Why Didn't Sofia Meet Pocahontas?

Sofia the First, everyone's favorite princess-in-training, has met every official Disney Princess that existed when her show began with the sole exception of Pocahontas. The power of her purple amulet granted her the ability to summon famous princesses whenever she was in trouble. Technically, she never met Anna either, but the episode "Olaf and the Tale of Miss Nettle" implied that she was supposed to meet her but got Olaf instead because her amulet was on the fritz. About a year ago, her amulet turned pink and granted her new powers. It now sends her to help princesses, meaning that the chances of her meeting Pocahontas at this point are virtually nonexistent. Why did they acknowledge every other princess movie except this one? Actually, they did acknowledge the 1995 animated classic in an episode of Sofia, but it was very subtle.


In the 2015 episode of Sofia the First, "The Secret Library," Sofia discovers a hidden passageway beneath her castle where a boat takes her through the settings of various Disney Princess movies in one of the most visually stunning sequences in the show. She passes the cottage of the seven dwarfs, Cinderella's castle with her glass slippers on display, the spindle that Aurora pricks her finger on, the boat and lagoon from "Kiss the Girl," and other iconic scenes. Among them is the iconic cliff that Pocahontas jumps from at the beginning of her movie along with the motif of swirling leaves representing the "Colors of the Wind." Every other icon in this scene represents a princess that she had met in the show except this one. Why did they still include it if she was never going to meet the character? Perhaps they were planning a Pocahontas episode, but for whatever reason, the episode got dropped in the early stages of production. There could be any number of reasons for this, so all I am able to do is speculate on why our favorite Native American princess got the shaft.

Sofia the First premiered with the Once Upon a Princess special in 2012. She receives her amulet and learns of its powers after a magical encounter with Cinderella. A lot has changed since then in both Enchancia and in our world. When Sofia started, it was before Disney altered their theme park costumes to be more politically correct and before the whole cultural appropriation Halloween costume controversy. The initial concept for the series revolved around the princesses giving Sofia advice to help her with a problem she would be having. They couldn't do this forever because they would have eventually run out of princesses, which is why the story changed along with her amulet's powers. Pocahontas would have been an excellent candidate at first. She could have offered advice on many different things, such as listening with your heart, protecting nature, or accepting those who are different. However, unlike the other princesses Sofia has met, Pocahontas was based on a real person with real historical significance. Including her in the series would mean turning one of the most controversial parts of America's history into a fantasy story. Having a talking tree did make the animated movie a little more magical, but at least there was no traveling between other realms in it.

However, that's not to say that Sofia has never met someone from our world. In the 2014 episode "Winter's Gift," Sofia had a run-in with Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. Tiana is from 1920s New Orleans, which is a real place, but she does not represent a real person, which gives Disney more liberty with the character. Just to make sure we don't forget that Enchancia is not part of our world, the writers made it so that Sofia does not recognize Tiana. Therefore, it would have to follow that Sofia wouldn't know who Pocahontas is either if she met her, and the show would turn into a real-life history lesson. There's also the matter of getting approval from Pocahontas's descendants and whatever other channels Disney may need to go through to make sure they aren't stepping on toes of anyone who shared her culture. I'm not sure how much of that they did with the sequel, though, considering its further historical inaccuracies in comparison to the original film.

The great thing about Sofia the First is that she's always growing and evolving. When the series began, she was getting advice from other princesses, and now she's the one giving the advice as well as the youngest protector of the fantastical Mystic Isles. It's a shame that she was never able to cross paths with Pocahontas, but due to the clash between fantasy and history as well as cultural sensitivity, it may have been for the best. Some people may also point out that she never got a chance to meet Moana, but that's because her movie came out shortly after Sofia stopped interacting with Disney princesses, so it's an unrelated issue. It was a nice touch to include Pocahontas's set in "The Secret Library." At least we know that she exists somewhere out there in Sofia's extended universe.

