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Characters / Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

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Stella Nicholls
Portrayed By: Zoe Colletti

The film's young heroine who discovers Sarah Bellows' book.

  • Canon Foreigner: Stella is the protagonist of the movie's original framing story and has no counterpart in the books. In the original Haunted House story, the one who put the ghost to rest was a nameless male preacher.
  • Final Girl: Played with because Ramon and Ruth survive as she does.
  • Genre Savvy: She seems to be this, given that she writes and reads a lot of scary stories. As soon as Sarah's book starts to show its malevolence, Stella returns it to the Bellows house and apologizes for taking it. Unfortunately, it shows right back up in her room. Stella later tries to burn it, but it's impervious to fire.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Stella is blue eyed.
  • Meganekko: Stella is the only character to wear glasses onscreen.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother ran out on her and her father when she was younger. Stella blames herself for it, though it's never made clear why she ran away in the first place.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Stella doesn’t have any siblings.
  • Ship Tease: Has a little of this with Ramon.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Talks down Sarah Bellows by pointing out to her that she became the monster that everyone said she was.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Stella is the tomboy to Ruth’s girly girl.

Ramon Rodriguez / Ramon Morales
Portrayed By: Michael Garza

A drifter who gets involved with Stella and her friends after helping them evade Tommy after they played a prank on him.

  • Alliterative Name: Ramon Rodriguez. His real name is Ramon Morales, however.
  • Canon Foreigner: Has no equivalent in the original books. The boy from "Me Tie Dough Tie Walker" was unnamed, and the main character of "What Do You Come For?" was an unnamed elderly woman.
  • Draft Dodging: This is the reason why Ramon is a drifter. He is actively avoiding being sent to Vietnam, considering it a death trap with no hope of victory. He feels this way because his older brother was drafted into the war and his body was returned to Ramon's family in pieces. However, Ramon finally goes through with it at the end of the movie.
  • The Drifter: Ramon is the only character who is not a resident of the small town of Mill Valley. He only plans on staying for a couple of days before moving on. However, he is forced to stay longer after Tommy trashes his car and commits to helping Stella and the others when Sarah's book of scary stories begins to wreak havoc. It turns out that he's a drifter because he's dodging the draft for the Vietnam War.
  • Parental Abandonment: Implied by the fact that he sleeps in his car and has no known family. Subverted — he ran away to avoid being sent to Vietnam.
  • Ship Tease: Has a little of this with Stella.
  • Token Minority: Is the only non-white member of the main cast, being Hispanic.

Charlie "Chuck" Steinberg

Portrayed by: Austin Zajur

Friends with Stella and Auggie, Chuck is Ruth's little brother.

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: To Ruth, who's disgusted by his grosser antics and irritated by his teasing.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Inverted. He's the little brother, but rushes to save Ruth when she becomes the next target of the book.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: He reveals to Stella and Ramon that he has been having nightmares about a frightening woman coming after him in a red room. Not long after, he recognizes signs of it happening in real life and tries to run off and avoid it, but to no avail.
  • Gender Flip: The main character of "The Dream" was a female artist named Lucy, but here Chuck is her victim.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chuck is nosy, can be insensitive, and is a bit of a jerk to Ruth, Auggie, and Ramon. Still, it's undeniable that he cares about his friends and his sister as he tries to protect them from the book and consoles a traumatized Ruth. He also knows where to draw the line between teasing and bullying, as he never once teases Stella about her Missing Mom like Tommy does.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Suggested by his reaction to Ruth dating Tommy (to be fair, Tommy is a total Jerkass and soon proves to not be someone she'd be happy and safe with) and Auggie's crush on Ruth.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: He is introduced as a comic relief character, but loses the humor when he becomes terrorized by the supernatural and people start dying. He is effectively killed when the Pale Lady catches up to him and absorbs him into her body.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Whenever he and Auggie are together, Chuck can't resist teasing him and trying to scare him with pranks. He's devastated to find out that Auggie has been killed and pleads with Stella to save him.

August "Auggie" Hildebrandt

Portrayed By: Gabriel Rush

One of Stella's friends, who takes things the most seriously.

