These Disney Princesses All Share This 1 Loss in Common and It’s Actually a Disney Movie Theme

Disney Princesses are a staple franchise within Disney studios. Not only are there so many distinct worlds and characters, they’ve also evolved into TV shows, books, and more. There’s nothing that can top a good Disney Princess movie; they’re full of heart and the songs are usually so catchy. But one aspect that a lot of the princesses have in common is actually what they all lost: mothers. And there’s actually a reason behind that. 

Michelle Trachtenberg poses with Disney princesses at the Walt Disney premiere of 'The Ice Princess' on March 13, 2005
Michelle Trachtenberg poses with Disney princesses at the Walt Disney premiere of ‘The Ice Princess’ on March 13, 2005 | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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Disney Princesses are a major staple of Disney movies

Just like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are both major franchises under Disney, the princesses are just as important. Even major aspects of the Disney parks are dedicated to these characters. Each one is so different but also still pretty familiar. 

Whether a Disney Princess came from the very beginning of Walt Disney’s studio, like Snow White, or the more recent, CGI princess movies like Moana, they’re iconic. And let’s not forget the Disney Renaissance period of the ‘90s that brought many classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast

Nearly all of them are musicals, with Brave being an exception. However, every single one of them offers a unique take on the world and delivers an important message for viewers. All kids can benefit from a viewing experience of Disney princess movies. 

There’s a trend where a big chunk of them don’t have mothers 

But what is this trend a large chunk of them share? A lot of them don’t have mothers or experience intense loss early on. 

In the original Disney Cinderella cartoon, she is without a mother or father and has to live with the horrible woman her father married before he died. She experiences a double whammy, but it seems like she lost her mother first. This is hit on even harder in the live-action Cinderella starring Lily James. 

Then there are Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine, the three most famous Disney princesses without moms. All three of them came right after the other and they each don’t have a mother on-screen, nor are they ever really mentioned. They also have very distinct fathers: King Triton, Maurice, and the Sultan.  

Then there’s Pocahontas, the chief’s daughter. She only has her father, which is also a significant relationship and point of contention for her character as well. And lastly, there’s Anna and Elsa. Both go from princesses to queens over the course of two movies, and they lost both of their parents at the same time in a boating accident. 

There’s actually a reason behind this, and it bleeds into other Disney movies as well

If you look at other Disney media, this “not having mothers” theme isn’t just for princesses. Bambi’s mother famously gets shot in the film. Then there’s Dumbo’s mother who also has an emotional departure for Dumbo. Quasimodo’s mother also dies on the steps of Notre Dame in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

What’s up with this motif? Well, it all might have to do with the death of Walt Disney’s own mother in real life. 

“Walt Disney, in the early 1940s, when he was still living at this house, also bought a house for his mom and dad to move into,” Disney producer Don Hahn told Glamour in 2014. Hahn worked on movies like Maleficent, Beauty and the Beast, and more. “He had the studio guys come over and fix the furnace, but when his mom and dad moved in, the furnace leaked and his mother died. The housekeeper came in the next morning and pulled his mother and father out on the front lawn. His father was sick and went to the hospital, but his mother died.”

That is a pretty horrible thing to happen during a time that’s supposed to be joyous. And Hahn went on to say that Disney never talked about it afterward because he believed it was his fault. This created a “theory” amongst Disney creators. 

“There’s a theory, and I’m not a psychologist, but he was really haunted by that,” Hahn explained. “That idea that he really contributed to his mom’s death was really tragic. If you dig, you can read about it. It’s not a secret within their family, but it’s just a tragedy that is so difficult to even talk about. It helps to understand the man a little bit more.”

While it could also just be about developing a character faster, this Disney theory might be the saddest. 

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