Beauty and the Beast Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, there was a young woman named Beauty who asked her father for a rose (unlike her more frivolous sisters that asked for material possessions). During his failed travels (returning without gifts or money), the father stumbled upon a castle during a storm and there plucked a rose from the most magnificent garden. A beast roared in anger, and demanded the life of the merchant’s daughter. Of her own choosing, Beauty stayed with the Beast to save her father.
Every night (depending on the version), Beast asked Beauty to marry him. Every night she said no. But over time, Beauty came to recognize the goodness in the Beast, to care for him as a friend. Feeling homesick, however, the Beast allowed Beauty to return home, with the promise she would soon return.
Nevertheless, Beauty became consumed by her families’ selfish wants rather than her own promise, and thus, Beauty broke her promise to the Beast. But Beauty being a good person, quickly remembered the Beast and her promise. When she returned to the palace, she discovered the Beast dying from heartbreak in the rose garden.
Fearing she was too late, Beauty realized how much she truly cared for the Beast. Beauty then told the Beast she loved him, and a tear fell onto him. Suddenly, he transformed into a handsome, if slightly aged, Prince. As it turned out, the Beast had been cursed by an ugly fairy he had been cruel to. Only true love, despite his ugliness, could break the curse. Beauty’s love did just that. The two were married of course and lived happily ever after.
This is a story most of us know still: of a beauty choosing to love a beast. The elements of this fairy tale remain familiar to modern day culture because various retellings of the fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast,” have been told and retold over the years, particularly in the new film medium. From Jean Cocteu’s famous film, “La Belle et La Bete” (1946), Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast (1991), to the upcoming live action version starring Emma Watson, the tale continues to capture the hearts of audiences.
All of these versions closely follow Beaumont’s shortened retelling of the literary fairy tale first written by Madame de Villeneuve in the 1700s. Although Villeneuve and Beaumont forever changed the face of the animal bridegroom tale, traces can be seen as far back as “Cupid and Psyche.” The story changed over time, and today is no different.
In The Meanings of Beauty and the Beast, Jerry Griswold writes that “echoes of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ can be seen in all its story cousins that tell tales about quasi-humans whether they be werewolves” or even “vampires” (19). The Beauty character can still almost always see goodness in the beast and chooses to love him despite his monstrosity in whatever form. This kind of story can be seen in several modern day love stories found on television. From the vampires (the ones most closely resembling the fairy tale), to the metaphorical beasts seeking redemption (a form of transformation), here are some TV couples to love because they are so clearly influenced by the folklore and fairy tales that came before.
16 TV Beauty and the Beast Couples
(In No Particular Order)
#1: Moonlight’s Mick and Beth
In Moonlight, Mick (a vampire) falls for a human reporter named Beth. Fighting being a literal monster and seeking redemption for past sins, Mick and Beth are the epitome of a “Beauty and the Beast” couple on the small screen. In one of the most telling scenes in the series, Beth walks in on a fully vamped out Mick as he refuses to look at her face. Like many beasts, he hates who he is, but can Beth’s humanity help save him?
Certainly, the show played with the idea of a cure, and at one point Mick temporarily becomes human again. Canceled too soon, we will never know truly how the show would have played out. Still, for those of you searching for a romantic “Beauty and the Beast” type love story that is truly epic, you can’t get better than Moonlight. It should be noted that one half of the showrunners was Ron Koslow, the creator of the ‘80s TV Series, Beauty and the Beast.
#2: Buffy and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
When I was a teenager, you just couldn’t get any better than the romance between Buffy and Angel. How could a vampire slayer and a vampire ever have a happy ending? Turns out they don’t (at least not yet), however, the story they did tell was definitely influenced by “Beauty and the Beast.” Buffy, despite everyone else’s misgivings, loves Angel even though he is a beast with a soul. His quest for redemption (as he used to be a soulless killer) furthers this arc with the promise that perhaps one day he will be rewarded with peace, and an inner transformation of the soul. Perhaps one day that will include a happy ending with Buffy.
#3: Buffy and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy had more than one beast to love. The second came in the form of Spike. I’ll be honest and admit I wasn’t on board with this relationship in season 6 because it felt more like Buffy acting out her depression rather than through real love. Then season 7 happened, and the Spike/Buffy dynamic became something new, something entirely influenced by Beauty and the Beast archetypes.
