Calvin: A note Mom left with emergency numbers.
Rosalyn: Right. Now, you wouldn't want me to have to CALL any of those numbers, would you?
Calvin: Well, it must be 6:30. I guess I'll turn in.
While becoming a Badly Battered Babysitter may be an adult's worst nightmare, having a Babysitter from Hell is a child's.
In Real Life, child abuse by a temporary or hired guardian is a very serious thing. But in fiction, it can be comedy gold. It's also a good way to give a character a Dark and Troubled Past that's only just dark enough, without making the parents out to be bad. A common fate of characters with a Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
This villain type is always introduced the same way: parents need someone to care for their children. Often, possibly because either a parent or child has a bad reputation, short notice, or bad timing (who'd have thought they'd schedule the high school prom and the elementary school PTA meeting on the same night?), the parents are left with few choices.
Only after the parents leave is the Babysitter from Hell revealed for what they are. Usually this character can be identified by at least three of the following traits or behaviors:
- Children are frightened of them. Hilarity Ensues as adults take little notice of a child's instinctive concern, being either too busy or assuming it's just ordinary separation anxiety.
- The babysitter is impatient, angsty, or just plain mean.
- The babysitter clearly has little experience in dealing with children of the age in question.
- The babysitter assigns the child a task or responsibility that is clearly inappropriate.
- The child is assigned all the chores while the babysitter chats on the phone, watches TV, or otherwise refuses to help.
- The babysitter puts the child in a situation that is obviously dangerous, unhealthy, or frightening, such as locking them in the basement.
- When the child gets in trouble, is at risk of serious injury, or asks for help, the babysitter ignores them.
- The babysitter uses the parents' home to throw a party or conduct criminal activities. If the babysitter uses the children to commit a crime, they might be The Fagin.
- The babysitter deliberately makes the child miserable out of angst, revenge, etc., or For the Evulz.
- The babysitter is, of course, badly battered and vows payback.
To meet the requirements for this trope, all of the following must be true:
- A character is hired or otherwise entrusted with a child.
- They end up doing more harm than good.
- They get away with it repeatedly.
With no support from adults, the child is usually forced to take unilateral action to either foil or prank the babysitter. When the parents return, either the Babysitter from Hell has already left or blames anything the parents find amiss on the child. Since the parents usually don't believe the child, the threat that they will be back remains.
This is a villain type where on the Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness the Babysitter from Hell can range from pure evil to a Jerkass Woobie with a Dark and Troubled Past of their own, and Alternate Character Interpretation may allow some to be regarded as both.
- This Cap'n Crunch Cereal commercial involves the Cap'n taking two children away from the cross, elderly female babysitter Mrs. Winkler to have a house party in his ship.
- This 1997 Burger King Kids' Club commercial features two siblings being frightened by their mean-looking elderly female babysitter until the animated kid mascot of the Kids' Club zaps the siblings away to have fun at a Burger King instead.
- The Graphic Novel Blankets details this. Greg mentions that he imagined people who were mean to him eating their own excrement as revenge for the things they did. The picture shows his Sadist Teacher, his schoolyard bullies, and the babysitter, whose eyes are never shown. It's never stated explicitly what he did... but the novel gives enough hints to show that he sexually abused Greg and his brother.
- The British comic book 2000AD once featured a short story about a nasty little boy named Bradley whose idea of fun was to tie a mouse between two of his model railway engines and drive them in opposite directions. Then Bradley asks his parents for a certain machine which, when you press the button, changes into "exactly what you need." Bradley's parents exchange a look and get him the machine. Bradley presses the button and the machine changes into exactly what he needs all right - the Babysitter From Hell, which immediately straps him down to a table (which is part of the machine), gags him and puts up a display reading "you move - you die" while the boy's parents enjoy a welcome break from trying to keep the little brat out of trouble.
- In Kill la Kill AU, we get this Rei the "Drunk Secretary", whose natural idea of babysitting Mako, Ryuuko, Nui, and Satsuki (the oldest of which is five and the youngest being two, along with the middle being three) involved sending them on a beer run when she runs out of booze, along with implications that she is rarely sober. Needless to say, Ragyo and Soichiro were none too pleased, Ragyo even hitting her with a baseball bat.
