Wendy Moira Angela Darling is a fictional character, the female protagonist of Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie, and in most adaptations in other media. Her exact age is not specified in the original play or novel by Barrie, though she is implied to be 13 years old or younger, as she is "just Peter's size" and he still has all his baby teeth. In her most widely known portrayal in the 1953 Disney film, she appears to be about 12. (On the stage, she is often played by a young adult woman, meant to appear to be an adolescent girl.) Likewise, her hair color has variously been blonde, brown, or black. Wendy is portrayed in the Disney movie with a blue ribbon in her hair and blue night dress. Wendy expressess an innocent adoration for Peter as soon as they meet, and is honest to herself and company throughout the entire book, play or movie. As a girl who is beginning to "grow up", she stands in contrast to Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to do so, the major theme of the Peter Pan stories. In the beginning, Wendy hesitates to escape to the Neverland, to take care of her brothers and accompany her mother, but in time, she shows passion for a short adventure and magical events and adventures.
In the novel Peter Pan, and its cinematic adaptations, she is an Edwardian schoolgirl. The novel states that she attends a "kindergarten school" with her younger brothers, meaning a school for pre-adolescent children. Like Peter, in many adaptations of the story she is shown to be on the brink of adolescence. She belongs to a middle class London household of that era, and is the daughter of George Darling, a short-tempered and pompous bank/office worker, and his wife, Mary. Wendy shares a nursery room with her two brothers, Michael and John. However, in the Disney version, her father decides that "it's high time she found a room of her own" and kicks her out of the nursery for "stuffing the boys' heads with her lot of silly stories", but changes his mind at the end of the film after he returns home with his wife after the party.
Wendy is the most developed character in the story of Peter Pan, and is often considered the central protagonist. She is proud of her own childhood and enjoys telling stories and fantasizing. She has a distaste for adulthood, acquired partly by the example of it set by her father, whom she loves but fears due to his somewhat violent fits of anger. Her ambition early in the story is to somehow avoid growing up. She is granted this opportunity by Peter Pan, who takes her and her brothers to Neverland, where they can remain young indefinitely.
Ironically, Wendy finds that this experience brings out her more adult side. Peter and the tribe of Lost Boys who dwell in Neverland want her to be their "mother" (a role they remember only vaguely), a request she tentatively accedes to, performing various domestic tasks for them. There is also a degree of innocent or implied flirtation with Peter (thereby forming a love triangle with Peter's sometimes-jealous fairy friend Tinker Bell). In the Disney version she also becomes jealous of Princess Tiger Lily after the Princess kisses Peter. (In fact, she becomes so jealous she turns on her heel and marches back to the "Tree House"). In the original script of Barrie's book, Peter and Wendy, Wendy asks Peter, towards the end of the book, if he would like to speak to her parents about 'a very sweet subject', implying that she would like him to speak to her parents about someday marrying her.
Wendy eventually learns to accept the virtues of adulthood, and returns to London, having decided not to postpone maturity any longer.
In an episode included in the novel and later incorporated into some productions of the play, Wendy has grown up and married, and has a daughter, Jane. When Peter returns looking for Wendy (not understanding that she would no longer be a young girl, as time escapes him while he is in the Neverland), he meets Jane; Wendy lets her daughter go off with him, apparently trusting her to make the same choices. The same scenario later plays out between Jane's daughter, Wendy's granddaughter, Margaret. (We don't actually see this happen. Barrie states [at the very end of the book] that Jane has a daughter, Margaret, who will one day go to the Neverland with Peter Pan, and that the same thing will happen with Margaret's future daughter and future granddaughter, and on and on, for as long as children believe in fairies.)
The first name Wendy was very uncommon in the Anglosphere until after the story of Peter Pan and Wendy Darling became well known, and its subsequent popularity has led some to credit Barrie with "inventing" it. Although the name Wendy was used to a limited extent as the familiar-form of the Welsh name Gwendolyn, it is believed that Barrie took the name from a phrase used by Margaret Henley, a five-year-old girl whom Barrie befriended in the 1890s, daughter of his friend William Henley. She called Barrie her "friendy-wendy", which she pronounced as "fwendy-wendy". She died at the age of five and was buried, along with her family, in Cockayne Hatley.
In the anime series Peter Pan no Boken (Adventures of Peter Pan), which is a part of the World Masterpiece Theater, a rather tomboyish Wendy has a pivotal role in the second part of the series, which depicts a completely original story where Peter Pan, the Lost Kids and the Darling siblings must save a young witch named Luna from the clutches of her evil grandmother, the witch Sinistra, and Wendy is the one who truly saves her. She's also shown directly antagonizing Captain Hook when he kidnaps her in the first part, yelling at him and even impersonating his mother at some point to manipulate his fears against him.
A black-haired Wendy starred in Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates played by Christina Lange (Sister Bear from the Berenstein Bears 1984 CBS animated series). She was portrayed without a British accent and wore a crown of flowers in her short hair. Her appearance looks similar to Jane's in Disney's Return to Neverland as far as facial and hair features (sans hair color). (Interesting note: Jane herself also appears in an episode of Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates.)
The Disney version of Wendy was featured as one of the guests in House of Mouse; however, despite the fact that Kathryn Beaumont was credited as providing Alice's voice, Wendy said nothing.