Skip To Content
  • OMG badge

The 21 Most Traumatizing Moments From '80s Kids Films

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

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.

3. The first glimpse of the Skeksis in The Dark Crystal.

ITC Entertainment/ Henson Associates / Via

These reptilian bird creatures were nightmare inducing.

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.

5. Stripe's death in Gremlins.

Warner Home Video

This seriously might be one of the most grotesque deaths ever on film.

6. Everything about the Horned King in The Black Cauldron.

Walt Disney Pictures / Via

While Maleficent may be Disney's greatest villain, she certainly isn't the scariest; that honor goes to the Horned King.

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.

8. When the Fratellis try to chop Chunk's hand off in a blender in The Goonies.

Warner Home Video

Seriously, what kid didn't have a deep fear of having their hand cut off by a blender?

9. The scene in The Adventures of Mark Twain where Satan shows the children how easy it is for him to destroy human life.

Magnolia Pictures

Satan's calm, eerie voice only makes the scene that much more disturbing.

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.

Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

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.

12. Large Marge in Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

Warner Bros.

This scene was so unexpected in this otherwise lighthearted film.

13. The death of Littlefoot's mother in The Land Before Time.

Universal Studios / Via

Littlefoot's mother makes the ultimate sacrifice protecting him and Cera from an attack by a Sharptooth.

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.

17. Judge Doom's reveal in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Walt Disney Pictures

If Judge Doom's bulging red eyes weren't enough to scare you, then his accompanying high-pitched banshee squeal probably did.

18. The scene where Mr. Boogedy appears in Mr. Boogedy.

Walt Disney Television

Mr. Boogedy's horrifying face was as scary as anything in a real horror movie.

19. The scenes with the goblins in Labyrinth.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Via

These gruesome monsters managed to out-creep David Bowie and his bulge.

20. Will Halloway watches himself get guillotined in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Walt Disney Pictures

Yes, this happened in a kids film. IN A DISNEY KIDS FILM.

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.

Nostalgia Trip

Take a trip down memory lane that’ll make you feel nostalgia AF

Newsletter signup form