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Nightmare Fuel / Other Media

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For all the works that scare people that won't fit anywhere else.

This is not a real life section. Degree of fear varies greatly from person to person. Tropers are especially reminded to remember the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment here and keep all examples family-friendly and as neutral as possible. We really don't want to traumatize people or start any Edit Wars, so use some common sense.

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  • The infamous Blue Screen of Death. Particularly the unfortunate experience of seeing a BSOD that simply read, "Windows protection error. You need to restart your computer. System halted." No "Press any key to terminate the program, press CTRL+ ALT+ DEL to restart" stuff, just two lines telling you that your system has come to a complete stop.
    • The version of the BSOD used in versions of Windows based on Windows NT (this includes 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and all server versions prior to Windows Server 2012) is worse for two reasons: the fact that those versions' improved stability means it appears far less often than in Windows 9x/Me (whose BSOD could possibly just be merely annoying to people who have used those versions enough to see it oftennote ), generally only appearing during more severe errors, and the fact that it includes far more text, with said text containing information related to memory dumps and error messages that is bound to look bizarre to someone who doesn't know what to do with it.
    • The BSOD is quite scary, but Windows 98 and early beta version of Vista featured a Red Screen of Death!
    • Its early Macintosh's equivalent, the Sad Mac. If your system disk was corrupted, or if you hit the interrupt switch, instead of a smiling Macintosh icon on a warm gray background, you'd get one that looked as if it was dead from a stroke on a stark black background and a set of hex codes under the icon, followed by an eerie arpeggio chime nicknamed as "Chimes of Death". The LC variants used a softer and lower pitched version of the arpeggio, followed by three or four notes. The Power Macintosh and Performa 6200 and 6300 series, along with the Power Macintosh upgrade card, used a dramatic three-note brass fanfare in place of the arpeggio chime.
    • The sound which PowerBooks make to indicate a serious hardware fault is arguably the most unsettling error sound to come from an Apple device. If you attempt to turn on one of those, they'll do nothing - the screen will stay blank, not a single noise will come from the machine - that is, other than an extremely prolonged version of the arpeggio. If that wasn't frightening enough, what they're basically telling you is that their hardware has packed up for good - in other words, they're dead. Here's what it sounds like by the way. Sweet dreams...
    • The system crash screen on the early Macs, in which the screen froze up and an error message window appeared with a large Cartoon Bomb, caused more than a few skipped heartbeats in its day.
    • The NuBus-based Power Macintosh models (as well as earlier G3 Power Macintoshes) replaced the arpeggio chime with a car crash sound effect. It is also kind of loud. Anyone who would find it funny would stop laughing the moment they realized that $3,000 of hardware had a critical failure. Even more unnerving is if you somehow missed the screeching noise and only heard the crash part- which sounds like something in the machine exploded...
    • Kernel panics (like BSODs in Linux/BSD and other UNIX and UNIX-like systems) can be scary enough. Just imagine all your system going down with lots of cryptic error messages.
    • Regardless of how scary or not the BSOD (or other relevant error screen, depending on your OS) is, getting them frequently can become disconcerting, as it can be a sign that something is seriously wrong with your PC, such that it may be on its last legs and in need of replacing.
  • Turning on your PC, and then finding a blank screen while the PC Speaker is beeping out what sounds like morse code through the BIOS. This is an indicator of a memory, cache, expansion card (which includes the GPU) or processor error; with different numbers of beeps indicating what section in particular has failed. Some manufacturers have taken things up to the next level by replacing the beeps with the loud shrill noise of an air raid siren (notably, many high-end ASRock motherboards do this — impressive how they achieved doing this on the punitive PC beeper), a creepy voice speaking out the error in a creepy monotone (premium Asus motherboards are known to do this), or even play unnerving music (DFI actually had a range of boards that played Ludwig Van Beethoven's Für Elise if something on it failed, as demonstrated here). Nothing Is Scarier, indeed.
  • Avast Antivirus usually detects viruses on sight, however whenever that happens, a dialogue window pops up with a pulsing atomic symbol, a siren sound, and a male voice saying "Caution: A virus has been detected".
  • AVG used to show a picture of what appeared to be a man with his face warped to make him look like a troll (here is a link to a picture of an old alert if you want to see it for yourself) as part of its Virus Detected alert. The newer versions of AVG use far more subdued icons, thankfully.
  • There was a time when Kaspersky Antivirus would play the (loud) squeal of a pig whenever it found a virus, scaring the crap out of users every single time. You couldn't even turn that sound off, as the settings were locked with an undisclosed password. Some rogue antiviruses (such as Windows Police Pro) use this sound as well.
    • A similar, far louder sound, is heard by default in some mobile Kaspersky products, thankfully, it can be disabled this time in the Options menu, but it can still jumpscare unaware people.
  • Avira plays a very loud and rapid noise when it discovers a virus, scaring many.
  • Norton Antivirus 95 used to have a particularly horrifying failure mode if it detected a virus in memory. Your Windows shell would quit with no warning, you'd get a page or so of DOS and then the screen would go black and display a giant mechanical spider in the middle. After a few moments of staring at that nightmare, the screen would change over to the same spider in a cage, with the legend "Norton Antivirus has detected a virus and has shut your computer down to prevent further damage." or words to that effect. To make things worse, the screen going red during boot up with the same message in yellow followed immediately by the system freezing up. It effectively conveys the message that you have screwed up big time by somehow introducing a DOS virus to the hard disk, and that removing the virus is easier said than done.
  • DOS viruses are particularly terrifying. Not because of what they do to your computer (the vast majority are harmless), but because of the screens they bring up. Just look up "DOS virus" on YouTube, and prepared to be scared out of your mind. And imagine being an unsuspecting DOS user who opened it, not knowing what it was. However, catching one of the bad DOS ones — like Michelangelo or Jerusalem/Friday the 13th — is high octane nightmare fuel. Some of the viruses which are harmless to floppies can and have ended up destroying entire hard drives because they were too shoddily-programmed and expect every storage media to be the same as a floppy.
  • Some older Dell monitors make a faint beeping sound that repeats about every three seconds when powered off. Imagine shutting off your PC at night and getting ready for bed, but suddenly you hear 'BEEP'... 'BEEP' and can't find where the sound is coming from.
  • Apple iMacs are prone to scaring the life out of their users when it comes to unexplained crashes or hardlocks! Take for instance the 'three beeps', which blare from the speakers at full, unchangeable volume after a RAM fault. Not to mention intensely loud crashes that just happen spontaneously...
  • NightMare was one of the first "scareware" programs created. Made for Amiga computers, it would lay dormant for about five minutes when launched, then replace the screen for a split-second with a bloody skull while playing a loud scream note . Witness the terror for yourself. There are tonnes of these for Windows as well. This is why you should log out of your computer at the computer lab even if all you want to do is go get a drink in the hallway.
  • A lot of hardware in computers produce sounds when things aren't quite working as one expects. While some are as tame as the "click of death" on hard drives — which turns into Nightmare Fuel for tech-savvy people anyway, because they know exactly that clicking means — some things like computer fans will produce awful screeching sounds when they're about to go or power supplies will squeal when you start working them (Called coil whine... which is perfectly normal.). On the topic of power supplies, if you have bought a cheapo one in the past and it has died on you, you'd probably be seeing a therapist right now. Some cheapo power supplies actually die with a bang, some even catch fire after going out with a bang. And sometimes, this happens to the more expensive ones as well.
  • Rogue antivirus programs can be frightening, especially if you don't know they're malware.
    • One of the most infamous of these programs is WinFixer. Imagine, if you will, innocently browsing the internet when you get a dialogue box telling you that your computer is full of system errors that can have any number of adverse effects, offering to download and install a program to diagnose and fix these problems. Regardless of whether you accept or deny the offer (all the buttons on the dialogue box do the exact same thing, even the close button in the corner), a pop-up window will appear, WinFixer being downloaded onto your computer. It will then run and show that you have myriad viruses and registry errors playing havoc on your computer (most of which are false), but it can't actually remove them until you purchase the full version of the software. If you pay for it, it will do jack diddly, because WinFixer, itself, is the virus and has just stolen your credit card information. Removing it can be a real problem, as it will undo every attempt to delete it short of outright formatting your computer.
    • Another that is making the rounds is NavaShield. Unlike WinFixer, NavaShield doesn't force its way onto your computer: you need to go to their legitimate-looking website and download it, yourself. Once installed, it will give you an option to either purchase a software key, or take a seven-day trial, during which it will tell you your computer is protected. After seven days, it will begin to try to pester you into buying a software key with loud and annoying pop-up. After more time — which can be anywhere from a few days to a few years — this virus will start to deliver its payload by playing a looping laughing noise that cannot be silenced, and opening pop-ups to pornographic websites. It will even start to taunt you and cuss you out using your computer's text-to-speech voice synthesizer. This makes it appear as if your computer is infected with viruses that necessitate buying NavaShield, and to make matters worse, Task Manager is also disabled; so you can't even shut it down yourself. Finally, it will simulate your hard drive being forcibly formatted on a window that is always on top and continuously expanding. Much like WinFixer, getting this crap off your PC is a major hassle.
  • A family of viruses called ransomware. For example, one that has made its rounds in recent years is the "DOJ Virus". The virus locks up your computer, replacing the screen with one telling you that the Department of Justice (or another important agency, depending on the country) has blocked access to your computer on the grounds of having found child pornography or other such illegal material on it, and that the only way to unlock your computer and avoid prosecution is to pay a fine using a pre-paid card purchased from Walmart within a few days.
    • The DOJ is just one of them, there are ransomwares claiming to be from the police, Interpol, FBI or CIA with the same claim (and the virus is actually programmed to find out which state you are in and steal the appropriate logo). Alternatively, they would be purportedly from the RIAA or MPAA and claim to have found pirated movies or music on your hard drive.
    • Another type of ransomware which is fearful even to the computer-savvy (if it gets in) will actually encrypt whatever files it can, rendering them unusable. Then it provides an address to visit so you can pay money to decrypt the files if you pay them in time (don't do this; they're not likely to bother fixing it for one thing). Malware of this nature underscores why it is important to back-up valued files.
    • One ransomware virus that emerged in April 2017 is known as "Rensenware". Rather than demanding money, it instead offers to decrypt your files under one condition: play Touhou Seirensen ~ Undefined Fantastic Object and get a score of "0.2 billion" points on "Lunatic" difficulty. Trying to cheat or terminate the virus's process will result in the decryption key never being made, and your encrypted data will be lost. The worst part of this is that the virus was created as a joke and was never planned to actually be used, but somehow was still disseminated across the internet. The original creator made a program designed to cheat the virus and decrypt your data, since, despite the virus's warning, it can't detect if you're cheating; and even apologized. Nonetheless, he warns that there may be variants of the original Ransomware floating around the net that cannot be cheated.
    • One ransomware that has set itself apart from the rest is "WannaCrypt", which became notorious for its rapid propagation, spreading far and wide across the internet and even impacting hospitals and jeopardizing lives. It is so bad that Microsoft saw fit to release an emergency patch for Windows XP, an operating system that they stopped supporting in 2014, three years before WannaCrypt reared its ugly head!
    • Some ransomware viruses take it up a notch. You remember how, when webcams first became a thing, people used to laugh at those who covered their webcams thinking people could spy on them through the cameras? Well, certain ransomware viruses are perfectly capable of hijacking your webcam and snapping a picture of you going about your business, to plaster onto the FBI or whatever warning to make it seem more legitimate. Suddenly, covering one laptop's webcam with a bandage doesn't seem so crazy.
    • Another extremely horrifying type of ransomware involves overwriting the master boot record, which blocks the system from booting and trapping it on a BIOS screen!. One notable example is a Russian-language equivalent of the above-mentioned FBI Ransomware, in that it claims to have found illegal content (such as child/animal pornography or terroristic material) on your computer, but made creepier by the fact that if one isn't fluent in Russian and doesn't know what it is saying. Joel of Vinesauce and rogueamp both demonstrated it in the form of a fake porn video named "videoxxx.avi.exe", the former having used it in his Windows 8 Destruction video, but that's not even the only place you can get it from, as it was also once masquerading as a Microsoft PowerPoint file.
    • Perhaps the most extreme of MBR-overwriting ransomware is Petya, which attacked many computers in Ukraine in 2017. What's worse about Petya is that running it immediately crashes to a Blue Screen of Death, which, as mentioned above, is already nightmarish on its own, but there is disturbingly little text on it, instead saying "The transport determined that the remote system is down", which is already a bad sign. When the system reboots, a fake Chkdsk screen is displayed, followed by an ASCII art of a skull and crossbones over a red screen, mockingly telling you that all your files have been encrypted. To make things worse, some variants of Petya actually are not actually ransomware at all and just permanently encrypt your computer, seemingly without any intention of monetary gain.
  • Heartbleed bug. While the bug itself is pretty creepy as it makes user account vulnerable to hackers, what's even more horrifying is that the NSA confessed that they exploited it for years! As if the NSA weren't creepy enough already. note 
  • The "erng" sound in Windows 95 or 98 if a program crashes with an "illegal operation" dialog box.
    • Debatably worse is the memorable Critical Stop sound in Windows XP, being the only one that takes a darker tone than the other OS before and after it.
  • Windows 9x/ME, on much older (Pre-ATX) computers where the ACPI specification isn't a thing, the PC doesn't power off once Windows shuts down; the user has to manually hit the power button. Until then, a message in orange text on a lonely black background reading "It's now safe to turn off your computer." will stay on the screen. Someone forgetting to shut off their PC at night after shutting down will then be treated to an eerie orange glow coming from these lone words on their screen.
    • The screen is actually also present on Windows NT systems right up to the current Windows 10 version. Although the Windows NT/2000 versions of the screens were aversionsnote , Windows XP onwards returns to this trope, opting for a black screen with the Windows logo and the said message in white, and the only way to restart is to power-cycle the machine. The reason for this step back being Windows XP onwards was designed for an ACPI-enabled motherboard, and the only way for you to get this screen is if the ACPI driver had become corrupted or something bad has happened to the ACPI control circuit on the motherboard (or if you had somehow gotten said versions of Windows running on older pre-ACPI hardware).
