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Series: Are You Afraid of the Dark?
If not, you're about to be!

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a children's horror show made by YTV in Canada and aired on Nickelodeon in the US. The pilot of the show was broadcast on October 31, 1990. The original show lasted from August, 1991 to April, 1996. The show was then revived in February, 1999 and lasted until June, 2000.

The story revolved around a club of teenagers called the "Midnight Society" who meet around a campfire in the woods once a week to tell horror stories. Each of the members had their own quirk and storytelling style; one specialized in fairy-tale like stories, one specialized in Trapped in Another World stories. The show was just your typical Speculative Fiction/horror anthology series like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt for the early teen set.

The nature of the show's scariness can be likened to R.L. Stine's Goosebumps novels (Stine's books themselves were later adapted into a TV series as well), only more well-developed in story and characterization and with legitimately scary content. Creative plots, readiness to completely eschew formula, and genuinely frightening imagery more than made up for the limited budgets. "AYAOTD" introduced many a child of the 90s to some of their first Horror Tropes, not to mention Sci-Fi and the occasional dose of Kafka.

While the original Midnight Society went through a few new additions and farewells over the seasons, a drastic change came when a new production team picked up after a three year gap in new episodes. The entire cast was replaced except for Tucker, the previous leader Gary's little brother, who now led the new Midnight Society. The entire flavor of the stories also changed, becoming less creepy and surprising, and more about leading up to an Anvilicious Aesop. This Re Tool lasted all of a year.

The show also had a tie-in video game, The Tale of Orpheo's Curse, released in 1994. It was a DOS-based point-and-click adventure game (think Myst, but with more character interaction). The framing device is that you are a potential new member of the Midnight Society telling a story to gain admittance; the actual game is the story, about a brother and sister stuck in a haunted theater, trying to break the curse on the place before they end up as the next victims.

No description of the series would be complete without mentioning its terrifying opening credits sequence. If you grew up watching the show, chances are there was a time when you or a sibling would run from the room within seconds of it turning up on the TV screen.

This show provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: One big enough to house an entire family in "The Tale of the Silver Sight".
  • Adults Are Useless: The amount of adults that aren't the villain or victim and actually contribute in a meaningful way can pretty much be counted on one hand.
    • One of the aversions appears in "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float," where an old janitor saves the episode's protagonists from being drowned in the pool by the Monster of the Week. It turns out that he used to be the lifeguard back when the pool first opened, and the little brother of his then-girlfriend drowned on his watch — he tried to save the kid, but the monster pulled him away. Of course, he then goes into a state of shock when the monster reveals itself in horrifying fashion in the climax of the episode, but given the past trauma this thing inflicted on him, that's understandable. And he comes charging in at the last second to save one of the protagonists again, giving the other one the chance to hit the monster with the chemical mix that ends up destroying it once and for all.
  • Aerith and Bob: One thing the show is frequently teased about is the fact that some of the names they gave the kids in the stories were downright weird. Some of the more strange names included Weegee, Dayday, Clorice, Jam, Perch, Rush, Jersey, Koda, and Bostick. Maybe they were more popular in Canada.
    • To be fair, some of those were nicknames — Rush was short for Russell, and I think we can assume Weegee was a derivative of Luigi.
  • Afterlife Express: The radio station in "109.1".
  • Alien Among Us: "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" and possibly "The Tale of the Hatching".
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Of all the different types of creatures that appeared in the stories, vampires were always evil on the show. Witches, as well, were usually evil and deadly, although good witches appeared in "The Tale of the Badge" (and arguably Miss Clove in the pilot was just playing a game.)
  • Ambiguously Gay: Sardo. Just look at him: Earrings, effeminate mannerisms, high voice, quasi-obsessive tidiness...Everything about him screams of Camp Gay.
  • And I Must Scream: Several examples, including Susan in "The Doll Maker" (until Melissa found her), Karin at the end of "The Thirteenth Floor" (she literally has no mouth and is stuck in a suspended animation-type state, although her species doesn't seem to need a mouth to communicate), Ross at the end of "Pinball Wizard" (trapped in the pinball game), and Cutter in "Cutter's Treasure" as Cutter's punishment of eternal life stuck guarding his treasure.
  • Artifact of Doom: The clown's nose in "The Laughing in the Dark", the titular Twisted Claw, the Curious Camera.
