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Western Animation / The Swan Princess

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Odette: Will you love me, Derek, until the day I die?
Derek: No. Much longer than that, Odette. Much longer.

Ex-Disney animation director Richard Rich made this animated feature in 1994, which adapts the plot (though not the music) of the ballet Swan Lake.

Odette and Derek are betrothed royalty of neighboring kingdoms, though it isn't until they're grown that they fall in love. Too bad that first, Derek doesn't know what he loves about her besides her beauty, which upsets her, and second, the evil Rothbart — banished from her kingdom years ago for practicing the "Forbidden Arts" — kidnaps her.

When she refuses to marry Rothbart and make him king, he curses her to become a swan during daylight hours and moonless nights. The remorseful Derek seeks and finds her, but with Rothbart staying one step ahead of the lovers — and One-Winged Angel, too — invoking the Curse Escape Clause is not easy, even with Talking Animal friends helping them out.

Distributed by New Line Cinema, the film wasn't a blockbuster. However, it did exceptionally well when it was released on home video, so much so that it spawned multiple sequels, all of which have been Direct to Video. After a 14-year hiatus, a new series of sequels began production, this time being made in CGI instead of 2D animation:

  • The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain (1997)
  • The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Kingdom (1998)
  • The Swan Princess Christmas (2012)
  • The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale (2014)
  • The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today (2016)
  • The Swan Princess: Royally Undercover (2017)
  • The Swan Princess: A Royal Myztery (2018)
  • The Swan Princess: Kingdom of Music (2019)
  • The Swan Princess: A Royal Wedding (2020)
  • The Swan Princess: A Fairytale is Born (2023)

Odette, Derek, and their friends are pitted against such foes as old acquaintances of Rothbart, his ghost, and even The Forbidden Arts themselves in the first four sequels. A Royal Family Tale grants the couple an adopted daughter, Alise, who becomes the protagonist in Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today and Royally Undercover.

And up through the fourth installment, poor Odette keeps getting turned into a swan and back again the whole way.

Exactly 25 years after The Swan Princess premiered in theaters, the franchise's YouTube channel pitched a possible Live-Action Adaptation of the first movie.

