For most of us alive today Disney movies have been a phenomenon that often ruled childhood. Starting the 1930s the animated films of Walt Disney brought joy to young and old audiences alike and spawned an industry of children’s entertainment that continues on today; selling everything from pajamas to lunchboxes to theme park tickets. While the Disney villains in these films are quite charismatic, the stars of show have always been the princesses. With their good looks, kind hearts, and in some cases devastating wit, the princesses steal the scene every time. But, despite the inevitable happy endings, the original stories that these films are based on are often quite a bit darker and more gruesome than the animated versions. Here are 4 Disney princesses whose original stories are horrifying.

gold and rhinestone tiara
Via: Albert Jarod Ibay/Unsplash

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

In the tale of Schneewittchen from the 1812 book, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, her prince wakes up her not with a romantic kiss as in the film. Instead his servants accidentally drop her casket while carrying it through the forest, dislodging the poison apple from her throat.

Despite his careless treatment of the glass coffin, he is ├╝ber protective of his love at their wedding. When her evil stepmother shows up he forces her dance in red hot iron shoes until she drops dead. Not exactly the ending we see in the 1937 animated film.

Snow White Illustration from around 1900
Via: Alexander Zick/Wiki Commons


The Grimm’s version told of the put-upon Cinderella who got help from a magical tree. In this version her stepsisters horrifically mutilated their feet to try and fit in the glass slipper. But even older, ancient versions from around the world told of female slaves gaining freedom based on the appealing shape of their shoes and yes, in some versions the stepsisters died.

Slavery, death, and disfigurement are a far cry from the helpful menagerie of little animals that Cinderella has on her side in the 1950 Disney movie.

illustration of Grimm's Cinderalla story
Via: Elenore Abbott/Wiki Commons

Belle from Beauty and the Beast

In the original 18th French story written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, Belle was named Beauty and she was bullied by her family before her father (a shipping merchant) went bankrupt and deceived the family into believing he still had money. When he cannot afford to bring them the lavish presents he promised, he picks a rose from the Beast’s garden to give to Beauty who asked for no more than a blossom.

After threatening to kill the trespasser, the beast ensnares the merchant in a deal to marry Beauty. After a while of living with Beast Beauty is allowed to go home. When she does not come back on time he dies from loneliness and heartache. Only when Beauty returns and shouts to the heavens that she was wrong to leave him does he return to life in human form, the nefarious spell having been lifted. Since Gaston and the Beast both die in the Disney film, you might this story is about as horrific as the animated movie.

1913 illustration of Beauty and Beast
Via: Warwick Goble/Wiki Commons

Elsa and Ann from Frozen

The original story by Hans Christian Anderson was called “The Snow Queen” and was set in Lapland, Finland. It tells the tale of the evil Snow Queen who imprisons a boy named Kay, the childhood love of Gerda, the heroine of the story. Kay is be-felled by magic when a sharp splinter from the devil’s mirror lands in his eye.

Kay is later abducted by the queen and trapped in a pool of ice before the kiss of Gerda releases him from the spell. When the two return to their village they find they have grown up and their childhoods are now gone. On the bright side at least it’s no longer winter when they get home.

1899 illustration from The Snow Queen
Via: Wiki Commons