Courage the Cowardly Dog is about a senile old couple and their haunted dog Courage who is regularly terrorized by phantasms that only he ever seems to notice. Most of the monsters that appear on the show aren't any more frightening than a standard Scooby-Doo villain. However, in one episode, Courage accidentally breaks his master's bugle and goes to bed tormenting himself with enough guilt to trigger a nightmare, which the animators used as an excuse to settle some inexplicable vendetta they had against the young viewers of their television show.
A blue Tim Burton sculpture with a pale death mask of regret and disappointment is unleashed on Courage fans, apropos of nothing, for nine horrible seconds. Seriously, Courage blinks a few times and then suddenly that fucking thing comes wailing on screen like a sad banshee.
"Wait, what's happen- NOOOO AAAAAAH!"
A dissonant orchestral arrangement oozes from the speakers as the Blue Thing (the character has no official name, but Courage fans have christened him thusly) slowly rolls his head around on his shoulders like a dead psychic, bulges his eyes out, and whispers, "You're not perfect." And then it ends, as quickly and with as little explanation as it began. It's as if somebody randomly spliced a David Lynch dream sequence into the middle of a children's cartoon.
Apparently, the Blue Thing is supposed to be the broken bugle, reaffirming Courage's feelings of inadequacy, despite the fact that it looks more like a mad scientist's experimental fetus clone and precisely nothing at all like a bugle. Incidentally, this was the last episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog ever produced, so maybe terrifying children with a naysaying doom specter was a way for the animators to express their feelings over the loss of both their jobs and their creative outlet.
"Children exist to be terrified. Why can't the network understand that?!"
Jonathan Wojcik regularly frightens and confuses children on bogleech.com. You can follow Amanda on Twitter or read more at Mannafesto, where she regularly reveals the holy secrets of the ancient Sassypants tribe.
For more nightmare fuel in children's entertainment, check out The 13 Most Unintentionally Disturbing Children's Toys and The 6 Most Baffling Serial Crimes.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Stupid Ways the Government is Embracing the Internet .
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Extra Credit: Keep the nightmares flowing with terrifying old-timey hobbies like public morgue visits and serial killer action figures. If that fear high starts to fade, this list of real life sea monsters will ensure your bed gets no break from the wetting. Still not scared enough? Check out the worst prehistory has to offer and drift off into uneasy dreams of forty foot wide murderbirds.