[[caption-width-right:350:Ha! More like "Scary Illustrations to Haunt Your Childhood", am I right?]]

This trio of books is probably one of the most controversial series to hit American bookshelves. "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" is a trilogy of children's books written by Alvin Schwartz, made up of stories based on urban legends and local myths. These are the three volumes:

#Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981)
#More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984)
#Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991)

The series is geared towards extremely young audiences ([[WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids not that this stops the stories from being surprisingly violent]]), and while the stories may be scary for an eight-year old, older audiences will find them more cheesy than anything. Instead, what makes the books so scary (and [[MoralGuardians controversial]]) are the illustrations that accompany them. Using little more than black ink and water, Stephen Gammell has given us some of the most notoriously terrifying pictures you'll ever see in a book. So much so that the Scary Stories are on the American Library Association's list of most challenged books (ie, MoralGuardians demanding they be pulled from library shelves), being the number one most challenged book for over a decade.

Likely because of this controversy, Harper-Collins released ''Scary Stories'' and ''More Scary Stories'' in new editions with considerably less unnerving artwork by Brett Helquist (best known for his work on ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents''). There was a price spike (a high one!) when older editions were pulled from store shelves, but Scholastic Press, who released the books originally, still sells them with the original art. Hooray!

The stories were also collected and turned into a series of audiobooks with the same names. While they didn't contain any of the scary pictures from the books, the sometimes over-the-top telling of the stories could be a great replacement.

Soon to be a [[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/04/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-movie_n_4383335.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopularfrom feature length movie]] from CBS Films and the writers of the ''Saw'' franchise.

!!These books provide examples of:

