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Western Animation: Tales From The Crypt Keeper

An animated spin-off of Tales from the Crypt that ran for three seasons. The first two were on ABC from 1993 to 1994, the last on CBS from 1999 to 2000. Unlike its live-action counterpart, Cryptkeeper usually had kids as the heroes in its stories; therefore, most of the stories had to lack blood and gore, with a horror factor that was more akin to Goosebumps and usually having an aesop. During the second season, the show brought in Cryptkeeper's co-Horror Hosts from the comics, the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper, who would usually try to steal the spotlight away from the Cryptkeeper.

When CBS gained the rights to the show, it commissioned a third season under the title "The New Tales from the Cryptkeeper". However, this season had a much more simplified animation compared to the comic book style of the first two. And the stories toned down on the scares. Not helping matters was the fact that the Cryptkeeper was actually part of the stories rather than leading them in, as he usually does.

Despite this, the show has a cult following and episodes can be found on YouTube and purchased from iTunes.

The show has the following tropes:

  • Animated Adaptation
  • An Aesop: As it was a kids' show, this was pretty mandatory.
    • This was even truer in the third season (thanks to new FCC rules calling for more educational TV shows for kids), to the point where it became Anvilicious.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Crypt Keeper's segments in the episode "Pleasant Screams" has him eating food in an attempt to go to sleep. He mentions that he has tried disgusting delicacies such as screech cobbler and then suggesting something "really gross", which turns out to be carrots.
  • Art Evolution: Happened during the channel hop.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The episode "The Weeping Woman" ends without the Crypt Keeper getting even with the Old Witch for trying to invade his show, instead having him bursting into tears as he is forced to watch her perform in the opera.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate/Big Bad Ensemble: The Vault Keeper and the Old Witch were both introduced in the second season as antagonists that tried to steal the spotlight from the Crypt Keeper. Both of them hated each other as much as they hated the Crypt Keeper, but they would occasionally work together.
  • Callback: Several characters from Season 1 came back for Season 2: Camille and Mildred were in "Fare Tonight" and "The Weeping Woman"; Chuck and Melvin in "The Sleeping Beauty" and, well, "Chuck (and Melvin) and the Beanstalker"; Wendell and two bullies in "Hyde and Go Shriek" and "Growing Pains"; and Ben and Mike in "Ghost Ship" and "Transylvania Express".
  • The Cameo: During the first season, the Crypt Keeper would often appear briefly during a story. Unlike in the third season, though, these were usually unimportant to the overall plot (one episode simply shows his face on a penny), but the end of "The Cat's Away" reveals that the boys had broken into his spooky house, and they encounter him returning from vacation as they're fleeing in terror.
  • Catch Phrase: In the third season, the Crypt Keeper would often end the episode by saying "Creep out of trouble, because I'll be watching."
  • Channel Hop: From ABC to CBS
  • A Dog Ate My Homework:
    • The season two episode "The Brothers Gruff" has the protagonist mention that his teachers wouldn't believe his pet hamster Fred ate his homework.
    • An episode of the third season had a boy accuse monsters instead of a dog. Being an Animated Adaptation of Tales from the Crypt, that episode actually had monsters who ate homework. When two showed up at the boy's home, the boy said another monster showed up before and ate it. The monsters then took the boy to their home dimension to find the monster the boy described. When the boy eventually confessed he didn't do the homework, the monsters took the boy home and forced him to do his homework, present it to school, and ask the teacher to make two copies for the monsters to eat.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The Chuck and Melvin episodes.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Vault Keeper
  • Gainax Ending: The "Game Over" episode.
  • Green Aesop: In the season three episode "Waste Not, Haunt Not".
  • Guest Host: The Old Witch tells "Cold Blood, Warm Heart", "Dead Men Don't Jump" and "Growing Pains." The Vault Keeper, meanwhile, "All the Gory Details" and "The Haunted Mine". Note that each case is against the Crypt Keeper's will.
  • Heel-Face Turn/Took a Level in Kindness: This happened to Jerkass characters on the show who didn't get Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: David Hemblen (Magneto/Lord Dread) is the Vault Keeper.
  • Horror Host: The Crypt Keeper, the Old Witch, and the Vault Keeper.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: The Old Witch and the Vault Keeper tried this on occasion in Season 2. They rarely succeeded.
  • The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: In "Hunted," a Jerkass hunter is poaching in South America and runs afoul of a supposedly mythical beast. Determined to catch this beast and make a profit, the hunter pursues it deeper and deeper into the jungle. Just when he thinks he has it, the beast springs its own trap to capture him instead. Turns out the beast was once a Jerkass hunter himself and had been cursed. Forced him to live in the wild, he learned to respect nature and its creatures. He regains his human form and passes the curse onto his captive to start the cycle over again.
