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[[caption-width-right:350:Lost footwear resonates with us all.]]

'''"Cinderella"''' is one of the oldest, best known, and most universal stories in the world. The oldest known version is the story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave who marries the Egyptian Pharaoh. The story was recorded in the first century B.C., and may have been based on the true story by [[Literature/AesopsFables Aesop]] of a Thracian courtesan who lived in the sixth century B.C.

The quintessential RagsToRoyalty story, the best known versions in the western world are based on the one written by Creator/CharlesPerrault in the 17th century. If, on hearing the name Cinderella, you think of fairy godmothers, glass slippers, and a pumpkin turned into a coach, you're thinking of Perrault. In 1950, [[DisneyAnimatedCanon Disney]]'s ''Disney/{{Cinderella}}'' adapted Perrault's story into a movie, cementing it in people's minds as '''the''' story of Cinderella.

Seven years later RodgersAndHammerstein adapted it into a [[Film/{{Cinderella}} musical for a television broadcast,]] starring Broadway royalty Howard Lindsay and Dorothy Stickney, Edie Adams, Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostley (as the King and Queen, Fairy Godmother, and stepsisters, respectively) and Jon Cypher (of HillStreetBlues fame) as the Prince. One particular young lady took a week off from her starring role in [[Theatre/MyFairLady the most popular play on Broadway at the time]] to play Cinderella - Creator/JulieAndrews in her on-camera debut.

The bare bones of the story are as follows: A young noblewoman's mother dies and her father remarries a woman with daughters of her own, then disappears. The girl's new step-family turns out to be cruel and vindictive, and mistreat her by making her work as a servant. This usually gives rise to a mocking nickname to do with her dirtyness (in English, Cinderella, or Cinder-girl, covered in fireplace cinders). When the local prince holds a kingdom-wide ball, they refuse to let her attend, but she calls on a spirit helper (usually representative of her dead mother) who takes pity on her and outfits her for the ball, allowing her to outshine everyone present and win the heart of the prince. There is, however, a limit to the spirit's help: Cinderella must return by midnight. On the second night of the ball, the prince contrives to keep her past her curfew, and in her rush to get away, she loses one of her slippers. The prince uses the lost slipper to track her down, and, once reunited, they marry. The vindictive step-family may or may not be punished, depending on the variation.

When people want to be a bit DarkerAndEdgier, they may refer to the [[Creator/TheBrothersGrimm Grimms']] "Cinderella" instead, in which Cinderella -- or Aschenputtel -- plants a twig on her mother's grave, and the resultant tree, rather than fairy godmother, helps her, and the stepsisters cut off pieces of their feet to fit into the slipper, and are later blinded by karmic birds.

Presumably, the Grimms' version fits many people's idea of the dark, dangerous world of pre-Disney fairy-tales better than Perrault's, and therefore is sometimes erroneously referred to as the "original 'Cinderella'", despite being written over a hundred years after Perrault's, and about a thousand years after "Literature/YehShen". In general, because of many the long oral tradition behind most fairytales, referring to any version as the "original" is problematic and best avoided.

In Britain, it's been a favourite story for {{pantomime}} for over a century, where it often adds the parts of [[{{Camp}} Dandini]] and [[HopelessSuitor Buttons]].

In 2008, ''CinderellaFourByFour'', a LiveActionAdaptation with SettingUpdate starring DaryaMelnikova, was released.

Gregory Maguire, best known for ''Literature/{{Wicked}}'', also made a revisionist novel of the story called ''Literature/ConfessionsOfAnUglyStepsister'', and Stephen Sondheim wove Grimm's version into the wider action of ''IntoTheWoods.''

This story's [[FairytaleMotifs Aarne-Thompson Number]] is 510A (510B is the variants where a male figure persecutes her, as in "Literature/{{Tattercoats}}", "Literature/CapORushes", "Literature/{{Donkeyskin}}", and "Literature/{{Catskin}}"; one of the most common is the {{squick}}-laden variant in which the princess is on the run because her own father wants to [[IncestIsRelative marry her]]).
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!! "Cinderella" and its variations contain the following tropes:

* BeautyEqualsGoodness: The step-sisters may be beautiful or ugly, depending on the variation but Cinderella is always the most attractive. In some instances she has superior physical beauty and this is the [[GreenEyedMonster reason for her mistreatment]]; in others she is ordinary-looking or even plain but glowing with kindness, and it's the beauty of her personality that wins the prince.
* BeautifulAllAlong: Once she shows up in her PimpedOutDress.
* CinderellaCircumstances: TropeNamer and probably TropeMaker, considering its age. From Egypt to Europe to America there have been mistreated servant girls who dreamed of something more.
* DanceOfRomance: This is the TropeCodifier, if not the TropeMaker itself. Cinderella meets the prince at a royal ball.
* DancesAndBalls: This is not the only way that Cinderella gets to meet a prince, but one of the common ones.
* DisappearedDad: Cinderella's father is nearly always dead or absent. If he lives, he never intervenes on his daughter's behalf.
* EitherOrTitle: Perrault's title was "Cinderella, or the Glass Slipper".
* EvenEvilHasStandards: In Perrault's version the youngest stepsister is less bitchy than her sister and mother because she names her stepsister "Cendrillon" ("Cinderella") instead of Cucendron [[hottip:note:which means, for those of us who don't speak French, ''Ash-ass'' or ''with her ass in the cinders'', though it would be more correct to use ''Cul-cendron'' instead]].
* EyeScream: In Grimm's tale, the stepsisters end blinded by birds.
* FamilyUnfriendlyViolence: the stepsisters' fate in the Grimms' version.
* FairyGodmother: Perrault's version is the TropeCodifier. When anyone after him (and especially after the disney adaption) thinks of one of these, they think of kindly old women in robes who say "bibi-bobiti-boo!"
* FairyTale: A very old tale teaching a morale and involves the supernatural.
* GenderFlip: A traditional Irish version has Cinderellis, a boy with such enormous feet he steals a giant's shoes. The story plays out fairly similarly to the usual plot line, after he gets his shoes, except for this.
* TheGirlWhoFitsThisSlipper: TropeMaker for the first time to use such a device.
* GorgeousGarmentGeneration: The shoes and dress that the Fairy Godmother gives to Cinderella, which disappear at midnight.
* HappilyEverAfter: At the end of the story, Cinderella marries the prince and leads a much happier life than before.
* HeelFaceTurn: The stepsisters at the end of Perrault's version drop their nastiness.
* ImpossibleTask: In many variants, the stepmother sets such a task either as the price to go to the ball (she's lying) or to do while they are at the ball.
* ImpossiblyCoolClothes:
** Perrault's version gives her ''glass'' slippers.
** In the Egyptian version, her slippers are made of pure ''gold''. The Grimms' version gives gold slippers as well.
** Even the fur slippers are nice. Consider how expensive and frivolous a slipper of ermine or sable would have been - and pretty, too!
** The Yeh-Shen version had her wearing weightless shoes made of golden fish scales.
* InterClassRomance: Being a noble woman the distinction is less extreme than other examples, but Cinderella's ''de facto'' status is servant.
* KarmaHoudini: Depending on the versions, the stepsisters either redeem themselves or are blinded by Cinderella's birds. However nothing is said about the Stepmother and Cinderella's father (in variants where he's still alive and indifferent to Cinderella's woes).
* {{Ladyella}}: The TropeNamer. Any fairy-tale story with "ella" in TheProtagonist's name is likely to be a reference to this tale.
* MasqueradeBall: It's frequently used, but not ubiquitous. It explains why the Prince is so insistent on using shoe size to find a girl.
* MissingMom: The reason why Cinderella is stuck with the stepmother.
