Disney has made some of the best child- and family-friendly movies. They’re filled with happy endings, fun characters, and none too gory.
But did you know some classic Disney movies were based off of R-rated stories? It’s true. Here are three examples.
The Fox and the Hound
Copper the hound and Tod the fox — a match made in Disney heaven, the best of friends. They were neighbors and an unlikely pair, typically the hunter and the hunted.
Although this is already a semi-sad story, here’s the heartbreaking story it’s based off.
The 1967 novel of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix tells a very different story. Tod the fox causes the hunter’s favorite dog to die. Copper, another one of the hunter’s dogs, goes through training that teaches him to only look for Tod, no other foxes. The hunter is determined to get revenge on Tod.
The hunter ends up killing two sets of Tod’s mates and kits. Yet Tod continues to evade death, until the hunter gets fed up with this lack of revenge. He forces Copper to seek after Tod without stopping. Finally, Tod collapses from exhaustion and dies.
Years later, the hunter moves into a nursing home, but not before killing Copper with a shotgun.
So, not such a happy ending.
The Jungle Book
Mowgli is an orphaned baby, left alone in the jungle. He becomes friends with a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera, and the two of them raise the boy as their own. Soon, Mowgli has to retreat to a local village because of a nasty, man-eating tiger. He stays in the village and falls in love with a girl.
You know the story. Or do you?
The original “Jungle Book” is a short story by Rudyard Kipling, and it’s not so sweet. After growing up in the jungle he returns to human society, but the other humans don’t welcome him at all — they banish him back to the jungle and torture the human family that helped him.
Mowgli then asks Hathi the elephant for help. In the Disney movie, Hathi is a dopey, forgetful Elephant general who plays a small part in the plot. In the book he’s an old, violent elephant who lives to seek revenge on humans for wounding him in a spike pit.
So, naturally, Bagheera, Mowgli, and a pack of wolves completely obliterate the village and the people that banished Mowgli.
Yeah, that definitely can’t be in a Disney movie for kids.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid, who is never given a name in the book, desperately desires to be a human and marry a prince. So she cuts a deal with Ursula the sea witch — I’ll give you my voice for a pair of legs.
But of course, Ursula betrays her and tries to take her man. She can’t overcome the power of love, though. Eric the man and Ariel end up married and living happily ever after.
However, Hans Christian Andersen’s book tells a different story that’s not so happy.
In the book, the witch gives The Little Mermaid legs, making her human (which is irreversible). She swims to the shore and passes out, unconscious. When she awakes, she’s in extreme pain. The prince finds her and takes her back to his palace as a freak show act — he has her dance for him as she continues to be in intense pain.
The Little Mermaid soon finds out that the prince is about to marry another woman — if he does, she will dissolve into sea foam because mermaids don’t have souls. She needs to beg him to marry her, but she has no voice. And when she goes to the Sea Witch to get her voice back, the Sea Witch says The Little Mermaid has to kill the prince and let his blood drip over her feet in order for her to stay a human.
She doesn’t kill the prince, so she dissolves into sea foam and is forever trapped in limbo. Yeah, I like the Disney version better.