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Nightmare Fuel / Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

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"What I saw then burned a permanent picture in my mind. I... I can still see it now..."
This page covers the first three games: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice For All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations.

Take other moments specific to Dual Destinies to that game's page, and other games and the 2016 anime here, please.

As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked according to Spoilers Off policy. You have been warned.

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     Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 
  • Case 4: Manfred von Karma kills a man over what any sane person would consider a fairly trivial oversight, then raises the dead man's son and twists him to be everything his own father would hate. The psychological scars he left on Miles and Franziska will be there long after he's dead.
    • The fact that Edgeworth practically begs Phoenix not to take his case because von Karma is the prosecutor is telling in its own right. He may not have known at the time that von Karma killed his father, but he might know from living with him what lengths von Karma is capable of when it comes to revenge.
    • Think about it: von Karma is a prosecutor with a 40-year win streak who will do ANYTHING to get his guilty verdicts. Who knows how many poor, innocent defendants he's sent to death row because of his ruthless, selfish, win-at-all-costs tactics? If you're the defendant in a case von Karma is prosecuting and someone from the Wright & Co. Law Offices isn't defending you, you're screwed.
      • von Karma's methods aren't just terrifying if the defendant is innocent. It's almost certain that he's also put many genuinely guilty people behind bars with his tactics, and every single guilty person he's ever dealt with can get a free ticket out of jail by claiming, quite possibly correctly, that he forged evidence to get a conviction. God only knows who is innocent and who is guilty, God only knows how many guilty people will go free, the various victims, God only knows how many friends and families involved will now never have any sense of peace as to whether the crimes were truly and properly punished, and God only knows how much damage this one single man has done because of his sheer selfish ego.
      • You can peer into his methods during the flashback portions of case 3 of Gyakuten Kenji 2 (spoilers therein, obviously): There was never a body found during the Dover murder case. Didn't bother von Karma. He just fabricated a theoretical scenario and then had Detective Badd removed from the case so he could install a detective that would parrot his theory to the court. He forged an autopsy report based on his theory and then put Jeff Master under the interrogation light for an entire year until he broke the man and weaseled a fake confession out of him. Sure, Gregory Edgeworth managed to nick his perfect record with a blemish for his misdoings (that obviously ended poorly for him), but with methods like that, it's no wonder he held onto his win record for so long.
      • How about poor Master's reaction to the interrogation? After seeing him cheerful and energetic in your first encounter, returning to the detention center to find his hair has turned white and the life has completely left his face is horrifying. He gets better with some chocolate, but you're left to wonder just what, exactly, von Karma has been doing to the poor man...
    • It doesn't help that his "Objection!" voice clip makes him sound like a demon.
    • Running into him at the police station, in the same case, is horrible in and of itself; he catches you off-guard, then TASES you and Maya and steals your evidence. Yes. He really will do anything.
    • The situation leading up to the DL-6 Incident was pretty frightening and riddled with Adult Fear. A nine-year-old Miles Edgeworth, his father Gregory Edgeworth, and Yanni Yogi got into an elevator, only for an earthquake to leave them stuck and in the dark (literally) for five hours. As the oxygen inside began to run out, they became increasingly panicked and disoriented. Yogi freaked out and started attacking Gregory in front of Miles. In dazed desperation, Miles did what he could to help his dad: by throwing the bailiff's loaded gun at them. His last memory was hearing the gun fire, followed by a man's scream. Gregory Edgeworth was found in the elevator, dead from a single shot to the heart, and his son spent the next fifteen years wondering if he killed his own father.
    • And then comes The Reveal, which is arguably scarier: When everyone had fallen unconscious from the lack of air, von Karma opened the elevator door, saw his rival helpless and a gun at his feet, and decided in that instant that destiny had delivered Gregory Edgeworth into his hand.
    • And one final bit of Fridge Horror, this time from Gregory Edgeworth's perspective: summoned back from the dead as a last-ditch effort by a police force who couldn't find any decisive clues to his murder, he is asked who killed him. But he didn't see it: he was already unconscious by then. All that he knows is that only two other people were in that elevator, and one of them was his own young son. If he admits to not knowing, his death and the specter of guilt will hang over his son's head for the rest of his life. So his very last act in this world was to lie, to accuse a man who turned out in the end to be innocent, because he had no other choice if he wanted to protect his son. Talk about Adult Fear.
    • And last, but hoo boy, most certainly not least, come the revelations from Investigations 2, where another bit of detail is added to DL-6. That evidence von Karma is supposed to have forged? For once, not his. The Chief Prosecutor who gave him his penalty? There you have the culprit. Why did von Karma have the forged evidence? It was slipped to him so said Chief Prosecutor could have a scapegoat. In other words, if it weren't for Chief Prosecutor Blaise Debeste, DL-6 wouldn't have happened.
  • During 1-5, security camera footage of Officer Meekins' run-in with Jake Marshall (disguised as Goodman) in the evidence room is played. While it's already quite uncomfortable to view in the context of the case, especially given that this is the only usage of 3D full motion video in the game, the fact that Gumshoe's Blue Badger is the focal point of the footage while "I Want To Defend!" plays on repeat makes it that more unnerving. Even worse; you have to re-watch the footage a good few times to point out contradictions for Meekins' sake, with some viewings of the footage having no sound at all.
  • Damon Gant. The whole character is terrifying once he finally drops the mask of being an oddball gentleman. It's the real-life fear of the Corrupt Cop that's using his authority to imprison innocent people, who will be believed over you by anyone in a position of authority even if he has to blackmail them into going along with it, who has no moral problem with abusing the full extent of his power to further his own goals, and against whom there is very little recourse—what are you going to do, call the cops?
    • His infamous stare, which can make many players uneasy. Not to mention that his stare isn't nearly as creepy the first time you see it, since he still seems like a goofy man that's incidentally the chief of police. The problem is, every time he does it, the stare goes on for even longer than the last time, and there's no music playing while he does it. By the time you sneak into his office and he catches you, he stares at you for so long in utter silence that it feels like he's looking directly at you, if not for his blinking.
    • The blinking makes it even more terrifying, although his subtle menace while in his jolly persona can be a lot more eerie than his stare.
    • Even when he breaks down he's scary. Everyone has a Wild Take. Not everyone has a Wild Take that involves them GOING SUPER-SAIYAN.
    • When he finally takes the witness' stand for the final time in 1-5, he doesn't do so by simply being called up by Phoenix or Edgeworth; no, he decides to make his presence known by objecting to Lana's cross-examination out of nowhere, before you can even press her opening statement. It should be noted that no other witness in the entire series has interrupted someone's cross-examination, proving just how much power he has against Lana.
    • Not to mention how, whenever he enters a room, the temperature literally rises. Seriously, between that and his silent stare... what the hell's up with this guy?
    • This sprite of Gant in particular is creepy - not just because of the chilling face he pulls, but because he only gets that expression at the end of some of his dialogue, so your first glimpse of it will usually be just out of the corner of your eye as you move on to the next character's dialogue...
    • His final breakdown, which is just pages upon pages upon pages of insane laughter as he claps at higher and higher speeds. Bonus points if you're prone to seizures, because unless you're playing the HD version or on an emulator, the game will flash multiple times during the entire breakdown.
    • If you are careless with a certain, very decisive piece of evidence, you can get Ema convicted by accident, and a single line of narration states that the case became Unwinnable from that point on since the defense's entire case just imploded due to the letter of the law. Then the "Guilty" text appears on a black screen. Followed by the sudden, signature closing of the courtroom doors.

     Phoenix Wright: Justice for All 
  • The whole game is incredibly dark, much more so than its predecessor. No wonder it’s considered the awkward game in the trilogy.
  • Phoenix's nightmare with that horrifying Nightmare Judge. It returns in 2-4, only this time it's as real as the situation.
  • Richard Wellington's breakdown in Case 1 deserves its own entry. Nothing quite like someone strangling himself with his own scarf until his skin actually turns blue. And his scream actually gets louder as he's choking himself (as denoted by the text suddenly being in all caps)... Really doesn't help that Bach's 'Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor' is playing while this happens.
  • The way Dr. Turner Grey gets murdered, when he and Maya Fey enter the Channeling Chamber to perform a séance to channel the spirit of Dr. Grey's Nurse. They both close their eyes, the murderer sneaks up on them, drugs Maya, puts her in the clothing box behind the folding screen and stabs Dr. Grey in the chest. Before he died, Dr. Grey managed to fire a shot, but he missed and the murderer shoots him in the forehead at point-blank, killing him. It would have been worse if he was unable to fire a shot because then he would have died of blood loss instead, which is already painful itself. In addition, the gunshot is the reason Lotta and Phoenix break in. Without the gunshot, there would be nothing stopping Maya Fey from receiving a wrongful conviction.
  • The end of Case 2, after the celebration scene, features Morgan Fey against a solid black background while her creepy Leitmotif plays, talking about her plans to knock Maya, her own niece, out of the picture, so that sweet, innocent Pearl can become the new Master of Kurain Village.
    • During the same case, Maya says she had a dream that basically describes being buried alive. Again, as more of the case comes to light what was really going on is revealed but at the start, it's still pretty unnerving to hear someone explain such a sensation.
  • In Case 3, Acro's situation is horrifying on many levels: His brother is in an irreversible coma because of a dangerous dare that he pulled to get Regina to like him, he himself lost the use of his legs trying to save said brother, and every day, Regina would take care of him. That's right: the unwitting participant of his brother's accident was with him all that time, saying innocently that Bat became a star in the sky since he's no longer at the circus - while his brother was, in fact, in a coma with debilitating brain damage. A brother who he visited by himself at the hospital multiple times, with the incessant company of the too-sweet and innocent princess Regina waiting for him at the only home he's ever known, for six whole months. It's no wonder he snapped. The situation was so unbearable that he contemplated the idea of suicide, but didn't go through with it. And when he thought he finally had a chance to get his vengeance, he ends up killing his beloved parental figure by accident. The man is completely and utterly broken, which you get to see once the case proceeds for long enough.
    • Bat's accident is terrifying by itself. Putting your head in a lion's mouth only to have him clamp his jaws down on your head with no method of escape or making him let go.
  • All of Case 4. It might be the darkest case in the series. The atmosphere from after Maya's kidnapping up until the final verdict is really unsettling and scary throughout. Also, be smart when presenting your evidence. You might get a bad ending if you aren't very careful.
    • Here we have the truth about Matt Engarde. The adorable, somewhat ditzy actor turns into a scarred, cold-blooded sociopath, who treats people like things and only cares about himself and his celebrity reputation. It's scary even if you had known from a walkthrough or otherwise that he was guilty because it's just so unexpected.
      • He drove his former lover to kill herself. It isn't just the act, it's how she came to do the deed. She was dumped by Engarde when he got bored of her, and when Corrida, who was in love with her (and the feeling was mutual) and was going to marry her in three days, found out she was Engarde's former lover from Engarde himself, which resulted in Corrida then calling off the wedding. All to protect his pride, stemming from his childish rivalry with Engarde. She was used as a poker chip in a fight between two celebrities who let their hatred of each other warp everything and everyone around them, and she basically killed herself so Engarde could never hurt her again.
      • His Villainous Breakdown is scary in its own right; when Engarde's attempt to Blackmail Shelly de Killer backfires, he tears his own face to shreds, screaming "GUILTY" over and over.
      • If you put yourself in Phoenix's shoes, then The Reveal itself is Nightmare Fuel. He thought Engarde was truly innocent, but then more and more shady things end up surrounding his client. After pressing him further, Engarde reveals his true colors; he's not innocent and never was, he's a thoroughly sociopathic bastard, and worst of all, if Phoenix doesn't help him get away with his crimes, Maya would die. To work for somebody whose actions stand against your moral code when you're a good man trying to do nothing but the right thing, let alone when your best friend's life is on the line, is a complete nightmare. The resulting case forces him to overrule his own ethical code just to earn more small portions of time for Maya to be found, in a courtroom that becomes more and more hostile to him personally as Phoenix (in the eyes of the onlookers) knowingly and deliberately drags out the proceedings even when his client is blatantly guilty of the charges, and you can see the guilt beginning to gradually tear him down with every new piece of nonsense that he's forced to create whole cloth.
    • The Reveal itself is jarring for the player as well. Up until now in the series you've defended people who were clearly innocent, and you fought hard to get them the acquittal they deserved. But Engarde is clearly guilty, he takes pride in being evil, and you're supposed to defend him nonetheless and get him declared innocent, or Maya dies. It's a huge shock to the system to be confronted with a situation like this out of nowhere when you thought this game was about being loyal to justice no matter what. During the case, the player is forced to constantly make up totally incorrect objections and debunk solid evidence, essentially having to hide the truth of what happened until the hostage situation ends.
    • Shelly de Killer deserves a mention. With his Leitmotif playing in the background and a red aura surrounding him... you'll have nightmares for weeks. Not only that, but he has stitches going right down the middle of his face, from forehead to chin. What the hell caused this guy's face to need those stitches?
      • And to top it all off, this man, who not only was the actual killer of Juan Corrida but also of countless others, is never found and incarcerated. He's still out there, free as a bird waiting to perpetrate more hired hits. Just pray his next victim isn't you.
    • His politeness and nonchalance about his profession is chilling. His manners are perfect to a fault, even when being questioned on the stand (though a radio, that is) and if you press him on certain statements, he'll ask Pheonix if he's interested in becoming an assassin or he'd like to put out a hit on someone. Also, a special mention to when the Judge gets frustrated with de Killer's rhetoric, and he promptly but quietly asks the Judge if he'd like to die. He immediately shuts up.
    • The first instance where you're forced to make a choice between a 'Guilty' or a 'Not Guilty', with the 'Guilty' option resulting in Maya's death, and the 'Not Guilty' option resulting in Adrian Andrews taking the fall for Matt Engarde's crimes. While you're fretting over which choice is the right one to take, the screen is frozen on Matt Engarde's sneering face, as if he was looking directly at you with malicious glee. During this event, you cannot even save your game. You're forced to make a choice right then and there. Fortunately, after making your choice, Franziska snaps her whip and barges into the courtroom with new evidence in hand to help Phoenix finally turn the tables on Matt Engarde. But that frozen moment where you have to choose between justice and your best friend's life is terrifying.
  • Announce The Truth 2002, while being an awesome song in its own right, can be downright creepy when played during some parts. Notable examples include Acro claiming Phoenix to be insane, several moments with de Killer, and Ini Miney/Mimi trying to suffocate herself with her hat.
    • And then there's the haunting Search ~ Core 2002 theme, which plays at the most appropriate time in this game: when Engarde reveals his true colors and becomes your first ever not-so-innocent client, revealing that he was the one who had Maya kidnapped by an assassin in exchange for a 'Not Guilty' verdict.

     Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations 
  • Dahlia's "back-turned" pose from Case 1 is very disturbing in its own right. There's just something darkly unsettling about seeing her back to you with that heavy shade across the side of her face. Like getting your first glimpse into hell itself. It's actually more unnerving than what follows when she faces you with a Death Glare and incinerates all her butterflies with her pure rage. Just watching her stand silently, looking away and feeling the anger course through her can send chills up your spine.
    • Then she reins it in after Mia finally nails her, calmly states that she's going to spend some time with the "boys in blue", and promises that she'll meet Mia and Phoenix again, heavily implying that she's going to try to murder them as well once she is released from prison. That has to be some Paranoia Fuel for Phoenix, the only surviving member of the pair and previously head-over-heels in love with a cold poisoner that only used him as a method to hide evidence.
  • Case 3 starts off in the most unsettling way, making it seem you lost the case without even having a chance to defend it, having Winston Payne mock your defeat, showing that "the other man" was Phoenix Wright, it all makes it seem that YOU were guilty and no one believes the Defendant mentioning this "other man". Then it reveals, right after the "Game Over", that a terrible trial was enacted by Phoenix Wright and then Phoenix himself mentions he wasn't in such trial and that a retrial would be in order. Through the case you find out there was a phony Phoenix and that the performance you watched at the start of the case was not with Phoenix himself, but rather of his phony, "Xin Eohp".
    • Whatever Bruto Cadaverini does as part of his duties as The Don of his crime family, something the player can only imagine since he's never actually seen in-game beyond his portrait and profile, it sure as hell is scary enough that nobody questions him whenever he demands something (e.g. money) from them. Not even Furio "YOUSE TALKIN' TO ME?!" Tigre is gonna mess with a million-dollar debt he caused by getting into an accident with Cadaverini's granddaughter.
      • Speaking of Bruto's granddaughter, Viola herself can be rather unnerving character. An Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette Mafia Princess who speaks in a slow, creepy way, acting incredibly polite and courteous while casually threatening your life, without so much as changing her expression. The first lines you ever hear from her are her threatening to burn down Armstrong's restaurant if he can't pay off his debt, then telling him she'll stab him if he tells anyone else. And that's before you even learn her name.
  • The conclusion of Case 4, in which Terry Fawles, the defendant whose acquittal is just inches away from happening, kills himself on the witness stand. Not only is it heart wrenching, but also quite horrifying because he dies in the courtroom before your very eyes. It's no wonder Mia didn't set foot in a courtroom for a year after the incident (remember, this was her first case).
    • And to top it all off, Armando looks Mia dead in the eye, squeezes his mug until it shatters, bleeds profusely, and tells her she can't cry yet while blood drips from his hand.
  • Case 5: We witness Dahlia getting exorcised out of Maya's body, letting out a scream, and in her final on-screen moments takes the form of a very creepy ghost before turning into a flame and vanishing, while flashbacks to her crimes go off. For bonus points, her final text box actually seems to flicker out as she disappears- an effect used nowhere else in the game- as if Dahlia isn't just being exorcised from Maya, but from the game itself.
    • The same case gives us a seemingly unremarkable moment which, if you've been following the game's story closely, can give others a run for their money. In the final investigation, it eventually turns out that Sister Iris has a twin sister. You most likely already know who she is. You're also certainly aware of her true nature. Then, her portrait is brought up, and it's a side-face photo; no other character had that kind of a portrait before. And then, there's nothing on that photo except for a dark grey featureless silhouette. Combined with the description "Age: Deceased", the shock was enough to make eyes water. Now, you wouldn't want to miss out on this, would you?
    • If we're going down that road you have to also mention this mugshot (in HD-quality just for extra chilly points) from the previous case, Turnabout Beginnings. Again, same as before: you can easily tell who this is supposed to be and you know what she's capable of because this isn't the first time you've seen this character. But all you're given is a shadowed, featureless mugshot to go by, even though the outline tells you right away who you're dealing with. Going back to the "back-turned" pose from the top of the Trials & Tribulations section, this strikes the same unsettling chord. Stare into it for awhile and, combined with what you know about the character, it will make your blood run cold and linger in your mind. It's as though someone was asked to draw a picture of Dahlia Hawthorne's soul.
  • On the subject of Dahlia... She killed two people, got a third to commit suicide, poisoned a fourth into a coma, planned on poisoning a fifth, and placed the blame for the death on one of the aforementioned two people she killed on the would-be poison victim (the actual victim just tried to warn him), and she almost got away with it, not because she could call a massive amount of resources like Redd White or Matt Engarde, not because she had done an inside job like Manfred Von Karma, but just because she was a pretty faced sociopath who put the judge in her pocket with her cute looks. She stands out even more due to lacking an over the top gimmick like the other criminals (until after she's dead, that is, unless you count her superficial purity and butterflies as her gimmick). How many Dahlia Hawthornes are out there in the real world, escaping punishment because they don't look the part? (Engarde was a celebrity variant of the same deal, but at least in private he ''did'' look the part.)
  • Remember the Dahlia silhouette? Well, The Reveal of the real killer in "Bridge to the Turnabout" likewise goes for subtle Show, Don't Tell tension and a Mood Whiplash payoff instead of outright confirmation. The lights go out... and suddenly, there's an ominous red glow coming from a certain new Affably Evil prosecutor you've probably come to love. And his reaction? A quick chuckle and congratulations, no comedic coffee-throwing or anything like you've come to expect. Sure, he ultimately turns out to be a Sympathetic Murderer whose action was actually half-justified (in contrast to Dahlia, who was ironically his intended victim).
  • The "Psyche-Locks" appearing in the Inner Temple, blocking entrance to the Training Hall. It was creepy when the first one appeared, but it really became nightmare fuel when they increased in number. On the second day, an earthquake hits, Edgeworth (Iris' escort) faints, and Iris runs away. You hurry to the Inner Temple, and after the familiar sequence of chains and locks appearing, you find that the single lock on the training hall door has increased to FIVE. We have no idea what the fuck is happening, and at that point, it almost felt like the cave was a living creature piling lies on lies to stop us from getting to the truth.
  • Morgan's entire plan in this case? She waited for her own daughter (Dahlia) to die, then waited for her other daughter (Pearl) to channel that daughter, so that she could kill her niece and frame her third daughter (Iris) for it. Especially if you look at it from Maya's perspective. Had the plan gone as intended, she would have been killed by Pearl. Had it went as it was, without Godot's timely arrival, she would have been killed by her own mother. All of this so that Morgan could live off her daughter's success as she hypothetically ascends as the head of Fey Family.
    • On the subject of the plan's execution, had the plan gone as intended (Pearl channeling Dahlia) without Misty's intervention but with Godot's, the plan would have backfired in the most horrific way; the crime scene would have been a 9-year-old girl stabbed by a sword. Godot lampshaded the possibility during his confession.
    Godot: That night, in the darkness of the garden when I saw her silhouette... A part of me must have known the truth... The truth that it wasn't really Dahlia Hawthorne standing in front of me.
    Godot: It could have been Misty Fey, or even that little girl. But I still picked up the blade... It was like I was dreaming!
  • Maya's expression when she is cornered by Dahlia Hawthorne in the Hazakura Temple's garden is particularly chilling, especially when it's accompanied by the sound of someone being stabbed. In spite of her expression only being the first sprite of her comical 'shocked' expression, it doesn't detract from the unsettling mood due to how well Maya's wide-eyed look of shock and terror fits the scene.

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