Series: Tales from the Darkside

"Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality.
But, there is, unseen by most, an underworld —
a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit... A DARKSIDE."

Tales from the Darkside is an anthology TV series from The Eighties produced by George A. Romero. Similar to The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling's Night Gallery, The Outer Limits and Tales from the Crypt, each episode was an individual short story that ended with a plot twist. Unlike these other series, Tales from the Darkside centered mostly on horror stories. However, some episodes would more likely be considered science fiction or fantasy-based, and other episodes were more comical and lighthearted in tone. It's also known for its Cruel Twist Endings.

In 1990, a movie based on the show was released.

Tropes in this series:

  • Affably Evil: The couple in "Anniversary Dinner" who kill and then eat their guest in a soup. They continue acting like sane people while doing so.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: "Distant Signals"
  • The Alleged Computer: Subverted in "The Word Processor of the Gods". Writer Richard Hagstrom receives a homemade word plrocessor from his nephew Jonathan. The machine struggles with mundane text processing, but when it's commanded to rewrite Richard's life, the results are astounding. Especially with the last change Richard types up before it finally breaks down in flames.
  • And I Must Scream: The end of "A Choice of Dreams" has a mobster's brain being kept alive after it's removed and forced to experience nightmares forever.
    • The end of "Levitation". Just imagine... having the levitation trick done on you... only for the magician to have a heart attack, and can't bring you down... and prevent you from floating into the sky...
    • Implied with "The Geezenstacks".
    • Anyone stuck in "The Last Car".
  • Anthropomorphic Food: "Love Hungry", but the ending itself is Nightmare Fuel!
  • Asshole Victim: Timmy's dad from "Monster In My Room."
    • If there is a character the show doesn't want you to feel sympathy towards, when they get whats coming to 'em, then they usually fall under this category.
  • Back from the Dead: An interesting case in "Let the Games Begin": in order to settle who gets Harry's soul, the angel (in the form of Harry's best friend) and the devil (in the form of Harry's sister-in-law) resurrect his corpse in order to have him choose.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The episode "The Milkman Cometh" features a mysterious figure whose silhouette is shaped like a milkman granting wishes of anyone who leaves a note for him. The main character of the episode, a struggling father, begins to take advantage of the wishes despite his family and others who had their wishes backfire begging him to stop. At the end of the episode, he begs to the silhouetted figure to grant him a second child. While his face isn't shown to the viewer it's revealed that the Milkman isn't human and that the second child was conceived because the Milkman raped the wife.
  • Bears Are Bad News: "Ursa Minor"
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Miss May Dusa." Double as Tear Jerker and possibly Together in Death.
  • Bottle Episode: "No Strings", which consists of five characters (one of whom is dead sort-of), one puppet, and one set (a storage room, where a puppet stage has been set up).
  • Breather Episode: "Distant Signals", which deals with a mysterious investor (later revealed to be an alien) getting the director of an unpopular detective Cut Short 1960s series called "Max Paradise" to film the last episodes. Really, that's as far as this episode gets in terms of conflict, getting those episodes made.
  • Chess with Death: "The Grave Robbers" challenge the mummy to a game of poker in exchange for their freedom.
  • Circus of Fear: "The Circus", aptly enough. The ringmaster thinks it fulfills a purpose, though, and isn't happy about the jerkass reporter threatening to shut them down.
  • Creepy Child: Every so often an episode would feature one of these. The most notable ones being in "The New Guy" and "The Last Car".
  • Creepy Doll / The Doll Episode: "The Geezenstacks." The dolls themselves don't do anything, but the Uncanny Valley is in full effect.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: HOO boy...
  • Darker and Edgier: If you compare it to The Twilight Zone yeah.
  • Dating Catwoman: After constantly fighting with each other over a man's soul, the angel and devil hook up at the end of "Let the Games Begin."
  • Dead All Along: Algernon, the titular "Spirit Photographer". ...at least, by the end of it.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Mob boss Eddie makes one for his partner. He even makes it put on a show to entertain himself.
  • Deal with the Devil: "I'll Give You A Million", "Printer's Devil", "The Deal."
  • Demonic Possession: The witch in "The Moth" had a Batman Gambit and took her mother's body after she died.
  • Does Not Like Men: Florence Bravo, from the episode of the same name.
  • Dirty Coward: Harold in "The Grave Robbers." He would gladly leave his girlfriend behind in the mummy's tomb to save his own ass. He gets left behind instead when the mummy proves to be smarter than he looks.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A hallmark of various supernatural beings on the series, but more so with a certain episode. "Halloween Candy" is a story about a rather grumpy old man who refuses to give out candy on Halloween. He is frightened to death by a malevolent being that he refused to give candy to. I know he wasn't exactly the nicest guy, but wow, killing someone for not giving candy?
    • Or how about the episode "Season Of Belief?" A couple have an extended Jerk Ass moment where they terrify their young children with a scary story on Christmas Eve, even getting another family member to play along with the joke. At the end they smile, say they were only joking...and out of nowhere, the very monster they were talking about appears and crushes their skulls. Okay, sure, the parents weren't being very nice, and told their six-year-old daughter there was no Santa, but did that really make them deserve to die?
      • Not to mention that their children are now orphans... very traumatized orphans. It really is disproportionate retribution all around (especially considering that the kids didn't even do anything).
    • Or how about the first episode "Trick or Treat"? An old man who holds the debts of pretty much every family in town offers to forgive everyone if their children can find their debts inside his haunted house on Halloween. The twist? He winds up in Hell for being greedy. Come on, he lived during The Great Depression, a time where everyone learned the value of a dollar. He just never dropped the habit of being very frugal with his money.
      • On the other hand, the jerk was having a lot of laughs scaring and taunting those poor kids half to death with his haunted house.
      • And he was pretty much of a loan shark, lording it over the rest of the town and setting terms the poor townsfolk (poor due to him, it should be noted) could never satisfy.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Horace X, in "The False Prophet", comes across as a Domestic Abuser and a rapist when he tries coming onto Cassie.
    Horace X: Touch me Cassie. Touch me now.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Richard Hagstrom in "Word Processor of the Gods". Literally.
  • Eaten Alive: The fate of anyone who angers the sentient apartment building in "My Own Place".
  • Expy: "Barter" centers around a small family obviously themed after the family from I Love Lucy.
  • Evil Old Folks: The couple in "Anniversary Dinner" act kind and caring, but they eat people.
  • Evil vs. Evil: "The Grave Robbers" against the cursed, Affably Evil mummy.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: When it's not under And I Must Scream the endings will sometimes fall under this.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mob Boss Eddie in "No Strings" may have a polite attitude, but he uses people and throws them away like cleanex.
  • Go Out with a Smile: The fate of "The Spirit Photographer."
  • Going Native: In fact, the episode was called Going Native, about an alien disguised as a human doing research on earth culture but finding herself experiencing more emotions uncommon to her people.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The angel that punishes the Jerkass debt collector in "Payment Overdue".
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Baker's Dozen amongst others
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: The Gribbler.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The machine in "Hush" delivers a soul-sucking scream of a sound whenever it drains the noise of something.
  • Henpecked Husband: The protagonist of "Pain Killer."
  • Horny Devils: The demon in "Let the Games Begin"
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Cassie in "The False Prophet" believes in everything Horace X says. This later proves to be her undoing.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The moral in "Going Native".
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The couple in "Anniversary Dinner" lure in an unsuspecting girl and eat her as the main course.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The Cruel Twist Ending of "The False Prophet."
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of Eddie in "No Strings"
  • Ironic Echo: You're getting warmer.
  • Jackass Genie: Subverted. The genie in "Djinn, No Chaser" was only acting like a Jerkass because he wanted to be free from his prison.
  • Karma Houdini: The robber in "Miss May Dusa" gets away with murdering two people by accident and leaves the store the protagonist was in without punishment.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: In some episodes we follow a Villain Protagonist who has been doing awful stuff and getting away with it for years. They eventually get what's coming to them by the end of the episode, along with a valuable lesson.
  • Karmic Death: Usually present in the Karmic Twist Ending.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: If the character we follow is a Jerkass or extremely annoying then this is the kind of ending that awaits them.
  • Kick the Dog: The debt collector in "Payment Overdue" loves to inform people that their rent is overdue and kick them out on the streets. One of these many people included a poor, dying woman who begged for more time. She ignored her pleas anyway. She gets what she deserves in the end when she is put in the poor woman's place.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Villain Protagonist that loses to the Big Bad will usually get this.
  • Kill the Cutie: If the protagonist is ever an innocent na´ve girl, don't expect her to live.
  • Killer Teddy Bear: The episode "Ursa Minor".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A staple in most episodes, with such examples as Trick or Treat, but the most flagrant examples being Baker's Dozen and Seasons of Belief.
  • The Lost Lenore: The Mummy in "The Grave Robbers" had a crush on a girl in his past, but he never admitted his feelings for her before becoming the cursed guardian of the tomb. Harold mocks him for it, but his girlfriend takes pity on him. The mummy gets over it when he escapes from the tomb and moves on with Harold's girlfriend.
  • Mama Bear: From "Ursa Minor." The mother, learning that her daughter's teddy bear is terrorizing the house, stabs the bear to death. The trope repeats, however, when the bear's mother attacks.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: The doctor in "Pain Killer" offers to cure his patients if they commit murders for him.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Appeared in at least one episode.
  • My Beloved Smother: The main protagonist of "The Serpent's Tooth."
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Jerkass family learn this lesson the hard way at the end of "Grandma's Last Wish."
  • Not So Different: Both characters in "Snip, Snip" are abused by others, have unfair lives, and resort to Dark magic to get what they want. Unfortunately, one of them proves to be Eviler Than Thou.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Teddy in "Ursa Minor"
  • Our Angels Are Different: An angel has appeared in "Let the Games Begin" and " Payment Overdue."
  • Our Vampires Are Different: One episode featured them.
  • Oh, Crap: Whenever the Twist Ending happens.
  • Off with His Head!: The fate of the protagonist in "Snip, Snip."
  • Panty Shot: At about 7:12 in this clip, from "Inside the Closet."
  • Pretty in Mink: The episode "The Old Soft Shoe" starts with a lady in a fox coat showing up at a motel, and a guy tries to hit on her (after he assured his wife on the phone was just getting his car towed). The lady in the fur brushes him off, and she lives through the episode unlike that guy.
    • Another episode starts with a gal in a bus stop wearing a white and brown rabbit fur jacket.
  • Puppet Permutation: Two variations (both technical subversions) occur in "No Strings": a mob boss wishes to string up his "business partner" (that he killed) and have him be used in a private one-man puppet show and the partner's spirit possesses a puppet (and then his own corpse) during the climax.
  • Satan: Appears in a few episodes. Depending on the overall tone of the story, he'll either be portrayed tongue-in-cheek or genuinely sinister.
  • Secret Test of Character: The twist of "Payment Overdue".
  • Shrinking Violet: The protagonist in "Mary, Mary."
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The original short story version of "Hush" has everyone die and the machine exit out into the world to make everything quiet. In the episode, however, Jennifer and Buddy live and the machine is tricked into killing itself.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: "Let the Games Begin": Harry gets to live and the angel and devil become an item.
    • "Djinn, No Chaser": The genie has become a lot more nicer and complacent after being freed by means of a can opener.
    • "Word Processor of the Gods": Just before the titular device goes kaput, Richard manages to rewrite reality so that his nephew, Jonathan, is brought back to life... and is his son, along with Belinda (Jon's mother) being Richard's wife.
    • "The Spirit Photographer": Algernon was Dead All Along, but gets to move on after the titular device is proven to have worked. As a bonus, he's happy over this development.
  • Take That: "If the Shoe Fits". AKA: "The One The Equates Politicians to Clowns".
  • Taken for Granite: The fate of the protagonist in "The Serpent's Tooth."
  • Things That Go Bump in the Night: "Monsters in My Room" and "Inside the Closet"
  • Title Drop: Let's see... there's "Distant Signals", "The Geezenstacks", "Let the Games Begin", "I Can't Help Saying Goodbye", "Levitation", "The Cutty Black Sow", "Basher Malone"... really, I could go on for a while.
  • Together in Death: Episode "Miss May Dusa", although way more cruel.
  • Yandere: Horace X.
  • Your Cheating Heart: A common trope in the series. The cheater usually gets what's coming to them.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Possibly the case in "Seasons of Belief," though it's pretty hard to tell if it's this trope at work, or if the creature always existed and the parents didn't know.
    • The Serpent's Tooth from the episode of the same name can make anything the wearer says come true.


"The Darkside is always there—waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight."