Disney Princess

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"If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick... you're a princess."

Maui, in Moana

Disney Princess is a franchise incorporating female heroines from the Disney Animated Canon, many of whom actually are princesses (by birth or marriage).

Disney officially applies this title to (in order of their film releases):

  1. Snow White
  2. Cinderella
  3. Aurora
  4. Ariel
  5. Belle
  6. Jasmine
  7. Pocahontas
  8. Mulan
  9. Tiana
  10. Rapunzel
  11. Merida
  12. Moana
  13. Raya

Disney has included others in the merchandise at times, such as Alice of Alice in Wonderland and Giselle of Enchanted, but they have never officially been added to the roster. Interestingly, the 2018 film Ralph Breaks the Internet shows the "canon" Disney Princesses accepting Vanellope Von Schweetz as one of their number after interrogating her about her qualifications, so we may yet see her added to the list. And neither Anna nor Elsa from Frozen were officially inducted into the line either; while they were given two-dimensional artwork and are commonly featured alongside the canon Princesses such as in Ralph Breaks the Internet, they are at most de facto members of the lineup as of 2024.

They were just a bunch of characters, but then people at Disney realized how popular they were with young girls, and then made a toy line of them in a manner like Barbie. This includes not only dolls, but a whole variety of merchandise, as is usual with Disney. The line also makes role models out of the princesses, often Anviliciously teaching the values of honesty, kindness and recycling in their Direct to Video shorts and films.

They also feature prominently in the Kingdom Hearts series, where many of them fill "Princess of Heart" roles, and had their own book series, Disney Girls, in which a handful of 9-year old girls in Orlando, Florida discover that they are Alternate Universe counterparts of the princesses. There was also a Shojo manga, Kilala Princess, that starred the princesses.

Compare Disney Fairies.

The Disney Princesses provide examples of the following tropes:
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Cinderella had titian hair and silver & white dress in her film, but is blonde with a blue dress in the franchise.
  • Action Girl: Mulan, Rapunzel and Moana. Ariel and Jasmine in their animated series. Cinderella got her turn in A Twist In Time. Jasmine is a borderline example in her movies, which is doubly apparent by the third one.
  • Age Lift: When Disney added Merida from Brave to the roster of official princesses in 2013, the depiction they initially gave her a makeover which, in the words of one newspaper, made her "slimmer, older and somewhat sexualised" compared to the rough-and-tumble teenager from the film. (After considerable outcry, they changed their minds and "de-glammed" her.)
  • Art Evolution: When the franchise first debuted in early 2000, the princesses were simply shown in their unmodified dressed from the films. Later on, they started to make their dresses more elaborate, such as giving them more frills, mink trims, recoloring them all gold, being encrusted with jewelry, making them sparkle, and now, having them appear metallic.
  • Artifact Title: It would seem so, but the Disney Princess line was created in 2000, and Mulan and Pocahontas were already inducted in. Disney's definition of "princess" is more "popular heroine", than a literal title. The less popular Disney heroines, like Esmeralda, Megara, Wendy, or Alice, are occasionally seen in merchandise, but were never a part of the official line-up. Eilonwy and Kida, on the other hand, are not so lucky (they even admitted that in order to have Kida in the line-up, Eilonwy must be included as well).
  • Authority in Name Only: The princess title is applied rather broadly to some of these characters. Only five out of ten were born royal, and three married into it (though one of those was to a prince in exile). However, Pocahontas and Mulan never actually become princesses. It's less of a stretch with Pocahontas being a chief's daughter, which is the closest thing to royalty in Native American culture. Mulan, on the other hand, actually avoids an opportunity to become a royal in a direct-to-video sequel. On the third hand, Captain Shang was the son of the General of the Imperial Army, so he could well have had some standing in the Chinese nobility (but not royalty) of the era. At the very least Mulan would have become a highly ranked noble.
    • Moana is only a chief's daughter and makes a point of it to the demigod Maui, but Maui insists she's a princess:

Moana: Okay, first, I am not a princess. I'm the daughter of the chief.
Maui: Same difference.
Moana: No.
Maui: If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you're a princess.

Given that her animal sidekick is a brain-damaged chicken, that's saying even less than it seems.
  • A November 2016 opinion piece in The Washington Post points out that Maui's summary is the most accurate description of Disney Princesses ever written:

For Disney, “princess” has just been shorthand for “girl at center of movie,” probably because women and girls have had to earn the right to even BE at the center of a movie — and being a princess was, for a long time, the only way for a woman to be seen as having a story worth telling.

  • Badass Princess: The only true exceptions might be Snow White and Aurora. The rest fit (through varying degrees of "badass"), even Cinderella managing it in her third movie. The ones that stand out most are Ariel, Rapunzel, Jasmine, and Mulan.
  • Barrier Maiden: In Kingdom Hearts, five of them - Snow White, Jasmine, Belle, Cinderella, and Aurora - are members of the "Seven Princesses". ( Alice and Kairi are the other two, making them honorary Princesses.) They collectively have the power to reveal the keyhole necessary to get to Kingdom Hearts, the origin of life in the universe and a recurring MacGuffin. This is why the bad guys are after them and Sora has to protect them.
    • The sequels add Rapunzel, Elsa, and Anna to this group; Ariel, Mulan, and Pocahontas have roles in some chapters, but are not Princesses of Heart.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: No force known to man can so much as muss up their hair or smudge their makeup, no matter what happens. Cinderella even looks gorgeous wearing pauper's rags.
  • The Beautiful Elite: All the princesses are attractive. Especially justified with Aurora in that she was given a blessing to be gorgeous.
  • The Beautiful Tropes: So many apply to them.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: Disney makes $4 Billion annually off of Disney Princess.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Pocahontas and Moana, literally. Merida is a borderline case.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Their most iconic dresses are still the base for many of their new outfits.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: In the Sleeping Beauty edition of the board game Pretty Pretty Princess, the player pieces are all Aurora in her bejeweled gown, but one is pink, one blue, one purple and one gold.
  • Costume Porn: And how! Particularly the holiday versions of their dresses—that much glitter has got to weigh a ton!
  • Detail-Hogging Cover: The artwork for their merchandise is way more detailed than in their movies.
  • Damsel in Distress: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora. Though honestly, it's not really fair to berate a comatose person for not joining in on the battle, and Cinderella never dealt with mortal peril. All of them have been in distress and needed to be rescued or had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps at some point, so technically they could all qualify.
    • Aurora was in fact in actual danger, but only for about 5 minutes before Merryweather altered the curse.
    • Cinderella didn't get in any immediate danger until the third movie when she was almost driven off a cliff by Human!Lucifer.
    • In the second movie, Ariel and Melody are taken hostage by Morgana. Ariel and her friends also get caught in the cartoon a few times.
    • Jasmine is trapped in an hourglass filling with sand, is threatened by a salesman for "stealing", and gets caught a lot in the cartoon.
    • Belle gets attacked by wolves.
    • In the sequel, Ratcliffe frames Pocahontas and she's taken to jail. Later, Ratcliffe tries to stab her to death.
    • Tiana gets caught by poachers along with Naveen.
    • Rapunzel is kidnapped by Gothel, later tied up, and gets taken a lot in the cartoon.
    • Merida only once, when she's attacked by Mor'du.
    • Moana is almost eaten by Tamatoa.
  • Dream Team: Ralph Breaks the Internet stands out as the first animated film to feature all of them, even having all the original still-living VAs. Only Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora needed theirs replaced.
  • Deuteragonist: Jasmine is the only one that does not get top billing, but arguably this Trope could apply to Aurora, Snow White, and maybe Belle. In all other cases, the Princess is the protagonist of the movie.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: In their movies, they have modest dresses that they wear most of the time, but in the merchandising, the fancy gowns are the most prevalent. In the Enchanted Christmas midquel, Belle's favorite outfit is a scarlet cloak and pink dress, both bordered in fluffy white fur. Averted with Merida, who even at her fanciest, before the fan outcry over her makeover, wore just a slightly sparklier version of her plain green linen tunic dress.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: All of them had to. Clearly, living Happily Ever After is not an easy goal to obtain.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Even when not all of them are, it's still better.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Often to unbelievable extents, especially in their holiday attire. During her brief "glam" phase after her inclusion in the line, even Merida's simple green linen dress somehow acquired a sparkly layer on it.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry And how!
  • Expy: Cinderella, Ariel and Belle get rock-star-doll counterparts in the form of Ella, Ari and Gabrielle - the popDreamers. There's a music album.
  • Eye Tropes: Most of them are pretty doe-eyed.
    • Brown Eyes: Snow White, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and Moana.
    • Blue Eyes: Cinderella, Ariel and Merida.
    • Green Eyes: Rapunzel.
    • Violet Eyes: Aurora. In close-ups her eye color is visible, but for the rest of the time her eyes are just plain Black Eyes.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Cinderella, Ariel and Tiana, and others just for the toy lines and artwork. And now you can buy one for your own wedding! Prior to Alfred Angelo designing those wedding gowns, Kirstie Kelly was in charge of "Disney Fairy Tale Weddings", and had four collections, each featuring lines inspired by Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Aurora and Snow White. Each collection featured bridal gowns, bridesmaids' dresses, flower girl dresses, and jewelery.
  • Follow the Leader: Barbie, in terms of the toys. Mattel is behind both doll franchises for a time until Hasbro took over production of the Disney Princess toy lines as well as for most other Disney-owned franchises.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Every Disney princess had some kind of Animal Friend, or even a whole posse: Snow White and Aurora had various woodland animals; Cinderella had birds, mice and a dog; Ariel had a fish, seagull and crab; Belle has her horse; Pocahontas had a raccoon, a humming bird, an army of pastel leaves, and later a pug; Mulan had a dragon, a cricket and her pet horse; Tiana had various bugs and a trumpet-playing alligator, and Rapunzel has her chameleon and later a horse ally. Bonus points to Jasmine, who had a pet tiger and used him to drive away unwanted suitors.
  • Gem-Encrusted: The Jewel Princess set has jewels studding their dresses and the fur on their capes.
  • Going Through the Motions: Everyone on the Disney Princess website.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: One of their holiday dress sets.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Although the exact period is a usually fuzzy.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple:
    • Rapunzel has her purple and lavender dress with pink touches.
    • Jasmine has a two: one she wears when her engagement with Ali is to be announced, and a slightly variated version seen in The Return of Jafar.
    • All the girls get a few in the various non-canonical outfits.
  • Hair Decorations: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora as a peasant, and Jasmine, all wear headbands. Cinderella, Ariel and Belle wear bows as commoners. Tiana and Aurora wear tiaras as princesses. Mulan is given a beautiful comb from her father, which she leaves in place of his military draft when she goes to the army. Rapunzel has her hair decorated with flowers when it's braided. Pocahontas never has anything in her hair (except in the sequel). Merida averts this; the only things likely to be in her hair are twigs and leaves.
  • "Happy Holidays" Dress: The girls have several variations over the years. Belle is notable for being the only princess to wear a holiday dress in a movie.
  • Hot Consort: Cinderella, Belle and Tiana. And it goes the other way too, Aladdin and Flynn marry into royalty, making them the Hot Consort.
  • Hotter and Sexier: In some stickers and pictures, they use the same pictures of the princesses as they always copy and paste onto merchandise, only there's a very noticeable cleavage line photoshopped onto their outfit. Rather jarring considering Snow White's both rather flat-chested and her dress is pretty high cut, yet she still apparently has the boob-line. She also gains a svelte, adult body in promotional art, although this has lessened in recent art, where they try to be more accurate to the movies.
  • Hourglass Hottie: Most of them, particularly those made during The Nineties. The exceptions are Snow White (who is supposed to be 14), Mulan and Rapunzel (who is wide in the hips, small in the bust). When Merida was added to the line-up in 2013, she got a makeover which slimmed her down into this (among other glamorizing changes), but Disney backed off on the changes after fans complained.
  • The Ingenue: Snow White is the most like this, and Rapunzel is a more modern version. Aurora and Cinderella have elements of this, but their purity and innocence is not played up so much as their romanticism and dreaminess.
  • "I Want" Song: In chronological order: "I'm Wishing"/"Someday My Prince Will Come", "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "I Wonder", "Part of Your World", "Belle (reprise)", "Just Around the Riverbend", "Reflection", "Almost There" and "When Will My Life Begin?". Unusually, it took Jasmine 15 years to get her own "I Want" Song. She didn't have one in the original Aladdin or in either of its sequels, but finally got one in her mini-movie on the Disney Princess Enchanted Tales DVD.
    • And in evidence for the "Vanellope is a Princess" position, she gets a melancholy "I Want" Song in Ralph Breaks the Internet - which happens after the Princesses told her about the existence of this trope.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Applies to most of the Disney princesses to some measure.
    • Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and Pocahontas have long hair.
    • Cinderella and Tiana have medium length hair.
    • Mulan originally had long hair, but after cutting it, she now has medium length hair.
    • Rapunzel was born with long hair that eventually grew up to 70 feet long, but after Flynn/Eugene cut it, Rapunzel's hair resembles a pixie cut.
    • Merida's tangled, curly mane of red reaches to just below her waist.
  • Magical Girl: There is a Manga in that genre, Kilala Princess, featuring most of the princesses. No, they are not magical girls themselves. They are just helping the heroine, who is. Rapunzel is a variation, as she has Magic Healing Hair.
  • The Merch
  • Missing Mom: Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and Pocahontas don't have mothers, but fathers.
  • Modular Franchise: No Disney Animated Canon work depicts these heroines together in any combination, but that's about the only place where they haven't been brought together. However, in pictures of the ladies all together, they are often shown staring off at various directions or looking straight ahead into the "camera": this was to acknowledge that they're not really "together" and existing in the same universe.
    • Though if this promotional artwork is any indication, Disney is starting to depict them all as friends.
    • As a matter of fact, Walt's nephew, Roy E. Disney, did object to the creation of the line, as he felt that it would undermine the princesses' individual mythologies if they were depicted together.
  • Multinational Team:
    • Snow White and Rapunzel (German).
    • Cinderella, Aurora, and Belle (French).
    • Ariel (Danish).
    • Jasmine (Arabian).
    • Merida (Scottish).
    • Tiana (American).
    • Moana (Polynesian).
    • Raya (Filipina).
  • Neutral Female: Despite being stereotyped as "sitting around waiting to be rescued", this trope is actually averted. Never has a Disney Princess stood and watched while the man fought; at worst they're incapacitated by magic or attempting to fight as best as they can. It is not the ideal, but at least they're not just standing there shrieking. Merida not only averts this trope, she throws it on the ground, stomps on it, and grinds it into the dirt. Interestingly, footage from the Ralph Breaks the Internet trailer show the Princesses as being very aware of both this trope and how it's incorrectly applied to them.
  • No Name Given: Snow White, Cinderella and Belle's respective beaus in their respective movies. However, in some expanded universe media, Snow White's prince is referred to as Florian, though he is also often erroneously referred to as "Ferdinand" (which stemmed from an Oscars speech by Shirley Temple), and the Beast was given the name Adam in a CD-ROM game made by Disney. Cinderella's prince, according to Disney press material, is actually named "Charming".
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Pretty much a prerequisite—see Friend to All Living Things above.
  • Opera Gloves: Cinderella, Belle and Tiana.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: In Ralph Breaks the Internet all of them seem like they're about to react with violence towards Vanellope, who's less than half the size of even one of them. To be fair, Vanellope did take them by surprise.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Pose
  • Parental Abandonment: Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora for the first 16 years of her life.
  • Parent Service: Pocahontas, Jasmine and Ariel in the films. The merch tends to make all the girls a bit curvy.
  • Pimped-Out Cape: With their holiday dresses.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Loads of their dresses are pimped-out versions of dresses they wore in their movies.
  • Pink Product Ploy: The color of their products is almost always pink.
  • Pretty in Mink: Many of their holiday dresses have fur trim. One set was their dresses all trimmed with white fur and them carrying white fur muffs.
  • Princess Classic: Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora. The other princesses, when in their ballgowns, sometimes get placed over here.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle and Rapunzel each have at least one dress that is pink, though none of them are the main costumes within their movies.
  • Public Service Announcement: Cinderella has one reminding parents that children less than 4'9" (145 cm) tall need a booster seat when riding in a car. (She is the only one whose originating fairy tale specifically states that she goes for a ride in a wheeled vehicle.) Ariel and Aurora promote ocean protection and forest fire prevention, respectively. Belle and her friends head a campaign for healthy eating and exercise.
  • Purity Personified: Snow White (as her name implies), Cinderella and Aurora are usually depicted as being the most innocent (and flawless) -- the other princesses at times count, too.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Jasmine's hair goes down to her thighs, and Rapunzel's hair is long enough to reach down a tower.
  • Rebellious Princess: Ariel and Jasmine. And Mulan, though she's not technically a princess. Belle, though she too is not technically a princess, could be considered this as she refuses to bow to Gaston's will and submit to the role that her gender was usually placed in, and she does actually yell at the Beast once and refuses to be cowed by his rudeness either.
    • Merida owns this trope; it's the core of her own story, after all.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Especially with their holiday dresses.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Par for the course for a Disney Princess animal sidekick.
  • Rags to Riches: Generally true for the ones who are princesses-through-marriage, Cinderella likely being the best example.
  • Royal Blood: Obviously, all of them have some claim to royalty, but being a princess-by-marriage is acceptable. This Trope is only is relevant to a few of them, including Merida, Aurora, Rapunzel, and—to some degree—Jasmine. Snow White is of royal blood as well, but it isn't of any importance to the story.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: With the possible exception of Aurora, all of them take at least some initiative on their own, either originally or after Character Development. Some that stand out: Ariel (first Disney Princess to actually rescue her prince), Belle (offers herself as a hostage to protect her father), Mulan (dresses as a boy to join the Chinese army), and Tiana (holds two part-time jobs as a waitress to save money to open her own restaurant; that's commitment).
  • Rule of Glamorous: All of them are beautiful, and tend to play up the part with fancy hairstyles and ballroom gowns.
  • Shallow Love Interest: The blandness of the Snow White's Prince and Prince Charming (and occasionally Prince Phillip and Prince Eric) is subject to much mocking by fans. The princes with the most development—Aladdin, the Beast and Naveen—also are in the title of the movie, or otherwise the title doesn't mention a character at all, in the case of Flynn. The only exceptions are John Smith and Shang. Cinderella's prince got a lot more likeable and charismatic in the sequels, in particular Twist in Time. Part of why Snow White's and Cinderella's princes are so bland is that the animators had difficulty animating realistic men. They originally had a much larger part in the story, but due to time constraints and difficulty, their role was slashed.
  • Shiny Midnight Black: Snow White, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tiana [2]
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Even though some of the princes are undeveloped, all of them are good men—or at least, in the case of Naveen, the Beast and Flynn, become so at the end of their movies. Merida's apparent beau at the end of Brave appears to be a good man, but gets so little screen time it's hard to be sure.
  • Special Guest: All have appeared - separately - on the Disney Junior cartoon Sofia the First; the protagonist of the show is something of a "princess in training" who, in effect uses a magical amulet whenever she needs advice from a "professional" Princess.
  • Sliding Scale of Beauty: This is Disney so none of the princesses ever fall below World Class Beauty standards, though one or two repeatedly get mentioned as being the most beautiful both within their respective universes and sometimes even in Real Life. Snow White is actually "the Fairest of them All", according to the Magic Mirror. This is usually visually represented by having the female lead drawn differently in comparison to other female characters. The best example would be that of Belle and the Bimbettes.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Oh, so very shiny.
  • Stillborn Franchise: At least six new shorts were prepared for a direct-to-DVD series called Disney Princess Enchanted Tales, but the ban on Direct to Video Disney sequels killed the line after the first volume. As a result, only one Aurora short and one Jasmine short became available, and the ones for Belle, Mulan and Cinderella (as well as a second one for Aurora) might never see light of day.
  • Teen Protagonist: The majority of the princesses are around the 16-18 age range. The exceptions to these are Pocahontas (in her twenties, in defiance of history), Tiana (age 19), and Snow White (age 14). The reason for this is to better fit the target demographic, who probably relate better to protagonists in the above age range.
  • The Theme Park Version:
    • The merchandise and sequels as compared to the original films. This hits the first three princesses especially hard, because while the later ones are remembered for a few stock traits, any semblance of a personality from the earliest princesses is replaced with generic "sweetness". Can you imagine the plastic heroine of Cinderella II going after a cat with a broom?
    • In Belle's Magical World, the Beast's castle looks like a bland fairy-tale castle whereas it looked gothic and elegant in the original film. They manage this even when showing the same rooms which appeared in the original film.
  • Tomboy Princess: Merida, all the way.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ariel and Jasmine in their animated series. And Cinderella and her prince in A Twist In Time. And Rapunzel and Mulan in the course of their actual movies. Merida started out at level 10 and kept going.
  • Trope Overdosed: At least overdosed on the Princess Tropes.
  • True-Blue Femininity: This is at least as common a color for them as pink. Most of these ladies have at least one outfit in this color, whether their grand dresses, or simple dresses.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: There are apparently a lot of variations that can be made based on their gowns. Ralph Breaks the Internet shows they can dress down in sweaters and jeans now and then.
  • Vile Villain Saccharine Show: What do we have as the bad guys? An evil queen/WickedStepmother, another (non-royal) wicked stepmother, an evil draconic fairy, an octopus sea witch, an egomaniac hunter/bully, an Evil Chancellor-turned-Evil Sorcerer, an evil British governor, a ruthless Hun leader, a witch doctor that can manipulate shadows, and an abusive old woman who poses as the parent of her kidnappee.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: A few games and on their main site now. Some of the dresses they wear are heavy on the Artistic License, as they make absolutely no sense for the time period or area that they live in. Mulan's many European ball gowns for one.
  • Voice Types: In the musical films the princesses are likely to be sung by sopranos.
  1. Clockwise from bottom center: Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel, Aurora, Belle. Center: Tiana
  2. All five are also all the princesses with Brown Eyes as well.