10 Fairy Tales That Were Way Darker Than You Realized as a Kid

Little Red Riding Hood
Strange bedfellows: In the original fairy tale, the wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood. In some later versions, she is cut out alive from the wolf's stomach. Culture Club/Getty Images

There have been many versions of this venerable story through the ages, all with the same basic storyline. A girl in a red cloak is traveling through the woods to deliver food to her ailing grandmother, when she meets with a hungry wolf. After the wolf urges her to spend some time picking flowers for grandma, he races ahead to beat her to the destination. There, he eats the grandmother, dresses up in her clothing, and lies in wait for Little Red Riding Hood.

In the Grimms' version of the story, "Little Red Cap," Little Red Riding Hood is also devoured by the wolf, but she and her grandmother are then rescued by a hunter who arrives just in the nick of time. Instead of shooting the wolf, he cuts his belly open with a pair of shears, and the girl and her grandmother miraculously emerge, unscathed.

At least there's a happy ending. In Perrault's version, which he intended as a warning to young women to avoid sexual predators, he simply allows the flirtatious Little Red Riding Hood to be eaten.