  • Adaptation Deviation: The boy in the original Big Toe story dug the toe from his garden and served it to his family. Auggie just finds a stew in his fridge and doesn't realize it's there until too late.
  • Agent Scully: He refuses to consider that Tommy's disappearance was something supernatural, and disbelieves Stella's warnings about the story being written about him in the book... at least at first.
  • Death by Irony: He's a health nut who constantly chides Chuck for the chemicals in his Halloween candy. He gets tricked into eating a corpse's toe and is killed by said corpse.
  • Insistent Terminology: He dresses as a "Pierrot" for Halloween. Chuck constantly calls him a clown to his annoyance.
  • Lovable Coward: He's shown to be easily spooked, but he's a nice kid — and most things he's afraid of are very understandable. His screams as he's Dragged Off to Hell are utterly heartbreaking.
  • No Sympathy: He really isn't disturbed or upset by Tommy's disappearance. Although to be fair, Tommy never gave him a reason to.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: He is grabbed by the Big Toe creature from under the bed and pulled screaming under it. By the time Stella and Ramon make it to his bedroom, all they can find when they move the bed, are the scratches his fingernails made in the floor leading into a wall with no sign of what happened to him.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Like Stella, Auggie doesn’t have any siblings.
  • Sacrificial Lion: He's the first of Stella's friends to fall victim to the book, which shows that Sarah's coming for them all.

Ruth Steinberg

Portrayed By: Natalie Ganzhorn

Chuck's older sister, who discovers a strange bump on her cheek...

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: A given since she isn't a refugee from Gammell's illustrations like the monsters, but the Ruth in the original illustration for "The Red Spot" had an unnaturally long, thin, creepy face that looked like it was melting. This Ruth is played by Natalie Ganzhorn, a conventionally pretty girl who survives her ordeal with a scar on her cheek.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Ruth from Gammell's illustration was an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette with black hair, as Gammell's illustrations were all done in inky black-and-white. This Ruth is a blonde.
  • Ascended Extra: As far as we can tell, the only human character based on someone from the books, and possibly one of the main group.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted twice, poor thing. First she gets a painful and ugly "zit" and gets nothing but scorn about it from her fellow students the night of a play. Then it erupts, hatching hundreds of baby spiders from her face, and leaves her traumatized and with a large scar on her cheek.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Chuck gets on her nerves, but when push comes to shove, Ruth sticks up for her little brother and instantly starts demanding Tommy let him out when she realizes he's locked Chuck inside the Bellows house. In the ending, she has seemingly overcome what was earlier expected to be a lifetime committed to a mental institution to help Stella find a way to bring back Chuck (and Auggie).
  • Body Horror: Having spiders crawl under your skin cannot be pleasant.
  • Canon Character All Along: The teen protagonists initially seem to be introduced for the film, except Ruth shares a name with the unfortunate bug bite victim of the third book. Then a teaser shows that story playing out with her.
  • Dumb Blonde: Averted, she is a pretty blonde girl but was the only one to recognize Auggie's costume as Pierot without being told first. note 
  • Face Full Of Spider Wing Wong: One of the most infamous stories for this reason.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Ruth had no surname in the original "Red Spot" story.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ruth is the girly girl to Stella’s tomboy.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She's terrified of spiders, and flips out when some get on her in the Bellows' house. The group finds her curled up in a ball sobbing her eyes out when thousands burst out of her wound.

Tommy Milner
Portrayed By: Austin Abrams

The resident Jerk Jock who terrorizes the heroes.