* AdoringThePests: Subverted in "Sam's New Pet." After the family found out what it ''really'' was, it's unlikely they kept it.
* AlasPoorVillain: Addie Finch in "Such Things Happen." Even though she tried to ruin the protagonist's life with her spells, she was still at heart a lonely and grieving old woman who dearly loved her cat. The amount of agony she's put through is so much even the farmer starts to feel sorry for her.
* AllOfTheOtherReindeer: The nursing school in "The Dead Man's Hand." Apparently at this school, being nice and friendly and not having bad habits is a ''bad'' thing.
* AndIMustScream: "The Bride", in which the titular bride accidentally traps herself in a trunk and dies inside.
* AndThenJohnWasAZombie: The ending of "The Thing".
* AssholeVictim: Several examples, namely [[spoiler: the husband in "Just Delicious".]]
** The woman in "A New Horse", who puts innocent farmhands through the painful experience of being transformed into a horse and ridden at high speeds around the countryside. [[spoiler: While her comeuppance - being transformed into a horse, having horseshoes nailed into her hands and feet, and transforming back into a human, ''with the horseshoes still on'' - is quite painful and freaky, we don't feel too bad for her when it happens.]]
** Addie Fitch from "Such Things Happen." See DisproportionateRetribution below for details.
** Samuel Blunt in "Wonderful Sausage". A revolting butcher and SerialKiller who murders [[BadPeopleAbuseAnimals pets]], men, women, and [[WouldHurtAChild children]] alike and turns them into sausage meat, [[spoiler:he ends up killed by an angry mob when he's caught chasing a boy from his shop with a knife.]]
** Billy in "The Little Black dog". After killing a member of a rival family even after he pleaded to be spared and [[KickTheDog murdering his dog]] when it tries to console him, he is haunted by the dog's ghost until it ultimately kills him.
* BalefulPolymorph: "A New Horse", Throwing a [[TransformationTrinket magic bridle]] on someone transforms them into a horse. Fortunately for them, removing it changes them back.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: "What Do You Come For?". A lonesome old woman wishes for some company. [[spoiler: She gets a living corpse that comes down the chimney and (most likely) kills her.]]
* BittersweetEnding: In "The Bad News", both protagonists die, but they end up playing baseball in Heaven.
* BodyHorror: "The Red Spot". [[spoiler:An itchy spot turns out to have spiders pouring out of it.]]
* {{Bowdlerise}}: The new Brett Helquist illustrations are ''far'' tamer than Gammell's. [[http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/2011/12/18/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-gammell-vs-helquist/ This blog article]] compares some of them.
* BreakingAndBloodsucking: In "The Window", a girl sees a monster lurking out her window and she's too frightened to do anything. She unfortunately gives it the time to smash its way in, grab her, and bite into her throat. Her screams allow her brothers to save her and chase it off. [[PoliceAreUseless The police pass it off as an escaped lunatic who thinks he's a vampire]]. Months later, the vampire comes clawing at her window again, but she screams at the sight of it and her brothers are able to track and kill it.
* TheCakeIsALie: "The Drum" and "The Bed by the Window"
* TheCallsAreComingFromInsideTheHouse: The Babysitter
* CatGirl: "The Cat's Paw" has a truly macabre example.
* CruelTwistEnding: [[spoiler:"Bess".]]
* CrypticBackgroundReference: The creepy woman from "The Dream" saying that the house with the carpet shaped like trapdoors and the windows nailed shut is an evil place. We never learn why, and it appears to be part of a larger story that the protagonist is not meant to be part of. She leaves before we learn anything more.
* DarkerAndEdgier: ''Scary Stories 3''.
* DarkIsNotEvil: The strange woman in "The Dream" as well as (presumably) the creature from "Is Something Wrong?". Not that they're any less terrifying because of it, though.
** Then, of course, there's the ghost from "The Haunted House". The iconic illustration is horrific, but all she wants is her husband brought to justice and her death avenged.
* TheDeadCanDance: "Aaron Kelly's Bones".
* DeathByDespair: "Cold as Clay".
* DemBones: Skeletons make many appearances: "The Thing", "Aaron Kelly's Bones", "The Bad News", "Is Something Wrong", "What Do You Come For", whatever the hell that thing is in the sky in the illustration for "Oh Susannah" etc.
* DisproportionateRetribution: "Such Things Happen". As a poster on Website/YouTube put it, "Accidentally running over someone's cat is one thing. It's another thing entirely to kill a defenseless dog out of spite."
* DomesticAbuser: George Flint from "Just Delicious" is heavily implied to be abusive towards his wife, Mina. He's flat out stated to be [[{{Jerkass}} "a bully."]]
* DoomedNewClothes: The White Satin Evening Gown, although much more extreme than the trope normally calls for.
* DownerEnding: Quite a few stories.
* DueToTheDead: Many stories have characters meet a grisly end because they desecrated or stole from the dead.
* ElevatorFailure: The ending of [[spoiler:"Room For One More."]]
