It’s perhaps the most cliche trope known by everyone who grew up watching Disney movies: when a beautiful princess is in trouble, her handsome prince will come and save her with true love’s kiss.
Fortunately, that narrative has long since become passé, and Disney has moved forward with leading men who are more rounded as characters—instead of random guys who show up on horses for no good reason, like some form of vintage reality show.
In recent years, the Princes have become one of the best parts of modern Disney movies. Their struggles and vulnerabilities have replaced the usual toxic masculinity, to deliver role models suitable for young men everywhere.
Today’s Disney Princes show young audiences that not every hero needs to show up and slaughter a dragon to be considered attractive and worthwhile by a princess. Here are the Disney Princes ranked, up to the one whom we think is the best of them.
10. Prince Florian (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
We start with the clichéd prince. Prince Florian is the name of the guy who shows up at the end of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to kiss her and bring her out of everlasting sleep.
There’s nothing about him as an individual person that comes across on screen to any notable degree. He has few lines and severely limited screen time before he lives happily ever after.
There isn’t much to say about him—even his name was left out, only to be clarified and confirmed by Disney years later. He’s essentially a passing Prince who loved a sleeping girl he’d just met.
9. Prince Charming (Cinderella)
Next, we have the loving Prince who sought the girl he’d danced with at a ball. Prince Charming had only a glass slipper to go on, but he used all the men at his disposal to scour the entire kingdom to find the foot that fit the iconic shoe.
He isn’t in the film for very long. However, he does show a willingness to be a force for good, and he falls deeply in love with Cinderella on one magical night. He’s still very much a classic one-dimensional Prince, but he’s given some screen time to showcase himself.
8. Prince Philip (Sleeping Beauty)
We move on to the first Prince to actually get a name in his movie. Sleeping Beauty’s Prince Philip is the warrior who slays the dragon-formed Maleficent.
That was after she had trapped him, planning to keep him locked away until he was facing the end of his days, all so he could see Princess Aurora still young and sleeping.
Philip had a good role in the film, although it’s still overly basic in fleshing out what kind of character he is. However, it marked progress for the Mouse House.
7. Prince Eric (The Little Mermaid)
Prince Eric is Princess Ariel’s far-off beloved and the man she trades her voice to meet (which isn’t exactly the best example to set for young women on Disney’s part, but we digress).
Prince Eric is a decent and honest Prince. He doesn’t wish to marry for the sake of it or to gain riches and power. He simply hopes to find true love. He bravely takes on Ursula to help protect Ariel, killing the witch with a well-directed splintered ship’s bow that he drives into her.
While he’s a heroic Prince, his film is troublesome to this day with its message to young women: “Change who you are for a man.”
6. Kristoff (Frozen)
Everybody loves Kristoff in Frozen. He’s bold, protective, and awkward in admitting his feelings. Though he’s a secondary character, Kristoff has a balanced backstory—which could still use further development—and is a lot of fun with his buddy Sven by his side.
His love for Anna isn’t full of the usual Disney platitudes, and he doesn’t look like a guy naturally suited to being a Prince. But his heart and willingness to help others make him a great example to young men watching the film.
Kristoff might not be fully rounded as a character, but he’s a massive step in the right direction for Disney.
5. Li Shang (Mulan)
Li Shang’s role in Mulan changed as the film unfolded. First, he was a young captain trying to honor his military lineage. (That’s where we see Li Shang’s drive to succeed.) Later, he shows himself as a kind and noble leader. (That’s who he is underneath.)
His attitude toward Mulan is conflicted when he discovers she’s a woman. It’s his duty to execute her, but he stays the blade as he’s unable to carry out the punishment. By the end, he realizes he’s grown close to Mulan—and is encouraged by the Emperor to pursue her.
Li Shang is a well-written character who has his flaws. Through those flaws, he becomes a wholly realized person.
4. Prince Naveen (The Princess and The Frog)
The Princess and The Frog was the beginning of Disney’s recent era of revival. The Mouse House decided to tell a story based upon one of the classic fairy tales, but with a fun twist.
The selfish and self-important Prince Naveen’s transformation into a frog isn’t surprising. However, when Tiana kisses him and transforms herself? That’s an upending moment on the original story.
His journey from being a layabout Prince who has never lifted a finger in his life, to a caring and dedicated person who’d give anything to help Tiana, is worlds away from the Prince Charming era of Disney.
Prince Naveen starts off as hateful but slowly becomes lovable as he changes throughout the movie’s narrative.
3. Prince Adam (Beauty and the Beast)
Beast is the selfish Prince who turned away a poor woman at his door, only to reap the wrath of the witch she really was—a witch who turned him into a hideous and ferocious beast.
The years spent in isolation and waiting for the transformation to become permanent made Adam angry, who repented for what he’d done wrong. So, when Belle came to take the place of her father in prison, Adam grew to understand her—and found redemption.
His complex struggle to understand himself was compelling to watch in Beauty and the Beast, making him one of Disney’s best Princes.
2. Flynn Rider (Tangled)
Tangled represented a leap forward for Disney, which we only saw in retrospect. The new computer animation style was the mark of a new age, as Disney moved away from traditional animation techniques. Flynn Rider, however, was something new, too.
His swashbuckling nature and witty dialogue were new-ish for Disney Princes, but what made him great was his fully explored backstory. He wasn’t a renegade because he wanted to be—he was a renegade because he had no other option.
As an orphan, inspired by stories, Eugene became Flynn Rider to try and have a real life beyond the orphanage. His love for Rapunzel and the epic journey they take together is about both of them, not just her magical hair.
Few Disney couples have as visceral a story as the thief and the girl with the long hair, all of which makes Flynn Rider née Eugene Fitzherbert one of Disney’s most endearing Princes.
1. Prince Ali (Aladdin)
We finally arrive at Aladdin, the street rat who became a Prince with the help of a monkey and a beloved Genie. Aladdin is the example of what we should all aspire to be: honest, kind, and willing to stand up for what is right even when it’s hard.
Aladdin is funny, clever, and witty. He doesn’t want to be somebody who steals food, but he has no other options. Yet, even when he does have bread, he gives it to two children who need it more. This is why Aladdin is the best Disney Prince: because he’s always selfless.
The film pushes his moral compass, but he makes the right decision in the end, keeping his promise to Genie over his own gain.
His final scene with Genie is beautifully moving—made more poignant by the death of Robin Williams—as the two friends part ways, Aladdin having kept his word to free Genie from an eternity of servitude.