Here’s to 20 years of glorious, bizarre, creepy Olympic mascots

Once upon a time, Olympic mascots were pretty straightforward things. Basic animals, mostly. But the era since 1994 has seen the emergence of some of the strangest creations ever conceived, perhaps not able to be fully appreciated with the mind in an unaltered state.

That run has continued in Sochi, which was so close yet so far away to a return to the norms of yesteryear. Oh, they’re basic animals this year — a leopard, a rabbit and a polar bear — but they were run through the animation house of hell before appearing before us in extra large fashion at Friday’s Opening Ceremony.

So here they are, the trippy Olympic mascots of the last 20 years. May the next 20 years of critters be even more face-melting.

2014: Sochi

What are you looking at, guys?

The leopard and the rabbit are up to something. It’s all too clear now.

2012: London

The one-eyed "Wenlock," symbol of the London Games.

Aldous Huxley would be a fan of Wenlock, the one-eyed, dystopian sentry. Wikipedia classifies this creature as a "drop of steel with a camera for an eye."

2010: Vancouver

Sure …

Hey, kids! It’s Quatchi the sasquatch and Miga, the mythical sea bear. A nice nod to Canadian lore, but those faces will haunt our dreams.

2008: Beijing

These ones can swim, apparently.

Beijing had a full zoo for their mascot contingent. The five critters represented the Olympic rings and feng shui elements. Their names also spelled out "Beijing welcomes you" in Chinese when combined, making them the most symbolic group of mascots of all-time.

2006: Torino

That poor man in the middle …

The good news is that after Neve and Gliz finished out their term in Italy, they were able to be repurposed as mascots for a dentist’s office.

2004: Athens

Is that you, Gumby?

A simpler time, 2004. Amorphous blobs were so in back then. This is Athena and Phevos, meant to resemble ancient Greek dolls.

2002: Salt Lake City

All right, everybody. Act exactly as scared as you are.

My God! That rabbit is terrifying! Why, Utah? The rabbit is named "Powder." The coyote is "Copper." Hiding behind Copper with the dark black eyes of death is "Coal," an American black bear.

2000: Sydney

These animals can and will hurt you.

Australia took three cute, iconic national animals in the platypus, echidna and kookaburra and made them positively sinister.

1998: Nagano

Everyone’s favorite crudely drawn Olympic mascots.

Solid proof that you can use Microsoft Paint and still create an Olympic mascot.

1996: Atlanta

No one is sure what to do in this photo.

What. Why. When. How the. Who got into the "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" extras closet?

1994: Lillehammer

ACTUAL CHILDREN! Norway wins again.