Freaky Fairytales: The Selfish Little Mermaid

Another segment of Freaky Fairytales, starring The Little Mermaid. The Disney adaptation shows a love story, the original story is a selfish girl wanting legs.

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The Disney film The Little Mermaid is seen as a love story where Ariel’s motivation to become human is to be with the prince. However, the original fairytale is far more darker than that. The little mermaid’s intention for legs is far more selfish.

The origins of The Little Mermaid is from a Danish tale written by Han Christian Anderson (1805-1875)

The story was published in 1837 in a collection of tales called FairyTales Told for Children. It was then reprinted around the 1850s.

Let’s dive into the original story.

Warning: there is some violence and self harm.

The Little Mermaid Original Tale


The King of the Sea has six daughters. The youngest was the little mermaid. Her five older sisters were each a year apart. In this tale, when you turn fifteen, you can go up to the surface. With each passing year, the little mermaid has heard stories form her sisters about the land above. Her interest only grew.

When the little mermaid finally turned fifteen she went really close to the land and saw the prince having a birthday party. This piqued her curiosity.

She would ask her grandmother questions about the surface. Her grandmother tells the little mermaid that humans have souls and go to heaven, which is far better than land and sea.

Mermaids can live forever, this pains the little mermaid. She wants to have legs and not be immortal. Her intention is only to live the human experience.

According to her grandmother: If a man falls for you and wants to marry, you can share souls.

This intrigues the little mermaid and she decides to go see the sea witch.


In the Disney film, its her voice the witch wants. However, in Anderson’s story the little mermaid must have her tongue cut out to grow legs. She must seduce the prince into loving her or she will turn into sea foam.

There is very little success on that front since the prince falls for another woman. But it’s not the witch herself disguised as a human.

When the elder sisters find out what their youngest sibling had done, they went to the sea witch and offered each a piece of their hair for the contract to be broken. However, if the little mermaid agreed the prince would die.

Although her intent selfish at the beginning, she finally does a selfless act and kills herself instead.


On a lighter note it has been confirmed that The Little Mermaid live action film is set to release on May 26, 2023


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