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 peachy keen as you believed. From stepsisters cutting off their own feet, to beloved characters beating their friends to death with a hammer, there are a lot of creepy things that happened in fairy tales and we’re going to break them all down for you.
The line between scary fairy tales and a beloved story is much finer than you’d think. It may not even exist. As you read this collection of terrible things that happened in your favorite fairy tales, you’ll find that the most creepy fairy tales tend to be the most popular. We don’t know why children’s authors wanted to torture their readers with stories that were plucked directly from their nightmares, but we’re still talking about them today so whatever they did worked. You’re probably already thinking of a few horrible things that happened in one of your beloved fairy tales, but get ready to be shocked by what you read.
Vote up the most terrible things that happened in your favorite childhood fairy tales, and if we missed something especially disturbing, tell us which fictional story creeped you out the most.
In most cases, Disney's rewriting of famous fairy tales to be more "on brand" can feel stifling, but in the case of Pinnochio we think they made a good decision. Instead of the wooden sweetheart that we all remember, the original version of Pinnochio saw the puppet protagonist acting like a total dick to everyone he met. He even kills the story's version of Jiminey Cricket, who warns him of the perils of disobedience, with a hammer. "Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket."
Why was Hans Christian Anderson obsessed with killing young woman? When you look at all of stories next to one another, especially this tale of a homeless girl who's burning matches to stay warm on New Year's Eve, it seems like Anderson was simply a ghoul who delighted in grinding his characters into dust. Maybe he delighted in the knowledge that children would soon be reading nightmarish bon mots like: "But in the corner, 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."
When Meatloaf sang that he would do "anything for love" do you think he meant that he would cut off his own toes so he could follow through on an elaborate scheme to trick someone into marrying him? Probably not. But that's exactly what both of Cinderella's stepsisters do when they want to marry the handsome prince who was so beguiled by their sister/maid. To be fair, their mom had to twist their arms a bit. "Then her mother gave her a knife, and said, "Cut a piece off your heel. When you are queen you will no longer have to go on foot."
And if you think the brutality ends there, you are so so so wrong. Once the prince and Cinderella finally marry, two doves swoop down and peck out an eye of each sister. Is this a fairy tale or an Eli Roth movie?
Stop reading here if you ever want to eat rice again. 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 has an ogre rather than a wolf killing Red's grandmother, using her intestines to latch the door, and keeping her blood, teeth, and jaws in a jar. When Red finally arrives at the house, the story gets really gross:
"Little Red Hat opened the door, went inside, and said, 'Grandmother, I am hungry.' The ogre replied, 'Go to the kitchen cupboard. There is still a little rice there.' Little Red Hat went to the cupboard and took the teeth out. "Grandmother, these things are very hard!'"