Ursula the Sea-witch makes her proposal to Ariel

Ursula is a villainess who first appeared in the 1989 Disney animated feature film, The Little Mermaid. She was voiced by Pat Carroll in the film, its subsequent TV series and the Kingdom Hearts video games. She is a sea witch who "helps" unfortunate people while achieving her own goals. From her waist up, she has the body of an overweight purple-skinned, white-haired female human (modeled on drag performer Divine), and from the waist down she has the tentacles of a black octopus. Alongside Maleficent, Ursula is one of the most ruthless and popular villainesses in Disney History.

The Little MermaidEdit

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Ursula the Sea-witch was once a senior member of the court of King Triton, the king of the underwater city of Atlantica. For her obsession with Dark Magic and treachery against the kingdom, Ursula was banished, and retreated to a secret lair on the outsides of the city with her two moray eel minions, Flotsam and Jetsam. For many years, she watched over the city waiting for her chance to seek revenge on Triton and gain the crown of Atlantica, becoming Queen of the oceans.

After Triton punishes his daughter Ariel, for falling in love with a human, who is the prince of a nearby kingodm, Ursula sends Flotsam and Jetsam to lure Ariel back to the sea witch's lair. Ursula proposes that if Ariel gives her renowned singing voice to Ursula, Ursula will swap Ariel's fins for legs and transform her into a human, allowing her to pursue Prince Eric, the human she fell in love with. If Ariel does not succeed in kissing Eric within three days of the transformation, she will become Ursula's slave forever, being transformed into a little shriveled plant with eyes. Ursula has many of these plants in her lair, and every so often she eats one. It becomes clear later on that they are other people who came out on the wrong end of one of Ursula's deals (meaning they lost "the game".)

Ariel comes very close to succeeding, so Ursula takes the form of a beautiful human female with Ariel's voice to sabotage the relationship. The form she assumes looks remarkably like Ariel, though she has brunette hair instead of red, a slimmer, though still curvy, figure and her overall coloring is darker than Ariel's. Taking on the name Vanessa, Ursula lures Prince Eric into agreeing to marry using enchantment to control his mind (though some fans say the cause is simply Eric's obsession with Ariel's voice, it is clear by the gold mist in Eric's eyes and robot-like speech and posture that it was sorcery) thereby cancelling any chance of Ariel's success. Ursula blows her cover by singing blithely about her plans when she believes herself alone. Overhearing this, Scuttle informs Ariel and orchestrates an elaborate assault on the bride at her wedding. After Ariel and her friends manage to disrupt the wedding at the last minute, both Ursula and Ariel regain their true appearances on the wedding boat.  Taking Ariel into the depths of the ocean, Ursula holds the mermaid as bait for her father, who takes the bait and offers his life instead of Ariel's. Triton is transformed and becomes Ursula's possession as a shriveled plant, while Ursula gains the crown of Atlantica.

Giant ursula

Ursula in her transformed state

Growing to enormous size, Ursula summons sunken ships to the water's surface with Triton's magic trident. At the end, Prince Eric drives one of the ships through Ursula's heart, killing her. Triton and the other bewitched plants return to their previous merfolk forms.

Obviously, Ursula did not appear in the sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.The 2nd Little Mermaid Movie featured her neglected sister, Morgana, as the villain. Ursula, however, did appear as a frequent villainess on the Little Mermaid prequel television series. Some of her plans there included her tricking Sebastian to conquer Atlantica, destroying a Bad Luck Creature, recruiting the Octopods against Atlantica and using Ariel's treasures against Atlantica.

Ursula has a large fan following for a Disney villain, and the Vanessa persona, as well, has her own separate if small fan group from Ursula.


As the Disney villains congregate in a bid to finally destroy Mickey Mouse, Ursula summons the powers of the oceans for her contribution. Mickey uses the powers of his imagination to destroy the sea-witch, and banish her back to the seas. Fantasmic! debuted in 1992, only a few years after The Little Mermaid premiered, and already was a very popular Disney character. Originally, a twenty foot Audio-Animatronic Ursula float travelled around her segment in the show on the water, but it was very expensive to maintain so currently Ursula only features in the animation projected onto water screens.

Kingdom Hearts seriesEdit

Kingdom HeartsEdit

In the video game Kingdom Hearts, for the PlayStation 2, Ursula briefly appears shadowed as one of Maleficent's conspirators, using the sea-based Heartless to attack Atlantica. Taking advantage of Ariel's desire to see another world, Ursula tricks Ariel into giving her Triton's trident. In the hero's first boss fight against her in her lair, Ursula gets some help from Flotsam and Jetsam, using her cauldron to grow in power, but she escapes. In the second battle against her, Ursula uses the trident to grow in size, but she is still defeated and forced to relinquish the trident while faking her apparent death.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of MemoriesEdit

A facsimile created from Sora's memories in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, for the Game Boy Advance, Ursula takes Flounder hostage to force Ariel into giving her Triton's trident (she tells Ariel that Flounder has been taken to the "human world" and she needs the trident to rescue him). In the fight against Ursula, she uses the trident to shrink Sora and company, and attacks with electric breath, bubbles, and other attacks, but they again defeat her.

