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Nightmare Fuel / Mr. Robot

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Mr. Robot is a show built on subtlety. However, when it isn't smothering you with weapons-grade paranoia fuel, it is bludgeoning you with truly horrifying moments.


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    In General 
  • The Personal Horror that is Elliot Alderson's mental illness. He is haunted by an alternate personality named Mr. Robot whom he devised as a youth to cope with the death of his father, Edward. As such, Mr. Robot appears more or less exactly like Edward, but frequently torments Elliot and takes over as the dominant personality for sinister purposes. Because of these personality shifts, Elliot is often unaware of certain actions that he may or may have not done while in the backseat, including murdering another person. It has also been shown that Elliot can be aware of when Mr. Robot is taking control, and can only watch as his consciousness is shoved away into the proverbial closet of his mind. This can last from a few seconds to a few days, and Elliot almost always has to reap the consequences of whatever took place in those time intervals despite him being technically innocent and having no involvement in the matters at hand. Mr. Robot is a literal Mind Virus; one that cannot be truly eliminated without Elliot ceasing to be, which nearly ends up being the case by season three.
  • The Dark Army themselves. They are heavily implied to be The Illuminati, with immense political power, funds, and a millenarian following that act as sleeper agents within almost every government around the world. Not only do they have a seemingly limitless reach, they are also murderous psychopaths dedicated to preserving the sanctity of their cause, and possess a philosophy bordering on Insane Troll Logic when it comes to their undertakings. Their reputation in the setting cultivates fear to the point that just mentioning their name fills others with superstitious dread.
  • The frankly neurotic and tenebristic manner that the show itself is shot in, known as quadrant framing. While ultimately intended as a means to provide Paranoia Fuel through jilted, claustrophobic shots and voyeuristic long takes, the show's use of quadrant framing also enforces a sense of isolation and fear of the unknown, with characters tucked away in the corners of whatever shots that they are occupying, and by extension denying the audience a candid perspective of the situations that they are in. This ends up turning ordinary scenes such as someone trying to leave an office building, opening a car trunk, opening a door, or hiding behind a counter into heart-racing, terrifying ordeals, and more overt displays of violence and malice into straight-up horror shows with the Gory Discretion Shot being both insidiously played straight and then averted with prejudice.

    season 1. 0 
  • Elliot's "Fuck Society" rant in "eps1.0_hellofriend.mov" gives us our first taste of just how incredibly unstable he is. Up to this point, he has been mostly quiet and unassuming if a little bit odd, but we are soon treated to a seething, crazed indictment of civilization and how much of a disgusting sham it is. What makes this scene so disturbing is his unbridled enthusiasm and the later reveal that the entire rant was a daydream.
  • Elliot's Dissociative Identity Disorder isn't scary by itself, as it's simply a complex coping method for childhood abuse. Symptoms like losing time and the overall feeling of something unknown could be scary to the people experiencing the disorder. Thankfully the season 3 finale has shown that Mr. Robot and Elliot plan to work together rather than in season 2 where they were trying to destroy one another.
  • Elliot's withdrawal hallucination in the fourth episode.
  • Tyrell follows the wife of his business rival, Scott Knowles, into her bathroom, calmly walks in while she urinates, and silently looms over her in an act of sexual dominance. After a few charged moments, she yields and changes her posture to expose herself to him. He declines her unspoken offer, thanks her for the evening, and leaves.
  • Elliot finding Shayla's body in the trunk of the car. His inner narration completely cuts out, leaving only uncharacteristic silence while the camera follows him for a while instead of showing what he found. It takes almost a minute before we're shown the blood, dashing all hope that she's just unconscious.
    • Then the horrible realization that slowly dawns on not only us, but must be on Elliot that all of his actions have been for nothing and that he has endangered who knows how many lives by releasing the absolute worst of society. That laugh Vera had after Elliot told him how he was going to break him out suddenly takes a much darker meaning.
