5 Dark Origins of Disney Cartoons

Kenny D September 11, 2012 2
5 Dark Origins of Disney Cartoons

Fairy tales are big business right now. First it was wizards who loved school, then it was vampires who loved pasty emo chicks and werewolves who loved babies, and now we have moved on to milking fairy tales. From Grimm and Once Upon a Time to the many variations of Snow White and Malificent yet to come, we have only begun to beat the dead horse.

So I look to Disney, who have built their empire on princesses. Who doesn’t love the old Disney masterpieces and classics? Disney is great at what they do. Their adaptations of classic fairy tales have become the epitome of “Happily Ever After.” But few of us know what kinds of cautionary tales they are drawn from. For example, in the original tale of Snow White, she isn’t saved by “True Love’s Kiss,” rather, the apple is dislodged from her throat while she is unconsciously being pulled by the prince on a bumpy road. And the evil queen? She is forced to wear a burning pair of red shoes and she has to dance until she burns up and dies. Now that’s justice…

Read on at your own risk. Or at the risk of your inner child dying….

5 – The Little Mermaid

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Ah Ariel, the only redhead I’ve ever been attracted to. Nevermind that she’s part fish or animated for that matter. In the Disney movie, Ariel acts like any reasonable girl would and trades her beautiful voice for a small chance at love with Prince Eric. In the end, Prince Eric manages to impale the giant drag queen octopus Ursula and save the day (Just like in Jaws 4).

The real Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale explains that while humans die after a short life-span and go to Heaven, Mermaids live 300 years and when they die, they turn into sea foam. In short, Mermaids have no souls. When the little mermaid makes her deal with the sea witch, she is told that her legs will always feel like she is walking on knives. Also, if the prince doesn’t fall in love with her, she will die and turn into sea foam. Well, the prince falls in love with another girl and gets married. The little mermaid is given one chance to not die and become a mermaid again. She is given a knife and is ordered to kill the prince and let his blood fall on her legs. She just can’t bring herself to slay him and she jumps into the ocean. Where she…..dies and becomes sea foam. Ain’t love grand?

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Unsee the dead mermaids in this…I dare you.

4 – Cinderella

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The Kardashians in animated form.

I always thought Cinderella was the forgettable Disney princess. She is like a 6.5 out of 10. In her story, Cinderella has to serve her ugly stepsisters and evil stepmom. She has the help of a fairy godmother and a fat mouse named Gus Gus and wins the heart of the prince in one dance. Of course she loses the slipper, he eventually finds her and finds love.

There is actually no change at that point from the original tale and the Disney remix. It’s what happens after that is different. Hide your child’s eyes at this point. The prince seeks the girl who lost the shoe, and in order to fit the shoe, the evil stepsisters cut off toes and heels and put the now bloody shoe on. The prince falls for the trick until some “ravens” come tell him of the sisters’ deception. The ravens then fly to the stepsisters and peck out their eyes. The prince finds Cinderella and they live happily ever after, though her sisters beg her for mercy the rest of their miserable blind days.

3 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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Oh Quasimodo, the king of fools, they’ll never understand you. Aided by his best friends, the gargoyles, he befriends the gypsy harlot Esmerelda and is saved by her, and in turn, saves her. He, Phoebus, and Esmerelda seek sanctuary from the evil Frollo. In the end, Frollo falls to his death and the three heroes escape triumphantly.

Quasimodo is not so lucky in the original Victor Hugo tale. He has no gargoyle friends and even though he desperately wants Esmerelda to be with him, she shuns him. Phoebus and she regularly “got it on” and a jealous Frollo kills Phoebus and blames Esmerelda for the crime. Frollo and Quasimodo sit atop Notre Dame as Esmerelda is about to be hung. Frollo laughs as she actually is hung. Quasimodo, in a rage, pushes Frollo to his death. Quasimodo is so grief-stricken that he finds Esmerelda’s grave and crawls in with her. He stays there until he dies of starvation…. I don’t think it would be possible for Hugo to make the story more bleak. Though it sounds like the end of “Somewhere in Time.”

2 – Pinocchio

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No matter where you look, his eyes follow you…

I’ve got no strings, to hold me down, to make me fret, or make me frown… Classic lyrics from Disney’s Pinocchio. Little did we know that a string would be the end of him. Disney’s classic follows Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket on a quest to be a real boy. He gets swallowed by Monstro, escapes, then he and Geppetto live a good life.

In the original by Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio begins life as a speaking log. Geppetto, who hates kids, is asked to craft a puppet and raise him. The first thing Pinocchio does when he is carved is steal Geppetto’s wig and runs off. Geppetto is later arrested for mistreatment of Pinocchio, due to nothing other than the fact that he doesn’t like kids. Later a 100 year old cricket tells Pinocchio that disobedient children will turn into donkeys. Upon hearing this Pinocchio throws a hammer at the cricket and squashes him. Yes, that’s right! Pinocchio kills his conscience. Later, Pinocchio runs into the fox and the cat who trick him. The ghost of the cricket appears to Pinocchio and warns him about the fox and cat. Pinocchio ignores him and they rob him and….hang him. Yes, Pinocchio is hung and killed. No strings to hold him down indeed.

1 – Sleeping Beauty

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Shame on you Prince…

Princess Aurora is one of the the hottest Disney princesses out there. Does this list make me sound like a cartoon perv? If you are a guy and reading this, I’m sure you could tell me your top 3 princesses at least. Let he who is without sin…and all that jazz. Anyways, Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on a spindle and she and the entire castle are put to sleep for 100 years while the prince must defeat Malificent (one of the best Disney villains) and give Aurora true love’s kiss and wake her.

Poor Sleeping Beauty in the original. She doesn’t prick her finger but at the age of 16 she falls asleep according to a prophecy somehow. There she lays, but there is no shining Prince Charming to kiss her and wake her up (bad morning breath?). Instead, the King finds her asleep and…..rapes her! Yep, sleeping beauty is raped and 9 months later (still asleep mind you) gives birth to twins. She still doesn’t wake up. Actually, she only wakes up when one of the children is suckling on her finger and sucks some wax off and she wakes up. Apparently the wax was keeping her asleep. I blame the candlestick maker. So Sleeping Beauty wakes up as the mother of 2 kids and is also a rape victim. Yikes. Fairy Tales are messed up!


  1. Sarah September 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm -

    Whoa. I had read all of the Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm’s Fairy Tale versions of these stories way back in the day. But mercifully, I had forgotten how many of them turn out.

    I think Disney was a very good man for taking some very raw material and turning it into family-friendly entertainment!

    As for The Little Mermaid, it actually does have a silver lining to that gray cloud. What actually happens is that as she is turning into sea foam after refusing to kill the prince, she is instead taken up into the air to become a spirit called “the daughter of the air.” With the other daughters of the air, she is called on to perform service for all mankind for 300 years and at the end of that period, she will be taken into heaven having gained a soul for her good desires and kind deed (not killing the prince). So, at least there’s a plus!

    As for Sleeping Beauty…it DEFINITELY stinks to be her. Bless Disney’s heart. Besides, that movie also brought about Prince Phillip, who my sister considers to be the hottest of the Disney Princes. Win Win.

  2. Sarah September 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm -

    Oh, and as for Snow White and the Huntsman, was life imitating Grimm art? And before the news broke of the affair between Kristen Stewart and the movie’s director, there was talk of a sequel. Let’s just hope that a sequel isn’t a possibility anymore. Somehow, I just don’t think it would be a good idea. 🙂

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