Animorphs/Nightmare Fuel

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World... by morphing into different animals and fighting a violent maniac, walking salad shooters, and giant cannibalistic centipedes. What Do You Mean It's for Kids??

  • Animorphs gave us the nightmarish puppetmaster Yeerks, the Taxxons, insane-with-hunger giant centipedes (who are also cannibals and will eat themselves if they are injured/hungry enough (And they're always hungry)), and the Hork-Bajir, benign but enslaved bladed lizard men (who started out as mooks but turned out to be really sympathetic), as well as morphing in general and the terror at getting stuck in animal form -- or, worse, between forms -- in particular.
    • In one book, we get to see how a Taxxon thinks- which is basically a never-ending, overwhelming sense of fear of starvation. Oh, and Tobias attempts to eat his friends while in this morph. Not fun.
    • In the same book, there's also the sheer claustrophobia and single-mindedness. It's like you can never get out. Way to drive home the hopelessness of the Taxxons' situation.
    • And then we realize that there are some Andalites who got stuck that way. Forever. Arbron, at least.
  • Remember that fight scene where Marco's bone breaks through his skin? Or the one where Jake struggles with smashing a Hork-Bajir's head against the wall while his tiger intestines fall out of his body? The only fight that isn't described in explicit detail is the one where Visser Three eats Elfangor alive. Because hey, this is a kids' series, after all.
    • The fights got more graphic after the first couple books. It's as though the author wanted to censor out the worst of it, then realized that the series was already horrifying to kids anyway.
  • The ant and termite morphs are also disturbing. The kids almost start crying.
  • Another insect-related example: All the books have fight scenes that are gruesome on various levels, but there's one that takes the cake: The Forgotten, book eleven, has Rachel falling unconscious on top of an ant hill in the Amazon rain forest in bear morph. They then start eating her alive. Jake and the others are, of course, horrified when they see this. And when Rachel wakes up and demorphs, she screams the entire time.
  • And the fate of David, the sixth Animorph. He turns against the Animorphs, so the team decides to trap him in rat form and leave him on an island with dozens of other rats. People boating by months later could still hear him mind-screaming.
    • Not to mention that Rachel and Ax are forced to wait the two hours with him to make sure he's stuck. As Rachel said, you can't block out thought-speak, and she notes that she would hear his screams and pleads and threats everytime she fell asleep.
    • His environment and how he's forced to adapt to eating garbage in #48 The Return are disgusting.
  • The nightmare-within-a-nightmare ordeal endured by Rachel in the same book, though she eventually figures out it's all a hallucination caused by Crayak.
  • Rachel. Just Rachel. At first, Marco's description of her as "Xena Warrior Princess" is kind of funny. The more the series goes on, the more you realize that she is, for all sakes and purposes, a violent psychopath. A very frightening one, I might add.
    • Do you only realize it as the series goes on, or does she actively become more violent and unstable as the series goes on? Neither interpretation is particularly pleasant, since all of the kids are changing in similar ways.
    • All the worse because there's some evidence that her transformation took place not just because she wanted it to, but because her friends needed it to, even if they wouldn't admit it (Jake, for instance, expresses guilt at using Rachel for the dirtiest work - given where it gets her, you can't blame him). Rachel herself doesn't really become conscious of this until her little tete-a-tete with Crayak, a conversation that culminates in an argument with Cassie. When Cassie starts (as usual) objecting to Rachel's latest morally troubling but wholly necessary choice:

Cassie: I don't think you can do it a second time.
Rachel: (snapping) You know what, Cassie? I don't think I can, either. So will you do it for me?
Cassie: (taken aback) I...I don't...
Rachel: I didn't think so.

  • For some reason, Rachel imagining sticking a fork in David's ear was incredibly disturbing. I don't think there's an Ear Scream trope, but....imagining that isn't pleasant.
    • "I fought back a nauseating urge to twist the fork, to make him squeal in pain." Rachel, ladies and gentlemen.
  • Imagine being one of those seventeen thousand Yeerks that Jake flushed into space, at first confused, then in a sudden stab of terror realizing what's happening and completely helpless to stop it...
    • Fortunately for them, they have next to no sensation, so by the time they were aware they got spaced, they'd probably be dead.
  • Megamorphs #3 where Jake gets no-nonsense shot in the head and dies, Cassie briefly snaps, and Rachel gets blown in half by a cannonball.
  • In The Andalite Chronicles, a Quantum Virus is mentioned. It can be programmed to target a species, and basically wipes them from existence at an atomic level. Later seen in the Hork-Bajir Chronicles. Just as terrifying as it sounds.
    • And most of the Andalites think the reports of its use are just Yeerk propaganda.
  • In The Threat, Marco almost gets stuck in a flea morph. He manages to demorph into some..THING, that's described as a flea the size of a dog. A flea the size of a dog. Thank God Cassie is able to talk him through the morph, but no one could blame him for collapsing in tears.
  • The beginning of the first book, when we first realized this wasn't Goosebumps. The kids meet a dying alien that gives them the power to morph. In a gentler story, Elfangor would have become the quirky alien mentor or something. But since this is Animorphs, guess what? Visser Three turns into the first of his many horrendous morphs and eats him.
    • Don't forget when pieces of Elfangor fall out of the Visser's mouth and Taxxons, who were waiting at the Visser's feet, jump up and eat them.
    • Which later becomes even more horrifying once you realize that Tobias was watching his own father being eaten alive, and most likely remembers every single moment of it.
  • Visser Three. Sure, he's a bad guy and he's an egomaniac. But it gets worse. It gradually becomes clear that his Affably Evil personality is only a masquerade which does little to hide his psychopathic tendencies. He's a violent nutcase who flips out at little-to-no provocation and will often execute his own subordinates, or torture them for weeks, for no other reason than the fact that he's pissed off, which is pretty much all the time. And he's got a variety of morphs hand-picked for the fact that they can kill you in the most grotesque ways possible (one of them can shoot acid, for instance). For Christ's sake, the guy has a personal collection of torture instruments from all over the galaxy for entertainment.
    • Even worse is his disturbing fondness for eating his victims. Now, yeerks are photosynthetic, and his andalite host body is an herbavore. So just where did this guy get the idea to eat people from?
      • Well, he is in charge, and the Yeerks do have to know how to feed their host species...
  • In a book where Jake is infested with Tom's old Yeerk, we're treated to a memory of the real Tom, who's become a broken, empty husk of a person, mentally sobbing and begging the Yeerk in his head to leave Jake alone. It's not exactly fun to read.
    • That was this troper's first book in the series. Realized then and there that this wasn't going to pull its punches.
  • I file the ending of the last book as Fanon Discontinuity, not necessarily because I disagree with the decision to end it that way, but because the image of the assimilated Ax was literally keeping me from sleeping.
    • The part that sent this troper into a cold sweat was when Ax smiles at them.
  • Crayak. He's basically an Eldritch Abomination portrayed mainly as a disembodied eye that lives in the space between dimensions thanks to that incident with the black hole. And his sole purpose in life is to destroy as much life as the Ellimist will let him, all for kicks. Makes you wonder why K. A. Applegate didn't just stick with the Sorting Algorithm of Evil and make him the actual Big Bad.
    • Because that makes him even more terrifying. If he was to actually interfere on a personal level, he'd destroy everything in a manner of seconds. I read an interview where Applegate talked about him, saying she wanted him to represent true evil, on an existential level, much like Sauron from Lord of the Rings. I however, end up imagining him as pure Lovecraftian horror; something beyond our capacity to understand, completely malevolent, and so powerfully destructive that he would kill everything he could possibly kill (everything) if he ever fully loosed his power. Then in the last book, there's The One, who is obviously Crayak, finally starting to make his move.
      • He's more Morgoth
      • "Obviously Crayak"? I never got the impression that The One had anything to do with the Crayak. Just because it's powerful, mysterious and nightmarish doesn't mean it has to be the same Eldritch Abomination they'd already met before. There are plenty of evils in the galaxy other than just the ones the Animorphs met during the war. Keep that in mind, won't you?
      • To the first Troper who mentioned Crayak, he is the Big Bad, pulling the strings behind the Yeerks and any other enemies the Animorphs met, with the Ellimist pulling the strings behind their allies.
      • When the Ellimist was talking about the origin of his battle with Crayak, he told the gang that Crayak was expelled from a far-distant galaxy hundreds of millions of years ago by an even more powerful entity. I always took The One to be that more-powerful entity, particularly considering that in the end, the heroes are in a far-distant galaxy in an uncharted section of space.
      • I figured "The One" referred to the creature in the Bolivian Army ending.
        • Could be both.
      • I assumed The One was an entity similar to what Ellimist called Father.
    • One final note on the above: K.A. explicitly jossed the theory that The One has any connection to Crayak in an interview.
  • The One. Ax, of all individuals, being reduced to just another tiny part of an unbelievable being's consciousness is already creepy as all get out, but then there's the mouth...
  • What the Nartec do to their victims.
    • That was the first book I read in the series... That was years ago and I was fairly young, but I'm just realizing how scary the concept was!
    • The scariest thing about Crayak? His introduction. Jake experiences the Yeerk dying in his brain, and, just like that, is pushed face to face with something so awful, so utterly evil, that it nearly breaks him... with no explanation. None. Ellimist hasn't even shown up yet, and Jake won't know what it is for a very long time. He mentions having awful nightmares about it in The Attack.
  • For a series about aliens, Animorphs made some of Mother Earth's own children into pure horror for many a child. In The Predator Marco describes Jake morphing into a lobster and his face "exploding" into valves. Imagine seeing a human being's face turn into this. Or in The Suspicion, Cassie describes a giant (from her perspective) wolf spider.
    • After having read the series for a while, one begins to ponder why one ever thought animals to be sweet, cool, or indeed anything other than absolutely deadly.
      • Which is appropriate, seeing as the characters (especially Cassie) have the same realisation.
    • Apparently the Body Horror was so bad even the author had nightmares.
  • Marco exhibits some slightly Machiavellian tendencies, especially in the later books. He often talks about "the straight line". It's a personal philosophy of his; there is a straight line from A to B, the simplest way to do it, ultimate efficiency. Sometimes following this line forces you to do some things that you'd rather not (like kill your family), and thus, you diverge from the line. But the line is still the line, and for that ultimate efficiency, it must be followed through (to the hilt, so to speak). This philosophy led him to plan in detail - and execute to completion - a plan to throw his own mother off a cliff to kill the alien in her head... What Do You Mean It's for Kids??!
  • Tobias getting tortured as a means to fool the yeerks into thinking the demorphing ray doesn't work. Tobias lost a sizable chunk of his sanity there, and it's really obvious.
    • And everyone basically knew it was going to happen. Jake, at least, realised that it was the ultimate plan before Tobias himself did, but needed to wait for Tobias to volunteer. The team basically forced doubt and indecision aside and threw their friend in the grinder to protect themselves, showing a lot less consideration for his safety and well-being than they do for many of their enemies.
  • The Yeerks themselves. An alien slug forces its way through your ear canal and wraps itself around your brain - then takes over controlling your body while you are trapped helplessly in your own head. More than anything else, that element of the series kept me awake for very long stretches of time.
    • Seconded.
    • Aside from the basic creep factor .. There was a nice moment when This Troper (later in life, reminiscing about the books fondly) realized all the implications of the Yeerk going about your life for you. Have a husband or boyfriend? Do a lot of casual hooking up? Anything in between? Well, your Yeerk is going to go on with it. Which means you don't get to decide when you have sex anymore, or how, or who with.
  • The Nesk, plain and simple.
  • Rachel transforms into a shrew, and is very nearly overwhelmed by the instincts. Particularly notable is the bit where she's being held by the rest of team, and doesn't actually react to them. My memory may be faulty, but it was still creepy.
  • The fate of the Venber in The Extreme. The Yeerks had cloned an extinct alien species, the Venber, to make shock troops specially adapted for cold temperatures. The problem is a) they can't survive in temperatures above freezing, and b) the Venber clones are being controlled to follow programing instead of a Yeerk. So in the book's climax the kids run into area where there a large amounts of powerful lights. And the Venber follow. They melt. And even as they slowly die their programming forces them to twitch and writhe around and try to follow the Animorphs as their body liquefy. Yikes.
    • Oh, and from the same book, Ax takes down a Taxxon while the others are in fly morph. They can't see well, but they can sure as hell smell something...

