Nightmare Fuel / Public Service Announcement

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"CANADA, YOU'RE SICK! YOU'RE SICK, CANADA! WHAT THE HELL'S WRONG WITH YOU?!!!!"
The Nostalgia Critic reacting to the PSA pictured.

Attentive readers may notice that the Nightmare Fuel examples that come from Public Service Announcements and Public Information films vastly outnumber those that come from normal commercials.

This is no accident — the idea IS to drill into people's heads that one instant of carelessness/inattentiveness/failure to heed basic safety rules and regulations, one thoughtless comment or act of anger, one decision to smoke/drink/use drugs can (and often does) result in lifelong consequences, including severe injury or death and emotional scars that last a lifetime.

Talk about Well Intentioned Extremists - some people indeed believe that Scare 'em Straight tactics — graphically showing the consequences — are the only way to shock the target audience into following safety rules and regulations at every moment. Or, in the case of abuse of others, be they animals, women or children, to immediately report wrongdoing and ensure that the wrong-doers face justice stat.

The other side of the coin is that many of these are simply Brutal Honesty at its finest. When Reality Ensues, it frequently isn't pretty. However horrific these little morality tales may be, if they mean that someone doesn't get splattered across the pavement without the aid of Conspicuous CGI, they have done their job. Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, after all.

The truly daring can watch one or more of these countdowns of some of the scariest PSAs and PIFs, which you can find in the folder below. Some of these countdowns have been compiled and uploaded by members of YouTube's community of PIF reviewers and connoisseurs. They know what they're talking about. Also, discretion is advised - there's some pretty nasty stuff in there.

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    Countdowns and Compilations 

A word of warning: As PSAs and PIFs are meant to warn you about things that happen in Real Life, browsing this page may cause paranoia. Be careful.

Due to the vast quantity of ads that could qualify as Nightmare Fuel, the following topics have their own pages.
  • Safety (including children, fire, fireworks, guns, vehicles, crime and the workplace)
  • Health (alcohol, smoking, drugs, diseases, medical awareness and dental health)

Cruelty / Violence / Personal Concerns

    Animal Cruelty 
Remember all those times as a kid you were told "owning a pet is a big responsibility"? Well, this is what they were talking about.
  • RSPCA PIFs:
    • This cinema ad from the late 80s (rated 18) starts off with a dark, slow zoom in on a dog with an instrumental "How Much is That Doggy in the Window?" song being played over it. After a while though, the dog looks to his right and sees a gun pointed at his face with a voice over telling us to give us (the RSPCA) a pound, or otherwise, they'll have to pull the trigger, either giving us the message that if they don't get enough funds, they might as well stop what they're doing or have to kill off animals they can no longer take care of (due to overbreeding). It could possibly be sad as well, particularly due to the sad look in the dog's eyes...or it could come off as funny, if you live in the US and remember this strangely similar National Lampoon magazine cover.
      Narrator: Please give us a pound, or we'll have to pull the trigger.
      • A television variant of this ad is significantly calmer, as a child sings the song instead, the background is gray, and there is no gun at the end.
        Narrator: Before you give someone a dog this Christmas, please count the cost.
      • The Nostalgia Critic was horrified by this ad too, pointing out that it doesn't even get the point across well, appearing more like they're holding the poor dog hostage than pleading for donations.
    • Another RSPCA cinema ad from the early 90s titled Sam involves a dog being placed in an oven whimpering as the announcer compares the heat in the oven to the heat in a locked car on a hot day. It ends not telling you of the dog's fate as you hear one last whimper. Also, the BBFC rated it 'U', meaning they found it suitable for 4-year-olds and above.
    • ''Kitten''. A longer spot than those named so far; close-up of an adorable ginger kitten's face, apparently sleeping peacefully, while a hand strokes its head and the narrator placidly wonders what "they" dream about. Cut to RSPCA officer Mike rushing to a scene while the dispatcher warns that she's "got a nasty one" for him. A tearful woman indicates some unnamed male in her household has thrown the kitten against the wall, and it is no longer moving. A moment later officer Mike leaves the house with a sober expression, carrying a small cloth bundle; fellow officer peers beneath and remarks "poor little mite". Cut back to the opening scene where the narrator observes that animals are not toys or punching bags and that in a better world "we'd be looking for a new home for you." Pull back to see the person stroking the kitten was the vet who could not save her. The kitten lies on a steel table, with a tiny RSPCA body-bag and zip-tie waiting nearby.
    • "My Little Puppy". Done in the style of a really saccharine toy commercial, it is actually a scathing commentary on people who buy pets with no thought that pet ownership comes with responsibility — training, housebreaking, regular feeding, actually paying attention to them. The anvilicious ending pulls no punches in condemning the attitude that pets are as disposable as an unwanted toy.
    • "Swim" was produced by the same company that brought us the anti-fox-hunting film with the shot of a real carcass (see the Wildlife folder). It is shot in a first-person view of two dogs following their owner who is supposedly taking them for a swim. However, the ad takes a turn for the worse midway through, where all of a sudden the dog says that he's "Never been down this way before...usually we go where there's more people." Things get even worse when the dog notes that it feels colder than he can take. Then, he notes that it's "so cold that our friend puts us in a sack to keep us warm!", just as he covers up the camera with said sack. And at that point, we know exactly what he's about to do. And if you couldn't figure it out by them, after the RSPCA hotline is shown, we see the dick tying up the bag before presumably throwing it out into the canal. Rated 15 for cinema release.
    • "Yard" works in much the same way as "Swim", except here it follows the POV of a dog locked in the titular yard, wondering what it was she did to deserve this punishment, and thinking about how tired and thirsty she is. Unlike "Swim", it's clear that something bad is happening from the start, and it ends with a third-person shot of the police arriving to take away the presumably deceased dog. Just... wow. Rated 15 for cinema release.
  • Australia's RSPCA often makes lighthearted PIFs in contrast to their UK cousins, but this ad stands out among theirs for being quite unsettling. It shows a man beating his wife when suddenly the woman's cries of pain are replaced by the sounds of a dog getting beaten. A caption then appears coldly telling the audience that 37% of violent criminals abused animals in their childhood, and the RSPCA's runs programs to teach kids to respect animals.
  • A somewhat unsettling cinema PIF from the National Canine Defense League (currently known as Dogs Trust) that's apparently rated U shows a simple shot of a tired and sad dalmatian lying on a red blanket. The camera slowly zooms out to reveal that the dog is locked in a cage, presumably in a shelter while a haunting instrumental of Silent Night plays. The ad closes with the dog curling up dejectedly and the tagline "A dog is for life. Not just for Christmas." Not to mention that the ad was sponsored by Disney, and has a link for kids to play a "cyber-puppy" game.
  • An organization called Compassion in World Farming created an 18-rated PIF for theatres called "Welcome to the Battery" encouraging people to buy free range eggs by giving audiences a glimpse into the lives of battery farm chickens. It starts with a bespectacled David Graham informing the audience that they will soon be confined to cages "for your protection", and that their teeth and nails will be surgically removed ("This greatly reduces incidents of cannibalism."). Why? Because they are about to become part of "one of the world's most cost-effective production systems." "You have nothing to worry about." Cue real footage of chickens in rows of cramped cages in a battery farm. "This system has been tested on 45 million specimens. With, I might add, your approval." We close on one sickly looking chicken which seems to be having trouble breathing as CIWF implores you to buy free range eggs. ("They don't cost this much.")
    • A Canadian PSA with the same theme explores this as well but in a less scary way. We are treated to a shot of an oven, while a narrator tells us that the average oven can fit one chicken inside it. The door then opens, and there's a live chicken inside (which is clearly not a battery hen). As the PSA goes on, more chickens look up from around the first chicken, until eventually, you can make out five other chickens inside a space that can only fit one.
  • These ASPCA print ads are certainly short and not at all sweet. They show an animal and two other objects and claim that the things ASPCA have seen are worse than any scenario your imagination can put together with them.
  • This Animal Aid PIF takes this trope one step further by depicting an electronic toy puppy being euthanized.
  • Animals Australia made an ad to denounce the Australian pork industry's inhumane conditions for their livestock. They do this by animating a pig named Lucy in a slaughterhouse confined to a tight cage to talk and voiced over by a little girl, who complains about her condition. A narrator afterwards tells you that it is commonly accepted that pigs have the intelligence of a 3-year-old child. What makes this deeply unnerving is that the background noises throughout the ad are made up of children crying, meant to represent other pigs in the slaughterhouse. There's also the fact that the pig in the video continually stares directly at the camera through most of the ad, venturing forth on all sorts of Uncanny Valley.

