- “Oh, I don't know why, but I've always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot...”
- He's Olaf and he likes warm hugs. Sprung from Elsa's magical powers, Olaf is by far the friendliest snowman to walk the mountains above Arendelle. His innocence, outgoing personality and uncanny ability to disassemble himself at good and not-so-good times lead to some awkward, albeit laughable moments. He may also have the world's most impossible dream, but what he doesn't know won't melt him—or will it?
In early versions of the movie, Olaf was supposed to be one of the first guards of Elsa's palace when the concept of Elsa controlling a legion of menacing snowmen was still in the story (notably, the only snowman minion to remain in the film would be Marshmallow). Chris Buck compared that version of the character to a trial run of someone's first pancake where the cook throws out the pancake after the cook finds out that it is burnt on the bottom.
In this version of the film, according to Jennifer Lee, Olaf was acerbic and often came off as mean-spirited as his attitude and persona greatly differed from what he would become in the final project. This actually led Jennifer Lee to advise the filmmakers to revamp the character entirely once she came onto the project.
In order to keep him from getting too complex, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee wanted Olaf to have a childlike innocence. Akin when a child makes a snowman for the first time where the heads are never perfect, and the body is disproportionate. That was the idea for the directors when they were thinking what kids would think of a snowman.
Olaf had to earn his place in the film. Jennifer Lee says that he could not just be thrown in, that he had to have a purpose, and one of his purposes is that he is the embodiment of the love between Elsa and Anna.
- “When Elsa flees Arendelle...she starts playing with the very magic she’s been hiding for so long. The snowman she creates comes from memories of the happy times she shared with Anna when they were young. Olaf represents that pure innocence and childhood joy.”
- ―Jennifer Lee, Frozen screenwriter
Olaf is an excessively benevolent snowman—optimistic, outgoing, and welcoming to all of whom he meets. The living embodiment of the bond between Anna and Elsa, and the memories of their youth, Olaf retains the childlike whimsy that surrounded the girls during their earliest days together, prior to their enforced separation. As such, he is childlike, far from a deep intellectual, innocent, and a hint too naive for his own good at times. Nevertheless, his imbued nature and devotion to the two sisters play an instrumental role in rekindling their broken relationship. The circumstances of his creation also results in the snowman harboring aspects and traits both sisters give off. Like Elsa, Olaf is selfless, constantly putting his safety at risk for the sake of those he cares about; most notably Anna, whom he immediately attaches himself to, upon their first meeting since the snowman's inanimate days. Like the younger sister, Olaf is an extreme optimist, often remaining relatively calm in perilous situations, or giving words of encouragement during the darkest hours.
He has an odd fascination for summer, possibly because young Elsa made him a snowman who loves warm hugs, and according to Olaf, he sometimes fantasizes about what summer would be like for a snowman, completely unaware of the consequences of his ambitious dream, making the poor snowman hapless.
Aside from his dominantly goofy side, Olaf is shown to have some intelligence to him, seen during his time with Anna in the third act. Here, it is he who teaches Anna the true meaning of love, stating it is the act of putting someone else's needs before your own. After the climax, when Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa, thus breaking the icy curse, Olaf was the first to realize Anna's sacrifice was an act of true love (it did not have to be romantic), and that act is what saved the kingdom. He is also not as oblivious as he seems, as he was quite skeptical about the trolls at first, when he thought they were mere rocks, even, out of love, urging Anna to run, believing Kristoff was delusional and potentially dangerous.
Olaf is also prone to making considerably sassy remarks in several scenes; the most notable example arguably being his jab at Kristoff, calling the mountain man a "funky-looking donkey" upon their first meeting. It should be noted that, due to his innocence, Olaf likely makes such remarks without any realization of the slight impudence, meaning he's merely speaking his mind and giving a genuine thought.
Olaf is a small snowman divided into three balls of snow (five, if one counts his legs), though he has the ability to rearrange his appearance at will. Three black rocks modeled as buttons are on his body, one on his midsection and two on his bottom. Underneath his bottom are two stubs of snow that serve as his legs to move around. He has two stick arms and three twigs on his head that resemble small strands of hair. On each arm are four fingers. His head takes up a third of his body, and is oval-shaped with a stretched face. The snow around the top of his mouth is shaped to resemble a buck tooth. In between his eyes and mouth is a carrot nose. When he was inanimate, his eyes were also made of rock. However, when living, his eyes are cartoony with black pupils. He also has eyebrows above them. Olaf's body parts are also capable of autonomy, and can be rearranged or separated from Olaf without any harm happening to him. He cannot feel pain either - when he walks onto an ice spike, resulting in the spike passing through his mid-section, he merely looks down and says "Oh, look at that. I've been impaled." and giggles. However, he can feel some pain, shown when Anna pushed his carrot nose in too hard. He seems to be ticklish when Kristoff pushed him away from Sven. Despite being made of snow, Olaf has human characteristics, such as sleeping, eating (despite lacking a digestive system), breathing, and senses of smell, taste (despite not having taste buds), sound, touch, and sight.
