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Western Animation / The Little Mermaid

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A Saturday Morning Cartoon by Disney, based on their 1989 film of the same name, which ran on CBS from 1992-1994. It was the second (after TaleSpin) in Disney's 90's-era series of TV spinoffs of their more popular movies.note  Unlike Tale Spin (but like later entries), however, this cartoon typically keeps continuity with its theatrical source, and acts as something of an Expanded Universe, giving backstories to many characters, fleshing out relationships, and allowing them to go on new adventures. It is a direct prequel to the movie, being set before Ariel met Prince Eric (but after the subsequent Direct-to-Video movie Ariel's Beginning, which retcons some elements introduced in this cartoon, notably how Ariel met Flounder).


As is typical of Disney's TV spinoffs, the tone of this cartoon is considerably lighter and more comedic than the movie on which it's based, but unlike many Disney TV series spin-offs, it kept one element of the first movie: the musical format, as the series was gifted with a new musical number Once an Episode. It also contained more obvious (and bizarre) shout outs – a recurring comic villain was called Lobster Mobster, complete with an Edward G. Robinson imitation voice.

After three seasons totalling 31 episodes, it went into reruns on the Disney Channel. It later ran on Toon Disney and Disney Junior.

(To see the character page go here).


List of tropes relating to The Little Mermaid: The Animated Series:

  • Adult Fear: One example in "Charmed". A monster sucks Ariel into the deepest part of the ocean, which resembles a bad neighborhood. The worst part is for Triton, who had argued with Ariel earlier and Ariel hadn't returned from another of her adventures.
    • "Double Bubble" also has two infant mer-twins lured away by The Lobster Mobster and held for ransom.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Sharkanians and Ursula's people, the Octopids, as both of them are obsessed with conquest, destruction and war.
  • Anachronism Stew: Beside the historical cameos, and the Lobster Mobster, characters also do activities like bowling (which they apparently invented), and eat seaweed doughnuts.
  • Babysitting Episode: "Double Bubble" features Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder babysitting two young mer-twins; only for them to be lured off by The Lobster Mobster as part of an attempted kidnapping plot.
  • Big Eater: Adella, one of Ariel's numerous sisters. Trust it to be her only defining personality trait, too.
  • Biography à Clef: "Metal Fish" provides an Origins Episode for Hans Christian Andersen where Ariel the Little Mermaid saves him and in response inspires her author to write her story.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Evil Manta.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The 12-issue comic published by Marvel Comics. The comic takes place presumably between the first half of Season 2 and the series finale.
  • Cute Mute: Gabriella, a deaf mermaid who used sign language (her octopus sidekick served as a translator) and appeared in two episodes.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Specifically, defrosted aquatic dinosaurs.
  • The Exile: "Metal Fish" features Archimedes, a merman collector of all human objects and alleged expert on the human world. Because of Triton's prejudice against humans, he was exiled.
  • False Innocence Trick: Evil Manta used this and got released by Ariel. Another monster unsuccessfully tried this after making Triton a child.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: In "A Little Evil", Ariel flat-out kills the Manta's brain sponge by crushing him into goo with a boulder. This is shown entirely on-screen.
  • Fantastic Racism: The problems that occurred in "The Evil Manta" could be interpreted as symbolism for racism.
  • Foreshadowing: At the end of "Double Bubble," Ariel successfully covers up that the mertwins she babysat were in serious danger several times, and quips that she hopes they won't remember enough to resent her for it when they get older. In "Red," she has to play the mother to King Triton when he's youthened into a child, and notes that she's acting as overprotective as he normally does. Years later, being overprotective and lying to cover up a danger to a child gets her a lot more resentment than she'd worried about.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Between Flounder and Sebastian in one episode.
  • Friendship Song: "In Harmony" in one episode.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs:
    Triton: What under the sea  is going on?!
  • Imagination Destroyer: The Evil Manta has a pet called Brain Sponge which he tries to unleash on Ariel to sap her imagination. Since his son Little Evil interferes, it's the Evil Manta who nearly gets his brain drained, but Ariel and Little Evil defeat the Brain Sponge and save him.
  • Love Before First Sight: Prince Eric makes cameos, but he and Ariel never see each other.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ariel gets a little one in "A Little Evil" when she sets Evil Manta's own brain sponge on him.
  • Mythology Gag: In the Episode, "The Metal Fish", after Ariel rescues Hans Christian Andersen, inspiring to write his version of the Little Mermaid Story, Ariel can be seen sitting on a rock, in a very similar manner to the Little Mermaid Statue, in Copenhagen, Denmark?
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Evil Manta, Ursula.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Howling Hairfish.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: Ariel temporarily adopts a Killer Whale, then a wild Sea Horse (which according to the show, is like a regular horse, but underwater). There's also a "bad luck" creature which Ariel rescues from Ursula's wrath and calls her Lucky.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed: Flounder gets one of his moments of awesome by pretending to have been brainwashed by the Evil Manta in the episode "The Evil Manta" into becoming prejudiced against mermaids such as Ariel.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Lucky, the creature from "Against the Tide", is believed to be male at first, but is later revealed to be pregnant at the end of the episode.
  • Satan: The Evil Manta has some very strong shades of this.
  • Seahorse Steed: Naturally, the show has Ariel tame an uncontrollable purple seahorse named Stormy. Other episodes had merpeople riding seahorses as well. Averted with Herald the seahorse, however.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The king of a kingdom neighboring Atlantica is obviously based on Yen Sid.
    • The episode "The Beast Within" is obviously based on the movie The Wolf Man (1941).
    • The sea serpent in the episode "Heroes" bears some resemblance to Dragon Maleficent at the end of Sleeping Beauty.
    • Much of the episode "Beached" is similar to the film Home Alone.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: The Lobster Mobster and Da Shrimp, plus several others that appeared only in one episode.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Evil Manta.
  • Villain Song: The Lobster Mobster and Da Shrimp get two and the Evil Manta & Ursula gets one each.
  • Young Future Famous People: More like a historical cameo for Hans Christian Andersen and his amazing submarine. Also, there was a guest appearance from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a episode.


Example of: