10 Disney movies with totally morbid origin stories you didn’t know
Disney films framed our childhood with endless wonder. Like many other things, Walt Disney drew inspirations from the work around them at the time. These include classical fairy tales like Snow White all the way to books by Victor Hugo.
But creating media for children isn't an easy task, especially when you're working with stories centuries old. Most of the fairy tales or stories Disney adapted were a lot more morbid than we originally thought. Here are the original twists you never knew existed in your Disney favorites.
1. Snow White’s wedding featured a live execution by dance
Walt Disney’s first animated feature put Snow White as the first Disney princess. In the fairy tale Little Snow White, the evil queen tries to kill Snow White in various ways. And she didn’t stop when the prince saved her. The queen tries to kill her again at her wedding, but she didn’t marry no fool. The prince saves Snow again and forces the queen to wear hot-iron slippers and dance to death in front of everyone.
2. Beast was punished for saying no
The Disney story tells us that the Beast was cursed because he turned away an old beggar woman who needed his help. However, in the original story of Beauty And The Beast, the old beggar woman was an evil fairy that had custody of the prince after his parents died. Upon the prince turning of age, she tries to seduce him. When the prince turns her down, she gets mad and turns him into a beast.
3. Peter Pan is actually horrible
Anyone who’s actually read the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie knows that Peter Pan wasn’t a saint. In the book, it’s insinuated in one chapter that Peter Pan would kick kids out of Neverland for growing up. He also fed a hand to a crocodile, which is the same one he frequently set off on Captain Hook to trigger his PTSD in the animated movie. So maybe Disney did justice to his character after all.
4. Rapunzel was kicked out for getting pregnant
Disney’s Tangled completely reinvented the fairy tale, and probably for the better. In the original tale Rapunzel, Dame Gothel cuts Rapunzel’s hair and casts her out to be a single mom to twins in the desert. Then, she convinces Rapunzel’s beau to jump out the window, which somehow blinds him. They eventually find each other, but talk about a strict mom.
5. Sleeping Beauty had two kids while asleep
In the Disney version, a kiss can break the curse. Except, in the original story, La Belle au bois dormant, it doesn’t. The prince finds Sleeping Beauty and gets to know her in her comatose state. She has twins while still asleep, and then somehow wakes up after the fact. Oh, and did we mention the prince just up and leaves? He comes back years later, delighted that he has kids and only then takes Sleeping Beauty to his castle, where his current wife tries to eat them all.
6. Cinderella’s stepsisters went really far to win the prince
The original Cinderella was actually pretty tame. However, when the Grimm Brothers told the story, it went a little differently. The sisters actually cut parts of their feet to fit inside the shoes. Here’s the best part, though: The prince didn’t notice right away. Seems like the prince wasn’t the brightest, but you can read it for yourself here.
7. Pinocchio kills Jiminy Cricket
In the Disney movie, Pinocchio is always guided by his conscious, Jiminy Cricket. However, in the book, he spends most of his time as a ghost. Pinocchio kills him with a hammer and then blames the act on Jiminy for making him angry. In turn, Jiminy comes back from the grave several times to try to lead him in the right direction.
8. The Little Mermaid lived a life of torture
The Little Mermaid movie didn’t change a lot from the original source. She was still a defiant teenager in love. However, the terms and conditions of her curse were toned down. Instead of just losing her voice, the legs were also painful to walk on, but she would still dance forever to please the prince. Also, if the prince didn’t marry her (which he didn’t), she would die and turn into seafoam.
9. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame indirectly killed Esmeralda
The original book was written by Victor Hugo, who also penned Les Misérables, so you can guess how happy the original is. In the book, Esmeralda is scheduled to die, and Quasimodo chases off the people trying to help her. Instead, he shows the guards exactly where she is. After she’s hung, Quasimodo clings to her and ends up dying of starvation. Don’t worry: Frolio is just as creepy in the book as he was the movie.
10. Pocahontas was kidnapped
Unfortunately, Pocahontas didn’t get to write her own history. Instead, it’s told by setters and people from her tribe. As you might be able to guess, these are two very different versions. And yes, she was a real person. According to the National Park Service, both versions say Pocahontas was kidnapped and held for ransom. During that time, she got married and had a child—but the details aren’t certain. She ended up dying just four years after her kidnapping, though the official cause of death is unknown.