Unscaled Merfolk

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
They actually use this trope as SCUBA gear.

Usually when Our Mermaids Are Different, they still tend to be part fish, or more specifically the scaled kinds. It's less common to see a merfolk that's part shark or ray, or part cetacean, crustacean, cephalopod, mollusk, etc. But they do show up in fiction, and that's what this trope is about.

Also these merfolk are still just as likely to have the Mermaid Problem, unless they are part aquatic mammal or part shark.

See also Selkies and Wereseals.

Compare Petting Zoo People, Cthulhumanoid, Snake People.

Examples of Unscaled Merfolk include:

Anime and Manga

  • One Piece is full of this with a lot of the Mer-people and Fishmen (which are a different species than the Mer-people, but can interbreed). Arlong is a saw shark, Hat-chan is an octopus and Chu is an archerfish, though.
  • The raiders in the first episode of Those Who Hunt Elves.
  • Sea Princess Azuri is about an orca "mermaid" engaged to an eel "merman". Other characters included shrimp and catfish.
  • Neptina, the mermaid from Marine Boy, is half-dolphin.
  • The mer-folk in the anime adaptation of The Little Mermaid are also dolphin-tailed.
  • The titular character of Squid Girl is half-human half-squid, but averts the "human upper half, fishy lower half" part of the trope. Instead, she wears a hat shaped like the top end of a squid and her hairlocks are the tentacles. Oh, and ink comes out of her mouth when she sneezes or pukes.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew has Mew Lettuce, who has a finless porpoise mermaid form.

Comic Books

  • Batman has fought Orca, a woman who transformed herself into a humanoid killer whale
    • Though in early appearances, she simply wore a bizarre killer-whale biomechanical outfit, the logistics of which made little to no sense even in the DC Universe.
  • A story called "Cilia" in a 1974 issue of Vampirella featured an octopus-mermaid of the "tentacles instead of legs" variety.
  • Korilia, from the first Elf Quest: Wave Dancers series, was a similarly-designed octopus-mermaid.


  • Ursula of The Little Mermaid is half octopus, a form of mermaid known as cecaelia. Her sister Morgana is the same though she is much skinnier with green skin while Ursula is more full figured with purple skin.
    • Some of her concept sketches had her as part Scorpion fish, a somewhat unusual choice for fish halves.
  • In Dagon most of the mutant townsfolk are Fish People with cephalopod traits. One woman is presented as a mermaid but has two long tentacles instead of legs.


  • From Harry Potter, Victor Krum transfigures himself partially into a shark.
  • The mermaids in the River of Dancing Gods series are all-mammal, with their "fish" half most closely resembling dolphin.
    • The Mirra from Alida Van Gores Mermaid's Song are similarly half-human, half dolphin, as were several mermaids create by L. Sprague DeCamp.
    • As are the mer in John Ringo's Emerald Seas, though the cover would have you believe otherwise
  • The Mer in Helen Dunmore's Ingo series are closer to half seal than anything else.
  • The lower half of Kit Whitfield's Deepmen in In Great Waters resemble dolphin or porpoise tails.
  • One of the Dark Lord of Dirkholme books had Dirk, the titular Dark Lord, speculating on creating a mermaid daughter with his wife (long story, but "Dark Lord" is just his day job, and he's more of a mad scientist in his spare time).
  • The Cray in China Mieville's The Scar are essentially lobster-bodied centaurs.
  • Nereus from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has eight octopus tentacles (a la Ursula) instead of a tail.
  • Aquatics in Dougal Dixon's Man After Man eventually evolve into this.
  • Vonda N. McIntyre's "divers" are, quite simply, humans genetically engineered for aquatic life. Her historical fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun has the similar (if naturally-occurring) "sea people." Both are entirely mammalian.


Tabletop Games

  • In Changeling: The Dreaming, the Merfolk are composed of several different types. Seelie Merfolk are divided into different Houses based on various vertebrate sea creatures. Scaled fish are only a single house (albeit the largest), while sharks, eels, and rays are another, and air-breathing creatures like whales, reptiles, and dolphins are another, the last of which are most well-known to humans due to their interactions with them. Unseelie merfolk, on the other hand, are composed of the myriad of seagoing invertebrates.
  • Planescape had the zoveri, a race of celestials who are octopus-mermaids as per Ursula.
  • D&D 3e had darfellans, based off of killer whales.
  • Pathfinder has cecaelias, another race of Ursula-style octopus-merfolk. (The name of the species is a common modern term for such beings, believed to have been inspired by the Vampirella example.)


  • Bionicle's Barraki are based on creatures such as crabs, sharks, cephlaods, eels, and stingrays.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Dominic Deegan has an octopus variety and a shark variety among its merfolk.

Web Original

  • The SCP Foundation have one of those who appears somewhat half-dolphin.
  • Orkazoka, one of the Kaiju Girls of Neo Monster Island, associated with Twisted Kaiju Theater, is apparently based on the killer whale.
  • Mermaid's Tail Galleries has galleries of mermaids based on mollusks & starfish amongst even weirder things (motorcycles? furniture? lawn mowers?)
  • This lovely eel girl may be a somewhat bizarre case.

Western Animation