Fear, terror, panic, and doom
She sent pictures of doom
Drawn in her tiny bedroom
Fear, terror, panic and doom."
There are a lot of things that are Harmful to Minors. There are a lot of writers who like to subject kids to them anyway. Whether it's parental abuse or a run-in with the Monster of the Week, the child ends up traumatized and left with a creepy tendency to draw whatever it was they saw over... and over... and over...
The combination of a disturbing image rendered in a crude, childlike style is a powerfully scary one in and of itself, but just as unsettling is the window onto a child's view of sex/violence/Cthulhu that it gives us. The idea of innocence being exposed to things it finds frightening, or things it can't understand, is a classic way to play off Adult Fear and at the same time deliver a bucketload of Nightmare Fuel rendered in red crayon.
It gets extra points if the suburban mom decides to hang it on the fridge rather than call a child psychologist or an exorcist.
If a Creepy Child draws pictures, they will be this trope. If it's the Monster of the Week the child has been drawing, expect the Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book to come in handy when the heroes come along - after all, now they've got a wall full of pictures of their enemy.
- A PSA about domestic abuse had a child's drawing where the kid himself was a tiny figure with no arms and no mouth, and his father was a huge, monstrous figure with enormous hands and big, sharp teeth.
- A PSA from Singapore Customs shows a girl drawing her family, but her crayons erase her drawings of her bike and her father, due to the fact that the latter was arrested for buying illegal cigarettes. Towards the end, there's a blank space in her drawing where her father should be.
- A series of PSAs on the dangers of unlocked guns featured crayon drawings of children accidentally killing their siblings after finding an improperly stored loaded gun.
- This PSA shows the girl telling a fairy tale about her mother while drawing on the picture of her to show the abuse suffered.
- A PSA from Japan about autism subverted this trope: A kid was shown colouring in many, many pieces of letter-sized paper in solid black, leaving just slivers of white space here and there. He's interviewed by shrinks, institutionalized, he keeps right on going. Then a social worker finds a puzzle piece in a drawer and thinks "hmmm..." The social worker, doctors, and nurses of the institute are then shown arranging the pieces of paper on the floor, and as the camera zooms out the colored-in areas fit together to reveal the shape of a whale.
- The music video for a Singaporean National Day Song had a scene strongly inspired by PSA from Japan. The only difference was that it was a boy filling in the pages with solid red, and the final shape was that of a heart.
- A really creepy one from Singapore's Health Promotion Board, to provide awareness of cervical cancer, is a print advertisement of a child's drawing of his family. There's the sun in the sky, and stick figures for everyone: "me", "dad", "sister"... but above "mom", a tombstone is drawn instead.
- Little Mimi does this on the first page of the first chapter in Bokke San. She is seen filling pages with crayon eyes while repeating "he's coming" over and over.
- In Future Diary, twelve people are given magic diaries that can predict the future, and are pitted against each other in a battle royale. The youngest participant, the 5th, is a 4-year old boy with a coloring book as his Future Diary, which shows him the best moments for committing murder.
- In the Neon Genesis Evangelion movie End Of Evangelion, we briefly see a series of angrily-scribbled crayon pictures, reminding the reader of Shinji and Asuka's horribly traumatic childhoods. Supposedly they were drawn by real-life abused children. It was also shown in the Director's Cut version of episode 22.
- In Darker Than Black, this is essentially a Russian contractor's remuneration. He seems to really enjoy it.
- The small girl in the fourth episode of Divergence Eve drew images of the Ghoul on the pavement of an alley with crayon before she got attacked by the Monster of the Week. Then she continued to draw it after she was shut in the White Void Room.
- In Yuru-Yuri, Chinatsu's coloring book shows her True Colors. Unlike most other examples in this page, this is Played for Laughs. Also, Chinatsu isn't a kid, she's in junior high.
- Subverted in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Someone who has supposedly met the Laughing Man is asked to draw a picture of his face. The drawing isn't a face, but rather the Laughing Man's logo. The witness' brain had been hacked, such that he was unable to perceive the difference. Although it's played for laughs when this happens to Togusa, after encountering a mysterious (and apparently catatonic) boy named Aoi (who, as it turns out, is the real Laughing Man).
- Elise in Bungo Stray Dogs draws a beheaded Akutagawa at some point.
- There is a genre of similar drawings, sometimes called "schkolnaya murzilka" ("The School Murzilka", Murzilka - strange furry soviet comic book characters) in post-soviet areas. It usually contains some combination of Mind Screw, Surreal Humor, and Surreal Horror with famous cartoons, fairy tales, etc. Also frequently occurs as a result of a post-soviet child watching horror movies.
- Ukrainian Mikhail Bondarev drew stuff like this throughout his school years (sometimes with his classmates). Though the drawings are obviously tongue-in-cheek, a strange mix of video game and pop culture themes with over-the-top violence, absurdish situations, and general surrealistic mindscrew make them at least slightly creepy. Check this◊, this◊ or that one◊, inspired by H. P. Lovecraft. The fact that he's studying medicine (pediatrics) does not help even though he's quite nice actually.
- Musician Buckethead is also a painter and sometimes does the art for his albums himself. Considering he's widely known as a Nightmare Fetishist, it's no surprise that his art resembles scary drawings done by children.
- In the Swamp Thing comic book, an autistic child in a group home draws pictures, with accompanying text, of the Monkey King that (unbeknownst to the authorities) killed his parents. Soon, all the children in the home are independently drawing pictures of the creature, presaging its reappearance.
- In the Watchmen comic, a rather disturbing picture is drawn by 13-year old Walter Kovacs (later known as Rorschach), showing his mom and a man, both naked and fused together. The picture is accompanied by a transcript of Walter describing a disturbing sexual nightmare he had where he watched his mother and this man having intercourse. The way their bodies merge together symmetrically makes the picture resemble a Rorschach blot.
