The Papa Bear went to the second little piglet who lived in... a house of cards?!
"The stories in this book are almost Fairy Tales. But not quite. The stories in this book are Fairly Stupid Tales. I mean, what else would you call a story like 'Goldilocks and the Three Elephants'?"
Once Upon a Time
, there was a beautiful Damsel in Distress
, a handsome hero on an epic quest
, his magical sidekick
, and a spell they needed to break
before the stroke of midnight
But wait! The damsel's not so distressed after all
! The hero's a buffoon
! The heroine falls for the homely comic relief sidekick
instead of the Knight in Shining Armor
! The Wicked Stepmother
is an angel with a bratty stepdaughter
! The sweet little girl in the red cloak
is a Heroic Comedic Sociopath
! And just about everyone's ridiculously Genre Savvy
! And that's before you get to the ending, which may be pointedly different from the familiar version
What you have here is an example of a Fractured Fairy Tale, a story with all the basic elements
of a classic Fairy Tale
, but all of them subverted or spoofed, and with modern-day sensibilities and morals. May also be a parody
of fairy tales, or a Perspective Flip
(for instance, retelling it from the villain's point of view).
Virtually every Fractured Fairy Tale features (at least) one of perhaps a dozen fairy tales that are considered common knowledge
in the culture. This is because they don't work without the audience recognizing the original and so being able to appreciate the divergences. When the Fractured Fairy Tale sticks to, and warps, one specific tale, it is a form of the Twice Told Tale
. Massive Multi Player Crossover
is also possible, though it, too, sticks mostly to the best known tales — perhaps even more so, since the characters have shorter periods to make their character known.
These are a lot more common than the naive observer would be led to believe. In fact, just about any myth or folktale presented to anyone over the age of 12 is bound to contain subversions of some sort, to the point that a completely non-ironic fairy tale itself feels like an irony.
It's somewhat common for these to overlap with Feminist Fantasy
, satirizing the original story's gender politics. For instance, a popular twist is to have the brave princess
rescue a knight in distress
, or object to the idea of the suitor being awarded her hand in marriage
May contain elements of Grimmification
. Nursery Rhyme
elements and characters frequently also appear. Aesop's Fables
are somewhat rarer but not unknown.
The Trope Namer
comes from a Rocky and Bullwinkle
segment of the same title and overall premise.
Compare and contrast Ironic Nursery Tune
and Derailed Fairy Tale
(when the listener or the teller takes the story Off the Rails
). Subtrope of External Retcon
open/close all folders
- This award-winning ad for The Guardian. The Three Little Pigs are arrested for wolf murder (they boiled him alive, for mercy's sake!) and prosecuted. Who is the real victim here? The pigs whose houses were burnt down? The wolf? Did the pigs go too far? The pigs actually committed an insurance fraud because they were unable to pay their mortgage payments, and they try to frame the wolf for the "accidents". People came to blame banks and big corporate institutions for the whole mess.
- This ad for Symbicort takes a different spin on the Three Little Pigs. Apparently, the poor wolf had COPD. With the right medicine, he can spend time with his happy wolf family—and blow the piggies' house down!
Anime and Manga
- In Hayate the Combat Butler! Season 2, there is a part in an episode where Alice in Wonderland Hinagiku version is shown. You can guess it wasn't very close to the original.
- One of the Full Metal Panic! short stories is a complete parody of Cinderella. Cinderella (played by Kaname) learns the moral that "depend on your own hard work and initiative rather than relying on fairy godmothers", sells the glass shoe for ludicrous profit to a wannabe princess, and goes into the wandering merchant business with the fairy (played by Sousuke).
- In Fruits Basket, when the main characters realize how woefully miscast the characters are in a "Cinderella" play, they rewrite it. An Elegant Gothic Lolita Cinderella is impervious to her Wicked Stepmother's demands, but she loves her sweet and innocent stepsister, who suffers at her mother's hands because she wishes to marry her off. While the Fairy Godparent succeeds in getting them to the ball (after Cinderella asked him to burn the palace down), and the not very charming prince does find her (though Cinderella can tell he's more interested in the stepsister), in the end Cinderella and her sister open a yakiniku shop. The play is renamed "Sorta Cinderella".
- YuYu Hakusho's Dark Tournament arc had a combat team named Fractured Fairy Tales. All of their members were based off of Japanese folk legends, and Reverse Urashima claims that they are fighting to get better endings for themselves, but he himself thinks that the stories are educational, and is thus willing to lose to Kurama. It turns out that he's not only lying about throwing the match, but the fairy tale origins of the team members may also be false.
- Ludwig Kakumei, written by Kaori Yuki, deconstructs, spoofs and Grimmificates all at the same time. appropriately enough all the tales portrayed are based on the Brothers Grimm Version, in which the 2 main characters get their names from.
- MÄR takes the "character as a Fractured Fairy Tale" idea to its logical extreme. Nearly every minor to important character is a parody of at least one fairy tale. Ginta always takes the time to make note of this, because he's obsessed with the stories. Justified by the fact that Mär Heaven is the world of Märchen, or fairy tales. Just on Ginta's team, we have:
- Princess Snow. From her name, we have a play on Snow White (she even fights a character who has a magic sword ask her "who is the fairest one of all"). Her introduction is more Snow White stuff combined with a bit of Sleeping Beauty (Damsel in Distress is in a death-like state, awakened with a kiss... sort of), and she runs away from her wicked stepmother, like Cinderella.
