The Little Mermaid 2023: How is it different from the animated original?

the little mermaid live action and animatedDisney

The 2023 remake of The Little Mermaid is set to be a hit, but how does it compare to the original, in regards to certain details?

As of late, Disney has been re-imagining many of their most famous animated films and transferring them into the live-action world. From Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, to Aladdin, The Little Mermaid is the next classic to be given the live-action treatment. Audiences will no doubt be piling in to see the remake, which we encourage in our review of the film.

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The original first came out in 1989, became a massive hit, and is now one of the most beloved animated films of all time. So naturally, the live-action remake has a lot to live up to.

But in adaptation, naturally some things get changed around, which we’ll explain in this list. We won’t get into the casting of the characters, as everyone’s already talked about that, and we won’t talk about the difference in the ending, as we’ve already explained that here. But without further ado, let’s get into the rest of the changes.

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New Little Mermaid songs, with some cut out

Ariel in The Little Mermaid remakeDisney

The soundtrack for The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s best, so naturally we’d notice some changes. In the live-action, the opening sailors song is cut – they have another song later on – so Part of Your World ends up being the first song in the whole film.

On top of that, a load of new songs are added, including one (good song) for Prince Eric, and one (not so good song) for Scuttle.  

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Humans also hate mer-folk

trtion the little mermaidDisney

While it’s clear in the animated films that mer-people hate humans, believing them to be dangerous, in the live action film, the vice-versa is also show. This is different as in the original, it seems like no humans even believe in any magical seas creatures.

Here, Prince Eric’s mother warns her song about dangerous and powerful “Sea Gods,” which is why she discourages him from exploring the ocean to build their small kingdom.

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Prince Eric is expanded upon

eric the little mermaidDisney

Naturally, since the live-action Little Mermaid has a longer run time, we would expect more material about the characters. And here we find out a lot more about Eric than his animated counterpart.

Not only does he get his own song about his love for Ariel and the great wide ocean, we also find out that he’s adopted. He and Ariel bond about sometimes feeling out of place, and how they both love discovering artifacts, and both wish to unite their separate worlds.

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Ariel forgets that she’s meant to kiss Eric

eric and ariel the little mermaidDisney

When watching the original Little Mermaid, you may find yourself wondering why Ariel doesn’t just tell Eric – or get someone else to tell him – that she must kiss him in order to fully become human.

Well, in the live-action, she is unable to. Not just because she has less time given to her by Ursula, but also because Ursula secretly adds a spell that makes Ariel forget that she must kiss Eric. Because of this, we know that when she does kiss him, it’s because she loves him, not just because she wants to complete a task.

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Ursula is Triton’s sister – and she kills him

The Little Mermaid review bombedDisney

In the animated Little Mermaid, Triton and Ursula have no relation – although Ursula is given a sister in the sequel. But here in the live-action remake, turns out that Ursula is Ariel’s auntie, and she’s somewhat of a wicked sister to Triton that wanted to take the throne before she was banished.

Now, if she were first in line, that could make her claims legitimate, but considering she straight up murders Triton in the live-action (rather than just turning him into a plant) by having her eels electrocute him, maybe she’s not cut out for power. Don’t worry though, Triton comes back to life with the power of his trident at the end.

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Ursula is also changed in the live-action movie in that she’s an octopus, rather than a squid like she was before, though that’s explained better in the Tweet below:

Ariel kills Ursula instead of Eric

In the finale of the live-action Little Mermaid, Ariel gets trapped by Ursula, and it’s up to Eric to drive a damaged boat into the giant sea witch, stabbing her to death.

In the remake, the roles are reversed, with Eric trapped and Ariel doing the killing. This makes the finale more of a moment for our lead heroine, which is good considering the movie is named after her, after all.

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The Little Mermaid is in cinemas now. Check out more of our coverage below:

Review | Cast and characters | Soundtrack | Ending explained | When is The Little Mermaid remake on Disney Plus?