- One for the whole series which is rife with Adult Fear. We have two kids just wandering around aimlessly with no idea how to get home, being pursued by an Eldritch Abomination who wants them simply because they're lost. The fact that Greg, a mere five year old, has a habit of just running off on his own doesn't help either.
- Wirt's semi-disregard for his brother for half the series might be cringe inducing for anyone who has a sibling.
- Greg's encounter with the "Beast" in the first episode. It's a miracle he got away from it unscathed.
- The Beast Dog approaches Wirt slowly and he tries to shield himself with the fireplace fence. He then screams and looks absolutely terrified when it gets really near him.
- Everything about the beast. Hes an allegory for lost souls, hopelessness, and suicide. His almost gentleman-like mannerisms combined with how hes constantly in the shadows makes for one truly intimidating figure. Its scary how manipulative he is and how easy its for him to win you over. Yes, you can simply blow on the lantern to kill him but is it that easy? By the time youve confronted him youve most likely wandered the unknown for days, completely lost. By then youve lost hope and are willing to listen to what he has to say. Hell either convince you to become lantern bearer or turn you into an edelwood tree. Theres a reason hes regarded as one of the scariest villains in animation.
- The Pottsfield episode when it's revealed it's a whole town populated by those that have passed on, disguised in rather unsettling pumpkin costumes. Granted, they aren't malicious, but The Reveal and the subtly-off atmosphere that the town had had leading up to it are still very creepy...
Enoch: Oh, what a wonderful harvest. And what about you? You sure you wanna leave?
- Not to mention this little moment:
Wirt: Me? Yes!
Enoch: Oh, well. You'll join us someday.
- Beatrice's true reason for wanting to help the brothers: trying to give them to a witch for slavery to undo a curse. Thankfully her conscience kicks in and she helps save them.
- Not to mention the way the curse is undone: Adelaide pulls out a pair of wicked-looking shears and says that they're for cutting Beatrice and her family's wings off. It turns out to be true, but the implication is still pretty gruesome. And when you take into account the fact that Adelaide was in cahoots with The Beast... what if she had been lying?!
- The truth of Auntie Whispers and Lorna.
- Auntie Whispers at first appears to be a cannibalistic witch whose eyes and head are too big with the power of Mind Control, although The Reveal of her using her powers to keep Lorna in check makes her a lot less scary. Still, her appearance is unsettling.
- Lorna turns out to be possessed by an evil spirit that Auntie Whispers has been trying to keep contained. The spirit has a terrifying Nightmare Face, even scarier than Auntie Whispers herself, and looks and acts like it came straight out of a horror film. It wants to kill and eat the brothers, as it has done to many travelers before—the musical intro to Episode One shows Lorna tidying an entire catacomb of human bones.
- A possible Alternative Character Interpretation for Auntie, given her reaction once the evil spirit is banished for good by Wirt. She could potentially have done this the whole time, but may have been too afraid that Lorna would leave her. If true, that would mean Auntie willingly let Lorna remain under Demonic Possession and many people get eaten out of fear of being forsaken by Lorna once she no longer needed her.
- The conflicting actions of Lorna before and after the evil spirit is banished imply that the spirit was at work the entire time and not just when the reveal happened. Lorna probably never acted of her own volition until the very last minute of the short.
- Crossing with Tear Jerker, The Reveal of Greg following the Beast to save Wirt made many viewers shout a Big "NO!" as their hearts dropped right through their stomachs.Greg: Okay, you sleep. I'm sorry I got us lost, Wirt. Will you take care of Ronald for me? *beat* Okay, I've got to go now.
[Greg turns and walks towards the Beast, who has been there this whole time.]
- The fact that it's Greg who's willing to sacrifice himself to save his brother from becoming an Edelwood tree. Or, even worse, he's too naïve to realize that he might die.
- What makes this scene even more horrifying/tear-jerking? Wirt wakes up and wonders where Greg has gone. Then he hears the Beast's singing.
- How edelwood is made. The victim is rendered lost in the woods, driven to despair until they give in to exhaustion. Then roots start growing from their bodies until they turn into a tree with a ghastly look of horror on its face. And what happens after the process is finished? The wood is cut down off so it can be ground into oil and fed into the Beast's lantern to keep him powered. The Woodsman naturally is horrified when he learns this, as the Beast has kept him unaware of what he was truly doing. And the fact that it nearly happened to Greg is where he draws the line, knowing his daughter wouldn't want to be saved at the expense of others.The Beast: You've been grinding lost souls for me for years.
The Woodsman: I didn't know! I didn't know this is where the edelwood comes from!
The Beast: And would it have mattered?
- The Beast's true form. The fact that it's very blink-and-you'll-miss-it (5 or 6 video frames, shown only one at a time as light pans over it from left to right) really adds to the shock of it.
- A very dark thought comes up upon the reveal of where Wirt and Greg come from and how they got into the Unknown. They fell unconscious into a river after diving out of the way of a incoming train and when they "return", they're still in the river, and are seen to need medical care after Wirt pulls them out. Now think back to the Pottsfield episode where some of the pumpkin people cite that Wirt "isn't ready yet", or the dream ep where Greg seemingly goes to Heaven. The series seems to imply this all could all have been a Dying Dream and the brothers were largely stuck in a odd limbo of sorts where they were in danger of truly passing on. This might be the reason why a lot of Greg's methods seem to work over Wirt's. Greg is just an innocent kid and the world is responding favorably to him, like it doesn't want him to die yet — while Wirt's pessimism has things giving off a poor reaction and he's more in danger of turning into a edelwood tree. Rather gloomy for a kids show, no?
- The Highwayman's song, with its low, mournful melody, haunting lyrics, and his odd dance during is nothing short of disturbing.
- The lyrics definitely make it worse. During the song, the Highwayman states that he "works with his hands," and ends the song by saying he "makes ends meet" while he's running a finger over his throat like a knife. Oh dear...
- The Cartoon Network Studios logo for this show◊ looks frightening: we see the shadowy silhouettes of our two protagonists, but the shadows have lifeless white eyes and mouths, as though the boys are dead and missing. After watching the series in its entirety and discovering that the boys were on the verge of dying, this image becomes even more haunting and in the realm of Adult Fear.
- A very brief "blink and you'll miss it" kind of shot in Chapter 8 shows that as Wirt fell into the freezing pond after having broken through the ice, shadowy hands appear to seemingly engulf and grab him. Made even worse when he's already freezing in a river outside of the Unknown. Perhaps it means that he's come to accept his death.
- At the beginning of the seventh episode, Wirt and Greg are just walking down the trail, minding their own business, when the Woodsman suddenly bursts out through the trees, starts grabbing at Wirt, and rambling about the Beast. His behavior is so erratic and unnerving, even Greg is startled. The scene ends with the boys running into the woods while the Woodsman calls out behind them:Woodsman: BOYS! Beware the Beast!
- The Beast attempting to push a Sadistic Choice onto Wirt in order to save Greg. Either the Beast will put Greg's soul in the lantern and Wirt becomes his new "Woodsman," so to speak, or Wirt gets to watch Greg die. It's all extremely tense regardless of the fact that Wirt decides to Take a Third Option.Beast: Come here.
- Just about everything about Adelaide. From the horrific things she has in mind for Greg and Wirt, to the fact that she dies melting into a pile of sludge.
- Even before we see The Beast the first we ever hear of him is him singing an ominous song about the Woodsman's duty to "chop the wood and light the fire." He sings that same song as he stalks Wirt and Greg (again unseen) and a bit later when he takes Greg deeper into the forest as Wirt desperately tries to find him.
- Somehow, the decision to make evil singing his signature instead of an Evil Laugh is so much creepier.
- "Come, Wayward Souls", the Villain Song, with a decidedly twisted-hymn feel (in fact, its structure is identical to "O Holy Night"). The Beast's portion is basically him encouraging wanderers to commit passive suicide and join his forest, with disturbingly plausible appeals to the hopeless and depressed, and the second part is an eerie youthful chorus encouraging the Edelwood-affected soul to grow. The worst part about the second half is that it sounds like Greg's voice is the one singing, his own soul urging on the tree's growth.
Come, wayward souls, who wander in the darkness
- An alternative, the child voices are probably still The Beast singing, because of all those freaky faces he has one would imagine he can speak out of any of them being the eldritch horror that he is. The really creepy part is contemplating if the children's voices are coming from him, yet are still sentient; that may not just be manipulating their form, but their very being is bound to him, as well... the child's part seems to be "greeting" a new member to their amalgamation.
There is a light for the lost and the meek
Sorrow and fear are easily forgotten
When you submit to the soil of the earth
Grow, tiny seed. You are gone to the trees'
Rise til your leaves fill the sky
Until your sighs fill the air in the night
Lift your mighty limbs and give praise to the fire
- The somber, Latin reprise of "Potatoes and Molasses" when Wirt finds Greg in the middle of turning into an edelwood tree is followed by a single line from "Come, Wayward Souls."Grow, tiny seed. You are gone to the trees.
- Adelaide's scissors are described as 'snipping' the cursed family's wings away to turn them human - which seems less than safe and pleasant, so even in the happy ending we still have some implied nightmare fuel occurring.
Nightmare Fuel / Over the Garden Wall