Well, Excuse Me, Princess!

"Why must everything you say to me sound like a criticism?"
Robin Hood to Marian, BBC's Robin Hood

Snarky loser hero meets snarky haughty heroine. They either fall in love, or they snark. Usually both.

This is essentially a satire of the standard Magical Girlfriend, which describes a beautiful, classy, good-mannered, loyal girl - the logical result being she should be somewhat critical of her loser boyfriend. She makes no attempt to ignore the fact that he is the Loser Protagonist, and frequently calls him on it, criticizes him, and rarely if ever fawns over him like some Fangirl. She expects better from him and pushes him to improve, while still expecting to be taken care of. However, the guy usually takes it in stride, mocks her in return, or just says the trope title

Expect a generous helping of Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments, to let the audience know why they should be supporting this couple. The idea is that the snarky loser will help the princess loosen up and be friendlier, while the princess constantly holding the loser to a higher standard will eventually make him improve himself. Often appears in Love Comedies, depending on how satirical the story is.

See also Tsundere. Related to Belligerent Sexual Tension. Compare/Contrast Surrounded by Idiots.

If it involves an actual Princess Princess, see Royal Brat. The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask can make similar demands.

The trope name comes from the old The Legend of Zelda cartoon, where Link would quite often retort to Zelda's nagging with those words note .

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Shinku in Rozen Maiden, partly because she believes Jun is her servant, partly because she has the attitude of an Ojou and Jun is a Hikikomori.
  • Ai Amano of Video Girl Ai twists this trope in that she wasn't supposed to be the girlfriend, but fell for the lovable loser she was trying to improve.
  • Nagi and Princess Arika in Mahou Sensei Negima!, with some serious slaps thrown in for his uppitiness. He was kind of asking for them.
  • William and Miyako in Private Prince genderflip this, as he is the prince and she's the commoner with low patience.
  • Louie and Melissa in Rune Soldier Louie, as Melissa constantly criticizes Louie and tries to turn him into a 'champion'.
  • This sums up Kouji Kabuto and Maria Grace Fleed's relationship in UFO Robo Grendizer, which might be one of the (if not the) earliest examples in anime. Considering that Koji is being himself, Maria's behavior is understandable.
  • In My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, its a notable element of the chemistry between Hachiman Hikigaya and Yukino Yukinoshita. Although compared to the average person, it's debatable if Hachiman is a loser. Still with Hachiman compared to Yukino this trope is likely to apply. Yukino is described as incredibly beautiful, a strong first academically and, in Hachiman's words (LN), the "epitome of nobility". On the other hand, Hachiman is described as having an unpleasant appearance, academically variable at best and socially awkward.
  • Sayoko from Tentai Senshi Sunred is the girlfriend of Sunred, an ex-sentai hero who's unemployed. Despite being the one of them not capable of punching holes in concrete and running at the speed of sound, she's the one who does everything around the house, owns their apartment and stationary, earns a steady paycheck, and (with her limited spare time) tries to get Sunred to apply himself.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown Of Stars: Asuka often expresses annoyance and dissatisfaction with Shinji behaving like a wimpy pushover who will not stand up for himself, will not push back when pushed and apologises for anything when she knows he can be better than that. Shinji is not a good snarker and usually he ignores or lets her criticisms go, but sometimes he will retort.
    • Chapter 50 provides an example of this. Asuka complains about his lack of self-esteem and declares that she will turn him into a hero, and Shinji scowls: “So do I have no said on it?”
    • Chapter 21 provides an example of Asuka playing her part:
      Asuka:“We travel to another world, hopscotch all over space and time, raise the dead, rocket around in the hottest mecha in the universe, and still all you say is ‘I’m sorry.’ I despair of improving you, Third. Am I going have to throw you in the lagoon like I said earlier?”
  • Evangelion 303: Asuka and Shinji's relationship played like this during the first chapters before getting together. She would snark and he would snark back, usually in a milder way. Or she would insist that he was now part of the elite so that he should act like it, and he would snark. Or she would be rude due to be upset, and he would snark.

    Film — Animated 
  • Princess Eilonwy in the Disney animated version of The Black Cauldron, who patronizes Taran when she learns that he's not a warrior or a lord, but an Assistant Pig Keeper. When Taran pats himself on the back for enabling their castle escape, she takes him down a few notches by reminding him not only that her knowledge of the dungeon passageways allowed him to break out of there, but that Taran's magic sword did most of the work.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • For a while after Star Wars, Harrison Ford was typecast for this kind of storyline. The number of movies with the premise "Harrison Ford is forced together with haughty woman and they hate each other but eventually fall in love" is considerable.
  • Since it's a parody of Star Wars, Spaceballs has a generous helping of this dynamic with Princess Vespa (of the planet Druidia) and Lone Starr. Mel Brooks said he named the planet Druidia so he could use this one joke:
    Princess: "I am Princess Vespa. My father is King Roland. King of the Druids!"
    Lone Starr: "Great, a Druish princess."
    Barf: "Funny. She doesn't look Druish."
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time with Dastan and Tamina since Dastan (as the adopted son of the King of Persia) should be higher ranked than Tamina (as princess of a smallish city state). Sure Dastan was born an urchin but after spending most of his life as a prince the interaction comes across as odd. He defers to her (when he's not selling her to bandits) because he's a gentleman, she's overbearing and holds a grudge because he is the main reason that Persia was able to conquer her small city-state. The overbearing attitude was more or less an act because she nearly escapes (and kills) Dastan because of it.
  • The Wizard: Corey and Haley follow this trope to the tee. He even compares her to Zelda (someone who always needs to be rescued and is the Trope Namer) and she takes that as sexist.

    Literature 
  • In David Eddings' Belgariad, this is Garion and Ce'Nedra's relationship condensed down to four words. Unsurprisingly, she's pissed when she finds out that he isn't just a farm boy, but the long-lost heir to the Rivan Throne and hereditary Overlord of the West... in other words, more royal than she is. Belgarion has the foresight to find a way to make them equal in status to preserve his own sanity after the marriage.
  • Aravis to Shasta in C. S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy. This defines their relationship from the very beginning. Their first words to each other: "Why, you're only a girl." "And you're only a boy. A rude, common little boy. A slave probably who's stolen his master's horse!" The Lemony Narrator even jokes about this at the end, when he tells the readers that they continued to affectionately bicker and eventually decided to get married so they could continue to do so more conveniently.
  • The relationship between Taran and Eilonwy in The Chronicles of Prydain, although the series is peppered liberally with Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments, mitigating this somewhat. She initially found him "fascinating" for being an Assistant Pig Keeper in the original Chronicles of Prydain because she had never met an Assistant Pig Keeper before. In fact, she held a persistently casual attitude towards most everything. Though there was an element of the stated trope present, she didn't judge him less for his station. Except when she is Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • The titular heroine of Daisy Miller:
    Winterbourne: I wish you would flirt with me, and me only.
    Daisy: Ah! thank you—thank you very much; you are the last man I should think of flirting with. As I have had the pleasure of informing you, you are too stiff.
    Winterbourne: You say that too often.
    Daisy: If I could have the sweet hope of making you angry, I should say it again.
  • Marguerite Blakeney and her husband, Lord Percy Blakeney, of The Scarlet Pimpernel fame. She fell in love with him and agreed to marry him despite his foppish ways because she could sense there was some depth there. But after their marriage, those depths have apparently evaporated, and she's married to a complete airhead whose most pressing concern is fashion. (Or so she thinks...) She doesn't hold him to a high standard anymore — she just mocks him openly to their friends. Percy doesn't fight back in his own defense, because he loves her, but does not trust her.
  • Carline in The Riftwar Cycle acts like this towards Pug, then later in the series, towards Laurie.
  • In the Discworld novel Mort, the titular character has this sort of relationship with Ysabel, Death's adopted daughter.
  • Kitai of the Codex Alera. She wanted to bond with a horse, and continues to remind Tavi at relatively regular intervals. She doesn't just look down at him for personal reasons, but also detests his species. She snarks it up with some of the best and, yes, they do eventually fall in love. She gets a Quip to Black to end out the series that doubles as this trope. It's also a mild genderflip: Tavi's royalty, Kitai's just the daughter of the head of one tribe, and her people's diplomat (appointed by Tavi).
  • Precious Stone is this to James Bond at the start of the Young Bond novel Hurricane Gold. But as the hardships that she and him have to endure accumulate, she gets better and becomes a valuable ally.
  • Arya of the Inheritance Cycle tries to do this to keep Eragon at bay, because even though he's an adult by human standards, by the standards of the semi-immortal Elves and Dragon Riders he's the youngest of kids. She's the child of the queen, groomed for leadership, her people's diplomat, a warrior, and he's a moonstruck fledgling rider who is their only hope and doesn't need the distraction. In retrospect, she's right and he's still finishing puberty.
  • Priscilla in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Narrative Poem "The Courtship of Miles Standish". Her snarky, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" has even achieved meme status.
  • Canderous refers to Bastila specifically as "You spoiled little Jedi princess." Because of this, Canderous/Bastila is an ascended Crack Ship, popularized when a fanfic writer (who writes romance novels professionally) took a whack at it.
  • In The Underland Chronicles, Gregor seems to love mocking Luxa's stiff conduct and all that. Has some pretty funny moments.
  • Subverted (and gender-flipped) in Pride and Prejudice. Darcy thinks this is what's going on with him and Elizabeth when she makes "lively" comments in response to his haughty opinions and thinks there's a growing attraction between them. Turns out it's all on his side; she really does think he's a total prat. (Which, once she spells it out, motivates him to be nicer.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 2006 BBC Robin Hood series
    • Robin notes that everything Marian says to him sounds like a criticism.
    • Allan-a-Dale's priceless reaction to Kate snapping: "My NAME is KATE!" by way of an introduction. His expression qualifies.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Both of Xander Harris' girlfriends, Cordelia and Anya, had a strong tendency in this direction. By the time he's going with Anya, he's more competent at arguing back, and so the trope is lampshaded in dialogue.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed! For non-Trekkies, that's Lwaxana Troi, Deanna's mom. She marched around the Enterprise and Deep Space Nine like she owned the place, and looked awesome doing it. At least once per appearance, she would say her full title when letting some unfortunate schmo know who they were dealing with, in a way that would evoke the local equivalent of "Well, excuuuuse me, Princess!" if not for the diplomatic incident it would cause. She wanted to be Picard's Love Interest, but he wasn't interested... though she claims otherwise, and she would know. It's made all the more hilarious that Lwaxana was played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and therefore literally owned the place (the idea, anyway).