Olaf and Sven star in the animated short used as the teaser trailer for the film. It begins with Olaf wandering around the snowy landscapes of the forest when he comes across a Saffron Crocus flower. Intrigued by its beauty, Olaf takes a whiff which causes him to sneeze, his carrot nose flying off into the center of an icy lake, where's it's spotted by Sven, who is on the other side of the lake. The sight of the carrot is enough to get Sven extremely excited and head onto the slippery platform to fetch it, making Olaf believe he is trying to eat it. A race for the carrot then ensues, and the duo finally reach it, but Olaf accidentally flings it back onto the snowy land. Sven's able to escape the lake and retrieve the carrot before Olaf, much to the snowman's sadness. However, Sven returns and places the carrot onto Olaf's face, revealing he was merely trying to help get it back. Overjoyed, Olaf thanks the reindeer, the two form a new friendship just before Sven's shedding causes Olaf to sneeze once again, though it's his head that goes flying off as opposed to the carrot.
When Anna and Elsa were children, Elsa would use her snow magic to play with Anna. A favorite pastime activity for the two sisters was building snowmen. On one such occasion, Elsa helped Anna build their own snowman who Elsa named Olaf to play with. At this point, Olaf is not alive, but Elsa does voice him, saying, "Hi, I'm Olaf, and I like warm hugs!", to which little Anna says, "I love you, Olaf!"
Many years later, Elsa would exile herself from Arendelle after her snow magic was discovered and deemed dangerous. In the midst of embracing her abilities at her new ice palace home, Elsa recreates Olaf, but because of her greatly strengthened abilities, he is enchanted and given a mind and will of his very own, though Elsa was completely oblivious of her newfound creation. However, the enchanted Olaf has no memory of the moments spent with Anna and Elsa as a lifeless snowman years ago.
Olaf then wanders around the mountains alone and blissfully lost, until he bumps into Anna, Kristoff and Sven the reindeer, who seek to bring Elsa back to Arendelle so that she can bring back summer after she accidentally caused an eternal winter. Though initially phased by him, Anna decides to add a carrot nose to the snowman, much to his delight. After making introductions to each other (and Olaf mistakes Kristoff and Sven to have the same name as the latter), Anna soon recognizes Olaf and quickly assumes it was Elsa who built him, to which he confirms. Kristoff then tells Olaf of their mission to bring back summer after Olaf constantly asked what their intentions on finding Elsa were. Extremely giddy with the idea of summer and its warmth, Olaf decides to happily guide the group to Elsa's palace, though Anna refrains from telling him about the dangers of summer for a snowman, so not to disappoint, leaving Olaf comically in the dark.
After a short journey, Olaf and the others find Elsa's ice palace, and the little snowman could not have been more eager, rushing up the icy staircase and to the main entrance door. However, Anna decides it may be best to enter alone, without Olaf and Kristoff, and request they remain outside for a minute. Olaf does just that, sitting outside beside Kristoff and counts to sixty, rushing inside once he does, completely overjoyed to see Elsa again. His presence proves there is love and beauty in her powers, and remind her of the joyful moments she spent with Anna. However, their childhood memories also remind Elsa of the haunting night when she nearly killed her sister, prompting her to leave the scene, asking Anna to leave once again. Anna refuses to leave without her sister, but the stubbornness only makes Elsa uncomfortable, causing her to lose control over her powers once again and accidentally freezes Anna's heart. Olaf and Kristoff run to her aid, but Anna claims all is well. She tries once again to get Elsa home, but the Snow Queen refuses yet again, forcefully prompting her next action due to Anna's stubbornness.
In order to keep them away, Elsa creates a personal bodyguard named Marshmallow, a giant snowman. Olaf is thrilled to see another enchanted snowman, but is immediately kicked out along with Anna and Kristoff. The harming of Olaf angers Anna, and the princess fiercely (or as fierce as she can seem) throws a snowball at the snow beast, provoking him and leading to a chase. Olaf tells the gang to move ahead as he will distract him, but with his body dismembered, that immediately proves to be difficult. Anna and Kristoff reach the cliff of a mountain, and begin making a snow anchor to lower themselves down safely. Olaf meets up with them seconds before Marshmallow, and tries his luck again in taming the monster, but to no avail. Marshmallow continues his pursuit for Anna and Kristoff, but Olaf tries to battle him, leading the smaller snowman to be kicked over the cliff edge, leaving Anna and Kristoff to be captured by Marshmallow, only to escape due to Anna's quick thinking, causing them both to plummet down alongside Olaf, though they all survive.
Once they recover their energy, Kristoff notices Anna's hair turning white, rather alarmingly. To help, he takes the gang to a valley filled with mystical trolls. Along the way there, Olaf and Sven bond, forming a friendship, as does Kristoff and Anna, though in a romantic light. Upon arriving in the valley, Anna and Olaf only see what seem to be inanimate rocks. Judging Kristoff to be insane, Olaf urges Anna to run while he distracts him by pretending to acknowledge one of the rocks, just before the trolls awaken and welcome back Kristoff. Olaf joins in the trolls' cheer before realizing he was mistaken about Kristoff's name. Kristoff's adoptive mother, Bulda, believes Anna and Kristoff are a couple and the trolls gather to begin forming a wedding for the two, not realizing Anna's in danger. During it all, the two actually begin harboring affection towards one another, though Kristoff would not admit it in the least, and while that may be, Olaf and Sven are aware of the matter. However, before the wedding is complete, Anna nearly faints due to the powerful curse, and Pabbie, the king of the trolls, arrives upon sensing the magic, informing Anna that if she does not perform an act of true love, she will freeze to death. The friends immediately rush back to Arendelle, believing a kiss from Hans, a prince Anna's engaged to, will break the curse.
Along the way, Olaf is accidentally separated from the group, and informs them that he will meet with them at the castle. When he arrives, he finds Anna in the library, on the ground and quickly dying. She tells him Hans betrayed her and was never really her true love, and Olaf does not hesitate to start a fire to keep the princess warm. Fearing he will melt, Anna tells Olaf to leave, but not wanting to abandon his friend, the snowman stays by her side, nearly melting during this time. Still heartbroken by the betrayal, Anna tells Olaf she does not even know what love is anymore, upon hearing his inquiry as to whether or not she has any ideas on an act of true love that can save her. Olaf then replies by telling Anna love is putting someone else's need before your own, using Kristoff as an example, thus revealing his true feelings to Anna, much to the princess' surprise. Suddenly, the library's window bursts open due to the strong winter winds, and Olaf rushes to close it.
Before he does, he notices Kristoff and Sven rushing back to the castle. Knowing Kristoff is truly the one that loves Anna, the two try to head out to meet him, with Olaf aiding the dying princess out of the castle and into the fjords. However, the powerful storm blows Olaf away, and once he reunites with everyone, he finds Elsa mourning for Anna, who unfortunately froze to death sacrificing her life to save Elsa from Hans. Just as Olaf mourns to this, Anna is miraculously returned to life, and Olaf exclaims that her self-sacrifice for her elder sister was an act of true love. His words help Elsa realize that love is the key to controlling her ability as she thaws Arendelle, bringing back summer. Overjoyed, Olaf smiles with glee, but quickly melts due to the summer heat. Elsa restores him and gives him a small flurry cloud to hover over his body and keep him completely cool, finally allowing the snowman to live his dream of experiencing summer and all its warm wonders.
During the kingdom celebration, Olaf is seen throughout the village enjoying the sights and sounds of the warm season, taking a whiff of some flowers. The pollen causes him to sneeze, however, and his carrot nose lands directly into Sven's mouth. The reindeer does not hesitate to suck it up, saddening the snowman. However, this was only a playful trick, and Sven immediately places the carrot back onto Olaf's face, where it belongs, prompting the overjoyed snowman to hug his friend affectionately. Olaf is last seen in the castle courtyard, enjoying the newly made ice skating rink created by Elsa for the kingdom's enjoyment.
Taking place nearly a year after the events of the film, Anna's birthday has arrived, and Elsa is determined to make the day perfectly special for her younger sister. To help ensure every detail is precise, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are stationed in the castle courtyard to assist with decorations. After putting the finishing touches on the cake, however, a mischievous Olaf takes a bite, immediately being told he's not allowed to, by Elsa, as the cake is for Anna and must remain in one piece until the princess' arrival. Understanding, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are then left in charge to keep the courtyard intact until Elsa returns with Anna. Some time afterwards, miniature snow-babies (known as Snowgies) randomly appear, and instantly catch Olaf's attention.
Though the snowman is fascinated and excited by the sight of new "little brothers", the Snowgies soon begin causing a mess of things, and eventually make the birthday cake their target. Kristoff is able to use his swift movements to protect the cake, but the Snowgies soon tear down the "Happy Birthday" banner. Olaf volunteers to remanage it, but to disastrous results. By the time Anna and Elsa arrive at the courtyard, the Snowgies have been tamed, and Olaf excitedly welcomes the princess of honor, and unveils the surprise party attended by several friends and citizens of the kingdom.
At the end of the short, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven travel to Elsa's ice palace in the North Mountain, to have the Snowgies reside with Marshmallow. As Olaf walks them into their new home, he has appeared to have taken a shine to the Snowgies, even giving them names.
Olaf is to make a guest appearance in the Sofia the First episode "The Secret Library: Olaf and the Tale of Miss Nettle".
Olaf makes a small cameo in the animated mini-series, It's a Small World: The Animated Series, in the episode "Little Birds, Frost and Pine", being built by Anna and Elsa.
In an advertisement promoting Sky Movies, Olaf makes a notable appearance sliding down a blanket of snow as he encounters the commercial's host family, only to accidentally ram into a tree. He is later seen, seconds later, alongside Anna and Elsa.
In a 2015 holiday advertisement for Target, a toy version of Olaf makes a brief appearance when he encounters the kids and Bullseye the dog and comments that the "Sky is Awake", referring to the stars in the sky. He then watches on as the girl puts one of the stars in a light socket, turning on the lights of the Gingerbread Christmas tree.
Since early promotion for the film began, Olaf has been a recurring character in several printed stories in the form of books, novels, comics, and other outlets.
Olaf is a supporting character in these series of stories centering the relationship of Anna and Elsa, and their lives alongside their extended family (consisting of themselves, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven). Olaf plays several memorable roles in certain stories, including All Hail the Queen, where he spends the day with Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Sven. At one point, Kristoff takes the group to meet and view the ice harvesters, where Olaf adopts a block of ice as his "cousin".
In A Warm Welcome, Olaf believes there is a queen equivalent to Elsa in a far away kingdom, but with powers over fire and heat. Believing her kingdom is trapped in eternal summer, the group travels over to give assistance.
After believing Kristoff is taking a day off, Olaf decides to take the role of Official Arendelle Ice Master and Deliverer for the day, but causes havoc, alongside Sven, in the process. This story also confirms that Olaf now resides in the castle, alongside Anna and Elsa.
Olaf's Night Before Christmas
In the storybook, Olaf discovers and celebrates his first Christmas. The book also features a CD, audio narration read by the snowman.
Olaf has made a few video game appearances so far. He notably served as the star of his own game entitled Frozen: Olaf's Quest. Additionally, costumes of Olaf were also featured in the Club Penguin episode, "Frozen Party", and LittleBigPlanet as part of the "Frozen Costume Pack". It should be noted that in Penguin, Olaf, himself, also makes a special appearance.
The snowman's likeness is also featured in the popular Disney INFINITY, as a costume for the townspeople. Anna also mentions him, when she says to wait until he sees the new world in the Toy Box and that he would like it.
He was later confirmed as a playable character for Disney INFINITY 3.0, but only playable in the Toy Box. His attacks include detaching his arm to use as a weapon, sneezing his nose off to attack enemies from afar, and a special attack based on "In Summer", where he summons the warmth of summer to melt the enemies around him, while posing in a lounge chair.
Notably, Olaf is also a companion character in the popular app Frozen Free Fall. He is unlocked upon reaching level 111. His special ability is "Hot Chocolate", which enables him to melt a selected tile, and every tile under it.
Before he was released as a companion, Olaf served as the game's mascot, appearing on the game's map, as well as the results board.
Olaf made his live, Disney theme park debut as a walk-around character on November 5, 2014, taking part in the nighttime event, A Frozen Holiday Wish. The huggable snowman also makes meet-and-greet appearances during the Frozen Fun promotion at Disney California Adventure. His meet-and-greet spot is at "Olaf's Snow Fest", which is located within Stage 17 of Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure.
During the winter season, Olaf was the host of the winter rendition of World of Color in Disney California Adventure. Beginning in November of 2013, an animatronic Olaf began hosting Anna and Elsa's meet and greet in Disneyland, speaking to guests as they wait in line to meet the two princesses. Olaf also appeared with Anna and Elsa in a Frozen themed float as part of the pre-parade for Mickey's Soundsational Parade in Disneyland. The float was integrated into "A Christmas Fantasy" parade in 2014, and also appears in "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade", in the form of a walk around character.
In Magic Kingdom, Olaf also makes an appearance being built by young Anna and Elsa in the Frozen segment of Celebrate the Magic, as well as on board the opening float for the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Throughout the summer season, Olaf serves as a co-host (along with Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff) of the Frozen Summer Fun! event at Disney's Hollywood Studios. As of July 2015, Olaf makes a cameo during the bubble montage scene in Fantasmic!, alongside Anna and Elsa.
In Hong Kong Disneyland, Olaf appears in the show Mickey and the Wondrous Book as a puppet, performed in Storybook Theater. The show is set when Mickey opens a magical book that can bring stories to life in a magical library, which Olaf falls out from. While Mickey tries to get the snowman back inside, the former is magically drawn into the book. From here, Mickey sets out to find Olaf's story after discovering the magic of the book and the power of its stories. Finally, Mickey and Goofy come across the story of Frozen and restore Olaf to his rightful place.
- In the film, Olaf represents the happiness Elsa and Anna shared as young children. And, his desire to experience summer is symbolic of how Elsa wants to return to the old days of her childhood with her sister as her best friend.
- Olaf's very creation is an expression of how hard Elsa's self-imposed isolation from Anna was on her. The first voluntary act she performs with her power (as soon she decides to "let it go"), is to build the snowman that Anna spent those long years begging her to make with her. As she creates him, she sings the words "Can't hold it back any more," revealing how dearly she always wanted to go play with her sister whenever she asked her to. It is possible that the sheer intensity of this long held desire was what brought Olaf to life, and if so, Elsa's later surprise when she discovers Olaf is alive may indicate that she never even admitted to herself how just badly she wanted to rekindle her friendship with Anna.
- The destruction of the original Olaf marked the precise moment that Elsa and Anna's happy childhood friendship came to an end. Also, original Olaf, much like Anna and Elsa's friendship, was destroyed by Elsa's power running amok due to her internal personal distress.
- Olaf may have been inspired by "The Snowman", another Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, where the eponymous snowman falls in love with a warm stove, but cannot be with it because he would melt from it. As a result, he does not enjoy the cold weather. Eventually, the weather changes, causing the snowman to melt away.
- In the film, Olaf's elbows were specifically animated to never move with the exception of his fantasy sequence during "In Summer".
- Olaf was specially designed to appear as if a child had created him, with an uneven shape and such, which is a reference to how Elsa models him at the beginning of Frozen when she and Anna are young.
- The animation and staging of the scene between Olaf and Sven during the epilogue of the film is similar to the teaser trailer's animation and staging, right down to Olaf's exclaiming, "Hello!"
- In the blizzard scene, Olaf is blown away into the sky by a strong gale, similar to Scuttle in the storm scene in The Little Mermaid.
- Early on in the film, when Anna and Elsa were seen as kids, Anna tells Elsa "the sky's awake." Olaf would later said this to Sven when they enter the Valley of the Living Rock. Also, as kids, Elsa helped Anna ice-skating with Olaf. Then by the end of the film, Olaf helps Anna ice-skating with Elsa. These are likely to reflect the childhood Anna and Elsa once shared.
- His role resembles that of the sparrows that assist Gerda in The Snow Queen.
- Olaf's name came from an Old Norse name "Aleifr," which means "ancestor's descendant" (referring to the fact that Olaf is Elsa's "descendant"), and is Nordic for "treasure". It is also pronounced "oh, laugh", referring to his role as comic relief.
- Coincidentally, "Olaf' was the name of five kings of Norway, the country where Frozen takes place.
- Olaf makes a cameo in Homer Simpson's video for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
- In Frozen Fever, it is revealed that Olaf cannot spell or read.
- John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, was used as a performance reference for Olaf's line "He's craaazy...".
- In order to accurately animate Olaf's walk cycle to mimic the way a child would move, Olaf's supervising animator, Hyrum Osmond, used his son as a reference during production.
- Although the two never meet or interact, Olaf is aware of Hans' actions against Anna and Elsa, and has been noted to have a dislike for the prince as a result.
- Olaf is the only character from Frozen that did not appear on Once Upon a Time. The reason for this is because the creators of Once felt he would not fit into the story they were going to tell on the show.