- The fifth (Or is it fourth?) Robin has a sketchbook full of violent and disturbing imagery. To be fair, Damian was raised by the League of Shadows and lives in Gotham City.
- The main character of Halloween: Nightdance used to babysit a kid, who even years later keeps sending her pictures that he has been drawing with crayons. She becomes very disturbed when she starts receiving pictures that depict nudity and gore. Turns out that those pictures were drawn by the famed killer Micael Myers, who has killed the kid and his family.
- Judge Dredd: Elusive serial killer PJ Maybe has a habit of planning out his murders with graphically disturbing crayon drawings, starting when he was a teenager and continuing to do so into adulthood.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin has drawn some pretty disturbing things (and relatedly, sculpted them out of snow), but this is usually Played for Laughs. The images usually come from his deranged imagination and not from scary stuff he's actually seen.
- More than once he has drawn people getting eaten by animals and monsters. Once he drew a flip-book style animation in the margins of his dad's book showing a tiger biting a guy's head off.
- Once, when he was required to do a presentation on traffic safety, he designed a gruesome poster with the slogan "Be Careful, Or Be Roadkill." For the blood, he used spaghetti sauce so the gory images would actually draw flies. Naturally, he didn't win.
- While assigned to work with Susie on a class project, he drew a flipbook of a Martian eating an astronaut. Susie was more upset that he was procrastinating than that the art itself was gruesome, though.
- When his class was making crayon drawings, He criticizes Susie's drawing of a house for being too simplistic, he then shows her his drawing of "a squadron of B-1 bombers nuking New York City."
- The first chapter of The Prehistory of The Far Side consists of what Gary Larson claims to be drawings from his childhood. They depict his parents as cartoonishly abusive — for instance, playing fetch with the dog using him as the stick, making him ride in the trunk of the car, putting bars on his bedroom window, and dangling him over the alligator pit at the zoo.
- Homestuck's popular "stabdads" AU gives us "Daddy's work trash".
- Aki Chans Life has a moment of this with young Aki Ikari drawing a blood-red sea and a giant naked Rei Ayanami, much to her kindergarten teacher's disquiet. There's a perfectly innocent explanation, but she probably wouldn't believe it.
- Gifted artist Ruth Smith-Rhodes-Stibbons does this in the Discworld, when the Dungeon Dimensions notice her growing magical talent and menace her into becoming their house portraitist. Her older sister, witch Rebecka, finds her drawings of them and is not comforted. note More in the works of A.A. Pessimal.
- Monsters, Inc. Boo draws a picture of Randall, though she only draws him once, and once Sulley sees the picture, there's no horror or confusion.
- A Bug's Life: The ant children present the "warrior bugs" with a mural showing them violently fighting the grasshoppers in an extremely bloody battle, followed by a school play where all the characters die dramatically. The "warrior bugs", who are in fact circus performers who had no idea they had been mistaken for warriors until this moment are horrified.
Rosie: Oh, look at the beautiful colors of the... blood.Dot: We drew one of you dying because our teacher said it'd be more dramatic.(The circus bugs turn to Heimlich, who whimpers and turns a pale shade)
- Insidious has one of these. Pity the characters never thought of looking at the pictures as a clue sooner.
- The Mothman Prophecies. An orderly says that Mary was sketching "angels". Well, angels that look like black-shrouded demons in the general shape of a moth. Seems like the residents of Point Pleasant were, too.
- The mentally ill girl in Dark Floors draws stylized versions of the monsters that attack the group—before the attacks happen. She also tends to draw constant circles which symbolize the fact that she's been living the events of the movie over and over again for an indefinite number of loops while the monsters try to convince her to come with them.
- The pictures drawn by the little boy in the English-language version of The Ring.
- This concept was spoofed in the third Scary Movie with the kid's drawings of "Tabitha", the Samara-lookalike from The Ring.
- In the Silent Hill movie, Sharon draws many pictures of Silent Hill.
- In The Sixth Sense the boy says that he got into trouble for drawing a man being stabbed with a screwdriver. Now he only draws pictures of rainbows, because teachers "don't have conferences about rainbows."
- Adult example: In American Psycho Patrick draws pictures of naked women being killed. Sometimes he draws them in public.
- Godzilla vs. Biollante:
- It has a scene where an entire class of psychic schoolchildren hold up drawings of Godzilla emerging from the volcano he was imprisoned in the last movie.
- At the end of the film, their teacher, Miki Saegusa, is seen drawing a rose in space, which foreshadows the eventual fate of Biollante.
- In the extended edition of Dark City some time after May the prostitute is murdered by Mr. Hand and the Strangers, the police discover her daughter hiding under a bed; she's drawing a picture of three white stick figures in black trenchcoats standing over her mother's corpse with knives in their hands.
- The mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- In Snakes on a Plane, a boy draws the snake that bit his brother while they're still on the plane. It's later used to identify the type of snake so he can be treated.
- Inversion: The (adult) protagonist of Dreamscape drew a picture of the Snakeman, a monster he encountered and battled in a boy's bad dream. In a later foray into dreams, a villain who's seen this drawing adopts the Snakeman's shape to fight the hero: a reversal of the usual Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book cause-and-effect.
- The opening credits of Children of the Corn (1984) are superimposed on crayon-drawings done by a precognitive little girl.
- Poltergeist II: The Other Side: Carol Anne draws a picture of the sinister Reverend Kane, who looks uncannily like Fred Phelps.
- Subverted in Superbad, as no real motive is ever given for Jonah Hill's penis drawings.
- Played for laughs in Role Models with the famous "Beyonce pouring sugar on my dick" artwork drawn by Ronnie who is a foul-mouthed streetwise miscreant obsessed with breasts
- The Butterfly Effect features a subversion: the picture 7-year old Evan draws (of himself standing over two mutilated prison inmates with a bloody knife in his hand, which he has no recollection of drawing) appears to be an example of this trope, but is in fact an example of something else entirely.
- In Noroi: The Curse, drawings made by Kana and Marika depicting strange patterns and (in Kana's case) hanging figures. Hori's fliers about ectoplasmic worms might also count.
- In Halloween: Resurrection, some characters find one in Michael Myers's childhood bedroom. It turns out it was a fake planted there by the reality show producers.
- In Tales from the Hood, a little boy keeps drawing disturbing crayon pictures of the "monster" that comes to his house... we come to find out that the "monster" is actually his abusive stepfather.
- Subverted in The Addams Family movie, where Wednesday makes disturbing art that her parents don't find worrisome in the least, and nor does she. Her teacher, of course, is a bit put off.
- 28 Days Later: At the climax of his walk around abandoned London, Jim finds a board of messages, notices and pleas for help, including a child's drawing showing "Daddy" shooting "Mummy" because she's infected with Rage.
- In Mikey the title character draws a picture of a turkey decapitating a pilgrim with an axe for Thanksgiving, this disturbs his teacher and this is what leads her to question his upbringing.
- In Silent Night, Deadly Night Billy, due to being traumatized by a maniac in a Santa costume murdering his parents, draws a picture of Santa shot with arrows and a reindeer decapitated with an axe.
- In Joshua the title character draws a picture of a man with a bloody knife and a pile of dead bodies. He did not do this because of abuse or trauma— he did it because he wanted to get rid of his parents.
- Chalk-drawings of Freddy by dead children appear twice in A Nightmare on Elm Street series (The Dream Master and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare). In a teen example, Kristen builds a diorama of the abandoned house (Nancy's) from her dreams in Dream Warriors.
- An interesting variation appears in Knowing. In the prologue set 50 years ago, a classroom of schoolchildren is asked to draw pictures depicting the future, to be locked into a time capsule that will be opened in the present day. However, one disturbed girl writes down a seemingly random series of numbers, instead of a drawing. MIT professor John Koestler's son takes the piece of paper home, and he accidentally discovers that it is a doomsday prophecy.
- In Dragonfly, Joe's dead wife tries to reach him through the terminally ill children she cared for in the hospital. They begin drawing unnervingly similar pictures of rainbows (which they say are "loud"), and squiggly crosses which appear to be (but are not) dragonflies.
- In Hide and Seek, Emily's drawings of people with two heads are a clue to the mystery.
- The Prophecy has Mary, the young girl at the heart of the film, make some crayon drawings after the soul of a colonel with a very shady past is stored in her body to keep it from the other side. They involve things like barrages of gunfire and civilians impaled on stakes.
- Iron Man 3 has a normal fan give Tony Stark one of his crayon drawings for an autograph. An anxiety attack has Tony turn it into one of these.
ERIN HELP ME
- The somewhat unusual 1988 psychological fantasy/horror film Paperhouse is in some respects a strong example of this trope- the plot is based around the drawings of the lead character (an 11-year-old girl), and the strange events associated with them. In other respects, it's less typical, as the drawings aren't horrifically gory or scary in themselves, so much as they're disturbing in the context of the rest of the film.
- Mama - the opening credits consist entirely of Victoria's drawings of herself and her sister during the five years they spent in the cabin. Some of them are incredibly disturbing - most notably one of what appears to be the smaller sister vomiting blood onto the corpse of some dead animal.
- The Babadook's plot really starts with the discovery of one of these, called "Mr. Babadook", on a little boy's shelf. The book shows the boy's mother gradually being driven mad by the title character, murdering her son and his dog, and then slitting her own throat. There are subtle hints that she may have written the book and put it on the shelf herself. And it's a pop-up book.
- Adult example in Ghostbusters (2016): Rowan's very accomplished illustrations in his copy of Ghosts From Our Past.
- In Orphan, 9-year-old Esther paints a seemingly innocuous picture of a large house. When viewed under a blacklight, a hidden layer of glow paint is revealed, showing that it's actually a painting of a house on fire, with a family dying inside. She would know because she set it.
- Brightburn has the notebook of central character Brandon Bryer, where his mother discovers pretty detailed drawings of the cruelty he both already committed and intends to do.
- Four-year-old Adam from Relative Fear fills his notebook with surprisingly good drawings of the grisly murders he sees on TV, and later of the murders that occur around him. He's actually trying to warn his mother by showing her what the real killer has done; he can't just tell her because he's mute and autistic.
- In Congo by Michael Crichton, the gorilla the heroes are studying repeatedly draws shots of a forest with a yellow eye in the middle. It's implied that said eye belongs to whatever's inhabiting the jungle.
- In a Mickey Mouse novel, he's investigating a case in which dreams are involved. Mickey finds out that a girl that has been exposed to said dreams... and then we find out she spends all of her free time drawing black spiders.
- In House of Leaves, the Navidson children draw entirely black pictures when asked to draw their blue house. Eventually, the narrator starts doing it too.
- H. P. Lovecraft: "The Call of Cthulhu" has adult artists making works inspired by the dreams sent by Cthulhu.
- In Angela and Diabola, Evil Twin Diabola terrifies her teacher by drawing an almost photorealistic picture of an execution. The school principal takes her in for special art classes, and Diabola freaks her out by drawing Diabola's family burning to death. The picture catches fire and burns down the school.
- In The Amityville Horror, Missy draws a picture of Jody (her "imaginary friend" demonic pig) for her father after they abandon the house.
- This trope apparently goes hand in hand with autism in media: In the Stephen King novel The Regulators, an autistic boy who is possessed by a demonic creature draws pictures of the drive-by shooting in which his entire family was killed. The pictures are actually included in the text.
- In It, it's mentioned that the only thing little Patrick Hockstetter (who's a sociopath) ever draws are meaningless loops and scribbles made with brown and black crayon, no matter what he says he's drawing. His mother finds the sameness of it rather disturbing. Later in the chapter, it says Patrick has started drawing pictures of his "killing box," the abandoned refrigerator he uses to starve and suffocate animals to death.
