Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay

Why do kids shows want to terrify kids?

This isn't all kids shows, obviously. There's most likely not a lot of murder happening on "Octonauts to the Rescue." However, there is a certain branch of children's television and movies that seems bent on trying to tell mature, focused stories with villains who could fit right in to more "adult" storytelling. After all, kids want to feel adult when they watch something, right? They want to feel like they're watching true evil be defeated.

Reddit user, u/Animeking1108, wanted to know who was perhaps too dark for kids TV when they asked:

What villain in a kid show was surprisingly dark?

You can push the envelope while still maintaining your goofiness. Just because you're a character who can generate laughs in the audience, doesn't mean you can't twist it around into pure panic.

Think About It For More Than A Minute...

"Didn't Gargamel on the Smurfs basically just want to cook and eat them?"


"Or transmute them into gold or something."

"His motivations were unclear at times."


Anyone Else Wonder How That Song Ends?

"Plankton from SpongeBob"

"F is for fire that burns down the whole town. U is for uranium bombs. N is for no survivors when you..."


A Portrayal So Real

"Gaston because we know so many people like him in real life."


Making children uncomfortable is a reaction you not easily accomplished. Your villain should be something a kid fears, but one that also makes them ponder, "Why?"

Resurrection, But For Kids!

"Not so much villains but some of the concepts in Hilda on Netflix are pretty dark and make good horror fantasy for kids. The ones I found most distressing were the wish granting house that trapped Hilda and the Woodman, the antifear amulet (which gets David killed) and resurrecting swamp monster, and the tide mice."

"The books are super good too."


Before Anything, There Were Monsters

"The Lich"


"Ron Perlman was a perfect choice for the character. I was surprised when the Lich sounded more terrifying than he looked"


Those Boots Will Haunt Your Nightmares

"Him from Powerpuff Girls..."


"Him was a fantastic portrayal of a really really f-cked up devil. Yes, they made him a bumbling fool at times (it was a kids show) but holy hell was he jacked up."


"Jesus Christ I can't believe I had to go this far down to find Him. That guy was terrifying."


Finally, there's these scoundrels. Villains who rise to the top of your minds when you think, "Wow, I can't believe I was allowed to watch that as a child."

Warning: Murder is usually involved.

Rolling Along

"Simon Laurent from Infinity Train. He pushed another member of the main cast into the wheels of the train to die a grisly death, gloated about killing that character to her six-year-old child, then tried to kill the protagonist, who had been his best friend since childhood, in the same way"


Nothing More Evil Than A Spoiled Kid

"For anyone old enough - the Care Bears 2 movie. I do not remember much other than the lion care bear. And the blond kid who was absolute pure evil"


"My parents took me to see that when it came out. I was like 4 or 5, IIRC. I was terrified and cried so much we had to leave."


...ew...Burn It With Hellfire...

"Not a show, a movie, but honorable mention goes to:"

"Frollo from the Hunchback of Notredame."

"Man literally allowed his feels for a 16-year-old gipsy girl to burn down a sizeable part of Paris."

"There was no grand plan of terror and evil: it was literally an extremely creepy maniac with too much power on his hands."

"Edit: for people who don't know, she's 16 canonically in Hugo's original novel."


"I Have Some Children I Gotta Make Into Corpses!"

"Bill Cypher was absolutely terrifying. But hey, at least he's dead."

"...he's dead, right?"


"Honestly the whole show was pretty dark:"

"Remember the shapeshifter showing Dipper his death?"

"Or the heads in the mansion bleeding from their eyeballs?"

"Or Big Henry literally f-cking dying just to carry a golf balls?"

"Or the cult that erases memories?"

"Or the bit where Bill turns Dipper into a literal sock puppet?

"I'm probably forgetting some but jesus I loved how dark the show could go."


When Everyone Is Super, No One Is

obligatory "not a tv show but a movie"

"Syndrome from The Incredibles. it always felt a bit higher-stakes to me as a kid even when i didn't fully comprehend what was going on, but when it clicked that he MURDERED so many superheroes just to get back at Mr. Incredible..? holy sh-t!"


No one is saying you shouldn't push confines of storytelling, just because something is made for kids. Odds are, that's what will make your story more memorable in the long run and garner more respect from the audience watching.

After all, you want kids watching, right? Show them what real villainy is.

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Photo by UX Gun on Unsplash

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