Ground zero for all Princely Tropes, or what comes to mind when we think of a prince.
He's an aristocrat with a magnetic personality, probably dashing, brave, gallant, and kind, a true prince. In Fairy Tales, he often rescues the Damsel in Distress and marries her to live Happily Ever After. If he's saving himself for his true princess he'll be her Celibate Hero but if he's more interested in impressing the ladies with his father's money, he's a Millionaire Playboy.
Except, actually, all the princes in those tales were very seldom named. It was simply a "prince" or "king" or royalty of some sort. And when they did have names, they were genuine, even commonplace, names: John, Ivan, Jean, Hans, etc.
The term stuck.
Nowadays, the classic Prince Charming is almost never used, possibly because the Ruritanias which he often hailed from have largely abandoned monarchy, or joined the EU. The trope has been subverted, double subverted, inverted, averted, diverted, converted, and perverted (and ridiculed, but that's nothing to be scared of). Nowadays, the Prince is often Prince Charmless — a Jerkass, Smug Snake, or downright evil. Possibly, he'll be naive or selfish.
It's only the rarest of instances where he can be played straight and done right. And under those circumstances he will be given his own name, and not called Prince Charming. "Prince Charming" is guaranteed to be a subversion. When he does have charm he can be found practicing Old-School Chivalry. In most instances, he will start out with some flaws and undergo Character Development to earn his "Prince Charming" status.
When not referring to a royal prince, the concept refers to a young man with the charm of a rich boy. Contrast the bad boy charm of All Girls Want Bad Boys.
In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The Evil Prince, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, Sheltered Aristocrat, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next steps down are The Good Chancellor, Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. The next steps up are The Caligula, The Good King, God Save Us from the Queen!, The High Queen, and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Is his zaku three times as fast as a normal zaku?
- Fruits Basket, Yuki is called this by schoolmates who are ignorant of his traumatic past and problematic family relationships.
- This is Tamaki's schtick in Ouran High School Host Club - a dashing, flirtatious half-French charmer who girls line up to swoon over.
- Princess Tutu's overall aim in fixing Mytho's broken heart is to turn him back into this.
- In Candy Candy, there is the mysterious "Prince from the Hill", a handsome young man dressed in a kilt, who makes Candy smile again when she was sad, and then vanishes in the into thin air, leaving only pendant with a small bell as the only evidence of his existence. In the last episode of the series is finally revealed that the prince was Albert, who was also Candy´s Mysterious Protector "Uncle" William. Anthony (From the same series) also may count. In fact, the first time Candy meets Anthony, she thought that he was her "Prince from the Hill" since both had a similar appearence and personality.
- James of Pokémon's Team Rocket has shades of this, with a little Gentleman Thief for good measure. Given that he's from a rich, affluent family, it sort of fits.
- Negima has Fate, playing it straight just to make Negi jealous.
- In A Certain Scientific Railgun, Misaki Shokohou comments that whenever Touma Kamijou saves people, he looks like a gallant prince.
- In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, the Drama Club often makes drama featuring characters of this type, usually cross cast by Kashima. Her participation in this kind of role earns her epithet, "the Prince of the School."
- Fate's tendency to rescue Nanoha in the nick of time throughout the franchise of Lyrical Nanoha has prompted their voice actresses to joke that Fate is Nanoha's prince. Gender inverted in that Fate is female, but then again, so is Nanoha. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT, having kicked the Ship Tease between the two Up to Eleven, has another character flat out state this. Nanoha's response is to blush heavily.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena: The titular character aspires to be this, though she combines it part-and-parcel with Knight in Shining Armor. She in turn draws inspiration to be this from the enigmatic Prince Dios, who she barely remembers rescuing her from her sorrow after losing her parents. The Student Council (sans Nanami) also exhibit various Prince Charming subtropes, though they all fall short.
- While it's not immediately obvious, Utena pokes a lot of holes applying this trope to real life. By the end, the show makes it clear that the Prince archetype should neither be sought nor emulated, as it's almost impossible to achieve and completely unsustainable even then. Case-in-point: Prince Dios was a Physical God with the power to revolutionize the world, and even he crumbled beneath the strain of embodying male perfection.
- Bill Willingham's comic book Fables (about characters from fairy tales living in secret in New York) has Prince Charming, who was married three times, to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. He's a bit of a Magnificent Bastard and eventually becomes Mayor of Fabletown.
- The Queen of Fables thinks that Superman is Prince Charming and wants to either kill him or marry him. Maybe both. Given his nature, it's understandable that the delusional Queen would make this mistake.
- Loki suggests that Hulkling of the Young Avengers is really this, having been created by his boyfriend Wiccan's Reality Warper powers to subconsciously fulfill his fantasy of meeting and falling in love with this type of character. He points out the improbability of a gay teenage boy meeting, and perfectly matching, a gay alien prince. Of course, this is coming from Loki, and both Hulkling and Wiccan were listed as part of the Avengers Fail-Safe Program, being descendants of prior members of The Avengers. Teammate Prodigy dismisses the whole matter as "existential nonsense".
- The Mirror Universe counterpart of King Sombra from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) is the trope played very much straight.
- In Divided Rainbow, Rarity's favorite pet name for Lero Michealides is 'my sweet prince.'
- Child of the Storm has Harry, who, though a little overwhelmed by his new status as a Prince of Asgard (Thor was James Potter. It Makes Sense in Context), ticks every box (though he's an Adorkable variant of The Charmer).
- Even though the Disney Animated Canon movies have never used the name Prince Charming, it's often attached to them.
- The princes in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are often referred to as such. Snow White's prince is simply "The Prince", although she does refer to him as being charming. Sleeping Beauty's prince is the only one given a real name, Prince Phillip. Later merchandise and such identifies "Prince Charming" specifically as Cinderella's prince, though in the film he's only ever referred to as "The Prince" or "The Noble Prince". It should be noted that in Snow White and Cinderella the prince does little more than show up and be royal, while Phillip due to his extended screen time comes the closest to actually portraying this trope.
- Eric from The Little Mermaid (1989) is one of the last examples of this trope being played straight in Western media. Notably, unlike the Princes from Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, he is a well-developed character.
- Notably in light of the above, the Princes in subsequent Disney films play with the trope in various ways, and have even come to subvert it quite forcefully. They may refuse their royal duties (Simba), be jerks at first though they later improve (Beast, Kuzco), start off as commoners who rise to the status of prince through marriage (Aladdin, Flynn Rider), appear charming but turn out to be a womanizing Manchild (Naveen), or even be the Big Bad (Hans).
- Inverted in the Shrek sequels, as Prince Charming is vain, selfish, a sissy coward and in Shrek the Third, arguably evil.
- Somewhat twisted in Charming as the prince's "charm" is part of a curse. The central plot revolves around him trying to get rid of his charm, only to get the real non-magical version in the process. Still, so long as the curse is in effect, no woman can love anyone other than him, so it's probably for the best.
- Prince Edward from Enchanted is Prince Charming Played for Laughs. He's good-natured, handsome, and heroic, but he's kind of thick. And it turns out he's not the right man for Giselle—but when he realizes this, he gallantly steps aside for her true prince.
- While Snow White and the Three Stooges almost squandered the leads, the prince had a greatly expanded role compared to the actual fairy tale.
- Played straight in Prince Charming a 2001 made-for-television film starring Sean Maguire is the story of a prince who gets turned into a frog because he dashingly rescues a damsel in distress who starts trying to reward him.
- Played straight in the movie The Prince & Me as Prince Edvard goes from having a girl on each arm to "Eddie" who quotes William Shakespeare like some duke-lord guy.
- Kate & Leopold has Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany who writes the best apology letter in the history of mankind.
- In the Czech movie Byl jednou jeden král (Once upon a time there was a king, an adaptation of the fairy tale Salt over gold) there are three princes who came to the kingdom as suitors for the three princesses: Prince Charming note , Prince Valiant, and Prince Cunning. They are all braggarts and cowards, and eventually they help themselves to the royal treasure - while the three princesses, as well as the king himself, get married to commoners in the end.
- Mirror, Mirror is one of the very few modern movies based on fairy tales which play this trope almost completely straight with Andrew Alcott, a character with most of the usual Prince Charming traits.
- Subverted in Snow White and the Huntsman as the prince has become an Action Survivor due to the queen's tyrannical rule. He also becomes an Unlucky Childhood Friend to Snow White - but is still presented as a good guy.
- Into the Woods
"I was raised to be charming, not sincere."
