Our Mermaids Are Different

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Mermaid, oh murmur into my ear
The answers to questions I'm longing to hear;
Does it relax you to hear the sound of the land?
Do you, O mermaid, have slightly webbed hands?"

Mermaids, or more generally merfolk, crop up quite a lot in fiction. However, like most mythical creatures and monsters, they are a little different every time and have different rules applied to them. Their dispositions, morality, and alliances vary depending on the author, and whether or not they can become human is a question everyone answers differently. Even their general appearance isn't fixed: see the picture.

Appearance: Merfolk are generally portrayed as beautiful women (mermaids) or handsome men (mermen) with fish- or dolphin-like tails in place of legs. Sometimes they are not so pretty, but still fall under the Cute Monster Girl heading. Others are more blatantly sea-creatures with few human characteristics and are quite ugly. For example, the Harry Potter merman (mermaid?) pictured. Sometimes they have features reminiscent of other, more exotic seas-creatures, and sometimes they are sea-animals that become human-like under certain circumstances.

Some joke that merfolk have the fish half on top instead of on the bottom in order to resolve "the Mermaid Problem". Mermaids who are more human-looking (and modest) tend to wear Seashell Bras. And then there's underwater folk like Aquaman, Namor the Submariner, The Man From Atlantis etc. who look like normal humans for the most part but can survive and breathe underwater and may have some odd physical adaptations that are well-hidden until they return to the sea. It should also be noted that most mermaids have the "fish half" in a cetacean (horizontal fluke) configuration, rather than a fish's vertical configuration, since this is closer to how an actual human swims, though exceptions exist. Of course, cetaceans are mammals which have evolved to an aquatic lifestyle, so this is probably fair enough.

Merperson to Human: Sometimes merpeople can turn into humans, or vice versa, under certain circumstances. The way this is done and differences in the "rules" surrounding this are numerous:

  • The Splash Method: The mermaid can become human when they are dry and turn back when wet. Sometimes this is something all merpeople can do, and sometimes there are limits on how long they can do it.
  • The Little Mermaid Method: The mermaid invokes a magic spell which allows them to turn human. Sometimes, this is at a hefty cost. In the original Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, it's the titular character's voice; the sea-witch responsible expects payment, and specifies, "the best thing you possess will I have for the price of my draught.". May be combined with the above.
  • The Fredericka Bimm Method: Mermaids can switch forms more or less at will. Unlike the Splash method, getting doused with water is not a problem.
  • The Magical Item Method: Common in some mythologies but, curiously, not often utilized in modern fiction. The Mermaid has a magical item which allows her to change from one form to another. Some of these items are obvious; a Selkie needs her shed seal-skin to return to her home in the sea. Others are... kind of random; a Merrow needs a hat made of red feathers to (depending on which variant on the legend you are reading) return to the sea or assume human form.
  • And of course, some mermaids don't possess shapeshifting abilities at all—no matter how much they may want to change, the half-fish appearance is their default, permanent form.

Good or Evil?: Sometimes mermaids are portrayed as evil seductresses (sometimes called devil fish) who lure sailors to their deaths (this is based on the myths of sirens which were originally birdwomen but who are generally portrayed as mermaids these days due to language confusion). In most mythologies, they display the inscrutable and sometimes dangerous amorality of The Fair Folk, especially if mermaids are treated as marine fae. Sometimes they are good but flirty and mischievous. Sometimes they are mostly innocent and naive. Sometimes they are honorable, and of these, several resent us for treating their ocean home so badly for so long. Sometimes (just sometimes) they are just like us and have all sorts of personas. Very often, though not always, they are Tsundere, or even outright Yandere types. Octopus or Squid-based mermaids (sometimes called cilophytes or cecaelia) are usually portrayed as evil, probably owing to the influence of Disney's sea-witch Ursula, or perhaps because of the "alien" nature of tentacles.

Most merfolk can communicate with fish and sea creatures, regardless of whether they eat them or not. Expect merfolk to remain naked no matter how deep they swim or how little protection their skin has, though their bodies might have some unseen protection against the cold and high pressure of the depths.

Unscaled Merfolk is a Sub-Trope, where the non-human parts are not a scaled fish.

See also Mermaid Problem, Shapeshifting Lover, The Fair Folk, Sirens Are Mermaids and Friendly Playful Dolphin, Heroic Dolphin and Sapient Cetacean.

May occasionally overlap with Fish People, though they are generally more of an anthropomorphic fusion than a half-and-half mix.

Examples of Our Mermaids Are Different include:

Anime and Manga

"That's the scenario from The Little Mermaid, isn't it?"

  • Bluebell from Katekyo Hitman Reborn has a box weapon which turns her into a shonisaurus/human hybrid that resembles a mermaid. However, she doesn't seem to have heard of Seashell Bras and is instead covered up by her hair (not that there's much to cover up).
  • Digimon Frontier: One of the antagonists, Ranamon, is a Human Hybrid Fairy Digimon with control over water. Despite not displaying the typical mermaid traits (human torso and fish tail), she definitely constitutes being a mermaid. She has a large fanbase among Digimon due to her attractive appearance, but this changes when she digivolves into her hideous, tentacled beast form, Calmaramon. Her benevolent Mega form, Ancientmermaimon, is more typical of a mermaid.
  • Level E has mermaids with the rather unusual power to detect any attempt to lie to them... by their tongue involuntarily shooting out and stabbing the liar to death. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop them from being sold into sex slavery and pretty much wiped out, because a loophole is found to evade the ability, but the mermaids don't realize it.
  • Isma from Berserk is introduced as a lonely, genki fisher-girl whose lack of nudity taboo borders on Innocent Fanservice Girl category. Unlike the typical mermaid, Isma appears unaware of the fact that she isn't human and claims that she isn't even sure that mermaids exist, though readers catch on fairly quickly to the subtle hint that something else is going on in the ominous style true to this series [dead link]. Later, it turns out that she didn't lie about being unaware of what she is. What's more, her cheerful and kind self really was her true personality, which is quite a surprise considering the setting.
  • Hekikai no AiON: The mermaids need to sate themselves with psique, which is only obtained by killing people with tsunamis or earthquakes. In-Universe, they're responsible for the sinking of Atlantis, Mu and the destruction of Pompeii, and they are the primal prey of the protagonist. Also, apparently, one of the mermaids can use "The Splash Method" to walk on land, having a fish tail in the water.
  • The titular 'mermaids' of Kaizoku to Ningyou, which are actually a race of demi-humans whose hair appears white on land and only reverts to its true color when doused with seawater. They are extraordinarily rare In-Universe and are frequently targetted for human trafficking on the black market. However, aside from their hair, there is very little separating them from humanity. Not to mention, the only member of this rare subspecies we've met so far is male.

