Ascended Fridge Horror

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
I think it's a testament to Pixar that they went there, and they said "what is the story of the toys?" The authentic story is "well, what happens when your owner grows up?" That's a cycle-of-life thing and it's cool that they went there and tackled it.
—Joan Cusack, on Toy Story 3, from this interview.

So let's say some work has a form of Fridge Horror, at least according to some interpretations of said work. It could be entirely by accident, and just be a product of Fridge Logic. It could be deliberate, but still left to thaw on its own in the audience's imagination through subtle Fridge Brilliance.

Whatever the case, obviously said disturbing aspect of the work is not definitive as of yet, as there could in theory be some way around it. So far, it has left explaining it up to the viewers, so you could probably expect that pattern to continue, right?

Well, sometimes you'd be wrong.

This is for when a prior Fridge Horror concept is openly a major part of the series later on; ascended fridge horror, if you will. That disturbing aspect of the series has just gone from ambiguous to absolute, and the series has become Darker and Edgier for it.

This trope is also frequently used in Deconstructions, where the Unfortunate Implications of genre conventions and tropes tend to be explored in unsparing detail.

Examples of Ascended Fridge Horror include:

Anime and Manga

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion takes the idea of a child as the pilot of a Humongous Mecha and strips it down to spotlight the fact that these shows are basically about Child Soldiers. We think.
    • Alternatively, but still in keeping with this trope, it's about the whole concept of placing the responsibility for the future of the world on one person, when that person is not at all cut out for that kind of responsibility, and what that kind of responsibility would do to a person, and what kind of person would put that kind of responsibility on them in the first place.
  • Pokémon Special acknowledges and occasionally shows that the eponymous creatures are indeed capable of harming or killing others outside of sanctioned matches, humans included.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica takes Magical Girl tropes and harshly deconstructs them, highlighting that said magical girls are essentially Child Soldiers. And then things get far, far worse and better.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena similarly takes the Magical Girl, prince and princess tropes from the first half and severely deconstructs them in the second. This is especially the case with Anthy, who demonstrates exactly what someone treated as a prize to be won would actually be like.
  • Ryan Matthews, a noted Dirty Pair fanfic writer back in the UseNet days, took some of the Unfortunate Implications of Adam Warren's version of the series (for Dark Horse Comics) to their logical, horrifying conclusions. A few years later, "Fatal, But Not Serious" officially confirmed several of those.
  • Popotan is about a trio of sisters who travel through time along with their maid. The catch is that when they are given the signal to leave, they have to, otherwise they will be unable to age normally; as such, they are forced to leave any friends they make behind over and over. It's understood quite early that Mai, one of the sisters, is not all that happy about their situation, but it takes episode 9 to show just how it can mess with the lives of both them and their friends: Konami, one such friend of Mai, died hoping she would eventually return to her, putting Mai into a serious depression.


  • The Toy Story series starts out taking the concept of sentient toys pretty lightly, but as the series goes on, it explores the Fridge Horror of the concept more and more thoroughly; and eventually, to a further extent than most people would probably expect from a children's movie series.
    • This article from, which touches on the Fridge Horror hinted at in the end of Toy Story 2, quite accurately predicted the themes of the third movie (two years before it was released, no less).
  • The Brave Little Toaster put a very cynical spin on the idea of anthropomorphic appliances and electronics: Like Toy Story 3, the plot kicked off with the main characters believing that they had been abandoned by their owner, introduces newer appliances which threaten their coveted favorite status, and delivers a truly horrific climax where, like Toy Story 3's incinerator scene, the appliances (and their master) are dumped into a junkyard, thrown onto a conveyor belt by a psychopathic magnet, and almost crushed to death.
  • Cars 2, by calling attention to the darker implications of Mater's prior Butt Monkey status, turns him into The Woobie.


  • In Seven Sorcerers by Carol King, we get Boogeymen. They are super strong, super fast, can breathe fire and are invisible to adults. However, they usually use all this to scare and kidnap children (for example, invisibility ensures adults don't believe the child). Since there are just "a few dozens" of them and they spend weeks or months on one child, their total impact is pretty negligable, right? Well, in "Shadow Spell", two of them start a killing rampage on adults (who, unable to see them, are mostly defenseless) and kill hundreds of humans per night. Thankfully, Skerridge, another Boogeyman, rebels and kills them both, ending the rampage
    • Same goes for Vespilio's Body Surf, distillation machine, and the Maug. The body count in Shadow Spell is gigantic.

Live Action TV

  • In Dollhouse we're introduced to the technology to reprogram people's memories and personalities, and it's being used to provide rich people with high quality midwives and fantasy lovers. Why aren't the people with this technology using it for more ambitious and nefarious purposes? Halfway through the season we find out that they are.


  • The first act of Into the Woods is a cheerful Fractured Fairy Tale. The second act is every single nasty consequence of every single person's actions coming back to haunt them.

Video Games

  • The Ecco the Dolphin series does this in Ecco: Tides Of Time, (the sequel to the original game) with the questions the concept of time travel raises. The original had Ecco time travel into the past one time to get a globe from past-Asterite to bring to present-asterite, and another time to save his fellow dolphins from a Vortex invasion. One cannot help but think this left questions about time travel in the minds of fans, because the sequel explored them in horrifying and confusing depth.
  • Pokémon Black and White does this with some of the Fridge Horror of the series. They introduced Team Plasma, an organization based on the idea that it's morally wrong for Trainers to even have Pokémon and that the interactions between them can never turn out well. The organization has two conflicting leaders—N, who honestly believes in the organization's mantra, and Ghetsis, who only preaches this to try and convince everyone else in the world to release their Pokémon so that he'll be the most powerful Trainer around. Guess which one has a Heel Face Turn, and which one's the final boss. N and Ghetsis, respectively.
    • On the same note as Pokémon Special listed above, Pokémon Colosseum and XD let the Donphan out to play with Cipher attacking trainers that try to obstruct their operations. The S.S. Libra is the biggest case, with its human crew lost at sea after XD001 takes their ship away.
      • And unlike previous team leaders who go off and disband their teams or are trapped in another world, both Plasma and Cipher have people swearing to revive them again... only not so much, since most of the people who want to reconstruct Team Plasma would rather N be in charge. Rood, in particular, would like to see N challenge Ghetsis himself someday. Not to say Ghetsis doesn't have other plans, but he's dry on support. The guy who wants Cipher rebuilt, however, is none other than Ardos, and with several Cipher Admins still on the lam, the odds of it changing for the better are pretty much absolute zero.
  • When Marle is temporarily removed from the timestream early in Chrono Trigger, she's still alive and conscious in some sort of void. Chrono Cross explores the implications of changing the timestream and condemning people to that void.
  • In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Link goes to the future and saves the almost post-apocalyptic world, then goes back in time to prevent the world from ever needing to be saved. Some fans theorized that that future world didn't cease to exist, it just continued on. Then came Wind Waker, which confirmed that theory, and revealed that the whole world was flooded because Link doesn't exist in that timeline.

Western Animation

  • Sonic SatAM did this with the concept of Robotnik turning innocent creatures into evil robots. The prior video games did not explore the process of roboticization in much depth, other than implying that the robots were more like mecha being piloted by a brainwashed animal (hence why a random critter pops out of one and runs away when a Badnik is smashed) while Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog—the other animated series, broadcast at the same time as SatAM—sidesteps the issue by having Robotnik build the robots from scratch. Sonic SatAM, on the other hand, thoroughly explores the Body Horror and loss of identity implicit in the robotic transformations; Uncle Chuck stated that roboticized people actually know what they are doing, but cannot do anything about it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender did this to the surprise of many viewers considering that it is a Nick show aimed at a young demographic. The show is built on the premise that some people can "bend" different elements: water, fire, earth, air. To waterbend, one needs a source of water to do it. In the episode "The Puppetmaster" Katara, one of the protagonists, meets a Waterbender elder who teaches her that she can draw water from almost anywhere: the ground, plants, even from the atmosphere around her. But wait! Isn't the human body 70% water? Can't a waterbender theoretically control a person/ draw the water right out of them? In this episode, the creators answer those questions to a horrifying degree. Hama doesn't call it Bloodbending for no reason
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law liked to play around with some of the implications of various Hanna Barbera cartoons, the one most following this trope being that the Jetsons really do live above a post-apocalyptic wasteland (as well as the fact that commuting everywhere on moving sidewalks instead of walking means that even moving across a room under their own power is a monumental feat.)
  • The Venture Brothers explore the dark idea of how messed up a boy adventurer would grow up to be and verbally expresses it through Rusty's despair of the gloomy future that awaits his boys only because they were born with the Venture name.
  • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret Of My Excess" applies ascended fridge horror to the implications of a dragon living in a pony community, even though most other episodes before it stepped around it.
  • It's a different canon, but Robot Chicken lives on following through with its parody subjects' gruesome implications.
  • Some of Family Guy's jokes are based around Ascended Fridge Horror. Two notable examples involving Looney Toons characters:
    • here, where we see what would happen if Elmer Fudd actually did finally get that wascally wabbit.
    • In a more drawn out scene, we see what would happen to Wily E. Coyote if he ever actually succeeded in killing the Roadrunner.