  • Adaptation Name Change: His name is a shortened version of Thomas, Harold's victim in the original story, who also bullied the scarecrow and paid in the worst way possible.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: While Thomas clearly had some issues with how he treated Harold (who he and Alfred modeled after a real farmer they hated), he was never shown to be the abrasive, violent dirtbag Tommy is.
    • Somewhat inverted by the fact that, unlike the original Thomas, he doesn't keep tormenting Harold after finding out he's sentient. On the other hand, he never really gets the chance to, since the first thing Harold does after gaining sentience is turn him into a scarecrow.
  • And I Must Scream: Impaled with a pitchfork, then transformed into a scarecrow. And considering his No-Sell efforts to kill Harold, it seems unlikely that he'll ever find an escape from his condition.
  • Asshole Victim: Given that he was an abusive, racist bully, it's satisfying to see him get his just desserts. Lampshaded by Auggie.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: For his date, Ruth.
  • Batter Up!: Loves using his baseball bat for purposes other than what it's intended for.
  • Blood Knight: Was one of those drafted for the Vietnam War and is very eager to kill commies out of fun.
  • Death by Irony: He's a violent bully who gets turned into a scarecrow by someone he casually used as a punching bag, and ends up in his place.
  • Enmity with an Object: Not even inanimate objects are safe from Tommy's bullying; he seems to have some personal loathing against Harold the Scarecrow, routinely beating him with a bat and pelting him with beer bottles while cursing him out. Then Harold comes alive and reveals the feeling is very much mutual.
  • Jerk Jock: He fits the bill completely. Wears a letter jacket, terrorizes people with a baseball bat, and is shown to be quite abusive to Ruth.
  • Kick the Dog: Taunts Stella about her Missing Mom.
  • The Neidermeyer: He is a Jerk Jock who is infamous amongst Stella and her friends and is happy to be drafted into the Vietnam War so he can act out his Blood Knight Sociopathic Soldiering against the NVA. If he hadn't been turned into a scarecrow, Tommy would have likely been this in 'Nam.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Calls Ramon a "wetback", and paints it on his car hood and trunk.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Since he is a Jerk Jock and Blood Knight who is eager to get drafted into Vietnam just to kill for the heck of it. If he hadn't been turned into a scarecrow, Tommy would have likely been this in 'Nam.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's unknown if he's dead or sentinent and alive like Harold was after turning into a scarecrow.

Deputy Roy Nicholls

Portrayed by: Dean Norris

Stella's father.

  • Adult Fear: He's clearly worried when Stella calls him and tells him that she may disappear without explaining why. Considering she's his only family and that his wife also disappeared under mysterious circumstances, he has every reason to be worried.
  • Open-Minded Parent: He has no problem with Stella hanging out with the boys, and in fact he encourages her to spend time with her friends instead of staying in her room alone.
  • Parents as People: He clearly loves Stella with all his heart, but he struggles as a single father. Not only does he have to deal with the pain of his wife's disappearance and his daughter being blamed for that, but he also works long hours and rarely has time for his daughter.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Because he's a single father, he has to work long hours just to make ends meet. As such, he and Stella don't get to see each other as often as they'd like.

Chief Turner

Portrayed by: Gil Bellows

The head of police in Mill Valley.

  • Asshole Victim: When the Jangly Man kills him.
  • Dirty Cop: Clearly has a very racist attitude towards Ramon. Also, it's implied he may have known of Tommy's notorious bullying in town, but deliberately turned to a blind eye to it due to their shared support for the Vietnam War and racism, not caring about those who are picked on by Tommy. When Turner visits Ramon at the garage to question him over Tommy's disappearance, he seems amused at seeing that Tommy vandalized his car. Even if Ruth made good on her word to snitch on Tommy to Turner if Tommy didn't stop locking in Stella and her friends had Tommy not locked her up too, chances are Turner would have ignored Ruth's warnings out of favoritism for Tommy.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of A Jerk: When he addresses Stella after her tearful talk with her dad
  • Neck Snap: The Jangly Man dispatches him this way.

Ephraim Bellows

Portrayed by: Will Carr, Elias Edraki (Voice; as a ghost)

Sarah Bellows' elder brother, and a doctor at the sanitarium

  • Cain and Abel: He had his younger sister locked up and tortured for trying to warn the townspeople over his and their family's misdeeds.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Used 'electroshock therapy' to torture Sarah in order to force her to confess to hurting children.
  • Greed: As one of the Bellows family, Ephraim couldn't have cared less how their mill was poisoning children, as long as he filled his pockets.
  • The Sociopath: Ephraim is chillingly indifferent to the deaths he caused with the family mill and his 'conversation' with Sarah as a patient is him torturing his sobbing, begging sister while never raising his voice above a calm tone as he tortures her.


Harold the Scarecrow
As Alfred watched, Harold kneeled down and stretched out a bloody skin to dry in the sun.
Original Story: "Harold"
Portrayed By: Mark Steger
A sentient, murderous scarecrow.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: The original book's Harold wasn't a genius,but he gradually showed signs of cunning to intimidate his owners,to the point where he could skin one of them with his bare hands and make him into leather by the story's end. But this Harold has little to no personality, showing no sign of anger or resentment until Sarah brings him to life and is basically a lumbering weapon for her to dispatch Tommy. And when he does get Tommy, he does it through powers the book gave him rather than practical means like his story counterpart.
  • Creepy Cockroach: One shot in the trailer has numerous cockroaches crawling on his face.
  • Creepy Crows: There is a raven sitting on Harold's head on the first poster.
  • Death Glare: His one expression is an ominous stare.
  • Dumb Muscle: He fits this more than any of Sarah's other creatures, since he's a lumbering angry brute whose tactic of catching his prey is walking after them until they can't run anymore.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Tommy tries to do this to Harold with a pitchfork. When Harold takes it without even flinching, he turns the pitchfork on Tommy, triggering Tommy's transformation into a scarecrow himself.
  • Implacable Man: As Tommy finds out, Harold simply cannot be stopped, and running will just delay the inevitable.
  • Mugging the Monster: Much like the original story. Some jocks use him as a pinata for laughs in the official trailer. He isn't in a very forgiving mood when he gains sapience.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Eat shit, Harold!"
  • Scary Scarecrow: His book depiction provides the page image for a reason.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Despite how slowly he walks, he uses Villain Teleportation to stalk Tommy through the cornfield to let him know that his number is finally up.
  • The Dog Bites Back: It's not clear how much agency Harold has, but it's implied in both story and movie that he remembers all the abuse his owner put him through and is eager to let him know.
  • Torso with a View: He has an enormous gaping hole in his body, but it doesn't seem to inhibit his movement at all.
  • Tranquil Fury: He doesn't make a sound as he lumbers after Tommy, which drives home that he's royally pissed off.
  • Villain Teleportation: No matter how many twists and turns Tommy takes while navigating through the cornfield, Harold manages to find him and teleport to his location.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: He disappears from the film after doing away with Tommy. It's not clear if he ceased to exist with his story complete, absorbed Tommy into himself, or is still roaming around somewhere.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Tommy Milner beats him with a bat. Harold's response? Make him disappear. How? By turning him into a scarecrow.

Big Toe
Who took my big toooooe?
Original Story: The Big Toe
Portrayed By: Javier Botet
A toeless corpse that stalks Auggie Hilderbrandt in search of her missing big toe.
  • Agony of the Feet: She is missing one of her big toes after all.
  • Composite Character: Her face, with its empty eye sockets and gaping pained mouth, is based on the famous ghost woman illustration from the "Haunted House" story in the original books.
  • Eyeless Face: Her eye sockets appear to be completely empty.
  • Lean and Mean: Big Toe is incredibly tall and gangly.
  • Undead Barefooter: Big Toe wears no shoes or socks to better show off that missing toe.

Pale Lady
She leaned over the bed and whispered, "This is an evil place. Flee while you can."
Original Story: "The Dream"
Portrayed By: Mark Steger
A bloated ghostly woman that harasses Chuck Steinberg in the hospital basement.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original story, she was benevolent, only appearing to warn the protagonist about the house she's staying at being "an evil place". Here, she's just as dangerous as the other monsters released from the book.
  • The Adjectival Man: Self-explanatory, the Pale Lady.
  • Black Bead Eyes: A rare example of this being done in live-action and part of what makes her so unsettling.
  • Clothing Appendage: Her dress fades directly into her skin.
  • Deadly Hug: When she finally corners Chuck, she hugs him so hard that she straight up absorbs him into her body.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Much like the story, she has an oddly sweet but still disturbing smile as she hunts down Chuck.
  • False Reassurance: In Chuck's dream, she constantly warns him to runaway while he still can, even though she's the one hunting him down.
  • Gonk: Definitely incredibly ugly and unsettling due to being a straight adaptation of Stephen Gammell's original illustration.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The original story didn't actually give the character a proper name, but the film's marketing consistently refers to her as the Pale Lady.
  • Psychopathic Woman Child: She looks so happy and cheerful as she's trying to hug Chuck, like a toddler running after a kitten.
  • Self-Duplication: Has the ability to create more of herself in order to corner Chuck.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: A bit more unusual than the typical example, but she somewhat fits.
  • Token Good Teammate: The Pale Lady isn't good by any means but her demeanor is less sadistic and cruel than the other monsters, coming off more as a curious and playful creature who doesn't understand why the boy in the hall is terrified of her. And to be fair, it's implied she was trying to warn Chuck of the danger in his dream, which he might've avoided had his friends just let him wait outside the hospital.
  • Villain Teleportation: She has gained the ability to teleport mid-step across vast distances.

