In the Bad Dog episode "Disobedience School, Part 2", Little Vic almost has a table lamp fall on him. Madeline immediately runs towards him to try and stop it, while Vic can only stand rooted to where he is in fear. Little Vic is ultimately saved by Berkely, who manages to break his hypnosis to catch the lamp.
Bravestarr: "The Price". Your friend or son could get caught up in the drug scene and die from the effects.
The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Misplaced in Space" has Dexter trapped in an alien prison where nobody speaks his language and he has no idea how to get home.
Madeline may have Tasted Like Diabetes at times, but the movie Madeline: Lost in Paris made great use of this when Madeline is supposedly adopted by a man claiming to be her uncle, only for it to turn out that he's a serial kidnapper, has kidnapped multiple girls this same way, and now all of them are forced to do hard labor in a lace factory—and one is horribly ill. Child labor is/was extremely common, and the idea of someone claiming to be family taking away one's child never to be seen again hit waaaay too close to home for many parents. The original book was about the title character almost dying of appendicitis, however, which many would find even worse.
Rugrats almost deserves a category to itself, as the titular babies repeatedly wander off and go on adventures while their inattentive, some would say neglectful, parents are none the wiser. The Darker and Edgierfilm is probably the biggest example, as the babies get lost in a forest full of escaped monkeys and a super-persistent wolf with an unexplained taste for human flesh.
In "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", the first episode to air, Homer Simpson ended up with a terrifying problem. His wife had a jar with Christmas savings that ended up being spent removing a tattoo from Bart, and his own usual Christmas bonus was rescinded by his corrupt boss. Since he didn't want Marge to know about the money problems, Homer spent the rest of the episode in serious distress, working part-time jobs, cutting corners on gifts, and eventually was reduced to betting on a dog race to get enough money for a good Christmas for his family. However, the dog he bet on lost so bad that the owner disowned him, and the Simpsons got a new dog and a wonderful Christmas present.
"Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily", where due to several misunderstandings, child welfare accused Homer and Marge of negligence and their children are taken away from them. It was particularly heartbreaking when Homer and Marge wander in their house to each of their kids' empty bedrooms. And when Marge and Homer heard Bart's signature ring, they rushed down to the front door, faces joyful, only to see nobody was there.
There was "Mona Leaves-a" where Homer's mother Mona dies. Homer has been reunited with his mother for the first time in a while, after being abandoned by her again, and he's genuinely angry at that. So he tells her that he doesn't want to forgive her, and goes away... only to find, later that night when he comes down to apologize to her, that poor Mona died in her sleep. For many adults, the realization that they are highly likely to see their parents die, and the idea of a parent (or any loved one really) dying after an argument is... sobering.
In "Mobile Homer", when Homer purchasing an RV causes yet another strain to his marriage with Marge. They have a big fight, after which Bart and Lisa take matters into their own hands by trying to return the RV themselves. Homer lampshades this when he and Marge find out: "It's every parent's worst nightmare: they've stolen a car and they're home alone!" Made even worse when the kids have trouble driving it, and accidentally drive off a cliff and land on a ship that's about to leave the country. Only some quick thinking by Marge saves them from being carried off.
"The Squirt and the Whale" where Lisa finds a beached whale and tries desperately to save it hits us with the "not every life can be saved and parents can't solve everything" message, made even more painful by Lisa's Hope Spot dream where Bumbling Dad Homer of all people rescues the whale by organizing a ton of different people for the sole purpose of making Lisa happy
In "500 Keys", Maggie is locked alone in the car. She's smart enough to get out on her own, but it's still pretty scary.
Parodied in "Lost Our Lisa" when Lisa tricks Homer into letting her go downtown by herself on the bus. He casually tells Lenny and Carl this, and they're horrified. Cue Homer making up a story about how Lisa is so smart she overloaded a computer, which Lenny and Carl don't fall for, and Homer finally running off to save Lisa.
"Bart vs. Thanksgiving" — Homer and Marge look back with regret when Bart runs away because of their rather harsh punishment of him. Topped off with Homer lamenting "Will we ever see him again?".
"The Call of the Simpsons" has Homer desperately searching for Bart after they both go over a waterfall. Thankfully, Bart turns up safe and sound. In that same episode, Maggie runs into some bears in the woods and she is mistaken for one of their cubs.
"Halloween of Horror" has Homer realizing that there is a (seemingly) genuinely dangerous intruder in his home with him and his young, terrified daughter. Notable in that it's not an anthology like most Halloween episodes, but is played more as a straight thriller.
Codename: Kids Next Door: Operation: W.H.I.T.E.H.O.U.S.E.. A young idealistic rebel wakes up one day and discovers that he has grown old and respectable and abandoned his ideals. His old comrades have become corrupt supporters of stripping children of all their Constitutional and even basic human rights, essentially reclassifying them as inhuman, he is married to a shrew who used to be his girlfriend (though she was a shrew when she was his girlfriend so nothing changed there), his son despises him, his best friend has been driven insane by his betrayal and he is faced with the choice of crossing the Moral Event Horizon or be destroyed.
