The Little Mermaid (1989 film)

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The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American-Danish film about a mermaid princess who makes a Faustian bargain with a sea witch in an attempt to become human and win a prince's love.

Written and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, based on the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. Songs by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
Somewhere under the sea and beyond your imagination is an adventure in fantasy. Tagline


  • Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh! Have you ever seen anything so wonderful in your entire life?
  • I've never seen a human this close before. He's very handsome, isn't he?
  • [enraged] You... YOU MONSTER!!!
  • Eric, you've got to get away from here!

Prince Eric

  • A girl rescued me. She was singing. She had the most beautiful voice.
  • I'm tellin' you, Grim, she was real. I'm gonna find that girl... and I'm gonna marry her.
  • Grim, I lost her once! I'm not gonna lose her again!
  • No, I won't leave you!


  • Teenagers. They think they know everything. You give them an inch, they swim all over you.
  • [as Ariel sleeps] You are hopeless, child. You know that? Completely hopeless.
  • I tried to stop her, sir. She wouldn't listen. I told her to stay away from humans - they are bad, they are trouble, they—
  • There you see her / Sitting there across the way / She don't got a lot to say / But there's something about her / And you don't know why / But you're dyin' to try / You wanna kiss the girl.
  • Well, it's like I always say, Your Majesty: Children got to be free to lead their own lives.


  • You know I can't swim that fast.



King Triton

  • I consider myself a reasonable merman. I set certain rules, and I expect those rules to be obeyed!
  • [enraged] So help me, Ariel, I am going to get through to you! And if this is the only way, so be it!


  • [watching Ariel quickly swim home from her lair; first lines] Yes, hurry home, Princess. We wouldn't want to miss old Daddy's celebration, now, would we? Ha! Celebration, indeed. Oh, bah! In my day, we had fantastical feasts when I lived in the palace. And now look at me, wasted away to practically nothing. Banished and exiled and practically starving, while he and his flimsy fish folk celebrate. Well, I'll give 'em something to celebrate soon enough. Flotsam! Jetsam! I want you to keep an extra close watch on this pretty little daughter of his. She may be the key to Triton's undoing.
  • Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. I can't stand it. It's too easy. The child is in love with a human. And not just any human. A prince! [Chuckles] Her daddy will love that. King Triton's headstrong, lovesick girl would make a charming addition to my little garden. [Cackles]
  • Nice work, boys. That was a close one. Too close. The little tramp! Ah, she's better than I thought. At this rate, he'll be kissing her by sunset for sure! Well, it's time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles! Triton's daughter will be mine, and then I'll make him writhe. I'll see wriggle like a worm on a hook!
  • Not a chance, Triton! She's mine now!
  • [last and final words before her death] So much for true love!


  • Get away from me, you slimy, little...!
  • [violently grabs Scuttle by the throat, shaking him] Oh, why, you little…!


  • Eric, if I may say, far better than any dream girl is one of flesh and blood, one warm and caring and right before your eyes.

Chef Louis

  • Come out, you little pipsqueak, and FIGHT LIKE A MAN!!!


  • Why, Eric, that's the first time I've seen you smile in weeks.


  • Isn't it obvious, Daddy? Ariel's in love. [King Triton: Ariel? In love?]


[Scuttle shows Ariel and Flounder a tobacco pipe]
Scuttle: This, I haven't seen this in years. This is wonderful! A banded, bulbous snarfblatt.
Ariel and Flounder: Oh!
Scuttle: Now, the snarfblatt dates back to prehistorical times when humans used to sit around and stare at each other all day. [comes face to face with Ariel] Got very boring. So they invented this snarfblatt to make fine music. Allow me. [blows into it, only to have seaweed and water come out]
Ariel: [realizing what Scuttle said] Music!
Scuttle: [coughs] It's stuck!
Ariel: Oh, the concert! Oh, my gosh! My father's gonna kill me!
Flounder: The concert was today!?
Scuttle: [inspects the "snarfblatt" further] Maybe you can make a little planter out of it or somethin'.
Ariel: [takes it back] I'm sorry! I've gotta go! Thank you, Scuttle!
[she and Flounder swim back home]
Scuttle: Anytime, sweetie! Anytime.

