He has been voiced by Samuel E. Wright, Kevin Michael Richardson and Philip Lawrence.
Sebastian is a sidekick for the Little Mermaid's protagonist Ariel, is a character developed solely for the film, and is not derived from the original Hans Christian Andersen story.
Sebastian was conceived as a musical character for The Little Mermaid, and performs 2 songs ("Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl") that went on to become hits for Disney and were nominated for "Best Original Song" at the 1990 Academy Awards. Voice actor Wright's singing style and the compositions by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken for the Sebastian character lean heavily to calypso and reggae influences.
Sebastian is the king's royal court composer and holds a rather passionate love for music. While usually carefree, Sebastian is often seen to be very grumpy and worrisome. This is mostly due to Ariel's stubbornness, who he is found with regularly. He is also prone to having panic attacks and fearing King Triton will murder him if he slips up on a task. Like the other sea inhabitants, Sebastian holds a great fear of the sea king, King Triton. Despite the fear, he still shows great respect and they are obviously on good terms, friendship wise.
When scared, Sebastian's voice tends to become humorously higher in pitch.
He can be sensitive at times about his size and the fact that his tiny arms prevents him from swimming as fast as Ariel and Flounder. This makes it difficult to tag along on adventures which is why he'll just grab onto Flounder's tail fin.
Despite his size, the enemies of the kingdom, notably Ursula, still find Sebastian to be a big enough threat to foil their plans. Being part of the royal family, Sebastian is fairly intelligent and knows mostly all secrets of the sea, even more so than King Triton. Sebastian is also willing to put his own life on the line, such as willingly swimming to Ursula's lair despite being terrified to save Ariel and later to save Melody, Ariel's daughter.
When the film opens, Sebastian is announced as being the "royal court composer," and conducts a concert that King Triton's seven daughters are supposed to perform in. Ariel, the youngest daughter, fails to show up for the concert, and later Sebastian joins King Triton in scolding her, blaming her for his humiliation. King Triton, worried about Ariel, tasks Sebastian with following her and keeping her out of trouble.
Sebastian tries to do the job given to him, and is horrified when Ariel saves the life of and falls in love with Prince Eric. Sebastian accidentally lets this information slip to King Triton, who confronts Ariel and furiously destroys her grotto filled with her personal treasures. Feeling guilty for having betrayed Ariel, as well as being appalled with Triton's actions, Sebastian willingly follows Ariel when she visits Ursula the sea witch for help, and later becomes an adviser in her quest to win Prince Eric's affections.
In the film, Sebastian starts out in a parental, supervisory role over Ariel, and over time becomes her close friend.
Sebastian appears in every episode of the prequel television series, which follows the adventures of Ariel when she is still a mermaid. In the series, Sebastian's occupation is King Triton's assistant, adviser and confidante, just as he was during Ariel's Beginning. Sebastian is shown as being a good friend of Ariel and Flounder, as well as Urchin, a new character unique to the television series. He is sometimes strict and often critical of Ariel's adventurous ways, but often ends up going on her adventures with her.
In one adventure, in the episode "Island of Fear," he accompanies Ariel as she tries to find the source of a pollutant that is sickening the fish. He befriends a human boy named Daniel, and helps the boy to escape from the evil scientist the boy is forced to work for. This makes it one of the few times in the series that a character directly interacts with a human.
Throughout the series Sebastian's character is further developed via dialogue and entire episodes dedicated to him. In the series, Sebastian is said to have come from a large Jamaican family. In "King Crab" his parents visit him, and it is revealed that he had lied and told them he was the King of Atlantica. In the episode "Tail of Two Crabs", Sebastian has a rivalry with another crab named Zeus, and they both try to one-up the other. According to dialogue in this episode, Sebastian was born in Jamaica and went to Music Academy in Trinidad prior to joining King Triton's staff as his assistant. "T'ank You for Dat, Ariel" reveals that he is somewhat insecure regarding his size.
Sebastian is tasked by King Triton to watch over Ariel's daughter, Princess Melody, repeating his role from the original film. Sebastian disapproves of Melody's obsession over the sea, knowing the dangers that lie within them (namely the witch Morgana, who seeks to unleash her wrath upon Melody and her family), but the headstrong princess fails to listen, finding herself completely captivated by the world of the ocean. One evening, during a ball, Sebastian accidentally finds himself in the ballroom, amongst the crowd of royals, and more importantly, the psychotic Chef Louis, who tries to murder the crab out of spite. Sebastian manages to escape, but unintentionally embarrasses Melody in the process, reinforcing her fear of being an outcast amongst her fellow royals. Later that night, Sebastian tries to cheer up the child, but it results in her leaving into the sea. Sebastian quickly informs Ariel and Eric, and a search breaks through. King Triton is informed of this and, after turning Ariel back into a mermaid, the team takes the search into the waters. Eventually, the family finds themselves battling Morgana at the sea witch's lair. She soon meets her defeat at the hands of Melody, and Witt her out of the way, peace can be restored between land and sea.
In the 2008 prequel, Sebastian is King Triton's attaché, and is initially shown as being a strict enforcer of the sea king's rules. All music has been banned from Atlantica, but it is later revealed that Sebastian has been secretly performing music as the leader of The Catfish Club Band, which performs in an underground club. Technically this makes Sebastian the first character in The Little Mermaid universe to break a major law of Triton's.
When the underground club is revealed to Triton, Sebastian is placed in jail with the rest of his band. Thanks to Ariel, they manage to escape. As part of a premeditated plan, Sebastian leads them far away from Atlantica to a specific spot where Ariel finds her mother's discarded music box. Sebastian wants music to return to Atlantica, and he returns with Ariel to convince Triton to change his mind. When the film ends, music is restored to Atlantica, and Sebastian becomes the "royal court composer", setting up his role in the opening of the original film.
According to this film, Sebastian is the oldest of Ariel's friends, having been present since she was a small child all the way to her own parenthood in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. There is also evidence in the second film, by the time Melody is 12 years old, Sebastian has already become an elderly crab in terms of age.
House of MouseEdit
Sebastian was featured as a recurring guest in House of Mouse. He is usually seen with Ariel.
In the beginning of the episode "Big Bad Wolf Daddy", Sebastian was served alive as Ariel's dinner. This was the only time in the series where Sebastian was treated this way, unlike Flounder, whom was frequently treated this way in the series.
One of his most notable appearances is in the episode "The Mouse Who Came to Dinner" where Mortimer Mouse acts as if he's the critic (when the real critic was Lumiere) and demands Goofy to make him shellfish for dinner. Goofy claims they're all out and uses Sebastian as a substitute. Sebastian and Goofy end up in a comical chase (similar to the Chef Louis vs. Sebastian chase in the Little Mermaid films) for the rest of the episode until Mortimer's charade was exposed.
In "Max's Embarrassing Date" Sebastian begins to perform "Kiss the Girl" for Max and Roxanne, but is stopped when Max loses his temper, because he didn't want all this attention. He only wanted privacy.
In the beginning of the episode "House of Magic," Mickey Mouse told a joke about him having trouble coming into the club, humiliating the crab.
- Sebastian was originally intended to be almost Grimsby-like: posh, British, and uptight. However, the crew chose to portray a more entertaining, fun-loving Sebastian after they got Samuel E. Wright to voice him. Iago from Aladdin underwent a similar character transformation upon Gilbert Gottfried taking the role.