Growing up, Disney movies were a big deal for most of us. They were stories of adventure, overcoming evil, and most of all loooove.
But since it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s face it: Not all Disney love stories are created equal. Disney’s depiction of love changed as the times changed and sometimes, the relationships just didn’t age well. In other cases, they probably weren’t a great idea to begin with.
In that spirit, we’ve ranked our favorite couples from Disney animation proper (which is to say, we didn’t include Disney/Pixar films) to recognize the best and worst the company behind our collective childhoods has to offer!
Pocahontas & John Smith (Pocahontas)
Based on real life characters, it would be obvious if you knew even a little of the story of Pocahontas, which the studio basically chose to ignore for the sake of having a love story between the two main characters, even though that wasn’t the case in real life. Not saying that the movie didn’t have it’s moments, as the music and the songs for it were beautiful. Plus, if you’re going to go all out and make Pocahontas and John Smith a couple, why not stay together in the end?
Pongo & Perdita (101 Dalmations)
By the title, you’ll already realize that it’s a story about dogs. Pongo’s owner falls in love with and marries Perdita’s owner, and they fall in love with each other, conveniently enough. The cutest part about the couple is the litter of puppies they end up having and their determination to save their pups when they’re dognapped.
Duchess & O’Malley (The Aristocats)
A story about a privileged single mother named Duchess and her three children and how they have to find their way back home after they’re taken and left to die in the countryside. Luckily, they’re aided along the way with friends, including one homeless Thomas O’Malley. He agrees to also help them and he and Duchess fall in love during their journey back to Paris, where Duchess’ owner lives. Oh, well, they’re also cats. Cuteness prevails.
Cinderella & Prince Charming (Cinderella)
Disney already came out with a live-action version of this movie, intent on giving more depth to the main characters, which is always good. However, the animated version was a bit more simple and yet it was still nice to see the mistreated young lady find her Prince Charming. And apparently, the prince’s foot fetish helped their relationship.
Aurora & Prince Phillip (Sleeping Beauty)
Yet another from Disney’s classic animated movies, they again met once, sang a song and dance together, and Phillip was smitten to the core. It’s a good thing he was because she was bound to be asleep forever if not for his “true love’s kiss.” Yeah, that doesn’t really work now, but this is still one of our personal favorite classic fairy tales, and we can sing we sing “Once Upon a a Dream” by heart!
Lady & Tramp (Lady and the Tramp)
This is the ultimate romance movie, with dogs. Lady is yet another privileged female dog who finds herself lost. Her journey back home brings her to meet several wayward dogs, including one named Tramp, a stray and very underprivileged mutt. He a few other dogs help her along the way, but not without making some pit stops along the way, including the memorable spaghetti dinner scene. It’s cute, tearful, and romantic.
Esmeralda & Phoebus (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
This is a unique situation in which the titular character isn’t part of the couple listed. However, the gypsy Esmeralda is a strong-willed character and even at one point rescues and helps the captain of the guard Phoebus recover from a life-threatening injury. So, of course they fall in love.
Milo & Kida (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
Milo, a very nerd-ish looking finds love with a girl who is very much not like him. Yes, it’s that familiar story about the awkward nerd who falls in love with the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen, and happens to be a princess. But we still like it, especially when the girl has magical powers and is willing to sacrifice herself to save her people. And she still gets the guy. It’s also nice that Milo stays in the city of Atlantis to help Kida and her people.
Tarzan & Jane (Tarzan)
Based on the classic story, it seemed pretty easy to stick to the storyline, at least when it came to having Jane and Tarzan fall in love. It’s simplified here in that Tarzan doesn’t go to England, but rather Jane and her father stay in the jungle to live.
Hercules & Megara (Hercules)
This is nothing like the Greek mythology stories, even though most of the major characters are based on it. However, considering it’s Disney, it was obvious they had to steer away from the sad conclusion of Hercules’ life and make up their own story, including the addition of a lifelong love interest in Meg. The idea of a redeeming character always helps make a good happy conclusion, in this case, for Meg.
Naveen & Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
We love this couple, not only because Tiana is the first character, or in this case “princess,” of color in Disney’s list of princesses. Despite some criticisms regarding the movie and the dark elements throughout, it still reminded us that we are loved for who we are on the inside, not what we look like.
Fa Mulan & Li Shang (Mulan)
Pretending to be a guy doesn’t usually work for getting another guy to like you. However, in this case, it showed Li Shang the how much internal strength, wit, and determination Fa Mulan had, something that every guy should be attracted to in their significant other.
Ariel & Prince Eric (The Little Mermaid)
We like Disney’s animated version of this story much more than the original story. Although Ariel’s reasoning for wanting to find and marry Prince Eric was a bit shallow (she is a teenager, after all), she was still able to get him to fall in love with her, even without being able to speak.
Anna & Kristoff (Frozen)
What’s cool about Anna and Kristoff is the fact that they don’t immediately fall in love with each other upon first sight. It takes an adventure, and time, not true love’s first kiss, to get them to where they are at the end of the story – dating. It doesn’t always have to end in a wedding.
Aladdin & Jasmine (Aladdin)
However, if it does end in a wedding, that’s fine, too! Especially when it’s a wedding between Jasmine and Aladdin. Knowing the strong-willed Princess Jasmine was able to find love with the poor streetwise Aladdin always shows that love doesn’t care about riches or jewelry.
Snow White & the Prince (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Sure, it’s another simple story, but it’s also Disney’s first full-length animated feature film and at the time of its release, it was a beautiful achievement, with a non-complicated love story which was just fine for us.
Rapunzel & Eugene “Flynn Rider” Fitzherbert (Tangled)
There was one specific scene that displayed two characters falling in love with each other without them saying a word, and that was the release of the lanterns. It’s a wonderfully beautiful scene in itself, but looking at Rapunzel and Flynn’s facial expressions makes you just want them to kiss already. The journey they go through to get to that point has a nice progression, too.
Belle & the Beast (Beauty and the Beast)
Belle comes up on top as the ultimate heroine, willing to go against the flow, not willing to back down from a situation, and standing up for what’s right. C’mon, she even sacrifices her life, agreeing to stay imprisoned in the Beast’s castle so her father could live, and then saving the Beast after he saved her, when she could’ve just left him to die so she could go home. It’s no wonder that the Beast fell in love with her, when she was able to see him for more than just the name he was given.