Movies/TV shows which traumatized you as a child

I’m talking the films that were marketed for children but turned out to have scenes or themes that terrified you when you were a kid for whatever reason. Or TV shows that were supposed to be okay for kids, at the very least, but included something that scared you.

For me, filmwise, I can name several. The scene in the tunnel from the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka film, when he starts that creepy little sing-song chant and the horrendous imagery is being shown on the wall… absolute cringefest. I still enjoy that film, but that scene remains a hard watch for me, even as an adult.

The Dark Crystal is another; I love the film and always will, but the Skeksis always unnerved me terribly, especially that scene at the beginning of the film where the Emperor dies and literally crumbles to pieces. Also, Aughra, with her removeable eye creeps me right the hell out.

The NeverEnding Story traumatized me in a different way, with Artax sinking into the Swamps of Sadness. That despair you hear in Atreyu’s voice as his beloved horse slowly sinks into the mud never fails to make me sob uncontrollably. Although I will also add that the scene with the creepy wolf-creature, Gmork, scared me some as a kid, so that’s a two-fold movie.

Lastly for movies, I’ll add The Last Unicorn. The Red Bull was TERRIFYING to a young me, plus the Harpy scene… shudders Still love the movie, but… yeah.

As to TV shows, there are a few that had some absolute “WTF” scenes in them over the years, but for me the show that literally traumatized me to the point of needing a nightlight in my room for YEARS after seeing one two-part episode was, believe it or not, Punky Brewster. This was a story where you’re like, “how the eff did network execs approve this to show to kids???” Long story short, Punky and her friends get lost in a cave haunted by a monster who slowly takes her friends away from her and turns them into monsters to terrorize her. I will never know why that particular story ever got made, but it TERRIFIED me.

So… let’s hear it you guys. Did a movie or TV show ever traumatize you as a kid?


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, To this day I still refuse to rewatch it, because of how much the Child Catcher traumatized me


British TV’s public information films. Here’s one of the milder ones, with no fatalities, but with MST3K repeat offender Donald Pleasance doing the voiceover.


As a kid the spider scene in Something Wicked This Way Comes stuck with me for years. Thanks, Disney…


For me the horror comes when you see Atreyu still holding the reins attached to Artax’s bridle that he’s wearing after being pulled in just deep enough to drown. He’s not crying. He’s not pulling on the reins to try to drag him out. Ugh.


I’ve mentioned before that one of my earliest childhood memories is of a nightmare I had. Many, many years later I identified the film that provided the imagery for that nightmare - Invasion Of The Neptune Men. One should never judge as an adult the effect that even a very silly film can have on a child.


My father was a film historian and didn’t really understand what movies were appropriate for kids, so I saw in the theatre:

Videodrome at age 6.

Aliens at age 9.

The Last Temptation of Christ at age 11.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover at age 12.

The last one was especially traumatizing.

I also remember being terrified of The Day After on TV.


There was an animated segment on original, 1970s Zoom (PBS) in which some whole vegetables were put in a garbage disposal. They were cute and friendly, and we got to know them well before someone off-screen flipped the switch and they were all ground up. They shouted and cried as they perished! o_0

Either someone on staff genuinely hated kids, or they thought this would make us want to eat more vegetables. Or they’d been into the brown acid. I mean, it was the Seventies. Anyway…

To this day, the thought of garbage disposals creeps me out. When I signed with a contractor five years ago for our kitchen remodel, there was a preliminary checklist of all the stuff one’s dream kitchen might have… the bank and the house’s overall layout willing. I checked the NO! box next to ‘garbage disposal’ so hard that I think my pen ripped the paper. Heh.


I guess somebody isn’t a big fan of the movie Rolling Thunder! (Seriously, don’t watch it or even think about it).

For me, Snow White. Whichever one has the wicked stepmother.

And I might have caught a glimpse of the movie The Omen somewhere, or perhaps a print ad, which, combined with a child’s illustrated book of ghosts that featured a cyclops large spectral dog…did not care for that.

Something else I saw, maybe a cartoon, that featured animated wolves chasing somebody…yeah, again, night terrors. /* NO: it was some kid’s book with pictures…I don’t know, maybe of Snow White or another Grimms’ Tale. */ However, later on, it did make reading Freud’s The Wolf Man more entertaining!

Not a TV/Movie, but I’m told that upon stumbling across a newspaper article about a child being killed somewhere in India by a tiger, that caused me some problems. I don’t really remember that, though.


Godzilla vs The Smog Monster (aka Godzilla vs Hedora) positively wrecked me as a six year old. I was a huge fan of the big G, but this particular flick messed me up. There’s some really bizarre and nightmarish imagery, at least in the eyes of a little kid. Between Hedorah’s big red eyes, and other oddities like a building collapsing silently, and the monster’s creepy menacing presence, I just couldn’t take it. After watching the movie one evening I went to bed scared. I woke up the next morning and the first thing my mom asks me is if I’m OK. Turns out that during the night I had some sort of night terror. I woke up the whole house screaming about how something was after me. To this day, every time I watch it, I feel a little hint of that dread I felt as a six year old.


“The Secret of NIMH” messed me up as a kid after I watched it at school, but a Dexter’s Lab episode called “Monstory” destroyed me.


Without going into embarrassing detail (for once), I’d add that many advertising mascots on TV were ultra-creepy. I still don’t like the thought of some, though they’re supposed to be fun and nostalgic for people my age. One sounded and looked like a bully who used to terrorize me in the 2nd Grade. Blecchhh!!


Secret of NIMH!! God that movie was so wrong on so many levels. The owl, the old rat telling the story, the imagery of the rats getting injected… so, so wrong.

I do own the movie and enjoy it for the most part, but overall that movie is HARD to watch.


When I was at around 6-8 (the ye olde YouTube days), I was watching the full movie of Disney’s Snow White and the 1992 German version ON YouTube, and the part where the wicked queen gave Snow White a poisoned apple scared me.
And although it’s NOT a tv show/movie, there was this one Japanese commercial I saw that ridiculously scared me: and woman saying how much it hurts to put cream-like medicine on her finger. I know, it’s silly.


Gremlins. The Christmas after that movie came out I got a canopy bed, and my parents had to take the canopy off because I was convinced Gremlins lived on top of it (I was six).
I agree with everyone about the trauma of Neverending Story, but you guys didn’t say the wolf! That thing still scared me as a teenager!


When I was very little, I was scared by Rita Moreno yelling, “HEY YOU GUUUUUUYS!” at the beginning of The Electric Company.


I suppose this is (partially) the standard answer, but the extended scene in The Wizard of Oz that began with the talking trees, led to the Tinman and ended with the Witch on top of a house throwing fire at the Scarecrow creeped me out as a kid. But none of the other scenes (the flying monkeys were cool). I think maybe it was knowing the Witch was stalking them. I had recurring dreams about being chased as a kid, and sometimes still do.


As a kid, I watched a ton of 3-2-1 Contact.

There’s an episode with a segment that shows various things under an electron microscope, revealing all of the neat and weird shapes, details, and textures of things that are too small for our eyes to see. It’s a cool segment but I was absolutely terrified of the portion that had a magnified fly (it was definitely an insect; I vaguely recall it being a fly).

What sorta sealed that deal is that they used this… ominous… music for just that portion. So there’s this totally creepy monster filling the screen with this creepy song playing. My tiny child mind couldn’t handle it.

And, because I watched the repeats for years, I got really, really good at knowing when that episode was on. I actually had to ask my mom to stop whatever she was doing and let me know when that part was over, while I hid in the hallway.

Shut up! It was scary!


I loved that, but for some reason I’ve never understood, the “Love Of Chair” skit gave me nightmares. :thinking: Maybe it was the organ music. (I didn’t really grow up watching soaps. Only Mom’s Mom liked them, and we didn’t see her every day since she was 3 hrs. away by car.)


It’s not really a kids’ show, but my parents must have been watching The Twilight Zone when I was little in the early '60s. In one of the seasons, the opening has various things flying past the camera and one of them is an eye that opens as it’s going by. That really scared me silly.
Even as an adult I avoided watching that opening if I encountered it.