- Jack, who is a young farmer who lives in semi-poverty with his mother. His dream is to one day grow a beanstalk so tall he can see the world from it.
- Alviss, who is followed about by a jealous fairy named Bell, and who goes on to defeat a Chess Piece named Mr. Hook.
- Dorothy, who is a huge The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reference: she is a "good witch" named Dorothy, and her guardians include a scarecrow, a metal knight, a lion, and a dog named Toto.
- And the team itself was formed by a fortune teller prophesying that Snow would have to gather "the Seven Dwarves" to defend Mär Heaven. The Chess Pieces have even more, considering how many of them there are.
- A lot of Princess Tutu revolves around playing around with fairytale tropes (and Swan Lake in particular) and subverting them, while also staying within the Magical Girl genre. The knight's armor isn't exactly shiny, the Prince ends up marrying the Dark Magical Girl, and several fairytales are mentioned and commented on. For example...
- The main character and the prince end up trapped in a woman's restaurant while she keeps bringing them more and more food, and Ahiru thinks it's Hansel and Gretel and they're being fattened up for her to eat. In reality, the woman is just very lonely and trying to make them stay.
- The opening narration at one point questions whether Sleeping Beauty really wanted to wake up, or if she wanted to keep dreaming.
- In an episode titled "Cinderella", the main character loses the pendant that allows her to become the Magical Girl, and it's found by one of the male characters. He spends the rest of the episode trying to find her... because he considers Princess Tutu an enemy and wants to attack her.
- Used in Monster, where elements of fairy tales are brought together to inspire Mind Rape and nightmares.
- In Ugly Duckling's Love Revolution, Hitomi and Souta are trying to pick out a fairy tale play to perform for the kindergarten class, and Souta latches onto "Hansel and Gretel". He even writes his own script, which involves Hansel and Gretel being found by The Sweets Fairy, who is actually a princess under the witch's spell. A prince falls in love with her and by eating sweets together, she returns to her true form.
- Fairy Tail managed to slip one into their play. It begins with a knight setting out to rescue the princess from an evil villain, but aside from said knight's stage fright, he doesn't even find that villain. The man he does find summons an evil dragon... that he then teams up with the knight to defeat for no apparent reason, and they both happily flee when the princess somehow unties herself and claims she'll hold the dragon off. It Makes Even Less Sense In Context. Later on, Natsu compares Lucy's battle victories to "The Tortoise and the Hare", with Lucy as the hare; the hare only lost the first race, learned his lesson, and beat the tortoise the next hundred times.
- Episode 3 of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai re-imagines a version of the "Hare of Inaba" story, where Sasami is the "rabbit" and her brother is the shark.
- All the characters, and many of the episodes, in Okami-San are fairy tale analogues, which in most cases are warped nearly beyond recognition. Particularly funny is the version of Cinderella where the "prince" (a popular tennis player) falls for a mysterious girl who accidentally kicked him in the face. So he has all the girls in school line up to kick him until he recognizes who clobbered him from her shoes. Turns out he's really into it.
- Fables does this. For starters, Prince Charming is actually a scoundrel who's been married and divorced three times, has had numerous affairs, and is a total womanizer. The Big Bad Wolf is still frightening but proves to be a sweet and loving husband to Snow White and father to their "cubs". Cinderella is a secret agent, Snow White splits Goldilocks' head open with an axe, the three little pigs start a rebellion and Goldilocks is a gun-toting revolutionary who's sleeping with Baby Bear.
- Nightmares And Fairy Tales loves this. Virtually every story is some sort of fairy tale variation, with twists. For example, Little Red Riding Hood has a love of wolves and later turns out to be a werewolf herself. Cinderella's prince is a cruel man who she has no desire to marry and the stepmother summons demons. Snow White becomes a zombie after her stepmother rips her heart out and uses it to be beautiful. And Belle is a lesbian who is beaten and locked in the basement (and presumably raped) on her religious father's orders before he finally hands her over to the Beast, who just so happens to be her lesbian-lover under a curse.
- In Issue #54 of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, Raven finds herself skipping from fairy tale to fairy tale—in order, "Snow White", "The Little Mermaid", "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Cinderella". She proceeds to screw with the usual order of events and deliver feminine empowerment speeches... while stripping the girls naked and Gothing them up. Because to be a confident woman you have to show your tits and/or dress like a stripper. On the plus side, she inadvertently turns Red into B.B. Hood.
- Nodwick runs through a whole series of these, all of which go Off the Rails very quickly. Partially, this is because Yeagar, Artax and Nodwick are forced into the roles of the tales' main characters and begin breaking character as they start building a resistance to the mind-affecting spell affecting them.
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "Three Little Piglets" has Pooh try to narrate the story of the Three Little Piglets (i.e. pigs), only for the story to keep on going Off the Rails due to Pooh's tendency to constantly think of honey and Tigger's tendency to butt in and make changes to the story like turning the Big Bad Wolf into the Big Bad Bunny and conjuring up the house of cards that can be seen in the above page image. And then somehow Rabbit ends up doused in honey at the end of it.
