Fairy Tale Free-for-All

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Fairy tales, fables, nursery rhymes, and folktales are a major part of literary canon in all parts of the world. Everyone knows them from their childhood, they're popular targets for adaptations, they're considered "timeless," and in the eyes of most people, will never get old. Add into that the fact that many of these stories exhibit similar character archetypes, settings, and story patterns, and you've got yourself ripe material for crossovers.

A Fairy Tale Free-for-All is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover of many different fairy tales. Because many similar characters exist in many of these stories, expect different "incarnations" to in fact be the same person. (Prince Charming is a popular target for this, often including the obvious infidelity this implies. The Big Bad Wolf is another one that gets the same treatment.) Very rarely are the fairy tales themselves played straight, though; expect Deconstruction at every turn. Fractured Fairy Tale is not necessarily in play, but it's far from uncommon.

The exact nature of the story can vary between incarnations. Sometimes the stories will be told as they are known, intersecting where appropriate. Other times, the characters from various tales will be transported into a different story. Sometimes, a mixed approach is used, transporting characters from one tale into another, or having them hop from story to story over the course of the plot. Any way it's done, the effect is the same: what would happen if our favorite characters met each other?

The fact that these stories are virtually all in Public Domain and therefore lawsuit-proof is another attractive factor about them to creators. Because of the inherently fantastic nature of fairy tales, this will frequently overlap with Fantasy Kitchen Sink and All Myths Are True.

Sub-trope of Massive Multiplayer Crossover. Compare Monster Mash.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Castle Waiting is a crossover of various fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters living in Sleeping Beauty's former castle, which was abandoned following her rescue and marriage.
  • The comic series Fables features numerous fairy tale and classic literature characters who, having been forced out of their stories (or "Homelands") live in a ghetto of New York City, if they aren't sent to a Farm upstate. By extension, its prequel video game The Wolf Among Us also fits.

    Films — Animation 
  • The animated feature film Happily N'Ever After explores a world where the fairy tales exist side by side, and what would happen if the balance of power between good and evil were suddenly shifted.
  • The Shrek series is a Fractured Fairy Tale featuring characters from all kinds of traditional stories coexisting together. Among the prominent characters are the Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, The Big Bad Wolf (a combination of the wolf from Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood), and the Three Blind Mice. Its spin-off Puss in Boots also fits.
  • Hoodwinked and its sequel mainly focuses on the characters of Little Red Riding Hood especially Red who is now far more badass, but a collection of other fairy tale characters show up too as supporting characters or antagonists such as the three little pigs, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Bean Stalk, and Little Boy Blue.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • The main character in Sheri S. Tepper's novel Beauty begins as Sleeping Beauty, but through Time Travel and Fairies, ends up causing and taking part in several other fairy tales (e.g. becoming a Fairy Godmother to her own daughter.)
  • Discworld holds that such stories are archetypes, wanting to be repeated over and over again, so that there are dozens of Cinderellas, Sleeping Beauties, etc. Wyrd Sisters introduces the idea and provides Black Aliss as the Wicked Witch of several and Fairy Godmother of others, many years ago. Witches Abroad plays more fully with this trope, with Lilith de Tempscire intentionally playing out stories and playing merry havoc with people's lives.
  • Enchanted: Multiple fairy tales are true, with the heroine Sunday and her sisters fulfilling the nursery rhyme about the days of the week, as well as other fairy tales — Monday is the titlular princess from The Princess and the Pea, Sunday meets up with The Frog Prince, and the whole family lives in what was once Rapunzel's tower.
  • Half Upon a Time and its sequels Twice Upon a Time and Once Upon The End feature several classic fairy tale characters in supporting roles.
  • The Lunar Chronicles is a futuristic fantasy retelling of several fairytales, with its main characters being counterparts to Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.
  • The Princess Series casts fairytale princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White) as spies, with other fairy tale heroines (such as Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Mermaid) popping up as well.
  • Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms: The world is one where any story can, and does happen, so there are tons of Cinderellas, a few Rapunzels, Puss in Boots, etc.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Once Upon a Time is set in a world where all fairy tale characters exist — some were just transported to a modern town on Earth due to a curse by the Evil Queen. The protagonists include Snow White, Prince Charming, their daughter, the Evil Queen, Rumpelstiltskin, Captain Hook, Belle, etc. Several other fairy tale characters from famous stories pop up in supporting or one-shot roles all the time. Since it's on ABC, very many of the fairy tale characters are specifically based on their Disney Animated Canon versions, or deliberately twisted from them to subvert audience expectations. Some characters from non-fairy tales have also appeared, most significantly Dr. Frankenstein.
  • In the miniseries The 10th Kingdom the Nine Kingdoms (the titular "Tenth Kingdom" represents our world) were founded by the heroes and heroines of the classic Grimm fairy tales (who didn't so much write the stories as stumble upon said world and steal the stories). Only the Third, Fourth and Ninth Kingdoms were physically seen in the miniseries, but representatives from most of the others made cameos.
    First Kingdom: Cinderella
    Second Kingdom: Little Red Riding Hood/Hansel and Gretel
    Third Kingdom: Formerly held the giants of Jack and the Beanstalk, but now mostly occupied by Trolls.
    Fourth Kingdom: Snow White
    Fifth Kingdom: The Emperor's New Clothes
    Sixth Kingdom: Rapunsel/Sleeping Beauty
    Seventh Kingdom: The Elves (possibly of The Elves and the Shoemaker fame)
    Eighth Kingdom: The Ice Queen AKA The Snow Queen (AKA what Frozen is losely taken from)
    Ninth Kingdom: The Dwarves (of Snow White fame)
  • Whenever Sesame Street dipped its feet into Fairy Tales, it featured an assortment of fairy tale characters as Muppets. Notable examples include Baby Bear from Goldilocks and the Three Bears along with his parents (and later little sister), or The Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs. There have also been smaller appearances from various Fairy Godmothers, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and many others.

