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Literature / The Three Little Pigs

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Wolf: Little pig, little pig, let me come in!
Pig: Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!
Wolf: Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!

"The Three Little Pigs" is a Talking Animals Fairy Tale/Fable that was written in the 1840s. The young pigs of the story's title move out of their mother's house to seek their fortune, but are hindered by the fact that there is The Big Bad Wolf out there with intentions of eating them. The first little pig builds his house out of straw, but the wolf blows it down and eats him. The second little pig builds his house out of sticks and meets the same fate. The third pig, however, being the brains of the outfit, builds his house out of bricks, which the wolf cannot blow down. The wolf makes several attempts to trick the pig into coming out of the house, but fails each time. Finally, he tries going down the pig's chimney, but is cooked in a pot that the pig puts there, and ends up eaten by the third pig himself, though several adaptations have the first two pigs escaping safely from the wolf and hiding inside the third pig's house.

Among the many retellings that have been made of the story, perhaps the best known is Walt Disney's 1933 cartoon version. Activision also created a game based on the story called Oink!

Various versions of "The Three Little Pigs" and related tales can be read here.

"The Three Little Pigs" provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Species Change: Earliest version of the story was originally about three pixies and a fox, instead of pigs and a wolf that are more well known from later versions.
  • An Aesop: The little pig who works hard and uses intelligence to choose the strongest building material is the one who beats the wolf.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: In the Joseph Jacobs version, the third little pig eats the wolf. Pigs are technically omnivores, but they are a prey item to wolves.
  • The Big Bad Wolf: One of the Trope Makers, along with "Little Red Riding Hood". The main antagonist is an evil wolf who tears down the nice pigs' houses to eat them alive.
  • Bowdlerize: In most modern versions of the story, nobody dies: when the wolf blows down one pig's house, they simply run off to hide at the next one's place, and the wolf runs away with a burnt tail after going down the brick house's chimney.
  • Brainy Pig: Averted for the pigs who make their houses out of straw and sticks, and some adaptations will have them be straight-up stupid, inverting the trope. The pig who builds the brick house is definitely the most sensible, so he's at least a downplayed example, but some adaptations play it straight and have him be smart and strategic.
  • Character Catchphrase: The iconic exchange between the wolf and the pigs:
    Wolf: Little pig, little pig, let me come in!
    Pig: Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!
    Wolf: Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!
  • Chimney Entry: The Wolf in the end tries to enter the brick house like this, unintentionally falling into a cauldron full of boiling water that the pig had left at the bottom for him.
  • Cooked to Death: The third pig finally defeats the wolf by placing a pot of boiling water in the fireplace while the wolf is making a chimney entrance, thus boiling the wolf to death (or, in most Bowdlerized versions, causing him to just have his tail burnt). There are several versions in which the pig then spontaneously eats the wolf.
  • Eaten Alive: In some versions of the story, the first two pigs get devoured by the wolf, though most modern retellings tend to have them successfully run away and hide at the next pig's house.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: In versions where the first two pigs die, don't expect the third to care.
  • Go Fetch: In the original Joseph Jacobs version, the third pig is accidentally caught climbing down an apple tree by the wolf and manages to escape by making the latter chase after an apple.
  • Just Desserts: The third pig in Joseph Jacobs's version does not stop at boiling the wolf to death, but also eats him "for supper".
  • Karmic Death: The wolf gets himself killed in his attempts to eat the pigs, and in Joseph Jacobs' tale it is him that gets eaten in the end.
  • Pain-Powered Leap: In tamer versions, upon landing in the pot in the fireplace, the Wolf bounces back up the chimney in pain rather than being cooked.
  • Perspective Flip: A popular way to make this story into a Fractured Fairy Tale:
  • Predators Are Mean: There's a reason why he's called the Big Bad Wolf. This wolf wants nothing more than to kill and eat three pigs, terrorizing them and destroying their homes in the process.
  • Rule of Three: Presumably the reason there are three little pigs.
  • Savage Wolf: The wolf is depicted as a villain out to eat the protagonists.
  • Sole Survivor: The third pig is the only pig that lives to see another day in the original fable. Later adaptations avert this by sparing the lives of the first two pigs.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Most versions omit the deaths of the first two pigs (generally by having them run to the next pig's house) and the wolf at the end of the story.
  • Super-Breath: The wolf easily "huffs and puffs" and blows down the house of straw and the house of sticks of the first two pigs. The house of bricks of the third pig, on the other hand, is another thing...


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Alternative Title(s): Three Little Pigs


Hip Hop Wolf

Jools TV, a YouTube channel for children's shows, presents a hip hop version of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.

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Main / TheBigBadWolf

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