- “A girl rescued me. She was singing. She had the most beautiful voice.”
- ―Prince Eric talking about Ariel
Ariel is the protagonist of Disney's 1989 animated feature film, The Little Mermaid. She is the seventh and youngest daughter of King Triton and Queen Athena, rulers of the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. Ariel lived through much of her young life with a passionate - yet forbidden - admiration of the human world, and longed to someday experience life on the surface.
Ariel is loosely based on the nameless protagonist of the Danish fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen, but unlike the Andersen tale in which the mermaid loses her prince and dies, the Disney adaptation features a happy ending.
Ariel is the fourth official member of the Disney Princess line-up. She is also the first Disney Princess to be developed after Walt Disney's lifetime, having been conceived over two decades after his passing in 1966. Incidentally, Disney himself made efforts to adapt The Little Mermaid in the late 1930s, and early 40s. She is the first Disney Princess to be developed during the Disney Renaissance.
- Ariel is an independent, headstrong, and determined young mermaid. She is the youngest and prettiest princess of the sea, but spends most of her time outside the palace walls of Atlantica singing, daydreaming, and adventuring with her best friend, Flounder the guppy fish, and sometimes Sebastian the crab, who is also the royal adviser to Ariel's father. At the age of 16, she unexpectedly becomes deeply infatuated with a young and handsome human prince named Eric and sacrifices all things dear to her for the chance of being with her one true love.
Walt Disney himself and artist Kay Nielsen began work on the story of The Little Mermaid in the 1930s and early 40s. The feature was to be a very faithful adaption to Hans Christian Andersen's tale with the Mermaid dying and turning into sea foam in the end. However, after writing the script and illustrating the storyboard, the project was shelved to focus on other projects also in the works such as Dumbo, Bambi, and Fantasia. There have been alternate statements, however, that indicated that Disney may have intended to go for the happy ending route.
In the mid-1980s, the project was finally reopened, yet Disney decided to disregard the dark and grimy aspects of Andersen's story and make the film a more child-friendly version with a much happier ending which worked better for the company's brand. However, the development team indicated that the changes given for the film coincidentally matched up with the changes Walt Disney made during his attempted take on the film. During development, the studio officially gave their Little Mermaid the aquatic-like name of "Ariel".
Ariel's original design was developed by animator Glen Keane, who had reportedly said in an animation lecture that she was based on his own wife. Her appearance was also based on model Sherri Stoner, who provided live-action references for the animators during the development of the film and also inspired the look for Belle. A challenge in animating her for the film was the color required to show her in the changing environments, both under the sea and on land, for which the animators required 32-color models, not including costume changes. The sea-green color of her mermaid tail was a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab; the color was named "Ariel" after the character. She has been compared to past Disney heroines from Walt Disney's lifetime, but is more physically similar to Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Belle from Beauty and the Beast, as they all have big eyes, a broad forehead, and a small mouth and chin.
Jodi Benson, who was predominantly a stage actress when she was cast, was chosen to voice Ariel because the directors felt "it was really important to have the same person doing the singing and speaking voice." Co-director Ron Clements remarked that her voice had "sweetness" and "youthfulness" that was unique. When recording the vocals for Ariel's theme song "Part of Your World", she consented to Howard Ashman's suggestion that the lights in the studio be dimmed, to "feel a bit more enclosed" and create the feeling of being deep under the sea. She was also encouraged to soften her singing voice almost to the point of speaking so that the song would feel more intimate. Benson has remained as the main voice of Ariel since.
Voice actress Melissa Fahn auditioned for the role and was called back many times, but was turned down because she sounded slightly too young.
Ariel is a bright, spirited, and headstrong mermaid princess with a strong passion for adventure and exploration. Her tendency to explore the more mysterious depths of the ocean (or more importantly, the world beyond the ocean) can lead to an array of problems to both herself and her friends, and in the confines of her personal life - as seen when she gets into an argument with her overprotective father, King Triton. Despite this, Ariel's selflessness, compassion, and intuitive way of thinking often resolve such problems, as she always takes full responsibility for her actions.
At the start of the original film, Ariel is shown to have a burning obsession with the human world and a desire to learn more about their culture. Unlike her father at first, she views humans as aspiring creatures, astonished by their ability to constantly create, and heavily goes against the idea of them being "barbaric" and selfish as a result of this. This passion is revealed to have been prominent throughout Ariel's life years before the events of the film, as seen in the television series. By the point of the film, as seen through her lament, "Part of Your World", Ariel's obsession with the human world has reached unimaginable heights, as she spends most of her time focusing on finding, observing, and collecting various human objects that have sunk into the sea. Her obsession has also taken a toll on her emotionally, as the song begins with a sense of wonder and enchantment, ultimately climaxing in a soft end, filled with hopelessness and despair, representing Ariel's dying hopes of ever experiencing life upon the surface. These factors of desperation and despair are the prime motive behind Ariel's eventual deal with the sea witch, Ursula, to become human and experience the world above the surface. Despite not having the best relationship with her father, especially in regard to their respective views on humanity, she nonetheless was very loyal to him as well as her sisters, as after Ursula explained the deal to her, Ariel expressed some hesitance as she realized that if she succeeded in the deal (never mind if she failed her end of the bargain) she wouldn't be able to see Triton or her sisters again, and later when Ursula cursed Triton, Ariel's first action was to attack Ursula to avenge him, even calling the sea witch a monster for what she did.
Ariel is extremely compassionate and loving towards almost all living things; more so platonically than romantically. This is most notably seen through her friendship with her closest companion, Flounder, and even her father's court composer, Sebastian, who, despite being against Ariel's recklessness and overly adventurous nature, is given a considerably large amount of love and respect from the princess, which is often reciprocated. With Flounder, she is comforting and patient, as well as protective, with the tendency to risk her own life for the guppies on various occasions. Her ability to befriend all various creatures, which be an abandoned killer whale, an irrationally feared sea creature. and even the son of one of her nemesis are displayed throughout the franchise. Before she met Eric, she was rarely interested in romantic relationships, not even with any of the merman princes that Triton tried to get her to marry. The only known exception was Prince Waverly of the Pacifica Kingdom, with whom she was infatuated. However, after meeting Eric, Ariel is revealed to be a romantic, willing to make daring sacrifices for the sake of true love. Her love for him is validated by Eric's returned selflessness and sacrificial actions for the sake of love; notably seen during the climax of the film.
Like Ariel's father, Triton, she has a bad temper if she ever is provoked, although her temper is not as short as his. Although spirited, even she has had some degree of self-doubts about herself, as she actually at one point considered her father might have been correct and that she may have been a freak for having any fascination for humanity. She also had a degree of seeing the good in things, as she also doubted that humans could have been pure evil from their tools and artworks.
Also, despite her usual naivety and impulsiveness, Ariel has shown to be serious, careful, and very intuitive on many occasions. One example of her occasionally showing intuitiveness was just before exploring the sunken ship, where she suggested that Flounder stay outside and be on the lookout for sharks in the area when the latter tried to fake illness.
In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, as an adult, Ariel has matured into a sophisticated and distinguished woman; fully embracing her responsibilities as a mother and the princess consort of Eric's kingdom and fully adapting to her human body that she has had for some time now thanks to her father's magic. However, when Morgana threatens Melody at her christening, Ariel becomes overprotective of her daughter similarly to how she was treated by Triton in the first film. As a result, she severs all ties with Atlantica and the ocean in hopes of preventing Morgana from using Melody's heritage to her advantage. Despite being happy with her new life as a human mother and wife, she misses her father and sisters, but keeps this hidden from Melody for the latter's own safety. Later, she comes to realize that this decision does more harm than good.
However, at one point, Ariel subtly alludes to her true heritage, as she mentioned to Melody when sympathizing with her about not fitting in that she was "a fish out of water", with Melody not quite believing her.
Regardless of Ariel's few flaws, she is very much selfless, sweet-natured, and inspirational. However, her most notable trait was her deep love and fascination for humans, having desired to become human during the first film's events, even before meeting her future husband, Eric. However, she did not always have this trait; until she was 15 years old, she expressed a deep fear of humans similar to Triton's prejudice towards humans, although her witnessing a human saving a beached dolphin changed her views on the matter. Ironically, the human responsible for saving the dolphin was Eric, although she never knew it.
Ariel is a beautiful adolescent mermaid with an hourglass figure, fair skin, red lips, and large, aqua blue eyes. In stark contrast to the three previous Disney Princesses created before her, Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora, who were drawn with smaller eyes and smaller heads in proportion to their bodies similar to adult women, Ariel is drawn with somewhat semi-neotenous features, with larger eyes and with a head more similar to a child's than an adult's in proportion to her body, giving her an appearance of youth rather than maturity. This suggests the combination of youthful innocence and physical maturity which Ariel represented; for example, it eventually became the design basis of most Disney Princesses created after her in recent years; such as Jasmine, Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa, and Moana.
