|Race||Mermaid, later Human|
|Occupation||Princess, later Queen|
|Family|| King Triton (father) |
Queen Athena (mother; deceased)
Prince Eric (husband)
Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista, and Andrina (sisters)
Poseidon (paternal grandfather)
Neptune (paternal great-grandfather)
Crustacea (paternal grandaunt)
|Appearances|| The Little Mermaid (film) |
The Little Mermaid (TV series)
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
Kingdom Hearts II
|Voice Actor||Jodi Benson|
Appearance and Personality
Ariel's original design was developed by animator Glen Keane, who reportedly said in an animation lecture that was based on his own wife. Ariel's appearance was also based on actress Alyssa Milano, who was 16 at the time; and female model Sherri Stoner, who provided live-action references for the animators during the development of the film. A challenge in animating Ariel for the 1989 film was the color required to show Ariel in the changing environments, both under the sea and on land, for which the animators required thirty-two color models, not including costume changes, and her changing forms from mermaid to human. They not only had to draw a mermaid with purple seashells, but a naked sixteen year old human girl as well. The blue-green color of Ariel's fin was arguably a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab; the color was named "Ariel" after the character. Jodi Benson, who was predominantly a stage actress when she was cast, was the choice 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 stated that Benson's voice had "sweetness" and "youthfulness" that was unique. When recording the vocals for Ariel's theme song "Part of Your World", Benson reportedly asked that the lights in the studio be dimmed, so to create the feeling of being deep under the sea.
The Little Mermaid
- Main article: The Little Mermaid (film)
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.
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 aquired 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. 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)
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.
- Main article: The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
The 2000 direct-to-video sequel shows Ariel as having given birth to a 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, Morgana kidnaps her and takes her to the surface. When there, she wraps her tentacles around her. 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.
- Main article: 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 bands 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.
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.
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 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 and because it was easier to stage (and more dramatic).
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
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.
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.
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 knee 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 some how, she is not wearing her shells. There two pictures for this; One which shows Eric's perpestive, which shows Ariel's head above ther 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.
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.
- 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 "Foxxy 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 looses 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.
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. Fansites devoted to the iconic Disney princess are not uncommon; and there is even an bi-annual convention dedicated to her (and other TLM characters) called ArielCon. 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.