Queen Elsa (also known as The Snow Queen) is the deuteragonist of Disney's 2013 animated feature film Frozen and protagonist of Frozen II. She is the older sister of Princess (later Queen) Anna and was next in line for Arendelle's throne, until her powers over ice and snow led her to become the famous Snow Queen.
Born with the power to create ice and snow, Elsa one day accidentally hit Anna's head with her power. Feared that she would harm her family, Elsa isolated herself from the world as well as her beloved sister. Three years after the king and queen of Arendelle died, Elsa was crowned queen of Arendelle. During the coronation ceremony, her power was revealed. In fear, she ran away from the kingdom and into the mountains, where she created her own castle and dress to free herself from others.
When Anna attempted to bring her back, she panicked and accidentally hit Anna's heart with magic, consequently freezing her own sister. Ashamed and frightened, she created Marshmallow, a gigantic snow monster, designed especially to scare away visitors. Hans then tried to bring Elsa back with success, but her magic broke her from the cell. Later on, Hans told her that her power killed her sister. In tears, she broke down, stopping the blizzard storm. By then, Hans decided to strike Elsa with a sword, but Anna saved her by blocking the sword using her frozen body. Due to Anna's act of true love, she melted, and Elsa regained her throne and her happiness.
At a young age, Elsa realized that she holds an ancient ability over ice and snow, and often used her abilities to play with her younger sister Anna. Elsa shared a close bond with her free-spirited younger sibling, and the two were the best of friends. They often at night would make it snow in the royal ballroom. However, one night while the two were playing in the ballroom, Anna falls down from the high snow slopes Elsa had created. Elsa tries to save her by using her magic, but accidentally strikes her sister instead. Their parents, the King and Queen, immediately seek aid for Anna by visiting the legendary trolls, whose leader, a shaman named Pabbie, is able to stabilize Anna's condition since it had only affected the head, not the heart, which would have been fatal. To be safe, Pabbie then removes Anna's knowledge and memories of magic, much to Elsa's despair. Pabbie takes the time to explain the true strength of Elsa's abilities, telling her that her power will only grow and there's not only beauty in it, but danger, and that she must learn to control them at all cost, or fear will be her enemy. While the King promises to help Elsa control her powers, the incident leaves Elsa traumatized by them. As a result, the King and Queen order the gates to be locked for Elsa and Anna's safety.
From then on, Elsa forcibly and willingly spends the rest of her life distanced from other people, including Anna, trying to keep her powers from growing out of control and harming those she cares about. Even so, the persistent Anna tries time and time again to spend some quality time with her sister, but fails at every turn, leading her to eventually believe Elsa despises her.
Throughout the years, Elsa's only true human contact is with her parents, who calmly try to help their daughter control her abilities, teaching her to remain calm for fear and stress would only cause chaos. To help further, the king bestows upon Elsa a pair of gloves, which are temporarily able to suppress her powers (teaching her to "conceal it, don't feel it, don't let it show"), making life much easier, though still heavily fearful. And despite better control, Elsa still refuses to contact Anna, truly terrified of harming her yet again. One day, during Anna and Elsa's teenage years, their parents depart on a two-week trip (to an unknown location), and though Elsa is torn about their parting, she bids them farewell as they were off. However, this is her last encounter with them, as the parents die when a massive wave capsizes their ship, causing them to drown. A funeral is held, though Anna is the only one of the sisters to attend. Elsa, instead, is too afraid to even go to the funeral out of fear of hurting someone with her powers and stays within her bedroom, mourning for the loss of her parents, alone. Because of her devastated emotions, her powers corrupt the bedroom, freezing everything inside and reflecting the sorrow of the event. With the passing of her beloved parents and contact with Anna, her only family left, still deemed too dangerous, Elsa is now truly alone.
Three years later, Elsa is chosen to be crowned the new queen regnant. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Arendelle invites royalty from far and wide to join in the festivities, such as the dashing Prince Hans and the pompous Duke of Weselton among others. Whilst Anna, the citizens of Arendelle, and the visiting royals couldn't be more excited, Elsa is beyond reluctant, fearful the major contact with the world will lead to the discovery of her powers. Even so, she accepts that it's all merely for a day, and tries her best to conceal her emotions, though the task proves to be difficult. At the cathedral, Elsa's crowning takes place, but because she must wield the traditional scepter and globus cruciger without her gloves, her abilities are nearly revealed. Fortunately, she's able to withstand the near exposure (presumably dismissed as nervous sweat), and the festivities commence with a nightly ball. There, Elsa and Anna are reunited for the first time in years, and they share their very first conversation for quite some time, with Elsa leading the way, although the conversation seems somewhat stilted. Both sisters appear to be very joyous to finally share some time together, even smelling the scent of chocolate, and although Elsa's enjoying herself and quality time with Anna, Anna's open desire to have moments like the occasion at hand frequently causes Elsa to become reserved once again, reluctantly telling Anna her wish simply cannot be, and without any further explanations as to why, breaking the younger princess' heart and prompting her to leave.
