At a young age, Elsa realized that she held an ancient ability over ice and snow, and often used her amazing abilities to play with her younger sister Anna. Elsa shared a close bond with her free-spirited younger sibling, and the two were the best of friends. They often at night would make it snow in the royal ballroom. However, one night while the two were playing in the ballroom, Anna jumps down from the high snow slopes Elsa had created. Elsa tries to save her by using her magic, but accidentally strikes her sister in the head instead giving her a platinum blonde streak of hair. Their parents, the King and Queen, immediately seek aid for Anna by visiting the legendary trolls, whose leader, a shaman namedPabbie, is able to stabilize Anna's condition since it had only affected the head, not the heart, which would have been fatal. To be safe, Pabbie then removes Anna's knowledge and memories of magic, much to Elsa's despair. Pabbie takes the time to explain the true strength of Elsa's abilities, telling her that her power will only grow and there's not only beauty in it, but danger, and that she must learn to control them at all cost, or fear will be her enemy. While the King promises to help Elsa control her powers, the incident leaves Elsa traumatized by them. As a result, the King and Queen order the gates to be locked for Elsa and Anna's safety.
From then on, Elsa forcibly and willingly spends the rest of her life distanced from other people, including Anna, trying to keep her powers from growing out of control and harming those she cares about. Even so, the persistent Anna tries time and time again to spend some quality time with her sister, but fails at every turn, leading her to eventually believe Elsa despises her and doesn't want her around.
Throughout the years, Elsa's only true human contact is with her parents, who calmly try to help their daughter control her abilities, teaching her to remain calm for fear and stress would only cause chaos. To help further, the king bestows upon Elsa a pair of gloves, which are temporarily able to suppress her powers (teaching her to "conceal it, don't feel it, don't let it show"), making life much easier, though still heavily fearful. And despite better control, Elsa still refuses to contact Anna, truly terrified of harming her yet again. One day, during Anna and Elsa's teenage years, their parents depart on a two week trip (to an unknown location), and though Elsa is torn about their parting, she bids them farewell as they were off. However, this is her last encounter with them, as the parents die when a massive wave capsizes their ship, causing them to drown. A funeral is held, though Anna is the only one of the sisters to attend. Elsa, instead, stays within her bedroom, where her powers have lost control, freezing everything inside and reflecting the sorrow of the event. With the passing of her beloved parents and contact with Anna, her only family left, still deemed too dangerous, Elsa is now truly alone, bitter and miserable.
Three years later, Elsa is chosen to be crowned the new queen regnant. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Arendelle invites royalty from far and wide to join in the festivities, such as the dashing Prince Hans and the pompous Duke of Weselton among others. Whilst Anna, the citizens of Arendelle, and the visiting royals couldn't be more excited, Elsa is beyond reluctant, fearful the major contact with the world will lead to the discovery of her powers. Even so, she accepts that it's all merely for a day, and tries her best to conceal her emotions, though the task proves to be difficult. At the cathedral, Elsa's crowning takes place, but because she must wield the traditional scepter and globus cruciger without her gloves, her abilities are nearly revealed. Fortunately, she's able to withstand the near exposure, and the festivities commence with a nightly ball. There, Elsa and Anna are reunited for the first time in years, and they share their very first conversation for quite some time, with Elsa leading the way, although the conversation seems somewhat stilted. Both sisters appear to be very joyous to finally share some time together, and although Elsa's enjoying herself and quality time with Anna, the latter's open desire to have moments like the occasion at hand frequently causes Elsa to become reserved once again, reluctantly telling Anna her wish simply cannot be, and without any further explanations as to why, breaking the younger princess' heart and prompting her to leave.
Meanwhile, Elsa continues on with the party, meeting the visitingdignitaries and talking with them for a while before Anna returns, but with Prince Hans by her side. After a small introduction, the two announce their newfound engagement, and ask for Elsa's blessing upon the marriage. Elsa is baffled by the shocking news, but Anna and Hans couldn't appear more excited, going on to ramble about the wedding arrangements. Elsa ceases the sudden rambling by denying such marriage, much to Anna's disappointment. The queen asks to speak with Anna alone and in private, but the younger princess refuses any private conversation, stating whatever Elsa has to say, can be said to both her and Hans. Becoming frustrated, Elsa outright forbids Anna of marrying someone she just met, indirectly telling the princess she knows nothing about true love, causing Anna to hiss back, telling Elsa all she knows is how to shut people out. Although Elsa is visibly hurt and saddened by this, Elsa continues to deny her blessing for the marriage, and the argument only worsens when Elsa orders the guards to end the party and close the gates. The heartbroken Anna confronts her sister, completely terrified of living life imprisoned within the castle again. With that, Elsa suggests that she leaves the castle so she can be happy, though it comes off with unintentional coldness.