    Bullying, Racism and Discrimination 
Consider this a smarting reminder that picking on, or targeting anyone for mistreatment, is not harmless.
  • "Broken Toy", an anti-bullying video. The shots of the children are grainy in a documentary style, with mumbled, very real-sounding dialogue. It features a young boy who was constantly being bullied; at one point he manages to make a friend with another boy, who later shown having to move away. Eventually, the boy is taunted so badly that he's pushed out into a street, gets hit by a car and nearly dies. One of the really scary things about this video isn't so much the video itself as the fact that schoolyard bullies can really be this bad. It proves that kids aren't always good, they can be rotten too. note 
    • There was also this one extended PSA called "Tears on the Highway" which had a similar message, probably made by the same producers which is shown at local elementary schools. It features again a young boy being bullied on a school bus full of children. As the situation worsens from the bullies verbally abusing the kid to a fist fight, the bus driver gets distracted and gets in a full on collision with a semi-truck, killing nearly every child on the bus including the young boy (there is no Gory Discretion Shot either, you watch as these kids die horrible deaths). As the video ends a camera zooms into the boy's smiling face as the scene fades to red.
  • A 1980s-era anti-hate PSA, in which we see a cartoon man walk towards the viewer with an increasingly red and angry face that gets bigger and bigger until said face fills up the entire screen and then explodes. In the background, we can hear a song: "When you hate/who do you hurt the most?/Hate hurts YOU!" In this case, the angry cartoon man's face exploding is timed to go along with the "YOU!" part of the song. Here's the ad in question on RetroJunk.
    • Fun fact: The full version of the ad began with said cartoon man walking from a distance before heading towards the viewer, and the narrator did not sing but had an echoing, ominous voice. That version scared children, and they had to tone it down.
  • An anti-bullying PSA showed a kid being bullied, and each day the bullies get more aggressive, and on the final day you see the kid standing on a chair — he kicks the chair away and his legs stay suspended, and immediately, you can tell that he's been Driven to Suicide.
  • This Israeli anti-racism ad. Not only does the heavy metal rendition of Israel's national anthem sound scary, if you happen to know the Hebrew lyrics, things get worse.
  • This PSA about racial acceptance, which features claymation animated shoes from the darkest areas of the Uncanny Valley.
  • A chilling 1998 anti-sectarianism PIF from the British government's Northern Ireland Office begins with showing a group of toddlers happily playing with toys in a nursery, accompanied by Diana Ross's "Do You Know Where You're Going To" playing in the background. All seems well... until a radio begins delivering harrowing news stories about crimes delivered by sects (including a teenager who had been crucified to a wooden fence with metal spikes through his knees and elbows). As the radio continues, the room goes dark, and the toddlers begin crying as the toys in the nursery suddenly become ominous and threatening. The PIF ends with the tagline "Heal the hate. Fight the future." on a white background.
  • This PSA from Japan discusses "ljime" (Japanese for bullying or intimidation). It shows a group of schoolchildren wearing eerie white masks, complete with narrow slits for their eyes and mouth. Luckily, the ad begins to take a lighter tone when the schoolchildren then remove their masks, revealing their smiling faces underneath. Also helping is the cheery music in the background and the image of a white mask clattering to the ground concluding the PSA.
  • Ad Council ran this terrifying anti-hate advert way back, showing actual photos of Nazi and Ku Klux Klan rallies, and civil rights protests while an electronic screaming noise is played over and over again. This was shown on daytime television where kids were most likely watching and later broadcasts of this advert don't show the middle part possibly due to complaints.
  • This parody of Celebrities Read Mean Tweets starts off lighthearted enough and even has Laugh Track playing in the background. But the Laugh Track becomes quieter and quieter as the tweets become increasingly more mean-spirited. Until even the music completely grinds to a stop as a girl reads the final tweet: "No one likes you. Do everyone a favour. Just kill yourself." She then walks away and the tagline appears on screen "Cyberbullying is no joke".

