Created By: CrocosharkJuly 1, 2012 Last Edited By: CrocosharkJanuary 15, 2013

Horror's Threshold Guardian

Cryptic/creepy figure who invites Hero to horror setting or holds the Artifact Of Doom or evil spell

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Trope
"Do you wanna see something really scary?"
Dan Akroyd, Twlight Zone: The Movie' '

Who IS this character? Why does he or she have the evil spell, which he won't directly use but gives away for money or out of some evil-spreading charity? This guy beckons people to step inside the haunted location or onto the dinosaur-infested island like it's his job. Or he is just a shopkeeper who holds the Artifact of Doom in his inventory and as much as he refuses to sell because he knows what it does (Or sells it half-price 'cause he has no clue), he put the artifact of doom out there, on display to be taken and might as well have given it to the Hero for Christmas for his role in the plot.

Not a villain, just has an evil thing in his inventory, middleman between it and the hero. They own it or purposely invite people to it, and are often odd, quirky, harmlessly creepy or otherwise interesting in their own right. They're the thing's merchant, salesperson or displayer.

This character goes in tandem with The Little Shop That Wasnt There Yesterday as the odd merchant. He holds onto the Artifact Of Doom until you ask for it, they hand out the evil spell or have demon summoning in their list of services. Or they invite people to come visit a stock horror setting, the Amusement Park Of Doom or Circus Of Fear. Horror's Thresh-hold Guardian waits at the front desk of the Hell Hotel or Inn Of No Return, or invites you into the haunted house they work in.

Compare Haunted House Historian, sometimes one and the same, though distinct. A Haunted House Historian knows about the place or thing, but doesn't necessarily preside over it. Horror's Thresh-hold Guardian oversees the place or thing in some fashion, and may be totally naive to its dark nature. His role is not exposition but to bring in fresh meat.

Meta

Anime and Manga

Film

  • In Pumpkinhead, the witch who holds the spell to resurrect the demon Pumpkinhead
  • In the movie Gravedancers, it's revealed at the end that a mysterious figure goes around leaving the poem inviting people to dance on graves by tombstones, so that more people will inadvertently summon angered spirits.
  • John Hammond in Jurassic Park creates the park and invites the rest of the main cast
  • Frederick Loren in House On Haunted Hill rents out a haunted house to invite a group of people to spend the night. Stephen Price is this in the 1999 remake of the same name.
  • Dr. David Marrow is closest to this character in The Haunting (1999)
  • Hellraiser: "What's your pleasure, sir?"

Live Action TV

  • Are You Afraid Of The Dark
    • Dr. Sardo is of the merchant variation. The sales woman of The Tale Of The Vacant Lot also qualifies
    • Dr. Vink plays this role in a couple episodes, giving away a haunted movie projector in The Tale of The Midnight Madness, and in The Tale Of The Dangerous Soup treads between middleman and actual villain when he locks people in a room for a gargoyle-like demon to harvest their fear
    • The creepy man who invites the children into the fun house in The Tale of Laughing In The Dark. "It's the most fun in the park . . . when you're laughing in the dark." It's his job to invite people in, though the kids only enter despite him, rather than because of him.
    • The "witch" and the old photographer that gave away the titular Twisted Claw and Curious Camera respectively
  • The shopkeeper in the Goosebumps episode The Haunted Mask is a reluctant example. The haunted masks were part of his forbidden inventory he didn't want to sell, but for some reason he had them all on display (albeit in a back room) like any other stock to catch Carly Beth's eye. It was part of his stock whether he liked it or not.
  • The Farscape episode "Picture If You Will" started with Chiana and Rygel visiting a curio shop on a commerce station, where Chiana is given a mysterious painting by the shopkeeper. Turns out there's more to that painting than immediately meets the eye....
  • Uncle Lewis from Friday The13th The Series was a knowing and intentionally-malign version.
  • The two elderly travel agents from the revival of Fantasy Island could be examples of this trope, at least for those episodes in which the client's experience was scary.

Literature

  • The shopkeeper in the Goosebumps book The Haunted Mask. See live action TV

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes that feature the Little Shop That Wasnt There Yesterday (Clown Without Pity and their monkey's paw parody in the first Halloween episode)
  • This character is parodied in Tiny Toon Adventures, in the Boo Ha Ha segment of Return to the Acme Acres Zone. A ghost dresses as the guy behind the desk in a haunted inn where he shows Plucky and Hampton the phone is dead, insists they stay the night and has them sign a book that than bursts into flames afterward. He then plays the bell boy and the spooks themselves.

Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • July 1, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Count D from Pet Shop Of Horrors definitely fits the archetype.
  • July 6, 2012
    Earnest
    Compare Haunted House Historian, sometimes one and the same.
  • July 6, 2012
    troacctid
    This sounds like it has a lot of overlap with Haunted House Historian. Are you sure it needs to be separate? What's the key distinction?

    Also, please fix the Example Indentation.
  • July 7, 2012
    Crocoshark
    How many of my examples would be considered a Haunted House Historian?

    I've added description of their distinction to my summary.

    Are the example indentations okay now?
  • July 13, 2012
    TBeholder
    Haunted House Historian may be a subtrope.

    Guardian of Danger? (after the song by Astras)
  • July 25, 2012
    abk0100
    "Do you wanna see something really scary?"
    Dan Akroyd, Twlight Zone: The Movie' '

    might make a good quote, even if it's not really an example
  • October 21, 2012
    Crocoshark
    Could people add more hats or imput or should I just try launching this?
  • October 28, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Better no launching yet - I don't see any difference between this and Haunted House Historian either.
  • October 28, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Film

    Hellraiser: "What's your pleasure, sir?"
  • October 28, 2012
    PhysicalStamina
    Typo:

    "just has an evil thing in his inventory"
  • October 28, 2012
    shimaspawn
    @ Septimus: Haunted House Historian is someone who launches into exposition about a creepy place. This is the inn keeper who advertises for people to come stay at his new inn but doesn't know there's a serial killer living in the floor.
  • November 1, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    I'm a bit loathe to be the one to suggest this but I think this trope is a type of Gatekeeper in The Heros Journey.

    I think the name is a bit unintuitive, though.
  • November 2, 2012
    Crocoshark
    You may be right, but I still think it's trope worthy though. And yeah it needs a better name.

    Horror's Thresh-hold Guardian?

    I'm changing the working title to that for now
  • November 14, 2012
    videogmer314
    The title should be spelled "Horror's Threshold Guardian".
  • December 5, 2012
    Crocoshark
    Done.
  • January 6, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    The Farscape episode "Picture If You Will" started with Chiana and Rygel visiting a curio shop on a commerce station, where Chiana is given a mysterious painting by the shopkeeper. Turns out there's more to that painting than immediately meets the eye....
  • January 8, 2013
    SharleeD
    • If genuinely-villainous examples are acceptable, then Uncle Lewis from Friday The13th The Series was a knowing and intentionally-malign version.

    • The two elderly travel agents from the revival of Fantasy Island could be examples of this trope, at least for those episodes in which the client's experience was scary.

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