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Ascended Fridge Horror

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"I think it's a testament to Pixar that they went there, and they said 'what is the story of the toys?' The authentic story is 'Well, what happens when your owner grows up?' That's a cycle-of-life thing and it's cool that they went there and tackled it."
Joan Cusack, on Toy Story 3, from this interview

So let's say some work has a form of Fridge Horror, at least according to some interpretations of said work. It could be entirely by accident, and just be a product of Fridge Logic. It could be deliberate, but still left to thaw on its own in the audience's imagination through subtle Fridge Brilliance. Whatever the case, obviously said disturbing aspect of the work is not definitive as of yet, as there could in theory be some way around it. So far, it has left explaining it up to the viewers, so you could probably expect that pattern to continue, right?

Well, sometimes you'd be wrong.

This is for when a prior Fridge Horror concept is openly a major part of the series later on. That disturbing aspect of the series has just gone from ambiguous to absolute, and the series has become Darker and Edgier for it.

This trope is frequently used in Deconstructions, where the fridge logic of genre conventions and tropes tend to be explored in unsparing detail.

Compare Ascended Fanon for a (usually) more benign category. Might lead to (or result from) Cerebus Syndrome. May involve an Inferred Holocaust.


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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Clover spends quite a while with Black-and-White Morality, with the main characters as a clan of Magic Knights (one of many), a military and police force of mages fighting villains who want to Take Over the World or kill people because they find it fun. Though it's shown that the only accountability Magic Knights have is to the captain who commands them, much of the series doesn't depict this as problematic as the clan the main characters belong to are firmly on the side of good. The series later addresses what happens if a captain him- or herself is corrupt or incompetent as a leader, as well as Magic Knights who physically and sexually abuse the townsfolk when they don't get their way and their leaders aren't watching. The series reaches full Gray-and-Grey Morality when it receives an Anti-Hero who goes around killing Magic Knights on sight. The people caught in the middle, meanwhile, wind up terrified of both parties.
  • Cells at Work! portrays the anthropomorphized cells of the body as attractive young people, with Red Blood Cells as couriers and White Blood Cells as police officers and soldiers. While the depiction of the body cells as people with their own lives and relationships is a cute notion, it does come up with a horrifying issue: what would autoimmunity look like in such a setting? This was finally revealed in the Darker and Edgier spin-off Cells at Work! CODE BLACK, where the Killer T cells, driven insane by the harsh conditions and the constant stimulation of cytokines, have gone berserk and started murdering innocent body cells, mistaking them for cancer cells in their crazed rampage.
  • One of the main criticisms of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is how nothing comes of Naegi defying direct orders from his superiors in the Future Foundation and saving the surviving Remnants of Despair instead of executing them; he gets a sternly-worded email warning him that he's committing treason, and at the end, Kirigiri and Togami remind him that he'll have to deal with the fallout when he gets back to base. The very first shot of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School shows Naegi being placed under arrest by the Future Foundation, setting off the plot.
    • Given what happened to the Remnants of Despair, another criticism is that there are probably more of people like them out there that aren't being dealt with. Chisa Yukizome, one of the Future Foundation's own branch heads, as well as a homeroom teacher to the cast of the second game, is revealed to be similarly brainwashed to the Remnants in Side:Despair and has been unwittingly wreaking havoc from inside the foundation for years.
    • Among the Hope's Peak Saga villains, fans wondered what kind of killing game would result from a Mastermind that wasn't so honor-bound in their game rules. The result? Tengan, who rigged the Final Killing Game so that it would go on without him and set up his protégé to enact his plan even after the game was over.
  • The Shadow Dragon Arc in Dragon Ball GT explores the Power at a Price aspect of the Dragon Balls that was never originally explored but merely hinted in the series. After all, such powerful wishes and magic must come with a catch. Every time a wish was made with the Balls, negative energy was released along with the positive energy and the Dragon Balls would absorb the negative energy and disperse it harmlessly over many years due to the Balls being difficult to find and gather. Repeatedly using the Dragon Balls builds up negative energy which is dependent in size on the grandiosity of the wish one makes. Goku and his friends have repeatedly found and used the Dragon Balls throughout the series to fix the world and during their adventures that the negative energy accumulated becomes astronomical, corrupts the Dragon Balls, and gives birth to Shadow Dragons which nearly destroy the world entirely. As the Shadow Dragons point out, they wouldn't even exist if the heroes hadn't kept abusing their wishes in the first place.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: In part 3, Dio demonstrates the ability to take control of others by implanting flesh buds in them. Dio died and his body ended completely destroyed at the end, but that begged the question: what happened to the people who still had flesh buds in them after he bit the dust? Well, part 4 gives us the answer in the form of Okuyasu's dad, who transformed into a hideous, unkillable, mucus-green blob of a person over the course of a year.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2016), the existentially horrifying implications of being a god-chosen Eternal Hero in an equally Eternal Recurrence have not gone lost on Link and disturb him enough that he briefly considers sparing Ganondorf to spare future generations the misery of a cosmic Forever War, though Ganondorf denies him the opportunity out of spite and opts to do himself in instead.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Uzumi blows up Orb's military facilities along with his entire cabinet of ministers, effectively leaving his daughter with no confirmed supporters on the political field. Sure enough in the sequel, the Seirans take control of Orb thanks to the vacuum generated while reducing Cagalli to a figurehead with an Arranged Marriage, forcing Orb to join the Earth Alliance which causes much of the conflict between the Archangel and the Minerva.
  • The Monster Rancher video games generally ignored the implications of creating monsters from CDs and freezing them in cold storage to be used later, and mentions of a Great Offscreen War in the past were limited to monster data cards and rarely dwelled upon. The Monster Rancher anime had the ancient people grow complacent about such technology and turn savage when it was stripped away, General Durahan uses frozen monsters to raise an army, and monsters fighting in wars is a huge part of the anime world's backstory.
  • One Piece has the Nefertari Family. As we know, Donquixote Homing and his family were disowned by the World Nobles due to stepping down from their godly status, and Doflamingo partly regained that by blackmailing them years later. The Nefertaris never were the Celestial Dragons, so how screwed they will be if they confront the WG? Answer: So much that The Five Elder Stars have their family on their list for 'extinguishing their light' from the world.
  • The Pokémon Adventures manga acknowledges and occasionally shows that the eponymous creatures are indeed capable of harming or killing others outside of sanctioned matches (humans included).
