Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Nightmare Fuel: Sherlock Holmes
open/close all folders
The very first Story, "A Study in Scarlet", presents Mormons as having a sinister Men In Black force of keepers who will find you and kill you no matter where you hide. Ditto the KKK in "Five Orange Pips".
The titular substance in "The Devil's Foot" is literally nightmare fuel. In a less literal sense, Holmes and Watson testing it on themselves.
"The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" is chock full of Nightmare Fuel. First, there's the poor governess, who is brought to a mysterious countryside manor, where she is subject to bizarre demands, discovers that her boss is evil, and finds the child she is to care for takes a perverse delight in torturing animals. Likewise for Rucastle's daughter, who has been imprisoned by her unstable father for some time to keep her from marrying and obtaining her inheritance. This would be creepy enough, but the setting of the story means that the two girls are entirely at the mercy of an unbalanced sociopath, and can draw on no one for aid. (Holmes even comments that the isolated country setting can elevate ordinary crimes to the level of Nightmare Fuel.) Also, depending on your feelings about dogs, the vicious, half-starved mastiff can count, too.
"The Speckled Band," especially if you don't like snakes. And, as in the above story, the Stoker sisters are likewise at the mercy of their cruel and vindictive step-father who's perfectly willing to dispose of them if they threaten his income, and poor Julia falls victim to his malice.
Doyle may have unintentionally screwed the pooch (no pun intended) on ever getting a satisfyingly terrifying visual representation of the Hound, because nothing can possibly top Watson's description of it:
A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame. Never in the delirious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog.
The Grimpen Mire gives the hound a run for its money. One false step onto what you thought was solid ground, and you're up to your waist in a slimy bog that sucks you under like quicksand.
The hydraulic press in "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb." It's the reason the building that contained it burned down.
In "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax," the titular woman turns out to have been kidnapped by a couple of con artists, smothered in chloroform, and locked in a coffin. Holmes and Watson arrive just in time to prevent her from being buried alive, and even then it takes all of Watson's medical expertise to revive her.
"The Greek Interpreter" features a victim who is imprisoned (in a foreign country where he can't speak the language, no less), tortured via starvation, and finally locked in a room to suffocate on charcoal gas.
"The Cardboard Box" is often cited as one of the darkest Holmes stories, and for good reason. Never mind the severedearsin a box. There's no true villain, just a family of unhappy people who brutally and irreparably destroy each other's lives to the point that Holmes wonders aloud whether we live in a Crapsack World, and the murderer'sconfessionishaunting.
The Valley of Fear is aptly named. The Scowrers would be scary enough, but it's the looming background threat of Moriarty that makes the story really ominous. He's brilliant, he's merciless, he has the wealth and power of an enormous criminal empire at his command, and he orchestrates his crimes so carefully and blends in so seamlessly that even Holmes can't prove anything against him. And he wins in the end.
In the first movie, Ambassador Standish's death. Thanks to a hidden sprinkler that sprayed gasoline on him during a rainy night, and the spark from his pulling the trigger of his gun whilst pissed off at Blackwood, Standish gets set on fire, wails helplessly, stumbles through a window ON THE FIFTH FLOOR OF THE BUILDING, and demolishes a parked carriage. See for yourself.
More or less every one of Moriarty's appearances in A Game of Shadows qualifies. If attempting to kill Watson out of spite, murdering Irene once she's outlived her usefulness and then throwing the evidence in Holmes' face, manipulating a man into planting bombs and committing suicide by threatening his family, or attempting to start World War I for the sake of war profiteering doesn't convince you that the man is a monster, the scene where he impales Holmes on a meat hook and dangles him from the ceiling while gleefully singing along with a cheerful little Schubert tune probably will.
What makes it more NF-worthy is Sherlock being yanked skyward out of frame initially.
His vow to dream up "the most creative of endings for the doctor...and his wife." Given what we've seen of Moriarty by that point in the movie, the audience knows he's deadly serious, and if his idea of an interrogation involves meat hook torture, God only knows what the cruelest death he could imagine would be. All for the sake of destroying Holmes. And he includes Mary, who as far as he knows hasn't even done anything against him. Maybe even Make It Look Like an Accident of some kind.Shiver.
Poor Watson during the factory scene in A Game of Shadows. He's pinned down by Moran, forced to listen to his best friend shrieking in agony while Moriarty tortures him, probably envisioning all sorts of horrific possibilities about what is actually taking place, and unable to do a thing about it. Until he realizes that he's hiding behind a BFG, at least. And even then, he seems quite aware of the terrifying possibility that his desperate attempt at a rescue has actually killed Holmes.
Sir Thomas's death, especially when Blackwood appears out of nowhere, casually steals his ring, and puts it on, all while Sir Thomas is drowning right next to him.
Holmes's boxing match with McMurdo. Seriously, it's cringing to watch the hits in slow-motion, because you can see the skin rippling with each connecting blow, especially when his jaw is being broken, to which you can hear an audible crunch.
The Jack the Ripper game, being based (naturally) on the Ripper killings has this in spades.
What's most notable about the game is that, unlike a lot of other games, they don't spare any details of the murders, most of whom saw their victims mutilated in nasty ways.
The adaptation of "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" in the Granada TV series. The original story is pretty scary (see above) and they manage to do it just as well here. The actor who plays Rucastle manages to make him incredibly creepy and unsettling throughout.