When it comes to being a Disney princess, there are plenty of qualities they all have in common: kindness, bravery, and the ability to stand up for others. Not all Disney princesses are created equal, however, as some are most definitely stronger.
Strength doesn’t always have to come from physical attributes, but also from a princess’s intelligence, her ability to lead, her creativity, and her active role in her own story.
Part of the differences in the way Disney princesses are portrayed is a product of the time in which their movies were created.
The original trilogy of princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora) are kind hearted and pleasant to a fault, allowing other characters to take on most of the action.
Princesses of the '80s (Ariel and Eilonwy) were rulebreakers following their own paths. Princesses of the Disney renaissance (Belle, Jasmine, and Mulan) were more independent and fleshed out characters than any of the women that came before them.
As a result of these different eras, there’s a varying degree of strength amongst the princesses. thhis doesn’t necessarily mean we’re wondering which Disney princess could lift a car over her head, but who has the strongest character and most aptly portrays the role of her story’s hero.
There are 11 Disney princesses who currently belong to the mouse house’s merchandising lineup, but we’ve dug deep into Disney history to bring all 18 of the (non animal) animated princesses.
Here is Every Disney Princess Ranked From Most Worthless To Most Powerful.
One of the original trinity of Disney princesses, Aurora debuted in Sleeping Beauty. Her legacy has endured for decades. She still lands herself in the most worthless of princess spots because she’s not even the main player in her own story.
In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora spends her life guarded closely by her royal family and their attendants because of the possibility of the curse from Maleficent coming to pass.
She’s so naive that it doesn’t occur to her to be careful when she meets a strange man in the middle of the woods, though a trio of fairies are meant to be keeping her safe.
It’s also her own mistake that gets her pricking her finger and sending her entire kingdom into a deep sleep.
Because she spends the bulk of the movie’s action asleep, Aurora is the typical damsel in distress.
She doesn’t help save herself or her kingdom. Instead, she relies on the fairies to help her, and they are largely the protagonists of the movie instead of her.
Ultimately, Aurora’s kingdom is saved by the prince that comes after her. The prince is the same man she met in the woods, and the two get their happily ever after, but Aurora doesn’t actually do anything to help get herself there.
17 Snow White
Snow White has the honor of being the first Disney Princess. Her movie was also the first time Disney merchandising really took hold of audiences around the world. Snow White’s movie was translated into dozens of languages and she appeared on lunch boxes, posters, and children’s toys all over the planet.
Her popularity over the decades has only grown. She’s seen several live action adaptations give new twists on her story, and Once Upon A Time featured her as a main character.
Those updates have gone a long way into turning Snow White into a three dimensional person, but in her first Disney venture, Snow White wasn’t the best of princesses.
The “fairest of them all” was chased out of her own home by her wicked stepmother, getting lost in the woods. Her solace came in the form of a home for the seven dwarves where she took care of them, cooking and cleaning while they worked, to create a place for herself far away from the hostile castle.
The strength here that prevents Snow White from being named completely worthless is that Snow White finds a way to adapt to the worst of situations.
She’s homeless with very few skills, but she manages to make what she can do work for her. Yes, she ends up falling prey to an old woman, an apple, and a sleeping curse, but she tries to make the best of a bad situation.
Cinderella is perhaps the most famous of princesses, but some might be surprised to see Cinderella in such a position on this list. While Cinderella has the icon status, in the Disney version of her story, she isn’t the strongest of princesses.
Left with only her stepmother and stepsisters for family, Cinderella was more of a maid than a family member.
Instead of treating her like one of her daughters, Cinderella’s stepmother relied on her to cook and clean for them, mend their clothing, and take care of their every whim.
As a result, Cinderella had no time to herself except when everyone else in the house went to sleep. To her credit, Cinderella was able to keep up with all of their demands, work on her own dress, and keep her kind heart.
Her kindness also inspired loyalty from the animals around her. Even the mice that hid in the house loved her, and she seemed to be able to understand them, a great gift for a princess to have. That kindness and understanding didn’t exactly lead her to the throne, though it did get her noticed by her fairy godmother and get her a little help.