Comic Books

  • Superman's ex, Lori Lemaris, is a mermaid (it's... complicated) who lived on land by using a wheelchair and keeping her tail covered. Eventually she was magically given the power to turn into a human (any contact with water changes her back, though.)
  • In Teen Titans Go, the comic adaptation of the Animated Adapatation of Teen Titans, Gill Girl is a Fish Person who, unlike most, isn't human-looking enough to be your typical hot mermaid. She is tearing up the city searching for her mate... revealed to be a normal, non-anthropomorphic turtle. Other than her (and we don't get her story) most Atlanteans are of the Aquaman/Aqualad entirely human-looking style (except for the solid-black eyes, in Aqualad's case [purple-irised in the original comics].)
    • Gill Girl was possibly inspired by The DCU character Lagoon Boy, who was introduced in Erik Larsen's Aquaman run as a representative of one of various oceanic humanoid races who comprised Atlantis' minority groups (merfolk and Aquaman-type humanoids being the majority). L.B. is basically a teenage version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, with the ability to expand like a puffer fish.
  • Marvel Comics Atlanteans, and various subraces, are an interesting example. Their appearance generally depends on what continuity is active at the time. In the Silver Age, Marvel Atlanteans were the human inhabitants of Atlantis until it sank, whereupon they were turned into blue-skinned water breathers by the god Neptune. In earlier comics, the men looked like fishmen and they weren't actually from Atlantis. When Namor was reintroduced in the 1960s with the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby retconned the Submariners (what they used to call Namor's mother's race) to Atlanteans as water breathing blue skinned people. Hybrids apparently can breathe air, are stronger than either race, and can fly with wings on their feet. There were also green-skined fish-men who were the later Lemurian offshoot, mutated by the snake-god they worshiped.
    • Namor is the only one with the wings though, and that's because, in addition to being a Half-Human Hybrid, he is also a mutant.
  • Cross Gen's Scion has a variety of humanoid sea-dwellers who were descended from a genetically-engineered servant species, but had broken free and lived in an Underwater City. They were smallish, gray humanoids with two legs and gills.
    • And their leaders (?) look like giant, luminescent brine shrimp. No, I'm not joking.
  • In Gold Digger, Atlanteans are humanoid amphibious aliens with dolphin-like skin, gills, and small fins on their arms and legs to assist in swimming.
  • Meat Cake has Effluvia, a beautiful but slutty mermaid who flirts with sailors—and then lures them to their deaths and turns their souls into jewelery. She travels about on land with a wheelchair, usually.
  • Abe Sapien in Hellboy is basically a gill-man. A good-natured, erudite, streamlined gill-man.
  • The Elf Quest spin-off Wave Dancers played with this in several ways. (The "mermaids" were space elves modified by magic to live in the water. Exactly how they were modified varied wildly.)
    • One of the females is the octopus variation, but not shunned or evil. Her lower half looks like a hoop skirt made of tentacles.
  • Fathom is about a race of beings who can turn into water or use it as a weapon, among other things.
  • In Nightmares and Fairy Tales, a character ends up pregnant after messing with a mermaid. When he complains, another character points out that it wouldn't have happened if he'd simply left the creature alone.

Fan Works


  • Any of the many, many, derivatives of The Little Mermaid always use "The Little Mermaid Method" of course.
    • The most famous being Disney's, which features a time limitation (three days), a price (like always, her voice), and a clause which means Ariel turns into a polyp if she can't get Eric to kiss her in time. Note that this is all due to Ursula's plot; it's not a limitation of the spell (either that or Triton has more powerful magic).
    • There was also Ursula herself, who had an octopus bottom despite supposedly being related to Ariel and Triton.
    • Ursula being Ariel's aunt was left out of the final film and the sequel seems to follow this with her sister Morgana having the same tentacle bottom.
    • When Ariel appears in Ralph Breaks the Internet she seems able to magically switch her human legs for her mermaid tail when she needs to - obviously a case of New Powers as the Plot Demands.
  • Interestingly, the mermaids in Disney's Peter Pan are of the "dangerously amoral" type, especially for its time. Their shell bras are much more "realistic" than Ariel's, which comes later; they're not held on by any straps, they're just sea-creatures attached to the mermaids' chests. One of them is quite obviously only covered by a flower lei, and another by her hair. When Wendy meets them, they attack her. When Peter calls them on this, one of them protests, "We were only trying to drown her!" By the time The Little Mermaid came around, Disney had toned down its mermaids quite a bit, and no one seems to remember the ones from Peter Pan.
  • Splash, obviously.
  • The film version of Aquamarine follows "The Splash Method" - but see Literature below.
  • Made for TV Movie Sabrina, Down Under has a merperson colony. It follows "The Little Mermaid Method"; no payment but there is a time limitation on Sabrina's spell which turns merman Barnaby human.
  • Dagon starts with the protagonist having a dream about a classic mermaid, only that it turns out she had sharp teeth. Later in the movie, he meets that mermaid... but she does not look like a typical mermaid or have the fangs she had in the dream. She looks like a human with gills along her ribs and a long, squid-like tentacle in place of each leg.
    • She was also his half-sister and wanted him to marry her. Yay Lovecraft.
  • The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Now, now, he is ugly and lives in The Amazon rather than the sea—but he IS still technically a merman.
  • The Made-for-PAX-TV Movie Mermaids (not to be confused with the 1980s Cher vehicle - which has nothing to do with mermaids) features the "Splash Method," with an added complication: the protagonists also turn into mermaids at low tide every night.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas has an "Underwater Gal" as a scene-stealing minor character. She is essentially a Mermaid-as-Monster-Girl.
  • The 2003 film version of Peter Pan featured mermaids that look to simply be beautiful half-naked women with fish-tails; you don't notice the claws and the needle-sharp teeth at first.
  • The live-action film Hook, which has Peter Pan revisiting Neverland as an adult, has a brief scene with a trio of mermaids. They appear as half-beautiful woman, half-fish creatures with brightly-colored hair, each giving Peter a kiss to give him air before sending him up to the Lost Boys' camp in a giant oyster.
  • Ben Stiller appears as a merman in a TV commercial from Zoolander.
  • "She Creature" (aka "Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature") is an example of evil and ugly (sometimes) merfolk.
  • The Made for TV Movie The Thirteenth Year has its mermaids and mermen appear as normal human children up until their 13th birthday, upon which they begin to go through a fishy puberty where they acquire a mishmash of marine animal abilities. In addition to becoming able to swim very well and hold his breath underwater for several minutes, the lead character starts to grow scales on his arms, discovers he can scale walls thanks to octopus powers, and discovers he can produce electricity thanks to electric eel heritage. And this is all before his legs become a fishy tail. That still doesn't explain why he swims like a dolphin rather than any normal stroke (he is on his high school swim team) before the transformation.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean features pretty naked women with fishtails...who also have fangs and will rape you (given that there's no men, it's apparently the only way they can supply their numbers) and eat you until there's nothing left. If you're lucky, you drown before the latter happens. But ignoring that, they can be very nice.
    • They are also strong enough that in large groups they can tear an entire wooden ship apart in moments.
    • Their fins can turn into legs if on land, but they don't do this very often, so they aren't very good at at it. Also, despite being aquatic creatures, they need air to breath. But will apparently dry out and die if left out of water for too long.
    • They can also shoot seaweed out of their hands like Spider-Man.
  • There's a running joke in The Cabin in the Woods about one character's desire to see a "merman." His partner replies, "Why? Those things are terrifying." It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In the Animal Planet Horror "Documentary" film Mermaid: The Body Found, merpeople are descended from primates that took to the water, and so look like a cross between a primitive human and a dolphin, and speak a very unusual language.


  • Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, of course. In the original tale, mermaids lived three hundred years before turning into sea foam; they did not have immortal souls and could not acquire one except through marriage to a human, which would give them the right to share in the human destiny. The Sea Witch required her most precious possession - her unusually fine voice - as payment for the transformation spell, since it required the Witch's own blood, and the voice was not refundable; the Sea Witch cut out her tongue. The transformation was very painful, as though she had been cut with a sword, and she was warned up front that forever afterward, every step she took would feel as though she were treading on knives. She was also warned that if the prince married someone else, her heart would break and she would turn to sea foam just as if she had lived out her full three hundred years.
    • At the VERY end, the mermaid who wanted a soul dies and becomes an air spirit who can earn a soul by 100 years of good deeds - with the Anvilicious remark that an air spirit's time may be reduced if she sees well-behaved children who make her smile, or increased if she sees wicked children who make her weep.
    • Arguably, the Disney version is the more sadistic and power-hungry version of the sea-witch, placing not only a time limit on the spell, but planning to ruin the mermaid's chance at happiness herself and steal the kingdom to boot. The original witch is neither good nor evil, and warns the mermaid of the consequences presented by the deal she wishes to make.
    • The witch provides the only way out of the spell to the mermaid's concerned sisters: a special knife for her to kill the prince in order to splash his heart's blood over her legs, reverting them to their fishtail form. The knife was much cheaper—all of her sisters' hair!
  • In the Ingo Young Adult books by Helen Dunmore, the Mer (don't call them Mermaids, Mermen, or Merfolk) are described as half-human, half-seal. They can't become human but humans can become Mer apparently. They don't like humans very much, except for the Half Human Hybrids with whom they can communicate.
  • In Four Kids, Three Cats, Two Cows, One Witch (Maybe) Kevin tells Beverly a story about a family of merpeople where the father gets fed up of being neglected by his family and leaves to marry a human woman. He loses his tail because of this but is able to regain it at night time.
  • The original, printed page Aquamarine, by Alice Hoffman, centers around a Mermaid who is stranded in a swimming pool after a storm. She's a bit self-centered, but eventually realises she will need the help of the only humans who know about her if she is ever to return home and to her sisters. She cannot transform into a human at all. The rescue actually takes some time and effort—enough time for Aquamarine to develop a crush on a human man...
  • There's also Indigo, also by Helen Dunmore, which is about two Half-Human Hybrid boys, who have webbing between their fingers and toes, can hold their breath for a very long time, drink salt water, love eating fish, and constantly daydream about the ocean. Their mother was a traditional mermaid with a tail instead of legs, however.
  • The Emily Windsnap books also use "The Splash Method".
    • It's also worth mentioning they have pockets in their tail.
  • MaryJanice Davidsons' Fred the Mermaid erotica/paranormal romance has Fredericka Bimm as a lead character. She and the other mermaids in the series can simply become human at will.
  • Harry Potter establishes that the Merpeople who live in and around the British Isles are quite ugly. The spin-off media book Fantastic Creatures And Where To Find Them mentions that the Mediterranean Merfolk are better looking, as seen with the mermaid painting in the books. So there are Different Mermaids in-universe.
  • You don't get much more different than Feejee the Mermaid (heh) in Tales of MU. She can change at will between three forms: standard lady-half/fishie-half mermaid, an intermediate form with a distinctly humanoid lower half covered in scales, and fully human-like. She can also assume a sort of fighting form by growing scale-armor all over her body and claws on her hands. It's implied she can also change her face to a... less appealing form. Oh, and she eats people.
    • In fact, it's fairly strongly implied that merfolk in that universe basically are intelligent predatory fish with the magical ability to take on shapes more appealing to humanoids as a lure! They even have a myth about their goddess inspiring the land-dwellers to build ships for the express purpose of providing them with food...
    • Shapeshifting allows Feegee to overcome the Mermaid Problem with her boyfriend, though only for recreation. Mermaids actually reproduce in a more fishy way. They spawn.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's enigmatic Deep Ones are supposed to be the truth-behind-the-myth of mermaids. They're immortal, extremely unattractive... and they can mate with humans. The offspring are born effectively human, but undergo a slow metamorphosis.
    • Humans are willing to do this for huge amounts of gold, sharing of knowledge of Black Magic, and because the offspring never grow old (Carrying on my family by making immortal kids? I'll put a bag over her head!)
      • Worth noting as well that this is something of a bait and switch deal. The humans are given treasures and powers in exchange for minor deeds up until the deep ones are sure that their chosen human is completely dependent on them, then comes the proposition.
        • Deep One hybrids can retain their human appearance for decades before undergoing the transformation, long enough for themselves to interbreed with humans and pass along the Deep One gene.
  • Peter S. Beagle wrote a short story called Salt Wine where a merman rewards a sailor who rescued him by giving him the recipe for salt wine. It makes him rich, but then it turns out that a small number of those who drink it become transformed into mer-creatures themselves. Here, mermaids are portrayed as wild and inhuman, and they range from supernaturally hideous to supernaturally beautiful.
  • John Ringo's Council Wars features mermen and mermaids created by genetic engineering. They look like traditional merfolk but have a unique physiology combining fish and dolphin traits. They also find it hard to survive in the ocean after the loss of technology reduces them to a stone-age hunter-gatherer society.
  • Another very different—though friendlier—variation are Vonda McIntyre's "divers", who appear in several of her works. Imagine people with some sea-lion-like traits engineered in, plus lungs modified for use in either air or water. That's the short description. (They're also usually described as attractive...and decidedly not subject to the Mermaid Problem.)
    • McIntyre's historical fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun has the sea people, who have hind limbs adapted for swimming instead of fish tails, as well as webbed fingers and claws. They also have an anatomical adaptation (just like that of the divers, only they come by it naturally rather than being genetically engineered) that allows them to breathe water as well as air. And their language consists of songs.
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series does the Voluntary Shapeshifting route, while his standalone book Mercycle uses genetically modified descendants of normal humans, in whom the structure of human legs (complete with * ahem* equipment) is hidden within the tail.
    • Thea, in Mute, is a mutant with legs fused from the knee down and flipperlike feet. And yes, she averts the Mermaid Problem quite handily.
  • The post-apocalyptic mermaids in Alida Van Gores' Mermaid's Song come in two varieties: Mirra (traditional) and Mog (more fish-like). The Mirra have dolphin-like tails (and reproductive organs) and constitute an oppressed minority. Unusually, neither species can transform, since humans appear to be extinct and the surface world doesn't figure into the story much at all.
  • The Cray from China Mieville's The Scar are essentially lobster-bodied centaurs (lobtaurs?).
  • In Kai Meyer's first installment of the Dark Reflections Trilogy, The Water Mirror, the mermaids who inhabit Venice appear to be normal-looking women with fish tails- until you notice that their mouths are larger, longer, and filled with very sharp teeth.
  • In Paul Jennings' short story Nails, merfolk can interbreed with humans, but the offspring look perfectly human up until their teens. Then their fingernails and toenails start to apparently multiply... these are actually developing scales, and when the process is complete, the hybrid has become a new merperson, legs fusing together into a tail which, like their arms, is covered in scales.
    • To be more exact, the mermen have legs but are covered in scales up to their necks while mermaids are just traditional merfolk, so only a female half-breed's legs would fuse.
  • K?b? Abe's short story Ningyoden (Mermaid Legend) is about a man falling in love with a flesh-eating mermaid. There's also some cloning involved. Since his work was influenced by Franz Kafka it's also a Mind Screw.
  • Three examples from the work of Jack Chalker:
  • L Sprague De Camp features mermaids in several fantasy stories. In all of them (even ones in different continuities) the mermaids are part dolphin, rather than part fish. They are also streamlined for swimming, so the females breasts are generally smaller than those typically portrayed in mermaid art. The mermaids are fairly friendly: in one story ("Nothing in the Rules") one is even paid to enter a swim meet.
  • Merfolk appear briefly in the Narnia series. The ones on the coast of Narnia can leave the water for short periods and attend the coronation at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; later, out in the deep oceans in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy encounters a wilder breed who (they deduce) stay submerged all the time. Notably in the latter case CS Lewis points out that from the point of view of underwater people, mountains and valleys' characteristics are reversed - mountains are the warm civilised areas near the surface, valleys are the mysterious dark areas populated by monsters. Another difference between the sea people that live near the coast of Narnia and the ones in the deep oceans is that coastal merfolk are portrayed as traditional mermaids and mermen with human heads, arms, and torsos, and long green fishtails beelow the waist, with the merfolk of the Eastern Sea are bipedal with regular human legs. (At least according to the illustrations.).
  • Alastair Reynolds wrote about "Denizens" in his Revelation Space series; the Denizens were created by genetic engineering and are thorough fusions of human and fish DNA, along with sequences to secrete antifreeze and let them breathe hydrogen sulfide instead of oxygen. They look thoroughly monstrous.
  • In The Merman's Children by Poul Anderson merfolk are humanoid, with bluegreen skin, webbed hands and feet, gills and attractive enough that one of them seduces a human woman and has children by her.
  • In the Doctor Who tie-in spin off Genius Loci one of the characters tells Bernice Summerfield a gruesome mermaid story in which a fisherman, with a fine sense of the pragmatic, chops a mermaid in two and takes the fish half home as his catch of the day. The bifurcated mermaid turns out to have been the daughter of the queen of the mermaids and hilarity ensues.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, Aekon thinks he has been underwater too long because he is hallucinating a merman come to claim his life and carry off his soul. Then he realizes that it looks just like one of his squad-mates, and then he realizes it is the Space Marine in question, come to ensure that he survives.
  • Goosebumps: Deep Trouble - The main character is rescued by a mermaid before it is captured and almost sold to a zoo by the mean humans.
  • In Andrei Belianin's Thief of Baghdad, the main character (Fish Out of Temporal Water with Laser-Guided Amnesia) and his friend Nasreddin encounter a mermaid, who will only help them if one of them satisfies her. The main character, recognizing the Mermaid Problem promptly passes the "honor" to Nasreddin. After some time, Nasreddin returns with a smile. When asked, he is surprised that his companion doesn't know that mermaids briefly turn into humans when they want to "get it on".
  • In John C. Wright's Fugitives of Chaos, Amelia speaks of sailors who brought back mermaid wives—whose tails transformed when their wedding bells rang.
  • Kit Whitfield's Deepmen in In Great Waters are air breathing (although they can stay under for up to 30 minutes) mammals with tails, notably less intelligent than humans, although they have a language it's limited to purely practical matters, abstract concepts like religion being alien to them and can breed with humans. In fact all the royal houses of Europe (and possibly the world) have some Deepman blood.
  • "The Mermaid's Madness" by Jim C. Hines features a proud tribe of merfolk (they prefer the term "Undine") who appear to be of the standard human-on-top, fish-on-bottom variety. Members of the nobility of this tribe differ however, in that they have two tails (bypassing the Mermaid Problem quite nicely.)
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Pool of the Black Ones", the arrival of a man on the deck of a ship at sea raises the question whether he's a merman. No, it's Conan. He's just been swimming for a while.
  • The Star Trek Novel Verse has the Alonis, an aquatic race who resemble merfolk. That is, their upper half is vaguely humanoid and the lower half is a fish-like tail. They don't have hair, being scaly all over, and their "arms" are actually just lengthy fins, but the merfolk comparison is made. Lacking opposable digits, they used their telekinetic control of water to build an advanced civilization. They appear in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch, Star Trek: The Lost Era, Star Trek: Typhon Pact and elsewhere.
  • In a fantasy book called Elsewhere, mermaids apparently swim in the ocean that's in between the world of the living and the dead (It Makes Sense in Context). They briefly appear when the main character is trapped under the water, unable to move or breathe. They are beautiful, but vain and meanspirited, making fun of how ugly she is before leaving her to drown. They seem more like the Fair Folk than evil though.
  • Sarah Porter's Lost Voices has a rather dark and unique take on mermaids. Certain young human girls have the potential to come back as mermaids after death, if they suffered severe abuse or neglect in their human lives. When these girls die, they are resurrected as beautiful mermaids with fish tails and enchanting voices that can entrance or madden humans. These mermaids are ageless, though not completely immortal, and all still traumatized from what they endured in life. They sink ships and drown people as revenge against all of humanity for what was done to them by parents/caretakers and other people in their previous lives. They form tribes in the oceans (this is for survival, as they can still be killed by humans, sharks, etc. and still need to eat, though they can survive on raw shellfish) and have strict laws against having any contact with humans other than singing them to their doom. Once transformed, they can't survive out of the water for long, and if trapped on dry land, they will revert to human form and then die. It is implied that certain young men and boys have the same kind of potential if badly treated in life, but attempts to transform them are usually unsuccessful.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, several mermaids play minor roles. We are told that one recovered Hector of Troy's sword, Duranadel, to be given to Roland.
  • The Ustredi in Chronicles of Magravandias. They are not dissimilar to The Fair Folk. Some are just straight-up Fish People and some are so beautiful it hurts to look at them. The beautiful ones are the most dangerous. The Palindrake family has the ability to command the Ustredi through means of an ancient contract.
  • Mermaids appear in the third book in Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel "The Sorceress". They are the daughters of Nereus, the Old Man of the Sea who has the octopus bottom but they all have fish tails. Josh notes that some are beautiful women while others resemble fish and crabs. They all have green skin and sharp teeth and claws (hint: they're not on the side of good) as well as having apparent powers through singing. Virginia Dare is attacked by one and claims to have stolen her voice, leaving her mute and then implies Nereus will "dispose of her" since she is useless to him now.

Live Action TV

  • The Australian series H₂O: Just Add Water is about three girls who, after finding their way to a mysterious island, turn into mermaids following "The Splash Method" after swimming in a Magical Pool during a full moon. They also have powers over water: one can freeze it at will, one a can boil it at will, and the other essentially is a water bender (also she can multiply it from a drop to a bucket).
  • The Man From Atlantis looks like a human but has webbed digits, can breathe underwater, and can withstand extreme depths and pressures.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf when the characters are in a Virtual Reality Program Cat creates himself a Mermaid girlfriend. She's a reverse mermaid with the fish part on top.

Holly: Somehow, I'd imagined she'd be a woman on the top and a fish on the bottom.
Cat: No, that's the stupid way around!

  • The short lived Pirate Sitcom Captain Butler had the eponymous Captain (played by Craig Charles) almost marry a mermaid till he found out he'd become a reverse merman if he did.
  • In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Chad falls in love with a mermaid who can become human as needed but will die if she is away from water for too long.
  • In Round the Twist, "Nails" Linda falls in love with a boy who seemingly has a strange disease which causes him to grow extra fingernails and lose the use of his legs. It turns out he is slowly (and irreversibly) turning into a merman as his mother is a mermaid. This was, like all of the episodes in the first two seasons, based on a Paul Jennings short story- in this case, Nails.
  • One episode of So Weird features a merman who turns human at will and can remain human even in water, though he's got webbed fingers. There's some sense of urgency to his plan to seduce Molly, which may or may not point to a time limit. He also appears to have the power to turn humans into merfolk.
    • A weirder, later episode featured a man who is implied to have turned into a merman by force of will - the valley he lived in was flooded and he refused to leave. By sheer determination, he gained gills and webbed hands so he could remain in his house.
  • A "mermaid" (technically, one of a group of people genetically-modified to survive deep underwater) appeared in an episode of SeaQuest DSV. She was of the bordeline-Cute Monster Girl variety; she didn't have any blatant sea-creature features but sported a set of gills along her rib-cage and webbed digits. She also felt very uncomfortable outside the water. And, out of all the people onboard Sea-Quest, she got along the very best with Darwin.
  • Charmed mermaids have "hearts as cold as the ocean". Phoebe was turned into one. They are also immortal. They can live for hundreds of years but they really don't care since they have cold hearts. They also can't turn into humans willingly. One makes a deal with a sea witch to get legs for 30 days to find love. While this is happening she still turns back into her normal form whenever her legs get wet. A human man professing his love for a mermaid turns her human permanently.
  • And, of course, The Flight Of The Conchords mention many of these Mermaid tropes in their Mermaid song.
  • One of the (supposedly) main characters of Sanctuary is a mermaid of the human head/fish tail type. We don't know if she is able to transform, but not likely considering her habitat is water as is that of her race. Also have a type of telepathy to communicate with the members
  • Dark Angel': "Gill Girl" featured genetically-engineered mermaid and merman equivalents. They looked mostly human, but had the gills of fish and the echolocation of dolphins.
  • The Torchwood episode "From out of the Rain" featured Pearl, said by the Ghostmaker to be "the closest thing you'll ever see to a living mermaid". She didn't have a tail or gills, but could live in water, glistened like she was wet all the time, and liked to drink tears.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva features Basshaa, the Last of His Kind of a race of Gill Man-like creatures, who usually assumes the form of a young boy named Ramon. Thanks to a pact with the title character's father, he can loan his power to Kiva, turning the Rider into a Glass Cannon armed with a gun that fires high-power water bullets (which also causes Kiva to act somewhat childish, like Basshaa/Ramon). The Mermen are also a One-Gender Race, with the backstory mentioning a Mermaid race that resembles the traditional mermaid, and that the two races have to mate with one another.
  • In the second series of Primeval, the team encounter a race of aggressive futuristic sea creatures bearing resemblance to a cross between baboons and elephant seals. Word of God reveals the creatures are called "Mer" and they're descended from primates. To support this theory, they have well developed vocal chords and arms rather than flippers. They also sing, although to Connor it sounds more like something he once heard in Glastonbury in a "chill-out" tent.
  • A new Mockumentary Mermaids: The Body Found is about merfolk that are the fourth or fifth (depending on whether or not the "Killer Chimpanzee" is real and an actual seperate species) of the descendants of the common chimpanzee/bonobo/ancestor.


It was Friday night, when we set sail
And we were not far from the land,
When the captain spied a lovely mermaid
With a comb and a brush in her hand, hand, hand,
With a comb and a brush in her hand.

  • "The Keeper of the Eddystone Light".

Newspaper Comics

  • Safe Havens has Remora, who has taught us a lot of unexpected things about merfolk over the years. For example, they use bubbles for currency. Not sure what they use for a wallet.
    • They also have the option of either being a merperson 24 hours a day or splitting their time between being a human for half the day and a fish the other half.

Tabletop RPG

  • Rifts manages to pull off just about all Mer-types. In addition to the traditional mermaid/man, you also have random aquatic species, and the Amphibs, human mutants who range in appearance from Black Lagoon-like to Fish-headed.
  • Changeling: The Dreaming has the Seelie Merfolk and the Unseelie Murdhuacha (pronounced mer-RU-ka). The Merfolk are what one generally thinks about when one thinks mermaid: their lower halfs are of various bony fish (except for House Melsinee, who instead take the form of air-breathing marine mammals and reptiles). The Murdhuacha are merged with crustaceans, mollusks, and other seagoing invertebrates. When either Kith takes to land, their lower halves automatically turn into legs and they resemble Sidhe with their otherworldly beauty.
    • There's also a bit of Nightmare Fuel, as the Merfolk and Murdhuacha are trying to fight off the game's constantly-oppressive force of Banality. Any changeling who succumbs to Banality loses all access to their fae abilities and forgets all about their second life. Imagine being one of them, and coming to in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean... about five hundred feet down.
  • There are merfolk in Dungeons & Dragons, but there's nothing that really distinguishes them from your standard merfolk model aside from a slight tendency to advance in the bard class.
    • Mystara, like most D&D settings, has merfolk, called "merrow". Its are unusual in that they can breed with humans (solving the Mermaid Problem via shapechanging by one or the other). The Queen of Aquas, half-sister of the heir to the Empire of Alphatia, is half-merrow on her mother's side.
    • Dungeons & Dragons also has sea-elves, sea-ogres (merrow), sea-trolls (scrags), sea-ghouls (lacedons), tritons (good looking humanoids with webbed appendages and fins along the calves, playing in deep sea much the same "aloof and self-sufficient" role as wood elves, but civilized and not as excitable) and so on and so forth. Also the sahuagin (shark-men), locathath (nomadic fish folk, humanoid only in general shape - hands and finned legs, no tail), kuo-toa (Lovecraftian Deep Ones), and about a dozen more. Essentially, all the above variants and then some.
    • Forgotten Realms got shalarin - humanoid fish-folk supposedly gated from some other world, with big dorsal fins, eyes, gills and all, silvery skin, but with legs and no scales.
    • Al-Qadim has shapeshifting (woman/tropical fish/hybrid form) sea nymphs they for some reason named Pahari.
  • Cthulhu Tech has the same Deep Ones as anything else Lovecraft-related, but this time they brainwash small settlements to produce offspring, rather than their standard dependence method. And now they're out to find Cthulhu.

