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—about every example on this page
When a truly terrifying danger rears its ugly head, maybe a monster appears or a large object is about to fall on them, one of the female characters stands there and screams helplessly, necessitating that one of the heroes pull her out of harm's way. Is guaranteed to become even more annoying when said female character sees something dangerous, and stands and screams for the hero to help, when they would have had plenty of time to get out of the way themselves. Not necessarily limited to the Distressed Damsel or The Chick, but can be infuriating if the character is supposed to be a hardened Action Girl.
Anime & Manga
- Subverted in Bleach. Inoue Orihime has a scream lasting TWO PAGES, but while doing so uses her shield to cushion the landing of her crush's body. Later that very chapter, she also screams "HELP, KUROSAKI-KUN" while in the middle of a mental breakdown, but this is after she has started to heal him.
- Amy Rose screamed in some episodes of Sonic X. Albeit not always in fear...
- Princess Sally Acorn screams in the Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Blast in the Past" part 1.
- In Ai Yori Aoshi (the anime version), Miyabi gets one when she discovers she's not alone in the room she's cleaning. It's quite funny when it turns out to be a cat. Given that her normal role is Mama Bear to Aoi, it makes her a bit more sympathetic after the way she's been treating Kaoru up to that point.
- Jessica does this a few times in Umineko no Naku Koro ni. You can't really blame the poor girl, though.
Films — Animation
- Monsters vs. Aliens
- Spoofed when General W. R. Monger is showing the President of the United States footage of all the monsters he's got locked up. Every time he shows one, the coffee lady screams in terror and drops her tray. Finally Monger has had enough and orders her thrown out of the room. He then shows his next clip, that of "Ginormica", a 49 ft, 11 inch woman. Whereupon there's an identical high-pitched scream... from the President.
- Susan herself briefly lapses into this upon first (literally) bumping into Insectosaurus. Not that one could blame her, considering that it is a grub seven times as tall as she was.
- Shrek 2: The lady outside the Farbucks coffee provides an excellent scream complete with hands clutched backwards beneath her face.
Films — Live-Action
- Parodied in the movie Troma's War, where a screaming woman appears during the opening... and is promptly shot.
- In the Sci Fi B-Movie It Came from Beneath the Sea, said woman was a marine biologist, utterly convinced a gigantic monster octopus was terrorizing the coast. After spending the day swimming in the ocean looking for it, said monster finally made an appearance when she was standing on shore with the men... and she promptly started screaming like a little girl. One wonders what she would have done had she found it while in the water.
- An impressive subversion occurs in Kingdom of the Spiders, when the Hot Entomologist opens a drawer in her rural Arizona motel room to reveal a live tarantula. Not yet aware she's in a Nature's-revenge flick, she calmly scoops it up and shoos it outside. (According to the IMDB, Tiffany Bolling beat out other actresses for the part because she was able to do this scene without turning into a Real Life example of this trope.)
- Willie Scott more-or-less does this for the entirety of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Kate Capshaw even had to be taught how to scream.
- In the Lego Indiana Jones', due to an "extra", you can actually weaponize it.
- In the original King Kong, Fay Wray spent hours in the recording booth so she could scream in just the right way. It succeeded, producing one very memorable scream.
- In the Peter Jackson remake (in a scene deleted from the movie but used for the trailer) a fake movie scream by the actress gets an answering roar from the as-yet-unseen King Kong.
- Dorothy in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz sometimes screamed.
- Helen Benson is one of these in The Day the Earth Stood Still. She has been told exactly what to say, but still feels the need to scream for half an hour or so. If she'd kept screaming too much longer, Gort would've gone on his rampage, not knowing that Klaatu didn't want him to.
- Shannon Sassomon, who stars in the terrible movie Catacombs as an unsympathetically ridiculously gullible over-emotional lady who plays this trope straight several times, plays this trope, most of the time randomly, as she runs about the underground Catacombs because she's seeing evidence of scary stuff.
- Lambert, most notably in her final scene when she's paralysed with fear as the alien advances on her.
- Ripley screams in the end of the movie, before blowing the alien out the airlock.
- And Newt in Aliens. Excusable though as she is just a little girl facing very real monsters.
- Inverted in the movie Watchmen. When Dr Manhattan is shown turning Moloch's mooks into sticky gore hanging from the ceiling, a close-up is shown of one of his bar girls who is not screaming hysterically as one would expect, but is staring with the same terrified religious awe as the VC soldiers shown bowing before Dr Manhattan when he single-handedly wins the Vietnam War.
