Deep Thoughts on The Little Mermaid: A Non-Exhaustive List

Repeated viewing of any movie allows you to catch things you didn’t notice the first time, and so when one has seen a film enough times to recite it ad nauseum, one is bound to look beyond the suspension of disbelief most viewers enjoy, dissect its every nuance, and discover gaping holes in the story’s logic. If there’s any movie that fits this description for me, it’s Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

The Little Mermaid - Part of Your World

She’s somehow become a big “Part of My World.”

Not only do the Twins request it at least three times a week, it was also a VHS my two younger sisters would loop at least three times a day when we were growing up. (Fun fact: When the Twins are at my mom’s house, they watch that very same VHS. It still plays perfectly.) It has recently occurred to me that–by my half-assed calculations–this incessant exposure to The Little Mermaid places it comfortably at the top of my all-time most-viewed movies list. While I’d prefer my chart-topper to be something badass like The Empire Strikes Back or Back to the Future, I guess it could be worse, right? (I’m looking at you, The Chronicles of Riddick.) Anyway, apparently watching The Little Mermaid has become my life’s work, so I feel it is my duty as an expert in this field to share the following observations I’ve made over the years, to further enhance your own Mermaid-viewing experience:


1. Violation of the First Animal Amendment

If all of the animals can talk to and understand each other (including animals from “Under the Sea” and land animals like Scuttle), why aren’t that shark and Eric’s dog Max part of the conversation?


2. You Gotta Tell De Boy

Speaking of speaking animals, if Eric can understand things Sebastian whispers in his ear (i.e. Ariel’s name), couldn’t he also really quickly explain in Eric’s ear that yes, Ariel is, in fact, the one that saved him from drowning and that she traded her voice just for a chance to meet him? I mean, come on, who wouldn’t believe a talking crab?


3. No Notary Aquatic

I feel like Ariel and King Triton could have avoided a whole lot of trouble by pointing out that Ursula’s contract was never notarized. Apparently being “Under the Sea” makes you above the law.

The Little Mermaid - Ariel Signing Contract

I make this exact face whenever I sign stuff, too.


4. There is no Great Language Barrier Reef

Furthermore, that contract was in English, and we know Ariel is literate because she signed her name on it. So when she loses her voice and can’t communicate with Eric, what’s stopping her from carrying around a piece of paper and pen to communicate? That’s right. NOTHING.


5. Lip Sinking

You know that part at the end when Ursula’s getting all super-pissed and makes herself enormous and the earth is shaking and her crown comes up right underneath Ariel and Eric? You know when Ariel says, “You’ve got to get away from here,” and Eric replies, “No, I won’t leave you”? Well, next time you see it (for me it’ll be in about five minutes), watch Eric’s mouth when he says that. IT DOESN’T FREAKING MOVE. Bugs the hell out of me every time. This is the climax of the movie, Disney animators. Just because the earth is shaking doesn’t mean you can be lazy and turn Prince Eric into a ventriloquist. Well, you can’t fool me. I’m no dummy.

The Little Mermaid - Ginormous Ursula


5. I feel you, Triton.

Growing up watching the movie as a kid, I’d always think Triton was such an ignorant drag, and I have a feeling that’s what Disney wants, too. But now that I’m a father, I have to say I feel for the guy. He’s got a valid point. It’s common knowledge that humans eat fish without even thinking about it, so it makes complete sense for him to be concerned that his daughter is all wanting to be “part of their world” and whatnot. He’s just trying to keep his daughter safe, just like I’d be super pissed if I found out my daughter was hanging out with shady folk, or not wearing her seatbelt, or listening to country music. And then, when Triton confronts Ariel, she has the nerve to say, “Daddy, you don’t even know him!” Well, guess what, Ariel? Neither do you! You watch Eric all stalker-like as he dances around with his flute for five minutes, and you feel you have a firm grasp on his character? Sure, you spent a lot of time together while you rescued him from drowning while he was unconscious. But yeah, sure, that’s a fantastic first date, so it makes complete sense for you to love him, right? Wrong. You’re just lucky Eric wound up being a stand-up guy. And that your dad was okay with turning you into a human with his magic pitchfork.


6. Wait a minute…

Triton can turn Ariel into a human? If his concern was about his daughter being snared and eaten because she’s half fish, why not just turn her into a human to “spend a day warm on the sand” once in a while to let her get it out of her system? In fact, He could turn himself into a human for the day, too, and go along to keep an eye on her. He might even find himself a lady. He’s got that unique ridiculously-ripped hippie look going for him. The dude’s a single dad with seven daughters. He could probably use a vacation.

The Little Mermaid - King Triton

How YOU doin’?


7. What Happens Under the Sea Stays Under the Sea

I wonder if Ursula always has a song ready and dramatic lighting cued up for every “poor, unfortunate soul” she helps. It really could have made for a decent Vegas show if she hadn’t been so bent on world ocean domination. She could have volunteer audience members come onstage so she could taunt them in song à la Lisa Lampanelli.


8. Extreme Makeover: Sea-Slug Thingie Edition

OR…even better than the Vegas show: a reality show in which every episode consists of a contestant asking Ursula to grant a wish with the caveat that if they don’t hold up their end of the deal, they become those sea-slug monster thingies, resulting in a constant race against the clock smattered with singing and swim-dancing. They could call it Poor, Unfortunate Souls.


9. Victoria’s Sea-cret

I don’t have boobs, so I’m no expert, but having felt the sharp insides of seashells, I’m assuming that’s not the comfiest of bra situations there. Plus, I’m guessing it’s kind of a pain in the ass to find a dead clam carcass that is your exact cup size. Just a thought.

The Little Mermaid - BURN

Sometimes it just hurts so much.

. . .

Now it’s your turn!

I have a feeling I’m not the only one with deep thoughts on The Little Mermaid. If you have any of your own, please don’t deny Science of your insights. You gotta leave de comments below.


You may also enjoy:

I'm The Meta-Map, I'm The Meta-Map, I'm the Meta-Map   Reasons Pocahontas Needs to Stop Judging Me   Unanswered Questions from Children's Songs: A Non-Exhaustive List

If not, remember that the seaweed is always greener in somebody’s else’s lake.


  1. miamamma35

    Holy Crap, this is hilarious and I’ve never even seen the movie!! I have boys, so I haven’t had the pleasure of dying a slow Death by Little Mermaid….but I sure could have fun with Scooby and The Gang!!!


    • John Pseudonymous

      Wow, I guess I just assumed everyone’s seen it since I can recite it backwards and forwards. In that class, I’m glad it was still entertaining to those who’ve never seen it. If you were ever to destroy Scooby and the Gang, give me a shout. That sounds fantastic. :)


  2. Joanna

    LOL!!! I loved watching this movie growing up (and currently still – even though my daughter hasn’t watched it yet). Your insights are spot-on and hilarious! “’Daddy, you don’t even know him!’ Well, guess what, Ariel? Neither do you!” Ariel is a TRUE teenager for sure – arrogant, day-dreamy, and craves independence.

    Sebastian could have also used his voice to save his own life from the French cook. Also, how did Grimsby possibly miss a mermaid trying to flop back into the ocean after she saved Eric’s life?


    • John Pseudonymous

      I’m not so sure about Sebastian saving himself from the chef by speaking. That guy had a knife and was taking no prisoners. Regarding Grimsby, I always thought that myself. Maybe his peripheral vision’s going in his old age?


  3. Crazed in the Kitchen

    You are so right. My now-almost-5-year-old son had a period a year or so ago where he LOVED this movie. We watched it soooo many times. He still uses an Ariel lunchbox and beach towel. Everything you said is right on. I have to say, I am really glad he seems to be leaving Ariel behind, though I may stab myself in the eyes if I have to watch “Cars 2” again.


