Fire Emblem (a.k.a. Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame) has Nils the Bard and his Distressed Damsel sister Ninian. They do join the fight... but as Spoony Bard types (they're damn useful once you get the hang of it, though).
- Let's not forget Raven and Lucius' own brief stunt as Distressed Dudes. When they appear in either Eliwood's or Hector's path, it's in a cell of Lyn's castle. Raven subverts the trope as he forces the guards let him go and check what goes on, becoming an enemy unit that you have to recruit with his sister Priscilla; Lucius, however, stays in the cell until a freshly recruited Raven goes to recruit him.
- Genealogy of Holy War has Prince Shanan of Isaac, Ayra's nephew and protegée. Though the second part, settled 17 years in the future, shows him and his best friend Oifaye as adults who have taken SEVERAL levels in badass. Said second part also gives us the priest Corple, held hostage to force his adoptive father Hannibal to work for the enemy. Once the issue is resolved, they both join the group.
- Path of Radiance featured the Heron Prince Reyson held hostage as a pet by a crazy noble. Ike's mercenaries are hired to rescue him. He would be a Spoony Bard if he wasn't, quite frankly, one of the most powerful utility characters in the game. He also essentially rescues himself before Ike's mercenaries arrive.
- Early on in Shadow Dragon, new character Gordin is bound and gagged in an enemy uniform in hopes that Marth will mistakenly kill him and be branded a murderous tyrant. You can choose to rescue him. Oh, and the villain behind it even calls him "Gaggles", which is now his Fan Nickname.
- Subverted in Sacred Stones, where Erika is convinced that her brother Ephraim is being held captive. He got away off-screen and comes back to rescue her when she comes to rescue him. They proceed to team up and kick the ass of the guy whose idea it was to start those rumors.
- Prince Mildain of Etruria a.k.a. Elphin the Bard's backstory in Sword of Seals has him catching a HUGE Distress Ball and becoming one of these, after a complot against his life almost works. He's saved by the dancer Lalam and manages to go Faking the Dead, becoming the local Spoony Bard and joining Roy's group.
- Fire Emblem (a.k.a. Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame) has Nils the Bard and his Distressed Damsel sister Ninian. They do join the fight... but as Spoony Bard types (they're damn useful once you get the hang of it, though).
- Squall at the start of the second disc of Final Fantasy VIII.
- Fon Master Ion from Tales of the Abyss manages to get kidnapped a grand total of four times in the course of a single game.
- Richter Belmont from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night when, after having rescued Annette in Rondo of Blood/Dracula X, he vanishes suddenly and mysteriously four years later. One year later, Annette's sister Maria sets out to rescue him.
- The plot of Marl Kingdom really kicks off once the handsome prince Ferdinand is kidnapped and turned to stone (unfortunately, not in that order), leaving the heroine to save him.
- Similarly, Croix of La Pucelle Tactics spends the last chapter of the game kidnapped and strapped to a sacrificial alter, waiting for the heroine Prier to rescue him.
- Tokugawa Ieyasu, as far as Sengoku Basara is concerned. Starting the second installment, this trope practically becomes Ieyasu's gimmick, to the point that the whole purpose of Tadakatsu/Hondam's Story Mode is to have various character race to kidnap Ieyasu, tie him up and get their ass kicked by Tadakatsu, only to have him witness ANOTHER batch of Ninja kidnap Ieyasu in front of him! While in the expansion Ieyasu takes a break from this routine, he goes back to this routine of constantly kidnapped again in the fighting game spinoff Sengoku Basara X, and worse, if you leave him be, it will cause disadvantages for your character (Tadakatsu). You're telling me, the future of Japan lies in this male version of Princess Peach?
- This is actually justified because in those times Ieyasu gets kidnapped, his men refer him as "Takechiyo", his child name, whereupon he spent his childhood being a hostage of Imagawa. And we all know Sengoku Basara is the king of Flanderizations , so that moment gets flanderized to the extreme.
- Throughout the course of the first Warriors Orochi, Liu Bei spends his time being held hostage in Orochi's prison and be the focus of the battle for the rest of the Shu characters, whereas other rulers like Nobunaga, Cao Cao and Sun Jian eventually broke out and join in kicking Orochi's ass. In the sequel, however, Liu Bei is able to return to kick some ass to make up for his Distressed Dude time from the prequel.
- The first cutscene of Shu's story mode in the first game is Zhao Yun in prison with his hands tied behind his back; then Xing Cai, Yoshihiro Shimazu, and Zuo Ci show up and break him out.
