In some works of modern media, bathrooms, public toilets etc. are excellent places for a terrifying scene to occur. The fact that a person is supposed to be isolated in these places probably contributes why some people find them chilling. This trope plays on latent anxieties and general squick many people have about public restrooms.
Common scenarios include (but not limited to) the presence of an unknown malicious entity, often a Vengeful Ghost, the discovery of a dead body, finding out that you are not what you appear to be, violent scenes involving the murder of a character, or sickening sights. Whatever it is, it's unnerving and unexpected, and sometimes involves a Jump Scare.
Scenery Gorn is part of the reason for this. There's something evocative about white porcelain splattered with blood, water filled with blood, and broken mirrors. These scenes often take place in a Disgusting Public Toilet for similar reasons.
May overlap with Camping a Crapper (getting attacked in a bathroom). Only examples that are Played for Horror beyond the usual suspense of a Chase Scene would count here. Compare also Searching the Stalls. Compare with Bathhouse Blitz where the victim is being stalked but the instigator is a mundane threat. See also Swirlie and Trans Tribulations, for bathrooms as a place of distress but not necessarily horror.
- Polnareff of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders encounters this a few times; at one point he's chased into a bathroom by a horde of zombies, and he's later attacked by an axe-wielding assassin who de-ages him into a child and attempts to drown him in a bathtub. It's Played for Laughs with the toilet in the Indian restaurant, which seems perfectly normal until the pig living underneath sticks its head up through the toilet to say hello, at which point Polnareff starts screaming, begs the waiter not to leave him alone in there, and the toilet gets the standard "menacing" Unsound Effect usually applied to villains.
- During the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece which takes place on a horror themed island, there is abit of a homage to what happens in bathrooms in horror movies. Nami while taking a shower is attacked by an invisible Absalom. Fortunately, she is saved before the pervert could do anything worse to her.
- In the second episode of Ghost Stories, the kids meet Hanako-san and Aka Manto (see the Folklore section). One of the teachers gets sucked into the underworld through a toilet, and the same thing almost happens to Hajime.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami: Arachne's spiders attacked people through the sewers and their toilets when she attacked Albrecht's kingdom.
- One segment in The ABCs of Death has a kid dreaming about being in the restroom while his toilet turns into a man-eating monster.
- The first death we see happen in Deep Rising happens after the glamorous cruise ship is shaken and people panic and run. A very scared woman locks herself in a bathroom and sits on the toilet, when something comes up from the toilet (though remains unseen) and attacks her, resulting in a large gush of blood splattering on the bathroom's mirror.
- In Final Destination, Tod Wagner gets killed when a shower clothesline asphyxiates him.
- In The Fly (1986), having just tossed his worried lover out of his loft/laboratory, Seth examines himself in his bathroom mirror, realizing that she was right about how bad he's come to look ever since he teleported himself. When he anxiously starts gnawing on a fingernail, it comes off in his mouth, and he then finds that all of his nails are coming loose while the fingers themselves are oozing pus. Terrified, he whispers to himself "Is this how it starts? Am I dying?" From there, he gets the Internal Reveal that he's becoming a Half-Human Hybrid via his computer. David Cronenberg deliberately set this sequence in a bathroom because so many people in real life first realize that something is wrong with their body in a bathroom.
- In The Grudge 2, after the murderous ghost invades the family's apartment, the boy hides in the bathroom and found his mother in the bathtub who seemed suspicious tells him to enjoy a nice warm bath. She then gets dragged into the water disappearing by the ghost.
- It (2017) expands on the bathroom scene from the book: the titular monster manifests Prehensile Hair from the sink drain to grab Beverly, then sprays a fountain of High-Pressure Blood that covers her and the room. Subsequently played for Black Comedy when her friends come over and matter-of-factly help her clean up all the mess.
- In Memories of Murder, the schoolchildren claim there's a serial killer that lives in the school outhouses. The police entertain this seriously enough to investigate the toilets.
- In Midnight Movie, the second time the killer escapes from the film, he attacks Sully in the restroom and gores out his heart. The patrons still in the cinema get to watch this occur on the screen.
- One of the iconic scenes of A Nightmare on Elm Street is set in a bathroom in which Freddy's razor-gloved hand emerges from a bathtub still occupied by a dozed off Nancy.
- The main game location in which most of the first Saw movie takes place in is an abandoned bathroom.
- The Shining has Jack discover the ghost of one of the guests in the bathroom of her hotel room, and Jack speaks to the ghost of the caretaker in another bathroom.
- One of the more memorable scenes in Silent Hill takes place in a bathroom in which janitor monster resides.
- Spoofed in Spice World, when the sinister paparazzi photographer Damien climbs out of the toilet, in the mansion where the Spice Girls are staying.
- The bathroom in Thir13en Ghosts looks normal from the regular human perspective. However from the ghost perspective, it is completely covered all over in blood splatter and occupied by the self mutilated Angry Princess.
- There are some ghost stories in Japan which tell of a ghostly hand that emerges from a toilet to touch people in the behind when they relieve themselves. Said ghost stories are the basis of ??? from The Legend of Zelda.
- Hanako-san of the Toilet (or just Hanako-san) is a Japanese Urban Legend that has been around since the 1950s. It's about a little girl who died in a bathroom stall , commonly either due to a bombing during World War II, an accident, or a murder. Her spirit still haunts the bathrooms where she died. If you walk into the third stall of a girl's room that is on the third floor, ask "Are you in there Hanako-san?", and knock three times she'll say "I'm here". What happens next varies, but it usually involves the person being dragged down the toilet.
- Japanese Urban Legends are just fond of this trope in general. Ghouls lurking in toilets include:
- Aka Manto, a spirit in a yellow mask and red cape who asks if you want a red or blue shirt. If you say red, he will lacerate your back. If you say blue, he will strangle you.
- Kashima Reiko, the Vengeful Ghost of a girl who was run over by a train. She has no legs, carries a Sinister Scythe and asks people, "Where are my legs?". Any answer other than "On the railway tracks." will result in death. The better known version of this story, Teke Teke, is an aversion, being found everywhere, not just toilets.
- The Akaname are a subversion. Despite lurking in toilets and being used as bogeymen, they're mostly harmless creatures who live off bathroom dirt.
- There's an Urban Legend that claims that if you go to certain bathrooms, close your eyes, and spin around three times while chanting "Bloody Mary Bloody Mary", Bloody Mary, a Vengeful Ghost, will appear and try to kill you.
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, students avoid a certain bathroom because an unpleasant ghost lives there. While this isn't really played for horror, eventually is revealed that said bathroom is the gateway to the Chamber of Secrets, home of a mysterious monster that's been petrifying students. It also turns out said ghost was murdered in that bathroom.
- It: When Beverly Marsh is in the bathroom, the titular monster speaks to her through the sink drain, mimicking the voices of her dead classmates and telling her that she'll be joining them soon.
- In the final novella of Labyrinths of Echo, Melifaro hunts down a "toilet demon": a malevolent ghost that compelled people visiting a bathroom to commit bizarre suicides. Afterwards, he realizes that toilets are a perfect place to ambush and Mind Control people, since everyone normally lowers their defenses there.
- The Stephen King short story "Sneakers" (in his anthology book Nightmares & Dreamscapes) had the protagonist noticing that one specific stall of his office building's bathrooms was always occupied by a man with a distinctive pair of sneakers and trying to find out who he is he discovers the hard way that the man was the ghost of a drug dealer who was killed some years prior by being stabbed through one of his eyes with a pencil.
- Whateley Universe: There's a Hawthorne Cottage bathroom that's home to a demonic entity.
- Bones has an episode where the Victim of the Week turns up when a kid who seems to be in the middle of potty training goes into the bathroom and gets terrified by blood and body parts coming up from the toilet. The team, of course, has to figure out where they came from and find the rest of the body.
- The disturbing reveal of the Twist Ending of Twin Peaks takes place in a bathroom. After emerging from the Black Lodge, Cooper goes in the bathroom and creepily repeats "How's Annie?" into the mirror, laughing maniacally and giving a Nightmare Face, revealing that he is an Evil Doppelgänger come to wreak havoc on the world. The whole scene is filled with Surreal Horror.
- A Dump In The Dark has you playing as a pair of buttocks through hell, connected to Earth by a toilet, killing monsters with your feces.
- In the The Legend of Zelda games, there is a ghostly/zombiefied hand that appears out of toilets called ??? which is based on some Japanese ghost stories.
- A variation famously opens Fahrenheit, with a brutal stabbing murder perpetrated on a random unsuspecting man at a urinal by the (possessed) player character during the opening cutscene that the player must then quickly clean and cover up.
- In Silent Hill 4: The Room, the entrance door to the Crapsack World of Silent Hill and the only way Henry Townshend can go out the room he's trapped, is in a big hole/portal made in his bathroom, which became more and more creepy during the game.
- Subverted in Yo-Kai Watch. Toiletta (called "Hanako-san" in Japan, based on a well-known urban legend of a ghost who haunts bathrooms) has lost her edge because kids aren't easily scared anymore.
- In Spirit Hunter: NG, Akira's bathroom sees plenty of spooky action. The Urashima Woman spirit can only appear near water, so she haunts his bathroom until he appeases her. His cousin Ami was also kidnapped by Kakuya while in his bathroom- in the late-game it's revealed that she was trapped inside Akira's bathroom mirror; after Akira rescues her, Kakuya drags him in there himself.
- Flicker: The cast finds Liza's dead body in the bathroom, with her having been drowned in the toilet.
- In Crypt TV's introductory video to the monster Look-See, "The Wedding Hand", a woman is trapped in a bathroom stall as the Look-See comes to get her. Forced to flush her wedding ring down the toilet to appease the monster, she snatches it back at the last moment, and is promptly killed.
- Criticized: Arthur Lemments takes Darian Stonehall to a public bathroom (probably at the parking lot where he subdued him) after knocking him out with his stun gun. The majority of the video is spent there, and it's where Arthur tortures Darian.
- In-Universe and Played for Laughs in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy when Pud'n mistakes Billy disposing a skeleton model in the toilet as a gory incident.
- In Phantom Investigators, the second floor girls' bathroom at Lugosi Junior High is rumored to be haunted, which is confirmed once students start being sucked down one of the toilets. Said toilet turns out to contain a portal to the NetherRealm.
- Played for Laughs in a Robot Chicken parody of The Twilight Zone, with Dumpelstiltskin, "a creature not of this world, but a user of its bathrooms". A man goes to use the toilet in an office building when a monster stomps in, tries to enter his stall, then enters the one beside him. After an incredibly loud and lengthy bowel movement that causes the lights to flicker and ceiling tiles to fall, the creature asks him to pass the toilet paper roll, then exits, leaving a crater where the other toilet had been.