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I guess you think you know this story.
You don't. The real one's much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
Just to keep the children happy.
— "Cinderella", Roald Dahl, from Revolting Rhymes

The act of allegedly de-bowdlerizing a story, but going to the other extreme instead: Making it Grimmdark.

It is a common belief that most traditional Fairy Tales were designed to inform kids via metaphor about a potentially harsh world in a time where children worked and traveled and were essentially treated more like miniature adults than "kids". But originally, fairy tales were told to many different audiences, adults included, and were generally simple folktales to entertain peasants rather than teach lessons. Only after they were first recorded by early folklorists did the stories obtain morals and, eventually, kiddie-friendly endings that removed the graphic violence and changed cruel twist endings to karmic ones.

It becomes popular to return a story to its non-sanitized roots or to pervert the popular Disneyfied version. Sometimes this includes throwing in more modern Nightmare Fuel. If done poorly, this can spoil the appeal of the adapted story without adding any real value. A common example of Grimmification is having Little Red Riding Hood survive the well known version... but be scarred by the events — varying from just becoming jaded and cynical, to becoming completely psychotic.

A subtrope of Darker and Edgier. Commonly also includes Hotter and Sexier and Bloodier and Gorier. See also Fractured Fairy Tale and Dystopian Oz. Not to be confused with Grimm's Law. The opposite is Disneyfication.

Technically, this trope isn't Darker and Rape-ier, but looking at the examples below you'd be forgiven for thinking this.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • Kano Yasuhiro has a one-shot horror manga called Snow in the Dark. Think Snow White, but with a well-intentioned (and naturally, horribly misunderstood) Queen and a Soul Jar Snow White, who gets possessed by her evil (and dead) mother. The day is saved by a slaying/suicide. The author manages to work in a mildly happy ending anyway.
  • CLAMP's Miyuki-chan in Wonderland is an erotic, very lesbian rendition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The series focuses on Miyuki, a Japanese schoolgirl who finds herself pulled into several nonsensical worlds populated by scantily-dressed females who want to have their way with her.
  • Kaori Yuki's Ludwig Revolution is about a necrophiliac, perverted prince and keeps all the original unpleasant aspects of the original fairy tales, then adds a few more, twisting the stories further and further. In the first chapter, "Snow White" is incestuous and loves manipulating people. And then she dies. Lampshaded during the "Cinderella" arc, when the author mentions the stepsisters mutilating themselves. In their retelling, the shoe is too big, and the sisters say that it's not the problem.
  • Kaori Yuki also made a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast of Paradise Lost, with interesting twists. Beast is a cynical, arrogant jerk because of the centuries living under the curse while Belle believes she is ugly because of the psychological abuse inflicted by her father. Oh, and the "fairy" that turned the prince into a beast kills young women to steal their beauty.
  • PandoraHearts is a manga based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (even though the book isn't technically a fairytale) that can be very dark, violent and sometimes creepy.
  • There are whole manga anthologies dedicated to Guro versions of Grimm's fairy tales, titled Cruel Grimm Tales (Zankoku Grimm Douwa) or variations thereof. Also note that this are usually aimed at a Josei audience.
  • Many episodes of Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics, the Nippon Animation series about Grimm's fairy tales, use this while still keeping the show appropriate for children.
    • In "Hansel and Gretel", both the white bird and the witch turn into demons (and the witch's house is presented as much scarier than in the story).
    • "The Iron Stove" is also darker than its source by including a conflict between the princess and the witch over the prince.
    • In "The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes", the mystery men who are dancing with the princesses turn out to be monsters, and attack the princesses when the soldier reveals their secret.
  • The 2018 Japanese Stop Motion short My Little Goat by Tomoki Misato is a darker and realistic take on The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids. This version shows the realistic aftermath of five out of the six surviving goat children being rescued from the wolf's stomach, since the eldest of the seven didn't survive as he was the first to be eaten. The short takes place after the events of the original story and shows the remaining children now traumatized, with five of them being badly disfigured. Like the original story, it ends on a lighter note with the mother goat taking extra measures to prevent another wolf or pedophilic parent from barging into their home again; the Mother Goat adopts the child protagonist after she shows up in the nick of time to taser Natsuki's father, preventing him from raping Natsuki again, and like in the original story she cuts open Natsuki's father's stomach, puts heavy rocks in it, and drops his body in the lake.

    Comic Books 
  • Alan Moore has done this several times.
    • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is an example of this done with Public Domain Characters. While he reintroduces some parts bowdlerised in the past, such as Captain Nemo being Indian (Jules Verne originally meant for Nemo to be Polish, but Verne's publisher made him change it to avoid offending the Russians. Obviously the publisher didn't care about offending the British), he also adds a lot of sex and violence completely absent from the originals. However, he was deconstructing these works rather than claiming to be recreating the original. Excessive sex and violence were also common in the Victorian penny dreadfuls it's openly inspired by.
    • Lost Girls re-tells the stories of Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as allegories for the extremely sexual (sometimes abusive) experiences of their main characters. Captain Hook, for instance, is a pedophile who nearly rapes Tinkerbell to death, and Peter grows up to be a prostitute.
  • Fables:
    • Some of the versions of the characters in Fables are far darker, others are spot-on with the original story, and still others are changed for the better. For example, the Big Bad Wolf's reformation and redemption... completely absent in many (if not most) of the old stories. Then again, the BBW didn't slaughter hundreds of thousands of people over millennia in the original fairy tales, nor was he an elemental semi-deity.
    • Beauty's Beast becomes less beastly when Beauty is happy with him; to become the strongest, most effective possible warrior, he has to get Beauty severely annoyed.
    • One instance deconstructs this. Riding Hood is perfectly and totally innocent even though it's implied that what the Adversary has his sorcerers do to her was basically rape... or identity theft, at best.
    • And then there's Snow White, whose Seven Dwarfs were depraved as hell and are implied to have done horrible things to her during her time with them, before she got fed up and killed them all. There's a reason she does not take kindly to any mention of them.
  • Zenescope's comic series Grimm Fairy Tales, along with Hotter and Sexier.
  • Neil Gaiman told one of the grimmest versions of Little Red Riding Hood in The Sandman (1989). However, at the end the storyteller points out that the only thing that matters is how people think of the story. Gaiman based his version on a history book called "The Great Cat Massacre" that has a chapter on folk tales of pre-revolutionary France. See the Literature section for more examples by Gaiman.
  • Penthouse Comix included a strip about an adult version of Little Red Riding Hood who was a werewolf hunter, who was known to have sex with some of the werewolves before killing them.
  • Nightmares & Fairy Tales. Even the happy endings result in some sort of grisly or frightening encounter. For example, Snow White has the Huntsman go through with murdering the young girl so the Evil Queen can replace her ugly heart with Snow’s beautiful one. Snow wakes up as a zombie and replaces her heart with an apple. From there, she begins stalking her stepmother, leaving bloody apples as a calling card, ultimately killing the Huntsman and ripping her beautiful heart right out of the Queen’s chest.
  • Marian Churchland's Beast was initially inspired by "Beauty and the Beast" but rather than being darker than the original tale, Beast is a more ambiguous and low-key story about a female sculptor who takes a commission from a shadowy, mysterious being who lives in a slightly decrepit old house in the suburbs.
  • The Queen of Fables, an enemy of the Justice League of America and Superman, controls Grimmified versions of fairy tale scenarios and characters (including those from the fairy tales of Krypton, Atlantis and Mars).
  • EC Comics' "Grim Fairy Tales" stood famous fairy tales on their head, often by giving them a horror twist.
  • An issue of Dylan Dog has a woman hallucinating a fairy-tale world full of sadness, violence and death. Another is centered around a book entitled "Death Fairy Tales".

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one strip, Calvin's dad gives Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie this treatment after being forced to read it to Calvin one time too many. We don't get to hear either version, but Calvin and Hobbes are too scared to sleep afterwards.
      Calvin: Wow. The story was different that time!
      Hobbes: Do you think the townsfolk will ever find Hamster Huey's head?
    • Even more of an example is a version of the tale of "Goldilocks and the Three Tigers" which Calvin claims that Hobbes wrote himself. Calvin's dad refuses to continue reading and bids him a quick "good night" at the point where the tigers divided Goldilocks into big, medium, and small pieces and dipped them in the porridge. "He didn't even look at our illustrations," Calvin complains.

    Fan Works 
  • Lost Tales of Fantasia gives the Darker and Edgier treatment to everything produced by Disney, including, of course, the fairy tale adaptations. A special example in that it grimmifies the adaptation stories, and not the original ones.
  • The Death Note fanfic Poison Apple featured an Alternate Continuity thematically based around "Snow White", including hearts cut out and of course, the titular poisoned apples.
  • Downfall is headed in this direction post- chapter 18.
    • And especially in wake of the events of chapter 20.
  • A very common tool in MLP:FIM fanfics and fanart. Well, the source is very soft, so it does require some darkening to be worth a non-childish fic, but some people take this up to eleven.
    • The Bridge sticks to the Equestrian canon for the most part, but when a gumiho is introduced it's almost directly lifted from Korean Nine-Tailed Fox mythology. The monster is a sadistic cannibalistic murderer instead of the often toned-down, playful trickster seducer more common in modern fiction.
  • So Rot Vie Blut is a Dark Fic of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs inspired by the various grimmifications of the fairy-tale. Grimhilde has tried to be nice to her stepdaughter Snow White, but Snow White has always been a cold Enfant Terrible towards her. As she grows, Snow White becomes a murderous Fille Fatale who wants Grimhilde dead so she can take the throne sooner than expected.
  • Somnium is a Disney fanfic inspired by the grimmified book series The Princess Series, as well as the Twisted Princess series of fanart. All the fluff has been taken out of Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Enchanted, and Mulan. The world is dangerous and brutal for Mulan, Aurora, and Giselle as they go on their aimless journey together.
  • There exists a Hellsing fic called Snow White, which re-imagines the classic fairy tale with Alucard and Integra playing the parts of Snow White and the Prince. Respectively. Also of note is Alexander Anderson as the Huntsman and the Major as the personality inside the magic mirror. It is exactly as insane, gory, and bizarrely poetic as you would expect.

    Films — Animated 
  • Surprisingly, Beauty and the Beast. The original tale has no violence and no real antagonist (all the conflict is emotional), while the film has a villain and quite a few action sequences. In the original story, Belle is sent from her father's house to the Beast knowingly and in safety in a metaphor for an Arranged Marriage; she doesn't have to fight her way through the woods to rescue her father. There's no Gaston character trying to fight the Beast, and Belle doesn't even run from the castle and get attacked by wolves. There are only invisible servants, not humans turned into objects that will become inanimate if the curse doesn't break. And the Beast was cursed by a genuinely wicked fairy, not one trying to teach him a lesson, and is always kind towards Belle instead of having to re-learn his social skills.
  • A Bug's Life is this to "The Grasshopper and the Ants". Here, the ants don't want to give up their food, not out of spite, but because the grasshopper is big enough to just take it anyway.
  • Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade features a grimmified re-telling (or possibly the original version) of Little Red Riding Hood, the events of whom run parallel with the actual happenings of the movie. It is the same version that Gaiman used in The Sandman (1989), point of fact.
  • In Raphael Pereira's independent short Rapunzel, a group of cavaliers climbs the tower to save the eponymous girl from the "monster" that keeps her captive. Too late, they find out that Rapunzel is the monster.
  • In the original "Rapunzel" Fairy Tale, the prince is blinded, and the heroine's Swiss-Army Tears restore his eyesight. In Disney's adaptation Tangled, of all places, the villain, in an odd moment of Grimmification in an otherwise Disneyfied story, stabs and kills him, and Rapunzel holds her dead lover in her arms before her tears bring him back to life. What's more is that the story really plays up the Freudian elements between Rapunzel and her stepmother - showing Gothel as a textbook emotional abuser. Additionally the stepmother gets a rather dark Death by Adaptation when she just disappeared from the original.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Freeway is at its core a modern remake of Little Red Riding Hood, with Little Red cast as a good-natured, but tactless and illiterate juvenile delinquent (It's Little Red Riding Hood! Get it?), the Big Bad Wolf as a sexual predator/serial killer/famous child psychologist, and the woodsman as the one cop who's willing to believe the foul-mouthed little guttersnipe over the famous shrink.
  • You can find sexual subtext in "Little Red Riding Hood" if you look, and not very hard. In The Company of Wolves, you don't have to look at all. The book The Company of Wolves was based on was a collection of short stories (The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter) that essentially did this with a dozen or so different fairy tales.
  • The Brothers Grimm does this in spades. The face stealing gingerbread "girl" is particularly squicky.
  • The most prominent use of this is for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: American McGee's video game adaptation and the upcoming Marilyn Manson movie Phantasmagoria. However, the original book was a satire of children's stories, and the version most people are familiar with never underwent much Bowdlerization. For some reason, people seem eager to equate the bizarre with the gruesome.
  • Tim Burton has proven that one can make rather a good career out of this trope alone with Sleepy Hollow (1999) ("The Legend of Sleepy Hollow") and Alice in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland).
  • Snow White & the Huntsman overlaps this with turning the story into a fantasy epic. The Evil Queen becomes a warlord who conquers various kingdoms and her presence literally sucks the life out of the area. She's also shown to drain the youth out of innocent girls to maintain her own beauty. Additionally Snow White is an Action Survivor that must lead an army to defeat the queen, while the Prince Charming is a vigilante. Despite this, the film is on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Ironically the sequel is Lighter and Softer.
  • In the same vein, Red Riding Hood is a Darker and Edgier (and sexier) retelling of the titular fable. Now the story is more of a whodunnit as the big bad wolf becomes a werewolf that terrorises the village. In the first scene it murders Red's sister.
  • Snow White: A Tale of Terror amps up the darkness and also turns the Queen into a Tragic Villain. She actually starts off willing to love her stepdaughter. But years of the girl turning away and rebuffing her, coinciding with a miscarriage pushes her over the edge. Other things include the mirror choking the girl's nanny to death, the villain's brother being forced to stab himself and the entire castle staff turning into zombies.
  • The 1978 Czech film Panna a Netvor (adaptation of Beauty and the Beast). The imagery is considerably darker than in the more well-known films, the castle a crumbling and desolate place instead of a wondrous one, and the Beast a genuinely inhuman-looking bird-monster hybrid who kills a frightened bystander on-screen and keeps on Hearing Voices in his head that try to persuade him to either kill and eat the Beauty or kill himself.
  • Oyayubihime is an In Name Only adaptation of Thumbelina, where a girl shrinks down the boy she's been stalking and kidnaps him, trying to torture him into loving her. It was part of a film series called Kowai Douma, or Scary Fairy Tales, which gave several fairy talesnote  the modern horror treatment.
  • Given an in-universe explanation in The School for Good and Evil (2022): Rafal added darker elements to fairy tales over time, rewarding Good for cruel and harsh behavior to weaken their moral standing.
    Rafal: Old ladies shoved into ovens, mermaids forced to cut out their tongues, women dancing to death in red hot shoes...doesn't sound very Good, does it?

