Ascended Fridge Horror

"I think it's a testament to Pixar that they went there, and they said 'what is the story of the toys?' The authentic story is 'Well, what happens when your owner grows up?' That's a cycle-of-life thing and it's cool that they went there and tackled it."
Joan Cusack, on Toy Story 3, from this interview.

So let's say some work has a form of Fridge Horror, at least according to some interpretations of said work. It could be entirely by accident, and just be a product of Fridge Logic. It could be deliberate, but still left to thaw on its own in the audience's imagination through subtle Fridge Brilliance. Whatever the case, obviously said disturbing aspect of the work is not definitive as of yet, as there could in theory be some way around it. So far, it has left explaining it up to the viewers, so you could probably expect that pattern to continue, right?

Well, sometimes you'd be wrong.

This is for when a prior Fridge Horror concept is openly a major part of the series later on. That disturbing aspect of the series has just gone from ambiguous to absolute, and the series has become Darker and Edgier for it.

This trope is frequently used in Deconstructions, where the fridge logic of genre conventions and tropes tend to be explored in unsparing detail.

Compare Ascended Fanon for a (usually) more benign category. Might lead to (or result from) Cerebus Syndrome. May involve an Inferred Holocaust.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kanta, the main character of Desert Punk starts off very much a Nominal Hero. He's a bounty hunter with no true heroic characteristics. In fact, many of his deeds are down right heinous, but they're often played for Black Comedy. When the opportunity presents itself though, Kanta does end up pulling a Face–Heel Turn and both the viewers and the characters really aren't that surprised.
  • Ryan Matthews, a Dirty Pair fanfic writer back in the USEnet days, took some of the Unfortunate Implications of Adam Warren's version of the series (for Dark Horse Comics) to their logical, horrifying conclusions. A few years later, "Fatal, but Not Serious" officially confirmed several of those.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • The series takes the idea of a child as the pilot of a Humongous Mecha and strips it down to spotlight the fact that these shows are about Child Soldiers. Alternatively, but still in keeping with this trope, it's about the whole concept of placing the responsibility for the future of the world on one person when that person is not at all cut out for that kind of responsibility, and what that kind of responsibility would do to a person, and what kind of person would put that kind of responsibility on them in the first place.
    • The deconstruction of Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You. What kinda guy ditches his elementary-school-aged son and doesn't write or call until he says "Hey, there's this Humongous Mecha we need you to use to go beat up monsters with city-wrecking power?" Somebody who's not a contender for dad of the year, that's who.
  • The Pokémon Adventures manga acknowledges and occasionally shows that the eponymous creatures are indeed capable of harming or killing others outside of sanctioned matches (humans included).
  • The very first episode of the Pokémon anime deals with this as well. It also deals with how well a ten year old would cope on their own while on the kind of journey that trainers face.
    • The Pokedex that appears in the Pokémon games often has some interesting and nightmare fuel inducing things to say about Pokémon. Several episodes of the anime use these entries as the basis for some episode plots like an episode about the gang nearly becoming victims to the life force draining powers of Litwick or an evil Malamar that wants to brainwash the whole world.
  • Popotan is about a trio of sisters who travel through time along with their maid. The catch is that when they are given the signal to leave, they have to, otherwise they will be unable to age normally; as such, they are forced to leave any friends they make behind over and over. It's understood quite early that Mai, one of the sisters, is not all that happy about their situation, but it takes episode 9 to show just how it can mess with the lives of both them and their friends: Konami, one such friend of Mai, died hoping she would eventually return to her, putting Mai into a serious depression.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion addresses Homura's devotion to Madoka in the series, which had a lot of Fridge Horror associated with it - namely, that she'd be willing to kill Sayaka so Madoka didn't have to watch Sayaka's mental decline, among other scenes that show Homura having blatant disregard for morality as long as Madoka was happy. Despite this, the series mostly paints Homura as a protagonist by the end... the movie, though, shows that Homura would be willing to become an antagonist - the devil, in fact - all for Madoka's absolute happiness, something that Madoka may not even want.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena similarly takes the Magical Girl, prince and princess tropes from the first half and deconstructs them in the second. This is especially the case with Anthy, who demonstrates exactly what someone treated as a prize to be won would actually be like.
  • One theory behind Yume Nikki is that Madotsuki is not a Hikikomori by choice, but is locked within her room, with the only means of escape being suicide. The manga adaptation uses this to force Madotsuki to stay until all the effects in her dreams are collected.
  • One of the main criticisms of Super Dangan Ronpa 2 is how nothing comes of Naegi defying direct orders from his superiors in the Future Foundation and saving the surviving Remnants of Despair instead of leaving them to die. In Dangan Ronpa 3, the plot is kickstarted by the Future Foundation arresting Naegi for treason.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Avengers #200, Ms. Marvel was kidnapped by a character named Marcus — the apparent son of Avengers foe Immortus — and taken to an alternate dimension, where she was brainwashed, seduced, and impregnated. The character gives birth back on Earth to a child that rapidly ages into another version of Marcus, who takes Ms. Marvel back to the alternate dimension with no opposition from the Avengers. The whole storyline felt in bad taste to a number of people, especially Chris Claremont. He wrote an Avengers-X-Men crossover, where Ms. Marvel would escape to Earth, be un-brainwashed with the help of Professor X, then let the rest of the Avengers have it for so callously dismissing what was tantamount to an extradimensional rape.
  • In Spider-Man: Reign Mary Jane was said to have died of leukemia developed because of her continued exposure to her radioactive husband's sperm.
    • The ascended fridge horror is really ramped up by Peter's own admission that ALL of his bodily fluids and secretions are radioactive. Within the context of the story, he has been spreading steady doses of ionizing radiation not just to Mary Jane but to anyone who came in contact with his sweat or blood; over the entire course of his career as Spider-Man! Considering he fights in a lycra/spandex outfit, that may well be most of the X-Men, the Avengers, and half of the people he has ever saved after a giant standoff with the Sinister Six!
  • Identity Crisis and Justice League: Cry for Justice both show just how horrifying shrinking powers can really be if in the hands of an Anti-Hero or a downright villain. For one? Entering the human body and wiping their shoes on the brain.
    "What if I shrank to microscopic size, entered your skull, then began to grow?"

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Toy Story series starts out taking the concept of sentient toys pretty lightly, but as the series goes on, it explores the Fridge Horror of the concept more and more thoroughly; and eventually, to a further extent than most people would probably expect from a children's movie series. The whole premise of Toy Story 3 is the toys having to deal with the fact that their owner has grown up and put them aside.
  • The Brave Little Toaster put a very cynical spin on the idea of anthropomorphic appliances and electronics: Like Toy Story 3, the plot kicked off with the main characters believing that they had been abandoned by their owner, introduces newer appliances which threaten their coveted favorite status, and delivers a truly horrific climax where, like Toy Story 3's incinerator scene, the appliances (and their master) are dumped into a junkyard, thrown onto a conveyor belt by a psychopathic magnet, and almost crushed to death.
  • Cars 2, by calling attention to the darker implications of Mater's prior Butt Monkey status, turns him into The Woobie.
  • Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave shows that the Real Life act of animals killing cubs that are deemed defective can indeed happen in the series, when it's used as a plot point regarding how the blind Daria barely escaped death because of her mother saving her.
  • Doggy Poo is a short film about sentient objects, including leaves, flowers, and the titular doggy poo. With the exception of being able to talk and see, they are completely immobile and at the mercy of their environment.
  • Sausage Party shows with brutal honesty just how much it would suck to be Anthropomorphic Food (as in, said food learning that their "destiny" is to be eaten by humans).
  • Finding Dory is all about this trope. It shows how much Dory and everyone around her have suffered because of her condition and general naivete.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Captain America was first created as a World War II propaganda mascot. While the character himself has improved dramatically in the decades since, the propaganda today is seen as trite and soulless. Captain America: The First Avenger manages to acknowledge this while keeping the Character Development in one brilliant scene.
  • The Bean movie somehow manages to invert it. In the film Bean destroys a priceless historical artifact, but he covers it up by replacing it with a poster of the same painting, and cue the happy if hilarious ending. As it's really only a short-term solution however, the forgery would undoubtedly be uncovered sometime after the film's events. The original script had apparently already considered this, as it ends with someone noticing the change after the painting is slightly damaged, which didn't make it into the final film.
  • Return of the Jedi implies that slaying the Emperor defeated the Empire, but this struck a lot of people as highly improbable, more so in light of actual history since 1991. Media set after this point tend to walk back the assumption that the war stopped on a dime:
    • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Galactic Civil War drags on another fourteen years before the two sides sign a peace treaty and effectively switch positions. The Rebels become in charge with a high approval rating and The Empire becomes The Remnant.
    • The Force Awakens is set thirty or so years after Return of the Jedi and shows the Imperial remnant having rebuilt itself into a fully functional, powerful and dangerous new organization, the First Order. The New Republic and its semi-independent Resistance (the Rebels' remnant) have already become complacent and, one Alderaan-times-five tragedy later, the galaxy is back to square one.
  • Two central plot points of Primer are based on Fridge Horror implied by time travel in any other situation. First, the existence of an event that can truly never be understood because its cause is in the future and will be disrupted by any investigation; and second, the ability for a time traveller to override a person's free choice by varying the circumstances and going back over and over again until they make the choice the time traveller wants.
    • And the short film One Minute Time Machine addresses a similar issue with Mental Time Travel: after time travelling back several times he realizes that every time he time travels, his braindead body is left behind in the history he left.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: Pulls double-duty on Picard, first confirming that he didn't shrug off the horrifying trauma of assimilation as easily as the TNG episode "Families" wanted us to believe.note  Then there's the notion that Picard still has Borg implants scattered throughout his body, and that he still retains enough of a connection to the Collective to hear their thoughts in his head.
  • In Disney's Sleeping Beauty the fairies' incompetence is played for laughs. But one must wonder how on earth Aurora made it to her sixteenth birthday happy and healthy. Maleficent cranks this up by increasing the fairies' incompetence. Not only do they forget to feed the baby (and Aurora refers to them accidentally feeding her spiders once) but at one point they're too busy arguing - and the child nearly runs off a cliff! Had it not been for Maleficent intervening (yes, really), Aurora would have been dead long before her sixteenth birthday.
  • A small case in Cinderella (2015) where the film asks the question "What would Cinderella become if she didn't hold onto her positive attitude?" The film's answer is that she would become Lady Tremaine.
  • A common observation about Man of Steel is that the movie's portrayal of Superman seems to come off as far more of a Destructive Savior than nearly every other incarnation of the character, to the point that he seems to cause almost as much property damage as General Zod and his soldiers, and probably racks up a sizable body count by the end of the movie. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is surprisingly up-front about acknowledging this fact. It turns out that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis during Superman's battle with Zod, and he came to see Superman as a threat because he was so terrified by the destruction that he saw. Among other things, we're introduced to a young girl who lost her mother when a building in Metropolis was leveled by the battle, and we meet Wallace Keefe, a man who lost both of his legs to falling debris and went on to resent Superman for the rest of his life. We also see that, from Bruce's spot on the street, it was nearly impossible to tell Zod and Superman apart while they duked it out in the sky, making it rather ambiguous which one of them was the real alien invader.

  • Seven Sorcerers by Carol King
    • Boogeymen are super strong, super fast, can breathe fire and are invisible to adults. However, they usually use all this to scare and kidnap children (for example, invisibility ensures adults don't believe the child). Since there are just "a few dozens" of them and they spend weeks or months on one child, their total impact is pretty negligible, right? Well, in "Shadow Spell", two of them start a killing rampage on adults (who, unable to see them, are mostly defenseless) and kill hundreds of humans per night. Thankfully, Skerridge, another Boogeyman, rebels and kills them both, ending the rampage.
    • Same goes for Vespilio's Body Surf, distillation machine, and the Maug. The body count in Shadow Spell is gigantic, yet almost completely based on things we learned earlier.
  • The Charles Stross novel Saturn's Children describes the adventures of Freya Nakamichi-47, a gynoid sexbot in a solar system colonized by robots after the extinction of mankind. She was programmed to be overwhelmed by submission and subservience at the merest sight of Homo sapiens, and totally unable to go against their slightest whim - how, you may ask, do you condition a robot to behave in such a way? Later on in the novel, we find out that Freya's long-dead designers did so by inflicting traumatic sexual abuse on her during her "adolescence".
  • Sukhinov's Emerald City series, a continuation of Land of Oz, explores the fact that animals in OZ are sentient. Carnivorous animals (and ogres who are also carnivores) are completely ostracized and slowly driven to extinction, with the exception of cats (mice have to be kept in check after all). This makes the life difficult for several characters who keep carnivores as pets.
    • It's also established that no one dies in Oz. Which leads to things like a fully-sentient severed head in a closet that is not at all happy.
  • Nick Perumov shows the ramifications of And Now You Must Marry Me in The Joyless Land. Eltara, an Elven princess, is forced to marry the mage Gordzhelin the Uncaring in exchange for saving her father's kingdom. The oath she gives explicitly states that she will have sex with Gordzhelin any time he wants it, and this will go on until she bears a child for Gordzhelin. Ouch.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Dollhouse we're introduced to the technology to reprogram people's memories and personalities, and it's being used to provide rich people with high quality midwives and fantasy lovers. Why aren't the people with this technology using it for more ambitious and nefarious purposes? Halfway through the season we find out that they are.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow activates the powers of all of the Potential Slayers in the finale, so there are thousands of girls who would have started having horrific nightmares they don't understand and new powers that could be abused (the latter of which we've already seen with Faith). As the Watcher's Council has already been destroyed, they have no one to help them. Angel season 5 shows that there is a slayer that was traumatized in her youth, and the nightmares made it worse, so she ends up breaking out of a hospital and killing people. In the season Buffy 8 and 9 comics there are quite a few rogue slayers who reject Buffy's leadership and use their powers to hurt others (a couple of them plotting to kill Buffy), so Giles recruits Faith to help deal with them, which required desperate measures at times.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The new series has Rose leave to travel with The Doctor, though she doesn't think to tell her mother about this. When she accidentally returns a year later instead of a day, her mother is very angry, having feared that she might have died. Rose's boyfriend, the last one to have seen her before her disappearance, was accused of murdering her and was even questioned by the police a few times. A similar situation had been touched upon in the last regular Classic Who story "Survival", where Ace returns to Perivale and finds she is thought dead, though her being more anti-social then Rose and having a terrible relationship with her mother makes it more plausible she would run away.
