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Our Mermaids Are Different

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Often very different.
(Left: The Little Mermaid (1989), Right: Harry Potter)

"Mermaid, oh murmur into my ear
The answers to questions I'm longing to hear;
Does it relax you to hear the sound of the land?
Do you, O mermaid, have slightly webbed hands?"
Flight of the Conchords, "Mermaid"

Mermaids, or more generally merfolk, crop up quite a lot in fiction. However, like most mythical creatures and monsters, they are a little different every time and have different rules applied to them. Their dispositions, morality, and alliances vary depending on the author, and whether or not they can become human is a question everyone answers differently. Even their general appearance isn't fixed: see the picture.

Appearance: Merfolk are generally portrayed as beautiful women (mermaids) or handsome men (mermen) with fish- or dolphin-like tails in place of legs. Somtimes they have a few fishy characteristics on the human half as well- such as Ear Fins, arm fins or scattered scales- an aquatic Cute Monster Girl. Others are more blatantly sea-creatures with few human characteristics and are quite ugly, for example the Harry Potter merman (mermaid?) pictured. Sometimes they have features reminiscent of other, more exotic sea-creatures, and sometimes they are sea-animals that become human-like under certain circumstances.


Some joke that merfolk must have the fish half on top instead of on the bottom in order to resolve "the Mermaid Problem". Mermaids who are more human-looking (and modest) tend to wear Seashell Bras. And then there's underwater folk like Aquaman, Namor, The Man From Atlantis etc. who look like normal humans for the most part but can survive and breathe underwater and may have some odd physical adaptations that are well-hidden until they return to the sea.

It should also be noted that most mermaids have the "fish half" in a cetacean (horizontal fluke) configuration, rather than a fish's vertical configuration, since this is closer to how an actual human swims, though exceptions exist.

Finally, given that there are more than 15,000 species of fishes in Earth's oceans, the actual kind of fish-tail which even a traditional mermaid might sport provides yet another basis for diversity of appearance among them. Of course, a sizable fraction of mermaid imagery doesn't actually replicate any extant fish, but just starts out with a feminine hip-bulge and tapers the tail down to a big wide fin.


Merperson to Human: Sometimes merpeople can turn into humans, or vice versa, under certain circumstances. The way this is done and differences in the "rules" surrounding this are numerous:

  • The Splash Method: The mermaid can become human when they are dry and turn back when wet. Sometimes this is something all merpeople can do, and sometimes there are limits on how long they can do it.
  • The Little Mermaid Method: The mermaid invokes a magic spell which allows them to turn human. Sometimes, this is at a hefty cost. In the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it's the title's character's tongue; the sea-witch responsible expects payment, and specifies, "the best thing you possess will I have for the price of my draught.". May be combined with the above.
  • The Fredericka Bimm Method: Mermaids can switch forms more or less at will. Unlike the Splash method, getting doused with water is not a problem.
  • The Magical Item Method: Common in some mythologies but, curiously, not often utilized in modern fiction, aside from anime and magical girl genre. The Mermaid has a magical item which allows her to change from one form to another. Some of these items are obvious; a Selkie needs her shed seal-skin to return to her home in the sea. Or a mermaid could pass for human on land in a wheelchair. Others are... kind of random; a Merrow needs a hat made of red feathers to (depending on which variant on the legend you are reading) return to the sea or assume human form.
  • And of course, some mermaids don't possess shapeshifting abilities at all — no matter how much they may want to change, the half-fish appearance is their default, permanent form.

Good or Evil?: Sometimes mermaids are portrayed as evil seductresses (sometimes called devil fish) who lure sailors to their deathsnote . Others, their singing is a sign of disaster, but not from seduction. In most mythologies, they display the inscrutable and sometimes dangerous amorality of The Fair Folk, especially if mermaids are treated as marine fae. Sometimes they are good but flirty and mischievous. Sometimes they are mostly innocent and naive. Sometimes they are honorable, and of these, several resent us for treating their ocean home so badly for so long. Sometimes (just sometimes) they are just like us and have all sorts of personas. Very often, though not always, they are Tsundere, or even outright Yandere types. Octopus or Squid-based mermaids—sometimes called cilophytes or cecaelia—are usually portrayed as evil, probably owing to the influence of Disney's sea-witch Ursula, or perhaps because of the "alien" nature of tentacles.

One thing that also tends to vary among depictions of mermaids is their ability to survive on land: some depictions show them being completely unable to breathe out of water, others show them being able to stay above the surface but needing to be wet to avoid drying out, and some show no qualms at all about leaving the sea and can stay out of water seemingly indefinitely (except for not having legs).

Most merfolk can communicate with fish and sea creatures, regardless of whether they eat them or not. Expect merfolk to remain naked no matter how deep they swim or how little protection their skin has, though their bodies might have some unseen protection against the cold and high pressure of the depths.

Many artists portray merfolk as having human-like knee and ankle joints instead of a spinal column. They'd probably swim much like a human using a monofin, a single large flipper to use both legs at once. If you watch swimming competitions you do notice that when they are underwater (after kicking off the end) they do keep their legs together and use an undulating motion. A horizontal fluke just extends this motion.

Unscaled Merfolk is a Sub-Trope, where the non-human parts are not a scaled fish; see also Selkies and Wereseals.

See also Mermaid Problem, Apparently Human Merfolk, Shapeshifting Lover, The Fair Folk, Sirens Are Mermaids, Water Is Womanly, and Friendly, Playful Dolphin, Heroic Dolphin and Sapient Cetaceans. For a similar body plan applied to another type of mammals, see Our Hippocamps Are Different.

May occasionally overlap with Fish People, though they are generally more of genetic fusion than a half-and-half put together.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Husky is a Bishōnen Merman from +Anima. Like most +anima, he's the only one of his kind (the only one who is fish-like, that is). His legs turn into a fish tail at will. If he is about to drown, he'll change in order to be able to breathe: this is how he was forced to do it in the circus. It apparently takes him some effort to turn into his human form. He's also perfectly amphibious. And he's probably the prettiest merman around. When he's introduced, he's performing in a circus as the Mermaid Princess.
  • In 07-Ghost noel mermaids have furry rings around their neck and waist, and the ability to change the appearance of their face at will. They also can only express themselves in melody.
  • Berserk:
    • Isma is introduced as a lonely genki fisher girl, rumored to have a mermaid ("merrow") mother, whose lack of nudity taboos borders on Innocent Fanservice Girl. However, Isma seems to be completely human herself, and claims to be unsure of whether merrows even exist, though readers get fairly quickly a subtle hint which suggests something else, in an ominous style typical of the series. It turns out that Isma is genuinely ignorant about her true heritage, and only unlocks the ability to transform into a more typical mermaid form after meeting her mother (who is indeed a merrow); additionally, her cheerful and kind behaviour really is her true personality, which is quite a surprise considering the setting.
    • Merrows in general look like classic beautiful mermaids, but with fin-shaped ears. Additionally, they're actually spirit creatures who can weaponize their songs and have a true name which gives anyone who knows it control over them. Surprisingly for the series, merrows are actually quite benevolent towards humans, which is a nice change of pace from the setting's usual supernatural assholes.
  • Blue Submarine No. 6 has a genetically engineered, evidently entirely female, race of mermaids. Typically they pilot underwater lobster-ish mecha as the front line troops of the antagonist forces. While fitting the Cute Monster Girl trope in many ways, they are not your traditional style of mermaid, considering that they have a tendency to bite.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, the spirit forms of The Watery and The Bubbles cards are mermaids.
  • Mermaids in Casual Inevitability Contact, set around Hoi, Vietnam, are depicted as dark/black-skinned that either come in black and blonde or the latter grow into the former along with horns, Overly Long Tongue, Facial Markings, Cute Little Fangs, more tattered looking tails than usual and would be almost otherwise a bit more Cute Monster Girl than Ariel except they have webbed fins/pseudo-legs like the Soul Collectors from Inuyasha that they can somewhat use like tentacles on land since they don't transform. The shota and his uncle in the story "fish" for them with baitless hooks that're more like a different kind of "hooking up" where the mermaids use the lines like rope to be harmlessly reeled on-board to decide if they want to have consensual sex with the fisherman who caught them. The boy lucks out with a full-grown paedophile with no Seashell Bra that gives him the power to breathe underwater via French-kiss while a Token Mini-Moe has a crush on the uncle since she gets herself caught by him twice and wants to stay with him afterwards.
  • The mermaids in A Centaur's Life are a subspecies of human, just like angels, longears, satyrs, or centaurs. Like the rest they are mammals evolved from apes and can interbreed. These mermaids are mammalian, with their legs joined into a tail at around knee level, fins on their hips, and a tendency to not wear shirts unless other races are around and would object. Most mermaids live in places that are kept flooded by at least a few feet so they can get around. Anywhere else and they have to be carried or rely on technology.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, there are two types of merfolk. The first is human-type merfolk, which look like traditional mermaids. They can sing enchanting songs to lure adventurers into the water. The other is fish-type merfolk (mermen), which wield tridents and look like fish with human arms. They're more fish than human, though, since they hatch from eggs and spend their juvenile stage looking like regular fish. The two species are apparently unrelated, as a mermaid happily eats a juvenile merman in a side-chapter.
  • Digimon Frontier: One of the antagonists, Ranamon, is a human hybrid fairy digimon with control over water. Despite not having the typical mermaid traits (human upper body and fish-tail), she definitely constitutes being a mermaid. She has many fans among digimon due to her attractive appearance, but this changes when she digivolves into her marginally less attractive, tentacled beast form, Calmaramon. Her benevolent mega form, Ancientmermaimon, is more typical of a mermaid.
  • Sophia and The Mermaid Tribe and The Merman Tribe in Doraemon.
  • An episode of Ghost Sweeper Mikami has the cast investigating a beach hotel, and Yokoshima meets a girl named Namiko, who asks him on a date and turns out to be a mermaid when he accidentally splashes water on her legs. While she was not evil, she was only interested in him because her husband (a very ugly fishman who was terrorizing the hotel) had an affair with an evil spirit who turned out to be behind everything.
  • Hekikai No Aion: The mermaids need to consume "psyche", only obtained by killing people with tsunamis or earthquakes. In-universe, they're responsible for the sinking of Atlantis, Mu and the destruction of Pompeii, and they are the primary targets of the protagonist. The youngest of them is able to change into a fully human form to move around on land.
  • Hayame from Hell Teacher Nube has it easier than most. Aside from being a very likable goof and a powerful ally, she can regenerate from anything (even being reduced to a desiccated corpse for centuries or cutting out her own liver,) her singing voice can compel anyone in earshot to act out the emotions in her songs, she can change back and forth from mermaid to human at will (though her methods leave something to be desired,) and her flesh and blood can grant hyper-accelerated healing to anyone who consumes them. In her natural form, she's a Cute Monster Girl with webbed hands, long and pointy fins instead of ears, highly-visible gills over her ribcage, and Godiva Hair to cover her bare Non-Mammal Mammaries.
  • In Inuyasha the Movie: Fire on the Mystic Island you can see the young hanyou Ai. She has swimming-skins between her fingers and toes, and also ears that look like swim fins. Their abilities in the water are not seen, but they have swum amazingly fast from an island to the mainland.
  • Mei Mah / Mei Mer of K.O. Beast changes into a mermaid when wet or when something makes her cry. Her tears become pearls.
  • Level E has mermaids with the rather unusual power to detect any attempt to lie to them... by their tongue involuntarily shooting out and stabbing the liar to death. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop them from being sold into sex slavery and pretty much wiped out, because a loophole is found to evade the ability but the mermaids don't realize it.
  • The much older Mahou no Mako-chan shares some similarities with Pichi Pichi Pitch, as they are both based loosely on "The Little Mermaid". Mako-chan uses a magic pendant to transform and is more of a Cute Witch.
  • In a story arc of a Mazinger Z manga, a race of giant Fish People from another dimension called Chip Kamoy attempted to invade Earth. In order to communicate with human beings, they kidnapped a human girl and transformed her into a mermaid: her legs were replaced by a long fish tail, and fins grew from her head. She was definitely good, though, and tried to help The Hero Kouji Kabuto. Unfortunately her "masters" executed her in punishment.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch involves mermaids who follow "The Splash Method"; though it also has elements of "The Little Mermaid" in there. If a mermaid tells a human her secret she'll turn into sea foam (supposedly; it's never tested, and the manga implies it might be a lie spread to keep up the Masquerade). Additionally, her human form is quite different looking from her mermaid form besides just the obvious lack of tail. The main character also sacrifices her voice — but just her singing voice (she can sing beautifully as a mermaid, not so much as a human). On top of this, they are also Magical Girls with Magic Music.
  • A one-shot manga tale by Rumiko Takahashi had a passionate romance between a human boy and a mermaid — which ended as soon as they kissed. (Mermaid breath tasted like rotten fish, and human breath tasted like rotting plants. Yuck both ways.) The mermaids from Takahashi's Mermaid Saga are vastly different than most, as they are monstrous, flesh-eating, and very hard to kill. Eating their flesh has a Million-to-One Chance (really) of granting immortality — and otherwise kills you, if you're lucky.
  • Merman In My Tub has a dorky and androgynous merman named Wakasa, who lives in the bathtub of a human guy named Tatsumi. Not able to survive out of the water for long, most of the episodes take place in the bathroom, where Tatsumi is forced to awkwardly share the tub with him. Later episodes included more characters, including Takasu (a half-octopus merman), Mikuni (a jellyfish) and Maki (a tiny snail-person). The Manga also featured Agari, a shark merman.
  • Mero in Monster Musume is a mermaid with webbed fingers, fins instead of ears, gills along the sides of her chest, and a covering of slime so her body doesn't dry out. She's amphibious, able to breathe air so long as it's humid, but needs to use a wheelchair to get around on land, lacking any ability to shapeshift. It's very strongly indicated that the Mermaid Problem would not be a problem if she wanted to mate with a human; in hindsight, the gothic-lolita-style skirt she wears does cover the one part of the body you'd assume there to be a problem...
    • The setting has other kinds of merfolk as well; some are based on different types of fish, such as eel mermaids and shark mermaids, while others combine fish and human characteristics in different ways, such as a fish with legs or a woman with an entire fish for a head.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid's mermaids demonstrate the Splash method listed above. They can remain in human form as long as they don't get sufficiently wet (which isn't too much.) Nagasumi spends a lot of time drying off Sun just to avoid having her secret discovered by others. Adults grow out of this, and it is possible for younger mermaids to resist the change with limited success if they are disciplined enough. Their songs can cause a variety of status effects. Otherwise nice people, aside from being Yakuza... Also, one of them is the Terminator who can take a Kill Sat to the face without flinching. Yeah... Nagasumi gets in some serious trouble with him due to a severe misunderstanding while drying off his daughter.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, one character, talented swimmer Akira Ookochi, can turn herself into a mermaid for a short time using her Pactio. Sort-of: she gains a fish tail and can teleport through water.
  • In One Piece, Mer-people come in two flavors: Merfolk and Fishmen. Fishmen are Fish People that are ten times stronger than humans on land and twenty times under water. Merfolks are The Little Mermaid type. At the age of 30, the tails of mermaids (but not mermen) split and may be used as legs. Even so, they are the fastest swimmers in the world. In both cases, the types of fish they're similar to, and thus their physical features, greatly vary. Merfolk and Fishmen can intermarry, but instead of being hybrids, each child can be either a mermaid/man or a Fish(wo)man.
  • Papuwa: Tanno is a cross-dressing fish identified as such by his lipstick and his feminine legs clad appropriately in fishnet stockings.
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea: The mermaid equivalents are magical goldfish-sized creatures with protohuman faces and powerful magic who can turn shapeshift if they taste human blood. Oh, and they appear to be the result of breeding between a no-longer-human wizard and the goddess of the ocean.
  • Po Po Lo Crois: Luna is a water sprite who can change into a human using a magic golden key (used previously by Narcia to become Kai) in order to walk on land.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Oktavia von Seckendorff, the Mermaid Witch, is an Eldritch Abomination resembling a gigantic mermaid knight, geared with a BFS and throws wheels toward anyone who interrupts her concert. Not only is she a mermaid in appearance, she bears a Whole Plot Reference to "The Little Mermaid". Specifically, her former self, Miki Sayaka, became a magical girl to heal her Love Interest Kyousuke's hand hoping that he'd fall in love with her, but then she learnt the Awful Truth of a Magical Girl is basically a lich, and then Hitomi kicked in and confessed her love toward Kyousuke after Sayaka failed to do so. Unable to confess her feelings to Kyousuke and feeling that she's basically a zombie, Sayaka had gone off the deep end and became the Mermaid Witch. In Rebellion, Oktavia serves as Sayaka's Guardian Entity and she can be summoned at anywhere there is water, including Sayaka's own blood.
  • Rave Master has Celia, a very beautiful mermaid who naturally falls in love with Haru, much to Elie's displeasure. Her magic is strong but useless in the absence of water, although she can also use it to give herself a pair of shapely legs to keep up with the gang out of water. She is the younger sister of the Queen of the mermaids, which of course makes her a mermaid princess.
  • Bluebell from Reborn! (2004) has a box weapon which turns her into a shonisaurus / human hybrid that resembles a mermaid. However, she doesn't seem to have heard of Seashell Bras, and is instead covered up by her hair (not that there is much to cover up).
  • Rental Magica and Rosario + Vampire have both had the dangerous, flesh-eating kind of mermaid. Though Rosario's, true to its style, appeared as a Cute Monster Girl beforehand.
  • Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai lampshades this trope when Nagisa remarks on Umino's supposed transformation story: "That's the scenario from 'The Little Mermaid', isn't it?" It turns out Umino really did get her story from The Little Mermaid and she was lying about being a mermaid.
  • In the short horror manga School Mermaid, the mermaids actually look like schoolgirls in bathing suits, with an ever-present creepy smile on their face, the ability to swim through solid matter like it was water, and at top speed at that, only come out at night, and can only make screeching sounds. Oh, and if a human girl who's hunting them is unable to kill and eat a mermaid by sunrise, they'll all rise up, drag her down into the floor, and turn her into a mermaid herself.
    • A later chapter reveals that they have the ability to go into some sort of feral mode and develop finned hands, scaly skin, fanged piranha-like mouths and bulging anglerfish eyes, done in response to a girl trying to hunt them that doesn't need to hunt them because the object of their affection already reciprocates.
    • Later chapters reveal if a mermaid eats the flesh of the one she loves, she's restored somewhat to humanity, though she retains the speed of a mermaid and a peculiar manner of speaking. (It's confirmed that they will never completely restore their humanity.) If someone takes one of these mermaids to the sea, and chants a different spell, they will turn into the 'classic' mermaid one thinks of, with a fish's tail. If they eat the flesh of this mermaid, it acts as a Fountain of Youth to them.
    • There IS a way for a mermaid to be completely restored to humanity. They have to eat the flesh of another mermaid with the letter after their letter.
  • Shinkaigyo no Anko-san is a manga all about various mermaids, all based on different sorts of fish and with assorted traits based on the ones they come from. Most obviously, they have fin ears and a lower-body like their type-fish, as well as elaborate hairstyles, but other traits also cross over, including Alluring Anglerfishes with lures on their heads, sharks with serrated fangs and poor vision, pufferfish who can distend their cheeks and who have poisonous skin, eels who secrete slime when nervous, and discus fish who secrete milk when excited. They also live in a world in which they take "Mer-Meds", a medicine that lets them transform their tail into human legs so they can interact with humans. The star of the manga is a cute little anglerfish mermaid and her best friend, a somewhat perverted human girl who's fascinated by mermaids.
  • Usamaru Furuya's Short Cuts has a mock poll about mermaids, asking which would you prefer, regular (fish bottom) or reverse (fish top) mermaid. The final "moral" is that people liking regular mermaids is the reason the population is decreasing: Put up with your partner, even if they have a fish face.
  • In the Slayers anime series, there's a mermaid that's a fish. Literally, just a fish... with tetrapod arms and legs. Not a reverse mermaid. A *whole fish* with legs, arms... oh, and lipstick. There are other merfolk seen in the earlier (1st and 3rd) series; turns out they all look like fish with arms and legs. Their most amusing (and oddly touching) appearance is in a Slayers Try episode: a young fishgirl and the shipwrecked sailor she saved are in love with each other, and use a spell that will allow a fishperson to be with a human if they truly love one another. The spell actually works, and she changes into a beautiful human girl... and he turns into a fishman!
  • In the world of Stealth Symphony, merpeople are often captured and sold as slaves, and are perpetually in half-fish form but can live on dry land. One of them, a mermaid named Wavess, was able to break free and, in something of a sadistic revenge, headed a large operation of capturing and selling humans (and other species) as slaves. She likes to sneak in undercover among the groups of captured slaves, building up hope by giving them encouraging words so as to crush it later. Unique to her, she has the ability to control any water that comes into contact with her blood.
  • Totsugami: The mermaid totsugami looks like a traditional mermaid but instead of swimming through water, it swims through air. Later on, it's revealed that the mermaids true body was a shrunken mummy that belonged to the school's biology preparations room.
  • The sea people from Umi Monogatari resemble humans exactly (not counting Pointy Ears, which nobody seems to notice) except for the need to breathe underwater, though they also have magic rings that can solve that problem. They also tend toward skimpier clothing than most humans, something that is noticed when they go on land.
  • In Vampire Princess Miyu, Rima Minami seems to be the typical mermaid with fish tail and able to breathe underwater kept into a fish tank by her father. The twist is that said dad is a Shinma (and her mom is said to have been a normal mermaid), and Rima also has a twin sister named Mari who does not have anything mermaid-ish, but shares a Psychic Link with Rima that lets the captive mermaid-Shinma girl see the outside world.
  • Zekkyou Gakkyuu features a story about mermaids living in a school pool who take only the beautiful to their land to make them even moreso. The mermaid is real, but it's actually a linked chain of animate drowned corpses that kills girls and adds their bodies to itself.

  • René Magritte's painting The Collective Invention depicts a "reverse mermaid", the front half of a fish joined to the pelvis and legs of a nude woman, stranded on a beach in the least dignified way possible. It also solves the Mermaid Problem in one fell swoop.

    Card Games 
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard has a Clan called Bermuda Triangle that's basically Mermaids combined with the concept of Idol Singer, these can either look like a generic Half-Human/Fish, but sometimes they incorporate more exotic design traits like Fin ears and Webbed Indexes.
  • Magic: The Gathering has had a variety of merfolk cards throughout the years, usually as small utility creatures, and have been a standard Blue tribe. Since the game takes place in a multiverse, Merfolk are different on each plane that has them. They range in appearance from deep-sea fish to Abe Sapien. There are a few subraces of particular note:
    • Vodalia was an ancient empire of merfolk from Dominaria that existed offshore from Sarpadia. It was destroyed in a war with the lobster-like homarids, who completely destroyed it except for a small group that used a portal to flee to a distant colony and which were accidentally sent 3,000 years in the future in the bargain, where they reestablished their empire. They worship Svyelun of Sea and Sky, the game's only Merfolk God to be printed, as the goddess of the Pearl Moon and a distant and stern deity who holds herself apart from her followers like the moon lies unreachably far above the sea.
    • The Rootwater merfolk of Rath are hideous, fish-faced monsters that kill members of any other race without hesitation. They apparently started out as the more standard Dominarian merfolk but were altered via genetic engineering.
    • The merfolk of Saprazzo in the Mercadian Masques set have the power to switch between legs and fins. On land, they just look like lanky, hairless, blue-skinned humans, sometimes with head fins. They have a vaguely Middle Eastern culture.
    • The Odyssey and Onslaught blocks introduced Cephalids, a squid-based type of merfolk that were more squid than humanoid, with soft bodies and limited mobility out of water. In keeping with the "evil tentacles" motif, most of the cephalids were right bastards.
    • The merrows of Lorwyn are the usual attractive human-looking merfolk, though they have brightly colored skin and flamboyant fins; they're merchants and porters with good diplomatic skills. When Lorwyn is transformed into the dark world of Shadowmoor, though, the merrows become black-hearted monsters with much more piscine features (very similar to the Rootwater merfolk of Rath) who prey on other races as pirates. The comparison here: Lorwyn, a bit fishy but friendly-looking. Shadowmoor, looking like a cross between a catfish and Cthulhu.
    • Interestingly, because of their position as small blue creatures, combined with the fact that blue gets small flying creatures, there are a number of merfolk in Magic that can fly. The weirdest example would have to be Gaea's Skyfolk, an "Elf Merfolk" who flies. There has been no attempt to explain this, unlike the other 8 merfolk flyers.
    • More modern MtG merfolk come with legs, which allows sea-themed races without the entire oddness of creatures that can swim in water, and so should beat any non-water breather there, but that can't do much in the atmosphere.
      • Zendikar's merfolk are also heavy on flyers, some — but not all — due to riding large birds or flying manta rays. They also had a rather well fleshed out tripartite religion centering on Leviathans and Angels which unfortunately turned out to be based on distant memories of the Eldrazi. They also have continuing extraplanar representation in the form of the planeswalker Kiora.
      • The Tritons of the Greek Mythology-inspired Theros are distinguished by large, trailing head-fins resembling the plumes of ancient Greek war helmets. They're partially amphibious — they can stay on dry land for several days, but must return to the water to keep their gills soft — and worship Thassa, the God of the Sea, above all other deities. Thassa herself is depicted as a traditional, fish-tailed merfolk with several tentacles growing from her back and shoulders.
      • The merfolk of Ixalan, the River Heralds, are colorful, resembling tropical river fish. They are also nomadic in nature, use jade jewelry and armor and are aligned with Green mana as well as Blue.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Mermail archetype. There are some monsters that fit the traditional fish-tailed depiction. But some like Abyssdine are Unscaled and The Level 7 ones like Abyssteus are straight up Fish People.

    Comic Books 
  • Anthony Bourdain's Hungry Ghosts: The Sazae-oni in "The Pirates" is portrayed as having the ability to switch between a Redhead In Green and a monstrous lobster-esq form.
  • Archie Comics character Ethel Muggs actually dated a merman once — he saw her at the beach, depressed that nobody wanted to go to a dance with her, and used Voluntary Shapeshifting to temporarily gain legs and take her himself.
  • Bulleteer: Suli Stellamaris is a beautiful mermaid with a very long purple tail who works as an actress. She can't be long out of water nor walk on land so she hires the newly superpowered Alix to be her bodyguard.
  • The ElfQuest spin-off Wave Dancers played with this in several ways. (The "mermaids" were space elves modified by magic to live in the water. Exactly how they were modified varied wildly.) One of the females is the octopus variation, but not shunned or evil. Her lower half looks like a hoop skirt made of tentacles.
  • Fathom is about a race of beings who can turn into water or use it as a weapon, among other things.
  • In Gold Digger, Atlanteans are humanoid amphibious aliens with dolphin-like skin, gills, and small fins on their arms and legs to assist in swimming.
  • In Hellboy, Abe Sapien is basically a gill-man. A good-natured, erudite, streamlined gill-man. In Hellboy: The Third Wish, the title character meets some mermaids, including the Bog Roosh, a mermaid-witch who captures him and wants to kill him to prevent the apocalypse.
  • Marvel Comics Atlanteans, and various subraces, are an interesting example. Their appearance generally depends on what continuity is active at the time. In the Silver Age, Marvel Atlanteans were the human inhabitants of Atlantis until it sank, whereupon they were turned into blue-skinned water breathers by the god Neptune. In earlier comics, the men looked like fishmen and they weren't actually from Atlantis. When Namor was reintroduced in the 1960s in Fantastic Four, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby retconned the Submariners (what they used to call Namor's mother's race) to Atlanteans as water breathing blue-skinned people. Hybrids apparently can breathe air, are stronger than either race, and can fly with wings on their feet. There were also green-skinned fish-men who were the later Lemurian offshoot, mutated by the snake-god they worshiped. Namor is the only one with the wings though, and that's because in addition to being a Half-Human Hybrid, he is also a mutant.
  • Meat Cake has Effluvia, a beautiful but slutty mermaid who flirts with sailors — and then lures them to their deaths and turns their souls into jewelry. She travels about on land with a wheelchair, usually.
  • CrossGen's Scion has a variety of humanoid sea-dwellers who were descended from a genetically-engineered servant species, but had broken free and lived in an Underwater City. They were smallish, gray humanoids with two legs and gills. And their leaders (?) look like giant, luminescent brine shrimp. No joke.
  • The silver age comic Sea Devils had a good example of this trope in one issue with the Sea Devils themselves being turned into various forms of nontraditional merfolk including a manta ray, sea horse and shark.
  • Silverblade: Jonathan Lord played a merman in two films: The Green Lagoon and Return to the Green Lagoon. He assumes this form while swimming with Sandra (who regards The Green Lagoon as the most romantic movie they ever made together) and unintentionally almost causes her to drown.
  • Superman's ex, Lori Lemaris, is a mermaid (it's... complicated) who lived on land by using a wheelchair and keeping her tail covered. Eventually she was magically given the power to turn into a human (any contact with water changes her back, though.)
  • Swordquest: Waterworld has the Aqualanians, a race of undersea merpeople; aside from their yellow-green skin and green hair, they look like humans (complete with legs) and are capable of breathing air.
  • In Teen Titans Go!, the comic adaptation of the Animated Adapatation of Teen Titans, Gill Girl is a Fish Person who, unlike most, isn't human-looking enough to be your typical hot mermaid. She is tearing up the city searching for her mate... revealed to be a normal, non-anthropomorphic turtle. Other than her (and we don't get her story) most Atlanteans are of the Aquaman/Aqualad entirely human-looking style (except for the solid-black eyes, in Aqualad's case [purple-irised in the original comics].) Gill Girl was possibly inspired by The DCU character Lagoon Boy, who was introduced in Erik Larsen's Aquaman run as a representative of one of various oceanic humanoid races who comprised Atlantis' minority groups (merfolk and Aquaman-type humanoids being the majority). L.B. is basically a teenage version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, with the ability to expand like a puffer fish.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Golden Age Gerta von Gunther created a number of winged shark mermaids; they were led by one of their number named Sharkeeta and turned against her to get retribution for being kept in tanks like pets.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Silver Age Ronno is a merman who has had a crush on Wonder Woman since they were both teenagers, and ends up putting himself in danger by insisting on hanging out on land to be near her since he is not very mobile out of the water and has to hop to get around. His mer-village offshore of Paradise Island is also home to mer-centaurs.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): The mermaids in the waters around Themyscira are cruel creatures Diana is not fond of and try to drag a recuperating Steve Trevor to a watery grave as he sleeps in a cave on the shore. Diana gives him the leaves of a red plant to strew about to keep them away.

    Comic Strips 
  • The short-lived 1980's comic strip Norb by Tony Auth and Daniel Pinkwater visited Atlantis once, and that story arc ended with the implication that Jacobowitz was about to get romantic with a mermaid... one with the head and body of a fish, and the legs of a beautiful woman.
  • Safe Havens:
    • Main character Remora, who has taught us a lot of unexpected things about merfolk over the years. For example, they use bubbles for currency. Not sure what they use for a wallet. They also have the option of either being a merperson 24 hours a day or splitting their time between being a human for half the day and a fish the other half. Also, it's the mermen that get pregnant, as Thomas found out the hard way. Probably the most notable thing though is, if a human saves a merperson's life three times, they themselves become a merperson. And 'saving' can be something as simple as tossing them a flotation ring or signing legislature.
    • As it turns out...merfolk are of alien origin, as the first thing Samantha discovered when she studied their genome is that they didn't evolve on Earth. It turns out merfolk originated on Venus, tried moving to Earth when Venus became uninhabitable, and modern merfolk descend from those left behind when the rest of the species left Earth after finding it too dangerous (Remora suspects it was because they missed the ride, rather than any bravado on their part).
    • Enough of their DNA remained on Mars that, when Samantha terraformed it, merfolk began appearing in Mars's lake...except since the dodos have made their home there, the Martian merfolk are half fish, half dodo. This causes Samantha to theorize that merfolk take on whatever the dominant species on a planet was as their top half, and goes on to further suggest that plesiosaurs were what merfolk looked like in the age of the dinosaurs.

     Eastern European Animation 

    Fan Works 
  • In An Anthem for Sheltered Bays, at first Eren and his village appears to be the standard half-human, half-fish mermaid and Mikasa is an octopus based mermaid but the former are escaped genetic experiments that were originally human and the latter were a branch that evolved within the sea. Mikasa's people were killed because of this and both variations cannot procreate with each other.
  • In The Bridge, there are three types of mermaid equivalents in Equestria. Seaponies are the smallest and simplest, resembling oversized seahorses and are ruled by King Leo in Aquestria. Mermares look like a hippocampus with fins for forelimbs, but using the magical charms they wear around their necks they can take on the appearance of a terrestrial equine with a wet mane. They do this to either work above sea level or, given that they are an all-female species, find a mate. Any offspring born from such unions will overwhelmingly be female, Mermares themselves, with any rare sons being the father's species. Most of them used to be nomadic, but those in the Eastern ocean amassed at Mako Island and named the founder of that island the first queen. Since then they have lived under an elected monarchy, with the current ruler being an old friend of Celestia and rival to Luna named Queen Maui. A sirens also resemble hippocampi and were born from the union of three wendigoes forcing themselves upon pair of mermare princesses. They specifically draw power from song magic by inducing certain emotions in people that listen to their singing.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Namor appears towards the end of the first book, first stabilizing a collapsing SHIELD Helicarrier, then intervening at the Battle of London, smashing open HYDRA's base atop a colossal sea serpent, whilst bellowing his catchphrase. Like canon, he looks more or less human, and he has an ambivalent attitude to the surface world - he respects certain humans (holding Steve in particular in very high regard), but is fairly suspicious of humanity as a whole, feeling out a potential alliance with Magneto.
    • More inhuman varieties, closer to fae than human, such as Sirens, are referenced, and their relatives, Undines, appear in the sequel, complete with hypnotic singing. Harry mostly just finds it annoying and tells them — at which point they get annoyed at his insulting their music. When they take physical form, they're noted as being attractive young women, though this puts Harry even more on his guard, as he's conscious that in many ways, it's a hunting strategy.
  • A Diplomatic Visit:
    • After Queen Novo is namedropped in chapter 18, she's officially identified in chapter 21 as Queen of Seaquestria and the seaponies.
    • The same chapter mentions King Leo of Aquastria (from the picture book Under The Sparkling Sea), which is located in the western ocean and is home to seaponies, mermares and merlions; in the book, these seaponies are based on the seahorse-like G1 seaponies, with prehensile tails and large, transparent fins, while the mermares are similar, but have larger bodies, full fish tales and prehensile fins, and King Leo is closer in looks to a mermare but with a lion's head instead of a horse's.
  • Guppy Love: Neither Rarity nor Sweetie Belle's tails turn into human legs when they’re out of the water, further negating Applejack's desire for Rarity to stay after her injured tail has healed.
  • In Keepers of the Elements, there are the mermaids who live in Aequori Kingdom. They are all shown to wear regular tops on their top halves. The previous Water Keeper Marissa lived there for some time and even fell in love with one of mermen there, eventually getting him changed to a human somehow and going to Earth to live with her where they eventually had a family together.
  • Kaiju Revolution: The Seatopians are the descendants of a paleolithic human civilization who took refuge on Mu when their society collapsed. Generations of living there has altered their biology, they grew a tail derived from their sacrum, their legs became flippers and what appears to be red hair on their heads are actually stands of blood-vessel rich tissues that allow them to extract oxygen from the water, not to mention that they're all female and reproduce parthenogenically. They have managed to retain some of their advanced technology and sometimes send genetically modified agents to observe humanity.
  • Kindred explains mermaid biology in Ariel's oneshot: Ariel is a warm-water Pacific ocean mermaid, which are the "classic" mermaids everyone knows of. Deep-sea mermaids are pale, have distended jaws, whip-like tails with threads attached to them, and very little hair. Indian ocean mermaids are half the size of Pacific mermaids, have two lace-like fins, and can't swim (instead they use currents to move). Atlantic ocean mermaids are muscular, have a lot of blubber, and wear sealskin cloaks. South Pole mermaids are as small as sea-horses and can only float. It's mentioned that some mermaids, such as Pacific mermaids, only have mouths as vestigial organs and actually filter-feed using their fins.
  • Strange Scales introduces mermaids as a third race of immortals. Like vampires, humans can be turned into mermaids and subsequently gain an appetite for blood (as well as obviously eating marine life). While they obviously gain a tail in place of legs, they can also return to a human form if brought to land, although they can only communicate in English while underwater, requiring the Cullens to learn Mermish through Edward translating based on the characters' thoughts (characters speculate that they could make a "mask" that would allow Bella to talk by placing water over her mouth, but no such mask is created in the narrative).
  • What The Water Gave Me: Mermaids are an all-female race of creatures that have a powerful, hypnotic song and a taste for human flesh (especially men). They lure sailors along, then they snatch them up, mate with them and then eat them. Despite this, they do possess intelligence and personalities close to humans, with the power to imbue humans the power to breath underwater through a kiss and the even worship a mystical force they call "the Water", which turned Hiccup, Valka and Astrid into merpeople. Hiccup is currently the only merman in existence.

    Films — Animation 
  • Any of the many, many, derivatives of "The Little Mermaid" always use "The Little Mermaid Method" of course.
    • The most famous being Disney's, which features a time limitation (three days), a price (like always, her voice), and a clause which means Ariel turns into a polyp if she can't get Eric to kiss her in time. Note that this is all due to Ursula's plot; it's not a limitation of the spell (either that or Triton has more powerful magic).
    • Ursula herself has purplish skin (with the rest of the merfolk showing normal human skin-tones) and an octopus bottom. Even stranger because she was originally meant to be Ariel's aunt in earlier versions.note  The sequel gives her a sister, Morgana, who also has an octopus design (or maybe squid, since she's skinnier) and greenish skin.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas has an "Underwater Gal" as a scene-stealing minor character. She is essentially a Mermaid-as-Monster-Girl.
  • Onward shows a few, though none are named or given lines (despite the "kiddie pool" one from the trailer becoming an Ensemble Dark Horse). They're pretty standard, but with some added fishy features on their human halves, including fin-like ears.
  • Interestingly, the mermaids in Disney's Peter Pan are of the "dangerously amoral" type, especially for its time. Their shell bras are much more "realistic" than Ariel's, who came later; they're not held on by any straps, they're just sea-creatures attached to the mermaids' chests. One of them is quite obviously only covered by a flower lei, and another by her hair. When Wendy meets them, they attack her. When Peter calls them on this, one of them protests, "We were only trying to drown her!" By the time The Little Mermaid came around, Disney had toned down its mermaids quite a bit, and no one seems to remember the ones from Peter Pan.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It varies kingdom to kingdom in Aquaman (2018). Atlantians and Xebelians look like standard humans, while others evolved further when Atlantis fell into the sea: the Fishermen are fish-like humanoids, the citizens of the Kingdom of the Brine evolved to look like crustaceans, and the Trench regressed into what look like violent, animalistic human-anglerfish hybrids. The Kingdom Beyond the Sea and the Desert Kingdom are both long since abandoned, although, given the statues in the latter, the Deserters may have stayed humanoid when Atlantis fell.
  • The film version of Aquamarine follows "The Splash Method" — but see Literature below. She also has to turn back into a mermaid after sunset so she takes up residence in the town's water tower each night. She's also able to grant a wish to any human that helps her. As long as "it doesn't violate the laws of physics".
  • There's a running joke in The Cabin in the Woods about one character's desire to see a "merman." His partner replies, "Why? Those things are terrifying." He does eventually get to see one... shortly before it eats him, causing him to let out an exasperated "oh, come on!" as his Famous Last Words.
  • The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Now, now, he is ugly and lives in The Amazon rather than the sea — but he IS still technically a merman.
  • Dagon starts with the protagonist having a dream about a classic mermaid, only that it turns out she had sharp teeth. Later in the movie, he meets that mermaid... but she does not look like a typical mermaid or have the fangs she had in the dream. She looks like a human with gills along her ribs and a long, squid-like tentacle in place of each leg. She was also his half-sister and wanted him to marry her. Yay Lovecraft.
  • Deadtime Stories: Volume 1: In "Wet", mermaids are evil creatures with a taste for men's flesh. They can only be destroyed by hacking them apart and burying the pieces separately sealed inside special jade boxes called 'mori tombs'.
  • The live-action film Hook, which has Peter Pan revisiting Neverland as an adult, has a brief scene with a trio of mermaids. They appear as half-beautiful woman, half-fish creatures with brightly-colored hair, each giving Peter a kiss to give him air before sending him up to the Lost Boys' camp in a giant oyster.
  • The Lighthouse features a single mermaid, first seen swimming in a (possible) dream sequence swimming in the ocean, then found by the younger character stranded and covered in seaweed where he examines her and finds that this particular mermaid avoids Mermaid Problem by having what can be best described as a "fin vulva". While he is originally horrified, he eventually has sex with her, and she appears finally during one climatic scene. Or maybe he imagined all of that.
  • In Local Hero, the mermaid Marina only has webbed toes. Or maybe she's just a woman with webbed toes.
  • The Made-for-PAX-TV Movie Mermaids (not to be confused with the 1980s Cher vehicle — which has nothing to do with mermaids) features the "Splash Method," with an added complication: the protagonists also turn into mermaids at low tide every night. They're also bound by some kind of natural law to grant wishes for humans. If a human says "I wish" within their presence, they're forced to grant it.
  • A 2014 film called Nymph features a villainous mermaid as its monster. She hypnotizes a hermit into murdering people to presumably feed to her. She's also able to change from a beautiful woman to a scary demon at will.
  • In Pan mermaids feature briefly when the protagonists take a trip to their lagoon and they save Peter from drowning. Their tails glow and they appear to be identical in appearance — as they're all played by the same actress.
  • In Finnish comedy film Pekka ja Pätkä sammakkomiehinä ("Pekka and Pätkä as Frogmen") The protagonists have been drafted to Navy as combat divers. Pekka, while practicing SCUBA diving, rescues a mermaid who has stuck on fishing nets. He takes her to his home and puts her in bathtub. When Pekka's wife, Justiina, arrives from grocer's, she initially sees her tail, and thinks Pekka has brought a humongous pike for dinner, and takes a knife to prepare her for dinner. But when she sees the tail belongs to a real mermaid, she faints from shock.
  • The 2003 film version of Peter Pan featured mermaids that look to simply be beautiful half-naked women with fish-tails; you don't notice the claws and the needle-sharp teeth at first.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides features pretty naked women with fishtails...who also have fangs and will rape you (given that there's no men, it's apparently the only way they can supply their numbers) and eat you until there's nothing left. If you're lucky, you drown before the latter happens. But ignoring that, they can be very nice.
    • They are also strong enough that in large groups they can tear an entire wooden ship apart in moments.
    • Their fins can turn into legs if on land, but they don't do this very often, so they aren't very good at at it. Also, despite being aquatic creatures, they need air to breathe. But will apparently dry out and die if left out of water for too long.
    • They can also shoot seaweed out of their hands like Spider-Man.
  • In the British diving movie Pressure, one of the divers has a hallucination of a naked young woman swimming freely in the deep sea. She embraces him, and then bites into his neck.
  • Made-for-TV Movie Sabrina Down Under has a merperson colony. It follows "The Little Mermaid Method"; no payment but there is a time limitation on Sabrina's spell which turns merman Barnaby human. Mermaids are also susceptible to diseases that fish get as a result of toxic waste being dumped into the ocean.
  • The second Sharktopus sequel was originally intended to sic the title creature on a "Mermantula". Subverted when this concept was replaced with a "Whalewolf".
  • The mermaid in She Creature has the ability to grant fertility by possessing women during sex. She does this to the female protagonist Lily, whom she spared from the massacre of the crew.
  • Splash, obviously. Daryl Hannah plays the mermaid in question and much hijinx comes from her trying to pass herself as a human to her love interest (played by Tom Hanks). She transforms whenever her legs get wet.
  • The Made-for-TV Movie The Thirteenth Year has its mermaids and mermen appear as normal human children up until their 13th birthday, upon which they begin to go through a fishy puberty where they acquire a mishmash of marine animal abilities. In addition to becoming able to swim very well and hold his breath underwater for several minutes, the lead character starts to grow scales on his arms, discovers he can scale walls thanks to octopus powers, and discovers he can produce electricity thanks to electric eel heritage. And this is all before his legs become a fishy tail. That still doesn't explain why he swims like a dolphin rather than any normal stroke (he is on his high school swim team) before the transformation.
  • Zoolander has Ben Stiller appear as a merman in a TV commercial.

  • The original, printed page Aquamarine, by Alice Hoffman, centers around a Mermaid who is stranded in a swimming pool after a storm. She's a bit self-centered, but eventually realises she will need the help of the only humans who know about her if she is ever to return home and to her sisters. She cannot transform into a human at all. The rescue actually takes some time and effort — enough time for Aquamarine to develop a crush on a human man...
  • Book of Imaginary Beings: The Ocean Men of China have the heads and arms of humans and the bodies and tails of fish.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, Aekon thinks he has been underwater too long because he is hallucinating a merman come to claim his life and carry off his soul. Then he realizes that it looks just like one of his squad-mates, and then he realizes it is the Space Marine in question, come to ensure that he survives.
  • The Ustredi in The Chronicles of Magravandias. They are not dissimilar to The Fair Folk. Some are just straight-up Fish People and some are so beautiful it hurts to look at them. The beautiful ones are the most dangerous. The Palindrake family has the ability to command the Ustredi through means of an ancient contract.
  • Mermaids appear in the third book in Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, "The Sorceress". They are the daughters of Nereus, the Old Man of the Sea who has the octopus bottom but they all have fish tails. Josh notes that some are beautiful women while others resemble fish and crabs. They all have green skin and sharp teeth and claws (hint: they're not on the side of good) as well as having apparent powers through singing. Virginia Dare is attacked by one and claims to have stolen her voice, leaving her mute and then implies Nereus will "dispose of her" since she is useless to him now.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia series there are two varieties.
    • There are merman and mermaids that attend the coronation at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and sing in honor of the newly crowned kings and queens. These could live in and out of water, though no further description of any kind is given. The artist for the early editions draws them as typical mermaids and merman as beautiful humans with bare chests, green tails, and blonde hair.
    • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Lucy encounters a hunting party of male and female Sea People far to the East in the deep oceans. Their skin is the color of "old ivory"and they have dark purple hair. Lucy mistakes them to be just like those they met before, but Edmund points out that these Sea People seem unable to leave the water, even for a short time, otherwise the Sea People would have attacked the two of them. Therefore they presumably looked at least somewhat alike. These Sea People rode giant Sea-Horses, wielded spears, and used hunting fish to hunt other fish for sport. The ones they saw had some sort of orange or emerald streamer from their shoulders, wore different kinds of coronets (some with gold) and some wore chains of pearls, but no other clothes. They had a large castle or city a top an underwater mountain, for, as C. S. Lewis points out from the point of view of underwater people, mountains and valleys' characteristics are reversed — mountains are the warm civilised areas near the surface, valleys are the mysterious dark areas populated by monsters. The artist for the early editions draws them as beautiful and bipedal.
  • Chronicles of the Emerged World: Mermaids have their own civilization far into the ocean, where they coexist with the albino-like inhabitants of the Submerged World, although they maintain a government of their own — by necessity, as they live in the ocean itself and the people of the Submerged World in Underwater Cities within magically suspended bubbles of glass. A secondary race known as sirenids also exists, resembling albino humans with gills on their necks, and arose from the intermingling of mermaids and humans.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Pool of the Black Ones", the arrival of a man on the deck of a ship at sea raises the question whether he's a merman. No, it's Conan. He's just been swimming for a while.
  • In Kai Meyer's first installment of the Dark Reflections Trilogy, The Water Mirror, the mermaids who inhabit Venice appear to be normal-looking women with fish tails- until you notice that their mouths are larger, longer, and filled with very sharp teeth. They are sentient but are considered bestial by the Venetians, who use them to pull their gondolas and occasionally eat them. They cannot assume human form through magical means, but one mermaid lives as a human thanks to surgically-created legs and a mask covering the lower half of her face.
  • Elsewhere: Mermaids apparently swim in the ocean that's in between the world of the living and the dead (It Makes Sense in Context). They briefly appear when the main character is trapped under the water, unable to move or breathe. They are beautiful, but vain and meanspirited, making fun of how ugly she is before leaving her to drown. They seem more like The Fair Folk than evil though.
  • John Ringo's Emerald Sea features mermen and mermaids created by genetic engineering. They look like traditional merfolk but have a unique physiology combining fish and dolphin traits. They also find it hard to survive in the ocean after the loss of technology reduces them to a stone-age hunter-gatherer society.
  • L. Sprague de Camp features mermaids in several fantasy stories. In all of them (even ones in different continuities) the mermaids are part dolphin, rather than part fish. They are also streamlined for swimming, so the females breasts are generally smaller than those typically portrayed in mermaid art. The mermaids are fairly friendly: in one story ("Nothing in the Rules") one is even paid to enter a swim meet.
  • Alastair Reynolds wrote about "Denizens" in his Revelation Space series; the Denizens were created by genetic engineering and are thorough fusions of human and fish DNA, along with sequences to secrete antifreeze and let them breathe hydrogen sulfide instead of oxygen. They look thoroughly monstrous.
  • In the Doctor Who tie-in spin off Genius Loci one of the characters tells Bernice Summerfield a gruesome mermaid story in which a fisherman, with a fine sense of the pragmatic, chops a mermaid in two and takes the fish half home as his catch of the day. The bifurcated mermaid turns out to have been the daughter of the queen of the mermaids and hilarity ensues.
    • In another Doctor Who novel, the "Missing Adventures" novel Evolution, the Doctor comes across a colony of artificially engineered mermaids, created by fusing abducted human children with a "gilled dolphin-creature". Both the mermaids and the "donor-animal" were created by a Mad Scientist who was lucky enough to witness the crash of a spaceship belonging to one of the amorphous shapeshifting Rutans and retrieved some Rutan healing gel, which has the ability to fuse genetic traits from different species together.
  • Dream Girl by J. Conway Jameson features a lesbian mermaid named Áine, who seduces and kills unconvicted rapists, murderers, and abusers of women. She uses "The Splash Method", but taking after the Nixie legend, her human form has a perpetually wet skirt or pant hem.
  • The Emily Windsnap books also use "The Splash Method". A "semi-mer", with one mermaid and one human parent, can become a mermaid when totally immersed in water, and will become human again when not, wet or dry; they can even take showers and baths, evidenced by the protagonist, who didn't learn she was a mermaid until taking a swimming class at the age of 13. Full mermaids are permanently mermaids and cannot even become a human by use of magic. It's also worth mentioning they have pockets in their tails.
  • The mermaid in the poem "The Figurehead" is the daughter of none other than Davy Jones. And she's a Spoiled Brat about it; not exactly evil, but selfish and indifferent to the core. Like the sirens of mythology, her domain is littered with wrecks and bones, from which she's fashioned her home.
  • In Four Kids, Three Cats, Two Cows, One Witch (Maybe) Kevin tells Beverly a story about a family of merpeople where the father gets fed up of being neglected by his family and leaves to marry a human woman. He loses his tail because of this but is able to regain it at night time.
  • MaryJanice Davidsons' Fred the Mermaid erotica/paranormal romance has Fredericka Bimm as a lead character. She and the other mermaids in the series can simply become human at will. Even their human form is much faster and stronger than a normal human and they are all telepathic except for Frederika who is only telepathic underwater.
  • In John C. Wright's Fugitives of Chaos, Amelia speaks of sailors who brought back mermaid wives — whose tails transformed when their wedding bells rang.
  • Goosebumps: Deep Trouble: The main character is rescued by a mermaid before it is captured and almost sold to a zoo by the evil human antagonists.
  • Halvgudene is a quite weird example. They have both women and men, that are all siblings and they vote forth their new leader which they call Mother or Father based on their gender. They are are a little more like Fish People due to having gills on their necks and have fish-like eyes.
  • In Harry Potter merpeople appear during the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament, when Harry and the other Champions have to visit their village in the school's lake. The merpeople Harry meets are rather ugly by human standards, with gray skin, green hair and yellow teeth and eyes. The spin-off media book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them mentions that there are at least three kind of mermaids—the Scottish selkies that Harry sees, the Irish merrow and the warm-water sirens—and that the latter apparently fit the more traditional, "beautiful" model.
  • The Heroes of Olympus also shows members of the merfolk. These are related to Poseidon, and even have some kind of training camp on the seabed. They look like humans, but have a fish tail as a lower body. They teeth resemble those of sharks, and their skin color can be green, blue, red or black. They also have glowing yellow or green eyes. They are both male and female. Poseidon's son Triton also belongs to the merfolk, but has two fish tails instead of one.
  • In the Ingo Young Adult books by Helen Dunmore, the Mer (don't call them Mermaids, Mermen, or Merfolk) are described as half-human, half-seal. They can't become human but humans can become Mer apparently. They don't like humans very much, except for the Half-Human Hybrids with whom they can communicate.
  • Kit Whitfield's Deepmen in In Great Waters are air breathing (although they can stay under for up to 30 minutes) mammals with tails, notably less intelligent than humans, although they have a language it's limited to purely practical matters, abstract concepts like religion being alien to them and can breed with humans. In fact all the royal houses of Europe (and possibly the world) have some Deepman blood.
  • In Into the Drowning Deep, mermaids are a unique species of predatory amphibians with eel-like tails, bioluminescent hair, the ability to perfectly mimic any sound they hear, and sexual dimorphism similar to anglerfish.
  • In Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson, the standard mermaids are pretty standard, with the difference that they're not supernaturally beautiful. Of the three merpeople on the island, one is a visibly old woman, one is a standard mermaid, and the latter's baby son is so fat that he looks like a beach ball if you don't look closely. They were thrown out of their home by the young mermaid's husband, who fell head over heels for a french mermaid, who had two tails.
  • In the Kathi Appelt novel Keeper, a young boy named Jacques is a merman; he changes to his form via the "Splash" method.
  • Anne Greenwood Brown's young adult novel Lies Beneath and its sequel Deep Betrayal feature mermaids who can change into human form at will (though depending on how long they've been out of water, immersion can trigger an immediate, instinctive change, and it is sometimes painful). In mermaid form, a silver ring is visible around their neck. Other abilities include generating electricity (which can be governed by emotions), telepathy with fish, and a telepathic bond with others in their family while in mermaid form, which can only be severed by the head of their family. Mermaids are instinctively drawn to others in the link, and it makes it very hard for a mermaid (or merman) to strike out on their own, though some with stronger wills are capable of doing so. They age at a rate of one year for every three that go by. Mermaids are unable to break a promise once made, and react VERY badly to humans who do so.
    • Feeding-wise, Lies Beneath mermaids can eat normal food, but are drawn to humans whose auras shine with positive emotions, absorbing them directly from the human, leaving them as dried-out husks and providing the mermaid with a brief reprieve from their natural bleakness. They are predators, and act like them.
    • Reproduction is done in two ways: first, directly with humans while in human form. After the birth, the infant is left with the father until they learn to walk, at which point they are returned to the mother, and live as a mermaid full-time. The other, less common way is known as "reinvigoration", in which a human drowns and has their heart restarted via the mermaid's electric shock. This method fully converts the human into a mermaid, and bonds them to their new family. It is a very rare event, but can be done, usually by a mermaid who had drowned a victim and had second thoughts.
  • Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid", of course. In the original tale, mermaids lived three hundred years before turning into sea foam; they did not have immortal souls and could not acquire one except through marriage to a human, which would give them the right to share in the human destiny. The Sea Witch required her most precious possession — her unusually fine voice — as payment for the transformation spell, since it required the Witch's own blood, and the voice was not refundable; the Sea Witch cut out her tongue. The transformation was very painful, as though she had been cut with a sword, and she was warned up front that forever afterward, every step she took would feel as though she were treading on knives. She was also warned that if the prince married someone else, her heart would break and she would turn to sea foam just as if she had lived out her full three hundred years. At the VERY end, the mermaid who wanted a soul dies and becomes an air spirit who can earn a soul by 100 years of good deeds — with the Anvilicious remark that an air spirit's time may be reduced if she sees well-behaved children who make her smile, or increased if she sees wicked children who make her weep. As the sea witch in this version isn't evil, she does provide a reversal to the spell: a knife that the mermaid can kill the prince with to regain her tail. The price for that is much cheaper: all of her sisters' hair.
  • Sarah Porter's Lost Voices Trilogy has a rather dark and unique take on mermaids. Certain young human girls have the potential to come back as mermaids, if they suffered severe abuse or neglect in their human lives. They are reborn as beautiful mermaids with fish tails and enchanting voices that can entrance or madden humans — though the talent is actually pretty rare considering. These mermaids are ageless, though not completely immortal, and all still traumatized from what they endured in life. They also act a bit like water mammals — they do breath air, but they can hold it for a very long time underwater. They sink ships and drown people as revenge against all of humanity for what was done to them by parents/caretakers and other people in their previous lives — this is also implied to be something like an instinct. They form tribes in the oceans (this is for survival, as they can still be killed by humans, sharks, etc. and still need to eat, though they can survive on raw shellfish) and have strict laws against having any contact with humans other than singing them to their doom. Once transformed, they can't survive out of the water for long, and if trapped on dry land, they will revert to human form and then die (a very painful process). It is implied that certain young men and boys have the same kind of potential if badly treated in life, but attempts to transform them are usually unsuccessful.
  • In The Lost Years of Merlin, mermaids are mentioned occasionally, though only seen, briefly, in the last book. Apparently Merlin's paternal grandmother was one. How they got around the Mermaid Problem isn't mentioned, but then, his grandfather was a wizard...
  • H. P. Lovecraft's enigmatic Deep Ones are supposed to be the truth-behind-the-myth of mermaids. They're immortal, extremely unattractive... and they can mate with humans. The offspring are born effectively human, but undergo a slow metamorphosis.
    • Minor note: The capacity for interbreeding is Handwaved by Lovecraft as "all life has a common descent," never mind the fact humans can't even breed with the closet-related thing, chimps.
    • Humans are willing to do this for huge amounts of gold, sharing of knowledge of Black Magic, and because the offspring never grow old (Carrying on my family by making immortal kids? I'll put a bag over her head!)
      • Worth noting as well that this is something of a bait and switch deal. The humans are given treasures and powers in exchange for minor deeds up until the Deep Ones are sure that their chosen human is completely dependent on them, then comes the proposition.
      • Deep One hybrids can retain their human appearance for decades before undergoing the transformation, long enough for themselves to interbreed with humans and pass along the Deep One gene.
  • Another very different—though friendlier—variation are Vonda McIntyre's "divers", who appear in several of her works. Imagine people with some sea-lion-like traits engineered in, plus lungs modified for use in either air or water. That's the short description. (They're also usually described as attractive...and decidedly not subject to the Mermaid Problem.)
    • McIntyre's historical fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun has the sea people, who have hind limbs adapted for swimming instead of fish tails, as well as webbed fingers and claws. They also have an anatomical adaptation (just like that of the divers, only they come by it naturally rather than being genetically engineered) that allows them to breathe water as well as air. And their language consists of songs.
  • The merfolk in the Mermaid Magic trilogy come in two different varieties — normal merfolk (with green tails, sea-blue or sea-green eyes and blonde hair) and magical merfolk (with orange tails, goldeny-brown eyes, red hair and the ability to perform magic). Rani, the protagonist, is a magical mermaid who was adopted by normal merfolk when she was a baby.
  • "The Mermaid's Madness" by Jim C. Hines features a proud tribe of merfolk (they prefer the term "Undine") who appear to be of the standard human-on-top, fish-on-bottom variety. Members of the nobility of this tribe differ however, in that they have two tails (bypassing the Mermaid Problem quite nicely.)
  • The post-apocalyptic mermaids in Alida Van Gores' Mermaid's Song come in two varieties: Mirra (traditional) and Mog (more fish-like). The Mirra have dolphin-like tails (and reproductive organs) and constitute an oppressed minority. Unusually, neither species can transform, since humans appear to be extinct and the surface world doesn't figure into the story much at all.
  • In The Merman's Children by Poul Anderson merfolk are humanoid, with blue-green skin, webbed hands and feet, gills and attractive enough that one of them seduces a human woman and has children by her.
  • Monster of the Month Club: Chelsea, the April Selection, is based on a mermaid, and spends most of her time in Rilla's tub.
  • The Half-Human Hybrids of Jack Chalker's Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke novel The Moreau Factor (note the title) include at least three species of merfolk: hermaphroditic frog-women, humanoid dolphins and "Creature from the Black Lagoon"-style Fish People.
  • Moribito: The Water Folk is a mysterious, barely glimpsed race of Creature from the Black Lagoon-style amphibious humanoids.
  • The mermaids of My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister include traits of sirens and selkies as well. Their entire body is humanoid, but they can wrap their long hair around their lower half to form a fish-shaped tail (similar to a selkie's skin). They can control anyone who hears their song, similar to sirens. One thing that stands out is their ability to control rock, not something generally associated with mermaids. This is based on the stories of mermaids killing sailors, similar to how rocks and reefs wreck ships.
  • In Paul Jennings's short story Nails, merfolk can interbreed with humans, but the offspring look perfectly human up until their teens. Then their fingernails and toenails start to apparently multiply... these are actually developing scales, and when the process is complete, the hybrid has become a new merperson, legs fusing together into a tail which, like their arms, is covered in scales.
    • To be more exact, the mermen have legs but are covered in scales up to their necks while mermaids are just traditional merfolk, so only a female half-breed's legs would fuse.
  • In the short story National Geographic on Assignment: Mermaids of the Old West (included in the anthology Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, different species of mermaids correspond to different species of fish, including shark and catfish.
  • K?b? Abe's short story Ningyoden (Mermaid Legend) is about a man falling in love with a flesh-eating mermaid. There's also some cloning involved. Since his work was influenced by Franz Kafka it's also a Mind Screw.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Never stated in-story, but the cover of the eighth episode, features a Living Figurehead as a mermaid.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, several mermaids play minor roles. We are told that one recovered Hector of Troy's sword, Duranadel, to be given to Roland.
  • The Reynard Cycle: The Naga are aquatic Chimera who blend human features with that of fish, serpents, whales, etc., etc. Some of them are depicted as having the ability to charm men to their deaths by drowning, but most of them just want to eat you. In Reynard the Fox, the Gate of Tears is the lair of one that has grown larger than a war galley, and has its human features mixed with those of a serpent, a giant squid, and a sea lion respectively.
  • Mermaids in the River of Dancing Gods series are half human and half dolphin but their social organization resembles a pack of hyenas crossed with the mafia. They make their living extorting protection money from fishermen.
  • The Skelks in The Saga Of Larten Crepsley — their tails are hair, which they can grow out or suck back into their bodies at will. They communicate through their hair as well.
  • The Saga of the Noble Dead has a young noble, who from time to time partly turns into a creature of the merfolk. His fiancée always locks him in, so that he can not swim out into the sea at this time. It turns out that some of his ancestors had common descendants with the merfolk, and for this reason the nobles in this family are not entirely human. And now and then some of them change, and swim into the sea. This noble man also turns completely into the plot, and finally escapes into the sea.
  • Peter S. Beagle wrote a short story called Salt Wine where a merman rewards a sailor who rescued him by giving him the recipe for salt wine. It makes him rich, but then it turns out that a small number of those who drink it become transformed into mer-creatures themselves. Here, mermaids are portrayed as wild and inhuman, and they range from supernaturally hideous to supernaturally beautiful.
  • There are sirens in Samhain Island but called “mermaids” by Tremaine. They’re ghoulish creatures who patrol and guard the Macabre from wandering tourists or monster hunters. Each siren has a noticeable injury or infliction. Marshall, partner to Santa Muerte, is pale green and has ice protruding from his back. Kaimana has unnatural grey hair and has the scar of a shark bite on her torso, and Pinwheel is sickly pale and trembles for an unknown reason.
  • The Cray from China Miéville's The Scar are essentially lobster-bodied centaurs (lobtaurs?). The Grindylow from the same novel are much less friendly mermen.
  • In The Sea Lady by H.G. Wells the mermaid is one who believes she doesn't have a soul but in questioning Melville she gets him to not be able to describe what a soul is. The Sea Lady is also immortal as expected all mermaids are given she doesn't understand Adeline's comment about "mer-child"s. She had zero problem living outside the water for an extended period of time. Also they read human literature that gets tossed into the sea.
  • The Secret of Platform 13 mentions mermaids living on the Island; apparently, one even applied to become the Prince's nurse, apparently believing that she could get around the palace in a big tub of water on wheels or something. Some of the London mermaids also perform at the Midsummer's party for Raymond; one had cut her hair short and spiky for a beachfront rock concert, which kind of ruined the effect, though. Of course, it's important to mention that Melisande is not a mermaid, she's a water nymph; she has feet.
  • Donna Jo Napoli's novel Sirena portrays mermaids in the traditional beautiful, sailor-seducing manner but adds a few details. Her mermaids (and their ocean-dwelling brothers mermen) are the product of the god Eros having sex with a tropical fish. They become immortal if they mate with humans.
  • Merfolk appear in The Spiderwick Chronicles' Field Guide and the second series. They are portrayed as capricious beings with a simple culture who usually distrust land-dwellers and have the features of a wide variety of marine life (always of species found in their habitats) from lionfish to seahorses to shrimp. It's also noted that, like certain species of tropical fish, merpeople can change sex to explain why females are more common than males.
  • The Star Trek Novel Verse has the Alonis, an aquatic race who resemble merfolk. That is, their upper half is vaguely humanoid and the lower half is a fish-like tail. They don't have hair, being scaly all over, and their "arms" are actually just lengthy fins, but the merfolk comparison is made. Lacking opposable digits, they used their telekinetic control of water to build an advanced civilization. They appear in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, Star Trek: The Lost Era, Star Trek: Typhon Pact and elsewhere.
  • In Der Stechlin, Countess Melusine's name is commented on a lot. It comes from a medieval French legend of a knight marrying a woman called Mélusine (sometimes spelled: Merlusigne) and one day, when he came home unexpectedly seeing in her true mermaid formnote , causing her to flee from him. According to this legend the powerful Lusignan family was descended from her. Since Mélusine is usually described as a demoness or a water-spirit, it is no surprise that Adelheid von Stechlin deeply disapproves of Countess Melusine.
  • The merrows in "The Stones Are Hatching" are monsters who steal human souls and imprison them in crab cages.
  • You don't get much more different than Feejee the Mermaid (heh) in Tales of MU. She can change at will between three forms: standard lady-half/fishie-half mermaid, an intermediate form with a distinctly humanoid lower half covered in scales, and fully human-like. She can also assume a sort of fighting form by growing scale-armor all over her body and claws on her hands. It's implied she can also change her face to a... less appealing form. Oh, and she eats people.
    • In fact, it's fairly strongly implied that merfolk in that universe basically are intelligent predatory fish with the magical ability to take on shapes more appealing to humanoids as a lure! They even have a myth about their goddess inspiring the land-dwellers to build ships for the express purpose of providing them with food...
    • Shapeshifting allows Feegee to overcome the Mermaid Problem with her boyfriend, though only for recreation. Mermaids actually reproduce in a more fishy way. They spawn.
  • In Andrei Belianin's Thief of Baghdad, the main character (Fish out of Temporal Water with Laser-Guided Amnesia) and his friend Nasreddin encounter a mermaid, who will only help them if one of them satisfies her. The main character, recognizing the Mermaid Problem promptly passes the "honor" to Nasreddin. After some time, Nasreddin returns with a smile. When asked, he is surprised that his companion doesn't know that mermaids briefly turn into humans when they want to "get it on".
  • Mermaids in Trash of the Count's Family are less human-looking and more fish-looking but are referred to as mermaids nonetheless. They secrete a deadly poison and dissolve into seafoam after death when in contact with ocean water. The Beastmen from the Whale tribe are Unscaled Merfolk but are less like mermaids and more like were-whales.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jenny thinks that the nix holding her captive are the origins of the tales. Especially the "luring to death" ones.
  • The Merfolk in Underneath A Merfolk Tale are able to shift at will and have been hiding as humans for centuries, becoming some of the richest families where they live. The Masquerade goes down the drain when one of their own is found on a beach in Maine unconscious and injured.
  • Before the Little Mermaid, there was the novella Undine (1811) by German romantic writer Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué, which was a great literary success all over Europe and in North America (it is, for instance, mentioned in Little Women''). The story, which is based on the writings of Paracelsus and the French folk-tale of Mélusine, bears a strong resemblance to Andersen's fairy tale, but there are important differences. Undine, who has no difficulty changing to human form, is raised by a fisherman and his wife, and falls in love with the knight Huldbrand. As Undine's uncle Kühleborn ("cool spring") tells her, she could gain herself a soul if she married him. But she has a rival in the fair but haughty lady Bertalda who, it later turns out, is actually the biological daughter of Undine's foster parents, which leads to Undine being torn between her love for Huldbrand and her wish to be friends with Bertalda. Undine does marry Huldbrand, but then a three-sided argument leads to Huldbrand wishing she should return to her aquatic family. Undine now has to leave and later, when Huldbrand marries Bertalda, is forced to kill him with a kiss. Huldbrand is buried and Undine turns into a spring next to his grave. Fouqué adapted the story into an opera scored by his friend E. T. A. Hoffmann, two other opera adaptations were written by Albert Lortzing (1845) and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1869).
  • Vainqueur The Dragon: The first chapter has a description of a Dragon Hoard whose contents include loot from "mermaids".
  • In a planned audioplay by Greg Weisman, he plans to have a mermaid character that he claims is different from any other mermaid. How different remains to be seen.
  • The Umiau from Jack Chalker's Well World series are an alien species of aquatic mammals that just happen to look remarkably like traditional mermaids. (They're also Hermaphrodites, which sure solves the Mermaid Problem. Another aquatic race resembles sea lions.
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series does the Voluntary Shapeshifting route, while his standalone book Mercycle uses genetically modified descendants of normal humans, in whom the structure of human legs (complete with * ahem* equipment) is hidden within the tail.
    • Thea, in Mute, is a mutant with legs fused from the knee down and flipperlike feet. And yes, she averts the Mermaid Problem quite handily.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The short lived Pirate Sitcom Captain Butler had the eponymous Captain (played by Craig Charles) almost marry a mermaid till he found out he'd become a reverse merman if he did.
  • Charmed mermaids have "hearts as cold as the ocean". Phoebe was turned into one. They are also immortal. They can live for hundreds of years but they really don't care since they have cold hearts. They also can't turn into humans willingly. One makes a deal with a sea witch to get legs for 30 days to find love. While this is happening she still turns back into her normal form whenever her legs get wet. A human man professing his love for a mermaid turns her human permanently.
  • Dark Angel: "Gill Girl" featured genetically-engineered mermaid and merman equivalents. They looked mostly human, but had the gills of fish and the echolocation of dolphins.
  • And, of course, Flight of the Conchords mention many of these Mermaid tropes in their Mermaid song.
  • The Australian series H₂O: Just Add Water is about three girls who, after finding their way to a mysterious island, turn into mermaids following "The Splash Method" after swimming in a Magical Pool during a full moon. They also have powers over water: one can freeze it at will, one can boil it at will, and the other controls it at will (also she can multiply it from a drop to a bucket). Congruent with their origin, the full moon can have weird effects on them if they see it (what effects depends on planetary alignments), and in one case, permanently increase their powers. They can swim quite fast. They cannot breathe underwater, but can comfortably hold their breath for inhumanly long periods.
    • Its spinoff, Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure, reveals natural-born (well, hatched) mermaids who have all of the above powers (a human girl-turned-mermaid also picks up all the powers after training with the natural ones, implying that the girls from the first show could have done more if trained), plus the ability to turn invisible temporarily. They can also focus their powers through "moon rings" (which seem similar to a rock the main characters encounter in the first show) to access a much wider and stronger power set. Mermen also exist, but live among humans due to an ancient war across gender lines. The obvious reproductive questions go unaddressed, but given that the mermaids seen on the show were hatched long after the war, and they avoid humans like the plague, they clearly reproduce without male help.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva features Basshaa, the Last of His Kind of a race of Gill Man-like creatures, who usually assumes the form of a young boy named Ramon. Thanks to a pact with the title character's father, he can loan his power to Kiva, turning the Rider into a Glass Cannon armed with a gun that fires high-power water bullets (which also causes Kiva to act somewhat childish, like Basshaa/Ramon). The Mermen are also a One-Gender Race, with the backstory mentioning a Mermaid race that resembles the traditional mermaid, and that the two races have to mate with one another.
  • Lost Girl: Mermaids are attractive and wear seashell bikinis; and as a rite of passage are given legs and allowed to walk on land, after which they must decide which world to live in (Lauren compares it to Rumspringa). They're also murderous psychopaths, and after learning they're the subject of the case, Dyson spends his time insisting they either drop the case and stay away from everyone involved or slaughter every mermaid they see.
  • Love and Destiny: Merfolk are blue-skinned and don't have genders until they choose one. Even when they do choose one they can change their mind (and gender), as shown by Shi San.
  • The Man From Atlantis looks like a human but has webbed digits, can breathe underwater, and can withstand extreme depths and pressures.
  • A new Mockumentary Mermaids: The Body Found is about merfolk that are the fourth or fifth (depending on whether or not the "Killer Chimpanzee" is real and an actual separate species) of the descendants of the common chimpanzee/bonobo/human ancestor.
  • Night Gallery featured the episode "Lindemann's Catch", which featured a fishing captain growing captivated by the mermaid he caught. Desperate, he finds a way to give her legs, so she can live on land; the only problem is that she also gets a fish's head and gills as well.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The third season features mermaids in Neverland. They appear to be villainous, as they surround the protagonists' ship and try to tear it apart. The one who gets captured on board also summons a storm that amplifies as the protagonists argue. Ariel later shows up as the Token Good Teammate. Mermaids can only get their legs and walk on land for one day a year. They also have the power to open portals to other worlds.
    • In this universe Ursula is a sea goddess, explaining why she has an octopus bottom. Season 4 features another Ursula - who was named after the goddess. Her backstory reveals that she was once a traditional mermaid, and the daughter of Poseidon at that. She is bound by the Magical Item method - she had to steal a bangle from her father to become a human. She gets power over Poseidon's trident to turn herself into the octopus form, which works differently in Storybrooke. She's a normal human for the most part, but can use tentacles if she wants.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Chad (the Blue Ranger and team's water-rescue expert) falls in love with a mermaid who can become human as needed but will die if she is away from water for too long.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force features the first ever Mermaid-themed zord. Blue Ranger Madison has water powers and naturally gets the Mystic Mermaid Zord.
    • Way before either of those, Dengeki Sentai Changeman had a mermaid-themed hero, though unlike Madison she didn't have a mermaid mecha (she had to share a mech with Change Griffin).
  • In the second series of Primeval, the team encounter a race of aggressive futuristic sea creatures bearing resemblance to a cross between baboons and elephant seals. Word of God reveals the creatures are called "Mer" and they're descended from primates. To support this theory, they have well developed vocal chords and arms rather than flippers. They also sing, although to Connor it sounds more like "something he once heard in Glastonbury in a 'chill-out' tent."
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf when the characters are in a Virtual Reality Program Cat creates himself a Mermaid girlfriend. She's a reverse mermaid with the fish part on top.
    Holly: Somehow, I'd imagined she'd be a woman on the top and a fish on the bottom.
    Cat: No, that's the stupid way around!
  • In the Round the Twist episode "Nails", Linda falls in love with a boy who seemingly has a strange disease which causes him to grow extra fingernails and lose the use of his legs. It turns out he is slowly (and irreversibly) turning into a merman as his mother is a mermaid. This was, like all of the episodes in the first two seasons, based on a Paul Jennings short story — in this case, "Nails".
  • In the Chinese series The Rules of Love, when a merperson falls in love with a human of the same gender as them, they start to become the opposite gender. The main character starts out as a male, but falls in love and turns into a female.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • Mermaids appear in two separate episodes as minor characters. In one episode Sabrina has to take over Mercury's deliveries and delivers the wrong package to a mermaid — a pair of high heels so presumably she can't turn into a human. In a seventh season episode Sabrina finds a man who has a mermaid trapped in a cage in his basement as part of his collection. He allows her a small bathtub.
    • In one of the novelizations "Age of Aquariums", Sabrina finds a race of merpeople inside the school's new aquarium called the Keftiu. It turns out that it's actually the shrunken lost city of Atlantis. At first when Sabrina visits them, she simply stays inside a large bubble of air. The second time, she turns herself into a mermaid so they'll trust her and pretends to be their mythological "Conch Queen of Doom".
  • One of the (supposedly) main characters of Sanctuary is a mermaid of the human head/fish tail type. We don't know if she is able to transform, but not likely considering her habitat is water as is that of her race. Also have a type of telepathy to communicate with the members.
  • A "mermaid" (technically, one of a group of people genetically-modified to survive deep underwater) appeared in an episode of seaQuest DSV. She was of the borderline-Cute Monster Girl variety; she didn't have any blatant sea-creature features but sported a set of gills along her rib-cage and webbed digits. She also felt very uncomfortable outside the water. And, out of all the people onboard Sea-Quest, she got along the very best with Darwin.
  • Seriously Weird: In "Harris and the Mermaid", a fairly traditional mermaid named Muriel offers to teach Harris to swim. However, she later uses magic to swap her tail for his legs so she can remain on land indefinitely. Harris and his friends have to find a way to break the spell before the swap becomes permanent.
  • The merfolk from Siren are apex-predators organized in matriarchal tribes; their eye color marking which tribe they belong to. They have their own language and culture, and are capable of assuming a human form on land through a painful transformation. Their song, if used defensively can cause severe brain-damage and even drive people to commit suicide.
  • So Weird:
    • On episode features a merman who turns human at will and can remain human even in water, though he's got webbed fingers. There's some sense of urgency to his plan to seduce Molly, which may or may not point to a time limit. He also appears to have the power to turn humans into merfolk.
    • A weirder, later episode featured a man who is implied to have turned into a merman by force of will — the valley he lived in was flooded and he refused to leave. By sheer determination, he gained gills and webbed hands so he could remain in his house.
  • The Strange Calls: The mermaid who appears in one episode looks like a normal human woman while dry, and gets her tail back when wet, and has iridescent scales. These mermaids have songs like sirens and use music and sex appeal to lure men to their deaths, and then eat them.
  • The Torchwood episode "From out of the Rain" featured Pearl, said by the Ghostmaker to be "the closest thing you'll ever see to a living mermaid". She didn't have a tail or gills, but could live in water, glistened like she was wet all the time, and liked to drink tears.

  • The Regina Spektor song "Mermaid" is a sideways adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" set in a modern day city, and mentions that the painful stabbing feeling in her feet causes her to bleed. She claims to have sold her voice for, among other things, a bottle of gin and a bump of cocaine before the narrative goes completely off the rails.
  • A song about an ocean-going vessel, in which the mermaid is a portent of doom:
    It was Friday night, when we set sail
    And we were not far from the land,
    When the captain spied a lovely mermaid
    With a comb and a brush in her hand, her hand, her hand,
    With a comb and a brush in her hand. [...]

    Then up spoke the captain of our gallant ship
    And a fine old man was he
    "This fishy mermaid has warned me of our doom
    We shall sink to the bottom of the sea."
  • "The Keeper of the Eddystone Light".
  • In Shel Silverstein's Bawdy Song "The Mermaid," the narrator falls in love with a sea girl, only to run into the Mermaid Problem: "She was just my taste (down to her waist), but the rest of her was fish!" This is finally resolved when he meets her sister, who is built with a fish head on the top half and a woman's body on the bottom.
  • Madonna's music video Cherish features a trio of mermen leaping out of the waves as the singer frolicks on the beach, as well as a young mer-child who becomes a human at the end of the song. The mermen seem to have tails resembling ceteceans as opposed to fish. The song is later used in her live performance of Blond Ambition Tour, where three of her backup dancer emerge from beneath the stage dressed as mermen. Their tails are more traditionally fish-like in this version, and as they can't stand or walk much of their dancing consists of flopping and scooting on the stage floor.
  • Russian band Otava Yo's video for their song "What Songs" shows a young man who, while travelling by bus, frequently sees a girl whose beauty drives him mad with a need to get nearer to her. He is thwarted at every turn by people and things that block him, until at the end of the song he pursues her by night into a dark forest. Coming to a lake at the first light of day, he hears a splash and sees the floral garland she was wearing floating on the water. Then a hand rises out of the lake and pulls the garland underwater, and the realization sets in - she wasn't fully human, but a rusalka, a freshwater mermaid from Russian folklore.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Nautical Folklore:
    • In some variations, it is possible to take a mermaid captive by stealing an item of magic, thus keeping her captive. Because Abduction Is Love, she will often marry the man who did this and raise a loving family. But, she will spend all her spare time trying to find it, and once found she will swim away.
    • Those who are nice to stranded mermaids on the other hand receive kindness from them. One Scottish boatbuilder rescued a stranded mermaid and wished that no boat he built would ever sink. His family's boats are, according to one version, famous through large parts of Scotland.
  • The Encantados from Brazilian Folklore are basically magical, shapeshifting river dolphins, who like to assume human form to enjoy our parties, alcohol, and women. Unlike most examples here, they are nearly Always Male.
    • Also from Brazil, there is the Iara, who is closer to European mermaids, being a woman with the lower body of a fish, dolphin or other aquatic creature, with a mesmerizing voice.
      • The ipupiara is an older myth, about an aggressive humanoid monster that kills fishers and swimmers.
  • Japanese Mythology:
    • The Ningyo. These are mermaids, but their bodies look rather animal-like, only the faces are human.
    • The Sazaeoni, which have the lower body of a sea snail. And in contrast to the Ningyo, they are mostly evil.
  • The Philippines' mermaid folklore was extremely grim before the Spanish arrived: While some Filipino merfolk are scary-looking Fish People, others are Apparently Human Merfolk, and still others are the standard "top-half-human, bottom-half-fish" variety, all of them are primarily known for eating people. Or sacrificing them to the water-gods, which is no less unpleasant.
  • The Syrian goddess Atargatis, often also known as Derceto, was often represented as the standard top-half-human, bottom-half-fish even if alternatives as her being entirely fish-like except for her arms and face also existed.
  • African Mythology: In West African mythology, mermaids (aka Mami Wata) are beautiful water spirits, usually female (but sometimes male). They may appear friendly, but they can also be malicious. However foreign depictions of mermaids such as in Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989) are still popular because, after all, Their Mermaids Are Different.

  • Barracora is remembered for its unabashedly unconventional, Giger-esque mermaids.
  • Fathom has sea nymphs with webbed fingers, prehensile serpentine tails, large dorsal fins, and a psychotic tendency to drown anyone they can get their hands on.
  • Williams Electronics' Fish Tales has a beautiful mermaid on the side of the backbox and the far wall of the playfield.

  • One of the worlds the Sequinox team is sent to in the Gemini arc turns them into merfolk, with each resembling a different sea creature. Chell's a squid, Sid's a nurse shark, Hannah's a betta fish, and Yuki's a dolphin. Gemini herself is a kraken.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Dreaming has the Kithain Merfolk and the Thallain Murdhuacha (pronounced mer-RU-ka). The Merfolk are what one generally thinks about when one thinks mermaid: their lower halves are of various bony fish (except for House Melsinee, who instead take the form of air-breathing marine mammals and reptiles). The Murdhuacha are merged with crustaceans, mollusks, and other seagoing invertebrates. When either kith takes to land, their lower halves automatically turn into legs — the Merfolk resemble Sidhe with their otherworldly beauty, while the Murdhuacha are disturbing enough they can momentarily freeze people in their tracks.
    • There's also a bit of horror, as the Merfolk and Murdhuacha are trying to fight off the game's constantly-oppressive force of Banality. Any changeling who succumbs to Banality loses all access to their fae abilities and forgets all about their second life. Imagine being one of them, and coming to in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean... about five hundred feet down.
    • The French-language Le Monde des Tenebres: France has the Morganed kith, who are similar but not identical to the mer: they're able to draw humans to them with their songs, and need to spend time in salt water every day or lose Glamour. They associate themselves with land-dwellers more than the isolationist Merfolk do, aligning themselves with the overland courts of the Sidhe rather than the undersea courts of the Merfolk. Thanks to a Kickstarter stretch goal, they got included in the 20th anniversary corebook for Dreaming.
    • The New World of Darkness variant, Changeling: The Lost, has the Swimmerskin type of Changeling. They can breathe underwater with a point of Glamour (their "mana", powered by emotions), but cannot breathe air unless they spend another point of Glamour or let the first power expire. There's also an Elemental version, but those aren't Merfolk.
    • Beast: The Primordial has the Makara, a Family of Beast covering Sea Monsters in general. These include Mermaids and Sirens, and two of their Atavisms reflects abilities commonly associated with them.
    • One of the New World of Darkness fan-supplements, Siren: The Drowning, stars their own take on this trope. Here, Sirens, also known as the Surfaced, are humans who were transformed by the Song, and are supposed to prevent The End of the World as We Know It by using their abilities to stop all its potential causes. In term of appearance and personalities, they are as varied as any human can be, and can be based on pretty much any aquatic life form, be monstrous or beautiful, aggressive or nice. They all have the ability to switch between two forms: a human one, which allows them to go around among humans and live out of water, and a Diluvian form, which possesses Natural Weapons and is much more powerful, but only truly effective when underwater. They also have the ability to use Magic Music through their song to various effects, including but not limited to charming mortals.
  • Cthulhutech has the same Deep Ones as anything else Lovecraft-related, but this time they brainwash small settlements to produce offspring, rather than their standard dependence method. And now they're out to find Cthulhu.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Generally speaking, if there's a race that walks on land, there's an aquatic variant. If there isn't, templates exist to make them.
    • True merfolk are the common human-with-a-tail version; 5E gives their humanoid halves blue skin and fins on their forearms and instead of hair. They're isolationist and reclusive, and often raise large fish like sharks and barracudas as attack dogs and mounts.
    • "Merrow", depending on the setting and edition, can refer to a number of different things:
      • In Mystara, merrow are just the local merfolk. They can breed with humans (solving the Mermaid Problem via shapechanging by one or the other), and the Queen of Aquas, half-sister of the heir to the Empire of Alphatia, is half-merrow on her mother's side.
      • In the default game up to 3rd edition, merrow are marine ogres with green skin, fish scales, and webbed hands and feet. They resemble hulking, monstrous merfolk, with prominent fangs, fishlike heads, and catfish-like barbels growing from their lower jaws. They're vicious raiders, and gleefully attack other marine species and coastal settlements alike.
      • In 5th Edition, merrow descend from a tribe of merfolk that was corrupted by the worship of the demon prince Demogorgon.
    • Tritons are distinct from merfolk, having more Lawful and ordered societies and either — depending on the art and edition — a pair of fish tails instead of legs or webbed and finned feet.
    • Sea giants are essentially giant-sized merfolk, and can turn their tails into legs to walk about on land — a trait true merfolk lack, notably.
    • There are several races of the aquatic humanoid with fins variety, such as sea-elves, sea-trolls (scrags), sea-ghouls (lacedons), and so on and so forth.
  • Eclipse Phase: Selkie morphs usually look like human-seal hybrids, but there's rumors that someone made a variant that looks like a drop-dead gorgeous mermaid.
  • Pathfinder: Merfolk, physically the standard type, are highly reclusive and xenophobic ocean-dwellers. They typically keep to themselves and avoid contact with other races, whether terrestrial or aquatic, and tend to attack intruders in their territories. They're also one of the numerous species engineered as slaves, servants and agents by the aboleths, who refer to them as sapiaquali-oths, and these are the only species that the merfolk consider to be their allies.
  • Rifts manages to pull off just about all Mer-types. In addition to the traditional mermaid/man, you also have random aquatic species, and the Amphibs, human mutants who range in appearance from Black Lagoon-like to Fish-headed.
  • Shadowrun: Merrows and mermaids are, respectively, Awakened seals and sea lions provided with arms and clawed and webbed hands (merrows have thumbs, mermaids do not), anthropoid upper bodies and long hair, although their faces are still those of pinnipeds. In mermaids, both sexes possess pronounced breasts. Merrows come in both salt- and freshwater varieties. Both species are found worldwide in warm and temperate seas, and mermaids are both highly tolerant of and dependent on pollution — like several other Sixth World species, they reacted to rampant environmental degradation by becoming so well-adapted to it as to be unable to survive without it. In mermaids' case, they're entirely unable to survive without a constant intake of mercury in their diets.
  • Warhammer games:
    • Dreadfleet: The background material for the pirate captain Aranessa Saltspite relates that she was born a mutant with her legs fused together into a scaled, fish-like tail below the knee so that she appeared to be a mermaid. When she grew older Aranessa amputated her mutated legs and replaced them with swordfish blades so that she wouldn't be hated by human society.
    • Warhammer:
      • While they rarely appear outside of Gaiden Games, mermaids are mentioned in the lore, with the port city of Marienburg having a sword-wielding mermaid on its coat of arms for instance.
      • A giant, crowned and trident-wielding merman called Triton is said to be the last of a race of demigods or sea-giants who ruled the seas in ancient times and taught the elves the art of seafaring. He now deeply hates the Druchii for twisting his teachings to dark ends.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Regular mermaids resemble human or elven women with clawed hands and fish tails instead of legs, and can range from being supernaturally beautiful to twisted, monstrous and hag-like. Scholars believe them to be Chaos mutants who stabilized enough to breed true, while Kislevites call them rusalkis and believe them to be the ghosts of drowned women come to lure the unwary to watery graves. They live along rocky coasts and use hypnotic songs to lure ships onto reefs for the sheer hell of it, utilize little technology beyond crude stone tools, and worship Triton.
  • As the third-party 'Dungeons & Dragons setting of Seas Of Vodari'' is an Ocean Punk setting, there are naturally a wide variety of subaquatic humanoid cultures, depending on how far you want to stretch the definition of "merfolk".
    • The actual merfolk are amphibious humanoids with a fish-like tail in lieu of legs. They're more "fishy looking" than in classic D&D settings, with their whole bodies covered in scales, webbed fingers, small fins on their elbows, large fin-like ears, and complicated fin structures on their heads that resemble hair. They're divided into two subraces: Sunreach merfolk occupy the highest portion of the ocean, are extremely brightly colored, have the innate ability to ransform their fin into humanoid legs so they can explore the surface, and are able to Speak Fluent Animal. In comparison, the Twilight merfolk, who occupy the deeper zones where light starts failing to reach, are darker colored, have limited bioluminescence, are faster swimers and are supernaturally resistant to the cold. Both subraces are clan-based societies, but the cultural divide between them is considerable, with a starting basis that sunreachers are expressive and extroverted, but twilighters are more introverted and stoic.
    • Cecaelia are the classic "octopus-folk" variety of Unscaled Merfolk. Their upper bodies are very similar to those of the standard merfolk of the setting, but like the octopi they resemble, they have the innate ability to alter the coloration of their skin, with a prediliction for tones of red, orange and purple. They are one of the shortest lived races in the setting, with a maximum lifespan of about 60 years, and this coupled with their naturally high intelligence and curiosity makes them a very outgoing people; the typical cecaelia reaches adulthood at 16 and then leaves the hidden villages of their people, intent on cramming as much exploration and discovery into their life before they reach their twilight years, where they will return to the village, breed, and raise the next generation before expiring.
    • Tiburons are a cross between merfolk and sharkfolk, having the upper body of a humanoid shark and the tail of a great shark in place of legs, in the traditional merfolk bodystyle. Whilst they are a nomadic culture of hunters and have an intimidating appearance, they are actually not an evil race - something that separates them from their distant sahuagin cousins. In fact, they tend to follow a very strict code of honor. Unlike merfolk, tiburons are unable to breath in non-aquatic environments, making them the only species of subaquatic humanoids unable to explore the surface.
    • Grindylows almost look like a cross between the aforementioned cecaelia and tiburons, having a humanoid upper torso, eight octopus tentacles in lieu of legs, and the head of an anthropomorphic shark. Culturally, they could be considered being subaquatic Vodari'sgoblins; they are a race largely made up of fearless nomadic scavengers whose general indifference to the rules of settleld races keeps them on the fringes of society and gives them a (rather overstated) reputation as bandits and raiders.
    • Selkies are a race of aquatic coastal and oceanic fey from the northern regions of Vodari, who can shapeshift between the forms of a large seal and a human, although both forms can breathe water and are naturally superb swimmers. They live in nomadic family groups and are characterized as friendly, kind-hearted and helpful, but with a tendency to fall in love quickly and easily — which can often turn tragic, given the strong curiosity and wanderlust that most selkies wrestle with.
    • Sirens are a race of aquatic fey who largely inhabit the coastal and shallow depth zones of the ocean, resembling elves with light blue to deep indigo hair and turquoise to indigo skin, gill-slits in their neck, webbbed hands and feet, and small fins on their calves and forearms. Like merfolk, they're divided into two subraces; seasingers are the more infamous "natural enchanter" types, with supernatural charisma and the ability to create a Charm Person effect by singing, whilst wavedancers are supernaturally agile and can shapeshift their legs into a merfolk-like tail, which grants them greater speed and maneuverability underwaer. Seasingers tend to prefer life on the shoreline or even inland, whilst wavedancers are more connected to Vodari's subaquatic world.
    • Vodas resemble sirens at a glance, being bright blue to deep purple skinned amphibious humanoids with webbed hands and feet, small fins on calves and forearms, and finlike "head tresses" in lieu of hair. However, vodas are natural shapeshifters, able to adopt the forms of any other humanoid they wish, and this combined with their inquisitive natures and affinity for both the surface and the subaquatic means they are arguably the single-most widely spread race across Vodari's many biomes.
    • Finally, there are the "technical merfolk", in the form of the subaquatic subraces of elves, dwarves and dragonborn. Quessari, or "sea elves", are the standard for D&D; bluish-green elves with gills and webbed digits who inhabit the subaquatic regions of Vodari. Aurirn, or "sea dwarves", are a dwarven analogue to sea elves; the mutated descendants of dwarves who attempted to mine subaquatic geothermal vents, causing them to develop gills, webbed digits, and a distinct blue-green color (as well as a tolerance for extreme heat). Finally, sea dragonborn are an amphibious offshoot of the dragonborn race related to sea dragons, which allows them to breathe underwater and gives them a steam-based Breath Weapon.

    Theme Parks 

  • In the summer of 2019, an adorable blue mer-bear was made available at participating Build A Bear Workshop stores.
  • Dolls in the "Merwees" collection (somewhat similar to Polly Pocket, except the dolls were about 3x the size) would change from "human" to "mermaid" when in warm water. They could be changed back (to resemble a human woman wearing leggings) by running them under cold water, or simply leaving them out.
  • My Little Pony: The second year of Generation 1 introduced three new types of ponies to diversify the all-Earth Pony cast of the first year, those being Unicorn Ponies, Pegasus Ponies, and Sea Ponies. Sea Ponies are seahorse-based Little Ponies and for years were the mermaid equivalent of Little Ponies. Then came the eleventh year, which coincided with the release of My Pretty Mermaids, and the Fancy Mermaid Ponies hit the market. These are literally mermaid versions of Little Ponies. As well, the the fifth year introduced the Pony Friends, animals like the Little Ponies but not ponies. What appears to be a Toyless Toyline Character of that kind is a seahorse queen that appears in one of the comics.
  • My Pretty Mermaids was a 1991 Spin-Off of My Little Pony and that's quite what its mermaids were: ponies in mermaid form. No limit on colors as long as they stood out, name designs on their fins, very few guys, and composite word names.

