9 Creepy Dolls That Terrified US On TV
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Creepy movie dolls like Chucky from Child’s Play or, more recently, Annabelle from The Conjuring, have made dolls a massively popular horror trope, but devoted TV viewers had already experienced the chilling effect of killer dolls before either movie was released.
In the 1960s and 1970s, shows like The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Night Gallery had introduced us to twisted toys in nightmare-inducing episodes. From dolls that talked only to children to ones that directly threatened everyone, it was a fear that TV was not afraid to explore time and again.
Revisiting these shows’ most terrifying dolls reminded us of other memorable dolls that crept onto our TV screens and made a lasting impression — so we compiled a list of our favorite fearsome dolls from TV history. Read on below to see if you remember if these dolls made you feel more than a little squeamish or if you stared bravely into the dolls’ glass eyes.
1. THE TWILIGHT ZONE – “LIVING DOLL”
One of TV’s creepiest dolls appeared in The Twilight Zone‘s fifth season, with an unusual vocabulary that adequately freaked out guest star Telly Savalas as much as TV viewers. Talky Tina has dark eyes, a floral dress and pigtails, but when you wind her up, she utters ominous phrases like “I’m going to kill you” or “You’ll be sorry” when Savalas’ character attempts to toss her in the trash, after which the doll just erupts into giggles. It’s as horrifying to watch now as it was when the episode first aired in 1963.
2. THE SIMPSONS – “TREEHOUSE OF HORROR III”
If you loved The Twilight Zone‘s “Living Doll” episode, you probably chuckled at The Simpsons‘ attempt to parody it in 1992. For “Treehouse of Horror III,” Homer battles a talking Krusty doll he buys as a birthday present for Bart despite warnings that the doll is cursed. Like Savalas’ trials with his living doll, Homer starts freaking out when the Krusty doll threatens to kill him. Whether you found it amusing or creepy, the episode probably gave fans cause to pause when considering owning a Krusty doll of their own.
3. NIGHT GALLERY – “THE DOLL”
When Rod Serling transitioned from The Twilight Zone to Night Gallery in 1969, he didn’t leave his days of terrifying dolls behind. In the fifth episode of the first season, the story “The Dolls” sought to prove that “only that the least likely objects can be filled with the most likely horror.” It follows an uncle who returns home from India to find his niece has received a mysterious doll as a gift from someone else in India who assuredly was not him. Before the episode begins, Serling forewarns, “This one you best not play with,” but despite the doll’s scary face, the niece insists her new toy is “very sweet.” The episode’s twist ending is one worth revisiting.