  • Gregory Maguire does this in all of his books based on fairy tales, but most of all in Mirror, Mirror (2003). Turning the Wicked Stepmother into Lucrezia Borgia, with all of the historical significance of the Borgia family, would do that. However, Lucrezia never poisoned anyone, and was quite a nice lady.
  • Discworld:
    • Parodied in several books with the works of the Sisters Grim, whose tales seem to consist entirely of the bits Disney left out, such as "How the Wicked Queen Danced in Red Hot Shoes".
    • In Hogfather, Susan does this with the fairy tales she reads to her young charges, but not by changing their events. She keeps the events exactly the same, but defines their morals as, "If you're a hero, you can get away with anything because no one asks any inconvenient questions."
  • Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny anthologies of short stories from the Witcher Saga mostly follow the formula of the main character coming upon a somewhat altered and twisted version of a classical fairy tale, discovering the dark secret behind it all that makes it even more twisted, and seeing it to the usually-grisly end. For instance, "The Beauty And The Beast"? The Beauty is a particularly nasty kind of a vampire that is trying to make the Beast lose what little humanity he still has. What's perhaps even more messed up is that she is doing it out of love. As for the Beast himself, he was cursed by a priestess of a Religion of Evil that he raped.
  • Francesca Lia Block's short story collection The Rose and the Beast retells several fairy tales and, as usual for this author, stuffs them with erotica.
  • Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow, Glass, Apples" tells the Snow-White story from the point of view of the Evil Queen— who is actually a skilled, but very young sorceress dealing with a homicidal, vampiric stepdaughter. (In general, it's disturbingly common for Grimmified versions of "Snow White" to involve vampire motifs, what with her being an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, the mirror, etc).
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter is an anthology of Grimmified fairy tales. It starts with a version of "Bluebeard" told as French gothic horror; on the other hand, "Puss in Boots" becomes a Restoration-style sex farce.
  • Tanith Lee liked this sort of story. Her works contain both aversions and straight uses of the trope.
    • In Red as Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer, Lee gives her take on the "vampiric Snow White and heroic sorceress-Queen" variant. This version leans more heavily on Catholic mystic-magic, and the story ends with Snow-White being redeemed and reborn by a Prince who is strongly hinted to be Jesus Christ.
    • The trope is averted, though, in the anthology's version of "Beauty and the Beast": the Beast is an alien, genetics plays a role, and it has a straightforward happy ending.
    • Another anthology by Lee, Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears, contains a version of "Beauty and the Beast" that leans on the horror, with a serial killer Beast who is perfectly handsome... on the outside.
  • Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy retold that particular fairy tale as a work of erotica. That Rice, whose Vampire books are squicky enough as is, chose to publish them under a pseudonym should tell the reader all one needs to know about them.
    • Specifically the Prince who wakes Beauty up is a member of the foremost ruling family amongst a federation of kingdoms, including Beauty's. As demanded by tradition, the Prince and his mother take in lesser royalty and teach them humility and noblesse oblige by turning them into S&M sex slaves for commoners to rape at will (in fact when we are first introduced to Beauty, the prince is busy buggering a prince older than him). Unsurprisingly the Prince is not the guy that Beauty finally ends up with. At the time of the story Anne Rice was fascinated by homosexual men and so there are many instances of minor princes getting raped as they are universally handsome and well-built while the commoners are extras off of Deliverance (Beauty oddly comes out of this, the least preyed upon).
  • The psychotic Red Riding Hood is used in The Sisters Grimm series. She does get better.
  • Robin McKinley's Deerskin is partial Grimmification - the original fairy tale does involve the king's incestuous urges towards his daughter, but in Deerskin he actually acts on them. Throw in the fact that what seems to be the demon/ghost of the princess's dead mother blames her for it, and the fact that the princess miscarries her father's rape-baby and you've got something definitely not meant for children.
  • The Stepsister Scheme revolves around three fairy tale princesses, and at one point the most feared assassin this side of the mountains is mentioned, The Lady of the Red Hood. She shows up in the third book.
  • Waking Rose is a modern day version of Sleeping Beauty in which the protagonist, Briar Rose, is attacked and put in a coma by a group of corrupt doctors who kill people in long comas and sell their organs on the black market.
  • Beastly is a modern day adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" - in which the "Beauty" (a poor girl named Lindy Owens) lives alone with her sleazy drug-user father who ultimately basically sells her into slavery to the "Beast" (a teenage boy under a spell) after trying to break into the Beast's house to steal stuff. And later, the Beast has to rescue Lindy from another drug dealer, who implies that her father sold her to him as well, most likely for prostitution.
  • The Snow White, Blood Red series of anthologies have quite a few stories that invoke this trope, although there are also plenty that don't. For example, Esther Friesner wrote a version of "Snow White" where the "evil stepmother" was actually quite a religious woman who sent Snow away to keep the king from sexually abusing her.
  • Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes is all over this trope as may be expected from the page quote. A handful of examples:
    • Little Red Riding Hood as a femme fatale with a pistol always ready in her knickers who loves to shoot animals so she can wear lovely fur coats.
    • It points out that Goldilocks is a thief (not really subtext that though).
    • The prince in Cinderella is revealed as a psychopath and she marries a jam-maker instead.
    • Downplayed in Snow White, where the "dwarves" are actually jockeys, and at the end of the story they use the mirror to bet on races to become filthy rich, the aesop being that gambling is a-ok if you already know the outcome.
  • The poem "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young" by Wilfred Owen gives Genesis 22:6-13 a grisly updating: Abraham refuses the angel's order to spare his son and instead sacrifices him "and half the seed of Europe" in trench warfare.
  • Following the Snow White, Blood Red series of anthologies, a series of novels were published as well.
  • In James Thurber's The Little Girl & the Wolf has Red Riding Hood taking an automatic out of her basket and shooting the wolf, because it is not as easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novels are re-tellings of fairy tales in Victoarian/Edwardian/WWI-era Britain.
  • As mentioned in the page description, ironically largely averted by The Brothers Grimm themselves. While their Kinder- und Hausmärchen contains levels of Family-Unfriendly Violence that will probably be rather shocking to modern readers only familiar with Disneyfied versions of the stories, they actually Bowdlerized quite a bit of the sex and violence out of the original tales they collected, to make the book suitable for family reading.
  • The Black Company casually does this at one point, mentioning character who was prototype of all Sleeping Beauty stories in this world. As it turns out, she never woke up. Worse, certain nobleman married and raped her to have a heir. She never even knew she had given birth. And two of children grew up to become ones of the most feared and despised people in history, Lady and Soulcatcher.
  • Mostly averted in Time Lord Fairy Tales, which recasts various European fairy and folktales in the Whoniverse, because Doctor Who itself has plenty of terror and violence and most of the stories swap one grisly demise for a villain with its Whoniverse equivalent: Where the baddies in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" get soaked in boiling oil to finish them off, "Andiba and the Four Slitheen" destroys its villains with vinegar, which they are fatally allergic to. But "Cinderella and the Magic Box" indulges in this when it's revealed that the Lord of the castle and his court are vampires, and the Eleventh Doctor has sent her to the royal ball as a sort of Trojan horse, equipping her with the means to destroy them. All he tells her is to use the sonic screwdriver at midnight....
  • Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm and its companion pieces are an intriguing example of this, in that the blood and violence of the stories, while emphasized in the narration, is still relatively the same amount as that of the original stories they adapt. Additionally, they blend several fairy tales into cohesive narratives, usually following the characters of one story as they interact with the other tales.
  • ML Lanzillotta's The Girl In The Tower is a darker, rapier version of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel.
  • The Chronicles of Alice is a darker retelling of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. With gore and murder as the main Characters travel out of the old city and out into the world.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Syfy is fond of movies and series like Alice (2009) and Tin Man which Grimmify traditional stories.
    • Red: Werewolf Hunter, where the titular character is the descendant of the original, and her family works as cops by day, werewolf hunters by night.
    • In their Face/Off, expect this trope whenever the artists are asked to do anything fairy-tale related, as in the finale of the first season. Which involved Little Red Riding Hood with a gun arm, among other things. (Although Laura's Swan Lake makeups were actually an aversion.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had an episode where Hansel and Gretel were evil creatures who fed off of paranoia and hatred. They would appear, fake their own deaths, and then use this as an excuse to rile a town up to a witch hunt. Both Buffy and Willow were nearly burned at the stake, by their own mothers.
  • Grimm is about people investigating a Monster of the Week - which usually takes the form of something from a Grimm Fairy Tale. And is suitably dark. In contrast to Once Upon a Time below, it goes for the more obscure tales.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The Evil Queen had an abusive mother who murdered her lover and forced her to marry Snow's father. What's more is that it's eventually revealed she orchestrated the Queen's death. Likewise when Snow flees into the woods, she becomes a forest bandit and meets Prince Charming while robbing his carriage.
    • Cinderella's Fairy Godmother gets blown up within two minutes and Ella's wish to go to the ball comes from a Deal with the Devil - where the price turns out to be her first born child.
    • Red Riding Hood's village is terrorised by a werewolf every month at the full moon. She thinks it might be her love interest. But it's really her and she's descended from a family of werewolves. Then she eats the boyfriend.
    • Peter Pan is the Big Bad of Season 3. His shadow kidnaps children and drags them to Neverland - which is a Teenage Wasteland. It also turns out he was an adult man who abandoned his son and de-aged himself to gain great magical power.
  • In Supernatural the season 3 episode "Bedtime Stories" deliberately invokes this trope, with a comatose girl imagining Grimmified versions of a couple fairy tales to be wrought upon poor, innocent bystanders, prompting Sam to give a speech about how the "original" Grimms' tales were much darker and edgier.
  • Charmed downplays it in its fairy-tale-themed episode. But the Cinderella analogue gets turned into a pumpkin and nearly squished - and her prince analogue is under the control of a Wicked Witch. The Red Riding Hood analogue manages to save herself from the wolf's attack, by blowing him up from the inside with her powers. The Snow White analogue actually dies and is only saved when the Wicked Witch is defeated.

