5 fairy tales about love – with not so happily ever afters

5 fairy tales about love with not so happily ever afters
Fairy tales: the stories where the charming prince married the beautiful princess, and they lived happily ever after – or not.

As some of you may have noticed, I’m a big fan of fairy tales. One of the things I love most about them is that they are so different. Some are sweet, some are gory and not all of them end with a happily ever after. Sometimes things just don’t work out and you have to behead the princess.

If you’re tired of hearing about all the happy endings, I’ve pulled together a little list with five fairy tales that definitely don’t have what you would call happily ever afters. You’ll find tales of princesses getting dumped, kicked out of their homes, or even murdered! The princes tend to fair a bit better, but I wouldn’t say their endings are super happy either.

Sometimes the main characters deserve what they’re getting, but other times, well, fate is just being a heartless harpy.

Happy reading!

Warning: the descriptions do contain some spoilers.

1. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
If you’ve only ever seen Disney’s version of this famous fairy tale, you are in for a BIG surprise. The original story does NOT have a happy ending – at least not for our heroine.

The prince gets a somewhat happily ever after, and I can’t even find it in me to hate him for it. It’s not really his fault that he’s an idiot, who condemns the mermaid to her unhappy fate. He didn’t know any better… Argh, the whole situation is infuriating! Damn you, Andersen, for creating a story where you can’t hate anyone but really want to!

So, if you’re looking for a beautiful, imaginative fairy tale that will rip your heart out and laugh at your pain, this is definitely the story for you!

5 fairy tales about love – with not so happily-ever-after endings

2. The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn by Brothers Grimm
Karma is a bitch fairy tale princess.

So the male protagonist in this story is – in my humble opinion – a jerk. He improves his position in life by ripping off decent people and for some reason that makes him a hero. Now I know that some people would say that he’s just clever enough to outsmart everyone, but when he cheats and steals from good-natured people, he’s a jerk in my book and doesn’t deserve a happy ending.

Cue Karma! He marries the princess and everything goes to hell. Apparently, she also thinks he’s a jerk, but her reason for thinking so isn’t particularly noble. Because of this, she doesn’t get a happy ending either. Her ending is actually much worse than of our prince, which isn’t exactly fair, but then someone once told me that life never is.

3. The Swineherd by Hans Christian Andersen
The famous fairy tale where the princess becomes a sex worker. As you may have guessed from the blog post topic, it doesn’t end well.

The fairy tale includes one enterprising prince in disguise, two must-have inventions, and a lot of kisses. Now, this might sound like a great recipe for a happy fairy tale ending, but it isn’t. The princess loses everything and the prince couldn’t care less. You probably won’t even feel particularly sorry for her, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t blame the prince for leaving her behind.

Fun Interesting Weird fact: *contains even more spoilers* Even though the official (and child-friendly) version of this fairy tale involves the prince demanding kisses from the princess for his inventions, Andersen had a version for grown-ups where the prince asked for something else…

5 fairy tales about love – with not so happily-ever-after endings

4. The Flying Trunk by Hans Christian Andersen
A little fairy tale about a flying trunk, a wannabe Turkish angle and the importance of fire safety! This is the only fairy tale on the list where the main characters actually want to marry each other, but can’t.

Fate clearly didn’t believe the two lovers belonged together, and I would have to agree. The Turkish angle isn’t being completely honest about himself and his past, so their relationship would be built on a lie, which is never a stable foundation for anything.

5. The King of the Golden Mountain by Brothers Grimm
The prince and the princess married and lived happily ever after – for about 8 years. Then everything went to hell in a handbasket.

Most fairy tales don’t tell you what happens after the prince and princess say ‘I do’, but this one does. It ain’t pretty… It’s actually rather bloody.

This fairy tale includes aaaaaall the juicy topics: Cursed princesses, stupid giants, betrayal, bigamy, murders and a magic ring.

Again, the prince gets a happier ending than the princess – whether or not he deserves it is up for debate.

5 fairy tales about love – with not so happily-ever-after endings

As always, you can find a link in the fairy tale titles that will take you to a website where you can read all the stories for free.

However, if you’ve got a Kindle, I would recommend that you download ‘Household Tales by Brothers Grimm’ translated by Margaret Hunt. It’s free, and the translation from German is one of the best out there if you ask me.

You will also be able to find free Kindle editions of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, but I’m not sure which English version is best – I tend to read his fairy tales in Danish. If you know of a great English translation of Andersen’s stories, do share it in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “5 fairy tales about love – with not so happily ever afters

  1. Evelina says:

    Wow, that’s a depressing list 😀 but then, fairytales are often truly brutal. Something from a world where people didn’t really believe in the happy ending yet, cause I think that’s a thing of the 19-20tu century (maybe?) I believe there were a lot less happy endings in a world most people had 19 kids, 9 of which died in infancy, and also nobody kept their teeth past age 25 D:

    • A Little Blue Book says:

      I think you’re right. It just was a different and more difficult (in some ways) time back then. As you say, not many people got a happy ending. But that’s one of the reasons why I love fairy tales so much – they reflect the historical context in which they were created. People had fairy tales with happy endings because sometimes life actually gives you a happy ending which can be encouraging to hear when you feel like everything is against you. Then they, of course, also had fairy tales to scare children into behaving in a way that would improve their chances of a happy life, and then there were the fairy tales with unhappy endings because that’s just how life is sometimes, and children needed to know that we don’t all get to marry a charming prince and live happily ever after. Wow… that was a loooong rant 😛

      • Sam says:

        It’s so interesting that fairy tales can be just an entertaining read and also provide the opportunity to learn about society!

        Great list, I really enjoyed reading these. And I like your comments about the princes vs princesses too – seems like that can tell us something about these societies as well

        • A Little Blue Book says:

          Thank you so much! I’m glad you like the list 🙂

          I definitely think fairy tales should be read with the historical context in mind. Some of them aren’t the greatest supporters of strong, independent women, but then a lot of them don’t treat unpleasant men very well either. It’s all part of reading magical tales from another time 🙂

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