Comments

Anonymous said…
None of this seemed to be a problem for the people behind Ralph Breaks the Internet, who wasted no time in putting Pocahontas, Moana, and Anna and Elsa in their princess scenes. With Sofia ending, this is a wasted opportunity that they never used these princesses in the show. Just my two cents!
Anonymous said…
Also, Sofia did meet Mulan in the episode about the Jade Jaguar. Mulan IS a real person in history and really lead a Chinese army. Look it up! Although, much license was taken by Disney, of course, to make the story more magical and the way they wanted to tell it.
Lisa Dawn said…
That is a topic of much debate. Though it is known for a fact that Pocahontas was a real person, the Ballad of Hua Mulan is considered more legendary than historical. You can read a little more about that at https://allthatsinteresting.com/hua-mulan.
Anonymous said…
I don't see any logistical reason as to why production wouldn't put her. In fact, precisely because we have a nod to Pocahontas makes me think that she was intended to be in the series and this was a compromise. I just get the feeling the higher ups got cold feet about using her for wherever reason. We could say the same thing of Elsa as well I suppose but paranoid me thinks it might have to do brand value that frozen brings and with frozen 2 around the corner maybe they didn't want to portray Elsa anywhere else? It's a pity because this series is unique in the sense that the princesses are all depicted in their 2015 redesign which was never portrayed in film and if there ever was a princess that was heavily redesigned, it was Pocahontas.
Lisa Dawn said…
After I wrote this blog, Craig Gerber said in an interview that the writers pitched several different episodes for Pocahontas, but none of them went through to production. They did, however, include a node to Frozen in the episode "The Secret Library: The Tale of Miss Nettle."
Unknown said…
Ok i am a kid but that dosent mean i cant say a comment so this is mine about pocahonas i think disney didnt inclued her because she is{ native american} and i did a litle reseach and i found out that the pruduer is {white} and i was thinking maybe they did include her because she is a {native american}.

Lisa Dawn said…
Hi there. You are welcome to comment as much as you would like. :) THe creator of the show, Craig Gerber, created Elena of Avalor, which is about a Latina princess. He is very much in favor of diversity and a very nice person. After writing this post, I heard several interviews with him saying that he wrote multiple episode treatments with Pocahontas, but none of them made it to production, something that happens a lot with shows. Have a lovely day!
Anonymous said…
Hello, I came across this article today due to the fact that I also was very curious as to why Pocahontas was never present in Sofia the First, since she is one of my personal favorite Disney princesses. I totally understand the historical inaccuracies presented by Disney in their original classic film, but that's what it was, an ORIGINAL CLASSIC FILM. Sure there were a lot of things wrong with the original film, but never did Disney once say they were going to make their Pocahontas film 100% accurate to the original happenings... to me, with all due respect, Disney should have continued to push Pocahontas into the show, due to the amount of positive morals she could have taught Sofia, whether that'd be to follow your heart, the beauty of nature, or the lesson of loving someone different than you. That's why I loved the original film so much, it may have been historically inaccurate, but it taught me so many valuable lessons growing up, which most people look past, especially these days, like not to judge someone by their skin color or cultural background, whether white or not, but to judge them by the way they perceive themselves as a person, which we could all say both Pocahontas and John Smith learned in Disney's interpretation of the story. It's also worth noting that they were able to let Pocahontas be present in "Wreck-it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet", accompanied with all of the other Disney princesses and to me that movie made the princesses look like laughing stocks, compared to what their film counterparts were actually presented like.. putting myself in the animators shoes, I think they would have loved to add Pocahontas into the show and definitely made either prior story boards or templets for her appearance in the show, but most likely dropped her, to prevent a potential massive out cry from the public, towards a character with such an unnecessarily negative outlook.
Lisa Dawn said…
Thank you for sharing your insights with us. As I said in a previous comment, I learned from an interview with Craig Gerber after writing this article that there were plans to insert Pocahontas into a few episodes, but unfortunately, none of them panned out. Enchancia is a fantasy kingdom, so it might be a little jarring to see someone who lived in the real world appear there. However, if things had gone a little differently, there may have been an episode that featured her. Take care!

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