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[[quoteright:350:[[Franchise/{{Terminator}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/terminator_in_flames_8645.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:From Creator/{{James Cameron}}'s [[BasedOnADream nightmares]] to yours!]]

->''"What do you fear?"''
-->-- '''Music/FearFactory''', "Fear Campaign"
%%One quote is enough. no more, please.

This is the stuff so horrifying that it can give people the creeps for years. This scares the pants off of just about anyone to the author/creator's delight. This makes you shrink in the back of your chair (or maybe even [[Series/DoctorWho hide behind the sofa]]), look over your shoulder, and remind yourself that what's going on is (usually) only fictional.

For many {{horror}} films, achieving this effect is the whole point (and many in-universe examples arise because KidsShouldntWatchHorrorFilms). For [[HollywoodPsych some reason]], many of us like to be scared on purpose. There may be a euphoria generated by surviving something that seems scary, or maybe we know that fiction can't hurt us (not physically, anyway) and the idea of choosing to be scared without the danger is fun. Some think it's cathartic or therapeutic in some way to explore our fears from a position of relative safety. In any case, this is normal for the genre. Others are [[NightmareFetishist fascinated by the very things that most people avoid]]. Many a time, it overlaps with {{Squick}}.

Similarly, some {{Public Service Announcement}}s choose to employ terrifying imagery in order to [[ScareEmStraight keep people away from doing dangerous things]]. These can be sources of FridgeHorror as well, as those from different cultures or eras past can demonstrate some intensely creepy {{Family Unfriendly Aesop}}s.

On the other hand, Nightmare Fuel doesn't exist just in the horror genre and is not always the main focus of the films and shows in which it is present. In the case of such movies and shows where Nightmare Fuel or anything related to horror is far from the norm, it can be unsettling when it does occur due to the [[MoodWhiplash stark contrast]], especially if the genre of the film or show is far from horror, such as comedy or animation, [[WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids or when in a show with a very specific target demographic]].

Experiences may vary from person to person. Some people, for example, may find the invasion of monstrosities which are treated as benign to be a far more terrifying prospect than things which we need to explicitly fear. Think the difference between the monster who lives under your bed when you're grown up versus the monster who lives under your bed and [[VillainOverForDinner fist-bumps your parents]] when you were a young child.

This is an AudienceReaction, so leave it on YMMV and Nightmare Fuel tabs and don't get too worked up about what specifically goes into it -- what's NightmareRetardant for one person may well be Nightmare Fuel for another. Focus on what frightens ''you'', not what you think may or may not frighten someone else.

For examples where this trope comes about as the result of FridgeLogic rather than anything occurring onscreen, please see FridgeHorror.

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!!Notes to editors:
All Nightmare Fuel examples should be specific and provide details. This is not TroperTales, so don't write in first person.

* This is a page whose name is intended to be taken more literally than most. It's not enough for material to be scary; to truly qualify, it has to be frightening enough to legitimately unnerve/disturb the viewer, with actually being nightmare-inducing as the ultimate endpoint.
** Good signs that something IS Nightmare Fuel include if:
*** It left you feeling shaken even after the credits had rolled, you turned the last page, or are otherwise done with the work.
*** You have a hard time falling asleep if you think about it at night, or have a literal nightmare about it.
*** You dread that episode, scene, level, chapter, or song during re-watches, and consider skipping it.
** With that said, don't add something just because it happens to be your personal phobia. For example, spiders can be scary and many people have arachnophobia, but just because a spider happens to be in the work, it does not make a Nightmare Fuel entry. It needs to reasonably be scary to someone without the phobia.
** Don't confuse tension with fear. If the hero is in trouble, but you know he'll make it out okay at the end, it's probably not Nightmare Fuel unless the threat is especially disturbing.
* Explain WHY the entry scared you. Try to convey your sense of fear to your readers. Avoid putting up ZeroContextExamples.
** Remember that WeblinksAreNotExamples, and neither are quotes on their own. You should explain the horror in your own words, rather than rely on others to do so.
* Don't add things that ''might'' have scared someone. If it didn't scare you, and you don't personally know anyone else who was scared, you shouldn't be adding it to Nightmare Fuel.
* Nightmare Fuel should stick to you even after you're done with the work.
** If something is initially presented as scary but turns out to be harmless, it's most likely not Nightmare Fuel since TheReveal makes the scariness vanish.
** {{Jump Scare}}s are a good source of Nightmare Fuel, but not all of them automatically qualify: being startled is not the same as being scared.
* Hypotheticals are not Nightmare Fuel:
** Remember that TrailersAlwaysLie: a scene that is presented as scary in the trailer could very well turn out to be inoffensive in the finished work. Only add examples from unreleased works if they were especially terrifying in the previews.
** Fan theories do not belong on the Nightmare Fuel page under any circumstance. No matter how much evidence they have to support them, don't add them until they've been officially confirmed. In the meanwhile, take them to WildMassGuessing.
** FridgeHorror goes on the {{Fridge}} page, not Nightmare Fuel. Don't add it unless it's AscendedFridgeHorror.
* Keep in mind the work's intended audience when considering whether or not something is Nightmare Fuel.
** If something is normal or expected in the genre, it does not automatically qualify. Violence in a FightingSeries or gore in a horror movie must be especially disturbing or gruesome by the work's standards to be Nightmare Fuel.
** Remember that KidsShouldntWatchHorrorFilms. If a work is rated PG-13 or higher but would only be scary to young children, it's not Nightmare Fuel.
** The standards on what qualifies as Nightmare Fuel are especially stringent on works aimed at children and pre-teens: kids have hyperactive imaginations, so even something benign can give them nightmares.
* Spoiler tags do not belong on Nightmare Fuel pages. Much of what scares us comes from [[SpoileredRotten inherently spoilery stuff]] such as death and the unknown, so finding spoilers on these pages should be expected.

