The Little Mermaid

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Name: Disney's The Little Mermaid
Abbreviation(s): TLM
Creator: Hans Christian Andersen (original story), Walt Disney Pictures (Co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker)
Date(s): 1989-present
Medium: Animated feature films, animated television series, tie-in expansion materials (comics, audio cassettes, books)
Country of Origin: US
External Links: IMDB - Original film
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The Little Mermaid (TLM) is a 1989 Disney animated feature film based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale of the same name. The film spawned a fandom that has grown and is still active today.


The earliest forms of TLM fandom revolved solely around the original 1989 film. In 1992, a prequel television series called Disney's The Little Mermaid began airing. The series was acknowledged in the earliest TLM fansites, but the original film was given higher prominence.

In the year 2000, a direct-to-video sequel to the original film was released, titled The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. As this was about the time that the Internet was getting more exposure, newer TLM fansites began appearing, paying homage to the new movie.[1]

A (supposedly) final TLM film was released direct-to-DVD in 2008, titled The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning. As the fandom's online presence had been growing since the late 90s, there was plenty of speculation and anticipation for the third film; fans hoped that Ariel's mother (who until the third film had never been mentioned) would make an appearance and that there would be a proper explanation of Ursula (the villain of the original film)'s past. The first plot point was used in the film, with the introduction of Ariel's mother, Queen Athena; Ursula was not included in the third film at all. Ursula's absence was criticized by some fans throughout the online community.

The third TLM movie contradicts some events of the television series, which has lead to some fans choosing one form of canon over the other. These contradictions include a greatly-altered timeline of Ariel's childhood, a different first meeting between Ariel and Flounder, as well as a completely different interpretation of Ariel's older sisters.

Other canon points that have been debated by fans are:

  • Whether Ursula is half-squid or half-octopus. Ursula has only six tentacles, which would make her half-squid, but the argument is that if her arms are counted, she has a total of eight limbs, making her half-octopus.
  • Whether Ursula is Triton's sister or not. In an earlier draft of the original film, Ursula was supposed to be Triton's sister, but all mentions of this connection were removed from the final product. These draft materials were included in the 2006-released Platinum DVD. The Broadway version of the The Little Mermaid uses this familial connection, making Triton and Ursula siblings and equals.
  • Which part of the world Ariel's story is set in. Some argue that it is in Denmark, as that is the native country of Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote the original TLM fairytale.
  • Before the release of TLM: Ariel's Beginning, fans would debate on the probably physical appearance of Ariel's mother. Some argued that since Triton had red hair in his youth (as seen in the television series), this means that Ariel's mother has to have hair of another color, so it is probable that Ariel's sisters would have blonde hair (Arista and Andrina), brown hair (Aquata) and black hair (Alana and Adella). When the trailer for TLM: Ariel's Beginning was released, Queen Athena was revealed to have almost the exact coloring of Ariel, "debunking" these theories, though some fans maintain that Athena's coloring was a poor choice of the production team.


In the early 1990s, the fandom was mostly restricted to mailing lists, the most prominent of which was the Arielholics Anonymous mailing list, formed in 1993.[2] The term "Arielholic" was coined by Steve Liu, who used term in a tongue-in-cheek article about the TLM fandom in the rec.arts.disney newsgroup.[3] The original Arielholics list was an active discussion ground for TLM fans, but the mailing list has since moved to Yahoo! Groups.[4] The Arielholics group consists mostly of long-time TLM fans.

One of the main activities organized by the Arielholics is the annual Arielcon.[5]

From the early 2000s, the majority of internet-exploring TLM fans congregate at message boards, LiveJournal, and Myspace. One of the most prominent TLM communities is the Little Ariel Forum, which was formed as a spin-off of the Little Ariel fansite.[6] The Little Ariel fansite and forum were created by a member of the original Arielholics mailing list.

On LiveJournal, fans mainly post to the TLM community Part of That World.

In the online TLM communities, fans mostly discuss canon, exchange ideas for potential future canon, post TLM graphics and discuss the extensive TLM merchandise and expansion materials. TLM fanart and fanfic is relatively rare and not centralized.





Archives & Fannish Links







  1. ^ The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea gallery, archived copy on Wayback Machine (Accessed 26 July 2010)
  2. ^ Shadzane Arielholics Anonymous, published on 10 October 2000 (Accessed 29 September 2008)
  3. ^ Liu, Steve Are you an Arielholic? (Accessed 29 September 2008)
  4. ^ Arielholics Yahoogroup (Accessed 29 September 2008)
  5. ^ Dan's galleries of Arielcon photos, Dan's Arielholics Page (Accessed 29 September 2008)
  6. ^ Little Ariel Forum (Accessed 29 September 2008)