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There are many reasons for this trope. One is that Tomboys are depicted as "better". This might be because Most Writers Are Male, or because Girls Need Role Models, but either way it seems to be a way of saying "see, our Princess is a role model for modern girls". Expect there to be several girly traditional Princesses for contrast. Occasionally both the Tomboy and the Girly Princess might learn to appreciate each other in spite of their differences. In these types of uses the Tomboy Princess is used to tell An Aesop about gender roles. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn't overwhelm the character and story.
A more moderate approach is to use the "Tomboy Princess" as a way to combine the Tomboy and Girly Girl into one character. Who says tomboys can't be girly? Who says girly girls can't be tomboys? This has the advantage of appealing to a lot of girls who both want to play with the boys, but also like wearing tiaras and fancy dresses (also showing that She Cleans Up Nicely). These Tomboy Princesses are usually too busy being awesome to bother with trying to teach Aesops. Although occasionally they'll have a Very Special Episode to teach one. The most common pitfall for a writer with this type of Tomboy Princess is having her become too awesome.
Those are the most common forms of the Tomboy Princess, but there are other uses. For example, a Princess might be made a Tomboy so as to make her more down-to-earth than the rest of the nobles. In this case the focus is more on class roles rather than gender roles.
Contrast Princess Classic.
Anime and Manga
- Pictured above: Princess Knight has Princess Sapphire.
- Yuri Zahard of Tower of God. She her first contact with Baam is a rough jump onto his face.
- Code Geass Cornelia, Lady of War and older sister of Rebellious Princess Euphie.
- The Gundam series. It's been a while, so over that time Gundam has come a cross a few.
- Gundam Seed The princess of Orb, Cagalli is both tomboyish and rebellious.
- G Gundam Maria Louise is a rather interesting case. She looks the part of a girly princess, but it take about one episode to figure out that that mask hides a very determined Tomboy, willing to risk her life to help her friends and Knight in Shining Armor if needed.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Audrey Burne is very much the Tomboy, so the problems around her really start when people around her notice that she used to be a princess and not the Girl Next Door she now appears to be. And not just any princess, but Minerva, the last of the Zabis.
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Nausicaa. Kushana takes it straight into Badass Princess territory.
- The Slayers: Amelia, fighter for JUSTICE!
- Sailor Moon: Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter and Haruka Tenoh/Sailor Uranus were princesses in the Silver Millennium, just like the rest of the Sailor Team.
- Princess Mononoke definitely counts. Even if she does wear a skirt. Also counts as Badass Princess.
- Surprisingly, the Snow White from Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics is rewritten as such. She is extremely girly-looking and learns to handle herself competently with housework when she lives with the Dwarves, but she likes climbing up trees to get her beloved apples and explicitly says she'd rather do these things all day long than sew and knit.
- The Courageous Princess Mabelrose.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe The X Wing Series has Plourr Illo. She's an extraordinarily Boisterous Bruiser.
"Plourr, try to remember that we're supposed to keep a low profile."
"I'm not exactly little miss wallflower, Wes, but I'll make you a deal. I won't beat on any of the resident scum unless they hit me first—or they pick on my friends—or I feel like it!"
Film -- Animated
- Disney movies, especially during or around the 90s, tended to noticeably have these.
- The Black Cauldron: Princess Eilowny. Not as much as in the original book series (see below), but she still has her moments.
- The Lion King: Nala is probably one of the clearest Disney-related examples, as is easily apparent when she play-wrestles with Simba on her way to an elephant graveyard with him. That far into the movie, they're just friends (and they don't take seriously the idea that they'd grow up to be more than friends) and you could almost forget they're opposite genders if not for the voices. The Lion King has its protagonist and princess more similar to each other than arguably most Disney movies do. Well, early on in the movie anyway. Obviously things change after the stampede scene, but more so for Simba than for Nala. After Simba returns, Nala says to Simba some of the exact same things Simba said earlier on.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Princess Kida, which seems to be part and parcel of her being The Chief's Daughter, right up to the point where they actually show her climbing up a large rock structure while wearing a long, flowing dress at the end of the film!
