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Gratuitous Princess

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Little girls love princesses. Writers put princesses (not queens, duchesses, countesses, or milkmaids) just about everywhere, even if it isn't needed for the plot and might not make a whole lot of sense for the setting. There's just something glamorous, magical, and fantastic about them that causes them to be included regardless.

Some common ways this occurs:

  • A character who wasn't a princess in the original story is made one in an adaptation or marketing, often with a Girliness Upgrade.
  • Characters are given princess titles in a setting that doesn't call for it. The work could be set in High School (a Royal School), outer space, or a culture that doesn't have princesses, but they'll be there anyway. Often this involves making The Chief's Daughter a princess, or having the character be a princess In Name Only, with no royal responsibilies or obligations.
  • A work has a very large number of characters who are princesses.note 

Super-Trope to Princesses Rule and Save the Princess, where a character who could be a queen, or just any Damsel in Distress is made a princess. Subtrope of Garnishing the Story. Often overlaps with The Outsider Befriends the Best as well.

In works with The Smurfette Principle in play, the Token Girl is often a princess to appeal to the princess-loving female Periphery Demographic.

See also Dragons Prefer Princesses, Gratuitous Ninja, Honorary Princess, Kid-Appeal Character, Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot, and Princess Protagonist.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hello! Sandybell has Princess Catherine. The nation she's from, Romanek, is never expanded upon or mentioned more than once, and she returns there after appearing in only two episodes.
  • Little Witch Academia (2017): Vajarois the Grieving started out as a cheerful girl from a royal family, and reverts to her appearance in life once the curse is broken. As her main purpose in the story is to be a scary ghost, there's no real reason for her to be a princess as well.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch: Each ocean on earth is ruled by a mermaid princess — the protagonist, Lucia, is princess of the North Pacific Ocean, and has to recruit the other oceans' mermaid princesses. The status of "princess" itself is fairly irrelevant, as the girls aren't seen doing much ruling.
  • Sailor Moon: The Nine Sailor Senshi are all the Princesses of their respective planets, even though the Solar System is gathered under the two kingdoms of the Earth and Moon, and the other planets' princesses' jobs are to guard the Moon Kingdom Princess.
  • As the manga title Six Princesses Fall in Love With God Guardian implies, all the female love interests of the MC are princesses from different empires.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): There's more princesses in Sonic's world than you can shake a stick at.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In the late Golden Age and early Silver Age stories most of the one shot allies and friends from other planets, planes and countries Diana meets are other princesses. Some of them even got recurring appearances.
    • Wonder Woman and the Star Riders is murky on all the characters' backstory due to its truncated nature but in addition to Diana being a princess as always Dolphine, Ice and Solara also wear tiaras indicating themselves to be princesses meaning that out of the five Star Riders only one isn't presented as a princess.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses features not two but twelve princesses, all of whom sleep in the same room and are basically interchangeable. The large number seems to add to the mystery of why they are able to disappear each night and dance the night away - it's less plausible that such a large number could sneak away undetected.

    Films — Animation 
  • Anastasia: In a Russian context, the tsar's daughters are referred to as "Grand Duchess" and "princess" is a noble, not royal, title. However, this film uses the titles "Grand Duchess" and "princess" interchangeably when referring to the missing Anastasia.
  • The Disney Princess franchise is one of the best known examples, as it has a long history of marketing non-princess characters as princesses:
    • Mulan: Mulan herself is a notable example, as she is a tomboy and was never a princess in the entirety of her film, but was nevertheless included in the Disney Princess canon and received girlier, more princessy merchandising.
    • Other non-princesses included in the Disney Princess lineup at various points include Esmeralda of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Alice of Alice in Wonderland.
    • Pocahontas: To be fair, unlike most in this section, Pocahontas is the daughter of the leader of her tribe and a "princess" in some mannernote . But she was still marketed as a literal princess from the very beginning, including merchandising showing her in a Pimped-Out Dress that contrasts with her expressed interest in simplicity and disinterest in the trappings of English society.
    • Hercules inverts it with Megara. She was a princess of Thebes in the original Greek Mythology, but the movie never mentions it and there's no indication she was anything but a normal commoner woman before she worked for Hades.
    • Tangled swaps around the royalty, as Rapunzel was a peasant in her original tale and had a prince as her love interest. Here Rapunzel is a long lost princess, and the male lead is a forest bandit.
    • Moana is very clear on distinction between "The Chief's Daughter" and "Princess" but Maui mockingly calls her one anyway because she wears a dress and has an animal companion. Once again, at least she's the daughter of the leader of her people, and is at least a princess in some way.
    • Brave - Pixar's first film with a female protagonist of course had her as a princess. Although in this case it does show the difficulties associated with being a princess. Merida was still inducted into the line as soon as her film premiered.
  • Disney's The Black Cauldron, an adaptation of The Chronicles of Prydain, takes the character of Eilonwy - who was a princess in the books but whose royal mother ran away from her family to marry a commoner - and ignores this by having her clothes not-princess like. Many fans of Disney point out the irony both in that, and the fact that non-princess Disney heroines are called princesses and included in the line-up while she is never is. The movie also changes something else about Eilonwy from the books - she almost never self-identifies as a princess in the books, whereas in the film she always introduces herself to new acquaintances by saying, "I'm Princess Eilonwy."
  • Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire is the Princess of Atlantis who acts as linguist Milo Thatch's love interest, and is trying to restore her civilization's culture and save her kingdom from dying out. She ultimately becomes Queen at the end of the film, with Milo as her consort, after her father is fatally injured by Rourke, a traitourous mercenary who intentionally plots to destroy her kingdom.
  • Barbie as Rapunzel (which came out several years before Tangled) likewise turns Rapunzel into a kidnapped princess. Mother Gothel's motivation in this was also Rapunzel's father not loving her back, therefore preventing her from becoming a princess.
  • The Shrek sequels have Princess Fiona hanging around with a group of princesses based on the Disney Princesses. It's not clear where exactly they're princesses of as that Cinderella has her castle in the capitol of Far Far Away which is ruled by Fiona's family. Given that Snow White is one of the fairytale creatures that Lord Farquaad exiled to the swamp in the first movie, it's possible that he took his kingdom from her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bill & Ted: The duo have a time machine in which they can bag any historical babe they wanted. They pick two princesses, who don't really do anything but seem hot.
  • Our Friend Power 5: Among the turtles is the princess of BattleStar, Princess Yesular, the magic-wielding leader of the team.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: Princess Tamina is apparently the princess of a city. One comment by her suggests that for some reason, each woman who guards the time-reversing dagger is called a princess.
  • Star Wars: Princess Leia. The plot of the series could have been exactly the same were she not a princess (the princess of a planet that is brutally destroyed in the first movie), and yet she is, despite being the adopted daughter of a Senator of the Old Republic. The prequels reveal that Leia's adoptive mother Breha was Queen of Alderaan and her biological mother Padmé was Queen of Naboo, but these explanations come over 20 years since Leia was introduced as a princess.note 
  • In DOA: Dead or Alive, Kasumi is said to be the princess of their ninja clan, rather than just the daughter of the former leader.
  • Van Helsing: Anna Valerious's father was said to be king of the gypsies. Anna is therefore referred to as a princess; Dracula's brides even address her as such.

  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Discussed, and In-Universe. A preteen girl gets her uncle to run a tabletop roleplaying game, with her and her friends all playing as princesses, as a main part of the game:
    If they were playing a fantasy story game, then there had to be princesses.
  • Tara Duncan: Exaggerated. All the female prominent characters are princesses more or less officially. Tara is an heiress of the imperial category (along with her long-lost sister) while her friends Sparrow and Fafnir are respectively a non-heiress princess and The Chief's Daughter. The female dragon Charm is later revealed being a princess too, like the demon Sanhexia.
  • In-universe example: in A Song of Ice and Fire, the southern nobility insists on calling Val a "wildling princess," plotting political marriages for her, and generally treating her as they would a princess of any of the southern realms. This despite the fact that she is merely the sister of the wife of the former "king" of a loose tribal coalition ruled by Elective Monarchy with no tradition of hereditary nobility. She herself has no interest in their political games or the fineries associated with southern nobility, but the southern lords just plain can't wrap their heads around the idea that she's 1.) hot, and 2.) associated by family with the ruling class except by assigning her the "princess" role.
  • In the Chronicles of Prydain, Eilonwy is the only female in the band of heroes called "the companions," and she's a princess. It's an interesting twist, however, in that the first book doesn't reveal her royal lineage until literally the last page, when Dallben mentions it very casually. Eilonwy's Royal Blood is actually of little interest to her; she's more concerned with the magic powers that come with it, and learning to use them for the good of Prydain. The fact that she's a princess is mostly a plot point with regards to her relationship with Taran, who struggles to feel worthy of her because he doesn't even know who his parents were.
  • Princesses abound in "No Need for a Core?". Five of the seven royal children are women, and one of those has been trained by the local kitsune clan as a diplomat. Additionally, there are some women with princess-equivalent roles for smaller territories.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger: The only female in the Five-Man Band is Princess Mei. The rest of them are titled are Warriors... well, except Geki, who is a Prince.
  • Power Rangers Wild Force: Princess Shayla is the mentor for the Power Rangers. No particular plot-relevant reason for her to be a princess.
  • Red Dwarf: There's inexplicably a princess in the middle of World War II, apparently there solely so Ace Rimmer can rescue her while fighting Nazis. What a guy.
  • Once Upon a Time is based on fairy tales (specifically the Disney versions) and repeatedly features princesses as characters. As following above, Rapunzel becomes a long-lost princess, Belle (who only becomes a princess by marriage at the end of Beauty and the Beast) appears to already be one, the Snow Queen (who was a demon just named 'Queen' by legend) was a princess in her youth, and Ursula being the princess daughter of Poseidon. This is also reversed for some characters who were princesses in their movies (like Ariel and Tiger Lily) who get downgraded into non-royals in the series.
  • When the Vampiric Council in What We Do in the Shadows (2019) is introduced, Evan is specifically called "The Immortal Princess of the Undead" in her introduction for no real reason; Wesley is the only other one referred to by a title ("Daywalker") and she even says there's no need to use her full name.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess... isn't a princess. Not that she couldn't kick your face sideways if you dispute her right to the title, of course.

  • Classical Mythology has a veritable plethora of Princesses. Almost every important mortal female character is a princess, including (but not limited to): Andromeda (princess of Aethiopia or Joppa), Antigone (princess of Thebes), Atalanta (princess of Arcadia), Ariadne (princess of Crete), Danae (princess of Argos), Europa (princess of Phoenicia), Helen (princess of Sparta and Troy), Medea (princess of Colchis), Psyche (princess of an unnamed kingdom). The high amount of princesses makes some sense considering how many city states Greece was made up of during the Mycenaean period, and nearly all the male heroes are royalty as well.

    Video Games 
  • Dare to Dream: Lissa is a girl who lives in a cardboard castle in the happy part of Tyler's imagination. She seemingly sees Tyler as a Knight In Shining Armour who'll slay the "dragon", his evil split personality.
  • The Dark Parables have at least one princess in almost every installment. Somewhat justified, as the series is based on classic fairy tales, but it's worth noting that only one of these princesses (in Goldilocks and the Fallen Star) ever actually becomes queen.
  • The lack of this trope is discussed in a codex entry in Dragon Age: Inquisition, in which it's mentioned that the reason the empire of Orlais has so many nobles titled as lord or lady is because at some point, the peerage was reorganized and downgraded a number of nobles to those ranks. A woman may only be identified in Orlais as a princess if she is the daughter of the emperor/empress; even granddaughters of a sovereign may only be identified as grand duchesses.
  • Hyper Princess Pitch is about the fight between a spoiled brat and a mechanical Santa Claus. How this has anything to do with princessing is never explained; nor is it explained why she is one in the first place, as the child of a goddess and a miner.
  • Kingdom Hearts has seven characters, whose hearts do not have any darkness in them, referred to as the Seven Princesses of Heart. However, only five of them (Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, Belle, and Jasmine) are actual princesses, and two of those only by marriage. The other two spots are filled by Kairi, a character original to the games, and Alice, who doesn't really have any justification. Later games in the series explain that the title of "Princess of Heart" is meant to be symbolic of their power, and not indicative of royal status.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Zelda's the only maiden with a name and personality, and she happens to be a princess. Although her father was the King of Hyrule, her status as the Princess has no relevance to the story aside from giving Link bad publicity for the villagers.
  • Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords: Only two of the potential party members are female, and one, Serephine, is a princess. She's arguably the most useless of them all, and is possibly only there because of this trope.
  • Rule of Rose: Part of the game's Fairytale Motif, as the ruling rank in the Red Crayon Aristocrats is the Princess of the Red Rose, who is supposed to fulfill all the stereotypical princess-tropes. There's also the game's insistence of calling every single female character (save for the protagonist) a Princess in the narration.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Elise is technically a duchess, but this is only mentioned a few times. She's mostly treated as the modern princess of a small nation.
  • Super Mario Bros. has no less than three Princess characters who are part of the mainstay cast. First there is Peach Toadstool, the Princess Classic of the Mushroom Kingdom, who is the main heroine and Mario's Implied Love Interest. Princess Daisy was introduced later as an Expy for Peach in Super Mario Land, but since evolved into being Peach's best friend and tomboy counterpart and possible love interest for the other super brother. Finally, there is Rosalina, introduced in Super Mario Galaxy who's "princess" status is much downplayed compared to the other two but still holds a similar vague authority position, as she wears an elegant cyan gown with a Cool Crown and watches over the cosmos and acts as a maternal figure to the Lumas.
  • Touhou Project, due to having an Improbably Female Cast and tons of characters, naturally includes a number of princesses, including Yuyuko (princess of the spirit world), Kaguya (former princess of the moon), the Watatsuki sisters (current princesses of the moon), and Shinmyoumaru (princess of the inchlings).
  • Vindictus: One of the playable classes is Delia, a former princess who was cast out of her kingdom because she took more interest in learning combat training instead of learning how to properly rule her country. Each character class in the game is characterized with a backstory that explains how they became an adventurer, but those backgrounds play no further part in the story, and being an exiled princess doesn't factor into Delia's playstyle of smashing things up with a BFS.
  • Yoake Mae Yori Ruri Iro Na: Feena Fam Earthlight is a princess, despite the fact that matriarchal monarchy seems to be an unlikely government type for a country that was founded by humans who had colonized the moon. Royal politics do come into play later in the story, however.

    Visual Novels 
  • One of the students in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is the Ultimate Princess, Sonia Nevermind of the fictional country of Novoselic.
  • In Double Homework, Amy is a shy girl in a hoodie... who is later revealed to be a princess.

  • Cursed Princess Club: The main character is a princess, and so are her two older sisters. Plus, the main storyline is her joining a club for cursed princesses (and princes, but so far, only two have joined). So there are enough royal gals to go around.
  • The Princess Planet: The webcomic takes place in a Space Opera setting full of robots and Mix-and-Match Creatures, but almost every character is a princess.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in Adventure Time: Probably half of the show's referring characters are princesses. There's a princess of every flavor, including some pretty odd ones like Slime Princess or Hot Dog Princess. Most rule their own kingdoms, and seem to be "princesses" because Finn, as a proper fantasy adventurer, needs princesses to save. Granted, we do see Princess Bubblegum, the most prominent of them, doing a lot of ruling (and science), while Flame Princess overthrows her dad and takes the Flame King title.
  • Around the World with Willy Fog: Romy is an Indian princess who gets rescued by Mr Fog and his companions and then travels with them around the world. Everybody is impressed that such a beauty is also an aristocrat. She, however, says she's a daughter of wealthy merchants and she has her title of princess via marriage. She was a Rajah's wife, so normally she would be a Rani. Rajah is sometimes translated as Prince, so Rani can easily be Princess.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Hereditary monarchy seems to be the go-to system of government in the setting. In the Northern Water Tribe, the leader's title is "Chief", but his daughter is referred to as a princess. In the Fire Nation, the leader's title is "Fire Lord", but his children are referred to as a prince and princess.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic started out with only two ruling princesses, sisters Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, who are called "princesses" even though they really should be queens. The second introduced their adopted niece, Princess Cadance, who rules a city-state in Equestria. The ordinary Twilight Sparkle was eventually crowned princess and Cadance later had a daughter, Princess Flurry Heart. In the final season, the Royal Sisters retire and leave Twilight the ruling princess of the country.
  • Played for laughs in Reboot with Princess Bula. When Captain Capacitor is asked whether Princess Bula is actually a Princess, he has this to say;
  • The main characters in Sea Princesses are all from royal families that rule over different species of marine life. This leads to a lot of royalty crammed into a small area.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Any girl with a connection to a runestone (which grants them magical powers) is referred to as a princess. Most of them are explicitly in the line of inheritance for their nations (or ruling already), but many others are not. While some of the princesses might have lost their kingdoms to the Horde, Adora never had any kingdom and is still referred to as a princess, because she's the Chosen One. Even Scorpia, who gave up her runestone and her kingdom, is still called a princess and invited to the annual Princess Ball.
  • SpacePOP revolves around five princesses from outer space battling to reclaim their planets after an evil empress takes over and kidnaps their parents.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian: Ariel is a princess, but we never learn what she is a princess of. We never see a kingdom or any kind of nation-state in any of the episodes. In all of Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla's wanderings, they never encounter a society larger than a tribe or a village.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Allura was princess of Altea before the planet was destroyed and she was put into cryosleep. After she wakes up she isn't technically princess of anything, but is still consistently referred to as one.
  • Winx Club: Pretty much every main character is some kind of princess: Stella is the princess of Solaria. Aisha is the princess of Andros. Galatea is the princess of Melody. Crystal is the princess of Linphea. Amentia is the princess of Downland. Tressa is the princess of the mermaids of Andros. Bloom is revealed to be the princess of Domino at the end of season 1. Musa is not a princess, but 4kids called her one, so when her not being a princess became important her dad was stated to be a former prince. Flora is not a princess, despite her saying she is the princess of Linphea in Magical Adventure. Tecna is a princess in the comics, but her status as a princess in the show has not been confirmed one way or the other. They all spend most of their time at school or on some adventure so their titles are rarely relevant.
  • Young Justice (2010): Tara Markov's comics counterpart is an illegitimate child of the king of Markovia. Here she is the legitimate daughter of the king and queen, making her explicitly a princess (albeit one in exile).