Prince Eric (simply known as Eric) is the deuteragonist of The Little Mermaid and a supporting character in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. He is Ariel's love interest and later husband, father of Melody, son-in-law of King Triton and Queen Athena and brother-in-law of Ariel's Sisters.
In the first film, Eric has decided to date Ariel after she saved him from drowning during a storm.
He is voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes in the original film who also does the voice of Spider-Man in the 1990's Spider-Man animated series and Rob Paulson (who also voiced P.J. and Carl Wheezer) in the sequel.
Eric first appears while on an extensive sea voyage. It is never mentioned where Prince Eric was sailing from or what royalty he descends from. During the first scene of his appearance, Eric hears from working sailors on the deck that because their voyage day is peaceful, that King Triton was in a favorable mood. Upon further questioning, Eric learns that Triton is the ruler of the mer-people under the sea.
Later while still at sea, Eric talks about his search for love. His confidant and oldest friend Grimsby gave him counsel on the subject. While Eric was virtually attentive of the advice, he was determined to find love on his own terms. Coincidentally, Ariel, the youngest of King Triton's beautiful daughters also was searching for love among other goals in her life. She spotted Eric from the vantage point of the ship deck she climbed to one night during a party among the sailors. She admired the handsome prince as he played and made music with his best friend Max the dog.
The next time Ariel saw Eric was during a terrible storm at sea. Eric's heroics aboard the ship, included saving his dog Max and getting other sailors to safety, was ended when an explosion occurred, sending him off the ship. Ariel retrieved his unconscious body from the depths of the sea and swam him to shore during the night. Eric slept until morning, waking to the sound of Ariel's beautiful singing for him, professing her love for Eric. At the sound of Max and Grimsby arriving, Eric was left alone with the lingering vision of a girl singing to him.
Prince Eric rescued Ariel after she became human and was being chased by Max on the same beach she carried Eric to. Although unable to full determine where he had seen Ariel's strikingly familiar face before, Eric took her into his home. Adding further intrigue was the fact that Ariel could not speak. As part of her contract with Ursula the Sea Witch to become human, she could only rely on sign, body language and her looks, all of which even the scheming Ursula admitted were in high marks in Ariel's favor. Eric would spend considerable time taking Ariel around the kingdom in carriage rides and visiting different places in town. One fateful evening, the two enjoyed a splendid boat ride amidst willows trees and lily pads, and fireflies. The mood was accompanied by Sebastian's own lyrical contributions, encouraging Eric to kiss Ariel—a goal of Ariel's to accomplish before a time limit expired on her human transformation as per the agreement she made with Ursula. Literally lips-length apart, this nearly came true until Ursula's eels Flotsam and Jetsam intervened, upturning their boat.
Eric later fell into a melancholy, unable to settle on what was waiting for him: the love of his life. During a night out on the balcony, Eric heard mysterious singing coming from the beach. It came in the form of a beautiful brunette girl named Vanessa. Her voice sounded exactly as Ariel's (unknown to Eric was the fact that Ursula took Ariel's voice as payment and later used it in her guise as Vanessa to seduce Eric), instantly hypnotizing Eric into falling in love with her. By the next morning, Ariel awoke to the heartbreaking news that Eric and Vanessa were going to marry by sunset that same day which also was the last day of Ariel's human enchantment.
Vanessa and battle with Ursula
On a ceremonial ship, decorated for the wedding, Eric was rescued from marrying Vanessa after Ariel and her sea friends Flounder, Sebastian and Scuttle along with Max, crashed the wedding. Ursula's disguise was revealed after the shell necklace she wore containing Ariel's voice was broken. Ariel's voice returned just in time to reveal her love for Eric and that she was the one Eric loved all along. Before they could consummate their love with a kiss, Ariel fell upon the ship deck with no use of her legs as they returned to fins, revealing her true species as a mermaid. Ursula also turned to her octopus-legged self again and kidnapped Ariel, taking her back under the sea with her. Eric took a row boat out and followed as far as he could before diving beneath the turbulent waves.
Ursula had taken Ariel as her prisoner until King Triton and Sebastian arrived to confront her. Ursula revealed the binding contract she and Ariel drew and made a counterproposal to release Ariel in exchange for Triton's surrender of his crown, trident and kingdom. Triton's parental instincts gave in and agreed to her terms. After Ariel's father was turned into a member of her ghoulish garden, Ariel attempted to fight Ursula but was overpowered. Before Ursula could harm Ariel, Eric made the save with a harpoon to her arm. He swam up to his boat before being dragged back down and get tied up by Flotsam and Jetsam. After Sebastian and Flounder helped free him, Ursula attempted to kill Eric with the trident's powers. Ariel struggled with Ursula again, causing her to misfire and thus the trident killed Flotsam and Jetsam, angering her. Eric and Ariel reunited briefly before Ursula grew to gigantic size, emerging from the sea depths.
Ursula caused a monstrous maelstrom that trapped Ariel in the dry center, allowing Ursula to play a cruel game of target practice with the use of the trident, firing lightning at Ariel. In the maelstrom, Eric swam aboard a wrecked ship that had a broken bow sailing mast. He steered the ship towards Ursula on a collision course resulting in Ursula being impaled on the broken mast. Eric then barely swam back to shore after Ursula's dark magic was undone, freeing the garden of trapped merfolk and the King, all restored to their original forms. Eric passed out once more on the beach.
Marriage to Ariel
Ariel stayed once more at Eric's side until he regained consciousness. King Triton also stayed and watched this with Sebastian, gradually realizing how much his daughter truly loved the prince. Sebastian suggested an allegedly constant quotation of his stating that children must be let free to lead their own lives. After a brief chuckle between the two, the King stated how much he was going to miss his daughter and then turned his trident into the water and granted Ariel her humanity. By the closing minutes of the first adventure, Eric and Ariel married and shared their first official kiss.
Little Mermaid II
Marriage life and family
Eric continued his role as a deuteragonist in the stories involving Ariel. He retains his status as royalty while balancing his role as a husband. Eric and Ariel eventually welcomed their first child whom they named Melody. When Melody's life is threatened by Ursula's vengeful sister Morgana, Eric and Ariel decide that until Morgana is dealt with, Melody must no nothing about the sea or her mermaid heritage.
12 years later, after Melody goes out to sea, Eric personally directed his royal fleet to search for her. He also persuaded Ariel to become a mermaid again in order to search the sea for Melody as she knew the sea and Melody better than anyone. Eric also commanded the fleet to engage Morgana during the all-out battle that later followed upon rescuing Melody.
Along with his wife Ariel, the Prince is very loving and caring towards their daughter and both he and Ariel have demonstrated the depths of their love for their family as they would go to extremes to protect their daughter.