[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sao_resize_1188.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:'''[[ScrewThisImOuttaHere NOPENOPENOPENOPE]]''']]

* The first arc is prone to a mixture of this and FridgeHorror.
** The premise of the ''Aincrad'' arc. 10,000 people think they signed up for a game, and instead they were really signing up for a war, and they don't even get to go through basic training first. As many of them die in the first month as do in the next two years. EverythingIsTryingToKillYou, and some of the players start killing each other. The entire ''Aincrad'' arc is scary.
** [[PlayerKilling Player killers]] are a large nuisance in [=MMOs=] in the current day, but when combined with the above premise, they turn into a fearsome threat. Even if you have the in-game prowess to defeat them in a straight fight, there's nothing preventing them from fighting dirty. Even worse, there's an entire guild consisting of these people.
** The game uses a karma system (a gem hovering above the player's head) to denote how many players you've killed, regardless of reason. It does not distinguish whether you've killed out of malicious intent or for self-defense. It also only registers the kills you've actively participated in -- being an accomplice will not change the gem's color. So while you can safely bet that any red-gemmed player is an active player killer, [[ParanoiaFuel there's no telling about those with other gem colors]].
** Finally, the game forces your avatar to use your physical features. So even if you've managed to avoid dying to player killers and escape the game entirely, those player killers still ''know what you look like'' and can hunt you down if they so choose. This is actually explored in the ''Gun Gale Online'' arc.
* Skull Reaper, the very last boss that they fight, [[spoiler: just before the reveal that Heathcliff was actually Kayaba]], pictured above. No wonder everyone was running away in fear.
** It's actually much worse than it looks. It killed several players with a OneHitKill attack.
* In ''A Murder Case in the Area'', [[spoiler:Grimlock arranged the murder of his guildmaster and ''real life wife'' Griselda because she actually rose to the challenge that SAO provided and she was no longer as [[ExtremeDoormat submissive and dependent on him]] as she used to be IRL.]]
* The opening to Episode 15. Everything's nice and calm and peaceful. And then the world breaks.
* When people come out of their virtual imprisonment, both in SAO & ALO, they're disoriented, their muscles are atrophied, etc. They're helpless. Think about what would've happened if [[spoiler: [[FridgeHorror Kirito hadn't stopped Sugou's knife attack outside the hospital where Asuna just woke up. After he'd already declared he was going to rape her while comatose.]]]]
* Poor Asuna. Her example actually crosses with FridgeHorror if you analyze what she had to go through. First off, it is implied she may have had no experience with gaming ever before, since, in her misfortune she got into SAO out of curiosity by borrowing her brother's [=NerveGear=] (who could not play on the first day), only to find out she is stuck [[spoiler:for over two years]] in a virtual world where there's death around every corner. Just look how mentally broken she is when introduced early in the story. [[spoiler:And then, after SAO is completed, what next? Instead of finally achieving her freedom, she is imprisoned inside another game by a friend of her family, who turns out to be an AxCrazy pervert threatening her to rape and brainwash her into submission.]] Kirito is the only thing that keeps her sane.
** Now think about Asuna's brother. He lends his little sister a game while he was away, only to find out that she was caught in a trap meant for him. His situation is obviously not unique. How many parents and older siblings gave Sword Art Online to children as a gift? How many of those children died because of that gift? Survivor guilt ain't limited to the SAO players.
* When Asuna's former escort [[spoiler: reveals to be an AxCrazy killer who almost suceeded in murdering Kirito. All with a poison that paralyzes him.]] Thank goodness Asuna had Kirito on her friend list.
* Sugou might as well be the most sadistic asshole to walk the earth. Just before his defeat, [[spoiler: [[MoralEventHorizon he molests Asuna after stripping her. IN FRONT OF KIRITO.]]]]
** If [[spoiler: Sugou hadn't been stopped by Kirito, he would have raped Asuna, who was ''in a coma,'' in her hospital bed.]]
** The [[spoiler:threat of rape]] is bad enough. But then there's also that he was almost certainly planning to use his [[spoiler:mind control technology to make her love ''him'' (or some sick alternative) by manipulating her emotions and '''altering her memories''', which may also have included '''''completely erasing her memories of Kirito'''''! And there's no telling what he might have done to Kirito himself.]] In fact, this whole scene is also kind of a TearJerker, as well.
