Why is our generation so messed up? Look no further than the terrifying screen characters we grew up on. As you can see from our scariest kids' TV characters list, there were a lot of people who were out to give us nightmares.
Whether it was a character from a big-screen adventure (Disney, you have a lot to answer for) or a small-screen villain that we had to look at from behind a pillow, these are the most frightening children's TV characters of all time.
Remember: give the one you hated the most a big fat upvote.
Scariest characters from your childhood
1. Pennywise - It (1990)
Clowns are frightening enough. Clowns that are homicidal shape-shifting demons go right off the scale. But the presence of a ‘children’s entertainer’ meant many of us were lured into watching, only to regret it. For many years. The recent-ish films brought another petrifying Pennywise to the world - this is one nightmare that will never end
2. Eva Ernst - The Witches (1990)
The worst thing about Eva Ernst was that she looked like your mum – then she removed her mum face to reveal a hideous creature with a head like a giant baby bird. She also wanted all children dead. Not an association you want with your mum.
3. The Child Catcher - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
To juxtapose Dick Van Dyke singing jolly songs with a man employed by royalty to capture and imprison children is like selling candy floss at a public execution.
4. General Woundwort - Watership Down (1978)
Talking cartoon animals are usually cute and funny. This enormous, one-eyed and decidedly not cute or funny bunny was the anti-Bugs – the kind of rabbit who ate your face in childhood nightmares.
5. Noseybonk - Jigsaw (1979-84)
Jigsaw was apparantly an educational programme, but what were we supposed to learn from a man dressed as an orchestra conductor who wore a mask that most satanists would view as going a bit too far? Even after years of therapy, most still don’t know.
6. Zelda - Terrahawks (1983-86)
Zelda is frightening character and one with immense power, given she possesses her own spaceship and army of androids. Zelda had a face like a sun-dried kipper and a voice that sounded like th death throes of a weasel.
7. Coraline's Other Mum - Coraline (2009)
If those dead button eyes weren't bad enough, she shape shifts and likes to imprison souls. While most of the fear comes from Neil Gaiman's fevered mind, Laika Studios did a wonderful/horrific job of bringing her to the big screen.
8. Ringwraiths - LOTR (2001)
The Ringwraiths chase in LOTR is one of the most terrifying scenes in a trilogy of movies that i packed with terrifying scenes. Director Peter Jackson shifts seamlessly back into horror territory to showcase the Dark Riders looking for both the hobbits and the ring in their possession.
9. Skeksis - The Dark Crystal (1982)
Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets and heralded as a children’s entertainment god, is responsible for possibly the most grotesque creature on this entire list. Imagine The Muppets' Sam The Eagle possessed by demons and caught up in a horrific house fire.
10. Mombi - Return To Oz (1985)
Mention Return To Oz and most people think of the ‘Wheelers’, crack addicts cast in Starlight Express. Far scarier was Mombi, a kind of super Gummidge with interchangeable heads, which she happily swapped in front of us.
11. The Groke - The Moomins (1983)
This near-silent creature glided along, freezing the ground below her. Apparently, she was a representation of the loneliness and depression of Scandinavian winters which, frankly, is a really messed-up thing to puton before Blue Peter.
12. The Coachman - Pinocchio (1940)
Disney’s most disturbing villain is a child-snaring ball of a man who lured his catch with the promise of beer, only to turn them into donkeys he used to pull his coach.
13. Stripe - Gremlins (1984)
Looking back at the gremlins, they seem like amusingly psychopathic creatures. When we were kids, they seemed like psychopathic creatures that could actually exist and capable of turning up in your house at night to terrorise you in bed, led by the Charles Manson-meets-Yoda, Stripe.
14. Worzel Gummidge - Worzel Gummidge (1979-1981)
A scarecrow that not only came to life but would change his head. Walks in the countryside were no longer an option for an entire generation. The new version of the show isn't quite the nightmare of the original which is a huge relief
15. Vigo The Carpathian - Ghostbusters II (1989)
That sensation of a portrait’s eyes following you around? After watching Ghostbusters II, you didn’t shrug it off. You knew pictures could easily be holding the evil spirits of tyrants. And part of you probably still does.
16. Darth Vader - Star Wars (1977-present)
As scary as baddies come, you knew that when Darth Vader turned up, no nice things were going to happen. When he revealed he was Luke Skywalker’s father in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, part of you was urging Luke to join him because, frankly, under duress, that’s what you would have done. And now he is back in Obi-Wan Kenobi, he's just as terrifying - ready for a whole new wave of kids to be scared of him.
17. Tripods - Tripods (1984)
War Of The Worlds for kids, this mid-Eighties BBC show played in the UK but never ran its full course, possibly because it was too chilling – or possibly because, through the eyes of an adult, it was too kinky, with Earth’s skimpily-dressed population enslaved in a sub-dom scenario.
18. Abner Brown - The Box Of Delights (1984)
Another UK classic that the world needs to seek out: Despite the Eighties BBC special effects, magical adventure series The Box Of Delights was petrifying – with Abner Brown the scariest part. Not only was this cold-hearted villain a wolf, he turned into a vicar, someone kids trust.
19. Davros - Doctor Who (1975-Present)
So, here you have it: the greatest childhood horror in screen history. Resembling a roast chestnut in a military-spec mobility scooter, Davros, the creator of the Daleks and planner of universal domination, was physically repulsive, but without a ‘great personality’ to compensate. In fact, he had no redeeming features whatsoever, and made the space behind the sofa a very crowded part of the nation’s living rooms.
20. Lord Voldemort - Harry Potter franchise (2001)
He should look ridiculous with his nose-less face but Ralph Fiennes adds a horrible, compelling edge to Harry Potter's main protagonist. While the books are kid-friendly on the whole, this incarnation of the villain would have given plenty of younglings a nightmare or two.
- These are the scariest kids' TV shows of all time.