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Trying to capture the imagination of unpredictable, tantrum-prone critics like children must be a tough task. That’s probably why absolutely outlandish characters like a demented talking blanket managed to slip on to daytime television.
Despite efforts to improve the quality and content of TV shows aimed at the younger market, they haven’t stopped a few particularly imaginative animators from coming up with some truly awful and frightening ways to‘entertain’ minors.
Here are the weirdest and most unsettling characters to have somehow made it into children’s television shows through the years:
Ratafak Plachte, Czechoslovakia, 1980
The stuff of nightmares made manifest, Ratafak Plachte spooked audiences in the 1980 show ‘Slniecko’. Apparently the character was meant to be a talking blanket. Instead it has been compared to Satan’s spirit animal by former viewers subjected to the demented creation.
The Groke, Finland, 1977
‘The Moomins’ incredibly cheery opening segment masked the fact that the characters were pretty messed up. If domesticated hippos weren’t enough to melt your developing brain, then the appearance of the dark and icy Groke would surely scare you senseless.
Alfred, Australia, 1990
Hot water bottles are not scary. But there was something very unsettling about the grimace on Alfred’s face in the 1990 ABC creation ‘Johnson and Friends’. The giggling bed warmer bore a worried expression which suggested he’d seen things no hot water bottle should witness. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anyone?
Mummenschanz, Switzerland, 1976
These shape-shifting experimental artists appeared on ‘The Muppet Show’ in 1976. Mime duo Mummenschanz manipulated their clay faces into bizarre and increasingly-alarming features with disturbing ease.
Fukurokuju, Japan, 2012
The less said about Fukurokuju, the better. According to Japanese gaming guide Kotaku, the character aired on national television in 2012 and was meant to represent one of the Seven Lucky Gods. Instead, his oddly-shaped extendable head resembled… well… you know...
Fofao, Brazil, 1983
Dreamed up by executives at Brazil’s Rede Globo station, Fofao looked like the strange father of murderous movie doll Chucky. Sure, he had some serious issues with his cheeks, but that didn’t stop the character from becoming hugely popular with ’80s kids.
EC ragdoll, Australia, 1992
Australia’s ‘Lift Off’ aired for only three years. However, it is still remembered for its nightmarish character EC - a ragdoll that was meant to represent ‘every child’. Today, children are more likely to run away from the faceless toy than identify with it.
Wizbit, UK, 1986
‘Wizbit’ centered on an alien wizard of the same name in the shape of a cone hat. Starring British magician Paul Daniels, the show followed the adventures of a talking wizard’s hat, which would spout nonsense spells like ‘Ostagazuzulum’.
Wizbit also lived with a giant rabbit, which spoke at the pace of someone who had consumed quite a bit of grass.