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Western Animation / Barbie in a Mermaid Tale

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"What makes you different just might be your greatest strength."

Barbie in a Mermaid Tale is a member of the Direct to Video Barbie filmography, released in 2010. It was preceded by Barbie and the Three Musketeers and followed by Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale.

Barbie plays Merliah Summers, a champion surfer who suddenly sprouts pink hair during a championship...then immediately after meets Zuma, a talking sparkly pink dolphin. Oh, and she learns that she's the half-mermaid daughter of Queen Calissa, ruler of Oceana. Which means she can breathe underwater at least.

The Reveal could not have been more timely, as Calissa's been kidnapped by her evil sister Eris, who keeps her around to make Merillia, the substance that gives the ocean life. Eris threatens dissenters with orange whirlpools that send them to the deepest trenches. As Merliah stands to inherit the throne, it's up to her to stop Eris and rescue her mother, with the help of her newfound mer-friends Kayla and Xylie.

It later had a sequel, Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2.

This movie contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Merilah is a champion surfer.
  • An Aesop: Merliah learns that despite being half human and half mermaid, it's ok to be different and it can be a strength.
  • Attention Whore: Eris. She has a whole festival dedicated to herself, demands her subjects adore her, and imprisons someone who was too distracted to applaud.
  • Big Bad: Eris, who seized the throne of Oceana and imprisoned her sister.
  • Bland-Name Product: Some of the stores seen in Oceania include "Bloomingtail's", "Seaphora", and "Fred Seagull".
  • Blatant Lies: When Merliah points out that Eris is angry and jealous because she can't make Merillia, despite being born of royal blood, Eris keeps trying to deny this, even when Merliah reveals the truth about Merillia
    Merliah: You're different and you hate it.
    Eris: That's ridiculous.
  • Cain and Abel: Calissa is the Abel and Eris is the Cain.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Eris keeps Calissa imprisoned to keep spinning Merillia and keep the ocean alive, as she can't spin any herself. Even Merliah points that out after showing everyone a vision of Queen Calissa spinning Merillia.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The fact when the protective pendent of Merliah's is broken shows her mother Queen Clarissa ends up being important in the final.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Hadley is a bit odd, spouting various non sequiturs. On the other hand, she instantly believes that Merliah might be a mermaid when Merliah and Fallon are doubting it.
  • Dark Reprise: "Queen of the Waves" gets an Eris-centric version.
  • Emotional Powers: The quality of the Merillia that Calissa creates is dependent upon her emotions; as such, her bitterness at being locked up by her evil sister creates lower-quality Merillia that outright poisons the ocean.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Eris' is to have the crowd adore her, imprison someone for not applauding, and continue on like nothing happened.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Apparently it wasn't enough for Zuma to just be a pink dolphin; she's sparkly, too.
  • Fantastic Racism: Eris looks down on humans, and expresses disbelief at Calissa's human husband. She later uses this to turn public opinion against Merliah because she's Half-Human Hybrid.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Eris, who's slowly poisoning the ocean.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Despite being of royal blood, Eris can't spin Merillia. This made her very jealous that even Merliah lampshades this.
    Merliah: You could have destroyed my mother, but you didn't. You needed her to spin Merillia because you can't. That's what makes you so angry and jealous, isn't it? You're the only one in the royal family who can't make Merillia. You're different and you hate it.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Merliah is half-human, half-mermaid.
  • The High Queen: Calissa, who rules over Oceana justly and creates the substance needed to keep the ocean alive.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: After the Destinies meet Merliah and her new mermaid friends, they decided to go out for "manies and tailies".note 
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: Eris is done in by her own whirlpool.
  • I Am Who?: Merliah is flabbergasted to learn she's a half-mermaid princess.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Merliah completely rejects her heritage at first. Until, she accepts that being half-mermaid is a part of who she is and it's ok to be different.
  • It's All About Me: Eris' personality revolves around herself.
  • Kick the Dog: Eris imprisoning a fish for being too distracted to applaud her.
    • She later tells Calissa that she'll imprison innocent people for no reason until she finds Merliah. She is even shown doing it once.
  • The Lifestream: Merillia, the life force of the ocean.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Merliah gains permanent pink streaks in her hair during the surfing championship at the beginning as her half-mermaid self starts to take effect.
  • Married to the Job: Merliah is married to her hobby, surfing.
  • Mermaiding Swimsuit: Merliah is given such a swimsuit by two actual mermaids, Kayla and Xylie who are fashion designers to disguise the fact that she's human hiding in a mermaid city, the mermaids seem to wear them over their real tails as humans would leggings or trousers but they give her a loaner. She later gains her own actual tail as she embraces her her own mermaid heritage she got from her mother's side of the family.
  • Mission Control: Hadley and Fallon help Merliah out on land by searching for the Celestial Comb and where she can find a Dream Fish.
  • Never My Fault: Eris blames Calissa for making low-quality Merillia, rather than acknowledge that her imprisonment of Calissa is responsible for it (and pretending that Calissa's Merillia is hers).
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Both Merliah and Eris turned out to be no different from each other
    • For Merliah, when she learns that she's Half-Human Hybrid, she, at first didn't want any part of it, until later on, she decides that she must do what's right for Oceania.
    • For Eris, she's jealous because despite that she's born of royal blood, she's the only one in the royal family who is unable to make Merillia.
  • Only Sane Man: Fallon, who's more down-to-earth than the spacey Hadley.
  • Otherworldly Technicolour Hair: Used as a plot point when Merliah, a natural blonde, suddenly develops pink streaks in her hair for no reason at all. Shortly afterwards, she finds out she's half-mermaid.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Merliah is very passionate about surfing.
  • Puberty Superpower: Merliah's hair turns pink and she can breathe underwater at age 16.
  • Punny Name:
    • The underwater stores are puns on real stores.
    • Merliah is a pun on "Maria".
  • Raised by Grandparents: Merliah has been raised by her human grandfather since infancy.
  • Redemption Rejection: Merilah tries to appeal to Eris and says they can work together to help the ocean, but she won't have any of it and attacks her.
  • Refusal of the Call: Merliah completely rejects her heritage at first, and wants to return to the surface as soon as possible.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Eris is named after a Greek goddess of chaos and discord.
  • Royalty Superpower: Only those of the royal family can spin Merillia. Eris, despite being in the royal family, is the only one who can't spin Merilla, which makes her incredibly jealous.
  • Rule of Three: Merliah must find three things to end Eris' reign.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: A fish is cast into Eris' whirlpool to show she's a threat.
  • Scenery Porn: The underwater scenes are very pretty.
  • Seers: The Destinies, a play on the mythological Fates.
  • Super Cell Reception: Or wristwatch in this case. Liah's watch gets surprisingly strong signals while in the depths of the ocean whenever she video chats Fallon and Hadley for help.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Merliah seems to express legitimate sympathy and concern for Eris after realizing that Eris, like her, feels like an outcast.
  • Those Two Girls: Kayla and Xylie the fashion designer mermaids.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Eris, though it's partially due to everyone being terrified of her.
  • Un-Sorcerer: Despite being of royal blood, Eris can't spin Merillia. This made her very jealous.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Merliah, Hadley, and Fallon spend the whole film in bikinis.
  • Waif Prophet: The Destinies, a trio of tween-looking mermaids who speak in Valley Girl slang and can see the future.
  • World-Healing Wave: Calissa's Merillia restores the ocean.

What makes you different just might be your greatest strength.


Video Example(s):


Summer Sunshine

The opening to the movie shows Merliah, Hadley, and Fallon surfing to an English cover of a song originally from a Japanese TV show.

How well does it match the trope?

3 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PatterSong

Media sources: