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The Entire Frozen Timeline Explained

At the time when most of the critically and financially successful animated films distributed by Disney were actually made by Pixar, 2013's "Frozen" defied convention by becoming Walt Disney Animation Studios' first animated film to gross over $1 billion worldwide, and the studio's first to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (per The New York Times). The film, which introduced popular characters like Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven — not to mention a host of memorable creatures in the fairy-tale and lore-heavy world of Arendelle — spawned a behemoth multi-million dollar franchise that, as Leon Lazaroff of The Street remarked, has become a "global brand, a larger than life franchise built around products, theme parks and sequels that could last into the next century." 

With a franchise this massive come various merchandising and storytelling opportunities, leading to not just two feature films, but also a growing list of short films, television series, video games, stage plays, and novellas, all of which work to expand the mythos and lore of the world and characters introduced in the 2013 mega-hit film. With so much available content, it may be difficult for even the most ardent fan to keep up with all of the significant events occurring in the "Frozen" world. Grab a hot beverage as we explore the lengthy and icy timeline of the entire "Frozen" story.

There once was a treacherous king

King Runeard of Arendelle forms a truce with the indigenous Northuldra tribe, who live in the ancient Enchanted Forest. The forest is guarded by the elemental spirits of air, fire, water, and earth, all of whom are worshipped by the Northuldra. As a peace offering, Runeard constructs a dam in the forest, promising that it will make the woodland's waters stronger. That turns out to be a deception, though, as Runeard has a long-standing mistrust of those who practice magic, which includes the Northuldra, and has engineered the dam to weaken the forest and coerce the Northuldra into complying with his demands.

During a celebration of the union of Arendelle and Northuldra, Runeard takes his son Prince Agnarr to the Enchanted Forest, where Agnarr gets taken away by the elemental spirits. A battle breaks out between the two nation's soldiers, during which Agnarr witnesses the death of his father and is knocked unconscious as the enraged spirits of the forest wreak havoc on the remaining soldiers. Agnarr is rescued by Iduna, a Northuldra native, and the two flee before the Enchanted Forest is covered in an impenetrable mist that imprisons the remaining soldiers from both sides, including Runeard's Lieutenant Mattias, and locks everyone else outside for several years.

They lived happily ever after (for a while)

Upon his return, Agnarr is recognized as the King of Arendelle and meets Iduna, but is unaware she was the one who saved him. The two grow up to become best friends and eventual lovers, getting married and giving birth to two daughters, Elsa and Anna. They soon discover that Elsa is endowed with magical ice powers from birth, unaware that these abilities have been granted as a reward for Iduna's selfless rescue of Agnarr by the Enchanted Forest spirits. Because of past tensions between their people, Iduna keeps her Northuldra ancestry a secret from Agnarr throughout their marriage.

Later, when his daughters Elsa and Anna are young, Agnarr tells them the story of his father King Runeard, the truce, and the subsequent conflict with the Northuldra. Since Agnarr is unaware of his father's underlying paranoia and betrayal of the Northuldra, he remembers Runeard as a revered and honorable leader. Iduna sings a song that was sung to her by her mother about the mystical river Ahtohallan, which is believed to "hold all the answers to the past."

A quarantined childhood

Elsa and Anna's childhood bond becomes complicated when a playtime goes wrong and Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her ice powers. Agnarr and Iduna take the unconscious Anna to the Valley of the Living Rock, a land inhabited by a close-knit community of magical rock trolls. Pabbie, the elder troll leader, suggests that in order to prevent this from ever happening again, Anna's memories of Elsa's powers should be erased. He then heals Anna while doing so. To further ensure that neither Anna nor the villagers learn of Elsa's abilities, the castle's gates are locked and she is forced to confine herself to her room with the drapes drawn. When Elsa has trouble managing her powers, her father occasionally gives her a "conceal, don't feel" speech (which, as we're about to discover, isn't the best advice a parent could give their child).

Meanwhile, a young Kristoff earns a living picking ice (raising the question of how lenient Arendelle's child labor regulations are). He travels to the Valley of the Living Rock with his reindeer (and closest friend) Sven, where he's adopted as a part of the family and nurtured as their own. 

As they grow older, Elsa consistently rebuffs Anna's attempts to spend time with her while trying (and failing) to control her powers inside the room. She even distances herself from her parents, who have been her only point of contact, out of fear of accidentally hurting them. Agnarr and Iduna embark on a voyage through the Southern Sea to Ahtohallan, a mythical island they believe to be connected to Elsa's ice powers. However, the two perish in the voyage, leaving Elsa and Anna orphaned and more disconnected than ever.

Elsa's coronation

Three years after the deaths of Agnarr and Iduna, the kingdom holds a coronation for Elsa's 21st birthday, where she will be anointed the Queen of Arendelle. As the castle's gates finally open for the various guests traveling from other kingdoms, Anna is very eager for the coronation — not only for the chance to finally reunite with her sister but also for the possibility of meeting her "Prince Charming" there. At Elsa's coronation, Anna and Elsa briefly reconnect, but Elsa quickly goes back to keeping her at a distance.

Later, Anna meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, a charming and attractive young man with whom she gets infatuated after they connect and bond over a song and dance. Hans proposes marriage, to which Anna immediately says yes. Anna seeks Elsa's blessing, but Elsa (rightfully) points out the absurdity of Anna getting engaged to someone she just met. This starts an argument over Elsa's tendency to distance herself from Anna over the years, which escalates and causes Elsa to accidently unleash her ice powers. There's only so much one can conceal and not feel.

A wintery summer

After accidentally displaying her powers in front of all the villagers and foreign dignitaries at the coronation, Elsa flees Arendelle, unwittingly freezing the entire nation. The kingdom is encapsulated in snow and all the lakes are turned to ice. Elsa retreats to the mountains, "letting go" of her attempts at suppressing herself and her powers, and conjures herself her own fortress of solitude made of ice. 

Leaving Arendelle in the care of Prince Hans, Anna sets out to find her sister, slogging through the deep snow until she gets lost in the woods. Upon meeting Kristoff and his trusted steed Sven at a trading outpost, she hires them to take her to the North Mountain, where she believes Elsa is hiding. The two are chased by wolves, an encounter which everyone survives but which ends with Kristoff's sleigh falling down a chasm. Now on foot, they meet Olaf, a snowman with a warm heart who yearns for the summers and all things hot — essentially a walking and talking oxymoron.

You're breaking (and freezing) my heart, Elsa!

When Anna arrives at Elsa's ice palace, she tries to persuade her sister to thaw Arendelle, but Elsa can't, and retains her distance. Anna begs Elsa to not shut her out again, striking an emotional nerve for Elsa, which causes her to accidentally hurt Anna once more. Elsa conjures up a hot-headed ice monster who drives Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf away from the castle. 

After their narrow escape, Kristoff observes that Anna's hair is turning white and takes her to the rock trolls, who he is confident will be able to tell what's going on. After a musical performance during which the rock trolls try to break the ice between Kristoff and Anna, Anna becomes frail with an illness. Pabbie explains that Elsa's ice has poisoned her heart, and she needs a "gesture of deep love" to help her recover from it. Naturally, Anna believes that a kiss from her beloved Prince Hans will make everything right, so Kristoff hastily delivers her to him. Meanwhile, Hans rallies a few men to head for Elsa's fortress, where an encounter leads to Elsa being captured by Hans' men and held as a prisoner in her own kingdom.

When Kristoff hands over Anna at the mansion's gates, he's sent away as Anna is escorted straight to Prince Hans. However, Anna is no Cinderella, and Prince Hans proves to be more "Hans Gruber" than "Prince Charming," taking Elsa hostage and abandoning Anna to die of a frozen (and broken) heart. He tells the dignitaries that Elsa caused Anna's illness and death, but that they were married in her final moments, making Hans the de facto ruler of Arendelle. His first act as king is to order Elsa's execution, but she's already escaped.

A heart-warming Reunion

Olaf comes to Anna's rescue and breaks her out of the room she was imprisoned in. Anna comes to the realization that she loves Kristoff, who has braved through a snowstorm to save her. Hans tries to kill Elsa, but Anna intervenes just in time to save her sister from Hans by giving her life. She succumbs to the ice illness which permeates to her entire body, rendering her completely frozen. 

Elsa mourns the apparent death of her sister and hugs Anna, which turns out to be the gesture of love that would heal and defrost Anna. Anna is well, and Elsa realizes that the key to controlling her powers is, you guessed it, love. She unfreezes Arendelle and all its lakes, putting an end to the blizzard and restoring the nation to its former vibrant splendor. The citizens embrace Elsa as their queen, as she opens the gates to the castle after years of it being closed off. Hans is sent back to his home as a prisoner, and Anna and Kristoff finally confess their love for each another.

Olaf's frozen adventure

It's the first Christmas since Anna and Elsa opened the gates of the castle to the citizens of Arendelle. The two hold a bell ringing ceremony for the entire village at their castle, as their parents used to do, but after the villagers head home to attend their individual family celebrations, the two sisters quickly discover that they don't have a holiday tradition of their own. Olaf (who's been very enthusiastic about the holiday) tries to make up for the sisters' disappointment by asking the town's residents about their traditions while travelling around with Sven. He then returns home with a sleigh full of ideas.

However, the sleigh catches fire and Olaf ends up losing everything, and wolves give chase through the woods. Anna and Elsa find a dejected Olaf and cheer him up by revealing that while they were growing up isolated from each other throughout their childhood, their holiday tradition involved Anna sliding drawings and handmade dolls of Olaf under Elsa's door. Elsa summons an ice-made Christmas tree with her magic before serving the villagers a holiday feast.

Frozen Fever

A year after the events of "Frozen," Elsa painstakingly plans the "perfect" surprise birthday party for Anna. It feels especially important since this is Anna's first birthday that the two sisters will be able to celebrate together. Elsa leaves Kristoff and Olaf in charge of the decorations at the castle while she takes Anna on a sort of scavenger hunt around Arendelle. But Elsa contracts a cold, which she braves with great difficulty (and denial) while Anna tries to convince her to get some rest. 

Her fever proves to be a problem for Kristoff and Olaf as well, since every time Elsa sneezes, she produces a number of tiny snow babies (referred to as "Snowgies") who become a nuisance for Kristoff and Olaf at the castle as they can hardly hold the fort against the adorable little deviants. Elsa leads Anna through Arendelle in a delirious sing-song that culminates with Elsa accepting her illness, and when Anna returns home, she's surprised by everyone. The party comes to a successful conclusion with Anna taking care of Elsa and thanking her for the best birthday present she has ever gotten. Olaf then delivers the Snowgies to Marshmallow, the ice monster who now lives by himself at Elsa's former ice palace.

A second call to adventure

Two years later, Elsa begins to hear a melodic voice that she feels is calling out to her. She keeps blocking out the literal call to adventure, afraid of going "into the unknown" and doing anything to affect the status quo that she's content with. But the angelic voice continues to call to her, prompting Elsa to send out a response. Soon after, an earthquake-like occurrence forces the citizens of Arendelle to evacuate to the mountains, and Elsa decides to finally investigate the voices she's been hearing. Anna, afraid of losing her sister again, is adamant on joining her along with Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf.

The gang reaches the mythic Enchanted Forest, which Elsa and Anna heard about in their father's stories while they were growing up. The forest is covered with a looming mist that pulls all of them deeper into the village and traps them inside, where they encounter the soldiers of Northuldra and Arendelle, including Lieutenant Mattias, all of whom had been trapped in the forest for the 32 years since the battle involving Anna and Elsa's grandfather. Here, the sisters realize that their mother was a Northuldra native, and was the one who had saved their father Agnarr all those years earlier. Kristoff goes through an ongoing struggle to find an opportune moment to ask Anna to marry him, and a miscommunication results in the two travelling separate paths.

Water has memory

Through the forest, Elsa, Anna, and Olaf find the wrecked ship that their parents were on when they had died, and discover a map to the fabled Ahtohallan inside the ship. They realize that Agnarr and Iduna were headed for Ahtohallan in search for an explanation to the source of Elsa's powers. Elsa decides to go to Ahtohallan alone, unwilling to take Anna, who is insistent on coming along. She sends Anna and Olaf away on a boat against their will, and the two navigate through various Earth Giants sleeping around the lake, before they end up stranded and lost in a cave. 

Olaf opens up about the existential crisis he's been facing as a result of him getting older. Meanwhile, Elsa uses her abilities to endure the ferocious sea waves as she tries to traverse the Southern Sea to reach Ahtohallan. A water horse that she encounters initially tries to deter her from her course, but Elsa is able to tame it and ride the remainder of the way to her destination.

The truth about the past

At Ahtohallan, Elsa learns the truth about her grandfather King Runeard's distrust of magical beings and his betrayal of the Northuldra. Elsa is more and more encased in ice as she travels further into Ahtohallan, affected by the revelations of her malevolent grandfather that contrast with the tales told by her father. Before entirely freezing, she sends a message to Anna, which makes its way across the forest and finds Anna and Olaf in the cave. It informs Anna of the reality of the past and their grandfather's betrayal of the Northuldra. Anna realizes that they must destroy the dam her grandfather built, even though it would cause Arendelle to flood.

Olaf fades away as a result of Elsa's "death," leaving Anna to carry on by herself. She braves through her dark-night-of-the-soul moment and emerges from the cave, getting the idea to use the Earth Giants to destroy the dam. When Anna awakens the Earth Giants and lures them to the dam, Lieutenant Mattias and his troops confront her and at first doubt her motives for destroying the structure. After Anna exposes the truth behind the dam, the soldiers assist her in getting the Earth Giants to throw enormous rocks at the dam, which eventually causes it to collapse.

Anna saves the day (again)

The dam falls, releasing Elsa from her frozen state and lifting the curse of the Enchanted Forest. She rejoins her sister after saving Arendelle from the onslaught of water that the dam released. The warriors are liberated when the mist in the Enchanted Forest dissipates, allowing them to admire the clear skies for the first time in many years. Elsa brings Olaf back to life, and discover that he's managed to retain his personality (since "water has memory" and Olaf is essentially made of frozen water). To put a bow on their happy ending, Kristoff finally proposes to Anna. 

Elsa cedes her crown to Anna, who takes over as the new queen of Arendelle. The sisters have realized that Elsa herself belongs with the Northuldra as the fifth elemental spirit of the Enchanted Forest. Elsa rides through the forest as its new defender, closing the book on the story of "Frozen" ... at least until a third "Frozen" movie comes along.