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Nightmare Fuel / Public Service Announcement

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"...but really, I should have cleaned up the grease over there."

"I was scared of death before I saw that. Now I'm scared of life!"
Russell Brand, on old British government PIFs

Attentive readers may notice that the Nightmare Fuel examples that come from Public Service Announcements and Public Information films vastly outnumber those that come from normal commercials.

This is no accident — the idea is to drill into people's heads that one instant of carelessness/inattentiveness/failure to heed basic safety rules and regulations, one thoughtless comment or act of anger, one decision to smoke/drink/use drugs can (and often does) result in lifelong consequences, including severe injury or death and emotional scars that last a lifetime.

Talk about Well Intentioned Extremists - some people indeed believe that Scare 'Em Straight tactics — graphically showing the consequences — are the only way to shock the target audience into following safety rules and regulations at every moment. Or, in the case of abuse of others, be they animals, women, or children, to immediately report wrongdoing and ensure that the wrong-doers face justice stat.


The other side of the coin is that many of these are simply Brutal Honesty at its finest. When the predictable result happens, it frequently isn't pretty. However horrific these little morality tales may be, if they mean that someone doesn't get splattered across the pavement without the aid of CG, they have done their job.

The truly daring can watch one or more of these countdowns of some of the scariest PSAs and PIFs, which you can find in the folder below. Some of these countdowns have been compiled and uploaded by members of YouTube's community of PIF reviewers and connoisseurs. They know what they're talking about. Also, discretion is advised - there's some pretty nasty stuff in there.

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    Countdowns and Compilations 

Due to the vast quantity of ads that could qualify as Nightmare Fuel, the following topics have their own pages.

  • Health (alcohol, smoking, drugs, diseases, medical awareness and dental health)
  • Safety (including children, fire, fireworks, guns, vehicles, crime and the workplace)

Cruelty / Violence / Personal Concerns

    Animal Cruelty 
Remember all those times as a kid you were told "owning a pet is a big responsibility"? Well, this is what they were talking about.
    • A cinema ad from the late 80s (rated 18) started off with a dark, slow zoom in on a dog with an instrumental "How Much is That Doggy in the Window?" song being played over it. After a while though, the dog looks to his right and sees a gun pointed at his face with a voice over telling us to give them (the RSPCA) a pound, or otherwise, they'll have to pull the trigger, either giving us the message that if they don't get enough funds, they might as well stop what they're doing or have to kill off animals they can no longer take care of (due to overbreeding). It could possibly be sad as well, particularly due to the sad look in the dog's eyes... or it could come off as funny, if you live in the US and remember this strangely similar National Lampoon magazine cover.
      Narrator: Please give us a pound, or we'll have to pull the trigger.
      • Unsurprisingly, the ad provoked a massive outcry, and was quickly withdrawn. A television variant was significantly calmer, as a child sings the song instead, the background is gray, and there is no gun at the end.
        Narrator: Before you give someone a dog this Christmas, please count the cost.
    • This 1990 public information film from the RSPCA about abandoning pets. We see a dog in a dark room getting blindfolded while the camera slowly zooms in on his eyes while dramatic timpani rolls play. While all this is happening, we're told that anyone who thoughtlessly gives a pet as a present, could be condemning it to death, because every year thousands of pets end up unloved, unwanted, and abandoned.
    • Another RSPCA cinema ad from the early 90s titled "Sam" involves a dog being placed in an oven whimpering as the announcer compares the heat in the oven to the heat in a locked car on a hot day. It ends not telling you of the dog's fate as you hear one last whimper. Also, the BBFC rated it "U", meaning they found it suitable for 4-year-olds and above.
    • "Kitten". A longer spot than those named so far; close-up of an adorable ginger kitten's face, apparently sleeping peacefully, while a hand strokes its head and the narrator placidly wonders what "they" dream about. Cut to RSPCA officer Mike rushing to a scene while the dispatcher warns that she's "got a nasty one" for him. A tearful woman indicates some unnamed person in her household has thrown the kitten against the wall, and it is no longer moving. A moment later officer Mike leaves the house with a sober expression, carrying a small cloth bundle; fellow officer peers beneath and remarks "poor little mite". Cut back to the opening scene where the narrator observes that animals are not toys or punching bags and that in a better world "we'd be looking for a new home for you." Pull back to see the person stroking the kitten was the vet who could not save her. The kitten lies on a steel table, with a tiny RSPCA body-bag and zip-tie waiting nearby. Nightmare Retardant can kick in when you consider the fact that No Animals Were Harmed. Said kitten really was sleeping on the cold metal table during filming. In addition, if you pay attention to the final shot, you can notice that the cat was replaced with a fake one (compare the thickness of the ears and the overall pose for reference).
    • "My Little Puppy". Done in the style of a really saccharine toy commercial, it is actually a scathing commentary on people who buy pets with no thought that pet ownership comes with responsibility — training, housebreaking, regular feeding, actually paying attention to them. The anvilicious ending pulls no punches in condemning the attitude that pets are as disposable as an unwanted toy.
    • "Swim" was produced by the same company that brought us the anti-fox-hunting film with the shot of a real carcass (see the Wildlife folder). It is shot in a first-person view of two dogs following their owner, who is supposedly taking them for a swim. However, the ad takes a turn for the worse midway through, where all of a sudden the dog says that he's "Never been down this way before... usually we go where there's more people." Things get even worse when the dog notes that it feels colder than he can take. Then, he notes that it's "so cold that our friend puts us in a sack to keep us warm!", just as he covers up the camera with said sack. And at that point, we know exactly what he's about to do. And if you couldn't figure it out by then, after the RSPCA hotline is shown, we see the owner tying up the bag before presumably throwing it out into the canal. Rated 15 for cinema release.
    • "Yard" works in much the same way as "Swim", except here it follows the POV of a dog locked in the titular yard, wondering what it was she did to deserve this punishment, and thinking about how tired and thirsty she is. Her vision blurs as she is dying from dehydration. She then comments "Just like to see my friend once more, to say sorry for the terrible thing that I did. Wonder what it was..." as a ball lands next to her, and she sees two kids looking over the fence at her. Unlike "Swim", it's clear that something bad is happening from the start, and it ends with a third-person shot of the police arriving to take away the abused dog, giving us the slight possibility that she might be saved. Rated 15 for cinema release.
    • "Comparison" is pure unadulterated Body Horror, contrasting the life cycle of a free-range chicken with that of a broiler chicken. While the free-range chicken slowly grows healthy, the broiler chicken, which is bred to grow faster, will develop bone deformities and difficulty breathing.
    • "Oven" starts off ominously, then gets worse. Much like "Sam", it involved animals in an oven (although with chickens this time instead of a dog), but it's just as bad, if not worse because at the end, after the text about chickens suffering in overcrowded sheds, we hear the real sounds of many live chickens suffering inside a factory farm. And yes, it received a U rating from the BBFC despite this.
      No chickens suffered in the making of this commercial. Unlike the millions we believe suffer in overcrowded sheds each year.
  • From the National Canine Defence League, "Spot the Difference" shows us two identical dogs. One dog was bred in a puppy farm while the other dog wasn't. The puppy farm dog was deprived of human contact, may develop all kinds of diseases and will prove to be a dangerous hazard to children. Can you tell which is the puppy farm dog? Neither can the narrator.
  • Australia's RSPCA often makes lighthearted PIFs in contrast to their UK cousins, but a few of them stand out for being quite unsettling:
    • "Hit" shows a man beating his wife when suddenly the woman's cries of pain are replaced by the sounds of a dog getting beaten. A caption then appears coldly telling the audience that 37% of violent criminals abused animals in their childhood, and the RSPCA runs programs to teach kids to respect animals.
    • "Cruise" shows actual images of sheep being crammed onto a ship for trading in appalling conditions presented as a slideshow. All the while, a narrator pitches it as if it were a cruise ship. The grimy filter put over the images and the brooding music don’t help.
  • A somewhat unsettling cinema PIF from the National Canine Defense League (currently known as Dogs Trust) that's apparently rated U shows a simple shot of a tired and sad dalmatian lying on a red blanket. The camera slowly zooms out to reveal that the dog is locked in a cage, presumably in a shelter while a haunting instrumental of "Silent Night" plays. The ad closes with the dog curling up dejectedly and the tagline "A dog is for life. Not just for Christmas." Not to mention that the ad was sponsored by Disney, and has a link for kids to play a "cyber-puppy" game.
  • An organization called Compassion in World Farming created an 18-rated PIF for theatres called "Welcome to the Battery" encouraging people to buy free range eggs by giving audiences a glimpse into the lives of battery farm chickens. It starts with a bespectacled David Graham informing the audience that they will soon be confined to cages "for your protection", that eating, sleeping, and defecating will cause discomfort and that their teeth and nails will be surgically removed ("This greatly reduces incidents of cannibalism."). Why? Because they are about to become part of "one of the world's most cost-effective production systems." "You have nothing to worry about." Cue real footage of chickens in rows of cramped cages in a battery farm. "This system has been tested on 45 million specimens. With, I might add, your approval. Welcome to the battery." We close on one sickly-looking chicken which seems to be having trouble breathing as CIWF implores you to buy free range eggs. ("They don't cost this much.")
  • These ASPCA print ads are certainly short and not at all sweet. They show an animal and two other objects and claim that the things ASPCA have seen are worse than any scenario your imagination can put together with them. The creepiest one of them is definitely the one that involves a dog, a video tape, and a jar of Vaseline.
  • This Animal Aid PIF takes this trope one step further by depicting an electronic toy puppy being euthanized by having a needle injecting it.
  • Animals Australia made an ad to denounce the Australian pork industry's inhumane conditions for their livestock. They do this by animating a pig named Lucy in a slaughterhouse confined to a tight cage to talk and voiced over by a little girl, who complains about her condition. A narrator afterwards tells you that it is commonly accepted that pigs have the intelligence of a 3-year-old child. What makes this deeply unnerving is that the background noises throughout the ad are made up of children crying, meant to represent other pigs in the slaughterhouse. There's also the fact that the pig in the video continually stares directly at the camera through most of the ad...
  • A PIF from the Scottish Government (cert. 15) has a first-person perspective and a child's voice-over, as a man takes takes the child to a suburban house, where he sells her to a woman who "still wanted me, even though I had no papers". We're led to believe that the ad is about to deliver a message about human trafficking. The ending reveals it's something else entirely.
    Narrator: I'm from a puppy farm, and in a week, I'll be dead.
  • World Animal Protection released a PSA on YouTube against factory farms. It begins with the phrase, "Ever heard the sound of suffering?", before asking the viewer to raise their device's volume up. After a few seconds, you hear the loud sounds of squealing and suffering animals, combined with flashing visuals of animals in factory farms. Needless to say, warnings have appearing on social media asking those with panic attacks and anxiety to leave the video, as the ad is unskippable and plays out in its entirety.
  • Sneha's Care, a company in Kathmandu, Nepal, released a short film called "Tale of a Dog". A dog (possibly a Shiba Inu) named Snow is with his owners at the park. The little girl who owns Snow is playing fetch with him. Unfortunately, the ball travels too far away and Snow is lost after being distracted by an inflatable toy zebra. A man tries to help find Snow to no avail. As the family puts up wanted posters, Snow is repeatedly abused. He nearly has his zebra taken and is pushed by mean kids, and has water dumped on him. He falls asleep in a box and a cruel chef hits him with a broom when he wakes up. Snow later becomes hungry and bursts into the cafe, scaring a girl. The chef is so furious that he poisons some food and feeds it to Snow with an evil smile on his face. Snow slowly attempts to limp home, still carrying the zebra. His owners are outside waiting for him. The little girl is distressed at the sight of her poor dirty dog. A black-and-white flashback plays, revealing that her first zebra toy popped and Snow wanted to bring her a new one. Snow's eyes then close as he dies from the poison and his family cries. The message of the film is even if you hate animals, please do not hurt them. You'll be fearing for your pet's life after watching this.
  • This 2001 ad from Spain advocates against gift animals by having a dialogue of a little boy begging his mother to give him a puppy for Christmas juxtaposed to videos of miserable looking stray dogs. The real kicker is the last clip of the montage, as it shows unwanted dogs getting corraled by a pound and finally the shot of someone euthanizing a dog with a bolt gun in a small Jump Scare.
    Narrator: Every Christmas, thousands of parents say yes when they should be saying no.
  • Another Spanish PSA from 2001 describes some nauseating situations. We have children sitting in a brown room speaking about what they do to kill animals, such as pulling feathers off birds, taking heads off lizards, etc. We also get to see unsettling shots of animal corpses, including one of a cat.
    Narrator: If you want to teach them to love people, first teach them to love animals.
  • This horrifying 2014 ad from The Humane Society starts by showing a literal happy meal. Said meal's smile quickly turns into a frown as it cuts to a graphic montage of chickens and chicks suffering abuse in the farms, including a chicken with a broken leg and a chick bleeding very profusely from the head. It ends with the narrator urging us to take action by contacting as we pull back to the still frowning happy meal.
    Narrator: McDonald's calls them "happy meals"... or are they more like unhappy meals?
  • This one from Japan shows a dog getting executed in a gas chamber as the poor dog whimpers and cries while tapping on the glass barrier, desperately wanting to escape. We then Smash Cut to a tagline informing us that 45,000 dogs and cats get shoved in a gas chamber every year. And to top it all off, we get to see another dog locked up in a cage getting shoved into a gas chamber, ready to be executed. Don't throw away your pets, indeed.
  • The Humane Society collaborated with Taika Waititi to make a 3-minute stop-motion short titled "Save Ralph" that was uploaded to their Youtube and Vimeo accounts on April 6, 2021, to help ban animal testing for cosmetics. The short features an all-star multinational cast (such as Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Rodrigo Santoro, Tricia Helfer and other actors) voicing characters in the short. The short is focused on Ralph the rabbit (voiced by Taika Waititi) talking to an off-screen documentary crew talking about his daily life in a testing facility inside his house. At first, it appears mundane, but the rabbit is clearly in terrible shape (blind in his right eye, his right ear can only hear ringing, and he mentions "chemical burns on his back") but tries to shrug it off. Eventually, a live-action human hand grabs Ralph and prepares him for another day at the testing facility. Before it begins, Ralph encounters four rabbits that just arrived and asks Ralph to get them out of there. Ralph then tells them that he's filming a documentary, and the four rabbits ask Ralph to tell the viewers to help save them. Suddenly, a human hand appears and begins squirting a chemical substance into his eye with Ralph trying to act calm but yells profanity that gets bleeped out as the four rabbits start panicking and screaming. Also doubles as a Tear Jerker since Ralph reveals that his family has been living their lives in an animal testing facility.
  • Peter Dinklage narrated this sickening video titled "Face Your Food", which reveals the dark secret behind milk, eggs, and meat as Peter treats you to the sight of many animals facing brutal ends at slaughterhouses (but the worst sight is with no doubt the scene where chickens are throat-slitted en masse). For non-vegans, it makes you feel disgusted and guilty about what you eat. For vegans, it's a reminder about why they turned to vegetarianism in the first place.
  • IFAW did an anti-puppy mill PSA called Suzy Puppy for their P.U.P.S. campaign which is disguised as a toy commercial, advertising a toy puppy named Suzy, accompanied with cheerful music. As the little girl puts her down, we see that the toy puppy is suffering from the deadly parvovirus, severe conjunctivitis (pinkeye) that is so bad her eye is oozing pus and bulging out of her head, and diarrhea as the girl gets increasingly more worried. When the girl presses the toy's paw, it whimpers. The narrator says that Suzy's owner spends her life confined in darkness. We then see the scared little girl holding Suzy as we're informed with the dog's severe sickness, she'll probably be dead in weeks. The video ends with the poor little girl burying the toy dog in the yard as we hear the music becoming distorted and slowing down.
  • Back in 2018, the Human Farm Association uploaded two disturbing videos on their Youtube channel that had stop motion chickens telling the viewers how the people who owned battery farms were making it so that said battery farms were legal despite the horrible conditions their chickens are kept in. Just hearing the chickens cry out for help and chanting "We'll never get out! We'll never get out! We'll never get out!" is enough to linger in your mind.

    Bullying, Racism and Discrimination 
Consider this a smarting reminder that picking on, or targeting anyone for mistreatment, is not harmless.
  • "Broken Toy", an anti-bullying video. The shots of the children are grainy in a documentary style, with mumbled, very real-sounding dialogue. It features a young boy who was constantly being bullied; at one point he manages to make a friend with another boy, who is later shown having to move away. Eventually, the boy is taunted so badly that he's pushed out into a street, gets hit by a car, and nearly dies. One of the really scary things about this video isn't so much the video itself as the fact that schoolyard bullies can really be this bad. It proves that kids aren't always good, they can be rotten too. note 
  • One extended PSA made by the same producers called "Tears on the Highway", with a similar message to the above one, was shown at local elementary schools and kindergartens. It features, again, a young boy being bullied on a school bus full of children. As the situation escalates from the bullies verbally abusing the kid to a fist fight, the bus driver gets distracted. This proves to be a mortal mistake on his part, as he ends up getting in a full-on collision with a semi-truck, killing nearly every child on the bus, including the young boy (there's no Gory Discretion Shot either — you watch as these kids die horrible deaths). As the video ends, a camera zooms into the boy's smiling face as the scene fades to red. Need we remind you that this was shown to kindergarteners?
  • A 1980s-era anti-hate PSA, in which we see a cartoon man walk towards the viewer with an increasingly red and angry face that gets bigger and bigger until said face fills up the entire screen and then explodes. In the background, we can hear a song: "When you hate/who do you hurt the most?/Hate hurts YOU!" In this case, the angry cartoon man's face exploding is timed to go along with the "YOU!" part of the song. Here's the ad in question on RetroJunk. The full version of the ad began with said cartoon man walking from a distance before heading towards the viewer, and the narrator did not sing but had an echoing, ominous voice, "Hate. It's a poison that erodes. It's an acid that corrodes. Your body, mind, and soul." That version scared children, and they had to tone it down.
  • An anti-bullying PSA showed a kid being bullied, and each day the bullies get more aggressive, and on the final day you see the kid standing on a chair — he kicks the chair away and his legs stay suspended, and immediately, you can tell that he's been Driven to Suicide.
  • This Israeli anti-racism ad. Not only does the heavy metal rendition of Israel's national anthem sound scary, if you happen to know the Hebrew lyrics, things get worse.
  • This PSA about racial acceptance, which features claymation animated shoes.
  • A chilling 1998 anti-sectarianism PIF from the British government's Northern Ireland Office begins with showing a group of toddlers happily playing with toys in a nursery, accompanied by Diana Ross's "Do You Know Where You're Going To" playing in the background. All seems well, until a radio begins delivering harrowing news stories about crimes delivered by sects (including a teenager who had been crucified to a wooden fence with metal spikes through his knees and elbows). As the radio continues, the room goes dark, and the toddlers begin crying as the toys in the nursery suddenly become ominous and threatening. The PIF ends with the tagline "Heal the hate. Free the future." on a white background.
  • This PSA from Japan discusses "Ijime" (Japanese for bullying or intimidation). It shows a group of schoolchildren wearing eerie white masks, complete with narrow slits for their eyes and mouth. Luckily, the ad begins to take a lighter tone when the schoolchildren then remove their masks, revealing their smiling faces underneath. Also helping is the cheery music in the background and the image of a white mask clattering to the ground concluding the PSA.
  • Ad Council ran this terrifying anti-hate advert in 1992, showing actual photos of Nazi and Ku Klux Klan rallies and civil rights protests while an electronic screaming noise is played over and over again. This was shown on daytime television where kids were most likely watching. Later broadcasts of this advert don't show the middle part, possibly due to complaints.
  • One ad from Japan focused on social bullying through social media. It features a Japanese school girl posting offensive messages, but after each text, she goes to her bathroom again and again, and we realize why: the posts are appearing as tattoos on her hands and face, and she is attempting to remove them. It only gets worse when towards the end, we see her face covered entirely in the messages. The lesson of this ad: if you post malicious messages, they will never disappear, and you might have to regret it.
  • One parody of Celebrities Read Mean Tweets started off lighthearted enough and even has a laugh track playing in the background. But the laugh track becomes quieter and quieter as the tweets become increasingly more mean-spirited. Eventually, even the music completely grinds to a stop as a girl reads the final tweet: "No one likes you. Do everyone a favour. Just kill yourself." She then walks away and the tagline appears on screen "Cyberbullying is no joke".
  • The United Arab Emirates' du Channel put out some very disturbing spots on the dangers of posting horrific acts on social media. The worst part is that these are all Ripped from the Headlines:
    • This ad features a POV shot of a young woman, presumably a maid, making a suicide attempt by jumping off her apartment's balcony. The wife of the person she was working for, who was arguing with her husband off-screen, comes in the kitchen with a threat that she will share her actions with her master and everyone else if she doesn't come back to her. The maid gets distracted and slips off the railing, and despite the woman's attempt to save her, she loses her grip and splats on the street, with the woman having it recorded on her iPhone.
    • Another ad shows a POV shot of a boy applying his headscarf on and making his way to his locker. As he pulls out a notebook while looking at his headscarf in the mirror, two bullies confront him by slamming the locker shut. One boy not only pulls the scarf off of his head but whacks him with it, while the other bully records it on his iPhone.
    • Things go up to eleven is this spot. A young woman notices the smoke alarm going off in her room and walks to the door. When she opens the door (using a scarf as the handle is burning hot), a fire breaks out in the hallway. She runs to the window and tries to scream for help as the flames spread to her room, but no one listens, and a bystander on the street even has it recorded on his iPhone.
  • Fabiosa Belle released a video entitled "Sofia", based on a true story. Sofia is a 14-year-old girl who is treated worse and worse each day at school by three other girls. On the first day, she has mud thrown at her after winning a spelling bee and is called a "dork". Next, she has her face slammed into her locker while the girls insult her appearance. Then, after she says hello to a boy at school, the girls confront her outside at night, call her a "whore", rip her clothes off, and take a photo. Everyone laughs at Sofia the next day while she runs home crying. After each bullying incident, she cries on her bed and stares up at the ceiling. On the final day, she is bawling her eyes out in her room, having flashbacks of each bullying incident. She then leaves her room and comes back holding a rope. It is then shown that she hanged herself from her ceiling fan.
  • Several channels owned by ViacomCBS ran this PSA in the wake of protests after the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. It consists of nothing but nearly 9 minutes of the phrase "I CAN'T BREATHE" fading in and out while a person takes a deep breath in the background, plus a message every 30 seconds asking viewers to call on public officials to take action against Police Brutality. Even more terrifying? This PSA's almost 9 minute length is the same amount of time that Derek Chauvin had his knee pinned down on Floyd's neck.
    • The Viacom-owned Nickelodeon, aimed at children, opted for a considerably less ominous PSA in place of the "I Can't Breathe" one, which consist of a text scroll on repeat telling kids that they have the right to be treated equally (the Nickelodeon's Declaration of Kids' Rights, originally written for the grand opening of the Nickelodeon Studios production facilities at Universal Studios Orlando in 1990). Nevertheless, it's still jarring to see the peppy ending of The Loud House suddenly transition to dead silence, and this PSA's length is also equal to how long Chauvin had pinned down Floyd. The creepier PSA somehow ended up playing on Nick Jr., which is a preschool channel.
  • This 2009 public information film shows a girl playing with a piece of thread while a song plays. It then turns out that she has sewn her own mouth. This ad was eventually banned on TV and continued to be shown in cinemas with a 12A rating.
  • This ad from John Grooms features a woman, revealed to have down syndrome at the end of the ad, performing gymnastics while a disembodied voice claims that disabled people are worthless and "pieces of meat" that don't belong in society. Already unsettling as it is, but the ending makes it worse when the ad asks you if you think it's from the Third Reich, only for the text to say that it's from the "The thoughts of a Mensa Los Angeles member published in 1995." It definitely does not sugarcoat the ableism that people with disablities have to deal with.
    Sadly, ignorance is still the most debilitating disease we face.

    Child Abuse 
Abusive Parents can be played many ways in fiction, but in Real Life? Not so much.
  • A 2007 child sexual abuse awareness PSA called "Monsters" plays upon the common childhood theme of monsters hiding under the bed and in the closet. As said situations play out — red eyes from under the bed and tentacles from the closet — and those monsters are proven to be imaginary, the voice-over narrator explains, "It's very easy to hide from monsters under the bed... and in the closet." But the boy (presumably named Dallas) lies wide awake, panting nervously and fearfully as the narrator continues about the real monsters. Cue the door opening and a young man, ominously covered in shadows — his exact relationship with the boy is not explained — enters the room. The scene cuts to the window as text explains to viewers that in most cases, child sexual abuse victims know their abusers (who hence are the real "monsters") before the tagline "It's time to stop hiding." And if that's not enough, the PSA is also topped off with a dark atmosphere, disturbing music, and creepy children's laughter in the background, just to add to the scariness factor.
  • The Irish equivalent of their neighbors' NSPCC, the ISPCC, produced this PSA that quickly becomes very graphic. In it, a young boy bravely recites his intentions to become an activist when he grows up, all the while suffering increasingly brutal abuse at the hands of his dad, culminating in the father attempting to crush the boy's ribcage beneath his foot.
    I can't wait until I grow up, until I have the right to be happy, to be kept safe, to be kept warm. To feel loved. To be listened to, to be heard. To never ever ever ever cower, or tremble, or shake, or to have my innocence punched or kicked or screamed away. I'll fight for the rights of children like me, who don't have a childhood. I can't wait until I grow up.
  • An ad for France's Enfance et partage is very unsettling. It starts out normal, with two men and a woman eating lunch. Then, all of a sudden, the woman slaps one of the men, and the other man drags him away and starts brutally beating him up with a belt. The worst part is the end where it ends with the tagline "Ceci est une reconstitution. Dans la realite, la victime a six ans."note 
  • Britain's leading voice against child abuse, the NSPCC, is responsible for a lot of these.
    • An advertisement from 1999, titled "Can't Look". It shows teddy bears in the sort of wallpaper you'd see in a baby's bedroom, a mug with Rupert Bear and an Action Man figure, a poster of England football player Alan Shearer, and a Smash Hits magazine featuring The Spice Girls all covering their eyes, over the sound of off-screen child abuse (there's a man molesting a girl, a father yelling at his son, a boy locked in a closet quietly crying for help, a man showing pedophilic interest in a boy, and a woman yelling a Big "SHUT UP!" at her crying baby and presumably beating it, due to the sound the baby makes at the end), the message being that covering our eyes doesn't stop bad things happening. In fact, the ad was so disturbing that it drew 150 complaints, 76 of which were from former victims of child abuse. The alternate version is arguably worse, as the audio in the Spice Girls bit is changed to a girl begging her father to stop. The fact that there's no announcer to accompany the music just makes things worse.
    • "Cartoon Boy" shows an animated boy being abused by his live-action father, with Amusing Injuries that are out of keeping with the seriousness with which his father attacks him - including being set on fire by a lit cigarette - culminating in the boy being launched down the stairs, only to finally be shown as a real child, no longer cartoonishly affected but lying either unconscious or dead at the foot of the stairs. "Real children don't bounce back" indeed.
    • One disturbing campaign from 2006 was run in the style of a mock Fairy Tale about a 13-year-old girl who, just like Cinderella, was left alone at home while her family went out on the town. The advert ended with a fire starting and said girl being trapped, presumably dying, with no way to escape, all while "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. plays in the background.
    • Another one began with a man creeping into a girl's bedroom, only to be trampled by fun runners before he can do anything, with the message that you can raise money for the NSPCC through fundraising events. The scary part in all this is when the runners' arrival is heralded by a runner in a rabbit outfit looming ominously out of the darkness, accompanied by the blaring wail of an air horn.
    • This ad about victims of abuse being unable to speak out against their abusers is horrific. The puppet girl is especially creepy.
    • These three ads are so horrifying, they will make you hug the nearest baby you see. One shows a man snapping a pencil in anger as his child cries, and the ad tells us that a baby's arm isn't much stronger. Another one is worse; it shows a child in the hospital either dead or unconscious, with the horrified doctors and nurses working on him while the narrator outlines his brutal injuries including brain bleeding. However the child's okay - his eyes are open at the end. The final ad is the worst one of all, and shows us a woman slowly growing annoyed with her wailing infant and then spinning around to shake the child. ("Shaking a baby can cause brain damage.") Although her movements look more like a slap. To make matters worse, the ad ends before we see what happens.
      ”William will survive this time, but what’s to stop him from being attacked again?”
    • Yet another campaign. Unsurprisingly, the ad was pulled due to the masks (used to represent how children cover up sexual abuse) being deemed too realistic and distressing for children. (The TV one, at least; there were also magazine ads.)
    • "The $#*! Kids Say" starts out cute, with kids saying strange things. However, as it progresses, the things they say hint at abuse. This includes a little girl shouting at another, and a girl saying "I'm a mistake, it's always my fault". It's an excellent use of Fridge Horror to get the point across.
    • Another one shows a young girl (named Ellie) placing a doll on her bed, who then says: "My name's Mandy. I can sing and play games. Will you hug me?" and giggles. Ellie then leaves the room upon hearing her presumably abusive mother sternly calling her name downstairs. The doll continues: "You can tell me all your secrets. My best friend Ellie tells me hers. Her mummy comes into her room and punches her..." and continues to repeat "and punches her" over and over until the end of the ad.

