Frozen: Are Elsa and Rapunzel Cousins? Popular Fan Theory Explained

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While The Walt Disney Animation Studios don’t tend to build some sort of animated cinematic universe, and each of their movies is a separate, standalone flick, there are always some references and easter eggs which can cause theories among fans that Disney’s animated movies are all set in the same shared universe. One of those references was spotted in Frozen, which spawned a theory that Queen Elsa might be blood-related to Rapunzel, the main character from 2010’s Tangled. In this article, we’ll explain that theory and tell you how true it might actually be.

It was never confirmed whether Elsa and Rapunzel are related. What is known is that Rapunzel and her husband were seen arriving at Elsa’s Coronation in Arendelle, and while that confirms that Tangled and Frozen are set in the same universe, there’s no telling if Rapunzel’s family is related to Anna and Elsa’s in any way. At the coronations, the guests are usually high-class people, such as princes, princesses, and other noblemen. While history teaches us that royal families were often related to one another due to the marriages between them, it’s impossible to know for sure that Rapunzel is Elsa and Anna’s cousin or that they’re related in any way.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios has more than eight decades worth of history of making known and acclaimed animated classics. Since the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie was released in 1937, the studio has produced more than sixty movies. Still, the closest thing Walt Disney Animation Studios has come to a crossover movie is 2018’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, in which both Elsa and Rapunzel appeared, along with dozens of other Disney princesses we’ve met in the last 80+ years.

What made fans think that Rapunzel might be Elsa’s cousin?

In Frozen, during Anna’s “For the First Time in Forever” singing sequence, when the gates are open for the first time since Anna and Elsa were kids, the guests start arriving for Elsa’s coronation. When you take a closer look, you can see that one of the guests is Rapunzel and her husband, Eugene Fitzherbert, previously known as Flynn Rider. It can be seen that Rapunzel is wearing her recognizable pink dress, and her hair is short and brown, which indicates that the events of Frozen are set after the events of Tangled.

Of course, Rapunzel’s brief cameo in Frozen was probably added by the authors as a nice reference, and since it doesn’t have any impact on the movie’s story, we won’t probably ever know if Rapunzel is related to Anna and Elsa unless, for example, Rapunzel appears in Frozen 3 when she returns to Arendelle for a family visit. Now that we think of it, that would actually be pretty cool, but it’s very unlikely something like that will happen. This isn’t MCU or Star Wars, after all.

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Rapunzel’s appearance in Frozen is brief and subtle but easy to notice when you take a closer look.

Will Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa return in future Disney animated movies?

Disney’s Rapunzel debuted in 2010’s Tangled, which was the 50th movie made by the studio. The movie cost $260 million, making it the most expensive animated movie of all time. The movie received positive reviews and grossed $592.4 million, which might sound like a lot, but compared to the budget and how much other Disney animated movies earned, it seems understandable why the Tangled sequel was never even mentioned, let alone in the development.

But, the story of Rapunzel was given some conclusion with the 6-minute short movie Tangled Ever After, which was released in 2012 with the 3D version of 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. The Tangled franchise also spawned 2017’s TV movie Tangled: Before Ever After and the TV series Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, both set between the original movie’s events and Tangled Ever After.

Anna and Elsa debuted in Frozen, which was released three years after Tangled. We all know that Frozen eventually became a global phenomenon. The movie grossed $1.285 billion and received universal acclaim from critics and the audience. It won two Academy Awards (Tangled was only nominated for Best Original Song), including Best Animated Feature. Frozen spawned a whole franchise which today includes a sequel Frozen II, and several short movies; Frozen Fever (2015), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017), Once Upon a Snowman (2020), and Myth: A Frozen Tale (2021). Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, confirmed that Frozen 3 is currently in early development, so it’s safe to say we’ll eventually see Anna and Elsa again.

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Apart from their own movies, these three Disney princesses also appeared in 2018’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, although the way they appeared in the movie can’t really be deemed canonical. They appeared along with other Disney princesses when Vanellope von Schweetz befriended them after escaping from Stormtroopers. If there was an Academy Award for the biggest number of pop culture references, Ralphs Breaks the Internet would win it without hardly any competition.

Anna and Elsa will eventually return in Frozen 3, which is currently in early development. As for Rapunzel, we can’t be so sure, but you never know when Disney’s animators might put her in some other movie as a nice reference for the fans, who will always stand at the ready with more theories.

All of Frozen and Tangled content is streaming on Disney+.

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