Nightmare Fuel / Western Animation TV

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The Japanese don't hold a complete monopoly on mind-warping animated horror...

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Make sure the example you're adding is not already in one of the series listed above. If it is, please add it to that specific page.

Examples below are in alphabetical order. Please provide context or an explanation for your example, and do not simply add a link to a video of a scene you found scary.

  • The Animals of Farthing Wood: Several of the main animal characters were killed off during the journey: shot by hunters, cooked as meal, run over by a car,... Highly traumatic since it seemed to be a general TV series about cute talking animal characters from the start, but actually the makers strived for realistic death scenes.
  • Animaniacs
  • As Told by Ginger: The "And She Was Gone" poem. Many fans of the show felt it to be rather depressing and scary. In addition to being awesome.
  • "Attack Of The Giant Vulture" a Nickelodeon short features a cartoony yet creepy vulture who chases three girls around New York with the intention to eat them. The Psycho Strings which play when he attacks the girl in the beginning are creepy too. There's also the ending where the girls defeat and eat the bird.
  • HBO's Babar, based off of the famous book series, aired from 1989-1994 and while most of the series offers "slice of life" morality lessons, complete with anthropomorphism, the first few episodes of the first season are quite depressing for a 7 year old or even an adult (despite the fact that, as Babar tells these stories in flashback, you know he survives and all will be well).
    • The pilot episode, "Babar's First Step", in which a viewer is introduced to the merry elephant tribe before Babar grew up and "civilized" them, in which Babar's blissfull times of playing in ponds with other baby elephants and his mother are ended by a hunter with a rifle. He gets no name...he is "the Hunter". The elephants don't know what the sound of his rifle blasting means, and the elders assume it is a "monster". Babar's mother is eventually shot while the herd are fleeing the Hunter, complete with Babar being thrown from her back and screaming and crying for her in the mud after she is shot.
      • Then getting to watch her make a last, desperate attempt to cover their escape by charging the Hunter; she gets finally shot and falls over on screen, close range.This is complete with sad music, an elephant funeral, AND geting to watch baby Babar wail and try to snuggle with his (dead) mother. Much of it is depicted here [1], from about 1:40 in to 4:20. It is so bad that it even causes Babar to have nightmares in the first half of episode 2, "City Ways", about his mother's death, complete with a spooky storm outside. Thankfully, the Hunter dies a deserving death in episode five.
      • Made in 1989, elephant cognition (funerals included) had already received considerable publicity. You could not tell your children that this was "just a cartoon".
    • Also,the aforementioned [[Wham fate]] of the Hunter himself is pretty freaky as it is distressingly Unsettling. In the episode, the Hunter sets a fire in the jungle to help him and his men fight {{Babar]] and the other animals, but the fire gets out of control and starts sweeping back over the camp. His men freak out and drive off in a jeep, being so panicked that they actually drive straight through the closed gate in their justified haste to get away. The Hunter, however, refuses to leave, screaming at them to come back, then doing a Skyward Scream about how he will not run and how he vows to destroy the animals... which then trails off into a Scream Desolation Shot of incoherent,Enraged wailing as flames simply sweep over the screen. In a later episode, there's a flashback to this scene as Babar talks to his children about the past, and he mentions almost casually that was the last that was ever seen of the Hunter.
    • The episode "The City of Elephants". Halfway through the episode [2], starting around 2:11, Babar has this twisted nightmare where he gets confronted by "The Beast of Misfortune', a giant red elephant that laughs/growls etc. in a very deep voice, and "The Beast of Haste", a small white ghost elephant thing capable of contorting itself into various shapes.
      • Here is an explanation on what's really so twisted; a door forms on the end of the Beast of Misfortune's trunk, that same beast's head going through a floating window, the Beast of Haste contorting itself into a spiral around Babar as he falls into the other beast's mouth, the Beast of Haste being split into an army of six mini-Beasts, and The Beast of Misfortune,slowly melting away as Babar chases them away. It just looks sowrong.
  • In two episodes of the 2006 Biker Mice from Mars series Stoker changes into an aggressive, insane rat-like creature called Stoker Rat by the light of the sun due to the effects of radiation.
  • The episode of Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot where a "fusing" ray strikes Rusty's gradeschool teacher against the wall, fusing her into it so she looks like a distorted—and completely inanimate—life-size wall plaque, arms splayed to the side in terror.
  • Captain Scarlet was a super-marionette show dating back to the 60's. The premise of the show was that earth was at war with an alien race that can take any form, much like the scrulls. First, the alien would kill an unassuming human, then copy his form, then go on missions of sabotage. While it is true this show was made up puppets, this was actually a very adult show. But it was miss-packaged in the united states as a children show, and was shown along side shows like 'rocky and bullwinkle'. So, little kids (like me) who was still too young to get a good grasp of the concept of death would see this program. And in 'Captain Scarlet', people are actually murdered - crushed in car lifts, cars with brake lines cut going over cliffs, strangling and so on. Then a light would play over the dead body and a person identical to the victim would be standing there, and go off to do evil things. If that was not bad enough, the true nightmare fuel was during the end credits, where this Captain Scarlet was shown in artwork, in the middle of death traps - chained sinking in the ocean, facing a shark, about to get blown up by a bomb. All this was pretty heady stuff. I don't know how this compares to modern animation, but is was scary stuff at the time.
  • CatDog: The dentist episode. As well as the movie the Great Parent Mystery where Catdog encounters an alien invasion, gets eaten and almost digested by a sea monster, among other horrors.
  • If you were an 80's kid and grew up in either Latin America, Europe or Turkey, you will probably remember a French-Japanese cartoon called Clementine. But if you don't remember the entire series, you will certainly remember two things about it. One being the catchy opening song and the other, the scary, nightmare indulging villain: a demon called Malmoth. He was a humanoid fire demon with a permanent Nightmare Face who was so obsessed with the titular character, a 10-year old handicapped girl, that he wanted to kill her to keep her soul forever. And whenever his human minions failed their mission, he punished them by turning them into worms, rats and other ugly animals with human heads to boil them alive. He also had the creepiest theme music ever. Here you can find some of his best moments, in french though. And this was a kids show, by the way.
  • Doug: Some of Doug's fantasies could qualify as this. Such as in "Doug's Lucky Hat," where Roger steals his hat, and he imagines he's a homeless sock peddler while Roger's an enormously successful financial tycoon. The fantasy ends with Roger's limo splashing dirty rainwater at Doug (who has a pathetically desperate facial expression). No doubt, that fantasy gave more than a few kids nightmares for years!
    • "Mr. Dink, I broke your grill."
      • "YOU BROKE MY GRILL?!!!???!!"
    • Also, Judy And Her Dancing Cats.
  • Drawn Together. Sometimes it crosses the line a time too many, and becomes High Octane Squick. A few examples:
    • Wooldoor accidentally shooting a truck driver, then trying (and failing) to tell the news to the driver's family...while wearing his skin.
    • The meat made out of Clara's forest friends flopping along to her song.
    • A crazed mall cop taking hostage and killing a random woman. For that matter, there are a lot of scenes where random bystanders are horrifically mutilated and/or killed with no further comment, which are very unsettling in general.
    • The candies made of the body parts of Wooldoor's relatives.
      • Which was a VERY thinly disguised Holocaust reference.
    • What Foxxy hints happened to "Timmy".
  • There was one episode of Extreme Dinosaurs that featured the heroes investigating the appearance of some kind of dinosaur-like creature that was terrorizing miners. A blind miner tells them the legend of the creature, how it was a miner who fell down a shaft, and came into the lair of a giant, Cockatrice-Dragon-Apatosaurus thing, that attacked him to protect its eggs. He escapes, wounded by venom from its mouth/scratch from a claw, and is able to make it out of the mine. Right as he does though, the full moon appears, and he turns into a human version of the same monster.
  • Freaky Stories. Several episodes, including the accidental eating of defecation via gas-siphon, and a visit to the weiner factory.
    • The episode where a couple buys a mansion and finds they have a barrel of wine the previous owner never got rid of. Said couple enjoys the wine profusely, until it runs dry... And they open it up, finding a mummified corpse. As a lot of episodes are based on urban legends, but often slightly softened because it's aimed at a younger audience, it can also be very unnerving to encounter the same story you remember from years ago with a much different, much gorier ending.
    • One episode is a musical version of the urban legend about the escaped madman with the hook hand, and the couple in the car who find his hook attached to their car door after they've driven away from the lover's lane. The fact that it was sung rather than told made it all the creepier, and the tale gives her the creeps to this day as a result.
    • The telling of the urban legend about the recently escaped psycho killer hiding under the bed of a fearless little girl who's home alone is another scary moment. She hears a strange howling sound and lowers her hand by the floor and receives a reassuring licking from her dog. After a few times she checks what the noise is and finds it's her dog, locked in the basement. She looks out the window and sees the maniac running away, yelling "Humans can lick too." In most versions of the story the dog is killed and the line is written in it's blood. However, the fact that a maniac would hide under a little girl's bed and do nothing but lick her hand a few times is possibly creepier.
  • There was an episode of G.I. Joe where the Joes had to stop an older woman who was using a machine to steal the faces of pretty girls to restore her lost youth. As if that wasn't creepy enough, after the Joes destroy the machine, the old woman covers her face with her hands and starts wailing "My Face! My Face!" We never find out exactly what happens to her face, and the final shot is a birds eye view of the Joes consoling the model for almost getting her face stolen while the woman is kneeling in the alone, sobbing, and covering her face.
    • There's also the scene in the Faked Rip Van Winkle episode "There's No Place Like Springfield", where Shipwreck's friends and family turn out to be Synthoids trying to pump him for information, and his neighbors start to melt in front of his eyes.
    • "Bazooka Saw a Sea Serpent" was another one. Giant robotic sea monster with flat-yellow glowing eyes that eats ships and turns their mass into more girth, so it keeps getting larger. The appearance was scary enough, but then you see that the humans eaten by the monster get turned into slaves that are worked so hard that they collapse in a dead sleep in the brief moments that ever-vigilant shock-prod tentacles let them have a "coffee break". And then an attempt to stop the thing fails and it turns from a Cobra-controlled monster into an uncontrolled monster, some laser-eyed Godzilla serpent that wants to eat EVERYTHING, just a blind malicious hunger in the shape of a giant robotic snake.
  • The cartoon Halloween Is Grinch Night consists of concentrated, surreal horror and a flimsy plot that sets it up. Especially the "Spooks' Song" sequence. The monsters would be mild to moderately creepy on their own, but coupled with the music, they're suddenly the scariest effing things ever. [3]
  • The vein transplant scene in the I Am Weasel episode "Plant Life". Ewww.
  • You can make any fan (or just viewer) of the 80s cartoon Inhumanoids soil himself with just one word (6:37 into the clip): "DECOMPOSE!"
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Heloise during her more Ax-Crazy moments.
  • [adult swim]'s Korgoth of Barbaria may consist of just the pilot, but that pilot alone contains enough gore and mayhem for ten more programs.
  • The Little Engine That Could is a cute half an hour kids' film based on a short story. With the exception of a short 20 seconds segment towards the end that features a creepy talking cliff that sounds like some sort of demon from the depths of hell. Even if you don't remember the film, you're likely to remember the nightmares that thing gave you.
  • Liquid Television had many disturbing shorts, but one that stands out is The Wonder Hospital is a trippy animated short film about a little girl with a crooked nose wandering into this mysterious hospital and is convinced that they can fix her nose after seeing their before/after ads, and goes through a the hospital to reach her surgery room, seeing all sorts of unsettling sights and characters before she gets operated on by bunch of puppet doctors. The twist ending is that they don't fix her at all, they make her look worse, and the worst part is that you don't get to see what her face actually looks like from the front, only from the behind, and to top it off you can hear her bones clacking and her muscles stretching around inside her messed up face.
  • Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil has a literal nightmare generator, disguised as calming sleep music, where The Devil himself comes to two main characters in their dreams with a fake accent, finds out their fears, and then tries to kill them through the dreams.
  • Martin Mystery had lots of creepy stuff like Martin being possessed by the alien creature Gastromo and being turned into something that reminds one of The Exorcist or the episode where the shadowy creatures capture almost everyone on Earth
  • The Maxx is much scarier in its animated form than as a comic. For example, the bit of Deranged Animation that happens when The Maxx exits through the wrong door in Julie's subconscious.
  • It's probably a good thing that Megas XLR ended early, because it got pretty sadistic in its later episodes. One scene in particular has Coop and Jamie being forced to watch a robot being thrown into a crusher, loudly screaming in agony. Note that this scene goes on for about half a minute, transitioning from the robot being violently crushed to a very disturbed Coop and Jamie.
  • Men in Black: The Series had some pretty creepy stuff, like the hideously mutated recurring nemesis Alpha.
  • There was an episode of ˇMucha Lucha! that ends with The Flea getting ready to burn the polar ice caps. As he is about to set them on fire, a devil appears on his shoulder (in the typical angel and devil fashion) telling him "Do it! Do it!" Then another one appears, saying the same thing, and then The Flea laughs sinisterly as the camera cuts to a black screen with the words "THE END" appearing in flames.
    • One episode began with The Flea eating things he is not supposed to. Buena Girl says something like "You shouldn't eat that! It's bad for your digestive system!" It then cuts to a freaky and disturbing X-ray shot of The Flea as he is eating (his skeleton and organs are all visible). That scene scared the shit out of me when I was young.
    • Also The Gross-Up Close-Up and Nausea Fuel of The Flea's rotten teeth. It scared me when I was 8 or 9 years old.
    • Watch Out for El Malefico, Misterioso Grande, The Masked Toilet and the other villains they might try or may might scare, injured,hurt or even kill you.
  • The late-night Cartoon Network anthology O Canada. Between the creepy noise/sound reverb, freaky visuals, and either no dialogue or the equivalent to "Sim Speak", what made O Canada even worse was that it was shown in the wee hours of the morning. Possibly even the last thing you saw before going to sleep. Yeah...
  • The opening for the old French educational cartoon called Once upon a time... man. You follow the evolution of the human race, then its technological advances, and the end of the sequence shows the Earth exploding after a rocket blasts off, killing a number of potential survivors who were running to it in panic. Bonus points for the music it's set to. See for yourself.
    • And have you seen the last episode of that series? It shifts from history to a documentary on the problems of modern world — pollution, consumerism, the arms racenote  — and where they could lead if left unchecked. The music, the tone, the imagery all make an excellent work of building up the anxiety. In short, it's the Earth-Shattering Kaboom from the opening, expanded to twenty minutes.
  • A video tape called Night-Time Tales. It was a compilation of short stories but the one that stood out was a story about some sort of Nightmare Man who came into people's dreams like Freddy Krueger and terrorized everyone. It was animated in really crazy neon-on-black colours and ended with the Nightmare Man being trapped in his own bad dreams for all eternity. The last shot was the man kneeling over in the fetal position, complete with really creepy music.
  • Pinky and the Brain:
    • Their distorted faces while riding a mini-centrifuge from "Where No Mouse Has Gone Before".
    • Brain's nightmare from the first part of the "Brianwashed" trilogy.
    • Brain Hulking Out in "Brain Meets Brawn".
  • The Pirates of Dark Water. The Big Bad is a sentient black blob that can warp people and destroy everything it touches. And it's trying to engulf the world. (Also, the episode where the old woman tries using the Dark Water in a youth potion and winds up being consumed from the inside is probably one of the most disturbing things in a kid's show.)
  • Quack Pack:
    • Donald's malfunctioning video game from "All Hands on Duck".
    • Donald as the Duck of Doom when he grows large. ("CLEAN! YOUR! ROOM!") An oddly (and perhaps unintentionally) frightening part of an otherwise farcical episode.
    • The Tasty Paste monster.
