King Triton is a character who first appeared in the Disney animated movie The Little Mermaid. He was voiced by the late Kenneth Mars in the first two films and by Jim Cummings in the third film. His character is somewhat similar to the Greek Mythology sea god Poseidon.
The reason for his constant clashes with Ariel, as told by directors Ron Clements and John Musker, is that he is very strong-willed and independent, like his daughter. Ariel is said to be Triton's favorite child, because as a child, he also had red hair and sees himself most in Ariel. The strong resemblance between Ariel and her mother, Athena, probably also plays a role in his favoritism.
Triton is the ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantica. He is a muscular merman, husband of the late Queen Athena, and the father of seven daughters: Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, Allana and Ariel. He is also the father-in-law of Prince Eric and the grandfather of Ariel and Eric's daughter Melody. As King of Atlantica, he has in his possession a powerful magical trident which appears to be made of gold. It emits a glowing light and a typical sound when in use. Furthermore, he has a crown and two arm bracelets, which also appear to be made out of gold.
His arch-enemy was Ursula, the old sea-witch who was once a senior member of the Court of King Triton. For many years, she had been seeking a way to exact her revenge upon Triton for banishing her from the kingdom.
The prequel film The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning initially depicts Triton as a devoted and loving father and husband. After his wife's death, he becomes much more strict, but eventually comes to terms with the incident, showing this by allowing music back into Atlantica after previously banning it in the wake of the tragedy.
The television series, set before the events of the original film, shows Triton to be a wise ruler. His xenophobia of humans is also well-depicted. Though he's constantly at odds with Ariel regarding humans and dangerous adventures, he has shown to have a large feeling of guilt for upsetting his beloved daughter.
In the original film, Triton is shown to be a caring father. However, his xenophobia regarding humans often led to personality conflicts with Ariel. He is shown to have an explosive temper when angered.
By the time of the sequel, Triton has become accepting of humans. He has a notable soft spot for Melody and highly values her safety. He's presented as still very wise, though incredibly toned down temper wise. However, his aggressive nature remains in times of crises.
Triton's supervising animator in the original film was Andreas Deja. King Triton is an old, large merman with bushy, light grey eyebrows and long, white hair. He also has blue eyes. He has a thick, white beard and mustache and a widow's peak hairline. He is well muscled and wears gold gauntlets with several studs on them on each wrist. As a merman, Triton's lower body is that of a dark blue fish with cyan, translucent fins. As signs of his royal status, Triton wears a yellow, five-pointed crown that resembles a sea star on his head, and carries the legendary trident, a golden, three-pronged weapon with powerful magical abilities.
When the original film begins, Triton is xenophobic toward humans and Ariel's fascination with humans casts a strain on their relationship. According to Triton, contact between the human world and the merworld is strictly forbidden. After an initial argument with Ariel over her latest trip to the surface, Triton orders his loyal servant, Sebastian, to keep an eye on her. When Triton learns that Ariel saved the life of, and fallen in love with, a human being, he loses his temper and, determined to turn Ariel over to his views of humans, destroys her collection of human things, completely ignoring his daughter's pleas to stop. In the aftermath, Triton, instantly regretting this actions, leaves Ariel tearfully alone in her grotto.
Later on, after Ariel runs away from home in search of the sea witch Ursula, Triton orders a search for her, unaware that she has accepted Ursula's deal and become a human. When Sebastian, who had been watching over Ariel, arrives from the surface and tells the king about Ursula's scheme, Triton quickly goes out with Sebastian to find her. When Triton learns that Ariel had signed an agreement with Ursula, he willingly takes his daughter's place, despite knowing the cost of his choice. Triton is temporarily transformed into a polyp, but when Ursula is killed, he is restored to his original form and regains both his crown and his trident. By the end of the film, Triton has softened his attitude towards humans and allows Ariel to marry her true love Prince Eric, the Prince who killed Ursula and, subsequently, saved Triton's life and Atlantica.
King Triton also appeared in The Little Mermaid animated TV series. According to the cartoon series, Triton was the son of Poseidon and the grandson of Neptune, of whom he had many fond memories. As a child, his nickname was "Red" for his red hair.
Although his anti-human sentiments remained, he could sometimes be persuaded to recognize his mistakes, such as when he apologized to Ariel for scaring her so much that she failed to return home after a human charm bracelet was accidentally locked around her wrist or when he was persuaded to help Ariel rescue a man trapped in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean (Implied at the end of the episode to be Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote the original tale).
He does seem to have some confidence in his daughter's abilities, as he once allows her to go and explore the source of a trail of pollution. He would later travel to the surface (said to be one of the first times he had been there), using his trident to create storms to drive the last bit of pollution away.
Triton's rule of Atlantica is also shown in some detail. Besides Sebastian, he also confides in an elderly sea turtle named Dudley, who serves as an advisor.
Sebastian's Party Gras
In the 1992 Disney Special "Sebastian's Party Gras", Sebastian and his performing friend, Sam Wright, are back for another spectacular show at New Orleans Square in Walt Disney World! Kids at home are invited to "Twist And Shout", join a "Conga Line" and do the "Limbo Rock"! Combining colorful animation and engaging live entertainment, "Sebastian's Party Gras" introduces the Little Mermaid's father, King Triton, who urges Sebastian to conduct his concerts under the sea only! But through the magic of music, the King changes his tune, learning that when you "Give A Little Love", "Life Is A Magic Thing" indeed!
Triton appears in the sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return To The Sea. He seems to trust humans by the time of this film. His weakness in the film is his love for his granddaughter Melody, which is exploited by Morgana, Ursula's younger sister and his second rival. He is first seen attending Melody's baby shower where Morgana first reveals her plot to rule Atlantica. Later on, when Melody becomes a mermaid and goes missing, Triton transforms Ariel back into a mermaid to help with the search. At the final battle, Morgana takes control of the trident and forces Triton and his guards to bow to her wrath. Melody successfully steals it back and hands it over to her grandfather, who uses the Triton's magic to trap Morgana in a block of ice and sink to the bottom of the sea.
In the 2008 direct-to-DVD prequel The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, an opening prologue shows King Triton's wife, Queen Athena. The pair had a loving relationship. However, Athena was crushed to death by a pirate ship while trying to save the music box King Triton gave her as an anniversary present. Triton was so broken-hearted by her death that he banned music from Atlantica and forced everyone to follow a strict daily schedule. Ariel's free-spirited personality is what casts a strain on their relationship in this film and he is particularly angered when he discovers that the leader of the (illegal) Catfish Club is Sebastian, throwing his confidante into prison for this. He eventually comes to see the error of his harsh decisions, pardons Sebastian, lifts the ban on music and appoints Sebastian as his court composer at the end of the film.
King Triton made a few cameos in the series. In "Jiminy Cricket", he was seen sitting alongside Rafiki, Grandmother Willow and Merlin the Wizard. In "Salute to Sports", when Mickey said he wanted the audience to do the wave, Triton summoned an actual wave. In "Pete's House of Villains", Ursula was in charge at the reservation desk and refused to let Triton in the club. Instead, she morphed him into a polyp again.
Triton saves Ariel, Sora, Donald, and Goofy from some approaching Heartless. He is immediately distrustful of the three newcomers when they mention the "Keyhole" and later confronts them in Ariel's Grotto and advises Sora to leave since he is the Keyblade master, claiming that the Keyblade master is capable of nothing but to bring ruin to the worlds. Ariel retrieves an item that can activate the Keyhole, but Triton destroys it before it can be revealed. Ariel falls victim to the plans of Ursula who steals the Trident, leaving Triton injured. After Ursula's defeat, Triton asks Sora to seal the Keyhole by using the Trident to uncover the Keyhole. After this, he becomes more trusting to Sora and his friends.
King Triton is only mentioned by Ariel, Sebastian, and Ursula, but makes no appearance.
Triton returns as ruler of the sea, but is concerned more than ever for Ariel after she saves a human, Prince Eric, from death and has fallen in love. He asks Sora to help her forget about the human world and practice her singing. Triton discovers a statue of Eric in Ariel's Grotto and destroys it out of anger. Ariel once again falls victim to Ursula's plot and becomes a human for three days. By the end of the three days, Ursula captures Ariel and threatens to finish her off. Triton learns that she has signed a contract with Ursula and not even he could break it. Instead, he replaces Ariel's signature with his own in a bid to save Ariel's life. Ursula transforms Triton into a lowly sea creature and takes his Trident. The Trident is used against her by Eric and kills her. Triton finally accepts Ariel's love for Eric and allows her to stay with him by turning her into a human. He is seen in the end credits bidding farewell to Ariel and Eric with Sebastian and Flounder.
Triton is featured in several attractions in the park often related to the film in which he originated from.
King Triton has his own spell card known as "King Triton's Trident".
King Triton can be seen as an audio animatronic at the end of the ride, celebrating Ariel and Eric's wedding.
Triton appears in the SpectroMagic Parade. Triton appears with a lit up trident.
King Triton makes a vocal appearance in the beginning of the show confronting Ariel about humans. Triton reappears in animation on screen with Sebastian speaking as he did in the end of the original film.
Triton appears at the resort alongside other Little Mermaid characters as a 35-foot tall statue seen in the Little Mermaid courtyard.
His role in the musical is similar to that of the original film. However, it also adds in a twist that Ursula is his sister (based on a deleted concept from the original film). It also reveals that the reason why he banished Ursula was because of her attempting to gain the Trident when she was inherited with the nautilus.
- Since he is mentioned to be the son of Poseidon in The Little Mermaid animated series, he could in fact be the same Triton from Hercules: The Animated Series. However, the other Triton is more amphibious and resembles Hercules with green skin while King Triton is a merman with known to have red hair in his child hood. Plus, the same TV series also states that King Triton's grandfather was named Neptune, which wouldn't have been possible either way (as Neptune and Poseidon were the same mythological character).
- The original Triton is from Greek Mythology and has two finned feet.
- Triton is one of only two parents of a Disney Princess to be featured in a large amount of marketing apparel and merchandise. The other being the Sultan.
- While Belle's father, Maurice from Beauty and the Beast, Jasmine's father, the Sultan of Agrabah from Aladdin and Jane's father, Archimedes Q. Porter from Tarzan never show how they reacted to their wife's deaths, in The Little Mermaid III, King Triton reacted to his wife's death by banning music from his kingdom, much to the dismay of Aquata, Alana, Attina, Adella, Arista, Andrina and especially, Ariel until Ariel herself showed him the error of his ways by showing him her mother's music box 10 years later.
- A Homage is made to King Triton in The Princess and the Frog as he appears as a parade float during the Mardi Gras Parade.
- The Little Mermaid episode "Red" shows that he used to have bright red hair. When he reverts to his normal age, his hair lightens to auburn (as seen in the prequel), then orange, yellow and finally white.
- In the Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers episode "One-Upsman-Chip", there was a merman statue in a sea based restaurant that strongly resembled King Triton. This could have been in honor of The Little Mermaid movie because this episode aired nine days after the film's release.
- Main article: King Triton/Gallery