  • The music video for Rammstein's "Sonne" has a darker take on "Snow White": She's a gold dust addict who abuses the dwarfs (played by the six band members).
  • Vocaloid's "Alice of Human Sacrifice" is devoted to this trope. Whether the result is terrifying or Black Comedy shall be left as an exercise to the listener.
  • Sound Horizon's 7th Story CD Märchen (German for "fairytale") is about fairytales. They're quite dark, being based on the Grimm versions instead of the Disney versions, and then there's also a hint about there being a "real" side and a "fantasy/ lie" side to them and the fantastic events being metaphors for more mundane, but equally (or, in some cases, more) dark events (Idoko/Goldmary falling into a well, dying and her younger sister spreading the plague, for example).
    • Although even without that extrapolation, some of them are still considerably darker and more twisted than the Grimm versions in the plain text, probably one of the biggest cases being "Kuroki Okami no Yado" (based on The Man in the Gallows), which in Grimm was a very short thing about a woman who tries to feed some guests by stealing a liver from a criminal who'd been hanged. That night, the criminal knocks on the door and an exchange takes place that's basically him asking for his liver back. In Kuroki Okami no Yado, it's implied that the old lady's actually been doing that for a while to feed the guests at her inn, and the story really focuses on a girl she took in and subsequently murdered and hung for her liver. Said girl had already been through a war that had devastated her village and had been sold to the old lady. And, by the way, the song makes clear that they aren't sure if the old lady's actually a guy.
  • ASP's "Im Märchenland'' is playing with Fairy Tale and Alice in Wonderland motives while telling about a Wonderland where everything is trying to catch (and probably kill) the protagonist.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Rusalkas from Slavic mythology are a rare example of this happening to a folklore creature: they were originally water nymphs that helped to nurture crop fields but now they are vengeful spirits of women that either violently drowned or were killed near to a body of water who now seek to seduce young men to make them suffer a similar watery end.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost is all about this. The intro to one splatbook involves several classic fairy tales with a World of Darkness twist — the Big Bad Wolf is a werewolf, Snow White becomes a vampire (of course), all told to impress a True Fae...
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition deliberately redesigned its fey to be darker and more threatening than their traditional D&D presentation. Dryads went from hot elf-maids who rely on their Charm Person spells to bewitch unwitting fools into becoming their guardians into dangerous shapeshifting fey who are capable of assuming a tree-like form and ripping defilers of the woodlands apart with their bare hands. Nymphs went from super-sexy elf-maids to being either dangerously self-centered and amoral hedonists (spring nymphs), coldly aloof chessmasters (summer nymphs), hoarders of forbidden knowledge (autumn nymphs), proto-dryads (wood nymphs), or Social Darwinist Egomaniac Hunters (winter nymphs). Mention is also made of cannibalistic pixie clans.
    • Ravenloft: The Shadow Fey were invented to create fey based more on the dark fairytale aesthetic, whereas traditional Dungeons & Dragons fey tended to be cute, sexy, comic relief, or any combination thereof.
  • Grimm, by Fantasy Flight Games. It's a bit complex, but essentially, the Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm were already sanitized from the true events, and due to the influence of a magical book and a mysterious woman called Melusine, they have been given a sort of eternal life in an alternate reality. Since its formation, every fairytale ever imagined or read has been added. How much of the nastiness of the setting is simply because the truth behind the tales — where there was truth — was nastier than what passed into fiction, and how much is because of the influence of the Rotten King — Humpty Dumpty, now existing in a maddened and twisted state of Undeath due to the unsuccessful efforts to restore him as he was before his fall — is not entirely clear.
  • JAGS Wonderland, a horror RPG for the JAGS universal system: Wonderland is real, but it's an otherspace where logic and reason completely break down and the major personages of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are basically the Great Old Ones, seeking to reduce humanity to its base elements so they can figure out why we keep mucking up the universe with higher reasoning. Oh, and Wonderland also takes the form of a mental illness not unlike schizophrenia, only you can physically interact with the "hallucinations" and "go down the rabbit hole." And did we mention it's contagious? Ahough it's unique as, unlike many Grimmifications, Earn Your Happy Ending is far more then just possible.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The plane of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor setting undergoes a periodic in-universe cycle of this, alternating with Disneyfication. A once-per-century event known as the Great Aurora causes the world to alternate between being Lorwyn, a lush woodland realm of peaceful and magical creatures under a perpetual daytime, and Shadowmoor, a lightless land haunted by evil spirits, terrible monsters, and twisted parodies of Lorwyn's peaceful residents.
  • Scary Tales revolves around twisted versions of tale characters fighting over the crown of the late king.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: In their 6th edition (2003) writeup, the Beastmen are presented with an aesthetic of dark fairytale weirdness, becoming lurking boogeymen who haunt the deep woods of the Empire and prey on humanity's nightmares. This angle was later dropped to instead double down on their presentation as the ultimate manifestation of Chaos' drive to destroy and pervert everything that civilization stands for.

