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Creepy Child

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Marge: [looking out the window to the front lawn] There's something about flying a kite at night that's so unwholesome.
Bart: [turns head to the window. In monotone with lidded eyes and an eerie smile] Hello, mother dear.
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They look sweet, innocent, even angelic, but there's something not quite right about them. They're too calm, too knowing. They aren't really children any longer, not at heart.

Children should be innocent and in need of adult protection. By inverting this, the trope arouses deep-rooted fears. The Creepy Child might not be physically dangerous, but their profound unnaturalness is just as chilling.

Creepy children are frequently female, and often Emotionless Girls. They can be, among other things, a Robot Girl, an Oracular Urchin, a changeling, a Waif Prophet, or Evil. As prophets, they emanate otherworldliness; as heroes, they may elicit distrust and contempt from the rest of The Team sans the one female who wants to be surrogate mother, and as villains they remain cute even while the bodies pile up around them. They usually have an Ironic Nursery Tune theme.

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May be holding a Creepy Doll. A girl who is a Woman in White is usually the Creepy Child. If a Creepy Child is shown drawing, it will usually be a Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book.

Compare and contrast Psychopathic Manchild and the usually much more proactive and physically dangerous Enfant Terrible. See also Undead Child and Ambiguous Innocence. Also compare Creepy Cute.


Examples


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    Advertising 
  • One cellphone commercial played with this trope, featuring loads of Creepy Children (including a pair of white-kneesocks-wearing twin girls sing-songing, "We want a cellphone"). It ended with a message to parents that they shouldn't be scared to buy cellphones for their kids, although if you had kids like that, wouldn't you be wary about giving them what they want?
  • The early "Dead Zone" ads for Verizon featured pairs of creepy siblings (two brothers in dress attire and identical twin girls wearing blue dresses).
  • An ad for Australian real estate agent L.J. Hooker ended with a creepy girl's gratitude "Thank you, Mr. Hooker". The really scary part was, she probably wasn't meant to be creepy.
  • The "Double Life" PlayStation advert, back in the late 90s/early 2000s featured a memorably creepy, world-conquering, Scottish child of indeterminate gender. Check it out, 43 seconds in.
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    Comic Strips 

    Film — Animation 
  • Coraline: The Ghost Children. Especially the one with her mouth frozen open in an expression of perpetual horror. Depending on your point of view, the other Wybie could qualify in the beginning. There's just something creepy about his constant smile.
  • Lilo from Lilo & Stitch. She says things like "My friends need to be punished" in a monotone while placing spoons decorated as her Hula Halau-mates from a previous scene in a pickle jar and watching them, all while sitting next to a book titled "Practical Voodoo". She gets better, this being a Disney movie. Completely justified, considering that the movie takes place shortly after her parents are killed in a car crash and this is her way of coping with the loss.
  • ParaNorman plays with this trope quite a bit. It's deconstructed throughout the film, peaking at adults willing to kill children because they're terrified of them. But then it's reconstructed.
  • Sid in Toy Story especially to toys. A point of view likely shared by his camp's human counsellors given that they couldn't wait until the end of the season to get rid of him.
  • Trolls: There's a wall-eyed child Troll. For one thing, he likes watching his parents as they're sleeping.

    Music 
  • The video to Portishead's "All Mine" features an extremely unnerving little girl lipsyncing the song.
  • Alice Cooper's song "Years Ago" is supposedly narrated by Steven, a lost child who only does monotone. the song is set to a species of Creepy Circus Music.
  • Turn around, Briiight eyes!
  • The music video to Avenged Sevenfold's "Nightmare" has a little blonde girl covered in blood and smiling while tossing a ball around which is also covered in blood.
  • The video to The Prodigy's "Omen" features a creepy little girl playing a Xylophone to bookend the piece.
  • The video to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Y Control features a small army of them. And they're armed.
  • The little girl in the video for Skrillex's "First of the Year" [1] looks super-creepy but less scary than the usual because it's implied that she only lures child molesters into the abandoned car park to be killed by a demon she controls
  • The album cover for They Might Be Giants' John Henry... You try looking at a girl staring blankly with a pickaxe in her hands and not have the jibblies...
  • The music video by OOMPH! - "Augen Auf" features a birthday party where the Adults are innocent, but the Children are the ones with more devious intent.
  • All of the children in the Vocaloid song "Circle You, Circle You". It comes off as more sad than anything when you realize that they are living in an Orphanage of Fear and have been horrifically experimented on in order for some Mad Scientists to (successfully) discover the secret to immortality. Said scientists would force the children to play the Japanese children's game "Kagome, Kagome" and then cut off a limb whenever they lost. The children play this game with wayward visitors even after the scientists are long dead, making the song a good case of horror all the same.
  • "Kids With Guns" from Gorillaz' Demon Days.
  • The girl on the album cover of Beautiful Freak by Eels.
  • The three children in the video of "Boys Don't Cry" by TheCure have a bit of this. Especially their shadows.

    Pinball 

    Podcast 
  • The Magnus Archives: Agnes in "Burned Out". She stays that way into adulthood.
  • The Fallen Gods Episode 6 ends with the party finding a small child standing in the centre of a draconian treasure horde with solid black eyes, the power to stop weapons from hitting it, and demanding to kill and eat them. Turns out, it's a baby dragon disguised in human form.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Radio 
  • In the radio adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mr. Jekyll and Utterson are terrified at the expression of wrath in the young Henry's face, noting that the first time it happened was when he was two years old.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Old World of Darkness game Wraith: The Oblivion has "Striplings", a title given to Spectres (evil ghosts of Oblivion) who died before the age of ten and have corpuses (ghost bodies) resembling children. They exist among all of the Spectral castes (including at least one Malfean, the God-Kings of Oblivion) and form a society unto themselves. Other Spectres (even Malfeans) find them to be completely ungovernable and "creepy".
  • The short-lived Immortal RPG featured the Peri, youngsters rescued from the Children's Crusade and made into immortals whose talent is to transform their bodies into weapons. The game's soundtrack had a bit with the sound of someone being stabbed, followed by a childish voice saying, "G'night!" and giggling. Worth noting is that Immortal has been revived as a free RPG, available here, although the Creepy Children described have been retconned into being just part of the Peri as of the current edition; many of the others are still Creepy Children, though, just from different origins.
  • The card game Lunch Money features monochrome pictures of a young girl with nursery rhymes and other sayings having vaguely to do with the cards' intended effects. The artwork is fairly surreal, but becomes truly creepy when one considers that the cards represent the character's actions in a brutal street fight (i.e. Punches, Kicks, hitting a guy with a chain, etc.).
  • In the French game In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas (the English version isn't a straight adaptation, more a remake) children of a demon and a human can be either normal kids, demons, or official creepy children. I love the illustration on that chapter in the rulebook.
  • Voice of Demnogonis in Mutant Chronicles. Looks like a child, but in fact feeds on Life Energy.
  • The predilections of the Deathlord known as the Dowager in Exalted...well...we'll let Things One Is Not Allowed To Do In Exalted spell it out.
    Not all Abyssals are creepy little girls.
    1. Except when the focus of the game is on the Dowager, that is.
    2. Even then she Exalts creepy little boys too.
  • In The Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor, an expansion for the RPG Monsters and Other Childish Things, the players are creepy orphans with a mysterious past and terrible powers.
  • Younger Fetch Children in Changeling: The Lost (the better of the two results of a Fetch successfully conceiving a baby) are explicitly mentioned as being slightly autistic, which gets really spooky when they start asking about a Changeling's Mien and open gates to the Hedge by being in the general area. They get better, though, and what's more, they're inherent weapons against the True Fae. Thus, if you see a Fetch Child, keep him alive, and breathe a sigh of relief that he wasn't a Fetch Spawn.
  • Malifaux being Malifaux, this pops up several times. The main contenders are from the Neverborn: Candy is the Woe of Innocence Lost, who takes the form of a small girl with pigtails and a basket of (poisoned) sweets; Baby Kade is a wild eyed baby with a knife and a penchant for killer teddies. There are also more sympathetic examples, The Stolen are Lost Boys-style pre-teen boys lured into The Breach and used ruthlessly as meat shields or sources of power.

    Theatre 
  • In some productions, the demons/witches that deliver the misleading prophecies to Macbeth take this form.
  • Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen. The Rosmer family has a tendency to breed children that neither laughed nor wept. And they seem to haunt the Rosmersholm estate.

    Theme Parks 
  • At the Universal's Halloween Horror Nights event, one of their mascot characters, Cindy Caine, is the most famous example. Creepy children doing creepy things is a recurring haunted house and scarezone theme. However, due to the events' mature focus and casting requirements, the children are often portrayed by small/younger looking adults and usually wear masks or makeup.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ilya from Fate/stay night. Even when she's calling the hero 'Oniichan'. Especially when she's calling the hero 'Oniichan'.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • Higurashi provides the example of Rika Furude, the little miko girl who usually serves as a Deliberately Cute Child but knows way too much about what has happened and what will happen, and who also possesses a rather disturbing fixation with torture and mutilation. However, this later revealed to be because she's Really 700 Years Old in mentality and often on the receiving end of the aforementioned torture and mutilation due to a "Groundhog Day" Loop that only she and Hanyuu are aware of.
    • All the members of that club are creepy at times, but the only other one in the right age category is Satoko, whose crazy moments tend to inspire more sympathy than fear.
  • The sister series to Higurashi, Umineko: When They Cry, features Maria, the protagonist's nine year old cousin who has a creepy fixation with the occult and a tendency to start laughing whenever someone's murdered. She's much worse in the anime than in the original sound novels thanks to Flanderization. However, despite her strange behaviour she isn't actually evil, just very socially maladjusted, and her obsession with the occult is a way for her to cope with being bullied and her mother's abusive treatment.
  • Inubushi Keiko, the mentally unstable serial killer from Remember11.
    • Yuni also has his moments.
  • fault milestone one has the original Rune, who gets pleasure, or something similar to pleasure as she's incapable of feeling emotion, from stabbing Marcos with a tree branch and mutilating small animals.

    Web Animation 
  • The unnamed girl in the notorious Quicktime animation Play With Me goes beyond merely creepy and right into nightmarish.
  • The kids from the Nickelodeon Clickamajigs game Black Licorice. In the game you're supposed to give them candy but you CAN'T give them black licorice because it causes them to transform into horrible grotesque monsters.
  • Vendetta from Making Fiends is an elementary school kid who isolates herself from the rest of the class and makes fiends to sic on anyone who makes her mad...which is everyone. Her name should give you a clue. She also speaks in a weird, gravelly voice that has what is likely a Bulgarian accent.
  • Little Joel from Lawn Justice seems innocent at first, but (he's actually responsible for all the destruction in the series). Mommy's little hero.
  • Kari from Mari Kari Mari's undead twin sister who murders anyone who makes her upset.
    • Mari is unnaturally cheerful, not letting the mysterious horrible deaths of everyone who's even slightly mean to her or the general hatred and contempt seemingly everyone holds for her ever get her down.

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