15 Horrifying Original Stories Behind Your Favorite Tales

We all loved fairy tales growing up. You know, the Mother Goose and Disney type of stuff. While you might already know that these stories were taken from original tales back in the day, you may not know the disturbing and disgusting parts that come with it. In the original versions of these stories, there is no happy ending. Usually, there is only death and destruction. Sorry to break it to you, but many of your favorite characters were actually evil or tortured! We recommend you do not read this list if you want to keep your precious childhood memories intact. The original stories may give you nightmares. How did they come up with this stuff, and why did they think it was a good idea to tell these stories to children? There are ways to teach your kids lessons and show them morals without absolutely traumatizing them! Here are some of the most disturbing tales you never ever knew were disturbing.

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15 The Little Mermaid


The animated version of this was amazing. Bright red hair, a seashell bra, and a talking crab as a sidekick? With fun songs and a happy ending, this movie became a favorite for many. But in the original, what starts out the same takes an incredibly dark turn. The story is about a 10-year-old mermaid (and we thought age 16 in the movie was pushing it!) who longs to experience life on land. So far so good. The usual story goes on—Ariel rescues the prince and pines for him. The deal she makes with Ursula is a little different, however. In exchange for her ability to speak (which she solves by CUTTING OFF HER TOUNGE), she gives her legs, but only under the condition that it feels like she is walking on knives the whole time. Yikes! If she fails to marry the prince in the allotted time Ursula gives her, she will die and turn into sea foam. And yup: that is exactly what happens.

14 Beauty And The Beast


Do not expect Gaston in this tale. Do not expect the talking furniture either, which were arguably the best characters. In this version, Belle has siblings and her dad has lost a fortune. Belle quickly adapts to her new life of little luxury and her sisters hate her for it. Like in the movie, Belle’s father gets lost and takes shelter in the Beast’s castle. However, he survives the night and the next day, picks a rose from the garden for Belle, who said she wanted one. And THAT is what enrages the Beast! This time Belle’s father is allowed to go home and discuss the deal: he will be free if one of his daughters takes his place. Belle is cool, calm, and collected and volunteers. The Beast is much friendlier in this version, however. He declares himself Belle’s servant and shares his meals with her. He allows her to go visit her family for a week, even! Her rotten sisters trick her into staying longer, and when Belle returns she find the Beast dead from starvation and a broken heart.

13 Cinderella


Okay so first things first: Cinderella’s mother still dies (right after encouraging Cinderella to be a good person) and his dad re-marries. Only in this movie, the dad doesn't die. He just looks away when Cinderella is being mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. Nice dad you got there, Cindy! The worst part? THERE IS NO FAIRY GODMOTHER. One would think that this is integral to the plot, but in the original German version, the magic comes from a tree. While the stepdaughters ask her father to bring them extravagant gifts, Cinderella just asks for a branch. (Weird, but okay.) She plants it on her mother’s grave and it grows to be a tree. Surprisingly, like in the movie, she does have helpful animal friends, except birds instead of mice. Her stepmother gives her a challenge that if she can pick out lentils from a big pile of ash, she can go to the ball. The birds help her do it and then she finds her dresses—not one, but three—under the magical tree. It is implied that the birds helped provide the garments. Then the prince searches for the woman who left her missing shoe. To try to be the girl the prince is looking for, the stepsisters CUT OFF PARTS OF THEIR FEET to fit the shoe. Ewww! While Cinderella does get her happy ending, she does not exactly show the piousness and warmth that she told her mother she’d keep—instead of forgiving the stepmother and sisters, she has their eyes pecked out by birds.

12 Sleeping Beauty

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There is a trigger warning on this one, guys. Something seriously disturbing happens. When Aurora does not answer the door, the prince climbs up a ladder to her room, where she has already touched the cursed needle and is unconscious. So what does this gallant “prince” decide to do? He sleeps with her. He sleeps with her unconscious body. This is so wrong on so many levels. She does end up awakening, however, when she gives birth to twins (somehow in her sleep) and one of the babies sucks out the cursed needle. So at this point Aurora obviously knows something went down when she was unconscious because she gave birth to some babies. But she FALLS IN LOVE WITH THE PRINCE. What kind of message does that send?! Oh, and awkward, the prince has a wife already. Naturally, the wife tries to kill the babies but is unsuccessful. And they live happily ever after, I guess?

