Follow TV Tropes


Horrifying the Horror

Go To
The monsters are lucky; he's much scarier behind the wheel.
"Generally speaking, when scary things get scared? Not good."
Xander Harris, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

It's one thing to Punch Out Cthulhu. It's something else entirely to scare the living bejesus out of him. This is a trope for when someone — or something — is frightening enough to scare things that would usually be an object of terror themselves. If someone can scare demons, monsters, and Eldritch Abominations, they're probably a force to be reckoned with.

Can equally well be played straight or Played for Laughs — for example, as a Scared of What's Behind You bait-and-switch gag.

All too likely to happen when a Food Chain of Evil is in effect. Break the Badass is when this happens to more human entities. May overlap with Mook Horror Show for sufficiently monstrous mooks. Compare Even Evil Has Standards for when the horror is morally outraged at what he's seen.

See also Always a Bigger Fish, The Worf Effect, Eviler than Thou, Failed Attempt at Scaring, Outscare the Enemy, Respected by the Respected.

Example subpages

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Nearly every sorcerer and supernatural being in the DC universe is afraid of John Constantine. Neatly shown in Books of Magic when an entire room of very evil magical entities stop dead when John enters and tells them Tim Hunter's coming with him.
    • Later in the series, Tala, a "Queen of Evil", needs help from Zatanna, despite them normally being on opposing sides of the Good vs Evil magic thing. Tala tellingly reveals that Good can be just as scary to Evil as the reverse:
      Tala: Don't look at me that way. Please. Do you know how terrifying you are to us? You creatures of the Light, with your pitiless eyes. You're so quick to judge us... but what do you know of the imperatives of Darkness? You've never seen past the Shadows.
  • Used in a plot arc in DC's old Forgotten Realms comic. The dragons of Faerun are generally badass, aloof, and most if not all of them have killed plenty of "lesser" beings before for some reason or other...but even they have a collective Oh, Crap! moment and are earnestly considering leaving their familiar home grounds behind and moving into places more commonly populated by humans, elves and so on when a mysterious killer starts to leave a trail of headless dragon corpses behind him-, her- or itself.
  • Immortal Hulk: The titular version of the Hulk, already proven to be one of the most outright malevolent of the Hulks (maybe not out-and-out evil, but he sure as Hell ain't nice), screams in fear and terror when he encounters Brian Banner. The fact the Hulks are born out of the trauma that was Bruce's childhood, the Devil Hulk in particular from his desire for a loving dad, feeds into this.
  • Even The Joker is scared of The Creeper and Junior. And, as shown by Death of the Family, his own name.
    • In Saga of the Swamp Thing, the most disturbing omen of Anton Arcane's resurrection and unleashing of the powers of Hell is that the Joker stops laughing at Arkham.
    • The Batman Who Laughs disturbs and horrifies the Joker so much that whenever he talks about him, the Joker becomes deathly serious. He even quit a team-up with Lex Luthor on the spot after learning Lex was dealing with BWL, confessing that while he was planning on betraying and giving Luthor an incredibly Cruel and Unusual Death, whatever BWL has planned would be much much worse.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
    Captain Nemo: We...we cannot know what feelings our enemies have...But we may be certain at least, that Hyde taught them terror.
    • For clarification, Nemo is commenting on Hyde ripping apart a Martian tripod with his bare hands... and then ripping apart the Martian inside and eating him, right in front of his fellow invaders.
  • Many horrific creatures are scared shitless of Doc Stearne, aka Mr. Monster.
  • Paperinik New Adventures has plenty:
  • Jordan Borchardt of Revival is a typical emotionally-detached reviver, which makes her a textbook Creepy Child. Over the course of the series her separated soul is destroyed, allowing her to imprison someone else's soul inside her. The Passengers find this terrifying.
  • Robin: Fright Knight has the ability to utterly horrify opponents with a simple "Boo" no matter what they've witnessed before. This becomes hilarious when they come up against the Terror Hero Ragman, who routinely creeps out his own allies and occasionally even unsettles himself, as they send him running a block away to cower in an alley after casually asking him if he wanted to see their power.
    Ragman: It's the scariest thing I ever saw, and now I can't recall what it was. But I'd rather fight a dozen specters than face that horror again.
    Blue Devil: It was obviously some kind of mind attack. Nothing to beat yourself up about Rags.
  • The Shadow is a Terror Hero but in Dynamite's Special #1, he has a disturbed look when he learns just what his old comrade has been up to.
  • Ahh, Squirrel Girl.
    • Doctor Doom fears nothing! ...Except for her. When she shows up to borrow his time machine, he just lets her have it, with a caption reaffirming that their previous encounter is canon. Deadpool finds her terrifying as well. In fact, she's slowly gaining a reputation as The Dreaded among Marvel's villains.
    • The Titan of Death, Thanos, was once defeated by Squirrel Girl... or, at least, a copy of him as he claims. After it's pointed out that beating a perfect, exacting copy of him is no different than beating him for real, Thanos visibly pales and leaves.
  • In The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Megatron is still The Dreaded of many Autobot stories. He's directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of billions of people. And he is absolutely pants-shittingly terrified of mnemosurgeons. Just seeing one in prison (the sullen, depressive, and not particularly intimidating Chromedome) had him calling for guards and threatening that the only way they would read his memories would be after he was dead. The series makes it abundantly clear just how justified his fear is in several story arcs.
  • As stated by the Trickster in Underworld Unleashed, in DC, when super-villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories.
  • Ryoko in Usagi Yojimbo is a witch who can mind-control others in huge quantities, even at vast ranges. Then she runs into Jei while remote-piloting her servant Kitanamono, and is appropriately horrified.
  • Allegedly (it's not entirely clear if the issue in question just made it up for a quick laugh) monsters scare their kids with stories about Vampirella. Not entirely unreasonable, since she's often portrayed as a relentless Hunter Of Her Own Kind a la Blade.
  • X-Men: Proteus manages to horrify Wolverine so bad he vomits in terror, and Cyclops has to enrage Logan to get him back on his feet. This applies double with Ultimate X-Men, where Wolverine is decidedly more amoral, and he calmly tells Charles Xavier the amount of hatred Proteus has for him scares Logan.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Beowulf (2007), Grendel is a hideous deformed troll of a man who haunts the land of Herot, committing brutal violence against merry-makers and revellers. When Beowulf comes to Herot to fight Grendel, the former almost immediately turns the tide on Grendel and gains the advantage while completely naked and unarmed. Scared shitless, Grendel can only shrink in size and try to escape, only for Beowulf to trap him in a large doorway and slam the door on his arm. Repeatedly. Until his arm pops off.
    Beowulf: *slam!* Your blood-letting *slam!* days are finished, *slam!* demon! *slam!*
    Grendel: Ich nayt daemon 'ere! (I'm not the demon here!)
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Stoik realizes something's gone horribly wrong with the assault on the dragons' nest when the thousands of dragons occupying it take off flying as fast as their wings could carry them, paying no heed whatsoever to the Vikings. Moments later, the furious Red Death comes barreling out of the side of the mountain.
  • The Land Before Time: In the first movie, Littlefoot, Petrie, Ducky, and Spike end up glued together after falling into a tar pit, and their combined form looks scary enough to frighten away a group of pachycephalosaurs that were attacking Cera.
  • Children in Monsters, Inc. scare monsters... including the ones whose job it is to scare children for a living. Played for Laughs.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie Boogie, as his name suggests, is a version of the Boogeyman and is the only resident of Halloweentown who's actually evil, taking sadistic pleasure in torturing and killing people while everyone else is scary but harmless and any frights they give are all in good fun. Oh, and he's actually a burlap sack filled with thousands of nasty bugs. In the climax, it turns out that Oogie himself is scared of just one thing: Jack Skellington.
  • Osmosis Jones: Frank's childhood, lack of self-restraint, and outright mental insanity (all of which is NOT helped by his unhealthy lifestyle) freaks out Thrax, a serial killer virus (The RED DEATH) who has infected and killed over twelve people.
    Thrax: This cat was sick before I even got here!
  • Played for Laughs with Snoopy and a grizzly bear in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, when the Monster is introduced it takes a close look at Costello's face, only to recoil with a cry of fear. Dracula reassures him.
    "Don't worry. I won't let him hurt you!"
  • In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos the Mad Titan, Greater-Scope Villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Dreaded to much of the known galaxy, is left staring in horrified dismay when Carol Danvers singly takes on Thanos' dreadnought, and punches her way straight through yet another warship, bringing it crashing to the ground. Shortly before that, he's nearly overpowered by a very angry Wanda, and panics just enough to call an airstrike from said warship to fend her off.
  • Blade is this to vampires, carving a terrifying path of death as he slays whole legions of vampires. Nyssa brings this up in Blade II.
  • Many of the most hardened convicts aboard Con Air are freaked out when the Serial Killer Garland Greene joins them.
  • Freddy vs. Jason:
    • In the final battle, sadistic dream stalking Serial Killer Freddy Krueger looks like he's about to wet himself when he realizes that he's been pulled into the real world, where he is vulnerable and he has to deal with an extremely pissed off Jason Voorhees coming after him with a machete.
    • This trope goes both ways—earlier in the film after realizing that Jason's fear is water, Freddy threw Jason into a nightmare where he was forced to relive his traumatic childhood memories of being relentlessly bullied and picked on and then pushed into Camp Crystal Lake to drown. After some exposure to these memories, Jason devolves from a Nigh-Invulnerable undead menace to a sobbing, terrified child.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Tie-in materials reveal the Big G himself is keeping a healthy distance from the site that contains Ghidorah. In the film proper, Rodan lets out a panicked screech upon realizing he's flown right into Ghidorah's storm... right before battling him anyway.
  • In The Hunger Games, like in the book, Clove is one of the most dreaded and skilled of the Tributes. Although she's a normal human like everyone else, she's an Ax-Crazy Psycho Knife Nut who has been raised The Spartan Way to compete in the Hunger Games and strides across the Moral Event Horizon by gloating about killing Rue. However, even she is visibly terrified of Thresh, desperately screaming and pleading when he grabs her by the throat, enraged at the death of his district partner Rue. Justified by the fact that he then proceeds to kill Clove in a single blow.
  • Inglourious Basterds: Pretty much the idea behind assembling the Basterds:
    Aldo: We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty, they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the German won't not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?
  • John Wick is this to the criminal underworld. Even the head of The Mafiya presence in New York is stopped cold at the news that his son crossed Wick.
    Viggo: They call him Baba Yaga.
    Iosef: The Boogeyman?
    Viggo: Well, John wasn't exactly the boogeyman. He was the one you sent to kill the fucking boogeyman.
  • The extended edition of King Kong (2005) has a sequence that starts with the rescue party being attacked on their makeshift rafts (they're in a swamp) by a pack of cat-sized scorpio-pedes, which abruptly break off the attack and flee moments before the arrival of a piranhadon -- a predatory fish the size of a small whale.
    • In the theatrical cut, Anne is attacked by a pair of Foetodon, land crocodilians roughly around the size of tigers, and crawls into a log to escape them. As she does, one is pulled offscreen and upwards by something, and the second stares at whatever it was and promptly beats it. Anne, exiting the log, finds a V-Rex standing there staring at her, the remains of the first beast in its mouth.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, an army of goblins surround the Fellowship, only to immediately scurry off in fear after hearing the roar of the Balrog.
    • Orcs and Goblins in general can be routed by their own shadow (although in this case, they did have good reason to run). See the example under the Literature subpage.
  • Will Graham invokes this in the film adaptation of Red Dragon when Francis Dolarhyde holds his young son hostage by putting on a show of parental abuse that hits the deranged Serial Killer right in the Freudian Excuse. It unsettles Dolarhyde enough for Will's son to get away.
  • In Scary Movie 2, a Monster Clown gets the tables turned on it when it tries to "play" with Ray.
    Clown: Hey... W-what are you doing?!
    Ray: Uncle Ray-Ray's got a game...
    Clown: Hey, get your finger outta there!
    Ray: Tickle, tickle, tickle!
    Clown: AAAHHHH!! OH GOD!!
  • In Serenity, the Operative, who is an elite assassin given carte blanche and unlimited resources by his government to carry out his mission, nearly panics when he realizes Mal has lured a fleet of Reavers to his location.
    The Operative: Target the Reavers. Target the Reavers! Target everyone! SOMEBODY FIRE!
  • In Starship Troopers, the humans victoriously cheer when Carl Jenkins uses his telepathy to announce that the captured leader of the Arachnids, the Brain Bug, is afraid of them. Given that the film is meant to be a reversed alien invasion story in which we humans are the warmongering bastards, this isn't exactly something to feel proud of, but for the in-universe War Is Glorious population, it's music for their ears.
  • At the climax of The Matrix, once Neo figures out he's the One, the sight of the stuff he then does to Agent Smith causes the other two Agents present to just plain run for their digital lives. While the sequels provide for more nuanced interpretations, when the first film is viewed on its own this scene runs rather clearly along the lines of this trope.

