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11 Terrible Things That Happened in Your Favorite Childhood Fairy Tales

Updated October 23, 2020 23.8k votes 5.2k voters 430.4k views11 items

List RulesVote 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.

  • Photo: sofi01 / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    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.


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  • Photo: Enrico Mazzanti / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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.

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  • Photo: Johnny Gruelle / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The Prince in Rapunzel Is Blinded When Thorns Stab His Eyes Out

    The story of Rapunzel first recorded by the Brothers Grimm is very similar to any other retelling. An enchantress catches an expecting couple stealing vegetables from her garden and allows them to take them as long as they agree to give her their child. They agree. Rapunzel is thus locked in a tower all her life where she grows her hair to extreme lengths so that the enchantress can use her hair as a ladder when she calls to her, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair!"

    It's quite a bit darker, however, when the prince enters the story. He watches Rapunzel let down her hair, and tries calling to her. It works, and he continues to see her. The enchantress finds out, she waits for him at the top of the tower. Rather than casting a spell on the unexpected prince, he jumps out of the tower and lands on a thorn bush that gouges his eyes out.

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  • Photo: H J Ford / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Jack and the Beanstalk is About Someone Robbing and Murdering an Innocent Man

    In many renditions and recordings of the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack is portrayed as the story's protagonist while the giant is the antagonist. Jack, however, is a terrible person.

    First, rather than selling the family cow Milky-White as his mother requested in order to merely feed them, Jack accepts magic beans. This can be written off as him being gullible and falling for a scam. Fortunately, it works out. The beans create a magical beanstalk that leads him to a giant's home.

    Secondly, when he arrives at the giant's home the giant's wife is gracious enough to feed him, but Jack feels no qualms with stealing the giant family's gold, gold-egg laying hen, and golden harp. When the giant tries to get his belongings back, the boy cuts the beanstalk. The giants falls to his death, while "Jack and his mother became very rich, and he married a great princess, and they lived happy ever after."

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