Seeing the glitz and glam of the real-life royal lifestyle is just too much fun. Which is probably why people love Royal Weddings. But as much fun as it is to imagine living like an IRL royal, it’s pretty fun to look into the lives of fictional princesses as well. TV and film are full of princesses, from the absolutely classic to the classically badass. There’s no lack of diversity among the ladies that light up our screens with their unwavering royal presence, either.
Fictional princesses don’t exactly follow all the royal rules. And that’s why we love them! As regal and dignified as England’s royalty may seem, the fake kind seems a bit more exciting. These princesses are independent, forward-thinking, and most of the time, don’t need any man to solidify their status. We’re not going to lie — we’d rather be these out-of-the-box princesses than marry a prince any day! Here are our very favorite princesses from TV and movies!
17. Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, Wonder Woman
Considering all of the amazing things Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) does, it’s easy to forget that she’s also a princess! Her official title is Princess Diana of Themyscira, leading the Amazons with her mother, the Queen. While she leaves her homeland to help, you know, save the universe and everything, she’s always highly regarded on the island of Themyscira and acts as an ambassador between the island the rest of the world. She’s one of the most badass princesses of all time — you’ll never catch her carrying a dainty umbrella unless it’s also a sword!
16. Rosalinda Maria Montoya Fiore, Princess Protection Program
What if a high school girl was actually a famed Princess? That’s what Princess Protection Program starts with when Demi Lovato steps into the royal spotlight. Princess Rosalinda is almost captured in a coup effort but is instead saved and sent to Louisiana to live with Selena Gomez and act like a normal teen while everyone tries to figure out the political strife in her home country. Pretty heavy for a Disney Channel Original Movie! But Rosalinda, a.k.a Rosie is no victim. She’s fierce and loyal and will do anything for the people she cares about. She’s also leagues more mature than she has any right to be as a teen, tbh!
15. Ariel, The Little Mermaid
This wouldn’t be a list of princesses without some Disney princesses in the mix! Ariel (Jodi Benson) is the de facto Princess of the Ocean and basically the most curious thing in the water. Her spunk, curiosity, and complete fearlessness are just a few of the reasons we absolutely love Ariel. She’s one of the most authentic Disney princesses — though we will see it’s a bit sketchy that she gives up her voice for some dude! Then again, she has her love story, but the biggest love of Ariel’s is the mysteries the world beyond her little bubble hold. And that’s pretty incredible!
14. Mary Stuart, Reign
While Mary (Adelaide Kane) is based on the real-life Mary Queen of Scots, we’re pretty sure this The CW retelling isn’t the most accurate representation of the Scottish royal life. But this version of the Princess-turned-Queen is infinitely more exciting. The most enticing thing about the fake Mary and the real Mary is her unwavering strength at such a young age. She deals with assassination attempts and arranged marriages with dignity and grace. At 16, we could barely go to the mall without acting a fool, so the fact that Mary could rule a country is impressive. We’ll try not to think about how the real Mary Queen of Scots died, though.
13. Princess Vespa, Spaceballs
Spaceballs parodied Star Wars so well that you know they had to have their own version of Princess Leia. They found that in the Leia-like, stubborn, and spoiled Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga). Much like her inspiration, she’s very free-thinking, and totally into finding her own way. She realizes she doesn’t want to marry the Prince she’s arranged to be with and finds her real true love. Through dumb luck (and Mel Brooks silliness), that man has an Eleventh-hour reveal that he is actually a Prince and eligible to marry Vespa! Ah, true love prevails, and space royalty stays royal.
12. Nala, The Lion King
Sure, she’s a lioness, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a Disney Princess also! Nala (Moira Kelly) is part of the lion tribe that runs Pride Rock, and even becomes Queen when she marries Simba (Matthew Broderick) ergo, princess. Nala is no damsel in distress, even when she finds herself in actual distress. She’s a tough lioness devoted to her pack and her home. Nala’s the only one willing to do anything proactive about the dire predicament Pride Rock is in before Simba rises again. She’s basically the entire reason everything good that happens in The Lion King happens, like a true boss.
11. Princess Bubblegum, Adventure Time
Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) is a kind and benevolent ruler of the Candy Kingdom, but don’t mess with her because she won’t take it lightly! She’s not afraid to be a strong ruler, even authoritarian at times, to protect her people. The Princess has a strong sense of adventure and independence, ruling over the Candy Kingdom in the ways she sees fit. And, as a big blob of pink bubblegum, she’s basically the sweetest Princess to ever live!
10. Anastasia Romanov, Anastasia
Imagine finding out one day that you’re the “lost Princess” of lore and have a claim to the throne! Well that’s the story of the fictional, and real Anastasia. In this adaptation of the real story, a woman claims she was the lone survivor in the execution of her royal family. The animated version puts a bit more of a spin on it, though, with a dash of sorcery and a love story, because – duh. This version of Anastasia (Meg Ryan) is spunky and full of street-smarts; she definitely wouldn’t have learned in a castle! Even when she finds out her royal heritage, she stays true to herself and follows her heart. What’s not to love about this plucky girl?!
9. Xena, Xena: Warrior Princess
As Grecian Princess, Xena (Lucy Lawless) is one of the fiercest princesses of all time. As a woman with a dark past, Xena uses her fighting skills to help people and redeem herself. Not all princesses are prissy and proper, some are rough around the edges but nonetheless commendable. From Warlord to Warrior Princess, Xena shows that despite what you may have done, redemption is possible. Plus, while every Princess is wearing dresses and corsets, she’s rocking leather armor and kicking butt. There is no cooler Princess.
8. Sailor Moon/princess Serenity, Sailor Moon
Usagi (Tracey Moore) knew she was special all her life, and her thoughts were confirmed when she found out she is destined to be a Sailor Soldier and protect the world. As she adapts to her role as Sailor Moon, she quickly learns other facets of her new heroic personality, including the fact that she’s also a Princess. The ancient Princess Serenity reincarnates as Usagi, and Usagi can use this form when fights get tough, and she needs a little extra power. She went from teenage girl to superhero to Princess real quick. What we love about Usagi, though, is that despite her place in the universe as a Princess and savior, she’s undeniably herself. She can be whiny and annoying in one moment, and selfless and brave the next. Kinda relatable, right? And we love every different part of her crazy personality!
7. Snow White/mary Margaret, Once Upon A Time
This retelling of the classic fairytale stories turns the life of Snow White on its head. In this universe, Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) is no dainty Princess in need of rescue from some man. She’s a fierce warrior, a female-Robin Hood, and wildly independent. And no Evil Queen will be bringing this Princess down. This ain’t your momma’s Snow White! While she does find love, with Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) no less, she doesn’t let it change who she is. Actually, she ends up saving him more than a few times! She wears the pants in that fairytale romance, and we’re so here for it.
6. Princess Ann, Roman Holiday
Being a Princess is probably a bit of a drag. Between royal responsibilities and tight schedules, we can see why Ann (Audrey Hepburn) would want to get away. So when she’s presented with the opportunity to have her own Roman holiday, away from her tightly wound life, she takes it. Her fun-loving attitude and fearless trust in the locals makes her an exciting princess. Who wants to be some staunch lady when you can ride Vespa’s and kiss handsome strangers?! While she has to return to her life eventually, we’ll always admire her plunge into the unknown.
5. Princess Jasmine, Aladdin
Not only is Jasmine (Linda Larken) one of the most layered Disney princesses but one of the most diverse as well! After decades of white princesses, Jasmine debuted as the first princess of color. Her storyline was inspired by that of Princess Ann in Roman Holiday, painting the picture of a wise young Princess who’s bored with her place in royal life. She meets Aladdin (Scott Weinger) and he becomes her conduit to the outside world. Her sense of adventure is on display in full force as she galavants around with Aladdin and attempts to escape the life she never asked for. Plus, the girl can serve some side-eye like no other.
4. Fiona, Shrek
What starts as a caricature of a fairytale Princess soon turns into a totally new telling of the royal story. Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is rescued by Shrek (Mike Myers) and set to be delivered to a Lord to be wed. Along the way, she shows that she’s stereotypically superficial and a bit rude, but she softens to her saviors when they realize they’re not so different after all. Despite her desire to be a normal Princess, she was cursed at a young age to be a beautiful woman by day, and an ogress by night. She believes finding her true love — i.e., the Lord — would break the curse. Eventually, her curse is broken — by Shrek! And she becomes a permanent ogress, embracing the role for true love. The idea that beauty comes from within is strong with this Princess, and her evolution is much more than skin deep.
3. Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries
Finding out you’re a princess, an heir to a throne in a country you’ve never heard of, all while battling the insanity of high school has to be hard. And it’s exactly what Mia (Anne Hathaway) has to go through. From the moment she meets her grandmother and learns who she really is, the throne tries to change everything about her. That includes her hair (okay, much needed) to her personality. But despite it all, Mia stays true to herself while representing her royal nature well. (Of course, there are few bumps on the way.) She refuses to bend to anyone’s will about who she should be, and instead, refines who she is with no apologies. Being a 16-year-old princess saddled with sudden royal responsibility is no easy task, but Mia figures it out and completely owns her new lifestyle.
2. Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars
Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is, without a doubt, one of the most inspiring fictional princesses of all time. She went from a mere princess to so, so much more in her upward battle to absolute badassery. Her time battling evil in the galaxy gave her a place in the Imperial Senate, led to her being a General, and propelled her to found the Resistance. She gets stuff done no matter what’s on her plate. Her story has never been defined by romance or damsel-hood, she’s always been quite able to take care of herself. She remains the guiding light in the galaxy of what a princess should be: fiercely protective of her people, and willing to sacrifice it all for the greater good.
1. Princess Buttercup, The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride acted as an ode to and a parody of fairytale stories, right down to the prince and princesses. Buttercup (Robin Wright) begins as a mere farm girl who becomes a princess when she is arranged to marry a prince. She resists the wedding, though, waiting on her true love Westley (Cary Elwes) to rescue her. But despite her predicament, she isn’t some victim hellbent on being saved. She tries many times to save herself and be free from the deplorable prince she’s set to marry. She’s strong-headed and has more will than anyone else in the kingdom. Buttercup harkens back to an old-fashion fairytale world with new-world ideologies along for the ride. The fight in her makes her one of our very favorites.