Bears permeate media, but did you know that many of the cuddly bears you know from pop culture are based on some of the most violent bears in history? Well, it’s true. Behind every silly cartoon bear is a tale of death, loss of life, and people not being alive anymore.
#1 Smokey the Bear is Based on a Pyromaniacal Grizzly Bear from North Dakota
Wildlife authorities recorded stories of a grizzly bear in the mountains of North Dakota who became obsessed with setting fire to small villages after an accident involving a gas station, a bee hive, and a box of matches. The bear’s first experience with fire may have been an accident but after that, it became an addiction. The ursine maniac burned down campgrounds, forests, small towns, and lodges; always finding a fuel source and a way to light it; often using campfires left by humans that had not been fully extinguished, and discarded, lit cigarette butts to ignite the blaze. Signs were posted with an image of the bear standing over the charred corpses of some campers who had left their fire going with the slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” The bear earned his nickname, “Smoke Demon,” because of the haunting look in his eyes as he stood in the smoke of his destruction. Over time, marketing people got their hands on the image and tried to make it “less dark”. Over time, the image was made more tame until the Smokey we know today was born.
#2 Bear in the Blue House is Based on a Bear Who Systematically Decimated Blue Houses
Nobody knows how one of the most horrific tales of ursine terror became an adorable kids’ show. The original bear in the big blue house was simply a murderous beast with an affinity for houses painted cool shades of blue. The beast often entered in the early morning, driving the family out or eating them in their beds. The creature would go on to devour everything in the fridge, pantry, fish tank and garbage cans. Furniture would be torn to pieces, drywall caved in, water pipes busted, ceiling fans torn down, windows smashed, paint cans dumped, tiles torn up and ice cube trays dumped and left out on the counter, not refilled. The beast always managed to elude authorities until an expensive operation was put in place to defeat the beast. Law enforcement and wildlife service personnel constructed a blue house near the forest and filled it with delicious meats. When the bear inevitably entered, the house was blown up using three hundred pounds of TNT. Disney bought the rights to the story and, after many script revisions, Bear in the Big Blue House was born.
#3 The Real Yogi Bear Didn’t Steal Picnic Baskets, He Stole People’s Right to Live
The fun-loving, wisecracking bear of Hanna Barbara fame has his origins in something much darker than basket thievery. The original Yogi lived in the Smokey Mountains and became obsessed with eating picnickers. The bear often struck with such quickness that authorities would arrive only to find a scattered scene of horror. At one point, the bear tore into a family so fast that the necktie of one of his victims became entangled on his neck and stayed there. The green tie became a flag of death for peaceful picnickers. Eventually, a decoy picnic was set up with lifelike, cybernetic picnickers made of explosives. Yogi took the bait and was blown to smithereens but his legacy was carried on in his famous cartoon counterpart.
#4 The Original Care Bear Stare Caused your Innards to Melt Slowly
Nobody knows how the original “Stare Bears” of Salmonhook, AK got their abilities. Stories were told of a sleuth of mother bears who would form a line and stare down other wildlife. The victims, often moose, caribou or elk, would freeze up as their eyes began to sizzle in their sockets. Soon their insides would liquefy and evacuate from the animal’s orifices. The bears would proceed to devour the charred beasts. But one day the bears faced off with a group of hunters and their taste for human flesh became insatiable. At first, they were only going after hikers and campers but eventually they made their way to the small mountain town of Antler Hill and took out every living person including police and military who had arrived to stop them. The decision was made by the government to bomb the city with nukes so that the entire place would be obliterated from existence. They did not want history to record such a horrible occurrence. Nobody knows if the “stare bears” were in the blast, but you will never find mention of Antler Hill in any history book. Some say they are still at large.
#5 Winnie the Pooh Was a Honey-Drunk Brown Bear Who Enslaved Millions of Bee Keepers and Crapped Mountains of Honey
The original Winnie the Pooh was anything but silly. The real bear was from the mountains of Russia. The local villagers called the creature “Medzver” (the Honey Beast) because it obsessively attacked honey plantations and devoured so much honey that it would have fits of sticky, liquid, golden diarrhea. Though the bear hungered only for honey and never human flesh, this beast still made plenty of human lives a living hell. Once the creature realized men could harvest honey, it single-handedly enslaved millions, forcing them to work on large honey plantations so the bear could be fed honey with a constantly running firehose. The bear died of diabetes atop a mountain of its own golden feces, earning it the nickname “poo bear”.
Editor in Chief of BNN. Author and illustrator of Bearmageddon, Axe Cop, Dickinson Killdeer’s Guide to Bears of the Apocalypse: Ursine Abominations of the End Times and How to Defeat Them.