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Nightmare Fuel / PBS Kids

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Not even the government-funded children's programming block PBS Kids is free from scary moments.


Shows with their own pages

Idents and bumpers

  • This variant of the "P-Pals" logo which begins with the P-Pals moving about in a dark room. Then we go through an open door and then the P-Pals scream "SURPRISE!" in the voices of characters from PBS Kids' shows (like Big Bird and Ms. Frizzle) with all sorts of loud party horns and other noises going about. "Surprise", indeed.
    • There's also a shorter version of that variant, which starts with the zoom into the open door.
    • There is also another less-scarier version which has kids calling out "The P-Pals are coming!" which ends with a kid saying "Watch for them!". The kids chanting thankfully tones down the Scare Factor, but still unsettling for those not expecting the "Surprise!" bit at the end.
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  • The funding bumpers seen on PBS Kids shows like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Reading Rainbow might have scared a few, with kids' heads that stare directly at the camera, its announcers, and its synth music.
  • Quite a few were frightened by the Dot system cue that aired after shows between 1999-2013, which consisted of Dot running towards the viewer until she stops, smiles, and cue the PBS Kids logo! YMMV, since others will see it as nostalgic.
  • In a way, the Fishbowl system cue that aired after shows between 2002-2013 is pretty terrifying if you think about it. Dash imagines himself as a fish that's swimming in peace, only to be eaten by Dot as a fish near the end.

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Shows

  • Barney & Friends:
    • The Moon in the Season 12 episode "The Misbegotten Moon: A Space Adventure".
    • To some, the original Barney costume from the Backyard Gang videos looked pretty creepy. ESPECIALLY the first design in the first three videos, in which he was dark purple, skinny, had giant eyes, and a red mouth with a tongue.
    • The end of the Backyard Gang video "Waiting For Santa", with Santa looking at the camera and whispering almost menacingly "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"
    • According to several YouTube comments, many children were scared by the bear in "Barney's Campfire Singalong" due to the sheer Uncanny Valley factor of his appearance and because he appears out of the darkness of the woods.
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    • The winking baseball during "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in "Three Wishes".
    • The donkey at the end of "Rock With Barney". From its heart-freezing braying (which is also heard earlier in the video, scaring Baby Bop) to its creepy wink to the camera. As if that wasn't enough, it re-appears at the end of the credits and winks again.
  • Between the Lions:
    • Cleo getting captured by hunters in "Little Big Mouse".
    • The entire cast and the library patrons getting trapped inside a storybook after having been sent there by Click, who makes the ill-timed choice of going into sleep mode while everyone is screaming to be returned to reality. And then a seafaring captain comes to check said book out for his two-year voyage across the globe. Luckily everyone is fine by the next episode, but everyone is rightly horrified at how their situation nearly played out.
    • Lampshaded with the Sam Spud skits, which almost always end with a young child commenting on how strange the show about sentient food is while watching it on TV, despite their parents insistence that it's "educational".
    • The "freebee" virus in "The Good Seed" for all the random chaos that happens because of it. Taken Up to Eleven if you're a small child who just came here from Trapped In Hyperspace.
    • Many people have claimed to have been frightened by the Arty Smartypants puppet due to his strange physical appearance.
  • The Boobahs are this to some, due to their weird, alien-like appearance.
  • Caillou:
    • In "Caillou is Getting Older", we get a shot of a dead bird who died of old age, onscreen. note  It doesn't help that the rest of the episode features Caillou being afraid of getting old and dying.
  • Donkey Hodie:
    • Some people are quick to note that Purple Panda's puppet looks scary, likely because he has different eyes compared to the rest of the puppets on the show (the black parts of his eyes have no white pupils in them like the other characters do).
    • In "Super Duper Sleepover", Donkey Hodie and Purple Panda see a monster in Purple Panda's room that turns out to be a pile of their toys. This scares not just them, but their friend Stanley, and has also been reported to scare several child viewers.
    • "Spooky Shadow Swamp" takes place in a dark swamp that Donkey Hodie and Purple Panda find scary. There's also a part where Donkey Hodie wears a disguise that looks more eerie than the other costumes she's donned in the series.
  • Jay Jay the Jet Plane: The planes' faces. Especially disconcerting is the fact that the faces of the younger planes barely look like those of the young "kids" they're supposed to be.
  • Katie and Orbie: In-Universe, silly horror stories about monsters made of sludge and green marshmallows become this for Katie and Orbie in two separate episodes.
  • Martha Speaks:
    • Martha's nightmare in "Too Much Martha" portrays her as being literally paper thin and unable to really move on her own, yet still forced on a (stricter) diet by Helen to "lose weight". While the sequence has some admittedly amusing moments, such as paper-thin Martha being flown like a kite for a "walk", Martha's panicky And I Must Scream state and Helen's obliviousness (or indifference) to Martha's condition make it all the creepier.
    • The episode "The Trouble With Teddy" has some scary moments, including one of the dogs who was implied to have had a near-death experience in the past.
    • For anyone who is scared of the idea of sleep deprivation, Martha being tired in "Martha's Chair" and her and Helen being tired in "Martha Walks the Dog" can be scary.
    • Though "Camp Truman" mainly averts this, several of the suggested ideas (like Milo losing his ability to ever be happy and Milo getting tired) were pretty creepy.
    • Another nightmare of Martha's in "Fit vs Fat" is a bit of this, because, in it, her, Helen, Alice, T.D., Truman, and Ronald are very lazy. In fact, the kids (sans Ronald, who is slightly less lazy) are so lazy that they have great trouble lifting small objects and groan all the time.
    • In "Helen's All Thumbs", the negative effects of Helen's gaming. Particularly her forgetting to feed Martha and Skits and especially her hallucinating sprites from the game!
  • Maya & Miguel: In one episode, Maya and Miguel make a bet about who can go longer without their forfeit (coming up with a plan to help solve a problem for Maya; playing video games for Miguel). While most of the episode is just weird as Maya keeps a lid on her attempts to help and Miguel's attempts at the same backfire so badly Maya's antics are stated to be preferable, late in the episode, Miguel has a nightmare where he's confronted by the villain of one of his video games and when he begs Maya for help, she leaves him to die with a cheerful statement that she's not allowed to help and a wave goodbye.
    • Maya thinking Paco got cooked in the cafeteria.
    • Abuelita having to save the twins from being trampled during a sports game.
  • The puppets on Lamb Chop's Play-Along look creepy enough to give some people nightmares.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood:
    • Lady Elaine and her red nose.
    • The original puppet for Prince Tuesday used before the character was aged up in the post-79 shows.
    • The Frogg family.
    • Full-body costumed characters like Bob Dog and Purple Panda were known to scare some viewers.
      • When the actor who played Mr. McFeely visited a kindergarten class, the students were excited when it was announced that Purple Panda was coming, only for all of them to start crying in fear once he came out.
    • On a related note, the appearance of the brick-red building (added from 1974-onwards, not counting the prototype version used from 1972-73) that appears in the model neighborhood at the beginning and end of the show, can be a bit unsettling, especially during the end of the credits when it's zoomed in very close.
  • The Noddy Shop:
    • Some of the puppets might be considered this. Some examples include Johnny Crawfish (due to his teeth always sticking out), Island Princess (who has creepy eyes) and the Ruby Reds (lips not attached to faces).
    • One episode featured a song called "I'm Not Scared" that sounds scary on purpose to trick the viewers into thinking that the puppets are being brave when the song expresses their actual mood.
    • "Thunder and Lightning" mostly takes place in the dark as the result of a power outage. Combine this with the above-mentioned creepy puppets, and it's a combination likely to creep out some viewers.
    • "The Human Touch" has a subplot about Disrupto wanting to mind-control the toys. And if that wasn't bad enough, the episode's musical number features rapidly flashing lights in a dark setting.
  • Peg + Cat: In "The Friday the 13th Problem," Richard's fear of the eponymous number seems to invoke this trope. The song he sings in the episode doesn't help at all, showing disturbing imagery such as skeletons, a ghost (good thing it was just a squirrel), and a cloudy skull in the clouds.
  • Reading Rainbow would occasionally feature books about subjects that children might find disturbing - such as a home fire, or death.
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • "The Plant from Bortron 7": Right after the group gets the gigantic plant back to its normal size, Mindy plants more seeds of said plant. The episode ends with more giant plants stomping around. The episode also ends with the kids screaming in terror.
    • "My Three Suns": Jet trying to tag Sean and Sydney, and then ending up in a black void where he'll be it "forever", kinda gives off a Nothing Is Scarier vibe.
  • 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)
  • Splash and Bubbles
    • This Splash walkaround
    • In real-life angler fish species, the males metamorphose into a parasitic form that attaches onto a much larger female. In this show, this relationship is actually shown with Lu the football-type angler fish and her husband Bob, who amounts to little more than a tiny, talking face embedded in the side of Lu's body. To its credit, the show is very matter-of-fact about this relationship and does not portray it as anything unusual or disturbing; but it's still absolutely horrifying.
  • Square One TV:
    • Mr. Glitch was an anthropomorphic tornado who would eat Mathman if he got a question wrong and even once, when Mathman got it right.
    • And once for absolutely no reason at all. That time, he filled the whole damn screen.
    • There was also one time 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.''
      • That happened more than once, and in some cases, Mr. Glitch got eaten by Mathdog.
    • And let's not forget the immense creepiness of the battles between the pluses and minuses... A visceral testament to the simplicity of arithmetic and the futility and horrors of war.
    • 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.
  • Teletubbies:
    • You can count on it that many children were probably freaked out by the Baby Sun's occasional squawking or loud cries. Game Grumps put it best: "Oh, GOD!".
    • The bear and lion sketch, which featured uncanny puppetry and menacing music. Understandably, the sketch was banned in four countries, including the USA, and a new version was created with silly sound effects and comedic gags like the lion meowing for some reason.
    • The Teletubbies themselves can be nightmare fuel, with their unmoving Uncanny Valley faces and blank, staring eyes.
    • The Magic House sketch was also rather unnerving to some, especially in the original UK broadcasts where the puppet inside the house made very weird noises and sang off-key.
  • Timothy Goes to School:
    • The scene where Timothy gets himself trapped behind a door near the end of "Shy Charles."
  • Zoboomafoo: "Grow, Zoboo, Grow" has a jarring scene where, when Chris and Martin return from their adventure, they find Zoboo chained to an automated rack, trying to stretch himself out to grow. The Kratt Brothers promptly release him from the rack to keep him out of danger,
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