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Which fairy tale are the fables from?

posted by Livay on - last edited - Viewed by 4.6K users

Hey guys! 'cause I'm not very educated in fairy tales I'd like to ask you about it. Where are all those fables from?

The few I know:

  1. Bigby, Woodsman = Red Riding Hood
  2. Colin & Bigby = Three Little Pigs
  3. Snow, Magic Mirror = Snow White
  4. Beauty and Beast = Beauty and the Beast
  5. Crane = Sleepy Hollow
  6. Bluebeard = Bluebeard
  7. Flycatcher = The Frog Prince

Not sure with these:

  1. Bufkin = Wizard of Oz ?
  2. Nerissa = Ariel (The Little Mermaid) ?

I've no idea:

  1. Johann = ?
  2. Jersey Devil = ? (I've seen his figure before but I don't know the story behind it)
  3. Crooked Man = ?
  4. Aunty Greenleaf = ?
  5. Mary = ?
  6. Swineheart = ?
  7. Georgie = ?
  8. Hans = ?
  9. Vivian = ? (Prime Suspect in my opinion)
  10. Jack = ?
  11. Tiny Tim = ?
  12. Grendel = ?
  13. Holly = ?
  14. Cryer = ? (taxi man :D)
  15. Toad = ?
  16. Faith = ?

It would be nice if you could tell me what their characters are like in their fairy tales and what it's about. Just some short information :) Thanks guys! :)

  • Bufkin is apparently supposed to be one of the flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz (according to Fables wiki).

    Nerissa is the little mermaid, who in the actual fable did not quite have a happy ending. In the original tale, by Hans Christian Andersen, the little mermaid rescues a prince from drowning. She's fallen in love with him and she wants to go walk in the surface world to be with him. Her mother tries to explain to her that humans are too different because they have a soul that goes to heaven when they die, while mermaids become sea foam when they die. She goes to see a sea witch anyway who gives her a potion that will give her legs. However, she will constantly feel as though she is walking on sharp knives. (Nerissa mentions this in the game and it's likely why she looks like she's in pain when she's practicing erotic dance, for which Georgie is yelling at her the first time Bigby goes to the Pudding and Pie.) If she manages to get a true love's kiss (of course) the potion will also give her a soul (basically, her and the prince will share a soul), but if the prince marries another woman, she will die on dawn of the first day of their honeymoon and turn into sea foam. Sure enough, the prince marries another woman and the little mermaid throws herself off a cliff just as dawn breaks. Her body becomes foam, but instead of dying she becomes a spirit of air and is given the opportunity to do good deeds to earn a soul that will allow her to enter heaven. The little mermaid is never named in the story. Telltale likely chose "Nerissa" because it means "goddess of the sea".

    Johann is the Butcher from the "Rub-a-dub-dub" nursery rhyme. Nothing extra to report there. (Except that in the comics, he helps provide the meat for ---- and -----'s wedding reception.)

    The Jersey Devil is the Jersey Devil. A monster that was reportedly sighted in New Jersey in the 1800s, that was claimed to be a monster from Native American folklore. Last reported sighting was in 2010 (!). (It's seriously one of the more freaky American folklore monsters.) Another possible origin story is that in 1735 a witch named Deborah Leeds gave birth to her 13th child. The Devil was the father. The baby was born normally, but it transformed into a creature with hooves, a goat's head, bat wings, and a forked tail. Five years later a priest banished the Jersey Devil for a hundred years, which is why it wasn't seen again until the 1800s. In January of 1909 there was an outbreak of "Jersey Devil attacks" with hundreds of people claiming to have seen the creature, or been attacked by it, including police who claimed they fired their guns at it.

    The Crooked Man is the character from the nursery rhyme "There was a crooked man":

    "There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile. He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse, And they all lived together in a little crooked house."

    Apparently the Crooked Man is a metaphor for some Scotish politician who decided the border between Scotland and England or something. So, I guess he's supposed to be corrupt.

    Aunty Greenleaf is an American folklore character from the story of (drum roll) Aunty Greenleaf. Basically, she was a Native American witch that sold enchantments to the early pioneers. She would transform into a white deer at night. (When she's asked to "start at the beginning" in the game she says, "I was born in the forest to a jackal and a deer..." which is an allusion to her story.)

    Bloody Mary has varied origins, and appears to be a modern construct. There used to be a ritual performed by girls with a mirror that involved going up a stairs backwards at midnight with a candle in one hand and a mirror in the other. Supposedly, if done correctly, the ritual would show the girl the face of her future husband. Later, the rule was added that if the ritual was done incorrectly, instead of seeing her future husband, she might see "Bloody Mary" instead who would curse or kill the girl. Over time the husband part was dropped along with the stairs and the candle and now the ritual is involved only in truth or dare games where a girl looks into a mirror in the night and shouts "Bloody Mary" into the mirror five times. This may or may not cause Bloody Mary to appear and kill or curse the girl. Why "Bloody Mary" was used is a subject of debate. It is likely a reference to Queen Mary I of England, who suffered many miscarriages and stillbirths and became known as "Bloody Mary". This makes the most sense to me, because there can be no better opposite to having your future husband appear, than a powerful woman with a failed marriage that, though not necessarily barren, could only give birth to dead babies.

