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Nightmare Fuel / The Rising of the Shield Hero

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That's gonna hurt.

Living in a world modeled after a video game is no picnic, as you're about to see...

Warning: Spoilers Off applies to this page. Proceed at your own risk.

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    Anime/Manga/Light Novel 
  • One of Aneko Yusagi's many what-if "Class Up" volumes details just how far the Call to Adventure will go, especially if the person in question is not already dead. In this one, dubbed "cursed book," Naofumi inadvertently attempts a Refusal of the Call by putting the book back on the shelf instead of reading it. The book promptly proceeds to stalk him, refusing to go away even after Naofumi burns the book and then exorcises, then burns the book again. It even goes onto his computer as a .txt file, where he attempts to delete the file, only for it to take over every file on said computer. Eventually, Naofumi is Resigned to the Call. And knowing what happens when he answers it...
  • Just how swiftly and completely Malty is able to ruin Naofumi's new life before it can even begin. After getting him to buy her a suit of armor, that very night she steals all his clothing and money then runs off and accuses him of attempting to rape her. Everyone thinks of him as a terrible monster who would have been executed were he not the Shield Hero.
    • It's not just Naofumi that's fallen victim to this. It's outright stated that there were plenty of other men that fell victim to Malty and her rape accusations before him, except they weren't important enough to keep from being killed. So many were unfairly tried and executed, all for the sadistic amusement of a complete sociopath.
      • The worst part? Nafoumi’s defamation because of Malty’s accusation is Truth in Television for some people.
    • Following on from this, we later learn that Malty has a bad reputation amongst the populace. In other words, the citizens of Melromarc KNOW that she is a bad person. Yet despite this, virtually NO ONE questions her claim, because even they do not think that she would be so cruel as to lie about something like that. Naofumi suffers for months because of this.
    • Really, just EVERYTHING that Malty/Bitch/Witch does out of a massive sense of self-entitlement, a complete lack of capacity to learn from her mistakes, and just an utter refusal to stop kicking the dog, especially after the Spirit Turtle incident. In fact, it says something about just how irredeemably, unapologetically rotten she is and how horrendous her crimes are that the eventual result is BOTH her parents (yes, even her once doting father, King Aultcray) each having no problem condemning her to a fate that could both be described as Nightmare Fuel itself, whether it be getting raped to death by her grotesque pig of an uncle King Faubley or getting burned to death like an actual witch. And then there's the revelation that she's just a fragment of a godlike entity with the exact same personality as her...
  • Malty's eye taunt has become an infamous example of that trope. In that moment she not only shows Naofumi and the audience her true colours, but reveals that she is relishing in his suffering. The worst part is that there is absolutely nothing that Naofumi can do about it.
  • Naofumi would later realise that Malty, Aultcray and the Church of the Three Heroes, did what they did, simply because he was summoned as the Shield Hero.
    • Although it is not considered in-universe, fans have pointed out that even if Naofumi wasn't chosen as the Shield Hero, everything that the villains did would still have happened. Whether it be an entirely different character (as is the case in some fanfictions) or the original quartet being granted different roles, e.g. Naofumi as the Sword Hero and Ren the Shield Hero, the new Shield Hero would have been set up, just as Naofumi was.
      • This is an especially scary concept when you consider just how unreliable the other three heroes are. Given what happened to them following their own canon betrayals, we can only imagine what would have happened if they had been the ones in Naofumi's position.
      • On the same note, what role would Naofumi have played in the said setting. Would he have turned out as he did in canon or would he have been just as bad as the other heroes were in his timeline?
  • Imagine finding yourself in a country where your social standing is so low that it's on par with monsters, and its populace is even allowed to kill you without fear of any legal repercussions. That's what being a Demi-Human or a Beastman in Melromarc is like, and it's to a point where being a slave is actually considered a step up since you're someone's property. Can't have anyone damaging your well-bought goods, now!
  • Raphtalia's parents met a gruesome end during one of the Waves, eaten alive by a Cerberus.
