Even though Disney fairytales might seem fine and dandy to share with kids nowadays, the truth is that the original of those fairytales is a lot more dark and sinister than their animated version. Here’s the truth behind all these fairy tale origins that are a little more heartbreaking or tragic than you had originally thought.
1. Lion King
This is far from the innocent and song-filled Timon and Pumba version that many of us hold dear to our hearts. In fact, the original Lion King was inspired by Hamlet, which has a pretty dark plot itself. In it, Prince Hamlet seeks revenge on Claudius, his uncle, after he kills Hamlet’s father to size the throne. Sound familiar, Simba?
2. Snow White
This was Walt Disney’s very first animated film back in 1937, and it’s an undeniable classic. While the film does a good job of retelling the actual Brothers Grimm story, they missed one key (and very disturbing) detail. At the end, rather than the prince awakening her and taking her home, the evil queen attends their wedding, and the prince recognizes her. As punishment, he makes her dance until she drops in a pair of red-hot iron slippers that are burning her feet.
While Cinderella still gets her happy ending in the Brother’s Grimm version of the story, her evil stepsisters get the karma that they deserve. One sister attempts to convince the prince she’s his true love, cutting off a toe in order to fit in the glass slipper. The other sister does the same but cuts off part of her heels. When Cinderella and her man have their beautiful wedding, it ends with Cinderella’s birdie buddies plucking out the stepsisters’ eyes. Yikes!
The original version dates back to The Ballad of Mulan, and in it, Mulan takes her father’s place in the army and meets the king’s daughter, who is also a warrior. The two become best friends, and when the king is defeated, they offer their own deaths. Even though they are spared, Mulan comes home to find her father has passed away and her mother remarried. She is ordered to become a concubine when her true gender is revealed, and instead of dealing with this fate, she commits suicide.
5. Little Mermaid
The remake of the Hans Christian Anderson tale involves Ariel winning the prince’s heart while getting her voice back and celebrating with a stunning wedding on a boat. But in the actual tale, Ariel’s transformation into a human causes an unimaginable agony and she has to witness the prince marrying someone else. Then, the Sea Witch tells her that if the prince is killed, she will turn back to a mermaid and survive. However, Ariel sacrifices herself and returns to the water, becoming sea foam. Very circle of life, in a morbid way.
Thus, beloved Disney film was the company’s second animated film, after Snow White. In the original, Pinocchio accidentally kills a talking cricket and then falls asleep on a stove, burning his feet off. He ends up being hung by a cat and fox duo with terrible intentions, and Gepetto is stuck living in a ship inside The Terrible Dogfish. This lasts for two years before Pinocchio rescues him. We prefer the PG version with blue fairies and boys turning into donkeys, TBH.
7. Sleeping Beauty
While Disney did a pretty good job of remaking the tale of Aurora and her prince, there’s one dark turn that most people don’t know about. In the original story by Giambattista Basile, a king walks past Sleeping Beauty’s home, and his falcon flies into her home. When he goes in to get his bird, he sees this unconscious woman and impregnates her with twins…while still unconscious. Clearly, the #metoo era was far, far away, since they called the act “gathering the first fruits of love.” That’s a nope from us.
Unlike the heroine who broke free in Tangled, a witch holding Rapunzel captive cuts all her hair off and send her into the wilderness after discovering that she has a nightly male visitor — the prince. When he comes back or her, the witch tricks him into climbing up using the cut off hair, and pushes him off the top when he finally gets to the top. As a result, he’s blinded. Still, he finds her in the forest and is reunited with her — her tears of joy restore his sight and they get their happy ending.