- Subverted with Elizabeth/Zee from Monster House. Though largely apathetic to DJ, she calls off her boyfriend when he continues harassing her charge, and even gives the kids some Halloween candy.
- In The Rescuers, Madame Medusa and Mr. Snoops need Penny to help them retrieve a diamond at the bottom of a cave too small for an adult to fit into. The cave is prone to flooding whenever the tide comes in, but Medusa in particular doesn't care as long as Penny gets the diamond. Oh, and they actually kidnapped her from an orphanage for this.
- Toyed with in the 2015 thriller Emelie where the babysitter is an impostor seeking new kids to replace her son that died.
- The Guardian (1990) about a nanny who's really a dryad seeking a sacrifice.
- The Hand That Rocks the Cradle features a psycho nanny who is actually the widow of the disgraced obstetrician.
- The elderly Mrs. Sturak from Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead wasted no time establishing herself as one of these. It's no wonder the kids didn't exactly mourn her passing.
- The Netflix original horror/comedy film The Babysitter takes this trope to a very literal extreme with the main character's baby sitter actually being the lead member of a Satanic Cult. At the same time it subverts it as, aside from the tiny detail of secretly using small amounts of his blood in rituals alongside human sacrifices, the titular babysitter is actually pretty great at her job and seems to genuinely care for her charge. Also worth noting, she isn't planning on sacrificing him, and even saves his life from another Cult member. She's still a villain.
- Hogfather: From what we hear of her, Gawain and Twyla's previous nanny was a mean and strict woman who tried to scare her charges straight with all sorts of bogeymen that would punish children for the slightest bit of disobedience. Thanks to the power of belief some of these things turn out to be real. Susan takes to chasing these Things That Go "Bump" in the Night off with a fireplace poker but also expresses a desire to hunt this woman down and use the poker on her.
- The unnamed babysitter for Georgia and Shaun in Feed. She decides that Georgia doesn't really need her sunglasses and tosses them out into the backyard, making the twins search for them. Important detail: this is after the Zombie Apocalypse and zombies are still shambling around everywhere. Fortunately for them, the same ocular medical condition that did make the sunglasses necessary allowed Georgia to see an incoming zombie in time for Shaun to deal with the threat. A decade later, he still thinks that's the best gift she's ever given him.
- The Berenstain Bears appear at first to have an example of this in "The Sitter," but then Mrs. Grizzle turns out to be pretty nice after all. There's also a subversion in "The Week at Grandma's" where Mama and Papa Bear go on a vacation and leave the kids with their grandparents. They think they're in for a hell of boredom, but the grandparents turn out to be great fun.
- In On Writing, Stephen King relates a story from his childhood: a babysitter named Beulah (or maybe Eulah)—who liked to sit on his head and fart—fed Little Stevie most of a dozen eggs, then locked him in a closet while she fell asleep. His mother was unimpressed, especially since he threw up in her good shoes.
- Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane has Ursula Monkton, a babysitter who is actually a low-level Eldritch Abomination. She compels the protagonist's father to abuse him and have an affair with her, and has even worse things planned if he keeps disobeying.
- Miss Andrew from the Mary Poppins series is so conceited and verbally abusive, Mr. Banks refers to her as, "a Holy Terror!"
- In one of the Teenage Worrier books, Letty wants to go out to a party to see her crush, but is supposed to be watching her little brother Benjy. She asks two neighboring kids to babysit him while she goes out - even though Benjy is clearly terrified of them, and they know nothing about looking after kids. When she gets back from the party, she finds that they sat him in front of a violent horror movie, got him drunk, and let their hamster escape in the house.
- A mild version in the second The Babysitters Club book, where the girls face competition from a similar group called "The Babysitters Agency". As the girls in the second group are older, the local parents prefer them. However, it turns out they're doing a poor job, merely watching TV and paying little attention to the kids, and in one instance, they find a child roaming the street, having snuck out. The girls are horrified to realize what could have happened had they not come along (being hit by a car, being abducted, getting lost, etc).
- Mild instance in FlashForward (2009), with the babysitter making out with her guy while the child in her care is upstairs asleep, right before the blackout.
- Everybody Hates Chris has the "Everybody Hates The Babysitter" episode in which the babysitter won't stay in the house, getting into a fight with her baby's daddy, and leaving Chris to look after the kid because she's too lazy. The episode ends with Chris blabbing everything she did and Rochelle getting ready to beat the hell out of her. There wasn't much saying this was another Imagine Spot either, so it probably actually happened.
Rochelle: "Hold my hair." *hands Chris her wig as a boxing bell goes off*
- A bloodcurdling example occurs on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation when the team finds a little boy's corpse in a garbage bag. They discover that the little boy was one of three brothers staying with a prostitute who happened to be their mother's cousin. The prostitute locked all three of them in the basement of the shed in her backyard, and when one of them died she simply got one of her johns to put the body into a garbage bag and hide it in someone else's trash. The hooker claims that her cousin simply dumped the boys on her without leaving any money to pay for feeding them. Brass later discovers that the boys' mother did in fact give her hooker cousin $300...and as Brass put it "that skanky bitch went out and bought a new TV!" The CSI team eventually finds the two surviving boys in the basement of the hooker's shed, and they're both close to death. Brass quite bluntly threatens the prostitute with the warning that, if either of them dies, he's going to do everything in his power to make sure she gets the death penalty.
- This is also Nick's backstory - he was molested by his babysitter as a boy.
- Played with in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, when Malcolm is hired to babysit at a wealthy household. He later finds a secret panel in the wall with a nanny cam and videotapes of him doing minor things like taking too much food. He decides to teach the family a little lesson by making it look like he's going to put their expensive fish in a blender, and instead gives a lecture on trust before disabling the camera.
- Played with in That's So Raven. In "Cake Fear," Raven and her brother are told their parents are hiring an old babysitter to look after them for the weekend. The babysitter, Ms. Patterson, was a complete pushover who let them do whatever they wanted, and they blamed her for eating a cake their dad made for their mom's birthday. Raven expects her to still be the same pushover she was before until they find out she had a psychotic breakdown, spent time in prison... and escaped. And then Raven's friends start disappearing while staying at the house. It turns out the whole thing's a reality TV show prank on Raven and Cory. Ms. Patterson wanted to get back at them for blaming her for the cake incident, and their dad was in on it the whole time.
- In the song "Bad Babysitter" by Princess Superstar, the lyrics are from the point of view of the Villain Protagonist.
- Inverted in Barry Louis Polisar's "When The House Is Dark And Quiet". Not a Badly Battered Babysitter case, as the kids don't run away or actually hurt their temporary caregivers: they just hassle them and drive them up the wall until they quit.
- "Left alone with big fat Fanny / She was such a naughty nanny . . ."
- Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes thinks his babysitter Rosalyn is this but from her viewpoint, she's fending off becoming a Badly Battered Babysitter. Then in her last appearance, a game of Calvinball brings them together, averting both tropes.
- In the original Little Orphan Annie comic, the original orphanage manager, Miss Asthma, and her partner in crime, Mrs. Bottle, make Miss Hannigan seem saintly in comparison.
- The Far Side has a strip in which the parents come home and find that the witch they hired cooked and ate not one, but both children.
- Rat proved himself to be the absolute worst babysitter imaginable in the Baby Blues-Pearls Before Swine crossover strip: Here's a rundown of what happened: he agrees to doing everything Wanda and Darryl ask of him, and as soon as they leave, prepares to waste himself with shots of Tequila (and started wearing a beer hat). He then has Zoe and Hammie go out to a package and liquor store to get more bottles of tequila (note: Zoe and Hammie, are incredibly too young to drive, never mind below the age limit of purchasing alcohol, so he's risking their being potentially arrested and doing time at a juvenile correction facility for driving below the age limit, underage purchasing of alcohol, and possession of alcohol while driving just to get himself drunk yet again, at the very least). Predictably, it goes as badly as possible, with Hammie apparently wrecking their parents' minivan, which also causes a gas station to explode, and apparently they accidentally ran over Jeremy from Zits, and his reaction was horror that their liquor run was delayed. Likewise, he left Wren unsupervised while he went to watch a movie, which nearly got Wren eaten by the crocodiles (only reason they didn't eat her is that she turned the tables on them and actually bludgeoned them to death with a plastic bat). Honestly, at least Vicky expressed some concern when Timmy disappeared under her charge.