  • Stephen Sondheim's musical Into the Woods, a deconstruction of fairy tales, spends its first act telling the combined stories of "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", along with an original story along the same lines about a baker and his wife that want to have a child and live next door to the witch from "Rapunzel". Then the second act examines the aftermath of everyone's selfish behavior and the bloodshed that ensues.
    • It also uses the less extreme version of the standard Grimmification of "Little Red Riding Hood" — her song "I Know Things Now" being even more blatantly about lost innocence than the original story was.
      • The wolf's, er, prominent genitalia in the filmed version. And the double entendres in "Hello, Little Girl". "Look at that flesh, pink and plump!" And the mentions of "carnality". He actually hip-thrusts at the audience at the end.
      • The Wolf and Prince Charming are traditionally played by the same actor. This is no accident.

  • McFarlane's Twisted Fairy Tales. The fourth series of the McFarlane's Monsters series of statuettes/action figures was themed around the Grimmification of fairy tales and children's stories, to the extent of nightmarish images mostly involving Body Horror, and combining this with a good deal of fetish fuel and Fanservice for the sufficiently-twisted collector. Red Riding Hood is dressed in a dominatrix-style bikini outfit, wields a large carving knife and holds the disemboweled wolf with dead grandma pouring out of its innards. Peter Pumpkin-Eater is a cannibal who stores dismembered body parts in a hollow pumpkin, Little Miss Muffet wears a pink corset and faces down with a Giant Spider, Humpty Dumpty has maggots crawling out of his broken corpse and Gretel is in a goth/dominatrix outfit and fishnets mopping up blood.
    • McFarlane preceded this with the Twisted Land Of Oz line. Toto has become a fearsome, gigantic dragon-dog, Dorothy is subjected to bondage by evil munchkins, The Tin Woodman was a cyborg zombie thing and the Scarecrow was a corpse stuffed with straw and being eaten by crows. Todd McFarlane and his artists can be hired to provide entertainment at childrens' birthday parties, and they can also read bedtime stories to your kids for a special fee.
    • Only Todd McFarlane would grimmify Christmas to the point of being horrific. Santa Claus is obese, hunchbacked, wears a gas mask over his bare skull and has Freddy Krueger-esque bladed gloves. Mrs Claus is, of course, almost naked. The elves have been zombified and wield blades. Rudolph wields an axe and is being held back by, uh, fairy lights and leather belts. A six-armed melting snowman and a deformed Jack Frost round out the collection. Todd McFarlane as his artists can also make appearances at your Christmas parties and carolling sessions.
  • Monster High had the "Scarily Ever After" (also called "Scary Tales") line. It had Clawdeen as Little Dead Riding Hood, Frankie as Threadarella, and Draculara as Snow Bite. Each came with a short rhyming storybook that retold the fairy tale from a monstrous point of view with the characters in their titles roles and other students in the supporting roles.
  • A line of fashion dolls from 2013 called Once Upon a Zombie turned selected fairy tale princesses into zombies: The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Rapunzel, "Belle" (a generic Beauty and the Beast design but used the Disney character's name), Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. The line later added Alice from Alice in Wonderland.

