Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant
"Oh, you're already awake. I messed up."
"Well, thank you so much for turning my vague, formless paranoia into a concrete and palpable psychosis!"
A character, often a Cloudcuckoolander
, whose innocent attempt to make something (typically a drawing) comes across as Nightmare Fuel
— to the other characters. Unlike with normal Nightmare Fuel, other characters in the show will notice how horrifying the drawing/poem/song/story is, but the innocent NFSA sees nothing wrong with their tale of baby eating zombies or the drawing of a "miniature poodle" that looks more like the ungodly offspring of a hellhound and a C.H.U.D.
More generally, this kind of character will be simply a casual observer to some frightening or grotesque phenomenon who either doesn't bat an eye or responds with some kind of snarky comment (and no, they're never meant to be a Stepford Snarker
). It will often be a child or a "simple" person
who doesn't comprehend the danger, or else a Jerkass
or Misanthrope Supreme
who genuinely doesn't give a damn what
happens. Either way, you can expect that saner characters will be almost as creeped out by this character's reaction as by the actual threat.
Frequent features of the works of a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant are:
- A childish outlook on mature issues, such as a stick figure drawing of a bloody massacre.
- Disturbing and mundane elements mixed, often in the Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick or Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking forms.
- Lack of knowledge of proportion, perspective, shading, etc. produces monstrous looking drawings of real objects, or images which tumble head-first down the Uncanny Valley.
- Fridge Horror, especially when a sentence is a Double Entendre or could be looked at in different ways. For example, while being alone in a dark abandoned school is scary, not being alone is possibly even scarier.
Frequently combined with Room Full of Crazy
, Creepy Child
or Dissonant Serenity
tropes when the writers need to give their characters that extra little bit of creepy.
Compare Nightmare Fetishist
, Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book
. The very existence of (unintentional examples of) the Uncanny Valley
proves this trope is Truth in Television
. Not to be confused with Creepy Gas Station Attendant
(not that those can't be this).
Tropes invoking a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant:
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Anime & Manga
- Kiriyama of Battle Royale may not be a Cloudcuckoolander but, since he lost all his emotions, he sees nothing wrong with killing his classmates. The way he manages to be merciless is constantly lampshaded by a good deal of his classmates.
- Kaede (the anime edition) from SHUFFLE! is a non-Cloudcuckoolander example.
- Kafuka Fuura from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. Much of her work comes across this way, but in particular, when she gives a scratchy recording of the Traumerei lyrics about "soup made by a lady in a catskin", "a neighbourhood where all the old ladies have disappeared" and "a hole as deep as a young man's height", inadvertently producing a song that can drive any who listen to it paranoid, depressed and insane, yet dancing to it as though it were an upbeat piece of pop music.
- On one occasion, Kafuka was assigned by Itoshiki-sensei to brainstorm ways that aliens could make contact with Earth. Kafuka immediately proceeds to describe a method that the aliens could use to take over the world without anyone noticing, before concluding that humanity will likely remain completely unaware, even as it is converted into a livestock race. At no point does it dawn on her that this might be in any way disturbing.
- A common fan theory, well supported in the anime, is that she is in fact a (literal) demon and doing it deliberately.
- Matarou also falls into this trope occasionally.
- What about Chiri Kitsu? "Meat doll", indeed.
- Kaoru Yamazaki of Welcome to the N.H.K.. As he has no experience of women beyond anime, he fails to see the problem with drawing a Moe Moe character who is a sickly, injured, ghost robot schoolgirl maid - indeed, he thinks the character would be an appropriate, attractive heroine for an H-Game.
- The most disturbing this is, however, that he is the most well-balanced character in the series and apparently gets happily married at the end. And indeed, while his issues may be disturbing, he doesn't let them become an obstacle to his life, unlike every other character.
- When told to draw her fantasy future, Orihime from Bleach draws a chaotic and bizarre picture featuring herself as a deadly robot on a rampage through a destroyed city◊ (with missiles exactly where you'd expect), confusing and disturbing the other students greatly (comically, though). Nemu is also an example; in one of the manga omake, she drew a cell phone that was so disturbing and perverted that it physically repulsed the other Shinigami Women's Association members (and had to be censored, leaving it to the readers' imagination just how perverted and disturbing it is).
- Parodied in Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan with Dokuro's casual drawing of a beautiful and calm lake, which in her view is filled with dead bodies and blood, greatly disturbing her drawing mate Sakura.
- In Azumanga Daioh, the second year school festival garnered a rather disturbing suggestion from Osaka regarding how to combine a haunted house, a café, and a stuffed animal display.
Osaka: It's a café filled with adorable animals... and they're all dead.
- Little Kikuri from Hell Girl likes to draw mutilated stick-figure bodies. Granted, she is an attendant of hell...
- Her drawings are just about the least disturbing thing about her - how about the time when she threw flowers over a teenager dying from a traffic accident, after telling him that Hell is real, and then running away giggling.
- Guu from Haré+Guu. When everyone is trying to draw the creature that took Haré's mom based on the descriptions, Guu draws a picture that causes crying, fainting and several people to run away in terror. The audience is never shown the picture, though.
- Mytho from Princess Tutu becomes one of these in the second season when his heart is tainted with Raven's blood. He performs a ballet dance to "Night On Bald Mountain" (which those who have seen Fantasia will remember as the sequence with Chernabog summoning demons) with gestures that make his hands seem clawed and an intense, angered and almost pained look on his face. It sends a group of female dance students screaming when they watch it. He also later tells a character that he wants them to take out his heart, then "kiss it and dye your lips crimson with my blood." It's hard to tell if he's trying to scare her or if he actually thinks it's romantic.
- Ritsuko Akagi fills this position several times in the show.
- Konoka Konoe of Mahou Sensei Negima! has one of these:
Negi: H-haa.. okay...?
Chamo: Konoka-neesan, that's too grim! Too grim!
- Haruna, peeved that her close friends wouldn't inform a Muggle such as herself about the existence of magic, threatens to thoroughly torture each one of them, while drawing pictures for them of how she'll do it (thankfully, that's as far as she goes). In general, lots of characters comment on how scary Haruna is.
- Chizuru acts like this for both Kotaro and Natsumi, despite apparently being completely powerless. However, she does seemingly summon large onion stalks (to be used as suppositories) at will (and she's extremely ready to apply them as per the previous parenthetical statement), and she's already been seen slapping a high-level demon without thinking twice about it. So while it hasn't been shown why yet, she might be inspiring fear for very good reason.
- Mutsumi from Love Hina ends up one of these whenever she recounts an episode of her favorite TV show from when she was a kid, Liddo-kun's Big Adventure, similar to a scenario she and her friends are facing... except she always recalls her example from Liddo-kun ending in some horrific disaster, leaving Naru and Keitaro (who also used to watch Liddo-kun) skeptical that it actually happened that way.
- Sakura, an extremely Ill Girl from Betterman who has very sensitive extrasensory perception and precognition. A tragic figure overall, having ultimately low prospects for survival, the fact that her whispery voice narrates every On the Next preview, in which she always foretells a grisly future (like how worms will eat your flesh. While you're still alive), takes her into this territory.
- In the Skypiea arc of One Piece, Nico Robin assures Nami and Chopper that Zoro is alright after saving Chopper from sky sharks, because "the clouds haven't turned red yet."
- Robin is actually quite good at this. Other examples include telling Nami that she's 50 meters up and she'll die if she falls, suggesting that their new boat should be named "Being of Darkness", and finding a Cerberus cute while it was attacking her. And this is her when she's joking; considering her powers, if you make her mad, you'll never stop having nightmares...that is, if you survive...
- Stepford Smiler Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia thinks nothing of his heart dropping onto the table in the middle of an Allied Powers meeting. According to him, it just "falls out occasionally". The others are grossed out and tell him "put it back on! eeeew!"
- Finland, of all people, might be an example of this trope, considering some of the things he does.
*on the name of his new dog* I like Bloody Flower Egg
! Sweden (his partner and self-declared husband):
... Le's think 'bout tha'...lat'r...
- Hungary is also shown and revealed to be this, whether it's her penchant for scary things (in her Chapter 5 profile), Krampus escapades or managing to freak out Prussia like a deranged stalker.
- Seiichirou Kitano, the protagonist of Angel Densetsu, is a nice take on this trope: to the readers he's funny, but to the other characters in the manga, he's a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant just by being around. (Yes, he's that scary)
- Let's bury the dog. That'll make him all better
- The eponymous character from Franken Fran is the definition of a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant.
- What's especially notable is how she manages to terrify everyone. Customers, clients, bystanders, collegues, even her own twisted creations; there is not a single individual who will not be retching or screaming around her at some point. And she's still endlessly adorable.
- The title character of Mato-chan is fascinated by bugs and frequently voices conclusions about her grade-school life that are informed by the anatomy and life cycles of insects (such as the tendency of female Praying Mantises to eat their mates).
- Yuno from Mirai Nikki is an extreme version of this and the readers/viewers love her for it.
- Sawako (albeit unintentionally) from Kimi ni Todoke. In-universe, with those forced smiles.
- Johan Liebert of Monster.
- Faust VIII of Shaman King.
- The wizard Cob from Goro Miyazaki's Tales from Earthsea is this. Especially after his Villainous Breakdown, he is terrifying.
- In Yuru-Yuri, Chinatsu is this. While she appears to be an extremely innocent moe-machine at first glance, her aggressive approach to winning Yui-senpai's heart occasionally traumatizes Akari and her drawings ... oh God her drawings! The other girls are horrified by them.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! R, pretty much all the Card Professors are eccentric, but Tilla Mook seems to fit this Trope; she not only uses monsters based on vampires, she seems to believe she is one, hanging out in a room resembling a cemetery and referring to her ace card, Vampire's Curse, as her "master". This is further emphasized by the way the Solid Vision Hologram system of the Duel Disks interpret Vampire Curse's effect; when summoned from the Graveyard this way, Tilla offers it her neck and it drinks her blood, at which points her Life Points decrease by 1,000 (the cost for using the effect), and the monster gains 500 Attack Points via the card effect.
- A Different Medius has Bebo Cole, the only friendly Specter that Buwaro and co. have encountered thus far. Looks like a strangled corpse with a broken neck (which he is), whose mouth is forever bleeding? Check! Casually talks about the fact that Specters are dead demons and angels, among other disturbing topics, like it was nothing? Check!
- In the Daria fandom is a group known as The Angst Lords. Their stories specialize in Horrifying Implications and My God, What Have I Done? moments guaranteed to leave you with the desire to hug someone tightly to reassure yourself that the story is over and, indeed, fictional.
- Rose, from Eyes Without a Face, and by extension the story's author. The way she calmly comments on all the horrible things that happen throughout the story can be VERY UNSETTLING.
- While Robin is this in canon and Kakashi doesn't shy away from it, they talk about various nightmarish scenarios in Fly Free. This is followed by similar conversations between Robin and Gaara.
- Discord plays this role in The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum. Though not for the reason you expect.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Starlight Over Detrot, Slip Stitch falls right into this. He's a cheerful, happy, perky coroner who runs a morgue 'n' ice cream shoppe. (Two guesses where he keeps the ice cream.) And after Hardy gets himself killed, he wakes up in that morgue, and gets to read a lovely little description of what Slip Stitch wanted to do to his corpse. In happy, chirpy, perky notes. No guesses what character he's following in the hoofsteps of.
- The snowmen built by Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes?. His father at one point was wondering about taking him to a shrink...
- The Far Side had one comic of a boy taking a severed head in a jar to show and tell. Although Larson deliberately made the head look more goofy-looking than gruesome, his editor still rejected it, but you can find it in The Prehistory of the Far Side.
- Liō, the main character from the comic strip of the same name, is the newspaper comic strip flag carrier for this trope.
- Gahan Wilson did a one-panel comic of a man painting a picture of horrific nightmare beings, cheerfully telling an anxious onlooker "I paint what I see!" - and this was the title of one of his cartoon collection books.
Films — Animated
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Anyone from Halloweentown. Although who can really blame them for decorating XMAS with spiders, bats, coffins, jack o lanterns, and shrunken heads? To them, it's all very merry.