Ursula: [watching Ariel from her lair via Flotsam and Jetsam] Yes. Hurry home, princess. We wouldn't want to miss old daddy's celebration, huh? Would we? [scoffs] Celebration, indeed. Oh, BAH! In my day, we had fantastical feasts, when I lived in the palace. [closeup of her eating a shrimp] And now, look at me. Wasted away to practically nothing. Banished and exiled and practically starving! While he and his flimsy fish folk celebrate. Well, I'll give 'em something to celebrate soon enough. [to her eels] FLOTSAM! JETSAM! I want you to keep an extra close watch on this pretty little daughter of his. She may be the key to Triton's undoing. [fade to black]

[After Ariel is admonished by King Triton and has left the throne room]

Sebastian: Hmph. Teenagers. Dey tink dey they know everyting, you give them an inch, they swim all over you.
King Triton: Do you think I-I was too hard on her?
Sebastian: Definitely not. Why, if Ariel was my daughter, I'd show her who was boss. None of dis flitting to the surface and other such nonsense. No, sir - I'd keep her under tight control.
King Triton: [smiles] You're absolutely right, Sebastian.
Sebastian: Of course.
King Triton: Ariel needs constant supervision.
Sebastian: Constant.
King Triton: Someone to watch over her - to keep her out of trouble.
Sebastian: All da time.
King Triton: [pokes Sebastian] And you are just the crab to do it.
[Cut to Sebastian walking down corridor.]
Sebastian: How do I get myself into these situations? I'm supposed to be writing symphonies, not tagging along after some headstrong teenager. [Sees Ariel and Flounder sneaking off and follows.] Hmm? What is dat girl up to? [He barely makes it into grotto and sees Ariel's collection.] Huh?
Flounder: Ariel, are you okay?
Ariel: If only I could make him understand. I just don't see things the way he does. I don't see how a world that makes such wonderful things - could be bad.
🎵Look at this stuff
Isn't it neat?
Wouldn't ya think my collection's complete?
Wouldn't ya think I'm the girl.
The girl who has everything?
Look at this trove
Treasures untold
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Lookin' around here you'd think
Sure, she's got everything
I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty
I've got whosits and whatsits galore
[opening a box containing wine openers]
You want thingamabobs? I got twenty
But who cares?
No big deal
I want more
I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see
Wanna see 'em dancin'
Walkin' around on those
(Whaddya call 'em?) [playfully grabs Flounder’s fin] Oh, feet.
Flippin' your fins you don't get too far
Legs are required for jumpin', dancin'
Strollin' along down a…
(What's that word again?) Street.
Up where they walk
Up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin' free
Wish I could be
Part of that world
What would I give
If I were to live
Out of these waters?
What would I pay
To spend a day
Warm on the sand?
Betcha on land
They understand
Bet they don't reprimand their daughters
Bright young women
Sick o' swimmin'
Ready to stand
And ready to know what the people know
Ask 'em my questions
And get some answers
What's a fire and why does it
(What's the word?) Burn?
When's it my turn?
Wouldn't I love
Love to explore that shore above?
[Reaching out of the hole at the top of the grotto and sadly sinking back down]
Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that…world🎵
[Sebastian has been struggling around and now comes crashing down making a lot of noise.]
Ariel: Sebastian!?
Sebastian: Ariel, what, are you mad? How could you - what is all this?
Ariel: It, err, it's just my - collection.
Sebastian: Oh. I see. Your collection. Hmm. IF YOUR FATHER KNEW ABOUT THIS PLACE, HE'D
Flounder: You're not gonna tell him, are you?
Ariel: Oh, please, Sebastian, he would never understand.
Sebastian: Ariel. You're under a lot of pressure down here. Come with me, I'll take you home and get you something warm to drink. [A ship passes by overhead]
Ariel: Now, what do you suppose…?

Ariel: [about Prince Eric] He's very handsome, isn't he?
Scuttle: [looking at Max] I dunno; he looks kinda hairy an' slobb'ry t'me.
Ariel: [laughs] Not that one! The one playing the snarfblatt!

Ursula: Now, here's the deal. I will make you a potion that will turn you into a human for three days. Got that? Three days. Now listen, this is important. Before the sun sets on the third day, you've got to get dear old princey to fall in love with you. That is, he's got to kiss you. Not just any kiss. The kiss of true love. If he does kiss you before the sun sets on the third day, you'll remain human... permanently. But if he doesn't, you'll turn back into a mermaid and… you belong to me!
Sebastian: No, Ariel!
[Flotsam and Jetsam wrap themselves around Sebastian and Flounder, silencing them]
Ursula: Have we got a deal?
Ariel: If I become human, I'll never be with my father or sisters again.
Ursula: That's right! But you'll have your man. Life's full of tough choices, isn't it? Oh! And there is one more thing. We haven’t discussed the subject of payment. You can't get something for nothing, you know.
Ariel: But I don't have any…
Ursula: [shuts her mouth with her tentacle] I'm not asking much. Just a token really, a trifle. You'll never even miss it. What I want from you is… [close-up on her mouth] …your voice.
Ariel: My voice?
Ursula: You've got it, sweetcakes. No more talking, singing. ZIP.
Ariel: But without my voice, how can I…?
Ursula: You'll have your looks! Your pretty face! And never underestimate the importance of body language! HA!

