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Nightmare Retardant

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"I am Ro-Man of the Gorilla Divers Association!"

"I think this video's supposed to be like, freaking us out, but like, I'm unfreaked. In fact, this video is making me feel totally normal."
Beavis and Butt-Head regarding Silverchair's "Tomorrow" music video.

The polar opposite of Accidental Nightmare Fuel: Something meant to be truly terrifying (or at least somewhat frightening or disturbing) which instead comes off as stupid, laughable, cute, or all of them. As with Nightmare Fuel, examples will often be subjective; what one may consider this, another may still find terrifying as heck. Often caused by Special Effects Failure or Stock Sound Effects; sometimes, for older titles with now-outdated special effects, it can simply be an example of said effects visibly aging. Also often unintentionally invoked when a character looks or sounds like a less frightening character from another work. Of course, when used intentionally, it could be an Intended Audience Reaction.

May be caused by, or be the cause of, Villain Decay.

Many B-movie creature features, especially those featured on MST3K, were chock full of this since most of them had very low budgets and had to rely on puppets and guys wearing carpets over their heads for their creature effects.

On the other hand, this effect can be deliberately invoked by the artists. For instance, there can be scenes of horror and of menacing evil, but it can be countered with reassuring images and music as powerful heroes learn of the menace or are otherwise called into action to stop it. Or the work is child friendly and any potentially frightening elements are Bowdlerised to avoid scaring the kids watching. It can also be done In-Universe, usually to comedic effect or to show that the character being frightened by the non-scary thing is a wimp (such as a character having an Absurd Phobia).

Compare Faux Horrific, which involves horrified reactions to mundane objects and occurrences played for comedic effect. Contrast Nothing Is Scarier, which is a possible way to avert this trope by not showing the monster at all and letting the characters — and audience — scare themselves with the fantasy of what it might be. For In-Universe examples, see Failed Attempt at Scaring.

See also Narm. Compare Fetish Retardant for the Fanservice equivalent, and contrast Lightmare Fuel where the horror aspect is made fun of but still manages to be scary.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • One advertisement for Traveler's Insurance has a rattlesnake surprising a hare...except that its rattle was a baby rattle. Cue the hare falling over with laughter and other hares coming out and laughing as well. The snake is understandably mortified.note 
  • "K-fee", a German brand of coffee, had a TV advertising campaign with several adverts featuring several peaceful and tranquil locations... until the peace is broken at the last second when a zombie or gargoyle suddenly pops up from nowhere and lets out a loud, monstrous scream.note  In the following year, however, parodies of three of the adverts were made to promote the new "K-fee Lite", which had men in silly costumes popping up at the end instead of the more realistic zombie or gargoyle screaming. The car parody had a man in a girly outfit slowly rising up and saying "Boo" in a casual voice. The sunset beach parody featured a man in a teddy bear costume also saying "Boo", and the golf parody features a man in a sort of demon costume making a silly roaring noise, with the top part of his head and antennas visible throughout the advert before he actually pops up.
  • This Public Service Announcement made by Greenpeace, despite being called "frightening" in the description of the upload, is far more likely to cause the viewer to laugh. It shows a badly edited-in plane crashing into a nuclear power plant for no reason at all, cutting off to imply that it caused a nuclear accident, but the power stations are built with thick walls to prevent such accidents from happening.

