Having recently finished my Disney Animation Studios marathon, I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging about movies. But at the same time, I don’t feel like stopping entirely. I intend to write at least a couple lists here and there. This first one is partially inspired by a video Screen Junkies released not too long ago. In fact I’m partially basing my criteria on their video.
In case you don’t feel like watching their full video, the criteria in the Screen Junkies is as followed. Each Princess is ranked in 7 categories.
1 – Royal Lineage (RL)
2 – Quality of Sidekick (SK)
7 – Talent (TL)
For each princess, I’ll rate them from 1-10 in each category. The higher the score, the better. I’m also adding an eighth category for personal preference (PP), and since there will be 16 princesses in contention, the maximum point total allowed there is 16. That makes the highest possible score an 86, and the lowest possible score a 1 (if someone somehow gets a zero in all other categories).
For the Royal Lineage category in particular, my rules are as follows. They get a low score if they weren’t born a princess, but married a prince. They get deductions for each dead royal parent, but Elsa will be the exception since she is actually the queen. And the princess will get higher points if their royal family is notably more significant on the world stage than the others, and likewise lower points if they’re merely the daughter of a chief as opposed to a king and queen. The rest of the scores will be explained on an individual bases if I feel the need to.
I won’t go into too much detail as to what Disney’s criteria for being a Disney Princess entails. If you want a detailed description, here it is – http://disneyprincess.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Disney_Princesses
But to sum it up, they must be human (or in Ariel’s case, human-ish), they must be a primary character in a Disney Animated feature, and although being named a princess officially helps, it’s not a requirement written in stone. There are currently 11 official members of the Disney Princess lineup: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida.
I’m also going to include Anna and Elsa from Frozen. They haven’t been added mostly because Disney probably feels their current popularity would overshadow the rest. I’ll be adding Moana, who’s likely to join the lineup in the near future. I’ll also be adding Kida Nedakh from Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Princess Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron. They’re not in the lineup mostly because their movies didn’t do so well, but I’m including them anyway because they otherwise fit the criteria.
Also, I’m not allowed to use any sequel material or live action remakes to bump up anyone’s score. I can only base my scores on their original movies.
Edit – Now that I’ve seen Brave as part of my Pixar Movie marathon, I’m updating her place on this list. She was on this list originally, but there’s now a link to my Brave post. Seeing Brave a third time didn’t convince me to change Meridia’s spot though.
So without further to do, here is my list of the best Disney Princesses, organized from worst to best.
16 – Snow White (24 points)
To be fair to Snow White, her movie was released in a very different time. Her movie does have an important place in history as well. With all that said, she’s not the least bit independent. When her life is threatened she doesn’t even run away – she’s chased away. She’s an idiot who walks into the first home she sees after running away and falls asleep in a stranger’s bed. That’s totally not the least bit dangerous when you already know someone wants you dead. She’s too dumb to realize that the old lady who’s acting kind of creepy and suspicious might happen to have malicious intent. Her singing voice is shrill and annoying to me, and her songs are too wishy washy for my tastes. And she’s not a deep enough character to be relatable to too many people. She likes to clean, and that’s probably the closest thing she is to being relatable. She only really gets points in royal lineage and sidekicks because she’s born a princess and she basically has an army of animals … who don’t help her when she needs it the most.
15 – Princess Eilonwy (27 points)
Princess Eilonwy is an alright character, but there isn’t all that much to her. She’s called a princess, but she never does any princessy things, nor is her castle or family ever shown or mentioned. I wouldn’t say she’s not independent, but she does tend to rely on help every now and then. I put her IQ at 5 because she seems to be good at arguing, but apart from that there’s nothing to base her intelligence on. And her sidekick is in the form of an annoying dog, hence the 2. She’s mildly relatable though. So by no means is she a bad character – it’s just that the movie does a terrible job at giving her a character compared to the rest of these movies.
14 – Kida Nedakh 40 points
Kida Nedakh from Atlantis: the Lost Empire loses hard in the sidekick and singing/theme song categories because she doesn’t have a sidekick, nor is the movie a musical. Otherwise she scores relatively high in most categories. She’s very independent and intelligent, going on a research trip against her father’s wishes with the young visiting scientist, and she picks up on things quickly. She’s a fun and fairly relatable character, filled with awe whenever she learns something new about her culture’s lost history and technology. She’s really just low on my preference because the movie surrounding her is mediocre.
13 – Aurora 41 points
Although the plot centers around her, Aurora isn’t actually the main character in her own movie. She also doesn’t have a sidekick. That’s the reason she’s low on my personal preference. Her talent, relatability and intelligence is hard to measure because there’s nothing to base it on. With that said, she’s got a fantastic signing voice and theme song. It’s helped by the fact that her voice actress was an opera singer, and the theme song, “Once Upon A Dream”, is based on Russian conductor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” masterpiece. That’s actually something I forgot to mention in my Sleeping Beauty post. By no means do I dislike Aurora – she’s a well-developed enough character for you to care about her, but of all the official Disney Princesses, she’s the only one who’s not a major character in her own movie. Then again, that’s probably a wise choice considering she spends the entirety of the third act under a sleeping spell.