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The very first episode of the anime deals with how well a ten-year-old would cope on their own while on the kind of journey that trainers face—Ash is almost killed by a flock of Spearow, and has a very hard time training Pikachu at first.
    • The Pokédex that appears in the Pokémon games often has some interesting and nightmare-inducing things to say about Pokémon. Several episodes of the anime use these entries as the basis for some episode plots like an episode about the gang nearly becoming victims to the life force-draining powers of Litwick or an evil group of Malamar that wants to brainwash the whole world.
  • Popotan is about a trio of sisters who travel through time along with their maid. The catch is that when they are given the signal to leave, they have to, otherwise they will be unable to age normally; as such, they are forced to leave any friends they make behind over and over. It's understood quite early that Mai, one of the sisters, is not all that happy about their situation, but it takes episode 9 to show just how it can mess with the lives of both them and their friends: Konami, one such friend of Mai, died hoping she would eventually return to her, putting Mai into a serious depression.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion addresses Homura's devotion to Madoka in the series, which had a lot of Fridge Horror associated with it - namely, that she'd be willing to kill Sayaka so Madoka didn't have to watch Sayaka's mental decline, among other scenes that show Homura having blatant disregard for morality as long as Madoka was happy. Despite this, the series mostly paints Homura as a protagonist by the end... the movie, though, shows that Homura would be willing to become an antagonist - the devil, in fact - all for Madoka's absolute happiness, something that Madoka may not even want.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Avengers #200, Ms. Marvel was kidnapped by a character named Marcus — the apparent son of Avengers foe Immortus — and taken to an alternate dimension, where she was brainwashed, seduced, and impregnated. The character gives birth back on Earth to a child that rapidly ages into another version of Marcus, who takes Ms. Marvel back to the alternate dimension with no opposition from the Avengers. The whole storyline felt in bad taste to a number of people, especially Chris Claremont. He wrote an Avengers-X-Men crossover, where Ms. Marvel would escape to Earth, be un-brainwashed with the help of Professor X, then let the rest of the Avengers have it for so callously dismissing what was tantamount to an extradimensional rape.
  • In Spider-Man: Reign Mary Jane was said to have died of leukemia developed because of her continued exposure to her radioactive husband's sperm.
    • The ascended fridge horror is really ramped up by Peter's own admission that ALL of his bodily fluids and secretions are radioactive. Within the context of the story, he has been spreading steady doses of ionizing radiation not just to Mary Jane but to anyone who came in contact with his sweat or blood; over the entire course of his career as Spider-Man! Considering he fights in a lycra/spandex outfit, that may well be most of the X-Men, the Avengers, and half of the people he has ever saved after a giant standoff with the Sinister Six!
  • After the X-Men story "Fall of the Mutants" first introduced the En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse) in 1986, his introduction retroactively made the team's earliest adventures seem pretty disturbing to some fans, implying that there was a millennia-old Mutant warlord just biding his time and waiting to strike while the X-Men were busy battling Sentinels and clashing with the Brotherhood. Then the 1995 crossover "Age of Apocalypse" took that idea and ran with it. Apparently, not only was Apocalypse always lurking in the background of the Marvel Universe, the only reason he didn't reveal himself when the X-Men were teenagers is because he didn't think he could challenge Xavier and Magneto's combined forces, and was wary of giving them a common enemy to unite against. And in an alternate timeline where Xavier died before he could form the X-Men, Apocalypse easily conquered most of the world.
  • The Back to the Future comic series has an arc that tackles the repercussions of the Marty McFly we know and love settling down in an "improved" timeline that he didn't originally inhabit. Alone in remembering the original timeline, he begins to doubt whether he is the Marty that everybody around him remembers, fearing that he may have displaced the timeline's original Marty and assumed his life. Heavy.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In Wonder Woman (1987) Diana gets Ares to step back and reevaluate—making him an occasional incredibly antagonistic ally for the rest of the series—by showing him that his goal of causing a nuclear WWIII would kill him by destroying the human race thereby killing anyone who might make war, believe in him, or even spread stories about him, the first and last of which he requires to exist. This made some readers wary when years later Ares usurped Hades and became Lord of the Dead since he now only needs the souls of the dead in Hades for power. Sure enough, in the next series Ares tries to use Genocide in a plot specifically designed to kill off everyone on earth.
    • With the Post-Crisis continuity finally clearly defining the powers of the Lasso of Truth there are some rather easy to infer ways of making the thing get people to kill themselves and as a way to mentally torture people that eventually get referenced in Wonder Woman (2006) and then used by Nemesis in Wonder Woman: Odyssey.
  • Hanna-Barbera Beyond:
    • The Jetsons comic released under this comic series reveals that the show's sky cities really are situated above a post-apocalytic Earth.
    • One of the stories in The Flintstones comic decides to give A Day in the Limelight to the animal appliances that appeared throughout the series as Running Gags, revealing their harsh and miserable lifes, being seen and treated as simple objects by the humans despite being living beings, and how they experience the Double Standard of Dino being treated as the house pet.
  • Big Bertha of the Great Lakes Avengers is a mutant with the power to swell her body fat to grant herself Super-Strength and durability; her civilian form is a conventionally-thin model named Ashley Crawford who funds the GLA with profits from her career. In order to change back from Big Bertha, she must undergo "power puking" to literally vomit up the excess fat and return to her original size. While this was first played for a joke, fans pointed out the disturbing implications (especially since Ashley is a model, and that industry is ripe with bulimia and other eating disorders); as such, later issues of the comic had Ashley severely traumatized by the fact that she has to make herself throw up if she wants to swap forms.
  • Mega Man: Fully Charged's vague implications of the Hard Age war between robots and humans, with an uneasy peace in the present day, are delved into fully in the Mega Man: Fully Charged comic book adaptation, with the revelation that Dr. Light used to fight fully on the humans' side and Mega Man was once a war drone who had his memories erased.
  • The Department of Truth acts as a Deconstruction of the Clap Your Hands If You Believe trope; reality is portrayed as subjective and can retroactively change if enough people believe in a singular "fact". With conspiracy theories on the rise, the Department of Truth works to make sure that conspiracy theories don't take root because a lot of the conspiracy theories people believe in — like Reptilians or pedophilic, cannibalistic Satanists controlling the world — would be incredibly dangerous if they existed. The result is a world where modern-day society is its own Cosmic Horror Story, where human belief can literally destroy the world if left unregulated.

    Fan Works 
  • One of the key plot points of Aftermath of the Games making it an Alternate Universe to canon is that Twilight defeated Starlight Glimmer not by befriending her, but by adopting her filly self, retgoning the adult version. The sequel Integration makes clear that this really was the only choice Twilight had, and that she's haunted by it and the possible ramifications of her actions.
  • One day, a troper named Doctor Fluffy, a huge fan of The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum, wondered to himself just what effect the Barrier would have on the world's ability to feed itself, and just what happened to all the War Refugees. Then somebody else added on to the entry on the Fridge Horror page for Spectrum as to how far refugees would go for a decent meal, so Doctor Fluffy went and asked the author if he could write a side story. It happened, and Starvation was born.
    • The The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum in general is this for The Conversion Bureau's fridge horror and logic. How will Equestria care for a sudden influx of billions of newfoals? They can't, and the Barrier destroying all the human-made materials and infrastructure that could have helped them shoulder this explosive growth more easily is not doing them any favors. What's it like living with the whole world being a warzone, with more and more being covered by the Barrier? Not pleasant, to put it in the mildest of terms. Newfoals' personalities are changed by the potion? This works by breaking the human's soul to pieces and then turning them into a Technically-Living Zombie. What happened to the other races in Equestria? Celestia killed the majority of them off. Why is Celestia doing this in the first place? She's been corrupted by the Bag of Tirek to the point where there's very little of the original Celestia left.
  • One piece of fridge horror (which also counts as a Plot Hole) that is often glossed over in the original Conversion Bureau story (and its spin-offs) is the question of what happens to the rest of Equus without Princesses Celestia and Luna around to move the sun and moon. The Negotiations-verse does not mince any words as to just how horrifying the potential consequences would be.
  • Heroes of the Desk leaves it unclear whether its N.G.O. Superpower/Government Agency of Fiction SPEAR did in fact blast a convention center full of innocent people. Heroes of the Desk: Repercussions makes it clear that yes, they did.
  • In Loved and Lost, the citizens of Canterlot suffer serious injuries during the Changeling invasion, including most of the royal guards. The wounded guards are actually murdered on Jewelius' orders, but it's easy to make the public believe their injuries were fatal. When one week has passed since the invasion, a filly tells that her parents are still in the hospital due to injures caused to them by the Changelings.
  • One of the plot points of Suikakasen is the question of "how does Kasen know that the Ibaraki Box of a Hundred Medicines will turn humans into oni?" The first episode shows that Kasen was a former human who would have starved to death if Suika hadn't given the Box to her and turned her into an oni. And that too brings up more horror about how Suika knew that it would turn Kasen into an oni, which also gets answered when Suika admits that she was also an abandoned child who had to drink from the Box and become an oni.
  • In The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments, what happened to Sweetie's home universe in the wake of the explosion in the prologue is left to the readers' imaginations at first. It starts to actually get answered in Chapter 3.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged's take on Kirito is an Adaptational Jerkass with zero interest in working with his fellow players. So to get him to join the Moonlit Black Cats for the requisite story arc, guild leader Keita had to equip a Charisma-boosting hat that more or less gave him a Compelling Voice, allowing him to make Kirito accept a guild invitation before he knew what he was doing. Some viewers wondered just what sort of damage a more nefarious character could do with that Hat of Charisma +50... and then Season Two rolls around, and it turns out Sugou's whole Brainwashing plan is based on that very bit of programming.
  • A Student Out of Time does this with several aspects of Danganronpa, but perhaps the biggest is Kotoko Utsugi. In Ultra Despair Girls, it's made clear her parents basically sold her to producers to use her as a sexual plaything out of an insane belief that this would somehow help Kotoko's career. The story not only goes into depth about what kind of people her parents would have to be to force her into that, but that the whole thing had serious effects on her health, including her contracting HIV.
  • Why The Hell Not Have Some Fun? takes a moment to explore what an amoral sociopath like Coil would do when he has an attractive teenager functionally enslaved to him and the ability to reset anything he does by collapsing the timeline in which he does it. Notably, even Taylor hadn't considered it until Lisa asked.
    Lisa: (After learning what Coil's power is) How many times?
    Taylor: I don't know what you mean hon...
    Lisa: How. Many. Times. Did. He. Rape. Me.