- In The Sisters Grimm, Little Red Riding Hood draws pictures of the family that she use to have before she went mad. At first, they look normal, cheerful and bright. Then, the pictures slowly become darker, until the only colors she used were black and red.
- David invokes this as a child in John Dies at the End, after getting bullied, in order to be put into a special class.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules:
- A milder version of this trope occurs here. Manny (who's only about 3-5) accidentally watches a horror movie that Rodrick (who's about 17) left in the VCR. Greg comes across Manny's drawings later, and remarks that "some of them were enough to give ME nightmares."
- The trope is played with earlier in the book. Greg and his mom and dad had to bail Rodrick out on his science project; Greg had to draw what he thought teenagers would draw after watching violent movies (imitating this trope, but not actually playing it straight).
- In the Jacqueline Wilson book Dustbin Baby April recalls how she was once sent to a psychiatrist, where she is left to play with the toys. She starts to draw a dustbin but notices she is being watched and makes it into a vase of flowers instead. The reason she drew the dustbin was that there wasn't a toy one to put the baby doll in.
- Of course, artists draw all kinds of things, but Beth Ellen Hansen's pictures at the beginning of The Long Secret would tend at least to indicate her frustrations.
- After their early meeting with the school headmistress in Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter, Bill and Lori sit the boys down for a talk about the vampire they claim to have seen. At Bill's request, Will takes up his crayons and draws a picture of it: a thin and pale vampire figure with "canines like stalactites", a voluminous black cloak with a red lining, a cloud of bats around its head, and a lightning bolt in the sky overhead. Lori sums it up this way, "Although the drawing was primitive, it was powerful enough to give me nightmares."
- In Shaman Blues, Anna Dzwon's journal is full of detailed descriptions and sketches of six child victims of series of brutal stabbings, meticulously coloured and annotated. Adding to the creepy factor, Anna was the murderess.
- In the Chicks in Chainmail novel Mathemagics, Erika Stankewicz uses a picture the alien protagonist's daughter was asked to draw of her home to argue that she ought to be transferred to a class for Emotionally and Behaviorally Disturbed children:
Salla had chosen one of her favorite places to illustrate—the Fall of Nauzu's Blood, in the mountains of Zemauri near my home village. She'd captured the splashing of the red-tinged water and the rounded smiles of the great slow-boulders so well that I felt a prickle of nostalgia as I looked at it. She'd even drawn in a cluster of chattering, three-legged krelyk winding around the trees that overhung the waterfall.
"It looks fine to me," I said. "Okay, the colors are a little off and the perspective could have been better, but what can you expect of a sixth-grader?"
"Colors!" Ms. Stankewitz snorted. "Perspective! I'm talking about the subject matter, Ms. Konneva. That place looks like nothing on Earth. A river of blood hurtling over a cliff, three-legged snakes, rocks with faces? Your child is in serious trouble, and it's about time you admitted the fact!"
- Battlestar Galactica:
- In one episode, Hera Agathon horrifies her mother, Sharon, by drawing pictures of the Eye of Jupiter, yellow-haired women, and the number 6. Sharon, meanwhile, had been having dreams of Cylon Number Six (a blonde woman) taking Hera away from her, and walking into the Opera House on Kobol.
- She does it again later in the second half of the season. Her seemingly harmless drawings of "stars" turn out to be musical notation Kara uses to remember a song from her childhood - "All Along the Watchtower".
- One of the films in the Swedish police series Beck involves an autistic boy drawing penises over and over again. It turns out one of his caretakers is abusing him... In a rather humorous turn, when the titular detective tries to get the kid to draw (in a hope that it'll give him clues), Beck draws a rather simplistic pig (another detective later remarks that it looks like a potato). When we later see the kid, his father is rather puzzled by the fact that the kid keeps drawing really detailed pigs.
- Sketch Comedy Show Bienvenidos had a sketch about a school psychologist calling a mother because the son had suddenly shifted from bright, colorful pictures to ominously-looking drawings in black crayon. After discussing what this could mean, they decide to call the boy. The kid of course, is very sane and his drawings are truly innocent, is just that he already used all the other colors of his crayon boxes, and in fact he is truly pissed that they have to come to these extremes so his mom could believe that he really needs a new box.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Killed by Death", a little boy at a hospital compulsively draws a monster that adults can't see. After Buffy kicks its ass, we see a picture he drew of the monster with X-ed out eyes and Buffy standing over it all triumphant-like.
- Played for laughs in the Burn Notice pilot. Michael befriends his client's eight-year-old son, who asks him if he's going to shoot the bad guys. Michael demurs. Later he comes back to talk to the client and finds the kid has drawn a picture of Michael killing a couple people.
Michael: You really want me to shoot somebody, don't you?
- Played with in one episode of Cold Feet. Karen and David were going through a divorce but managed to get on well. When they went to speak to their son's teacher because his marks got considerably worse, David saw a picture on a notice board of honour. It looked like a piece of abstract art with circles and vivid colours, but David was disturbed by it and said no normal child could produce a picture like that. Yes, it was actually painted by his son Josh, and his teacher praised it a great deal, saying that he's a very talented child but she neither dismissed that it might have been triggered by their family crisis.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" has an Inversion: Creepy Child Jamie drew hundreds of pictures of houses and families, in keeping with the "Are you my mummy" theme.
- A variant in "Fear Her", where the Monster of the Week is a possessed young girl. She has drawings of her abusive dad, and of every missing kid in town on her walls... and it's because she drew them that they're missing to begin with. It gets worse when the picture of the abusive dad actually comes to life. The first time it awakens is after a tense period when Rose is trying to find out what's inside a closet. When she opens it, the picture glows red and growls, much the same way a screamer would do in something like the Ghost Car video. The second time, it actually escapes from the closet that it had been drawn inside and walks towards Chloe and her mother, intent on abusing them from beyond the grave.
- The Eleventh Doctor's companion Amy Pond repeatedly drew images of "The Raggedy Doctor" after he first visited her as a child. It's not creepy in the usual way, but it's clear her meeting the Doctor when she was seven has left her with some... issues.
- "In the Forest of the Night": Maebh's exercise book full of drawings predicting the events.
- Eureka had this in its second or third episode, thanks to autistic savant Kevin Blake and a really freaky ghost... well, kind of.
- In Heroes, Molly Walker suffers from nightmares and continually draws the same symbol in her more nightmarish drawings. The eyes were Maury Parkman's. He could see Molly when she tried to find him.
- In one episode of House, a severely autistic boy constantly draws squiggly lines on his whiteboard. The reason? He sees them constantly because he has parasitic worms in his eyeballs.
- Kamen Rider:
- Kamen Rider Fourze had a teenager named Hiroki Makise who had diaries detailing how he would hold hands with a girl he liked... only to then reveal that he had an entry on how he'd crash a bus filled with girls who dumped him (with good reason) and he was happy about it because they were going to be "shooting stars".
- Kamen Rider Den-O has Ryutaros, a Psychopathic Manchild who loves drawing with crayons. When he becomes obsessed with winning Airi's heart by killing Yuto, his drawings include an image of Den-O Gun Form blasting a hole in Yuto's chest.
- Not sure if this actually fits, but Kamen Rider Ryuki explains the origin of all the Monsters in the series as actually those drawings of abandoned children Shiro and Yui Kanzaki, which the former brought to life when he became a Mad Scientist.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
- A more realistic (and possibly more horrific because of it) from Law & Order where a girl draws a picture of herself on a sports field, with an imposing and scary man standing off to the side in a football jersey. Initially, they think it's the coach- her uncle- who's been molesting her, but it turns out he was falsely accused and loses his job because of it. It was actually one of the high-school students on his team.
- One episode had a little boy who witnessed his father bash his mother's head in with a lamp. He trusts Olivia the most, so she's the one who sees the picture he drew of the attack. Lots of red crayon there...
- There's the episode where Benson and Stabler are called in because a little girl is drawing some rather interesting pictures, and her teacher is concerned. Turns out she saw her (underage) big brother and her stepmom doing it.
- One episode with a young bullied boy with apparent split personality disorder, who draws a picture of basketball-playing kids lying dead on the ground with a shadowy figure holding a gun standing over them. The scary guy is "Zoltar", the kid's alter ego that he insists killed the boys when it was the kid himself in response to intense bullying that he couldn't take anymore.
- One of the saddest example from SVU: a little boy who accidentally shot a little girl on the playground at school, draws himself while being interviewed in the squad room. When he's asked what he thinks should happen to him, he draws flames engulfing him because he believes he should burn in hell.
- One girl had her throat slit but lived. She couldn't talk afterwards, so she drew her attacker. She drew the Devil. It gets revealed that the man who attacked her was just nicknamed the Devil.
- An episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent did an interesting variation. Creepy childlike drawings at a crime scene lead the detectives toward a suspect with a child's room in his house, but no proof the man actually has a child. He actually had a dissociative identity disorder and did the drawings while in the personality of a child, but committed the crime in an adult personality, and didn't have a clear memory of what was going on.
- Young Locke liked to draw the Smokey monster in the 'Cabin Fever' flashback in Lost. Strange in that this was years before he first encountered it on the island.
- The trope appeared a few times in Millennium, most notably in the episode "Wide Open". A little girl watched a man murder her mother and father, and she drew the scene many times, with one iteration giving the "bad man" a large red X across his chest. It turns out she recognized the killer as the crossing guard from school. The "X" represented the lines of the reflective safety-gear he wore.
- In Spaced, Daisy skims through Tim's sketchbook and becomes increasingly disturbed by the angry doodles of his ex-girlfriend being horribly tortured... until she gets to the sketch on the last page, depicting Daisy, Tim and their dog above the word "Happiness".
- In Stargate SG-1, there is a character named Cassandra. She's Janet Fraiser's adopted daughter and an alien. She's adopted and living on Earth because a Goa'uld decided to use her, a ten-year-old girl, to set a trap. This trap involves murdering every single person on the entire planet beside her. And then, Cassie was left alone on the planet for at least hours, possibly days, surrounded by the corpses of her family and everyone she knew, completely alone. Later in the episode, when she's at the SGC, Cassie shows Sam her drawings, which are full of stick figures bleeding, lying on the ground dead, or both. And one single stick figure standing up, surrounded by stick-figure corpses.
- A much later episode has an "adult" - but not really - example. A young woman is found in a glass cell in a secret NID facility where every last person was killed, in her cell among other things are dozens of nightmarish drawings. Turns out the NID was experimenting with cloning, trying to mix human and Goa'uld DNA to produce a human with the Goa'uld race memory. The young woman was the product and was only a few months old thanks to accelerated growth. The drawings were an outlet for the buried Goa'uld intelligence which could only manifest while she was sleeping - or when "let loose" by the head scientist on the project.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Datalore", the crew found a bunch of drawings on the wall in Soong's laboratory depicting the Crystalline Entity.
- In an episode of Supernatural, Dean connects with a little boy who's been traumatized into mutism by witnessing his father's drowning. Said boy presents Dean with a picture of swirly dark water, representing the lake, and a red bicycle...
- In the TV series The World Chronicle, a boy is exposed to the view of an alien eating his dog. When the heroes arrive, they ask to see any drawings he's made. We're shown the kid filling in the color of a Pikachu sketch... until the camera pans out to show that the wall is full of menacing drawings of the alien's eyes.
- The X-Files:
- One episode centers around a young boy who compulsively writes seemingly random lines of zeroes and ones on sheet after sheet of paper. In the end, these hundreds of sheets of paper covered in binary are laid out across the living room floor, forming an image of a smiling girl - the boy's missing sister.
- "Fearful Symmetry" had a gorilla who had been taught painting and sign language, and was making pictures of alien spacecraft. She was more communicative than most human examples, explaining it (as best as she could) using sign language.
- "Scary Monsters" had strange insect creatures tormenting the family of a little boy, who drew pictures of strange insect creatures tormenting people. It turned out he was a Reality Warper of sorts with very morbid thoughts that become incredibly realistic hallucinations. The solution? Put him in a blank white room and have him watch TV until it cripples his imagination.
- In episode 10 of The Residents' The Bunny Boy series, the titular character gets an email containing bizarre drawings from a girl named Wendy, specifically three pictures of rabbits in disturbing situations, and one of a cyclops covered in roaches. The song based on the video (or the other way around) also mentions pictures of faces covered in scratch marks, a horse split in half, and a big black spot surrounded by the word "NO!" scribbled a hundred times.
- From Pearl Jam "Jeremy".
At home drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
And the dead lay in pools of maroon below
Daddy didn't give attention
To the fact that mommy didn't care
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world
- From Carach Angren's "Little Hector, What Have You Done?"
Hector was nine,
in school, making colorful drawings most of his time.
One day he made this horrible portrait
of a dead man and his child.
The teacher was shocked!
How could such a young lad
draw a picture so sad?
Hector was asked to explain.
He replied, "It's me and daddy in the attic;
hanging, when we are dead."
- From Mark Cohen's "The Children Draw Guns":
Morning in San Caralampio,
Schoolchildren gather around
From Guatemala, their families have fled to this Mexican town
A woman from north of the border
Opens a box on the floor
Gives them all crayons and paper, some never have seen these before
Draw me a picture of home, she says
Anything you can recall
Use all the colors, then we'll put them up on the wall
And the children draw guns,
Bullets and blood
Soldiers in uniform burning their houses
Trampling gardens to mud
The children of San Caralampio draw pictures of guns
- Comes up several times in the New World of Darkness Sourcebook Innocents, which is based around playing as a child. One chapter opener in particular concerns a boy who, over several days, draws a monster getting closer and closer to his bed. The last drawing he made shows the monster standing directly over his bed, him hiding under the covers...
"Carl drew this one yesterday. When he had art time today, he refused to draw anything. When the teacher threatened to discipline him, he broke down in hysterics."
- In the Vampire: The Masquerade sourcebook Time of Thin Blood, the fictional prose included insane asylum patients drawing simplistic stick figures with hungry maws in place of heads during the Week of Nightmares.
- Silent Hill:
- Inverted in Silent Hill: Alessa kept on drawing monsters that ended up being in Dark Silent Hill.
- In Silent Hill 3, this becomes even creepier if you haven't played the first game. You go through the whole game fighting these truly horrifying monsters... only to discover them all, in the last level, as drawings strewn about the floor of Alessa's room. Given who you're playing in that game, it's even worse in a way. Though hindsight says the fight on the carousel was foreshadowing.
- In Silent Hill 4, you see one of Walters' kiddie drawings of Eileen... the drawing gives her a big, bloody, spikey mess growing in her belly.
- Present in Silent Hill: Homecoming, where the protagonist's younger brother, Josh, has left disturbing crayon drawings throughout Sheperd's Glen and Silent Hill. Bonus points because most of them are accompanied by couplets that add up to a local children's rhyme about the Bogeyman.
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines has you explore an abandoned hotel that's haunted by the spirit of a guest that went mad and slaughtered his family. In one bedroom, amidst a pile of toys and colouring books, you find a picture drawn by one of the murdered children: it shows a happy family holding hands- but the father's been replaced by a hideous wild-haired creature surrounded by flames.
- In the hospital level of Max Payne 2, one wall is adorned by a child's crayon drawings that recap the blood-and-tragedy-filled first game.
- Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth features one of these drawn by a fairly precious Creepy Child. The "pictures of Mommy and Daddy", along with her comments about Mommy make the book a perfect candidate to this category.
- The Suffering: Ties That Bind:
- Torque's son Cory draws a picture of his father's mental state: Torque lies pinned to the ground by his monstrous insanity form as Carmen and Blackmore look on. An impressive feat of Nightmare Fuel considering that Cory has been dead for quite some time when this picture was drawn.
- Jordan's guide to the various Malefactors not only includes photographs and artistic sketches, but a few drawings clearly produced by children. Thankfully, the game doesn't go into explicit detail as to what happened to these young artists, though players can probably guess that it wasn't pleasant.
- Some storybooks in Rule of Rose.
- In Parasite Eve 2, your main target is Eve, a young girl who was grown from your own superhuman DNA, in order to control the genetic monsters that the evil organization are also making. Her 'upbringing' has left her rather disturbed, as you see when you find her 'play-room'... childish crayon-drawings of people burning to death or being devoured by monsters...
- In Project Origin, one of the classrooms at Wade Elementary has a bunch of crayon drawings by the children posted up on the wall. These drawings include flaming demon heads, towering piles of dead bodies, people on fire, random drawings of Alma, and the Point Man shooting Paxton Fettel. The last one is particularly disturbing after a bit of thought, because the game takes place the day after the aforementioned event occurs, which also takes place literally minutes before the nuclear explosion that killed everyone in the school happens, and all of the children in the school are actually supposed to either be psychic or potential psychics.
- In Heavy Rain, after the Time Skip, Shaun's room contains a crayon drawing of the accident that killed his brother and hospitalized his father.
- Occurs in both BioShock and BioShock 2 by the Little Sisters, one Tear Jerker example includes tombstones with "Mom" and "Dad" on them.
- Condemned 2: Bloodshot has this in spades in the doll factory.
- In the intro cutscene to AMY, the title character is seen drawing a chaotic scene of the Zombie Apocalypse that left most of the city's inhabitants dead.
- Carrie Careless and the Galette des Rois from Ib.
- The entirety of Mary's world is drawn like that
- In the Thief fan mission Rose Cottage, you discover drawings by an undertaker's daughter which feature colourful pictures of her family, and which also include threatening-looking, ghostlike men drawn in grey.
- The entire point of the indie horror game Slender is to collect eight sketchy drawings and notes warning of some mysterious, slender thing that was stalking the person who drew them. And said thing is now stalking you ever more persistently with each new note you find...
- In the flashback epilogue of Otherworld: Spring of Shadows the little girl the main character spent the entire game searching for drew a picture of the villain, an evil fey, shortly before it killed her parents and abducted her.
- The boardinghouse Grim Tales 5: Bloody Mary takes place in is filled with creepy little stick-figure drawings on the walls and furniture, in addition to occasional scrawled comments such as "Mary's coming for you."
- One of these is evidence in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2's final case, which features a crime that took place at an orphanage 12 years ago. It depicts the President of Zheng Fa in his last moments before being assassinated. Further, the kid who drew it turns out to be the Big Bad of the game.
- Emily Kaldwin from Dishonored draws a lot of pictures of charming events, such as the rat plague and Corvo's creepy mask. Depending on how violent Corvo himself is throughout the game, they get even more disturbing.
- Corpse Party, which makes sense given the whole story is about grader students getting killed by scissors, and the cursed kids are trying to kill you using scissors.
- The White Desert in Yume Nikki certainly evokes this style, being completely white with black "drawings" and splashes of red here and there, and containing a lot of Body Horror creatures drawn in a childish style. For this reason, along with the creepy minimalist music and multitude of strange and scary events, it's often considered the scariest area of the game. The creepy portraits you can glimpse in the sewers qualify as well.
- The protagonist from Among the Sleep is a toddler who seems to be pulled into a Dark World littered with these sorts of pictures of him, his loving mother, and a dark figure pursuing/terrorizing them both. The figure turns out to be a metaphor for the mother's alcohol abuse and mental issues, which can turn her from a loving mother into a terrifying, abusive figure for the child.
- The Walking Dead episode 4 of season 1, you can find a drawing Clementine made of the player character, Lee, burying a dead boy in the backyard. It's notable because that's the last known drawing Clementine ever makes.
- Off's final level, The Room, has sections that look like levels drawn by a very disturbed child.
- Several such drawings appear in Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker, each depicting a grisly death/murder which took place near where each drawing is found. It turns out that the drawings are modern versions of those which appear on the walls of an Indian shaman's tomb, created by a boy possessed by the shaman's evil spirit.
- Wick explains how each of the five ghost children behave via creepy children's drawings.
- Batman: The Telltale Series features a rather distressing example, the main villain of the season used to be trapped inside a very tiny room, with chains and belts used for physical punishment stained in blood. All she had was some crayons which she used to draw on the wall her plans of revenge and a very creepy doll she made herself. Thanks to this drawing, Batman was able to figure the plan of the big bad.
- Boogeyman: As the nights go by, the pictures Thomas puts up on his wall grow increasingly horrific. The poor kid's psyche has obviously taken a battering.
- Bio Apocalypse is a Real Life example of this trope, which is a graphic novel written by a 12-year-old where the entire Earth gets turned into the Bloody Bowels of Hell. Subverted once you get to the end, as it contains both a Surprisingly Happy Ending and An Aesop about the conflict between science and religion which is quite nuanced and thoughtful.
- The image from TheZombieHunters, above, which a little boy is drawing instead of watching the cutesy safety film about zombie attacks.
- From SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal - loosely classifiable as an inversion?
- Some of the far more disturbing scenes in the infamous Sonichu can only be described as this, in no small part due to the art style being worse than a 6-year old's first drawing. Particularly the execution of the Asperpedia Four in Sonichu #10.
- Family Portrait. Made all the worse by the fact that the teacher, even after seeing all the drawings, suspects absolutely nothing. The drawings are respectively of a man who has blood in his feces, a girl, her sibling and grandma visiting her mother in jail, but Clarissa made two drawings: Clarissa's family eating breakfast (that is far, far from the truth), and her other drawing is eerily similar to an Interspecies Romance between a squirrel drawn suspiciously like her and a wolf drawn suspiciously like her father. She also implies that the wolf raped the squirrel. The teacher all but catches on.
- Pocket Princesses: Rapunzel encouraged some of her roommates to paint a picture of a monster on a wall. The monsters in question resemble Randall.
Rapunzel: So...let's talk about our childhoods...
- Forest Hill: Benni makes a disturbing drawing while staying at Flora's, which she turns in as evidence that he is being abused.
- The John Dies at the End tie-in blog features an entry in which John and Dave start appearing in the crayon pictures of a young boy that they've never met. (possibly NSFW)
- Madame Talbot's Victorian Lowbrow blog has featured, among other things, the webmaster's childhood drawings. Most of them involve some combination of vampires, coffins, skulls, and syringes... not too different from the rest of the site, really.
- Parodied, like many things, by The Onion, which played this trope on Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe incident".
- The Creepypasta "Little Pink Backpack"
- The Story Of My New House: A Web Original Fiction which tells a horror story of Haunted House from the perspective of a seven-year-old, accompanying the short texts with his drawings.
- Marble Hornets:
- It has Alex drawing hundreds of pictures of the Slender Man, as well as the mysterious Operator Symbol.
- Just Another Fool, a spinoff ARG blog of the Slenderman Mythos, includes an entry where the journal that was passed to both of the Slender Man's victims is examined via YouTube video. The video reveals not only the drawings that the journal's owner made, but the ADDITIONS to said drawings that the journal's next keeper made, outlining stick figure corpses that were only faint outlines on the original sketches.
- Because of MH and JAF, almost ALL of the Slender Man ARGs that came after include creepy drawings of this nature.
- In episode 5 of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, Jane persuades her student Adele, who is somewhat of a child prodigy in this version, to draw pictures. Some of them were beautiful and lovely, like a picture of Jane or a picture of Adele's dog Pilot. But Mr Rochester, her father, is drawn on a mountain as a very distant figure, and the last image Jane shows is him with a big apple in his face.
- Web Video/Fred: The titular character gets into trouble at school for drawing bad pictures.
- The Simpsons:
- Bart draws a seriously disturbed illustration expressing his first days in school in "Lisa's Sax". Fans commonly refer to it as the "SAD drawing".◊
Marge: Homer, I want you to look at this drawing Bart did.Homer: (takes drawing but without taking his eyes off of the TV) Ohhh, it's beautiful! Oh! Oh let's put Bart's beautiful drawing up on the fridge—Marge: Homer, stop! Would you please LOOK at the drawing?Homer: Oh, alright. (looks) Wha— AAAAAH! BURN IT! SEND IT TO HELL!
- In "See Homer Run" after Lisa goes on a misandrist rampage at school, Dr. Pryor deems the cause to be a lack of faith in her father and presents some essays she wrote of his past blunders, accompanied by pictures. These include Daddy's Face-Down Thanksgiving (Homer sleeping at the table with his face in his food), Left at the Grand Canyon (Lisa all alone in a trench) and The Day a Policeman Came to My Soccer Game (Homer getting arrested and shouting "I'll sue you all!").
- In "Clown in the Dumps", Lisa becomes obsessed with keeping Homer from eating himself to death, and soon Miss Hover calls Marge over to show her some drawings she made of her trying to get Homer to exercise and of him dying and getting hauled away in an elephant ambulance.
- Bart draws a seriously disturbed illustration expressing his first days in school in "Lisa's Sax". Fans commonly refer to it as the "SAD drawing".◊
- Family Guy:
- Lois is called in for a parent-teacher conference to discuss Stewie's drawings, all of which show him murdering her in brutal ways. The conclusion Lois and the teacher come to? He needs to spend more time with Peter since he is not present in any of the drawings.
- In "Stewie Kills Lois", Stewie throws out some crayon drawings of Lois getting bloodily killed to get Brian off his back about her "disappearance". Peter's friends then come by the trash and find the drawings, believing that Peter drew them (since his handwriting is already so poor).
- Invader Zim:
- One episode had Dib drawing a picture of Zim being dissected while conscious and screaming at his now-exposed organs.
- In another episode, Dib shows Gaz his blueprints for an invention to defeat Zim, while Gaz shows Dib a picture of him being eaten by a monster.
- OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes:
- In T.K.O. Rules, a series of four drawings can be found during T.K.O.'s Hit Flashes that paint a rather troubling picture, to say the least.
- The website Coloring Book Corruption is a collection of images from coloring books that have been defaced to depict various scenes of debauchery. Of course, whether or not it's actually Nightmare Fuel or side-splittingly hilarious all depends upon what sense of humor you have. Also, mind that link, since many of the images on it are NSFW.
- On a documentary about the Israeli-Palestine conflict, there was this 10-year-old girl who drew her dead mother bleeding over her as she was crying and her older brother holding his dead baby while its brains were spilling out.
- There's also this infamous drawing from Sderot◊
- Reader's Digest had a piece on a 12-year old boy who survived Hurricane Katrina and drew excellent pictures of the flooding that killed his mother and made him homeless.
- A surprising subversion to this occurred in real-life tragedy. Dedrick Owens found a handgun in his uncle's home and took it to school with him, and wound up shooting and killing Kayla Rolland when they were both only 6 years old. While Dedrick was at the police station, only fifteen minutes after the shooting, one police detective gave him a set of crayons to occupy him. Dedrick drew a picture of himself outside his house, smiling and the detective had the picture framed, keeping it hung in his office. Preserving the last moments of innocence, it could be supposed.
- Said case also inspired the episode "Baby Killer" of Law and Order: SVU.
- There's a whole sub-field of psychology devoted to this: art therapy. Like play therapy, where children are encouraged to act out their traumas so they can learn to deal with them, art therapists get them to draw pictures or make play-dough sculptures. Anyone who has trouble communicating verbally or in writing might find it useful, including teenagers and people with Pervasive Developmental Disorders, the family that includes autism. Senior centers, nursing homes and assisted living places offer it just as a way of communicating and staying engaged.
- In the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, there was a story about a mother and her son who were abducted by the mother's ex-boyfriend. The kidnapper made the kid hide under a blanket while he beat the mother to death. Later, a psychologist asked the son to draw a picture; the result was a race car driver with a pair of humongous eyes.
- As an art student or artistic person, one has to be careful to avoid invoking this. Obviously watching TV/reading books/absorbing popular culture will mean one might want to draw bloody things or bizarre things from time to time, that are completely non-indicative of one's experiences and personality. However people will often be a little disturbed if they see said pictures - well... except perhaps at an art school.
- The children that were allowed to be taken out of the Waco compound before the fatal showdown happened had been given crayons and paper, and many of them drew cheery little houses and rainbows - with said houses going up in flames, and many of them were days before the actual compound went up in smoke. Along with carefully drawn bullet holes in the walls and roof.
- Edmund McMillen was apparently sent to a psychiatrist for his bizarre and morbid doodles as a child. It didn't take, and a lot of said doodles were updated later in his life and put into The Binding of Isaac.
- More than once, teachers of refugee children have been startled to find them drawing pictures of the wartorn environments their families had just recently escaped. The song "The Children Draw Guns" (see the Music folder) was written after the author saw a display of these.
- The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has this one 
- Ant in a Glass Jar is a biography written by Polina Zherebtsova, a survivor from The Chechnya Wars that wrote it as a child attached with drawings she made from the conflict.
- Morgan E. Geyser, one of the two girls behind the Slender Man Stabbing had a lot of creepy drawings related to The Slender Man found in her room by investigators after the incident. There were also a few mutilated Barbie dolls covered in body markings from a red marker.