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 is a walking, breathing Nightmare Fuel. Observe:
Some of them even watched.
- Rorschach eating beans freaks a few out for some reason. It just seemed so wrong. Maybe it was the sound effects... 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:
- Even more horrifying: it's based on a real incident.
"...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.
- "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.
- 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.
- Just for a few examples; an inmate gets his arms sawed off, Dr. Manhattan explodes people into bloody mush, The Comedian gets brutally beaten and then thrown out a window, elbows and knees get snapped like twigs, Jon Osterman gets graphically disintegrated, a secretary gets shot through the leg, (and gets two fingers blown off in the Director's Cut), boiling hot cooking oil gets thrown in an inmate's face, a Vietnamese soldier gets his leg blown off before being burned alive with a flamethrower, and so much more. All on-screen.
- 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, it was that douche's bloody corpse.
- Even Derf's gang were disturbed by his action.
- Three little kids, all dressed up for Halloween, are trick-or-treating. They come to a place they go to every year. The guy who lives there used to be a superhero, and he's an awesome guy. Friendly and always there to help. And then they see a bunch of thugs leaving the place. The door is open. They walk up the steps, trying to tell Hollis Mason they're here for trick-or-treating, like every other year. And they find the whole place trashed completely. And there, on the floor, is the body of Hollis Mason, with his skull caved in. In full view for them to see. That's how you get scarred for life right there.
- Veidt's ultimate plan weaponizes in-universe Nightmare Fuel, where the mock-up "alien squid's" psychic attack incorporates fictional alien worlds invented by a professional science fiction novelist, which adds to the overwhelming effect on those killed and will be burned into the minds of the survivors.
- A lingering implication or possibility at the end that Veidt's actions to unite the world, horrific though they were, were all for nothing.