* EmpathicEnvironment: "Clinkity-Clink." As usually happens in these kinds of stories, a fearsome storm rolls in as the ghost of the dead woman goes looking for her stolen money.
* FaceFullOfAlienWingWong: "The Red Spot". Well, it's really "Face Full Of Spider Wing Wong", but it still applies.
* FalseReassurance: In "The Man in the Middle," one of the gangsters tells Jim, the eponymous man in the middle, that "You'll be fine." It turns out that Jim [[spoiler:has a deadly bullet wound in his head]].
* FamilyUnfriendlyViolence: For a children's book, the stories delve into the gore field quite frequently, one key example being "Wonderful Sausage".
* FauxAffablyEvil: Samuel Blunt of ''Wonderful Sausage'' is described as a "fat and jolly butcher". Said "fat and jolly butcher" kills people and grinds them into sausage to serve to his customers.
* FeralChild: The Wolf Girl.
* FlayingAlive: Happens to [[spoiler:Thomas]] in "Harold".
* TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou: What makes the [[NightmareFace illustration]] for "The Haunted House" so terrifying, as pointed out [[http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/2011/12/18/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-gammell-vs-helquist/ here]].
--> The ghost is looking at YOU. YOU are trapped in that creaky old house, staring down the empty, rotted eye sockets of some girl who was strangled by her lover.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: "Harold". Boy howdy.
* GoneHorriblyRight: The "Dead Man's Hand" story is all about medical students trying to play a scary prank on their apparently unshakeable colleague. They manage to reduce her into a nervous wreck instead.
-->"The prank had worked...but nobody was laughing."
* GovernmentConspiracy: More like a local government conspiracy, but this is what happens in "Maybe You Will Remember..."
* TheGrimReaper: Appears as a character in 'The Appointment.' Nobody really bats an eyelash at him unless he beckons to them, but he seems [[DontFearTheReaper a pretty cool guy]].
* GrotesqueGallery: Every picture in the series counts, but "The Haunted House" and "The Dream" especially.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: The ghost in "The Dream" may well be cringe-inducing to look at, but to be fair, she did save the girl in the story from some unknown gruesome fate, so...
** The truck driver in "High Beams" is a straight example.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: In "A New Horse" the witch's method of turning men into horses backfires ''gruesomely.''
** Though never shown or stated, the ending to "Wonderful Sausage" heavily implies that [[spoiler:vengeful townsfolk grind up Samuel Blunt after discovering the secret behind how the title objects were being made.]]
* ImAHumanitarian: "Wonderful Sausage".
* InsistentTerminology: For some reason, the story (and also the characters) keep calling [[TitleDrop Harold]] a doll instead of a scarecrow.
* JumpScare: In the film version of "Clinkety Clink" it SEEMS like that story would end with the old woman's ghost being unable to find her two silver dollars. But then... fade to black... two second pause... [[spoiler: "'''''YOU'VE GOT IT!'''''" (scream)]]
** It's invoked in the book version - it's meant to be read out loud, and requires the reader to do the same to the audience, complete with grabbing someone.
** Inverted in "The Attic". The reader has to scream as loud as they can at the end, and end the story there. At least someone in the audience will ask why they screamed - the reader then explains [[spoiler:you'd scream at the top of your lungs, too, [[MunDanger if you stepped on a nail.]]]]
* LighterAndSofter: The last story is always a lighter version of the first story. The second book's end portion had a comedic collection of the supernatural.
* MamaBear: Addie Fitch must've ''really'' loved her cat. Of course, it may have been [[{{Familiar}} more]] than just a cat to [[AllWitchesHaveCats her]].
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Part of the setting for "Such Things Happen."
* {{MegaNeko}}: In "Wait 'till Martin comes", there are three black cats, one normal sized, another cat the size of a wolf, and still another the size of a tiger. [[spoiler: None of those cats are Martin, leading to the suspicion that "Martin" is the size of an elephant]]
* MindScrew: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfdz4kemwBM "A Man Who Lived in Leeds"]]. The film version does this as well, in a VERY messed up way.
** Mr. Gammell somehow manages to pull off a few in the illustrations. Stare at "The White Satin Evening Gown", "The Black Dog", "The Ghost in the Mirror" and "The Trouble", and especially "Oh Susannah" for a good five minutes.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERLaA8qSE1Q&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL "The Church"]], both in the book and the film version. [[spoiler: Hands up, who expected sheep?]]
* MistakenForDog: [[spoiler:In "Sam's New Pet", Sam's parents adopt what they believe to be an exotic breed of dog called a Mexican Hairless. Turns out it's a sewer rat. With rabies.]]
* MoodWhiplash: "Faster and Faster." It starts with two young boys having fun in the woods, and then the supernatural stuff rears its ugly head.
** The books themselves - all of the volumes have a collection of humorous stories near the end, ranging from terrible puns, black comedy, or hilarious subversions of the usual endings.
* MundaneSolution: Thomas considers [[KillItWithFire setting Harold on fire]] after the scarecrow [[ItCanThink starts grunting]]. Alfred [[IgnoredEpiphany considers it too rash an idea]].
* NightmareFace: Oh yeah. Made even worse by the NightmareFuel-rific illustrating style depicting them.
* NoEnding: The story about the severed hand in the closet. See fuller discussion in the NoEnding page.
** "The Attic". The story ends with Rupert screaming [[spoiler: after stepping on a nail in his barefeet]] and we never find out what was making noise in the titular attic. [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse Also, he never found his dog, which went missing at the start.]]
* NothingIsScarier: What "The Voice" turns out to be, and "Footsteps" as well. "Sounds" might count, although it's subverted toward the end.
** "The Curse" might also count. We never do find out exactly what happened to the boys who went into the house.
** In "The Dream" we never find out the identity of the mysterious woman or why the place is supposedly evil.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: In "The Window", the vampire is a hideous creature with CreepyLongFingers that can [[BreakingAndBloodsucking break into houses without an invitation]], and sleeps in a burial vault.
* ParentalAbandonment: "The Drum" gives us one of the worst possible examples of this at the end.
** DisproportionateRetribution: Even after the mom gave the girls one more chance, she ''still'' abandoned them. Boy, that lady has trust issues.
* PetTheDog: George actually gets one in "Just Delicious!". It's too bad that it comes at an inopportune moment.
-->'''George''': ''(unknowingly eating the liver of a deceased old woman)'' Have some liver, Mina! It's [[TitleDrop just delicious!]]\\
'''Mina''': I'm... not hungry, you finish it.
* ReptilesAreAbhorrent: "Alligators" (with the added twist that [[spoiler: the titular 'gators are actually the protagonist's transformed husband and sons]]), and "Bess" (in which [[spoiler: the protagonist is fatally bitten by a snake.]])
* RiseOfZitboy: "The Red Spot" mostly consists of the protagonist complaining about the disgusting, itching, hurting and growing spider bite - which is basically a zit - on her cheek. However, it turns out to be ''[[BodyHorror much]]'' worse than just a zit...
* RodentsOfUnusualSize: [[spoiler:"Sam's New Pet". Apparently it was the size of a ''dog.'']]
* ScaryScarecrows: The eponymous "Harold", also provides the page image.
* ShaggyDogStory: In "The Baby Sitter", when the girl learns that [[spoiler: the calls are coming from upstairs, she simply calls the police and leaves and the man is arrested.]] The end.
* ShownTheirWork: Most definitely. Each book ends with a comprehensive collection of sources, references, times, dates and locations. Of course, there are plenty of mistakes in those lists. See the YMMV page for details.
* SpidersAreScary: "The Red Spot". Gammell's illustration is horrific, natch.
* SwampsAreEvil: "The Dead Hand"
* TemptingFate: In "The Bride," the eponymous bride cleverly whispers to herself "They'll never find me there." [[DownerEnding Turns out she was right]].
** "Bess" starts with horse raiser John Nicholas going to a fortune teller who tells him that his favorite horse will be the reason behind his death. John is unconvinced and laughs the idea off. [[spoiler:At the ending, said favorite horse has been put down and reduced to bone. John gets fatally bitten by a rattlesnake who had living inside the horse's skull.]]
* TomatoInTheMirror: "Something Was Wrong"
* UnusuallyUninterestingSight: "Aaron Kelly's Bones". Features a widow's husband rising from the grave because he doesn't feel dead enough to die. In whatever universe this story takes place in, the rising dead are apparently nothing special, with the characters more annoyed than anything that this corpse insists on living. How that dead man danced...
** Also 'The Appointment', where the Grim Reaper just kind of... hangs around the town and people seem more annoyed by him than anything else.
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: [[spoiler:"Alligators"]]
** [[spoiler:"The Cat's Paw"]]
* {{Wendigo}}: Well, "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Wendigo]]", even though in the Sources section in the back, Alvin Scwartz makes it [[CultureChopSuey sound more like a Greek mythological Siren than an evil spirit of cannibalism]]. This is because the story is an altered version of Creator/AlgernonBlackwood's 1910 short story "The Wendigo", which doesn't much resemble the original folklore either.
* WickedWitch: Addie Fitch in "Such Things Happen." [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane Maybe]].
* WildChild: "The [[RaisedByWolves Wolf]] Girl".
* TheWildHunt: "Faster and Faster".
* YouCantFightFate: "Bess" and "The Appointment".
** This trope is somewhat in effect in [[spoiler:"The Dream". After the eponymous nightmare, the girl in the story can't bring herself to visit the town she originally intended, so she visits an alternate village instead. Guess who she meets in this new town? That's right, that bloody pale woman.]]


[[caption-width-right:350:[[NightmareFuel/ScaryStoriesToTellInTheDark Bo]][[TheStinger o!]]]]