When you think about it, the goal of a sign is pretty basic, isn’t it? We put them up to give us directions, send messages, and warn us about dangers lurking around the corner. But while sometimes they hilariously fail to fulfill their purpose by looking like the most random and absurd announcements ever created, others seem to carry a somewhat threatening aura.

We’re talking about signs that remind us the world is filled with unforeseen hazards that make us want to stop and quickly run the other way. So let us introduce you to the 'Scary Signs' subreddit. This online community with over 379K members has set out on a mission to share pictures of terrifying messages from all over the world "that you don't want to be near".

Some of them are scarier than the danger itself, others are so creepy we can’t help but wonder why they got put up there in the first place. Whatever the case may be, these warnings definitely catch one's attention. Bored Panda has collected some of the most frightening posts from the group, so continue scrolling to check them out for yourself, and let us know what you think about them in the comments!

#1

Scary-Sad, But Comforting To Know You Can Be Safe

Scary-Sad, But Comforting To Know You Can Be Safe

Alwyslistn Report

Roxy Eastland
Community Member
1 month ago

That's not a scary sign I "don't want to be near" - that's a fantastic sign that we're all glad to see

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#2

Sign A The Vet

Sign A The Vet

GameasauresRex Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

I’m not crying, it’s just the onions.

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#3

Oh...ok I Understand

Oh...ok I Understand

reddit.com Report

JoyfulZebra
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

Glad to know zoos make sure their animals are taken care of!

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Since its creation in 2014, the 'Scary Signs' subreddit has amassed more than 379K members who are eager to share the daunting messages they come across in every corner of the world. Nearly every post consists of terrifying or confusing signs that warn us of potential hazards up ahead and uneasy consequences we will face if we refuse to obey.

While we're used to seeing safety signs and not batting an eye, people on this online community prove that some of them have a slightly threatening nature that everyone should take notice of. After all, most of us are hoping to avoid falling into "the drowning machine", getting attacked by aggressive geese, or encountering a venomous snake that's missing from its exhibit.

#4

Save The Bees

Save The Bees

nebula_dweller Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

Not the bees!

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#5

More Than Sad Scary, But Still

More Than Sad Scary, But Still

swagfugu Report

Michelle Gosney
Community Member
1 month ago

That's just so sad.

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#6

Beware Of Falling Deer

Beware Of Falling Deer

KickYourAss247 Report

dianadeluxe
Community Member
1 month ago

Oh deer!

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Yet, there seem to be many factors that can make people disregard even the most frightening messages. Maybe you're an adrenaline junkie looking for new adventures every chance you get. Perhaps you think the sign is scarier than the danger itself. I mean, it's better to be safe than sorry, but who really wants to be told to watch out for falling deer? How often does that really happen?

Marc Green, Ph.D., is a human factor expert who has extensive experience in perception, attention, human factors, and related areas. According to him, warning signs often fail to change people's behavior. They can either go unnoticed or, more often than not, they are seen but ignored by the viewer. "For many years, designers focused their concern on sensory aspects of warnings: color, shape, location, pictures vs. text, size and so on. However, recent research suggests that effective warning design depends as much on the contents of the viewer's head as on the contents of the warning's message," he explained.

#7

Trailhead In Tennessee

Trailhead In Tennessee

fieldysnuttz Report

MellonCollie
Community Member
1 month ago

Well, this is a great sign. I have encountered a few similar sign in Australia, and I find them rather helpful.

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#8

Don’t Do Meth

Don’t Do Meth

TrickyPistola Report

Vicky Z
Community Member
1 month ago

That's why i avoid dentist as much as possible! 😅😅😅

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#9

No Bees, No Oranges

No Bees, No Oranges

flamingred91 Report

Jayne Kyra
Community Member
1 month ago

Save the bees!

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You see, when people stumble upon alarming messages, they then have to make a decision whether or not to comply. But let's not forget that people who are the intended audience of these signs are not blank slates. They rather start with a thought process containing three components: "First, the viewer has general knowledge about the world and how it works. Second, s/he has a set of beliefs and expectations based on experience with the same or similar environment, product or technology."

"Lastly, the viewer enters the situation with a goal and strategy for achieving that goal," Green continued. "The goal can be specific ('I want to arrive at my destination as soon as possible') or more diffuse ('I want to feel good about myself')." So to create an effective warning sign, the designer must understand what the observer "brings to the table".

#10

Umm

Umm

Tablealt Report

Nathaniel
Community Member
1 month ago

Groot does not appreciate people putting signs on him.

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#11

Percy Preist Lake In Nashville, Tn

Percy Preist Lake In Nashville, Tn

aea27 Report

Jayne Kyra
Community Member
1 month ago

See? They drowned even if they wore lifejackets! Why should people wear masks/seatbelts/get vaccinated/wear protective gear/etc when you can still die!? /sarcasm, if that was not obvious

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#12

Scary Geese

Scary Geese

marmot12 Report

Jayne Kyra
Community Member
1 month ago

Peace was never an option.

