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Nightmare Fuel / BoJack Horseman

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"There is no shame in dying for nothing. That's why most people die."
Henry Winkler about Herb's death, "Still Broken". Pretty good summation of the show's Primal Fear.
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While Bojack Horseman has never been the kind of show that goes out of its way to scare the audience, it has had its fair share of scares. Given that the series is more than willing to show the darker side of celebrity and the desire to be remembered, a lot of scares come from more existential places.


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    Season 1 
The BoJack Horseman Story: Chapter One

Prickly Muffin

  • BoJack explaining to young Sarah Lynn about the scary truths of show business comes across as very sinister, especially as BoJack grows more unhinged and angry as if he is threatening the little girl. It's gets worse when you realize that it's this advice that led to Sarah eventually becoming the train-wreck that she is as an adult. The fact that she looks absolutely terrified when BoJack finishes telling her all this really hammers it in:
    BoJack: Hey, you see those people?
    Sarah Lynn: Yeah.
    BoJack: Well, those boobs and jerkwads are the best friends you'll ever have. Without them, you're nothing. Remember that. Your family will never understand you, your lovers will leave you or try to change you, but your fans, you be good to them and they'll be good to you. The most important thing is, you gotta give the people what they want, even if it kills you, even if it empties you out until there's nothing left to empty. No matter what happens, no matter how much it hurts, you don't stop dancing, and you don't stop smiling, and you give those people what they want!.
    (beat)
    Director: And action!
    BoJack: (as The Horse) Why aren't you dressed for school, prickly muffin?
    • Back in the present day, Sarah Lynn proves what an insane Attention Whore she's become; she reacts to a breakup with her boyfriend by stabbing her own stomach, and spills lots of blood on the floor. BoJack has to drive her to the hospital.

Our A-Story is a 'D' Story

  • When Todd is in the prison cafeteria, he meets a friendly inmate who offers to protect him... and then out of nowhere, another deranged prisoner repeatedly stabs that man to death, spraying lots of blood.
    • Later, after Todd accidentally "double-crossed" two different gangs (the Aryan Brotherhood and Latin Kings), he has now triggered a full-blown prison gang war. In the aftermath, there's several dead inmates and guards lying around, and the Aryans and Latins have teamed up to try and kill Todd by curb-stomping his head. Fortunately for Todd, a conveniently-timed prison break allows him to escape unharmed (along with dozens of dangerous criminals, however).

Downer Ending

    Season 2 
Chickens
  • The chicken slaughtering. To clarify, in a world full of Funny Animals, how do they eat animal meat? Well, there are no non-anthropomorphic animals, so sections of prey species are bred solely for the purpose of being eaten, and are hormonally altered so that they can only act like dumb animals.
    • Even more jarring is the fact that the local chicken farm is run by a family of talking chickens. There's just so much Fridge Horror from the fact that in this Crapsack World, what's basically cannibalism of otherwise-sapient creatures is both legal and socially accepted. The barren look on the farmer's wife's face says it all.

Hank After Dark

The Shot

Escape from L.A.

  • Quite a lot of Adult Fear from Charlotte's point of view, when she suddenly discovers her teen daughter Penny almost about to sleep with BoJack. She's now mad as all hell, and orders him to leave her home. Imagine your adult friend who you begin to see as a friend to not only you but your whole family and then he tries to sleep with your daughter.
    Bojack: Charlotte, I am so sorry—
    Charlotte: DON'T. Don't you dare. If you are not out of my driveway in the next thirty minutes, I am calling the police. And if you ever try to contact me or my family again, I will fucking KILL you.
  • When Charlotte castigates Bojack, the camera angle makes it look like she's also speaking to the viewer.
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    Season 3 

Fish Out of Water

  • Several people with claustrophobia have called this episode one of the most nightmarish things they've ever sat through, with a whole half hour of BoJack stuck underwater with only a small glass bubble to keep him from drowning, and unable to communicate at all.

It's You

  • BoJack listens to Ana's story about how she once crashed her car into the ocean and nearly drowned. He even notes how disturbing her story is.

That's Too Much, Man!

  • The parents of young Todd lookalike are Adult Fear — they see a strange man talking and hugging their son, but recognize him as a famous person. Even though they wonder if he's a pedophile, that doesn't stop either of them from attempting to use their son as a way to make a name for themselves. Of course, since the audience is well aware that BoJack isn't like that, it's fine on that part, but still...
  • Despite his better judgement telling him not to, and his disgust at himself for even thinking it, BoJack travels to Penny's college to find her and talk to her. Not because he thinks it's a good idea, but because he's so strung out on illicit substances that his own mind and body are working against him.
  • This Wham Episode ends with Sarah-Lynn overdosing on drugs as a result of BoJack asking her to end her 9-month-long withdrawal from substances, just so that she can get wasted with him. Sarah-Lynn loses consciousness and dies in BoJack's arms while the two of them were having quite the eye-opening, life-contemplating experience at a planetarium. The End.
  • Keen-eyed viewers will also notice Sarah Lynn's body growing deathly pale, and her eyes getting more dark than usual, shortly after taking the drug BoJack, which was strong enough to kill an orca stripper in BoJack Kills.

That Went Well

  • BoJack's Heel Realization that Sarah Lynn's rise and fall wasn't anything special. She was just one used-up starlet in a long line of used-up starlets, and he contributed to the problem by inadvertently causing her fatal overdose. When the child actress on Ethan Around tells him she wants to be just like him, he has a panic attack at the implication that he'll be responsible for it yet again, and is literally Driven to Suicide when he attempts to crash his car along the freeway, only to relent and continue living at the last second.

    Season 4 
The Old Sugarman Place
  • Mrs. Sugarman's breakdown after her son is killed in the war, culminating in her being lobotomized after making young Beatrice drive them home, causing her to crash into a gas station. Her dead stare, along with the massive scar on her head (and the awful truth of mental health treatment in the 40's) is disturbing. Made worse by her final line, which turns an innocent phrase from earlier into a chilling wordplay:.
    Honey: Why, I have half a mind...
    • And the exchange from earlier...
      Honey: I don't know, but I've got half a mind to kiss you with that "smart mouth".
      Joseph: Well that half you can keep!
    • At the end of the flashback, when Honey says "Why I have half a mind..." and trails off, the beeping from the demolition vehicles backing up bleeds into the scene, acting as an audible ellipsis. You can hear Honey's brain groping for the end of the sentence only to find nothing there — her mind's gone dead, like a telephone that's been hung up, and she's left staring into space.
  • As a terrified Beatrice tries to drive herself and her mother home, a distraught Honey urges her to go faster and cries out that she "wants to feel alive again" before stomping on the gas pedal, which makes them crash. This could be interpreted as Honey seeing only one way to see her son again, and potentially trying to take Beatrice with her. (Un)Fortunately for them, that's not what happens.
  • Eddie's suicidal meltdown after BoJack tricks him into flying again, nearly throwing him into a jet engine out of rage before dropping back down, sending them both deep into the lake. When BoJack pulls them out, Eddie simply sits on the bank, repeatedly screaming "I don't want to live!".

Thoughts and Prayers

Stupid Piece of Sh*t

  • BoJack's brutally self-deprecating internal monologue and the accompanying scribbles can be unsettling, especially for those who suffer from intrusive thoughts and anxiety in real life. The worst case is when he panics over "ruining" Hollyhock near the end: rambling in his mind about how horrible he is as he pictures Hollyhock falling away from him, Sarah Lynn dead and Charlotte scowling at him, and all his (ex) friends and anxieties crowding around him, black scribbles all over the place as his thoughts become less coherent and more rapid-fire panicky self hate.
    • Even if you don't suffer from anxiety, the Deranged Animation used in these sequences can still make watching them somewhat unpleasant. Charlotte, Beatrice and Hollyhock, in particular, show some hefty split second nightmare faces.

Underground

  • As a direct consequence of allowing oil fracking operations to happen in his (literal) backyard, a sudden earthquake causes Mr. Peanutbutter's house to sink beneath the ground during a campaign fundraising party. While this situation is mostly Played For Black Comedy, the ramifications are still genuinely grim.
    • Mr. Peanutbutter, Diane, and all their party guests are trapped underground for a total of 10 days, without any immediate assistance from the outside world. The food, water, and oxygen are gradually running out, so this naturally drives everyone crazy. Mr. Peanutbutter and Woodchuck fight for leadership of the group, which reveals that a desperate mob mentality has formed that will do anything for their own survival and self-gratification.
    • A bit of Fridge Horror: since BoJack was one of the people trapped underground for those 10 days, that means Hollyhock was most likely at his house with Beatrice and Tina the whole time. Not a scary thought at first, but then we find out in the next episode that Beatrice was spiking Hollyhock's coffee with amphetamines the entire time...

lovin that cali lifestyle!!

  • The cold open, including the "A Netflix Original Series" card at the very start, is from a distorted, blurry perspective, with muffled audio and disjointed shots of BoJack, Tina, Hollyhock, and Beatrice playing cards. The audience isn't exactly clear what's going on until it's made clear Hollyhock is having some sort of episode, and she stumbles to the bathroom, where she quickly replies to one of her dads' texts a happy selfie with the Title Drop as her caption before passing out. We're kept in the dark about her condition for over ten minutes, until it's revealed she overdosed on appetite suppressants Beatrice had been mindlessly slipping into her coffee without anyone knowing. Her being a teenager makes this a pretty horrible Adult Fear.
    • While we're not told exactly what's going on at first, we can clearly see that she's drastically skinnier, as evidenced by her regular outfit suddenly looking baggy and loose-fitting and her otherwise plump belly all but completely gone. It's obvious from the beginning that this has something to do with her being self conscious about her weight, but at first it looks more like BoJack caused her to develop and eating disorder, the mere thought of which is actually more terrifying than the truth.
    • The way Beatrice with a devilish look admits she put in Holly's coffee an "old family secret" (a.k.a. weight loss pills)and the way she casually tells Bojack she did it, so Hollyhock would take them in the future on her own to make herself skinner, are unsettling. It almost looks like she never had dementia in the first place, and that it was just an excuse to make everyone's life even more miserable because of her toxicity.
  • Similar is BoJack's panic attack when he realizes that he's ruined not only yet another relationship but that he very nearly killed a child. He speeds home, runs into the bathroom, and flushes all of his pills down the toilet, fearing that she must have OD'd on something of his while yelling "No! No! No!" over and over. The whole time, all of the high-frequency sound cuts out, leaving everything a low rumble as we get BoJack's mental breakdown from his perspective, eventually ending with him collapsing on the floor of his bathroom while hyperventilating, clearly thinking "My God, What Have I Done?".
    • BoJack's hyperventilation sounds as if he's trying to cry, but as we know, he can't. Those anxiety attacks and hyperventilation in other episodes? That's his body reacting to being physically unable to properly function and cry when he needs to.

Time's Arrow

  • Beatrice's traumatic flashbacks are extremely trippy and unnerving, due to being filtered through both her dementia and depression. They start with subtle changes, such as the letters on the hotel sign switching around (though when you do notice them they can be quite jarring), and then slide into borderline Deranged Animation, such as the portraits of the Sugarman and Horseman families being layered together, and the faces of Henrietta and most other people being scribbled out for the whole episode. Then here's the horrible, hellish red filter over Beatrice's flashbacks to her childhood, and her father cheerfully burning her beloved baby doll while she cries for him to stop. Damn.
    • Beatrice's memory of her mother appears to be so painful, she's only ever seen as flashes of her silhouette, with the massive surgical scar on her head highlighted.
      • Also, as this review pointed out, things shown in shadow often symbolize something to be feared, playing on the Primal Fear of the dark. Honey being shown only in silhouette not only displays how she's now a "shadow" of her former self; because Joseph used Honey and her lobotomy as a threat to keep Beatrice in line, Beatrice sees her mother as everything she fears could happen to her.
    • "[This painting] belonged to your grandfather. A man who knew what marriage meant." Smash cut to Joseph (in silhouette) angrily shaking his brain-dead wife.
    • And the kicker — when her father is burning all of her possessions, including her favorite doll, he makes no attempt to console or explain things to Beatrice. He instead scolds her for getting so emotional before reminding her what happened when her mother couldn't control herself.
  • Even the transitions between flashbacks is horrifying. When BoJack blacks out in "Downer Ending" or "That's Too Much, Man!" it happens with a simple fade or black flash. Beatrice's flashbacks? A strange computerized glitch and a horrible screech.
  • As with The Old Sugarman Place, this is an episode that makes terrifyingly effective use of sound, particularly towards the end. As Beatrice's memory of her doll being burned gets entangled with BoJack's birth and Hollyhock's birth, the music moves from bittersweet but triumphant, to a moment of calm...only to slide into a discordant and eerie noise as a young Beatrice frantically begs the servants not to burn her belongings, cut with Hollyhock's separation from her mother. There's a Scare Chord when Henrietta screams as her baby is taken from her, followed quickly by the echoing and ethereal scream as Honey's lobotomized silhouette appears in the flames behind Beatrice's father and his horrifying Dissonant Serenity. The effect is downright chilling, and is pictured above.
    • If Henrietta's screams of anguish as she begs to hold her baby weren't traumatic enough, her final scream is accompanied by the black scribble that obscures her face engulfing the entire screen to properly illustrate her Sanity Slippage.
  • When Joseph not so subtly threatens to have Beatrice lobotomized like her mother, the background is nothing but fire, essentially being Hell. Joseph turns his body slightly so that it faces the audience and his ears actually resemble horns. This may not even have been intentional on the animators part, but it certainly makes Joseph look that much more evil.
    • The scene where the silhouette of Beatrice's lobotomized mother appears besides Joseph, who is bathed in hellfire, is also accompanied by the faint sounds of a woman's screams. Screams that could either mean that Honey was in pain due to the procedure, or worse, she was screaming in fear of the procedure taking away her identity.

What Time Is It Right Now

    Season 5 
The Dog Days Are Over
  • It's treated as a quick Black Comedy joke, but there's the background event where Stefani Stilton hires a crew of exterminators to deal with a bunch of striking cockroach IT workers at GirlCroosh who tried to unionize. Their muffled screams can even be heard while poison gas is being pumped into the fumigation tent while they're still inside the building. There's a lot of Fridge Horror from the apparent fact that it's perfectly legal to exterminate (fully sapient) insect-people.

Ancient History

  • The episode's main plot is kicked off by Hollyhock throwing all of BoJack's painkiller pills down the sink drain, due to a combination of PTSD-induced flashbacks of when Beatrice poisoned her coffee with amphetamines, and (unjustified) paranoia that BoJack was going to spike her pizza with those pills. It reveals that she's still mentally scarred by last season's events that resulted in her hospitalization.
  • Desperate for painkillers after Hollyhock destroys his stash and visibly going into withdrawals, BoJack closes his eyes and plows his car into oncoming traffic, echoing his earlier suicide attempt from the Season 3 finale.

Head in the Clouds

  • Diane and BoJack's argument about his behavior was compelling for a lot of reasons, but his instability combined with her (completely justified) fury about his shitty behavior and casually predatory actions towards women makes the tension build and build, which makes the moments where BoJack grabs Diane's arm as she tries to get him to stop absolutely chilling.

The Showstopper

  • The episode takes the premise of the classic Surreal Horror film Perfect Blue and makes it even darker with BoJack's painkiller addiction causing the Mind Screw plot of Philbert to bleed into his perception of his real life more and more, culminating in him genuinely strangling Gina during filming of the show, as the others gradually realize they're watching what looks like an attempted murder in progress.
    Gina: (scared and angry) What the fuck is wrong with you?!
    • The other characters present are horrified when they finally realize what's happening, including Mr. Peanutbutter who joins several crew members in pulling BoJack off of Gina. But Flip's reaction? Tell the cameraman to keep filming.
    • Actually the even more unsettling element is that only a handful of crew members figure to stop BoJack. The rest just sit there and gawp or record footage on their phone. If Mr. Peanutbutter hadn't started restraining BoJack, everyone might have dithered long enough for BoJack to kill Gina.
    • In the French dub, BoJack is laughing as he strangles Gina.
      • Hell, French BoJack is just downright terrifying in this scene. Whereas in the English dub he sounds seriously pissed off, the French dub makes it sound like he's completely lost his mind in a blind rage.
    • When BoJack begins strangling Gina, his expression is absolutely chilling. Even for a cartoon, you can see disturbingly malicious intent in his eyes, as if it were a real murder taking place.
  • In the final scene of BoJack's drug-induced psychosis, there's the absolutely chilling shot of BoJack looking up at the Philbert promotional balloon of him, which is staring directly back at him in a way that seems to symbolize how everything that's just happened was all his own fault, and he has no one else to blame. And then the episode just ends right there. Oh, God...

The Stopped Show

  • After the last episode's moment of BoJack strangling Gina, this episode reveals something that just makes it a thousand times worse: BoJack doesn't remember any of it. Up until Princess Carolyn shows him, he's genuinely worried for Gina and confused about what exactly has happened. While we've seen BoJack make his (very) bad choices and then deal with the guilt and consequences, this is a sharp contrast. BoJack has to deal with the guilt and consequences of something he can't remember doing. His addiction was no one's fault but his own, but the fact that even Princess Carolyn—who has always been the one to tell him to get his crap together and push him on his feet—shows genuine concern for his mental state really says that BoJack has officially cracked.

    Season 6 
  • The opening goes through a massive overhaul, with one very subtle bit of horror; the moment where BoJack tips over his balcony and lands in a swimming pool is altered so he's now at the observatory. When he falls over the balcony, there's no swimming pool, just darkness.

The New Client

  • Princess Carolyn's daily routine of trying to look after a newborn and work full-time is depicted with her accompanied by several doppengangers doing various tasks, for a full episode. The overwhelming nature of it captures the stress of being a new parent so well.
    • How stressed is she? She nearly microwaves her daughter!

Feel-Good Story

  • The satire on monopolistic practices is as subtle as a train collision, but there is some horrifying truth to it. As soon as Diane expresses the slightest disagreement with one of Whitewhale's subsidiaries buying up an independent toy company, Whitewhale buys up Girl Croosh, preventing them from criticizing a vast number of companies, including those who do real damage to the public and environment.
  • Diane and Guy investigate an apparent workplace accident at a Whitewhale factory with the plot to make an exposé video about it. Jeremiah Whitewhale finds out and, rather than put a stop to it, smugly informs her that such a video won't harm his company, and the lack of moral restriction actually increases the company's value. He then nonchalantly admits that the employee didn't die of an accident, but was murdered for "taking too many bathroom breaks." He then reveals that Congress passed a bill where murder is legal for the rich.
    Jeremiah Whitewhale: If you wanna do something about it, just make a billion dollars and murder me!

Good Damage

  • This episode is a counterpart to the above mentioned "Stupid Piece of Sh*t" in that it employs Deranged Animation to convey serious depression, this time representing Diane's thoughts as she works on her memoir. She sees herself and the figures in her life as scraggly incomplete scribbles, words on the page running together, and eventually all of the figures in her life grow monstrous and begin to overtake her.

Xerox of a Xerox

The Horny Unicorn

  • The aftermath of BoJack's second interview. Everything he (and the audience) feared becomes reality. He is loathed almost universally and can't even leave the house to go to a Drive-Thru without people glaring, yelling, or throwing milkshakes at him.