From childhood to her teenage years, she wore a lavender seashell bikini top. As a child, her lips were the same color as her skin, and as a teenager, they are bright red. Ariel's most defining feature is her long, flowing, thick, bright red hair. From the waist down, she has a green horizontal fish-like tail with sea-green scales and sea-foam green fins and a matching V-shaped waist-line resembling fish-lips that reveals her midriff and her belly button. She most likely has the reproductive organs of a cetacean. In Little Mermaid's Island, her seashell top looks more like a strapless top that covers all of her torso. She is also fairly tall in human form, being only a few inches shorter than Eric, himself a fairly tall human.
When Ariel becomes a human, the only article of clothing she wore was her seashell bikini top, leftover from her mermaid form. She eventually wears an old sail from a shipwreck with some rope to keep it closed, fashioned by her friend Scuttle. Being prepared for dinner, she wears a pink-and-white gown, silver barrettes in her hair, and pearl white earrings. Getting ready for bedtime, she wears a pink nightgown. After being taken in by Prince Eric, she wears a multi-shade-of-blue dress consisting of a powder-blue blouse with long sleeves, a midnight-blue bodice, and a cobalt-blue foot-length skirt, along with black heels. She wears a big royal blue bow in her hair. After she's turned into a human once again, she wears a periwinkle, glittering dress. After she kisses Eric and during their wedding, she wears a white wedding dress with pale green trimming, big puffy sleeves, and a sparkling golden tiara on her veil.
During and after her daughter Melody's christening, she wears a gold-and-white dress, and has her hair in a low ponytail decorated with a white bow. She also wears a periwinkle gown with an up-do decorated with a golden tiara with green and white gems on her necklace and earrings during Melody's 12th birthday party with her hair being a bit shorter due to it being adjusted and pulled in a bun. She still wears the same up-do with a green peasant dress when she's on Eric's ship and a blue-and-white dress with light blue earrings in the song "Here on the Land and Sea" in the second movie. In one of the video games, she wears an aqua-colored gown with a matching flower on the side of her hair.
Powers and abilities
- Aquapathy: As a mermaid, Ariel is capable of speaking with aquatic fauna; as she can understand and communicate with aquatic/marine creatures. She retains this ability; even in her human form.
- Magic: In the episode "T'ank You For Dat, Ariel", Ariel briefly became a sea witch and learned how to use magic; she used her new-found talents to grant Sebastian's wish of being bigger, but unfortunately, it continuously worked, making him continue to grow to the point where he surfaced while standing, and it was fueled by the light of the full moon. She lost her magic and status as a sea witch when she wished the whole entire mess never happened, and her magic did just that, erasing the entire event and influencing her so it wouldn't happen in the reset timeline.
- Speed Swimming: As a mermaid, Ariel was capable of swimming much faster than normal humans and even certain aquatic/marine creatures in terms of undersea travel or sea travel; for example, she was able to get to Atlantica from Prince Eric's kingdom in less than a day, as well as getting from Atlantica to Norway in the episode "Metal Fish", in a similar time fashion. She does not retain this ability while she is in her human form.
- Underwater Breathing: As a mermaid, Ariel is able to metabolize oxygen from the water, which negates the need to surface; although she is certainly more than capable of breathing on land. She does not retain this ability while she is in her human form.
- Adaptability: As demonstrated in the first film, Ariel is capable of mastering almost any skills or gaining knowledge very quickly; for example, after becoming human via Ursula's magic potion, she was able to learn how to stand up in a few minutes, if not a few seconds and move in the same time span, as Ariel quickly figured out how to run, after Max had unintentionally frightened her, after he had alerting her to his present; as she tried in a failed attempt to get away from the sheepdog, as well as quickly learning about the human customs. Ariel can also master other skills at a much faster pace, that would take normal humans months or even years to learn; skills such as dancing, horse riding, etc., as it has only taken her a few minutes, if not a few seconds to learn.
- Singing: As demonstrated in the films and the TV series, Ariel is an excellent singer, which is a talent shared by all merpeople. According to Sebastian; she has the most beautiful voice in all of Atlantica; her voice is so beautiful, that even Eric had fallen in love with Ariel after only hearing her sing to him once, when she drew him to consciousness with her incredible voice after rescuing him from drowning at sea.
- Dancing: As demonstrated in the first film, the TV series and the prequel film, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Ariel is an excellent dancer, which is a talent shared by most merpeople; after becoming human via Ursula's magic potion, she was able to dance with Eric with admirable skill as if she had been a human for years, this is partly; due to her rapid adaptability. In Ariel's mermaid form, she can dance in a fashion similar.
- Expert Swimmer: As a mermaid, Ariel is an excellent swimmer, as demonstrated in the films, the TV series, and the prequel film, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning. However, as demonstrated in the first film, Ariel as a human (initially) was not very good at swimming. When Ariel became human; due to her inability to breathe underwater or swim without her tail that she was accustomed to, Flounder and Sebastian were forced to help her get to the surface; otherwise, she would have drowned. However, by the time of the events of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ariel has regained her swimming skills; as demonstrated at the ending of the second film.
- Expert Animal Rider: As demonstrated in the first film and the TV series, Ariel is an excellent animal rider, as she can ride giant seahorses (the equivalent of horses); such as Stormy and Seabiscuit, as well as command the reigns of a carriage controlled by Triton's dolphins relatively easily. In Ariel's human form, she is able to ride horses in a similar fashion; for example, when Eric took her out on a tour of his kingdom, he attempted to teach her how to ride a carriage controlled by his horse, initially, she lost control of the horse, as it turned into a wild ride' to the point where Eric; a brave and daring adventurer in his own right became terrified, however, she soon gained control of the horse, this is partly; due to her rapid adaptability; to the point that Eric became relaxed again. In the storybook of The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Baby Beau, sometime after Ariel's marriage to Eric, the latter gave her a foal (a baby horse) as a gift, who she named Beau, and once Beau grew into a mature stallion, she began to ride him very often, with skill and enthusiasm in a fashion similar to her riding giant seahorses.
- Expert Musician: As demonstrated in the TV series, and the prequel film, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Ariel is an excellent musician; as she is capable of playing a guitar, a piano, bongo drums, and the harp respectively with admirable skill. However, as seen in the episode "Calliope Dreams", the only musical instrument that she is not proficient at is the sea calliope (the equivalent of the organ) even when Sebastian tries his best to teach her how to play the calliope, Ariel's skills with the calliope did not improve at all. Her lack of skill with this musical instrument is in fact so bad, that it not only woke up the Seaclops, but it also annoyed the sea monster to the point that it tried to annihilate Ariel.
At the beginning of the film, Ariel, and her fish friend, Flounder swim through a shipwreck where they salvage human items. During their adventure, they are chased out of the sunken ship by a shark, but Ariel manages to outwit him. After escaping him, Ariel and Flounder swim up to the surface, where they speak to Scuttle to identify human objects. He misidentifies a fork as a "dinglehopper" used to straighten their hair and a pipe as a "snarfblatt" used to make music. The identification of the latter reminds her of the concert she was supposed to be a part of. Ariel hurries home to Triton and Sebastian, who both rebuke her for missing the concert. Hearing from Flounder about her encounter with a seagull, Triton reprimands Ariel for swimming up to the surface and demands that she never does so again, driving Ariel to tearfully swim off to her secret grotto.
There, Ariel's collection of human objects is kept, hidden away from the other merpeople. She feels that collecting them isn't enough and gets more curious about the human world, even expressing her desire to actually live in it. As Sebastian tries to talk Ariel out of her obsession, the mermaid spots a ship passing above. Curious, she quickly swims up to the surface and towards it. Among the humans aboard, Ariel's attention is drawn to a male human named Eric. Just then, a storm moves in and destroys the ship. Ariel looks around for Eric and finds him floating unconscious in the sea. She saves him from drowning and takes his body to shore, where Eric starts to breathe again. Ariel sings to Eric as he steadily regains his consciousness. Eric's manservant, Grimsby, suddenly arrives in search for the prince, though he fails to notice Ariel. As Eric is taken into care, Ariel watches on, even more determined to accomplish her dreams of living alongside humanity.
Back at Atlantica, Ariel's sisters hear her humming dreamily, causing them to realize she has fallen in love. Ariel comes up with a plan to somehow see Eric again, but Sebastian tries to talk her out of it, telling her how life under the sea is better than the world up above through the song "Under the Sea". Flounder arrives and takes Ariel away to show her a surprise at her grotto, the statue of Prince Eric that he somehow salvaged from the wrecked ship. Unfortunately, King Triton soon appears, having learned from Sebastian that Ariel had rescued a human from drowning and he berates her for breaking his rules of association with humans, though Ariel replies that Eric would have died if she hadn't saved him and he shouldn't be so quick to judge him. After Triton once again lectures Ariel on how bad humans are, she declares that she loves Eric and doesn't care if they are different species. Shocked and enraged at this display of blasphemy from his youngest daughter, Triton loses his temper and, in a blind rage, proceeds to destroy all the human objects in the grotto with his trident, including the statue of Eric. Devastated, Ariel breaks down in tears, and an ashamed Triton leaves while regretting what he has done. Sebastian, who has accompanied him, tries to console Ariel, only for her to tell him to leave her alone.
After Sebastian and Flounder exit, Flotsam and Jetsam appear to convince Ariel to see their mistress, Ursula, who may have the power to make her dream come true. She, after initially attempting to refuse, reluctantly follows them to Ursula's Lair, while Sebastian and Flounder follow her. At the fortress, Ursula - who knows that Ariel is in love with a human through spying on her via Flotsam and Jetsam - makes a proposition: in exchange for her voice, Ariel will become a human for three days, during which she must get a kiss of true love from Eric before the sun sets on the third day. Should she succeed, she will remain human permanently; should she fail, she will turn back into a mermaid and will belong to Ursula forever. A desperate Ariel accepts the deal and signs a contract conjured by Ursula. Her voice is then sealed into a seashell on Ursula's necklace. Ariel is then turned into a human and is helped to the surface by Flounder and Sebastian due to her now having the inability to swim and breathe in water.
At the shore, Sebastian goes into a nervous panic over the predicament and begins to trot home to seek help from the king. Ariel pleads for Sebastian to stay, giving him the most pleading look she can muster without her voice to talk him out of it, and out of sympathy, he agrees. Scuttle provides some "clothing" for Ariel in the meantime in the form of an old sail and rigging rope, just as they are discovered by Eric's dog, Max, who leads his master to them. Eric faintly recognizes Ariel, but doesn't believe her to be the girl who rescued him from the shipwreck, due to her inability to speak. Nevertheless, he takes her to his castle, where Ariel is given a bath and proper clothing. At dinner, Ariel notices a fork and uses it to comb her hair, leaving Eric and his servants dumbfounded. Ariel then notices Grimsby's pipe and tries to use it as a musical instrument, covering Grimsby with soot. Despite Ariel's initial embarrassment, Eric finds her antics funny. Carlotta even notes that this is the first time Eric has smiled in quite some time, much to Ariel's delight. Eric then invites Ariel on a tour of the kingdom, which she accepts.
During their outing, Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle anxiously watch on, awaiting the kiss. Ariel is more preoccupied with taking in the atmosphere of the human world; she even learns how to dance and ride a carriage. That evening, she and Eric go out for a boat ride in a lagoon. In hopes of initiating a kiss, Scuttle tries to provide some "romantic stimulation". However, his terrible squawking (mistaken for singing) prompts Sebastian to lead some animals of the lagoon to create a more fitting mood with his song "Kiss the Girl". Sebastian's plan seems to have a positive effect on Ariel and Eric, as they steadily draw closer to each other. Before they can kiss, however, Flotsam and Jetsam purposely tip the boat over by order of Ursula (who's been watching Ariel and Eric's development from her fortress). This ruins the moment, thus ending Ariel and Eric's date.
The next day (which is the third and last of Ariel's human days), Scuttle delivers the news that Eric is getting hitched. Believing herself to be the girl in question, Ariel excitedly runs downstairs, only to see Eric with a dark-haired girl named Vanessa, whom he intends to marry. Devastated, Ariel breaks down in tears and runs off. As the wedding ship departs with Eric aboard, Ariel is left at the port to mourn her losses as Sebastian and Flounder do the same. Meanwhile, Scuttle discovers that Vanessa is actually Ursula in disguise and flies back to warn Ariel. Determined to save both herself and Eric, Ariel swims to the wedding ship with help from Flounder, while Sebastian returns to Atlantica to receive help from King Triton. Scuttle, meanwhile, rallies the lagoon animals to stall the wedding by assaulting Vanessa. Eventually, Ursula's necklace is destroyed, releasing Ariel's voice and freeing Eric from his trance. The two embrace each other as Eric finally realizes that Ariel is the girl who rescued him all along. Before they can kiss, however, the sun sets, and Ariel turns back into a mermaid.
Vanessa transforms back into Ursula, takes Ariel as her prisoner, and dives back into the sea with her. As Ursula thinks of her next move, Triton, having been alerted by Sebastian, confronts and orders her to release Ariel, to which she refuses. Ariel apologizes to Triton as he attempts to destroy Ursula's contract, to no avail. Ursula proceeds to wither the princess and turn her into a polyp like all her other victims, proclaiming the contract to be legal, binding, and completely unbreakable, but offers her freedom should Triton be willing to take her place. Triton accepts and overwrites Ariel's signature on the contract with his own, and though Ariel is released, she is forced to watch as her father is withered and transformed into a polyp faster than when Ursula tried to do it to her, having sadistically slowed the transformation on Ariel to torture Triton into surrendering himself to save his daughter. Ursula then takes his crown and trident, becoming queen of the seas. Finally, Ariel realizes that she had manipulated her into obtaining her father's power, and furiously tries to fight her off, but is no match for the empowered sea witch. Eric intervenes to help her, striking Ursula with a harpoon. She prepares to destroy him with the trident, but Ariel pulls on her hair just as it shoots, causing the shot to miss Eric and hit Flotsam and Jetsam instead, killing them.
After Ursula briefly mourns her pets' loss, she enlarges herself as an even eviler, nastier, monstrous version of herself. Ariel and Eric try to escape, but then face a towering, gigantic Ursula. She declares herself as ruler of the ocean who has the power to control the waves and creates a rainstorm and whirlpool. Ariel is separated from Eric, and Ursula causes her to become trapped at the bottom of the whirlpool. She aims the trident at Ariel and fires bolts of pure destruction, who barely manages to avoid her painful destruction each time. Finally, just as Ursula prepares to use the trident to vaporize her with an unavoidable blast and taunting that she will never get to be with Eric, he plunges the splintered bow of one of the shipwrecks (that have surfaced as a result of the whirlpool) through her abdomen, killing her and saving Ariel just in the nick of time.
With Ursula defeated, her spells upon the unfortunate merpeople who made deals with her and failed to uphold them are broken, including the spell cast upon Triton, who transforms back into a merman. Eric manages to swim to shore at the surface, breaking down out of exhaustion as a saddened Ariel watches on from a nearby rock. Triton and Sebastian look on from a distance, the former finally softening up toward humans upon realizing Eric risked his own life to save Ariel. Knowing the love between them is pure and true, and despite their differences as species, Triton uses the power of the trident to permanently transform Ariel into a human, granting his daughter her wish and allowing her to be with the one she loves, at long last. After the transformation, she walks up to the shore, where she is happily reunited with Eric as he embraces her, and they share their first kiss. Soon, they have their wedding on the wedding ship attended by his loyal subjects on-board and her family and friends in the sea around the ship. She silently bids farewell to Scuttle and Flounder and gives Triton a heartwarming hug before happily sailing away with Eric. Triton then casts a beautiful rainbow over the sky to wish the couple well as they start their new future together. Due to Ariel's courage and earlier sacrifices, Triton understands that not all humans are bad and accepts Eric, her new husband, as his new son-in-law.
The prequel series, which had debuted in 1992, takes place during an indeterminate time chronologically before the 1989 film and revolves around Ariel's adventures as a 15 to 16-year-old mermaid living under the sea. Most of her adventures involve her meeting various creatures, getting into trouble and usually getting out of it successfully. Her friends, Flounder and Sebastian, are also featured prominently. She is also shown to have a friend named Urchin, an orphaned merboy. It also has her meeting Hans Christian Andersen, which also hints at both her possible birth year (i.e. during his lifetime, yet at least 16 years before the writing of The Little Mermaid, which, in a manner of speaking, makes him her creator) and the possible chronological events of the series, due to her being a direct influence on the creation of the story. She also gets along well with Sebastian's young Crab Scouts, as she is shown cradling one of them when they're tired in "Tail of Two Crabs".
Ariel continues to be fascinated with human objects in the series and is shown collecting them for her grotto; she gives them strange names such as calling an ordinary telescope a "thingamabob". Many episodes show her working to foil enemies who would do harm to Atlantica. Eric is sometimes shown, but she always just misses seeing him, preserving the continuity that she sees him first in the 1989 film.