  • Back in the age of Chuck Norris jokes, people would occasionally counter them with the following:
    Every night, before he goes to sleep, Chuck Norris looks under his bed for Willem Dafoe. (Or in some tellings, Christopher Walken or Neville Longbottom)
    • Speaking of those jokes, quite a few follow the pattern of something terrifying being afraid of ol' Carlos Ray Norris:
      • "Chuck Norris died six years ago; Death has been trying to work up the courage to let him know."
      • "The dark is scared of Chuck Norris."
      • "Freddy Krueger has nightmares about Chuck Norris."
      • This concept is often borrowed from the Bill Brasky sketches on SNL, which predate the Chuck Norris memes by a couple of decades.
  • On various circulated lists of "Why Kirk Is Better (or Badder, or Cooler) Than Picard", one of the reasons is stated to be "The Klingons didn't even have a word for 'surrender' until they met Kirk."

  • The Disturbed song "Fear" is written from the perspective of the victim... so now it's the criminal that is experiencing fear:
    Reject, are you no one?
    Feel you nothing?
    You know I'll bet you think
    You have a good reason to be living
    In the limelight of the fortunate ones
    You're too weakened by the poison
    That they feed you in the living lie
    They don't believe you:
    Call to no one
    Trust in nothing,
    Little impotent one
  • Played for laughs in the "Dream Warriors" music video attached to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. The only thing that scares the film's main villain Freddy Krueger is the band Dokken.
    Freddy: What a nightmare... who were those guys?!
  • At the end of Leslie Fish's Filk Song "Banned from Argo", a gang of Klingons land on Argo, see the havoc wreaked by the crew of the USS Enterprise, and turn and run away. Years after the original song was written, a Firefly variant was made, with the Serenity crew scaring off Reavers.
    • Leslie Fish has another song called "Where Has Cthulhu Gone?". The premise is about the Great Old Ones fleeing earth in fear of the atomic bomb.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: This was part and parcel for Hades, who was known as "he who The Dreaded dreads." Since part of his job included keeping beings like the Titans and the various other Eldritch Abominations locked away in Tartarus, it was an important skill to have.
  • In the Book of James in The Bible, it's stated that demons tremble in fear of God.

  • In The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Nightmares the Clown is an Emotion Eating Monster Clown who feeds on fear and is a recurring nemesis of Frank and Sadie Doyle. In their fifth encounter, he finally has the Doyles on the ropes, forcing upon them their two biggest fears of sobriety and being separated from each other. Frank's response is a Badass Boast about how dangerous he once was and could be again if he got serious, and that Sadie is even more dangerous than him. The ultimate effect is to cause Nightmares to realize what it is he truly fears: Frank and Sadie Doyle.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Undertaker has a gimmick of a nearly unstoppable deadman with supernatural powers. One time, in a match with Randy Orton, Orton ordered a casket brought out. Undertaker incapacitated Orton and opened the casket to throw him in, only to find a realistic dummy that looked exactly like him inside. Undertaker still won the match, but he was really shaken up.
  • At WrestleMania 31, Undertaker faced Bray Wyatt, who has a similar supernatural gimmick and is basically a horror movie villain. At one point, Wyatt starts gloating over a downed Undertaker and does a spider crawl out of The Exorcist, only for Undertaker to sit up. Wyatt immediately stops and backs away, terrified.
  • At Payback 2017, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton faced each other in a house and the fight ended with Wyatt dropping a refrigerator on Orton. Wyatt then arrived at the arena, gloating that Orton wouldn't show up for their match so he would win by forfeit. Orton appeared right behind Wyatt and attacked him. To quote the announcers, "I didn't think it was possible to scare Bray Wyatt!"

  • Laurel and Hardy managed to do this in the single episode of their never-picked-up radio show. The two are hired by a poultry shop, and while out on what they believe to be a delivery run, accidentally encounter a group of gangsters. Stan and Ollie mistake them for their customers, the hoods mistake Stan and Ollie for a pair of tough hitmen they're supposed to meet. Thanks to the magic of One Dialogue, Two Conversations, when the hoods ask Stan and Ollie about their work, they are made green with nausea as they hear how the two dispatch their victims with a butcher knife or axe, dunk the tough carcasses in boiling water, and then deliver them, sometimes as often as 12 times a day (especially weekends and holidays) to the people who ordered them killed. The police arrive before the duo can clarify that they were referring to slaughtering chickens.

  • There's a stock routine in Pantomime that uses this. Three characters, one of them the dame (an older female character played by a man), are onstage and comment that the place they're in is haunted and they need to be on the lookout for ghosts (or other monsters), and ask the audience to tell them if they see one (they may then start to sing a song to keep their spirits up). A ghost (or whatever) then enters behind them, prompting the audience to shout "Behind you!" in the classic panto style. The characters then look around and fail to spot the ghost, as it follows them and always stays behind them until it exits (they never think to look in different directions to cover the whole area between them because that wouldn't be funny). Then the routine is repeated, except one character (unseen by the other two) spots the ghost and runs offstage in terror. The others wonder where they've gone and repeat the routine (more nervously) and a second character is scared off, leaving only the dame. The routine is repeated once more — except this time the ghost runs offstage in terror at the sight of the dame.

    Visual Novels 
  • Combining this trope with Even Evil Has Standards, Jimmy Aleister of Code:Realize acknowledges how he is so unfathomably evil and twisted that the most hardened and depraved killers were themselves horrified at glimpsing his true nature.
  • The Big Bad from Dies Irae, Reinhard, is a man said to have been born in the wrong universe and is so unreasonably powerful and has such an overwhelming presence that anyone who faces him can't help but shake in their boots, even those that are honest to goodness monsters themselves. He is just in a different league. Mercurius meanwhile tend to cause a different kind of fear in those same individuals. Instead of a fear based on awe, it is one based on hatred and disgust born from just how odd his entire existence is, like he is detached from the very fabric of reality in both body and spirit.
  • Fate/stay night: The Shadow that appears in the Heaven's Feel storyline has such ominous powers that it creeps out even the servants, extremely powerful spirits themselves. However, even this nightmare flees in terror when faced with Gilgamesh. When it actually manages to devour him, it immediately breaks him down to magical energy, fearing that he could take control from the inside.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend has The King trying to push Yuuya over the Despair Event Horizon by reminding him of Yuuya's greatest failure, in the hopes that Yuuya will agree to have his soul absorbed to forget the pain. Yuuya stands stalwart; he accepts what he's done, knows he can't change it, and wants to remember it in order to go forwards. He's found meaning in the pain. The King retreats in a hurry.
  • In the true ending of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, the villain, Matt Engarde had nearly broken both the fake culprit, Adrian, nearly driving her to suicide, and Phoenix Wright himself... then Shelly de Killer turns on him if Phoenix plays his cards right. The result is Matt freaking out and pleading to go to jail to be protected from the assassin.
  • In the true ending of Sucker for Love: First Date, the player character manages to utterly terrify Nyanlathotep, the second-most powerful of all of the elder gods, with his sheer lust and desire to 'plant a wet one' on ALL of the elder gods. Including Nyanlathotep.
  • In every route of Yo-Jin-Bo, Harumoto is in full Villainous Breakdown mode by the climax, ready to blow up the watchtower that he and the heroes are standing on in order to die taking them with him rather than live to be captured; in Ittosai's route, he uses Sayuri as a Human Shield and forces her to make an Anguished Declaration of Love to Ittosai just to twist the knife by making Ittosai choose between killing them both or doing nothing until they all die from the impending explosion. When Ittosai declares his willingness to run his sword through the woman who loves him in order to get to Harumoto and then kill himself afterwards, even Harumoto is thoroughly unnerved.

    Web Animation 
  • Chikn Nuggit:
    • Sody Pop tends to scare Iscream, either because he's a kid or the odd things he does sometimes, like shrinking his face.
    • During their "first" meeting with Iscream, Fwench Fwy brings the usually unflappable Iscream to their knees with just a glare.
    • Cofi scares Iscream too, as in her first encounter with Iscream they're absolutely mortified by her. Though as of now it seems Iscream is just annoyed by her presence.
  • Hazbin Hotel:
  • Played for Laughs in Red vs. Blue: During The Chorus Trilogy, O'Malley, the Big Bad of The Blood Gulch Chronicles and the literal Anthropomorphic Personification of Unstoppable Rage, is absolutely terrified of Doctor Emily Grey after interacting with her for barely ten seconds.
  • RWBY:
    • Cinder Fall is nothing short of a murderous, spiteful, manipulative sociopath, but the sight of Tyrian butchering a Beowulf out of anguish over disappointing Salem is enough to terrify her.
    • The creatures of Grimm are consistently shown to be mindless killing machines, with only the oldest and most intelligent ones displaying any kind of self-preservation instinct. The arrival of the Hound in Volume 8 is enough to make three Sabyrs stop in mid-charge, turn around, and run; this freaks out the heroes, who have never seen Grimm flee like that.
    • The Jabberwalker in Volume 9 marks its presence as a lethal force to Ever After, having the ability to perma-kill its inhabitants when they would normally resurrect upon dying, as well as being the Flawed Prototype to the Grimm as a whole. Neo is already a terrifying psychopath on her own, but her semblance evolving to Self-Duplication is enough to make the poor Jabberwalker beg for its life.

