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Spooky Kids Media

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In the heart of Transylvania
In the Vampire Hall of Fame, yeah
There's not a vampire zanier than Duckula!
He won't bite beast or man,
'Cause he's a vegetarian,
And things never run to plan for Duckula!

Not all kiddy media is about sweetness and happiness; sometimes, kids' shows center around a much spookier vibe, featuring such things as dark forests, creepy castles, haunted graveyards, or lands inhabited by non-human beings. As The Nightmare Before Christmas states, "Life's No Fun Without A Good Scare!"

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Spooky Kids Media are books, movies, TV series, or video games aimed at children that feature creepy characters, scary settings, and other twisted imagery. Even though it's family-friendly, this story is full of Nightmare Fuel that may scare especially sensitive youngsters. A Halloween Episode in a show for kids often qualifies.

Compare: Surprise Creepy, Defanged Horrors, Things That Go "Bump" in the Night, What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?

Contrast: Adult Fear, Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films, What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers: Starts out as a seemingly normal Mons Series, but things eventually take a turn for the dark, all culminating in the reveal of the D-Reaper, a rogue AI doing only what it was programmed to do: delete everything it touches. And it's not afraid to physically and psychologically torture a grieving ten year old to feed on her grief to help accomplish its goal. It's a Cosmic Horror Story for kids.
  • GeGeGe no Kitarō: Probably the oldest example from the list, having at least 6 anime series, 2 live-action films, and a dozen of video games. It's about a one-eyed ghost boy named Kitaro himself and his youkai friends. Adaptations vary on just how scary they are.
  • Thriller Restaurant: A compilation of kaidan, which is known in Western as the kids version of Tales of the Crypt.
  • Ghost Stories: Only the original Japanese and second English dub, as the first dub is a mature Gag Dub. A group of school kids deal with youkai and other supernatural phenomenon.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: A fifth grader finds a watch that lets him interact with youkai. While some of the yokai are friendly and harmless for the most part, the series doesn't shy around from the few that do pose a danger and seek to harm humans.
  • Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside: A darker, more actiony sequel starring Nate's daughter.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Addams Family (2019): A child friendly CGI film adapting the comic strip about a creepy family in a creepy house.
  • After School Midnighters: Three girls partake in a kimodameshi hosted by actual monsters for the chance to see one wish fulfilled.
  • The Boxtrolls: Cheesebridge is a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. The only thing that its residents are more obsessed with is their fear of the evil, murderous monsters that dwell in the sewers. At least, that's the legend residents have always believed.
  • Coco: A young aspiring musician enters the Land of the Dead and meets the spirits of his ancestors.
  • Coraline: A stop-motion adaptation of the book. A young girl explores her house and discovers an alternate version of her home. It seems idealistic at first but is more ominous than it seems.
  • Corpse Bride: A Tim Burton movie about a man who is about to get married in a Nobility Marries Money scheme who ends up accidentally married to an undead woman.
  • While no Disney Animated Canon film is explicitly framed as kid-friendly horror, several of them have noticeably more frightening characters and situations than others:
    • Beauty and the Beast has the titular Beast, a Tragic Monster Baleful Polymorph who menaces trespassers to his palace (presented as a sort of Haunted Castle and inhabited by occasionally creepy Animate Inanimate Objects) in the early going, and is so frightening when he loses his temper that at one point the heroine flees into a snowy forest full of wolves to escape him...only for him to rescue her from them, formally launching his Character Development. Come the third act, a Torches and Pitchforks mob goes after him and manages to be more frightening than he ever was before the Enchanted Objects fight back.
    • The Black Cauldron's cadaverous Horned King explicitly seeks the titular object to raise an army of the dead, and does in the climax, though it doesn't get very far before the heroes defeat him. The film has a deliberately Darker and Edgier Standard Fantasy Setting than usual for Disney, and ended up their first PG-rated animated feature after a few particularly grim scenes were trimmed for going too far for this trope.
    • Poor Pinocchio is put through the wringer on the way to his Happily Ever After, with multiple antagonists ready to exploit and destroy him in turn — puppeteer Stromboli (who intends to chop him up into firewood once he's no longer profitable), the Coachman (who takes boys to Pleasure Island to turn them into donkeys who are sold to circuses, salt mines, etc.), and Monstro the whale (a mindless eating machine whose very name inspires terror among all other sea creatures).
    • Much of Sleeping Beauty is lighthearted, but the evil fairy Maleficent is one of the most menacing Disney antagonists even before she goes One-Winged Angel as a dragon. She's also the most popular antagonist of the canon to the point that a pair of live-action Perspective Flip films recast her as a protagonist whom the audience has sympathy for, and which also fall under this trope.
    • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs draws a lot of inspiration from 1930s horror cinema for the scenes featuring the Evil Queen and her "harmless old peddler woman" — read: Wicked Witch — alter ego (her transformation from the former to the latter is heavily inspired by the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), while Snow White's initial flight into the forest is portrayed as a surreal nightmare from her fear-distorted point of view. The film actually served as a huge inspiration for Italian horror filmmakers of the 1960s and '70s, who had not been allowed to see conventional horror films in the Fascist era.
  • Frankenweenie: A Tim Burton film that tells the story about young Victor Frankenstein and his dog, a reanimated bull terrier named Sparky
  • Hotel Transylvania:
  • Mighty Mighty Monsters: A movie trilogy revolving around three monster teens who after getting expelled from monster school because of their history of pranks are forced to attend a human one as punishment.
  • Monster House: A trio of kids dealing with a monstrous living house.
  • Monsters, Inc.: This film concerns the lives of the monsters hidden under the kids' beds and in the kids' closets.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: A Tim Burton film about a living skeleton from a Halloween-centric town who becomes enamored with Christmas and tries to usurp Santa. Due to its plot, it can be both a Halloween and Christmas film.
  • Paranorman: A boy who can speak to the dead saves his town from zombies, ghosts, and witches.
  • Scooby-Doo
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    Films — Live Action 
  • The Addams Family and Addams Family Values: Films based on The Addams Family show, but Darker and Edgier like the original comics.
  • Ghostbusters: In which Mad Science takes on occult terror, and wins, hilariously.
    • Ghostbusters II: A sequel to the original film that sees the Ghostbusters tackling a river of slime that thrives on negative emotions and the ghost of an ancient tyrant.
    • Ghostbusters (2016): A continuity reboot with an all-female team of Ghostbusters.
    • Ghostbusters: Afterlife: An Un-Reboot sequel/spinoff to Ghostbusters II about a new team of Ghostbusters.
  • Goosebumps: The movie adaptation of Goosebumps is a 2015 horror/fantasy comedy. Stine and his daughter Hannah must combat every single one of Stine's creations after Zach and his friend Champ accidentally unleash them from the very books themselves.
  • Halloweentown: A franchise which focuses on a parallel world filled with monsters. The dangers don't come from them (a majority of them are friendly and just live their lives like any human) but from the evil forces that try to take it over.
    • Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge
    • Halloweentown High
    • Return to Halloweentown
  • Hocus Pocus: A 1993 Halloween-themed Disney film "for kids". Three kids have to fight for their lives against three homicidal witches hunting them.
  • The Little Vampire: A Live-Action Adaptation of the books. A young boy befriends a family of vampires.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: A film based on the first three books. Three orphaned siblings get sent to live with their abusive distant relative who only wants their inheritance and is willing to resort to murder to get it.
  • Return to Oz: A Truer to the Text film based on the second and third Land of Oz books. Dorothy returns to Oz, only to be chased by monsters and nearly beheaded by an evil princess.
  • Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Inc crew have to solve a mystery at a haunted island/resort.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Addams Family and The New Addams Family: The adventures of a wacky, morbid family.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: A children's horror show made by YTV in Canada and aired on Nickelodeon in the U.S. The story revolved around a club of teenagers called the "Midnight Society" who meet around a campfire in the woods once a week to tell horror stories.
  • Captain Kangaroo: Defied, as Bob Keeshan sought to create the most welcoming and wholesome early-morning children's show possible. However, his earliest shows had a suit of plate armor assembled around a mannequin as a set piece. This "metal man" proved to be unnerving to his audience, so Keeshan struck the armor from the set, never to be seen again.
  • Deadtime Stories: In the new show, a babysitter shows up at the house of two kids to read them a "deadtime story", bringing them the actual physical books themselves. As she reads them the story, we then see the story itself play out, occasionally cutting back to the "real world" where the babysitter and kids interrupt and provide comments.
  • Eerie, Indiana: Marshall Teller, a recent transplant from New Jersey whose family has just moved to the desolate town of Eerie, and Simon Holmes, an Eerie native, investigate the weirdness that inhabits the titular town.
  • The television adaptation to Goosebumps, which focuses on live action adaptations of the horror stories from the book series.
  • The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein: A Sketch Comedy series starring Vincent Price, set in Castle Frightenstein in Frankenstone, featuring a vampire Mad Scientist and other monsters.
  • The Munsters: A Mundane Fantastic Dom Com that originally ran from 1964 to 1966 about a working class family of would-be monsters.
  • Mystery Hunters: An educational kid's show focusing on mysterious, scary, and occult things.
  • Round the Twist: Three children and their widowed father live in a lighthouse, which is Weirdness Magnet for all kinds of bizarre, creepy, and supernatural events.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: A spin-off of Doctor Who aimed at children and broadcast on a children's channel, but had some material that was as creepy as the original (most notoriously the story "Day of the Clown"). The main "kids" element was that it didn't have the original show's occasional Downer Ending tendency.
  • Saturday Night Live: Spoofed via Show Within a Show. One sketch ("Der Lacheln Beherrscht" from the 2001 episode hosted by Julia Stiles) depicted a German kids' show with some rather terrifying imagery. The American kids in the audience react badly and the show's American broadcast is cancelled.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Truer to the Text series based on the books series. Three orphans are sent to a relative who abuses them and plots to steal their inheritance. After they escape him, he continues to pursue them, trying to capture the three and willing to murder anyone who gets in his way. All the while the orphans find out some dark secrets about their parents.
  • So Weird: Fiona Phillips accompanies her rock-star mom on her national tour and investigates the supernatural along the way.
  • Truth Or Scare: A documentary series geared around supernatural events, cryptids, and creepy historical events.
  • Young Dracula, about a thirteen year old immigrant from somewhere unspecified in Eastern Europe, whose family moves to a run-down castle in the British Isles, and who is quite appreciative of just being a normal kid in a normal secondary modern school where nothing ever happens. He really doesn't want to grow up to be a vampire.

    Music 

    Podcasts 
  • The kid-friendly version of Real Ghost Stories Online, which is a daily paranormal podcast featuring real, horrific ghost stories and other tales of the paranormal and supernatural.

    Theatre 
  • The Addams Family: A musical comedy adaptation of the above-mentioned Addams Family, the plot revolves around Wednesday Addams, now a young woman, falling in love with a young man from a more conventional family and the culture clash that ensues.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Haunted Mansion: Takes its visitors through a ghost filled haunted mansion and its cemetery with a heavy dose of humor.

    Toys 
  • The Monster High dolls: A series about supernatural beings and monsters going to high school.

    Video Games 
  • Attack of the Mutant: A Silent Protagonist gets off the bus at a stop they didn't want to. Turns out this stop is the headquarters of the infamous supervillain, the Masked Mutant, who can transform into anything and anyone.
  • Coraline: The Video Game: The Game of the Book adaptation of the Coraline movie, an interactive adventure game where players have to guide the titular heroine through various weird scenarios, including a showdown with the nefarious Other Mother.
  • Escape from Horrorland: Set as a sort-of sequel to the Goosebumps book "One Day at Horrorland". The player is the friend of Lizzie, a bossy young girl who was babysitting her brother, Luke, and his friend, Clay, for the night. Suddenly, cosmic forces transport the protagonists into a bizarre place called Horrorland. You need to rescue Luke and Clay and then escape from Horrorland.
  • Grabbed by the Ghoulies: Wherein a teenager has to save his girlfriend from a haunted house.
  • The Pokémon franchise has dabbled in this a couple times:
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon starts out as a typically cute and colorful Pokemon game, but rapidly heads into this territory once the Ultra Beasts show up.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers embraces this trope wholeheartedly, with a villain who not only traps children in unending nightmares, but also poses as an "ally" who suggests that it's all your fault and the best way to fix things is to kill yourself.
  • Luigi's Mansion: The brother of everyone's favorite Italian plumber wins a haunted mansion in a contest he didn't enter and has to save his sibling by ridding the house of ghosts using a modified vacuum cleaner.
    • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: A sequel to the above, in which Luigi must bust ghosts and save his brother again through multiple mansions while chasing a ghost puppy.
    • Luigi's Mansion 3: Another sequel, in which Luigi must bust ghosts and save his brother for the third time inside a hotel.
  • Sorcerer's Lair: A brother and sister duo explore a spooky mansion inhabited by a sorcerer.
  • Spirits & Spells: In which a pair of trick-or-treaters have to enter the land of the dead to save their friends.
  • Yo-Kai Watch: A mon series where a kid fights and befriends youkai.

    Western Animation 
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: A Nickelodeon Klasky-Csupo series about three young monsters who attend a school to learn how to scare people.
  • The Addams Family: The 1973 and 1992 animated versions focus on a creepy family with macabre interests.
  • Adventure Time: The premise is mostly about a boy and his shapeshifting dog having adventures in a oddball fantasy land. But a lot of the places they visit have some very morbid atmosphere where death is a very real possibility. Not to mention some horrific creatures and imaginary they run into to the point it feels more like a Deconstruction of the fantasy genre.
  • Archie's Weird Mysteries which has the Riverdale gang tangling with paranormal and extraterrestrial beings.
  • Beetlejuice: A Tim Burton-produced show presenting a Lighter and Softer Alternate Continuity for the 1988 live-action film: Meet Lydia Deetz, a Perky Goth girl attending a private school in a sleepy little Connecticut town while trying to deal with her well-meaning but eccentric parents. One day she comes across Beetlejuice, the manic self-described "Ghost With the Most", who befriends her and whisks her off from her ordinary life into frequent adventures in the Cloudcuckooland world of the Neitherworld.
  • Brady's Beasts: Monsters are commonplace and make popular household pets.
  • Casper's Scare School: A 2009 animated series based on the CGI film Casper's Scare School starring Casper the Friendly Ghost.
  • City Monsters: A series following the lives and misadventures of four monster kids attending a human elementary school while trying to uphold their reputation as "civilized monsters."
  • Count Duckula: A cartoon about a vampire duck.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: A series about the nervous but courageous titular dog who constantly has to deal with creepy creatures, hostile people, and weird phenomena to protect himself and his owners in The Middle of Nowhere.
  • Danny Phantom: While an action show, it also deals with ghosts and can get pretty scary sometimes.
  • Drak Pack: Starring Frankie, Howler, and Drak Jr., three teenage boys who are capable of turning into a Frankenstein's Monster, a Werewolf, and a Vampire.
  • Extreme Ghostbusters: A sequel series of The Real Ghostbusters. This version lives up to its namesake as it focuses more heavily on the darker aspects of the series with the new team of Ghostbusters fighting terrifying monsters and horrors. The team is put in danger much more frequently than in the original, to the point of being nearly killed in a few cases. The tone is a bit more cynical as well.
  • Frankenstein's Cat: Based on a children's book by Curtis Jobling, Frankenstein's Cat is centered around Doctor Frankenstein's first experiment; a cat is created by the Doctor out of nine different cats, leading to his name being Nine.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters: The cartoon version is a sequel to the original live action series. While that one has light-hearted and silly villains, here the ghosts are slightly more malicious leading to a few tense moments.
  • Gravedale High: A Hanna-Barbera cartoon set in a school where the pupils and staff are an assortment of monsters, except for Token Human teacher Mr. Schneider.
  • Gravity Falls: Twins move in with their great uncle in a Town with a Dark Secret. It's the closest to Lovecraftian Horror that Disney can get while still being a children's show.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: The Grim Reaper walks around with two weird (in their own ways) kids. Supernatural events and creatures appear in every episode.
  • Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids: A British Nightmare Fuelled Space Whale Aesop animated series, narrated by host Nigel Planer.
  • Hilda: The show is about three young protagonists going up against creatures like trolls, ghosts, giants, nightmare spirits, and a big black dog with glowing eyes.
  • Hotel Transylvania: The Series: An animated prequel series to the Hotel Transylvania films that focuses on Mavis and her monster friends.
  • Invader Zim: The show is about an Amusing Alien attempting to conquer Earth. The show was short-lived due to its disturbing content, but it has a cult fanbase.
  • Jumanji: Animated adaptation of the live action movie that veers into its own Alternate Continuity where the majority of the series takes place within the board game and Everything Trying to Kill You is in full effect for the protagonists.
  • The Last Kids on Earth: Four friends try to survive a Zombie Apocalypse while dealing with supernatural creatures, and an interdimensional entity wanting to conquer Earth.
  • Making Fiends: Naïve Newcomer Charlotte thinks she can befriend Vendetta, a horrid little girl who makes monsters, or fiends, through baking. Vendetta cannot stand Charlotte's happy-go-lucky nature, and will often go to great lengths to destroy Charlotte (or at least get her out of the way for a little bit).
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: Despite the premise of a seafaring adventure, the series has plenty of creepy episodes, imagery and moments.
  • Mighty Max: A little kid is thursted into the responisbility of The Chosen One, and through his journey faces plenty of horrific monsters & demons. The show will often feature mentions or offscreen deaths, plenty of scary moments for kids, terrifying monsters and the Big Bad winning on a few occasion. The Grand Finale even goes so far as to kill two of the lead characters onscreen, and the Big Bad almost wining until the last second.
  • Mona the Vampire: A little girl imagines herself as a vampire superhero and regularly confronts supernatural monsters along with her two best friends.
  • Over the Garden Wall: Brothers travel through a mysterious forest while stalked by a horrifying beast.
  • The Owl House: The series centers around witches and demons in The Boiling Isles, a land brimming with all sorts of strange and horrific creatures. The main characters are a witch who transforms into a monster if she doesn't drink a special potion, a demon with a skull head, and a human Nightmare Fetishist.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: An Alternate Universe of the film that explores more of the spooky vibe of the original movie. The heroes tend to fight a lot of paranormal demons and Eldritch Abomination with the usual odd Demonic Possession here and there. While it does try to downplay it with the jokes, it doesn't make it any less scary (unless you count the later seasons).
  • Rotting Hills: A boy moves to a town populated by zombies.
  • Ruby Gloom: The show is about a bunch of monster kids living in a dark mansion on the outskirts of a Halloweentown.
  • Scary Godmother: Two Halloween specials where a girl befriends friendly monsters.
  • School For Vampires: A German/Italian horror-comedy children's animated television series, which, not surprisingly, centers around a group of vampire children learning everything that a vampire needs to know at the School for Vampires.
  • The Scooby-Doo franchise: One of the oldest examples. A group of teenagers wander around the country (or even the world) and constantly stumble upon monsters and ghosts. Usually this is a hoax, but some incarnations have the gang stumble onto the real deal.
  • Skeleton Warriors: A sci-fi version of the terrible army of the dead sweeping the world.
  • Super Monsters features the children of the world's most famous monsters attending a night time preschool.
  • Tales From The Cryptkeeper: A Lighter and Softer animated spin-off of the horror series Tales from the Crypt with kids as the main characters.
  • The Trap Door: A claymation show where a blob creature, a bug and a talking skull who live in a castle owned by an unseen but powerful being deal with monsters coming from under the titular trap door.
  • Tutenstein: An educational cartoon about a girl who befriends the mummy of a pharaoh.
  • Vampirina: A Disney Junior series about a friendly family of vampires.
  • Victor and Valentino: Two half-brothers encounter various, predominantly Mexican, supernatural beings in their hometown.
  • Zombie Hotel: A cartoon about a hotel run by zombies.


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