Eleven young, animated women, notable for their royal birth, marriage into royalty, or act of heroism combined with box office success, enter a Hunger Games-style arena. Their goal: a fight to the death.
It would never happen. But if it did, who would come out alive?
Please note that the following list includes only the current official Disney Princess franchise princesses, not every princess that has ever been in a Disney film. Otherwise, Elsa would be there and kick all of their butts (the girl has magic ice powers).
11. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty, 1959)
Aurora’s movie has a special place in my heart as one of the few Disney films to pass the Bechdel test. But that has nothing to do with a fight to the death among princesses, besides the fact that a film about this fight would likely also pass the Bechdel test. Aurora never demonstrates any ability to fight anyone, neither physically nor verbally. She wouldn’t last a day in the arena.
10. Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)
At fourteen years old, Snow White is the youngest and smallest Disney princess, putting her at a bit of a disadvantage against the others. She also has a tendency to slide into meekness at unfortunate moments, like that time her response to getting almost murdered and lost in the woods was to sit down and apologize for making a fuss. But she has the bossiness to put seven set-in-their-ways older men into her servitude, so she could totally take down Aurora if she had to.
9. Jasmine (Aladdin, 1992)
Though she has the gumption and age advantage necessary to fend off a fourteen-year-old, this fifteen-year-old princess has lived her life in a gilded cage being groomed for marriage, not building up her self-defense arsenal. The only thing Jasmine has going for her in terms of physical fighting is her pet tiger, Raja, who while undeniably awesome is not here in the arena to defend her.
8. Cinderella (Cinderella, 1950)
Here we have a princess who has spent several years of her life doing hard physical labor. Though she lacks weapons training, Cinderella could turn the muscles she’s gained from serving her stepfamily towards a fight to the death. The thing holding her back is her complete unwillingness to harm a living creature, not even a mouse in a trap. “Have courage and be kind” is good advice for literally anywhere except a gladiatorial arena.
7. Ariel (The Little Mermaid, 1989)
Ariel was hard to place on this list, because her competence here depends on two things: is she currently a mermaid, and is the arena a watery environment? If both are true, she will dominate, as the most experienced swimmer. But if the answer to either one of those questions is no, she won’t last very long at all. She isn’t as merciful as Cinderella, though.
6. Belle (Beauty and the Beast, 1991)
I know what you’re thinking. Belle’s a bookworm! How could she be this high up on a list of people in a fight to the death? To that I say, yes, Belle is a bookworm, which means she has probably read The Hunger Games and knows what kind of tropes to play up and strings to pull to survive. It wouldn’t help her in hand-to-hand combat, but nerdiness is good for something!
5. Pocahontas (Pocahontas, 1995)
Belle may have read a book about how to survive a hostile environment, but Pocahontas has actually lived and thrived in that hostile environment. Alas, like Cinderella, she is not a willing fighter, but until that moment she tries to get between two fighting parties and dies in the crossfire, she would survive quite well in the arena.
4. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)
Don’t get me wrong; Tiana is plenty kind. But she doesn’t let that get in the way of her beating up someone who deserves it. And if that someone is standing between her and her dreams or her family, god help them. If she had ever been trained with a weapon, she would unquestionably be in the top three.
3. Rapunzel (Tangled, 2010)
Yeah, I know, Rapunzel hasn’t had any weapons training either. But in terms of pure physical strength, no one can top her. She can lift a fully-grown adult by her hair. She knocks people out all the time with her frying pan, but when she accidentally hits herself with the same utensil, she shrugs it off. But all that number one or two on this list would have to do to beat her is get her to promise not to hurt them – Rapunzel never breaks a promise, and that would be her undoing.
2. Merida (Brave, 2012)
People may try to paint all the Disney princesses with the same brush, but there’s one thing that makes Merida truly unique: her lack of moral hang-ups. This is a girl willing to buy a curse for her mother and hold her own father at sword-point to get what she wants. That, and the fact that she’s been training in combat since she was younger than Snow White, would be almost enough to make her win this fight to the death. But she would be up against…
1. Mulan (Mulan, 1998)
People who use the word “honor” to describe Mulan are missing the point. In her film, she is under pressure to bring honor to her family. But that system of honor limits her. Her two biggest war victories are not “honorable” one-on-one hand-to-hand scenarios. They involve her shooting fireworks at people. Mulan has the physical training and capability to hold someone equally strong (or even stronger than her) off until she uses her guile to find a sufficiently over-the-top way to destroy them. And that is why she would win the Disney Princess fight to the death.