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Characters / Elena of Avalor - Esteban

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Character page for Chancellor Esteban Flores, the cousin of Crown Princess Elena of Avalor.

Due to the nature of this character, expect heavy spoilers abound.

Note: Spoilers for Season 1 are unmarked. You Have Been Warned.

Chancellor Esteban Flores
Voiced by: Christian Lanz
Voiced in Latin American Spanish by: Pepe Vilchis
Voiced in Japanese by: Naoki Oikawa
Appearances: Sofia the First | Elena of Avalor

"And it will be clear to everyone who is the real power behind the throne."

The Chancellor of Avalor and Elena & Isabel's older maternal cousin. While he can be egotistical and pushy at times, he is committed to doing what he thinks is best for Avalor... even if that means trying to prove Elena is still too young to rule.

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  • Affably Evil: Even under Shuriki's rule, he was fairly polite and nonjudgmental in conversation.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Pleads with Elena to let him explain himself for his crimes and not to throw him in the dungeons, and later, not to exile him, throughout "The Magic Within". He later begs her not to fire her scepter at him in "Captain Mateo", pleading that he never intended for anyone to get hurt. Elena is having none of it.
  • Always Second Best:
    • Victor nicknamed him "El Segundo", because when they were kids, they would race around the palace and Victor would end up winning while Esteban ate his dust. It has a Double Meaning, because Esteban is stuck as Chancellor while Elena is Queen of Avalor.
    • He continues to be this in his dynamic with Ash, a woman his age but a much more powerful and experienced sorcerer on the same level as Shuriki. Even after receiving training from her and Zopilote, they still consider him the weaker of the duo (especially since Esteban's heart isn't entirely committed to being evil) and Ash is sure to remind him that he's her "trainee" and not "partner" when they introduce themselves to Chatana.
  • Ambition Is Evil: As a young man, he betrayed his family to Shuriki in exchange for political power, only helping as long as she promised not to hurt his family. Of course, she lied, but he essentially got to rule Avalor. He regrets it.
  • Animal Motif: "Dreamcatcher" gives him a toucan motif. Of all animals, this surprisingly fits well since toucans apparently symbolize self-esteem, communication, and showing your true self.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: He secretly betrayed his family to Shuriki, which resulted in Elena's parents dying, and the rest of his family being sealed away for a long time. He was deeply remorseful about it and worked to improve the lives of citizens and helped Elena defeat Shuriki as penance, but he also refuses to come clean with the secret of how he betrayed them to start with (though he wanted to, yet Elena didn't believe it) and despite the disastrous results of his ambition before, he still lusts for glory and seeks to undermine Elena at any opportunity he can, but he is still cautious about actually crossing the line into betraying her or his family again and does not want them to come to harm on his account, and fears losing them above all else. And then when his secret gets exposed, he'd rather run away with extremely dangerous criminals that threaten the sake of Avalor and his family, although he's not happy about teaming up with them. To sum it up, he's a pretty morally complicated character.
  • Anything but That!: His reaction to being exiled to Soledad to live out his days alone. Much of what he does afterwards is driven by not wanting to be exiled.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Downplayed in that at worst, he's probably a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and he does feel immense guilt over getting his uncle and aunt killed, and seeing Elena vanish before his eyes, as well as sticking Avalor in a forty-one year dictatorship, which were caused by his ambition.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: For all the bickering and problems he causes with Elena, he really does love her like a sister.
  • Awful Truth:
    • The truth? King Raul and Queen Lucia are dead, the surviving members of the royal family were magically sealed away, and Avalor suffered under Shuriki's rule for four decades all because Esteban wanted more. Esteban is afraid of how his family will react, both for his sake and their sake. Rightfully so.
      I must protect my family's/troubled heart,
      I cannot break their/my world apart,
      Hurting them is something I would never do.
    • That his family will never take him back and that there is nothing he can do to absolve him of his sins.
  • Being Evil Sucks:
    • Esteban felt he didn't receive the respect he deserved, helped Shuriki take over his home, and at what cost? His family, his friends, everything he cared for. He made his lot in life worse because of that choice.
    • He sides with Ash out of desperation when his family disowns him and intend to banish him to a remote island, but this means forsaking what chance he did have at trying to earn back their trust. Elena and their abuela have made it clear they will never forgive him and it's implied that it's a sentiment shared with the rest of the kingdom too. Now he's definitely lost the love of his family forever.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: As an ambitious teenager, he made a deal with Shuriki to obtain more power. She gave it to him at the cost of his family being destroyed, which devastated him.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: He and Victor worked together with Shuriki to help her takeover Avalor, but apparently, Victor did something that caused Shuriki to exile him and his family. Victor blames Esteban for not doing anything to stop it.
  • Beyond Redemption: Everyone except for Francisco and possibly Isabel believes that there's nothing he can do to make up for his compliance to Shuriki's regime. It takes Esteban being personally told by Elena that no matter how much either of them wish he could undo what he did, he can't and he is dead to her. It's enough to push him beyond the Despair Event Horizon into a true Face–Heel Turn...
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Ash in Season 3, with her as his new magic teacher and him as her apprentice.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Played with. At the time of the show's release, this was a common trope for villains in recent Disney movies. The first couple of episodes seem to indicate he's a Devil in Plain Sight and no one will be the wiser until it's too late, which would have made this an exaggeration of the trope, but it turns out he's just a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, making this an inversion. However... the crossover special/pilot episode reveals he was partly responsible for Shuriki's takeover of Avalor, which he immensely regrets.
  • Break the Cutie: He's directly responsible for the murders of his aunt and uncle and supposedly cousin, the indefinite sealing of his younger cousin and their abuelos, doing nothing when his best friend was exiled, and a 41-year-long regime. He's realized since that he just wants to be loved and that his sins will surely cause him to lose exactly that. When that happens, he's desperate for another chance, only for Elena to tell him that it simply isn't possible and that he has no home or family to return to now, which finally sends him over the Despair Event Horizon into a wholehearted Face–Heel Turn.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gets picked on a lot. Usually deserves it.
