10 Versions of Fairytales You Wouldn't Want To Tell Your Kids

The sweet fairytales that captured our imaginations as children and are instant box office hits as Disney movies originally sounded much different than we know them today. Many of them were actually quite gruesome and happy endings were few and far between.


1. Little Red Riding Hood – The Cannibal

Little Red Riding Hood has many variations, but some of the most gruesome hail from Italy and Austria. The wolf is often an ogre who pretends to be Red’s grandmother while feeding her a delicious meal. What Red perceives as being steak, rice and a goblet of wine are actually her grandmother’s flesh, teeth and blood, practically turning Red into a cannibal without knowing it. The wolf (or ogre) would also get the girl to disrobe and throw the clothes in the fire in some versions. He convinces her to jump into bed with him, after which he eats her alive, ending the story.


2. Rumpelstiltskin’s Suicide

We all know that Rumpelstiltskin disappears in rage after the queen (previously the miller’s daughter) manages to guess his real name, but in the original story by the Brothers Grimm, his exit was a bit more gruesome. In the original version, he exclaimed that the devil must have told the queen his secret. He stomped his right foot so hard that his whole leg got stuck in the earth. In his rage he used both hands to pull at his left leg, so hard that he tore himself in two. Although the story gets cut off abruptly here, you can’t help but wonder who cleaned the bisected dwarf from the royal carpet.


3. Goldilocks, The Old Criminal

In the 1837 adaptation of The Three Bears by Robert Southey, Goldilocks was actually a criminal little old woman, who broke into the Bears’ home. The tidy Bears left their windows open like all Bears do and when the little old woman jumped out of it, she might have either broken her neck in the fall, gotten lost in the woods or was arrested by the constable and sent to jail, according to the author.


4. The Frog Prince’s Abuse

It always mystified me that a princess, who can’t stand frogs, would be swayed to actually kiss it. In earlier versions of the tale, the Frog Prince would only transform after the princess threw him against the wall with all her might. In other iterations, the amphibious prince was either decapitated or burnt before the curse was broken.


5. The Conspiracy to Kill Beauty

In Jean-Marie LePrince de Beaumont’s 1757 version of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty’s two jealous sisters conspired to have her eaten by the Beast. This happened during a break, when the Beast allowed Beauty to visit her family. The sisters decided to be extra pleasant to Beauty and try to detain her past the initial week leave that the Beast had granted her, hoping that he would be so furious about her staying away that he would devour her. Beauty fell for the plan and wept for joy when her sisters were so nice to her and allowed them to keep her a week longer.


6. Hansel and Gretel – An Attempt At Homicide

Hansel and Gretel is quite a gruesome story to start with if you think about it: a cannibalistic witch lures the kids to a candy house and they end up killing her by throwing her into the fire. But the whole reason why Hansel and Gretel found themselves in the predicament in the first place was because their own parents tried to kill them. In the midst of a famine, the family could not afford two extra mouths to feed and the kids were dumped in the forest where they would surely die.


7. Sleeping Beauty’s Rape

In the original 1634 poem by Giambattista Basile,  Sleeping Beauty is quite a horrific story. Instead of waking the sleeping girl with a kiss, the king grows “hot with lust” when he sees her and rapes her instead. She becomes pregnant and nine months later, helpful fairies attend to the birth of her twins.  As one of the babies sucks her finger, the spell is broken and she wakes up as a mother. Strangely enough, she falls in love with the father of her children, but he is already married and his jealous wife would have nothing of this new woman and her kids. The jealous queen secretly arranges to have the children kidnapped and cooked to feed them to their father and threatens to burn Sleeping Beauty to death, but the king sentences his wife to death instead when he learns about her devious plans. Only then begins the happily ever after…


8. Rapunzel’s Prince – A Failed Suicide With Grave Consequences

In the original story, when Rapunzel’s prince discovered that his true love’s hair were shorn and that she was exiled from her tower, he threw himself from the tower to his death. His fall was however broken by brambles, in which he landed face-first, turning him blind. Blind and miserable, he wandered the wilderness, living an animalistic life. Fortunately for him, Rapunzel had magic tears, which miraculously restored his eye sight.


9. The Little Mermaid Considered Killing Her Prince

In the original Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 fairytale, there were no funny singing birds and crustaceans and absolutely no Disney happy ending. By trying to be something she was not, the mermaid paid a horrible price. Not only was her tongue chopped off for good, but her human legs had her in constant pain as it felt like she was stabbed with a knife every time she gave a step. Needless to say, she could not convince her prince of true love in this state and he ended up marrying another woman. At this stage, the mermaid seriously considered stabbing him to death (hell hath no fury…) because she knew his blood would magically transform her back into a fish-like being. She ended up deciding against it and rather melted into the sea foam, where she would haunt the seas as a “daughter of the air.”


10. Cinderella’s Stepsisters Chopped Off Parts Of Their Feet

In modern, more child-friendly versions, Cinderella’s evil stepsisters try to trick the prince by cramming their feet into the glass slipper, but in the original story they went as far as mutilating themselves. The two actually chopped off their heels and toes for a more perfect fit and the prince only noticed the blood gushing from the shoe when his attention was brought to it by two pigeons. 

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