- In Pixar's A Bug's Life, the schoolchildren enthusiastically present a painting they made, depicting the battle between the "Warriors" and the grasshoppers, with various scenes of horrible carnage. The highlight of this is the kindly and lovable caterpillar, Heimlich, shown as cut neatly in half, on their teacher's recommendation that the scene needed drama. When poor Heimlich saw it, he went from green to white in an instant.
- Satan himself (or rather, his nephew, who is supposed to be a non-fallen angel) gets this role in a segment of the animated film The Adventures of Mark Twain, based on his story "The Mysterious Stranger" (YouTube link). As if the unnerving animation wasn't enough, he builds an adorable little claymation village for the children to play with - and then kills all the residents brutally while talking about how silly and petty humanity is. Popular rumor to the contrary, this scene is on the DVD release of the movie, in all its glory, although it has been known to be cut out of TV airings.
What's worse is in that in the original story, the Angel has such a force of personality that the characters still loved him greatly, even while they're horrified by his very detached view of humanity. At one point he causes a friend of theirs to drown, instead of allowing him to live to an old age, where he'll be bed-ridden for '30 years', viewing it as being more merciful. It's implied he's such a horrifying bastard because like other angels, he has no knowledge of good and evil, having never eaten the Forbidden Fruit.
Films — Live-Action
- Julian Beck in Poltergeist II: The Other Side, especially when crooning his Ironic Nursery Tune. The fact that Beck was literally dying of cancer shows in his character, too.
- Sheriff Merrill from The Tommyknockers. She collects foreign dolls, most of which look completely terrifying. Predictably, on a school field trip, one the children is frightened. All these fears eventually come to motion when they come alive and break her skull.
- Patrick Bateman's frequent morbid sketches throughout the book/film American Psycho certainly qualify, assuming you believe the Alternate Character Interpretation that is Patrick imagining all of the horrible things he is said to have done in the novel/movie.
- Parodied in Scary Movie 3, with Cody's bizarre drawing of Samara parody Tabitha.
- The MST3K episode Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders not only has plenty of Nightmare Fuel, but an unwitting NFSA in the form of Grandpa Ernest Borgnine, whose whimsical, heartwarming bedtime stories are filled with terrifying monsters and cute animal death (ironically, this is instead of letting him watch a horror movie). Mike and the bots parody this in one segment when they begin reading a series of children's books written by Ernest Borgnine. They all have cute covers and innocuous titles but feature sickening amounts of death and torture. (All except the book titled "Dr. Blood's Orgy of Gore" which is about a group of bunnies who get sweaters.)
The monkey killed the dog
I told you, it's a bad toy
What happens next? Does it kill Michael? Borgnine:
Well, now you're getting ahead of me.
- This unfortunate problem results from a very, very simple incredibly bad idea; the movie was made from two failed horror movies (including one that blatantly plagiarized Stephen King)... but they couldn't get them picked up like that, so they retooled them as a single family film, using exactly the same stories. The very fact that someone thought it was a good idea to greenlight this script as a family film may make this Truth in Television, to a degree.
- In a variant of this, Sharon from the Silent Hill movie gained a habit of unconsciously drawing creepy pictures that even she herself would be afraid of when she'd come to her senses.
- The Ring:
- Aidan, after watching the cursed tape, started drawing pictures of Samara, buried people, and huge circles that look a bit too much like the Ring.
- Samara was quite the Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, too, what with her "insomnia" and her chilling Ironic Nursery Rhyme. It's no wonder she was drawn to the other Creepy Child in the movie.
- In Donnie Darko, Donnie draws disturbing images of "Frank", a humanoid rabbit with a monstrous face. Being the Mind Screw that it is, though, It turns out that Frank is actually real, and Donnie is simply drawing an accurate depiction of his Hallowe'en costume. The movie, especially the director's cut, suggests that Frank is Elizabeth's boyfriend.
- Superbad features a humorous variant of this, in that it is not that the images young Seth draws are scary, but they all involve penises in vaguely disturbing contexts (signing the Declaration of Independence, bursting out of a man's chest à la Alien, Riding the Bomb from Dr. Strangelove, etc). They still result in him being sent to a psychiatrist though. Seth himself was, however, fully aware that what he was doing was utterly bizarre and quite disturbing but was unable to stop himself, describing it as a sort of compulsion.
- The Butterfly Effect: Near the start of the movie, the kindergarten teacher shows the mother a picture which Aston Kutcher's (then 5-years-old) character has drawn: and it's him standing over two mangled corpses with a bloody knife in his hand. Subverted, because at first it appears that 5-year-old Evan had innocently drawn it, then it's revealed to have been his adult self, with a motive in mind.
- In the film version of Battle Royale, Instructor Kitano paints a crude, childish scene which portrays all of the students killing each other in various gruesome ways, but with Noriko standing unscathed, and with a saintly halo, in the midst of it all. Whether this means that Kitano is a creepy old man, or that he merely sees Noriko as a surrogate daughter (to make up for his negligent fatherhood) is up for debate, but Shuya and Noriko's reaction to the painting was everything but favorable.
- The minstrels following Sir Robin in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Although their song starts upbeat, their description of his bravery soon turns quite gruesome:
He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp
Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken
To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin...
His head smashed in and his heart cut out
And his liver removed and his bowels unplugged
And his nostrils raped and his bottom burned off
And his penis...
- The cheerful rhyme game the children are playing at the beginning of M. This is actually Truth in Television - both cases M was (allegedly) based on (Peter Kuerten and Fritz Haarmann) inspired rhymes such as these in the populace. Less scary in the original German, where they included lines such as "he'll turn your ass into ham".
Just you wait a little while,
Soon the man in black will come
And with his little chopper
He will chop you up!
- In The Night of the Hunter, right after the children's father has been hanged, and the other kids in town mock them by singing the song "Hing, Hang, Hung". This in itself is pretty creepy, but it doesn't get better when the little girl, too young to fully understand what has happened, cheerfully hums it to herself afterwards.
Hing, Hang, Hung,
See what the hangman done,
Hung, Hang, Hing
See the robber swing,
Hing, Hang, Hing, Hang,
Hing, Hang, Hing, Hang,
Now my song is done
- In at least one ending of Hide and Seek, Emily draws pictures that give away her own split personality.
- A mild moment in Some Kind of Wonderful: Eric Stoltz and Elias Koteas are in detention, and Koteas shows Stoltz a drawing he's just painstakingly completed, saying, "This is what my girlfriend would look like without skin."
- House of 1000 Corpses has Captain Spaulding, a NFSA mixed with a Monster Clown running a literal nightmare fuel station: a gas station with a spooky ride attraction based on local legends built onto the side (free fried chicken with each ticket!).
- In Strangers on a Train, we get two NFSA's for the price of one! Bruno and his mother (neither the picture of perfect sanity) are talking at home; she shows him her latest painting. He starts cackling delightedly and claims she captured his father to a "t" - the picture is a feverish nightmare portrait of wild glaring eyes and claws. Mom looks a bit confused and says it's supposed to be Saint Francis.
- Maybe more so in the movie than the TV show episode, the kid in the Twilight Zone story It's A Good Life creates a no-way-out nightmare world for the others, but considers it all just good fun himself.
- Nina, from Black Swan, most certainly counts. In particular, her dancing as the Black Swan, rather than being sensual, is instead terrifying.
- Alpha and Omega has Eve, a caring Stepford Smiler Mama Bear who, because she's an Ax-Crazy Cloudcuckoolander, would make various death threats against anyone who would harm her loved ones, including ripping out wolf anatomy's and shoving them down their throats or grasp at another wolf until they stop moving. However some of the other wolves, such as Winston and Kate, would be easily intimidated and shocked. Despite this, she believes that her threats would make a point.
- Kruger from Elysium. You know it's time to run whenever you see him or his squadmates enter the picture.
Live Action TV
- In the third Halloween episode of Community, Annie Eddison fits this trope like a glove.
- This is the whole point of The Addams Family.
- Elvira often did this intentionally in her routines. (Which was the whole point, and played for laughs.)
- The episode of The King of Queens, "Present Tense". Deacon and Kelly give Doug and Carrie a painting of one of their pictures together for an anniversary present. Unfortunately, in the painting, Carrie's right arm is grossly enlarged and Doug has nasty-looking buckteeth. Carrie even admits that she has nightmares about it and feels like the eyes of the painting figures are following her; not to mention that she and Doug sometimes imagine each other with the deformities. It turns out that Deacon and Kelly gave them the painting to get back at them for a bad anniversary gift the Heffernans gave them: a set of statuettes of stereotypical-looking black jazz musicians. It would seem a more appropriate title for the episode would have been "Revenge is a Dish Best Served with an Anniversary Present".
- Similarly, in Friends, Phoebe gives Monica "Gladys" - a hideously drawn, semi-3D portrait of a lady who looks like a witch, scary enough to stop even Joey from sleeping.
- Not to mention her psychic reading of the pencil. "I don't know who this is, but it's not Debbie." Cue everyone looking freaked. And there's the children's song: "Oh, Grandma is a person that everyone likes, / She bought you a toy train and a bright shiny bike, / But lately she hasn't been coming to dinner, / The last time you saw her she looked a lot thinner. Now your parents told you she moved to Peru, / but the truth is she died and someday you will too." Poor, poor little children.
- She is asked to tone down her children's songs and maybe write about farm animals and things like that. She comes out with, "Oh, the cow in the meadow goes, 'Moo'/Oh, the cow in the meadow goes, 'Moo'/Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds them up/And that's how we get hamburgers/Now chicken!" Played With in that the kids eventually love her for telling the truth.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles had a talent for drawing gruesome stick figures to illustrate his points.
- This is River's hat. When she's not completely insane or killing people, she's saying reaaally creepy things in a perfectly conversational tone, with absolutely no idea how scary she sounds. "Safe" has her mentioning, kind of off-handedly, a method of draining blood from the human body without leaving a mess, prompting Mal to call her "morbid and creepifying". In "Out of Gas", River tries to comfort Shepherd Book like so: "You think we're going to run out of air. That we're going to die gasping. But we're not." Silent beat, while Book smiles hesitantly at her. "We'll freeze to death first."
- In "War Stories", Simon is given Mal's severed ear. He's being tortured.
It's a clean cut. [When they get Mal
back] I should be able to reattach it. *beat
* Assuming there's a head.
- The Doctor Who episode "Fear Her" features a young girl whose already creepy drawings (her father appears as a horrific demon with dripping fangs and burning eyes) are taken to a whole new level by some Imported Alien Phlebotinum: they move, scream, wail and even threaten to kill anyone who looks upon them - not to mention that anyone she draws becomes a faceless, screaming scribble for all eternity.
- "Silence In The Library", as if killer shadows and animated Stripped to the Bone corpses endlessly repeating their last words in confusion from not realizing they're dead aren't creepy enough, has the little girl's psychologist (or that's who he seems to be at first.) He reassures the girl - who already looks creeped out - that her world isn't as real as the monsters in the shadows, and then cryptically tells her that only she can save the cast. She didn't look comforted. At all.
- The Doctor's later regenerations particularly love this trope, when they're not being the source of the Nightmare Fuel themselves.
- In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie sings a song entitled "Nightman", which is heavily laced with Freudian sexuality. He has no idea why this song is so disturbing to his friends.
Charlie: It's about the Nightman coming in and I become him. I become the spirit of the Nightman.
Mac: It sounds like a song where a guy breaks into your house and rapes you.
Charlie: What? No, listen: 'It's just two men sharing the night, it might feel wrong but it's just right.'
- And then there's The Nightman Cometh...
- The Swedish Chef of The Muppet Show has a really jolly, somewhat Man Child personality which he maintains especially when trying to kill animals in horrible ways.
- Notably trying to cut off Robin's legs before Kermit and Scooter realize what's going on (granted the Chef was forced on stage earlier then he was supposed to). Disproportionate Retribution much?
- Retribution nothing. Frog legs were the meal of the day. Some idiot just pointed him at the wrong frog is all.
- It doesn't help that the Swedish Chef is the only Muppet with actual human hands. (He even seems to have what looks like a wedding ring in one recent appearance, but Lord only knows who his wife is.)
- Six Feet Under: Claire can't understand why her cartoon about a girl who can make people's heads explode by looking at them was pulled from the school paper.
- Mr. Jelly, the unintentionally scary clown on Psychoville.
- In an episode of Night Court, Bull enters a story filled with Nightmare Fuel into a children's book contest. He is so horrified to learn that his story actually frightens children that he breaks both his hands in a fit of rage.
- The title character of Barney & Friends. He's a big, purple, disturbingly cheerful Tyrannosaurus whose cast of kids changes every year.
- In Little Howard's Big Question, one episode has Big Howard attempting to coax Little Howard into sleep using a lullaby his father used to sing to him. In it, he sings the giant mutant bed-bugs won't bite so long as Little Howard stays very, very still, and that the monsters under the bed did once kill a child for going downstairs in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, but that Little Howard should be okay since there's still a quarter of the kid left, and that while Little Howard is sleeping he'll be 'downstairs with a Ouija board, communing with the dead'. Little Howard complains that this is the scariest song he's ever heard, but it's subverted when he falls peacefully asleep anyway.
- Lily's father from How I Met Your Mother invents children's board games for a living, including titles like "Diseases!" and "There's a Clown Demon Under the Bed." They're about as successful as you might think.
- Mr. K from Go On veers into this territory occasionally. Such as when he requests one of someone's teeth.
- Ben from Outnumbered. It's true all the time but his family are more or less used to it, so it only really becomes noticeable during his class camping trip. His campfire scary stories and general pranks induce panic attacks, asthma attacks and warning symptoms of mental breakdown (such as whimpering and rocking) in the other children, while his teacher starts smoking again after having to deal with all of this.
- Simmons from Agents Of SHIELD trying to reassure other characters that her beloved poisonous insects, deadly viruses and other biohazards are actually nothing to be scared of and, in some cases, actually adorable, tends to have the opposite effect of making them more nervous.
- A M*A*S*H episode has Radar enrolling in a creative-writing course by mail and soliciting the other characters for amusing anecdotes. When it's Frank Burns' turn, he shares a story from his youth that "always breaks me up"... about a disabled neighbor kid who lost control of his wheelchair, rolled down the stairs and across the lawn, and crashed into Frank's dad's car.
B.J. (horrified) That must have been awful!
- A few of the songs by Tom Lehrer, such as "Who's Next" and "We Will All Go Together When We Go" could make the man come across as a NFSA. He also wrote a lovely lullaby that would fit the trope.
- On a lighter note (although that's not exactly difficult with two songs about nuclear annihilation), he has a cheerful ditty about the delightful spring pastime of "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"
- The Vocaloid producer Machigerita-P, who is responsible for such lovely songs as "Dark Woods Circus", "Red Swamp Bottom", "Guard and Scythe", "Wide Knowledge of the Late, Madness", and "Test Tube Princess".
- mothy is another example for the songs within the Evillious Chronicles. To give you an idea, on subset of the Chronicles is the Seven Deadly Sins series, and it features gems like mass rape, cannibalism (and Auto Cannibalism), and a synthetic plague that kills an entire town.
- And the there's Hachi; any works he makes that aren't scary are usually at least confusing.
- Whoever the hell drew the illustrations in the New World of Darkness sourcebook Innocents. Okay, they're supposed to be scary, but this book specifically deals with child characters and the horrors faced there. The images haven't gotten any less disturbing. For a more direct example, the children writing notes found as flavor text throughout the book.
- In the same vein as Innocents, the indie RPG Little Fears is about children fighting allegorical monsters for fun topics like child abuse, kidnapping, and molestation.
- The My Imaginary Friend game books are filled with childish journal entries talking about their lovable imaginary monster and how they disemboweled their evil teachers and such.
- Every single follower of the Chaos God Nurgle in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Bloated, rotting, contagion-spewing shambling corpses, they just want to give you a biiiig hug so that you too can know the joy of being blessed by the Lord of Decay. Papa Nurgle loves you~
- A lot of folks in the Planescape setting are like this. It would take too long to give a complete list, but one example: There's a taxidermist in the Lower Ward of Sigil who's a member of the Dustmen who really loves her work, and if a customer is an attractive type, she might ask for his or her corpse after his death. (And she is deadly serious about it. What makes this especially creepy is the fact that at least three customers apparently accepted this offer - they are displayed in her shop.) Of course, the Dustmen as a whole are a rather creepy bunch, who tend to hang around undead and worship death more often than not, even the ones who aren't evil.
- Max Payne 2: The crayon drawings seen in Part 1's Prologue, which depict part of the first game's story (Max's wife and baby are killed), are definitely the work of a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, even if we don't know how anyone else reacts to them.
- In Bad Mojo, we see a childhood drawing done by protagonist Roger Samms with a note from his teacher attached commenting to the effect that "This boy is clearly disturbed". Said drawing is obviously inspired by Roger's issues with his mother's Death by Childbirth, as it consists of a newborn baby smirking evilly as he stabs his mother to death, and an animated version plays as you approach, accompanied by creepy music.
- Fado from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. (Uh, this kid◊. Her name's All There in the Manual. Apparently, no connection to the two later Fados.) When you meet her in the Lost Woods after the Time Skip, she's taken a turn for the creepy. "That guy isn't here anymore. Anybody who comes into the forest will be lost. Everybody will become a Stalfos. Everybody, Stalfos. So, he's not here anymore. Only his saw is left. Hee hee." ... "Heh heh heh. Are you going to be...too? Heh heh!"
- Agitha from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess loves bugs. She just LOVES THEM SO MUCH.
- 343 Guilty Spark from Halo is far too chipper about The Flood and how to combat them by killing everything.
- The nurse in Xenogears is constantly telling you that she hopes you come back with terrible, life-threatening injuries so she'll have something to do.
- Bebedora in Arc The Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. She's a horribly creepy demonic loli marionette who apparently has no eyes, can 'see' emotions as color and casually talks about Ending The World. Oh, and she can possess people and make them do whatever she feels like doing, whether they want to or not. This page should give you a vague idea of what kind of, uh, person-doll-demon-thing she is.
