- “I've never seen a human this close before. He's very handsome, isn't he?”
- ―Ariel, as she looks at Eric
Prince Eric is the deuteragonist of Disney's 1989 animated feature film, The Little Mermaid. He is a young, dashing prince of a seaside kingdom with a passion for sailing. During one of his voyages, Eric is rescued by a mysterious girl after nearly drowning during a storm. Grateful for her heroism, and enchanted by her beautiful voice, Eric immediately falls in love with his rescuer and becomes determined to find and marry her.
Despite being of royalty, Eric is an accomplished mariner who is often seen partaking in various duties aboard ships in his own fleet. Eric is a skilled helmsman as he is seen steering ships in both the 1989 film and its sequel. This could be due to the fact that Eric's kingdom is coastal and most of the subjects make their livings by shipping and fishing, and as such, it is expected that the rulers be skilled in maritime trades. Eric spends much of his free time out at sea, fishing, going on explorations, or even taking the sail to celebrate his birthday. Grimsby, his servant, and personal confidant, often accompanies him on his voyages and disapproves of Eric's stubbornness and lack of interest in potential wives.
Eric is a hopeless romantic and appears to be quite dreamy, believing his true love certainly exists, but simply hasn't been found by the earliest points of the film. After being rescued by a mysterious girl with a beautiful voice, he immediately falls in love with her and makes it his primary goal to find her and marry her, feeling deep gratitude for her actions. Eric would later prove his commitment towards romance by risking his life at the climax for the safety of Ariel, proclaiming he's lost her once and refuses to lose her again.
As demonstrated in the first film, Eric is initially shy around girls, as seen in the love song "Kiss the Girl", where, although he did not know at the time that she had rescued him from drowning, he wanted to kiss Ariel, but was initially too shy to do so, however, he eventually overcame this shyness and would have kissed her, if it had not been for Flotsam and Jetsam tipping over the boat they were in. By the climax of the film, Eric's shy nature, regarding girls has completely disappeared. This is evidenced by the fact that, after Ariel is permanently transformed into a human by her father, Triton, he not only lovingly embraces the woman he loves very much, but they also share their first kiss.
Eric grimaces at the massive statue of himself given to him by Grimsby, suggesting that he lacks vanity and is not impressed by such an extravagant gesture.
Eric has fair skin, a muscular physique, short black hair, and light blue eyes.
Eric's primary mode of dress is a white, long-sleeved collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up, teal blue trousers with a red sash, and black boots with lighter blue cuffs. His shirt collar is open to the point that it reveals his clavicles.
When he was saved by Ariel from drowning and ended up at the shore, his clothes were in shreds and he was barefoot, implying that he lost his boots after the shipwreck.
At the time he was hypnotized by Vanessa (who was Ursula in disguise), Eric wore a far more royal outfit. It is a navy blue long-sleeved royal uniform; it includes a black belt with a gold buckle at the midriff; gold buttons; redlining the collar, down the chest, and cuffs along with red epaulets; he wore a matching pair of dark blue trousers with red lining and black shoes. At his wedding to Vanessa (later Ariel), he wore another military uniform; a white coat with gold buttons and two vertical gold stripes lining the chest; a white sash, a navy blue collar and cuffs with gold lining and golden epaulets; blue trousers, and black boots with golden lining at their tops. He also wore white gloves. At the back of his coat, it has tail ends on each side.
During his fight against Ursula and rescues Ariel, Eric wears a combination between his primary outfit and his royal outfit; he retains his white long-sleeved collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up from his primary outfit and wears his blue trousers with gold linings and his black boots with golden lining at their tops from his royal outfit, after the defeat of Ursula he jump of the boat and swam to shore he lost his boots and was barefoot again.
In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Eric retains his primary outfit throughout the film. At the beginning of the film where they christened their daughter Melody, he wears his royal outfit at the end of the original film only his pants and boots are changed to white to match his military white coat. During Melody's 12th birthday, Eric retains his first royal outfit but in a minor color change which resembles his white military uniform. His royal uniform is white with the collar and epaulets are gold and his belt is also white, his trousers are now navy blue to match up to his black shoes.
- Expert Sailor: As demonstrated in the first film, and its sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Eric is an excellent sailor, despite him being of royalty.
- Expert Swimmer: As demonstrated in the first film, and its sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Eric is an excellent swimmer.
- Dancing: As demonstrated in the first film, Eric is an excellent dancer.
- Singing: As demonstrated in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Eric is an excellent singer.
- Swordsman: Due to him being of royalty, it can be assumed that Eric is highly skilled in swordsmanship, as he is seen utilizing a sword in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, but the exact level of his skills is never demonstrated in the second film.
- “A girl rescued me. She was singing. She had the most beautiful voice.”
- ―Prince Eric talking about Ariel
In his first appearance, Eric, along with his man-servant Grimsby and crew of sailors are enjoying another day sailing out in the sea. Eric overhears sailors talking about King Triton, ruler of the merpeople, which makes him curious, but Grimsby brushes it off as nonsense.
One night, as Eric is celebrating his birthday out in the sea, it is revealed through a dialogue between him and his manservant Grimsby that the kingdom is eagerly awaiting the day that Eric marries. Eric has turned down at least one princess as a prospective bride, the princess of Glowerhaven, claiming that he is still looking for the right girl. When a storm hits and lightning sets the ship ablaze, everyone manages to escape to the lifeboat, but Eric climbs back onto the burning ship to save his pet sheepdog, Max who was trapped. He manages to toss the dog into the sea, but he has stuck aboard due to his foot trapped in a hole as the fire reaches some explosives on the ship, causing the ship to explode. When Ariel finds an unconscious Eric in the water, she drags him to shore worrying he might've died but to her relief he starts breathing again. She sings a reprise of "Part of Your World" to him, while he regains consciousness. When he regains enough consciousness to open his eyes he briefly sees Ariel, but before he can say anything to her, Max and Grimsby arrive, forcing Ariel to dive back into the water. Grimsby helps him up and he tells him that a girl rescued him and sang to him with the most beautiful singing voice while walking around, trying to spot that girl, but the skeptical Grimsby drags him back to his palace.
When Eric is seen again, he is on the beach outside his palace with Max, still haunted by Ariel's singing voice and playing Ariel's song on his flute, and has been searching the kingdom for her. But then Max starts to bark excitedly and runoff, making Eric follow the dog, who leads him to Ariel, who has been transformed into a human by Ursula. He finds her familiar but her muteness makes him think that she could not possibly be the girl who rescued him, much to Ariel's annoyance. However, he brings her back to his palace, and they spend time together. Although Eric remains determined to find the girl who saved him and marry her, he finds himself beginning to develop romantic feelings for Ariel. After some advice from Grimsby, Eric takes Ariel on a tour of his kingdom. That evening, they go on a boat ride in which Sebastian leads a group of animals in a chorus of "Kiss the Girl" in an attempt to get Eric to fall in love with Ariel and kiss her so that she can remain human. Just as the two come close to kissing, Ursula's eels, Flotsam and Jetsam intervene by tipping over their boat.
That night, Eric plays Ariel's song on his flute, conflicted with himself over his determination to find the mystery girl and his love for Ariel. Grimsby advises Eric to forget about his "dream girl", and focus on the one "warm, caring, and right before his eyes". Realizing he is truly in love with Ariel, Eric chooses to give up his pursuits of the mystery girl and does so by throwing his flute into the sea, symbolizing his choice. However, before Eric can approach Ariel to declare his love, Ursula, who has disguised herself as a human girl named Vanessa arrives and uses Ariel's voice trapped in her seashell necklace to hypnotize Eric into thinking she is the girl who saved his life, causing him to forget all about Ariel. Eric almost marries Vanessa just so Ursula can stop him from kissing Ariel, but before the vows are completed, Ariel's seagull friend Scuttle discovers Vanessa's true identity and leads the same group of birds and sea creatures that sung to Ariel and Eric on a mission to stop the wedding while Ariel, with the help of her companion Flounder, swim to the wedding ship. During the chaos, the seashell around Vanessa's neck is removed from her neck by Scuttle with Max's help and is smashed, freeing Ariel's voice, which is restored to her. Eric, who has come out of Ursula's trance spell, sees Ariel who is finally able to speak to him and runs up to her, having finally realized that she is in fact his rescuer and true love for whom he has been looking after all.
Before they can kiss however, the sun sets, and to his surprise, Ariel is transformed back into a mermaid as she falls to the floor. Vanessa transforms back into Ursula, grabs Ariel, says to Eric "So long, Lover Boy", and dives into the ocean with her while Eric watches and worries about his love. Determined not to lose Ariel a second time, Eric goes after them, diving into the sea to help his endangered love. He hits Ursula with a harpoon, and Ursula instructs her pet eels Flotsam and Jetsam to strangle Eric, but Flounder and Sebastian follow them and free Eric. Ursula attempts to finish Eric off with the trident she stole from King Triton, but, due to Ariel's intervention, accidentally destroys her eels instead, which further enrages Ursula as she deeply cared for them. Eric and Ariel attempt to escape from an enraged Ursula, who enlarges herself into a giant. Ursula then separates Eric from Ariel as she traps the mermaid princess in the bottom of a whirlpool Ursula has created. While Ursula is concentrating on finishing Ariel off and not paying attention to what's around her, Eric climbs onto one of the shipwrecks that have surfaced as a result of the whirlpool, takes control of the ship and steers it toward Ursula who is about to destroy Ariel with the trident. Before Ursula gets the chance to destroy Ariel however, Eric plunges the ship's splintered bowsprit through her heart, destroying her for good, saving Ariel, as well as the entire underwater kingdom of Atlantica, and freeing King Triton and all the merpeople in her garden from her polyp curse. Ursula, while also being backfired by the energy of the trident, uses her last ounces of life to bring the ship down with her, but Eric jumps off in time.
Eric reaches the shore and collapses from exhaustion. When he wakes up, he sees Ariel, transformed back into a human (courtesy of King Triton), and they embrace finally kissing for the first time with no interventions. The film ends with their wedding, at which Eric and Ariel exchange vows and Triton accepts Eric as his son-in-law.
The prequel television series is set before the events of the 1989 film and focuses almost entirely on Ariel. However, Eric makes very brief cameo appearances in three episodes. Preserving the continuity where Eric and Ariel only first met in the original film, the two never met each other in the television series, despite appearing side-by-side.
The first cameo occurs in Season 1 episode "Thingamajigger". This episode implies that Eric plays a significant role in altering Ariel's perception of humans. Through dialogue, Ariel says that despite her fascination with human things, she is fearful of humans because of the stories she's been told since she was little. But when she witnesses Eric release a trapped dolphin from a net, she starts doubting the truth of those stories. To avoid contradictions with the film, Ariel does not see Eric's face, and Eric does not see Ariel at all. Eric plays an indirect role in the episode's conclusion; when the Evil Manta acquires the titular 'Thingamajigger' - really an old boot that the sea creatures mistake for a weapon as a cannonball strikes a location where it was 'pointing'- Ariel realizes that the objects are powerless when Eric loses one of his boots under a pier and tosses the other one away, allowing Ariel to trick the Evil Manta into fleeing by using both boots to force him to stand down.
In the Season 3 episode "Scuttle"- which also marks Ariel's first meeting with Scuttle - Ariel and her friends stop a bunch of pirates from boarding a vessel, which turns out to be Eric's royal barge. Ariel does not see Eric at all, but Eric briefly glimpses Ariel from a distance, though Grimsby brushes it off as his imagination.
In a later Season 3 episode "Ariel's Treasures", Eric is seen briefly aboard a ship, from which a human item falls and is later collected by Ariel.
In the 2000 direct-to-video sequel, Eric is a supporting character. Although happily married to Ariel, the couple has a problem in protecting their daughter Melody from Ursula's sister, Morgana, who has sworn to avenge her sister and finish what she started. Fearing she will use Melody as leverage, Eric and Ariel erect a sea wall around the castle and raise her as an ordinary human girl unaware of her Atlantican roots. Melody distances herself from her parents as she grows up due to their rules against going into the sea.
Generally, however, Eric does not contribute to the plot, instead of playing a supporting role in helping Ariel or Melody. However, he was the one who convinced Ariel that keeping Melody away from the sea was tearing the family apart and that Melody was old enough to deserve an explanation as to why the sea wall was built. He was also the one who persuaded Ariel (as she knows the ocean better than Eric) to temporarily transform into a mermaid to advance the search for their daughter. After Morgana takes Ariel and Melody captive, Eric teams up with Scuttle and leads a resistance attack, though it is Melody that ultimately defeats the sea witch. In the end, he was reunited with Ariel and Melody, as humans and merfolk began celebrating together.
Eric appears as one of the guests in the 2001-2003 animated television series House of Mouse, usually sitting next to Ariel. His notable appearance is in the episode "Goofy's Valentine Date", wherein that episode Ariel was seen staring affectionately at him. In the same scene, Goofy reads out the valentine specials on the menu, sobbing away his misery for not having Valentine's Day date.
Prince Eric made an appearance in this 1993 Disney Sing Along Songs video.
Eric appears on the third season of the hit fantasy drama and he is played by Gil McKinney. It is implied that like many of the denizens of the Enchanted Forest, he was likely transported to Storybrooke by the Dark Curse. His first appearance is in the episode "Ariel", which takes place before the Dark Curse. In his kingdom, Prince Eric holds a ball. He is immediately drawn to Ariel and he 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 White 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 later returns to the dock by Eric's palace as she is about to yell Eric's name her voice has vanished. Regina tells Ariel that Ariel will not have a second chance at true love and that she took her voice so Ariel can never tell Prince Eric how she truly feels.
In tears, a muted Ariel heads back to the sea. 29 years later in Neverland, Regina and Mr. Gold are by the banks of the lake. Regina whispers something into a seashell that causes Ariel to appear. Regina returns Ariel's voice to her and asks her to go to return to Storybrooke so Ariel can retrieve a weapon from Mr. Gold's shop that will be strong enough to stop Peter Pan. Regina then promises Ariel that she can be a human permanently and if she goes to Storybrooke, she will find Eric there. After Ariel completes her mission and permanently becomes human, she finds Eric working as a fisherman. The two of them are then reunited and reconcile.
When Storybrooke vanishes all of its residents, including Eric and Ariel, are sent back to the Enchanted Forest. Eric is kidnapped by Blackbeard and is left all alone on a deserted island. Ariel eventually finds Eric on the island where they are reunited.
Prince Eric has yet to make an appearance in the Kingdom Keepers books, but he is mentioned by Ariel in the fourth book. Here she says she spends her days at Disney's Hollywood Studios very lonely for they keep Eric at Magic Kingdom, in the current show at Cinderella Castle.
In this reality, with Ariel has been unable to defeat Ursula or reclaim her voice, Eric has remained under her influence for the last few years, essentially becoming little more than a figurehead for Ursula's plans to expand her influence on the surface as he becomes known as the 'Mad Prince', spending more time composing amateur concerts as a reflection of his fascination with Ariel's voice. However, after Ariel reclaims her voice, this also results in Eric being freed of Ursula's influence, allowing him to begin discreetly working with Ariel to undermine Ursula's plans, as well as keeping Ursula herself in check by drawing her attention to the various details of ruling on the surface world that she hadn't considered. After Ariel is able to defeat Ursula and rescue her father, she is able to arrange a compromise with her father where she will spend at least one week each month acting as an ambassador to the surface world, with Eric getting a tattoo of Ariel's name in mer runes to symbolize their commitment to each other even if they will not officially marry yet.
Eric is a prince on the surface land of Atlantica. In all his life, he has been living in ignorance about the mysteries of the sea world.
Eric was saved by Ariel after his ship was wrecked in a storm. While he was unconscious, Ariel sang to him, and when he woke up, he recognized nothing about Ariel than her voice.
To be able to be with him, Ariel signed a contract with Ursula that allows her to become human for three days in exchange for her voice, and unless she makes the prince kiss her before sundown of the third day, she will belong to her forever.
Eric met Ariel at the beach where he was brought ashore but did not recognize her because of her loss of voice. On the second night, he and Ariel were out on a little boat and almost kissed, until Flotsam and Jetsam interrupted them. The next morning, Ursula turned into a human girl called Vanessa and cast a spell on Eric to make him fall in love with her. However, Sora interferes with her plan and breaks Ursula's charm, thus giving Ariel her voice back and breaks Eric out of the spell. Eric, having recognized Ariel, confesses his love to her, but Ursula takes her back to the sea.
He then rescues Ariel and defeats Ursula with the help of Sora, Donald, and Goofy. Upon her defeat, Ariel reveals to Eric about her true identity, but he admits that it does not change how he feels. The romantic scene makes King Triton finally change his mind and let his daughter be with a human prince.
In the ending credits, Eric and Ariel, having finally become human, are seen getting married in a ceremony gathered with humans and merpeople where they eventually kiss.
In the 2007 Broadway musical adaptation of the Disney film, the role of Eric was originated by Sean Palmer and notably replaced with Drew Seeley after Palmer's departure. It is explained through dialogue that Eric's father has passed away, and it is Grimsby's duty to help Eric find a bride, so he can return to the throne properly, despite Eric's affinity for exploring the seas.
Eric contributes singing vocals to the opening song "Fathoms Below", and performs two solo songs: "Her Voice", a song about Eric's obsession with Ariel's voice that had been written for the original film but discarded, and "One Step Closer", a new song where Eric helps Ariel express herself through dance. Eric also provides vocals in the quartet "If Only", where he expresses confusion over his attraction to Ariel, and his fear that if he finds the girl with the right voice, he might lose Ariel.
A new subplot in the stage musical is a singing competition where the eligible princesses in all the land are invited to sing for Eric. The princesses perform in the song "The Contest", which is set to the tune of Ariel's song "Part of Your World".
In The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Eric can be seen during the "Kiss the Girl" sequence and the finale as an audio-animatronic.
Art of Disney Animation, in Disneyland Paris, offers visitors a display of production artwork made for the production of The Little Mermaid. Including early concepts of Eric.
In Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Eric makes an appearance, living out the same role as he did in the film. Eric is seen during a few cutscenes and the end where he and Ariel celebrate their love.
In Fantasmic!, Eric joins Ariel and other Disney couples during the princess-themed medley. He also makes an appearance riding Steamboat Willie during the show's finale.
Eric is featured throughout Ariel's segment of the castle show, Ignite the Dream.
- Prince Eric speaks the first non-musical line of The Little Mermaid is "Isn't this great? The salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face!"
- Prince Eric's original voice actor Christopher Daniel Barnes was only 16 when he recorded his voice for Eric. The producers decided to cast him because he sounded much older than his actual age.
- In Kinect: Disneyland Adventures, Prince Eric is mentioned by Ariel: "Oh, I can't wait to dance with Eric. He's so handsome."
- In the original The Little Mermaid fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the Prince is nameless and his love for the mermaid was strictly platonic.
- The Prince also married a different princess, whom he believed to be the one who saved him from drowning. As a result, the mermaid's heart broke (meaning she would dissolve into sea foam by sunrise) and she was forced to kill the Prince in his sleep in order to regain her old life. However, she loved the Prince too much and chose death instead.
- "Everything you need to know about The Little Mermaid's Prince Eric, Jonah Hauer-King (yes, he can sing)". Entertainment Weekly (November 12, 2019).
- Joshua Finkel's Acting Bio