Jangly Man
Me Tie Dough-Ty Walker!
Original Story: "What Do You Come For", "Mi Tie Dough-ty Walker", "Aaron Kelly's Bones"
Portrayed By: Troy James (Suit), Andrew Jackson (Voice)
An emaciated ghoul-like figure that stalks Ramón Morales.
  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: One of the Jangly Man's tricks is crab-walking on all fours. His head is turned upside-down the whole time, such that it appears right-side-up to us but is upside-down relative to the rest of his body.
  • The Adjectival Man: He is the Jangly Man after all.
  • Body Horror: The Jangly Man is a creature composed of severed body parts that can rearrange themselves in various formations.
  • Break Them by Talking: A rare one-word version. Since he embodies the guilt Ramon feels over dodging the draft, he repeatedly taunts him by shouting "COWARD!" as he pursues him.
  • Composite Character: The Jangly Man is a composite of several characters, namely the severed head from "Mi Tie Dough-ty Walker", the 'great, gangling man' from "What Do You Come For" and Aaron Kelly from "Aaron Kelly's Bones".
  • Immune to Bullets: Chief Turner empties an entire clip into the Jangly Man's head. Jangly Man doesn't even flinch.
  • Implacable Man: Like the others, there's no way to stop him; he's immune to all kinds of physical harm, and he can track his prey from anywhere.
  • Jerkass: He is easily the nastiest of Sarah's creations, taking sadistic glee in Ramon's fear, cruelly taunting him about his desertion, and as shown by Chief Turner, will kill anyone who gets between him and his target.
  • Kick the Dog: Averted literally, since he spares the dog that senses his presence, but played straight when he calls Ramon, a scared teenager who just lost his brother, a coward.
  • Lightning Bruiser: For being in such a high state of decay, he's pretty quick when running on all fours, and he's strong enough to break a man's neck with one hand.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: A close examination of the Jangly Man's face reveals that he has multiple sets of teeth in his mouth. To be more specific, he doesn't have multiple rows like a shark, he essentially has two sets of teeth side by side.
  • "Open!" Says Me: Is definitely not opposed to busting down doors to get at his victims.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: When he is pinned and trapped against a truck by Ramon's car bumper, the Jangly Man simply lets himself fall to pieces and reassemble in order to escape.
  • Slasher Smile: He is constantly sporting a pretty nasty one, displaying his two sets of teeth.

Ghost of Sarah Bellows
The haunt came right across the room, straight to him, and took hold of his coat.
Original Story: "The Haunted House"
Portrayed By: Kathleen Pollard
The ghost of Sarah Bellows, the author of the book of scary stories.
  • Albinos are Freaks: Sarah was persecuted by her own family and locked away from the world because she was born albino. In life, she was a hero who tried to save the town from her family, as their mill operations were poisoning the water supply. Sarah's family successfully convinced the townspeople that Sarah was a witch who was responsible for the deaths of several children, and driving Sarah to suicide. As a spirit, Sarah embraces everything her family thought her to be, and terrorizes the town in the present.
  • Big Bad: Sarah Bellows is the woman responsible for haunting the protagonists. However, she is simply lashing out at a town that treated her like a freak, a sentiment that was mainly started by her family.
  • Came Back Strong: After she committed suicide she came back as a vengeful ghost who successfully murdered her evil family.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sarah became a ghost after hanging herself.
  • Eyeless Face: Like Big Toe, her eye sockets are empty.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: For all the sympathy Sarah is afforded, Stella makes it clear she has become a monster and her pain gives her no right whatsoever to hurt innocent people uninvolved with her own torment.
  • Heel Realization: Stella's words genuinely strike a chord in her, and she departs without harming anyone further.
  • Monochrome Apparition: She is completely white and transparent. The former is justified by her being an albino in life.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: The ghost woman is unique among the film's creature thanks to being based primarily on Brett Helquist's illustration of "The Haunted House" rather than Stephen Gammell's. However, this is largely because Gammell's illustration was used to design the Big Toe creature.
  • Supernatural Floating Hair: Her hair seems to undulate as if underwater.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: The final 'battle' with Sarah is Stella reasoning with her, calling her out for becoming a monster in turn and promising to tell her true story, allowing Sarah to move on.
  • Tragic Villain: Sarah was a victim who tried to warn the town about her family's paper mill poisoning the children. Her family stigmatized her as a monster, locked her away and tortured her. She eventually became a vengeful, furious ghost as a result.

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