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.
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!
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…
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.
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!