This film (and its sequels) contain examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Rothbart is briefly seen performing one-armed pushups during his Villain Song, a nod to Jack Palance doing the same feat at the 64th Academy Awards.
    • A Director Allusion, but during the climactic battle, Derek slashes the Great Animal's shoulder, prompting the beast to angrily look at the injury and get madder. Richard Rich's earlier film, The Fox and the Hound Amos Slade does a similar trick to the bear note , though in that case it was with a gun rather than a sword.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the original ballet, Rothbart has a beautiful daughter named Odile whom he transforms to look like the princess Odette; in the movie, he has an older, ugly Mook who plays this role instead.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Prince Siegfried becomes Prince Derek, his friend, Benno, becomes Bromley, his butler, Wolfgang, becomes Lord Rogers, Baron von Rothbart becomes simply Rothbart, and his daughter Odile becomes his servant Bridget. Also Derek's mother and Odette's father are Named by the Adaptation as Queen Uberta and King William.
  • Adapted Out: Odette's fellow swan-maidens from the ballet are replaced by Jean-Bob, Speed and Puffin.
  • Aerith and Bob: Odette and Derek, thanks to the filmmakers changing Prince Siegfried's name but not Odette's.
  • An Aesop:
    • The first film drops the moral that physical beauty is not a valid reason for romance. No matter how beautiful or how much you might love the other person, if their only value of you lies in how you look, it's not a good idea to continue that relationship. Derek only gets to marry Odette once he proves that he loves her for the person she is, and not her beauty.
      "I love you. Your kindness and courage. I always have, and always will."
    • The second film has the moral that relationships are not perfect, and happily ever after will likely be followed by difficulties. It is however important to work at balancing your other duties with making time for those you love.
  • Age-Progression Song: "This Is My Idea" encapsulates Derek and Odette's childhoods.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: The sequels from 2012 onward are made using three-dimensional computer graphics rather than hand-drawn animation.
  • Almost Dead Guy: In the first film:
    • First King William's captain, then King William himself, courtesy of Sir Rothbart. After the king's carriage is attacked and Odette taken prisoner, the captain manages to stumble all the way back to Derek's kingdom and lives just long enough to tell Derek they were attacked by "a great animal." William himself follows suit when Derek finds him at the scene of the attack, hanging on just long enough to give a cryptic warning that said great animal is "not what it seems". Rothbart gave us two Almost Dead Guys for the price of one! Not bad.
    • Odette herself at the climax. Sir Rothbart has cursed her to die if Derek pledges his love to another woman, then tricked him into doing just that, but the curse is slow enough to take effect that she manages to feebly fly back to the lake in swan form, then exchange a few last words with Derek as she dies in his arms.
  • Alternate Animal Affection: Lt. Puffin has no problems kissing the back of Odette's hand in a very humanlike manner.
  • Amusing Injuries: The animals, fairly often - after they steal the map from the tower, for example. The human characters generally don't get these, with the notable exception of one point in the opening montage where you have the main characters - including Odette - as kids getting involved in a goofy and haphazard accident and cutting away to the group of them in the traditional amusingly exaggerated slings and bandages.
  • Anachronism Stew: The films are supposed to take place (possibly) in Medieval England during the Middle Ages, but features many references and objects that wouldn't have existed until much later.
    • Prince Derek has an air force.
    • Sir Rothbart in boxing clothes during his Villain Song "No More Mr. Nice Guy", and Sir Clavius playing a (magical, understandably) electric guitar and a keyboard.
    • Zelda knows who Cruella and The Wicked Witch of the West are when their respective books were not published until 1956 and 1900 respectively.
    • The clothes: fashion styles range from the Dark Ages to the 1700's, to the 1980's. For example, Queen Uberta’s guards are shown wearing green tailcoats and trousers which didn’t exist until the 1780’s.
    • During the opening song, Derek and Odette are playing poker as teenagers, which didn't exist until sometime in the 1800's.
    • Bromley and Odette both use slingshots (1839 at the very earliest), and Clavius flies a hot air balloon (1782).
    • After Derek's "What else is there?" Rogers imitates a game show's losing buzzer.
    • The Swan Princess Christmas portrays numerous Christmas traditions and themes that wouldn't exist until the 1840s or later, and Rogers invents practical light-bulbs (developed around 1879) to decorate a Christmas tree with!
    • In the second movie, Uberta receives a modern-style greeting card, which wouldn't be invented until the 1850s.
    • The entirety of The Swan Princess: Royally Undercover is a Homage to James Bond, which was created in 1953, and the technology they use resembles modern-day equipment.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Sir Rothbart's plan. He'll continue to turn Odette into a swan every time the moon sets until she agrees to marry him, giving him a legal claim to her father's throne.
  • Animated Musical: Similar to Disney-style, the characters tend to sing about plot events or their emotions.
  • Animation Bump: Most of the character models in the first few CGI films were more stiff and lifeless due to the limited technology. Though these models are still used in the later films, the new characters that are introduced in these films are notably more polished and detailed in comparison. In particular, the older version of Alise seen in Kingdom Of Music is a significant improvement over her younger design in the previous films.
  • Annoying Arrows: Puffin's first entrance is with an arrow through his wing. As soon as it gets taken out and bandaged, he's all better.
  • Anti-Interference Lock Up: Sir Rothbart confines Princess Odette within a well, as transforming her into a swan hasn't stopped her from contacting Prince Derek. With Odette out of the way, Rothbart moves to foist his henchwoman, disguised as Odette, upon Prince Derek. Once Derek proposes to the counterfeit Odette, Rothbart will have the leverage he needs to usurp the kingdom.
  • Arranged Friendship: King William and his friend Queen Uberta each had a child, Princess Odette and Prince Derek respectively, and they decide to try to arrange for them to marry not through an Arranged Marriage, but by having them meet together every summer in the hopes that they would bond and eventually fall in love. While the plan eventually succeeds and they fall in love when they become adults, their adolescent and teenage years are mainly filled with nothing but contempt and squabbling.
  • Arrow Cam: Unfortunately, the arrows don't wobble, as they would in a real situation.
  • Arrow Catch:
    • Derek's skill at this proves vital in the climax when he runs out of his own arrows and Bromley shoots one over to him. The fact that the two had actually practiced this move, and apparently did so every day, makes it a lot easier to swallow.
    • Taken to the max in the second film, where Derek walks into a trap and has several crossbow bolts launched at him, but catches them all in one motion. All that "Practice, Practice, Practice" must've paid off.
  • Artifact Title: In the third film, Derek and Odette are absent for most of the movie, as it puts more focus on the Queen and Rogers' love life. And Odette is only turned into a swan for about forty-five seconds before it's undone, and it's completely unexplained why she was made a swan again. By A Royal Family Tale, Odette doesn't transform at all and instead "The Swan Princess" is how she is referred to in a prophecy. Finally, as of Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today Odette is no longer the series' protagonist, that role having been passed on to her adopted daughter Alise.
  • Award-Bait Song:
  • Back from the Dead:
    • In the first film, Odette is cursed by Rothbart to die near the end, but after Derek kills Rothbart, the spell is broken and she revives.
    • In the second film, Jean-Bob is killed, and Odette tries to revive him under the power of the moonlight as she waits to reverse her transformation; Somehow, this manages to bring him back to life.
    • In the third movie, Odette is killed, but thanks to completely unexplained reasons, our heroine is revived after Rothbart's notes are burned.
    • In the fourth film, Rothbart, the villain of the first film returns as the Big Bad.
  • Badass Boast: During her villain song, Zelda says she'll be worse than the likes of Medusa (The Rescuers), Cruella de Vil (One Hundred and One Dalmatians, a film that was also set in England) and the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz).
  • Bat Scare: Puffin encounters a swarm of bats in the first film - and ends up losing his feathers in the process.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness:
    • Oddly, given that part of the film's moral is "Looks aren't all that matters", the bad guys are ugly and the good guys pretty (though the hag does a Heel–Face Turn at the end which extends to the sequels, thus proving the moral right).
    • Odette's initial rejection of Derek's idea to get married was because he was doing it just because she was beautiful and couldn't think of anything else he liked about her. It's not that her beauty was the problem, but Derek's shallowness. He eventually sees the kindness and courage (inner beauty) underneath it.
  • Beauty Is Best: Princess Odette creates an awkward situation by asking Prince Derek what he likes about her besides her beauty. He asks, "What else is there?"
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Sir Chamberlain in the first film, since Uberta is such a Genki Girl with a Motor Mouth.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Hints of this are in the montage song about them meeting every summer. Despite supposedly disliking Derek, Odette still wants to play with him and Bromley as a child, and Derek's list of complaints about Odette as a teenager includes her flirting with other men. Bromley even points out that he thinks Derek likes Odette during the song and should "fess up".
  • Bewitched Amphibians: An Invoked Trope. Jean-Bob believes he's really a prince cursed into the shape of a frog and needs a princess to kiss him to change him back, but even after Odette kisses him, nothing happens.
  • Big Ham: Uberta
  • Big "NO!":
    • Played for drama in the first film - Odette does this when Derek professes his love to the disguised hag.
    • In the second film, Clavius lets one out when he finds out the magical orb has been stolen.
  • Bitch Slap: In the first sequel, Clavius violently slaps his henchman Knuckles for having failed to kill Prince Derek with his traps. While Knuckles is much younger and bulkier than his boss, it is heavily implied the latter raised the former this way, so it is kinda justified to see a brawny fully grown man covering and shivering in front of an old and still powerless villain.
  • Black Magic: The "Forbidden Arts" to Create, Change, and Destroy.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three lead characters in the first movie; Odette (blonde), Derek (brunet), and Rothbart (redhead).
  • Book Ends: In the first movie, Derek and Odette's first meeting has their respective parents nudging them and prompting them to greet one another. After Odette turns down Derek for only liking her looks, their "final" departure has their parents urge them to say goodbye to each other. Some things never change.
  • Britain: Though not explicitly said or explained, it is the possible setting mainly because some of the characters have British accents. Another clue is that have some characters have English sounding names, such as Chamberlain, Bromley, William, Wesley, Derek, and Rogers (except Odette, Jean Bob, Clavius, and Rothbart, which are French, Latin, and German respectively). Also noted that the clothing of the characters, peasants, knights, and nobles were based off of Medieval England and Renaissance Germany. During the sequence of “Princesses on Parade”, Rogers mentions one of the towns in England called Colchester; he also mentions Lincolnshire in the first sequel.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: "Princesses on Parade" is a big showy pageant put on by Uberta with many chorus girls dancing in synch and lots of spectacle.
  • Butter Face: Bridget as Fake!Odette in the first film, when she reveals her real face to Derek before the rest of her body changes back. Ugh.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bromley in the first film, and Jean-Bob to a lesser extent.
  • Capture and Replicate: Towards the end, Rothbart has Odette locked up as a swan in a dungeon, and turns Bridget into a look-alike of Odette, sending her to trick Prince Derek.
  • Catchphrase: Puffin has "No fear!" which even gets its own song, which itself has reprises through the series. He most often says it to Jean-Bob, who constantly lampshades it throughout the second movie.
    Jean-Bob: Do you know how much that phrase makes me want to hit you?
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: In the first movie Bromley tries cheating twice, first while playing chess with Derek, then during the training session with the band, and he still loses both times.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Derek's bow. When he sees Odette transform from swan to human he tosses it aside and forgets to pick it up before he leaves. Rothbart finds it, tipping him off that Derek was in the garden, and tosses it into the lake. During the climax Puffin remembers that the bow is down there and sends Jean-Bob and Speed to retrieve it so Derek will have something to fight Rothbart with.
  • Chekhov's Skill: "Catch and Fire", in which Bromley shoots an arrow at Derek's back and Derek turns around, catches the arrow, and fires it at a different target. This teamwork kills Rothbart.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: As part of their arranged marriage, Derek and Odette spent every summer together from the time they were young children, right up until adulthood. They start off somewhat roughly, due to being, well, kids, and thus not having any real desire to form a romantic attraction, but they do become closer (though begrudgingly so) over time.
  • Christmas Special: The fourth film has "Christmas spirit" as a plot point.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In the first movie, Derek blinds Rothbart with a lump of mud, smashes a rock into Rothbart's talon and when disarmed grabs a stick and starts flailing at him.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: In the second film, the villain's lair is in a volcano, with a moat of boiling lava surrounding it. The only way to cross the moat is in a small wooden box pulled along by a rope and pulley system-all parts of which should easily have been incinerated within moments of exposure to the heat rising off the lava. Also, at the end there is a great deal of frothing, exploding lava being tossed about-sometimes within millimeters of the heroes, and filling up the space directly below them completely-and none of them get even slightly scorched.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Speed; he's an old turtle, but wise and heroic.
