Comprehensive Guide to Retired American Girl Dolls

Discover the fascinating world of retired American Girl dolls. Learn their history, what different types of models there are, and how you can find your dream collectible doll today!

Find Your Favorite Retired American Girl Dolls

Retired American Girl Dolls are beloved by many young girls and adult collectors alike. These dolls come with backstories that make them both unique and special, creating emotional bonds between the owners and their dolls. 

With hundreds of different outfits spanning decades, these dolls have been treasured heirlooms in families around the world for generations. 

Whether you’re a collector looking to find your favorite doll or just starting on your doll-collecting journey, you’ll likely be amazed by all that retired American Girl Dolls have to offer! 

From rare finds to popular favorites from throughout the history of American Girl Dolls, explore the charm of each era during this nostalgic adventure!

What Are Retired Dolls? 

Retired American Girl Dolls are dolls that have been discontinued by the company. This means that they are no longer being produced or sold in stores. 

These dolls may have been made for a limited time, had specific features or outfits, or simply no longer fit into the brand’s current collection.

While this may seem like a disadvantage, it adds to their value and appeal to collectors. Retired dolls often become highly sought after and can be quite valuable due to their limited availability.

History of American Girl Dolls

American Girl Dolls was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, a former teacher and writer. The first American Girl dolls were based on historic characters from different periods in American history. Each doll came with a unique story that reflected the challenges and triumphs of their respective era.

Their initial collection featured three characters: Kirsten Larson from the Pioneer era, Samantha Parkington from the Victorian era, and Molly McIntire from World War II.

Over the years, American Girl Dolls expanded to include contemporary characters as well as dolls from different ethnicities and backgrounds. 

These dolls have been loved by generations of children and continue to be popular collectibles today. 

In 2008, Mattel acquired the American Girl brand, and since then, new dolls have been introduced while some have been discontinued.

Types of American Girl Dolls

There are several types of retired American Girl Dolls, each with their unique qualities and characteristics. Here are a few examples:

  1. Historical Characters – As mentioned before, the original American Girl Dolls were historical characters. These dolls showcase different periods in American history and come with detailed outfits and accessories that reflect their story.
  2. Contemporary Characters – In addition to historical characters, American Girl Dolls also have contemporary characters that represent modern-day girls facing relatable challenges and experiences.
  3. Limited Edition Dolls – These dolls are only available for a short period and are often released around the holiday season. They usually have exclusive outfits or accessories that make them highly desirable to collectors.
  4. Girl of the Year Dolls – Introduced in 2001, these dolls represent diverse backgrounds and interests and are only available for one year before being retired.
  5. My American Girl/Truly Me Dolls – These customizable dolls allow girls to choose their doll’s hair, skin tone, and eye color to create a personalized doll that resembles them.

Historical Character Item Retirements

Originally, only a few things were retired from Historical Collections. Pleasant Company followed a policy of maintaining consistency with the characters over time, choosing not to retire almost anything. They instead chose to remodel or retool certain items, without completely removing them from purchase. However, there were exceptions during this period. The original white body dolls were retired to give all characters flesh-toned bodies, and the 1997 Limited Edition Historical Outfits were intended to be offered in limited quantities for a limited time.

This policy of keeping each historical character’s items consistent to show how things changed over time was maintained until American Girl was purchased by Mattel. While they initially upheld this pattern, retirements later became more frequent and less predictable among the Historicals. For several years, retirements were concentrated on Addy, Kirsten, Josefina, and Felicity. At one point, for example, every single item in Addy’s original school collection was retired.

When Kaya was released in 2002, Felicity was no longer featured in paper catalogs and was only available for purchase online. Many items from her collection were retired. She was also excluded from story expansions and collections. Several of her items were eventually re-released when the movie and Elizabeth Cole were launched, resulting in a revamp of Felicity’s collection.

Starting with Cécile’s Summer Outfit and Marie-Grace’s Summer Outfit, Limited Edition Historical Outfits and items began to be released again. These items were assigned specific end dates upon release, generally available until December of that year or while supplies lasted.

American Girl’s official stance is that low-selling Historical items are retired to make room for the introduction of newer items.

Modern Doll Line Retirements

American Girl’s modern doll line, known as Truly Me, regularly undergoes retirements of clothing and accessories, allowing for fresh styles that mirror current fashion trends. Typically, holiday outfits see retirement in early Spring, shortly after the holiday season concludes. The lifespan of furniture tends to span a two to three-year cycle. Matching children’s clothing is phased out alongside the doll’s outfits, gradually selling out. Create Your line has witnessed the retirements of several outfits and accessory sets, making room for new offerings. Additionally, certain hairstyles and eye colors have become unavailable over time.

Several factors contribute to the retirement decisions:

  1. Low sales or low stock may prompt the retirement of certain dolls.
  2. Occasionally, dolls retire just before or after the release of a similar doll.
  3. Dolls featuring thick bangs have generally been modified to showcase a thinner bang style.
  4. Gray-eyed dolls have been either retired or reworked due to a preference for silver eye color.
  5. The original version of Just Like You 27, with permanently attached earrings, was retired once dolls became capable of getting pierced ears.
  6. Gabriela McBride, who shared similarities with doll #46, was retired shortly before her release. A similar situation occurred with Z Yang and Just Like You 30.
  7. By 2022, all twenty original American Girl of Today dolls had been retired. The relaunch of Truly Me later that year, accompanied by a renumbered system, led to the full retirement of older dolls (including the four Street Chic Collection dolls) that were later reintroduced with a new appearance style.

As American Girl continues its evolution, the retiring and reintroducing of dolls play a vital role in keeping the brand’s offerings fresh and relevant. Stay tuned for more updates on American Girl’s ever-evolving doll line.

Limited Edition Retirements: Girls of the Year, Contemporary Characters, and World by Us

With a set release schedule, these coveted dolls and their accompanying items are only available for a limited time. Some items are launched at the start of the year, with additional releases in the summer or fall.

At the end of each year, all items from the Girl of the Year line are retired, regardless of remaining stock. If an item sells out in the latter half of the year, it is also considered retired. However, fear not, as books and other media related to the characters remain available even after their year ends.

In later years, after the launch of a new doll, any remaining stock is sold at a discount. Eventually, everything is fully retired, and the remaining stock is sent to the American Girl Benefit Sale. Some items from retired dolls may resurface with generic names as part of the My American Girl collection.

Changes have been made to the official website over time. In 2015, certain dolls were removed from the Girl of the Year Archives and the official website. However, shortly after, they were restored. The official site now focuses on the most recent characters, with older ones displayed on the side. In 2019, the separate Girls of the Year website was integrated into a main character page, covering multiple characters.

Breaking Tradition: Gabriela, Luciana, Blaire, Joss, and Kira

Gabriela, introduced in 2017, set a new precedent for the lifespan of a collection, remaining available for about two years before being retired in 2018. Similarly, Luciana was retired in 2020, though her doll remained available until 2021. Blaire, Joss, and Kira followed suit, bidding farewell to the shelves in approximately 2021, 2022, and 2023 respectively.

Farewell to the Contemporary Line

The Contemporary Line, known for its modern characters, did not initially have any announced retirement dates. However, in 2018, the line came to a close with the retirement of Tenney, Z, and Gabriela.

World By Us Retirements

Even the collaborative outfits with Harlem’s Fashion Row from the World By Us line have been retired, marking the end of an era.

Retired American Girl Dolls and Their Story

Felicity Merriman

Felicity Merriman

Originally released in 1991 and revamped in 2005, she stole the hearts of kids everywhere. Although she was officially archived in 2011, Felicity made a grand comeback in 2017 as part of the coveted BeForever collection. 

However, her time in the spotlight was short-lived as she was archived once again in December 2019. But wait, there’s more! In celebration of the 35th anniversary, a Special Edition version was released in 2021. 

Felicity Merriman is a fiery and adventurous young girl living in 1770s Williamsburg, Virginia. Caught amidst the tensions of the American Revolution, Felicity must navigate the conflicting loyalties of her Patriot and Loyalist family and friends. In her core books, themes of loyalty and staying true to one’s ideals shine through.

Felicity is not your typical young lady of the time. With her auburn hair and love for horses, she exudes a spunky and free-spirited nature. She often rebels against the societal customs imposed on young women, much to her mother’s disappointment. 

Felicity can be impulsive at times, setting her heart on things and acting brashly. Yet, she also possesses a courageous spirit and isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies, as she did with Jiggy Nye. 

She even enjoys teasing Annabelle Cole, Elizabeth’s older sister, affectionately referring to her as “Bananabelle.” Throughout the series, Felicity finds a balance between her adventurous nature and becoming more ladylike, while remaining active and determined.

Although many items from Felicity’s collection were retired in the early 2000s, her story came to life in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure on November 29, 2005, bringing new products to her collection. 

However, on August 27, 2010, American Girl decided to archive the Felicity and Elizabeth collection. On March 28, 2011, Felicity, Elizabeth, and their respective collections were officially archived. 

Felicity made a brief return as part of BeForever in February 2017 but was later archived again in December 2019. The impact of Felicity’s story continues to captivate readers and fans, leaving an enduring legacy for years to come.

Kirsten Larson

Kirsten Larson

The Kirsten Larson doll, released in 1986, is one of American Girl’s first three Historical Characters, along with Samantha Parkington and Molly McIntire. 

Kirsten, a Swedish immigrant who settled in the Minnesota Territory in 1854, faces challenges and adaptations to life in America. She attends a single-room schoolhouse, preserves Swedish traditions, makes new friends, and experiences the arrival of a new baby. 

Although Kirsten was officially archived in 2010, a Special Edition version was released for the 35th anniversary in 2021. Her mini doll remains available.

Elizabeth Cole

Elizabeth Cole

The Elizabeth Cole doll, Best Friend of Felicity Merriman, was released in 2005. Elizabeth was officially archived on March 28, 2011, with Felicity’s collection.

Elizabeth Cole is Felicity’s best friend, despite her Loyalist family leanings during the American Revolution. Despite being quiet and shy, she is known to poke fun at her older sister Annabelle with Felicity. This stems from being teased by Annabelle, who gave her younger sister the nickname “Bitsy”. Elizabeth is also shown to be somewhat wealthier, as evidenced by having a larger home, a larger garden, and fancier clothing.

The Elizabeth doll was introduced in August 2005 as the second Best Friend doll, accompanied by a book written by author Valerie Tripp. The character was prominently featured in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. In the original Felicity book illustrations, Elizabeth had brown hair and eyes, but the character’s appearance was later revised to have blue eyes and blonde hair with the release of the Felicity DVD and Elizabeth doll. Subsequent editions of the Felicity books were re-illustrated to reflect these changes and edit Elizabeth’s physical description.

On August 27, 2010, American Girl announced that Elizabeth and her collection would be archived with Felicity, which took place in March 2011.

Nellie O’Malley

The Nellie O’Malley doll, Best Friend of Samantha Parkington, was introduced in 2004 as part of American Girl’s collection. 

Nellie, an Irish immigrant, becomes close friends with Samantha and represents the working-class immigrant experience during that era. She, along with her sisters Bridget and Jenny, gets adopted by Samantha’s relatives, Gardner and Cornelia Edwards, after being orphaned. 

Nellie’s story is chronicled in a book called “Nellie’s Promise” by Valerie Tripp, which details her growth and adjustment after her adoption. 

Despite her popularity, Nellie was archived along with Samantha in 2009. With the return of Samantha and the release of BeForever in 2014, American Girl shifted its focus away from the Best Friends line, making it unlikely for Nellie to be released again.

Saige Copeland 

The Saige Copeland doll, released by American Girl in 2013, quickly became a fan favorite. Representing an only child from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Saige is passionate about visual arts, particularly painting, and is skilled in horseback riding, following her grandmother’s footsteps.

During her return to school, Saige faces disappointment as she discovers there won’t be a new art class. Determined to make a change, she embarks on an adventure with her friends, working together to restore the art class.

To complement the doll’s launch, a made-for-television film titled “Saige Paints the Sky” was released on July 2, 2013. The movie, featuring actress Sidney Fullmer as Saige, aired on NBC on July 13, 2013. Additionally, an iOS app called “Paint Ponies” was also launched alongside the doll.

Saige, with her light skin, blue eyes, and freckles across her nose, has loose auburn hair styled in a braid. She wears an indigo dress adorned with a knitted/sewn geometric print belt and pairs it with tan boots featuring belting details.

The Classic mold is used for Saige’s face.

The Saige Copeland doll captivated audiences during its limited one-year availability and remains a cherished addition to American Girl’s collection.

Ruthie Smithens

The Ruthie Smithens doll was released in 2008 as the Best Friend of Kit Kittredge, coinciding with the movie’s debut. Ruthie, portrayed as the daughter of a banker, remained financially unaffected by the Great Depression. 

