Disney has come out with a lot of movies, but is strongly known for its classic princess movies. Stories like The little Mermaid, which will soon get a live-action version, is just one of the classic love stories Disney loves to tell.


Over the years, especially in the last decade, Disney has done a much better job of breaking away from the usual love story and focusing more on other things like friendship, personal growth, and even discovering a family. These films provide a wider variety of content for the general audience.

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Updated on January 24, 2023 by Colin McCormick: Among the many Disney films released in 2022, some of them eschewed the old convention of needing a romance at the center of these narratives. From Lightyear to Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers, there are always Disney movies that can tell their entertaining and satisfying stories without having to rely on the expected love story at the center.


The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1977)

Despite being one of the longest-running and most recognizable Disney characters of all time, Pooh has never really had any love interests. He is seen as a plain old bear who enjoys his honey, his friends and wanders through life with childlike innocence.

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This is maintained in the film Plush’s many adventures. The movie is basically a collection of shorts that follow Pooh and his friends on their silly and charming adventures through the Hundred Acre Woods.

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

alice in wonderland lying in flowers

Although Disney’s original plans for Alice in Wonderland were even creepier, the classic remains one of the studio’s strangest animated films. Following the curious young Alice, the film travels into the surreal world of Wonderland, where she meets strange and even dangerous characters.

The fact that there is no love story is just one of the unconventional aspects of the film. The whole point is that Alice is surrounded by these unhinged people and creatures that she just doesn’t understand, so there really weren’t any romantic prospects to speak of.

Dumbo (1941)

Dumbo best Disney movie

Though Dumbo is probably best remembered as one of those children’s movies with very scary scenes, the big-eared elephant has captured the hearts of many Disney fans over the years. The sad yet inspiring story of Dumbo’s time in the circus makes him an endearing hero.

Dumbo is not a very popular member of the circus, being mocked and mistreated by many of the other animals. However, the story focuses on the love between Dumbo and his mother, as well as the friendship he forms with Timothy the mouse, who helps him find fame.

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

The Disney movie The Great Mouse Detective

That Great mouse detective is an underrated entry in Disney’s roster of animated adventures. It’s a take on Sherlock Holmes as it centers on Basil, a brilliant mouse scientist who is hired to find a young girl’s missing father, which leads him to meet his archenemy Professor Ratigan.

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The film unfolds as a fun mystery adventure with Basil trying to crack the case and save the day. Unsurprisingly, he has no time for romance, although he forms a friendship with Dawson, who becomes his Watson-like companion.

Toy Story (1995)

Woody and Buzz Fall in Style in Toy Story (1995)

There are some who might argue that there is a very central love story in it Toy Story, but it’s clearly about friendship rather than romance. The first Pixar feature film shows the cowboy toy Woody struggling to no longer be a favorite when his child gets an exciting space action figure Buzz Lightyear.

The relationship between Buzz and Woody takes a long time to heat up with their battle dynamic making for some of the best moments. While they each get significant love interests in the sequel, this first film is all about them finding a friend in each other, making for one of the best buddy movies of all time.

The Jungle Book (1967)

The Jungle Book

Disney often draws inspiration from classic books and fairy tales. The Jungle Book was originally written by Rudyard Kipling and Walt Disney made an animated film from it. The story has become a classic as the man-cub known as Mowgli learns to grow up in the jungle.

The film is full of fun, songs, action and danger, and there is not a love story in sight. It’s more about friendships, survival and discovering your true self in a world that is so different. There is a moment where he sees a young girl in the nearby village and seems smitten, but it’s only at the very end and it’s more likely that he’s excited to see someone like him rather than he is in love with her.

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

Main characters from The Emperor's New Groove.

Having an extremely selfish character as the main character was a bold move on Disney’s part, but it ended up working beautifully in The Emperor’s New Groove. Young Prince Kuzco seems to care about no one but himself until his advisor, Yzma, accidentally turns him into a llama, which ends up sending him on the adventure of a lifetime.

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Kuzco must learn to care about others and become a kind person in order to get back to his palace so he can become human again. The film has a lot of personal growth for many of the characters and shows the strength of friendships once trust is earned.

Treasure Planet (2002)

Treasure Planet John Silver with Jim Hawkins

Treasure Planet not only managed to steer clear of a classic love story, but it took fans to distant galaxies. But with such a unique story that doesn’t match Disney’s typically lighter and happier feel, it’s a film that’s often forgotten.

As one of Disney+’s hidden gems, the film has a lot to offer. It shows the pros and cons of exploration and stepping outside one’s comfort zone. As Jim Hawkins travels to other planets and meets new people and creatures, some scary things happen, but it’s still a great movie about space for kids. The film is loved for its out-of-this-world sense of adventure.

Meet The Robinsons (2007)

The cast of Meet The Robinsons

The story of an orphan who finds the perfect family has been told a handful of times throughout movie history. Meet The Robinson’s must be the most creative version of that story. This is not only a story about orphans finding their homes, but it also involves time travel and science.

The story focuses more on promoting belief in oneself, no matter how many times failure happens. The main character’s motto is literally “Keep moving forward”. Persistence and the importance of being there for a friend, even in the smallest of ways, are the big takeaways from the film. Wilbur’s family’s quirkiness and unique personalities just add to the film’s already fun vibes.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Hiro rides Baymax in Big Hero 6.

Over the past decade, Disney’s animated films have included many deeper subjects, such as dealing with the death of a loved one. Hiro loses his brother Tadashi early Big Hero 6 was gut-wrenching, but it helped set up the rest of the movie, which was about dealing with all the emotions that come with losing someone you love.

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Hiro takes on Tadashi’s project to create Baymax and uses him to find out how the fire started is what brings him closer to all of Tadashi’s friends who end up becoming part of his family. Big Hero 6 also explores topics like never giving up, embracing your inner nerd, and accepting your feelings and help when you need it.

Zootopia (2016)

Nick and Judy in a romantic setting in Zootopia

Another film trope that is often overused is the story of the underdog. Disney took a very interesting approach with this story Zootopia and hit it out of the ballpark. It was super creative to use animals, especially predators and prey, to show the hierarchy of society and draw parallels with real life.

Not only does it show the importance of never giving up on your dreams, but it also shows the importance of being able to change your story. While Nick and Judy become close, they do not end up romantically together. The two end up becoming partners in the police force, and together they help fight crime in Zootopia.

Pinocchio (1940)

Jiminy sits on Pinocchio's shoes in Pinocchio

Pinocchio was only the second animated feature film Disney made. Based on an Italian children’s novel by Carlo Collodi, Disney brought the story to life and there are now countless versions of the beloved film. The newest version is a live-action film similar to the animated one, but with some key differences.

The story explores the importance of telling the truth, even when it can be difficult to do. Some might argue that there is a love story between Pinocchio and his father Gepetto, but it is not the traditional love story where a couple falls in love in all those clichés. A love story between a father and his son creates a whole new story that can be relatable to a whole new audience.

Brave (2012)

Merida shoots arrows in front of all the clans in Brave

One of the first Disney films to involve a princess as the main character who did not have a love interest was Merida in Brave. Merida was a princess and she had to be courted, but she didn’t want anyone to love, plus she thought she was capable of ruling her country on her own.

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Her drive to change the way things had been for decades shook her people and created a backlash, but after some personal growth and insight, she proved it could work. Having a Disney princess without a significant other was new to Disney, but quickly became more the norm as more movies like this followed.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Raya walks in the rain in Raya and the Last Dragon.

Not only is Disney getting better at making princesses who break the rules and go against social norms, but they are also creating characters who are remembered for their actions as opposed to their social status. Raya, i Raya and the Last Dragon, is a warrior princess, but since there are other rulers as well, and she’s been on the run for most of the movie, it’s easy to forget her high status.

Raya races across the various kingdoms of Kumandra as she searches for Sise, the last dragon in hopes that it can help her restore her kingdom and get rid of the plague that is consuming the land. Her selflessness, heroism and bravery are two big parts of what makes her such an amazing character and an even better role model for anyone who wants to be like her. There are even many quotes that prove she is the most heroic princess throughout the movie.

Moana (2016)

Moana and Maui from Moana

Following in the footsteps of Brave, Moana came to the cinema without a love story in sight. That is unless fans include Moana’s love of the sea. Like Merida, Moana has to prove herself, but it’s more for her own gain. Her adventures show the people of Motunui that the open sea is not as scary as they once thought.

Moana’s growth as a person and overcoming her identity crises ended up helping her and her village in the end. She showed fans that it is possible to beat the odds with hard work, perseverance and bravery. While the film is filled with many heartfelt moments, Moana never shows interest in anyone romantically.

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