- Kit, the prince in Cinderella (2015), is a rare example in a modern film played straight. Though there is a slight subversion in that he must learn how to be a competent ruler once his father dies and does end the story as a king.
- Maleficent features the aforementioned Prince Philip, but the main subversion is that his kiss doesn't wake Aurora up. Nonetheless all other parts of the trope are played straight and the two are implied to end up together.
- Played with in A Brother's Price: Prince Alannon was a dignified, quiet-spoken man, who was very handsome and liked to take regular baths. Very charming. However, his marriage to the protagonist's grandmothers came about not by him rescuing one of them, but by his being kidnapped by them. He eventually seems to have consented to marry them, which is not such a big surprise considering that the best he could have hoped for would have been an Arranged Marriage, anyway. And they did build him a bathhouse.
- Given how soon it was written after the term originated, The Picture of Dorian Gray is likely one of the first subversions. Dorian is called this by extremely naive actress Sybil who he seduces and abandons, driving to suicide. Another lover also apparently called him this, and uses the nickname scornfully when he encounters her several years later as a prostitute.
- Ella Enchanted exaggerates this. The prince's name is Charmont, which is sorta like Charming and borders on charmant, which is French for "charming" and comes from the Fairy Tale "The Blue Bird" where the hero was called Le Roi Charmant ("the charming king"). He prefers to be called Char, though.
- John Moore's Slay and Rescue has a professional hero who really is a prince named Charming, sent by his father's chancellor to rescue fair maidens all over the place (the theory is that it keeps him too busy to try to take over the throne). He deliberately pulls Big Damn Heroes arrivals, is a Master Swordsman, and is very frustrated. Nonetheless, he's also basically decent.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Prince Joffrey Baratheon is Prince Charmless and The Caligula, but Sansa sees him as a Prince Charming… for a while.
- His brother Prince Tommen, however, is genuinely kind and sweet-tempered (though he's only eight). Sansa even says she would have preferred to have married Tommen.
- Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was a very charming prince until his love for a woman he was not betrothed to incited Robert's Rebellion
- Wrong Genre Savvy Prince Quentyn Martell really wants to be a Prince Charming.
- In Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, Glenda objects to Trev as Juliet's love because Juliet is special and all she needed was a prince — and she remembers her own fantasies. Juliet and Trev do end up together, and Glenda ends up with a king to be.
- Justified in the contemporary book Dream Boy written by Ann Reit, which stars a charming, but immature teenager who learned it from his father.
- Played straight with Prince Jonathan of Tortall in Song of the Lioness who is a lover and a fighter. And oh boy is he a lover - right up until he meets Thayet, anyway, and she steals his heart and his ability to speak in all of ten seconds.
- Played straight in The Royal Diaries
- Elisabeth: The Princess Bride where Emperor Franz Joseph I was able to win over Elisabeth because she considered him to be playful, considerate and charming.
- In Isabel: Jewel of Castilla where it takes less than two hours for Fernando, Prince of Aragon and King of Sicily, to steal the princess's heart with his humor, authority and imagination.
- Interestingly zigzagged in Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles. At first Antonia is repulsed at fat and ugly Louis Auguste but as time goes on, he reveals that he's shy, sweet and even becomes devoted to her. While she doesn't fall in love with him, Antonia does call him her friend.
- Prince Kai from Cinder.
- The Hero's Guide To Saving Your Kingdom by Chris Healy takes this trope and runs all over the map with it. The princes of four different fairy tales (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White) get the short end of the stick when their stories are popularized because everyone remembers the princesses' names, but their names (Fredrick, Gustav, Liam and Duncan respectively) are lost and are just called "Charming", even though all four are radically different people. They eventually team up and become a league of Princes Charming.
- In Guns of the Dawn, Luthrian IV of Lascanne, although a king rather than a prince, fits this archetype — young, handsome, unmarried, and a good dancer — as Emily personally discovers. He's widely hailed by his adoring subjects as The Good King, too — but isn't.
- In The Stormlight Archive, Adolin Kholin displays many traits of Prince Charming: he is genuinely kind, caring, and a gallant warrior to boot, and is one of the only people to hold the full trust of his father until it's revealed that it was Adolin who murdered Highprince Sadeas, that is. In many ways, he is also a subversion of this trope, having great difficulty with forming meaningful relationships with women. Indeed, he is a serial womanizer with a colorful dating history.
- Game of Thrones: Joffrey intentionally puts on this act for Sansa. It lasts for about half an episode before his true colors are revealed.
- Prince Charming is a character in Sesame Street, using the same puppet as Guy Smiley and Don Music, who can be relied upon to totally mess up any fairy-tale he's involved in (he's not a Prince Charmless, just incompetent and not very bright). He also works as a dance instructor, under the name Prince Cha-Cha-Charming.
- Gossip Girl: Nate Archibald is all but explicitly based on this trope. He is described as charming with extreme regularity, and has the tendency to fall passionately in love (with various girls) and deliver romantic speeches (occasionally hilariously out of context) while rescuing them from some emotional or social dragon. He is in the books given the epithet "prince of the upper east side" and it is said that he can "snap his fingers and have any girl he wants." If you gave him fencing lessons, he would basically be the Prince Charming from Fables
- In the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Once More With Feeling", Buffy rescues a handsome prince, in an inversion of the traditional rescue scenario. He sings "How can I repay—" but Buffy cuts him off with "Whatever" given that she's in her depressed period.
- Justified for Logan from Gilmore Girls who is his father's heir, charismatic, and quite a ladies man.
- Played straight in the Veronica Mars episode "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough" where Logan meets Hannah who he says is "like the hot daughter of a king he marries off to get like Denmark or something."
- Smallville's favorite millionaire playboy Lex Luthor.
- Prince Arthur in Merlin (BBC) probably fits this. While he's a bit mean to his servant Merlin sometimes, when it comes to his love interest Gwen - he's this trope incarnate.
- Imitated/played for laughs so to speak on Bones "The Prince in the Plastic", which had a victim who created a doll called 'Prince Charmington' and a suspect who dressed as the doll for store openings and such.
- Once Upon a Time
- The main Prince James, is sarcastically (at first) nicknamed Prince Charming by his future wife, Snow White, when he captures her in a net. She says that he's so charming if that's the only way he can get someone. Of course she did steal from him.
- All the princes in the series fit the trope, including Cinderella's and Sleeping Beauty's Princes. Probably a rare instance in modern television where the trope is played straight for the most part, although James turns out secretly not to be of legit royal blood.
- Averted with the actual Prince James. The guy was a dick.
- Robin Hood surprisingly ticks all the boxes, despite being an outlaw. But if one remembers that he is technically the Prince of *Thieves*, then it fits. He's charming enough to act as the Evil Queen's Second Love.
- The "Dream Prince" in Akumuchan is a deliberate example of this trope. He is handsome, charming, rides a horse, and seems to exist for the sole purpose of rescuing Ayami from her troubled dreams and wooing her.
- He appears in GoGo Sentai Boukenger to any lady who wore the Glass Slipper. He then traps her in his world with the help of one of Cinderella's Stepsisters. His true form is that of a monster, and he is killed off by the Boukengers.
- Simon Tam from Firefly is not a literal prince, but he is a kind, brave, attractive young man from a wealthy, aristocratic family who insists on acting "properly" (in the Old-School Chivalry sense) even in the worst of circumstances, making him a rare modern straight example.
- In the season 1 finale of Sabrina the Teenage Witch Sabrina is trapped in a troll's tower (and is legally bound to be there). The only loophole in the law is that a prince can rescue her. Further Loophole Abuse occurs when her aunts realise that Sabrina's boyfriend Harvey's father owns an extermination business and calls himself the Termite King - technically making Harvey the 'Termite Prince'. Hilda and Zelda also conjure up some princely clothes for him to wear.
Harvey: I couldn't vanquish the troll wearing pants?
- Alluded to in a season 7 episode where Sabrina turns into a literal Bridezilla (due to her obsession with having the perfect fairy tale wedding). Salem says that the only way to cure her is for a prince to slay her. In this case it's her fiancée Aaron telling her off for some of her crazy wedding ideas.
- Used in the finale of The Worst Witch TV series. Mildred discovers that her drawings can come to life - which comes in handy when the other girls summon the Wicked Witch from Sleeping Beauty by accident. Mildred makes her drawing of Prince Percy come to life - and his kiss wakes everyone up from their sleep. Note that this is individual kisses we're talking about; it's implied that he has to kiss the whole school.