Camp Lazlo: In the final episode, it's revealed that Scoutmaster Lumpus is not really the scoutmaster, but an escaped patient of hospital for the criminally insane. Imagine that you are a parent who has sent their child off to Scout Summer camp, and you later find that the scoutmaster, whom you have entrusted with the safety of your child, is really a dangerous criminal lunatic. Any parent would be more frightened then they've ever been before, especially since their child and the phony scoutmaster is far away from any major cities, and in the wilderness.
In the episode "Nothing to Fear", Magica DeSpell used real-life images of Uncle Scrooge & co.'s worst fears to descend upon them. For Uncle Scrooge, this took the form of being told by Huey, Dewey and Louie that they secretly couldn't stand him and they only wanted his money, for HD&L it was that Uncle Scrooge never loved them. It also has Scrooge facing the fear of being penniless and having custody of the nephews removed from him as a result.
Early in "Hero for Hire", Launchpad loses his job, and spends some time depressed about the end of his career and uncertain of how he's going to get another one. Additionally, the Beagle Boys (the villains of the episode) are not supernaturally powered; they're just ordinary crooks. However, they're ordinary crooks that don't have a problem with hurting others to get what they want, including children (regrettably Truth in Television), so it's very much played dramatically when Launchpad gets a call from them, letting him know they've kidnapped Doofus and heavily implying that they'll kill him if the pilot doesn't do as they say.
In the two-part pilot, the Justice League are angry that Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash ran off on their own to investigate Cadmus without telling them. But when we find out that after capturing them, the Light's original plan was to clone them and send them off to the League as moles, killing off the originals, we can see why the League (particularly the mentors like Batman) acted the way they did. Then in the season 1 finale we find out this already happened to Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy. The "Roy" seen in the series is actually a clone of the original Roy created three years ago. Then the guilt about it is compounded when Artemis fakes her death but everyone save Kid Flash, Nightwing and Aqualad are in the dark about it.
The episode "Misplaced" explores the terror of parents being separated from their children on both sides. Sportsmaster deliberately invokes this by inciting a mob to lay siege to STAR labs on adult world accusing them of making their children vanish as a distraction to steal a piece of Starro. On kid world, there are a quite a few scenes of children being endangered by the sudden disappearance of their parents. Near the very end, Zatara is faced by a parent's ultimate nightmare: a powerful force kidnaps his daughter and refuses to let her go. Then Zatanna has to live with the fact that her father sacrificed himself to save her from her own decision.
Another chilling moment is explored from both ends. In one scene we see a baby boy trapped in a car wreck until Superboy rescues him. In another scene in adult dimension we see the boy's father wrecking his car in his panic over seeing his son vanishing before his eyes.
While the audience is aware in "Satisfaction" that Artemis is Faking the Dead, Paula Crock's situation is absolutely heartbreaking. It wasn't enough that she was disabled, spent time in prison (and thus has the record of being an ex-con), and couldn't stop her older daughter from entering a life of crime. No, she had to outlive her younger daughter too. No parent should have to visit their own child's grave.
Bart Allen/Impulse is practically a walking Adult Fear. Let's see. From a world where the Reach took over and enslaved humanity, likely is the only surviving member of his family and is WAY too happy-go-lucky because he's actually horrifically depressed. Brr...
EVERYTHING the Reach did and was planning to do their captives in "Darkest Before Dawn". Particularly the scene where they are shown electrocuting Beast Boy and Impulse. Also the discussion about how to "repair" the Scarab which would either mind-wipe Jamie or just brainwash him. Add in the discussion of how removing the Scarab would cripple him and then Impulse telling him about the future and scaring him. This fear is shown really well with Jamie's frantic "I'm still me!" after his fight with Black Beetle.
Aqualad's fakeFace–Heel Turn since mentors in Young Justice act as father figures whether they are legally the fathers of their sidekicks or not.
The Batman: The Animated Series episode "See No Evil" is about a woman dealing with her ex-con ex-husband who proceeds to befriend his daughter (who doesn't know it's her father due to his invisibility suit) and ends up kidnapping her.
Tim is kidnapped and then completely destroyed by The Joker. And the damage remains for the rest of his life, turning a formerly idealistic and cheerful child into a very bitter and broken shell of an adult man. Again, NOOOOOOOOOO!
Bruce, realizing the Joker is back, wants to protect Terry from the Joker to prevent the same thing that happened to Tim to Terry too. You could probably imagine Bruce's dread when at one point, Terry was paralyzed and left at the mercy of the Joker and the Joker made sure that Bruce could hear everything. It made Bruce's actual display of fear for Terry in the episode "Disappearing Inque" more sense. Inque had captured and threatened to kill Terry, which is what the Joker had done to Tim.
In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, it turns out that Fred Jones Sr. kidnapped Fred as a child, taking him away from his real parents and feeding lie after lie to him, bringing the issue of parents not just lying to you, but not really owning you and treating you that way.
The first My Little Ponyspecial only becomes this if one looks too far into it (i.e., this trope is never really explored, since it's not the point). It involves Megan, a girl who couldn't be older than fourteen being taken to Ponyland by a talking pegasus pony named Firefly and finds herself in the dangerous situation of Tirak, an evil centaur trying to conquer Ponyland by using the Rainbow of Darkness to cause The Night That Never Endsnote You knew it was going to have a happy ending, though, right?. It is true that one could wonder what her parents might have thought when she was gonenote Then again, they may have never even known she left in the first place.... The second special involved the antagonist nearly causing great harm to one of the ponies, to say nothing about them losing their home and going through a lot to recover it...