Because Spike’s love for Buffy was so strong, he literally transformed into a vampire with a soul rather than only a soulless monster. Spike then sought redemption, all with the help of a woman who could see goodness in him and could learn to care for a beast. He even achieves redemption in the end when he sacrifices his life to save everyone.
#4: Chloe and Davis from Smallville
In one of the clearest influences on television to date, season 8 in the TV series Smallville told a story of a paramedic who suffered from black outs. Turns out, Davis (the paramedic) was turning into a monster called Doomsday, an alien beast destined to kill Clark Kent.
When he meets Chloe Sullivan, an empathetic woman, he finds hope and feels drawn to her. Even the beast side of Davis feels connected to Chloe, carrying her in his arms in a scene that clearly pays homage to Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete. Soon, Davis discovers he has been engineered to be a monster, a killer, and fights against this curse. Only Chloe can help bring out his human side.
Sadly, this story does not have a happy ending (not all of these tales do), and the writers force a horrible ending on the beast, where Davis chooses to be a beast on the inside as well. Still, most of this story (until the poorly written, jump the shark end) was very compelling to watch.
#5: Betty and Daniel from Ugly Betty
Ugly Betty plays out the familiar tale without a hint of the supernatural. Instead of a vampire or monster of some kind, we just have a spoiled rich, womanizer guy who must learn goodness from the “ugly” but actually beautiful Betty.
Re-watching the show in the not too distant past, I realized how much I missed on a week to week basis. There could have been no other ending but Daniel and Betty (something Gio figured out before I did). Over the years, Betty’s purity sees past Daniel’s selfishness. She brings out the best in him, and over time, Daniel truly transforms (Betty does too I might add) into someone better, someone worthy of Betty’s love. I promise if you pay attention that the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tropes will really begin to come into focus…
#6: Klaus and Camille from The Originals
A recent TV addition to the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ archetype, Klaus and Camille from The Originals is almost textbook Beauty and the Beast. Klaus, a spoiled vampire King of New Orleans is a monster on the inside and the outside, cursed by his parents into becoming a vampire/werewolf hybrid beast (a word commonly sprinkled throughout the series).
There isn’t much good in this Beast, but Cami sees it in him. She, like Klaus’ brother Elijah believes he can find redemption. There’s almost this Jane Eyre quality to the relationship (a book also with touches of the fairy tale in it), where the Beast feels drawn to the compassionate soul who listens to him. Only time will tell if the show follows through with a transformation. Though Klaus is already less beastly around the pure and good Camille (a French name mind you), he still remains a beast.
#7: The Doctor and Rose from Doctor Who
Alien/Human romances are an interesting way to play the animal bridegroom tale type, but the relationship between the Doctor and Rose does much more than that. When the Doctor and Rose first meet, the Doctor had just killed all of his own people to end the Time War. He’s broken and suffering from the beast within.
Then along comes Rose (a telling name I say) who doesn’t care that he’s an alien. Rose even helps the Doctor in his darker moments. But the influence doesn’t stop there. After being separated by a parallel universe, Rose makes her way back to the Doctor only for the Doctor to almost be killed by a Dalek (this makes more sense if you watch the show).
In order to prevent his next regeneration (taking on a new face to live on), he puts his regenerative energy into his cut off hand (I did mention he’s an alien…). By doing so, a part Time Lord/part human grows from the hand, the Doctor splitting into two. The new ‘human’ Doctor went through a transformation similar to that of the Beast.
In order to be with Rose, the Doctor became part human, a man that could grow old with Rose. While Rose is clearly disappointed by the loss of her full Time Lord “Beast” (much like Beauty is often disappointed with the loss of her magnificent beast in the more ordinary Prince), the two can finally be together in a sort of tragic kind of way.
#8: Damon and Elena from The Vampire Diaries
While Stefan and Elena also closely resemble the archetype, I went with Damon and Elena since Damon was always presented as the more beastly vampire brother. A monster through and through, Damon had one redeeming quality: his love for Katherine which then transferred over to the more pure and good Elena.
Elena, like several Beauty characters, feels drawn to the Beast because she sees goodness in him when no one else does. Elena does just that with Damon, though it takes her a long time to figure out her complicated feelings.
As a side note, I should point out that the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ archetype isn’t just about Beauty saving Beast (though sometimes she causes his death), but also about the Beast saving her from her own loneliness. Sometimes only a broken character can see potential in those fractured individuals. Sometimes, only they can save each other.