The Little Mermaid Movie Plot
Ariel, a sixteen-year-old mermaid princess, is dissatisfied with life under the sea and curious about the human world. With her best fish friend Flounder, Ariel collects human artifacts and goes to the surface of the ocean to visit Scuttle the seagull, who offers very inaccurate and comical knowledge of human culture. Ignoring the warnings of her father (King Triton) and court musician (Sebastian, the crab) that contact between merpeople and humans is forbidden, Ariel still longs to be part of the human world; to this end she has filled a secret grotto with all the human artifacts she has found. Sebastian, who is assigned to watch over Ariel and be sure she does not visit the surface again, tries to convince her that its better to live under the sea than in the human world.
One night, Ariel, Flounder and an unwilling Sebastian travel to the ocean surface to watch a celebration for the birthday of Prince Eric, with whom Ariel falls in love. A sudden storm hits, during which everyone manages to escape in a lifeboat—except for Eric who goes back to rescue his dog Max. He almost drowns saving Max but is saved by Ariel, who drags him to the beach. She sings to him but dives underwater when Max returns to Eric. Upon waking, Eric has a vague impression that he was rescued by a girl with a beautiful voice; he vows to find her, and Ariel vows to find a way to join Eric.
Triton and his daughters notice a change in Ariel, who is openly lovesick. Triton questions Sebastian about Ariel’s behavior, during which Sebastian accidentally reveals the incident with Eric. Triton furiously confronts Ariel in her grotto, using his trident to destroy her collection of human treasures. After Triton leaves, a pair of eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, convince a crying Ariel that she must visit Ursula the sea witch, if she wants all of her dreams to come true.
Ursula makes a deal with Ariel to transform her into a human for three days. Within these three days, Ariel must receive the ‘kiss of true love’ from Eric; otherwise, she will transform back into a mermaid on the third day and belong to Ursula. As payment for legs, Ariel has to give up her voice, which Ursula takes by magically removing the energy from Ariel’s vocal chords and storing it in a nautilus shell. Ariel’s tail is transformed into legs and Sebastian and Flounder drag her to the surface. Meanwhile, Triton discovers Ariel and Sebastian’s disappearance and, wracked with guilt over his behavior, orders a search for them.
Eric and Max find Ariel on the beach. He initially suspects that she is the one who saved his life, but when he learns that she cannot speak, he discards the notion, to the frustration of both Ariel and Max (who know the truth). He helps her to the palace, where the servants think she is a survivor of a shipwreck. Ariel spends time with Eric, and at the end of the second day, they almost kiss but are thwarted by Flotsam and Jetsam. Angered at their narrow escape, Ursula takes the disguise of a beautiful young woman named “Vanessa” and appears onshore singing with Ariel’s voice. Eric recognizes the song and, in her disguise, Vanessa/Ursula casts a hypnotic enchantment on Eric to make him forget about Ariel.
The next day, Ariel finds out that Eric will be married to the disguised Ursula on a ship. She cries and is left behind when the wedding barge departs. Scuttle discovers that Vanessa is Ursula in disguise, and informs Ariel. As Ariel and Flounder chase the wedding barge, Sebastian informs Triton, and Scuttle is assigned to literally “stall the wedding.” With the help of various animals, the nautilus shell around Ursula’s neck is broken, restoring Ariel’s voice and breaking Ursula’s enchantment over Eric. Realizing that Ariel was the girl who saved his life, Eric rushes to kiss her, but the sun sets and Ariel transforms back into a mermaid. Ursula reverts to her true form and kidnaps Ariel.
Triton confronts Ursula and demands for Ariel’s release although cannot as their deal is inviolable. He is convinced into taking his daughter’s place and eventually does, much to Ursula’s will. While Ariel is released, Triton transforms into a polyp and loses his reign of Atlantica. Ursula takes his place and declares herself as the new ruler. She is then intervened by Ariel and Eric, attacking and causing her to kill her minions, Flotsam and Jetsam. Enraged by this, Ursula begins to grow into titanic proportions on the seafloor.
Ariel and Eric reconcile on the surface just before Ursula grows past and towers the two. She then gains full control of the entire ocean, creating an storm with a maelstorm and shipwrecks, one of which Eric commandeers as Ursula attempts to destroy a trapped Ariel in the maelstorm. As she prepares to finish her, Eric turns the wheel hard to port and runs Ursula through the abdomen with the ship’s splintered bowsprit, mortally wounding and destoying her. The ocean calms after her demise, where Eric makes it to shore before losing consciousness.
Due to her death, Ursula’s power breaks, causing all the polyps in Ursula’s garden, including Triton who would regain his reign, to revert back into their original forms.
Later, after seeing that Ariel truly loves Eric and that he also saved her and the ocean in the process, Triton willingly changes her from a mermaid into a human permanently using his trident, where she reconciles with Eric once more.
An unspecified amount of time later, Ariel and Eric have their wedding on a ship, where both humans and merpeople could attend, before sailing away afterwards happily married.