In a world filled with stories, fairy tales have remained a source of enchantment for centuries. Filled with magical creatures, brave heroes and heroines, and moral lessons, these stories come from all corners of the globe. From the Brothers Grimm to Charles Perrault, the most beloved tales have transcended eras, cultures and languages. In this article we will explore the 20 most popular fairy tales throughout history, uncovering their roots and discovering why they remain so beloved today.
Fairy tales have been told and retold for centuries. Whether they’re old favorites like Cinderella or newer tales such as Frozen, these stories captivate the hearts of people of all ages. But with so many popular fairy tales out there, which ones are the most beloved? Discover the top 20 most popular fairy tales that have stood the test of time.
From classic stories like Snow White to modern day retellings like Shrek, these timeless stories entertain us with their moral lessons and enchanting characters. We can learn from them about friendship, loyalty, courage, and other important values. In addition to being fun to read or watch on screen, fairy tales can also help us to find our place in life’s journey by inspiring us to look at things in new ways.
Popularity: Why they’re so loved
Fairy tales have captivated the hearts of children and adults alike for centuries, with their stories of magic, love and adventure. But why are these stories so popular? To answer this question, it’s important to look at some of the most beloved fairy tales of all time. From classics such as Cinderella, Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood to newer tales like The Princess Bride and Maleficent, each story has its own unique charm that captures the imagination.
The universal appeal of fairy tales goes beyond just entertainment value; they offer life lessons that can be applied to our daily lives. From teaching us about courage in the face of adversity to reminding us how honesty always triumphs over dishonesty, these timeless stories impart valuable wisdom that is still applicable today.
Top 20 Fairy Tales: List & Origins
The classic fairy tale of Cinderella is one of the most widely recognized and beloved stories of all time. Since its creation hundreds of years ago, the tale has been adapted into countless movies and books, with each new version putting its own unique spin on this timeless story. From the earliest French versions to modern-day retellings, Cinderella continues to captivate audiences around the world.
This beloved story follows a young girl named Cinderella who is mistreated by her stepfamily yet eventually achieves her dream through perseverance and kindness. When she meets her fairy godmother, she’s given a magical makeover that helps her win over Prince Charming at the ball. Through trials and tribulations, Cinderella finds true love in an unexpected place – making it one of the greatest fairy tales ever told!
“The prince, enchanted by Cinderella’s kindness, realizes that the slipper isn’t the only way to identify her. He seeks her out, and they decide to rule the kingdom together, bringing equality and justice”.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is one of the most beloved fairy tales of all time. Written by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, this classic story tells the tale of a beautiful princess who escapes her wicked stepmother’s jealous plots with help from seven kindly dwarfs. The movie adaptation released by Walt Disney Studios in 1937 was an immediate success, becoming the highest grossing film at that time. Snow White and her companions have since become iconic figures in popular culture and remain among the most recognizable characters in literature today. Through its timeless themes of good versus evil, true love, bravery, and friendship, this classic story continues to enchant people over 200 years after its original publication. With its enduring popularity Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs definitely holds a place among our top 20 most popular fairy tales!
“Snow White, having escaped the queen’s poison, discovers she has a twin sister, and together, they confront the wicked queen, ending her tyranny”.
Beauty and the Beast
The classic story of Beauty and the Beast is one of the world’s most beloved fairy tales. It tells the story of a beautiful young woman who falls in love with a cursed prince, hidden away in an enchanted castle. This timeless tale has inspired countless adaptations and reimaginings for centuries, and today it continues to stand as one of the 20 most popular fairy tales.
The original French version was published by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740 and quickly rose to fame, finding its way into bookshelves all over Europe. Its success soon prompted Disney to create their renowned animated adaptation in 1991. Since then, Beauty and the Beast has been translated into more than 35 languages, making it one of the most well-known stories around the globe!
“Belle, learning that the curse on the Beast was her family’s doing, must choose between breaking the curse and saving her family, leading to a heartbreaking decision”.
The timeless classic of Sleeping Beauty has been delighting children and adults alike for centuries. One of the top 20 most popular fairy tales, this romantic story is filled with adventure and drama. In a nutshell, it tells the tale of a beautiful young princess who falls asleep after pricking her finger on a spinning wheel’s spindle. Although she falls into an eternal slumber, her kingdom awaits her awakening when she’ll be reunited with her true love and live happily ever after. It’s no wonder why this enchanting tale has captivated readers time and time again; its themes of destiny, love, redemption, and hope are just as relevant today as they have always been in the past.
“The prince, after awakening Aurora, finds out that the curse has consequences. To break it completely, he must embark on a perilous quest, testing his love’s endurance”.
The Little Mermaid
When it comes to popular fairy tales, no list would be complete without the inclusion of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story: The Little Mermaid. This beloved tale has been retold countless times throughout the ages and continues to captivate audiences of all ages with its beautiful illustration and timeless message. It is the story of a curious mermaid who longs for a life on land, defying her father and risking her life in exchange for legs. Alongside epic themes of love, sacrifice, and revenge, The Little Mermaid explores loss, identity, and growing up in a way that resonates deeply with readers both young and old. As one of the most iconic stories ever told, it should come as no surprise that The Little Mermaid continues to stand out amongst other tales from around the world.
“The mermaid, realizing that her underwater kingdom is in danger, must choose between staying with the prince or saving her people, leading to a difficult sacrifice”.
Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel is a classic German fairy tale of two siblings who are abandoned in the woods by their parents. Written by the Brothers Grimm, this story tells us of how Hansel and Gretel use their wits to survive their harsh predicament. The two children come across a candy cottage owned by an evil witch who intends to eat them. Through courage and resourcefulness, they manage to outsmart her and eventually find their way back home safely. Hansel and Gretel has been beautifully adapted into films, books, music, artwork, theater plays, television shows and more – making it one of the most beloved stories among adults as well as children all over the world. It’s no surprise then that out of top 20 most popular fairy tales, Hansel & Gretel ranks among the top 5!
“The witch, misunderstood and seeking redemption, helps Hansel and Gretel reunite with their parents and rebuild their family”.
Fairy tales have been captivating readers of all ages for centuries. One of the most beloved and widely-known fairy tales is Rapunzel, which tells the story of a young woman who is locked away in a tower by an evil witch. The tale has been told and retold since it was first published in 1812, with many variations emerging over the years.
The original version of Rapunzel comes from the Brothers Grimm’s collection of stories, though there are references to similar stories dating back to Ancient Greece. The story begins with a man stealing lettuces from a garden owned by an enchantress; as punishment she takes his newborn daughter Rapunzel away and locks her in a tower without stairs or doors.
“Rapunzel discovers she has healing powers, and she uses them to cure her captor, the witch, leading to an unexpected alliance and resolution”.
The Princess and the Pea
The classic fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea has been captivating readers for centuries. Written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the story follows a prince in search of a real princess who he can bring home to his kingdom. In his quest, he meets many women who claim to be princesses but none of them pass his test until he meets a young woman who can feel a pea beneath twenty mattresses.
This fairytale is not only entertaining but provides interesting insight into human nature and relationships. It encourages us to be mindful of our actions and think before we speak as well as explore how our feelings are connected to our experiences. On top of that, it’s also an inspiring illustration of love conquering all!
“The “princess” is revealed to be an imposter, but her humble and kind nature wins over the prince and the kingdom, proving that true royalty comes from within”.
The Frog Prince
The Frog Prince is one of the most enduring fairy tales in history, and remains a favorite to this day. Its origins date back to the 16th century, when it was first written down as part of the Grimm Brothers’ collection of stories. The story follows a princess who befriends a frog, and eventually marries him after he has been transformed into a handsome prince. In many ways, it’s an allegory for the power of love and how even unlikely relationships can succeed.
The tale has been interpreted in various forms throughout its lifespan, ranging from picture books to puppet shows to films. It’s even inspired countless retellings with contemporary themes like feminism or environmentalism. Regardless of these interpretations, the core message remains universal: that love can work wonders. It’s no wonder why this timeless classic continues to fascinate readers, young and old alike!
“The princess, upon learning that the frog is a prince under a spell, finds herself torn between two worlds, and she must make a choice that will impact both”.
Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood is a famous fairy tale about a little girl who wears a red hooded cloak and goes on a journey through the woods to visit her sick grandmother. On the way, she encounters a sly wolf who convinces her to take a longer route, and then races ahead to the grandmother’s house. Once there, the wolf devours the grandmother and disguises himself in her clothing, waiting for Little Red Riding Hood to arrive. When she does, the wolf tricks her into coming closer and ultimately devours her as well. However, a brave woodsman arrives and rescues Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, cutting open the wolf’s stomach and freeing them from his belly. The story is often interpreted as a warning to children about the dangers of talking to strangers and straying from the path.
“Little Red Riding Hood, realizing the wolf’s misunderstood nature, befriends him and helps him find a new home, teaching the village a valuable lesson in compassion”.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the most beloved fairy tales of all time. Its popularity has endured for centuries, as children around the world continue to be captivated by its whimsical characters and fantastical story. First published in 1734, Jack and the Beanstalk recounts a young boy’s journey up a magical beanstalk to a castle in the clouds, where he outwits an evil giant. The moral of this classic tale is that courage and quick thinking can help you overcome any obstacle — even one as daunting as an angry giant. This timeless story also teaches kids important lessons about honesty, humility, and pursuing your dreams with determination. It’s no wonder Jack and the Beanstalk remains one of the twentieth century’s most beloved fairy tales!
“The giant, portrayed as a lonely guardian of magical treasures, helps Jack return the stolen items, leading to an unexpected alliance and a peaceful resolution”.
The Three Little Pigs
The Three Little Pigs is a well-known fairy tale about three anthropomorphic pigs who build three different houses: one out of straw, one out of sticks, and one out of bricks. When a big bad wolf appears and tries to blow down their houses, the first two pigs’ houses are destroyed easily. The third pig’s brick house, however, withstands the wolf’s efforts to blow it down. In some versions of the story, the wolf tries to trick the pigs into coming out of their houses by pretending to be a friendly visitor, but the pigs are too clever for him. In the end, the wolf is unable to destroy the third pig’s house and is either killed or scared away. The story is often interpreted as a lesson about the importance of hard work, preparation, and resilience in the face of adversity.
“The wolf, in search of food for his ailing family, realizes the importance of cooperation and helps the pigs build a secure house, fostering understanding between species”.
The classic fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin is one of the top 20 most popular fairy tales ever. This story originated from German folklore, and it has been retold in various versions for generations. It follows the tale of a miller who boasts that his daughter can spin straw into gold, which brings her to the attention of a mysterious figure known as Rumpelstiltskin. In exchange for helping her spin straw into gold, he requests something impossible in return; and when she is unable to fulfill his wishes, he puts forth an offer with dire consequences if it’s not met. Through courage and quick thinking, she outwits him and saves her life in this timeless tale of heroism.
“Rumpelstiltskin, after the queen discovers his name, decides to use his magical abilities for good, helping the kingdom prosper”.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a classic fairy tale about a little girl named Goldilocks who enters the home of three bears while they are away. She discovers three bowls of porridge on the dining table and samples each one, finding that one is too hot, one is too cold, and one is just right. She also finds three chairs and discovers that one is too big, one is too small, and one is just right. Finally, she finds three beds and tests them out, finding that one is too hard, one is too soft, and one is just right. The bears return to find their things disturbed and discover Goldilocks sleeping in the bed of the baby bear. Startled, Goldilocks wakes up and runs out of the house, never to return. The story is often interpreted as a warning to children about the dangers of entering the homes of strangers and not respecting the property of others.
“Goldilocks, realizing her mistake, becomes friends with the bear family and helps them protect their forest home from harm”.
The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling is one of the most beloved fairy tales in recent history. It is a classic story of resilience, courage and transformation, and has been retold in countless variations. Written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen back in 1843, this timeless tale follows the journey of a homely duckling who finds himself rejected by his peers but eventually discovers he’s a beautiful swan.