- In fact, Nobunaga did not need any rescue at all, since he's one of the starting characters for the Sengoku story mode. However, you get to rescue BOTH Sun Jian and his son Sun Quan in one of Wu's battles.
- Mischief Makers on the N64 had the heroine Marina constantly having to save her perverted mentor. The final time he's kidnapped, he lampshades it when he decides getting kidnapped is his destiny and doesn't even resist.
- Super Joe in the NES version of Bionic Commando and its Enhanced Remake and the Game Boy version and Bionic Commando: Elite Forces. Pretty much the only games in the series in which he wasn't kidnapped are the original arcade game and the next-gen title.
- Bad Dudes: The President has been kidnapped by Ninjas. Are you a Bad Dude enough to rescue the president?
- Subverted in the Destroy All Humans!! series. Crypto, the main protagonist, gets captured once in each game. He often then breaks out of his containment himself. Played straight in Destroy All Humans! 2, where Crypto is rescued by his love interest, Natalya.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, The PC, who might be male, and Alistair if you had him along at the time are stripped down to undies, and left in a cramped prison cell. They may either try to escape on their own, or wait in hope that your Ragtag Bunch of Misfits comes to get them out. Who you think is coming to save you is meant to demonstrate how you feel about that someone.
- Dragon Age II: During the "Best Served Cold" quest, one of your party members is hostage. This will be either one of your mutually-exclusive siblings or, if they died during the Deep Roads exhibition, the party member you're closest to. All in all, there's an equal chance of the hostage being male or female. If it's Anders, he'll quip that he's never thought of himself as a damsel in distress up til now.
- During the concluding sequence of Nar Shadda in Knights of the Old Republic 2, the player gets captured and imprisoned by G0-T0 on his orbital yacht, and you get to choose two party members who break in and rescue you.
- In the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden,
Ryu Hayabusayour nameless ninja gets chained on the floor during the Game Over sequence while a buzzsaw is descending from the ceiling.
- In Final Fight, your character will be shown chained to a chair with a live dynamite in front of him during the Game Over countdown sequence. Final Fight 2 and 3 on the SNES feature similar Game Over sequences, but it adds the possibility of switching one of the male heroes with the token girl (Maki in 2 and Lucia in 3), turning it into a Damsel in Distress situation.
- King's Quest has Edgar...who spends most of his first appearance as a Mook of Lolotte's, and his second appearance transmogrified into a troll.
- In Secret of Mana, Purim's reason for joining the party is to rescue Dyluck.
- In The Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire, a fellow trainee and friend who leaves you clues and supplies through the first part of the game but eventually gets captured and has to be saved from Big Bad is of an opposite gender than player character. So if the player character is a female, this trope manifests. Complete with dramatic carrying the rescuee with both hands towards an exit.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: Matthew and Amiti are the only male player characters not subject to this trope.
- Tyrell crashes a borrowed soarwing in the Tanglewood out of his own overconfidence and stupidity. He happens upon a Psynergy Vortex, gets drained, and remains unconscious until the party shows up to save him.
- Rief nearly repeats Tyrell's mistake involving a nearby Vortex, only for the Tuaparang to come along and some Mooks distract you while he gets kidnapped by the leaders. You later find him Bound and Gagged in a box.
- Eoleo is arrested for piracy and locked in a suspended cage outside Belinsk Castle to frighten him out of using his powers to get away. He is one of the two sentenced to Cruel and Unusual Death by boiling alive during the full moon festival. Fortunately, it doesn't come to that. Unfortunately, what does happen is much worse.
- The first Fairly Oddparents game on the Game Boy Advance, Enter the Cleft!, is about Timmy having to rescue the Crimson Chin.
- Koltira Deathweaver is showing a disturbing propensity for this in World of Warcraft, despite ostensibly being a Badass. The first time we meet him is in the Death Knight starting zone, where he's been abducted and tortured by a Scarlet inquisitor, and has to be rescued. One expansion later, in Cataclysm: he gets abducted again, this time by Sylvanas Windrunner, who's implied to be "re-educating" him to be more loyal to her after he intentionally let his enemy counterpart go after a battle, because they were friends. Dude can't catch a break.
- Whenever the King of Hyrule hasn't been killed by the Big Bad, he usually ends up as this. See The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, the The Legend of Zelda CDI Games and the cartoon series.
- The village elder of the bear village gets kidnapped by the Evil Guy in Something Else because he can open a portal to ultimate power.
