• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

A child has demanded a bedtime story. The storyteller starts into a traditional fairy tale, but the kid insists on altering said story. As plot points are introduced willy-nilly, the narrative will eventually fall apart.

Not to be confused with Fractured Fairy Tale.

Examples of Derailed Fairy Tale include:

Anime and Manga

  • Hayate the Combat Butler has Hayate tell Nagi a bastardized "Alice in Wonderland" for an anniversary chapter. He begins by telling Nagi (and the readers) that the author hasn't read the story in a long time. We then get Hinagiku as Alice running into the Student Council Trio as "rabbits" and her pitying them for getting stuck on cheesecake duty. Then she beats the challenge (noted as being a metaphor for success and society) before they even finish explaining it to her. It then wraps up with her single-handedly crushing the card army and taking over Wonderland, renaming it the United States of Japan.


  • The entire premise behind Disney's Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler. The added twist is that the bits the kids make up (such as raining gumballs or the main character getting kicked by an angry dwarf) happen in some way to the protagonist.
  • Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch. A psycho fur-trapper played by Iggy Pop (in drag) tells his two companions the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears while they contemplate jumping an unsuspecting passerby.

Sally: (from far off) ...That porridge was too hot!
Nobody: Stupid white man. William Blake, you go to them.
Blake: I don't know those people, and they don't look very friendly. What if they kill me?
Nobody: Nobody will observe.
Sally: And he tore her head off her body. He took that golden hair, and made a sweater for baby bears!
Trapper #2: That's terrible.



  • Played with in the Discworld. In Thud, we're introduced to the children's book "Where's My Cow?" that Sam Vimes reads to Sam Jr. every night at 6 pm, no excuses. When the book was defictionalized, the framing story is of Vimes derailing it, replacing the farm animals with the sights and sounds of Ankh-Morpork.
    • In the original, Vimes tried it for a while, but Sybil objected when Jr started picking up... improper... vocabulary, such as "Buggrit!"
  • In Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, Tony used to read fairy tales to her goddaughters, Roz's twin girls, when they were young; the twins insisted that all characters were female regardless of how this impacted the story. It's from this - changing "The Robber Bridegroom" - that the title comes. (Incidentally, in the "new and improved" version of the fairy tale, the victim is still a woman, echoing the narrative of the novel.)
  • Another example in which the storyteller, rather than the child, derails the story: the short story "Little Green Riding Hood" by Gianni Rodari. The grandfather telling the story keeps trying to change it (replacing the wolf with a giraffe, for instance) and the child keeps correcting him. Finally the grandfather manages to get out of telling the story by giving the child money to buy chewing gum.

Live-Action TV

  • The entire premise behind the French-Canadian children show Fanfreluche, a living ragdoll who would read fairy tales to the audience and enter the book to change the plot and alter the ending.

Newspaper Comics

  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin tends to insist that all animals in the stories be turned into tigers, among other demands, until his father resorts to Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies.
  • An early Bloom County strip had a grandpa try to read Snow White to two little kids, the black kid objects: "Hold it, there ARE other colors, you know!" and the other kid says, "And what's with this dwarf business?" so the grandpa says, "Alright, alright, this is the story of Pitch Black and the Seven Big Honkies! Happy?"

Web Animation

  • Gotham Girls: The Three Bears become the Three Babes, among other changes.

Web Comics

  • This xkcd strip involves a girl whose math-professor mother would fall asleep while telling the stories, subconsciously placing her work into them. Some even made more sense than their respective originals.

Western Animation

  • From the "U.S Acres" segments on Garfield and Friends:
    • The story of Chicken Little becomes an exercise in random plot points, until the only plot point to remain is the ozone layer gag.
    • Orson tries telling the story of Cinderella to Booker and Sheldon, they insist on altering the story so that the King's messenger becomes a rapmaster and the stepsiblings become ninjas. The story's still recognizable until they insist that the protagonist run into the Big Bad Wolf while fleeing from the ball. Orson tells them there's no place for a wolf in Cinderella, but they say all fairy tales have to have a wolf. After they insist on a new plot twist where the earth opens up and dinosaurs emerge, Orson gives up. He stops the story there, gives a fast summary of the real Cinderella story, and then leaves.
    • Apparently he didn't learn his lesson, as there's another episode where the exact same thing happens, this time with the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Even Roy and Wade get in on the act.
  • WITCH, episode "U is for Undivided": The kid who demanded a bedtime story just happens to be a Reality Warper.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, episode "Three Little Piglets."
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko and Heffer tell a sick Filburt the story of Hansel and Gretel Debbie, who go into the woods and find a house made of pizza healthy snacks fish sticks, and then... it all gets more convoluted after that.
  • Episode "Nursery Crimes" of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy starts the kids in the story of Hansel and Gretel, but they wander off and encounter characters from other fairy tales such as Pinocchio, who wants to Become a Real Boy by eating the flesh of a real boy.
  • In the Shrek Halloween Special Scared Shrekless, Puss is trying to tell a scary story, but the jealous Donkey keeps horning in and changing the story in his favor, which Puss then changes again. They go back and forth until Donkey gets eaten by a giant waffle.