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Tear Jerker / The Little Mermaid

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The Short Story

  • The mermaid is condemned to Purgatory, and each time she hears a parent laugh from a good child, she gets years taken off; but each time she hears parents weeping over a bad child, she gets more time. P.L. Travers wrote an essay about fairy-stories in which she rakes Andersen over the coals for that: "'But a year taken off when a child behaves and a tear shed and a day added whenever a child is naughty? Andersen, this is blackmail. And the children know it and say nothing. There's magnanimity for you."
  • The little mermaid's unrequited love for the prince in general. She falls in love with the prince and rescues him. However, he falls in love with the princess of a neighbouring kingdom, a woman whom the prince believes rescued him. He then invites the mermaid to the wedding, believing that she wants to share in his happiness, but she is actually heartbroken over the entire ordeal. It reaches the point where she was pushed to kill the prince so she could turn back into a mermaid, but she ultimately chooses to throw herself into the sea instead because she could not bear to see the deed through. Also applies to the 1968 Soviet animated film.
    • The morning after, the prince and the princess search in vain for the mermaid, then they sadly look at the sea, as if they knew she threw herself there. This suggests that they were genuinely fond of the mermaid (even if the prince wasn’t in love with the mermaid), and were saddened to learn that she is nowhere to be found.

The Anime

  • Marina sings a dark reprise of her song on the night of her death.
  • The ending to the anime is possibly worse than the short story. Right after Marina jumps into the sea, the Prince remembers her... but it's too late. Fritz is left to tearfully chase the sea foam that was Marina.
    • Some dubs, such as the Brazilian one, make it somehow worse by having the narrator close with an eulogy, rather than saying she was turned into an angel of sorts.
    Brazilian Dub: Marina's body dissolved in a thousand colourful bubbles. Farewell, Princess Marina. From the depths of the sea in which you were born, you ascended to heaven carried by the wind. Each time the sunlight reflects its light in a drop of water and shines in the sea, each time the music of a harp reminds us of the sound of the waves, your kindness and your courage will be alive in our hearts, Little Mermaid.
  • Right after said ending, the narrator attempts to dry everyone's tears by stating that Marina gained a soul and ascended to Heaven, unlike the short story, where her soul will be stuck in limbo for 300 years. Slightly reassuring, but it doesn't change the fact that Marina had friends and family who loved her dearly and have lost her.
  • The ever faithful Fritz promises Marina that if she ever needs him, she should shine her pearl hair pin high in the air as a signal. In her desperate hour she shines it, and not a moment later Fritz swims straight for her. All along he has kept watch over his friend, always nearby. The scene that follows is a literal tear jerker for the two characters, but the fact that Fritz must have spent months patroling the shore in case of Marina's need is heartwrenching.
  • The sisters appearing with their hair cut short, which was done by the sea witch in exchange for a magical knife. They appear because they want to help their youngest sister, but it's all for nothing, because Marina can't bring herself to kill the prince.

The Disney film

See here.

The stage musical

  • The song "If Only" in the second act. Ariel, Eric, Sebastian, and Triton all sing about how much they wish they could understand someone they care about.
    Ariel: If only it were true, if only for a while. If only you would notice how I ache behind my smile. I guess you never will. I guess it never shows. But if I never find a way to tell you so...oh, what I would give, if only you could know.
    • Eric despairing over how how he has to meet the girl who saved his life. Turns out, now he doesn't want to find that girl (unaware that it's Ariel herself)...because he's falling in love with Ariel, who as far as he knows, doesn't have the beautiful voice he wants.
    Eric: Maybe I'll find that voice...but I'll lose her...
    Sebastian: I'd give my life up to make it happen.
    Triton: I'm just getting over losing her dear sweet mother
    If I lose her too I don't know how I could go on...
    • Better yet, in the revised script:
    How could I have pushed her to the point of having no one left to turn to?
    What if I have lost her, and its all my fault she's gone!?
  • When Ariel approaches Eric during the ceremony where he's meant to choose a princess to marry and tentatively dances for him, the other princesses in attendance mock and laugh at her.
  • The Finale's extended reprise of "Part of Your World" is even more of a Tears of Joy-jerker than the film's finale:
    Ensemble: And now at last, love has surpassed each tribulation
    Mermaid and man finally can join and be one
    Now they can smile, walking the aisle, here at their wedding celebration
    Eric: Sailing forward, Ariel: Standing steady,Both: Starting life completely ready!
    Ensemble: Now they can be who they're meant to be
    Now they can gaze on a new horizon
    Here between ocean and sky, forever and on
    Now they can walk
    Now they can run
    Now that at last their story's begun
    Eric: Just you and me
    Ariel: And I will be