The 13th Floor

Is “WHERE BAD KIDS GO” the Scariest TV Show Ever Made?

This chilling story can be traced back to an unnamed photojournalist from Lebanon, who recalls growing up in a constant state of fear and uncertainty during the mid-1980s, one of the most chaotic and war-ravaged periods in the country’s history. While the real-life nightmares of bombing runs, sniper fire and terrorist attacks were ever-present, the writer describes feeling a very different kind of dread while watching a TV program called Where Bad Kids Go — which he described as a half-hour of frightening images, disorienting sounds and threatening stories ostensibly targeted at young children, but more likely (by the author’s estimation) a propaganda program designed to scare kids into complacency.

The Arabic-language program contained “lessons” for children with cautionary titles like “Bad Kids Stay Up Late” or “Bad Kids Steal Food,” or the more puzzling “Bad Kids Keep Their Hands Under the Bed Covers.” According to the author, the lessons often contained violent and scary images, and each episode ended with a shot of a closed room (or cell) barred by a rusty old door. As the camera approaches the door, from within the room’s depths the sounds of faint screams could be heard… screams of absolute terror and agony… the screams of children.

Finally, a single line of Arabic text appeared on the screen: “This is where bad kids go.”

As a young adult, the author had found a successful career as a photojournalist, but remained haunted by the sounds that echoed from beyond that door. He decided to conduct his own investigation into the origins of the show, and after years of running down leads and picking through obscure clues, he eventually tracked down the name and location of the studio where the program was allegedly produced.

Image Credit: iStock/Marina Skoropadskaya

Entering the decrepit, abandoned building, he found most of the interior completely scorched — though the outside appeared to be untouched by fire or other battle damage. It appeared as if someone had tried to incinerate the building from the inside.

Then, at the very back of the studio, he found the room. Despite the charring across its surface, he recognized the rusty door from the TV show: This is where bad kids go.

The door was unlocked, and the author finally mustered up the resolve to pull it open completely. What he found inside made his blood freeze in horror.

Scattered throughout the tiny cell were fragments of bones and long-dried smears of what looked like blood, fecal matter and shriveled shreds of flesh. But that wasn’t what caused him to immediately turn around, run for the exit and never look back again…

Hanging from the middle of the ceiling, encased in a wire cage, was a single microphone.