    • Puffin, too. He's of particular help to Odette since he's able to accompany her more conveniently than their non-flying friends.
    • Lord Rogers, the court's head musician and valet who also serves as Derek's advisor.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • Ever so slightly. The DVD cover seems to have a much different character design for Derek, mostly making his hair look more manly.
    • The DVD cover for the second movie has King William standing near Queen Uberta, despite the fact Rothbart killed King William in the first movie.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Bromley, Derek's best friend. He can be relied on to assist and follow Derek until things get dangerous.
  • Curse Escape Clause: If Derek can make a vow of love to Odette and prove it to the world, that will be enough to break the curse. Rothbart is sharp enough to build a condition into the first half of this: Odette will die if the vow is subsequently made to another woman...fulfilling the second half can still save the day, but it turns out to require killing Rothbart, aka the Great Animal.
  • Damsel in Distress: Odette. Justified in that the Curse Escape Clause for Rothbart's spell explicitly prevents her from breaking it on her own. However, this doesn't stop her from breaking into Rothbart's castle to steal a map, tracking Derek down and leading him to the lake so she can transform back and explain the curse and its escape clause to him, and later escaping Rothbart's dungeon and flying to Derek's castle to warn him about the impostor who's taken her place.
  • Dartboard of Hate: During the Arranged Friendship song, we see Derek in his room shooting arrows at a picture of Odette.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Rogers delivers most of the best lines in the movies as this.
      Rogers: You should write a book: How to Offend Women in 5 Syllables or Less.
    • Jean-Bob is also a prime example.
      Jean-Bob: Mad? Why should I be mad? I enjoy hanging on for dear life! Next to snorkeling, it's one of my favorite activities!
    • Speed has fewer lines but is voiced by Steven Wright in the first film so deadpan one-liners are expected.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Jean-Bob fails to think of how he's going to return to shore after retrieving the flowers for Odette. It's lampshaded by Speed.
    Speed: Just curious, how are you going to get back?
    Jean-Bob: *Oh, Crap! expression*
  • Disappeared Dad: It is mentioned in the prologue that Uberta was a widow, so Derek's dad is assumed to be dead. The original ballet even has her character as a Queen Mum sort of figure, only ruling as Sovereign Princess until her son is able to take a wife.
  • Disney Death:
    • Odette gets a fake-out death in the first film, but later comes back to life after Rothbart is killed and Derek makes it clear that he truly loves her. It happens to her again in the third film, with her recovery happening after Rothbart's notes used by Zelda are destroyed.
    • Jean-Bob gets a temporary death in the second film and recovers thanks to Odette.
  • Disneyesque: The film is not by Disney, but its art style and penchant for musical numbers would make it understandable to mistake it for being so.
  • Disneyfication/Lighter and Softer: The script changes to allow a happier ending are understandable, given that the original ballet had a Downer Ending.
  • Distant Duet: "Far Longer Than Forever".
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Lucas in Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today goes barefoot.
  • Dub Name Change: The French version changes many names: Arthur (Derek), Juliette (Odette), Albéric (Rothbart), Aldo (Jean-Bob, who becomes Italian to Keep It Foreign), Rapido (Speed), Capitaine Anatole (Lt. Puffin), Melchior (Rogers), Barnabé (Bromley).
  • Duck!: Done during the song "Practice, Practice, Practice" when Derek launches (harmless) arrows at a group of servants acting as targets. Cue the musician dressed as a duck popping his head up to say "Yes?" and then getting hit.
  • Dumb Muscle: Knuckles from the second film is physically strong but so dimwitted and weak-willed that his captive turns him into her servant.
  • Easily Forgiven: Odette initially calls off the marriage on account of Derek's shallow praise for her beauty, but this issue is quickly tossed aside. His dedication to finding her after everyone believed her dead could have served to overcome this, but she's still singing about their "unshakable bond" without ever realizing he's even looking.
  • Epic Fail:
    • When Odette confronts Derek about what else he likes about her other than her beauty, his response is a bewildered "What else is there?". This is thorougly lampshaded by Rogers later, who tells him he should write a book on "how to insult a woman with five syllables or less."
    • Bromley fails spectacularly at helping Derek cheat at poker; and then Derek beats him at chess even as Bromley is actively cheating against him. And then finally, his spectacularly failed efforts at archery, where he tricks Rogers into thinking that he scored higher than Derek by shooting the guy in the rabbit suit, only for Derek to reveal he scored higher anyway from having scored a legitimate shot on the rabbit.
  • Everyone Can See It: By the time they're teenagers, Bromley is teasing Derek about his feelings for Odette, and the entire village around the castle is singing about how they can't wait for the wedding.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Absolutely no one, not even Derek's own mother, can believe how badly he botched things with Odette when she asked him if he only cared about her looks.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Rothbart in the first movie, Clavius in the second one, and Zelda in the third; all of them use the Forbidden Arts for wicked intentions.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Jean-Bob's attempts to become a prince always fail; even when he gets it, he is quickly turned back.
  • Feather Fingers: Both Puffin and Odette as a swan can use their wings as hands.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • Odette turning into a Swan is primary and most famous of all examples from the series.
    • Rothbart's Villain Song implies that he wants to do this - he turns people into an ostrich, lizard, pig, and an ape during the song.
    • Uberta in the second movie, where Sir Clavius transforms her into various animals to shut her up; it fails miserably.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Young Derek gives baby Odette a locket with a swan on it, and when they grow into young adults, he compares her to The Ugly Duckling who "somehow suddenly became a swan." Later in the movie, she's cursed to become a swan each time the moon sets.
    • When Rothbart attempts to take William's kingdom the first time, his magic takes on the shape of the Great Animal.
  • French Jerk: Jean-Bob, who has an outrageous French accent (hey, he's voiced by John Cleese) and is shown to be the most selfish, insufferable, and full-of-himself of Odette's animal companions. He does have a good heart underneath it all.
  • Freudian Excuse: In the first sequel Uberta tries to get Sir Clavius to talk about how he was raised and if his parents neglected him. Clavius just wants her to shut up.
  • Fur Is Clothing: In the first film, Puffin rolls up the feathers on his wing as if they were a sleeve when he recovers from having an arrow in it and later covers himself in embarrassment when he loses his feathers during the "No Fear" musical number.
  • Genki Girl: Queen Uberta, so much energy despite her old age!
  • Got Volunteered: Jean-Bob by Odette in the song "No Fear". Our team is shy one green web-footed "volunteer"!
  • Graceful in Their Element: Speed the turtle is quite slow on land, which proves something of a hindrance through much of the first movie. When the action moves underwater, however, he more than lives up to his name, easily swimming circles around Rothbart's crocodiles.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Odette is the traditional sweet and innocent princess with long blonde hair.
  • Happily Married: Derek and Odette, at the very end of the first film and in the sequels. Though they have problems (such as Derek spending so much time on his royal duties that he neglects his marriage) they work through them and show each other affection.
  • Hate at First Sight: Odette and Derek almost immediately upon seeing each other as children, though that may have had more than a little to do with their parents pushy hints about their futures together, and the fact that little boys and girls don't usually like being forced to play together. They grow out of it, eventually.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Bridget, Sir Rothbart's hag sidekick at the end of the first movie. Apparently Sir Chamberlain had something to do with it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the third movie, when Odette tries to escape, Zelda responds by turning Odette into a swan and trapping her inside a magical barrier that will vaporize anything that touches it. Later, Zelda is destroyed when she is thrown at said barrier.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Rothbart's sidekick Bridget is a subversion. She spends most of the film either dealing with the animals or wordlessly supporting Rothbart's decisions, but, when he turns her into an exact copy of Odette (save for a black and red dress) her acting is perfect.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Rothbart; despite his own transformation abilities, he apparently never thinks to just disguise himself as King William or just marry a fake Odette. Although given his Pragmatic Villainy it's likely he sees such tactics as just as flawed as using his powers to take the kingdom for himself, reasoning he'd spend the rest of his life having to keep up the charade while worrying about being exposed.
    • Derek frequently gets handed this; between his completely inept answer to Odette's question of his love for her, hunting random wild animals without any discernible means by which to identify them as the Great Animal, or his failure to burn the notes to the Forbidden Arts in the third film for no other reason than he wanted to wait until after a festival, it's a wonder how Derek manages an entire kingdom.
  • I Have to Wash My Hair: Odette tries to delay leaving for Derek's kingdom by saying "I haven't packed or washed my hair!"
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Rothbart won't lift the curse unless Odette marries him.
  • Improvised Imprisonment: Odette in swan form manages to attract the notice of her rescuer, Prince Derek. Seeing that Odette is too clever to be allowed freedom, Rothbart confines her to the bottom of a well, where she won't have enough wing clearance to attain flight.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Used as a gag at the end, when Jean-Bob believes he's human. The human reflection he sees (actually just a guy standing behind him) looks like John Cleese.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Odette is cursed to turn into a swan, temporarily becoming human again when the moon is out and becoming a swan once more when the sun rises.
    • Exploited in the second film; Odette, trapped inside the castle with Clavius seconds from bursting through the door, asks Bridget to transform her into a swan so she can escape through the window and warn Derek before he falls into one of Knuckles' traps. To be fair, Bridget warns Odette she may not be skilled enough to also change Odette back.
  • I Owe You My Life: After she takes the arrow out of his wing, Lt. Puffin vows service to Odette.
  • Ironic Echo: The song "This is My Idea" is made of this. Particularly Odette's line, "So happy to be here...", which was initially sarcasm but becomes sincere later.
  • Ironic Nickname: Speed, the turtle. Subverted; while Speed is pokey on land, he's a blindingly fast swimmer.note 
  • It Only Works Once: Firing an arrow into Rothbart's heart killed him in the first movie, but in the Christmas Special, when Rothbart assumes his One-Winged Angel form again, not even throwing a knife could kill him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jean-Bob, definitely. He may be pompous and delusional, but he has a good heart deep down.
  • "Kick Me" Prank: Rothbart is shown putting a "Kick Me" sign on Queen Uberta's backside near the end of his Villain Song "No More Mr. Nice Guy".
  • Large Ham: Rothbart is gonna "BOIL OVER!" Seriously, between his villain song, his dramatic revenge vow and his habit of illustrating his words with illusions, he has a big presence
  • Legend Fades to Myth: It turns out that Odette and Derek's story has become famous in the world at large, with the various countries having told and retold it. Unfortunatly, the story was changed in the retelling, giving rise to a version that bares a marked resemblance to the ballet.
  • Lovable Coward: Bromley, and to a lesser extent, Jean-Bob are both friendly cowards. However, both come through when push comes to shove.
  • Love Epiphany: Odette and Derek meet up every summer ever since they were little kids, and show nothing but contempt for each other. Once they both grow up, however... "It's you I've been dreaming of......"
  • Love Theme: "Far Longer Than Forever", Derek and Odette's musical pledge to find their way back to each other.
  • MacGuffin Melee: Has one between Puffin, Speed and Jean-bob, against Bridget over a map of the area, which ends with them playing baseball, football, and hockey with it.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The first film shows Odette and Derek as children when they first meet each other.
  • Missing Mom: Odette's mother is never seen. The only mention we get of her is the phrase "and to him a daughter was born", so she may have died during the birth.
  • Mistaken Declaration of Love: Rothbart disguises his henchwoman as Odette so Derek will do this and trigger the lethal condition in the curse he put on Odette.
  • Mistaken for Transformed: After Prince Derek finally figures out King William's dying description of the thing that attacked him and took Princess Odette ("a great animal... not what it seems...") means it was a transforming animal, he goes out on its hunt. Of course, lacking any additional clues, he sees a swan and instantly assumes that it must be the Great Animal and tries to kill it, not knowing that the swan is a cursed Princess Odette.
  • Monster in the Moat: There are crocodiles in the moat of Rothbart's castle, which Lt. Puffin, Speed the turtle, and Jean-Bob the frog have to evade in order to rescue Odette.
  • Montage Ends the VHS:
    • The first movie's original VHS tapes end with a Video Full of Film Clips for the second end credits song, Dreams Come True's "Eternity". Nest's Collector's Edition VHS also included a 30-minute documentary about the movie, a shortened version of which later appeared on the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray.
    • The first VHS of The Mystery of the Enchanted Kingdom ended by replaying three of the songs with Follow the Bouncing Ball subtitles.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Derek has at least one such moment in the first three movies; 1) When he is tricked into professing his love to the wrong woman by Rothbart and thus triggering Odette's untimely death, 2) When he fails to be there for his mother before she is kidnapped by Clavius in the second movie, and 3) When Zelda steals the notes to the Forbidden Arts after Derek fails to destroy them promptly, a mistake that again leads to Odette's death at Zelda's hands later.
  • Mythology Gag: Characters in the sequels refer to the lake outside Derek's and Odette's castle (originally Rothbart's) as Swan Lake, apparently named for everything that happened.
    • The story of Odette and Derek spreads by word of mouth throughout the various countries over the years the sequels cover. The version of it that eventually gets back to them bears a striking resemblance to the original ballet.
  • Never Say "Die": In the first film, after her disappearance it's implied everyone believes Odette was killed, but they only ever refer to her as being "gone" or "not coming back". Poor King William, who did die, is never mentioned again. It's averted with Rothbart, who flat out says Odette will die if Derek makes the vow of everlasting love to someone else, and then again with Derek; "Don't you dare let her die!"
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The two gators that live in the moat connected to Swan Lake.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailer of Swan Princess 3 shows Rogers falling from a spatial height towards the Earth, implying that something of epic proportion will happen. Sadly, it's just a part of a Disney Acid Sequence.
    • One trailer for the original movie states that Odette is kidnapped "right before (her and Derek's) wedding", when in the movie their engagement is cancelled.
  • No Flow in CGI: Averted and played straight in the CGI sequels - Bridget, Bromley, and background characters all have flat rubbery hairstyles that are short or kept tied up, but Odette has individually animated strands of hair, and Roger, Uberta, Derek, and Rothbart have hair that's flat but bounces and shifts.
  • No Name Given: Rothbart's hag sidekick in the first movie. In the sequels her name is revealed to be Bridget.
  • Obviously Evil: You'd think that Derek would notice Bridget's disguise, considering he's known Odette his whole life to dress in white, whereas Bridget is wearing an Obviously Evil red/black outfit.
  • Off-Model: Happens a few times, mostly due to budget constraints:
    • In the first film, Derek's mouth gets progressively larger and larger. If you're paying attention, he starts to look... odd.
    • In the third one, Odette is constantly switching back and forth between wearing a white and green tight dress, a white and green puffy sleeved dress, and a blue palette swap of the latter, all within the same scenes.
  • Once per Episode: Up until the fourth film, Odette is turned into a swan.
  • One-Winged Angel: Rothbart's "final boss fight" form is a monstrous bat. This makes it ok for Derek to kill him with an arrow to the heart.
  • Overused Running Gag: Puffin's overuse of the phrase, "No Fear!" during the first two movies constantly annoys Jean-Bob, until he finally threatens to tear Puffin's beak off if he says it again.
  • Parental Abandonment: Odette's mother and Derek's father initially; the former's father dies after Rothbart attacks the carriage to kidnap her.
  • Parents Suck at Matchmaking: Odette and Derek were bethroted when she was still a baby in order to unit their neighbouring kingdoms. Their parents forced them to spend every summer together, deaf to their children's protests and their obvious dislike of each other. Subverted when both eventually came to like each other when they became grown-ups, but double subverted that Derek was unable to say what did he love in Odette besides her beauty. She firmly calls the marriage off and her father accepts the defeat gracefully.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Zigzagged. "Long before they met / Derek and Odette / Were destined to be wedded…" William and Uberta have the pair spend every summer together in the hope that they'll fall in love by the time they're old enough to marry. Initially, this backfires; Derek and Odette clearly don't get along and try their best to get out of seeing each other. However, meeting again as adults, they both realize that the other really is the person of their dreams. Then Odette calls off the marriage when Derek can only come up with beauty as a reason to love her. They finally marry at the end of the first movie, and the sequels show they are quite happy together, the occasional disagreement notwithstanding.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • Rothbart's initial plan to marry Odette has one big plot hole in it...marrying a mere princess would normally strip her of her own royalty, not elevate her husband. Even if the throne could be inherited by a woman, Odette would normally have to already be installed as Queen for her to marry beneath her station without consequence, and even then, Rothbart would normally be a prince-consort, not a king.note 
    • King William and Queen Uberta arrange Derek and Odette's betrothal in the hopes that they fall in love before they marry, and they reluctantly allow Odette to call off the engagement when she is dissatisfied with Derek's first shallow declaration of love. Odette would traditionally not have had the freedom to do this in an actual Arranged Marriage, particularly a royal one with political benefits, so she and Derek would most likely be married regardless of whether they loved each other or not.
  • The Power of Love: The Curse Escape Clause depends on a "vow of everlasting love"
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Rothbart goes the And Now You Must Marry Me route with Odette instead of outright conquering her kingdom because he tried the latter plan once before. Not only did it not work, if he did conquer the kingdom, he'd have to spend the rest of his life keeping it conquered. Marrying Odette would give him an indisputable legal claim to the throne, solving both of those problems. Once he realizes Odette has managed to enlist Derek's help in breaking her Forced Transformation curse, however, Rothbart scraps the ruined marriage plan and reverts to his earlier "conquer by force" strategy, starting with killing both Odette and Derek so they can't oppose him.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Toodle-oo!" It doesn't work.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Jean-Bob thinks a daring deed to retrieve flowers will impress Odette enough to kiss him. Speed quietly thinks this is funny.
  • Princesses Rule: In the first movie, Uberta mentions that she intends for Derek to become king as soon as he takes a wife, and Derek calls Odette his "future queen." In the sequels, however, Derek and Odette are still referred to as a prince and princess even after they're married and Derek has taken over running the kingdom completely.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Pulled off literally by Zelda as she writes the ransom letter in the third movie.
    Dear Prince Derek, I have kidnapped your sweet Odette, PERIOD!
