The Wonderful World of Romance: A Definitive Valentine’s Ranking of Disney’s Top 10 Couples


Caleb Steindel, News Editor/Staff Writer

It’s no secret that Valentine’s Day sparks mixed emotions. For some, it’s a season for passionate celebration of intimacy and connection, and for others, it instills a painful ache of heartbreak and a brutal stab of loneliness right in the chest. However, no matter which camp we find ourselves in, we can find some common ground this Feb. 13th. The magic of Disney provides a warm wave of comfort for those in sad isolation and exciting nostalgia for those looking to celebrate romance. Today, we’re diving into the happiest place on Earth for a look at the best and most loving couples in Disney.

One of my most problematic opinions is my dislike of the Incredibles franchise, but I still felt compelled to include the mother and father of one of Disney’s most iconic families. The couple behind the masks of Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are relatable; not some unrealistic picture of perfection, but two flawed parents who stick by each other and love their family. They have their struggles, but they always come back to one another, and their unity is the driving force behind their success. It’s not an understatement to say their love helped defeat Syndrome and save the world, and while they may not be as picturesque or romantic as others on this list, they deserve a mention at the very least.

Often lost amidst the royal shuffle of Disney princes and princesses, Hunchback features a couple that takes a backseat to the main protagonist. While some bemoan the fact that Quasimodo did not become Esmeralda’s romantic interest, the truth is that their platonic relationship allows for a far greater love story. Phoebus, a captain of the guard, and Esmeralda, a lowly gypsy woman, defy sociocultural standards with their romance, and the selflessness of their characters is unparalleled. Phoebus displays his morality by betraying a cruel minister for the sake of the innocent, and Esmeralda shows her kind heart by befriending the outcasts. They were made for each other, and their relationship taught us that friendship can often precede romance. Listen up, all you friend-zoned folks! There’s still hope!

One of the most classically beautiful love stories of all time, there has always been something pure and unfiltered about the relationship between Tarzan and Jane. A proper English girl and a wild man, they had almost nothing in common, but the nature of being human was all they needed. They didn’t need words to express their affection, but instead, their unspoken love manifests through silent interactions and Phil Collins’ serenading. Their romance reminds us that our humanity is what ultimately unites us. That, and even a crazy monkey man living in the wild can find love.

Who says that inanimate objects can’t find love? Certainly not Disney! McQueen and Sally might not be human, per se, but if you look past their airbags and axles, you’ll find an absolutely adorable couple; and one of the most underrated Disney pairings, too. Lightning’s the bigshot celebrity with millions of admirers but virtually no true friends. His selfishness is on display, and even in Radiator Springs, he maintains an air of condescending superiority. All that changes when he meets Sally, though. Her witty, charming personality helps McQueen find his center and grow in humility. Their interactions are also quintessential Disney cuteness overload. Who knew we’d get that from a couple of vehicles?

First cars, now lions. We’re taking a break from the humans for now, but Disney has so many other magical species that I really don’t feel bad. Let’s be honest, for many of you reading this, you grew up with these lion cubs. From the breathtaking “Circle of Life” opener to the vanquishing of Scar, The Lion King holds a special place in many of our hearts – and Nala and Simba pull much of that weight. The best thing about this dynamic duo is the staying power of their adorable young love that grew with separation and blossomed into a royal romance. Their acts of heroism against evil are unrivaled, and they earned the respect of Pride Rock as a kind and kingly couple. The only downside is that Nala probably made Simba look for some new friends. One can only tolerate Timon’s and Pumbaa’s greasy grub diet for so long.


One of my absolute favorite aspects of this undersea romance story is the time they spend getting to know each other. Cliche Disney relationships are often rushed, but this one takes things slowly, as both characters are eager to just be around each other before getting married. That’s love at its purest. Ariel is a young, naive mermaid who would do anything for her love, and Eric is a gentle human that helps us realize beauty is truly found on the inside. He doesn’t care what Ariel looks like, because whether she has fins or feet, he loves her, and their undying devotion to each other ultimately saves the entire ocean. They might have to invest in oxygen tanks for Ariel’s family functions, but that shouldn’t be an issue. True love is priceless.

While most of the world was fawning over a sentient snowman and a belting ice queen, we knew that the true essence of “Frozen” could be found in one of the most uniquely unpredictable Disney romances of all time. Kristoff and Anna are pretty obviously hilarious and adorable, but their #5 ranking is rooted in something much deeper than superficial personality traits. They proved that pursuing initial physical attraction isn’t always wise, and acting on instinctual emotions can be incredibly dangerous. Kristoff represents somewhat of a friend-zoned guy friend figure, so he’s definitely a hero in more ways than one, and his courageous, sacrificial acts for the girl he loves ultimately help bring life to an entire city. Moral of the story: be wise about who you’re dating, or you might just end up with a handsome prince who’s also a devious murderer.

Part of the reason these two aren’t higher on the list is that Aladdin can come off as cocky and pretentious. But that’s beside the point. This is a CLASSIC Disney couple with a beautifully inspiring story about following your heart. Aladdin and Jasmine have legal, cultural, and economic barriers between them, but that doesn’t stop Aladdin from pulling out all the stops to be with the one he loves, and it doesn’t stop Jasmine from breaking through the barriers of an archaic and unjust law. The story of Aladdin transcends much of Disney because the couple is quite literally risking their lives to be with each other, and in the process, they successfully strike down injustice and topple an oppressive regime. Just a normal Tuesday night for Aladdin and Jasmine – and they still find time for a beautifully romantic carpet ride across their hometown.

Disney offers so many great stories about hearts being transformed, but this one is definitely up there. Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert is one of the funniest modern-day Disney characters, and he is content to get by on theft, deceit, and off-the-cuff humor until he meets that one person that keeps him grounded. Rapunzel lives an oppressed life at the hands of her diabolical, suffocating mother, and she has begun to lose sight of the good things in life until she meets the one person who helps her escape and see the world. Together, they shape each other and grow closer to each other with each new adventure, and with Maximus and Pascal as their third and fourth wheels, the guards they have up begin to melt away at the prospect of a brand-new life with each other full of happiness.

OK, I get it. For a couple that gets almost no screen time together and barely exists outside of an early montage, this might seem like a high spot for them to hold. But this is a hill I will die on. Carl and Ellie are the most gosh darn adorable couple in the pantheon of Disney movies. In Up, we get a vivid picture of the undying nature of true love and the great lengths that someone would go to in order to preserve the memory of someone they lost. The absolutely gut-wrenching, emotional tale of Ellie’s death, relayed almost solely soundless video, makes your heart go out to Carl. But the most precious aspect of this couple’s relationship is Carl’s character arc as a stereotypical old grump. He may not smile or laugh much, but Ellie was the one person that could constantly bring him joy. Don’t we all want to experience love like that?


A vector illustration of beauty and the beast (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Be honest – did you really think anyone else would get the top spot? Yes, the Beast’s name is Adam (my favorite Disney fun fact), and yes, this is the ultimate Disney love story. A young princess is trapped by an unforgiving monster, and through her love and kindness, she is able to connect with the tender heart of this beast and restore life to an entire castle that was literally suffering under a witch’s curse. Belle looked past her captor’s hideousness and reached out with a loving, servant’s heart, and through her actions, she begins to truly care for him; proving once and for all, that beauty on the inside is what truly counts. Sure, she might be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but that doesn’t mean Belle can’t teach us a valuable lesson. The pure relationship between a sweet, young girl and a brutish yet tenderhearted beast takes the No. 1 spot on my definitive list of the best Disney couples ever.