- Dead Space: In the Alternate Reality Game No Known Survivors, there's a guy on a research ship receiving mail from his daughter, crude drawings with the repeated singing "Three Happy Spacemen, Three Happy Spacemen". The subject? Her father brutally killing his coworkers, which he does. And in mission 2 of the game proper, there's a nice young woman (unfortunately visually impaired) cradling and talking to her friend, McCoy. She gives you the kinesis module that McCoy had her save for you. Oh, and by the way, McCoy, is a headless, limbless corpse at the time.
- Fable II has the ever pleasant and friendly Chesty, a living treasure chest who just wants to be your very best friend and play games with you. After pulling you into a nightmare and transforming you back into a kid... well... ''Yeah...'' Even better is when you can get back into the dream afterwards and open the door that was locked before. There you find what happens to those who stayed his Very Best Friends.... Of course it is still not as pleasant as when you get the invitation to his party. You end up a little late to the party, and VERY glad for it.
- There are also the banshees who say such wonderful things as 'how do you know if they're really even your family?' if you decided to revive your murdered family at the end of the game.
- Planescape: Torment featured Marta, a cheerful old lady whose job it is to remove the teeth and organs of corpses. Your character, an immortal with a powerful Healing Factor, can have her remove your internal organs and crack open your skull in search for items hidden by yourself before you were struck with amnesia. Oh, and hey - there's no anaesthesia.
- The Little Sisters in the BioShock games exhibit traits of the NFSA, referring to the dead bodies they harvest ADAM from as "angels". In the second game, if you have a Little Sister with you when you use an electricity plasmid on a Splicer, she might cry, "Look, Mr. B! She's dancing!"
- And exclaims in glee about marshmallows when you set them on fire!
- It is definitely worth noting that all Little Sisters have been tampered with in the perception department, to the point that all of decaying rapture looks like wonderful, golden, shiny places, and for all we know, that's what they actually LOOK like to them: Electrified people burst into merry dance, flaming people are holding marshmallows...
- Sam And Max Save The World/Season One demonstrates this in Hugh Bliss. Max is enough of an example himself, but if anything, Hugh Bliss is just as bad with his constant cheeriness, his unnatural powers, the fact that he's a colony of germs, and when you use the bug on him in Abe Lincoln Must Die!, guess what? He knew you were listening. People say that him being the villain was unexpected?
- His cameo in season two in hell, complete with The Exorcist-style head turn, certainly doesn't help things.
- Persona 4 has Izanami, who gives the Protagonist his powers and is a literal Station Attendant. She could technically be considered one by trope definition as well, because she thought that she was merely giving the humans what they wanted.
- In the anime especially, Shadow Naoto. Said Shadow is seemingly quite playful, and breaks down into tears at rejection, and is generally quite lovable with its oversized lab coat. Until Naoto pushes too many buttons, at which point the Shadow stops being so cute and childish and proceeds to psychologically tear Naoto apart.
- Speaking of Shin Megami Tensei, there's the recurring demon Alice. She's an adorable little blonde girl... who was raised by two powerful demons, granted massive magical powers, was driven insane by them, and wants you to be her friend. Her cuteness and childlike attitude just make the sadism (torturing the Hare of Inaba in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, for example) that much creepier. Plus her Signature Move "Die For Me!" is the most powerful dark-elemental instant death spell in any game she appears in and involves summoning an army of undead.
- Even better (or worse), the original appearance of Alice in Shin Megami Tensei 1 is that of the ghost of a little girl raised by those demons, whose only friends are the ghosts of everyone in Roppongi in Tokyo, killed by the demons to force them to stay there as her friends forever. Her Signature Move shouldn't even be rendered as a command, but instead a question - she desperately wants you to stay and asks, "Would you die for me please?" out of loneliness, not anger or spite.
- The Medic from Team Fortress 2, as the Mad Scientist and Deadly Doctor, is perhaps the most terrifying motherfucker on the entire team, and that's saying a LOT. Even the Heavy, the towering Soviet brawler who smashes his way through the enemy ranks with a roaring laugh, is commonly put off by the Medic's sinister tendencies. The Medic's take on all this? As far as he's concerned, he's just practicing medicine.
- Also, his screams are definitely the most horrifying in the entire game.
- And then Meet the Pyro came along. Are you afraid of the Medic? Well, the Medic is afraid of him. Hell, everyone is. Even the Heavy admits, "That thing...it scares me."
Do you believe in ma~gic... In a young girl's he~art...
- And let's not forget Revya from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters.
- In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, who could forget Orson's wife Monica? She's been brought back from the dead, but it's Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Henry from Fire Emblem Awakening tends to insert gruesome murder fantasies into otherwise normal conversations, and can't really figure out why everybody is scared of him.
- Why hello there, Subject 16! Why don't you regale us with some more of your insane ramblings, pieced together from the broken psyche that used to be your mind? Oh, and you've embedded coded chunks of your uploaded mind all through a system that is already independently capable of destroying a person's sanity? Thanks. The Animus wasn't scary enough on its own.
Subject 16: She sees me raise the knife...
- Emily's drawings in Dishonored, if the player causes a lot of chaos (by killing indiscriminately).
- The Secret World has Emma and her disturbing drawings (They Mostly Come At Night), the "day care center" in the Amity House (Virgula Divina), and probably a few more that I'm forgetting.
- Madotsuki from Yume Nikki; almost all of her time is spent sleeping and concocting nightmares that wouldn't be out of place in a Cosmic Horror Story.
- American McGee's Alice and sequel: Alice Liddell, Full Stop. Her mind is a very scary place.
- Say howdy to Oichi◊ from Sengoku Basara. Basically designed to give you the creeps. If the demonic shadow hands she fights with aren't bad enough, her dissonant voice and creepy lullaby singing when she's smashing your face in might just give you a good scare.
- The Homestar Runner Hallowe'en cartoon "Homestarloween Party" features the characters telling a light-hearted campfire story - until Strong Sad's turn, when he suddenly packs the story with all kinds of depressing and disturbing twists:
And the robot's human brain remembered his children and his stolen life, and he was moved to tears. But the tears shorted out his circuits, and fried his brain, and the robot toppled over, and he crushed his children, and the Goblin, too. And none of them lived
- Similarly, in A Folky Tale, Strong Sad's folk hero alter-ego Saddy Dumpington will reveal some horrifying fact ("I just saw a baby chick choke on a worm. They both died!") in a cheery voice, and then add "Isn't that great?", apparently unaware that most people find that sort of thing "miserable and depressing". Saddy ironically becomes Nightmare Retardant when he tries to purposefully depress the local townsfolk by dressing as a "weird snake".
