- Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Depending on whether you see Hamelin or the Piper as the villain...
- If Hamelin is in the wrong, always remember to pay your debts... or suffer the consequences.
- If the Piper is the villain, don't make a deal with a stranger no matter if he is genuine or not. You'll regret it either way.
- In the case of the Piper, it would be "Always ask for your money up front." or, alternatively, in the case Hamelin, "Don't make promises you can't keep"
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Is the Piper a villain? Are the townsfolk huge jerkasses? Somewhere in-between? Every way to answer those questions has had a version of this story all to itself:
- It's not unheard of for the townsfolk to gather up their money to pay the Piper, only to hear his price is so exorbitant they can't actually pay him.
- Michael Ende's play The Rat-Catcher presents the rat-catcher as a good fairy that rescues the children of Hamelin from a corrupt world. Oh, and the citizens of Hamelin secretly worship a rat-demon.
- The 1933 Disney animated short takes a similar approach. The Piper explicitly states he's taking the kids to stop them from becoming as horrible as the adults, with the mountain he leads them into actually containing a happy wonderland. In fact, the lame child makes it inside in this version, rendered able to walk without a crutch via sheer joy.
- Tanith Lee's "Paid Piper" from Red As Blood has the townsfolk openly worshiping a rather Mammon-like rat god of prosperity. The piper is a different god, a god of love, and he takes the children away in a more subtly horrible fashion: with a Sterility Plague.
- This song by Heather Dale gives one to the children. It interprets the story being a scam by the children who recruited the Piper to help them get out of town.
- The Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child version has the Piper lure most of the children away as a final punishment for the greedy, hostile-to-outsiders adults of the town — but implies that the children are safe and that they will return once the adults well and truly reform. The left-behind lame boy in this version is also homeless, and the first sign of their repentance is that they extend kindness to him at last.
- Nightmare Fuel: A whole village's innocent children are abducted to get back at what only one person did. Scarier in the versions where we never find out where he takes them, or what happens to them afterward. Up to Eleven in the versions where the Piper drown the children like he did with the rats.
- Of course the varying degrees of truth to the story could have real implications of what happened to the real children of Hamelin.
- Strawman Has a Point: While taking the children away as punishment isn't something most would agree on, the Piper is right in wanting to be paid what he was promised (or paid at all, in some versions) for getting rid of the rats.
YMMV / The Pied Piper of Hamelin