Kingdom Hearts IIEdit

Ursula recreates her movie role loosely in Kingdom Hearts II, again for the PlayStation 2. She is working alone this time, without the Heartless. Tricking a distraught Ariel in another scheme to steal the trident, assuming the guise of Vanessa during the third day (though Sora destroyed the conch holding Ariel's voice), and using Ariel to force Triton to give Ursula the trident. She grows to giant size again, with her singing. But the trident was knocked out of her hands by Sora, which ended in the hand of Prince Eric. He slays her by throwing the trident through her chest after she ironically demanded the trident. (a reference to how Ursula's comeuppance in the movie was originally storyboarded).


  • Ursula's original design was not that of an octopus. It was thought that she would be other sea creatures, such as a Rockfish. The ones in charge of her production saw a documentary about an octopus and it was decided that would be her form.
  • Ursula's lair is set inside a large skeleton of a seemingly ancient fish. Ursula's lair, including its own cauldron and a short 'hallway' with her shriveled victims looking on helplessly, was actually noted as being the Leviathan in a few sources. In the video game Kingdom Hearts when you begin to enter the area where Ursula's lair is in, the dialogue says The Leviathan.
  • There had been a slight bit of controversy about Ursula's questionable routine in her song, "Poor Unfortunate Souls." The two instances under speculation were Ursula doing a questionable movement as she said the line "Body language" and as she sings, she does a provocative shimmy where the camera zooms in upon her breasts.
  • In the game Kingdom Hearts II for the PlayStation 2, Ursula is seen sticking more to her role in the movie, as in stealing Ariel's voice. What can be confusing, however, is that there is no explanation of why Ursula has returned since being soundly defeated in the first game. It is possible that when Sora reset the worlds, as a result of his actions in the first game, Ursula was reset along with them. What's still wouldn't make sense though is that, although Ariel has met Sora and the others, she seems to have no recollection of Ursula and her past experiences with the conniving sea witch. Ursula is the only villain out of the original group of villains: Maleficent, Jafar, Hades, Oogie Boogie, Captain Hook (who did not return at all) and herself, who does not have a valid excuse for being back. Maleficent had rematerialized, Jafar was imprisoned in his lamp, Hades was a god, and Oogie Boogie was resurrected by Maleficent.
  • In the song "Poor Unfortunate Souls", Ursula recites the spell for taking Ariel's voice as:
Beluga, Sevruga
Come winds of the Caspian Sea
Larynxes, glossitis
Et Max Laryngitis
La voce to me
    • Beluga could either refer to Beluga caviar or the Beluga Whale.
    • Sevruga refers to a kind of caviar from a type of sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea.
    • The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, found in the far south-east of European Russia.
    • Larynxes is the plural of the word larynx or the 'voice box'.
    • Glossitis is an inflammation of the tongue.
    • Et max laryngitis uses a reference of the French language. Et is the French equivalent of "and". So it means to say, 'And max laryngitis' with laryngitis being an inflammation of the larynx which results in people losing their voice.
    • La voce is from the Italian language. La voce literally means, "The voice"
  • As the song is, it is likely to conclude that the Little Mermaid took place near the seas of the North Atlantic, perhaps near Finland or Denmark, around the homeland of the author Hans Christian Andersen, who was in fact born in Denmark and also the author of the book "The Little Mermaid." This was essentially confirmed in an episode of the prequel animated television series 'The Little Mermaid', in which Hans Christian Andersen does some underwater exploration in a submersible shaped like a large metal fish and encounters Ariel (and is thus inspired to write his story "The Little Mermaid").
  • Performer Divine (Glen Milstead) is credited as partial inspiration for Ursula's ultimate design.


Although it isn't a well-known fact among Disney fans, the popular villain Ursula borrowed a lot of characteristics from the earlier Madame Medusa of The Rescuers. Here are a few examples:

Madame Medusa

The design of Ursula's face was borrowed from the previous villainess, Madame Medusa.

  • Their facial characteristics are very, very similar and this is very clear to see. Both Madame Medusa and Ursula rely on a less-realistic more cartoon-like design, presenting their wickedness in their very looks. Both characters use a lot of make-up, and where Madame Medusa shows herself taking off her make-up in front of Penny, Ursula is seen putting it on in front of Ariel, both characters in front of their own personal vanities.
  • Madame Medusa uses Penny's beloved teddy bear, Teddy to manipulate her and get her to do what she wants the girl to do. Ursula uses Ariel to get Triton to do as she commands, both characters taking advantage of their opponent's weakness.
  • When things are going her way, Madame Medusa shows off a sloppy, waist-shaking dance. In the musical number, Poor Unfortunate Souls, Ursula does exactly the same dance.
  • Madame Medusa's beloved pets are a pair of ferocious, green, yellow-eyed alligators named Brutus and Nero, Ursula's beloved pets are a pair of ferocious, green, yellow-eyed eels named Flotsam and Jetsam.
  • Medusa and Ursula, in her Vanessa form, are both physically assaulted by animals that attack their faces, hair, clothes, and butts.

See alsoEdit