Mermaids are regularly depicted in literature, film and music, like many creatures of mythology and folklore.


Perhaps one of the best known works featuring mermaids is Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale The Little Mermaid (1837), which has been translated into many languages. Andersen's portrayal, immortalized with a famous bronze sculpture in Copenhagen harbour, has arguably become the standard and has influenced most modern Western depictions of mermaids since it was published. The story has been retold in other films and television programs, and regularly features in collections of fairytales. It has been adapted into various media, the most famous of which is the 1989 Disney movie of the same name.

  • The Sea Fairies - L. Frank Baum (creator of Oz) wrote a novel about merfolk, The Sea Fairies (1911). Later, in The Scarecrow of Oz (1915), the same characters are rescued from danger by the mermaids.
  • Wet Magic - In E. Nesbit's Wet Magic (1913), four children hear that a mermaid has been captured by a circus, and rescue her. Their reward is to visit the hidden kingdom of the mermaids.
  • The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock - T. S. Eliot, in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915), uses the metaphor of mermaids to emphasis Prufock's plight: "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. / I do not think that they will sing to me.
  • The Goblin Tower - One of the stories embedded in L. Sprague de Camp's The Goblin Tower (1968), as being told by the book's story-telling protagonist Jorian, is about a human king who fell in love with a mermaid. The story tells with hilarious detail of the couple's difficult efforts to physically consummate their love, which nearly ends in disaster (he nearly drowns in trying to have sex underwater, and she is nearly killed by his bodyguards in revenge). In the end, the king marries a human woman, though keeping a platonic friendship with the mermaid.
  • The Merman's Children - Mermaids appear in Poul Anderson's The Merman's Children (1979).[1]
  • Harry Potter - In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001), J. K. Rowling writes of magical creatures in the Harry Potter world, including mermaids. They are described as in three different species: sirens, selkies and merrows. Similar to other humanoid magical creatures in this universe, they do not wield or understand magic themselves. They appear in the fourth and sixth books of the series.
  • Aquamarine - Aquamarine (2001), a novel by Alice Hoffman, is about two 13 year old girls who discover a sassy teenage mermaid. The novel was popular among teen and preteen girls[citation needed], and was made into a film released in 2006 by Twentieth Century Fox that starred Sara Paxton, Emma Roberts and JoJo.
  • She Creature (2001) Two carnies (Sewell and Gugino) abduct a mermaid in Ireland, circa 1900, and decide to transport her to America. As their ship loses its way and heads towards the mythical Forbidden Islands, the mermaid begins to display its deadly side. [1]
  • Sereia de Curitiba - Rhys Hughes, in the connected stories that form A Sereia de Curitiba (2007), relates the adventures of a mermaid in a variety of locations, including Brazil, Madeira, Wales; and also on the moon, where she meets a species of mermaid with the heads of fish and lower bodies of humans who surf the dry lunar seas on motorised skateboards.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis mentions mermaids at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Lucy sees a group of them in Voyage of the Dawn Treader and bonds silently with a young mermaid girl.


  • Peter Pan - Mermaids appear in the Peter Pan play (1904), in which they try to drown Wendy, and in adaptations of it (such as the film Hook).
  • The Little Mermaid - The Broadway adaptation of the Disney film.
  • Miranda - a British comedy written by Peter Blackmore, who also wrote the film of the same name.

Comic books[]

  • Superman - The comic book superhero Superman had a romantic love interest with a mermaid named Lori Lemaris. Her first appearance was in 1959. The name Lori Lemaris was probably drawn from Lorelei rock in the Rhine added to maris, from the Latin mare, meaning ocean. One may also note that she has the initials L.L., the same as several of Superman's other love interests including Lois Lane and Lana Lang.
  • Arabelle the last mermaid by Jean Ache appeared as a comic strip in the daily French newspaper France-Soir between 1950 and 1962. The character returned in various magazines until 1972. Arabelle is discovered by an American plastic surgeon on a Mediterranean island. The surgeon gives her human legs, but she retains her ability to breathe underwater. With her companion, a reformed burglar, Arabelle becomes involved in a series of light, romantic adventures. [2]
  • One Piece - In the manga and cartoon series, "One Piece", there are many mermaids. The most notable two, as of current, are Kokoro and Camie.
  • Mermaid Saga - a manga series by Rumiko Takahashi, which tells that when a person eats the flesh of a mermaid, they can gain immortality, but chances are that the mermaid's flesh will either kill them or transform them into horrible creatures called Lost Souls. There are two types of mermaids shown in the manga. The first may gain human appearance when they eat the flesh of an immortal girl, the second have two legs which need to feed on the flesh of mermaids who live in water, specifically when they are about to give birth. Besides the flesh, a mermaid's blood, ashes, and liver have shown having different effects on humans. Mermaid's blood can stop a person's youth, but it can't stop their insides form aging. Ashes can give flowers immortality, but can only temporarily revive dead humans. A mermaid's liver was used to revive a dead girl, but gave her a need to feed on the livers of living things.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch - a manga about girls that are mermaid princesses.

Video games[]

  • Densetsu no Stafy - In the Densetsu no Stafy game series by Nintendo, a character ironically named Mermaid is used to save the game. Whenever Stafy bumps the shell she lives in, the game will auto-save.
  • Puyo Puyo - The Japanese puzzle game series from Compile features a mermaid named Seriri who believes that everyone is trying to eat her, due to the belief that eating mermaid flesh will grant immortality.
  • Mega Man 9 - Splash Woman's design is based on the appearance of a mermaid.
  • The Goonies II - The climax of the game involves rescuing a mermaid.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - In Koholint Island, there is a mermaid named Martha who lives in her bay. She has a flower in her hair. When the player talks to her, she states that she has lost her necklace because of the ocean waves. After you retrieve her necklace from under the bridge, swim back to her bay, give it to her and she will give you a mermaid's scale as an exchange. Later on, she jumps from the surface and sits on the rock as you get closer to the shore.


Film Year Notes
Siren of the Sea (or The Mermaid) 1911 Silent film starring Annette Kellerman as the first mermaid in a film.
Neptune's Daughter 1914 Kellerman
A Daughter of the Gods 1916 Kellerman
Queen of the Sea 1918 Kellerman
Venus of the South Seas 1924 Kellerman
Miranda 1948 Starring Glynis Johns
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid 1948 Starring Ann Blyth
Million Dollar Mermaid 1952 Based on the life of Annette Kellerman.
Mad About Men 1954 Sequel to Miranda
Pekka ja Pätkä sammakkomiehinä (Pekka and Pätkä as Frogmen) 1954 In this Finnish Pekka Puupää comedy film, the heroes rescue a foundered mermaid and carry her to Pekka's apartment. They set her on the bathtub. Pekka's wife Justiina initially sees only her fish-tail and is initially surprised of "a big fish the menfolks have caught" and gets a knife to prepare her as a dinner, but she faints as she sees her upper body.
The Mermaids of Tiburon 1962 Starring Diane Webber, George Rowe, and Timothy Carey
Beach Blanket Bingo 1965 Starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and includes a sub-plot of the character Bonehead (Jody McCrea) falling for a mermaid portrayed by Lost in Space's Marta Kristen.
Head 1968 Starring The Monkees, briefly featured two mermaids in the opening "Porpoise Song" sequence, surrounded by psychedelic effects.
Local Hero 1984 Marine researcher Marina (Jenny Seagrove) is suspected by her love interest of being a mermaid.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 Mermaids appear briefly at the end of the story.
Splash 1984 Starring Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks, Hannah played a mermaid who fell in love with a man. She could walk on dry land in human form, but her legs changed into a fish tail whenever she got wet. Much of the movie revolves around her humorous attempts to conceal her true identity from her lover. A made-for-television sequel, Splash, Too[2] followed in 1988, starring Amy Yasbeck and Todd Waring.
Talk Dirty To Me Part III 1984 The third and fourth films in the adult film series Talk Dirty To Me feature mermaids who come ashore to find men. Just like in Splash, the mermaids can walk on dry land, and their legs become fish tails in water. The mermaid in 1984's Talk Dirty To Me Part III was played by then-16-year-old Traci Lords. When Lords' age became public knowledge in 1986, all of her films, including TDTM Part III, were pulled from the American market to avoid prosecution for distribution of child pornography. Lords' scenes were deleted from the film and were replaced with footage featuring Lisa DeLeeuw in the mermaid role. The edited version is called The New Talk Dirty To Me Part III and is the only version of the movie currently available. In the fourth film, Taija Rae played a mermaid from the same tribe as those in TDTM Part III, though her costume design was very different from those of the previous film. In TDTM Part III, the mermaid costumes were skintight, waist-high body stockings ending in fish tails. Rae's mermaid costume in TDTM Part IV was a bulky, chest-high construct that appeared to be fashioned from leaves, plastic daisies, and foam rubber scales.
The Little Mermaid 1989 Produced by Walt Disney Studios, portrays a variant of the story by Hans Christian Andersen about the mermaid that wished for legs. This film was followed by a prequel TV series, a direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea featuring the title character's daughter and a DTV prequel movie in 2008.
The Secret of Roan Inish 1994 Incorporates mysticism into the selkies and their fae children.
Mermaid Got Married 1994 Hong Kong romantic-comedy (based on Splash) tells the story of a school teacher who falls in love with a mermaid who'd rescued him as a young boy. The film stars Asian cinema idols Ekin Cheng, Christy Chung, and Takeshi Kaneshiro.
Magic Island 1995 Lily, a young mermaid, befriends a group of buccaneers and joins them on their quest for Blackbeard's treasure.
She Creature 2001 A villainous mermaid who seemed to have a taste for human flesh and lesbian tendencies.
Mermaids 2003 Erika Heynatz, Nikita Ager, and Sarah Laine are a trio of mermaids who solve their father's murder.
Mermaid in the Manhole ? A Tokyo-based shocked film centered around a decaying mermaid found living in the Tokyo sewer system. This is a very gruesome film in that it focuses on the mermaid's decay and subsequent death from exposure to toxic environment of the sewer
Fairytopia ? In this Barbie doll direct-to-video movie series, a sub-series called "Mermaidia" features a fairy that becomes a mermaid.
Aquamarine 2006 The title character is a mermaid (Sara Paxton) who is washed ashore after a violent storm. She decides to search for true love on land, and makes two good friends (Joanna "Jojo" Levesque and Emma Roberts) along the way.
Peter Pan 2003 Mermaids appear in a small segment: the narrator says they "are not like the mermaids in stories" though Wendy is thrilled by them. These mermaids have webbed fingers and markings on their faces. Peter asks them if Captain Hook has kidnapped John and Michael which the mermaids confirm. One of them also tries to drown Wendy.
Half Fish[3] ? Features two con artists trying to sell what they claim to be mermaid fetuses, until an actual mermaid shows up.


Mermaids have long been associated with music[citation needed], and much like that of Orpheus, the power of their singing voices is said to have had the ability to enthrall. Along with their legendary vanity, the hair-combing and mirrors, the association of mermaids with music is coupled with another association of a vocal nature: they are said to be able to confer verbal eloquence[citation needed], much like the Muses of the ancient Greek myths.[citation needed]

  • In the 18th century sea shanty, "The Keeper of the Eddystone Light", the singer's father is a lighthouse keeper and his mother is a mermaid.
  • Alexander von Zemlinsky's symphonic poem Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid), first performed in 1905 but then forgotten until its second performance in 1984, is based on Andersen's detailed fairy story. Zemlinsky briefly explained its plan to Arnold Schoenberg; a more detailed matching of story and music is provided by its second conductor, Peter Gülke.[4]
  • Finnish musician J. Karjalainen has made a song Merenneito ja minä (Mermaid and Me), where he describes a wonderful tour in the underwater kingdom with a mermaid with whom he had fallen in love. In the song he was able to breathe under water due the magic medicine the mermaid gave him.[citation needed]
  • Another Finnish song, Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (Brides of Log Driver) is about a mermaid, who falls in love with a skillful log driver. Unfortunately, he has already been engaged to a human woman. When the mermaid sees her love riding the rapids with his human bride, she in a burst of jealousy raises a rock off the river bed, drowning them both. Seeing them drown and die, she immediately regrets her deed, and in the end of the song she is left weeping alone on the rock.[citation needed]
  • Joanna Newsom's song Colleen tells the story of a girl from the sea who adapts to life on the land, but is plagued by dreams and memories of her past. The song is told from the perspective of the girl, and it is left open to interpretation whether or not she eventually returns.
  • The Death metal Virtual Band Dethklok have a song called Murmaider, which is about mermaid murder. In the second episode of the animated series Metalocalypse the band stated that fish had "no good metals to listens to" so they recorded an album called The DethWater Album. Murmaider appeared as the first track of the band's real life album The Dethalbum.
  • Sade appears as a love struck mermaid in the music video for her 1992 single No Ordinary Love.
  • The heavy metal opera project, Lyraka, features a story revolving around a "Mermaid Empire" [3].
  • Among the outrageous claims made in the Lonely Island song I'm On A Boat is the claim by T-Pain that he had sex with a mermaid. This is firmed up in the video, with the appearance of an African American mermaid in the background behind T-Pain as he sings this verse.


  • The Australian television series, H2O: Just Add Water (2006), involves three teenage girls who, after encountering a mysterious island grotto, transform into mermaids whenever water touches any part of their bodies.
  • In the television series Baywatch (1989–2001), Marliece Andrada played a mermaid in the episode Rendezvous.
  • In the Japanese tokusatsu television sub-genre Super Sentai (and its Americanized counterpart Power Rangers), there are a few mermaid based elements:
    • Dengeki Sentai Changeman (1985) - the design theme for the heroes of which was mythological creatures- Sayaka Nagisa (actress Hiroko Nishimoto) transformed into a white-colored ranger called Change Mermaid. Some of her attacks were based on underwater movement.
    • The short Hikari Sentai Maskman movie (1987) features a mermaid named Lelai, who is tricked into using her beautiful singing voice to create earthquakes that would destroy the world.
    • Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue (2000) - Blue Ranger Chad Lee befriends and falls in love with a mermaid named Marina (actress Kamera Walton). She appears in only two episodes, Ocean Blue and Neptune's Daughter; the second time forced to lure the Lightspeed Rangers into a trap. (No mermaid appeared in the previous original 1999 Japanese series, Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo-V.)
    • Mahou Sentai MagiRanger (2005) - Urara Ozu (actress Asami Kai) harnessed the power of the water Heavenly Saint Splagel, who is a mermaid; thus, Urara's MagiMajin form is MagiMermaid (whose legs can merge together to allow her to swim underwater). However, when she upgrades half way through the series into her Legend form, her body joins with her two older brothers and younger sister's to form the Legendary Majuu MagiLion. Then in Power Rangers: Mystic Force which aired the following year, Madison Rocca (actress Melanie Vallejo) is the Blue Mystic Force Ranger. She draws her powers from an ancient titan who was shaped as a mermaid. Since the giant monster battle footage from PRMystic Force is taken directly from MagiRanger, Madison's giant Mystic Mermaid form mirrors that of Urara's MagiMermaid.
      • Madison's name is no doubt an intentional pun and tip of the hat since that was the name of the popular and famous mermaid character played by Daryl Hannah in the 1984 film Splash.
  • In an episode of Charmed (1998–2006), a mermaid (Jaime Pressly) enlists the help of main character Phoebe Halliwell (actress Alyssa Milano) against a sea witch and in wooing the mermaid's true love. Phoebe turns into a mermaid later and is only turned back into a human after Cole convinced her humanity is better. In this version, mermaids were immortal, had a physical need to be by water, and most did not love.
  • In Taiwanese Fantasy series Legend of Heaven & Earth which shows various stories and legends from Asian mythology 1 season depicts a story somewhat similar to Han Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid in where the main protagonist is the Mermaid daughter of a undersea Sorceress who is trapped in a conch shell for centuries until freed and while disguised as other Humans explores the outside world and falls in love with one of 3 princely sons. The rest of the story is how she manages to protect both her love and the Undersea land that she comes from. The Series was shown on AZN Television shortly before the networks cancellation in 2007.
  • In Pokémon, Ash Ketchum's friend Misty appears as a mermaid with longer hair decorated in white pearls with red earrings on her ears, a periwinkle-beaded necklace around her neck, an aqua-colored tail with a yellow star on her hip and pink shells used for a bra. This appearance is seen in two episodes; "The Misty Mermaid" from Pokémon: Indigo League and "Cerulean Blues" from Pokémon Chronicles.
  • Dyesebel is a drama-fantasy series based on Mars Ravelo's creation in GMA Network in the Philippines. Marina is also drama-fantasy series in ABS CBN and Marinara is a comedy-fantasy show in GMA Network.
  • In the anime Bakugan, Klaus's guardian Bakugan, Sirenoid, is a mermaid.
  • Also, in an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, Treat Williams and Pam Dawber helped stage a production of The Little Mermaid that followed Andersen's story much closer than the Disney film that came out three years later.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory episode "Ocean Commotion",While the Family Visit in the Beach, Dee Dee (Who was in a Mermaid costume) gets kidnapped by some maniac sailors and Dexter and Moby Dick are the only one to save her.A parody of Disney's The Little Mermaid , Moby Dick and ETC.
  • In the new 2007 Anime Seto no Hanayome Plot Summary, A boy named Nagasumi Michishio gets saved by a mermaid named Sun Seto, but it is the mermaid's law, when a human sees a mermaid's true form, the human or the mermaid has to be killed. The only way to solve this problem for him is to marry her.
  • In the television series Fantasy Island, mermaids are occasionally depicted as being in conflict with Mr. Rourke (Ricardo Montalban).


  1. John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Mermaids" p 639 ISBN 0-312-19869-8
  2. Splash, Too (1988) (TV)
  3. Half Fish
  4. Peter Gülke, "Zemlinski: The Mermaid: An Introduction", booklet for the compact disc of Zemlinsky's Die Seejungfrau and Psalm XIII (London: Decca, 1987).