  • Amazing Super Powers in the Ghosts Of Christmas episode.
  • Boyfriend of the Dead: A Zombie Apocalypse happens, turning most of Tokyo into an undead wasteland. The zombies view the humans as nothing but food — that is until they meet Alex. Alex is an ordinary girl who wants to go shopping now that there are no crowds. She kills over a hundred zombies without breaking a sweat, to the point that she befriends a couple of them because they're so little threat to her it doesn't occur to her to be scared. The zombies, on the other hand, see her as a horrifying monster and flee from her whenever they can. At least a few zombies regain their sanity out of sheer terror.
  • Cursed Princess Club: When the Pastel Princesses and the Plaid Princes go to an amusement park haunted house full of Monster Clowns, one "vampire clown" jumps out to scare them, only for Lorena to reflexively kick him in the head. Then Gwendolyn goes to see if he's okay, and he's so terrified of her apparent Slasher Smile that he passes out.
    Clown: Is this what we do to people??!!
  • Daughter of the Lilies: Whatever Thistle's face looks like, it's enough to send one of the cannibalistic night elves running away in panic. There's a reason she always wears a hood. It turns out the Cave Elf was just horrified that he had attacked and tried to eat a fellow Cave Elf — a female one at that (Cave Elves have a matriarchal society).
  • In Eldritch Darling, the reason why CJ doesn't find any ghosts when she goes ghost-hunting with Ina is because the latter scared them all away, with the promise to devour their souls if they lay a finger on CJ.
  • Girl Genius has got the lot:
    • The Other, the genocidal entity that wiped out major parts of Europe and created Mad Science monstrosities of every stripe (that themselves terrified Mad Scientists back in the day), is afraid of the mere mention of the name Barry Heterodyne.
    • Similarly, the Other was scared (momentarily) out of Agatha's body by Von Pinn.
    • The Jägergenerals, massive Lightning Bruisers, are absolutely terrified of the Dreen; extra-dimensional beings employed by the Baron. They're also, to a lesser extent, scared of the Baron himself.
    • On that note, we have the fight between Gil and General Vole conclude with Vole baffled by how it seems Gil wants to die at his hands.
      Gil: No, no! I want you to try! After all, I have to show that I'm strong enough to rule the Empire! We'll make it a game: "Who's the scariest monster?!"
      Vole: Urg... mebbe hyu could just keel me instead?
      Gil: Oh, no! Just think how impressive it will be when word gets out - that I keep a pet Jäger around to attack me - just to keep me sharp!
    • Apparently, at some point in the past, Old Heterodynes meddled with time itself, but while doing this they discovered something that terrified even them, the worst Spark overlords that the whole continent trembled before. They turned their back on all the power they could possibly gain because of this. Turns out, that thing was also the Dreen. The novels are clearer on this: everybody is scared witless of the Dreen: the Other, Wasps, Jägers, the Pirates...
    • And something worse than that may be coming, now that the original incident that revealed that something has been replicated in an even worse fashion. When Castle Heterodyne gets a good look at what exactly is coming from the new rift caused by the Baron stopping time, it starts screaming. Sure, the Dreen were dozens and had hats, but they were much smaller than whatever is coming this time.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Mort's duties involve getting people frightened. But this girl is really scary. And this one is just that sneaky.
    • And then there's Zimmy, who even freaks out Reynardine, a body-snatching demon, enough that he won't voluntarily touch anything that belongs to her.
    • Zimmy is herself freaked out by Kat. This is what Kat looks like to her.
  • Malory from Head Trip is plain Ax-Crazy whenever any deserving target is in sight. However, The Twilight Saga scares her reliably.
  • In Homestuck, the Lovecraftian Horrorterrors terrify the trolls, a culture of violent psychopathic Proud Warrior Race Guys, to the point of sleeplessness. In turn, the Horrorterrors turn out to be terrified of something that's killing them, and their horrifying communications are pleas for help.
  • I'm the Grim Reaper:
    • Scarlet's demon form is powerful enough to scare Brook badly, far more than he would like to admit. It's implied he would much rather ignore her than risk her going out of control again.
    • Judah, despite being a mere human, is able to horrify Scarlet with what few memories she has of him as Ante. Later, after being sliced into pieces and melted down into liquid except for his hand by him, even Brook is terrified of him.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons:
  • The Last Days of Foxhound: Psycho Mantis, despite the amusing snark and the coffee obsession, is a terrifyingly powerful psychic engine of mass murder whenever he cuts loose. The Sorrow's "test", confronting him with the souls of everyone he's killed, reduces him to a quivering mess for a while, although he comes to terms with it relatively quickly.
  • Oglaf: In one strip, some warriors boast about how they'll defeat the Grendel expy with handicaps ranging from fighting unarmed to self-mutilation and suicide. When the monster arrives, he's visibly disturbed to find the mead hall full of dismembered corpses and can only blurt out, "What the fuck happened here?"
  • In Ow, my sanity, "Nancy" is a Humanoid Abomination, who discovered fear at the hands of the art building's manager.
  • Polandball: ISIS makes the mistake of provoking Germany into turning into Reichtangle. Cue the latter looming over a terrified ISIS.
  • The Sanity Circus: When Safeguarde spirits are summoned, even the Scarecrows become afraid.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, after Schlock grows himself a body made of dark matter, he promptly starts eating the Pa'anuri surrounding him. When their consciousnesses end up in the infosphere of his ship as a result, they start discussing exactly how horrifying Schlock has become.
    Pa'anuri: This new enemy has all the fast-burning ferocity of baryonic life, and it has all our own power over the shift and shape of space. It is not a monster. "Monster" is not enough of a word.
    Schlock: The word you want is "mundivore".
    (cue Schlock's avatar dwarfing the Pa'anuri)
    Schlock: It means world-eater. Or maybe universe-eater. I won't know which until I'm done eating.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, the main threat in the Death World Forbidden Zone that the main characters are exploring are Plague Zombie monsters that mutated from humans (trolls) and animals (beasts). Later in the story, they start running into ghosts that are a danger to all living beings. Chapter 10 showed that animals sharing space with ghosts tend to avoid the rooms in which they dwell. Chapter 12 shows that trolls that roam in an Abandoned Hospital with a ghost-room avoid the place as well.
  • User Friendly has strips about Cthulhu being scared/bothered/worried/amazed about mundane things such as the RIAA's tactics, finance and accounting, etc.
  • In Weak Hero, Giju is established as Cheongang's resident psycho with a creepy obsession towards Wolf. Then, when they finally face off, Wolf reveals that he's such an intense Blood Knight that his idea of "fun" is to beat each other to death, which creeps Giju out and puts him on the back foot.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • The Foundation's attempts to pit living SCPs against SCP-682 in a bid to destroy it usually leave 682 alive but injured and the other SCP utterly terrified of 682. SCP-173 is noteworthy because it is the only thing that 682 fears.
    • SCP-1730 is a Foundation site from an Alternate History where they had a merger with the GOC and became something utterly horrifying, becoming endlessly worse than the monsters they fought. In our reality Bobble the Clown is some kind of signal-born abomination that has been meddling with humanity from the start and now teaches children murder and violence through a brainwashing TV show the Foundation has to contain. In this alternate site, he was one of the "lucky ones" who was merely locked up and experimented with, and is still a mangled, crippled, and utterly traumatized survivor, who witnessed atrocities so huge burning an entire alternate dimension to the ground and salting the ashes was just the start.
    • SCP-5000 is 1730 on steroids, an Alternate Timeline in which the Foundation actively started working to Kill All Humans as well as every anomaly that wouldn't get with the program (which was most of the ones that were still capable of reason).
  • Trevor Henderson's monster Cartoon Cat is only one of many monsters he depicts in his artwork, but according to him, all the others are so terrified of it that they actively avoid the dirt mall it's trapped in "if they know what's good for them".