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!!Some examples of things that are generally Nightmare Fuel include -- but are not limited to -- the following:

[[index]]
* [[EnemyRisingBehind Who's that behind you?]]
* [[SurrealHorror Surreal sequences]], usually [[DerangedAnimation animated]]. Surreal due to the UncannyValley.
* [[CompleteMonster Characters so vile and horrific in their actions that it is completely impossible to find any kind of redeeming quality in them]].
* [[{{Gorn}} Extreme violence]] and [[CruelAndUnusualDeath deaths]].
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown. Seeing the poor victim get ''savaged'' in gory detail can have one cringing in fear.
* The [[{{Squick}} disgusting]] [[BrainBleach images]] associated with NauseaFuel.
* [[FanDisservice Disturbing sexual imagery]].
* [[BodyHorror Unsettling body structures, human or not]].
* NightmareSequence, disturbing dream sequences and hallucinations straight out of a nightmare.
* [[NightmareFace Horrifically mutated, distorted, injured, or... unreal faces.]]
* ParanoiaFuel -- when things that should be harmless, or on your side, turn nasty.
* {{Primal Fear}}s: possibly the most universally frightening of the mix; stuff that generally everyone gets the creeps from. Includes but is not limited to:
** The [[NothingIsScarier unknown]].
** Swarms of fear-inducing animals such as [[SwarmOfRats rats]], [[ReptilesAreAbhorrent snakes]], [[SpiderSwarm spiders]], or [[TheSwarm insects]].
** Being [[BuriedAlive buried alive]]... or [[EatenAlive eaten alive]].
** Being [[RapeAsDrama raped]] - [[MarsNeedsWomen especially by something that isn't human]].
** [[KillItWithFire People being set on fire]], or fire endangering the lives of people while they struggle to escape.
** Being drowned, particularly if it's done very slowly...
** Being trapped without escape with a violent and/or unpredictable human/animal/thing that wants to harm you.
** [[CessationOfExistence Being erased from existence]], whether if there's NothingAfterDeath or being [[{{Retgone}} actively erased by something, or someone.]]
* {{Adult Fear}}s. Those things children seldom worry about: economic failure, romantic failure, [[MissingChild having your child disappear]] or, worse, watching helplessly as your children die, or possibly even TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt. Bonus points if this (or even any of the other) Nightmare Fuel scene(s) was/were [[BasedOnATrueStory what actually happened in history/real life.]]
* {{Transformation Sequence}}s with plenty of BodyHorror, including {{Chest Burster}}s.
* Rotting corpses, [[ZombieApocalypse possibly reanimated]]. [[PeekABooCorpse Especially those that suddenly appear to scare us without warning.]]
* [[TheVirus Diseases]]. [[ObliviouslyEvil They have no intelligence to bear anyone ill will]], but once an infection/outbreak occurs, the attack will never stop until they are completely annihilated... or their victims are.
* Mutilation of specific body parts, such as [[EyeScream the eyes]], [[FacialHorror face]], [[{{Fingore}} fingers]], [[TheToothHurts teeth]], [[GroinAttack genitalia]], or even worse than those injuries.
* [[FateWorseThanDeath Fates so horrific one can only wish for death]]. [[TakenForGranite Being turned into stone]], [[SealedRoomInTheMiddleOfNowhere being trapped in another dimension]], [[AndIMustScream being encased in a tomb for eternity]], or [[UnwillingRoboticisation being forcefully made into a machine without consent]].
* A sexual or romantic obsession with someone that goes too far.
* The incredible depravity and monstrosity of human beings at their absolute worst.
* [[AxCrazy Psychotic behavior]] presented in a [[CuteAndPsycho disturbingly]] [[PsychopathicManchild childish]], [[StepfordSmiler calm]], or [[DissonantSerenity serene]] manner, alluding to the potential inhumane [[EmptyShell nature]] of the individual.
* Former heroes committing [[MoralEventHorizon completely reprehensible acts both]] [[ObliviouslyEvil willingly]] [[MindControlEyes or]] [[GrandTheftMe worse]] [[BrainwashedAndCrazy unwillingly.]]
* [[SurrealHorror Surreal]] [[OurMonstersAreWeird monsters]] and {{Eldritch Abomination}}s that have [[BodyHorror horrific appearances]].
* {{Soundtrack Dissonance}}, when used correctly, can make a scene scarier.
* Being [[FetusTerrible pregnant]] with an EldritchAbomination or other evil entity, or your [[EnfantTerrible child]] becoming one of these things.
* [[DespairEventHorizon Losing all reason or]] [[DrivenToSuicide willpower to continue living]].
* [[BigBrotherIsWatching A totalitarian authority]] [[TheCaligula of any kind]] so harsh that one wishes to die or escape from it.
* A CrapsackWorld so vast and immutable that revolution, change, or even escape is a laughable impossibility.
* Death and destruction.
* [[WombLevel Being inside a living creature]].
* [[ImAHumanitarian Consumption of people]] [[ToServeMan as food]]. [[ExtremeOmnivore Wanna take that many steps even further?]]
* [[MindRape Having your mind played with]], be it [[LaserGuidedAmnesia wiping your memory out]], {{mind control}}, [[BrainwashedAndCrazy brainwashing]], {{gaslighting}}, re-enacting past horrific events, [[MindProbe invasion of your thoughts]], or whatever else comes to mind.
* [[SuperPersistentPredator Being hunted]] '''[[HuntingTheMostDangerousGame AND]]''' [[ImplacableMan chased endlessly.]]
* [[HellIsThatNoise Disturbing noises]]. And by extension, [[VoiceOfTheLegion disturbing]] [[CreepyMonotone voices]].
* [[CreepyChildrenSinging Creepy children singing]], especially in menacingly slow horror scenes, that suggest some sort of supernatural uncontrollable evil entity being around and even worse, taking the form of innocence - a child.
* Having your body controlled by something to do horrible things, [[AndIMustScream yet your mind is unaltered and all you can do is watch helplessly, without being able to do a single thing to stop it.]]
* [[EatTheCamera When the mouth completely takes up the screen, especially in black.]] Getting SwallowedWhole in the process.
* MonumentalDamage - especially if the viewer lives near and/or has visited said monument.
* {{Impale|dWithExtremePrejudice}}ment on stalagmites, swords, or anything of the like.

Tropes used to invoke this feeling are HorrorTropes. Tropes ''about'' fear are FearTropes. If it is ''unintentionally'' scary, it's AccidentalNightmareFuel. If it is meant to scare but fails to deliver, and [[{{Narm}} becomes hilarious instead]], it devolves into NightmareRetardant. Characters that are this InUniverse are TheDreaded.

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!!Examples, by Medium

[[index]]
* NightmareFuel/{{Advertising}}
** [[NightmareFuel/PublicServiceAnnouncement Public Service Announcements]]
* NightmareFuel/AnimeAndManga
* NightmareFuel/{{Art}}
* NightmareFuel/ComicBooks
* NightmareFuel/{{Fanfiction}}
* NightmareFuel/{{Film}}
* NightmareFuel/{{Literature}}
** NightmareFuel/{{Gamebooks}}
* NightmareFuel/LiveActionTV
* NightmareFuel/{{Manhwa}}
* NightmareFuel/{{Music}}
* NightmareFuel/MusicVideos
* NightmareFuel/MythologyAndFolklore
* NightmareFuel/{{Opera}}
* NightmareFuel/PlayByPostGames
* NightmareFuel/ProfessionalWrestling
* NightmareFuel/{{Roleplay}}
* NightmareFuel/TabletopGames
* NightmareFuel/ThemeParks
* NightmareFuel/VanityPlate
* NightmareFuel/VideoGames
* NightmareFuel/VisualNovels
* NightmareFuel/WebAnimation
* NightmareFuel/{{Webcomics}}
* NightmareFuel/WebOriginal
* NightmareFuel/WesternAnimation
** NightmareFuel/WesternAnimationTV
** NightmareFuel/WesternAnimationFilm
* NightmareFuel/{{Other}}
[[/index]]

And in case you're planning on sleeping tonight... [[SugarWiki/SweetDreamsFuel here y'go]].

''This item is also now available in our '''TropeCo''' catalog.''
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