This heartwarming story speaks to children of all ages and has become a metaphor for inner beauty for many people around the world. The Ugly Duckling teaches us that it’s not what we look like on the outside that matters; it’s about being true to ourselves, and believing in our own potential for greatness.
“The duckling, now a beautiful swan, returns to the pond where he grew up and forgives the birds who once rejected him, promoting acceptance and forgiveness”.
The story of Thumbelina is one of the most beloved and timeless fairy tales in history. This enchanting tale tells the story of a tiny girl who embarks on a journey to find her place in the world. Written by Hans Christian Andersen, this classic fairytale has been read by generations and is still beloved today.
Thumbelina’s captivating adventure begins when she is discovered living inside a flower petal by an old woman who takes her into her home. Her adventures lead her to meet many interesting creatures, including a singing beetle, an ugly toad, and even a fairy prince! Through all this, Thumbelina learns valuable lessons about friendship, courage and determination that are still relevant today.
“Thumbelina, embracing her unique size, uses her qualities to help both tiny and large creatures, becoming a symbol of unity among different beings”.
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Once upon a time, there was a beloved fairy tale that has captivated generations both young and old – The Emperor’s New Clothes. This classic story is about an emperor who is tricked by two scheming tailors into believing that he had been given the finest clothes to wear for his parade. His own vanity made him believe the lies of the swindlers, causing him to parade around town without wearing any clothing at all! This timeless fable teaches us valuable lessons about humility, trust and integrity.
The Emperor’s New Clothes has been popularized by numerous adaptations over the years in books, plays, television shows and movies. It is one of the top 20 most popular fairy tales according to surveys conducted by various sources.
“A child points out the emperor’s vanity, leading to a revolution where the kingdom values inner qualities over appearance”.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Pied Piper of Hamelin is one of the most beloved and enduring fairy tales from centuries past. The story tells the tale of a mysterious stranger – known as the Pied Piper – who arrives in the town of Hamelin to rid them of their plague-infested rats. In exchange for this heroic act, he demands to be paid a substantial fee by the townsfolk. When they refuse, he exacts his revenge with tragic consequences for all involved. This classic folktale still resonates today with its timeless lesson about keeping promises and honoring agreements. With its wonderful characters, thrilling plot twists, and memorable moments, it’s no wonder why The Pied Piper has remained such an iconic figure in literature and popular culture over time. From musicals to cartoons to movies, this captivating story has inspired generations of readers around the world since its first rendition in 1284 AD.
“The townspeople learn to appreciate the piper’s music and recognize their mistake, making amends and forming a more harmonious community”.
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Tortoise and the Hare is one of the most popular fairy tales of all time. It tells the story of a race between a swift-footed hare and a slow-moving tortoise. This timeless classic has been passed down for generations, with many adaptations being made in books, movies and plays. The protagonist – the tortoise – represents determination and slow but steady progress, while its rival – the hare – symbolizes speed and impulsiveness. Together, they form an unforgettable fable that speaks to us about life lessons such as taking our time to do things carefully or not underestimating those who may appear to be weaker than us.
This beloved folktale has stood the test of time because it resonates with people from all walks of life regardless of their age or geographical location.
“The hare, having lost the race, learns the importance of perseverance and becomes a mentor to other animals, inspiring them to achieve their goals”.
The classic story of Pinocchio is one of the most well-known and beloved fairy tales in existence. Written by Carlo Collodi in 1883, the tale follows a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy; with a little bit of help from Fairy with Turquoise Hair, his wish comes true. Along his journey to become human, Pinocchio learns valuable life lessons that remain relevant today–particularly about honesty and responsibility. From Disney’s 1940 adaptation to multiple live-action retellings, Pinocchio has remained an enduring icon throughout generations. As such, it’s no surprise that this timeless tale ranks among the top 20 most popular fairy tales around the world. The story has been translated into more than 260 languages and continues to fascinate audiences with its enchanting characters and themes of morality and redemption.
“Pinocchio, after becoming a real boy, uses his unique experience to help other enchanted beings transform into humans, fostering empathy and understanding”.