My Top 3 Scary TV Moments From When I Was A Kid

Last week, we did something really cool. We had friends over, ate chili, drank wine and watched the Muppets. Loads and loads of Muppets. We made it to halfway through Season Two, where the budget had clearly increased and big stars like Elton John and Julie Andrews started showing up. Until then, I was left to explain the guest hosts to my fellow Muppet Night co-founders, many of whom were at least a decade younger than me.

“The Muppets actually scared me when I was a kid,” came from LeVar. Which – when you look at them with an older, more experienced eye, seems really reasonable. The Muppets *are* freaky. Really, really, cool freaky – but I can imagine a little kid having some nightmares over them.

I started thinking back to what gave me nightmares. And I have three definitive moments.

1. The Brady Bunch Goes To Hawaii and A Spider Crawls on Peter

The Bradys headed to Hawaii for work/vacation because Dad had to oversee some building (he was an architect if you don’t remember) and Bobby found this small statue that turned out to have bad mojo associated with it. Somehow a tarantula spider – which are NOT native to Hawaii – crawled into Jan’s beach bag – and then out, up and onto Peter while he was sleeping that night. I am getting the heebie jeebies just typing this. Every time I watched this episode, I imagined spiders crawling all over my bed for WEEKS. [I am sure to tonight.]

2. The Six Million Dollar Man Fights Big Foot

I loved the Six Million Dollar Man. I even had his doll where the arm skin rolled up and exposed his bionics, which is seriously creepy in itself when you think about it. This episode was something about an earthquake in California, friends of Steve Austin’s disappear and he goes looking for them. I remember him finding big footprints, and this scary shadow of a big form in the woods throughout the episode. And then the big fight scene! I nearly crawled out of my own skin, not to mention the dolls, when I saw that INSANE LOOKING BEAST.

3. There Is A Burning Clown In The Closet on Fantasy Island

I searched and search for this episode on YouTube, but I do not remember anything about it other than there was a CLOWN BURNING IN A CLOSET. What were they thinking??? In all fairness, Fantasy Island was on after the Love Boat and quite late at that – so what was *I* doing watching this half-spooky half-romance show where everyone went out to an island to fulfill their wildest dreams? But as if Ricardo Montelban and Hervé Villechaize weren’t creepy enough – they had to add a CLOWN? BURNING? IN. A. CLOSET? Please tell me someone else saw this episode besides me.


This article has 21 comments

  1. zipper

    I totally remember that Brady Bunch episode! But I saw it later than you. 🙂

  2. Megan

    da plane da plane! I have no idea what that episode is, but it would scare me too. honestly, barney freaked me out.

  3. Gabryyl

    The stabby fetish doll on Trilogy of Terror, The Shining watched under covers followed by The Other (creepy twins).

  4. EatPlayLove

    when they broadcast Jaws on television. I didn’t even live near the ocean, but oh boy that freaked me out. And any special on Big Foot.

  5. Meghann

    Two words: Twin. Peaks.

  6. mayberry

    As soon as I saw your title, I thought, “mine would totally be something from Fantasy Island.” that entire show freaked me out and no, I don’t know what I was doing watching it either.

  7. Mixtape Jones

    Speaking of Muppets…Jim Henson did a Christmas special one year called “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.” It was delightful, for the most part, but I will admit to being genuinely frightened by the jug band’s primary competition in the battle of the bands, the River Bottom Nightmare Band.Also, I was scared of KISS. Just in general. Whether they were on television or not.

  8. Lisa

    OMG I remember all three of these, but the movie “IT” was my waterloo with clowns.

  9. Tekee

    How about that gigantic spider in the cave on Gilligan’s Island?

  10. Tekee

    Oh, and I had that Steve Austin action figure, with his bionic eye that you could look through. I also had the bigfoot figure too! Steve could punch him in the stomach and make his chest plate pop off. Thanks for the memories!

  11. Paige

    Oh, that Fantasy Island episode terrified me and I was scared by that Brady bunch episode too, but the worst one I can remember was when a babysitter let me watch the Exorcist. My parents didn’t get why I was still awake when they got home.

  12. Average Jane

    Don’t laugh, but I remember an episode of Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot where a “space mummy” put something in the reservoir that made people turn into mummies when they drank the water. Traumatized me for years.Also, that episode of Star Trek (original series) where they went to a planet that was all kids because everyone got some horrible disease as soon as they matured. Shudder.

  13. J at

    I thought I had seen all of Fantasy Island, but gah, no burning clowns in my memory.The Shining scared the crap out of me, and I’m not even talking about the film…just the trailer, with the blood and the music and the elevators. Ugh. Scary as hell.


    We used to watch a show called Night Gallery, which was kind of like a creepier Twighlight zone. There was an episode whar a fisherman caught a Mermaid and fell in love with her. He then wished for her to have legs. The next scene shows a pan of the womans/mermaid leggs and goes up to her face which was a fish head. Still creeps me out.

  15. Chloebear

    Ditto on Night Gallery was the one for me. I would hide behind my moms arm chair and watch with one eye open!

  16. Eric

    “Night Gallery” for me, too. One in particular where a man hires someone to kill another with a bug in the ear that burrows in, drives the person insane, etc. Wakes up one night itching, as the person that did the deed went into the wrong bedroom window and put it in HIS ear by mistake. Agonizing days later, the bug crawls out; it was female, and females lay eggs.I don’t care if Snopes debunks some of it; that still freaks me out. (

  17. Anonymous

    I second the Night Gallery Earwig episode. That freaked me out for years. And then Chekov got the same treatment in Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan.

  18. Anonymous

    “Night Gallery” I am still creeped out when I am awakened by my innerear itching!!! Also, the episode of “Twilight Zone” where the little girl fell out of her bed one night and into “The Fifth Dimension”!!! Those two episodes have contributed to my current insomnia!

  19. Jon

    I watched the clown on Fantasy Island as a 6 year old, and it has never left me.

    • chad

      Awesome find. That is definitely a clip I remember (floating skull) and has gotta be the clip mentioned on this page.

  20. Bill

    Yeah, the clown thing scared the shit out of me too. Also the movie “The Other” when it showed on network t.v. around 1977. The ads for that scared me so much I couldn’t watch the movie itself.

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