- An entire arc is dedicated to rescuing Elliot as a catboy in El Goonish Shive.
- Last Res0rt hits this right on the start of the second chapter (first if you don't read through the Art Evolution) with Slick Giovanni in a fairly intricate "prison harness", and then later on with Slick attempting to seduce Jigsaw while he's chained to the wall. No wonder he also doubles as The Chick (even though at least half the cast is female).
- A few arcs in Sluggy Freelance involve this. Either Torg or Riff will end up stuck in Another Dimension, or trapped by some Big Bad. Zoe, Gwynn and Aylee have rescued those inept boys so many times! Though they do pay back the favor.
- Happens to Terinu fairly often, so far being capture and strapped half-naked to a Wave Motion Gun, stripped completely and tossed into a cell in a biological testing facility and now basically being being treated as the pampered pet of the Big Bad.
- This is how OTHAR TRYGGVASSEN, Gentleman Adventurer, makes his first appearance in Girl Genius.
- And apparently it happened once to Bill: "Why am I tied to this table? And where are my PANTS?!"
- Lampshaded in The Order of the Stick here.
Elan: Awww man, I didn't know I was gonna be the girl!
- Erfworld: Ansom. Jillian just knows it.
"So what if he didn't feel 'rescued'?"
- Bob and George: Bob and Mike
- Knifestone: Isn't getting kidnapped kinda a girl thing?
- Memoria: Matty, here
- In Roza, she goes to rescue the horse-prince.
- In American Barbarian, even Rick needs some help sometimes.
- Atticus Brent from Moképon, due to being physically unfit and having little understanding of the Pokémon world. In the first four chapters alone he's nearly fallen off a cliff, been tied up by Caterpies, and been held at gunpoint by Team Rocket.
- In Blue Yonder, Jared is familiar with the process, even though it's reversed at the moment.
- In Sinfest, a trike feminist rescues Squidley from the prison.
- In The Gamers Alliance, the Sirithai capture Refan and tie him into the arena where he is to be sacrificed to the monstrous Plushiebunny. Ax ends up saving him and can't help but keep teasing him about it because usually Refan has been the one doing the rescuing.
- A few That Guy With The Glasses guys have been this. Linkara has been tied up twice, once by Sage to torture him with an Old Shame fanfic and the other time by Mechakara... just to torture him. Paw was tied up in a recent video and covered in blood while The Nostalgia Critic was kidnapped by the Game Heroes and made to promote their stuff at gunpoint.
- Rakion Kalsa in Chaos Fighters: Chemical Warriors-RAKSA.
- Kaizo Trap has a girl rescuing her significant other from a video game.
- In this Killer Instinct-inspired short video seen here, Sabrewolf has Jago on the ropes until Black Orchid decides to step in.
- Optimus Prime gets this with his love interest Elita One in Transformers Generation 1. When arriving to save her from the Decepticons, first Optimus gets captured and watches helplessly as Elita tries to save them both, nearly getting killed for it. For one reason or another, the Decepticons decide not to finish them immediately but to hang Optimus over an acid bath where Elita will have a good view of his demise (and her demise-to-be). Elita One then activates her time powers to save Optimus Prime, which leads to him finally being able to do something to rescue her. It's pretty 50/50 with them.
- A similar incident occurs with Blurr in "The Face of the Nijika" (minus the whole "save my girlfriend" thing).
- Ron Stoppable in Kim Possible gets this quite a bit as Sidekick to the show's hero Kim. She, of course, has her moments of helplessness, but Ron gets himself into trouble even more, occasionally leading to situations when they're both captured and tied up at the same time.
- One episode centred on Ron learning an Aesop about "becoming a man," and featured one of his teachers pointing out that he can't be very good at being a "real man"—because he keeps getting saved by a girl.
- Ma-Ti on Captain Planet and the Planeteers gets captured and Bound and Gagged or nearly killed more often than a Faux Action Girl.
- Wheeler also got into trouble more than once, for being Hot-Blooded as well as being a Commander Contrarian.
- And Captain Planet himself got in trouble when dirt and toxins were spilled on him. More often than not, he just was dispelled and his powers returned to the rings, but in the first episode the Planeteers had to bail him out.
- As the heroines of a Magical Girl show, the five guardians in WITCH find themselves tied up fairly often, mostly by Naughty Tentacles. However, the only person in the series to actually be bound and gagged at the same time is Badass Normal Caleb, in the episode "Ghosts of Elyon". This is probably to be expected, since by the end of the series, he's the only main character without some kind of magical powers.
