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~ King Triton watching Ariel gaze at an unconscious Eric.
Never again, will you or your hordes threaten my family! There will be no escape for you! EVER!!!
~ King Triton to Morgana as he imprisons her in a small iceberg.
King Triton is the false antagonistic tritagonist of Disney's 28th full-length animated feature film, The Little Mermaid and a major character in its sequels. His character is somewhat similar to the Greek Mythology sea god, Poseidon.
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 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. She has for many years been seeking a way to exact her revenge upon King Triton for banishing her from the kingdom and become queen of the ocean.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
The Little Mermaid: The Series
Sebastian: Party Gras!
The Little Mermaid
In The Little Mermaid, Triton shows severe distaste for humans, and Ariel's fascination with them strains their relationship. Because of this, Triton orders his servant, Sebastian, to look after Ariel. When Triton discovers that Ariel has fallen in love with a human prince named Eric, he destroys her grotto and collection of human artifacts in a fit of anger. After Ariel disappears, Triton subsequently orders a search for her to apologize, not knowing that she has accepted Ursula's deal and become a human. When Sebastian arrives with news of Ursula's scheme, he offers to take his daughter's place. Triton is transformed into a polyp by Ursula, but is restored to his original form when she is defeated by Eric. Seeing that Ariel is happy with Eric, Triton uses his trident to transform Ariel into a human.
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
Triton appears in the sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return To The Sea, where he meets his newborn granddaughter Melody and gifts her a necklace to show her mermaid heritage. However, after Melody's life is threatened by Ursula's sister Morgana, Ariel decides that for Melody's safety, she must not know about the sea or her mermaid heritage, meaning that she cannot have contact with Triton and the other merfolk. Triton reluctantly throws the necklace away and assigns Sebastian to watch over Melody for him. 12 years later after Melody goes out to sea, Triton turns Ariel back into a mermaid to look for her. Morgana tricks Melody into stealing Triton's trident and makes Triton and the other merfolk bow to her, but Melody (being human) is immune to the spell and takes back the trident and gives it to Triton, who defeats Morgana by trapping her in a block of ice. Triton then asks Melody if she wishes to be a mermaid permanently, but Melody instead wishes to destroy the wall that was built to stop her getting to the sea all those years ago.
The death of King Triton's wife, Queen Athena, may be the reason why he forbade Ariel and his other daughters from interacting with humans in the original film. Athena's death was a misunderstanding because the ship had unintentionally crushed her.
In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, it seems that Triton's overprotectiveness came to Ariel, his daughter, as both of them forbade from their daughters (Ariel in Triton's case, and Melody in Ariel's case) to do something they wanted (Going up to the surface in Triton's case, and Going to the sea in Ariel's case). However, both Triton and Ariel did this to protect their daughters from a danger (Humans who might kill Ariel in Triton's case, and Morgana in Ariel's case) In both cases, their daughters sought the help of villains (Ariel to Ursula, and Melody to Morgana) which eventually put everyone in Atlantica and the human world in serious danger. The difference is that Ursula is well known to all, including Ariel; Melody on the other hand never knew that Morgana is evil when she sought her help.
A theory among Disney fans is that King Triton, alongside his daughters (including Ariel) are related to Hercules. King Triton confirms that Poseidon is his father in one of the episodes of the animated series, and if true, would make him cousins with Hercules, whose father is Zeus whose brother is Poseidon. However, it is not confirmed whether or not the Disney incarnation of Poseidon is fact his father as Hercules is set roughly 3000 years before The Little Mermaid. However this can also be countered by the fact that King Triton is technically a god and thus is immortal.