* [[spoiler:Sugou's injuries from Kirito curb-stomping him in ALO were pretty gnarly. Before said beatdown, Sugou warned Kirito, while torturing him, that when the game's pain inhibitor dropped below level 3, it would affect his body in the real world. Then Kirito gets administrative control over Sugou and set ''his'' pain inhibitor to '''''zero'''''. When Sugou appears in the real world trying to kill Kirito, he's going partially blind in one eye and has dove off the deep end. Granted, [[PayEvilUntoEvil the son of a bitch had it coming]], but still...pretty gnarly.]]
* Death Gun. To the average person, the idea that they could die in a game is already frightening. To SAO players, it's living through the infamous "death game" all over again, [[spoiler: especially since two of the people behind Death Gun were members of Laughing Coffin]].
** The first victim Death Gun claims is killed ''in a livestream''. One moment, he's bragging about having won the last [=BoB=] tournament, and the very next, [[NightmareFace his face contorts in pain]] and he clutches his chest before disconnecting.
** What's even scarier is the secret behind how Death Gun kills. [[spoiler: Someone breaks into your house and gives you a lethal injection. If your consciousness is inside a game, [[FridgeHorror what's protecting your body]]?]]
*** [[spoiler:And the threat doesn't have to be malicious, either. What happens if your house catches fire? You won't even hear the smoke detector!]]
*** It is pointed out in the Fairy Dance arc that Amuspheres are designed so that if you get called by family police hospital or fire departments you are automatically pulled out of the game and in the Mother's Rosario arc we learn that loud noises such as someone shouting at you cause a warning to appear in game to tell you to log out.
* The deaths of the Black Cats, specifically Ducker, who is swarmed by Dark Dwarves who immediately butcher him with their pickaxes, with Ducker screaming horribly with each hit until he finally dies.
** Even worse [[spoiler: when their leader, who was off buying their new guild house, comes back, finds them all dead, and leaps into the abyss to commit suicide.]]
* Anti-crystal zones: Traps where deadly monsters attack players who are unable to retreat because their teleportation crystals don't work. It gets worse: they're not anti-teleportation zones, they're anti-crystal zones, which means that healing crystals don't work either. SAO was already dangerous enough, but these traps (including some boss chambers, which are unavoidable) disable a player's two most important lifelines: the ability to flee by teleportation and the most efficient means of healing.
* Sinon's BloodKnight tendencies are bad enough that Kirito actually suspects her of being Death Gun.
* Kirito's memories of the members of Laughing Coffin he killed haunts him to no end in Season 2, Episode 7. [[http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140816181141/swordartonline/images/3/31/Crimson_Memories.png This image speaks for itself.]]
** Sinon's aren't any better. Just look at when she saw that Death Gun's signature gun [[spoiler: was the same one she used to kill the bank robber years ago.]]
* Death Gun paralyzes his victims before killing them. Kuradeel also implied that this was a common tactic in Laughing Coffin. The victims were fully aware of what was happening and completely helpless.
** And In-Universe, the idea that while Death Gun is trying to kill you in the game, [[ParanoiaFuel another one is waiting in your room/apartment/whatever, just waiting for the right moment to inject you]] - and you're unable to do anything about it at all. The sheer imagery of this attempted murder is enough to send Sinon into a near panic-attack.
* Shino Asada's backstory: To put it this way, her father died in a car crash when she was ''younger than 2'', forcing her and her mother to move north from Tokyo. Just as things were going normal, she ends up in the crosshairs of a robbery, culminating in her grabbing the gun during a struggle and unwittingly shooting the robber dead. It's already bad enough but [[FromBadToWorse it gets a whole lot worse]]: Not only is her mother shocked in horror at the sight of her daughter holding a gun and having seemingly killed someone but she's treated like a pariah. Any attempts at therapy are all for naught as they hold onto their culturally-enforced disgust for guns and those who use them, as well as the belief that children are inherently innocent, and for her to have killed someone, even in self-defense, seems to them as meaning she's got the mindset of a cold-blooded killer.
