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  • Accidental Innuendo: Merida declares her intention to enter the betrothal contest for her "own hand".
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • When Merida is feeding Elinor fish while the latter is turned into a bear, Elinor ends up ignoring her self-made "knife and fork" in favor for eating them predator-style. Was this a funny moment of her loosening up a little and realizing she's a bear for heaven's sake, she doesn't need table manners? Or was it a creepy, early hint of her turning into a bear on the inside? Or perhaps both?
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    • The Witch's nature is a constant source of interpretation. Does she only specialize in bear-related curses? Does she twist what the buyer asks for into giving them a bear curse? Some have theorized that she may be a Trickster Mentor who gave Merida the curse specifically because she knew how the events of the movie would play out. Her appearance on Once Upon a Time goes with this interpretation; she appears to be villainous but it ends up being a Secret Test of Character.
    • Some say that the real villains of the movie are actually the wisps. Everything was on track for the royal family to talk their way through their problems before the spirits intervened, and it was only through ludicrous luck that they all survived the resulting mess before ending up basically where they were before the spell took effect.
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    • One popular interpretation of Merida is that she's not interested in any of the male suitors because she's homosexual. Though controversially, it still rules out her simply not wanting to get married.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Merida herself has become this for a lot of people. Either she's a very believable character with plausible flaws and great Character Development, becoming a wiser person in the process, or a whiny, unsympathetic, selfish and yet another cookie-cutter Tomboy Princess.
    • Elinor on the flipside too. Fans who didn't like Merida see her as a huge woobie dealing with a Bratty Teenage Daughter on top of her Baleful Polymorph, others saw her as the one in the wrong and keeping Merida down for being so overbearing to her before her Character Development.
    • Some people dislike the Witch because they feel she's either not funny, doesn't fit into the rest of the movie (and not in the good way), and wastes a lot of screen time since Merida and Elinor have to go back and forth between her place and the castle. Others found her a One-Scene Wonder.
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    • The triplets. It depends on wether you find their comedic antics funny or annoying.
  • Cliché Storm: The movie is often regarded as this, considering it stars a Rebellious Princess (common in Disney films), although it takes off in a different direction.
  • Crossover Ship:
  • Dork Age: Brave had the difficult task of restoring faith in Pixar after the critical failure of Cars 2; instead it went on to become one of Pixar's most divisive films.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The triplets, crafty little goofballs that they are, have gained a fanbase despite their limited role.
    • Fergus gets a lot of fandom love for being one of the film's most entertaining characters, and for how much he adores his wife and kids. Also, he's voiced by Billy Connolly, which gets him like a million extra points.
    • Shy and adorable Young MacGuffin is the favorite pick for suitor, partially because he was the pick before it was decided Merida wouldn't choose, and partially because he doesn't have obvious personality or appearance flaws (which is probably why he was the one Merida was going to pick).
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: Averted. It was one of the highest grossing animated films of 2012 and stacked up Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscars for Best Animated Feature by the end of award season.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • I Am Not Shazam: "OMG LOOK IT'S BRAVE!"
  • It Was His Sled: Merida unwillingly turns her mother into a bear. What was meant to be a twist, as it was kept a secret in the trailers, is now probably the one thing that anyone talks about when they mention this movie.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Merida has become a victim of this. Fans all over the internet are either making up some Crossover Ship for her, pairing her with their OC, or pairing her up with one of the suitors she outright rejected in the movie.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I don't want to get married! I want to stay single and let my hair flow in the wind as I ride through the glen, firing arrows into the sunset!"
    • if yah had te chance tu change yer fate, wood yeruuu
    • "But mommmm ets jast mah booooooooooooooooooooo"[1]
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Of course Scotland loves this film! It helps that much of the cast are genuinely Scots, and they were encouraged to tweak the dialogue as much as they saw fit, so it certainly sounds authentic.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Fangirls still glorify and adore the super rebellious, feisty, self-centered pre-Character Development Merida of the start. You know, the one that the movie forces to grow up through hardships and learning instead of giving into her whims and portraying her as Flawless Head Bitch In Charge?