- But then Strong Sad tells that the townsfolk laughed so hard they fell into a coma for the rest of their lives.
- There's also Senor Cardgage who was once heard singing a creepy rhyme in a "daycare" with a Chalk Outline outside and even creeped out Strong Bad by walking in place with disembodied traffic noises echoing around him.
- Salad Fingers falls quite nicely into this trope, with his childish, almost playful voice, his fetish for rusty objects, his finger puppet "friends", who he routinely talks and sings to, and his tendencies for self-mutilation.
- Welcome to Night Vale has Cecil, the narrator and community radio host who cheerfully reports happenings such as glow clouds that rain dead animals, ritualistically slaughtered pterodactyls, and people being killed en masse by mysterious mute children.
- Mega64: Sean. For example, his room contains nothing but a broken alarm clock, a table, two chairs, and an incredibly creepy painting of two clowns.
- In Survival of the Fittest- v1, in Cillian Crowe's backstory, as a child he would draw very unpleasant pictures of his imaginary friend Haddy apparently causing a massacre. At another point, his class was working on a play, and on the day of the performance the background ended up covered in stage blood with "I will KILL you" written all over. Needless to say, his adoptive parents were freaked out, enough to abandon him. This did not end well for them.
- Doug Walker's persona from Ask That Guy with the Glasses.
- However bad Ask That Guy may be, Bennett The Sage (especially as depicted in the special holiday episode) is tenfold worse. And here's something to consider: in Real Life, Bennett was only twenty years old when the segment was filmed—and there's every indication that he wrote all his own dialogue. Think about that for a moment.
- The late edarem, a YouTube user, seen in this video (probably his most popular video) lip syncing Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman, was an old man in his 70's who went to jail in the 80's for a sex offender conviction, but was released and seemed to have turned his life around. His videos include his daily life, tips with household chores (including cutting a bagel, brushing a dog, etc), tips with daily life, general oddities, and song lip syncing, among others. He didn't seem like a mean old man, but rather, a very gentle, entertaining and helpful person. However, this didn't not stop him from coming off EXTREMELY CREEPY. Tragically, he died back in prison again, after it turned out that simply putting up these videos on YouTube was considered a violation of his parole.
- The Nachzehrer is a strange cross between this and Friendly Neighborhood Vampire.
- This guy. Who knew a how-to video on making iced tea could be so friggin' creepy?
- According to Two Best Friends Play, their friend Plague of Gripes from youtube is this, from having lived on a farm and seeing how fucked up animals can treat each other.
- Cheryl, the secretary from Archer:
You seriously don't think that's hot? Pam:
I seriously think you're scary. Cheryl:
No, nononono. Like, a big sweaty fireman carries you out of a burning building, lays you on the sidewalk and you think "OK, he's gonna give me mouth to mouth", but instead, he just starts choking the shit out of you, and the last sensation you feel before you die is that he's squeezing your throat so hard that a big glob of drool slips right off his teeth and -* blurp* - lands right on your popped out eyeball.
Jesus Christ! Cheryl:
I know, right? Lana:
What the hell?! Cheryl:
I'm wet just thinking about it.
- Ed from Ed, Edd n Eddy, whose grip on reality has been severely weakened by a near-constant diet of horror comics and B-movies. His idea for a scam in "It Came From Outer Ed" involves dressing his friends as skeletons and astronauts, making them pass each other pancakes, shouting "Evil Tim has beckoned you all, for you all will pay with your brains!", and then ripping up a stuffed bunny with his teeth. Yet he still considers this a piece of light hearted fun, even when the curse kicks in and he and his friends are mobbed by angry crows.
- When regaling his side of the story in "Once Upon An Ed", Ed comes up with an alternately ridiculous and terrifying tale of the Kanker Sisters (the three trailer trash Stalkers With Crushes) hideously mutated by eating radioactive mashed potatoes, who torment Ed and his friends by throwing enormous, sloppy kisses and shooting rays from chickens on their armpits that turn houses into giant hygiene products ("Evil soap! Deodorant!"). And then they can merge their heads together to shoot a giant kiss.
Eddy: Ed, your story's gettin' weird!
Edd: My Ed, what an enchanted world you live in.
- At the beginning of "Is There an Ed in the House?", he draws a portrait of Rolf... with a monster looming behind him. Ed gleefully explains "Rolf's head is about to be crunched by a four-legged mutant bus driver!"
- And let's not forget when he dressed up as a space monster in "The Day The Ed Stood Still" (though considering what the title alludes to, what would you expect?) and got a little too into character... "I am a monster!" The whole thing eventually degenerates into a pastiche of the Alien movies.
- The Halloween Episode. Ed takes in even more B-movies than usual, which causes him to occasionally see the world as one. This turns a simple trek to a mythical neighborhood that gives out tons of candy into a battle against monsters summoned by witches.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer makes a young Bart a misshapen clown-shaped bed... which is so horrifying that Bart stays awake constantly, muttering "Can't sleep, clown will eat me".
- During the episode in which Bart has his first day of school, he makes a drawing to commemorate the occasion, complete with a stick figure of himself being stabbed with knives and plenty of crayon blood. Homer's reaction?
Homer: (not paying attention) Oh, it's beautiful! Oh, oh, let's put Bart's beautiful drawing up on the fridge!
Marge: Homer, stop. Will you please look at the drawing?
Homer: Oh, all right. What...(looks at drawing)...AAAH!! Burn it! Send it to Hell!
Marge: There's just something about a boy flying a kite at night that's so... unwholesome! *Bart looks over his shoulder at his parent's window*
- Then there's the appropriately-named episode "Cape Feare", where the Simpsons go into the Witness Relocation Program and move into a houseboat to protect Bart from Sideshow Bob. When Bart — having been receiving death threats from Sideshow Bob, and understandably a little on-edge and fearful to begin with — tries to go to sleep, Homer bursts in at the most inappropriate time brandishing a knife, yelling "BARTDOYOUWANTSOMEBROWNIESBEFOREYOUGOTOBED?!". Seconds later he comes back in dressed in full Jason Voorhees gear, screaming "BARTYOUWANNASEEMYNEWCHAINSAWANDHOCKEYMASK?!"