    Video Games 
  • American McGee's Grimm is a platform game where you perform a literal version of this: the player character is a sarcastic, ugly little dwarf named Grimm who's tired of "cutesy" fairy tales, so he goes around messing them up and making them gruesome and scary again. He takes on various tales from The Brothers Grimm and other sources, from classics like "Cinderella" and "Puss in Boots" to more obscure tales like "The Girl Without Hands" and "A Boy Learns What Fear Is". He also (accidentally) subverted this when he got to Red Riding Hood. It manages to be Lighter and Softer (if you ignore the random curse words) than the original by having the wolf get a mercy killing via ax to the stomach: a far better fate than drowning in a well or starving to death. The original is far darker (no friendly woodsman for one). Although the part with keeping the Woodsman was intentional — he comments on the original version where she dies, but decides to stick with a modification of the more familiar version.
  • American McGee's Alice, which chronicles the now orphaned and mentally insane Alice's battle for sanity, in what can be only described as a goth child's nightmare come true. Wonderland is an extension of Alice's psyche, and she's been catatonic in an asylum ever since her home burned down, killing her entire family but her. As such, Wonderland has become a twisted, nightmarish shadow of its former self. The Queen of Hearts is now an Eldritch Abomination whose living tentacles are literally suffocating the land; the Hatter has gone from Cloud Cuckoolander to actually insane, developing an obsession with time and transforming the March Hare and Dormouse into heavily-drugged cyborgs; the Duchess is eating people; and the half-mechanical, half-dragon Jabberwock is a manifestation of Alice's survivor's guilt, endlessly mocking her for failing to save her family. The closest ally Alice has is the Cheshire Cat, and even he's now an emaciated, riddle-spouting Trickster Mentor.
    • Alice: Madness Returns is even grimmer — Wonderland has turned into a Crapsack World, and in the real world, Alice is being "treated" by a Psycho Psychologist who wants her to forget everything so he can pimp her out as a child prostitute; oh, and he was also responsible for the fire that killed Alice's family from the first game. He also raped Alice's sister, leaving her in a catatonic state before Alice's home on fire to keep his secret from getting out. As before, Alice's fragile sanity is manifesting in a new nightmare for Wonderland: the Infernal Train, a massive, world-destroying locomotive that's tearing up the earth itself as it crosses the dream world. We also meet some new characters from the Alice books who have similarly undergone horrific changes: the Carpenter, for example, is now a psychotic showman who's mounting plays in Wonderland's red-light district, while the Walrus, his star, is a monstrously obese glutton that happily devours sentient oyster-human hybrids while talking about the futility of life.
  • God of War:
    • The series is a Grimmification of Greek myths (and several sword-and-sandal movies) wrapped around a new storyline. While a lot of things are gorier, some things were bowdlerised, or at least abandoned due to squick: the fact that several Olympians are married to their sisters, for example. Ares, Theseus, Perseus... they definitely get the Grimmification, whereas Athena gets reduced to a Neutral Female.
    • God of War (PS4) does the same thing, this time with Norse Mythology. To name one specific example, in classical Mythology, Baldr was the ultimate Nice Guy whose mother Frigg gave him Nigh-Invulnerability by making everything in the world promise not to harm him; however, Loki ended up killing Baldr with mistletoe, the one thing Frigg forgot about. In GOW, Baldr is a gigantic Jerkass who wants to kill Frigg because the invulnerability also dulled his senses to the point where he doesn't feel anything at all, and Frigg is so overprotective that she would rather let him kill her than remove the "curse" and risk anything hurting him. Loki still kills Baldr with mistletoe arrows, but here it's an act of self-defense (not to mention accidental).
  • Bulleta/B.B. Hood of Darkstalkers is implied to be Red Riding Hood in the Ax-Crazy category, motivated by a combination of sheer self-serving greed and her traumatic experiences to hunt monsters. According to Capcom, the character's idea is to be Humans Are Bastards in full effect, and man did they do their job well. Of course, there's an even more Grimmified Alternative Character Interpretation that states that she was already Ax-Crazy to begin with, and killed her own Grandmother during one of her psychotic episodes.
  • The indie game The Path is a psychological horror game inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. You take one of six sisters based on the character (including innocent little Robin and gloomy Goth Ruby) on a path through "the woods". Despite you being instructed to "go to grandma's house, and don't stray from the path", you're supposed to wander off the path, confront the metaphorical (or sometimes literal) wolf, and quite possibly get scared out of your mind.
  • Text adventure game Bronze by Emily Short is an adaptation of the "Beauty and the Beast" story where the Beast has inherited a Deal with the Devil from his predecessors, and the servants of the castle are spirits rather than metamorphosed living people. Also, one of the possible endings lets the player break the curse by killing the Beast.
  • Alice Is Dead is a Grimmified take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which features the Rabbit and Alice as contract killers. The Rabbit is the main character.
  • Soul Sacrifice Delta introduces Archfiends based off of Grimm's fairy tales to the roster. For those unfamiliar, Archfiends are the result of people making deals with the Sacred Chalice, and subsequently mutating into a monster that wouldn't be out of place in Berserk. Cinderella, for example, is a centauroid centipede-beast with hundreds of glass legs and the distorted face of the prince growing out the back. Hansel and Gretel is an entire candy village with a pair of giant locusts covered in frosting in the vague shape of a little boy and girl popping out of the gingerbread houses. Red Riding Hood is a giant wolf-like suit of armor with the skeletal face of a witch erupting from its midriff. Should just give you an idea of how twisted the world of Soul Sacrifice is.
  • While most of the stories in Revolve 8 Episodic Dueling fall under the fractured fairytales category, Momotaro’s tale is particularly darker than most. Taking place after the death of his companions at the hands of the oni, Momotaro goes on a one-man killing spree, vowing to kill every last oni in Japan. However, his overall ruthlessness in his quest makes him willing to let innocent people get killed if it means taking out an oni. Even the narrator acknowledges that Momotaro is just as dangerous as the oni.
  • SINoALICE gleefully dedicates itself to this trope, with presenters Parrah and Noya frequently lampshading its nature as "the worst fairy tale". Among other things, Cinderella is a violent sadist, Red Riding Hood is a Psychopathic Manchild, Gretel carries around Hansel's severed head and believes he's still alive (he is, and that's not Hansel's head), and Snow White is a sociopathic Knight Templar.

