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We all have the Distressed Damsel and Distressed Dude for our heroes and Badasses to save. But what if our Badass is slowly growing too powerful and invincible? Sure, it's really cool, but nobody likes a God Mode Sue. What shall we do?!
For starters, we can have them trade places. What if the Badass (or Action Girl, if the character in question is female) gets put in the Distressed Dude's shoes? Suddenly our Badass finds himself in a situation where he cannot use his magnificent escape skills, and there's only one thing he can do: wait for someone else to rescue him. He's Not So Invincible After All...
That said, has he really been subject to Badass Decay? Or if it's an Action Girl, was that a Chickification event, turning her into a Faux Action Girl? Not really. Because it was only one event in the limelight, it's not happening often enough to become characteristic, and once rescued, the Badass is ready to kick some more ass. Sometimes, it goes even to more extremes that even his allies are barred from rescuing him, so the Badass says, "Let's Get Dangerous", breaks free on his own and kick some ass. Turns out that he could get out on his own, the timing just wasn't perfect enough.
Done well, this turn of events can add realism to an otherwise invincible character. Done badly, it may leave the audience wondering if the Badass just caught the Distress Ball today.
The Lancer is often subject to this, because aside from being the most likely candidate for Badassery, they're often hit with An Aesop about The Power of Friendship. Having butted heads with the hero once too often and stormed off to work on their own, they fail spectacularly and have to be rescued by The Hero, after which the Aesop has been taught and they can resume kicking ass. At times it also happens to The Big Guy, which is often seen as a prelude of BAD things to come - after all, if the physically strongest one in the band is taken out, what is left for the rest?
The Distressed Domina is a related trope that exclusively involves an Action Girl (or occasionally a Little Miss Badass) but with a more consistent formula, context, implications and series of evens than the Badass in Distress concept in general.
Anime & Manga
- Kouji Kabuto from Mazinger Z undoubtedly is a Hot-Blooded Badass, an excellent Humongous Mecha pilot, a great sharpshooter and a competent fighter can take care of himself even when he is outside of his giant robot. However he often needed being rescued either because he had fallen into a trap or because the odds were brutally against him. It happened several times in Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer and Mazinkaiser, but it was especially glaring in UFO Robo Grendizer, where he was demoted from The Hero to The Lancer, and instead of a Humongous Mecha he piloted a support unit. However usually he was saved by a Big Damn Heroes moment from Sayaka, Boss, Tetsuya or Duke, so even when he was in danger, usually it ended up in a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- His adoptive brother, Tetsuya Tsurugi also found in that position at least once and he had to be saved by his father's Heroic Sacrifice. Duke Fleed also was captured sometimes.
- Flame of Recca's Mikagami Tokiya is at first noted as not only the smartest of the Hokage, he's also the cruelest and most ruthless. However, he suffers two cases of being captured, first being defeated by Aoi and ends up being used as a hostage to lower Recca's morale and stays unconscious until rescued, but he later makes it up by forcing Hiruko, who was on the same level of Aoi, into a draw. Then he gets hit AGAIN when Big Bad Wannabe Marie managed to drug him by luck and strap him into a contrapment, waiting for Domon and Recca to rescue him and rained with taunts and ridicule. Just so they make sure they didn't think of him decayed, he is pitted against his master Meguri Kyouza, who even on deathbed instills fear on both Aoi and Hiruko and could've beaten Kurei if it wasn't for the deathbed tidbits... and Mikagami outsmarts and comes out victorious against him.
- Genjo Sanzo from Saiyuki. Being the counterpart of Distressed Dude extraordinary from the original source, it is expected that he'll be kidnapped a lot. But instead of wailing for help or just be silent, he stays vigilant and badmouths his captors without even mentioning, "My followers will rescue me." When help does arrive, his response is... "I don't need your help anyway." And it's quite often that once he's freed, he'll either shoot or exorcise his captors dead, and his faith (as rude as it may be) unshaken.
- Kamina from Gurren Lagann is The Ace, a big-ass Determinator, and Leeroy Jenkins in a mech. Problem is he can never win a fight on his own, and is constantly getting saved by Simon.
- He'd have died in episode 1 if Simon hadn't dug up from below to save him. He's not The Ace at anything but talking big. Which ultimately makes him come off as MORE BADASS than The Ace ever does. He is, at least, competent in hand to hand fighting. The one time he goes into battle solo against anything tougher than basic Mooks he dies. And he STILL manages to cure the Heroic BSOD that his death inflicts on Simon with a story he conveniently told Yoko mere hours before his death.