* NeckSnap: The old Roman variation of Cinderella. One day, the governess of Zeozolla (Cinderella) wanted to marry her student/care-getter's father. Zeozolla went to her governess as she considered her present stepmother to be a very unpleasant and mean lady. Next thing you know, the governess fucking ''instigated'' Zeozolla to kill her stepmother!
-->'''Cinderella''': Mother, in this box is your clothes.\\
'''Stepmother''': Well, can't be helped after all.\\
'''Cinderella''': * puts lid on her stepmom's neck*\\
'''Stepmother''': KYAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!
* NiceShoes: Whether glass, or something else.
* NobleBirdOfPrey: The oldest recorded version has the [[EgyptianMythology god Horus]] in his usual guise as a falcon. The Grimm's version has birds ripping off the step-sisters eyes, although their species is not specified.
* NoNameGiven: One of the stepsister sister is named Javotte but the other characters don't have names.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Usually a "Cinderella" girl has a normal life in her early years, so she presumably has a real name before people start calling her Cinder-girl. Many stories never mention the protagonist's birth name, and no one who hears the story remembers it anyway. Thus, the real name varies.
** In most English versions, it is usually "Ella", or [=(p=]articularly in {{pantomime}}[=)=] "Cinders".
** In ''Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister'', her name is "Clara".
** In ''Literature/ThePrincessSeries'' by Jim Hines, her name is "Danielle."
** In the Disney film, her name was always "Cinderella", as proven in the opening narrative.
* ParentalFavoritism: The step-mother's ill-treatment stems from her desire to elevate her daughters above Cinderella.
* PimpedOutDress: The dress is always fancy and elaborate; fit for a princess you might say.
* PrettyInMink: Some incorrect translations note the shoes as fur-lined.
* PrincessForADay: The dress and shoes (and in Perrault's version, other things like a stage coach) allow Cinderella to pretend to be a princess, but only until midnight.
* RebelPrince: Many adaptations tend to give the Prince a bit of a defiant streak (usually in the form of him being AWOL from the kingdom for some time before the story, or by him simply refusing to get married despite his parent's protests), if only to give him ''some'' kind of character trait and keep him from being a SatelliteLoveInterest.
* RuleOfThree: There are three balls in the Grimms' version. Perrault's version has two balls, and many modern versions have only one.
* SheCleansUpNicely: As a "cinder girl", the transformation to princess is striking, both for the audience and for the characters in-universe.
* SpiritAdvisor:
** Representing her dead mother, this might be a fairy godmother, a tree, or an animal (Yeh-Shen had a magic carp). Some are more closely to connect to the mother than others; the tree, for instance, is often planted on her mother's grave.
** There is a Czech movie made in the Seventies in which the spirit advisor is a simple owl called Rosalie. She looks at Cinderella every time she asks "Should I?" when she is about to get a new costume.
* RagsToRiches: To be certain her stepmother never gave her any money nor any time to earn it herself.
* RagsToRoyalty: As Creator/JaneYolen has pointed out, this is {{averted}}, at least from the way we often think about it: technically, Cinderella was ''already'' nobility and/or an heiress, just made to wear rags by her WickedStepmother.
--> "'Cinderella' is not a story of rags to riches, but rather riches recovered; not poor girl into princess but rather rich girl (or princess) rescued from improper or wicked enslavement."
* RuleOfThree: The festival often lasts three nights.
* SiblingTriangle: The stepsisters seriously try to get the prince.
* TextileWorkIsFeminine: She has to ready her stepsisters' dresses.
* TheUnfavorite: Possibly the UrExample considering its age. Cinderella is treated like a slave while her stepsisters are treated as nobility.
* WhenTheClockStrikesTwelve: UrExample and trope codifier. The oldest use of this trope and the one people think of.
* WickedStepmother: If not the UrExample, certainly the TropeCodifier and TropeNamer (Yes, it codified a lot of these tropes). For ages stepmothers in fiction were thought to be evil and it all started by calling her step-daugter "Cinder girl".

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