[[quoteright:350:[[HairRaisingHare http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/easter-fun.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Sure, she's not scared now, ''[[FridgeHorror but how is she going to react when she sees that photo?]]'']]
[[caption-width-right:350:[-See more images on [[ImageLinks/NightmareFuel Image Links Wiki]].-] ]]

AccidentalNightmareFuel refers to things in media that scare people even though they were never meant to. Something that was meant to amuse or entertain to the audience would otherwise result in frightening people to the point of having nightmares. It's particularly common in media aimed at children and general audiences, as kids (usually) get scared more easily than adults, but can be seen pretty much anywhere by anyone, due to the extremely subjective nature of horror.

In short: It wasn't intended to be scary, but it turns out to be anyway.

'''The usual suspects of AccidentalNightmareFuel include:'''

* Puppet, animatronic, claymation, or CG characters who were meant to be cute, but who instead look like they crawled out from the [[NightmareValley darkest depths]] of the UncannyValley.
* [[DerangedAnimation Surreal animation]], which can bring about a variety of unintentional horrors.
* [[FamilyUnfriendlyViolence Over-the-top slapstick violence]], such as [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSTL3AidX4o a character getting run over by a steamroller and turning into a flat photograph]]. It may seem funny to you, but imagine looking at such an event through the eyes of a literal-minded 6-year old.
* Sudden [[ArtShift change(s) in medium]] between live-action, traditional animation, CGI, and/or {{Claymation}}, especially if it comes without warning and changes back just as quickly.
* LetsMeetTheMeat, aka, disturbingly displayed talking food.
* Clowns, and not just [[MonsterClown evil]] [[VillainousHarlequin ones]].
* [[UncannyValley Unnerving]] children's toys.

There is an excellent discussion about this phenomenon and its possible psychological origins in [[http://www.avclub.com/content/node/79299 this blog post]] at ''TheOnion A. V. Club''. And check out the website [[http://www.kindertrauma.com/ Kinder Trauma]] if you dare.

Contrast with NightmareRetardant, {{Narm}}, and FauxHorrific. If the offending material can make you sick, you've got NauseaFuel. For deliberately scary (but not ''very'' scary) kids media, see DefangedHorrors. VileVillainSaccharineShow is when a villain causes this in a show far more light-hearted than one would expect that sort of character to appear in. If it becomes scary only in hindsight, it's FridgeHorror.

Related: UncannyValley

!![[center:This is a FanSpeak definition. Please put examples in NightmareFuel.]]

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