20 Disney Characters Who Could Have Been Iconic – But They Didn’t Even Make It Out Of The Vault

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Everyone recognizes Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel and even Belle as iconic Disney princesses. But there are others who didn’t quite make the grade. Imagine a world, for instance, where Priscilla stands up to her ghastly husband. Or where Maria discovers a world of magical people. Indeed, these are just some of the Disney princesses (and queens, and uncles) who never truly came to be.

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20. Priscilla Gore, The Ghost Bride

Not all fairytales have a happy ending. Fewer still have a gruesome beginning. For instance, Priscilla Gore believed her husband Bartholomew was an affluent captain, sailing the open seas. But while he was away on a voyage, she accessed a bounty chest that suggested Mr. Gore was a pirate. Then, when she faced up to him over his duplicity, he murdered her.

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Priscilla Gore’s story, then, was perhaps deemed too gruesome for a cinematic adaptation. Nevertheless, her story became the premise for the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, where one version of the story gives comeuppance to the slain wife. You see, after her murder, Priscilla returned to haunt her husband and slowly drove him mad. Then, when he could take no more, the pirate took his own life.

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19. Clarice, Belle’s younger sister from Beauty And The Beast

An early cut of Disney’s classic Beauty And The Beast featured a little sister for main protagonist Belle. Her name was Clarice and she was fearful of their Aunt Marguerite. But neither character made it into the fairytale’s final storyline. You see, screenwriter Linda Woolverton didn’t feel the pair served the storyline.

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Belle was considered a non-conformist and a bit of a loner around the French village in which her family lived. However, Woolverton felt that having a doting little sister detracted from the central character’s intended disposition. Therefore, Clarice was deemed surplus to the final plot and was left on Disney’s cutting room floor.

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18. Rose McGee – an Appalachian Juliet in My Peoples

The Harpers and the McGees were set to be embattled families living in Appalachia, Texas. But two children from opposing clans – Elgin Harper and Rose McGee – fell for one another, providing all the hallmarks of a modern-day Romeo & Juliet. However, despite having a cast ready to voice the animation and musicians chosen to perform the soundtrack, the movie was scrapped.

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In the animation, Elgin charmed Rose with dolls he made from found objects. However, her father created a potion intended to wipe her suitor’s memory, so he would forget about a future with Rose. Instead, the concoction brought the dolls to life, creating a group to protect the lovers from their meddling families. But the movie was abandoned, heartbreakingly after Mulan co-director Barry Cook had “poured [his] soul into it.”

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17. Penelope and the Twelve Months

Although two stories for Penelope And The Twelve Months were developed in the 1940s, neither made it into production. Early in the decade, Dick Huemer and Joe Grant wrote a short of a time-traveling girl named Penelope who met numerous spirits on her journeys. Early ideas were sketched out by Mary Blair, who later altered the story into a revised version of The Prince And The Pauper by Mark Twain.

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However, Blair’s version featured a Disney familiarity. You see, Penelope worked in a kitchen and was the subject of ridicule from her stepmother and stepsister. Her salvation came from a supernatural ring that had the power to fulfill wishes. Nevertheless, there was a case of bad timing for Penelope And The Twelve Months. As Grant described, “The audience for Disney films became more and more adult, especially after the war, so we made an effort to avoid kiddie-material.”

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16. Maria in Mistress Masham’s Repose

Mistress Masham’s Repose started life as a novel in 1946. Four decades later, its plot struck a chord with Disney, who began developing the idea into a feature-length movie. As in the T.H. White book, the central character is ten-year-old Maria, an orphan whose guardian is the awful vicar Mr. Hater, who often leaves her in the care of the stern Miss Brown.

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However, a lonely Maria finds solace in taking peaceful walks around the grounds of their home. On one excursion, the ten-year-old discovers a Lilliputian island in a lake on the estate. The girl befriends the little people who brighten up her unhappy life. Although Roy Disney was charmed by the plot, one-time CEO Michael Eisner wasn’t a fan and the idea was scrapped.

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15. Ella The Singing Elephant in Wild Life

Wild Life started development at the tail end of the 1990s, and was intended to satirize popular society from the ’70s. Paying homage to that decade’s iconic figures like Anna Wintour and Andy Warhol, it told the story of rival nightclubs. In the fictional tale, club owner Red Pittsain’s star attraction had started to dip in terms of popularity. As such, his livelihood was dragged into jeopardy as his patrons turned to his rival.

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Realizing he needed a new star, Pittsain finds talking elephant Ella at a nearby zoo. But Ella eventually recognizes that show business isn’t for her and longs to return home. However, it was deemed the movie’s plot was more suited to live action and an older audience rather than an animation marketed to kids. Work on Wild Life ceased in 2000 despite the nightclub owners already being cast as Kathy Bates and Alan Cumming.