- The Adventures of Willy Beamish: One of the evening events has Willy and his younger sister as the victims of a vampire babysitter. The rest of the evening involves avoiding her.
- Syphile from Drowtales in the first chapter manages to hit points 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9, with 9 being a particularly brutal version of Kill The Kitty in front of Ariel. It's little wonder that when asked what her greatest desire is, the 10-year-old Ariel's response is "Kill Syphile."
- Girl Genius: Von Pinn is actually a monster assigned to take care of the children, then students, in Castle Wulfenbach. Oh, and she'd like to kill Agatha. On the other hand, Gil and Tarvek call her the closest thing to a mother they ever had, and are extremely distraught when they find her injured. It is eventually revealed that she is Otilia, the Muse of Protection, and was transferred out of her mechanical body into a fleshy one by Lucrezia. Otilia really didn't enjoy the experience.
- Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell: When Darwin was in high school, he was hired as a babysitter for a baby. Darwin, a Quincy Punk at the time, ignores the baby completely in order to make out with his girlfriend. Due to this neglect, the baby, who is also the future Dalai Lama, falls out of his chair and sustains permanent brain damage.
- Vicky from The Fairly OddParents. She's normally either chasing Timmy with power tools or using him as a footrest, among a thousand other tortures.
- This trope was once turned on its head when Timmy wished for Vicky to be a child and proceeded to act as her Babysitter From Hell as revenge for all the torment he'd suffered at her hands. Naturally, this ended up backfiring, as he ended up making young Vicky miserable enough to qualify for fairy godparents; since Timmy was no longer miserable enough to keep his, Cosmo and Wanda were reassigned to young Vicky, who proceeded to use their power to make Timmy a Badly Battered Babysitter with her as an Enfant Terrible.
- A more "literal" case, is one episode where Timmy in an act of revenge read her diary and sabotaged her love life. Since Vicky was too upset to babysit, Timmy's parents hired a replacement: a group of sitters who resemble THE FREAKING GRIM REAPER!!
- Grim Reapers: Give us the boy!
Timmy: I have to get Vicky back!
- There's a Tom and Jerry cartoon in which the cat and mouse are on the same side, protecting the baby from getting into danger, but every time the teen girl hired as the actual babysitter pauses on the phone it's to beat them up for bothering the baby they just put back into the crib. In this case, the babysitter is neglectful, but not mean to the baby, with Tom and Jerry being the target.
- The first season of The Simpsons had the Babysitter Bandit, a criminal who tried to rob the place. Bart, Lisa, and Maggie manage to defeat her and flee to a payphone, but Homer and Marge get home before the police arrive, untie her and let her leave. Homer even carried the bags of loot she'd stolen from them to her car.
- American Dragon: Jake Long's Muggle Best Friends Spud and Trixie aren't such good babysitters for Jake's sister Haley — but she is a dragon too. A rare case of Idiot Hero Babysitter from Hell.
- A robot babysitter (voiced by Sarah Silverman) looks after Meatwad in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. She was made by Frylock, after he and Shake get jobs at a Slurp-A-Lunch but she does the opposite of what Frylock made her to do and abuses Meatwad. When she shows her true colors to Frylock, he gets rid of her by putting her (and her friend, Shiela) in the Slurp-A-Lunch's juicer. Earlier, they had Carl as babysitter and he let Meatwad get into the medicine cabinet.
- South Park: Stan's sister occasionally works as a babysitter, and she's terrible. Then again, the only kid we've seen her babysit is Eric Cartman.
- The Amazing Spiez! episode "Operation Spy-Sitter". The kids' parents hire a babysitter named Melinda to look after them. Melinda appears to be perfect, having just the skills to help each of them. She turns out to be a he - an enemy spy named Mel who's been kidnapping WOOHP spies, and now wants the kids.
- Actually, while Mel is perfectly willing to go after Megan, Marc, and Tony once they catch on to him, his target was Lee who he had already nabbed by The Reveal and was planning of disposing of (along with the rest of the agents he had kidnapped) via bombs!
- In Kick Buttowski: Kick is chasing his sister Brianna, who has taken his trike.
Kick: You know you're not supposed to go out alone!Brianna: Brad's watching me.[cut to Brad lying on the sofa, picking his nose and watching TV. The TV announces Tankini Lumberjacks, and Brad cheers].
- One episode of Dexter's Laboratory inexplicably features Dee Dee babysitting Mandark, in spite of the fact that they both appear to be about the same age. Dee Dee repeatedly denigrates Mandark by calling him by his real name, teases him for playing with 'dollies,' bathes him, and dresses him for bed - all the while, "Susie" grimaces in embarrassment. Ultimately, Mandark writes the experience off as a positive because his mother left instructions for him to receive a goodnight kiss before bed.
- Captain Flamingo has Meghan: a lazy teenager who just can't seem to get off the phone. She takes almost no notice of Milo and his friends' antics, and if she does notice, it's not really that big a deal. How does she react:
Meghan: You can (insert activity here) when I'm done on the phone!
- One episode of Codename: Kids Next Door has Numbuh Two's mom hires Cree, of all people, to babysit him and Tommy, who turns out to be only one of many babysitters plotting to dispose of their charges. It turns out to be All Just a Dream, but when Numbuh Two wakes up, his actual babysitter is at the door, and the episode ends there.
- Elmyra Duff from Tiny Toon Adventures is an unintentional example of this in the short, "Drooley Davey" (part of "The Wide World of Elmyra"). While she means no harm towards Davey, she is clearly too young and stupid to be a proper babysitter. Davey's parents are completely oblivious to their son being scared by Elmyra's presence and pass it off as him being excited to see her. At one point in the cartoon, Elmyra tries feeding him extremely hot milk. When Elmyra volunteers to babysit him again the following night, Davey packs his bags, says "I Quit" to his parents in a Baby Herman-esque voice, and runs away.
- In Johnny Test, twin geniuses Susan and Mary are head over heels in love with their dumbass next-door neighbour Gil. But he never notices they exist despite them having been neighbours for seven years. In one episode, he starts a babysitting service, in which to get close to him, the two turn themselves into babies. In which his babysitting routine includes "bouncing on a pull out sofa" "watching horror movies" and "feeding them chili" (Not to mention he has no idea how to change a diaper). Their brother Johnny calls him out on each one, and questions why he even started a babysitting business.
- One episode, "Pet Sitter Pat", of Spongebob Squarepants shows Patrick in this light. First, he throws away the schedule SpongeBob gave him because he can't read it (he was holding it upside-down) and, two, he eats all the snail food Sponge left for Gary. Oh, when it's bathtime, he tries to bathe Gary with a flamethrower. Though this is played with, as, other than the pineapple getting wrecked, the episode flip-flops on whether or not Patrick is as bad or less as SpongeBob keeps imagining him to be.
- Lori from The Loud House, complete with Drill Sergeant Nasty getup. Justified since she's trying to keep the house from falling into more chaos while the parents are gone.
- In the episode "Sitting Bull," Lori, Leni, Luna, and Luanne pride themselves as the best babysitters in town, and reluctantly allow Lynn Jr. into their business. They regret it almost immediately after a client calls to complain about how she forced her kids to perform rigorous exercises. When they threaten to kick her out of their group, she takes on their jobs and gets them fired, citing rough treatment. They then decide to stick her with the worst kids they know, to get her to quit. It doesn't work, as Lynn Jr. proves to be the only babysitter that can actually put up with them, and gets hired by that couple to care for their kids whenever they want to go out.
- Kaeloo: In the Babysitting Episode, Stumpy (of all people) is one. He forcibly babysits Quack Quack, who didn't even want or need a babysitter, and does stuff like Force Feeding him spinach using a funnel and a baseball bat. Eventually, Quack Quack gets annoyed and Stumpy winds up as a Badly Battered Babysitter.
- Les Sisters: Madame Georgette, who is well-intentioned but not a very good babysitter. When she has to babysit the Sisters for the weekend, she forces them to eat disgusting soup instead of ordering a pizza like they wanted, makes them go to sleep before it's even night time despite Wendy telling her she had to watch an important episode of her favorite show, and confiscates Wendy's tablet and Marine's snacks.