The rainbow sent by King Triton at the end of The Little Mermaid is inverted (blue is at the top).

enter image description here

Has this ever been explained by someone linked to the film's creators? Possibilities I can think of include

  • mistake (unlikely given how obvious it is, the budget, the professionalism, etc).
  • an allusion to the "reflected" nature of the undersea kingdom (their up is our down, etc)
  • a deliberate distancing of the world of the entire film from our own
  • an unwillingness to upset the Gen9:13 crowd by suggesting a classical god might have comparable ability or otherwise distinguishing the two events

But I'm not really interested in speculation, just creator-attested reasons, if any exist.

  • someone else noticed and included a picture flickclip.com/badbioflicks/littlemermaid.html Sep 10, 2016 at 14:36
  • @KateGregory That's not a picture from the movie, though, it's a drawing of a rainbow the way it should be. But the rainbow from the movie is available online.
    – Walt
    Sep 10, 2016 at 16:12
  • 1
    Disney actually has a history of painting rainbows this way. They are upside down in one of the Fantasia sketches, too. goo.gl/images/HlG1Ms
    – Catija
    Sep 11, 2016 at 1:01
  • 1
    It's the second rainbow of a Double Rainbow. Double rainbows occur when the sunlight is reflected twice inside the raindrops. The second rainbow usually sits outside the first, and looks dimmer and more blurry than the original. Because of the angle of reflection, the second rainbow appears with the opposite colour scheme to the first, with blue on the outside and red moved to the inside. Double Rainbow: lovethesepics.com/2013/05/…
    – Mary
    Sep 11, 2016 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


I contacted Disney Animation through Twitter and asked if there was a reason why:

enter image description here

As you can see, the answer was: Nope.

Unfortunately, we may never know the reason why Disney chose to invert the colors of the rainbow in this scene.

Given the response from Disney Animation, we just have to assume that it's another bizarre "Disney-ism" that Disney likes to throw into their films.

However, there's an interesting point to ponder:

Disney used their Computer Animation Production System for the first time only for this specific scene.

The system's first feature film test was in the production of The Little Mermaid in 1989 where it was used in a single shot of the rainbow sequence at the end of the film.

Perhaps it was just a mistake due to the use of this new animation technique.

There may never be a definitive answer to this question, I'm afraid. I will have to take Disney Animation's response of NOPE as the answer.

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