Deep within the waters of the ocean swam a devious sea witch. After years of solitude in the dangerous waters outside of Atlantica, the witch Ursula devised a devious plot to become Queen of the Sea. Ursula was highly focused, motivated and a true threat to Ariel and the merpeople of Atlantica.
Ursula and her younger sister Morgana were raised by their unnamed mother within the palace of Atlantica similarly to King Triton. In an early script for “The Little Mermaid,” Ursula was planned to be the sibling to King Triton. This idea was eventually scratched, but in both the Broadway musical “The Little Mermaid” and the novel “Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch” by Serena Valentino her lineage is linked with Triton: they are both children of Poseidon. In the musical, when Poseidon dies they are gifted equal shares of the sea and are bestowed with one of two magical items. King Triton was given the magical trident and Ursula received the magic Nautilus shell; because they are the descendants of a royal god this explanation on Ursula’s backstory reveals why only Ursula and Triton possess the ability to use magic in the sea.
From early on in her childhood, Ursula’s mother praised her which clearly indicated to Morgana Ursula was the favorite child. Ursula possessed the ability to wield magic and possessed a thirst for power unlike her sister Morgana. After the passing of both of Ursula’s parents, Ursula attempts to duplicate King Triton’s powerful trident to create dark tridents which would allow her to summon an army to take over the sea. King Triton halts this action and banishes Ursula from Atlantica even with King Triton’s wife, Queen Athena, petitioning on behalf of Ursula to allow her to stay. Triton would not allow her to remain within the walls to his kingdom.
After leaving Atlantica, Ursula resided within the skeleton of a creature known as the Serpentine. A group of human eel hybrids had forced individuals into a labyrinth to be hunted down by the Serpentine until Ariel sent the creature into a bloodthirsty rage through her ability to avoid its grasp; with the creature out of control, the moray were forced to end the beast’s life and they allowed Ursula to reside inside its remains.
Once she had established a home, Ursula befriends two moray eels named Flotsam and Jetsam who become henchmen and pets to Ursula. Their strong allegiance to the sea witch and their enchanted eyes which allow Ursula to view the world through the eels eyes through her cauldron allows them to become powerful tools.
To begin her revenge against Triton, Ursula starts luring merpeople into unfavorable deals. She rigs the deals to go in her favor allowing her to collect the souls of many merpeople. To keep them in her lair she transforms the many merpeople into polyps on the seafloor to create a horrific garden of souls. In addition, Ursula has invaded, attacked and reaped havoc on Atlantica on many occasions. For example, she has raised an army of octopids to attack Atlantica and she has enchanted items in Ariel’s grotto to create chaos.
Years after her initial banishing, Ursula’s final plot to become Queen of the sea revolved around Ariel: the youngest daughter of King Triton and the daughter he is most protective of. After Flotsam and Jetsam noticed Ariel had fallen in love with Prince Eric, Ursula convinces Ariel to become a human in exchange for her voice which she captures using the Nautilus shell. If Ariel doesn’t kiss Prince Eric within three days, her soul will be owned by Ursula, but if she does kiss him she will become a human permanently.
After arriving on shore and meeting the prince, Ariel almost had the chance to kiss Eric through the help of her crustacean friend Sebastian, but Flotsam and Jetsam sabotage the moment. To halt any more progress by Ariel with Eric, Ursula transforms herself into a woman and uses Ariel’s voice to strip Prince Eric’s free will. Ursula was able to stall Eric long enough to own Ariel’s soul, so Triton gives himself in Ariel’s place. Without Triton’s abilities to protect Atlantica, Ursula was able to steal the all powerful trident.
Using the trident, Ursula attempts to destroy Prince Eric, but Ariel redirects Ursula’s shot to annihilate Flotsam and Jetsam. Ursula’s destruction of her only friends enrages her, so she transforms herself into a giant and summons a powerful storm. To save Ariel’s life, Prince Eric takes control of a previously sunken ship and sails it into Ursula’s stomach which indirectly electrocutes the witch. The death of Ursula voided the contracts she had created turning the polyps back into the merpeople they once were.
With her magic, power hungry nature and the need to destroy King Triton, Ursula has become a memorable Disney villain. Her creepy tentacles, unforgettable cackle and her unwillingness to be stopped has made her someone who is feared in our world and under the sea.