* The look on [[spoiler:[[NightmareFace Kyouji's face]] as he's proposing to Shino. It's at this point it becomes clear that he's lost it. Shino did tell him to wait for her and was probably sincere, but she wasn't expecting him to be this when the time came. After she pushes him away, he decides that since she won't have him, he'll just rape and kill her, then kill himself to join her in the next life, but not before confessing the entire Death Gun conspiracy to her. It's more terrifying when you look at his face before Kirito manages to save her in a nick of time.]]
** The most unsettling thing of the above is that [[spoiler: Shino was almost raped by someone she had known and trusted for ''years.'' Even worse, unlike the situation with Asuna and Sugou, she got along really well with Kyouji and enjoyed being around him. It reflects the grim reality that many, many rapes in real life are done not by complete strangers, but by somebody the victim is well-acquainted with.]]
* The fact that of the SiblingsInCrime in the Death Gun conspiracy, the one who came up with the idea was the one who wasn't an SAO survivor.
* Kirito's severe depression in Red Nosed Reindeer. Even before he turns explicitly suicidal and resolves to banzai charge the bosses, he's displaying multiple warning signs of contemplating suicide: brazenly reckless behavior, insomnia, and cutting himself off from what few friends he has. Even scarier is the fact that this stuff is real: severe, untreated PTSD can easily degenerate into severe depression and suicide.
* ''Infinity Moment/Hollow Fragment''
** The increasing frequency of traps in the last few floors count as [[JumpScare Jump Scares]] even if the player has little chance of actually dying.
** [[spoiler:The 2nd and 3rd rounds of the Floor 100 boss. In the 2nd round, you have a bunch of UncannyValley MHCP with [[RedEyesTakeWarning glowing red eyes]] trying to kill you. In the 3rd round, you have to fight a [[FanDisservice giant mutant Strea]].]]
** [[spoiler:The situation with Sugou/Alberich is even worse than in canon. Not only is he able to abuse GM privileges to sexually harass and kidnap players like in ALO, he can now take advantage of the fact that he's in a DeadlyGame to actually kill people via a slow and incurable poison. Worse yet, Kayaba is too busy dealing with glitches and such to stop him, meaning the raid team would have been screwed without Strea's HeroicSacrifice.]]
** Asuna worries that if all the blame is shifted on Kayaba, people like [[spoiler:Sugou]] could [[KarmaHoudini get away with their crimes]] and retaliate against them. She's ProperlyParanoid considering the post-Aincrad events in canon, especially in the case of the Laughing Coffin. [[spoiler:Luckily, Sugou ''is'' put away for his crimes at the end of the game, losing his position in his company and being locked up]].
** In the sidequest to recruit [[spoiler:Hollow Sachi, you have to enter a room that looks suspiciously like the one where the real Sachi died. Then you have to fight off two mobs that can easily kill Hollow Sachi if you didn't level her first, effectively recreating that nightmare scenario.]]
* How about sleep-[[PlayerKilling PK]] in SAO? Towns and other settlements are supposed to be safe zones where nothing can lower your HP, other than dueling, which requires your explicit consent. Thus, while within one you can rest easy, knowing you're never in danger. And this is critically important when what you initially thought was only a game has become something that could really [[AllDeathsFinal cost you your life]]. And then, one day someone [[LoopholeAbuse discovers a way around it]], which involves exploiting the duel system: just by sneaking up on you while you're asleep and moving your finger to touch the popup window, they can fool the system into believing you've accepted a duel, and proceed to murder you while you're most vulnerable. And the worst part? Unlike in the real world, you [[DeepSleep might not wake up even while under attack]].[[note]]It doesn't help that players are not made to feel any pain, which, while undesirable for having fun in a mere game, could be a life saver in this scenario.[[/note]] So now you have to [[ParanoiaFuel live with the knowledge]] that even in a supposedly "safe" zone, if you've pissed off the wrong person, or have an item worth killing for, or you're just plain unlucky, you just might [[SlainInTheirSleep go to sleep and that would be the last thing you ever knew]].
* In Season 2, Episode 20 Asuna is suddenly disconnected from the game, The screen turns to a white tunnel and fades out, she comes back to reality to find her mother standing over her with the power cable to Asuna's Amusphere still in hand and angrily reminds her that she warned that she would "pull the plug" next time she is late for dinner. It doesn't seem to occur to her that "pulling the plug" might have some unfortunate implications to a girl who had been traumatized by over two years of being comatose or that barging into her bedroom while she was unconscious might also trigger some trauma since Sugou had threatened to rape her while in a similar state.
* We went this far without mentioning the [=NerveGear=] in and of itself? Much of the danger from the Aincrad arc, and the reason players were stuck in there to begin with, is because the [=NerveGear=] was ''designed to flash-fry your brain'' if you died ingame or if someone from the outside world tried to remove it. Though some characters [[HopeSpot briefly brought up the option of unplugging the [=NerveGear=], it has an internal battery]] and that internal battery could be used to... you guessed it... activate the brain-frying procedure. Kayaba had it all figured out. [[FridgeHorror Now think about how Kirito still uses his old NerveGear and there's no evidence, in the anime at least, the brain-fry function was removed. It's still there, dormant.]]
** He did get it back from Seijiro. [[spoiler:Since Seijiro's unit handles all the fallout from [=SAO=] it's mostly safe to assume they have some techies who disabled that backup battery and brain fryer.]] Also, unlike [=SAO=], other [=VR=] games probably have no coding that prompts the brain fryer to function upon player death, as they are built for the Amusphere, which has no such feature.
** Also let us not forget that in the novels, Sugou points out that since Kirito was stupid enough to connect to ALO using his [=NerveGear=], if Kirito falls prey to him, he will join the 300 poor souls he is experimenting on!
* DirtyBusiness aside, Kirito himself is a heroic variation of TheDreaded due to his reputation of being a walking NightmareFuel who is not above [[KickTheSonOfABitch disposing]] [[PlayerKilling Player Killers]], effectively making him a [[SerialKillerKiller Player Killer]] [[BullyHunter Killer]]. [[spoiler:It gets even worse in ''Alicization Lasting'': Want to know how screwed Gabriel, [=PoH=], and the GDS forces are by the time Kirito wakes up from his AngstComa? They're '''''[[FateWorseThanDeath royally]] [[KarmicDeath screwed]]!''''']] There's a reason why he isn't called "[[RedBaron The Black Swordsman]]" for nothing.
** [[spoiler:[=PoH=]'s [[FateWorseThanDeath final fate]] is filled with this. While Kirito's brutal smackdown of [=PoH=] is very satisfying, the way he finishes the fight is also terrifying: Kirito turns [=PoH=] into a tree and tells him to pray that his allies will bail him out, otherwise he's stuck in there, rotting for the rest of his life until someone else cuts him down with an axe. Kirito shows no remorse for the bastard and even admits to Sinon flat-out that [[IRegretNothing he didn't regret doing it]].]]
*** [[spoiler:Made even worse when [=PoH=], former leader of the Laughing Coffin, has been reduced into a whimpering lapdog as the branches sprouting from his body are wrapping him. As Kirito puts it, [=PoH=] will spend ten or more years of isolation and insanity, and then die after another 30 years of brain activity.]]
*** [[spoiler:This is rather forgivable, compared to [=PoH=] [[IHaveYourWife bragging about]] [[ColdBloodedTorture torturing Asuna]] [[BullyingADragon in front of a morally disgusted Kirito]], and he would've done so if it weren't for the latter [[KickTheSonOfABitch making a quick work on him]].]]
*** [[spoiler:And if Kirito hadn't got back up back then, [=PoH=] would have logged out, [[SlashedThroat slit Asuna's throat]] while she is still in the STL, and make Kirito watch as the love of his life slowly dies. DownerEnding indeed.]]
*** [[spoiler:And earlier, as the Japanese players (the main characters included) are rounded up by the Chinese and Korean players led by Vassago himself. Most of them bloodied, their weapons, armour and equipment removed. Basically, the Japanese players have been turned into virtual prisoners of war. Surely nobody signed up for this horrible experience!]]
** [[spoiler:Gabriel's [[KarmicDeath demise]] is a goddamn frightening nightmare [[ShoutOut straight out of]] ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure''. He's in ethereal form, thinking that he got kicked out from UW due to some bug, only to find out that he's in the STL room. Then, ''Alicia Klingerman'' (whom he had murdered when they were kids) shows up, grabs him, and tells him that she will never let him go, like a full-blown {{Yandere}}. Gabriel is [[DirtyCoward scared shitless]], [[AndIMustScream screaming and begging for his forces to save him]] as [[DraggedOffToHell he is slowly dragged away by the souls of those he killed]], with Alicia getting TheLastLaugh.]]
* ''Hollow Realization''
** While ''Origin'' may no longer be a death game for players, it most certainly is one for the [=NPCs=]. Due to the fact they're all functional and unique [[ArtificialIntelligence AIs]] generated by the system, should they be killed an entirely new one will be generated to take their place. But it won't be the same NPC, and it's shown that these [=NPCs=] can learn to feel actual emotion with time, so essentially for them, they're living the nightmare of the SAO players.
** TheReveal of what [[MysticalWaif Premiere's]] quest is actually about. [[spoiler:It turns out her quest has been [[NotTheIntendedUse hijacked]] by the Cardinal System due to its similarities to the CreationMyth between Ainground/Aincrad. Why is this NightmareFuel? Because the reason why the Cardinal System is doing this is because, due to ''Sword Art: Origin'' being all but a clone of the original SAO, it thinks Ainground ''is'' Aincrad and one of its modules is to test [[ApocalypseHow Aincrad's destruction as it's supposed to happen when SAO is cleared]] due to ''Origin'' still being in its beta state. But since Aincrad doesn't exist in ''Origin'', it's going to fulfill the CreationMyth that will destroy Ainground and create Aincrad, and then [[AllForNothing destroy Aincrad]] all for the sake of the module test. And since [=NPCs=] die for real in this game and they're functional AI, the twin {{Apocalypse How}}s will essentially commit mass ''[[FinalSolution genocide]]'']].
* [[spoiler:Speaking of [[FinalSolution genocide]], try having drones surrounding a stadium unleashing microwaves around a live concert audience.]] That's right. In ''Ordinal Scale'', [[spoiler: the New National Stadium in Tokyo (which will become the main venue for the 2020 Olympics) is turned into a giant [=NerveGear=]. Thank goodness that ultimately doesn't happen.]]
* We've gone ''this far'' without mentioning [[spoiler:Kirito being injected with succinylcholine at the beginning of Alicization?]]
* ''Ordinal Scale'' gives us a look at[[spoiler: what would have been Aincrad's final boss. And she is NASTY. Gigantic, ridiculously fast and strong, almost sadistic in temperament, she very nearly slowly crushes Silica and Kirito to death. Oh, and she can HEAL. FridgeHorror kicks in when you realize that in the original game, after beating ''this'' monster, the players of Aincrad would find themselves confused and bewildered when they weren't immediately released for clearing the game... only for one of their strongest players to turn on them, reveal himself as Kayaba Akihiko, the man who trapped them all in there, declaring himself the REAL final boss. One can only imaging how demoralizing that would be and how much worse the fight against Kayaba would have been if the ''previous'' boss was only a fakeout.]]
** For that matter, when SAO survivors begin to lose their memories whenever they lose to an boss, and why is that? Because [[spoiler:Ordinal Scale's creator is trying to resurrect his dead daughter into an AI and is doing so by taking everyone's memories of encountering her in the game, and what will happen when she is remade into an AI? Everyone whose wearing the Ordinal Scale devices will get their brains microwaved, just like in SAO if they die.]] It takes ParanoiaFuel to a whole new level as very little know about it.
* ''Accel World Vs Sword Art Online'':
** Persona Vabel, full stop. She has seemingly limitless power over Alfheim Online, callously fusing it with Brain Burst, sending Kuroyukihime to assassinate Kirito and Asuna, and even Kirito doesn't know what she is, only that she has GM-level abilities after she abducts Yui. [[spoiler: It turns out she's a version of MHCP-001, [[ShadowArchetype as in Yui herself, from the distant future, who, without Asuna or Kirito to care for her, has turned cruel and heartless]], and seems to have taken on aspects of avatars from Brain Burst, suggesting the events of the game's story created her in the first place.]]