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15 Ways '90s Nickelodeon Scarred Me For Life

Like so many people my age, I spent a huge part of my childhood watching Nickleodeon. This is why I continue to live in fear.

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1. Zeke the Plumber.


Also known as the most terrifying monster ever featured on a children's TV show. I had actual nightmares about Zeke the Plumber, who popped up in one infamous episode of Salute Your Shorts, and I still don't like looking at his picture.

2. The Ghastly Grinner.


Yeah, yeah, Are You Afraid of the Dark? loved to ruin our sleep with ghost girls and scary clowns, but none of those were as horrifying as the Ghastly Grinner. Who knew a comic book character turned real could ruin me for life?

4. "I'm not Tommy."


Straight out of Freud's essay on "the uncanny," the Rugrats episode in which Chuckie has recurring nightmares made me question the thin line between fantasy and reality — not to mention my sanity.

5. Also, Angelica's nightmare.


What the hell, Rugrats. Angelica's dread over her new baby brother forced her parents to take her to a therapist. I think the creepy manbaby she dreamt is what sent me to a psychologist.

8. Alex Mack's evil scientist pursuers.


Good news: you're getting super powers! Bad news: you're going to be hunted down by scientists and government agents who want to dissect your body and study it under a microscope. A healthy fear of authority is one thing, but The Secret World of Alex Mack gave me full-blown paranoia.

9. Catalina's death.


OK, so Catalina doesn't actually die on Space Cases, but it sure seemed like she did. And this was before I could go online for spoilers or casting information — I spent a whole summer mourning her demise.

11. Clarissa's home invasion.


Remember that episode of Clarissa Explains It All where Clarissa and Ferguson are home alone? It turns out the intruders trying to break in are actually their parents, but that doesn't make the lead-up to the reveal any less terrifying. The only scarier episode is the one in which Janet smokes — super unsettling.

14. Ellen questions math.


Scary? Not really. But the "X = Why?" episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete haunted me for years. What if nothing I learned in school mattered? What if there was no method to the madness of algebra? The show had planted in me a seed of existential dread from which I would never fully recover.

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