Debating who the best Disney prince is might be an easier conversation than discussing your favorite Disney princess - arguably one of entertainment’s most iconic and ever-evolving archetypes. Because of this, the strongest Disney princes go overlooked. Throughout the House of Mouse's (usually animated) filmography, more often than not, female protagonists have been accompanied by well-intentioned yet dim-witted and passive “heroes.”
However, sometimes Disney princes actually do something to help save the day in princess-centric movies - stepping up and playing an active role instead of going with the flow. Each item on this list will highlight a moment where a Disney prince was undeniably effective in helping others or advancing the plot, like Beast fighting off the pack of wolves in Beauty and the Beast or Prince Eric steering a ship into Ursula in The Little Mermaid. It's up to you to decide which Disney prince (honorary or otherwise) has proven to be the most useful.
Prince Phillip Carves Through The Briar Maze And Slays MaleficentPhoto: Sleeping Beauty / Buena Vista Distribution
Sleeping Beauty’s Prince Phillip is Aurora’s knight in shining armor, both figuratively and literally. After the latter pricks her finger, succumbs to a prophesied curse, and falls into a deep sleep (along with the rest of the kingdom), Maleficent locks Phillip away so that he will grow old, and his betrothed will never be awakened by true love’s kiss.
Thankfully, the fairies rescue Phillip and arm him with the magical Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue. Armed, Phillip hacks through Maleficent’s maze of thorns, engages Maleficent’s dragon form, and throws his empowered sword into her chest, ensuring the enchantress’s demise. Bravo.Useful prince?
Flynn AKA Eugene Cuts Off Rapunzel’s HairPhoto: Tangled / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Tangled’s Flynn Rider (secretly Eugene Fitzherbert) is a swashbuckling crook who proves his resourcefulness on numerous occasions. The most pivotal occasion comes near the end of the film when he climbs Rapunzel’s hair only to find her chained and muffled in Mother Gothel’s tower (who keeps the princess captive and uses her hair’s healing properties to retain her youth).
Gothel then fatally injures Eugene, causing Rapunzel to submit to Gothel if the former is allowed to heal her love. Instead of letting this happen, Eugene cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, which turns from gold to brown, loses its magic, and causes Gothel to age rapidly and perish. Doesn’t get more useful than that.Useful prince?
- Photo: Beauty and the Beast / Buena Vista Pictures
People love Beauty and the Beast’s Prince Adam - AKA Beast - probably because of the film’s permeating themes of love and redemption. After being cursed to live a life as the titular Beast (and his kingdom as various housewares) due to his vanity/cruelty (something he spends the entire film overcoming... his servants are actually much more "useful"), Adam/Beast shows his first signs of humanity after Belle wanders into the forbidden west wing of his castle and finds the symbolic rose.
Fearful of his outrage, Belle flees the castle and, while in the woods, is accosted by a pack of wolves. Realizing the error of his ways (sort of), Adam/Beast rescues her and is injured in the process. If it weren’t for this moment, the pair wouldn't fall in love - ultimately breaking the curse.Useful prince?
Li Shang Speaks Out When The Emperor's Consul Disrespects MulanPhoto: Mulan / Buena Vista Pictures
Questionable power dynamics aside, Mulan and Li Shang fall for one another (after he finds out she’s a woman). After Shan Yu is slain, Mulan is initially reprimanded/scolded by Chi Fu for her deception - at which point Li Shang defends her as a hero.
He’s also the first to bow when the Emperor honors her and the city’s inhabitants praise her as the hero of China.Useful prince?