    Web Videos 
  • Ask That Guy with the Glasses:
    • He has committed acts of Black Comedy. Even he is horrified by the stuff Bennett the Sage says.
    • Similarly, another episode has That Guy describing something so horrific that SATAN HIMSELF is disturbed enough to censor him. This occurs twice in said episode.
  • The Fear Mythos has Aqualung, who scares the other Fears, and the Deep, who terrifies EAT to the point of refusing to enter its home, the oceans.
  • Boatmurdered: "Our legendary miner headed out to work on the elephant trap... and the elephants -ran away- from him."
  • The Awakening arc of the Ben Drowned ARG reveals that there's a second entity beyond BEN in the cartridge, and as Jadusable gets closer to awakening it from its slumber, BEN starts pleading for him to stop playing before it's too late.
  • The Creepypasta "It Has No Face" features a Humanoid Abomination that has mutilated and killed countless victims panicking as it encounters a man who (seemingly) has no face and (seemingly) doesn't fear it. Taken even further when the man scares it away with the noise and flashlight coming from his phone.
  • The idea behind "Pyro's Night at Freddy's". By the second night, the robots are huddled in the security room checking the cameras for Pyro.
  • Karolina Żebrowska: Miss Tatternickle scares away the ghost that's been following her through the cemetery, and is rather disappointed it wasn't a more impressive monster.

