Top 10 Gruesome Fairy Tale Origins

1.Red Riding Hood

the little red riding hoo

Red Riding Hood is widely-known, especially for its happy yet anticlimactic ending: the big bad ugly wolf gets killed by the woodsman who was happening to surround the area. It turns out, the fate of our beloved Red Riding Hood wasn’t always supposed to be as fortunate. Charles Perrault’s original version of the story depicted a pretty gruesome scenario: not only does the wolf eat the grandma, but he also manages to ingest the Red Riding Hood. A pretty cold-blooded ending that served us an important moral: do not trust strangers.

2.The Pied Piper

the pied piper

Once upon a time, a little happy village was overrun by an overwhelming rat swarm. Villagers didn’t know what to do in order to get rid of the pestilence, but all of a sudden, a man arrived and told everyone he could get rid of the rats in exchange for a hefty payment. So he did by playing his flute and taking the rats far away, but villagers shrugged when the man asked for his well-deserved payment.This is where it gets interesting: in most modern versions, the man takes his revenge by alluring all the village’s children with his flute and taking them into a cave nearby the village. Once villagers agree to finally pay, the man releases everyone safe and sound.In the original version, the poor children are not taken to any cave, but to a nearby river where they are drowned one by one.

3.The Little Mermaid

the little mermaid
The Disney film adaptation of the original story offers a truly happy ending: Ariel is given a human form so she can marry Eric. If you were to read the original story written by Hans Christian Andersen, you’d see that things aren’t as fortunate for our mermaid protagonist: she sees Eric getting married to someone else, so she’s being given the option to kill him with a knife. Instead of doing that, she decides to jump in the depths of the ocean where she turns into froth. Hans Christian Andersen might not have been very fond of the mermaid after all…

4.Snow White

The Queen asks for Snow White to be killed and her heart brought to her as proof of death; she tasks the huntsman for this quest. The original story was a bit more explicit: the Queen actually asked for Snow White’s liver and lungs, that she’d eventually serve for dinner. In the same original story, Snow White is not woken up by a magic kiss, but by the jostle of the prince’s horse. In the very end of the tale, the Queen is forced to dance to death in a pair iron shoes.

5.Sleeping Beauty

In most modern versions, the Sleeping Beauty is put to sleep due to a curse. She sleeps for around 100 years until a charming prince kisses and wakes her up. Though, the original version isn’t that blooming: the Sleeping Beauty actually falls asleep due to a prophecy, and furthermore, is not even woken up by a magic kiss: the King sees her asleep, rapes her, then 9 months later, gives birth to two children. One of them sucks her finger which instantly wakes her up. What a nightmare!


In this story, we’re introduced to the main protagonist, Rumpelstiltskin, who is able to turn normal straws into gold for a young girl who would face death if she wasn’t able to perform the feat herself. In return, Rumpelstiltskin asks for his own child, to which the young girl agrees. In the end though, the girl refuses to hand him the child, and Rumpelstiltskin runs away never to be seen again. In the later modified version, Rumpelstiltskin actually puts his right foot into the ground, then grabs his left one which tears him apart.

7.Goldilocks and the Three Bears

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The story commences with the description of Goldilocks, a pretty little girl who finds the house of three bears, sneaks inside, eats all their food, uses their chairs, their beds etc. When the rightful owners return, they find her inside, comfortably sleeping in a bed. When she wakes up, she escapes out the main window in terror. Thing is, the original tale has not one, but two twists: the first twist is that when the bears find her inside, she doesn’t get to escape, but is killed on-spot. The second one is that the bears call the authorities and poor little Goldilocks is sent to the “House of Correction”.

8.Hansel and Gretel


In this fairy tale, we hear of the two children getting lost in a forest only to find a gingerbread house upon a few hours worth of oblivious search. It is owned by a witch who manages to lure them inside and trap them for a while so she can eat them. Eventually, they find their way out and the witch is killed. In the original version of the story, the witch is actually the devil, and it is not he who traps the kids; it’s him who’s getting trapped. Eventually, he also finds his way out and kills both kids – it’s a very graphic scene.

9.The Girl Without Hands

The story’s about a poor man who’s offered a lot of wealth by the Devil in exchange for a seemingly simple service: he needs to give him whatever’s standing by the mill. Only that, he happens to mistake his daughter for an apple tree and hand it to the devil, but he can’t take her, due to her purity. He threatens to take the father instead unless she agrees to have her arms chopped off by him, which he does. There a few more variations, including the girl chopping her arms off for her brother not to consider raping her.


In the original story, Cinderella falls in love with the prince and her step sisters get to marry two wealthy lords – everyone lives happily after In Grimm’s version though, things are a bit nastier: Cinderella’s step sisters cut off big parts of their feet so as to match the glass slipper, but the prince is informed of this scam by two pigeons who peck out the stepsisters’ eyes. They get to live a miserable live as blind beggars while Cinderella spends the rest of her life luxuriously.


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