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10 Most Miserable Fairy Tale Endings

Updated on November 19, 2017
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Saboor is an Accountancy and Finance student. He likes to write whenever inspiration strikes.

Despite what Disney would have us believe, not everyone in fairy tales lives happily ever after. Not every beautiful maiden gets a prince and the villains are rarely so discreetly done away with. There is a vast array of tales with sad and sinister conclusions. This list looks at 10 of the goriest most miserable endings fairy tales have ever had to endure.

The Monkey and the Girl

An Indian folktale, recorded in Folklore of the Santal Parganas recounts a tale with some similarities to Beauty and the Beast. A Monkey befriends a group of children by making flower garlands. One of the girls in the group falls in love with the monkey and intends to marry him. Her parents do not approve of the match and her father, along with some village men, shoots the monkey. The saddest part of the tale however, is that when the monkey is burnt on a funeral pyre rather than being buried. The girl throws herself on top of it, to be burnt alongside the monkey as per the Hindu custom of sati in which a widow is burnt with her husband as a demonstration of devotion.

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood is known to be unpleasant, with a wolf devouring a granny and a little girl at its core. This is often swiftly undone, however, when the huntsman arrives and slices open the wolf’s belly to free the still living pair. The story concludes with the group filling the wolf’s stomach with rocks and sending him to a watery grave. Gory enough to be sure, but Charles Perrault’s version of the tale is far more miserable. With no huntsman to be found, Granny and Little Red Riding Hood are simply dead. Don’t stray from the path boys and girls.

The Snow Maiden

The Snow Maiden is Russian folktale with the familiar motif of a childless couple pining for offspring. In this instance, the couple build a child from snow which comes to life and is a beautiful young maiden. The three of them are very happy together but when winter turns to spring, things take a turn for the worse. One day the other village children take the Snow Maiden to the woods where they have built a fire to jump over. Sadly, the Snow Maiden does not find this activity as fun as the others. When she jumps over the flames the others hear a shriek and never see her again.

Cinderella

There are many versions of Cinderella with gruesome parts. In the brothers Grimm 1812 edition of tale the ugly step sisters cut off their toes and heels to try and fit in Cinderella’s slipper. In the 1819 edition the sisters are punished by having their eyes pecked out by pigeons.

Bluebeard

Bluebeard is as much a horror story as it is a fairy tale. In the story, Bluebeard’s latest wife is left with a key to the many rooms of her new home while Bluebeard is away. He only asks one thing, not to enter the little closet. She, of course, disobeys him and discovers the murdered bodies of all his previous wives. At the end her brothers kill Bluebeard and she inherits a great enough fortune to ensure her and her siblings do indeed live happily ever after.

The Silkie Wife

The Silkie (sometimes selkie) Wife is the tale of the mythical seal women who can shed their seal skin and become human. If their skin is stolen, however, they become trapped in human form until their skin is restored. That’s exactly what happens in The Silkie Wife and the silkie ends up married to the fisherman who stole her skin. They spend many years together and have two children but one day her skin is restored to her (she either discovers it or her past lover does) and she returns to the sea leaving the fisherman and her two children behind.

The Juniper Tree

The Juniper Tree is similar to Cinderella in that the protagonist’s mother has died and is replaced by a cruel step mother. His father isn’t absent, just willfully ignorant and his stepsister is quite sweet. His step-mother, however, is far worse than Cinderella’s. She decapitates the boy, convinces her own daughter she’s responsible and then cooks the boy and feeds him to his father. At the end the step-mother is crushed to death by a millstone.

The Pied Piper

The Pied Piper comes to the town of Hameln and is hired to deal with a rat problem. He does so promptly by luring the rats away with his pipe. The villagers then refuse to pay him so he lures all their children away, just as he did the rats, and they’re never seen again.

Cattarinetta

This Italian tale is short and gruesome. A little girl is bringing her aunt, who is also a witch, a slice of cake but she eats it on the way. To avoid being found out she replaces the cake slice with a cow pie and quickly leaves after delivering it to her aunt. Her aunt, being a witch, does not take this lightly. She comes to Caterinetta’s house that night, comes up the stairs to the little girl’s bedside and swallows her whole!

Diamonds and Toads

Diamonds and Toads tells the story of two sisters, one polite and one rude. When the polite girl goes to the well to fetch water there is an old woman there who asks for a drink. The girl is kind and the woman, who is really a fairy, gives her a gift, every time she speaks precious jewels fall from her mouth. Of course, the rude sister goes to the well next and is cursed so that every time she speaks snakes and toads fall from her mouth. The tale ends well enough for the polite girl, who marries a prince. Her sister, however is driven from her home and dies alone in the woods.

© 2017 Saboor Zaidi

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