Easter is upon us, bringing its usual associates: egg hunts, little girls in frilly white dresses, Peeps, and, of course, the Easter Bunny, hop-hop-hopping along. A Google image search for this confusing figure produces an array of unsettling illustrations and photos, including a manic-eyed bipedal rabbit with teeth that extend over the lower half of its face. Anyone who has ever felt rabbit teeth sinking into the soft flesh of a finger knows this is not the way a rabbit smiles. It’s a threat.
Not convinced? Then join me for a frightening tour of fiction’s creepiest rabbits, ranked from only-slightly-unsettling to hide-under-the-bed-sobbing-terrifying, and be warned.
Fiver, from Watership Down, by Richard Adams
This one really isn’t the poor little fellow’s fault: he’s a clairvoyant, and clairvoyants are inherently creepy. No one wants to be told their warren is about to be destroyed, particularly not when that prophecy comes in rhyme, and then there’s the whole thin line between seers and insanity that seems to permeate mythology. A clairvoyant bunny that may or may not go insane? I’ll skip it, thanks.
Nail Bunny, from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, by Jhonen Vasquez
Poor Nail Bunny is really only creepy because of his outward appearance and the company he keeps, but I’m afraid any bunny who has been nailed to a wall for three years, has x’s for eyes, eventually becomes a floating head, and is one hallucinatory voice of a bonafide homicidal maniac has to be included. Sorry, Nail Bunny, but on the upside you were featured on seemingly thousands of disturbingly adorable backpack patches at high schools around the country in the late 1990s and early aughts, so here’s to you.
Bunnicula, from Bunnicula, by Deborah and James Howe
Appearing on a dark and stormy night, Bunnicula the vampire rabbit has fangs instead of normal bunny teeth, which in all honesty seems like a less unsettling option, because at least then it won’t be a surprise to find them sinking into your neck while you sleep. Bunnicula confines his vampire tendencies to vegetables, which he sucks dry, possibly turning them into vampires themselves…or at least he has stuck to vegetables so far.
The March Hare, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
What’s scarier than a normal rabbit with a normal rabbit’s teeth? A crazy rabbit, with a crazy rabbit’s teeth. Appearing at the Mad Hatter’s tea party and sporting a blue bow tie and straw hat on his head in the original illustrations (although it must be said that in those illustrations the real creepy one is Alice herself, who looks like she’s about to pull a Lizzie Borden), the March Hare is, unsurprisingly, rendered most terrifying in Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation. Invite to tea at your own risk.
The Seeing Hare, from The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
I’m pretty sure pencils could be rendered creepy in Grossman’s Magicians series, which casts a heavy layer of unsettling darkness over everything it touches, but the Seeing Hare is a particularly upsetting entry on this list. We’ve already discussed the inherent terror of the clairvoyant rabbit; well, here we have a clairvoyant rabbit who sets traps for those who seek it and responds to questions about the future with answers like “death” and “despair.” Sometimes followed immediately by someone dying. So…Happy Easter?