Culture

Overthinking 'The Little Mermaid': 15 Questions You Never Asked as a Child

Still from ‘The Little Mermaid’/Image © 1989 Disney

This week Disney released the Diamond Edition of "The Little Mermaid," an instant classic that remains evergreen with the younger princess-chasing set. However, as we former children revisit the film (in all its digitally restored glory), certain nagging questions arise on the millionth viewing which cannot be put to rest, exposing the simplicity and relative idiocy of our youthful brains. Let's tackle these in chronological order, shall we?

1. Why do we like Ariel?

It's odd that musical theater types are so besotted with this movie, since literally the first thing we learn about Ariel (via Sebastian) is that she never shows up to rehearsals. The next thing we learn is that she's willing to manipulate her less confident, less physically fit friend (Flounder) into helping her break the law, for no particularly noble reason. She also begins exhibiting obsessive behavior toward the first human she lays eyes on, dealing with criminals and mutilating her own body in order to pursue him. Perhaps on one of her scavenging trips she will run across a book on Borderline Personality Disorder.

2. Why is Flounder not a flounder?

Most of the sea critters have either human (gasp!) or descriptive names. This is a flounder. It's a muddy-colored fish that's famous for being flat and having both eyes on one side of its body, not for being comically round and getting stuck in port-holes.

3. Who the heck is Ursula?

In one of her first scenes, Ursula says aloud to herself (you'll notice now that she spends most of the movie talking to herself): "When I lived in the palace ..."

Was Ursula a royal figure? A court magician? A sous chef? Why was she exiled? There's an awful lot of backstory we're not getting here. Unusual since she's one of the coolest characters ever invented by Disney.

4. How messed up is it that Ariel's treasure trove includes a fish hook?

Isn't that basically the human teenager equivalent of a switchblade or a handgun, or worse? See question No. 1.

5. If Eric's ship hits huge rocks, how far from land could they possibly have even been?

As a kid it seemed like a totally plausible nautical disaster. To grownup eyes, it's totally over the top: within two minutes the ship is swept up in a hurricane, dashed against the rocks, struck by lightning, and then explodes (because of the fireworks on board). But no, seriously, those rocks are huge. The movie makes it seem like they're out on an ocean voyage of some kind, but they were really all hanging out just offshore. If you're counting on a mermaid to save you in water this shallow, you probably qualify for a Darwin award.

6. Can you tell me more about this ... Blackfish?

The song "Under the Sea" is one of the highlights of the film, up there with any musical number Disney's produced before or since. And yet it drew mention in this Cracked list of racist Disney characters, thanks to assignations like "The blackfish, she sings." (Here's the fish in question.) It's one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments that a child will barely notice. As a well-read adult, I found it worthy of a pause and rewind.

7. How did flounder get Eric's statue into Ariel's grotto?

This question hinges on two established facts: Flounder's lack of physical prowess, and the two extremely narrow points of entry into Ariel's secret treasure trove. When the statue's first shown, it practically dwarfs the real Eric in size, and as demonstrated in question No. 5, it sank right near the coast where the ship hit those enormous rocks. In other words, the only acceptable answer is "magic."

8. Was Ursula's plan actually meant to kill Ariel instantly?

The moment Ariel becomes human, she can no longer swim or breathe underwater -- inconvenient, since Ursula's lair appears to be hundreds of feet underwater. If Sebastian and Flounder hadn't been there to drag her to the surface -- and neither Ariel or Ursula knew they were -- she would have surely drowned immediately. Isn't it likely that this had been Ursula's intention all along? That would certainly gel with the typical "be careful what you wish for" message of many fairy tales. And if so, that officially makes Ursula one of the most dastardly villains of all time. If she'd wanted revenge, she could have easily just murdered Triton's daughter outright -- but she opted to change the girl into a human first, and then let her drown. Knowing how Triton feels about humans, this would have been the most humiliating blow of all.

9. Is Ariel the nakedest Disney Princess of all time?

The implied full-frontal nudity in the scene when Ariel washes ashore is impeccably chaste. However, it's still quite startling compared to the ironclad modesty of most Disney heroines -- especially as a grownup when your imagination automatically fills in all the omitted details, whether you want them or not. Think about it: there's an extended sequence in a Disney animated feature in which a teenage girl parades around unselfconsciously on a public beach, naked from the seashells downward. For some reason she gets a free pass because she doesn't share our Puritanical body-shame. Even so, Pocahontas would never.

10. Why doesn't Ariel just write Eric a letter?

Our princess proves that she can write when she signs Ursula's contract. So when Eric expresses dismay that she's mute (and therefore not the girl who rescued him from drowning), she has three full days to find a pen and paper in the castle, and then pass him a note explaining that it is her, and that she has only temporarily lost her voice. (Is that latter part even true? It's unclear, but: who cares? In the short term, Urusla's spell would be broken, and it's not like Ariel's never lied to a man before. See question No. 1.)

11. What do the merfolk eat?

King Triton slanders humankind as "fish-eaters," and Sebastian turns positively green at the sight of the murdered fish in the French chef's kitchen. In Ursula's lair we see her popping prawns as bon bons, which is portrayed as an act of unspeakable barbarism. However, in the real world, nearly all sea life feeds on ... other sea life. So what's on the menu in Triton's kingdom? Perhaps lots of slime and plankton, or other things too horrifying to imagine. Or perhaps the merfolk and fish all eat each other, just like real sea creatures, but live in tragic convolutions of denial about it, finding it easier to blame the humans for depletion among their numbers.

12. Hey, where'd that gorge come from?

When Ariel seizes the carriage horse reins from Eric, they're off like a shot down the bumpy country road! Suddenly a huge chasm yawns before them, but Ariel guns the engine and they sail across, landing safely on the other side, where the road resumes being a totally normal country road. So. What was that gorge doing there? How would Eric have gotten home if Ariel hadn't been fearless enough to rocket across it? You'd think a kingdom as lavish as Eric's would invest in better infrastructure like roads and bridges. Or is it possible that all of his subjects are essentially prisoners, discouraged from leaving town by either land or sea?

13. Did Sebastian just control the wind?

When Sebastian is setting the mood for the film's other show-stopping musical number ("Kiss the Girl"), he entreats the help of the other animals, as well as the forces of nature, invoking them one by one: "Percussion ... strings ... winds ... words." At the mention of winds, a breeze instantly sweeps across the lagoon, making delightful music among the reeds. Clearly Ursula isn't the only one who happens to know a little magic! Between this and question No. 7, I'm starting to suspect that every character in the film is a sorcerer in disguise.

14. Why can't Max the dog talk?

Speaking of all the helpful animals, why can't Prince Eric's dog talk? Even dimwitted birds like Scuttle and crustaceans like Sebastian (on par with spiders, intelligence-wise) have the power of speech. Is it a result of being a land-animal? This raises questions no one has time to get into, such as: Why do the human-hating merfolk speak and understand English so fluently? Disney would later address issues like this by giving Pocahontas and John Smith a sort of mind-meld sequence in which they were suddenly able to understand each other via ... magic or something.

15. How did Ariel spend that entire third day?

When Ariel wakes up on the third morning, she discovers that Eric is engaged to be married to Ursula (in disguise). She overhears Eric say, "The wedding ship departs at sunset." Time to mobilize! However, the next shot we see is Ariel on the pier, despairing as the sun goes down and the ship fades away in the distance. Did she just go back to bed after hearing the news, spending the day in a depressive fugue state? Because I know we've all been there. Or perhaps she'd slept in until mid-afternoon in the first place? As a grownup I find it shocking that the entire conflict is narrowed down to a three-day window, and then the final day is just thrown away. I suppose that's a very adult concern: where does the time go?

Bonus question: Why is it so important to stall the wedding?
As they race against the setting sun, Sebastian orders Scuttle to "stall that wedding!" Why? Scuttle's attack on the wedding party does lead to Ursula's voice charm being shattered, which I admit is pretty convenient. But even if Eric and Ursula had actually been pronounced man and wife ... so what? The wedding is sure to be annulled once it's revealed that under duress, the prince has married an evil supernatural squid-monster. That's surely one of those no-fault situations, I can't imagine even the most pious legal or religious official would consider it binding. And to think, Ursula would probably have gotten away with it if Scuttle hadn't caught her talking to herself -- yet again -- in the mirror. Utopian as it may seem to mere mortals, clearly the mental healthcare in Triton's kingdom left plenty to be desired.

Check out: The Real Pirates of the Caribbean: What the Movies Got Wrong

  • Mariana Galvez

    This is great! However the one teeny issue I have is with #13. No Sebastian does not control the "wind" - His reference to "winds" (plural) is for "woodwind instruments" (i.e. oboe, flutes, etc). When Sebastian says “Percussion … strings … winds … words” they show the turtles turning over for "percussion" (drums, bongos, etc), the crickets for "strings" (violins, violas) and with "winds" the reeds bend over as a woodwind instruments, and he provides the "words" or lyrics.

    • Tom Blunt

      Yes Mariana, but how/why do the reeds suddenly bend? Are they sentient also?

      • Lacey

        He cuts them with his claws to make an opening so they whistle like a flute

  • Anna

    I was always under the impression that Ursula was Triton's sister. I want to say that I remember there being a throw-away line in there somewhere, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong.

    • SB

      I second this. I'm pretty sure it was confirmed as canon at some point, even thought it's not mentioned in the movie. It might have come up in one of the sequels, but I've never watched those.

    • Katie B.

      While I have to revisit the film to scope that one out, the musical "The Little Mermaid" makes the story much clearer - and makes me wonder what was cut from the animated Disney version that would otherwise have clarified the plot! In the musical, Triton and Ursula are brother and sister, children of Poseidon. At his death, the sea king's realm was divided between his children, his magical trident was given to Triton, and his magical crown was bestowed upon Ursula. However, Ursula's desire for ultimate power led to her banishment, although she retained the crown.

      Hmm, even THAT scenario makes me wonder - why did she get to keep her magical inheritance after trying to dethrone her brother, and how was she banished if the two of them were each given part of the seven seas to rule? Huh.

      • natalie

        Lol, I'm trying to figure out how an octopuses is the sister of a merman!

    • KolaBugg

      Nope your right theres a deleted scene and you could prolly find it on youtube!

    • Steven

      There was a scene that was deleted in which a sailor on Eric's ship explains that Ursala was Triton's sister.

  • Joseph

    Interesting. As far as Max the dog not talking, he joins a line of other Disney characters that can't talk. Think Dopey in Snow White, Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, the monkey and flying carpet in Aladdin, Etch-a-Sketch in Toy Story, and of course Mickey Mouse's dog Pluto. Disney liked silent characters because they were different. So it's not that unusual.

  • Lexi

    So I have a few issues with this. The first one going on about how she was always late and getting into trouble and had an obsession with the first human she saw-- she was young and curious! She wanted adventure. She wasn't trying to be bad, she was trying to learn new things. And, unlike so many other characters (and even people in real life) she wasn't afraid of the unknown (humans) she wanted to learn about them.
    Second- Eric's boat. They weren't on a voyage. They were just offshore celebrating his birthday. Ariel was near them because she wanted to watch them. She sought them out.
    And the big explosion-- hello there are big explosions in EVERY movie. Let's pick apart every other movie on earth now.
    The black fish-- yes racial stereotypes not cool. But it's also a pretty innocent one (she sings...c'mon)
    And lastly all the little holes in the plot that are picked apart (why doesn't she write Eric a letter? etc.) Those are in every movie ever. We could sit here and do this for all movies. There is always something simpler the character could do, a simple solution. But then there'd be no movie.
    I do agree with Ursula though. I've often wondered her back story.

    • Tom Blunt

      "We could sit here and do this for all movies." I think you just described my dream job!

    • Katie B.

      I guess I never took offense at the "black fish" because it made me think of Ella Fitzgerald with a backup jazz orchestra, and who wouldn't want a nod toward one's musical prowess in such an awesome film?

      The film was re-released to theaters for a weekend or so when I was 15 (it originally came out when I was 7 or 8) and I went to see it, making the total number of times I'd seen it on the big screen 6. How I'd conned my parents into taking me to see it five times as a kid, I'll never quite know. I'll admit it - when Ariel signs her name to that scroll and her writing is in English characters, I went, "Hey! She could totally have written out her story to Prince Eric and survived all this heartache! C'mon, Disney, close the loopholes!" But as you wisely said, then there would be no movie.

      As for Ariel's total nakedness when she becomes human and her voluptuous figure when she's a mermaid, it's amazing how innocent our minds were back then. It neither occurred to me to blush for her when she urgently requires some clothing (hastily improved by a clever Scuttle from the shipwreck's sails) and that her male friends can see her in all her deshabille, nor avert my eyes from her ample bosom just barely covered by seashells. I know MY parents would never have let me wear such a top at age 16! But that was how innocent we were in 1989, and I miss that.

      • Taradactyl

        But why's it gotta be a Black Fish?

        • Everyonesacritic

          Cause then someone would complain that everyone is 'white.' It never seemed to be insulting to me.

        • Sarah

          Really? Why should it NOT be a Blackfish - which is a real fish, by the way? Sure it could have been a whitefish. It just so happened that she was a blackfish - and probably proud of it - who was a member of the band and she sings!

      • Argobard

        Well, I was NOT a child when "The Little Mermaid" was first released. I was, however, a Broadway musical geek who was aware that the composer and lyricist had previously created a quirky little show I was fond of: "Little Shop of Horrors". So, as an adult, when Triton grants Ariel's wish to be human, the person I was with whispered in my ear, "Thanks for the pu..y, daddy." She thought it was hilarious, but I was mortified. As an adult, I was always aware of Ariel's sexiness for a Disney princess.

  • Markus The Viking

    In answer to question 3.

    In the first drafts of the script you find out that Ursula and King Triton are siblings, Disney cut it out due to time constraints.

  • http://educationofheatherlouise.tumblr.com/ HeatherLouise

    The blackfish is real. It's native to California. Go figure.

    http://calfish.ucdavis.edu/species/?uid=80&ds=241

    • Donald G

      It isnt racist because the fish is black; its because the lips are over-emphasized and the fish is black.