    Rides 
  • Disney Theme Parks: Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom-style parks is home to characters and stories from Disney's fairytale movies.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Winter Tales is set in a fairy tale land made dark and twisted under the rule of the Winter Queen. Characters are drawn from traditional fairy tales such as Snow White as well as more recent literary fairy tales such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Pinocchio.

    Theater 

    Toys 
  • Ever After High is a toy franchise which features the offspring of the famous fairy tale characters attending the titular high school.

    Video Games 
  • Dark Parables features a different fairy tale in every game. The main character is the mystery-solving Fairy Tale Detective, but there is an ever-expanding cast of characters from a variety of classic tales, all of whom interact with one another in some way or another. Thus you see things like Snow White's twin brother being engaged to Rapunzel, and Jack confronting Goldilocks, and Pinocchio's father being married to Cinderella's Fairy Godmother - among many other connections.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Fairy Tale Police Department featured a pair of cops who work in Fairy Tale Land and help to solve fairy tale crimes from various characters from different fairy tales.
  • Regal Academy features the descendants of several fairy tale characters attending a Wizarding School.
  • Sandra The Fairytale Detective is about a detective who solves mysteries in Fairytale Land. She's met Cinderella, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty and more!
  • Super Why! takes place in "Storybook Village, where all our fairy tale friends live!" And the place is populated with characters from pretty much every popular fairy tale ever, including Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Sleeping Beauty. The main characters are related to or adapted from these fairy tales (namely, Princess and the Pea, The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk). Even characters from well-known nursery rhymes are included, such as Peter Piper (and his peck of pickled peppers) and Little Boy Blue.
  • An animated adaptation of Marlo Thomas' That Girl by Rankin/Bass had Ann Marie attempt to pen a children's book, but often succumbing to daydreams about herself wandering through various established fairy tales. Ultimately, she pens the work around her imaginary adventures, just in time to make deadline.
  • Wolves, Witches and Giants casts the wolf, the witch, and the giant as recurring villains in various fairy tale stories, and similar heroic characters will often use the same character as well (eg. The Brave Little Tailor and Sleeping Beauty share a princess.)

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