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Nightmare Fuel / Super Mario Bros.

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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_smbnf.png
The cherry on top: this also has moving eyes!
With a series as iconic and long-running as his, Mario has obviously run into his fair share of frights, as these examples will attest to.
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All spoilers are UNMARKED per wiki policy. Read at your own risk! You Have Been Warned.

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Main series

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    Main Series 

Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA)

  • Phanto. Creepy pumpkin masks that guard keys; when you pick up a key, they come to live and move really fast and chase you. Then just when you think you're safe after leaving the room, they follow you into the room you escape in. The GBA remake made him even worse by adding sound effects and making him grow as he chases you, and in the Satellaview version, big Phantos twice the normal size appear and chase the player without keys needing to be there.
    • In remakes, World 1-3 in particular has a chamber with a key, a squad of phantos, and a giant Phanto face in the background. When you pick up the key, the background Phanto face's eyes light up red.
  • In the SNES and GBA remake, they made warping much, much eerier. When you enter the Warp Vase, a creepy tune plays in the background while the screen becomes distorted and fades to black. See the warps in the SNES remake here.

Super Mario Bros. 3

  • The Angry Sun made some too scared to play past World 2. It just floats in the sky with an angry scowl on its face... only to suddenly swoop in and attack you halfway into the level. Even if you do get past World 2, it makes a surprise appearance again in stage 8-2, when it comes after you from behind a hill. Oddly enough, though, you can get rid of it with a mere Koopa shell of all things.
  • Boss Bass, a hungry, fast-moving fish that constantly chases you as you race against time to get to high-ground as the water level rises... if you don't make it to high ground in time, or worse, fall in the water, he will swallow Mario in one gulp, no matter how big you are, and you instantly lose a life. Unlike the Angry Sun, you cannot get rid of him for good — even if you do kill him, he will return just a few seconds afterwards, ready, willing, and very much able to kill you.
  • Chain Chomps are scary enough as-is. Then you learn that they can actually break loose from their chains if left alone long enough. Have fun.
  • In the first game, whenever you access a sky bonus area, the cheerful invincibility theme plays. In this game, however, such areas, as well as the World 5 sky area and "World 9", get a very eerie and ethereal theme, which is doubled down on in the All-Stars version.
  • World 6, Ice Land, has an incredibly eerie theme which stands out from the rest of the game's soundtrack. In stark contrast to the jolly and peaceful music and atmosphere most ice levels in the series seem to be made with in mind, it has a terrifying feeling of isolation that sounds appropriate for being trapped and lost in a blizzard. The All-Stars version isn't any better, and it's appropriate it'd be remixed again for when Mario receives threatening emails from an unknown stalker in The Thousand-Year Door.
  • World 7's first mini-fortress is completely abandoned, save for the Boom-Boom at the end. There's one room where you can see enemy-related infrastructure, such as the center posts for the Rotodiscs and the lanerns for the Hot Feet, but the enemies themselves are missing. Also the exit is non-obvious, and someone who doesn't think to use Raccoon or Tanuki form to fly up to the Warp Pipe may get stuck and die of time over all alone.
  • After completing World 7, you'd maybe expect a letter from Peach thanking you for saving the seven kingdoms. But nope, the letter is from Bowser this time, who has revealed that he's kidnapped her! And instead of a dreamy jingle playing with the letter, you get the first few notes of the boss theme and a flashing red background for good measure.
  • The laser-shooting Bowser statues in his castle. They look nothing more than typical castle decorations, until you approach them and they suddenly start firing lasers at you. Worse yet, there are no visual differences between the laser-shooting statues and the harmless ones, so you can easily be caught off-guard.

New Super Mario Bros.

  • In New Super Mario Bros., Bowser falls into lava in the first world. Not much different from what happened at the end of every single castle in the original Super Mario Bros... until the game proceeds to show him desperately flailing in the lava, and emerging with all of his flesh melted off. Totally unexpected and freaky as all get-out.
    • Later on in the game, it turns out that he's still alive and continues to live on as a skeleton.
  • Unagi the Eel returns from Super Mario 64 and is a regular type of enemy in this game. In World 8-3, there's also a giant, invincible version of it, which is easily the most terrifying enemy in the game.

New Super Mario Bros Wii

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/img_2855.JPG
  • The final boss fight first starts off with a regular Bowser-on-the-bridge boss fight. Mario looks up to what appears to be Peach, a remix of SMB1's ending music playing... before it starts Letting the Air Out of the Band, unveiling Kamek in a Peach disguise. He gets on his broomstick and gives Bowser some magic...the ground starts shaking. Kamek looks down, wondering what's happening... and then, Bowser springs up, looking tremendously huge, his eyes glowing a blood red, and he's very pissed. He starts chasing Mario down relentlessly in a mindless rage, with intense orchestral music playing and only becoming even more intense in the second phase...and it's his roar that really sells it.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hellvalley_skytree.jpg
They're watching you...
  • The black holes, much like in the first game, can be found in many places just waiting to suck Mario in if he falls off within range. The sounds they produce don't help matters at all.
  • This game introduces the Cosmic Clones, shadowy dopplegangers of Mario with glowing yellow eyes who mimic his every movement and cause damage on contact, suddenly appearing from nowhere with a high-pitched cackle and vanishing with a pained scream when the conditions are met to defeat them (usually doing something to make the level's Star appear). They'll likely only seem like a minor nuisance the first time you come across them, but in more restrictive spaces and when they spawn in large numbers, it's easy for just one brush with them to lead into either being dogpiled or knocked to your doom. The game also features Clone Comets, which force Mario to go through an entire level while being pursued by them, and which often feature a menacing theme that combines the underground theme with the original overworld theme.
    • Bear in mind it also isn't explained how or why these things exist, and the fact that there's an entire comet type that causes them to appear seems to imply they have no affiliation with Bowser and are simply created by some kind of mysterious force that naturally exists within the galaxies.
  • Digga-Leg is essentially a smaller version of the first game's Megaleg boss, sharing several of the same menacing qualities such as its gas mask-like face. Compared to its big brother, it's far less imposing in size and can't crush Mario instantly, but it still dwarfs the Mario bros, has red eyes and emits smoke from its "mask" on top of being far more mobile than Megaleg, being able to leap off-screen. It also has to be fought under the conditions of a Daredevil Comet.
  • Mattermouths, new enemies to the series, appear as large and disembodied Dry Bones heads surrounded by dark purple aura that somehow consume matter itself, eating through parts of levels and leave gaping holes behind them. They can't be defeated or harmed, and the only thing Mario can do to them is stomp on them to make them eat in the opposite direction. The trails they leave behind have a similar appearance to Dark Matter in the first game, which combined with their names implies they're made from Dark Matter.
  • Sorbetti, the boss of Freezy Flake Galaxy, a giant spiky grinning snowball creature with a freaky clownish face that produces almost nothing but shrill giggles. It's big enough that Mario actually walks around on its body before launching to the arena planet, and in the fight it constantly rolls after Mario, only stopping when it hits him, which causes it to laugh before rolling at him from the opposite direction. After two hits, both it and the music will stop abruptly before starting up again at a faster pace as Sorbetti begins furiously rolling after the plumber, all the while sporting a terrifying grimace and making constant maniacal grunting sounds. It's difficult to outrun the thing even with the snow structures and trees which slow it down, and even then it mows through them relatively effortlessly.
    • Speaking of Sorbetti, the planet leading up to it is quite a spooky area. It's engulfed in a blizzard which very suddenly kicks in as it's approached, and it obscures much of Mario's surroundings, leaving the entire place floating in a misty white void. It also uses a pretty mysterious and lonely theme that provides a major contrast with the galaxy's usual upbeat tune and atmosphere.
  • Haunty Halls Galaxy is a delightful little place which features pathways that move between ghostly portals, forcing Mario to hurry along rapidly-moving platforms fading in and out of existence, and the first mission has an entire area where Yoshi's Bulb Berry power-up is needed to traverse - get knocked off of Yoshi, and the entire level will vanish, leaving the plumber to fall to his doom in the endless abyss. It's worth mentioning that the level also features the aforementioned Mattermouths, as well as ghostly Octoombas that are bigger than Mario.
  • The slide segment of Slipsand Galaxy features Rhomps, giant rolling stone enemies which roll towards Mario from behind and need to be avoided. They're very comparable to Spindels from 64, except unlike them and their toothy grin, Rhomps only have an emotionless, unchanging smiley face carved into them, something which presents a bit of an unnerving contrast with the fact they instantly flatten and kill Mario on contact.
  • Shiverburn Galaxy appears to take place in some kind of canyon, as the level is surrounded by two enormous rock structures that tower over it. If you change the camera to first-person mode and look toward the cliffs above you, you can see three shadowy alien figures (pictured above), watching you. No matter where you are in the galaxy, they will always be there, and they will always be watching. Not once is their existence so much as hinted to in the game itself, and even to this day, absolutely no official reference has ever been made to the figures or their presence. The eerily tranquil music used for the galaxy really doesn't help matters either. The skybox implies that the cliff background is very far away, suggesting that these figures are somewhere between the size of a large hill to mountain-sized.
  • Flash Black Galaxy is a nyctophobe's worst nightmare - a near pitch-black stage which is only briefly illuminated by flashes of light that occur in time with beats in the music, which is an ominous remix of the underground theme. The level itself takes Mario through a tall vertical house area and a maze-like series of rocky platforms above a dark pit, with the background appearing to be a dark nighttime forest with a large tower-like structure in the distance.
  • Boss Blitz Galaxy, a Boss Rush against five of the first game's bosses, features a rather quiet but urgent-sounding track that lends the stage a frighteningly lonely atmosphere and gives the periods before each fight an incredibly prominent sense of danger. Not helped by the galaxy's nearly pitch-black space background that stands in sharp contrast to both games' largely colorful takes on cosmic backdrops, or the fact that the stage includes the likes of Bouldergeist, a boss who already provides the image for the first game's Nightmare Fuel page.
    • Even worse? You have to go through it again under the conditions of a Speedy Comet, making the music's urgent feel even more apparent than before. Good luck!

Super Mario 3D Land

  • An Easter Egg: In the yard at the end of any ghost house, waiting long enough causes a ghostly figure to appear in the background just behind the fence and will vanish after a few seconds. This figure doesn't actually do anything and cannot be interacted with, but what makes it creepy is that the thing resembles the Shiverburn Galaxy figures. They're not trees. They're still watching. And they're getting closer.

New Super Mario Bros. U

  • In a certain set of haunted levels in the Soda Jungle, you can see a giant, painted, Mega Bowser in the background (pictured at the top). He has blank, milky-white eyes and just sits there looking like he wants to eat you, sometimes moving his eyes. There's also a Bowser Jr. version with the same properties.

Super Mario 3D World

  • As cited from a Miiverse post, the Shiverburn figures are back. They can be seen through a reflection on a Clear Pipe Cannon on the last main level, The Great Tower of Bowser Land.
    • The post? "Anyone remember those mysterious faces on the top of the cliffs in SMG2? Or the mysterious face in the ghost house in SM3DL? Look closely at the reflection in this photo. Tell me what you see."

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    Misc. Games 
  • You know how in SMB1, when you defeat the fake Bowser at the end of a castle, you then go to the hallway in the back and a Toad thanks you for rescuing him while informing you that "Your princess is in another castle"? Super Mario Land does a pretty cruel twist on it. You defeat the boss in World 1-3, 2-3, or 3-3, go into the hallway behind them, and as sappy music plays you see what appears to be Daisy at first...only for her to reveal that she's actually an enemy monster in disguise while the music changes to a much more sinister jingle.
    "THANK YOU MARIO!"
    "OH DAISY"
  • The U.S. commercial for Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Before Wario was portrayed as the greedy Anti-Hero character he is today, the U.S. portrayed him in a way that made most young gamers afraid of him. It depicts Wario hypnotizing the denizens of Mario Land to follow him and turn against Mario (and thus kicking off the game's plot), all set to a creepy "hypnosis" sound effect.
    Obey Wario! Destroy Mario!
  • The Thwomps from Bowser's Castle in Mario Kart 64; it's that disturbing Evil Laugh. The green one in the cell is scarier for some reason. Luckily, they aren't scary in the Wii version's remake.
  • Super Mario RPG:
    • The Kero Sewers theme. Backed by an Ominous Pipe Organ, it's very eerie and gives a feeling of desolation in such a dark, underground area. It also plays in Land's End, which is a Palette Swapped- Kero Sewers, and in the depths of the Moleville Coal Mines that have become infested with enemies.
    • Smithy, himself. Imagine a cyborg-bearded-giant-king-mechanical being, with More Teeth than the Osmond Family, and a couple of replaceable heads, each just as creepy as the original.
    • The final battle with Smithy. Never mind that he hammers his own skull into new weapons; he's a massive war machine in a playful fantasy world. A massive war machine that not only makes simpler ones in bulk, but (going by whatever the hell is going on with the Factory Basement in the second phase) is apparently self-replicating too, and the Smithy you fight is just the one currently active.

    Subseries 

Super Princess Peach

  • The wall of Blindfold Boos in Bowser's Villa is so fast you can only escape from them while crying, and if they catch Peach they move on to swarm the rest of the screen before her position is reset.
  • The Mad Boos and Mad Big Boos, which look positively Ax-Crazy, with beady orange eyes, sharper-looking teeth, and a more sinister grin.

Yoshi's Crafted World

    Other 

Super Mario Bros. The Movie

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/super_mario_bros_movie_nightmare_fuel.jpg
  • Daniella and Daisy's kidnappings are played to scary effect, as Iggy and Spike grab them when they think they're safe; Daniella's is worse because it happens just after Mario leaves and her screams are cut off when they gag her. Worse, Iggy and Spike had been kidnapping other girls off-screen, and the residents of Brooklyn have no idea who took them and why.
  • Koopa attempts to seduce Daisy in an incredibly creepy manner, talking about how fresh and clean she is while telling her she really belongs in the world of dinosaurs. His appearance gradually gets less human over time, including a more prominent forehead and a long lizard tongue, and when he moves in to kiss her Daisy, understandably, screams and forces him away. (Early drafts suggest he was attempting to rape her.)
  • The brothers dissolving between dimensions. Mario was conscious of the fact that he disintegrated, and there's a lengthy shot of him falling between worlds without any solid ground above or beneath him.
  • Koopa's Transformation Ray that can de-evolve his prisoners into their evolutionary ancestors or worse, especially in the deleted scene where a guy gets devolved into primordial slime and sloshes out of the chair and onto the floor. As Koopa puts it, it's worse than death—it's being undone.
  • Halfway through the movie, Lena is fed up with Daisy and Koopa's interest in her and attempts to kill her with a knife. Daisy is barely able to stop the blade from going in, and when Yoshi rescues Daisy by grabbing Lena with his tongue, she retaliates by stabbing him in the neck and getting away. It's very intense, especially for kids, and is made worse by the Mood Whiplash of jumping back and forth from this scene to a funny scene of dancing Goombas in the elevator.
  • After Yoshi helps Daisy escape, she runs down a hallway and into Toad the Goomba, who is shot by another Goomba's flamethrower and set on fire. Daisy is horrified, and it's made worse by the practical effects used and that despite being turned into a mindless brute Toad is clearly in pain and scared.
  • After Lena succeeds in reuniting the meteorite piece with the meteor, energy flows across her, briefly showing her skeleton. Then she's suddenly flung into the wall and disintegrates into a skeleton, literally fossilized by the meteor energy.
  • When the Bob-Omb blows up, Koopa is already half de-evolved into a dinosaur by this point and looks very freaky as he has claws, a reptilian head, and a too-wide mouth with More Teeth than the Osmond Family but still retains a humanoid body. When he's launched into the bucket, there's a very effective pause as all you can hear are faint rattling noises, before a sudden Jump Scare of his Tyrannosaurus form lunging out, its mouth filling the screen.
  • After retrieving the meteorite at the night club, Lena swallows a worm that she's using like a cocktail olive. Except that the worm pleads for mercy as she drinks and then lets out a dying scream when she swallows it. It's not made any better when you realise it's a Shout-Out to The Fly (1958).
  • The city itself is pretty terrifying, especially for anyone expecting the bright, cheery Mushroom Kingdom of the games. It's dark, fungus-infected (and the fungus is sentient, albeit helpful), and full off strange devices and hostile people. It also has more than a few things in common with a police state, given how Toad is arrested for singing an anti-Koopa song and prisoners are hung from the ceiling in cages. Oh, and at least one form of punishment is for prisoners to be de-evolved into hulking monsters to work for the very people who did this all to them.

Other

  • The German Club Nintendo comic Super Mario in Die Nacht des Grauens (ENG)  features a zombie Princess Peach with creepy black eyes and a pale, cracked face.

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