Things take an ultimate turn for the worst when, out of blind fury from Anna's constant questioning, Elsa's powers are finally revealed, causing ice shards to rise from the ground, nearly striking Anna and the other guests. Terrified by what she's done and the reactions it receives, Elsa flees, though Anna, Hans and the Duke of Weselton chase after her. Elsa retreats into the fjord, successfully escaping her pursuers, and as she does, everything in the land begins to freeze, beginning with the entire body of water in the fjord, trapping all the ships before spreading throughout the rest of the kingdom. Having failed to retrieve her, Anna and Hans return to the castle courtyard, where the guests have gathered. The Duke of Weselton begins to panic as it eerily begins snowing, declaring they must take action and put an end to Elsa's curse, but Anna refuses and volunteers to seek out Elsa herself and make things right, feeling it's her fault for pushing her. With Hans being left in charge of the kingdom, Anna heads off on her horse to begin her search for her sister.
Meanwhile, that same night, Elsa has since arrived at the North Mountain, miles upon miles away from Arendelle. At first, she's still dreadfully downhearted by all that's just happened. The loss of her sister, the abandoning of her kingdom and subjects, everyone fearing her, and the pain of her past consuming her now that the public saw her as a monster. Oblivious to the storm she has caused, Elsa soon realizes that being alone banishes the possibility of harming her family and subjects, allowing her to abandon her restrictions, both physically and emotionally, and finally embrace her abilities. With this, the young queen begins experimenting with her powers, her confidence and excitement building each moment, until she reaches higher up the mountain, claiming it as her own with the creation of a massive palace made of ice gleaming in the night and her signature gown. Declaring she'll never return to Arendelle, Elsa discards her crown and establishes herself as the Snow Queen, marking the start of her life of freedom.
During her spectacle, Elsa also recreated Olaf, the snowman she built with Anna as a child. However, she unknowingly imbues him with life. With his new enchantment, Olaf heads down the mountain, and into the world, eventually stumbling upon Anna, and leading her to her elder sister's palace sometime afterwards.
A few days later, Elsa continues to live peacefully in solitude, until Anna arrives at her doorstep. Though initially touched to see Anna had visited her, Elsa refuses to make close contact, as well as return to Arendelle, believing a life of isolation is the best thing for her kingdom, Anna, and herself. Anna continues to speak against this, just as Olaf rushes in. Amazed by the enchanted snowman, Olaf's presence proves to Elsa that there is love and beauty in her powers, and reminds her of the joyful moments she spent with Anna during childhood. It was enough to bring a smile to the queen's face until the memory of nearly killing Anna haunts her again, prompting Elsa to turn away, bidding farewell to her sister. Anna accidentally increases the discomfort and stress upon mentioning the kingdom's in danger, Elsa being horrified to learn that she had placed a curse upon it. Overcome by fear and guilt, Elsa unleashes her powers by accident once again, but this time, she inadvertently strikes Anna in her heart. As Olaf and Kristoff (Anna's companion, who offered to help guide her through the mountains to find Elsa) run to try and aid Anna, Elsa demands for them to leave for their safety. While Anna still insists Elsa returns with them, Elsa is forced to create a gruesome snow beast known as Marshmallow, who throws the trio out of the palace.
Later that night, within the walls of the once beautiful ice palace, Elsa's mind scatters in thought as she desperately makes attempts to seize control over her powers and the curse that has been unleashed. Unfortunately, she has shown to have, despite desperately trying to conceal her emotions, lost control over her powers once again, as the guilt of endangering Arendelle has completely overcome her, causing ice shards to fill her palace, giving it a darker and fearful design, matching the monster Elsa fears she has become. Meanwhile, Anna becomes weak, with Kristoff correctly assuming it's due to Elsa striking her. To find a cure, Kristoff leads Anna and their companions to the Valley of the Living Rock. Pabbie comes forward and informs them that Anna will freeze to solid ice, unless she is able to perform an act of true love. To save herself, Anna and the others rush back to Arendelle to find and receive a kiss from Hans before it's too late, believing true love's kiss is the act that would break the spell.
Meanwhile, back in the mountains, Hans and a group of soldiersarrive to find Anna and apprehend Elsa, whom they presume is holding the princess captive. Though Hans distinctly commands his soldiers to refrain from harming the queen, the Duke of Weselton's bodyguards were given the confidential assignment to assassinate the queen in hopes that her death would end the eternal winter. As they approach the palace entry staircase, Marshmallow leaps into action, immediately sparking a fierce battle. Elsa, upon hearing the commotion, flees inside; not only for her own safety, but to also keep from using her powers for potentially fatal combat. However, the Duke's goons are able to bypass Marshmallow, and immediately assault the Snow Queen. Though reluctant at first, Elsa is quickly forced to use her powers to defend herself, eventually engaging in a fight against the two. Outside, Marshmallow continues to battle, but Hans brutally injures the snow beast and causes him to go plummeting into a chasm to his apparent death, leaving Elsa devoid of protection and allowing Hans and his henchmen access into the palace, where Elsa has gained the upper hand against the Duke's goons.
