In Walt Disney's 1953 animated adaptation of Peter Pan viewers are introduced to some young mermaids all being found of Peter, but a bit jealous of Wendy.

In 1989 Disney also adapted Hans Christensen's The Little Mermaid into an animated feature.

Although the coloring technology is much more vibrant in The Little Mermaid, considering it was made 30-some years later and that Peter Pan mermaids seem younger, there still seems to be a lot of similarity in the way both sets of mermaids are drawn/move, especially the red head in Peter Pan contrasted with Ariel.

mermaid Disney

I realize that these are both works from Disney and perhaps there isn't much they could do differently, because they may be trying to preserve a certain kind of stylization in their animated classics, but

I was wondering if this was more than coincidence and if The Little Mermaid animators and producers looked back to Peter Pan for inspiration?

  • Can you explain why you think this matters ("Please try to explain why your question is relevant for understanding the work beyond banal minutiae")?
    – Joachim
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 8:55
  • Movie & TV Stack Exchange has "reference" tag, because references help establish thematic choices to better understand any given work, and/or in this case a company's body of work. This is about origins. This is about where an idea comes from and ultimately, how parts of Peter Pan may of shaped the Little Mermaid at the very least visually, let alone in other contexts. I'm just curious if there was any intent, because they have similar characteristics. So I asked a question to see if there was anything on the record there. Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 17:58
  • There are a lot Q's on here that are about references, allusions, and homage. It may not mean much to you and seem like trivia, but sometimes some references end up having a greater influence on another work than one might of initially thought---and from a philosophical perspective, using others ideas in work is a way to have a conversation or philosophical evolution of any given idea/set of ideas. ie: The Pilgrims Progress --->The Pilgrims Regress. Aldous Huxley's Brave New World ------>Huxley's Island. Hamlet/Shakesphere---->The Lion King. Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 18:04
  • But you don't make a case for it being a reference. Both films come from the same studio: it seems more likely that in order to save time and money the animators reused some of their older assets. Disney's early full-length animated movies all have a lot in common in terms of style. And don't get me wrong, I love references (a question of mine here is about the allusion to Pinocchio in Close Encounters), but I see no reason to assume there is one here.
    – Joachim
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 19:30
  • I made a case by visual comparison (ie: an "allusion" which is part of the reference tag citation. It includes allusions and homage all under one "reference" tag). If that is not good enough for you, then you do not have to vote. That is how it works with the community here. If you want to flag it, you are free to do that too. Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


Well Fred Moore did the animation for the mermaids specifically, for Peter Pan... He was the resident animator until the 50s or so, (dying in 52).

There were many animators for The Little Mermaid, supervising animators being Glen Keane, and Mark Henn for Ariel, and Ruben Aquino for Ursula, as examples.

The Little Mermaid is an interesting film because it was the last 'hand animated' film ever done by Disney, and it was produced through their Disney MGM Studioes, on top of that, they did a sort of "motion capture" filming actors to help the animators... but that's besides the point.

The Little Mermaid also tried to harken back to Disney roots of the questing female against all odds tropes. Because of this, one could assume that Disney, on top of trying to keep a consistent style for their works were inspired by their previous works. However it's impossible to know. Glen has been interviewed to say that his design of Ariel was based off his wife... Disney is quite famous for reusing their assets in other films... So I wouldn't be surprised if someone said, "do them like this, but different".

On top of that, besides the fact they're mermaids, and there are only so many ways to draw them keeping specific stereotypes in place... I don't find their earlier style, that much in common with the 'newer'... All of their features are 'bumped up'. But suffice to say, it would be more than a coincidence, considering Disney's laziness.

  • "The Little Mermaid is an interesting film because it was the last 'hand animated' film ever done by Disney" I'm confused. Beauty and the Beast? Aladdin? The Lion King? None of these were "hand-animated"?
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 13:00
  • @Kyralessa they were not. Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 13:22
  • Kindly elaborate.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 13:50
  • @Kyralessa there is an entire internet out there. Elaborating the definition of what disney considers the limits of traditional animation vs is beyond my time and the scope of a years old question that was never accepted. Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 13:51
  • So you don't have a source for this assertion? * shrug * OK, then, I'll be happy to discard it.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 13:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .