Prince Eric is the deuteragonist of The Little Mermaid, who also appears in its television series and sequel. The character is based on the "prince" character of Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Little Mermaid", but adapted by writer Roger Allers for Disney's film. The character was voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes in the original film and the Kingdom Hearts video games, by Jeff Bennett in the prequel television series, and by Rob Paulsen in the direct-to-video sequel. In the 2007 Broadway musical version, the role was portrayed by Sean Palmer.
Despite being of royalty, Eric is an accomplished mariner who is often seen partaking in various duties aboard ships in his own fleet. Eric is a skilled helmsman as he is seen steering ships in both the 1989 film and its sequel. He even skewers through Ursula in a split-second hard turn in a derelict ship as well as assisting his crew members in storms. Prince Eric spends much of his free time out at sea, whether for fishing, exploration, or on a mission to find his daughter Melody. Grimsby, his servant and personal confidant, often accompanies him on his voyages.
According to the film's official novelization, Eric is eighteen in the film, two years older than the sixteen-year-old Ariel. Through dialogue between him and his man-servant Grimsby, it is revealed that the kingdom is eagerly awaiting the day that Eric marries. Eric has turned down at least one princess as a prospective bride, the princess of Glowerhaven, claiming that he is still looking for the right girl. When a storm hits, everyone manages to escape to the lifeboat except for Eric, who swims back to save his dog, Max. In the process, he almost drowns, Ariel rescues him. She drags him to shore and sings to him, but before he can fully regain consciousness, Max and Grimsby arrive, forcing Ariel to dive underwater.
When Eric is seen on-film again, he is haunted by Ariel's voice, and has been searching the kingdom for her. When he crosses paths with Ariel again, she has traded her voice for legs, and though he initially finds her familiar, her lack of a voice makes him think that she cannot be the girl who rescued him. However, he brings her back to his palace and they spend time together. After some advice from Grimsby, Eric takes Ariel on a tour of his kingdom. That evening, the two go on a boat ride in which Sebastian leads a group of animals in a chorus of "Kiss The Girl", in an attempt to get Eric to fall in love with Ariel and kiss her, so that she can remain human. The two come close to kissing, but Ursula the sea witch's eels, Flotsam and Jetsam intervene by tipping over their boat. Later on, Grimsby advises Eric to forget about his "dream girl", and focus on the one "warm, caring, and right before his eyes". He apparently does so, throwing his fife (that he had been using to play Ariel's song) into the sea. But before he can approach Ariel, Ursula, disguised as a human girl named Vanessa, arrives and uses Ariel's voice to hypnotize Eric into believing she is the girl who saved his life, causing him to forget all about Ariel.
Eric almost marries Vanessa, but before the vows are completed, Ariel's friend Scuttle learns Vanessa's true identity and leads the same group of sea creatures that sung to Ariel and Eric on a mission to stop the wedding. During the chaos, the sea shell around Vanessa's neck containing Ariel's voice is smashed and the spell is broken. Ariel's voice is also restored, making Eric realize that Ariel is the girl he has been looking for. Before they can kiss, the sun sets and Ursula becomes herself and claims Ariel. Eric goes after them, diving into the sea to help Ariel. In the battle that follows, Eric is seperated from Ariel and she is trapped in the bottom of a whirlpool. Ursula then starts shooting at Ariel, trying to detroy the princess. Eric saves his love by climbing on to a ship and charging it towards Ursula, plunging the splintered prow into her belly. Ursula uses her last breaths to bring the ship down with her, but Eric jumps off in time.
Eric manages to reach the shore, and when he wakes, he sees Ariel, transformed back into a human, and the two embrace. The film ends with their wedding, at which Eric and Ariel exchange vows.
The prequel television series is set before the events of the 1989 film, and focuses almost entirely on Ariel. However, Eric makes very brief cameo appearances in three episodes.
The first cameo occurs in Season 1 episode "Thingamajigger". This episode implies that Eric plays a significant role in altering Ariel's perception of humans. Through dialogue, Ariel says that despite her fascination with human things, she is fearful of humans because of the stories she's been told since she was little. But when she witnesses Eric release a trapped dolphin from a net, she starts doubting the truth of those stories. To avoid messing up the film's story, Ariel does not see Eric's face, and Eric does not see Ariel at all.
In the Season 3 episode "Scuttle", Ariel and her friends stop a bunch of pirates from boarding a vessel, which turns out to be Eric's royal barge. Ariel does not see Eric at all, but Eric briefly glimpses Ariel from a distance, though Grimsby brushes it off as his imagination.
In a later Season 3 episode "Ariel's Treasures", Eric is seen briefly aboard a ship, from which a human item falls and is later collected by Ariel.
In the 2000 direct-to-video sequel, Eric is a supporting character. Although happily married to Ariel, the couple have a problem in protecting their daughter Melody from Ursula's sister, Morgana. Morgana blames everyone on board Eric's ship for killing Ursula although it was only Eric who skewered Ursula. Eric does not contribute to the plot, instead playing a supporting role in helping Ariel and/or Melody. However, he was the one who convinced Ariel to temporarily transform into a mermaid to help their daughter. In the end, he was reunited with Ariel and Melody as Humans and merfolk began celebrating together. This makes him the first and only father of the Disney Princes in the franchise and this movie.
The Little Mermaid (Broadway)
In the 2007 Broadway musical adaptation of the Disney film, the role of Eric is originated by Sean Palmer and Drew Seeley is also playing the role. It is explained through dialogue that Eric's father has passed away, and it is Grimsby's duty to help Eric find a bride so he can return to the throne properly, despite Eric's affinity for exploring the seas.
Eric contributes singing vocals to the opening song "Fathoms Below", and performs two solo songs: "Her Voice", a song about Eric's obsession with Ariel's voice that had been written for the original film but discarded, and "One Step Closer", a new song where Eric helps Ariel express herself through dance. Eric also provides vocals in the quartet "If Only", where he expresses confusion over his attraction to Ariel, and his fear that if he finds the girl with the right voice, he might lose Ariel.
A new subplot in the stage musical is a singing competition where the eligible princesses in all the land are invited to sing for Eric. The princesses perform in the song "The Contest", which is set to the tune of Ariel's song "Part of Your World.
Eric is a prince on the surface land of Atlantica. In all his life, he has been living in ignorance about the mysteries of the sea world.
Eric was saved by Ariel after his ship was wrecked in a storm. While he was unconscious, Ariel sang to him, and when he woke up, he recognized nothing about Ariel than her voice.
To be able to be with him, Ariel signed a contract with Ursula that allows her to become human for three days in exchange for her voice, and unless she makes the prince kiss her before sundown of the third day, she will belong to her forever.
Eric met Ariel at the beach where he was brought ashore, but did not recognize her because of her loss of voice. On the second night, he and Ariel were out on a little boat and almost kissed, until Flotsam and Jetsam interrupted them. The next morning, Ursula turned into a human girl called Vanessa and cast a spell on Eric to make him fall in love with her. However, Sora interferes with her plan and breaks Ursula's charm, thus giving Ariel her voice back and breaks Eric out of the spell. Eric, having recognized Ariel, confesses his love to her, but Ursula takes her back to the sea.
He then rescues Ariel and defeats Ursula with the help of Sora, Donald and Goofy. Upon her defeat, Ariel reveals to Eric about her true identity, but he admits that it does not change how he feels. The romantic scene makes King Triton finally change his mind and let his daughter be with a human prince.
In the ending credits, Eric and Ariel, having finally become human, are seen getting married in a ceremony gathered with humans and merpeople.
Eric is a somewhat regular character at the parks often seen with Ariel in a variety of shows and parades.
Eric makes an appearance living out the same role as he did in the film. Eric is seen during a few cutscenes and the end where he and Ariel celebrate their love.
Eric can be seen during the "Kiss the Girl" sequence and the finale as an audio animatronic in the newest attraction from his franchise.
Eric joins Ariel and other Disney couples during the Princess Melody. Here Eric later appears riding either the Mark Twain Riverboat or Steamboat Willie at the show's finale.
- For more pictures and screenshots of Prince Eric, click here.
- Prince Eric is the first official Disney Prince not to sing in his film; however, he does sing in the musical and the sequel film of Melody's christening.
- Prince Eric is the second Disney Prince to kill the film's villain, the first being Prince Phillip and the third being Aladdin (or fourth if you count the Beast defeating Gaston).
- Prince Eric is the second of three Disney princes to be blue eyed.
- Eric is the first Disney prince to have a dog as a pet. The Beast/Prince Adam is the second.
- Eric is one of the only two Disney princes to be hypnotized. (Prince Charming is hypnotized in Cinderella III)
- Eric is the first Disney prince to be featured being able to play a musical instrument. Prince Naveen is the second.
- Eric is the only Disney prince to be a father.
- Prince Eric is the first Disney Prince to show his barefeet. The second being Prince Adam (Beast), the third Aladdin, the fourth John Smith and the fifth Flynn Rider.
- Prince Eric is the first Disney Hero to have his life saved by his respective love interest. Ariel saved him from drowning and from being destroyed by Ursula when she obtained the Trident.
- Prince Eric speaks the first non musical line of The Little Mermaid being "Isn't this great, the salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face!"