  • Artistic License Statistics: In "The Tale of the Zombie Dice", the shop owner and the kids play a 'game' where you roll 2 dice, each with 1 skull on it, 3 times (6 die rolls), and if one skull appears, the roller loses. While the shop owner does agree to roll the dice instead when the protagonist asks him to, neither of them acknowledge (and most likely the writers didn't realize) that the game is NOT fair. If you roll 6 dice, your chances of getting a specific side on any of them is 66.49% — meaning that BY DESIGN, the roller loses about 2 out of 3 times. Since he set the game up presumably knowing those odds, the shop owner should have been a LOT more reluctant to roll the dice.
  • Art Initiates Life: Inverted in "The Tale of the Unfinished Painting", as Mrs. Briar traps her students inside her paintings once they are finished with them. The only way to free her students from her paintings is to destroy the paintbrushes they had used to finish them.
    • Also inverted in "The Tale of Oblivion", when a boy has some charcoal and an eraser, nothing happens when he draws something, but when he erases it, it goes to a pocket dimension called "Oblivion". It even works if he just writes the name of something and then erases it. For example, to prove it to his sister Shelly, he writes "Shelly's Underpants", then erases those words. The boy travels to Oblivion to retrieve something important, and finds out his magic writing tools were once used as weapons against those who sought to abuse their power.
  • Asshole Victim: Coda from "The Tale Of The Dark Music"
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever
  • Bad Dreams: In the "Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle", where the main character has recurrent nightmares of his friend's death.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Happened with many episodes, including "Super Specs", "Pinball Wizard", and most (in)famously, "Chameleons".
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: They just might get it, in "Final Wish" or perhaps "Misfortune Cookie".
  • Betty and Veronica: In the episode "The Tale of the Dark Dragon", when it comes to Shelly being the Archie, Keith/KC is the Betty and Gary is the Veronica. However, later it turns out that when Keith is the Archie, Shelly is the Veronica and Mariah is the Betty.
    • When it comes to the Midnight Society: Samantha is the Archie, Gary (the leader, very calm and composed) is the Betty, and Frank (impulsive, loud, foil to Gary) is the Veronica.
  • The Blank: "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor", "The Tale of Many Faces".
  • Brown Note: On "The Tale Of The Closet Keepers" the villains have sound based weapons that hurt/kill you if you hear them. However, the main character is a deaf girl and thus immune to it
  • Catch Phrase: Sardo has two: "It's Sar-DO. No mister, accent on the 'do." and "All right, but I'm losing on the deal." The second one gets lampshaded in one episode, when an old acquaintance of Sardo gives him a box containing a genie for free and says "For once Sardo, you really are losing on the deal."
    • Dr. Vink has "It's Vink, with a vah-vah-vah" and "I am not a nutbag." He often busts out the second one even when no one calls him a nutbag.
    • Gary declares each meeting closed at the end of the episode with the same phrase, and of course all of the society members introduce that week's episode with the trademark phrase: "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story..."
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The plot of The Tale of Station 109.1 involves by none other than Gilbert Gottfried.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the episode "The Tale of the Hatching", the school's principal goes berserk when Augie's watch starts beeping with a high-pitched sound. Augie notices that the tones used for class changes have a range of frequencies — but that they are all rather low. Another boy gets into trouble for playing a video game. Augie plays a tape with a high pitched sound in order to destroy the eggs, since he realized that the eggs and creatures disliked high-frequency sounds.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Curious Camera and The Super Specs in the episodes of the same name.
  • Computer Virus: The primary antagonist in "The Tale of the Renegade Virus". Also, just as the story ends, his hand grasps the edge of the trash bin, which means he somehow got out into the real world.
  • Cool Old Lady: The two aunts in "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost".
  • Creepy Child: Several, but the Waif Kid from "The Tale of the Silver Sight" is particularly memorable.
  • Creepy Doll: In "The Tale of the Doll Maker".
  • Dead All Along: Multiple examples as a twist, but the most famous one is "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran".
  • Diabolus Ex Machina
  • Disability Superpower: An odd variation that doubles as a Chekhov's Skill. In "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner," Hooper, the nerdy girl who befriends Ethan, explains early on that she "doesn't have much of a sense of humor." Later, when the Grinner captures her and tries to use his powers to turn her into a mindless, giggling idiot, he is shocked to discover that his ability doesn't work on her, and she repeats her statement about not having a sense of humor.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: Danny hates being called "Danielle" in "The Tale of the Captured Souls".
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Played with in "The Tale of Station 109.1." The station was a set-up to give ghosts that somehow got stuck on Earth a way to cross over to the afterlife. A couple of the people seen are terrified and forced to go in, but an old man that had been looking for "home" welcomes the opportunity. The station manager Roy (played by Gilbert Gottfried) explains why:
    "It's only horrible if you've led a bad life. If you led a good life, it's the best thing goin'."
  • Downer Ending: Quite a few, but "The Tale of the Chameleons" especially. It should be noted that most episodes had (somewhat) happy endings. Not that it didn't play with the idea. In "The Tale of the Dark Music", after the monster in the basement eats the neighborhood bully, he gives the protagonist a new bicycle (said bully had previously thrown his old one under a street sweeper). The monster then says that he'll give the protagonist anything he desires as long as he keeps feeding him people. This is considered a happy ending, even though the final scene is him smiling evilly as his annoying little sister is shouting at him. (The epilogue undercut with the narrator saying he didn't actually feed her to the monster, only put a good scare in her. No one believed it.)
  • Drinking Game: In "Zombie Dice," Jay Baruchel's character defeats the villain in a G-rated version of one.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In "The Tale of the Twisted Claw," the Midnight Society appear noticeably and startlingly younger than in the previous episodes. This, of course, is because "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" was the pilot, shot a year before production on the original series. When the first season aired it became episode number four (presumably to account for Frank's presence at the meeting). Gary mentions a "lights out" time in the open, suggesting that the original show concept was for the kids to be staying at a summer camp.
    • Also the first season has a few things happen that are out of place with the formula of later episodes. One opens with the very end of a story, segueing into the start of another. "Laughing in the Dark" opens as the story does and only shows the Midnight Society when Kristen interrupts Betty Ann. "Super Specs" also shows a scene with Gary and Kristen during the day in his father's store. All episodes eventually kept the formula of the kids meeting up for an introduction and then the story. Also the first two seasons cut back to the Midnight Society in the middle of the stories each episode while later seasons only show them at the start and the end.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Some episodes ended in this way.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Gremlin in "The Tale of the Curious Camera." It's an entity within an old-fashioned camera that destroys, kills, or causes misfortune on whoever it shoots. It can hop between cameras, take direct control of machines, and eventually possesses a computer.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Belle the genie in "The Time Trap" may be a Jackass Genie who was behind the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic (because someone wanted to go on an exciting vacation), the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens (because a boy didn't want to go on a camping trip), and the events leading to World War I (because a reporter wanted an exciting story), but she didn't cause World War II...though she does admire the work that went into it.
  • Eyeless Face: The Keeper in "The Tale of the Wisdom Glass".
    • Even creepier are the aliens in "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor", who have no facial features whatsoever.
  • Fairest of Them All: "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror".
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard". Deconstructed in "The Tale of the Final Wish" where Kristen brings a book of fairy tales in their original versions and tells her story accordingly.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: The introductory speeches given before starting every story.
  • Five-Man Band: The Midnight Society
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: A common setup for the stories, since siblings were frequently involved.
    • When it comes to the Midnight Society, Tucker was the Foolish Sibling to Gary's Responsible Sibling as well.
  • Foreshadowing: In "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran". All the Hide-And-Seekers wore the same clothes the second time they see the main characters. It's because they are all Dead All Along.
    • In "The Tale of the Dark Music", the mother mentions that the recently-deceased Uncle had never left the house yet made a fortune (pre-Internet days, at that). The reason why is explained by the ending.
  • Fountain of Youth/Vampiric Draining: In "The Tale of the Captured Souls", Peter uses his secret laboratory's mechanism to drain the souls of visitors and kill them by Rapid Aging in order for him to stay young and alive forever. And he is even attempting to kill off Danny and her parents Doug and Sally with the same mechanism.
  • Framing Device: The entire series was a bunch of kids telling stories around a campfire.
  • Free-Range Children: Many of the adventures of the story wouldn't be possible if parents kept better track of their kids. Plus, the Midnight Society apparently having permission to wander into the woods late at night.
  • Gainax Ending: The final scene of the last episode, where it is shown that Gary's grandfather was telling "The Tale of the Silver Sight" to that generation's Midnight Society. Did the events of those episodes really happen, or was it just shown with familiar characters and a modern setting we know for our convenience? He could not have possibly known all the names of the Midnight Society members yet to come or that he'd have grandchildren for sure.
    • Given the nature of the show, he could've known.
  • Genre Savvy: "The Tale of the Bookish Babysitter".
  • Girl Next Door: Kristen, then Sam, and finally Megan filled this type of role in the Midnight Society.
  • Grand Finale: "The Tale of the Silver Sight", also the only episodes to have the Midnight Society as the characters in the main plot.
  • Headless Horseman: "The Tale of the Midnight Ride".
  • Helpless Good Side: David Lee, in "The Tale of the Misfortune Cookie". When he unmasks the warrior who has been after him, he discovers his own face underneath.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: In "The Tale of the Vacant Lot", Marie wanted Catherine's ring, but she couldn't give it to her since she values it so much. But in the end, to spare her sister the curse she decided to give Marie her ring saying it doesn't mean anything to her anymore. Once Marie got the ring, the curse on both Catherine and her sister were lifted. And Marie is forced back into her position again. As Catherine told her sister, "she wanted too much".
  • Horror Anthology
  • Honest John's Dealership: Mr. Sardo.
    • "It's Sardo. No mister, accent on the 'doh'!"
    • Played with in "The Tale of the Vacant Lot", which crosses it with The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. You can buy anything you need from it, but if you don't have the money to pay for it, the proprietor will take something else in exchange. She steals the protagonist's outer and inner beauty, turning her from an kind, attractive girl into a hideous Jerkass. Don't worry, she gets better at the end.
  • "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": In "The Tale of the Dream Girl", Johnny trips on a gravestone after being startled by his sister Erica. He sees that it belongs to the girl Donna. Erica asked if he was sure it's hers. Johnny is positive, she's the only Donna Maitland. Erica asked how did he know it would even be there. Johnny said he didn't. But Erica believes deep down he already knew. Since he was Donna's boyfriend, and they were both killed by the train.
  • Hypno Trinket: In "The Tale of the Hungry Hounds," a girl finds a horse-riding jacket worn by her aunt that possesses her into feeding the dogs that she left to starve when she died.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "The Tale of the... (subject here)".
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Felix is on the receiving end of this speech in "Tale of the Night Shift."
  • Informed Flaw: Kiki makes a lot of jibes at Kristen, referring to her as "Miss Perfect" and saying things like "she's worried about breaking a nail" — implying Kristen is some kind of Alpha Bitch. This is at complete odds with Kristen's actual personality and just makes Kiki seem like a Jerkass.
  • Initiation Ceremony: In order to join the Midnight Society, the initiate is given a "trial" session where s/he has to tell a sufficiently scary story. After the story, the current members of the Midnight Society all vote on whether or not to invite the new member to join; in order to be accepted, the vote must be unanimous.
    • In fact, the tie-in game The Tale of Orpheo's Curse is actually about one big initiation ceremony, since you're playing a potential new member, and the Tale of Orpheo's Curse is the story you're telling to prove you have what it takes to be part of the society. Notably, you don't get accepted unless you end the story with both protagonists surviving, which obviously means you have to win the game. However, if you get a "game over", you don't get kicked out; instead, one of the other members of the Midnight Society will just give a dismissive "That's it?!" and then give you advice on how you can make the story better (which translates to a walkthrough hint).
  • Insistent Terminology: That's SarDO. No 'mister', accent on the 'do'. Lampshaded in one of the later episodes where someone actually says his name right, and he launches into the correction anyway, stopping short with surprised when he realized someone pronounced his name right.
  • Internal Homage: Zeebo the Monster Clown is apparently the writing team's favorite character: in later episodes, "zeeb" is a common insult, people reference his carnival ride and such. Heck, the guy even has a couple of video games dedicated to him in-universe. Interestingly, almost every single one of these Call Backs come from a different writer.
  • It Is Not Your Time: In "The Tale of Station 109.1", the hooded ones take Chris to the afterlife after his brother Jamie and the homeless old man (Daniel Carpenter, whom Chris is mistaken for all along) arrive too late to save him. Fortunately, it is discovered that the hooded ones realize that the little boy is too young and that it is, indeed, not his time to die, so they toss him back out alive.