    Web Comics 
  • No Rest for the Wicked:
    • Red is literally Ax-Crazy and Back from the Dead: she also got better. There are a number of wolf skins in her cottage, though according to her, the wolves left the forest when the moon disappeared.
    • "Hansel and Gretel" gets a very dark reimagining as well: The Witch is the cannibalizing, insane mother of Hansel and Gretel who is no longer human. Oh, and the townsfolk are planning to burn the protagonist of "The Girl Without Hands" for the witch's crimes because they care more about assuaging their guilt for letting their children fall prey to the witch and other dangers of the forest than actual justice.
  • No Room For Magic plays the "Red Riding Hood deeply affected by her experiences" concept for laughs. Hoodie is somewhere between The Ditz and a Cloudcuckoolander because, after eating her grandma, the wolf decided to raise her. Hoodie is completely oblivious to this fact, even when "Grandma" does things like eat her homework.
  • Red from Ever After is very much on the Ax-Crazy end of the spectrum, using a saw as her weapon of choice. Her introduction scene has her taking the saw to the guards and one of the nurses of the asylum in a bloody rampage before being subdued by Puss-In-Boots. Thanks to Dr. Crooked, they get better.
  • VG Cats LOVES grimmifying cute everybody's-happy tales for shock value. Heck, about a third of all their comics involve this nowadays. Not even Frosty is safe, it seems.
  • Parodied in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, where one grimmification is exchanged for another.
  • Discussed in this Wondermark strip, where one of the men argues that the Disneyfied versions of the stories are far more subversive than the dark ones.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal speculates that people will believe any explanation for a nursery rhyme as long as it's horrifying.
  • Cheshire Crossing is pretty low-key about it, but makes it very clear that Alice and Dorothy came out of their experiences in another dimension with a whole bunch of emotional baggage that their experiences with early 20th century psychiatric care have not helped at all. Even Wendy, the least affected of the trio, admits to feeling nervous when she's not allowed to carry a weapon.
  • Pet Foolery: One strip reimagines Goldilocks as a horror film. The comic starts with the Bayer family (a group of anthropomorphic bears) summoning the police to deal with a "flat-faced goblin" that has invaded their home. The cops slowly become spooked as they see evidence of the creature's presence, and when they find Goldilocks, she looks like a zombie with Glowing Eyes of Doom.

    Web Original 
  • In Evil Tales all the stories are based upon fairy tales and have a rather dark, gothic tone and aesthetic (even considering how dark some of the original versions are). Unlike some of the originals, they most certainly don't end with a Happily Ever After. "Fascination" is based on Red Riding Hood, "Repulsion" on Hansel and Gretal, "Obsession" on Snow White and "Rejection" on Beauty and the Beast.
  • The pic above comes from the DeviantArt user jeftoon01, who has been working diligently on a "Twisted Princess" series, where he imagines what the Disney heroines would look like if they became Femme Fatales. Besides the Wicked Witch version of Aurora above, we also have a revenant version of Mulan, a Golem Cinderella, and a Dark Action Girl Magic Knight version of Jasmine. By the way, his portrayal of Snow White illustrates the Darth Wiki main page.
  • Dimension 20: Neverafter has this as it's main setting, with all fairy tales being thrown into a Fantasy Kitchen Sink and every aspect of the original stories being Played for Horror, such as the Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella being an Eldritch Abomination who devours stories and the Big Bad Wolf being a literal personification of death, right down to smaller things like Pinocchio carrying a staff made out of his own nose that he broke off. Of course, there is an in-universe reason for all this, which is that forces are conspiring to make all stories the worst possible versions of themselves, meaning fiction itself has become Darker and Edgier.
  • Another artist who does this with Disney characters is rinoatilmitt. Stitch may give you nightmares.
    • And it's actually not as bad as some of the early concepts for what he might look like in the movie.
  • Some of Don Kenn's drawings seem to be dark twists on fairy tales, such as a Little Red Riding Hood with a VERY scary Big Bad Wolf and this creature, which appears to be a strange, twisted version of a Fairy Godmother.
  • The "Snow-White-as-vampire" motif is very popular on DeviantArt as well. Here are some examples.
  • The Furry Fandom has its own takes on Little Red Riding Hood, some of which have ended up pretty good, others, not so much. A few variations likely to be found:
    • The wolf is a hero. The villain can range between pretty-much all the human characters likely to be found in the setting.
    • Red and the wolf are lovers. Usually including an age-up for Red, this one can turn out surprisingly good.
    • Various combinations of species and gender swapping.
    • Making one or more characters werewolves.
    • And, or course, given The Internet Is for Porn, there are outright pornographic takes on the story, essentially using the framework of the story as an excuse for gratuitous sex.
    • There's at least one comic that parodies the concept of a "sexy" wolf man. After pointing out how weird the eating/sex parallels are, Little Red concludes that the Wolf needs professional help and skips away.
  • The hitRECord story Moonflowers has a VERY dark portrayal of the Wild Hunt, since a lot of human characters call their leader a serial-killer. However, the Wild Hunt are on the really extreme end of fairy morality—other spirits (including a very friendly, if Cloud Cuckoo Lander river-spirit) don't agree with the Hunt at all.
  • A YouTuber named Lydia the Bard has garnered quite a following by making minor-keyed versions of Disney Princess songs... If the Princess was the villain. It started out as just putting the song in a Minor Key, then starting with Rapunzel singing a version of "Mother Knows Best" with new lyrics, things started going into full Darker and Edgier alternate universe directions.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):



"Sonne" adapts the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves with Snow White as a manipulative vamp who shoots up gold like heroine, using her beauty to seduce the dwarves into mining it for her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Grimmification

Media sources: