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Faux Horrific

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Spoony: Can't we come up with something new and original for an evil computer to do other than launch nukes and crash the stock market? Something legitimately scary? Guys, please, I'm begging ya'.
Professor Roswell: He could make... Gary Coleman President.

A comedy trope where something is played up to be terrifying, and it clearly is not. It's not even something that sets off a common phobia. Sometimes the scene is shot like a horror film. Bonus points if the "Psycho" Strings are playing.

Advertisements can do this, to show how either not using the product or using a rival product can be horrific. This trope can also be used to emphasize how disgusting a school lunch is.

Often a Caustic Critic will do this with finding out he has to review some works he really hates, as a way to show that Suckiness Is Painful. Sometimes, even just holding the work in hand is enough to cause emotional scars. Often happens when a character has an Irritation Nightmare, too.

A Super-Trope to Place Worse Than Death.

Compare Absurd Phobia, Cool and Unusual Punishment, Evil Cannot Stand Cuteness, Felony Misdemeanor, Lightmare Fuel, Screaming at Squick, Nightmare Retardant, Mundane Ghost Story, Comical Overreacting, Trivial Tragedy, Mock Surprise Reaction, Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking, Played for Horror, and Anything but That!.

Contrast Accidental Nightmare Fuel, Failed Attempt at Scaring and Fridge Horror (portrayed as not scary, but ends up being so). Compare and Contrast Mundane Horror.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Angel Densetsu does this all the time, since its premise is that its good-hearted, gentle main character is scary to everyone around him.
  • FLCL: Kitsurubami thinks Commander Amarao looks weird with his fake Big Ol' Eyebrows, but seeing one fall off leaves her almost shrieking.
  • In episode 2 of Season 2 of K-On!, after cleaning out the closet of the music room, Mio and Asuza find out that Yui left a lot of things behind and get mad at her. Yui pouts and claims that Ui would get mad and make a scary face if the latter brought more stuff home. Cut to a "scary" Ui giving a thumbs up to Yui, after the latter had dropped other stuff she took home earlier and apologized profusely. Both Mio and Asuza wonder if Ui isn't the older, more responsible sister after all.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki has a nightmare about the squalor Haruhi might be living in. The part that his nightmare treats as the most horrifying is when Haruhi reveals that she bought sushi from the supermarket instead of ordering it from a restaurant. When he and the other host club members visit Haruhi later on, it's revealed that the apartment she lives in is small but still clean and well-kept.
  • An episode of Sailor Moon does this with going to the dentist. Usagi and her daughter from the future imagined it to be practically going to a serial killer's house. Then it's subverted when the dentist is revealed to be legitimately dangerous, being a Monster of the Week.

    Asian Animation 
  • Mechamato: Amato, Deep and MechaBot are terrified to realise they are trapped in a library and desperately try to unlock the door, much to Mara's annoyance.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Infinite Halloween Special: What Lobo sees when he's attacked by the villainess Phobia (who has fear-inducing powers): A little puppy, sitting on his shoulder. His reaction, reproduced here verbatim, is "AAAAAHHH!"
  • Deadpool Vol 1 #45: Deadpool dramatically unmasks to show what Christopher Priest (comics) did to him: His face... is perfectly fine. But the other characters present exclaim that he has disfigured Deadpool (one of them remarks it's "worse than the Goat Incident"). It could be a Self Deprecating reference to Canon Defilement.
  • The Incredible Hercules: Phobos, god of fear, coerces Pluto to open a portal to his realm for him by showing him the most horrifying thing he could ever imagine: Cuddly ponies and teddy bears.
    Phobos: And then a children's rock band arrives...
    Pluto: No! I yield!
  • Marvel Adventures:
    • In Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, Venom threatens to reveal Spider-Man's greatest secret to the world. No, not his secret identity, he doesn't care about that. But he will reveal to Liz Allan who REALLY wrote all those secret admirer notes in her locker. Spider-Man treats it like a Fate Worse than Death.
    • In Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #10, Ant-Man's ants turn on the TV in order to watch a so-called 'horror documentary' on the Discovering Channel. Naturally, it turns out to be a documentary about ant-eaters.
  • Not Brand Echh: the Marvel superheroes react to the coming of the dread Forbush Man with utter horror. For reference, Forbush Man is a guy wearing tattered red tights and a frying pan. This seems to be a trend with Marvel's comedy books, as the Watcher reacted similarly to the contents of What If? #34.
    Uatu: If only I could violate my sacred trust and again meddle in human affairs, I would save you from this!
  • Wonder Woman: In the fourth wall-breaking backup story in Wonder Woman #158, the characters are all dreading editor Robert Kanigher's coming decision and who he will choose to Ret-Gone for the sake of raising the sales. One can never know what such a man might do - after all, he wears a yellow bowtie!
    Random Amazon background character: MERCIFUL MINERVA! A yellow bowtie? Genghis Khan wore a yellow bowtie! We're doomed! Doomed! DOOMED!

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot:
    • Back when Apple released the first iMac, nerdy kid Jason dressed up as one for Halloween. His brother Peter didn't understand how it was supposed to be scary, to which Jason replied "I have no floppy drive!" which quickly reduces Peter to a quivering wreck.
    • Roger is utterly terrified of the Halloween decorations Jason puts up. Not the spiders or ghosts; the fake credit cards with his teenage daughter Paige's name on them.
    • Don't forget this line: "...and when she opened the closet door, all the clothes were polyester!"
    • One Halloween, Jason obtains massive amounts of candy by dressing up as a Blue Screen of Death. Jason then says that he "should send Microsoft some of this [candy]".
      Jason: A fatal exception 0e has occurred.
      Man: AAAA!
      Jason: The current application will be terminated.
      Man: AAAA!
      Jason: Press any key to continue.
      Man: Here! Take it all! Just go away! Please!
    • One of Jason's nightmares has him taking an extremely easy math test.
    • One of Paige's nightmares is acing a test only to realize she is Jason.
  • Garfield:
    • There's this:
      Jon: {reading a book labeled "Scary Stories"} Then the zombie crept closer and closer!
      Garfield: Lame.
      Jon: Then he broke down the door and walked into the house!
      Garfield: Ooohh, I'm so scared.
      Jon: And he ate the last of the roast turkey.
      Garfield: OH NO!
    • And this:
      Garfield: Welcome to Garfield's Horror Theater.
      Garfield (cont.): WE'RE OUT OF COOKIES!
      Garfield (cont. again): You've been watching Garfield's Horror Theater.
    • And when cleaning out the fridge:
      Garfield ...mutating over untold eons, gradually achieving consciousness...until that terrible day when it is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.....THE COLESLAW THAT TIME FORGOT!!! AAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"
    • The Halloween 2022 strip has Garfield, Odie and Jon scream in response to seeing a horror film that takes place before pizza delivery was a thing.

    Fan Works 
  • The Chosen Four: The ghosts in the tunnel scare our heroes and the Runaway Five with ADVANCED CALCULUS and a COPY OF SUPERMAN 64! "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!"
  • Taya in Diaries of a Madman views getting dressed up like this. After being forced to do so for the Gala, you'd almost think the girl went through a war zone.
  • In Green Tea Rescue: Eri reflects on her telling her brother Toshi the story of how their parents became heroes, and that as much as she dreads telling him about the fighting and the blood, she knows he would be just as (or more) horrified about the kissing and hand-holding and stuff.
  • Harveste Addams And The Prisoner Of Azkaban: Harveste reacts this way when his boggart turns into a scene involving fresh air, happy music, flowers, and kittens. It takes one and a half bottles of Vodka to calm him down.
    "Don't tease me so, darling." Harry moaned, desperately burying his hands into black lace and chiffon to try and forget. "It was the most horribly disgusting thing I've ever seen. The fresh air…the music…the flowers…"
    It took a bottle and a half of strongest vodka before Harry could control himself, but he twitched every time someone even mentioned cats.
  • Atticus in Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail shudders when he tells Chloe the horrors of "The Ball Pit Car". While Chloe laughs at it, any fan of Infinity Train will tell you that "The Ball Pit Car" is not something to take lightly.
  • Infinity Train: Boiling Point has Luz initially worried about failing her Bard test because they're told if they fail, The Bat Queen will eat them. When Skara clarifies that this will only send them to Another Dimension where a smaller Bat Queen will lecture them on what they did wrong, Luz says she wishes she'd get eaten alive now.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: When Jaune visits Nora in the hospital after she was heavily injured during the Breach, Nora is reduced to Inelegant Blubbering and begs Jaune to get her out of there... because the hospital had been feeding her vegetables and applesauce. When a confused Jaune attempts to console her by saying that applesauce doesn't taste that bad, she only cries into his chest even harder.
  • Juleka vs. the Forces of the Universe: Andre is utterly aghast when Juleka places an order at his ice-cream cart rather than letting him craft his sweetheart ice cream for her. Her friends are similarly horrified at the prospect of her choosing what kind of ice cream she wants for herself... though this bravery inspires Marinette to place their own order.
  • Kingdom Hearts Ψ: The Seeker of Darkness: In Re:Adjustments, when Kairi initiates a prank war after getting annoyed with whoever keeps finishing off the coffee pot without making more for the next person, Sora and Riku start desperately begging her not to, before imploring whoever did it to fess up before it's too late. The thing is, not only are all the pranks completely harmless, Kairi and her allies immediately agree they have no have no interest in injuring or emotionally hurting anyone, though they do have no qualms about pranking people they've already eliminated from suspicion such as Sora and Roxas due to Rule of Fun.
  • Little Hands, Big Attitude: Mephiles, being deaged to a baby and a Fish out of Water, is completely terrified of the mighty beast that lives in the house of his adoptive family... which is Ozzie the golden retriever.