12 – Elsa 45 points
That’s right, Elsa doesn’t even make the top 10 on my list. By no means do I dislike Elsa, but she falls flat in several categories. First off, Olaf is not Elsa’s sidekick – he’s actually Anna’s. Instead, Elsa creates this giant snowman monster that causes more harm than good. I scored her talent low because her ice powers are magic, not talent. Furthermore, she can’t really control her ice powers, and she’s never shown with any other talents. She’s also never shown as all that intelligent; she can’t seem to figure out on her own how to control her powers, or that unleashing them might just cause a natural disaster for her kingdom. She gets a relatively low Independence rating because she needs help trying to control her powers, and because she’s saved several times at the end of the movie. Also while she’s somewhat relatable for being the victim of circumstances and a bad family situation, she loses points for having magical powers that she can’t control, something that no person in real life suffers from. She gets a 9 in royal lineage because she is the queen of Arendelle. She also gets a 10 for her theme song because “Let It Go” is a monster right now, even if for my personal taste it’s more of an 8. But all the other categories really hold her back compared to the rest of the Disney Princesses.
No, I won’t apologize for Elsa not making the top 10, and neither will I for the next Princess in the rankings.
11 – Anna 51 points
Anna is the better princess than her older sister, but not by too much. Her royal lineage is lower because she’s the second child of her dead royal parents, reducing her chances of ever becoming queen. She’s not all that independent either. She’s a ditz who needs Kristoff’s help throughout the entirety of her journey. Because she accepts a proposal from someone she only just met who ends up becoming the villain, she can’t be all that bright either. With all that said, she gets some minor points in talent for showing that she’s not completely helpless, a high score for her “For The First Time In Forever” theme song, and for being relatable because she just wants to help her sister. A lot of people can relate to just trying to help their family, or just growing up in a messed up situation with idiotic parents.
10 – Cinderella 52 points
Cinderella’s score is mostly the middle of the road in all categories. Her Royal Lineage is low because, while she’s the daughter of a Nobleman, it meant very little after his death. She’s decently talented in that she takes care of her entire estate on her own on a daily basis. She’s relatable in that a lot of people would like to get out of their poor, working class life. She’s not necessarily dumb, but she does underestimate how evil her stepmother is. Her sidekicks, the mice and other animals, prove themselves very useful at times despite their lack of stature. And she is fairly independent for when the movie was released, doing her best to bargain with her evil stepmother and otherwise trying to improve her situation.
9 – Merida 56 points
And here we reach our first princess with two 10’s. Although her Scottish royalty doesn’t mean as much as a German royalty or an English royalty would, both her parents are alive, so that helps. Her sidekicks, her triplet toddler brothers, are very useful … when they’re not amusingly causing problems. She’s fiercely independent, to the poinht where it causes a rift between her and her mother She’s also extremely talented, like being a crack shot with an arrow even while riding on a horse. She’s got one overprotective parent and one with a very passive parenting style, and a lot of people can relate to both of those extremes. But she gets low points for theme song since she doesn’t sing it, mediocre IQ because she doesn’t think through her actions and a mediocre personal preference because Brave is just an ok movie.
Also if you straighten out Merida’s curly hair, it’s length is second only to Rapunzel on this list.
8 – Tiana 59 points
Before I went through these rakings, I thought Tiana would score higher. But not only is she not of royal lineage, but she marries a prince who’s been cut off from his money because he’s too much of a party animal. He changes by the end of the movie, but still. Her sidekick is a firefly that you’ll keep forgetting about. Apart from that, she scores high in every other category. She’s independent, she’s fairly wise and intelligent, and she’s relatable because her struggles feel modern. Her theme song, “Almost There”, is a fun Jazz number. She’s also a very talented cook. She’s a great character who unfortunately starred in a movie that was mildly successful.
All the remaining princesses earned points totals in the 60’s, including a couple ties. When there’s a points tie, tie breaker goes to my personal favourite of the two. It means that, whether I like them or not, they do belong high up on this list.
7 – Moana 61 points
Moana’s only low score is the sidekick – an almost useless nearsighted chicken who’s only played for laughs. Apart from that she scores relatively high. Like Pocahontas yet to come, she’s the daughter of a chief, which is why she’s no higher than a 6 in Royal Lineage. She’s very independent and needs minimal help from even Maui, the demigod. She’s clearly smart with her leadership skills, and being a fast study with learning how to sail. She ends the movie as a very talented sailor. She’s decently relatable as an adventurer at heart who’s stuck on her island for the first act. Her theme song is also good. Moana is a great character all-round, and very much deserving of joining the official Disney Princess lineup.
6 – Belle 62 points
I’m actually kind of shocked that Belle didn’t end up higher on this list. She’s my third favourite Disney Princess. But then again, she’s the daughter of a struggling inventor who invents a prince that nobody seems to remember, hence the low royal lineage rating. She also gets a slight deduction for relatability because she’s a touch pretentious and arrogant, looking down on all her villagers who don’t read. That said, being someone who doesn’t fit into her society does make her relatable. Her sidekick score is mediocre because, while Lumiere and Cogsworth are awesome, they’re more the Beast’s sidekicks than they are Belle’s. She’s intelligent and well-read though, she’s decently talented, her theme song is fantastic and her voice is equally fantastic. She’s a great character in one of the greatest animated movies of all time.
