Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Well, thank you so much for turning my vague, formless paranoia into a concrete and palpable psychosis!"

A character, often a Cloudcuckoolander, whose innocent attempt to make something (typically a drawing) comes across as Nightmare Fuel—to the other characters. Unlike with normal Nightmare Fuel, other characters in the show will notice how horrifying the drawing/poem/song/story is, but the innocent NFSA sees nothing wrong with their tale of baby eating zombies or the drawing of a "miniature poodle" that looks more like the ungodly offspring of a hellhound and a CHUD.

More generally, this kind of character will be simply a casual observer to some frightening or grotesque phenomenon who either doesn't bat an eye or responds with some kind of snarky comment (and no, they're never meant to be a Stepford Snarker). It will often be a child or a "simple" person who doesn't comprehend the danger, or else a Jerkass or Misanthrope Supreme who genuinely doesn't give a damn what happens. Either way, you can expect that saner characters will be almost as creeped out by this character's reaction as by the actual threat.

Frequent features of the works of a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant are:

Frequently combined with Room Full of Crazy, Creepy Child or Dissonant Serenity tropes when the writers need to give their characters that extra little bit of creepy.

Compare Nightmare Fetishist, Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book. The very existence of (unintentional examples of) the Uncanny Valley proves this is trope is Truth in Television.

Tropes invoking a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant

Examples of Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant include:


  • Smilin' Bob, the mascot for Enzyte, "the once-daily tablet for natural male enhancement". Not only are the ads full of ridiculously unsubtle sexual innuendo, but Bob is always, always seen with an overly cheery expression, crowned with a smile that does not go away ever. The Stepford Smiler aspect of his expressions, combined with the upbeat, happy whistling tune in almost every commercial, is enough to give many viewers night terrors.
    • And the Santa commercial, oh god the Santa commercial. A sack full of confidence indeed.
    • Add to this the fact that the narrator of the commercial is David Kaye. That's right, Beast Wars Megatron is talking about male enhancement. Now think about the line "a sack full of confidence".
    • Additionally frighting is that the "constant smile" is supposed to make the viewer think that he has an erection at that moment. So when he's at work, shopping, sitting around with his pals, talking to strange women, losing his swimwear in the pool...

Anime and Manga

  • Kaede from SHUFFLE! is a non-Cloudcuckoolander example.
  • Kafuka Fuura from Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei. Much of her work comes across this way, but in particular, when she gives a scratchy recording of the Traumerei lyrics about "soup made by a lady in a catskin", "a neighbourhood where all the old ladies have disappeared" and "a hole as deep as a young man's height", inadvertently producing a song that can drive any who listen to it paranoid, depressed and insane, yet dancing to it as though it were an upbeat piece of pop music.
    • On one occasion, Kafuka was assigned by Itoshiki-sensei to brainstorm ways that aliens could make contact with Earth. Kafuka immediately proceeds to describe a method that the aliens could use to take over the world without anyone noticing, before concluding that humanity will likely remain completely unaware, even as it is converted into a livestock race. At no point does it dawn on her that this might be in any way disturbing.
    • A common fan theory, well supported in the anime, is that she is in fact a (literal) demon and doing it deliberately.
    • Matarou also falls into this trope occasionally.
    • What about Chiri Kitsu? "Meat doll", indeed.
  • Kaoru Yamazaki of Welcome to The NHK. As he has no experience of women beyond anime, he fails to see the problem with drawing a Moe Moe character who is a sickly, injured, ghost robot schoolgirl maid - indeed, he thinks the character would be an appropriate, attractive heroine for an H-Games.
    • The most disturbing this is, however, that he is the most well-balanced character in the series and apparently gets happily married at the end. And indeed, while his issues may be disturbing, he doesn't let them become an obstacle to his life, unlike every other character.
  • When told to draw her fantasy future, Orihime from Bleach draws a chaotic and bizarre picture featuring herself as a deadly robot on a rampage through a destroyed city (with missiles exactly where you'd expect), confusing and disturbing the other students greatly (comedically, though). Nemu is also an example; in one of the manga omake, she drew a cell phone that was so disturbing and perverted that it physically repulsed the other Shinigami Women's Association members (and had to be censored, leaving it to the readers' imagination just how perverted and disturbing it is).
  • Parodied in Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan with Dokuro's casual drawing of a beautiful and calm lake, which in her view is filled with dead bodies and blood, greatly disturbing her drawing mate Sakura.
  • In Azumanga Daioh, the second year school festival garnered a rather disturbing suggestion from Osaka regarding how to combine a haunted house, a café, and a stuffed animal display.

Osaka: It's a café filled with adorable animals... and they're all dead.

    • Also, Kimura. Just... Kimura.
    • Don't forget the time when Osaka attempted to draw a panda which ended up looking more like a man-eating monster.
      • Also, and at the Iriomote cat display at a museum, talking about Mayaa the cat:

Osaka: [points to stuffed cat] That's what he'll look like when he grows up.
Sakaki and Chiyo are impressed.
Osaka: [points to skeleton] And then he'll look like that...nice and bony.

    • Osaka is shown with her idea for waking Yukari up: banging a wooden spoon against a frying pan. Except she grabs a knife instead, giving Yukari the delightful image of a bleary-eyed, knife-wielding Osaka looming over, who then expresses disappointment that she's already awake.
    • Oh, and point of interest? Osaka and Orihime (two examples up) have the same Japanese voice actress.
    • And we almost forgot the time in the first "summer break" episode, where Osaka randomly imagined everyone getting killed off, like in a murder mystery. "And then it turns out... I'm the killer!"
      • The message is delivered after that. When Osaka says she's the killer, no one takes her seriously, then she slowly turns her head towards the camera and gives a Psychotic Smirk. Brrr...
    • Osaka also worries about Chiyo-chan getting kidnapped when she goes to America. But she'll be safe because she has her Big Friendly Dog Mr. Tadakichi there to protect her, right? Nope. Osaka points an imaginary gun at him and says "Bang!". Mr. Tadakichi is dead. Sakaki reassures Chiyo that her father will come to her rescue. Nope. Osaka: "Bang!". Chiyo's reaction is priceless.
    • Osaka takes the cake for Azumanga Daioh, but Chiyo-chan can accidentally fall under this. Examples include that nervous BSOD in episode 5 of the anime and that cat suit in episode 8.
    • Kagura is a minor form of this on occasion. She tends to not notice how her boredom-induced doodles of animals shot by arrows and with eye patches act as Nightmare Fuel to Sakaki.
      • Sakaki loves all cute and cuddly animals, including bears. So Yomi brings her canned bear meat as a souvenir from her vacation.
  • Little Kikuri from Hell Girl likes to draw mutilated stick-figure bodies. Granted, she is an attendant of hell...
    • Her drawings are just about the least disturbing thing about her - how about the time when she threw flowers over a teenager dying from a traffic accident, after telling him that Hell is real, and then running away giggling.
  • Guu from Haré+Guu. When everyone is trying to draw the creature that took Haré's mom based on the descriptions, Guu draws a picture that causes crying, fainting and several people to run away in terror. The audience is never shown the picture, though.
  • Mytho from Princess Tutu becomes one of these in the second season when his heart is tainted with Raven's blood. He performs a ballet dance to "Night On Bald Mountain" (which those who have seen Fantasia will remember as the sequence with Chernabog summoning demons) with gestures that make his hands seem clawed and an intense, angered and almost pained look on his face. It sends a group of female dance students screaming when they watch it. He also later tells a character that he wants them to take out his heart, then "kiss it and dye your lips crimson with my blood." It's hard to tell if he's trying to scare her or if he actually thinks it's romantic.
  • Ritsuko Akagi fills this position several times in the show. The last time is particularly nightmarish, and left this troper with nightmares for a week.
  • Konoka Konoe of Mahou Sensei Negima has one of these:

Konoka: If you get hurt, I'll heal you right up.
Setsuna: And I will protect Ojou-sama even at the cost of my own life.
Konoka: But I can't heal you if your head gets crushed into a splatter, so be careful, okay? (Like a Tomato!)
Setsuna: O-Ojou-sama...
Negi: H-haa.. okay...?
Chamo: Konoka-neesan, that's too grim! Too grim!

    • Haruna, peeved that her close friends wouldn't inform a Muggle such as herself about the existence of magic, threatens to thoroughly torture each one of them, while drawing pictures for them of how she'll do it (thankfully, that's as far as she goes). In general, lots of characters comment on how scary Haruna is.
    • Chizuru acts like this for both Kotaro and Natsumi, despite apparently being completely powerless. However, she does seemingly summon large onion stalks (to be used as suppositories) at will (and she's extremely ready to apply them as per the previous parenthetical statement), and she's already been seen slapping a high-level demon without thinking twice about it. So while it hasn't been shown why yet, she might be inspiring fear for very good reason.
  • Mutsumi from Love Hina ends up one of these whenever she recounts an episode of her favorite TV show from when she was a kid, Liddo-kun's Big Adventure, similar to a scenario she and her friends are facing... except she always recalls her example from Liddo-kun ending in some horrific disaster, leaving Naru and Keitaro (who also used to watch Liddo-kun) skeptical that it actually happened that way.
  • Sakura, an extremely Ill Girl from Betterman who has very sensitive extrasensory perception and precognition. A tragic figure overall, having ultimately low prospects for survival, the fact that her whispery voice narrates every End Episode Preview, in which she always foretells a grisly future (like how worms will eat your flesh. While you're still alive), takes her into this territory.
  • In the Skypiea arc of One Piece, Nico Robin assures Nami and Chopper that Zoro is alright after saving Chopper from sky sharks, because "the clouds haven't turned red yet."
    • Robin is actually quite good at this. Other examples include telling Nami that she's 50 meters up and she'll die if she falls, suggesting that their new boat should be named "Being of Darkness", and finding a Cerberus cute while it was attacking her. And this is her when she's joking; considering her powers, if you make her mad, you'll never stop having nightmares...that is, if you survive...
  • Stepford Smiler Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia thinks nothing of his heart dropping onto the table in the middle of an Allied Powers meeting. According to him, it just "falls out occasionally". The others are grossed out and tell him "put it back on! eeeew!"
    • Finland, of all people, might be an example of this trope, considering some of the things he does.

Finland: *on the name of his new dog* I like Bloody Flower Egg!
Sweden (his partner and self-declared husband): ... Le's think 'bout tha''r...
(They seem to have settled on the "Hanatamago" instead of the Bloody... Thankfully?)

  • Seiichirou Kitano, the protagonist of Angel Densetsu, is a nice take on this trope: to the readers he's funny, but to the other characters in the manga, he's a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant just by being around. (Yes, he's that scary)
  • Let's bury the dog. That'll make him all better
  • The eponymous character from Franken Fran is the definition of a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant.
    • What's especially notable is how she manages to terrify everyone. Customers, clients, bystanders, collegues, even her own twisted creations; there is not a single individual who will not be retching or screaming around her at some point. And she's still endlessly adorable.
  • The title character of Mato-chan is fascinated by bugs and frequently voices conclusions about her grade-school life that are informed by the anatomy and life cycles of insects (such as the tendency of female Praying Mantises to eat their mates).
  • Yuno from Mirai Nikki is an extreme version of this.
  • Sawako (albeit unintentionally) from Kimi ni Todoke. In-universe, with those forced smiles.
  • Johan Liebert of Monster.
  • Faust VIII of Shaman King.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! R, pretty much all the Card Professors are eccentric, but Tilla Mook seems to fit this Trope; she not only uses monsters based on vampires, she seems to believe she is one, hanging out in a room resembling a cemetery and referring to her ace card, Vampire's Curse, as her "master". This is further emphasized by the way the Solid Vision Hologram system of the Duel Disks interpret Vampire Curse's effect; when summoned from the Graveyard this way, Tilla offers it her neck and it drinks her blood, causing her Life Points to decrease by 1,000 (the cost for using the card's effect), and the monster gains 500 Attack Points via the card effect.

Fan Works

  • In the Daria fandom is a group known as The Angst Lords. Their stories specialize in Horrifying Implications and My God, What Have I Done? moments guranteed to leave you with the desire to hug someone tightly to reassure yourself that the story is over and, indeed, fictional.

Comic Books


  • Julian Beck in Poltergeist II, especially when crooning his Ironic Nursery Tune. The fact that Beck was literally dying of cancer shows in his character, too.
  • Patrick Bateman's frequent morbid sketches throughout the book/film American Psycho certainly qualify, assuming you believe the Alternate Character Interpretation that is Patrick imagining all of the horrible things he is said to have done in the novel/movie.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 3, with Cody's bizarre drawing of Samara parody Tabitha.
  • The MST3K episode Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders not only has plenty of Nightmare Fuel, but an unwitting NFSA in the form of Grandpa Ernest Borgnine, whose whimsical, heartwarming bedtime stories are filled with terrifying monsters and cute animal death (ironically, this is instead of letting him watch a horror movie). Mike and the bots parody this in one segment when they begin reading a series of children's books written by Ernest Borgnine. They all have cute covers and innocuous titles but feature sickening amounts of death and torture. (All except the book titled "Dr. Blood's Orgy of Gore" which is about a group of bunnies who get sweaters.)

Child: The monkey killed the dog?
Borgnine: I told you, it's a bad toy.
Child: What happens next? Does it kill Michael?
Borgnine: Well, now you're getting ahead of me.

    • This unfortunate problem results from a very, very simple incredibly bad idea; the movie was made from two failed horror movies (including one that blatantly plagiarized Stephen King)... but they couldn't get them picked up like that, so they retooled them as a single family film, using exactly the same stories. The very fact that someone thought it was a good idea to greenlight this script as a family film may make this Truth in Television, to a degree.
  • In a variant of this, Sharon from the Silent Hill movie gained a habit of unconsciously drawing creepy pictures that even she herself would be afraid of when she'd come to her senses.
  • Aidan from The Ring, after watching the cursed tape, started drawing pictures of Samara, buried people, and huge circles that look a bit too much like the Ring.
    • To be fair, he was drawing buried people before he saw the cursed tape - his teacher shows Rachel one such drawing he did two weeks before his cousin's death. It just got worse after he saw the tape.
    • Samara was quite the Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, too, what with her "insomnia" and her chilling Ironic Nursery Rhyme. It's no wonder she was drawn to the other Creepy Child in the movie.
  • In Donnie Darko, Donnie draws disturbing images of "Frank", a humanoid rabbit with a monstrous face. Being the Mind Screw that it is, though, it turns out that Frank is actually real, and Donnie is simply drawing an accurate depiction of his Hallowe'en costume. The director's cut suggests that Frank is Elizabeth's boyfriend.
    • That he's Elizabeth's love interest can also be taken from the original film, only thing they make it a bit more obvious in the director's cut.
  • Anyone from Halloweentown. Although who can really blame them for decorating XMAS with spiders, bats, coffins, jack o lanterns, and shrunken heads? To them, it's all very merry.
  • Superbad features a humorous variant of this, in that it is not that the images young Seth draws are scary, but they all involve penises in vaguely disturbing contexts (signing the Declaration of Independence, bursting out of a man's chest à la Alien, Riding the Bomb from Dr. Strangelove, etc). They still result in him being sent to a psychiatrist though.
    • Seth himself was, however, fully aware that what he was doing was utterly bizarre and quite disturbing but was unable to stop himself, describing it as a sort of compulsion.
  • Satan himself (or rather, his nephew, who is supposed to be a non-fallen angel) gets this role in a segment of the animated film The Adventures of Mark Twain, based on his story "The Mysterious Stranger" (YouTube link). As if the unnerving animation wasn't enough, he builds an adorable little claymation village for the children to play with - and then kills all the residents brutally while talking about how silly and petty humanity is. Popular rumor to the contrary, this scene is on the DVD release of the movie, in all its glory, although it has been known to be cut out of TV airings.
  • The Butterfly Effect - Near the start of the movie, the kindergarten teacher shows the mother a picture which Aston Kutcher's (then 5-years-old) character has drawn: and it's him standing over two mangled corpses with a bloody knife in his hand.
    • Although to be fair, that teacher was asking for it. She told them to draw what they wanted to do when they grew up - and grown-up!Evan was mostly interested in getting horrible, violent revenge on his would-be prison rapists. It's just being portrayed in crayon.
      • So really, that makes it a subversion. At first it appears that 5-year-old Evan had innocently drawn it, then it's revealed to have been his adult self, with a motive in mind.
  • In the film version of Battle Royale, Instructor Kitano paints a crude, childish scene which portrays all of the students killing each other in various gruesome ways, but with Noriko standing unscathed, and with a saintly halo, in the midst of it all. Whether this means that Kitano is a creepy old man, or that he merely sees Noriko as a surrogate daughter (to make up for his negligent fatherhood) is up for debate, but Shuya and Noriko's reaction to the painting was everything but favorable.
  • In Pixar's A Bugs Life, the schoolchildren enthusiastically present a painting they made, depicting the battle between the "Warriors" and the grasshoppers, with various scenes of horrible carnage. The highlight of this is the kindly and lovable caterpillar, Heimlich, shown as cut neatly in half, on their teacher's recommendation that the scene needed drama. When poor Heimlich saw it, he went from green to white in an instant.
  • The minstrels following Sir Robin in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Although their song starts upbeat, their description of his bravery soon turns quite gruesome:

He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp
Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken
To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin...

Just you wait a little while,
Soon the man in black will come
And with his little chopper
He will chop you up!
You're out!

    • This is actually Truth in Television - both cases M was (allegedly) based on (Peter Kuerten and Fritz Haarmann) inspired rhymes such as these in the populace. Less scary in the original German, where they included lines such as "he'll turn your ass into ham".
      • He'll turn my donkey into pig meat?
      • Something similar happens in The Night of the Hunter right after the children's father has been hanged, and the other kids in town mock them by singing the song "Hing, Hang, Hung". This in itself is pretty creepy, but it doesn't get better when the little girl, too young to fully understand what has happened, cheerfully hums it to herself afterwards.

Hing, Hang, Hung,
See what the hangman done,
Hung, Hang, Hing
See the robber swing,
Hing, Hang, Hing, Hang,
Hing, Hang, Hing, Hang,
Now my song is done

"They're here."

  • In at least one ending of Hide and Seek, Emily draws pictures that give away her own split personality.
  • A mild moment in Some Kind of Wonderful: Eric Stoltz and Elias Koteas are in detention, and Koteas shows Stoltz a drawing he's just painstakingly completed, saying, "This is what my girlfriend would look like without skin."
  • House of 1000 Corpses has Captain Spaulding, a NFSA mixed with a Monster Clown running a literal nightmare fuel station: a gas station with a spooky ride attraction based on local legends built onto the side (free fried chicken with each ticket!).
  • In Strangers on a Train, we get two NFSA's for the price of one! Bruno and his mother (neither the picture of perfect sanity) are talking at home; she shows him her latest painting. He starts cackling delightedly and claims she captured his father to a "t" - the picture is a feverish nightmare portrait of wild glaring eyes and claws. Mom looks a bit confused and says it's supposed to be Saint Francis.
  • Maybe more so in the movie than the TV show episode, the kid in the Twilight Zone story It's A Good Life creates a no-way-out nightmare world for the others, but considers it all just good fun himself.
  • Nina, from Black Swan, most certainly counts. In particular, her dancing as the Black Swan, rather than being sensual, is instead terrifying.
  • Alpha and Omega has Eve, a caring Stepford Smiler Mama Bear who, because she's an Ax Crazy Cloudcuckoolander, would make various death threats against anyone who would harm her loved ones, including ripping out wolf anatomy's and shoving them down their throats or grasp at another wolf until they stop moving. However some of the other wolves, such as Winston and Kate, would be easily intimidated and shocked. Despite this, she believes that her threats would make a point.


  • The award-winning novel Knowledge Of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh features a young girl that was brought up by wolves being taken to a church for the first time. Imagine the reaction of a child that does not even know OF the Bible, let alone the details of the stories within it, coming face-to-face with a full sized Crucifix statue for the first time. By and large, quite a lot of religious iconography - particularly relics and images of martyrs - must be horrifying to young children who have no idea what they are meant to represent.
    • Many children even find them scary knowing full well what they are.
    • Many adults find them scary, too.
  • The Spitting Image Book, by the producers of the satirical 1980s TV show, included a parody of the Noddy children's books by Enid Blyton, in which Big Ears advises an unhappy Noddy to cheer himself up by singing happy songs. Noddy then proceeds to dance and sing a happy tune that quickly turns into a horrific, Wilfred Owen-like lyric about World War I. ("Oh what does it matter / If things aren't so merry / And death-shrouded corpses / Lie ready to bury"). The parody ends with Big Ears saying, "I don't see what you're so happy about. You've spoiled my whole bloody evening!" and an illustration (in the style of the originals) of him about to hang himself.
  • In the Discworld novel Hogfather, Mr Teatime himself qualifies as this; even the Assassins are horrified by him because even they have standards, and he is just too uncanny and unspeakable to be condoned. Lord Downey, head Assassin, privately decides that he will meet with a little "accident". Add this impression to his childlike behavior and outlook on life, and he genuinely horrifies people.
  • In Mathemagics, Riva's daughter draws a picture of her home planet for class, which leads to an angry meeting between the teacher and Riva.
  • In World War Z, feral girl Sharon describes the circumstances that left her that way with all the comprehension of a four-year-old, and that innocence arguably makes her descriptions (and impersonations) of the attacking zombies and the parents murdering their own children to keep the zombies from getting them that much more terrifying and saddening.

Sharon: Mrs. Randolph... was Ashley's mommy. Ashley was my friend. I asked her where was Ashley. She started to cry... Mrs. Randolph was dirty, she had red and brown on her dress.

  • In the Dresden Files book Changes, Toot-Toot the fairy comes out with this (spoileriffic) gem: "Harry's the new Winter Knight! Which is fantastic! The old Winter Knight mostly just sat around getting tortured. He never went on adventures or anything. Unless you count going crazy, I guess." Hilarious, but jeez.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • FREGLEY.
    • At one point in the series, little Manny accidentally watches one of Rodrick's horror movies instead of his kiddy cartoons. Greg stumbled upon a couple of Manny's drawings after that, and was pretty creeped out.
  • Rubeus Hagrid, in the Harry Potter novels, in his role of Professor of Care of Magical Creatures, teaches the students at Hogwarts all about "interesting critters". Unfortunately, what Hagrid calls "interesting", his students call "dangerous and frightening".

Live-Action TV

  • In the third Halloween episode of Community, Annie Eddison fits this trope like a glove.
  • This is the whole point of The Addams Family.
  • The episode of The King of Queens, "Present Tense". Deacon and Kelly give Doug and Carrie a painting of one of their pictures together for an anniversary present. Unfortunately, in the painting, Carrie's right arm is grossly enlarged and Doug has nasty-looking buckteeth. Carrie even admits that she has nightmares about it and feels like the eyes of the painting figures are following her; not to mention that she and Doug sometimes imagine each other with the deformities. It turns out that Deacon and Kelly gave them the painting to get back at them for a bad anniversary gift the Heffernans gave them: a set of statuettes of stereotypical-looking black jazz musicians. It would seem a more appropriate title for the episode would have been "Revenge is a Dish Best Served with an Anniversary Present".
  • Similarly, in Friends, Phoebe gives Monica "Gladys" - a hideously drawn, semi-3D portrait of a lady who looks like a witch, scary enough to stop even Joey from sleeping.
    • Not to mention her psychic reading of the pencil. "I don't know who this is, but it's not Debbie." Cue everyone looking freaked. And there's the children's song: "Oh, Grandma is a person that everyone likes, / She bought you a toy train and a bright shiny bike, / But lately she hasn't been coming to dinner, / The last time you saw her she looked a lot thinner. Now your parents told you she moved to Peru, / but the truth is she died and someday you will too." Poor, poor little children.
      • She is asked to tone down her children's songs and maybe write about farm animals and things like that. She comes out with, "Oh, the cow in the meadow goes, 'Moo'/Oh, the cow in the meadow goes, 'Moo'/Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds them up/And that's how we get hamburgers/Now chicken!" Played With in that the kids eventually love her for telling the truth.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles had a talent for drawing gruesome stick figures to illustrate his points.
  • In the Firefly episode "Out of Gas", the ship indeed is out of gas. The ship's resident crazy girl, River, tries to comfort Book like so: "You think we're going to run out of air. That we're going to die gasping. But we're not." Silent beat, while Book smiles hesitantly at her. "We'll freeze to death first."
    • Not the only time she does something like this, either. "Safe" has her mentioning, kind of off-handedly, a method of draining blood from the human body without leaving a mess, prompting Mal to call her "morbid and creepifying."
    • Freezing to death is apparently relatively pleasant, past a certain point. It sounds much better than asphyxiation, anyway.
    • Asphyxiation over the long term (what you'd get in space if oxygen recycling gave out) tends to involve slowly going to sleep and never waking up, while freezing to death tends to involve slowly going to sleep and never waking up, only much colder. Of the two, freezing is probably the far less comfortable way to go. Asphyxiation is really only horrifying if it happens quickly (like via drowning, or explosively venting your air into space all at once).
    • In "War Stories", Simon is given Mal's severed ear.

Simon: It's a clean cut. [When they get Mal back] I should be able to reattach it. *Beat* Assuming there's a head.

  • The Doctor Who episode "Fear Her" features a young girl whose already creepy drawings (her father appears as an horrific demon with dripping fangs and burning eyes) are taken to a whole new level by some Imported Alien Phlebotinum: they move, scream, wail and even threaten to kill anyone who looks upon them - not to mention that anyone she draws becomes a faceless, screaming scribble for all eternity.
    • "Silence In The Library", as if killer shadows and animated Stripped to the Bone corpses endlessly repeating their last words in confusion from not realizing they're dead aren't creepy enough, has the little girl's psychologist (or that's who he seems to be at first.) He reassures the girl - who already looks creeped out - that her world isn't as real as the monsters in the shadows, and then cryptically tells her that only she can save the cast. She didn't look comforted. At all.
    • Current head writer of Doctor Who Steven Moffat. He has created most of the scariest creatures on Doctor Who. Sleep well.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie sings a song entitled "Nightman", which is heavily laced with Freudian sexuality. He has no idea why this song is so disturbing to his friends.

Charlie: It's about the Nightman coming in and I become him. I become the spirit of the Nightman.
Mac: It sounds like a song where a guy breaks into your house and rapes you.
Charlie: What? No, listen: 'It's just two men sharing the night, it might feel wrong but it's just right.'

    • And then there's The Nightman Cometh...
  • The Swedish Chef of The Muppet Show has a really jolly, somewhat Man Child personality which he maintains especially when trying to kill animals in horrible ways.
    • Notably trying to cut off Robin's legs before Kermit and Scooter realize what's going on (granted the Chef was forced on stage earlier then he was supposed to). Disproportionate Retribution much?
      • Retribution nothing. Frog legs were the meal of the day. Some idiot just pointed him at the wrong frog is all.
    • It doesn't help that the Swedish Chef is the only Muppet with actual human hands.
  • Six Feet Under: Claire can't understand why her cartoon about a girl who can make people's heads explode by looking at them was pulled from the school paper.
  • Mr. Jelly, the unintentionally scary clown on Psychoville.
  • Karen in Outnumbered brings home terrifying pictures which she describes to her parents cheerfully, including the gory details.
  • In an episode of Night Court, Bull enters a story filled with Nightmare Fuel into a children's book contest. He is so horrified to learn that his story actually frightens children that he breaks both his hands in a fit of rage.
  • The title character of Barney and Friends. He's a big, purple, disturbingly cheerful Tyrannosaurus whose cast of kids changes every year.
  • In Little Howards Big Question, one episode has Big Howard attempting to coax Little Howard into sleep using a lullaby his father used to sing to him. In it, he sings the giant mutant bed-bugs won't bite so long as Little Howard stays very, very still, and that the monsters under the bed did once kill a child for going downstairs in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, but that Little Howard should be okay since there's still a quarter of the kid left, and that while Little Howard is sleeping he'll be 'downstairs with a Ouija board, communing with the dead'. Little Howard complains that this is the scariest song he's ever heard, but it's subverted when he falls peacefully asleep anyway.