Ultimately, it isn’t Cinderella who saves herself from a life of servitude, but her animal friends and the magic of her glass slipper.
Cinderella’s story boils down to a lot of magical luck instead of her own strength.
Disney’s Renaissance gave audiences Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and The Lion King, but it really kicked off with The Little Mermaid in the late 1980s. Despite centering on the mermaid in the title, the movie spent a whole lot of time above the water as Ariel learned about human life.
Ariel is clearly adventurous, which earns her some points, as she pushes the boundaries of what her father allows her to do.
She swims to the limits of their territory, she enters the domain of a known sea witch, and she regularly refuses to listen to the more conservative voice of Sebastian the crab, the guardian appointed to her by her father. That adventurous spirit is great for a potential leader, but she also goes a bit too far, which gets her into trouble.
Despite having a huge ocean to roam, Ariel is one of the more naive princesses. For some reason, even knowing Ursula’s reputation, she trusts her enough to trade her voice for some temporary legs. It’s this trust that backfires on Ariel and puts her in a precarious position later in the movie.
Ariel does save Prince Eric from drowning at the top of the movie, and she does attempt to hold her own against Ursula in human form, so she’s not a princess who goes down without a fight.
She’s also a much stronger young woman than the original Disney princesses were in their day.
Pocahontas was the first of the Disney princesses to be inspired by a real person instead of a fairy tale, though the differences between animation and history are vast.
She’s also, technically, not a princess. The Powhatan people didn’t have royal lineage. Instead, chiefs were elected by the people.
As the daughter of a chief, like Moana in her later movie, Pocahontas is more of a symbolic princess.
The strength of character in Pocahontas stems from two places: her connection to nature and her role as a peacemaker.
“Colors of the Wind” might be one of the most famous Disney songs, but it’s not the only time Pocahontas places the focus on the natural world. Throughout her movie, Pocahontas communes with nature.
She calls upon the spirits of the elements to help her stop John Smith’s punishment, and frequently spends her time on cliff faces and in waterfalls. Pocahontas also gets most of her advice from a wise willow tree.
It’s as a peacemaker that she truly shines.
Despite being pulled in different directions by the traditions of her people and the dreams she holds, she manages to find a way to bring the English settlers and the Powhatans to common ground.
In her movie sequel, she also acts as a representative for her people in England. She’s constantly striving to find connection between people instead of pulling them apart, making her a true leader.
Little sister to Frozen’s Elsa, Anna has a lot of things going for her: a pucky spirit, a belief in the good of people, and immense courage. Despite all of that, she ranks far below her sister when it comes to simple things - like understanding when she’s being lied to.
If Elsa is wiser and more cynical, Anna is certainly the more innocent of the two. We might also call her naive.
She believed in the old Disney style of a princess falling in love at first sight at the start of her movie, but the story quickly moved in a new direction as the audience discovered her supposed perfect match was the real villain of the story.
Of course, Anna’s innocence is buoyed by her optimism and an enduring faith in her sister.
What she might lack in power and skill, she more than makes up for in her commitment to get to her sister and bring her back to their kingdom. Anna sees it as her own personal quest to get Elsa to fix the long winter she’s created.
Ultimately, it’s the bond between the two sisters that helps Elsa learn to control her gift. Without Anna, Elsa wouldn’t be nearly as strong as she is.
12 Vanellope von Schweetz
A movie about video game characters might seem like a strange place to find a Disney princess, but Wreck-It Ralph is full of surprises. The movie focuses on Ralph, the villain of his game who doesn’t want to be a bad guy anymore, but along the way, he also meets a princess.
Vanellope von Schweetz seems like the opposite of a princess. She’s a kid who takes sassy to the extreme, not caring if she hurts anyone’s feelings, putting her own wants and needs ahead of others.
Of course, all of that is a result of years of bullying from other characters in her game when all she wants is to be allowed to live her life.
Treated as the villain, Vanellope wants to compete in a race in the candy covered carts of Sugar Rush. Because everyone believes she’s a glitch in the system, they also believe she could destroy the game.
