“Wendy, the eldest, not only believed. She was the supreme authority on Peter Pan and all his marvelous adventures.”
―The narrator introducing Wendy
Wendy Darling is the deuteragonist of Walt Disney's 1953 animated feature film, Peter Pan. She is a young girl from London with a lifelong appreciation for the stories of Peter Pan, a flying boy from the isle of Neverland. Wendy's veneration for these tales manifested in a desire to stay young forever—a dream that was nearly realized when she and her brothers embarked on a fantastical adventure with Peter Pan, himself.
Wendy is an English girl living in London during the Edwardian era. While her age isn't specified, she is usually portrayed as a preteen on the brink of adolescence. Throughout her childhood, she lived with her parents, George and Mary, her brothers, Michael and John, as well as their dog Nana, who doubled as the children's daily caretaker when their parents were absent on their dates or parties.
Being the eldest child of a middle-class family of the era, Wendy served as a heavy influence on her brothers, specifically in regards to their love of Peter Pan and his lore. She would regularly tell the boys stories of Peter's various adventures in the supposedly fictitious isle of Neverland, most notably the stories of his battles with the villainous Captain Hook. To most people (her father, for instance), Peter Pan and the stories surrounding him were nothing more than a childish fantasy. To Wendy and her brothers, however, the legends of Pan were all too true, and his stories were used to maintain the fun and whimsy of their childhood, despite their parents encouraging the act of practical behavior.
Wendy is an imaginative, mature, and very maternal young lady. She loves to care for her younger brothers, Michael and John, and often tells the story of Peter Pan. Though her imagination is vivid and praised by them, her storytelling was initially looked down upon by her cantankerous and serious father, George, who found Wendy's stories and childlike nature to be immature and ridiculous, and voiced his desire to have her abandon her childhood as soon as possible to prepare herself for eventual adulthood. Because of this, she grew a fear of growing up and found comfort in the stories of Peter Pan and Neverland.
Nevertheless, upon visiting Neverland for the first time, Wendy ironically found her maturity and motherly instincts surfacing and growing. During her brief time, yet life changing experience on the island it became a more prominent part of her character as all the adventurous events unfolded. This led Wendy to finally accepting the fact that she will inevitably become an adult, one day. Even so, the young girl didn't allow this revelation to destroy her wondrous imagination.
As an adult (seen in Return to Never Land) Wendy hasn't lost her belief in Peter Pan, and tells stories about him to her two children, Jane and Danny. She has grown into a caring, smart, kind, and beautiful woman.
Wendy is introduced as the eldest child of George and Mary Darling. According to the narrator, she is an expert on Peter Pan, and the source of stories about him. However, when the practical George learns that she is once again telling stories to John and Michael, he disciplines her. He angrily tells her that it's time for her to grow up, and that night will be her last one in the nursery; the next, she will be forced to have a separate room. (Dialogue between them strongly suggests that this has been going on for a while now, and him punishing her is an indication that he is fed up with her childish stories.) As Mary is tucking her into bed, Wendy tells her that she does not want to grow up. As Mary goes to close the window, Wendy warns her not to lock it. According to Wendy, she has Peter's shadow, and she is certain that he will come back for it.
Later that night, Wendy is awakened and startled when Peter is trying to get his shadow on. Wendy offers to sew it on for him (as he is trying to reattach it with a bar of soap). Through conversation, Wendy learns that Peter likes to hear her stories. However, when Peter learns that she is to "grow up" and leave the nursery for good, Peter offers to take her to Never Land where she would never have to grow up. There, she could be the mother of the boys who live there and tell them many stories. Wendy tries to kiss Peter out of gratitude, but Tinker Bell, who is jealous, pulls Wendy's hair causing Peter to chase her around the room trying to shove her with his hat. By this time, Michael and John awaken and are allowed to go with them. Peter sprinkles them with pixie dust, and after a few false tries, they are able to fly by thinking happy thoughts. They then fly to Neverland.
When they reach there, they are attacked by Captain Hook. Tinker Bell is asked to lead Wendy, John, and Michael to safety, but soon leaves them behind. By the time Wendy catches up, she is shot at by the Lost Boys, mistaking her as a bird (also called a Wendy-Bird by the Lost Boys). Though she is not hit, she falls towards the ground before being saved by Peter. After scolding the boys, Peter introduces Wendy as their new mother and banishes Tink from Neverland forever as a punishment, but at Wendy's urging, changes it to a week.