    • After this, it gets worse for Raphtalia. She and her surviving friends are bought by abusive nobles. One of them was even tortured to death, with Raphtalia finding her skeletal corpse in said noble's dungeon. No wonder she still had nightmares after Naofumi bought her.
  • After Malty's cheating caused Naofumi to lose the duel with Motoyasu, he begins to hallucinate and stir in his hatred for the world that scorns him. In his rage and desire to just let everything die, an ominous message appears in burning red. "Curse Series Requirement Met"
  • Motoyasu gives an enchanted seed to a starving village, thinking it will grow crops and save them. But as an elderly sorceress read the ancient warning, that seed was a cursed creation. It grows and consumes everything around it, infecting humans like a parasite as it continues its mad expansion. Only Naofumi's modifications to the plant (meant to keep the plant from becoming a monstrosity) manages to nullify the curse and save everyone.
  • Basically everything about Ren's dragon slaying is scary
    • Ren slays a powerful dragon but left the corpse behind to rot. The decay created a powerful disease that the mountain wind carried to a nearby village, nearly wiping it out entirely.
    • When Naofumi's party arrives to clear out the carcass, it picks then to become a dragon zombie, so powerful and poisonous that Naofumi orders a retreat.
    • Naofumi gives into his rage and fully activates the Curse Series, unlocking the Wrath Shield. He releases waves of fire from his shield, his eyes a burning red as he thinks only of inflicting pain and killing everyone and everything that's wronged him. We see in his imagination him burning Malty to ashes with this power. It is a power so indiscriminate that it burns Raphtalia and afflicts her with a curse.
  • To survive the Wave and overcome the Soul Eater, after just barely overcoming the dragon soul's rage to unleash a new Finishing Move, Naofumi unleashes something chilling. First trapping his victims in a Shield Prison, Naofumi then impales them on spikes within their cage, before calling down a colossal Iron Maiden. He then throws his victim, Shield Prison and all, into its waiting embrace.
    "Within this virgin of cold ore, who shall swallow even your screams with her embrace, suffer in anguish as your entire body is stabbed and skewered! IRON MAIDEN!"
    • What makes this worse is, when in the manga, Naofumi cast this on Motoyasu. It was only the Sword and Bow heroes who were able to save his life.
  • EVERYTHING about how Naofumi finishes off the Pope using his new skill, Blood Sacrifice. The Power of Friendship allows him to control his recently evolved Wrath Shield in order to properly face off against the latter, and the Finishing Move he uses... causes blood to painfully erupt from various parts of his body, greatly weakening him to the point of near-death. The blood winds up forming into a giant bear trap-like contraption with multiple jaws that springs from under the Pope's feet and CRUNCHES him into meaty chunks. Despite the manga and anime showing what happens to Naofumi, as well as give a brief glimpse of the 'fangs' digging into the Pope's face before it kills him, the web novel makes it worse by describing in detail what's happening to both.
    • The anime was the most merciful in its showing. The manga showed a severed hand flying off the Pope's crushed, but still hidden-from-sight body, as well as the horrified looks of the Queen's army. The web novel on the other hand, explicitly described the Pope getting crunched MULTIPLE TIMES as it dragged out his already grisly demise, and by the time it was over, a barely-conscious Naofumi himself described his leftover remains as nothing but "a lump of flesh" on top of the horrified witnesses.
      • Even the chant used sounds ominous as hell without the quick foreshadowing of what it'll do to Naofumi...
    "Foolish sinner, I sentence you to cast your screams unto the heavens! Within the dragon's jaws born from my flesh, become an offering to the gods as you howl in pain! BLOOD SACRIFICE!"
    • The fact that Naofumi had to use that god-forsaken skill AGAIN in order to deal with the Spirit Turtle, knowing full well that its use risks outright killing him.
  • An often overlooked example is the reaction of the Three Heroes and the citizens of Melromarc to Malty and Aultcray's trial. During the proceedings, they finally learn that Naofumi was framed and is completely innocent of everything that he was accused of. Whilst the looks on their faces say it all, imagine what must be going through their minds at this revelation.
    • This is especially scary when you look at it from the perspective of the Three Heroes. They trusted the King and Princess. Whilst it was wrong of them to do so, in hindsight, it is easy to understand why the Princess' accusations were believed and why they would think that the King had their best interests at heart. Given everything that had happened and from what they witnessed, they all fully believed that Naofumi was a villain who committed an inexcusable act, showed no remorse for his crime and continued, from their perspective to do villainous things. Then, the Queen shows them in a way that cannot be refuted that Naofumi, who had professed his innocence from the very beginning was telling the truth all along. One can only imagine how they would have reacted after the fact, had they actually maimed or KILLED Naofumi.
      • The worst part about all of this is, that even after this catastrophic mistake, they do not apologise or learn from their mistake!
    • In Episode 21 of the anime, we actually get a taste of what the ordinary people are thinking during Naofumi's Triumphant Return:-
      Man 2: We should've known.
  • The goddamn Spirit Turtle itself. A mountain-sized monster capable of destroying entire continents either by itself, or through its army of familiars, and is solely motivated by the utter annihilation of all (or at least a great majority of) humans. It has a predictably slow movement that's offset by its sheer size and weight being more than enough to crush anything that isn't Naofumi underfoot, a lack of need for food and rest, a Healing Factor powerful enough to regrow it's own head, and a Godzilla-esque blast of lightning from its mouth on top of the powerful gravity magic it possesses. It took a month to slay this thing, and THOUSANDS were killed before it was finally over.
    • Even trying to destroy the Spirit Turtle from the inside is a struggle in itself, because not only are its familiars everywhere inside its body, but EVEN ITS OWN HEART was alive and fully capable of defending itself by firing powerful lightning and gravity spells from its eye.
    • Apparently, one of the things it's capable of is zombifying people and monsters that it and its countless familiars have killed in order to create even more casualties. In the Web Novel, Naofumi and Firo even have the misfortune to come across a zombified child as they were going through one of the destroyed areas, and the normally cheerful, upbeat Firo claimed it looked like Melty to her.
      • Chapter 53 of the manga had the Zombie Chimera, a visibly rotting monster familiar that regenerated from any damage using the biomass of surrounding bat familiars. Throughout its (thankfully short) fight with Naofumi, you could even see it's one remaining eye constantly dangling from its socket.
    • The fact that the whole incident with the Spirit Turtle was (once again) caused by the sheer STUPIDITY of the other three heroes. Countless people were killed by this thing in the past, and they VOLUNTARILY unsealed it without question, thinking they had even a remote chance of winning. Continuing the video game comparison, this is the equivalent of a handful of players fresh off of the first or second story arc stumbling into an endgame raid, and that's before factoring in how they basically needed to be carried prior to this by someone actually prepared. Not only does it end exactly as you might expect, but then the realistic outcome happens and the Spirit Turtle that the three heroes failed to stop goes on to lay waste to half of the kingdom.
    • And even worse. Even if the three so-called "heroes" who set the turtle loose in the first place had managed to defeat it by some miracle, releasing the seal in itself triggered a chain-reaction releasing the seal on three other monsters, or sets of monsters, that are just as nasty, and all their "knowledge" of how to deal with them was completely wrong. For example, the twin firebirds. Itsuki, Ren, and Motoyasu are accustomed to playing a computer game where the two fire-birds share a common health-bar. The twin birds have to be killed at the same time because when one is reduced to 0 hp, it dive-bombs the ground and is then resurrected to full-health by the other. How many people would have died before the louts were willing to admit they were wrong?
  • Though a small moment, if one pays attention in episode 9 one can see Raphtalia's vitals after she and Naofumi were separated and they are going down. Without saying anything it is made clear that her captors are doing something dreadful to her, but is is never made clear what.
  • Ren's flashbacks in Season 3, Episode 6.
    • He tries to carry one of his teammates away from the battle, only to realize that he's dead. No matter how hard he tries to wipe his teammate's blood off his hands, it just spreads on his clothes.
    • We are also treated to the moment where Ren died. He was stabbed while protecting his best friend from the attack.
