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“Flounder, you really are a guppy.”
Flounder is a supporting character from Disney's 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. He is Ariel's best friend. Despite his name, he is not a flounder, but a tropical fish.
Flounder scares easily and is prone to panicking under stressful situations. However, when Ariel is in trouble, he comes through for her without hesitation. As seen in Ariel's Beginning, Flounder was not always jittery and nervous, in fact, Flounder was just as adventurous as Ariel. However, it can be concluded that after the first few adventures with Ariel, Flounder began to suffer from anxiety.
As mentioned above, despite his fear, Flounder will eventually come through for Ariel when needed, to the point where he's not only her closest friend, but her most loyal one, at that. Because of this, the two are nearly inseparable, and the bond is incredibly strong throughout the franchise, especially during episodes within the television series. Like Sebastian, though, even Flounder, at times, tires of Ariel's reckless behavior and expresses so when a dangerous adventure is at hand, but he willingly puts up with it not only to watch out for her but because he truly loves her, much to Ariel's relief and joy. Because of this, Ariel is rather protective of Flounder, and when in peril, she always puts his safety before her own, making her he's always the first to make it out safe, once again showing the connection between the two to be powerful, to say the least.
In the film, he is the only character to give unconditional support for Ariel's fascination with human things, and at one point gives Ariel a statue of Eric as a gift. He is first seen after the performance, "Daughters of Triton" with Ariel after sneaking away. When Ariel confesses she is in love with Eric, she strikes a deal with an evil sea witch. Flounder joins Ariel in Eric's Kingdom as she tries to win his heart.
Because he can't survive above water, he is forced to only be able to get news from Scuttle or Sebastien nearby water. He was persistent in asking if they were kissing, showing how dearly he wanted Ariel to get her happy ending and how supportive he was.
Flounder joins Sebastian, Scuttle, and other fish in the song "Kiss the Girl". Later, Flounder helps Ariel defeat Ursula who is planning to capture Ariel by battling Flotsam and Jetsam. When Ursula is killed, Flounder attends the wedding and gets a big good-bye kiss from Ariel as she and Eric enjoy their marriage.
Flounder appears in all the episodes of the prequel television series, sharing constant adventures with Ariel. He generally tries to serve as a voice of reason in comparison to Ariel's more adventurous nature, but usually goes along with her anyway. He is often seen giving rides to Sebastian, who cannot swim as fast as Flounder or Ariel. According to the television series, when Flounder's name called Guppy Number 35. In the episode "Land of the Dinosaurs", when he has been found frozen in an ice cube, Ariel thaws him with King Triton's trident and he gets a cold resulting in his sneezing.
The episode "The Evil Manta" shows that Flounder and Ariel met as young children, though Flounder initially mistook Ariel for a large fish that intended to eat him. The same episode shows Flounder outsmarting Evil Manta, who had been trying to spread prejudice throughout Atlantica. Flounder simply fakes believing Manta's words then works with Ariel to fix the problems Manta caused. The episode "The Beast Within" has Flounder being bitten by a dangerous Howling Hairfish; he then begins to transform into one himself. However, Ariel is able to cure him with the assistance of silverfish.
Flounder has a small role in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. He is first seen at the celebration of Melody's birth and isn't happy about Ariel's decision to keep Melody away from the sea and insists she should explain everything to Melody, which she doesn't. He is later seen 12 years later where he is reunited with Ariel and takes part in the search for Melody. He is shown as an adult and became a father himself, having five children of his own. He is also shown as braver than he was in the first movie.
As the search continues, Flounder and Ariel spot the two stingray pets of Morgana (the antagonist of the film) in the grounds of the palace. The duo follows them to the sea witch's lair, where they believe Melody is being held captive. Whilst Scuttle heads off to warn Eric, Flounder and Ariel enter the icy fortress, only to find themselves captured, along with Melody. Whilst Ariel falls under a hostage situation at the hands of Morgana, Flounder is imprisoned alongside Melody, only to be freed by the princess' companions, Tip and Dash. After a battle ensues and Morgana meets her defeat, however, peace is restored and both the land and sea are free to coincide in harmony as they did years before.
He has a larger role in The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, in which he first meets Ariel (contradicting the TV series) and later unknowingly leads her to the Catfish Club, where he works as a waiter, but dreams of being a part of the Catfish Club Band. His characterization is notably different in this movie; he doesn't scare as easily and is much more carefree and high-spirited. It is possible that he became more worrisome after the first few adventures with Ariel. He's obsessed with music, constantly humming and beatboxing even at inappropriate moments, which, given that music is forbidden in Atlantica, lands him into trouble on more than one occasion, but which also helps others keep their spirits up, most notably when his beatboxing kicks off the reprise of "Jump In The Line (Shake, Senora)" when he, Ariel, Sebastian, and the Catfish Club Band are on the run from Atlantica.
Flounder made occasional cameos in the television series House of Mouse. In the episode "Suddenly Hades", Pete flooded the club to prevent Hades from attending the show. However, Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian stayed as guests instead. A running gag in the show includes Flounder being served alive as Ariel's dinner. This was notably seen in "The Stolen Cartoons" and "Goofy for a Day". In "Big Bad Wolf Daddy", Flounder was seen amongst the crowd of Disney characters cheering on the titular character during his musical number.
In the series of video games, Flounder appears as a relatively minor character in The Little Mermaid's based world, Atlantica. In the original game, as well as Kingdom Hearts II, Flounder takes the job of teaching Sora, Donald, and Goofy how to swim flexibly in the ocean waters after their arrival to the world.
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, however, Flounder's role is expanded fairly largely, as he's used as a toy in Ursula's quest for power, holding him hostage and forcing Ariel to choose between giving up the trident or Flounder losing his life. Ariel gives in, and hands over the weapon, but Sora and the gang are able to defeat her before it was too late, saving both the sea and Flounder.
Flounder appears in the stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid. His supporting role is similar as in the film, but he does not give Ariel the statue of Eric and does not help Ariel reach Eric's wedding barge, as the Vanessa subplot has been removed. However, Flounder performs a new song titled "She's in Love", which he sings with Ariel's sisters when they notice that Ariel has been acting "fishy lately". The stage role was originated by Cody Hanford and J.J. Singleton, but the two actors had to leave the show when their height overshot that of Sierra Boggess, who originated Ariel. The role was taken over by Trevor Braun and Brian D'Addario. On the Original Broadway Cast Recording, Brian D'Addario performs as Flounder.