Clowns are one of the seemingly most universal fears shared by people worldwide. Despite their supposed job of being funny and entertaining children, years of legit horrifying depictions of clowns (and serial killers dressing up as them) have pretty much tarnished their reputation for everybody. In particular, you can blame these 12 bozos for making us terrified of the circus.
Poltergeist - Possessed Clown
The second that clown appears in an earlier scene, you just KNOW it's going to come alive and do something scary. Even though it takes forever to happen and we knew it was coming, somehow that still wasn't enough preparation.
It - Pennywise
Whether it's Tim Curry in the original or Bill Skarsgard in the 2017 remake, the demonic Pennywise is legitimately terrifying, and even though he takes on plenty of other creepy forms, the clown is by far the most iconic (and scariest).
Are You Afraid of the Dark? - Zeebo
When a kid gets dared to steal the nose from an animatronic clown, he unleashes pure horror as the clown follows him home, with constant comments of "GIVE IT BACK!" If this didn't haunt your dreams as a kid, you're either a robot or lying.
Batman - The Joker
Whether he's played by Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, or Heath Ledger, the Clown Prince of Crime can go from hilarious to genuinely terrifying at the drop of a hat (and often does). He's the most memorable villain in comic book history, and he's been terrifying us for decades.
Air Bud - Happy Slappy
Happy Slappy isn't terrifying so much as he's a dick who abuses Buddy and then has the nerve to try to take him away from a family that loves him. Still, I'm positive that this jerk was one of the many reasons we now hate clowns.
The clowns seriously just get worse from here...
The Brave Little Toaster - The Firefighter Clown
This clown shows up for all of like 30 seconds in a nightmare sequence, but I'll be damned if that bastard's evil grin hasn't been burned into my brain since I was six-years-old.
Twisted Metal - Sweet Tooth
If you had a PlayStation while growing up, chances are the Twisted Metal game series was your jam when it came to blasting your friends in souped-up cars. However, the most memorable part of it was always its mascot, Needles "Sweet Tooth" Kane; a serial killer who was cursed to have a flaming clown head permanently grafted onto his own.
The Simpsons - Bart's Bed
"If you should die before you wake... MUAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Killer Klowns From Outer Space - The Klowns
This movie definitely wasn't meant for kids, but somehow we all managed to see it anyway! What's more terrible than evil alien clowns that murder people? Nothing, that's what.
Dumbo - Circus Clowns
Much like Happy Slappy earlier, the circus clowns aren't scary so much as they're a bunch of animal-abusing jerks. Between forcing Dumbo to jump out of burning buildings, and getting him drunk (which leads to the equally horrifying "Pink Elephants On Parade" scene), we're pretty sure they're everything wrong with the circus.
Spawn - Clown/Violator
A demon from Hell that looks like a clown and is constantly eating disgusting food is bad enough, but when he can also transform into a giant, skeletal monster with immense power, it pretty much becomes the stuff of nightmares.
McDonald's - Ronald McDonald
Okay seriously, does a clown make you wanna eat hamburgers? Because he sure doesn't for me!