- The Christmas Episode also featured a pantomime of Cinderella. Drusilla was originally cast as the prince - but after some meddling from her and Ethel, they put Charlie in the role. Fitting since Mildred is Cinderella and he's her sometimes love interest.
- "A Knight To Remember" summons a prince from medieval times to San Francisco. Aside from the obvious issues of a medieval knight in 21st century California would face, he's quite charming. Of course some of this is due to him being under a love spell.
- Mentioned in the Fairy Tale Motifs episode "Happily Ever After". Paige eats Snow White's poisoned apple and it's said that a prince's kiss will free her. But thankfully once the Wicked Witch that cursed her is defeated, the spell wears off. Nonetheless one of the dwarves suggests she get a prince just in case it happens again. The episode also features a love interest for Phoebe whose last name is Prince - and he serves as the prince in the Cinderella portion of the episode. But with one small difference: he's under the control of the Wicked Witch.
- Again alluded to by Phoebe's child self, who loved Cinderella and asked if Cole was her Prince.
- Into the Woods actually has two examples: there are two Prince Charmings, married to Cinderella and Rapunzel, respectively. In the second act, they abandon their wives for Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
"I was raised to be charming, not sincere." - Cinderella's Prince
- Fable III: The Male Hero looks like a classic example of this Trope
- Psychonauts's official Psycho-Pedia has this to say about Lili's view of Raz:
Clairvoyance reveals that Lili sees Raz as a Prince Charming-type, complete with cape, rose and slicked-back hair. But she doesnï¿½t have a crush on him. Not at all. No way.
- Alexander of Daventry pulls this off rather nicely, especially in King's Quest VI. It's given a bit of a Deconstruction in The Kings Quest Companion, though. Because he spent so long as a slave, he still thinks of himself as "Gwydion." The persona of "Alexander" is like a mask or a cloak to him.
- The game Yume 100: Hundred Sleeping Princes in the Kingdom of Dreams relies on the lasting appeal of this trope. It's a Bishounen-collecting puzzle game featuring actually well over a hundred princes with varying styles of charm, but all of them are meant, first and foremost, to be attractive.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has Prince Sidon of the Zora. A handsome and extroverted Nice Guy, he is famous as a Warrior Prince who once took down a giant Octorok and also helps Link fight Divine Beast Vah Ruta. He's also a Chick Magnet among the Zora women, to the point that one female Zora soldier has even organized a fan club where the ladies can collectively swoon over him.
Tula: Ah... Mmm... Prince Sidon... Just thinking of you turns me to mush...
- Ultra Fast Pony subverts this without invoking Prince Charmless. Prince Blueblood is handsome royalty and a perfect gentlestallion. Unfortunately, the heroine Rarity has a mile-wide masochistic streak, so she wants a prince who will boss her around and hurt her. Rarity loses interest in Prince Blueblood because he's too nice.
- Gil from Girl Genius is a kind of reconstruction. The Prince Charming has often been deconstructed by making him (the heir of) a tyrant. But Gil is very good at arguing his father is the most enlightened despot in the continent, and he's probably right. Also, Gil is beautiful, the ultimate warrior, Always Save the Girl... He just fails for the romantic side.
- In Sinfest, Baby Blue is displeased with Happily Ever After so she declares Prince Charming really cheated on her so she killed him in his sleep.
- No Rest for the Wicked has Prince Ricardo, aka "Picky Dicky." He's great with heroics, but insists on only marrying the best princess in the world, and has subsequently insulted just about every other in his search. His Establishing Character Moment has him getting through the vines surrounding Sleeping Beauty's castle, which have claimed countless other men, leaning in to kiss her...and then leaving in disgust when it turns out that she wheezes in her sleep.
- The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Frankie, My Dear" has a Prince Charming imaginary friend. He is indeed handsome, charming, romantic—and smitten with Frankie Foster. Frankie tells him that she outgrew his type years ago, but don't worry, Friends like him get snatched up by little girls in no time.
- At the end of the first My Little Pony TV special,Scorpan is revealed to be one.
- Prince Gumball from the Adventure Time gender-swapped episodes seems to be this (At least for what can be seen in his only two apparitions in the series) There is also Prince Huge from the episode "The Hard Easy"