Just as Elsa was about to murder the two via a barrage of sharp ice spikes, Hans appears and stops her, telling her not to prove that she is the monster they believe she is. Hans' words are able to reach Elsa, who halts her magic upon realizing the demon she was gradually becoming. However, one of the goons manage to aim his crossbow at Elsa, and just as he is about to shoot her, Hans intervenes and alters the arrow's path, causing it to cut through Elsa's chandelier, which then plummets towards the ground. Elsa tries to escape the collision, but is knocked unconscious in the process. Hans and the soldiers then capture her and head back to Arendelle.
Some time later, Elsa awakens within the castle dungeon, where she finds herself shackled, with a limited ability to move. Using this limited ability, Elsa is able to witness the disaster she's brought upon her former kingdom; looking through the dungeon's only window. As she takes in the sight, Hans arrives, claiming he brought the Snow Queen to Arendelle in hopes of preventing the Duke's men from killing her. Nevertheless, Elsa declares she must be released, to prevent further destruction upon Arendelle, and subsequently asks for Anna's whereabouts. Hans explains she hasn't returned, much to Elsa's concern. The prince then pleads for the queen to end the curse, but she denies with deep remorse, telling Hans that she's unable to, and the only apparent solution is for her to leave the kingdom and never return. In regards to her freedom, Hans merely claims he'll "do what he can", before leaving the cell.
After his departure, Elsa's abilities begin to override the strength of her chains, as well as the cell, eventually destroying them both and allowing her to escape. Unfortunately, her fearful emotions cause a deadly blizzard to consume Arendelle, making her retreat that much more difficult, just as Hans learns of her escape. Needing to put an end to the winter, Hans heads out to kill Elsa, believing her death would not only free the kingdom, but earn him praise and admiration, selfishly wanting to rule the land as a beloved king.
Meanwhile, with Hans having betrayed Anna and revealing himself to be a ruthless murderer out for the throne, her curse becomes stronger and her death process is nearly complete. Olaf, however, informs her that Kristoff is the one that truly loves her, and that he's the one she must kiss to save herself. Anna and Olaf retreat to find the mountain man, just as Hans confronts Elsa not too far away. Elsa pleads to be left alone, and asks Hans to take care of Anna for her, to which Hans responds by telling her about the curse she accidentally put upon her sister, claiming she died from it, despite his efforts to save her. Devastated by the heart wrenching news, Elsa collapses and mourns the death of her sister, ceasing the blizzard and giving Hans the chance to finally eliminate her, as she's now vulnerable. Hans slowly approaches the Snow Queen from behind and draws his sword, ready to decapitate her. However, Anna sees this, and although she was freezing to death quicker and quicker, she jumps in front of Elsa as her curse takes full effect, turning into an ice statue the second Hans' sword hits, causing him to fall back unconscious just before her last, dying breath is lost.
Elsa quickly realizes the fate that has befallen her dearest younger sister, and desperately pleads for her return to her. However, with all hope seemingly lost, the Snow Queen breaks down in tears, mourning the loss of her deceased sister. Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven sadly look on, as do Arendelle's citizens, who realize Elsa's purity from the heartbreaking scene before them. However, Anna's sacrifice to save Elsa qualifies as an act of true love, and before long, the princess' frozen body slowly begins to thaw, resulting in her warm resurrection.
Elsa is overwhelmingly joyous and relieved to see Anna alive and well, and is touched at how she risked her life to save her. Anna responds by professing her love for Elsa. Olaf deduced that the act of true love was Anna's sacrifice, and that's what thawed her heart. These words from the snowman give Elsa the realization that the curse can be lifted, and that the warmth of love is the key to doing so. With this revelation, Elsa is able to focus herself, removing the icy curse from Arendelle and bringing summer back to the kingdom. With peace restored, Elsa rekindles her bond with Anna and is praised by her people for freeing them from the curse. After returning to her rightful position as queen of Arendelle, Elsa cuts off trade with Weselton, deports Hans, the Duke and his men for their attempted assassinations, and names Kristoff the "Official Arendelle Ice Master and Deliverer". Additionally, she is shown to have become a generous, loving ruler towards her people; allowing the castle gates to remain open, while also creating an ice skating rink during a celebration for the kingdom's enjoyment. All the while, Anna expresses her happiness over the newfound way of life, much to Elsa's satisfaction, and the two sisters finally embrace their restored relationship.
- She is the first Disney Princess that becomes a queen early in her debut.
- In Return to the Isle of the Lost, it's stated that one of the reasons magic was forbidden in Auradon is that some person with magic made a ice castle for Ben's 2nd birthday party and the castle started melting (causing a flood).
- Its possible that Elsa was the one responsible for the flood (she is the only one to have ice powers.
- She was voiced by Idina Menzel in her debut, Frozen.
- She was originally going to be portrayed as a villain, but this was cut because Hans was created. (The song Let It Go was another factor.)