Fallen Princess

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

To have learnt to live on the common level
Is better. ...
To be rich and powerful brings no blessing;
Only more utterly

Is the prosperous house destroyed, when the gods are angry.
Nurse, Medea

She's got everything: brains, good looks, perfect hair, shiny white teeth and a body most people would kill for. Of course, this genetic good fortune comes with social perks—so it is that our beautiful heroine is on the cheerleading squad of her local school and dating a jock. She also does her best to avoid the nerds and outcasts, though usually just because she can't afford to lose credibility in her peers' eyes rather than because she's a bully. This is usually emphasized by making her best friend the Alpha Bitch.

But then something happens. She turns out to be The Chosen One, perhaps, or gets covered in radioactive green goo that gives her superpowers, or whatever. For whatever reason, the very thing that makes her a hero also makes her an outcast. Now she sits on the outskirts of her school's peer groups with a rag-tag bunch of fellow 'losers'. At first she regrets not being able to rejoin the jet set, but her drop in status opens her eyes to the goodness and decency of the people she once rejected. She becomes a better person, the (suspiciously attractive) geeks get a cool friend and all of them save the world and solve mysteries together. Awww, bless.

Alternatively, the Fallen Princess can be a secondary character who is initially portrayed as the Alpha Bitch, but who is revealed to be insecure or to have other sympathetic traits that make the audience like her, prior to her taking a leap down in the social strata.

This trope appears a lot in science fiction and fantasy shows, since their target audience is generally exactly the same kind of geek that the princess ends up hanging out with. Thus they can simultaneously fetishize the cheerleader image while assuaging their perceived audience by confirming their beliefs that all cheerleaders (and people in the higher strata of the school system) are stuck up snobs, with few exceptions. It also lionises the viewer by showing the geeks to be more interesting and 'cool' in their own way than the cliques. Of course, the character doesn't have to be a cheerleader for it to work - just someone who's in a clique of attractive, desirable and deeply unpleasant people.

Also could work perfectly with actual princesses (or just an upper-crust heroine). A low-life "peasant" or modern equivalent may fall in love with her. But in a random wave of unsurprising angst, says this line, most of the time word-for-word:

"She's a princess... and I'm...just a street rat..."

If a miracle doesn't interfere, he will then give up completely.

Contrast Alpha Bitch, Princess in Rags. Compare the Ojou.

Examples of Fallen Princess include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Gundam series has a long history showcasing this trope.
  • Code Geass has Nunnally Lamperouge, a literal princess if down a bit on the Imperial pecking order. Crippled, blinded and exiled with her brother and as such left out of a lot of the general goings on by people just trying to protect. The Nightmare of Nunnally goes ever further with her being picked on by one of the school bullies who apparently doesn't know her princess status.
    • Cornelia starts season 2 as a more Rebellious Princess doing her own thing but falls and spends a large chunk of the rest of the season cooling her heels in a Black Knights prison cell.
    • Milly partially fits as well. She's not a princess, but her aristocratic family experienced quite the fall after Empress Marianne's death due to their ties to her.
  • Sara from Soukou no Strain
  • Izumi Himuro from Princess Nine starts the series as an almost literal princess. From a good (rich) family, going to a good (all girls) school (where her mom is the chair of the board), championship tennis player, and childhood friends with the future star of the (brother-school) baseball team. Quickly she finds out that her mother is forming a girls' baseball team (to play in the boys' league), and is taking a LOT of interest in their prodigy pitcher (as is her childhood friend). She drops tennis and takes a crash course in baseball, at first to destroy the team (in a challenge) later to prove something to her mother (and keep an eye on that pitcher/hussy). By the end of the story she's batting cleanup and driving the team to victory at all costs but isn't speaking with her mother and she's lost her "boyfriend". As her (American) voice actress said, "Izumi has...issues."
    • The dodgeball master and elite high schooler Eiko: as we begin to see her as less prissy and cruel with even a few sympathetic traits, she's seen less and less with her other elite friends and more with the possible, plucky love interest Naoya (who's a second year, the people she formerly tormented).
  • A more literal version: Asuna Kagurazaka from Mahou Sensei Negima. Of course, she doesn't even know she's really a princess... or even that she’s the main character’s aunt, and an Artificial Human, to boot. And by extension, Asuna's apparent older sister, Arika, who was wrongly blamed for causing the destruction of her country, and Negi himself, who is Arika's son, and thus a royal heir, though it took him a long time to find this out.
  • Yoruichi Shihouin from Bleach.
  • Shoukei from The Twelve Kingdoms.
    • The King of En, Shoryuu, was a male example, as a Japanese warlord who was in the losing side of a feudal war. He then was contacted by Enki, the kirin of En, and accepted to become the sovereign.
  • Lamda Nom from Dangaioh.
  • Another male example: Mamoru Takamura from Hajime no Ippo, disinherited by his rich family because of his violent behavior. He finds solace in boxing and a sort-of adoptive family in the Kamogawa gym.
  • Doc from Texhnolyze.
  • Oriko Mikuni from Puella Magi Oriko Magica.
  • Margot from Hana no Ko Lunlun.
  • Countess Larissa Mikhailovna from Haikara-san ga Tooru.
  • This is essentially the series metatrope of Revolutionary Girl Utena, with various characters, including Anthy, Kanae, Mrs. Ohtori and others all playing with this trope in a harsh deconstruction of prince and princess tropes.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Mary Jane Watson is a partial example. While she's certainly got the beauty, talent and apparent social standing to qualify as a "princess", and she now only hangs out with a few close friends while struggling to make ends meet, her powers have nothing to do with her isolation and her friends aren't really geeks.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The movie Heathers revolves around the sole non-Heather member of a clique of girls named Heather, who, with the help of an attractive but weird loner, decides to get back at them for their bullying ways with pranks which, though initially innocent, quickly turn into a killing spree.
  • A male example, Simba from The Lion King. Once a naive, curious cub, now a guilt-ridden lion who's lost faith in himself. Fortunately he's encouraged by his father's ghost (and getting hit with a stick), and pulls through.
  • A variation happens to Cady in Mean Girls where she's a Cool Loser to start the film off, then she becomes the Alpha Bitch and realises how much that life sucks before going back to her original self. Also happens to Regina who discovers that the whole school actually hates her but then reforms, joining the field hockey team to work on her anger issues. The end implies that she is a bit nicer as well.
  • Lilli in Snow White a Tale of Terror. She's forced to run away and try and live in the wild.


Folk tales[edit | hide]

