For most of us, a description of our childhoods wouldn’t be complete without the mention of several classic Nickelodeon shows. Rugrats, Doug, Hey Arnold, Are You Afraid Of The Dark? and other 90s Nick programs provided great joy and quality entertainment throughout our younger years.
These shows didn’t merely entertain. They educated on morality and taught vital life lessons. On rare occasion they even horrified us. You can’t deny children’s programming did get quite frightening at times. Granted I myself wasn’t difficult to scare. All you had to do was turn off the lights or make me speak to an elderly person. Don’t allow this embarrassing fact to deter you from the idea that Nickelodeon could be outright petrifying.
In fact I’ll prove to you just how terrifying Nickelodeon was from time to time. The following scenarios constitute Nick’s most spine-chilling moments. Many of these are simply too creepy for kids, unless said kids suffered frequent exposure to dead bodies or their uncle’s ass hair. Regardless of age, these characters and scenes are certain to make your skin crawl.
10 Squid's Day Off (Spongebob)
On the surface, Spongebob and his “friends” are far from frightful. In this particular episode, however, Squidward managed to unnerve the hell out of young audiences.
Cheapskate Mr. Krabs takes the day off from shortchanging his employees and leaves Spongebob in charge. Squid takes the liberty to walk away from flipping burgers and talking down to sea creatures who don’t happen to work in fast food. Evidently he can’t handle the time off.
9 Ren's Toothache (Ren & Stimpy)
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Ren & Stimpy may have been hysterical, but it was incredibly eerie at all times. Most of the time, as a matter of fact. Some truly grotesque images on that program. The nature of the characters in combination with the show’s tense music created some genuinely unsettling children’s entertainment.
8 The Haunted Train (Hey Arnold)
Remember when Arnold’s grandpa encouraged a gang of children to check out the train station that was supposedly haunted by a dead conductor? What a wonderful guy! Grandpa wasn’t lying either. He kept it 100 as always.
7 The Ghastly Grinner (Are You Afraid of the Dark?)
Are You Afraid of the Dark? was without question one of the finest programs Nickelodeon had to offer. A fun watch, certainly, but it also produced some earnestly creepy stories and visuals.
The Ghastly Grinner was one of the most nightmare-fueling characters from the show. GAS BAG Grinner is more like it. The guy’s a total piece of shit. How dare he come out of a comic book and make people vomit blue goo? Last I checked, only my Aunt Mariam who practices witchcraft is permitted to do that. Regardless, he was very unpleasant to look at.
6 "I'm Not Stu." (Rugrats)
Rugrats truly did pack a few hair-raising moments over the many seasons. The most horrifying, without competition, was the scene where Chaz walks into his kitchen to see Stu facing the wall. Stu was Tommy’s purple-haired mess of a father, for those who don’t remember.
5 Old Man Corcoran (Are You Afraid of the Dark?)
More brilliant horror from Are You Afraid of the Dark? This episode revolves around a group of mean kids who dare the new kid in town to spend a night in the cemetery. What could go wrong? It’s there he meets the infamous Old Man Corcoran.
Running into a guy like this shouldn’t come as a surprise when you’re chilling overnight in a graveyard. No pleasant, upstanding citizens are going to be around. Just the ghost of an old geezer.
4 "What Did I Tell Ya, Short Man?" (Hey Arnold)
Although this was just a short clip, it was easily the most disturbing Hey Arnold moment. Many don’t remember this scene, or have rightfully blocked it from their minds. Here’s a friendly reminder of its hair-raising existence.
Arnold and Gerald are working at a flower shop, which is the overall synopsis of the episode. Unfortunately the two have a little fight, and choose to spend some time apart. Arnold has a daydream in which he envisions where him and Gerald will be 50 plus years into the future.
3 The Tale of the Lonely Ghost (Are You Afraid of the Dark?)
Children’s show or not, this is pure horror/thriller greatness. Virtually every element of quality horror is encapsulated in The Tale of the Lonely Ghost.
The mute girl alone is daunting and worthy of waking up in cold sweats. She has the classic stringy black hair and lack of ability to speak that we see in a great deal of Japanese horror films. Blood-curdling, this young lady.
2 The Doll Girl Susan (Are You Afraid of the Dark?)
There’s a plethora of “Scariest Are You Afraid Of The Dark Episodes” articles out there and none of them list The Tale Of The Doll Maker as number one. That’s wrong. It’s a matter of opinion yet somehow incorrect.
1 Zeke the Plumber (Salute Your Shorts)
Picking number one wasn’t a challenge. No frightening moment from early Nickelodeon has stayed with me quite like Zeke The Plumber. I’m sure my words speak for a lot of young 20-somethings.
Zeke’s a sickening man. The guy wears a skin mask and kills kids with a toilet plunger. Need I remind you this was children’s television. Salute Your Shorts was a delightful classic, and a damn-near perfect show. Zeke, however, isn’t even in the same ballpark as delightful.
No description could do the man justice. Both him and the whole scene simply get under your skin. Do yourself a huge favor and watch the clip. The early 90s camera quality almost brings about that “creepier with age” aura. If you’re so inclined, try getting horned up while the clip’s playing. Let me know if you manage. You will have earned my utmost respect.
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