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I don't want my life to be over. I want my freedom!
~ Merida practicing what to say to her mother.

Princess Merida is the protagonist of Brave. She is the first female protagonist of a Disney/Pixar film, as all other Pixar leading ladies are less important than the leading males. She is also the 11th Disney Princess in the official lineup and the first official Disney Princess that is from a Pixar film.

She is voiced by Kelly Macdonald.

Role in Brave

Merida lives in the mystical Scottish kingdom of DunBroch with her mother, Queen Elinor, her father, King Fergus, and her mischievous triplet brothers, Hamish, Hubert, and Harris. Elinor spends the beginning trying to convince Merida to be a perfect princess, but they are unfair to Merida, who enjoys riding through the Highlands on her horse, Angus, and practicing archery and fencing; she inherited those skills from her father.

At dinner one night, Merida receives news from Elinor that the king's allied clan lords are presenting their sons as suitors for their hand in marriage. Merida doesn't want to lose her freedom, so she refuses, even when Elinor tells her a story about a selfish prince who ruined his kingdom. All Merida wants is to convince her mother that she wants to be free to make her own decisions and follow her heart.

The lords arrive with their sons, who are not her type, especially the arrogant young Macintosh. Merida chooses archery so she can win her freedom and wins the competition herself, which results in her and Elinor getting into a fight. Elinor warns Merida that feuding among the clans would occur and the kingdom would be torn apart if it isn't set right. Merida, mad about having to do always do as she is told, loses her temper and reacts by ripping a long gash in the family tapestry between the images of herself and her mother in a fit of anger. Elinor, furious with Merida's behavior and actions, grabs her bow - the one Fergus gave to her when she was a child - and throws it in the fireplace. Merida runs out of the castle on Angus, oblivious that her mother is ashamed that she had ruined her daughter's bow; Elinor fishes the bow out of the fire, realizing that what she had done hurt Merida's feelings.

Will-o-the-wisps lead Merida and Angus into a dark forest where they come across a witch. When she gets there, Merida asks the witch for a spell to change her mother and her fate. The witch reluctantly cooks up a spell and gives her a spell cake.

Merida returns to the castle and gives the cake to Elinor, but instead of changing her mind about the betrothal, it turns the queen into a giant bear. Merida realizes that she has made things worse. Ever since the menacing demon bear Mor'du devoured one of the king's legs in a fight when Merida was a child, Fergus had been hunting bears. Merida knows she must get Elinor out of the castle or Fergus would kill her, and with the aid of her brothers, she does so.

Mother and daughter arrive at the witch's cottage, where the witch leaves a message in her cauldron, saying that the spell will be permanent by the second sunrise unless she "mends the bond torn by pride."

The next day, Merida and her mother bond together as they help each other look for food. The wisps lead them to the ruins of an ancient castle, where Merida discovers that the prince in her mother's story was the same one who received a similar spell from the witch, demanding she give him the strength of ten men. The wicked prince had split himself from his brothers, ruined his kingdom, and became the dreaded demon bear Mor'du. As Mor'du attacks, Merida and Elinor escape, and Merida convinces her mother that if they don't break the spell, she'll become a wild bear forever like Mor'du. Merida realizes that "mend the bond torn by pride" would mean fixing the tapestry and the family bonds.

The two of them rush back to the castle, where they discover Fergus and the lords brawling over Merida, who steps into the great hall and stops the fighting. Guided by her mother, Merida makes a moving speech, convincing the clans that she must restore their bond and that the lords' sons should marry whomever they choose, bringing peace to the kingdom. The lords reluctantly agree and as they celebrate, Merida and Elinor climb up into the tapestry room to fix the torn tapestry. Fergus attacks Elinor, thinking she is a wild bear, but Merida blocks his path and Elinor escapes. In a desperate attempt to protect his daughter, Fergus locks her in the tapestry room. The triplets, who have turned into bear cubs after eating the enchanted cake, arrive and set Merida free. They rush after Fergus and the lords who have captured Elinor and tied her down. Merida intervenes and saves her mother just before Mor'du appears and overpowers the clans. Just as the evil bear is about to swallow Merida whole, Elinor breaks free, rescues her, and takes down Mor'du by smashing him against a menhir, which topples over and crushes him to death, releasing the prince's spirit.