5 – Pocahontas 63 points
Just like I’m shocked that Belle isn’t higher, I’m surprised that Pocahontas made the top 5. She’s my 5th least favourite on this list. But then again, she’s the daughter of a chief, scoring high on the lineage category. Her “Colours of the Wind” song is brilliant and her singing voice is fantastic. Her sidekicks, a raccoon and a humming bird, are both amusing and useful. She’s incredibly independent, smart enough to see past her societies prejudice and even enough to convince John Smith to look past his own. She’s relatable to anyone who sees the idiocy on both sides of a conflict when things get out of hand, which is happening a lot in today’s political climate. And she’s a talented traveler who can somehow listen to the wind for language to be translated? I guess that’s a talent in itself. So yeah, the more I break it down, the more it makes sense that Pocahontas scores this high, whether I personally like her or not.
4 – Mulan 63 points
Mulan is neither born royal, nor does she marry anyone who’s royalty, hence her big fat 0 in the royal lineage department. Her sidekick is an annoying dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy who is useful at times. Apart from that, Mulan scores very high in every category. She’s the only Princess on this list with three perfect 10’s. She’s independent enough to take over for her father, and to take care of herself in a constantly hostile environment almost entirely on her own. She’s a masterful fighter and a genius tactician, hence her perfect scores in intelligence and talent. She’s got a pretty good theme song and as someone who just wants to protect those she loves and her country, she’s fairly relatable. I’m not surprised that she’s this high, and she deserves to be.
3 – Ariel 64 points
This is another character I thought would score lower ahead of time, but I can’t say I’m too surprised. Ariel scores 10 points in Royal Lineage because she descends directly from the Greek Gods, and you can’t get much more royal than that, hence the only perfect score in that category for this list. Her sidekick, Sebastian, is quite possibly the smartest and most useful character in the movie, and her other sidekicks aren’t bad either. Her singing voice and theme song are great – her voice is even a major plot point. She’s fairly talented at helping a man fall in love with her without her voice. That said, she scores low in intelligence for not thinking through Ursula’s contract, and also not figuring out that she can write messages in the sand instead of relying on her voice (she did sign the contract after all, proving that she can write). She also loses points in independence because she needs help with pretty much everything she does. As a collector who feels like exploring a new world, she’s relatable enough. So yeah, even though I think Ariel and Prince Eric’s relationship is incredibly shallow, Ariel herself is a good Disney Princess.
2 – Rapunzel 66 points
Rapunzel is my favourite Disney Princess. Her perfect 10s in sidekicks and talent are easily explained. Maximus alone is worth a 10 in the sidekick category, being the greatest horse in the history of fiction. Pascal alone would be worth an 8 too, being a mix of great deadpan humour, an external representation of Rapunzel’s thoughts, and just being cute. Rapunzel’s theme song is all about the different talents she’s learned while being stuck in her tower. They include painting, dress making from scratch, speed reading (which also contributes to her intelligence), cleaning up very quickly, playing chess, dancing, climbing and more. In terms of intelligence, she proves herself a quick thinker in dangerous situations, and an off-handed line mentions how she’s charted stars. Without an astronomy book, it implies that she’s an entirely self-taught astronomer. That alone implies intelligence. As someone who feels trapped in her situation, she’s very relatable. The only category where she suffers is in her independence. She needs a guide to take her out of her castle, and while she learns over the course of her journey that she’s stronger than she thinks, she still needs that guide to figure out how the world works, and she does need saving in the end. If I were to include Tangled: The Series for her points, she’s become far more independent to the point where I might even give her a 9, but I’m only basing this on the movie. Also her theme song, while deeper than it seems upon your first listen, isn’t as good as most of the great theme songs from the 90’s. Again, I’d give her a higher score if I could include “Wind In My Hair” from the TV series.
1 – Jasmine 67 points
Of the human princesses, this is my second favourite and my favourite from my childhood. Although she doesn’t get any perfect scores, she scores high enough in every category that it doesn’t matter. Her sidekick is a tiger, which is awesome. She’s really independent minded, even if she doesn’t know some of her kingdom’s customs. Her theme song is only a 6 because “A Whole New World” is equally Aladdin’s theme song, but otherwise it’s an Academy Award winning song. She’s intelligent enough to see through “Prince Ali’s” lies, but she doesn’t know all of her own kingdom’s laws, deducting a bit from her intelligence score. And she’s fairly talented, showing that she’s a quick study in acrobatic moves and she proves herself a great actress in the movie’s climax. I’m not the least but upset that she beat Rapunzel to earn the number one spot. She’s a great co-lead in Aladdin.
Whether you agree or disagree with my list, I hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to let me know what your favourite and least favourite Disney Princesses are and why. My next list will likely be my favourite Disney songs, followed by some sort of villains related post. After that, I’ll get to my list of all the movies, organized from least favourite to most favourite.