- The original script for Dawn of the Dead has Francine screaming a bit. The actress refused, saying that it would undermine the character's strength.
- Vicki Vale in the 1989 Batman movie, who would scream at just about everything — when the clowns shooting at the City Hall, when the Joker nearly sprays her with acid, when Bruce Wayne gets shot by the Joker, when her friend Knox jumped to the windshield of her car and when the Joker pulled the trigger on his fake gun (which is even more absurd in context, since the Joker was pretending to shoot himself).
Note that in the City Hall scene, Vicki wasn't screaming; she was shouting "Bruce!" at Bruce Wayne because he wasn't paying attention and nearly wandered into the clowns' line of fire. In other words, she was trying to save his ass, which is not something you'd expect a Screaming Woman to do. Vicki is actually pretty capable for the first half of the movie, and doesn't turn into the scaredy-cat character we all remember until the museum scene.
- Almost every single character Kim Basinger played in every movie she is in. Her character, Michel, has a Screaming Woman moment in the 1986 film, No Mercy, when she realizes Eddie Gilette is driving the car off to the river.
- Subverted in X-Men 2; when the soldiers attack, a girl starts screaming. She's Siryn, and screaming is her superpower. She nearly defeats the soldiers that way, and although she still gets knocked out, her scream wakes up all the other mutants and gives them a chance to escape.
- Rachel in the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds. Justified in that she's a ten-year-old girl.
- Renee Russo's character in Get Shorty was a famous B-movie "scream queen" with an extremely impressive scream. When a villain pulls a gun on Chili Palmer, she screams and it distracts the villain long enough to give Chili the upper hand.
- Noticeably averted in Three Days of the Condor. A female CIA analyst looks up and sees three men pointing silenced submachine guns at her, and realises what's about to happen.
Joubert: Would you please step away from the window.
- Happens at the opening of Lajja, accompanied by the burning of a red sari.
- Brought up in Tales of Kolmar. Lanen fights back in every situation, but she screams like bloody murder as she does so, too - her philosophy there is to never deny anyone the chance to come help.
- Babylon 5: Sheridan's wife (played by Melissa Gilbert) screams when the White Star comes plowing through the dome of the Zahadum city... carrying two 500 MT nukes.
- Doctor Who
- While not doing it as often as some make out (especially in the 1970s), the series got associated with this trope to the point that "she's not just a screaming girlie" had to be emphasized when the new series was created. Plus, an inversion in Series 1 of the new show: it's Rose's boyfriend who Screams Like a Little Girl, and is called upon by the Doctor.
- The first regular to leave the series, Doctor's granddaughter Susan, did so because the actress portraying her felt Susan had no depth beyond the screaming girl slash damsel in distress. (Curiously, in her very last serial (The Dalek Invasion of Earth), she nearly drops a literal bridge on herself.)
- Lampshading bordering on subversion with the Second Doctor companion Victoria. In The Tomb of the Cybermen her scream distracts the person pointing a gun at her. In The Ice Warriors, her scream causes an avalanche that takes out her captor. In Fury from the Deep, her scream is the weapon that defeats the Big Bad.
- "Tomb of the Cybermen":
"You scream real good, Vic! Thanks a lot!"
- The other companion famous for this trope is Mel. Reputedly her actress was told to pitch her screams to match the start of the theme music, so there wouldn't be any dissonance at cliffhangers. The fan webcomic The Ten Doctors has fun with this, with an author's note commenting that "Mel, as we all feared, screams".
- Leela's Moment of Awesome might just be when she slaps one of these in The Horror of Fang Rock.
- In Season 6, while going into danger alone, River Song tells the Doctor he shouldn't worry, because she's "quite a screamer." Considering how flirtatious she is, and the fact that she's a genuine Action Girl, we think she's talking about a different kind of scream.
- Donna in The Runaway Bride. A lot. Though almost all those screams were mostly rage. After all, she's "Donna Noble, screaming at the world because you think no one's listening."
- The first time viewers of Lost see Shannon, she is standing unharmed in the midst of the airplane wreckage, screaming continuously.
- Played with in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush", in which Buffy must scream in order to destroy The Gentlemen.
- Several civilian women react to dead bodies and other gruesome sights by screaming uselessly on NCIS.
- Subverted in Space Cases. Catalina screams when threatened or in trouble, yes... but her scream is a sonic weapon, and a very effective one at that.
- Kira in Power Rangers Dino Thunder also has a scream that serves as a weapon.
- Joolushko "Jool" Tunai Fenta Hovalis from Farscape spends a good portion of her introductory appearance doing just this. And it continued throughout the third series. Interestingly enough, Jool's screams are so high-pitched, they can melt metal, resulting in a hilarious moment when Aeryn decides to forgoe finding power for a welding torch and simply breaks Jool's thumb.
- Stargate SG-1 episode "Bad Guys" spoofs this slightly by having the usually diplomatic Daniel shout at the screaming girl to shut up.
- Star Trek: Voyager
- Up to Eleven in Grey's Anatomy. A woman who brought in her severely wounded husband screams and keeps screaming for more than a quarter of the episode until Alex makes her stop — by screaming back at her.
- While the original The Outer Limits was admirably progressive in other respects, unfortunately its female characters wound up screaming an awful lot at the Monster of the Week.
- Parodied in the slasher movie-themed episode of Boy Meets World. Angela takes on this role and after several big screams Jack says "You know, you are really good at that." and she thanks him. Later, when Jennifer Love Hewitt's character shows up she lets out a big scream of her own and Angela then tries to out-scream her because she "is the screamer around here".
- This is used to a character's advantage in Les Misérables. Eponine screams loudly to frighten off her father and his friends, who are planning to break into Valjean and Cosette's home.
- Little Red Riding Hood uses this to get her cape back from the Baker in Into the Woods. A more melodic version ("Ah ha-ah ah-ha...") is used as Rapunzel's main line, especially in "First Midnight" and the finale (she also does the non-melodic version after going insane).
- Spoofed in the flash cartoon The Demented Cartoon Movie:
Generic Damsel: Aaaaah!
- In this World of Warcraft animated music video, a pervert dwarf makes a woman scream by flashing her. Based on a French song by Richard Gotainer, "La Ballade de l'obsédé".
- El Goonish Shive has a side character who exists only to fill this role.
"If there is monster business at Moperville North, I believe she should get her scream on."
- Her line during the first incident:
Girl: EEEK! A giant slime monster! Everyone run around in a dangerous panic, quick!
- To her credit, though, she does compose herself pretty quickly in the latter incident, given that she phones for help only a panel later (albeit not in the most convincing terms).
- Played for Laughs in Girl Genius when the eponymous Agatha Heterodyne, prior to achieving Action Girl status, succumbs to this the first time she's left alone with a Jägermonster.
- Several female characters in Survival of the Fittest do this at least once, such as Helena Van Garrett when Hawley Faust starts shooting at her, though it's rather understandable considering the circumstances they're in.
- In the youtube series One Hundred Yard Stare, Avery becomes one of these when she sees Slenderman for the second time.
- Early episodes of Teen Titans had Starfire playing the Screaming Woman rather a lot. Raven, however, did it in one episode, off-screen, before she was attacked by a were-creature.
- Sissi Delmas, from Code Lyoko, frequently lets out a frightened scream when confronted to XANA's latest attack. Parodied in episode "End of Take" (pictured above), where the only line of dialogue Sissi gets in James Finson's horror movie is "AAAAAH!"
- Subverted in the Batman Beyond episode "Babel". Shriek uses a device which messes with the hearing or everyone in Gotham. A construction crane falls off a skyscraper and is falling straight towards a traffic cop, about to crush him into strawberry jam. An elderly, meek-looking woman notices this and yells at him trying to get his attention, but when it doesn't work she proceeds to jump into the middle of the road without a thought of incoming traffic, and pulls the idiot out of the way and to safety. Badass Bystander? I think so.
- A psychology experiment done with two- (or three-) year-old children showed an interesting insight into this phenomenon. Each child was separated from its mother by a 4-foot-high wall, which it could see its mother through but not move aside. Understandably, this caused each child to get upset and cry loudly. The experimenters observed a marked difference in behavior between the genders: The girl children tended to stand there and cry loudly for their mother to come and get them, while the boy children tended to pound at the wall while crying and otherwise try to circumvent the barrier themselves.
- Also happens in high stress situation when a person is not used to them, like say a combat situation. This can result in people not doing anything but scream. Usually they either get killed, or someone who isn't screaming drags them out of the way.