Later, Peter takes Wendy to meet the mermaids in their lagoon. However, they take a jealous dislike for her and attempt to pull her into the water with them and splash her with their tails. An angered Wendy picks up a seashell and is about to hit them in defense but she is stopped by Peter who assures her that they were only playing. Suddenly, the lagoon darkens and Peter spots that Hook is close by. Terrified, the mermaids dive into the water and hide. Peter and Wendy follow Hook to Skull Rock and discover that the pirate has captured Tiger Lily, the Indian Princess. Wendy watches as Peter defeats Hook and rescues Tiger Lily, but is left behind when Peter flies off with Tiger Lily but tries to keep up.
Wendy attends a celebration at the Indian Camp in honor of Peter's rescue of Tiger Lily. However, Wendy is soon put to work gathering firewood and is not allowed to join the festivities. She leaves in a huff when she sees Tiger Lily flirting with Peter. At Hangman's Tree, Wendy decides to go home in the morning with Michael and John, much to the anger of Peter. After talking to Michael, she realizes that he is forgetting what home is like, and sings to him about their mother. After hearing her song, the Lost Boys decide to return with her, infuriating Peter, who believes they are going back to grow up, never to return.
As they go to leave, Wendy and the boys are captured by Hook. Wendy remains faithful that Peter will save them until Hook reveals that he has placed a bomb in the hideout. He gives the children the option of joining his crew, but they refuse. He then forces Wendy to walk the plank. As she drops, she is rescued in secret by Peter, who had been saved from the bomb by Tinker Bell. Peter frees Wendy and the boys and Wendy watches them as they take on Hook. After the battle, Peter reveals that he will take Wendy, John, and Michael back home, which pleases Wendy. Peter uses pixie dust to make Hook's ship fly. Wendy is next seen asleep on the window seat, where her parents find her when they return home. Wendy happily announces that she is ready to grow up, but George reveals that he has changed his mind and decided that Wendy can stay in the nursery. He then notices a ship made of clouds sailing across the moon and realizes that he saw it when he was young. Wendy is last seen looking at it through the window with her parents, as the wind breaks it into clouds itself.
Wendy reappears as an adult in the sequel. By this time, she has married a man named Edward and has two children, Jane and Danny. She still tells them stories about Peter Pan. However, when World War II hits, Edward leaves with the British army, leaving her alone with them. Eventually, the war takes its toll on Jane, and she stops believing in her mother's stories. One day, Wendy reveals to her and Danny that they must be sent to the countryside for safety, and asks Jane to tell stories to Danny. An angry Jane ridicules Wendy's stories and their faith in them, in very much the same way as her grandfather did in the first film. Wendy appears again at the end of the film when Jane returns with Peter. While she is with Danny, Wendy is able to meet Peter again. He is distraught that she has grown up, but she assures him that she hasn't changed. She is last seen reuniting with Edward, who has returned home from the war.
A younger version of Wendy makes a cameo appearance as a little girl in the prequel. In the middle of the film, Tinker Bell finds a ballerina music box. At the end, Queen Clarion, the queen of the fairies, allows her to travel to the Main Land to return it. When she arrives in London, she leaves it by a window, where Wendy, as a little girl, arrives and takes it in.
Wendy made a special appearance in the special. In it, Captain Hook learned of Wendy's beloved stories revolving around Peter and his adventures, which inevitably end with Hook's defeat and humiliation. Embarrassed by his portrayal in the book, Hook, Smee, and his crew traveled to London and steal it in an attempt to destroy it. However, more urgently, it served as the connection between Wendy and Never Land, and as a result, the more it is damaged, the more Wendy's memories of Peter and Never Land as a whole are obliterated, prompting Peter to rally a crew of wholesome NeverLandpirates to help battle Hook and save Wendy's memories. To help further the success, Wendy, John, Michael, and Nana tag along on the adventure as well.
Wendy returned in the series' finale, "Captain Hook's Last Stand", where she and her brothers travel to Never Land for Peter's homecoming. During the visit, Captain Hook harnesses the power of the Doom Stone, which grants him evil abilities. He uses said power to turn Peter into stone, finally eliminating his nemesis. Wendy, her brothers, Jake and his crew learn that Peter can only awaken with a kiss. They believe they must use an acorn that Peter had given Wendy when they first met (which he had called "a kiss"). After Hook destroys it, however, the heroes realize it is an actual kiss that's needed. Wendy kisses Peter, and this breaks the spell cast over him. Meanwhile, Captain Hook's use of the stone petrifies him, as well, though Wendy is able to free him with a kiss just the same.