  • Attack on Titan: As terrifying as the titular Titans can be, the appearances, expressions, and actions they can get up to will often make taking them seriously almost impossible if they're not currently trying to eat someone. Like the titan who poses like he's channeling DIO, or the one who runs making finger gun motions.
  • Digimon:
    • Belial Vamdemon from Digimon Adventure 02 (MaloMyotismon in the dub). In addition to looking completely stupid, he just stands there and gets pummelled like a moron before literally being killed by the power of children's dreams.
    • And his Venom Vamdemon form in the first season wasn't much better, acting mainly like a fairly bland and stupid kaijuu wannabe with a supernatural backstory... up until the "crotch monster" came out. Then it divided everyone between freakish dismay and immature giggling.
    • Apocalymon. His quips in the dub make him the most pathetic Big Bad in the series until Belial Vamdemon. To be fair, he is probably just utterly insane and Laughably Evil. Still, some of his lines are pure fourth-wall-breaking awesome.
  • As creepy or scary as some of the dungeon monsters in Delicious in Dungeon are, it's hard to stay intimidated after you see them cooked into delicious Food Porn.
  • Hellsing Ultimate, while awesome in many ways, would probably have been a lot more frightening if it weren't for all the Gratuitous English. The upbeat drums during the Nazis butchering Londoners while the Major er...ate lunch...epically? rather killed the scariness you'd expect of Nazi vampires killing random Londoners and reviving them as cannibal zombies. This display of callous brutality and the deaths of thousands of noncombatants at the hands of vampires was accompanied by a cheerful drum beat and a chorus of "AKUMA STALKING, DO DO DO DO!" Soundtrack Dissonance much?
  • Random Security Guard Guy being squished with Mortal Kombat blood-spray in WXIII: Patlabor The Movie 3. It actually won an award in a magazine for being the most hilarious death of the year.
  • Gantz is not scary or horrifying at all, in spite of the egregious amounts of gore. This is mainly due to the fact that, first off, the English dub borders on Gag Dub territory, and second off the series is already slightly Black Comedy to begin with. The manga, on the other hand, is A LOT less campy and a lot more disturbing.
  • Mazinger Z: Count Brocken's appearance—a man whose head and body are split apart, and the former constantly hovers around the later, talking, laughing and screaming—was meant be frightening (in the manga he got Kouji reaaally scared when he showed up for the first time; and in the anime Baron Ashura initially thought it a bodyless ghost). Buuuut in the manga Boss managed to grab his head when he got distracted, and Kouji and his friends played fetch and Brocken Ball with it (think of it like soccer, but replacing the ball with Brocken's head. And the only rule is everyone wins. Except the ball). It was a tad hard taking him seriously after that. That scene did not happen in the anime, but on the other hand you had Brocken's head and body arguing with themselves—and the body punching the head—or Ashura grabbing his head and instead of bringing it back with the body, slapping him around. The "Brocken Ball" scene finally took place in Shin Mazinger. It REALLY didn't help Brocken's reputation.
  • In Naruto:
    • Pain is very hard to take seriously ever since his true form has been revealed: an emaciated guy in a wheelchair with bright red hair that would make Carrot Top proud. Others can see his appearance as arguably even more scary and disturbing with the Fridge Horror attached. There's his Motive Rants, which combined with excessive body piercings makes him sound like an Emo Teen. The terrible, terrible animation quality during the Pain arc did not help, of course.
    • Manga chapter 427, where he gets knocked across the room by twelve-year-old comic relief character Konohamaru.... Of course, he later recovers from the hit and doesn't even need to repair that body.
    • Orochimaru is introduced as a thoroughly creepy character: eating people's faces off and taking on the role of an already creepy woman (?) and first making himself known by picking up a kunai knife with his tongue and talking about bloodlust because he lost some hair... which all comes into perspective after the Internet "outed" him as gay. His otherwise creepy Body Transfer Technique loses its scary appeal entirely when inside it. That tongue. His expression.
  • The balloon monster from Corpse Princess. Sure, its bizarre marker-drawn face and creepy voice does slightly help it. What doesn't is its theme. Having an invisible balloon lightly wrap its string around its victim's neck to turn their happiness into a marshmallow monster doesn't exactly scream scary.
  • Bleach:
    • There is a creature known as Ayon, who is actually genuine Nightmare Fuel for the first few moments of its introduction. That is, until its ridiculous face is revealed (what we had thought was its face was more like a nose, and its eyes and mouth are hidden), and all fear is promptly forgotten, even as it starts tearing through Soul Reapers like butter and almost eats one of them.
    • Aizen has been going through some One-Winged Angel phases as of late. Unfortunately for him, these have only gotten sillier and sillier. The first one has garnered Fan Nicknames along the line of "Tube Sock Ninja" and "Condomman" and led to jokes about how Tite Kubo finally let his background artists design a character. The next was essentially him with a mullet, and as long as you focused on his eyes, only mildly Narmful. But then he went and morphed into a six-winged seraph with butterfly wings, and his next comment was drowned out by the chorus of laughter from everyone reading. Made even funnier by the fact that his earlier comments about evolving into a superior being had earned him the Fan Nickname Butterflyzen, which was suddenly perfectly appropriate. Thankfully, his final transformation while fighting Ichigo went back to appropriately horrifying when his face split open to reveal a Hollow-like monstrosity and his wings turned into part tentacle horror with eyeless mouths on the ends.
    • When Tousen revealed he'd hollowfied, much of the dramatic impact was lost when his transformed version looked like a big ol' sperm.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, one of the lines the Lieze twins says during said scene can be translated close to "you have no chance to survive make your time." Cue viewer going "Ha Ha Ha".
  • Maria's faces in the Anime adaptation of Umineko: When They Cry. The original visual novel succeeded in making Maria creepy through subtle expressions and description. That's not mentioning her head on a plate, that instead of creeping most fans out, inevitably reminded them of Tako Luka, and thus ended up being morbidly cute. The Anime decided to take a different route... (Warning: Link is not an example of this trope.)
  • In the translated version of The Enigma of Amigara Fault, the sound effect DRR DRR DRR doesn't quite read in many people's minds the way the translator intended.
  • The monsters in Mermaid Saga would have been a little ridiculous no matter what, given their ridiculously oversize eyes. The capital mistake, though, was to have the first one in the manga be a still-sentient Woobie with a speech impediment. It's hard to take the later Smash Mooks seriously at all. (To be fair, the primary fear here isn't being killed by one of these freaks, but turning into one of them.)
  • Mimi no Kaidan, illustrated by horror master Junji Ito, features some prime nightmare retardant. Works best on a small screen and out of context.
  • Sailor Moon:
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry much of the horror comes from not knowing what is causing all these horrible occurrences to happen and why. As the second season explains more and more, much of the original horror is lost. Perhaps most notably in finding out that the sinister deity Oyashiro-sama is in fact Hanyuu, a Cute Ghost Girl who just wanted to help all along. On a similar note, in both seasons, there are moments where the "crazy faces" kill the horror.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Charlotte's One-Winged Angel form in is a large worm made out of candy with a face that looks like a grinning clown (and not a Slasher Smile at that). It's thus hard to take seriously until it devours Mami unless you are afraid of clowns. Though one could argue that its cute appearance made biting Mami's head off a million times worse. The manga version is slightly less nightmare retardant.
    • The Witches and their labyrinths can turn into this. While the imagery is supposed to give off a feeling of other-worldliness, it's hard to take seriously when it most of the designs look they were lifted from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Rei Ayanami was meant to be creepy, and probably is. Suffices to say that she has an entry at the Moe page.
    • Kaworu was also meant to be unsettling. He ended up becoming a fan favorite and many people were actually happy he showed up because of how utterly depressing the series had gotten.
    • End of Evangelion is meant to be terrifying, with everyone dissolving into LCL and becoming assimilated into a single consciousness. Except that LCL looks like orange juice. Cue the "everyone melts into Tang" meme.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • There's an example almost certainly done on purpose. Mysterious old man Onji, who had just effortlessly beaten Kuwabara, rips off his face like a mask...and then, in a puff of cartoonish pink smoke, reveals himself as "The Beautiful Demon Fighter" Suzuki. The horror of both the characters and the audience is instantly replaced with hilarious incredulity.
    • Done again the first time we see Puu. We find out that the egg that Yusuke got when he was dead is about to hatch. Koenma goes on to warn him how even he doesn't know what will come out, or what it will do. Yusuke stands to face whatever is about to appear. The egg hatches, he looks around. The spirit 'beast' is an adorable blue penguin with Yusuke's hairstyle. It is perched on his head.
  • Mentioned in The Garden of Sinners by Aozaki in Paradox Spiral on how not to make it a monster a Nightmare Retardant, one of those rules being that the monster has to be something that is unknowable.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In Pokemon4ever, when Celebi is turned evil, it creates a giant dragon-esque monster made of forest debris. Any chance of it being frightening is destroyed by the extremely dated CGI and the odd, awkward bellowing sound it makes.
    • Guzzlord is one of the most horrifying looking Pokémon and the two-part episode it first appeared in is arguably one of the darkest episodes in the Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon. What it sounds in the Japanese version however painfully tries to be terrifying but instead the screams it makes are downright laughable and unfitting. Even worse is that people widely compared it to Tom's screams of all things, making the fear factor die out even more.
  • The climax of Tamagotchi: The Movie involves Mametchi and Tanpopo very nearly being sucked into a black hole in space; the black hole is itself a Tamagotchi, so everyone on Tamagotchi Planet shouts "Please wake up, Blackholetchi!" to save them. Blackholetchi, when he finally does wake up and realizes what's going on, resembles a giant space squid and has an equally goofy voice on top of being as friendly as most other Tamagotchis.