Card Games

  • Magic the Gathering has, on-and-off throughout the years, had a variety of merfolk cards. They range in appearance from deep-sea fish to Abe Sapien. They tend to be small utility creatures, and have been a standard Blue tribe. Interesting enough, an article on the official site explained the merfolk are magicial in nature, and gave some basic bio specs. Granted, none of the stuff really comes up in the on-card fluff. There are a few subraces of particular note:
    • The Rootwater merfolk from the Rath Cycle are hideous, fish-faced monsters that kill members of any other race without hesitation. They apparently started out as normal humanlike merfolk but were altered via Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke.
    • The merfolk of Saprazzo in the Mercadian Masques set have the power to switch between legs and fins. On land, they just look like lanky, hairless, blue-skinned humans, sometimes with head fins. They have a vaguely Middle Eastern culture.
    • The merrows of the Lorwyn block are the usual attractive human-looking merfolk, though they have brightly colored skin and flamboyant fins; they're merchants and porters with good diplomatic skills. When Lorwyn is transformed into the dark world of Shadowmoor, though, the merrows become black-hearted monsters with much more piscine features (very similar to the Rootwater merfolk of Rath) who prey on other races as pirates.
      • The comparison here: Lorwyn, a bit fishy but friendly-looking. Shadowmoor, looking like a cross between a catfish and Cthulhu.
    • Interestingly, because of their position as small blue creatures, combined with the fact that blue gets small flying creatures, there are a number of merfolk in Magic that can fly. The weirdest example would have to be Gaea's Skyfolk, a "Elf Merfolk" who flies. There has been no attempt to explain this, unlike the other 8 merfolk flyers.
    • Currently, MtG merfolk come with legs, which allows there to be sea themed races without the entire oddness of creatures that can swim in water, and so should beat any non-water breather there, but that can't do much on the atmosphere.
      • Those would be Zendikar's. They are also heavy on flyers, some - but not all - due to riding large birds or flying manta rays.
  • The Odyssey and Onslaught blocks introduced Cephalids, a squid-based type of merfolk that were more squid than humanoid, with soft bodies and limited mobility out of water. In keeping with the "evil tentacles" motif, most of the cephalids were right bastards.

Oral Tradition

  • In some variations of Nautical Folklore, it is possible to take a mermaid captive by stealing an item of magic thus keeping her captive. Because Abduction Is Love she will often marry the man who did this and raise a loving family. But, she will spend all her spare time trying to find it, and once found she will swim away.
    • Those who are nice to stranded mermaids on the other hand receive kindness from them. One Scottish boatbuilder rescued a stranded mermaid and wished that no boat he built would ever sink. His family's boats are, according to one version, famous through large parts of Scotland.
  • The Fairy Flag of MacLeod might count if you fudge it, as the Home Base of the Macleods is on a coastal island and mer-folk are basically nautical fairies. There is a real fairy flag but several tales of its origin, all interesting though not equally plausible. The best one is that a MacLeod prince fell in love with a local spirit but she could not decide between her lover and her own people. Leaving the Fairy Flag to protect Macleods in the future was a compromise. According to tales, the MacLeods can call on its protection three times against great danger, which usually means war. According to the legend the Macleods have already used it twice (although one version says it was never actually used in World War 2 though the MacLeods took pieces of it to battle).


  • Dolls in the "Merwees" collection (somewhat similar to Polly Pocket, except the dolls were about 3x the size) would change from "human" to "mermaid" when in warm water. They could be changed back (to resemble a human woman wearing leggings) by running them under cold water, or simply leaving them out.

Video Games

  • There's no limitations on Donald's easily reversible spell that allows Team Keyblade to go to Atlantica in the Kingdom Hearts games - but it does turn Sora, Donald and Goofy into different merfolk than Ariel and Triton. They become human/dolphin, duck/octopus, and whatever the hell Goofy is/turtle.
  • The Legend of Zelda has the Zoras. They have legs with flippers, sea resistant skin and can breathe underwater. They have the tail of the aquatic animal they're based on instead of hair. They are able to live on land, but can dehydrate quickly.
    • And it's implied that they can interbreed with Hylians. Or at least, relationships between the two races aren't unusual. Neither Ruto in Ocarina of Time nor the girl running the treasure box maze game in Majora's Mask are portrayed as out of the ordinary for their Zora affection.
      • Beyond the crushes, actually. It's heavily implied that one of the Rito in Windwaker had a human ancestor. There must have been a marriage somewhere in the line, though it's unclear whether it happened before the Zora became Rito or afterwards.
    • Less pleasant are the "Zolas", which are green, fish-headed and pop out of the water to shoot fireballs at you. The name was really just a translation error. They're intended to be the same creature as Zoras, but some fans jumped on the name difference and treat them as two separate races. Others call the mean ones "river Zoras," since that's where they showed up most of the time.
    • Not to mention the actual mermaid in Link's Awakening.
  • The Mermen race in Darkstalkers are an odd mix of the traditional beautiful merpeople, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Lovecraftian Deep Ones. They have disturbingly beautiful faces, webbed claws for feet and hands, come in a multitude of rainbow colors, and can transform their body parts to mimic the appearance and abilities of any other sea creature - although usually on a bigger scale.
  • In Mega Man 9, Splash Woman's look is based on the regular mermaid—female human on top/fish tail on the bottom. She sings to call in a few waves of fish robots and uses a laser trident.
  • In EVO Search for Eden, you are able to become a mermaid, albeit only temporarily, in the last age by stepping into the ocean off the southmost point of South America. While you're first given a workable amphibian version of whatever you've evolved into, you now have the option to "evolve hands and feet"; doing so will turn you into a seal, then a dolphin, then... something the Let's Play titled "Abomination" for a good reason, and then blonde mermaid. It's not clear which gender you are, but you apparently attack with devastating effect by kissing your foes. Also, since you cannot evolve further, you cannot replenish HP by minor evolutions, making the boss fight a good deal more difficult. Of course, since you're an evolutionary dead end, once you've defeated the local boss you're returned to the shore as the creature you entered with.
  • The Nereids of Soul Nomad and The World Eaters are essentially a One-Gender Race of mermaids. Due to this they use males of other species in order to breed. This is why they have a little human boy around with them.
  • In Harvest Moon DS, one of the special girlfriends is a mermaid. Or at least she would be special if they didn't explain how to get her in the manual. She can't transform and if you want to marry her (yes, you can marry her) you have to build a pond on your farm first.
    • Rune Factory 3 of the Rune Factory spinoff series features Persia, who transforms by the splash method.
  • In Chrono Cross, mermaids (but no known mermen) are considered ordinary, albeit aquatic, demi-humans. They do not transform on land but can still somehow transport themselves as though walking (necessary for the playable character Irenes), and they can have children with humans (in fact, two of the other playable characters are Irenes's nephew and niece.) The children appear perfectly human. No explanation for any of this is even attempted.
  • Vaporeon is a Pokémon based on a mermaid- except being a half-dog/cat/RidiculouslyCuteCritter half-fish instead of human, of course.
  • Warcraft has the Naga, the cursed elves so transformed at the Sundering. They don't have fish tails per se, but instead have serpentine lower bodies and can breathe underwater The multi-armed females are relatively cute as per normal, but males are far more draconian in apperance.
  • Yggdra Union has Undines. They're a One-Gender Race of women with fishtails that use tridents. One notable feature is that they can move on land like a snake. They also appear in its prequel Blaze Union and the mostly unrelated Gloria Union.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the Mer-kin, a race of bastard merfolk who are hinted to worship a lovecraftian horror.
    • It should be noted that the word "merkin" has a real-world meaning. It's a pubic wig. No, really.
  • Quest for Glory V has the Merfolk, but they are just the standard fishy bottom, human top variety.
  • The King's Quest series has two mermaids: one in King's Quest II and the other in King's Quest V The first's colouring bears an uncanny resemblance to Disney's Ariel, whilst the second is blonde and friends with a beach-hermit. Both are voiceless and have minor roles in the game.
  • In Overlord II Mermaids appear as enemies. They're all rather fat compared to other examples.
  • In Dungeon Crawl, Merfolk are one of the many playable races. Among other things, they're the only race without Super Drowning Skills; their legs turn back into tails when they enter the water.
  • Tales of Monkey Island has the Vaycalians, a race of mer-people that live in Spinner's cay and left some ancient artifacts across some islands. They are said to have stopped their evolution years ago, and used their technology to give themselves human feet to live on land, but eventually reversed it and returned to the sea. The Vaycalians also have no visible secondary nor Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, making it impossible to tell if they're male or female, which leads to some awkward moments between the flirty Vaycalians and the happily married Guybrush.
    • Not to mention like Real-life Carribean-located water-dwellers, they are very colorful.
  • Mermaids are the 'townsfolk' near the Kraken and water crystal in Final Fantasy I. Apparently, they ran out of People of Hair Color.
  • SaGa Frontier has Mesarathim, a grey-skinned mermaid who, like Irenes in Chrono Cross, spends more time out of water than in, although she'd like to change this.
  • There are merpersons in Dwarf Fortress. Their bones used to be [dead link] worth as much as dragon bone, though now mermaids (as sentients) are no longer butcherable and don't have valuable bones.
  • Although Aquell from A Witch's Tale is supposedly based off of The Little Mermaid, she seems to behave similarly to the mermaids in Peter Pan.
  • Final Fantasy uses typical girls-with-fishy-bottoms mermaids as NPCs in the first game, but somewhere along the way someone decided that they may have been a bit too much of a cliche fantasy element and they haven't appeared in a game since (unless you count the totally-not-Gungans Hypello in Final Fantasy X.)
  • In Wandering Hamster, there are mersheep. Yep, sheep with a fish tail.
  • Mermen in Battle for Wesnoth, even if they're doomed to the supplementary in most campaigns, still are a major playable race. A good spectrum of units (3 branched advancement trees covering all main roles) fast and powerful in their own environment, but weakened on the ground.
  • The mermaid we meet in the Telltale Sam and Max games is completely human in appearance (save for oddly-coloured hair), and (by Word of God) basically immortal, except for accidents. She's also psychotically evil, but that's probably not a mermaid thing.
    • She's not really a mermaid either. Her outfit has a distinct mermaid theme to it, but that's neither here nor there. She's actualy an unholy golem created from an infernal recipe called "The Cake Of The Damned", and why the ambulatory form of The Cake Of The Damned should be a psychotically evil, attractive young lady in a mermaid-themed outfit is for the writers to know and us to never find out.
      • At least, that appears to be the case until episode 305 apparently, and somewhat confusingly, Retcons the above, making her actually a mermaid.
  • Okamiden allows the player to have a mermaid girl as their partner. She looks like a traditional mermaid, but she has the Dragonians' fin-ears.
  • The Undines from Monster Rancher 2 have a transparent, Jell-like appearance and use both water and ice based attacks.
  • Etrian Odyssey: The Drowned City has mermaids appear in the form of the Deep Ones. The first of these you meet is their childlike Prince/Princess who can freely spawn them from drops of hir blood. Sorta creepy...
  • Mermaids in Monster Girl Quest have the standard appearance. They can walk on their tails with enough skill to more or less function on land. Their songs have a hypnotic effect on listeners and their blood has healing properties.


  • In the original vesion of Elf Life, extremely talented mermaid queen Leukothea gets banished to the surface after fairy queen Glynthial ruins her ability to breathe water. When Airek, a young half-ogre accompanying them, addresses the Mermaid Problem, Glynthial points out that mermaids do have functional legs inside their tails which will come out now that she's on land... but as Thea's lived in the ocean her whole life, they'll be hideously stunted and misshapen. Turns out they're quite attractive, actually.
  • Well not all, but Leviatha from The Beast Legion is bad to the bone.
  • When the protagonists of Accidental Centaurs have to cross an ocean at one point, their helpful genie friend turns them into merfolk instead. (Humans cannot exist in otherspace, but mythological parallels are acceptable.) Alex is at first enthused at the opportunity for hot mermaid sex, until his girlfriend cruelly points out that fish use a different method for reproduction. (Also, the mermaid tails appear to have knees. WTF?)
    • Many artists commonly draw merfolk with tails that have knee and ankle joints instead of a spinal column. They'd probably swim much like a human using a monofin, a single large flipper to use both legs at once. If you watch swimming competitions you do notice that when they are underwater (after kicking off the end) they do keep their legs together and use an undulating motion. A horizontal fluke just extends this motion.
  • The Mer from DMFA
  • The Solluu from Juathuur
  • Pearls of Mer a webcomic about a standard, Splash style mermaid.
  • Rebecca Burg has released concept art which reveals that in Loonatic-land, merfolk are a type of aquatic vampire. When they're luring in prey, they're fairly cute, if slightly overfinned. When they're about to feed, their eyes take on a crazed look, and their mouth splits into a grin which reveals that all their teeth are razor-sharp. And unlike some vampires in this setting, where being turned isn't even a guarantee, when a mermaid feeds on you, you become one.
  • The Dreamland Chronicles Mermaids to the rescue!
  • In Homestuck, there's an alien race of horned, water-dwelling humanoids known as Sea Dwelling Trolls. They're considered Royalty among the Land Dwelling Trolls, and the only examples we see of them are the heir apparent and a genocidal noble with a crush on her.
  • At the end of the first volume of Tales Of Gnosis College, Li Anwei reveals that she is in the process of a slow transformation into something like a mermaid by showing expanded webbing growing between her fingers. She still looks pretty human when she takes to the sea, though.
  • In Question Duck, tragically, love was not possible between a man and a mermaid.
  • Girl Genius turned this somewhere strange. The mermaids seem to be iconic mythological creatures. There are also Deepdwellers, but they are Deep Ones amphibious humanoids with fins and feet, not half-man half-fish. So a chef decides to honour the Queen's guest rumoured to fancy "risque" outfits by making a great pie in the shape of her as a mermaid (with starfish bra). Then the Deepdwellers see this and decide she really looks like this. Being on their territory and in a diplomatically tenuous situation, she and the rest of present Mad Scientists figure a mermaid suit would solve the problem. Then it turns out that maybe this was what the Deepdwellers meant, because there used to be a strange order of humans using sort of fish tailed diving suits, and they were in good relations with the Great Cetaceans and their minions, so it's taken as a good sign. Then on a submariner we see… large, colourful tattoo of Amabie, with three tails and all, and the name to make it really clear.

Web Original

  • Deviant Art: http://spyra.deviantart.com/art/Symbiosis-30554745 Mermaids are the result of forlorn women jumping into the ocean to reunite with loved ones lost at sea. Either out of revenge or sympathy, the ocean created a new breed of fish that symbiotically joined bodies with the woman so they may survive underwater.
  • Finfolk by Viviengros. Eels are fish too, after all.
  • Mermaid Transformation by CitizenOfZozo-art. Apparently, sometimes you dive to pick some valuables off that sunken ship, put found jewelry on and BLOOP! blurgle-blurgle.
  • A Sudden Change by Coralwerks. "Another magical pool, another changed human (there really outta be a law)."
  • In The Dragon Wars Saga, the merfolk can shift their tails into legs—albeit still covered in scales—for use on land. Many of them live in freshwater and it's been suggested they use this form for migrations if their home dries up. However they become ill if out of the water too long.
  • The Whitest Kids U' Know has a sketch on this very trope.
  • The one encountered in The Adventures of The League of STEAM episode, "Tall Tails", is of the standard "beautiful woman with fishlike tail" variety.

Western Animation

  • In American Dragon: Jake Long mermaids can't switch but they can live on land for long periods. Long enough for one to go undercover at Jake's school for several months as his wheelchair-using principal. It also features a Mermaid who is a afraid of water.
  • The short lived (French?) The Prince Of Atlantis feature a legged human-dolphinish-hybrid.
  • Futurama has a episode with Merpeople, the accelerated-by-caffeine-evolved-humans who can't switch. Fry falls for one till he discovers the Mermaid Problem...
  • In an episode of Family Guy Lois is rescued by a reverse Merman (human legs, fish head and torso).
  • In Xiaolin Showdown mermaids (or at least whatever the one shown was) are normal half people/half fish when they are in the water. As a very curious variation, when they leave the water, they transform into big ugly fish monsters!
  • Milo Manara's City Hunters had Odysseus and a friend catching mermaids. It's seen that Odysseus seduces a traditional mermaid, and his friend "jumps on a grenade" with a reverse mermaid.
  • An episode of Transformers Generation 1 took place on a planet of Human Aliens who could become mermaids by swimming in a magic pool. It later turns out that the pool allowed the aliens to actually take on any form they wished. This allowed Seaspray to become a merman, and one of the mermaids to become a Transformer. And then Rumble turned into a tree. (Let us not forget that the old-school Transformers could get downright strange sometimes.)
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3, Mario met a reverse mermaid named Holly Mackerel who was both unattractive (hence that episode's title, "The Ugly Mermaid") and not very bright (she thought Mario, wearing a Frog Suit, was an actual frog).
  • In The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack Mermaids cry candy tears that grant wishes when eaten that are stored in a heart-shaped jar. Making wishes causes the Mermaids to rapidly age and disintegrate until all of the tears are used up. Then they turn into beautiful, healthy Skymaids.

Captain K'nuckles: "Mermaids are weird."

  • In the first season of Metalocalypse, Dethklok writes the song Murmaider. The video features traditional mermaids at war with considerably uglier, crustacean-themed mermaids.

Nathan: "This one's called Murmaider!"
Murderface: "It's about mermaid murder."

  • In one episode of ReBoot, Dot and Bob turn into shark-people to participate in a game. Unusually, their fin stroke horizontally, like true fish. Their bodies are also slender, and very long.
  • There's a new[when?] show on Nick Jr. called Bubble Guppies that flips the mermaid concept on it's head. The merpeople on the show are tiny, about the size of guppies. They can't change shape, but apparantly they've developed the ability to swim through air.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes features a mer-man, right down to the Seashell Bra.
  • Marina from the French cartoon Zig and Sharko is mostly a typical mermaid, except she can survive on land and walk on her tail fins. Also, her parents are mermaid and a human man, somehow.
  • Applied to Iguana Seals in All There in the Manual in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Similar to the manatee-mermaid misidentification, the hybrid animals were often mistaken as mermaids by sailors due to their melodious sounds. Like the manatee, upon realizing they were nothing but seal-finned aquatic reptiles, they were subsequently killed for food.
  • The Blue Mermaid from Team Umizoomi counts. She is friendly to the sea creatures, loves her sea home, her Curtains Match the Window, and her tail glows!
  • Mermista from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is either a mermaid who can magically swap her fish-tail for human legs or a human that can turn into a mermaid. Whatever the case, she's far more tomboyish than traditional mermaids and has a much different personality, being both snarky and cynical.

Real Life

  • The Aquatic Ape Theory proposes the idea that one section of early hominid returned to the sea.
  • P.T. Barnum's museum of curiosities featured a twisted, mummified specimen called a "Fiji Mermaid". It was, of course, a fake, created by sewing the front half of a monkey to the back half of a fish. It was also every bit as f'ugly as that combination sounds.
    • Robin Jarvis evidently took inspiration from it for the mummified mer-thing in The Whitby Child.
  • Manatees, Dugongs and Sea Cows were often mistaken for mermaids, perhaps because the females have breasts and float upright in the water to nurse their young. Taxonomists recognized this by assigning these species the order name Sirenia
    • There's a wonderful bit in one of Christopher Columbus's logs abotu seeing "mermaids" in the Caribbean - he says they're less beautiful than they are painted, because their face resembles that of a man. A seriously ugly man, one assumes.
    • Referenced on How I Met Your Mother. Barney theorizes that sailors saw manatees as beautiful women because they have not seen real women for so long. He adds that this is why men and women can't just be friends: eventually the "manatee" turns into a mermaid.
  • Nadya Vessey, an amputee, has been given a really neat mermaid's tail prosthesis by Peter Jackson's WETA workshop. That's awesome in more ways than one.
  • In West African mythology, mermaids (aka Maame Water) are beautiful but evil demonic spirits tasked by Satan to steal people's souls in exchange for riches. However foreign depictions of mermaids such as in Disney's Little Mermaid are still popular because, after all, Their Mermaids Are Different.
  • An extremely rare human birth defect, in which both legs are fused together from crotch to feet, is known as sirenomelia or "mermaid syndrome". Sadly, people with this condition usually die within a day of birth, due to associated abnormalities of kidneys and bladder; to date, only a handful of sirenomelia patients have survived for long, and only with drastic surgical help.
  • The Annals of the Four Masters (a collection of medieval Irish histories compiled in the early 17th century) casually mention mermaids being caught several times. Most impressive is a mermaid listed as having washed ashore in the year 887:

One hundred and ninety five feet was her length, eighteen feet was the length of her hair, seven feet was the length of the fingers of her hand, seven feet also was the length of her nose; she was whiter than the swan all over.

  • Mermaiding, which essentially amounts to a form of cosplaying as a mermaid. It's fairly popular with little girls, but some performers do it for the Fanservice. Tails can be made of almost any material, but silicone is especially coveted because of the near-natural scale effect it gives off.