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Nightmare Fuel / Ace Attorney

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Moments pages are Spoilers Off. You Have Been Warned!
Watch out, Edgeworth!
"It's a comedy of errors, with the violence of Macbeth,
so cute and charmingMURDERzany, wacky, jokeyDEATH!"

Ace Attorney may be an over-the-top series about lawyers, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have its share of creepy and nightmare-inducing moments...

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  • Because the series is entirely driven by Always Murder cases, it's almost inevitable that the cause of death of certain victims may make players uncomfortable, especially if the victim in question was said to be nice and likable when alive. The fact that photos of their corpses are present in almost every case as evidence doesn't help.
  • Depending on how sensitive you are to scary stuff, many witnesses can start to become this as they get more and more upset.
    • It's especially jarring when the last witness' freak-out was actually pretty funny, and then the next witness goes absolutely insane. It just goes to show that it's not just the perpetrators who can fall victim to a breakdown.
  • A special mention must go to the film, where you're treated to the scene of Yanni Yogi burning off his fingerprints in acid.
  • Think about the many corrupt and amoral prosecutors you've seen in the game and to what lengths they'll go to secure their victories, even if it means innocent lives being sent to death row. This makes these prosecutors indirect murderers. Then comes the "Dark Age of the Law" brought up in Dual Destinies, where "win at all costs" becomes not only a tactic, but an entire philosophy (more exactly, "the end justifies the means"), advocated by Themis Legal Academy instructor Aristotle Means...who is a defense attorney, showing that both sides are willing to go to extremes.
    • The police system isn't trustworthy either. For at least two years, the corrupt Chief of Police kept the Chief Prosecutor under his thumb via blackmail and (it's strongly implied) used her to fire or depose anyone he disliked, even if it meant forging evidence. (Edgeworth in particular nearly goes into a Heroic BSoD when he realizes that he scored at least one conviction on false evidence.) Before them, we had Blaise Debeste, an Amoral Attorney as bad as they come, as the Chief Prosecutor. Then in Dual Destinies, the Big Bad kills and replaces a detective, with no one the wiser; Phoenix and Edgeworth only discover him because Edgeworth was running a long game to expose the spy.
    • Even before the Dark Age of the Law, the entire justice system is in dire need of help. The crime rate is so high, trials can only afford to run for three days. The concept of perjury is a myth, and oftentimes members of the court will encourage people to patch up their testimonies. The police, while well-intentioned, are full of hotheaded fools at best, and corrupt murderers at worst. Prosecutioners are more than willing to send innocents to the gallows for their success rate, and many defense attornies can only hope to minimize the damage. Honest men and women can help to change the above, but their careers and personal lives are typically marred by tragedy and loss to the point where even mentioning it can send them into a Heroic BSoD. That anyone is even close to a sane and moral person in this world is a damn miracle.
    • The worst thing? Prosecutors obsessively caring for their perfect win streak, defendants already having confessed to the crime before trial starts, defense attorneys having the odds so stacked against them, and the negative view on the police are all more or less Truth in Television when it comes to the legal system of Japan. It has a scary reputation of having one of the highest conviction rates of all legal systems, regardless if the one who is convicted was actually guilty of the crime or not. A story in the link tells about a innocent man who was basically forced into confessing he murdered children, and spent years in prison as a result until a DNA test way later would fully prove his innocence. While this is eerily reminiscent of the in-universe case of Simon Blackquill, it is all the more creepy that this is real and it is something still happening in our world.
      Forum 90, a Japanese anti-death penalty group, conducted a survey of 900 ex-judges. Over 80 percent believed, that under the current system, miscarriages of justice were inevitable. Take the case of Toshikazu Sugaya. He matched the profile and blood type of a child murderer, but the police lacked any evidence. "They barged in and told me to sit down," recalls Sugaya. "Then they kept saying, 'You killed that kid, didn't you?' I said 'No, no,' but they didn't believe me." After a 13 hour interrogation without food, water, or a lawyer, Sugaya confessed.
  • While some defendants end up having more ties to the murder than they originally admitted (though still innocent of the act of killing), plenty of them are simply people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and/or were blissfully unaware of the fact that someone else wanted to frame them for a crime. Consider Will Powers, who was sleeping the whole time and woke up to find himself accused of murdering his costar. The idea of being sent to death row despite having no connection to the real crime is chilling.
     Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 
  • From Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Proto Badger (pictured). Whether he's ever-so-slowly sneaking up behind you, a sword in hand or popping out of the ground staring directly at the player, this azure abomination will frighten the pants off of you, more than any murder in this game. Pleasant dreams indeed...
  • Case 4: Calisto pointing a gun at Edgeworth. In a series where the player character is rarely put under threat of death by another character, this can make the player's heart jump. To make things worse, Calisto shoots, and Edgeworth barely dodges it.
    • It's painful for him to reminisce about because he had to deal with that all the way back in the fourth case of the first game.
  • Case 5: That Shih-na is a psychopath.note . In addition, the psychotic laughter and Slasher Smile involved in that Villainous Breakdown, and the lopsided Psychotic Smirk that increasingly replaces her normal expression as time goes on just gets more and more unsettling.
  • Quercus Alba gets his own Objection! clip, despite not being an attorney. It is fairly harsh on the ears, and the fact that it's an audible Objection shows you just how powerful he is within the context of the law.
    • Alba is a corrupt diplomat who is also the head of a major smuggling ring and uses his power to keep his name clear, whose dealings resulted in the death of an innocent witness and the catastrophic damage of the economy of an entire country with counterfeit bills. Scandalous ambassadors and other people in positions of political power who use their power to subvert justice unfortunately exist in real life. And worse still, many of them, like Alba, will stop at nothing to escape responsibility for what they've done.
    • There's also Quercus Alba's breakdown, where his skin begins to chip away and is blown off, leaving only his mummified-looking husk.

     Ace Attorney Investigations 2 
  • In Case 1, Edgeworth, Kay, and Gumshoe are inside an enclosed space with Shelly de Killer and a hostage. Then the lights go out... He doesn't kill anyone, but it's abundantly clear that he could. Easily.
  • Investigations 2 has the second case's introduction, which features Knightley lying dead in a dank, eerily-lit prison, bleeding heavily from a neck wound inflicted by a hound with a bloodied snout...
    • When you question Sahwit about Knightley's death, he'll provide a graphic description of how he was supposedly killed by the dog in question, which freaks Kay and Ray out.
  • Case 2's Villainous Breakdown. The killer yells that they didn't do anything wrong, and the real bad guy is Sirhan Dogen the assassin, as images of him appear on a black background and his bell rings. The rings get more and more frequent, as she starts covering her ears (implying she's hearing the sound in her head, as we are) until they blur and turn into an emergency siren as she screams. In short, you're basically watching her Sanity Slippage, caused by the imprisoned assassin repeatedly reminding her he has agents who can go after her family at any time. Probably one of the most disturbing breakdowns in the series on a psychological level. You later find out Dogen had a good reason for going after her, but at the time you're led to believe he was doing it all For the Evulz, which makes you wish he was guilty.
    • How about the first time you encounter Dogen in person? Between the creepy music and the fact that he looks like he's looking at you despite being blind, some players find him to be something of a Jump Scare.
    • In the very least it's Paranoia Fuel but the description of Dogen's method can leave you unnerved. The charming sound of a little bell could mean you've actually been marked for death. And he doesn't do it with a rifle or anything uncivil like that, oh no, he will come right up and do the job hands-on with a knife.
  • In the 5th case, 14-year-old Simon Keyes's drawing of what he witnessed happened in SS-5. Especially at how he draws Sirhan Dogen the assassin.
    • In general the setting of the SS-5 Incident is unsettling. Using an orphanage as the site of a presidential assassination (followed by murdering a witness at the scene) is pretty dark (not to mention Huang's pleading just to see his son before he's killed, making it all the more depressing). The fact the orphanage director was in on it and they buried his body on the grounds where children play is even worse. Hell, years later, the man's own son comes upon the site and unknowingly spends days rehearsing and recording for a movie right over his grave. He even came this close to catching Blaise in the act of digging the body up to dispose of it elsewhere before the scheduled construction work could unearth it, meaning he very nearly followed Huang's fate in the same location he died in. Furthermore, the fact the murder of the president was covered up so thoroughly in the aftermath gives you a chilling look at how influential and vile Blaise Debeste is.
  • Blaise Debeste is practically Nightmare Fuel personified. The very idea of a 68-year-old Psychopathic Manchild is incredibly disturbing in itself, and almost from his first appearance he's horribly verbally abusing his own son. And it only gets worse as you learn more of what he did... holding a foreign president for ransom and having him assassinated anyway, auctioning off evidence from past cases, brutally murdering another person who found out, forging evidence in the past and using that fact to blackmail the coroner who helped him, and her family, later on, kidnapping the judge's son to manipulate his own trial... and then you remember that this guy was Chief Prosecutor for who knows how long, and that he's had a lot of people "disappeared" during that time (implied to be getting them sentenced to life in prison on false charges). Including his own wife. And to make matters worse, he has a voiced Objection, and it somehow manages to be worse than von Karma's and Alba's combined. If von Karma was a demon, Blaise is the Devil himself. He also gave von Karma the only penalty during his entire career which set the DL-6 incident in motion, making him the Greater-Scope Villain in the entire series.
    • His determination to get Kay falsely convicted for Jill Crane's murder is extremely disturbing, especially when he shows up to an at-the-time self-resigned and imprisoned Edgeworth during his Darkest Hour and makes a mockery of his logic and search for the truth right to his face, claiming that because Blaise is the one on top, he can do as he pleases and have his actions remain just and absolute. He even enunciates Kay's "guilt" so strongly later on in the case that it is emphasized the same way as the series' dreaded guilty verdicts.
  • How about the Big Bad of all of AAI2? Simon Keyes is one of the most fiendish final bosses in the franchise. Why? Because he was responsible for a majority of the murders in the game...and didn't lift a finger for any but the last. He was able to easily manipulate everyone, even getting Edgeworth into bailing him out of suspicion in Case 2. He had nearly everything under control, the only slip-up until Case 5 was his aforementioned issues in Case 2. The only reason he was even caught was due to an utter Spanner in the Works in Justine Courtney who brought the fake Huang to the roof on April 4th. Had she not done so, everyone would be none the wiser, AND even if they had, he would have had no direct hands in any murder, and gotten away with EVERYTHING! The only bright spot is that all his targets were true Asshole Victims.
    • And, unlike every other villain, he actually accomplished everything he intended to do. He took down all his enemies. He will be able to plea justified self-defense and beat his murder charge, as the body double was trying to kill him in earnest with a gun, and he had no way to flee, as he would have been shot out of the sky if he tried. And while he will do some time, he'll be with his assassin father figure, and likely be an amazing assassin himself once he gets out of prison, and no one will be able to do a thing to him. If you anger him, he will destroy you, either by getting someone else to murder you, getting you to willingly murder someone else and then leaving you at the mercy of Miles Edgeworth, or, if you're the fake Huang, stepping in and doing the job personally. And yet he's sympathetic...
    • Despite being an overall sympathetic figure, Simon's misanthropy can be downright chilling at times, especially one of his dialogues for presenting wrong evidence, which has him asking Justine to prove Edgeworth wrong in his stead just so he can laugh at Edgeworth being betrayed by his friends. The fact that he's dressed as a clown at the time doesn't help. He could very well be a sympathetic version of The Joker or Kefka.
  • Something about amnesiac Kay clutching her head and screaming without any sound to go with it (other than the usual 'beep-de-beep' effects) is unnerving (since the visualization is less like memories returning and more like being haunted by demonic voices that won't leave her head). Even the idle version with her grit teeth and erratic, eye-twitching stare is unusually deranged for this series.
  • In the flashback of Case 3, Jeff Master was subjected to an all-night questioning session that caused his hair to turn white, during which time he was not allowed to see his defense attorney. Apparently, this went on for months until Master falsely confessed. The entire episode leaves hardened detective Badd disturbed, and gives a chilling indication of how awful it is to be wrongfully accused in the Ace Attorney universe.

     The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures 
  • The real murder method of the first case: a rare poison that is absorbed through the bloodstream. It works by causing total body paralysis, including breathing, resulting in death by suffocation as the victim is helpless to do anything, unable to call out or get any help as they slowly die. This poison is totally unknown in the game's version of Japan, making the cause of death completely untraceable there, were it not for a Spanner in the Works. Made even worse by the fact that the first case's victim is John Wilson himself. And even worse? This poison is REAL, and its effects in the game are no exaggeration.
  • The horrifying tales of the prosecutor Barok van Zieks more than qualify. With every single case he prosecuted before the events of Case 3, each defendant, guilty or not, ended up dying, either by natural means (according to Herlock Sholmes) or by machinations set up by the Big Bad. It's no wonder that he got the nickname "Reaper of the Bailey" and practically every defense attorney in the UK was frightened by him.
  • Case 3 features death by being locked inside a burning carriage and slowly burning to death. Even though the victim is the Big Bad who got away with his original crime that is not a pleasant way to go.
    • The case itself becomes increasingly unsettling as it plays out. Whereas "Farewell, My Turnabout" has you uncovering Matt Engarde's true nature halfway through the case, you never find out whether Magnus McGilded was guilty or innocent until Case 5. Nonetheless, it's clear that something is very wrong, to the point that there's no usual sense of triumph when the judge declares McGilded "Not Guilty." And then Case 5 reveals that he did do it.
    • The Jurors during the Summation Examination threaten to kill each other!
  • Case 5 officially kicks off when Sholmes realises that Gina (who was invited to stay over for the night) had gone missing late at night, then he directs Naruhodo to the pawnbrokery next door which has a light on for some reason, and Naruhodo realises Gina probably broke into there after a heated conversation regarding Iris' manuscript which Sholmes put up for storage earlier. The party breaks in, and one thing that might tip off the player that something is off is that the calendar is covered in blood and has been damaged by a bullet. Then Sholmes notices there's still someone inside, causing the camera to jump to two shadowy figures and a gunshot rings out. The following cutscene reveals that not only was Sholmes shot, but Naruhodo discovers that Pop Windibank has been murdered, and an unconscious Gina is right next to his corpse.
  • The final villain's breakdown has him try to break his cane on the witness stand and strangling Inspector Gregson with it while on the stand.
    • Before that, he pulls out a revolver after Sholmes' Logic and Reasoning Spectacular and points it at Ryunosuke as Graydon makes a threat to hand the music box disk to him at once, saying that he would hate to have to see Ryunosuke "return to [his] native land in a box". No matter which option Runo chooses, Pop Windibank interjects with a "Hold it!" and threatens to shoot himself, making a bad situation worse. Leave it to Inspector Gregson to save the day.

     The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve 
  • The Masked Man's true Leitmotif is a downright disturbing Dark Reprise of Kazuma Asogi's theme. Listen here. (Beware of major spoilers)
  • In the second case, after you reveal that William Shamspeare is an escaped convict desperately trying to get into a death-row inmate's old apartment to find a treasure he was promised, the normally comical character suddenly becomes a deranged lunatic (spoilers in the link, obviously). Made worse by his being in some of his normal poses, but now sporting a really disturbing Un-Smile and accompanied by slightly off-key sound effects. The unsettling music doesn't help either. Even the jurors are horrified in-universe!
  • Shamspeare's method of trying to move into his cell mate's apartment: by creating a gas leak that kills the other tenant. Soseki Natsume describes waking up to the sensation of being suffocated for multiple nights in a row, with no explanation as to why it keeps happening. It's even horrifyingly depicted in the intro where a monster made of black smog is outright strangling the Japanese student (the stand-in for Natsume).
  • Genshin Asogi's death, at first glance. Imagine being sentenced to death by hanging, said execution getting botched, having a metal mask placed over your head, being placed in a sealed coffin, and after how many hours pass by, when you come to and try to come out of your coffin, you get shot out of nowhere. As it turns out, the seemingly-botched execution was planned, but it's still a terrifying thought.
    • Related, Madame Tusspells, the wax sculptor's testimony in Case 3's trial, which involves her describing how hard it is to make a mold out of a dead body's face before rigor mortis sets in, in vivid detail. And she talks about it in a way that implies "The Professor" isn't the first dead body she's done this to. Not helped by her theme playing through this sequence.
  • Daley Vigil remembering his past. The flashback shows him in Barry's office, thinking about how badly he screwed up by allowing the Professor to escape, and deciding to kill himself by jumping out of the window. Then the screen shatters back to the present as Daley screams for several text boxes, his eyes turn white, and he passes out.
  • The entire premise of the game's backstory. Someone relatively high-up in the British judicial system caught a Serial Killer in the act and blackmailed him into becoming his personal hitman, using him to kill his way to the top. Then, he coerces several key figures in both Britain and Japan into a massive conspiracy cleaning up every loose end. Part of this involved setting up Van Zieks' "Reaper" reputation by killing everyone he prosecuted, another part involved taking advantage of international extradition treaties to assassinate key targets without fear of retribution. At least part of both countries' governments were in on this. Paranoia Fuel sets in when you find out the Japanese judge, someone you probably never suspected for a moment, is a killer working for the Big Bad. Imagine being caught in the middle of all this.
    • What makes it even scarier is the crowd's reaction to The Reveal: they start cheering for Stronghart, agreeing that he did what he had to do to reduce crime in Britain. This despite the fact that he's just confessed to being the mastermind behind most of the Professor killings that terrorized London.
      • And as if that wasn’t enough, during the moment you have to choose between raising an objection, presenting evidence, or waiting to see what happens, one wouldn’t be blamed for saving before making a choice. BUT!!! While saving, you can still hear the court chanting Stronghart’s name. The pressure is that high.
  • After Enoch Drebber has been captured and his time bomb set to destroy his workshop was disarmed, he cackles at this, with an ominous zoom onto Gina holding said bomb, at first implying that Sholmes actually failed to disarm it and everyone here will die, only then stating that the heroes only managed to disarm "that" one. It's then revealed that Harebrayne's machine has one as well, which blows up with at least two police officers nearby.

     2016 Anime 
  • In the anime adaptation, we get to see animated interpretations of the crimes as they happened. This also applies to the false testimonies of what say, the real suspect, claims to have seen. For example, the First Turnabout shows Frank Sahwit actively seeing Larry exit Cindy's room after the murder and deciding to call the police, when we already know that's not how it happened. That's all fine and dandy, but then we get to the cases where one of the heroes is the defendant; in other words, we get to see the lovely image of Maya, and later Phoenix himself, murdering Mia.
  • The portrayal of the "murder" of Robert Hammond at the beginning of the first Turnabout Goodbyes gives a very eerie atmosphere to it. The dark night and leafless trees make the murder lifted straight out of a horror movie.
  • Redd White's Nightmare Face when he kills Mia is quite unsettling and doubles as a Jump Scare.
  • Manfred von Karma's depiction in the Turnabout Goodbyes episodes is far more chilling than the game counterpart. Here, he shows a great level of intelligence and fear towards anyone who stands in his way. This is shown in greater detail with episode 10, in which instead of meeting Phoenix and Maya in the files room regarding the DL-6 incident and tasing them to get the evidence, he gets it right when Phoenix and Maya arrive, showing how well he knows about the clues that might lead to the murder of Robert Hammond. Lastly, when Karma taunts Phoenix about the usage of evidence of court at the moment where the guilty verdict is given, he ends his taunt by calling him an amateur and, unlike the other episodes, where a dramatic pointing results in someone being blown away, Manfred does it by SLAMMING his fist on the table. The episodes make von Karma truly live up to his reputation as a "demon" prosecutor.
    • He certainly sounds like a demon too, especially in the English dub. You thought he was terrifying already? Try listening to his dub VA channeling his inner Tony Jay every time he speaks!
  • During the arc, we also get to see Phoenix's flashback of the class trial as a child. On top of the children accusing him of stealing the money, we're also treated to seeing the teacher trying to goad him to confess to an incident he wasn't responsible for with a twisted take of a smile. Even if you assume that the teacher is probably just trying to get through the day without a hitch, the studio put the effort into making sure you're seeing it through the eyes of a child being scapegoated understandably feeling that everyone is against him.
  • The moment Maya reveals that she found the bullet that killed Gregory Edgeworth hidden in Manfred von Karma's office gives a close-up on von Karma's face: his irises have shrunken and his gums start showing as he clutches his shoulder, where the second DL-6 bullet is located. His eyes keep bugging out all the time, and then he lets out the scream that haunted Edgeworth for 15 years. The moment in his testimony when he describes picking up Yanni Yogi's pistol is just as unsettling. His voice gets all raspy and he mimics holding a pistol with both hands as he says that he "knew it was destiny". As he gets off the witness stand he looks frail, barely kept standing by his walking cane that is shattered by Phoenix's outburst.
  • Morgan Fey's sprite where her pupils seem to be missing are adapted in this version into Glowing Eyes of Doom. There's also a more sinister air surrounding her this time around, and the calm demeanor as she talks to Ini (Mimi) about getting her off the hook is enough to send shivers down your spine. let alone when she chillingly talks to a portrait of Misty Fey.
  • We all know how scary Ini (actually Mimi) is when she starts to show her true colors, but in the Anime version, we can get to hear her nasty demeanor towards the defense and it's quite unnerving to listen to her threatening voice in the latter half.
  • Unlike in the games, Franziska getting shot is actually shown, and it seems to be worse than the injury she sustained in the games since she actually seems to have fainted. Further, while in the original games, her shooting might have been a Kick the Dog, or a Take That, Scrappy! (depending on your opinion of her), but since the anime toned down her bad demeanor, it also gives her a more sympathetic P.O.V..
  • Matt Engarde's reveal of his true self is even creepier in the anime. Why? Because he does it while giving out a burst of very disturbing laughter that can be unnerving for many people, especially that the original material wasn't voiced. It also shows that this is pretty much a nightmare in-life to Phoenix, because at this point, he was begging that Engarde being the culprit was a lie, he wanted to believe in the goodness of his client... until that reveal slams him down that he's working for an evil bastard this time.
    • Then comes his breakdown, where he scratches bleeding lines into his face with his nails. Think the anime wouldn't show something like that? It does. Twice.
  • Dahlia's demon face is shown in full, and it will send shivers down your spine.

Alternative Title(s): Ace Attorney Investigations Miles Edgeworth