YMMV: Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The TV Show
- Actually Pretty Scary: While a lot of the show was the type of "scares you as kids, but not when older" softball you'd expect from a low-budget children's horror anthology series (like Goosebumps — both the books and the TV adaptation), even a few hard-core horror blogs admit that the show pulled out a lot of genuinely creepy episodes.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The giant talking doll from "Tale of the Dark Music".
- Complete Monster: "Margot" from season 5ís "The Tale of the Night Shift" is a teenage girl who gets a job as a nurse at a hospital working on the night shift. We find out that "Margot" is actually a sadistic, ancient vampire who spends his time feeding on the hospitalís staff and patients, one of whom is a young boy in a wheel chair, and attempting to turn them into his vampire slaves. When confronted by the episodeís protagonist Amanda and her friend Colin, the vampire compares a hospital to a candy shop for him. When Amanda's recently turned friend Felix tries to help Amanda, the vampire attacks him too. During the climax of the episode, the vampire chases Amanda to the roof of the hospital and lifts her up, planning to drop her off and lick up what's left, all while relishing Amanda's screams, before deciding the old-fashioned way is a better way to kill. Even in this Nightmare Fuel-filled series, "Margot" stands out.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: Betty Ann's stories tend to be the favourites among fans. "Laughing In The Dark", "The Dollmaker", "Thirteenth Floor", "Ghastly Grinner" and "Chameleons" are all her stories. Kristen is also quite popular for someone who only told five stories.
- Fashion Dissonance: Vicky in "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror" goes wild over a hat that's part of the new line of fashions for a beauty shop. The hat looks incredibly dated now and Vicky's delight over it comes across as Narm.
- Fanon Discontinuity: The final, Retooled season for many, though "The Tale of the Silver Sight" (the three-part episode where The Midnight Society reunites to find the original members from back in the 1930s to fight back against an evil force bent on world domination) is one of the few revival episodes that was good and, if the fans had their way, would make an epic Grand Finale (the actual series finale is either "The Tale of Badge"note , if you don't want to acknowledge the revival episodes, or "The Tale of the Night Nurse"note if you do want to acknowledge the revived episodes).
- Fridge Brilliance: Why are the eponymous creatures in "The Tale of the Chameleons" called "chameleons" when they're actually iguanas? Because they're chameleons in the sense that they blend in effortlessly when they transform into humans (and their blending in with humans is what led to the Downer Ending where the protagonist's best friend doused her instead of her chameleon twin).
- Hilarious in Hindsight / Retroactive Recognition: In "The Lonely Ghost" one of Beth's friends theorizes that the reason a ghost couldn't talk because she was deaf. Three years later, the actress reappeared as the deaf character Stacey in "The Tale of The Closet Keepers."note
- Melissa Joan Hart guest stars in "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost". When she arrives at the aunts' house she says an interestingly worded line "they're your relatives, not a pair of wicked old witches. Well, I hope not" - this was six years before she would play Sabrina Spellman, a teenage girl who went to live with her aunts who were witches.
- In "Tales of the Sorcerer's Apprentice", there's an archaeologist known as "Dr. Oliver" who teaches lessons at a public school. Years later, we get a paleontologist who teaches classes at a school who goes by the name of Dr. Tommy Oliver
- Nightmare Fuel: In both the show and the video game, of course. This show was surprisingly dark for a kids' show in the early 90s.
- Older Than They Think: "The Tale of the Dream Girl" was actually M. Night Shyamalan's inspiration for The Sixth Sense, a film that saw widespread acclaim on release— for its originality.
- "The Tale of the Quiet Librarian" inspired a Buffy episode called "Hush".
- The Twilight Zone episode "A Most Unusual Camera" was the basis for both "The Tale of the Curious Camera" and "Goosebumps'" Say Cheese and Die! (including the sequel).
- The Twisted Claw episode was inspired by a story called "The Monkey's Paw".
- The Parody: Two videos on Youtube, entitled Are You Afraid of the Dark: The Later Years and Are You Afraid of the Dark: The Later Years, Part II are parodies of the show, only here, the cast members are in their mid-20s, with one (Kiki) already gone through Teen Pregnancy, and another (Eric) being an alcoholic who died between the first and second videos. Why did they all keep coming back even though they didn't like telling stories at night anymore? Gary was blackmailing them all to come.
- The Scrappy: Beth from Tale of the Lonely Ghost. Completely unlikable, annoying Valley Girl accent, bashes and abuses her Nanny, and makes fun of Amanda who's living with her. She does get what's coming to her when she gets sucked into the mirror and it is implied that her attitude has changed thanks to the ghost girl being reunited with her mother.
- Ironically, she was nothing compared to the mean girls who killed the titular Lonely Ghost.
- Stig from season 5. Obnoxious, gross and generally unpleasant, he was as unpopular out of the show as he was inside.
- Seasonal Rot: The revival episodes that ran between 1999 and 2000 are considered by many to be bad, though the three-part episode "The Tale of the Silver Sight" is considered to be the best episode of the revived ones and is considered the last episode.
- Special Effect Failure: Pretty much every episode had this, thanks to working with a low budget. The one that stands out the most was an episode where a bunch of kids were kidnapped onto an alien spacecraft and forced to eat a horrible alien food product...which was clearly and obviously lime-flavoured jello in a bowl.
- This ended up being beneficial in ways as episodes often had to use frightening ideas and imagery (e.g. a girl suddenly standing on the other side of the window in the middle of the night) rather than special effects, which made it scarier.
- Interestingly, according to Word of God, it apparently could have been worse. According to creator DJ MacHale, the show started filming in Montreal at a time when Montreal's film industry was struggling. Because of this, despite being a low-budget show, they still had the run of the place and had access to things they probably wouldn't have any other time.
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Well it is, but considering that some of the stories get rather dark and twisted, it can and will make people wonder. It was made back in the 1990s when children's show writers weren't afraid to pull stuff like this. The only show these days that can be considered an equivalent to this show is R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour (it would have been The Nightmare Room had it not been canceled in 2001) and Spooksville.
- To the show's credit, MOST episodes had a happy ending, with the villain defeated, and sometimes going so far to have characters come Back from the Dead. The build-up to said happy ending tended to be creepy as hell, though, and there were exceptions to this. Probably the most ironic was The Pinball Wizard considering its use of Fairy Tale Motifs.
- The Woobie: Jill from Tale Of the Final Wish. Everyone around her looks down on her for daring to believe to in fairy tales as a teenager, and she only wishes herself into a fairy tale because of the teasing she'd received in school and at home.
The Video Game
- Uncanny Valley: The wax statues, especially the wax audience.