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.
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.
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.