The series itself also had lots of this, since half the cast was made of fillies who are, for all effects, little girls. And they were in danger many, many times. Heck, "The Golden Horseshoes" was all about one of the "girls"; a one-time character named Mimic, suddenly falling very seriously ill, with their friends desperately struggling to find her a cure (namely the "Golden Horseshoes" the title refers to).
Also in the series, Megan is joined by Danny and Molly, her brother and sister who are even younger than hernote They first appeared in the movie.. They also get into a lot of trouble alongside the ponies and their big sis, which yes, can potentially involve injuries and death, but neither the specials, the movie, nor any of the episodes ever have it actually happen.
Sending your child off to live with family, only to discover that they were being bullied and treated poorly during their teen years.
An episode where Rarity has to spend a week with her much younger sister Sweetie Belle, with her essentially taking a parent role for in every scene they have together. They get on each other's nerves until they declare that they don't want to be sisters anymore, and Sweetie Belle runs away. Rarity soon has a My God, What Have I Done? moment and heads out to find her, and while the next scene has her doing just that, the fact that her epiphany happened in the daytime and the next scene is at night indicates that she's spent quite a long time desperately searching everywhere in town, worried about what might have happened to her baby sister.
The Season 1 episode "Bridle Gossip" has Apple Bloom, a school-age filly, venturing off into the Everfree Forest to look for a stranger by herself despite the Mane Six, including her sister Applejack, telling her not to go. Also, the Mane Six panic twice when a shrunken Applejack goes missing. The first time is at the library where the girls think they may have sat on her and the second is at the spa and they all worry that she drowned.
Another season one episode "The Stare Master". The Cutie Mark Crusaders venture into the Everfree Forest, in the middle of the night, to find a missing chicken. Fluttershy, who was entrusted with their care, goes after them and bumps into a petrified Twilight Sparkle; she then realizes that a Cockatrice, a very dangerous chicken-shaped monster, is near...
The "Baby Cakes" episode featured a scene that's every parent's and babysitter's nightmare. Pinkie turns her back on the babies she's taking care of, and when she checks on them again, the babies have disappeared. To emphasize the Adult Fear, the following tense minutes where she's looking for them are even shot like something straight out of a horror movie. Also, at the start of the episode, when asked how two earth ponies could have a unicorn and a pegasus, Mr Cakes answers with a long, convoluted explanation of his and his wife's family tree, followed by a sideways glance and a nervous "that makes sense, right?"
"Dragon Quest" has Spike falling in with the wrong crowd. There's also a recurring theme of an adopted child rejecting his foster parents as not his "real" family. He also realizes that his fellow adolescent dragons are "the wrong crowd" when he finds out that they make a regular activity out of stealing phoenix eggs from their parents' nests and smashing them, purely because they find it fun. If that revelation doesn't push them over the Moral Event Horizon, their willingness to take the newborn babies after they hatch definitely does.
"The Cutie Pox" has Apple Bloom contracting a life-threatening illness with no known cure. Also, in the Cold Open, a throwaway Shout-Out to The Big Lebowski has Fridge Horror to the effect that polerasts (the equine equivalent of pederasts) are canon.
"Just for Sidekicks" has Spike agreeing to babysit the pets of the Mane Six while they're at the Crystal Empire. It turns out he doesn't have a good handle on any of them, especially Angel who shanghais them into a train ride to the very same place where the Mane Six are going. To make matters worse, the Cutie Mark Crusaders wind up going as well.
"Castle Mane-ia" has Fluttershy getting separated from Angel and going over all the terrible things that could happen to him in the castle. Then she watches a pillar fall on the silhouette of what she thinks is Angel (it's just two leaves and a rock)...
"Bloom and Gloom" has Apple Bloom finding herself in a job she finds herself to be good at but really dislikes and dreads having to do. She may be young, but this is a concept that'd resonate more with adults than the little girls the show is for.
In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Spike's kidnapping. From Twilight's perspective, that's her son / younger brother who just got snatched. She didn't know Sunset Shimmer wouldn't hurt him.
In the pilot episode, Darkwing gets captured by cops while Taurus Bulba kidnaps Gosalyn for the arming code he thinks she has. Seeing Darkwing helplessly screaming out her name is pretty chilling for a children's afternoon cartoon show.
In an episode banned due to slight religious themes, Gosalyn unknowingly sells her soul to 'Beelzebub' and Darkwing risks his soul to save her. At the end, his Tranquil Fury is quite evident, and Gosalyn thinks it's due to her putting his soul into danger. Any adult watching that episode would know that it's because Gosalyn endangered HERSELF and Darkwing almost lost her for good. He cares about her THAT MUCH - and possibly more.
Avatar: The Last Airbender features all sorts of adult fear: the danger of having your family die, the inescapable life of a refugee, inability to keep your loved ones safe, a foreign nation invading your homeland, an oppressive government controlling every facet of society, being rejected and betrayed by your loved ones, being forced to choose between your loved ones because they have taken up opposite sides of a conflict, and losing control of yourself and causing someone else to be hurt or killed.
Tenzin has his home invaded and his family attacked while he is going to work in the city. Then his family (including two daughters under 10 years old, a son under 5, and a minutes old newborn son) must flee their home from the attacking Equalists. And that all turns out to be in vain. Tenzin and his family end up captured by the Equalists and he and his children are going to be publicly stripped of their bending by Amon. You can see Tenzin's fear and helplessness as he looks at Jinora, Ikki and Mello, who are bound and gagged with him.
How about those Equalists? A group of extremists who are are willing to kidnap you, attack you, and deprive you of your abilities, whether you did anything to them or not. All that aside from trying to make enough money to support you and your orphaned sibling while working for a predatory agent who is clearly out to keep you under his thumb as long as possible. Or being press-ganged into going after the Equalists before you've even had a chance to finish your training, or finish growing up.
And from the Equalists' perspective: People of all sorts, from politicians to showmen to con artists to criminals might have superpowers that make them easily able to kill and subdue anyone who doesn't have those powers. Yeah, sure there are laws against it, but cremation is an easy way to dispose of a body...
Ikki disappears in "Civil Wars part 1" after Jinora and Meelo tease her, so Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi try to find her. But when nightfall comes...she's still missing.
"A New Spiritual Age" is even worse. Jinora watches as one of her spirit friends becomes corrupted and captures her, Korra is forced into a Sadistic Choice and when she wakes up back in the material world, Jinora's soul is still trapped in the spirit world. Tenzin perfectly exemplifies this trope when he asks Korra what happened to his little girl
In "Venom of the Red Lotus", for a brief moment it appears that Korra dies while in her despairing father's arms. The entire reason Tonraq agreed to seclude Korra in the White Lotus compound for most of her life was to protect her from the Red Lotus...and they apparently got her in the end anyway. Pouring salt in the wound, the guy responsible is nearby and laughs in triumph.
In "After All These Years", Tonraq finds out that Korra hadn't been with Tenzin for a while and only got letters from her. His daughter - heavily traumatized and still nowhere near her old fighting skills - has been missing without a trace for six months.
It has a major adult fear as Simon aka the Ice King's backstory: slowly and against your will going violently insane, driving loved ones away in fear and hate, aware the entire time of the slow degradation.
Season 4 in general. While the show in general is becoming darker as it progresses, Season 4 deals with Finn's changing perspective and feelings. There's something horrifying about watching him unable to process how he feels, as well as his rejections from various girls. Special mention goes to the episode "Hug Wolves", which is either about rape or sex; either way, it's about being unable to have a proper outlet for your pent up emotions and how it affects your relationships with those around you.
Lady Rainicorn almost being killed by Ricardio while pregnant. Knowing that she knows she's pregnant and just wanting to save the father of her child is a special adult fear, that not only will the person who she loves die, but also that they won't get to love their own children. The possibility that some, if not all, her children could now be miscarriages or deformed from being crushed in the knot.
The fantasy parallel dementia is later made worse (and more explicitly paralleling dementia) when later episodes ("I Remember You"/"Simon and Marcy") reveal that, in the wake of the apocalypse and growing ever more insane, the relevant person became a surrogate parent to someone suffering from Parental Neglect, only to eventually say something hurtful. By the present day, he's become a burden on the surrogate child, bothering and making life difficult and painful without a trace of memory as to the previous emotional relationship or awareness of what he's doing.
Played for Laughs in "Jake the Dad", where Jake and Lady Rainicorn have kids, and Jake starts worrying about them to the point of paranoia. His children are grown up by the end of the episode. In "One Last Job", Jake'd daughter, Jake Jr., is kidnapped and held hostage and Jake is told that his daughter will be let go only after he reunites with his old gang and commits a robbery with them. It turns out to be just a trick, though.
"Too Old" is chilling in its depictions of domestic violence and child abuse. Lemongrab hits, disfigures, starves, and eventually cannibalizes his partner, Lemongrab 2. Lemongrab abuses the lemon children as well, forcing them to carry out violent performances and depriving them of food. He reserved special hatred for Lemonhope, forcing the boy to live in the bathroom and destroying his musical instrument.
In "Nemesis", Peace Master is forced to surrender a duel with Peppermint Butler when he learns that his opponent has kidnapped his children and threatens to turn them into monsters. Even worse is that he DOES follow through on his threats when Peace Master refuses to stand down, mutating two of his three kids irreversibly. This is somewhat lessened by the fact that the kids think their new bodies are pretty cool, but from Peace Master's perspective he still saw this as his children being held hostage.
Fairly OddParents: Despite their usual Parental Neglect, Timmy's parents develop this fear in Channel Chasers when Timmy runs away after they yelled at him for destroying the housenote Vicky is actually the one who destroyed the house and framed Timmy. It gets even worse that they can't follow him into TV Land meaning that if he chooses to stay there forever they will never find him.
One episode of the cartoon featured monsters from The Realm kidnapping children on Earth by dragging them through portals under their beds. The episode opens up with a boy being taken while his father desperately and futilely tries to save him.
In another, Hank (who is 15 year old) is kidnapped alongside Bobby (as much 8). Then Venger blackmails Hank into betraying his friends (including Sheila, Bobby's 13-year-old sister) under the threat of torturing or killing Bobby. Considering that Hank is the Team Dad and often responsible for the team's safety, and that Sheila is a borderline mother figure to Bobby ever since being spirited away...
Last Illusion. Varla's Good Parents love her unconditionally even when she's the local Master of Illusion, but since Venger wants her and their neighbors fear her to death, they cannot do anything to save their poor 12-year-old daughter from him. Even worse, Varla's powers are such a strain on her that they're apparently killing her.
Another episode deals with the children being forced to experience their worst fears. Sheila's personal fear is incredibly relatable — being completely alone.
In Phineas and Ferb Get Busted, Candace experiences this when she discovers that her brothers got sent to a Military School where they and many other children are being taught that imagination is wrong and tortured into slack-jawed obedience. Thank God that was All Just a Dream.
As goofy as it was, Street Sharks has the pretty freaky premise that at some point, your co-worker could turn on you, steal everything you've ever done, perform an extremely painful procedure on you, and turn the entire town against you, completely ruining your life. And when he's done with that, he'll do it to your kids.
In the episode "Crisscross", MECH and Airachnid find (and later kidnap) June through the internet. And how, precisely?
Silas: Ah, the mother lode. Airachnid: Government database? Silas: Social networking page.
At the beginning of the second season, June Darby has to let her son go on a mission of unknown length and danger in a former war zone, where the atmosphere itself is toxic. At the end of the second season, June sees the Autobot base get destroyed, without knowing that Jack and his friends had managed to escape. Though he survived, her son has to go into hiding from an army. Finally, June's entire town had to be evacuated because it is right next to the enemy stronghold, meaning that she can't even go home.
Angel's Friends: When Kabiria and Urie get injured by creatures of limbo, Temptel is visibly frightened for them.
The Rocko's Modern Life episode "From Here to Maternity" has Filburt and Dr. Hutchison go through this when their egg is taken by Easter bunnies.
Parodied in the episode of Family Guy where Brian finds out that he has a 13-year-old (human) son. After hearing a news story, Brian has a rather over-the-top reaction to it, as he could not bear to think of his son in that situation. Peter and his friends find the reaction funny, and take advantage of the situation by asking Brian what he'd do if his son was in various dangerous situations.
Leonardo: I did the best I could! There wasn't anymore I could have done!
Of course the one episode that reigns supreme is "Same as it Never Was," probably the most terrifying episode in the entire show showing how much of Crapsack World Earth would be if Shredder ever won, and there's the whole...Almost all the cast is killed right before our eyes thing.
Oh...And Donatello's secondary stage mutation in the "Good Genes" arc in the fourth season. It's got to be pretty terrifying for someone you love to go mad and is slowly dying
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) is much lighter then its predecessor cartoon...except when it isn't. Either way, it somehow manages to have more adult fear then the previous series did.
Splinter's backstory for starts in based on the idea that your best friend would suddenly turn on you and try to kill you and your family. Simply because he was in love with your wife and couldn't accept that she chose you.
The plot of New Friend old Enemy" is kicked off by Mikey befriending someone online, only to discover that he's really working for the Shredder.
In "Panic in the Sewers" Splinter begins to have nightmares about Shredder killing his sons.
In " I, Monster" The Rat King confronts Splinter with the fear that his sons would one day no longer need him and leave him.
In the first season finale Splinters discovers that Shredder has not only kidnapped his daughter after their battle fifteen years ago, he also raised her to hate him on the belief that Splinter killed her mother. When it was really the other way around.
And toward the end of the second season Splinters finally gets her back, only for the Shredder to use her as a part of an elaborate trap for the Turtles, resulting in her getting mutated into a giant snake who nearly kills him. Needless to say it's painful for him. This doesn't just apply to Splinter. Shredder is also angered deeply by this.
In Regular Show, a mother duck leaves her children alone for a few moments and comes back to find them gone. Mordecai and Rugby take care of the baby ducks for most of the day and the mother comes to pick them up after finding out where there are, only to find out that the babies have been kidnapped by a creepy old man. Fortunately, she gets them back by the end of the episode.
The Secret Saturdays: Your life-long family friends turn on you when they find out your child has been born different from others, and now are actively trying to hurt him out of misunderstanding and fear.Yeesh, that's dark.
Eliza is able to speak every animal known on Earth. Yet, everywhere she and her family go, she usually winds up with a dangerous predator that could easily kill her if it weren't intrigued by her ability.
The movie adds onto this fear. Nigel and Marianne nearly have a heart attack when they see their daughter hanging off a rope ladder trying to save a cheetah cub from a poacher. This, along with the discovery of all of her adventures, results in them sending her away for her protection.
Akela, the mother cheetah, has to deal with this until the movie's end. She watched one of her cubs get taken away by man and was unable to stop him. After that, she has to sit and wait in hopes that her son will be returned safe and sound.
Due to being raised by a group of magical guardians, Steven is generally in some kind of danger, but a noteworthy case is the episode "Steven the Sword Fighter", in which he finds himself alone in a dark house with an entity that intends to kill him. That same episode also has him witness Pearl "die" right in front of him.
In "So Many Birthdays", he accidentally ages himself and almost dies of old age, with the Crystal Gems being there, unable to do anything.
Over the Garden Wall: This show is made of Adult Fear with the premise being two kids just wandering around aimlessly with no idea to get home, being pursed by an Eldritch Abomination who wants them simply because they're lost.
Despite the sometimes absurd monsters the characters face, this show is chock-full of very real fears as well. Dipper has come within inches of being murdered in cold blood on multiple occasions, Mabel dealt with kidnapping in the very first episode of the series, Stan's got a criminal record on his tail, and the first season finale involves Stan fearing no longer being able to take care of his niece and nephew. Not to mention the fact that Child Protective Services exist in the Gravity Falls universe, and once nearly took custody of Dipper and Mabel.
Old Man MacGucket. Similar to Adventure Time's Simon Petrov, his memory is destroyed in bits and pieces. His slow sanity slippage is spookily reminiscent of Alzheimer's, and in the end his own son wants nothing to do with him. He's so ashamed by his father's antics and crazed ramblings he abandons MacGucket to rot, homeless, in a salvage yard on the outskirts of town.
Stan could have ended this way after his Heroic Sacrifice in the season finale, voluntarily having his memories blanked out to erase Bill Cipher from reality once and for all. The scene with Mabel showing him the memory scrapbook could be very uncomfortable for some who have seen a parent or grandparent through the lapses of senility, pulling out old photo albums and souvenirs, trying to call back faded recollections.
For starters, there was that one episode where the kids accidentally get themselves trapped in a soda factory that's about to explode.
Another one had Biffy and Kimmie unknowingly enter a building that was going to be demolished.
Your firstborn child being taken from you as a baby and raised to be an assassin without your knowledge. Then, over a decade later, he returns, reveals who he is to you, and kidnaps you for the organization he works for.
Invoked in The Venture Bros. special "A Very Venture Halloween". Every year, Dean and Hank make up a spooky tableau for their father — vampires, mummies, etc. — but Dr. Venture is never scared. One year, they tell him they've decided not to do a scare-room; but then Hank tells him he's received a cancer diagnosis, just as Dean shows symptoms of a sexually-transmitted disease and Sgt. Hatred says the plumbing is leaking through a light socket. Now Venture is freaked out, and they gloat that their prank has finally scared him.
Given that its protagonists are much younger than the leads in Totally Spies! (which was its own can of terror-worms), The Amazing Spiez has had several moments of this trope. Ones that stand out
Lee goes missing while the Clark parents are out and the kids are home with a babysitter. Said babysitter turns out to be a rejected spy and is behind the kidnapping of not just Lee but several other agents, all of whom he was planning to kill via bomb! And when Megan, Marc and Tony figure out what's up, their "sitter" is quite willing to take them out too.
In another episode, Marc is recruited for a special division run by Jerry's sister Sherry. He shows up for his first session, only to be strapped to a chair so Sherry can drain his brain power! He's visibly terrified during the process and afterwords, looks so braindead it's a wonder he's functioning. Made worse by the fact that neither his siblings nor their parents pick up on anything being wrong right away.
In one episode of Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race where the teams went on safari, Dwayne spent most of the episode thinking his son had been eaten by a lion. He searches desperately for him and is almost in tears by the time they're reunited and he finds Junior safe and sound.
In "April 9" on Arthur, Arthur becomes worried for his father after his father in the school during the fire at Lakewood Elementary. Mr. Read tells him that it's his job to worry about him, not the other way around.
The plot of Toad Patrol essentially amounts to eight siblings, the oldest few being the mental age of younger teenagers, being stranded on their own in a huge forest filled with dangerous predators, with absolutely no clue on what they're even supposed to be doing until an older toad gives them a basic explanation and then runs off again. The rest of the season consists of them almost dying in a wildfire, nearly drowning in a flooding cave, being kidnapped, nearly being crushed by a falling tree, the Team Mom of the group accidentally poisoning herself... and this isn't even getting into the plot of season 2, where the freezing winter season comes into play...
Code Lyoko. The villain is a computer program that can manipulate anything connected to electricity and possess pretty much any human on the planet. By the end of the first series, all of our heroes, ages 12-14, have nearly been killed in a variety of horrifying ways with some of those occasions involving the staff at their school or their own parents. Then the sequel starts things back up with one of the characters being rendered deaf (this is fortunately temporary but given how scared he is during the event, it doesn't decrease the horror at all) and doesn't stop.
One particularly nasty incident was pointed out on the Fridge Horror page and is quoted below.
Picture this scenario: you get a text message from someone asking you to meet them in the woods alone. Do you go? If you're Odd Della Robbia, yes. Let me repeat that; even knowing that someone who wants him dead can control electronics to do whatever he darn well pleases, Odd gladly walked into a scenario that even if it hadn't been XANA, could have ended with him injured and unable to call for help, sexually assaulted and again unable to call for help, injured and unconscious (which could have meant bleeding out), sexually assaulted and unconscious (which again could have meant bleeding out) or worse, dead. How exactly does a 13-year-old manage to completely miss the importance of stranger danger?
Color Classics: The mother in the "Somewhere In Dreamland" short was destitute, and burst into tears after one of her two children told her he was still hungry after she fed him all the food she could (which was a very stale piece of bread). She herself was stick-thin, too.
In Franklin's Magic Christmas, both Franklin and Harriet try to venture on their own to Woodland from Faraway Farm in order to get Dr. Bear to help their grandpa. True, things work outnote This is a car ride of at least an hour and likely more and Franklin and Harriet make it only thanks to the magic in the title, specifically, flying reindeer., but both of their grandparents, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Turtle, are left to worry over what might happen to them in a wooded area on a very cold night following an ice/snowstorm.
In Franklin and the Green Knight, Franklin and Snail travel through and over woods, cliffs, and mountains, Snail is rescued from drowning and they face off against serious dangers both real and imagined, then make it almost all the way back home before anyone even realizes they're missing.
Phantom Investigators has at least one instance of this trope per episode given the fact that its main cast is a bunch of middle schoolers. This is particularly the case with Team Normal Daemona as if she's disarmed, she has no means of fighting back against the supernatural creatures the team faces off against, unlike her empowered teammates. The first episode outright has a hostage situation that could have been very messy if Jericho hadn't made a bet with the monster of the episode.
In Trollhunters, ever since Jim's Trollhunting activities, he has shown many changes that concern his mother, including, but not limited to: lying about his whereabouts and activities, coming home late at night, breaking into a museum, arguing with and talking back to her, etc. All too real fears, truthful in-story but fantastical explanations aside.
Not to mention the incidents where he's been kidnapping and held long enough to be missing several days, days in which he never responded to her frantic attempts at communication.
The basic premise of Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: a young boy is lost in the middle of a war, separated from his parents who are desperately looking for him not knowing if he's even still alive. And while the boy is protected by 4 animal friends, his parents don't know that. As far as they know, he's all on his own.
Out Of This World: Not only is the premise of a asteroid being dead on target to smash the school dang scary but Miss Frizzle and Carlos getting trapped on said asteroid is nerve-wrecking.
Gets Cold Feet: The Artistic License – Biology of the forced hibernation would have killed the class and Liz in real life. Phoebe's panic when she discovers them is more justified than anyone in-universe gives credit.
Ups And Downs: Wanda ignores a cornerstone safety rule of diving by going off on her own, getting tangled in kelp and being at real risk for drowning before the class comes for her. Then the class gets stranded at the bottom of the lake, which could have resulted in all of them drowning.
In The Arctic: The class gets stranded in the Arctic and could have frozen to death.
Under Construction: Oh boy; this episode...
Ms. Li kept the bathroom locked because there was an alligator in the bathtub. While her children are at home and she's busy talking on the phone, Wanda also mentions that her mom kept a gila monster in the sandbox.
Julian also steps on the shrinkascope, breaking it, and it bears many similarities to a LEGO. If the gun had borne any physical characteristics like that of a painful LEGO, and a toddler stepped on it...
The class gets shrunk while watching Julian, meaning that Liz was the only "adult" around supervising him. Ms. Li was pretty lucky that the worst thing Julian did was play with the shrunken bus.
During a crossing involving relaying across a piece of dental floss over a bathtub containing an alligator, Wanda slips and ends up dangling by one hand over a potentially lethal drop, not to mention a hungry carnivore. Notably, this is Adult Fear in-universe as the rest of the class spends the entire time she's trying this scared stiff and Miss Frizzle has a truly worried look on her face when she realizes what happened.
Gets A Bright Idea: Arnold disappears without warning; while this turns out to be just Janet playing a cruel prank on the class, this scenario is still terrifying to contemplate happening with someone who had every reason to actually cause Arnold harm.
Rocks And Rolls: The kids nearly get crushed by falling rocks and other debris multiple times, to say nothing of the drowning risk the river posed.
Family Holiday Special: Arnold can't celebrate the holidays with his class because his family's going to go see his sick grandmother. Not to mention that he had packed a nice gift for Wanda— a colorful rock on a chain— and before he could give it to her, accidentally destroyed her toy nutcracker.
Also, in the same episode, a world without recycling is pretty bleak for a kids show and more than one kid probably freaked out when the bus disappeared (since it was made of recycled materials).
Gets Swamped: The entire town nearly gets wiped out due to the overflow caused by the swamp being blocked off and as it was, there was still massive flooding before it got fixed, driving the cast to the roof of the courthouse.
Goes Cellular: While the cause turned out to be fairly mundane and easy to fix in this case, a kid's skin changing color like Arnold's did could be a sign of severe illness in real life.
In The City: The kids end up going home later than expected, a situation that any parent will tell you is terrifying to imagine and prompts nightmarishImagine Spots.
Takes A Dive: The kids' animal forms evoke the ocean becoming Everything Trying to Kill You. Wanda doesn't help matters by trying to pull I Work Alone despite being the smaller and more vulnerable animal in all the partnerships; this eventually gets to the point that DA, who starts off extremely annoyed with her, expresses genuine worry about Wanda's safety.
Kaeloo: In one episode where the gang are roleplaying, Mr. Cat is the principal of a school, Quack Quack is a studemt at the school, and Kaeloo is Quack Quack's mother. Kaeloo receives a call from the principal informing her that Quack Quack died. Somewhat subverted since it turns out that Quack Quack is just injured, but still alive; Mr. Cat just told Kaeloo he died to get her to come to the school.
The premise of Babysitter Blues has Kanga leave Tigger babysitting Roo for the day. When she returns home after her errands, Tigger and Roo are gone. To her, either something terrible has happened to both of them, OR worse - that Tigger has abducted Roo (yeah we know he hasn't, but Kanga doesn't know that). After hours searching for Roo with the neighbours, Kanga is left a sobbing, wailing wreck. Ya know! For kids!
In Miraculous Ladybug Hawk Moth regularly turns any Parisian who is having a bad day into super villains via an Akuma for his behalf. Not to mention that many of his plans have him attempting to kill Ladybug and Chat Noir, who are teenagers, and a vast majority of the Akumas have either been teenagers themselves or had every reason in the world to go after Chloe, or worse, both with the Evillustrator actively trying to butcher her with buzzsaws.
In the Ready Jet Go! special "Back to Bortron 7", Eggplant informs Carrot and Celery that once they finish their presentation, they can never go back to Earth. Keep in mind that the Propulsions brought Sean and Sydney to Bortron 7 while their parents were out of town. Imagine your children being stranded on a planet thousands of lightyears away from Earth, taken by a crazy alien family, never to return ever Luckily, Carrot and Celery's boss allows them to stay on Earth, so they get to return to Earth with their parents none the wiser.
In the episode My Fair Jet, the DSA weather balloon gets away in some nasty weather. Sean tries to grab it, but it ends up carrying it with him. You can tell by the expression on Dr. Rafferty's face that she is traumatized by her son flying away. Even Sydney was distraught. She pretty much begged Jet to forget his "Earthie" training just so he can save Sean.
"Thrill of the Hunt" was probably the true first taste of what the Great War was truly like for the Transformers. For starters, Ratchet being stranded in the middle of the battlefield, having to protect a patient he's trying to extract from the place, accidentally damaging said patient's brain in a battle...
Hinting towards the darker direction that Season 2 and beyond would take, Isaac Sumdac is captured by Megatron in the Season 1 finale, and for the entirety of Season 2, Sari becomes a walking Adult Fear for the Autobots, who have to be her caretakers in her father's absence.
Season 3 ups the ante, with the opening three-parter featuring Sari upgrading her body and suffering a power overload, which causes her to lose control of herself and go on a rampage across Detroit. Optimus Prime is caught having to decide whether to kill Sari or let the entire city be destroyed. As his efforts to try and stop Sari with less lethal means fails, the look on his anguished face says it all.
Optimus: Ratchet! Sari's about to explode! The only thing that can stop her is your EMP Generator! You need to get here stat! Ratchet: We can't use it on her, Prime! I have no idea how the blast will affect a techno-organic! It could kill her! Optimus: We don't have a choice, Ratchet. She could take all of Detroit with her.
Despite being a relatively light and goofy show, Rocket Power has some nasty stuff for adults watching. Let's see; in no particular order...
A "old friend" of Raymundo's convinces Otto and Twister it's a good idea to surf during a hurricane, which nearly kills them both.
Twister, fed up with Lars' Big Brother Bully antics, fakes a suicide, to the elder's clear horror.
Otto convinces Twister to sneak off into a closed off area of a snowboarding park. They nearly freeze to death before Reggie breaks her promise not to tell the adults.
"Race Across New Zealand" features Reggie feeling neglected to the point that she deliberately messes Otto up during a wind surfing race, which could have gotten him hurt, and got angry enough at her father that her storming off would have made perfect sense...in a completely foreign country in a specific area removed from major civilization. And all this because of an old opponent of Raymundo's who had very little he wouldn't do to preserve his family winning streak. Mercifully he sticks to cheating and his son has more of a sense of honor but still...Not to mention Twister's broken leg mid-final race.
Les Sisters: Some of Marine and Wendy's antics could result in serious harm to them and the people around them.
In one episode, Wendy needs Marine to tell her something important but Marine is keeping it a secret. Wendy puts a tire around Marine, rolls her to the top of a steeply inclined road, and threatens to roll her down if she doesn't tell her.
In another episode, Maxence tries to climb through Wendy's window, but Wendy forgets to let him in and he's left dangling from the windowsill until the next day, when his parents call Wendy and ask if she's seen him anywhere.
Marine once believes, due to a misunderstanding, that her parents are having a baby. She finds her friend (who is the same age as her, seven years old) in the park with his baby brother and asks if she can borrow the baby so she can "practice" taking care of a baby. He happily allows her to take the baby home with her. Worse still, the baby escapes the house while Marine isn't paying attention.
When Wendy and Marine's antics get out of hand during summer vacation, their parents threaten that if they continue to do things like that, they'll send them both to summer camp in different places, separating them from each other. The parents go shopping, leaving the girls in the house alone. The sisters goof around as usual and end up breaking a vase. The parents come home to find a note saying that their daughters have run away. Fortunately, the girls are camping out in a nearby forest and are perfectly safe. They were intending to come back after their parents had calmed down, but they didn't mention this on their note.