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Series / Are You Afraid of the Dark?

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"Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story....The Tale of the Lost Troper."

Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a children's horror series created by D. J. MacHale and Ned Kandel for YTV in Canada, while it was also aired on Nickelodeon in the U.S.

The pilot of the show was broadcast on October 31, 1991, and the show originally lasted for five seasons from August 1992 to April 1996. The show was then revived in February 1999,note  running two seasons before ending again in June 2000. The show was revived again in October 2019 as a limited run series before being renewed for two more seasons, in which it became a Thematic Series with a different Midnight Society cast and horror scenario per season.

The show revolved around a club of teenagers called the "Midnight Society" who meet around a campfire in the woods once a week to tell horror stories. Each of the members had their own quirk and storytelling style; one specialized in fairytale-like stories, another in Trapped in Another World stories. The show was just like your typical Speculative Fiction/horror anthology series like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt, but for the early teen set.

With creative plots, readiness to completely eschew formula, and genuinely frightening imagery that more than made up for the limited budgets, AYAOTD introduced many a child of the '90s to some of their first Horror Tropes, not to mention sci-fi and the occasional dose of Kafka. The nature of the show's scariness can be likened to R. L. Stine's Goosebumps novels (Stine's books themselves were later adapted into a TV series as well).

While the original Midnight Society went through a few new additions and farewells over the seasons, the show's first revival replaced the entire cast except for Tucker, the little brother of the previous leader Gary, who now led the new Midnight Society. The entire flavor of the stories also changed, becoming less creepy and surprising, and more about leading up to an Anvilicious Aesop. The second revival hit the air after a lengthy production in which it began life as a planned film adaptationnote , eventually morphing into a limited series format. This revival would run for a second season, with a third picked up for renewal in March 2022.

The show also had a tie-in video game, The Tale of Orpheo's Curse, released in 1994. There was a book series from 1995 to 1999 as well as a few audio tapes. In 2023, a new book series was launched, as well as a graphic novel series.

Of course, no description of the series would be complete without mentioning its terrifying opening credits sequence. If you grew up watching the show, chances are there was a time when you or a sibling would run from the room within seconds of it turning up on the TV screen. In fact, when it aired on the Saturday morning show Scratchy and Co, a voiceover was added over the intro warning people to switch off if they scared easily.

The original series provides examples of:

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  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: One big enough to house an entire family in "The Tale of the Silver Sight".
  • Adaptational Heroism: In-Universe example with Dr. Vink in "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure", where he's more helpful to the protagonists than in his other appearances.
  • Affably Evil: Mr. Pimm and Mr. Collins in "The Tale of the Gruesome Gourmets." They're just plain delightful.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • The amount of adults that aren't the villain or victim and actually contribute in a meaningful way can pretty much be counted on one hand. One of the aversions appears in "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float," where an old janitor saves the episode's protagonists from being drowned in the pool by the Monster of the Week. It turns out that he used to be the lifeguard back when the pool first opened, and the little brother of his then-girlfriend drowned on his watch — he tried to save the kid, but the monster pulled him away. He then goes into a state of shock when the monster reveals itself in horrifying fashion in the climax of the episode, but given the past trauma this thing inflicted on him, that's understandable. And he comes charging in at the last second to save one of the protagonists again, giving the other one the chance to hit the monster with the chemical mix that ends up destroying it once and for all.
    • On a different level, the sheer amount of adults who witness bullying but do nothing about it is shocking. In "The Lonely Ghost" Aunt Dottie is completely oblivious to what a brat her bullying daughter is.
  • Aerith and Bob: One thing the show is frequently teased about is the fact that some of the names they gave the kids in the stories were downright weird. Some of the more strange names included Weegee, Dayday, Clorice, Jam, Perch, Rush, Jersey, Koda, and Bostick. Creator DJ Mac Hale took these names from his friends, who had them mostly as nicknames.
  • Afterlife Express: The radio station in "109.1".
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Peter's death in The Tale Of The Captured Souls has shades of this, as he is reduced to an old man and tells Danielle he is "going to join his family now".
  • Alien Among Us: "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" and possibly "The Tale of the Hatching".
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted in "The Tale Of The Renegade Virus". About 10 minutes in Simon is about to test Poe's virtual reality machine. Poe activates it and Simon "wakes up" in his bed, sighs "man, it was all a dream" and throws his foam ball at a hoop in his room, only to have it inexplicably break his window like he had thrown a rock. And it only gets more weird from there...
  • All Part of the Show: In "The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun", a playwright offers his titular co-star a potion that can turn him into a banshee during the play. But with help from his leprechaun friend, Jake pretends to drink the potion before tossing it back to the playwright. When he sees that his plan has failed, he turns into a banshee and goes after Jake (who begs the audience to help him while they are sitting back and watching), turning him into a toad, before he gets stopped by the leprechaun, who defeats him by claiming the talisman from him as the banshee claims Jake for himself; said leprechaun destroys the banshee with his Arc Words "Yours be mine and mine be yours." When the leprechaun restores Jake by his magic, the audience cheers. Not only that, but the confused stage hands are flipping through the script backstage, wondering, "Did we miss this in rehearsal or something?"
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Of all the different types of creatures that appeared in the stories, vampires were always evil on the show. Witches, as well, were usually evil and deadly, although good witches appeared in "The Tale of Badge" (and it can be said that Miss Clove in the pilot was just playing a game.)
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Sardo. Just look at him: Earrings, effeminate mannerisms, high voice, quasi-obsessive tidiness...Everything about him screams of Camp Gay.
    • Mr. Pimm and Mr. Collins in Gruesome Gourmets are incredibly camp, dress in bright colors, act very flamboyant and also live and regularly cook together. One does wonder.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Susan in "The Doll Maker" (until Melissa found her).
    • Karin at the end of "The Thirteenth Floor" (she literally has no mouth and is stuck in a suspended animation-type state, although her species doesn't seem to need a mouth to communicate).
    • Ross at the end of "Pinball Wizard" (trapped in the pinball game).
    • Cutter in "Cutter's Treasure" as Cutter's punishment of eternal life stuck guarding his treasure.
  • And You Were There: It's very subtle, but a few of the pinball game characters in "The Pinball Wizard" all have real-world counterparts in the mall. The most obvious is Sophie, who appears both as herself in the mall and as the Damsel in Distress in the game, but the Sheriff and the Witch are seen in the mall as a guard and a homeless woman respectively.
  • Animated Armor:
    • In "The Tale of the Bookish Babysitter," there is knight that attacks Ricky in his bedroom and later in the old crypt. After being defeated (or at least persuaded to surrender), the armor falls apart, revealing it was empty. We're unsure if it was always empty, or only after he gave up.
    • A far more straightforward example is in "The Tale of the Silver Sight," where Tucker finds himself besieged by General Candle's collection of suits of armor and military uniforms (including several knights, a Samurai, a Conquistador and a World War I British soldier).
  • Anonymous Public Phone Call: "The Tale of the Phone Police": A boy calls a number supposedly belonging to a man arrested by the Phone Police years ago for making prank calls, but quickly hangs up when he actually gets an answer. Said prisoner somehow calls the pay phone he and his friend are walking past the next day.
  • Artifact of Doom:
    • The clown's nose in "The Laughing in the Dark", the titular Twisted Claw, the Curious Camera.
    • The Silver Sight, from the Big Damn Movie.
    • The Sandman's book from "The Final Wish" only if one makes a wish on a star while holding it.
  • Artistic License – Geography: In "The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors" Emma's description of Ukraine's position relative to other countries seems strange, given that she's looking at a map. She said it's "in the middle of all those -ia places," and gives Romania, Bulgaria, and Transylvania as specific examples. Ukraine does share a border with Romania, but Bulgaria is south of that, closer to Greece. Also, Transylvania has not been independent since 1867, and has been part of Romania since 1918 (although parts of it were disputed by Hungary until at least the 1940s).
  • Artistic License – Statistics: In "The Tale of the Zombie Dice", the shop owner and the kids play a 'game' where you roll 2 dice, each with 1 skull on it, 3 times (6 die rolls), and if one skull appears, the roller loses. While the shop owner does agree to roll the dice instead when the protagonist asks him to, neither of them acknowledge (and most likely the writers didn't realize) that the game is NOT fair. If you roll 6 dice, your chances of getting a specific side on any of them is 66.49% — meaning that BY DESIGN, the roller loses about 2 out of 3 times. Since he set the game up presumably knowing those odds, the shop owner should have been a LOT more reluctant to roll the dice.
  • Art Initiates Life:
    • Inverted in "The Tale of the Unfinished Painting", as Mrs. Briar traps her students inside her paintings once they are finished with them. The only way to free her students from her paintings is to destroy the paintbrushes they had used to finish them.
    • Inverted in "The Tale of Oblivion", when a boy has some charcoal and an eraser, nothing happens when he draws something, but when he erases it, it goes to a pocket dimension called "Oblivion". It even works if he just writes the name of something and then erases it. For example, to prove it to his sister Shelly, he writes "Shelly's Underpants", then erases those words. The boy travels to Oblivion to retrieve something important, and finds out his magic writing tools were once used as weapons against those who sought to abuse their power.
  • Artistic License: In "The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun", Erin is a male banshee. A banshee is an Always Female creature. The name in Irish (beann sidhe) literally translates as "fairy woman". Erin also doesn't do anything that a banshee does, is much more malevolent than a banshee, and has powers that a banshee doesn't. The episode's version of a changeling also isn't what changeling means. It's depicted here as something that a human is turned into using a magic spell, when in actual folklore it refers to a faery baby whose parents replace with a kidnapped human baby.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Koda from "The Tale of the Dark Music." A borderline sociopath, he ruthlessly bullies Andy until Andy traps him in the basement with the closet-creature. Exit Koda. Although he is shown being bullied by his family in turn, and the ending implies the rumors and fear of Andy's Uncle were justified. While it doesn't excuse the bullying, the situation doesn't seem as black and white as initially portrayed at the end, especially coupled with Andy's Psychotic Smirk.
    • The teacher who threw the comic in the fish tank in "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner."
    • Chuck in "The Tale of the Gruesome Gourmets." It takes a special kind of douchebag to run over a child's bike and them make him pay for the damage to your car, including threatening said child with bodily harm if he doesn't. Nobody misses him when he gets eaten by the cannibals. If they actually are cannibals that is.
    • In "The Final Wish" everyone who was mean to Jill gets trapped in an enchanted sleep. This includes her rotten bullying older brother, her two bitchy friends and her parents who allow said bullying to occur and taunt Jill over her fairy tale obsession. The only one who did nothing to Jill was the boy she liked.


