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23 Times Nick Cartoons Got Surprisingly Dark

Updated March 9, 2021 400 votes 35 voters 1k views23 items

List RulesVote up the darkest moments from classic Nick shows.

Nineties Nicktoon viewers are hardened TV veterans. From their living rooms, they took in the action of Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, Ren & Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life, SpongeBob SquarePants, and CatDog. Every once in a while an episode would send a shell into their cushion-lined comfort zone, traumatizing them for years to come.

Hyperbole aside, Nicktoon viewers from both the '90s and '00s can recall many scenes that freaked them out as kids. The good thing about these mortifying moments is that they convert to nostalgia just like the pleasant ones. As adults, we remember them fondly... with a couple of exceptions. These are the Nick episodes that got surprisingly dark. 

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  • 1

    Nosferatu Appears In 'SpongeBob SquarePants'

    Nosferatu, properly known as Count Orlok from the 1922 horror film of the same name, appears in three episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. The first and creepiest of these cameos is in Season 2's "Graveyard Shift," where the vampire flickers the Krusty Krab's lights. His image is taken directly from the 1922 film and lightly animated to perform that action. He ends the scene with a nightmare-inducing smile. 

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    Weirdly dark?
  • 2

    George Liquor Tortures Ren And Stimpy In 'The Ren & Stimpy Show'

    George Liquor is one of the most disturbing cartoon characters of all time. A caricature of a classic militaristic American, George buys Ren and Stimpy from a pet store in "Man's Best Friend" with the intention of "training" them. The training is much closer to torture, as Ren and Stimpy are physically and mentally abused throughout the episode. However, the worst abuse is perpetrated against George after Ren snaps and beats him with an oar. George respects this act of violence because he is a psychopath.   

    This episode is so dark that it was actually banned from airing on Nickelodeon. 

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    Weirdly dark?
  • 3

    "I'm Not Tommy"/"I'm Not Stu" Nightmare In 'Rugrats'

    Rugrats has some extremely freaky scenes. Case in point: the nightmares in the Season 3 episode "In the Dreamtime." The first comes from Chuckie, who looks to Tommy for support but dream-Tommy is not Tommy - as he creepily and joyfully announces. Later in the episode, Chuckie's dad greets who he thinks is Tommy's dad Stu, but not-Stu turns around and announces his identity in the same disturbing way, revealing that Chuckie's dad is having a nightmare too.

    These two scenes are cited by fans as the creepiest in the series.

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  • 4

    Heffer Goes To Heck In 'Rocko's Modern Life'

    Yes, Rocko's Modern Life depicted Hell, which is called "Heck." (The two Ls are painted over by a C and K on the "welcome" sign, pictured above.) Rocko's friend Heffer chokes on chicken bones and gets sent to this PG-rated underworld, complete with a PG-rated Satan named Peaches. Unsurprisingly, his trip is revealed to be a dream - but the episode ends with a couple of incongruities to keep viewers guessing.  

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    Weirdly dark?