    Comic Books 
  • Ambush Bug: One issue featured Quantis, the koala that walks like a man who is really Dr Quentin Quantis turned into a giant koala thanks to a serum containing the essence of cuteness. This giant marsupial even has the authorities going "Aaaaaw!" rather than trying to destroy it. It sounds really funny doesn't it? Then there's the fact that it goes "Niknak!".
  • Captain America: The Red Skull had the same problem in the Silver Age, with his skull-shaped space-station (red, of course). It wasn't as scary as he likely wanted it to be, probably the reason he got rid of such stuff in more modern times.
  • Iron Man: In a word, M.O.D.O.K.. When A.I.M. first created this guy, a mutated, ugly head with small arms and legs on a high-tech chair with the brain of an Evil Genius, he was pretty intimidating. Unfortunately, Villain Decay made him more and more ridiculous, even more so when they introduced a Distaff Counterpart called "M.O.D.A.M.". M.O.D.O.K. has since become an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, whose Crowning Moment of Stupidity was likely challenging Thor to a fight - only to be smashed in one hit.
  • The Multiversity: In-universe in Ultra Comics #1, Intellectron is considered to be this. Ultra utilizes comments laughing at his appearance and calling him "an evil egg" with "evil batwings" in their battle.
  • My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic: The Siren's issue of can be this for them, since My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks implied they were a much bigger threat than they're actually presented as here.
  • Silent Hill: Your view on Christabella from Silent Hill: Dying Inside will probably range somewhere between "scary" and "creepy". But the moment she starts swearing like a sailor, you will most likely zero in on "ridiculous".
  • Superman: As awesome as the Superman: Brainiac arc in Action Comics was (which actually contained fairly competent, if mild, nightmare fuel) it also contained spaceships shaped like skulls.
  • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: Invoked In-Universe. Doctor Octopus thinks his Flying Octopus looks menacing. Spider-Man thinks it looks dumb. And goofy. But mostly dumb.
  • The Thing from Another World: The comic and its miniseries thrive on killing whatever horror you felt for the movie, ranging from Child's thing going full Rambo to Eternal Vows bizarre musings on fish.
  • Who Goes There?: The comic book adaption (the same story that The Thing (1982) was based on) showed what the monster's original form looked like. It looked a goofy fuzzy green humanoid with stringy white hair and three bulging red eyes. A character in the comic said "It looks like pure evil!". Linkara in his review of the comic burst out laughing when he saw this and said it look like a rejected Muppet or a little green man from Toy Story wearing a wig. In later episodes an adorable plushy based on it can be seen on the shelf behind Linkara.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Trolls: Although Chef is already despicable-looking by herself, the movie makes some bland attempts to always make her appear scary whenever she shows up, especially it comes to the stereotypical storm and Evil Laugh, both of which happen when she speaks to the kidnapped Snack Pack members about her intention to overthrow Gristle.
  • Frozen: Marshmallow's two lines "Go away!" and "Don't come baaack!" makes him sound more like a disgruntled teenager than an intimidating bodyguard.
  • The Pagemaster: The original Hound of the Baskervilles was a glowing, eerie sight that could terrorize a man into running himself to death due to luminous paint, but it's just a normal dog (albeit big and snappy) in this film.
  • Quest for Camelot:
    • The creation of the Ruber's metal henchmen could have been fairly unnerving in both concept and execution, but their transformations are accompanied by ridiculous cartoonish sound effects and a goofy chicken getting turned into an axe, which really sucks a lot of the terror out of the scene.
    • Similarly, the following chase scene could have been scary, as Kayley is fleeing for her life... except that it features Ruber's goofy minions following her on hilariously small mounts while rather unfitting music plays in the background.
  • Max's nightmare in the beginning of A Goofy Movie. His embarrassment about his father and worries about being too much like him cause him to dream about literally turning into Goofy in front of Roxanne, in a parody of a classic werewolf transformation with Goofy's trademark laugh in place of the traditional howl. On the other hand, some may find the transformation scary due to the sheer Body Horror it features.
  • Don Bluth was regarded as an expert at straight Nightmare Fuel in his peak year films, but as he was forced to tone down the content of his films, the scares usually went away with them:
    • The Grand Duke of Owls from Rock-A-Doodle is supposed to be a scary villain, but he's just so goofy in characterization and concept (he uses his magical powers by puking lucky charm clouds) that it's impossible to take him seriously.
    • A Troll in Central Park; the villain Gnorga has mildly frightening elements (namely her ability to imprison people helplessly in stone), but she has such a one-dimensional personality that she comes off as a petty bully instead of a truly fearsome villain. One scene that especially falls flat is when she and her husband chase after Rosie and Gus. It's very hard for them to look threatening when they chase after them on tiny tricycles.
    • Anastasia has some of this with the film's Villain Song, "In the Dark of the Night". The song is considered by fans to be very solid, and Rasputin himself is scary being a rotting corpse bent on getting his revenge on the title character. However, there's nothing else scary going on in the song itself, with the visuals mostly consisting of singing and dancing bugs and Bartok being tormented by them.
    • Ludmilla's transformation into a dragon in Bartok the Magnificent. The preceding scene, where she gradually transforms from a lean, graceful physique into a humongous monster and is blissfully unaware of it, is very grotesque and unsettling—but the final result, a fat pink dragon with pajama button like bumps on her belly, is downright laughable.
  • Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings suffers this during the scene where Gandalf and his companions are in the mines of Moria being attacked by goblins. Suddenly a fearsome roar is heard, the frightened goblins cease their attack, and the crowd parts to reveal the Balrog, a fiery demon that...looks like a bipedal Chow Chow with butterfly wings, who looks like he is wearing fluffy slippers. No, seriously. This is especially interesting to consider in light of the fact that this film's depiction of the Balrog turned one of Tolkien's most fearsome creations into a total joke, for the Orcs it did the exact opposite: turning Sauron's mooks into a hellish red vision of faceless, rotoscoped shadow people, accompanied by demonic chanting and a frantic, discordant trumpet blare.
  • In-universe in Monsters University. Mike is the top student in scaring class. He knows the material inside and out, he knows what techniques to use to scare what kids, etc. By rights, he should have gone on to become a record-breaking scarer. Unfortunately, he's a bright green ball with arms and legs sticking out of it and barely larger than a toddler. When he finally gets into the human world to prove himself, no one finds him scary.

  • An in-story example comes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Prof. Lupin is describing a boggart, a creature that turns into whatever the person in front of it is most afraid of. A boggart's weakness, however, is trying to scare more than one person at a time. Lupin recounts a time when he saw a boggart try to turn into both a headless corpse and a flesh-eating slug at once: "Turned himself into half a slug. Not remotely frightening." Emphasized in the primary narrative when Neville admits that the thing he is most afraid of is Professor Snape, closely followed by his grandmother. But Professor Snape dressed in grandmother's clothes... not remotely frightening.
  • Many, many Goosebumps stories, usually due to either a ridiculous/nonfrightening subject matter or shoddy writing, or both. Due to having different story elements between each book, the level of quality varies like you wouldn't believe, with many stories landing this trope pitifully easily, and others ending up being...genuinely terrifying. Sometimes in ways that the author didn't intend.
  • In-universe example: during The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy is separated from the party and forced to break into a magician's study to find a spell. She climbs up the stairs and goes down the long hallway on her own, during which everything is dead silent and creepy masks watch her from the wall — she even gets a minor Jump Scare when she catches a glimpse of her reflection in a "bearded mirror" (a mirror that makes her look as though she has a beard). However, once she gets the spell, Aslan himself shows up and the magician, Coriakin, turns out to be a Cool Old Guy,
    and Lucy noticed how different the whole top floor looked now that she was no longer afraid of it. The mysterious signs on the doors were still mysterious but now looked as if they had kind and cheerful meanings, and even the bearded mirror now seemed funny rather than frightening.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7, coming out at the same time as classic Who and sharing its lack of special effects budget and some of the same production team, had its own howlers:
    • Brian the Spider is the most famous. "The Harvest of Kairos" called for a terrible alien lifeform that makes Kairos uninhabitable for most of the year. The special-effects department delivered a giant orange snail with legs, which wobbled oh-so-slowly towards our heroes as the otherwise scarily competent Dayna forgot how to use her own legs.
    • A wobbly Tin-Can Robot with a flamethrower that drops out of its groin, causing it to be dubbed "The Flasher". Instead of becoming the next Dalek, the Security Robot was used for two episodes and then quietly dropped.
    • "Animals" features Half-Human Hybrid Super Soldiers who have huge yak horns for no apparent reason. Their fur-covered bodies and mournful expressions make you wonder why people don't just give them a hug instead of shooting them.
    • In "Time Squad", Jenna is attacked by a genetically-created homicidal maniac... in a Porn Stache.
    • In "Moloch", the titular villain, supposedly an extrapolation of the ultimate lifeform, turns out to be a hook-nosed, one-eyed Little Green Man in a Can who looked like a fried chicken! Apparently, the cast kept laughing so hard they eventually had to film heroes and villain separately.
    • Shivan from "Voice from the Past", ostensibly a once-famous Rebel Leader who's been so tortured and disfigured by the evil Federation that he's barely able to move or see or speak. Instead we get a shuffling Bandage Mummy in a green cape whose dialogue is totally incomprehensible. The Reveal that he's The Dragon in disguise doesn't help matters either.
    • In "Ultraworld", aliens try to take over the crew with Mind Control. This terrifying fate is represented by the victim seeing a hallucination of a disco glitter ball.
    • In "Assassin", The Reveal that the Damsel in Distress is the assassin is let down not only by bad acting (and not of the Evil Is Hammy kind either) but also a silly towering hairdo she's wearing for her Evil Costume Switch.
  • Doctor Who, being a show that has relied heavily on monsters since the very first season while simultaneously not typically having a very large budget with which to realise them, has many examples.
    • "The Web Planet", depending on who you ask, is either the kind of Surreal Horror that nightmares are made of, or six episodes of people in pathetically unconvincing rubber suits doing silly voices on a set the size of a shoebox.
    • The Daleks were virtually unique in their success. Several attempts were made to create "new Daleks" by copying the Dalek template (killer Little Green Man in a Can with a shouty catchphrase), especially after they got Exiled from Continuity in the Troughton era. Every attempt ended in failure:
      • The Mechonoids in "The Chase" were a potential Dalek rival and were lavishly budgeted and merchandised. Looking like a D20 the size of a garden shed, and being about as maneuverable as one, did very little to make them conceivable threats. There's a whole Easter Egg on the DVD in which various Talking Heads all make fun of how rubbish they are.
      • The Chumblies in "Galaxy 4". They make strange thoughtful noises and look like metal walnut whips. They're also rather cute. And can you imagine hiding behind the sofa from a monster called a "Chumblie"? However, the Chumblies are robots made by the Rills, who turn out to be peaceful. So they aren't really villains.
      • The War Machines. In addition to being a ridiculous concept, the evil computer looks like it has a goofy face on it.
      • The Quarks in "The Dominators". They were supposed to be Psychopathic Manchild robots that act like delighted, giggling children while murdering and killing (and were actually played by children as adults couldn't fit into the suits). Their creators intended them to be the new Daleks (and even fell out over the IP rights to them). Between poor design, stupid squeaky voices and the extremely bad writing quality of the serial, there was no possibility of this happening. New series fans might want to look at the Toclafane for the Quark concept done better.
      • The Krotons are actually a lot scarier than most of these (Robert Holmes deserves some credit here), and there's somewhat more creativity to their concept (being made of living crystal). Unfortunately, the costumes were too short and so they were given skirts to hide the actors' legs. The top half is a Tin-Can Robot and the bottom half is a ballgown. Doesn't help that "Krotons" sounds like "croutons" and they have inexplicable and unidentifiable accents (Brummie-East End-South African?). Very strongly averted in the Eighth Doctor Adventures book Alien Bodies, which exploits all of the Narm associated with them to make it both hilarious and shocking when the twist reveals they've been slaughtering Daleks by the ton and trying to steal the Doctor's corpse.
    • "The Underwater Menace" has "scary" Cyborg fish-people that look like harlequins in white onesies and don't actually do anything scary in the whole story, being Creepy Good. (The cliffhanger at the end of episode 1 where Polly is Strapped to an Operating Table, screaming and about to be surgically transformed into one is decently disturbing, though.)
    • "The Tomb of the Cybermen" (while scary) features Cybermats — tiny robot bugs — that the script acts as if are terrifying. Viewers mostly reported finding them cute, which the BBC went along with, at one point even running a promotion where viewers could write in and get sent vacuum-formed Cybermat parts to assemble into a toy. The next story to feature the Cybermats, "The Wheel in Space", lampshaded this by having the Wheel staff react to the Cybermats as if they were cute while not making them any more harmless — one victim takes a Cybermat as a pet, and another even begs them to come closer before they kill him. They were redesigned for their appearance in "Revenge of the Cybermen" to try and make them look like metal silverfish or snakes, but they were still pretty rubbish. They returned to the new series in "Closing Time", somewhat improved by the addition of vicious, jagged, organic piranhalike teeth.
    • "The Ark in Space" has the leader of a Sleeper Starship containing the last remnants of humanity getting infected by The Virus. He realises this in a famous Cliffhanger where, sweating with terror, he slowly takes his hand out of his pocket and sees that it is covered in green bubble wrap. The same story has everyone get menaced by a sort of larva represented by an actor crawling around on the floor in the same green bubble wrap. The story itself is well-written and very spooky, though.
    • "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" has a subplot about a giant rat in the sewers of nineteenth-century London. The effect was achieved by filming an ordinary rat in a scale model of the sewer and intercutting it with reaction shots of the actors in the life-sized sewer set. We're already into Narm and Special Effects Failure territory, but there's more. To complete the illusion, a nearly immobile life-sized giant rat was built. It looks jarringly different from the real rat and is the exact opposite of threatening. This trope is in fullest effect in the cliffhanger where the camera dramatically zooms in to the cute rat plushie while the tense music reaches a crescendo. Tom Baker famously referred to this episode with, "The BBC is very good at period dramas but very poor at giant rats."
    • "The Invisible Enemy":