  • Just Woke Up That Way: "The Tale of the Hunted", in which after a girl named Diana finds a necklace in the woods and has a strange dream about a wolf known as The Blaze, ends up in the body of a wolf to learn what it feels like to be hunted down like an animal.
  • Kick the Dog: Of the 80 victims that Peter (Season 1, Episode 7) killed with his life-draining machine... 10 of them were dogs.
  • Large Ham: The Sandman and Roy
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Betty Ann herds away the rest of the club when Gary and Sam are having a moment at the end of "The Tale of the Night Shift."
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: "Sardo's Magic Mansion" was a recurring setting in several episodes. Unlike many examples of this trope, however, Sardo did not appear to make the magical items in his shop, or often that he was ever even aware that he was selling anything that was actually magical.
    • Also appeared in "The Tale of the Vacant Lot," a Deal with the Devil episode, where the more magic stuff a girl bought from the owner, the uglier she became.
    • The toy factory in "The Thirteenth Floor".
  • Mad Artist: Vink takes this role often in his appearances. In "The Tale of the Midnight Madness," he's a mad filmmaker who, when the manager of a theater he's helped immensely refuses to give him one night each week to show his films, brings the vampire in one of his films to life to get revenge. In "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup," he's a mad Supreme Chef who uses a magic statue to scare people and turn their fear into a liquid he uses as the key ingredient in his soup.
  • Making Use of the Twin: "The Tale of the Chameleons" which gives its protagonist a clone impersonator, uses identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry.
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: In the episode "The Tale of the Hunted", while on a hunting trip, Diana gets turned into a wolf. Her father sees her wolf self in her cabin and assumes she killed her. Diana evades the hunting posse until the transformation wears off.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: In "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror", the antagonist is an old witch/beauty shop owner who uses illusions to maintain the appearance of youth, but mirrors reveal her true age. When the protagonist investigates the witch's house after her friends who work at the shop go missing, she realizes something is wrong when she can't find any mirrors in the house.
    • Also, in "The Tale of the Captured Souls", Peter avoids mirrors or getting his picture taken by a camera. Danny (the heroine) soon finds out through the mirror monitors in his secret laboratory that he is really 100 years old and that he has killed off visitors by Rapid Aging using the laboratory's Vampiric Draining mechanism.
  • Misfortune Cookie: One episode, "The Tale of the Misfortune Cookie" takes this trope literally. David Lee, a young Chinese-American who is dissatisfied with his family's lifestyle and longs for fame and fortune as a comic book author, opens a special fortune cookie from his father's restaurant. The fortune cookie promises him "perfect living within imperfect living" and transports him to an Alternate Universe where everything he's ever wanted is his. But even though he has the fame and fortune he desired, he's now estranged from his family and has no friends.
  • Monster Clown: Zeebo the Clown and the Crimson Clown. Although neither of them were really going after the protagonists for kicks: Zeebo just wanted his nose back after it was stolen, and left the kid alone after he gave it back and apologized, while the Crimson Clown was simply scaring his kid straight.
    • The Ghastly Grinner, an evil jester who stares into people's eyes and leaves them grinning, drooling idiots.
  • More Than Mind Control: In "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror", Ms. Valenti uses the titular device to entrance her beauties showing them their desires to be beautiful. Cindy is able to defeat her by having a purer heart and just wanting her friends back.
    • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: She tries to hypnotize Cindy with the mirror as it will show her heart's desire, assuming it is to be beautiful like Laurel and Vicky. Instead the mirror shows Cindy how to stop her — by throwing it on the fire.
  • Motifs: Almost all of the kids in the Midnight Society have recurring themes in their stories. Here they are, as follows:
    • Betty Ann tends to tell stories about supernatural creatures either breaking into our world, or dragging the main character into theirs.
    • David tends to tell stories about what happens if you don't resolve unpleasant past events or deal with the evil inside people in the present.
    • Eric had only two full stories before leaving, but his Irish ancestry inspired him to tell a leprechaun story.
    • Gary's stories usually feature magical or cursed objects and the dangerous effects they have on people. Also, Gary keeps using the character of Sardo, the wannabe magician who owns Sardo's Magic Mansion ("That's Sar-DOH! No Mister, accent on the do!").
    • Kiki tends to tell stories about the dangers of being careless or deceitful, and warning against letting history repeat itself. She also tends to feature people of color and athletes to a greater extent than the others do.
    • Kristen tells a lot of "unfinished business" stories about ghosts who need mortals to help them complete their business.
    • Sam tells mostly love stories, particularly love that lasts from beyond the grave.
    • Stig only told two stories, but both were about outsiders being judged based on appearance or tastes.
    • Tucker tends to tell stories involving frayed family relationships that later mend, and in his stories the villain tends to appear because someone released him by accident.
  • Multi-Part Episode: "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure" and "The Tale of the Silver Sight".
  • Mythology Gag: Zeebo The Clown appears in Betty Ann's story "Laughing in the Dark". Characters in her other stories reference Zeebo a few times.
  • Nephewism: A large number of the protagonists were either living with aunts, uncles, and grandparents or visiting for the weekend, summer, holiday, etc. Used as a way for the kid to stumble into the episode's inherent weirdness without having people wonder why they had lived beside it for years and not noticed it before.
  • Never Split the Party
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Everyone in the Midnight Society to a certain extent, but Betty Ann in particular.
  • Nineties Anti-Hero: "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner".
  • No Immortal Inertia: "The Tale of the Captured Souls" (Season 1 Episode 7) features a Big Bad named Peter who uses a machine to take life force from other people (and even animals) to stave off the effects of aging. The protagonist saves her parents by sabotaging his lab and giving back the life force he took from them, ultimately forcing him to spend his last remaining moments as a helpless, lonely old man.
  • Older Than They Look: Peter from "The Tale of the Captured Souls".
    • Also, Candy Warren at the end of "The Tale of Locker 22".
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Some of them really are. You have the "Fire Ghost" and the "Frozen Ghost", for instance.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • In "The Night Shift," a vampire need only awaken and feed once every fifty years or so. The vampire's weakness is his coffin; destroying it will destroy the vampire itself.
    • "The Midnight Madness" features a standard vampire with a twist: He magically steps out of a print of Nosferatu. "The Nightly Neighbors" suggests the usual Hollywood vampires throughout; the twist there is of an entirely different sort.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In "The Tale of the Full Moon," the werewolf is actually a harmless man living with a unique disability. The moon has no effect on his transformation...which makes the episode's title rather curious. Also, in addition to silver, his weakness is red roses. Don't ask us.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Judy "Dee Dee" Larson wears one in The Reveal in "The Tale of the Prom Queen".
  • Poor Communication Kills: The aliens in "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had told Karin she was an alien early on instead of waiting until after they were forced to leave the planet.
  • Portal Book: Appears in "The Tale of the Bookish Baby-sitter" and "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner."
  • The Power of Rock: Invoked in "The Tale of the Hatching".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The actors of the original series all left to go to college (which was written in the series), which is why the later episodes have new people (except for Gary's brother, Tucker).
  • Recurring Character: "Sardo" and "Dr. Vink" were the pet characters of their particular Midnight Society storyteller, so whenever their turn came up there was a good chance you'd see them put in an appearance. "Sardo" was Gary's pet character, and "Dr. Vink" was Frank's pet character. If you'd been paying attention, then, the implications of a story Gary and Frank announce had been a collaborative effort were immediately apparent.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Gary is the Blue Oni to both his younger brother Tucker and his friend Frank.
  • Rewriting Reality: "The Tale of the Dream Machine."
  • Running Gag: Vink, not Fink — with a "va-va-va." And he is not a nutbag. (As he is fond of reminding people, whether or not they have called him a nutbag.)
    • Any one of Vink's, erm, endeavors is called The Wild Boar.
    • Subverted in "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure". Rush, the boy lead, calls him Dr. Vink (instead of Dr. Fink, like every other episode) the first time, and even Vink has caught on that everyone thinks he's a nutbag.
      • Interesting that the one time he actually helps a protagonist is when the protagonist gets his name right on the first try.
    • Also, it's "Sar-DOH"! No Mr., accent on the "do". And he's losing on the deal!
      • Have you sampled his vomit?
  • Samus is a Girl: Used for Sam's introduction to the Midnight Society.
  • Scary Black Man: The title character of "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure" is without a doubt one of the most intimidating villains in the entire show. Especially impressive, considering that, despite being a ghost, unlike many of the show's big nasties he looks perfectly human.
  • Scary Librarian: The "Quiet Librarian", who sucks sound into a magic box (including human voices).
  • Secret Keeper: In "The Tale of the Dream Girl", Erica knew her brother Johnny is a ghost, and was the only one who can see him.
  • Secret Police: The ones in "The Tale of the Phone Police".
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Didi in "The Tale of the Prom Queen" when she reveals that she is the ghost of Judy Larson.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Many examples, e.g. "Pinball Wizard": "Enjoy your free games, you'll be playing them FOREVER! BWAHAHAHAHA!"
  • Shout-Out: "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society" is a direct reference to The Twilight Zone, in which stories were always "submitted for your approval."
    • The high speed tracking shot used in "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost" is possibly an homage to the Evil Dead movies.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Features in many stories, especially in stories by Gary and Tucker, who also demonstrate the trope.
  • Spooky Photographs: "The Tale of the Curious Camera".
  • Spot the Imposter: Notably subverted in the "Tale of the Chameleons" when it is revealed that Janice's best friend made the wrong choice.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Waif Kid from "The Tale of the Silver Sight" is very fond of doing this.
  • Taken for Granite: "The Tale of the Stone Maiden".
  • This Is Reality
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: In "The Tale of the Long-Ago Locket", a love-torn teen named Jimmy finds himself in a Revolutionary battle. He helps a minuteman escape the clutches of the Britons and reach Harrisville to deliver a locket to his love.
  • Title Drop: Before telling "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup," Frank has every member reveal their greatest fear. When it's his turn, he says, "It's no secret — I'm afraid of the dark."
  • Tomato in the Mirror
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Vange (tomboy) and Megan (girly-girl) in the last two seasons. The earlier episodes had Kiki as a tomboy but her two other female contemporaries Betty Ann and Kristen (later Sam) weren't that girly.
  • Trial of the Mystical Jury: "The Tale of the Wisdom Glass".
  • The Trickster, drifting into Magnificent Bastard: Dr. Vink.
  • Twist Ending: You better believe it.
  • Unfinished Business
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: In "The Tale of the Jagged Sign", Marjorie tells about her relationship with Joshua. After his demise, she vowed that she would never love anyone else. And when her time comes, she goes to a better place, knowing she will always be with the only one she has ever loved.
  • Vain Sorceress: Two of them. First "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror" where she turns young girls into dogs to steal their youth and beauty. Then "The Tale of Many Faces" where a theater actress steals the faces of all her own performers and wears them as masks.
  • We Need a Distraction
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup" starts with the Midnight Society confessing their worst fears, including heights, dogs, birds, and, yes, the darkness.
  • Wicked Witch: Multiple episodes featured one as the villain, notably Miss Clove in the pilot and the witch in the "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard".
  • Would Hurt a Child: In "The Tale of the Captured Souls", of the 80 victims that Peter has killed using his Vampiric Draining mechanism, there were 34 children! And he is bound to add Danny to the list of the children!
    • Let's face it, this show would be way less scary if this trope weren't frequently in play.
  • You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost
  • Your Head Asplode: In "The Tale of the Hatching", when Augie plays the music at a rather high frequency, it makes the Mother alien's head explode all over them.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup".

The video game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: A vaudeville theatre.
  • And I Must Scream: The ghosts, the real Orpheo, possibly Elizabeth.
  • Bag of Sharing: Averted; when the siblings are separated, they only have the items they individually picked up, and one of the puzzles is getting a critical item from one to the other.
  • Big "NO!": Mary lets one out after Elizabeth is brought back from Limbo and all the ghosts are freed.
  • Body Motifs: A significant number of puzzles involve eyeballs, fake or... otherwise.
  • Cain and Abel: Orpheo's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: There are five wardrobes in the basement. The fifth one says: "Do not open EVER!" If you try and open it, you will be dragged inside by a bunch of clothes.
    • There's also another door that says you'll be sorry if you open it. You'll get caught by the Neanderthal Man if you do so.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Mary turned Orpheo into a wax statue and took on his appearance and identity.
  • Dem Bones: One of the chase sequences involves a wax skeleton suddenly coming alive and attacking. The best way to defeat it? The same way you defeat anything made out of wax: apply lots of heat.
  • Door To Before: One of the wardrobes is actually an Elevator that leads back to the wax museum.