    • Numerous episodes end with it being very uncertain as to whether the Doctor has fixed anything after he abruptly leaves, and quite a few have been speculated to have ended up worse for his interference. "Bad Wolf" is an episode dedicated to showing what happens when the Doctor's actions do make things worse.
      • The Classic Series was not unaware of this either. "The Ark" and "The Face of Evil" both deal with this too.
      • "The Woman Who Lived" has Ashildr explicitly calling him out for leaving a mess behind him. She decides that she's going to spend her time as an immortal cleaning up his messes and protecting ordinary people from him. Alas, her efforts to do so wind up making him more dangerous — to potentially universe-destroying levels — when Clara is killed as an accidental side effect.
    • In season 5, there are cracks in the universe which were first discovered in Amy's house, and those who get absorbed into the cracks were erased from existence. Amy never explained what happened to her parents, but it was widely speculated that they were erased. It was confirmed in "The Big Bang", and they returned.
    • "Blink" derives a lot of its scare potential from one particularly unsettling bit of Fridge Horror regarding the Weeping Angels' abilities: at several points in the episode, they appear on-screen as stone statues when none of the characters appear to be looking at them, leading many fans to conclude that they can also sense the audience looking at them. Then in "Time of Angels", it's confirmed that the Weeping Angels can, in fact, project themselves through pictures and video footage of themselves—and that an image of a Weeping Angel can even become a living Weeping Angel.
    • When Gallifrey was saved in "The Day of the Doctor", though it is in another Universe, some people pointed out that if the Time Lords return it could mean another Time War. This is the threat being staved off in the next episode, "The Time of the Doctor".
    • The new series handles the old series's occasional dependence upon Angst? What Angst? to keep the characters from being utterly destroyed (notable instances include the Fourth Doctor's apparently blasé attitude to the departures of Sarah Jane and Leela, and how none of the TARDIS crew even begin to process the unimaginable scale of destruction in "Logopolis", which included Nyssa's entire planet) by suggesting that maybe the Doctor does actually deal with that, through a combination of Stepford Smiler behaviour and forcible denial, because if he stopped to think about all of the loss he'd have a complete mental breakdown.
    • In "The Long Game" Adam is thrown out of the TARDIS for trying to send future knowledge back to his own time, having installed a data chip in his head. Having a chip that opens when someone snaps their fingers is Played for Laughs when Adam's mother accidentally causes it to open. The comic "Prisoners of Time" shows this basically ruined Adam's life, as he had to hide away for most of his life in fear of being discovered and became bitter and hateful towards the Doctor, eventually using his data chip to perform robberies via hacking and trying to get revenge on the Doctor.
    • When River Song first made her debut in "Silence in the Library", many fans observed that she seems oddly nonchalant about sacrificing her life at the end of the episode, and she doesn't seem to consider that there might be another way to save the victims of the Vashta Nerada. As many people pointed out, her supposed Heroic Sacrifice looks suspiciously like suicide. As River's character arc slowly progresses in the next few seasons, and we get to meet her before she ultimately travelled to the Library, it slowly begins to look like this might indeed be the case. River strongly suspects that one day she will cross paths with the Doctor at a time before he's met her, and she believes that she won't be able to live with the grief of knowing that the man she loves has no idea who she is. "The Husbands of River Song" reveals that her last adventure with him before "Silence in the Library" ended in a night that lasted twenty-four happy years, which may or may not soften this tragic situation.
    • Clara Oswald has a gigantic role in all of the Doctors' lives from Series 7 onward, having had a direct hand in everything from saving the Doctor's timeline — and by extension the universe — from the Great Intelligence, convincing him to save Gallifrey in "The Day of the Doctor", keeping him from being Killed Off for Real in "The Time of the Doctor", being his only close friend when he regenerates from Eleven to Twelve, and even inspiring his childhood self to heroism. Like all companions, she keeps his ego and alien nature in check as a Living Emotional Crutch and Morality Pet — but she's also, arguably, his soulmate. Alas, he can't be together with her forever, as he's a functional immortal, and it's well-established that is he not good with dealing with loss or being alone under the usual circumstances of a companion departure. How can he move on to other companions after Clara when they'll all come up short of her barring miracles? This horror ascends in Series 9, as the biggest of the growing crises in the Story Arc is his increasingly desperate efforts to ensure he doesn't lose her. When they are separated in the worst possible way — she is killed off in a Senseless Sacrfice he had no hope of preventing — AND he is promptly imprisoned in a giant torture chamber by his enemies, the result is that he goes stark raving mad, becomes The Unfettered, and risks all of space and time on an unattainable Tragic Dream: bringing her back from the grave. In the end, he does return to his best self...but it takes the help of Mind Rape, which causes him to lose his key memories of what made him love her and renders him unable to recognize her, to do so.
  • Season 4 of Supernatural introduced a Prophet who had been seeing visions of the Winchester brothers' adventures and writing a book series about them, selling them as fiction because he didn't know they were real. It was humorously treated as a nice way of adding metafiction to the series, but this raised a lot of Fridge Horror issues about Sam and Dean's entire lives and thoughts, fully detailed, being openly available for everyone to see. In season 8 one of the villains finally gets his hands on the books. He uses them to track down and kill off the people they have saved in the past so he can destroy their life's work and deny them the only comfort they have in knowing that these people are still alive because of them, while deconstructing their heroic self-image to break them.
  • In the original Sailor Moon Anime, Usagi and Naru were best friends, however as Usagi met the inner senshi, Naru started to appear less and less, until she disappeared completely in the fourth story arc. Although Naru Hand Waved it somewhere in the manga, there is no exploration upon the subject of how Usagi quickly dispenses with her best friend as new friends appeared. However, in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Naru losing Usagi's friendship becomes a plot point, Naru shows jealousy towards the inner senshi ('specially towards Ami), and shows how sad she is being replaced.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actively deals with much of the Fridge Horror from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and in many cases takes it a step further: SHIELD is a fraction of its former self, HYDRA is active, and loyal SHIELD agents who managed to avoid death at the hands of former friends or military detention by their own government are hunted as terrorists. Meanwhile, many of the dangerous people and artifacts SHIELD was originally created to contain are now out in the world.
  • It's noted numerous times how important having Anna was to Elsa in Frozen. When the characters appear in Once Upon a Time, the storyline essentially asks what would happen if Elsa didn't have a Morality Pet. Thankfully not with Elsa herself but rather her aunt Ingrid, who had ice powers like her. She accidentally hurt her sister with her powers and that resulted in her death. Her other sister (Elsa's mother) then sealed her away in an urn to protect the world from her. Now with no one to love her, Ingrid is a cold and merciless sorceress who seeks to make everyone destroy themselves for not being like her, while also trying to get Elsa to turn on Anna so that Ingrid will be the only family she has left.
    • It also deconstructs the small power the trolls display regarding memory manipulation. In the original, they basically wiped Anna's memories of Elsa's powers and these powers aren't brought up again. In OUAT? Memory manipulation is the one thing they major in, and everyone knows it, for good or ill. If the trolls are involved or mentioned, chances are it has to do with memories. People from across the land know stories of their powers, with one of them seeking to have them restore her memories while another asked them to wipe the memories of the entire kingdom to cover up the incident mentioned above, showing that these powers are not so easily ignored. And all while it follows the good ol' mantra of "all magic comes with a price".

  • Eminem's 2000 song "Stan", from The Marshall Mathers LP, ends with the eponymous Stan (an obsessed, stalkerish fan) dying by driving his car off a bridge. However, a throwaway line mentions that Stan's little brother Matthew "likes you (Eminem) more than I do". Come 2013, and the first song from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, "Bad Guy", is all about Matthew attempting to kidnap and murder Eminem, as he blames what happened to Stan on the latter's fanship of the former. And he succeeds.

  • The first act of Into the Woods is a cheerful Fractured Fairy Tale. The second act is every single nasty consequence of every single person's actions coming back to haunt them (and everyone else around them).
  • In Shrek The Musical, any struggles you could think of with Fiona being locked in one little room of the tower are lovingly spelled out in her verse of "I Think I Got You Beat", making it clear she was more a prisoner than anything. Sanity Slippage from isolation and boredom, minimal creature comforts (including needing to boil her chamberpot since she had no toilet), not much headroom when she grew taller... She even admits that it's a good thing the walls were padded.

    Video Games 
  • The Ecco the Dolphin series does this in Ecco: Tides Of Time, (the sequel to the original game) with the questions the concept of time travel raises. The original had Ecco time travel into the past one time to get a globe from past-Asterite to bring to present-Asterite, and another time to save his fellow dolphins from a Vortex invasion. One cannot help but think the developers noticed this left various questions about the effects of time travel in the minds of fans, because the sequel explored them in frightening and confusing depth.
  • Pokémon
    • Pokémon Black and White introduces Team Plasma, an Animal Wrongs Group that believes keeping Pokemon is slavery and forcing them to battle is cruel, which is an idea that's been around ever since the start of the franchise. However, it turns out that while N is sincere about his motives, Ghetsis only preached this to try and convince everyone else in the world to release their Pokémon so that he'll be the only one with Pokémon, thus delving even deeper into the back of the fridge. By definition, criminals don't obey the rules, so trying to stop people from using Pokemon altogether would only make things worse.
    • On the same note as Pokémon Special listed above, Pokémon Colosseum and XD let the Donphan out to play with Cipher attacking trainers that try to obstruct their operations. The S.S. Libra is the biggest case, with its human crew lost at sea after XD001 takes their ship away.
