Imagination is a key component of a child’s development, and therefore a major focal point of children’s programming. You can count on shows and movies aimed toward kids to be colorful and creative, but they aren’t always heartwarming and happy. Sometimes they are downright terrifying. Growing up, you couldn’t have convinced me that The Garbage Pail Kids Movie wasn’t actually a horror movie in disguise; the live-action take on the characters were the stuff of nightmares. Sometimes the grownups behind kids programming miss the mark entirely. For every warm, fuzzy character like the Muppets, there can be a character so creepy it’s enough to induce childhood trauma. These 5 kid shows from across the globe were so disturbing they’ll terrify even adults:
The minds behind Thunderbirds brought this less serious puppet-filled sci-fi show about an organization whose mission is to defend the planet from alien invasion. For once it wasn’t the human protagonists that were terrifying, but the unnerving villains. The main villain, Zelda, was nightmare fuel on her own, but even she didn’t stand a chance compared to MOID. The Master of Infinite Disguise was an alien that looked like he might have been related to Skeletor. While that sounds cool, this puppet was anything but.
Leave it to YouTube to dredge up a buried direct-to-video children’s show from the late ‘80s. You know what they say, misery loves company. Now new generations can discover the terrifying part human part puppet characters that featured in this Sesame Street type educational series aimed at kids. Peppermint Park demonstrated why it’s a very tricky thing to feature human-like puppets. They’re creepy.
In case you thought all terrifying kids shows were a thing of decades past, I present you with this creepy Canadian kid show from 2003. Conceptually, it was a historical series about the First Nations families living in a cottage and focused on teaching family values and First Nations culture. The only problem is that the designs of these puppets were downright scary. Realistic features in cartoonish disproportion is not a good look if you want to not induce terror.
This character first appeared on the Brazilian kids show Magic Balloon in the early ‘80sm and was so popular that he became one of the biggest Brazilian icons of the decade, earning his own solo show and toy line. The character’s creator, Orival Pessini, drew inspiration from Steven Spielberg’s E.T., specifically how the character was fairly ugly but with a big heart. Clearly, he succeeded. Though, he also looks as though he might have inspired Good Guy doll fashion. Toward the end of the ‘80s an urban legend spread about Fafao’s plush toy, claiming that the doll had a knife hidden in its body. In a terrifying twist, a sharp, hard piece of plastic was confirmed to be inside as a placeholder spine. Not a knife, but still. Fafao is scary.
Donkey, Morso, and Mouru
This Finnish kid show ran from 1999-2001 and wouldn’t have made this list at all if not for one character: Morso. Based on a children’s book, the story tells of Donkey overcoming his fear of Morso with the help of his friend Mouru. It’s easy to see why Donkey was scared of Morso, the strung-out sheep puppet thing is bed wetting scary. It didn’t help that Morso had a tendency to pop up from behind fences or peer in windows like a creeper.