  • Tyrell and Scott's wife from the above example meet on the roof of an office building while Scott is celebrating his promotion to CTO at E Corp, the job Tyrell has been shooting for. After a brief talk, Tyrell initiates a passionate make-out session, and they both fall to the floor while romantic music kicks on. Then he slowly strangles her to death while the music continues.
  • Elliot's Unreliable Narrator status gets taken Up to Eleven in the eighth episode, where he finds out that Mr. Robot is his father, Darlene is his sister, and he may have erased his own memories in the same CD-burning fashion he's dealt with everyday hacking jobs. We can't trust anything he sees, hears, or says anymore. Gets worse in the following episode, when we learn that Mr. Robot isn't even real and Elliot's father is deceased. Every time Mr. Robot roughed Elliot up, including tossing him from a pier in the second episode, was Elliot doing it to himself.
  • Near the end of the ninth episode, Tyrell comes to visit Elliot, knowing that he is responsible for the hacking and desiring to be let into the loop. When Elliot initially proves uncooperative, Tyrell puts on rubber gloves and quietly talks about how he felt while strangling Sarah Knowles.
  • Most of the first season finale is composed of this:
    • The effects of Elliot and Tyrell's successful hack. It almost feels like the apocalypse, something that is commented on by several people.
    • Elliot waking up in Tyrell's SUV, apparently having parked and slept there for two days, with no memory of where Tyrell is or what they did together. Elliot has a strong suspicion that he may have murdered Tyrell. This is never cleared up within the episode.
    • An E Corp executive loudly denouncing any hope of fixing the system after the hack, and promptly shooting himself on live television. This is not done with a Gory Discretion Shot or an invocation of Pretty Little Headshots.
      • This is actually a reference to the Real Life televised suicide of Robert "Budd" Dwyer, right down to the executive demanding to be given his bag (containing the gun), mirroring Dwyer being handed a manila envelope containing the revolver he used to kill himself. Even his request that everyone "be calm" as he shoots himself in the mouth, the blood splatter on the window behind him and the blood running from his nose and mouth mirror the infamous Dwyer death tape.
    • The contents of a hidden flash drive Mr. Robot apparently left for Elliot: a looping Vimeo clip showing Elliot in the distance, repeatedly jumping from the pier in the second episode, with the title "Boardwalk Fail". The way it's shot makes Elliot look more like a shadow than a person.
    • Elliot tries to confront "Mr. Robot" in the middle of the fsociety tribute march, only to start hallucinating his mother and himself as a child alongside him. He closes his eyes to escape their words, and when he opens them, the city is completely empty. Then all three of them pop up on a skyscraper's broadcast screen and taunt him with the fact that they will never go away.

    season 2. 0 
  • The smart home hack in the season 2 premiere. Susan Jacobs is nearly scalded in the shower because the water pressure (and subsequently the temperature) is connected to a single, exploitable network.
    • In the same episode, Joanna Wellick engages in a pretty rough BDSM sex practice involving being sliced with a knife and slapped in the face repeatedly. Fetish Retardant is in full effect.
    • Mr. Robot (albeit a hallucination) shooting Elliot in the head at point blank range. This alone is a disturbing scene because of how realistic the effects are, but it becomes even creepier when Elliot sits back up, unfazed, with the bullet wound still plainly visible. He later "bleeds" over his journal while writing.
    • Elliot later hallucinates Mr. Robot slicing Gideon's throat with a knife.
      • This takes on an even darker light with Gideon's sudden death in the bar at the hands of a conspiracy theorist named "Brock". Doubles a Tear Jerker as Gideon has more or less lost everything at this point and now his life, too.
      • Reading the Red Wheelbarrow tie-in book reveals that Elliot was practically tortured by Mr. Robot during his time in prison. One instance has Elliot describing (in real-time no less) how Mr. Robot takes the pencil he is writing with and 'slices his fucking throat with it'.
  • In the second episode of the season, Robot threatens Elliot again. He turns away, and when he turns back, he's smiling. Then he's laughing.
  • Elliot overdosing on Adderall causes him to hallucinate that he has been kidnapped by The Men in Black and force-fed concrete. When he comes to he's vomiting violently. There is no Vomit Discretion Shot. And then, after realizing Mr. Robot made him hallucinate, he digs the pills out of the vomit and swallows them again.
    • Later in the same episode, he takes massive amounts of Adderall again and goes into a Freak Out! where he behaves erratically and spontaneously before suddenly crashing. Seeing him hyperactive and overly open is nightmarish enough, but after five days without sleeping, he hallucinates Leon talking backwards, a trio of creepy little girls in fsociety masks standing in his house, and a washing machine spinning behind his eyes.
  • Ray's home business turns out to be a Silk Road-esque black market on which drugs, weapons, and sex slaves are sold.
  • At the end of "Logic Bomb", Dom walks through the FBI building in China and talks to her colleague about the situation. Then, out of nowhere, unidentified men in balaclavas storm into the building and start gunning people down. We only see from Dom's perspective, curled up behind a desk as she tries to fend them off, leaving the rest of the chaos to our imaginations.
    • The men are revealed to be part of the Dark Army. Even worse, the scope of how far they will go to protect their organization. When Dom shoots one of them in the leg, he immediately turns his gun on himself. These guys are not afraid to kill... or die. Suddenly this hacker group feels more like a cult.
  • The start of "m4ster-sl4ve" is a dream sequence presented as a cheesy upbeat late '80s sitcom where Elliot and his family are driving down the road on a family vacation but there are moments where the "sitcom" becomes very dark like when Elliot's father starts coughing up blood (mirroring his lukemia), Elliot's mom physically abuses Darlene, it turns out Tyrell is kidnapped in the trunk, a police officer who looks like Gideon is run over by a car being driven by Alf and Elliot looks at Darlene's Game Boy and the rear view mirrors of the car and sees himself being beaten up by Ray's thugs. These moments are made far more disturbing by the upbeat tone they are presented in, especially with the laugh track laughing over it all.
    • Just everything about the sitcom parody. It's just so bizarre and a huge left-turn for the show that it loops around to being inherently creepy.
  • Ray's heart-worm monologue. It doesn't sound intimidating at all when you read it, but the context as well as Ray's evil-relishing delivery is quite terrifying.
  • The entirety of "Hidden Process" is a case of Nothing Is Scarier, as each scene slowly ramps up the tension, but the ending takes the cake. Dom finally closes in on Darlene and Cisco, and an unbroken steady shot shows her running into their restaurant from the outside, with all three quickly becoming visible in a window. As they argue about something unheard, a motorcycle drives up and a man with a gun jumps off, walking slowly toward the window. When he reaches it, he sprays it with bullets, and is suddenly shot by Dom, who stumbles out of the restaurant spattered in blood as the masked man proceeds to shoot himself, revealing himself to be a Dark Army agent. There is no indication of whether Darlene or Cisco survived or not, but there is an ominous blood spatter on the wall where Cisco was sitting. Damn.
    • Earlier the same episode, Elliot gets a call in a tech store on the phone Joanna gave him. It's the sound of Tyrell breathing heavily. And when it clicks off, Elliot turns around to find that Mr. Robot has disappeared. No explanation is given for this within the episode.
  • Near the start of "Python Part 1", Angela is abducted and brought to a black room with a desk, a leaking fish tank, and a little Emotionless Girl who starts asking her questions ranging from extremely personal to surreal. The room turns out to belong to Whiterose, who meets her after the questioning is done and claims that what she wants more than anything is Angela's belief. The entire sequence plays out like a slow, queasy David Lynch fever dream.
    • Just the entire situation Angela's in. She has been taken by two strangers who lock her in the back of a van to a house wherein we see family pictures with the faces covered in post-it notes. She is then led to a dark room with an aquarium where she is interrogated by a strange little girl and Whiterose. The whole thing is underscored by an eerie drone that illustrates just how unnatural and bewildering all of this is to Angela. Mind you, she does not even know why this is happening to her.
    • And at the end of the episode, Elliot follows a message decoded by Mr. Robot to a cab parked on the corner of the street. As arranged by the message, he gets in after a discussion with the driver. Then the other door opens. Tyrell nonchalantly climbs in and starts talking to Elliot like an old friend, leading Elliot to have a Freak Out! on the driver about whether Tyrell is really there.
  • In "Python Part 2", Elliot finally finds out what Phase 2 is. Over the last few months, Tyrell, the Dark Army and he (under the control of Mr. Robot) have been working on a plan to blow up the main E Corp building. This would destroy the paper records being held there and irreversibly ruin the company, at the cost of hundreds of lives and untold damage to the economy. He's unsurprisingly horrified by this and tries to stop it, only to find out at the worst possible moment that Tyrell was real all along when Tyrell shoots him in the stomach. The way he stumbles back in surprise, then looks down to see blood seeping out of his stomach and drenching his hands, then finally collapses to the floor is absolutely horrifying.
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    season 3. 0 
  • The third season premiere, "Power Saver Mode", has a long, fourth-wall-breaking monologue from Elliot, realizing that his attempted rebellion just made the world that much easier for the ones in power to pick over. This monologue is spliced in with footage of recent real-world political events, heavily implying that these were brought about because of Elliot. This at least drives him to become The Atoner, but it's one of the scarier moments in the show.
    • A deleted scene from the same episode shows Angela asleep on her living room couch, only to be woken up to the sound of Irving laughing at the television. Mind you, this is her first time meeting him. And it’s immediately followed by him informing her that Elliot has been shot and she has maybe a minute to pull herself together before she will be forced to calm Tyrell, the man who shot her childhood friendc down over the phone
    • Toward the end of the episode, Angela wakes Elliot up in her apartment. Mr. Robot is the one who slowly rises up and steps out of the darkness. This is the first time we've seen him actively take over without Elliot's POV, and it happens just when it looked like the gunshot erased him.
    • Angela's treatment of Elliot can count as this. Imagine being put through Domestic Abuse by someone you know and especially not knowing what they are doing to you whenever you blackout.
  • Krista meeting Mr. Robot for the first time. The scene in general is 'creepy as all hell', but Mr. Robot's behavior makes him seem like a predator stalking his next victim; he moves in a deliberately slow pattern around the room, getting a feel of everything in the environment. All this while Krista is slowly becoming more unnerved as Mr. Robot circles back around to her, clearly demonstrating that she cannot rely on her expertise nor her history with Elliot to appease him.
    • Not only is the whole scene dripping with tension, but it begins with Elliot and Mr. Robot speaking at the same time, giving off a mechanical, droning sound.
  • Elliot finding out about Angela and Tyrell working together. The knowledge of having someone who has been your friend/crush since childhood work with your enemies is pretty terrifying not to mention the fact that Angela calms down a freaked out Elliot by knocking him out with a syringe.
  • The protesters attacking the E Corp building is utterly terrifying, especially when rendered as The Oner.
  • In "Kill Process", Mr. Robot starts taking over Elliot while he's conscious, causing him to repeatedly lose time. As Elliot becomes aware of this, he tries fighting back, only for Mr. Robot to force him to repeatedly slam himself into the wall.
  • "Frederick+Tanya" might be the single-scariest episode yet. To wit: it's revealed what happened to Trenton and Mobley following S2's stinger. They're kidnapped by Leon, who just murdered their housemate; driven to the desert and made to bury said housemate; handed over to Dark Army goons who then proceed to brutally kill them both as they plead for their lives, setting the whole thing up as a joint-suicide in the face of an FBI raid.
  • "Shutdown" covers a lot of territory, much of it awesome or heartwarming, but there is a particularly nightmarish bit: Irving leading Dom and Santiago out to a field with an axe buried in a log, pretending he's about to kill Dom for almost two minutes, and then going full Patrick Bateman on Santiago. The way Irving hacks up his corpse while naming off members of Dom's family he might threaten, and continues to do so after she agrees to be The Mole, is incredibly unsettling coming from someone who's been a smooth-talking Affably Evil guy for the whole season.

    season 4. 0 
  • The first teaser image for the season: an fsociety mask illustrated in blood on a snow-covered ground.
  • While the "How Many People Have You Hurt?" trailer fired up the waterworks, the "Back To Work" trailer fired up pure adrenaline. Set to a haunting recitation of "Silent Night", we are shown clips of numerous body bags being zipped up among clamoring authorities and crowds, a cracked phone with fresh blood dripping down the screen, Vera shoving a bound and gagged man into a dingy bathroom before coldly shooting him to death, and worst of all, masked men storming someone's home, kidnapping a little boy, assaulting one of the home-owners, and preparing to shoot a little girl huddled in a corner. The whole tone of it is oppressingly dire.
    • The "A Showdown Between Elliot and Whiterose" trailer further compounds the stakes of the final season with even more clips of implied carnage, such as Whiterose descending a staircase being flanked by SWAT personnel as the camera pans to show the room below is absolutely littered with bloody corpses and Dominique watching as another body bag is being loaded into a coroner's van. All the while, an enraged Elliot declares that Whiterose has to pay for the malice she has wrought upon the world. The most horrifying part? If Elliot fails, everyone is going to die in one week.
      • Another creepy scene in the trailer is Whiterose looking almost directly into the camera, wearing a smile that suddenly cuts to a cold Kubrick Stare.
  • The "Are You Still A Friend?" trailer. Full stop. For the first time in the series, Mr. Robot himself is talking to us. The burning question is what kind of fresh hell would bring Mr. Robot to acknowledge us while Elliot is uncharacteristically silent?
    Mr. Robot: When that cold, brutal reality closes in on us, we're gonna need a friend.
  • The cold open of the season 4 premiere, "Unauthorized". It starts as a direct continuation of Angela and Price's conversation at the end of season 3, with Price telling Angela that Whiterose's project was a sham and that she should give up, and stop trying to oppose Whiterose. Angela refuses despite Price's begging and pleading, saying that Whiterose still deserves to face retribution... and then the doors of the mansion behind them open. Turns out Price was wearing a wire, and Whiterose was recording the entire conversation. Price walks away (taking off the wire in the process) as two Dark Army goons approach and shoot Angela in the head.
  • The reveal that Janice, the woman who was set up to be Dom's date by her mom, is actually a Dark Army agent who casually threatens to cut Dom's mom, "from mouth to cunt" right in front of her.
  • Vera's torture and kidnapping of Krista in "Not Acceptable". Especially the story about how he beat a bully with a bat and describing his victim's injury is quite disturbing. Plus his obsession towards Elliot is much more twisted and dark to the point he is willing to make him suffer.
    • The next episode is even worse as it reveals a shocking revelation: Elliot's father sexually molested him (and possibly Darlene) during his childhood and the reason why Mr. Robot was created was to protect Elliot from the abuse which also led to the window incident. The fact that Mr. Robot is modelled after said father makes it worse.
  • During the conversation between the two Elliots, an earthquake strikes and the alternate Elliot slips and severely injures himself. After the original Elliot answers a call from Angela, he hears his other self pleading for help on the floor, unable to move. Seeing an opportunity to have everything he ever wanted, the real Elliot suffocates his alternate self and later stuffs him into a box to be moved. As the camera pans away, Elliot delivers this lovely line:
    "Original" Elliot: I think you should look away, too.
    • There's also his desperate monologue/justification to us after the deed is done.
    Please, don't judge me. This was inevitable. You saw the earthquakes. Both of us can't exist here in this world. I had no other choice.
  • Turns out that the Elliot we've been following the entire series wasn't the real Elliot at all but rather another alternate personality known as "The Mastermind".

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