The Little Mermaid
Character Ariel Giana Triton
Gender Female
Race Mermaid
Human (currently)
Occupation Princess of Atlantica (formerly)
Princess Consort of Eric's kingdom
Status Alive
Family Triton (father)
Athena (mother; deceased)
Eric (husband)
Melody (daughter)
Attina (older sister)
Alana (older sister)
Adella (older sister)
Aquata (older sister)
Arista (older sister)
Andrina (older sister)
Poseidon (paternal grandfather)
Neptune (paternal great-grandfather)
Crustacea (paternal grand-aunt)
enemies {{{enemies}}}
Friends Flounder, Sebastian, Scuttle, Max, Carlotta, Grimsby
Appearances The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid: The Series
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts II
Voice Actor Jodi Benson

Princess Ariel is a fictional character, a mermaid, and the protagonist of Disney's The Little Mermaid. She later appears in the film's prequel television series, the direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and the direct-to-video prequel, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning.

She is voiced by Jodi Benson in all the above animated material. Her character is based on the protagonist of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" story, but was developed into a different personality for the 1989 animated film adaptation. Her distinct appearance consists of the following: long, flowing red hair, blue eyes, a green mermaid tail, a white nappy and a purple seashell bra (bikini top). She is the first Disney Princess to have red hair (the second being Merida from the movie Brave). Ariel is one of the face characters at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Ariel is the first Disney Princess to be Scandinavian (the second and third being Anna and Elsa).


Ariel is a bright, spirited and headstrong mermaid 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, her friends, and in the confines of her personal life - as seen through her constant confrontations with her overprotective father, 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, 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 shown 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. Ariel is also shown to be 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, be they an abandoned killer whale, an irrationally feared sea creature and even the son of one of her nemeses is 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 her father, Ariel is short-tempered when provoked, although hers is not as bad as Triton's. 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 humans. 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 on many occasions to be serious, careful, and very intelligent and intuitive. In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ariel matures after becoming a mother. Due to the threat of Morgana, she becomes very overprotective of Melody in a similar manner to how she was treated by Triton in the first film. She is shown to long for the sea, but keeps this hidden from Melody for the latter's own safety; even though it would've been easier if she had explained everything to her, she even points this out in a later scene and at the film's climax. At one point, however, she does subtly allude 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. Her most notable trait, however, was her deep love and fascination for humanity, having desired to become human during the events of the first film, even prior to meeting her future husband, Eric. She did not always have this trait, however; until she was 15 years of age, she expressed a deep fear of humanity similar to Triton's xenophobia of humanity, although her witnessing some humans saving a beached dolphin changed her views on the matter. Ironically, one of the people responsible for saving the dolphin was Eric, although she never knew it.


The Little Mermaid

Main article: The Little Mermaid

As depicted in the 1989 film, Ariel is the youngest of King Triton's seven daughters, and is 16-years-old. Ariel has a vast fascination with the world of humans, despite contact being forbidden by her father, Triton, who hates humans. The beginning of the film shows Ariel salvaging human items, and taking them to Scuttle for identification. Ariel keeps them in a secret grotto as part of her collection, from books to other regular objects (such as globes, mugs and the like). During a storm, Ariel rescues Prince Eric, whose ship sinks. She sings to him on the shore, but is forced to leave when others approach. Ariel falls in love, and dreams of becoming human.

Ariel giving up her voice.

After an argument with her father regarding her love for the human world, Ariel goes to Ursula, the sea witch. In exchange for Ariel's voice, Ursula makes Ariel human. However, if she cannot get Eric to kiss her within three days, Ariel would become Ursula's prisoner. Unknown to Ariel, this is simply a part of Ursula's plot to take Triton's throne. Though she is unable to speak, and thus unable to identify herself, Eric takes Ariel in. Ariel and Eric begin to fall in love, but Ursula intervenes, by turning herself human and hypnotizing Eric with Ariel's voice. The hypnotized Eric plans to marry "Vanessa", actually Ursula in disguise. Ariel is able to stop the wedding, and regain her voice. But before Eric and Ariel can kiss, the third day ends and Ariel becomes Ursula's prisoner. Triton offers himself in Ariel's replacement, allowing Ursula to gain control over the sea. Ariel and Eric have a final showdown, during which Ariel is trapped and left helpless at the bottom of a whirlpool. Ursula aims her newly acquired trident at the princess and fires bolts of pure destruction at her. Ariel fearfully manages to avoid her painful demise each time and is saved by Eric.

King Triton giving Ariel legs.

At the end of the film, Ariel is made human by Triton, who has realized how much Ariel loves Eric. Ariel stays on land with Eric, and marries him. Ariel and Eric live happily ever after.

Ariel's theme song, which is referred to by Disney crew as the "I Want" song, is "Part of Your World", which she sings in her secret grotto proclaiming her fascination for human things. The song was originally going to be cut from the final film, due to the claim that it slowing the story down, but Howard Ashman reportedly fought to keep it in. A reprise of the song is featured a little later in the film when Ariel declares that she wants to become part of Prince Eric's world.

Prequel Television Series

Main article: The Little Mermaid (TV series)

PhpThumb generated thumbnail (1).jpg

The prequel series, which first debuted in 1991, takes place an indeterminate time chronologically before the 1989 film, and revolves around Ariel's adventures as a mermaid living under the sea. Most of Ariel's adventures involve her meeting various creatures, getting in trouble, and usually getting out of it successfully. Her friends Flounder and Sebastian are also featured prominently in the series. Ariel continues to be fascinated with human things in the series and is shown collecting items for her grotto. She can be deemed a magical character when using her father's trident and Ursula's potion bottles. Prince Eric is sometimes shown in the show, but Ariel always just misses seeing him, preserving the continuity that she sees him first in the 1989 film.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

Main article: The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

An older Ariel in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

An older, more mature version of Ariel, as seen in The Little Mermaid II. Ariel and her daughter Melody have certain similarities in terms of personality and appearance. The 2000 direct-to-video sequel shows Ariel as having given birth to a very beautiful baby girl named Melody. When Melody's safety is threatened by a sea witch named Morgana (sister of Ursula, who was killed in the 1989 film), Ariel and her husband Eric decide they must keep Melody from the sea, and to this effect, build a large wall separating the castle from it. Melody's love of the sea proves too strong, however, and when Melody falls into Morgana's clutches, Ariel is forced to temporarily resume in her mermaid form in order to rescue her. When Ariel finds Melody. When Melody, Tip, and Dash arrive at the surface, Morgana makes everyone bow down except Melody and Eric. After Morgana is defeated, Ariel is changed back into a human. This sequel features Ariel becoming an over-protective parent for her daughter, effectively taking over the role of her father in the previous film. As of 2009, Ariel is the only Disney Princess to have been depicted as becoming a mother. Ariel's hair is darker in this film.

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning

Main article: The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning

A younger Ariel in The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning

In the 2008 prequel set one year before the events of the film, an opening prologue shows Ariel as a very young mermaid, living a happy life with her father, King Triton, mother, Queen Athena and her six older sisters. After Athena is killed, a devastated King Triton bans all music from Atlantica. Ariel and her sisters grow up not knowing music and living under their father's strict rules. Ariel eventually discovers a secret underground club where music is played, and there she sings the song "I Remember", which helps her remember her distant past surrounded by love and music. Later (with assistance from Sebastian) Ariel finds her mother's music box and, after they have a showdown with Marina Del Rey, Triton changes his ways and allows music back into Atlantica.

Stage musical

Main article: The Little Mermaid (musical) 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, the original voice actor for Ariel, attended the musical's 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, 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", in which Ariel explores the human world for the first time, and "If Only", in which Ariel bemoans 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.

Sierra Boggess as Ariel on Broadway.

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", in which the pair dance together. In the climactic 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 and because it was easier to stage (and more dramatic).

Other appearances

Theme parks

Ariel makes regular appearances in the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, having a special location called Ariel's Grotto at most of them. Ariel also makes cameo appearances in Peter Pan's Flight at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and in It's a Small World at Hong Kong Disneyland. She also has a major role in Mickey's PhilharMagic and stars in her own live stage shows at Disney's Hollywood Studios (Voyage of the Little Mermaid) and Tokyo DisneySea (Mermaid Lagoon Theater). A dark ride based on the movie was designed for Disneyland Paris, but was never built, it has since been announced that a re-designed version of the attraction is to be built as part of the major expansion for Disney's California Adventure. She is also featured in Fantasmic! at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The Little Mermaid (NES game)

Main article: The Little Mermaid (video game) Taking place after Eric skewered Ursula in the original film, Ariel and Eric are planning to wed, but the sea-witch Ursula (somehow resurrected) 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. She can also dig through sand to find treasure and pick up sea shells to break chests open with. The treasure she finds in the sand is usually just bonus points, but the treasure you find in chests will increase your bubble's power and range. 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 2: Return to the Sea, when she dives off a much larger boat (Eric's lead fleet ship) rather than his rowboat in the NES game.

Kingdom Hearts series

Ariel in Kingdom Hearts

The Kingdom Hearts video-game series uses elements from various films in the Disney animated canon, integrating and reinterpreting the stories to fit into the game's plot as the playable characters travel into different kingdoms or "worlds". The 1989 The Little Mermaid film and the kingdom of Atlantica are included as part of the game play.

Kingdom Hearts

In the first game, Ariel's story is similar to the 1989 film, but in addition she's to deal with Ursula's attempt to use the Heartless to defeat King Triton. Ariel can be one of Sora's party members for this world. She encounters Sora as a merman (with a dolphin tail instead), Donald Duck as a male cecaelia, and Goofy as a sea turtle, who claim that they are from a distant ocean to protect the fact that they are from another world. She is the only Disney Princess featured in the game who is not one of the Princesses of Heart and also the only female fighter to join the party up until Mulan. Within the game, Ariel is duped by Ursula, who also reveals that Sora, Donald, and Goofy are in fact from another world, into giving up her father's trident. After Triton is injured by Ursula, Ariel helps Sora, Donald, and Goofy defeat her to atone for her mistakes. After Atlantica's keyhole is sealed, Sora apologizes to Ariel for lying about their origins, but she lets it slide, confident that, if they could find a way to travel to other worlds, then so can she.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

In this second game, Ariel is a character in Atlantica; but one in Sora's mind. Here, Ursula kidnaps Flounder and baits Ariel into stealing her father's trident. Ariel brings Ursula the trident, believing that Flounder has been taken to the human world, and learns the truth when she does. After helping Sora defeat Ursula, she resolves to tell her father what happened. She can be acquired as a Friend card after visiting the Key of Guidance room. Using the card causes her to swim across the arena, injuring any enemies she strikes.

Kingdom Hearts II

As in the first Kingdom Hearts, Ariel's story is almost a mirror of the 1989 film's plot. Songs in this world are "Swim This Way", "Part of Your World", "Under the Sea", "Ursula's Revenge", and "A New Day is Dawning". There are some slight changes from the film, among them being:

1. The musical numbers "Poor Unfortunate Souls" and "Kiss the Girl" are removed.2. The deal between Ursula and Ariel is made in the Courtyard instead of in Ursula's cave.3. Instead of Sebastian and Flounder pushing the human Ariel to the surface, Sora drags her to the top by himself.4. Ariel already has clothes on immediately after her human transformation. She is wearing the sail from the film. In the film, she is completely naked after the transformation.5. Eric throws the trident — as originally storyboarded for the film — to defeat Ursula. 6. Eric is conscious after Ursula is defeated, speaks with Ariel as a mermaid for a longer time, and eventually asks her if she'd teach him how to swim.

Ariel's transformation is not shown in the game. It starts with a little whirlpool going around Ariel. It then shows Sebastian and Flounder looking in shock. When it goes back to Ariel, she is shown drowning with her new legs and she is wearing the sail. Ariel is shown with her mouth open, trying to breath, and choking. She is trying to swim, but she only stays in one spot and she is only able to get her body to go forward and back. To keep from showing her waist, Ariel is mostly shown with her face and breast. As she is taken to the surface, Ariel is already unconscious. She wakes up in the night, on the beach, with Eric finding her. The song lyrics in "Under the Sea" and "A New Day is Dawning" are somewhat altered; Sora sings a significant portion of Sebastian's original lyrics of "Under the Sea", Ariel pays tribute to Sora, Donald, and Goofy while singing "A New Day is Dawning", and the KH version of "Under the Sea" features a short ballroom-like dance between Sora and Ariel.


Ariel in one of the books.

Kids Books

Disney has a number of little mermaid cartoon books for kids. Both the full version of the story and very short versions. There are a few differences in the books then they are in the movie. First, when Ariel becomes a human, her seashells come off and she is unconscious. In the books, she is shown wearing her seashells. She is shown full body but he knees blocks her waist from being shown. Ariel's bottom is not fully shown, but half of it is. She is still awake, but holding her breath. Second, when Ariel wakes up on the beach, Skuttle comes in and helps her put on a sail. In the book, Skuttle does not come out. Instead, Ariel is shown standing with only a small rock covering her vagina. Third, when Eric finds her, she is wearing a sail and is sitting on a rock. In the book, Ariel is hiding behind a rock but somehow, she is not wearing her shells. There two pictures for this; One which shows Eric's perspective, which shows Ariel's head above the rock, and from Ariel's perceptive which shows her sitting behind the rock. Her front side is not shown only her face and backside. It then says she gets up from the rock and tries to walk to Eric. Disney has also made digital story books of the little mermaid. These too have a difference from the movie. First is when Ariel gets her voice taken. In the movie, Ursula summons two hands that take Ariel's voice. In the book, Ariel leans back. When she then goes forward, her voice comes out. Second it the transformation. In the movie, Ariel is put into a bubble and her tail splits inside of it. In the book, Ariel is not placed into a bubble. Instead, the transformation happens out in the open. A light goes around Ariel's tail and splits it into her legs. As the transformation is happening, Ariel is shown panicking and screaming. As the transformation finishes, Ariel becomes unconscious. She is then carried to the surface by her friends. As she is being carried, the transformation finishes.

Disney Princess franchise

Ariel is one of the ten characters in the Disney Princess line, a prominent franchise directed to young girls. The franchise covers a wide variety of merchandise, including but not limited to magazines, music albums, toys, clothes and stationery. Ariel is usually depicted in her mermaid form on the merchandise, but also appears in human form wearing her blue dress, white wedding dress or pink dress. The Disney Princess magazine features comics and posters of Ariel, usually in mermaid form. Of all the Disney Princesses, Ariel is the only one who is originally not completely human to begin with, and the only one to have been depicted as having a child.

Other Disney media

In the 1995 film A Goofy Movie, the main characters stay in a motel that is decorated according to an oceanic theme, and the room lamps are in the shape of Ariel in her mermaid form, with red hair, purple shells and green tail. Ariel also makes a cameo appearance in the Roger Rabbit short Roller Coaster Rabbit on a sideshow poster at the carnival. One of the Lilo & Stitch movie trailers is including a scene from The Little Mermaid.

Music albums

Due to the success of the 1989 film, a series of music albums were released as part of Disney's The Little Mermaid franchise and featuring Jodi Benson singing in-character as Ariel. Among these albums are: Sebastian from The Little Mermaid - Ariel sings two full tracks, "Dancing Mood" and "Dance the Day Away", and provides supporting vocals in "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song). Splash Hits - This album features a few songs used in the prequel series and other original The Little Mermaid songs. Ariel sings about half the tracks on the album. Songs from the Sea - Features entirely original songs, and Ariel sings the majority of the tracks. Ariel is also included in the various albums that have been released as part of the Disney Princess franchise. The most prominent song for the franchise is "If You Can Dream", which features solos by most members of the Disney Princess group including Princess Jasmine, Cinderella, Princess Belle, Pocahontas, Princess Aurora, and Fa Mulan. Snow White has been excluded due to unknown reasons. Jodi Benson sings as Ariel in this line as well.

References in Non-Disney media

The character of Ariel has been referenced and parodied many times in various unrelated media, occasionally making unofficial "cameos". Some of these appearances are listed below.

  • The animated television series Futurama contains a few references to Ariel. In the episode "The Series Has Landed", a female robot called the Crushinator says "No, Daddy, I love him" to her father referring to Bender, a line which was uttered by Ariel towards her father in the film.
  • In the direct-to-video movie Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, when underwater, Babs Bunny sees a parody version of Ariel and some sea creatures singing a parody of "Under the Sea". Babs then says "Oops, wrong cartoon." before resurfacing.

    A parody version of Ariel in Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation.

    • The line is also used in the Seinfeld episode "The Bottle Deposit part 2" where Kramer discovers Newman being chased out of a farmhouse in Michigan by a farmer with a shotgun after it is revealed that Newman slept with his daughter, an act which the farmer forbade earlier in the episode. The daughter later responds with the phrase "No daddy, don't hurt him, I love him".
    • In the episode "The Deep South", the main characters' ship is dragged to the bottom of the ocean where the lead character, Fry, encounters a mermaid similar to the fashion in which Ariel first meets Prince Eric except certain situations reversed. The mermaid's name is Umbriel and she hails from the lost city of Atlanta. Of note, Ariel and Umbriel are both moons orbiting Uranus, named for two of the sylphs in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock.
  • In the episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on October 29, 2001, Reese Witherspoon dressed as a mermaid for a sketch. Her costume consisted of a colored tail fin, seashell bra, and red hair.
  • The webcomic Penny Arcade also makes a joke on this subject when Gabe remembers his younger "Undersea adventures" or, rather, his attempts at having them.
  • In the animated series Drawn Together, Princess Clara's appearance and personality is based on Princess Ariel all the way down to her relationship with her father, the King, who is nearly identical in appearance and personality to King Triton. Princess Clara is voiced by Tara Strong, who also voiced Ariel's daughter, Melody. Besides Clara, Ariel herself made two cameos in the show. The first was in the episode "Foxy vs. the Board of Education", where she was at a vet with a plastic ring set caught in her throat. The second was in the episode "Spelling Applebee's", in which she was one of Clara's friends, and ended up killed alongside Snow White and Aurora in the ending of the episode by Captain Hero. She was voiced by Tara Strong in the latter episode.
  • In the NES video game, Skate or Die 2, the girlfriend of the playable character, CJ, is based on Ariel in design.
  • In the episode Francine's Flashback of American Dad!, Stan goes on a fishing trip with his friends, who accidentally kill Ariel.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Hot Pocket-Dial", after Joe loses his legs while parasailing. Ariel then appears wishing she had legs, just as Joe's legs float towards her. Ariel then eats them claiming it was her fish part that wanted them.
  • In the American Dad episode "Francine's Flashback", Ariel dies in the water.
  • In the “Accidentally in Love” sequence in Shrek 2, a mermaid who looks like Ariel winds up on the shore kissing Shrek and Fiona throws her in the water, where she was (supposedly) devoured by sharks. She is the only princess in Shrek who resembles their Disney counterpart.


Ariel is one of Disney's most iconic animated characters, and her specific color combination of red hair, lavender sea shells and green tail make her distinctly identifiable. She has become an iconic character for children and young women to impersonate; some frequently donning home-made costumes of Ariel's green tail and seashell top, and seen swimming about in pools in amateur home videos on sites such as YouTube. Many amateur artists on art sites such as DeviantArt also model their own mermaids after Ariel, some claimed to be different characters though certainly inspired by her. Fan sites devoted to the iconic Disney princess are not uncommon; and there is even a bi-annual convention dedicated to her (and other TLM characters) called Ariel Con. Ariel is often considered the first Disney feminist as she plays a much bigger role in her story than the previous Disney heroines. Ariel is an official "ambassador" for the "Keep Our Oceans Clean" campaign by Environmental Defense, The National Maritime Sanctuary, and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric.


  • Her sisters say she's unpredictable.
  • Her hobbies are collecting gadgets, gizmos, whosits, whatsits and thingamabobs.
  • Her pet peeve is rules that don't make sense.
  • Her biggest fear is being told that something is impossible.
  • Her favorite colors are pink and blue.
  • Her favorite food is the surface food, called strawberries.
  • Her favorite genres of music are pop and jazz.
  • Her favorite musical instruments are violin, flute, and clarinet.