  • The Emperor Dragon is a terrifying sight to behold. Not only does it forcibly upgrade Naofumi's Wrath Shield to Max Level in order to feed off its power, but worst of all, after swallowing Filo earlier, it casually rips open its chest plate to reveal Filo bound up inside it by ropes of muscle, some of which are clearly embedded into her skin.

    Web Novel only 
  • Starting in Chapter 227: The double whammy of Naofumi having to deal with both a poisoned water supply in his demi-human village and people so subtly brainwashed that they act more like nigh-undetectable sleeper agents than your standard brainwashed soldiers. And then he finds out who's responsible...
    • One of the brainwashed soldiers in question that were forced to poison the demi-human village was Imia's uncle, as in the best friend of the trusted blacksmith Naofumi had gone to since near the beginning of the series!
    • After appraising the poison, Naofumi states that the poison used was designed to make the unwitting drinker suffocate to death by affecting the repository system. Whoever made it wanted everyone in his village to die suffering.
    • The brainwashing in question is a contagious status effect that the blind Atla can see as dark energy reaching to grab others with its tendrils. And by the time this is pointed out, Kiel and a bunch of other demi-humans were already infected.
  • Chapter 250: Might overlap with Black Comedy, but hearing the Queen casually mention painful execution methods for the people behind the failed revolt left Naofumi a little spooked.
  • The Queen's description of King Faubley in Chapter 251. A disgusting, obese pig of a man who's had 9999 "wives" that he's treated as his playthings. They only last mere months at the most (with the help of healing magic and potions) before they finally succumb to the gruesome torture and rape he inflicts on them. The Queen even uses a lifelike doll of Witch as an example, and the results aren't pretty...
    • Naofumi himself lampshades it, but Witch (aka. soon-to-be "bride" number 10,000) is King Faubley's niece through Trash. He's not above this kind of behavior towards his own family.
    • Especially comparing her to her animated portrayal, it's jarring to see the Queen casually condemning her eldest daughter to what she knows will be a drawn-out, agonizing, and undignified death by her brother-in-law and the latter's own uncle. Yes, Witch has done a lot of horrible things and has repeatedly shown to not give even a lick of remorse for any of them, but many people in and out of the universe would see that such a grisly fate would come off as just too much, even for her.
      • During the trial, the Queen tells Witch that if any of the Heroes agree to have her in their party, she will not send her away to King Faubley. Naofumi kicks her away, Motoyasu is so broken that he can only see women as literal pigs, and Ren rejects her outright.
    • The Queen reveals to the heroes a doll that is an exact replica of her daughter, mentioning that she has been sending them to King Faubley ever since the man first saw Witch when she was studying at the academy in Faubley. She then reveals the utterly destroyed doll her Shadows found barely half a week after it was sent. The results were not pretty and even Naofumi hesitated for a brief second about sending Witch away.
  • Chapter 252: Naofumi finally got what he wanted, witnessing Witch dying in the most horrific manner possible via a recording crystal that even let him HEAR what happened... And instead of satisfaction, he was understandably more disturbed than pleased. It didn't help that he also got to see what was left of Witch's ice magic-preserved body two weeks later, or that King Faubley chose to keep sending him recording crystals of him with his "toys" after that.
    • Since the King allowed himself to be filmed while killing Witch, he asks for a Crystal Ball of Naofumi's reaction to watching it. Naofumi has no choice but to rewatch the Crystal Ball, but opens his status screen and focuses on that because he doesn't want the Pig King to know that he enjoyed Witch's death more than he let on.
  • Medea Pideth Machina. Picture Malty/Witch as a God and this is what you get. This sadistic god is the cause of the Waves of Calamity and most of the problems of the Crapsack World through her incarnations the aforementioned Malty/Witch being one of them. She loves to resurrect people to cause Cavalry Betrayal.
    • The fact that after Medea is defeated, anyone whose souls were created from a shard of her, taken over by her, or were empowered by her all cease to exist and are erased from memory, including Malty/Witch. Makes one wonder if she was actually born into the world of the Four Heroes, had her body taken over, or was created by Medea the moment the four heroes were summoned and implanted fake memories into everyone that Malty/Witch had always existed.