The Bride of Frankenstein is a character that was briefly made in the novel Frankenstein and was officially introduced in Bride of Frankenstein.
In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein is tempted by his monster. He argues that as a living thing, he has a right to happiness. He promises that if Victor grants his request, he and his mate will vanish into the wilderness of South America uninhabited by man, never to reappear. Fearing for his family, Victor reluctantly agrees and travels to England to do his work. Working on a second being on the Orkney Islands, he is plagued by premonitions of what his work might wreak, particularly the idea that creating a mate for the creature might lead to the breeding of an entire race of creatures that could plague mankind. He destroys the unfinished female creature after he sees his first creation looking through the window. The monster witnesses this and confronts Victor vowing to be with Victor on his upcoming wedding night. The monster murders Clerval and leaves the corpse on an Irish beach.
In Bride of Frankenstein, Henry Frankenstein's former mentor Doctor Septimus Pretorius reunites with Henry. Septimus proposes to Henry that together they create a mate for his monster with Henry building the body and Pretorius supplying an artificially-grown brain. Henry initially balks at the idea, but Pretorius reminds him that he is capable of exposing him to the authorities as the creator of the Monster who has done so much damage. Henry eventually agrees to help his mentor when Frankenstein's Monster captures Henry's wife Elizabeth. Henry returns to his tower laboratory where in spite of himself he grows excited over his work. After being assured of Elizabeth's safety, Henry completes the Bride's body. A storm rages as final preparations are made to bring the Bride to life. Her bandage-wrapped body is raised through the roof. Lightning strikes a kite sending electricity through the Bride. Henry and Pretorius lower her and realize their success. "She's alive! Alive!" Henry cries.
They remove her bandages and help her to stand. Doctor Pretorius then declares it "The Bride of Frankenstein!" The excited Monster sees his mate and reaches out to her asking "Friend" three times. The Bride's screams reject him. When the Monster tries to advance on her, the Bride screams again. The Monster dejectedly says "She hate me! Like others." As Elizabeth races to Henry's side, the Monster rampages through the laboratory. When Henry states that he can't leave his creation, The Monster tells Henry and Elizabeth "Yes! Go! You live!" To Pretorius and the Bride, he says "You stay. We belong dead." While Henry and Elizabeth flee, the Monster sheds a tear as his mate the Bride hisses and pulls a lever to trigger the destruction of the laboratory and tower. In the falling matter of the laboratory briefly you can see Petrious against the left wall and the Monster and Bride on the right with the Bride clinging to her husband.
Although Frankenstein's Monster survives the tower's destruction, the fates of Doctor Pretorius and the Bride of Frankenstein are unknown.
Early in production, James Whale decided that the same actress cast to play the Bride should also play Mary Shelley in the film's prologue, to represent how the story — and horror in general — springs from the dark side of the imagination. He considered Brigitte Helm and Phyllis Brooks before deciding on Elsa Lanchester. Lanchester, who had accompanied husband Charles Laughton to Hollywood, had met with only moderate success while Laughton had found success with several films (including Whale's own The Old Dark House) and had won an Academy Award for his role in The Private Life of Henry VIII.
Lanchester had returned alone to London when Whale contacted her to offer her the dual role. Lanchester modeled the Bride's hissing on the hissing of swans. She gave herself a sore throat while filming the hissing sequence, which Whale shot from multiple angles.
Since the film, the Bride of Frankenstein was homaged in different media appearances with some of them having her paired up with Frankenstein's Monster:
- The Bride of Frankenstein appears in Mad Monster Party? voiced by Phyllis Diller (whose likeness was used for the Bride's design).
- The Bride of Frankenstein appears in Mad Mad Mad Monsters (a "prequel of sorts" to Mad Monster Party) voiced by Rhoda Mann. She was created by Baron Henry von Frankenstein to be the mate for his monster. Of course Boris' assistant Igor wants the Bride for himself at the time when Baron Henry von Frankenstein makes plans to have a wedding at the Transylvania Astoria Hotel on Friday the 13th.
- The character Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein, who ends up marrying Frankenstein's Creature, has an identical hairstyle to the Bride.
- The Bride of Frankenstein was featured as Eva in The Bride played by Jennifer Beals opposite of Clancy Brown as the Monster. She was created by Baron Charles Frankenstein and his assistant Paulus. When she sees Viktor, she is revolted. Later on in the film, Eva falls in love with Viktor when he discovers her in the monastery outside of Frankenstein's Castle.
- In Gravedale High, the character Miss Dirge is based on the Bride of Frankenstein.
- In the film Frankenweenie, Persephone, the poodle love interest of Sparky ended up having a hairstyle similar to the Bride of Frankenstein after having contact with the iron screws on his neck.
- The Bride of Frankenstein appears as Eunice in the film Hotel Transylvania voiced by Fran Drescher. She is seen as Frankenstein's wife, the best friend of Wanda the Werewolf and also as the aunt of Dracula's daughter, Mavis. In this movie, she acquires a very exuberant appearance that makes her seem like a stereotyped and fancy woman.
- In the 1975 film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" Magenta, the sister of the film's secondary antagonist Riff Raff? who is also his lover ended up having the same hairstyle as The Bride Of Frankenstein in the conclusion of the film.