[[quoteright:290:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The-Little-Mermaid-Poster.jpeg]]
[[caption-width-right:290:Somewhere under the sea and beyond your imagination is an adventure in fantasy.]]

->''"I donít know when''\\
''I donít know how''\\
''But I know somethingís starting right now''\\
''Watch and youíll see''\\
''Someday Iíll be''\\
''Part of your world!"''

Entry #28 in the Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon, from 1989.

This movie is widely considered to be the start of the animated feature film renaissance of the 1990s, particularly for Disney. A loose adaptation of Creator/HansChristianAndersen's TearJerker FairyTale "Literature/TheLittleMermaid", it features a mermaid named Ariel, one of the daughters of the Sea King, Triton. Apparently unique among her kind, she is fascinated by [[TheOutsideWorld the human world]], although Triton has [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters a hatred for humans]] that makes pursuing her interest quite difficult. One night, a forbidden visit to the surface leads her to fall in LoveAtFirstSight with human Prince Eric, and she ends up rescuing him when his ship is destroyed in a storm. Now desperate [[PinocchioSyndrome to become a human]], she agrees to [[DealWithTheDevil barter her voice to the sea witch]] Ursula to become a human for three days; if she can receive TrueLovesKiss from him within that time, she'll be permanently human. Otherwise, she will be Ursula's slave. Indeed, Ursula is actually manipulating her to turn her into ransom for Triton's crown, and she knows that the only thing Eric remembers about Ariel is her beautiful, beautiful voice...

The surprise hit of the 1989 holiday season, it won Best Song and Score Oscars, and placed Disney securely back on top of the animated film business.

Spinoffs and sequels include:
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLittleMermaid'': a Creator/{{CBS}} Saturday morning {{prequel}} series (1992)
* ''Disney/TheLittleMermaidIIReturnToTheSea'': a DirectToVideo {{sequel}} (2000)
* ''The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning'': a DTV {{prequel}} (2008).

The characters also figure in the ''KingdomHearts'' video game series, and other tie-in merchandise and media appearances are going strong with Ariel as an official DisneyPrincess. A stage musical adaptation was launched in 2007, and a Ride/{{Disney Theme Park|s}} dark ride debuted at Disney California Adventure in 2011.

A [[ThreeDMovie Disney Digital 3-D]] re-release was slated for September 2013, however, it has been canceled.
----
!!The film shows examples of the following tropes:
* AccidentalPublicConfession: "Humans? Who said anything about humans?"
* ActionGirl: Ariel was the first DisneyPrincess to take action and actually do her own rescuing. In the stage musical, [[spoiler: SHE'S the one who kills Ursula, not Eric]]!
* AdaptationalAttractiveness: Ursula's character design in the stage musical is less "overweight drag queen", and in the original cast, she was played by Sherie Renee Scott.
* AdaptationDyeJob: All of Ariel's sisters had blue eyes in the original film. In the prequel, most of the girls' eye colors change.
* AdaptationPersonalityChange: Literally, as in 2 mermaids change personalities -- The most distinguishing traits of Andersen's heroine were that she was thoughtful, quiet, and pensive (quite unlike Ariel), and one of her sisters is actually said to be by far the most daring and boldest of the family (quite like Ariel).
* AdaptationalVillainy: In the original fairy tale by Creator/HansChristianAndersen, the Sea Witch is a TrueNeutral character with no agenda and no animosity towards anyone; while she makes the same deal with the unnamed mermaid, she warns her of the consequences presented by the transformation and even offers her a way out at her sisters' request.
* AdaptedOut: The little mermaid's grandmother, who helped the sea king raise his daughters after their mother died in the original story.
* {{Adorkable}}: Ariel while exploring dry land.
* AdultFear:
** King Triton had to deal with the aftermath of his youngest daughter Ariel running away after having a huge and violent argument with her. His words [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone "What have I done?"]] certainly brings the trope home.
** After the third movie of the series [[spoiler: we're made aware that King Triton not only believes humans are a threat to mermaids and mermen, but he holds them responsible for the death of Ariel's mother: his own wife]]. And while he was just trying to keep his youngest daughter safe, he throws her in the hands of his worst enemy and the kind of people he despises most with a single stroke.
* AlliterativeFamily: Alana, Adella, Aquata, Attina, Arista, Andrina, and Ariel.
** And their mother, Athena.
* AlmostKiss: Twice.
* AltoVillainess
* AmazingTechnicolorPopulation: Alana, Adella, Aquata, Attina, Arista, Andrina and Ariel ''all'' have different tail-colors. They're like an all-female underwater {{Sentai}}.
* AmazingTechnicolorWildlife
* AmbitionIsEvil: Ursula in the original film, Morgana in ''Return to the Sea'' and Marina Del Ray in ''Ariel's Beginning''.
* AndIMustScream: Ursula's "garden" is made of former merfolk, now helpless, voiceless polyps, whom she transformed after they made near-impossible "deals" with her.
* AnimalEyeSpy: Ursula with her eels.
* AnimalTalk: The majority of the marine animals.
* AnimationBump: Ariel in the hands of Glen Keane. During "Part of Your World" and its reprise, as well as the first meeting between Eric and Ariel [[spoiler: after she's traded away her voice]], the level of detail is noticeably higher, especially in her hair.
* ArtEvolution: This was the last Disney film to use traditional hand-painted animation cels. All subsequent Disney films were produced in digital ink-and-paint. Two scenes in ''Little Mermaid'' were done with digital ink-and-paint, however. They are Ariel running down the stairs before finding out about Vanessa (to accommodate the CGI stair background) and the wedding scene at the end.
* [[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever Attack Of the 50 Foot Sea Monster]]: Ursula in the climax.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: Prince Eric, master of [[CarFu Ship Fu]].
* AxCrazy: Ursula may have had some sanity to manipulate factors in her favor, but Vanessa, Ursula's disguise? Hoo boy, is she a complete nutcase. Just look at her actions during "Vanessa's song" as well as her reactions when the attack of the animals occurred, and you'll see how she's become completely insane.
* BadassNormal: Prince Eric.
* BadlyBatteredBabysitter: Sebastian's part in the movie is a fleshed out version of this plot. The fact that his charge is 16 does not make things any easier.
* BadSamaritan: Ursula.
* BareYourMidriff: By default.
* BenevolentBoss: Ursula, which is unusual for a Disney villain. Subverted in the TV series, though.
* BeYourself
* BerserkButton: Don't say anything about humans around King Triton.
** An even bigger one is harming his daughters. Just try to do so and [[PapaWolf you'll be in a world of hurt because he will go absolutely ape-shit.]]
** Also, do NOT do anything to harm [[MamaBear Ursula]]'s "poor little poopsies" Flotsam and Jetsam. She will grow into a [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever giant octopus woman]] and hunt you down.
* BigBad: Ursula.
* BigFriendlyDog: Prince Eric's dog, Max.
* BigGood: King Triton.
* BigNo: From Ariel, when [[spoiler: her collection's destroyed]] and Ursula, when [[spoiler: Eric's about to kiss Ariel]].
* BitchInSheepsClothing: "Vanessa".
* BittersweetEnding: Ariel goes off to be with Eric but leaves her father and sisters behind. However, they still apparently do keep in touch, and compared to the original story's ending, this is quite mild.
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: King Triton's daughters are four dark-haired girls (Aquata, Attina, Adella, and Alana), two blondes (Arista and Andrina), and one redhead (Ariel).
* {{Bowdlerise}}: This happens in the Scandinavian version.
* {{Brainwashed}}: Ursula-as-"Vanessa" does this to Eric to torture Ariel.
* BrickJoke: The "dinglehopper".
* BuffySpeak: Ariel is foreign enough to human life to call her collections "thingamabobs", "whatsits", "whosits" and "gizmos". It's implied that she learned them all from Scuttle, who is no scholar himself.
* CallARabbitASmeerp: Scuttle, the supposed "expert" on human culture, has no actual clue about the intended purposes of the objects Ariel brings him to identify, and simply assigns them made-up names and makes his best guess as to their proper use, with the result that Ariel calls a dinner fork a "dinglehopper" and uses it as a comb, and believes a pipe is a musical instrument called a "snarfblatt". Though, oddly, she knows to put the fork together with the knife and spoon in her treasure trove.
* TheCameo: Easy to miss, but [[http://ruinedchildhood.com/post/24507858116/uwaah-neekcreep-partylikeaprostitute can you find Mickey, Donald and Goofy?]]
** A little symbol of Mickey can be seen like a crest on Ursula's MagicallyBindingContract.
* CaveMouth: The front door of Ursula's lair is the mouth of a sea-dragon.
* CensorShadow: After Ariel is transformed into a human, she's in the shadows before she leaves Ursula's lair. However, you can still see her butt, and in between her legs for a few frames clearly.
* ChekhovsSkill: Eric piloting (or at least attempting to) his ship in the hurricane.
* ClothingDamage: Eric loses his boots in the ocean ''twice'' in the film (when Ariel rescues him from drowning, and later after defeating Ursula), and his pant legs get torn. It's worth noting though that in real life, it is ''very'' difficult for boots to come off in water.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Scuttle.
** Arguably Ariel herself, especially compared to the other Disney Princesses and the other merfolk. Her family would have thought she was out there for having an interest in land, and what other Disney Princess is a CollectorOfTheStrange?
* CollectorOfTheStrange: Ariel, who collects many items considered mundane to humans but strange to merfolk.
* CompellingVoice: How Ursula brainwashes Eric. Special mention must be made to the fact that it isn't even ''her'' voice that brainwashes him but his love interest's, Ariel.
* CompositeCharacter: In the original fairy tale, there's a sea witch who gives the mermaid her legs and a human princess whom the prince marries; Ursula combines them both, along with AdaptationalVillainy.
* ConspicuousCG: The staircase Ariel runs down to find Eric and Vanessa.
* CrystalBall: Ursula has a bubble that serves as this. It's also heavily implied that Flotsam and Jetsam's eyes act as this.
* CurtainClothing: Ariel attempts to make a dress from a sail on a wrecked ship. The result is more comical than anything.
* CuteButCacophonic: "Vanessa", once she loses possession of Ariel's voice.
* CuteMute: Ariel when she loses her voice.
* CutSong: Eric's "Her Voice", pieces of which can be heard throughout the score as sort of his theme. The musical puts it back in. "Silence is Golden" was an early song for Ursula, cut because the creators didn't like it. The musical has this trope in spades "Where I Belong" (Eric) and Ursula's reprise of "Her Voice" were cut after the tryout in Denver. 3 cut songs that still got to the public, via leaked demo tape are: "Wasting Away", "All Good Things Must End" and an alternate version of "Poor Unfortunate Souls (Reprise)". There are several the public has never heard, among them are: "The World Above", "That Oughta Show Her" and a reprise for it, and "Ursula's Incantation II."
* DeadpanSnarker: Grimsby.
* DealWithTheDevil: Ariel trades her voice to Ursula to be human. Ursula actually specializes in this kind of deal and has a "garden" full of merfolk who were turned into polyps when they weren't able to fulfill the terms of their contracts. Ironically, listen to the lines "This one longing to be thinner, that one wants to get the girl" - it seems the two examples Ursula gave [[TwiceShy already wanted each other; what they lacked was self-confidence]]. In the musical, Ursula's contracts had all the attributes of a literal DealWithTheDevil:
-->'''Ariel:''' And if I don't?\\
'''Ursula:''' [[BlatantLies Nothing drastic darling, I'm sure]]. Oh, look, [[ReadTheFinePrint small print]]. [[FateWorseThanDeath Your soul is mine forever and you're doomed to spend the eternity in my watery hell-soaked lair]]. Lawyers, don't you just love 'em?!
* DecompositeCharacter: Andersen's little mermaid only had five sisters; Ariel has six.