    Video Games 
  • In Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse, the oasis near Zaratan is home to a pahari, who can turn from mermaid-like to human at will. She provides you with a certain amount of help, and also turns out to be married to the sorcerer Farid Al-Mutan, who provides more assistance later on.
  • In At Night in a Party: The Whisper of the Sea, the titular Whisper of the Sea that summoned Karin to its aid from deep within a sunken shipwreck turns out to be a magical redheaded mermaid named Rittie. Upon rescuing her from the shipwreck, she becomes the last of the three items in the game that triples the length of Karin's Oxygen Meter, and also allows the player to view the game's Golden Ending where Karin successfully escapes from the shipwreck, and from there is prevented from drowning too soon thanks to Rittie's powers.
  • Atlantis Underwater Tycoon gives you the opportunity to attract traditional mermaids to your city distinct from the more Fish People-like Atlanteans.
  • Mermen in Battle for Wesnoth, even if they're doomed to the supplementary in most campaigns, still are a major playable race. A good spectrum of units (3 branched advancement trees covering all main roles) fast and powerful in their own environment, but weakened on the ground.
  • Bust A Move 4 has Marino, a merboy prince with a golden trident that he can use to summon waves. His hair appears to be made of ocean waves.
  • In Chrono Cross, mermaids (but no known mermen) are considered ordinary, albeit aquatic, demi-humans. They do not transform on land but can still somehow transport themselves as though walking (necessary for the playable character Irenes), and they can have children with humans (in fact, two of the other playable characters are Irenes's nephew and niece.) The children appear perfectly human (although the son is mentioned to be inhumanly beautiful). No explanation for any of this is even attempted.
  • Cuphead has a huge mermaid called Cala Maria. Once she takes enough damage, she becomes a gorgon after two of her eel minions shock her. She's also shown to be able to go on land in the good ending. Also, unlike in classic mythology, mermaids apparently DO have immortal souls in Cuphead, as Cala Maria sold hers to the Devil for an unknown reason, and is one of his runaway debtors.
  • The Mermen race in Darkstalkers are an odd mix of the traditional beautiful merpeople, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Lovecraftian Deep Ones. They have disturbingly beautiful faces, webbed claws for feet and hands, come in a multitude of rainbow colors, and can transform their body parts to mimic the appearance and abilities of any other sea creature — although usually on a bigger scale.
  • The 'Freemium' game Dawn of the Dragons recently added Merfolk (both male and female). One Merfolk Unique Character has flavor text in her entry about her being captured by fishermen, shifting her tail to legs at will to escape the net, then being told to put her tail back as she "is more valuable with the tail whole".
  • Mermpeople in Dragon Quest XI live for five hundred years and are subject to Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism. Mermaids have the traditional human upper body with a fish tail. Mermen are rather ugly Fish People who walk on the ocean floor with two legs. In a Shout-Out to the Hans Christian Anderson story, mermaids can become human if they fall in love with a human man, but if they get wet after doing so they turn to foam.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, Merfolk are one of the many playable races. Among other things, they're absolutely deadly with polearms and are the only race aside from octopodes without Super Drowning Skills; their legs turn back into tails when they enter the water. Hostile ones show up in the Shoals, toting the supposedly-forgotten water magic and hypnotic sirens.
  • There are merpersons in Dwarf Fortress. Their bones used to be worth as much as dragon bone, though as they're sentient, the game won't let you butcher them. For a while, players were bypassing the "no butchering sentients" rule to get valuable mer-bone anyway, by building "mermaid farm" machines that would trap merfolk until they bred, then beach the offspring so they died and their bones rotted clean. As much as the fanbase loves their Video Game Cruelty Potential, this was seen as too much even for them, and Toady One ended it by decreasing their value to the default.
  • Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City has mermaids appear in the form of the Deep Ones, which are the spawn of an alien Eldritch Abomination.
  • In E.V.O.: Search for Eden, you are able to become a mermaid, albeit only temporarily, in the last age by stepping into the ocean off the southmost point of South America. While you're first given a workable amphibian version of whatever you've evolved into, you now have the option to "evolve hands and feet"; doing so will turn you into a seal, then a dolphin, then... something the Let's Play titled "Abomination" for a good reason, and then blonde mermaid. It's not clear which gender you are, but you apparently attack with devastating effect by kissing your foes. Also, since you cannot evolve further, you cannot replenish HP by minor evolutions, making the boss fight a good deal more difficult. Of course, since you're an evolutionary dead end, once you've defeated the local boss you're returned to the shore as the creature you entered with.
  • Final Fantasy uses typical girls-with-fishy-bottoms mermaids as NPCs in the first game, but somewhere along the way someone decided that they may have been a bit too much of a cliche fantasy element and they haven't appeared in a game since (unless you count the totally-not-Gungans Hypello in Final Fantasy X.)
  • Mermaids in Genjuu Ryodan can use music to put units into sleep and have the same movement range as foot units without needing to transform their tails into legs at all.
  • In Harvest Moon DS, one of the special girlfriends is a mermaid. Or at least she would be special if they didn't explain how to get her in the manual. She can't transform and if you want to marry her (yes, you can marry her) you have to build a pond on your farm first.
  • Harvest Town features a merman who can fly across lands to travel between his beach abode and the lake/river water, and can hang out on land for several hours. According to his bio, merpeople of the game's universe can also control weather.
  • There's no limitations on Donald's easily reversible spell that allows Team Keyblade to go to Atlantica in the Kingdom Hearts games—but it does turn Sora, Donald and Goofy into different merfolk than Ariel and Triton. They become human/dolphin, duck/octopus, and dogface/turtle.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the Mer-kin, a race of nasty, xenophobic merfolk who worship Lovecraftian horrors. It should be noted that the word "merkin" has a real-world meaning. It's a pubic wig. No, really.
  • The King's Quest series has two mermaids: one in King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne and the other in King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! The first's colouring bears an uncanny resemblance to Disney's Ariel, whilst the second is blonde and friends with a beach-hermit. Both are voiceless and have minor roles in the game.
  • Nami the Tidecaller from League of Legends is a member of a mermaid race called the Marai. As well as being rather more fish-like than the usual mermaid (they have pale-skinned humanoid faces and arms, but at least their females have Absolute Cleavage coats of scales covering their Non-Mammal Mammaries) they also live so deep in the ocean that the light of the sun and moon cannot reach them and they know nothing of the surface world. Nami, at least, can cross land by floating on a small personal vortex of water. After a lore Retcon, the Marai are now a subrace of Vastaya, half-breeds whose ancestors used to be human before magically adopting animal traits.
  • The Legend of Zelda has the Zoras. They have legs with flippers, sea-resistant skin, and can breathe underwater. They have the tail of the aquatic animal they're based on instead of hair. They are able to live on land, but can dehydrate quickly.
    • And it's implied that they can interbreed with Hylians. Or at least, relationships between the two races aren't unusual. Neither Ruto in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time nor the girl running the treasure box maze game in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask nor Mipha in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are portrayed as out of the ordinary for their Zora affection.
      • It's heavily implied that one of the Rito (evolved Zoras) in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker had a human ancestor. There must have been a marriage somewhere in the line, though it's unclear whether it happened before the Zora became Rito or afterwards.
    • Less pleasant are the "River Zoras" (as they are called in Oracle of Ages), also known as "Zolas" due to a difference in translation, which are green, fish-headed and pop out of the water to shoot fireballs at you. Technically the River Zoras predate the friendlier Sea Zoras, but the latter became more popular.
    • There's also Martha, a more traditional mermaid, in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.
  • Mermaids in Lunarosse can turn into humans if kept out of land too long and change back when submerged in water. And if they fall in love with a human, the heartbreak of their death turns them into seafoam. Oh, and their tears can be weaponized due to their magical content.
  • In Mega Man 9, Splash Woman's look is based on the regular mermaid—female human on top/fish tail on the bottom. She sings to call in a few waves of fish robots and uses a laser trident.
  • The Undines from Monster Rancher 2 have a transparent, Jell-like appearance and use both water and ice based attacks.
  • In the Japanese island horror Playstation game Ningyo No Rakuin, when they're not sacrificing people, an evil cult is taking ordinary girls and turning them into mermaids through alchemy. These ex-human mermaids have fin-like growths on the sides of their arms and heads.
  • No Straight Roads has Sayu, a mermaid that is a virtual idol piloted by four kids that designed her.
  • Ōkamiden allows the player to have a mermaid girl as their partner. She looks like a traditional mermaid, but she has the Dragonians' fin-ears.
  • In Overlord II Mermaids appear as enemies. They're all rather fat compared to other examples, and their tails resemble a pufferfish. As expected, a main attack of theirs is to inflate.
  • Pokémon:
    • Vaporeon is a Pokémon based on a mythical creature in Singapore folklore called a "Merlion" (Think upper body of a lion and lower body of a fish). It's also a walking Visual Pun in the sense that it's a feline-like creature with fish-like traits. In other words, either a "Catfish" or a "Sea Lion".
    • While Pokémon Sun and Moon's Popplio line of water-type starter Pokémon starts out as a sea lion clown, its clown motif is gradually phased out as it evolves in favor of a mermaid motif.
  • Quest for Glory V has the Merfolk, but they are just the standard fishy bottom, human top variety.
  • Rune Factory 3 features Persia, who transforms by the splash method.
  • SaGa Frontier has Mesarathim, a grey-skinned mermaid who, like Irenes in Chrono Cross, spends more time out of water than in, although she'd like to change this.
  • The mermaid we meet in the Telltale Sam & Max: Freelance Police games is completely human in appearance (save for oddly-coloured hair), and (by Word of God) basically immortal, except for accidents. She's also psychotically evil, but that's probably not a mermaid thing. She's not really a mermaid either. Her outfit has a distinct mermaid theme to it, but that's neither here nor there. She's actually an unholy golem created from an infernal recipe called "The Cake Of The Damned", and why the ambulatory form of The Cake Of The Damned should be a psychotically evil, attractive young lady in a mermaid-themed outfit is for the writers to know and us to never find out. At least, that appears to be the case until episode 305 apparently, and somewhat confusingly, Retcons the above, making her actually a mermaid.
  • In Shantae: Risky's Revenge, mermaids appear as enemies in the aptly named Mermaid Cliffs. They look pretty standard save for the green skin, and they can shoot bubbles with their tridents and dive into puddles to avoid attacks. However, when they die, they shrivel up and turn into a tiny fish before disappearing. The title character eventually gains the ability to turn into a mermaid, and can shoot bubbles underwater, but on land can only flop along (there is even an achievement for crossing an entire land level while in mermaid form). In the sequel Half-Genie Hero, Shantae finds herself investigating Mermaid attacks in an area where several girls have disappeared. She finds a factory where the missing girls are loaded onto a conveyor, and large fish glommed onto their hips to turn them into fake mermaids. It turns out that Techno Baron has been trying to turn Mermaids into food for other monsters, and making fake mermaids to fill out his orders. He's also captured the Mermaids' Queen, the whale-sized Giga Mermaid, who is not happy. After freeing and calming down the Giga Mermaid, Mermaids cease to appear as enemies, even on return trips to the same stage.
  • In the Japanese video game Shinkai Densetsu Meremanoid, which is based off the anime, the goddess Aphrodite created the world and the merpeople or Meremanoid. The Meremanoid are your standard mermaids physically, but socially they are a matriarchy in honor of Aphrodite. They also rule the world as there are no humans in this world, and they do so with fancy weapon tricks and powerful magic. Prophecy has it that one of these merpeople is the dreaded Destroyer who will usher in an apocalypse, unfortunately due to the lack of gender in their language they don't know who it is.
  • In The Sims 3 mermaids are introduced in the Island Paradise Expansion Pack. While in water, mermaids have fins, however on land they have scaly legs. They have unique Needs. The Hydration need can be satisfied by swimming, taking a bath/shower, or standing in the rain. They eat kelp and fish.
  • Mermaids replace the Dolphins in Something Else, but they only show up in the secret exit path for Mysterious Maze.
  • The Nereids of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters are essentially a One-Gender Race of mermaids. Due to this they use males of other species in order to breed. This is why they have a little human boy around with them.
  • Suikoden IV packs a mermaid that deviates from the standard fish tail mermaid. While on an island that you shipwreck on, you can meet a mermaid that has legs instead of a tail, but still is called a mermaid in game (by both game text and another character in your party). She can give items if you play nice with her, and also warns the party that the big boss of the island has attacked one of their own.
  • Lochadies from Super Mario Odyssey. They all have blue skin, are excellent seamstresses, and can easily maneuver and survive on dry land. Oh, and they're exclusively female.
  • Tale of Food's East Sea merfolk, of which Shunde Sashimi is a member, may as well be humans with one or two marine creature bits on their bodies – they have legs and can survive in air as well s they do in water.
  • Tales of Monkey Island has the Vaycalians, a race of mer-people that live in Spinner's cay and left some ancient artifacts across some islands. They are said to have stopped their evolution years ago, and used their technology to give themselves human feet to live on land, but eventually reversed it and returned to the sea. The Vaycalians also have no visible secondary nor Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, making it impossible to tell if they're male or female, which leads to some awkward moments between the flirty Vaycalians and the happily married Guybrush. Not to mention like Real-life Carribean-located water-dwellers, they are very colorful.
  • Tamagotchi: Ningyotchi from the Tamagotchi Ocean is a simple mermaid with no ability to shapeshift into a human. She does long for a handsome prince, though.
  • Touhou Project has Wakasagihime, the fresh water mermaid of Misty Lake. She's normally a gentle Youkai who spends her time singing songs and picking up rocks, but something caused her to become violent in Double Dealing Character, where she serves as the first boss.
  • Twisted Wonderland has Azul (an octopus merman), Jade and Floyd (twin moray eel mermen). They use transformation potions to take human form at their land-based Wizarding School (the twins' inhumanly sharp teeth notwithstanding), but can revert to their original forms in water. While the twins easily prefer their eel forms when returning to the sea, Azul remains in human form due to trauma from a bullied childhood, octopus merfolk being rare in their homeland. While Azul's true form has yet to be revealed, the twins' eel forms lean noticeably further towards the fish end of the spectrum than the background merfolk depicted in the game, who all possess typical Disney mermaid anatomy.
    • When visiting the Coral Sea, Ace strikes up conversation with a security guard, asking him about merfolk culture and common myths. The guard tells him the stereotype of all merfolk having wonderful singing voices is false, and some of his old classmates were actually tone deaf.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, Yumei is a half-human mermaid who is recruited to be an Einherjar. Her mother's a mermaid and her father was the Shogun of Yamato. This allows Yumei to take on human form to wander the surface world, but she'll revert to mermaid form when she casts magic.
  • A common type of citizen in Wadanohara. Since they can't go to the surface due to not having legs, a few of them often ask Wadanohara for favors, like collecting apples.
  • In Wandering Hamster, there are mersheep. Yep, sheep with a fish tail.
  • Warcraft has the Naga, the cursed elves so transformed at the Sundering. They don't have fish tails per se, but instead have serpentine lower bodies and can breathe underwater. The multi-armed females are relatively cute as per normal, but males are far more draconian in appearance.
  • Although Aquell from A Witch's Tale is supposedly based off of "The Little Mermaid", she seems to behave similarly to the mermaids in Peter Pan.
  • Yggdra Union has Undines. They're a One-Gender Race of women with fishtails that use tridents. One notable feature is that they can move on land like a snake. They also appear in its prequel Blaze Union and the mostly unrelated Gloria Union.
  • Ys V: Lost Sand City of Kefin has a river mermaid named Nedo, who may be based on the naiads of Greek mythology.

    Web Animation 
  • Bravest Warriors introduces us to Plum and her species the Merewifs, grey-skinned amphibious humanoid aliens whose legs merge into mermaid tails when in water. Plum is also depicted with webbed hands in the comics, in contrast with the web cartoon where she appears to have two fingers on each hand. In the second season, Plum reveals she can transform into a scarier, more monstrous form with glowing purple eyes and fangs, and her arms split into six tentacles, something which was foreshadowed in the episode Ultra Wankershim. Since she is the only Merewif to have appeared in the series to date, it's unknown if every member of her people possess this power.

  • Accidental Centaurs: When the protagonists have to cross an ocean, their helpful genie friend turns them into merfolk instead. (Humans cannot exist in otherspace, but mythological parallels are acceptable.) Alex is at first enthused at the opportunity for hot mermaid sex, until his girlfriend cruelly points out that fish use a different method for reproduction. Mermaid tails also appear to have human knee and ankle joints.
  • In Beaches and Basilisks, two distinct varieties have been seen. Fish-like merfolk are seen early on. Later, Principal Tursiops represents a more human-like type of merfolk.
  • Cassiopeia Quinn has the Doll-Fins, a troupe of alien aquatic performers who bear a distinct resemblance to mermaids. They are apparently the Heroes Of Another Story with their performances being a cover story to conceal the fact they are a military unit deployed to counter aquatic threats such as lavadons that threaten the planets they visit.
  • The merfolk of Castle Swimmer mostly resemble traditional mermaids though they do have fish-like traits on their upper bodies like webbed fingers and scales on their sides. However, they also come in multiple varieties depending on what kingdom they belong to and they range from various types of fish like sharks or barracuda, to octopi and even crustaceans. They all seem to worship a god of the surface which is inaccessible to them.
  • In Charby the Vampirate they seem to have extremely bizarre sexual dimorphism. Only one mermaid family has been shown but it consists of a fairly typical beautiful humanoid mermaid wife, her gargantuan horned Fish People husband and their bipedal horned Fish People teen aged son who is about as tall as a human eight year old. She can fit in her husband's hand no problem.
  • The Dreamland Chronicles Mermaids to the rescue!
  • Elf Life: In the original version, the mermaid queen Leukothea gets banished to the surface after the fairy queen Glynthial takes her ability to breathe water. When Airek, a young half-ogre accompanying them, addresses the Mermaid Problem, Glynthial points out that mermaids do have functional legs inside their tails which will come out now that she's on land... but as Thea's lived in the ocean her whole life, they'll be hideously stunted and misshapen. Turns out they're quite attractive, actually.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Nanase has a dream in which first Ellen then both of them are mermaids.
  • Homestuck's Troll race is divided between a land-dwelling caste and a sea-dwelling caste, the latter of which have vastly different internal anatomy from the others as well as a pair of fins sticking out from their necks. They are the royalty amongst the Trolls, and the only examples we see of them are the heir apparent and a genocidal noble with a crush on her (as well as any paradox-created ancestor/descendants of said two).
  • A Loonatic's Tale: Rebecca Burg has released concept art which reveals that in Loonatic-land, merfolk are a type of aquatic vampire. When they're luring in prey, they're fairly cute, if slightly overfinned. When they're about to feed, their eyes take on a crazed look, and their mouth splits into a grin which reveals that all their teeth are razor-sharp. And unlike some vampires in this setting, where being turned isn't even a guarantee, when a mermaid feeds on you, you become one.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: The team has to move some mermaids up to a sanctuary. Jared asks what's wrong with them. The Commander just says "that's what mermaids look like."
    Commander: Yer aware a' how often these things get mixed up with manatees, right?
    Kratos: They still look more or less like humans. I mean, when you're on a ship for a while it's not so weird to check that out...
    Commander: [wearily] Kratos does not get to be on Team Mermaid.
  • Modest Medusa has the DollFins, who are basically mermaids in the traditional style, including shell bras.
  • The Noordegraaf Files: The Nereids are the half-squid version. Most of the time they are friendly and amiable to humans, but the saltwater version will often kill humans on sight, and when they don't kill them immediately, they torture, drown, and eat the poor soul who happened to encounter them. Although it is kind of our fault - they're nearly extinct, and our pollution doesn't help their numbers.(They are also one of the author's favorite kinds of creatures - the comic has an entire page on them, and it has the most text of any page on the site.)
  • No Pizza After Midnight has a merboy named Dart, who is the secret friend (and mutual crush) of a girl named Sera Sophia. He is the typical depiction of merfolk, though he has gills on his sides which need to keep wet. He can't turn his tail into legs, even though he'd like to. The series does frequently lampshade a lot of issues with mermaid biology.
  • Pearls Of Mer a webcomic about a standard, Splash style mermaid.
  • In Question Duck, tragically, love was not possible between a man and a mermaid.
  • Seaglass: The mermaids are seemingly bestial, massive creatures that barely resemble humans (and that travel through space). Cutting a mermaid's hair is the key to obtaining the eponymous item, and eating mermaid's flesh can extend your lifespan by hundreds of years. Additionally, mermaids used to be human- their current state is due to genetic tampering.
  • Skin Deep: Nixies are similar to mermaids, but with more fangs, hydrokinetic powers and a limited ability to transform without a medallion — they can turn their tails into legs and back, but that's about it. Nixies also have the ability to turn other creatures into mermaid-like versions of themselves (i.e., their natural form with a mermaid tail instead of their hindquarters, as well as gills and various fins) with their spit, which lasts as long as the target being remains wet. There are also nokks, the males of the same species. Nokks are noted to have indefinite lifespans, but almost always go insane after age 60.
  • Tales Of Gnosis College: At the end of the first volume, Li Anwei reveals that she is in the process of a slow transformation into something like a mermaid by showing expanded webbing growing between her fingers. She still looks pretty human when she takes to the sea, though.
  • Unsounded: Water-Women are all-female water elementals in the form of blue-skinned women except their throats are replaced with glowing gold tubes and bones. They're generally persecuted by humans because (A) they steal corpses from navy battles and (B) when they reproduce (with male elementals), it causes actual hurricanes. Water-Women gain Healing Factor regeneration when they're in the water, and if they sing you'd better run; it's more of a creepy screech to Summon Bigger Fish.
  • Wonderlab: The Piscine Mermaid resembles an idealized, pretty mermaid, but she has pink skin, no arms and her hair is water.
  • Zoophobia has two types of mermaids:
    • Murms, which are joke creatures that are brightly-colored, generic mermaids that do nothing but flop about and look silly, yet are beautiful and harmless. They hide the monstrosities that are...
    • Menaces, which are monsters related to sirens that lure victims into the water with their friendly words, where they tear them apart and feed on their hearts. They are known as "the true mermaids", and are extremely rare to spot.

    Web Original 
  • Pretty much every fandom has been given mermaid AUs by fans, portraying different characters as mermaids in fanart and fan fiction. The popularity of mermaid AUs has extended to franchises like Hetalia: Axis Powers, Attack on Titan, Marvel Cinematic Universe, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and most notably Free!, due to a dream sequence where Haru imagines himself as a merman, which fans eagerly ate up.
  • DeviantArt:
  • In The Dragon Wars Saga, the merfolk can shift their tails into legs — albeit still covered in scales — for use on land. Many of them live in freshwater and it's been suggested they use this form for migrations if their home dries up. However they become ill if out of the water too long.
  • Mermaid's Tail Galleries has galleries of mermaids based on specific fish (mostly sharks, rays, and freshwater fish) in addition to the usual generic mermaids.
  • Three Little Fish and a Bird has the three titular mermen be based off dolphins, and such are entirely mammalian. As such they are entirely air-breathers, can survive out of water for significant amounts of time, and also deal with the Mermaid Problem pretty well...
  • The Merpeople of Orion's Arm are simply humans who have undergone genetic engineering (or descendants of such humans) to be suited for an aquatic lifestyle. The extent of engineering varies: some Merpeople still have legs (so they wear flippers to swim better) and can merely hold their breath for a long time, while others have their legs merged into tails and can breathe water. The Europans take it even further, being cold-blooded as they were designed for the cold subsurface ocean of Europa.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Feejee from The Adventures of Puss in Boots is a monstrous mermaid who's actually a Stealth Pun: a Fiji mermaid is a hoax involving connecting the bodies of a monkey and a large fish, and that's what Feejee and others of her race look like.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog has the merhogs, which are half-fish, half-hedgehog. Since Sonic is a hedgehog.
  • An episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears features a mermaid that greatly inspired resident painter Gusto Gummi into draw her a sketch, much to Sunni Gummi's jealousy.
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long mermaids can't switch but they can live on land for long periods. Long enough for one to go undercover at Jake's school for several months as his principal, using a wheelchair. As an additional feature, they seem to have a natural talent for maths. It also features a mermaid who is afraid of water.
  • An episode of The Amazing World of Gumball features a board game that comes to life. At one point, Darwin gets a card that says "Inverted Mermaid". Nothing happens, because he's already a fish with legs.
  • In one Animaniacs's episode of Buttons and Mindy, Mindy and her mother are mermaids, while Buttons is a merdog.
  • Applied to Iguana Seals in All There in the Manual in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Similar to the manatee-mermaid misidentification, the hybrid animals were often mistaken as mermaids by sailors due to their melodious sounds. Like the manatee, upon realizing they were nothing but seal-finned aquatic reptiles, they were subsequently killed for food.
  • The Backyardigans episode "Viking Voyage" has Tasha the hippo as an evil mermaid who wants to prove how much tougher she is than the other Backyardigans (who are playing Vikings). She captures the Vikings and forces them to sing to her forever, which might have worked if they hadn't sung her to sleep with a lullaby.
  • Ripjaws from Ben 10 definitely has a Mermaid-like tail when he's underwater throughout the series. His tail can "retract" to form legs on land, with the tail becoming a sort of "loincloth".
  • Bubble Guppies flips the mermaid concept on its head. The merpeople on the show are tiny, about the size of guppies. They can't change shape, but apparently they've developed the ability to swim through air.
  • Milo Manara's City Hunters had Odysseus and a friend catching mermaids. It's seen that Odysseus seduces a traditional mermaid, and his friend "jumps on a grenade" with a reverse mermaid.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, Dee Dee pretended to be a Mermaid swimming in the sea in the episode "Ocean Commotion".
  • Mer-ducks in DuckTales (2017) look like ordinary ducks while on dry land, but have their lower bodies switch to the standard mermaid tail when they enter water. Spending too much time in the water without returning to the surface will eventually cause them to shift into mindless fish monsters, though they'll revert to normal if they go back on land.
  • In an episode of Family Guy Lois is rescued by a reverse merman (human legs, fish head and torso). Notably, the actual gag was a discussion of the Mermaid Problem. He argues that if he were a normal merman he wouldn't have the appropriate reproductive anatomy, and she argues that while they could technically have sex, it would just be weird.
  • Futurama has a episode with Merpeople dwelling in the lost city of Atlanta, who are accelerated-by-caffeine-evolved-humans who can't switch. Fry falls for one and intends to stay with them until he discovers the Mermaid Problem...
  • Gravity Falls features Mermando, a merman who served as Mabel's most receptive Guy of the Week. He's a pretty standard "can't transform" type, who is completely unable to breathe on land and quickly suffocates outside the water, though we get some Bizarre Alien Biology trivia—his voice changed when he was three, and he has seventeen hearts. ("Horrifying but true!") He wound up stuck in Gravity Falls' community pool and can't leave without suffocating. Eventually Mabel and Dipper help him get back to the sea, and in a later episode we find out that he's had an Arranged Marriage with a manatee princess.
  • H₂O: Mermaid Adventures being an Animated Adaptation of the show under the Live-Action features the mermaids portrayed just as they were in the original show.
  • The Hollow: Playing With. While Mira isn't one, she has mermaid-like powers, which include breathing underwater, communicating with animals and fishes and swimming excellently. Kai lampshades this at one point.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes features a merman, right down to the Seashell Bra.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack:
    • Mermaids cry candy tears that grant wishes when eaten that are stored in a heart-shaped jar. Making wishes causes the Mermaids to rapidly age and disintegrate until all of the tears are used up. Then they turn into beautiful, healthy Skymaids.
    Captain K'nuckles: Mermaids are weird.
    • There are also Mermen, who appear as hairy, brutish muscle-men who beat up naughty children on Low Tidings Day. How do they get around on land? They link their bodies together in a parody of a Combining Mecha!
  • In the first season of Metalocalypse, Dethklok writes the song Murmaider. The video features traditional mermaids at war with considerably uglier, crustacean-themed mermaids.
    Nathan: "This one's called Murmaider!"
    Murderface: "It's about mermaid murder."
  • My Little Pony: Throughout the franchise's history, the role of mermaids has generally been taken by the seaponies and similar creatures. Depending on the generation, these tend to be based on either seahorses or hippocampi.
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends:
      • The Sea Ponies are essentially seahorses with equine heads. They first appeared in the very first animated short, where they rescue the main characters when they fell into a river, sing a song out of nowhere and return for the final fight.
      • In "Flight to Cloud Castle", one of the castle's defenders is a trident-wielding merman, referred to as an undine, with green skin, finlike ears and hydrokinetic powers, who stays in the castle's moat to watch for intruders.
    • A couple of toy lines have included mermaid ponies, with the front halves, legs and heads of ponies and the tails and caudal fins of fish.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • The picture book Under The Sparkling Sea, which takes place mostly in the underwater kingdom of Aquastria, features G1-style seaponies resembling colorful, banded seahorses with large, transparent fins. There are also mermares, a more direct take on mermaids, with full fish tails and smaller fins.
      • One of the comics featured a kelpie, a pony-like creature with hypnotic singing powers.
      • In terms of the actual cartoon, the first such creatures to appear were the Sirens in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks. These are a trio of creatures resembling enormous, scaled, fanged ponies with fish tails, large dorsal fins and smaller fins along their legs. They can use their songs to control the minds of others, which they do in order to sow hatred and distrust that they can feed on. Notably they never are shown in the water, appearing to be flyers instead.
      • Seaponies feature prominently in the 2017 movie. These ones resemble hippocampi much more than they do previous seaponies, having large, colorful tail fins and crests, sinuous bodies and forelegs ending in fins. They weren't always seaponies — they used to be hippogriffs, but used powerful magic to take forms that would allow them to hide from the Storm King when he rose to power. When the pony main characters are transformed by the same magic, they take forms more closely resembling previous mermares, with the addition of a fin on their tails with their cutie mark. They continue to appear in Season 8 of the show, some willingly changing back and forth thanks to carrying a fragment of the original pearl of transformation.
  • PAW Patrol features Mer-Pups, which are appropriately half-dogs with fishtails. They also have the apparent ability to temporarily transform any land dogs into Mer-Pups, as seen with the mother who turns Zuma and Skye into Mer-Pups to get their help in rescuing her trapped child.
  • One episode of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero features the heroes and villains turning into either Fish People or merfolk, and while they all have humanoid upper bodies the lower bodies of the merfolk match sea creatures other than fish: Penn's is eel-based and has multiple fins, Sashi's is seahorse-based, and Rippen's is octopus-based.
  • The short lived series The Prince of Atlantis feature a legged human-dolphinish-hybrid and a half-human-half-ray creature.
  • In one episode of ReBoot, Dot and Bob turn into shark-people to participate in a game. Unusually, their fin stroke horizontally, like true fish. Their bodies are also slender, and very long.
  • Saban's Adventures of the Little Mermaid is an animated series based on the Little Mermaid short story. It uses the Magical Item Method - where the 'Potion of Change' allows mermaid Marina to gain legs and walk on land, or else Prince Justin to breathe underwater.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series: In one episode, Sabrina, Chloe and Salem get teleported to a beach, and also wind up as mermaids as part of the deal. (Or in Salem's case, a half-feline "cat-fish.") Annoyingly, they have to be back on that beach in an hour or they can't teleport back, but staying on land for more than a few minutes dehydrates them, so a Race Against the Clock ensues. Oh, and Sabrina's fins are apparently powerful enough to out-swim a torpedo.
  • Marina, Handy Smurf's Smurf-sized love interest on The Smurfs.
  • From The Super 6 we have Super Scuba's Girl Friday Bubbles, a mermaid who tags along with him on his underwater cases.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • The Blue Mermaid from Team Umizoomi counts. She is friendly to the sea creatures, loves her sea home, her Curtains Match the Window, and her tail glows!
  • An episode of The Transformers took place on a planet of Human Aliens who could become mermaids by swimming in a magic pool. It later turns out that the pool allowed the aliens to actually take on any form they wished. This allowed Seaspray to become a merman (although with Transformer feet) and one of the mermaids to become a Transformer who took the form of a gondola. And then Rumble turned into a tree (Let us not forget that the old-school Transformers could get downright strange sometimes).
  • On Wishfart, almost every character is a different type of fantastical being, so naturally, the love interest of our protagonist Dez (a Leprechaun) is a blue-haired mermaid named Tsuni. She can breathe both air and water but usually moves about on land by using a skateboard. However, her singing voice is absolutely horrible and rather than hypnotizing men, instead awakens krakens.
  • Xiaolin Showdown has Dyris, who has a weird spin on the Splash Method. Initially appearing as a typical beautiful girl, she later turns out to be an evil seductress who tricks the Xiaolin monks into helping her plan to flood the world. Also, when she steps on dry land, she spontaneously shapeshifts into a giant, amphibious monster, and returns to her original form when wet.
  • Marina from the French cartoon Zig & Sharko is mostly a typical mermaid, except she can survive on land and walk on her tail fins. Also, her parents are a mermaid and a human man, somehow.

     Real Life 
  • The Aquatic Ape Theory proposes the idea that one section of early hominid returned to the sea.
  • P.T. Barnum's museum of curiosities featured a twisted, mummified specimen called a "Fiji Mermaid". It was, of course, a fake, created by sewing the front half of a monkey to the back half of a fish. It was also every bit as f'ugly as that combination sounds.
    • Robin Jarvis evidently took inspiration from it for the mummified mer-thing in The Whitby Child.
  • One popular hypothesis as to the source of the mermaid myth is that manatees, dugongs and sea cows were often mistaken for mermaids, perhaps because the females have breasts and float upright in the water to nurse their young. Taxonomists recognized this by assigning these species the order name Sirenia
    • There's a wonderful bit in one of Christopher Columbus's logs about seeing "mermaids" in the Caribbean — he says they're less beautiful than they are painted, because their face resembles that of a man. A seriously ugly man, one assumes.
    • Referenced on How I Met Your Mother. Barney theorizes that sailors saw manatees as beautiful women because they have not seen real women for so long. He adds that this is why men and women can't just be friends: eventually the "manatee" turns into a mermaid.
    • There's the "other" reason they're compared to mermaids that's a prettier lie than the ugly truth as according to Manswers, their docile behavior and anatomy's similar to a human for both partners to "enjoy."
  • Eric Ducharme, the "real-life mer-man."
  • Nadya Vessey, an amputee, has been given a really neat mermaid's tail prosthesis by Peter Jackson's WETA workshop.
  • An extremely rare human birth defect, in which both legs are fused together from crotch to feet, is known as sirenomelia or "mermaid syndrome". Sadly, people with this condition usually die within a day of birth, due to associated abnormalities of kidneys and bladder; to date, only a handful of sirenomelia patients have survived for long, and only with drastic surgical help.
  • The Annals of the Four Masters (a collection of medieval Irish histories compiled in the early 17th century) casually mention mermaids being caught several times. Most impressive is a mermaid listed as having washed ashore in the year 887:
    One hundred and ninety five feet was her length, eighteen feet was the length of her hair, seven feet was the length of the fingers of her hand, seven feet also was the length of her nose; she was whiter than the swan all over.
  • Bethany Hamilton of the surfing movie, Soul Surfer, at least once compared herself and Alana Blanchard to mermaids. Just watch a tape of her surfing and you will see why.
  • Mermaiding: Swimmable mermaid tails are available to allow folks to pretend to be a mermaid. A small subculture centered around mermaiding has gained some popularity with swimmers in recent years.
  • There are a number of people — usually women — who work as professional mermaids. They're hired to perform at aquariums in costume as children's entertainment, often to teach something about marine biology, too.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mermaids And Sea People


Mermaids of Mermaid Lagoon

The Mermaids of Mermaid Lagoon are flirtatious and rather vindictive.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / OurMermaidsAreDifferent

Media sources:

Main / OurMermaidsAreDifferent