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This article focuses on the Enchanted Forest character, Ariel. For the Season Three episode, see
Ariel (Episode). For the fairy tale, see The Little Mermaid (Fairytale).

I'm not afraid of you or your gun. And not just because I don't know what it is.
—Ariel to John and Michael src

Ariel, also known as the Little Mermaid, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. She débuts in the sixth episode of the third season. She is portrayed by guest star JoAnna Garcia Swisher, and does not have a Storybrooke counterpart.

Ariel is based on the titular character from the fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid"; and the character of the same name from the Disney film The Little Mermaid.


Before First Curse

In the Enchanted Forest, Ariel witnesses a shipwreck at sea and saves a human, Prince Eric, from succumbing to death. After bringing the unconscious man to safety, she falls deeply in love with him, but leaves before he wakes up. ("Ariel")

A year later, she collects a paper announcing the upcoming Under the Sea Celebration paying tribute to the sea goddess Ursula. With a mythical truth, which states every year when the high tide rises, Ursula grants merpeople the ability to walk on dry land until the next one occurs, Ariel decides to meet Prince Eric. On her way there, she saves Snow White from drowning. At shore, Ariel tells her about Eric and demonstrates how she will be meeting him by transforming her tail into human legs. The two ladies attend the ball together where Snow White helps Ariel learn the name of a fork utensil. Ever curious about human things, Ariel stuffs it into her gown pocket. When Eric strolls in, Ariel is too shy to go to him until Snow White pushes her. As they waltz, he recognizes her as the person who saved him from the shipwreck, but Ariel lies that she is new in town. She expresses interest in seeing the world, so he invites her to leave with him in the morning on an adventurous expedition and promises to wait until tomorrow for an answer. Ariel relates her dilemma to Snow White, who encourages her to honest to Eric about her true self. Going to Ursula for guidance, Ariel talks to the ocean waves, and she begins leaving after receiving no response, until the sea goddess rises to offer her a magic bracelet. The item can make her human permanently, but only if someone else takes her place as mermaid. Naively, Ariel sees the bracelet as a way for both herself and Snow White to both get what they want. She clasps the bracelet on Snow White, to which Ursula, actually the Evil Queen, interrupts. The Evil Queen then prompts Ariel to choose Eric or lose her life for a friend's sake. Ariel departs, but returns to stab the Evil Queen in the neck with a fork. Then, Ariel rips off the bracelet from Snow White's wrist, reversing the effects on both of them, and they swim to safety. With her friend's encouragement, Ariel resurfaces at the docks, spotting Eric on the balcony above, but when she calls out to him, her voice is gone. Nearby, the Evil Queen unceremoniously informs Ariel that she stole her voice. She remarks the only thing worse than rejection from Prince Eric is Ariel's inability to ever confess her feelings for him. In tears, a muted Ariel heads under the sea. ("Ariel")

After First Curse

Twenty-nine years later, Ariel hears someone calling her through a conch shell and emerges to the surface in Neverland. Disdainfully, she notices Regina is the one who summoned her. In order to receive Ariel's help in procuring a powerful weapon from Mr. Gold's shop to stop Peter Pan, Regina returns her voice. Still, Ariel harbors a grudge, so Regina presents her with the same magic bracelet from the past, only this time it will allow the wearer to have the ability to gain human legs as well as control over the transformation. After being told Eric is also in this other land, Ariel agrees to retrieve the item for Regina in a place called Storybrooke("Ariel")

Along with instructions for the route to Storybrooke, Mr. Gold also gives Ariel an enchanted sand dollar, which she needs to give to Belle and find the item. Before going, Ariel asks about Eric, but Regina decides not to tell her where he is until after she has accomplished the mission. Additionally, the bracelet will only give her legs for twenty-four hours. Arriving to Storybrooke's coast, Ariel attracts the attention of Leroy and the six dwarves before she walks on land and turns human. Leroy, giving her a jacket to cover up, leads her to Belle at the diner. Eyeing the redhead's lack of clothing, Granny chides her that she'll not be given diner service for her improper attire, though Leroy defends Ariel. After handing the sand dollar to Belle, Ariel goes with her to the pawnshop, where she receives new clothes. While studying the sand dollar, Belle triggers a projection of Mr. Gold, who implies she can find the mystery object with "the strength of their love". As they search the store, Ariel finds a button she believes is Eric's. Soon, Belle figures out Mr. Gold's riddle by taking out the chipped cup and placing it in the cabinet; unveiling a hidden floor containing Pandora's Box. Shortly after, they are held hostage by John and Michael, whose sole mission is to destroy the box on Pan's orders. After their captors leave, Belle rips off Ariel's bracelet so she can revert to mermaid form and wriggle out of the binds. Then, they rush to the mines and stop John and Michael from smashing the box. Once Belle retrieves the box, the men beg her not to help Mr. Gold, and they eventually confess to assisting Pan because he has their sister, Wendy. Belle promises the box will aid in Wendy's release, to which they agree to not interfere. Later, Ariel returns to Neverland and gives the box to Mr. Gold. As a reward, Regina enchants the bracelet to allow Ariel to have control over her human form. Before going to find Eric in Storybrooke, Ariel convinces them to save Wendy. ("Dark Hollow")

Ariel goes back to Storybrooke and with Belle's help, they track down Eric at the dock, where he works as fisherman. In alarm, the read head wonders if his profession for chopping up fish means that he hates her. When she finally works up the courage to go to him, he is happy to see her and pulls her into a passionate kiss. They reunite just as a flying ship descends from the sky carrying various townspeople. As Mary Margaret comes down from the ship, she is pleased to see Ariel and Eric are now together after such a long separation. ("The New Neverland")

Before Second Curse
After Regina takes preventive measures to undo Pan's curse, all the inhabitants of Storybrooke paid the price by returning to the Enchanted Forest. However, Ariel finds herself apart from Prince Eric, who has been kidnapped onto a ship called the Jolly Roger. She gains the blade of the ship's captain, believing Hook is to blame, and tracks him down. While she is interrogating him, Hook notices the weapon has an engraving of two letters "BB", which stand for Black Beard; a notorious pirate, who now possesses the Jolly Roger. With him and his crew mate, Smee, she goes to hunt down the ship. Ariel recalls hearing about Hook's heroic deed of rescuing Emma and her family from Neverland, but he balks at being called a "hero". She believes people can change for the better, though Hook says he'll always be a pirate. While he distracts Black Beard with a sword duel, Ariel and Smee sneak aboard to search for Eric. Unable to locate her beloved, she interrupts the fight, to which Black Beard promises to hand over Eric only if Hook gives up trying to reclaim the ship. She pleads for Hook's help, but he claims to be saving her from the never-ending torture of always searching for her loved one, and then drowns Black Beard in the sea. Furious, Ariel attests that Hook is just a coward who will never find love or be happy, and she dives into the ocean to continue searching on her own. Without Hook's notice, Ariel saves Black Beard from death in order to obtain information about Eric's location, Hangman's Island. ("The Jolly Roger", "Fall", "Poor Unfortunate Soul")

During Second Curse
Eventually, Ariel reaches Hangman's Island where she and Eric reunite and live together happily. ("The Jolly Roger")

After Second Curse
Capturing Black Beard and his crew aboard the Jolly Roger, Queen Elsa of Arendelle punishes them for conspiring against her family by shrinking them and the ship into a bottle. Swept away by Elsa's magic, Ariel ends up trapped inside the bottle as well. After Ursula hauls the ship from the Enchanted Forest to Storybrooke, the Jolly Roger regains its normal size with the help of some magic, which frees Ariel from her prison. Hook, knocked out by Ursula, is thrown into the sea, but Ariel saves him in time. Below deck, the redhead snaps the disheveled pirate into consciousness and then slaps him as penance for previously tossing Black Beard overboard. Ariel explains the circumstances that led to Elsa penalizing Black Beard and how she herself got trapped in the bottle due to it. After expressing gratitude towards Hook for freeing her, she asks about his prior dispute with Ursula. Hook admits he was too focused on his own ambitions and couldn't hold up his end of the bargain with Ursula. When he considers Ursula is right about villains not having happy endings, Ariel reasons that villains always use wrong methods to obtain them. She later helps contact Ursula's father, Poseidon, and bring him to Storybrooke so he can reconcile with his daughter. ("Poor Unfortunate Soul")

Magical Abilities


Character Notes

  • Ariel is featured in the title card for "Ariel"[3].
  • Ariel is alluded to in the Season Two DVD extra, "Good Morning Storybrooke", when Eric writes a letter to Dr. Whale saying, "Dear Doctor, I recently found out that my girlfriend is a mermaid. My problem—I'm a leg man. Can we ever be happy?"[4]

Production Notes

  • Ariel was already rumored to be introduced back in Season One. At that time, producers were after JoAnna Garcia Swisher to guest star during the season.[5]
  • Ariel was first announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con with a teaser featuring her stealing a fork from Leroy's lunchbox.[6]
  • Adam Horowitz describes Ariel as "Adventurous. Spitfire. Romantic."[7]
  • Despite playing the role of a mermaid, JoAnna cannot swim in real life. Her stunt double was used to do the scenes where Ariel is swimming.[8]


Costume Notes


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


Start a Discussion Discussions about Ariel (Character)

  • Spoilers for 4.B

    560 messages
  • Under the Sea Family Tree

    3 messages
    • Honestly, I don't think we know for certain how this is all going to play out. We know we have Ursula, and we are getting Posiedon. I h...
    • Both the Broadway musical and original draft of Disney's the little mermaid have Ursula being Ariel's aunt/ Triton's sister

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