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Nightmare Fuel / Sword Art Online

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     Season 1/Volumes 1- 4 
  • The first arc is prone to a mixture of this and Fridge Horror.
    • The premise of the Aincrad arc. 10,000 people think they signed up for a game, and instead they were really signing up for a war, and they don't even get to go through basic training first. As many of them die in the first month as do in the next two years. Everything Is Trying to Kill You, and some of the players start killing each other. The entire Aincrad arc is scary.
    • Player Killers are a large nuisance in MMOs in the current day, but when combined with the above premise, they turn into a fearsome threat. Even if you have the in-game prowess to defeat them in a straight fight, there's nothing preventing them from fighting dirty. Even worse, there's an entire guild consisting of these people.
    • The game also uses a karma system (a gem hovering above the player's head) to denote who's a Player Killer, with it going from green to orange if you attack and/or kill another Green Player. While this would theoretically make you feel much safer, it only applies to direct kills, and there are still plenty of players who find ways to keep their Green cursor while killing other players or members of PK Guilds who enlist or kidnap other Green players to act as spies and agents in their stead. So while you can safely bet that any red-gemmed player is an active player killer, there's no telling about those with other gem colors.
    • Finally, the game forces your avatar to use your physical features. So even if you've managed to avoid dying to player killers and escape the game entirely, those player killers still know what you look like and can hunt you down if they so choose. This is actually explored in the Gun Gale Online arc.
  • Skull Reaper, the very last boss that they fight, just before the reveal that Heathcliff was actually Kayaba, pictured above. No wonder everyone was running away in fear.
  • In A Murder Case in the Area, Grimlock arranged the murder of his guildmaster and real life wife Griselda because she actually rose to the challenge that SAO provided and she was no longer as submissive and dependent on him as she used to be IRL.
  • The opening to Episode 15. Everything's nice and calm and peaceful. And then the world breaks.
  • When people come out of their virtual imprisonment, both in SAO & ALO, they're disoriented, their muscles are atrophied, etc. They're helpless.
  • Anti-crystal zones: Traps where deadly monsters attack players who are unable to retreat because their teleportation crystals don't work. It gets worse: they're not anti-teleportation zones, they're anti-crystal zones, which means that healing crystals don't work either. SAO was already dangerous enough, but these traps (including some boss chambers, which are unavoidable) disable a player's two most important lifelines: the ability to flee by teleportation and the most efficient means of healing.
  • The deaths of the Black Cats, specifically Ducker, who is swarmed by Dark Dwarves who immediately butcher him with their pickaxes, with Ducker screaming horribly with each hit until he finally dies. Even worse when their leader, who was off buying their new guild house, comes back, finds them all dead, and leaps into the abyss to commit suicide.
  • The NerveGear in and of itself! Much of the danger from the Aincrad arc, and the reason players were stuck in there to begin with, is because the NerveGear was designed to flash-fry your brain if you died ingame or if someone from the outside world tried to remove it. Though some characters briefly brought up the option of unplugging the NerveGear, it has an internal battery and that internal battery could be used to... you guessed it... activate the brain-frying procedure. Kayaba had it all figured out.
    • He did get it back from Seijiro. Since Seijiro's unit handles all the fallout from SAO it's mostly safe to assume they have some techies who disabled that backup battery and brain fryer. Also, unlike SAO, other VR games probably have no coding that prompts the brain fryer to function upon player death, as they are built for the Amusphere, which has no such feature.
    • Also let us not forget that in the novels, Sugou points out that since Kirito was stupid enough to connect to ALO using his NerveGear, if Kirito falls prey to him, he will join the 300 poor souls he is experimenting on!
  • Now think about Asuna's brother. He lends his little sister a game while he was away, only to find out that she was caught in a trap meant for him. His situation is obviously not unique. How many parents and older siblings gave Sword Art Online to children as a gift? How many of those children died because of that gift? Survivor guilt ain't limited to the SAO players.
  • Kirito's severe depression in Red Nosed Reindeer. Even before he turns explicitly suicidal and resolves to banzai charge the bosses, he's displaying multiple warning signs of contemplating suicide: brazenly reckless behavior, insomnia, and cutting himself off from what few friends he has. Even scarier is the fact that this stuff is real: severe, untreated PTSD can easily degenerate into severe depression and suicide.
  • When Asuna's former escort reveals to be an Ax-Crazy killer who almost succeeded in murdering Kirito. All with a poison that paralyzes him. Thank goodness Asuna had Kirito on her friend list.
  • How about sleep-PK in SAO? Towns and other settlements are supposed to be safe zones where nothing can lower your HP, other than dueling, which requires your explicit consent. Thus, while within one you can rest easy, knowing you're never in danger. And this is critically important when what you initially thought was only a game has become something that could really cost you your life. And then, one day someone discovers a way around it, which involves exploiting the duel system: just by sneaking up on you while you're asleep and moving your finger to touch the popup window, they can fool the system into believing you've accepted a duel, and proceed to murder you while you're most vulnerable. And the worst part? Unlike in the real world, you might not wake up even while under attack.note  So now you have to live with the knowledge that even in a supposedly "safe" zone, if you've pissed off the wrong person, or have an item worth killing for, or you're just plain unlucky, you just might go to sleep and that would be the last thing you ever knew.
  • Sugou might as well be the most sadistic asshole to walk the earth. Just before his defeat, he molests Asuna after stripping her. In front of Kirito.
    • If Sugou hadn't been stopped by Kirito, he would have raped Asuna, who was in a coma, in her hospital bed.
    • The threat of rape is bad enough. But then there's also that he was almost certainly planning to use his mind control technology to make her love him (or some sick alternative) by manipulating her emotions and altering her memories, which may also have included completely erasing her memories of Kirito! And there's no telling what he might have done to Kirito himself. In fact, this whole scene is also kind of a Tear Jerker, as well.
  • Sugou's injuries from Kirito curb-stomping him in ALO were pretty gnarly. Before said beatdown, Sugou warned Kirito, while torturing him, that when the game's Pain Absorber was set to Level 3 or below, it would affect his body in the real world. Then Kirito gets administrative control over Sugou and set the Pain Absorber to Level 0. When Sugou appears in the real world trying to kill Kirito, he's going partially blind in one eye and has dove off the deep end. Granted, the motherfucker had it coming, but still...pretty gnarly.

     Season 2/Volumes 5- 8 
  • Death Gun. To the average person, the idea that they could die in a game is already frightening. To SAO players, it's living through the infamous "death game" all over again, especially since two of the people behind Death Gun were members of Laughing Coffin.
    • The first victim Death Gun claims is killed in a livestream. One moment, he's bragging about having won the last BoB tournament, and the very next, his face contorts in pain and he clutches his chest before disconnecting.
    • What's even scarier is the secret behind how Death Gun kills. Someone breaks into your house and gives you a lethal injection. And the threat doesn't have to be malicious, either. What happens if your house catches fire? You won't even hear the smoke detector!
      • It is pointed out in the Fairy Dance arc that Amuspheres are designed so that if you get called by family, police, a hospital or fire departments you are automatically pulled out of the game. In the Mother's Rosario arc we learn that loud noises such as someone shouting at you cause a warning to appear in game to tell you to log out.
  • Sinon's Blood Knight tendencies are bad enough that Kirito actually suspects her of being Death Gun.
  • Kirito's memories of the members of Laughing Coffin he killed haunts him to no end in Season 2, Episode 7. This image speaks for itself. Sinon's aren't any better. Just look at when she saw that Death Gun's signature gun was the same type she used to kill the bank robber years ago.
  • Death Gun paralyzes his victims before killing them. Kuradeel also implied that this was a common tactic in Laughing Coffin. The victims were fully aware of what was happening and completely helpless. And In-Universe, the idea that while Death Gun is trying to kill you in the game, another one is waiting in your room/apartment/whatever, just waiting for the right moment to inject you - and you're unable to do anything about it at all. The sheer imagery of this attempted murder is enough to send Sinon into a near panic-attack.
  • Shino Asada's backstory: To put it this way, her father died in a car crash when she was younger than 2, forcing her and her mother to move north from Tokyo. Just as things were going normal, she ends up in the crosshairs of a robbery, culminating in her grabbing the gun during a struggle and unwittingly shooting the robber dead. It's already bad enough but it gets a whole lot worse: Not only is her mother shocked in horror at the sight of her daughter holding a gun and having seemingly killed someone but she's treated like a pariah. Any attempts at therapy are all for naught as they hold onto their culturally-enforced disgust for guns and those who use them, as well as the belief that children are inherently innocent, and for her to have killed someone, even in self-defense, seems to them as meaning she's got the mindset of a cold-blooded killer.
  • The look on Kyouji's face as he's proposing to Shino. It's at this point it becomes clear that he's lost it. Shino did tell him to wait for her and was probably sincere, but she wasn't expecting him to be like this when the time came. After she pushes him away, he decides that since she won't have him, he'll just rape and kill her, then kill himself to join her in the next life, but not before confessing the entire Death Gun conspiracy to her. It's more terrifying when you look at his face before Kirito manages to save her in the nick of time. The most unsettling thing is that Shino was almost raped by someone she had known and trusted for years. Even worse, unlike the situation with Asuna and Sugou, she got along really well with Kyouji and enjoyed being around him. It reflects the grim reality that many, many rapes in real life are done not by complete strangers, but by somebody the victim is well-acquainted with.
  • The fact that of the Siblings in Crime in the Death Gun conspiracy, the one who came up with the idea was the one who wasn't an SAO survivor.
  • In Episode 20 Asuna is suddenly disconnected from the game. The screen turns to a white tunnel and fades out, she comes back to reality to find her mother standing over her with the power cable to Asuna's Amusphere still in hand and angrily reminds her that she warned that she would "pull the plug" next time she is late for dinner. It doesn't seem to occur to her that "pulling the plug" might have some unfortunate implications to a girl who had been traumatized by over two years of being comatose or that barging into her bedroom while she was unconscious might also trigger some trauma since Sugou had threatened to rape her while in a similar state.

     Season 3 and Ordinal Scale/Volume 9 and beyond 
  • Ordinal Scale
    • The movie gives us a look at what would have been Aincrad's final boss. And she is NASTY. Gigantic, ridiculously fast and strong, almost sadistic in temperament, she very nearly slowly crushes Silica and Kirito to death. Oh, and she can HEAL. For that matter, SAO survivors begin to lose their memories whenever they lose to an Ordinal Scale boss, and why is that? Because Ordinal Scale's creator is trying to resurrect his dead daughter into an AI and is doing so by taking everyone's memories of encountering her in the game. What will happen when she is remade into an AI? All the signals being sent will fry everyone's brains in the process, just like in SAO if they die. It takes Paranoia Fuel to a whole new level as very few know about it.
    • Speaking of Human Sacrifice, try having drones surrounding a stadium above a live concert audience, about to send a signal strong enough to kill people's brains. That's right: in Ordinal Scale, the New National Stadium in Tokyo (which became the main venue for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics) essentially became a giant NerveGear. Thank goodness that ultimately doesn't happen.
    • You also have the fact that the Augma, which is explicitly marketed as Augmented Reality-only, can actually perform a NerveGear quality Full-Dive. Not only is nothing about this functionality or the risks involving it highlighted anywhere as per Shigemura's plan, but that means that compared to the relatively-isolated 10,000 people of SAO, these things are spread out everywhere across Japan. They're selling out faster than stores can stock them! And countless people have a product tied to drones that can steal the memories of, and kill, whoever was wearing them if they got activated remotely. The NerveGear bypassing safety regulations was bad enough as it is; the Augma was a brain-assassination bomb waiting to blow!
  • Alicization Beginning:
    • Alice breaks the taboo index where her fingers touched Dark Territory. She gets captured by an Integrity Knight and taken away to be executed.
    • In the anime, she isn't merely captured; her own father hands her over willingly, without any protest. His own daughter, and he just hands her over to be executed like she meant nothing to him.
    • Atsushi Kanamoto/Johnny Black, the final member of Laughing Coffin and Death Gun, makes a return and ambushes Kirito.
      • He succeeds in stabbing Kirito in the heart with the same toxin that Shinkawa tried to use.
      • His real life appearance. There's just something deeply wrong when one has haggard hair, beady eyes, wide-eyed look, and a wide Slasher Smile as he's about to kill someone. Little wonder his avatar wore a mask.
    • The sickening scene of Attempted Rape towards Ronye and Tiese by Raios Antinous and Humbert Zizek in Episode 10 reaches a level of graphic brutality which rivals the ordeal Asuna endured at Sugou's chains and tongue by a horrifying margin; complete with licking, ripped clothes, legs being forced open and vicious ''slapping'' in response to resistance. Worse, Eugeo initially can only helplessly watch it happen and not raise a finger thanks to the Fantastic Caste System set by the Taboo Index's absolute power...
      • ... and then Eugeo spectacularly SNAPS, defies the Taboo and cuts off Humbert's arm with his sword. Even worse in the anime, as it depicts very graphically how his eye pops off. Not to mention how he and Kirito chop off Raios and Humbert's arms to stop them, painting the bedroom scarlet with their blood and ultimately resulting in Raios's death, and Humbert calling Kirito and Eugeo a murderer and a monster before running away.
      • Adding insult to injury, it is strongly implied that this sort of institutionalized bullying and socially-endorsed rape is a regular and silently ignored tragedy in the Underworld due to the absolute nature of the Fantastic Caste System.
      • It still pales in comparison to what occurred in the original web novels, however, where Eugeo genuinely finds out the hard way that You Are Too Late, and bursts in to see the pair having already been raped as they lay there with Dull Eyes of Unhappiness before he flies into an Unstoppable Rage.
      • The author himself was shocked at how graphic and intense the scene became when translated into a visual medium.
      • It was so bad, Toonami actually showed a viewer discretion notice before said episode aired.
    • When Kirito and Eugeo are climbing up the stairs of the Kardia Cathedral, they run into a couple of little girls. When they get close enough, they proceed to stab them with poisoned daggers to paralyze them, and then drag them to kill them on Floor 50, talking about it as if it was just a simple game. Worse still: they were just guinea pigs for one of Quinella's sick experiments, to perfect the art of resurrection, by dying and reviving over and over along with many other children. They've gotten so used to it they don't care at all about stabbing someone in the heart or beheading them. And the kicker? There were about thirty children along with them when the experiment began. The rest of the lot who didn't make it either had their bodies explode, turn into piles of bloody flesh, or revived as completely different people.
  • Remember the lifeless, albino bald men that appeared from some portal as observers when a young Alice trespass into Dark Territory and the incident of Kirito killing Raios and Eugeo hurting Humbert or when someone violates the Taboo Index? Well, you won't like the truth about them.
    • Kirito and Alice found out they were humans of the underworld held captive inside chambers, being reduced to that form and continuously muttering System Calls forever, literally, like broken machines while they were regularly being given food to their mouths through pipes.
    • The scene of Quinella stripping naked and seducing Eugeo could be played up for Fanservice for some, until you remember she's doing essentially the equivalent of drugging a rape victim to make them more docile. And given how easily she does it, who's to say that this isn't the first time?
    • The manner in which she does it makes it all the more horrifying. Eugeo has a dream/hallucination/something of being back in Rulid where his mother is there to welcome and comfort him. Then he notices the absence of his father and brothers and Quinella says, in the most maternal voice, "oh silly boy, you killed them. Suddenly Euego sees blood on his hands. Then he wakes up in Quinella's bedchamber, where she continues to toy with his mind. By the end of it, he is distraught with shame and guilt because she's convinced him that he had hated his father and brothers, considered Tiese a possession, and "remembered" that Alice never liked him and always preferred Kirito. It is not just rape, it is ''Mind Rape'.
    • Quinella's death, full stop. Chudelkin throws himself at her and sets himself on fire, and his face literally turns into a burning skull. Even if it's not like she doesn't deserve it after all she's done, it's still a horrific sight to watch them both burn together. Scary as it is, Quinella would have done something beyond imagination had she succeeded in escaping into the real world.
  • Cardinal mentioned that one of the Rath staffs sabotaged the Alicization Project. Asuna even went past a male technician who seemed to give off an unpleasant vibe but dismissed it as mere imagination. It is revealed that person is Yanai, who was the origin of the dreadful Quinella and he threatened to shoot at Takeru Higa who was trying to revive Kirito. Code 871 on Eugeo and the residents of Underworld (both Humam Empire and Dark Territory) was a goroawase of his name and his doings to make them controlled puppets that have no kindness, just like Nobuyuki Sugou's attempts to control people memories and emotions. Guess what, Yanai was one of that bastard's henchmen, who barely escaped by pushing the blame on the other guy on the team, and now he wants Kirito dead for killing Quinella, the one whom he adored and went crazy for, more than Asuna in the past. He met his death with his spine twisted in a unnatural way because of falling off a rather high platform. While it seems unfair, it's justified because Kirito would have died early on, and Seijirou Kikuoka even claimed that Yanai would only get silenced by the American military even if he succeeded in retrieving Alice for them.
  • Episode 3 of War of the Underworld finally introduces Gabriel's BoB match with Sinon match in visual form. Gabriel appears suddently right behind her and then gives her a straight-up No-Holds-Barred Beatdown before choke holding her to death. Even worse was that Shino was dreaming about it while she was asleep.
  • Episode 8 of War of the Underworld.
    • If you think how Gabriel killing Lipia by strangling her to death and his reaction to seeing souls were not disturbing enough, he even brings unsettling influence on Dark Territory inhabitants. To be specific, when Dee Eye Ell (D.I.L) reports her failure, he had no qualms, not even one to begin with, to suggest the sacrifices of the last demi-human race, Orcs. The Dark Mage leader's expression of enjoyment is creepy enough to describe it disturbing.
    • Even worse, Lillpin, the Orc leader, being spared from the sacrifice by a female orc, Lenju, was forced to watch her along with his fellow orcs suffered intense pain before dying as they turned into energy for Dark Mages to unleash magic arts.
  • Any time Gabriel becomes Not So Stoic, he gives this incredibly unsettling Slasher Smile, such as when he kills Lipia or when he captures Alice. Perhaps it's to show how utterly batshit insane he is. The anime really packed a punch for this expression.
  • The aftercredits scene of Episode 12 feels like something right out of a Serial Killer movie. As Vassago walks back to the Soul Translator to log back in as PoH, creepy music plays as the camera moves from his boots hitting the floor as he walks, to his right hand holding a cigarette, to his back as he casually tosses the cigarette to floor, all with a camera blur following his every move. We then cut to an image of his face with with an eerily tranquil and calm look... right before the color palette changes to black and white, with the exception of his eyes which turn red, as he suddenly breaks out a Slasher Smile.
  • The Stinger of episode 2 of the second half of War of Underworld has Gabriel walk back into the Soul Translator to log back in as Subtilizer just like Vassago did. It's not as slasher movie-esque like Vassago's but the color palette becomes vibrant and then cuts to an image of his face with Hellish Pupils, Black Eyes of Evil, and a Slasher Smile.
  • In the next episode, Subtilizer making his entrance, coming out of a tar pit while riding a giant bat. Sinon barely has time to recognize him before he paralyzes her with his powers.
    • Before that, we just have to see Klein's face when he recognizes PoH. Keep in mind he's one of the bravest SAO survivors, yet the sole sight of the man terrifies him.
    • We also have the fun fact that anyone connecting to the Underworld has to deal with the problem that there are no actual pain inhibitors in place for this world. So anything that damages any of the players trying to play the hero will feel like the near-full brunt of pain they have likely never felt in their entire life. This results in no small amount of suffering like Leafa getting a whole agonizing Eye Scream, which the anime even focuses in on to emphasize the brutality and utter agony she's in.
  • Episode 18 has the biggest example of Body Horror in the series: When Kirito's Angst Coma reaches its worst moment, he starts to remember all the death that he has been witnessing AND committing ever since the original SAO incident. Due to his Fluctlight being so damaged, Kirito can't take the trauma, guilt, and even shame anymore, and tries to commit suicide... by opening his chest wide open with his bare hands so he can reach and squeeze his own heart to death. Although technically this is only happening inside Kirito's own mind, it's portrayed in a VERY graphic manner, and the audience gets to see everything until Eugeo's memory finally stops him from consuming the act. Special mention to the sound effects of Kirito ripping his own chest apart. The camera doesn't show it directly, but with such sound effects, the scene doesn't need to in order to utterly horrify the audience. Though the real-life process went much differently, doctors used to open the chests of patients in cardiac arrest to manually pump the heart.
  • Dirty Business aside, Kirito himself is a heroic variation of The Dreaded due to his reputation of being a walking Nightmare Fuel who is not above disposing of Player Killers, effectively making him a Player Killer Killer. It gets even worse in Alicization Lasting: Want to know how screwed Gabriel and PoH are by the time Kirito wakes up from his Angst Coma? They're royally screwed! There's a reason why he isn't called "The Black Swordsman" for nothing.
    • PoH/Vassago's final fate is filled with this. While Kirito's brutal smackdown of PoH is very satisfying, the way he finishes the fight is also terrifying: Kirito turns PoH into a tree and tells him to pray that his allies will bail him out, otherwise he's stuck in there, rotting for the rest of his life until someone else cuts him down with an axe. Kirito shows no remorse for the bastard and even admits to Sinon flat-out that he didn't regret doing it.
      • Made even worse when PoH, former leader of the Laughing Coffin, has been reduced into a whimpering lapdog as the branches sprouting from his body are wrapping him. As Kirito puts it, PoH will spend ten or more years of isolation and insanity, and then die after another 30 years of brain activity.
      • This is rather forgivable, compared to PoH bragging about torturing Asuna in front of Kirito, and he would've done so if it weren't for the latter making a quick work on him.
      • And if Kirito hadn't got back up back then, PoH would have logged out and brutally murdered Kirito and Asuna while they're logged in the STL. Downer Ending indeed.
      • And earlier, as the Japanese players (the main characters included) are rounded up by the foreign invader players led by Vassago himself. Most of them bloodied, their weapons, armor and equipment removed. Basically, the Japanese players have been turned into virtual prisoners of war. Surely nobody signed up for this horrible experience!
      • The anime portrays Vassago and Gabriel seemingly dead with horrified looks on the faces on their real bodies, with the former's hair turned white and apparently mummified after respectively being transformed in a tree, and defeated courtesy of Kirito. Sure, it's disturbing enough to leave you awake at night, but what's more disturbing is that Vassago's corpse was missing when the intruders went to retrieve him. Given how the Underworld was in its maximum acceleration phase and it is explicitly said human souls would not endure living 200 years, there's no way Vassago's soul could return to his own vessel and move... Or is there? A mystery for which the final answer is up to Reki.
    • Gabriel's demise is a goddamn frightening nightmare straight out of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Fullmetal Alchemist. He wakes up laughing in ethereal form, thinking that he got kicked out from the Underworld due to some bug, only to find out that he's in the STL room and to see his corpse with a horrified look on his face, as he is lying on the bed of the Soul Translator. Plus, his fingernails have literally popped out of his fingers. Then, Alicia Klingerman (whom he had murdered when they were kids) shows up, grabs him, and tells him that she will never let him go, like a full-blown Yandere. Gabriel is scared shitless, screaming and begging for his forces to save him as he is slowly dragged away by the souls of those he killed, with Alicia getting the last laugh as she drags him into oblivion. FOREVER. The English dub made the scene more scarier with Gabriel screaming in utter fear and agony with a distorted look on his face as Alicia is slowly dragging him down with her.
      • Then there is the logical implication that this isn't Alicia, but rather a demon or the Grim Reaper itself taking the form of her to deliver karmic justice.
  • Upon waking him from the accelerated 200 years in the Underworld, the look in Kirito's eyes is downright scary. Higa also realizes the full implications of this. Higa also can't bring himself to completely abide by Kirito's wishes, and copies Kirito BEFORE erasing the 200 years worth of memories. He then has a chat with the copied Kirito, and they start plotting together to protect the Underworld by what might be less than ethical means. Put in Higa's words, he might have literally opened Pandora's box. Special mention to Yoshitsugu Matsuoka's performance in this scene as Kirito's 200 year old copy. He sounds completely calm, composed, and even mature, but Matsuoka makes him just off enough to make him utterly unnerving despite all of that. Meanwhile, Bryce Papenbrook's performance is eerily reminiscent of Eren from the final season of Attack on Titan, giving the impression that Kirito would go as far to protect the Underworld as Eren went to protect Paradis.
  • The prologue of Unital Ring. It was just another day for Kirito, as he meets up with Asuna and Alice in ALO... until the sky turns red with the signs "warning" and "system announcement" showed up. If Kayaba's announcement of "beat the game to log out" back in SAO is already bad enough, then this might be hinted to be even worse.
    • Turns out later that New Aincrad has collapsed as a result of ALO being fused with the other Seed-built VRMMOs to form the titular new game. But the real issues here are: a new menu system replaces ALO's, the Friends List and messages have been deleted, the Player stats are now back to Level 1, and the worst of all, Yui is nowhere to be seen in front of her "parents". Good thing Yui is with Silica and Lisbeth, the new game is kind enough to have a logout button, and Asuna has Yuuki's OSS, but still...
    • If that weren't enough, the merger has caused these multiple games to have a massive multi-factional battle royale, where being slain means you're forcibly logged out of the game and eliminated from the 'competition' for whatever the hell is going on. Everything immediately likens it to the SAO death game, albeit thankfully merciful to the actual real lives of players, and one has to wonder if the system is basically a variable away from somehow finding new ways to genuinely kill players. Even worse, this drives totally normal players into trying to kill Kirito on the spot while betraying his trust when they get the opportunity solely to eliminate him rather than give him the chance to gain momentum.

     Video Games 
  • Infinity Moment/Hollow Fragment
    • The increasing frequency of traps in the last few floors count as Jump Scares even if the player has little chance of actually dying.
    • The 2nd and 3rd rounds of the Floor 100 boss. In the 2nd round, you have a bunch of creepy MHCP with glowing red eyes trying to kill you. In the 3rd round, you have to fight a giant mutant Strea.
    • The situation with Sugou/Alberich is even worse than in canon. Not only is he able to abuse GM privileges to sexually harass and kidnap players like in ALO, he can now take advantage of the fact that he's in a Deadly Game to actually kill people via a slow and incurable poison. Worse yet, Kayaba is too busy dealing with glitches and such to stop him, meaning the raid team would have been screwed without Strea's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Asuna worries that if all the blame is shifted on Kayaba, people like Sugou could get away with their crimes and retaliate against them. She's Properly Paranoid considering the post-Aincrad events in canon, especially in the case of the Laughing Coffin group. Luckily, Sugou is put away for his crimes at the end of the game, losing his position in his company and being locked up.
    • In the sidequest to recruit Hollow Sachi, you have to enter a room that looks suspiciously like the one where the real Sachi died. Then you have to fight off two mobs that can easily kill Hollow Sachi if you didn't level her first, effectively recreating that nightmare scenario.
  • Hollow Realization
    • While Origin may no longer be a death game for players, it most certainly is one for the NPCs. Due to the fact they're all functional and unique AIs generated by the system, should they be killed an entirely new one will be generated to take their place. But it won't be the same NPC, and it's shown that these NPCs can learn to feel actual emotion with time, so essentially for them, they're living the nightmare of the SAO players.
    • The Reveal of what Premiere's quest is actually about. It turns out her quest has been hijacked by the Cardinal System due to its similarities to the Creation Myth between Ainground/Aincrad. Why is this Nightmare Fuel? Because the reason why the Cardinal System is doing this is because, due to Sword Art: Origin being all but a clone of the original SAO, it thinks Ainground is Aincrad and one of its modules is to test Aincrad's destruction as it's supposed to happen when SAO is cleared due to Origin still being in its beta state. But since Aincrad doesn't exist in Origin, it's going to fulfill the Creation Myth that will destroy Ainground and create Aincrad, and then destroy Aincrad all for the sake of the module test. And since NPCs die for real in this game and they're functional AI, the twin Apocalypse Hows will essentially commit genocide.
  • Accel World Vs Sword Art Online:
  • Fatal Bullet
    • Silica finds she has an in-game stalker, who's a full out yandere, chasing Silica around everywhere and even clinging to the ceiling of places she's about to visit.
    • Itsuki after revealing himself as the Big Bad decides to play a twisted game of Russian Roulette with the Player Character, where either Kureha or Zeliska got given a Nerve Gear and will end up dying.
    • The Stinger for the Downloadable Content story line, where at the very end Subtilizer of all people appears live and well, and ready to move onto the next step of his plans as Lievre was nothing more than a way to kill time in GGO. Which means his player Gabriel is very much setting up to be the next Big Bad potentially. If that weren't bad enough, Itsuki's been tapped for work with Rath much like Shigemura was, and Itsuki is an attempted murderer and technically a hacker-by-association.
  • Alicization Lycoris
    • If Underworld already seemed like a Crapsack World to you in the novels, the game will make you think it's absolute hell. While it was clear that nobles had found the loop holes in the Taboo Codex to get away with crimes, Part 2 shows just how widespread the problem is with them being able to outright kidnap and murder people willy nilly as long as they aren't the ones directly doing the deed. And the worst part? Since they haven't technically violated any laws, even if on the off chance a well-meaning knight finds out about it there is not much they can do to stop it without breaking the Taboo Index themself.
      • The Myosotis DLC introduces probably one of the worst atrocities in the Underworld so far in the form of ritualistic child murder. The noble responsible for the area sanctioned that every family had to have at least three children, one of which would eventually be brought into the nearby forest to be killed by monsters, dying alone and afraid while thinking they must have done something wrong. All the adults in town are in on it, many of them having lost a sibling and knowing that any child they have will meet the same gruesome fate with no idea which it will be. And the reason for this cruel ritual that has been ongoing for 200 years? A beautiful but poisonous flower that only gains its charateristic vivid red color by absorbing the blood of children which is a status symbol among nobility. Worst yet, that flower is the only export the town has so even if the Taboo Index didn't prevent them from overthrowing the noble behind it all, actually stopping would put the town's entire economy in jeopardy.
    • It also turns out that you can just avoid the Taboo Codex altogether: Hersyrian grew up without learning speech, thus never learning the Taboo Index and internalizing its teachings into his self-perception like every other child in Underworld. The end result is that he was essentially exempt from following laws, allowing him to kill and commit other atrocities without triggering the Seal in his eye because he didn't perceive it as wrong. Considering he is a mentally unstable sadist raised by Quinella of all people, it's absolutely horrifying to imagine what he did off-screen.
    • The backstory of the Orthinanos family is absolutely horrific. Because of their special ability, Quinella essentially forced them into inbreeding for generations to keep their bloodline pure in hopes of manifesting it quicker. As if that's not bad enough, then Hersyrian appears and rapes the Fifth head of the family and even though she marries her own son in hopes it would quell Quinella's anger, they are still cast aside because of matters out of their control. Medina is understandably horrified when she finds out the reason why her family was doomed to poverty and ridicule for generations.

Alternative Title(s): Sword Art Online The Movie Ordinal Scale