  • A few of the songs by Tom Lehrer, such as "Who's Next" and "We Will All Go Together When We Go" could make the man come across as a NFSA. He also wrote a lovely lullaby that would fit the trope.

Newspaper Comics

  • The snowmen built by Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes?. His father at one point was wondering about taking him to a shrink...
  • The Far Side had one comic of a boy taking a severed head in a jar to show and tell. Although Larson deliberately made the head look more goofy-looking than gruesome, his editor still rejected it, but you can find it in The Prehistory of the Far Side.
  • Lio, the main character from the comic strip of the same name, is the newspaper comic strip flag carrier for this trope.
  • In one issue of Simpsons Comics, Bart is scared because Sideshow Bob has been released. As he lies awake, Marge comes in to dust the room. The shadow the feather duster makes looks exactly like Bob's head.
  • Gahan Wilson did a one-panel comic of a man painting a picture of horrific nightmare beings, cheerfully telling an anxious onlooker "I paint what I see!" - and this was the title of one of his cartoon collection books.

Tabletop Games

  • Whoever the hell drew the illustrations in the New World of Darkness sourcebook Innocents. Okay, they're supposed to be scary, but this book specifically deals with child characters and the horrors faced there. The images haven't gotten any less disturbing. For a more direct example, the children writing notes found as flavor text throughout the book.
  • In the same vein as Innocents, the indie RPG Little Fears is about children fighting allegorical monsters for fun topics like child abuse, kidnapping, and molestation.
  • The My Imaginary Friend game books are filled with childish journal entries talking about their lovable imaginary monster and how they disemboweled their evil teachers and such.
  • Every single follower of the Chaos God Nurgle in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000. Bloated, rotting, contagion-spewing shambling corpses, they just want to give you a biiiig hug so that you too can know the joy of being blessed by the Lord of Decay. Papa Nurgle loves you~
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, demons in general have twisted views on what is funny or pleasurable, but the demon lord Graz'zt is an odd one even compared to them, as his tastes in decor are often contradictory in appearance. Such as an altar decorated by skulls and bouquets of roses. This might give credence to the theory that he was once a celestial, a devil, or possibly even both.

Video Games

  • Max Payne 2: The crayon drawings seen in Part 1's Prologue, which depict part of the first game's story (Max's wife and baby are killed), are definitely the work of a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant, even if we don't know how anyone else reacts to them.
  • In Bad Mojo, we see a childhood drawing done by protagonist Roger Samms with a note from his teacher attached commenting to the effect that "This boy is clearly disturbed". Said drawing is obviously inspired by Roger's issues with his mother's Death by Childbirth, as it consists of a newborn baby smirking evilly as he stabs his mother to death, and an animated version plays as you approach, accompanied by creepy music.
  • 'The Legend of Zelda examples:
    • Fado from The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. (Uh, this kid. Her name's All There in the Manual. Apparently, no connection to the two later Fados.) When you meet her in the Lost Woods after the Time Skip, she's taken a turn for the creepy. "That guy isn't here anymore. Anybody who comes into the forest will be lost. Everybody will become a Stalfos. Everybody, Stalfos. So, he's not here anymore. Only his saw is left. Hee hee." ... "Heh heh heh. Are you going to be... too? Heh heh!"
    • It's entirely possible that she simply went mad from watching all her childhood friends turn into undead, especially considering that they all are significantly older than they look.
    • Agitha from Twilight Princess loves bugs. She just LOVES THEM SO MUCH.
      • I know you have bugs...
    • In Breath of the Wild, Link meets a woman named Loone at Puffer Beach, who is lovingly caressing the orb he needs to access the Shrine. Loone seems to be turned on by ancient technology, especially Guardians. Which is weird, because Guardians are homicidal robots who hate all life. She is sensible enough not to want to go near them, but will not relinquish the orb until Link brings her photos of three types of Guardian, requiring him to go to do so.
  • The nurse in Xenogears is constantly telling you that she hopes you come back with terrible, life-threatening injuries so she'll have something to do.
  • Bebedora in Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. She's a horribly creepy demonic loli marionette who apparently has no eyes, can 'see' emotions as color and casually talks about Ending The World. Oh, and she can possess people and make them do whatever she feels like doing, whether they want to or not. This page should give you a vague idea of what kind of, uh, person-doll-demon-thing she is.
  • Dead Space: In the Alternate Reality Game No Known Survivors, there's a guy on a research ship receiving mail from his daughter, crude drawings with the repeated singing "Three Happy Spacemen, Three Happy Spacemen". The subject? Her father brutally killing his coworkers, which he does. And in mission 2 of the game proper, there's a nice young woman (unfortunately visually impaired) cradling and talking to her friend, McCoy. She gives you the kinesis module that McCoy had her save for you. Oh, and by the way, McCoy, is a headless, limbless corpse at the time.
  • Fable 2 has the ever pleasant and friendly Chesty, a living treasure chest who just wants to be your very best friend and play games with you. After pulling you into a nightmare and transforming you back into a kid... well... Yeah... Even better is when you can get back into the dream afterwards and open the door that was locked before. There you find what happens to those who stayed his Very Best Friends.... Of course it is still not as pleasant as when you get the invitation to his party. You end up a little late to the party, and VERY glad for it.
    • There are also the banshees who say such wonderful things as 'how do you know if there really even your family?' if you decided to revive your murdered family at the end of the game.
  • Planescape: Torment featured Marta, a cheerful old lady whose job it is to remove the teeth and organs of corpses. Your character, an Immortality with a powerful Healing Factor, can have her remove your internal organs and crack open your skull in search for items hidden by yourself before you were struck with amnesia. Oh, and hey - there's no anaesthesia.
  • The Little Sisters in the BioShock (series) games exhibit traits of the NFSA, referring to the dead bodies they harvest ADAM from as "angels". In the second game, if you have a Little Sister with you when you use an electricity plasmid on a Splicer, she might cry, "Look, Mr. B! She's dancing!"
    • And exclaims in glee about marshmallows when you set them on fire!
      • It is definitely worth noting that all Little Sisters have been tampered with in the perception department, to the point that all of decaying rapture looks like wonderful, golden, shiny places, and for all we know, that's what they actually LOOK like to them: Electrified people burst into merry dance, flaming people are holding marshmallows...
  • Sam And Max Save The World/Season One demonstrates this in Hugh Bliss. Max is enough of an example himself, but if anything, Hugh Bliss is just as bad with his constant cheeriness, his unnatural powers, the fact that he's a colony of germs, and when you use the bug on him in Abe Lincoln Must Die!, guess what? He knew you were listening. People say that him being the villain was unexpected?
    • His cameo in season two in hell, complete with The Exorcist-style head turn, certainly doesn't help things.
  • Persona 4 has Izanami, who gives the Protagonist his powers and is a literal Station Attendant. She could technically be considered one by trope definition as well, because she thought that she was merely giving the humans what they wanted.
  • Speaking of Shin Megami Tensei, there's the recurring demon Alice. She's an adorable little blonde girl... who was raised by two powerful demons, granted massive magical powers, was driven insane by them, and wants you to be her friend. Her cuteness and childlike attitude just make the sadism (torturing the Hare of Inaba in Strange Journey, for example) that much creepier. Plus her Signature Move "Die For Me!" is the most powerful dark-elemental instant death spell in any game she appears in and involves summoning an army of undead.
  • The Medic from Team Fortress 2, as the Mad Scientist and Deadly Doctor, is perhaps the most terrifying motherfucker on the entire team, and that's saying a LOT. Even the Heavy, the towering Soviet brawler who smashes his way through the enemy ranks with a roaring laugh, is commonly put off by the Medic's sinister tendencies. The Medic's take on all this? As far as he knows, he's just practicing medicine.
    • Also, his screams are definitely the most horrifying in the entire game.
  • And let's not forget Revya from Soul Nomad and The World Eaters.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, who could forget Orson's wife Monica? She's been brought back from the dead, but it's Gone Horribly Wrong.

Monica: Darlingdarlingdarlingdarling....

Web Comics

  • Part two of the Halloween special of Brawl in the Family. Dedede complains that the ending to the story is boring, and asks what kind of cuddly conclusion Kirby will come up with. We don't actually see the cheerfully told story, but it makes Waddledee throw up and scares the crap out of Dedede.
    • Sometimes Waluigi thinks. He thinks about the most important things in life. WAAAAAA!
  • Feferi Peixes from Homestuck is could be the poster child for this trope. A cute, bubbly girl who beyond traits that are usual for her species also has fins on her face and a grin comparable to a shark. She's often full of optimism even when the situation doesn't call for it, which is likely because she constantly gets prophetic hints from Eldritch Abomination, one of whom acted as her surrogate mother. And that doesn't even get into her ghostly affairs. Or the fact that she's absolutely terrifying when she's angry.

CC: Because, stupid.
CC: I'M D------EAD!

Hannelore: Do you get the recurring dream where the rapping penis tells you to kill your friends too?

Web Original

  • This puppet
  • In this Dinosaur Comics, T-Rex attempts to write a book for children which combines a cute story with Anvilicious Aesops. The result, however, is a book which reads "Happy Dog loves to play fetch with a boy named Timmy! Timmy is Happy Dog's best friend. Timmy is made of meat. Your whole family is made out of meat".
    • He sold an accompanying T-Shirt with a stick-figure-ish family of Dad, Mom, Son and Daughter with frowns on their faces with the caption "My Whole Family Is Made Of Meat". When I wear mine around, I get looks ranging from bemusement to outright horror.
  • The Homestar Runner Hallowe'en cartoon "Homestarloween Party" features the characters telling a light-hearted campfire story - until Strong Sad's turn, when he suddenly packs the story with all kinds of depressing and disturbing twists:

Strong Sad: And the robot's human brain remembered his children and his stolen life, and he was moved to tears. But the tears shorted out his circuits, and fried his brain, and the robot toppled over, and he crushed his children, and the Goblin, too. And none of them lived.

    • Similarly, in A Folky Tale, Strong Sad's folk hero alter-ego Saddy Dumpington will reveal some horrifying fact ("I just saw a baby chick choke on a worm. They both died!") in a cheery voice, and then add "Isn't that great?", apparently unaware that most people find that sort of thing "miserable and depressing". Saddy ironically becomes Nightmare Retardant when he tries to purposefully depress the local townsfolk by dressing as a "weird snake".
      • But then Strong Sad tells that the townsfolk laughed so hard they fell into a coma for the rest of their lives.
  • The unfocused powers of the eponymous 8-year-old Reality Warper of minus make her practically this trope personified. Among her more disturbing actions are a magic show which features a literal Cut The Lady In Half act, swapping the heads of everyone, and inducing rictus grins in the townsfolk.
  • A great many The Perry Bible Fellowship strips are either about this trope, or done in that style. See for example "Kinder Interview" and "Skeleton Clown".
  • Lie Bot from Achewood invokes this trope at times, most notably in the "What is the saddest thing?" exchanges with Philippe.
  • In Picatrix, Winnie starts getting Love Bubbles... fantasizing about disemboweling her last boyfriend with a rusty spoon. Yeah. A more normal weapon and this might have ended up under a different trope, but seriously...rusty spoon. Love Bubbles. Disembowelment. Squick. Where's the Brain Bleach?
  • Hannelore Ellicott-Chatham from Questionable Content is a somewhat light hearted example of this. It usually comes out while trying to comfort others.
  • Salad Fingers falls quite nicely into this trope, with his childish, almost playful voice, his fetish for rusty objects, his finger puppet "friends", who he routinely talks and sings to, and his tendencies for self-mutilation.
  • Mega 64: Sean. For example, his room contains nothing but a broken alarm clock, a table, two chairs, and an incredibly creepy painting of two clowns.
  • This unique take on Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion smiling has Shinji quite disturbed.
  • In Survival of the Fittest v1, in Cillian Crowe's backstory, as a child he would draw very unpleasant pictures of his imaginary friend Haddy apparently causing a massacre. At another point, his class was working on a play, and on the day of the performance the background ended up covered in stage blood with "I will KILL you" written all over. Needless to say, his adoptive parents were freaked out, enough to abandon him. This did not end well for them.
  • Doug Walker's persona from Ask That Guy With The Glasses.
    • However bad Ask That Guy may be, Bennett the Sage (especially as depicted in the special holiday episode) is tenfold worse. And here's something to consider: in Real Life, Bennett was only twenty years old when the segment was filmed—and there's every indication that he wrote all his own dialogue. Think about that for a moment.
  • The late edarem, a YouTube user, seen in this video (probably his most popular video) lip syncing Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman, was an old man in his 70's who went to jail in the 80's for a sex offender conviction, but was released and seemed to have turned his life around. His videos include his daily life, tips with household chores (including cutting a bagel, brushing a dog, etc), tips with daily life, general oddities, and song lip syncing, among others. He didn't seem like a mean old man, but rather, a very gentle, entertaining and helpful person. However, this didn't not stop him from coming off EXTREMELY CREEPY. He was later sent to jail for violating his parole by simply putting up these videos on YouTube.
  • The Nachzehrer is a strange cross between this and Friendly Neighborhood Vampire.
  • This guy. Who knew a how-to video on making iced tea could be so friggin' creepy?

