The Biggest Changes In Disney’s The Little Mermaid Remake

May came around quickly, and with it, the Disney live-action of The Little Mermaid on the big screen. The original animated Disney classic is over 30 years old now and loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen‘s story of The Little Mermaid. Decades later, the creators have still managed to convey the atmosphere of the comic in the live-action.

The film stars newcomers Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King. They’re alongside established legends such as Melissa McCarthy and Javier Bardem, and Rob Marshall directs it. Although the creators stuck pretty closely to the protocol, there are a couple of surprising changes in the live-action remake. The biggest changes shall be presented in this list.

Ariel’s Sisters Aren’t Just Singers But Leaders

The Little Mermaid

In the animated Disney original, the seven daughters of Triton (Javier Bardem) give a musical performance. However, in the remake, Triton summons his daughters for an annual meeting to prepare for the Coral Moon festivities. They are presented as having a more active and responsible role in the underwater kingdom.

Scuttle, Flounder And Sebastian Have Design Changes

The Biggest Changes In Disney’s The Little Mermaid Remake

Since Ariel is fascinated by the land and the world above the sea, her connection to Scuttle is an important one. Scuttle provides Ariel with information about land treasures she finds, such as forks, statues, etc. Oftentimes, however, the bird is a tad misguided. In the re-make, Scuttle is a Gannet as opposed to the animated version, in which the bird is a Seagull. It just made more sense to have a bird that can be underwater as well, according to the creators.

Flounder is made to look more like a real fish in the 2023 movie. On top of that, the crab Sebastian is designed after a tropical ghost crab (which normally would not survive underwater). However, since Ghost crabs can make more expressive faces, this change was made.


The Screen Time is Extended to Two Hours

The Biggest Changes In Disney’s The Little Mermaid Remake


The Disney original animated version only runs for an hour and 23 minutes, thus, it is shorter in content. In contrast, the re-make has a runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes. Hence, the individual characters could be better developed and not rushed in the process. This change also made room for three new original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton and songwriter of Moana. Moreover, Ariel and Prince Eric really could get to know each other on a deeper level rather than just scratching the surface.


Ursula is Part of the family

Melissa McCarthy in the little mermaid

In the re-make, the sea witch Ursula actually has close family ties to Ariel. She is her aunt, making her Triton’s sister. Since she is banned by her own brother, her resentment for the Sea King runs deeper. Like in the animated version, the falling out between the siblings is not completely explained. But Ursula holding a grudge against her brother makes more sense than if she just was a random underwater sea witch.

Ariel’s Mother Plays a Bgger Prt

The Biggest Changes In Disney’s The Little Mermaid Remake

Ariel’s mother is never mentioned in Disney’s animated version of The Little Mermaid. In the live-action remake Ariel’s mother is revealed to be dead. It is further explained in the 2023 version that a human actually killed her mother. This provides the context as to why Triton hates humans and wants to keep Ariel safe from them.

Prince Eric is Adopted


In the animated version, Prince Eric does not really have a personality apart from being adventurous and lively. Nothing is really known about him or his family. In the re-make, Prince Eric’s mother is still alive. However, she adopted him since he was a shipwrecked orphan.

Hence, Eric’s family history is also expanded on and his mother, Queen Selina (Noma Dumezweni), acts as a parallel to King Triton, who is only concerned about her son’s safety and well-being. The prince’s mysterious past also serves as another compelling reason for him to explore the uncharted ocean. Probably for the sake of finding his birth parents.

The Spell is More Treacherous

The Biggest Changes In Disney’s The Little Mermaid Remake


As part of her deal with Ursula, Ariel gives up her voice for human legs. Her terms are that she has three days to kiss Eric or she loses her legs and belongs to Ursula. In the animated version, Ariel remembers the spell and the deadline. Contrary, in the live-action, she forgets her deal with Ursula and the requirement to kiss Eric. Sebastian constantly reminds her, but she does not seem to register the severity. As such, the spell is more tricky and treacherous as Ariel does not even know it exists anymore.


Prince Eric is a Hoarder Like Ariel

The Biggest Changes In Disney’s The Little Mermaid Remake

A very wholesome change in the new movie is that Prince Eric also likes to collect items from other cultures like Ariel. In that way, they have a lot in common since she likes to collect land treasures. Meanwhile he’s fascinated by the treasures under the sea.

Ariel Kills Ursula

The Little Mermaid

In the 1989 classic, Eric saves Ariel and kills Ursula. The 2023 version has an empowered stance to it, as Ariel is not a damsel in distress anymore. So, she protects them both by killing Ursula with the shipwreck in the final moments.

The Merpeople and Humans Reconcile

The Little Mermaid

The final scenes of the new The Little Mermaid film show how the humans and Merpeople reconcile after Prince Eric and Ariel’s marriage. They set their differences aside and decide to live peacefully alongside each other, which does not happen in the original Disney movie. The Merpeople come to the surface of the sea when Eric and Ariel embark on their honeymoon journey. All these changes add to the enhancement of the story, making it more interesting and relevant. Since two different cultures decide to co-exist peacefully.

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