The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but now that a runaway thief has stumbled upon her, she is about to discover the world for the first time, and who she really is.
After receiving the healing powers from a magical flower, the baby Princess Rapunzel is kidnapped from the palace in the middle of the night by Mother Gothel. Mother Gothel knows that the flower's magical powers are now growing within the golden hair of Rapunzel, and to stay young, she must lock Rapunzel in her hidden tower. Rapunzel is now a teenager and her hair has grown to a length of 70-feet. The beautiful Rapunzel has been in the tower her entire life, and she is curious of the outside world. One day, the bandit Flynn Ryder scales the tower and is taken captive by Rapunzel. Rapunzel strikes a deal with the charming thief to act as her guide to travel to the place where the floating lights come from that she has seen every year on her birthday. Rapunzel is about to have the most exciting and magnificent journey of her life.
Once, a drop of the sun falls on Earth and grows a magic golden flower with the ability to heal the sick and injured. Mother Gothel sees the flower and hides it; then she finds that when she sings to the flower, she rejuvenates. Centuries pass and a kingdom is raised in the place where the flower is hidden. When the beloved Queen is about to have a baby, she gets sick and the only hope to save her is to find the magic flower. But Mother Gothel does not want to share the sun's gift and keeps the flower hidden. However, the spot is found and the magic of the golden flower heals the Queen. When the Queen's daughter Rapunzel is born, she receives the healing power from the flower and Gothel abducts her to use her magic hair to stay young. Gothel raises Rapunzel as a daughter, without cutting her hair and locks her in a high tower in an isolated area. She keeps Rapunzel far from other people, telling that it is for her own protection. The King and the Queen celebrate the anniversary of their beloved daughter releasing lanterns to the sky, and Rapunzel dreams of leaving the tower to see the floating lights from the outside world. When the thief, cheater and liar Flynn Rider steals the crown with two bandits, he is chased by the royal guard. However, he double-crosses the other thieves and flees, and climbs the tower to hide. However, Rapunzel hits him with a frying pan and hides his satchel with the crown. Rapunzel promises to return the satchel if Flynn takes her to see the lanterns. He accepts the deal and they start a dangerous journey of discoveries and love chased by the guards, the bandits and Mother Gothel.
Rapunzel, the missing daughter of a Queen and King, meets Flynn Rider, a witty criminal who teams up with the long haired princess to escape the tall tower she had been trapped in for 18 years. As they set out to find the lanterns that roam the sky each year on her birthday, they run in to silly mishaps and engage in a sing-along adventure for children of all ages!
A long-lost princess with the longest hair imaginable named Rapunzel has spent her whole life in a lonely tower, dreaming of the world, waiting to discover it. When she finally starts to give up hope an escaped prisoner named Flynn Rider approaches Rapunzel's lonely tower and agrees to take her to see the lanterns that appear every day on her birthday if she would return his satchel filled with stolen jewels, including the lost princess's shiny crown. Flynn and Rapunzel embark on a journey that they will never forget and Rapunzel discovers who she really is.
- The film opens on a Wanted poster for Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) which is mounted to a tree. Flynn's voice narrates: "This is the story of how I died. But don't worry, this is actually a fun story and the truth is it isn't even mine. This is the story of a girl named Rapunzel, and it starts with the sun."
Centuries ago, a droplet of sunlight falls from the sky and lands on Earth. When it touches the ground, a radiant, yellow flower blossoms. This flower is said to be capable of great healing power. One day, an old crone named Gothel (Donna Murphy) finds the flower and discovers that, when she sings a certain song to it ("Flower, gleam and glow. Let your power shine. Make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine, what once was mine"), it emits a power that restores her youth. Vain and possessive of the flower, Gothel hides it beneath a woven basket and regularly returns to it to keep herself young.
Time goes by and soon a prosperous kingdom is built up nearby. The ruling king and queen of Corona desperately wish for a child and, when the queen finally becomes pregnant, the entire kingdom celebrates. However, the queen soon falls deathly ill. Upon hearing a rumor that speaks of the legendary sun flower, the king spares no time and dispatches his soldiers to find it. Soon enough, the soldiers discover the flower that, in her haste to hide, Gothel forgot to cover. They bring it back to the castle and distill it into an elixir which is given to the queen. To everyone's great relief, she recovers and soon gives birth to a beautiful baby girl who, unlike her brunette parents, has shining golden hair. The royal family marks the occasion by lighting a paper lantern decorated with the emblem of a sun and release it into the sky.