Ursula: [watching her eels knock Ariel and Prince Eric off the boat in the lagoon, about to kiss] Nice work, boys. That was a close one. Too close. The little tramp! Oh, she's better than I thought. Well, at this rate, he'll be kissing her by sunset for sure! Well, it's time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles! [mixes up a potion that will transform her into Vanessa] Triton's daughter will be mine! And then I'll make him writhe. I'll see him wriggle like a worm on a hook! [laughing as the camera zooms in on her nautilus shell around her neck which fades out into the moon]

[after discovering "Vanessa" is actually Ursula in disguise, he flies back to Ariel, Sebastian and Flounder]
Scuttle: Ariel, I was flying. I was- Of course I was flying. And I saw the watch- the witch was watchin' the mirror, and she was singin' with a stolen set of pipes! [picks up Sebastian and slams him down on every word] DO YOU HEAR WHAT I'M TELLIN' YOU?! THE PRINCE IS MARRYING THE SEA WITCH IN DISGUISE!
Sebastian: Are you sure about this?
Scuttle: Have I ever been wrong? I MEAN, WHEN IT'S IMPORTANT?!

Ursula: [as Ariel turns back into a mermaid] You're too late! [cackles wickedly] YOU'RE TOO LATE! [transforms back into her own self and grabs Ariel; to Prince Eric, smugly] So long, lover boy. [jumps off the boat and dives into the ocean]
Prince Eric: Ariel!
Ursula: Poor little princess. It's not you I'm after. I've a much bigger fish to…
King Triton: Ursula, STOP!
Ursula: Why, King Triton! Ha ha ha - How are you?
King Triton: Let her go!
Ursula: Not a chance, Triton! She's mine now! We made a deal. [takes out the contract]
Ariel: Daddy, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, I didn’t know!
[King Triton attempts to destroy the contract with his trident to no avail]
Ursula: You see? The contract’s legal, binding and completely unbreakable, even for you. Of course, I always was a girl with an eye for a bargain. The daughter of the great sea king is a very precious commodity. But, I might be willing to make an exchange for someone even better.
Grimsby: Eric! What are you doing?!
Prince Eric: Grim, I lost her once. I'm not gonna lose her again.
Ursula: Now, do we have a deal? [King Triton reluctantly agrees to take Ariel’s place by signing the contract with his trident] Ha. It’s done then!
[Ariel regains her form as King Triton is reduced to a polyp like the rest of the merfolk in Ursula’s lair]

King Triton: She really does love him, doesn't she, Sebastian?
Sebastian: Well, it's like I always say, Your Majesty: Children got to be free to lead their own lives.
King Triton: You always say that?
[Sebastian smiles sheepishly]
King Triton: Then I guess there's just one problem left.
Sebastian: And what's dat, Your Majesty?
King Triton: How much I'm going to miss her.
[Sebastian stares at him in surprise as King Triton uses his magic to turn Ariel into a human]

Cast (voices)



  • Somewhere under the sea and beyond your imagination is an adventure in fantasy.
  • Love has no boundaries.

About The Little Mermaid (1989 film)

  • When we first proposed it, we knew that it was going to be really, really challenging. I mean, for a lot of reasons. But one of the big reasons is two-thirds of the movie takes place underwater. All that requires a lot of animation in this animated films. We have character animation. The artist who animate the characters. They’re kind of like actors. We always felt they are actors with a pencil. Glen Keane and Mark Henn who did Ariel. That’s what they do. Then, we have effects animators. Effects animators do the non-character stuff that moves which is like water waves or bubbles. Or fire or smoke or light effects, if there’s anything that moves that isn’t the character. This probably had more character animation than any Disney movie project since “Fantasia.” This really had a lot of effects, even with the character stuff — like whenever Ariel is underwater, her hair has to move all the time. Hair moving underwater is tricky. We had a lot of meetings about hair. One of the extras in the video is some of the live action footage that we shot for reference to see the hair floating.
  • You see at the heart of it, “The Little Mermaid” is the father-daughter story. It’s an overprotective father. There’s a daughter who is kind of adventurous and rebellious and wanting to see a new world. How do they resolve that? That story is still in place today.

See also