- “I should be writing symphonies. Not tagging along after some headstrong teenager!”
Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian Crab is a red jamaican crab and the tritagonist in Disney's 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid, its 2008 prequel film, its 1992-94 television series and its 2000 sequel in the saga.
Sebastian was conceived as a musical character for The Little Mermaid, and performs 2 songs ("Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl") that went on to become hits for Disney and were nominated for "Best Original Song" at the 1990 Academy Awards. Voice actor Wright's singing style and the compositions by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken for the Sebastian character lean heavily to calypso and reggae influences.
- “This is a catastrophe! What would her father say? I'll tell you what her father'd say, he'd say he's gonna kill himself a crab, that's what her father'd say! I'm gonna march meself straight home right now and tell him just like I shoulda done de minute... and don't you shake your head at me, young lady. Maybe there's still time. If we could get that witch to give you back your voice, you could go home with all the normal fish, and just be... just be... just be miserable for the rest of your life. All right, all right. I'll try to help you find that prince.”
- ―Sebastian to Flounder and Ariel
Sebastian is the king's royal court composer and holds a rather passionate love for music. While usually carefree, Sebastian is often seen to be very grumpy and worrisome. This is mostly due to Ariel's stubbornness, who he is found with regularly. He is also prone to having panic attacks and fearing King Triton will murder him if he slips up on a task. Like the other sea inhabitants, Sebastian holds a great fear of the sea king, King Triton. Despite the fear, he still shows great respect and they are obviously on good terms, friendship wise.
When scared, Sebastian's voice tends to become humorously higher in pitch.
He can be sensitive at times about his size and the fact that his tiny arms prevents him from swimming as fast as Ariel and Flounder. This makes it difficult to tag along on adventures which is why he'll just grab onto Flounder's tail fin.
Despite his size, the enemies of the kingdom, notably Ursula, still find Sebastian to be a big enough threat to foil their plans. Being part of the royal family, Sebastian is fairly intelligent and knows mostly all secrets of the sea, even more so than King Triton. Sebastian is also willing to put his own life on the line, such as willingly swimming to Ursula's lair despite being terrified to save Ariel and later to save Melody, Ariel's daughter.
When the film opens, Sebastian is announced as being the "royal court composer," and conducts a concert that King Triton's seven daughters are supposed to perform in. Ariel, the youngest daughter, fails to show up for the concert, and later Sebastian joins King Triton in scolding her, blaming her for his humiliation. King Triton, worried about Ariel, tasks Sebastian with following her and keeping her out of trouble.
Sebastian tries to do the job given to him, and is horrified when Ariel saves the life of and falls in love with Prince Eric. Sebastian accidentally lets this information slip to King Triton, who confronts Ariel and furiously destroys her grotto filled with her personal treasures. Feeling guilty for having betrayed Ariel, as well as being appalled with Triton's actions, Sebastian willingly follows Ariel when she visits Ursula the sea witch for help, and later becomes an adviser in her quest to win Prince Eric's affections.
In the film, Sebastian starts out in a parental, supervisory role over Ariel, and over time becomes her close friend.
Sebastian appears in every episode of the prequel television series, which follows the adventures of Ariel when she is still a mermaid. In the series, Sebastian's occupation is King Triton's assistant, adviser and confidante. Sebastian is shown as being a good friend of Ariel and Flounder, as well as Urchin, a new character unique to the television series. He is sometimes strict and often critical of Ariel's adventurous ways, but often ends up going on her adventures with her.
In one adventure, in the episode "Island of Fear," he accompanies Ariel as she tries to find the source of a pollutant that is sickening the fish. He befriends a human boy named Daniel, and helps the boy to escape from the evil scientist the boy is forced to work for. This makes it one of the few times in the series that a character directly interacts with a human.
Throughout the series Sebastian's character is further developed via dialogue and entire episodes dedicated to him. In the series, Sebastian is said to have come from a large Jamaican family. In "King Crab" his parents visit him, and it is revealed that he had lied and told them he was the King of Atlantica. In the episode "Tail of Two Crabs", Sebastian has a rivalry with another crab named Zeus, and they both try to one-up the other. According to dialogue in this episode, Sebastian was born in Jamaica and went to Music Academy in Trinidad prior to joining King Triton's staff as his assistant. "T'ank You for Dat, Ariel" reveals that he is somewhat insecure regarding his size.
In the 2008 prequel, Sebastian is King Triton's attache, and is initially shown as being a strict enforcer of the sea king's rules. All music has been banned from Atlantica, but it is later revealed that Sebastian has been secretly performing music as the leader of The Catfish Club Band, which performs in an underground club. Technically this makes Sebastian the first character in The Little Mermaid universe to break a major law of Triton's.
When the underground club is revealed to Triton, Sebastian is placed in jail with the rest of his band. Thanks to Ariel, they manage to escape. As part of a premeditated plan, Sebastian leads them far away from Atlantica to a specific spot where Ariel finds her mother's discarded music box. Sebastian wants music to return to Atlantica, and he returns with Ariel to convince Triton to change his mind. When the film ends, music is restored to Atlantica, and Sebastian becomes the "royal court composer", setting up his role in the opening of the original film.
According to this film, Sebastian is the oldest of Ariel's friends, having been present since she was a small child all the way to her own parenthood in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. There is also evidence in the second film, by the time Melody is 12 years old, Sebastian has already become an elderly crab in terms of age.
Sebastian was one of several guest stars in Raw Toonage. He would later star in his own series of shorts in the spin-off series Marsupilami, set after the wedding of Ariel and Eric. One particular Sebastian short on Marsupilami was made from his host segments of a Raw Toonage episode.
Sebastian was featured as a recurring guest in House of Mouse. He is usually seen with Ariel.
In the beginning of the episode "Big Bad Wolf Daddy", Sebastian was served alive as Ariel's dinner. This was the only time in the series where Sebastian was treated this way, unlike Flounder, whom was frequently treated this way in the series.
One of his most notable appearances is in the episode "The Mouse Who Came to Dinner" where Mortimer Mouse acts as if he's the critic (when the real critic was Lumiere) and demands Goofy to make him shellfish for dinner. Goofy claims they're all out and uses Sebastian as a substitute. Sebastian and Goofy end up in a comical chase (similar to the Chef Louis vs. Sebastian chase in the Little Mermaid films) for the rest of the episode until Mortimer's charade was exposed.
In "Max's Embarrassing Date" Sebastian begins to perform "Kiss the Girl" for Max and Roxanne, but is stopped when Max loses his temper, because he didn't want all this attention. He only wanted privacy.
Cameos in other productions
He also made a brief appearance in Aladdin. When the Genie, whilst trying to find the right 'recipe' for turning Aladdin into a prince, is looking at the Royal Recipes book, he pulls out Sebastian (clamped to his finger) and flicks him off. For a few seconds during his appearance, "Under the Sea" can be heard.
Sebastian briefly appeared in the movie version of "Dalmatian Vacation", the series finale to 101 Dalmatians: The Series, in which he pinches a puppy's tail. However, the song sequence containing this cameo was often cut from televised broadcasts of the episode.
Sebastian and Flounder currently star in commercial bumpers for the Disney Junior channel and the Disney Junior block on the Disney Channel. These short showcase Sebastian and Flounder engaging in activities, accompanied by a song from an off-screen singer.
Video game appearances
In the original Kingdom Hearts, Sebastian is tasked with keeping Ariel under tight supervision, as King Triton believes her fascination with the worlds outside Atlantica have gotten out of hand. After Ursula uses this dream to seize control over the ocean, Sebastian accompanies Ariel with Sora, Donald, and Goofy on their mission to defeat Ursula, restoring peace once her death comes into fruition.
Sebastian would appear in the official sequel, Kingdom Hearts II, where Ariel becomes infatuated with the human world, prompting the king to have Sebastian join Ariel in his orchestra for an upcoming concert. Sebastion does so, but getting Ariel's mind off the surface proves to be difficult, resulting in the king finding out Sebastian's efforts to follow orders have failed, much to the crab's dismay. Like in the film, Ariel goes to Ursula for assistance, leading into her human transformation, her romance with Eric, and finally having her father realize the human world isn't as bad as it seems.
Sebastian also plays a minor role in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
Other video games
Sebastian briefly appears in the Aladdin Sega Genesis video game as a prisoner in the level "Sultan's Dungeon".
In Disney TH!NK Fast, Sebastian appears as the guest questioneer in the Undersea Grotto. He asks a few questions about The Little Mermaid, and then leaves.
Sebastian appears in the Disney Parks as a meetable character and usually seen in parades and shows.
Sebastian makes meet and greet appearances at Christmastime in Disneyland Paris and took part in the Pirate and Princess Party.
A larger than life puppet for Sebastian was also featured for the Carnival of Color: the World of Color pre-show.
Sebastian makes a cameo appearance in the bubble sequence dancing to Under the Sea.
Sebastian appears in the opening sequence with Flounder and a band performing the song Under the Sea. Sebastian later reappears in the end celebrating Ariel and Eric's love for each other.
Sebastian is seen in the parade riding his chariot of seahorses while waving to the park guest as he did in the opening of the original film.
Sebastian is featured in the Walt Disney World interactive game. Here, Sebastian is the first to learn that Ursula was restored from her death by Hades and plots to rule the seas and flood the Magic Kingdom. Sebastian guides the park guests on a quest to defeat her alongside Merlin the Wizard in Fantasyland.
Sebastian has released two reggae albums for children under the Walt Disney Records label. Both of these were released on CD and audio cassette, and are well out of print, but at least one of the albums is available in the iTunes music store. The first was a self-titled release, featuring songs from The Little Mermaid, along with covers such as "Three Little Birds", and original tunes. Ariel herself appears in two tracks, along with the interstitials between tracks. The second, released in October 1991 is Sebastian: Party Gras! This album consists entirely of reggae covers of classic songs such as "Iko Iko", "Octopus's Garden", "Twist and Shout", and "What a Wonderful World", as well as a few original tunes.
- Sebastian's role is similar to that of Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio. They were both appointed to watch over innocent cheerful, but sometimes (unintentional) troublesome protagonists, and worry about getting into trouble if anything happens to him/her.
- Sebastian was originally intended to be almost Grimsby-like: posh, British, and uptight. However, the crew chose to portray a more entertaining, fun-loving Sebastian after they got Samuel E. Wright to voice him. Iago from Aladdin underwent a similar character transformation upon Gilbert Gottfried taking the role.
- Sebastian is the first Disney character to have a Jamacian accent.
- Sebastian probably has the longest name out of any Disney character.
- In the Aladdin TV series, Genie transformers into a crab that resembles Sebastian in the episode "Elemental, My Dear Jasmine."
- Samuel E. Wright, the one who voiced Sebastian, also voiced Kron from Dinosaur, and was the original Mufasa in the Broadway version of The Lion King.