Gothel, however, is not pleased. She is determined not to lose the magical powers that gave her eternal youth, so she breaks into the castle late one night and finds the baby princess lying in her crib. She recites the old song and the baby's hair glows just as the flower had. Gothel attempts to cut just enough hair to keep but the clipped hair turns brown in her hands, void of its power. Desperate, Gothel resolves to kidnap the princess and flee with her deep into the forest. She takes the baby to a secret tower hidden in an alcove where she gives her the name Rapunzel and raises her as her own daughter. She teaches the girl to sing the old song to make her hair glow and restore Gothel's beauty and keeps her hidden from the world, telling her that it is for her own safety and that anyone on the outside wouldn't hesitate to steal her magic hair. The only access to the world Rapunzel has is a wide window from which Mother Gothel comes and goes, using Rapunzel's 70 foot long hair as a rope ladder. Despite playing the part as 'mother', Gothel often cruelly teases Rapunzel and guilt-trips her whenever she is upset or disappointed, dramatically proclaiming, "now I'm the bad guy".
As the years pass, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) becomes fascinated by an annual event that seems to happen only on her birthday. That night, every year, she witnesses thousands of floating lights in the sky, brighter than the stars and beautiful in all their colors. Unknown to her, it is the releasing of the paper lanterns that her biological parents are making in tradition of their daughter who they hope will return to them one day. Eighteen years later, Rapunzel is a creative young woman, finding numerous ways to keep herself entertained during the day while Mother Gothel is away, including painting, cleaning, brushing, and playing hide and seek with her pet chameleon Pascal. Though she is happy with her life in the tower, she longs to someday explore the outside world and see the place where the lanterns in the sky come from.
Within the kingdom, standing on the roof of the castle, young thief Flynn Rider goes over the plans to his latest heist with his associates, the Stabbington brothers (Ron Perlman). They use a rope to lower Flynn into the throne room where the missing princess's prized tiara sits on a guarded pedestal. Flynn steals the priceless artifact and is hoisted back to the roof with the palace guards hot in pursuit, led by the Captain of the Guard (M.C. Gainey) and his loyal horse, Maximus. The thieves make it outside the kingdom and seek refuge in the forest but soon come to a dead end in a ditch. The Stabbington brothers tell Flynn that, if he gives them the satchel with the tiara in it, they'll hoist him up to the high ledge above. Once at the top, they then command that Flynn help them up. But Flynn reveals that he still has the tiara in a second satchel. Double crossing the brothers, he ditches them and runs into the forest.
Seeking refuge, Flynn comes to Rapunzel's tower and climbs the vines to the open window above. Seemingly alone, he takes the tiara out of his satchel to admire it, but Rapunzel knocks him out with a frying pan. She and Pascal step forward cautiously to investigate the intruder. Pascal, using his color schemes, advises Rapunzel to be wary of the young man since Gothel has often told stories of men bearing sharp teeth. However, Rapunzel finds nothing outwardly menacing about Flynn and hides him in her closet as Mother Gothel comes home. Rapunzel decides that she will show Mother Gothel the young man, proving that she can take care of herself, in hopes that she will be let out of the tower for her approaching 18th birthday. However, when Rapunzel plucks up the courage to ask to leave the tower and see the floating lights, Mother Gothel spurns her request. She tells Rapunzel that the world is much too dangerous for someone as naïve as her and that she is never to leave the tower, singing that "Mother Knows Best".
Rapunzel solemnly promises not to ask to leave the tower again and, thinking it pointless now, keeps from telling Mother Gothel that she has a stranger locked away in her closet. Instead, she asks if Mother Gothel could restore her white paint by collecting special white seashells for her birthday. Mother Gothel is hesitant about making the three day journey to the shore, but acquiesces and leaves. Once out of sight, Rapunzel takes Flynn out of the closet and uses her hair to tie him up to a chair. When he comes to, she proposes a deal. She will give him his satchel with the tiara back (which she has hidden) if he takes her to see the floating lights and brings her back to the tower before Mother Gothel returns. Flynn reluctantly agrees.