Meanwhile, Elsa continues on with the party, meeting the visiting dignitaries and talking with them for a while before Anna returns, but with Prince Hans by her side. After a small introduction, the two announce their newfound engagement, and ask for Elsa's blessing upon the marriage. Elsa is baffled by the shocking news, but Anna and Hans couldn't appear more excited, going on to ramble about the wedding arrangements. Elsa ceases the sudden rambling by denying such marriage, much to Anna's disappointment. The queen asks to speak with Anna alone and in private, likely to finally confess her abilities and why it's not wise to marry a man she just met without causing a scene that would surely get her true magical nature exposed, but the younger princess refuses any private conversation, stating whatever Elsa has to say can be said to both her and Hans. Becoming frustrated, Elsa outright forbids Anna of marrying someone she just met, indirectly telling the princess she knows nothing about true love, causing Anna to hiss back, telling Elsa all she knows is how to shut people out. Although Elsa is visibly hurt and saddened by this, Elsa continues to deny her blessing for the marriage, and the argument only worsens when Elsa orders the guards to end the party and close the gates. But the heartbroken Anna confronts her sister, completely terrified of living life imprisoned within the castle again. With that, Elsa suggests that she leaves the castle so she can be happy. Things take an ultimate turn for the worst when, out of blind fury from Anna's constant questioning, Elsa's powers are finally revealed, causing ice shards to rise from the ground, nearly striking Anna and the other guests. Terrified by what she's done and the reactions it receives, Elsa flees, though Anna, Hans and the Duke of Weselton chase after her. Elsa retreats into the fjord, successfully escaping her pursuers, and as she does, everything in the land begins to freeze, beginning with the entire body of water in the fjord, trapping all the ships before spreading throughout the rest of the kingdom. Having failed to retrieve her, Anna and Hans return to the castle courtyard, where the guests have gathered. The Duke of Weselton begins to panic as it eerily begins snowing, declaring they must take action and put an end to Elsa's curse, but Anna refuses and volunteers to seek out Elsa herself and make things right, feeling it's her fault for pushing her. With Hans being left in charge of the kingdom, Anna heads off on her horse to begin her search for her sister.
Meanwhile, that same night, Elsa has since arrived at the North Mountain, miles upon miles away from Arendelle. At first, she's still dreadfully downhearted by all that's just happened. The loss of her sister, the abandoning of her kingdom and subjects, and the pain of her past consuming her now that the public saw her as a demon for her winter magic. However, oblivious to the storm she caused, she starts to embrace her powers now that she is alone, letting them roam free and finally unleashing the beauty aspect that Pabbie told her about years ago, and in turn, this makes the new queen happier than she's ever been in years. Now that she's living without fear of harming those she cares about, Elsa has ultimate control over her abilities and creates herself an ice palace and her signature ice gown out of her magic, establishing herself as the Snow Queen and officially abandoning her place as queen of Arendelle, declaring she's never returning to her kingdom now that she's finally happy and completely free to be who she is. During her spectacle, Elsa also recreates Olaf, the snowman she built with Anna as a child, but unknowingly imbues him with life. And with his new enchantment, Olaf heads off into the world, eventually stumbling upon Anna and leading her to Elsa's palace sometime afterwards.
A few days later, Elsa lives peacefully in solitude, until Anna shows up, transported by Kristoff. While Elsa becomes slightly elated that Anna had come to visit her, she is still hesitant to return to Arendelle, as well as rekindle her bond with Anna, still fearful of harming her. Elsa then advises Anna to return home where she's safe, wanting her to be happy in Arendelle, but Anna refuses to do so just as Olaf rushes in, reminding Elsa of the whimsical childhood the sisters shared. His presence proves there's love and beauty in her powers, and remind her of the joyful moments she spent with Anna. It was enough to bring a smile to the queen's face until the memory of nearly killing Anna haunts her again, prompting Elsa to turn away, bidding farewell to her sister. Anna accidentally increases the discomfort and stress upon mentioning the kingdom's in danger, Elsa being horrified to learn that she had placed a curse upon it. Overcome by fear and guilt, Elsa unleashes her powers by accident once again, but this time, she inadvertently hits Anna in her heart. As Olaf and Kristoff (Anna's companion who offered to help guide her through the mountains to find Elsa) run to try and aid Anna, Elsa demands for them to leave her, as Anna belongs in Arendelle and she, however, does not. While Anna still insists she come back with them, telling her she won't leave any other way, Elsa is forced to create a gruesome snow beast known as Marshmallow, who throws the trio out of the palace.
Afterwards, Marshmallow becomes Elsa's official bodyguard, given that Elsa truly wants nothing more than to be alone, and disguises himself as snow-covered rocks outside the palace to keep away any and all visitors who may harm her majesty in any way. Meanwhile, within the walls of the once beautiful ice palace, Elsa has shown to have, despite desperately trying to conceal her emotions, lost control over her powers once again, as the fear of endangering Arendelle has completely overcome her, causing ice shards to fill her palace, giving it a darker and fearful design, matching the monster Elsa fears she has become.
Meanwhile, Anna becomes weak, with Kristoff correctly believing it's due to Elsa striking her. To find a cure, Kristoff leads Anna and their companions to the Valley of the Living Rock. Pabbie comes forward and informs them that if not removed, Anna will freeze to solid ice, unless Anna is able to perform an act of true love. To save herself, Anna and the others rush back to Arendelle to find and receive a kiss from Hans before it's too late, believing true love's kiss is the act that would break the spell.
Meanwhile, back in the mountains, Hans and a group of soldiers arrive to find Anna and arrest Elsa after believing the Snow Queen had Anna captive. Marshmallow immediately leaps into action, and Elsa, upon hearing the commotion, flees inside and tries to hide. As Marshmallow defends against the attack, two soldiers sneak past him and enter, searching for Elsa in an attempt to kill her as per the Duke's orders, defying Hans' orders to not harm her. They soon corner her, and Elsa is fearful at first, but eventually, after becoming very provoked, uses her abilities against the two, willingly, and comes close to killing them, completely furious at the harm they've brought upon her and her home, as well as destroying her vow to keep her powers from harming others. Outside, Marshmallow continues to battle, but Hans brutally injures him and causes him to go plummeting into a chasm to his apparent death, leaving Elsa devoid of protection and allowing Hans and his henchmen access into the palace, where Elsa has gained the upper hand against the Duke's goons. Just as Elsa was about to murder the two, Hans appears and stops her, telling her not to prove she's the monster they believe she is. Elsa settles down a bit at Hans' words, realizing the demon she was becoming and halts her magic. However, one of the soldiers aims his arrow at Elsa, still following the Duke's orders, and just as he is about to shoot her, Hans intervenes, causing the arrow to cut through Elsa's chandelier which then plummets towards the ground. Elsa tries to escape the collision, but is knocked out in the process. Hans and the soldiers then capture her and head back to the kingdom.
Elsa soon awakens to find herself within the castle dungeon. When she tries to see outside, she finds herself chained with limited availability of movement. Using the limited ability to move, she finally witnesses the disaster she's brought upon her former kingdom. Just then, Hans arrives to speak with her. Elsa asks for Anna's whereabouts, but Hans explains she hasn't returned, much to Elsa's concern. The prince then pleads for the queen to end the curse, but she tearfully denies, telling Hans that she's unable to. With that, Hans takes his leave, just after Elsa begs for freedom, to which Hans claims he'll do what he can. Once he's gone, Elsa's powers suddenly get the better of her chains and are able to destroy the cell, allowing her to escape. Elsa flees the castle and heads back into the fjords to return home, but her fearful emotions cause a deadly blizzard to consume Arendelle, making her retreat that much more difficult, just as Hans learns of her escape. Needing to put an end to the winter, Hans heads out to kill Elsa, believing her death would not only free the kingdom, but earn him praise and admiration, selfishly wanting to rule the land as a beloved king.
Meanwhile, with Hans having betrayed Anna and revealing himself to be a ruthless murderer, her curse becomes stronger and her death process is nearly complete. Olaf, however, informs her that Kristoff is the one that truly loves her, and that he's the one she must kiss to save herself. Anna and Olaf retreat to find the mountain man, just as Hans confronts Elsa not too far away. Elsa pleads to be left alone, and asks Hans to take care of Anna for her, to which Hans responds by telling her about the curse she accidentally put upon Anna, and that she died from it despite his efforts to save her. Devastated by the heart wrenching news, Elsa collapses and mourns the death of her sister, ceasing the blizzard and giving Hans the chance to finally eliminate her, as she's now vulnerable. Hans slowly approaches the Snow Queen from behind and draws his sword, ready to decapitate her. However, Anna sees this, as she went out with Olaf's help to get to Kristoff, and although she was freezing to death quicker and quicker, she jumps in front of Elsa as her curse takes full effect, turning into an ice statue the second Hans' sword hits, causing him to fall back unconscious just before Anna's last, dying breath is lost.
Elsa quickly realizes the fate that befallen her sister, and desperately pleaded for her return. However, with all hope seeming lost, the Snow Queen breaks down in tears, mourning the loss of her deceased sister. Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven sadly look on, as does some of Arendelle's citizens, who realize Elsa's purity from the heartbreaking scene before them. However, Anna's sacrifice to save Elsa qualifies as an act of true love, and before long, the princess' frozen body begins to thaw, resulting in her revival.
Elsa is overwhelmingly joyous and relieved to see Anna alive and well, and is touched at how Anna has risked her life to save her. Anna responds by telling Elsa she loves her, and Olaf figures out that the act of true love was Anna's sacrifice, and that's what thawed her heart. These words from the snowman give Elsa the realization that the curse can be lifted, and that love is the key to doing so. Realizing that love enables her to thaw her powers, Elsa is able to use this and focuses herself, removing the icy curse from Arendelle and bringing summer back to the kingdom. With peace restored, Elsa rekindles her bond with Anna and is praised by her people for freeing them from the curse, having learned she's far from a monster. She uses her abilities to give Olaf a snow cloud to prevent him from melting away. As Hans struggles to his feet, Kristoff tries to attack Hans, but Anna confronts him instead for his betrayal by berating him for his frozen heart and punching him in the face, so hard that Hans falls off the ship they were standing on, into the water below. Anna and Elsa share another hug again, rekindling their sisterly bond.
After returning to her rightful position as queen of Arendelle, Elsa cuts off trade with Weselton, deports Hans, the Duke and his men for their attempted assassinations, and names Kristoff the Official Arendelle Ice Master and Deliverer. Later, she creates an ice rink in the castle courtyard for the people of Arendelle to enjoy. Elsa declares to Anna that they will never close the castle gates again now that she is finally accepted and makes a pair of ice skates for Anna, and the two sisters join in the celebration of harmony, having the fun they used to share together at long last.
Shortly after the events of Frozen, its Anna's birthday. Elsa is planning a big surprise, but she can't make up her mind on what ice candle Anna would like. Then, she goes to wake Anna, which is still a little tired, but she changes into her birthday gown. When Elsa sneezed, it made these cute little troublemakers, called the Snowgies. Elsa tells Anna she's fine, and to follow the string. They follow the string around the kingdom, Elsa sneezing all the way, and the Snowgies trying to ruin Anna's party. In the courtyard, the Snowgies have caused some trouble, knocking over Anna's birthday sign, Olaf offers to fix it, but he can't spell. At the clocktower, Elsa is exhausted and sick, and almost falls off it while twirling. But, Anna caught her just in time, and she suggests going home, take Elsa to bed and take care of her. When they enter the castle courtyard, the two sisters are greeted with a warm, welcoming surprise from the whole kingdom. They bring Anna to her birthday party sign. As Elsa sneezes, one little Snowgie stays and talks with her, the queen very confused. Elsa wants to blow the birthday horn, but she ends up sneezing in it and sending a giant snowball, crashing Hans into a pile of horse droppings. Then, Anna takes Elsa to bed, and one last sneeze is all it takes for Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven to bring the Snowgies to Marshmallow, hoping he'll take good care of them.
Olaf's Frozen Adventure
- For the First Time in Forever
- Let it Go
- Some Things Never Change
- For the First Time in Forever (reprise)
- Into the unknown (Frozen II)
- Show Yourself
- At one point, she and Anna supposed to join the lineup in 2015, but in this case, they spawned their own franchise, so they didn't join the lineup due to how successful their movie was, despite her and Anna being paired with the other princesses from time to time.
- Elsa is loosely based on the title character of "The Snow Queen", a short story by Hans Christian Andersen, and to a much lesser extent, Kai from the same story. While the character from the original fairy tale was neutral, Elsa was rewritten as the deuteragonist.
- Elsa's name (a variant of Elizabeth) is Germanic for "noble". It could also be a reference to Eliza, the heroine of another one of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, The Wild Swans.
- Elsa is 21 years old by the time of her coronation, according to Jennifer Lee, the Junior Novelization, and the age difference between her and Anna is 3 years (Anna is 18 years old). By Frozen II, she is 24 years old.
- She's the first queen of Arendelle with powers.
- She's the first queen to be 24 years old when she abdicates the throne.
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