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Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the female equivalent of a Prince Charming

Updated: May 31

I said what I said.

I’m aware it’s a strong opinion, so I invite you to read the whole post, and then, if you disagree, try to change my mind in the comments.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) is a female character introduced in the story as a plot device solely to change the (male) protagonist’s attitude. According to film critic Nathan Rabin (who coined the term and then regretted it), she “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

She is a ray of sunshine with no flaws, only quirkiness. She is someone who can change the worldview of a beloved man and make him see the beauty of life. Blegh.

Lady on a dark nigh.

MPDGs are flat characters with no aspirations, ambitions, or concern for their happiness and little to no character development. Naturally, people grew tired of them, and you can find plenty of essays online discussing the problem with this archetype.

That’s not what I’ll do today. I’m not here to tell you to love or hate the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I’m here to convince you they are the female version of Prince Charming.

A static character whose sole purpose is to be the romantic interest of the lead and save them. Am I describing the MPDG or a prince in knight armor on a white horse?

Surely, the MPDGs are more eccentric than shining-armor princes, but maybe because we’re so used to fairy tales, we do not see how over-the-top the princes are. For the male counterpart, the rescue is often quite literal (the damsel-in-distress trope is losing popularity but still around). Meanwhile, the dream girls “rescue” their partner from themselves.

Prince Charming saving the Princess

Let’s analyze the differences between this character’s male and female versions.

Why do they exist?


As mentioned, Prince-Charming types are the romantic ideal of damsels in distress. They are heroes who are there to save them from an external menace, such as dragons or witches. A modern interpretation of Prince Charming usually rescues the princess from bullying or abusive people.

In contrast, MPDGs are the romantic interest of lonely men running on autopilot with dubious priorities. The quirky, young pixie girl helps him to see the little pleasures and gives him a new meaning in life.


Isn’t it funny how women must be rescued from a hostile environment while men must be rescued from themselves?


What is the general perception of them?


Prince Charming is...well, charming. And MPDG is manic. Need I say more?


I will, though. The romantic ideal of a straight lady in these stories is older, reliable, and caring. Someone to love her unconditionally, and they live happily ever after. This is labeled as ‘charming.’

A straight man’s ideal in these stories is someone young and peculiar. Someone who changes his indifference into awareness and gives him happiness. It’s not uncommon for her to die in the end. Still, she is labeled as ‘manic.’


It says a lot, doesn’t it?


Needless to say, I like neither of those characters. But, if I had to choose one, I’d say I like the MPDG better. Maybe it’s because of the rebel aspect of being a ‘Princess Charming’ but nutty.


What about you? Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.


See you next post,



Carla Ra is a scientist by day, sci-fi writer by night.

You can check out her anthology ARTIFICIAL REBELLION here.

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