  • The Bad Guy Wins: Happened with many episodes, including "Super Specs", "Pinball Wizard", and most (in)famously, "Chameleons". In the revival series, we have "Wisdom Glass", "Vampire Town", and "Lunar Locusts"
  • Bait-and-Switch: Used in "Dead Man's Float"; it seems as if a girl is going to be attacked as she is exiting the pool, as seen with the Impending Doom P.O.V., but it's a mere setup for a Match Cut to the next scene.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: They just might get it, in "The Tale of the Final Wish" or perhaps "The Tale of the Misfortune Cookie". But most notably, "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" revolves around this trope, as well as "The Tale of the Time Trap".
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost, Amanda's Alpha Bitch cousin Beth treats her like crap despite Amanda being nothing but nice to her, as well as being mean to her nanny just because she thinks she's too old for one. At one point Beth makes Amanda go through some ridiculous "initiation" where she has to stay in a supposedly haunted house overnight before she can hang out with them. I turns out to really be haunted, although the ghost just wants her mom (the nanny), and traps Beth inside a mirror for whatever reason. When Beth begs Amanda to let her out, she refuses to until Beth agrees to stop being such a bitch. She does, and while Amanda probably wouldn't have really left her stuck in the mirror forever, it still shows she has a breaking point.
  • Big Brother Bully: Jill's brother Jon in "The Final Wish" exists to torment her relentlessly.
  • Big Brother Instinct: By contrast there are far more examples of big brothers doing whatever they can to protect their younger siblings - Aaron for Doug in "The Quicksilver", Mike for Ben in "The Shiny Red Bicycle", Jeff for Bobby in "The Unexpected Visitor".
  • Big Fun: Mr. Pimm and Mr. Collins give off this vibe in "The Tale of the Gruesome Gourmets."
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Erin in "The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun." He's a very likable, cheery old Irish man... who happens to be an evil soul-sucking banshee. Other examples include Marshall in "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran",Ms. Valenti in " The Tale of the Mystical Mirror", Stanley in "The Tale of Vampire Town", and Ellen in "The Tale of the Lunar Locusts".
  • Bizarrchitecture: "The Tale of the Dollmaker" features a door in the attic which leads into a nearby dollhouse, which, from the perspective of the entrant, is now life-sized. Similarly, a door in the dollhouse attic appears to open onto the roof of the attic in which the dollhouse resides.
  • The Blank: "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor", "The Tale of Many Faces".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Gary closes out both "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard" and Season 1 by directly addressing the camera.
    Gary: (pulls out the red bucket; looks at the camera) 'Til next time. (puts out the fire)
  • Brown Note:
    • On "The Tale of the Closet Keepers" the villains have sound based weapons that hurt/kill you if you hear them. However, the main character is a deaf girl and thus immune to it.
    • Any kind of high frequency sound is this to the reptile people in "The Tale of the Hatching." At best it causes them extremely painful migraines, and at worst will make them explode in a shower of green glop.
  • Butt-Dialing Mordor: A character hears an urban legend about a guy named Billy Baxter who was imprisoned by "The Phone Police," a secret group who punishes people who make prank phone calls. He looks up Billy Baxter in the phone book and calls him for a joke. Once he does this, the Phone Police start targeting him.

  • Canada Does Not Exist: The show was filmed in Canada but took place in a generic North American setting; sometimes, Canada-specific details like passenger trains being lettered for VIA Rail rather than Amtrak crept in.
  • Candy Striper: Downplayed in Season 5, Episode 13, "The Tale of the Night Shift." Teenager Amanda is a volunteer at United Hospital, and though her uniform's silhouette is identical to the Candy Striper's standard striped-jumperskirt-over-blouse ensemble, her uniform consists of a pink jumperskirt with white piping over a white blouse. Male volunteers wear solid pink polo shirts.
  • Cassandra Truth: Occurred quite often in stories, but especially in "The Tale of the Room For Rent", "The Tale of A Door Unlocked" and, much more severely, in "The Tale of the Quicksilver".
  • Catchphrase:
    • Sardo has two: "It's Sar-DO. No mister, accent on the 'do." and "All right, but I'm losing on the deal." The second one gets lampshaded in one episode, when an old acquaintance of Sardo gives him a box containing a genie for free and says "For once Sardo, you really are losing on the deal."
    • Dr. Vink has "It's Vink, with a vah-vah-vah" and "I am not a nutbag." He often busts out the second one even when no one calls him a nutbag.
    • Gary declares each meeting closed at the end of the episode with the same phrase, and of course all of the society members introduce that week's episode with the trademark phrase: "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story..."
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The plot of The Tale of Station 109.1 involves by none other than Gilbert Gottfried.
  • Characterisation Marches On: In the first couple of episodes, Kristen is referred to as "Miss Perfect" and there are references to her not wanting to break a nail. This implies that she was originally imagined as some kind of Alpha Bitch. But as early as "The Lonely Ghost", she was more of a Girl Next Door.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In the episode "The Tale of the Hatching", the school's principal goes berserk when Augie's watch starts beeping with a high-pitched sound. Augie notices that the tones used for class changes have a range of frequencies — but that they are all rather low. Another boy gets into trouble for playing a video game. Augie plays a tape with a high pitched sound in order to destroy the eggs, since he realized that the eggs and creatures disliked high-frequency sounds.
    • At the start of the episode "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float", Zeke informs us that manganite and water will form an explosion when combined. It comes into play in the climax, when Clorice uses manganite to kill the monster, which is made of water.
    • At the beginning of "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost" the kid's aunts complain about their stove being unable to properly vent smoke. By the end of the episode, the key to open up the pipe is found and used, leading to the discovery of a hidden stash of gold coins.
  • Children's Covert Coterie: The Midnight Society - a group of preteens who gather around a campfire in the woods at night to share ghost stories. There are even initiation rituals for new members, such as being led to the fire and telling a story while blindfolded. The reboot of the series takes it further with current members being masked for the initiation.
  • City Mouse: A lot of stories featured a city mouse visiting relatives in the country. Notably Amy from "The Hungry Hounds", Melissa from "The Dollmaker", Nikki and AJ in "The Night Nurse" and Claudia in "The Jagged Sign".
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Curious Camera and The Super Specs in the episodes of the same name.
  • Computer Virus: The primary antagonist in "The Tale of the Renegade Virus". Also, just as the story ends, his hand grasps the edge of the trash bin, which means he somehow got out into the real world.
  • Content Warnings: When the TV rating system was introduced in 1997, this was the first Nickelodeon series to receive one. The disclaimer explained its TV-Y7 rating was due to its frightening content. At the time, every other show on Nick was rated TV-Y with sitcom reruns on Nick at Nite getting a TV-G rating. The reboot series has its own about the content being scary for younger viewers.
  • Cool Old Lady: The two aunts in "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost".
  • Creepy Child:
    • Several, but the Waif Kid from "The Tale of the Silver Sight" is particularly memorable.
    • Chris in "The Tale of Radio Station 109.1" is a deranged kid obsessed with the concept of death. Fortunately, after the events of the episode, he vows to put value on life and engage in more normal hobbies his kid's age.
    • "The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors" are the servants of a vampire child.
    • Subverted in "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost", as it turns out the titular ghost in question is really that of a little girl who wants to be reunited with her mother, and doesn't really mean any harm on Amanda or anyone.
  • Creepy Doll: In "The Tale of the Doll Maker" this is discussed by Betty Ann. The story doesn't feature any, but rather an unseen entity that turns people into dolls.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: The titular ghost in "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost".


