You wouldn't think that a show starring a cartoonish family could be scary enough for its own page, right? Wrong.
In order for Nightmare Fuel tabs to survive, a new writing style is going to be used, nicknamed Example Lobotomy. Basic rules: just list facts as they are, don't just say "character X" or "the X scene" (such zero context examples will be zapped), spoiler policy to be determined on a case-by-case basis, italics to be applied to works' names only and not to give emphasis on what tropers say. "X scared me" is already implied by the mere addition of that example by the troper.
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Regular Episodes (and The Movie)
Accidental Nightmare Fuel would qualify with earlier seasons' animation because of how crude and childish it looked as seen in Some Enchanted Evening (both the TV cut and the unaired version on the first season DVD).
Bart Gets Famous: Lisa fantasizes about being incredibly successful and then impaling Bart on a trophy and when Bart tries to snap her back to reality, she doesn't want to because she's so happy.
Bart of Darkness: The bit where the axe-wielding not murderer Ned Flanders slowly walks up to the attic where Lisa is, humming, "Mary Had A Little Lamb".
"Bart Sells His Soul": where Bart sells his soul to Milhouse, in one of the darkest episodes of the series as noted by many. Bart becomes a Creepy Child pretty soon throughout the episode, eventually culminating in him threatening Ralph Wiggum.
"I need a soul, Ralph. Any soul. YOURS!"
Bart the Murderer: The nightmare sequence from "Bart The Murderer", where the "dead" Skinner says, "YOU KILLED ME BART!".
Bart Becomes Famous: Lisa fantasizes about becoming world famous and winning tons of awards. Then she kills Bart (Who cleans her awards) by impaling him on one of her awards.
Bart Vs. Thanksgiving: Bart's nightmarish Imagine Spot where he thinks his family, appearing borderline demonic◊, won't forgive him for what happened with Lisa's centerpiece.
Black Widower: During Selma and Sideshow Bob's wedding, Bart imagines Sideshow Bob as The Grim Reaper saying "I do".
Blunder Years, The: Homer was hypnotized to age twelve. In the flashback when he pokes the stick into the drain to figure out where the water went and the decomposing (maggots and everything) corpse washes out and lands on top of him: it was Waylon Smithers Sr.
Boy Scoutz 'n the Hood: The end where Ernest Borgnine and the other Junior Campers get attacked by an unknown someone or something hiding in the woods (though judging by the fact that they were at an "abandoned summer camp" coupled with some tell tale sound effects, a reasonable guess to the assailant's identity can be made).
Brother From The Same Planet: During a Nightmare Sequence earlier in the episode, Homer realizes he forgot Bart and dreams that he drove up to where Bart was supposed to be waiting and all there is left is a (spiky-headed) skeleton.
Following that, when Homer actually does pick up Bart, Bart is left speechless in anger as Homer attempts to pass off a very shoddy apology about how "they were both wrong". Bart slowly turns to Homer and imagines his eyes and the flesh on his face melting off like wax, until Homer asks "NOW HOW 'BOUT A HUG" in a horrifying voice. While some consider this a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, in context this scene conveys just how angry Bart feels from his own point of view. He loathes Homer so much at that point he sees him as this disgusting, horrific monster.
Cape Feare: Bob's prison tattoo of Bart's severed, bloody head on a skateboard saying, "Ouch, man!"
Homer twice scaring Bart (who's already fearing for his life because of Sideshow Bob) before bed. Particularly, the siloutte of Homer's head◊ as he's holding the knife, with glowing yellow eyes.
Children of a Lesser Clod: Ralph getting trapped in Homer's scabbing knee injury.
Homer: It knows you're afraid.
Eight Misbehavin: after meeting the mascot of Shøp, the following exchange occurs.
Alan Wrench:"You put it together yourself! All you need is me, Alan Wrench!"
Homer:"He's named after what he is."
Bart:"Hey, cool costume!"
Alan Wrench: [Robotic voice] "It's not a costume. They found me in a meteor!"
Marge: Where do you keep your sparkplugs?
Alan Wrench: [Normal voice] "Sparkplugs? Third aisle." [Robotic, to Bart] "Help! I need tungsten to live! Tungsten!"
Future-Drama: Professor Frink's skeleton is shown hanging in his lab in the future, implying that he committed suicide and that no-one either noticed or cared enough to bother to look into his disappearance.
The Great Louse Detective: Near the beginning of the episode, Homer has an Asian masseuse walking on his back, when she suddenly starts SINKING into it like it's quicksand, trying to pull herself free as she cries for help. The scariest part about that whole scene is Homer's completely nonchalant tune as he tells her not to struggle or she'll sink faster. Then it cuts to the next scene and is never talked about again. Has that happened to other people before? What happened to the lady?
Homer vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment: What better way is there to instill the fear of eternal damnation into the viewer than with a vision of your family, blissfully ignorant of their surroundings, suddenly watching their stolen cable TV within the bowels of hell?
Homer's Enemy: Frank Grimes' complete mental breakdown and slow descent into insanity throughout the episode.
Homer Goes to Prep School: The Gainax Ending where a meteor is shown heading for Springfield and it's covered with zombies.
Homer the Moe: The jukebox in Moe's bar gets stuck, leading Homer to imitate Fonzie by smashing it. Of course, he cuts his hand and bleeds out in spectacular fashion (it was pretty much a "Reality Ensues" take on what Fonzie does on Happy Days). Now you know why that scene has been cut on UK's Channel 4.
Kamp Krusty. The dilapidated buildings and canoes are certainly scary enough for the kids (not to mention the idea of three school bullies-cum-local teenaged thugs — one of which is actually a father, though Kearney does love and care for his son more than the other kids — being assigned as counselors), and there's also plenty of Adult Fear at the idea of your kids being sent to such a death trap with an In Name OnlyMoney, Dear Boy connection to a popular children's celebrity.
Bart: Cool, she'll look like a freak.
Last Tap Dance in Springfield: Homer gets laser eye surgery, but forgets (read: doesn't want to spend any further money) to use his prescribed eye drops immediately after. Both eyes are instantly engulfed by thick, foot long crusts. The whole thing is made less disturbing (or more, if you think that Homer is being kidnapped) with the scene of Kearney and his hoodlum friends taking Homer to buy Jack Daniels and smokes, and then completely forgotten about after act one.
Lisa's First Word: The clown bed Homer made for Bart when he was a toddler.
Papa Don't Leech: Homer suffocating Grampa after a car accident. If it was meant to a funny parody of a similar scene from an episode of The Sopranos, it was still disturbing and a sign that the days of the Simpsons writers doing the kind of dark humor that emphasizes the "humor" part are done.
He imagined doing so, he didn't actually do it.
Rosebud: The ending, where we see, in a distant future, men (or rather, several Homer clones) are slaves to apes, Mr. Burns is still alive in some strange robotic life support machine, and Smithers's head is grafted onto a robo-dog's body, followed by the disturbing music that plays whenever there's chaos or a riot on the show.
Selma's Choice: Selma takes Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens after Homer falls ill from food poisoning. The trio are on this "It's A Small World"-esque ride called, "The Little Land of Duff," with robot kids from all over the world singing, "Duff Beer for me/Duff Beer for you/I'll have a Duff/You have one too..." Bart dares his sister to drink the water. Lisa is then forced to drink it by Selma and Lisa begins tripping — first, she sees the Little Land of Duff robots fading away, then Lisa begins rambling, "They're all around me! No way out! NO WAY OUT, I TELL YOU!", and finally, Lisa sees Selma as a Medusa-like creature with multiple eyes and a snarling mouth for a shoulder. Lisa then screams and tries to beat Bart and Selma with an oar.
Tale Of Two Springfields, A: A badger mauls Homer and it appears it tore open his stomach.
Team Homer: Mr. Burns (high on ether), drilling Moleman's head off-screen.
"Oh no, my brains."
There's No Disgrace Like Home: Homer's hellish vision of his dysfunctional family compared to the family of another worker.
A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again: The breakdown of civilization on board the ship after ten days due to Bart's prank to extend the family's vacation forever, with no regard given to the consequences of his actions whatsoever. Made even more grimly ironic as the cruise started out as the funnest thing ever, but descended into a floating hellhole. It's even implied that some passengers have reverted to cannibalism.
Trilogy of Error: The scene where Marge accidentally cuts Homer's thumb (and with blood squirting out) is surprisingly dark for a Simpsons episode that isn't part of the Treehouse of Horror series.
Who Shot Mr Burns Part 2: When Mr Burns can only say Homer's name after waking from his coma, it makes everyone think he shot him, not helped by the time the mob finds him, where he's practically strangling Mr Burns whilst ranting at him to tell everyone that he didn't do it. Further made worse, as Mr Burns chooses that moment to snap out of his daze and ask who the hell he is, causing Homer to completely snap, grab a nearby gun and hold it to Mr Burns's head, visibly shaking with rage.
Examples of Treehouse Of Horror living up to its name
Treehouse of Horror:
The Bad Dream House segment's possessed house, with blood running down the kitchen walls.
The episode's rendition of The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe. The poem is narrated by James Earl Jones, with the scariest part being when Homer's character opens the chamber door to see who is knocking, and all he finds is "darkness there, and nothing more", accompanied by a shot of an impossibly long hall just stretching away into darkness.
Treehouse of Horror II: when Homer is turned into a robot right after Mr. Burns slices open Homer's head with a pizza cutter: "Dammit Smithers, this isn't rocket science! It's brain surgery!". And then Burns puts Homer's brain on his head, while quipping: "Look, Smithers, I'm Davy Crockett!". The ending of the short has Homer waking up with Burns's head on his shoulder was worse, complete with a joke teaser for "next week's episode".
The ending to "The Bart Zone" got me: near the end of Bart's nightmare, Bart and Homer share a heartwarming father/son moment, but when Homer kisses Bart on the cheek, it cuts right back to reality where Bart screams in an extreme close-up. Then the camera moves inside his mouth to create a black screen for the commercial break.
Treehouse of Horror III: the Zombie Apocalypse Halloween segment "Dial 'Z' for Zombies" was scary by itself, but the ending makes it worse even though the family has destroyed the zombie plague. When they sit nicely in the chair and they watch TV. Marge said that they have to be happy that they didn't change into mindless zombies, but Bart interrupts them for watching TV: a guy falls on screen, and a laugh track plays only for Homer to moan, "Man. Fall down. Funny".
The view down at the meat grinder had blood splatter fanning out from the "collection vat", immediately following an absolutely demented look on the Skinner's, the teachers', and Lunchlady Doris' faces when they began advancing on them.
Right after becoming sane again, Homer's final line of the "Shinning" segment (parodying The Shining) serves as a nice bit of Fridge Horror: as soon as he notice he can't change the channel, he mutters, "Urge to kill... rising...".
Treehouse of Horror VI: The A Nightmare on Elm Street parody, when Willie's tongue snakes out of his mouth and strangles Martin Prince. After Martin dies, we hear a familiar, out-of-place haw-haw from Nelson, and Lunch Lady Doris accidentally takes Martin's corpse into the kindergarten part of the school. Martin doesn't exactly leave a handsome corpse either: his bulging eyes and gagging grimace are permanently affixed onto his face.
In that same segment, Willie's initial death in the flashback was unbelievably horrifying, what with Skinner shutting him up with "Willie, please! Mr. van Houten has the floor!", as Willie, screaming for help, burns to a crisp during a PTA meeting.
At the end dream sequence, when Bart thinks he has finally killed Willie, he's rising out of the quick sand as a giant spider.
Treehouse of Horror VIII: In the short "Fly vs. Fly" (Whole Plot Reference to The Fly), when Bart was messing around with Homer's teleporting machine and Santa's Little Helper and Snowball get in the way, that may have been another good example of crossing the line between parody and horror. On the parody side, Bart inadvertently made the Simpsons version of CatDog. On the horror side, he also made a creature that, for the sake of identification, will be called "ButtButt".
Treehouse of Horror IX: Bart and Lisa are transported into an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon via a supercharged remote, especially when a bunch of piranha eat most of Bart's flesh.
In "Starship Poopers", Maggie was revealed to be an alien and the daughter of Kang and Kodos - even going through stages of alien mutation such as sprouting fangs, developing tentacles, and walking up the wall. The Simpsons go on the Jerry Springer show to try and solve the crisis, but they end up fighting with Kang and Kodos who zap members of the audience with a ray gun. At the end Marge says that going on Jerry Springer didn't solve anything and Homer adds "Let's go home!"; then, suddenly, Maggie says in a deep menacing voice "Very well. I'll drive!" and lets out an Evil Laugh.
The opening sequence for this THOH episode, the ninth, is the first, and so far only, to be a properly "halloween-ized" version of the opening sequence thanks to some purposefully screwed-up timing: Bart falls off of Homer's car and snaps his neck, then Lisa runs into the car on her bike and gets launched head-first through the garage wall, and at the end, Homer runs from Marge and Maggie in the car, as they beep the horns and he gets impaled by the hood ornament.
"Hell Toupee" makes a classic little kids' comeback sound fearsome:
Apu:(upon realizing that Snake's hair possessed Homer) Snake? But you're dead! Homer/Snake: I know you are, but what am I?
Simpsons Bible Stories: The Apocalypse, especially since the Simpsons go to hell, while the Flanderses go to heaven.
Treehouse of Horror X: The last episode of the 1999 Treehouse of Horror which had the Y2K end the world and two rocket ships, the good people go to Mars, the bad to the Sun. Bart and Homer get stuck on the bad one, and at the end of the short Bart and Homer escape the rocket ship to die faster, only to suffer Explosive Decompression offscreen.
There's a scene where Dick Clark melts at the beginning of that very short, revealing a Terminator-like robot suffering the Y2K as a play on how he always looked youthful; this joke is made worse now that he's dead.
Treehouse of Horror XII: "The House Of Whacks", when the Simpsons installed the house with Ultrahouse with Pierce Brosnan's voice, who did all the housework for them until things took a turn for the worse when it fell in love with Marge. Homer ended up in a whirling garbage disposal (splattering the kitchen with blood as a result), complete with Homer's terrified scream. Additionally, one of Ultrahouse's other voices was Dennis Miller, infamous for causing murder suicides.
In the opening sequence, when the Simpsons are going to Mr. Burns house for trick-or-treating, they're so freaked out by the "accidental" Halloween decorations that they run through the gate, which slices them in the style of an egg slicer and their pieces run all over the place. Mr. Burns did it by having Smithers electrocuted on the power line for a cheap laugh. And he calls it his lucky decoration.
Actually, it was an accident. Burns wanted Smithers to put the decoration on the top of his weather vane so people could see it. Smithers leaned out on the ladder too far and fell, sliding down the power line and electrocuting himself and causing the chaos. Burns thought the Simpsons running off scared was because they saw the decoration. You want something scarier than that, though? The decoration coming to life and flying at the camera, complete with bat shriek.
"Frinkenstein" by itself was scary: Frink's dad is made into a Frankenstein's monster expy and goes on a body-part-collecting rampage.
Treehouse of Horror XV: the end of the segment "In The Belly Of The Boss", which has a shrunken Homer regrowing while still in Mr. Burns. Then, the Simpsons' family is shown eating a fancy dinner with Homer's face covered in Burns' flesh (with Homer complaining he needs a hole for eating "and a couple of other holes too.")
Treehouse of Horror XVII: the end of "Married to the Blob". The poor people of Springfield gratefully rush through the door of what appears to be a new homeless shelter, and straight into the jaws of a gigantic, ravenous Homer. This gross-out moment becomes chilling social commentary considering that Mayor Quimby organized the whole thing in order to allow the newly mutated Homer to "benefit society" by cleaning up the streets.
The alien blob trying to escape from Homer as/after he devours/devoured it at the beginning of the segment was unsettling as well, as Homer sniffed it back inside. Later, Homer's initial phase of the blob-induced possession involve him repeatedly smacking Snowball V over the head with a frying pan as the poor thing tries to emerge through his belly.
The end of the segment "The Day the Earth Looked Stupid", a Whole Plot Reference to The War of the Worlds, where all the humans are gone was kind of unsettling. It was also based on the Iraq invasions: "We had to invade! They were building weapons of mass disintegration!". The ending was originally supposed to include a remark by Kang and Kodos, "This is a lot like Iraq will be" when the camera panned over a Desolation Shot of Springfield's ruined remains, but it was cut: not because of Executive Meddling or censorship, but because the writers thought it was too obvious.
Treehouse of Horror XVIII: Ned turns into the devil and teaches the children a lesson using his "heck house" ride. Some citizens of Springfield are seen suffering fates appropriately suitable for the sin they're committing: Groundskeeper Willy being attacked by his own tractor for wrath, Homer bursting inside-out and turning into spaghetti for gluttony, Moe taking a stripper's money and then getting kicked in the crotch for lust, greed, and envy (the "envy" part is Moe envying the crotchless who don't have the "fortune" of feeling pain from getting kicking in the groin), and Homer again("I thought I got killed by that magic spaghetti...") getting ground through his hammock into huge square chunks of meat for sloth.
The Halloween episode with the play on ET. Homer smothering the alien with a pillow and murmuring "Shhshhshh" while doing so, like he's putting a child to bed.
Also, the title card and the opening credits, where they are made out of characters from various Fox shows, with House and American Idol among others (originally Family Guy's Peter Griffin was supposed to be in there, but the scene was redone to exclude that).
Treehouse of Horror XIX: Krusty being fed through a woodchipper in "How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising". His constant agonized screaming, ending with a pile of an organs in the end.
Homer strangling Prince with his own guitar (shaped like the symbol he named himself in the 1990s), then stabbing him, and breaking it over his head. The other two deaths (George Clooney getting sucked into quicksand and Neil Armstrong getting hit with a golf club after a needlessly complicated Rube Goldberg-like chain of events) were funny because of how cartoony they were in nature; this...was just sick.
Homer's head exploding after Krusty shoots it.
Treehouse of Horror XX: In "Don't Have a Cow, Mankind" (a "28 Days Later"-meets-"Children of Men" parody), Krusty's burgers had mad-cow disease inserted into them and turned the rest of Springfield into ravenous zombies, after eating the commercialized product. Made even creepier by the complete lack of background music.
In the same episode, the "There's No Business Like Moe Business" segment, Moe serves Marge Homer's blood after being impaled on his beer-culturing machine. However, this segment stands out as it tries to give a canonical explanation for the non-canonical body count of the Halloween episode, namely the segment's nature as a theatrical play.
This also happens at the end of Treehouse of Horror XXII.
At the beginning of Treehouse of Horror XXI, Poofessor Frink points a DVR remote at himself and presses fast forward, causing him to age rapidly and turn to dust.
The end of "Master and Cadaver," revealing that the story of Homer and Marge saving a drowned man who may be a murderer was all in Maggie's imagination as she's taking a bath. Homer and Marge think Maggie is dreaming up something cute and cuddly, but her transformation into Alex from A Clockwork Orange says otherwise.
At the beginning of Treehouse of Horror XXII, Homer gets his right arm stuck under a boulder, and then he can't reach his candy. The only way to get himself off the boulder is to chew off his arm. He also ends up chewing off his right leg and left arm. It doesn't help that the episode aired the day before Halloween (in one of the rare times since the show's Golden Age that a Halloween episode didn't have to wait until after baseball season [around November] to air).
In "The Greatest Story Ever Holed" from "Treehouse of Horror XXXIII", Sideshow Mel getting his skeleton sucked out of his skin by the black hole.
In the Paranormal Activity parody "UNnormal Activity", Homer consoling Lisa by stating that sometimes a horrible being from Hell haunts a family at night and then kills them.
The opening sequence to XXIV, given that it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Probably the scariest part of Homer becoming a Reaper.
The Halloween couch gags are pretty nightmarish as well. How bad can they be? Let's see...
The family burst out of the floor as zombies and sit on the couch. (THOH IV)
The family run in as ghouls with severely mismatched body parts. They make it worse swapping them around. (THOH V)
The family drop down from the ceiling one by one in nooses, Maggie included. She still sucks her pacifier, though. (THOH VI)
The Grim Reaper sits on the couch. As the family rush in, they fall over dead, one atop another. The reaper uses Homer, who dies last, as a footrest. (THOH VII)
The family sit down as usual. Metal helmets fall on their heads, and they are shackled in before they're given the chair (in this case, couch). (THOH VIII)
After the Halloween opening where nearly all of the family is dead, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are shown sitting on the couch waiting for the family to show up. Freddy wonders where they are, but Jason takes it in stride and switches on the tube. (THOH IX)
The "Game Over" screen to Bart vs. the Space Mutants. Bart is thrown in jail with an expression of horror on his face.
The Itchy & Scratchy level in Bart's Nightmare has the cat and mouse duo chasing Bart with hammers, flamethrowers, bazookas and giant butcher knives. On top of that, household items come to life and also try to kill Bart including giant out of control vacuums, exploding telephones and an oven that shoots fire.