The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is a 2000 Disney animated feature film and direct-to-video sequel to the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. Directed by Jim Kammerud and Brian Smith, the story takes place over a decade after the original film, and focuses on Ariel's and Eric's daughter Melody, a human princess who longs to swim in the ocean despite her parents' law that the sea is forbidden to her. This sequel stars the voices of Jodi Benson as Ariel, Tara Strong as Melody and Pat Carroll as Morgana, the film's new villain.
Set some unspecified time after the events of the original film, the film begins with a celebration for Ariel and Eric's newborn daughter Melody (now a niece of Ariel's sisters) on a ship at sea, watched by merpeople and Ariel's six older sisters, Aquata, Arista, Attina, Andrina, Adella, and Alana, now Melody's aunts. Ariel's father, King Triton, presents baby Melody with a magic locket, which is meant to remind her of her mermaid heritage. The party is interrupted by Morgana, sister of the deceased Ursula, who threatens to cause Melody harm, using her as leverage to get Triton's Trident. Ariel and Eric work together to foil Morgana's plan.
Fearing Morgana and remembering what happened with Ursula, Ariel decides to withhold all knowledge of the sea world from Melody. The locket is tossed into the ocean, and a massive wall is built to separate the royal castle from the sea. In the meantime, Sebastian is tasked by Triton to watch over Melody. Flounder and King Triton return to Atlantica.
Twelve years later, Melody remains unaware of her mother’s mermaid heritage and is banned from ever going into the sea. However, she has been sneaking out the castle regularly to swim. Melody has inherited a lot of her mother's heritage, including a few mermaid abilities and has developed a deep love of the sea, but she and Ariel have a rather rocky relationship as Ariel appears to strongly disapprove of anything related to the sea. On the her 12th birthday she finds the locket and shows it to Sebastian and Scuttle.
Meanwhile, in the cold oceans of the South Pole, Morgana and Undertow have been in hiding ever since Melody's was introduced to the underwater world. Over the years, Morgana has been trying to turn Undertow back to his original form, she again tries to turn him back and is almost successful, but the power of the trident is too strong for Morgana to overcome. When Undertow believes that Usula would have been able to break the spell, it is revealed that Morgana has always been jealous of her and is tired of living under her sister's shadow. Undertow and Morgana then start to argue more until Morgana magical crystal ball reveals that Melody has found her locket, revealing that Morgana has been keeping an eye on Melody ever since her birth celebration. She takes this as the perfect opportunity, as when Melody uncovers the secret of the locket she will need answers which will lead Morgana to finally succeed at something her sister never could; Total control over all of the oceans.
Sebastian tries to warn Melody that if Ariel were to ever find out about her sneaking off and swimming in the ocean she would be very angry and disappointed. Melody however doesn't understand her mother's "hatred" of the sea and longingly wishes she could tell her how she feels, but believes that Ariel would never understand. Melody then remembers about her birthday party her parents are planning and gets back to the castle without Ariel noticing.
In her bedroom, Ariel helps Melody prepare for the party. Melody confides in her mother that she doesn't really want to attended as she overheard some of the guests making fun of her. Ariel tries to reassure her daughter saying that everyone has trouble fitting in, but realizes that this is more than about the party. Ariel tells Melody that if she has anything troubling her, she can always tell her anything, Melody now believing her mother will understand her true feelings is about to tell her her deep love of the sea, but are interrupted by Eric who takes Melody and Ariel into the ballroom for the party.
Arriving at the ballroom Melody is introduced and soon meets a young prince who asks for her first dance. It starts off beautifully however, it turns into a nightmare when Sebastian accidently ruins the dance and soon destroys Melody's birthday cake while Louie is chasing him. Melody checks to see if Sebastian is alright, but soon everyone at the party starts to laugh at her for talking to a crab. Humiliated, Melody runs out of the ball room. In her bedroom, Melody is in tears over what happened while Ariel comes in to comfort her daughter, Melody picks up the necklace and sees her name on the locket. Furious, Ariel confronts Melody and learns that she has been sneaking out into the ocean. Melody tries to learn why she isn't allowed into the sea and asks about the locket. Ariel however doesn't answer Melody's questiosn, forbids from going into the sea and warns her that the sea is dangerous. Angry at her mother's refusal to answer her questions, Melody takes a boat and sails away from home.
Melody is lured to Morgana’s lair by her manta rays; Morgana acts courteously to Melody and explains that the locket shows her heritage and she can help her become part of it. Undertow believes that Morgana is lying again, but finds that she has a bottle of Ursula's magic. A drop from the bottle lands on Melody's foot and she is lifted into the air in a green vortex that transforms her into a mermaid, filling her with joy. Melody jumps into the water and begins swimming around to her heart's delight. Undertow gets angry with Morgana for not using the potion to change him back, but Morgana tells him she's still reeling Melody into her plot. As Ariel and Eric discover from Sebastian that Melody has runaway, Triton has search parties all over the ocean to try and find her. Eric thinks that it's best that Ariel goes with them as she knows both Melody and the sea better than anyone and Ariel having realized that she shouldn't had kept Melody from the sea agrees with Eric. Triton uses his trident and transforms Ariel back into a mermaid to search for Melody.
Once Melody has calmed down and thanks Morgana for fullfilling her dream, Morgana fakes crying and explains that the spell will only last a few days. The transformation can be made permanent if Melody can get hold of the trident, which she claims was stolen by Triton. However, unbeknownst to Melody, Morgana only wants the trident to make up for her own lack of magical talent. The trident can only be removed from its resting place by a descendant of Triton.
She gets a stone map from Morgana and leaves, signing about her situaion. Soon, she accidently crashes into ice and breaks the map, losing any clue how to get to Atlantica. However, she soon meets Tip the penguin and Dash the walrus, who seek to become heroes. She tells them that she needs to get to Atlantica and retrieve the Trident or she'll change back into a human. Tip is untrusting of her, but Dash convinces him to help out Melody as she is depressed by becoming human again. They begin signing and swimming away, bonding with each other.
They eventually get to Atlantica, where Melody temporarily loses sight of Tip and Dash. She then meets three mer-teens (a blonde girl with a purple tail and seashell bikini top, a Hispanic boy with a red tail and a blond boy with a green tail), who want to befriend her (but don't seem to notice her top is not a sea-shell bikini); Melody accidently introduces herself as "Mel-mel" due to stuttering from being attracted to the blonde mer-boy. Dash and Tip find Melody and pull her away, putting her back on track. They sneak into the throne room, where she sees Triton looking (unknown to her) at Melody's baby photo. Triton then leaves, ordering his men to double their efforts to find her. Melody quickly takes the trident and leaves with Tip and Dash, accidently losing her locket. Unbeknownst to Melody, her mother has just arrived and enters the throne room with Triton, where they see the trident is gone and her locket is on the ground. Ariel is confused as to how Melody could have gotten there, but they focus on finding her as she may cause trouble with the trident.
Melody successfully returns to Morgana with the trident, but is shocked to find Ariel arrive in mermaid form; Ariel is also shocked to see Melody is a mermiad as well. Morgana tries to keep Melody's favor by "scolding" Ariel for not telling her daughter about her origins. Ariel tries to apologize and stop Melody, but before she can explain that Morgana is evil, Melody gives the trident to Morgana. With the trident in her grip, Morgana reveals her true intentions. She kidnaps Ariel and takes her to the surface, while imprisoning Melody behind a wall of ice. She calmly mentions that the spell will wear off by sundown. Morgana uses the trident's magic to lord over the ocean, rising to the surface to gloat. Scuttle, Triton, Sebastian, and Eric arrive, and a battle ensues against Morgana and her minions. Ariel releases herself and rescues Eric from almost drowning while Sebastian clamps his claws down on the tails of Cloak and Dagger.
Soon, Morgana's spell wears off, and Melody returns to human form. Because she is no longer a mermaid, she begins to drown. Melody is freed with the help of Tip and Dash and an unlucky shark. Morgana uses the trident and puts every sea creature under her spell, forcing Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder, King Triton, Tip, and Dash to bow, but before Morgana is about to revive Ursula and Flotsam and Jetsam with the trident, Melody looks down and sees her feet, and realizes that, as she has reverted back to a human, she is able to escape the spell. She manages to grab the trident and throw it back to Triton by climbing up the cliff on which Morgana is standing and sneaking up on her. When Melody does so, Morgana tries to get the trident back, and throws her off the cliff. Just as Melody fears she is facing death, Dash takes action and goes to Melody's falling point; Melody lands on him safely, surviving the fall. Now having had his trident returned to him, Triton confronts Morgana and, saying that Morgana and her spells will not threaten Triton's family ever again, uses it to encase her in a block of ice, which sinks underwater with a picture of Ursula from her kingdom and the icicles began to collapse, trapping Morgana inside.
Melody reunites with her family when Eric takes her from Dash, although she was unconscious again. Melody then comes to seeing her father, holding her in his arms after Ariel told him to bring Melody to her. She then begins to apologize to Ariel, but Ariel says that she and Eric are sorry, and that they should've told her the truth instead of keeping it from her. King Triton offers his granddaughter the option of becoming a mermaid permanently and living with him in Atlantica or living with her parents on land. After looking at her parents (with Ariel giving her a knowing smile), Melody says she has a better idea. The next day, she uses the trident to disintegrate the wall separating her home from the sea and everyone from Atlantica comes to the surface to swim with the locals from the village. Melody bumps into the mer-boy she met before and shyly says hi to him. The humans and merfolk and sea creatures unite in a circle around King Triton, Sebastian, Flounder, Scuttle, Tip, Dash, Ariel, Eric, and Melody. Then King Triton uses his trident's magic to form a rainbow in the sky. As the scene come to a close at the end of the song, Melody giggles.
- Jodi Benson as Ariel
- Tara Strong as Melody (as Tara Charendoff)
- Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian
- Pat Carroll as Morgana
- Rob Paulsen as Prince Eric
- Kenneth Mars as King Triton
- Cam Clarke as Flounder
- Buddy Hackett as Scuttle
- Clancy Brown as Undertow
- Max Casella as Tip
- Stephen Furst as Dash
- René Auberjonois as Louis the Chef
- Edie McClurg as Carlotta the Maid
- Kay E. Kuter as Grimsby the Valet
- Tress MacNeille as Mother Penguin and Baby Penguin
- Frank Welker as Max the Sheepdog
- Will Ryan as Seahorse Herald
- Dee Bradley Baker as Cloak and Dagger
- Diane Michelle - Additional voices
- Justin Schulte as Handsome Boy
- Emily Hart as Mergirl #1
- Blake McIver Ewing as Boy #1 (as Blake Ewing)
- Marcus Toji as Merboy #2
The film was released direct-to-DVD on September 19, 2000. On November 6, 2006, the film was released in a bundle together with the original film in the Region 2 release. The original DVD release was later discontinued and a special edition DVD with a deleted song, "Gonna Get My Wish," and a new game was released on December 16, 2008. A package called The Little Mermaid Trilogy, which includes all three Little Mermaid films, was released on the same day. The film was released on Blu-ray in a 2-Movie Collection with The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning on November 19, 2013.
The film's official soundtrack was released on September 19, 2000. The track list is as follows:
- Down to the Sea
- Tip and Dash (song)
- Iko Iko*
- Octopus's Garden*
- For A Moment
- Give A Little Love*
- Hot, Hot, Hot*
- Here On The Land and Sea
(*Note: These tracks were originally recorded for the album Sebastian: Party Gras!.)
- During the song, Down to the Sea, an edit was made for future releases of the Little Mermaid 2. In the first release Adella and Aquata are both designed similarly to their TV series counterpart, yet in a future release they were both altered to resemble their prequel movie versions.
- Similarly, Ariel's transformation had a slight edit in future releases. In the first release, she was slightly pudgy, similar to some animations of Adella. In the rereleases, she looked exactly as she did in the first film.
- While Sebastian sings Here on the Land and Sea, one of the lyrics is Fun and Fancy Free which is the title of Fun and Fancy Free.
- Tip and Dash are inspired by Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King
- Down to the Sea is similar to Part of Your World.
- The movie's plot is a reverse of the main plot of the first movie; as instead of Ariel, born a mermaid, wishing to become human, it focuses on Melody, born a human, wishing to become a mermaid. This was one of the main reasons why fans hated this movie.
- Christopher Daniel Barnes wasn't able to make the recording and reprise the role of Prince Eric from the original movie. Instead, Rob Paulsen took over the role. However, Barnes did reprise the role for Eric in the Kingdom Hearts games.
- The late Kay E. Kuter who voiced Grimsby in the TV series was chosen to take on the role in the sequel film as well replacing the late Ben Wright who passed away before the first film made in it theaters.
- Alana and Arista did not make an appearance at Melody's Christening.
- The song "Gonna Get My Wish," sung by Pat Carroll who is the voice of Ursula and Morgana and Clancy Brown as Undertow, is on the special edition of this film.
- The unpopularity of this sequel and Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, were cited by John Lasseter as examples of why they should discontinue the Disney Sequel brand.
- Ariel should've explained everything to Melody before or moved somewhere away from the ocean, which she points out a few times.