* DepthDeception: Scuttle sees Ariel through a spyglass from the wrong end, and shouts to her as if she were far away, even though she is actually a few inches in front of him. When she moves the spyglass away, Scuttle exclaims, "Whoa, what a swim!"
* DespotismJustifiesTheMeans: Ursula's plans to rule, had she ruled as Queen of the Sea long enough.
* {{Determinator}}: Ariel with her desire to be human and marry Eric and Eric's desire to marry the girl who saved his life.
* DidYouGetANewHaircut: Scuttle asks Ariel this after she is turned into a human the first time, then if she had new seashells. Sebastian replies with "she's got LEGS, you idiot!"
** As Scuttle's doing this, '''[[FunnyMoment he's standing on her legs and leaning on her toes!!!]]''' She's even bobbing him up and down by kicking her leg slightly, trying to clue him in.
* [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu Did You Just Impale Ursula?]]
** It is based on the end of ''[[CthulhuMythos The Call of Cthulhu]]''.
* DidntThinkThisThrough: Ariel suffers from this ''twice''. First, she lets Ursula turn her into a being that can't breathe water ''while she's at the bottom of the sea.'' Secondly, she doesn't consider how she's going to get Eric to fall in love with her if she can't, you know, '''speak.'''
* DigitalDestruction: On early pressings of the Diamond Edition Blu-Ray, the ending of the "Part of Your World" sequence plays differently than it originally did. Instead of cutting from Ariel reaching her hand out towards the surface, to her floating back down onto a rock, it cuts from Ariel reaching out, to Flounder looking sad. Also, the scene transition when Ariel and Flounder go to visit Scuttle has changed from a dissolve to a cut. (See the DigitalDestruction entry for more.)
** When Ariel is first transformed into a human, despite the scene being shadowy, much of Ariel's nude lower body could be seen if one lightened the colors on their monitor. However, on the Diamond Blu Ray print, they deliberately darkened the shadows so Ariel is more in silhouette after her transformation, rendering her butt and the area in between her legs impossible to see, no matter how bright the color on your monitor is.
*** Is that really such a bad thing? It is a kid's movie after all.
* {{Disneyfication}}: The BittersweetEnding of the book is now a clear happy ending.
* DisneyDeath: Ariel gets this in the prequel.
* DisneyPrincess
* DisneyVillainDeath: Averted quite horrifically for a kid's film. To put it simply, Flotsam and Jetsam were electrocuted and disintegrated by a misfire from the Trident, and Ursula was [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice impaled by a broken bow of the ship]], electrocuted due to the Trident's blast backfiring on her, sinking, and then exploding. In both cases, the animators even went as far as to detail all of their pieces sinking down to the ocean floor. In fact, only one character, Ariel, actually ended up falling down a very huge height, and she survived.
* DoesNotLikeShoes: There are more shots of human Ariel with clearly bare feet than clearly wearing shoes.
* DoNotDoThisCoolThing: According to WordOfGod, Ariel's fascination with the human world (at least partially) actually came out of her father's strict ''forbidding'' of it.
* DramaticallyMissingThePoint: When Flounder tries to defend Ariel and tells about how they were chased by a shark ''which could have killed both of them'', Triton's response is fairly lackadaisical. But, the second Flounder accidentally lets it slip that they went to the surface, [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotHeinous Triton goes apeshit.]]
* DrivesLikeCrazy: Never, ever let Ariel drive your horse-drawn carriage (unless she learned better since then).
* EarthShatteringKaboom: King Triton blows up the model of the planet Earth in Ariel's lair, along with the rest of Ariel's human things (it's something he quickly regrets).
* EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette: Vanessa certainly qualifies.
* EightiesHair: Ariel. Doubly impressive in that her hair is like that when she's out of the water and sopping wet. Not even the power of the ocean can defeat THAT volume. Underwater... well, hair spreads out underwater. This is why female scuba divers keep theirs short.
* EvenTheDogIsAshamed
* EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses
* EverythingsBetterWithSparkles: When Triton returns Ariel to human form, she emerges from the sea before Eric in a sparkling silver dress.
* EvilCounterpart / EvilTwin: Vanessa, Ursula's disguise, even without Ariel's voice, greatly resembles Ariel herself, albeit overall much darker.
* EvilDetectingDog: Max can smell something wrong with Ursula when she's in the Vanessa-disguise (she probably smells like octopus and whatever those things are that she eats). Between that and his knowing who actually saved Eric...
* EvilEyebrows: Ursula.
* EvilLaugh: Ursula does one about every five minutes.
* EvilOverlooker
* ExcessiveEvilEyeshadow: Ursula and her sister Morgana.
* {{Expy}}: Blink-and-you'll-miss-it, but the three washerwomen that wash Ariel's sail "dress" and gossip bear quite a strong resemblance to the three witches from Disney's version of Disney/TheBlackCauldron, though with normal skin tones and no warts.
** One counts as a double Expy in this case as she's also the kitchen woman from Disney/TheSwordInTheStone
* {{Facepalm}}: Ariel during Scuttle's "little romantic stimulation"
* FairyTale
* FairytaleWeddingDress: Ariel's dress with the poofy sleeves.
* FallingInLoveMontage: Ariel and Eric touring the kingdom.
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath:
** Flotsam and Jetsom get hit by a stray blast from the trident, and explode into tiny fragments of flesh, bone and eyes. [[PetTheDog And since Ursula actually loved them]], [[MamaBear this winds up pissing her off]].
** [[spoiler:Ursula's death. Eric comes up from behind her using a sunken ship and [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice rams the mast through her stomach with the point sticking out of her back]], while being shocked by the power of the trident, seeing [[XRaySparks her skeleton flashing a few times]] before sinking into the sea and disintegrating. You can even see her pieces sinking to the ocean floor]].
** The original draft of the above scene originally had Eric wrestle the trident from her long enough to "oblige" her when she demands he give it back... by tossing it right through her heart (This scene was Re-used in the second KingdomHearts game).
* FanDisservice: [[VillainousGlutton Ursula's]] JiggleShow during "[[VillainSong Poor Unfortunate Souls]]".
** The elderly preacher's ''[[UnfortunateCharacterDesign knees]]'', way more so.
* {{Fanservice}}: Ariel naked when she becomes human, and as a mermaid, she (and her fellow merpeople) show a lot of skin: the women wear only a SeashellBra, and the men go bare-chested.
** Ursula does a LOT of shaking in the "[[VillainSong Poor Unfortunate Souls]]" scene...there's even a close up as she shimmies.
* FantasticRacism: King Triton toward humans. When Ariel points out that he's judging Eric without knowing him, he declares "Know him?! I don't have to know him! They're all the same!"
** Exposition removed from the original movie, but added back into the musical and the prequel, reveals that Ariel's mother was killed by humans (well, ran over by a pirate ship), making Triton's paranoia about them ''somewhat'' more sympathetic.
** Furthermore, he says that in anger when his youngest, somewhat favourite daughter, had just professed her love for an unknown human being and her wish to leave home (possibly forever) to stay with him. Cue AdultFear here: you're a single father of a bunch of girls. Someone killed their mother when the youngest, the one who resembles her the most, was naught than a little girl. She grows to be an happy, adjusted but somewhat ditsy, fine teenager, and one day she gets home in love with someone. You're just overjoyed, proud of the job you did without your beloved wife around... and then your daughter loudly proclaims she has falled in one with someone you believe the cause of every affliction in your life, coming from the same background of the ones killing your own wife, who'll treat your little girl no one knows how and who'll never, ever let you keep protecting her.
* FantasticSlurs: To go with King Triton's FantasticRacism towards humans, humans are referred as "Fish-eaters"
* FeatherFingers: Notable in that the fish characters avert the "fish can walk on their tailfins" subtrope until the "Under the Sea" number, where it looks awkward. Scuttle doesn't exactly avoid the TropeNamer either.
* FeeFiFauxPas - Ariel, at her first dinner with Eric, uses a dinglehopper (a fork) to comb her hair (based on faulty information provided by Scuttle the seagull). She also grabs Grimsby's pipe and blows into it believing that it is a snarfblatt, which Scuttle blows like a trumpet.
* FieryRedhead: Ariel.
* FineYouCanJustWaitHereAlone: "You can just stay here and watch for sharks."
* FishOutOfWater: Ariel's a near-literal example.
* FlowerInHerHair: Ariel, moments before and during "Under The Sea".
* FourthDateMarriage
* FreezeFrameBonus: After Ariel's transformation, as Sebastian and Flounder begin rushing her to the surface, there are a few frames where you can see Ariel's butt, and the area between her legs.
* {{Gainaxing}}: Ursula, of all characters, got an inordinate amount of time spent on her to make sure she jiggled realistically.
* GiantPoofySleeves: Ariel's wedding dress.
* GardenOfEvil: Ursula's garden of polyps at the entrance of her cave.
* GlamourFailure: Scuttle discovers Vanessa is actually Ursula when he sees the reflection she casts in a mirror.
* GondorCallsForAid: Scuttle gets an army of fish, ducks, flamingos, crabs, dolphins, seals, and [[RuleOfFunny starfish]] to help him crash Vanessa's wedding.
* GorgeousGarmentGeneration
* GotVolunteered: Sebastian ends up with the thankless job of keeping tabs on Ariel in the middle of a rant about how ''he'd'' make sure she stayed in line if she were his daughter.
* GracefulLadiesLikePurple: Ariel's seashell bra, and her dress in the sequel are purple.
* GrassIsGreener: "Betcha on land they understand/Bet they don't... reprimand their daughters..."
** In "Under the Sea", Sebastian points out, "The seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake..."
* HappilyMarried: Ariel and Eric, from the end of the first movie and into the sequel.
* HeelRealization: Sebastian, twice; [[spoiler:after he spills Ariel's secret, leading to the destruction of her 'collection', and after he tries to coerce her into trying to go back on Ursula's deal]]. He helps Ariel in her mission wholeheartedly after the second time.
* HeroesLoveDogs: And will nearly die for them.
* HeroesWantRedheads
* HoldYourHippogriffs:
** "You're not getting cold fins (feet) now, are you?"
** "You are such a guppy (baby/chicken)!"
** "You give them an inch, they'll swim (walk) all over you."
** "The seaweed (grass) is always greener / In somebody else's lake (lawn)!"
** "Someone needs to nail that girl's fins (feet) to the floor."
** "It's time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles (hands)!"
* HollywoodKiss: Ariel and Eric.
* HonestJohnsDealership: As seen and heard in "Poor Unfortunate Souls", Ursula has been known to make these kinds of deals with others.
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: Whilst Triton is extremely harsh in the way he tried to cut down Ariel's human obsession the fact remains is that he has some extremely good reasons for trying to protect his daughter. Warfare, pollution and the stuffed crab Sebastian runs into are all perfect examples of this.
** Not to mention all the hundreds of diseases that a Mermaid's human half could potentially contract from humans: syphilis, smallpox and plague would fit the general setting of this film (approximately the 16th to 17th century given the look of the ships).
*** The prequel gives the best reason of all for his actions -- [[spoiler: his wife was killed by a human ship]].
* HypnoTrinket: The shell containing Ariel's voice. Inverted in that it is Ursula who is wearing it and using it to manipulate Eric, rather than the usual case of the antagonist placing it on the victim.
* HypocriticalSinging: "Poor Unfortunate Souls" in a slight variation. Ursula, while trying to get Ariel to make a deal with her, sings about how she uses her powers to help people. Of course, these deals are always a lot more profitable to ''her'' than to any of her beneficiaries, mainly because she goes out of her way to ensure that those under contract can't hold up their end of the bargain.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: Again, Ursula's death.
* InkSuitActor: Scuttle and his voice actor, the late Buddy Hackett. Hackett had his wife take photos of his face as he tried to make seagull-esque expressions in preparation for the role, and it seems the animators used those photos as reference material.
** Subverted with Ursula, although just barely. Her design was based on Divine, and apparently was actually intended to be voiced by Divine, but he died before he could lend the voice.
** Ariel's face and movements were heavily modelled on her voice actress, the very redheaded Jodi Benson. Even twenty years later, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cgsb87-X1Sc the resemblance is incredibly striking.]]
** And we can't forget Sherri "Slappy Squirrel" Stoner, who served as the main physical model for Ariel. That little lip-biting thing Ariel does on occasion? That's all Sherri.
* InnocentFanserviceGirl: Ariel. When she first becomes human, the only thing she's wearing is her SeashellBra. Not having much knowledge of clothes, who knows how much longer she would have went naked without care if Scuttle hadn't given her that old sail.
* ImprovisedClothes: Ariel's first dress is an old sail strategically tied up with rope.
* ItRunsInTheFamily: Ariel sees Triton as an overprotective, suffocating father unable to understand her needs and desires and spends her adolescence trying to find a way to reach her dreams and defy his authority, despite loving him dearly. But then, Ariel manages to reach her dreams, have her father accept her as an adult, marry her sweetheart... and becomes the tormented mother of a rebellious daughter believing her to be overprotective, suffocating, unable to understand her needs and desires, who spends her entire adolescence trying to find a way to reach her dreams and defy her authority, despite loving her mother as much as she loved his father. On the other side, Triton is a loving, doting father trying to shelter her daughter for every perceived threat... as Ariel becomes a similar, if not equal, parental figure for her own daughter. Seems that genetics conspire to turn every rebellious teen in Triton's family into an adult MamaWolf or PapaBear as soon as the biological clock starts ticking.
* IWantSong: "Part Of Your World" in the original and "Her Voice" in the musical.
* IWillFindYou: Eric's intention when Ursula drags Ariel back to the sea.
* {{Jailbait}}: Ariel has just turned sixteen at the start of the movie, but no one makes any issue of her getting married what is presumably just weeks later. Possibly because she's royalty.
* KickTheDog: In human form, Ursula kicks Max -- and he comes back to bite her in the butt.
* KnowNothingKnowItAll: Scuttle claims to be an expert on humans but thinks forks are combs called "dinglehoppers", and smoking pipes are musical instruments called "snarfblats".
* LargeHam: Ursula has a few of these moments. Whoo boy, whoever said "Right, Ursula is nuts, so we want you to go '''''ABSOLUTELY CRACKERS!"''''' to Pat Carroll made the '''best decision ever'''; here's the proof - '''"[[VillainSong YOU POOR, UNFORTUNATE SOOOOOOUUULLLLLLLL!!!!!]]"'''. For a better example, actually '''watch the song'''; wow! Disney went crackers... and it worked.
** Louie the chef. "Come out, you little pipsqueak and '''''FIGHT LIKE A MAN!!'''''"
*** "Hee, hee, hee! Ho, ho ho!"
** You could say even Sebastian falls under this, too: "Well, [the concert] WAS RUINED! THAT'S ALL! COMPLETELY DESTROYED! (dramatic) This concert was to be the pinnacle of my distinguished career... (enraged) NOW THANKS TO YOU I AM THE LAUGHINGSTOCK OF THE ENTIRE KINGDOM!!!"
* LaughingMad: Although Ursula usually does {{Evil Laugh}}s, her laughter when gloating about her inevitable victory as Vanessa is closer to LaughingMad.
* {{Leitmotif}}: Used and subverted. Normally it's a good thing to hear Ariel's Voice, but in the scene when Eric throws his flute into the sea and seems ready to marry voiceless Ariel, hearing that song turns into an OhCrap moment for the audience.
* LetterMotif: Ariel and all of her sisters have the same first initial -- as did their mother. (See ThemeNaming, below.)
* LimbSensationFascination: One of the most important events is Ariel's transformation into a human. The film focuses briefly on her feet and how she's excited to have toes she can wriggle.
* LittleNo: Ariel, after Ursula turns Triton into a polyp and picks up the crown and the trident.
* LoveAtFirstNote: Eric for Ariel.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Ariel for Eric, with a chaser of FlorenceNightingaleEffect.
* LoveHurts: [[{{Disneyfication}} Much less]] than in the original version, though Ariel's pain is obvious when she thinks Eric is going to leave her and marry "Vanessa".
* LovesMeNot: With an underwater flower.
* MagicallyBindingContract: The one Ariel signs with Ursula currently provides the page image and quote; [[spoiler:when Triton tries to destroy it with his trident, it doesn't work. As it turns out, the only thing that can break Ursula's contracts is her demise -- once she dies, all the polyps in her garden return to their natural forms]].
* [[MakeMyMonsterGrow Make My Self Grow]]: Ursula in the climax.
* MamaBear: Ursula did ''not'' take Flotsam and Jetsam's deaths well. "Babies! My poor little poopsies!"
** Also, Ariel in the sequel and Athena in the prequel.
* ManicPixieDreamGirl: Broken up into two components. The girl Prince Eric encounters on the beach is the 'dream girl'; the girl who uses a fork to comb her hair and jumps a carriage over a ravine is the 'manic pixie'. Only at the end does Eric realise they're one and the same.
* ManipulativeBitch: Ursula, and how.
* MarryForLove: Eric intends to do this.
* MassiveNumberedSiblings: Ariel has six older sisters: Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Atina, Adella, and Allana.
** Atina is Greek for Athena, so you would have thought that was the sister who looked the most like their mother. Justified since it's implied that Ariel is the youngest.
* MeaningfulName:
** "Eric" is an Old Norse name that can mean "One Ruler", "Lone Ruler" or "Lone Prince", which is what he is in the beginning of the film.
** Ariel is Hebrew for "Lion of God" and is derived from one of God's Archangels.
*** It's also the name of the air-spirit servant in ''Theatre/TheTempest''--appropriate for the mermaid who's bent on leaving the water and living an air-breathing existence.
** Vanessa's name is derived from the Latin word "Vanitas", which means among other things Vanity, Worthlessness, Emptiness, and Nothingness. The first meaning is more than a little obvious, but the remaining three meanings also have a place in it as well, as it highlights the fact that [[spoiler:Vanessa is Eric's false savior.]]
* MisplacedWildlife: And newts living in saltwater habitats.
* MoodWhiplash: "''You're too late!''"
* [[AliensSpeakingEnglish Merfolk Speaking English]]: Without it, giving up a voice might not have been so painful. Ariel wouldn't know how to talk to the prince, and Biped!Ariel could have just learned to speak the [[SignedLanguage local Deaf lingo]].
* MrFanservice: Whilst not as popular as Phillip from ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'', Eric nevertheless has his fair share of fangirls. It helps that he's the Animation Renaissance's first bona fide badass.
* MsFanservice: Ariel all the way.
* MurderByMistake: Flotsam and Jetsam are vaporized after Ursula's attempt to kill Prince Eric goes awry.
* MusicalisInterruptus: Some of the best around.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Triton when he blames himself for Ariel's disappearance in the first movie, given the way he acted.
* MythologyGag:
** The DVD Commentary notes that the scenes of Ariel posed on the rock were based on the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
** Ursula tosses a tongue-looking thing into her cauldron (See "Visual Pun" below.) In the original story, the little mermaid's tongue was cut out before she became human.
** Attina, one of Ariel's sisters, was named after an obscure previous Alan Menken musical, ''Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy''.
* NakedOnArrival: When Ariel first becomes human, the lower half of her body is unclothed.
* NamedByTheAdaptation: None of the characters in the original fairy tale (the little mermaid, the prince, the sea king, the sea witch, etc.) have names.
* NeverTrustATrailer: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3voGyV1n0c The first teaser for the third movie]], made entirely from scenes of the first two. Still manages to be quite haunting.
* NightmareFace: "So help me, Ariel, I am going to get through to you, and if this is the only way, so be it!"
* NonHumanSidekick: Flounder, Sebastian, Scuttle and Max for the goodies. Flotsam and Jetsam for the baddie.
* NoOntologicalInertia: Ursula's prisoners are freed when she dies.
* NotEvilJustMisunderstood: Ursula claims this.
-->'''Ursula:''' ''"I admit that in the past I've been a nasty\\
They weren't kidding when they called me, well, a witch\\
[[BlatantLies But you'll find that nowadays, I've mended all my ways...]]"''
* OhCrap: "Vanessa" does a big one as [[ZergRush a big flock of birds speed towards her]].
** [[SomethingWeForgot "Oh my gosh! My father's gonna kill me!"]]
** Also, when Ariel sees her father in her grotto after she swoons over the Eric statue.
*** And when she accidentally blurts out that she loves him. Sebestian has that same reaction.
* OldFashionedRowboatDate: Invoked as part of the song "Kiss the Girl".
* OneMarioLimit: "Ursula" wasn't a very common English name to begin with, but ''no'' reasoning parent today would name their child such, thanks to the villain of this film.
** Unless, of course, they are ''George of the Jungle'' fans.
* OneWingedAngel: Ursula at the end. Vanessa changing back into Ursula also counts.
* OnlySixFaces:
** Ariel's sisters in the original appear to be exactly the same. The only difference is their hair and the color of their tails and bras. Although they look the same in the face, Adella is the chubby one out of the bunch, differentiating her from the rest of her slim sisters.
** In a movie crossover version, Eric and Aladdin have similar features.
* OrificeInvasion: The giant hands Ursula summons go down Ariel's throat to claim her voice.
* OurMermaidsAreDifferent: Ariel definitely popularized mermaid characters for a generation. The filmmakers certainly claim that they subverted the blonde, otherworldly, mischievous archetype of the mermaid by creating a [[FieryRedhead rebellious redheaded]] mermaid who was very human rather than fiery in character.
* TheOutsideWorld: Ariel is fascinated by the world above the ocean surface, particularly in humans to the point that she falls in love with one, and makes a DealWithTheDevil to get the chance to live up there.
* OverprotectiveDad: Triton destroys almost everything Ariel cares about because of this, but in the end he becomes a PapaWolf.
* OverlyLongName: Horatio Felonious Ignacious Crustaceous [[LastNameBasis Sebastian]].
* PapaWolf: And protects her from Ursula (Well, he tries.)
* ParentalAbandonment:
** Ariel has no mother, and while he's not ''evil'', her father is so misguided in his attempts to protect her that she feels emotionally abandoned.
** Eric seemingly has no parents whatsoever and was possibly raised by Grimsby.
* ParentalFavoritism: Despite their personality conflicts, Ariel is Daddy's favorite. According to the DVDCommentary, the directors and producers were a little uncomfortable with the idea but rationalized it out as Ariel being the most like her father in temperament.
** Also, she's the youngest daughter and the one more resembling her dead mother. Psychologically, she reminds Triton of his wife and, while her eldest sisters had, at least for a while, a mother and a father, Triton feels constantly the brunt of educating, caring and sheltering Ariel alone.
* PimpedOutDress: The dinner dress Ariel is given as well as her wedding dress.
* PinocchioSyndrome: "[[IWantSong Part of your World]]" is a passionate declaration of the desire to become human. The desire becomes uncontrollable after Ariel's encounter with Eric, who could be said to [[EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory represent the human world]] she's always longed for. Even after she becomes human, she is just as, if not more, focused on exploring as she is on kissing Eric and ''saving her own life''.
* PowerHair: Ursula.
* PreMortemOneLiner: As Ursula is about to do in Ariel with the trident, she bellows, "SO MUCH FOR ''TRUE LOVE!!!''" [[spoiler:Only a split second later, Ursula [[DeathByIrony gets killed]] when Eric [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice impales her]] on the bowsprit of a sunken ship, which also somehow causes the trident to backfire on her.]]
* PrincessesPreferPink: Ariel's dinner dress and nightgown are both pink.
* PrincessesRule: {{Gender Flip}}ped with Prince Eric.
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: "...You turn back into a mermaid. And, you belong. To me."
* PunctuatedPounding: ''"CAN YOU HEAR WHAT I'M TELLING YOU?'' The prince! Is marrying! The Sea Witch in disguise!"
* PurpleEyes: Vanessa.
* PyrrhicVictory: It is explicitly stated in Ursula's song that Ariel's voice is a fee, not a loan. ''If'' she had managed to fulfil the Sea Witch's contract and [[ShapeshifterModeLock kissed the Prince within three days]], Ariel, a teenage girl who loves singing and who would be trying to integrate into human society, would have spent the rest of her life as a mute.
** Not necessarily, if the lyrics "she don't say a word and she say won't a word until ya kiss the girl" are any indication. It's entirely possible that fulfilling the contract means that Ursula will have to return the voice. Nothing in the contracts suggests that it's a permanent payment, and Ursula's words, while suggesting that it's going to be permanent, never says it's a fee, just a payment. Since loans are a form of payment, it also fits with the general nature of Ursula's deals (that the client has to fulfill a task in order for it to be permanent). Alternatively, Sebastian might believe that, once they complete Ariel's part of the deal, he'd be able to convince Triton to force Ursula to give Ariel her voice back.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: In ''Ariel's Beginning'', Ariel joins Flounder, Sebastian, and the Catfish Club Band after escaping from Atlantica.
* RainbowMotif: The seven daughters of Triton each have a different color tail. If we were to arrange them chromatically, they are: Arista (red), Attina (orange), Adella (yellow), Ariel (green), Aquata (blue), Andrina (purple), Alana (pink).
* RammingAlwaysWorks: Well, how else are you going to take on the giant sea monster when you don't have any cannons (or wizards)?
* ReadTheFinePrint: It's in the play.
* RebelliousPrincess: Ariel fits this to a T. She's pretty much the TropeCodifier, at least for Disney's near-constant use of this trope ever since.
* {{Redheaded Hero}}ine
* TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation
* RescueRomance: It goes both ways, too.
* RightHandAttackDog: Ursula the Sea Witch's pet green moray eel minions Flotsam and Jetsam.
* RomanceGenreHeroines
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: After a long string of [[FlatCharacter generic]] {{Prince Charming}}s, Prince Eric actually turns out to be quite the {{Badass}}. He killed Ursula by impaling her with a freaking boat. Dialogue during the dinner scene suggests that Eric is quite active in the ruling of his kingdom and has to take time off just to show Ariel around. Ariel, Triton and Melody are pretty active as well, when danger shows up.
* RuleOfSymbolism: Ursula is meant to be the personification of lust, with Ariel being purity. There is a similar metaphor in the original story, with the mermaid being lust and the Temple princess being purity, which is why the latter gets the prince.
* RuleOfThree: "Before the sun sets on the third day..."
* SanitySlippage: Ursula, while not a good character, was sane and composed during most of the film. However, when she transforms into Vanessa, it's implied that she lost quite a bit of sanity (to the point of becoming a borderline AxCrazy) when turning into her, as she talks to her mirror in a manner similar to a schizophrenic, emits a psychotic grin when throwing a pin at a mirror's head with enough velocity to knock the mirror ''back'', and most certainly kill a person had that been a human being, plus her cackling.
** The whole reason for Ursula resorting to her Vanessa alterego was counteracting Sebastian's proactive plan to have Ariel seduce Eric. Basically, she got her arms twisted into action, with all the consequent pressure.
* SceneryCensor: Nude Ariel on land: while Sebastian & company might be getting an eyeful in a few scenes, the audience won't. Also, in addition to the CensorShadow while she's under the water, a few strategically placed bubbles block the view between Ariel's legs just in case any particularly lecherous viewers should try gamma-correcting those shots in a graphics editing program.
* ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight: Meta example. While composer AlanMenken had a great deal of experience writing stage music for Howard Ashman's lyrics, this film was his first attempt to write a background score for a feature film. According to the DVDCommentary, he sought out advice from fellow composers, who essentially told him "It's a cartoon. Nobody cares, blow it off." Menken decided not to take their advice... and won an Oscar for Best Original Score.
* SealedWithAKiss: The clause of Ursula's contract with Ariel.
* SeashellBra: Made of what appear to be ''purple'' clamshells. Also of note is that the sixteen-year old Ariel was the first Disney character designed and animated in a way that showed the line of her cleavage.
* ShadowDiscretionShot: Ariel's transformation into a human by Ursula. Subverted though, in that if you lighten the color on your monitor, you can see see a good deal of Ariel's nude body.
* [[CarFu Ship Fu]]: Utilized on Ursula.
* ShooOutTheClowns: Scuttle, Sebastian, and Flounder kind of get pushed to the side during the climax.
* ShoutOut:
** So an octopus-monster, Ursula, is menacing everyone. Heroically, Eric pilots a ship into her, the snapped bowsprit impaling it and sending it back to whence it came. But enough about the end of Creator/HPLovecraft's ''[[CthulhuMythos The Call of Cthulhu]]''...
** One of Ariel's sisters is named Alana, after composer Alan Menken.
** Alana also means 'harbor'.
** In the TV series, Ariel and Arista have to get rid of two saltwater crocodile robbers who snuck into the palace in a manner similar to Kevin's methods against Marv and Harry from the ''HomeAlone'' franchise.
** This is the reason why they ended up changing the ending to the final version. Apparently, one of the creators had recently seen ''Film/DieHard'', and thought they should make the movie more action-packed like the movie (which probably explains the [[CarFu "Ship-Fu"]] at the end of the movie).
* TheSilentBob: Ariel after becoming human.
* SimpleYetOpulent: Ariel's dresses in this movie have a few trimmings at most.
* SlasherSmile: Ursula does this quite a bit during the final battle. Vanessa, Ursula's disguise, has this when gloating about her inevitable victory (specifically, when she throws her hairpin at a mirror with enough force to knock the mirror back upon impact).
* SmallNameBigEgo: Scuttle, about knowledge of human life.
