Considering the pedigrees behind Puella Magi Madoka Magica, some creep factors are to be expected. However, the sheer level of Nightmare Fuel to be found in the series has been rather terrifying. Do NOT be fooled by Ume Aoki's sweet character designs; this show is "Devilman with Magical Girls; a Tear Jerker with tears made of pure Nightmare Fuel." Yeah, it's that kind of show.
As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. As the show is also well-known for its sudden and rapid descent into madness, many of the spoilers appear early on. You Have Been Warned.
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Episode 1 - As If I Met Her in My Dream...
- While most remember the nightmare fuel from Episode 3 onwards, the Nightmare Fuel was there as early as Episode 1, with the Anthonies: Freaky, mustachioed little shits who look like Creepypasta someone would claim to witness while watching South Park. Now look at them in action — the animation for them is deliberately jittery, and their babble translates to planning to cut Sayaka and Madoka up and present them to Gertrud. Then their cheerful chanting gives way to them making horribly deformed faces and attacking the main characters with scissors. Brr.
Episode 2 - That Would Be Truly Wonderful
- Gertrud's entire appearance is disgusting and horrifying, as pictured.
Episode 3 - I'm Not Afraid of Anything Anymore
- Mami's death. Her head is bitten off by a monstered-out Charlotte, shortly before the rest of her is eaten as well.
- It's more graphic in the manga. Instead of Mamiís head being bitten off offscreen, we actually see Charlotte gruesomely rip her head off. Charlotte's One-Winged Angel form is also much scarier in the manga, as opposed to the kind of cute version in the anime.
- And then Homura blows up Charlotte and we get treated to the sight of a pile of fleshy goo landing on the table next to her. That's right, it's a half-digested Mami...
Episode 4 - Miracles and Magic Are Real
- A huge group of people enchanted to commit mass suicide, who all turn on Madoka once she wrecks their plan. Not helped by the fact that their behavior is disturbingly reminiscent of a group of people joining a cult.Hitomi: Don't you see what an amazing opportunity this is? We can finally get rid of these bodies that hold us back. Oh Madoka! In a little while, you'll understand too. (crowd applauds)
- The way they try to commit mass suicide is terrifying in its simplicity: mixing two cleaning chemicals commonly found in homes, heavily implied to be chlorine bleach and ammonia. We even see Madoka's mother teaching Madoka to never mix the two, as the consequences can be lethal.
- Madoka is drawn into Elly's barrier... by being torn apart and drawn into the barrier, piece by piece through several monitors, before being reconstituted within. If that wasn't enough, Elly preys on Madoka's grief by replaying Mami's death over and over, to convince her to give up as she's stretched and nearly torn apart for good. Lovely little Body Horror there, all pictured in this folder. For a change, all of these horrors are strangely absent from the manga.
Episode 6 - This Just Can't Be Right
- Kyoko's conversation with Sayaka on how to win Kyosuke's heart is so casually spoken that it's unnerving as it gets progressively darker.Kyoko: If all you wanted was to possess the boy you love, aren't there a lot of better ways to do it? After all, you've got all that magic now...
Kyoko: You should bust in there right now... and break his arms and legs so bad he'll never be able to use them again. Make him so helpless he won't be able to do anything without you. Do that, and this time, he really will be yours and yours alone. Both his body and heart will be all yours... If you don't have the guts to do it, I wouldn't mind busting him up for you. You know, as a favor to my fellow magical girl? It'd be so easy to do, too...
Episode 7 - Can You Face Your True Feelings?
- There were earlier hints that Kyubey wasn't all he appeared, but this is the first episode where that becomes explicit. He is utterly uncaring towards Sayaka's feelings about her Soul Gem, and presses down on it to show her what "true pain" from within her soul looks like ... never losing that red-eyed little smile as she lays curled up on the floor.
- In Episode 7, Sayaka is informed by Hitomi that she, too, has feelings for Kyosuke and plans to confess the next day. After she has a good cry about it, Sayaka beats the witch that resembles Hitomi with a ferocity that has never been seen before, laughing maniacally all the while. Much like Mami's death, this is also worse in the manga. She features a creepy Slasher Smile the entire time.
- And in the DVD version of the episode, she ''bleeds''◊.Sayaka: [Laughing Mad] It's true! I can block out the pain! I don't feel any pain anymore!
- To make matters even worse in the movie, a Freeze-Frame Bonus shows one of Sayaka's arms is absolutely mangled out of shape. Whether Elsa Maria did it to her or she did it herself by the force of her own attacks, she's still hammering away at the Witch with it like a flail.
- And in the DVD version of the episode, she ''bleeds''◊.
- In Kyoko's backstory, she became a magical girl by wishing that people would listen to her father's religious teachings. When he found out what she had done, he fell into despair and horror, denounced her as an evil witch who was corrupting his flock, and killed Kyoko's mother and sister before committing suicide. The entire sequence is drawn up as a puppet show; the stick figures add to some really creepy imagery and especially the burning scene which is accompanied by a scene of her father hanging himself.
- Mr. Sakura's reaction to his daughter's wish is some Realism-Induced Horror. Without the magical elements, imagine trying to do something nice for somebody you love, only for them to react so badly when they find out what you've done that they hate you for it and end up committing Murder-Suicide.
Episode 8 - I Was Stupid, So Stupid
- Sayaka's gruesome transformation into Oktavia von Seckendorff. It's full of unnerving and creepy imagery, and from the brief shots of her Witch's form you can tell it's a horrific looking abomination.
- With Sayaka's fate sealed, the Awful Truth about magical girls is finally exposed: they are the "larval stage" of witches and destined to become them when they fall into despair. Every witch the girls have encountered up to now? Once a former magical girl, just like them. And this is what Kyubey wanted to happen from the very beginning. Sayaka making her wish to heal Kyosuke's hand, realizing the truth about her Soul Gem and that she'd rejected her humanity, falling into despair, becoming a witch and having to be killed by her friends? He planned every step of it, and nobody realized until it was too late.
- Think about every witch that has appeared until now. Gertrud, Charlotte, Kirsten, Elsa Maria and every other. Every single one of them was once a girl with hopes and dreams, just like Sayaka, who made a wish and became a magical girl. And she inevitably succumbed to inescapable despair, transformed into an Eldritch Abomination, and had to be put out of her misery by other magical girls who only saw her as a monster to be killed, or who may have been her allies and friends.
Episode 9 - I'd Never Allow That to Happen
- The battle against Oktavia. Everything about her including her appearance and the Eldritch Location nature of the barrier is highly unnerving. To make things worse, Oktavia screams with a warped version of Sayaka's voice.
Episode 10 - I Won't Rely on Anyone Anymore
- Madoka, now Kriemhild Gretchen, is not simply a witch; and Walpurgisnacht (easily the most powerful witch in the Madoka universe up to this point) is merely a blip compared to her. She's become something that Yui Ikari would envy and that Remina would fear. To make things even worse, take a look at her witch's card. That thing? That giant, mountainous thing? That's the witch of SALVATION.
- Her definition of "salvation" is strongly rumored to be something like Instrumentality, or even worse, a Matrix-style Lotus-Eater Machine. Worldwide happiness is so much easier once you remove that pesky "individuality" thing, right?
- When the storm clouds burst from Madoka's Soul Gem and form into a lumpy, amorphous shape just barely resembling her.
- Homura's fate is also worth some mention. Specifically, she constantly goes back in time to prevent Madoka's death/corruption. She has to watch the suffering of Madoka and the other Magical Girls over and over again, and the outcomes are crueler with every timeline. At one point, she was forced to shoot Madoka's Soul Gem to prevent her transformation into Gretchen. That was at Madoka's own request.
- In an interview with the director, he stated the the number of times Homura has re-wound time is approaching 100. If we consider that Homura left the hospital in the middle of March and Walpurgisnacht appears at the end of April, that means that Homura's been lost in time for about 12 years. In other words, she has been at war against witches and Kyubey for 12 years.
- Of all people, Mami going through Sanity Slippage is pretty chilling. In one timeline, after failing to rescue Sayaka from her witch form, Mami restrains Homura, and then delivers a Mercy Kill to Kyoko by shooting her Soul Gem. Then, her end is quickly met after Madoka fires an arrow at Mami's Soul Gem. It's just a straight up minute or so of the remaining Magical Girls losing their minds over their fate and it's just awful and scary to witness.
- Though it's definitely on the milder end of the spectrum compared to most of the other Nightmare Fuel in this series, one scene showing Homura killing Kyubey, only for another Kyubey to immediately appear in the foreground is very creepy in a Paranoia Fuel kind of way. It really hammers home the feeling of hopelessness and fighting the inevitable that Homura is going through.
- In one timeline, we see what it's like to be visited by a witch from a first person Homura's perspective. Sure, she is rescued before anything terrible happens, but it is still creepy as hell.
Episode 11 - The Only Thing I Have Left to Guide Me
- Kyubey talks with Madoka about the relationship between incubators and mankind through history. Its eyes. ITS FUCKING EYES. When asked about why he has no feelings to the girls' tortures...
- Madoka's body during the last part of it, dear Lord. She goes into the freaking fetal position while begging Kyubey to stop talking. By the end she moves out of the fetal position, places her head back and her body goes limp.
- "Do you feel any guilt or remorse for the livestock you consume?" Then they show quick shots of farm animals in pens, done in that creepy "stained glass" art style.
- Walpurgisnacht's Establishing Character Moment. The skyscraper-sized thing is drifting down through the clouds, fire sprouting up around it, and it lifts its enormous central gear and slams it back down. It really hammers home that this thing is no ordinary witch, it's a god among witches.
Episode 12 - My Very Best Friend
- The universe-ending witch Madoka is unsettling. That enormous Eldritch Abomination with two halves of a face? Completely engulfing the earth? Dear Madokami.◊ Yes, that thing is Kriemhild Gretchen, the witch form of our adorable protagonist.
- Madoka in the middle of her transformation into Kriemhild Gretchen in the PSP version is certainly creepy, if not terrifying. From the way it looks like the grief seed is splitting Madoka's body in half, and the silhouette of what used to be Madoka... *shudder*
- There's an event that happens if Charlotte eats Sayaka's Soul Gem and Madoka and Homura, being inexperienced, can't find Charlotte's barrier. We learned in Episode 6 that Soul Gems are Soul Jars, and the body is useless without it. Add that to the fact that Magical Girls die when they lose contact with their Soul Gems for 2 days, and that's pretty creepy on it's own. They had to make it even creepier by adding that when a Magical Girl loses contact with her soul gem, she starts to decompose. Luckily, Kyoko kills Charlotte before Sayaka dies. Happy ending, right? Wrong. Sayaka's body had already started decomposing before her Soul Gem came back. So she wakes up, unaware of what she looks like, and just happens to meet Kyousuke. Who FREAKS. OUT. You can guess what happens next.
- Sayaka's bad end. She has been deprived of her Soul Gem for so long that by the time her friends retrieve it, her body had already started to decompose. She hurries to go see Kyosuke. It does not end well. Her decomposed body is not completely shown, but that just leaves how nightmarish it is to the imagination.
- The Witches and their Familiars, of course. It would be easy to just say "all of them", but since this is the NF page, we might as well describe in detail how they're scary, just like we described how the characters are Woobies in The Woobie page. The fact that many of them are animated in cut-and-paste animation courtesy of Gekidan Inu Curry (the graphic studio that animated Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei's trippier sequences) have helped earn this anime a seat in Japan's Nightmare Fuel Hall of Fame.
- The Anthonies are pictured above and described under the entry for Episode 1. Their mistress Gertrud looks like a butterfly with a cut-and-paste rosebush for a head (which almost looks more like a glob of snot shaped like Cthulhu). Also, after they've sucked the life out of their human victims, they use their bodies to fertilize Gertrud's precious rose garden; (a theme we shall be revisiting).
- Albertine (seen only in the video game) resembles a Creepy Doll. Her familiar Anja is a living childish scribble (also animated in a flighty style, with a creepy laugh provided by none other than Madoka's seiyuu Aoi Yūki), who turns her human victims into balls that bounce for each lie they've ever told.
- Patricia (the "Class Representative Witch") not only has multiple limbs but also no head, and shoots spiderwebs from between her legs.
- Kyubey's deceptively cute appearance grows more and more unsettling as the series continues and Kyubey's true nature becomes apparent. The series emphasizes this by giving him extreme close-ups when he's being especially devious. Which isn't to mention his glowing red eyes in Episode 8 when he reappears◊ after Homura shoots his original form...