When things that should be harmless, or on the viewer's side, turn nasty, stripping away all sense of safety. THEY CAN SEE YOU. THEY KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!
How can a viewer sleep easy in their bed, when they've seen how toys can come alive when all is dark and wreak unspeakable vengeance? What trust can they have that anyone will protect them, when they've just seen some cheerful kid's program where a kid just like them was bloodily slaughtered by his own possessed mother as she sang a sweet lullaby?
To clarify, paranoia, by definition, requires a level of suspicion and distrust. A monster chasing after you in broad daylight is probably not Paranoia Fuel, but a shape shifting murderer targeting you who may be hiding among your friends or family or the clothes in your closet most likely is. A good rule of thumb is if a show or commercial makes you double check the people or objects around you (or triple check, or quadruple check, or...) then it fits here.
Other paranoia-inducing concepts include:
- Invasion of privacy (from Big Brother Is Watching to literal Telepathy): One of the most pervasive forms of Paranoia Fuel, since we basically know they can use our secrets against us (Blackmail, Room 101, etc).
- Hypochondria Fuel: playing on fear of diseases, parasites, medical Body Horror and the fragility of human biology in general. Do you know easy it is to infect you on the microscopic level without you yourself noticing? Or how easy it is for one genetic disorder that can make you go And I Must Scream to suddenly go horribly wrong inside you?
- Slipping a Mickey/Tampering with Food and Drink: Do you know how easy it is to poison you? Goes hand in hand with Hypochondria Fuel above.
- Attack of the Killer Whatever/Everything Trying to Kill You/May Contain Evil: betrayal by everyday items.
- Malevolent Toys: a subtrope of the above, specifically for toys.
- Gaslighting is when someone tries to deliberately provoke a feeling of this upon you by altering your everyday environment without your knowledge.
- Fate Worse Than Death or And I Must Scream: You can suffer one of them anytime, anywhere.
- Good Luck Sleeping: things that attack specifically while you're sleeping.
- They Could Be Anyone: Anybody could be out to get you, even your friends and/or family
- Invisible Jerkass: They're everywhere.
- Sinister Conspiracy: there is a... well, sinister conspiracy at work in the world, and they have it in for you.
- Mind Manipulation: Especially if they control your loved ones, or worse, controlled you, made you do humiliating things and then subjected you to Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Sure that sound could have just been the neighbor's cat, but then again...
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You
Fear of the dark is related, but falls under Primal Fears.
Through the Eyes of Madness tends to run on this fuel, as part of the nature of the story is that you're never entirely sure of the truth of things.
Not directly related to the game Paranoia. Or, at least, that's what they want you to think.
- Anime and Manga
- Comic Books
- Live Action TV
- Oral Tradition
- Religion and Mythology
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Watch Dogs
- Web Comics
- Web Original
- Western Animation
... Sleep tight.