  • In Path To Munchies's April Fools Omake, Amy and Lisa are terrified to see Taylor and Victoria bonding.
  • At the end of Sonic and the Death Cheese, Sonic runs and screams from Tails innocently offering cheese sandwiches.
  • Tealove's Steamy Adventure does this twice in one scene. First, Big Jim brushes Snowcatcher's mane, and her reaction is "You monster! My mane’s already fabulous! I don’t need your help!" Later, Big Jim hosts a tea party. Tealove takes one sip and spits the tea out, and says:
    “What is this?” she said, wiping her mouth off.
    “It’s tea, silly!” Libra took another sip from her own cup.
    “No, this isn’t! This is a crime against taste. This is an abomination. This is the stuff that tea growers tell campfire horror stories about!” She sniffed her cup, then recoiled. “Oh Celestia, he really did it. He reheated cold tea.”
  • Chapter 59 of You Got HaruhiRolled! is called "The Scariest Chapter Yet". It's only scary if you think the edited translations of 4Kids Entertainment are frightening instead of silly. Further cementing this trope is that the chapter was written as the Grand Finale of a special week of horror-story chapters in the lead-up to Halloween.
  • This video, in which the narrator has the same reaction to the first three episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as someone did to Boku No Piko, complete with the speaker being so traumatized he believes himself to be The Soulless.
  • A Dash of Logic: In the rewritten "One Coarse Meal", Plankton gets payback on Mr. Krabs by capturing the latter and forcing him to watch as Plankton destroys dollar bills. Of course, this is Mr. Krabs we're talking about, so seeing money being destroyed is his greatest fear.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Emperor's New Groove parodies this trope during the Pacha and Kuzco's final confrontation with Yzma. She hikes her skirt up, causing both men to scream in terror, only for her to reveal that she's actually drawing a wicked dagger from a thigh sheath. They both immediately calm down.
  • Monsters, Inc. offers a variation on the old canard, "He's more scared of you than you are of him." Namely, the monsters are all convinced that children are the most dangerous things in the world. "There is nothing more toxic or deadly than a human child!" Seeing as monsters use children's screams as a power source, their fear is somewhat understandable. How would you feel if a rod of active plutonium started following you around and calling you "Kitty"?
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation: The earth ponies of Maretime Bay are sent running and screaming in terror at the sight of adorable, friend-seeking, and cheerful Izzy Moonbow as if she were an evil fiend. Justified, considering the incredible Fantastic Racism that now divides the pony types.
  • Tarzan: Tantor, a Nervous Wreck of a Cowardly Elephant, freaks out at all the man-made objects he sees in the Porters' camp when he goes there for the first time, including such eldritch horrors as clocks, tents, and—GASP!—a tea set!!!
  • Trolls World Tour: When pointing out how different the other Troll tribes are compared to the Pop Trolls, King Peppy mentions that some are so different they can't even grasp the concept of Hammer Time. Cue a shot of Pop Trolls dancing to "U Can't Touch This" with horrified looks on their faces and promptly panicking.
    Legsly: You can't touch that!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Doctor Who Made-for-TV Movie has two examples within about five minutes:
    • First, the newly-regenerated Doctor is set up to be kind of scary, with the whole Finger-Twitching Revival, Barrier-Busting Blow thing when he wakes up at the morgue, and then he's shown wide-eyed, shivering, and clutching a shroud around himself. Also, he's rather short, skinny, and cute. Nonetheless, the morgue attendant does a Girly Man Faint when he sees him.
    • Then, when the Doctor goes to remedy his no-clothing situation, he finds a Nixon Mask in someone's locker. He flinches and there's a Scare Chord.
  • Addams Family Values:
    • Wednesday clearly knows her audience at summer camp, because when pressed to continue a ghost story, she has the evil spirit prove its power by giving the heroes of the ghost story back their old noses. The shallow preteen socialites scream in horror at the thought.
    • Later, Wednesday's fellow outcast Joel Glicker is sentenced to the "Harmony Hut" (along with Wednesday and Pugsley), which is adorned from wall to wall with the most Sickeningly Sweet images imaginable, all designed to break non-conformists. Joel instantly bursts into a screaming fit upon seeing a Michael Jackson "Heal the World" poster.
  • Barbie (2023): Stereotypical Barbie's existential crisis cements itself when her feet go from always on tiptoes to flat on the ground. Upon seeing them, the assorted Barbies scream "FLAT FEET!", shriek in horror, and retch (they can't actually vomit). They stop when a nearby Ken joins in on the retching.
  • At the end of Paddington (2014), the villain is sentenced to an unspecified amount of hours of community service at a local petting zoo as punishment. She reacts as if she's been sentenced to death after hours of torture, complete with Dutch Angle and Big "NO!" screams of "No, anything but that!" She really hates petting zoos.
  • The A Fistful of Yen sketch in The Kentucky Fried Movie has tinpot asian dictator Dr. Khlan exile a CIA agent to Detroit. The agent acts like he's been sentenced to 10 lashes and being dipped in lemon juice.

  • In My Godawful Life, a parody of Misery Lit, all characters react with extreme horror at the mention of Northumberland (a county in the north of England.) Being forced to live there is described as far and away the most horrific event in the main character's life, even though he has suffered every misfortune and indignity imaginable. The author has said in interviews that this is a Take That! at the "Wife in the North" blog, written by a woman who had moved from London to Northumberland with her family.
  • In the Discworld books, the males of the Nac Mac Feegle (who outnumber the females about 100 to 1) live in fear of such feminine wiles as "the foldin' o' the arms", "the pursin' o' the lips", and "the tappin' o' the feet". Tiffany uses these tricks in Wintersmith when confronting them about stealing food from an elderly witch's "going-away party", and can't help but burst out laughing at the frenzy of guilt the Feegles work themselves into.
  • Journey to Chaos: When Tiza offends Mia, the receptionist threatens to send Tiza on the most horrifying of missions — trying on dresses for a seamstress! Tiza immediately apologizes.
  • In the Historical Romance Nicola and the Viscount, an upper-class mother threatens to send her daughter to Surrey (away from the bastion of socializing and sophistication that is the capital city). The horrified daughter replies;
    "Surrey? What on earth would I do in Surrey?!"
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy, while observing tortures in the Fields of Punishment, notes that one of the punishments is being forced to listen to opera music.
  • Angela Nicely: In “Starstruck!”, Angela sneaks into her favourite boy band’s dressing room, and fears they’ll call security, the police, or Mrs. Nicely, the latter of which she feels is the worst.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Married... with Children, Peg redecorates the bathroom, and Al finds all the pink terrifying. He looks at some photos and instead sees the Grim Reaper. At one point in the episode, there's a POV shot of Al inspecting the bathroom, in a manner similar to the shower scene in Psycho. It ends with him fainting at the sight of knitted cozies on the toilet seat.
  • An episode of My Family has Ben react this way when Susan plays the cello after Janey moves out. The music causes him to back into a corner, making the cross sign with his fingers.
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, the gang visit a hippie-run resort, and when they find out there's no meat or alcohol available, their reactions come complete with a Scare Chord.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The episode It Lives by Night begins with Mike showing the bots paint samples as they prepare to redecorate the satellite a bit. The bots have humorously weird reactions to the first colors, including one supposedly the color of dried blood that is said to make the viewer mad. (Tom: "I think it would be perfect for the can!") Both are frightened to the point of hiding, however, by the eggshell sample.
      Mike: Good. That'll keep 'em out of my bippy.
    • The opening skit for The Rebel Set has the bots pestering Joel to tell them a really scary story — Joel perhaps goes too far, reading excerpts from "Life's Little Instruction Book", leaving the two whimpering in terror. Dr. Forrester added his two cents worth;
      That's nothing, Joel. Stephen King said, "I have seen the future of horror and it's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten!"
    • The series in general runs on this trope, with a lot of the humor coming from Joel/Mike and the bots' over-the-top horrified reactions to the bad movies they watch. Even the Mads get in on the Faux Horrific action, such as with their reactions to the legendarily awful movies Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Beast of Yucca Flats, and Hobgoblins.
  • The Good Place:
    • A Running Gag is that the Bad Place is filled with classic torture, but also more mundane frustrations like college improv, children's dance recitals, and neverending franchise film sequels.
    • When deciding on an eternal punishment for Michael, Shawn opts to lock him in an empty room for eternity with only a large stack of New Yorker magazines for entertainment. He asks Bad Janet to fart in the room, the smell of which would linger for ten million years.
    • When contemplating what their punishments will be like in the Bad Place, Eleanor believes she'll be forced to be camping all the time, Jason thinks he'll be at a dance club waiting for a bass drop that will never come, and Tahani thinks she'll be forced to spend eternity in the Swiss Alps — during the off season.
  • Shining Time Station: In one episode, the characters find Schemer distressed because he found a slug in one of his arcade machines.
  • X-Play did a review of a Disney Princess game as though it was the most horrifying game ever. They even interpreted Belle saying an outfit could melt Beast's heart as meaning it was so horrible, it would liquefy your internal organs.
  • In the remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Jeff and Jeannie are shown various sinister experiments in the laboratories of the PAIN corporation, before they are shown something we don't initially see. Creepy music is played until their guide nonchalantly introduces the room as "...the gym".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • In "The Spanish Inquisition", the Inquisitors have an unusual idea of torture involving comfortable furniture, soft cushions, and breaks for beverages.
      Ximenez: Cardinal Fang! Fetch... THE COMFY CHAIR!
    • In the "Piranha Brothers" sketch, Luigi Vercotti is being interviewed about Doug Piranha. When asked what Doug's methods of brutality were, Luigi's eyes grow wide with the horror as he recounts "He used...sarcasm!"
      Luigi: He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and...satire. He was vicious.
    • A sketch exclusive to their "Matching Tie and Handkerchief" album is a dramatic narration of an occurrence where there was emphatically no mayhem, violence, or other criminal activity whatever, narrated with an ominous, emphatic voice and plenty of alarming background music.
  • A The Kids in the Hall sketch has some office workers becoming sick over innocent things like someone licking a stamp, or the name Mel. Interestingly, the idea of eating cow brains or licking the belly of a bloated dead rat does not bother them.
  • A Touch of Cloth: At a crime scene, both Oldman and Cloth nearly throw up when they see a framed photograph of Piers Morgan.
  • This Morning With Richard Not Judy: This trope was used in the weekly "Richard Herring's Food and Milk" segment of the show where Richard Herring would try an unusual milk such as shrew, American Beaver or the milk of human kindness. Once the milk that Richard would be sampling was named, a documentary style clip was played to illustrate, over which loud stock horror music was played.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch gave us David S. Pumpkins, a character on a 100 Floors of Frights ride who said he was going to "scare the hell out of you", but who only confused the people on the ride because he was so random.
  • Doctor Who. In "Resolution", the Recon Dalek diverts all the power in the UK to send a signal to the Dalek fleet to invade Earth, knocking out the internet in the process.
    The Doctor: Whoa! That Dalek just shut down the whole of Britain's internet.
    Graham: What, on New Year's Day? When everything's shut and everyone's hung over?
    Ryan: What a monster!
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had Titus getting some money by singing backing vocals for a Conspiracy Theorist's songs. He is willing to ignore the content and collect his paycheck, until one song offends him so much he wants to quit. It turns out to be a lowbrow beach-pop song called "Boobs in California".
  • Wednesday has the title character going on a date, where the guy, showing some knowledge of the Goth Creepy Loner Girl, decides to screen what he describes as a scary movie... Legally Blonde. And indeed, Wednesday is visibly horrified, and once the movie ends she remarks "That was torture. Thank you."
  • Young Sheldon: In "A Political Campaign and a Candy Land Cheater", Sheldon ultimately defeats Nell by revealing her darkest secret — she's not actually a Texan; she was born in New York and she even now has a Yankees pennant in her room.

