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Villains In Children's Movies Who Are Way Too Scary For Children

Updated March 21, 2021 16.7k votes 2.7k voters 115.8k views15 items

List RulesVote up the movie villains so frightening, they might accidentally scar kids for life.

Most parents wisely shield their young children from horror movies until they're old enough to handle them. Still, plenty of supposed "family friendly" movies feature villains and monsters that are just as terrifying as Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. Most stories require an antagonist of some kind, and children's movies usually soften their villains by giving them redeemable qualities, or just by making them funny.

The villains on this list, however, are pure, unfiltered nightmare fuel. Here are some kids movie villains who were way too scary for kids.

  • Return to Oz is known for being much creepier and weirder than The Wizard of Oz, and the Wheelers are one of the biggest reasons why. The movie is set a few months after the events of its predecessor; nobody believes Dorothy has just gone on a fantastical journey, and her stories prompt Auntie Em to send her to a mental hospital. Dorothy attempts to escape during a lightning storm, passes out, and returns to an Oz that's been destroyed by an evil Nome King.

    Why they're scary: The Wheelers are the Nome King's henchmen, and they have wheels instead of hands and feet. Many of the creatures Dorothy meets in the newly demolished Oz are informed by her fears about the mental hospital, and the Wheelers represent the orderlies who push the hospital gurneys.

    Scariest moment: When Dorothy first meets the Wheelers, she's just discovered that her friends - the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow - have been turned to stone. Before she even has time to process this, the Wheelers come for her. Everything about them is overwhelming, from their squeaky wheels to their grotesque helmets to the way they communicate via shrieking.

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  • The 1985 claymation film The Adventures of Mark Twain is told in several vignettes based on the works of Mark Twain. When Twain becomes disillusioned with society, he boards an airship to fly to Halley's Comet. Three of his iconic characters - Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher - stow away on the airship and later attempt to convince him of humanity's goodness. In one of the vignettes, the children meet a character called The Mysterious Stranger, a creepy figure whose face is a mask, and who reveals himself to be Satan. 

    Why he's scary: Satan's one scene deals with heavy subjects for a children's movie. Satan creates a small kingdom out of clay and populates it with human inhabitants, but the humans' greed quickly causes them to turn on each other. According to Satan, humans are inherently flawed and irredeemable. He then wipes out the kingdom in an earthquake. Tom, Huck, and Becky are understandably disturbed.

    Scariest moment: When Tom objects to Satan terminating his own creations, Satan merely brushes him off. "Never mind them. People are of no value. We could make more sometime," Satan says, as his mask face transforms into a skull.

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  • Before Toy Story brought toys to life, 1987's The Brave Little Toaster did the same for household appliances. The film begins when five appliances - a toaster (Toaster), an electric blanket (Blanky), a lamp (Lampy), a radio (Radio), and a vacuum cleaner (Kirby) - realize that their owner, a boy they call Master, has abandoned them. They set out on a long and arduous journey to find him. One night, Toaster has a dream about his fond memories with Master. But things take a turn. Master's house catches fire, and an evil "Firefighter Clown" shows up. Instead of dousing the fire, the Firefighter Clown dares Toaster to run for his life. Toaster falls into a bathtub and is electrocuted just as he wakes up.

    Why he's scary: He's a clown, and many people find clowns scary. In fact, a study from Chapman University found that 7.8% of Americans have coulrophobia (fear of clowns), making it one of the most common phobias around. And that's just for regular clowns - not the ones who actively mean you harm.

    Scariest moment: The Firefighter Clown only appears in one scene, Toaster's dream sequence, and he only has one line: "Run." He has no impact on the rest of the film's plot, but his one moment is still considered the film's scariest scene.

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  • Set in a world in which cartoon characters and live-action humans live alongside each other - with Toontown existing right alongside Los Angeles circa 1947 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit follows human private eye Eddie Valiant and cartoon rabbit Roger Rabbit. After Roger is framed for a slaying, Eddie and Roger must prove the rabbit's innocence. Opposing them is the sadistic Judge Doom, who's invented a solvent called "The Dip" that can finish off cartoon characters permanently.

    Why he's scary: Cartoon violence is fun to watch because we know the characters aren't in any real danger. No matter what harm befalls a toon, they always bounce back unscathed. Judge Doom, however, completely upends that trope.

    Scariest moment: Tie. Either the moment when Judge Doom sadistically exterminates an adorable, helpless cartoon shoe by dunking it in his cartoon-slaying Dip, or the moment when he survives getting flattened by a steamroller and reveals his true cartoon self, complete with demented eyes and high, squeaky voice.

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