    Films — Animation 
  • Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Tooth Cave shows that the Real Life act of animals killing cubs that are deemed defective can indeed happen in the series, when it's used as a plot point regarding how the blind Daria barely escaped death because of her mother saving her.
  • Cars 2, by calling attention to the darker implications of Mater's prior Butt-Monkey status, turns him into The Woobie.
  • Finding Dory is all about this trope. It shows how much Dory and everyone around her have suffered because of her condition and general naivete.
  • Among fans of Frozen, a popular piece of Fanon has always been that Olaf's existence is tied to Elsa's powers and that he'll melt or disappear when she dies. In Frozen II, sure enough, when Elsa goes too far into Ahtohallen and turns to ice, Olaf disintegrates into snow flurries in the distraught Anna's arms. Fortunately, both he and Elsa come back to life by the end.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent takes Merryweather's 'softening' of her death curse in stride and exploits the sleeping curse to taunt Phillip, since while Aurora's sleep is ageless, he'll age normally and be a withered old man by the time she finally lets him go.
  • The Toy Story series starts out taking the concept of sentient toys relatively light, while it explores some of the darker implications of having an Animate Inanimate Object co-exist with oblivious humans, it leaves one of the biggest ones out, namely the owner growing up and separating from them forever, but as the series goes on, it recognises the Fridge Horror of the concept more and more thoroughly; it openly spells the issue out in the second film and eventually, to a further extent than most people would probably expect from a children's movie series. The whole premise of Toy Story 3 is the toys having to deal with the fact that their owner has grown up and put them aside.
    • Toy Story 4 has an entire character - Forky - meant to explore the loose definition of what a toy can be to a child. He's pieces of trash made to resemble a fork and given eyes. Forky comes across as though merely existing is painful for him, and actually takes a long time accepting his purpose is now to please a child, since unlike the other, factory-made toys, he was never meant to be used like that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A common observation about Man of Steel is that the movie's portrayal of Superman seems to come off as far more of a Destructive Savior than nearly every other incarnation of the character, to the point that he seems to cause almost as much property damage as General Zod and his soldiers, and probably racks up a sizable body count by the end of the movie. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is surprisingly up-front about acknowledging this fact. It turns out that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis during Superman's battle with Zod, and he came to see Superman as a threat because he was so terrified by the destruction that he saw. Among other things, we're introduced to a young girl who lost her mother when a building in Metropolis was leveled by the battle, and we meet Wallace Keefe, a man who lost both of his legs to falling debris and went on to resent Superman for the rest of his life. We also see that, from Bruce's spot on the street, it was nearly impossible to tell Zod and Superman apart while they duked it out in the sky, making it rather ambiguous which one of them was the real alien invader.
  • Christopher Robin is based on the idea of Christopher Robin growing up and its impact on Pooh and his friends, a concept that was only hinted at in previous works.
  • The viral marketing of Cloverfield, as well as Word of God, confirmed that the Clover monster seen in the movie was actually a baby, and the destruction of New York was the equivalent of Clover throwing a tantrum after being rudely awakened by a piece of falling space debris (or, depending on when you ask, crash-landing from space itself). While this does lend some context to the events of the movie, particularly Clover's actions, it does raise a terrifying question: how unimaginably gargantuan must an adult of Clover's species be? Well, if the ending of The Cloverfield Paradox is anything to go by, the answer is "large enough to rise above the cloud layer with apparent ease".
  • A small case in Cinderella (2015), where the film asks the question "What would Cinderella become if she didn't hold onto her positive attitude?" The film's answer is that she would become Lady Tremaine.
  • Godzilla (2014) strongly implied that dropping a modern nuclear warhead on the Big G would be a very bad idea for humanity, because not only did Godzilla survive being hit by a much weaker nuke (stated in the film to be a "firecracker" by comparison) in 1954, but he and other creatures like him literally grow stronger on radiation; to say nothing of the fact that the damage he and his Kaiju enemies are causing to cities for most of the movies is what they do when they think humanity isn't a threat to them. Although the military hatches a plan to drop a hydrogen bomb on Godzilla anyway, the plan falls apart and we don't get to see what would've happened if they'd pulled it off. The direct sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), sees the humans detonating a nuke in front of an injured Godzilla's face to speed up his healing: it not only does just that, but it amplifies his strength massively... at the price of threatening to cause him to explode in a thermonuclear fireball, with only the intervention of Mothra enabling Godzilla to control and direct the explosion by becoming Fire Godzilla. And when Godzilla first rises after the nuke explodes on him, Godzilla gives the humans responsible his full notice for it, causing a tense standoff — fortunately, Godzilla concludes that no, they weren't trying to kill him, and yes, they are his allies now.
  • Remember back in X2: X-Men United, when Charles Xavier caused mutants and then humans horrible, debilitating pain for a few minutes, worldwide? Which probably led to shedloads of accidents and fatalities, and could easily have been lethal if he had wanted? In Logan, the world's most powerful telepath now has a degenerative brain disease that causes dangerous seizures when he is not medicated. One of them killed several X-Men, and the ones we see in the film cause paralysis and incredible pain for hundreds of people at once.
  • In Disney's original animated Sleeping Beauty film, the fairies' incompetence is played for laughs. But one must wonder how on earth Aurora made it to her sixteenth birthday happy and healthy. Maleficent cranks this up by increasing the fairies' incompetence. Not only do they forget to feed the baby (and Aurora refers to them accidentally feeding her spiders once) but at one point they're too busy arguing - and the child nearly runs off a cliff! Had it not been for Maleficent intervening (yes, really), Aurora would have been dead long before her sixteenth birthday.
  • While The Purge is light on details and Worldbuilding, it is hinted that the New Founding Fathers are a corrupt oligarchy, and that they created the Purge as a way to Kill the Poor. The sequels make this implication explicit and establish the New Founding Fathers as the Greater-Scope Villain of the franchise, while also showing various other horrifying scenarios that might come with the Purge, such as white supremacists using the holiday to murder minorities, gangsters planning massive gang wars around it, the takeover of the economy by major corporations because small businesses can't rebuild as easily when they get looted and torched, and depraved foreign tourists coming to America on Purge Night to partake in something that's legal nowhere else.
  • Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City does this with the "Itchy. Tasty." diary from the first Resident Evil game. That diary indicates that, upon infection with the T-virus, zombification is a process where the victim remains conscious and at least somewhat aware of their situation even as they develop a hunger for human flesh. While this is never shown with T-virus victims in the games (the various other bioweapons are a different story), in this film we get to witness a horde of zombies banging on the gates of the Raccoon Police Department headquarters crying out for help.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: Pulls double-duty on Picard. First it confirmed that he didn't shrug off the horrifying trauma of assimilation as easily as the serialized nature of TNG implied, which spent only one episode focused on the aftermath ("Family").note  Then there's the notion that Picard still has Borg implants scattered throughout his body, and that he still retains enough of a connection to the Collective to hear their thoughts in his head.
  • The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue of Ted stated that Donny was arrested on charges of kidnapping a teddy bear and let off because of how stupid that sounded. Ted 2 runs with the implications of this; most of the film's plot focuses on Ted trying to legally prove that he's a person, not a piece of property, while the fact that Donny is a free man comes up as well.

