Top 10 Damsels in Distress

Heroes: the paragons of one’s journeys through many woven adventures. All require a call to action to venture forth into the dangerous worlds that surround them, and who better than the ever-so-patient Damsels in Distress. Followed by grace and great power that leads to their capture, the brave and heroic champions always rise to the occasion. Dating back as the catalyst for any adventure, the more modern appearances have shifted the damsel into the unsung hero of the adventure, becoming a vital thread that unravels the master plot of evil, bringing tranquility back to the lands.  Kept within a cage, but not lost without power, the key ideal that represents all within this category.

With all of these perilous ladies being captured by the machinations of treachery and evil, there are the few that offer more support, even through their capture. Willing to rise above the frightening circumstances that surround them and truly become a hero in their own rights, guiding their rescuer closer to the trail. Help and capture may fall many times within the journeys of these fair maidens, with moments of heroic feats to be achieved by the once-captured. More than just an end goal for the protagonist of the adventure, I count down the top 10 Damsels in Distress.

10. Princess Peach

Princess Peach, Super Mario, Princess Toadstool, Mushroom Kingdom

Iconic yet approaches the words used to describe Princess Peach. Locks of Blonde and the frilly pink dress are dead giveaways of the Mushroom Kingdom’s princes. Hosting the most captures of any damsel on this list, Mario is left to fend the journey himself all too often.

While whisked away to wherever Bowser or any other entity of evil is bringing her, Peach is always in precarious situations. Forcing her rescuers to traverse through the many dangers of the Mushroom Kingdom, or any other world they are brought to, all to rescue her hand. Though becoming someone who can fend for herself within combat many times throughout the games, she never directly engages with her kidnappers, nor assists Mario through any means. It is this reason she falls to the bottom of this list of damsels, distressed though never willing to take a brave stance in the face of fear. Assistance is only given after the rescue in the form of baking a cake and commending the heroes on their efforts, making the journey feel satisfying. That being said, she was weak when put in the sights of evil, non reactive to the greater plot or even Mario himself.

9. Sue Sakamoto

Sue Sakamoto, Cave Story, Quote, Curly Brace

Donning a blue sweater and cursed with the adorably fluffy appearance of a Mamiga, an anthropomorphic cross between a rabbit and a dog,  Sue Sakamoto tries her best to help the heroes in the adventures of Cave Story. With a very wanting admirer looming over her in an unfamiliar city, it rests on the protagonist Quote to saver Sue and her brother Kazuma.

Escape, the first word that flutters through her mind. Not by being captured, but by escaping the island. Devising a secure trip for her and her friends off this strange island is the main goal she sets, attempting to procure Sky Dragons. Unfortunately, a shadow was wafting in the darkness as Igor struck her down. Hope is not lost as Quote is there to save her. Though dismissive of her recent rescuer, Sue is also grateful. With an egg about to hatch, and Kazuma knowing the code to open the egg, Sue rushes toward home and is then captured and sent to the Doctor. Determined not to be pushed to the side, she helps guide Quote through his journey. Becoming a constant struggle on freedom, Sue is never deterred to give up onto those she holds dear, nor frightened to face the threat of the Doctor’s evil plans.

8. Julia

Julia, Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War

Filled with trauma from past experiences, Julia becomes a center point within the villain’s plan in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Forgotten memories plague her mind as she is snatched by the Manfroy. It is up to Sigurd and his army to rescue their friend before she becomes a tool for the enemy.

In the confines of Chalphy Castle her memories become restored, though it is more of a tragic remembrance than a joyous. Her returned thoughts do not last long before her thought is thrashed with mind control. Forcing a turncoat on the allied army of Seliph, she becomes a weapon of evil before eventually freed. With the loss of memory she does not offer much to the allies she travels with, perhaps faded fragments of her past. However, she does become a part of the player’s army, deepening the impact of capture. Her arc, though happening suddenly, greatly expands upon the overall plot. So much importance is bestowed upon her, she becomes a ruler alongside Emperor Seliph. A tragic story of loss ties many threads within the full weave, creating a forcible sense of power emanating from this maiden.

7. Palutena

Palutena, Kid Icarus, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Angel Land

Benevolence is the word that describes Lady Palutena, the rightful ruler of Angel Land. Hosting counterpart to the malevolent Medusa, she rules justly and with whim. This image is shattered when she is detained by Medusa, relying on her loyal subject Pit to take flight and save the heavens.

Offering aid at every step of Pit’s journey, she first bestows the power of flight. Later arming her captain with the sacred bow, Palutena allows Pit to be the rescuer. Wielding this power, Palutena has opened up the possibility of Pit collecting the Three Sacred Treasures and vanquishing this plague upon Angel Land. Accomplishments made throughout the journey are moved along by the good graces of Palutena, making her a focal point of success within the grand scheme. While even held in the clutches of Medusa, her trust in her allies inspires her through the long-awaited sentence. Blessed with the knowledge of knowing who to send after her, Palutena becomes the puppet master for the downfall of Medusa. Trust stands as a key ideal within her heart, with the calm mannerisms from capture allowing her to start the adventure. Without the bravery and faith residing in Palutena, Kid Icarus would have never gotten off its feet

6. Bastilla Shan

Bastilla Shan, Star Wars, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Lightsaber, Jedi

In a galaxy far far away, as the stars are plagued by a sith war against the galaxy, it is up to the rescue and loyalty of Bastilla Shan, a master of battle meditation, to sway the war toward the dark or light in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. with the escape of imminent danger that befell a republic cruiser, Bastilla and the main protagonist are cast down to the sith-controlled planet of Taris. It is up to the bravery of the recent republic recruit, Carth Onasi, and many other allies to locate Bastilla.

