[[caption-width-right:300: Original Illustration by E.T.A. Hoffmann.]]

"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (Ger. ''Nußknacker und Mausekönig'') is a 1816 FairyTale by Creator/ETAHoffmann, but you probably know it by its shorter title: ''Theatre/TheNutcracker'' (Rus. ''Щелкунчик, Shchelkunchik'') from the frequently staged [[Theatre/TheNutcracker ballet]] by Music/PyotrIlyichTchaikovsky, the musical suite derived therefrom, and from that suite's use in Creator/{{Disney}}'s ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}.'' The ballet has also been made into various screen adaptations, mostly animated.

The Stahlbaum children are given a toy nutcracker for Christmas from their godfather Drosselmeier. This nutcracker turns out to be more than he seems; he's really Drosselmeier's nephew transformed by a mouse queen's evil curse. With the help of young Marie Stahlbaum, the nutcracker is eventually able to overcome his foe (the queen's vengeful son), regain his true form, and take Marie to the doll kingdom. After taking a grand tour, Marie falls asleep and wakes up in her own bed. When she tries to tell her parents, they think she's dreamed the entire thing and forbid her to speak of it again. However, Marie goes to her nutcracker in the cabinet and vows she would love him if he were real, even if he were ugly. This breaks the curse, and he asks her to marry him. Marie accepts, and in a year he takes her to the doll kingdom, where she is crowned queen.

A fan translation of Hoffmann's original fairy tale can be found [[http://www.springhole.net/writing/the_nutcracker_and_the_mouse_king/index.html here.]]

The story has been adapted numerous times, including two feature length {{Animated Adaptation}}s. It was also famously illustrated by Creator/MauriceSendak for a special version translated by Ralph Mannheim. A Creator/WaltDisneyPictures live action film adaptation that also incorporates elements from Tchaikovsky's ballet, ''Film/TheNutcrackerAndTheFourRealms'', is scheduled for release in November 2018.

!! The book provides examples of:

* AChildShallLeadThem: Young Drosselmeier is the king of the Land of the Dolls. He's probably 14 at the ''most.''
* AuthorAvatar: Drosselmeier has been claimed as a self portrait of Hoffmann.
* AuthorTract: The story isn't very subtle about its message that beauty and royalty do ''not'' equal goodness and virtue.
* BlindIdiotTranslation: Ralph Manheim's translation is pretty decent, but he goofs up big time by translating the names of two completely different places into "Candytown." (Specifically, Bonbonshausen and Konfektburg.) And it's not like they were particularly easy to mistake for one another, either.
* BigBad: The Mouse King.
* BreakTheCutie: Marie, to a degree, thanks to the Mouse King psychologically tormenting her.
* BugWar: The residents of Candytown (Bonbonshausen) are seen making preparations for an attack from the mosquitoes.
* CurseEscapeClause: Two -- Princess Pirlipat could escape her curse of ugliness if a young man who had never shaved nor worn boots cracked the nut Krakatuk between his teeth, presented it to the princess with his eyes closed, and took seven steps backward without stumbling. The second is the curse on the Nutcracker: His curse is broken when Marie announces that she would love him even if he were ugly.
* TheDreaded: The inhabitants of the Land of Dolls believe in a cruel spirit they call [[FluffyTheTerrible Pastrycook (Konditor),]] who has total power over mankind. Just mentioning his name will quell any uproar, as everyone would suddenly be preoccupied with pondering man's place in the universe.
* DuelToTheDeath: It's [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome not described,]] but this is how the Mouse King dies.
* EccentricMentor: Godfather Drosselmeier.
* EekAMouse: Averted; Hoffman specifically mentions that Marie isn't afraid of mice, though her mother seems to assume she is. (In fact, she's only afraid of one, and for good reason.)
* EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses: There are what, five of them in all?
* EverythingsBetterWithSparkles: The Land of Dolls, ever so much.
* EvilMatriarch: The Mouse Queen.
* GemEncrusted: The boat / sea chariot Nutcracker and Marie cross the lake on; a room inside Marzipan Castle.
* GiveMeASword: And then I'll take care of this stinking Mouse King.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: The Mouse Queen.
* GoldMakesEverythingShiny: Especially flatware and cooking dishes!
* TheGrotesque: Princess Pirlipat and the Nutcracker. Subverted a bit with Pirlipat in that, after her ugliness is removed, she turns out to be a RoyalBrat.
* HappilyEverAfter: In the book.
* IncredibleShrinkingMan: The only reasonable way Marie could climb a ladder up her father's coat sleeve...
* KidHero: Marie to an extent (she's seven) and most definitely Nutcracker, who becomes king, leads an army, and defeats the BigBad mano a mano (he's most likely somewhere around 13-15).
* LevelAte: The Land of Dolls, where buildings are made from various sweets.
* LivingToys: Possibly the oldest example in the book.
* MultipleHeadCase: The Mouse King has seven heads.
* NiceMice: Averted; the mice (or at least the royal family) are a nasty bunch.
* NoNameGiven: The names of the king, queen, and court astronomer are never given. The nutcracker and Marie's parents are only known by their surnames.
* OrWasItADream: In the book, it wasn't!
** Some of the ballet adaptations don't make it a dream either.
** The Soviet cartoon seems be more ambiguous on this part, but, given that we see Marie's sabots and The Nutcracker's empty shell at the end, it seems the events were real after all.
** Zigzagged in one of the animated adaptations. [[spoiler: After all of the adventures, Marie wakes up in her bed and life continues. Then Drosselmeier shows up -- with Young Drosselmeier on tow. Young Drosselmeier tells Marie that yes, everything happened, and in the very end they go together to the doll kingdom. (It should be noticed that in this particular animated movie, 7 year old Marie is [[AgeLift aged up]] to around 12-13 years old.)]]
* OurGiantsAreBigger: Marzipan Castle was once threatened by a giant named Sweettooth. The people of Candytown (Konfektburg) bought him off by offering him a precinct of the city and a large portion of Marmalade Grove.
* PajamaCladHero: Marie / Clara goes to the Land of Dolls in her nightie.
* ThePowerOfLove
* TheQuest: Drosselmeier went on one to find the cure for Princess Pirlipat.
* RatKing: The Mouse King has seven heads, which suggests that it might have been inspired by stories of Rat Kings. He's changed to the Rat King in many adaptations, since [[YouDirtyRat rats]] are seen as more villainous than [[NiceMice mice]].
* {{Revenge}}: Just don't irritate those pesky mouse nobles.
* ReplacementGoldfish: At the end of the story, young Drosselmeier replaces all of the sugar dolls the Mouse King ate. Small comfort when you remember that the originals were living beings...
* RoyalBrat: Princess Pirlipat and the king.
* RuleOfThree: The Mouse King visits Marie three times before Nutcracker offs him.
* SadisticChoice: The Mouse King makes Marie surrender her beloved candies and toys to him, or else he'll destroy the Nutcracker.
* SupremeChef: The four princesses of Marzipan Castle.
* ThemeNaming: The Drosselmeier family -- we have Christian Elias Drosselmeier and Christoph Zechariah Drosselemeier. In other words, Christ(something) (Old Testament prophet) Drosselmeier.
* VagueAge: Young Drosselmeier. He probably wasn't any older than fourteen when he was transformed into a Nutcracker, given the facts we have to work with. Then when you account for the fact that upward of seven years must have passed before he was given to Marie, he would logically be in his early twenties. But at the end of the story, Drosselmeier refers to him and Marie collectively as "children" and expects them to play together, so apparently he's still quite young.
* VileVillainSaccharineShow: The main villain of a story about dolls, candy, and Christmas? A sadistic seven headed mouse. His tininess really doesn't make him any less horrifying.
* TheWisePrince: The nutcracker prince.
* YouHaveToBelieveMe: After the Nutcracker kills the Mouse King and they visit the Land of Dolls, Marie tries in vain to convince her parents that it wasn't just a dream. To her credit she actually has evidence to show for it (the Mouse King's crowns), but they still find her story too ridiculous to believe.
* YoungestChildWins: Marie is the youngest of the three Stahlbaum children.