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Smee: That voice, captain. What was it?
Hook: The most dangerous creature in all the seas: a mermaid.
Hook and William Smee src

Mermaids are a humanoid species featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. They are native to Enchanted Forest and Neverland, and first appear in the first episode of the third season.

Mermaids are based on the species of the same name from the Peter Pan novel and Disney film, but also from the "Little Mermaid" fairytale and Disney film.

Biology and Culture

Mermaids are aquatic creatures with the head and upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. They are able to breathe air while out of water. Mermaids are known for their hypnotic, powerful singing voice, which can lure ships to their death. Hook describes them as "the most dangerous creature in all the seas", and worse than a kraken. ("The Heart of the Truest Believer" et al., "Poor Unfortunate Soul)

Every year when the high tide rises, the sea goddess Ursula grants merpeople the ability to walk on dry land with human legs, until the next tide occurs. Mermaids have the ability to cross worlds, and to open portals and bring objects from one world to another. In some occasions, they are able to take other people through their portals. They can be summoned by conch shells. ("Ariel", "Dark Hollow", "Poor Unfortunate Soul", "A Wondrous Place")

Ursula, who was a Mermaid before being transformed into a Cecaelia, is the daughter of Poseidon, who is a Deity; indicating that merpeople can interbreed with Deities. ("Poor Unfortunate Soul")

Little is known about Mermaid culture. According to Hook, mermaids can't be trusted because they are liars. Mr. Gold has also stated that mermaids can't be trusted. They stay in touch with each other beneath the sea by using conch shells. ("The Heart of the Truest Believer", "Ariel", "Strange Case")

History

Before First Curse

In the Enchanted Forest, Poseidon tells his mermaid daughter Ursula to enchant sailors with her singing voice and lure them to their deaths. When the Jolly Roger passes through, she does as her father asked but stops at the last minute, freeing the men from their trance and allowing them to sail away, but the ship's captain, Hook, remarks that mermaids are "the most dangerous creature in all the seas." No longer wanting to do her father's bidding, Ursula runs away with plans to reach Glowerhaven, a trip made simpler when she is recognized by Hook, who offers to take her wherever she wanted. Poseidon later visits Hook and entices him with squid ink, something that could paralyze Rumplestiltskin, in exchange for taking away Ursula's singing voice with an enchanted shell. Hook decides to tell Ursula about it, who then steals the ink for him instead, only to be taken away by Poseidon. An angered Hook proceeds to trap Ursula's voice in the shell as retaliation against Poseidon. Shattered at this betrayal, Ursula decides she no longer wants to be a mermaid and uses her father's trident to transform her tail into tentacles. ("Poor Unfortunate Soul")

A long time after, a mermaid named Ariel pulls a man, Prince Eric, to safety after he nearly drowns from a shipwreck. Despite falling in love at first sight, she leaves before he wakes up. ("Ariel")

A year later, Ariel hears of the upcoming the upcoming the Under the Sea Celebration in honor of the legendary sea goddess Ursula. She attends in the hopes of meeting Eric with the help of a myth, which states that at the rising the high tide until the next one occurs, merpeople have the ability to walk on dry land. After saving Snow White's life, Ariel and her new friend head to the party. At the Ball, Eric waltzes with Ariel and invites her to join him tomorrow for a travelling expedition. While she discusses the matter with Snow White, the Queen spies on them through a mirror. Upon discovering the mermaid desires to be with Eric, the Queen impersonates Ursula and tempts Ariel with a magic bracelet that will allow her to stay human. As a price, whoever wears the bracelet will take her place as a mermaid. In a misguided attempt to help Snow White escape the Queen, Ariel clasps the bracelet on her so the ex-princess can live under the sea. After learning of the deception, Ariel stabs the Queen in the neck and flees with Snow White. In mermaid form, Ariel swims to meet Eric at the castle balcony, but she is silenced due to her voice being stolen by the Queen. Thus, Eric leaves without noticing her. ("Ariel")

At another time, the Evil Queen goes to Rumplestiltskin's castle to discuss with him a deal with a particular mermaid. The conversation is cut off when Rumplestiltskin asks her to leave, to which she does. ("Skin Deep")

After First Curse

Using a magic bean, David, Emma, Hook, Mary Margaret and Mr. Gold travel aboard the Jolly Roger to rescue Henry. As they sail towards the island of Neverland, Mr. Gold mysteriously parts from their group and the ship is soon under attack by a school of mermaids. Regina scares off the horde with fire magic while Emma and Mary Margaret catch a mermaid on a fishing line. Once the creature is pulled onto the deck, an argument ensues about what to do with it. While they are distracted, the mermaid blows into a conch shell. In doing so, she causes an incoming storm, which gradually worsens due to the growing tensions between the ship's party members. Much later, Emma discovers the real reason for the storm, and risks her life to push the group into working together; thus helping to calm the sea. ("The Heart of the Truest Believer")

Fed up with Emma's decision to investigate Pan's claims that Neal is alive, Regina separates herself from the group and finds Mr. Gold in the jungle. After shaking some sense into him, they team up to fight against Pan. Mr. Gold mentions there might be a way to contain Pan, but alas, the weapon is back in Storybrooke. To find a way to retrieve the item, they go to the riverside where Regina uses a conch shell to summon the mermaid Ariel. As Ariel has the capability to swim between worlds, Regina wants her to go to Storybrooke and bring the weapon to them. To placate the mermaid, she returns Ariel's lost voice. Regina also promises if Ariel goes to Storybrooke, she will find Eric. ("Ariel")

Swimming into Storybrooke, Ariel gains Belle's assistance in finding Pandora's Box, which can help Mr. Gold defeat Pan. They are sidetracked by Pan's minions, John and Michael Darling, who attempt to destroy the box. Later, the two brothers admit they are only following Pan's orders because he is holding their sister, Wendy, prisoner. Belle convinces them that Mr. Gold is their only hope of saving Wendy, which they agree with. Ariel returns to Neverland to deliver the box where she begs Mr. Gold and Regina to rescue the Darlings' sister. Afterwards, she returns to Storybrooke and reunites with Eric at the dock. ("Dark Hollow", "The New Neverland")

Before Second Curse
Once Regina stops Pan's curse, all the residents of Storybrooke, excluding Emma and Henry, are sent back to the Enchanted Forest. While searching for her beloved Eric, Ariel learns he has been kidnapped by a pirate captain of the Jolly Roger. Believing Hook is the culprit, she confronts him and discovers the ship was previously taken by another pirate named Black Beard. After much searching aboard, Eric is nowhere to be seen. As a trade, Black Beard vows to return Eric if Hook gives up trying to reclaim the ship. Coldly, Hook refuses, throwing Black Beard to the sharks, as he believes Ariel shouldn't waste her time looking for a lost loved one. Angrily, Ariel leaves to continue the search alone, and eventually finds Eric on Hangman's Island. ("The Jolly Roger")

During Second Curse
In order to weaken Emma's light magic, the villainous Zelena disguises herself as Ariel; knowing of the mermaid's prior run-in with Hook, in which he refused to help find Eric. Fabricating Eric's death, "Ariel" mourns the loss as a guilty Hook confesses what he did a year ago in the Enchanted Forest. As proof he still believes in love, she asks him to swear on the name of the woman who broke his heart. No sooner than the words "Emma Swan" come out of Hook's mouth, Zelena curses his lips; ordering him to kiss the savior and strip her of light magic. ("The Jolly Roger")

Known Mermaids

Trivia

Set Dressing

  • There is a merman's trident on display in Rumplestiltskin's castle.[1] ("Skin Deep")
  • According to the poster in his Oz workroom, one of the freak show acts in the Wizard's circus is the Feejee mermaid.[2] The Feejee mermaid was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish. During the 1800s, it was a common feature of sideshows, where it was presented as a version of a mermaid. ("It's Not Easy Being Green" et al.)
  • On Lily's billboard, there is a photograph of a merman's trident.[3] ("Lily")

Costume Notes

  • The crowns worn by the mermaids in Neverland were made by Vancouver-based accessories designer Medicina Designs. The lead mermaid's crown was made with wood pieces hand-carved in Bali and a metal base, scalloped metal discs, real sea-shells, freshwater pearls, real crystals, semi-precious gemstones, and a starfish. Detachable strands of beads dangled from the sides of the crown to accent the mermaid's hair. An identical crown was created for the lead mermaid's stunt double. Three more crowns were created for the rest of the mermaids, but they do not show up on-screen.[4] ("The Heart of the Truest Believer")

Appearances

Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

See Also

References


Start a Discussion Discussions about Mermaids

  • Mermaid Magic

    6 messages
    • Plus a mermaid in season 3 used a shell to manifest a storm with gets worse the angrier you get. That defo seems like more mermaid magic. I th...
    • I don't know about it's own page, but it should definitly be mentioned in the magic article.
  • Mermaid magic?

    19 messages
    • I dont actually think Mermaids have any specifically individual magic with the exception of creating portals between worlds and their voices. T...
    • i don't think it's necessarily true that Poseidon doesn't have the abiltiy to make portals (though I could see an argument that ...