      The one they made for boys is arguably even worse due to the dingy bedroom and the implication that the boy is locked in a cupboard just out of shot. There's also a horrible irony in that the toy robot, despite its mission to “protect Thomas from his daddy”, is just a toy and can't actually help.
    • This terrifying one against child pornography begins with showing a man on a laptop, with his back facing the camera. He walks away from the laptop upon hearing the doorbell. As the camera zooms in on the laptop, a child suddenly appears in it, pressing their hands against the screen as a Scare Chord plays.
    • One ad opens with a little girl magically changing her surroundings by saying "Click!" as she heads home from school. It's fun, up until she actually makes it home. At which point, she gets more tense as she sits on her bed, helplessly and uselessly repeating "Click" as someone approaches her room. That's how it ends.
    • One from 1991 shows a group of kids playing hide and seek while a music box theme plays in the background. The music suddenly turns from cheery to unsettling as we see a scared child hiding in the kitchen as a narrator explains that hiding isn't a game for abused children.
    • Another one with the same premise and made years later starts out innocently with a happy little Romanian girl playing hide and seek with her friends at her birthday party. After they all pick their hiding spots and she finishes her count, ready to find them, it suddenly cuts to another little girl, only she's hiding in another closet, is dirty, has tears in her eyes and is so terrified of what's to come that she soils herself. The ad then says "For an abused child, hide and seek isn't a game."
    • This 2000s ad begins by introducing us to a kid named Katie, who is sitting on a swing all alone, who doesn't think anyone can stop her abuser from coming into her room at night. We are then introduced to another named Alex, who is kicking a ball into a wall and walking around, who doesn't know who can stop the violence that waits for him at home. Then, we're told that children living with abuse and neglect often feel no one in the world can help them, all while we see a girl walking around a place with dead-looking trees. We then see a crying baby bawling its eyes out all alone in an eerily lit room while the announcer pleads us to give two pounds a month. We then see Alex walking around again, which cuts to a girl looking at the camera with sad-looking eyes. The atmosphere is quite creepy to some, but it definitely works as a Tear Jerker as well.
    • This ad starts off with a little boy walking into his house with ominous music, we cut to him doing his homework on a table, then looking up at someone (possibly his abuser) with a scared looking expression with a creepy blue filter added to it, accompanied with a Scare Chord. We then see a child looking into a bag for something, then looking at the camera with a scared looking expression with his fingers on his lips, accompanied with the same filter added to it. We then see a sad-looking girl in a dark room sitting on a swing, then looks up at something off-camera. We then see an abusive parent tearing up his/her son's homework, while the son looks at his mother with a disappointed look on his face.
    • This old ad from 1986 shows school students leaving school. An announcer then explains to us about a child that is all alone with no one to collect him and is neglected. We then zoom and pan to the boy walking to a tree and standing next to it looking all lonely. The black and white filter makes this ad unsettling.
    • Another one from 1989 shows a man getting ready for a boxing match, all while a Drone of Dread plays in the background. We then find out that he is actually fighting a child.
    • This one from 1992 shows still photographs of children set to Chris Rea's "Tell Me There's a Heaven", with a caption underneath giving an excuse for why this particular child has been injured, and another caption showing that the excuse didn't explain the other injuries. Each revelation is more damning than the last; A boy underwent an X-Ray that showed seven unreported fractures, one girl having weal marks on her back, one boy having cigarette burns on his arms, and one girl having been reported by a coroner that she had multiple bruises, internal bleeding, fractured ribs, malnutrition, and dehydration.
      Tagline: There's never an excuse for abusing children. There's no excuse for ignoring it. We don't accept excuses.
    • This radio ad from 2005 puts an interesting spin on the Has Two Mummies trope, as the girl talks about her two mums and how alike they are: They share the same first name (Sarah) and have long brown hair, and they both like to wear jeans, watch Coronation Street and eat pasta. According to the girl, only one of her mums is around most of the time. She plays with her, chooses clothes for her, takes her to school, tells her to tidy her room... and sometimes gets angry with her, leading to this Wham Line:
      Girl: That's when my other mummy appears. She's the one who hits me.
    • This disturbing ad features a father abusing his son. We don't actually see the abuse happen, but the audio makes it very obvious what is going on. Making things worse, subtitles appear explaining how the neighbors know the child is being abused, but they won't do anything since most people don't know what to do. The final subtitle explains that the NSPCC has a special hotline for these situations. The child telling their father to leave them alone and the sudden screaming from both of them at the end, don't help either.
  • Many years ago, there was a PSA about child abuse that showed a jack-in-the-box playing a lullaby tune, before the payload sprang forth - an archaic baby doll with a porcelain head - to the sound of a baby crying. Then, out of nowhere, a baseball bat swings around and smashes the doll's head. And it played in the middle of a block of daytime cartoons.
  • There was a child sexual abuse PSA in Mexico that showed a little girl in a blue room playing with makeup, expressionlessly. A man out of nowhere appeared, the girl looked up at him and he took her to somewhere else. To make matters worse, it was always played before Barney & Friends.
    • Also from Mexico, a 2003 PSA from DIF Nuevo Leon only shows a dark shot of a barrel while we hear a baby crying. It fades out to the phrase "No tires una vida a la basura." (Don't throw a life to the trash can.) on a black screen as the crying gets louder. Short, but to the point.
  • The US organization Ad Council released this PSA, titled "Word Pictures". The advert shows various insults written in crayon on a white background, while various adult voiceovers shout the abuses (including "I hate you!"). At the end, drawings of crying children (also in crayon) appear along with the Ad Council logo.
  • There was a Public Service Announcement in Taiwan that showed a red liquid dripping onto the floor from a table. The camera then panned up to show that it was coming from a spilled glass of milk, with the liquid turning from red to white, with a caption about a toddler whose abusive parents beat him up and suffered a brain hemorrhage for spilling his milk. All while you can hear a child joyfully saying something that cuts out as soon as it shows the blood, and you can hear a child creepily whispering over the tagline.
  • From the NCPCA, "Children believe what they hear..." One of the earliest promos for verbal child abuse.
  • Barnardo's, a British charity that works with vulnerable children, is well known for these. Its greatest hits include:
    • A TV and poster campaign showing underage prostitutes with digitally aged faces to show that sexual abuse has stolen their childhood. The NSPCC later did its own version with adults speaking in children's voices about living with molestation.
    • A series of posters featuring distance shots of people who have died horribly (through murder, suicide, drug overdose, etc.) with text explaining that they really "died" as children because of abuse or neglect.
    • Images of babies snuggled up with rats and cockroaches because they are trapped in substandard housing.
    • Print adverts (eventually banned for causing "widespread offense") featuring a newborn baby with a bottle of harmful liquid in their mouth, with the slogan, "There are no silver spoons for children born into poverty." A TV advert of this campaign also exists, showing a live cockroach crawling out of a newborn infant's mouth.
    • An advert that began with a group of men going out to hunt "parasites" and "scum" that "destroy lives", stating that "something must be done". We're led to believe that they are hunting verminous wildlife, but they instead begin shooting at a group of teenagers, culminating in them screaming "TO HELL WITH THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS!". The advert states that every line of dialogue in the film was a quote about children, made by members of the public on the website of a national newspaper.
    • Children talking about their goals and dreams for the future and what really happened to them due to the grim reality of life's uncertainties:
      • Running a sweets shop, but instead overdosed on heroin before her 20s.
      • Becoming a ballerina, but instead became a prostitute.
      • Growing up to be a firefighter that helps people and puts out fires, but instead he robbed a gas station and killed two people.
      • Becoming a Hollywood star, but she instead froze to death in a doorway (meaning that she grew up to be homeless).
      • Playing football (soccer) for England, but he instead became an abusive father.
    • A young man (early 20s or so) talks to the camera about how his life is going well - he's a new father, he likes his job, and so forth. But then he states that he still has nightmares, and as the camera moves, every time an object covers him or his face is off-frame, he's a little younger, and his story gets a little worse. Eventually he's a very young boy, covered in bruises, whimpering about how he's scared. The message is a good one (a bad beginning does NOT have to lead to a bad ending), but the delivery stings.
  • This radio PSA from 2006 about Internet paedophiles has two young girls talking about a girl that their friend Sal met on the internet. She's 17 with her own car and wanted to meet them, but Sal didn't want to go. One of the girls wonders whether Sal went alone, and the other reflects that she hasn't heard from her since.
  • Another PSA on Internet and chat room safety was made for TV with a bright-looking and attractive 16-year-old communicating with someone she believes is her age, and that he can't wait to meet her. Reveal the other side of the conversation, and it's actually a middle-aged man, and the viewer is left to draw their own conclusions about whether the meeting took place.
  • There's a brief ad that was shown before movies in the United States that features a little girl treating her doll the way her mother treats her. Sadly, the mother hasn't set a good example, since the little girl is violently shaking the doll and yelling at it.
    Girl: There, there. Stop crying. [angrily] I said, stop crying. [raising her voice] Stop, I said, or I'll give you something to cry about! Look at you! You're filthy! [throws her doll in the closet and slams the door] Stay in there until I get back!
  • The fact that many abusers can appear to be loving parents is the horror in this one. Look at the little girl's face. The long version has her looking back through the window. This is from Childhelp. They also did this one with the same theme.
  • A radio PSA about sexual exploitation had a man describing how he uses child prostitutes. The ad becomes creepier and creepier as he says he likes very young girls and doesn't have to bother using condoms with them. We're led to believe that he goes abroad to find them, but at the end he says there's no need for him to travel, when he can get child prostitutes in his own home town.
  • By all rights, this ad should be complete and utter narm. While the subject matter is appropriately horrific - that children who are sexually abused have to live with their trauma for the rest of their lives - the visual metaphor used to represent said trauma can really only be described as a elongated mass of flesh with a phallic complexion (in other words, a giant penis snake). On paper, that sounds simply too vulgar to be taken seriously. In practice, however, it's one of the most revolting things you will ever see. Especially as it slithers out of the woman's casket.
  • An Indian PSA for the Prayas Foundation is very simple and unsettling. A cursor slowly moves over a still image of a smiling girl. It starts off innocent enough, but the cursor moves down to the girl's chest and crotch areas. This goes on for a while before it fades to black with the tagline "Thankfully, she did not feel a thing. But millions of children are not as fortunate."

    Germany made their own version which is even more horrifying. In this one when the cursor moves over the picture of the kid, the sound of a man getting off to it is heard in the background. It's bound to push all the wrong buttons.
  • A PSA from the Ad Council and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children features a grown man talking about chatting with teenage girls online and how easy it is to gain their trust (by playing on their insecurities and acting more mature than boys their age), while a young girl talks about how she enjoys the attention she gets from older guys on the Internet. As the two finish each other's sentences, it quickly becomes clear that the man does not have the girl's best interest at heart. And then there's the ending.
    Girl: I know what I'm doing. If you really care about each other, there's nothing wrong with—
    Man: Meeting is the goal. Once I get them out of their house, well... that's when things get really interesting.
    Narrator: Online predators know what they're doing. Do you?
  • The Nobody's Children Foundation in Poland made these two macabre print ads. Claiming that "you can lose more than your patience", they depict physically abused children with parts of their faces and limbs broken off as if they were porcelain dolls. Body Horror at its finest. It's hard to say which one is worse: the crying toddler or the little girl laying limp at the table with a Thousand-Yard Stare.
  • One creepy print ad from Casa de Menor in Spain featured a young girl standing alone in a room naked, with several disembodied hands covering her body in a way that resembles a dress, implying that she had been molested. There was a similar ad from another company that featured a teenage girl, also in a hand dress.
  • This advert from the Scottish Government has the voice of a pedophile speaking through the character on a girl's phone case.
  • One PSA for Unicef has a young boy working on what appears to be an innocent art project. Upon finishing, he attaches each piece of cardboard to his body and, hearing his door open, crouches down to form a realistic-looking dresser drawer that he uses to hide from his abusive father. Upon the father coming into his son's room, he ogles it for a long time then leaves, giving us the implication that just because it worked that time, doesn't mean that it'll work the next...
  • A horrifying radio ad for the German child abuse charity Hansel and Gretel Foundation begins with the ostensibly wholesome sound of a little girl laughing hysterically, before the narrator tells the listener that if they can recognize that the girl is actually having an orgasm, the charity will find them and put them in jail, and if they don't, they should donate money to help out. There's a link here, but you'll probably feel like you'll end up on a list just for having heard it.
  • This horrifying South African PSA has a man, implied to be HIV-positive, raping his daughter off-screen while a woman listens via a baby monitor. The fact that she can only sit there and listen in horror make the whole thing ten times worse. The PSA becomes much worse when the ad ends with the tagline "If you won't stop him from raping her, who will?" when the whole point of the PSA shows a woman helpless to stop a girl from being raped.
  • This PSA for the organization Child Cry has a dark house at night, that appears, at first, to be an implied evening of passion between lovers. There's a soundtrack of sensual funk music as we see the trail of clothes leading up to the bedroom. But then; The true stomach-churning nature of what is really going on is revealed when the last things we see are a tiny sneaker, a little stuffed lamb plushie, and worst of all, a small child's tiny pink panties. For extra squick; During the lead up, you can faintly hear a man mutter in a very deep, sleazy, "porny" voice, "...mah baby girl... I will feel yo body...".
  • Kansas City Star's "Lessons From My Neighborhood" videos. There's one about two boys watching their mother shoot heroin, a girl who is starving since her mother can't afford food, and what to do in a shootout. Their book "Welcome To My Neighborhood" is even worse: the cover looks cute enough, but there are broken beer bottles on the ground. "Dinnertime" features an impoverished family of anthropomorphic cats rationing food, but the stories get scarier from there. "The Good Man" features a rat's crack-addicted boyfriend violently beating her daughter, and "My Big Brothers" features three rabbits committing bank robbery and murder (complete with a frog's bloody bullet wounds). Granted the third brother was about to be raped, but the way he strangled that opossum was just gruesome. Now you understand why adorable animals aren't always meant for children.
  • This Japanese PSA for stopping child labor. It features a child worker putting an S.O.S. in a pair of pants. Even worse, when a shopper finds the note, he drops it and leaves it on the floor, leaving the child's fate unknown.
  • There is a series of three ads by Prevent Child Abuse Utah that feature the disembodied voices of children over colorless environments that briefly give details of evidence that suggest abuse, then pleading with the viewer not to "look the other way", all while terrifyingly eerie music plays in the background. See for yourself.
  • There was once a commercial from The Night's Guard that showed a young brother and sister duo pretending to be a knight and a princess, respectfully. All is fine and well until their drunken father comes charging up the stairs towards the room, but instead of a normal human shadow, there is the downright scary image of a dragon where it should be on the wall. Thankfully, the children are rescued by children's services before the father/"dragon" could do anything to them, but still...
  • This rare spot features a creepy engraved teddy bear with a baby crying in the background. To demonstrate why shaking a baby can be fatal, the bear shakes rapidly and the baby's crying gets louder. Once the image becomes completely blurry, we zoom out to reveal the teddy bear is on a baby's tombstone. That right there is unsettling.
  • Unicef's series of PSAs made by various different animation studios about the various rights that children should have includes some frightening entries (many of which use Mood Whiplash to make their point).
    • Italian television company RAI came out with this one, which is about child labor. A young boy and girl are shown playing soccer, when they accidentally kick the ball into a window. The ball gets thrown back out, and we zoom into the building to see a young boy in a sweatshop making hundreds of soccer balls. The shot of tons of children playing with balls at the end clearly shows that the kid won't be getting any sort of break for a long time now. The (arguably way too happy) music doesn't help.
    • Hanna-Barbera subsidiary Fil-Cartoons made one about the protection of children during war. It shows a boy thinking of him and his friends going to school and doing fun activities such as fishing and breaking pinatas, only for the music to become sadder as we zoom out from the boy's eye (the Single Tear he sheds and Art Shift to a more realistic style only help) and show that in reality the kids are all soldiers, implying that those happy times were all in his imagination, or even memories.
    • Fred Wolf's contribution shows a young boy with a plush dog seeing a man get shot in his front yard. When he goes to sleep, he and his dog cower under the covers as his toys scatter out of his toy box and a robot kills them all before making a manic grin. Fortunately, it was All Just a Dream and the young boy goes outside without fear... but not before a final shot of his plush dog falling to the ground with gunshot noises. note 
    • Danish studio A. Film decided to show us a toddler hugging his doll. We cut to a silhouette of a hand dropping coins that turn into screaming children, before the same hand catches them again. We cut back to the boy, who is then dragged away by an unseen adult (presumably the same person as before) and drops his doll, implying that he just got kidnapped. It doesn't help that the lullaby-like music barely changes. note 
    • The entry from German animation studio Hahn Film AG note  starts off with a young girl in her pajamas sitting near a man (presumably her father) reading a newspaper in an armchair as she's putting ribbons on her teddy bear. Her mother gives them both goodbye kisses and pretty much immediately, things get unsettling. She tries to walk off, only for the man to slowly trod on her teddy bear and the last shot is his shadow looming over the poor girl as she looks up at him in horror.
    • Wang Film Productions contributed with a short that starts off with a framed picture of two parents and their son, but a bullet passes through it, it droops down, and the parents in silhouettes start yelling at each other with various weapons appearing to represent the tension, as a green helmet below the picture walks away, before opening a door, showing us the child in the image was hiding in it. Obviously unhappy with his parents' neglect, he looks at us as a Nightmare Face slowly emerges on him and a Scare Chord starts playing, implying that the circumstances are going to make him just as violent.
    • Matinee Entertainment's cartoon starts out with Delivery Storks dropping babies on a city, but as the babies fall, they suddenly look up in horror to see some planes with Nightmare Faces drop nukes with equally creepy expressions that carpet bomb the city (with shots of a church, school, and hospital shown before they are blown up). The ad ends with the babies landing on the smoking ruins of the city, looking frightened and hopeless.
    • Cinar note , of all companies, created what was arguably the worst one of the bunch. We see a girl and her dog jumping around in the hills and catching butterflies. Then they jump into a land mine. Even worse is that although you can't see them when the mine blows up, the lullaby-esque music switches to a Drone of Dread, and the PSA cuts to a realistic drawing of children who are either bandaged or have prosthetic parts note , and all look fearful. Needless to say, if you replace this PSA's Nightmare Fuel with a more Crosses the Line Twice tone, it would absolutely work as a Robot Chicken parody.
    • This one from Big Star note  focuses on child abuction, where a little girl plays with her ball while her mother is watching her. When she goes farther from her mother the music changes and a pair of 2 dark hands are trying to grab her. It reveals that the hands belong to an old, creepy man. His face becomes bigger but a cage locks him up with a hard sound.
    • In this video about children in warzones, a little girl is trying to make a sandcastle, but doesn't succeed because of the tanks. After that it shows 2 soldiers playing chess with tanks, while the little girl (on the chessboard) is looking around her. The dramatic piano music doesn't help.
    • One of the very few stop-motion animation cartoons accompanied by creepy music shows a prison with various strange cellmates. The last one is a little boy, playing with his toy and a sad expression on his face.
    • This entry from BRB Internacional has a toddler is asleep in his bed, when he begins having a disturbing nightmare about babies being abducted by a judge and sent to random people. One of these babies happens to be him, and is whisked off. At that moment, the kid wakes up bawling. His mother comes in to comfort him, making him smile.
  • UK counselling service ChildLine often made a few hard-hitting campaigns that both linger between being scary and saddening, and over the past few decades they've explored a variety of scenarios that are just too distressful to watch.
    • This 2000s ChildLine ad reminding us to call them. We see a girl coming back from school and walking into her bedroom and putting her drawer in front of her door so her parents can't come in. While all this is happening, we're told that when you've been abused, told to stay quiet or else, when we've been frightened that nobody will believe you, or your mom will get blamed, and you're scared of getting caught telling, but you're even more scared of what might happen if you don't, when the secret has never passed your lips before, it takes a lot of courage to call ChildLine. We then see the nervous girl calling ChildLine and waiting for them to pick up. Then, we're told that they can only answer half of the calls, yet three pounds is all it takes to answer a child's cry for help. The heartbeat in the background before she waits for them to pick up the phone is unsettling, and the fact that it is shot in black and white makes it more chilling. What's worse is that the phone doesn't answer before the ad ends, leaving the child's fate unknown.
    • Another ad begins with a scared looking child walking over to a public phone box and calling ChildLine at night. As soon as the girl says "Hello?", the phone hangs up at the point the narrator says that ChildLine needs more money, leaving the child's fate unknown.
    • A disturbing spot presents us with a series of inner thoughts from several members of the public, all of them involving how they want children to be abused, raped, and tortured. It is revealed at the end that these people were all ChildLine counselors, and only a third of children calling them get help.
    • This one shows children calling ChildLine from within the building with creepy visuals added. One girl mentions that she is hiding and that when her mother is drunk, she hits her, a boy mentions that he got punched in the face by some bullies and they threatened to start his sister, another girl (with a bleeding nose) mentions that her father isn't her real dad and that he always hits her. We then pan to another girl, who is shown to be dead as a tagline shows that only 1 in 5 calls to ChildLine can be answered by a counselor.
  • This 1988 British cinema ad from the Derbyshire County Council's Fostering Service. It begins with a boy walking into a kitchen where his foster mother is working. The mother accidentally knocks over some cutlery and apologizes, which is dubbed with the boy's previous mother which verbally abused him, with an unsettling Poltergeist-like effect on the audio. We then see the boy give his foster dad a drawing of a bike that he created, the dad is pleased with him and tells the boy that it's great, which is dubbed with the boy's previous father shouting at him to leave him alone. We then see the family having soup together peacefully, until the boy angrily pushes his bowl of soup away, still thinking about his abusive parent's voices in his head. The foster parents then calmly encourage him to try some while the traumatized boy looks at both of his foster parents.
  • This one from New Zealand features a woman in a playhouse. We see her invite "daddy" inside to try the chocolate cake that she made. She gets ready to cut the cake but accidentally knocks over some cups. The man is slightly infuriated at the situation, with the woman saying "Daddy's playing some silly games, isn't he?". We find out that he isn't as he gets ready to beat her up, and just as he does, we cut to a white screen with some text saying that last year Women's Refuge helped 10,000 children.
  • Two 2001 ads from the Japanese Ad Council discussed irresponsible parents, as they each show unsettling shots of disorder (the first is a messed-up kitchen, the second has toys lying around the room), with eerie silence (though some baby music can be briefly heard in the first one), coupled with distressing scenes of babies crying for their parents. Bad enough, but it's to be expected from ads like this. When we get to the end of both ads, there are very unnerving shots of both mother (first ad) and father (second ad) wearing pacifiers, implying that their irresponsibility made them put themselves after their children. Never has the term ManChild taken a creepy direction.
    "We find too many 'baby moms/dads' around us. Love your own baby before you baby yourself. Our children's future starts now."
  • This horrifying Portuguese PSA starts off with a man walking into an eerily lit basement while we hear some creepy music, accompanied by creaking noises coming from the ceiling light. We also see some photos, and some really freaky looking dolls. We then see the man taking off his pants and opening a drawer to get some panties as he starts breathing more heavily. He starts sniffing them and then decides to put them on his foot as he rips them. The camerawork in this PSA just adds to the horror. We hear a stern narrator imploring us to break the silence and speak out for children.
  • These three Canadian PSA's against online child sexual abuse all follow the same formula. Somebody introduces themselves, talks about their "superpowers", and then tells parents what they will do to hurt children.
  • One disturbing PSA from the Philippines from 1997 features a doll being held by a human hand in a dark atmosphere. As the hand grips the doll tight, the doll's cheerful expression turns into one that can be described as pure horror, with matching voices of pain, and is later dropped into a pile of other beaten-up dolls. What makes the so-called "Ripped Doll" PSA so creepy, and especially infamous among Filipino PSA enthusiasts, is not just its overt visual representation of child abuse, but also the usage of a creepy font to nail down the message. The disturbing nature of this PSA in particular is often considered why it was lost following its removal on YouTube until recently. The kicker? It was shown during National Children's Month, which is in October there.
    Narrator: Listen to the children. They cry from cruelty, being hurt, exploited, and asking for help. Stop child abuse. Their safety is in your hands.
  • Also from the Philippines, some of the PSAs from child abuse hotline Bantay Bata 163 can be really scary even to those who saw it as kids in the 90's. Most of it was about the evils of child abuse, child prostitution and the like. Even overlaps with PSAs regarding keeping them away from AIDS, one of them being done with chalk drawings for a 11 year old named Elsa, and how she was being abused and prostituted to the point she ends up shouting enough... and then it just goes back to the chalk drawing of just the girl, with the caption "ELSA... 11 YEARS OLD" while she introduces herself again that sounds like she's on the verge of crying. The girl's tone of her voice doesn't help. This PSA will make you never see the name Elsa the same way again. Have fun getting that nightmare off your head.
    "Elsa": My name is Elsa. My step-uncle was the first one who abused me. The next one is the owner of the house. They had pimped me, then take my pictures. There was a foreigner. I had many customers, the last one probably gave me AIDS. I don't want to do it anymore... I don't want to do it anymore!
    • Another shows children playing street games, but suddenly cuts to a bad situation, with the narrator saying that they can't play, because they end up being prostituted. One girl ends up having money thrown at her feet with older patrons jeering at her. Another having a boy with nowhere to run. The last girl's innocence about to go away because an old man has her in his hands, with the last one zooming to her eyes, full of tears. The last one's cries in the background doesn't help it being unsettling.
    Narrator: Stop child prostitution. Keep children away from AIDS. Report child abuse cases to Bantay Bata 163. note 
  • Also from the Philippines, albeit more recently, is the "Human. Hindi Laruan" (Human. Not a toy) PSA where the scene starts off with a little girl being happy that she was given lots of nice things and being groomed by her mom... only for the next scene to see she's being pimped online in what looks like a stream... of the same girl but in a really bad scenario. Her last call of "Mommy!" didn't help matters. It was one of two PSAs shown in celebration of World Day Against Trafficking in 2019.
    Narrator: Report online sexualization of children. Because a child is not a plaything.

    Domestic Violence and Personal Concerns 
Domestic Abuse comes in many ways for many reasons, though the physical kind is easily the hardest to look at.
  • "Children See, Children Do": The commercial starts off cute enough, with a kid mimicking her parent in their daily commute, up until you see she's smoking a cigarette just like her mum. Then it starts getting weird: some of it is unintentionally fun, such as a kid mimicking her mum while she's screaming at another driver and giving the bird, or the aforementioned payphone users start getting frustrated at the payphones, but most of it is pretty jarring, especially near the end when a kid is ready to punch his mum out alongside his abusive father.
  • These two American PSAs for the Family Violence Prevention Fund. In both ads, the creepiness stems from the fact that we only hear the abuse. The witnesses are either powerless to stop it, or simply don't care.
    • "Stairs". A little kid watches his father berate his mother for ordering a pizza instead of having dinner ready. The situation quickly escalates into violence ("DO YOU WANNA SEE WHAT HURTS?! THAT’S WHAT HURTS!!"). Their child does nothing but flinch and look at the commotion. It fades to black with the message "Children have to sit by and watch. What’s your excuse?" It doesn’t help that a creepy ambient sound plays as soon as the husband starts to scream.
    • "Neighbors". Made worse by the fact you can hear the woman blatantly screaming "I can't get up!" and the husband keeps taunting her. And then there's the fact the neighbors in the title just shrug it off and go to bed. "It is your business", indeed.
  • In the early 21st century, Canadian broadcasters began running a series of PSAs (from the Calgary-based domestic abuse action group Homefront).
    • One is aptly titled "She Spilled My Coffee!" in which a family is sitting in a restaurant. The father is served coffee by a young waitress, but she accidentally spills a little bit of it on the plate. She apologizes before the father curses at her, grabs her by the neck, slams her against another table, and sadistically spills the coffee pot on her body as she screams in agony and he slaps her, leaving her to slip off the table onto the floor and cry (or possibly fall unconscious). Worse, nobody stops this from happening, though they all do look shocked, especially the other waitress. Finally, as the father sits back down in his chair and the family continues to enjoy their time as if nothing happened, an announcer says "You wouldn't get away with it here, you shouldn't get away with it at home." note  The horrible display is made even worse by the fact that just before the man attacks the waitress, the reactions of his children show that even they, despite both being under the age of 10, just know the signals of when he's about to go off and have previously witnessed his abuse happening to someone else, suffered from it themselves, or both. This PSA was one of many made by Homefront in Calgary and, unsurprisingly enough, was considered controversial for TV. (Never mind the fact that the man calls the waitress a "fuckin' bitch" before he beats her.)
    • Another ad in the series that was also banned features an employee accidentally speaking over the manager during a board meeting, and being sadistically beaten in front of everyone. Like the "Spilled the Coffee" short, the co-workers sit in stunned silence rather than try to stop it (although they do go to help her, and the presenter leaves the office, presumably to get the manager's supervisor). note 
  • The UK charity Samaritans has made many a harrowing advert over the years:
    • This cinema ad from 1989 (rated 15) features a woman (supposedly named Saira) in a dark room who is talking to the camera about something, but the only noise that comes out of her mouth is some sort of horrifying, distorted electric-guitar noise. At the beginning, she seems perfectly content and fine, but by the end of the ad she's reduced to screaming through her tears as the camera backs out to reveal that she's stuck in a dark corner. Some text pops up in the bottom right that says: "THE SAMARITANS UNDERSTAND." The fact that the audience can get the gist of what she is talking about but are only hearing the electronic noise is pretty horrifying, because it feels like a massive guilt trip. She is opening up but nobody is listening or there to help her.
    • Another distressing 1992 cinema ad features the sounds of people speaking, talking about things like divorce, job loss, repossession, fines, etc. accompanied by wavy white lines swimming across the screen - which eventually form a telephone with teeth that emits a loud, harrowing scream, showing that the man on the receiving end of all this misfortune just can't take it any more and has decided to call the Samaritans. And worst of all, it received a U certificate from the BBFC.
    • Another advert, from around the time of the foot and mouth epidemic in the UK in 2001, shows clearly devastated farmers who have either had all of their livestock die or been forced to kill and burn them in an effort to contain the illness, as well as the mounds of dead animals that resulted and the enormous bonfires of livestock. Some of the things the farmers come out with are nightmare fuel alone: "I used to know them all by name... now they're just over there with their legs sticking in the air" being one of the nicer comments. All of this is set to Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings", of all things.
    • This one shows a man trapped behind translucent plastic, screaming and trying to stretch through the wrap, all set to a creepy rendition of Pink Floyd's "Is There Anybody Out There?".
    • This Christmastime 1998 ad features various people going through their own hardships, including a man beating his wife at Christmas dinner in front of their two crying children, a middle-aged woman (implied to be widowed) sitting alone at her kitchen table, and a divorced father breaking down over the fact that he can't spend the holidays with his young children. The deliberate Soundtrack Dissonance of Bing Crosby's "Deck The Halls" is in stark contrast to everyone's misery.
    • This one from 2005 shows some kind of parody of a grindhouse horror film, which begins with unsettling shots of a bike and a shoe in the woods, while we then see a woman running, which reveals that she is running away from zombies, as we see unsettling shots of them, with the woman panicking and screaming, as the synth music gets tenser. She then spots a ute and runs over to it, with the driver asking if she wants any help. However, the woman politely says that she is fine. After the driver leaves, the zombies come closer as the woman screams in terror and runs past a phone box, which has a sign that reminds us to call the Samaritans.
  • A cinema ad for a British rape crisis charity (rated 15) showed a woman in bed having nightmares, while a soundtrack plays of her being raped by a neighbour and then people saying various offensive, unhelpful, or Victim-Blaming things to her (such as asking what she was wearing and whether she was having an affair with the rapist). Eventually she wakes up and screams.
  • Housing charity Shelter ran an ad showing a family forced to live at a "bed and breakfast" (cheap hostel accommodation offered to the homeless) in a room the size of a solitary confinement cell in jail. Tempers begin to fray with the baby screaming, mother nagging, and father shouting. Eventually he lunges for his daughter because her out-of-tune music practice is irritating him; his wife gets in the way, and the ad ends on a freeze-frame of the guy about to violently beat her. You can see it here.
  • An ad for the US National Domestic Violence Hotline has a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" by Emy Reynolds playing while a woman stands in front of a bathroom mirror. Bruises continually form on her face and fade away, but become progressively worse. Text gives the ad's message that abuse doesn't stop on its own, further emphasized by the ending in which the woman quickly turns around as the screen cuts to black, suggesting whoever did this to her is about to do it again. The bruises on her neck also imply that just because she survived the abuse this time doesn't mean that she will survive next time, making this ad heartbreaking as well as horrifying.
  • One PSA from the early 2000s features a black-and-white image of a baby sleeping peacefully as an instrumental of "Brahms's Lullaby" plays in the background. It is also in the background that we hear the child's parents, yelling and arguing with each other. The images of their angry faces, yelling mouths and of the escalating violence (of dishes smashing and the parents striking each other in the face) are projected onto the baby itself. More angry shouting is heard, accompanied by violent images and the sounds of the baby crying and the wail of a police siren:
    Adult voice: I'm sick of this, I'm sick of dealing with you, I'm sick of this house, it's a mess—
    Another adult voice: I work six days a week!
    Adult voice: WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
    Another adult voice: Don't you ever talk back to me again! You just SHUT UP!
    Teenage voice: What are you crying about, brat?
    The last image is of the kid, now a young teenager, pointing a gun at someone off-camera as the screen then goes black and a single shot is heard. It then goes back to the sleeping baby, and a woman's voice then says "What a child learns about violence, a child learns for life." There are three versions of the commercial: the full length one of 30 seconds that ends with the gunshot, a 15 second one with the gunshot and another 30 second one that instead of the shot being fired, we hear a ghostly, unsettling silence.
  • There are some British adverts against domestic violence. One of them features a teenage boy verbally and physically abusing his girlfriend. The camera then cuts to his bedroom window, where he is outside, looking in on himself and his girlfriend, banging on the window and screaming at himself to leave her alone. The idea is a very good one, that if you could see yourself, you might think twice about domestic violence, but it's still creepy. There was also a matching set done for the girl of the relationship, encouraging her to speak out about being abused that's just as horrifying. They later made one for rape, and it's just as saddening.
  • This PSA about both textual harassment and dating abuse, which was made by Futures Without Violence as part of a campaign called "That's Not Cool". It depicts a girl being creepily followed around by her presumed boyfriend in a cell phone costume (including when she wakes up, goes to school, and spends time with her friends), who's constantly telling her to "text [him]" and eventually asks for her to send him nude pictures by the end of the ad. The radio version is even more unnerving: likening textual harassment to having an "angry robot" send texts for you, an off-putting robotic, monotone voice reads out the texts sent from the abuser. As the ad progresses, the texts become increasingly impatient and aggressive. The real kicker is the final text read before the female announcer speaks: "I'm waiting outside your house."
  • From Mexico's National Human Right's Commission comes this horror. It shows a happy couple talking about how their significant other is a wonderful and beautiful person. It then shows them spinning around in a field as the music slowly turns ominous, while the girl's face becomes worried and the guy's face becomes creepy. She asks him, "Why do you hurt me?", to which he replies, "Because you are worth a lot... of money", as he lets go and the girl falls into a dark room occupied with other girls as she cowers in fear.
  • An early 2018 PSA from Joyful Heart has a woman in a warehouse full of various other women on shelves as she's transferred via a forklift and cries out to them describing her rapist in detail, says that he left his DNA and asks, "That's enough to catch him, right? Right?" They represent the number of backlogged, untested rape kits that have been forgotten and which allow their attackers to get away with their crime (and that happens more often than one thinks, even in the present day). There are two versions of the commercial: a 30-second version where she is placed on the shelf with the forklift leaving and 60-second version where she says she can't get his voice out of her head and she is sat next to a woman after asking if they'll catch the man who shakes her head and mouths "no".
  • An unsettling ad from Portugal's Associação Portuguesa de Apoio à Vítima (APAV) note , titled "Perdeu a Esperança" ("She Lost Hope"), depicts a naked woman in a morgue, while the narrator coldly tells the audience her story: that she held out hope that her relationship with her husband would get better... but the hope only died when she died. All the while the camera slowly pans up to her battered body, including a horrifying close-up of her disfigured face, clearly showing that she was beaten to death. The ad concludes with the APAV hotline as the narrator asks any victim watching to drop the hope and call the phone number. If you dare, you may find the ad — alongside all of the other APAV campaigns, the majority of which focus on violence — on their website.
  • This creepy French ad from the Ministry of Justice starts off with a young woman staring at the camera without even blinking. She then begins to develop bruises all over her face. Over each of the wounds, we're given captions that alternate between "He loves me" and "He loves me not". While all this is going on, we hear a heart monitor beeping in the background which flatlines as the camera cuts to a dark hospital room, revealing that the woman is dead. A mortician then covers her face with a blanket, and we're told that in France, one woman out of ten suffers from marital violence.
  • On a similar note, France made another one in 2006, in which a woman gets harassed and assaulted by her husband for no reason. Dark enough, but the kicker is the end, in which the couple's kid kicks his mom in the midsection, having seen everything.
    Narrator: A man who beats his wife, is teaching his children violence.
  • This one from Woman's Aid begins with a woman leaving from work. When she gets out of her car, she sees her husband awkwardly looking at her. She then takes the elevator and enters her apartment, calls her husband, and spots some shattered glass and blood on the floor. We then see her husband walking behind her, causing the woman to quickly look back to look at her angrily. She gives him a cloth but he snatches it angrily and slaps her in the face with the cloth. The woman then looks at the camera telling the audience that they didn't agree to that and how it wasn't in the script. The man suddenly knocks her out on the ground, with the woman begging for help. It then reveals that they are in a film set as the man continues to beat the woman up. It was apparently banned on TV.
    Tagline: Isn't it time someone called cut?
  • This British 1994 ad from Refuge. This one shows women doing different things, while the narrator informs us about different statistics. The ad is quite tame at first until we get to the last statistic, which shows a woman's husband grabbing her, punching her, pushing her to the ground, and violently kicking her.
  • This British 2001 ad from Womankind Worldwide, rated 15. It basically shows a man abusing every fourth woman on street. One gets slapped, one gets called a "bitch" right in her face, one gets punched in the chest, and the last fourth one is revealed to be his wife, who is in his house, as the man walks inside.
    Narrator: Usually, it's hidden behind closed doors.
  • This one from Australia shows a home video footage of a wedding. All is good until we see the same woman banging her head on the TV and cracking it. It is then revealed that her husband is beating her up and yelling at her, all while we see the woman panicking, with her daughter just watching and doing nothing. The wedding music does not help at all.
  • There's a campaign called "It's a girl" making the rounds for the Canadian Women's Foundation. We start out watching a baby shower in someone's house and at one point, the new mother opens up a package and finds out that a relative has given her new baby girl a whistle. She's confused for a second but when the woman who gave it to her explains that it's a rape whistle, things become fairly clear. As the mood chills, the announcer explains how dire life can still be for women and we cut to the organization's logo and mission statement. (Though some have expressed concern over the unintentional implication that parents of sons needn't fear the possibility of abuse.)
  • This one from Women's Aid in 2018 begins with a woman asking her husband if he will be working late again, automatically making the man angry and begin to beat her up, and as he gets ready, we cut to a black screen. Then, we see the woman running to her room and shutting the door in the nick of time. Her husband tries to open the door. Eventually, he manages to break in and beat her up, and just as he begins to kick her, we cut to a black screen again. We then see the man having a smoke while the woman is grabbing herself, as the man gets ready to beat her up again, with the cut to the black screen happening once again. We then see the man leave the room while we see a child sitting on his bed while a tagline says that to watch the PSA unedited, you have to be over 18, or one of over 160,000 children living with domestic violence.
  • This Super Bowl Special PSA from No More during Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 begins with a victim of domestic violence calling the cops and disguising as a woman ordering pizza. The officer then gets confused for a second but then finally understands what she is doing and asks her if there is someone in the room and that he has an officer a mile from her location. While we hear all this, we get to see unsettling shots of stuff on the floor, dirty dishes, a dent on a wall, etc.
  • This horrifying PSA from 2002 features an actual 999 call of a child explaining that her mother is getting abused by her ex-boyfriend. We even get to hear her mother in the background shouting for her child to call the police. Once the police officer asks if the man has any weapons, the child responds with a yes. Suddenly, we hear a violent knocking noise as the child screams. The disturbing imagery does not help.
  • In late 2010, the Metropolitan Police released an audio ad featuring the distorted voice of a man screaming abuse at, and then brutally beating his partner. It concluded by asking the listener what they would do if they heard something like that going on next door.
  • A Canadian PSA has four different scenarios where a man breaks the fourth wall and whispering thanks to the viewer for not telling on him for his various acts of sexual misconduct, including giving another employee an unwanted massage at work, sending nudes of their girlfriend to his friends, drugging a woman's drink when her back is turned and worst of all, preparing to rape an intoxicated and barely conscious girl at a party while his buddies cheer him on. The commercial then breaks from the scenarios via a white-text-on-a-black-screen asking the viewer if they would speak or act out to do the right thing. Thankfully, the ad ends on a positive note with each woman thanking the audience themselves, with the boss being informed about the harassment (as the other employee is being dressed down by said boss with a worried look on his face), the girlfriend learning of the nudes leak before it got too big, the bartender being informed and managing to both tell the woman and give her a new drink and the girl at the party now conscious and being led out by two friends.

