Top 10 Unsettling Cartoon Moments on TV



Top 10 Unsettling Cartoon Moments on TV

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
We can never erase these scenes from our memories. Welcome to and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unsettling Cartoon Moments on TV.

For this list, we're taking a look at haunting and disturbing scenes from animated shows that'll forever stick with us.
Top 10 Unsettling Cartoon Moments on TV

We can never erase these scenes from our memories. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unsettling Cartoon Moments on TV.

For this list, we’re taking a look at haunting and disturbing scenes from animated shows that’ll forever stick with us.

#10: Alone

“SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-)

You ever get that empty feeling inside? This scene sums up that sensation in a nutshell. Upon discovering a time machine, Squidward travels to the future, the past, and… whatever this place is. At first, Squidward is actually relieved to be in this blank world of nothingness, as he can finally have some peace and quiet. He’s slowly overcome with isolation and paranoia, however, as a series of echoing voices repeatedly whisper the word, “alone.” This scene is almost surreal enough to be in a Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch movie. Watching it, you truly feel like the last person on earth with only the voices in your head left to keep you company.

#9: Batman’s Nightmare

“Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-95)

Although he was only a child at the time, Bruce Wayne has always felt responsible for not being able to prevent his parents’ murder. Bruce views their deaths as his greatest failure… that is until he watches his buddy Harvey turn into a two-faced monster. Bruce’s guilt and grief builds up to this unnerving nightmare where the worst moments of his life are all revisited. There’s nothing Batman can do as his mentally unstable friend literally loses balance and falls into a pit of despair from which he can’t return. As if that’s not emotionally scarring enough, Bruce must confront the disappointed looks on his parent’s faces as they ask why he couldn’t save them.

#8: Honey Sugarman’s Lobotomy

“BoJack Horseman” (2014-)

If you wanna know why BoJack Horseman is such a lost soul, look no further than his family history. As horrible as BoJack’s childhood was, his mother’s upbringing was even worse. Distraught over her son’s death, Honey Sugarman gets drunk and puts her daughter Beatrice in harm’s way. Beatrice’s father only sees one way to deal with his wife’s “womanly emotions:” a lobotomy. It’s nothing short of heartbreaking as Beatrice meets the empty shell that was once her lively mother, who tells her young daughter to never love anybody as much as she loved her son. What makes this especially unsettling is that lobotomies weren’t uncommon back in the day, making the situation all-too real.

#7: Frozen Arnold

“The Magic School Bus” (1994-97)

We know what you’re thinking: “How could an educational show like ‘The Magic School Bus’ have anything remotely unsettling in it.” Well, we’re not sure if the creators intended to make our hearts stop, but they succeeded with flying colors here. It’s a fairly straight-forward trip to the solar system for Ms. Frizzle’s class until worrywart Arnold almost kills himself. We’re not kidding. Arnold removes his helmet and his entire head is frozen solid, burning a jaw-dropping image into our fragile minds! Oh, but don’t worry, kids. Arnold’s ailments are nothing that a box of tissues can’t cure. Seriously, though, Arnold would be stone cold dead and the end of this episode even acknowledges that.

#6: Stewie Lets His Psychologist Die

“Family Guy” (1999-2003; 2005-)

Stewie may be an evil, diabolical baby, but he’s also revealed signs of vulnerability over the years. The youngest Griffin lets down his defenses during a psych evaluation, even revealing that his British accent is fake. Stewie ultimately decides that the world must never know the real him. When his psychologist suffers a heart attack, Stewie could easily hand him his medication, but instead cruelly condemns him to death so nobody else will know his secret. While we’ve seen Stewie kill people in the past, Dr. Pritchfield is perhaps the first victim who takes a toll on his conscience. The conflicted expression on Stewie’s face as he tries to sleep that night says it all.

#5: HIM

“The Powerpuff Girls” (1998-2005)

Given its comical, colorful exterior, you wouldn’t expect “The Powerpuff Girls” to have a legitimately intimidating antagonist. While he’s every bit as flamboyant as the other villains on the show, HIM is the only one who truly strikes dread into the viewer. We’re given goosebumps from the second HIM appears onscreen for the first time with the camera slowly zooming in on his ghastly smile. While HIM’s appearance alone is enough to make us uncomfortable, this King of Darkness ups the creep factor whenever he opens his mouth. HIM’s presence is only made more unsettling since we don’t entirely know what he is, although he’s clearly the closest thing this world has to the Devil.

#4: The Puppetmaster

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-08)

If the idea of possession makes you uneasy, this episode is guaranteed to have your skin crawling. Upon befriending a seemingly kindly waterbender named Hama, Katara learns that her new mentor has been exacting revenge against the Fire Nation through an inhumane technique known as bloodbending. Whenever Hama physically manipulates another human being, you can practically feel their insides being twisted around. It’s straight-up distressing. In addition to getting under Katara’s skin, Hama manages to get inside her head, as she forces her young protégé to practice bloodbending in order to save her friends. With the essence of a horror movie, the experience leaves Katara and the audience completely distraught with no happy endings.

#3: You Are Alone Child

“Adventure Time” (2010-)

The Lich’s hellish design is perfectly complemented by Ron Perlman’s sinister voiceover performance, making for the most formidable foe ever to face Finn the Human. The undead villain nearly succeeds in offing our heroes in this episode, engulfing them in darkness. As the Lich makes his way towards the helpless Finn, he delivers a spine-tingling monologue about his desire to eradicate the universe of all life. Each word that comes out of the Lich’s mouth feels like a snake slivering into one’s ears. It’s as if we’re encountering death incarnate. Of course, since the Lich represents death, Finn finds that the only way to defeat him is with life.

#2: The Boogieman

“The Real Ghostbusters” (1986-91)

“Ghostbusters” has always been a macabre franchise, but this scene from the animated series is arguably more disturbing than anything in the live-action movies. The show didn’t disappoint with its portrayal of the Boogieman, who looks like the Joker with an enlarged head and sharper teeth. Anybody who grew up during this era will never forget the moment where the Boogieman emerges from a closet and stares Egon in the eyes. Egon recognizes this supernatural creature from his childhood and – even more unsettling – the Boogieman remembers Egon as well. The whole scene feels like being reunited with a tormentor from your past who you thought was dead and buried, but is still very much alive.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Steven Universe” (2013-)

Take Care of Lulu
“Samurai Jack” (2001-04; 2017-)

Eat Your Mattress

“Ed, Edd n Eddy” (1999-2009)

#1: Rick & Morty Die

“Rick and Morty” (2013-)

How many shows can you think of where the world ends by episode 6? Fortunately for Rick and Morty, they’re able to escape from the Cronenberg-infested world and resume life in an alternate reality where their counterparts recently died. For Rick, digging a grave for his alternate self is another day at the office. Morty, however, is completely mortified as he not only looks over his mangled corpse, but also comes to terms with the fact that he’s abandoned almost everyone he loves and traded them in for an identical set. While things soon go back to normal – or at least normal by this show’s standards – the experience will haunt Morty until he dies.