A child has demanded a bedtime story. The storyteller starts into a traditional fairy tale
, but the kid (or perhaps the storyteller) insists on altering the story
. As plot points are introduced willy-nilly
, the narrative will eventually fall apart.
Not to be confused with Fractured Fairy Tale
, though the results may be very similar. May involve Narrative Backpedaling
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Hayate the Combat Butler has Hayate tell Nagi a bastardized "Alice in Wonderland" for an anniversary chapter. He begins by telling Nagi (and the readers) that the author hasn't read the story in a long time. We then get Hinagiku as Alice running into the Student Council Trio as "rabbits" and her pitying them for getting stuck on cheesecake duty. Then she beats the challenge (noted as being a metaphor for success and society) before they even finish explaining it to her. It then wraps up with her single-handedly crushing the card army and taking over Wonderland, renaming it the United States of Japan.
- Happens in Sket Dance when the principal asks Sket Dan to prepare a story for his grandson. They start with what is supposed to be a safe game, the classic Japanese tale of Momotaro, but since all of them consider various parts of the story to be anachronistic, implausible or uninteresting to modern audience, they start to introduce various changes in setting, characters and events (often using modern manga tropes) until they end up twisting it into a chaotic mash.
- An early Bloom County strip had a grandpa try to read Snow White to two little kids, the black kid objects: "Hold it, there ARE other colors, you know!" and the other kid says, "And what's with this dwarf business?" so the grandpa says, "Alright, alright, this is the story of Pitch Black and the Seven Big Honkies! Happy?"
- Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes tends to insist that all animals in the stories be turned into tigers, among other demands, until his father resorts to Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.
...And the tiger ate them both, and he lived happily ever after. The end.
- On another occasion, Calvin requests his dad to read his favorite bedtime story, "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie!", and because his dad is so tired of reading it to him, he changes the events a lot.
Calvin: Wow, the story was different that time!
Hobbes: Do you think the townsfolk will find Hamster Huey's head?
Films - Animated
- Home on the Range has an animated short part of its continuity called "A Dairy Tale" where Mrs. Calloway tries telling a story about the three little pigs. All the other farm animals keep interrupting her and pretty much derailed it before she even got to the wolf blowing houses down. She's initially angry at them, but the piglets she was telling the story to said it was awesome, and she changed her tone right away.
- In the Shrek Halloween Special Scared Shrekless, Puss is trying to tell a scary story, but the jealous Donkey keeps horning in and changing the story in his favor, which Puss then changes again. They go back and forth until Donkey gets eaten by a giant waffle.
Films - Live Action
- The entire premise behind Disney's Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler. The added twist is that the bits the kids make up (such as raining gumballs or the main character getting kicked by an angry dwarf) happen in some way to the protagonist.
- Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch. A psycho fur-trapper played by Iggy Pop (in drag) tells his two companions the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears while they contemplate jumping an unsuspecting passerby.
Sally: (from far off) ...That porridge was too hot!
Nobody: Stupid white man. William Blake, you go to them.
Blake: I don't know those people, and they don't look very friendly. What if they kill me?
Sally: ...SOMEBODY HERE ATE ALL OUR PORRIDGE!
Nobody: Nobody will observe.
Sally: And he tore her head off her body. He took that golden hair, and made a sweater for baby bears!
Trapper #2: That's terrible.
- Played with in the Discworld. In Thud!, we're introduced to the children's book "Where's My Cow?" that Sam Vimes reads to Sam Jr. every night at 6 pm, no excuses. When the book was defictionalized, the framing story is of Vimes derailing it, replacing the farm animals with the sights and sounds of Ankh-Morpork.
- In the original, Vimes tried it for a while, but Sybil objected when Jr started picking up... improper vocabulary, such as "Buggrit!"
- The plot of Witches Abroad involves the witches doing this in real life, trying to abort the Big Bad's attempt to make a fairytale play out in reality.
- Another example in which the storyteller, rather than the child, derails the story: the short story "Little Green Riding Hood". The grandfather telling the story keeps trying to change it (replacing the wolf with a giraffe, for instance) and the child keeps correcting him. Finally the grandfather manages to get out of telling the story by giving the child money to buy chewing gum.
- In Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, Tony used to read fairy tales to her goddaughters, Roz's twin girls, when they were young; the twins insisted that all characters were female regardless of how this impacted the story. It's from this - changing "The Robber Bridegroom" - that the title comes. (Incidentally, in the "new and improved" version of the fairy tale, the victim is still a woman, echoing the narrative of the novel.)
- The children's book Beware The Storybook Wolves. Herb's mother leaves the storybook open when she leaves the room - which allows the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood to join forces with the big bad wolf from The Three Little Pigs. Herb tries to get assistance from the Fairy Godmother - but she ends up giving one of the wolves a Pimped-Out Dress and sending him to the ball (resulting in Cinderella grumpily having a night in). Also features a cameo of the Wicked Witch from Sleeping Beauty.
Live Action Television
- The entire premise behind the French Canadian children show Fanfreluche, a living ragdoll who would read fairy tales to the audience and enter the book to change the plot and alter the ending.
- In CSI: New York episode The Lady in the Lake, Adam is telling a story to a witness's kids while they're in the station waiting for their parent. He starts off telling them a story about a Cinderella-esque victim who was found in the lake during a ball. The suspects actually line up fairly closely to a Prince Charming (the victim's wealthy fiance), an Evil Sorcerer (her drug-dealer ex who wasn't so evil after all) and a Wicked Witch (the fiance's snobbish mother, who committed the murder.) Of course, the story is derailed because it's Adam telling it, and he found a piece of a spaceship.
- Gotham Girls: The Three Bears become the Three Babes, among other changes.
- This xkcd strip involves a girl whose math-professor mother would fall asleep while telling the stories, subconsciously placing her work into them. Some even made more sense than their respective originals.
- In one of the U.S. Acres/Orson's Farm segments on Garfield and Friends, the story of Chicken Little becomes an exercise in random plot points, until the only plot point to remain is the ozone layer gag.
- In another segment, Orson tries telling the story of Cinderella to Booker and Sheldon, and they insist on altering the story so that the King's messenger becomes a rapmaster and the stepsiblings become ninjas. The story's still recognizable until they insist that the protagonist run into the Big Bad Wolf while fleeing from the ball. Orson tells them there's no place for a wolf in Cinderella, but they say all fairy tales have to have a wolf. After they insist on a new plot twist where the Earth opens up and dinosaurs emerge, Orson gives up. He stops the story there, gives a fast summary of the real Cinderella story, and then leaves.
- And apparently he didn't learn his lesson, as there's yet another episode where the exact same thing happens, this time with the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Even Roy and Wade get in on the act.
- Episode "Nursery Crimes" of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy starts the kids in the story of Hansel and Gretel, but they wander off and encounter characters from other fairy tales such as Pinocchio, who wants to Become a Real Boy by eating the flesh of a real boy.
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, episode "Three Little Piglets," and a honey tree. The first little piglet lived in a honey tree...er, straw house, which was next to a honey tree. And he was terrorized by the Big Bad Bunny, saved by the Masked Offender and...it's basically Pooh reading a story with everyone adding their own stuff while Rabbit keeps trying to keep them on track.
- In Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko and Heffer tell a sick Filburt the story of Hansel and Debbie, who go into the woods and find a house made of fish sticks, and then...it all gets more convoluted after that.
- W.I.T.C.H., episode "U is for Undivided": The kid who demanded a bedtime story just happens to be a Reality Warper.
- The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Deedee-locks and the Ness Monster". Dexter is told read Dee Dee a bedtime story while she's ill. However she gets bored and makes up her own fairy tale; featuring a girl called Dee Dee Locks having adventures with a three-headed creature known as the Ness Monster.