In this 2000 direct-to-video sequel, Ariel serves as the deuteragonist. It is shown that she has given birth to a daughter named Melody (the new protagonist) prior to the start of the film. When we first see her playing with the beautiful newborn Melody, many toys of Flounder, Sebastian and other fish can be seen in the room, showing that she misses her old friends and family with how long she's been human thanks to Triton and living happily with Eric. When Melody's safety is threatened by a sea witch named Morgana (Ursula's younger sister), seeking revenge for her sister's demise, Ariel and Eric decide they must keep Melody away from the sea, and to this effect, they build a large wall separating the castle from it. It remains like this for Melody's first twelve years of her life, until her 12th birthday. Ariel also leaves the locket Triton gave Melody on her christening day with him to have released into the ocean to sink to where it would never be found, while also knowing that this may be the last time she would see her father while he sent out his royal guards to hunt down Morgana and bring her to justice.
As a consequence, this also meant Ariel couldn't visit her ancestral home, making her miss Triton and her sisters deeply, but only when alone so Melody doesn't learn the truth of her mermaid heritage. Melody's love of the sea proves too strong, however, especially after finding her locket while out swimming beyond the sea wall and confronting her mother over it after Sebastian ends up ruining her birthday party, humiliating her, and when she falls into Morgana's clutches, Ariel is forced to temporarily resume her mermaid form in order to rescue and save Melody from Morgana's scheme, with Triton using his trident to revert the spell that turned Ariel human originally, returning her to her old mermaid body so she could return home to Atlantica after so long.
In this time, Ariel briefly returns to her grotto as seen in the first film, and studies the objects, (which we are left to presume survived Triton's anger in the first film) and keeps looking for Melody. This features Ariel becoming an overprotective parent for Melody, effectively taking over the role of Triton in the first film. She apologizes to Melody by the end of the film for her overprotectiveness as she realizes it was for the best that Melody now knew about her true heritage.
Ariel is the first and only Disney Princess to date to become a mother.
Ariel appears as a regular guest in the animated television series House of Mouse and its specials, usually sitting with Sebastian and Scuttle and sometimes with Eric or Triton. Her appearance alternates irregularly between her human form and mermaid form (even at the same time in a few episodes), depending on what the situation requires. Daisy Duck seems to be a big fan of her and her films, as shown in "Daisy's Debut" and "House of Genius". In the show's opening song, she is seen combing her hair with a fork, like in the original film.
In a clip recycled for many episodes, she is seen sitting at a table with Scuttle and Sebastian and her and Scuttle clap starting with "The Three Caballeros". In "Gone Goofy", she appears next to Prince Eric near the end.
In "Timon and Pumbaa", Scuttle perches on Ariel's head telling that Timon is gonna lose something.
In the episode "Jiminy Cricket", while Jiminy Cricket is sharing his wisdom, he states, "Never sell your voice to a giant sea witch just because you have a crush on some guy, it's just not worth it". Ariel sits there looking embarrassed and ashamed, and upon hearing this, she snatches the necklace containing her voice away from Ursula, much to her anger.
In "The Mouse Who Came to Dinner", Ariel is sitting next to Sebastian before Goofy takes him to cook for Mortimer, who was pretending to be a critic. She is later seen laughing with the rest of the audience after the crew calls him out and insults him.
Also in "Everybody Loves Mickey", Ariel wishes that Mickey could visit her under the sea.
In "Suddenly Hades", Pete attempted to flood the club to run out the customers, as he could shut down the club if there were no guests. Though he succeeded in flooding the club, he was stopped from closing the club as Ariel was still present, having returned after Hades bugged out in annoyance from the flooding.
In "House of Scrooge", Ariel was one of many Disney characters shoved at one table as Scrooge was trying to save money.
In "Ask Von Drake", Ariel is seen in Professor Von Drake's song, sitting next to a giant seashell where Ursula is hiding.
In "Salute to Sports", Ariel is sitting next to Triton when he creates a literal wave after Mickey told the crowd to do the "wave".
In "Pluto vs. Figaro", Ariel tried to sing on stage, although the set ended up falling on top of her due to Pluto and Figaro's antics.
Ariel was also briefly seen in "Pete's House of Villains" where she held up a sign that read "Somebody stole my voice again" since she lost her voice.
Ariel also appears in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. In the film, Ariel, along with Eric and other characters, are snowed in and trapped inside the club. Ariel is the first to openly have faith in Mickey Mouse, who she believes will have a plan.
Years before the events of the original film, Ariel, and her sisters enjoy a music-filled life in Atlantica, with Triton and their mother, Queen Athena. The merpeople are shown relaxing in a lagoon above water, and Triton gives Athena a music box. Suddenly, a big pirate ship approaches. Everyone escapes except Athena, who is crushed by it when she tries to save the music box and the pirates lose control and run it aground, breaking the keel and sinking it. Devastated by her death, Triton throws it into the ocean and bans music from the kingdom.
Ten years later, Ariel and her sisters live under a strict routine maintained by their governess Marina Del Rey and her assistant, Benjamin. Marina hates being the girls' governess and longs to be Triton's attaché, a job currently filled by Sebastian. Ariel is frustrated by their current lifestyle, which brings her into conflict with her father. One day, Ariel encounters Flounder, whom she later follows to an underground music club. She is overjoyed by the presence of music and is shocked when she sees Sebastian performing there. When her presence is revealed, the entire band stops playing and hides, believing Ariel will tell her father about them. Ariel sings a song explaining her love of music and the remembrance of her mother, and she joins the club with an oath.
Ariel returns to the palace, and the sisters confront her over her disappearance. She explains where she was, and the following night all seven girls go to the club to have fun. Marina secretly finds them, and she later reports their activities to Triton. Sebastian, Flounder, and the band are sent to jail while Marina gets the job she wants.
Triton confines his daughters to the palace, which results in Ariel asking him why music isn't allowed. Triton refuses to answer and shouts that he won't have music in his kingdom. Distraught, Ariel confronts Triton and says that Athena wouldn't have wanted music to be forbidden and angrily swims to the girls' bedroom, her saddened sisters soon following, while Marina, who is not the girls' governess anymore, is now Triton's new attaché. That night, she decides to leave Atlantica and frees the jailbirds. Sebastian leads them to a deserted place far from the palace where Ariel finds Athena's music box, as Sebastian hoped. Ariel and Sebastian decide to return to Atlantica to bring the music box to Triton, hoping that it will change his mind, as he has forgotten how to be happy after Athena's death.
On the way back, Marina and her electric eels confront Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian. Before music is restored back into the kingdom, the final battle begins when Marina bans Ariel from going back to Atlantica. Marina wants to stop them, so she will retain her position of "power", and a struggle ensues. It ends when Marina barrels towards Sebastian, but Ariel pushes him away, getting hit in the process. Triton arrives in time to witness this, and he is remorseful for his actions. He sings the lyrics of "Athena's Song", and Ariel wakes up. The film ends with Triton restoring music to Atlantica and appointing Sebastian as the new court composer, much to everyone's glee with Ariel and Flounder. Everyone, including Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder, and six older sisters, rejoices except Marina, who has been sent to prison.
In the original concept for Ariel's Beginning, then known as The Little Mermaid III, Ariel, alongside Sebastian, were supposed to accompany Eric and Melody in locating a white whale.
Ariel appeared in the special "The Floating Palace". She was the first princess to be seen twice in an episode, and the fourth princess to appear in the series, overall.
Ariel is summoned to help Sofia with her trouble of saving her mermaid friend and her family's ship in danger and sings "The Love We Share" to encourage Sofia to enlist Cora to help her save Oona. She is later seen at the end of the special by the floating palace jumping into the water.
In "Forever Royal" when Sofia is battling Vor inside her amulet, Ariel appears to Sofia in spirit form along with all the other princesses who have been summoned to help Sofia in her times of need, and they encourage her to be brave and strong for they all believe in her.
- “Of all the thingamabobs of this entire World, I never thought I'd get to wear a real... What's it called again? Oh, yeah... shirt! [singing] I once, had a dream that I might wear a shirt-”
- ―Ariel in her comfy attire
In Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ariel appears as a netizen resident of Oh My Disney. She and the other Disney princesses work as cast members that meet-and-greet net users. When Vanellope von Schweetz is confronted by First Order Stormtroopers, she glitches into the princesses' backstage room; Ariel is seen combing her hair with a dinglehopper at her vanity. The princesses mistake Vanellope for a threat, and charge at her with various weapons at hand; Ariel wields a dinglehopper. Vanellope explains that she's actually a princess, as well, prompting Pocahontas to ask what kind of princess she is. Ariel questions if Vanellope made a deal with an underwater sea witch in exchange for human legs, but to Ariel's relief, Vanellope denies. When Jasmine asks if Vanellope has "daddy issues", she notes that she doesn't even have a mom, to which Ariel relates.
Shortly after, Ariel and Cinderella take a liking to Vanellope's casual modern attire. As the other princesses take an interest, Ariel excitedly declares she also wants an outfit like Vanellope's. After Cinderella asks her mice to craft comfy modern outfits for each of the princesses, Ariel dons green shorts and a lavender shirt which reference the colors of her mermaid form and is seen lounging between Jasmine and Belle; unlike the majority of Disney Princesses, she is seen the whole time being barefoot when in modern clothes (another exception is Moana). Ariel is overwhelmingly delighted to finally have a shirt and expresses through song that she's always dreamed of someday wearing one before Vanellope cuts her off. Vanellope questions Ariel's singing, but the other princesses explain that they've all had songs that help them express their desires. They encourage Vanellope to find her song, but the results are not very impressive. Pocahontas advises Vanellope to find some water and stare at it. Though Vanellope isn't convinced, Ariel reaffirms that it's not merely water, but "important water".
During the climax of the film, Ariel and the Disney princesses spot Wreck-It Ralph falling to his doom. They rally together to rescue him. Moana summons the ocean, which Ariel dives into. She then swims upward, creating a spiral with the water. When Ariel emerges, she lands on Jasmine's magic carpet, from where Elsa freezes the water while in its spiral formation, creating a slide for Ralph to safely descend. After Ralph is safe, the princesses formally introduce themselves as friends of Vanellope as they befriend him as well.
"Ariel" made a cameo during in The Return of Jafar. Genie makes himself look like Ariel and appears on the top of the treasure ship of Coeur du Mer to take Jafar's Lamp and hide it from Abis Mal and Jafar.
In A Goofy Movie, Ariel is seen twice: once as a prop in Max's school auditorium and also a lamp in Goofy and Max's hotel room with her iconic colors.
In the TV series Aladdin, Saleen at one point gave Jasmine a hairstyle resembling that of Ariel's, although she then complained that it makes Jasmine looked like "every other Princess under the sea." In the same episode, Saleen also indirectly alludes to Ariel's goal with her line "Legs? Who needs them?"
In a special trailer promoting the film Lilo & Stitch, Ariel was seen performing the reprise of "Part of Your World", when Stitch surfs a giant wave towards her, ruining the song. In anger, Ariel throws a starfish at Stitch, exclaiming "I was singing here!". Jodi Benson reprises her role in this teaser and some new animation is used.
Ariel appears on the cover of a Little Mermaid book in the village scene in Tangled.
Ariel is a recurring character on the hit show Once Upon a Time. She is portrayed by JoAnna Garcia.
In her debut episode, she saves Snow White from drowning after Snow jumps off a cliff to avoid the Evil Queen Regina's guards. Ariel tells Snow that once a year a mermaid can walk on land, though only for the twelve hours between high tides. She then tells Snow she saved Eric (played by Gil McKinney) a year before and has been in love with him ever since. Snow, knowing what love, at first sight, is like, understands the mermaid and convinces her to go to Eric's ball. At the ball, he is immediately drawn to Ariel and asks her to dance with him. While they dance he tells Ariel that he will be leaving the next morning on an adventure to see the world and asks Ariel to go with him. Ariel relays this information back to Snow, who tells Ariel to be honest with the prince. However, Ariel is reluctant as she does not want to be rejected by the prince by telling him she is a mermaid. Ariel is later seen at the seashore asking the Sea Goddess Ursula for guidance. After she seems to have given up, Ursula appears in front of Ariel.
However, this is not the true Ursula; this is Queen Regina in disguise. Regina gives Ariel a magical bracelet that will trade her tail to whomever she gives it to. Ariel gives the bracelet to Snow White, thinking that if Snow is a mermaid, she could escape into the sea and be free from the Queen. Regina then appears and reveals her deception. The Queen gives Ariel an ultimatum: either go and find her prince and let the Queen kill Snow White, or die along with her. Ariel, not willing to let her friend die, attacks the Queen with a fork, distracting her long enough for Ariel and Snow to get away. After Ariel and Snow have escaped to a nearby beach, Snow tells Ariel to go back to the Prince and tell him the truth. Ariel happily listens to Snow and returns to the dock by Eric's palace as she is about to yell Eric's name her voice vanishes. Regina appears on the dock and reveals that she took Ariel's voice so that she could never tell Eric how she felt, as vengeance for the mermaid's siding with Snow White against her. In tears, a muted Ariel heads back to the sea.
Twenty-eight years later in Neverland, Regina, working with Rumplestiltskin, returns Ariel's voice in exchange for her help. Ariel agrees to return to Storybrooke and retrieve a weapon from Rumplestiltskin's shop that will be strong enough to stop Peter Pan. If the mission succeeds, the Queen promises to make Ariel human permanently and be with Eric.
Ariel's next appearance in Once Upon a Time is titled "Dark Hollow". This episode immediately picks up after the events of "Ariel". Gold shows Ariel how to get to Storybrooke and tells her to find Belle and give her a sand dollar with a message from him. Though Regina chooses not to tell Ariel where to find Eric, she does warn her that she only has one hour. When Ariel arrives in Storybrooke, she meets with Grumpy, who takes her to Belle.
After learning that Ariel was sent by Rumplestiltskin, Belle takes her to Gold's shop, where Belle deciphers Gold's coded message and retrieves the item of which he requires: Pandora's Box. However, before they can do anything, they are ambushed by John and Michael Darling, who is now working for Peter Pan. John and Michael the two of them up and take the item to destroy it. In order to get out of the ropes, Belle removes Ariel's bracelet, which allows Ariel to wiggle free from the ropes and undo Belle's bindings. Ariel then puts the bracelet back on and goes after John and Michael.
Belle and Ariel find John and Michael just before they destroy the box. Belle is able to stop them by activating a mine cart on the tracks, which throws Michael and John off their feet. Using the time to her advantage, she grabs the box and kicks their gun away. John and Michael reveal that the only reason they are working for Pan is that he has been holding their sister Wendy hostage. Belle manages to convince them, however, that if they help her, the ones in Neverland will be able to use Pandora's box to defeat Pan.
Ariel returns to Neverland and gives Pandora's box to Gold. As a reward, Regina enchants the bracelet, so that Ariel can become a human whenever she wishes. Before Ariel departs, she tells Regina and Gold about Wendy's situation. Regina exhibits no concern about Wendy since she only cares about Henry. However, Ariel manages to convince her and Gold to do what they can to help Wendy. Upon returning to Storybrooke, Ariel finds Eric working as a fisherman. The two of them are then reunited and reconcile.
After the fairy-tale characters are sent back to the Enchanted Forest, Eric is captured by the pirate Blackbeard. Ariel, however, believes that Captain Hook was responsible and tracks him down. Upon learning that Blackbeard also has his ship, Ariel and Hook agree to work together. In order to take his ship back, Hook throws Blackbeard over the edge without learning where Eric is. Ariel is forced to rescue Blackbeard so that she can rescue Eric. She eventually relocates with Eric to Hangman's Island.
The guilt Hook still feels for his nearly sacrificing any attempt to rescue Eric is later exploited by the Wicked Witch of the West. She impersonates Ariel so that she can get Hook to admit he loves Emma Swan in a "plea for redemption." Using this, she is able to curse his lips. She also reveals that Ariel and Eric are alive on Hangman's Island.
It is later revealed that after Hook sold the Jolly Roger back to Blackbeard, he used it to terrorize people, including Princess Anna and her fiancé, Kristoff, of Arendelle. After her return to Arendelle, Queen Elsa trapped it in a bottle and Ariel accidentally becomes trapped inside as well. She is freed after Hook restores his ship in Storybrooke. After Ursula throws Hook overboard, Ariel saves his life and helps him discover a new plan to help restore Ursula's happy ending. She later helps contact Ursula's father, Poseidon, and bring him to Storybrooke so he can reconcile with his daughter.
After this, Ariel returns to Hangman's Island. A while later, she enters her hut to discover Hook, Jasmine, and Aladdin have broken in and triggered a trap. She is pleased to see Hook and Jasmine again and soon also becomes acquainted with Aladdin. After learning of their plight and that they were led to her hut while tracking Jafar, she brings out a lamp which she believes to be Agrabahn. Jasmine takes the lamp and, assured by the presence of Ariel, Hook, and Aladdin, who she believes to be heroes, prepares to face her fears and Jafar. However, when Jafar emerges, he is easily able to break the genie curse, much to Ariel's surprise, and proceeds to freeze Ariel, Aladdin, and Hook in place, before he faces Jasmine alone. After Jasmine has used magical dust to transform Jafar into a staff, the trio is freed from the sorcerer's magic and regain mobility. Jasmine then reveals that Agrabah is inside the ring she has been wearing, and she now knows how to bring it back with true love's kiss, and proceeds to kiss Aladdin, magically transporting Agrabah back to its proper place and the four heroes with it. Now that the ring no longer contains the kingdom, Ariel asks for permission to keep it as a trinket. Afterward, Hook asks Ariel if she can get back home, and she states that she will be able to use her mermaid powers by swimming in the nearby Agrabah Gulf. Realizing that she can help with Hook's problem of being separated from Emma, Ariel offers a magic conch shell that Hook can use to communicate into as long as there's someone on the other end. Hook begins to speak into it, telling Emma the truth of what happened, though he is unsure if she is on the other end.
The Little Mermaid Disney Comics serial
Ariel was the main character in a few of the comic stories in the four-issue serial. The timeframe takes place at least a year prior to the film, due to Ariel being referred to as 15. The first and second issues had her disposing of a creature called the Serpentine in a failed negotiation with the Moray people. She also ended up abducted by a metallic fish in the final issue.
The Little Mermaid Marvel serial comics
She was the main character in the 12-issue Marvel serial comics that, like the TV series, took place prior to the events of the first film. One of the issues also had her acting as a knight. She also saved Flounder from petrification in the penultimate issue. In the final issue, after a fight with Triton, she managed to learn the history of Atlantica and Atlantis from a wizard fish. She eventually told Triton this, but when she tried to find the wizard fish, he disappeared, although not before leaving a note.
Besides the main storyline, Ariel also featured in the 12th Issue of the anthology series Disney Comic Hits!, which had been a previously unpublished story.
Ariel also appeared in several novelizations, both in human form and in mermaid form:
In Reflections of Arsulu, Ariel was suspicious of the newcomer mermaid named Arsulu and eventually uncovered that the latter was actually Ursula in disguise. She proceeded to expose Arsulu's true identity with a flock of reflecting scaled fish.
In Ariel and the Aquamarine Jewel, she, after becoming human, was requested by Triton to find several of Atlantica's treasures after a storm cast them out to sea, also necessitating that she return to mermaid form. She managed to retrieve them all, and Triton rewarded her by letting her keep one of the treasures and aquamarine necklace. It's implied in this story that she became much more well-versed in the knowledge of human behaviors and items, as she managed to politely correct Scuttle about what a human item was with some amusement.
Another story had her having a picnic with her sisters (herself sitting on an offshore rock, due to her being human during that time).
Another story, Ariel's Dolphin Adventure, had Ariel and Eric creating a wall so her old friends could be with her due to her missing them, but unintentionally trapped a baby dolphin inside. The wall was eventually destroyed by Triton after Ariel requested his assistance.
In the manga series Kilala Princess, Ariel plays a prominent role in Kilala's adventure to become a princess. She is the second Disney Princess to be visited. While mistaking Kilala to be a fish, she helps her look for a young prince named Rei, who separated from her in a storm. After finding the prince and providing medicine, she becomes curious with love and hopes to find her own true love someday. It inspires her to sing.
After Rei was captured by Ursula, Flounder comes to inform Ariel. On their way to Ursula's lair, Flounder collapses due to exhaustion and injury. Ariel then inspires Kilala to fight using her singing voice to remind her of the strength of love. After Ursula is defeated, Ariel gives Kilala an aquamarine gem. Ariel is last seen handing an emerald to Kilala's Magic Tiara.
The mermaid first appears in Power Play when she helps Willa escape Claude Frollo by bringing her up to the Earful Tower to hide. She then teams up with the Keepers to defeat The Overtakers. It is revealed at the end of the book that she is friends with the captain of the Disney Magic, and that while she is close with Eric, she rarely ever gets to see him, as he's usually kept at the Magic Kingdom.
In the second book Disney at Dawn, Willa approaches a cast member of the park who's dressed up as Ariel for autographs. She tells Willa that Captain Hook was acting strange and leaving his usual meet and greet spot.
Unlike in the movies, where she needed magic to change between her mermaid and human forms, the books reveal that Ariel can change whenever she enters and exits a body of water. It's also revealed that she keeps a bikini bottom tucked in the strap of her bra that she can quickly don when she becomes human.
Ariel appears in the novel written by Serena Valentino, in a significantly reduced role, as Ursula's backstory is the main focus. She appears only in the events that are canon to the original film.
Within the novel, she appears officially three times, but is mostly seen briefly or mention during the storyline. The three times she does officially debut take on an interesting view of both the character in viewpoint (Ariel's perspective) and observation (Ursula's perspective).
The first time begins when she comes to Ursula to solve her problem of being a mermaid, as the scene unfolds through the chapter. It is revealed that Ariel was fully aware after signing the contract that she had made a serious mistake along with how terrified she was of the uncertain fate she placed herself in, and what the experience it was for Ariel to lose her voice, which turned out to be excruciatingly painful.
The second time in the story, she appears on the third day and unveils her thoughts during and after Eric will marry the mysterious girl of his dreams, Vanessa (Ursula in disguise). Showing how much Ariel wished she could undo the damage she causes yet knowing and willing to face the consequences of her actions. It is revealed by Scuttle that she has been deceived all along by Ursula.
The last and final time, Ariel is seen rising off on her wedding ship with Eric. She is full of joy that things have worked out with her father and that she will be able to finally be a part of the human world with the man she loves.
After Ariel signed her contract in an alternate version of the original story, Ariel and Eric plan to wed, but the sea witch Ursula has taken control of the ocean. So Ariel becomes a mermaid once more and sets off to rescue the sea.
The game takes place from a side view, and Ariel (swimming most of the time, but hopping around on the land occasionally) can shoot bubbles to trap her foes and can then throw them at each other or into nooks and crannies (to potentially find treasure). She can also dig through sand to find treasure and pick up seashells to break open chests. Some of her old foes, such as the shark, Glut and moray eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, have returned as stage bosses, while others are new.
After Ursula is defeated for good, Ariel attempts to return to the surface and become human, but she cannot return to being a human. Much like in the original film's ending, Triton then attempts to help Ariel out by transforming her back into a human, and their wedding continues as planned.
Although this game is not canon, this exact situation where Ariel had to be turned back into a mermaid would be duplicated in The Little Mermaid II, where she leaves a much larger boat (Eric's lead fleet ship) rather than his rowboat as in the NES game. In addition, her bubble attack is later referenced as a spell card in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
The Genesis game features Ariel (or Triton) on a quest to save the transformed Atlanteans (and either Triton or Ariel, depending on whom the player chooses to play as) from Ursula's spell. This game most likely takes place before Ariel saved Eric from the shipwreck.
The gameplay allows the player to move in 8 directions, with the goal being to locate and transform Ursula's polyps back into Merfolk. The player is given a "normal attack" and "special attack". During the gameplay, the player can collect treasure, which after finding his icon, can trade with Scuttle for health, special characters (like Flounder and Sebastian), and special powers to aid them on their quest. After saving all the Atlicans in a stage, the player must face a boss, the final encounter being Ursula herself, and the transformed Triton (or Ariel if the player chose to play as Triton), the final polyp that must be rescued.
Ariel appears in the Kingdom Hearts series. She is featured in the game, not as one the seven Princesses of Heart (her spot is taken by Alice from Alice in Wonderland), but as one of two female warriors, along with Mulan, to join Sora, Donald, and Goofy in the fight against the Heartless.
She makes her series debut in Kingdom Hearts, where she encounters Sora, Donald, and Goofy for the first time during her latest phase. The young mermaid expresses her desire to see the mysterious worlds beyond the sea, though her father forbids it. Even so, she's soon manipulated by Ursula into revealing the legendary keyhole of her world in exchange for her dream come true. Fortunately, enough, Sora and friends are able to defeat the sea witch with Ariel's help, restoring peace and unveiling the keyhole, which Sora must lock.
In the sequel Kingdom Hearts II, Ariel's dreams of traveling the worlds were put aside for the simpler dream of living upon the surface. A dream that was only pushed further upon discovering the handsome Prince Eric. With Sora, Donald, Goody, Sebastian, and Flounder by her side, Ariel challenges her struggles and makes her dream a reality, with King Triton eventually giving his blessing, like in the film, after seeing Eric risks his life for Ariel's safety at the hands of a revived Ursula. Before leaving upon opening the keyhole, however, Sora and Ariel vow that they'll see each other again.
Ariel would also appear in the title Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, but as a fragment of Sora's memories and with a much smaller role.
Ariel appears in Kingdom Hearts III as a Link summon. She has an ability called Lagoon Showtime, involving her summoned through a current of water where Sora will swing her overhead when she enters. Her initial attacks allow Sora to dive through platforms like water, while her final attack consists of Ariel and Sora entering an encore dance as water spouts from the ground akin to waterworks.
In this game, Ariel is first seen sitting on a rock near the harbor waiting for the blonde-haired heroine of the game who has a bow on her head to befriend her. She convinces her that the land and the sea had lost their music, so she took her under the sea to get the singing voices of the merpeople back and keep her human treasures from being broken. Later, they guide all the blue crabs to safety and go to the lagoon to bring in the chorus of animals.
Ariel appears as a meet-and-greet character in front of It's a Small World near the entrance to Mickey's Toontown and across from where Belle can be found in front of the Princess Fantasy Fair. She is also a participant in the Mickey's Soundsational Parade and Princess Fantasy Faire mini-games. Ariel asks the player to complete several tasks for her as well. One includes finding seashells for a collection. Another involves finding some decor to decorate her parade float with. At one point, Scuttle loses a load of dinglehoppers and Ariel asks the player to help retrieve them for her so that she can return them to Scuttle.
Ariel appears in the game as a playable character in being an ocean hero, she uses her trident which she never used at any time in the film, also her singing can heal allies to regenerate.
A costume of Ariel is also available as an add-on feature in Disney Universe.
Ariel appears in Disney Infinity as a cameo. In the 3DS version, when she appears to the player, she will give you an Emblem.
Ariel appears in Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion where she has been sucked into Wasteland by Mizrabel, trapping her and the Other Toons in the Castle of Illusion.
Ariel appears in the V.Smile game The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Majestic Journey, which plays out similarly like the original film, plus four "Learning Zone" games. This marks the only instance where Ariel is voiced by Kathryn Haywood, as this was likely because Jodi Benson was unavailable to reprise her role as Ariel.
A stage musical version of the 1989 film had its world premiere in Denver, Colorado in 2007 for its pre-Broadway tryout, and on January 10, 2008 debuted on Broadway. The character of Ariel for the stage adaptation was originated by Sierra Boggess. Jodi Benson, her original voice actor, attended the opening night.
A few new songs were added to the score, accompanying the songs in the film that were moved to the stage. "The World Above" is Ariel's introductory song, and in the revised book after closing on Broadway, the show's opening number, replacing the entire shark-chase sequence in the film. In Act 2, although Ariel has become mute, she sings two songs expressing her thoughts and feelings, these songs being "Beyond My Wildest Dreams", where Ariel explores the human world for the first time, and "If Only", in which Ariel laments that she cannot express her feelings to Eric. Additionally, Ariel's voice can be heard in the extended opening of "Fathoms Below", although she is not seen on-stage.
The stage musical features new plot elements not present in the film. It is explained through dialogue that Ariel inherited her mother's singing voice, adding another layer to Triton's protectiveness of her. Ariel and Eric's romance is expanded from the film, as explored in a musical sequence "One Step Closer" where the pair dances together. In the climatic battle, it is Ariel, not Eric, who destroys Ursula by smashing the magic shell. The reason for this change was that the musical's creative team did not want Ariel to come off as passive. It is to be noted that she also is labeled as Ursula's niece in the musical, based on a deleted concept on the film.
Ariel makes appearances as a face character in all the Disney parks. At Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Tokyo DisneySea, she can be found for meet-and-greets at her own special location known as Ariel's Grotto in her mermaid form, while her human form is available for meet and greets at Fantasy Faire in Disneyland and the princess meet-and-greets at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. In her human form, she's often seen wearing a white dress similar to the one she wore at her wedding in the movie, sans the veil and tiara.
Interestingly, Ariel is rather common in terms of cameo appearances in a few attractions. She can be spotted in Peter Pan's Flight amongst the other mermaids of Mermaid Lagoon and in the Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland versions of It's a Small World.
In California, Ariel appears during Mickey's Soundsational Parade, and also takes center stage in her own segment of the Disney California Adventure nighttime spectacular World of Color, singing a rendition of "Part of Your World" that transitions in Sebastian's "Under the Sea" performance.
In animated form, Ariel takes part in Mickey's PhilharMagic, where she performs "Part of Your World" as Donald Duck tries to retrieve the newest addition to her human collection―Mickey's sorcerer hat. The duck also becomes smitten with the mermaid and her beauty and makes an attempt to kiss her, only to lock lips with a flirtatious electric eel.
She can also be seen in her own float of the Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom.
Ariel serves as the star of the dark ride The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, which can be found at both Disney California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom. Ariel makes several appearances throughout the ride, mostly in audio-animatronic form. On the exterior of the Magic Kingdom version, she appears as a figurehead on a shipwrecked ship. In the queue area of the Magic Kingdom version, guests can help her organize her human treasures.
In Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Ariel assists Sebastian, Merlin the Wizard, and the park guests in stopping Ursula when Hades brings her back to life to assist the Underworld ruler in his attempts to take over the Magic Kingdom. Ursula even attempts to disguise herself as Ariel at one point to try to fool Merlin and the guests. Later on, the real Ariel happily congratulates the park guests after Ursula is defeat. Ariel also has her own spell card called "Ariel's Bubble Attack".
In Ariel's Seaside Treasures, after the marriage with Prince Eric, Ariel heard that her father King Triton had been feeling lonely for missing her. So she planned a big party at the seaside with both human and mar-people for the king! This was the special event taken place at Tokyo Disney Sea on Summer of 2003.
In the Mermaid Lagoon Theater, Ariel, Flounder, and other sea characters "swim" freely in this "undersea" theater, in a show featuring dazzling music and dynamic aerial performances. Here, Ariel and her undersea friends stand up to the evil sea witch Ursula, in a musical performance of courage and friendship.
In Shanghai, Ariel is featured in The Little Mermaid display in Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, and during the Golden Fairytale Fanfare castle show. Inside the castle, Ariel appears alongside Sebastian and Flounder in one of the walls carving displays.
Ariel is also prominently featured during the fireworks show, Ignite the Dream, where she performs "Part of Your World".
Ariel is one of the twelve official members of the Disney Princess line―a prominent franchise directed at young girls. The franchise covers a wide variety of merchandise, including, but not limited to, magazines, music albums, toys, clothing, and stationery. Ariel is usually depicted in her mermaid form on merchandise, but also appears in her human form wearing her blue dress, white wedding dress or pink dress. The Disney Princess magazine features comics and posters of Ariel, usually in her mermaid form, but also in her human form as well.
With her new redesign, Ariel is less franchised in her mermaid form and is more focused on her human form.
Ariel's red hair is much wavier, and greater detail is shown as it also appears more glossy and voluminous, with her bangs being a bit smaller. She is clad in a beautiful off-the-shoulder gown with the same distinctive sea green color as her mermaid tail. The overskirt is a paler green that matches her tail fins, as do the long sleeves covering her arms (puffy on the upper half) and the petticoat under her dress. The overskirt hem has many elaborate swirly designs, which include designs of items found in the ocean like starfish and seashells. She wears lavender scallop seashell earrings with a matching brooch on her dress and a pair of sea-green pumps on her feet.
In early redesigns, Ariel had a pale pink dress that was a revamp of her previous pink-and-white gown.
The modified redesigns of her mermaid form have added a sparkly/metallic effect to her mermaid tail, giving either the impression of fish scales caught in a gradient light of yellow to green to blue or a similar shimmer to the patterns on her sea green dress with larger tail fins, along with lavender earrings that are similar to her seashell bra on her mermaid form.
Ariel's Palace Pets are Treasure, Seashell, Matey, Sandy Pearl, Otto, and Waddles.
Differences from the source material
Disney's Ariel bore almost very little character continuity from the original Hans Christian Andersen story, as her character has been heavily altered from her counterpart from the original source material. Here are the main changes Disney made to the book's Mermaid protagonist:
- The original Mermaid had only 5 sisters instead of 6 like in the film.
- The Mermaid's name isn't revealed.
- The age of the Mermaid in the story was 15 instead of 16 like in the film.
- The Mermaid has a grandmother in the original story with whom she frequently speaks.
- The Mermaid never had any animal friends from under the sea.
- The Mermaid was actually permitted to swim to the surface and observe the human world when she turned 15. This plot point was given a subtle reference in the song "Part of Your World" with the lyric "When's it my turn? Wouldn't I love, love to explore that shore up above?"
- The Mermaid asks her grandmother about humans. Her grandmother explains that humans have a much shorter lifespan than the 300 years of the merfolk, but that when mermaids die they turn to sea foam and cease to exist, while humans have an eternal soul that lives on in Heaven. Having an eternal soul was one of the Mermaid's main motivations of becoming human in the original story.
- Rather than selling her voice to the Sea Witch, the witch sells her a potion that gives her legs in exchange for her tongue. She was warned that she would never be able to return to the sea. In exchange for her lost ability to sing and speak, she gains the ability to have amazing dancing skill. In addition, she will only obtain a soul if she finds true love and if the prince loves her and marries her. Otherwise, at dawn on the first day after he marries another woman, the Mermaid will die brokenhearted and turn into sea foam.
- On a related note, because of the motives for Ariel being changed (see above), the Disney version implied that the merpeople already possessed souls, especially regarding Ursula absorbing several souls from their deals. This is highlighted in her signature song, "Poor Unfortunate Souls".
- Also, it's worth mentioning that in the original story, the Mermaid never got her voice back at all from that point she got legs until the time she died and turned into sea foam. Though in the film, Ariel did lose her voice like in the original story, she eventually got her voice back at some point later in the film courtesy of Scuttle.
- The prince believes a different princess saved him from drowning, rather than the Mermaid, and he falls in love with this girl and marries her. In the film, Eric almost marries Vanessa (Ursula in disguise) due to the latter using Ariel's stolen voice to hypnotize him, only for his wedding to get interrupted when Scuttle finds out the truth about Vanessa.
- In the original ending, the Mermaid's heart breaks when the prince marries another girl. She despairs, thinking of the death that awaits her, but before dawn, her sisters bring her a knife that the Sea Witch has given them at the cost of their hair. If she slays the prince with the knife and lets his blood drip on her feet, she will become a mermaid again, all her suffering will end, and she will live out her full life. She can't bring herself to kill him and instead throws herself into the sea. She becomes a spirit called the "daughter of the air" and learns if she does good deeds for 300 years she will eventually rise into heaven with God, but only if the children of the world are good.
- There was a debate among the scholar over the ending. Some said this is an unnatural addition to the tale. One even commented "This final message is more frightening than any other presented in the tale. The story descends into the Victorian moral tales written for children to scare them into good behavior".
- In the film however, though Ariel's heart breaks when the prince marries another girl (Vanessa, who is actually Ursula in disguise), the ending is changed completely from the point when Scuttle finds out of Vanessa's true form, and it even ends well for Ariel as she finally gets her voice back and even successfully marries Eric in the end.
- When the Mermaid got her feet, she would experience grave pain as if she were walking on knives all the time, but she still ended up dancing with her lover despite that. In contrast, in the film, Ariel's only physical struggle when she got her feet for the first time on land was trying to stand on her own two feet for the first time for only once, while she never experienced any grave pain when on her own two feet for the rest of the film, including when she shares a dance with Eric in one scene.
- The Mermaid got her statue before meeting and rescuing the prince, and it's implied that her main motivation for saving him was because he looked just like her statue. In the film, Ariel got the statue after rescuing Eric which was destroyed by her father, making her mad at Sebastian.
- In addition, Ariel's interest in humanity had more focus in the movie than in the original tale, notably having an established interest in humanity before meeting Eric, even frequently disobeying Triton's commands that she stay away from the surface or get a human collection. The original mermaid lacked any interest in collecting objects from the surface beyond her marble statue, only being interested in tending to underwater red flowers. Ironically, it was her sisters who frequently plundered ships for objects instead of the mermaid herself, while in the Disney version, Ariel was more interested in collecting than her sisters. According to the writers, they changed this specific plot point specifically to avoid the resulting implication that Ariel only desired to become human because of Eric.
- Ariel's creation in 1989 marked a new change in direction for subsequent Disney Princesses, as she is the first proactive Disney Princess whose characteristics are strong-willed, adventurous, feisty, cunning, and determined, and are fighters for their dreams, breaking away from the reactive nature of previous Disney Princesses created during Walt Disney's lifetime — Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora. Many of Ariel's traits — such as her adventurous spirit, desires of freedom, and resourcefulness — provided the basis for later heroines in modern Disney fairy tales, such as Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Jasmine from Aladdin.
- Unlike her sisters, as a mermaid, Ariel doesn't wear any hair accessories except for the occasional sea flower, which she wears more often in the film's comic adaptation.
- Ariel's jewelry in "The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea" is the green emerald, the same color as her mermaid tail.
- Ariel is purposely made to stand out from her sisters. First, she's the only redhead and the only one who wears her hair down. Second, she's the only mermaid whose seashell top isn't the same color as her tail. And finally, although all of Triton's daughters have names that begin with the letter 'A', Ariel's is the only one whose name doesn't also end with that letter. Ariel is the only one to have a name of Roman origin instead of Greek.
- In Hebrew, the name Ariel literally means "lion of God".
- Ariel's namesake is most likely a reference to William Shakespeare's The Tempest, where the play's character of Ariel is an air spirit (referring to HC Andersen's original ending of his tale).
- Ariel's pose, while she was sitting on a rock looking at an unconscious Eric near the end of the movie, was inspired by the statue of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the story originated.
- Although Ariel and Athena bear a striking resemblance, her personality is more similar to that of her father, King Triton, as she becomes overprotective of her daughter Melody. This is especially noticeable in The Little Mermaid II, when Ariel reprimands Melody for disobeying orders and venturing out into the sea, the same way Ariel disobeyed her father's orders and venturing up to the surface in the first film.
- Ariel's daughter, Melody, shares almost all of Ariel's personality traits from the first film. However, Ariel dreamt of becoming human and living on land, while Melody's dream was to swim beneath the waves. Melody also resembles her father, however, they only have the same eyes and hair texture.
- Ariel is the first Disney princess to save her love interest (in this case, Prince Eric). She saves Eric twice in the original film.
- In Enchanted, the animated troll hunted down by Prince Edward wears Ariel's seashells as earrings.
- Conveniently, her voice actress Jodi Benson cameos as Robert's secretary Sam.
- In Timon and Pumbaa's Wild About Safety short In the Water, Pumbaa briefly makes a reference to Ariel.
- The first real dress Ariel wears after she is a human is pink, similarly, the first dress her daughter is shown wearing is pink as well.
- Ariel speaks the last non-musical line of The Little Mermaid, which was: "I love you, Daddy".
- During the production of the first film, Ariel was originally going to be depicted with blonde hair, but was changed into a redhead in order to distinguish her from another famous Disney mermaid, Madison from Touchstone Pictures' Splash.
- In Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Ariel is seen trapped in a crystal.
- Ariel's eyes are redesigned when she became a woman in Return to the Sea.
- Voice actress Melissa Fahn, known for voicing Gaz in Invader Zim and Rika Nonaka in Digimon, auditioned for the part of Ariel. However, she was called back several times and was turned down in favor of Jodi Benson because she sounded "too young."
- Ariel is right-handed as shown when she signs her name on Ursula's contract in the first film.
- The storyline of Ariel stealing King Triton's trident in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is taken from The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, where Ariel's daughter Melody, steals Triton's trident (although for completely different reasons).
- Ariel has the most songs sung by any Disney movie character, despite the fact that she only has one song in her original movie (not counting the reprise).
- Ariel was the subject of an internet meme called "Hipster Ariel", which depicted Ariel with horn-rimmed glasses and saying a humorous statement.
- Hipster Ariel also has her own Funko POP! figure as a Hot Topic exclusive.
- 1941 concept art of the original idea of The Little Mermaid (before shelved) shows Ariel with long black hair and a bluish or greenish tail. It was also much closer to the original story. This artwork was done by Kay Nielsen.
- In some foreign-language versions of the film, her name is in the title.
- On the Marvel site, there was a create your own Marvel Superhero. One of these Superhero concepts, "Little Mermaid", was based on Ariel.
- Alan Menken and Howard Ashman discovered similarities between Audrey's song in Little Shop of Horrors and Ariel's song and originally were to call it "Somewhere That's Dry". However, the music was already copyrighted, so the title was changed to "Part of Your World" and the music was also changed.
- A silhouette of Ariel can be seen in a book a young King Agnarr is reading in Frozen II.
- Ariel is the first Disney Princess to be born as non-human (a mermaid) by default, although she did eventually turn into a human, and would transform back into a mermaid on numerous occasions (via a spell).
- Ariel's voice actress, Jodi Benson, provided the voices for more Disney characters than any other original voice actress for a Disney Princess, having voiced numerous female Disney characters in various media since 1989, such as Helen of Troy from Hercules and Weebo from Flubber.
- Ariel is the first, and so far only, Disney Princess to have a child.
- Snetiker, Marc] (July 3, 2019). "Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid casts Halle Bailey as Ariel" (Article). Entertainment Weekly.
- (2006) Treasures Untold: The Making of Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' [Documentary featurette]. Bonus material from The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition DVD. Walt Disney Home Entertainment.
- Musker, John (2006). Audio Commentary from The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition[DVD]. Walt Disney Home Entertainment.
- Gibson, Megan (February 10, 2011). "Hipster Ariel Meme Was On Tumblr Before You Were" (Article). Time.