  • Escape Artist: One of the ghosts, Aldo. His mentor was Harry Houdini, and he studied to be just like him.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Orpheo; subverted, as the evil, insane Orpheo is actually Mary in disguise.
  • Fountain of Youth: There's one that the player can interact with in the room full of oddities. Each time the player looks at their reflection in the water, it has gotten a little older.
  • Framing Device / Leaning on the Fourth Wall: You the player are a potential new member of the Midnight Society; "The Tale of Orpheo's Curse" is the story you're telling to determine your membership.
  • Ghostly Goals: Prevent more innocents from falling victim to the curse, breaking the curse and ending their undeath.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mary. Since Orpheo chose Elizabeth instead of her to be his assistant. (Of course, Mary decided to perform without practicing first.) Mary retaliated by resorting to Black Magic so that she would become the star of the show.
  • Guide Dang It: The specters puzzle. Even walkthroughs are baffled. Luckily, clicking randomly often results in the puzzle being solved anyway.
  • Hoist By Her Own Petard: Twofold, the first is Mary using a curse to get rid of her father and sister so she can be the star. This backfires, however, as the curse affected the whole theater and prevented her from doing the magic tricks properly, resulting in a lot of deaths for the volunteers (though one wonders why they would hang around after that many failures). The second is when the siblings finally break the curse, causing it to rebound on Mary and turn her into an old woman until she eventually dies.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Mess up, and you get a cutscene showing the characters' Fate Worse Than Death, followed by a return to the Midnight Society campfire where the members vote on the story and give you hints on how to improve it.
  • Jump Scare: So, you can interact with this wax statue. Will it give you a hint or just make a scary face at you? Or will it come to life and start chasing you?
  • Killer Rabbit: In one instant, you can pull a rabbit out of a hat, which turns out to be a monster.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Yeah, even become a monster and come after you. You'll need an electrical appliance to trap it.
  • Mad Artist: Orpheo's obsession with putting on a successful magic show probably qualifies. Turns out it was Mary in disguise trying to prove that she was a competent magician.
  • Magic Items: To break the curse, you'll need to find Orpheo's five enchanted items: his hat, his wand, his cape, his medallion, and... his eyes.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: A lot of Orpheo's former magic show was standard stage magician stuff, but then there's the teleportation booths and all the black magic Mary did.
  • The Many Deaths of You
  • No OSHA Compliance: The catwalks. Justified, as the theater predates OSHA and has been abandoned for decades, but that doesn't make it any better for the players.
  • Off with Her Head: One of the ghosts, Felicia. She ended up losing her head when the guillotine trick was performed.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The theater ghosts are apparently created when magic tricks went wrong and killed them and are stuck as they did when they died (e.g. beheaded, stuck full of swords, drowned in chains), and they can only appear to the living for a short amount of time.
  • Pensieve Flashback: In some cases, you'll come across places where you receive visions or riddles about how to solve the puzzles or where to find certain items that can help you out.
  • Portal Network: The teleportation boxes, though usually they don't teleport directly into another box.
  • Power Floats: One of the ghosts, Sarah. After the levitation trick went wrong, she found herself unable to touch the ground.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: One of the ghosts, Roberta was a victim of this trick. Her bottom half keeps drifting away on its own. Less fatally, Alex gets cut into three pieces at one point.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: One of the ghosts, Frederico. He has an excellent opera voice when performing on stage. He provides a riddle about how to reach Mary's room at the top of the theater (as well as one of the magic items). He also participated in a sword-throwing act, which, of course, didn't work correctly.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Terry has a strong dislike for spiders.
  • Stage Magician: Orpheo by profession, though there's definitely real magic involved.
  • Stairs Are Faster: During the final chase sequence, you'll have to use the stairs to quickly reach the stage. Any other way, and you'll get caught.
  • Stock Video Game Puzzle: Of course, being an Adventure Game, it's chock full of these.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The teleportation boxes.
  • Unicorn: There's one in the mythical creature exhibit. When the mummy comes alive and comes after the player, the unicorn can use its horn to revert the mummy back to its original state.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: Possibly. It's assumed that the wax statues have always been wax, but you have to wonder when you find wax molds in the shapes of the main characters...
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: You must accomplish your objectives before the midnight hour.

I declare this meeting of the midnight society closed.
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alternative title(s): Are You Afraid Of The Dark
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