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Nightmare Fuel: Welcome to Night Vale
Poor, beautiful Carlos's terrified voice mail messages.
Cecil in Desert Bluffs, describing his hideous, blood-spattered surroundings, stands out as particularly frightening in a series full of rather scary things. Similarly to Carlos's voice mails, it's scarier than most things because he's an outsider to the situation and therefore gets freaked out.
Kevin, the news host at Desert Bluffs, seems at first to be like a much peppier version of Cecil. His voice is warmer, he discusses happier topics, and he even has a kind word to say about Steve Carlsberg. Much like Desert Bluffs itself, he originally appears to be sunny and cheerful. However, after Cecil stumbles into the Desert Bluffs news station and describes the picture of Kevin sitting on the desk… Hearing Kevin return to the mic later on and resume his cheerful banter is just a little bit disconcerting, to say the least.
The proverb for the Night Vale version of that episode was the usual sort of Ice-Cream Koan: "Step one: write down the names of everyone you know. Step two: rearrange the letters. Step three: this will reveal a great secret of time." The Desert Bluffs version?
This post plays Kevin's dialogue in Night Vale and Cecil's dialogue in Desert Bluffs side-by-side, and it really, really highlights the terrifying dissonance between the two and how afraid Cecil is.
And of course, as of Episode 32StrexCorp are in Night Vale now.
Street Cleaning Day, an event so terrifying it even makes the City Council run in fear, and sends the usually unflappable residents of Night Vale into bunkers.
The ending of "A Story About You."
The ceremony for the induction of the Eternal Scouts, complete with hordes of creepy children that drag people off, never to be seen again.
To say nothing of the outcome of the Eternal Scouts induction ceremony, where apparently the two young men who completed all their badges are now completely encased in crystal. Let's keep in mind that these boys weren't volunteers; registration into the Boy Scouts is 'mandatory and random' according to an earlier episode.
At first, listening to the Desert Bluffs version of "The Sandstorm," you wouldn't think that it's much worse than Night Vale. In many ways, it sounds somewhat better, if slightly more Huxleyan than the Orwellian Night Vale. Then the vortex switches Cecil and Kevin, and we find out that everything is covered in,or made out of, viscera. Suddenly, Cecil's hatred of Desert Bluffs makes sense.
The vague, yet menacing, government agency, which is constantly watching you and can disguise themselves as shrubs, trees, doors, windows, and even a passing breeze.
The "adorable meow" of Khoshekh the Cat.
There's something unsettling about learning in "Valentine" that the state government reacts to Night Vale's pleas for help as bizarre practical jokes.
Strex Corp's takeover of the Night Vale Community Radio station. Considering what we learned about Kevin and Desert Bluffs... yikes.
Episode 32 is generally nightmarish. From the coach's tongue to Josie's angel's disappearing to the Strex take over...it's unsettling all-around.
What makes that last bit even more unsettling is the way the music changes: it gradually becomes something like the acoustic background music for Kevin's show in 19B: The Sandstorm as Cecil reads, implying that Strex are wasting no time on getting to work on Night Vale.
Cecil's voice, while talking about how everything is safe and fine. He sounds absolutely horrified, like he's trying to not panic and barely managing it.
Then in episode 34, Cecil seems normal for most of the episode, which he's broadcasting live from the elementary school gym, except for the ad he must have pre-recorded in the now Strexcorp-controlled studio, in which he has a forced cheeriness that sounds disturbingly similar to Kevin.
Makes you kind of wonder why Cecil even broadcasts from the school gym and not from the studio as usual. Perhaps Strexcorp is redecorating the studio?
The muffled noises of... whatever happened to the younger Cecil in "Cassette". As in "Sandstorm", it's all the worse because even Cecil is afraid - and because here we don't even have his description of what's so terrible, only that it's been moving closer and closer for some time.
His mother covers up all the mirrors in their house after he becomes an intern at Night Vale Community Radio. Later, after his mother and older brother (his mother being an Empty Shell, and his brother, who Cecil doesn't even remember, described as hollow-eyed and howling) mysteriously disappear, all the mirrors are uncovered, and he has no idea who did it. Then, as he's looking into one of the mirrors, the something described above arrives, we hear choking noises, the recording is cut off, and present day Cecil, clearly freaked out, destroys it and resolves never to think about it again, remarking that he's thankful all the radio station mirrors are permanently covered. This is just made even more disturbing when you realize that it's a subtle Continuity Nod to something his mother told him when he was younger:
Someone's going to kill you one day, Cecil. And it will involve a mirror.
The Brownstone Spire, in Episode 24 "The Mayor", which can solve all your problems if you're so desperate that you're willing to pay any price. Something about Cecil's nonchalant reading of "I can assure you, it does not cost any money! It costs... other things."... just... CREEP FACTOR TEN! CREEP FACTOR TEN!