  • In "Adalminas Pearl", this is the main plot. Adalmiina's fall is very hard, too: she goes from a spoiled, ultimately intelligent, extremely beautiful, unbelievably rich princess to literal rags in a moment (A faerie godmother did it.), and also loses her looks, smarts, and even her memory.
  • According to Kabbalah mysticism, the Shekhinah ("Presence"), a feminine divinity, was cast out when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and now wanders the world disconsolate. Jewish fairytales involving exiled princesses may be seen as metaphors for this idea.
  • The Grimm's fairy tale "King Thrushbeard" has an example of this. The main character is a princess who is such an Alpha Bitch that she doesn't consider any of her suitors worthy of her hand. Eventually, her frustrated father forces her to marry a poor peddler. One Humiliation Conga and a "My God, What Have I Done?" later, the peddler is revealed to the eponymous king, whom the princess had mocked earlier, and who officially marries her once she has learned her lesson.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • A basic example is A Little Princess when Sara feels like she's lost everything, ending when she remembers again that she is still a princess.
  • Sansa Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire is literally a fallen princess. The sister of a now dead king and the former betrothed of another king (also now dead), she has been reduced to pretending to be an absolute bitch for her own safety and under the orders of her Evil Mentor - and has become a smarter, better person for it.
    • Also her tomboyish sister Arya, who has become a pre-teen Dark Action Girl and member of a murdering cult.
    • Myrcella Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell may have just entered the ranks of the fallen at the end of A Feast For Crows.
    • To say nothing of Dany, who's been fallen pretty much since birth, but starts discovering her butt-kicking powers towards the end of A Game of Thrones.
  • Wallace Wallace in Gordon Korman's No More Dead Dogs is a rare male example of this trope: he's a benchwarmer who accidentally scored the winning goal of the football final. The next year, he gets detention and can't play for the team. He ends up hanging out with the theater nerds and... you can figure out where it goes from there.
  • In Joan D. Vinge's The Snow Queen and its sequels, BZ Gundhalinu is a male example: coming from the upper level of an extremely hierarchical society, he's thrown into unfamiliar circumstances by bad luck, attempts suicide because of the dishonor of it, and then realizes that life is actually better outside his former world.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Honour Guard, Kolea tells Curth that in joining the Ghosts, she has become this, since the two of them were not of anything like equal status back home—she would never have known his name. She shrugs it off: she knows many people of his status now.
  • Neone Delft of Stationery Voyagers discovers she is actually Princess Wendim Shinroff of Neomlot, and that Hidicky Delft was only some kind carpenter that adopted her after a particularly lazy Evil Sorcerer merely abandoned her in a dumpster to die. She is finally reunited with her biological parents; only she views her new life as a Voyager as her true Mission from God. After a brief moment of happiness, they tell her that bringing the family back together was all for nothing: Astrabolo is about to destroy everything and there is no hope. On the other hand, being unable to do anything whatsoever with her royal heritage doesn't get her too down: she had no intentions of actually saving Neothode anyway because she already realized it was hopeless.
  • Laurana in the Dragonlance novels is a Spoiled Sweet elven princess with a 100% Adoration Rating until she runs away from home to try and win back her half human ex-boyfriend. She is then completely ostracized for disgracing her family. When she returns home she is snubbed by everyone, her brother cruelly mocks her romantic difficulties and her father publicly calls her a whore and ends up disinheriting her. She still goes on though to become the Golden General.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Saro, after the magic renders her mute and dazed, ends up a Scullery Maid.
  • Princess Vivenna of Warbreaker. Leaves her country behind to rescue her little sister from an arranged marriage to someone everybody thinks is a Physical God Evil Overlord, falls in with a pair of mercenaries working against said Physical God who agree to help her only they turn out to be working for the real Big Bad and Vivenna has to run for it, at which point she spends several chapters as a beggar and amateur pickpocket before finally getting back on her feet with a little help from Vasher.
  • In Josepha Sherman's The Shining Falcon, Maria and Vasilissia, as The Exiles.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Yes, it's the inevitable Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference: Buffy had an opportunity to enter the top cliques, but declines. After her vampire-bustin' ways freaked the cheerleaders out, the offer was rescinded. We're also frequently reminded in early seasons, once via an actual Flash Back, that before learning about her powers and moving to Sunnydale Buffy was a popular and slightly shallow cheerleader, and even Prom Queen in her last school. Head cheerleader Cordelia Chase also dropped out of the top tier when her relationship with Xander led to her hanging out with Buffy.
    • Cordelia Chase then loses her money as well ("...Daddy made a little mistake on his taxes. For the last twelve years."), and ends up a big-time demon-huntress on Angel.
  • Claire Bennet from Heroes used to be the school's most popular cheerleader and kept her friendship with indie kid Zach a secret from everyone. However, after turning against a jock who tried to rape her, she found herself rejected by the cheerleaders and accepted by pretty much everyone else in the school, resulting in her being voted homecoming queen.
