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Nightmare Fuel / Sonic the Hedgehog

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If you think that's bad, just wait until you hear the screeching it makes.
No, not even the Blue Blur can be trusted not to give kids nightmares.

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  • The infamous drowning theme frequently reduces (most) players to tears while playing through Labyrinth Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog, if only because of how louder-in-comparison and unexpected it is. It is a frantic, booming jingle that gets faster and louder until the player drowns.
  • Any time you take a hit and you lose your rings. BRRRRIIINNNGGG! Quite the jumpscare.
  • Sonic's Death Throws sprites can easily catch the player by surprise, especially if it happens while traveling at high speeds the sudden stop is almost like a Jump Scare of sorts.
  • Death by getting crushed is one of the most common and feared ways of dying after drowning, due to the fact that nothing protects against it. You can be Super Sonic with 300 Rings remaining and still be paranoid around platforming sections because something could unexpectedly come down upon you or a moving platform you're on could push you up into the ceiling or a bed of upside-down spikes. It doesn't help that in some of the games, the hit detection for death by crushing can be wonky, causing you to be abruptly killed because you passed through a crush trap moving away from whatever surface it's designed to smash you against.
    • Oddly enough, Sonic Generations severely downplays this; yes, you can get crushed, but it is not a One-Hit Kill if you have rings, they'll fly out of you as usual as Sonic is comically Squashed Flat, springing back into shape several seconds later.
  • The And I Must Screamness of the games, concerning the woodland animals' Unwilling Roboticisation.
  • Doctor Eggman's classic western design. Once an adorable spherical humanoid with traits of both eggs and walruses, his cutesy appearance was changed when he hit American and European shores, and he was molded into this much more menacing creature. Most notable is that the dark goggles/tea shades he wears are seemingly turned into Black Eyes of Evil in Western artwork, making him look outright sinister.
  • Sonic's eyes, as well as those of a few buddies of his, look a bit too much like a single eyeball with two pupils.
  • A lot of Tails's backstory can be considered this. He has no known family in the game continuity and was constantly bullied in most adaptations. Even after that, Tails was constantly kidnapped, threatened as well as nearly getting killed by Robotnik, twice.
  • Metal Sonic, not just because of his intimidating design and modus operandi but also because he barely toes the line between your average Evil Knockoff Robot Me and a full-on Mechanical Abomination at times. Reaches its absolute peak in Knuckles Chaotix and Heroes when he transforms into Titan Metal Sonic and his gradual transformation into Metal Overlord respectively.
  • In games where the Final Boss must be fought with Super Sonic or Hyper Sonic, there is usually a pretty terrifying consequence if Sonic runs out of rings. For example, Sonic falls into the Earth's atmosphere, implying that he dies of re-entry burn-up or by falling a loooooooooong way down in Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic Adventure 2, and in Sonic Adventure he falls into what appears to be tens of meters of water and drowns.
  • The "raiding a massive air fortress" stages such as Wing Fortress Zone and Flying Battery Zone are frequently set high in the sky, and have some sections where you're platforming along the underside of whatever you're on. Sometimes the game is merciful enough to trigger death by Bottomless Pit right away if you fall without scrolling further. However, sometimes the game will scroll down a few screens before you finally hit the kill line, just to reinforce how high you are above the planet surface and set off acrophobia.

    Sonic the Hedgehog 2 
  • In the 2-Player Vs. Mode, when one player finishes a level, it starts a 60-second countdown for the other player to try and finish. The drowning music is once again involved (see folder above). Timing out doesn't merely cause the losing player to stop, they die as if the Act clock hit 10 minutes.
  • The Chemical Plant Zone is mostly remembered because of the quickly rising purple water with no air bubbles known only as Mega Mack, making any comeback to the surface more and more difficult as time went by, eventually culminating in an inevitable instance of the drowning countdown. This is referenced in Sonic Generations, where Tails remarks about how "and that pink water really makes me nervous for some reason", drives home how even Sega is aware of the level's infamy.
  • Aquatic Ruin Zone features stone with Robotnik's face carved on it, randomly activating arrow traps, and of course, water for Sonic to drown in.
  • The teleportation boxes freaked out some people as well, what with the music and the whole screen turning white as seen here.
  • In the Genesis games 2 and 3/Knuckles, there's a few kamikaze enemies (Asteron in Metropolis, Jawz in Hydrocity).
  • Mystic Cave Zone has a particular part in which the player must grab a vine or else drop into an inescapable pit of spikes, able to trap even Super Sonic.
    • Thankfully, the 2013 mobile re-release of the game turned it from a death trap into a Warp Zone to Hidden Palace Zone.
  • Playing around with savestates on this game and Sonic 2 Retro Remix with an emulator can result in a messy outcome.
  • The infamous Sonic 2 prototype has the infamous blank stages: Wood Zone Act 2, both acts of Cyber City Zone, and both acts of Death Egg Zone. No level, just glitched (if any) background) and plummeting to your death three times. Even worse, playing Death Egg Zone, which has no music, shuts off the Z80 processor, preventing sound from playing again until you reset.
  • Oil Ocean Zone's music is a bit creepy. What elevates it into Nightmare Fuel territory is that if you input a code on the wrong menu (entering 1-9-9-2-1-1-2-4 into the Options sound test rather than the stage select sound test), which not only give the player 14 continues, the music starts playing throughout the entire game, even if you navigate outside of the options menu. Worse, all sound effects are disabled!
  • Death Egg Zone's music has an appropriately chilling mood that makes it sound straight out of a horror film.
    • And if you think THAT'S horrifying, the beta version of the track is even worse, since some of the instruments haven't properly been implemented yet, resulting in it being replaced with the ring sound, leaving a very unintentionally track that feels off. If that wasn't enough, the fact that the actual zone, as stated above, doesn't play the music. You know what does play the music? Getting an extra life, which turns the music into an unintentional Scare Chord.
  • Similarly, although the music for the Final Boss is mostly just epic, the beginning of the track has the same Scare Chord notes that Death Egg Zone's music has.

    Sonic Spinball 
  • "Pinball Fortress" may sound cheesy. It isn't.
  • Unlike milder Badniks, Rexxon tries to eat Sonic whole...
  • The first boss, Scorpius, is a robotic scorpion with Robotnik's face. That's bad enough, but attacking it will cause it to open its jaw incredibly wide and let out a terrifying, electronic screech. And considering how many hits it takes to beat it, you'll be hearing that scream a lot.
  • The boss of Lava Powerhouse, Roboboiler, is this because of its appearance: Four disembodied Robotnik heads that vomit magma every time they're hit. Not just that, if Sonic falls down the drain during that boss battle, he will fall down to an area where the lava cauldron is, and barely managed to avoid being dunked by hanging onto a chain. The game gives you no instruction on how to escape the trap, so if you haven't encountered it before or read a guide before-hand, you're forced to figure out the right button combination in a high-stress situation, hoping you don't make the wrong move, all before the 5 second countdown expires. This is notably the only boss out of the four where draining out of the boss arena puts you in a life-or-death situation rather than just safely sending you back into the main portion of the stage.
  • The fully-functional Roboticiser with eyes.
  • Fall down an outlane and you get the Scare Chord and a Have a Nice Death message in red text.
  • The Game Over music is pretty Jump Scare-inducing. You can easily put it to these lyrics: "OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO..."
  • Sonic's Death Throws are a lot creepier, with Robotnik laughing as Sonic is killed! You hear the same laugh if you lose all 3 balls in the between-stage bonus games.
  • The 256 glitch levels that can be accessed through hacking are all sorts of nightmare fuel. WARNING: Sensory Abuse.
  • While it doesn't sound particularly scary, the options music is much louder than the other music tracks in the game, and if you go into the options menu, the sudden loudness of the music can make you jump out of your seat if you don't expect it.

    Sonic Advance series 
  • The first Sonic Advance uses a fairly pleasant and unused anywhere else in the game sprite depicting Eggman's "pointing" artwork as an after-credits message, as a stinger, telling the player "Hey, go collect all the Chaos Emeralds!"... with a pitch-black background. The message in the second Advance game, on the other hand, has a slightly modified version of the Eggman "menacing-and-greedy" sprite from the Sonic Advance 1 intro, still with a black background, telling the player to collect the Chaos Emeralds, but this time in all caps with a Scare Chord thrown in for good measure. The image itself can be seen at the bottom of this page.
    • It doesn't help that collecting any of the Chaos Emeralds, especially the last two, is absurdly difficult. The Special Stages in this game are thoroughly Nintendo Hard.
  • Sonic Advance 2 is one of the only games in the series to pose the question "What happens when Dr. Eggman's space stations are destroyed?" Well, it turns out that they descend to Earth and destroy whatever area they land in a giant explosion.

    Sonic Rush series 
  • This game introduces us to Dr. Eggman Nega. Unlike Dr. Eggman, who is already evil enough as it is, Eggman Nega is given next to no amusing moments to highlight how little he cares about those he causes suffering to. One of the most defining moments of this is when he makes it clear to Blaze that he doesn't care one bit about how much damage his scheme is doing to her world.
    • Sonic Rush Adventure further highlights how far off the deep end Eggman Nega truly is. After Sonic and Blaze defeat the Egg Wizard, Eggman Nega attempts to use what he calls the "Planet Buster Laser" on them. You know somebody is truly screwed up in the head when Dr. Eggman calls them insane.
  • We get a little more insight into just how powerful the Chaos Emeralds are in this game. During the pre-final boss cutscene, the two Eggmen spell out that the Chaos Emeralds and Sol Emeralds act as two sets, and when they come into close proximity with each other, they generate enough power to alter the fabric of reality, and even allow parallel worlds to cross over and overlap with each other. Now imagine what somebody like Eggman Nega would do if he had full control over that kind of power.
    • Sonic Rush Adventure illustrates that as well. When he gains access to the "Power of the Stars", which Eggman claims is even greater than that of the two sets of Emeralds, Eggman Nega goes completely power crazy, practically jumping for joy over how easily he can wipe Blaze's world out of existence.
  • If you don't collect all of the Chaos Emeralds in the first Sonic Rush, you get Eggman Nega telling you to collect them, accompanied by a creepy tune.

    Sonic Riders 
  • Sonic Riders is a game you'd think has absolutely no potential for Nightmare Fuel whatsoever... until you race in the Digital Dimension track, the first half of which is a hellish landscape with creepy gargoyle statues and skeleton hands that try to drag you into a pit. Its potential for inducing nightmares is lampshaded in mission briefings as Storm the Albatross says he's scared of the place. The second half of the track is Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Sounds like a relief, but it comes across more as unnerving.
  • In the game, all characters can attack each other. These attacks change as the racers collect rings and level up. Most of the attacks are quite cartoonish and comical, but Sonic's Level 3 attack happens to be spinning into another racer and repeatedly and brutally smashing them into the ground as Sonic spins, while the sound of bones cracking is heard.
    • Those who aren't bothered by said attack, well, they've probably crashed into walls so many times they're pretty sure they're just hearing the usual collision sound.

    Sonic Colors 
  • The closest Eggman has gotten to a true Moral Event Horizon in the games: He tried to capture an entire alien species, the Wisps, just so he can use their life energy to power his machines, which could've brought the Wisps to extinction if Sonic and Tails failed to stop him. Eggman's master plan was to use them to power a mind-control weapon that's powerful enough to enslave the entire universe.
    • To give you an idea of how much of a Moral Event Horizon this is, note the similarities to Black Doom's plan in Shadow the Hedgehog.
    • In the DS version, upon seeing the Nega-Wisp Factory for himself and what's going on, Sonic seems on the verge of snapping, which isn't helped by his most angry dialogue sprite being used. To see the cool-headed hero lose his temper like this is definitely cause for concern.
      Sonic: That monster! Rrrrgh... When I get my hands on him...
  • From the Wii version, the Sonic Simulator theme, which in the DS version is orchestrated.
  • Run out of Drill power while still underground and you die. It's the ONLY Wisp that can kill you if it runs out. Thankfully not the case if you're using Drill underwater, but then again, it's water.
  • Purple and Violet Wisps. They were once normal Wisps that were captured by Eggman and forced to obey him, and as such were turned into this and this. The forms they give in Hyper go-on, Purple Frenzy and Violet Void respectively, aren't very pleasant either, turning Sonic into a nightmarish purple monster that eats enemies around him. Thank goodness the enemies are only robots...

    Other Games 
  • Sonic R has the Tails Doll, a blood-red gem dangling over the head of a ragdoll sewed in the glory of the cute mutant fox. While it's one of the most harmless characters, the floating gem makes the doll's movements jerky and out of place compared to the others, making it creepier than it intended to be.
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has the haunted mansion racetracks: the scariness, here, is a given, considering they come from House of the Dead.
    • In All-Stars Racing Transformed, the X-Ray Sparks that are the result of being electrocuted reveal that the characters' skulls have no eye or nose sockets, or even teeth. Granted, the characters' skeletons were most likely drawn sloppily and featureless because the developers figured that they shouldn't waste tons of polygons on something that the gamers will only see for a few frames, but still!
  • The Game Over screen for Sonic 3D Blast: instead of the words "Game Over" simply flashing on screen after the last life is lost, the screen turns a pale blue as the letters for "Game Over" appear, set to the Game Over theme from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, then at the very end, the screen just shatters.
    • The Genesis version of The Final Fight has been considered unsettling by some, due to taking place in a featureless black void.
    • The boss theme in Saturn version makes it even more off-putting by focusing on tension with low-key pianos with its similarities to the US Sonic CD boss theme in that regard.
  • Metal Sonic's appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1's alternate ending is a bit unnerving, when unexpected.
  • One of the most creepy moments was the open interpretation of the incomplete ending of the Game Gear version of Sonic 2, in which Tails gets kidnapped by Dr. Robotnik. If you don't collect all the Chaos Emeralds throughout the game, then you do not gain access to Crystal Egg Zone and have the bad ending credits, at the end of which Sonic looks up and sees a constellation of Tails in the sky, which could very well pertain to Tails' presumed death. YouTube user WhoIsThisGit had a field day with that one.
  • The bad ending of Knuckles Chaotix shows the final boss hovering over a city in flames, the implication being it just burned the whole place down.
    • The final boss (a One-Winged Angel transformation of Metal Sonic's, the seventh Chaos Ring turning him into a full-on Mechanical Abomination) is rather terrifying, with its blood-red color scheme and vicious fangs, plus copious shading that gives it an overly-detailed and truly menacing appearance.
  • The Game Gear game Tails Adventure has a boss where you're trapped in a room and must use Tails's mini-robot to defeat Dr. Fukurokov. To do this, you have to navigate the robot through a tiny maze to reach a rock you must push onto the boss's head. He looks startled momentarily, then falls on his back and stays that way.
    • The entire Adventure kicks off by Tails narrowly avoiding getting firebombed by the Kukkus. One moment, he's relaxing in the Poloy Forest. One moment later, the entire clearing around him goes up in flames. And during the gameplay of Poloy Forest, the place is still smouldering, with glowing embers still visible in the husks of burnt trees.
    • Tails Adventure in general can be pretty jarring, going from robotic enemies for most of the Sonic series to live ones here. Noteworthy is Speedy's second boss fight. He blows up. And seems to visibly spasm while it happens.
  • The arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog can be a little frightening. The story of the game is that Dr. Eggman/Robotnik has captured Sonic, Mighty, and Ray and puts them on his island that contains various death traps. The object of the game is to run from the beginning to the end in each level in one piece. The catch is the aforementioned traps such as giant tornadoes, gigantic stalactites, spike walls, and circular blades (which Eggman can activate with a push of a button). There are more in the game; the point is that it shows how determined Eggman is and how far he will go to destroy Sonic and friends. You can hear in his voice during the course of the game that he really loves torturing Sonic. That scream he lets loose at 1:14 proves this.
  • Sonic X-treme, even though it was cancelled and this soundtrack may not be real, has a pretty unsettling game over tune.
  • One of the bonus features in Sonic Gems Collection features a remix of "Can You Feel The Sunshine" as a techno piece... but it has a very unearthly, unnerving feel to it that is bound to hearken back to the previous myths of the Tails Doll, almost as if the person arranging the track knew the song's reputation in relation to the little burlap fox.

  • In Sonic and the Secret Rings at the very end of the game Erazor Djinn absorbs the 7 seven world rings despite haveing botched the ritual needed to control them by killing Shahra instead of Sonic. He nearly undergoes a Superpower Meltdown then and there, as were treated to several shots of his body painfully warping, briefly becoming an indecipherable mass of limbs before he finally transforms into Alf Layla wa-Layla; a six armed top heavy monster with three hollow holes for eyes. And throughout all of this hes ranting about his intentions to completely rewrite all of reality, not even caring about what hes become. The normally cool and collected Sonic is completely horrified at witnessing all this.
    Sonic: This is awful. You're just some... incomplete monster...

    Non-Game Media 
  • The plot of Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik's Laboratory is Robotnik transforming animals into robots. Not too different from his normal plans, you may think; but rather than capturing animals and throwing them into machines, he's invented a device that'll transform the physical body into something "useful". For example, Johnny Lightfoot is transformed into a mop. Worst of all, the creature that is transformed is fully conscious and aware.
    • Then there is a slight malfunction and the machine transforms a group of crawlers into "something resembling crawlers but made out of spaghetti", and they slowly fall apart with shocked expressions on their faces.