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How Disney Changed Fairy Tales

How Disney Changed Fairy Tales

Sex! Violence! Murder! Crime! Vengeance! These were the original selling points of fairy tales before Disney took over. Back in the day, when The Brothers Grimm were writing, fairy tales used to teach children real life lessons through fantasy AND fear. It was believed that if the subject matter was important enough to introduce to children, it should be treated with proper reverence. Since real life isn’t always pretty, neither are the Brothers’ stories. For supporting evidence, see the following five times when Disney made twisted dark tales lighter than a lamb at a Macklemore concert.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Remember when you were six and you thought it was kind of creepy when handsome princes kissed sleeping strangers? Well it turns out that making out with a comatose woman isn't the most twisted part of the original tale. In the Brother’s Grimm version, after the evil queen vanquishes her stepdaughter, she orders a hunter to harvest the girl’s organs.

A simple time-out would have sufficed!

As punishment for her malevolence, the queen spends the rest of her life wearing burning-hot iron shoes. She dances until she dies.



The Disney version includes nearly everything the Brother’s Grimm did except for some dead spirits, cut-off toes, and animal eye-gougings. The ghost is of Cinderella’s mother. In the first text, there was no fairy godmother. Instead, Cinderella plants a tree by her mother’s grave and sits there to cry every day. Very emo.

Also in the original version, Cinderella’s stepsisters were also a bit Goth. To fit into a glass slipper, each one attempted cutting her own foot off. Also, as part of the happy ending, Cinderella’s helpful birds pecked the wounded stepsisters’ eyes!

The Little Mermaid

Hans Christian Anderson originally wrote The Little Mermaid with plenty of stipulations. One was that; “If the little mermaid can’t find love, she will DIE!” Also, in exchange for her legs, every step the mermaid takes would feel as if it were amongst broken glass. And, finally, in order to revert into her original form, the little mermaid must MURDER her prince.

Alright. We’ll let Disney slide on omitting this one. Hans Christian Anderson was a drama queen!


The Lion King

Brother kills brother for his throne. Nephew is vanquished only to return and reclaim the crown. Many people have claimed that The Lion King is a loose adaptation of Hamlet. It is, whether intentional or not. But that could also explain why The Lion King will always be one of Disney’s most timeless classics. The story was already classic… and now there’s talking lions!

Really, all of Shakespeare’s works could benefit from some Disney-fication. Do you know how much more interesting King Lear would be if one of the daughters was a farting warthog?

Which type of fairy tale do you prefer? Gruesome, or Disney?

Tags: movies, disney, the lion king, cinderella, books-and-comics, the brothers grimm

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Robert Punchur

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