10 Darkest Moments In Children's TV Shows & Movies (2023)

Children's shows tend to be happy-go-lucky excuses to escape the everyday world and enjoy some laughs and warm-hearted moments. Unfortunately, real-life sometimes creeps back in the worst ways possible!

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We're going to take a look at 10 of the darkest moments in children's and family TV shows and movies. Some served as cautionary tales, while others might have been the brainchild of demented writers. Either way, they left a dark imprint on their legacy.


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We're not surewhothought it would be a solid idea to cancel TV'sAlfin the semi-final episode, but that's how it went down. Alf leaves the Tanner residence for what should have been new Melmac, but fate had other plans!

Instead of making his way off Earth, Alf is captured by the Alien Task Force. The episode ends with the false promise"to be continued,"which never saw the light of day. Impressionable children everywhere were forced to grow up wondering whether Alf was getting dissected by morally bankrupt government scientists.


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1994'sSpider-Manis arguably the best cartoon version of the franchise ever made. One particular plot arc was so traumatic, however, that we never got over it.

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We're speaking of course, of Mary Jane's "death." After vanishing at the end of Season 3, she mysteriously resurfaces with no recollection of what happened. We learn that this Mary Jane is actually an unstable clone created by scientist Miles Warren, who also created a clone of the original villain Hydro Man. It seems both are unstable duplicates who cannot hold their forms, which forces Spider-Man to watch as the love of his life dies before his very eyes in horrifying fashion. Madame Web would later draft Spider-Man into the Secret Wars plot arc, after which she promises to aid him in finding the real Mary Jane. Sadly, the show got the ax before that happened.Oh, joy.


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Captain Planetreceived notoriety for a scene involving a child dying from a drug overdose, but don't be fooled!Brave Starrdid it first and to better effect. The iconic episode"The Price"showcased a child getting hooked on an illicit drug called Spin, and spiraling into self-destruction.

Theepisode features characters freaking out over bad trips, uncomfortable scenes of withdrawal, and of course, the most shocking scene of all. Brave Starr finds a young boy dead from a drug overdose. What followed was something never before glimpsed on a cartoon show, and it remains one of the most shockingly powerful anti-drug messages ever committed to children's TV.


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Family Mattersis best known for the notorious Steve Urkel, who would single-handedly push the series into the cultural lexicon. The side-splitting storylines were matched by the great cast, creating one of Friday evening's most beloved TGIF comedies.

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Things got ugly in the episode"Fight The Good Fight,"however. During black history month, Laura petitions for a black history class, only to draw out the racists in her school, who proceed to spray paint slurs across her locker, while sending veiled threats. As a heartbroken Laura breaks down in tears, Mother Winslow manages to break through the darkness, giving Laura the sage advice she needs to move forward with her petition. What follows is a demonstration of racial unity and a message of togetherness that brightens an otherwise very uncomfortable episode.


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What the hell were they thinking when they slapped a G-rating on this movie?The Last Unicornis an incredible children's film that dives into very adult territory. It's a movie about hope, but also about sorrow and regret.

And then there's that carnival scene where the Unicorn is set free and proceeds to pay it forward to her fellow caged animals, all of whom are harmless creatures made to look like terrifying beasts of myth and legend. All except one, afrighteningand twisted, three-breasted Harpy with a chilling shriek and some of the most piercingly evil eyes of any movie antagonist. The Harpy soars into a moonlit sky to rain down terror and death on those who caged her, in one of the most alarmingly traumatic scenes ever put into a children's film. Many a youngster would suffer terrible nightmares after witnessing the scene.


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Throughout the course of its rather short running time,Dot and the Kangaroois all about fun and adventure as the titular character meets a wide assortment of colorful and charming creatures residing in the Australian outback. They take shelter in a creepy old cave that was once fabled as home to a terrifying creature known as the Bunyip.

Immediately, the movie shifts into creepy territory, with a haunting musical number detailing the grotesque and terrifying nature of the Bunyip, which is shown only as an animated cave-drawing. Somehow, this makes the entire scene even worse, as you're left to wonder just how scary the real thing might have been!


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The 1986 animatedTransformersfilm was the perfect bridge between the third and fourth seasons of the cartoon TV show and remains one of the most memorable animated 80s epics of all time. Unfortunately, in their quest to make room for a revised toy line, the writers saw fit to kill off a ton of established characters in the process.

The first act of the movie shows several regulars like Ironhide, Wheeljack and Brawn get slaughtered unceremoniously before the franchise's two leads both suffer deaths in order to pave way for new icons. The trend continues right up until the end of the film, where we watch Autobotsscreaming in agony as they slowly dissolve after being dropped in pits of acid. The level at which death is dealt out so freely in this film is astonishing!


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There are a lot of harrowing scenes in the beloved Don Bluth classicThe Secret of N.I.M.H,from vicious sword fights to cruel animal experiments. All of these pale in comparison to Mrs. Brisby visiting the home of the Great Owl. She takes on this terrifying quest with no guarantee she won't end up as his latest meal.

The lead-up to the encounter is spine-chilling, as Brisby must brave the dark interior of the Owl's tree and all of its unpleasant sights. She almost loses her life to a mouse-eating spider, before the Owl crushes it before her very eyes, then reveals himself in equally intimidating fashion!


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The Bearis a classic children's film featuring beautiful cinematography and a timeless tale of a little bear who befriends a large Grizzly. The ending of the film is one of the most uplifting in family cinema, with a strong message about peace over violence.

It's also full of some of the most unsettling nightmare sequences you can imagine! The little bear is plagued with unpleasant dreams of vicious vampire frogs, his mother's death, and what appears to be her corpse rigged up in the worst taxidermy job you've ever seen. The eerie electronic soundtrack only heightens the creepiness of these scenes.


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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Airhad a few powerful scenes during its sitcom run, but none (we repeat,none) were as powerful and emotional as the episode"Papa's Got A Brand New Excuse,"featuring Will's dad returning years after abandoning the family, to reconnect with his son.

In the end, Will's father decides to back out on a deal to go on a road trip together, forcing him to relive his abandonment all over again. What follows is the most stomach-knotting sitcom scene of all time, as Will loses his temper and flies into a pent-up rage over his father's betrayal, only to break down in tears at the end. While most think the scene was based on Smith's real-life experiences, this is not the case, as the actor enjoyed a very good relationship with both his parents. That crying you hear from the live studio audience, however? That was real.

NEXT:The Ritual: 10 Most Terrifying Moments

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