  • Popular Brooke McQueen fits this quite well. She's a good person but she is afraid of being unpopular. She comes to realize that it's what is inside that counts.
  • Veronica Mars doesn't have any superpowers, but when her sheriff father arrests the town's benefactor for the murder of his own daughter, Veronica's best friend, pretty much everyone in her clique of high school elite friends turns against her, resulting in her being date-raped. This in turn leads to her transformation into the Veronica we know. As she pours her energy into solving her friend's murder, she, perhaps a tad implausibly, rapidly gains the super detective skills and world-weary attitude of a professional PI twice her age.
    • ...except she already had those skills (her father taught her), she just hadn't really used them. Throw in some paranoia and a nothing-to-lose attitude, and it makes more sense.
  • Variation: Ashley Kerwin in Degrassi the Next Generation. In the first season, she's the most popular girl in school, but she must constantly guard against her rival Paige. In the first season finale, she falls from grace. She doesn't becomes friends with the geeks in the second season—she becomes a total outcast. Everybody shuns her except a creepy goth girl, who becomes her mentor. Under the goth's tutoring, Ashley slowly learns how to cope, and how to discover her "real self," rather than the snob she used to be.
    • Later seasons we have Holly J, a full fledged Alpha Bitch. During most of Seasons 7 and 8 she's a complete bitch in social groups, but in one on one interactions she's almost personable. Her family suffers a three season long Broke Episode, her attempts to cover that up destroy her social circle entirely, and her only friend is her boss at the local coffee shop. It turns out she has trouble letting people get close. Over Season 9 and 10 she builds a new social circle, but still has very few close friends.
  • Subverted in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, "Geek Like Me." Sabrina used magic to make Libby become a geek, intending that this fall from popularity would teach her to become a nicer person the way most Fallen Princesses do. However, she quickly proved that her usual personality was In the Blood, too strong to be changed by magic. Before long, she had given herself a hot new Nerds Are Sexy look, and had made the science club into the same kind of exclusive clique (with herself as the boss) that the cheerleading squad used to be. And she was now picking on Sabrina for not being nerdy enough. This change was no better than the way things were before, so there was nothing for it but to change Libby back.
  • Skylar Stevens in Jericho starts out as a spoiled rich kid, and then warms up to local misfit Dale Turner.
  • On Glee, Alpha Bitch Quinn becomes pregnant despite being president of the celibacy club. She is then embarrassed in front of the school, kicked off the cheerleading squad, and forced to move in with her boyfriend after her parents kick her out of the house. And it's only bound to get worse since the news that the baby's father is actually her boyfriend's best friend is starting to leak out.
    • She later subverts the Character Development that you usually get from this trope - after she gives the baby up for adoption, she does her damndest to get her status back, and her goal of season two is to become prom queen, no matter what the cost - even if it means cheating on her boyfriend and, when she doesn't become Prom Queen, conspiring to get the Glee club disqualified from Nationals out of spite and jealousy. Strangely, she could still count as a Fallen Princess - while she has most of her popularity back, her desire to be popular again stems from the idea that there's no real future for her, and that the best she can do is be the popular girl, get an average job and marry someone like Finn.
  • Averted in Lost. Boone comes from a wealthy family and gave off the overall impression of a young man who had never worked a day in his life and had stuff handed to him. From the very start, he takes to island living easily and is probably the most likeable moral character in the series, characterised by his helpful attitude. Played straight with his sister Shannon though.
  • Caroline Channing from Two Broke Girls is the daughter of a wealthy investor who was arrested for perpetrating a massive Ponzi scheme. With the family assets frozen, she is left homeless and penniless, eventually forced to work as a waitress in a Greasy Spoon. Now she is trying to build a cupcake business with her fellow waitress Max, using the skills she learned from party planning and business school.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Bordering on Anvilicious are the visual novels under the Purple Moon banner. Try to make friends with the Alpha Bitch, and every single time, something will backfire and make her hate you. (It's a bit of a Family-Unfriendly Aesop, considering that the other games and Expanded Universe show that she's really a good person.)
  • Rozalin of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. One day she's living in complete luxury (if entirely isolated), and the next she's pulled into the Veldime equivalent of Kansas against her will and tearing her dress in the woods.
  • The player character in A Dance With Rogues.
  • Silk Fox/Sun Lian. Literally.
  • Averted by Natalia in Tales of the Abyss. While she wasn't actually born into the royal family, but a replacement for the stillborn princess, the citizens of Baticul and her father still defend her because she's done so much good for the kingdom.
  • Final Fantasy IX has Princess Garnet who notices her mother's erratic behaviour and runs off with a band of thieves to try and help out. She becomes a fugitive and is promptly sentenced to death by her mother. She ends up becoming a queen though.
  • Final Fantasy XII has Princess Ashe who faked her own suicide so she could lead the resistance. She wants to ascend the throne to save the kingdom but has no proof that she is really royalty. Thus the game's plot kicks in.
  • Pinky in Bully fits this trope perfectly.
