- “Oh, I don't know why, but I've always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot.”
- ―Olaf on summer
Olaf is a snowman built by Elsa. He is based on a similar snowman built by Elsa and her sister, Anna, when they were both young. Though she was unaware of it, Elsa imbued Olaf with life, and the snowman proved instrumental in Anna's quest to find her sister.
Olaf was built on the night of the accident that would separate Elsa and Anna for thirteen years. At the time, Olaf was not yet sentient, and Elsa would simulate the snowman's actions and voice, creating his signature greeting: "Hi, I'm Olaf, and I like warm hugs". Anna loved the snowman she had built with her sister, and the three of them skated inside the Great Hall, propelled by Elsa's magic. However, when Anna was struck by Elsa's magic, the room was accidentally frozen and caused Olaf to topple in the process.
After her powers were revealed following her coronation, Elsa fled Arendelle. Due to the long years of concealment, Elsa did not mind being away from everyone else and seized the opportunity to experiment with her abilities. During this moment of catharsis, Elsa recreated her beloved snowman, unknowingly imbuing him with life. After some time, Olaf would make his way from the North Mountain to a frozen forest that glittered from light refracting off ice crystals.
The snowman soon happened upon two traveling individuals, Anna and Kristoff, and a reindeer, Sven. Overhearing Anna's statements about the ice forest's beauty, Olaf voiced his agreement but interjected that it would be better with a dash of color. Not realizing that his sentience was startling, Olaf was subjected to an instinctual kick from Anna and lost his head. Despite this, Olaf remained cheerful and, having landed in his arms, greeted Kristoff. However, the ice harvester was similarly disturbed by Olaf and tossed the head back to Anna. Olaf's head continued to exchange hands in this manner until Anna threw it back at his body, though it landed upside down.
When Olaf wondered at why Anna and Kristoff were hanging from the earth, Anna grew sympathetic and helped the snowman rearrange his head and presented him with a carrot nose. Grateful for the kindness, Olaf proceeded to introduce himself. Upon hearing Olaf's name, Anna remembered the snowman she and Elsa had built together. Realizing Elsa must have rebuilt Olaf, Anna asked the snowman if he could lead them to Elsa and have her restore summer. To Anna and Kristoff's surprise, Olaf remarked that it was his dream to experience the summer sun and happily led them onward to Elsa.
The ice palace
True to his word, Olaf led Anna, Kristoff, and Sven ever closer to Elsa; however, the group found their progress impeded by the sudden appearance of a steep rock face. While Kristoff and Anna began to discuss scaling the cliff, Olaf wandered off to the side to look for another route, finding an ice staircase that led directly to Elsa's ice palace. Olaf went back to Anna and Kristoff and told them what he had discovered. Anna, who had begun to climb the cliff, reacted joyfully to Olaf's news and released her grip, dropping into Kristoff's arms. She, Kristoff, and Sven then proceeded to follow Olaf, catching sight of not only the ice staircase Olaf spoke of, but also Elsa's palace.
While Anna and Kristoff busied themselves with admiring the magnificence of the palace, Olaf was already making his way up the staircase. Though Sven was forced to stay behind, the princess and ice harvester eventually ascended the steps and joined the snowman at the palace doors. When Anna expressed hesitation at knocking, Olaf tried to encourage her, but she remained reluctant, prompting the snowman to wonder if she "[knew] how to knock". However, Anna eventually knocked and the doors slowly swung open. Desiring some privacy, Anna requested both Olaf and Kristoff remain outside while she went to talk to Elsa. Taking her request for "a minute" literally, Olaf acquiesced to Anna's request and began to count to sixty seconds.
Eventually, Olaf's excitement overtook him, and he burst through the doors as he reached sixty. He ran towards Elsa and enthusiastically greeted his creator, who was astonished upon seeing the snowman was alive. With Olaf present, Anna tried to convince Elsa to return to Arendelle by reminding her of the close relationship they shared in the past. Though this initially seemed to get through to her, Elsa grimaced at her memories of the past and turned away. While Anna raced up a staircase in pursuit, Olaf remained behind.
A short while after, Olaf and Kristoff went to find Anna and saw the princess kneeling on the ground after being struck by Elsa's magic. Fearful, Elsa created a giant snowman to kick the trio out.
Though Elsa's guard merely tossed Anna and Kristoff out of the palace, he made sure to tear Olaf into his constituent parts and threw the pieces at the princess and ice harvester. After Anna angered the snowman, Olaf told her and Kristoff to run while he distracted Marshmallow; however, the lower parts of Olaf's body walked off on without the head, making the task all the more difficult.
Eventually, Olaf managed to reassemble himself and went to find his his companions, who were dangling from a cliff, happily proclaiming that they had escaped "Marshmallow". But in reality, Marshmallow stood behind Olaf and prepared to advance on Anna and Kristoff. The smaller snowman realized his mistake and tried to impede Marshmallow, but his attempt was in vain. Olaf tried a last-ditch effort to stop Marshmallow by grabbing hold of the larger snowman's leg, but Marshmallow shook him off, causing him to fall from the cliff. A short while later, Anna and Kristoff met a similar fate and reunited with Olaf at the base of the cliff; Sven also managed to locate the trio, to Olaf's delight.
Meeting the trolls
By nightfall, the group had made their way over the the Valley of the Living Rock; Olaf traveled on Sven's back, and the two traveled ahead of Anna and Kristoff while admiring the aurora borealis. The four eventually came to a clearing, and Kristoff gestured around at the rocks, telling Anna to "meet [his] family". While Anna silently stood still, staring in shock, Olaf openly questioned Kristoff's sanity and, on the grounds that he loved her, insisted that the princess run. Anna slowly began to back away, but Kristoff beckoned for her to stay, and the "rocks "suddenly began to move. As the rocks rolled towards Kristoff, they revealed themselves to be trolls.
Olaf playfully danced with the younger trolls as the elder ones set up Kristoff and Anna. When she collapsed, the trio quickly left the Valley of the Living Rock, with Olaf bouncing merrily on the back of Sven.
On the approach to Arendelle, Olaf slid through the snow next to his companions, penguin-style. As they neared the castle, Olaf and Sven went separate ways, but before the snowman slid off, Kristoff warned him to stay out of sight. However, Olaf did not heed this warning, startling a villager when he greeted her. Despite this setback, Olaf managed to enter the castle eventually and found himself at the locked library doors.
Using his carrot nose, Olaf managed to pick the lock of the door and, pleased with himself, entered the dark room. His happiness was short-lived when he found Anna lying on the floor, weak and cold. Realizing that there was a fireplace, Olaf tasked himself with starting a fire to keep Anna warm, and after being briefly entranced by the heat, he brought the princess near the flames.
Feeling that Anna was safe for the moment, Olaf asked what had happened with Hans and his kiss. Anna sadly replied that she was wrong about Hans and that what they had was not true love. Olaf was disheartened upon hearing upon hearing this, and Anna insisted the snowman get away from the fire; however, Olaf refused to leave until they found a way to save her. Utterly defeated, Anna stated that she did not even know what love was. But Olaf remained optimistic and reassured the princess that he knew: "Love is ... putting someone else's needs before yours."
After Olaf used Kristoff to illustrate his point, Anna realized that the ice harvester loved her. Suddenly, a window burst open, and as he went to shut it, Olaf gleefully noticed that Kristoff was returning to Arendelle. Filled with new hope, Anna asked Olaf to help her up, intending to meet the ice harvester outside. As the snowman helped Anna to her feet, the blizzard outside the castle intensified in strength, causing ice spikes to form in the castle, threatening to trap the pair within. The duo managed to escape from a window, but upon reaching the frozen fjord, Olaf was blown away by the winds, leaving Anna to fend for herself.
Eventually, the storm came to a halt, and Olaf managed to locate Anna. He was shocked to discover that she had succumbed to her curse and froze completely. He, Kristoff, and Sven could only watch in despair while Elsa grieved over her sister's lifeless body.
The Great Thaw
Olaf was the first to notice Anna's form beginning to thaw, and his exclamation prompted Elsa to realize that "love will thaw", and she was able to return Arendelle to summer. While remarking it was "the best day of [his] life", Olaf began to melt in the heat; however, Elsa reacted quickly by bestowing Olaf with a personal flurry to remain cool.
With his snow cloud safely overhead, Olaf was free to enjoy summer and frolicked throughout the village, where he encountered some blooming purple flowers. Regarding the flowers warmly, Olaf gave them a sniff but sneezed, losing his carrot nose in the process. Olaf was shocked to discover that Sven had seized hold of the carrot and was saddened when the reindeer consumed it. However, the reindeer was merely fooling around and returned the carrot to Olaf, to the snowman's delight.
Later, the castle gates were opened, and the whole village made its way inside the castle courtyard, where Elsa created an ice rink. In the courtyard, Olaf helped Elsa teach Anna how to skate, and the three of them enjoyed summer's return along with Kristoff, Sven, and the villagers.
Fun-loving, friendly, and naive, Olaf possesses high spirits and optimism that rival Anna's. Despite having his head kicked off, Olaf retained a genial demeanor towards Anna and Kristoff as they tossed his head back and forth. Olaf also had high hopes about Elsa restoring the summer, despite Kristoff's beliefs otherwise. True to his naivety, Olaf dreamt of experiencing summer, the mere thought of which sent him into a dream-like state. The snowman also was able to find humor in just about any situation, such as laughing off the incident in which he impaled himself on an ice spike and poking fun at Elsa's angry snow guard by calling him "Marshmallow".
Though Olaf has a childlike innocence, he is capable of remarkable insight, having lifted Anna's spirits by teaching the princess the meaning of love. And despite Anna and Kristoff not noticing it themselves, Olaf was able to ascertain the ice harvester's blossoming affection for the princess. The snowman was also the one to realize that Anna's sacrifice was the act of true love that the princess required to thaw her frozen heart.
Olaf is also incredibly selfless, volunteering to distract Marshmallow to provide Anna and Kristoff ample time to escape. And under the pretense that Kristoff was delusional, the snowman offered to keep the ice harvester occupied to give Anna time to escape. Olaf even was willing to let himself melt in an effort to keep Anna warm and delay the effects of her curse.
Olaf's most notable feature is the fact that he is an animate snowman. Olaf is able to not only move on his own, but also speak. He possesses two twig arms that are capable of grasping and picking up objects, such as matches. He can even detach his carrot nose and use it effectively as a lock-pick.
The snowman was constructed from five balls of snow: one for his head, two for his torso, and two for feet; Olaf can separate into these constituent parts and rearrange himself at will. The legs appear to exhibit their own sentience, able to freely move despite being detached from the head, an occurrence that inconvenienced the snowman during his encounter with Marshmallow.
Olaf also lacks the ability to perceive pain; he not only impaled himself on an ice spike without exhibiting signs of discomfort, but also laughed it off moments later.
Being made of snow provides Olaf with one particular weakness: a sensitivity to heat. Despite his desire to experience summer, Olaf still was vulnerable to melting from exposure to high temperatures. However, Elsa was able to help Olaf overcome this weakness by giving him a personal flurry to keep him cool at all times.
- Main article: Olaf's relationships
- Attesting Olaf's ability to endure pain, story artist Jeff Ranjo expressed delight at working with Olaf, saying, "You can rip his arms off, you can cut his head off, you can make a hole in him. He doesn't care. I love to torture Olaf, because he's a snowman. He doesn't feel pain. I can abuse him and get paid for it".
- Olaf appeared in the Frozen teaser trailer along with Sven.
- Olaf appeared in the "Simpson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge" as one of the objects that drops on Homer Simpson.