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Western Animation / The Princess and the Pea

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The Princess and the Pea is an obscure 2002 animated film loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name.

After King Heath's daughter is born, his evil brother, Laird, switches her with his own newborn daughter and sends her away to live with pig farmers as vengeance for not inheriting the crown.

The princess grows up to be a peasant girl named Daria, and after a chance encounter with Prince Rollo, they fall in love. Rollo quickly sets aside his own feelings in favor of marrying a princess for the good of his kingdom, but trouble is stirring when Laird schemes to get his daughter, the wrongful princess Hildegard, to marry Rollo and to get Daria out of the picture for good.

There's also the matter of an impending prophecy that the kingdom will fall to ruin after the rule of the 18th king, and the only way to find the rightful princess to rule it is to have her sleep atop 20 mattresses with a single pea at the bottom and see whether she can detect it without knowing it's there.

There is also a spin-off TV series, as can be seen here, dubbed in Russian.

The Princess and the Pea provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: By necessity due to the original story being very short. Here, an entirely original plotline revolving around competing brothers and daughters is added, with the original premise relegated to a single scene.
  • Age Cut: Daria gets one when she looks at her reflection on a pond.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: This happens to Daria after an angry mob tries to kill her. She goes back to the kingdom after hiding, and everyone runs away from her.
  • Animated Musical
  • Award-Bait Song: The version of "My Kingdom of The Heart" that plays over the end credits, performed by Krystal.
  • Beard of Evil: Laird has one of the pointy beard and tiny mustache variety.
  • Big Eater:
    • Helsa, who is shown eating something in nearly every scene she’s in, and when offering to be the baby princess’s wet nurse says “All I ask in return is four square meals a day, plus snacks.”
    • Hungry, one of Daria's pet pigs, eats so much more than his siblings that Daria named him for this.
  • Big "NO!": Laird delivers one after Heath is crowned King.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Queen Mariana dies giving birth to Daria on the same day that Laird’s own daughter, Hildegard, is born.
  • Booby Trap: Laird set up one long ago in the castle dungeon. He tried to lead Rollo into it until Fearless set it off.
  • Break the Cutie: After Laird burns down the forest she ran into, Daria momentarily loses her optimistic spirit, leading into her Dark Reprise of "Kingdom of the Heart".
  • Butt-Monkey: Sebastian endures the most abuse out of all the characters. Laird also puts his falcon through a lot of abuse.
  • Cain and Abel: Laird and Heath. Laird’s the cruel and calculating Cain, Heath is the kindhearted Abel.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Laird talks about how he'll make a wonderful despot before his coronation, and when he meets his daughter, he mentions how she needs a few lessons in deceit and hypocrisy.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Daria's heart-shaped birthmark on her left foot is later used to help identify her as the real princess. Hildegard paints one on her foot, but Sir Winthrop, Rollo's dog, licks it off proving to everyone that she is a fake.
  • Climbing Climax: Laird and Hildegard take Daria to the top of the castle, and Rollo follows them up there to rescue her.
  • Crowd Song: "Corazion," which Heath’s future kingdom sings as he, Mariana, and Rollo arrive at the beginning of the movie.
  • Dance of Romance: Daria and Rollo share one during "My Kingdom of the Heart".
  • Dark Reprise/Distant Duet: Of "My Kingdom of the Heart", sung by Rollo and Daria.
  • Dawn of an Era: Sebastian comments on this at the end, believing a new golden age will start now that Daria, after passing the Secret Test of Character and proving herself to be the princess from the prophecy, assumed her rightful role as the true princess.
  • Death by Childbirth: How Daria's mother, Queen Mariana, dies.
  • Death Faked for You: Laird and Helsa fake their daughter's death so nobody will wonder where she is while she's presented as Heath's daughter.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Queen Marianna was strongly implied to have been a saint of a wife to Heath before she died bringing Daria into the world.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: During his Villain Song, Laird sings about how he doesn't care if his subjects are starving or overtaxed, so long as he gets to be king.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Daria's heart-shaped birthmark on her left foot.
  • Diving Save: When Heath pushes Rollo out of the way of a falling chandelier Laird's falcon cut loose. It hardly does any damage.
  • End of an Age: During the Opening Narration, Sebastian says there was a time when the first Princess who established the Kingdom of the Heart created an era of peace and kindness. But generations after the Princess' rule, the kingdom fell into war, and much knowledge was lost.
  • Ethereal Choir: One starts playing when Heath receives the crown.
  • Evil Eyebrows: Laird, of course.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Laird out-hams everyone by a longshot.
    Laird: NOOOOOOOO!! I'm the rightful heir! The crown and kingdom belong to MEEEEE!!
  • The Evil Prince / Evil Uncle: Laird.
  • Evil Wears Black: Laird, Helsa, and Hildegard.
  • Fairy Tale: Based on The Princess and the Pea, albeit with some liberties and hefty Adaptation Expansion.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Laird has his pet falcon cut a chandelier to fall on Rollo, but Heath pushes him out of the way in time to take the blow instead. It doesn't kill him.
  • Feathered Fiend: Laird's pet falcon.