  • Bad Lip Reading did a Gag Dub of Mark Zuckerberg's Congressional hearing where a senator describes Mark's odd-looking smile as "just horrible" and begs him not to do that for the rest of the day.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: A horror-themed sketch with Vincent Price ends with the reveal that, at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, Vincent Price's character turns into...Jack Parnell (the show's composer). The rest of the cast flee screaming from his rendition of "Auld Lang Syne".

  • An episode of soccer-based BBC comedy Lenin of the Rovers features an Apocalypse Now parody in which the Colonel Kurtz character is driven insane not by the horrors of Vietnam, but by witnessing the (real-life) occasion when English soccer player Jeff Astle missed an open goal against Brazil in the 1970 World Cup on the TV in a G.I. bar.
    Ricky Lenin: The horror! The horror!
    Colonel Harris: I relive that miss every day, Mister Lenin.
    Ricky: As does Jeff Astle, I should imagine. On his way to work with his ladder, his bucket of soapy water and his shammy leather.

  • In Jasper in Deadland, Persephone's noble sacrifice to let Jasper and Agnes go back is...spending one day extra with Pluto, who's completely overjoyed and plans super fun activities.

    Video Games 
  • Occurs in BattleBlock Theater on a few occasions with the Lemony Narrator. Since the game is presented as a cutout puppet-show in the cutscenes, there are often references to terror and horror (along with warnings) followed by totally underwhelming visuals.
    "WUSH-USH-USH-USH! Huge waves smashed the boat, to and fro, fro and to! [...] And there was this huge whale, like WAAAAAAH! and made it super scary! And I think there was a shark! There it is! Oh God!"
  • In The Binding of Isaac, most things that happen to Isaac are actually horrific. However, one of his traumatizing memories is of a moment in which he was going to the bathroom and noticed there was no toilet paper left. His horrified reaction is the same as when he is actually being tortured.
  • In Borderlands 2 DLC, at one point, you are tasked with telling a baby something terrible in order to make it cry. (It Makes Sense in Context, kind of.) The problem is that the Vault Hunters are Bunny Ears Lawyers who don't process the world in the same way as most people, leading to the most terrible things they can think of being things like:
    Zer0: Life is very short. / One day you will grow older. / And then you will die.
    Gaige: Ugh. Country music exists.
    Salvador: Sometimes you'll be, like, hungry? But there won't be any food around, so you'll have to, like, get up and go all the way to the store and buy some.
  • In The Curse of Monkey Island:
    • Guybrush is afraid of porcelain. He says “When will this nightmare end!”
    • And Skull Island:
      Guybrush: That's a duck!
      Boatman: What?! Can't you see the skull?
      Guybrush: It actually looks like a duck.
      Boatman: Well, okay... but if you turn and look it like this then... ooooooooooooo... it looks sooooo scary!
      Guybrush: Actually it now looks like a rabbit...
  • Death Road to Canada: The "TRUE DESPAIR" event has your group of survivors coming across an unopened box of government rations...with dog poop on the handle. Unless you have a character who is Oblivious, an animal, a Friend of Dog or has a high Attitude stat, opening the box will cause a PERMANENT drop in morale.
    (flashing text) THIS COULD BE A BIG DEAL
  • Fable: The Warden of Bargate Prison picks one inmate per year to take to his private office and subject to a fate that even hardened criminals, inured to the Prison's normal tortures, fear to name...
    Warden: One of my world-famous poetry readings! [The Hero recoils in horror]
  • In the "Teeth of Naros" DLC for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the Dwindling Party trope kicks in when the expedition the player has joined stumbles across the corpse of a recently killed Kollossae. The sight of a giant humanoid "statue" with blood and viscera leaking out of it freaks out the hired mage so much that he promptly turns and runs away, whilst even the expedition leader is unnerved by this sight. This reaction would make sense... except that Jottun and Trolls are already well-known monsters in the lands the expedition has come from, and they both have a very similar appearance — trolls in particular are essentially fae Elemental Embodiments of rock.
  • In Psychonauts, Sasha Nein is training Raz to use his Psy-Blast power, providing him with a target range to learn the basics. The targets he chose? Something so hideous and horrible, something so disgusting that it simply must die: Tacky stained-glass lamps!
    "Ugh, it's so tacky, I can't... look... directly... at it!"
  • In Puyo Puyo Tetris Ringo is terrified after witnessing the horrifying event of... Tetrimino blocks disappearing after falling into a line.
  • Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion consists of you walking through a "haunted" house while cardboard cutouts of cutesy monsters occasionally pop out of the walls with a Scare Chord. The computers you can find in certain rooms say that they have managed to kill four people by giving them heart attacks. Also, this trope is subverted starting with room 50, where you start to encounter real, dangerous and scary monsters.


    Web Original 
  • NCHProductions: In "MHWorld Shots: [[Arch-Tempered Zorah in a Nutshell]]", Zorah Magdaros is apparently too terrified to move by Nergigante doing the Default Dance on its back.
  • The SCP Foundation has quite a few examples, mostly joke SCPs:
    • SCP-006-J are a bunch of normal insects considered to be Keter by the entomophobic researchers.
    • SCP-5308-J are a bunch of normal objects (some granite, a piece of paper, a pen, a cat, and a young boy) with extremely complex security protocols.
  • The Spoony Experiment does this all the time. As a particularly overblown example, one episode has Spoony coming back to take back his show from his clone... until he realizes that he'd have to review Final Fantasy X, and is Driven to Suicide from the terror.
  • The Nostalgia Critic does this a few times, like the reveal that Good Burger would be his next review.
  • Like Spoony and Critic mentioned above, Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation constantly employs this trope as part of his general Accentuate the Negative tactics, often explaining in detail the excessive and disgusting bout of self-mutilation brought on by the latest game. Though unlike those two, he tends to do so in a deadpan tone of voice.
  • The Nostalgia Chick has been known to scream or recoil in terror by what she has to review. Such as the time a frog in tits and heels came onscreen in Thumbelina.
  • JonTron spoofed Final Fantasy XIII and its linearity in this video.
    "The game's playing itself, Jon. The game's playing itself, Jon!"
  • Uncyclopedia parodies an infamous shock video, describing something involving two girls getting off on a "horrific, shocking perversion of mathematical law."
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse: Raquelle fails to enjoy getting dragged to Barbie's camping trip after mistaking butterflies, daisies, and Blissa the housecat for killer bees, poison ivy, and a bear, respectively. Though, when Raquelle finds an actual bear in the jacuzzi, she decides not to freak out about it.
  • The "2spooky" internet meme consists of people taking various pictures of skeletons and acting like they are the most horrifying thing in the world.
  • Perhaps fittingly seeing above, the TGWTG txt account boasts tales of terror from said fandom but instead of sexism or anything else the producers complain about, it just has mundane quotes from women thinking the conventionally attractive men are attractive and fanfic quotes that the site has often encouraged.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In the episode "Derp and Destruction", the cast remains "on the verge of panic!" due to a visit by a creepy postman... with a letter for them.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the Strong Bad Email "date", the Cheat is scared off by a crude cardboard cut-out of a Bear Holding a Shark.
    • The 2015 Halloween cartoon "The House that Gave Sucky Tricks" is loaded with this. Homestar's haunted house has attractions like a handkerchief made to look like a ghost, a tennis racket decorated to look like a monster, a pile of "scary shoes" (not to be confused with the "spooky shoes"), and an incomplete jigsaw puzzle (which seems to actually scare the Cheat). Meanwhile, Strong Bad imagines up "St. Cadaverstump's Totally Not Just an Old Furniture Warehouse Morgue-tuary", with such attractions as the Horrible Painting of Somebody's Dad, a room that smells like "Strong Mad oyster-smoothie-breath-caked-armpit-latte", a crappy two-star bed-and-breakfast, and "the new face of terror, Large Bean!"
  • Google Translate Sings gives us this line in its version of "Bohemian Rhapsody":
    "Oh my God! No! You do not need to go to the United States!"
  • The Hobo Bros do this a lot. One example is their video on "Barney's Hide and Seek Game", where they make up a backstory about Barney being a Satanic Creepy Doll, and react with mock horror with almost everything Barney does in-game.
  • SuperMarioLogan:
    • "Bowser's Biggest Fear 3" has the movie "No Milk", where the protagonist absolutely panics and even calls 911 because there's no milk for his cereal.
    • "Jeffy's Scary Movie" has Jeffy watching an R rated horror film titled The Scary Clown, which is about a scary looking birthday clown that... hits party guests with balloon swords (to which they react like he hit them with a blunt instrument), cuts the cake (something that is supposed to be done at parties), pops balloons (which upsets the guests, including a woman who reacts to her wiener dog balloon being popped as if the clown killed an actual dog she owned), chases after the birthday boy blowing a horn, and shoots him with confetti. Jeffy is horrified.
  • RWBY Chibi: An In-Universe example where several characters are debating on what to watch. Ruby wants to see the horror movie Dog Rain, where a bunch of adorable puppies fall from the sky. The others question how that qualifies as horror, and are unimpressed with Ruby's explanation that the heroine doesn't get to keep the puppies.
  • Stuart Ashen once reviewed a bunch of figures from the Toxic Mutants/Monsta Fizz toy line, which mostly consisted of a bunch of bizarrely designed Mix-and-Match Critters, aliens, and monsters packaged in jars of slime. At one point he brings out a figure of a normal looking woman that doesn't match the other characters at all, prompting this exchange with Harry Partridge:
    Stuart: We open one up and it's just a woman. That's it, like Marilyn from The Munsters. Is she supposed to be a victim of the other characters?
    Harry: I did scream for four hours when you originally pulled it out of the slime, but that's settled down now considerably.
    Stuart: I tend to do that anyway.
  • ContraPoints steps into the persona of hammy late-night horror hostess Lenora LaVey early in her video "Pronouns", to revel in the destruction brought forth by using gender-identity appropriate pronouns:
    "And THEN, my dreadful dears, the Western World shall surely succumb to renewable energy, affordable healthcare, and VIDEO GAMES FOR LESBIANS!!!" (bursts into evil laughter)

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: A robber holds up a gas station with only a spoon, which the other characters think is a lethal weapon. When he gets caught in the end, the cop laughs it off.
  • An episode of the Animaniacs sees the Warner Siblings end up in Hell, where Satan threatens to punish them by subjecting with "an agony worse than all others" for an eternity, namely by forcing them to listen to "whiny protest songs from the 60's". The siblings scream and cringe in horror at the prospect.
    Oh, I hate the government
    More than you hate me
    The government stole my goldfish
    And unplugged my TV!
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: In "The Bot Fighter", this is how the group reacts to a video of Yama dancing. It's perfectly benign, but they react like they just saw him naked or something.
  • Throughout Beetlejuice, the titular Ghost with the Most revels in things like eating insects and disgusting "grooming habits" (phrase used very loosely here) but is horrified and almost physically repelled by classically "cute" things that he can't corrupt in some way.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • A big part of the show's comedy is mixing this trope with Serious Business and a child's perspective. Things like a trip to the dentist, running out of breakfast cereal, or piano lessons are treated as if they're crimes against humanity as opposed to minor inconveniences.
    • In "Operation: U.N.C.O.O.L.", Sector V squares off against "nerd zombies" and deals with a Dwindling Party as they're captured. At the end, it's revealed that anyone who's caught by the nerds is subjected to the horrific fate of...being forced to watch Doctor Timespace and the Continuums, a Doctor Who Expy.
      Doctor Timespace: The black hole's power has created an alternate universe, where everyone is purple and Fridays are Opposite Day!
      Numbuh Five: Turn it off! Please, please turn it off! IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S PURE, turn it offffffff!
  • Family Guy:
    • "Baby Not on Board": Stewie finds a Hustler and, upon seeing a picture of a fully nude woman, he screams in terror and shoots the magazine with a machine gun.
    • Quagmire tells a Ghost Story about a man whose lover is still in bed with him the morning after. And worse yet, she wanted to make him eggs! And introduce him to her kid!! The horror. The bachelor horror.
    • Let's don't forget the Cutaway Gag where Peter got shocked of fear after wathcing Mannequin.
  • Freakazoid!:
    • The scariest thing in the world would be if they gave Sinbad another show. Government agencies have been established to prevent it from ever occurring again.
      • Or if you went to reach for something... but it wasn't there. Because it turned into wood!
      • Or if you were stupid enough to say "Candle Jack" and then he kidnapped you're not very nice. I'm quite scary. Also, I'm going to need some more rope.
    • One episode has Freakazoid showing an enemy car (not the driver, the car) a television airing a seven-hour special with Tony Danza. The engine promptly self-detonated rather than have to deal with that.
    • There was also the time that Guitierrez tortured Dexter's family by making them watch The Best of Marty Ingles.
  • Futurama
    • Farnsworth is rescued from a Lotus-Eater Machine at the Near Death Star. He describes what it's like as thus: "It was as though I were living in a facility in Florida with hundreds of other old people. All day long we'd play bingo, eat oatmeal and wait for our children to call." Cue gasps of horror from the crew.
      Leela: It's a hundred times more horrible than anything I could imagine.
    • In "War is the H-Word", a ball alien tells a story that, judging by his tone of voice, is supposed to be a Scare 'Em Straight story:
      The elders tell of a young ball much like you. First, he bounced 3 meters in the air. Then he bounced 1.8 meters in the air. Then he bounced 4 meters in the air. Do I make myself clear?
    • There's also Bender's campfire story in one episode, but on Bender's word it's only this trope if you're a human:
      Bender: Even though the computer was off and unplugged... an image stayed on the screen! It was... THE WINDOWS LOGO!!!
      Fry: That isn't scary!
      Bender: It is if you're a laser printer.
  • Garfield and Friends :
    • "Uncle Roy to the Rescue" opens with Wade doing a Wild Take, fleeing, and hiding in a trashcan because he got a free sample of soap in the mail. Roy has a similar overreaction when he finds out his niece Chloe is coming for a visit.
    • "Monday Misery": Garfield freaks out when he learns that it's Monday, his least favorite day of the week, and does all he can to escape from its wrath — including moving to Samoa, only to learn that, thanks to the International Date Line, it's still Monday. Oops. The opening begins with a mock horror movie trailer, complete with "Psycho" Strings:
      Announcer: From the people that brought you the terror of Wednesday and the horror of Friday...
      Housewife: The kids'll be home all weekend! AAAAAGH!
      Announcer: ...comes the day invented just to make the rest of the week seem good... MONDAY!
  • Gravity Falls:
    • "The Inconveniencing": Stan gives out a Big "NO!" when he loses the remote and has to watch the Black and White Period Piece Old Lady Boring Movie Channel film "The Duchess Approves" (or, alternatively, stand up from his chair and try to find the remote). Subverted, as he's later shown to enjoy the film.
    • In the same episode, the ghosts haunting the abandoned convenience store are revealed to be an elderly couple who died from simultaneous heart attacks brought on by the "shocking" and "hateful" lyrics of the rap music some local teens played outside their store. Said lyrics:
      Rap music: Homework's whack, and so are rules! Tuckin' in your shirt's for fools!
      Pa: NOOOO!!! (both he and Ma die)
    • "Dungeons Dungeons and More Dungeons" sees Grenda having a freak out over the sight of graphed paper.
    • Preston Northwest staked his whole fortune on Bill Cypher's continued dominance during "Weirdmageddon" and lost it when (relative) normality is restored. He had to sell his extremely valuable house to regain some money, so his family just went from obscenely wealthy to very well-off. He reacts like he had become utterly destitute. His family didn't take the news any better (his daughter Pacifica is horrified upon learning she can't keep more than one pony).
  • Daria: Quinn tries to tell a scary story:
    Quinn: So Cinderella said, "I can't go to the ball in these rags." And her Fairy Godmother waved her wand and behold, she was wearing a gown of silver and gold. Big, clunky silver and gold sequins, like you wouldn't wear to one of those 70s nostalgia proms, much less a formal party at a palace! And when she went to check out herself in the mirror, the one that usually made her look thin? Instead, she looked bloated!
    Helen: Quinn, honey, is this really a scary story?
    Quinn: Wait! I haven't gotten to the shoes yet!
  • Invader Zim: Zig-zagged in "A Room with a Moose". Zim decides to send Dib and his classmates through a wormhole into a room with a moose. Initially, Dib appears to be terrified but soon realizes that a moose is not particularly frightening.
    Dib: Noooo! (Beat) Wait a minute, did you say moose?
    Zim: Yes, your fear is overwhelming, no?
    Dib: Um, no. What's so scary about a room with a stupid moose in it?
    • Then, upon watching the moose eat some walnuts, Dib becomes inexplicably horrified and determined to escape the wormhole at all costs.
  • Mike, Lu & Og: Mike has a flashback to her life in Manhattan where she reveals that she's always hated going shoe shopping, describing it as if it was a claustrophobic nightmare.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The ponies are terrified of the Everfree Forest, where plants grow wild, animals care for themselves, and the weather changes all on its own.note  There are legitimately dangerous creatures living here, but this "wild" status is still considered the scariest.
    • "Applebuck Season": The bunny stampede... "The horror... the horror!"
    • "Bridle Gossip": Everypony is terrified of Zecora because she has stripes (she's a zebra), digs at the ground (a natural zebra habit), and "lurks around the shops", when she's just trying to buy medicine but the stores all close down whenever she comes around since ponies are so terrified of her. Twilight points out how ridiculous everypony is being. Not that anypony listens, or, when the truth comes out, acknowledges that Twilight was right.
    • "Read It and Weep": Rainbow Dash has this reaction when she realizes she likes reading.
    • "Magic Duel": Trixie uses her magic to torment various ponies via Body Horror (giving Rainbow Dash uneven wings, attaching Snips and Snails together by the horn, etc.) Then when she targets Rarity, she merely forces her to wear a tacky dress. Rarity's response? Faint. In general, this is Rarity's response to almost anything tacky.
    • "Maud Pie": Rainbow Dash's reaction when Maud says she isn't into winning is a horrified gasp.
    • "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?": The Tantabus warps the ponies' dreams into nightmares by making something they love become a monster. Rainbow Dash is already fighting Changelings in her dream, so what's her nightmare? ''Flowers singing to the tune of "This Old Man" while one of them plays a flute!
  • In one of Nickelodeon's Halloween 2019 bumpers, which were brief CGI shorts showing monsters living together, some of them are sitting on their couch watching a movie. They all look on in horror and scream... at a man and a woman kissing.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "The Patrick Show Cashes In", Patrick's mother Bunny suggests doing a Halloween Episode about "the horrors of dust."
  • In "Pumpkin Pageant," from Pete the Cat, Pete's dad decides to carve the scariest thing he can imagine on his pumpkin: the family's van with a flat tire.
  • Pinky and the Brain: The Brain's attempt at a horror story.
  • Robotomy: "No Child Left Benign": Dreadnot tells the class if they fail their exam, they will sold as slaves to rot in an acid mine where they will be driven insane. No one in the class cares in the slightest... until Dreadnot also mentions they'll repeat the ninth grade, causing everybody to have a Freak Out.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Treehouse of Horror II": Bart has a dream about being a psychic boy in a twisted version of Springfield that must cater to his every whim a la The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "It’s a Good Life". At the end of the sequence, Bart spends some time bonding with Homer, undoes his transformation into a jack-in-the-box, and the two share a hug in a heartwarming moment between father and son. Since this is Bart we’re talking about, this immediately leads to a Catapult Nightmare.
      • In the same episode, Lisa has a dream that's a take on "The Monkey's Paw." After several backfiring wishes, Homer decides to use the last of the paw's magic to wish for "a turkey sandwich, on rye bread, with lettuce and mustard," then specifies that he doesn't want any "weird surprises." The sandwich in question manifests, and Homer digs in...
        Homer: Not bad. Nice hot mustard. Good bread. The turkey's a little dry—THE TURKEY'S A LITTLE DRY! OH, FOUL, ACCURSED THING! WHAT DEMON FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL CREATED THEE?
    • The framing device on "Treehouse of Horror IV" parodies Night Gallery; Bart directs the viewer's attention to a painting he claims is so horrific that "merely to gaze upon it is to go mad!" Cut to Homer looking at the 'Dogs Playing Poker'', freaking out and collapsing in hysterical laughter. Bart follows this by saying, "We had a story to go with this painting, but it was far too intense." So it turns out to be a lead into an unrelated vampire story.
    • "Treehouse of Horror V", "Time and Punishment": Homer accidentally goes back in time and changes history, forcing him to repeatedly go back and change different things in the past trying to put everything back to normal. He eventually ends up in a timeline that seems even better than normal: He's filthy rich, his kids are well-behaved, Patty and Selma are dead, you name it. It seems like Homer has his every wish come true, and is obviously very happy to stay in this timeline until he learns that donuts apparently don't exist here, at which point he runs screaming back to his time machine. However he Gave Up Too Soon, since moments later, donuts start falling from the sky by the hundreds.
      Marge: [annoyed] Oh dear, it's raining again...
    • "The PTA Disbands!': Lisa says grimly that she won't get into Yale and might not even get into Vassar. Vassar College, while not on the level of Yale, is still a highly prestigious liberal arts school in its own right,note  making this a non-letter version of The B Grade.
      Homer: I've had just about enough of your Vassar bashing, young lady!
    • "The Monkey Suit": Flanders can't stomach the idea of a museum teaching the world that humanity evolved from monkeys. His horrified reactions to the displays in the Hall of Man — and worse, a unisex bathroom — are played with horror music for comedic effect.
  • South Park: "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" does this to camp. Not only is the boredom of ziplining (and other camping activities) enough to torture and traumatize, it can even kill you. Or at least Kenny.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Wormy, the caterpillar turned butterfly, is played like this, although the closeup shots of Wormy's face were of a horsefly, not a butterfly, to try to make it look more menacing. Happens again as SpongeBob and Patrick were chased by a grasshopper in scuba gear.
    • "Oh my gosh...a FLOATING SHOPPING LIST!"
    • "Krab-Borg!": SpongeBob is so utterly terrified from a B-Movie (what little we see is an obviously cardboard robot chasing a live-action man in side-view) so much that he sees Mr. Krabs as a robot.
    • "Sing a Song of Patrick": Patrick's song is something of a Brown Note in-universe; to the viewers, it can range from "not that horrible, really" to "quite catchy". Justified that while the lyrics are very, very terrible to the point of killing the band, the band itself was legitimate.
    • "Suds": SpongeBob reacts in horror of Patrick's description of the terrors of the doctor's office. "They make you read... OLD MAGAZINES!"
    • "Hall Monitor": Patrick is so scared of the Maniac that just seeing a police sketch of him sends him into a screaming fit. Said sketch is clearly a stick figure rendering of SpongeBob, and they didn't even draw him scary-looking.
    • "No Free Rides": SpongeBob hangs on to his stolen boat through a field of vicious giant clams and a field of cheesegraters without flinching, but loses it at the sight of the last obstacle: "EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION? OH NO!!!"
    • "Shanghaied!": SpongeBob and Patrick are locked in the brig of the Flying Dutchman's ship, and their only way of escape is through... the perfume department. Cue the two of them running through a live-action background, cringing and flinching as they get doused with perfume samples.
    • "Scaredy Pants": One of the things that terrifies SpongeBob is a kid in a cowboy costume.
  • Steven Universe: In the episode "Keystone Motel", Steven is horrified that, on top of everything else that's gone wrong on their trip (thanks to Garnet de-fusing due to an argument between Ruby and Sapphire), the pizza places in Keystone serve square pizza.
    Steven: What's wrong with this crazy state?!
    Greg: Son, there will come a time in your life when you learn to accept all pizza.
  • Tales from the Cryptkeeper: "The Sleeping Beauty" ends with vain Prince Charmless Chuck getting turned into a vampire, which to his horror means he can no longer admire himself in the mirror. "No more handsome checks!"
  • Tiny Toon Adventures did a similar gag in their Night Gallery spoof. The picture in question was Babs' third-grade school photo.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: When Larry takes over D.O.O.M. and changes his name to Murray, everyone in T.U.F.F. gasps in fear at the sound of it.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: One episode has Coran and Allura see an Earth cow being milked for the first time. It terrifies and squicks them out all at once.

Alternative Title(s): Fauxriffic, What Do You Mean Its Not Horrific


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Mike defeats Bob's evil clone in his own unique way.

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