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The prince went to meet her, took her by the hand and danced with her. He would dance with no other maiden, and never left loose of her hand, and if any one else came to invite her, he said, "This is my partner."

The Spear Counterpart to Princess Classic (and therefore ground zero for all Princely Tropes), the Prince Charming is, well, Prince Charming. In Fairy Tales, he often rescues the Damsel in Distress and marries her to live Happily Ever After.

Except, actually, all the princes in those tales were very seldom named. It was simply a "prince" or "king" or royalty of some sort. And when they did have names, they were genuine, even commonplace, names: John, Ivan, Jean, etc.

The term Prince Charming actually originates from an 1889 translation of Le roi Charmant, the Charming King, and then a year later the phrase "Prince Charming" was used in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

The term stuck.

Nowadays, the classic Prince Charming is almost never used, possibly because the Ruritanias which he often hailed from have largely abandoned monarchy, or joined the EU. The trope has been subverted, double subverted, inverted, averted, diverted, converted, and perverted (and ridiculed, but that's nothing to be scared of). Nowadays, the Prince is often Prince Charmless -- a Jerkass, Smug Snake, or downright evil. Possibly, he'll be naive or selfish.

It's only the rarest of instances where he can be played straight and done right. And under those circumstances he will be given his own name, and not called Prince Charming. "Prince Charming" is guaranteed to be a subversion.

When not referring to a royal prince, the concept refers to a young man with the charm of a rich boy. Contrast the bad boy charm of All Girls Want Bad Boys.

Related to The Wise Prince and Princess Classic. Compare Knight in Shining Armour. Subject to the Ermine Cape Effect.

In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The Evil Prince, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, The White Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next steps down are The Caligula, The Good Chancellor, Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. The next steps up are The Good King, God Save Us From the Queen, The High Queen, and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask.

Examples of Prince Charming include:


Anime and Manga

  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Is his zaku three times as fast as a normal zaku?
  • Fruits Basket, Yuki is called this by schoolmates who are ignorant of his traumatic past and problematic family relationships.
  • This is Tamaki's schtick in Ouran High School Host Club - a dashing, flirtatious half-French charmer who girls line up to swoon over.
  • Princess Tutu's overall aim in fixing Mytho's broken heart is to turn him back into this.
  • Endymion/Mamoru/Tuxedo Kamen of Sailor Moon; particularly in the manga but generally fits this role in any of the franchise's incarnations.
  • James of Pokémon's Team Rocket has shades of this, with a little Gentleman Thief for good measure. Given that he's from a rich, affluent family, it sort of fits.
  • Negima Neo has Fate, playing it straight just to make Negi jealous.

Comic Books

  • Bill Willingham's comic book Fables (about characters from fairy tales living in secret in New York) has Prince Charming, who was married three times, to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. He's a bit of a Magnificent Bastard and eventually becomes Mayor of Fabletown.
    • It's arguably both played straight and subverted - he is undeniably charming royalty and arguably a decent ruler, but, as it's specified at one point, He's Prince Charming - not "Prince Dependable" much less "Prince Faithful," which of course explains the multiple wives. He's both blessed and cursed to be Exactly What It Says On The Tin.
  • The Queen of Fables thinks that Superman is Prince Charming and wants to either kill him or marry him. Maybe both. Given his nature, it's understandable that the delusional Queen would make this mistake.

Film

  • Even though the Disney Animated Canon movies never used the name Prince Charming, the princes in Cinderella, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, and Sleeping Beauty are called that (even though the one in Sleeping Beauty actually has a name - Phillip).
    • It should be noted that in Snow White and Cinderella the prince does little more than show up and be royal, Phillip on the other hand, is the only one with an actual charming character.
    • Disney Word of God maintains that Cinderella's prince is officially Prince Charming and Snow White's man is simply The Prince. This even comes across in their autographs at the Disney Theme Parks. Though for some reason, fans seem to think The Prince's name is Ferdinand or something.
      • The prince is called Ferdinand in the official Disney store merchandise and on his figurines.
      • Also, according to rumors, Cinderella's prince was given the name "Henri" in the original script, but it was later dropped. Fans haven't latched onto this name as much as they did to "Ferdinand."
        • When Shirley Temple is presenting Walt Disney with his Oscar award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, she lists off the names of Snow White, the Dwarves, Mickey Mouse, and Ferdinand as his children. Hmmm, who could Ferdinand be? Seems that those weren't rumors, Snow White's Prince is named Ferdinand.
  • Inverted in the Shrek sequels, as Prince Charming is vain, selfish and in Shrek the Third, arguably evil.
  • Prince Edward from Enchanted is Prince Charming Played for Laughs. He's good-natured, handsome, and heroic, but he's kind of thick. And it turns out he's not the right man for Giselle--but when he realizes this, he gallantly steps aside for her true prince.
  • Ella Enchanted exaggerates this. The prince's name is Charmont, which is sorta like Charming. He prefers to be called Char, though.
    • It borders on charmant, which is French for "charming".
    • Actually, it's from the Fairy Tale 'The Blue Bird'- a French story by Madame d'Aulnoy, where the hero was called Le Roi Charmant, meaning 'the charming king.'
  • While Snow White and The Three Stooges almost squandered the leads, the prince had a greatly expanded role compared to the actual fairy tale.
  • Played straight in Prince Charming a 2001 made-for-television film starring Sean Maguire is the story of a prince who gets turned into a frog because he dashingly rescues a damsel in distress who starts trying to reward him.
  • Played straight in the movie The Prince And Me as Prince Edvard goes from having a girl on each arm to "Eddie" who quotes Shakespeare like some duke-lord guy.
  • Kate and Leopold has Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany who writes the best apology letter in the history of mankind.
  • In the Czech movie Byl jednou jeden král (Once upon a time there was a king, an adaptation of the fairy tale Salt over gold) there are three princes who came to the kingdom as suitors for the three princesses: Prince Charming [1], Prince Valiant, and Prince Cunning. They are all braggarts and cowards, and eventually they help themselves to the royal treasure - while the three princesses, as well as the king himself, get married to commoners in the end.

Literature

  • Given how soon it was written after the term originated, The Picture of Dorian Gray is likely one of the first subversions. Dorian is called this by extremely naive actress Sybil who he seduces and abandons, driving to suicide. Another lover also apparently called him this, and uses the nickname scornfully when he encounters her several years later as a prostitute.
  • John Moore's Slay and Rescue has a professional hero who really is a prince named Charming, sent by his father's chancellor to rescue fair maidens all over the place (the theory is that it keeps him too busy to try to take over the throne). He's Genre Savvy, deliberately pulls Big Damn Heroes arrivals, has Implausible Fencing Powers, and is very frustrated. Nonetheless, he's also basically decent.
    • Does he ride a white horse?
  • Deconstructed rather brutally by Prince Joffrey Baratheon, who is basically the hideous lovechild of Caligula and Azula, and Ser Jaime Lannister, who is, initially, ruthless, arrogant and amoral.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, Glenda objects to Trev as Juliet's love because Juliet is special and all she needed was a prince -- and she remembers her own fantasies. Juliet and Trev do end up together, and Glenda ends up with a king to be.
  • Justified in the contemporary book Dream Boy written by Ann Reit, which stars a charming, but immature teenager who learned it from his father.
  • Played straight with Prince Jonathan of the realm of Tortall who is a lover and a fighter. And oh boy is he a lover - right up until he meets Thayet, anyway, and she steals his heart and his ability to speak in all of ten seconds.
  • Played straight in The Royal Diaries.
    • Elisabeth: The Princess Bride where Emperor Franz Joseph I, was able to win over Elisabeth because she consired him to be playful, considerate and charming.
    • Also in Isabel: Jewel of Castilla where it takes less than two hours for Fernando, Prince of Aragon and King of Sicily, to steal the princess's heart with his humor, authority and imagination.

Live Action TV

  • Prince Charming is a character in Sesame Street, using the same puppet as Guy Smiley and Don Music, who can be relied upon to totally mess up any fairy-tale he's involved in (he's not a Prince Charmless, just incompetent and not very bright). He also works as a dance instructor, under the name Prince Cha-Cha-Charming.
  • Nate Archibald is all but explicitly based on this trope. He is described as charming with extreme regularity, and has the tendency to fall passionately in love (with various girls) and deliver romantic speeches (occasionally hilariously out of context) while rescuing them from some emotional or social dragon. He is in the books given the epithet "prince of the upper east side" and it is said that he can "snap his fingers and have any girl he wants." If you gave him fencing lessons, he would basically be the Prince Charming from Fables
  • In the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Once More With Feeling", Buffy rescues a handsome prince, in an inversion of the traditional rescue scenario. He sings "How can I repay--" but Buffy cuts him off with "Whatever" given that she's in her depressed period.
  • Justified for Logan from Gilmore Girls who is his father's heir, charismatic, and quite a ladies man.
  • Played straight in Veronica Mars "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough" where Logan meets Hannah who he says is "like the hot daughter of a king he marries off to get like Denmark or something."
  • Smallville's favorite millionaire playboy Lex Luthor.
  • Prince Arthur in Merlin (BBC) probably fits this.
  • Imitated/played for laughs so to speak on Bones "The Prince in the Plastic", which had a victim who created a doll called 'Prince Charmington' and a suspect who dressed as the doll for store openings and such.
  • The main Prince in Once Upon a Time, James, is sarcastically (at first) nicknamed Prince Charming by his future wife, Snow White, when he captures her in a net. She says that he's so charming if that's the only way he can get someone. Of course she did steal from him.

Theater

  • Into the Woods actually has two examples: there are two Prince Charmings, married to Cinderella and Rapunzel, respectively. In the second act, they abandon their wives for Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

 "I was raised to be charming, not sincere." - Cinderella's Prince

Video Games

  • Fable III The Male Hero looks like a classic example of this Trope
  • Psychonauts's official Psycho-Pedia has this to say about Lili's view of Raz:

 Clairvoyance reveals that Lili sees Raz as a Prince Charming-type, complete with cape, rose and slicked-back hair. But she doesn’t have a crush on him. Not at all. No way.

Webcomics

  • Gil from Girl Genius is a kind of reconstruction. The Prince Charming has often been deconstructed by making him (the heir of) a tyrant. But Gil is very good at arguing his father is the most enlightened despot in the continent, and he's probably right. Also, Gil is beautiful, the ultimate warrior, Always Save the Girl… He just fails for the romantic side.

Notes

  1. who claims to be THE Prince Charming who rescued the Sleeping Beauty and the Snow White (but, contrary to what the fairy tales say, he didn't marry them)
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