The story introduces three male goats, sometimes identified in the story as youngster, father and grandfather, but more often described as brothers. In other renditions, there is a baby or child goat, mama goat and papa goat. In any case, there is no grass left for them to eat near where they live, so they must cross a river to get to a "sæter" (a meadow) or hillside on the other side of a stream in order to eat and get fat. To do so, they must first cross a bridge, under which lives a fearsome troll who eats anyone who passes that way.
The smallest billy goat is the first to cross and is stopped abruptly by the troll, who threatens to "gobble him up!" The little goat convinces him to wait for another slightly bigger billy goat to come across because he is larger and a more gratifying feast. The greedy troll agrees and lets the smallest of the goats cross.
The medium-sized goat passes next. He is more cautious than his brother, but is also stopped by the troll and given the same threat. The second billy goat is allowed to cross as well after he tells the troll to wait for the biggest billy goat because he is the biggest.
The third billy goat then gets on the bridge and is stopped by the hungry troll. When the troll gets up on the bridge, however, the third billy goat is so big that he easily kicks the troll off the bridge. The troll falls into the stream. From then on the bridge is safe, and all three goats are able to go to the rich fields around the summer farm in the hills. They all live happily ever after. The troll still lives under the bridge, but has not bothered anyone again.
- Three Little Pigs