  • Feather Fingers: with Sebastian.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Daria. She even manages to befriend a bear and name him Balthazar.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Rollo and Daria are in love after sharing one scene together, with Daria’s apparent lack of noble blood being the only reason he doesn’t propose then and there. They’re married at the end of the film, after barely knowing each other a few days.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Laird's plan was to swap Heath's daughter with his own, then have his wife raise her to be a spoiled-rotten brat just to get back at his brother for stealing the throne. It the point where Heath becomes so tired of Hildegard's behavior that he threatens to disinherit her and pass his kingdom onto Rollo instead.
  • The Good King: Heath.
  • Happily Ever After: Naturally, the film ends in this way; Daria is with her blood family, taking her rightful place on the throne, marrying Rollo, and Laird and his family are defeated.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Rollo and his dog, Sir Winthrop.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Rollo comes up with some pretty pathetic excuses to run away from Hildegard when she declares that she'll marry him.
    Rollo: I-I-I have to wash my... sword. I, uh, I mean I'm allergic to diamonds. I mean, um, I-I'm late... for a quest.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: King Heath starts to think about disinheriting Hildegard even before learning she's not his daughter.
  • Irony: When he's crowned king, Heath has Laird banished to rule over the Pig Kingdom. About a year later, as part of his evil scheme of revenge, Laird has his daughter switched with Heath's, and Daria is raised by pig farming peasants.
    • What's more, it's because of Daria growing up with pig farmers that she befriends her swinine animal sidekicks who ultimately put a wrench in Laird's evil schemes in the long run.
  • Jerkass:
    • Laird and Hildegard, the picture of entitled, petty aristocrats.
    • The pig farmers who raised Daria are bickering, lazy child abusers.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Despite being shunned by most of the kingdom, Daria forgoes the chance to rest at a tavern in order to help a servant woman who's fallen in the road. Doing so gets her into the castle in time for Rollo's wedding, where she happens to prove her identity as the king's true daughter, exposing Hildegard as a fraud and foiling Laird's plans.
  • Knitting Pregnancy Announcement: Played with. It's not a knitted pair of baby booties that Queen Marianna uses to announce she's pregnant with hers and Heath's baby. Rather, when he wonders what she's sewing up, she tells him it's a baby blanket.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Laird attempts to kill Heath in the climax, certain that his demise will give him the throne and allow him to pass it to Hildegard. He believes he’s won for roughly two seconds before it’s revealed Heath survived the Falling Chandelier of Doom. Laird’s response? To quip "My reign was brief but glorious," and then just take his family and just run for it, albeit with Daria as a hostage.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Daria is a kindhearted redhead who wears light colored clothes, is a pure-hearted, selfless Friend to All Living Things, puts others before herself and loves Rollo as a person. Hildegard is dark haired, wears dark colored clothes and is selfish, spoiled, conceited, proud, mean to animals like throwing away a bucket full of water that Daria was giving the horses pulling her coach for example, and is a Gold Digger who just wants Rollo's Kingdom.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Darià and Hildegard were both raised without knowing that they were Switched at Birth. The latter finds out halfway through the movie, but still helps to maintain the charade in order to keep her claim to the throne.
  • Love at First Sight: Rollo and Daria, who share a Dance of Romance among the ruins of the old castle.
  • Lovable Coward: Fearless, one of Daria's pet pigs. He gets over it in the climax, threatening Hildegard to protect Daria.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Sebastian has one where he runs tests on the pea to see what, if anything, makes it special.
  • Madness Mantra: A delirious Sebastian is only able to laugh “It’s in the princess, not the pea!” after discovering how the pea test actually works. He spends roughly an entire night only able to repeat this, giving credence to Hildegard’s claim that he’s gone mad.
  • Malicious Slander: Laird tells the very gullible crowd of peasants he assembled that Daria is the cause of all the bad things happening to them because "she's different".
  • Manipulative Bastard: Laird is this with some overlapping (and convoluted) elements of The Chessmaster. For one, he replaces Heath's newborn daughter with his own so that he can torment his brother knowing she would grow up into a spoiled brat, not to mention his own flesh and blood would be heir to the throne. Later, to keep his scheme from being derailed, he manipulates a mob to kill Daria, and publicly convinces everyone that Rollo wants to marry Hildegard.
  • Marry for Love: Rollo feels obligated to marry someone of noble birth to strengthen his kingdom, despite his feelings for Daria. After being dissatisfied with the eligible maidens, however, Heath offers him Hildegard's inheritance so long as he commits to marry the peasant girl he truly loves.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Laird indulges in this frequently.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Laird sends Plague to stop Sebastian to deliver Heath's message to Rollo. As a result, Sebastian lands in a place where the prophecy is fully recorded.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Princess, Fearless and Hungry for Daria, Sir Winthrop for Rollo, and Laird's pet falcon.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: Sebastian has a head of white receding hair as well as white eyebrows.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Of the Pet the Dog variety. Helsa may not be the nicest character in the story. But she objects to her husband killing baby Daria because like her, she too lost her mother to childbirth.
  • Obviously Evil: Laird and Hildegard in both looks and wardrobe.