    If you want to see her alive again, COMMA!, then meet me at the mouth of the western river with the missing section of Rothbart's notes!
  • Quicksand Sucks: In the second movie, while Derek is swinging over a deep pit in a swamp, Knuckles cuts the vine and Derek falls in. Knuckles then just sits and watches as Derek pleads for his life, all the while being swallowed alive by the bog. Fortunately for him, Odette (now in swan form for the time being) shows up and pulls him out just before he can go completely under.
  • Rejected Marriage Proposal: Two in the first movie.
    • Derek announces publicly he wants to marry Odette after seeing She Is All Grown Up, which is what both their parents had hoped for ever since they were children. However, Odette doesn't immediately accept, as she wants to know why Derek wants to marry her. When Derek goofs and accidentally insinuates he's mostly interested in her beauty, she rejects him because she wants him to love her for herself. Eventually, Derek is able to prove his love for her is genuine and they get married.
    • Rothbart kidnaps Odette and proposes every night that they marry, so he can legally take over her late father's kingdom. Odette vehemently refuses each time (not least because Rothbart killed her father), even when Rothbart curses her to turn into a swan.
  • Remaster: In 2019, the first movie's 25th anniversary prompted a 4K digital release, the first theatrical hand-drawn movie outside of Disney's Renaissance-era library available in so high a resolution.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Though he had Bridget as a minor helper, the original film shows Rothbart mastering the Forbidden Arts alone. The second and third film introduced Clavius and Zelda, respectively, as his old partners who helped him master them. The fifth film then establishes that the Forbidden Arts themselves are a sentient, otherworldly being that promised Rothbart great power in exchange for his help.
  • Running Gag: Uberta's "lip" thing whenever she begins to cry.
  • Same Clothes, Different Year: Derek wears the same blue tunic black legging combo from child to adult in "This Is my Idea" contrast to Odette who has various different outfits growing up.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Lord Rogers and Queen Uberta, who are also a Beta Couple, fit the trope as Uberta has a great deal of energy for her many plans and Rogers is more comfortable snarking at them and her while also being dragged in to help (she's his boss, after all).
  • Say My Name: Derek and Odette rival Jack and Rose for the number of times they say each other's names in general, but Derek is especially prone to shouting Odette's name in anguish when she's missing or in danger.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: At least three of the five movies end with Derek and Odette kissing, then the camera zooming out.
  • Series Continuity Error: The first film implies that Uberta is only reigning as Derek's regent and that Derek will assume the throne as soon as he marries; she remarks before the ball that soon "the kingdom will have a king again." This is explicitly the case in the original ballet. But come the sequels, Uberta is still queen, while Derek and Odette are still a prince and princess.
  • Shifted to CGI: Starting with the Christmas Special The Swan Princess Christmas, the series shifted from traditional to CGI. This also caused a slight Art Shift. The original films are Disneyesque while the newer films don't match Disney's CGI styled films.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During Rothbart's Villain Song, he is shown doing one-handed pushups. Rothbart was voiced by the late Jack Palance, who a few years earlier won the Academy Award for City Slickers, and as a humorous Take That! at those who would think he had only won as a consolation for losing his previous two nominations, demonstrated his fitness at the age of 73 by dropping to the floor to do a series of one-handed pushups.
    • Pre-teen Odette strangely looks like Pippi Longstocking.
    • Jean-Bob's delusional claims of being a prince are clearly a homage to The Frog Prince; assuming such a story exists in this universe, perhaps this is what led to him believing that this was the case.
    • The alligators vaguely resemble the alligator from All Dogs Go to Heaven.
    • In The Swan Princess Christmas, While being aggressive and competitive with each other, due to Rothbart's spell, Queen Uberta and Lord Rogers battle against each other using lightsticks as lightsabers.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Clavius' singing voice during "You've gotta love it!" in the second movie sounds much younger than his speaking one.
  • Sissy Villain; Surprisingly, Rothbart isn't that much of a threat when in human form, spending most of the film waiting around for Odette to profess her love for him instead of using his abilities to wreak havoc on the kingdom. When he becomes the Great Animal, however, the effect is frightening.
  • Skewed Priorities: Uberta spends much too much of her time imprisoned in the second movie complaining about how the villains have intruded on her birthday and somehow expects them to cater to her every wish and demand, cake and presents and all, even when Clavius spells out that she is his hostage.
  • Skyward Scream: Derek when confronting Rothbart.
    Rothbart: There's no need to shout.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Averted in that the only two we seeing playing are Derek and Bromley. The former, while not stupid, is not the sharpest sword in the armory, and the latter loses while cheating.
  • Species Surname: Lieutenant Puffin. The almost-certainly-not-canon-but-still-extant bonus features on the most DVD claim that his parents were so proud of being puffins they simply named him "Puffin".
  • Stab the Picture: Teenaged Derek shoots arrows at a picture of Odette, at that point still terribly annoyed with his upcoming Arranged Marriage with her.
  • State Visit: The first movie starts with a series of visits from King William to Queen Uberta to try to get their children to fall in love for a political marriage.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Rothbart has enough power to simply take King William's kingdom for himself, and Odette flat out tells him this. He argues that "Once you steal something, you spend your whole life fighting to keep it."
  • Stock Footage:
    • Every closeup of Derek and Odette kissing looks the same, except for some changes in the background and/or costumes. This doubles as an Every Episode Ending.
    • Odette often changes from a swan into a human through stock footage.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Defied by Odette. Much to Rothbart's frustration, she doesn't warm up to him in any way, and his plan to become king through marriage stalls.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Describing the thing that killed everybody and stole the princess as "a great animal" is not much help. At least King William provides some help ("it's not what it seems", which Derek manages to deduce meant a shape-shifter), but it still leaves Derek with no clue of where to start looking, and as such almost accidentally kills Odette.
  • Swans A-Swimming: Odette is turned into a swan in each film in the original trilogy.
  • Talking Animal: Puffin, Speedy and Jean Bob (and technically Odette), though the series is rather inconsistent with this. In the first movie, the three of them can talk to Odette even when she's human, other humans apparently can't understand them nor Odette when she is in swan form. In the second and third movies, however, the animals can all talk freely to anyone.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Derek's response to Odette's question of his affections for her might as well be the poster child for this trope; when questioned of whether beauty is all that matters to him, he just blurts out "What else is there?" He didn't have a clue what he was saying until the damage had already been done, and Lord Rogers is quick to mock him for it.
  • This Was Her True Form: Even though Odette doesn't land in the lake after Derek's vow to Bridget starts killing her, she still turns human to share "final" words with Derek.
  • Time Skip: The gaps between each film is usually not explicitly stated, though there are a few exceptions.
    • The second instalment begins on Odette and Derek's first anniversary, placing it one year after the ending of the first film.
    • The ninth instalment, Kingdom Of Music, takes place several years after its direct predecessor, A Royal MyZstery, with Alise and Lucas both being in their mid-to-late teens.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • King William banishing Rothbart instead of executing him, a decision he would pay dearly for years later. The opening narration lampshades this, stating that many of William's subjects felt the punishment was too kind.
    • Uberta in the second film, who is much too focused on her birthday to let the fact that she's being held against her will bother her in the slightest. While she isn't killed, Clavis is fighting a very strong urge to do so.
  • Training Montage: "Practice, Practice, Practice" is a musical number built around Derek's archery practice.
  • Transformation Discretion Shot:
    • Odette can only transform back into a human when the moon is shining on the lake. Whenever the transformation occurs, it's always obscured by water swirling around her body until it's finished.
    • Meanwhile, Rothbart's shapeshifting is triggered by flinging a magical spell to the ground and enveloping his body in bright yellow light before reappearing as the Great Animal, a giant bat-like creature.
  • Transformation Sequence: Odette's back-and-forth transformations, where the water gracefully swirls around her, obscuring her actual change.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: "Not you, Wesley! You're a rrrabbit, for heaven's sake!"
  • The Unintelligible: Bridget, who save for one or two lines never speaks clearly, usually just expressions of surprise or intrigue. This is averted in the sequels where she speaks primitive but clear English.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Jean-Bob being briefly turned into a prince in the second film by a random blast of Clavius' magic. Even with the chaos of the ongoing battle duly noted, it's still impressive that nobody took notice of this, which frustrates Jean-Bob to no end later.
  • Upgrade Artifact: The magic orb that has the power of granting perfect mastery of all three disciplines of the Forbidden Arts - Creation, Change, and Destruction.
  • Villainous Legacy: Rothbart in the first two sequels, and the Forbidden Arts as a whole.
  • Villainous Vow: Rothbart. Upon being banished from the kingdom, he vows that everything King William knows and loves will be his one day.
  • Villain Song:
    • The first film has Rothbart sing "No More Mr. Nice Guy", where he revels in being the bad guy and gloats about his scheme to ruin everything by tricking Derek with Bridget disguised as Odette.
    • Sir Clavius sings "Ya Gotta Love It" in the second film, where he describes the rush he gets from being evil and all the evil deeds he plans to do.
    • "Nothing but Bad Days Ahead" in the third film is Zelda's Villain Song and has her sing about what she plans to do with her power.
  • Warrior vs. Sorcerer: The first three movies have Badass Normal Warrior Prince Derek taking on an evil wizard or witch who is threatening his lover or his kingdom.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Or rather William and Odette's entire kingdom; nothing is said of how they are managing with the death of their king, or if theirs and Derek's kingdoms ever united as one when he and Odette finally wed.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Downplayed and Played for Laughs in the first film. After Odette calls off the wedding, Rogers gives Derek an earful on just how badly he screwed up.
    Rogers: "What else is there?"? She says, "Is beauty all that matters?", and you say, "What else is there?"!?
    Derek: It was dumb, I know!
    Rogers: You should write a book; How to Offend Women in Five Syllables or Less.
  • William Telling: This is one of the training methods employed by Prince Derek, only the Plucky Comic Relief shoots the arrow, and Derek is supposed to turn and catch it.
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • It is zigzagged with the original couple; when Derek and Odette meet again as young adults, they're equally smitten with each other despite all their time complaining about how immature and annoying the other used to be. When Derek announces he plans to marry Odette and gives no reason besides her beauty, she calls the marriage off because she wasn't going to marry someone who named good looks as the only attractive thing about her. However, Derek then reveals in a later scene that he loved her before he noticed she was beautiful, but didn't know how to express that, and goes to great lengths to prove how he feels. Then in the sequels, Derek is repeatedly portrayed as wrong to the point where the theme of the third could be summed up as "listen to your wife because she's always right." Rogers even says that "apologizing" is something men just do, similar to hunting.
    • It is not the case with Alise and Lucas. They take turns holding the Smart Ball.
  • Workaholic: The second movie shows Derek so busy with his royal duties that he and Odette don't have much time for romantic activities, not even on their first anniversary.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Derek has to fight Rothbart, who transforms into the Great Animal. During the fight, the Great Animal attacks Derek to the ground and breaks his sword.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In Escape from Castle Mountain, Uberta is said to be 50, but she looked the same at the start of the first film where she would have been around 30. Maybe her hair went gray prematurely.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: A blast from the Forbidden Arts in the second movie turns Jean-Bob into a human prince, but another blast turns him back into a frog. No one he tells this to later believes him.
  • Youthful Freckles: In an unusually literal example, Odette had freckles, for just one summer while she was a tomboy. Once she grew into a more elegant, feminine woman the freckles were gone again.
  • Yo Yo Plot Point: The first three films have Odette turned into a swan somehow at some point and also has Rothbart or one of his Forbidden Arts associates trying to take over.

What else is there?


Video Example(s):


Odette and Derek

King William and his friend Queen Uberta each had a child, Princess Odette and Prince Derek respectively, and they decide to try to arrange for them to marry not through an Arranged Marriage, but by having them meet together every summer in the hopes that they would bond and eventually fall in love. While the plan eventually succeeds and they fall in love when they become adults, their adolescent and teenage years are mainly filled with nothing but contempt and squabbling.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArrangedFriendship

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