Western Animation

  • Cheryl, the secretary from Archer:

Cheryl: You seriously don't think that's hot?
Pam: I seriously think you're scary.
Cheryl: No, nononono. Like, a big sweaty fireman carries you out of a burning building, lays you on the sidewalk and you think "OK, he's gonna give me mouth to mouth", but instead, he just starts choking the shit out of you, and the last sensation you feel before you die is that he's squeezing your throat so hard that a big glob of drool slips right off his teeth and -* blurp* - lands right on your popped out eyeball.
Pam: Jesus Christ!
Cheryl: I know, right?
Lana: What the hell?!
Cheryl: I'm wet just thinking about it.

  • Ed from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, whose grip on reality has been severely weakened by a near-constant diet of horror comics and B-movies. His idea for a scam in "It Came From Outer Ed" involves dressing his friends as skeletons and astronauts, making them pass each other pancakes, shouting "Evil Tim has beckoned you all, for you all will pay with your brains!", and then ripping up a stuffed bunny with his teeth. Yet he still considers this a piece of lighthearted fun, even when the curse kicks in and he and his friends are mobbed by angry crows.
    • When regaling his side of the story in "Once Upon An Ed", Ed comes up with an alternately ridiculous and terrifying tale of the Kanker Sisters (the three trailer trash Stalkers With Crushes) hideously mutated by eating radioactive mashed potatoes, who torment Ed and his friends by throwing enormous, sloppy kisses and shooting rays from chickens on their armpits that turn houses into giant hygiene products ("Evil soap! Deodorant!"). And then they can merge their heads together to shoot a giant kiss.

Eddy: Ed, your story's gettin' weird!
Edd: My Ed, what an enchanted world you live in.

    • At the beginning of "Is There an Ed in the House?", he draws a portrait of Rolf... with a monster looming behind him. Ed gleefully explains "Rolf's head is about to be crunched by a four-legged mutant bus driver!"
    • And let's not forget when he dressed up as a space monster in "The Day The Ed Stood Still" (though considering |what the title alludes to, what would you expect?) and got a little too into character... "I am a monster!" The whole thing eventually degenerates into a pastiche of the Alien movies.
    • The Halloween Episode. Ed takes in even more B-movies than usual, which causes him to occasionally see the world as one. This turns a simple trek to a mythical neighborhood that gives out tons of candy into a battle against monsters summoned by witches.
  • Hexidecimal from ReBoot. As a villain, she was an Axe Crazy sociopath with a sick sense of humor, and while she eventually made a Heel Face Turn, the dark humor remained. In fact, the last thing she says to Enzo before her Heroic Sacrifice that saves the entire Net from Daemon's virus is that she always loved kids, but could never eat a whole one.
  • In The Simpsons, Homer makes a young Bart a misshapen clown-shaped bed... which is so horrifying that Bart stays awake constantly, muttering "Can't sleep, clown will eat me".
    • Also on The Simpsons, during the episode in which Bart has his first day of school, he makes a drawing to commemorate the occasion, complete with a stick figure of himself being stabbed with knives and plenty of crayon blood. Homer's reaction?

Homer: (not paying attention) Oh, it's beautiful! Oh, oh, let's put Bart's beautiful drawing up on the fridge!
Marge: Homer, stop. Will you please look at the drawing?
Homer: Oh, all right. What...(looks at drawing)...AAAH!! Burn it! Send it to hell!

    • Then there's the appropriately-named episode "Cape Feare", where the Simpsons go into the Witness Relocation Program and move into a houseboat to protect Bart from Sideshow Bob. When Bart—having been receiving death threats from Sideshow Bob, and understandably a little on-edge and fearful to begin with—tries to go to sleep, Homer bursts in at the most inappropriate time brandishing a knife, yelling, "Bartdoyouwantsomebrowniesbeforeyougotobed!?". Seconds later he comes back in dressed in full Jason Voorhees gear, screaming, "Bartyouwannaseemynewchainsawandhockeymask!?"
  • Occasionally, on Rugrats, Stu Pickles' toy inventions have a tendency to unintentionally creep out the kids of the show. The best example is "Mr. Friend", a creepy-looking robotic clown toy whose flawed design (complete with stuttering, twitching, and occasional sparking) made him seem dangerously out of control. The scene where Tommy and friends decide to fight back against an accidentally activated army of them is perhaps the greatest moment of the show.
    • Similarly, an old Reptar toy (a green dinosaur) was forgotten about in All Grown Up! It freaked the tweens out a lot, considering that it was implied the Reptar was coming back from the dead to torture them for forgetting about it. Uh... they were toddlers? Jeez!
    • The two episodes called "Interview with a Campfire" have strong Friday the 13 th themes (taking place in the woods, near a lake, people going missing, etc.) and most of it is shot using a camera, like The Blair Witch Project.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Something Smells", Patrick tells the story of "The Ugly Barnacle" to SpongeBob to try to cheer him up:

Patrick: Once, there was an ugly barnacle. He was so ugly that everyone died! The end.
SpongeBob: ...That didn't help at all!

Darla: Now, the people they were so bad
That the Lord made the rain come down!
And He washed away their bad cities,
And He washed away their bad towns--
And all of the people drowned! (Chorus: wails)

  • On a Teen Titans episode in which Raven travels with very young kids—an awkward prospect for all of them, as she's potential Nightmare Fuel herself—the oldest of the kids has the power to bring her imaginary friend to life. Invisible at first, "Bobby" is finally revealed to be a giant teddy bear... which sprouts six-inch claws and jagged-line fangs when its maker sics it on the bad guys.
  • A variant of this trope occurs in Futurama when Fry first tries to play the holophoner without the assistance of his internal parasites; while he earnestly tries to portray his feelings, the result is a hellish, poorly-played song about a Frankenstein-esque monster. His rationale for this performance was that he "got nervous and started thinking about neck bolts".
    • This happens to Fry quite a lot. At a holophoner recital, Fry tries to play a tune called "The Grumpy Snail". Things go alright for a while...until the snail spouts fangs and starts foaming at the mouth.

"That snail's TOO grumpy!"

  • A Halloween episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force features a level-headed and soft-spoken onion-spider-creature named "Willie Nelson" who lives in the attic. When the main characters try to make Willie Nelson scary, they fail miserably. It's not until the last part of the episode where you find out that Willie Nelson has been keeping hundreds of dead and mangled bodies in the attic on meat hooks to feed on. Needless to say, all the characters are horrified, but Willie Nelson doesn't understand why they're so freaked out.
    • It's just 'juice' for him.
  • Freaky Fred from Courage the Cowardly Dog.
  • Dr. Barber from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
    • What about Candy Wife?
  • Joe Tabootie from ChalkZone.
  • Princess Luna from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has rather scary tastes. Example? She arrives in a demonic chariot pulled by bat winged, menacing Pegasi and accompanied by Dramatic Thunder and the sky spontaniously darkening. She seems to think this is a perfectly normal way for one to arrive to address her subjects and that turning fake spiders into real, but harmless, ones is a fun thing to do. Her dark gothic figure and echoing bellow of a voice doesn't help whatsoever. This comes in handy when she realizes that sometimes her subjects like being frightened and lets her win them over with some light hearted scares.
  • Nug of The Dreamstone is an in-universe supplier of Fridge Horror, often inadvertantly terrifying Frizz with his unnerving assumptions of the outcomes of some of their schemes.

Frizz: I'm gonna fall!!!
Nug: If you did, you'd probably break every bone in your body...probably.

Real Life

  • A childish outlook on mature issues, such as a stick figure drawing of a bloody massacre? Dig through some of the footage at the Invisible Children project dealing with ex-Child Soldiers from Northern Uganda sometime.
  • The children that were taken out of the Branch Davidian Compound before the horrifying end to the stand-off at Waco were these sort of kids, having been taught "Playground Songs" about bloody revolts and the death of non-believers while dancing in a Ring-around-the-rosie fashion.
    • In the documentary that shows it, the children were seen drawing disturbing scenes, including one child depicting the compound up in flames three days before the actual event. Chilling.
      • What they were singing were actually Old-Time Gospel standards.
        • Similar songs are taught to the children of extremists in some countries, including charming little ditties about how they want to grow up to become suicide bombers. Sung in their sweet little childish voices.
  • After John Wayne Gacy was arrested, he took to painting clowns. Not even of the Monster Clown variety (though the "Skull Clown" paintings...). They're still creepy as hell.
  • Nursery Rhymes. "Rock A'bye Baby" is probably the worst.

Rock a'bye baby
On the tree top
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all...

    • Shel Silverstein addressed the scariness of "Rock A'bye Baby" in this poem.
    • And of course, "It's Raining, It's Pouring", featuring an old man who bumped his head and didn't get up in the morning.
      • Three Blind Mice: The farmer's wife cut off their tails and they're running around in circles.
      • During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 (which killed 10 times as many as WWI) children would skip rope to "I had a little bird/Its name was Enza/I opened the window/And in-flu-enza"
    • Ring around the rosie is not about bubonic plague, as anyone who has had the disease can testify, as the symptoms listed sound more like Spanish Flu or Pneumonia, not that that wouldn't be scary in itself. Still, once it gains a sinister meaning it will remain chilling no matter how innocent.
    • Humpty Dumpty is another horrifying example. People often think of Humpty Dumpty as an egg, but there's absolutely nothing in the rhyme that indicates this. That makes the idea that after his fall, "all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again" all the more sinister.
      • Not necessarily, as it's believed that Humpty Dumpty is about a large cannon, which was mounted on top of a wall in Colchester during the English Civil War. The wall was blown to bits, and the cannon came crashing to the ground. Neither the king's cavalry nor his infantry could put it back together.
    • It has been suggested that Jack and Jill" is about the beheading of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and the second verse was an attempt to make it safe for children. However, the earliest printed versions predate those events.
    • One interpretation of Mary Mary Quite Contrary is that it refers to the torture devices that were used by Mary I (Bloody Mary). "Silver bells" are thumbscrews, "cockleshells" a genital torture device, and the "pretty maids" are the Maiden, also known as the guillotine. However, there's no confirmed evidence of the rhyme dating from Mary's reign, and although there was a guillotine-like device that went by that name- the Scottish Maiden- it wasn't even built when she was alive. The other contender, the little-used Halifax Gibbet, didn't go by the name 'Maiden'. Besides, most of Mary's executions were by burning.
  • A Scary Thing Happened. A coloring book to help children cope with disasters.
  • Tonetta777. Herearesomeexamples
  • L. Frank Baum wrote the Oz books because fairy tales were too scary.
    • On a similar note, Der Struwwelpeter was originally written to be a Christmas present to the children of the author's neighbors and family. One imagines he didn't much like these children, as beyond the horrifying content, it's a book entirely about what children shouldn't do if they don't want a Space Whale Aesop to befall them.
  • Westboro Baptist Church, anyone? Most churches have songs like "This Little Light of Mine" or "Joyful, Joyful". This church? "God Hates The World" and "You're Going to Eat Your Babies"! This may be due to Fred Phelps being nuts...
  • Children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, whether from abuse, war, natural disasters, etc, very often re-enact the trauma in pretend play (this is part of why anatomically correct dolls can be used to test for sexual abuse). A little girl trying to convince a boy her age to let her tie him up and french-kiss him is pretty creepy.
    • the part with the dolls is debatable, there are studies that suggest no correlation, while others do.
      • Considering that the dolls were used by doctors to Mind Rape their young patients in more than one case... Eeep.
  • Neil Gaiman: A very sweet looking, humble and fanboy-ish writer who has written stories that have included, among other things, vaginas eating people and people eating babies. Oh, and he's responsible for an onset of Koumpounophobia through an entire generation.
  • Tom Waits.
  • Shaye Saint John. She's originally came from a film by Eric Fournier, made popular by YouTube (I think so...). Here, have a look at her YouTube channel, MySpace page, and website. Yes, she has a website. May she rest in peace.
  • It could be said that medical doctors either are this from the start, or get to this point. Most of us are at least a little bit squicked by the thought of cutting people open and pulling out their entrails, or seeing the results of a terrible accident or disease, but for them it's just an average day at the office, or a fascinating puzzle.
    • Double that for coroners, forensic scientists, funeral home staff... really pretty much anybody who works with death on a regular basis, especially the horrible and gruesome variety.
    • Dr. G (of Discovery's Dr. G: Medical Examiner) has got to be one of the absolute best for this. She's one of Florida's leading coroners, and she absolutely loves her job. "Oh wow, look at all that pus!"
  • Andrew W.K. wrote a song about a girl he had a crush on when he was 17. It was supposed to be romantic, but it came off... creepy. He actually got a juvenile restraining order for this.
  • Arguably, criminal prosecutors and other law enforcement, especially when dealing with violent crime. They have had to look at many grisly and gruesome crime scene photos, not to mention hear some truly horrifying stories of abuse/violence from victims (including children). One of the key lessons to learn is "don't let it get to you."
  • This sweet young girl happily cuddles and plays with a squirrel killed by the family dog, knowing full well that it's dead...
  • Erik Danielsson of Watain. Watch or read any interview of his. The "wtf?" creeps in when you realize he's not kidding about anything he says.
  • Terry Watkins, fundamentalist preacher of Just read his extremely graphic fearmongering page "The Truth About Hell".
  • A picture of a standing woman smiling. She's surrounded by sitting, depressed people... In a Nazi Death Camp.
  • Contrary to the trope Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films, there are some children who, for whatever reason, have seen so many horror movies (or scenes from such) that they're used to it. It can be pretty disconcerting to be sitting on the couch watching a horror film and then having a young resident of the house who you thought was in bed walk in, sit on the couch, and calmly comment on the action on the screen.
    • Ditto for video games. Between parents who are totally ignorant of games (and thus buy kids whatever they ask for) and those who are totally desensitized to them (and have M rated games kicking around the house) its really common to find kids playing games and invoking this trope. There's something not quite right about 10 year olds playing Bioshock.
    • If you've ever gone up to the attic and got out an old console and its box of games from your own youth on a rainy weekend this can happen very easilly. You know that mario kart and donkey kong are in there, and that's not to terrible, so it'll be fine. Then BAM, you come back and they are playing Silent Hill, and not really reacting to the terror.