Animorphs is one of those series that probably would have faded into obscurity were it not for its intense commitment to leaning as hard into darkness as possible. This isn't the happy, everything's-okay-in-the-end world of many other popular YA series. There are a lot of weird things you forgot about Animorphs , and no, the fact that one of the main characters is permanently trapped as a red-tailed hawk isn't one of them. Amongst all the teen drama and thermal riding, there are some seriously dark moments in Animorphs . That wild streak, as much as nostalgia and genuine heart, is part of the reason fans are still talking about the series today.
Animorphs wasn't afraid to take itself pretty seriously for a book about teens transforming into animals to stop alien invaders. That's precisely why there are so many messed up moments from the Animorphs series: it was fully locked into its reality, meaning all the gross parts, the frightening scenarios, and the tragedy are presented with honesty. These books are as emotional as they are absolutely bonkers, all because author K. A. Applegate committed to a premise that could have easily been silly.
Sometimes Morphing Makes You Want To Eat Your Friends
K. A. Applegate has a gift for turning a power as cool as morphing into something terrifying. In The Test, Tobias and Ax morph into Taxxons, centipede-like creatures known for their intense hunger. While morphed, Tobias can't help but think of devouring each one of his friends in graphic detail. It's only thinking of his crush Rachel that stops him, and even that only gives him enough time to turn his attention to devouring dirt instead of his fellow humans.Is this messed up?
Morphing Is Incredibly Disgusting
Animorphs doesn't shy away from the gory details, especially when the team is morphing. While pretty much every morph looks disgusting during the process of transforming, the lobster is a whole new level of terror. Admittedly, lobsters aren't the cutest animals to begin with, but the details K. A. Applegate uses to describe the kids shifting in The Predator are particularly horrific:
"His arms had begun to split open and swell... His eyes were gone, replaced by little black BBs... Jake's face seemed to open up, to split open into a complex mess of valves. I think I would have thrown up, seeing that. Except that I, also, no longer had a mouth."Is this messed up?
The Alternative Universes Are Even Worse
The world of Animorphs is cold and cruel, and it's hard to imagine this band of teens could go through anything worse. But readers don't have to imagine that: the alternate universes the Animorphs end up in are arguably worse than the one they truly occupy.
The darkest is in Megamorphs #3: Elfangor's Secret. Jake's a neo-Nazi, Cassie owns slaves, and Rachel's trapped in a re-education camp. But that's not all. The Animorphs readers know have to stop this horrible universe from occurring, and in the process Jake is shot in the head and dies in front of everybody, which, because of a prophecy, makes the rest of them immortal.Is this messed up?
Sometimes People Just Give Up Fighting The Yeerks
Animorphs is a series about fighting, so some of its darkest moments are when people just give up. When the Animorphs first enter a Yeerk pool in The Invasion, it's an overwhelming experience. They're trying to save Cassie, avoid Jake's brother, and keep from becoming controllers themselves. But in the midst of all this, they see the humans who are waiting for their Yeerks to finish feeding. Some are screaming and pleading, others are simply crying, while still others are quiet, just waiting for their Yeerk to return. It's not that all those people were in league with the Yeerks, but rather that they've given up hope entirely; they have no sense of autonomy anymore after spending enough time in the control of the aliens, so they've entirely surrendered. It's a terrible thing to imagine that anybody would eventually reach the point where they no longer feel in control of their own life.Is this messed up?