The View from Halfway Down

  • This entire episode is about BoJack trying to reconnect with his family and loved ones (as well as Zach Braff and Corduroy Jackson-Jackson), even though they're all dead. He's aware that it's all a dream that he thinks he can wake up from, but they all decide to put on a show, and BoJack has no choice but to watch.
    • Sarah Lynn's performance is a reprise of Gina's song from a season prior, albeit with a more modern flair, and as she wraps up her performance, a door appears on the stage. It is pitch black beyond the door, her singing slows down to a droning chant, and she take a deep breath before letting herself fall backwards into the nothingness. What's worse is that mantra ("Don't stop dancing") is what BoJack told her when she was little. BoJack knows that her inability to slow down and eventual death were all his fault.
      • From the beginning of the episode up to right before the performance, we see Sarah Lynn slowly age from her child to teen appearances she had on Horsin Around, to her 20-something pop star appearance, to her 30-year-old appearance, showing both BoJack's shifting memory of her and her edging closer to death.
    • Corduroy Jackson-Jackson performs an aerobatic routine that has him falling through the doorway while Herb and BoJack have a worried conversation beside it - but watch closely as Corduroy flails about in the background and you're treated with a chilling split-second shot of his limp body swaying from the ribbon as if it's a noose.
    • In a moment of Black Comedy, Zach Braff is pushed and roller blades slowly backwards into the void, seemingly powerless to control himself, yet he just spouts the show's signature tongue twisters all the while.
    • Secretariat recites a poem about what it was like jumping off a bridge, talking about the view from halfway down during the fall, and all the while, the spotlight keeps shining on the door as it inches closer to Secretariat, as if it's taunting him. Worse still is that as Secretariat continues reading, he starts to sound more panicked and scared, then eventually falls backwards into it, and it's just very hard to watch, especially for viewers who have been suicidal in the past.
      • Secretariat is holding four pages in his hand when he reads the poem. The first three pages are each a stanza from the poem, but he doesn't get a chance to read the last before falling into the door. Who knows what could have been were he to finish living his life instead of ending it early? We'll never know now.
    • BoJack starts to panic and tries to leave, but he can't. Beatrice and Crackerjack are up next, and the two perform a duet of Beatrice twirling a ribbon and Crackerjack playing the trumpet for her. He then wraps himself up with the ribbon and jumps into the void, while Beatrice covers herself with the ribbon. All while black tar envelops it, and it envelops her, and then she disappears.
    • Shortly before his performance with Beatrice, Crackerjack is briefly shown with a bleeding hole in his head.
      Crackerjack: Nothing you do in here matters, pal.
    • The tar then swallows up Herb, and the red bird that flew in to the house (and said bird has a moment where the bird's face melts off a few times), and the tar then begins to chase BoJack throughout the house as he realizes that whatever this is, is death, and that it's coming for him. He realizes that he's drowning in his swimming pool, as he sees a silhouette of himself floating inside said pool. It catches up to him, it starts to envelop him too, and the episode ends on the sound of a flatline. It stays throughout the credits.
      • The whole scene really hammers in just how frightened BoJack is about confronting his mortality. This bit of dialogue he has just before it's his turn to enter that pitch black door to nowhere doesn't ease his intense feeling of dread.
        BoJack: Is it terrifying?
        Herb: No, I don't think so. It's just the way it is, you know? Everything has to end. The drip finally stops. (sticks his arm into The Black Door)
        BoJack: See you on the other side.
        Herb: (with sadness in his voice, as the darkness creeps out the door and slowly consumes him) Oh, BoJack, no... there is no other side. This is it. (he's eaten entirely by the darkness)
    • BoJack places one final call to "Diane" before being swallowed up by the slime. It's a bit eerie to hear her voice so calm and pleasant, yet hollow, in the midst of Bojack's apparent final moments.

Nice While It Lasted

  • It's very easy to miss the beeping of the heart monitor at the end of the previous episode (which signifies that Bojack is still alive) and go into this episode thinking that he actually died. The beginning of this episode, which features a grungy song and Jitter Cam around the chaos of Bojack's former living room, is disturbing to watch with this in mind - especially as you see his apparently dead body seconds later.
  • While it isn't the kind of extreme, short term trauma of other events of the series, BoJack getting out of prison for a day and ending the night with Diane, someone who was his best friend and closest confidant for the better part of a decade, telling him they'll never talk to each other again. There's a definite sense of Adult Fear in the idea that a relationship like that can just dissolve into nothing.
    • In the same scene, Diane describes her having gone into a spiral after hearing BoJack's last voicemail and thinking that he had died and that it might have been her fault for not picking up his call.


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