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Derailed Fairy Tale

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A child has demanded a bedtime story. The storyteller starts into a traditional fairy tales, 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. An in-universe form of Adaptation Decay.


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    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. It then dovetails into 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.
  • When the cast of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid do The Little Match Girl as a play for an old folks' home for Christmas, they decide they want to make it more interesting, so it ends up featuring two Magical Girlsnote , one of whom's the old man from the Japanese Kasajizo folktalenote , who set a mansion on fire, then team up with Kuranosuke Oishi to fight Kouzuke-no-suke Kiranote , who turns out to be a dragonnote .
  • 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 a 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.
  • When Class 3-E are asked to do a play for the drama festival in Assassination Classroom, they decide to do their own version of Momotaro, which starts with the old couple discovering a child is developing in a peach... only for the old man to boast of using the peach to get fame and fortune for himself, which finalizes the wife's decision to divorce him on top of his cruelty and adultery. It ends with the old woman raising the peach on her own while the old man trains a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant as his attack animals.
  • Momotaro again in Dr. STONE, though after 3700 years from the twenty-first century. Senku learns from Chrome that the version the village priestess Ruri told them involved the hero taming a lion, a gorilla, a bear, and a crocodile. It turns out the story was intentionally changed by the village founders (who were surviving astronauts that landed near Japan) as a means of warning future generations of dangerous animals that they might encounter.

    Audio Play 
  • Tsukiuta has audio two audio plays featuring the idol units doing improv fairy tales. Six Gravity's "Little Red Riding Hood" (Kakeru) ends up as an axe murderer. Procellarum's "Shunderella" is, well... what you'd expect when you get the Demon King to play Cinderella.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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 and Hobbes:
    • Calvin 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.
    • 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 ever find Hamster Huey's head?

    Fan Work 
  • Dia's Fairy Tale starts with Dia Kurosawa telling her younger sister Ruby bedtime stories to help her fall asleep, but it soon turns into stories with the rest of Aquors wanting to be a part of the story as well.
    • The first chapter has Little Red Riding Hood with Ruby as little red, but soon replaces the wolf with a fallen angel (by Yoshiko) and the hunter with a miner (by Hanamura). And when Ruby and Yoshiko get upset that the fallen angel gets killed by the miner, Dia changes the ending so that the two and the miner become the best of friends.
    • The second has Dia made to tell the story of Goldilock and the Three Bears with Mari as Goldilock and Chika, You, and Kanan as the three bears. Dia portrays Goldilock as a criminal that broke into the bears' home and ate their mikans (Chika), wore and even broke one of their uniforms (You), and even sleep in their bed, ending with Goldilock locked away for her crimes.

    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 derail it before she even gets 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 (2008) 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 in real life.
  • 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?
    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.
  • David Wiesner's picture book The Three Pigs starts out as a straightforward telling of "The Three Little Pigs" until the wolf literally blows the first pig out of the book, enabling the pig to save the other two pigs and the three of them to enter other stories.

    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: NY 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 mother. 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'd also found a piece of a spaceship.
  • In Pataclaun, Machín's nephew Nandito comes to visit and gets sick overeating, so Wendy tells him the "Wendycienta" tale while he gets better, but needs to leave and has the rest of the family continue it, causing it to get derailed:
    • Tony tries to Shoot the Shaggy Dog by immediately killing Wendycienta, but it just causes Nandito to throw a tantrum and Gonzalete has to take over.
      Tony: Want to know what happened to Wendycienta? Wendycienta went out into the street, and a van passed by and ripped her apart. Now she's the top story on the 10 pm news.
      Nandito: ...MOOOOOM!
    • Queca attempts to have the prince end with the Fairy Godmother (played by herself), which upsets Nandito again and Wendy has to take over while Queca rants about the godmother deserving the prince more.
    • Finally, after Wendy had given her character her fairy tale ending, Machín appears and Re Writes it so the prince instead finds a sexy woman and hooks with her. When Nandito asks him about Wendycienta, Machín says she also got to live in the castle, which Nandito happily accepts. (Cut to Wendycienta scrubbing the castle floors.)

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: The Edinburgh Fringe special has a two-way version, with a father telling his daughter a version of The Grasshopper and the Ants where the grasshopper instead parlays his music making skills into getting food from the ants. His daughter objects, insisting (much to his distress) that he tell the version where the grasshopper dies. He does so, then spins that into an ending where the ants freeze to death anyway with nothing to show for their work. The daughter objects to that too, and it gets into an argument about how the father is really just trying to avoid the fact he's not a successful comedian.
    Daughter: Put the fiddle down, daddy, for all our sakes! Winter's on its way!

    Web Animation 
  • 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.
  • Darths & Droids uses this to explain some of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace's weirder aspects: when Ben's little sister Sally joins the game, the GM creates Jar-Jar Binks for her to play as. She quickly invents his bizarre appearance and speech pattern, as well as the idea that Naboo has an elected teenage queen, underwater cities and that the Trade Federation inexplicably began their invasion on the opposite side of the planet from the capital.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Garfield and Friends:
    • In one of the U.S. Acres/Orson's Farm segments, 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, straw house, which was next to a honey tree. And he was terrorized by the Big Bad Bunny, saved by the Masked Offender'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 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 to 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.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Haw-Hawed Couple", Homer reads Lisa a chapter from Angelica Button (a Harry Potter parody) every night. When he gets to the part where the Dumbledore Expy pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save Angelica from the Snape Expy, however, he instead creates a happier but rather nonsensical ending where not-Dumbledore beats not-Snape up with his mustache and Angelica saves herself "somehow." After he leaves Lisa reads the real ending, shrugs and decides that she likes Homer's better.
    • In "Tales from the Public Domain", when the Joan of Arc story ends with her being burnt at the stake, Marge grabs the book, invents an ending where she has a Rescue Romance with Lancelot and then eats the page.