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Ariel (Character)

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This article focuses on the Enchanted Forest character, Ariel. For the Season Three episode, see
Ariel (Episode). For the fairytale, see The Little Mermaid.
Enchanted Forest Character
Biographical Information
Status: Alive
Home: The Ocean (formerly)
Hangman's Island
Affiliation: Hero
Physical Description
Species: Mermaid
Human (briefly)
Gender: Female
Hair color: Red
Eye color: Hazel
Current Allies:
Show Information
Portrayed by: JoAnna Garcia Swisher
First mentioned: "Skin Deep[1]"
First appearance: "Ariel"
Latest appearance: "The Jolly Roger"
Latest mention: "Fall"
Next appearance: "Poor Unfortunate Soul[2]"
Relevant Pages

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 Little Mermaid from the fairytale, "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 piece of paper announcing the upcoming Under the Sea royal celebration held to pay tribute to the sea goddess Ursula. Ariel plans to use 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, in order to meet Prince Eric. On her way there, she saves a woman named Snow White from drowning. At shore, Ariel confesses her feelings for Eric and demonstrates how she will be meeting him at the ball 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 as a collection item. As Eric strolls in, Ariel catches his eye, but is too shy to go to him until Snow White pushes her. The two begin a waltz dance when he recognizes her as the person who saved his life from the shipwreck. Ariel denies it was her; maintaining that she is new in town. Instead, he imagines Ursula saved his life and sent him Ariel. When she expresses interest in seeing the world, he invites her to leave with him in the morning on an adventurous expedition and promises to wait until tomorrow for an answer. After the dance ends, Ariel in a dilemma over making Eric choose between his dream of travelling or giving it up all for her. Snow White encourages her to be honest with Eric about who she really is, but Ariel is too afraid of rejection. She takes more time to think over her decision and even goes to the sea for guidance from Ursula. Ariel is stunned to see Ursula rise out from under the surface and offer her a magic bracelet to remain human permanently, however, someone else must take the form of a mermaid in her place.

Naively, Ariel trusts Ursula and sees the bracelet as a way for both herself and Snow White to both get what they want. She runs back to clasp the bracelet on Snow White, to which Ursula, actually the Evil Queen, interrupts. Only then, Ariel realizes she has been tricked and given the choice to go to Eric or lose her own life for the sake of a friend. She pretends to leave, 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 jump into the ocean to swim away. After Snow White is safe, Ariel is urged by her to chase down Eric. Happily, Ariel goes off and 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 back to the sea. ("Ariel")

After First Curse

Twenty-nine years later, Ariel hears someone calling her through a 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")

Ariel is given instructions by Mr. Gold for the route to Storybrooke. He thinks it's too dangerous to directly tell her what the item is, lest Pan overhears, so he enchants a sand dollar for her to take to a person named Belle. Additionally, Regina decides to hold off on telling Ariel the whereabouts of Eric until after she accomplishes the mission, and stresses the bracelet will only give her legs for twenty-four hours. Ariel arrives at the coast of Storybrooke and grabs the attention of Leroy and six dwarves. After turning into human, she approaches Leroy to ask where to find Belle. Leroy gives her a jacket to cover herself up with and brings her to the town diner to meet Belle. Behind the counter, Granny chides her for not wearing the proper attire for receiving diner service, though Leroy defends Ariel. She hands over the sand dollar to Belle and the two go to the pawnshop. While Ariel is changing into a fresh set of clothes, Belle accidentally activates the sand dollar to project an image of Mr. Gold along with a hint that she can find the item with "the strength of their love". As the search around the store, Ariel happily finds a button that suspiciously looks identical to the same one Eric had. Soon, Belle figures out Mr. Gold's riddle by taking out the chipped cup and places it back in the cabinet, unveiling a hiding spot on the floor behind the counter. From opening it, they find Pandora's Box, which Belle states is rumored to contain the world's darkest evil.

Shortly after, the two are held hostage by John and Michael whose sole mission is to get rid of the box on Pan's orders. Following this, Belle helps Ariel to take off the bracelet so she can transform into a mermaid and wriggle out of the rope binds. Once freed, they hurry to the mines to stop John and Michael, who are then knocked away from the box after Belle switches on a mine cart. Belle steals the box back as the two men begin pleading for her not to help Mr. Gold, and eventually they fess up to helping Pan only because he is keeping their sister Wendy captive in Neverland. Belle promises the box is the key to stopping Pan for good and bringing Wendy back safe and sound, to which they agree. Ariel goes back to Neverland with the box and delivers it to Mr. Gold. Regina praises her for success in the mission and uses magic on the bracelet to allow Ariel control over being human. Before she goes back to Storybrooke to find Eric, Ariel convinces them they must save Wendy. ("Dark Hollow")

She goes back to Storybrooke and with Belle's help, they track down Eric at the dock where he works as fisherman. Ariel is hesitant to approach at first, and 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 beyond words 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. ("The Jolly Roger", "Fall")

During Second Curse

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


  • The name "Ariel" originates from the Disney animated version of the fairytale. In the original story, she is simply known as the "little mermaid".
  • The name "Ariel" is of Hebrew origin that means "lion of God".[3]
  • Ariel was first announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con with a teaser featuring her stealing a fork from Leroy's lunchbox.[4]
  • Described by Adam Horowitz as, “Adventurous. Spitfire. Romantic.”[5]
  • 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?"[6]


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


Start a Discussion Discussions about Ariel (Character)

  • Spoilers for 4.B

    240 messages
    • DarKingdomHearts wrote:I would like to see her back in 4B for maybe 1,2 episodes in which she isn't just that girl in the distance but actua...
    • Edward Zachary Sunrose wrote:DarKingdomHearts wrote:I would like to see her back in 4B for maybe 1,2 episodes in which she isn't just that girl...
  • 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 have ...
    • 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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