11 Terrible Things That Happened in Your Favorite Childhood Fairy Tales

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Vote up the most disturbing things to happen in these classic fairy tales.

At one time or another in your youth, someone probably read you a fairy tale. At the very least, you saw one of the many Disney versions of a fantastical story that has been around for a few hundred years. But when you think back about everything that actually happened in your favorite children’s story you may start to realize that everything was not as innocent as you believed.

The line between scary fairy tales and a beloved story is incredibly fine, and sometimes the most creepy fairy tales tend to be the most popular. In some stories main characters go through unjustified pain and anguish while in others the protagonists commit unexcusible horrors. Fairy tales derive from moralizing folk stories collected, but in some cases the lessons get lost in the all terrible things that happen.

  • Little Red Riding Hood Eats Her Grandmother's Teeth
    Photo: Anonymous illustrator / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    2,615 VOTES

    Little Red Riding Hood Eats Her Grandmother's Teeth

    There are a lot of versions of Little Red Riding Hood, and the one thing that all of the oldest versions have in common is that poor little Red is tricked by the wolf into eating her own grandmother. But one of the most gruesome versions of the story, named Little Red Hat, originates from the Austro-Italian border, and it replaces the character of the wolf with an ogre.

    The ogre hurries to Little Red Hat's grandmother's house, eats the grandmother, uses her intestines to latch the door, and keeps her blood, teeth, and jaws in the kitchen cupboard before Little Red Hat arrived. When Red finally arrives at the house, she tells the ogre whom she mistakes for her grandmother, "Grandmother, I am hungry." The ogre tells her to go into the cupboard to get herself some "rice." Little Red Hat reaches into the cupboard, takes her grandmother's teeth and tells the ogre "Grandmother, these things are very hard." She eats them anyway, then continues to eat her grandmother's jaw and drink her blood.

    2,615 votes
  • The Little Match Girl Freezes to Death and Dies Alone
    Photo: Hans Tegner / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    2,144 VOTES

    The Little Match Girl Freezes to Death and Dies Alone

    In Hans Christian Anderson's story The Little Match Girl, a poor young girl is caught in the freezing cold winter night on New Year's Eve. She walks around the town shoeless trying to sell matches, but no one had bought any that night. She can't return home out of fear that her father would beat her for not selling any matches, and even if she did return it would make no difference to her situation. She would still be cold and hungry.

    Instead, the little girl sits against a wall striking matches to get the little bit of warmth that each match provides as she imagines the comforts of a better life. But it doesn't last the whole night, for "leaning against the wall, sat the little girl with red cheeks and smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The New Year's sun rose upon a little pathetic figure. The child sat there, stiff and cold, holding the matches, of which one bundle was almost burned."


    2,144 votes
  • The Little Mermaid Is So Tortured That She Tries To End Her Own Life
    Photo: Ivan Bilibine / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    2,058 VOTES

    The Little Mermaid Is So Tortured That She Tries To End Her Own Life

    In the original version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, the little mermaid is subjected to an incredibly torturous life, and endures incredible amounts of both physical and emotional pain in order to ultimately lose the love she sacrificed herself for. The little mermaid is the youngest of six sisters, each promised by their grandmother that they could go to the ocean's surface when they turned 15 years old. She waits 6 years in envy of her sisters as they recount all the beauties of the world above. When she reaches her 15th birthday, she goes to the surface and immediately falls in love with a young prince.

    Interested in the prince and the potential of sharing a life with him, she asks her grandmother about the nature of human beings, but is left disappointed by the conversation. Though she can live much longer than human beings, she doesn't have an immortal soul and will instead turn to sea foam when she dies. She seeks the aid of a sea witch who promises to turn her human and the chance to fall in love and gain a soul, but at a price. The witch will give her a potion that changes her tail into feet, but at a heavy price. Firstly, she must fall in love and marry the prince or she will turn to sea foam. Secondly, she must cut out her own tongue as payment for the potion.

    The mermaid drinks the potion and gains human legs with which she can dance beautifully, but each step feels like "treading upon sharp knives." Despite her personal sacrifices, the prince doesn't fall in love with her and marries a princess from a neighboring state. The mermaid is left heartbroken. Her sisters try to help by speaking with the witch who provides them with a knife so that she can stab the prince in the heart and revert back into a mermaid. Rather than killing the man she loves and suffering from a broken heart, she jumps off the ship in hopes of ending her own life.

    2,058 votes
  • Cinderella's Stepsisters Cut Off Parts of Their Feet So They Can Marry a Prince
    Photo: Offterdinger, photo by Harke / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    2,026 VOTES

    Cinderella's Stepsisters Cut Off Parts of Their Feet So They Can Marry a Prince

    One of the most recognizable objects from these classic fairytales is the glass slipper Cinderella wears to the ball. She losses when trying to leave the party before midnight, and the prince must go around the kingdom in order to find the owner. Many women try to fit them on their feet, including Cinderella's stepsisters, but their feet are much too large. In Aschenputtel, the original German version recorded by the Brother's Grimm, the slippers are not made of glass, however. Furthermore, the stepsisters go to much greater lengths in order to fit their feet in the silk slipper.

    When the prince goes around the kingdom, Aschenputtel's stepmother and stepsisters try to take advantage of the opportunity, but their feet wouldn't fit. The stepmother asks one or her daughters to cut off her heel and the other her toes. Both, however, are called out by two doves. They call out to the prince:

    Turn and peep, turn and peep,
    there's blood within the shoe,
    the shoe it is too small for her,
    the true bride waits for you.

    When the prince finally finds the rightful owner of the shoe, he and Aschenputtel marry. The stepsisters, however, get their eyes pecked out by the doves and are blinded for the rest of their lives.

    2,026 votes
  • Hansel and Gretel's Mother Tries to Trick Her Own Children So They Die
    Photo: sofi01 / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    1,927 VOTES

    Hansel and Gretel's Mother Tries to Trick Her Own Children So They Die

    In the original Brother's Grimm version of Hansel and Gretel, it is the children's mother not their stepmother who attempts to abandon her children in the woods. Hansel and Gretel's impoverished family struggle to have enough food to feed the entire family. She tells their father of her plan, justifying as a necessity since if the two remain alive "then [they] must all four die of hunger, [and he] may as well plane the planks for our coffins." Their father resents the plan, but goes along with it anyway.

    While she's busy convincing her husband to go along with the plan, Hansel overhears their conversation and starts collecting rocks to create a path for their return trip. They're abandoned, but the children make their way back home following Hansel's stone trail. Rather than showing any joy, sorrow, or regret, their mother doubles down. She locks the door at night to prevent the kids from gathering stones, goes deeper into the forest, and abandons them to the wild animals and witches that reside in the woods.


    1,927 votes
  • Pinocchio Smashes The Talking Cricket With A Hammer
    Photo: Enrico Mazzanti / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    1,795 VOTES

    Pinocchio Smashes The Talking Cricket With A Hammer

    The Adventures of Pinocchio was the original story of the living puppet Pinocchio who seeks to become a real boy. Written by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1883, Pinocchio isn't as innocent of a young puppet as he is in the Disney adaptation. Geppetto is a poor man looking to puppeteer in order to make the bare minimum, but when puppet is built he kicks his creator and runs away.

    When he finally returns, a talking cricket tells him "a great truth" that young children should obey their parents. Rather than being a moralizing and guiding voice throughout the story like in the Disney adaptation, Pinocchio gets mad and takes a hammer to the cricket and crushes him.

    1,795 votes