Outside the tower, Rapunzel digs her toes into grass for the first time and runs about the forest in bursts of elation and panic while Flynn can only watch. While excited to be out in the world for the first time, Rapunzel feels equally ashamed for having defied her mother. Despite her guilt and confusion, she assures Flynn that she is fine enough to continue the journey. Hoping to dissuade her, Flynn takes her to the nearby Snuggly Duckling Inn, a tavern which is frequented by an assortment of thugs and bandits. Flynn's plan to scare Rapunzel into going back to the tower backfires when the thugs recognize him from wanted posters and attempt to hold him for a reward while one of their associates goes to tip off the guards. Rapunzel pleads with them to release Flynn and asks if any of them have ever had a dream. Her innocence melts their hearts and they all confess their dreams. When the guards arrive at the inn, they stage a distraction to help Rapunzel and Flynn escape through a secret tunnel and encourage her to live her dream.
As they make their way down the tunnel, the horse Maximus arrives at the inn and sniffs Flynn's trail to the secret trapdoor. He leads the guards to a large quarry where they corner Rapunzel and Flynn. Maximus unhinges a large wooden beam to try and get to them but this renders the dam overlooking the quarry unstable. It collapses and a wave of water surges into the quarry. Rapunzel and Flynn become trapped inside a cave as falling rocks block the entrance. Water begins to flood into the cave and, realizing their doom, Rapunzel and Flynn each admit a secret to the other. Flynn confesses that his true name is Eugene Fitzherbert. Rapunzel tells him that her hair glows when she sings. However, she realizes that she can use that to her advantage and begins singing. Her glowing hair illuminates a break in the rocks where water flows out and Flynn manages to dislodge the rocks, injuring his hand slightly, and break out the other side.
Meanwhile, Maximus the horse jumps out in front of Mother Gothel startling her, she immediately panics that his rider (a palace guard) has located Rapunzel and rescued her. She is shocked to discover Rapunzel gone and even more surprised when she finds the tiara hidden under the staircase with a satchel and a wanted poster of Flynn. Bent on retrieving Rapunzel, Gothel takes the satchel and tiara and sets out to search for her. She manages to track Rapunzel to the Snuggly Duckling, through the secret passage, into the quarry, and through the cave into the forest once more. There, she is confronted by the Stabbington brothers, but uses them to her advantage by bargaining their help for the tiara, revenge against Flynn for double-crossing them, and 'something worth much more'.
That evening, Rapunzel and Eugene set up camp and Rapunzel reveals to Eugene that her hair does not just glow as she wraps it around his injured hand. She sings and, as her hair glows, it heals Eugene's injury, to his shock. He asks her not to spread word of his true name for fear that it would ruin his reputation, explaining that he adopted his current pseudonym of 'Flynn Rider' as an orphan, inspired by stories of a thief named 'Flynn'. Growing up, he dreamed of having enough money to travel the world and relished the freedom of it all. Even so, Rapunzel tells him that she actually prefers his real name.
When Eugene leaves to gather more firewood, Mother Gothel appears to Rapunzel from the nearby bushes and tells her that they must return to the tower. Rapunzel refuses to leave and tells Mother Gothel that she thinks Eugene likes her. Mother Gothel scoffs at the idea and tells Rapunzel that Flynn is only interested in one thing before revealing the satchel with the tiara. She tells Rapunzel to prove her wrong and test Eugene by giving him the satchel but not to come crying if he takes it and leaves. Unsure but fearful that Mother Gothel may be right, Rapunzel hides the satchel as Flynn returns. They settle down for the night while Gothel and the Stabbington brothers keep an eye on them nearby.
