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Nightmare Fuel / Live-Action TV

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You're his wife now.

Whether it's specific horror programs, moments of violence or tension in dramatic shows, disturbing Public Service Announcements, or even unintentionally creepy segments on little kids' shows, Live-Action TV contains plenty of things that will give you trouble sleeping. This section contains many of these moments, so read on if you dare...


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Miscellaneous Series

This section is in alphabetical order by series. Before you add examples here, check the index above and make sure the series doesn't already have its own page.

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  • 1941 (2009), when the Latvian fascists douse Alyona in gasoline and attempt to burn her alive. She is only saved by the timely intervention of Walter.
  • The Adventures Of Black Beauty was a gentle, family-friendly British series in the early 70's, comparable in tone to Little House on the Prairie. It was geared toward children, mostly young children. In an episode entitled Out of the Night, two of the teenaged characters, trying to get home before full dark, cut through an abandoned Priory, and encounter a figure in a long cloak and hood with the face of a skull. Of course, the episode has a Scooby-Doo ending, but it's a safe bet most young children probably weren't expecting to look into the face of Death while watching a show about a sweet family and their pretty horse.
  • The David Attenborough documentary Africa features a sequence of giant carnivorous crickets (with copious close-ups) attacking helpless quelea chicks. The little beasts even squirt their own blood at the eyes of the parents.
  • The History Channel documentary After Apocalypse is pretty much packed of this. It realistically shows how Earth and life itself would look like after they had suffered from some apocalyptic event like a worldlike virus epidemic, like the Black Death in the Middle Ages, or the one in I Am Legend but without the zombies. The documentary is told from the eyes of an American middle-class family who lived a normal life before a deadly virus from China kills of most of the world's population who is trying to survive the new harsh world that comes after the epidemic. Meanwhile, environmental, sociological, psychological and medical experts are given short interviews from time to time during the documentary telling about the situations the family and the rest of the world goes through.
  • Afterlife, probably the UK's answer to Medium, had some seriously disturbing moments. One of the biggest stand out moments was an episode where a couple were being haunted by a ghost which kept talking to their baby through the baby monitor. The episode ended with the wife putting the baby in the bath, then leaving her baby in the bathroom alone while she got a towel. Just as she was walking back to the bathroom, the door slammed shut, and splashing sounds began to come from inside. The wife hammered and pushed at the door, but to no avail. When it finally opened, she entered to find that her baby had been drowned. Cut to the baby monitor which now has cries emitting from it, accompanied by the ghost whispering, in a comforting sort of way, "Ssh, ssh, I've got you..."
  • Alien Planet, a Discovery Channel Speculative Documentary based on Wayne Barlowe's Expedition. If you thought his artwork was scary, see the creatures in action.
  • Ric Burns' 1992 documentary on the Donner Party, the group of American pioneers who had to resort to cannibalism to survive, which aired as part of PBS' The American Experience.
  • The Magog from Andromeda. Dear God, the Magog. Despite looking like men in fursuits, they still manage to top the Borg and the Daleks as a terrifying villain race. Especially with regards to their reproductive methods.
  • Discovery Channel has a terrifying series named Animal X, a cryptozoological documentary series detailing mysterious occurrences around animals. Just one episode is just enough to make it difficult to sleep at night afterward. Watch it here and enjoy.
  • Series 3 of Ashes to Ashes (2008) has brought us the Body Horror that is PC Where's-the-rest-of-his-face. Crows cawing will never sound the same again.
    • PC Where's-the-rest-of-his-face? He's a 20-something year old Gene Hunt who was killed after a week in the police force. In an attempt to stop a robbery on coronation day 1953, he was shot in the head with a shotgun and buried in a shallow grave, where he remained until his body was discovered by police in the present day.
    • What about Viv's death scene, when Jim Keates just holds him and watches him die in pain and terror. Terrifying enough before you find out the latter's true identity and purpose! Keats is either Satan or one of his minions come for the souls of the failed coppers.
    • From series 1, that clown. That bloody clown. "I'm happy, hope you're happy too..."
  • Beasts was a 1976 horror anthology series written for TV by Nigel Kneale. Though most of the stories were fairly silly (an aquarium haunted by the ghost of a dolphin for instance) the acting stilted and the monster effects unconvincing, the second episode During Barty's Party has a middle aged English couple besieged in their country house by a horde of super-intelligent rats. The rats are never seen, but the sound of their ever-louder squeaking and scurrying is unnerving. There are two stand-out scenes: the first one, where we see a sports car seemingly abandoned on a country lane in bright sunlight with its radio playing, which ends with the sound of people screaming as something terrible happens to them, and the last one, where the couple helplessly watch through an upstairs window as their neighbours, who have just arrived home, are attacked. Nothing is shown, but the sound of the neighbours' cheery laughter turning to shouts and screams until they are drowned out completely by the noise of the rats is horrifying.
  • The Between the Lions episode "Little Big Mouse" had Cleo being kidnapped by hunters, which was pretty intense for a preschool show.
    • Many kids were also afraid of Arty Smartypants, who, with his mismatched eyes and odd facial construction, resembled a Picasso painting come to life.
  • The Foleys segment in The Big Comfy Couch often gets this reaction because of the black and white background of the sketch and the fact that the characters make weird chicken noises.
  • Every year, the British children's show Blue Peter does a charity appeal every year or so. Their 2005 appeal was called the Treasure Trail and the money went to a British children's hotline known as Childline. During the appeal they showed a series of short stories involving kids who called Childline. For a kids' show, some of the scenes in them can be pretty nightmarish for kids. Highlights include a man dropping a wine glass in front of his son and another in which a man pushes a plate across the dinner table hitting his wife. The fact the wife in the second one stats crying after the plate hits her and they divorce a short time later does not help ether.
  • Boohbah is this to some, mostly due to the appearance of the Boohbahs themselves. Weird-looking, alien-like creatures that do nothing but strange exercising for pretty much the entire duration of the segments they appear in. This, despite the fact that this is a kids' show.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Imagine the trauma that someone who was actually asleep for 504 years would go through upon waking up. Assuming Buck's physical and mental state weren't affected by being in suspended animation (or could be restored with 25th century technology) he's in a completely alien world. Essentially he has to learn a new language from the ground up, then deal with all of his education and training being hopelessly out of date. Even the very basics have changed, such as clothing and personal hygiene. And even if there hadn't been a nuclear war in the series' back story, everyone he had ever known and loved is long dead; their descendants (if any) are so far removed from him as to make the connection academic at best. Finding intact records (much less their grave sites) would be nothing short of a miracle.note  Buck is pretty much an infant in a grown man's body once he wakes up, making him vulnerable to whatever faction recovered him first. The pilot movie actually played with this, when the Draconians attach a tracking device to his ship's navigational equipment to learn the way past New Chicago's defense grid. They could just as easily have made him a full-on Manchurian Agent (and he is in fact suspected of being a Draconian spy when he first shows up) or worse. The whole premise is an exercise in Nightmare Fuel!
  • Some of Chewin' the Fat's attempts at dark humour arguably went too far:
    • One of the "Ballistic Bob" sketches note  had him going mad in the middle of performing surgery... which causes him to trash the operating theatre, before violently disembowelling the patient, pulling out their organs and lobbing them across the room. After which the camera just lingers on his Skyward Screaming face. Jeez. That's not funny, that's just disturbing.
    • Another sketch had a couple of lottery winners being interviewed at home. They explain that they came across the winning numbers by writing numbers on balls... by which they mean actual human testicles, as they reveal when one of them opens a cupboard to reveal dismembered human body parts. The interviewer understandably gets the hell out of there, as the husband dangles a keyring made from a spare ball in front of the camera.
  • In the TV version of Childhood's End when the Overlords announce there will be no more children born on Earth, there is a shot of a pregnant woman - whose stomach deflates as she screams in horror.
  • The kidnapping scene from the Christian children's show Color Me A Rainbow. The show starts off as normal, with the puppets Froggy, Crow, and Turtle talking with their human caretaker about a Biblical concept (in this case, Jesus being the Door that leads out of sin), and then rather abruptly cuts to a voice saying "Later that afternoon..." and a dark room with a shadowy figure stirring a steaming pot and Crow shivering in a cage. While Crow screams and cries for help, the shadowy figure chants in a deep, echoing voice about eating her, and yells at her to quit her screaming. While Crow recites Bible verses to comfort herself, the figure begins sharpening a knife... and later begins poking at her and talking about eating her. Fortunately someone knocks on the door, leading him away, and Crow is able to escape. You can watch the scene in its entirety here.
  • COPS: One segment had a female police officer — alone save for the camera crew a few paces behind her — almost disappearing into the darkness of a very poorly lit group of buildings. A more recent (June 2016) segment had a woman complaining about invisible people moving around in her car and unseen children playing in her backyard (the police concluded she was having hallucinations due to poor nutrition,). No wonder the creator of Breaking Bad thought it'd be a good series for a crossover with The X-Files!
  • On OLN there was a show called Creepy Canada which ran from 2002 to 2006 and profiled three urban legends per episode. A lot of the time, the special effects were as low budget as all hell, but holy epic shit, was it ever terrifying at times. The story of the headless nun tells the story of Sister Marie Inconnue, who got her head lopped off by a madman back in the eighteenth century. The episode then goes on to depict her headless, bloodied ghost popping up when the viewer least expects it and asking unwary people to help her find her head. The appearance of the ghost is pretty terrifying on its own, being the body of a nun wearing a bloody uniform and with a bloody stump where her head should be.Oh and one more thing: they never did find the poor woman's head. Sweet dreams.
  • Deadliest Warrior. Yes, this show doesn't seem scary, but some of the descriptions (e.g. the Viet Cong's shit-covered spikes and the Nazi's flamethrower having tar to stick to the victims) are regular Nightmare Fuel...but where it really gets scary is telling how Vlad the Impaler impaled his victims...: "It's a 9-foot pole going through someone's rectum all the way out through their clavicle." And the victims were alive.
    • Not on the show proper, but some extra scenes filmed for the show and posted online. For Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot, we get to see a demonstration of electric torture and acid bath on pig carcasses. And for Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernan Cortes, we get a demonstration of garroting and drawn and quartering.
    • The episode Saddam Hussein vs. Pol Pot is terrifying when you listen to the stories of Sabah Khodada (a former Iraqi general) and Kilong Ung (a Cambodian Genocide survivor), and imagine what it was like for them.
  • Delete: Every piece of technology connected with the internet can be hacked and turned against you. Police can be told you're a terrorist and sent after you, missiles hijacked, etc. The only apparent way to stop this is destroying modern technology completely.
  • Delocated: Kinda silly, but Sergei, the Russian assassin, sending a tape to Jon which shows his brother's dead body, and then drinking Jon's mom's ashes? Watch the episode, it's genuinely frightening.
  • The skinwalkers and the lycanthropes in The Dresden Files. Skinwalkers are a Nightmare Fuel concept in and of themselves with a nice side of Paranoia Fuel, but it's one thing to read about them and another thing to see a graphic portrayal.
  • The E! Channel's special Doomed To Die: 13 Most Shocking Hollywood Curses mentioned some particularly disturbing "curses" related to Hollywood. One worth mentioning is the curse of the Atuk script. Based on a novel by Mordecai Richler, Atuk is the story of a fat Inuit man trying to make it in the big city. The first victim of this cursed script was John Belushi who the creator had in mind to play the title role; he was preparing for the part when he died of a drug-overdose at the age of 33. The second victim was Sam Kinison- who nearly got around to making it but then freaked out and pulled out of doing it, he later died in a fiery car crash. Third victim was John Candy, who was in the process of reading the script when he died of a heart attack, and the last victim was Chris Farley who died of a drug overdose at the age of 33 much like his hero John Belushi- he wanted Phil Hartman to be his co-star, Phil Hartman later got shot by his own wife.
    • Two other "cursed" Hollywood projects had almost the exact same events happen-a film adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces and a biopic of silent film comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Both projects had John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley all chosen to star as the lead until all three Died During Production. It doesn't help in A Confederacy of Dunces's case, the novel it was based on was published years after its author committed suicide... or that when a Will Ferrell-helmed adaptation seemed to be getting off the ground, the film's setting —New Orleans— was trashed by Hurricane Katrina...
    • And one of the items on the list was the curse of musicians dying at the age of 27. (Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, etc.) The segment ends with one of the interviewees mentioning how Amy Winehouse is only a couple of years away from turning 27, and how she should turn her behavior around to avoid the curse. Two years after the special aired, Amy Winehouse did indeed fall victim to the curse, dying at the age of 27.
  • FlashForward (2009). Every person on the planet loses consciousness at the same time. Just thinking about all the car accidents, let alone all the other accidents... millions of people dead, for sure.
    • Passing out and drowning in a urinal thanks to the flashes.
  • The A&E docuseries Gangland, which now airs in reruns on Spike TV, profiled just about every notable gang operating in the United States. It's rather informative, but turns rather unpleasant when it shows photographic evidence of the gangs' extreme violence. The way it does that is by showing actual autopsy and crime scene photos where the only thing that gets blurred is the victims' faces (or most of them — enough to where they remain anonymous). The crime scenes themselves can be rather gruesome and difficult viewing if one is sensitive to the sight of blood, as there's always copious amounts of blood they show (which also proves that what you're looking at is where someone died, because no one could survive that much blood loss). One episode which dealt with the outlaw motorcycle gang the Bandidos showed the handiwork of ex-Bandido Richard Merla, who stabbed a boxer to death. The boxer's autopsy photos are shown and you can see just how deep and massive those gashes are. Those photos are rather difficult to forget.
  • Ghost Writer had some pretty heavy situations, but by far the worst was the purple puppet named Gooey Gus. The thing would appear in random places for no reason, and the story one of the characters was writing for a contest sponsored by the toy's creators turned into a series of extended nightmare sequences, including one where his sister is suffocating under a coating of gum (which the toy itself could produce). It didn't help that the puppet looked like Ivan Ooze in biker gear.
  • Gladiators (and its various incarnations) wasn't a frightening show, as such… except the bits where people got hurt. And while people getting hurt on a show like that is naturally expected, we're not talking sprained muscles or twisted ankles: Panther falling off the Tilt and landing on her head, Blade reportedly broke her back on Hang Tough, Jet landing badly on Pyramid and trapping nerves in her neck… the list goes on.
  • There was an ad shown on The Gruen Transfer for a French Pay TV crime channel, which showed a puppet alligator walking through a forest, ripping to shreds every creature he encountered and leaving guts and eyes behind him (The point was that that's how they would make a kid's show, should they ever want to.) Many were Squicked, many more amused.
  • Harper's Island: The initial plot premise is bad enough, with a serial killer's supposed copycat showing up seven years after the initial killings. Then you get to the finale only to find out it's all because the main character's best friend, Henry, is trying to hold her to a promise she made when they were kids that they'd live on the island by themselves, and trying to do it by killing everyone else on the island off, one by one.
    • Oh, and the original serial killer that was supposedly shot and killed by the sheriff? Still alive.
  • Animal Planet's show The Haunted can get downright creepy at times. One of the creepier episodes involved a family of four moving into an old home that was a couple centuries old. When they moved in, there was a note welcoming the family into the home. Included in the note was something along the lines of "if you hear strange noises, that is just the essences of those who passed away welcoming you." These "essences" turned out to be a malignant entity, possibly a demon, that named itself after the deceased sister of the home's original owner. Once paranormal experts were called in, cue an entire twenty minutes of pure Oh, Crap! footage: growling, turning lights on and off, creating a suffocating atmosphere that nearly caused several people to pass out, and finally possessing one of the paranormal experts and driving him to tears before finally departing.
    • Animal Planet has another show called Lost Tapes, which is about people being attacked by cryptids. All of them manage to be scary, but the episodes about vampires, the Jersy Devil and Wendigo really take the cake.
    • Infested. Imagine finally getting the house you always wanted at first the house appears clean, organized and it seems like the perfect house but soon you discover that your house is infested with tons of pests that not just harm the house but also you and your family! What's scary is that sometimes the pesticides don't work which is terrifying when you think about it.
  • Hoarders. Those who are a little messy can be disturbed at how easily it can get to Collyer brothers-level clutter. How it happens: Say you have a favorite toy, one that you can't throw out but its value is purely sentimental, or you grew up in a deprived/poor environment and you had to save clothes and other objects to extend their use. Now, imagine if that sentiment extended to everything in your house, including food; add that obsessive-compulsive feeling that if you ever do throw something out something bad will happen and you're stuck in a firetrap of your own making. Hoarders also uses a lot of Soundtrack Dissonance, Heartbeat Soundtrack, and white-on-black typewriter font to give everything that Room Full of Crazy effect.
    • There was a woman on the show whose daughter started talking about how, among other incredibly disturbing things, one day she took the top off the butter dish to find a dead, dehydrated squirrel where the butter should be.
  • In the Mini Series "In a Child's Name" (Based on a True Story), a man murders his wife. The suspicious cops spray his apparently pristine bedroom with luminol. When the lights are turned out, we see that every single area of the room is covered with blood. Aside from wondering what horrible things he did to her, what kind of a psycho is able to clean that up to the extent that one would never guess what happened there? The scare chords that play throughout really don't help.
  • In the HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk, Demi Moore's attempts to get an abortion in the pre-Roe vs. Wade 1950's. Two Nightmare Fuel moments were when she tries to induce an abortion using a knitting needle, and the ending after she has gotten an illegal abortion. She is on the phone trying to call an ambulance while she slowly loses consciousness and collapses into a pool of blood.
  • In Search of... was a documentary series that had a combination of a spooky music score and Leonard Nimoy's narration of supposedly "real" paranormal ideas guaranteed to induce nightmares.
  • National Geographic's Inside North Korea. Everything from the poor living conditions to the sheer magnitude of brainwashing and fear (the patients had no choice but to thank Kim Jong-Il, NOT the doctors, for the operation) will make your blood run cold.
  • The Discovery Channel used to have a show called I Shouldn't Be Alive, which of course was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. People recounted real-life instances of being marooned in the wild and nearly dying, with actors reenacting the horror. Nearly being eaten alive (whether by crocodiles, sharks, hyenas, or driver ants), extreme sunburn, hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration, you name the Body Horror, this show had it. Making it worse were the Squicky x-ray views of how the above conditions were crippling the body from the inside and nearly killing the protagonists slowly.
    • The most horrific episode featured some friends stuck in a dinghy after their yacht sank in a storm. One of them got a huge gash on her leg, and the dinghy partially filled with water. Pus and blood from her wounds polluted the water, as well as the group's waste (they were being followed by sharks), so they all started becoming painfully infected, covered with bloody sores. They had no water, and eventually two of them started drinking seawater, which can turn you crazy. Sure enough, they soon started gibbering and howling like lunatics (with a warped Through the Eyes of Madness depiction), and eventually just walked off into the shark-infested water (one said he "just wanted to make a run to the 7-11"). Then the really injured one finally succumbed (one of the survivors said the night before, she started speaking in tongues), leaving just two left out of five. By the time they were finally rescued, the survivors were covered in horrible bleeding sores and scabs. They had drifted over a 100 miles out to sea, but for some reason had been reported arriving safe into port before the storm, so the Coast Guard was never alerted.
  • Jam. A healthy dose of wrong along with much Black Comedy.
  • Noseybonk from the BBC kids' tv show Jigsaw. There's been no official word on whether Jigsaw from the Saw franchise is based on Noseybonk, but they have more than a passing resemblance. Stuart Ashen plays on this creepiness in his own Noseybonk videos.
  • The History Channel documentary "Last Days on Earth", detailing the eight most likely ways for civilization as we know it to be completely destroyed, in increasing order of likeliness.
  • The Look Around You pilot has "The Helvetica Scenario," caused when the structure of a calcium molecule collapses and causes a man's face to vanish, with the faceless man banging on a window apparently begging for help from a researcher who's passively taking notes, all while a horrific screeching sound plays.
  • Once upon a time in The '80s, there was this Chilean Soap Opera named "Los Titeres" (The puppets). It had a freaking creepy opening sequence, which terrified thousands of then-kids and is still very disturbing for Chileans in their thirties.
  • The Discovery Channel mini-series Miracle Planet features a detailed CGI "simulation" of a massive 300 mile wide asteroid impacting the present-day Earth, which directly results in the entire planet's surface being covered in "Rock Vapor" (which, in layman's terms, is essentially a literal cloud of magma) as hot as the sun itself! Which, in turn, causes the total evaporation of all water on the planet's surface, the death of all plant and animal life-forms, every man-made monument ever built being burned to ashes, and the planet's surface being reduced to a lifeless wasteland, the only possible survivors being some strains of bacteria (emphasis on possible). It is actually believed that such an event occurred at least six times during the early Precambrian era, which would ultimately have a major impact on the planet's internal composition.
  • A show originally from the 80's called Monsters. One episode has a Stretch Armstrong finger that comes out of the drain and at the very end after the guy cuts off the finger, a four-fingered stretchy hand comes out of the toilet. At first it doesn't seem like much, but then when you start thinking about what that stretchy arm is attached to...
  • The original animated opening sequence to PBS' Mystery! by Edward Gorey.
  • Mystery Diagnosis: Imagine having one of the bizarre diseases that show up on House, only you've been suffering from it for decades.
  • The stinger NBC News uses to open its special reports. Not just the deep sounding "NBC" jingle played on piano, but the tense string and brass music that follows is enough to make anybody think "something bad has just happened".
  • Night Visions, a horror anthology with two different stories each episode. Two chances to be scared. The one thing that terrified me the most was the one about a radio DJ who, for Halloween, lets listeners call in to tell a scary story on the air. The first caller's story is basically Gorn, so the DJ calls him "disgusting" and shuts him off. As the night goes on, he starts getting more calls, this time from a young woman who claims several things: people are in her house, there's blood in the carpet and she doesn't know how it got there, her roommate is missing...and then the next call has the woman screaming that she found her roommate's body in the closet. Shaken, the DJ disconnects her and plays some music, but the electricity starts acting up. The door bursts open later, revealing a large man with wide-open eyes, screaming in a woman's voice "YOU DIDN'T LISTEN TO MY STORYYY!" In the end we see a couple in their car, listening to the show, as the DJ tells a scary story of his own, about a killer. The DJ, however, has to sign off because it's getting late. The couple sighs that they wish they could hear the ending... And it is revealed the intruder has imitated the DJ's voice, tied up the real DJ, and is going to kill him. Eventually. Even after that story is over, the host wraps up by staring at the audience and saying "For all you pains-in-the-asses out there, remember—you can only irritate so many people before you piss off the wrong one...."
    • Another episode stars Luke Perry. He plays a guy who cures people of mental instability by absorbing their afflictions into himself. Or something, the show was vague on that. His friend warns him that he's going to get hurt, but he thinks it's worth the sacrifice. Then he deals with a small boy who keeps staring at nothing and going "Now he's coming up the walk, now he's coming in the door, now he's coming up the stairs, now he's coming up the walk..." etc. Perry's character absorbs the boy's hurts, and the boy runs to his mother. Perry starts taking anti-psychotic meds when the boy goes "Now he's coming up the walk!" And...there's actually someone, unseen, coming up the walk. "Now he's coming in the door!" Someone comes in the front door. "Now he's coming up the stairs!" A heavy tread is heard on the steps. Cut back to the room, where the boy is holding his mother, and both are watching Perry staring at nothing, muttering "Now he's coming up the walk, now he's coming in the door..."
    • "Switch" starring Natasha Wagner as a 22 year old woman named Sydney with multiple personalities from repressed childhood trauma. Her psychiatrist, played by Pam Grier, would guide her through tasks to complete within her own mind, that would free her of what lay within. As one personality by one became reintegrated into Sydney's psyche, she'd get ever closer to finding the root of her mental illness. Her final personality was that of a psychopathic teenage girl who reminded Sydney of everything that happened in the past. That event? She shot her mother dead at ten years old, taking an extreme amount of pleasure in the memory, and pinned the crime on her father. The carnations coming down from a showerhead above the two of them turn into a downpour of blood. Said teenage girl admits she was the original personality all along, and created Sydney instead of the other way around. Cue shocked face and screaming.
  • The Australian miniseries version of On the Beach had a particularly grim ending. Not only does the entire population of Earth die, but the final moments are dedicated to scenes showing how each of the main characters are killing themselves, including a family of a couple and kids who proceed to inject themselves with cyanide syringes before all falling into eternal sleep on their bed. There's no gore involved at all, but emotionally it's just devastating.
  • The horror in Poltergeist: The Legacy has an unfortunate tendancy to end up in Narm territory. But there is one episode featuring a cursed Cabbage Patch-like doll turning its head and telling a little girl not to talk in a demonic voice that's pretty freaky stuff.
  • The Supernatural Soap Opera Spin-Off of General Hospital, Port Charles, started out harmless enough. Then along came the Tainted Love story arc that introduced Caleb, a malevolent vampire who turned Jack into a creature of the night. Jack's struggle to protect his girlfriend Livvie from both Caleb's relentless pursuit and acts of seduction and brainwashing, as well as protect her and everyone else he loved from himself and his new unnatural and dangerous desires, tortured him to the soul.
    • At the same time, Ian and Eve faced parental concerns as soon-to-be parents who learned that Caleb was targeting their unborn son to sire and raise alongside his newly sired bride, and that there was virtually nothing they could do to protect their child from this incredibly powerful evil being.
  • The Pretend Time episode "I Just Got Voodoo'd" has a man getting cursed with voodoo and crying spiders. It's supposed to be funny, yes, but this will be jarring to the arachnophobic audience.
  • The Rovers from The Prisoner (1967). Imagine, if you will, a large, white, bouncing balloon, that constantly emits a low, quavering whistle, and which roars mouthlessly as it attacks, lunging at its target and pressing against his face. Imagine seeing the impression of said face from inside the Rover. Now imagine seeing this at night. As a child.
    • Add in the fact that the remains of anyone who is "captured" by Rover are never seen again...
    • In the first episode, "Arrival", Number 6 is captured by Rover but survives. Presumably most escaping prisoners are captured alive as well. The only character ever actually killed by Rover was Number Six's duplicate in "The Schizoid Man".
    • Additionally, a recurring theme in the Prisoner is that there are no constant characters at all (except for No. Six, the protagonist, and No. Two's midget butler, for some reason), so you rarely saw characters for more than one episode.
  • This episode of Punky Brewster called "Perils of Punky". A Halloween Episode with Body Horror was completely out of left field for a kids' show.
  • Reading Rainbow would occasionally feature books dealing with topics that scared kids, like a house fire (A Chair for my Mother) or death (Everett Anderson's Goodbye).
  • Recorded Live: a thing by S. S. Wilson was used as filler material on HBO in the late 70s and early 80s. In it, a man goes to a job interview at a film lab and finds something... horrifying... S. S. Wilson would later bring us the Tremors films.
  • The season two episode of Rome which featured two extensive torture scenes gross beyond words. The worst part was the first victim's pleading, and his young age. There is also a season one episode where a man is tortured by being flayed alive, though it mostly happens off-screen and only his screams of agony can be heard.
  • One episode of Scariest Places On Earth featured a videotape found in the catacombs of Paris, purportedly filmed by an amateur explorer who got lost; the tape ends with him running in a panic and dropping his camera, which keeps rolling after he leaves the shot until it runs out of tape. A filmmaker takes the crew down to find out where the man went, venturing through six miles (out of about 400) of dank, dark, wet tunnels. They emphasize the true danger of what they're doing by, at one point, turning off their lights and asking you to imagine if it were their batteries dying. At a point where they try to get out, the manhole is stuck shut and they find themselves having to backtrack through the tunnels again...but that's when they come across some of the caves seen in the videotape, as well as specific bone fragments and formations that were filmed. Of course there was no way they could find the man, but after twelve hours in one of the most frightening places in existence, they were just happy to be alive when they finally got out. This episode may be a potential inspiration for the film As Above, So Below.
  • SeaQuest DSV: Episode "Knight of Shadows". When Bridger and the command crew are watching a film of the passengers and crew of a long-sunken ship they just found at the bottom of the ocean. He stops the projector because of a sense of foreboding and after the meeting ends wnen everybody leaves the room, the image from the frozen, single frame TURNS AND LOOKS AT HIM - GLARING! The ghost inhabited the image on the wall and was threatening him.
  • That Latin American priest wasn't the only one terrifed when Puddy on Seinfeld painted his face to "support the team" the New Jersey Devils and did this.
  • In the Shining Time Station episode: Mr. Conductor Gets Left Out, the kids have terrifying zombie eyes from watching too much TV, which horrifies Stacy Jones. Once she unplugs the TV set, they return to normal.
    Stacy Jones: (gasps when she sees the kids with zombie eyes) HOLY COUCH POTATOES! That's it, no more TV for you! (unplugs the TV set)
  • Even children's Edutainment shows aren't safe, as Ratafak Plachta from Slniečko shows. A life sized puppet that requires two humans to puppeteer, with a long neck, balding hair, buck teeth and Animesque eyes, he induces terror in your guts. A bit of Values Dissonance is in play here - the show is from 90s Czechoslovakia, and even though Western audiences were creeped out, Czech and Slovak children adored him. note  He also may or may not have been at least partially responsible for the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia and the division of the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
  • The Sonny with a Chance episode "Sonny With a Secret", has two fairly freaky things. The first is when you discover Penelope's plot: to have Sonny light up the cheese cannon at her former high school with the bomb she was given by her, which could kill her. The second was when Chad, Nico, Zora and Grady are in the plane, and Penelope opens the door and escapes with both parachutes in hand, leaving the four on a plane with its hatch open in the darkness while wind is blowing outside.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand: Since it's about gladiators, of course we get some decapitations, dismemberings, slashed throats and whatnot. That's all par for the course. But when the writers decide they want to shock their hard-to-shock audience, they raise to the challenge.
    • The episode "The Thing In The Pit" features a gladiator who cuts of the faces of his victims (onscreen) and wears them as masks for the next match.
    • The episode "Mark of The Brotherhood" features a slave who does something that's very frowned upon, and so is emasculated (the results shown onscreen) and crucified as a punishment.
  • The episode of Spooks with the disaster simulation, where the characters are walled up together in their office becoming less and less certain that there hasn't actually been a major nerve-gas attack on central London; intellectually, one knows the writers aren't going to wipe out the entire country halfway through the season, but watching the characters start to go off the deep end, one by one, had me climbing the fucking walls.
    • And we cannot forget the death of the character played by Lisa Faulkner, which was one of the most brutal murders on TV for a reason. Tortured with a deep-fat fryer (for Americans, think Antoine's death, first by having her hand stuck inside and then her head...
  • Square One TV:
    • Mr. Glitch was an anthropomorphic tornado who would eat Mathman if he got a question wrong, and once, even when Mathman got it right. And once for absolutely no reason at all! That time, he filled the whole screen.
    • There were occasions when the roles were reversed and Mr. Glitch got to run the maze. In the end, after his (inevitable) failure, Mathman ate him ''one bite at a time.'' Other times, when Glitch was in the maze, it was Mathdog who would eat him.
    • The "Ghost of a Chance" video. The whole concept of a pizza delivery boy getting trapped in a haunted house forever, unless he gets very lucky making a series of random guesses (to teach probability), is nightmarish enough, but then you have real footage of thousands of worms crawling over each other and an endless hallway with "EXIT?" signs over an endless number of doors. He picks the wrong one.
  • Stephen Fry, on Stephen Fry In America, was one of the lucky people who got to visit and film in the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee. Not only did his tour guide remark that she can now guess what a person's skull looks like under their face (no, her name isn't Temperance or Angela), but according to Fry this is also the first time he's ever seen a dead body.
  • The show I Survived which aired from 2008—2014 is similar to I Shouldn't Be Alive in that it is about harrowing stories of survival, but whereas "Alive" covered only animal attacks, this show encompassed crime, accidents, and natural disasters as well. While the format was typically of two or three people telling separate stories, special one-topic episodes were constructed about 9/11 (for the 10th anniversary), Hurricane Sandy, and the Norway massacre (which was set to air on 12/16/12 but had to be yanked when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred two days prior). Every episode was chock full of this trope, particularly due to the prevalence of Rape as Drama—fully 2/3 of women's stories featured them being sexually assaulted.
  • Survivor: The cameramen seem to have a fetish for spiders in some seasons, but the one that mainly qualifies for this trope is the scene in Tocantins with a close up shot of a ball of spiders reacting to thunder.
  • Taina was a very tame, funny, and harmless show about a girl named Taina doing funny things and having fun with her friends and nothing scary in it all...but then out of nowhere comes a Halloween episode "Scary Legend"! The music teacher tells the kids about the accordion player who was on his way to the concert when he dropped his accordion he bend down to pick it up when someone runs him over chopping off his head making him the headless player! The story sounds pretty graphic for a kids show! And the accordion music that plays in the school sounds creepy and out of tune even when the music stops all of a sudden, making it eerier. But the scariest moment is when the headless player is on top of the stairs above the girls! Thankfully, it was just a prank but still I bet kids had trouble sleeping after this!
  • Top Chef had a Season 20 World All-Stars episode in which cheftestant Victoire was experiencing anaphylaxis in real time due to working with walnuts which she was allergic to. It started as constant sneezing before her voice changed octaves. Then her breathing became irregular. And she was unable to convey this to her teammates due to a language barrier. (Born in the Congo, resided in Italy, she learned English only four months prior to the competition.) It was only after the challenge was completed that doctors rushed to administer an epipen.
  • Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps gives us a Halloween special unlike any sitcom ever, thanks to movie-level special effects, including gallons of blood and gore, and genuine scares instead of laughs.
  • There's the speetle from Unnatural History. It has very acidic spit which it used to get out of a jam jar and a fridge.
  • The Science Channel's The Unexplained Files contains many fascinating yet horrifying stories. For just one example, a supposed curse of a frozen corpse of an ancient human, who for everyone who came across it, recording or otherwise, later seemed to die prematurely from unrelated causes...
  • If you're a young kid watching Weinerville, seeing people go through the Weinerizer can keep you up at night, with the prop shrinking as it "shrank" its contestants. Doesn't help that the show cuts to commercial in the middle of it.
  • World's Most Amazing Videos was a show, first broadcast on NBC and later on Spike TV, that featured recording of various extraordinary events captured on camera, sort of like a dramatic version of America's Funniest Home Videos. A few of these clips could be rather unsettling, particularly those involving severe injury. However, the absolute crowner is the segment focusing on the Ramstein air show disaster, especially since they show the actual amateur footage from the disaster nearly uncensored, fully averting the show's usual rules about how Nobody Can Die in the featured segments.
  • World War III is a Speculative Documentary produced by the German network ZDF and TLC depicting what might have happened if Mikhail Gorbachev, instead of bringing about the collapse of the USSR with his reform policies, had been deposed in a coup and replaced by a communist hard-liner, causing the Cold War to escalate into a full-blown conflict. Not only is this premise horrifying in itself, but the documentary features a particularly grim ending where the entire population of Earth dies in a massive nuclear exchange. The final moments are horrific in their simplicity and finality. Nuclear missiles lift off and fly across the globe through gorgeous open sky, all set to eerily beautiful music, accompanied by the Wham Line, "There is no further historical record of what happens next."