Follow TV Tropes


Played for Horror

Go To

This is when tropes have their scary elements and/or possibilities brought up.

This can be done in several ways:

This might even be inspired by one of the writers finding Accidental Nightmare Fuel in a trope and then applying it deliberately.

Now it's very rare to see actual horror tropes done this way, since they are technically played for horror by default, but it's not unheard of. Perhaps the horror is exaggerated, or the work finds new horrific implications of the trope.

Furthermore, this in no way excludes horror works from having examples. In fact they can get plenty of scares by finding the scary elements in things that usually aren't.

Now keep in mind the absence of horrific elements doesn't count as Nothing Is Scarier, unless we're meant to be freaked out by something not happening.

A Sub-Trope of Playing with a Trope.

A Sister Trope to Played for Drama. Compare Fridge Horror, contrast Played for Laughs (though the two sometimes overlap) and Failed Attempt at Scaring.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 


  • Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth takes many of the recurring villains from Batman, strips them of any kind of silliness, and plays their most notorious traits for horror: For example, Dr. Destiny is no longer a creepy but somewhat cartoonish man in a cloak and a skull face, but an emaciated, withered man trapped in a wheelchair. It's implied that he still posseses his terrifying dream powers as well, the Mad Hatter is hinted at being a pedophile, etc.
  • A really horrific example of Unreliable Voiceover is in the first issue of Vertigo's House of Mystery series. The narration is a rather uneventful story about a girl who moves back to her hometown after her parents died, becomes a wife and mother, but doesn't love her children. None of this is actually untrue, but the art fills in minor gaps like the fact that the other residents of the city are all Big Creepy-Crawlies, and her children were loads of maggots that left a huge hole in her back that she still has.
  • Ice Cream Man plays Confession Cam for horror in the chapter where a scriptwriter gets Trapped in TV Land by the eponymous Humanoid Abomination and finds himself in increasingly disturbing reality shows. Each time he shifts to another show, there are interludes like this where the guy details how he suddenly found himself in these shows, how disturbed he is by what's going on, and how desperate he is to leave. There are also interviews with the other show participants (like a mannequin woman in a dating show and three zombie women in a Real Housewives sendup) who talk about their roles in the disturbing shows like nothing unusual is going on, as well as an interview with the scriptwriter's uncle who was also pulled into the shows, killed, and is now surprised that he's dead.
  • Death Is Cheap is horrifically deconstructed in Immortal Hulk when it's learned that the reason the Hulk and gamma mutates keep coming back is because death has a metaphorical revolving door for them to keep walking out of. Made worse is the fact that it's due to an Eldritch Abomination that is The Anti-God, which is only bringing them back so it has pawns it can use to enact its own plans. There's also the trauma of having to experience death in all of it's pain and terror only to come back repeatedly and realize it's going to keep happening again and again and that you may end up surviving thousands of years past the ends of your friends, loved ones and everything you ever held to be important.
  • Nemesis by Mark Millar basically turns the Batman mythos by showing what would happen if a character very similar to Bruce Wayne turned out to be more like Patrick Bateman instead of Batman.
  • The Unfunnies: Emasculated Cuckold is played for horror. Pussywhisker loses both his testicles after being convinced by Dr. Despicable that he has testicular cancer. His wife Polly was outraged that they cannot have children and refusing to adopt, so she forces Pussywhisker to pick up men to get to sleep with her in order to get her pregnant. When she did not get pregnant from the first guy, Polly forced Pussywhisker to get more men. It's clearly damaging for Pussywhisker to do this. At the end of the issue, as Pussywhisker is forced to find another man for Polly, she reveals that she orchestrated her husband's castration so that she would be justified in her acts of adultery with copious partners, is on the pill, and enjoys that she has forced her husband to find these partners while she waits at home.
  • Wonder Girl (Infinite Frontier): This story show a particularly horrifying example of The Jailbait Wait. It's revealed that Eros has known Yara ever since she was a child because he was the one who murdered her mother and led the siege that slaughtered her tribe. All so that he could have her all to himself as the perfect wife once Yara was finally of age.

    Fan Works 
  • A famed example is the "Scary Mary" recut trailer for Mary Poppins, which plays the well-known scenes of wonder and childhood whimsy of the original film with jarring music, much like a horror film would.
  • A common trend in fan art is to make "realistic" versions of cartoonish characters, often portraying them in a grotesque and sometimes horrifying manner.
  • A common element from darkfics is upping the darker aspects from fictional works, usually for drama, but also for horror as well.
  • Made of Iron turns dark in At The Food Court. Ash got an MRI scan after his psychotic break, and the test showed that he suffered ubiquitous hematomas and inflammation of the brain, and large parts of his brain were straight-up dead from blunt-force trauma. The doctors had no idea how he was even still alive, since the injuries would normally have been enough to kill him several times over. It is not clear whether the healing spring let him survive or whether this is a Cerebus Retcon of Ash being able to survive Pikachu's and Charizard's attacks in canon. Either way, the damage is so great that his original personality and maturity cannot be recovered.
  • Moment of Weakness is used for horror in Avenger of Steel. Raven losing control of her emotions allowed Trigon to enter Azarath and destroy it.
  • Fortune_Lover_(TGS Beta)(SARU_rip)[T+Eng0.75_Sincere].zip plays In Spite of a Nail for horror. The basic premise is the existence of a Fortune Lover hack (implied to have been created by A-chan), in which the Katarina Claes of Fortune Lover is replaced with the Katarina Claes of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, while everyone else's dialogs and event flags are left unaltered. The result is that all of Katarina's attempts to escape her doom are worthless: she is labeled a villainess despite doing nothing on-screen to deserve it, denounced for crimes that she never committed, and finally killed or exiled for no reason other than the immutable Plot.
  • It All Started with an OSHA Violation uses Becoming the Costume to this effect. As Skid and Pump went down the elevator shaft in their respective costumes, Skid's skeleton costume fused with his bones while Pump's costume head fused with his head and became an actual pumpkin. Monster was revealed to have suffered the same fate once he fell down the same shaft; the lemon head of his mascot costume became his actual head.
  • Toon Transformation is used for horror in the Pizza Tower fanfic i was a middle-aged weretoon, where Peppino, after being bitten by a pair of wind-up teeth, undergoes an unpleasant, Body Horror-laden transformation into a toon resembling his in-game form.
  • Rediscovered Frontiers shows the darker effects of Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory. Silver's efforts to change the future are successful, and he always remembers the old timeline, but not the new one. This has resulted in places, people, friends and even his own parents being outright erased or replaced from his perspective, and each time he has to refamiliarize himself with the new history, of both the world in general and his own personal life.
  • Your Mime Makes It Real is played for both scares and Black Comedy in the Saw Fan Film "The Silent Treatment", where an overly-committed mime ends up in one of Jigsaw's ironic Death Traps... which to the viewer looks like a completely empty room. At first, it appears the mime is only acting like he's up in chains and forced into a sadistic life-or-limb scenario, but once he "mimes" cutting himself and very real blood starts coming out of him, it's left really unclear just how imaginary the trap was.
  • Cry into Chest is used for horror in Striker Strikes Back. Moxxie weeps into Valentino’s shoulder after getting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown and then locked inside a storage chest and forced to listen to Vox being Bludgeoned to Death. What makes this disturbing is that Valentino not only is Moxxie’s captor and abuser, but also the one who beat Vox to death in the first place and then pushed the blame on Moxxie. But the poor imp is so traumatized and desperate for comfort that he’s willing to accept it from any source.
  • Estee's Triptych Continuum features a kind of In-Universe Flanderization with falling into the mark, an extremely common psychological disorder among ponies where the pony allows their special talent to dominate their lives to the point where there is nothing outside the mark. In A Mark Of Appeal, there’s also the discovery of a disease that amplifies the mark magic until it renders the pony unable to do or think of anything that is not the exercise of their talent.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around plays the Shipper on Deck trope for horror. The Agrestes both decide they're on board with Adrien hooking up with Marinette, but only on their terms — to the point that they plan to make a reality-altering Wish that will merge Adrien and Felix into their idealized son, with Marinette forced to marry him.

    Films — Animated 
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes is used to show fear in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. When the title princess runs in panic into the forest, some yellow glowing eyes seem to stare at her. They actually belong to friendly cute animals, but Snow White's imagination makes them look evil and demonic.
  • The mini-adaptation of The Mysterious Stranger included in The Adventures of Mark Twain does this for the source material: While the dark elements were also present in the book, there was also a major Mood Dissonance in the way in which the story was told, making it closer to a whimsical fairy tale than a Cosmic Horror Story. Satan himself was often described as attractive and charming, but in the animated film he is given a creepy, sinister appearance, and the adapted passage (Which is actually one of the most light-hearted moments from the original book) is given an eerie, nightmarish atmosphere which sharply contrasts with the rest of the movie.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Extreme Libido turns horrifying in The Age of Desire. A test subject is injected with a drug that boosts his libido exponentially. He becomes so possessed by lust he murders people with his bare hands in the course of trying to have sex with them.
  • The Stephen King short story "The Cat From Hell" goes to extreme levels with Cats Are Mean with a cat that is out for revenge on a guy who got his fortune from a drug tested unsafely on cats. This cat doesn't just go after that guy, it kills his immediate family and anyone who gets in the way of its vengeance, including killing a hitman by jumping into his mouth, causing him choke to death, then crawling all the way inside his body.
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau depicts the Beast Man and Uplifted Animal tropes this way, and is an Unbuilt version of the latter. The titular doctor has used anesthetic-free vivisections to mold animals into human-like forms, and the main character is disturbed by how much the beast people hit Uncanny Valley for him.
  • Ass Shove is used for horror in Moon (1985), in which a sadistic Serial Killer, in attempt to burn Jonathan Childes's internal organs, psychically projects into him the effects of a reaching hand, which becomes a ball of fire.
  • The Mysterious Stranger uses the Abilene Paradox for this. It’s revealed that few of the villagers in Dung Ages Austria actually believe in witches, but they all allow witch hunts to happen because they are terrified that the rest of the village truly believes it and will assume that they themselves are witches if they defend the accused in any way, including by saying that witches don’t exist.
  • Cloudcuckooland is a trope that is often Played for Laughs, specially in media aimed at children. However, in The Neverending Story this trope is played for pure horror with the City Of Old Emperors, a place where Former humans are trapped in Fantasia with no memories of who they are, or what they are, engaging in endless, nonsensical tasks over and over forever, showing how ending in a place like that would be a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four does this to the usually comedic How Many Fingers?. In the infamous torture scene (but before Room 101), an Inner Party member holds up four fingers, then asks Winston how many he is holding up. When Winston answers four, he puts Winston through Electric Torture to force him to see five, and will not stop until Winston actually, truly believes that there are five fingers. The scene details Winston's incredible pain and the sheer horror of being coerced into accepting an obvious falsehood, and is one of the most chilling scenes in the story.
  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill feels like a horror retelling of The Polar Express. Charlie Manx basically believes he's the train's conductor, taking children to the magical Christmas Land, only the train is a Rolls Royce Wraith. In fact, he's actually a deranged psychopath who uses the mystical properties of the car to drain the abducted children of their humanity and retain his youth. The story is told from the perspective of a parent who eventually has her child abducted by Manx.
  • "Snow, Glass, Apples" by Neil Gaiman is a very, very dark retelling of Snow White (The original fairy tale, not the Disney film), turning the titular character into a Creepy Child (which is eventually revealed to be a vampire) and adding the same amount of violence and disturbing sexual content that one would expect from stuff like Game of Thrones.
  • The trope Plane Awful Flight turns nightmarish in Station Eleven. While none of the horrific flights are ever shown, the always-deadly Georgia Flu spreads extremely fast and it spreads especially quickly in confinement. As a result, it becomes completely commonplace once the flu originates for airplanes to ground and never open. Clark frequently hopes that everyone is dead.
    Don't think of that unspeakable decision, to keep the jet sealed rather than expose a packed airport to a fatal contagion. Don't think about what enforcing that decision may have required. Don't think about those last few hours on board.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  • Criminal Minds
    • The episode "The Uncanny Valley" uses The Dreaded Pretend Tea-Party trope in a disturbing way. A woman was sexually abused as a child by her father who bought her dolls as an apology. Decades later, he took her dolls and gave them to other girls whom he abused. His daughter, desperate to have her dolls back, abducted women who happened to look like her dolls, sedated and force-fed them, dressed them up, sewed a wig into a poor woman's scalp and forced them to attend a tea party. All while acting like a well-meaning little girl.
    • In the episode "Profiling 202", it is revealed that David Rossi hates his birthday, and the reason why is a perfect example of the Birthday Hater trope turned horrific. The Whole Episode Flashback ends with a Serial Killer with a body count of at least one hundred dead women (none of them found yet) deciding, after being arrested, that he will only reveal one dead body per year exactly on Rossi's birthday and only to Rossi. He even goes through the whole macabre glee of writing down the name and location in a gift card and singing "Happy Birthday".
  • Cruel Summer uses a Stargazing Scene to unsettling effect. On the night of the family hunting trip in 1993, a distressed Kate ends up sitting out and looking at the stars, having a sweet and emotional chat...with Martin, the same person who grooms and later kidnaps her for months. As this fate is already well-known, this scene is used to show how Martin manipulated her, turning a normally nice moment horrifying.
  • A horrific example of Hot Guy, Ugly Wife is found in a CSI: Miami episode. A mousy, dowdy-looking woman was so jealous of the attention other women would pay her devoted and handsome husband, that she convinced him to seduce and lure women into their plot. She would go as far as to pretend to be one of the victims, and play up a rescue only to dash their hopes, by pulling back her hands while her husband would drag them to their deaths, all so she could see the look of terror in their eyes, while her husband would kill them with a loving gaze fixated on his wife.
  • Guns are commonplace weapons and a familiar sight in virtually any action setting, but Season 3 of Daredevil (2015) is credited with making firearms scary in the person of Bullseye, who dispenses instant death to unsuspecting victims.
  • Doctor Who: Symbolic Wings are made frightening in "Village of the Angels" when Claire Brown looks in the mirror and sees a vision of herself with stone angel wings growing from her back. It shows she's been possessed by a Weeping Angel, an Eldritch Abomination that takes the form of an angel statue.
  • Euphoria uses Bigot with a Crush this way. Nate Jacobs, who has extremely fucked-up ideas about how women should look and behave, becomes obsessed with trans girl Jules, who he knows would not meet his exacting standards, and sets about trying to force her to "reform" under threat of having her arrested for underage sexting.
  • Gotham: A Theseus' Ship Paradox is played for horror. The Dollmaker punished one of his subordinates by subjecting him to the Body Horror of replacing most of his body parts with incompatible pieces.
    Dollmaker: How much of you can be replaced before you're not you anymore?
  • The Haunting Hour: The Compliance Game is a nightmarish punishment in "Uncle Howee." The titular character, a creepy kiddie show host, comes into the real world to punish Jared, a Big Brother Bully who's been cruel to his little sister Cynthia. Uncle Howee makes Cynthia disappear and challenges Jared to locate her, but he calls the situation a game named "Find Your Sister Before Mom Gets Home and Grounds Ya for the Rest of Your Life!" Jared ultimately loses and, in a Karmic Transformation, is forced to become a puppet character on Uncle Howee's show forever.
    Uncle Howee: If you find her, you get to keep her—if you don't, well, I guess you'll have some explaining to do.
  • The Masters of Horror episode "The Screwfly Solution" uses Girls vs. Boys Plot to terrifying effect. One day, men all over the world find themselves slowly succumbing to a Hate Plague that causes them to become violent and murderous toward every woman they find — up to and including their own wives, mothers, and small children. After the initial purges, the episode plays out like a dark version of this type of plot: the few women who avoid the first wave of attacks band together and do their best to survive, only to be slowly hunted down by the still-homicidal men, who do gruesome things like mutilate their victims' bodies and turn them into trophies (at one point, a man proudly walks around carrying a bag made from a woman's breast). The episode ends with one of the last women on Earth discovering that the plague was caused by aliens, who arranged a Gendercide to make the planet easier to conquer.
  • Evil Learns of Outside Context is made chilling in Stranger Things. The Mind Flayer, an entirely alien entity with initially no understanding of Earth, slowly gains more and more knowledge of human behaviour and the larger situation, employing increasingly intelligent tactics as a result. It's especially frightening when the creature figures out that El and The Party are its primary opposition, learning to single them out specifically and make the kids suffer.
  • The Cat Came Back is part of a horror plot in the Tales from the Crypt episode "Loved to Death". In the episode, the main character gives a Love Potion to a beautiful woman who won't give him the time of day. It works far too well. Eventually, he kills himself to escape (albeit accidentally while trying to kill her), and on the escalator to Heaven, finds her right behind him, now hideously mangled because she killed herself by jumping out of a window.
  • Tales from the Darkside: "Love Hungry" plays Anthropomorphic Food for horror. A "revolutionary weight loss system" consists of a hearing aid and glasses that cause the woman who wears them to perceive (ordinary, inanimate) food as alive and desperate not to be eaten. And they don't come off...
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • The Cat Came Back is played for horror in "The Hitch Hiker". Protagonist Nan finds the hitchhiker creepy from the start, but her panic builds as she notices him every time she stops, even when she's driven long distances.
    • The episode "Stopover in a Quiet Town" features one of the most disturbing uses of The Dreaded Pretend Tea-Party trope. A couple who were drunk driving wake up to discover themselves alone in a town they can't seem to escape from. The Plot Twist is that they're in an alien child's dollhouse and surrounding toy town, and the child is just playing. After they ran off the road, the child's parents took them home to the child as playthings. Whether the child and parents are giant or there was a Shrink Ray involved is never explored. But the fear of the couple is genuine in this case given the owner of the dollhouse is at least 6 times their size.
  • WandaVision works its way through a checklist of Sitcom Tropes — and any one of them can turn very wrong in a moment, as the audience learns to see this as a show about a Reality Warper having a nervous breakdown.
  • The X-Files does this to the typically comedic Rubber Man trope in "Squeeze" with the terrifying liver-eating mutant Eugene Victor Tooms. He likes to sneak through vents to reach victims in otherwise locked rooms.

    Music Videos 
  • The video for "Run" by Joji is a rare case where Absurdly-Long Limousine is horrific. It begins with Joji waking up in the back of a limo with no clue how he got there, surrounded by party-goers who show no concern for his confusion and distress. He tries to reach the exit, but no matter how far he runs, the limo just keeps going on and on and on…

  • The Magnus Archives does this with Gluttonous Pig. In the episode "Cruelty Free" a farmer discovers a massive, 400 kilogram pig, which devours anything that gets in its pen, starting with the other pigs and eventually moving on to humans.
  • On the Threshold takes Recurring Dreams to the Logical Extreme in an unsettling way. Dr. Applegate discovers her own work, she literally can't seem to dream about anything other than getting into a looping conversation with herself and wandering empty hallways. Breaking free of the cycle temporarily only makes it far worse.

  • In The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals, Musical Number Annoyance turns to Musical Number Fear. Paul gets annoyed at everyone in Hatchetfield singing "La Di Da Da Day," which eventually progresses to outright fear as they get progressively more pushy for him to join them. He's quite justified to be unnerved, as it's later revealed all the singing is the result of an alien infection.
  • Heathers: The Musical does this with love songs during "Our Love is God", where J.D. continues to lovingly sing his worship to Veronica after he just murdered Kurt and Ram in cold blood. Veronica is clearly terrified. What starts as a romantic ballad quickly turns into J.D. and Veronica's Descent into Darkness Song.

    Urban Legends 
  • One urban legend uses Of Corpse He's Alive for horror. A woman riding a bus or subway feels disconcerted when she notices a man across from her staring at her continually. Shortly afterwards, one of her fellow riders pressures her into getting off the bus with him, which makes her even more nervous. However, the fellow rider explains he just wanted to get her to safety — the staring man had actually been murdered and the two killers were sitting on either side propping him up.

    Video Games 
  • American McGee's Alice and its sequel Alice: Madness Returns use the Alice in Wonderland mythos for horror. An adult Alice struggles through post-traumatic stress and feelings of guilt over the fire that killed her family. Wonderland has become full of violence and its inhabitants are often grotesque, if not experiencing outright Body Horror.
  • Baldi's Basics in Education and Learning takes the style of a crappy 1990’s Edutainment Game and turns it into a Survival Horror game where the title character chases you down merely for getting an unsolvable math problem wrong.
  • The monster-filled locations of CarnEvil include a Christmas Town. Rickety Town is a fairground located between the Big Top and the Freak Show. The player explores most of the rides and attractions here, the only exception being a rocket next to the snowglobe ice rink. While the level is presented as a Christmas-themed theme park, the game's setting is presented as a Circus of Fear, including a monstrous Bad Santa/The Krampus boss battle on a skating-rink.
  • Darkwood plays Absurdly Ineffective Barricade for drama and terror. Properly barricading a hideout is way more complicated than just closing a door and putting a wardrobe behind it – even dogs can push furniture out of the way with considerable ease.
  • Dead by Daylight makes an Idol Singer one of the killers. Ji-Woon Hak used to be part of a boy band called NO SPIN. Growing jealous of his bandmates' popularity, he commited Murder by Inaction by leaving them trapped inside of a recording studio when the building caught on fire. He then went on to accomplish a successful solo career as The Trickster, where he had a Darker and Edgier image... in part because he moonlighted as a Serial Killer, sampling the screams of his victims in his songs. Finally, after Executive Meddling stopped him from producing his own songs, he retaliated by torturing his record label's board members to death while forcing the talent scout who recruited him to watch.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II plays Gods Need Prayer Badly for horror. The Seven Gods couldn't care less about mortals' prayers, because what they are really after is the Source they unwitting collect throughout their lives. When a mortal dies, vestiges of their identity and personality sublimate in the Source they've collected as a kind of "ghost", which is then guided by their belief to what they believe to be afterlife at the side of the god they worshipped in life. Except that said Gods then simply consume the "ghost" for its Source, literally feeding on their worshipers to replenish their divinity. In other words, the Seven "Gods" are nothing but Rivellon's oldest Source vampires, functionally no different from the protagonists of the game.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
  • Half-Life does this with Doom and the many FPS games that followed in its wake. Like Doom, you play as somebody who uses a prodigious arsenal to fight off hordes of monsters after an advanced physics experiment Gone Horribly Wrong, but unlike the Doomguy, Gordon Freeman is not a soldier, and he will die quickly if he runs headlong into combat. And while Doom used its Excuse Plot to leave as little as possible between the player and the action, Half-Life used its lack of explanation to create mystery and shocking twists, ultimately revealing that Gordon is merely a pawn in something much bigger than himself that he can't hope to comprehend.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: I Owe You My Life is dark in terms of Zaalbar's life debt to the main character. For players of Dark-Sided alignment, it is in fact a form of slavery, as he will do anything they tell him to if you remind him of the life debt. This includes killing Mission if she angers you or gets in your way, even though he's extremely protective of her. However, he won't do it unless you use Force Persuade on him, and if you take him on the Star Forge afterwards he'll attack you.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords deconstructs many Western RPG gameplay staples by giving them horrific in-story justifications. For instance, the Experience Points are revealed to be an expression of the Exile actually devouring the life force of the people and creatures s/he murders, while Relationship Values turn out to be an indicator of how successful s/he is at More Than Mind Controlling her traveling companions.
  • League of Legends has variants on The Power of Love. Viego the Ruined King exploits a twisted, villainous version of it in that his power over the undead horde of the Black Mist is driven by his love for his fallen queen, with his vain attempts to bring her Back from the Dead forming the Shadow Isles and one of the biggest threats in the game. Even worse, he can use the Black Mist to corrupt and bend people to his will by exploiting what THEY love and value.
  • Library of Ruina heavily and frighteningly exaggerates Capitalism Is Bad. While the game doesn't outright state it, the City doesn't have any non-corporate governors. In fact, it's solely ruled by corporations known as Wings who basically run on fanatical capitalism; even the Head, supposedly being ruling authorities, are actually one such Corporation known as A Corp. It's not even a matter of pure greed; many of them seem to just make decisions that maximize bloodshed or violate all common sense either because they are integral for the Wing's survival, outright weirdness, malice or even any combination of the above. Standouts include former L Corp where the Manager deliberately gets his employees horribly killed by Abnormalities or W Corp forcing passengers of the Warp Train to suffer from a 2000 century torture only to undo them instantly. Commonfolks are thrown into backstreet slums that the Wings don't usually give a rat's ass about and everyone has to more or less, eat rats or kill other human beings to survive. Most people there actually have to earn enough money to go to metropolitan areas called Nests, where the Wings behind it can and will kick you out if you don't yield any produce or societal contribution.
  • Life Is Strange has a few Camera Fiend characters, but one in particular turns out to be quite the literal fiend. He is the Big Bad drugging and kidnapping girls to take them to his Dark Room, where he photographs them in sexualized positions and tortures them, all to capture the moment where innocence becomes corrupted.
  • Lost in Character is used for horror in NEEDY STREAMER OVERLOAD. The "Internet Overdose" ending concludes with Ame having a psychotic breakdown from all her stress and losing herself in her KAngel streamer persona, to the point of holding a memorial picture of Ame in one stream as if holding a funeral for her original self.
  • No More Heroes has a dark version of a Hard-Drinking Party Girl in the form of Bad Girl. She's first introduced gleefully smashing apart cloned gimps with a baseball bat (which, given she's Rank 2 of the United Assassins Association, is implied to be her job), then "unwinds" by cracking open a cold one and downing it within seconds. Combined with her young age (early twenties at the absolute maximum) and the fact that beer is the only thing in her fridge creates a very eerie display of who she is.
  • Portal does this to the Excuse Plot common to Puzzle Games. You move through a series of rooms, solving the puzzles contained therein, whilst guided by a voice over a loudspeaker. However, the rooms have a creepy, oppressive atmosphere from the very beginning, the guide's contributions are unhelpful, bizarre, condescending or some combination of the three, and venturing out of bounds reveals that you aren't the first one to go through the rooms, with the previous participants ending up insane and/or dead. It all comes to a head when the guide throws off the pretense and tries to flat-out murder you.
  • As discussed in this article, what makes Sinistar so frightening beyond the titular character himself is the way the game is structured. Like every other game of its era, Sinistar is an Endless Game with Nintendo Hard difficulty, but uses these conventions to create a Cosmic Horror Story that instills hopelessness in the player: no matter how many times the player character destroys Sinistar, his followers will quickly resume in rebuilding him elsewhere in the galaxy, and so the player character is thus always doomed to fall at the hands of Sinistar.
  • Super Mario 64 ROM hack SM64.z64 does this with Game-Breaking Bug, crashing the game at the end of each loop and displaying the message "SOMETHING CHANGED SOMETHING CHANGED SO-" in the crash handler.
  • Very Little Nightmares uses a Lonely Doll Girl as a villain. The main antagonist is a monster with the appearance of a prettied-up little girl who lives alone in a Old, Dark House. To keep her loneliness at bay, she collects life-size dolls made of the skin of actual children her servants capture and kill. She seems to believe they are actually living children.
  • When The Darkness Comes does this with But Thou Must!. The game presents buttons at various points in the game, for the purposes of answering questions. However, the player is never allowed to actually make a choice; either they only get one answer, which invariably isn't the answer they'd typically want to choose, or the answer is nullified anyway because "they didn't mean it". A rather dark version comes near the end. The player is given a button and a woman asking them questions, but they aren't allowed to move. As the woman tries in vain to make you respond, you can do nothing but stand there and fail her.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony uses Breaking the Fourth Wall to dark effect, by revealing that the various fourth wall breaks of Monokuma are actually because the series have been turned into a reality TV show. When the characters discover this, they are utterly shocked as they realize all of their memories and emotions were fiction. This reveal psychologically devastates the surviving members, until Shuichi comes to the realization that even if everything is fictional, their experiences and pain are real. The final battle is against the embodiment of the TV audience itself.

    Web Animation 

  • The Bikini Bottom Horror takes the show SpongeBob SquarePants and uses it for horror. It starts with Patrick Star graphically killing and eating SpongeBob and escalates from there. Multiple memes from the show's fanbase make it into the comic as well, usually with rather dark context.
    • The line "No, this is Patrick" goes from a joke about Patrick's ditziness to a terrifying statement.
      Mr. Krabs: Wait... Please... This is insane! This is evil!
      Patrick: No... This is Patrick.
    • The comic does this with Healing Factor. Patrick's regenerative abilities allow him not only to withstand all types of damage, but also to multiply... which is what empowers him to go on a deadly rampage upon learning the awful truth. However, hitting certain "nerve clusters" can negate this ability, killing a Patrick outright.
  • Knights of Buena Vista plays up some parts in Frozen (2013) as if it was horror (this is a Campaign Comic):
    • Weselton talks about how he heard people in the palace over the years said they sometimes felt rooms become as cold as the grave. Mary even compliments Walter on making Elsa's powers seem spooky. Then she's genuinely spooked out by Weselton further interrogating her.
      Walter: And he leans close, almost like he's trying to see the darkness in your pupils.
    • When darker ice appears within the ice of Elsa's palace after she finds out she caused an Endless Winter in her kingdom, Dick describes the effect as something like a Japanese horror film. Mary has as much of a genuinely freaked out look as Anna, and says if anything starts coming out of the ice she's quitting the campaign.

    Web Original 
  • Alien Abduction Role Play uses the Alien Catnip trope to add horror. Acktreal Domma feels a strong, irrational desire to eat her human test subjects, even after working to redeem herself. It's later revealed that human blood has an intoxicating, even addictive, effect on her species.
  • For a while, there was a copypasta/creepypasta floating around the internet about "the scariest video game ever". According to the story, you play as a madman with an insatiable appetite that compels him to devour everything he touches, and he is trapped in a dark labyrinth where he is hunted by terrifying spirits that graphically tear him apart if they catch him. The twist at the end (for readers who have not caught onto the joke yet) is that "the scariest game" is Pac-Man.
  • Creepypasta Cookoff:
  • r/nosleep
    • The CreepypastaMy Neighbor won’t stop singing Christmas carols” does this to the “annoying Christmas Carolers” trope. The titular neighbors- the wife and daughter specifically- sing carols for days on end, never stopping, and will not respond to anything, even as they are peeing and crying, making it clear that something is wrong. They are being forced to sing by a race of goblins resembling pine trees, and anyone caught in a specific radius from one is magically compelled to join in the caroling forever- eventually, nearly the entire town joins in, with hordes of people forced to sing against their will before being devoured by the pine goblins.
    • Time Dissonance is played for horror in If you're armed and at the Glenmont Metro, please shoot me. The narrator participates in a clinical trial for a drug that accelerates his brain functions, causing him to perceive time more slowly. At first, the downsides are only annoying and boring, with minutes feeling like hours and his 30-minute ride home feeling like days. As time goes on and the effects of the drug keep intensifying, to the point that turning the pages of a book takes longer than reading it and he can see the individual frames on TV, boredom gets the better of him he eventually decides to take an Ambien to try and sleep the effects off. The sleeping pill interacts with the drug and begins severely magnifying its effects, hitting him right as he was running down the stairs at the metro station, causing him to lose his footing from the sudden change and get locked into a fall down the steps that, from his perspective, takes days. The impact dislocates his shoulder and he discovers, while his senses are slowed down, the pain never subsides because his body is still working in real-time, and he decides it's too much and tries to throw himself onto the tracks. His perception of time eventually slows to the point that simply blinking plunges him into darkness for centuries. After enduring what feels like thousands of years of pain and boredom over the course of a few minutes, he posts online, begging for someone to put him out of his misery. A shot to the temple should only take a few decades.
  • Dream SMP: And There Was Much Rejoicing is Played for Drama and Horror in the aftermath of Tommy's death, as the Eggpire throw a party in the victim's house - and after getting kicked out, rent a room in the victim's hotel to continue their revelries. Do bear in mind that the leader of the Eggpire, BadBoyHalo, confirmed by Word of God that his character would be horrified and in mourning if he weren't Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • I'm a therapist, and my patient is going to be the next school shooter
    • The Influencer Files story line uses Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube! to gruesome effect. The Chicken live-streams himself torturing someone in the most painful and humiliating way possible.
    • Asshole Victim is used for horror. Someone with a history of making bigoted and otherwise offensive comments online is kidnapped and tortured in internet videos. While some of the comments hope the victim will be saved, others believe her past awful behavior means she deserves it. Some people outright express pleasure that she's suffering, one calling it the best stream of the year and another asking if anyone else was getting a boner.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-3520 turns Chubby Chaser horrific, where an unknown force takes sado-masochistic glee in watching humanity become this as they destroy Earth’s environment to make way for industrial farms to make more snack food.
      Second female voice: 60% of American women are obese, 75% of American men, 100% of true American animals. Let yourself slip into a dying asteroid, like me!
    • SCP-3344 uses I Have No Son! to this effect. The SCP causes Site 24 Director Carter (and anyone with whom he interacts) to believe that his adult son Niklas, who is living in Site 24 and desperate to contact his family, does not exist and to be completely unable to perceive any evidence to the contrary.
    • The Foundation has several none too pleasant examples of Immortality Field.
      • Any person placed inside SCP-762 enters a state of suspended animation and they would no longer need food, water, or even air and they are immune to disease and injury (when it was found, it contained someone who was probably stuck inside for centuries)... except those caused by its own spikes, because it's an Iron Maiden, in a subversion. As a torture device, its primary purpose is likely not to keep people alive but to prolong the victim's suffering. The person inside is conscious the whole time and the experience is described to be very painful. This is double subverted afterward, as even those wounds heal completely after the person is released.
      • There's also SCP-135, a girl with an aura that makes her and any other organic matter within a 10 cm radius immortal, while causing rapid and uncontrolled cell growth — AKA cancer— within 2.25 meters. Having developed this aura in utero, she is stuck in a fetal position and permanently encrusted in a constantly growing mass of plants, fungi, and microorganisms. The most that can be done for her is to have robots cut off some of the excess matter when it gets too big. She has full brain activity.
    • SCP-3512 ("The More You Know") is a satirical take on pick-up artists that uses their misogyny and Quest for Sex to disturbing effect. Through body-mutilation rituals (like cutting off their own fingers) and creating a sentient doll-like construct from human fat and bones to take control of the person one desires, instances of the SCP turn women they want to fuck into living sex dolls. The affected victims undergo complete personality changes that leave them eager to please their brainwashers, and are completely aware of this outside force taking them over, but can only express it in bouts of screaming that eventually fade away as it takes complete control. The process is detailed in a book written by a pickup artist, excerpts of which are in the report, and advises readers to stop thinking of hot women as people and think of them as instruments to be controlled.
    • SCP-3004 is a horrific form of Interfaith Smoothie. An old cicada-based nature deity that found itself syncretized with the Christian God by missionaries to win over its cult. Unfortunately, this worked too well, as this meant the cicada god itself was convinced it was the Christian God, and is essentially trying to replace God as the central figure of Christianity—and it doesn't help that it also conflated the idea of venerating Jesus's sacrifice with just venerating pain and torture in general. This manifests in abrupt and inexplicable instances of staunch Christians and churchgoers performing bizarre sacrificial rituals that usually end in live cicadas crawling out of someone's orifices.
    • A Christmas Town is used for horror. SCP-784 - Christmas Cheer is a town somewhere in Texas, that is decorated with Christmas all year round regardless of the weather. It is an anomalous location where the inhabitants are Ambiguously Human and assimilate those who do not exhibit the right level of Christmas cheer. This includes things as minor as wishing someone “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”, singing the wrong lyrics to a carol, or not showing enough enthusiasm for a gift.
    • SCP-752 is a "utopian" society that turns Good Feels Good and The Needs of the Many unsettling. The inhabitants, collectively called SCP 752-1, were built to rationally and willingly be unselfish and devoted to the needs of others over their own private good… which just means that the monstrous things their society does to itself are all perpetrated upon fully-willing people. This includes things like disabled people being murdered or Driven to Suicide and people willingly working themselves to death at a relatively young age.
    • Christmas Every Day is weaponized in the alternate world of SCP-5000. The Foundation is mentioned to have utilized various temporal anomalies to make it Christmas everyday… so that SCP-4666 will remain active and keep murdering families all year as part of their plan to exterminate humanity.

    Web Videos 
  • CollegeHumor did this with their fake trailer for a film adaptation of The Sims, which does this with Video Game Cruelty Potential by showing how horrifying it would be to live under the whims of a Cruel Player-Character God.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared takes many cues from cutesy Edutainment shows aimed at little kids (Such as Sesame Street) and use them for a surreal and terrifying Psychological Horror series.
  • Empires SMP Season 1 plays Sitcom Arch-Nemesis and Animal Jingoism for Horror. Jimmy and fWhip initially appear to be rivals/enemies to each other due to the two's conflicts of cod versus salmon, but this "species rivalry" later proves to be much more dangerous and sinister — when the two team up to try to create a new Codfather head, a prophecy ends up rearing its ugly head. Specifically, the prophecy stated, "The resolution of a neverending feud brings unimaginable chaos that will destroy the world", and it rings true: the machine they used for their experiment overloads from combining cod and salmon, obliterating the Grimlands (fWhip's empire) in a huge explosion that almost killed fWhip, and the various natural disasters following or caused by the catastrophe leads to at least three of their fellow rulers and friends being Killed Off for Real.
  • Done with Banging for Help in Danny Gonzalez's "The Truth About Jake Paul and Team 10". Danny and a friend hear some kids tell them they heard banging coming from the Team 10 house, all adding to their fear that something bad is going on.
  • Gus Johnson uses Knuckle Cracking for horror and morbid laughs in the sketch "Crack". Two guys crack their knuckles and soon snap other body parts in increasingly painful and unpleasant looking ways.
  • The LOCAL58 episode "Skywatching" uses Gigantic Moon for this. The extremely large moon brainwashes the camera man into worshiping it.
  • Mario Party DS Anti Piracy does this with Unwinnable Joke Game.
    • Triggering the Monty Mole anti-piracy routine forces the player into a minigame called "Run", in which they are ostensibly tasked with fleeing a giant Monty Mole, but have no controls with which to do so.
    • "Host Hoedown", a fictitious minigame where you are forced to apologize to a personalized host (in Joey's case, D.J. Hallyboo, an expy of M.C. Ballyhoo) for pirating the game by tracing the word on the bottom screen. During the third phase, the word moves around, effectively rendering the game this. While it's technically possible to beat the game via TAS, this'll result in your own life being unwinnable.
  • A Description Cut is the first overt scare in the Analog Horror short MEAT PRODUCT: LIFE MEAT, which is about a meat substitute made with no meat called "Life Meat". As the narrator describes how much healthier it is than regular meat, the short immediatly cuts to a Dead-Hand Shot of someone after eating Life Meat, followed then by a commercial stating that Life Meat has been recalled after an outbreak of an unknown pathogen.
  • The Groin Attacks done to both genders in Episode 3, "Women in Prison", of Missing Reel are treated this way.
  • When SF Debris reviewed the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Captain's Holiday", Chuck started it by mocking Picard's Screw Gun Safety attitude with a kid finding the tossed phaser and accidentally shooting himself. The scene is also Played for Laughs, but still doesn't shy away from how dangerous such an action was.
  • Smile Tapes has a devastating Fantastic Drug called SMILE. It is made from an unknown fungus, is distributed through the black market and has utterly horrific effects on the human body.
  • Winter of '83
    • Evil Is Deathly Cold is played for horror with the monsters, which can control and spread through snow.
    • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties is used for scares during the emergency weather broadcast. The weatherman is murdered and replaced, a stilted voice telling viewers to join them out in the cold.

    Western Animation