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This article focuses on the Enchanted Forest character, Ariel.
For her Wish Realm counterpart, see Ariel (Wish Realm).
For the Season Three episode, see "Ariel (Episode)".
For the fairy tale, see "The Little Mermaid (Fairytale)".
For the film, see "The Little Mermaid (Film)".

You come from a world that's all water. And here you are, in the desert, being so incredibly strong. You deserve whatever your heart is set on.

Jasmine to Ariel 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 and is portrayed by guest star JoAnna Garcia Swisher. She is the main reality version of Ariel (Wish Realm).

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")

Somehow, Ariel finds a necklace that returns her legs and voice to her as long as she is wearing it. Now capable of speaking again, Ariel sets off to Agrabah to find Eric, but accidentally gets herself in trouble when she takes a fork, unaware that it is stealing. She is pursued through the Agrabahn capital and cornered by the owner of the fork, who grabs her necklace as payment, which causes Ariel's legs to revert to a mermaid tail. The man is shocked by her transformation and begins to call her a monster, but is stopped by the arrival of Princess Jasmine, who pays for the fork and demands the return of Ariel's necklace. When she gives it back to Ariel, the mermaid explains its powers briefly and why she's in Agrabah. Jasmine, who is faced with the possible destruction of her kingdom by the evil sorcerer Jafar, asks if Eric has an army and, upon learning that he does indeed have a navy, offers to help Ariel find him by using a magic carpet. On the carpet, Ariel locates Eric's flag using a spyglass and guides Jasmine to him. Once they arrive at his tents, Ariel nervously considers out loud that Eric will not remember her, but Jasmine assures her that it is true love. When she enters the tent, she admits to Eric that he is a mermaid. He happily accepts her, but then, teasingly states that he loves mermaids cooked before transforming into Jafar and taunting Jasmine for her futile attempts to stop him. As he gives Jasmine the last few minutes before sunset to give up on her hopes of defeating him, Ariel snatches a bottle of dust which she assumes is magical. As Jasmine begins to, indeed, lose hope, Ariel offers the dust as an alternative strategy. However, when Jafar appears from the tent, he teleports Ariel back to the sea before she can do anything to help Jasmine. ("A Wondrous Place")

At some point after this, Ariel loses her necklace, therefore turning back to her old state where she cannot speak. ("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 red-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 separated 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 for Eric's disappearance, and tracks him down outside a tavern. 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 actually the one in possession of the Jolly Roger. With Hook and his crew mate, Smee, she joins them to hunt down the ship. Ariel recalls hearing about Hook heroically 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 coldly asserts he'll always be a pirate. While he distracts Black Beard with a sword duel, Ariel and Smee sneak aboard to search for Eric. Upon not locating 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 slaps Hook and proclaims he is just a coward who will never find love or be happy, before diving into the ocean to continue searching on her own. Without Hook noticing, Ariel saves Black Beard from death in order to obtain information about Eric's whereabouts on 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
When Queen Elsa of Arendelle punishes Black Beard and his crew aboard the Jolly Roger for conspiring against her family by shrinking them into a bottle, Ariel is accidentally caught up in this magic and ends up trapped inside as well. After Ursula brings 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 is knocked out by Ursula and thrown into the sea, but Ariel saves him in time by pulling him onto the ship. While Hook is still disheveled, Ariel snaps him into consciousness and then slaps him as penance for previously tossing Black Beard overboard back in the Enchanted Forest. 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 brings him to Storybrooke so he can reconcile with his daughter. ("Poor Unfortunate Soul")

After Third Curse
After this, Ariel returns to Hangman's Island. Awhile later, she enters her hut to discover Hook, Jasmine, and Aladdin have broken in and triggered one of her set traps. She is pleased to see Hook and Jasmine again and soon also becomes acquainted with Aladdin. After learning that they were led to her hut while tracking Jafar, she brings out a lamp which she believes to be Agrabahn. Jasmine takes the lamp and, assured by the presence of Ariel, Hook, and Aladdin, who she believes to be heroes, prepares to face her fears and Jafar. However, when Jafar emerges, he is easily able to break the genie curse, much to Ariel's surprise, and proceeds to freeze Ariel, Aladdin, and Hook in place, before he faces Jasmine alone. After Jasmine has used magical dust to transform Jafar into a staff, the trio are freed from the sorcerer's magic and regain mobility. Jasmine then reveals that Agrabah is inside the ring she has been wearing and she now knows how to bring it back with true love's kiss, and proceeds to kiss Aladdin, magically transporting Agrabah back to its proper place and the four heroes with it. Now that the ring no longer contains the kingdom, Ariel asks for permission to keep it as a trinket. Afterward, Hook asks Ariel if she can get back home and she states that she will be able to use her mermaid powers by swimming in the nearby Agrabah Gulf. Realizing that she can help with Hook's problem of being separated from Emma, the redhead offers a magic conch shell that Hook can use to communicate into as long as there's someone on the other end. Hook begins to speak into it, telling Emma the truth of what happened, though he is unsure if she is on the other end. ("A Wondrous Place")

Magical Abilities


Character Notes

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.[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]
  • Adam Horowitz describes Ariel as "Adventurous. Spitfire. Romantic."[5]
  • 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.[6]


  • Ariel's name comes from the Disney animated movie The Little Mermaid, since in the original fairytale, the character is unnamed. ("Ariel")
  • Ariel's distinctive look, with the red hair, bluish-green tail, and lavender bikini top, is based on the Disney film. ("Ariel" et al.)
  • In the title card of "Ariel", Ariel is sitting on a rock,[2] similar to how Disney's Ariel sits on a rock in the movie during the musical number "Part of Your World".
  • Ariel likes to collect random human objects, just like in the Disney film. ("Ariel" et al)
  • Ariel keeps the human objects she collects, in a bag, just like in the Disney film. ("Ariel")
  • Ariel learns what a fork is. ("Ariel")
  • Both Ariel and Prince Eric mention a ship wreck where they first met (in the fairytale, the prince is completely unconscious when the little mermaid rescues him and unlike Eric, he does not remember the incident afterward). ("Ariel")
  • While in the Mr. Gold's shop, Ariel says, "Look at this stuff", which are the first words to the Disney song "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid. ("Dark Hollow")
  • Ariel is fascinated by a corkscrew she finds in Mr. Gold's pawnshop. In the animated movie, the character has a box full of corkscrews. ("Dark Hollow")
    • Later, she has a collection of corkscrews in her cottage. ("A Wondrous Place")
  • On two occasions, Hook opens his eyes and sees the face of Ariel, which is reminiscent of the scene in The Little Mermaid, where Eric opens his eyes and sees Ariel's blurred face after she rescues him from drowning. ("The Jolly Roger", "Poor Unfortunate Soul")
  • When Emma sees Ariel and Eric through the mirror, they reenact the beach scene from the Disney film. ("The Jolly Roger")

Props Notes

  • Ariel carries a blue/purple/bluish-green purse with a fish scale/seaweed design,[7] fitting for a mermaid. ("Ariel", "Dark Hollow")

Set Dressing

Costume Notes

Other Notes


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

See also


  1. Mitovich, Matt Webb (August 29, 2013). Matt's Inside Line: Scoop on' NCIS: LA, Once, Covert Affairs, Five-0, Big Bang, Haven and More!. TVLine. “Is there any way that Once Upon a Time's Ariel and Regina already met? Assuming that the "certain mermaid" Regina referred to in Episode 1×12, "Skin Deep," was Ariel? –Mirza I suspect you are onto something, though cocreator Adam Horowitz will only say that "we might" flash back to that aforementioned encounter during JoAnna Garcia's turn as the Little Mermaid.”
  2. 2.0 2.1 File:306Title.png
  3. Mullins, Jenna (November 21, 2011). Once Upon a Time Courting Joanna Garcia, and We Totally Called It!. E! News. “"They are after Joanna Garcia for one of the roles, which would be amazing," Morrison reveals. And while she wouldn't say which character they want for Garcia, we hear that OUAT is pursuing a storyline for Ariel from The Little Mermaid, so let's just put two and two together, shall we?”
  4. File:SDCC Little Mermaid Promo
  5. Mitovich, Matt Webb (September 5, 2013). Matt's Inside Line: Scoop on Burn Notice, Arrow, Bones, Revolution, Grimm, H50, Once and More. TVLine. “Now that Once Upon a Time has cast both Ariel and Eric, can you give us anything new on what their story might be? – Jacquelyn I already slapped my theory onto the news story announcing Eric's casting, but I can add this: Series cocreator Adam Horowitz, when asked to describe Once's Ariel in three words, effectively evokes her classic characterization: "Adventurous. Spitfire. Romantic."”
  6. "The Tale of Ariel". The Complete Third Season. Once Upon a Time. ABC.
  7. File:306ArielTransforms.png
  8. File:419ThanYouThink.png
  9. File:615ThisManyCorkscrews.png
  10. 10.0 10.1 File:615Ariel.png
  11. File:615Ariel2.png
  12. File:615Ariel2.png
  13. File:615LairForSure.png
  14. File:615WhomeverSummonsHim.png
  15. ONCE UPON A TIME. Medicina. Retrieved on October 21, 2018. “ARIEL the LITTLE MERMAID. I was so excited to be given the honor to make an accessory for another beloved character from Disney – Ariel the Little Mermaid! I made her magical bracelet that could give her human legs to walk amongst the humans. This bracelet was shared with Snow White who was able to become a mermaid momentarily on the show!”
  16. File:615TakeMyPayment.png
  17. Good Morning Storybrooke (Nova & Grumpy / Dr Whale / Belle / Ruby). YouTube (August 13, 2013).
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