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: Ariel as the protagonist and Ursula as the villain. All of the supporting cast are male, making it a 6:2 male-to-female ratio. Ariel's sisters have no importance and Carlotta the maid has only a handful of lines.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: [[spoiler:The mermaid in Andersen's FairyTale died, although her soul remains in what amounts to Purgatory, and for every good child she observes, she gets closer to entering Heaven, but for every bad, disobedient child, the process will take longer.]]
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: Ariel's sister's name, Aquata, is clearly pronounced (and spelled, in the captions) [=AquaNta=] in "The Daughters of Triton" in the 1989 film.
** Also, concept artwork indicated that Vanessa's name was originally supposed to be spelled with an "e" instead of an "a" (meaning, it was intended to be spelled "Venessa").
* StrongFamilyResemblance:
** In ''Ariel's Beginning'', Queen Athena looks exactly like Ariel with GreenEyes.
** In the sequel, Melody looks a lot like Eric, down to her bangs and eyebrows.
* SuperNotDrowningSkills: Eric seems to possess this in the first movie's finale, during which he swims to ''the bottom of the ocean'' to throw a harpoon at Ursula.
* SuperStrength: Implied with Ariel when the movie first shows her grotto, where she moves a boulder aside with ease when accessing it.
** Flounder is a freaking powerhouse. He's able to pull Ariel and the barrel fast enough to catch up with the wedding barge, too; and he pulls her all the way to the surface from the bottom of the ocean right after she transforms.
* TeethFlying: At the end of the movie, Louis the chef loses a few teeth after getting hit on the face by a mast.
* TemptingFate: Eric says this:
-->--'''Eric''': When I find her, I'll know...without a doubt. It'll just - bam! - hit me...like lightning.
-->--''Cue DramaticThunder''
* ThemeNaming: The Daughters of Triton are all "A" names: Ariel, Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Atina, Adella, and Alana. All of them are also three syllables, like their mother's name Athena.
** OddNameOut: Ariel's name ''starts'' with A like her sisters', but it does not ''end'' with A.
*** But sometimes she does....like in the Croatian and Italian dubs.
* TheyHaveTheScent: Max tracks Ariel down by scent twice in the film, [[BigFriendlyDog licking her face upon finding her both times]]. The second time is even how Prince Eric first meets her.
* TookALevelInBadass: Flotsam and Jetsam, Ursulaís followers, seem much more threatening in the stage musical story and certainly are more devious.
* TitleDrop: During "Vanessa's" song: "Soon I'll have that little mermaid and the ocean will be mine!"
* TrueBlueFemininity: When Eric is showing Ariel around his land, she wears a dress with a blue skirt, and a large, blue hair ribbon.
* TriumphantReprise: One of the most iconic scenes in the film, just after Ariel rescues Eric, and vows to return to him on land someday.
* TrueLovesKiss
* TruthInTelevision: During the "Kiss the Girl" sequence, flamingos are seen despite the setting being implied to be around Europe. In real-life, there are actually species of flamingos that are native to Southern Europe (The greater flamingos, which are also native to parts of Africa and South Asia). Likewise, the fireflies being in the lagoon is also of this trope, as they can exist in temperate environments as well as in marshes.
* TwoPersonLoveTriangle
* UnderTheSea: Although it's about video games, this is the TropeNamer. On the other hand, it IS the main setting in most ''Little Mermaid'' video games.
* UnscaledMerfolk: Ursula, being half octopus.
* UrbanLegends: In similar fashion to the word "SEX" allegedly appearing in the sky in ''Disney/TheLionKing'', the poster art for ''The Little Mermaid'' features a decidely phallic-looking column on King Triton's castle. The [[http://snopes.com/disney/films/mermaid.asp Legend]] goes that a disgruntled animator had been fired and drew the column into the poster out of spite before he left. Whatever the case, the art has since been changed and recent posters no longer feature the castle anyway.
** That particular {{Urban Legend|s}} being discredited immediately by the fact that animators don't draw a film's posters or cover art.
* VillainousBreakdown: Ursula near the end.
* VillainousGlutton: Ursula.
* VillainSong: "Poor Unfortunate Souls". And to a lesser extent, even though it's more comedic, "Les Poissons". Chef Louie's sadistic glee is almost certainly villainous as he comes close to serving Sebastian for dinner.
** In TheMusical, "I Want The Good Times Back", again by Ursula.
** The prequel has Marina Del Ray's "Just One Mistake".
** The sequel has a deleted one, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdvuDPx1ulo "Gonna Get My Wish"]].
* VisualPun: A rather dark one. When Ursula sings the line "It's she who holds her tongue, who gets her man.", she tosses a human-looking tongue into her cauldron.
* WatchingTheSunset
* WaterIsAir: The animators worked their butts off to make the underwater physics at least more believable than usual, so we'll chalk up Ariel gasping and crying as a TranslationConvention. Actually, it is theoretically possible for her to gasp underwater because, since she lives underwater, she probably has gills that activate when underwater, a binary respiratory system, if you will.
** Subverted on the whole with Ariel's movements within the water, for the creation of which animators referenced the movements of astronauts in zero gravity.
** Also, why they censor Ariel's movements on land: they don't show how she got Eric on the shore, or how she climbs the ship and later the rock. It would look really awkward if they showed her dragging herself around, but still,...
** And completely un-subverted in the prequel by having merpeople swim down the 'streets' in a completely upright posture, as if they were walking on feet, even though their tails don't touch the ground.
* WeddingSmashers: Scuttle rounds up every critter in the area to crash the Vanessa/Eric nuptials, buying Ariel time to get to the wedding barge.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: King Triton, although unlike others he actually has a FreudianExcuse.
* WhamLine:
-->'''Ariel:''' "Daddy, I love him!"
* WickedWitch
** WitchWithACapitalB
-->"''I admit that in the past I've been a nasty, /They weren't kidding when they called me, well, a ''witch..."
* XRaySparks: Occurs during Ursula's death.
* YouAreTooLate: Pointed out by Ursula when the heroes arrive too late to complete Ariel's contract.
* YouMonster: Ariel to Ursula.
* YoungestChildWins: And is the only one to actually get married and leave home, apparently.
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