- Let's not forget Will's boyfriend Matt, who actually is captured by Nerissa and ends up Brainwashed and Crazy.
- Caleb's father, Julian, also was a Distressed Dude for a while.
- The Powerpuff Girls' dad, Professor Utonium.
- Two examples from Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka, as the shows resident Butt Monkey, suffers from this the most (he got captured by a hole in the ground!), but Aang often receives the more elaborate setups.
- Out of the five members of the Sushi Pack, the three male members have been captured more times than the two female members (although only one episode had all three of them captured at the same time). On the other hand, at least one of each has been captured even more often (usually of the "four are captured, one sets them free" variety).
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Ty Parsec, a fellow ranger and old Academy friend of Buzz Lightyear, has a very unfortunate streak of getting himself into trouble and needing to be rescued by Buzz. In his introduction, we learn that Buzz has saved him at least 50 times. Needless to say, it annoys Ty greatly.
- The Winx Club fairies' boyfriends, the Specialists, have been kidnapped on at least two occasions. First at the end of season 3, where Valtor captures four of the specialists, letting Helia go to deliver a message to the Winx girls to tell them to meet him on Andros. And near the end of season 4's episode 18, the Specialists are captured by Diana and her warrior fairies, only Nabu being able to avoid capture since he is the only one who has magical powers.
- This happens to Robin from Teen Titans a few times. Once, when his teammates thought he was going crazy, they restrained him to a medical bed.
- A few times? Try a lot! A lot of villains' favorite plan seems to be "capture Robin and put him out of commission" so the Titans are faced with having to rescue him. Very often, he ends up shackled or strapped to one thing or another.
- Or, if he isn't restrained with those, he's been paralyzed by magic/superpowers/poisons/whatever. Or stuck into a marionette.
- Kinda makes sense when you realize that Robin is the leader of the team, so if you take down the leader, the rest of the team is most likely to fall apart. Many villains try to follow this tactic, but usually, it doesn't work that well.
- Totally Spies!!, known mostly for its heroines getting into distress situations, actually features a couple of scenes where the girls' male spy helpers, Blaine and Dean, get captured by the bad guys.
- The spinoff series The Amazing Spiez will have a scene featuring one or more of the three Clark boys from time to time.
- The Distress Ball was passed around pretty evenly in Galaxy Rangers, as was the rescuer card. It helps that they're a Badass Crew.
- Played for laughs in one episode of ReBoot, a male character (Enzo) is literally dressed up as a damsel in distress (complete with princess costume and voice changing gizmo), and the female lead dressed as a knight shows up to rescue him.
- In Code Lyoko, the "Damsel in Distress" role tends to go to Aelita, who doesn't reach Action Girl status until around Season Three, or Yumi in some sort of random Running Gag. However, there are also many episodes that involve Jérémie being the one in trouble, usually with electrocuting or trying to electrocute him. (And there was that one time where XANA sent one of his specters to clog his airways and suffocate him.) This really makes the most sense, since when you're a computer program, the most dangerous foe is the guy who controls the computer.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in the She-Ra: Princess of Power movie. Let's have The Nostalgia Chick talk about it, shall we?
"And for the rest of the movie, we pretty much go in circles of capture. He-Man gets captured, He-Man escapes, He-Man gets captured, He-Man escapes, and our new wacky rebel friends have wacky adventures trying to bust him out."
- Sadlygrove, the Idiot Hero from Wakfu, thinks of himself as a Knight in Shining Armor and thus is on the lookout for Distressed Damsels to rescue. This is turned on its head in episode 4, where he's lured in a cursed castle by the four "Ugly Princesses". Naturally, he ends up as the Distressed Dude to be rescued by his friends.
- Mark Lily from Ugly Americans manages to get himself into all kinds of horrifying and distressful situations.
- All the guys in Young Justice have gone through distressing situations, but the the honor has to go to Superboy.
- Downplayed in the 2011 ThunderCats episode "The Duelist and the Drifter" with the Drifter, an Eccentric Mentor with Not Quite Flight powers that gets himself "snagged" on tall fences three times, each time enlisting the help of The Hero Lion-O to get down, and each time, exploiting the encounter to offer Lion-O pertinent advice or aid while feigning disinterest.
- In the Season 2 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Shining Armor is held captivated by an evil sorceress posing as his true love. In a nice inversion of the usual fare, his princess bride-to-be saves him (with the Power of Love, natch).