    Child Abuse 
Abusive Parents can be played many ways in fiction, but in Real Life? Not so much.
  • A 2007 child sex abuse awareness PSA called Monsters plays upon the common childhood theme of monsters hiding under the bed and in the closet. As said situations play out — red eyes from under the bed and tentacles from the closet — and those monsters are proven to be imaginary, the voice-over narrator explains, "It's very easy to hide from monsters under the bed ... and in the closet." But the boy (presumably named Dallas) lies wide awake, panting nervously and fearfully as the narrator continues about the real monsters. Cue the door opening and a young man, ominously covered in shadows — his exact relationship with the boy is not explained — enters the room. The scene cuts to the window as text explains to viewers that in most cases, child sex abuse victims know their abusers (and hence, are the real "monsters") before the tagline "It's time to stop hiding."
  • The Irish equivalent of the NSPCC, the IPCC, produced this PSA that quickly becomes very graphic. In it, a young boy bravely recites his intentions to become an activist when he grows up, all the while suffering increasingly brutal abuse at the hands of his parent, culminating in the parent attempting to crush the boy's ribcage beneath his foot.
    I can't wait until I grow up, until I have the right to be happy, to be kept safe, to be kept warm. To feel loved. To be listened to, to be heard. To never ever ever ever cower, or tremble, or shake, or to have my innocence punched or kicked or screamed away. I'll fight for the rights of children like me, who don't have a childhood. I can't wait until I grow up.
  • A French ad for Enfance et partage is very unsettling. It starts out normal, with two adult men and a woman eating lunch. Then, all of a sudden, the woman slaps one of the man, and the other man drags him away and starts brutally beating him up with a belt. The worst part is the end where it ends with the tagline "This is a reconstruction. In reality, the victim was 6 years old."
  • The anti-child abuse organization NSPCC is responsible for a lot of these.
    • An advertisement for the NSPCC from 1999, titled Can't Look. It shows teddy bears in the sort of wallpaper you'd see in a baby's bedroom, a mug with Rupert Bear and an Action Man-like action figure and posters of footballers and pop stars all covering their eyes, over the sound of off-screen child abuse (there's a man molesting a girl, a father yelling at his son, a boy in a closet wailing, and a woman yelling a Big "SHUT UP!" at her crying baby), the message being that covering our eyes doesn't stop bad things happening.
    • Another NSPCC advert, "Cartoon Boy", shows an animated cartoon boy being abused by his live-action father, with cartoonish results that are out of keeping with the seriousness with which his father attacks him -including graphically being burned with a butt of a cigarette- culminating in the boy being knocked down the stairs...only to finally be shown as a real child, no longer cartoonishly affected but lying either unconscious or dead at the foot of the stairs. "Real children don't bounce back" indeed.
    • One disturbing NSPCC campaign from 2006 was run in the style of a mock Fairy Tale about a 13 year old girl who, just like Cinderella, was left alone at home while her family went out on the town. The advert ended with a fire starting and said girl being trapped, presumably dying, with no way to escape, all while "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. plays in the background.
    • Another one began with a man creeping into a girl's bedroom, only to be trampled by fun runners before he can do anything, with the message that you can raise money for the NSPCC through fundraising events. The scary part in all this is when the runners' arrival is heralded by a man in a rabbit mask looming ominously out of the darkness.
    • This ad, also from the NSPCC, about victims of abuse being unable to speak out against their abusers is horrific. The puppet girl is especially creepy.
    • These three ads by the NSPCC are so horrifying, they will make you hug the nearest baby you see. One shows a man snapping a pencil in anger as his child cries, and the tells us that a baby's arm isn't much stronger. Another one is worse, it shows a child in the hospital and either dead or unconscious, with the doctors explaining its horrific injuries including brain bleeding, however the child's okay - its eyes are open at the end. The final ad is the worst one of all, and shows us a woman slowly growing annoyed with her wailing infant and then spinning around to hit the child. To make matters worse, the ad ends before we see what happens.
    • Yet another NSPCC campaign. Unsurprisingly, the ad was pulled due to the masks (used to represent how children cover up abuse) being deemed too realistic and distressing for children. (The TV one, at least; there were also magazine ads.)
    • "The $#*! Kids Say" starts out cute, with kids saying strange things. However, as it progresses, the things they say hint at abuse. This includes a little girl shouting at another, and a girl saying "I'm a mistake, it's always my fault". It's an excellent use of Fridge Horror to get the point across.
    • Another one shows a young girl (named Ellie) placing a doll on her bed, who then says: "My name's Mandy. I can sing and play games. You can hug me!" and giggles. Ellie then leaves the room upon hearing her presumably abusive mother sternly calling her name downstairs. The doll continues: "You can tell me all your secrets. My best friend Ellie tells me hers. Her mummy comes into her room and punches her..." and continues to repeat "and punches her" over and over until the end of the ad.
      • The one they made for boys is arguably even worse because the abuse actually happens. In it, it shows a boy's dingy bedroom, a cat knocks over a toy robot on the floor causing it to say "Astrobot to base!" and to make zapping sounds. Then, still in its robot voice, it says "My mission is to protect Thomas from his daddy. He locks him in the dark place." A faint knocking sound comes from behind a door as the toy exclaims "Astrobot to the rescue!" There's a horrible irony in that the robot is just a toy and can't actually help.
    • This terrifying one against child pornography begins with showing a man on a laptop, with his back facing the camera. He walks away from the laptop upon hearing the doorbell. As the camera zooms in on the laptop, a child suddenly appears in it, pressing his or her hands against the screen as a Scare Chord plays.
    • One ad opens with a little girl magically changing her surroundings by saying "Click!" as she heads home from school. It's fun, up until she actually makes it home. At which point, she gets more tense as she sits on her bed, helplessly and uselessly repeating "Click" as someone approaches her room. That's how it ends.
  • Many years ago, there was a PSA about child abuse that showed a jack-in-the-box playing a lullaby tune, before the payload sprang forth - an archaic baby doll with a porcelain head - to the sound of a baby crying. Then, out of nowhere, a baseball bat swings around and smashes the doll's head. And it played in the middle of a block of daytime cartoons.
  • The US organization Ad Council released this PSA, titled Word Pictures. The advert shows various insults written in crayon on a white background, while various adult voiceovers shouted the abuses(including "I Hate You!"). At the end, drawings of crying children (also in crayon) appear along with the Ad Council logo.
  • There was a Public Service Announcement in Hong Kong that showed a red liquid dripping onto the floor from a table. The camera then panned up to show that it was coming from an overturned glass, with a caption about a toddler whose abusive parents beat him to death for spilling his juice.
  • From the NCPCA, Children believe what they hear... One of the earliest promos for verbal child abuse.
  • Barnardo's, a British charity that works with vulnerable children, is well known for these. Its greatest hits include:
    • A TV and poster campaign showing underage prostitutes with digitally aged faces to show that sexual abuse has stolen their childhood. The NSPCC later did its own version with adults speaking in children's voices about living with molestation.
    • A series of posters featuring distance shots of people who have died horribly (through murder, suicide, drug overdose, etc.) with text explaining that they really "died" as children because of abuse or neglect.
    • Images of babies snuggled up with rats and cockroaches because they are trapped in substandard housing.
    • Print adverts (eventually banned for causing "widespread offense") featuring newborn babies with harmful objects in their mouths, with the slogan, "There are no silver spoons for children born into poverty." A TV advert of this campaign also exists, showing a live cockroach crawling out of a newborn infant's mouth.
    • An advert that began with a group of men going out to hunt "parasites" and "scum" that "destroy lives", stating that "something must be done". We're led to believe that they are hunting verminous wildlife, but they instead begin shooting at a group of teenagers, culminating in them screaming- "TO HELL WITH THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS!". The advert states that every line of dialogue in the film was a quote about children, made by members of the public on the website of a national newspaper.
    • Children talking about their dreams for the future (becoming a policeman, running a candy store, being an athlete or Hollywood star) juxtaposed with a caption stating what really happened to them, such as O.D. on heroin before 20, becoming a prostitute, commits robbery and murder and so on.
    • A young man (early 20s or so) talks to the camera about how his life is going well - he's a new father, he likes his job, and so forth. But then he states that he still has nightmares, and as the camera moves, every time an object covers him or his face is off-frame, he's a little younger... and his story gets a little worse. Eventually he's a very young boy, covered in bruises, whimpering about how he's hurt. The message is a good one (a bad beginning does not have to lead to a bad ending), but the delivery stings.
  • There was a radio PSA about Internet paedophiles where we hear a young girl talking about a guy that she and her friend met on the internet. He's 17 with his own car and wanted to meet them, but the girl didn't want to go. She wonders whether her friend went alone, and reflects that she hasn't heard from her since ...
  • Another PSA on Internet and chat room safety was made for TV ... with a bright-looking and attractive 16-year-old communicating with someone she believes is her age, and that he can't wait to meet her. Reveal the other side of the conversation, and it's actually a middle-aged man ... and the viewer is left to draw his own conclusions about whether the meeting took place.
  • There's a brief ad currently being shown before movies in the United States that features a little girl treating her doll the way her mother treats her. Sadly, the mother hasn't set a good example...
  • Fragile Childhood asks "How do our children see us when we've been drinking?" Apparently, they see us as a monstrous anthropomorphic rabbit, a shady man in a hood, a zombie, a Monster Clown, a sketchy, half-dressed Santa Claus, and a criminal in a stocking mask. As if the costumes weren't bad enough, the last one is buckling his son into a car seat...and remember, he's been drinking...
  • The fact that many abusers can appear to be loving parents is the horror in this one. Look at the little girl's face. The long version has her looking back through the window.
  • A radio PSA about sexual exploitation had a man describing how he uses child prostitutes. The ad becomes creepier and creepier as he says he likes very young girls and doesn't have to bother using condoms with them. We're led to believe that he goes abroad to find them, but at the end he says there's no need for him to travel, when he can get child prostitutes in his own home town.
  • By all rights, this ad should be complete and utter narm. While the subject matter is appropriately horrific - that children who are sexually abused have to live with their trauma for the rest of their lives - the visual metaphor used to represent said trauma can really only be described as a giant penis snake. On paper, that sounds simply too vulgar to be taken seriously. In practice, however, it's one of the most revolting things you will ever see.
  • An Indian PSA for the Prayas Foundation is very simple and unsettling. A mouse cursor slowly moves over a still image of a smiling girl. This goes on for a while before it fades to black with the tagline "Thankfully, she did not feel a thing. But millions of children are not as fortunate."
    • Germany made their own version which is even more horrifying. In this one when the cursor moves over the picture of the kid, the sound of a man getting off to it is heard in the background. It's bound to push all the wrong buttons.
  • A PSA from the Ad Council and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children features a grown man talking about chatting with teenage girls online and how easy it is to gain their trust (by playing on their insecurities and acting more mature than boys their age), while a young girl talks about how she enjoys the attention she gets from older guys on the Internet. As the two finish each other's sentences, it quickly becomes clear that the man does not have the girl's best interest at heart. And then there's the ending.
    Girl: I know what I'm doing. If you really care about each other, there's nothing wrong with-
    Man: Meeting is the goal. Once I get them out of their house, well...that's when things get really interesting.
    Narrator: Online predators know what they're doing. Do you?
  • The Nobody’s Children Foundation in Poland made these two macabre print ads. Claiming that “you can lose more than your patience", they depict physically abused children with parts of their faces and limbs broken off as if they were porcelain dolls. Body Horror at its finest.
  • This creepy print ad from Casa de Menor in Spain features a young girl standing alone in a room naked, with several disembodied hands covering her body in a way that resembles a dress.
  • A recent advert from the Scottish Government has the voice of a paedophile speaking through the character on a girl's phone case.
  • One PSA for Unicef has a young boy working on what appears to be an innocent art project. Upon finishing, he attaches each piece of cardboard to his body and crouches down to form a realistic-looking dresser drawer that he uses to hide from his abusive father. Upon the father coming into his son's room, he ogles it for a long time then leaves, giving us the implication that just because it worked that time, doesn't mean that it'll work the next...
    • On a lighter note; You gotta hand it to that kid for his incredible ingenuity.
  • A horrifying radio ad for the German child abuse charity Hansel and Gretel Foundation begins with the apparently wholesome sound of a little girl laughing hysterically, before the narrator tells the listener that if you can recognize that the girl is actually having an orgasm, the charity will find you and put you in jail, and if you can't, you should donate money. There's a link here, but you'll probably feel like you'll end up on a list just for having heard it.
    • It becomes Narm of sorts when you learn that the Hansel and Gretel Foundation didn't actually use a girl having an orgasm to make the sound.
  • This horrifying South African PSA by Women and Men Against Child Abuse has a man, implied to be HIV-positive, raping his daughter off-screen while a woman listens via a baby monitor. The fact that she can only sit there and listen in horror make the whole thing ten times worse.
    • The PSA becomes much worse when the ad ends with the tagline "If you won't stop him from raping her, who will?" when the whole point of the PSA shows a woman helpless to stop a girl from being raped.
  • This PSA for the organization, Child Cry has a dark, house at night that appears, at first, to be an implied evening of passion between lovers. There's a soundtrack of 70s porn music as we see the trail of clothes leading up to the bedroom. But then; The true stomach-churning nature of what is really going on is revealed when the last bit of clothing we see is a small child's tiny pink panties, a tiny sneaker and a little stuffed lamb plushie. For extra squick; During the lead up, you can faintly hear a man mutter in a very deep, sleazy, "porny" voice, "....mah baby girl....I will feel yo body....".
  • This Japanese PSA from stopping child labor. It features a child worker putting an S.O.S. in a pair of pants. Even worse, when a shopper finds the note, he drops it and leaves it on the floor, leaving the child's fate unknown.
  • There is a series of three ads by Prevent Child Abuse Utah that feature the disembodied voices of children over colorless environments that briefly give details of evidence that suggest abuse, then pleading with the viewer not to "look the other way", all the while terrifyingly eerie music plays in the background. See for yourself
  • There was once a commercial from The Night's Guard that showed a young brother and sister duo pretending to be a knight and a princess, respectfully. All is fine and well until their drunken father comes charging up the stairs towards the room, but instead of a normal human shadow, there is the downright scary image of a dragon where it should be on the wall. Thankfully, the children are rescued by children's services before the father / "dragon" could do anything to them, but still...

    Domestic Violence and Personal Concerns 
Domestic Abuse comes in many ways for many reasons, though the physical kind is easily the hardest to look at. No points for guessing what you'll be seeing a lot of in these ads.
  • Children See, Children Do: The commercial starts off cute enough, with a kid mimicking her parent in their daily commute...up until you see she's smoking a cigarette just like her mum. Then it starts getting weird: some of it is unintentionally fun, such as a kid mimicking her mom while she's screaming at another driver and giving the bird, or the aforementioned payphone users start getting frustrated at the payphones, but most of it is pretty jarring, especially near the end when a kid is ready to punch his mom out alongside his abusive father...
  • There was a domestic violence PSA shown in the 1990s by Futures Without Violence (formerly known as the Family Violence Prevention Fund). It featured a little boy sitting on some stairs while the viewer can hear the father berating the mother very nastily about her not having dinner ready in the background. There's an audible smack and the mother screams and cries as her husband beats her all while the little boy listens on. The fact that you could only hear it and not see it made it all the worse.
  • In the early 21st century, Canadian broadcasters began running a PSA (from the Calgary-based domestic abuse action group Homefront) aptly titled "She Spilled My Coffee!" in which a family is sitting in a restaurant. The father is served coffee by a young waitress, but she accidentally spills a little bit of it on the plate. She apologizes before the father curses at her, grabs her by the neck, slams her against another table and sadistically spills the coffee pot on her body as she screams in agony and he slaps her, leaving her to slip off the table onto the floor and cry (or possibly fall unconscious). Worse, nobody stops this from happening. Finally, as the father sits back down in his chair and the family continues to enjoy their time as if nothing happened, an announcer says "You wouldn't get away with it here, you shouldn't get away with it at home." note  The horrible display is made even worse by just before the man attacks the waitress, the reactions of his children show when even they, despite both being under the age of 10, just knew the signals of when he was about to go off and had previously witnessed his abuse happening to someone else, suffered from it themselves or both. This PSA was one of many made by Homefront in Calgary and, unsurprisingly enough, was considered controversial for TV. (Never mind the fact that the man calls the waitress a "fuckin' bitch" before he beats her.)
    • On the other hand, the dad's over(re)acting could lead to Narm.
    • Another ad in the series that was also banned features a female employee accidentally speaking over the manager during a board meeting, and being sadistically beaten in front of everyone. Like the "Spilled the Coffee" short, the co-workers sit in stunned silence rather than try to stop it (although they do go to help her, and the presenter leaves the office, presumably to get the manager's supervisor). note 
  • Neighbors. Made worse by the fact you can hear the woman blatantly screaming "I can't get up!" and the husband keeps taunting her. We don't ''see'' what happens upstairs. And then there's the fact the neighbors in the title just shrug it off and go to bed.
  • This cinema ad for Samaritans from 1989 (rated 15) features a woman (supposedly named Saira) in a dark room who is talking to the camera about...something, but the only noise that comes out of her mouth is some sort of horrifying, distorted electric-guitar noise. At the beginning, she seems perfectly content and fine, but by the end of the ad she's reduced to screaming through her tears as the camera backs out to reveal that she's stuck in a dark corner. Some text pops up in the bottom right that says: "THE SAMARITANS UNDERSTAND." The fact that the audience can get the gist of what she is talking about but are only hearing the electronic noise is pretty horrifying, because it feels like a massive guilt trip. She is opening up but nobody is listening or there to help her.
    • Another distressing 1992 cinema ad from The Samaritans features the sounds of people speaking, talking about things like divorce, job loss, repossession, fines, etc. accompanied by wavy white lines swimming across the screen - which eventually form a telephone with teeth that emits a harrowing scream, showing that the man on the receiving end of all this misfortune just can't take it any more and has decided to call the Samaritans. And worst of all, it received a U certificate from the BBFC.
    • Another Samaritans advert, from around the time of the foot and mouth epidemic in the UK in 2001, shows clearly devastated farmers who have either had all of their livestock die or been forced to kill and burn them in an effort to contain the illness, as well as the mounds of dead animals that resulted and the enormous bonfires of livestock. Some of the things the farmers come out with are nightmare fuel alone: "I used to know them all by name... now they're just over there with their legs sticking in the air" being one of the nicer comments. All of this is set to Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings", of all things.
    • This one shows a man trapped behind translucent plastic, screaming and trying to stretch through the wrap, all set to a creepy rendition of Pink Floyd's "Is There Anybody Out There?".
  • A cinema ad for a British rape crisis charity (rated 15) showed a woman in bed having nightmares, while a soundtrack plays of her being raped by a neighbour and then people saying various offensive, unhelpful or Victim Blaming things to her (such as asking what she was wearing and whether she was having an affair with the rapist.) Eventually she wakes up and screams.
  • Housing charity Shelter ran an ad showing a family forced to live at a "bed and breakfast" (cheap hostel accommodation offered to the homeless) in a room the size of a solitary confinement cell in jail. Tempers begin to fray with the baby screaming, mother nagging and father shouting. Eventually he lunges for his daughter because her out-of-tune music practice is irritating him; his wife gets in the way, and the ad ends on a freeze-frame of the guy about to violently beat her. You can see it here.
  • An ad for a domestic violence hotline has a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" by Emy Reynolds playing while a woman stands in front of a bathroom mirror. Bruises continually form on her face and fade away, but become progressively worse. Text gives the ad's message that abuse doesn't stop on its own, further emphasized by the ending in which the woman quickly turns around as the screen cuts to black, suggesting whoever did this to her is about to do it again. The bruises on her neck also imply that just because she survived the abuse this time doesn't mean that she will survive next time making this ad heartbreaking as well as horrifying.
  • One PSA from the early 2000s features a black-and-white image of a baby sleeping peacefully as an instrumental of "Brahms' Lullaby" plays in the background. It is also in the background that we hear a man and woman, the child's parents, yelling and arguing with each other. The images of their angry faces, yelling mouths and of the escalating violence (of dishes smashing and the man striking the woman in the face) are projected onto the baby itself. The last image is of the boy, now a young teenager, pointing the gun at someone off camera as the screen then goes black and a single shot is heard. It then goes back to the sleeping baby and a woman's voice then says "What a child learns about violence, a child learns for life." There are three versions of the commercial: the full length one of 30 seconds that ends with the gunshot, a 15 second one with the gunshot and another 30 second one that instead of the shot being fired, we hear a ghostly, unsettling silence.
  • There are some British adverts against domestic violence. One of them features a teenage boy verbally and physically abusing his girlfriend. The camera then cuts to his bedroom window, where he is outside, looking in on himself and his girlfriend, banging on the window and screaming at himself to leave her alone. The idea is a very good one, that if you could see yourself, you might think twice about domestic violence, but it's still creepy. There was also a matching set done for the girl of the relationship, encouraging her to speak out about being abused. They are just as horrible. And now they've done one for rape, it's just as saddening.
  • This PSA about both textual harassment and dating abuse, which was made by Futures Without Violence as part of a campaign called "That's Not Cool". It depicts a girl being creepily followed around by her presumed boyfriend in a cell phone costume (including when she wakes up, goes to school, and spends time with her friends), who’s constantly telling her to “text [him]” and eventually asks for her to send him nude pictures by the end of the ad.
    • The radio version is even more unnerving: likening textual harassment to having an "angry robot" send texts for you, an off-putting robotic, monotone voice reads out the texts sent from the abuser. As the ad progresses, the texts become increasingly impatient and aggressive. The real kicker is the final text read before the female announcer speaks: "I’m waiting outside your house."
  • From Mexico's National Human Right's Commission comes this horror. It shows a happy couple talking about how their significant other is a wonderful and beautiful person. It then shows them spinning around in a field as the music slowly turns ominous, while the girl's face becomes worried and the guy's face becomes creepy. She asks him, "Why do you hurt me?", to which he replies, "Because you are worth a lot.... of money", as he lets go and the girl falls into a dark room occupied with other girls as she cowers in fear.

