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Prince Eric is the hero of the animated Disney film The Little Mermaid. He later appears in the spin-off prequel television series and in the direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.

The character is based on the "prince" character of Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Little Mermaid" but adapted by writer Roger Allers for Disney's film. The character is voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes in the original film and the Kingdom Hearts video games, by Jeff Bennett in the prequel television series, and by Rob Paulsen in the direct-to-video sequel. In the 2007 Broadway musical version, the role was originated by Sean Palmer.

Fictional biography and Appearances

Despite being of royalty, Eric is an accomplished mariner who is often seen partaking in various duties aboard ships in his own fleet. Eric is also displayed to be a skilled helmsman as he is seen steering ships in both the 1989 film and its sequel, the former his skill displayed where he skewers through Ursula in a split second hard turn to port in a derelict ship. He is often out at sea going on voyages ranging from a fishing expedition to battles at sea. He is often accompanied by Grimsby, his servant and personal confidant.

The Little Mermaid

Eric is the love interest and the first main character seen on screen in Disney film The Little Mermaid, which follows the story of Ariel, the little mermaid who saves his life and falls in love with him at a cost. Little is known about Eric's background and motivation, making him a cypher. According to the film's official novelisation, Eric is eighteen in the film, two years older than Ariel, who is sixteen at the time of the film.

Through dialogue between him and his man-servant Grimsby, Eric has turned down at least one princess for a prospective bride, as he is still looking for the right girl. When a storm hits, everyone manages to escape to the lifeboat except for Eric, who swims back to save his dog, Max. In the process he almost drowns, but he is saved by Ariel. She drags him to shore and sings to him, but before he can regain consciousness fully, Max and Grimsby arrive, forcing Ariel to dive underwater.

When Eric is seen on-film again, he is haunted by Ariel's voice, and has been searching the kingdom for her. When he crosses paths with Ariel again, she has traded her voice for legs, and though he initially finds her familiar, her lack of a voice makes him think that she cannot be the girl who rescued him. However, he brings her back to his palace and they spend time together. During a boat ride in which Sebastian leads a group of animals in a chorus of "Kiss The Girl". The two come close to kissing, but Ursula the sea witch's eels, Floatsum and Jetsum intervene by tipping over their boat. Later on, Grimsby advises Eric to forget about his "dream girl", and focus on the one "warm, carrying, and right before his eyes". He apparently does so, throwing his fife (that he had been using to play Ariel's song) into the sea. But before he can approach Ariel, Ursula, disguised as a human girl named Vanessa, arrives and uses Ariel's voice to hypnotize Eric into believing she is the girl who saved his life and forget all about Ariel.

Eric almost marries Vanessa, but before the vows are completed, Ariel's friend Scuttle learns her true identity and leads the same group of sea creatures that sung to Ariel and Eric to stop the wedding. During the chaos, the sea shell around Vanessa's neck containing Ariel's voice is smashed and the spell is broken. Ariel's voice is also restored, making Eric realize that Ariel is the girl he has been looking for. Before they can kiss, the sun sets and Ursula claims Ariel. Eric goes after them, diving into the sea to help Ariel. In the battle that follows, Eric climbs on to a ship and charges it towards Ursula, plunging the splintered prow into her belly.

Eric manages to reach the shore, and when he wakes, he sees Ariel, transformed back into a human, and the two embrace. The film ends with their wedding, at which Eric and Ariel exchange vows.

Prequel television series

The prequel television series is set before the events of the 1989 film, and focuses almost entirely on Ariel. However, Eric makes very brief cameo appearances in three episodes.

The first cameo occurs in Season 1 episode "Thingamajigger". This episode implies that Eric plays a significant role in altering Ariel's perception of humans. Through dialogue, Ariel says that despite her fascination with human things, she is fearful of humans because of the stories she's been told since she was little. But when she witnesses Eric release a trapped dolphin from a net, she starts doubting the truth of those stories. Ariel does not see Eric's face, and Eric does not see Ariel at all.

In the Season 3 episode "Scuttle", Ariel and her friends stop a bunch of pirates from boarding a vessel, which turns out to be Eric's royal barge. Ariel does not see Eric at all, but Eric briefly glimpses Ariel from a distance, though Grimsby brushes it off as his imagination.

In a later Season 3 episode "Ariel's Treasures", Eric is seen briefly aboard a ship, from which a human item falls and is later collected by Ariel.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

In the 2000 direct-to-video sequel, Eric is a supporting character. Although happily married to Ariel, the couple have a problem in protecting their daughter Melody from Ursula's sister, Morgana. Morgana blames everyone on board Eric's ship for killing Ursula although it was only Eric who skewered Ursula. Eric does not contribute to the plot, often playing a supporting role in helping Ariel and/or Melody. However, he was the one who convinced Ariel to temporarily transform into a Mermaid to help their daughter. In the end, he was reunited with Ariel and Melody as Humans and merfolk began celebrating together.

Extension

A number of comics and junior books have been released as part of Disney's The Little Mermaid franchise, though their connection to canon is arguable. In the Disney Press book Ariel's Secret Ariel tells a story of how when she was very young, she went to the surface for the first time and encountered an equally young Eric, who was friendly towards her and promised to keep her a secret. This book contradicts the film, in which sixteen-year-old Ariel states that it is only in the events of the film that she sees a human close for the first time. This is itself contradicted by Ariel aiding in saving the life of a character trapped on the ocean floor who was meant to represent Hans Christian Anderson, the author of the original story upon which Ariel is based, in the TV series episode "Metal Fish".

Stage musical

In the 2007 Broadway musical adaptation of the Disney film, the role of Eric is originated by Sean Palmer and Drew Seeley is also playing the role. It is explained through dialogue that Eric's father has passed away, and it is Grimsby's duty to help Eric find a bride so he can return to the throne properly, despite Eric's affinity for exploring the seas.

Eric contributes singing vocals to the opening song "Fathoms Below", and performs two solo songs: "Her Voice", a song about Eric's obsession with Ariel's voice that had been written for the original film but discarded, and "One Step Closer", a new song where Eric helps Ariel express herself through dance. Eric also provides vocals in the quartet "If Only", where he expresses confusion over his attraction to Ariel, and his fear that if he finds the girl with the right voice, he might lose Ariel.

A new subplot in the stage musical is a singing competition where the eligible princesses in all the land are invited to sing for Eric. The princesses perform in the song "The Contest", which is set to the tune of Ariel's song "Part of Your World". At the end of the performance, Ariel dances for Eric, and he chooses her.

International voice casting

International dubs of the animated films feature other actors in the role of Prince Eric. These include:
Country Language Dubbed name Speaking voice Singing voice Notes
Austriamarker Austrian German Erik Sascha Wussow
Brazilmarker Brazilian Portuguese Eric Garcia Júnior
Bulgariamarker Bulgarian
Canadamarker /

Quebecmarker
Quebec French Éric Pierre Auger
Croatiamarker Croatian Hrvoje Klobučar
Czech Republicmarker Czech
Denmarkmarker Danish Erik Lars Thiesgaard
Egyptmarker Arabic
Estoniamarker Estonian
Finlandmarker Finnish Erik Matti Olavi Ranin 1989 dub
Jyri Ojaluoma 1998 re-dub
Francemarker French Éric Thierry Ragueneau 1989 dub
Bruno Choël 1998 re-dub
Germanymarker German Erik Frank Schaff-Langhans 1989 dub
Jan Josef Liefers 1998 re-dub
Greecemarker Greek Eric (Έρικ) Nickos Papadopoulos 1989 dub
Hong Kongmarker Cantonese
Hungarymarker Hungarian Eric János Zalán
Icelandmarker Icelandic
Israelmarker Hebrew
Italymarker Italian Eric Vittorio De Angelis
Japanmarker Japanese 絵理子 - Romaji: Eriku Kazuhiko Inoue
Koreamarker Korean E
Mexicomarker Latin American Spanish Eric Demián Bichir
Netherlandsmarker Dutch Erik Diederik Gelderman
Norwaymarker Norwegian Erik Trond Peter Stamsø Munch
Polandmarker Polish Eryk Jacek Kopczyński
Portugalmarker Portuguese Eric Diogo Infante
United Statesmarker English Eric Christopher Daniel Barnes
Russiamarker Russian Эрик - Romanization: Eric Iliya Khvostikov
Swedenmarker Swedish Erik Jörgen Düberg
Spainmarker Spanish Eric David Robles
Taiwanmarker (Chinamarker) Mandarin
Thailandmarker Thai
Turkeymarker Turkish


References




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