- Despite most folks thinking of it as a return to form for Disney, The Princess and the Frog has some elements of this. For one thing, the kiss between the princess and the frog prince, instead of turning the frog back into a prince, turns the princess into a frog too because she isn't an actual princess.
- Enchanted spoofs and satirizes many common elements of Disney fairy tale films, notably subverting Love at First Sight and True Love's Kiss. The prince is stuck-up and rather dimwitted, Spontaneous Choreography occurs on the streets of New York, and when Giselle enlists "forest creatures" to clean Robert's apartment, they're rats, pigeons, and cockroaches. (However, it does play many other fairy tale tropes quite straight, pushing it closer to an Indecisive Deconstruction.)
- Frozen: It has many of the classic Disney elements; the Plucky Idealist Princess who believes in Love at First Sight, the Powerful Sorceress who curses the land and/or protagonists, a Timed Mission to save the princess (with True Love's Kiss no less) and a Prince Charming waiting in the wings. Except, Elsa didn't curse the land on purpose; it's just a case of Power Incontinence taken Up to Eleven. Anna's naive belief in Love at First Sight proves to be disastrous, as Hans turns out to be the Big Bad, and was manipulating her naivete to get the throne. Finally, the curse is not broken by True Love's Kiss, but instead a Heroic Sacrifice, on Anna's part. We never find out if the kiss (from Kristoff) would have worked. Incidentally, Elsa is played by Wicked's lead actress, Idina Menzel, and her performance of Let It Go, originally her Villain Song, caused the entire movie to be rewritten from what was originally a straight Disneyfied fairy tale.
- Maleficent deconstructed much of the traditional fairy tale tropes. The Fairy Godmothers, being fairies, have no experience raising a human baby and nearly get her killed. Repeatedly. Love at First Sight and True Love's Kiss fail to break Aurora's curse, because you can't have true love with someone you've known for a day; what really breaks it is Maleficent's maternal love, also showing that love doesn't have to be romantic to be true. Charging a forest full of powerful, magical and (to the humans) evil creatures gets you curb-stomped because good does not always triumph.
- Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin as the title speaks for itself.
- The Princess Bride is mostly a fairy tale played straight, with a few notable subversions thrown in. Most fairy tales end with a beautiful girl getting married to a handsome prince. Buttercup's meeting and engagement to the handsome prince is one where the prince threatens to kill her if she doesn't agree to marry him, and he's the villain. The real hero is technically an infamous pirate who kidnaps her. Lastly, a climactic swordfight between the hero and villain is notably averted. They still manage to fit the climactic swordfight in (and it was properly researched, too), but it's done by two members of the supporting cast.
- Shrek, which makes the ogre the main character, the damsel anything but in distress, and the Prince Charming the villain, even coming with a subversion of True Love's Kiss. The beginning says it all, really, starting with a generic fairytale storybook that almost immediately gets used as toilet paper.
- The second film ups the ante by making the Fairy Godmother a villain as well, who is bound and determined to undo Shrek and Fiona's happy ending because "ogres don't live happily ever after."
- Hoodwinked. Mixed with Troperiffic Affectionate Parody to some other genres, it's basically Little Red Riding Hood crossed over with Rashomon elements and made into a cop drama.
- Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, the stepsisters aren't wicked in the slightest. Ruth is slow-witted and Iris is quite practical and is the main character. The Cinderella character, Clara, is initially bratty but the three become good friends. While the stepmother is prone to greed (as is Clara's father), she is not evil so much as concerned about the well-being of her daughters and certain that Clara will ruin their chances to financially secure themselves. There are no magic elements.
- Gregory Maguire's Wicked, the musical adaptation, and the book's sequels tackle the Land of Oz, presenting the young Wicked Witch of the West as a Well-Intentioned Extremist rebelling against the tyrannical Wizard.
- Simon Hawke's Reluctant Sorcerer trilogy is so directly inspired and informed by the original Fractured Fairy Tales that you can hear Edward Everett Horton playing the role of the Omniscient Narrator.
- The Discworld novel Witches Abroad has the witches as a disrupting influence in the Theory of Narrative Causality, trying to stop a Happily Ever After that is nothing of the kind. The scene where we see what it takes to make a "Big Bad Wolf" and what Granny Weatherwax does about it is a total Tear Jerker.
- The short novel The Glass-shoe Slip-up is set after the events of "Cinderella", where we find out why the not-so-wicked stepmother kept her hidden away: Cinderella is a complete social disgrace with bad table manners, a love of raunchy jokes, a fancy for certain... odd practices in the royal bedroom, and many other disastrous details that make Prince Charming very determined to track down the Fairy Godmother so she can correct her mistake.
- Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes turns up on banned book lists for the dark turns it steers classic fairy tales into, like Cinderella discovering her Prince Charming is a sociopath who chops off women's heads at the slightest provocation, or Goldilocks getting eaten by the Three Bears for breaking into their house. The teen-oriented Rhyme Stew has several more fractured retellings, though they tend to steer the stories in bawdier rather than bloodier directions.
- Neil Gaiman is very fond of this trope:
- Stardust: Both straight-up and fractured; the hero is successful on his quest, but instead of winning the girl for whom he went questing, by the time his quest is over he's fallen for someone else.