Despite their contrasting personalities, Ruthie is known for her love of princesses and fairy tales, while Kit exhibits a more tomboyish nature. 

Ruthie’s loyalty and bravery are evident as she goes to great lengths to assist Kit, although her family mostly offers support without compromising their pride. Her accessories included a black purse, a hankie, two rose-shaped barrettes, and a watch. 

Eventually, Ruthie, along with Ivy, Cécile, and Marie-Grace, retired in August 2014 following the company’s decision to discontinue the Best Friends line.

Caroline Abbott

Released in 2012, the Caroline Abbott doll quickly became a favorite among American Girl enthusiasts. Despite not receiving any major updates for the BeForever release, her timeless appeal continued to capture the hearts of young readers and doll collectors alike. Although Caroline retired in 2015, her mini doll remains a cherished item for those seeking a piece of history.

Caroline Abbott, a spirited girl from 1812 Sackets Harbor, New York, was the beloved daughter of a shipbuilder who operated a shipyard near Lake Ontario. With a love for outdoor adventures, such as sailing and ice skating, Caroline held onto a dream that seemed impossible for a young girl at the time – to become a captain of her ship.

Tragedy struck when Caroline’s father was captured, leaving her alone and determined to save him as well as reunite her broken family. Bravery became her guiding force, pushing her beyond her limits as she embarked on a journey filled with challenges and unexpected discoveries. Throughout her captivating tale, Caroline navigates themes of bravery, family, and the importance of making wise decisions.

Although Caroline’s collection, including the endearing doll herself, was archived in 2015, her spirit and story live on through a collection of books and a mini-doll that are still available for those who wish to embark on their adventure alongside this remarkable character.

American Girl has undoubtedly created an enduring legacy with Caroline Abbott, ensuring that her BeForever version of books stands as a testament to her indomitable spirit and the values she exemplifies. 

Samantha Parkington

Samantha, the beloved American Girl character, lived during the Edwardian period but was mistakenly labeled as Victorian. 

Orphaned at a young age, Samantha was raised by her wealthy grandmother in fictional Mount Bedford, New York, where she formed a friendship with a poor servant girl named Nellie. 

Samantha’s fascinating story touches on important themes such as women’s suffrage, child labor, and classism. 

A television adaptation titled “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday” was released in November 2004, followed by a DVD release. 

In October 2008, American Girl announced plans to archive Samantha and her collection, only to reintroduce her as part of the BeForever reboot in August 2014.

Molly McIntire

Molly McIntire is a young girl living in the fictional city of Jefferson, Illinois during the later years of World War II. Her father, a doctor, is stationed in England caring for wounded soldiers, while her mother works at the Red Cross. 

Molly and her three siblings, Jill, Ricky, and Brad, are taken care of by their neighbor and housekeeper Mrs. Gilford, as they navigate the challenges brought on by the war. 

Despite the changes, Molly finds time for leisure activities like skating, tap dancing, movies, and summer camp. Her story focuses on patriotism and the impact of wartime. 

Molly, one of the original three dolls offered by Pleasant Company, is notable for being the only historical character sold with eyeglasses.

Eventually, Molly and Emily were archived on December 31, 2013, but Molly’s mini doll and books were re-released in February 2018 as part of the BeForever line. 

Additionally, Molly made a temporary comeback as part of American Girl’s 35th Anniversary. 

Finally, in 2022, Molly was officially re-released, including her original book and select items from her original collection.


Retired American Girl Dolls hold a special place in the hearts of many collectors and continue to bring joy and nostalgia to those who own them. 

With their unique stories, detailed outfits, and limited availability, these dolls are truly one-of-a-kind collectibles that will be treasured for generations to come. 

Whether you’re a long-time collector or just starting your doll-collecting journey, retired American Girl Dolls offer something special for everyone.  

So go ahead and start exploring the world of retired American Girl Dolls and discover the magic of each era! 

Keep in mind, that this is just a small glimpse into the vast and enchanting world of retired dolls. With so many different types, styles, and eras to choose from, there’s no limit to what you can discover and add to your collection. Happy collecting!  

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Read more:

List of American Girl Dolls

Retired American Girl Dolls: Where Are They Now?

List of American Girl characters – Wikipedia

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