10 Poorly-Adapted Fairy Tales That Should Have Been Darker

Cinderella and the Prince dancing in Disney's Cinderella and Flynn and Rapunzel sitting together in Tangled. 

Disney has a history of adapting old fairy tales, starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Hollywood, in general, has often taken old stories and used them to create something fresh to appeal to a modern audience. However, many of these adaptations remove the dark aspects of the original.

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Old fairy tales were not as happy as the adaptations, which are often used to entertain children. On the contrary, these stories were often cautionary tales and therefore depicted dark, disturbing scenes. Many of these stories have been sanitized for a younger audience, creating a poor adaption of some of the creepiest stories in history.

10 Hansel & Gretel Was Far More Grizzly

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The fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel well-known, adapted into several children’s books and movies. There’s a musical Hansel and Gretel from the ’80s and a few more modern horror movies based on the story, including Gretel & Hansel in 2020.

While all of these adaptations have an ominous and spooky nature (some more than others), none of them do justice to the eerie original. Not only do the children push the evil witch into the fire after she tried to cook Gretel, but, prior to that, it was their own mother that had pushed their father to leave them in the woods to fend for themselves.

9 Red Riding Hood Has Several Darker Versions Than The Sanitized Children’s Tale

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A scene from RED RIDING HOOD

Red Riding Hood is a well-known story as well, depicted in many books and movies, either as the star or added in as an additional character. There was also a horror movie Red Riding Hood in 2011, starring Amanda Seyfried, in which the wolf is actually a werewolf.

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However, staying closer to the origin of the fairy tale would leave audiences truly uncomfortable. In one of the darker versions of Red’s story, the young girl allows the wolf to eat her grandmother so that she can inherit the old woman’s property. While the horror version ages Red into a young woman, portraying a conniving, villainous girl would make a particularly creepy movie.

8 Rumpelstiltskin Had A Shocking Demise

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rumpelstiltskin in Shrek - DreamWorks film

Rumpelstiltskin has been rewritten in different children’s novels, as well as reimagined as live-action films. He was also a side character in Shrek. Some of these renditions stay relatively close to the source material, following a young woman who Rumpelstiltskin makes a queen in exchange for her firstborn child.

The happier ending depicted in some versions is the queen guessing his name and winning the right to keep her child. However, the original depicts the little man in a rage, plunging one leg into the earth and then pulling on the other so hard he tore himself in half. This ending wouldn’t make it into any children’s movies, but it would make for a shocking conclusion to a dark fairy tale retelling.

7 Rapunzel Had Much Harsher Trials Than In Tangled

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rapunzel lets down her hair in Tangled.

Tangled is a beloved new classic in the Disney Princess franchise, even portraying one of the most likable Disney princes. However, besides Rapunzel’s ridiculously long hair, the film strives far for the source material. In the original German tale, the prince jumps from the tower and is blinded by thorns after the witch casts Rapunzel out of the tower for being pregnant with the prince’s twins.

In a darker version, Rapunzel is even abandoned by the prince who never had any intentions of marrying her. While the original has a happy reunion, it would make for a darker depiction of the trials and struggles of the couple that would appeal to an adult audience.

6 The Little Mermaid Is Tragic In Andersen’s Version

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Prince Eric and Ariel in front of the sunset in Disney's Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is one of the most fantastical Disney renditions, leaving the mermaid, now human, to live her happily ever after with Prince Eric. Some fans have had a problem with this ending, disappointed that Ariel gave up everything she knew to be with a man. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid does not end so happily. In fact, the story can’t even be called a love story.

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Despite her efforts, the mermaid doesn’t convince the prince to fall in love with her, and instead of killing him to lift her curse, chooses to accept her fate. For her good deed, she is turned into a celestial being and enters “paradise.” This isn’t the happy ending viewers are used to, but would make an empowering female heroine story.

5 Sleeping Beauty Eventually Had A Happy Ending

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Aurora in Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

The Disney version of Sleeping Beauty doesn’t strive far from the depiction of her tale in the Brothers Grimm. It is considered one of the best Disney Princess movies, with a terrifying curse, a damsel in distress, and a heroic prince. However, in the French fairy tale, “Perceforest,” the prince sexually assaults Sleeping Beauty while she’s in her coma.

Sleeping Beauty gives birth to a child, only to be awoken when it bites her finger and releases the cursed spindle chip. It wasn’t necessarily a mistake to remove these dark, depraved additions to the story, but making the prince a hero seems like an injustice to the villainy of the original storyline, making the female witch the sole villain.

4 Belle Has Two Wicked Sisters In Beauty & The Beast

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Gaston holding up a book while Belle crosses her arms in Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is the most beloved Disney fairy tale of all time, with Belle teaching an important lesson about staying true to yourself. While the live-action was a homage to the animated classic, many viewers are unaware of the darker story that the popular movies are based on.

A French version of the story written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont does not incorporate any magical household things or a loving father. Gaston is also an embellishment of Disney, the villains instead being Belle’s two sisters that cause the death of the Beast. The story still ends happily, giving audiences what they expect based on the original, but this darker rendition would point out that sometimes the enemy is closer to home.

3 Frozen Is Nothing Like The Snow Queen

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Elsa in Frozen letting it go.

Frozen and its sequel are the two highest-grossing Disney animated movies. They were instantly loved by children and adults alike, who appreciated the twists to the traditional princess tropes and loved the “Ice Queen” Elsa. Disney’s Frozen is respectable compared to other problematic princess movies, but it has almost no similarities to the original story.

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In “The Snow Queen,” written by Hans Andersen, a boy with ice in his heart and eye is abducted by the Snow Queen. His sister goes to the queen’s palace to save her brother. A darker remake doesn’t have to break down the female empowerment of the animated version, but it would stand in as a different kind of heroic storyline.

2 Snow White Originally Incorporated Slavery & Assault

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The prince carrying Disney's Snow White while the seven dwarfs follow

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first Brothers Grimm story adapted into a movie. While it does feature one of the scariest scenes in Disney films, this version is much more sanitized than others. Though it’s similar to the Grimm tale, the ending of the original includes her evil stepmother being forced to dance at her wedding until she drops dead.

Other versions have even darker inclusions, with Snow White being enslaved by the seven dwarfs and her being sexually assaulted by the prince before she’s revived. While some of these aspects would be problematic in a darker adaption, a darker telling could incorporate the fear and revenge of the originals.

1 Cinderella Was More Focused On Good Vs Evil

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Anastasia Tremaine In Cinderella III A Twist In Time

Cinderella is one of the most popular princess stories of all time, receiving adaptations in multiple films. Disney’s version is the most well-known, ending with a cheerful dance and the promise of a happy marriage to follow. The Brothers Grimm tale ends similarly. However, the original has a little more bloodshed.

Cinderella’s two evil step-sisters were so desperate to be chosen by the prince that they cut off parts of their feet to fit into the slipper. In a darker version, heavenly doves aid the prince and peck out the sisters’ eyes. An adaption that pays homage to the original would incorporate more punishment than the sisters received in the animated finale.

Next: 10 Weirdest Versions Of Fairy Tale Movies


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