Wendy and her family made an appearance on the second season of the fairy tale drama, Once Upon a Time. She was played by Freya Tingley. She was dressed in a nightgown that is far more elaborate and frilly than the Disney version, having a yoke and colored in white instead of blue; it more closely resembles the version from the 2003 film.
One day a boy named Baelfire comes to the Darlings' house to steal some bread. Wendy catches him but lets him eat as much as he likes. They soon become very good friends. She lets him stay in her house in secret, but her parents soon discover him. However, they decided to let him live with them after Wendy convinces George to let him stay. During this time, a shadow comes to the nursery window and takes her away to Neverland. The following morning she returns home after realizing how Neverland was not such a happy place after all. The shadow also let her return home because he wanted to take a boy instead of a girl. She worries through tears that it will take John or Michael away and she will never see them again. That night, after Mary tucks them in for the night and leaves, they try to prevent it from coming but they are unsuccessful. It is about to kidnap Michael but Bae tells it to take him instead. It agrees and Wendy and her brothers then see him leave their home forever.
Some time later, despite Wendy's previous escape from Neverland, she had somehow become Peter's prisoner when she and her brothers had returned to Neverland. In exchange for her safety, John and Michael agreed to become servants to Peter. Due to imprisonment on Neverland, Wendy never aged while John and Michael returned home and grew older throughout the years. In the present day, she is used by Peter to cement Henry's loyalty to him by posing as an ill member of the Lost Boys in order to make his goals appear benevolent by trying to help her and Neverland. While this does motivate Henry, Wendy dislikes lying to him, but Peter states it is necessary for the truest believer to believe in a goal, his goals. Peter quickly places Wendy back in prison after she plays her part, indicating that this version cruelly mistreats her unlike the original story or the Disney version.
Wendy is eventually freed from Neverland and reunited with her brothers in Storybrooke.
In the original Kingom Hearts, Wendy was mistakingly believed to be one of the seven "Princesses of Heart", and was kidnapped by Captain Hook as a result. However, upon learning from Maleficent that she is not one of the chosen ones, Riku ordered Hook to leave all deadweight behind on Neverland, including Wendy, though Hook refused as a result of how much trouble it was to capture her. Meanwhile, Peter Pan arrives on the Jolly Roger to rescue Wendy, and does so after finding her unconscious in the middle of it.
After being escorted to London, Wendy awaits Peter's arrival at Big Ben, where they share a moment, with her asking him to stay with her in London, though she eventually agrees that Neverland is where he truly belongs and accepts his departure.
Wendy appears as a meetable character at the Disney theme parks around the world, dressed as she appeared in the original film (blue hair tie holding her ringlet ponytail, light blue nightgown, black bedroom ballet slippers). A longer-sleeved variation of her nightgown is worn during the cold winter months, more resembling a blue bathrobe than a nightgown or pajamas.
Wendy appeared in the former castle stage show, Dream Along With Mickey, in the Magic Kingdom. She, along with Peter, help fulfill Goofy's dream in becoming a pirate, and battles Captain Hook and Smee. She is last seen during the finale "Any Dream is Possible". In the show, her nightgown was much more elaborate, resembling an actual one with frills and lace.
In France, Wendy can be seen in Disney Dreams!. Here, she and Peter are about to take a flight when his shadow escapes and releases the magic from the Second Star to the Right. After he finds it and restores the magic, he and Wendy enjoy their postponed flight.
Wendy's facial features are extremely similar to Alice from Alice in Wonderland. It makes sense because both characters were voiced and modeled after Kathryn Beaumont.
Wendy's name comes from one of J.M. Barrie 's friends in adulthood, Margaret Henley who died at age five-and-a-half. She called him her "friendy," which came out pronounced "fwendy".
In some Disney storybooks Wendy's nightgown and hair tie are pink instead of blue.
Most illustrations and depictions of Wendy show her wearing nightgowns that have long sleeves; the Disney movie and Once Upon a Time are the only two known versions that have her wearing short-sleeved/hemmed nightgowns.