Hans Christian Andersen originally wrote The Little Mermaid in 1837, which, besides inspiring the Disney film, inspired this famous bronze sculpture in Copenhagen. It's one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Danish capital.
In old British folklore, mermaids (or sirens) are a sign of bad luck and don't just predict disaster; they cause it. This type of dangerous seductress mermaid is illustrated in "The Fisherman and the Syren" (1856-58) by Frederic Leighton.
In 2012, villagers gathered to celebrate the pagan holiday of Rusalye, which is devoted to water nymphs, in the village of Sosny, Russia. In Slavic mythology Rusalka is a water nymph whose original name meant "red-haired girl" and vernacularly translates as "mermaid" from Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian. According to legends, the rusalki were the most dangerous in early June — during Rusalka Week — when they would come out of the water and visit the village, walking through fields and meadows and dragging swimmers down to the river bottom.
Many artists over the years have portrayed mermaids in their works of art, including Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse in 1901's "A Mermaid."
Australian professional swimmer Annette Kellerman played the finned title character Merrilla in the 1918 movie Queen of the Sea.
The mermaid performers at Weeki Wachee Springs have been showing off their fins since the '40s! Today, they also do a mermaid camp for aspiring underwater dwellers.
Performers waited before diving into a performance of The Little Mermaid at Florida's Weeki Watchee Springs State Park in 2012.
In this 1948 movie, Mr. Peabody falls in love with a mischievous mermaid while on vacation.
Who doesn't love the feisty, jealous mermaids in Disney's 1953 classic Peter Pan? Even when they try to pull poor Wendy into the water.
This costume- and sometimes toplessness-filled festival began in 1983 and takes place every year in June.
Not much has changed with the annual Coney Island mermaid parade. This lady posed in her scant attire at this year's event.
Daryl Hannah made a "splash" playing mermaid Madison in this famous 1984 film.
The undersea princess Ariel from the 1989 animated movie — celebrating its 25th anniversary today! — is one of the most famous modern mermaids. Who else used to pretend to be her and her sisters in the pool when you were little?
Actress and singer Jodi Benson provided the voice of Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid. She posed at the "Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid" attraction in Disney World's new Fantasyland that opened in 2012.
Sorry, I mean "merman." Poor Derek Zoolander — his dad just didn't understand his male model duties in the 2001 comedy.
In 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we got to see the mermaids of the series come to life on the big screen. The underwater merpeople may look beautiful in the stained-glass window, but they are frightening when wielding a spear! Their creepy appearance is similar to the CGI creatures in Animal Planet's latest special on the possible existence of mermaids.
Here's the other, much nicer depiction of the lake mermaids in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Any other fans of the brief-lived show Pushing Daisies (2007-2009) fell in love with the synchronized swimming sisters the Darling Mermaid Darlings.
Although Syrena was a nice mermaid in 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the other ones were more on the vicious side.
Lady Gaga's alter ego Yüyi the Mermaid first appeared in 2011 in her performance of "The Edge of Glory" on Le Grand Journal and then a few months later reappeared in a wheelchair at the singer's Sydney performance. Then Lady Gaga truly became Yüyi in her dark (and bizarre) music video for "Yoü and I."
But the mermaid in the wheelchair idea wasn't put on the map by Gaga; Bette Midler has been performing as one since the '80s. And Bette wasn't shy about letting Gaga know when she tweeted, "Dear @ladygaga Ive been doing singing mermaid in a wheelchair since 1980—You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits—mermaid's mine."
Most recently, Bette used the wheelchair-bound mermaid character Delores de Lago during her "The Showgirl Must Go On" Vegas show from 2008 to 2010. And she put the mermaid costume on auction in 2012.
Getting in on two trends at once, Katy Perry posted this picture of her planking as a mermaid on Twitter on the set of a promotional photo shoot for GHD Air hair dryers. It was bad timing for the pop singer to put up the pic, since she was accused of copying Lady Gaga. Mermaid drama!
As a part of Animal Planet's Monster Week, the network did a "docufiction" special in 2012 exploring the possibility that mermaids really existed. The sci-fi show imagines what they would really look like (a bit scary and similar to Harry Potter's version) and why they've stayed hidden, using stories and faux science.
Self-proclaimed "merman" Eric Ducharme was featured on TLC's My Crazy Obsession reality TV for being, you guessed it, obsessed with mermaids. He makes mermaid tails and participates in "mermaiding," or swimming with a mermaid tail on.
Mirella Ferraz, also known as Brazilian mermaid, kissed a visitor as she swam with fish in a giant tank during a show at an aquarium in São Paulo, Brazil.
Linden Wolbert calls herself a mermaid, and for good reason. She quit her day job to become a professional mermaid and can hold her breath under water for five minutes, even diving deep down in the ocean and swimming back up, all with a mermaid tail on.
Miss Denmark Josefine Hewitt wore a mermaid outfit as her national costume at the 2012 Miss Universe National Costume event in Las Vegas.
A man dressed up as a more voluptuous (and hairy) Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid at New York Comic-Con this year.
In anticipation of Sofia Coppola's live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, Funny or Die created this parody trailer starring AnnaSophia Robb and Evan Peters.