  • Dead All Along:
    • Multiple examples as a twist, but the most famous one is "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran".
    • Another is Didi in "The Tale of the Prom Queen".
    • Johnny in "The Tale of the Dream Girl". Uniquely, he didn't know himself that he was a ghost until the very end, with his living sister having to spell it out to him.
  • Dean Bitterman: Mr. Shaffner in "The Tale of Locker 22".
  • Deus ex Machina: Charlie the custodian coming to save Zeke's life from the monster after having been paralyzed with shock from encountering said monster.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Multiple episodes (i.e. "...the Curious Camera," "...the Hatching," "...the Midnight Madness...," "... the Dangerous Soup," "...the Renegade Virus") end with the protagonists having apparently won, the villain being defeated, and everything set to work out okay... before the last shot reveals, nope, the villain or some trace of evil magic or an evil race randomly, arbitrarily survived to inevitably strike again. The story builds up like everyone earned their happy ending, only to throw in a cruel twist for no apparent reason.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: A few episodes play the intro in some way, such as someone whistling it in Walking Shadow.
  • Disability Superpower:
    • An odd variation that doubles as a Chekhov's Skill. In "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner," Hooper, the nerdy girl who befriends Ethan, explains early on that she "doesn't have much of a sense of humor." Later, when the Grinner captures her and tries to use his powers to turn her into a mindless, giggling idiot, he is shocked to discover that his ability isn't working, and she tells him the same thing.
    • In "The Tale of the Closet Keepers", aliens are using weapons which elicit a high-pitched, unbearable sound against their victims. However, since the protagonist, Stacy, is deaf, it doesn't affect her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Generally Vink's schtick. He'll often lend help to a person or persons in need of it, but it will come with certain stipulations attached. And things go very bad for anyone who fails to adhere to them. Worse yet, often other folk who did not directly make a deal with Vink get caught in the crossfire. Not to mention the titular entity of The Tale of the Wisdom Glass wished to see A CHILD EXECUTED FOR SHOPLIFTING
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Danny hates being called "Danielle" in "The Tale of the Captured Souls".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • In "The Tale of the Dark Dragon," a boy with self-esteem issues drinks a magic potion (which he's warned is dangerous unless taken in small doses) that makes him feel stronger and removes his inhibitions but turns out to have very unpleasant physical side effects. A girl, not knowing about the dosage, drinks an unintentional overdose and very swiftly feels sick and in pain, almost dying. The magic potion could be replaced with a street drug, and the only thing about the story that would need changed would be the effects being reversed by The Power of Love.
    • While the Watcher (an older male humanoid figure) from "The Tale of Watcher's Woods" is rumored to have taken all sorts of people, the only 5 victims we actually see that he's held prisoner/tried to kidnap are all adolescent girls...
      • Similarly, in "The Tale of the Whispering Walls", while Master Raymond has confirmed male and female victims, it's the two women of the party that he tries to keep before he's thwarted by another occupier of the house.
    • "The Tale of the Vacant Lot" is about a female athlete who starts buying stuff from a shady dealer to improve her performance and make her feel better about herself. She doesn't stop despite how it affects her appearance and makes her start treating everyone like dirt. Then again, she learns the price is so high that Crack is Cheaper...
    • Any episode with vampires invokes rape or stalking metaphors, particularly "The Tale of the Night Shift."
    • In "The Tale of Jake the Snake," another aspiring young athlete (male, this time) accepts something from a masked, shadowy figure to make him perform better, which it does... while making horrible changes to his body and personality. That's not a magic stick, it's steroids.
    • "The Tale of the Closet Keepers" can bring to mind child abduction and trafficking.
    • Several episodes ("...the Curious Camera," "..."the Photo Finish," and "...the Dark Music") portray kids being bullied to the point where they snap and get revenge on their tormentors, except with supernatural weapons instead of guns.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Played with in "The Tale of Station 109.1." The station was a set-up to give ghosts that somehow got stuck on Earth a way to cross over to the afterlife. A couple of the people seen are terrified and forced to go in, but an old man that had been looking for "home" welcomes the opportunity. The station manager Roy (played by Gilbert Gottfried) explains why:
    "It's only horrible if you've led a bad life. If you led a good life, it's the best thing goin'."
  • Downer Ending:
    • Quite a few, but "The Tale of the Chameleons" especially. It should be noted that most episodes had (somewhat) happy endings.
    • Not that it didn't play with the idea. In "The Tale of the Dark Music", after the monster in the basement eats Koda, he gives Andy a new bicycle (said bully had previously thrown his old one under a street sweeper). The monster then says that he'll give the protagonist anything he desires as long as he keeps feeding him people. This is considered a happy ending, even though the final scene is him smiling evilly as his annoying little sister is shouting at him. (The epilogue undercut with the narrator saying he didn't actually feed her to the monster, only put a good scare in her. No one believed it.)
    • "The Tale of the Super Specs" ends with Marybeth, Weeds and Sardo trapped forever inside the Lady in Black's crystal ball.
    • "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard" sees poor Ross trapped for eternity inside of a pinball game designed to resemble the mall.
    • "The Tale of The Wisdom Glass" ends with both Jimmy and Allan trapped and screaming inside the (locked) limo and being dragged back to be executed by guillotine.
    Trevor/Judge Day: The Judgement of the Wisdom Glass must be carried out!
    • "The Tale of Vampire Town" ends with Adder about to be attacked and presumably turned into a vampire himself. This was after he'd killed Dreyfus and was starting to get over his vampire obsession, only to remember that it wasn't possible for Dreyfus to have committed the attack he'd read about a week prior, meaning that there was another vampire.
    Stanley: I hope you like Vampire Town, because you'll be staying here a long long time!
    • Poor Karin in "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" finds out she's alien, is unable to contact or return to her true family for another ten years, and may have irreparably damaged her relationship with her adoptive brother who panicked and fled from the sight of her true form. Bonus points if she permanently reverted to that form—now she'll be a freak forced into hiding for ten years.

  • Drinking Game: In "Zombie Dice," Jay Baruchel's character defeats the villain in a G-rated version of one.
  • Dull Surprise: Buzz's reaction to the hand-in-a-jar from "The Tale of the Phantom Cab": he screams with a completely stoic face. Lampshaded by JonTron.