- The short story Snow Glass Apples is a retelling of Snow White with the stepmother as the main heroine, who realizes her stepdaughter is not quite human.
- "The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds" mashes up several nursery rhymes into a Private Eye Monologue as Hardboiled Detective Jack Horner tries to solve the murder of Humpty Dumpty.
- The book Caperucita Roja y Otras Historias Perversas (Red Riding Hood and other Vicious Stories) of Triunfo Arciniegas, is all about this.
- This is the basic concept of Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, in which the ambient magic in the land tries to make all fairy tales play out straight (no matter how the characters might feel about it), and the only way to get out of it is to shift the situation so that it fits another tale better.
- "The Cinders Case" by Patricia C. Wrede (in the second of Bruce Coville's Book of Magic short story collections) sets up fairy godmothers and bad fairies and the like as part of the same organization, and is told from the point of view of a fairy godmother explaining why she wants a transfer to the curses department; namely, her last case, which was the straw that broke the unicorn's back. It sounds like a pretty standard Cinderella story; girl wants to go to ball, stepmother said no, fairy godmother is thus determined to see that she does, in fact, go. The problems start from square one: Cindy is tall, gangly, big-footed and not the prettiest thing ever. Her stepsister is the gorgeous waif the godmother has come to expect her clients to be, and is helpful, sympathetic, and wants nothing more than for Cindy to be happy. Then it turns out "Cinders" was the client's idea in the first place, and it's a stage name. She's not interested in the prince, she wants to play the fiddle as a musician at the ball. The godmother makes the best of things (she manages to save Cindy from getting roped into a "standard 10-percent contract" with a talent agent who looks like an encroaching mushroom and, when he's too drunk to lie, shamelessly admits that it means she forks over all but 10 percent of whatever she earns), but she's pretty despondent by the time the night's out (not least because the not-remotely-ugly stepsister does end up in the prince's arms) and after a case like that, her superiors will probably understand if she wants to transfer.
- The children's book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales presents a series of derailed stories that often get fractured by the characters themselves. Examples include "Little Red Running Shorts" and "Cinderumplestiltskin."
- The Politically Correct Bedtime Stories series by James Finn Garner satirically presents fairy tales as mangled by Political Correctness Gone Mad. In the first story, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood accuses the "woodchopper-person" of being sexist and speciesist for "assuming that womyn and wolves can’t solve their own problems without a man's help!"
- Howl's Moving Castle, for the most part. While not necessarily a "fairy tale" overall, it does subvert, lampshade, and otherwise mess with many a fairy-tale trope.
- The short stories in Andrzej Sapkowski's earlier The Witcher books are all or almost all this pushed up to eleven. The Beauty and the Beast? The Beast likes his transformation, whereas the Beauty is so much more monstrous than he is. Don't even ask about what he did to Snow White.
- In Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper, based on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, Beauty tricks her half sister into being pricked by the magical spindle. Once escaping the sleeping curse, Beauty travels through different eras in history and unwittingly causes other fairy tales to happen. The book's version of Snow White is told almost "straight"— except for the character motivation. The prince is clearly insane, while Snow White is essentially brain-dead: "Tell me, why did you accept the old woman's apple after we particularly told you not to take any food from strangers?" "Because it looked good and I was hungry."
- In The Storyteller by Saki, a man on a train is being annoyed by some little children whose aunt can't keep them quiet by telling them boring normal stories, so he tells them one with a Family-Unfriendly Space Whale Aesop (don't be too well-behaved, or you'll be awarded medals that will clink against each other at an inopportune time, leading you to be eaten by a hungry wolf).
- The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is full of these. The first book, for example, starts with a princess running away from home in order to work for a dragon.
- The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, where the wolves are the ones constructing houses, and the pig the one knocking them down. It's a case of Sequel Escalation as the first house is made of bricks, the second of concrete, and the third of barbed wire, steel plates, and heavy metal padlocks.
- Tanith Lee's Red as Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer is a collection of fairy tale retellings, most of them much darker, one with a science fiction twist. What Snow White's Seven Dwarfs turn out to be really creeped me out when I read it.
- In Jim C. Hines' The Stepsister Scheme Cinderella's stepsisters kidnap her Prince and she, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (who are nothing like one would expect) have to go save him.
- In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Phaethon explains the "true" myth of Phaethon: obviously the claim that he burned the earth while riding the chariot of the sun, so that Jupiter had to strike him down with a thunderbolt, was false, because the earth had not been burned up, and so the likely story was that Jupiter had struck him down to ensure that mortals would not succeed at it, and the moral is that beings who think they are gods should not be allowed near thunderbolts.
- In The Golden Transcedence, Pandora explains her own name: it's not because of her spate of questions or her being a plague, but because what Pandora really received was foresight, which allowed women to foresee all the plagues that would harm their children, but also to avert them, which gave them hope.
- In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, the characters Red and Penny are a painting of Achilles and Pentheselia, but they do not match the myth and are indeed a Battle Couple. Which means that he didn't kill her and (for in-universe Squick) didn't rape her corpse.
- The Ice Dragon, a short story by George RR Martin, is an odd example in that it isn't a retelling of an existing fairy tale, nor do the events of it much resemble a fairy tale. Nevertheless it has the feel of one, in a way that is quite difficult to explain.
- Since it's by the author of Ella Enchanted, Fairest also falls under this. The Snow White character is actually ugly (or at least Hollywood Homely), and her singing, while popular at first, eventually forces her to flee the kingdom because the townspeople think it makes her an inhuman seductress. She does wind up living with dwarves (or rather, gnomes), and it turns out she's probably descended from gnomes herself. The Wicked Queen is still a bit of a Yandere, but she and Snow White are friends first, and it turns out she was mostly being manipulated by the magic mirror all along. And the story is actually set in a country where people sing most of the time.
- Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short fantasy stories for adults based on reinterpreting and subverting common fairytale themes - often based on the moral and adult subtext of the original itself, in order to pick apart their gender stereotypes and social ideas. Enter a Little Red Riding Hood who ends up "knowing" the wolf after he's killed her grandmother; a Snow White who is created as a product of the father's desires, dies at the prick of a rose's thorn and is subsequently deflowered by him; a Beauty who finds that she is far more comfortable becoming a Beast rather than for her Beast to become a human... fascinating, if slightly disturbing, reading. For the intrigued, it can be found online here: though the experience is undoubtedly better when it is read in physical form.
- Melisande: or, Long and Short Division by E Nesbit is a highly inventive and somewhat tongue-in-cheek retelling of "Rapunzel", or is it "Sleeping Beauty"? Just to start, the king is Genre Savvy and knows better than to throw a christening party that will inevitably leave one fairy out and piss her off, but it doesn't stop the princess from being cursed to be bald. Fortunately, the king has a spare wish from his fairy godmother, but the princess's careless wish for golden hair that will grow faster the more it's cut leads to predictable problems, and it takes several attempts and the logic of a wise prince to make her hair stop growing without making her grow into a giant (It Makes Sense in Context; read the online tale for the full story!).
- Twice Upon a Time re-tells "Rumpelstiltskin" from the point-of view of the girl's father, who gets into tax-trouble, and all the "Prince Charming gets the girl" stories from the point of view of the prince. He eventually turns into the Beast, jaded and nearly insane, and ends up with Beauty because her pets don't sing (She's only got the horse, silent as the grave, by the way), she doesn't do fancy fixtures (Cinderella, who drained the treasury), have a blood/ sharp stuff fetish (Sleeping Beauty, whose "thing" got way out of hand), or like groupsex (Snow White, whom he executed for cheating-with all seven dwarves). Hansel and Gretel have a different ending, they get adopted by Rumpelstiltskin and his wife.
- Several of James Thurber's Fables for Our Time start out as normal fairy tales or Aesop's Fables, but then veer into more cynical or absurdist territory. His version of Little Red Riding Hood, for instance, ends when the little girl, recognizing that "even in a nightcap a wolf does not look like your grandmother any more than the Metro Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge," produces a handgun and shoots the wolf dead. "Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be."
- The Rumpelstiltskin Problem is a collection of short stories that aim to correct the Fridge Logic and Plot Holes of the original fairy tale (why did the king believe so readily that a poor miller's daughter can make gold out of straw at will? Why did Rumpelstiltskin agree to spin straw into gold for a ridiculously small payment for the first two days? Wouldn't marriage to a king who threatened to kill you if you didn't make enough gold for him be a tad problematic? etc). The twists vary with each retelling: one of them has Rumpelstiltskin as the true hero who the miller's daughter falls in love with and eventually runs away from her unhappy marriage with the king to be with him, for example.
- In Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a character tells a story where the princess, as an animal, ends up killed and stewed because she was unloving.
- The anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me is a book filled with stories based on screwed-up fairy tales. It includes short stories by Neil Gaiman and Joyce Carol Oates, and a brilliant retelling of "Donkeyskin" by Aimee Bender.
- The novel Snow White by Daniel Barthelme is an all but unrecognizable Setting Update of the fairy tale written in a stream-of-consciousness sort of style designed to irritate the reader.
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a retelling of Cinderella in the Crapsaccharine World of the distant future. In it, Linh Cinder is a cyborg and Prince Kai (Prince Charming) is the prince of the Eastern Commonwealth (aka east Asia). In this retelling, Prince Kai is actually charming as opposed to being Prince Charmless like in many others.
- Deceived is a loose retelling of "Cinderella" that not only turns the "Cinderella" male but depicts the prince as a lazy, spoiled womanizer who the Cinderella most definitely does not fall in Love at First Sight with and attends the Masquerade Ball solely to seduce him and humiliate him afterward. Things still end quite happily though, after a good dose of Becoming the Mask and Slap-Slap-Kiss.
- In Jessica Day George's Princess of Glass, Cinderella is a Fallen Princess and Spoiled Brat desperate to regain her former wealth and status, her fairy godmother an evil witch who cons her into making a Deal with the Devil, and the true heroine one of the princesses from the "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" tale who's grown to hate dancing after her traumatic experience from that tale but finds herself forced to do so to save the man she loves.
- E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess. Perhaps most obvious in that the old woman who asks Annie for food neither blesses nor curses her; she gets cursed herself for not appreciating what Annie hands over.
- In Tom Holt's Snow White and the Seven Samurai, a cyberspace fairy-tale land is literally fractured by three mischievous kids who mess with the Wicked Queen's magic mirror, resulting in such chaos as the Three Little Pigs building a heavily-armed concrete bunker, which turns out to be useless when the Big Bad Wolf turns into a frog.