Taris is the beginning stage for the journey, with the goal being to find traces of Bastilla throughout this city, though offering no help during the investigation. When the party “rescues” Bastilla, meaning she had the entire situation under control, she notices the protagonist’s atonement with the force and begins him on the path of the jedi. Through the mentoring and guidance of the light, a twist of irony befell Bastilla as she turns into a thrall of the dark side later in the adventure. A damsel turning antagonist by an evil force, one may either join the dark siding with Bastilla or convince her of the power of the light side. A gripping character is portrayed, becoming a mirror of the protagonist and a crux of power for the war itself.

5. Luna Platz

Luna Platz, Luna Shirogane, Mega Man, Mega Man Star Force

Perfection, every plan and idea has to meet this expectation in the mind of Luna Platz from the rarely known game of Mega Man Star Force. Resentment led Luna down a dark path as Ophiuca feeds off that essence, relying on Mega Man to save the day.

The 5th grade class president was torn from her loyal subjects by the care of their parents. Thinking the friends made were holding back Luna’s abilities, it instead sent her spiraling toward evil clutches. Caught in the middle of Mega Man’s perilous plights, she becomes the damsel within this story. Though not particularly seen as being too helpful, her development as a character throughout the trilogy of games is touching, and spans much deeper. With her being one of the few knowing Mega Man’s secret identity, trust is present within their relationship, a blossomed love that gets stronger with the choices made. Though not offering helpful knowledge or combat superiority, she instead gives a sense of hope upon the darker times in their adventures. An emotional level of support that deepens the strengths of Mega Man as a person, allowing him to be the paragon that others view him to be.

4. Maya Fey

Maya Fey, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Justice for All

Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique and close friend of Phoenix Wright is the joyous goofball Maya Fey. Through the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series of games, Maya gets in deep legal trouble a lot, always counting on Nick to bust her out with a Not Guilty verdict. He once even stooped into the territory of kidnapping her. Phoenix focused on nothing except the pure pursuit of freeing her.

Being a master channeler has its perks for her and Phoenix. Throughout many cases she calls upon this power in times of need so Phoenix can consult his deceased mentor, Mia Fey, always remembering to tackle cases from a different angle than before. Maya serves as the Watson to Phoenix’s Sherlock, creating a wide array of thinking for each case. Sometimes Maya becomes truly unavailable to Phoenix, though many helpful relics, such as the magatamas, grant him the power he needs to prove Maya’s or whomever’s innocence. Stretching far beyond the boundaries of romantic love, into the type of fraternal love that is sweet and soothing to the soul. Both will always have each other’s backs in the most dire of circumstances, proving that damsels can be just as important as the heroes they admire and rely on.

3. Rosa Joanna Farrell

Rosa Joanna Farrell, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IV

Illness plagued the body of Rosa Joanna Farrell, a White Mage who gets hit with Desert Fever while trying to seek out Cecil in Final Fantasy IV. A valuable ally on the journey, Cecil and his crew expend resources to rescue her at any advantage.

Upon first meeting Cecil, Rosa instantly saw the good-hearted nature of him and questioned his reasoning for it. Not out of malice, but admiration to his holy aura protruding around him. Wanting to right the wrongs of her home nation, she ventures with his party and offers inspiration and support. A good soul met with many obstacles before her, requiring the others to rescue Rosa from the clutches of evil. She becomes worth saving for her strong loyalty to Cecil and the cause, following him into any obstacle—no matter the difficulty. This devotion blossoms into love for the two, forming a strong bond between the damsel and hero. To be fair, Rosa is a hero in her own right for the selfless action being made. Melding together many different aspects of the damsel in distress and creating a form of companionship and heroic valor exemplifies Rosa’s role within the adventure.

2. Elizabeth

Elizabeth, Anne DeWitt, Columbia, Bioshock Infinite

Floating in the clouds resides the spectacle city of Columbia, Elizabeth finds herself trapped within it in Bioshock Infinite. A part of two different realities through a fatal accident, it poses the unique power of tearing the space-time. A classic tale of a fair maiden growing up in a desolate tower protected by a guardian whom she grew to despise. She’s waiting to meet another human to rescue her from this fairy tail, and it just so happens to be Booker DeWitt.

Escort missions are never fun within a game, they’re tedious and many resent them. However, even though Booker is rescuing Elizabeth, much could be argued that it’s actually the other way around. Elizabeth offers an immense amount of utility and support to Booker that—at times—it seems she is escorting him out of Columbia. A twist upon the classic trope, Elizabeth becomes more of a self-established heroine within the game. A great dynamic is seen between these two characters, relying Peach, on each other for survival. Neither can escape without the help of the other. Elizabeth becomes a strong ally to her rescuer, allowing them to easily traverse the obstacles found throughout the floating city of Columbia.

1. Princess Zelda

Princess Zelda, Hyrule Warriors, Legend of Zelda, Sheik, Tetra

Born with a legend chronicling her legacy, Princess Zelda upholds the building blocks of the perfect damsel. True, there are many iterations with the royal Hylian family dawning the same name, all represent similar philosophies. holder of the Triforce of Wisdom and ruler of the lands, whenever she is captured, Link is always there to answer her prayers.

No stranger to combat, her many legacies take the blade and help Link throughout his quest. Whether it be as Tetra wielding the Master Sword, or as the self-saving alter ego Sheik. No matter which, she is always bestowed with magical essence that can turn the tide of whatever threat she faces. Princess Zelda is not seen as just an important part in the story, she constantly revolves herself around the story at large. She is the only Damsel on this list to be self-reliant on her abilities and escape her captors. That being said, she is always hopeful of Link’s continued support versus whatever evil plagues Hyrule. She understands and trusts her faithful hero, along with possessing the prowess of a hero herself. She is paragon within the game and truly deserving of the franchise name, the damsel that puts her enemies in distress.