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The 21 Most Traumatizing Moments From '80s Kids Films

The No. 1 rule of '80s children's movies: Scar kids for life.

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1. The White Queen's transformation in Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Irwin Allen Productions /Columbia Pictures Television

This trippy TV movie, based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books, took a creepy and unexpected turn when the batty White Queen (Carol Channing) pricks her finger on her broach, prompting a concerned Alice to ask her if she's OK. The White Queen answers in a disturbing, mumbling voice, "Betttter, much vettttter," before morphing into a sheep.

2. The leech scene in Stand by Me.

Columbia Pictures

OK, so this wasn't a kid's movie — it was rated R, after all — but its sweet coming-of-age theme made it a staple for many '80s kids. This scene in the swamp, where Gordie finds a leech in his underpants, was every boy's nightmare.

4. Sykes' death on the Brooklyn Bridge in Oliver & Company.

Walt Disney Pictures

Not only was his death extremely violent — especially for a Disney film— but, because of the film's modern-day setting, also completely plausible.


7. The scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Mola Ram sacrifices his victim by ripping out his still-beating heart.

Paramount Pictures

Worse yet, his victim continued to live as he was lowered into molten lava.


10. Optimus Prime’s death in Transformers: The Movie.


The movie that taught '80s kids everywhere that even heroes can die. Plus he left with some heavy final words: "Until that day...till all are one..." *tears*

11. The scene in Return to Oz where a headless Princess Mombi chases after Dorothy.

OK, this entire movie is traumatizing, from Dorothy being taken to asylum, to the creepy Wheelers (oh god, those Wheelers!). But the scene that probably made you piss in your pants is when Dorothy accidentally awakens a headless sleeping Mombi while trying to retrieve her Powder Life. And, to add to the horror of it all, Mombi's collection of heads start screaming in unison.


14. E.T. dying in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Universal Pictures

Everything leading up to this scene is traumatizing, from E.T.'s sickly body being discovered facedown in the river, to Elliott and E.T. lying together dying on the bathroom floor, to the government raid on the house. But the scene that really left an impression on us: seeing E.T. flatline as Elliott screams out to him. Just heartbreaking.

15. The scene where Artax drowns in the Swamps of Sadness in The NeverEnding Story

Warner Bros.

Yes the scenes with the Gmork were scary as fuck, but this scene stands out not only for being deeply traumatic, but also extremely depressing.

16. When Big Bird is kidnapped by the Sleaze Brothers and forced to sing songs as a sideshow act at their carnival in Follow that Bird.

Warner Home Video

Nothing destroyed precious childhood memories more than seeing this beloved character locked up and forced to sing a depressing song while a tear streams down his face.


21. The clown doll scene in the Poltergeist.

Warner Home Video

So this isn't a kids film, but it was rated PG (this was before the PG-13 rating was created) and it was shown almost non-stop on HBO, making very likely that kids caught multiple viewings of it.

While the whole film is creepy, this traumatic scene stands out of above all. Just a friendly reminder that, yes, there is something under your bed.