Watchmen helped redefine the comic book and lead the medium into a darker era. How? Large amounts of Nightmare Fuel. Alan Moore really is the master of this sort of thing. Spoilers below.
- "I WILL GIVE YOU BODIES BEYOND YOUR WILDEST IMAGININGS"- A perfectly innocent-seeming advert for the Veidt Method takes on Nightmare Fuel properties at towards the end of Watchmen when Ozymandias' plan to unify the world by dropping a gigantic "alien" monstrosity to kill half of New York is revealed.
- The Squid Monster reminds some readers of the standard anatomy textbook diagram of the female genitalia.
- The entirety of Tales of the Black Freighter. Even if you see the ending coming a mile away, it somehow just makes it worse. "In Hell, at least the gulls are contented."
- Rorschach eating beans freaks a few out for some reason. It just seemed so wrong. Maybe it was the sound effects... Ronch ronch ronch.
- Lots of Rorschach's actions are seriously grotesque. But somehow the thing that really gets to many was that little throwaway detail of young Walter's drawing of his dream.
- Rorschach's account of how he came to make his mask, boiled down into five rage-filled words:
Some of them even watched.
- Even more horrifying: it's based on a real incident.
- "None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me."
- It's nightmarish in that Rorschach is well aware of how vicious he is going to have to be to survive in prison. And he just proved it a second earlier by stopping an inmate from knifing him by throwing hot cooking oil into the inmate's face.
- Finding out what it was that made Rorschach who he is.
"...Stood in firelight, sweltering. Bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent. Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night. Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there... This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. Itís us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach.
- Even more haunting is the fact Rorschach's psychiatrist is quite seriously affected by this, to the point it causes a spat with his wife and causes him to lose all hope and become something of a nihilist. Paranoia Fuel for the readers - talking to someone like Rorschach, even for a few days, will cause you, inevitably, to collapse into depression.
- The bit where Adrian opens up the vivarium dome and lets the snow in to cover the dead bodies of his three associates is truly unnerving. It can take more than one read-through of the comic before it even hits you as to what the hell just happened.
- The opening pages of chapter 12, a wrecked, broken New York with the streets full of corpses, blood and 'alien' tentacles.
- The large amount of gore thrown around in the film version, especially Vietnam scene.
- Though the detail is somewhat subtle, if you look closely, you can see that The Comedian's right leg has been twisted to a disproportionate angle after his fatal fall in the film.
- Dan, of all characters going crazy on a criminal when he finds out Mason's been murdered. It's so bad that Rorschach has to calm him down.
- In the film, Rorschach has to drag Daniel out of the bar.
- As for what brought Dreiberg to such violent extremes? The gruesome murder of his idol, mentor and friend Mason by a sociopathic punk named Derf was both extremely violent and sad, as Mason was a retired hero and was ambushed and killed "by his own trophy breaking his skull". If there was anything pleasant out of Ozymandias crime was that douche's bloody corpse.
- Even Derf's gang were disturbed by his action.