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Top 10 Disney Princess Clichés

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These are the Disney Princess cliches! For this list, we’ll be going over 10 of the most common tropes seen in princess characters from Disney animation. We’ve included the poisoned/cursed trope, overly trusting, true love, fall in love fast, the singing and dancing trope and more!

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Top 10 Disney Princess Cliches

Disney really likes its royal tropes. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Disney princess clichés.

For this list, we’ll be going over some of the most common tropes seen in princess characters from Disney animation.

#10: Poisoned / Cursed

Being a Disney princess entails all sorts of danger. When they’re not being kidnapped or locked away, these young ladies are receiving magical curses or poisons. Deep, coma-like sleep is often the result of these magic spells and/or substances. In other cases, the princess in question is transformed into something else. Sometimes, the curse is not quite so literal, and is more of the case of the princess’ abilities driving others away; making them feel like a curse. Whatever the specific cause, Disney princesses fall under the influence rather often.

#9: Dead Parents

Most Disney protagonists have at least one dead parent, and that goes for the princesses too. The absence of a parental figure often leads them to be able to go on adventures, due to a lack of supervision or their inability to impart parental wisdom on their progeny. While the princesses sometimes have two dead parents, more often than not, it’s just one, and it’s usually their mother. Much has been spoken of Disney’s seemingly irrational aversion to mothers, but some suggest their absence allows the young princesses to do some film-worthy growing up independent of any queen.

#8: Overly Trusting

We mentioned that Disney princesses can sometimes be a little naive, and one of their biggest issues is with being too quick to trust. Disney villains in particular are prone to taking advantage of this, as, given their obviously evil designs, the princesses need to be a wide eyed and innocent in order for their plans to work. Granted, wanting to believe the best in people is an admirable quality, but not when it means that you trust someone who clearly wants to hurt you, or who has already hurt and/or kidnapped you.

#7: Rebellious / Adventurous

Disney Princesses should have it easy, right? Well, they don’t always see it that way, and are often depicted as rebelling against their parents and/or society, or else simply seeking out adventure to escape their sheltered lifestyle. This can be attributed to their usually being teenagers, given that those years are often one of rebellion and experimentation. But from a character development perspective, Disney likely introduced the trope to add more agency to their heroines; making them more proactive in their stories and dispelling a negative stereotype about them that we’ll be getting to later.

#6: Attractive

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Disney princesses are all generally considered by most to be absolutely stunning in some way or another. Whether it be their face, hair, or body, these royal characters are way above average. Animation makes anything possible and that often includes idealized versions of the female and male forms. Beauty often equates with goodness in Disney movies, but it shouldn’t have to. At this point in time, a more average, relatable looking princess would be a refreshing change of pace from the company’s norm.

#5: True Love

We’ve already discussed the propensity for princesses to be afflicted by curses, magic, and poisons. Now we’ll be discussing the way they usually get out of them: true love. Frequently expressed through the form of a kiss, true love is often the key to breaking the spell over the afflicted princess. Even when there’s no curse involved, princesses are usually able to find true love quite easily. Love is hard to find, but you’d never know it if you only watched Disney films, since everyone, particularly princesses, are able to find “the one” on the first try.

#4: Animal Sidekicks

Sidekicks of the animal or just non-human variety are a staple of Disney movies in general, and princesses are certainly no exception - getting one or more. Animal sidekicks, whether they can talk or not, generally act as a sounding board for the princess in question; allowing them someone to talk to. However, they’re not always someone who can give them advice or help when they need it. Animal sidekicks also offer more dynamic movement on-screen than the humans they accompany and usually act as comic relief, which, given how much danger the princesses get into, is often sorely needed.

#3: Falling in Love Fast

We’ve already touched on Disney princesses and true love, but the rapidity with which they’re able to fall in love is also a common trope. Love at first sight is extremely common amongst these characters, with sparks flying or enchanting music sounding off mere moments after a princess encounters her love interest. Even when it’s not immediate, Disney princesses will still fall for their love interest after a short adventure or alternative opportunity to get better acquainted; sometimes in montage or song form. Happily ever after is rarely so quick, or so easy, in real life.

#2: Sing & Dance

Disney films in general almost always feature musical numbers that also feature song and dance, and Disney princess movies are no exception. Singing and dancing usually acts as a memorable and catchy way of moving the plot forward or establishing the princess’ character. While there are some Disney princesses who don’t sing, they’re few and far between, and the most iconic ones usually do. It may be a cliché, but Disney movies, and the princesses who star in them, wouldn’t be the same without a little song and dance.

#1: Rescued by Someone Else

It’s a tale as old as time, or at least in Disney movies it is: princesses need rescuing. The damsel in distress is a role that many a Disney princess plays, whether they’re locked in a tower only to be rescued by a knight or a prince, or saved from the previously mentioned curses. More recent movies have begun to shy away from this trope, which is great, since it’s hardly a good value to instill in young girls, or boys for that matter. But for much of Disney’s history, the lesson has been that princesses will have their problems solved by someone else.

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