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As viewers, we’re aware that safety signs are placed there for our own benefit. Their purpose is to draw our attention to important information that might prevent us from doing harm to ourselves or the people around us. Unfortunately, sometimes they are less likely to be effective when they are placed in the wrong area or use vague messaging. This could lead to tragic accidents, so it’s always best to make sure the sign will be crystal clear to virtually anyone.

#13

A Disease Which Has No Cure

A Disease Which Has No Cure

ohyouarefunny Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

Stupidity?

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#14

Something About This Unsettles Me

Something About This Unsettles Me

ubahsquid Report

JoyfulZebra
Community Member
1 month ago

Blunt and effective (hopefully)

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#15

Straight To The Point, Don't Become Soup

Straight To The Point, Don't Become Soup

MrBoko1234 Report

Vicky Z
Community Member
1 month ago

Afterwards we put some spices in and we eat you!

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However, even when signs are compelling and tick every box on the list, we humans have a tendency to overlook them. Green explained that when a warning tells us to refrain from behavior that would enable us to quickly achieve our goal, we then make a cost-benefit analysis. "In some cases, the viewer might lose the goal altogether ('No Smoking' signs), or exert more effort ('Detour' signs)," he mentioned some examples of the cost.

When it comes to benefits, they can be practical (like injury avoidance), and psychological. "A driver deciding whether to comply with a speed limit sign might calculate the costs of arriving later," he added. But one benefit of compliance is feeling safe and less anxious, like thinking "I won't be as likely to get in an accident," or "I won't have to spend time and effort looking for a radar trap." Other psychological advantages could be the sense of being "a good citizen" or "a team player," Green argued.

#16

19th Century Japanese Tsunami Warnings. This One Reads: “Remember The Calamity Of The Great Tsunamis. Do Not Build Any Homes Below This Point”

19th Century Japanese Tsunami Warnings. This One Reads: “Remember The Calamity Of The Great Tsunamis. Do Not Build Any Homes Below This Point”

FallenAngel1919 Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

And they still built below that point. I was watching a Geographics video and most of the people who died in the 2011 tsunami were in buildings situated below the tsunami warning points.

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#17

Fight Back

Fight Back

Scrot123 Report

dianadeluxe
Community Member
1 month ago

Make sure you take a good picture. Could be your last.

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#18

Road Sign I Found In Texas

Road Sign I Found In Texas

reddit.com Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

Reminds me of the time a colleague stopped for a hitchhiker. A couple of miles down the road she accidentally ran over something (squirrel I think). Hitchhiker went to have a look. While he was out of the car she decided to have a look in his bag as she felt uneasy. He had a knife and rope in there. She yeeted out of there so fast. She was traumatised for a long time afterwards. But what a lucky escape.

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Another factor that affects how we see the size of the benefits is the perception of danger, which has two elements — hazard and risk. The viewer of the warning sign must take them into account when making the calculation. "If the person believes that there is great danger, then s/he will see a larger benefit in compliance. Conversely, perception of small danger means low benefit and compliance will decrease," he explained.

#19

Sign At Lava Falls In Grand Canyon

Sign At Lava Falls In Grand Canyon

UriahPeabody Report

martin734
Community Member
1 month ago

Sensible advice.

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#20

You Will Die

You Will Die

mirandanielcz Report

Nathaniel
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

Not survivable? Challenge accepted!

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#21

At A Nearby Wolf Sanctuary

At A Nearby Wolf Sanctuary

Gymnos84 Report

Saint Thomas
Community Member
1 month ago

This one is funny, not scary or creepy.

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Lastly, our personal, social, and cultural backgrounds also affect our decision-making. Green explained that even when two people make the same cost-benefit analysis, they could go two different ways — one might ignore the sign while the other doesn't. "People accept different danger levels, have different attitudes about their ability to control danger and are differentially affected by social and cultural norms," the expert added.

So for warning signs to be persuasive, designers should focus more on the psychological factor. Sure, the bright glaring colors and terrifying symbols catch our attention and might stop us from falling into dangerous threats, but harmony between human behavior and design would reduce accidents even further.

#22

Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo

BVB77 Report

dianadeluxe
Community Member
1 month ago

I bet there isn't a snake at all.

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#23

Just Another Day In Alaska

Just Another Day In Alaska

electronicthesarus Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

Just think if people closed their bins properly and didn’t litter (or encroach on bears habitats) then they wouldn’t come looking for food in houses / public spaces.

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#24

"The Drowning Machine"

"The Drowning Machine"

RenderTheGame Report

Chinmayee Kalghatgi
Community Member
1 month ago

I bet that somebody stupid will go in hoping to make a great TikTok video

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#25

Uh Oh. Keep Out Of The Danger Noodle Room

Uh Oh. Keep Out Of The Danger Noodle Room

lilblondezombie Report

Bad Humor
Community Member
1 month ago

Damn it Norman, not again

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#26

This Slide

This Slide

iambored95 Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

Should be at the top!

