The Little Mermaid
Character Ursula
Gender Female
Race Cecaelia
Occupation Sea Witch
Status Deceased
Family Unnamed mother
Morgana (sister)
Uma (daughter)
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Friends {{{friends}}}
Appearances The Little Mermaid (film)
The Little Mermaid (TV series)
Kingdom Hearts II
Voice Actor Pat Carroll

Whoopi Goldberg (Descendants 2)

Ursula is a villainess who first appeared in the 1989 Disney film, The Little Mermaid as the main vilainess. She's voiced by Pat Carroll. Ursula is based on "herself" in the Hans Christian Anderson's story "The Little Mermaid". In the original story, she's a neutral enabler, but for Disney's adaptation, the character was modified into a full-fledged antagonist and lays a larger role in the overall story. Ursula is a sea witch who "helps" unfortunate merfolk by granting their wishes, but end up withering them into polyps for her gardens. Her appearance's an obese purple-skinned, white-haired female Cecaelian. Her character has been compared to "Madame Medusa" from The Rescuers" in terms of style, dramatics, and choice of minions.



During planning for the film, Ursula was not originally designed as a Cecaelia. It was thought that she would be another sea creature, such as a rockfish. The production team then saw a documentary about octopuses, and decided that their multiple arms and overall imposing appearance would be perfect for the character they were creating. Ursula is only drawn with six tentacles, due to the studio's budget and difficulty in coordinating eight tentacles. Her basic look was based on the drag queen performer Divine.

Pat Carroll, who was cast to voice Ursula, envisioned the character as "part Shakespearean actress, with all the flair, flamboyance and theatricality, and part used-car salesman with a touch of con artist". Carroll, who is a contralto, deliberately deepened her voice for the role.


Ursula as Vanessa

Ursula is a very dark and wicked villain. Despite this, she has a large sense of humor. Ursula is very manipulative and has a talent of making perfect sense and making great points when trying to strike a deal. Unlike many Disney Villains, Ursula puts her henchman Flotsam and Jetsam before anything and everyone else. Ursula treats the eels like kids and refers to them as "babies" or "poopsies". While the eels are crucified accidentally by Ursula no thanks to Ariel, she mourns and takes all of her fury and depression on Ariel and attempts to have her slaughtered once and for all.


The Little Mermaid

When Ursula first appears in the film, she states through monologue that she once lived in the royal palace of King Triton, the king of the underwater city of Atlantica. She was banished from Atlantica and made her home in the remains of a leviathan where she waits the chance to get her revenge on Triton and become Queen of Atlantica.

The entrance to Ursula's leviathan home is lined with a garden of writhing polyps which were merfolk who had previously gone to Ursula for help, but found themselves unable to fulfill their side of the bargain, leading Ursula to claim them as her own and added them to her collection. The garden of polyps are part of the original fairytale, but are simply guards of the way to the sea witch's home, and not condemned merfolk.

Ursula commands her minions, moray eels Flotsam and Jetsam, to watch Triton's youngest daughter Ariel. Opportunity arises when Ursula learns that Ariel has fallen in love with a human against Triton's explicit rules. Flotsam and Jetsam lure Ariel to Ursula's lair, claiming that only Ursula can help her.

Ursula proposes, via the song Poor Unfortunate Souls, an agreement where Ursula will transform Ariel into a human for three days, in which time she must receive a "kiss of true love" from Eric. If Ariel fails, she will be turned back into a mermaid and bound to Ursula for eternity. The price for the transformation is Ariel's voice. Ariel agrees and signs a magical contract, so her voice is magically pulled into Ursula's Nautilus shell necklace; causing Ursula to laugh gleefully as her plans begin to unfold as Ariel's tail is split into legs. In comparison, the original fairytale involves the sea witch taking the little mermaid's voice by cutting off her tongue (though since Disney is mostly child-appropriate, modifying this into something less gruesome is understandable), and her tail was transformed into legs by a magic potion which the mermaid was to drink on the beach surface.

When Ariel comes "too close" to succeeding in her task, Ursula takes the form of a beautiful human female with Ariel's voice in order to sabotage her relationship with Eric. Ursula adopts the name of "Vanessa", and when in this form, her voice is provided by Jodi Benson, who also voices Ariel. The concept of the beautiful dark-haired rival for the prince's affections is another plot point adapted and modified from the original fairytale.

As Vanessa, Ursula bewitches Eric to marry her, but the wedding is disrupted at the last minute and the Nautilus shell containing Ariel's voice is broken, breaking the enchantment and returning Ariel's voice back to her. However, the sun sets before Ariel and Eric can kiss and Ariel is restored to her mermaid form, and Ursula reveals herself and takes off with Ariel. Ursula, however, is confronted by King Triton, where she reveals her true goal, and forces Triton to choose between his freedom or his daughter's. Triton agrees to take Ariel's place, and Ursula takes the crown and magical trident, making her the Queen of the Seven Seas. Angered by being deceived and what became of her father, Ariel attacks Ursula. She is batted aside and Ursula prepares to destroy the mermaid, but then Eric joins the battle to save her. Ultimately Flotsam and Jetsam are destroyed accidentally when Ursula's aim is thrown off by Ariel pulling her hair to save Eric.

Seeking revenge on the princess, Ursula transforms to a giant monstrous size and creates a terrible storm in order to destroy Ariel. She spins the sea into a deadly whirlpool and starts to search for Ariel. Eventually Ursula finds the girl stranded on a rock and smiles as she destroys it, trapping the mermaid princess at the bottom of the whirlpool. Ursula smiles down wickedly at Ariel and shoots multiple bolts at the mermaid. Ariel just barely manages to evade each of the bolts but each was getting closer to hitting her. Ursula laughs evilly, enjoying toying with Ariel and prepares a powerful bolt that would destroy the princess for good. Before she can destroy Ariel, she is defeated by Prince Eric when he rams the bow of a ship into her stomach, killing her, saving Ariel in the last minute and releasing all the condemned merfolk.

In the 2006 Platinum DVD, deleted scenes revealed early concept ideas where Ursula is Triton's sister, making her Ariel's aunt. This concept was not used in the final film, but it was for the Broadway version.

The Little Mermaid (TV series)

Ursula appears as a recurring villain on the The Little Mermaid prequel television series. The episodes she appears in are "Against the Tide", "Tail of Two Crabs", "Heroes" and "Ariel's Treasures". In all of these episodes, she executes various plans to antagonize King Triton and take over Atlantica. In the first two episodes, interaction between Ariel and Ursula is kept at a minimum, but in the later ones, Ariel and Ursula face each other more directly.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

Ursula doesn't appear in this film, however a picture of her is shown on a wall of her sister Morgana's lair. She is also mentioned, mostly by Morgana.


Ursula as Arsulu (left)

Other materials were released as part of Disney's The Little Mermaid franchise, including books and comics, though these materials are arguably part of the animated canon.

In the first two issues of the official "The Little Mermaid" comic, Ursula appears briefly to negotiate with a race of eel-men for the carcass of a Leviathan which she would convert into the home seen in the 1989 film. In one of the Little Mermaid books (Reflections of Arsulu), she takes the form of a beautiful mermaid with blond hair and a red tail, naming herself Arsulu (an anagram of her original name) in order to gain entry to Atlantica, where she causes a great deal of discord. Ursula frequently appears in Ariel's comics in the Disney Princess magazines, often in a villainous role. In the Disney Press book "The Villain Files", it is implied that Ursula is Ariel's aunt, a concept that is based on the abandoned story concept of the 1989 film.

Hercules and the Bacchanal

Ursula (or at least a character based on her) appears in the Hercules: Animated series as she tries to sell perfume to Hercules and Hermes.

Kingdom Hearts

Ursula as she appears in Kingdom Hearts Ursula was one of Maleficent's followers, and assisted by lending the powers of the ocean. With Ursula's help, the Heartless entered Atlantica. Ursula tricked Princess Ariel into helping her steal the Trident from King Triton so that she could see other worlds. Ursula didn't keep her end of the deal - she did threaten Ariel to enter into the dark world of the Heartless, giving herself into darkness in the progress, but failed when Sora and company came to King Triton's palace. She disappeared in ink with the Trident in her possession. Ariel joined Sora, Donald, and Goofy to confront her in her lair to get the Trident back. Once they arrived, she, Flotsam and Jetsam battled them. In the end, Flotsam and Jetsam were defeated, and Ursula swore revenge. She disappeared once again, and Sora and friends found Ursula in a large, scary, empty trench. She used the power of the trident and darkness to transform into giant, Sora and friends battled her once again. She wielded powerful Thunder magic. However, Ariel, Sora and friends defeated her and she vanished into darkness.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

Ursula makes an appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as a figment of Sora's memories.

Kingdom Hearts II

Revived by the powers of darkness, Ursula returned in Kingdom Hearts II without the Heartless and Maleficent on her side. She told Ariel that she could help her be with Prince Eric, by turning Ariel herself into a human (a spell that only lasted for three days). Ariel agreed, and signed a contract with Ursula which stated that: if Ariel was able to kiss Eric before the sunset of the third day, then she could stay human forever, but, if she didn't obtain a kiss, she would turn back into a mermaid and belong to Ursula. After Ariel signed the contract, Ursula took Ariel's voice (the price for Ursula's spell) and turned the princess into a human girl.

After a battle, Sora knocked the Trident out of Ursula's hand and it landed on the boat which Prince Eric was on. He then threw it at Ursula and the Trident went through her chest in a beam of light, defeating her once more. The battle against Ursula in Kingdom Hearts II is a staged performance in song.


When The Little Mermaid was on Broadway, Sherie Rene Scott originated the role of Ursula. After her contract expired, Heidi Blickenstaff took over. Then, topping it off, Faith Prince ended.

Ursula got three new songs. "I Want The Good Times Back", "I Want The Good Times Back Reprise", and "Poor Unfortunate Souls Reprise". "I Want The Good Times Back" was actually thought of by Sherie. The song was supposed to be "Wasting Away".

Here, Ursula is Triton's sister and Ariel's aunt.

Descendants 2

Ursula is heard in Descendants 2 as Uma’s mother.

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