  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In "The Tale of the Twisted Claw," the Midnight Society appear noticeably and startlingly younger than in the previous episodes. This, of course, is because "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" was the pilot, shot a year before production on the original series. When the first season aired it became episode number four (presumably to account for Frank's presence at the meeting). Gary mentions a "lights out" time in the open, suggesting that the original show concept was for the kids to be staying at a summer camp.
    • The first season has a few things happen that are out of place with the formula of later episodes. One opens with the very end of a story, segueing into the start of another. "Laughing in the Dark" opens as the story does and only shows the Midnight Society when Kristen interrupts Betty Ann. "Super Specs" also shows a scene with Gary and Kristen during the day in his father's store. All episodes eventually kept the formula of the kids meeting up for an introduction and then the story. Also the first two seasons cut back to the Midnight Society in the middle of the stories each episode while later seasons only show them at the start and the end. This let the characters discuss and speculate on the events of the story more, whereas later seasons would usually had the cast immediately douse the fire after declaring the end.
    • Also worth noting is the fact that many of the first season episodes didn't bother with introductions of what each story was about, whereas by the following seasons it became the norm for each story.
    • Even the change of membership within the Midnight Society could count as this. Notwithstanding Eric's unexplained departure after Season One, Gary is genuinely somber about David and Kristen moving in Season Three episode "The Tale of the Midnight Ride", and he even goes so far as to dress up in all black, almost as if he were hosting a memorial service in their honor. However, by Season Five episode "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float", he's much more accepting about Frank leaving because he says that the sadness is counterbalanced by the excitement of getting a new member. This further explains why, with the exception of Tucker, a whole new cast of members comes along for the sixth and seventh seasons, as if to carry on a newfound "tradition" of welcoming change.
    • The intro in season one is conspicuously devoid of background music.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The Gremlin in "The Tale of the Curious Camera." It's an entity within an old-fashioned camera that destroys, kills, or causes misfortune on whomever it shoots. It can hop between cameras, take direct control of machines, and eventually possesses a computer.
    • "The Tale of the Dark Music" features a root cellar-dwelling entity all of which we see are its glowing red eyes and the various manifestations it creates in the basement.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • In "The Tale of the Dark Music", a root cellar occasionally swaps its walls for a black void wherein float two glowing red eyes, as well as various phantasms.
    • "The Tale of the Final Wish"'s Land of Nod.
    • Dr Vink's version of Nosferatu in "The Tale of the Midnight Madness" immerses Pete in the events depicted in its reels.
    • The solidified stories in "The Tale of the Dream Machine" and "The Tale of the Bookish Babysitter".
    • The cells in "The Tale of the Phone Police", confinement in which erases prank callers from earthly existence.
    • A door in an abandoned attic in "The Tale of the Doll Maker" leads into the suddenly life-size interior of a nearby doll house.
    • The comic strip and portrait in whose events Ethan and Cody respectively find themselves immersed in "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner" and "The Tale of the Unfinished Painting".
    • "The Tale of Station 109.1"' features a waiting room for wandering spirits.
    • A Bigger on the Inside mechanical alien door in "The Tale of the Unexpected Visitor".
    • "In the Tale of Badge", the eponymous goblin brings into a house his "garden," a decaying swamp.
    • Oblivion in "The Tale of Oblivion", where extraneous matter eventually ends up.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Belle the genie in "The Time Trap" may be a Jackass Genie who was behind the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic (because someone wanted to go on an exciting vacation), the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens (because a boy didn't want to go on a camping trip), and the events leading to World War I (because a reporter wanted an exciting story), but she didn't cause World War II...though she does admire the work that went into it.
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: In "The Fire Ghost", fire are apparently living things and are Always Chaotic Evil, and left unchecked they could consume everything. It's the firefighters sacred duty to keep the fire at bay, according to the ghost of a deceased firefighter. A specific fire he put out returned as a ghost wanting revenge.
  • Evil Old Folks: The Warden in "The Tale Of The Phone Police".
  • Eyeless Face:
    • The aliens in "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor", who have no facial features whatsoever.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The Sheriff in "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard" wears an eyepatch, as does his security guard counterpart in the real world.

  • The Fair Folk: "The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun" and "The Tale of Badge," both of which heavily feature Irish-themed folklore (mostly invented by the writers).
  • Fairy Tale Motifs:
    • "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard" and "The Tale of the Final Wish."
    • Deconstructed in "The Tale of the Final Wish" where Kristen brings a book of fairy tales in their original versions and tells her story accordingly.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Ray Lawson in The Tale of Train Magic who is doomed to wander a set of abandoned train tracks forever, both because he caused the accident that killed himself and the rest of the passengers and for trying to trade places with a young boy (which would've doomed him instead).
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: The introductory speeches given before starting every story.
  • 555: Averted in The Tale Of The Phone Police. "Billy Baxter's" number only has six digits (indeed, the characters think it wont work at first for that exact reason, they call it anyway and get Billy Baxter.)
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: A common setup for the stories, since siblings were frequently involved.
    • When it comes to the Midnight Society, Tucker was the Foolish Sibling to Gary's Responsible Sibling as well.
    • Gary even incorporates this trope into one of his stories, "The Tale of the Crimson Clown" to illustrate the negative repercussions to follow.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran". All the Hide-And-Seekers wore the same clothes the second time they see the main characters. It's because they are all Dead All Along.
    • In "The Tale of the Dark Music", the mother mentions that the recently-deceased Uncle had never left the house yet made a fortune (pre-Internet days, at that). The reason why is explained by the ending.
  • Framing Device: The entire series was a bunch of kids telling stories around a campfire.
  • Freudian Excuse: Koda in "The Tale of the Dark Music" is seen bullying Andy, the main protagonist, but later we see the former's father bullying him. So, although it doesn't excuse Koda's behavior towards Andy, it does explain it, especially after he gives Andy a black eye and tells him he's going to beat on him for the rest of his life.
  • Free-Range Children: Many of the adventures of the story wouldn't be possible if parents kept better track of their kids. Plus, the Midnight Society apparently having permission to wander into the woods late at night.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Early in "The Tale of the Dream Girl," Erica briefly holds up a newspaper clipping to help Johnny identify the mystery girl he's been seeing, Donna. Despite the headline, the article text discusses how both Donna and her boyfriend died in a train crash. Her boyfriend's name? John.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Frank initially, though they eventually warm to him. Later he's replaced by Stig, who's only there as Tucker's friend. This also holds true for Eric, as he wasn't very well-liked to begin with, and he's gone by the second season without any explanation.
  • Gainax Ending: The final scene of the last episode, where it is shown that Gary's grandfather was telling "The Tale of the Silver Sight" to that generation's Midnight Society. Did the events of those episodes really happen, or was it just shown with familiar characters and a modern setting we know for our convenience? He could not have possibly known all the names of the Midnight Society members yet to come or that he'd have grandchildren for sure. It doesn't help that there are more episodes that take place afterwards and they don't mention or are in any way affected by it.
    • It could even mean that the entire events of the series except for that final scene were just ideas that Gene came up with for the story.
  • Genre Shift: While horror was a prominent theme, sometimes things would shift more towards fantasy ("The Final Wish", "The Pinball Wizard"), science fiction ("The Hatching", "The Closet Keepers") or even tragedy ("The Shiny Red Bicycle", "The Dream Girl").
  • Gilligan Cut: Sort of a cross between this and a Match Cut takes place in "The Tale of the Hatching" when Jasmine insists to her brother, Augie, that she's not going to wear one of those lame school uniforms, only for the scene to gradually cut to her wearing one and saying, "It's official. I'm a geek".
  • Girl Next Door: Kristen, then Sam, and finally Megan filled this type of role in the Midnight Society.
  • Grand Finale: "The Tale of the Silver Sight", also the only episodes to have the Midnight Society as the characters in the main plot.
  • The Greys: The "visitors" in "The Tale of the Unexpected Visitor" resemble both these and Energy Beings.