    Victims of War / International Concerns 
Let's take things to a higher scale. If you thought that War Is Hell for the soldiers, imagine how hard it must be to live in these wartorn lands...
  • The 1943 Wartime Cartoon Education for Death. In particular, the ending sequence- "Manhood binds him still, heiling and marching. But the grim years of regimentation have done their work. He is now a good Nazi. He sees no more than what the party wants him to, he says nothing but what the party wants him to say, and he does nothing but what the party wants him to do". The final shot shows an army of of marching Nazi soldiers fading away into rows and rows of identical swastika and helmet-topped crosses as the music descends to silence, with the narration "And so, he marches on with his millions of comrades, trampling on the rights of others. For now, his education is complete. His education... for death". You know what makes this truly scary? The fact that this actually happened. Demons, monsters and witches are make-believe. Nazis and the Holocaust are very real. Disney effectively exposed children to a real-life tragedy.
    • Ironically, in an era when most animation studios zealously supported the war effort and made great strides in dehumanizing and caricaturing the Axis Powers, this cartoon reminds the audience that the Germans are human too, having been conscripted into a war where millions of them shall die.
  • The Unicef PSA where The Smurfs' village gets bombed. Talk about a childhood killer, especially when one learns Peyo's family approved it.
  • This Pro-Palestine PSA, "Imagine if London was Occupied by Israel" The blood on the girl and the fact that the man can't get her to an ambulance is extremely terrifying.
  • This pro-Israel PSA, "15 Seconds", is horrifyingly effective at conveying the fear of living under constant threat of rocket attacks. Imagine hearing that siren going off out of nowhere and knowing you only have fifteen seconds to get yourself and your loved ones to safety. And then there's the poor little girl whose mother couldn't save her in time...
  • "Most Shocking Second a Day" from Save the Children imagines what it would be like if a crisis like one in the Middle East (namely, Syria) happened in Britain. It piles on the Adult Fear by showing everything from the perspective of a young girl with the events occurring within the course of one year. Also Fridge Horror is in full effect here when at the beginning of and in the former part of the ad, she is surrounded by loved ones and at the end it's only her and her mother...
    • A sequel was made two years later when the conflict worsened. Still The Most Shocking Second A Day follows the same girl and her mother as they try and flee the country, turning into refugees in the process. The situations they get into are even worse and manages to be a Tear Jerker in the process. Specially in the end when the girl loses her mother and the young boy she was taking care of gets taken away, leaving her all alone.
  • This 2000 PIF for Save the Children is nothing short of horrific. We see a goldfish happily swimming in a fishbowl...until, all of a sudden, a hand violently grabs it and leaves it on the countertop, where we get to watch it suffocate fully. All of this is overdubbed with audio of a child screaming against gunshots, ending with her hyperventilating.
  • This PSA is meant to raise awareness of the problem of landmines. It's mostly just disturbing. It features some kids celebrating a soccer/football win. As one of the team players approaches the other, a landmine suddenly goes off. Children scream and run away as horrified parents look on.
  • This one concerns aid for people on holiday who have gotten themselves locked up abroad. The narration tells us that this organization helps those people, who often are left in unclean jails "to rot". As it says this, we see what clearly looks like a woman's corpse, mouth agape... before a cockroach falls into her mouth and she wakes up, spitting it out in disgust. The worst part? A note at the end tells us that this was a true story and it really happened to someone.
  • Quite a few from "Reporters Sans Frontieres" (Reporters Without Borders).
    • One PSA features a seemingly real homemade video in which a couple witness a shooting on video. The message? "In the last 15 years, access to information has cost 850 journalists' lives."
    • Another 2013 ad shows pictures of dictators and authoritarian leaders, such as Bashar Al-Assad, Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, Ilham Aliyev, Robert Mugabe, etc. having fun with their families, having celebrations, embracing a dog, kissing a baby, among other things to make them look good. The message it sends is very clear. You know exactly where it is going. "Without independent journalists, this would be the news." This implies that without a free press, all you would see are kind gentle leaders, and you would hear nothing about corruption, war crimes, or abysmal states that people live in. The music also becomes distorted at the end, as if the haunting piano playing "Go to sleep" wasn't bad enough...
    • In a 2010 ad, there is a picture of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former President of Iran, being torn from a magazine and being crumbled up while archive audio of him speaking is being heard, slowly becoming distorted. "Only a free press can hurt them."
    • There is an ad featuring military parades from countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, among other oppressive nations (even the US and UK are depicted as well), set to bouncy energetic music. Then the text reads, "Without independent reporters, war would just be a nice show." This is followed by a fade to black and a black-and-white slideshow depicting graphic photos in quick succession of unearthed mass graves, people grieving over tombstones, a burned down house with a couple looking at the ruins, an African man with a physically scarred face, a mass of dead bodies in a cargo truck, a middle eastern man who is writhing on the floor from being shot, people in hospital beds in hysterics, among other images of war, famine, bloodshed, ending on a picture of a reporter taking photos from some sort of civil war with the text reading, "Support those that risk their lives to bring us the truth." One of the most harrowing PIFs from the RSF, due to the very graphic photos.
    • Another harrowing ad shows a shipping container in the middle of a desert, the narrator says that there is no cargo, yet it is not empty. The narrator then says a reporter has been locked up for 12 years.
    • An extremely creepy PIF at first seems like a commercial for an action figure, known as "reporter man". The toy is then gagged, lit on fire, electrocuted, dragged, dismembered, and tortured, while the narrator still pitches this action figure. A black background with white text then reads, "Today for more than 200 journalists, torture prison, or death are a reality".
    • One PIF features a beautiful beach with nice Havana music playing, surrounded by an all black background. All of a sudden a face pops out as if one was in a prison. Then the message hits, "Welcome to Cuba. One of the world's biggest jails for journalists."
  • In 1995, a charity organization called Africare released a television ad asking for donations in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide (in which almost a million of the country's Tutsi ethnic minority were slaughtered in just 4 months before the government authorizing the killings was overthrown by a rival faction). The images of suffering children are bad enough, but what really makes this ad stand out is the eerie music and rather blunt text encouraging those who do not want to send money to send their unused shoeboxes instead. Why shoeboxes, you may ask? "We're running out of coffins," reads the text appearing over a child who is either sleeping or dead on the ground.
  • Around when the Patriot Act got passed, the Ad Council hired NYC firm De Vito/Verdi to produce three quietly horrifying ad-spots with the common theme "What if America wasn't America?" They featured speculative portrayals of what life might be like without some of the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights...
  • This terrifying 1986 Sport Aid PIF has extremely terrifying visuals and audio as the announcer explains that Africa, in the last 12 months, has paid four times as much in debt repayments than they get in aid, while many African women drop corpses into a giant piggy bank. If that doesn't scar you for life, the freeze frame of a woman screaming at the end combined with a horrifying synthesized scream will.
    • "Sallymatu", by the same people, is just as disturbing even without the awful visuals of the above. It starts out innocently enough, with us entering an African hut to find a baby lying on some blankets. The Narrator introduces the child as Sallymatu, a perfectly healthy baby who will get her vaccines to prevent certain illnesses. The Narrator goes on to explain that there's one illness they can't inoculate her against, however - "Famine". Which is said in the most disturbed, hushed, frightening whisper you can imagine as two vultures suddenly swoop down from the sky and enter the hut, closing in on the suddenly very upset looking-baby. It sounds overwrought on paper, but it's not. Doubly disturbing if you've seen the famous image of the starving child being stalked by a vulture who is waiting for the kid to die.
  • This PIF features Emma Thompson as two separate women: the innocent, hopeful Elena and the hardened, broken Maria. As we soon learn, the two women are one and the same: Elena was a young aspiring nurse who was kidnapped, renamed Maria and sold into the brutal world of sexual slavery. Both women explain, from both their viewpoints, what life was like before and after her enslavement. The PIF ends with this chilling line:
    "I was Elena. I am Maria."
  • Amnesty International is fond of making such adverts to help raise concern about international concerns.
    • An ad from 1986 is just a straight one minute build up to someone about to be tortured through electrocution. The prisoner's blood curdling screams near the end are bound to keep you up for the rest of the night.
    • A while back they ran a campaign called "Unsubscribe to Torture" which had a series of videos showing prisoners from the Middle East being tortured in various ways. One memorable ad involved artistic slow motion clips of water pouring at a black background. The water is later played in regular speed as it reveals the pouring water was being used to waterboard a prisoner, which then cuts to actual footage of people being waterboarded.
    • This ad criticizes the Russian government's human rights violations and their cover-ups of such things from the public by comparing it to someone assembling Russian dolls. All of this is juxtaposed with distorted sound effects and creepy lighting to create a truly disturbing advert.
    • This ad shows a variety of unpleasant things such as polluted waters, a journalist's dead body, someone being brutally tortured, child soldiers, and someone being beheaded. All of which is covered with what appears to be dollar bills. The ad then tells you that Amnesty International refuses donations from governments and international corporations, as such money can be used to cover up all the things shown in the video.
  • This Iraqi anti-terrorism PSA involves a man being kidnapped and tortured by terrorists, in graphic detail to the viewer, as they ask him what confession he belongs to—"Sunni or Shia?!?"—until he responds, "Iraqi", followed by a shot to the head and an on-screen text in Arabic that reads, "Terror has no religion." The terrorists' sheer fanaticism alone is patently horrifying.
  • This Portuguese PSA urging people to boycott Indonesia by not going on tourism there, while asking people who watched the ad to warn foreign tourists in Portugal to not do the same, this at the time they were occupying EastTimor. It compares the latter territory to a half of an orange which is to be (very violently) juiced (with one's bare hands in a manual juice maker), in the end becoming highly spent. This, at the same time that the narrator tells us about the atrocities the Indonesian government was commiting in Timor. In the end, we see the juice ready to be drunk, next to the spent orange, with the narrator sarcastically requesting the audience to at least make a toast to the dead and maimed if they still plan going to Indonesia. The ad has a dreary, ominous music from end to end.
  • This Northern Irish PIF produced at the height of The Troubles depicts a young man being forced to reconsider his previous apathetic outlook on life after he realizes that it has only served to prolong the conflict and ruin people's lives. What pushes it into Nightmare Fuel territory is a brief but rather graphic shot of a Vigilante Execution carried out by some IRA members. Seeing someone getting shot isn't exactly something you see very often in a PIF, even one of this nature.
  • There is a PSA that has audio clips of people telling very sick jokes about landmines over images of people, mostly children, who have been injured by real landmines. The ad ends with a plea to donate in order to help the group that made the ad afford to keep clearing undiscovered landmines.
  • This PSA discusses the plight of starving children in third world countries, and juxtaposes footage of dead and dying children with real footage from The Holocaust of German Death Camps, bodies being dumped into pits, being buried in mass graves by bulldozers, and even more horrific images. The message is that starvation kills as many children abroad as the Death Camps killed Jewish POWs. It's absolutely grotesque and harrowing, and the juxtaposition is so sick it prompted the uploader to title the video, "What The Hell is Wrong With You?!"
  • This PSA for the German Branch of the Red Cross features Santa being shot down

