Faux Horrific

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    This is the cast of the Wing Commander movie? The horror! The horror!

    Spoony: Can't we come up with something new and original for an evil computer to do than launch nukes and crash the stock market? Something legitimately scary? Guys, please, I'm begging ya'.
    Professor Roswell: He could make... Gary Coleman president.


    A comedy trope where something is played up to be terrifying, and it clearly is not. It's not even something that sets off a common phobia. Sometimes the scene is shot like a horror film. Bonus points if the Psycho Strings are playing.

    Advertisements can do this, to show how either not using the product or using a rival product can be horrific.

    Often a Caustic Critic will do this with finding out he has to review some works he really hates, as a way to show that Suckiness Is Painful. Sometimes, even just holding the work in hand is enough to cause emotional scars.

    Compare What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?, Lightmare Fuel, Screaming At Squick, Nightmare Retardant, Mundane Ghost Story.

    Contrast Nightmare Fuel, Fridge Horror (both are portrayed as not scary, but end up being so).

    Examples of Faux Horrific include:

    Anime and Manga

    • In episode 2 of Season 2 of K-On!!!, after cleaning out the closet of the music room, Mio and Asuza find out that Yui left a lot of things still and get mad at her. Yui pouts and claims that Ui would get mad and make a scary face if the latter brought more stuff home. Cue cutscene showing a "scary" Ui giving a thumbs up to Yui, after the latter had dropped other stuff she took home earlier and apologized profusely. Both Mio and Asuza wonder if Ui isn't the older, more responsible sister after all.
    • In Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki has a nightmare about the squalor Haruhi might be living in.
    • An episode of Sailor Moon does this with going to the dentist.
    • Angel Densetsu does this all the time, since its premise is that its good-hearted, gentle main character is Nightmare Fuel to everyone around him.


    • The squirrel scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, where everyone reacts to the tiny rodent as if it were a knife-wielding lunatic.
    • The story of getting a perm in Troop Beverly Hills.
    • High Anxiety, naturally, being a spoof of Alfred Hitchcock films, especially the shower scene.
    • The Doctor Who Made for TV Movie has two examples within about five minutes. First, the newly-regenerated Doctor is set up to be kind of scary, with the whole Finger-Twitching Revival, Barrier-Busting Blow thing when he wakes up at the morgue, and then he's shown wide-eyed, shivering, and clutching a shroud around himself. Also, he's rather short, skinny, and cute. Nonetheless, the morgue attendant does a Girly Man Faint when he sees him. Then, when the Doctor goes to remedy his no-clothing situation, he finds a Nixon Mask in someone's locker. He flinches and there's a Scare Chord.
    • Monsters, Inc.: A subversion, "There is nothing more toxic or deadly than a human child!" Seeing as monsters uses children's screams as a power source, their fear is somewhat understandable. How would you feel if a rod of active plutonium started following you around and calling you "Kitty"?

    Fan Works

    • Harveste reacts this way when his boggart turns into a scene involving fresh air, happy music, flowers, and kittens. It takes one and a half bottles of Vodka to calm him down.

    He stepped forward, curious to see what it would change into. What was an Addams afraid of, after all?
    The Boggart flickered, and disappeared into a pool of sunshine. Peppy music seemed to bloom through the air on the wings of a pine-scented breeze, lightening the shadows, inducing a spate of foot-tapping with its catchy riffs. There was a yellow, sunflower-patterned boot. It had three wriggly kittens, one green eyed, one blue and one silver. They mewled ingratiatingly and one tumbled out in a furry little heap.
    There was a pot of flowers in full bloom.
    Harry took a step back with speed. "Loki's womb…" He breathed with horrified despair. "It's awful."
    Draco and Blaise watched Harry stumble into the common room, closely followed by an anxious Hermione.
    "What on earth happened?" She asked them, her eyes on their friend. He was in the closet, throwing out skirt after skirt, blouse after blouse. "He's shaking."
    "Boggart." They both said together.
    "Oh no. What did it turn into? Some huge, slavering, scaly, blood-soaked beast?"
    "Don't tease me so, darling." Harry moaned, desperately burying his hands into black lace and chiffon to try and forget. "It was the most horribly disgusting thing I've ever seen. The fresh air…the music…the flowers…"
    It took a bottle and a half of strongest vodka before Harry could control himself, but he twitched every time someone even mentioned cats.



    • In My Godawful Life, a parody of Misery Lit, all characters react with extreme horror at the mention of Northumberland (a county in the north of England.) Being forced to live there is described as far and away the most horrific event in the main character's life, even though he has suffered every misfortune and indignity imaginable. The author has said in interviews that this is a Take That at the "Wife in the North" blog, written by a woman who had moved from London to Northumberland with her family.
    • In the Discworld books, the males of the Nac Mac Feegle (who outnumber the females about 100 to 1) live in fear of such feminine wiles as "the foldin' o' the arms", "the pursin' o' the lips", and "the tappin' o' the feet". Tiffany uses these tricks in Wintersmith when confronting them about stealing food from an elderly witch's "going-away party", and can't help but burst out laughing at the frenzy of guilt the Feelges work themselves into.

    Live-Action TV

    • In Married... with Children, Peg redecorates the bathroom, and Al finds all the Pink Means Feminine terrifying. He looks at some photos, and instead sees the Grim Reaper.
    • Basically anything that ever happened in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, like in the episode "Scotch Mist".
    • An episode of My Family has Ben react this way when Susan plays the cello after Janey moves out. The music causes him to back into a corner, making the cross sign with his fingers.
    • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, the gang visit a hippie-run resort, and when they find out there's no meat or alcohol available, their reactions come complete with a Scare Chord.
    • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode It Lives by Night begins with Mike showing the bots paint samples as they prepare to redecorate the satellite a bit. The bots have humorously weird reactions to the first colors, including one supposedly the color of dried blood that is said to make the viewer mad. (Tom: "I think it would be perfect for the can!") Both are frightened to the point of hiding, however, by the eggshell sample.
      • One episode has the bots pestering Joel to tell them a really scary story - Joel perhaps goes too far, reading excerpts from "Life's Little Instruction Book", leaving the two whimpering in terror.
    • The "Avocado Bathroom Suite" sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look
    • In Supernatural in the episode "Yellow Fever" Dean, the guy who hunts monsters and demons on a daily basis, is shown fearfully running away from...a tiny dog with a bow in its ears, and screaming like a girl when he sees a little kitten. Justified because he was under a curse that causes the victim to be afraid of everything.

    Newspaper Comics

    • Back when Apple released the first iMac, Jason of FoxTrot dressed up as one for Halloween. Peter didn't understand how it was supposed to be scary, to which Jason replied "I have no floppy drive!" which quickly reduces Peter to a quivering wreck.
    • From one Garfield comic:

    Jon: {reading a book labeled "Scary Stories"} Then the zombie crept closer and closer!
    Garfield: Lame.
    Jon: Then he broke down the door and walked into the house!
    Garfield: Ooohh, I'm so scared.
    Jon: And he ate the last of the roast turkey.
    Garfield: OH NO!


    Video Games

    Web Comics

    Web Original


    "The game's playing itself, Jon. The game's playing itself, Jon!"


    Western Animation

    • Wormy, the caterpillar turned butterfly in SpongeBob SquarePants, is played like this, although the closeup shots of Wormy's face was of a horsefly, not a butterfly, to try to make it look more menacing.
      • "Oh my gosh...a FLOATING SHOPPING LIST!"
      • The episode Krab-Borg. Everybody remembers what kind of show gives SpongeBob nightmares and delusion in the next day?
      • "Sing a Song of Patrick". Patrick's song is something of a Brown Note in-universe; to the viewers, it can range from "not that horrible, really" to "quite catchy".
      • In "Suds", SpongeBob reacts in horror of Patrick's description of the terrors of the doctor's office. "They make you read... OLD MAGAZINES!"
      • "Hall Monitor": Patrick is so scared of the Maniac that just seeing a police sketch of him sends him into a screaming fit. Said sketch is clearly a stick figure rendering of SpongeBob, and they didn't even drew him scary-looking.
    • In a Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" connecting segment parodying Night Gallery, Bart directs the viewer's attention to a painting he claims is so horrific that "merely to gaze at it is to go mad." Cut to Homer looking at one of the Dogs Playing Poker paintings, freaking out and collapsing in hysterical laughter. Bart follows this by saying, "We had a story to go with this painting, but it was far too intense." So it turns out to be a lead in to an unrelated vampire story.
    • Tiny Toon Adventures did a similar gag in their Night Gallery spoof. The picture in question was Babs' third-grade school photo.
    • Freakazoid!: The scariest thing in the world would be if they gave Sinbad another show.
      • The show regularly makes use of Stock Footage of people screaming, dubbed "Scream-O-Vision", to comically play up the horribleness of something.
    • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the ponies are terrified of the Everfree Forest, where plants grow wild, animals care for themselves, and the weather changes all on its own.[1]
      • There's also the "stampede" of baby bunnies from "Applebuck Season". "The horror... the horror!"

    Twilight Sparkle: I don't get it.

    • Family Guy
      • Stewie sees a picture of a fully nude woman, and as he's just a baby, seeing her crotch made him scream and shoot the magazine with a machine gun.
      • Quagmire tells a Ghost Story that's clearly only scary to him. The scene can seen be here.
      • Meg's very existence in later seasons.
    • In Futurama, Professor Farnsworth is rescued from a Lotus Eater Machine at the Near Death Star. He describes what it's like as thus: "It was as though I were living in a facility in Florida with hundreds of other old people. All day long we'd play bingo, eat oatmeal and wait for our children to call." Cue gasps of horror from the crew.

    Leela: It's a hundred times more horrible than anything I could imagine.

    • On The Amazing World of Gumball, a robber holds up a gas station with only a spoon, which the other characters think it's a lethal weapon. When he gets caught in the end, the cop laughs it off.
    • On Tales from the Cryptkeeper, the episode "The Sleeping Beauty" ends with vain Prince Charmless Chuck getting turned into a vampire, which to his horror means he can no longer admire himself in the mirror.
    • The Garfield and Friends episode "Uncle Roy To The Rescue" opens with Wade doing a Wild Take, fleeing away, and hiding in a trashcan because he got a free sample of soap in the mail. Roy has a similar overreaction when he finds out his niece Chloe is coming for a visit.
    • One of South Park's Halloween episodes featured "Scare-O-Vision": Barbara Streisand's face in each corner of the screen, accompanied by screams. OH THE HORROR!!
    1. For non-fans, the world of the show runs on I Dye Grass; the ponies literally do everything from manage the weather to make sure animals hibernate on schedule.