No company is as renowned for abusing the “princess in distress” trope, as Disney, with its countless animated movies. When you hear someone utter the words “it’s a Disney cartoon,” you automatically assume it’s going to feature some sort of a love affair. But there’s much more to Disney than love stories like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beats, and the Little Mermaid.
Believe it or not, not every Disney project is about romance, and we can prove it.
1. The Jungle Book (1967)
The story about the boy Mowgli, raised by wolves in the jungle, was inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s novel “The Jungle Book.” While the original story did not have as much singing and dancing as Disney’s version, it also had zero romance. Thankfully, the animated movie focused on the fun parts more than the survival. And yes, there technically is a girl that Mowgli has feelings for, but it’s at the very end, so it doesn’t count.
2. Toy Story (1995)
A story of regular toys being sentient and having their own adventures when humans can’t see them blew up every kid’s mind when it was released in 1995. And while you could argue that Woody and Buzz’s relationship may have some sparkles of romance here and there, it’s certainly not a love story. Toy Story is all about helping your friends overcome life’s hardships together.
3. Big Hero 6 (2014)
Based in part on the 1980s Marvel comic book series of the same name, Big Hero 6 is a great story about the complexities of growing up, as well as how to overcome the loss of loved ones. A love story would never work in such a mournful scenario. Losing a close family member, finishing their life’s work, finding support within a group of new friends who eventually become your family – there’s just no room for romance, and it’s for the better.
4. Dumbo (1941)
This is a story of a baby elephant getting bullied by everyone around while living in a circus with his mother, Jumbo. The little guy is laughed at because of his oversized ears and given the offensive monicker – Dumbo. With a setup like that, it’s not surprising that true friendship and self-confidence are the main themes in this animated movie. If you believe in yourself and your friends supporting you, nothing is impossible. You can even learn to fly if you flap your giant ears hard enough!
5. Brave (2012)
The rebellious Scottish princess Merida dreams of becoming a great archer. She does not accept the restrictions of society and believes in herself. But because of a conflict with her mother, Merida makes a rash choice, and now her father’s kingdom and her mother’s life are in danger. Even though there’s a whole courting scene, it’s made for laughs to show that this girl needs no man. Merida is one of the very few Disney princesses without a love interest.
6. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
The narcissistic young emperor Kuzco turns into a lama because of the intrigues of the former adviser. The only person who could help him return to his own body is a villager, whose settlement Kuzco was going to destroy for a mansion with a swimming pool. The guy is so narcissistic; he only cares about himself and ignores everyone else, at least at the start of this story. Ultimately, the Emperor’s New Groove is about personal growth and trusting your friends.
7. Zootopia (2016)
Zootopia’s story revolves around the rabbit Judy Hops, who graduated from the police academy with honors and now tries her best to become a real police officer. Judy gets assigned to the case of the animals disappearing from the streets and is now ears deep into the convoluted plot. This animated detective comedy touches on many important social topics, including racial profiling, discrimination, tolerance, and mutual respect, in a very accessible way that even a child can understand.
8. Moana (2016)
Somewhere among the picturesque islands of the Pacific Ocean, a teenage girl Moana embarks on a journey to find her true destiny and discover what’s really going on with the local deities. Even though horrifying sea creatures inhabit the endless ocean, the chief’s daughter is strong, independent, and capable of handling these tasks, especially when she is joined by the legendary hero Maui. Moana showed everyone that bravery, hard work, and perseverance are all you need to beat even the worst odds.