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Nightmare Fuel / Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

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Just because this show is Lighter and Softer than Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard doesn't mean that it doesn't have its moments of real terror.

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Season 1

    Episode 1: Strange New Worlds 
  • Throughout the episode, Pike is haunted by the image of his burned future self—that is to say, it's what he sees in every reflective surface, be it a bottle, a control panel, anything. It ends up giving the effect that the vision is actively chasing him down.
  • Pike's presentation to the Kiley includes a lengthy description of the near-destruction of Earth in the show's version of The New '20s. During his speech, footage is shown of scenes of unrest and violence, including real footage of the 2021 US Capitol riot (notably, the first time any Trek series has directly referenced current events) and ending with images of New York, Washington D.C., and Paris note  being destroyed by nuclear bombs. Given the explicit references to the time period, and real-world events at the time of the show's production and airing, it comes off as a bone-chilling Humans Are Bastards speech both in-universe and out.

    Episode 3: Ghosts of Illryia 
  • The virus that invades the Enterprise starts out as a silly nod towards the infamous polywater intoxication incidents seen in TOS, TNG and Lower Decks as everyone just feels starved for sunlight and to warm up. Even Una's actions when she's initially infected seems sensual in nature. However, things turn from goofy to serious almost quickly: Ensign Lance shoves his head through a window to get to some light, then some crew members create a simulation of a sun in their quarters so intense that it gives them severe sunburn. Hemmer nearly teleports a piece of the planet's mantle and La'an nearly causes a warp core failure. Spock even theorizes that the Energy Beings that saved him and Pike were Illyrians who were driven so mad they ran into one of the planet's frequent ion storms just to get the light they needed.

    Episode 4: Memento Mori 
  • The Gorn. Making their first major appearance since "Arena" over 55 years agonote  and these aren't the lumbering monsters that took Kirk's best. Instead, they are presented as essentially a species of hunters who view all species, but especially humans, as simply food to eat while their ships feature Alien Geometries. By all accounts, this episode establishes the Gorn as this era's equivalent to the Borg.
    • The state of the colony when the Enterprise first arrives, the place is deserted, there's barely any power, leaving the place in total darkness. Then there's the scene where the landing party finds an empty room with a massive blood stain on the floor with signs that all the killed colonists were gathered in that one location; worse the bodies are gone and we never find out what happened to them...
    • La'an notes that the Gorn have never come out this far from their territory. The notion that the Gorn might be entering an expansionist phase so soon in the wake of the UFP/Klingon War doesn't bode well for the Federation.

    Episode 6: Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach 
  • Pike discovers the ultimate fate of the First Servant: mind-jacked into the Majalan supercomputer, suffering, unable to move (or possibly even think), face frozen in terror, until their drained body is reduced to a desiccated corpse. The sight of a child-sized object hidden under a shroud on a stretcher is already ominous, but the true horror comes when Pike then tears the shroud away. And to make it worse, he has to watch the boy he's been protecting suffer the same fate, despite his attempts to save him.
  • When taking his vows, the First Servant is initially joyful... until he sees his predecessor's body being carried away and softly exclaims a horrified 'Oh my god'.
  • The lead-in makes it even worse. The First Servant is dressed up like a prince and walks through throngs of cheering admirers, making the ceremony look like an actual coronation — and then comes The Reveal that he's being led like a lamb to the slaughter.
  • The First Servant's father went against everything he ever believed because his son was the one called to be the First Servant. He effectively worked as a spy to save his son from that fate, and he failed.
  • Alora - Pike seemed to really connect with her and the two of them had a wonderful rapport, maybe even better than his with Capt. Batel, until she stopped Pike from saving the life of the First Servant and did not tell him until the last possible second what the First Servant was meant to do. It was clear that she knew he wouldn't approve, and even her reasoning that the Federation has always had starving and suffering children that people ignore while her culture at least acknowledges the suffering inflicted on this child, seemed flimsily delivered. She knew that whether or not she thought it was wrong, Pike would definitely not understand. And he didn't, the look Pike gave Alora afterwards was one of absolute betrayal and horror. Someone he really cared about, and she thought the death and effective torture of a child to save their whole planet was justifiable.

    Episode 9: All Those Who Wander 
  • This episode is basically Star Trek meets Alien — our heroes are trapped with hostile creatures bursting out of people's bodies.
  • Ever wonder why Vulcans repress their emotions? Spock shows us why — he displays some seriously un-Vulcan savagery when he decides to channel his anger against the Gorn, and even after he and the others have been rescued, he's still furious enough to punch a hole in a wall and nearly takes it out on Chapel as well.
  • Gorn reproduction apparently entails spitting a venomous fluid onto a prospective host and allowing their offspring to incubate inside the host. Unlike the facehuggers of Alien the host has multiple Gorn hatchlings burst from their body, killing them instantly.
  • The Gorn hatchlings themselves are also positively dripping with Nightmare Fuel all on their own, with being barely the size of a person's hand upon immediate gestation and yet able to kill two fully grown humans in just seconds, with two working in tandem to drag one such victim across a corridor so fast phasers can't even keep up with them... and then they grow bigger.

    Episode 10: A Quality of Mercy 
  • Pike's future self shows him that any attempt to change their timeline has one major repercussion: the death of Spock. Pike sees this play out after their encounter with the Romulans, and it is gruesome. After a hull breach, he loses a leg, his spine is shattered, he suffers severe cranial trauma, and has radiation burns all over his body. A weeping Nurse Chapel says that even if he's saved, he'll never be the same.
    • And the fans know that even in the proper timeline that Pike chooses to preserve, Spock still suffers a terrible death aboard the Enterprise, it is simply pushed back a couple of decades. The saving grace is that, much as the fans know that Pike will be given a new life on Talos IV, they also know that Spock will be resurrected and reunited with his friends on Genesis.
  • The fact that the "proper" timeline apparently requires both Al-Salah men to suffer violent deaths, with Hansen outliving Maat by only six months.