  • Opening Narration: Provided by Sebastian.
  • Pet the Dog: Helsa isn't exactly a good person, but she did have second thoughts when Laird wanted to switch the two babies, and she didn't want her niece to be harmed.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Daria's three pigs.
  • The Pollyanna: Daria remains cheerful in spite of doing all the chores on the farm as well as taking care of her lazy, verbally abusive step parents.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: Helsa learned of Heath disinheriting Hildegard through this method.
  • Princess Classic: Daria, who is kind, gentle, and talks to animals. She’s even managed to befriend a bear.
  • The Prophecy: It states that the kingdom will fall to ruin after the death of the 18th King (which is Heath). To save the kingdom, the prophecy also states "To reveal the heart of true nobility, place the pea twenty mattresses deep. The Princess true is love and sensitivity, upon such she can never sleep."
  • Rags to Royalty: Of the Sleeping Beauty variety.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rollo delivers one to Laird while chasing him through a booby-trapped dungeon. Laird responds by setting off another trap.
  • Revenge: Laird seeks it on Heath after he became king. Laird was the older son and supposed to inherit the throne, but because of the rule that the first son who enters the throne room during coronation day becomes king, he lost his birthright since Heath walked in while Laird was busy looking for his shoes.
  • Royal Brat: Hildegard.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Rollo and, to an extent, Heath.
  • Say My Name: Rollo shouts Daria's name repeatedly when he tries rescuing her from the forest fire.
  • Scenery Porn: Daria's secret place, which is castle ruins dating back to the time the Princess of legend ruled.
  • Secret Test of Character: The test of having a princess sleep on top of twenty mattresses with a single pea at the bottom. If she can feel the pea beneath the mattresses without knowing it's there beforehand, it means she is the princess of prophecy. Daria passes the test.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: After all the time spent trying to unravel it, the prophecy of the princess and the pea winds up being irrelevant to the final act. Exposing Hildegard as a fraud comes down to the lack of birthmark on her foot, and once that secret's out, Laird takes Daria hostage and immediately announces to everyone that she's the true heir.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Daria and her father, Heath.
  • Snow Means Death: It’s snowing when a messenger tells Laird that his brother’s wife has died and a day of mourning has been issued.
  • Soft Water: Laird and Hildegard fall from the castle into the moat with no ill effects to be seen. Their landing is treated as more of an annoyance than anything. This is especially notable considering Daria has a fairly realistic reaction to nearly falling herself, being absolutely terrified and sure the fall would kill her.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Daria and Hildegard both bear a striking resemblance to their respective birth parents.
  • Switched at Birth: Daria and Hildegard were switched by Laird so that he could get his vengeance on Heath, knowing that Helsa would raise a Royal Brat for a daughter. Meanwhile, Daria was sent to live with pig farmer peasants.
  • Tagline: "Never underestimate the power of a vegetable."
  • Talking Animal: Sebastian, who is a crow.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Laird assembles a mob to kill Daria.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The baby blanket Marianna sews up for her unborn daughter ends up becoming Daria's link to, not only her late mother, but also her only remnant of her royal lineage throughout her lifetime.
  • Twirl of Love:
    • Heath does one to Marianna when he learns she's going to have a baby.
    • A platonic example occurs between Heath and Daria when they discover they’re father and daughter.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: A common criticism of the film is that Heath, Rollo, and Daria are this, simply being “nice” and “good” and that’s about it.
  • Villain Song: "That's What It Takes to Rule". Occurs in the first ten minutes of the movie as Laird prepares for the coronation the following morning.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Hildegard for Rollo, although the only reason she wants to marry him is because he's the prince of a very rich kingdom.
  • Wanderlust Song: "The Wide Open World", sung by Daria as she does chores on the farm.
  • Wedding Smashers: Sebastian and Fearless interrupt Rollo and Hildegard's wedding to prove that Hildegard isn't Heath's real daughter and, thus, not the real princess.
  • Wicked Step Mother: The peasants that raised Daria. They stay in bed all day, make Daria do everything for them including the work around the farm, make her sleep in the chicken coop and verbally abuse her. This is a particularly odd example because both of them are the step parents.

The TV series has examples of:

  • Easily Forgiven: Daria seems to be quite civil towards her foster-parents, and often visits them to help at their farm, despite having abused her for years.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Sebastian's sister, Sabrina. Justified in that they are ravens.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Inverted, the animals get more spotlight than Daria.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Sebastian's sister, Sabrina; this is lampshaded.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Heath, Laird, Helsa and Hildegard don't appear in the sequel TV series at all, and therefore, their fates and whereabouts are unknown. However, it's likely that Heath has either is still governing the kingdom with help of Rollo and his daughter Daria or has retired from being a king and that Rollo and Daria are now governing his kingdom in his absence. As for Laird, Helsa and Hildegard, it's likely that they are either imprisoned in dungeons, banished from the kingdom forever or executed for their crimes of taking over Heath's kingdom.

Alternative Title(s): The Princess And The Pea