  • In Name Only: Season three's adaptation of the comic book story "Drawn and Quartered", which took the original story about a vengeful artist using voodoo so that whatever he painted in his pictures happened to the critics who cheated him and made it about a young boy who loved to draw being given a magic pencil by the Crypt Keeper and using it to get even with the two boys who bully him through his drawings.
  • Jerkass: There is a fair number of them. You can expect one to appear in just about every episode.
  • Karmic Transformation: Happens to the Jerkass Straw Misogynist reporter in "All the Gory Details". When his female partner leaves him behind, he tries to expose Dr. Kromwell's creations to the public on his own, only to end up becoming one of Kromwell's creations.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Usually happened to mean or very greedy characters.
  • Leitmotif: The traditional Tales from the Crypt theme, the Funeral March, and a soft, ominous tune unique to this series were all associated with the Crypt Keeper.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the show obviously had to be toned down for its target audience, the third season definitely took this a step further.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: The Old Witch.
  • Mythology Gag: The first episode, "While the Cat's Away", has the two boys who broke into the Crypt Keeper's house find a Tales from the Crypt comic book while trying to find something valuable. Fittingly enough, said episode was one of the few Tales from the Crypt Keeper episodes to be an adaptation of a story from the original Tales from the Crypt comic book.
  • Never My Fault: Whenever something went wrong during their journeys, Chuck would always blame his brother Melvin.
  • Never Say "Die": Played with. Some episodes would directly mention death and some would simply imply it. The Lighter and Softer third season, oddly enough, subverted this trope in the episode "Monsters Ate My Homework" when the monsters subtly threatened to eat the boy if he didn't give them homework to eat and explicitly mentioned the monster the boy blamed for eating his homework as having recently passed on.
  • No Antagonist: Played straight for the Crypt Keeper segments of the first season and one episode of the second season as well as the entire third season. Mostly averted with the rest of season two's Crypt Keeper segments and the stories themselves.
  • Non-Identical Twins: Chuck and Melvin, as the former insists on reminding the latter.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Due to Standards & Practices giving them a draconian list of things they could not show on television, (being a kid's show, gore was a given, but the list also had vague generalizations like "Eyeballs floating in a pink ooze" and "Nothing overly terrifying"), so the writers were forced to use this trope to great effect.
  • Once per Episode: The Old Witch would give herself a dramatic introduction, blow a kiss that shatters glass (or the television screen), and tell at least one lame joke in almost all of her appearances.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The first episode, "While the Cat's Away", subtly reveals that the Crypt Keeper's real name is T. Charles Kingman.
  • Panty Shot: The Old Witch has one in the intro to season two.
  • Prince Charmless: Chuck in "The Sleeping Beauty". He even insists on being called "Prince Charming".
  • Re Tool: Season 1 was pretty faithful to the format of the live-action series - a story bookended by Crypt Keeper segments taking place in his old house. For Season 2, EC Comics' other horror hosts (the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper) were added as antagonists - each bent on stealing the show. This prompted the Crypt Keeper to leave his house and "take the show on the road," with his segments taking place in different locales and him being pestered by the competition. Season 3 dropped the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper and instead had the Crypt Keeper a part of the stories (usually setting them in motion). And while the preceding two seasons contained aesops, Season 3 was arguably more Anvilicious (with one plot revolving around teaching a boy the importance of reading).
  • Sadly Mythtaken: "Myth Conceptions," which changes the story of Medusa, though it acknowledges so. Medusa heroically defended her temple lair from the likes of Perseus, who was trying to rob the treasures within. Oh, and Medusa can shapeshift and can't be turned to stone by looking at her reflection.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: Chuck and Melvin. Chuck justifies bossing him around by being the older brother. Melvin always points out Chuck is only ten seconds older.
  • Spin-Off
  • Title Drop: The Crypt Keeper gives one at the end of the season three episode "Waste Not, Haunt Not".
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Camille and Mildred respectively.
  • Twist Ending: A few episodes had these, usually of the Karmic variety.
  • Un-Canceled: Though it took a four-year hiatus, and the CBS series wasn't exactly well regarded.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In "The Sleeping Beauty", for all his awareness of the tropes of a "romantic quest", Chuck apparently forgets that the Youngest Child Wins in fairy tales (even if he's only ten seconds younger).
  • You Don't Look Like You: A double example. The animated Crypt Keeper in the first two seasons doesn't bear any resemblance to his live-action counterpart aside from being a skeletal zombie, while his appearance in the third season is drastically changed, but more closely resembles his appearance in the live-action series.

SpawnHorror Western AnimationAaahh!!! Real Monsters
The Sylvester and Tweety MysteriesWestern Animation of the 1990sTaleSpin
Tak and the Power of JujuWestern AnimationTaleSpin
Stickin' AroundCreator/NelvanaTimothy Goes to School

alternative title(s): Tales From The Crypt Keeper
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