    • John Pseudonymous

      Thanks! Yeah, both of my kids are very much into it. I have a feeling my son’s going to have a thing for redheads. I have to say, if you’re going to watch movies repeatedly, the Pixar ones are on the better end of family entertainment. Another staple for us is Monsters, Inc., which–even though we watch just about as frequently as The Little Mermaid–and I’m not even kind of sick of it.


  4. lovethebadguy

    Duuuuude. You really HAVE watched this a little too much, huh? I haven’t seen it in years… And I kind of really want to.

    But now I command that you watch this. WATCH AND ENJOY.


    • John Pseudonymous

      Thanks so much! Glad to hear you love both. I’d hate to offend people who love to movie. I wouldn’t say I “love” it, but definitely still enjoy it despite these shortcomings I’ve outlined.


      • Whacamole Mom

        Right? The Little Mermaid is much better think tank. ( pun intended.) As for me? I can pretty much recite the movie Cars by heart. It’s branded into my brain from our countless viewings.

        Long live Ariel.


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  6. Raiha

    I LOVE your posts! I’m going through all of them and I can relate a little, my elder sisters are identical twins, and I have fraternal twin nephews.

    Anyway, here’re some of the things that always bug me while watching little mermaid:

    The ship that Ariel is exploring is a decrepit wreck. The chandeliers etc are all destroyed, grimy and rusty, BUT there is an oh-so-shiny fork lying in the middle of the floor! Shouldn’t it have corroded or something?

    I always wonder who’s holding down the fort at Ursula’s lair and keeping an eye on the “poor, unfortunate souls” while Ursula is frolicking around as a sultry, albeit mean, brunette.

    I want that awesome glittery underwater pen Ariel uses to sign the contract. I can write in the shower, with sparkly ink no less :D

    Where are Eric’s parents? Very convenient that Ariel doesn’t have to impress anyone to marry the prince. There’s only a chef, a maid and a butler in that huge castle…

    But you know, it’s a children’s film, it isn’t supposed to be logical. Still, it’s pretty annoying once you watch them as an adult. Try watching Sleeping Beauty over and over again, you’ll WANT to “prick your finger on a spinning wheel”…


    • John Pseudonymous

      These. Are some fantastic. Observations.

      Perhaps the fork was stainless steel, or had been coated with some kind of revitalizing shampoo?

      Yeah, who IS watching her “poor, unfortunate souls” while she’s out? But actually, is there really any concern that they’re going to get up and go anywhere? I’ve got a feeling they’ll be there when she gets back.

      Regarding the water pen, I’m pretty sure they have those in SkyMall, right next to the dog jacuzzi.

      It would have been nice to know what the deal with Eric’s parents is. A mere one-line mention of them being “back at home” or dead would have worked. Although, I think we can assume they’re alive because he’s Prince Eric and not King Eric.

      As for Sleeping Beauty, that’s another one I’ve watched WAY too many times, and there’s just so much wrong with that one, too. Better to just sleep through it.


  7. Joanna

    Ok, now that my little girl is watching this movie repeatedly, I have more to add to your post:

    1. If Ursula can only see her true reflection in the mirror on the wedding ship, how does she know her appearance looks different to everyone else? Maybe she just looked down at herself…?

    2. I’m amazed that Eric grabs a harpoon and just jumps right in after Ariel and Ursula. I understand that he loves her, but if it were me, I’d say, “Turn this ship around and take us back to land! There is some crazy sh*t going on out here in the ocean!”

    3. What happened to Ursula’s body once she died? Is there a giant half-octopus woman carcass on the ocean floor now? Or did her body shrink back to its normal size?

    4. How ‘come nobody seems to mind when Ursula kicks Max (the dog) in the face with her high heel? As a bystander, I would be horrified and say something, even if it is the prince’s bride-to-be.

    5. Shouldn’t all of Ariel’s sisters look somewhat alike? They all have different color hair and fins. Maybe King Triton doesn’t like to settle down with one lady…?

    6. Granted, most teenage girl crushes borderline stalking, but isn’t this being a bit forceful? Maybe it depends on HOW you say it:
    “Watch and you’ll see – some day I’ll be – part of your world.”


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