      Later appearances had her blow through the titles like she was sick of saying it, generally when she honestly expected people to not be impressed. Her introduction to a certain constable springs to mind...
    • Kaitama the First Monarch in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Precious Cargo". She starts off as a kidnapping victim Girl in a Box. When she is removed by Trip Tucker, she spends the episode being this to him while they escape from the kidnappers, leading to the inevitable squabbling, torn clothing, and passionate clinching.
  • Cheers: Diane often acts like this, much to Sam's chagrin. Most of their clashes tend to stem from Diane needling Sam for his Book Dumb status—and his typical predilection for women that Diane deems airheads/floozies.
    Diane: You're a rapidly aging adolescent!
    Sam: Well, I would rather be that than a snob!
    Diane: And I would rather be a snob.
    Sam: Well, good!—because you are!
  • Caleb and Hannah from Pretty Little Liars dynamic as a couple fit this trope at the beginning of their relationship. caleb even calls her princess. She thinks it's pretty hilarious.
  • In Gossip Girl, during their short-lived, but tumultuous romance arc Blair treats Dan Humphrey this way. Bonus points for her being an actual princess part of that time.

    Theater 
  • Roxane of Cyrano de Bergerac is an intellectual who needs a guy with eloquence and creative genius, and if you can't deliver, she'll show you the door.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem
  • The eponymous Prince of Persia (in his 3-D incarnations) has this sort of a relationship with the various female sidekicks he works with.
    Farah: WHY DID YOU PUT YOUR SWORD AWAY?!
  • Almost every girl Jimmy from Bully takes interest in, with the exception of Zoe, though she is definitely snarky.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Link always makes a face at Midna and even growls at her as a wolf. It crosses into Vitriolic Best Buds later in the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Princess Ruto starts berating Link as soon as they meet, and forces him to literally carry her out of Jabu-Jabu's belly. Then she gets both huffy and blushy about how the Third Elemental Stone is also the Zora Engagement Ring.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Link in The Legend of Zelda cartoon, in his most lackadaisical and loser guy iteration. Zelda was a good mix of both this and the Magical Girlfriend tropes.
  • Kim Possible attempting to fix best friend Ron Stoppable. Considering how pathetic he was through Season 1 and 2, she didn't go far enough.
    Kim: Last night he had to take off his shoes to count to 12; now he's taking a genius aptitude test.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine was likely thinking this exact quote when Emily began trying to "advise" him in one episode. Then there was that time she took over Gordon's express and began throwing her weight around. Not to mention that one time when she visited an old castle and proclaimed her Queen Emily.
  • Mai of Avatar: The Last Airbender - Grey DeLisle (Azula) commented Mai had Zuko "totally whipped."
  • The Legend of Korra
  • Defied in Daria, where most of the guys don't want to have any sort of relationship with her and they either didn't mind her snarkiness or didn't notice it. This was later justified as part of Daria's defenses against being emotionally hurt - she'd hit them, so they couldn't get close enough to get a chance to hurt her.
  • Stickin' Around has Bradley and Stacy involved in this, especially considering Bradley's air headed nature and Stacy's witty sensibility.
  • While they aren't in a love relationship (remove the Shipping Goggles and you'll see it) Gwen Tennyson often would have this attitude toward her cousin Ben in the original Ben 10 series. This happens often in the sequel series.
  • Sonic Sat Am has Sonic the Hedgehog, a Smug Super with little patience and Princess Sally Acorn, the bossy tomboyish Dead Pan Snarker.