Many Disney classics come from some pretty dark places.

While you probably associate Disney with tame, family-friendly entertainment, the company mines some surprisingly horrifying sources to find its stories.

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EVERETT

Many of Disney’s animated films are modern takes on classic novels and ancient folktales—and in most cases, screenwriters made some necessary changes to remove violence and weird plot points. We don’t blame them.

For instance…

1. Pinocchio

The story you know:

An old woodcarver named Geppetto wants a child, so he makes one out of wood. A Blue Fairy gives the puppet life, and Pinocchio is born.

But the puppet-boy is abducted by a traveling puppet show, which sets of a long series of events; eventually, he’s eaten by a whale. Geppetto is also eaten by the whale, as this was a pretty common occurrence back in the day.

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Alamy

Together, they trick the whale into sneezing. Pinocchio drowns while saving Geppetto, but the Blue Fairy, recognizing his bravery, gives him life again and turns him into a real boy. Also, there’s a magical cricket, but we forget what he did.

The story you don’t know:

Pinocchio was created by writer Carlo Collodi in 1883 and the story was intended as a cautionary tale for naughty children. Essentially, that means that he was terrifying.

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biografieonline.it

While Collodi’s Pinocchio shared characteristics with his Disney counterpart, everything was a bit more harsh. For instance, his nose grows when he lies, but to get it back to normal, the Blue Fairy gets some birds to peck away at it. That hurts, and Collodi describes the puppet’s pain in excruciating detail.

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NJ Italian Heritage Commission

Pinocchio is also—how should we put this?—really obnoxious. He’s described as a “confirmed rogue,” and Geppetto calls him a “wretched boy.” As soon as he’s born, he laughs in his father’s face and steals his wig (in 1883, that was pretty much the most offensive sin known to man).

Eventually, all of the other characters get fed up with Pinocchio, so they execute him, but not before robbing him, whipping him, catching him in an iron trap, starving him, punching him, and burning off his legs. At the end of the book, the Blue Fairy tells children:

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Disney Screencaps

“Boys who minister tenderly to their parents and assist them in their misery and infirmities, are deserving of great praise and affection, even if they cannot be cited as examples of obedience and good behaviour. Try and do better in the future and you will be happy.”

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Disney Screencaps

Originally, Pinocchio simply dies at the end of the story, but Collodi’s editor gently suggested that the book might work better without the sadistic execution of a childlike puppet. The finished novel featured the Blue Fairy stepping in at the last moment, and Pinocchio becomes a real boy as Geppetto resumes woodworking. Also, Pinocchio finds some money, so maybe Collodi really felt bad for mistreating the little guy.

2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The story you know:

A beautiful girl named Snow White draws the attention of her stepmother, who happens to be an evil queen; the queen sets out to destroy her step-daughter. Snow White escapes to the mountains, where she finds seven dwarves living together in a small cottage (they must have saved a ton on rent).

The evil queen eventually catches up to Snow White and feeds her a poison apple, which causes the beautiful girl to fall into a deep sleep. A prince finds her, and, overcome by her beauty, he kisses her. Conveniently, the one antidote to the poison is a kiss—maybe the prince had just eaten some penicillin or something.

The story you don’t know:

In the Grimm Brothers’ version of the story, the Prince doesn’t wake Sleeping Beauty with a kiss. Instead, he convinces the dwarves to “let him have her,” and grabs her coffin to literally drag her back to his house.

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Disney Screencaps

We assume that he was planning on propping her up as some sort of art piece, but that didn’t work out; moving the coffin dislodges a bit of poison apple from Snow White’s esophagus, and she comes back to life. It turns out the “poison” wasn’t really the most dangerous part of the fruit. The evil queen literally could have used a plain hot dog to get the same effect.

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Disney Screencaps

That’s sort of dark, but in another version of the story, Snow White wakes up pregnant… Let’s just say that Disney’s version of the Prince isn’t so bad, after all.

3. Cinderella

The story you know:

Cinderella is mistreated by her cruel stepsisters and stepmother. One day, her Fairy Godmother grants her wish to go to the royal ball, where Cinderella wins the heart of the Prince. However, she is forced to flee the ball at the stroke of midnight as her magic wears off.

Cinderella leaves behind a slipper, and the Prince travels the land to find her. While her stepsisters try on the slipper, it doesn’t fit; Cinderella’s foot fits perfectly, and the Prince, wisely realizing that no two people in his kingdom could possibly have the same shoe size, immediately proposes.

The story you don’t know:

The story of Cinderella has been told for about 1,500 years, so naturally, there are quite a few versions. The Malaysian version is absolutely insane, as it involves Cinderella’s mother being thrown into a well and turned into a colorful fish, which Cinderella then eats. She “learns of her mother’s fishbones” in a dream, then finds them with help from some ants.

We could keep going, but it doesn’t make any more sense from that point forward, and the Prince doesn’t show up until the final act.

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NPR

Most Western audiences are familiar with the Grimm Brothers’ version of the fairytale, but you probably missed some of the finer details. For instance, instead of a Fairy Godmother, Cinderella (named Ashfool in the original) is visited by magical birds. When the Prince brings the slipper, one of Cinderella’s stepsisters tries to fit into it by cutting off her toes.

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Disney Screencaps

Of course, true love wins in the end, and the Prince marries Cinderella while her magical birds peck out her stepsisters’ eyes. On the plus side, the stepsisters got to be bridesmaids, so…everyone wins?

4. The Jungle Book

The story you know:

A boy named Mowgli is orphaned in the jungle. He joins a pack of wolves and is raised by an assortment of wild creatures, including Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther.

However, he’s stalked by a tiger named Shere Khan. Khan plans to eat the young Mowgli, but by using fire, Mowgli is able to drive the predator off.

The story you don’t know:

Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book, which contained a number of stories set in the African jungle. While the Disney adaptation recalls many of the plot points of Kipling’s first Mowgli story, it wisely omits some of the others.

For instance, Kipling’s second Mowgli story essentially starts where the film leaves off, but rather than being drawn to human civilization by young love, Mowgli has more of a Rambo thing going on. He goes back to civilization but returns to the jungle in order to destroy Shere Khan.

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Disney Screencaps

We can’t really describe what happens next any better than the anonymous writer who added this line to Wikipedia:

“Mowgli fulfills his promise to lay out Shere Khan’s hide on Council Rock and dances upon it, singing of his emotional confusion.”

But the story doesn’t end there. Mowgli sets out to get revenge on everyone who wronged him; he uses his animal friends to destroy a village to the point that it’s “completely swallowed by the wild jungle.”

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Disney Screencaps

Don’t mess with Mowgli.