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Top 10 Kids' Show Concepts That Are Actually Disturbing

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Written by Nathan Sharp These stories may be told in a rather childish way, but they are actually disturbing as hell. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Kids Show Concepts that are Actually Disturbing. For this list, we’ll be looking at various children’s television shows that have truly horrifying concepts.
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These stories may be told in a rather childish way, but they are actually disturbing as hell. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Kids Show Concepts that are Actually Disturbing.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various children’s television shows that have truly horrifying concepts.

#10: Psychedelic Alien Blobs Dance Around
“Boohbah” (2003-05)

Even the title “Boohbah” sounds disturbing and threatening, like an ancient incantation that can raise the dead. In actuality, “Boohbah” is just a nonsense word and the title of this extremely disturbing children’s show from the United Kingdom that aired in the early 2000s. The Boohbahs are terrifying and psychedelic alien creatures, complete with sparkling fur, enormous, unblinking eyes, and retractable necks, who do little else but dance around and direct mysterious noises towards each other. While children may enjoy the colors and music, the rest of us are left in horror as we watch the rituals of this weird alien race.

#9: A Headmaster Hypnotizes and Terrorizes His Schoolchildren
“The Demon Headmaster” (1996-98)

Every child thinks that their headmaster or principal is some kind of evil entity, but that is actually the case in “The Demon Headmaster.” And it is terrifying. This is another show from the United Kingdom, and it concerns a student named Dinah Glass, who does battle with her titular demon headmaster. He has green eyes, manipulates and controls the students, and eventually tries ruling the world by accelerating evolution and building a Hyperbrain. School is supposed to be a sanctuary for children, and the idea of its leader controlling the children and causing them harm is a pretty disturbing concept to imagine, particularly for parents.

#8: Basically, Every Story
“Goosebumps” (1995-98)

The ‘90s were clearly the peak of children’s horror. Not only did “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” air from 1990 to 1996, R.L. Stine terrified us all with “Goosebumps” throughout the mid-to-late decade. And let us tell you, most of these stories were downright disturbing, even for adults. These include a haunted mask that molds to the wearer’s face; a creepy dummy that terrorizes children; a haunted house that needs blood; and a father who is apparently turning into a plant. We’re surprised that the children who watched this show turned out OK, because these are some straight-up scary stories.

7: An Organ-Eating Alien Tries to Enslave the Human Race
“Invader Zim” (2001-2006)

The concept of aliens is equal parts terrifying and wondrous to human beings, particularly kids. But in the case of “Invader Zim,” they are definitely more scary than wonder-inducing. The premise of this unsettling and disturbing show is that an alien named Zim integrates himself into society and attempts to enslave the human race. Zim’s pursuits lead him into doing some extremely nasty things like plucking out the eyes of a child, murdering his classmates, eating human organs, and operating on the brains of children. And to think, this was a cartoon on Nickelodeon!

#6: A Dog and His Family Are Constantly Terrorized by Paranormal Entities
“Courage the Cowardly Dog” (1999-2002)

“Courage the Cowardly Dog” has to be one of the scariest and darkest cartoons of all time. The basic concept of the show is that Courage and his owners, Eustace and Muriel Bagge, are tormented by scary supernatural entities, and the cowardly Courage must do what he can to protect them from danger. The pilot episode shows an alien chicken snapping the necks of other chickens, and it only gets worse from there. These aren’t innocent supernatural stories – these are legitimately scary, disturbing, and disgusting stories filled with some blood-freezing imagery that will undoubtedly stick in your mind. We can’t imagine how children take to it.

#5: Weird Creatures Speak Gibberish and Sport Images of Children on Their Stomachs
“Teletubbies” (1997-2001; 2015-)

What is it with children enjoying these freaky alien shows!? “Teletubbies” has always had a bit of reputation for being creepy. After all, it features strange-looking creatures who speak in alien gibberish and broadcast human children on their stomachs, eat custard, room with an intelligent vacuum cleaner, and live under a sun composed of a human baby’s face. Talk about an acid trip. The show is well-known for its surrealism, and like most surreal fiction, it has a tendency to really get under your skin and creep you out to no end. Artistic? Sure. Disturbing and unsettling? You betcha.

#4: Two Animals with Parents Made of Legs Are Scammed by the Devil
“Cow and Chicken” (1997-99)

While “Cow and Chicken” is often presented as a comedy, its basic premise is quite disturbing, and the episodes are full of dark humor and unnerving surrealism. For one thing, Chicken and Cow have delirious parents whose upper halves are mysteriously absent, so their home lives are none too happy, and more than a little creepy. On top of that, they frequently encounter someone from Hell called the Red Guy (AKA the Devil) who, obviously, does numerous disturbing things, like drag Chicken to the underworld. It’s surreal, it’s dark, and it’s full of eerie scenes. Seriously, what was with the cartoons of the ‘90s?

#3: A Boy and His Dog Live in a Post-Apocalyptic World Filled with Terrifying Beings
“Adventure Time” (2007; 2010-)

“Adventure Time” is very fun, but it is also incredibly dark. The premise of the show is that two best friends, Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, go on adventures in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. While the show is mostly innocent fun, it also features a host of nightmarish villains, including The Lich and Goliad, a creepy baby-sphinx hybrid with mind-control powers. Other monsters include the Earl of Lemongrab (a Frankensteinian creation who is downright horrifying), and mysterious, formless beings covered in teeth, called lub glubs. Needless to say, this post-apocalyptic world, and the monsters inhabiting it, are more than a little spine-chilling.

#2: Two Kids Keep the Grim Reaper as a Slave, Who in Turn Fantasizes About Murdering Them
“The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy” (2000; 2001-08)

“The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy” certainly are grim, as they contain two extremely disturbing and adult themes – slavery and murder. The two children keep the Grim Reaper as their slave and use his powers for their own means. They also use him to gain access to the Underworld, which is filled with suitably unimaginable and nightmarish creatures. Due to his servitude and the kids’ manipulation of him, the Grim Reaper often fantasizes about straight-up murdering the children. The concept itself is particularly disturbing, but the show is also filled with terrible imagery and situations, making this one of the most disturbing kids’ programs.

#1: A Mentally Unstable Dog Commits Horrible Acts of Violence
“The Ren & Stimpy Show” (1991-95)

To this day, “The Ren & Stimpy Show” is known for being one of the darkest and most violent children’s cartoons of all time. The show was infamous for being needlessly brutal, and numerous episodes were censored due to their extreme acts of violence. One episode even saw Ren beat a man so badly that his eyeball pops out. This episode was banned from airing on Nickelodeon and resulted in the firing of series creator and showrunner John Kricfalusi. While the show received critical acclaim, parents despised the content matter, and it quickly gained a negative reputation for being disgusting and inappropriate.
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