These stories aren’t your happy endings but rather sometimes gruesome and shocking tales. Fairy tales used to be stories aimed at both adult and child alike and the grown-up themes they portray is good evidence of that. We dug deep with this list to find where our common stories come from and what the original dark (very dark) stories really were. Hold on tight as we dive into these 25 Dark and Disturbing Original Versions Of Children’s Fairy Tales.
In a Brothers Grimm version, Cinderella’s eldest sister, in an attempt to fit into the glass (golden, in their story) slipper, cuts off her toes. The second sister cuts off her heel. In both cases, two doves sent by Cinderella’s dead mother alert the prince of the sisters’ blood in the slippers. Though Cinderella was finally found to be the true owner of the slipper, during her wedding to the prince the doves return and poke her older sisters’ eyes out.
Puss in Boots
Charles Perrault’s Puss in Boots features a cat who wants to make his poor master rich. The cat continually catches rabbits in the forest and gives them to the king, courtesy of the fictitious Marquis of Carabas. One day, he steals the boy’s clothes while he’s bathing in the river and tells the approaching king the boy is the Marquis. After threatening townsfolk to say the boy is the Marquis less the cat turn them into mincemeat (and after tricking a shape-shifting ogre into a mouse form, at which point the cat eats him), the king is convinced and the boy is given the king’s daughter to marry.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
This Brothers Grimm tale paints a much darker story with the evil queen ordering the huntsman to take Snow White into the woods, kill her, and bring back her liver and lungs for the queen to eat. Later in the story, the prince and Snow White are getting married and invite all royalty in the land. The evil queen shows up, unknowing it was her stepdaughter’s wedding. When she arrives, she’s forced to step into burning-hot iron shoes brought from the fireplace and dance until she dies. That’s a hell of a tango.
Hansel and Gretel
The story of Hansel and Gretel may seem benign enough, but it may have referred to the many parents who deserted their children during a major European famine in the 14th century. Or, it might refer to a famous baker whose rival was so jealous of the ginger bread cookies she made he told the town she was a witch; they chased her down and burned her in her own oven.
Chu Renhuo’s version of Mulan has the warrior come home from war to find her father dead, her mother remarried, and the khan calling her to be his concubine. As it’s all too much for her, Mulan kills herself.