These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
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 did pull out a lot of genuinely creepy episodes.
Critical Research Failure: Possibly a They Just Didn't Care, the chameleons used in "Tale of the Chameleon" were actually young iguanas. Which look nothing like chameleons. It could have been simply pragmatic. There were a couple of scenes where the reptile in question needed to scamper pretty quickly, and since chameleons are slow moving, they decided to pick something that was faster.
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.
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 The episode where a deaf girl and her bully get captured by aliens who collect human kids from all over the world as specimens for their intergalactic zoo
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 go to live with aunts of her own that were witches.
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: Sally from Tale of the Lonely Ghost. Completely unlikable, annoying Valley Girl accent, bashes and abuses her Nanny, and makes fun of the Amanda who's living with her. You want her to die in the episode.
Ironically, she was nothing compared to the mean girls who killed the titular Lonely Ghost.
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).
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.