Cinderella is living her happily ever after with her friends and her prince, while her despicable stepfamily have fallen on hard times. But then Lady Tremaine gets ahold of the Fairy Godmother's magic wand. She uses it to turn back time to the day the Grand Duke arrives with the slipper and has it pan out perfectly—for her.
Suddenly, Cinderella doesn't escape the tower in time, the shoe fits her stepsister Anastasia, and Prince Charming is brainwashed to think she's the one he danced with. Now Cinderella has to fight for her happy ending, or she might lose it forever. Not to mention, Anastasia finds herself swept in her mother's plans, and marrying a man who doesn't really love her soon becomes a wake-up call...
Cinderella III stands as the last full-length DTV DAC sequel released before Walt Disney Animation Studios CCO John Lasseter's ban on DTV sequels and prequels took effect,* .
The film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Parents: Lady Tremaine. Not only with her stepdaughter but her own biological daughters as well - she's the one to blame for Drizella and Anastasia being jerks, and she emotionally/mentally abuses Anastasia when she begins to question her.
- Agony of the Feet: Anastasia attempt at dancing results in her doing a number on Charming's feet.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Lucifer (the cat) sniffs and acts like a bloodhound.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Cinderella's opening narration.
- Apologetic Attacker: When Anastasia accidentally turns the Fairy Godmother into a stone statue with the magic wand, her immediate reaction is to ask if she's OK before panicking and starting to apologize, having not wanted to actually hurt her.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Cinderella gives two to Anastasia, who's teetering on the brink of a HeelFace Turn, when she discovers Lady Tremaine's plot to have her marry the Prince while magically disguised as a false Cinderella.Cinderella: What have you done? The prince won't be fooled.
Lady Tremaine: The prince will never know. He'll be perfectly happy.
Cinderella: But will you, Anastasia? Will you be happy?
Anastasia: I...I want what you had.
Cinderella: But...do you even love him?
- Ascended Extra: Prince Charming. In the first film, he's onscreen for less than ten minutes, and his only dialogue is with Cinderella. He wasn't even the one who went around getting girls to try on the slipper. In this, he plays a major role and gets an actual personality, which is actually quite... well, charming.
- Award-Bait Song: "I Still Believe", sung by Hayden Panettiere.
- Badass Adorable: Cinderella becomes this.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Turns out even a Disney Princess has her limits. Lucifer learns this the hard way when Cinderella sends him crashing off of the pumpkin carriage into the lake.Cinderella: Bad kitty!
- Big "NO!": Lady Tremaine when her magic gets deflected back at her.
- Book-Ends: The end credits bring Cinderella's trilogy full circle, by reusing the font from the first movie's opening credits.
- Brainwashed: Lady Tremaine uses the wand to do this to Prince Charming, when she realizes he wants to marry the girl that wore the slipper that night, not just any girl that fits it.
- Character Development: Anastasia gets not only the spotlight, but focus on her thoughts and her actually quite complicated relationship with Lady Tremaine.
- Chekhov's Gun: Metal reflecting the wand's magic.
- Chekhov's Skill: Early in the movie, the Prince demonstrates surprising gymnastic talent while training with his father. He later uses those same abilities to rescue Cinderella from the ship she's been thrown on for her banishment.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bruno the faithful dog, Major the loyal horse, and all the mice except for Jaq and Gus are completely absent from this film, which is rather odd.
- Church of Saint Genericus: The minister at the wedding ceremony doesn't wear any religious symbols, and omits the word "holy" before "matrimony" when beginning the service.
- Close-Enough Timeline: Fairy Godmother offers to restore the original timeline, but then decides to not bother as everything turned out fine anyway.
- Clothing Damage: When Cinderella is is transported inside the demonic pumpkin carriage, her dress is somehow all torn up and she's now barefoot.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: When Fairy Godmother, Cinderella, and Anastasia use the wand, the magical sparkles are white; it's only when Drizella and Lady Tremaine use it that the energy becomes a rather sickly shade of green. The sparkles being white for Anastasia also hints at her true nature.
- The Comically Serious: Lady Tremaine had a couple moments of this in the first film, but it's on full display in this one, mainly due to the fact that her only knowledge of how the wand works comes from what Anastasia happened to see, which means that for the vast majority of the movie, while she works earth-shattering levels of dark magic with a level of spite and cruelty that would make Maleficent blush...she still has to trigger all her spells by saying "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo". Other highlights include stopping Anastasia upside-down during her squee-fest after fitting the slipper, and angrily stopping Drizella from using the wand frivolously on herself.