    Dr. Swineheart is the doctor from the Brothers Grimm story "The Three Army Surgeons". Three surgeons have a competition to see who is the best by performing surgery on themselves. One cuts off his hand, one removes his eyes, and the other removes his heart. They then intended to reattach the organs, but a cat steals them and eats them during the night. The one that cut out his own heart ends up replacing his heart with that of a pig, hence his name.

    Georgie Porgie is from the old English nursery rhyme of the same name:

    "Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie, Kissed the girls and made them cry, When the boys came out to play Georgie Porgie ran away."

    Hans was difficult to find. I had to search for fables (lowercase, not the comics) and fairy tale characters named Hans (which, as you might imagine, are plentiful) in my books. Hans is really stupid, and I mean to call him an idiot is an insult to idiots. His fairy tale is a Brothers Grimm tale called "Prudent Hans". In it, he goes back and forth between his house and this girl's house. The girl gives him gifts and he brings them back in the dumbest ways imaginable. Every time he gets back home his mother tells him what he should have done and that's how he handles the next gift he receives. So, the girl gives him a calf and he carries it home on his head. His mother tells him that he should have tied a rope around it's neck, led it home, and tied it to the manger. He goes to the girl for another gift and she offers him herself. So, logically, he ties a rope around her neck, leads her home, and ties her to the manger so she can eat some hay. He goes to his mother, tells her, and his mother says, "That was very stupid of you, Hans. You should have cast sheep's eyes at her." (Meaning he should have ogled her.) Hans promptly goes into the stable, plucks the eyes out of all the sheep, goes to the manger where the girl is tied up, and starts throwing the sheep eyes at her.

    Jack is the same Jack as Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, and the Jack that jumped over the candlestick.

    Tiny Tim is Tiny Tim from "A Christmas Carol". In my opinion, he's kind of out of place (unless Ebenezer Scrooge is hanging out somewhere in Fabletown too). But, then again, Mr. Toad is a newer fable (1900s?) so I guess it's okay.

    Grendel is the monster from Beowulf. In the epic, his arm gets ripped off by Beowulf. That's why in the game his arm looks loose and stitched on. It's also why it was so easy for Bigby to tear the arm off a titan without going full wolf.

    Cryer (if that's who that is) would be the boy who cried wolf.

    Toad is Mr. Toad from "The Wind in the Willows" and "Toad of Toad Hall". The character has also appeared in several Disney stories, including the ironically named "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad".

    Faith is Donkeyskin from the 1600s collection of children's stories "Histoires ou contes du temps passé", which later came to be known as "Mother Goose Stories", but my mother had an old English translation of the original that she would read to me out of (it's how I know most of this stuff). A lot of people had never heard of Faith's story before this game, but I grew up with it. :) The title of the story in the book is just "Donkeyskin". Faith's tale is also in Grimm's Fairy Tales, Tale no. 65, "Allerleirauh".

    Grimble is the troll under the bridge in the story of the Billie goats Gruff. He works as the security guard at the Business Office.

    • Thanks a lot! :) Especially for adding some of their story! I should read "Donkeyskin" and "The Three Army Surgeons", sounds interesting. I saw Beowulf the movie, but couldn't remember such a monster :o "The Wind in the Willows" and "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad": I'm ashamed that I've never heard of these. I'll look it up.

      And I see. American folklore characters are biggest my weakness as european :D

    • Hans is from Brothers Grimms tales. Clever Hans would go out to see Gretel every day. Every day she would give him an item of some sort that would be of use but he would misuse it. He really is quit a stupid character in the tale which explains why he's so dumb in the game. Quite an amusing tale actually. Here's a link to it so you can read it:

  • Okay, the comment formatting on this site is crap. The lists keep automating, and I can't fix it. I go to edit it, and it shows what I originally wrote. I hit post and it displays completely different. What gives?

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    JonesJ BANNED

    I had completely forgotten about the Crooked Man. It's disturbing....

  • To add to the list:

    Mary - From that creepy urban legend: Bloody Mary. I don't want to go into too much detail with that one.

    Hans - From an old fairytale called Clever Hans. Its about a boy who ruins his relationship with a girl for constantly screwing things up. The title is ironic to the character.

    Auntie Greenleaf - From Auntie Greenleaf and the White Deer.

    For Holly and Vivian, I don't think anybody knows where they're from.

  • I'll add this to my comment above: I forgot to mention the most important thing about Grendel. In his story he has his arm cut off by the hero. That's why in the game his arm looks loose and stitched on. It's also why it was so easy for Bigby to tear the arm off a titan without going full wolf.

  • Not sure if links are allowed, but here's Disney's "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad":

  • Found Hans, added him to my first comment.

  • Wasn't Grendel killed by Beowulf in the story? I could have sworn that he was.

    • He was, but the big bad wolf was killed by the woodsman in the original story, and the little mermaid 'died' in hers. The fact is a lot of the old fairy tale characters didn't have happy endings in the original stories, so Fables takes a few liberties with some and adds some insane survival stories to others.

      • Yeah, I guess so. It just seemed like Grendel's death was a little more on the confirmed side of things, considering Beowulf stood over his dead corpse after he had bled out from losing his arm.

  • Note that Fables takes some real liberties with the definition of "fable", so they're not all ancient legends or fairy tales. Mr. Toad and Tiny Tim are fairly iconic characters, for instance, but it's not as if The Wind in the Willows or A Christmas Carol are really in the same ballpark as the story of the Three Little Pigs.

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