After much discussion, the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid is finally heading to the big screens. One of 2023’s most anticipated films sees the return of beloved characters first introduced in the 1989 Disney classic. However, producers have taken a different path than shown in the animated film, including regarding the end of Ariel’s journey. Here is the ending of The Little Mermaid explained.
How does The Little Mermaid 2023 end?
After defeating Ursule, Ariel is transformed into a human being by the magical power of King Triton’s trident to enjoy her life with Eric.
Unlike the Disney classic, there’s no wedding scene in the live-action adaptation, providing a modern take on Ariel and Eric’s relationship.
The final scene of The Little Mermaid directed by Rob Marshall features a heartbreaking farewell between King Triton (Javier Bardem) and Ariel (Halle Bailey). In front of all the inhabitants of Atlantica – who have broken the taboo of remaining all their lives under water and have resurfaced for the occasion – King Triton finally understands that he must let Ariel follow his own path. Father and daughter embrace, 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 written by Hans Christian Andersen. In the 1837 fairy tale, the prince finds himself with another woman, while The Little Mermaid, blinded by jealousy, plans to kill him in his sleep. After a sudden reversal, the Little Mermaid chooses not to become a murderer, returns to the sea, and her body dissolves into foam.
Disney reinterpreted this ending in 1989, turning it into a more modern, family-friendly finale. In 2023’s The Little Mermaid, the producers once again attempt to cater to ever-changing audience tastes, showing a more independent Ariel, who doesn’t necessarily tie her future to Eric by marriage.