      The same reason clowns are racist. Afro, comedian, big nose, red lips, *different* skin color

      • Uhh Nope

        No, it's because it's a reference to Blackface comedy that was popular in urban areas during industrialization. Basically, white men painted their faces black and imitated African Americans in very rascist, vulgar ways for laughs. The blackfish is depicited similarly.

  • Noelle

    I have found myself mostly curious about how Ursula and Triton were so familiar with human female anatomy. I mean, they were able to completely reconstruct Ariel from the waist down.... Did anyone ever explain any of Ariel's new anatomy to her? Is she just winging it? I don't know how mermaids handle the whole bathroom situation, but I highly suspect that it is different from how she is supposed to conduct herself in the palace. Is she going to have any idea what Eric expects on the wedding night? Is anything even possible? I don't know. I'm going to stop there as I have clearly given this too much thought.

    • Tom Blunt

      Noelle, you have beat me at my own game!

    • Beth

      I thought they covered this in hilarious fashion on "Futurama". Not the mermaid turning human part, but the mermaid looks like a hot girl part. Fry marries a hot mermaid, and on their wedding night she's explaining how it works: "I lay my eggs, then I leave, and you release your fertilizer". LOL Human Style has gotta be a pretty big shocker...

    • moonbeam

      Hahaha! ! I think that every time I see TLM. I too think too deeply into such things lol. In the sequel she bas a baby so she learned I guess!

  • Mawrter

    I've wondered some of these questions too! Though I'm guessing annulments weren't very common or accepted. Who ever heard of crab marriages getting annulled?

  • Stacy

    I STOPPED AFTER "To grownup eyes, it’s totally over the top"...... ITS A MOVIE!!!!!!! I LOVED THIS MOVIE AS A KID. THAT'S WHAT IT IS, A DREAMY MOVIE WITH WONDERFUL SING ALONGS EVERY KID TOOK WITH THEM AFTER. SITCOMS AND MOVIES MIMIC THESE FAIRY TALESM WHETHER ITS BELLA FROM BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, CINDERELLA, WHAT HAVE YOU. EVERY STORY LINE IS OUT OF REACH YOU IDIOT ITS FICTION! THESE MOVIES GAVE US KIDS IMAGINATION AND TAUGHT US HOW TO BE TOUGH. PERSONALLY, I LOVED EVERY MINUTE! I LEARNED RIGHT FROM WRONG AND FELT SYMPATHY FOR CHARACTERS LIKE FLOUNDER, BUT IT ALSO TAUGHT LOYALTY TO YOUR FRIENDS. THERE WERE MOVIES MUCH MORE VIOLENT THEN THE LITTLE MERMAID, IT WAS OKAY FOR MOUSE CHARACTERS TO HUNT DOWN BAD GUYS IN BROTHELS FLOODED IN CIGAR SMOKE AND SMUCK AND GET HIS ASS KICKED BY THE BIG BAD RAT, IN THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, LETS TALK ABOUT THAT SHERLOCK HOLMES NUMBER TURNED KID FRIENDLY. OR THE LION KING! UNCLE SCAR KILLING HIS KING BROTHER OUT OF JEALOUS HATRID OF HIS BROTHER. HE KILLED HIM AND MADE HIS NEPHEW WHATCH. LITTLE MERMAID, YES ITS SAD AND HAPPY. BUT DISNEY MOVIES FROM THE 90'S I CAN GO ON FOR DAYS. I HAVE'T MENTIONED A LOT OF OTHER DISNEY MOVIES AS EXAMPLES. THE SEAWEED IS ALWAYS GREENER.

    • Taradactyl

      WHY ARE YOU TYPING IN ALL CAPS? IT'S LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING AT US! The author is not saying "'The Little Mermaid' is a shitty film with no redeeming moral or artistic value." He's more closely examining the problematic messages and gaps in logic that the film displays. Of course you loved the film as a child in the 90s. So did I, and, if you had bothered to read the rest of the article, you might have gotten the impression that the author also loves the film, given his extensive familiarity with it. However, 14 years later, do you still experience that film exactly as a child would? Sadly, your writing tells me you might. Push your thinking a little further: in what way did the film teach you right from wrong? What examples of loyalty to friends does the film provide? Do your examples of violence from other animated children's films respond at all pertinently to what the author has said?

      • RM

        Thank you, Taradactyl, for bring some rational critical thinking to some irrational, non-critical shouting.