      • It has some surprisingly horrible bits in the first episode where the Doctor has been infected by a parasite that has taken over his body. We have seen the Doctor get Mind Raped before this, but he always maintained his willpower (and the one time he did get broken in "Pyramids of Mars" the villain was interrupted before he could go very far with it), so it is the first time we see the Doctor fully possessed and about to hurt people. Unfortunately, the budget was really suffering by this point and the story is also a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot with lazy Toilet Humour, which quickly destroys any horror.
      • The Swarm, a pathetic-looking iridescent space shrimp with adorable little kicky legs that giggles about taking over the universe. Even the Doctor seems to find it a real disappointment, complaining that it's a "pathetic crustacean" and rolling his eyes.
    • "Underworld" has characters facing a "dragon" which turns out to be an electrified door. This isn't a case where this is a surprise for the characters — they know that it is an electrified door and just refer to it as a "dragon".
    • "The Stones of Blood" has vampiric standing stone aliens. The writer intended for them to be realised onscreen as rocks that, when they move around, transform into rocklike humanoids. The director instead decided to go with Styrofoam Rocks that move by sliding about and glowing an ugly shade of yellow.
    • The Mandrels in "Nightmare of Eden" are rather cute and fluffy. They even have built-in bell-bottoms!
    • "Meglos" has a power-crazy, sadomasochistic shapeshifting villain from a race that has a good enough understanding of technology to intimidate even the Time Lords... that is also a non-anthropomorphic, non-animal, sessile cactus alien. It even has a little plant pot.
    • The Myrka from "Warriors of the Deep" is an infamous example, from its design to it being a Pantomime Animal, to it being slow even for a classic Doctor Who monster, to the fact that it couldn't do much.
    • "Dragonfire" has a scene in which Kane's face is melting. However, it's obvious that a wax figurine was used.
    • "Survival" has a similar situation to "The Stones of Blood" — the writer pictured the cheetah-women as normal, beautiful women with yellow eyes and fangs, but the director decided to go with full fursuits. The writer was outraged by this — although more because it obscured the lesbian subtext than because it looked silly.
    • The Abzorbaloff from "Love & Monsters". Imagine a slimy green sumo wrestler... with human faces sprouting from random places on its body. Probably justified as it was conceived by an 8-year-old viewer for a contest (although the original Abzorbaloff in the boy's mind was the size of a double-decker bus). It might have intentionally been played this way by the writers, given that it was the Monster of the Week from possibly the biggest Bizarro Episode in the show's history.
    • "The End of Time" involves an Assimilation Plot where just about every human being on Earth is suddenly and forcefully transformed into the Master. Of course, this includes the women too, and the clothes aren't transformed. Pair that with the Master's Crazy Is Cool Large Ham tendencies, and it goes from Nightmare Fuel straight into comedy.
    • "Nightmare In Silver" has the Doctor forcibly converted into a Cyberplanner about a third of the way through the episode. Said Cyberplanner is solid nightmare fuel for its first minute or so onscreen... and then immediately names itself "Mr. Clever" without any prompting, and spends the rest of the scene spinning around the room and making random gestures, making what is supposed to be a very serious episode quickly dissolve into feeling fairly ridiculous.
  • Kamen Rider Revice: The very idea of the commander of the obviously good organization Fenix Tribe being a mole who can mimic everyone is terrifying. But when they immediately break their facade after being exposed and laughs like Joker while saying '''"GRRRRRRRACIAS, DEADMANS!"? Hysterical!
  • On the third season of The Handmaid's Tale, it's shown that the women in Washington D.C. have their mouths sealed shut with metal rings through the lips. While it's a striking visual, viewers and reviews were quick to point out how it makes little sense. How do they eat and drink with their mouths this way? It can also hamper their breathing and the wounds would be open to infection. It would make more sense to just cut out their tongues than go to such major lengths.
  • The Journey of Flower: The glowing orbs in the Pavilion of Strange Decay strongly resemble a collection of large lightbulbs. It's hard to take Qian Gu's frightened reaction seriously when it looks like she was scared by lightbulbs.
  • Game of Thrones: The Night King was killed by a single stab, and with him all the fear and intimidation he'd brought to the table as one of the series' most prominent Knights of Cerebus dissipates entirely, when he could have done so much more, even in the three episodes the series had had left.

  • An in-universe example occurs in the Voltaire song, The Beast of Pirate's Bay. The song mentions the infamous Blackbeard encountering the beast, and now nobody's scared of him because upon seeing it, his beard turned white and he looks like Santa Claus.

  • Plenty of the rooms in the haunted house from the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town aren't actually that scary, such as the Dracula room with a bored vampire in a casket and a "Max Schreck-looing motherfucker" in half-assed Nosferatu makeup being the only scares. The victims spend the lead up to Halloween trying to make them look better.

  • Explored in this article '10 Scenes of Brutal Violence Guaranteed to Make You Laugh'.
  • The Desert Rain Frog's defensive "war cry"... is a squeaking noise that sounds like a dog toy. It's supposed to intimidate its foes into submissions, but most humans will find it adorable instead.
  • For many, The End of the World as We Know It falls into this due to people at least annually announcing the end is near. There are even sites dedicated to mocking this phenomenon.
  • Done intentionally in this youtube video. It starts out showing a fairly horrifying soundtrack and then doing so backwards. Then, it plays Gordon Freeman's soundtrack backwards. Followed by the sound made when a certain enemy dies. When played backwards, you get the song Bananaphone.
  • The entire Monster Clown genre. For those who, as children, never found clowns even slightly scary, it's hard to take such characters seriously, let alone be scared of them. Wonderfully lampshaded in The Tick: "People laugh at Proto-Clown, so Proto-Clown smash!"
  • Feathered dinosaurs, especially those that sank into public consciousness as scaly, reptilian monsters (such as raptors) might be viewed as such by people who are oblivious to the more "fearsome" birds of our time, or simply because some illustrations tend to depict them still acting like monsters but looking like brightly colored, overgrown turkeys (akin to a prehistoric Monster Clown), or as harmless-looking, cute feather-balls.
  • Stories of interstellar and interplanetary disasters (rogue asteroids and comets, gamma-ray bursts, runaway stars, etc.) become a little less scary when you realize how small the Earth is compared to the absolutely vast size of the rest of the Milky Way. Odds are the vast majority will miss us, as they have for billions of years. And even if they come close, if it's gravity related Jupiter is probably going to catch it instead anyways, like it's been doing for millions of years.
  • Angry small dogs. A snarling wolf, pit bull, or St. Bernard can be terrifying under the right circumstances. An angry Maltese or Chihuahua? Not so much.
  • Disney Sing-Along Songs: The "Grim Grinning Ghosts" number from Disneyland Fun has Donald Duck dressed up as a Bedsheet Ghost during random intervals, softening the mood of the song.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nightmare Fail, Nightmare Repellent, Nightmare Retardent


Possessed Patsy

The first ghost of Halloween Honeybee meets is Possessed Patsy, a cursed doll who eats children from Honeybee's favorite horror movie franchise. She would sometimes speak with a demonic voice when Zandeack the Underlord speaks through her. Honeybee just finds her funny whenever she randomly starts talking with a demonic voice.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / CreepyDoll

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