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* AccidentalAesop: It was Hal Sparks in the "I Love the 80's 3-D" [=VH1=] special who put it best:
-->"And the lovely little moral of this story is: Girls, give up your voice so you can have legs that you can spread for your man. ...What!?"
** Ironically, the oft-cited "throw away your life for some stranger" moral was actually meant to be ''averted'' by the movie; the writers noticed it in the original story and decided to give Ariel a fascination with human culture so she ''already'' kind of wanted to be human before she even met the guy. Eric just tipped the balance.
* BadassDecay: Eric and Triton in both the sequel and musical.
** Also, the Evil Manta in his fourth/final appearance in the TV show.
* BaseBreaker:
** Ariel when the subject of whether she's a good character/role model comes up.
** King Triton to a lesser extent.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: Chef Louis and his musical number, "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcyhVHrmlMU Les Poissons]]".
* EarWorm: Every song.
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Sebastian was so popular that voice actor Samuel E. Wright recorded two albums as the character. There was even a tie-in Disney Channel special, and the character also starred in his own shorts on the short-lived SaturdayMorningCartoon ''RawToonage''.
** "Vanessa" (Ursula's disguised form) is ''really'' popular with some fans.
** [[TimCurry Evil Manta]] from the TV series.
** [[ThreateningShark Undertow]] from the sequel. With Melody being a copy of her mother, Morgana and her sting rays being copies of Ursula, Flotsam, and Jetsam, and Tip and Dash being copies of...[[Disney/TheLionKing Timon and Pumbaa]], Undertow is the only new character with some originality. Doesn't hurt that he's voiced by Creator/ClancyBrown.
** Benjamin from the prequel. While the movie doesn't sit too well with the fans most agree that he is its saving grace, being an AmbiguouslyGay and yet still very cute manatee.
* EpilepticTrees: In ''TheDaVinciCode'', author DanBrown puts forth the theory that the directors and animators were pagan goddess worshipers and scattered clues and obscure references to the "Sacred Feminine" throughout the film, including Ariel's red hair. The reality is far less mystical though: the animators chose to make Ariel a redhead to avoid comparisons with Creator/DarylHannah's blonde mermaid character from ''{{Film/Splash}}'', and also because it gave a nice contrast with the blue sea and her green tail.
* EvilIsSexy: Ursula in her Vanessa status. Some viewers found Ursula sexy even in her original form. "Don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!"
* FairForItsDay[=/=]SeinfeldIsUnfunny: Today this movie is considered by some to be rather cringe-worthy, as its heroine is a girl who abandons her family and her home for a guy she hardly knows. At the time though, Ariel was written by Disney to be a proactive girl, following after the more passive and demure Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora. She also was the first Disney princess to set out and win the heart of the guy she loved, rather than have him show up and carry her off. (And she was also the first Disney princess to save the life of her prince, twice.)
* FanPreferredCouple: For some bizarre reason, whenever Disney pops up on Imageboards [[YuriGenre /u/]], they ship Ariel with Meg from ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'' (something we need to thank to [[http://batlesbo.deviantart.com/gallery/?q=ariel batlesbo]] and [[http://x-arielle.deviantart.com/gallery/?q=ariel X-Arielle]]).
** Another ''very'' popular pairing in the fandom is Ariel/[[TreasurePlanet Jim Hawkins]] and a lesser extent, Jim and Melody.
*** And Ariel/[[Franchise/KingdomHearts Sora]].
** Ursula/Evil Manta, [[ShipsThatPassInTheNight despite the both of them not having any sort of interactions in the TV Series]].
* FreudWasRight:
** The original VHS cover...oh, the grief that one (just ''one'') of the coral spires on Triton's castle caused...
** Ariel gasping for breath once reaching the surface after being changed into a human is very orgasmic-looking.
* FunnyAneurysmMoment[=/=]HarsherInHindsight: In-universe example: In the episode "Metal Fish", Ariel saves Hans Christian Andersen, and it is heavily implied that he ended up writing the story in honor of her saving him. Said story ended up published a year later in the story, and given what happened to the character based on her, its unlikely that Andersen was too happy that Ariel married Eric.
* GenreTurningPoint: Started the Animation Renaissance.
* GeniusBonus: Only true mythology fans will recognize Ursula and Morgana as cecaelias, a race of half-octopus,half-human creatures.
** Ariel is named after the air spirit from Creator/WilliamShakespeare's Theatre/TheTempest. This is most likely a reference to the original ending, in which the un-named mermaid [[spoiler: dies and turns into an air spirit]].
* GirlsNeedRoleModels: Ariel was created as a RebelliousPrincess in part because of this, especially compared to her predecessors in the canon.
* HilariousInHindsight: "Oh Eric, don't believe in any of this [[WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants nautical nonsense]]."
** Also either this or FunnyAneurysmMoment, but Ariel (and by proxy, Vanessa), was originally potentially going to be voiced by Creator/MelissaFahn. Given [[Manga/LoveHina who she later acted as a dub voice for]], the fact that she later plays a woman who actually attempts to sabotage a relationship between the main character and her lover through very ''similar'' methods to what Vanessa did to Ariel is somewhat of an eyeopener.
** Ursula calling Ariel "Angelfish". Fast forward twenty one years and [[WesternAnimation/YoungJustice another ocean dweller calls another redhead "Angelfish"]] and earns himself a spot on TheScrappy list.
** [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Vanessa strangling Scuttle + "Why you little—!"]].
** In the original Hans Christen Andersen book, the mermaid had to earn an immortal soul at the end where she previously had none, and nowadays it is often joked that gingers have no soul. Consider Ariel's hair color in the Disney adaptation.
* InternetBackdraft: The 2013 theatrical re-release comes with [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYpRQ5Mw2lM an iOS app that gives children an interactive experience]] to go along with the movie. Adults were not pleased with this.
* MagnificentBastard: The Evil Manta from the series, who manages to turn the different species of the entire kingdom against each other in his debut episode. Not only that, he also tricked Ariel into setting him free to begin with. Oh, and he's voiced by TimCurry, no less. Though his fourth and final appearance puts him through {{Badass|Decay}} and VillainDecay; suddenly he's a father, Tim Curry voices him a lot less creepily, and he ends up with some redeeming qualities.
** Ursula in the movie is also a contender for how she seems to be ahead of the game virtually before the game (the plot) has even begun!
* MemeticMutation: Say the words "Look at this stuff" to any girl born since, say, 1984, and they'll immediately be able to sing the entirety of "Part Of Your World" back.
** "Don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!!!"
** Two words: [[http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/hipster-mermaid-hipster-ariel Hipster Mermaid]].
* MoralEventHorizon: Ursula starts well over the line and really crosses when she interferes with her own deal with Ariel and hypnotizes Eric into falling in love with her in disguise. Also in the TV series, she attempts to murder an alleged bad-luck creature despite it being completely harmless to begin with.
* RonTheDeathEater: Being on two opposing sides of an issue, both Ariel and King Triton have people who ignore all faults in one while demonizing the other.
** Ariel also get some of this in regards to her parenting towards Melody in the sequel. Fans love to sham her by calling her a hypocrite because of how overprotective she was of Melody, ignoring the fact that Ariel did try to keep Melody from making the same mistakes she did. This is of course ignoring that Triton was being paranoid about humans in general when he tried to keep Ariel safe. Meanwhile Ariel was trying to protect Melody from a ''definite'' threat in Morgana.
** Also bordering with a major case of ItRunsInTheFamily and AdultFear: Triton may have been paranoid, but his heart was in the right place, and he proved to love her daughter so much to sacrifice everything, including himself, to keep her safe and happy. Exactly what Ariel did: she just needed to be a mother herself to understand how hard is being a parent.
* SignatureScene: The scene of Ariel finishing her IWantSong reprise, which shows her singing on a boulder while a wave crashes behind her in the background, is almost always the one scene that you will see in Disney's advertising and commercial spots that mention this movie.