- Occasionally, on Rugrats, Stu Pickles' toy inventions have a tendency to unintentionally creep out the kids of the show. The best example is "Mr. Friend", a creepy-looking robotic clown toy whose flawed design (complete with stuttering, twitching, and occasional sparking) made him seem dangerously out of control. The scene where Tommy and friends decide to fight back against an accidentally activated army of them is perhaps the greatest moment of the show.
- Similarly, an old Reptar toy (a green dinosaur) was forgotten about in All Grown Up! It freaked the tweens out a lot, considering that it was implied the Reptar was coming back from the dead to torture them for forgetting about it. Uh... they were toddlers? Jeez!
- The two episodes called "Interview with a Campfire" have strong Friday the 13th themes (taking place in the woods, near a lake, people going missing, etc.) and most of it is shot using a camera, like The Blair Witch Project.
- In the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Something Smells", Patrick tells the story of "The Ugly Barnacle" to SpongeBob to try to cheer him up:
Patrick: Once, there was an ugly barnacle. He was so ugly that everyone died! The end.
SpongeBob: ...That didn't help at all.
- Darla Dimple from Cats Don't Dance. She's evil, but we don't know that at first... thus making her introductory number, about the Ark, really creepy:
Darla: Now, the people they were so bad
That the Lord made the rain come down!
And He washed away their bad cities,
And He washed away their bad towns—
And all of the people drowned! (Chorus: wails)
- The members of Dethklok from Metalocalypse, given their morbid lyrics and subject matter and the fact that every single one of their concerts results in a bloodbath.
- On a Teen Titans episode in which Raven travels with very young kids — an awkward prospect for all of them, as she's potential Nightmare Fuel herself — the oldest of the kids has the power to bring her imaginary friend to life. Invisible at first, "Bobby" is finally revealed to be a giant teddy bear... which sprouts six-inch claws and jagged-line fangs when its maker sics it on the bad guys.
- A variant of this trope occurs in Futurama when Fry first tries to play the holophoner without the assistance of his internal parasites; while he earnestly tries to portray his feelings, the result is a hellish, poorly-played song about a Frankenstein-esque monster. His rationale for this performance was that he "got nervous and started thinking about neck bolts".
- This happens to Fry quite a lot. At a holophoner recital, Fry tries to play a tune called "The Grumpy Snail". Things go alright for a while...until the snail spouts fangs and starts foaming at the mouth.
"It's TOO grumpy!"
- A Halloween episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force features a level-headed and soft-spoken onion-spider-creature named "Willie Nelson" who lives in the attic. When the main characters try to make Willie Nelson scary, they fail miserably. It's not until the last part of the episode where you find out that Willie Nelson has been keeping hundreds of dead and mangled bodies in the attic on meat hooks to feed on. Needless to say, all the characters are horrified, but Willie Nelson doesn't understand why they're so freaked out.
- It's just "juice" for him.
- Freaky Fred from Courage the Cowardly Dog.
- He's not really nightmarish, he's just ... naughty.
- Dr. Barber from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
- Joe Tabootie from ChalkZone.
- Somewhat subverted in Tiny Toon Adventures, where Plucky spends the night over at Buster's house, spending the whole time watching gory horror movies on videotape (one of them a Shout-Out to A Nightmare on Elm Street) and laughing like he was watching comedies. He then has nightmares when Buster convinces him to go to sleep. However, this is double-subverted at the end when he wakes up and wants to watch the movies again (at which point Buster finally kicks him out).
- Princess Luna from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has rather scary tastes. Example? On the pony equivalent of Halloween, she travels to Ponyville in a demonic chariot pulled by menacing, bat-winged pegasi, donned in a hooded cloak made of bats and accompanied by Dramatic Thunder and the sky spontaneously darkening. She seems to think this is a perfectly normal way for one to arrive to address her subjects, and that turning fake spiders into real (harmless, granted, but still terrifying) ones is a fun thing to do. Her dark gothic figure and echoing bellow of a voice doesn't help whatsoever. This comes in handy when she realizes that sometimes her subjects like being frightened, which lets her win them over with some lighthearted scares.
- Pinkie Pie, a Cloudcuckoolander if there ever was onenote , sets a precedent of being too mentally unstable to even feel fear no later than the show's second episode. One of the most obvious instances of this was the Season 2 premiere, where she's so enamored by Discord's twisted sense of humor and ability to make the clouds rain chocolate milk that she initially makes the argument that said Anthropomorphic Personification of chaos should be allowed to unleash his demented reign of terror on Equestria. She does occasionally demonstrate fear responses, but "Luna Eclipsed" implies that even these are all put-ons meant for her own entertainment (which explains why they're just as often about completely irrational things - like mistaking Twilight's gala tickets for "bats on [her] face" or believing Spike to be a ghost - as rational ones).
- Nug of The Dreamstone is an in-universe supplier of Fridge Horror, often inadvertantly terrifying Frizz with his unnerving assumptions of the outcomes of some of their schemes.
Frizz: I'm gonna fall!!!
Nug: If you did, you'd probably break every bone in your body...probably.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has Princess Azula trying to act like a normal teenager.
Azula: That's a sharp outfit, Chan. Careful, you could puncture the hull of an empire-class Fire Nation battleship, leaving thousands to drown at sea... (awkward silence) Because it's so sharp.
- Adventure Time gives us Peppermint Butler who innocently declares that, in exchange for a favor he did for Finn and Jake, he will take their flesh as payment. The heroes giggle a bit at what they think is a joke before he says he'll take it from them in their sleep. His eyes glow black when he does, and Finn and Jake are more than a little unnerved.
- There have since been more than a few hints that Pepperment Butler is secretly evil. In the above mentioned episode, he was revealed to be personal friends with Death. In "Return to the Nightosphere" there's a photograph in the background showing him caddying a game of golf for Marcelene's Dad (aka the demonic Lord of All Evil and basically Adventure Time's version of Satan). In "Too Young" he got nervous when Finn asked to see his aura with a machine Princess Bubblegum invented.