  • In The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, Midna definitly falls into this trope. Not only was she the princess of the Twilight Realm, she was also chosen to be its new ruler. But Zant was so jealous and power hungry that he usurped her and turned her into an imp. It led to a fall from grace and a struggle to regain what she once had.
  • Nina of Breath of Fire II is a literal fallen princess, shunned by her kingdom for her black wings, which are thought to be a curse, caused by her ancestor, presumably the Nina from the first Breath of Fire, marrying outside the clan, presumably to Ryu, also hero of the first game.
    • Nina from Breath of Fire III is an even better example; she left behind the life of a princess because she preferred life outside the castle, helping to fix the kingdom's problems, to her pampered life in the castle.
  • Fire Emblem, in many of of its incarnations, has fallen princes and princesses either in the backstory or in between your trope:
    • Lyndis's mother Madelyn in Fire Emblem 7, who chose to run away from her father's castle in Caelin than losing her Sacaean boyfriend, Chieftain Hassar of the Lorca.
      • Lyn herself. She was the princess of the Lorca tribe... then they were all slaughtered before the game even started, leaving her completely alone.
      • A partial example would be Rath, prince of the Kutolah tribe ho was exiled due to a prophecy saying that he had to search for hsi destiny on his own. He's a bit luckier, though, since his solo ending says he's taken back by the tribe.
      • And don't forget Priscilla and Raven, too. Their Ostian clan was destituted for corruption, their parents were Driven to Suicide, she was adopted by other nobles in Etruria, he became a mercenary alongside his retainer Lucius.
    • Also Princess Guinevere from Fire Emblem 6, who had to run away from the kingdom of Bern to escape from her embittered older brother King Zephiel. Lilina from Ostia was this close to become this after her dad's death, but after being whacked with the Distress Ball she recovers and joins Roy's troupe, and her ending says she recovered her kingdom.
      • And Rath's daughter Sue (who can be Lyn's child, too, via their common ending), when 25 years after her dad's return to the Kutolah plains, finds herself separated from them in an attack from Bern and captured. Her personal ending doesn't completely leave clear if she's able to revive the Kutolah, but it does say she returned to the plains.
      • And Prince Mildain from Etruria, aka Elphin the Bard. He returns to Etruria triumphally if he lives to the end of the game.
    • Princess Tiltyu of Freege became one of these in Fire Emblem 4. She still got to live in her older brother Blume's palace with her daughter Tinny, but was branded as a traitor by her people and horribly abused by her bitch of a stepsister, Hilda. And if Tiltyu dies child-less, she's mentioned to have died in the war, and her younger sister Ethnia is the one who takes her place as fallen princess alongside her daughter Linda.
    • Heck, Celice is a fallen prince too. His grandfather Byron was killed in a conspiration by his fellow noblemen, his dad Sigurd is killed off and falsely branded as a traitor post-mortem, his Missing Mom Diadora becomes the Empress of Grandbell but only after being brainwashed and later she dies too, and he's living in a very secluded environment before becoming a Rebel Prince and starting to fight to conclude his father's mission.
      • And his army includes another fallen prince: Shanan of Isaac, who as a child witnessed the horrible deals that brought the huge mess that Jugdral is into alongside his aunt Ayra, and now is physically strong enough to fight back and help those in deed.
    • Thracia 776 has more fallen noblemen: Galzus was the prince of the small kingdom of Rivough, which was destroyed and annexed by Isaac years ago; he barely escaped from all of it alongside his daughter, Mareeta. Then we have Princess Miranda of Alster, forced to hide and run away when her land is invaded as well.
  • The female Human Noble Origin from Dragon Age could also apply, depending on how you RP the character. You are not a princess, but you are daughter of the second-highest ranking noble in the country, so that should count for something. Especially because you lose your entire family and become a Grey Warden. Of course, by the end of the game you can become the Queen of Ferelden...not a bad trade-off, there.
    • This may actually apply to the female Dwarf Noble Origin more, as you actually ARE a princess in that origin. However, you don't get to become Queen at the end of that game. You do get to become a Paragon, though, which is much more awesome.
  • Mitsumete Knight R: Daibouken Hen has a male example with none other than The Hero, Christopher MacLeod: he's actually Prince Conor of the fallen Parmet Kingdom, thanks to the schemes of Orcadia, an Empire bent on the conquest and domination of Zardos Continent. Conor is on a quest of Revenge again Orcadia, not because of his fallen kingdom and the loss of his parents (he was 4 at the time, thus too young to remember them), but because when he was 12, Orcadia's men discovered him and his beloved little sister Melinda, captured and atrociously tortured them, to the point that Melinda died under the torture's shock. If the right conditions are met in your playthrough, Conor can achieve his revenge, destroy Orcadia, and become the King of the restored Parmet Kingdom.
  • Princess Zelda fits this category in a few games. In the Ocarina of Time, she spend seven years in exile as Sheik; in Wind Waker, she is the last heir of the fallen royal line; And of course, in Twilight Princess, her throne is stolen by Zant right before her coronation, though Midna's exile from her own kingdom overshadowed that.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In No Rest for The Wicked, it comes as a great blow to November to realize that Princess Colette really doesn't believe her to be a princess because of her rags. Of course, Colette married the Marquis de Carabas, further proof that her Blue Blood-dar is out of order (unlike November's).