    • In versions of Windows based on DOS prior to 9X, usually it's the lone C:\> prompt on screen, which is also eerie, albeit for a different reason.
  • If Mozilla Firefox detects a reported attack site or phishing site, then it displays an extremely unnerving error screen with it being a blood red box over a dark gray background, with white text inside. Extremely jarring in contrast to its regular normal error screens, which is entirely white with black text. Example.
  • Like Mozilla Firefox, if Google Chrome detects the same site as above, it will display a bright red error screen which can be pretty startling.
  • Mobile apps that translate words in real-time through the phone's video camera. Not so bad if a bubble pops up with the translated text, but some creepily try to go the extra mile by trying to replace the actual words being captured, attempting to mimic the font, size, angle, and color scheme of the original. It always fails. The idea is so misguided, that if it were used in a movie to clue in the protagonist that they're in a simulator, it could make for some good horror.
  • Trojans are already scary enough, thanks to the fact that they are concealed within legitimate-looking programs, but one that's particularly nasty is known as "MEMz". Once it activates, it warns you that your computer has been infected and will rendered unusable if you shut it down or try to terminate its process. Over time, it delivers its payload, starting with popups before hijacking your cursor, flooding your speakers with error sounds, and finally creating a black hole-esque loop of screenshots of your desktop layered one on top of another. Worst of all, it makes good on its threat: once activated, it overwrites your computer's boot sector, so if your computer is rebooted, all you'll ever get is a looping image of Nyan Cat. And if you terminate its process, it floods the screen with taunting messages before blue-screening your computer. The one saving grace of MEMz is the fact that it is blatant about being malware, having been made specifically to be shown off on YouTube, and gives users a warning to not run it on a physical machine unless you want to render it useless.
  • The graphical disk utility in Ubuntu Linux gives off a very unnerving warning if the SMART test indicates that your hard drive is about to die soon. Worse yet, there's often nothing you can do save for backing up all your data and buying a new one. A similar warning can be gleaned from programs that can run SMART tests on Windows computers. If you get a warning that reads "Threshold Exceeded Condition", that means your drive is going to die very soon. Just as with the above example, there's no recourse other than to back up your data and get a new drive.
  • Do you enjoy Sonic the Hedgehog fan games? You may want to skip Sonic Gather Battle, which contains malicious coding. Suspiciously enough, the game must be run as an administrator, requires an internet connection, creates strange files, and edits your computer's registry, all of which were handwaved by the creator. Once "infected" by this game, trying to search for the game's title followed by "Cheats" or "Hacks" or trying to edit the game's files will cause the game to turn into something right out of a Creepypasta, with graphics becoming black and red, creepy eyes flashing on the screen, and invincible ghosts appearing to attack you. And your status as "hacker" is recorded on a database outside of your computer, so uninstalling and reinstalling the game doesn't fix these issues. While wanting to protect one's game from hackers is understandable, turning your game into malware to do so is less so.
  • Typing in unusual text in Google Translate sometimes yields hilariously nonsensical results. Other times, it brings up some rather disturbing messages involving Biblical scriptures and the apocalypse such as the now-patched result of typing in "dog" in Maori or Hawaiian 19 times being "Doomsday Clock is three minutes at twelve We are experiencing characters and a dramatic developments in the world, which indicate that we are increasingly approaching the end times and Jesus' return". Some more examples of this phenomenon can be found here.
  • ILoveYou, despite its sweet-sounding name, is anything but. Released in May 2000, the virus attacked millions of Windows computers. This malware caused widespread e-mail outages and more than 45 million computers have been infected by this worm - including stock brokerages, food companies, media, auto and technology giants. The virus is delivered through an email pretending to be a love letter to the user, attached with a file called LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs. note  Once downloaded and executed by the user, the virus delivers its payoff - amongst many other things, it sets the Internet Explorer page to one of four randomly chosen web pages so that it downloads the file WIN-BUGSFIX.EXE, a trojan. It proceeds to add a registry key for it so that it will run even at startup and before the user even logs in, meaning that you're shit out of luck if you think resetting your computer will get rid of the virus. The virus eventually searches for files to modify by replacing those files with a copy of itself. Finally, it scans for the files mirc32.exe, mlink32.exe, mirc.ini, script.ini and mirc.hlp and if it finds one of more of these files, it generates a new script.ini and places it in the directory where the other files are found. This script contains instructions to send the virus to other email users. Remember this virus as a warning that not every nice thing sent to you on the internet is not as it seems...
  • Stuxnet. Some viruses were created as a joke (Elk Cloner), some had good intentions but got in the hands of others (BRAIN), some wanted to disrupt networks and services (Various), and some would resort to committing ransom (See above). But Stuxnet is in a league of its own. What makes it nightmare fuel is its intention. It was created specifically to target and cripple Iran's nuclear enrichment centers. You read that right, it wanted to cause damage in the real world unlike anything ever seen. Just the sheer thought of a computer virus being introduced and crippling a major industry beneficial to a country is horrifying in of itself. While the author(s) of Stuxnet have not claimed responsibility, it's heavily speculated that the United States and Israel created Stuxnet together. The worm's entire existence is real world Fridge Horror as well, considering that Stuxnet is cited by many as a 'program unlike anything seen before', and can be seen as a major step towards the emergence of cyber-warfare. Stuxnet set the bar very high on sophisticated computer worm development and cyber-warfare tactics, could it go higher?
  • Imagine, if you will, wishing to look something up on Google, but misspelling the site's name in the URL as "Goggle". A very simple and common mistake that, if you had the misfortune of making between 2004 and 2008, would cause several viruses (including one of the aforementioned rogue anti-virus trojans) to be shoved onto your computer! There's no telling what's more unnerving: the potential damage making this simple mistake could make, or the fact that a domain-squatter would be so malicious. Thankfully, the danger this particular typo poses has long passed.
  • A certain error on Android causes the phone to freeze, then display the unsettling message "Your device is corrupted and can't be trusted" before shutting down. It can be pretty startling.

  • Not a documentary per se, but this zoology article about fairy wrens and cuckoos makes the latter bird horrifying:
    "In Australia, a pair of superb fairy-wrens return to their nest with food for their newborn chick. As they arrive, the chick makes its begging call. It’s hard to see in the darkness of the domed nest, but the parents know that something isn’t right. Whatever’s in their nest, it’s not their chick."
  • 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.
  • Nazi propaganda films. One notorious propaganda movie, The Eternal Jew, contained a scene meant to dehumanize the Jews by comparing them to rats. Apparently audiences found the scene so horrifying that they ran out of cinemas and the movie had to be withdrawn. Modern audience find it horrifying for different reasons.
  • The videos of the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger. One minute it's all happy and they're going into space, and the next...
  • A documentary depicting tar literally dripping out of a lung.
  • The "Alien Abduction" scene in Cosmos. Also the Nuclear Winter parts, but that was sort of the point.
  • An episode of Unsolved Mysteries where an unidentified man was featured. He had been trying to get a ride on a plane at a small airport, but no one would take him. So he grabbed on to the wing of a plane and held on as it was taking off. Of course, he fell off when the plane was far in the air. The story in question can be seen here.
    • Though some might see that as a Too Dumb to Live moment.
    • Although that man was eventually identified as Brian Stanley Duecker, a 28-year-old marathon runner from Cincinnati, Ohio who suffered from schizophrenia (likely the reason he jumped onto the plane), his family still has to live with a lot of unanswered questions about what was going through his mind when he did what he did—a true nightmare scenario indeed.
    • Unsolved Mysteries is a terrific show, but it contains massive amounts of Nightmare Fuel, since many of the cases remain unsolved.
    • The iconic opening theme is one of the scariest ever put on public television.
    • The closing theme is scary, too, but with the added elements of poignancy (many stories featured on the show are beyond tragic) and resigned sadness (many unsolved mysteries will be forever unsolved). All that can be heard in this short piece of music.
  • 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.
  • The Man Who Saw Tomorrow - a documentary-style movie about Nostradamus' predictions, narrated by Orson Welles is terrifying, especially when it comes to the infamous "King of Terror" prophecy and was huge Nightmare Fuel for 1980s viewers. However, it falls into Nightmare Retardant when its predictions for the 1990s were very quickly disproven, resulting in Welles distancing himself from the documentary.
  • 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.
  • Ric Burns' 1992 documentary on The Donner Party, the group of American pioneers who had to resort to cannibalism to survive, as seen on PBS' The American Experience.
  • The documentary A State Of Mind, following the lives of two North Korean barely-teenaged gymnasts, is definitely in some parts a Tear Jerker, and rather horrifying.
  • Related to the above, 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 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.
  • March of the Dinosaurs made feathered tyrannosaurs horrifying. There is one scene where the Edmontosaurus are ambushed by the tyrannosaurs where one literally leaps (like a raptor) out of nowhere to tackle one of the poor plant-eaters. Imagine three tons of teeth and death leaping at you.
  • This vegan documentary about meat production. It even starts the video off by saying "What you're about to see is beyond your worst nightmares".
  • Violence: An American Tradition, a documentary that is about, as the title says, violence in USA and its history, its culture, its relationship with media and pop culture, its effects on daily life, the politics and motives behind it, the people involved with it, etc. Anyone who believes that Humans Are Good will definitely have their beliefs destroyed by this one hour long documentary, specially the part that deals with child abuse.
  • This article is mostly harmless. But Andy says, with good reason, that searching for "Congo" and "massacre" will keep you up at night. The article was posted on 02 July 2009 CE. As of 23 November 2012 CE, the massacre is still going. The article actually has a link to a Google search of "congo" and "massacre", so you don't have to Google it yourself. Don't click on that link.
  • The the CNN Freedom Project, also overlapping with Tear Jerker since it's about modern-day slavery. Especially nasty are the articles on the Sinai traffickers.
  • The National Geographic show Air Crash Investigation (aka Mayday or Air Emergency) can be either completely fascinating (on a scientific/engineering level), or horrifying if you're afraid of flying. One episode is particularly creepy, possibly even if you're in the former camp: A plane (Helios Flight 522) takes off normally and starts climbing to cruising altitude. As the captain talks to air traffic control, he starts talking more and more incoherently. The passengers all start feeling dizzy as well, and as the plane continues to climb, almost every one of them passes out. Including the pilots. The plane is still flying, albeit not on the course it's supposed to, and ATC radios military aircraft to find out what's going on. The military radios to ATC that the plane is filled with people who are completely non-responsive—except for one person, in the cockpit, who eventually acknowledges the military planes with a feeble wave. Then, a few minutes later, the plane loses altitude and crashes into the ground. Turns out that a switch had not been pressed which pressurises the cabin, resulting in everyone succumbing to hypoxia after they passed 18,000 feet. The one person who was in the cockpit? A flight attendant who had stayed alive by using the oxygen masks in the cabin, then three tanks of emergency oxygen. He had been calling for help on the transmitter but nobody could hear him. The plane eventually ran out of fuel and crashed, and investigators later found out that everyone had actually still been alive (albeit in a coma) when it did.
  • Covered in this documentary, there is the disaster of the MV Doña Paz. The disaster is the worst peacetime maritime tragedy in the history of sea travel. The MT Vector, an oil tanker operating without a license, lookout, or shipmaster, and found to be unseaworthy, collided with the Doña Paz. The resulting collision dumped ginormous amounts of oil into the water, and an ignition set the surrounding waters on fire. Some escaping passengers jumped overboard into the water, and some were burned alive, or literally cooked by boiling water mixed with oil and ship fuel. Worse, the collision happened at night, and knocked out power to the ship, plunging the crowd into total panicked darkness. Making the situation much worse was that the area of the Philippines they were in was infested with sharks. The collision was so sudden that crews had no time to prepare life jackets or lifeboats for the passengers.
  • Almost every article about the Judge Rotenberg Education Center and similar behavior modification facilities. They "educate" by use of electric shocks.
  • The BBC docu-drama End Day, which depicts five different possible scenarios, in order of the amount of damage they would do to human civilization and the planet in general: A mega-tsunami, a killer asteroid, a global pandemic, the eruption of a super-volcano, and the Large Hadron Collider failing, which eventually results in the entire planet being consumed by "strange matter".
  • This ADHD educational series of videos -
  • The Science Channel has a few shows that, albeit very interesting, contain plenty of horrifying stories. Their newest one The Unexplained Files is just one of them. Featuring such stories as 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...
  • This squicktastic footage of a 70cm long worm being devoured by a giant red leech, filmed for the BBC's Wonders of the Monsoon.
  • Ever wondered what the inside of a penguin's mouth looks like? Here you go, courtesy of National Geographic. Not so sweet now, eh?
  • Incendio, a short documentary by the National Fire Prevention Agency about the 1974 Joelma Building fire in São Paulo, Brazil, one of the inspirations for The Towering Inferno. Between the subject matter, scenes of panicked tenants jumping to their deaths, the narrator's Creepy Monotone voiceover, and the spooky synth music reminiscent of Boards of Canada, it's pretty chilling.
  • Before Mayday, there was Air Disasters, an hour-long documentary that exposes some uncomfortable truths behind the world of flight and how the industry is run by utilizing footage of actual accidents, some of it quite disturbing. Particular attention is given to the vastly differing safety standards in various parts of the world and the industry's practice of operating aircraft under flags of convenience in order to bypass regulations. That in itself is a terrifying prospect.
  • Trevor McDonald’s duology of ITV documentaries titled Inside Death Row which see him interview prisoners with death sentences in Indiana State Penitentiary expectedly document his encounters with many disturbing and vile characters. The second documentary sees McDonald come face to face with William Clyde Gibson, an utterly remorseless serial killer who candidly recounts his various killings to a barely straight-faced Trevor, and bluntly dismisses the possibility of having any degree of humanity, giggling like a jolly hick all the while.

  • This horrifying object called an "Evil Stick" with a copyright-infringing image of Cardcaptor Sakura on its packaging was found on sale at a dollar store in Ohio. It looks like any other plastic children's wand, but emits an evil, cackling laugh and contains a hidden image of a "demonic child" with glowing eyes and a wide psychotic smile, covered in blood and slashing her own wrists with a butcher's knife. A mother bought it for her two-year-old daughter, but discovered what was hidden under the foil on the wand and was rightfully outraged. What makes it worse is that it was being sold amongst children's toys, and no one seems to know who made it, nor why. Also, the toy is still being carried in the store. The relative apathy of the owner of the store that carried the toy, though he is right that it is the parents' responsibility to inspect the toy given its name, he thinks that children are desensitized to such things "because they see it on TV every day". And that somehow makes it OK to keep selling it?
  • The Face Bank is a toy of sorts that is supposed to encourage your children to save money by feeding it. The face in question is haunting, to the point where adult reviewers mention being frightened by it. Here's a video of it in action, if you dare.
  • Furbies. The idea of a small, robotic creature capable of learning English and speaking at any time already places it square in the Uncanny Valley, but many have reported hearing them talking from the depths of their closet after years of disuse. There have been entire Reddit threads dedicated to Furby horror stories.
  • In 2003, Wal-Mart pulled an unnamed Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium knock-off made by Wal-Mart's generic toy brand, Kid Connection, from shelves because if you listened closely, the ocean sounds it played to help soothe babies to sleep contained a subliminal message: a hypnotic and quiet voice repeatedly saying "I hate you". The fact that there is no footage and/or audio snippets of it available anywhere on the web doesn't help. Here is a news article about it.
  • Whenever someone would fail at the original Bop It or Bop It Extreme, the voice commander would scream loudly. This could be a Jump Scare for players not expecting it.
  • The Faces on the Back of ERTL's Culdee and Godred from Thomas & Friends fall under nothing short of Terrifying.
  • The shutdown screen on Leap Frog's Leapster 2 is quite unnerving, if darkness and atmospheric music aren't your things.

  • The social networking smartphone application Snapchat has fun filters you can use to alter your face or the environment around you. But, more often than not, the face filters are quite creepy and can fall into the Uncanny Valley, like this and this, for example.
  • Old Time Radio Horror shows like Lights Out, Inner Sanctum, Quiet Please, and so on. A mixed bag as often the narrative tropes of the genre, such as the reliance on "Description Through Narration" and their general melodramatic styles can sometimes lead to them being narmy to the point of Nightmare Retardant, but when they are out their best and if you can get yourself in the right mood they build tension like nothing else.
  • Audiobooks can sometimes invoke this — passages that are already intense or disturbing can be made even more so when narrated aloud rather than simply read on a page. Moreso with a really good narrator, a cast performance rather than a single narrator, and/or ambient background music.
  • The Golding Institute: ''Final Relaxation'' is quite possibly the most terrifying "comedy" album ever released. It's essentially a parody of new age guided meditation albums, but it's billed as "your ticket to death through hypnotic suggestion." That's right, the intended result of the exercise is for you to die. At first, this is played for extremely dark humor, as cliche after cliche of the genre is inverted; for example, instead of a calming voice instructing you to relax your body parts one at a time over soothing music, there's a creaky-voiced old man telling you in excruciating detail how much pain each individual body part is in, accompanied by a low-pitched electronic hum. As the album goes on, however, the imagery and instructions get a lot more unnerving, that queasy electronic hum keeps growing louder and louder, the already creepy narrator gets even more sociopathic, and there's increasingly less there to remind you it's all a joke. To top it off, the inside of the booklet is a last will and testament, with blanks for the listener to fill in.
  • Conspiracy theories. Even if you don't believe them, just the ideas like the New World Order and the Illuminati can be terrifying. The "clues" that back them don't help either. The Other Wiki has a list of them. Sleep well.
  • The story of "The Giant Shrimp in the Laundry Room", an allegedly true story told by a woman who lived in an apartment complex which had a huge basement/laundry room that, for some reason, had tons of holes in the walls—she was told that the basement was connected to the water. As she was hanging up her clothes, she had this unsettling feeling of being watched. When she turned around, there was a five-foot-tall shrimp-like creature crawling out of one of the massive holes and headed straight towards her. Needless to say, she opted to move out of the apartment as soon as possible.
  • This song from the educational website Starfall. Where to begin: The creepy, one-legged, weird-looking zigzag people? The unnatural-looking environment around them, with its giant sun that looks like the planet this is taking place on is getting too close, the twisted architecture, lavender sky, and weird cactus-like plants? The humanoid-faced cat? The music, which sounds sad, angry, and insanely happy all at once? The fact that this is the final video in their alphabet series doesn't help; They don't end with the alphabet song, but with an acid trip-sequel nightmare. And this was meant for kids.
  • Nearly everyone who can remember the Puppet Show Rimini Riddle agrees that it was absolutely terrifying.
  • In the same vein as the Old-Time Radio Horror Shows example above, we have Halloween and horror sound-effects records, tapes, and CDs. Most of them, of course, are rather tame and wouldn't frighten even the jumpiest of listeners, let alone the kids they were meant to terrify. But many adults fondly remember being scared out of their wits by classics such as Peter Pan Records' Ghostly Sounds, and Walt Disney's screamer Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House, both the 1964 and 1979 versions. For most, what froze their spines then still has the power to do so today, and very few might be brave enough to listen after dark...
  • Ever been to the American Museum of Natural History before and been to the Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life or the Hall of Biodiversity? Then chances are that you've seen the two rather terrifying models of the infamous Giant Squid before. The one in the Hall of Ocean Life has a Giant Squid fighting against a Sperm whale, clinging to its face. Do you have a fear of the dark? Well, this one is in almost complete darkness. And just to make matters worse, the glass between the viewer and the exhibit is missing, meaning you can reach out and put your hand close to them if you feel like being brave enough. Thankfully, it's hidden behind a staircase, so if you know where it is, you can avoid it. The one in the Hall of Biodiversity is arguably even worse, since you can't avoid it. Do you want to avoid it completely? Too bad; this one hangs from the ceiling and you are required to go underneath it. Fun fact; this actually scared Arthur C. Clarke as a child. Yes, that Arthur C. Clarke. It really drives the point home that both of these models are terrifying. For the curious and/or brave, you can see both here and here.
  • Kawaii Killer is a mobile game that makes Happy Tree Friends look like Tom and Jerry in comparison. You play as a hunter and you have to kill cute cartoon animals in a cute cartoon forest. The deaths of the animals are pretty brutal, from smashing foxes and wolves with hammers to tearing frogs apart. But out of all the deaths, the skunk's death is arguably the most brutal. You must hang it in order to kill it, and IT'S EYES BURST INTO A BLOODY MUSH AS IT CHOKES TO DEATH. Honorable mentions go to the deaths of the Armadillo and the Bear, the former's eyes fall out of his sockets, while the latter's head gains open cracks... AND THEN IT EXPLODES.
  • The National Media and Science Museum once had "Which is Witch?" as part of their "Magic Factory" exhibit on optical illusions. You stand before an ordinary mirror and push a button. If you're lucky, you'll get a soft cackle as the mirror lights up and reveals the witch behind it. If you're not, you get treated to a crash of thunder followed by an absolutely ear-piercing cackle as the witch appears.
  • This video entitled "Qubo's final minutes on the air — 2/27/2021". Where do we begin with it? The The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask "Final Hours" theme playing faintly in the background? The fact that we get to see Rupert, Bob the Builder, Inspector Gadget, and all the other beloved Qubo characters getting brutally shot in the face on-screen? The hellish background they're on? The message at the end stating that they blame us for Qubo's shutdown, concluding with them thanking us for nothing? Everything about this video is just plain disturbing, especially for Qubo fans and people who grew up with the channel... thankfully, the video is nothing more than a hoax/Creepypasta made to scare kids (with the number featured in the video leading to a Rickroll if it was called). Qubo actually ended abruptly in the middle of an episode of Inspector Gadget.
  • The "Turner Doomsday Video" is a video created by CNN to act as the final transmission the station would ever broadcast in the event of The End of the World as We Know It. The content of the video, which is known thanks to an internal leak from CNN, is in and of itself not that scary: it is simply a band playing music. The song chosen, however, is of eerie significance: "Nearer, My God to Thee", a 19th-century Christian hymn famed for being played by a group of musicians aboard the RMS Titanic as it sank. Further Fridge Horror comes from the thought that this could well be the last thing anyone sees on TV before the apocalypse claims their lives...
  • The THX logo. Its infamous soundtrack, the "Deep Note", which to many young filmgoers and film viewers on VHS and DVD in the '80s, '90s and early 2000s, was pretty much a Brown Note, terrifying anyone who dares to hear it. Sure, there are plenty of funny variations (such as the ones starring the THX mascot, Tex), but that doesn't prevent the note from deafening people.
  • Some stores in the mid to late 1990's sold a novelty singing Christmas tree called "Douglas Fir" which was an animatronic talking tree that would activate when approached close enough. Sure, the concept is cute, but in actuality this thing is absolutely terrifying. Even worse is that the eyes and mouth camouflage with the branches of the tree and its eyes even glow in the dark!

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