ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

After writing about Ariel committing suicide and Prince Charming's rapey ways, I was surprised to learn that there are still some shocking dark Disney origin stories out there to shake up our nostalgic childhood memories.

So, if you want to learn what dreadful fate could have met Mowgli's sweetheart or what crimes against children Pinocchio's father Geppetto was accused of, come right this way and uncover the dark source material behind the magic.

The Jungle Book

In Disney's version of the Jungle Book the feral child Mowgli is bewitched by a big-eyed beauty and lured back to the man village where he belongs for a heavily implied happy ending.

Alas, Rudyard Kipling did not imagine the village of an oasis of tolerance for people who had literally been raised by wolves. Instead, society rejects Mowgli and he gets his elephant friend to destroy the village as revenge, killing every living soul.


Pinocchio is viewed by many as Disney's most disturbing offering, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

In the original Carlo Collodi tale, Geppetto is not a kindly old man who craves a son but a child hating carpenter who is tricked into making Pinocchio and is eventually arrested for abusing the wooden child.

As if that is not bad enough, Pinocchio accidentally kills his wise cricket guide with a hammer and is bought by a man who tries to drown him after he is turned into a donkey.

Luckily, when the world's worst donkey owner throws his beast of burden into the sea, fishes eat all of the donkey's flesh (what a delightful Disney scene that would make!) and Pinocchio emerges as an unharmed marionette once more.

Beauty and the Beast

In Gabrelle-Suzanne Barbot’s de Villeneuve’s original story that was inspiration for Beauty and the Beast, Belle's father is not a kindly inventor but a coward who is willing to sacrifice his daughter for his own gain.

Belle's father steals a rose from the grounds of a palace but is caught red-handed by a beast who demands that, in exchange for the rose, he must remain a prisoner in the castle forever.

Instead of accepting his fate as the Beast's primary companion, Belle's father tells the Beast that he was taking the rose as a gift for his daughter and offers to provide her instead.

Naturally the Beast is delighted with this exchange and Belle is taken to the Beasts castle where she is constantly pestered about marriage in exchange for clean clothes. Yay!

The Lion King

The Lion King is famously based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, a play in which almost everybody dies. And yes, that includes you, Simba.

In the climax of the bloody tragedy, Hamlet (the character that inspired Simba) is ruthlessly stabbed to death with a poison blade.

The circle of life is ruthless.

The Princess and the Frog

In the earliest version of The Frog Prince fairy tale, the frog doesn't benefit from a gentle kiss. Instead, the hapless amphibian has his curse broken when the princess splatters him against a wall.

If that version isn't grisly enough for you, there are also retellings of the story where the frog is decapitated or burned alive. Take your pick!


How many of these dark Disney origin stories have you heard of before?

(Source: Imgur, The Independent and Buzzfeed)


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