Ax: <I think we are in trouble, Prince Jake.>
Jake: <Is it dead?>
Ax: <In a matter of speaking. One half of it is consuming the other half.>

  • I can simply not believe that there has been no mention of the time that Marco got swallowed by a bird whilst in wolf spider morph. I still can't think of that moment without shuddering. Also, how about in The Message where he gets bitten in half by a shark whilst in dolphin morph.
  • The crown jewel wasn't the transformations but the school's principal: Stock children's-fiction villain, and host to the mind-controlling parasite aliens' leader, being given back 'the helm' inside his own head, and allowed to beg for his family's life before the BIGGER BOSS. He falls over and slurs and drools because he hadn't had willed control of his body for longer than it takes the Yeerk to feed in YEARS.
  • Don't even get me started on the Yeerks. This troper hasn't read the books in years but still needs a blanket over her ears at night so said mind-controlling parasite aliens can't crawl into her brain while she sleeps (shudders).
  • The animorphs' ages are never specified until near the end of the series. Those violent battles, having their limbs torn off, being forced to kill innocents, watching the people around them being puppetted by alien invaders? They started when they were thirteen.
    • Basically, the only militia to defend the world against an Alien Invasion is composed of six kids who would not be able to join the actual Army. Nice.
  • The description of the man's gangrenous leg that Cassie had to cut off in #44, The Unexpected.
  • #39 The Hidden, when Cassie sees an ant morphing into her. This is horrifying enough, but we then realise that the ant!Cassie is screaming because it's lost its Hive Mind and become an individual. Also, the Buffa-human is just creepy.
  • In The Experiment, the Animorphs have to infiltrate a slaughterhouse using cow morphs. Ax, before he has a chance to demorph, is herded onto the killing floor, and sees the cows ahead of him in line die, one by one, as the butcher approaches...Even after he's rescued and demorphs, Ax "could not stop trembling...could not stop shaking."

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