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MM Film Top 30 Underrated Female Disney Characters

MM Film Top 30 Underrated Female Disney Characters
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Val Namaki
These female Disney characters need more time in the spotlight. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the most overlooked animated women in Disney and Pixar flicks that deserve far more love. Our countdown includes "Peter Pan, " "Moana," "Toy Story," and more!

#30: Mrs. Jumbo
“Dumbo” (1941)

Mothers and maternal figures tend to be overlooked in the Disney-verse, often either being separated from their kids or killed off. The examples are endless, from Bambi’s mom to Widow Tweed. But we want to focus on Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo’s mom. She barely speaks and spends most of the movie kept from her son after she gets in trouble protecting him. Yet while much of Dumbo’s journey of self-discovery occurs away from her, she anchors him. The “Baby Mine” sequence alone exemplifies her devotion, and the support she’s always going to provide. That’s unconditional motherly love, and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Considering the emotional weight Mrs. Jumbo infuses the tale with, it’s a real shame she isn’t talked about more.

#29: Anita Radcliffe
“One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961)

Pongo is onto something when he decides Anita Radcliffe and her pup are the perfect love matches for him and his owner Roger. Seriously, Anita is wonderful. Yet when we talk about this 1961 movie, she’s not usually the first, second, or even fourth name that comes up. We get it. The Dalmatians are obviously central to the story, Cruella De Vil is too fabulous a villain to ignore, and Roger writes a super catchy, accurate song. But Anita is the one at the center of it all, connecting the threads. She may not be the loudest character, but she’s kind, reliable, and has a huge heart. Her only crime is trusting Cruella for a little too long!

#28: Mad Madam Mim
“The Sword in the Stone” (1963)

“The Sword in the Stone” is one of Disney’s most underappreciated offerings, and its villain is also hugely overlooked. Maybe it’s because she’s not a traditional bad guy, but if you ask us, her eccentricity is a big part of what makes her worthy of more attention! Madam Mim is a merciless witch, and there’s not much that makes her happier than seeing her rivals suffer. She’s not above cheating, either, as evidenced by her duel with Merlin. She’s also just a trip to watch, with her overconfidence and unique personality. It’s time to put a lot more respect on her name, because she’s as terrifying as the Maleficents and Evil Queens of this world.

#27: Merryweather
“Sleeping Beauty” (1959)

How could you not love the Three Good Fairies? They not only raise Aurora but play a huge part in defeating Maleficent alongside Phillip. Frankly, they could use more appreciation as a unit. But between Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, we’d say it’s the latter who’s the most underrated considering her immense contributions to the story. Her resolute and sassy attitude is too fun, especially when she butts heads with Flora. Beyond that though, she always comes through when she’s needed. Let’s not forget she’s the one who subdues Maleficent’s death curse, ensuring the princess will fall into a deep slumber “true love’s kiss” can save her from instead. Aurora owes her life to this blue-loving fairy – where is National Merryweather Day?!

#26: Wendy Darling
“Peter Pan” (1953)

The titular character, Captain Hook, and Tinker Bell get the bulk of the attention here. Pan is the kid refusing to grow up, Hook is his sworn enemy, and Tink, well, she speaks for herself. But what would the adventure flick be without Wendy? Nothing! She and her brothers accompanying Peter to Neverland fuels the entire plot. Plus, she captivates the protagonist (much to Tinker Bell’s dismay). Most importantly, she’s a voice of reason, understanding the Darlings must go home. We care about the outcome because we care about her, thanks to her kindness and adventurous yet sophisticated persona. Striking a balance between preserving your childlike wonder while growing up isn’t easy, but she does it flawlessly. Give her her flowers!

#25: Mrs. Potts
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

We know this is the tale as old as time of Belle and Beast’s romance. We also know that Lumière and even Cogsworth tend to steal the show among the supporting cast. However, if the light should shine on anyone, it’s this teapot. She’s the mom of the house, as her warmth and comforting presence assures us things will be okay. Mrs. Potts brings whatever is needed to a situation – be it compassion with Belle or tough love with the Beast. That’s saying nothing of her riveting rendition of the film’s theme song. Yes, more minor female characters like the Wardrobe and the Featherduster are often forgotten, too. Yet Mrs. Potts is the woman most taken for granted in relation to her monumental impact.

#24: Gramma Tala
“Moana” (2016)

Wise, understanding, caring, determined, dynamic, and extraordinary — these are some of the words we’d use to describe Moana’s grandmother. We all know how important she is to the protagonist, helping her fulfill her destiny before and after her passing. But it seems like nobody ever stops to uplift Tala the woman. She doesn’t care if other people don’t completely get her. She knows herself and the truth, and trusts that her people will find their way back to the ocean. Her fierce conviction and dedication to this belief is nothing short of admirable, as is her ability to be totally original while still prioritizing community. The spirited, fearless life she led could be its own movie, and it’s one that should be made.

#23: Vanellope von Schweetz
“Wreck-It Ralph” franchise (2012-)

This clever racer/princess endures many trials and tribulations. She’s ostracized due to her glitch status in “Wreck-It Ralph” and gradually opens up, uncovering the truth about her identity. In the sequel, she finds a new home, really coming into herself. She’s anything but traditional through it all, redefining what it means to be a royal through her bold quick-wittedness. She’s also a once-in-lifetime friend. But perhaps because she’s not part of the official Disney princess franchise, her name is often at the bottom of the list when folks speak about the studio’s heroines. If “Ralph Breaks the Internet” proved anything though, it’s that Vanellope von Schweetz belongs with Ariel and company. Here’s hoping she starts receiving the same adoration they’ve historically gotten.

#22: Bo Peep
“Toy Story” franchise (1995-)

There are toys that we forget to cherish. Bo is largely relegated to the background in the franchise’s first two entries, with her stories often revolving around her romance with Woody. She’s not even in the third movie (save for a quick cameo), having been donated. The thing is, she’s anything but a background doll. Thankfully, she’s back in a big way in “Toy Story 4,” making herself heard as a self-sufficient leader who needs no owner. The porcelain figurine knows her worth, proving that femininity and power are anything but mutually exclusive. Yet her bravery, resourcefulness, and intelligence aren’t commended enough for our liking. Instead, Bo is usually discussed in relation to Woody. It’s high time she gets her own spotlight – she’s a star.

#21: Charlotte “Lottie” La Bouff
“The Princess and the Frog” (2009)

There’s a lot going on in this movie. Between Tiana’s restaurant dream, her romance with Prince Naveen, Dr. Facilier’s evil-doing, and you know, the frog thing, it’s easy to forget about Charlotte. But just because something is easy doesn’t make it right! She’s Tiana’s bestie, and at first, she may seem like a stereotypical rich girl. And yes, she’s spoiled. However, the young woman is much more than that. She’s a good, generous person, who’s willing to prioritize her friend’s love for Naveen over her own desire to be royalty. She’s also a blast to be around. We’d be lucky to have her in our corner. So we’d recommend rewatching “The Princess and the Frog” while keeping a special eye out for Lottie this time.

#20: Miss Bianca
“The Rescuers” franchise (1977-90)

Miss Bianca is arguably one of the first true feminists to come out of the Mouse House. When “The Rescuers” hit theaters in 1977, female Disney characters weren’t generally depicted as strong or self-reliant. This little mouse, however, stood out as a modern lady. Classy, resourceful, and full of passion, anybody would want to have an adventure with her. Bianca’s outgoing attitude perfectly complements the timid Bernard, her partner at the Rescue Aid Society. Both of these characters are treated as equals and neither is limited by his or her gender. Bianca in particular lights up the screen with her charisma. Just as she’s an underrated character, the same could be said about the 1990 sequel, “The Rescuers Down Under.”

#19: Captain Amelia
“Treasure Planet” (2002)

The ladies of this list come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but how many can say they’ve piloted a sailboat through space? This feline captain, serving as the film equivalent to Captain Smollett in this sci-fi film adaptation of “Treasure Island”, is an exceptional leader and navigator who guides the RLS Legacy across black holes, supernovas and cosmic storms. Paired with her nautical expertise is her quick wits, sophisticated style of speech and her uncompromising professional standards. Known to some as the finest captain in “this or any other galaxy”, Amelia is about as tough and brave as they come in this under-appreciated box-office flop.

#18: Kida
“Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001)

Kida is a different kind of Disney princess. She doesn’t sing songs or wear fancy dresses. Rather, this princess and eventual queen of Atlantis is a warrior woman who knows how to handle herself in battle. Kida isn’t a straight-faced stick in the mud, though. She also has a certain wide-eyed curiosity that makes her more identifiable. Since this film didn’t do so well at the box office, Kida is never marketed in the Disney Princess franchise. Given the cult status “Atlantis” has been gaining, however, perhaps Kida will join her fellow royals someday.

#17: Kiara
“The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” (1998)

This direct-to-video sequel might not be able to compete with the original masterpiece, but it still managed to give us a compelling new protagonist. The film shifts focus from King Simba to his daughter and future Queen of the Pride Lands, Kiara. Like her father before her, this lioness is headstrong and rebellious, but brave and compassionate as well. She isn’t afraid to follow her heart either, falling in love with a banished lion named Kovu despite his connection to Scar. Most importantly, she exemplifies the making of a strong ruler, using peace and logic to bring two feuding families together. Since making her debut, Kiara’s circle of life has continued in the Disney animated series, “The Lion Guard.”

#16: Franny Robinson
“Meet the Robinsons” (2007)

Compared to some other members of the wacky Robinson family, Franny is fairly level-headed and responsible. At the same time, though, she’s still colorful, creative, and crazy in all the right ways. With a passion for music, this pioneering woman conducts a choir of jazzy frogs. In addition to being an innovative musician and master of martial arts, she’s also a loving, nurturing parent. She’s not only affectionate towards her own son, Wilbur, but will welcome any child in need with open arms. A mother who knows best, Franny is always right… even when she’s wrong.

#15: Chicha
“The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)

Pacha’s very pregnant wife, Chicha could have been a pretty straightforward, forgettable character. Yet, the film actually develops her into someone incredibly likable. The glue that holds her family together, Chicha is caring, supportive, and typically the smartest person in the room. She knows how to resolve almost any problem while still maintaining a calm demeanor and sense of humor. Even when the diabolical Yzma threatens to burn her house down, Chicha easily takes control of the situation with some help from her hyper children. And remember, she won’t think twice about smashing your face in with a frying pan.

#14: Sadness
“Inside Out” (2015)

Although she seems like a one-note killjoy at first, Sadness proves that feelings can have many different layers. After eleven-year-old Riley moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, Joy attempts to keep her spirits high while keeping Sadness at bay. However, it eventually becomes clear that Sadness is an essential part of being human. Everybody has to deal with disappointment, loss, and change on occasion. Sometimes we need to cry in order to move forward. When Sadness finally takes control of Riley’s console, it’s equally tear jerking and uplifting, amounting to a happy ending. Sadness thus emerges as an unsung hero in one of Pixar’s most emotional movies to date.

#13: Maid Marian
“Robin Hood” (1973)

We were tempted to go with the plucky lady-in-waiting Lady Kluck, but we really can’t talk about Maid Marian enough. Aside from being a humanoid, Maid Marian stands out from other Disney heroines for several reasons. For starters, she doesn’t fall in love with a prince, but an outlaw who robs from the rich. Marian and Robin Hood don’t follow the love at first sight trope either, as they actually formed a strong connection during their youth. While they are separated for an extended period, Marian still holds a torch for Robin and sees all the good he’s doing for the poor people of Nottingham. When Robin faces execution, she pleads with the dastardly Prince John to spare his life and is eventually reunited with her true love. Playful, kind, and courageous, Maid Marian is undeniably one foxy lady.

