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Once upon a time, there was a brother and sister named Hansel and Gretel. Their father was a widower who had remarried, and the family was having hard times. The stepmother insists they abandon the children in the woods and their father is spineless enough to go along with it. Hansel overhears the plan and comes up with the idea of leaving a Trail of Bread Crumbs from the bread that was supposed to be their lunch, so they can come back; unfortunately, the birds eat all the crumbs, so by the time they decide to follow the trail home, there isn't one.
They wander around for a while, and then they find a Gingerbread House. They are very hungry, so they eat from it. The owner of the house, a Wicked Witch, calls out that she knows someone is eating her house; Hansel and Gretel don't reply. The third time, the witch goes out to meet them. She seems surprisingly friendly, and gives them a huge feast.
The next day, Hansel is in a fattening pen, and Gretel is a servant. It seems that the witch eats children, once they are properly prepared. There is a Happy Ending for Hansel and Gretel, of course... the witch asks Gretel to light the oven and Gretel pretends she can't. When the witch bends over to do it, Gretel kicks her into her own oven.
There are television versions of this tale, but few film versions for reasons that should be clear.
The 19th century composer Engelbert Humperdinck adapted the fairy tale into an Opera (premiered 1893). The opera in turn was adapted into a 1954 stop-motion animation film.
"Hansel and Gretel" contains the following tropes:
- Baba Yaga: The witch has many similarities with the Baba Yaga of Russian fairy tales.
- Brother-Sister Team: Our heroes.
- Darker and Edgier: The Newgrounds series Gretel and Hansel is very, very creepy.
- Distressed Dude: Hansel is locked up in a cage and fattened up to be eaten, and it's left to his sister to bail him out.
- Family-Unfriendly Death
- Gingerbread House
- Happily Ever After
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The witch's death.
- I'm a Humanitarian
- Kill It with Fire
- Level Ate
- The Lost Woods
- Murder by Cremation
- Nightmare Fuel: In the stop-motion Hansel and Gretel: An Opera Fantasy, the kids hear Ominous Latin Chanting, then they see something moving through the trees, then they see eyes on the trees, a tree stump smiling at them, the light of a lantern scurying through the woods, and then Gretel sees ghosts coming towards them.
- In the Cannon Movie Tales version, as Hansel and Gretel got lost deep into the woods, they hear mock laughter and then an eerie shriek. They hear their names whisper in the dark as they sit near a camp fire.
- No Name Given: The parents and the witch. Though in Humperdinck's opera, the parents are Peter and Gertrud and the witch is Rosine Leckermaul (literally, "Rosina Tastymuzzle").
- Offing the Offspring
- Parental Abandonment
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: The Super Why! version consisted of the kids eating the witch's roof, the witch going "how dare you eat my roof!", the heroes helping H&G say sorry, and the witch accepting the apology and giving them house-shaped cookies.
- Rule of Three
- Sugary Malice: The witch.
- Temporary Bulk Change: Hansel fattens up rapidly over what appears to be just a few days.
- Trail of Bread Crumbs: Trope Namer, Trope Maker and Trope Codifier, and possible Ur Example, together with Hop O My Thumb.
- Wealthy Ever After: They return with the witch's treasure.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In at least one version, Hansel and Gretel are escorted home by a magic duck...who the father then kills and cooks for dinner.
- Wicked Stepmother: In most versions of the tale. It's worth mentioning however that in the first version recorded by the Grimm brothers, it's the kids' actual biological mother. Apparently some people found that too shocking, so they changed it.
- Averted in Humperdinck's opera.
- Wicked Witch