"Where your eyes don't go a filthy scarecrow waves its broomstick arms And does a parody of each unconscious thing you do When you turn around to look it's gone behind you On its face it's wearing your confused expression Where your eyes don't go."
Scarecrows are scary. There's no doubt about it. The fact that they look like corpses propped up, or the vaguely Christ-like
looks, or the fact that they're meant to be human
but don't look very human at all. As such, scarecrows are brilliant Nightmare Fuel fodder, so fiction is littered with examples of evil scarecrows.
Also, their humanoid appearance means that having a person looking like a scarecrow, imprisoned, dead, or hiding, gives extra creepiness. Compare Creepy Doll
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Anime and Manga
- Batman and Ghost Rider both had separate villains called the Scarecrow. The Marvel version sometimes fights Spider-Man as well.
- The Batman version has also been adapted in the film Batman Begins (played by Cillian Murphy), the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, and various animated TV series.
- Dr. Crane even serves as the page image for Arkham Asylum's Nightmare Fuel page.
- The Straw Man is a demonic being who is certainly scary and was one of the Fear Lords, along with other nightmarish beings like Nightmare, D'Spayre, and Nox. But when they began plotting to conquer and rule the Earth through fear, he turned against them, betraying their plans to Daredevil and Doctor Strange.
- Lord Pumpkin from The Ultraverse.
- Wynonna Earp battles a demonic wheat scarecrow in "Blood is the Harvest".
- X-Mickey has an interdimensional sorcerer named Mow that is capable of bringing puppets to life, choosing a small farm town named Gothic Hill's scarecrows to turn into minions to do his bidding. Though defeated and trapped in other dimensions and his scarecrows having long since disappeared, he makes his way back to do the same thing again, only for Mickey to destroy his staff. Mow's original scarecrows from three centuries earlier have since reformed and lived in hiding in the old village in disguise
Films — Live-Action
- One of The Dresden Files books involved horror movie monsters coming to life; the biggest and baddest was a scarecrow.
- The short story Know All by Paul Jennings featured a scarecrow coming to life after being dressed in a cursed tightrope walker's outfit.
- Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (scary, but ends up not actually being evil).
- Goosebumps The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight, where the protagonist and her brother visit their aunt & uncle's farm, only to come face-to-face with a dozen of these, brought to life by a somewhat psychopathic farmer nearby. The spell that brought them to life is reversed at the end, but then the farmer accidentally brings a bear pelt to life...
- Halloween Rain. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer tie-in novel written before it was well-established that the supernatural tends to take a holiday on Halloween (or should). In the context of the book, rain on Halloween turns scarecrows into homicidal monsters.
- "Harold" in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. Two farmers make a scarecrow they name "Harold", after a neighbor they both hate. They use it as a punching bag and call it names. It comes to life and skins one of the farmers. The illustration, shown above, is what makes it a scary scarecrow.
- The Uncanny Valley aspect is mentioned in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, but it then goes on to talk about "Unlucky Charlie", a scarecrow used for target practice by witches, who absorbed so much magic that he now appears and disappears all across the kingdom, though no-one ever sees him move. Just don't stay up to watch him leave.
- The Scarecrows by Robert Westall features three scary scarecrows.
- One of The Three Investigators novels is The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow.
- The original cover of Stephen King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection depicted one of these.
- The Drood family has scarecrows as one of the many defenses of their estate. Turns out they're actually the bodies (and souls) of the family's enemies, held between life and death, preserved and stuffed with straw, to animate and defend the house in times of need. If you listen in on the right frequency you can hear them screaming.
- An unmade Friday the 13th novel would've had Jason's spirit possess a scarecrow.
- In Captain Crokus, the scarecrow turns out to be the Big Bad, who wants to kill all house pets, replace them with mechanical copies and brainwash children into zombie-like state.
- Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow") (in book and movie forms).
- In the short story "Crewe" by Walter de la Mare, a servant is Driven to Suicide but returns in the form of a scarecrow.
- Are You Afraid of the Dark?, "The Tale of the Silent Servant": Two kids staying at a farm find a magic scarecrow who takes everything they say literally, i.e. the boy says he'd "like to kill" his cousin for taking his baseball glove.
- Doctor Who: The "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood" two-parter contains animate scarecrows attacking people. (Arguably, however, they're more goofy than scary.)
- The League of Gentlemen: A man is trapped and posed as a scarecrow by a vengeful farmer for sleeping with his wife.
- At one point the Denton Twins are talking to the scarecrow when the head falls off revealing the bound and gagged man. He tells them he's been tied up and asks them to help him, which they already knew. They then put his gag back in his mouth and replace his head saying they want to stay friends.
- One episode of One Foot in the Grave has a surprisingly dark ending, in which Victor takes revenge on some abusive nursing home staff by encasing their feet in cement and disguising them as scarecrows in a field.
- Supernatural featured a Town with a Dark Secret in Season 1 where the townsfolk practiced Human Sacrifice to appease a Norse god called a vanir, which inhabited an effigy resembling a scarecrow. In return, their town was granted prosperity. Sam and Dean destroy it by torching the god's sacred tree.
- One episode of Tales from the Crypt called Four-Sided Triangle has shades of this. An abused girl living at a farm is constantly mistreated by the couple living there and the man lusts after her. After she hits her head in an 'escape attempt'' she seems to fall in love with the scarecrow in the field and goes out to visit it every night, and they believe she has gone crazy, making sure she will never leave. However, one night, the Scarecrow actually DOES come to life - because the farmer was hiding inside it in order to play on her madness and have sex with her. Too bad she had planned it and killed both of them.
- One of the cursed antiques in Friday the 13th: The Series was this.
- Horrible Histories' Pachacuti song:
If you were a rival chief, we'd kill you first, and then,
We'd stuff you like a scarecrow, but one for scaring men!
- A rare non-horror example in The Singing Detective. Marlow remembers a scarecrow, seen from the window of a train, that once creeped him out as a child, and at one point he dreams that it comes into the hospital to visit him in his bed. Eventually he recalls why it frightened him so: it reminded him of his truly terrifying and abusive homeroom teacher.
- One appears in an episode of Ravenswood first in the dream of one of the characters and later in the real world.
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' titular "Black Crow King" is one of these.
- Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Scarecrow": "With frosty Jack on fingernail/Through shoe black smile he'll tell a tale/Come whisper through your lips of straw/A moment torn forever more."
- My Chemical Romance has the song "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W": "Move your body when the sunlight dies/Everybody hide your body from the scarecrow/Everybody hide".
- Actually subverted here, as the SCARECROW isn't actually a scarecrow. It's the surveillance unit for the Draculoids, supposedly staffed by real people.
- Supposedly. Also, there's quite a few Atomic Hate undertones to the lyrics...
- Changeling: The Lost features the Scarecrow Ministry, a noble order of the Autumn Court that creates (or reinforces) urban legends so that mortals stay away from the places where the really bad stuff goes down. As part of their membership, they receive masks that can instill phobias in those who look at them.
- GURPS had a horror supplement called "Creatures of the Night" that had an entry on Jackdaws- golems made of once living material (straw, wood, cotton, etc.) that were pathological liars.
- A Pathfinder module featured an encounter in a cornfield where ghoul-bitten villagers had been strung up as scarecrows by the ghouls to "ripen." When the party shows up, some "scarecrows" have turned, some are still human, and others...are just normal scarecrows.
- Deadlands includes living scarecrows as monsters.
- Pumpkin Jack from the Champions supplement Enemies: The International File.
- 4th edition Forgotten Realms have scarecrows as constructs built by hags that attack anyone who gets too close.
- In Ravenloft, evil spirits sometimes animate the scarecrows of vengeful farmers. What makes these scarecrows scary are the curse they're carrying, making the player characters' flesh irresistible to insects.
- Scarecrows are late game enemies in Izuna. Considering that they can cut your earned XP in half at will, they are scary indeed.
- Somewhere between scarecrows and pumpkin people are the Fir Bolg in City of Heroes. They inhabit the Croatoa area among all kinds of supernatural nastiness and appear everywhere else for the annual Halloween event.
- Pokémon has Cacturne, a scarecrow-like cactus creature which lives for thousands of years, has sand for blood, and eats humans.
- The Castlevania series has scarecrows high in the gruesome scale: they're hopping pikes with impaled corpses.
- MediEvil had them in the level Scarecrow Fields, and they're one of the hardest enemies to kill, all the while laughing sadistically and sicking possessed crows at you.
- In World of Warcraft, there are several murderous scarecrows in the farmland area in Westfall, as well as in Northrend, though the latter aren't dangerous, they are just crop harvesters. You do reprogram them to fight off The Undead though. There is also a scarecrow boss in one encounter based off The Wizard of Oz, along with bosses based on the other characters.
- The champion Fiddlesticks from League of Legends fits the criteria pretty well. His title is 'Harbinger of Doom'. Interestingly, his playstyle revolves around keeping the other team in a state of fear, because if they get to aggres-CAWCAWCAW.
- Fittingly enough, Fiddlesticks has some of the most horrifying lore in the game. He comes from a different plane. The summoner responsible for pulling Fiddlesticks out of his dimension died, nastily, and so did most of those who first beheld him, the rest went mad.
- One of the spirits in Ghost Master is the ghost of a
flock murder of crows that take the form of a talking scarecrow.
- One of the apparition created by Alma in F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate, although how much they resemble scarecrows is debatable
- AdventureQuest has at least one.
- These are a type of enemy in Wizard 101. It turns out that these are just lesser copies of the original, The Lord of Night, The King of Dread, The Herald of Death. He is summoned for one of the most powerful death spells.
- In Hatoful Boyfriend, a really fucking creepy scarecrow mecha with more than a passing resemblance to Pyramid Head shows up to terrorize the characters in the Bad Boys Love route. It's made even creepier when you take in account that said characters are birds, and then it's taken to new heights of creepy when it's revealed that the scarecrow's head contains the brain of the murdered heroine.
- A common monster in the Shantae series. In the first game, they would suddenly ambush your character while she walks past a corn field. In the Risky's Revenge sequel, they gain variations that breath out poison mist or throw pumpkin bombs.
- Batman: The Animated Series kept changing their design for the Scarecrow; his initial appearance wasn't so scary at all, but he got progressively more ghoulish. Their final depiction of him doesn't look all that Scarecrow-y, but looks very much like a corpse, and has a broken noose around his neck. The noose was so popular that many subsequent versions of the Scarecrow have it, including the one played by Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins and the freaky gas-mask-faced Scarecrow of the Arkham Asylum game.
- Possibly a reference to The Sandman, where the first volume features a cameo by Dr. Crane, sans costume, pretending to hang himself in a attempt to scare the guards at Arkham.
- Lord Pumpkin (see Comics examples) also appeared in the shortlived Ultra Force animated series.
- A possessed scarecrow was the Monster of the Week in an episode of Martin Mystery. He was planted by the previous owner of a farm to make sure that nobody else but him could own it.
- In Galaxy Rangers, one of the team's nastiest enemies was a Forgotten Superweapon that took on the appearance of a scarecrow. The Scarecrow killed a couple of Red Shirts, and several Tarkonian villages, almost murdered two of the Rangers, and managed to brainwash half the Tarkonian court. Worse, the thing wasn't even killed by being lit on fire! It just ran into the darkness - laughing.
- There is one in "Night of the Living Scarecrow", the pilot episode of Mona the Vampire. Played with and subverted for these reasons: One, what one was the scarecrow was really the caretaker of the church...but then we find out there's a second hat, so there might really be a living scarecrow.
- A scarecrow is one of the forms inhabited by the eponymous villain in The New Adventures of Superman episode "The Mysterious Mr Mist".
- In the Regular Show episode "Terror Tales of the Park III" (in the short "Jacked-Up Jack-o-Lantern"), Muscle Man tells a story in which he and his friends are chased by a pumpkin-headed scarecrow, who wants revenge after they killed his wife (also a pumpkin scarecrow).
- In Generator Rex, the villain John Scarecrow is a dangerous and sadistic shapeshifter EVO who specializes in Shapeshifter Guilt Trips, turning Rex and his friends against each other.
On the other hand, there are counter-examples. In Japan, for instance, Scarecrows are not considered frightening and thus benevolent scarecrows frequently appear:
Anime and Manga
- Howl's Moving Castle. Sophie is a little edgy of the scarecrow at first. She's certain he's magical in some way and she's already had bad experiences with magic. By the end the scarecrow has becomes a member of the True Companions.
- Naruto has Team Seven's sensei, Kakashi, whose name means "scarecrow".
- Oz series:
- A few works in the Discworld series make mention of Unlucky Charlie, a creepy but usually harmless scarecrow brought to life after years of being used as target practice in the Lancre Witch Trials.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Feathertop" is a scarecrow brought to life by a witch, and made by her power to pass for a living man. He does frighten a couple of people, but ends as The Woobie himself.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask both featured benevolent dancing scarecrows.
- Obscure Adventure Game Toonstruck features a friendly "carecrow" who, as its name states, takes care of the birds instead of scaring them away.
- Conker has Birdy, who looks a bit frightening, but he's too drunk to project any real fear.
- Scarecrows are monster-type demons in Disgaea. Like all demons, they can be both good and evil, and work both for your party or against it.
- Folklore for the PS3 has a half-life (a sort of imaginary friend/spirit) named Scarecrow who accompanies the heroine, Ellen on her journey through the Netherworld. He's rather whimsical and charming that is until it turns out that he's been using Ellen to get him to the Nettherworld core so he could absorb all of humanities sorrow; though it was only to fulfill the wish Ellen made as a child, that is to create a world without fear or hatred.
- In Solstoria a friendly scarecrow is a farm spirit that was made by the main character.