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14. Janie in the animation Stoneflight

Stoneflight was set to follow the familiar thread of a lonely girl outcast from a turbulent home life. To escape the family drama, Janie heads to the New York rooftop of her household and befriends the gargoyle. You see, the pair find they have a lot in common, what with the creature’s life of solitude.

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The gargoyle brings Janie to Central Park. Here, more troubled kids are hanging out with their own friendly critters. The plot is an adaptation of a 1975 book of the same name. And according to Variety in 2001, Disney seemed to run with the screenplay when it landed on their desk. However, it’s unclear what happened to shelve the idea.

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13. Lady Newt in a canceled Pixar comedy

In a story being developed by Pixar around 2010, the blue-footed newt was facing extinction. As such, it was down to the last male and female to keep their entire species going. But first they had to try to, y’know, like each other. The story focussed on the concept that love isn’t an outlined thing. As the movie’s press release stated, “Love, it turns out, is not a science.”

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Newt was first due to hit theaters in the summer of 2011. However, despite being rescheduled for the following year, it was ultimately superseded by Brave. When the animation disappeared from Pixar’s schedules, speculation suggested it had been shelved. Then the project was handed to Up and Monsters, Inc. director Pete Doctor, who proposed “another idea altogether, which I think is better.” That idea evolved into 2015’s Inside Out.

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12. Minnehaha, a proposed sequel to Little Hiawatha

In 1937 Disney released a Silly Symphonies short animation called Little Hiawatha. In it, a young and hapless Native American child embarks on a hunting expedition. Each animal that the eponymous Hiawatha targets makes fun of his hunting skills – or rather his lack of them. But when he pursues a bear, the other creatures protect him in gratitude for not killing them. Minnehaha was suggested as a sequel.

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Little Hiawatha was loosely based on a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem. In this piece, Minnehaha was the lover of Hiawatha who met an unfortunate demise. Minnehaha and her death scene have inspired numerous works of art. However, it remains a mystery as to why Disney never actually paid their own homage to the fictional character.

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11. Queen Odette in Disney’s own take on Swan Lake

There was a time when Disney flirted with a proposal to remake the famous ballet Swan Lake. In the Tchaikovsky-scored story, Odette is a princess who falls under the spell of a wicked wizard and consequently turns into a swan. Had the animation company developed the idea, then, Odette would have been a Disney princess.

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Well, the idea was developed – but the finished product was released outside of the Disney stable. Richard Rich once worked as a director at Walt Disney Feature Animation throughout the ’70s and up until 1986. But he was fired, prompting him to assemble his own staff – most of whom were Disney colleagues – to form Rich Animation Studios. He took the Swan Lake idea with him, creating 1994’s The Swan Princess.

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10. A live-action adaptation of Aida

Disney once toyed with the idea of remaking the opera Aida. After all, the story does feature some of the studio’s magic ingredients. That is, a female servant happens to fall in love with a man of influence. In the case of this story, the slave Aida takes a liking for an Egyptian soldier. However, the soldier is torn between his feelings for Aida and his allegiance to Egypt’s leader.

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Nevertheless, somewhere along the way the idea was dropped. It’s unclear why Disney ended up canning any ideas for a live action adaptation. It is, after all, still a popular production in cultural calendars across the world after nearly 140 years. However, it’s possible that some of the plot would have been lost on a younger audience.

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9. A Hercules sequel with Meg – or even Hebe – as a princess

In 1997 Hercules’ performance at the box office was regarded as a disappointment at Disney. However, although it didn’t generate the same returns as The Lion King or Pocahontas, it did capture some hearts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, a sequel was proposed. This was to feature the hero’s wife Meg as the lead character, while Hercules was away battling in the Trojan War.

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Another proposed sequel idea pitched Hercules’ sister Hebe as the lead. As a keen-eyed, sword-wielding archer, no doubt the female fighter would have been a kick-ass heroine. And, although Hercules II ideas fell by the wayside – even at a time Disney was milking the straight-to-video market – two seasons of Hercules: The Animated Series ran in 1998 and 1999.

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8. The gun-toting rebel, Vasilisa Vasilyevna

According to the Russian fairytale, Vasilisa Vasilyevna went to such great lengths to conceal her true gender that she went by Vasily, the masculine version of her name. You see, despite being the priest’s daughter, she could wield a gun and ride a horse like any soldier. And she enjoyed little more than knocking back the vodka shots.

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Vasilyevna caught the king’s attention. However, when seeking more information on the “young man,” his staff revealed that it was, in fact, a woman. The king then resorted to sly methods to uncover her true gender but was quickly outwitted by the non-conformist. While there’s little evidence that the character was under consideration by Disney, imagine how progressive the studio would be for introducing such a radical heroine.

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7. Tam Lin, a princess who never was thanks to a Disney feud

Tam Lin was originally a male character whose story was told throughout Scottish folklore. However, modern adaptations depict the protagonist as female. But describing the character as a “princess” would be to land spectacularly wide of the mark. In fact, alternate names for a 1970 movie included The Devil’s Woman and The Devil’s Widow.

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You see, in the Scottish fairytale, Tam Lin was portrayed as a womanizer. Indeed, the female counterpart in the movie adaptation isn’t depicted in much of a favorable light either. Nevertheless, the character was once under consideration by Disney in the early ’00s. But then-Disney CEO, Michael Eisner had a bitter falling out with Roy E. Disney and rejected the project when he learned of his enemy’s interest in it.

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6. Iara, a copper-skinned beauty from Brazilian mythology

The name Iara – or Yara – translates from the native Brazilian language of Old Tupi as “water lady.” She is a figure from Brazilian mythology said to have tanned skin, dark eyes and distinctive green hair. Oh, and she’s also half sea creature. In other words, she’s a mermaid. Furthermore, she has many tales to tell.

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Iara’s stories typically revolve around Brazilian myths surrounding disappearances in the region’s abundant rainforests. And while her characteristics follow those of other mermaids – notably eternal youth – her tales are perhaps not as suitable for Disney’s roster. Besides, there would be too much similarity to a certain other mermaid in the animation studio’s lineup.

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5. Banu Goshasp, a savvy Iranian princess

In Disney’s world, princesses typically fall for the male hero. It’s likely, then, that Banu Goshasp, a principal player in Iranian mythology, wouldn’t fit in. Indeed, in one story, the Iranian princess was going about her business when she caught the attention of a foreign prince. And when a rival prince figured the best way to get Goshasp’s attention was to kidnap her, she promptly chopped him in two. Ouch.

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Many stories of Banu Goshasp exist in ancient literature, including a nearly 1,000-year-old poem made up of 900 verses. It seems, however, that this princess was determined not to have her happily ever after. When one particular admirer emerges victorious from an epic battle among other potential suitors – the majority of whom the princess slays or imprisons – she then ties him up in anger on their wedding night.

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4. Vanellope Von Schweetz, an honorary Disney princess

Vanellope Von Schweetz is, of course, already well known to anyone who has seen Wreck-it Ralph. But, for those who don’t know, she was the princess of Sugar Rush, a kart-racing arcade game that she dominated. However, a rival competitor reprogrammed her as a glitch that ensured she would never again compete in a race.

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So, if she’s already a princess in the Sugar Rush world, why not Disney, too? After all, her bubbly personality is highly relatable to the studio’s core demographic, while she also exhibits a sharp-witted intelligence for wider appeal. However, according to entertainment website The Things, her choice to become president of Sugar Rush forfeits her from any regal positions.

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3. The First Queen, a.k.a. Snow White’s mother

The First Queen appeared in an early cut of Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. However, her scene was deleted, so little information on the character can be extrapolated from the film. For more information, one needs to turn to the literature. Notably, the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Golden Book from 1952 has some important details.

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In the tale, the Queen was sewing when she pricked her finger. As she wistfully gazed out of the window that cold day, she longed for a daughter “with lips as red as blood, skin as white as snow and hair as black as ebony.” She got her wish when Snow White was born. Later, it’s suggested that the First Queen passes away shortly after giving birth to Snow White, providing a backstory to the 1937 animation.

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2. Señorita Cactus, the toy who doesn’t like to be played with

In an alternate universe, Señorita Cactus was the third recruit to Woody’s Roundup gang in Toy Story 2. Similar to the Prospector, Señorita Cactus wasn’t fond of kids and preferred to be left on the shelf and admired rather than tossed around on the floor. In the final movie, however, the eagle-eyed may have still spotted her.

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Despite making way for cowgirl Jessie in the final Toy Story 2 cut, Señorita Cactus wasn’t written out of the movie completely. You see, when Buzz Lightyear inadvertently releases Zurg at Al’s Toy Barn when he collides with a stack of toys, look closely and you’ll see boxes for Señorita Cactus. She also crops up in the pinball machine scene in Toy Story 4.

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1. Rumpelstiltskin – okay, not a princess but reimagined as a good guy

The fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin was first published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. It tells the story of how an imp spins straw into gold for a miller’s daughter in exchange for her riches. After she gives up her necklace and ring, the only thing left she can offer Rumpelstiltskin is her firstborn child. Well, the goblin’s desire for a child became the premise of a 2003 Disney remake.

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Disney owned the rights to a Rumpelstitskin story due to be titled Uncle Stiltskin. And, as well as a friendlier name, the character was more affable, too. You see, he yearned for a child. Although attempts to get one by spinning gold out of straw failed, he nevertheless learns what family really means. Unfortunately, Uncle Stiltskin clashed with the production of Tangled, so the project was shelved.

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