  • Cain and Abel: The Cain to Elena's Abel, although he's reluctant about it... at first.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: When Pili states that he may be worse than Ash, Esteban displays a Psychotic Smirk and agrees with him. And Naomi after seeing the wanted poster is more worried about what Esteban will do rather than Ash.
  • Catchphrase: "Yes, this is true.", usually said in response to a compliment or when someone agrees with him. Or when Pili implies he's worse than Ash.
  • Character Development: He stops trying to show up Elena after about halfway through Season 1 and becomes a lot more approachable, though he still has his moments of being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. At the end of Season 2, he tells Elena that he's become proud of her and has faith that she'll become a great ruler one day.
    • And of course, personal growth is not linear. At the beginning of Season 3, he and Paloma team up to sabotage Julio's Feast of Friendship - on his part, it was because he was upset over not being invited. When Elena learns of this, she chews him out and he accepts it. A couple of episodes later, he reverts back to being a Dirty Coward when his secret is revealed, to the point of escaping prison before his punishment can be carried out and freeing the Delgados with him so that they can protect him, then fleeing with Ash out of fear of what she may do to him if he refused.
  • The Chosen Zero: Everyone including himself knows that he's the last person who should wield the great power of the crystals. But he fell into the well, so...
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Zigzagged. Esteban betrayed his family, but Shuriki had promised not to hurt them — which was a lie. Shuriki also exiled Victor, who had worked together on the scheme with the two of them, and according to Victor, Esteban could've stopped it.]] And then forty years later, Esteban is Shuriki's The Dragon, but he ends up betraying her for his family and kingdom once Elena returns. However, he doesn't let her or anyone else know that he betrayed them to Shuriki first... and when they learn on their own, he betrays them by working with the Delgados in a moment of panic, and then solidifies his Face–Heel Turn when Elena tells him that he's dead to the family.
    Elena: For a moment there, I wasn't sure who's side you were on.
    Esteban: I was always on our side.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: As a result of de-aging back into a child and a baby throughout "Island of Youth", he ends up losing his pants, but apparently not his boxers... which apparently have crown prints on them.
    Esteban: Why am I sucking my thumb? And where are my pants?
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: To Cedric. Like Cedric, he's a cynical schemer who hopes to usurp control from the rightful ruler of his kingdom, even though it's clear that he holds some begrudging affection towards the series' main princess. But Cedric's schemes never went as far as resulting in any person's death, much less the deaths of his princess's loved ones, and it's clear that Esteban doesn't want to openly antagonize his family due to his own guilt over Shuriki's actions. A rather interesting contrast comes up later on in Elena: pre-Heel–Face Turn Cedric, as a trained sorcerer, would've been thrilled to be granted the power boost from the Well of Takaina, whereas Esteban initially has no idea what to even do with magic, not until he's pushed to learn from Ash and Zopilote.
  • Cruel Mercy: The Royal Council except for Abuelo votes to exile him to Soledad Island, a far and remote island, for the rest of his days. Elena considers it mercy over letting him rot in the castle dungeons, but this was mostly to ease her and everyone's minds than for his sake.
  • The Cynic: While Elena always hopes for the best, Esteban usually expects the worst.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In "Snow Place Like Home", he reveals that when he was a child, his parents died to an unexpected storm at sea while they were sailing in the Northern Seas. He had a bad feeling about the trip and tried to warn them before they left, but they fell on deaf ears. He was taken in by his abuelo and abuela to live in the royal palace afterwards.
  • Dark Is Evil: His suit while working under Shuriki was black. Though it may qualify as Dark Is Not Evil, since he was a Punch-Clock Villain and he does turn against her.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: His outfit with the red suit also has a lot of black, making him seem dark-colored compared to the rest of the cast, but he's still one of the good guys. Reverts back to Dark Is Evil when he has his Face–Heel Turn again.
  • Dark Secret: As far as everyone knows, Esteban was coerced into helping Shuriki invade Avalor 41 years prior. The real truth is that he was willingly complicit, only to regret it after losing his family. The only other person who knows of Esteban's treachery is his friend Victor Delgado, because he was in on it too, and used this fact to blackmail Esteban into giving him Queen Lucia's tiara in exchange for his silence.
  • Darth Vader Clone: Is he ever. Esteban was a heroic character who was flawed, and is biologically related to the hero. The tragic loss of his parents became a starting catalyst that would slowly begin his fall. Since then, he felt underappreciated and not respected enough, that he wanted more. He then commits an act of treachery that he couldn't go back from, shaking his loved ones to their very core, though in this case they wouldn't learn about it until 44 years later. Since then, Esteban's self-destructive tendencies only ended up causing him to lose his loved ones, one way or another. In one of his confrontations with Elena, her telling Esteban that he was like a brother to her is the same thing Obi-Wan felt of Anakin. Fittingly, Esteban's final confrontation before his Face–Heel Turn was with the person who once called him brother, who leaves him feeling that he is Beyond Redemption. The loss and/or estrangement with his loved ones put him past the Despair Event Horizon. After that, apprenticeship to the Big Bad became all he had left to live for, cementing his fall.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Seeing his aunt and uncle get killed and losing his grandparents was especially traumatic that for 41 years, he became too broken to resist Shuriki. Elena's return however, eventually brought him out of his despair.
    • Being disowned by his family and getting sentenced to banishment on a Deserted Island makes him break out of prison and try to flee the country. When Ash points out how impractical this is for someone in his position, he's convinced when she proposes an alliance. Him rejecting his punishment further destroys whatever relationship he had left with his family, which he's partly aware of.