- The Paper Bag Princess reverses the "hero rescues girl" story. After a dragon steals Prince Ronald, Princess Elizabeth (who is forced to wear a paper bag because the dragon destroyed all her clothes) sets out to save him. She does by appealing to the dragon's vanity, challenging it to fly around the world twice, which tires it out and lets her sneak past it. However, Ronald turns out to be an Ungrateful Bastard who tells her to return when she looks more like a princess. As such, she decides she's better off without him.
- Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen deconstructs the fairy tale by having the prince kiss an unattractive girl first as practice before waking up the beautiful (but Alpha Bitch-y) princess, only for him to fall in love with the plain girl based on her kind personality.
- Instead of the standard Knight rescues Damsel from Dragon, in Dragon In Distress, the Knight has to rescue the Dragon from the Damsel!
Live Action TV
- Monty Python: Fairy Tale sketch, featured in one of their German TV specials and on an album. Ya de buckety, rum ting fadoo... Their version of "Little Red Riding Hood"... The girl looks nasty and eats the food for her Grandma on her way. The vicious bad wolf looks as the most adorable thing ever. And so on and so forth.
- A famous episode of The Monkees, "Fairy Tale", plays with this trope with many a humorous twist, including Michael Nesmith in drag, playing a hilariously obnoxious princess.
- The miniseries The 10th Kingdom places a couple of contemporary New Yorkers into a world where all the fairy tales took place centuries before, and plays fast and loose with fairy tale tropes. An interesting variation in that the New Yorkers are familiar with the modern versions, but it's the darker Grimm versions that actually happened in this universe. This leads to natives having to explain the differences to them and the audience.
- The final episode of Tales from the Crypt retold "The Three Little Pigs" as a bloody tale where the wolf messily eats the first two pigs, then frames the third for the murder, resulting in a trial in a Kangaroo Court.
- The fairy tales in Once Upon a Time are quite fractured. For example, Snow White was a forest bandit who met Prince Charming by robbing his carriage, Jiminy Cricket was a man turned into a cricket to serve as Geppetto's guide, Cinderella made a Deal with the Devil to go to her ball, and Little Red Riding Hood is unknowingly a werewolf that terrorizes her village on full moons. The chief point of fracture seems to be Rumpelstiltskin, who in this continuity is a major Bad Samaritan and who has so far appeared in nearly every fairy tale portrayed to change either its backstory or its ending.
- Pretty much the premise of Grimm. Though this show utilises some of the lesser known Grimms Fairy Tales, in contrast to Once Upon A Time which goes for the more famous ones.
- The Charmed episode "Happily Ever After" uses this trope. Fairy tales are actually re-tellings of ancient battles between Good and Evil - and a Wicked Witch seeks to use them to destroy the Charmed Ones. Paige eats Snow White's poisoned apple, Phoebe is turned into a pumpkin by putting on Cinderella's glass slippers and Piper is nearly eaten by a shape-shifting wolf.
- The first part of Cole Porter's song "Two Little Babes in the Wood" is Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale played straight. The second part, "for the tired businessman," has the orphaned girls go from Rags to Riches and move to New York.
- The music video of Kanon Wakeshima's "Lolitawork Libretto ~Storytelling by solita~" features the J-Pop singer running around as in a storybook populated by living cut-outs from old illustration and basically messing around with various fairytales, such as cutting down Rapunzel's tower with a pair of giant scissors, turning the wolf chasing after pigs into a domesticated cat, shrinking Cinderella's glass slipper and waking up Sleeping Beauty/Snow White with an alarm clock. Also features other random shenanigans often associated with fairy tales like playing cards, giant fauna, wild animals willing to listen to a cello performance, gothic lolita clothing (which is a standard for Kanon, anyway) and ticking clocks.
- Paramore's song Brick by Boring Brick is about a naive little girl who lives in a fairy tale-and the narrator's trying to pull her out into the real world.
- There's a song by Green Jelly called "Three Little Pigs", a twisted, modern version of the story about the pigs taking safety in shelters while trying to protect themselves from The Big Bad Wolf... and then they call Rambo near the end of the song. Also, the music video for the song is a claymation video, with a scene of the band with puppets for a few seconds.
- Speaking of "Three Little Pigs", Insane Clown Posse completely fracture the story in the rap song "Piggie Pie", about hunting down "piggies" (crooked/evil/racist cops whose houses are made of wood, bricks, and gold, rather than straw, sticks and bricks) in order to make a "piggie pie".
- The Oingo Boingo song "Cinderella Undercover":
The cartoon animals on Old McDonald's farm
Are nodding off in hotel rooms with needles in their arms
The seven dwarves, ha!, there's only four alive today
Cinderella's working for the CIA
- The story of Hansel and Gretel is fractured in the song "Abandoned on a Moonlit Night", where the twins abandoned in the woods—Hansel and Gretel—are able to find their way to the witch's house and defeat the witch and her henchmen immediately....the witch and henchmen who were actually the parents who abandoned them in the first place. The Evillious Chronicles franchise as a whole makes a habit of drawing on several classic fairy-tales and their archetypes with its songs.
