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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Merman AU, Mermaid AU, Merfolk
Related tropes/genresAnimal Transformation, Interspecies, Selkie, Tentacles, Xeno
Related articles on Fanlore.

Turning a character into a merperson is an AU trope in both fanfic and fanart. It can be done for humorous crack or for serious angst (i.e. based on the Hans Christian Andersen story).

Like in the fairy tale, often only one character is a mermaid/merman, so different habitat and the fish-like lower body present compatibility challenges, as illustrated in the fanart by Leslie Fish in the gallery below (which is not for a merpeople AU, but Kirk with a mermaid alien, and part of a portfolio illustrating the interspecies mating in general).

Fusions with The Little Mermaid or other mermaid canons are a variation of Merpeople AUs.

MerMay is a merfolk-themed challenge held each year in May, which leads to the creation of many mermaid AU fanworks, including art, fics, and gifsets.

In cosplay, fans may cosplay canon mermaids or (less often) cosplay non-mermaid characters as mermaids.

Mermaid-focused conventions exist, such as MerMagic Con.[1]


Merpeople have different versions and representations. For example, in some AU they are depicted with human, semi-human, or shapeshifter forms.

In these AU can shift between their half-fish form and a fully human form (either voluntarily or involuntarily); in others, their aquatic features are permanent.

Many mer-characters have designs inspired by specific types of fish, such as clownfish, deep-sea anglerfish, or sharks. Others are not part-fish at all, with their lower halves being those of cetaceans or sea jellies. "Cecaelia" is a neologism describing merpeople with octopus-like tentacles.


The Professionals


Prince of Tennis

Harry Potter

Stargate Atlantis

Star Trek

Hawaii Five-0


  • Merpeople fanworks are popular in the Free! fandom because the show is about a swim team.

One Direction

Marvel Cinematic Universe


Puella Magi Madoka Magica

  • Fanart and AUs where Sayaka Miki is a mermaid are common in the fandom, due to the character's water motif and in-universe analogies to The Little Mermaid.

Art Gallery