  • Deuteragonist: His actions have as much impact on the story as Elena's and her villains, as he is partially responsible for Shuriki's conquest of Avalor as well as her downfall, remains on Elena's council as an experienced chancellor, and especially after he solidifies himself as an official threat once he's exiled from the royal family. He sides with new Big Bad Ash, and suddenly gains his own magical powers to directly face off against Elena's.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • He won't be confessing to his family anytime soon about how he betrayed the royal family to Shuriki for political power in the first place. Even when Victor reveals this to Elena's face, Elena assumes Victor was lying and Esteban doesn't correct her despite being ready to talk about it. Well, it's not like what Elena said ''after'' that wasn't inaccurate.
    • In "The Magic Within", when the innocent question of if Esteban remembers what Raul and Lucia's planned Carnaval float looked like turns into where Esteban was the day Raul and Lucia were killed, Elena notices how suspicious Esteban is in begging her not to use her new magic to learn it and does so. After his betrayal is revealed, he pleads Elena and co. to stop and listen to him, expects to be Easily Forgiven (and is caught by surprise when he isn't), and manipulates Higgins to break out of his cell. Even worse, he takes the Delgados with him when the convince him that they can protect him — putting Avalor and his family and friends in danger once again — and is intimidated by Ash into leaving with him to Takaína after she betrays Victor and Carla.
  • The Dragon: To Shuriki during her forty-one year rule of Avalor.
  • Dramatic Irony: When he explains that he betrayed everyone because he felt unloved, Abuelo is the only one who believes he has changed since then. He once again takes the love he has for granted by refusing to take his exile sentence. Abuela was right — he hasn't changed one bit.
  • Easily Forgiven: Perhaps because he is family, but Elena regularly forgives him, whatever his sin. He's usually pretty sincere when he apologizes, though. That being said, Elena, Isabel, and their grandparents aren't aware that Esteban helped Shuriki take over Avalor in the first place, only to Heel–Face Turn at the end.
    • Averted in "Norberg Peace Prize", where Elena is still upset with him after he tried to sabotage Julio's Feast of Friendship in the previous episode. He is apologetic and tries to make up for it by giving her her father's notebook to help her learn about mediation, then gives her space and wishes her a safe and successful travel to Norberg.
    • Averted hard by everyone except for his abuelo in "The Magic Within". Everyone asks him how could be betray his family and Avalor when he obviously had the love he claimed he couldn't see, and though they slightly sympathize with his sob story (except for Naomi and probably Gabe), they charge him with an exile to a faroff remote island in the kingdom.
  • Emotional Regression: Noticeably, he acts like a relatively normal adult in the pilot and does have a few moments where he does act a bit Not So Above It All in public settings, but if he's ever around Elena, Naomi, Abuelo, or Abuela, he reverts to a Manchild. Justified, as he lost his family when he was still a teenager, presumably had trouble properly emotionally developing while working for Shuriki (considering how much of the show's backstory is his fault...), and he doesn't know how else to act around them. Why he acts this way towards Naomi is presumably because of her close association to Elena and her being a lower-class foreigner who he envies and sees as unqualified.
  • Enemy Mine: He breaks the Delgados out of prison with him when they convince him that he needs them as protection. When they attempt to ditch him after he gets them their tamboritas back, he convinces them to let him stay with them because he knows the layout of Avalor Palace and the countryside like it's the back of his hand. After Ash turns against Victor and Carla, Esteban only continues to work with her out of fear for his own life.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Even though Elena and their family have disowned him and will never forgive him for his treachery, Esteban will still not allow any harm to come to them, even if they try to harm him.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • As much as he has ego problems, he can't stand those with insufferably obnoxious egos, such as Doña Paloma or Princess Valentina or King Hector, since he feels they can't be reasoned with. For Paloma, he does actually respect her and is able to work together whenever they agree on something, which is apparently more often than we're led to think. For Val, he was against signing a peace treaty with Paraíso, but he changed his mind because he knew how crucial it was that Victor and Carla are caught. As for King Hector... he's a lost cause.
    • During Shuriki's reign, in spite of his own uptight behavior, he did not enjoy her taking away everything fun from the Kingdom. And, to his admittance, he was horrified when he saw Shuriki strike at his aunt and uncle.
  • Evil All Along: Elena and co. interpret him breaking out of prison with the Delgados as this, but in truth, he only did it so that they could protect him. Although Elena eventually cools down from her Irrational Hatred and comes to understand that this isn't the case, but nevertheless...
  • Evil Chancellor: Downplayed version; he's not entirely evil, just full of himself and not opposed to using trickery to try to prove that Elena is still too young to rule and he should be in charge. If anything, he strives to find a way to prove himself right, and can't stand the prospect of being wrong.
    • Before he became chancellor though, he did help Shuriki invade Avalor all those years ago. After Shuriki harmed his family, he started having second thoughts, gradually returning some sense back into him and he ended up helping Elena in the end. He really zigzags across the line. Little did he know it was going to come back to haunt him.
    • After he is tried for his betrayal, he teams up with the Delgados out of desperation and eventually does make a genuine Face–Heel Turn, but by then, he's been stripped of his title as chancellor.
  • Evil Costume Switch: During his time with Shuriki, he adopted a black version of his uniform, but after Elena returns, he undergoes a Good Costume Switch to his maroon uniform. Then his maroon uniform gets a retouch when he makes another Face–Heel Turn.
  • Evil Uncle: Technically cousin, but fills more or less the same niche, being an older, more detached family member seeking glory and credit for himself. Whereas he's "evil" is debatable, though he was 41 years ago. If anything he was closer to being the Evil Nephew, because it was his aunt and uncle he helped Shuriki overthrow.
  • Exact Words: In "King of the Carnaval", in response to Elena's remark that Esteban would never do anything to hurt their family. Esteban affirms that to be true, and it is to the letter—Esteban never intended for any of his family to be harmed, but Shuriki violated that part of the deal.
  • The Exile: The Royal Council planned on exiling him to the remote island of Soledad Island as mercy as opposed to letting him rot in the dungeons. He opts to break out of prison before he can be shipped off, running around Avalor with Ash.
  • Fading Away: In "Dreamcatcher", Elena accidentally teleports him back to the courtyard while having an emotional breakdown about him. After she finally vents to him about her conflicted feelings about him, she calms down and her magic teleports him back to where he originally was, but as he fades away, he reaches out for Elena and calls out her name.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Naomi.
    • When it seems that Naomi has to go home, he accompanies the others in bidding her farewell at the docks and appears genuinely saddened to see her go.
    • Naomi expects him to agree with her about not signing a peace treaty with the Sirenas, only for him to vote in favor of the peace treaty, much to her chagrin.
    • "The Magic Within" pretty much kills whatever friendship they had after his betrayal is revealed, with Naomi initially feeling saddened by this reveal to being the only completely unsympathetic council member while he gives his Dark and Troubled Past and votes in favor of exiling him.
  • Foil:
    • To Cristobal. Both are cousins to Elena on opposite sides of her family, but Esteban is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold while Cristobal is a Nice Guy whot turns out to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Both also betrayed their families for their selfish desires, with Esteban betraying them for power when be believed he wasn't loved, while Cristobal did it to get more money. Additionally, Esteban was left troubled by his parents' death, while Cristobal was happy his father died, and both events continue to influence them to the present day.
    • To Ash. Both gave up their families for power, and when they're both given the miraculous chance to have them back, they mess it up. Ash willingly throws them away, while Esteban tried so hard to keep them that he lied to them because he knows the reason why he gave them up is irredeemable. Additionally, both Ash and Esteban lost people dear to them (and possibly parents for Ash) at a young age that forever changed their view of the world for the worse and found Parental Substitutes, but Ash became worse because her father-figure was Zopilote while Esteban was raised like a son by his grandparents. Interestingly, Ash chose to have a husband and daughter of her own only to end up hurting them, while Esteban remained single due to his various issues, which was probably the better choice between the two.
  • Freudian Excuse: He's spent his life at the beck and call of others, from his grandparents to Shuriki to Elena, and has never been able to accomplish his own dreams.
    • Also, before his parents departed on a ship ride, he had felt something was wrong and his concerns were dismissed. His fears turned out to be correct, as they were caught in a storm at sea. Naturally, his authoritarian attitude and ambitions for more powerful status stems from this trauma of not being listened to when it truly mattered.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: In "The Magic Within," with his alliance with Shuriki's takeover out in the open, his family tears his excuse apart, stating outright that nothing justifies his betraying them all to Shuriki, especially since he got his aunt and uncle killed and brought a dark age to Avalor.
  • Fugitive Arc: He goes on the run in Season 3 after he breaks out of prison to avoid his punishment of being exiled. Not helped that he's chosen to team up with Ash, one of Avalor's most dangerous villains, but he's not happy about it.
  • Glory Days: In "Island of Youth", he laments that he used to be so cool and badass back then, but he was always busy with his responsibilities that he never got time to do what he wanted.
  • The Good Chancellor: Despite working as Shuriki's dragon, he was a Punch-Clock Villain and actually used his position to improve the lives of his people, such as making Avalor into a major trading partner with other kingdoms. Helps that Shuriki left the royal duties to him. After Shuriki was overthrown, not only can he mentor Elena, he gets more leeway in voicing his opinion.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Crown print as seen in "Island of Youth".
  • Headbutting Heroes: He and Naomi have this dynamic, as he doubts she is even qualified for the responsibilities of being part of Elena's grand council. In "Captain Turner Returns", it's demonstrated that despite any misgivings he had of her, he admitted he'd miss having her around. In "Royal Rivalry", he confessed that he said a lot of things behind her back.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: He turns against his family and helps Shuriki take over so that he can acquire power, but ends up regretting it when she kills his aunt, uncle, and apparently Elena while Isabel and their abuelos are stuck in a painting indefinitely. He ends up becoming a Punch-Clock Villain and Token Good Teammate, and once Elena returns, he makes his Heel–Face Turn back to the side of good, even if his jerkassery makes it a bit vague. Then once his treason is discovered, he attempts to go into hiding before he can be punished and frees the Delgados to be pragmatic, but he's not happy about that part.
  • History Repeats: "The Magic Within" has Esteban continuing to work with an evil sorceress out of fear for his own life even after she decides Victor is useless to her now and gets betrays him.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Back when Shuriki was ruler, she openly and proudly neglected her duties and the people, meaning that Esteban was more or less the one actually running Avalor while Shuriki attended other matters. Specifically, Esteban used his position as Chancellor to improve the lives of others. Goes without saying he's been in the political field longer than her or even Elena. Elena ends up having trouble doing all of his work when he becomes a fugitive.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: He invokes this in "Three Jaquins and a Princess", becoming angered when Doña Paloma insults Armando's baking skills.
    Esteban: No-one talks to Armando like that but me!
  • I Can Explain: After his secret is revealed, pleading with Elena to wait and let him explain is all he has to say. She is having none of it because there is no excuse for what he had done. And the last thing he does before the two formally become enemies is him calling out for her to wait as he reaches out for her one last time.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • He helped Shuriki take over Avalor in the first place to gain more power as long as she didn't harm his family, but after she went back on their promise by killing the king and queen and intended to (and as far as he knew, succeeded in) kill the others, he stayed, feeling he had no other choice. Elena, though unaware of Esteban and Shuriki's deal, understands that he did it to survive and is okay with it since he turned against Shuriki in the end, but Victor calls him out on it, saying that he shouldn't have betrayed him. Shuriki points out in the pilot episode that he didn't have to continue following her. Additionally, rather subtly, in his song, "Something I Would Never Do", he talks about how he "can't", "must", "have", etc. do something, even though he could choose not to.
    • Continuing that theme, in "Island of Youth", he complains that he spent his whole life listening to other people and doing what they say. His grandparents? Justified, since they're his parental figures. Elena? She's kind of his boss now, and he knows she needs him to mentor her. Shuriki? No, you didn't have to listen to her.
      • Everyone calls him out on all of this once his betrayal is discovered, pointing out there's no excuse for what he did no matter how much he tries to appeal to Freudian Excuse.
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side: During his time serving Shuriki, he didn't see any benefit fighting against her when she was much stronger, and thus lost any hope of winning. He eventually regained his hope, and turned against Shuriki.
  • I Have No Son!: After his betrayal is revealed, Elena disowns him as her cousin, saying that despite being raised like siblings, she doesn't know him at all, and Abuela disowns him as her grandson (after Abuelo had just said that he was Like A Son To Us) because he got her daughter and son-in-law killed. The show even treats him as if he were no longer a part of the family, with the third intro variation removing him from the "With her family by her side" scene and any moment from then on where Elena talks about how she loves her family but obviously doesn't mean Esteban.
    • Elena eventually has to tell it straight to his face in "Dreamcatcher" that no, he is not her family, he is not welcome back to her home, he's Beyond Redemption, and there is nothing he can do to change it, no matter how much they both wish he could. Esteban gets the message.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: It's implied a few times that he doubts his family's love for him. It's likely that this was a factor in him betraying his family, as he states in "Something I Would Never Do" that he didn't realize how much his family loved him until they were gone.
    Elena: Anything for my favorite cousin!
    Esteban: Elena, I'm your only cousin.
    Elena: Oh, don't be like that. Besides, I know how much you love me.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: He's only related to the royal family by law, as Queen Lucia is his aunt by blood. Shuriki got to power in the first place because she falsely promised to Esteban that if he betrays his family for her, then she'll place him in a power of high position.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: And he's not wrong. Though some fans like to argue that he's not too bad in his old age either.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: In "Finders Leapers", he openly considers himself a better and more qualified leader than Naomi because she's nothing but a commoner while he's of royal blood, to the extent that he vastly overestimates his own intelligence; when his own blundering ends up freeing the Duende from their imprisonment and putting Avalor in danger, he repeatedly blames Naomi. Needless to say, after the third time, Elena and Professor Mendoza have had enough and put him in his place:
    Elena: You haven't been following [Naomi], Esteban! You were the one who let the first Duende out, you ignored Naomi at the park, and you sprung the trap too early. The problem hasn't been Naomi. It's been you.
    Prof. Mendoza: Yeah, I guess you were never royally trained in listening.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Outwardly, he looks like he has a big ego and is envious of Elena, but in the inside, he's scared of losing his family again if they ever found out that he helped Shuriki take over in the first place, and what drove him to do that was that he felt inadequate in comparison to his cousins as well as feeling out of place and unloved in the family.
  • Irony:
    • His catchphrase is "Yes, this is true.", but he sure lies a lot...
    • For someone who's only royal because his aunt married into royalty, he's sure insecure about it when someone dismisses his position or tries to use it against other people, such as when he dismissed Naomi as a commoner.
    • His betrayal is revealed on the eve of Carnaval, his favorite holiday, because he refused to answer what he was doing when he was supposed to be helping his aunt and uncle work on the Carnaval float — he was helping Shuriki at the time. He is then put on trial and sentenced the next day, Carnaval, and much to his regret, he ends up missing out on the celebration. Even worse is that the celebration almost got ruined since Elena's magic went out of control when she learned he had escaped and he was too busy running away to notice how dangerous this was for his family.
    • Him being on the run means that he couldn't visit his parents' altar on Dia de Los Muertos that year.
    • He gains a storm motif after he gains powers from the Well of Crystals... and a storm is what killed his parents.
  • I've Come Too Far: He finally understands in "Dreamcatcher" that his family will never take him back because what he's done is irredeemable, leading to him making a genuine Face–Heel Turn. He has nothing left to lose.
  • Jaded Washout: Played with. Esteban has a much higher station in life than is the norm for this trope, but in all other aspects he feels like a washout. Despite doing so much good for Avalor during Shuriki's reign, 41 years of his life was still thrown away in her service with his family gone, and after that, he's still rather cynical regarding his current situation. There are times he spends longing for the days he could pursue his own dreams as shown in "Island of Youth", not to mention beating himself up over helping Shuriki and betraying his family and people.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Elena does have a lot to learn about being a leader and acting in the best interests of her country. Of course, even he ends up making impulsive decisions himself, especially during "Finders Leapers".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his ego and occasional plotting against the princess, he does care about his country and his family. Just because he doesn't like that Elena's in charge doesn't mean he wants any harm to come to her. In fact, he will do anything to make sure Elena doesn't die on his watch.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • In "Finders Leapers”, he dismisses Naomi as a commoner with nothing special to her name. It ends up taking a hit on her self-esteem.
    • In "My Fair Naomi", when Elena, Mateo, and Gabe quit Naomi's quinceanera out of frustration with her Acquired Situational Narcissism, he encourages her to ditch them.
    • In "The Magic Within", he emotionally manipulates Higgins into bringing him his small sunbird statue because it was supposedly a gift from his mama. It actually contains a key, and he gets Higgins to go away by asking him to get him his papa's pocket watch. Using your parents to guilt-trip your former friends, now, Esteban?
  • Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition: He gains a thunderstorm motif while Ash is associated with fire. Played with in that neither of them have powers associated with their motif.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Having lost his parents at a young age, he and Elena might as well have been raised together like siblings. Even after the 41-year Time Skip in which he's in his late fifties or early sixties while Elena has stayed a sixteen year-old, they still act like brother and sister, bickering and all. Likewise with Isabel, but with less bickering. Elena even explicitly tells him this in "The Magic Within" while giving him hell for his betrayal.
  • Long List: The tasks he gives to Elena are usually of this amount. Elena also finds that he has this amount of work too when she has to do his tasks after he goes rogue. Armando then comments that that day was a slow day.
  • Magic Knight: Played with in that while he does have swordsmanship skills, he never uses them after he becomes magical.
  • Manchild: After taking a level in jerkass, he shows a surprisingly amount of immaturity for someone who's old enough to be a grandfather. Given his issues, this could be a result of him being Not So Above It All and that he Never Grew Up.
  • Meaningful Name: "Esteban" means "crowned in victory". Doubles as an Ironic Name, because he's Always Second Best.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal:
    • He betrayed his family because he naively felt he was unloved, not realizing until he lost them that he was sorely mistaken.
    • Deconstructed. When his secret is revealed combined with his betraying the family again to avoid their wrath, it's made clear that it's his own fault for getting kicked out of his family and that his family has every right to be upset with him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Helping Shuriki taking over Avalor, because it got his aunt and uncle killed and his cousins & grandparents sealed away, along with condemning everyone to a terrible life for 41 years.
  • My Greatest Failure: He deeply regrets aiding Shuriki in her takeover of Avalor, since it cost him almost everything, including his family, and left him spending 41 years as Shuriki's minion.

  • The Needs of the Many: Esteban doesn't doubt Elena can defeat Shuriki again, but he discourages Elena from pursuing her, arguing that Shuriki is more dangerous than ever, and the risk of Elena losing is too great that it would incur a grave cost; if something does happen to Elena, then all of Avalor's remaining hope will die.
  • Never My Fault: Esteban has a very bad habit of not taking responsibility for his actions:
    • His refusal to follow instructions throughout "Finders Leapers" leads to the escalation of the situation and he continuously puts the blame on Naomi for being a simple commoner. Elena and Professor Mendoza call him out on it. Although he does have a Heel Realization, it's mostly him coming to respect Naomi as an equal as opposed to learning to take responsibility for his actions.
    • In "King of the Carnaval", Victor calls him out on doing nothing while Shuriki exiled him and his family. When Esteban claims that he had no choice because he feared things would have gotten worse if he had intervened, Victor counters that he always had a choice. Throughout the episode, Victor has leverage over Esteban by threatening to reveal the truth to his family, which he eventually reveals. By that point, it seems that Esteban is ready to accept the blow... but fortunately for him, Elena doesn't believe it and believes Esteban only served Shuriki to survive, which Esteban goes with.
    • In "The Incredible Shrinking Royals", Esteban and Paloma attempt to sabotage Julio's Feast of Friendship by inviting King Hector, which leads to things getting From Bad to Worse. As this happens, the two argue over whose fault it was for things turning out this way, which Elena overhears. Naturally, she doesn't take it well and is still angry with her cousin in the following episode, even though he does actually take responsibility this time and is apologetic about his actions.
    • Then comes "The Magic Within", where Esteban's secret is finally revealed. While he does say he wants to make up for what he did, his actions say otherwise. In subsequent episodes, he's essentially told that it's too late to fix what he's done and there is nothing he can do to redeem himself, which pushes him further into refusing to take up ownership of his wrongdoings.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • He's the reason why Shuriki managed to take over Avalor in the first place — he made a deal with her that would've placed him in a position of high power, and he would've helped her as long as he didn't harm him family. Shuriki didn't come through with the last part.
    • He's responsible for most of Season 3's major problems, as him choosing to break out of prison as opposed to accepting his punishment results in Ash getting free again when Elena had just captured her, which not only digs himself deeper, will eventually result in Ash assembling a villainous alliance against Elena. And so far, this has gotten Alacazar killed, Chatana being freed from her prison, and Naomi's resignation from the Grand Council (although Esteban's actions were only one reason among others why Naomi left, in fairness).
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Despite being Shuriki's lapdog, he was the only moral person around to make her reign more bearable for others.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: He's partly accepted that his family will never take him back after they learn of his crimes and him breaking out of prison to ally himself with Ash.
  • Not So Above It All: In "Olaball", he gets surprisingly pumped up for the big match, even painting his face in the Avaloran team's colors.
  • Not So Different: He has this with Naomi in "Finders Leapers" in that they both had something to prove; While Naomi was trying to prove her worth, Esteban was trying to prove his superiority to her.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Whenever his past or his aunt and uncle's deaths are brought up.
  • Older Than They Look: He looks like he might be in his thirties or forties. He's in his late fifties/early sixties. More obvious in "Elena and the Secret of Avalor", where he has grey hairs.
  • One of the Kids: Instead of acting more like other adults in the series, he's prone to moments of immaturity and youthful mistakes. Possibly a case of Never Grew Up, considering he lost his parental figures and similarly-aged companions in his late teens/early adulthood while also taking on more duties to perform for Shuriki, so he likely did not have anyone to look up to or share his problems with.
  • Parents as People: In "Three Jaquins and a Princess", he yells at Isabel to get out of the kitchen after she makes a mess with her invention, saying that she is a child and she shouldn't be playing with toys in the kitchen. He later feels bad about it and helps her with her invention at the end of the episode.
  • Picky Eater: Mentioned to have been one as a kid in "Island of Youth", so using a "here comes the jaquin" was necessary to feed him.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Repeatedly pleads with Elena not to take him away and not to push him away. He gets the message when Elena explicitly tells him that he is not her family and that he has no home to return to.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: After Elena emotionally vents at him for everything he's done to hurt her and her family, he asks her if there's anything he can do to right his wrongs. She answers no, there isn't.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Gives off a lot of classist vibes in "Finders Leapers," telling Naomi point-blank that he views himself better and more qualified than her, despite Naomi being on the Grand Council, because he's a royal and she's just a commoner with no honors or degrees. It's to this end that Esteban is ignorant of his own ignorance.
  • Power Incontinence: He has trouble using his teleportation magic at first, almost causing him and Ash to get caught by Elena and the guards multiple times.
  • Pride: Esteban has an incredibly fragile ego, that he'd go through great lengths to defend it. It becomes a plot point in "My Fair Naomi", when Doña Paloma makes an assertion regarding Naomi having a "quinceñera plus one" that he took it as a challenge to his reputation. As a result, he was under a huge amount of stress to mentor Naomi and ensure she doesn't make a fool of herself in her party, because he'd absolutely hate it if he proved Doña Paloma right.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Downplayed. He constantly tries to suck up to Shuriki whenever she's around. In the end, he realizes that sucking up won't do good anymore once Shuriki senses his loyalty is wavering.
  • Promoted to Parent: Downplayed towards Isabel. Now that Esteban is an older man rather than as old as Elena, he acts this way towards Isabel sometimes, such as when he yells at Isabel for making a mess in the kitchen with her invention. Other times, he acts like a Big Brother Mentor to her, and he and Isabel usually looks to their grandparents for parental guidance. Even his voice actor views Esteban as something of a fatherly figure towards Isabel now that he's become much older than her.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Inverted. The third intro, starting with "The Magic Within", replaces the "With her family by her side" scene where he rolls his eyes at his family playing and dancing with just them (and Flo) celebrating Carnaval later in that episode, while he's missing from the group shot at the end of the intro sequence. Counts as a Spoiler Opening, as it foreshadows that he won't be with the heroes for long.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Nothing ever gets past him. The moment something is wrong, he will notice, like in "Sister Time" when Elena attempted to juggle spending time with Isa and the meeting with King Toshi at the same time.
    • He has a cell key hidden in his small sunbird statue in his room, which he would have requested the guards to bring to him if Shuriki ever turned against him. It comes in handy in the present, where he asks Higgins to get it for him before he can be exiled.
  • Psychotic Smirk: His grin has always been of the smug kind and sometimes of the charming kind, but it takes on a new layer after his Face–Heel Turn in Season 3.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He wasn't a fan of Shuriki, though he did help her invade Avalor because he was promised power, only for Shuriki to harm his family. With the loss of his family, the position granted to him by Shuriki was all he had to live for. Since then, Esteban saw no reason to fight against Shuriki as he believed it was a losing battle. Whenever he was around Shuriki, he tended to be nervous around her, and it becomes raw terror anytime she reminds him of what she did to his aunt and uncle, and how she can do the same to him.
  • The Quisling: Despite Shuriki killing his aunt and uncle (and as far as he knew, his cousins and grandparents) even after she said she wouldn't if he helped her, Esteban continued to work for her for the next four decades. Justified, as he believed it was hopeless to fight against such a powerful sorceress (especially since she killed his family), and he used his position in the mean time to keep Avalor safe from her reign. Though he clearly did enjoy having power while working for Shuriki, as he has an Oh, Crap! when Elena, a reminder of his sins, returns.
  • Raised by Grandparents: He was raised by Luisa and Francisco since his parents died while he was still young.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Spending four decades performing royal duties in place of his ruler has led to him still being a bit of a Control Freak and being annoyed whenever his advice is ignored when Elena is put in charge.
    • After having told Elena that he's become So Proud of You for having grown into a capable ruler, she's a lot more upset than usual after he goes behind her back to sabotage Julio's feast, partly because this means he doesn't really trust her that much to trust other people.
    • Despite the name, Freudian Excuse is a reason, not an excuse. Which he learns the hard way when he tries to use it to weasel his way out of a sentence when the Royal Council tries him for his crimes.
  • Red Is Heroic: His suit while he isn't working under Shuriki is red. Sometimes, it's yellow. Subverted when he wears his red suit while he has his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Regent for Life: Doesn't think Elena is ready to rule yet and wants more say in her decisions until she becomes queen.
  • Rejected Apology: No matter how genuinely apologetic he may be, no one except for Abuelo buys it and assume he's manipulating them. They're not entirely wrong, but Esteban does mean it. Elena eventually finds a saner head, but still won't forgive him because there's nothing he can do that can undo his mistakes.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • He willingly helped Shuriki take over Avalor in exchange for a high ranking position. Shuriki gave him the power he wanted when she took over, but not before killing Elena's parents, trying to do the same to Elena herself, and having Esteban's friend, Victor Delgado, and his entire family banished from the kingdom, ensuring that at every waking moment, Esteban would be tormented by the guilt of losing everyone he ever cared for.
    • When his betrayal is exposed, he's disowned by his family and is viewed with nothing but contempt by everyone else. He then gets sentenced to banishment on a Deserted Island (which was mercy compared to being left in the dungeons for the rest of his life)... which he then avoids by breaking out of prison and running away with the Delgados. Elena is even willing to use lethal force on him if things get out of hand, which happens rather easily.
  • Retired Badass: He was athletic in his youth, but nowadays, he's not as good as he used to be. In "King of the Carnaval", he does manage to avoid all of the traps rather stylishly (he designed them after all), and in "Shapeshifters", he throws a sword into the air and catches it, so he's not entirely too rusty. Him becoming magical and needing to defend himself in Season 3 forces him out of retirement.
  • The Rival: With Doña Paloma.
  • Run for the Border: He intended on fleeing Avalor to escape his prosecution. Ash points out that he might as well just turn himself in because he can't defend himself.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Esteban embodies this trope in all flavors, often being deadpan and brutally honest about his own disagreement with how Elena handles things. Other times, he will troll her to make his point.
  • The Smart Guy: Was picked for the Grand Council for his vast knowledge of the kingdom and its politics. However, his knowledge in other fields, such as archaeology, is very limited.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Victor tells Elena Esteban was willingly involved with Shuriki's invasion, Esteban was about to elaborate and confirm, she assumes Victor is lying. Elena then remarks that Esteban would never do anything to hurt their family. In response to that, Esteban plays along with Elena's assumption, because that part technically was true.
  • Teleportation: He falls into the Well of Crystals and gains teleportation magic, which he can use by tapping his magic staff on the ground.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: He falls past the Despair Event Horizon and accepts his Face–Heel Turn when Elena tells him the Awful Truth: there is nothing he can do to get her to forgive him and he has no family or home to come back to. After returning to Ash and Zopilote, he hardens his heart and asks them to continue training him.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: How family and friends/allies minus his abuelo react to him hiding his secret that he sold out Avalor to Shuriki, resulting in the deaths of King Raul and Queen Lucia followed by four long decades of misery under a false regime.
