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File:RapunzelTower 4197.jpg

Shrek: Go over there and see if you can find any stairs.

Donkey: Stairs? I thought we was lookin' for the Princess.

Shrek: The Princess will be at the top of the stairs in the highest room in the tallest tower.

Donkey: Well, what makes you think she'll be there?

Shrek: I read it in a book once.

The standard place to imprison distressed damsels and overthrown princes: A tower. Preferably the tallest tower, in the biggest castle, on the highest hill, in the most dangerous land in the whole wide world. After all, It's All Upstairs From Here.

May be attached to an Evil Tower of Ominousness or The Alcatraz, although some are freestanding. A Bedsheet Ladder is an invaluable tool in such cases. Possibly inspired by the Tower of London; originally a royal residence, the Tower later became a prison that was often used to house royal prisoners.

Examples of Girl in the Tower include:


Comic Books

Fairy Tales



  • The original Man in the Iron Mask was said to have been held in a tower in the Bastille.
  • The overthrown king Peter's imprisonment in the tower called "The Needle", in Stephen King's novel The Eyes of the Dragon.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Donella Hornwood got locked in a tower by Ramsay Snow. Sansa Stark was also held in one in Maegor's Holdfast after her father and members of his household were killed. Neither of them were rescued during their stays in their respective towers, though Lady Donella's fate is considerably worse.
    • The fourth book of the series has a chapter called "The Princess in the Tower" about Princess Arianne of Dorne after she has tried and failed to crown Myrcella Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and start a war with the Lannisters.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian story "The Hour of the Dragon," the Countess Albiona (a supporter of King Conan) is imprisoned in the Iron Tower of Tarantia because she refused to become the consort of a tyrannical puppet king. Conan infiltrates the tower through a hidden door, kills her jailors, and rescues her.
    • Also, in The People of the Black Circle the Devi Yasmina is captured and imprisoned in a tower atop Mount Yimsha. This time, Conan infiltrates the tower with the help of an enchanted girdle that protects him from the magic of the evil wizards within.
  • Done to Bellina in The Elenium. Subverted in that she is a cannibalistic Eldritch Abomination worshipper who needs to be locked away for the good of the surrounding villages.
  • The abducted Princess Eilonwy is found in a tower of her ancestral home, Caer Colur, in the third book of the Chronicles of Prydain.
  • In The Silmarillion, Luthien is put in a treehouse high enough to be considered a tower. She escaped.
  • In Gene Wolfe's Pandora by Holly Hollander, at the end, Holly decides on Staying with Friends. The friends look her over and conclude that since she's a teenaged girl, obviously she get the tower room.

Live Action TV

  • Clementina from Carrusel is kept locked away in her own home after her parents are hospitalized and she's in the care of her very overprotective aunts.
  • The Legend of Dick and Dom episode "Princess Gladys" features the heroes rescuing the Princess though not her sister from the top of a tower in a castle guarded by the Evil Dancing Dolphins of Doom.


  • Happens to Princess Jasmine in the play Sheik, Rattle and Roll, where she insists on finishing her song before allowing herself to be rescued..

Video Games

  • Princess Cassima of King's Quest VI Heir Today Gone Tomorrow spends most of the game in a tower. In fact, her musical motif is called "Girl in the Tower."
  • Raz must make his way up Thorney Tower in Psychonauts, to rescue the Girl in the Tower.
  • Dragon Quest IV has Rose, hidden away in a tower because Humans Are Bastards.
  • ZUN, creator of Touhou, must be fond of this trope:
    • Imperishable Night: In Eientei, Kaguya is safely hidden at the end of a long, long corridor that leads to outer space.
    • Perfect Cherry Blossom: While it's more of an afterlife, the Hakugyokurou where Yuyuko resides is translated as "White Jade Tower". It's located high above the storm clouds.
    • Embodiment of Scarlet Devil: Subverted, Flandre is hidden in the underground cellar.
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village has the Baron's daughter of the titular village living in a tower, and the heroes eventually rescue her at the game's ending. This is something of a twist on the trope, however, because she's not imprisoned up there - she can leave the tower whenever she pleases, and in fact is seen doing so (though the heroes don't know who she is at the time). She just can't leave the village.
  • The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess has Link first meet the imprisoned Zelda in the tallest tower of Hyrule Castle, at which point he's informed that it's not just his home village that's in danger.
  • In the PC game Love Chronicles: The Sword and the Rose, the Prince needs to get into the castle tower to rescue the Princess, who is being held prisoner by a hideous beast. But when he finally gets to the tower, he finds only the beast. The beast is actually the ensorcelled Princess.

Web Animation

Web Comics

Western Animation

Real Life

  • What happened to Princess Gwenllian of Wales and her cousins after Wales was conquered by England. In the newborn Gwenllian's case, it was not just to keep her from marrying and having children when older, but to keep her completely hidden from the world.
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