#12: Yzma
“The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)

Disney villains are usually known for being crafty and menacing, but Yzma is a straight-up comedic baddie. That might be why she’s often overlooked, but it’s also what makes her such a unique antagonist. Although she aspires to be taken seriously, Yzma’s wicked schemes always blow up in her face. Remember when the Evil Queen killed Snow White with a poisoned apple? Well, Yzma’s plan to poison Emperor Kuzco plays out more like a screwball farce, as he’s accidentally turned into a llama. Yzma never lets go of her conquest for power, but all she finds is failure and humiliation around every corner. This makes her a great source of comedy, especially when paired up with her moronic henchman, Kronk.

#11: Go Go
“Big Hero 6” (2014)

Baymax may steal the show, but “Big Hero 6” has no shortage of fun supporting characters. This adrenaline junkie particularly stands out with her engineering gifts, athletic skills, and need for speed. You wouldn’t want to get on Go Go’s bad side, or challenge her to a drag race for that matter. As fast as she is furious, she never fails to woman up in the face of danger. Although Go Go comes off as tough and sarcastic, she also possesses a strong sense of morality and a kind heart. She’ll loyally fight alongside any of her friends and is always there when somebody needs a hug. She might be a tech nerd, but that doesn’t make her any less badass.

#10: Nala
“The Lion King” (1994)

A childhood friend of Prince Simba, this spirited young lioness is always up for a little exploration and mischief. Nala grows up to become a fiercely independent resident of the Pride Lands, refusing to live under Scar’s tyranny. Boldly leaving her home to seek out help, she finds an old friend and the rightful king. Nala not only pushes Simba to confront his past and accept his responsibilities, but also opens his heart to mature romantic feelings. Returning to Pride Rock, Nala and Simba rise above Scar, taking their place in the circle of life together. It just goes to show that behind every great king is a great queen.

#9: Alice
“Alice in Wonderland” (1951)

This treasured Disney classic is full of unforgettable characters, such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. Ironically, the one character that usually gets overlooked is Alice herself. In a movie this zany and off-the-wall, though, the audience needs a sensible protagonist to bring them back to reality. Aside from being a relatable heroine, Alice is polite, smart, and spunky. Even if her curiosity can get her into trouble, she always stands up for herself and fights to keep her head. Being a daydreamer, Alice ultimately finds that Wonderland can be a nice place to visit, but she wouldn’t want to live there.

#8: Jessie
“Toy Story” franchise (1995-)

Full of energy and joy, this yodeling cowgirl makes us all wish that toys could spring to life. Although Jessie is often cheerful, she’s not all fun and games. Behind her friendly exterior, she’s overcome with an overwhelming fear of abandonment. You can’t help but shed a tear after learning about Jessie’s falling out with her previous owner, Emily. Speaking of which, have you heard the theory that Emily might be Andy’s mom? Oh well, we digress. The point is that Jessie’s an incredibly empathetic character we come to truly care about. Through her friendship with Woody, she eventually finds a new home with Andy and later with young Bonnie. She even shares a charming romance with Buzz Lightyear.

#7: The Muses
“Hercules” (1997)

You wouldn’t think that a gospel choir and ancient Greece would go hand in hand. The Muses somehow pull it off though, narrating our hero’s journey in style. Often found within pieces of art, these five sassy goddesses move the story along with catchy music and great comedic timing. They additionally help the conflicted Megara to see the light and accept her feelings for “Hunkules.” Believe it or not, Disney was originally eyeing the Spice Girls to voice the Muses, but their plate was too full. Apparently they thought “Spice World” would be a better career move. Regardless, the Muses knew how to make Greek mythology fun and that’s the gospel truth.

#6: Nani Pelekai
“Lilo & Stitch” (2002)

“Lilo & Stitch” is largely about the relationship between… well, Lilo and Stitch (duh). Yet, some of the most powerful moments in the film are shared between Lilo and her older sister, Nani. After their parents tragically die, Nani becomes Lilo’s legal guardian. Although Nani tries her best, she struggles to act as single parent while also maintaining a steady job. The fact that a stern social worker is constantly on her back doesn’t help. Despite her frustration, Nani loves Lilo more than anything and will do whatever it takes to keep her family together. Even if you took the lovable Stitch out of the equation, this film still could’ve worked as a relatable, poignant story about ohana.