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, you play as a human who was turned into a Pokémon. In the ending, as your character is returning to the human world, they wish to stay a Pokémon. A lot of people found it offputting that they would choose to abandon the friends and family they presumably have back home forever. Two games later, in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, your partner is hesitant to wish you back for this exact reason.
    • Ever wonder why the villains don't use the Pokemon they own on people directly if Pokemon are so powerful, according to the Pokedex? Well, in the fangame Pokémon Reborn, they do, ranging from a few broken ribs (the best-case scenario) to death to GETTING YOUR SOUL BURNED AWAY INTO NOTHINGNESS. They even have machines that can amplify the powers of Pokemon, and the first one you find (on a Pokemon that's not even that strong, to boot) has ravaged an entire city area! Just imagine if they hooked the machines up to a Pokemon like Tyranitar or Gyrados...
  • When Marle is temporarily removed from the timestream early in Chrono Trigger, she's still alive and conscious in some sort of void. Chrono Cross explores the implications of changing the timestream and condemning people to that void.
  • As a game that incorporates time-travel The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time led to the belief that the adult timeline didn't vanish just because Link stopped Ganondorf in the past, leading to two splits:
    • First came The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which confirmed that theory, revealing that in said timeline the whole world was flooded because Ganon returned and Link wasn't there to stop him from taking over.
    • Then when the Hyrule Historia artbook was released, it confirmed that a third timeline existed that fans rarely acknowledged; if Link failed and died. This led to the "degradation of Hyrule" timeline that follows Hyrule after Ganondorf reaches and corrupts the Sacred Realm. This timeline where The Hero Dies spans several millennia as things go from bad (Link to the Past's World Half Full) to worst (Zelda I and II, where society was seven mildly populated towns among a massive barren wasteland of monsters).
    • Then you remember that Ganon is defeated for good in the original Zelda, meaning currently, the only way for Ganondorf to be defeated once and for all was for Ocarina of Time's Link to die.
  • The Extended Cut of Mass Effect 3 retconned various aspects of the endings, after fans pointed out that the original ending had accidentally caused several major Inferred Holocausts. However, getting the Destroy ending with low EMS takes all the horror from the vanilla endings and makes it that much worse.
  • The Mega Man Zero series used this trope to its advantage when it was called to make a Post-Script Season. Zero 3 was the original Grand Finale, and while its ending ties up most loose plot threads and resolves Zero's concern over his identity, it leaves one big loose end hanging—by the end of Zero 3, a revived Copy X and the remainder of his ruling cabinet are killed off, leaving Big Bad Dr. Weil alive and essentially with sole rulership over Neo Arcadia. Zero 4 explores this and kicks off its plot with a caravan of human refugees fleeing the hellhole that Neo Arcadia has become under Weil's iron fist.
  • Phantasy Star IV deconstructs the idea of "the chosen one" with Chaz. Being informed that he's one of the Protectors of the Seal, destined to defend Algo from the forces of evil, he outright rejects it, saying that mindlessly following the orders of an uncaring, distant god would make them no different than the story's villains.
  • In the third Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, that fact that one of the game's culprits was executed is a plot point. It's never stated whether any of the other killers you've helped convict were given the death penalty, but seeing as most of them don't appear afterwards, it's certainly likely, though it's never addressed. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, however, doesn't sidestep the issue: the true culprit of the second case is shown being executed on-screennote , and via horrifying Cruel and Unusual Death to boot.
  • The ending of Myst, at least the "good" ending", shows us the results of Atrus's decision on how he'll handle the atrocities that his son committed. That result left the player wondering what really happened to them when Atrus enacted his decision. Myst IV: Revelation put that wondering to rest quite firmly.
  • The "Moriya Arc" in Touhou note  introduces three new factions to Gensokyo, each wanting to expand their worshipers and ideology, and each having reason to dislike the others and the local authorities. With each introduction fans were wondering whether war would break out, and speculated endlessly over how it would happen. Then comes Hopeless Masquerade, where the human population falls into desperate pessimism because Gensokyo Is Always Doomed (another bit of Ascended Fridge Horror) and all three exploit the crisis to gather more faith for them themselves, fighting the other factions over worshipers. Turns out they were all manipulated by an independent party, though.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY, during the episode No Brakes, people noted that the White Fang mooks were being knocked off the train left and right, which even if they somehow survived that, they were still in a tunnel that was soon overrun by Grim. The next episode, Mercury flat out states "A lot of faunus didn't make it out of the tunnels."

    Web Original 
  • Marvel One-Shots: "Item 47" is about a couple who restore to working condition a Chitauri weapon that'd been laying around in the wreckage after the battle in New York. They then use it to go rob banks.

    Western Animation 
  • In Family Guy Meg is quite dark example of a Butt Monkey, being horribly abused by her parents and is always played for Black Comedy. The episode "Seahorse Seashell Party" deconstructs the abuse as a serious issue, turning her into The Woobie. Even Meg mentions that if people on the outside ever saw how Peter treats her, he would've been put in jail a long time ago. One would think Meg finally catches a break as her family breaks down in tears from the revelation, but Meg later realizes that the reason her family treats her like shit is because they need someone to expel all their negative energy into and without Meg for that, they would turn on each other. Meg decides to apologize for what she said and lets her family abuse her again for the sake of keeping everyone slightly sane. Some fans may see this as a cheap in-universe reason for why Meg is abused in nearly every episode, giving the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that abused people should continue to be abused if it keeps their abusers happy.
    • Ironically, the episode after that one involves domestic abuse and it's definitely not played for laughs!
  • Sonic SatAM did this with the concept of Robotnik turning innocent creatures into evil robots. The prior video games did not explore the process of roboticization in much depth, other than implying that the robots were more like mecha being piloted by a brainwashed animal (hence why a random critter pops out of one and runs away when a Badnik is smashed) while Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog sidesteps the issue by having Robotnik build the robots from scratch. SatAM, on the other hand, thoroughly explores the Body Horror and loss of identity implicit in the robotic transformations; Uncle Chuck stated that roboticized people actually know what they are doing, but cannot do anything about it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The series is built on the premise that some people can "bend" different elements: water, fire, earth, air. To waterbend, one needs a source of water to do it. During the second season a waterbender in a swamp bends vines, so it's clearly possible to bend things partially made of water. In the episode "The Puppetmaster" Katara meets a Waterbender elder who teaches her that she can draw water from almost anywhere: the ground, plants, even from the atmosphere around her. But wait! Isn't the human body 70% water? Can't a waterbender theoretically control a person or draw the water right out of them? In this episode, the creators answer those questions to a horrifying degree. Hama doesn't call it Bloodbending for no reason.
    • Sequel Series The Legend of Korra has many of its major and minor plot points based on the Fridge Horror of what if the special talents exhibited by the main characters became widely used. Ty Lee's chi-blocking is the main combat form of anti-bender terrorists, two major villains can Bloodbend, and Amon plans to rid the world of benders via a combination of the two.
    • The anti-bender movement of Season 1 in itself points out the downsides of being a normal guy in a world full of people who can tear steel and shoot lightning.
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise confirmed several fan theories that ending a hundred years war did not suddenly fix all problems created because of that war.
    • Season 3 of The Legend of Korra has new Airbenders popping up after Harmonic Convergence. Now, while the Air Nomads were pacifistic, developing their bending into a primarily defensive art, Fridge Horror has long abounded among the fans since discovering Monk Gyatso's body and those of the soldiers who tried to kill him regarding what an airbender could do if the user wasn't focusing on defense, especially since there isn't much that can easily stop an airbender. These fears have now been realized as the apparent Big Bad of the season is one of the new benders, and he is not holding back with his new powers. In a later episode, he even uses his powers to asphyxiate one of his victims.
      • In the Season 3 finale, Jinora leads a small group of relatively untrained airbenders into making a tornado to help Korra defeat the Arc Villain. A small tornado, granted, but the fact they were able to create something like with minimal training really drives home how powerful an airbender could be if they weren't pacifists.
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law liked to play around with some of the implications of various Hanna-Barbera cartoons, the one most following this trope being that The Jetsons really do live above a post-apocalyptic wasteland (as well as that commuting everywhere on moving sidewalks instead of walking means that even moving across a room under their own power is a monumental feat).
    • Furry Confusion is somewhat addressed in an episode where Augie Doggie And Doggie Daddy appear. Turns out sentient anthropomorphic dogs have no more rights than regular ones; Doggie Daddy is arrested for not having a license, sentenced to obedience training, fixed (try not to think of the many people in Real Life who have been sterilized against their will), and winds up so brainwashed from his ordeal that he is basically lobotomized. All Played for Laughs of course.
  • The Venture Bros. explore the dark idea of how messed up a boy adventurer would grow up to be and verbally expresses it through Rusty's despair of the gloomy future that awaits his boys only because they were born with the Venture name.
    • In this, the series as a whole can be considered Ascended Fridge Horror following on from Jonny Quest, since the format and characters were originally conceived as loose parodies of that show. Rusty is of course the grown-up Jonny. However, later on the producers discovered that they didn't have to rely on parody, since the rights to Jonny Quest were owned by Cartoon Network. So in the second season they re-ascended the fridge horror far more directly by introducing Jonny Quest himself as the recurring character of "Action Jonny". Jonny's characterization is dominated by two features: substance abuse, and deep mental scarring from his father. Basically, the same traits Rusty has, but dialed up so high that Rusty looks normal by comparison.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "Secret of My Excess" applies ascended fridge horror to the implications of a dragon living in a pony community, even though most other episodes before it stepped around it. Later, though the issue isn't explicitly dwelt on for very long, "Dragon Quest" addresses the fact that Spike is an orphaned child and neither he nor Twilight knows where his egg came from or who/where his real parents even are. Ouch.
    • It's been suggested by some that Fluttershy's Shrinking Violet characteristics are at least partially the result of childhood trauma. "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" establishes that she was bullied, but Rainbow Dash seemed to get it about as badly as her (at the hooves of the same bullies, no less), and look how she turned out. But then "Hurricane Fluttershy" shows us just how pervasive the problem really was, and how it affected her to the point that its resurgence is enough to provoke graphic, demonic hallucinations well into her adulthood.
    • "Keep Calm and Flutter On" confirms the popular theory that Discord is still aware of everything while in his stone prison.
    • "Princess Twilight Sparkle" revolves around how Discord, a massively vindictive Reality Warping Manipulative Bastard, left a few nasty surprises around for his captors even after he was defeated the first time, an idea that fan-fiction writers used constantly ever since his debut.
    • Despite the show itself glossing over it, fans quite reasonably speculated that Celestia being forced to banish her sister to the moon for a thousand years, to save Equestria from Nightmare Moon, would have been devastating to her. Cue Twilight's vision of the past in "Princess Twilight Sparkle", which shows Celestia desperately pleading with Luna to stop, tried to stop her by herself, only using the Elements of Harmony when it was clear Nightmare Moon was too powerful, and when she makes that decision she starts crying, one of only two times in the series she does so (the other being when Luna returns to her old self in the pilot).
    • Similarly, the first part of the season opener addresses Celestia's feelings about the Summer Sun Celebration, with Celestia confirming to Twilight that to her, the Celebration was for a thousand years little more than a bitter reminder of the banishment mentioned above, with Celestia putting on a brave face for her subjects while hiding her inner pain, and that she's happy that it can now be a reminder of their reunion.
    • When "It's About Time" introduced the realm of Tartarus, where various monsters and villains were sealed away, many people feared that someone may have been able to escape it while Cerberus was away from his post in that episode. The Tartarus plot point was even used in the "Feelin' Pinkie Keen" arc of webcomic Friendship is Dragons, complete with escaped prisoner, though it was a non-canon creature. In season 4's finale, it turned out Tirek HAD.
    • The same episode also addresses the fan theory that Discord may not have been sincere in his Heel–Face Turn.
    • Season Five's premiere had an antagonist that ascends a Fridge Horror that people have addressed regarding Cutie Marks and the social standing between those that have them and those that don't, along with other things by having a Motive Rant that revolves around her saying how she created harmony through taking away the Cutie Marks and replacing them with the same one. By the finale, we're revealed the villain's backstory, in which her friend manages to get a Cutie Mark before she did.
  • Adventure Time:
    • The Ice King's Aesop Amnesia and rampant sociopathy led to the idea that he is physically incapable of learning his lesson or changing in any way, and that he will be forever doomed to repeat the same behavior no matter how many times it fails. Cue the reveal of his backstory, which among other things shows this is exactly what happens.
    • The post-apocalyptic setting of the entire show sort of counts. Originally it was just sort of vaguely implied, but as the series progressed it gradually became more explicit until it became fully explicit, with Whole Episode Flashbacks and other front-and-center undeniable things dealing with it.
  • Many Scooby-Doo fans have pointed out the disturbing implications of the show's premise—specifically, that it's a rather odd coincidence that the Scooby-Doo universe is filled with adults who all decide to dress up like monsters to pull off weirdly complex criminal schemes for their own unrelated reasons. note  Well, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated finally explained it. It turns out that it isn't a coincidence, and the crimes aren't unrelated: there's an imprisoned Eldritch Abomination under the kids' hometown that's been exerting its psychic influence over people for centuries, inspiring them to take the form of monsters and commit evil acts. Also, at least some of them base their appearances on real monsters that inhabit an alternate dimension that can be glimpsed through dreams.
  • The Fairly OddParents! has Foop, who, from the start of his introduction episode, has a There Can Only Be One mindset with regards to Poof. However, it has been hinted that fairies and their anti-fairy counterparts are connected and anti-fairies rely on their counterparts to exist, leaving many to wonder what would happen to Foop if he ever succeeded in eliminating Poof. The answer comes around in "Timmy's Secret Wish" when Foop manages to get Timmy branded as the worst Godkid to exist and have all his wishes erased, including Poof. In the middle of celebrating his success, Jorgen tells Foop that as Poof's Anti-Fairy, his existence is erased as well. Following being restored, Foop went from seeking Poof's destruction to being The Rival, since he realized that killing Poof would kill himself.
  • Gravity Falls has Journal 3 to provide further and often darker details about several parts of the show.
    • It showed that Bill was planning to kill Dipper when done with him after the events of Sock Opera.
    • It also confirmed fan theories that Mc Gucket had had multiple bad experiences working with Ford even before the portal incident.
    • Also revealed where all the bodies that became zombies in Scary-oke came from.