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Nightmare Fuel / The NeverEnding Story

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As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

The book

  • The Nothing is the ultimate Nightmare Fuel. Paradoxic, isn't it?
    • Not in the least - after all, Nothing Is Scarier.
    • The way it inexplicably draws in anyone who gets too close to it. There are no words to describe it, as demonstrated in the first chapter. Atreyu can't even look at it without his mind rebelling at the non-sight. It is, quite simply, something that cannot exist, because it doesn't.
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  • The Sphinx Gate. The movie version simply blasted you to charcoal. This one hits you with every riddle ever known to man. You simply sit there in an And I Must Scream state until you die of exposure or thirst. And it does this completely randomly.
  • G'mork. Apparently there's a good reason werewolves and vampires seem to have an innate hatred each other; for if they were to ever marry...Well, there you go.
  • Ygramul the Many, a myriad of predatory wasp-like insects acting as one being, most of the time forming a big spider but changing into multiple forms when hunting its prey, or into a huge skull with a single eye when talking to Atreyu.
  • Our hero Bastian's progressive descent into becoming a tyrannical nutcase toward the end of the book.
  • The City of Old Emperors. While a city of nonsense may sound funny, it's not. Former humans are trapped in Fantasia with no memories of who they are, or what they are, engaging in endless, nonsensical tasks over and over forever. Truly a World Gone Mad.
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  • The insane shlamoof creatures have quite the Monster Clown and Big Creepy-Crawlies vibes going on. And towards the end it is revealed they have been pursuing Bastian for quite a while.
  • Uyulala's death and the songs she sings while she knows she is about to die are both this and Tear Jerker.
  • Xayide's Family-Unfriendly Death, as she's crushed to death by her own mechanical giants.
    • Xayide herself is one of the creepiest characters in the book as she is able to easily manipulate Bastian (he was already going mad with power, but she certainly pushed it) and the implications that she planned to make him Childlike Emperor so she could rule Fantastica from behind the scenes.
      • Xayide's armored soldiers. They are merely metal suits that move by themselves. When asked about it, she explains that because they are empty, they move by her will as she is able to control everything that is empty. It's implied that they might have been living creatures once.
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  • Yor's Minroud is an in-universe example. It's a mine where dreams are found, isolated in a landscape of eternal winter (particularly cruel considering the previous chapter was set in an area of perpetual summer) and tended by a single blind miner. The thought of having to work there, in the dark, is enough to make Bastian, who still has all the gifts of Fantastica including fearlessness, shiver in dread.
  • Smerg, the European-style dragon created by Bastian for Hynreck to fight. Everything about this... thing just screams Body Horror and Bizarre Alien Biology at their worst. For starters, it has the head of a crocodile, a pair of bat-like wings, the body of a mouse, complete with short forelimbs and the legs of a grasshopper. If that's not enough, it has the heads of elderly humans (a woman and a man respectively) in place of eyes.

The films
  • G'mork. His film incarnation has given many viewers nightmares. The first-person shots from his perspective as he hunts Atreyu are absolutely terrifying. And that's without getting into his personality. The film also removes anything sympathetic about his motives: "People who have no hope are easy to control, and whoever has the control has the power."
    • The build-up to the first and final confrontation between Atreyu and Gmork. As the entire world falls to pieces around him, Atreyu finds himself in a ruin where he sees murals of his entire journey going all the way back to the beginning of the film: taking up the challenge of stopping the Nothing, losing Artax in the Swamps of Sadness, Falkor...and then comes upon a mural showing an unfamiliar scene. A hole in a stone wall, with the terrifying face of a snarling, wolf-like creature emerging from it, and the scene becomes very quiet. Then, we hear a growl. Atreyu turns around, a terrifying chord plays, one that we've heard in the film before, and both Atreyu and the audience realize that the scene in the mural is unfolding right this very second. Gmork is finally revealed in all his nightmarish glory. Really, words don't do it justice.
    • Just how unnatural Gmork looks and sounds, despite being a wolf. He looks like a combination between a wolf and black cat, and his green eyes are almost human-like. And he doesn't howl or snarl like a wolf either, he roars. The roar he lets out whenever he lunges at Atreyu is terrifying.
  • For that matter, the look on Atreyu's face when he challenges G'mork is a little chilling. As the outcome of their encounter shows, he's not called a warrior for nothing.
    • When he reveals his identity, G'mork looks extremely shocked for a moment... then it's replaced by a look of cold rage. Shit gets real in a hurry after that, and thanks to Enforced Method Acting, the shocked look on Atreyu's face as G'mork lunges at him is quite real as well.
  • Falkor and Atreyu flying through the empty void after the Nothing destroys everything. The scene just feels so empty and foreboding with the music only adding to the feeling. Also doubles as a Tear Jerker.
  • The part where Artax sinks in the Swamps of Sadness. Tear Jerker, yes, but also prime Nightmare Fuel. If I heard right, if you let the sadness get to you, you sink! What this means is the swamp possibly subjects you to unbearably depressing images until you get sadder and sadder and sink!
    • The kid actor also apparently got scarred for life because he got hurt several times during filming - during his horse riding training, he fell off and got stepped on. Then evidently, his leg got caught in the elevator and he got pulled under during the Artax scene. He also nearly lost an eye when G'mork tackled him, since Atreyu didn't know the puppet was going to tackle him.
  • Morla, the giant sneezing turtle, has robbed many a child of sleep on her terrifying appearance alone. Her cynical views, complete indifference to everything and possible schizophrenia do not help the situation.
    • Bastian screaming at her introduction didn't help.
  • The scene where the knight's helmet blows open to reveal his charred skull creeped many out for years.
    Engywook: Fancy armor doesn't help. The sphinxes can see straight into your heart.
    • And right after this, when Atreyu's determination cracks and turns to fear and doubt, the Sphinxes' eyes slowly start to open...
    • This actually deserves a bit more detail. The whole scene leading up to this is very slow and tense, with the music building up in a gradual crescendo as Atreyu approaches the Sphinx Gate across the sands, alternately in a long shot that emphasizes his smallness in comparison and in a close-up where the viewer can see just how nervous and unsettled he is. When he finally reaches the gate, we're treated to a beautiful Dutch Angle of him gazing up at each Sphinx in turn before he moves closer through a rising wind, passing the scattered bones of previous questors. Finally he approaches the fallen knight, only for the wind to blow his helmet open in quite the Jump Scare as the camera lingers on The Reveal of his charred appearance. Atreyu begins to panic...backing up a bit at a time and constantly looking in terror from one Sphinx to the other, the music rising and the Dutch Angle becoming increasingly acute...until finally the eyes begin to open, letting through the slits a blindingly bright light...
  • Nimbly, the hideous anthropomorphic chicken thing from the second film. Granted, he eventually becomes a good guy but still.
  • A meta-example. Given the rumors about various injuries and traumas suffered by Noah (Atryu's actor) and the apparent death of (possibly several) horses, the sets, many of which already look rather dangerous, didn't seem to have any safety regulations.
  • Right before we cut back to Bastian, we see solid ground getting blown away by the Nothing.
  • The Southern Oracle beginning to fall apart.
    If you want to save our world, you must hurry! We don't know how much longer we can withstand the Nothing!
  • The implication that all the terrible destruction in Fantasia is deliberate and planned by malicious, otherworldly beings called The Manipulators, who are never seen or described.
    • Even more frightening is the implication that they may not be actual beings at all. G'mork never says he serves another being, he says that he serves a POWER. It can be inferred that G'mork is the servant of the one powerful thing that destroys people's hopes and makes them forget their dreams: FEAR ITSELF.
      G'mork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing.