Fridge Horror

"What happened to all the sadness and horror that used to traumatize children in the '80s? Where did we go wrong? Fortunately, the traumatizing moments are still there, just better hidden."

No, not last week's leftover tuna casserole.

Fridge Horror is, simply put, when something becomes terrifying after the fact. Maybe you thought about this or that plot point a little too hard, and suddenly you realize that everyone was trapped in stasis forever, or that the lovable child will grow up in a world where everyone around her is dead. This can be either intentional or unintentional by the author.

Fridge Horror comes in two flavors:

Frozen-By-Time: As a young one, you are too young to comprehend the Nightmare Fuel right before your eyes, but as an older person, you immediately wonder how you got through it unscarred.

Quickthaw: The Nightmare Fuel isn't there until you take a good, long, deep thought and think about it.

If you're looking for a trope about the scary things in people's fridges, then you should go to It Came from the Fridge. Or possibly Stuffed In The Fridge. Compare Deconstruction, where the Real Life consequences of a trope reveals its flaws. Contrast Fridge Brilliance, the difference being that the realization is insightful rather than frightening (though the two can overlap). A leading cause of Surprise Creepy. Contrast Backstory Horror, when this is overt and Word of God. Also see Oh Crap!, the expression people will likely have after realizing such horror.

It should also be noted that authors sometimes unwittingly inflict Fridge Horror on themselves, when they realize the implications of whatever it is they wrote.

In short, this trope can be best summed up as Fridge Logic + Nightmare Fuel.

Let's Meet the Meat is a common cause for this in adverts. For examples, see that page.

Contrast Nightmare Retardant, Faux Horrific.

When a work incorporates the Fridge Horror into canon, it's Ascended Fridge Horror. When a character in-story contemplates something that seemed innocuous and then realizes the horror, it's Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!.