Every time Cecil says the words "The Brownstone Spire", they are accompanied by an unsettling electronic echo effect. As the segment goes on, the effect starts triggering at more and more erratic intervals and eventually just activating at random with Cecil completely oblivious. It edges the line between funny and disturbing.
Speaking of "The Mayor", appearances from the titular mayor, Pamela Winchell, tend to run on Nightmare Fuel. While it's often played for laughs, there have been statements that claim that she has lots of disturbing powers, that she has six arms, cries Tears of Blood and tortures people for NO reason. The most disturbing thing about her is the overall fact that this woman is completely and literally insane...and Night Vale voted her into office!
No, they didn't. Remember that the votes are all ignored in favor of an outside proclamation. Let's just say the council is out on whether that makes it better or worse.
As of Episode 37, "The Auction", Cecil's been sold to someone and we don't know who it is. Upon discovering that Lot #37 is 'Cecil Palmer', he drives to the auction house as fast as he can to bid for himself, but in his terror forgets to raise his hand. Only one person bid, and they won, and Cecil has no idea who it is.
In the next episode, we find out absolutely NOTHING about the matter.
You might wish that you still had a corporeal form, only so that you could make your mouth move to express your terror, to make the universal form of a terrified scream, the form of a letter O. But you won’t be able to. You just won’t!
John Peters' (you know, the imposter) oranges, which would randomly disappear anyone who ate them.
In Episode 39, Cecil slips in and out of what can only be called a trance several times as he recites a creepy poem about the titular Woman from Italy. What makes this even more terrifying than usual is he says it in a rasping voice that is extremely jarring compared to his normally smooth tones, and he doesn't even realize he's saying this.
She follows no logic, exists solely for spite.
But you are safe for now, dear listener, so good night, Night Vale, good night!
As of Episode 41, there is something coming, and that something is only known as the unraveling of all things.
In the live episode "CONDOS," the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home tells us that she's learned a new trick: skittering across your ceiling above your bed while you sleep.
And, of course, the condos themselves, which are pitch-black cubes of black material that suck people into them where they hung suspended, then sink into the ground with the victims still in it. The creepy tone of Carlos' voice while he narrates this to Cecil over the phone also counts, as is Cecil's horror when he realizes what's happening to Carlos.
Episode 43, Cecil's "birthday present" from Strexcorp.
The episode's sign-off also reminds us all that Cecil himself can be very, very horrifying.
Not to mention Kevin's return. He does a PSA about the Smiling God...the terrifying...perfect...Smiling God.
Kevin brings nightmare fuel everywhere he goes, but special mention goes to his serene description of Intern Vanessa's fate in "The Debate." We aren't actually told what happened,note Whatever incident he's referring to seems to be something completely unrelated to Intern Vanessa's (possible) death in the "The Sandstorm" at the hands of Intern Dana, because Kevin says it happened a long time ago, and he didn't seem fazed by her death-by-stapler at the time. but we do know it's so horrible that even Kevin was traumatized by it.
Some of us could never sleep again... Some of us never woke up again.
The ending of "Parade Day". The second episode to end with Cecil in danger is suitably terrifying. The first of course being "Station Management."
The entirety of episode 47, "Company Picnic". All of it, before you even start the episode and are just reading the descriptive blurb, because Cecil is gone, Kevin and Lauren are running the show now. Needless to say it just gets worse and worse the more we hear.
Lauren: Snow is falling somewhere. Many things are falling, or will fall, or have fallen, but temporary triumph is still triumph. Welcome to the Greater Desert Bluffs Metropolitan Area.
Let's play a game of 'which is worse'? Kevin and Lauren 'redecorating' Cecil's studio with the innards of the murdered Shauns? Or all of Night Vale being locked up in a work camp and all dissenters tortured into complacency?
Kevin: People are touching the volleyball nets, which they should not do, but they're learning. Or not them, other people watching them are learning.
And then there's the Picnic Overseer's voice, which causes seizures.
Kevin: Their mouths are open. No one has ever seen smiles quite like that. What an interesting way to smile! Their legs are kicking, too, like they’re still trying to dance..
Don't forget about Carlos, who as best we can tell is still trapped inside the Year Inside, Hour Outside House That Does Not Exist, because his team of scientists (and Cecil) have been arrested, leaving no one to let him out.
Old Oak Doors Part B has Kevin describing the Smiling God's takeover of Desert Bluffs. He mentions how eventually, even the most defiant of the citizens gave in, mentioning a resistant radio host in particular. It's definitely frightening, and a little sad, to realize that at first Kevin and Cecil may have been Not So Different after all, and that Cecil could even have become just like Kevin. Since the terrible light is still coming for them, Cecil might not be out of the woods yet.