After much talk, the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid is finally heading to the big screens. One of the most-anticipated movies in 2023 sees the return of the beloved characters first introduced in the 1989 Disney classic. However, producers have taken a different route than the one shown in the animated movie, especially regarding the end of Ariel’s journey. Here’s The Little Mermaid ending explained.
How does The Little Mermaid 2023 end?
After defeating Ursula, Ariel is transformed into a human being by the magic power of King Triton’s trident to enjoy her life with Eric.
Unlike in the Disney classic, there is no wedding scene in the live-action adaptation, offering a modern take on Ariel and Eric’s relationship.
The last scene in the Rob Marshall-directed The Little Mermaid features a heartbreaking farewell between King Triton (Javier Bardem) and Ariel (Halle Bailey). In front of all the Atlantica inhabitants — who broke the tabu of staying all their lives underwater and resurfaced for the occasion — King Triton finally understands he has to let Ariel go on her own path. Father and daughter hug, and Ariel heads with Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) to a ship, destination unknown.
Both the Disney classic and the live-action adaptation have a different ending than the one originally penned by Hans Christian Andersen. In the 1837 fairy tale, the prince ends up with another woman, while The Little Mermaid, blinded by jealousy, plans to kill him in his sleep. After a sudden change of heart, The Little Mermaid opts not to become a murderer, returns to the sea, and her body dissolves into foam.
Disney reinterpreted that ending in 1989, transforming it into a more modern, family-friendly finale. In 2023’s The Little Mermaid, producers once more attempt to meet the ever-changing audience’s taste, showing a more independent Ariel, who doesn’t necessarily bind her future to Eric by marriage.