Most Uncomfortable Horror Scenes Ever Aired On TV

When you sit down to watch something in primetime, you don't usually expect to get the living crap scared out of you. But over the years, there have been some incredibly effective horror scenes on a variety of TV shows. To give yourself a good spook, turn off the lights and try to sit through all of these incredibly uncomfortable TV horror scenes...if you dare.

AHS: Freak Show - Twisty the Clown (2014)

American Horror Story has included a lot of horrific scenes over the years, but one that stands out as its creepiest is Twisty the Clown's picnic murder. The idea that clowns are scary isn't anything new, but even the biggest clown fan will be freaked out after seeing Twisty.

The scene begins on a beautifully sunny day in 1950s Florida. (If you know anything about American Horror Story, you know this idyllic moment won't last long.) After a moment, Twisty appears, his filthy costumes in tatters on his body, his hair spiked in demonic horns, and his terrifyingly huge smile plastered on his face. He walks up to a girl and bows in front of her. "Oh, he just wants to do a show, the poor thing," you might think if you've never seen a Ryan Murphy program. Sadly, Twisty's wants are far bloodier.

The LBJ Campaign ad (1964)

Every four years, it seems like political campaigns get uglier—but the scariest ad of all aired all the way back it in 1964. If the idea of being frightened by a presidential campaign ad seems silly to you, then you've never seen "Daisy."

As the commercial opens, a little girl is counting while picking petals off a daisy. The camera freezes on her while we hear a military countdown and then see a huge nuclear explosion. Over the blast, President Johnson's voice is heard: "These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other. Or we must die." "Vote for President Johnson on November 3" appears silently over a black screen.

The ad only aired once, but that's all they needed. If your President is telling you a cute little girl is about to be killed by a nuclear blast if you don't vote for him, you'll remember it. If you add the fact that most commercials at the time were light-hearted testimonials for Jell-O or artificial juice, this ad is even more striking. Next time you complain about seeing too many negative campaign ads, be grateful they don't all end with a nuclear holocaust.

Tales from the Crypt - And All Through the House (1989)

Tales from the Crypt wasn't known for showing a lot of happy-go-lucky episodes, but one tale in particular proved especially uncomfortable. After murdering her husband on Christmas Eve, a woman hears an insane man dressed as Santa is on the loose. Instead of locking her doors and dealing with her husband's corpse later, she goes out into the snow to hide the hubby's body, where she makes her first encounter with insane Santa. She's too scared to call the cops since she's a murderer herself—and things get really creepy when she sees the Santa sneak into her little girl's room.

The mother races to her daughter's room, finding it empty, and careens down the stairs only to see her little girl happily standing in the living room...holding Santa's hand. Not something you want to watch with the family over the holidays.

Tales from the Darkside - Hush (1988)

Tales from the Darkside doesn't get the same love as other anthology horror programs of the past. Sure, the clothes are very '80s and the special effects were lacking, but if you can get past that, it has some pretty spooky moments, and one in particular comes from the episode "Hush."

A little boy invents a machine (that looks a lot like a vacuum) that can silence anything. Sounds fun, right? Well, like all technology in horror shows, it goes terribly awry. The machine silences anything around it, including a dog and...the little boy's mom.

When mothers and dogs don't make it out alive, you know you've got a pretty scary show on your hands. Plus, the mom's death is shown in its entirety onscreen. Sure, an actress holding a vacuum hose to her mouth and wrestling around on the ground isn't the scariest thing, but having a teen babysitter helplessly watch her employer die while she tries to figure out a way to save the boy and herself is pretty frightening.

Ray Bradbury Theater - The Lake (1989)

Ray Bradbury was never one to scare with you out-and-out horror. There aren't any slashers or jump scares in his tales, but there's an undeniable semi-realistic creepiness—and "The Lake," from Ray Bradbury Theater, is one of the creepiest of all. It starts with a boy, Doug, visiting a lake in the summer and getting his first crush on a little girl named Tally. Doug and Tally make sandcastles on the beach and she tries to get him to swim, but he's too scared. On the last day of summer, Tally goes into the water as usual, but doesn't come out. A lifeguard dives into the lake and Doug destroys half of his sandcastle, hoping it'll somehow make her come back, but Tally's body is never found.

Years later, Doug returns to the lake with his fiancée and sees the half-ruined sandcastle, sitting on the beach exactly as it was years before. He hurriedly finishes the castle...and as he does, a fisherman rows to shore with the body of the dead girl wrapped in a tarp. Though the whole episode moves between sweet and sad, the ending is just uncomfortable horror.

Dexter - The Getaway (2009)

Dexter was filled with horrific moments and by the end of season four, the audience probably thought they'd seen the worst of them—but the show had a terrible surprise for the season finale. All season, Dexter, the serial killer who only kills serial killers, is stalking the Trinity Killer (played perfectly by John Lithgow). During "The Getaway," Dexter finally captures the Trinity Killer and kills him himself. After such a long chase, Dexter is pleased for it to be over and he happily returns home to his wife and child—but Trinity got there first. Dexter opens his door to see his baby boy covered in his mother's blood.

It's never nice to see a blood-covered baby, but it's even scarier because it's such a surprise, and it's all the more heartbreaking to know Dexter's child now has the same traumatic past that made him a murderer in the first place. Who knew a show about a serial killer killing serial killers could get so dark?

The Twilight Zone - Little Girl Lost (1962)

The Twilight Zone dealt with all kinds of futuristic horrors and monsters stalking planes, but one of the most uncomfortable episodes was "Little Girl Lost."

A little girl is playing in her room when she calls out for her parents. Her parents go into her room but can't find her anywhere, even though they can hear her and she can hear them. The idea that your child is in danger but there's nothing you can do—and yet you continue to hear her crying out for help—is horrifying. There's a supernatural aspect to the episode, but the simple terror of a trapped child who can't be found is enough for this to make the list.

Night Gallery - The Caterpillar (1972)

Rod Serling's Night Gallery, a sort of sequel to Twilight Zone, had its ups and downs. The overall quality didn't equal Serling's previous series, but it did have some very effective moments, and one particularly creepy episode was "The Caterpillar." The story moves slowly, but at the end of the day it's about a man who gets a bug in his ear, and the insect starts eating its way through his brain until it escapes through the other side. The description alone is like foil on fillings—it just makes your whole body want to curl up. Even with the slowish story and anachronistic '70s hair, the very idea of this man's awful fate may haunt you forever.

Black Mirror - Shut Up and Dance (2016)

This modern Twilight Zone warns us about the ways technology can bring out the very worst in humanity. Also, they put Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)" to great use before Westworld. Warning: spoilers for this episode.

For most of "Shut Up and Dance," we follow a big-eyed teenage boy who was caught touching himself on camera and is being blackmailed. The blackmailers instruct him to do things like rob a bank and interact with other poor souls who don't want to be called out for their terrible actions. By the end, the teenager has to fight a man to death in the woods—a man who's admittedly a pedophile—so their secrets stay hidden. The teen doesn't want to fight, but the other man does. In the final scene we find out that the blackmailers released all the information they were holding over their blackmailing victims, even though their terrible tasks were completed. The teen, covered in blood, stumbles from the woods as police surround him. He gets a call from his mom, and we find out that he was a pedophile too—hence his desperation to comply with the blackmailers.

This episode is remarkable because it toys with our natural inclination to sympathize with a main character, especially such an innocent-looking teen. The reveal that he was a person we'd normally find monstrous is a really insane twist that makes you feel gross and weird. It's not the scariest scene, but it is one of the most uncomfortable of all time.