      • X7

        "He's more closely examining the problematic messages and gaps in logic that the film displays." No, he isn't. Most of the problems the author has with the movie never occurred. Flounder is not less physically fit since he ends up successfully pulling Ariel across the ocean (in the process he develops confidence in himself, and proves what one can accomplish if they believe in themselves/try their best). Ariel is exploring abandoned sunken ships to research more about the 'surface world' not attempting to break the law. She longed to be human before she even met Eric — this is explained when she sings Part Of Your World (which is easily one of the the most memorable and iconic points of the movie, I don't know how people can miss this when they're attempting to review said movie). No Ariel does not fit the the symptoms of having Borderline Personality Disorder (and it's offensive for people struggling with BPD to suggest that. I'm tired of disorders being used as fodder for unfunny attempts at comedy). Et cetera, etc cetera.

        As for your questions: regarding teaching right vs. wrong, Triton learns in thanks to Ariel and Eric that he was wrong to automatically judge all humans as evil before knowing them as individuals (as a result the film warns against prejudices). When it comes to loyalty, that is actually an ongoing theme of the movie: we explore Sebastian's loyalty to Triton and later Ariel. We explore Ariel's loyalty to her values as opposed to blindingly following what others tell her to think. We explore Eric's loyalty to the girl with the beautiful voice who saved his life (which we know all along was Ariel, and in turn he ends up saving her and Triton). We see Triton's loyalty to his daughter, sacrificing himself to take her place. In turn we see Ariel's loyalty to her father, as she sets out for revenge against Ursula and became the first Disney princess to lay hands on her villainess with the intent to harm.

        Overall I agree with what Stacy was writing. Yes, capslock can be annoying to read — but even more so are people who don't actually watch the movie they're supposed to be reviewing. The idea that the author had "extensive familiarity with" the film is ludicrous given the amount of the things they got glaringly inaccurate. Unfortunately "reviews" that just parrot misinformation and don't do originally research on their own for click-bait are increasingly common, which is what seems to have happened here.

  • Katie B.

    You know what else bugs me about this film? The location of Eric's palace. We have a French chef (Louie), a female head-of-staff with an Italian or Spanish name (Carlotta), an undoubtedly English advisor (Grimsby), a Mediterranean-style castle (Eric's palace), a tropical climate ("Under the Sea" cast), a Caribbean crab (Sebastian), and a prince with Mediterranean features but a Viking name (Eric). The style of the ships, clothing, and ground transportation suggest late 1700s or early 1800s, but where in the world does this story take place?

    • Elysa

      In the Enchanted Forest turned Storybrooke? 😉

    • RM

      Hmmm... I'd assumed some British-owned Caribbean isle, but yeah... that's weird.

    • Colleen

      Not to mention Ursula singing about the Caspian Sea in "Poor Unfortunate Souls"...the Caspian Sea is a landlocked body of water in Russia!

  • Everyonesacritic

    I always though Ariel was kind of a brat. She actually says she's got everything, but it's not good enough (part of your world).

  • skivskiv

    Why did Ariel the Little Mermaid wear seashells?

    Because she outgrew her "B" Shells!!

    Bah-dum! Tsh!

  • Emily

    Actually with #8 Ursula knew Sebastian and Flounders was there. It is shown when Ariel is signing the paper and Sebastian shouts out and thus Ursula's two eels (I think Jetsam and Float) wrap themselves around him.

    • Wren

      I believe their names are "Flotsam" and "Jetsam" (Flotsam is "floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo", and Jetsam is "part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is purposely cast overboard or jettisoned to lighten the load in time of distress and is washed ashore."). Basically, man-made sea junk.

  • Emily

    Also with #10 it's only her signature.

    • Josh

      Thank you! A signature is not signs of comprehending written word or ability to write a letter.

  • Emily

    Finally (there are other points on here I disagree but can't be bothered to write) stalling does help so Ariel can make it on the boat in time and get her voice back. Did you even watch the movie?

    • Tom Blunt

      Why would it matter if they were already married by the time Ariel got there? It's not like stalling the wedding stalls the BOAT, or helps Ariel get there any faster. And if the plan was merely to break the shell and get her voice back, then that could also just as easily have occurred after the wedding took place.

      Also, are you suggesting that Ariel can effortlessly sign her own name with perfect penmanship, but doesn't know how to write ANY other words? Curious educational system these merfolk must have...

      • Elysa

        If we're placing the time period before the 1800s, marriages were notoriously difficult to annul (or legitimize for that matter - but that brings up a whole other issue of the ability of a prince to arrange a marriage in one day).
        The more interesting question is the feasibility of a marriage between Ariel (a mermaid w/ legs and no other human identity) and a human. Lots of paperwork accompanied a historical marriage, not to mention the focus on succession and bloodlines. (Not to mention the aforementioned anatomical difficulties - glad I'm not the only one who contemplated the reproduction possibilities of merpeople and humans)

        At the end of the day, I make myself stop thinking about these questions with a simple reminder:
        There are mermaids and the fish talk - logic and disbelief officially suspended.

  • LalaizSoRandom

    I actually love this but the comments. They tickled me silly. You guys rock!

  • KolaBugg

    3. I just bought the dvd/bluray copy and on the dvd there is a special feature (deleted scene/extended opening) where it explains that ursula is tritons sister. I do not understand why they cut it, now that i know that the film makes more sense. However, i wish this deleted sequence had more back story!

  • Krystle

    No one brought up the fact that Ariel is 16 in the movie and everyone including her father are ok with her getting married. Further I don't know any father that would allow his daughter to be betrothed after knowing a guy, even if he is a prince, after two days courtship (third day was wasted on the wedding to Vanessa/Ursula).

    • Wren

      Well, this is set in the (roughly) late 1700s or early 1800s. Ish. It would probably have been more acceptable for a 16 year old to get married. The three day thing, though, I can't explain at all 😛

  • RM

    It is actually explained in a deleted scene that Ursula is Triton's sister or somesuch, but hey- if it didn't make the cut, it doesn't count.

    • RM

      PS- as to your talking dog point, I'd just always assumed that all the sea creatures shared a similar language- like merfolk can talk to fish the way that Han talks to Chewbacca.

  • ariana

    what time period does this take place in? I have to design costumes for the characters for an assignment and to do this, I need to research and I've been on, literally, 15 websites and none of them say when the play takes place, but when the play was first produced... help?

  • Sophie Thiel

    The second movie was absolutely terrible, there were different animators and voice actors. In the first two minutes of the movie "Ursula's crazy sister!" (exclaimed by Sebastian) kidnaps Ariel's genetically human child "Melody." Apparently Arial was supposed to return to the sea, how is that possible. They didn't have submarines, and the chorus line of fish made it obvious she was returning to the water. Then some giant shark named "Undertone" just came out of nowhere... While all this is happening, Eric has no emotion or expression as his child is dangling over the jaws of a giant shark, (Ursula's crazy sister in blackmailing Triton into giver her the Trident or she will kill his granddaughter) Then to keep Melody safe, Ariel decides she can't ever know about the ocean or Merpeople. So they put a huge wall around the Ocean, and twelve years later, everyone looks the same... no dark spots, wrinkle, and no one in the kingdom has a pimple. Then it cuts to a shot where Melody is missing on her 12th birthday, and turns out to be playing in the ocean behind the see wall, being besties with all the talking animals. (Which she knows all about).... The rest of the movie is even worse, but you need to watch it to fully understand the pain.

    • ArielHater

      Agree! And what I hate most about it, Ariel decided to save her hubby instead of a daughter, what a lovely mother she is!

  • Kellie g

    The hw bonus question can easily be answered ursela has to kiss the prince (end of the wedding) before the sun goes down or she wont be able to stay in her human form. They stall the wedding to keep ursela from kissing the princs before the sun sets.

    • Tom Blunt

      I believe you misremember the story -- nothing is ever said about Ursula needing to kiss the Prince.

  • Taleia

    1:Ariela was 16 so she was young and curious.... if you weren't late and in trouble when you were 16 you were probably a lame
    2:flonder was a guppie named flounder which is why he was always scared he was named founder because his personality reflected that our a flounder....
    3:Ursula and Triton were children of Posideon abs Ursula was banished from the palace
    4: The hook was an item that sparked her interest..... she was not a violent teen who was putting to kill someone
    5: The ship was struck by lightening and caught fire in the storm.... that's why Erik had be rescued because jumped back on the ship to save Max then it hit explosives
    6:google a goddamn a black fish....but i could've sworn it said catfish... if not its international known that black women have bomb vocals..... so the f what
    7: the statues no matter how heavy... floats to the bottom of the ocean..... the scene happened to be above the trove... all he had to do was push it a little to guide it....
    8: im pretty sure Ursula didn't wasn't Ariel dead... her plan was to have Ariel fail her mission which is why she made get sign that contract making her ursula slave knowing that Triton would trade himself ultimately making her Queen of the seas
    9: if you notice had she nit had fins she would've still been naked. ...she's a mermaid she previoulsy had no need for clothes because they would have been soaked..... she had the same figure with her tail....
    10: the letter would defeat the entire purpose of the movie....that would make it boring and over within 20 mins .... duh.....
    11: idk...... they are all just stone damn cannibals i guess
    12there were always georgez back then......there were not as advanced as we arre it was there too show Ariels courage and bravery... therefore causing aerik to fall in love with her even more
    13no Sebastian did nit control the wind and no they did not bend on their own the swan fluttered their wings which caused a breeze..
    14:Disney silences loads of animals but allows others to talk..... goofy and pluto are both dogs yet pluto is a mute
    15:Ariel like most teens pprobably did spend get whole day grieving Orr yes she could have awoken mid day....

    THE BIGGEST QUESTION IS: Why was there a Jamaican crab in the Atlantic Ocean.....?

