— The opening narration of the very first episode.
Dark Shadows was a Soap Opera which ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971. While the show did have Gothic themes, it was not until six months into the first season when it gained notoriety by introducing overtly supernatural elements.Though many soaps have since flirted with plots involving ghosts and psychic energy, Dark Shadows used almost every classic horror element (vampires, werewolves, zombies, magic users) as well as sci-fi tropes like Time Travel and alternate dimensions.The show was also notable for having storylines taking place in different time periods and parallel worlds, allowing the same actors to play identical relatives or lookalikes.Dark Shadows has been an inspiration for numerous other supernatural series, including Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Twin Peaks, The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One plotline even involved a vampire who gives an extended interview about the supernatural to a hack writer.The show's musical score was considered notable, receiving a Grammy nomination and spawning a top 20 Billboard hit in addition to several soundtrack albums.Dark Shadows is one of the only soaps of the era to boast a nearly complete archive. All but one episode survives intact, most as the original color videotapes, with a handful as black-and-white kinescopes. (An audio track exists for the "missing" episode, which was mated with publicity stills for later commercial release and syndication.)There was a short-lived television remake in The Nineties, as well as a Big Finish radio series. A Tim Burtonmovie version came out in 2012, with Johnny Depp portraying Barnabas Collins.Now has a character page in progress.
Anachronism Stew: Oddly enough for a show not only set, but created, in The Sixties, the series, with few exceptions, seems to be almost completely oblivious to technological and social changes, particularly after the first season or two. The aversion of this trope by The Movie makes this glaringly obvious.
Artistic License - Biology: After Barnabas feeds on Willie for the first time, a doctor examines Willie and declares his arm to have been "completely drained of blood."
Back from the Dead: It's a soap, so pretty much everyone. Angelique deserves special mention, though, due to sheer persistence.
Betty and Veronica: Barnabas Collins is torn between the memory of his fiancee, Josette du Pres, a Betty type, and the Veronica type (to the max) Angelique, the witch who gave him the vampire curse. At the end he gets over his torch for Josette, and avows to Angelique that he loves her. She is then killed, and Barnabas ends up with neither.
Sam Hall in one of the articles of the TV Guide claimed that, had the show continue, Barnabas would have married Julia and find his cure to turn him human. Both would have end up living in the Far East. There's a casual reference of their journey together away from the family danger was referred in Return to Collinwood.
Big Bad: Throughout different Story Arcs, Laura Collins, Jason McGuire, Barnabas, Angelique, Quentin, Count Petofi, the Leviathans, Jeremiah Collins, leading up to...
Bigger Bad: Judah Zachery, the warlock responsible for the family curse, the titular "dark shadow."
Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Barnabas, after significant character development. In one of the better done sequences, we see Barnabas Collins the man regain the upper hand over Barnabas the Monster, when he refuses to be party to murdering a man to gain freedom from his curse.
Ghost Story: Barnabas telling Vicky and Carolyn how Josette died. That he did it during a thunderstorm with the power out was a nice touch.
Jekyll & Hyde: Literally, in one of the Mad Scientist plotlines... mild-mannered lab rat Cyrus Longworth took a potion that turned him into aggressive psycho John Yeager.
Kill 'em All: The 1795 storyline comes damn close, given that the writers were essentially just playing around with a whole new cast of characters they wouldn't have to worry about after the storyline ended. Pretty much the only thing stopping them from truly killing everyone was that someone needed to live to provide future generations of the Collins family.
The Movie: House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows, neither of which took place in the main continuity. House was a more grisly retelling of the introduction of Barnabas, whereas Night was barely connected at all, essentially retconning all characters and lore for a new story. Then there was the 2012 Tim Burton film Dark Shadows.
Multiple Demographic Appeal: Originally aimed at women like most soap operas, but its supernatural plotlines soon attracted a lot of young monster-movie fans as well.
My Own Grampa: Almost. Laura, a phoenix who was reincarnated every few decades, ended up married to her own biological grandson. Never mentioned in the show, either due to censorship or the writers not having the best grasp on the continuity.
Never My Fault: Matthew Morgan claims that he doesn't want to kill Vicki, but she forced him into it. Naturally, she calls him on this.
Never Sleep Again: Inverted in an arc where a character turns into a werewolf and kills people in his sleep. He is able to trap his curse in a portrait, but needs to stay awake until it is finished.
Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Hardly surprising, given the number of supernatural characters, but a special shout out has to go to the human Julia, who survives being attacked and drained by two separate vampires, shot in the chest with a pistol, poisoned, barricaded in a remote location and left to starve and possessed by a malevolent spirit who drains her life force when Barnabas attempts to sever the connection.
Inverted in the case of Angelique, the immortal witch, who rescinds her powers in the 1840 storyline and is felled by a bullet to the chest two days later.
Not Using the Z Word: The word "vampire" is used pretty rarely, not showing up at all until the 1795 storyline when Angelique explains her curse to Ben. This makes the scene where Barnabas reveals himself to his father by shouting "I am a vampire!" quite shocking and moving.
Recycled Soundtrack: Not only did the series reuse its music, House Of Dark Shadows was also almost entirely relied upon the show's recordings. Night of Dark Shadows, though also featuring a Recycled Soundtrack, had more original music written for it.
Scarpia Ultimatum: Levelled against Barnabas by (who else) Angelique. She actually uses this twice: once she conditions for being his wife if she saves his sister (whose pains Angelique caused for exactly this purpose), and once they are married, she threatens Josette's life to keep Barnabas acting as a "faithful husband". When he tries to remove Josette from danger, the thread is simply expanded to his family.
Security Cling: Done wordlessly by Daphne and the possessed David and Hallie, when Gerard who is really Judah Zachery, kills them.
The Show Must Go On: Examples are too numerous to list. Barnabas' heart-wrenching dramatic pauses were reportedly just Jonathan Frid forgetting his lines.
Perhaps the most amusing moment was the time Frid accidentally walked in on the end credits while carrying everyone's coats...
No, the funniest moment was when the camera caught Frid quite visibly picking his nose when he thought the camera was pointed on Robert Rodan and Betsy Durkin.
Given that the show was "live" because at the time editing costs were off the chart there are really too many to list from bugs flying around actor's heads to people tripping. In a rare instance Frid managed to get them to edit an particularly bad gaffe on his part by agreeing to waive a bonus owed for working extra late on an episode.
Plus, the very first thing the show ever aired: the ABC announcer saying in an irritated tone, "Okay, I'm here. What do you want me to do?" (pause) "I can't see the slate!" He then proceeds to read the episode number as usual.
In one of the better-done dramatic moments of the series, when the witch Angelique is face-to-face with the newly risen vampire Barnabas, alone and cornered by the monster she has created, simultaneously grief-stricken, terrified, and even remoreseful, as Barnabas realizes the true horror of his new status, we see a stage hand realize that he is in the camera view-zone...
Maggie mysteriously receives a pair of expensive earrings. Joe and her start fighting about her wearing them...and one falls out, causing the two to continue to have the argument while one of them is missing. Kathryn Leigh Scott attempts to hide it with her hand but it's obvious.
Time Travel: To 1795, 1897, 1840 and once to the (then) future of 1995.
Timey-Wimey Ball: To save the present family from the ghost of Quentin Collins, Barnabas travels back to 1897 to save the living Quentin. Once he returns, the family, especially Amy and David, still has memories of Quentin's ghost, despite the fact that, with history changed, Quentin is now still alive and has lived away from Collinsport for decades.
What Happened to the Mouse?: at one point in the 1795 flashback, Jeramiah Collins buries Angelique alive because her hypnotizing him into marrying Josette led to his death. So where the hell was he when Angelique cursed his cousin with vampirism, which in turn led to practically his whole family being wiped out?
Woman Scorned: It's heavily implied that Barnabas and Angelique had sex. It's not clear whether this was before or after he became engaged to Josette, but Angelique got the short end of the stick either way. These events were the catalyst for Angelique's hatred for the Collins family.
You Look Familiar: Some have appropriately described the cast as a theater troupe. If someone's character died, there was a good chance that the same actor would be back in a few weeks playing a different character.