A Cynic’s Top 5 Disney Couples

I’m far from what you might call a romantic, but I figure if anything can get me in the spirit of this Hallmark-created holiday, it’s Disney. So let’s take a look at the company that gave so many women unrealistic hopes about Prince Charming, and pick my favorite Disney couples! This could be difficult because, when it comes to romances, I’m a hard ticket to sell. Prince Phillip does squat for me. Talk, you dragon killing mannequin!

But here are the Disney couples who make me feel something close to an emotional response, and I begrudgingly admit to actually enjoying.

5. Tiana and Naveen from The Princess and the Frog



True, these two are basically ripped from any modern-day romantic comedy. First they fight, then they discover they have some things in common, change each other, fall in love, yada ya. But I like how, in this movie, Disney was steering more in the direction of an actual, believable relationship. Sure, they turn into frogs and Naveen is a prince of some fictional and ethnically ambiguous kingdom, but they seem to complement each other and even have genuine chemistry. Not an easy task with animated characters. I enjoy.

4. Phoebus and Esmerelda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame



Why must you break Quasimodo’s heart!? You soulless monsters!

Ahem. Sorry. Got that out of my system, and we’re moving on.

Talk about chemistry. These two sizzle. This one also verges on the typical romantic comedy formula, but I forgive them. This romance was more of a plot device to crush poor Quasi’s spirits (and make a slight attempt to follow the book. Sort of). They could have easily made this romance a simple case of love-at-first-sight to save some screen time. But instead they chose to develop the characters and the relationship enough to make the audience believe it. Respect.

I love the scene where the two of them fight in the cathedral. They’re just a ton of fun to watch together.  Sure the turn around is a little quick, but I think it still works. And what’s a relationship without the occasional sword fight?

This is as close as I will ever come to being attracted to Kevin Kline.

3. Belle and Beast from Beauty and the Beast



Honestly, I can’t believe I’m not putting this one first. People who know me surely won’t be able to believe it, mostly because I have a psychologically-questionable crush on the Beast (I really need to stop telling people that). Beyond that, though, I love this couple because, in my mind, it was the first couple Disney gave the time to fall in love properly instead of the more cinematically convenient “love at first sight.” And these two are so wonderfully endearing. The tagline says it all: “the greatest love story ever told.” I challenge you to listen to Angela Lansbury sing “Beauty and the Beast” and not melt. Show feelings, you heartless bastards! So why isn’t it number one? Well…I think there’s a heavy dose of Stockholm going on here. But it’s adorable Stockholm, so we let it pass.

2. Wall-E and Eve from Wall-E



Talk about adorable, these two make me coo like I just saw a baby penguin.

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The movie, even with its not-so-subtle subtext about preserving our planet and not giving up genuine human contact, is really about two robots in love. Sounds ridiculous and comical, but director Andrew Stanton made it work. These two barely say two words to each other (although that’s certainly not out of the norm for Disney romances) but it still works as a convincing and endearing romance. They fight, they dance, they protect each other. They deviate far from the perfunctory romantic formula because there’s nothing perfunctory about them. Before they can fall in love they have to figure out what that actually is, in the most literal sense! It’s a wonderfully winsome and original way to tell a romance story. Oh, and did I mention they’re adorable?

walle and eve

And the number one Disney couple that doesn’t make me want to vomit is…

1. Carl and Ellie from Up!



I have seen more grown men cry at the first ten minutes of this movie than for any other reason. Deviating from the typical animated opener, Pixar decides to give you a lovely little romantic short between two ordinary people and then break your heart into tiny little pieces and stomp all over them until they’re just shards of broken hopes and dreams.

Ahem. Sorry about that. Last one, I promise.

The reason the (SPOILERS) death of Ellie was so tragic and tear-inducing was because, in the short time you met them, you really fell in love with Carl and Ellie. They seemed like a real couple you might know and you believed their journey. It wasn’t a fairy tale romance with happy endings; they had trials. Real life kept getting in their way. That’s what made them feel so real. But they managed to get through everything together as partners, always looking out for each other (even post mortem).  Plus, they just look so happy together! Check out this article on The Happy Place blog for a great read about the beauty of Carl and Ellie.

Those are my top picks! Sorry, no Prince Charmings on here. I’m fairly cold hearted, so you’re lucky you saw any love on Valentine’s Day.

Who are your favorite Disney couples?

  • Really great post! I totally agree with all your pics + love how you have an obsession with the Beast. I’m obsessed with him because I feel he has a neverending identity crisis and the timeline in Beauty and the Beast makes zero sense. Like how old is he really? haha WE NEVER KNOW. ON THE MYSTERIES.

    Thanks, too, for the shoutout to Melissa’s guest post. I’m so proud of her and the writing and how she made this connection. I watched UP the weekend before I got married and cried so much during the opening scene. (The first time I saw it I cried so much my contact fell out. True story.)

    Enjoy tweeting with you and just added your blog to my Google Reader! xo

    • LeahIsMagical

      Thanks for the compliment! And congratulations on your wedding! Guess you found your own Disney romance 🙂

      I tried to figure out the Beast’s timeline once with a few friends over a bottle of wine…the result was a rather large headache.

      • Ian Perkins-Taylor

        I had barely restrained myself from commenting about this, but then you went and brought it up anyway. I will forever maintain that Belle and Beast only stay together for a few days and don’t really get to know each other very well if you try to imagine the story actually happening. What I think this movie does so well is develop their relationship throughout the course of the movie in a believable way (even if it actually only takes place over a few days).

        I am so glad that you put Wall-E and Eve on the list, they literally make me melt into a mushy pile of goo whenever I watch that movie! I think it is telling that the top two couples on this list are from Pixar movies, which I think generally have much better character development than Disney.

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