The next morning, Eugene wakes to see a soaking wet Maximus glaring angrily down at him. Maximus attempts to carry Eugene off but Rapunzel befriends the horse and convinces him to let Eugene stay with her until after she sees the floating lights. Maximus relents but accompanies the pair as they travel into the kingdom. The marketplace is alive with vendors and townsfolk preparing for the sky lantern festival and Rapunzel's hair is tightly braided to prevent it from dragging. While she and Eugene tour the kingdom, she notices a large tile portrait of the Royal family, including a baby with golden hair. Eugene finds himself growing fond of Rapunzel and, as the time for the lanterns to be released approaches, takes her out on a boat to the middle of the lake surrounding the castle. There, they watch in awe as the lights are released and the sky is filled with a soft orange glow. One lantern with a sun emblem on it floats down and Rapunzel gently pushes it back skyward. She then reveals the satchel she had been hiding to Eugene but, unlike what Mother Gothel predicted, he puts it aside and takes Rapunzel's hands in his.
Before they can kiss, Eugene spies the Stabbington brothers on the nearby shore. He rows the boat in, tells Rapunzel to wait, and goes to meet them with the satchel. Realizing that he cares more about Rapunzel than the tiara, he gives the satchel to the brothers but they reveal they're no longer interested in the tiara. While she waits by the boat, Rapunzel is shocked to see the Stabbington brothers approach. They tell her that Eugene betrayed her trust and point to his silhouette in a boat on the lake before attempting to kidnap her for her hair's power. Horrified, Rapunzel tries to run but her long hair gets caught on a tree log. Before the brothers can grab her, Mother Gothel appears and knocks both of them unconscious. In tears and promising to never disobey her again, Rapunzel leaves with Mother Gothel back to the tower.
Eugene's boat, meanwhile, docks just outside the palace. Maximus watches from nearby as Flynn comes to, having been knocked out and tied to the mast of the boat with the tiara beside him. The guards on the dock immediately arrest him.
Back within the confines of the tower, Mother Gothel comforts Rapunzel and tells her that they shall put this whole experience behind them. As she walks up to her room, Rapunzel notices a recurring theme: all around her, painted on the walls and embroidered on her bed sheets, is the same sun emblem that she saw within the kingdom and on the very lantern she pushed skyward. She remembers the baby with golden blonde hair held by her brown-haired parents and suddenly realizes that she is the missing princess! She confronts Gothel about this who admits the truth but maintains that everything she did was for Rapunzel's protection. When Rapunzel asks what's to become of Eugene, Gothel tells her that he is to be executed. Enraged, Rapunzel goes to leave but Gothel resolves to 'be the bad guy' and approaches her menacingly.
As he is led to the gallows, Eugene sees the Stabbington brothers incarcerated in their own cell. He demands to know what has happened to Rapunzel and they admit that they were acting under the promises of Mother Gothel to get Rapunzel back. Eugene struggles to escape, knowing that Rapunzel is in danger, but is unable to. Maximus then arrives with a few of the thugs from the Snuggly Duckling (Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins, and Richard Kiel) and they help Eugene break out so that he can ride out to Rapunzel's tower.
Beneath the tower, he calls out to Rapunzel and her hair is let down for him to climb. When he reaches the top, however, he finds Rapunzel bound and gagged in a chair. Before she can warn him, Gothel emerges from the shadows and stabs Eugene in the side with her dagger. He reels back, falling against a vanity mirror and breaking the glass. Gothel then tells Rapunzel that she will take her far away where no one will ever find her. Struggling against her gag, Rapunzel promises that she will go with Gothel willingly if she is allowed to heal Eugene. Gothel agrees and Rapunzel goes to the dying Eugene. Before she can begin singing he pulls her close and cuts her hair with shard of glass. With the enchantment broken, Rapunzel's hair turns into its normal brown and Gothel staggers back as her skin begins to wrinkle. Horrified by her reflection, she trips over some of Rapunzel's cut hair and falls out the window. By the time her cloak hits the ground, she's rapidly aged into a pile of ashes.
With his dying breath, Eugene tells Rapunzel that she was his new dream and she tells him the same. Crying over him, Rapunzel recites her song one last time. A lone tear falls from her eyes into Eugene's and the last bit of magic that remained in her revives him. The two lovers embrace and kiss before traveling together back to the castle where Rapunzel is reunited with her real parents. Eugene, now addressed by his true name, is welcomed into the Royal family. He and Rapunzel are soon married and live happily ever after.