Don't be scared. We represent someone who can help you... someone who can make all your dreams come true.
~ Flotsam and Jetsam convincing Ariel to turn to Ursula for help.
Flotsam and Jetsam are the secondary antagonists from Disney's 28th full-length animated feature film The Little Mermaid, which is based on the 1837 Danish fairytale of the same name by the late Hans Christian Andersen. They are teal moray eels who serve as loyal minions of the Sea Witch named Ursula.
Unlike Disney henchmen in some films, who are depicted as incompetent and abused by their masters and mistresses, Flotsam and Jetsam are very competent in their work for Ursula, who treats them lovingly as pets, despite ordering them so much.
They were ordered by Ursula to persuade miserable and desperate merpeople to visit the Sea Witch and ask her to help them for a price, allowing her to make deals with them and potentially transform them into polyps if they fail to uphold their end of their bargain.
They were both voiced by the late Paddi Edwards, who also played Gozer in Ghostbusters. In all other appearances, they were both voiced by Corey Burton.
The eels are excessively beloved by Ursula, who refers to them as her own children. The eels serve as Ursula's minions and spies, often sneaking around Atlantica, spotting out Ursula's next potential victim.
Unlike most other Disney villains' henchmen who are portrayed as rather comical and bubbly compared to their superiors, Flotsam and Jetsam are portrayed as dark and mysterious lackeys who are surprisingly competent at bringing merfolk to Ursula's lair, matching well with Ursula's wickedness.
They are also incredibly intelligent and known for their efficiency at completing Ursula's tasks successfully (a departure from typical Disney movies where the henchmen are clumsy and botch up every plan), successfully preventing Ariel from kissing Eric. However, Ursula decides to “take matters into her own tentacles” (in her words).
Oddly enough, in the TV series that preceded the film chronologically, the eels are incompetent and meek creatures. It is unknown how they became evil and efficient beings.
The Little Mermaid
When Ursula learned of the disobedient princess of the merpeople kingdom, Ariel, she sent Flotsam and Jetsam to watch over Ariel as she became more desperate to achieve her dream of becoming a human and being part of the world on land, knowing that if her obsession continued it would not be difficult to make Ariel sign a contract with her.
When Ariel's father, King Triton, destroyed her collection of human items (including a statue of the human prince Eric), Flotsam and Jetsam arrived to talk to her, and found her crying her heart out. They persuaded her that Ursula could help her with her problems even if her father would not.
At first, Ariel did not trust the eels, but when Flotsam and Jetsam reminded the princess of her love for Eric, she changed her mind and accepted their invitation to Ursula's home in the belly of a deceased Leviathan. Ursula was able to turn Ariel into a human, at the cost of her voice.
The deal was that if Ariel could get Eric to kiss her within three days, she could remain human forever, at the price of not being able to speak and not getting to see her father or her sisters. If she could not, she would turn back into a mermaid, as well as be bound to Ursula forever. When Ariel's friends, Sebastian and Flounder, attempted to stop her, Flotsam and Jetsam wrapped themselves around them to keep them quiet. However, they let them go after Ariel is finally turned into a human, allowing both Sebastian and Flounder to take her up to the surface.
After Ariel had become human with some of Ursula's dark magic, the now-human princess met Prince Eric in person, and they fell in love, though Eric did not recognize her as the woman that had rescued him earlier due to Ariel being unable to speak. While the two were in a swamp, they attempted to kiss. Ursula, attempting to keep the two from kissing, sent Flotsam and Jetsam to sabotage the couple's time together by tipping their boat over. They are successful in doing so, and Ursula praises them for a job well done. However, she decides that it is too risky to let Ariel and Eric's relationship continue to blossom, and she transforms herself into a human.
Durring the climax of the film when Ursula succeeds in becoming ruler of the ocean, Flotsam and Jetsam chase after Prince Eric when he headed back up to the surface, and dragged him back underwater. However, Sebastian clips one of the eels' tail with his pincer claw, while Flounder repeatedly slaps the other eel senseless, letting Eric escape. When Ursula attempted to kill Eric by shooting him with Triton's magic trident, Ariel pulled the Sea Witch's hair back, causing her to kill the eel duo by accident instead.
Before they died, both Flotsam and Jetsam are known to succeed in the tasks Ursula has given to them. Because of that, Ursula is completely shocked that she killed her eels by accident and mourns for them out of remorse for a moment, and then turns her rage on Eric and Ariel in retaliation. She would meet her demise shortly afterwards.
The Little Mermaid (TV series)
Flotsam and Jetsam appear in The Little Mermaid TV series which is set a year or so before the first film. Their relationship with Ursula in this series differs from the film as she treats them harshly in the series rather than kindly in the film.
To this date, the eels are often cited as Disney's darkest henchmen.
In one scene of the movie, when Ursula is telling them to keep an eye out on Ariel, one of them hits his head on the top, causing the other to look at him for a little bit. This might be known that they might be twins, in which it is unknown which of them is the older of the two.
Flotsam and Jetsam were briefly mentioned by Captain Hook in the Jake and the Never Land Pirates episode "The Sword and the Stone".
Flotsam and Jetsam are apparently the only henchmen from The Little Mermaid franchise to actually die at the end of their film.
Flotsam and Jetsam are unique among most Disney villain minions, as they seem to be competent at everything they do (though in the TV show, they are considerably less competent).
Flotsam and Jetsam were voiced by the late Paddi Edwards, who was also the voice of Gozer, the main antagonist of the first Ghostbusters film, who is portrayed as an evil and blasphemous Sumerian god who in that film's climax, becomes a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to attack the titular Ghostbusters.
Ursula's reaction to Flotsam and Jetsam's deaths, prompting her to attack Ariel and Eric, was probably inspired by a similar scene near the end of Sleeping Beauty where Maleficent attacks Prince Philip and the Three Good Fairies after the latter turns Diablo, her pet raven, to stone.