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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

  • If you were to pause it at the right time in the PBS Kids Dash ident from 1999, you would get an insane-looking Dash.
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  • The seizure-inducing "Switcher" ID contains Dot and Dash rapidly turning each other into things that can't talk outside of television, until at the end they turn into a fly and a ball.


  • Angelina Ballerina: In "Angelina's Baby Sister", Angelina's new sister Polly becomes rattled when a prize Angelina was showing her falls and breaks; she then rolls herself off the bed; thankfully their mother caught her just in time.
  • 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.
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    • 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.
    • 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 voyaged across the globe. Luckily everyone is fine by the next episode, but everyone is rightly horrified at how their situation nearly played out.
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    • 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.
  • The Boohbahs are this to some, due to their weird, alien-like appearance.
  • Caillou:
    • Caillou pinching Rosie in "Big Brother Caillou." It comes out of nowhere, and it's just plain unexpected. Rosie's shriek afterward does not help matters at all.
      • The book version of "Big Brother Caillou" is even worse, as Caillou bites Rosie.
    • In "Caillou is Getting Older", we get a shot of a dead bird, onscreen. note  It doesn't help that the rest of the episode features Caillou being afraid of getting old and dying.
  • Cyberchase:
    • Ledge "Hackerizing" a majority of the cast with Inez being the only hold out. This includes Matt and Jackie who aren't even native to Cyberspace. Inez missed being Hackerized too by luck alone...
    • Motherboard's appearance is this for some due to falling into Uncanny Valley by having two entirely different shaped eyes.
    • The Frog in Trick or Treat also counts. Especially when the group are crawling around looking for it and it appears above their heads bearing a Slasher Smile.
    • Hacker's AI when he replaces Motherboard on her main screen in "The Snelfu Snafu".
  • 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.
  • The puppets on Lamb Chop's Play-Along look creepy enough to give some people nightmares.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood:
  • The Noddy Shop:
    • Johnny Crawfish looks so awkward (in both puppet form and official artwork) that he has actually scared some children who watched the show, and has even weirded out some parents, claiming that he doesn't belong in a show for kids.
    • Island Princess is this too, to a lesser extent, because of her weird eyes, as well as the Ruby Reds, who are lips without faces.
  • Peep and the Big Wide World:
    • The Scare Chord that plays when Peep sees a scarecrow in "Peep in Rabbitland."
    • In "Stormy Weather," at one point, we see a gloomy-looking Peep staring right into the camera, accompanied with 10-note gloomy minor key music!
    • In "Quack's Tracks," Peep and Chirp are trapped near paw prints that have four toes. We all know that cats have four toes, and what they do to birds. Tom's smile does not help.
  • Peg + Cat: You'd think a light and cheery show wouldn't need this trope, right? Wrong! 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 of course occasionally feature books about subjects that children might find disturbing - such as a home fire, or death.
  • A mild example in the Shining Time Station scene where Becky, Kara and Dan's eyes spin around in their heads in "Mr. Conductor Gets Left Out".
  • 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.
    • Two words. ANGLE. DANCE.
  • 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."

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