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#27

Bush Fire Rating Signs All Over Australia

Bush Fire Rating Signs All Over Australia

OneKidneyStan Report

Caro Caro
Community Member
1 month ago

Poor Aussie. If it's not burning, it's flooded.

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#28

Yikes

Yikes

err_mate Report

JuniorCJ82
Community Member
1 month ago

Which port is that?

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#29

Trust Me, I Won't

Trust Me, I Won't

reddit.com Report

Chinmayee Kalghatgi
Community Member
1 month ago

Who’d do that?

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#30

Nope.

Nope.

unfamiliar-ceiling Report

Nathaniel
Community Member
1 month ago

Horses may also consume your soul.

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#31

The School Lockdown Song

The School Lockdown Song

OG3XOG Report

Yayheterogeneity
Community Member
1 month ago

Worst sign ever. Nothing like a funny shooters song 🙈 for the little ones. Awful.

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#32

How Fast Is It Going To Move?

How Fast Is It Going To Move?

nate-2898 Report

Shanaaia
Community Member
1 month ago

Don't disturb the elevator, it's just taking a nap

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#33

This Got Dark Real Quick

This Got Dark Real Quick

shadowclient Report

Roxy Eastland
Community Member
1 month ago

Common all around the UK for a while. Now, probably prompted by research findings, we have signs written by children, with childish drawings, that say 'Twenty is Plenty'.

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#34

Crocodile Enclosure At Sydney Aquarium

Crocodile Enclosure At Sydney Aquarium

ReginaldHardwick Report

Shanaaia
Community Member
1 month ago

Double risk 😱

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#35

You Get The Gist, Even Without A Word Of Swedish

You Get The Gist, Even Without A Word Of Swedish

abaganoush Report

Aran Lindvail
Community Member
1 month ago

Well that's... graphic.

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#36

At Least They Give You A Choice.

At Least They Give You A Choice.

BurntReynolds347G Report

Nathaniel
Community Member
1 month ago

What on Earth is this attraction?

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#37

Not Sure If This Counts

Not Sure If This Counts

EnormousOctopus Report

martin734
Community Member
1 month ago

I have a few questions.

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#38

At My Apartment Complex

At My Apartment Complex

protokitty Report

lenka
Community Member
1 month ago

The fact that this sign is necessary is alarming

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#39

Yeah I Think I’ll Pass

Yeah I Think I’ll Pass

210z Report

GoddessOfChaos
Community Member
1 month ago

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE!

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#40

Apartheid-Era Sign Near Johannesburg, South Africa (1953)

Apartheid-Era Sign Near Johannesburg, South Africa (1953)

theradRussian3 Report

Roxy Eastland
Community Member
1 month ago

I had the misfortune when I was young to have a brief conversation with a white "Rhodesian" (young man) and yes, attitudes really were that vile.

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#41

Crossing A Swing Bridge In Nz

Crossing A Swing Bridge In Nz

dognosecold Report

dianadeluxe
Community Member
1 month ago

10 Europeans or 5 Americans.

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#42

Think This Belongs Here!

Think This Belongs Here!

Madowa01 Report

CapitalDee
Community Member
1 month ago

*Half the crowd exits at once*

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#43

Careful When Skiing

Careful When Skiing

thetoastmonster Report

Vorknkx
Community Member
1 month ago

We've had many cases like this in my coiuntry. Reckless young skiers who thought it wouldn't happen to them... until it did.

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#44

Heart Rate Increasing

Heart Rate Increasing

QasimTheDream Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

Psycho Chad.

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#45

Slowly Puts Shovel Back In Trunk

Slowly Puts Shovel Back In Trunk

sights_of_the_sun Report

Bad Humor
Community Member
1 month ago

Aww man i was gonna bury the bodies here :(

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#46

Ok, Let's Just Go To The Public Pool?

Ok, Let's Just Go To The Public Pool?

Indeeder66soums Report

Chinmayee Kalghatgi
Community Member
1 month ago

Water somehow always enters my nose while swimming. I’d avoid this pool no matter what

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#47

No Worries, 3 Layers Of Glass Still Remain To Protect You From The King Of The Jungle!

No Worries, 3 Layers Of Glass Still Remain To Protect You From The King Of The Jungle!

Tails_RulesTheWorld Report

Rabbit Carrot
Community Member
1 month ago

Yeah but how did it break? Accidental damage or was the lion testing the fence like a Dino in Jurassic Park. If those lions are looking to escape we need to know!

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#48

Cute Cartoons Don’t Make Creepy Messages Better

Cute Cartoons Don’t Make Creepy Messages Better

jakeairforce Report

Aran Lindvail
Community Member
1 month ago

That's not creepy, it's true.

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#49

“Holy Water Removed Temporarily”

“Holy Water Removed Temporarily”

abaganoush Report

Chich
Community Member
1 month ago

OK, I have a few questions.

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#50

Saw This Walking Through My University After Hours

Saw This Walking Through My University After Hours

ketchupcostsextra Report

TonyTee
Community Member
1 month ago

I don't know what's worse, the warning or the typo

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Note: this post originally had 107 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.