It’s eventually revealed that Vanellope isn’t actually a glitch and her need to race is actually part of her character. Instead of being a glitch, she’s the rightful princess of the game.
Despite her snarky attitude, she’s a forgiving character and an eternal optimist.
She’s also incredibly creative, thinking outside the box for solutions to her problems. With the help of Ralph, she’s able to end up back where she belongs, though she decides she doesn’t want to hold the title of Princess. Instead, Vanellope prefers to be President.
With two sequels and a television series after Aladdin, plus plenty of guest appearances in other Disney projects, Princess Jasmine is one of the most prolific Disney characters to come out of the 90s.
One of Jasmine’s biggest strengths was her belief in speaking her mind. Despite being born into a family that dictated her every move, she wasn’t afraid to say everything she thought about her situation.
When she was set for an arranged marriage without any say in the matter, she made sure to point out she wasn’t “a prize to be won.” She didn’t only stand up to her father, but also to the movie’s villain Jafar.
She might have been frightened of him, and even made his prisoner at one point, but she never backed down.
She also proved herself more observant than others around her. Not only did she know that something was off with Prince Ali, but she also knew that Jafar wasn’t the best advisor for her father before anyone else did.
If she hadn’t led such a sheltered life for so long, her observation skills and intuition might have been put to good use for the kingdom.
The only reason Jasmine doesn’t rank as stronger is because most of her skills -- hand to hand combat, political negotiation, etc. -- aren’t seen in her movie appearances, but in the television series that came after. Many movie watchers might not even be aware they exist, painting a more shallow picture of the princess.
Another of Disney’s “lost princesses,” there are quite a few Disney fans who forget that Eilonwy even exists. One of the main character’s in 1985’s The Black Cauldron, Eilonwy hasn’t been part of Disney’s merchandising or theme parks since the early '90s.
If the 1980s had been kinder to her, Eilonwy might be credited for the beginning of the Disney renaissance. Instead, the PG animated movie in which she starred, a first for Disney, was deemed too dark by most - even after extensive edits.
It didn’t contain the sweet and happy-go-lucky characters audiences were used to, and The Black Cauldron failed to make more than half of its budget back in the United States, leaving Eilonwy largely hidden in the history of the mouse house.
It’s a shame because, although she isn’t the toughest princess out there, she’s certainly stronger than many who came after her.
When audiences first met her, she was frightened and confused following being kidnapped and imprisoned, but she wasn’t sitting by and waiting to be rescued.
Instead, she was actively searching for a way out from the dungeon where she was held and she even found a way for Taran, the hero of the story, to escape as well.
She might have been ahead of her time when it comes to Disney princesses as well, asserting her independence and reminding Taran that she was no damsel in distress, that being a girl didn’t make her a lesser hero.
An outsider in a small French village in Beauty and the Beast, Belle always rubbed her fellow villagers the wrong way. She spent the bulk of her free time reading and dreaming of adventure while many in her town were too busy working to learn to read.
Belle’s love of knowledge and literature isn’t her only strength. Belle also was a determined and brave woman.
She journeyed into the woods in the middle of winter to find out just what happened to her father when he vanished. When she discovered the Beast, she might have been frightened, but she didn’t back down.
While Belle remained as a prisoner in the Beast’s castle, she didn’t allow herself to be treated as a prisoner. She had her run of the castle, conversing with the enchanted furniture and changing the day-to-day operations. She was able to teach the Beast the error of his ways, and even save his life - twice.
If we’re talking about sheer physical strength, it’s long been acknowledged by fans that Belle must have some super strength up her sleeves as well.
She is, after all, able to lift the Beast onto her horse and take him back to the castle after he’s attacked by wolves in the woods!
Before the comments start rolling in that Anastasia wasn’t even a Disney movie, the long lost princess makes the list in anticipation of her becoming one. FOX was responsible for the animated Anastasia, and with the deal between Disney and FOX still being worked out, it’s only a matter of time before Anastasia joins the lineup.
In the '90s animated movie, Anya was an orphan with no memory of her childhood. Instead of taking that lying down, she set out on an adventure of her own, looking to build a life and figure out just who she was. She happened to cross paths with a pair of con artists who intended to use her to claim a prize.
While Anya went along with their plan initially, to pretend to be the Princess Anastasia, she did it while not knowing they didn’t believe she was the real deal.
She denounced their plan when she found her family, but she didn’t completely turn her back on them either, still rescuing her former traveling companion from a dark wizard.
Anastasia also makes an unusual choice in the movie. Unlike the many of the princesses in Disney’s movies, she doesn’t continue as a ruler of a kingdom by the end of her story.
Because the story is inspired by the real life royal Romanov family whose lives were stolen in a revolution, Anastasia taking back the country would have changed history. Instead, she gets to make her own choices and live her own life.
Tiana has the honor of being the only African-American princess in Disney’s lineup. She made history by not only being the first in their animated slate, but also the first black character to do meet and greets at Disney’s theme parks.
The milestones in Disney princesses didn’t stop there for Tiana. She was also the first princess to have a real job working toward a goal of owning her own business. Tiana began to develop her love for cooking as a child, and it stayed with her into adulthood. Her passion for food made her one of the hardest working princesses there is.
She also showed a remarkable ability to adapt to difficult situations, figuring out just how to use her strengths as a frog relatively quickly after being transformed into one.
The frog version of Tiana managed to escape with powerful kicks and snap up objects with her elongated tongue, saving herself and the frog version of Naveen on numerous occasions. Her determination and adaptability were also matched by her ingenuity.
She was able to cook while in frog form and build a raft, which is no easy feat.
Tiana also exhibited a trait necessary for many royals: selflessness. Hers wasn’t shown by her ruling over a kingdom, but by her willingness to step aside to allow her best friend happiness and a fortuitous marriage.
Ultimately, all of these combinations and Tiana’s strength of character got her the happy ending: her own restaurant and a former prince to share it with.
As the oldest of Disney princesses (she’s over 8,000 years old during the events of Atlantis: The Lost Empire), Kida is one of Disney’s “forgotten” princesses.
She doesn’t appear in any of Disney’s official princess merchandise and her movie is largely forgotten by audiences. It’s become more of a cult favorite, but Kida deserves to be upgraded from cult status.
Like many on this list, Kida doesn’t marry into royalty; she’s born into it. She’s also born into a magical kingdom full of ancient secrets that is hidden underwater, which makes her pretty cool to begin with.
Like the modern animated movie Moana, Kida is also a voice of dissent amongst her people, trying to unlock the past in order to give them a future.
In addition to saving her people, she’s also a fierce fighter, able to take on people twice her size, and other characters make reference to her ability to slay her enemies with ease.
She has a magical healing crystal to help those who were injured as well. The same crystal links her to her kingdom, allowing her to use enormous magic when her kingdom is threatened.
Kida was also the first Disney princess to officially become a queen by the end of her movie as she takes over the duties of ruling Atlantis.
On the younger end of the Disney princess spectrum, Moana isn’t technically a princess. Instead, she’s the daughter of the chief of her people. She might not live in a castle, but her family still commands respect.
While Moana’s people appear content in their village, Moana spends her childhood looking to the sea and wistfully wishing for adventure. Her parents drill into her that they need to be content where they are, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to find a solution to the problem of their home being endangered.
Moana takes on a nearly impossible task. She decides to sail across the ocean, though her people have forgotten their old seafaring ways, to find a demigod that can help her save her island.
She takes on that task with no real training in the art of sailing, but with a special relationship with the ocean, which afforded her a certain amount of help as she made her way to the demigod.
With a lot of hard work and ingenuity, not only did Moana learn about her peoples’ true history, but she reclaimed it and saved them.
She was the one who realized the “villain” and the goddess she needed to save were one in the same, simply a reflection of how someone who has had their happiness stolen from them would behave. She proved herself as a formidable chief for the future of her village.
Sheer power alone means that Elsa had to nab one of the strongest spots on this list. Not only does her magical ability to freeze things create her own ice palace, but she freezes her entire country, causing winter in the middle of summer!
If magical ability was all it took to create a strong princess though, this would be a very short list. Not every Disney princess is able to wield magic. That magic can also be unpredictable, just like Elsa’s when she accidentally freezes her own sister.
Elsa’s strength comes from knowing when to turn her magic off and when to let someone else have the spotlight. When her parents perished in a shipwreck, the kingdom technically became hers in Frozen.
Knowing how dangerous her abilities were, she locked herself away and learned to control them. Initially, Elsa was ruled by fear, but she learned to control that as well.
She briefly ran away from her kingdom (and her out of control powers) before learning that she didn’t have to rely on just herself to be, not only a princess but, a queen.
By the end of her movie, Elsa not only got rid of the deep freeze on her country and controlled her powers, but she helped her little sister figure out her love life.
One of the few Disney princesses to not have a love interest, Merida broke the mold in a lot of ways - including not playing damsel in distress very well.
One of the biggest Disney tropes is for the princess to find themselves in hot water and need their prince to bail them out.
In Brave, Merida’s journey doesn’t involve finding herself a husband though; instead, her journey is one of self discovery and understanding the importance of family. She sets out to save her family herself.
One of the strongest wills of any of the Disney princesses, Merida learned to fight and to use a bow and arrow from an early age. Though her mother disapproved of those skills, it was those same abilities that allowed Merida to save her mother in the end.
Of course, despite her saving the day, Merida misses out on the “strongest” spot on the list because she’s not adept at getting a kingdom to rally around her (yet), and it’s Merida who actually starts the whole mess in her movie to begin with. It’s her wish that turns her mother into a bear and puts her family in danger.
It’s a good thing she learns from her mistakes.
One of the newer princesses in the Disney lineup, Rapunzel might seem like a naive damsel in distress at first. After all, she’s spent her entire life locked in a tower, cut off from the rest of the world. She quickly proves herself capable of taking care of herself though.
Rapunzel’s naivete can be excused thanks to her isolation. She doesn’t really understand that people can’t be trusted. Her mother might tell her she can’t trust the outside world, but Rapunzel only really applies that to not telling people about her magic hair, which turns out to be a smart choice on her part.
Also as a result of her isolation, Rapunzel developed one of the most impressive skill sets of the Disney princesses.
In addition to the usual singing skills, she’s an artist, a climber, and she’s figured out numerous uses for her extra long hair.
She’s also pretty adept at using a frying pan as a weapon.
More than her ability to swing a mean pan though is her ability to charm people and get them to follow her, something a real leader needs if they’re going to run a kingdom.
Rapunzel is able to charm a tavern full of the more traditional Disney thugs to get them to help her out and ally with her travelling companion later in the movie. She’s got the royal goods.
Technically speaking, Mulan isn’t a princess. She isn’t born into a royal bloodline and audiences never see her marry into one.
She is, however, granted grace by the Emperor of China and features prominently in Disney’s official princess line of merchandise, so she’s an honorary princess in our book, and she earns the strongest spot.
The only child in a traditional Chinese family, Mulan is expected to marry well and bring honor to her parents. Instead, she runs away, taking her father’s place in the Chinese army to fight the Huns. It’s one of the bravest acts any Disney princess has ever undertaken, and it could have seriously backfired on her.
Mulan put in the effort to train with a group of men, never revealing that she was a woman, earning their respect over time. She is, as the song goes, “as fierce as a coursing river, with all the strength of a great typhoon.”
She single handedly caused an avalanche to destroy the approaching army of Huns, holding her own against more experienced military men.
She also continues onto the Emperor’s palace, despite being ostracized once her femininity is discovered, and makes it her own personal mission to save the country. With the help of a few friends, she saves her Emperor and her people, bringing honor to her family in a way they didn’t expect.
Do you agree with our rankings of the Disney princesses? Or were we way off the mark? Tell us who you think the strongest Disney princess is in the comments!