Environmental Concerns

    Environment 
If you're looking for a more... intense Green Aesop, look no further. After all, we only have one Earth, and its ecosystem is a lot more fragile than we thought it was...
  • Greenpeace is responsible for several nightmarish and shocking entries.
    • "Half-Life: Living With Nuclear Waste" was a 2002 website created by Greenpeace about the Russian Kyshtym disaster, one of the worst nuclear accidents in history. You first get treated to an Adobe Flash intro featuring ominous thunder and an unnerving Heartbeat Soundtrack, all while monochromatic images are shown with translated spoken testimonies from disaster victims. More said testimonies — which are pretty unsettling in their own right — can be viewed within the website itself, but for some reason Greenpeace decided to adorn the website banner with the disturbingly-lit image of a deformed baby in a jar. Chances are, it gave more people nightmares than incentive to learn about the disaster. Fortunately (or unfortunately, take your pick) Wayback Machine has preserved those nightmares long after the site's closure in 2012.
    • Also by Greenpeace: Here's their response to Dove's famous "Onslaught" campaign for girls' self-esteem. Just for comparison, here's the original Dove campaign, the imagery in which is scary in and of itself... and is even scarier when you know that the Dove soap company is owned by Unilever, which also owns Axe Body Spray. note  Hypocrisy at its worst, ladies and gentlemen. Especially nasty are the very disturbing and utterly gratuitous images of actual dead orangutans, often obviously decomposing or mouths fixed in unsettling grins. Which, naturally, ended up being paused on because it's not immediately obvious what the relevance is. Protip: don't do that.
    • Greenpeace ran a 15-rated cinema ad protesting the Nestlé company, known for using palm oil, which contributes to deforestation and the loss of orangutan habitats. In the ad a man unwraps a Kit Kat bar (they're manufactured by Nestlé in the United Kingdom but Hershey's in America note ), which turns out to contain severed orangutan fingers, and he bites into them with blood dripping from his mouth. The Sickening "Crunch!" as he bites through the bone will make you cringe. It's so unsettling that YouTube pulled the official upload of the ad and Greenpeace had to host it on Vimeo instead. It did make it back to YouTube, however.
    • A former member of Greenpeace did a commercial purporting to be home-video footage shot on a handheld camcorder, of a family playing by the seaside. A plane then comes in to land above them and as they scream and panic, the camera shows that the plane is crashing into a nuclear power station next to the beach. There is then an end line asking, "Do we really want more nuclear power stations?" Watch it in all of its horror here. Greenpeace distanced itself from the video and the former member because (1) he is an hysterical sensationalist and (2) the "commercial" is such blatant, ill-informed scaremongering. A passenger jet crashing into a nuclear power station will not cause a meltdown. Given the thickness that the dome on that power station has, a crashing jet would barely crack it—these things are made from concrete, lead, more concrete and more lead. The woefully poor, chroma-keyed CGI plane also lessens the intended impact enormously.
    • Another anti-nuclear Greenpeace ad shown in cinemas set right after Chernobyl, depicting the hypothetical after-effects of a similar disaster in the UK. The music from Vangelis makes the nuclear cemetery look even more creepy. Plus, it was rated 'U' by the BBFC. Geesh.
    • In 1991, Greenpeace made a 3-minute cinema PIF titled Antarctica about Antarctica's freedom from violation...seems like it could be played innocently if done right, right? NOPE! It not only contains graphic images of seals getting clubbed, but it also contains a pile of dead and dying dolphins in which their blood flows into the ocean. All real. Did we mention that it's another PIF rated 'U' by the BBFC as well (see the entry for Sam for the meaning)?
    • Okay, so you're Greenpeace, and you want people to get LEGO to break its contract with Shell. How do you do that? By drowning various Lego minifigs and characters from The Lego Movie in oil. The piano version of Everything Is Awesome only makes it creepier.
    • Greenpeace made this advert against deep sea oil fracking by showcasing several pictures of what seem to be inkblot drawings that look like birds only to show a dead bird covered in oil afterwards with someone picking the bird's carcass up, leaving behind a black imprint. A message then says that up to 20000 birds were killed from the Rena oil spill while it zooms out to show all the prints that were made.
    • This one is understated and yet quietly terrifying, showing the world pretty much drowning with nothing more than the sound of heavy breathing. Nothing Is Scarier indeed.
  • "No pressure!" A failed attempt at Black Comedy, this short advertisement film for reducing carbon is just... unsettling. It has people getting blown up for refusing to reduce carbon, including children. And not in a cartoon-y sort of way either, but in a realistically bloody and graphic manner, complete with visible organ pieces. The campaign got massive critical backlash for its realistic violence, not least from other campaign groups. Pretty strong meat there from Richard Curtis. Yes, the Richard Curtis. Would you have thought that he of all people would be capable of making something as horrifying as this?
  • There used to be a Green Aesop ad that aired on Cartoon Network in the US very early in the morning, usually not long after the channel had changed from [adult swim] into the kids block. It featured a little girl lying in various places around her room while images of various environmental problems flashed across the room, things like destroyed forests, toxic waste, and polluted rivers. All of this happened while creepy children's music played in the background. At the end she sits up and asks you how the world is going to be when she grows up.
  • More mild than most examples here, but the EnergyLife.com commercial 'Wasted Kilowatts' has creepy men in black body suits crawling around your basement, your attic, your fridge...
  • Those web PSAs by the Environmental Protection Agency depicting a whitewash paint, apparently with lead, being poured in cereal, a glass milk bottle, or a baby's juice bottle.
  • Though not contracted nor paid for by the organization itself, some advertising agency wound up sending the World Wildlife Fund into issuing public apologies for this ad idea. It pushes all the wrong buttons by comparing the death toll of the September 11th terrorist attack to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, complete with a terrifying image of several airliners flying right into the New York skyline.
  • There was a disturbing anti-pollution PSA that aired in the USA in the early 1990s. A typical family is sitting around their living room while the kids watch cartoons on television. Without warning, a hazmat team enters and dumps oil everywhere: in the fish tank, on the TV, on the family... and the family just sits there, zombielike, and lets it happen. Then an ominous-sounding narrator asks the viewer if he or she would willingly let something like that happen in their home.
  • Planestupid.com showcased how an average European flight produces the weight of an adult polar bear in greenhouse gases for every passenger by depicting actual polar bears falling form the sky to their deaths, with nary a Gory Discretion Shot in sight. That fact that they're falling into a seemingly abandoned city doesn't help matters.
    • It was so gory that it was only shown before films with at least a 15 rating in UK cinemas.
  • Sometime in the early 21st century, the Ad Council released an ad for a website about global warming. It features a man standing on some train tracks as a train approaches in the distance. He talks about how experts say the long term effects of climate change could become irreversible in the next 30 years. "30 years?", he scoffs. "That won't affect me." He steps off the tracks, revealing a little girl standing behind him as the train closes in...
    • A similarly jarring ad shows two parents taking their children for a drive while mournful music plays. It ends with the parents dumping their crying children in a wasteland of ash and smoke, then driving off. We even get to watch from the backseat of the car as the parents drive away.
  • "Tick". Ominous warnings are even more potent when delivered by 8-year-olds. Or as insanely annoying as a certain Metallica song. Take your pick.
  • This vintage Smokey The Bear commercial from 1973, for a split-second near the end, is the. Most. Frightening. Thing. Ever...for those who'd rather not watch, we slowly move in on Joanna Cassidy's face as she's talking about forest fire prevention with a seductive look on her face...then she peels off her skin disguise to reveal a poorly made Smokey underneath, explaining that he thought this was the best way to get our attention. Well, the ghastly appearance of fake-Joanna's empty face as it slides back is pretty damn unforgettable, and so is Smokey. In fact, good luck doing so when you go to sleep tonight. Some have called this PSA the scariest one ever.
    Smokey Bear: If you knew it was me, would you have listened?
  • And here's a 1984 PSA from the USDA Forest Service, featuring a paper doll chain of a family igniting, illustrating how wildfires can easily spread from forests to nearby communities. The music doesn't help wonders.
  • There's a Keep Britain Tidy (formerly known as Tidy Britain Group) PIF that has a massive Cruel Twist Ending. The camera pans through the streets of London as we witness various people littering—throwing unfinished chip bags on the ground, leaving glass bottles on concrete, etc. We rewind as the sequence plays again with the people dishing out excuses for what they do. The payoff doesn't come at the end, where we see a little girl dragging a stick against some wires connected to the concrete and accidentally tipping the glass bottle over as she falls and cuts herself!
    Narrator: Everyone has their excuses. What's yours?
  • This Friends of the Earth advert. It's just a slow shot of the Earth appearing and then suddenly disappearing, but either way, you'll never hear "All Things Bright and Beautiful" in the same way again.
    • Friends of the Earth also made this lovely PIF with a toilet overflowing with blood.
      Jonathan Pryce: Mahogany is murder. Don't buy it.
    • Also from Friends of the Earth is this cinematic ad. Fauré's "Requiem" (a haunting orchestral piece with choir accompaniment, originally written as a funeral mass) can be heard as a narrator talks about the indigenous people being forced from their homes by the destruction of the rainforests, illustrated via a newly sharpened ax swinging at human legs (replaced by trees at the last second). The narrator warns that even if you the viewer don't care for the plight of these tribes, you should be concerned because deforestation contributes to climate change, which threatens everyone. At this point the ax swings towards the viewer, which must have been disturbing to see on a movie screen.
  • This PSA from We Care About New York has shots of people littering between scenes of rats crawling in the sewers, set to some creepy music. At the end, the city's skyline is filled with rats. Oh, and did we mention this was made by David Lynch?
    • Another nightmarish ad from Keep Britain Tidy is in the same vein as the one above. It depicts rats crawling around, and explains that the more litter people drop, the more rats breed. It ends with a grotesque shot of rats on a family's bed. Oh, and the ominous music and Scare Chord at the end don't help.
    "How close do we have to get before you stop dropping litter?"
  • Thames Television has two ads about not littering - one concerning how litter can kill wildlife, and one about the nasty things rats eat. Both are equally harrowing.
  • This 1990 PSA from the Environmental Defense Fund and the Ad Council features images of the planet and people and animals doing happy-looking things and is set to Willie Nelson’s rendition of "What a Wonderful World". The commercial ends with a lovely shot of the Earth from space, only for a pair of giant hands to crumble it up like a piece of paper as the music abruptly stops and then throws it on the ground, with the tagline, "If You’re Not Recycling, You’re Throwing It All Away". There are two shorter versions of the ad which only features the shot of the Earth and the giant hands crumbling it up, which makes the ad even scarier.
  • This Brazilian PSA for saving the rainforest features a Tribe member having his hair buzzed off.

    Wildlife 
You thought domestic animals were the only victims of mankind's bastardry? Think again.
  • This anti-fox hunting film (NSFW) from Britain was produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). It is shot from the perspective of a fox being chased. We see what it sees as it makes its way through the countryside, almost getting hit by a car while dashing across a road. We never see the hunters or their dogs, but their distorted sounds can be heard in the background. Eventually the exhausted fox tries to hide, only to be forced into the open by its unseen pursuers, leading to a terrifying cacophony of barks and whimpers as the camera shakes violently, followed by an eerie silence. The clear implication is the fox was torn apart by the hunting dogs viciously. The ad ends with a short rapid-fire montage of very gruesome photos taken from hunts (the last being a lovely shot of a real, shredded fox carcass) before ending with text urging viewers to contact their MP in support of the fox hunting ban.
    • IFAW also made this very sickly humorous ad against seal clubbing that parodied a tourism commercial for Canada. It starts out alright and maybe even a bit cheesy, showing images associated with Canada... until you get to the footage of people clubbing baby seals.
  • The PETA has proven time and time again that it won't pull its punches with its ads, that's for sure.
    • This PSA, called "The Silent Scream". It actually compares preparing fish for cooking to domestic violence, school bullying and mugging in a serious tone, and all are played straight in a gruesome way. If those don't scare you, the silently screaming CGI fish might.
      • On the other hand, such a ridiculous comparison could be a source of Narm. Fish cannot feel pain either which almost completely invalidates this PSA, as well as the fact that the fish would be dead long before it ended up on the chopping board.
    • PETA 2 has a PIF (NSFW) titled Fur is Dead which is just a collage of animals dying with text backgrounds reading things like "foxes are dead", "dogs are dead", "rabbits are dead", etc. Sweet dreams!
    • PETA 2 also did an ad starring Noah Cyrus, the sister of Miley Cyrus, which targets animal dissection. It features Noah on a dissection table with her chest vivisected, exposing her internal organs. Check it out here, if you dare.
    • The entirety of the PIF "If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls, Everyone Would Be Vegetarian" (NSFW), narrated by Paul McCartney. For a staggering 13 minutes, we are treated to extremely graphic and nightmarish footage of the poor, nauseating conditions of slaughterhouses, live-animal transport, fisheries and factory farms that many animals are subject to, all of which makes slaughterhouses look like concentration camps for animals. It most definitely shouldn't be watched before eating or sleeping.
    • On a similar note and much like the "Boiled Bear" PIF below, there's this lovely gem of a PSA also done by PETA. It's literally just a half-minute of a pig screaming in agony and fear without any shown footage, with the message "This is what hell sounds like. This is happening right now. These are recordings from a real slaughterhouse. Go vegan." But then again, it is PETA, so whether or not these really are sounds taken from a real slaughterhouse is up for debate.
      • They did a similar PSA with audio of an elephant in a circus-training facility.
  • A British theatrical PIF called "Smile" produced by the British Union Against Vivisection starts off looking like an ordinary commercial for cosmetics, featuring a woman singing the song "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin. However, that proves not to be the case as it soon starts showing the face of model Angie Hill becoming scarred as she applies makeup (mirroring the injuries experienced by animals used for cosmetics testing). At the end, she lets out a horrifying, electronic scream with her head close up and the screen fading to black. It will scar you for life. Narrated by Dame Judi Dench.
  • There exists an 18-certificate PIF from the UK's Respect for Animals (formerly Lynx) called Catwalk in which a group of supermodels walk down the catwalk in their fancy new dresses, while the audience is cheering and taking photos, when the dresses suddenly seem to explode in animal blood, as the women continue to walk down the catwalk as if nothing is happening while the audience is screaming and covered in blood, complete with some quite creepy music in the background. The PIF ends with the slogan: It takes 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it.
    • Fun fact: according to uploader easportsbig899 on his "Top 10 Controversial PIFs", this PIF originally intended to be used by Greenpeace, but they disowned it due to the graphic content. Think about that: Greenpeace, creators of many disturbing PIFs (see also the "Environment" section), didn't want to use this ad. Also, originally the ending slogan said "It takes 40 dumb bitches to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it," but it was changed to "dumb animals" instead (since it can come across as derogatory towards women).
    • This horrifying PIF, also from Lynx, compares the sale and wearing of fur to flies and maggots swarming around a dead animal's corpse. Pure, unadulterated Squick. And if that doesn't freak you out, the echoing synthesized screams at the end will.
    • Lynx also commissioned the short film Skinned, which was eventually shortened to a normal format (the official version lasts 3 minutes long). A woman is shown heading to a fancy restaurant while garnishing herself in a fur suit, but while on her journey it seems to be a bit tight on here. But when she arrives and is about to eat, it gets really tight on her as the music (a trip-hop beat with an operatic woman singing, which grows more and more dramatic) intensifies, and eventually an entire group of people have to help get it off her. We fade out...and then fade back onto the woman's disgusted face...and then zoom in on the skinless dog wrapped around her.
    • This 1998 PIF directed by Tony Kaye shows a woman buying a fur coat. Except interrupting the shots of her are shots of a man skinning an animal, and we get to see it all in graphic detail. It ends with the tagline "Fur looks great...until you open your eyes."
  • A 1980s PIF by the League Against Cruel Sports starts with a man mounting his horse for a fox hunt, as a child sings the old song "A Hunting We Will Go". As the man rides, the child's voice is drowned out by an ominous choir singing something resembling "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana. The sky turns dark and the hunter's face changes to a crazed expression as text refutes the notion that fox hunting controls the fox population, but rather encourages them to breed for the purpose of being hunted. These foxes, says the ad, are chased to exhaustion and then torn apart by dogs bred specifically to move slower and prolong the chase. As the ad ends, we see the hunter has become a Psychopathic Manchild riding an adult-sized rocking horse in an eerily lit room. The children's song plays again, not sounding nearly as cute.
    • Could be considered Narm if you're used to hearing "O Fortuna" or similar songs used in an overly dramatically humorous context or if you find the man in the commercial to be overacting.
    • In December 2014, League Against Cruel Sports created this horrific cinema PIF. It begins with a woman holding her baby. At first, you're like "Oh, that's cute, but how does this relate to fox hunting?" Then, she looks out her door, and she and the baby have horrified reactions. The woman proceeds to put her crying baby into his crib, locks the house, then runs for her life out in the woods. And at this point, you realize that she is meant to represent the fox. The music proceeds to tense more and more as she tries to hide, only for her to be attacked, crying and panicking. The camera cuts to her mildy-beaten, horrified face, then fades out, thus preventing the viewers from seeing her agonizing death. And then, it proceeds to fade back to the baby in his crib, who is silently crying, now realizing his mother will probably never come back. "What if it was you", indeed.
  • The charity Tusk Force ran a nightmarish PIF for cinemas featuring the sound of a bear being beaten and then boiled alive, accompanied by a recipe instructing viewers on how to do it at home. We're not shown any footage, all we see is the recipe, but the sound of the bear suffering an unimaginably agonizing death will stay with you for a while.
    • The impact is slightly deadened when you search for "boiled bear"... and this PIF is the only result, raising the question of whether it's even a real thing.
  • Another harrowing ad concerning bears shows and discusses what happens to real bears captured and made to dance or perform for entertainment, but on a child's teddy bear. Not only is it sick to see a beloved toy get ripped apart so brutally, have its paws chopped off, and have a hook driven through its nose, the teddy even sheds a Single Tear!
  • One PIF by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), shown in cinemas in the early '90s, urged viewers to boycott Taiwanese goods. It opens with footage of white rhinos on a television screen. As the television rotates, a gunshot is heard and blood begins pouring out of the back of the television. The voice-over then explains, over the sound of rhinos being slaughtered, that Taiwan is the only country that still trades in poached rhino parts. Watch it here, if you have the stomach for it.
    "Tell Taiwan...you don't want the rhino to die."
    • The EIA also did a similar PIF about tigers, in which a tiger is shut in a box which then has swords pushed into it, like some sort of magic trick. Blood seeps out of the holes and the voice-over tells us how tigers in India are under threat from industry and habitat loss. The box is then opened, but the tiger is gone and the inside is painted with its blood. The uploader, PIF connoisseur easportsbig899, summed it up pretty well: "Rated 15, because this is some messed up shit."
    "tell the Indian government today...you don't want the tiger to disappear tomorrow."
    • Then again... Tigers normally don't make Jaguar yowling noises either, making this pretty Narm for big cat fans.
  • Anthony Hopkins narrated a charity film for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, showing exactly what happens during the annual pilot whale hunt in the Faroe Islands, tone all too cheery compared to the eerie animated visuals of whales being harpooned and shrieking in agony. The film is very graphic but got re-rated from a PG to a U certificate in the United Kingdom (equivalent to a G stateside) because it is a cartoon. (Also, the makers wanted to show it in front of the obscure family film Where the Whales Came.) Here's the video.