  • You would never think that Rankin/Bass Productions would be the one to do it, but their version of A Christmas Carol, The Stingiest Man in Town, features easily the freakiest version of the famous Marley-knocker scene from the story. The Nightmare Face it makes as it transforms falls under nothing short of horrifying.
  • Return to the Planet of the Apes: The opening sequence has a scary thunder/lightning scene with an ape soldiers face. But it also includes the upside down crucified figures that briefly appeared in the 1968 film. This opening was actually omitted in some syndicated airing of the cartoon.
  • Chuck Jones's special Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, based off the story from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, focuses on a mongoose that protects his human caregivers from the threat of snakes.
    • The first snake he kills is a Dust Brown Snake named Karet, who introduces himself by materializing out of the ground seemingly out of nowhere and whispering to a human child, "Be careful; I am death." The narration adds that his bite is just as dangerous as the cobras.
    • The cobra Nag, jealous of the humans' dominion over the garden, plots to bite the patriarch of the family in the bathroom by coiling around the base of a pot in the middle of the night and waiting until morning. What follows is a tense sequence of Rikki sneaking around and trying to find the best angle to strike from; when he finds it, his eyes gleam blood-red and he leaps down from above. The scuffle, unlike much of the rest of the cartoon, is treated very realistically with both Rikki and Nag thrashing about the room and knocking things over. No music. No dialogue. Just the sound of battle until the pattern on the back of Nag's hood fills the screen with a sudden burst of multi-colored light and a boom...before falling limply as he dies.
    • Nagaina, Nag's mate, later attempts to enact revenge by sneaking up on the family during breakfast and starts eyeing the boy's leg. While the humans freeze still in an attempt to dissuade the snake from biting, Nagaina hisses, "If you move, I strike, and if you do not move...I strike!" It takes Rikki threatening the life of Nagaina's last remaining egg for her to be distracted enough to pull away.
  • The all-but-forgotten 80s cartoon Sectaurs shows people graphically mutating into mutant lifeforms in the opening sequence. Maybe its a good thing that it only lasted 5 episodes.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: Horde Prime. Shown as not much more than a voice and a giant robotic hand, but that's enough.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast had the episode "Girl Hair" which features Santa Claus transforming into an Eldritch Abomination known as "Bizarro Santa."
  • There was actually an attempt to turn the trippy adult-themed comic Swamp Thing into a kid-friendly show. They did not succeed.
  • "Enter the Fly" from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is without a doubt the darkest episode from the original cartoon (barring the "Red Sky" episodes". Shredder, who's usually apt to take April hostage and place her in all sorts of crazy death traps, instead poisons her and forces the Turtles to seek an antidote, which he then manages to steal and forces them to confront him to get it back. Seeing the Turtles confronted with the fact that April could very well die and seeing her comatose body lie closer to death is disturbing enough. But the real thing that makes this episode horrifying is Baxter Stockman's fate that gets him transformed in the first place. When he winds up in Dimension X Krang attempts to immediately dispose of him by tossing him into the Technodrome's disintegration unit, which then activates and causes his skin to disappear even as he frantically cries to be released. Then a random fly that also winds up in the unit merges with Baxter, and his scream as the thing combines with him permanently is damned unsettling.
    • In "Enter: Mutagen Man", a guy falls apart in a vat of toxic chemicals. It's Played for Laughs and the guy survives, but it's still a creepy scene in an otherwise light-hearted episode.
    • Poor Baxter gets a similar treatment in another TMNT series. Look up "Insane in the Membrane".
  • Toxic Crusaders, all about people hideously mutated by chemical or nuclear accidents. Considering that it's a cartoon about Film/heToxicAvenger, a character from a series of R-rated Troma films. It was softened by the sheer ridiculousness of their acceptance to the mutations. Still, Melvin's transformation into Toxie is rather frightening, especially as he screams to the people nearby for help as his skin seems to melt.
  • ''What A Cartoon Show. Tales of Worm Paranoia''. Considering it was done by some of the staff who worked on 'The Ren & Stimpy Show'', it's not really surprising.
  • The Animated Adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The White Seal: The first scene with the seal hunters — a faceless, hooded mob with red eyes who chase the seals onto the killing grounds by waving giant rattles in unison to the most foreboding music.
  • Wicked which was quite similar to Toxic Crusaders only with animals being mutated and the villain being Appleman.
    • Mutant League. Just the opening itself is freaky since it's one of those openings that shows how it all begin and we see the main character's skin melted off, turning him into a skeleton man. Seriously, was Quentin Tarantino working on this show between movies?
  • Wonder Showzen is really scary. From the initial warning that this show isn't some happy little Sesame Streetwith horror movie trailer music/screaming in the background, to its creepy little opening involving footage of someone chucking knives at a little girl and creepy, jerky animation with pictures of nuclear explosions among other things. And don't even try and ask about the sketches (which is even more disturbing since these are real children between the ages of 5-8 saying and doing some of the stuff that's on this show)...
    • In one scene, they torched an actual beetle and showed its death throes.
    • There was an episode where, for no reason, they showed a time lapse shot of a dead fox decomposing.
  • Xavier: Renegade Angel has its fair share of disturbing moments
    • Suring "Signs from Godrilla" when Xavier comes to a small town where the inhabitants rush over to him, cheering and lifting him up into the air like they're happy to see him...just before suddenly eating him alive.
    • "Sand Madness". While walking through the desert, he comes across a freakish mollusk-thing MADE ENTIRELY OF TV STATIC which raspily calls out "Feeed meee..." Xavier's response? TEAR OFF HIS OWN FACE and give it to the mollusk, whose model promptly adopts the skin of his face. Its return at the end becomes ever worse, whereupon Xavier opts NOT to feed his face to it, only for it to turn towards the viewers and call out "Will yooouu feeed meeee?" As the camera zooms in until the only thing left on your TV is just static. * shudder*
    • In season 2's "Damnesia Vu," Xavier is trapped in a limbo dimension that leads to a various number of parallel worlds - where he keeps dying in grotesque and disturbing ways (i.e. vaporized by a child molesting Transformer, eaten by a monitor lizard, becoming a sun god and committing "sacricide"...)
  • X-Men: Evolution episode 25 (Mindbender) in which Mesmero appears. There was no blood, no ultra violence, no huge fights... just him kidnapping and brainwashing a bunch of innocent kids ( Jean, Kitty, Evan and Kurt), using them to set off his Evil Plan to wake up his master Apocalypse and slipping unnoticed under their caretakers' watch. And he starts this by entering the kids's dreams and turning them into nightmares. Poor, poor Jean Grey. Watch it here, with the Latin-american dub conveying the feeling almost as well as the original...
    • Blind Alley wasn't much better. Scott gets stranded in a deserted town as Mystique's revenge for him derailing her Evil Plan without his visor, completely unable to even open his eyes or he'll blast everything on sight into nothingness...
  • The animated adaption of the post-apocalyptic Days Of Future Past storyline in the X-Men 90s Animated Series, especially the telepathic vision Xavier recieves from Bishop of the nightmarish future.
    Xavier: We have FAILED...
    • The ultimate fate of Graydon Creed in the series, being left at his father's doorstep. Said father? Sabertooth. The line Sabertooth delivers is simply chilling.
    Sabertooth: Come to papa...
  • The Angry Beavers episode "Open Wide for Zombie" is full of Nightmare Fuel. From the creepy Swamp Witch wanting their teeth for a Voodoo spell to the creepy zombie men with skull-like faces to gator man.
  • One Terry Toon cartoon, Little Audrey; Audrey is over-indulging in sweets, and gets warned by her mother to cut down. She then has a sugar-induced nightmare where she is chased by candy-demons. This dream ends where she is tied to a chair, and an endless stream of candy is forced-fed into her mouth. She wakes up, learning her lesson. Now, this cartoon was produced in the 50's, there has been some cultural dissonance since then, and I believe (hope) it no longer airs on TV. But anyone seeing this cartoon now, I think would agree, this was rape by candy.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/NightmareFuel/WesternAnimationTV