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Phase, of the Whateley Universe. Once a member of the richest family in the world, he becomes a mutant and gets kicked out. He ends up at Whateley Academy hanging with the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that is Team Kimba.
    • Jadis (codename She-Beast) probably counts too. She had to leave her fancy Montessori school as a child when it came out that her dad is the notorious supervillain Dr. Diabolik.
  • Aki from Sailor Nothing.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Kim Possible is the captain of her school's cheerleading squad, the person with the highest grades and the person of choice to do school chores, but is still practically an outcast from everyone but her geeky friends two friends.
  • Parodied in The Oblongs. The matriarch of the family, Pickles Oblong, is a former Fallen Princess—she left her rich and attractive family and friends to marry the lower-class Bob Oblong. This means she got exposed to all the toxic, body-warping chemicals in his neighborhood, leading to total baldness on her part, and a clutch of mutated children. However, she's seems fine with this.
    • Well, except for the alcoholism.
    • In the episode "Disfigured Debbie," one of the school's Girl Posse of Inexplicably Identical Individuals falls all right—into a wheat thresher. Now living with the only kids who will accept her freakish appearance, she drives them crazy with her clingy behavior. Until she gets plastic surgery, and returns to the fold ("You know, this means I'll have to hate you again"). Ten seconds later, and we can't even tell which one she is anymore.
  • Danny Phantom had Valerie; a shallow Rich Bitch who lived off her father's money until a ghost dog cost him his job. Fallen out of grace, she took up ghost hunting for revenge before making it a full-time job. Eventually, she starts to abandon her shallow views of the people she once rejected and even falls for the unpopular Danny.
  • Rhonda from Hey Arnold!! became this when she realizes she needs to wear thick eyeglasses.
    • Even further when her family goes temporarily broke.
  • Caitlin from 6Teen was just as snooty and stuck up as her "friend" Tricia, until her dad cut her off and made her get a job. Without her money, her so called friends ditched her. Plus that lemon hat... she eventually becomes a classic case of Spoiled Sweet when she makes some real friends.
  • The Doug episode "Beebe Goes Broke", in which...Beebe goes broke.
  • Less shallow than the trope description, but same general pattern in fantasy setting, with a male: Prince Zuko was the season one villain, a spoiled brat in the sense that he yelled at people when they or the universe didn't give him what he wanted and had no use for tact. Still had some moments of awesome, and his most impressively evil moment involved holding a piece of jewelry hostage. Near the end of the season, his ship was blown up. Early in Season Two, he wound up a fugitive from his own nation, living as a faceless refugee for the horrible crime of...not successfully Punching Out Cthulhu, apparently. He spends most of that season learning humility and otherwise having Character Development, and by the series finale is one of the True Companions.
    • Note that he sides with his evil sister against his former enemies when she offers him the chance to come home and be part of the family and crown prince again, and does a full-on Defector From Decadence routine halfway through season three. This is actually a standard variation on the standard plot, except when we're dealing with stuff on the Lifetime movie level the Princess is just going back because her new friends are just oh-so-much better and awwwww, rather than due to the need to take a stand on war crimes and Abusive Parents.