11 Pocahontas

Movie Pilot

If you have ever taken one history class in your life, you can probably guess that the white men and the Native Americans did not make up in the end. This is an interesting one because Pocahontas was a real person and historical figure. First of all, turns out Pocahontas is not her actual name. It’s Matoaka. “Pocahontas” meant “spoiled child” or “naughty one” in her language. So we have been insulting her this whole time?! John Smith is still captured and in a letter home, John Smith writes about how Pocahontas stepped in to save him. However, it turns out John Smith was kind of a bragger and tried to make things seems more grandiose than they really are. Not to mention Pocahontas is merely ten years old at this point. So we are assuming (hopefully!) that there was no romance between these two. After these events unfold, Pocahontas is kidnapped in Jamestown where she was only released when some creep wanted to marry her. It was the first recorded marriage between a European and a Native American.

10 Hansel And Gretel


The sanitized version that we hear today was kind of grim in itself, but the original version was much, much worse. In real life, people deserted their kids during a famine from 1315-1317, so that is what happened to poor Hansel and Gretel. In some versions, the witch in the gingerbread house (which was probably not mentioned as an actual gingerbread house back then, let’s be real...) is actually really kind. However, she is accused of being a witch, and you know what happens next. Bye-bye, kind lady. She is set on fire and dies as a result. In other versions, the kids come across the DEVIL HIMSELF. The devil creates a sawhorse that he can sit one of the children on to bleed. But somehow, they slit the Devil’s throat (or his wife’s, in some versions) and escape. At least no one tried to eat them in this one, right?!

9 Pinocchio


The animated movie gets kind of dark at one point. Remember the whole turning-boys-into-donkey’s thing? Eerie! But in the original story, Pinocchio is just a straight-up horrible person (or in this case, puppet.) In the first act alone, he kills Jiminy Cricket. Noooo! It is one way to explain his actions from the rest of the tale. He literally has no conscience. Geppetto is poor but wants to be a father so bad, so he sells the only coat that he has to get Pinocchio into school and buy him a schoolbook. Pinocchio promptly sells them for theatre tickets. WTF! This child! Eventually, after an unfortunate series of events, Pinocchio gets his feet burned off. (We are not really rooting for him at this point, anyway.) Geppetto makes him new ones, the poor soul, and Pinocchio runs off to imply to the people of the village that Geppetto abuses him and Geppetto goes to jail. Unbelievable. He still gets tricked by the fox, but this time Pinocchio is hanged and dies. Kind of serves him right, to be honest.

8 Peter Pan

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You can probably already find some problems with the Disney version if you look close, but the original story had so much more to it. Peter Pan is still a kid who steals other kids who never want to grow up. Tinkerbell, jealous of Wendy, convinces one of the Lost Boys (named “Tootles” of all things) that Wendy is actually a bird Peter wants killed. He obediently shoots a bow and arrow at Wendy. Miraculously, she lives, but when Tootles finds out the truth and that he just shot at an innocent person, he asks Peter to kill him. And this is supposed to be a child! Just goes to show that even when you live in Neverland, you can still die. This is proven when Captain Hook butchers Peter with his hook, leaving him to bleed out. And then Captain Hook gets eaten by a crocodile. It seems like there is no happy ending for anyone in this one.

7 Rapunzel


Kidnapping a baby and raising it as your own is pretty messed up already, but there were definitely even more messed up elements in the original story. Rapunzel’s biological mother had some pretty strong pregnancy cravings, and she wanted a specific herb that only the witch had. Rapunzel’s biological father stole the herb from her, leading to the whole witch-kidnapping-the-baby thing. Rapunzel’s hair, which is described as 30 feet, was the perfect climbing rope for a male suitor who made frequent visits at night. And of course boom, she gets pregnant, which she only realizes when her clothes stop fitting her. When the witch figures it out, she abandons Rapunzel in the desert where she gives birth to twins alone, since she has never been taught about pregnancy or any of that. The prince, who realizes the princess is no longer in the tower tries to kill himself jumping off of it. Oh but don’t worry, he survives. He’s just blind now because of some thorn bushes he landed on. No big deal. Rapunzel does not run into the prince until several years later, where she cries on him and that somehow cures his blindness and now they can be a big happy family. Yay?

6 Little Red Riding Hood


This story is a little scary too, but at least it teaches children not to mess with strangers and trust their gut! Speaking of guts... So we know the wolf, who pretends to be Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, somehow got Grandma’s clothes on and the real grandma has disappeared. Well in the actual version, they describe what happened to the grandmother in detail: the wolf chopped her up, and organized his mess by putting the flesh in the pantry and the blood in a wine bottle. How innovative! Grosser still, the Wolf disguised as the grandmother asks Little Red if she would like something to eat, and she does. SHE EATS HER GRANDMOTHER. Some versions, usually the most popular version, has the lumberjack coming in and saving Little Red, but some versions just have her eaten by the wolf. Creepy! We don’t know about you, but we’d like to teach our children not to talk to strangers in a different way!

5 Rumpelstiltskin


Rumpelstiltskin has always been a pretty sketchy character, but you gotta realize by now in the original he was MUCH sketchier. We all know the updated version: Rumpelstiltskin tries to take a baby from a young girl unless he can guess her name. This was actually a pretty good move on his part, because who the heck would be named Rumpelstiltskin?! What was not a good move was him singing, dancing, and chanting his own name by the firelight when he thought he was alone. I mean, who does that? So the girl finds out his name and gets to keep her baby and that is all well and good, but what does Rumpelstiltskin do? He gets so furious that he stomps his right foot into the ground. Like, INTO the ground. He proceeds to take his left leg and rip himself in half. Um, okay first of all this is not physically possible. Second of all, try some anger management dude?

4 Goldilocks And The Three Bears

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The original version does not stray too far from the story we all know, but there are some significant differences. First of all, the bears have left the house in the first place to let their porridge cool. Makes sense. But Goldilocks? She is not a bratty little girl and she doesn't even have golden locks! She's actually an old lady with silver hair. She is described as cocky, foul-mouthed, ugly and gross, and deserving of jail. She eats Baby Bear’s porridge, sits in his chair allowing to break, and promptly falls asleep in Baby Bear’s bed, and there is the classic line "Somebody has been lying in my bed, and here she is!" Goldilocks tries to run away and escape, but gets injured on the way (presumably because she is old) and breaks her neck. The original tale does not say she dies, however, just that she goes to the hospital.

3 Snow White


In this tale, the queen wants Snow White dead for being “the fairest of them all.” We all know that part. But what we might not have known is that in the original, she orders a huntsman to kill her and bring her back Snow White’s liver and lungs, not only as evidence, but to EAT. Whatever sounds appetizing to you, lady! Snow White is unable to be lured into the woods by the Huntsman and takes a bite out of the apple instead, just like the story we know. The prince kisses her, she awakens from death, true love conquers all, blah blah blah. The juicy stuff happens at Snow White and the Prince’s wedding, where the Evil Queen receives her punishment: she is forced to walk in burning-hot shoes from the fireplace until she dies. So this is not even a quick death, this is torture. We guess at this point she deserves it for trying to kill a girl and all. But still, what a weird wedding celebration that must have been.

2 Mulan


Saving China does not always have a happy ending. Like in the story we all know, Mulan takes the place of her elderly father when men are drafted into a war. In the original version, China loses the war. The evil Khan does not kill Mulan under the condition that she lives with him…and, you know, everything that goes with that. But Mulan escapes! That's got to be a happy ending right? Well Mulan returns to an unpleasant sight: her father has passed and her mother has re-married. It is like she made all that sacrifice for nothing if her father was going to die anyway! In one version, Mulan says “I’m a woman, I survived the war, and I have done enough. Now I want to be with my father.” And thus, Mulan kills herself. Not exactly inspiring. If only the real Mulan had a dragon sidekick voiced by Eddie Murphy to help guide her on her journey!

1 Fox And The Hound


We mean, this movie is traumatizing enough. But in one version, the fox and the hound are never even really friends. The hound does his job, chasing the fox around until the point of exhaustion. The hound, who has been loyal to his owner from the beginning, is shot dead by the owner because he is of no use to him now and he cannot take him to the retirement home he plans to attend. So yeah, no fuzzy feels about friendship in the novel. Oh, and there is an in-depth description of the fox having pups that died. It is basically an anti-hunting book in a nutshell. Oh, and then Tod tricks a dog into getting hit by a train and there is a rabies epidemic. Oh, and while the dog is shot dead the fox is skinned alive and hung up for decoration. What the heck is the moral of this story?!

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