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Authors are people just like us, with likes and dislikes... and fears. Sometimes a creator draws upon their personal Nightmare Fuel in an attempt to make their villains more fearsome and intimidating. For instance, if the author as a child was bitten by a venomous spider and nearly died, as JRR Tolkien was, they might make the Big Bad of their story a hideous Giant Spider.

Contrast Author Appeal.

Examples of Author Phobia include:

Anime and Manga


  • Peter Jackson actually used his own phobia of spiders to measure the effectiveness of Shelob's design and animations for the Lord of the Rings films.
  • James Cameron wrote The Terminator based on a nightmare he had of a robot emerging from a fiery explosion and coming after him. It's even referenced on the main Nightmare Fuel page quote. "From the director's nightmares to yours." However, Cameron was sued because the idea bore a resemblance to two Harlan Ellison-written The Outer Limits episodes, "Soldier" and "Demon with a Glass Hand". As part of the settlement, the credits of the movie now include the phrase "Acknowledgement to the works of Harlan Ellison."
  • H. R. Giger is known to have incorporated his nightmares into his creations. Apparently, he often worked through his sleeplessness.
  • Alfred Hitchcock had a fear of the police, thanks to an incident in his childhood where his father ordered a policeman to lock him up for ten minutes for being disobedient. As a result, Police Are Useless and Wrongly Accused were two of his favorite tropes.
  • Mel Gibson's films are heavily criticized in England and elsewhere for perceived Anglophobia - for instance, the historical villain upgrades given to Banastre Tarleton in The Patriot and Edward I in Braveheart (his record is far more mixed than Gibson suggests). Then there is his butchery of Gallipoli in the film of the same name, specifically the idea that the British drank tea on the beach whilst the Australians died for them. We will not mention his treatment of another group in another film...
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: Wes Craven named Fred Krueger after a bully who harassed him and based his appearance on a disfigured hobo who scared him as a child.


Video Games