Other / Unsorted

    Other 
  • This advertisement from Method, a company that makes ethical cleaning products. The PSA starts off like you would a normal Johnson & Johnson commercial with saccharine singing soap suds. However it becomes creepier when the next day when the woman comes to take a shower only to see the soap suds remaining. The PSA ends with the suds presumably gang raping the woman while singing in cheery acapella.
  • The 1984 anti-abortion propaganda video The Silent Scream. Regardless of its authenticity, the footage of the fetus in the abortion is still disturbing. Until 2004 it was a regular part of Religion classes in Croatia. According to the media, lots of students have been heavily traumatized by it.
  • Comedic Australian duo Henry & Aaron are perhaps best known for creating some of the most unsettling ads to hit the internet.
    • They made THIS little horror, a fake ad for not being truant. It starts with some kids sneaking out of school and heading off to the beach, set off to a catchy indie-folk song. Then one of the girls explodes randomly, and it's revealed that they're actually on an explosive testing site, where more kids blow up. The best part is at the end where the last girl to survive is on the ground doing a Skyward Scream upon realizing that all her friends are dead, as the camera zooms out to reveal a huge mushroom cloud, and just as that happens her screaming is immediately cut off.
    • It becomes Narm when you realize that the entire PSA is completely illogical. They could've gone to the beach on the weekend and they would still enter the site. Despite the fact that it was a parody, it has a major logic flaw which reduces the scariness factor.
      • Which ceases to be a logical flaw and becomes Fridge Horror if one realises that the real message is that these feckless kids have played truant so much that they don't know how to read things like Danger signs...
  • This PIF from Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for paying road taxes has a mechanical laughing clown at the end of a pier, representing the kind of person who refuses to pay their taxes and laughs at those who do. It's unnerving, and the fact that the pier is deserted and that it appears to take place at night does not help.
  • This horrifying cinema ad from the Philippines, which compares illegal film camcording to stealing gas for money, hijacking a motorcycle, etc. The ad ends with a message that illegal film camcording and stealing are the same, and that film piracy is a crime. The dark backgrounds at the end are what makes it scary, along with the music.
    • The previous ad from 2012, made by ABS-CBN's Star Cinema, is even worse, because the text font at the end looks unsettling. The text is too thin as well.
      • The message says that: Breaking the Anti-Camcording Law will be fined 50,000 - 750,000 Php or 6 months-6 years imprisonment, and anyone who reports camcorders to security will be given a reward of 5,000 Php. And it's that it's not happy when watching films in prison.
      "Hindi masayang manood ng sine sa kulungan."
  • This 2003 ad from the Carbon Trust, in which energy wastage is depicted as blood seeping out of office appliances.
  • An outdoor ad campaign called "The Longest Night" from Open Family Australia targeting child homelessness. Its trio of ads are quite unnerving in their portrayal of how The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
  • "The World of Autism", a PSA produced by Autism Speaks, in which a stop motion-animated boy note  journeys through a bizarre world inhabited by strange creatures, which represents the signs of autism (poor response to change, sensitivity to lights and sounds, inability to make eye contact, and arm-flapping movements).
    • One particular segment from the ad — in which the boy ventures into a dark forest or garden and is surrounded by creepy glowing-eyed creatures — was adapted into billboard format. Accompanying the unsettling image is the text "Sensory Sensitivity is a Sign of Autism" in a white Jokerman-esque font.
  • An advert from Guide Dogs for the Blind, in which a careless man's ringing phone causes a blind man and his guide dog to walk straight into the path of an oncoming car.
  • An Ad Council PSA from the early 2000s has some creepy calliope soundtrack playing as we see a letter spinning around slowly in an acid-colored vortex as a voice-over tauntingly asks us to identify it, "Am I a "d"? Or a "p"? A "q", perhaps? Or a "b"? (chuckles) I am dyslexia and one out of nine children struggle with me."
  • A 1989 PSA from Keep Boston Moving features the off-screen crying of a woman explaining that her husband has gone into cardiac arrest. While the others, also off-screen, try to assist him, someone says that an ambulance has been called and is on its way…only for us to see it not able to get through due to being stuck in traffic and no one clearing a path for it. Then a man cries out himself, "Where is that damn ambulance?!" with the implication that the husband will likely die.
  • This animated PSA produced by Sheena's Place, a charity that helps those with eating disorders. It starts innocently enough, with Hansel and Gretel discovering the witch's gingerbread house. Hansel gleefully helps himself to the candy, and Gretel begins to stuff herself with cake, only to stop when she hears her parents' voices in her head, saying, "How's my plump little Gretel?", "How do you do it? You eat as much as a boy!" and "Don't eat too much or you'll get fat!" She looks down at her stomach, horrified, and begins to cry. The words "How your child feels about her body is up to you" appear on the screen, and the video ends with the sound of Gretel vomiting off-screen, as Hansel turns around, concerned and confused. The video isn't particularly frightening by itself, but the message is—that you, as a parent, could be influencing your child to develop an eating disorder, without even thinking about it.


It sure is a good thing there is at least one PSA that could probably cheer you up after all this.

Alternative Title(s): PS As And PI Fs

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/NightmareFuel/PublicServiceAnnouncement