- This happens to Kyoya Hibari from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. He's pretty much one of the most Badass characters in the entire series, and remained largely undefeated. Until the first serious arc with Rokudo Mukuro began. He goes over to fight Mukuro, only to be defeated (due to his weakness being exploited), and held captive. With some help from Tsuna and Gokudera, he manages to break out and wreak havoc. His Badassness didn't decay any from it at all.
- Death The Kid from Soul Eater is this for a while, although now he is out of the Book of Eiben and is ready to start kicking ass again.
- Also Maka Albarn, during the Envy and Sloth chapters of the same book.
- Kallen Stadtfeld from Code Geass was captured at one point in the second season and her time in captivity was used for some Character Development. But once she got out of captivity... she killed Luciano Bradley and made it clear who the motherfucking Action Girl of the series is.
- Mewtwo in Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns. He spent the first movie being a total badass villain, and never actually being defeated. He has a few badass moments in the sequel, where he fends off Team Rocket. Even when he's captured due to some Pokemon being held hostage, he never gives in, resisting the pain of the device being used at him nearly at the expense of his life. Naturally, Ash and co. are there to save him using the Phlebotinum of the week. What does he do after being rescued? He wipes the memory of at least 50 people simultaneously and moves part of a mountain, evacuates his Pokemon telekinetically to various places, and then produces hot air balloons to get the Rocket Trio and Ash and his friends to their destinations. He handles the whole thing with a fair amount of angst as per his character, but no pleading, no crying, and no caving in.
- Meow from Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran may be a skilled fighter but she does get hit with the Distress Ball more than a few times, requiring Ran to come to her aid. Once Meow gets free, though, she joins Ran with beating up the bad guys.
- This happens a fair number of times in Yu-Gi-Oh!! and its sequel series, usually as part of The Worf Effect.
- In Black Lagoon, Badass Revy spends the greater part of an episode knocked out (it took a large grenade) by the series' Implacable Ninja Maid. When she regained consciousness, a Moment of Awesome ensued.
- Manji from Blade of the Immortal becomes one of these during the Prison Arc. It is up to Rin, probably the weakest character in the entire manga, to save him. (Though she did get help from others.)
- Rukia during season two of Bleach. In a variation, she willingly went with those who'd execute her since she was .
- In chapter 449, this happens to Ichigo while he tries to regain his powers, between his fight with Tsukishima and his training with Ginjou. It's Yuko who saves him the first time and Orihime that saves him the second time.
- One Piece. Portgas D. Ace, during the Impel Down and Whitebeard War arcs. It ends up in tragedy, since he dies few after being liberated by his brother Luffy. Can be sen as a Deconstructed Trope, as being a badass released from captivity is not a guarantee that you'll survive the experience in the end.
- Nico Robin during Enies Lobby also qualifies, having previously established her badass credentials several times over but then hit with the Distress Ball. She recovers them later, thank God.
- Lampshaded after Fukurou reveals that Robin has Sea Prism Stone handcuffs on and is thus unable to use her powers, despite having resolved the personal issues that led her to surrender to CP9 for the Straw Hats' safety.
- Nico Robin during Enies Lobby also qualifies, having previously established her badass credentials several times over but then hit with the Distress Ball. She recovers them later, thank God.
Chopper: So that's why Robin has let you push her around, even though she's so strong! She must feel awful!
- The Whole Cake Island has Sanji into this position, after he's forced to return to his Big, Screwed-Up Family.
- Asuna and Negi get hit more than once with this in Mahou Sensei Negima!
- Fairy Tail. Erza in the Tower Of Paradise arc.
- The entire guild including such powerful guys as Makarov, Mirajane, and Gildarts, when they're sucked into Edolias and turned into an immobile magic source. Only the 3 Dragonslayers (who were immune to the teleportation spell) and Lucy (who was protected by her spirits) managed to stay free. Gray and Erza were later freed halfway through the arc, but the rest of the guild spent the entire arc helpless.
- During the same arc, Natsu and Wendy were captured by the king of Edolas and drained of their magic; having been unable to use it in Edolas, they couldn't use their powers to escape and had to be rescued by Lucy, Erza and Gray.
- Ran, Kazuha, Heiji and Kogoro (though in his case it's more like Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass) have caught quite the Distress Balls in Detective Conan.
- Inuyasha: The most powerful character in the series is Sesshoumaru. As he himself once observes, he's never been cornered into a desperate situation. He's also the only thing standing between Naraku and the last shard of the Shikon no Tama, resulting in Magatsuhi, the dark will of the Shikon no Tama, being sent after him to take advantage of Sesshoumaru's weaponless state. Magatsuhi immediately exploits Sesshoumaru's one-armed status and succeeds. Younger brother Inuyasha rescues him but not before his remaining arm is ripped to shreds. That doesn't stop Magatsuhi rendering Inuyasha's sword useless, stabbing Sesshoumaru through the heart, and capturing Inuyasha. Not only does Sesshoumaru not die, but he comes back even stronger than before.
- Inner Moka got hit with this at some point in Rosario to Vampire.
- In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Silcardo decides to take Miu as HIS new Disciple and as a result she got hit with the Distress Ball HARD. Not only that, but then she was Brainwashed and Crazy and pit against fighting Kenichi: Silcardo hoped to have Miu mentally broken via killing Kenichi, and thus complete a Face Heel Turn. How does this end? In failure: Kenichi gets to Miu in the end, she returns to her senses, and they take on their enemies together. It wasn't a complete failure though as Silcardo brought up successful traces of a Blood Knight on her.
- After Shana was defeated by Yuuji/Snake of the Festival, she joined this trope too.
- Kimba the White Lion had some cases where Kimba needed to be rescued by either Roger Ranger or one of his subjects that he helped before.
- Happens to all of the Children in Neon Genesis Evangelion, with he most glaring example being Rei in Rebuild.
- Tenchi Muyo! has both Ryoko and Ayeka in the OAV's. When Kagato arrived, his first action was to make Ryoko go Brainwashed and Crazy and then take her hostage; Tenchi, Mihoshi, Ryo-ohki and Ayeka go to rescue her. Then, after he almost kills Tenchi and Ryoko gets free as a result, Kagato captures Ayeka and tries to brainwash her into revealing the Jurai Family secrets, but is refused at the last moment. Meanwhile, Mihoshi finds and releases ''another'' Badass in Distress... Washu, whom Kagato has kept prisoner in a hidden Pocket Dimension.
- Happened to Ryoko again later, when she was captured by Dr. Clay and replaced by a doppelganger. Too bad that same doppelganger fell for Tenchi too.
- Ayeka also gets put in this position in Tenchi Universe, when she's kidnapped by that continuity's Kagato.
- Happens several times to the members of the Space Police in The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird:
- One of the very few ways to keep Katori/Fighbird from fighting the enemy is to threaten someone else. If this happens, the All-Loving Hero Katori will not dare fight back and risk hurting the hostage unless someone else (generally the other Space Police members) steps in.
- In episode 22, Guard Wing is defeated by the Death Team and nearly forced to carry a bomb. While he does manage to rescue Katori and Kenta from Shura, he needs the Baron Team to help him later.
- In episode 26, Dr. Jango kidnaps the local Hospital Hottie Yoshiko at gunpoint to stage a Hostage Situation; Guard Rescue, who masquerades in 'normal life' as Yoshiko's ambulance, attempts to throw him off his vehicle body.... but Jango is carrying a grenade and has a hidden bomb somewhere. This means Guard Rescue cannot join the Guard Team for a while, until his companions locate the bomb and use their own energy to contain its destructive waves
- Normally, Ace Baron and the Baron Team are the ones who rescue their companions... but in episode 37, the whole Team is captured by Zol and the Monster of the Week when the Rescue Forces are investigating the Bermuda Triangle.
- At the very end, the Guard AND Baron Teams try to destroy the Big Bad Draias's Devil Tower on their own in a desperate gambit to gain more time for the Rescue Forces. They end up captured and tortured within inches of their lives, and Fighbird's last battle with Draias is their only hope.
- Towards the end of Beast King Golion, Ryou Shirogane tries to face and take down Prince Sincline on his own, but is captured and used as a hostage instead. With a bit of help, he pulls a Taking You with Me and both of them die. The same happens in Lion Voltron, except both Sven and Lotor survive.
- Happens in The Authority a few times. for instance, to the entire Authority.
- The end of Empowered vol. 3 puts Ninjette firmly in this category. Six ninja ambush her in a park and tag her with a "sleeping poison"-laced blade. Four of them were dead or mortally wounded before she was blindsided with some Instant Sedative, and the only reason the last two were on their feet was a secret clan technique rendering them immune to pain (she thought they were solidly out of the fight, or at least too hurt to sneak up on her).
- Any heroes in Marvel Comics who got captured in the Skrull Invasion during the Secret Invasion storyline, including Elektra, Spider-Woman, or even the highly-dangerous Black Bolt. After rescue, they resume their life as superheroes, some of them are also bitter against any remaining Skrulls and should they cross their path again, they will kick butt.
- Also, the first Hawkeye (now Ronin) literally fits the last paragraph of this trope's description (even if he's not The Lancer), when he finally couldn't hold his desire to kill Norman Osborn ASAP when his other friends are against that notion for the time being... so he storms off on his own, tried to assault the Dark Avengers alone... and fails. And now he's imprisoned by the Dark Avengers, and the upcoming New Avengers Annual 3 deals with his rescue.
- Wolverine and Jubilee's mentor-sidekick relationship started when she rescued him from the Reavers (a bunch of heavily armed killer cyborgs) who tortured him within an inch of his life.
- Happens to Nightwing in his own title among other places. (Plus when he was Robin it bordered on Never Live It Down) One time his girlfriend’s girlfriend, Black Canary came to his rescue. Though he then had to rescue her.
- Batman in the fan film The Death of Batman is kidnapped by a junkie who fakes an overdose and uses a stun gun on Batman's balls.
- Riza has to go through this in the Fullmetal Alchemist Fanfic "Brilliancy," when she's kidnapped. She gives her abductors plenty of trouble; she breaks loose from her bonds at one point and later kills the one who was supposed to shoot her, but she's still kidnapped and stuck in the desert with no way to get home.
- Gaz is without a doubt the biggest badass in the My Hostage Not Yours trilogy, yet at least once in each story she ends up being held prisoner and needing to be saved:
- My Hostage Not Yours: She lets the Valkians capture her, both in order to get rid of the LEECHY, and to protect Dib and Zim. It's shown that she was fully capable of escaping her cell on her own, but that still would have left her on her own on a ship full of dangerous warriors, and it seems highly unlikely she would have been able to fight them all. So it's probably for the best that Zim concocted a plan to save her.
- The Revenge of Player 2: Iggins manages to capture her with a Mind Control Device, so Zim and Dib have to save her again. This time, though, she breaks free through force of will, save's Zim's life, and then proceeds to give Iggins a Fate Worse Than Death.
- The Inevitable Takeover: During the early days of Zim's conquest of the planet, she gets kidnapped by a group of hired thugs. However, this is a subversion, as Zim himself had her kidnapped, to keep her away from the government officials who were going to use her as leverage against him, so she was never really in any danger.
- In the climax of With Strings Attached, both Paul and John have been kidnapped and rendered helpless (Paul via mind control, John via sleep spell). George, himself depowered, figures out how to rescue John, who then proceeds to kick ass. However, with Paul, the mind control didn't take; he was just faking it so he could both make sure the others were okay and delay the Big Bad's plans.
“Wasn't much else I could do at that point, since I didn't know where you lads were, and I didn't wanna go off sort of half cocked.”
- In Through a Diamond Sky, The Baron is Genre Savvy enough to realize that the only chance he had to strong-arm Flynn was to make sure both Tron and Clu were in no shape to fight. He just hadn't factored in the pair of Iso scouts and Jordan.
- During the climax of the first story arc of Jewel of Darkness, Robin is captured by Midnight, who intends to torture him into insanity. He's eventually rescued by the other Titans and, despite the pain, proceeds to join them in taking her down.
- In The Tainted Grimoire, there is Cid, who got captured by Khamja.
Films -- Live-Action
- Raphael in the TMNT movies, especially the second movie thanks to his stint working alone had him getting captured by Shredder, Tokka and Rahzar and had to be saved by his brothers before he can kick ass again. He's The Lancer, so that explains. The more recent TMNT movie, however, subvert it that even though Raphael is still The Lancer, his stint caused Leonardo to get caught instead.
- Star Trek. In the 2009 movie, Captain Pike is captured by Romulans, heinously tortured, and, when rescued, still manages to kill a few of his tormentors -- one literally seconds after being rescued.
- Star Wars. At the end of Episode V, Han Solo is imprisoned/embedded in a chunk of carbonite. And what does he do mere hours after getting out? Kills Boba Fett. While he's still blind (Fett got better).
- Basically the premise of Rambo III. Rambo gets Trautmann out of a Soviet prison in Afghanistan, and the two of them proceed to destroy half the Red Army.
- Morphius had one moment of this in the first Matrix movie
- Iron Man. Tony Stark is ambushed by Obidiah Stane, which literally leaves him crawling around with a hole in his chest. Cue his buddy Col. Rhodes coming to his aid (with a removed assist from Pepper). After he pops in a spare reactor, he promptly leaves to kick Stane's ass.
- In a German movie Stahlnetz: PSI there are two girls who are best friends: Plucky Girl Micha, who also has supernatural powers (titular "PSI") and Spoiled Sweet Sandra. Micha get kidnapped, and even though she does try, she just cannot escape on her own - even her psychic powers backfire at first. Then Sandra, thanks to the connection they share, gets a clue on where Micha is held, and with this hint, police finds and rescues Micha.
- In Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths, particularly in the first book Melusine, Mildmay is the resident Badass, but at one point he gets locked in a farmhouse cellar and has to get rescued by the guy he's supposed to be rescuing.
- DuQuesne in E. E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark series. Twice he gets into serious trouble and calls on the hero, Dick Seaton, to team up to handle the situation.
- In Outlander, Jamie is taken prisoner by the villain, and his wife Claire has to rescue him from being tortured and hung. He does not suffer Badass Decay in this, mostly because Claire's first attempt to save him is botched, and he has to save HER by offering himself to the villain to torture and rape as he pleases without crying out.
- The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden gets tied up/manacled/whatever on a regular basis and often needs to be rescued, but gets himself out of the situation just as often and kicks so much ass that no one really holds it against him.
- Likewise, woe betide anybody who tries to put Karen Murphy in distress. You will suffer horribly. The few times that she is held in distress successfully, it's never a result of her being weak or feminine, just being a Muggle in a world where Muggles and even supernatural humans are Made of Plasticine.
- Beren in The Silmarillion is captured by Sauron; his extraordinary empowered lover frees him, and he resumes kicking ass with her help.
- Inverted by the title character in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. He possesses magic that can literally break time itself, but can't consciously control it (and spends most of his travels being saved by the powerful characters he travels with until his moments of uber-distress when his Badass kicks in.
- In Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon and Shadows in The Moonlight, Conan the Barbarian needs to be rescued. Then he kicks butt.
- In The Wheel of Time series, almost every major hero gets captured at some point by Seanchan, Shaido, Darkfriends, Forsaken, or even Rand by the Red Ajah.
- In the Dragonlance novel Dragons of Spring Dawning, the Golden General, Laurana, is captured by her Arch Enemy, the Dragon Highlord Kitiara, and [[Come to Gawk put on display at the Council of Highlord's as Kitiara's gift to the evil goddess, Takhisis. But even after being manhandled by Kitiara and with Takhisis, in her five headed dragon form, towering over her, Laurana stays defiant and, when the chance presents itself, breaks free, steals Kitiara's weapon, and single handedly fights her way out of the chamber, setting off an Enemy Civil War in the process.
- Michael, who does most of the fighting in the Knight and Rogue Series is, as a result, the one who's most likely to get captured, leaving Fisk to try and rescue him.
- Toward the end of the Time Scout series, Malcolm Moore ends up getting shot by a bad guy and sent on his way in a hansom cab. He barely survives.
- In Death: Eve Dallas has gotten into trouble a few times. Sometimes Roarke saves her life. Sometimes she just saves herself.
- In Warrior Cats, Action Girl Leafstar gets captured by a Crazy Cat Lady and has to be rescued by her Clanmates.
- Beachwalker's highly dangerous costar makes his debut tied up, half dead, and with his latest victim lifeless at his feet.
- Mistborn has Vin get captured twice: Once by Steel Inquisitors, and once by Yomen, when he slams the door to what is more-or-less a bomb shelter behind her
- Mal, poster man of Big Damn Heroes, has to get rescued from Niska in Firefly. He was cracking jokes while getting metal pushed under his skin (not to mention all the dying and resuscitation)
- Sam Carter from Stargate SG-1 is kidnapped in Desperate Measures. She spends much of the episode trying to rescue herself (with escalating badassery), but is eventually saved by the rest of the team. This doesn't diminish her badassness one bit.
- O'Neill also gets his turn at this when he's captured by Ba'al and repeatedly tortured to death over the course of the episode. He continues to crack wise at Ba'al during the process, though he was clearly starting to run out of endurance near the end.
- Teal'c gets captured by Heru-ur's forces and is continuously tortured by one of his underlings. Despite this, Teal'c refuses to acknowledge the Goa'uld as gods. This causes the man who betrayed him in the first place to make a Heel Face Turn. The same Jaffa shows up later as a determined La Résistance fighter, clearly inspired by Teal'c defiance.
- Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis (as badass as O'Neill) also gets captured by his arch-nemesis Acastus Kolya and tortured by having a captive Wraith continuously drain his life force. Eventually, Sheppard makes a deal with the Wraith, and they break out. The Wraith shows himself to be honorable by returning Sheppard's life force (and more). Also, this Wraith? It's Todd, himself a badass, so this trope works for him too.
- One of the latter episodes of Dai Sentai Goggle Five puts Miki Momozono/Goggle Pink into this situation when she's trapped inside a book, tied up and the book containing her is about to be burned. She broke from her bonds on her own, then gets put into a cage, but finally destroyed the source of the book's illusion source, destroying the book and getting out on her own. To some, that episode became quite the fan favorite (for a show at the age) and her Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Willow toward the end of season 3, when she's starting to get her witchiness on. She's captured by the Mayor's people. She lures a vampire into attacking her so she can kill him. With a pencil. She risks her life further when she goes after the Mayor's dark books and learns what the gang needs to know about the Ascension. She faces down Faith. When she gets rescued, it turns out she has crucial pages about the Ascension hidden in her boot.
- Other lesser example's include "Helpless" and "Halloween," although the circumstances are extenuating: In Helpless, Buffy is de-powered by the Watcher's Council is forced to play the helpless victim; she's rescued from a vampire mook by Giles in the end. Of course Buffy is still Buffy and holds her own against the deadlier foe. In Halloween, Buffy is transformed into an 18th century damsel and needs constant rescuing and reassurance, but it's not really Buffy who's helpless.
- There was also the time Faith and "Angelus" captured her. Had Angel actually been Angelus, she would have been five kinds of fucked. Quite literally.
- Doctor Who. The Doctor in "The Last of the Time Lords". Released from bondage and within five minutes has completely owned the Master and undone the events of the previous year.
- From Robin Hood: the titular character has been captured and is dangling over a snake pit, getting beaten around the abdomen by Guy of Gisborne, who is alternatively mocking him and demanding to know who the mysterious Night Watchman is. Robin just smiles, knowing full well what's going to happen, and answers Guy's question by saying: "I don't know who the Night Watchman is. But when I see him, I'll give him a kiss." Two seconds later, the Night Watchman turns up to save his ass. And yeah, in case you haven't guessed the obvious, the Night Watchman is Maid Marian.
- Aeryn gets kidnapped in the last season of Farscape. She's tied up, tortured, and almost has her baby forcibly transplanted into another woman (Chiana, actually.) The team finally pulls a Big Damn Heroes rescue and next episode she's back to kicking butt and taking names.
- This is the only trope that can explain why Lady Emily Merchant of Primeval can kick all kinds of dinosaur and terror bird ass yet can also get kidnapped/put in mortal danger about four times within seven episodes.
- In the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episode "Foul Play in the Sky", Kimberly is going for a flight with her uncle Steve. Rita sees this as an opportunity to kill Kimberly, and has Squatt and Baboo spike Steve's soda with a delayed-effect sleeping potion. Kimberly spends several minutes stuck on the plane, but with Alpha's help makes a Crash-Course Landing and then saves her friends and single-handedly kills the Monster of the Week. In "Power Ranger Punks" she and Billy are confined to cages for most of the episode after Baboo spiked their fruit juice with a personality-deforming potion. Eventually they're cured, but Billy gets swallowed by the Terror Toad just like the others. Kimberly proceeds to free them and then kill the monster.
- Donkey Kong in Donkey Kong Junior and Donkey Kong Country 2. After defeating Kaptain K Rool in DKC2, he stands up again, seemingly Nigh Invulnerable. Donkey Kong decides he's had enough, bursts from his ropes and uppercuts K Rool out of the air ship, bouncing him off of each stage of Crocodile Isle before he chomped by a school of sharks.
- Donkey Kong also got kidnapped in Donkey Kong Country 3.
- Gunther Herrmann in Deus Ex, although this is closer to the whole Badass getting the Distress Ball.
- Lamia Loveless in Super Robot Wars at first is well known for her serious and analytical personality. The fact that she has some of the better Super Robot, has a high position and is the most senior of the new Aggressors (only Kai is more senior than her) all points out that she is one of the more Badass characters. Yet, in OG Gaiden, she is captured by the ODE while having no way to enter her mech, spurred the rest of the EFA to rescue her, ends up getting shot down near dead by an Big Bad Wannabe, Came Back Wrong by another enemy and even spurring an ex-enemy of hers to rescue her, making it look like she got hit by Chickification. Fortunately for her, once she recovered, it doesn't take another game for her to be active in battlefield again and her skills did not deteriorate, she's still the same effective soldier she was in the previous titles.
- Richter Belmont from Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles was a Knight in Shining Armor in his debut, rescuing a grand total of 4 girls from Dracula's captivity. However, Symphony Of The Night had him being captured and Brainwashed, motivating Maria Renard (whom he rescued previously) and Alucard to rescue him. After rescued, even though he didn't come back into action again, he is later marked as the strongest Belmont, so much that even memories of him from the whip could give Jonathan Morris a good dose of schooling.
- In Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic escapes from GUN once, but is captured again partly due to Shadow. He gets rescued by Tails and Amy, and proceeds to kick ass. The game culminates in Shadow calling him the Ultimate Lifeform, a title Shadow once claimed for himself, if you take long enough against the final boss. Guess which one of three characters survives that final battle with their memory intact? It sure isn't Shadow, and we know it wasn't the FinalHazard.
- In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, the first part of the game revolves around the kidnapping of Knuckles. Subverted in that when the party reach where he was being held hostage, he has just finished escaping by himself.
- In Valkyria Chronicles, the DLC mission featuring Selvaria puts her into this situation, though she's not captured, just on the very verge of being captured. Considering that she's pretty much the only one capable in her squad, she struck on an advance force... only to fall into Damon's trap whereas she's gassed and her body becomes numb. Rescuing her becomes the mission objective whereas the only one who can rescue her is the meeky engineer Johann. Once he got near her, Selvaria can resume kicking ass.
- Toon Link has a history of this. He may be very badass, but if he acts without thinking or gets hit by a surprise-attack, he's quite easy to take down. Ganondorf gets him almost killed twice in the game Tetra saved him both times. and later, in The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass, he loses his sword and gets caught by Bellum's tentacles. Surprisingly, Linebeck saves him.
- Played straight AND subverted in the storyline for Super Smash Bros Brawl: Multiple times, characters are defeated and captured, ( including more than two dozen of them at one point) and proceed to kick ass after being freed. Subverted in that the Master Hand was Tabuu's prisoner, but when it attacks Tabuu after being freed, Tabuu defeats and possibly kills the Master Hand effortlessly.
- Fate/stay night. Saber in the Unlimited Blade Works route got her contract removed by Caster and was caught, and was given a sexy outfit while being restrained by magic and is being coaxed to be Caster's servant, with only her high magic resistance to avoid being completely dominated, and it takes Rin's Xanatos Gambit and Lancer's sudden offer for help (stalling Archer who turned coat) for Shiro to eventually save Saber... and Rin formed a new contract on Saber, amping her skills Up to Eleven, technically making her even more Badass than she was in Shiro's contract.
- Super Princess Peach is this trope turned into a game. The premise is after all is for the local, daily Distressed Damsel Princess Peach to save the day, saving the local, daily hero Mario, now turned Distressed Dude. It only lasts for one game.
- In Super Mario 64 DS, Mario actually starts out kidnapped by Bowser (along with Luigi and Wario). You start off as Yoshi, who was Late to the Party.
- On that note, let's not forget Luigi's Mansion, where Mario is kidnapped by King Boo. Or the first time our favourite plumber was kindapped, Mario Is Missing...okay, maybe we can forget that one.
- Super Joe in the NES version of Bionic Commando and its XBLA remake.
- Adam, one of the playable characters in Streets of Rage, is captured by Mr. X in Streets of Rage 2. He's not playable in the third game, but shows up in a Big Damn Heroes cutscene near the beginning of the final stage. The fangame Streets of Rage Remake puts him back into full throttle action.
- Can happen to the player character in Dragon Age. You don't have to wait around to be rescued, but some of the funniest cutscenes in the game occur if you do.
- Of course, the more stubborn, proud or simply skilled players will likely never go to that point unless they intentionally lose to That One Boss.
- In Splinter Cell Conviction, Victor "Vic" Coste is captured by Black Arrow and is interrogated and he recounts the tale of how Sam kicked their asses. In the final cutscene he tells them that Sam is taking care of his family and that he said that he loved him like a brother when the alarms sound signaling Sam breaching the premises. And we have a cut of Vic trough a camera saying "Thought so" in the most badass way possible.
- Zero from Mega Man X is captured by Vile in the first of the fortress levels, and X has to fight the latter to set him free. It's still a Hopeless Boss Fight, and Zero had to break out of his electric cage to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to save X again.
- In Knights of the Old Republic 2 the player character at one point gets captured and put on Goto's yacht, requiring the rest of the team to go and save him/her.
- A case of a lesser badass needing rescue by the bigger badass: At the beginning of Mass Effect, three of the teammates you have to recruit, Garrus, Tali, and Liara are in trouble and you have to save them from some attackers: In Tali's and Garrus' case, it's a few thugs, and in Liara's case it's a Krogan Battlemaster and several Geth troopers. After they get on your squad however, they start pulling their own weight and generally kicking ass. In the sequel, to recruit Garrus and Tali again, you have to save them again, this time from much bigger threats. With Tali, it's several hundred Geth Troopers and a Colossus (basically a giant sentient robotic spider tank), and with Garrus it's wave after wave of mercenaries from three different criminal groups. Similar to the last game, they go back to being badass after the rescue.
- Meta Knight, twice, in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror and Kirbys Epic Yarn. In the former he was trapped in a mirror world while his evil doppelganger ran around causing trouble, and in the latter he was possessed by Yin-Yarn.
- Agent Tex from Red vs. Blue, easily the most Badass character in the series (especially in Revelation), regularly gets captured and requires the assistance of the far less competent Reds and Blues.
- I Love Bees: Action Girl Jan James becomes one when gangster Thin Kinkle kidnaps her.
- Whateley Universe example: In "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy", the team is trapped in a Lotus Eater Machine and every one of them has to be rescued, except the one generally regarded as the weakest member of the team. Since they take turns rescuing each other, there's a lot of Badassery to go around. The only one who doesn't get a turn is Tennyo.
- To answer the picture caption above, it's The Joker.
- The episode in question is "Mad Love", and was based on a comic released prior. To elaborate the situation: Harley Quinn had kidnapped Batman, with the intent to kill him in a vat of piranhas, to woo the Joker. Batman convinces Harley to show the Joker just how well she's done, because the piranhas would leave no evidence. She does so, but much to her surprise, he flies into a tizzy about Batman being HIS to defeat, and, after punishing Harley for her insubordination (by tossing her out a window), ends up freeing Batman to finish the job himself. Batman planned for this exact reaction - he explains on the page image for Batman Gambit.
- In an episode of Static Shock, Static ends up getting sent forty years into the future, where he ends up helping Batman's successor rescue his future self.
- In an episode of Justice League, Batman is captured by Lex Luthor's Injustice Gang, and held captive for the majority of the episode while the rest of the league tries to find Luthor. He spends the whole time playing the gang's members against each other and undermining their trust. When the League does show up and everything's going to hell, Joker tries to take the opportunity to finally off Batman... who is no longer restrained, and reveals he could've gotten out whenever he wanted, but stuck around to keep an eye on things.
- From Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Boiling Rock rescue is one big example of this. It started off when Sokka wanted to rescue Hakoda, who is indisputably a badass. He ends up rescuing not only Hakoda but Suki as well, who is also a badass. It takes the combined badassitude of Sokka, Zuko, Hakoda, Suki, Chit Sang, and Mai and Ty Lee for the rescue to be successful.
- Many of the more recent animated Scooby Doo features have upgraded Daphne from the standard Distressed Damsel of the original and earlier works, following the first live-action movie's portrayal by Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame.
- In Jonny Quest the Real Adventures, Memetic Badass Race Bannon does wind up captured or otherwise in trouble quite a few times. This is because the creative team meant to empower the kids a bit more than they were in classic Jonny Quest, plus his daughter Jessie is among the main cast so they wanted her and the boys to help him.
- Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is the main cast's Badass Bookworm who is also one of the most powerful magic users in the show, but in The Stare Master, she was turned to stone by a cockatrice which left Fluttershy to protect the kids she was babysitting and save Twilight.
- Princess Celestia is essentially this in both the series pilot and the Season 2 finale. She's generally acknowledged to be the Big Good of the series, but is defeated readily enough by Nightmare Moon (implied) and the queen of the changelings (shown on screen), respectively, leaving it to Twilight and friends to deal with the threat. (Not counting Discord here as he's less a personal threat and more a global disaster with a sick sense of humor; everypony is equally helpless against him until the plot coupons finally come together at the end of "The Return of Harmony".)
- In the first episode of Young Justice, all three of the main heroes at the time (Kid Flash, Aqualad and Robin) get captured by Cadmus; it takes Robin approximately two minutes to break them out, while getting shocked the entire time.
"Luckily Batman isn't here - he'd have my head for taking so long."
- Voltron: Legendary Defender begins with Takashi "Shiro" Shirogane and his companiosn being captured by the Galra Empíre...