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Films — Animated
- Toy Story 3. An odd example, since it's not a nightmare for any humans involved. Andy is now 17 and heading for college. He tries to put his old toys in the attic for storage, since they have a lot of sentimental value for him. But a mix-up during cleaning gets them donated to Sunnyside Daycare by accident. At first it seems like a dream come true for the toys, since any time the kids get older, newer and younger children will simply come in to replace them. However, it isn't long before the they learn Lots-O-Huggin Bear runs the daycare and rules over the other toys like a dictator. He forces the new arrivals into the "Caterpillar" room, where the children are all toddlers who are too young to know how to play with those particular toys. They break real fast. And anytime a toy tries to either escape the facility or move themselves to the "Butterfly" room where the older, more well behaved children are, Lots-O's guards will grab them and imprison them until the next morning when the kids return.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Pursuit of Happyness, Gardner has to leave his son at a daycare while he desperately tries to make ends meet for his family. However, he becomes increasingly displeased with the service because the children seem to receive no education at all, have to watch TV the whole day, and a mural outside the daycare spells "Happyness" rather than "Happiness".
- The main setting of the first three seasons of Smosh Babies is a run-down daycare center owned by the appropriately-named Mrs. Buttz. Half the time, she is apathetic towards the children of her clients, and the other half the time, she and her dog, Bark-Bark, enforce physical violence on them. In the first season, the playground was rusted-up and guarded by a trio of three-year-old bullies, and in the second season, it was replaced by a parking lot for old people note . The Daycare's certificate of authenticity is revealed to be expired, and on top of all that, the daycare apparently doesn't have a diaper service, as there is a shed near it that has the sole purpose of storing soiled diapers.
- The Creepypasta story Happy Sun Daycare centers around one of these. The narrator, a reporter for an online news site, decides to do an investigation on the titular daycare, which had closed years prior to when the story begins. Throughout the story, he finds out that people heard strange noises and children were found with mysterious injuries. He then learns that particularly unruly children were sent to the "Gray Door" room and trapped inside with a vicious dog as punishment. After heading to the abandoned daycare and investigating the aforementioned "Gray Door" room, he comes to the horrifying realization that it wasn't a dog that was used to terrorize the children but the janitor who happens to be a werewolf completely unaware of the horror he had caused.
- Rugrats had a couple of episodes centered around this.
- One episode had Tommy dropped off at a daycare where the staff acted like prison guards and proudly proclaimed to the parents that there had never been an escape. Tommy and the other babies try to do just that until the parents just happen to show up at the moment they were about to break out.
- Subverted in another episode where Chuckie and Kimi are sent to another daycare center. This one is shown to be a very cool and fun place. But Chuckie, being the shy, paranoid, easily frightened little boy he is still spends the whole episode expecting something bad to happen until his sister finally convinces him to chill out....literally, they're having ice cream!
- The Simpsons holds multiple examples, all used on plots regarding Maggie:
- The episode "A Streetcar Named Marge" showcased a daycare center that ran like The Alcatraz (and to take things further, it was named after Ayn Rand) that locked pacifiers away to force children to stop depending on them. The whole sub-plot with Maggie then runs like a parody of The Great Escape.
- The Three Shorts episode "Four Great Women And A Manicure" goes further with the Randian psychology by making the whole Maggie plot/short a parody of The Fountainhead, having Maggie battling a daycare center principal that enforced conformism amongst all children (to "train them" for lives where they were all the same... that is, mediocre and accepting of it) and thus sees Maggie's artistic aspirations as a threat.
- The episode "Eeny Teeny Maya Moe" has Homer using a daycare center that had just opened right next to Moe's Bar to leave Maggie while he gets drunk. It turns out that the kids in the center are all hyper-territorial bullies that gang up on Maggie, and none of the adults in the center (and the Simpsons, at least at first) notice this.
- In an episode of Family Guy Stewie is in a daycare center where the caretaker just doesn't care. Brian wants to help him, until he meets the caretaker and she's hot. Then he doesn't want to help, hoping to have sex with her instead.
- A couple of episodes of Adventure Time have the Candy Kingdom Preschool, where the kids run riot because the elderly Candy Nanny has dementia and no limbs.