Home Books 9 Beloved Fairy Tales With Horrific Origin Stories

9 Beloved Fairy Tales With Horrific Origin Stories

9 Beloved Fairy Tales With Horrific Origin Stories

These might be a bit different than what you remember.

While Disney has sugar coated horrific stories like these for a long time, we are all aware that their origins are less than sweet. From Red Riding Hood to The Little Mermaid, you might be surprised to learn their true stories. Whether these things happened or not is another story. However, no story is started without some truth behind it right?


#1 Hansel and Gretel.

Hansel and Gretel
Via Wikipedia

Now this story is sure to bring chills down your spine. You see it has more truth behind it than any other story. It was largely inspired by the great famine of 1315-1317 where many parents were forced to abandon their little children if they wanted to avoid starving themselves to death.

Surprisingly, Disney didn’t stray too far from the origin. In the original story, A brother and a sister learned of their parents plan to abandon them so they ran away into the woods. There, they met an old witch who wanted to fatten them up so she could eat them.


#2 Little Red Riding Hood. 

Little Red Riding Hood
Via Hulton Archive

I am sure you think that the story of little red riding hood came from the Brothers Grimm. In reality they are the ones who ‘softened’ it a tiny bit. You see in their story, they added a huntsman who came and saved the day. In the earliest edition of little red riding hood 1697 edition by Charles Perrault, Little red riding hood actually ate her own grandmother.

You see the wolf tore apart the grandmother and served it to the little girl. In another rendition, the wolf forced the little girl to strip down and lay in bed with him. And he ate her soon after.

#3 The Little Mermaid. 

The Little Mermaid
Via Wikipedia

We are all aware of the classic Disney version where Ariel sacrifices her voice for her legs. In the original written by Hans Christian Andersen, Ariel actually gives up her tongue to get her legs. And to top it all off, every step she takes shoots excrutiating pain in her legs.


She also has only one day to marry the Prince. She she dances for him in the ball all the while her legs feel extreme pain. In the end however, the Prince chooses to marry another woman and she dissolves into sea foam.

Her sister had given her a dagger to kill the prince so she would stay alive but Ariel chose to die instead.

#4 Sleeping Beauty. 

Sleeping Beauty
Via Wikipedia

The Sleeping Beauty is actually based upon a tale in 1634, “Sun, Moon, and Talia” written by Italian poet Giambattista Basile. And it is much much darker than any of the rendition told by Disney. You see in the original, a sliver of flax is lodged under the young womans nail and she falls into a magical slumber.


Her father lays her on one of the many beds in his castle rather than burying her. A king comes to the castle and tries to wake her up. But when he realizes that she won’t, he rapes her and leaves the palace. Talia gets pregnant and gives birth to two children still unconscious.

One infant sucks out the flax thereby waking her up. The king who raped Talia had already married and when his wife learns of Talia existence. She plans to cook up her children and feed them to the king. The cook however swaps the children with lamb meat. When the king learns of her Wife’s scheme, he burns her alive and marries Talia. Stockholm Syndrome anyone?

#5 The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Via Wikimedia Commons

There might be more truth to this story than we realize. You see it all starts when Hamelin, a German village is infested with rats so they hire a stranger dressed in piper clothes who leads all the rats away from the village with his music. When the village people try to kill him. He leads all the children of the village to their doom.


Now you might ask where the truth in all this is? Well, you see it might be that around 700 years ago something like this truly happened. There is even a Hamlein ledger entry around 1384 which alludes to this story  “It is 100 years since our children left.” 

Then there is also the gate that was built at the town entrance in the 16th century and it was inscribed with the message “In the year 1556, 272 years after the magician led 130 children out of the town, this portal was erected.”

#6 The Frog Prince.

The Frog Prince
Via Bettmann

No kiss happens in the original version. In the origin story, the princess is disgusted by the amphibian and yet the prince never stops courting her. It even leds to him being upon her in her bed. The princess smashes the prince in the wall and he turns back into a human being.


In another version, the princess cuts off the frog head and that turns him back into the prince. Seems like the princess wasn’t into amphibians.

#7 Cinderella. 

Via Hulton Archive

I am sure you all have hear about this one. You see in the Disney version they were quite awful but in the original story, they are more so insane rather than awful sisters. They want to fit into the shoe so bad that they cut off a part of their feat. However, that doesn’t work and the Prince marries Cinderella.

To top it all off, Cinderella orders her loyal birds to peck out their sister eyes.


#8 Beauty and the Beast. 

Beauty and the Beast
Via Wikimedia Commons

This story is based upon the marriage between a french nobleman Petrus Gonsalvus and Catherine. You see Petrus had a rare condition known as congenital hypertrichosis. It means that his whole body was covered with excess hair. People in the 16th century thought he was half human and half animal.

He was always treated as an experiment so the Kind Henry II married Petrus to Catherine to see if their children would be like him. It did seem that they had a happy marriage but sadly them and their children were never treated like humans.

#9 Snow White.

Snow White
Via Hulton Archive

The classic story was also reportedly inspired by a noblewoman named Margarete von Waldeck. She had fallen in love with a prince of spain. However, her parents did not like the relationship. She also turned up dead soon after. After further investigation, it was likely that she had been poisoned.


The dwarves were probably inspired by the little deformed kids who worked in the mines of the von Waldeck family. The poor child laborers were refereed to ask dwarves.