- Played with in Calvin and Hobbes — Hobbes is a predatory animal and Calvin often sees things from a tiger's point of view, so inverting the ending makes it happier than they would have found the original version.
- Often in Frank And Ernest, like the Hood family feud: Little Red Riding can't believe that Robin robbed Granma and gave it to the poor.
- In Peanuts, Lucy retells "Snow White": she was having a horrible time sleeping until she got this apple from a witch to help, and then, just as she was settling down to a good night's sleep, this prince came and woke her up.
- Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical Into the Woods combines several well-known fairy tales, initially playing them straight but then gradually deconstructing them.
- The musical Once Upon a Mattress is a cheeky retelling of "The Princess and the Pea" with a mother-henpecked prince, a song based around the princess (originally Carol Burnett!) wryly commenting on "Happily, Happily Happily Ever After", and much more.
- Jacques Offenbach's Orphée aux enfers is a warped retelling of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus' marriage is on the rocks. Eurydice has a lover, Aristaeus, who turns out to be the god of the underworld who sees to it that she dies of a snakebite so she can be with him forever. Orpheus is then spurred on to make his Journey To The Underworld by an Anthropomorphic Personification not of Love but of Public Opinion.
- Kermit's Sesame Street News Flashes tended to be these. For example:
- True Love's Kiss turns Sleeping Beauty into a frog who goes off with Kermit.
- True Love's Kiss makes Prince Charming fall asleep.
- Prince Charming breaks Cinderella's glass slipper.
- The glass slipper fits Kermit.
- Rapunzel "lets down her hair" by letting it fall off her head.
- Little Miss Muffet sits on a water bed, eats granola and, unlike Kermit, isn't scared of spiders.
- The king's horses (and cow) and men do put Humpty Dumpty together again, then Kermit slaps him on the back and he falls back off the wall.
- Jim Henson's Frog Prince contains traces of this. Hey, Cinderella! very cleanly fits the bill, between the ridiculously over-the-top hamminess of the stepmother, the dippiness of the Prince, the running gag of how bad the fairy godmother is at magic, and Kermit's Genre Savvy nature being ignored. Oh, and there's the ball itself, which features a large number of Muppet monsters (and Santa Claus) and basically serves as a precursor to the ballroom dancing sketches from The Muppet Show.
- The educational special The Muppets on Puppets includes a skit where Rowlf attempts to narrate a fairy tale for the other Muppets to act out, but the story keeps getting changed on him. Cinderella's stepmother sends her to take a basket of goodies to her granny, and in the middle of the wood she meets Hansel, who is taking Gretel the cow to market...
- While Ōkami plays it a little more straight than the examples above, and is based on Japanese folk tales rather than European ones, it does feature quite a few fractured fairytale elements.
- In American Mc Gees Grimm, you play an ugly little dwarf who goes around messing up "cutesy" fairy tales, making them dark and violent again.
- The game Fairytale Fights has four Fairytale protagonists (Jack, Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Emperor of The Emperor's New Clothes) attempt to regain their former glory via killing everything in their way in as violent a way as possible.
- Flash RPG Dragon Fable has elements of this trope, including some major Deconstructions. It's all for the Rule of Funny of course.
- Although technically Alice's Adventures in Wonderland isn't a fairytale, American McGee's Alice shows Wonderland as twisted and violent after Alice's parents die in a fire and she's sent to a mental institution.
- It's hard to tell in King's Quest if the writers are going to play their fairy tale tropes straight or veer into one of these.
- Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ. Little Red fighting a zombie apocalypse is only a fraction of how fractured it is.
- Also dealing with Little Red Riding Hood is The Path, an indie game dealing with six different girls each named after shades of red. Each one of them deals with their individual "Wolf" in the most horrifying of ways.
- Emily Short has written a number of Interactive Fiction games that fit this trope:
- Alabaster bills itself as a "fractured fairy tale" of Snow White. Not only does Alabaster follow in Neil Gaiman's footsteps of heavily implying Snow White to be a vampire or something else not quite human, but it has a Perspective Flip of the huntsman being the PC and having more than one dark secret of his own.
- Bronze is a fractured retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" that makes the Beast more morally ambiguous, fills his castle with numerous secrets that the PC of Beauty/Belle has to uncover herself, and even gives her the option to kill the Beast if she wishes to do so
- Glass retells "Cinderella". The story gives Cinderella a secret that causes the Prince to have her executed in one ending, and even the happy ending is quite atypical in its treatment of the Prince and Cinderella's relationship.
- The Sims Medieval has the quest "Legend of the Talking Frog," a fractured Frog Prince that, depending on your approach, involves either kissing the frog or finding out the frog was an evil prince in his human life and serving his legs to the King.
- The 2014 yearly familiars from Kingdom of Loathing are themed around fractured fairy tales. The Grim Brother drops "spleen items" that relate a random dark fairy tale, and the Grimstone Golem drops masks that let you enter a Perspective Flipped fairy tale (like one where you help the Hare beat the Tortoise, who tried to cheat by bringing a motorcycle to a foot-race; or where Rumpelstiltskin runs an orphanage and tries to get kids out of lousy homes by bribing their parents).
- Magical Makeover is a quirky, light-hearted Choose Your Own Adventure game that starts with the protagonist getting ready to go to a grand ball...except that since she's no Cinderella, she has to make herself beautiful through the application of dubiously legal/safe magical cosmetics. All of which turn out to have unexpected side effects like turning into a plant-person, becoming a butterfly vampire who wants to eradicate the entire human race, or discovering a hives-inducing allergy to fairy dust. Also, instead of wanting to go to the ball to find her Prince Charming, she has the goal of freeing a mystical bird from the ball host's chambers to get a wish granted by it — but depending on your choices, she can instead spend her evening helping an extradimensional alien being fulfill a dragon's prophecy, being unceremoniously kidnapped by a giant owl who claims to be a princess under a curse, or becoming the unwitting victim of a season-changing ritual.
- Lubrican's Twisted Fairy Tale series, although it's mostly twisted (in a humourous way) into Porn with Plot.
- Dirty Doll's Creations's ''Red Riding Hood'' is this trope on the Little Red Riding Hood story.
- Ever After High has this in spades. Granted, it's the children of the original characters doing the fracturing, in high school, no less. Well, except for the original Red Riding Hood and Big Bad Wolf.
- My Damn Channel's "Fairy Tale Friday" features often NSFW retellings of fairy tales, with questionable messages, depraved sex, and frequently unsympathetic protagonists. Specifically:
- Thumbelina is a pretentious vegan hippie who bakes weird gluten-free food for no apparent reason, and was nicknamed "Cockchafer" in college.
- Alice is a gullible spoiled brat who is too insecure to say no (making her popular with the boys at school).
- Red Ridinghood is extremely obsessive compulsive, and is afraid of going into the woods because she thinks bugs will crawl up her legs and into her vagina. In the end, she has the wolf savagely neutered by the Village Idiot, turning up the music on her iPod to drown out the wolf's agonized screams.
- The Beast is a graphic designer who hires Belle as an assistant. The transformation occurs after they hook up in a public bathroom. He fires her, and she sues him for sexual harassment. Moral of the story: Don't dip your pen in the company ink.
- A very squicky retelling of Rapunzel where the witch posts videos of Rapunzel on a fetish website for men who like really long hair. The Prince is a Stalker with a Crush who has sex with her hair, and leaves her after the witch cuts it off. The story ends with Rapunzel going into the adult film industry.
- Cinderella is a lesbian who doesn't really care about the ball, or the Prince, and ends up marrying his sister. The Prince ends up on a talk show for Princes who get dumped by their lesbian girlfriends, and the two stepsisters are still douche-bags.
- The Tourist and the Frog, a little gem by Diana Nock — The Frog Prince with extra... local flavour.
- No Rest for the Wicked. Stars the Sensitive Princess (also the Girl Who Spoke Frogs), Puss in Boots, Red Riding Hood, the Girl with No Hands, and the Boy who Set Out To Learn Fear, all trying to Resurrect the Moon. They run into Prince Charmless, the Wicked Witch (and rescue Hansel and Gretel from her), Bearskin...
- Girl Genius And thus the evil princess was defeated, and the wizard saved! In 2008 bonus story, a Mad Science mockery of Cinderella - complete with Pumpkin Blimp and twist ending.
- Copper Road We have to save the dragon from the princess!
- The The Order of the Stick book Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tails features Jack and the Beanstalk as told by Elan and Little Red Riding Hood as told by Halley.
- Truck Bearing Kibble has its own view of "Hansel and Gretel". Presumably, they'll have to tracepath the witch now. Hey, at least it wasn't an IRC-loving hungry grizzly bear.
- VG Cats occasionally did such retelling. In this case the net result is roughly the same, however.
- In Dresden Codak, one director goes for really warped retellings -- of works he's never read.
- Rumplestilskin is a modern take on… well, Rumpelstiltskin. It does the usual subversions, like Xenafying the female lead, giving the whole country a Dark and Troubled Past and having the fully-armoured knights ride around on motorcycles, but the greatest twist is turning Rumplestilkin into an Anti-Villain by being Childhood Friends with queen-to-be and hiding his identity with a Cool Mask.
- The trope is named for the "Fractured Fairy Tales" segments in Rocky and Bullwinkle, which would take classic fairy tales and hilariously parody them.
- Looney Tunes shorts did this a lot, to the point that a whole disc in one of the DVD box sets focuses on them. "Little Red Riding Hood", "The Three Little Pigs", "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Goldilocks And The Three Bears" were particularly popular targets, with different versions to fit various characters and their shticks (Bugs Bunny, Sylvester and Tweety, etc.).
- These shorts would either focus on one story ("Little Red Walking Hood" and "Cinderella Meets Fella"), while others contained many short stories ("A Gander at Mother Goose" and "Foney Fables").
- One of Chuck Jones' last WB cartoons, "I Was a Teenage Thumb", a blithely absurdist telling of "Tom Thumb", was light-years apart from one of his first, the maudlin, Disney-esque "Tom Thumb in Trouble".
- The Jim Henson Company's Unstable Fables direct-to-DVD films Three Pigs and a Baby, in which the Wolf is raised by the pigs in an Oblivious Adoption; Tortoise vs Hare: The Rematch of the Century, in which the original characters' kids get dragged into their rivalry; and The Goldilocks and the 3 Bears Show, a fake Reality Show in which pop star Goldilocks has to spend a month living with an ordinary family of bears.