This article really cracked me up: The 10 Most Insane, Child-Warping Moments of 80's Cartoons.
Hello, naked Thundercats!
I disagree with their take on the Smurfs- the "GNAP" episode where they all turn dark purple and crazy was definitely way freakier than them singing some poor villain to death.
The two things that scared the crap out of me as a child didn't take place in cartoons. The first was the entire movie The Neverending Story. First, there was the slow and heartbreaking horse quicksand (mudsand?) death scene. But for me, an avid reader, the premise alone was enough to induce terror. Young boy starts reading a book...and gets sucked into it, with no obvious way to escape back to his normal life! I think I avoided books for a good six months after seeing this movie. Probably not the intended effect.
The second big fright? In the movie version of A Christmas Carol (based on the Charles Dickens novel....not to be confused with A Christmas Story), the Ghost Of Christmas Future appears as a shadowy figure in a black robe. After showing Ebenezer Scrooge his depressing future, the ghost leads him to a cemetery and points at a gravestone... and at that moment, in a scene of unparalleled horror, the ghost's skeleton arm pops out from underneath the robe . I don't know which version of the movie this was, but I remember watching the annual broadcast with my family, the whole time awaiting yet dreading the moment when the bone arm appears.
One member of my family did suffer from fear of cartoon drama...back in 1986, my mom took my sisters and me to see An American Tale, but we didn't last long at the theater. We left soon after the movie began because my sister Eri, who was six at the time, began sobbing inconsolably during the storm at sea scene when Fievel gets washed overboard during and separated from his family.