    • The flipside is that Elinor pre-transformation gets praised for being an awesome mother cursed with a Bratty Teenage Daughter. While a pretty good queen, Elinor has to learn to stop treating her daughter like a student and actually listen to her.
  • Misaimed Marketing:
    • A large chunk of the movie's Disney Princess merchandise has Merida in the dress her mom forced her in and she practically suffocated in.
    • This is what happened to the marketing, which went out of its way to paint the film as an epic fantasy adventure when in truth, it's a character driven classically styled fairy tale.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Often mockingly compared to Brother Bear courtesy of its harshest critics, which also featured a character turning into a bear and was similarly met with mixed feelings from audiences.
    • Its Oscar win over Wreck-It Ralph and ParaNorman caused many animation fans to turn on not just the Academy – a perennial target for myriad reasons – but also Pixar itself (the fact that the film came on the heels of the Critic-Proof Cars2 didn't help one bit). This was the movie that caused people to start derisively referring to the Best Animated Feature Oscar as the "Obligatory Western Animation/Pixar-Gets-An-Award Award" (or similar).
  • Offending the Creator's Own: A minority of Scottish people (many of them Scots-Americans of distant Scottish ancestry) attacked the film for offensive ethnic stereotypes, despite the number of Scottish actors who enthusiastically took roles in and promoted it. Some also blamed it for the failure of the Scottish made CGI animated feature Sir Billi.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Witch appears very briefly in two scenes, but she's a major catalyst for the film and is really memorable. Mostly because she's hilarious and weird.
  • Rewatch Bonus: A small one, but keep an eye on Elinor as the suitors are introduced. For all her talk about upholding tradition and her insistence on Merida marrying one of the three, you can see she's having at least some reservations along the lines of "this...is not what I was picturing as a man to marry my daughter." Could count as a touch of foreshadowing.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Though Merida is a very flawed person, her detractors tend to exaggerate her faults to the point of making her out to be borderline sociopathic. Most notable is the idea that Merida intentionally set out to poison or mind-control her mother, despite the fact that she did not know what the cake would do beyond a vague notion that it would "change" her, or change her fate. Also widespread is the notion that she could have ended the story instantly by simply apologizing to Elinor sooner, despite the terms of the spell being that they needed to "mend what was broken", indicating that both of them needed to make an effort to rebuild their love, not simply say that they were sorry. People also tend to ignore Elinor's faults in this argument - forgetting the movie stressing that both women were in the wrong.
  • So Okay, It's Average: As the only original film to come out during Pixar's Dork Age from 2011 to 2015, it's mostly slapped with this distinction, that it may not reach the depths of Cars 2, but also doesn't reach the heights of the studio's other work.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: A lot more could've been done with Mor'du. He's a genuinely threatening and scary presence, with an interesting backstory, and there are hints that there's more to him that murderous monster — it's hinted that he genuinely regrets his past actions, and is possibly trying to get himself killed on purpose. Unfortunately, he has nothing to do with the film's actual conflict, so he's mostly just an obstacle. If his story and Merida's had been more intertwined, and his backstory and current situation was explored more, he could've been a truly great Disney villain.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The relationship between Merida and Elinor is often praised as the best thing in the movie. Too bad it got bogged down by the "rebellious princess" stuff and slapstick.
    • Alternatively, an epic adventure that would have given Merida Character Development all the same instead becomes a reskinning of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Brother Bear, but with less creativity than all those films.
  • Trailer Joke Decay: All together now: "Feast yer eyes!"
  • Uncanny Valley: Because of her rather unconventional features compared to other Disney Princesses, Merida's almost completely round face perched on top of a really high neck can invoke this with some viewers.
  • What an Idiot!: Merida decides, for some reason, that poisoning her mother with a cake that was made with magic and by a person she has met only once would be a good idea and not end badly. This happened after the witch tries to talk her out of it.

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