The development of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales over the years

SUPERNATURAL -- "Bedtime Stories" -- Photo credit: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW -- Acquired via CW TV PR
SUPERNATURAL -- "Bedtime Stories" -- Photo credit: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW -- Acquired via CW TV PR /

In Supernatural Season 3, Episode 5, fairy tales are brought into the equation. These aren’t the Disney fairy stories, but the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales.

Supernatural Season 3, Episode 5 didn’t hold back anything when it came to the fairy tales. Rather than using the sanitized versions that Disney has delivered over the years, it stuck to the original horror of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales. This certainly isn’t surprising with the series, which had taken lore and legends and made sure the story told was as creepy as possible.

And it’s not just about the Grimm Brothers’ stories. Hans Christian Andersen had dark, sad versions of the tales. Just why would the stories start so dark and be adapted into something fun for kids?

Well, kids aren’t exactly going to sit and watch a tale that involves parts of the feet being cut off to fit into glass slippers or of the Evil Step Mother being forced to dance on hot irons as punishment, are they? Disney decided that the stories weren’t quite suitable and opted to make them more “kid-friendly.” This also meant a “happily ever after” moment in each of the stories, making sure there was also a good lesson for children to learn.

Grimm Brothers
SUPERNATURAL — “Bedtime Stories” — Photo credit: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW — Acquired via CW TV PR /

Grimm Brothers: Cautionary tales?

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The fairy tales that the Grimm Brothers wrote had more of a cautionary tale element to them. That was the case for many other authors of the day, especially Hans Christian Andersen. For example, “The Little Mermaid” didn’t involve the mermaid saving the prince and then marrying him at the end. The prince married the real girl who saved him, which was the princess from the neighboring village. The mermaid, who had given her voice to the ocean for legs that were like knives to walk on, died alone, in love with a man she couldn’t have.

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In the story of Cinderella, whose name is Aschenputtel in the German adaptation of a French story, the evil stepsisters cut off a toe and heel to make sure they fit into the shoe. Instead of a cute fairy godmother, there’s a wishing tree growing out of Aschenputtel’s mom’s grave and her father is still alive, allowing her stepmother to treat her in such a way. In one of the versions, the stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by a carrier pigeon and live the rest of their days as blind beggars.

The stories are nothing like the tales that Disney has created. Sam Winchester made that point briefly but I do urge you to read the original versions. They may be dark and horrifying at times, but they’re beautifully written cautionary tales.

Watering down over the years

These tales were written in the early 19th century. Expectations and suitability has changed over the years. Could you imagine reading some of these tales to your children now? Well, I admit that as a child I read the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales and many others–I also loved Roald Dahl’s versions. However, most children wouldn’t read them much when there are the Disney versions.

While there were still some lessons to learn in the Disney versions, there was a focus on a romance story; a tale of love and triumph. Snow White was the first to be made and proved successful. Look at where we are now with them!

By the way, if you think the Disney stories are sexist, you just have to look at the Grimm Brothers and others for where that started. Disney’s adaptations remained true to form when it came to the treatment of women and sort of improved it! Yes, really!

Next: Supernatural lore: Comas and spirits

Did you know about the real Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales? Have you read the originals? Share in the comments below.