Oh the fairy tales we were fed as kids. The ‘happily ever afters’, the ‘prince charming’… While obviously adulting pretty much ensured we questioned the existence of fairy tales, you will be sadder to know that the Disney fairy tales you grew up on, were actually not what you think they were. 

We have grown up watching Disney movies and some of them more than once because they never ceased to enchant us. But, over the years, what will scar you is the real story behind these ‘fairy tales’ and their gory endings. It is now common knowledge that Disney, more often than not, adapted the original versions of our fairy tales, to make them more palatable to a younger audience. 

Read on to know the original endings to some of these classics.

1. Snow White

What we saw: The Queen dies falling down a cliff. Snow White and her Prince Charming were married after he saved her life and lived happily ever after.

The original ending: 

What we have known of ‘Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs’ is nothing like the sadistic end of the original version by The Brothers Grimm. The Queen tries to kill Snow White not just once but thrice. After the Prince saves Snow White from choking on the apple, they decide to get married. The two then invite the Queen for a sadistic revenge that will ultimately take her life.

2. The Little Mermaid

What we saw: Ariel turns into a human, complete with human legs, permanently by her father, and gets married to Prince Eric to live happily ever after.

The original ending:

We have all seen Little Mermaid as a kid, but not in our wildest thoughts we would have imagined her killing herself. In Hans Christian Andersen’s version, the mermaid, makes a deal to get legs at the cost of her voice to see the prince. True! But what we weren’t told was that the mermaid would die if she can’t get the prince to marry her. Plus, the price of having human legs was that every step she took caused excruciating amounts of pain. Towards the end, Ariel is told that she can be a mermaid again if she kills the prince. She opts to instead commit suicide.

3. Pocahontas

What we saw: John Smith asks Pocahontas to come with him, but she chooses to stay with her tribe. He leaves without her. 

The original ending:

In 1613, Pocahontas was captured by the English during Anglo-Indian hostilities, and held for ransom. Later, tobacco planter John Rolfe took ‘special interest’ in her and married her in 1614 in the first recorded marriage between a European and a Native American. Two years later, Pocahontas is pronounced as symbol of hope for peace and good relations between the English and the Native Americans. John Smith, her lover in the Disney movie we have seen, was far from real in the original story. Sadly, she died at the age of 21 in a not-so-happy ending.

4. Tangled

What we saw: Rapunzel’s magical tears save the Prince’s life and they end up getting married.

Original ending:

The original version of Rapunzel, by The Brothers Grimm, is definitely more horrifying than what we have previously seen. Rapunzel, who is trapped by Dame Gothel, an evil witch, in a tower, lets her hair down for a Prince who is enchanted by her voice and asks her to marry him. But, before they could escape, Rapunzel gets knocked up by the prince, and the witch figures it out who then chops off Rapunzel’s hair and throws her out into the wilderness. When the prince shows up to see her, the witch dangles Rapunzel’s cut-off hair to lure him, and tells him that Rapunzel is dead.

5. Pinocchio

What we saw: Geppetto is saved from the whale by Pinocchio and is rewarded with human life by the Blue Fairy while Jiminy, the Cricket, gets a job as a certified conscience.

The original ending:

In the original adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio is often described as a wretched and thoroughly disobedient boy who laughs in the face and steals the wig of his creator and father Gepetto. In these stories, Jiminy Cricket isn’t Pinocchio’s friend but the opposite. When the Cricket tries to stop Pinocchio from being a wild child, Pinocchio bashes his head with a hammer and kills him. Nearly every chapter of the book portrays the author’s contempt towards badly behaved kids- Pinocchio in this case. Carlo wanted to end the story with Pinocchio hanging to death but the publishers didn’t support it and Carlo was asked to keep Pinocchio alive.

6. Letting in the Jungle/The Jungle Book

What we saw: In ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling, humans and wildlife become friends and Mowgli returns to civilization.

The original ending:

Unlike what we have seen in The Jungle Book, ‘Letting in the Jungle’ by Rudyard Kipling showcases a storyline filled with death and destruction. When Mowgli returns to civilization, the villagers chase him out after learning of his friendship with wolves and accusing him of sorcery. He goes back to the jungle and tries to forget humanity. But, later teams up with Hathi, the elephant and the other jungle animals, and tears down the entire village.

7. Mulan

What we saw: Mulan ends up living happily ever after with the General.

The original ending:

The original version, which was written in 5 AD and has been adapted over several years, Mulan returns home from war to find that the world has transformed completely. She discovers that her father has long died and her mother has remarried. Even worse, the Khan—the ruler of Northern Wei at that time—has summoned her to the palace to become his concubine. Instead of suffering her fate, she decides to commit suicide.

8. Cinderella

What we saw: Cinderella get married to her Prince Charming and they live happily ever after.

The original ending:

There are two previous Cinderella stories which are both grotesque to say the least. In one of the versions, written in the 17th century, Cinderella kill her evil step-mother by slamming a lid of a chest on her throat which breaks her neck. In Brothers Grimm version, the step-sisters chop off their feet to fit the glass shoe. When this trickery is uncovered, the little birds that follow Cinderella around, peck the evil stepsisters’ eyes out. Nothing like what we had imagined.

9. Peter Pan

What we saw: Peter Pan teaches kids how to fly and goes on great adventures.

The original ending:

According to J.M. Berrie’s original story, Peter Pan isn’t really the lovable boy who never grows up and teaches other kids to fly. Instead, he takes pride in killing pirates and brags about chopping off Captain Hook’s hand. Not just that, if anyone breaks that rule of ‘never growing up’ in Neverland, Pan goes about, mostly, murdering them.

10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

What we saw: Quasimodo accepts the fact that Esmeralda doesn’t really love him the way he would have wanted. And, everyone starts loving him after he defeats Frollo.

The original ending:

The original story by Victor Hugo portrays many men falling for Esmeralda. Frollo—the Archdeacon of Notre Dame—is obsessed with Esmeralda, orders Quasimodo and other bandits to capture Esmeralda, who are in turned captured by Phoebus—the Captain of the King’s Archers—and his guards, hence saving Esmeralda. While being beaten up and erected on a pillory, Quasimodo asks for water and Esmeralda obliges which makes him fall in love with her. Long story short, Frollo turns Esmeralda to her death and while he watches her dying, Quasimodo pushes him from the heights of Notre Dame to his death and later, finds Esmeralda’s dead body and stays there till he dies.

11. Sleeping Beauty

What we saw: The prince kisses the sleeping maiden after he defeats a dragon, then dances with her awakened self. They get married and live happily ever after.

The original ending: 

In the original story by Giambattista Basile, a king comes along Sleeping Beauty’s castle, climbs to her room through a window and finds her unconscious. He calls out to her and when she doesn’t respond, she carries her to her bed and rapes her. When she finally wakes up, she has already given birth to twins. This marks the re-entry of the King and despite that fact that he had raped her, they end up falling in love, while the King is married to someone else. When the wife finds out, she rages in fury and not only tries to have the twins killed, cooked and served to the King but also, tries to burn the princess. Anyway, she fails and the King and the princess get married and live happily ever after.

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Design Credits: Gauri Saxena