10 of the creepiest episodes of kids' TV shows
Normally re-watching old kids' TV shows brings a sense of fond nostalgia, something akin to the warm and fuzzy feeling you have when you think back to those long family holidays playing on the beach and climbing trees with your friends. But they're not the type of memories we're here to reminisce about today. Instead, we're about to remind you of the creepiest episodes of children's TV shows that left you frantically running into your parents' room in the middle of the night, flatly refusing to sleep in your own bed for the next week.
Although many of us remember TV programmes we used to watch as youngsters as being all fun and games, the truth is that there were certain episodes that were so disturbing, they should never have been aired. Prepare to stir up some deeply repressed childhood memories as you join VT in our throwback to the creepiest episodes of kids' TV shows ever.
1. "And Then There Was Shawn," Boy Meets World
If you believed in your heart of hearts that Boy Meets World was a beautiful coming of age story that was all about watching Cory and Topanga's relationship slowly blossom, you'd be sorely mistaken. In fact, Boy Meets World was responsible for one of the most terrifying episodes of kids' TV to date. I'm sure you've blocked it out of your memory but remember the time that the creepy janitor locked the kids in the classroom, blood appeared on the door saying "No one gets out alive", a guy got stabbed with a giant pencil, Mr Feeny was stabbed is the back with scissors, two students were killed by an avalanche of books and Eric almost killed himself? Phew that was a whole lot of trauma! Of course in the end it was revealed to have been all a dream, but still, why Boy Meets World, why?!
2. "Dark Water," Doctor Who
The BBC were forced to respond after the disturbing Doctor Who series 8 episode "Dark Water" became the most complained about episode in ten years, back in 2014. Although Doctor Who often deals with serious themes, the episode in question took the creepy cake by having Clara's boyfriend Danny Pink killed off in the opening minutes and then graphically converted into a Cyberman. But the death wasn't even the shocking part; later in the episode the audience discovers that people can still feel what is happening to their bodies after death - including during cremation! To be fair though, this is far from the first time that Doctor Who has been criticised for scaring kids behind the sofa. Back in 1976 it came under heavy criticism from Christian moral guardian Mary Whitehouse due in part to the violence exhibited in the Tom Baker serial "The Deadly Assassin." And who could forget those creepy Weeping Angels in "Blink?
3. "The Legend of Dratini", Pokémon
A real-life American terror was brought to life in this unsettling Pokémon 1997 episode. Only ever broadcast in Japan, the controversial episode sees Ash and the crew being held at gunpoint after taking a stroll through the Safari Zone, a nature reserve for rare Pokémon. The warden of the Safari Zone threatens to murder Ash and his friends if they break any of the rules of the zone and eventually shoots at another group of kids for standing on top of a sign. In addition, later on Team Rocket captures the old man and the attacked becomes the attackers when they point guns directly at his head. So much for a light-hearted kids' show!
4. "The Sad Story of Henry", Thomas The Tank Engine
When you're a kid, Thomas the Tank Engine seems like an idyllic world of steam trains in the English countryside, and Ringo Starr's soothing voice goes a long way towards reassuring you of that. But then you get older, and the idea of a train with a grey human's face on the front is something that probably turns your stomach. So too will this episode, in which the fan controller decides to slowly brick up Henry the train in an abandoned tunnel as a form of punishment. What the hell were they thinking when they made this?
5. Children Of The Stones
Looking back, it's tough to cherry pick a single most terrifying episode of little-known children's TV show, Children of the Stones. To be honest with you, they were all spine-chilling. In case you're not aware, the 1977 show follows scientist Adam Brake and his son Matthew as they arrive in the sleepy English village of Milbury, only to find it under the grip of weird psychic powers unleashed by the sinister village squire. The villager appear to be in the grip of hypnosis, and call themselves "The Happy Ones". Matthew soon discovers an ancient conspiracy involving the mummified body of a prehistoric man, stone circles with electromagnetic properties, and a black hole in space. Children of the Stones is rightly regarded as one of the freakiest kids' shows ever to exist. Believe me: you'll understand just by listening to the chilling music used in the opening credits.
6. "Night Of The Living Dummy," Goosebumps
I don't know about you, but the moment that Zach's head did a complete 360 degrees at the end of this episode will be stuck in my memory forever. The most well-remembered - and creepiest ever - episode of Goosebumps saw walking and talking ventriloquist dummy, Slappy, cause utter havoc in twin sisters Lindy and Kris's house, eventually attempting to make both girls his slaves. After he almost kills the family dog and taunts the girls beyond belief, he is thankfully thrown under a train at the end of the episode... but this didn't stop him from returning as the main antagonist in the 2015 Goosebumps movie. And, believe me, twenty years later still nothing about this dummy was okay.
7. "One Beer," Tiny Toon Adventures
Tiny Toon Adventures, which followed the next generation of Loony Tunes, was normally a fairly happy-clappy show. Aside from the time that Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck and Hampton J. Pig got drunk, stole a police car and died in a horrible accident. Don't remember watching it? Chances are you probably don't as, unsurprisingly, it was only aired once before getting banned for some reason...
8. "The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost," Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
All kids' in the 1990s were most certainly afraid of the dark after watching "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost". Regarded as the scariest episode of the whole show, it saw a girl agree to spend the night in the haunted house next door to become a part of her snobby cousin's friendship group. The episode hit peak terror when she walked through a mirror to find the words "HELP ME" scrawled across every square inch of space, written by a ghost named Beth who was been trapped in there. Despite the eventual happy ending, all we remember is this spine-chilling part of the episode.
9. "Bad Bad Rubber Piggy," Invader Zim
Invader Zim was always a pretty screwed up show with a sick sense of humour. What else would you expect from creator Jhonen Vasquez, the comic book artist responsible for the demented work "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac"? But this time-travel based episode really takes the cake. It sees alien invader Zim attempting to ruin his nemesis Dib's life by sending toy pigs back in time to gradually ruin his life via strange childhood accidents. However, due to being crippled as a toddler, Dib's scientist father Professor Membrane creates a powered exoskeleton for Dib, who soon attacks Zim seeking revenge. The episode culminates with Zim desperately sending a message back to himself in the past by... look, it's best if you just watch the video below to find out.
10. "Reality Takes A Holiday," Eerie Indiana
Imagine your family going away, only to find that your whole life with them was only a TV show. Every TV-obsessed kid's nightmare came true in "Reality Takes A Holiday" where Marshall checks the mailbox to find a script and then walks into his house to find the people he thought were his family were completely different people merely playing a role. Throw in a murderous finale starring Marshall and you have yourself a thoroughly blood-curdling episode of kids' TV.
So, are you all keen to rush off and rev up the old VCR player to re-watch all of your childhood favourites? I didn't think so. Somehow, even today, these blood-curdling TV classics still inspire unease and terror in our adult minds. And you thought you were all grown-up.