When you're small, the world seems like a big and mysterious place, so childhood is naturally full of irrational fears, superstitions, and worries. While most look back on those carefree days of jelly sandals and Lip Smackers fondly, there are two sides to every coin; indeed, the list of
things we were unreasonably scared of in the '90s is just as long (if not longer) as the list of all the things that produce nostalgic joy.
TV shows and movies of the '90s had no qualms with preying on our most innocent fears, turning sleepovers into veritable frightfests. Our active imaginations would endow everyday toys and objects with special fear-inducing powers, so that even an "adorable" Furby would send shivers down our spines. It was rough.
I'd like to say we've outgrown these fears as adults, but we all know that the phobias developed during childhood can be lasting. Despite being older and somewhat wiser, things that go bump in the night or that abandoned house on your block can still give you the heebie-jeebies. We may no longer live "in a world of pure imagination," but that boat scene from
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory gets us every time.
So if you want to creep yourself out, check out this list of things we were irrationally terrified of in the '90s... just don't do it right before you go to bed.
For some inexplicable reason we loved these strange robotic dolls, but let's be real, they were freakin' terrifying. The colorful alien creature that looked to be part-bat and part-mouse, had a habit of turning on in the middle of the night. As a kid, you'd awake to your Furby's eyes rolling back and forth demonically while jabbering in "Furbish." We don't blame you if you took out the batteries out before hitting the hay.
Clowns are meant to be funny, right? Not after the 1990 TV miniseries
IT turned every birthday party clown into Pennywise and every red balloon into an impending sign of doom. Children of the '90s were also extra careful to not walk too close to a sewer drains. That's normal, right?
One Nickelodeon show asked a very important question:
Are You Afraid of The Dark? And if you watched an episode of the show before bed, The answer would be "Yes, yes I am." Boy, those kids in the Midnight Society were brave!
We didn't exactly know why we were scared of Y2K, but from our parents, we got the general sense that the world may end at midnight thanks to a computing error. Deep into the new millennium, the fears seem silly. The "Y2K Bug" that never was left people almost disappointed, but at least we partied "like it's 1999."
Michael Jackson's Thriller video
The music video for Thriller didn't come out in the '90s, but that's when we all watched it for the first time, and it scared the pants off us. Packed in the frights like a full-length movie with werewolves, dancing zombies, spooky music, and the terrifying surprise ending. I'd turn off MTV every time they played it because otherwise I wouldn't sleep that night.
As kids, we dreamt of getting to stay home by ourselves without a babysitter. No adult supervision meant the freedom to stay up as late as we wanted, eat all the Dunkaroos we could stomach, and watch loads of inappropriate TV. But, as well learned from Kevin McCallister, being home alone wasn't always fun and games, and when left alone for a few minutes our imaginations would leave us totally creeped out about who might try to break into the house.
The "Ouija" board is technically a toy, but at a sleepover, it became so much more. You wanted to seem brave by dipping your toes into the occult and investigating the paranormal, but the chance that you could actually hear back from a spirit excited and terrified you. If "light as a feather stiff as a board" worked, there might be something to that message from beyond.
When a chain letter popped up in your email, you knew it was best to forward it and avoid some kind of terrible bad luck. Most of the letters were pretty scary, saying things like "THIS IS NOT A JOKE!" and that in order to avoid a "crazed killer" or "vengeful spirit" you needed to forward it to 10 people immediately! Remember: no send backs!
Every '90s kid at some point became convinced that their dolls would come to life when they weren't looking. We saw the evidence in the
Toy Story and the Chucky movies, and neither one made it look particularly appealing. While it was doubtless that our Polly Pockets could do much harm if it did become animated, that didn't stop us from taking special precautions to hide certain toys before we went to bed.
Stepping On A Crack In The Sidewalk
The seemingly innocent rhyme: "Step on a crack, You’ll break your mother’s back; Step on a line, You’ll break your father’s spine" put some pretty intense ideas in our little heads. '90s kids took extra care walking to school, making sure to avoid any breaks in the pavement. It now seems ridiculous that we put so much faith in the superstition, but the poem was far from a joke for us!
Watching "The Nightmare Before Christmas" On Halloween
The stop-motion musical was as terrifying as any horror film when we were young, and only as adults do we appreciate it's humor, and perhaps find Jack Skellington strangely attractive.
Getting Stung By A Bunch Of Bees
Though the chances were slim that you would ever kick a beehive and then develop a serious allergy to bee stings,
My Girl made it seem all too real. After watching that movie the sight of a bee would spell danger, and we'd run as fast as we could in the opposite direction.