** The underwater musical in "Under the Sea" may be another one.
** There's a third one, the one in which Ariel rises from the ocean after being turned human by Ursula.
* SignatureSong: "Under the Sea."
* {{Squick}}: Ursula. All the time. Especially when talking to Ariel.
* StrawmanHasAPoint: Triton is the intolerant Jerkass telling Ariel how cruel and evil humans are, and Ariel's idealistic views all turn out to be right. But remember, humans catch and eat fish, which are 100% sentient in this mythos. Of course, humans don't realize that, and Triton destroying all of Ariel's stuff was a dick move. The CarnivoreConfusion doesn't help matters much - in real life, fish eat other fish all the time!
* SuperlativeDubbing: Ariel's stunning Norwegian voice done by Sissel Kyrkjebø gained alot of attention, to the point she went on to voice Ariel in the Danish and Swedish dubs as well. To further exemplify the beauty of Sissel's voice, she's also the echo-ey, sad voice you hear in the background on the ''{{Film/Titanic}}'' soundtrack.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSong: The finish of "Part of Your World" in ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid'' is Ashman and [[AlanMenken Menken]] recycling part of one of ''their own songs'', "Somewhere That's Green", from Theatre/LittleShopOfHorrors.
** Pay close attention to Louis the chef's ditty "Le Poisson", which has the same melody as [[Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast Be Our Guest]].
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodCharacter: The Evil Manta. He was at first set up as the main villain of the animated series instead of Ursula, since the series takes place before the movie, and it would make a lot less sense for Ariel to make that deal with Ursula if she had already faced and fought against her before their first meeting in the movie. Only, after a while, Ursula ''did'' appear in the series, after which Manta only appeared in one more episode. Plus the possibility of him being the villain of the sequel instead of "[[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute Ursula's crazy sister]]".
* UnfortunateCharacterDesign: [[SomethingElseAlsoRises The priest]]. (Although this too is an [[http://snopes.com/disney/films/minister.asp urban legend]].)
* VillainDecay:
** Though not for lack of trying, Ursula was never quite as menacing in the show as she was in the movie.
** In the series, so did the Evil Manta.
* WhatMeasureIsANonBadass: People love to throw up the "Ariel is a stupid bitch and a bad rolemodel for little girls who THROWS HER LIFE AWAY FOR A GUY" pseudo-reason, without bothering to dwell into her reasons and psyche (She already wanted to see the human world, Eric was mostly the push she needed to take the decision to go there, etc.) Apparently a woman isn't allowed to fall in romantic love ''ever'', specially if it's a teenage girl with next-to-none real life experience!
** The "feminist" Ariel bashing can also cross into straightforward SlutShaming [[http://www.nerve.com/entertainment/ranked/ranked-disney-princesses-from-least-to-most-feminist because apparently "you aren't empowered enough if you wear a seashell bikini"]].
** Although this is [[http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/06/18/not-a-fish-not-yet-a-human/ not a universal view]] among feminists.
* TheWoobie: King Triton in ''Ariel's Beginning''. The guy lost his wife Athena in a pirate attack, and many years later he still can't listen to music without being reminded of that tragic happening. Through the whole movie he looks so sad and depressed of what he had lost, and his strained relationship with Ariel ain't helping him.
** It gets worse: by the first movie, his relationship with Ariel is so damaged that she prefers trying her luck with Ursula than trusting him again, he's visibly distraught and blaming himself for her escape and, when finally after years of bickering manages to patch his relationship with his daughter, he's grimly reminded that Ariel forgave him ''at her own marriage''. When he realizes that ''he's going to miss her'', he also realizes that now Ariel has her own family to care for, and he can never, ever get back the time they spent bickering. And then, in the second movie, we find out that he didn't even get to be a grandfather for his (possibly) first granddaughter.
** Ariel herself too. She's ''really'' good at looking like a kicked puppy.
** Melody in the sequel after being humiliated at her birthday party.

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