Princess Ariel is a mermaid who first appeared in Disney's 1989 theatrical release The Little Mermaid, its television series, and sequels The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning. The character is based on the protagonist of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" story, but was developed into a different personality for the 1989 animated film adaptation. Her distinct appearance consists of long, flowing red hair, a green tail and a purple seashell bikini top. A stage musical version of the 1989 film debuted in 2007.
Ariel's original design was developed by animator Glen Keane, who reportedly said in an animation lecture that she was based on his own wife. Ariel's appearance was also based on model Sherri Stoner, who provided live-action references for the animators during the development of the film and also inspired the look for Belle. A challenge in animating Ariel for the 1989 film were the color required to show Ariel in the changing environments, both under the sea and on land, for which the animators required 32-color models, not including costume changes. The blue-green color of Ariel's fin was a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab; the color was named "Ariel" after the character.
Jodi Benson, who was predominantly a stage actress when she was cast, was the choice to voice Ariel because the directors felt "it was really important to have the same person doing the singing and speaking voice". Co-director Ron Clements remarked that Benson's voice had "sweetness" and "youthfulness" that was unique. When recording the vocals for Ariel's theme song "Part of Your World", Benson reportedly asked that the lights in the studio be dimmed, so to create the feeling of being deep under the sea.
Ariel is a bright, spirited mermaid who is shown to be adventurous and stubborn. Her love for adventure sometimes gets her into trouble. Usually though, Ariel is able to overcome any obstacle she faces. Her best friend is a fish named Flounder, and she develops a close relationship with a crab named Sebastian, the court's composer. Ariel is also shown to be impulsive, as striking the deal with Ursula and exploring whilst forgetting about the concert. In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ariel is shown to have matured after becoming a mother. Due to the threat of Morgana, she becomes overprotective of Melody. She is shown to long for the sea, but keeps this hidden from Melody for her own safety.
As a mermaid, Ariel is strikingly beautiful (won an award for most beautiful disney heroine) and has an hourglass figure and warm and immaculate silken skin. As a teenager, her breasts, shoulders, hip and waist are perfect proportions. From the waist down, she has a green tail with paler green, translucent fins and wears a brassiere made out of purple sea shells. She has large, bright blue eyes and full red lips. Her most defining feature is her long, bright red hair.
When she becomes a human, Ariel's lovely tail is turned into two beautiful, long, slender legs with small feet. At first she is naked, but wears an old sail with some rope to keep it closed fashioned by her friend Scuttle. After being taken in by Prince Eric, she wears a dress with light blue sleeves, a black bodice, and a blue shirt. She also wears a big blue bow in her hair and black heels.
As depicted in the 1989 film, Ariel is the youngest of King Triton's seven daughters, and is 16-years-old. Ariel has a vast fascination with the world of humans, despite contact being forbidden by her father, Triton, who hates humans. The beginning of the film shows Ariel salvaging human items, and taking them to Scuttle for identification. Ariel keeps them in a secret grotto as part of her collection, from books to other regular objects (such as globes, mugs and the like), but realized that collecting human objects wasn't enough and desires to actually live among the humans. During a storm, Ariel rescues Prince Eric, whose ship sinks. She sings to him on the shore, but is forced to leave when others approach. Ariel falls in love, and became determined to accomplish her dream of living alongside humanity.
After an argument with Triton regarding her love for the human world, Ariel goes to Ursula, the sea witch. In exchange for Ariel's voice, Ursula makes Ariel human. However, if she cannot get Eric to kiss her within three days, Ariels would become Ursula's prisoner. (Unknown to Ariel, this is simply a part of Ursula's plot to take Triton's throne.) Though she is unable to speak, and thus unable to identify herself, Eric takes Ariel in. Ariel and Eric begin to fall in love, but Ursula intervenes, by turning herself human and hypnotizing Eric with Ariel's voice. The hypnotized Eric plans to marry "Vanessa", actually Ursula in disguise. Ariel is able to stop the wedding, and regain her voice. But before Eric and Ariel can kiss, the third day ends and Ariel becomes Ursula's prisoner. Triton offers himself in Ariel's replacement, allowing Ursula to gain control over the sea. Ariel and Eric have a final showdown, during which Ariel is trapped and left helpless at the bottom of a whirlpool. Ursula aims her newly aquired trident at the princess and fires bolts of pure destruction at her. Ariel fearfully manages to avoid her painful demise each time and is saved by Eric. At the end of the film, Ariel is made human by Triton, who has realized how much Ariel loves Eric. Ariel stays on land with Eric, and marries him. Ariel and Eric live happily ever after.
The prequel series, which first debuted in 1992, takes place an indeterminate time chronologically before the 1989 film, and revolves around Ariel's adventures as a mermaid living under the sea. Most Ariel's adventures involve her meeting various creatures, getting in trouble, and usually getting out of it successfully. Her friends Flounder and Sebastian are also featured prominently in the series. She is also shown to have a friend named Urchin, an orphaned merboy.
Ariel continues to be fascinated with human things in the series and is shown collecting items for her grotto. Many episodes show Ariel working to foil enemies who would do harm to Atlantica. Prince Eric is sometimes shown in the show, but Ariel always just misses seeing him, preserving the continuity that she sees him first in the 1989 film.
This 2000 direct-to-video sequel shows Ariel as having given birth to a daughter named Melody. When Melody's safety is threatened by a sea witch named Morgana (sister of Ursula, who died in the 1989 film), Ariel and her husband Eric decide they must keep Melody away from the sea, and to this effect, build a large wall separating the castle from it. Melody's love of the sea proves too strong, however, and when Melody falls into Morgana's clutches, Ariel is forced to temporarily resume her mermaid form in order to rescue her and save Melody from Morgana's scheme. This sequel features Ariel becoming an overprotective parent for her daughter, effectively taking over the role of her father in the 1989 film. Ariel is the first and only mother of the Disney Princesses.
This direct-to-video prequel features Ariel as a young mermaid. King Triton, her father, has banned music from Atlantica because it reminds him of his deceased wife. It is also shown that Ariel and her sisters were raised very strictly after their mother's death. She learns about music after stumbling onto a forbidden music club. Ariel vows to help her her father realize how wonderful music really is. At the same time, Ariel becomes a victim of a plot by Marina Del Rey, the girls governess, who wishes to become Triton's attache. In the end, Ariel is successful in her quest, and Triton restores music to Atlantica.
Role in the series
Ariel is a Princess of Heart and the rare 8th princess currently (and thankfully) ignored by Mirage to boost up her Princess device in order to free Malefor. Either way, Ariel reprises her role from the films. why Mirage wouldn't include Ariel is mainly because Ariel is not amoung the origenal captured Princesses of Heart, (much like Mulan), and there for, Mirage or even Ursula has no interest for her. Also, she's not considered, a true princess of heart because of either of a guilty pleasure or history of defience to her Father, King Trident.