  • Josh

    I argue that Ariel could not write. There are many people in this world that can sign their name but not read even one word enough to comprehend. Children learn to write their name before most if not any other word. She is never seen actually reading a book. We see her collecting these books and other human artifacts, but there is nothing more than flipping through pages without reading in the whole movie.

    • Tom Blunt

      If she could not write, that would have been an extremely easy fact to mention in terms of making it clear why she didn't even try.

      She also could have drawn pictures to explain what was the matter. She's had hands her entire life, surely she can draw pictures?

      The fact that neither of these were addressed screams "plot hole" and not "logical explanation."

  • Duane

    Mmmmm. Maybe figured out one of the holes pointed out. As you stated, the ship sank very close to the coast. And since Ariels secret grotto is a rocky feature itself, the ship or more importantly, the statue would have sunk somewhere close to the grotto. All flounder needed was some help from a sea creature strong enough to move the statute inside (maybe there's another entrance we haven't seen? Far fetched I guess...

  • Duane

    Here's one that everyone seems to miss. When Sebastian calms down after seeing the grotto for the first and hears Ariels pleas not to tell Triton about it, he takes Ariels hand and says tell her to come home and "get you something warm to dr(ink)".... How?

  • tooeleblogger

    You left out my biggest complaint about this movie!! Arial is a rebellious girl who directly disobeys her father, makes a deal with "the devil" and has to be rescued at the risk of his entire kingdom, and whose actions are the reason her father ends up a prisoner of Ursula. After his rescue and reinstatement as king, instead of experiencing some sort of penance for her stupid, selfish, immature actions, her father grants her wish to be human and go off and marry her prince! The moral of the story? Selfish actions lead to living "happily ever after". Ugh.

    I love the music, but otherwise, this is one Disney movie not in my collection!

    • Paula

      Plenty of children end up disobeying their parents because they make rules for bad reasons. Love is more important than listening to unreasonable parents. And there is no devil, so get over it. Those stories are all fables from the beginning of time to make people behave. You have been brainwashed.

      • Dick

        "Deal with the devil" is a common expression/cultural motif. And if you actually studied religion, you would realize that what you said is ridiculous beyond question.

  • Trish

    King Triton mustve had a few babys mamas because none of the sisters look alike.

  • Paula

    "15 questions you never asked as a child".
    My son was 2 and I was 24 when this came out. Does the self-centered person who wrote this article assume that everyone on the face of the planet was a kid at the time?

  • Olivia

    a question that was forgotten: HOW DO MERMAIDS EVEN GO TO THE BATHROOM!?

    • Elegant Butler

      Probably leave behind a string of white fish guano the same as goldfish.

  • Elegant Butler

    If Ariel's family lives near the bottom of the sea, then wouldn't she explode upon surfacing so fast, or at the very least get the bends?

  • ElegantButler

    If Mermaids live so far down in the water? Why didn't Ariel explode when she surfaced so quickly?

  • syljan

    Blackfish = black sheep

  • Rei

    "If she'd wanted revenge, she could have easily just murdered Triton's daughter outright"
    She wanted Ariel's voice though, which she couldn't have if she just killed Ariel outright, and usually in fantasy.. magically stealing an attribute requires a deal to be made.

    "Why can't Max talk?"
    My theory: The lost civilization of Atlantis was a highly technological civilization that ended much like the world today is probably going to: nuclear war that ends in a massive spread of radiation and nuclear fallout that will last for thousands of years, causing a nuclear winter and major increase in sea level. Over a period of centuries, the nuclear waste fucks with the genetics of the surviving humanoids and animals in that area. After years of death and some genetic adaptation, fish/atlantean (humanoids) hybrids start popping up. Some of these are just marine life with atlantean intellgence, others are half atlantean/half fish. The overall intelligence compared to the old Atlanteans is drastically reduced, but some of the structures like Triton's palace and technologies still exist (like Triton's triton, and Ursula's "magic"). However, this nuclear event didn't affect the ENTIRE world, especially considering Atlantis was buried in water (which drastically hinders the distance radiation can spread) so all of the surface animals/people largely remain unaffected. Max's dog is just an unaffected land animal.

  • Mizza

    What is annoying in general is how people take Disney movies and do this to them. Hans Christian Anderson version is a lot darker. Ariel turns to see foam because she can kill the prince Eric and I do believe Ursula is the King's sister if you have ever read the original story. Which would be Grimm's Fairy Tales. Quit over thinking and ruining peoples childhoods so rethinking my daughters name thank you... Loved the named Ariel as a kid...

    • Coulinjo

      @Mizza -why does Ariel turn to see foam?

      • Colleen

        Because that was the deal she made with the sea witch. If she failed to make the prince love her by the end of three days, she would turn into sea foam, as all merfolk do when they die (they don't have souls, so they can't go to heaven like humans). Also, in the original story, the mermaid didn't just lose her voice - she was told that every step she took would feel like she was walking on sharp knives. She failed to gain the prince's love so she died and turned into sea foam.