- Continuity Nod:
- As with Dreams Come True, we see Anastasia grow out of her bratty behavior.
- During a discussion with the Duke, Lady Tremaine says Drizella will be singing in the ceremony. The Duke worries that that might not be a good idea.
- Conspicuous CG: Some wedding bells and the pumpkin carriage.
- Cool Horse: Prince Charming's steed races for miles, jumps over spears, and runs up lighthouse steps. He draws the line at jumping onto ships from lighthouses, though.
- Cosmic Retcon: Due to the course of the first movie being changed through time travel, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True is presumably retconned out of existence (though some characters from it still exist in the new continuity, such as Prudence and Anastasia's love interest). Though even then, it's implied that the events of II weren't even canon to begin with since Anastasia is still longing for true love when we first see her and Drizella.
- Creative Closing Credits: The credits show paintings of the characters in different styles (e.g., the Grand Duke in the style of The Scream, Cinderella and Prince Charming as silhouetted profiles). This occasionally doubles as a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. There's a Stinger in the middle, too.
- Dark Reprise: "More Than a Dream" returns in a rather sad manner as Cinderella is getting on the ship leaving the kingdom.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Decon-Recon Switch: This film takes many of the tropes from the original film and plays with them. While many tropes are deconstructed and questioned (The Girl Who Fits This Slipper and Love at First Sight), it still maintains many of the original tropes, while adding a touch of realism to them (the prince doesn't just fall for the first girl who can wear the slipper, he wonders if she's truly the one he fell in love with).
- Demoted to Extra: After playing a prominent role in Dreams Come True, Prudence is reduced to just playing the role of Obstructive Bureaucrat.
- Don't Look Down: Or in this case, up. Prince Charming says this to his horse as they're racing to beat a lowering portcullis gate.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The whole point of the film is Cindy regaining the happy ending that she's being denied, and Anastasia realising that she also should start working on getting one of her own.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Tremaine spent decades as one of the few Disney villains not to not wield any kind of evil sorcery, curses, poisons, etc. So this movie gives her the nigh-omnipotent power of the Fairy Godmother. And she puts it to very good use.
- Establishing Character Moment: Subtly. In the first song, Drizella and Anastasia are both bemoaning their fate. Drizella complains about not being able to go to the ball and having to do chores. Anastasia simply wonders why she couldn't get her happy ending like Cinderella did, and wonders if there's a prince out there for her.
- Evil Is Petty: Tremaine tries to screw over Cinderella's life (and even outright attempts to murder her) with her ill-gotten power for no real reason other than petty jealousy and to "restore the status quo" (at least in her view).
- Evil Redhead: Inverted. Anastasia, who was a Rich Bitch in the original movie, is now less evil and more like a "Well Done, Son!" Guy.
- Exact Words/Loophole Abuse:
The King: I forbid you to take another step down those stairs!
- The prince invokes this on his father midway through the movie.
Prince Charming: Okay. [jumps out the window]
- A more metaphoric example: throughout the whole movie, Anastasia keeps dreaming of finding someone who loves her. While she doesn't marry the Prince, she does realize that Cinderella and the King genuinely care about her and want her to be happy, unlike Lady Tremaine and Drizella. So she did find people who love her—just Like Brother and Sister rather than romantically. And the credits indicate that she'll eventually get that, too, as she did in Dreams Come True.
- Extremely Short Timespan: With the exception of the opening scene, the whole movie is over by the end of the day Lady Tremaine resets time back to.
- Feet-First Introduction: Cinderella has one when she runs down a staircase in her bare feet.
- Foreshadowing: With Anastasia, she has several of these moments.
- The first is in her Establishing Character Moment.
- When Anastasia turns the fairy godmother to stone, she is outright horrified at what she did and starts apologizing. This foreshadows that She actually isn't even that bad - at the very least she had standards.
- The wand's magic turns green when Lady Tremaine gets her hands on it, as does Drizella, but when Anastasia uses it, the magic remains white. This is another hint towards her change of heart.
- For Want of a Nail:
- If Lady Tremaine had taken the time to deal with Cinderella's oh so useful animal friends, she would have won.
- Discussed a little earlier when after Anastasia starts having second thoughts about her mother's plan, Drizella says perhaps she should have been the one to put on the slipper instead. While that would have certainly ironed out several of the wrinkles Lady Tremaine encounters, given the "able to tell true love by holding hands" plot point, whether it would have been enough to fool Prince Charming (or at least keep him from getting too suspicious) is less clear.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: The twisted pumpkin carriage ride is Tremaine's evil mockery of Cinderella's original magic carriage. One has to wonder how she knew about it, though.
- Gaslighting: Lady Tremaine engages in this with both Cinderella and the Duke.Tremaine: You [Cinderella] may have danced with him. You may even have thought it was love. But the slipper fits Anastasia, and that's who he's marrying. Whatever you think happened last night was a dream.
Tremaine: Dispose of those roses at once. Anastasia's health is quite—[Anastasia sneezes and blows all the petals off a bouquet she was smelling] ...delicate. I'm quite sure I mentioned that to you.
Duke: Madame, I do not--
Tremaine: Quite sure.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Anastasia suffers this. She realizes it's wrong and grows out of it, though.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Averted; they're competent at their jobs and successfully catch Cinderella before she can undo the spell.
- HeelFace Turn: Anastasia.
- Hoist by Her Own Petard: At the end of the film, Lady Tremaine's use of Fairy Godmother's wand turns against her after Prince Charming intervenes from using magic on Cinderella. After that, Lady Tremaine and Drizella transform into frogs. Eventually, they return to human form and work as maids.
- Holding Hands: It's a plot point; this is how you tell you love each other.
- Humiliation Conga: Lady Tremaine and Drizella. The only punishment they get, but considering it ends with them both getting turned into frogs due to a magical backfire, and then maids, it's good enough.
- Hypnotize the Prince: Lady Tremaine brainwashes Prince Charming to marry Anastasia.
- I Broke a Nail: Drizella sings a line about this when cleaning dishes.
- I Choose to Stay: At the end of the film, Fairy Godmother offers to return things to how they were in the original timeline, but both Cinderella and Charming reject it in favor of the new one.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Anastasia. At first she thinks she'll be happy with the prince's love, but then she realizes that she wants someone who loves her for who she really is, not because they're under a spell. She also craves for her mother's approval and love, which explains a lot about how she went with Tremaine's plan anyway
- Jabba Table Manners: Drizella "sampling" the party food. Lampshaded by Anastasia.Anastasia: What a pig!
- Letting the Air Out of the Band: The triumphant fanfare playing for Prince Charming as he meets Anastasia dies when he lays eyes on her.
- Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: The former plays briefly when the Grand Duke reveals the banquet cooked for the wedding, and the latter plays during the wedding proper.
- The Lost Lenore: The Queen is dead by the time, but her memories still have a big influence on her husband the King.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Lady Tremaine's evil plot.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Minor example. After Anastasia accidentally petrifies the fairy godmother, she is shocked that it happened and starts apologizing.
- Nice Guy: Turns out Prince Charming lives up to his name rather well.
- Oh, Crap!: Lady Tremaine and Drizella when the former's magic gets deflected right back at them.
- Our Time Travel Is Different: The time-reversing sequence combines Videocassette Time Travel and Wormhole Time Travel. It starts with Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella standing in their garden while the sun and the moon set and rise in reverse a few times. Next, they get surrounded by green smoke, and visions of Cinderella going through her marriage to Prince Charming backwards. Anastasia and Drizella also see their magic pull Cinderella and Prince Charming away from each other, until she gets locked back up in the chateau tower, followed by themselves curtsying backwards for the Grand Duke. When Lady Tremaine and her daughters finally end up back on the day the Grand Duke came to try the slipper on Cinderella, they find themselves inside their foyer instead of in their garden.
- Plot-Induced Illness: Anastasia is shown to be allergic to roses in this movie, something not mentioned anywhere else.
- Plucky Girl: Cinderella. Now that magic is being used against her, she decides to fight back...
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Both the King and Prince Charming, though the King does show a hint of his Caligula-ness from the original film after they witness the aftermath of the stepsisters' food fight. Charming especially is shockingly accepting of talking mice telling him that a magic spell is the reason why he can't remember dancing with Cinderella.
- Rebel Prince: Once Charming decides to do something, there's absolutely nothing his father can do to stop him.
- Recycled Premise: Years before A Twist in Time, a play called Twice Charmed performed to passengers of the Disney Magic cruise ship, featured Cinderella's stepfamily using time travel to try and take Prince Charming away from her. The two stories don't have much else in common, though. (eg, Lady Tremaine in Twice Charmed has a Fairy Godfather to help her perform evil.)
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Lady Tremaine, Drizella, Anastasia, and the Fairy Godmother are the only ones who remember what happened in the original timeline.
- Room Disservice: A variation; Cinderella pretends to be a maid to get into her stepmother's room.
- Scenery Porn: The background designers did an admirable job adapting Mary Blair* 's penchant for massive, stylized backdrops and props to widescreen. Extra kudos for those who had to design new environments, such as the wedding chapel◊, with similar aesthetics.
- Shoe Size Angst: After going back to the day that Cinderella was fitted with the glass slipper, Anastasia is clearly distressed when she has to stick out her huge foot to try it on.
- Shout-Out: During "Much More than a Dream", Cinderella is spinning in a hill, in rags, singing about climbing the mountains. Sounds familiar?
- Sickly Green Glow: The Fairy Godmother's wand normally emits white sparkles when used, but here, its magic changes to this color when under the control of Lady Tremaine or Drizella.
- Silent Snarker: Charming's steed. Just check out the faces he makes after barely making it past the portcullis and when he stops short and accidentally launches his rider out a lighthouse window.
- Standard Snippet: In addition to Lohengrin and Mendelssohn, Anastasia and the Prince dance to Johann Strauss II's On the Beautiful Blue Danube.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Cinderella and the Prince until almost the end.
- The Stinger: A clip interrupting the end credits shows Lady Tremaine and Drizella punished to a life of servitude not unlike that they made Cinderella go through.
- Stopped Numbering Sequels: In some countries, Cinderella III had no number 3 on the cover.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: When the Prince walks in and finds Anastasia instead of Cinderella, he asks if he's in the right room. Later when the King enters the dining room with the Prince and sees the mess Anastasia and Drizella made, he asks if they're in the right room.
- Take a Third Option: Parodied. When the King tries to keep the Prince from leaving the castle without authorization, the Prince either has to push his dad aside or stay put. What he chooses is... jumping off a balcony and escaping. The scene has reached Memetic Mutation levels on Tumblr.
- Taken for Granite: Anastasia accidentally does this to the Fairy Godmother when they fight over the wand. Surprisingly, reversing time doesn't turn the Godmother back to normal. After Cinderella, with help from Anastasia, undoes this spell following Tremaine's defeat, the Godmother exclaims that she feels stiff, and takes time to loosen up her joints.
- The Power of Love: Lampshaded by Anastasia partway through, when the Prince realizes the deception:The magic didn't work! It wasn't as powerful as their -
- Throw the Dog a Bone: The first painting shown during the end credits of assures viewers that Anastasia did eventually get her own boyfriend after redeeming herself.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- The Prince. Guess he's been taking lessons from both Prince Eric of The Little Mermaid and Spider-Man. The three are voiced by the same guy, after all...
- Cinderella does a backflip out of a demonic carriage, and rides horseback to crash her own wedding. That is quite a level up in badassery considering the coolest thing she did in the first movie was go to a party.
- Took a Level in Jerkass:
- Lady Tremaine. She is worse than the original movie. She poofs Cinderella in a twisted pumpkin carriage with Lucifer as its human driver, and attempts to get Lucifer to kill Cinderella. Especially heinous because up until that point she was satisfied with just making Cinderella's life a living hell. She also has Anastasia posing as Cinderella to fool the prince. If anyone doesn't know, this is rape by deception... and for worse, she tries to use one of her own flesh and blood daughters for such shit, and right when Anastasia is becoming more and more sympathetic.
- Drizella is also at her worst here, becoming a big Deadpan Snarker towards her sister's shortcomings, and even suggesting to Tremaine that she beat Anastasia early on.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Anastasia. While in Cinderella II she is already nice, it's in this movie that she makes the first step.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: The movie revealed Prince Charming's mother, who was quite beautiful, while the king still looked the same.
- Villainous Breakdown: Lady Tremaine really starts to lose her cool when Anastasia rejects Prince Charming and she resorts to turning the guards into animals before pointing the wand at Anastasia.
- Voices Are Mental: When Lady Tremaine turns Anastasia into a Cinderella clone, viewers hear the clone speak with Anastasia's voice.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Anastasia's Freudian Excuse in the sequels.
- What If?: The original ad campaign advertised the movie as taking this approach to Cinderella.
- Why Waste a Wedding?: The disguised Anastasia saying, "I don't" and Cinderella crashing the royal wedding ruin what was to be the wedding between Charming and a fake Cinderella. Once her stepmother is defeated, Anastasia reverses her disguise in redemption and the real Cinderella takes her place.
- Xenafication: Cinderella. It's actually more true to what she was originally meant to be.
- You Remind Me of X: Anastasia's dreadful dancing reminds the King of his late wife.