King Triton is a character who first appeared in the 1989 Disney animated film The Little Mermaid. He was voiced by late Kenneth Mars in the first two films and by Jim Cummings in the 2008 prequel. His character is somewhat similar to the Greek Mythology sea god Poseidon.
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.
In the original film, 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.
Triton first appears at a concert in Atlantica, presented by the seahorse serving as the host. After Sebastian the crab, the distinguished royal court composer and Triton's loyal servant, is presented, Triton and Sebastian have a discussion about how they anticipate the concert due to Ariel, Triton's youngest daughter, is supposed to make her musical debut. But Ariel turns out to be absent, to Triton's extreme fury.
After an initial argument with Ariel over her latest trip to the surface, Triton orders 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 horrified over his 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. Ariel apologises to her father, who attempts to destroy the contract between Ariel and Ursula, to no avail. Upon learning from Ursula that Ariel had signed an agreement with Ursula and that she may be willing to make an exchange for someone even better, Triton willingly takes his daughter's place, despite knowing the cost of his choice. Triton is temporarily transformed into a polyp, but after Ursula is destroyed, he is restored to his original form and regains both his crown and his trident, as well as his regal status.
By the end of the film, Triton has softened his attitude and realised that he was making a mistake thinking humans were vicious. Noticing how Ariel loves Prince Eric, as much as Triton loves his daughter as well as considering Sebastian's statement "children got to be free to lead their own lives," transforms Ariel into a human once again, allowing Ariel to be with Eric. He is later seen at the wedding of Ariel and Eric, where he gives his daughter a heartwarming hug and accepts Eric as his son-in-law.
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 recognise his mistakes, such as when he apologised 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.
He does seem to have some confidence in his daughter's abilities, as he once allowed her to go and explore the source of a trail of pollution. He would later travel to the surface, 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 confided in an elderly sea turtle named Dudley, who serves as an advisor.
Triton appears in the sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. He seems to trust humans, or at least his son-in-law, Eric, 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.
The third film somewhat reveals the reason behind Triton's xenophobia and why he banned Ariel from going to the surface at the beginning of the original film; pirates attack merpeople on shore, and his wife got killed in the process.
Kingdom Hearts Series
King Triton plays a role in the Kingdom Hearts video game series, again as Ariel's overprotective father who openly berates the worlds outside the ocean floor. In the original game, he appears to have impressive knowledge of the worlds outside Atlantica, despite said worlds supposedly being a secret. Triton also shows awareness of the Keyblade and its lore, proving he's been aware of the events of the Kingdom Hearts universe even longer than the protagonist Sora.
Triton makes his first appearance in the series' flagship instalment, Kingdom Hearts where he forbids Sora, Donald and Goofy from interacting with his world in their quest to find and seal the keyhole, knowing Ariel's fascination with worlds outside of Atlantica would lead her into trouble during the trio's mission. However; after Ursula causes havoc in search of the keyhole, as well, Triton leaves it in the hands of Sora, Donald, Goofy and Ariel to stop her, eventually revealing the keyhole to be within Ariel's grotto.
In Kingdom Hearts II, the king's worries are switched from Ariel's obsession with the worlds outside of Atlantica, to the human world above the sea surface. To revert her mind from it, he asks Sora, Donald and Goofy to help Ariel instead focus on Sebastian's concert, in which she's set to sing in. Thinks take a turn for the worse when Ursula returns and attacks, taking over the sea and transforming Triton into a polyp. However, due to the actions of Prince Eric, the heroes are able to save the day, and the king, teaching Triton the surface isn't all bad, thus allowing his daughter access to the surface, as well as Eric's hand in marriage.
King Triton made a few cameos in the series House of Mouse. 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 is featured in several attractions in the park often related to the film in which he originated from.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
King Triton has his own spell card known as "King Triton's Trident".
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure
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.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
King Triton makes a vocal appearance in the beginning of the show confronting Ariel about humans. Triton re-appears in animation on screen with Sebastian speaking as he did in the end of the original film.
Magic, Music and Mayhem
King Triton is called forth by Fairy Godmother to join the celebration by bringing the magic of the sea. Triton later battles Captain Hook when he crashes the party.
Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Triton appears at the resort alongside other Little Mermaid characters as a 35-foot tall statue seen in The Little Mermaid courtyard.
|The Little Mermaid|
Television: The Little Mermaid: The Series