Are Ursula and Triton Siblings in The Little Mermaid?

Triton holding his trident against Ursula
Credit: Disney

Triton holding his trident against Ursula
Credit: Disney

There have been various adaptations and retellings of the classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, and in some versions, Ursula and Triton are related. So, are Ursula and Triton siblings in The Little Mermaid?

In the Disney live-action remakes, it can be noticed that there have been major changes to Disney villains. Cruella and Maleficent provide backstories for the said villains.

Peter Pan & Wendy tells us that Captain Hook and Peter Pan used to be best friends. So, what about Ursula, the villain in The Little Mermaid?

What's Ursula's backstory in The Little Mermaid live-action film? In the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, Ursula and Triton are estranged siblings.

Triton using his trident against Ursula
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Credit: Disney

In some versions of The Little Mermaid, Ursula and Triton are related. The concept of the sea witch Ursula and King Triton being siblings was actually dropped in the 1989 animated version of The Little Mermaid.

However, other adaptations of the story, such as the Broadway musical, picked up this concept. In the Broadway version, Triton banished Ursula after the latter tried to use dark magic to usurp Triton.

This occurred after their father’s death when Triton was given the trident while Ursula received a magic Nautilus shell. Additionally, in the novel Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch by Serena Valentino, Ursula is Triton’s younger sister who chooses to have tentacles instead of a fishtail.

Because of this choice, Ursula is banished and later on adopted by a human father. She returns to the sea to seek revenge on Triton by stealing his soul and becoming ruler of the seas.

In the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, Ursula is Triton’s sister, making her Ariel’s aunt. And just like in other versions of the story, she wants to obtain Triton’s trident so that she could rule all the seas.

RELATED: Why Are There So Many Disney Live-Action Remakes?

Ursula’s Backstory in The Little Mermaid Live-Action Remake Explained

Ursula with glowing tentacles in The Little Mermaid live-action remake
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Credit: Disney

In the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, when Ariel meets Ursula, she only knows the latter to be a sea witch. This hurts Ursula as she reveals that she’s actually Ariel’s aunt.

Later on in the film, when Triton confronts Ursula to save Ariel, the sea witch reveals that she doesn’t really want Ariel. She just wants to make Triton suffer for all the things he made her go through.

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The movie, however, doesn’t further expand on the specifics as to what really happened between Triton and Ursula. It only tells us that they are estranged siblings and that Ursula wants to seek revenge on her brother.

The Little Mermaid producer John DeLuca called Ursula the “black sheep” of the family. Additionally, actress Melissa McCarthy said that Ursula is “the villain, but there’s such an edge to her.”

"She's been put in this lair. It's like she's had too many martinis alone. Her friends are eels. That is a woman who has seen it, been in it, dug her way back out,” McCarthy added.

The same things happen to Ursula in the live-action film like in the 1989 animated version: the sea witch makes a deal with Ariel and sings “Poor Unfortunate Souls”; she appears as her alter-ego Vanessa to stop Eric from falling in love with Ariel; Ursula temporarily obtains Triton’s trident and crown; and Ursula is ultimately defeated after getting hit by a bowsprit of a ship.

Notably, the live-action remake does not tell us if Ursula has a sister named Morgana. But perhaps Morgana could be the villain in a sequel to The Little Mermaid.

RELATED: The Little Mermaid Live-Action: Who Are Ariel’s Sisters?

The Little Mermaid is now playing in theaters.

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