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  • Alex

    SO, I'm late to the topic train, but how did Ursula get her name? From the Latin Ursa which is a female bear...but she's a weird octopus hybrid. Anyone got an insight? Please?

  • natalie

    Haha, these are true. Lol, but on the "winds" part, he means like the wind instruments I think. Because he says strings and etc..

  • natalie

    The dog can't talk because Ariel can't understand him. The only reason the sea creatures talk is because Ariel is a sea creature as well so she can understand them. I don't remember if that showed in part one, but it did in part two when her daughter talked to Sebastian, but everyone else heard him making lobster noises. But then again...how did Eric hear Sabastion say her name was Ariel in part one?... Lol.

  • Andrea

    One of the questions is why doesn't Ariel wrote to Eric that she is the one who saved him. Well I've done some research on what the contract says and so far all the sites days the same thing. There are only two part in English and the rest is in some other language. How do we know what that means. It could translate as part if the terms of what she can or can not do to win her loves heart. For all wet know that could of been a condition of the contract. Not being able write who she is either. Ursula wants to make sure Ariel can't get that kiss. She's been spying on Ariel. She could have anyway known he wanted to marry who saved him, so she cold have put that in the contract.

  • Brodie

    You can easily get the answer for #3 by watching the extended scenes! This is the link to the one which I believe should not have been cut out at all! But there are also others which are eye openers in the little mermaid world - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xViGEtZtGZY&client=mv-vf-uk&safesearch=always (extended version of fathoms below)

    • Brodie

      ** adding to that though, in the little mermaid 2, Ursula's sister (and by extension King Tritons sister) gets Ariels daughter to steal the triton from its stand which only someone of royal blood can do, which is a plot hole in itself because then it means ursula and her sister should have been able to take it from the stand themselves. Only theory I could have is that Triton is Ursula's half brother, Both had Poseidon as a father but different mothers**

  • Miss Hannah

    "For some reason she gets a free pass because she doesn't share our Puritanical body-shame. Even so, Pocahontas would never." ACTUALLY, she would have, as girls in her tribe at that time would have been naked and bald except for a lock of hair until marriage (and she was 10-11 when the story starts), and Pocahontas means like bratty/spoiled one.. her real name was Matoaka.
    A very good read:
    http://www.powathan.org/pocc.html
    Disney changed the story completely except for her being the central part.

  • Merry

    My question is why is Triton's closest adviser a crab, and how much does this annoy perfectly capable mermen/maids who could fill this position?

  • Helen

    The wedding is stalled to give Ariel time to get there as Flounder is pulling her there.I'm pretty sure that Disney have heavily based The Little Mermaid on The Tempest.I mean,there's even a free spirited character in it called Ariel, and Ursula could've been banished a la Prospero

  • Helen

    Another point:If the film is set in and around the Caspian Sea,why does no one look like they're from that part of the world?

    • MarkinTex

      What makes you think the film is set in the Caspian sea? The Little Mermaid

      was written my Hans Christian Andersen, a Dane, so it makes more sense it would be set in the North Sea.

      • Aelwyn

        When Ursula makes her incantation to turn Ariel human and take her voice, she says the line, "Come, winds of the Caspian Sea." I suppose she could have just been borrowing them from a far off sea. But it was kind of an odd line.

  • T

    Why didn't Ariel think the fork was a mini-trident? I mean, her dad carries one around all the time, and a fork really does look like a mini-trident - especially because the one they show has three prongs instead of four. Instead she acts all confused.

    Also, if they eat anything down under the sea, maybe they'd use utensils and then she'd know what a fork was? Or maybe they just eat with their hands because hey, they just get clean right away since they live underwater.

    Just things that run through my mind as my 3 year old watches this movie over and over.

  • Elizabeth

    Eric isn't the first Human Ariel sees. In fact if you watch the movie there's multiple references for Ariel defying her father and going to see the human and see the world above. She always wanted to be a part of that world. She just fell in love with Eric, who loves the sea.

  • Brooke

    What can another name for the little mermaid be for a twisted folktale

  • Jumpy

    A question that should be asked is how does Ariel deal with the bathroom? She spent most her life with a half fish body probably doing as fish do and just crapping as she swam. Also with her lack of general human knowledge I'm sure she didn't know what a toilet was either.

  • YesMan

    It's a Disney Movie what's wrong with you people??

  • MarkinTex

    On #14, about Max the dog not being able to speak, I think this falls under the larger Disney Goofy-Pluto paradox: Goofy and Pluto are both dogs, and even look like the same breed of dog, so why does Goofy talk, wear clothing, and walk on two legs, while Pluto is a mute, naked quadruped?

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