    War and International Concerns 
Let's take things to a higher scale. If you thought that War Is Hell for the soldiers, imagine how hard it must be to live in these war-torn lands.
  • The Unicef PSA where The Smurfs' village gets bombed. Talk about a childhood killer, especially when one learns Peyo's family approved the PSA. Unicef's Belgian arm only allowed the ad to air late at night (9pm in that country) to avoid traumatizing children. That didn't stop the print ad version from appearing on numerous magazines in Belgium.
  • This Pro-Palestine PSA, "Imagine if London was Occupied by Israel". The blood on the girl and the fact that the man can't get her to an ambulance is extremely terrifying.
  • This pro-Israel PSA, "15 Seconds", is horrifyingly effective at conveying the fear of living under constant threat of rocket attacks. Imagine hearing that siren going off out of nowhere and knowing you only have fifteen seconds to get yourself and your loved ones to safety. And then there's the little girl whose mother couldn't save her in time.
  • This 2000 PIF for Save the Children is nothing short of horrific. We see a goldfish happily swimming in a fishbowl, until, all of a sudden, a hand violently grabs it and leaves it on the countertop, where we get to watch it suffocate fully. All of this is overdubbed with audio of a child screaming against gunshots, ending with her hyperventilating.
  • This PSA is meant to raise awareness of the problem of landmines. It's mostly just disturbing. It features some kids celebrating a soccer/football win. As one of the team players approaches the other, a landmine suddenly goes off. Children scream and run away as horrified parents look on.
  • This one concerns aid for people on holiday who have gotten themselves locked up abroad. The narration tells us that this organization helps those people, who often are left in unclean jails "to rot". As it says this, we see what clearly looks like a woman's corpse, mouth agape... before a cockroach falls into her mouth and she wakes up, spitting it out in disgust. The worst part? A note at the end tells us that this was a true story and it really happened to someone.
  • Quite a few from "Reporters Sans Frontieres" (Reporters Without Borders).
    • One PSA features a seemingly real homemade video in which a couple witness a shooting on video. The message? "In the last 15 years, access to information has cost 850 journalists' lives."
    • There is an ad featuring military parades from countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, among other oppressive nations (even the US and UK are depicted as well), set to bouncy energetic music. Then the text reads, "Without independent reporters, war would just be a nice show." This is followed by a fade to black and a black-and-white slideshow depicting graphic photos in quick succession of unearthed mass graves, people grieving over tombstones, a burned down house with a couple looking at the ruins, an African man with a physically scarred face, a mass of dead bodies in a cargo truck, a middle-eastern man who is writhing on the floor from being shot, people in hospital beds in hysterics, among other images of war, famine, bloodshed, ending on a picture of a reporter taking photos from some sort of civil war with the text reading, "Support those that risk their lives to bring us the truth." One of the most harrowing PIFs from the RSF, due to the very graphic photos.
    • Another harrowing ad shows a shipping container in the middle of a desert. The narrator says that there is no cargo, yet it is not empty. The narrator then says a reporter has been locked up for 12 years.
    • An extremely creepy PIF at first seems like a commercial for an action figure, known as "reporter man". The toy is then gagged, lit on fire, electrocuted, dragged, dismembered, and tortured, while the narrator still pitches this action figure. A black background with white text then reads, "Today for more than 200 journalists, torture, prison or death are a reality".
    • One PIF features a beautiful beach with nice Havana music playing, surrounded by an all black background. All of a sudden a face pops out as if one was in a prison. Then the message hits, "Welcome to Cuba. One of the world's biggest jails for journalists."
  • In 1995, a charity organization called Africare released a television ad asking for donations in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide (in which almost a million of the country's Tutsi ethnic minority were slaughtered in just 4 months before the government authorizing the killings was overthrown by a rival faction). The images of suffering children are bad enough, but what really makes this ad stand out is the eerie music and rather blunt text encouraging those who do not want to send money to send their unused shoeboxes instead. Why shoeboxes, you may ask? "We're running out of coffins", reads the text appearing over a child who is either sleeping or dead on the ground.
  • Around when the Patriot Act got passed, the Ad Council hired various advertising companies to produce a series of quietly horrifying ad-spots called "Campaign for Freedom" with the common theme "What if America wasn't America"? They featured speculative portrayals of what life might be like without some of the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
    • "Church": Having to practice your religion of choice literally underground. The fact that you can hear what sounds like marching in the background certainly doesn't help.
    • "Library": Trying to read banned authors will get you hauled away by thugs. And you thought Book Burning was over the top...
    • "Diner": Don't you dare criticize the government, even among a gathering of friends.
    • "Arrest": A man gets pulled over by police, dragged out of his car, and arrested. His crime? Carrying newspapers.
  • This 1986 Sport Aid PIF has extremely terrifying visuals and audio as the announcer explains that Africa, in the last 12 months, has paid four times as much in debt repayments as they get in aid, while many African women drop corpses into a giant piggy bank. If that doesn't scar you for life, the freeze frame of a woman screaming at the end combined with a horrifying synthesized scream will.
  • "Sallymatu", by the same people as the above ad and narrated by Paul Darrow, is just as disturbing even without the awful visuals of the above. It starts out innocently enough, with us entering an African hut to find a baby lying on some blankets. Darrow introduces the child as Sallymatu, a perfectly healthy baby who will get her vaccines to prevent certain illnesses. Darrow goes on to explain that there's one illness they can't inoculate her against, however - "Famine". Which is said in the most disturbed, hushed, alarmed, frightening whisper you can imagine as two vultures suddenly swoop down from the sky and enter the hut, closing in on the suddenly very upset-looking baby. It sounds overwrought on paper, but it's not. Doubly disturbing if you've seen the famous image of the starving child being stalked by a vulture who is waiting for the kid to die.
  • This PIF from Helen Bamber Foundation features Emma Thompson as two separate women: the innocent, hopeful Elena and the hardened, broken Maria. As we soon learn, the two women are one and the same: Elena was a young aspiring nurse who was kidnapped, renamed Maria, and sold into the brutal world of sexual slavery. Both women explain, from both their viewpoints, what life was like before and after her enslavement. The PIF ends with this chilling line:
    "I was Elena. I am Maria."
  • Amnesty International is fond of making such adverts to help raise concern about international concerns.
    • An ad from 1986 is just a straight one-minute build up to someone about to be tortured through electrocution. The prisoner's blood-curdling screams near the end are bound to keep you up for the rest of the night.
    • They once ran a campaign called "Unsubscribe to Torture" which had a series of videos showing prisoners from the Middle East being tortured in various ways. One memorable ad involved artistic slow motion clips of water pouring at a black background. The water is later played in regular speed as it reveals the pouring water was being used to waterboard a prisoner, which then cuts to actual footage of people being waterboarded.
    • This ad criticizes the Russian government's human rights violations and their cover-ups of such things from the public by comparing it to someone assembling Russian dolls. All of this is juxtaposed with distorted sound effects and creepy lighting to create a truly disturbing advert.
    • This ad shows a variety of unpleasant things such as polluted waters, a journalist's dead body, someone being brutally tortured, child soldiers, and someone being beheaded. All of which is covered with what appears to be dollar bills. The ad then tells you that Amnesty International refuses donations from governments and international corporations, as such money can be used to cover up all the things shown in the video.
  • One Iraqi anti-terrorism PSA involved a man being kidnapped and tortured by terrorists, in graphic detail to the viewer, as they ask him what confession he belongs to—"Sunni or Shia?!?"—until he responds, "Iraqi", followed by a shot to the head and an on-screen text in Arabic that reads, "Terror has no religion." The terrorists' sheer fanaticism alone is patently horrifying.
  • During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, one Portuguese PSA urged tourists to boycott Indonesia by not going on vacation there. It compares the latter territory to a half of an orange which is to be (very violently) juiced (with one's bare hands in a manual juice maker), in the end becoming highly spent. This, at the same time as the narrator tells us about the atrocities the Indonesian government was committing in East Timor. In the end, we see the juice ready to be drunk, next to the spent orange, with the narrator asking the audience to do something about it now that they know about what the Indonesian government had done and sarcastically requesting the audience to at least to raise your glass to the dead and maimed if they still plan on going to Indonesia regardless. The ad has a dreary, ominous music from end to end.
  • One Northern Irish PIF produced at the height of The Troubles depicted a young man being forced to reconsider his apathetic outlook on life after realizing that it had only served to prolong the conflict and ruin people's lives. What pushes it into Nightmare Fuel territory is a brief but rather graphic shot of a Vigilante Execution carried out by some IRA members. Seeing someone getting shot isn't exactly something you see very often in a PIF, even one of this nature.
  • Another Northern Irish PIF depicted a father going on a shooting spree set to Cats In The Cradle. Years later, the father finds out his teenage son did the same thing he did...only there's no jail time. The father can only look down at his son's body in the coffin being lowered into the ground. The PIF ends with the father by his son's grave on a rainy day. Imagine watching Mr. Bean when all of a sudden this PIF comes up. This could also count as a Tear Jerker.
  • There is a PSA that has audio clips of people telling very sick jokes about landmines over images of people, mostly children, who have been injured by real landmines. The ad ends with a plea to donate in order to help the group that made the ad afford to keep clearing undiscovered landmines.
  • This PSA discusses the plight of starving children in third world countries, and juxtaposes footage of dead and dying children with real footage from The Holocaust of German Death Camps, bodies being dumped into pits, being buried in mass graves by bulldozers, and even more horrific images. The message is that starvation kills as many children abroad as the Death Camps killed Jewish POWs. It's absolutely grotesque and harrowing, and the juxtaposition is so sick it prompted the uploader to title the video, "What The Hell is Wrong With You?".
  • This genuinely disturbing (and NSFW) PIF from Finland features a young woman who leaves her family, including her beloved kid sister, to go off to what she thinks is modeling, but in reality, she has been trafficked. Through increasingly graphic visuals (including physical and sexual assault), we see the girl eventually come to realize the danger that she's in. At one point it appears that she is running towards her sister, but she's really trying to escape her captors, who catch up to her, and the last shot is of her once again being assaulted.
    "Human trafficking is not a fairy tale. It is the sad story of hundreds of people - even in Finland. The victims can be exploited as either a prostitute or forced labor. They are put in debt and have to go through violence and ransom. Don't turn a blind eye to human trafficking. If you see signs of it, report to:"
  • One UNICEF public service announcement takes place at a wedding, where all of the preparations are being made before the ceremony, and at one point we see the bride's and the groom's shoes sitting next to one another. What looks like a fairytale wedding between a man and a petite woman (complete with a sign that says "She belongs to me") is in actuality a young girl unwillingly being married off to a grown man in an anti-child bride advertisement.
  • This (NSFW/NSFS) Italian PIF against PFM1 Landmines, which are brightly colored and only go off if significant pressure is applied to the wings. It features a young girl in a play room, featuring toys such as Mickey Mouse and Monsters, Inc.'s Sulley. She walks along and discovers a red plastic banana (representing the landmine). She picks it up, only to be blown to a million pieces offscreen by a group of adults behind a window who detonate the banana remotely. We are told that these mines are designed to attract the attention of a child and no sane adult (let alone soldiers) would ever touch one. The final scene is of a toy train passing the girl's severed foot.
    • The worst part about this (as pointed out by the ad uploader) is that it doesn't give any way to combat the problem, nor a clear call to action. In general, any PSA/PIF with a similar subject will say that "this needs to stop" at the end and tell the audience that they're doing something about it - that's not the case for this one. To add insult to injury, the creator of this PIF is seemingly unwilling to show their organization's name, possibly to avoid getting any hate mail from the audience.
    • There's actually a cut of this PIF that list the names of everyone involved with this Film. Here it is. But it does beg the question. Why would you attach your name to this, but not a Charity?
  • During the Nigerian-Biafran War, this incredibly disturbing ad ran on TV. It begins with a picture of a baby, with the camera slowly zooming out, while "Brahms's Lullaby" plays in the background. Then, the song's pitch starts lowering, and the image slowly fades into a picture of a starving child. It ends simply with the word "Biafra" on the screen. Despite the simplicity of the ad, the slow panning plus the music makes it very unsettling.
  • Save the Children's "A Shocking Moment of the Day" (also titled "If London Were Syria"), illustrating the life of a young British girl named Lily in brief flashes of her day-to-day life, starting out as ordinary and mundane (beginning with her birthday). While she remains blissfully unaware of the increasingly desperate news headlines and growing animosity between people, things really turn From Bad to Worse when martial law is declared... and the country devolves into a civil war, forcing her and her family to leave their home and encounter numerous things like sleeping under a bridge, getting held at gunpoint by terrorists, getting caught in skirmishes and attacks, and eventually her father gets separated from them while trying to run. Lily and her mother find a refugee camp where they're treated by doctors, and the video ends with them trying to celebrate Lily's birthday with just a candle and a ration. As her mother tells her to make a wish, Lily silently stares at the camera with an empty look in her eyes. This is a reality that Syrians have had to face as a result of the Syrian War, the video criticizing people who lack empathy for others who are enduring these hardships. The video ends with the line, "Just because it isn't happening here doesn't mean it isn't happening."
    • The sequel starts with her birthday again, and things continue to go downhill. Like the previous video, it starts with Lily and her mother celebrating the former's birthday again, and shows what their ordinary life is like in the camps, including Lily playing with other kids and Lily and her mother putting up missing posters for her father. It all spins on its head again when the camp is attacked (with one terrorist even about to hurt Lily before her mother tells him to back off), and everyone resolves to take a boat over the English Channel to mainland Europe. After much struggle (including a checkpoint having been taken over by terrorists, who fire at their bus as it passes by), Lily's mother is told that there's only room for one of them, and after an argument, she manages to convince Lily to go without her, assuring her that I Will Find You and to stay in contact with her over their cellphones. Then their rafts are caught in a storm... Many of the refugees drown, but Lily and an orphaned boy named Alfie wash ashore and are found by beachgoers. Her phone having shorted out when she fell under, Lily and Alfie wander Europe aimlessly until they're eventually found by a humanitarian group. After his exam, Alfie is separated from Lily to be given to an adoptive family while she weakly pleads "He's all I have left...". When it's Lily's turn, her tester reveals that today is her birthday and tries to cheer her up by asking if she's made a wish before asking her for the name of her parents. Lily, tired and worn, silently stares at the camera again in despair.
  • The humanitarian group Terre des hommes deliberately invokes the Nothing Is Scarier trope through this advert by "showing" the viewer a slideshow of pictures that are only captions on a white background. Said captions describe horrible things such as a woman crying with her deformed baby, a mortally wounded child soldier, and a little girl, implied to be a landmine victim, who just had her leg amputated. The next slide after all of this is just the caption "Thank us for sparing you these pictures. With money." along with the group's charity number.
  • This British public information film about the Third World Debt features with a man sitting down in a dark room eating jelly babies, demonstrating that, according to UNICEF, the Third World Debt is "killing half a million little babies every year", with one being "consumed" every minute. The chilling music does not help at all. On top of all this, it was given a U certificate.
  • One eerie British ad from 1988 features a toddler walking to a dark and grimy public toilet area, and going to one of the cubicles to drink the toilet water. While all this is happening, we're told that five million young children die in the Third World from drinking water polluted with feces. At one point, the voice-over compares black people drinking polluted water to white people drinking toilet water. The camerawork doesn't help either.
  • A 1986 British public information film urging a boycott of South African products shows two babies — one black and one white — happily sitting and playing, with one holding an apple, as a sinister-sounding announcer gives a series of statistics that illustrates the stark differences in the lives of white and black South Africans under Apartheid. As if that wasn't enough, it's set to strings that slowly build into one final dramatic high pitched chord, getting louder until it finally stops. It's also yet another example of a PIF that managed to get a U certificate despite its content.
    Narrator: The World Health Organisation says that one doctor per every 500 people is a healthy ratio. White South Africans have one doctor for every 330. Most blacks share a doctor with more than 19,000 others. So if you buy a Cape apple today, you really are keeping the doctor away.
  • Another PIF concerning Apartheid shows a game of pool in which all the black balls are knocked out while an eerie version of the South African national anthem plays. While all this is happening, a British voice-over mocking a South African accent informs the viewer that in South Africa, the blacks outnumber the white people by five to one, but the whites will make sure that they own most of the land and earn over three times more than blacks do, while ensuring they don't have enough houses or the right to vote. The ad ends with the music becoming more dramatic with someone smashing a black ball into the camera with a glass shatter effect.
    Narrator: We make sure they don't complain. Because if they do ... tough break!
  • Two examples from Friends of John McCarthy.
    • This cinema ad from shows scenes of war, intercut with pictures of kidnapped people who were being held hostage, including John McCarthy. The war scenes are definitely disturbing, especially for little kids, who may well have seen it since was given a U certificate.
    • Another one from 1990 shows people who have been freed from captivity returning home, while "Homeward Bound" plays in the background. John McCarthy, however, is the only one who hasn't been freed as a tagline reveals that he is still in Beirut.
  • A 15-rated cinema ad from the UK in 1990 which tells us that nobody seems to care if kids in Africa starve or die and all they talk about is extra VAT on biscuits. The images of suffering children and a woman putting down a corpse at the end both seal the whole deal. The dead silence at the end doesn't help.
  • This one from Choice in 2008 shows stuff such as fruit, vegetables, and a bottle of ketchup decimated by a bullet in slow motion. We then see a child staring into the camera, giving viewers a feeling that the child will get shot in the head. Thankfully, the bullet creates a slogan instead.
  • This disturbing ad about child hunger made in Norway for Unicef seems to take a page from the landmine ad mentioned above. We're treated to images of starving children while a laugh track plays in the background. Seeing images of dying children is horrifying enough, but said laugh track definitely pushes it over the edge. The PSA ends with a simple question: "What's worse? Laughter or Indifference?" It is definitely one of Unicef's scariest PSAs.
  • These two Pakistani PSAs from Saving Face concerning acid attacks on women, which are distressingly common 'honor crimes':
    • This one can only be described as a combination of the Rachel Maddow "This Is Your Brain on Heroin" ad and the Chip Pan Fire one from Fire Kills. A woman comes home and, after removing her burqa and seeing her face in the mirror, begins a violent Rage Against the Reflection regarding every possibly reflective surface in her house. It's not until the end that we see her horribly mangled, scarred face from a terrible acid attack.
    • This ad shows exactly who threw the acid on the woman from the first one, with the assailant starting out with an evil little chuckle before he tauntingly tells the audience what he did, with a horrible scream from the woman in the background, before he is shown sitting in jail. A bit more Fridge Horror than the other one, but still awful, especially after watching the above one and realizing they form a complete tale.
  • The British organization, Doctors without Borders, made these two utterly horrifying ads. The first ad treats us to audio of doctors helping a boy. We don't see what happens, but it still manages to be unnerving. While we're told, via text, that militia men had raped his sisters and killed his parents, we hear the boy shriek in utter pain and terror. That one is already terrifying, the second one manages to be even worse. We're told, once again via text, that midwives are helping a teenager give birth to twins. We also hear the poor girl scream in horror much like the boy in the previous ad. Already, it manages to be scarier the the first, but, to make things even worse, while the text explains that such a job is certainly not an easy one, a landmine near the area suddenly goes off. The fact that we actually hear their screams after the incident just makes it all the worse. Both ads end with the statement that they can't operate without our help. Easily some of the UK's scariest PSAs.
  • This trilogy from "Veterans For Peace" has "Action Man" action figures to display the tragic aftereffects of war. The first ad features a Shell-Shocked Veteran who cannot cope with the horrors of war, and after failing to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, ends up committing suicide. The second ad features a vet who was left a paraplegic and in constant pain, and when his benefits end up being cancelled, he has to work a dead-end job that, due to his disability and the residual pain, he is likely to lose. The final and definitely worst ad features a nineteen-year-old who was graphically killed in action (complete with severed limbs and blood gushing out of his chest) as he ends up "promoted" and his widow attends his somber and rainy funeral. This is all made worse by the cheerful attitudes of the children playing with the "toys" and the creepy nature of the figures themselves. Borders on Black Comedy with how they're all depicted in the over-the-top style of a standard action figure commercial.

Environmental Concerns

If you're looking for a more intense Green Aesop, look no further. After all, we only have one Earth, and its ecosystem is a lot more fragile than we thought it was...
  • Greenpeace is responsible for several nightmarish and shocking entries.
    • "Half-Life: Living With Nuclear Waste" was a 2002 website created by Greenpeace about the Russian Kyshtym disaster, one of the worst nuclear accidents in history. You first get treated to an Adobe Flash intro featuring ominous thunder and an unnerving Heartbeat Soundtrack, all while monochromatic images are shown with translated spoken testimonies from disaster victims. More of said testimonies — which are pretty unsettling in their own right — can be viewed within the website itself, but for some reason Greenpeace decided to adorn the website banner with the disturbingly-lit image of a deformed baby in a jar. Chances are, it gave more people nightmares than incentive to learn about the disaster. Fortunately (or unfortunately, take your pick) Internet Archive has preserved those nightmares long after the site's closure in 2012.
    • Also by Greenpeace: Here's their response to Dove's famous "Onslaught" campaign for girls' self-esteem. Just for comparison, here's the original Dove campaign, the imagery in which is scary in and of itself, and is even scarier when you know that the Dove soap company is owned by Unilever, which also owns Axe Body Spray note , making it all Hypocritical. Especially nasty are the very disturbing and utterly gratuitous images of actual dead orangutans, often obviously decomposing or mouths fixed in unsettling grins. Which, naturally, ended up being paused on because it's not immediately obvious what the relevance is. Protip: don't do that.
    • Greenpeace ran a 15-rated cinema ad protesting the Nestlé company, known for using palm oil, which contributes to deforestation and the loss of orangutan habitats. In the ad a man unwraps a Kit Kat bar (they're manufactured by Nestlé in the United Kingdom but Hershey's in America note ), which turns out to contain severed orangutan fingers, and he bites into them with blood dripping from his mouth. The Sickening "Crunch!" as he bites through the bone will make you cringe. It's so unsettling that YouTube pulled the official upload of the ad and Greenpeace had to host it on Vimeo instead. It did make it back to YouTube, however.
    • A former member of Greenpeace did a commercial purporting to be home-video footage shot on a handheld camcorder of a family playing by the seaside. A plane then comes in to land above them and as they scream and panic, the camera shows that the plane is crashing into a nuclear power station next to the beach. There is then an end line asking, "Do we really want more nuclear power stations?" Watch it in all of its horror here. Greenpeace distanced itself from the video and the former member because (1) he is an hysterical sensationalist and (2) the "commercial" is blatant, ill-informed scaremongering. A passenger jet crashing into a nuclear power station will not cause a meltdown. Given the thickness that the dome on that power station has, a crashing jet would barely crack it—these things are made from concrete, lead, more concrete and more lead. The woefully poor, chroma-keyed CGI plane also lessens the intended impact enormously.
    • Another anti-nuclear Greenpeace ad shown in cinemas was set right after Chernobyl, depicting the hypothetical after-effects of a similar disaster in the UK. The music from Vangelis makes the nuclear cemetery look even more creepy. Plus, it was rated "U" by the BBFC. The fact that it aired only 3 years after Threads doesn't help.
    • In 1991, Greenpeace made a 3-minute cinema PIF titled "Antarctica" about Antarctica's freedom from violation... and it not only contains graphic images of seals getting clubbed, but it also contains a pile of dead and dying dolphins in which their blood flows into the ocean, all real. This was also rated "U" by the BBFC.
    • Greenpeace, in an attempt to get LEGO to break its contract with Shell, had a PSA which shows various Lego minifigs and characters from The Lego Movie drowning in oil. The piano version of "Everything Is Awesome" only makes it creepier.
    • Greenpeace made this advert against deep sea oil fracking by showcasing several pictures of what seem to be inkblot drawings that look like penguins, only to show a small dead penguin covered in oil afterwards with someone picking the penguin's corpse up, leaving behind a black imprint. A message then says that up to 20 000 birds were killed from the Rena oil spill while it zooms out to show all the prints that were made. The usage of the Radiohead song "No Surprises" takes the advert to an entirely new level of nightmare fuel, mixing in a Tear Jerker for added effect.
    • This one is understated and yet quietly terrifying, showing the world pretty much drowning with nothing more than the sound of heavy breathing. Nothing Is Scarier indeed.
    • Aardman Animations and Greenpeace recently teamed up to make the short Turtle Journey, which starts out as a cute short with A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family of sea turtles taking a road trip (well, sea trip) home as they say goodbye to their grandparents after a visit to their home. However, it soon delves into unsettling as we see oil getting drilled out in the background, from which the baby catches an oil drop with their tongue much to the mum's notice and protest. Then when they get home, they notice their neighborhood empty. The mum is about to get into the house until the camera the girl is recording their trip with starts to glitch and we see their home getting wrecked. Cut to the family without their mum, confirming she didn't make it. The family can only sob as the baby turtle asks where mummy is.
    • This one from Greenpeace in Australia shows a group of friends drinking Coca-Cola at the beach. All is good until we see a dead seagull plummeting to the ground, and the happy music comes to an abrupt stop. We then see more dead seagulls falling to the ground, and we even see a clip of a child looking at one of the seagull carcasses, wondering what happened to it.
  • "No pressure!" A failed attempt at Black Comedy, this short advertisement film for reducing carbon is just unsettling. It has people getting blown up for refusing to reduce carbon, including children. And not in a cartoony sort of way either, but in a realistically bloody and graphic manner, complete with visible organ pieces. The campaign got massive critical backlash for its realistic violence, not least from other campaign groups. Pretty strong meat there from Richard Curtis. Yes, the Richard Curtis. Would you have thought that he of all people would be capable of making something as horrifying as this?
  • There used to be a Green Aesop ad that aired on Cartoon Network in the US very early in the morning, usually not long after the channel had changed from [adult swim] into the kids block. It features a little girl lying in various places around her room while images of various environmental problems flash across the room, things like destroyed forests, toxic waste, and polluted rivers. All of this happens while creepy children's music plays in the background. At the end she sits up and asks you how the world is going to be when she grows up. Watch it here.
  • More mild than most examples here, but the commercial "Wasted Kilowatts" has creepy men in black body suits crawling around your basement, your attic, your fridge...
  • Those web PSAs by the Environmental Protection Agency depicting a whitewash paint, apparently with lead, being poured in cereal, a glass milk bottle, or a baby's juice bottle.
  • Though not contracted nor paid for by the organization itself, some advertising agency wound up sending the World Wildlife Fund into issuing public apologies for this ad idea. It pushes all the wrong buttons by comparing the death toll of the September 11th terrorist attack to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, complete with a terrifying image of several airliners flying right into the New York skyline.
  • There was a disturbing anti-pollution PSA that aired in the USA in the early 1990s. A typical family is sitting around their living room while the kids watch cartoons on television. Without warning, a hazmat team enters and dumps oil everywhere: in the fish tank, on the TV, on the family... and the family just sits there, zombielike, and lets it happen. Then an ominous-sounding narrator asks the viewer if he or she would willingly let something like that happen in their home.
  • showcased how an average European flight produces the weight of an adult polar bear in greenhouse gases for every passenger by depicting actual polar bears falling from the sky to their deaths, with nary a Gory Discretion Shot in sight. That fact that they're falling into a seemingly abandoned city doesn't help matters. It was so gory that it was only shown before films with at least a 15 rating in UK cinemas.
  • Sometime in the early 21st century, the Ad Council released an ad for a website about global warming. It features a man standing on some train tracks as a train approaches in the distance. He talks about how experts say the long term effects of climate change could become irreversible in the next 30 years. "30 years?", he scoffs. "That won't affect me." He steps off the tracks, revealing a little girl standing behind him as the train closes in.
  • A similarly jarring ad as the one above shows two parents taking their children for a drive while mournful music plays. It ends with the parents dumping their crying children in a wasteland of ash and smoke, then driving off. We even get to watch from the backseat of the car as the parents drive away.
  • "Tick". Ominous warnings are even more potent (or annoying) when delivered by 8-year-olds.
  • Being the longest-running public service advertising campaign in US history, Smokey Bear has spent 75 years warnings us about the dangers of forest fires. While some PSAs and posters featuring the character are usually lighthearted, considering the character and his real life counterpart being survivors of forest fires during their childhood, it's understandable why sometimes, Smokey and the US Forest Service have pulled no punches on more than a few occassions.
    • This vintage Smokey Bear commercial from 1973, for a split-second near the end, is a very unsettling sight. For those who'd rather not watch, we slowly move in on Joanna Cassidy's face as she's talking about forest fire prevention with an impressive Kubrick Stare on her face, and then she peels off her skin disguise to reveal a poorly made Smokey underneath, explaining that he thought this was the best way to get our attention. The ghastly appearance of fake-Joanna's empty face as it slides back is pretty unforgettable, and so is Smokey. In fact, good luck doing so when you go to sleep tonight. Some have called this PSA the scariest one ever.
    Smokey Bear: If you knew it was me, would you have listened?
    The ending was redone in 1980, where Smokey removing his Joanna Cassidy mask is less scary and more natural, and Smokey himself is more friendly and cuddly-looking.
    • A different, but significantly more grim Smokey Bear one is set in the far future. A grandfather is walking with his granddaughter in a world where people let forests burn. Then the birds died. The air became unfit to breathe, and it's implied the human race is headed for extinction. It then zooms out to show the grandfather and girl in gas masks, with a spooky breathing noise here. Watch and be scared.
    • Smokey himself didn't appear in this one either, but a 1969 PSA from that campaign aired well into The '70s. Narrator mentions that in the time it takes to grow a mature tree (in this case, a ponderosa pine) America has undergone 100 years of history. Camera slowly pans from the base of the tree to the crown, while historical sound-bites play. Suddenly a careless match drops from the crown to the needles below; the narrator admonishes that now, in "a flash" that century will be wiped out so thoroughly "even the birds won't come anymore."
    • Even scarier than the Joanna Cassidy one is Rita Raccoon, which features poorly and creepily animated forest animals singing about not starting fires in the forest. Sorry, Rita. We'd rather not think of you and your nightmarish face.
    • The short but absolutely not sweet "Eye" begins with footage of a forest fire. It then starts slowly zooming out, and we see that the fire is in (the live-action) Smokey's right eye. Once we completely zoom out to Smokey's whole face, he says, in a very deep and creepy voice, "Only... you." What makes it worse is that as the camera zooms out, Smokey himself sheds a tear, due to his and many other of his forest friends' home being gone. The scene of Smokey shedding a tear would later be reused in a 1982 PSA featuring footage from Disney's Bambi but dubbed over.
    • And here's a 1984 PSA from the USDA Forest Service, featuring a paper doll chain of a family igniting, illustrating how wildfires can easily spread from forests to nearby communities. The music doesn't help wonders, as do the narrator's words:
    Narrator: More and more families are moving closer and closer to the forests. That's why if you're careless with fire in the forest, you can burn a lot more than trees.
    • "America the Ugly" shows the US Continent made out of painted matches. We then see a match violently burning the whole continent while we get to see the flames plundering into the camera. This teaches us that if we are one second careless with a match, then "America the Beautiful" becomes "America the Ugly". The music doesn't help wonders.
    • Another Smokey Bear PSA from 1980 titled "Painted Matches" shows five illustrated matches depicting things related to forests and nearby areas (a pond with trees, two birds, a nearby barn with a flock of sheep, a buck and doe, and a purple flower respectively) getting caught on fire. The only sound heard is birds chirping and audio of trees burning. The illustrations for the matches are now faded once the fire is burned out.
    • A shorter ad from 1974 "Matchbook" only shows a hand holding a tiny book shaped like a match box. It gets opened up to reveal seven humans shaped like matches.
    Narrator: Matches don't start forest fires. People do, think before you strike.
    Narrator: The most terrifying sound in the forest doesn't come from timber wolves, or mountain lions, or owls, or eagles, or elk. The most terrifying sound in the forest comes from man. Any man who's careless with fire. Please of all the sounds in the forest, don't let this be one of them.
    • Another one from Smokey in 1976 shows footage of a horrific forest fire while a narrator tells us that 9 out of 10 forest fires are caused by little fires, such as matches (we see a kid throwing a match on the grass), cigarettes (we see a hitchhiker dropping his cigarette near a log), campfires (we see a car driving away, forgetting to put the campfire out), and trash fires (we see a man walking away from a trash fire). The narrator then says that if you've been watching this commercial, you know who causes little fires.
    • Compared to other Smokey Bear commericals, the 1973 animated ad titled "Emptiness" enters Tear Jerker territory with an ominous tone (no music, Smokey's voice echoing, and the forest fire being represented by burned paper). The ad features Smokey standing at a now burned down forest. He tells the viewers about how beautiful this place once was complete with Smokey reminiscing about the forest (such as a river that had the best fish around, a nice picnic and camping area, and a forest that was once filled with love and life). Then man happened and got careless with fire. After he finishes reminiscing, he urges the viewers to "Think before they strike" and "The forest won't be back in our lifetime either". It's ominious due to being set inside a white background and Smokey's face is mostly obscured until the very end.
      Smokey: It's all gone now, and it won't be back in our lifetime either. So think before you strike, put the life out of your campfires. Before the campfires put the life out of the forest.
  • There's a Keep Britain Tidy (formerly known as Tidy Britain Group) PIF that has a massive Cruel Twist Ending. The camera pans through the streets of London as we witness various people littering—throwing unfinished chip bags on the ground, leaving glass bottles on concrete, etc. We rewind as the sequence plays again with the people dishing out excuses for what they do. The payoff doesn't come until at the end, where we see a little girl dragging a stick against some wires connected to the concrete and accidentally tipping the glass bottle over as she falls and cuts herself.
    Narrator: Everyone has their excuses. What's yours?
  • This Friends of the Earth advert. It's just a slow shot of the Earth appearing and then suddenly disappearing, but either way, you'll never hear "All Things Bright and Beautiful" in the same way again. For the curious, it replaces "The Lord God made them all" with "Oh God, we killed them all".
  • Friends of the Earth also made this PIF with a toilet overflowing with blood. Make all the period jokes you want; it's still creepy.
    Jonathan Pryce: Mahogany is murder. Don't buy it.
  • Also from Friends of the Earth is this cinematic ad. Fauré's "Requiem" (a haunting orchestral piece with choir accompaniment, originally written as a funeral mass) can be heard as a narrator talks about the indigenous people being forced from their homes by the destruction of the rainforests, illustrated via a newly sharpened ax swinging at human legs (replaced by trees at the last second). The narrator warns that even if you the viewer don't care for the plight of these tribes, you should be concerned because deforestation contributes to climate change, which threatens everyone. At this point the ax swings towards the viewer, which must have been disturbing to see on a movie screen.
  • This PSA from We Care About New York has shots of people littering between scenes of rats crawling in the sewers, set to some creepy music. At the end, the city's skyline is filled with rats. Did we mention this was made by David Lynch?
  • Another nightmarish ad from Keep Britain Tidy is in the same vein as the one above. It depicts rats crawling around, and explains that the more litter people drop, the more rats breed. It ends with a grotesque shot of rats on a family's bed. The ominous music and Scare Chord at the end don't help.
    "How close do we have to get before you stop dropping litter?"
  • Thames Television has two ads about not littering - one concerning how litter can kill wildlife, and one about the nasty things rats eat. Both are equally harrowing.
  • This 1990 PSA from the Environmental Defense Fund and the Ad Council features images of the planet and people and animals doing happy-looking things and is set to Willie Nelson's rendition of "What a Wonderful World". The commercial ends with a shot of the Earth from space, only for a pair of giant hands to crumple it up like a piece of paper as the music abruptly stops and then throws it on the ground, with the tagline, "If You're Not Recycling, You're Throwing It All Away". There are two shorter versions of the ad which only feature the shot of the Earth and the giant hands crumpling it up, which makes the ad even scarier.
  • This Brazilian PSA for saving the rainforest features a Tribe member having his hair buzzed off.
  • This 2008 ad from Saving Gaia, a Singaporean green initiative owned by the nation's public broadcaster. It features a rather creepy-looking mannequin (representing the Earth) being poured on with tar (water pollution); tortured with smoke, fog, and haze (air pollution); and cut open by a chainsaw (deforestation). The ad takes a lighter turn when the mannequin transforms into a real child. The cheery music makes it all the less creepy. It was deemed too violent to be shown on TV, but it had to be toned down instead of being pulled from TV.
  • In the wake of the 2019 Australia bushfire season, a new ad campaign was launched, featuring a little girl caught in a chain-link fence while two firemen struggle to free her as the blaze approaches, a couple veering off the road to avoid the flames engulfing the route ahead, and a sobbing teenager being forced into a car by his father, their dog unable to join them due to the fire.
  • This horrifying 1994 Chilean forest fire ad from CONAF looks like it came from the bounds of hell. In this one, we see a bald man with demon eyes shaking and roaring while we see him in a gas mask while we also see an empty place with dead trees and scarecrows with gas masks on them, etc. We also get to see closeups of his eyes, which are definitely unsettling. The scary music doesn't help at all.
    • Another one was made in the same year. It starts off with people formed like a tree in a forest. The people suddenly open their eyes and do some dance moves and gestures as if they were summoning a demon as the forest starts burning violently. There is also a shot of three toddlers in a nest, putting their hands up to the camera as the music turns even scarier. The woman singing in the Background Music also sounds like she's crying near the end of the PSA.
      Tagline: All forest fires are man-made.
  • This 1990 ad from Friends Of The Earth about acid rain. It shows some litmus paper telling us that if acid rain is pouring down, the paper will turn red, all while the paper slowly turns red, followed by cars driving and people running, all while "Rhythm Of The Rain" is playing. The slow transformation of the paper turning to red makes this PSA rather eerie.
  • This one from the Phillipines starts out cute enough, with a rendition of a local nursery rhyme about vegetables. But it takes a twist when the first chorus begins. The vegetables start to look like they've been filled with ink. Then near the end of the song, the river behind the farm is polluted, there are landfills, and the tree next to the farm is dead, and the vegetables are all sick. They then pass out and are placed in a garbage bag.
  • This 1993 PSA from Hong Kong concerning the water pollution in the country starts with a family and their relatives and friends attending a dinner party in a fancy restaurant. Everyone gathers at the dining table, and they are served with a plate of steamed fish. As soon as the fish is cut, suddenly black lumps that appears to be industrial waste start oozing out of the fish, and everyone is shocked and disgusted by what they see. The music becomes more sinister with a synthesized shriek, and the narrator explains that every day 2 million tonnes of industrial and sewage waste float into Hong Kong waters. The narrator then urges the viewer with a call to action, or the consequences will be hard to swallow, capped off with a Last Note Nightmare.

You thought domestic animals were the only victims of mankind's bastardry? Think again.
  • This anti-fox hunting film (NSFW) from Britain was produced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). It is shot from the perspective of a fox being chased. We see what it sees as it makes its way through the countryside, almost getting hit by a car while dashing across a road. We never see the hunters or their dogs, but their distorted sounds can be heard in the background. Eventually the exhausted fox tries to hide, only to be forced into the open by its unseen pursuers, leading to a terrifying cacophony of barks and whimpers as the camera shakes violently, followed by an eerie silence. The clear implication is that the fox was viciously torn apart by the hunting dogs. The ad ends with a short rapid-fire montage of very gruesome photos taken from hunts as a bunch of flesh-crunching noises are heard, followed by a loud Scare Chord (the last being a shot of a real, shredded fox carcass) before ending with text urging viewers to contact their MP in support of the fox hunting ban.
  • IFAW also made this very sickly humorous ad against seal clubbing that parodied a tourism commercial for Canada. It starts out alright and maybe even a bit cheesy, showing images associated with Canada, until you get to the footage of people clubbing baby seals.
  • The PETA has proven time and time again that it won't pull its punches with its ads, that's for sure.
    • This PSA, called "Silent Scream". It actually compares preparing fish for cooking to domestic violence, school bullying, and mugging in a serious tone, and all are played straight in a gruesome way. If those don't scare you, the silently screaming CGI fish might. On that note, it goes into Narm territory when human abuse is compared to a fish being prepared to be eaten at a restaurant.
    • "Old McDonald", filmed in Germany, features a young girl outside meeting a cow while the titular song is sung in the background. The cow is then shot in the head and the girl reacts in shock. Pictures of dead and dying cows flash onscreen. The sky darkens as a second building appears. The girl then meets a pig, which suffers the same fate as the cows. The sky now looks very gray and ominous. The girl then meets some chickens, who once again die in a gruesome fashion. Whenever the "everywhere a x x" line is sung, the animal sounds are replaced with slashing sounds and the animals crying out in anguish. We then cut to the inside of the slaughterhouse, where the butcher is conducting a choir of nervous children in animal costumes singing the titular song. The girl leads a small girl in a chicken costume away once the group leaves, while the costumed girl finishes the song in a faded, haunting tone.
    • PETA 2 has a PIF (NSFW) titled Fur is Dead which is just a collage of animals dying with text backgrounds reading things like "foxes are dead", "dogs are dead", "rabbits are dead", etc.
    • PETA 2 also did an ad starring Noah Cyrus, the sister of Miley Cyrus, which targets animal dissection. It features a nude Noah on a dissection table with her chest vivisected, exposing her internal organs. Check it out here, if you dare. The fact that Noah was underage at the time makes it worse.
    • The entirety of the PIF "If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls, Everyone Would Be Vegetarian" (NSFW), narrated by Paul McCartney. For a staggering 13 minutes, we are treated to extremely graphic and nightmarish footage of the poor, nauseating conditions of slaughterhouses, live-animal transport, fisheries, and factory farms that many animals are subject to, all of which makes slaughterhouses look like concentration camps for animals. It most definitely shouldn't be watched before eating or sleeping.
    • The Singaporean branch of PETA made This PSA (NSFW) about Angora rabbit fur. It features a bunch of people screaming from being hot waxed, and ends with an Angora bunny screaming in pain as its fur is ripped from its body. note  Oh, and it shows the poor hare stripped, showing its skin.
    • On a similar note and much like the "Boiled Bear" PIF below, there's this PSA. It's literally just a half-minute of a pig screaming in agony and terror without any shown footage, with white text on a black background slowly saying "This is what hell sounds like. This is happening right now. These are actual recordings from inside a factory farm. Go vegan." They also did a similar PSA with audio of an elephant in a circus-training facility.
    • This horrifying ad from PETA2 shows a man getting stabbed in the nose with a hot stick. A man then puts a string through the hole of the nose while we hear the victim's painful screams. We're told that this actually happens to hundreds of bears every year, which cuts to a bear also suffering the same pain as the man.
    • This one from 2002 shows a man clubbing a woman to death in public fully shown on-screen. Even worse? No one stops this from happening. They just keep walking like nothing is happening. After she's died, he then steals her fur coat.
      Tagline: What if you were killed for your coat?
    • PETA made a public service announcement about why wearing animal skins is wrong. It features a fashion show where anthropomorphic foxes and seals are wearing outfits made from human body parts. Things take a turn for the worse however, as we then head inside the dressing room, where a terrified human girl is inside a cage, implying that she’ll eventually be made into clothing.
  • A British theatrical PIF called "Smile" produced by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, currently known as Cruelty Free International, starts off looking like an ordinary commercial for cosmetics, featuring a woman singing the song "Smile" for Modern Times. However, that proves not to be the case as it soon starts showing the face of model Angie Hill becoming scarred as she applies makeup (mirroring the injuries experienced by animals used for cosmetics testing). At the end, she lets out a horrifying, electronic scream with her head close up and the screen fading to black. It will scar you for life. Narrated by Dame Judi Dench.

    An alternate version exists that uses the song "The Thinner the Air" by the Cocteau Twins. The bittersweet, haunting atmosphere of that song adds a new feeling to the horror of the PIF.
  • There exists an 18-certificate PIF from the UK's Respect for Animals (formerly Lynx) called "Catwalk" in which a group of supermodels walk down the catwalk in their fancy new dresses, while the audience (including Paul Reubens) is cheering and taking photos, when the dresses suddenly seem to explode in animal blood, as the women continue to walk down the catwalk as if nothing is happening while the audience is screaming and covered in blood, complete with some quite creepy music in the background. The PIF ends with the slogan: It takes 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it.

    Fun fact: according to uploader easportsbig899 on his "Top 10 Controversial PIFs", this PIF was originally intended to be used by Greenpeace, but they disowned it due to the graphic content. Think about that: Greenpeace, creators of many disturbing PIFs (see also the "Environment" section), didn't want to use this ad. Also, originally the ending slogan said "It takes 40 dumb bitches to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it," but it was changed to "dumb animals" instead (since it can come across as derogatory towards women).
  • This ad, also from Lynx, is easily the worst, as it features a bunch of rich snobs attending a fashion show and then pulling open a fur coat to reveal it to be absolutely infested with slimy, repulsive flies and maggots. The startling synth cords only add to the terror, and the makers must have been serious gore lovers to produce such a nasty PIF. It's simply disgusting to watch. Barf bags at the ready, everyone. The narration at the end says, "When animals are killed for fur, two types of scavengers move in. The only difference is the flies don't know any better."note 
  • Lynx also commissioned the short film Skinned, which was eventually shortened to a normal format (the official version lasts 3 minutes long). A woman is shown heading to a fancy restaurant while garnishing herself in a fur suit, but while on her journey it seems to be a bit tight on her. But when she arrives and is about to eat, it gets really tight on her as the music (a trip-hop beat with an operatic woman singing, which grows more and more dramatic) intensifies, and eventually an entire group of people have to help get it off her. We fade out, fade back onto the woman's disgusted face, and then zoom in on a skinless fox wrapped around her. Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be a real dead fox.
  • This 1998 PIF directed by Tony Kaye shows a woman buying a fur coat. Except interrupting the shots of her are shots of a man skinning an animal, and we get to see it all in graphic detail. It ends with the tagline "Fur looks great... until you open your eyes."
  • A 1980s PIF by the League Against Cruel Sports starts with a man mounting his horse for a fox hunt, as a child sings the old song "A Hunting We Will Go". As the man rides, the child's voice is drowned out by an ominous choir singing something resembling "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana. The sky turns dark and the hunter's face changes to a crazed expression as text states that fox hunting doesn't actually control the fox population, but rather encourages them to breed for the purpose of being hunted. These foxes, says the ad, are chased to exhaustion and then torn apart by dogs bred specifically to move slower and prolong the chase. As the ad ends, we see the hunter has become a Psychopathic Manchild riding an adult-sized rocking horse in an eerily lit room. The children's song plays again, not sounding nearly as cute.
  • In December 2014, League Against Cruel Sports created this horrific cinema PIF. It begins with a woman holding her baby. At first, you're like "Oh, that's cute, but how does this relate to fox hunting?" Then, she looks out her door, and she and the baby have horrified reactions. The woman proceeds to put her crying baby into his crib, locks the house, then runs for her life out in the woods. And at this point, you realize that she is meant to represent the fox. The music proceeds to tense more and more as she tries to hide, only for her to be attacked, crying and panicking. The camera cuts to her mildly-beaten, horrified face, then fades out, thus preventing the viewers from seeing her agonizing death. And then, it proceeds to fade back to the baby in his crib, who is silently crying, now realizing that his mother will probably never come back. "What if it was you", indeed.
  • The charity Tusk Force ran a nightmarish PIF for cinemas featuring the sound of a bear being beaten and then boiled alive, accompanied by a recipe instructing viewers on how to do it at home. We're not shown any footage, all we see is the recipe, but the sound of the bear suffering an unimaginably agonizing death will stay with you for a while, as will the disquieting fact that "bears are considered a gourmet food in the Far East, despite the fact that they are dangerously close to extinction." The impact is slightly deadened when you search for "boiled bear" and this PIF is the only result, raising the question of whether it's even a real thing.
  • Another harrowing ad concerning bears shows and discusses what happens to real bears captured and made to dance or perform for entertainment or have its body parts be used to make medicine or food, but on a teddy bear. Not only is it sick to see a beloved toy get ripped apart so brutally, have its paws chopped off, and have a hook driven through its nose, the teddy even sheds a Single Tear.
  • One PIF by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), shown in cinemas in the early '90s, urged viewers to boycott Taiwanese goods. It opens with footage of white rhinos on a television screen (Taiwan is one of the countries that produces electronics). As the television rotates, a gunshot is heard and blood begins pouring out of the back of the television. The voice-over then explains, over the sound of rhinos being slaughtered, that Taiwan is the only country that still trades in poached rhino parts. Watch it here, if you have the stomach for it.
    "Tell Taiwan... you don't want the rhino to die."
  • The EIA also did a similar PIF about tigers, in which a tiger is shut in a box which then has swords pushed into it, like some sort of magic trick. Blood seeps out of the holes and the voice-over tells us how tigers in India are under threat from industry and habitat loss. The box is then opened, but the tiger is gone and the inside is painted with its blood. The uploader, PIF connoisseur easportsbig899, summed it up pretty well: "Rated 15, because this is some messed up shit."
    "So tell the Indian government today, you don't want the tiger to disappear... tomorrow."
  • Yet another EIA PIF features a chimpanzee witnessing various acts of cruelty and mistreatment towards animals, including a rhino with a nasty wound on its side and what appears to be dolphins being slaughtered as the water runs red with blood, set to Burn by Nine Inch Nails. This footage appears to be real and the chimp's reactions are realistic and well-acted for an animal. Eventually, the chimp gets fed up with it all and has a breakdown, ending in it pulling out a revolver and shooting the screen. It's very shocking and disturbing and well deserves the 18 rating the BBFC gave it.
  • Anthony Hopkins narrated a charity film for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, showing exactly what happens during the annual pilot whale hunt in the Faroe Islands, tone all too cheery compared to the eerie animated visuals of whales being harpooned and shrieking in agony. The film is very graphic but got re-rated from a PG to a U certificate in the United Kingdom (equivalent to a G stateside) because it is a cartoon. (Also, the makers wanted to show it in front of the obscure family film When the Whales Came.) Here's the video.
    • The same organization made this ad. We're told, by Julie Christie, that dolphins are just like us. We are then told that despite this, thousands of dolphins are killed every year from tuna nets while some of the footage turns red to show bloodshed. It ends with the sound of a dolphin screaming in pain, and Julie says that "they scream like us."
  • Finland's "Beautiful Greed" PSA from the 1970s. It features a beautiful woman wearing a seal fur scarf. As she covers the lower half of her face with the scarf, footage of a seal being clubbed plays intermittently. She then uncovers her face to reveal that she is actually a vampire. Sweet dreams!
  • This 1990 ad from Humans for Animals. It shows a woman shedding a single tear and wiping it off while we're told that a lethal substance is sprayed into the eyes of over 3,000 rabbits, 12,000 guinea pigs are shaved with toxic irritants touching their skin, and that over 5,000 animals die every year.
  • Faith Foundation made this 1990 ad about poaching rhinos. It uses a machine gun to illustrate its point, showing the number of bullets it would take to wipe out the remaining western Black Rhinos in Tanzania, all while we hear unsettling African tribal music. In 2011, the western black rhino was declared extinct, which means that this ad didn't work.
  • This one from Tusk in 1995 shows a map of Africa zooming into Somalia and Ethiopia while we're told that in the last 5 years, poaches have killed over 2,000 black rhinos. We then see a chainsaw cutting off the map where Somalia is as if it were the horn of a rhino, with blood pouring out.
  • This one from Australia shows David Field perform an act of him getting killed by an unseen thing. We also see unsettling shots of him gasping for breath while he's staring straight into the camera. Sure, it's an act, but still unsettling, to say the least. And if you thought that was bad, we then cut to seeing actual footage of dead whales while David explains why he supports Sea Shepherd.
  • This haunting PSA from the World Society for the Protection of Animals shows a man in a dark workshop putting together a wooden bear. He starts by sawing off one of the bear's ears, followed by the claws and paw tips, and finally drills through the bear's nose. All of this is intercut with footage of a real bear going through the same torture. At the end, he finishes by putting a string through the nose, pulls it, and makes the bear "dance". A narrator then says, "Captivity, torture, or dance until death. The WSPA helps abused animals. Please help.". The camera work and distorted audio don't help.
    • The alternate cut of the ad is arguably worse, as not only does it include slightly different shots of the man putting the wooden bear together, but also a new, brief scene of a bear being hung by its nose.

Other / Unsorted

  • Comedic Australian duo Henry & Aaron are perhaps best known for creating some of the most unsettling ads to hit the internet.
    • This ad for The Central Institute of Technology in Australia. A video that's part typical college advertising, part meta-humor, part horror. A guy shows his friend around the campus by snapping his fingers and "teleporting" him around. It's super hilarious, until the guy realizes he teleported himself through a rack of clothing. His friend tells him to teleport away and a scream comes from down the hall. Most horrifying is his friend's fear and horror upon realizing that he's dead. Why is he dead? Well, he teleported himself through an employee ladder! Then again...
    • A few years later, they made this little horror, a fake PSA for not being truant. It starts with some kids sneaking out of school and heading off to the beach, set off to a catchy indie-folk song. Then one of the girls explodes randomly, and it's revealed that they're actually on an explosive testing site, where more kids blow up. The best part is at the end where the last girl to survive is on the ground doing a Skyward Scream upon realizing that all her friends are dead, as the camera zooms out to reveal a huge mushroom cloud, and just as that happens her screaming is immediately cut off.
  • This PIF from Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for paying road taxes has a mechanical laughing clown at the end of a pier, representing the kind of person who refuses to pay their taxes and laughs at those who do. It's unnerving, and the fact that the pier is deserted and that it appears to take place at night does not help.
  • This 2003 ad from the Carbon Trust, in which energy wastage is depicted as blood seeping out of office appliances.
  • A certain ad from the DVLA, which portrays their computer as an unstoppable monolithic thing that will personally hunt you down if you don’t pay your car tax.
  • An outdoor ad campaign called "The Longest Night" from Open Family Australia targeting child homelessness. Its trio of ads are quite unnerving in their portrayal of how The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
  • "The World of Autism", a PSA produced by Autism Speaks, in which a stop motion-animated boy note  journeys through a bizarre world inhabited by strange creatures, which represents the signs of autism (poor response to change, sensitivity to lights and sounds, inability to make eye contact, and arm-flapping movements). One particular segment from the ad — in which the boy ventures into a dark forest or garden and is surrounded by creepy glowing-eyed creatures — was adapted into billboard format. Accompanying the unsettling image is the text "Sensory Sensitivity is a Sign of Autism" in a white Jokerman-esque font.
  • An advert from Guide Dogs for the Blind, in which a careless man's ringing phone causes a blind man and his guide dog to walk straight into the path of an oncoming car.
  • "Such A Stupid Way To Die", from 1971, talks about the risks of hypothermia and exposure in the New Zealand alpine bush. "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", specifically the trope-naming screaming section, plays at the exact moment one of the characters dies of hypothermia.
  • This advertisement from Method, a company that makes ethical cleaning products that don't use chemicals that persist in the environment after their use. The PSA starts off like you would a normal Johnson & Johnson commercial, with saccharine singing soap suds. However, it becomes creepier when the woman comes to take a shower the next day, only to see the soap suds remaining. The PSA ends with the suds singing in cheery acapella as they watch her shower.
  • This horrifying cinema ad from the Philippines, which compares illegal film camcording to stealing gas for money, hijacking a motorcycle, sexual harassment, and corruption. The ad ends with a message that illegal film camcording and stealing are the same, and that film piracy is a crime. The dark backgrounds at the end are what makes it scary, along with the music.
  • An Ad Council PSA from the early 2000s has some creepy calliope soundtrack playing as we see a letter spinning around slowly in an acid-colored vortex as a voice-over tauntingly asks us to identify it, "Am I a "p"? Or a "d"? A "q", perhaps? Or a "b"? [chuckles] I am dyslexia and millions of kids struggle with me."
  • A 1989 PSA from Keep Boston Moving features the off-screen crying of a woman explaining that her husband has gone into cardiac arrest. While the others, also off-screen, try to assist him, someone says that an ambulance has been called and is on its way, only for us to see it not able to get through due to being stuck in traffic and no one clearing a path for it. Then a man cries out himself, "Where is that damn ambulance?!" with the implication that the husband will likely die.
  • If you thought body horror was terrifying, then look no further than in this ad for the Robert Marinho Foundation, which features a kid slowly morphing into a monkey while creepy and unsettling music plays in the background, during the ad, a narrator claims that children are deprived of education and as a result, they are "turning slowly back to the old age" (as in that they are slowly losing their intelligence), this commercial was so terrifying that Chadtronic covered it in his Halloween Special of his Cursed Commercials series in 2022, and given it a full 10 for it's extremely disturbing atmosphere, while some find it creepy, many find it hilarious due to ironically preceding the "Reject Humanity, Return to Monke" meme, it also received popularity with the Ani Morphs fanbase.
  • This animated PSA produced by Sheena's Place, a charity that helps those with eating disorders. It starts innocently enough, with cheerful music and Hansel and Gretel discovering the witch's gingerbread house. Hansel gleefully helps himself to the candy, and Gretel begins to stuff herself with cake, only to stop when she hears her parents' voices in her head:
    Father: So how's my plump little Gretel?
    Mother: (shaking her head) How do you do it? You eat as much as a boy!
    Father: Don't eat too much or you'll get fat!
    • She looks down at her stomach, horrified, and begins to cry. The words "How your child feels about her body is up to you" appear on the screen, and the video ends with the sound of Gretel vomiting off-screen, as Hansel turns around, concerned and confused. The video isn't particularly frightening by itself, but the message is that you, as a parent, could be influencing your child to develop an eating disorder, without even realizing the impact your words are having.
  • The "Secret Visitors" PSA for depicts the haunting hallucinations of a Parkinson's-afflicted older man, with a running inner monologue about the stories they tell and the way they conspire in his mind. It gets disturbing when one of the hallucinations - a middle-aged woman looks indifferently at him, as an ominous-looking man possessively clutches her shoulder - is revealed to be his own wife. What kind of paranoid misconceptions was the poor guy's disease stoking, and how might he act out on those baseless suspicions as his illness grows worse?
  • I SAW YOUR WILLY! It's a silly premise. A boy takes a picture of his private parts and it spreads across social media. But then it mentions that Alex gets a message from a man he didn't know. The text? "I liked your willy. Can I show you mine?". It's Nightmare Retardant when a bully messages "ur willy is rubbish!"
  • One PFI depicted a scene where homelessness caused a mom to lose everything in the fire as she, her son, and her daughter stand outside, waiting for the fire department to arrive. Hopefully, the American Red Cross is there to help families regain what they lost during the holidays.
  • "Mr. Yuk" is a poison control symbol. The idea is that when kids see the green, disgusted face on a product, they'll know it's dangerous. The PSA's downbeat music, creepy visuals, and emphasis that ingesting these products will make you "sick, sick, sick!" definitely help that point.
  • During The '80s, Britain faced the very real possibility of nuclear conflict. In response, the government issued the Protect and Survive leaflet, which was adapted into a series of twenty short films advising citizens what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. The concept alone is scary enough, but the most disturbing part is the one that advises what to do if someone in the household dies - place them in another room, wrap them up and label them.
    • Actor Patrick Allen was chosen to narrate. His voiceover would later be described as "the calm, clipped vowels of an announcer, advising how to build shelters, avoid fallout, and wrap up your dead loved ones in polythene, bury them, and tag their bodies".
  • This 1997 British ad about voting. Another announcer tells us that if you're not registered to vote, you can't have a say, all while we see a young man's mouth getting zipped up while staring at the camera.
  • This odd but creepy 2002 British ad which acts like a horror trailer where a young boy watches a film on TV that wasn't meant for him in the first place. We then get shown all the film certificates, which are 18, 15, 12A, PG, and U while talking about content advice.
  • This chilling British 1993 ad about dyslexia begins with a pen moving weirdly and wiggling about with creepy sound effects. The pen then stands up and moves like a snake while we're told that one child in every classroom is too frightened to pick up a pen. The real kicker is near the end after the narrator says his dialogue, the pen quickly crashes into the camera with a dramatic boom. We then see the pen lying down on a book while a drop of ink comes out. The fact that this was in cinemas is really chilling. This was given a U rating.
  • This 1980s Malaysian promo, which warns about the legal consequences of drugs, features a big pointing finger (which comes toward to the camera at the end), a silhouette standing in bars, and a black noose (meaning death/execution for drug smugglers). It doesn't help if you know that the promo aired on the same time the Barlow and Chambers' drug smuggling case has happened.
  • This one from DTI in 1999 about Action 2000 shows a man in a dark room writing something on a piece of paper. While all this is happening, a narrator asks us what sort of person would jeopardize your job, wouldn't listen to warnings, wouldn't look into solutions, and wouldn't make one phone call to find out how to save their company from the Millenium Bug. Just as he asks if it is us, the man quickly turns his head up to reveal no face. It almost comes out of nowhere.
  • A Filipino anti-abortion ad from the group Couples for Christ shows a manger revealing a rosary, a coat hanger, and an aborted fetus, all while a child's voice is sadly singing the Christmas song "Do You Hear What I Hear". And the text quotes the Golden Rule, implying that if you abort a baby, you're also aborting Jesus (remember, this is shown in the Christmas season). Not helping is that when the boy reaches the lyric "A child, a child", he suddenly starts crying caushing him to pause his singing before he finishes singing the final lyrics to the aforementioned Christmas song.
  • This 2006 PSA from India against female foeticidenote  is just as shocking. It shows multiple close-ups of aborted fetuses floating around in a lake as somber music plays in the background. The worst part is that this is actual footage shot at Fatehpur Sagar Lake. In the end, a tagline informs us that over 500,000 female fetuses are killed in India every year.
  • A public information film from Belgium, made in 1998 shows a brick wall that zooms out showing a face with a brick wall instead of eyes. There is eerie music in the backround and the narator says (in Dutch) "Don't be autistic torwards autism." After that you see a black screen with the name of the association (Vlaamse Vereniging Autisme) and the tagline: Time to break the wall of indifference. The narator says that the number you can call them.

It sure is a good thing there is at least one PSA that could probably cheer you up after all this.

Alternative Title(s): PS As And PI Fs