#5: Princess Eilonwy
“The Black Cauldron” (1985)

Eilonwy holds the princess title, but she’s never been marketed alongside Snow White, Cinderella, or the Magic Kingdom’s other royal residents. This is largely because “The Black Cauldron” wasn’t a success upon release. Since the film has developed a devoted following over the years, though, Disney should really invite Eilonwy to their most exclusive club. Adventurous and plucky, Eilonwy demonstrated that princesses could be more than damsels in distress. When we first see her, she actually rescues Taran from the dreaded Horned King’s dungeon. An active heroine who takes charge, Eilonwy arguably paved the way for the likes of Ariel and Belle, marking a significant turning point for Disney princesses that shouldn’t be ignored.

#4: Jane Porter
“Tarzan” (1999)

At first glance, Jane might seem like a typical damsel in distress. Granted, this English lady does need to be rescued by Tarzan upon first arriving in the jungle. Seeing how Jane is out of her usual environment, though, it makes sense that she would get off to a bumpy start. Plus, her wit, enthusiasm, and plucky personality make Jane a damsel you’d want to save from danger. Most importantly, Jane adapts to the jungle over time, learning to swing from vines like a pro. She additionally shows Tarzan what it means to be human. In return, the Ape Man shows Jane how to let out her wild side.

#3: Megara
“Hercules” (1997)

In many respects, Disney’s interpretation of “Hercules” is a lot like Superman. So it’s only fitting that Herc’s love interest would possess all of Lois Lane’s spunk and sarcasm. Megara, or Meg for short, gives up on romance after an ex-boyfriend leaves her heartbroken. While she’s reluctant to admit her true feelings for Herc at first, the Muses help Meg to accept the fact that she’s in love. Due to her contract with the Lord of the Underworld, Meg is forced to stab her hero in the back. Through sacrifice and bravery, though, she finds redemption and becomes a true hero in her own right.

#2: Esmeralda
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)

Esmeralda is one of Disney’s most exquisitely drawn female characters, but it's what’s on the inside that makes her such a compelling person. Seeing the value of inner beauty, this dancer stands up for the deformed Quasimodo while everyone else mocks and shames him. Although she’s had her fair share of run-ins with the law, Esmeralda knows how to get herself out of trouble with a smile. Even when she finds herself in a seemingly hopeless situation, this rebellious woman will still hold her head high and accept fate with dignity. Showing the lonely hunchback what a man is really made of, Esmeralda is an alluring free spirit, an inspiring role model, and a truly under-appreciated Disney heroine.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Olivia Flaversham, “The Great Mouse Detective” (1986)
This Young Mouse Goes Through More Than She’s Given Credit For

Honey Lemon, “Big Hero 6” (2014)
An Iconic, Intelligent, Yet Oft-Ignored Optimist

Sarah Hawkins, “Treasure Planet” (2002)
A Single Mother Who Has More Than Earned Her Moment

Blue Fairy, “Pinocchio” (1940)
We Know She Doesn’t Grant Wishes for Attention, but We Still Think She Could Use a Bit More of It

Disgust, “Inside Out” (2015)
We’re Disgusted by the Lack of Love Towards This Hysterically Relatable Emotion

#1: Grandmother Fa
“Mulan” (1998)

Who wouldn’t want this lively, outspoken grandma as a member of the family? With a lucky cricket by her side, Grandmother Fa lives her life without fear. She’ll walk across a busy street with her eyes closed and come out completely unharmed. Despite her smart-alecky nature, she genuinely cares about her family, particularly granddaughter Mulan. When Mulan disguises herself as a man and heads off to war, Grandmother Fa prays to the ancestors to look after her. Watching this spirited old lady, we can see where Mulan gets much of her independence.

Which of these characters do you think deserves a bigger moment in the spotlight? Let us know in the comments!