According to a survey last year, Americans are more afraid of clowns than they are of climate change, or even death itself. And if we’re being honest, there’s a very good chance that popular culture is very much to blame for that statistic.
Yeah, sure, serial killer John Wayne Gacy sullied the whole occupation in the public eye, but the vast majority of clowns are – as near as we can tell – decent human beings who just want to entertain people. But the horror writers, filmmakers, illustrators and even video game designers have become so enamored with warping children’s imagery for nightmarish ends that nowadays, most people hardly ever see a benign clown in popular culture anymore.
Meanwhile, scary clowns are everywhere. They drive demolition derby cars on PlayStation, they keep Bart Simpsons from sleeping, they ruin Batman’s life and in all of the various versions of Stephen King’s It, they represent the embodiment of terror itself.
That’s extremely disproportionate, in case you hadn’t noticed. Imagine if most people’s exposure to hockey was Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th movies. Perspectives are bound to be skewed.
So with that in mind we want to confront you with some of the most memorable, traumatizing and quite frankly scariest clowns in popular culture. That way you’ll get some sense of just how ubiquitous this trope really is and, hopefully, be able to confront your own coulrophobia (a.k.a. the fear of clowns).
Or, if you simply think scary clowns are cool, here’s a whole bunch of them for you to enjoy!
The 25 Scariest Scary Clowns in Popular Culture:
Top Photos: Dimension Films / DC Comics / Sony Pictures
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on Canceled Too Soon and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.