- Ariel, and her daughter Melody in the sequel even moreso.
- Princess Mérida from Brave. Oh, so very much.
Film -- Live-Action
- The Hidden Fortress Princess Yuki, who tries to talk like Toshiro Mifune and enjoys riding and hitting people with a stick.
- The Lord of the Rings Eowyn, in both the books and movies.
- The Star Wars series. Princess Leia Organa, of course, volunteers for commando missions. This is a trait she shares with her biological mother, Queen Padme Amidala.
- Princess Fantaghiro.
- The Chronicles of Narnia The Horse and His Boy has Aravis Tharkeena, who upgrades from a Tomboy Noblewoman to a Tomboy Princess when she marries Shasta aka Crown Prince Cor.
- Lucy The Valiant is a Tomboy Queen who is good with archery and acts like a Cool Big Sis to Aravis when they meet. The girliness and reluctance to openly fight unless it's truly needed is for her older and more quiet sister, Queen Susan the Gentle.
- The Lord of the Rings: Eowyn (as in the film version). Justified in that most women of Rohan learn swordfighting for self-defense. Eowyn takes it further by disguising herself as a man and riding with the men to fight in Gondor.
- The Ordinary Princess by MM Kaye. Princess Amy is plain and tomboyish after she was cursed at birth to be "ordinary".
- Prydain Chronicles Again, Princess Eilowny.
- The Westmark Trilogy, also by Lloyd Alexander, Mickle/Augusta. Granted, she wasn't a princess for a very long time and just didn't want to get used to the idea...
- And in The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio except she's an innkeeper's daughter not a princess.
- Lloyd Alexander is obviously into this trope.
- A Song of Ice and Fire Arya Stark is a tomboy from the start, and a princess after her brother Robb is acclaimed king.
- Cimorene from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, who tries to learn such unfeminine and un-princesslike things as magic and fencing. When her parents still try to force her into a proper marriage, she runs away to go live with a dragon.
- The Royal Diaries has a couple. Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess would rather climb trees than dance while in Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles Archduchess Antonia's favorite activity is horse riding astride through the mud.
- Bridge to Terabithia a has Leslie who's the only girl wearing cut-offs and a t-shirt, wants to run with the boys and finds a space outside that can be the land of Terabithia. She will be it's queen and her friend will be it's king. She's an imaganary tomboy queen but still.
- Princess Elena in Merlin.
- And to a point, Morgana, who's a technical princess if not an official one due to her illegimate birth.
- Dungeons and Dragons. Princess Alusair Nacacia Obarskyr (daughter of King Azoun in the Forgotten Realms setting) who became a fighter and an adventurer. She was also a Rebellious Princess because she took off without her father's permission.
- Dragon Quest IV Tsarevna Alena of Zamoksva. She is also a Rebellious Princess.
- Final Fantasy V Faris. This is because she spent the latter part of her childhood among pirates.
- Fire Emblem Elibe Lyn is this and The Chief's Daughter, since her mom was a Lycian princess and her dad was the chieftain of the Lorca tribe. Farina, a mercenary from Illia, can become one by marriage if she weds Hector.
- Same goes to Sue, a Horse Archer and the princess of the Kutolah tribe in Fire Emblem 6 (who may be Lyn's daughter, if the player paired her up with Sue's dad Rath). Double if she falls for Roy and marries him, since their common ending mentions how the Lycian nobles look at Sue kinda weirdly for being a tomboyish and free-spirited Duchess of Pherae.
- Shanna does NOT start as a Princess, in fact she's an Illian mercenary like Farina, but can be upgraded to one if she marries Roy.
- Averted by Eirika from The Sacred Stones, who is quite proactive but still a Lady of War. Her best friend Tana plays it a little straighter.
- Princesses Ayra of Isaac, Lachesis of Nodion and Tailtiu of Freege from Seisen no Keifu play this straight as well. Also Bridget of Jungby, but that's because she also spent her childhood as a Pirate Girl.
- Ayra's daughter Larcei and Altena from Thracia are this too.
- Princess Lissa of Ylisse from Fire Emblem Awakening. Kjelle and Cynthia count, but only if they're fathered by Chrom.
- Princess Hinoka of Hoshido, from Fire Emblem Fates. Also Soleil, Sophie, Nina, Selkie and arguably Velouria, if they're mothered by princesses.
- Princesses Sharena and Fjorm from Fire Emblem: Heroes. Some of the princesses mentioned above can be summoned, so they count here too.
- Princess Edelgard from Fire Emblem: Three Houses gives these vibes. Until the Time Skip, since she grows into a Lady of War.
- Monica Raybrandt from Dark Cloud 2.
- Ashelin from Jak 2 is an extreme example.
- Zelda series. The titular Princess Zedla in some incarnations:
- The Mega Man Battle Network series has Pride, the operator of Knightman, princess of Creamland.
- Mother 3 Kumatora is one, although she isn't really a princess; that's just a title.
- Recettear It's implied that Charme the Thief of all people is the heir to the throne of a fallen kingdom known for its booze.
- The Super Mario Bros. series. Daisy, pictured at the top of the page, is described as a tomboy within the series.
- Depending on how one raises a daughter in the Princess Maker games, she may grow up to be any kind of tomboyish swordswoman or sorceress who works part-time lumberjacking or keeping the dead down in the local graveyard. Whether she actually becomes a princess is a different issue.
- Criosa in the Neverwinter Nights mod series The Aielund Saga is a princess and the heir to the throne of Aielund, and is also a wizard/rogue of a level on par with your character and runs around in pants with a sword more often than not.
- Drowtales. Justified in that drow society reverses many traditional gender roles, is made up of clans that act as mini-kingdoms within Chel, and practices Blue and Orange Morality.
- Samurai Princess's star and name sake is one of these.
- Oglaf This strip takes the Rebellious Princess trope and melds it with Tomboy Princess in an amusingly NSFW way.
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears has Princess Calla.
- The Legend of Zelda animated series. Princess Zelda, much more so than her video game counterpart, which generally causes Well, Excuse Me, Princess! situations.
- The Smurfs Princess Savina.
- Disenchanted’s heroine Bean is a princess...but she certainly doesn’t act like one. For one thing, she happens to have a love for alcoholic beverages. She also doesn’t typically do what her father tells her to do (who admittedly is rather controlling). Did we mention she’s friends with a demon?
- Sonic the Hedgehog has Princess Sally, who despite her title actually has several roles, many of which are stereotypically associated with males, such as that of battle strategist, engineering technician, and of course, as a fighter. No major female character in the show conforms entirely to female stereotypes, but Sally is especially divergent from them. Some have argued that she's really more of a queen than a princess.
- Downplayed with Princess Allura from Voltron: Legendary Defender, who's more of a Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak
- Elizabeth II seems to have had elements of this when she insisted on joining the Army during World War II and became a mechanic and truck driver. As it is, she is the only remaining head of state who is a vet of that war.
- Her daughter Princess Anne was an olympic-level equestrian in her youth. In eventing, no less, the sport that took out Superman.
- Several Medieval European Noblewomen had this characteristic to some degree. Someone had to take care of the castle while all the knights were busy killing each other, including its armed defense when necessary. At least one Arab visitor commented on how forward Western women were.
- Christina, Queen of Sweden, who took up traditionally-masculine hobbies and interests (like fencing, shooting and alchemy), dressed and behaved like one of the guys - and associated with them in a manner considered inappropriate for her time, and, of course, was suspected to have both male and female love interests, but never married. Invoked by her father, Gustavus Adolphus, who ordered that his sole heir be raised as a prince, and possibly complicated by the allegations of Ambiguous Gender raised at her birth.