  • Tempting Fate: In the Season 2 finale, he tells Elena that he's become So Proud of You and has faith that she'll become a good ruler one day. Then a few episodes later... she makes the Sadistic Choice of exiling him as his sentence for betraying his family and kingdom, and him deciding to run away before it can happen ends up assuring her that she's made the right choice. What's right isn't always easy.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In the pilot episode, he seems to be enjoying being Shuriki's second-in-command, as she's essentially hands-off with her rule and leaves the royal duties to him. He seems to be rather cheerful and reasonable up until Elena returns, to which he realizes that his past sins and subsequent guilt are coming back. Though ultimately pulls through for Elena and is very happy to have his family back with Shuriki finally gone, he's later irritated with Elena's lack of discipline and experience, feeling that he would do a better job at ruling than her.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: To Naomi in "My Fair Naomi". He encourages her to embrace a snobby, perfectionist attitude about the preparations for her quinceanera and he ends up stealing the reins from Elena as The Mentor. Though he does genuinely mean part of it, he's mainly doing this to prove to Dona Paloma that he can whip up Naomi into a proper lady in a day. Naomi comes to her senses at the end, although she just calmly tells Esteban that she's not keeping it up any longer instead of snapping at him.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tres leches.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Detail-oriented viewers may notice that both Esteban and Queen Lucia (in one of her portraits) have a blue-and-yellow sash, which implies this. He loses it after he falls into the Well of Crystals, which may or may not mean something.
  • Tragic Mistake: Taking up Shuriki's offer ended up being this, ultimately leading to Elena's parents being killed, and Avalor suffering Shuriki's tyranny. Especially once it became known, it left Esteban with no chance of going back to his family.
  • Trapped in Villainy: After his secret is exposed, all he really wants to do is leave Avalor and live in peace, but Ash, Zopilote, and Elena herself keep pulling him back in. Then, Ash convinces Esteban that he will never have any peace of mind until Elena is defeated.
  • Trickster Mentor: Esteban pulls this card on Elena in "Model Sister" by making her unprepared as a way of testing her to see if she can handle a real challenge in her first official duty. That, and because he thought it would be amusing to see her crash and burn, and because he wanted an excuse to show off his own knowledge of Satu culture.
  • The Un-Hug: After he saves Elena over a chance at being young again in "Island of Youth", she hugs him. He's surprised and awkwardly glances around before gently placing his arms around her. They end up snuggling together shortly after, though.
  • Unperson:
    • The third intro starting in "The Magic Within" removes him from the "With her family by her side" scene (instead replaced with a scene from the same episode of Elena, Isabel, and their abuelos) and the group shot, reflecting that he is now a fugitive and has been disowned by his family.
    • In "Dreamcatcher", Elena aimed to make him this because anything about it would set off her Berserk Button. The lesson she learns in the episode is that it's okay to talk about him and remember the good times with him, but for the Esteban she sees after the fact, she's still lost her love and faith in him forever.
  • Walking Spoiler:
    • It's hard to talk about him without bringing up that Season 1 revealed he secretly willingly helped Shuriki take over Avalor in his youth and that he was her servant up until Elena returned.
    • It's also very hard to talk about him in Season 3 without bringing up his estrangement from his family once his alliance with Shuriki is revealed, that he has a Face–Heel Turn, and becomes an evil sorcerer.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: He's had a good 41 years to think about how helping Shuriki in exchange for a high position definitely did not improve anyone's lives besides hers. It was up to him to improve the lives of others.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In the pilot, Armando calls him out on not helping Elena take back Avalor from Shuriki, to which Esteban argued that doing so would be hopeless. He comes around.
    • In "King of the Carnaval", Victor calls him out on letting Shuriki banish him and his family.
    • Elena is furious and gives him the cold shoulder after learning that he and Doña Paloma tried to sabotage Julio's Feast of Friendship.
    • Everyone gives him hell in "The Magic Within" after they learn of his betrayal.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • With Victor. After his past betrayal is revealed to his family, Victor no doubt hates him even more than ever, feeling Esteban got what he deserved. In fact, Victor wastes no time deciding to betray Esteban after he got their tamboritas back.
    • The reveal of his betrayal in "The Magic Within" kills all of his relationships with the main four including his abuela and Higgins. His abuelo is more open to his redemption, but that's about it.
  • Weapon Twirling: Does this with his staff.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Downplayed. In Elena and the Secret of Avalor, he reluctantly orders his men to destroy a little boy's flute on Shuriki's orders when the boy plays it at the arrival of the Enchancian Royal Family. Considering what might have happened otherwise, this was probably the best decision Esteban could have made at the time.
    • In "Giant Steps", when he and the rest of Team Ash are seen entering Vallestrella by passing jaquin cubs, he suggests that they go after them before they warn the king. Ash says to let them go because even if they're not gone by the time the jaquins go after them, they'll have the powerful Kizin by their side.
  • You Can't Go Home Again:
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: And to no one's surprise, this is never held up by the other party.
    • He agreed to helping Shuriki take over Avalor in exchange for power under the pretense that she wouldn't hurt his family. And of course, the first thing she does is kill his aunt, uncle, and seemingly Elena, and then indirectly force Isabel and his abuelos into an unbreakable painting for the next several decades.
    • While on the run with Ash, he's upset when she attacks Elena and co. because he had made her promise not to hurt them, but she obviously has no intention on holding this up.
  • Younger Than They Look: He looks like he's in his thirties or forties, but he's actually pushing sixty. Apparently, he owes his youthful appearance to exfoliation. He has gray hairs in "Elena and the Secret of Avalor", which are mostly gone or difficult to see in the actual show.

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