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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.
If you believe in yourself, you know what you can do, just stand tall, and you aim will always be true.
~ Merida to Sofia
Ack! Lang may yer lum reek, and may a moose ne'er leave your girnel with a tear drop in his eye! Haste Ye Back, Me Lassie!
~ Merida to Vanellope in Ralph Breaks the Internet

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 in movies, and Ruth Connell in video games and Sofia the First.

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.

Sofia the First

Merida made a guest appearance on Sofia the First in the first installment of the four-part episode "The Secret Library", which was aired on October 12, 2015. She became the first and only Pixar character to appear in the series. Merida shoots an arrow in front of Sofia to get her attention as she appears from nowhere. Sofia hoped that Merida can help her find her aunt's bag, but Merida tells her she does not need it, all she needs is to believe that she can save them herself. At first, Sofia still feels doubtful that she cannot do it but with a little more encouragement from Merida with Sofia shooting an arrow from her bow, she finally gains confidence that she can save Minimus and Mazzimo and fulfill her task as the storykeeper. Merida and Aunt Tilly watch Sofia take off with Tilly's winged horse Athena and flies off to the rescue.

In "Forever Royal" when Sofia is battling Vor inside her amulet, Merida appears to Sofia in spirit form along with all the other princesses who have been summoned to help Sofia in her times of need and they encourage her to be brave and strong for they all believe in her.

Ralph breaks the Internet

In Ralph Breaks the Internet, Merida is a netizen who lives and works at Oh My Disney where she and the other Disney princesses meet their fans. When Vanellope glitches into the princesses' dressing room, Merida is seen talking with Mulan. Mistaking Vanellope for a threat, Merida arms herself with an arrow at Vanellope. Vanellope explains that she is also a princess. Merida, Mulan, Anna and Moana are the only ones who do not ask Vanellope a question to prove what kind of princess she is. After declaring Vanellope an official princess, they admire Vanellope's casual modern outfit and change into more comfortable modern clothes to match. Merida wears a dark plaid jacket with a dark top with a graphic of her mother in her bear form with the word "MUM" underneath, tan shorts and brown boots, and is seen lounging in a directors chair between Belle and Aurora.

After Vanellope sings about how she wants a steering wheel for her video game Sugar Rush, Merida gives her a disgusted look. Before Vanellope leaves, Merida tries to give her advice in Scots, but neither Vanellope nor the other princesses understand her, with Anna explaining that she is from "the other studio".

In the climax of the film, Merida and the princesses witness Ralph about to fall to his death and work together to save him with their abilities. Merida fires two arrows tied to strands of Rapunzel's magic hair tied to Snow White's dress with Jaq and Gus riding on them to Cinderella and Anna. After Ralph is saved the princesses introduce themselves as friends of Vanellope and befriend Ralph as well.

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 Forst (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
Haven't I gotten your attention?! (Sofia: MERIDA!) How can I help you, Sofia?
~ Merida meeting Sofia

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.
  • 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 Moana.

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