‘The Little Mermaid’ Ending Explained: An Alliance B/W the Land & the Sea

It’s been so long since we’ve wanted The Little Mermaid to have a live-action adaptation. It’s finally here but with some minor changes to its ending. The ending of the film also hints at a potential sequel, so we’ve got a lot to uncover!

The Little Mermaid is directed by Rob Marshall and written by David Magee, and it features Halle Bailey in a breakthrough performance as the iconic Ariel. The ending of the film is quite similar to Disney’s animated version, with only minor changes.

The film ends with Ariel destroying the necklace that contains her voice, but she faces a confrontation with Ursula after Triton sacrifices himself for his daughter. Ursula obtains the trident and becomes a colossal and powerful sea witch, threatening both the sea and the land.

However, Ariel defeats her by impaling her with a ship’s bowsprit. Triton reappears, but Ariel and Eric are both heartbroken because they believe they have to part ways. Nevertheless, Triton fulfills Ariel’s desire to be human, and she and Eric get married, bringing harmony to both their realms.

For your convenience, we’ll break down the ending of The Little Mermaid in this article. So, if you’ve not already experienced the spectacle on the big screen, this is your hint to avoid spoilers!

Why did Ariel break Triton’s Rules?

Triton’s parenting was restrictive in his attempt to protect Ariel, suppressing her interest in the surface world and disregarding her opinions and wishes.

‘The Little Mermaid’ Ending Explained: An Alliance B/W the Land & the Sea
Ariel in The Little Mermaid

Triton did so because, as the leader of the merpeople, he disliked humans and was suspicious of them. He wanted to protect his daughter from humans and their intentions. Naturally, Ariel felt exhausted and annoyed but still curious.

The more her father alienated her, the more Ariel longed to explore the human world, which led her to do so in spite of Triton’s rules. Moreover, Ariel did not want to follow the path Triton had planned for her.

She wanted to have the freedom to make her own decisions without being constrained. Ariel wanted to discover things on her own and not depend on Triton’s portrayal.

Moreover, Ariel never understood why Triton put such strict restrictions on her. This led her to break the rules and find out by herself, which in turn began all the trouble.

Why did Ariel give up her voice?

Ariel gave up her voice to Ursula for mainly two reasons: to be able to live with Eric, who she was in love with, and to explore the world above the sea, which she was never able to do because of her father’s restrictions.

Her deal with Ursula was not only motivated by her attraction to Eric. Ariel had a strong desire to live on land, to understand what it means to be human and to explore the surface world.

‘The Little Mermaid’ Ending Explained: An Alliance B/W the Land & the Sea
Ursula and Ariel

Eric was simply an incentive for her to pursue that goal; her developing emotions for him strengthened her connection to the human world. Ariel believed she had no alternative to experience the surface unless she traded with Ursula fully.

Triton was not willing to grant Ariel what she wanted, so the mermaid opted for drastic measures. Otherwise, Ariel would’ve returned to her life unhappy and would have always longed to experience the surface world.

Why did Ursula want revenge?

Ursula’s scheme against Ariel was not accidental. Ursula sought vengeance on her elder brother Triton after she was banished and exiled.

The sea witch also craved immense power, and the only way she could achieve that was to seize Triton’s trident. By striking a bargain with Ariel, Ursula anticipated that she would lure out Triton and that he would sacrifice anything to rescue his daughter, including handing over his trident.

‘The Little Mermaid’ Ending Explained: An Alliance B/W the Land & the Sea
Ursula in The Little Mermaid

She would accomplish her revenge and the trident in one stroke, especially since she’d made it extremely difficult for Ariel to exchange a true love’s kiss with Eric. However, Ursula had no idea what her niece could do, which ultimately led to her downfall.

Ursula and Triton’s Death & Resurrection Explained

Both Ursula and Triton die in the film, but Triton is later resurrected by Ariel. Ursula’s death is similar to the one in the original Little Mermaid animation.

After having the power of Triton’s trident, Ursula grows in power and decides to create a storm to destroy both humans and the merpeople. But her dreams are short-lived.

Ariel (and not Eric, as it is in the animated version) put through a wrecked ship’s bowsprit through Ursula’s chest, killing her and restoring peace to the sea. Ursula’s death frees the seven seas or the surface world from her shackles, and her death effectively terminates her rule and the magic she wields to control others.

Since her magical powers break, this also frees Triton, and he is resurrected. King Triton had earlier surrendered himself to rescue Ariel, taking her place to honor the deal she struck with Ursula, which bound him to the sea witch and turned him into dust.

‘The Little Mermaid’ Ending Explained: An Alliance B/W the Land & the Sea
King Triton in The Little Mermaid

Though it seemed like King Triton was dead, Ariel’s victory over Ursula resurrected him. Ursula may have imprisoned merpeople for eternity, but the spell was no longer effective after her death. So, Triton was free of the contract and was able to return to normal life. With his trident back in hand, King Triton was also able to grant Ariel what she wished — to be together with Eric and live on surface land.

The Humans & Merpeople Come Together

The human world and the sea could form an alliance, as suggested by Ariel and Eric’s marriage in The Little Mermaid. Humans had a fear of merpeople, often holding them responsible for the shipwrecks.

Similarly, Triton prevented Ariel from visiting the surface because he was suspicious of humans and aware of the violence and chaos they could create. It was two sets of beings who did not appreciate each other, but Ariel and Eric’s marriage indicated that the two worlds could live together in harmony. There was much they could teach each other, and Ariel and Eric’s relationship was a pathway to their cooperation.

Will there be The Little Mermaid 2?

There has been no official confirmation about a sequel to The Little Mermaid as of now. The original animated version of the film has a sequel, titled The Little Mermaid: Return to the Sea, which focuses on Eric and Ariel’s daughter.

The ending of The Little Mermaid does not specifically hint at a sequel but also leaves the door open for the story to continue. The film ends with Ariel and Eric’s wedding and their departure on a voyage together.

‘The Little Mermaid’ Ending Explained: An Alliance B/W the Land & the Sea
Ariel and Eric in The Little Mermaid

The merpeople and humans are in harmony with each other, and there’s a sense that their worlds will be more intertwined for the first time in the future. The ending also implies that Eric’s Island kingdom will be more welcoming to others — as he wished.

It’s possible a potential clash between the sea and land could isolate the two worlds, with only Ariel and Eric being able to bridge the gap. With Ursula gone, a new villain could also emerge, seeking vengeance. There’s a lot more to discover, and a sequel could address the questions the film leaves unanswered.

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About The Little Mermaid (2023)

The Little Mermaid is a 2023 American musical fantasy film directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay written by David Magee. Co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, DeLuca Marshall, and Marc Platt Productions, it is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1989 animated film of the same name itself, loosely based on the 1837 fairy tale of the same title by Hans Christian Andersen.

The film stars Halle Bailey in the titular role alongside Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, Javier Bardem, and Melissa McCarthy.

The Little Mermaid follows a mermaid princess Ariel who makes a deal with a treacherous sea witch Ursula to trade her voice for human legs in order to impress Prince Eric, who is saved from a shipwreck before the time runs out.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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