    Real Life 
  • The main reason for the existence of gargoyles on churches is that they are so terrifying, they frighten off demons and evil spirits.
    • On a similar note, this trope is also the theory behind exorcism: which is why creepy masks and such are often part of the ritual.
  • This is what spawned the tradition of dressing up for All Hallow's Eve (a.k.a. Halloween), as the costumes were meant to confuse or scare potential monsters away from the festivities.
  • Sharks are known to migrate and stay out of waters where they have spotted orcas (which have been known to attack and kill sharks, including adult great whites) roaming in. In one case, after orcas killed a great white off the California coast, another radio-tracked great white that normally hung around the area took off to Hawai'i. However, Orca-preyed sharks are understood to have been quite young. As noted on the page for Orca: The Killer Whale, Orca have been known to avoid dense great white population.
  • Honey badgers have been known to chase lions and leopards away from their kills.
  • In cold climates, it's wolverines that hold off bears or whole packs of wolves to retain possession of a scavenged carcass.
  • Golden eagles will take on wolverines, honey badgers, bears, and wolves.
  • The Siberian tiger targets wild boars as one of its preferred prey items, has been documented to suppress wolf numbers to the point of near local extinction, and even habitually hunts black and brown bears when ungulate numbers are low.
  • The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) hunts in family groups (akin to wolves) and they have been known to kill caimans and anacondas, and also to chase away jaguars, to the point that the latter seldomly hunt the giant mustelids.
  • Any time an animal frightens a human. Humans are top tier predators, and everywhere we go, we tend to drive out or kill every other apex predator. And yet humans are often frightened of any number of animals, including many, such as most varieties of spiders, that cannot hurt us at all. Zig-Zagged since not all humans are equally capable or willing to do damage and not everyone is scared of harmless things. Also certain animals and plants are genuinely dangerous for humans.
  • Gustave is a giant, vicious man-eating Nile crocodile who is known to strike fear in even hippopotamuses, some of the most aggressive and powerful animals in Africa.
  • Examples from prehistory:
    • The lion-sized Smilodon fatalis, the fabled saber-toothed cats, was one of the most feared predators of ice age North America, but it was still small fries compared to the sympatric giant short-faced bears (Arctodus simus), which could reach up to 2,000 lb and easily steal the kill of a sabretooth or even a group of them. Similarly, the extant brown bear (the second largest land predator alive today) didn’t migrate south of Alaska throughout much of the Pleistocene, which experts have attributed to competition with the much larger short-faced bear.
    • The 50-foot shark Otodus megalodon was one of the largest raptorial predators ever to live on Earth but it coexisted and competed with the similar-sized killer sperm whale Livyatan melvillei. As a toothed whale, Livyatan was likely a social hunter while megalodon, like living sharks, would have been solitary, meaning that for all its prowess, it would have been no match against a pod of Livyatan and would have actively avoided them and maybe even fell prey to them from time to time, mirroring the relationship between great whites and orcas today.
    • Deinosuchus is a genus containing several species of giant crocodiles estimated to have reached up to 30-40 feet in length and the weight of an elephant, which lived in North America 82 to 73 million years ago and would have preyed on dinosaurs, including the various mid-sized tyrannosaurs alive at the time, like Daspletosaurus and Appalachiosaurus, with the latter’s holotype specimen even sporting tooth marks attributed to Deinosuchus.
  • Britain was never invaded in World War II. Why is this? Well, one of the reasons could be because Adolf Hitler is reported to have once described Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, as "the most dangerous woman in Europe".
    • Even some Nazis found the Rape of Nanjing horrifying. John Rabe — a German businessman and Nazi party member — was one of the key figures in setting up the Nanjing Safety Zone at the height of the massacre and tried to save as many civilians as possible from rampaging soldiers. Rabe wrote to Hitler, expecting him to intervene if he knew, but the Gestapo intercepted the letter and arrested Rabe. They eventually released him but forbade him to mention the atrocities again.
    • The notorious Oskar Dirlewanger was nearly sentenced for war crimes, stripped of rank, and imprisoned after an investigation by an SS judge. This didn't stop Himmler from employing him at the head of a penal battalion, however.
    • Some Gestapo agents complained to Himmler that the Ustaše were behaving in a "bestial manner" against Serbs. Even Hitler's representative in Croatia called the Jasenovac prison camp "evil".
  • Britain's most violent prisoner, Michael Peterson, a.k.a. Charles Bronson, a.k.a. Charles Salvador, once sat in the cell next to serial killer Robert Maudsley. Peterson was a carnival strongman prior to his sentence and is still a mountain of a man even though he's pushing seventy. He requested to have his cell changed because Maudsley freaked him out.
  • Many tactics for repelling dangerous animals rely on the human horrifying the animal, even though said animal could quickly get very aggressive and seemingly effortlessly turn the human into bloody frappé in few enough seconds. Bear Bangers are harmless but effective at scaring off bears, and scaring off a cougar involves opening one's jacket and/or standing on someone else's shoulders to look big enough to scare it out of attacking. Examples could fill this entire page.
  • Yellowjackets are widely feared, and for good reason. But they're terrified of Asian giant hornets, to the point of abandoning their nests if just one is detected nearby. Considering how much damage the hornets can do to bee and wasp hives even when outnumbered by thousands to one, this reaction is entirely justified.
  • An official title given to St. Joseph by the Catholic Church is "Terror of Demons".


Video Example(s):


Dokken to Freddy Krueger

In the music video to the Dokken song "Dream Warrior" (a tie-in song to the third Nightmare on Elm Street movie), Dokken manages to scare away Freddy with the power of music, Freddy waking with a fright as though he was having a nightmare.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / HorrifyingTheHorror

Media sources: