Left Behind by Disney

Disney Princesses: whether you belt out their songs to this day, dressed as each one for the Halloweens of your childhood, or simply cannot stand all of the hype, almost everyone knows of this franchise. Though the princesses receive a lot of criticism, at a basic level, they are meant to serve as role models for young girls, leading many to wonder why so many heroines have been left out of the lineup. Below, we’ll cover the six most puzzling cases, and why they may not have made the cut.

1.) Anna (Frozen)

To reach the status of an official Disney Princess, there are some milestones a character must cover. Many of the princesses share the following in common: They sing in their movies, are royalty by birth or marriage, perform major acts of heroism, star in financially successful films, and tend to be positive and optimistic.

Though the buzz about Frozen has finally begun to die down, it is undeniable that the franchise was a huge success for Disney. However, to this day, neither of the two characters has been added to the official Disney Princess lineup. Both Anna and Elsa are royal by birth, but in this scenario, it is relatively clear why Elsa has not been considered, as she becomes a queen. As for Anna, the reasoning why is significantly less clear. She sings in Frozen multiple times, and goes on a long and perilous mission to save her kingdom as well as her sister. Out of the entire list, the reasoning behind Anna’s exclusion is the least clear. Accompanied by the fact that Frozen is still a relatively new movie, it is possible that Anna may be considered for the title in the near future.

2.) Giselle (Enchanted)

Giselle is the protagonist of Enchanted, a movie that was a relative success at the time of its release. The major significance of this film was that it was the first time a princess had appeared as traditional animation as well as live action. In Enchanted, Giselle is royal by birth. Within the movie, she sings on multiple occasions and has a love interest, in line with many of the traditional princesses. By all standards, Giselle is typical Disney Princess material, outside of the fact that her movie is both animated and live action. However, this in itself is not the reason she’s been excluded by Disney, but rather a very closely related issue. Evidently, Giselle is one of the most interesting cases on this list, as she was legitimately very close to becoming an official princess. It is in her case alone that we are given a clear reason why not. Due to the live action portion of the film, Disney was told that they would have to pay actress Amy Adams for the use of her likeness for the rest of her life, causing Disney to quickly decide that Giselle would not be added.

3.) Megara (Hercules)

Megara, often known as Meg, meets a number of traditional princess requirements, but falls short in a few distinct categories. She sings in her movie, falls in love with and marries the son of a god (which I personally think qualifies as royalty, but this can be somewhat easily disputed), and plays a major role in advancing the story’s plot. The primary reason Meg may not have been considered for the line-up, outside of the slightly ambiguous nature of her royal connection, lies in two facts:

1.) Hercules was not an outstanding success in the box-office, though it is fondly remembered by many now.

2.) Meg’s personality features distinct differences from other Disney princesses. Though I personally believe such differences might be appealing to add into the group, it is understandable why there might be key personality traits the official princesses share. Meg is a cynical character, offering sarcastic quips throughout the film. For much of the movie, she appears as bitter due to a broken heart, and can even be thought of as an antagonist at times. Currently, none of the official princesses were even remotely antagonistic in any of their films. Rather, they are optimistic, almost always kind, and generally are positive for the majority of the movies. Though Meg’s character displays real and valid emotions and struggles that people may face, and that she has the tenacity to overcome such struggles, this does not change the fact that she differs from the norm extensively, which may have harmed her chances.

4.) Jane (Tarzan)

Similar to Giselle, Jane was relatively close to becoming an official Disney princess. In November 1999, she was featured on the front page of the UK’s Disney Princess magazine, making a second appearance a few months later. However, following this, she never appeared in the lineup, nor was any mention made of her in the magazine again. The fact that Jane was considered is surprising for a number of reasons, rendering the question about her to be why she was considered so heavily rather than why she didn’t make it. Jane does not sing in her film, she is not royalty, her relationship with Tarzan may have rendered her a queen rather than a princess, and she bears an extremely close resemblance to Belle. It is possible that Jane was considered due to the sheer, overwhelming popularity of Tarzan, with the movie winning an Oscar.

5.) Vanellope von Schweetz (Wreck-It Ralph)

Vanellope is another character from one of Disney’s newer films. Though it was not a failure financially, it was not a massive success, either. Her case is interesting in that it is not revealed that she is royalty at all until the end, when we discover that she is the Princess of Sugar Rush, a video game kingdom within the film. Nonetheless, this still qualifies her as being royalty by birth. Despite this, there are multiple reasons that Vanellope may have been left out of the lineup. Firstly, she is far younger than the other Disney princesses, being only nine. The closest Disney princess to her is Snow White, at 14. Vanellope does not have a love interest (Though this is not as much of a requirement with Merida in the group now), does not sing within her movie, and does not complete any major acts of heroism or high status. However, though Disney wants the princesses to be role models that young girls can look up to, it may also be beneficial to have a princess closer to the target market’s age range, as such a princess would be far more relatable to that audience.

6.) Princess Eilonwy (The Black Cauldron)

If you’re finding yourself searching up this princess on Google because you have no idea who she is, you’re not alone. Eilonwy is one of the main characters in the 1985 film, one which Disney would probably rather forget about. The Black Cauldron is about a peasant boy named Taran who seeks to become a knight, embarking on a mission to rescue a prophesying pig named Hen-Wren. Eilonwy is one of Taran’s companions in the movie, and it is soon mentioned that she is a princess by birth. However, there are numerous obstacles standing in her way which prevent her from consideration. Beginning on a more minor note, she does not sing in her movie. Additionally, she is younger than all of the Disney princesses at 12, though this is not nearly as large of a margin as Vanellope. By far, the largest factor keeping Eilonwy from official princess status is the fact that her film was a major box-office failure, with many Disney fans having never watched, or even being completely unaware of this film.

Though we may not know with certainty what Disney’s exact criteria for selecting princesses is, by examining not only who is included as well as who isn’t, we can gather an idea. At least from my perspective, the criteria seems to be that a heroine must:

  1. Sing in her film
  2. Be a main or significant character
  3. Marry a prince or complete a major act of heroism
  4. Have a generally kind and optimistic demeanor

Nonetheless, in recent years, there has been some distinct re-interpretations of these rules, with many of them becoming looser. Regarding the original, classic princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora)- all of them were relatively similar in personality type, sang in their films, and married a prince. This only began to change in the Renaissance era of Disney films (Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan), during which more diversity of both skin color and personality was added. This era saw the first princesses of other races, the first Princess to not be a main character (Jasmine), and the first princess to be defined by an act of heroism rather than marrying a prince (Mulan). These recent, more liberal guidelines of which characters get to be included has continued into the modern era with Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, and potentially Anna and Moana in the future. What all of this means is this: perhaps we should not lose hope for the heroines listed here just yet.

Do any of you have additional arguments for the characters on this list? Maybe you disagree completely? Have another heroine you feel has been left out? Let me know in the comments!

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