    Literature 
  • Seven Sorcerers by Carol King.
    • Boogeymen are super strong, super fast, can breathe fire and are invisible to adults. However, they usually use all this to scare and kidnap children (for example, invisibility ensures adults don't believe the child). Since there are just "a few dozens" of them and they spend weeks or months on one child, their total impact is pretty negligible, right? Well, in "Shadow Spell", two of them start a killing rampage on adults (who, unable to see them, are mostly defenseless) and kill hundreds of humans per night. Thankfully, Skerridge, another Boogeyman, rebels and kills them both, ending the rampage.
    • Same goes for Vespilio's Body Surf, distillation machine, and the Maug. The body count in Shadow Spell is gigantic, yet almost completely based on things we learned earlier.
  • Sukhinov's Emerald City series, continuing the Land of Oz:
    • This series explores the fact that animals in OZ are sentient. Carnivorous animals (and ogres who are also carnivores) are ostracized and slowly driven to extinction, except for cats. (Mice have to be kept in check after all.) This makes life difficult for several characters who keep carnivores as pets.
    • It's also established that no one dies in Oz. This leads to things like a fully-sentient severed head in a closet who is miserable. The severed head may have been inspired by a scene in The Tin Woodman of Oz, where the Tin Woodman encounters his former flesh-and-blood head.
  • A promotional booklet for the 2015 Goosebumps film adopts the popular if not universal fanon interpretation of a line from the Goosebumps (1995) episode "Night of the Living Dummy II" that the incantation that brings a Demonic Dummy to life (who, keep in mind, proceeds to blackmail and threaten prepubescent-to-teenage girls into being his "slaves") translates to "You and I are one now." Only fans could come up with a translation that creepy.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • For some fans, the introduction of "Force Ghosts" in the Original Trilogy carries a bit of a disturbing undertone, since one can't help but wonder what sort of havoc a Sith Lord like Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine could cause if they ever managed to come back to haunt our heroes after death. The Jedi Academy Trilogy answers that question in truly disturbing fashion: the plot involves fledgling Jedi Kyp Durron encountering the spirit of the Sith Lord Exar Kun on Yavin IV, which ultimately leads to him being seduced to the Dark Side and stealing the Sun Crusher super-weapon. By the end of the story, he's destroyed entire star systems all because of the influence of the undead Sith.
    • Many a Star Wars fan has lost sleep wondering just what sort of barbaric acts of cruelty could make Darth Vader—a man infamous for casually murdering underlings who disappoint him—seem merciful by comparison, after Return of the Jedi gives us the immortal line "The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am". The novel Darksaber gives us a good idea: Emperor Palpatine once punished Bevel Lemelisk, the designer of the original Death Star, by cloning him multiple times—with his memories fully intact each time—just so he could repeatedly murder him in various creative ways. Like melting him in a vat of molten copper, dissolving him in acidic gas, throwing him out of an airlock, and leaving him to be devoured by a swarm of flesh-eating beetles. Eek.
    • Return of the Jedi implies that slaying the Emperor defeated the Empire, but this struck a lot of people as highly improbable, more so in light of actual history since 1991. In the novels, the Galactic Civil War drags on another fourteen years before the two sides sign a peace treaty and effectively switch positions. The Rebels become in charge with a high approval rating and The Empire becomes The Remnant.
  • The backstory of Percy Jackson and the Olympians includes the detail that demigods have been responsible for much of human history, and that many wars throughout western history have been the result of the gods, along with their demigod children, clashing with each other. In particular, the reason (or rather, one of the two reasons) the Big Three gods- Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades- swore off having mortal children was because of the devastation of World War II, where their children were on opposite sides. That seems like an innocuous enough bit of lore...until you realize the implication that at least one of the Big Three gods was on the Nazis' side. While not explicitly discussed, the sequel series makes a more direct allusion to this: while meeting Pluto (the Roman form of Hades) in a flashback, Hazel internally notes that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Adolf Hitler (sans mustache), with the narration even pointedly noting that he looked like he could be Hitler's father. Yikes.
  • Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: It's a recurring thing through the TV shows, thanks to not having set rules for time-travel, that time and history are fluid, something that gets brought up more than once in the first book. Some DTI trainees can't take it, and wash out, but they might be luckier, since the book begins with one agent having a full-blown psychotic break because of it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Arrowverse (The Flash (2014), Supergirl (2015) and Black Lightning in particular) likes giving focus to all the various species of super-beings in The DCU and how the fact that they're mostly represented by a bunch of supervillains who go around terrorizing people and causing mass destruction has resulted in a new kind of racial profiling for those of them that are trying to live normal lives.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow activates the powers of all of the Potential Slayers in the finale, so there are thousands of girls who would have started having horrific nightmares they don't understand (as Slayers periodically have dreams and visions of both future crises and the lives of past Slayers) and new powers that could be abused (the latter of which we've already seen with Faith). As the Watcher's Council has already been destroyed, they have no one to help them. Angel Season 5 shows that there is a Slayer who was traumatized in her youth, and the nightmares made it worse, so she ends up breaking out of a hospital and killing people. In the Buffy Season 8 and 9 comics there are quite a few rogue Slayers who reject Buffy's leadership and use their powers to hurt others (a couple of them plotting to kill Buffy), so Giles recruits Faith to help deal with them, which required desperate measures at times.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The new series has Rose leave to travel with the Doctor, though she doesn't think to tell her mother about this. When she accidentally returns a year later instead of a day, her mother is very angry, having feared that she might have died. Rose's boyfriend, the last one to have seen her before her disappearance, was accused of murdering her and was even questioned by the police a few times. A similar situation had been touched upon in the last regular Classic Who story "Survival", where Ace returns to Perivale and finds she is thought dead, though her being more anti-social then Rose and having a terrible relationship with her mother makes it more plausible she would run away.
    • Numerous episodes end with it being very uncertain as to whether the Doctor has fixed anything after he abruptly leaves, and quite a few have been speculated to have ended up worse for his interference. "Bad Wolf" is an episode dedicated to showing what happens when the Doctor's actions do make things worse.
      • The Classic Series was not unaware of this either. "The Ark" and "The Face of Evil" both deal with this too.
      • "The Woman Who Lived" has Ashildr explicitly calling him out for leaving a mess behind him. She decides that she's going to spend her time as an immortal cleaning up his messes and protecting ordinary people from him. In a moment of Dramatic Irony, her efforts make things worse, since Clara has to take a bullet to save someone. This pushes the Doctor off the deep end and he becomes willing to risk the universe's safety to try and get her back (though this was after enduring billions of years of torture from the head Time Lords so he wasn't fully himself.
    • In season 5, there are cracks in the universe which were first discovered in Amy's house, and those who get absorbed into the cracks were erased from existence. Amy never explained what happened to her parents, but it was widely speculated that they were erased. It was confirmed in "The Big Bang", and they returned thanks to the Doctor saving the day.
    • "Blink" derives a lot of its scare potential from one particularly unsettling bit of Fridge Horror regarding the Weeping Angels' abilities: at several points in the episode, they appear on-screen as stone statues when none of the characters appear to be looking at them, leading many fans to conclude that they can also sense the audience looking at them. Then in "Time of Angels", it's confirmed that the Weeping Angels can, in fact, project themselves through pictures and video footage of themselves—and that an image of a Weeping Angel can even become a living Weeping Angel.
    • When Gallifrey was saved in "The Day of the Doctor", though it is in another universe, some people pointed out that if the Time Lords return it could mean another Time War. This is the threat being staved off in the next episode, "The Time of the Doctor".
    • The old series occasionally used Angst? What Angst? to keep the characters from being utterly destroyed. examples  The new series suggests the Doctor does actually deal with that, through a combination of Stepford Smiler behaviour and forcible denial, because if he stopped to think about all of the loss he'd have a complete mental breakdown. Matt Smith said if Eleven didn't act foppish and silly, he probably would've hung himself.
    • In "The Long Game" Adam is thrown out of the TARDIS for trying to send future knowledge back to his own time, having installed a data chip in his head. Having a chip that opens when someone snaps their fingers is Played for Laughs when Adam's mother accidentally causes it to open. The comic Prisoners of Time shows this basically ruined Adam's life, as he had to hide away for most of his life in fear of being discovered and became bitter and hateful towards the Doctor, eventually using his data chip to perform robberies via hacking and trying to get revenge on the Doctor.
    • When River Song first made her debut in "Silence in the Library", many fans observed that she seems oddly nonchalant about sacrificing her life at the end of the episode, and she doesn't seem to consider that there might be another way to save the victims of the Vashta Nerada. As many people pointed out, her supposed Heroic Sacrifice looks suspiciously like suicide. As River's character arc slowly progresses in the next few seasons, and we get to meet her before she ultimately travelled to the Library, it slowly begins to look like this might indeed be the case. River strongly suspects that one day she will cross paths with the Doctor at a time before he's met her, and she believes that she won't be able to live with the grief of knowing that the man she loves has no idea who she is. "The Husbands of River Song" reveals that her last adventure with him before "Silence in the Library" ended in a night that lasted twenty-four happy years, which may or may not soften this tragic situation.
    • Clara Oswald has a gigantic role in all of the Doctors' lives from Series 7 onward, having had a direct hand in everything from saving the Doctor's timeline — and by extension the universe — from the Great Intelligence, convincing him to save Gallifrey in "The Day of the Doctor", keeping him from being Killed Off for Real in "The Time of the Doctor", being his only close friend when he regenerates from Eleven to Twelve, and even inspiring his childhood self to heroism. Like all companions, she keeps his ego and alien nature in check as a Living Emotional Crutch and Morality Pet — but she's also, arguably, his soulmate. Alas, he can't be together with her forever, as he's a functional immortal, and it's well-established that is he not good with dealing with loss or being alone under the usual circumstances of a companion departure. How can he move on to other companions after Clara when they'll all come up short of her barring miracles? This horror ascends in Series 9, as the biggest of the growing crises in the Story Arc is his increasingly desperate efforts to ensure he doesn't lose her. When they are separated in the worst possible way — she is killed off in a Senseless Sacrifice he had no hope of preventing — AND he is promptly imprisoned in a giant torture chamber by his enemies, the result is that he goes stark raving mad, becomes The Unfettered, and risks all of space and time on an unattainable Tragic Dream: bringing her back from the grave. In the end, he does return to his best self...but it takes the help of Mind Rape, which causes him to lose his key memories of what made him love her and renders him unable to recognize her, to do so.
  • In the original Sailor Moon Anime, Usagi and Naru were best friends, however as Usagi met the inner senshi, Naru started to appear less and less, until she disappeared completely in the fourth story arc. Although Naru Hand Waved it somewhere in the manga, there is no exploration upon the subject of how Usagi quickly dispenses with her best friend as new friends appeared. However, in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Naru losing Usagi's friendship becomes a plot point, Naru shows jealousy towards the inner senshi (especially towards Ami), and shows how sad she is being replaced.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actively deals with much of the Fridge Horror from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and in many cases takes it a step further: SHIELD is a fraction of its former self, HYDRA is active, and loyal SHIELD agents who managed to avoid death at the hands of former friends or military detention by their own government are hunted as terrorists. Meanwhile, many of the dangerous people and artifacts SHIELD was originally created to contain are now out in the world.
  • Marvel's Netflix shows, set in New York City following the Incident, highlight the fallout of the aliens' invasion on the lives of general New Yorkers, which was mostly glossed over in the films.
    • Daredevil: The alien invasion hit Hell's Kitchen the hardest. Wilson Fisk is building his criminal empire by skimming off reconstruction contracts.
    • This is an aspect of Spider-Man: Homecoming too, as the movie revolves around alien technology scavenged from the Incident by criminals to create truly destructive weapons.
    • Jessica Jones: Prejudice against gifted people is now prevalent, as Jessica finds herself dealing with one such woman whose mother was killed in the Incident.
    • Luke Cage: Hammer Industries pioneered a bullet built from Incident metals which they dub the Judas bullet.
  • It's noted numerous times how important having Anna was to Elsa in Frozen (2013). When the characters appear in Once Upon a Time, the storyline essentially asks what would happen if Elsa didn't have a Morality Pet. Thankfully not with Elsa herself but rather her aunt Ingrid, who had ice powers like her. She accidentally hurt her sister with her powers and that resulted in her death. Her other sister (Elsa's mother) then sealed her away in an urn to protect the world from her. Now with no one to love her, Ingrid is a cold and merciless sorceress who seeks to make everyone destroy themselves for not being like her, while also trying to get Elsa to turn on Anna so that Ingrid will be the only family she has left.
    • It also deconstructs the small power the trolls display regarding memory manipulation. In the original, they basically wiped Anna's memories of Elsa's powers and these powers aren't brought up again. In OUAT, memory manipulation is the one thing they major in, and everyone knows it, for good or ill. If the trolls are involved or mentioned, chances are it has to do with memories. People from across the land know stories of their powers, with one of them seeking to have them restore her memories while another asked them to wipe the memories of the entire kingdom to cover up the incident mentioned above, showing that these powers are not so easily ignored. And all while it follows the good ol' mantra of "all magic comes with a price".

    Multiple Media 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Item 47 is about a couple who restore to working condition a Chitauri weapon that'd been laying around in the wreckage after the battle in New York from The Avengers. They then use it to go rob banks. Spider-Man: Homecoming also exploits this, showing that Adrian Toomes and his gang have been gathering whatever rest of discarded tech results from superhero battles (along with Chitauri, there's SHIELD, HYDRA, and Ultron) and repurpose if not reverse-engineer into items that usually get sold in the black market.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) had a couple bits at the end. Okay, so Peter is a Half-Human Hybrid, and that explains how he was able to handle the Power Stone and not die instantly. And Yondu, a notorious career pirate and criminal, refers to Peter's father as a "jackass". Okay, so what kind of being was both that powerful and so bad that someone who spent a lifetime plundering ships and killing people would call a "jackass"? We find out in the sequel: this universe's version of Ego the Living Planet, a Celestial who sired - and murdered - untold numbers of his own offspring trying to find one that had enough power to help him destroy the entire universe. Yondu was hired to deliver Peter to Ego, but backed out of the deal and raised Peter as his own when he realized what Ego was doing to the other kids he helped bring to him.
    • Black Panther (2018)'s central conflicts is based on acknowledging the real life pitfalls of a country like Wakanda. A Cracked article claims that Wakanda's refusal to help it neighbors, arsenal of advanced weapons, and absolute leadership determined by brute force would make it an ideal authoritarian state. Likewise, an episode by The Film Theorists pointed out that Wakanda's over-reliance on vibranium and traditionalist society could lead to the country losing out in a technological arms race with the outside world. Come the actual movie, many of these talking points form the crux of the conflict. Not only do many of T'Challa's advisors point out that the outside world is closing the technology gap, but T'Challa realizes that Wakanda's tribalistic isolationism has led to the suffering and neglect of the Wakandan diaspora. The film also shows why choosing a king based on ritual combat is a bad idea when Killmonger exploits Wakanda's power structure to usurp the throne by defeating T'Challa in combat, despite his lack of leadership skills, and uses his privilege as king to create a fascist state and attempt to start a race war that doesn't have a guarantee of Wakandan victory.
    • Avengers: Endgame spends its entire first third covering how the world has coped (or rather, failed to cope) with the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Major metropolitan areas are abandoned due to not having the population to sustain themselves. Places where people do live are in disrepair and covered in trash and graffiti. Depression rates are incredibly high, with people apparently breaking down crying fairly regularly. It's even worse on a cosmic scale, since Earth at least has the Avengers as a source of hope.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home covers some of the speculated side-effects of pushing the Reset Button after five years had passed. People have lost their homes and spouses in the interim. Everyone who was blipped didn't age in that time, so a lot of kids didn't grow up alongside their classmates and siblings. It's mostly Played for Laughs, but still shows a darker side to Endgame's happy ending.
    • WandaVision's take on the same events, however, isn't played for laughs at all, and fully explores the panic that four billion people popping into existence would really cause in the moment. Monica Rambeau revives in a hospital, which is in a state of absolute chaos thanks to an untold number of spontaneous new arrivals instantly pushing it well above capacity. On top of that, Monica was unable to be there when her mother died three years ago, even though it was almost instantaneous to her. Hayward even hints at a rift developing between those were Blipped and those who weren't at one point.
    • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier provides a serious examination of the political, social, and economic ramifications of the Blip. Sam Wilson's family's fishing business are struggling to obtain loans due to an unstable and highly competitive economy, the dating scene has exploded due to snapped people suddenly finding their partners have moved on since their "death", and the Flag-Smashers exist because those who weren't Blipped feel left behind while society works to provide aid to those who were Blipped.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home acknowledges and confirms the long-standing theory that the titular Spider-Man from the Webb-verse films has never really moved on from Gwen Stacy's death despite the triumphant ending of his solo last film, even the theory of using it as Freudian Excuse to vent out his anger.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Force Awakens is set thirty or so years after Return of the Jedi and shows the Imperial remnant having rebuilt itself into a fully functional, powerful and dangerous new organization called "The First Order". This overturned the highly improbable implication at the end of the original trilogy that the death of the Emperor led to the immediate downfall of the authoritarian state. The New Republic and its semi-independent Resistance (the Rebels' remnant) have already become complacent and, one Alderaan-times-five tragedy later, the galaxy is back to square one.
    • A common observation about the Original Trilogy is that the Galactic Civil War often seems suspiciously black and white compared to Real Life conflicts between brutal military dictatorships and rebel militants. But since we only see a tiny fraction of the war, many fans have long speculated that the Rebel Alliance probably does some morally questionable things in pursuit of victory that we just never see. Rogue One takes that idea and runs with it: the entire premise of the film revolves around showing us what the war looks like from the perspective of average Rebel soldiers, like the unnamed spies who stole the Death Star plans and made the events of the original film possible. As the film shows, even the heroic Rebels aren't above using Child Soldiers, torturing Imperial defectors, and coldly murdering their own informants to protect themselves.
    • The Phantom Menace raised some eyebrows when it established that Anakin Skywalker was recruited into the Jedi Order when he was just nine years old, and it implied that many other Jedi recruits were even younger than him—since Mace Windu considers him "too old" to begin Jedi training at the age of nine. Attack of the Clones also established that this wasn't at all unusual, showing dozens of prepubescent Jedi apprentices (or "Younglings") training with Yoda in the Jedi Temple. This struck many fans as rather unsettling, since it implied that many of the Jedi murdered by the Empire were just children. Sure enough, Revenge of the Sith not only showed the Younglings fleeing in terror from armed Stormtroopers, but showed Anakin personally turning his lightsaber on them.
    • For another Revenge of the Sith moment, it has been confirmed (In the novelization) that one of the Younglings calling Anakin "Master" pressed his buttons over being denied the rank, as he took the remark as mocking.
    • The Mandalorian has a major plot point that Din Djarin ends up becoming the rightful ruler of Mandalore by besting Moff Gideon in combat and thus unwittingly claiming the Darksaber — ancestral weapon of a Mandalorian Jedi and former ruler — as his own, with it being explicitly stated the saber can only be legitimately won through combat. Fans immediately questioned this, pointing out how Sabine Wren had previously gifted the Darksaber to Bo-Katan back in Rebels before it was stolen by Gideon in the Empire's sacking of Mandalore, with some joking that Sabine and Bo-Katan just didn't care about the rules… only for it to be subsequently confirmed that, yeah, Sabine and Bo really did blatantly violate the laws of Mandalore by not dueling for the blade, and that this in fact is believed to have afflicted the Mandalorian people with a terrible curse for allowing themselves to be led by an illegitimate leader, a curse played out when the Empire destroyed Mandalore and stole the saber. Bo-Katan is therefore viewed by a lot of surviving Mandalorians as a disgrace and cautionary tale, revealing a nasty undertone to her determination to hunt down Gideon and her barely-concealed anger and shock when Din gets the saber by accident.

    Music 
  • Eminem's 2000 song "Stan", from The Marshall Mathers LP, ends with the eponymous Stan (an obsessed, stalkerish fan) dying by driving his car off a bridge. However, a throwaway line mentions that Stan's little brother Matthew "likes you (Eminem) more than I do". Come 2013, and the first song from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, "Bad Guy", is all about Matthew attempting to kidnap and murder Eminem, as he blames what happened to Stan on the latter's fanship of the former. And he succeeds.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The popular Garfield fan theory that the reason Jon's roommate Lyman from the early days of the comic hasn't been seen or referenced in years, is because he was kidnapped and murdered (quite possibly by Jon himself) has been more-or-less adopted as canon by Jim Davis and company. When asked where Lyman had gone, Davis frequently responded "Don't look in Jon's basement", and Lyman has shown up twice in the web games "Garfield's Scary Scavenger Hunt" under rather disturbing circumstances: the first one chained to the wall in the basement of a haunted mansion, and the second one with his severed head in the oven.

    Theater 
  • The first act of Into the Woods is a cheerful Fractured Fairy Tale. The second act is every single nasty consequence of every single person's actions coming back to haunt them (and everyone else around them), in ways that readers of the original fairy tales could easily imagine. These include Love at First Sight not being enough to sustain Cinderella and Rapunzel's marriages, as their Princes both turn out to be Prince Charmless, Rapunzel suffering Sanity Slippage from her years of confinement, and worst of all, the wife of the Giant Jack killed coming down to seek vengeance for her murdered husband. That last one ends up costing half the cast their lives.
  • In Shrek: The Musical, any struggles you could think of with Fiona being locked in one little room of the tower are lovingly spelled out in her verse of "I Think I Got You Beat", making it clear she was more a prisoner than anything. Sanity Slippage from isolation and boredom, minimal creature comforts (including needing to boil her chamberpot since she had no toilet), not much headroom when she grew taller... She even admits that it's a good thing the walls were padded.

    Web Comics 


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