Realizing what the witch's riddle meant, Merida places the fixed tapestry over Elinor and sincerely reconciles with her mother, admitting it is her fault and she wants her back and telling her she loves her. The queen is transformed back into a human, along with the triplets, and the family is reunited. Merida and Elinor make a new tapestry of the two of them together and say goodbye to the lords. The two of them ride on horses together, making their bond stronger than before.

Other appearances

Merida has also appeared in the fandom Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons, or the Big Four. She is often shipped with Hiccup (How To Train Your Dragon) as Mericcup or [[Jack Frost (Rise of the Guardians)|Jack (Rise of the Guardians) as Jarida.

Merida appears as a playable character in the "Disney Infinity" series, starting with "Disney Infinity 2.0"; she and Stitch are both bundled in the "Toy Box Starter" set. Merida makes an appearance in the game's opening, where she is riding Angus through the wilderness, chasing after a "shooting star" that's said to lead to a great treasure. The star is temporarily captured by living bear carvings, which are easily dispatched by Merida's bow. The star flies free, allowing Merida and Angus to chase it into some ruins (which carry the tapestry of Merida and her mother as a bear from the end of the movie); after leaping out a window of the ruins and straight into a modern city, Merida and Angus vanish, replaced by Stitch.

Quotes

I am Merida, firstborn descendant of Clan DunBroch! And I'll be shooting for my own hand!
~ Merida stepping up to the plate in the archery contest.
You've always been there for me. You've never given up on me. I just want you back. I want you back, Mummy.
~ Merida reconciling with her mother
SHUT IT!!!!!!!!!!

Gallery

Trivia

  • Princess Merida has joined the Disney Princess franchise. She's the first from a Pixar film.
  • Merida has inherited her father's strength, her mother's spirit, and her brothers' taste for mischief.
  • Kelly Macdonald wasn't the first choice of voice actress to voice Merida. She was going to be voiced by Reese Witherspoon, but because of scheduling conflicts, it didn't happen, so Macdonald did the voice instead.
  • Merida is the first Disney heroine with autistic traits.
  • She is inspired by the director Brenda Chapman's daughter and has similarities to Ariel, Rapunzel, Jane Darling, Violet Parr, Sarah Williams, and Sadie Kane.
  • Chapman created this character to break the gender barriers.
  • Merida's name comes from the Gaelic word for "honorable."
  • Merida is the first Disney Princess who does not have a love-interest, the second being Queen Elsa.
  • Merida's similar to Lenny from Shark Tale.
    • Both them are forced by their parents to act like what is their obligation, regardless of whether they want it or not (Queen Elinor forced Merida to act like a princess, Don Lino forced Lenny to act like a predator).
  • Merida's similar to Barbara Gordon from The Lego Batman Movie.
    • Both are red haired heroines who are brave and Pure Good heroines.
    • Both are almost killed by giant beasts (Mor'du and King Kong).
    • Both cried near the end of their movies when they thought they had seen their good friend/family member for the last time (Merida cried when she thought her mother would remain a bear forever, while Barbara cried when she thought Batman had been exiled to The Phantom Zone forever).
  • She is the first female main protagonist of a Disney/Pixar film, followed by Elastigirl in The Incredibles 2.
  • Merida's similar to Owen Grady from Jurassic World.
    • Both were chased by giant beasts (Merida was chased by Mor'du, Owen was chased by the Indominus Rex).
    • Both took their anger out on objects when another hero made them angry (Merida slashed the family tapestry when her mother made her angry, and Owen knocked some dinosaur models off the table when Claire Dearing made him angry).

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