  • Hate Sink: Sam in "The Tale of the Crimson Clown". He's selfish, spoiled, obnoxious, a thief and an utter pain to his more benevolent brother. You won't feel sorry for him when the Crimson Clown goes after him to teach him a lesson.
  • Headless Horseman: "The Tale of the Midnight Ride".
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: The opening credits sequence features a heartbeat alongside the eerie music.
  • Helpless Good Side: David Lee, in "The Tale of the Misfortune Cookie". When he unmasks the warrior who has been after him, he discovers his own face underneath.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: In "The Tale of the Vacant Lot", Marie wanted Catherine's ring, but she couldn't give it to her since she values it so much. But in the end, to spare her sister the curse she decided to give Marie her ring saying it no longer mean anything to her. Once Marie got the ring, the curse on both Catherine and her sister were lifted. And Marie is forced back into her position again. As Catherine told her sister, "she wanted too much".
  • Horror Anthology
  • Honest John's Dealership:
    • Mr. Sardo. "It's Sardo. No mister, accent on the 'doh'!"
    • Played with in "The Tale of the Vacant Lot", which crosses it with The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. You can buy anything you need from it, but if you don't have the money to pay for it, the proprietor will take something else in exchange. She steals the protagonist's outer and inner beauty, turning her from an kind, attractive girl into a hideous Jerkass. Don't worry, she gets better at the end.
  • Honking Arriving Car:
    • In "The Tale of the Twisted Claw", after Dougie offhandedly wishes for his deceased grandfather to be at his house, the sound of a car horn is heard outside, and Dougie and Kevin look out the window to see the eerie sight of his grandfather's old car pulling into the driveway.
    • In the episode "The Tale of the Unexpected Visitor", as Perch and Jeff are meddling with their dad's computer and the Peabody Project to send a message into deep space while their parents are out for the night, the sound of a car horn outside signals their parents' return back home and prompts Perch and Jeff to shut down the computer in haste.
  • How Did You Know? I Didn't: In "The Tale of the Dream Girl", Johnny trips on a gravestone after being startled by his sister Erica. He sees that it belongs to the girl Donna. Erica asked if he was sure it's hers. Johnny is positive, she's the only Donna Maitland. Erica asked how did he know it would even be there. Johnny said he didn't. But Erica believes deep down he already knew. Since he was Donna's boyfriend, and they were both killed by the train.
  • Human Pet: "The Tale of The Zombie Dice" features a malevolent game shop owner who shrinks people down to just a few inches tall and ships them out to exotic places as pets if they lose his challenge.
  • Hypno Trinket: In "The Tale of the Hungry Hounds," a girl finds a horse-riding jacket worn by her aunt that possesses her into feeding the dogs that she left to starve when she died.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "The Tale of the... (subject here)".
  • Idiot Ball: In "The Tale of Locker 22", Mr. Shaffner leaves Julie/Candy unsupervised while she's working on her chemistry project with fire and potentially toxic chemicals!
  • If I Had a Nickel...: In "The Tale of Station 109.1," a supernatural radio station operator for the undead, upon being told that his latest "customer" isn't actually dead, responds that, if he had a dime for every time someone said they weren't supposed to be dead... it wouldn't matter to him because he's dead and has no use for money.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Felix is on the receiving end of this speech in "Tale of the Night Shift."
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Mike in "The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle", who is haunted by Ricky's death years ago.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Various creatures, but especially the cannibalistic neighbors in "The Tale of the Gruesome Gourmets."
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: Used throughout "Dead Man's Float".
  • Informed Flaw: Kiki makes a lot of jibes at Kristen, referring to her as "Miss Perfect" and saying things like "she's worried about breaking a nail" — implying Kristen is some kind of Alpha Bitch. This is at complete odds with Kristen's actual personality and just makes Kiki seem like a Jerkass.
  • Initiation Ceremony:
    • In order to join the Midnight Society, the initiate is given a "trial" session where s/he has to tell a sufficiently scary story. After the story, the current members of the Midnight Society all vote on whether or not to invite the new member to join; in order to be accepted, the vote must be unanimous. Stig, appropriately enough, didn't pass the initiation the first time (Ironically enough, with "Dead Man's Float", often considered one of the scariest stories featured on the show) and had to tell a second story to pass ("Station 109.1") Interestingly, those were the only two stories he ever told.
    • In fact, the tie-in game The Tale of Orpheo's Curse is actually about one big initiation ceremony, since you're playing a potential new member, and the Tale of Orpheo's Curse is the story you're telling to prove you have what it takes to be part of the society. Notably, you don't get accepted unless you end the story with both protagonists surviving, which obviously means you have to win the game. However, if you get a "game over", you don't get kicked out; instead, one of the other members of the Midnight Society will just give a dismissive "That's it?!" and then give you advice on how you can make the story better (which translates to a walkthrough hint).
  • Insistent Terminology: That's SarDO. No 'mister', accent on the 'do'. Lampshaded in one of the later episodes where someone actually says his name right, and he launches into the correction anyway, stopping short with surprised when he realized someone pronounced his name right.
  • Internal Homage: Zeebo the Monster Clown is apparently the writing team's favorite character: in later episodes, "zeeb" is a common insult, people reference his carnival ride and such. Heck, the guy even has a couple of video games dedicated to him in-universe. Interestingly, almost every single one of these Call Backs come from a different writer.
  • It Is Not Your Time: In "The Tale of Station 109.1", the hooded ones take Chris to the afterlife after his brother Jamie and the homeless old man (Daniel Carpenter, whom Chris is mistaken for all along) arrive too late to save him. Fortunately, it is discovered that the hooded ones realize that the little boy is too young and that it is, indeed, not his time to die, so they toss him back out alive.

  • Just Woke Up That Way: "The Tale of the Hunted", in which after a girl named Diana finds a necklace in the woods and has a strange dream about a wolf known as The Blaze, ends up in the body of a wolf to learn what it feels like to be hunted down like an animal.
  • Karmic Jackpot: After helping the ghost in "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost" the protagonists end up finding the gold coins the ghost had stopped the thieves from getting away with in the first place.
  • Kick the Dog: Of the 80 victims that Peter (Season 1, Episode 7) killed with his life-draining machine... 10 of them were dogs.
  • Kill It with Fire: How do you defeat a vampire? Burn its coffin. How do you defeat a witch who gets her power from a Magic Mirror? Throw it in the fire. Need to stop a demon coming after you? Threaten to burn his "precious woods." Evil dollhouse that turns people into dolls? Burn it. This was used so often that the tales of "The Bookish Baby-sitter" and "Many Faces" deliberately deconstructed it. The latter has the villain saying the kid has seen too many movies to think this will work.
  • Kill It with Water:
    • For some reason, this is one of the only ways to kill the villains in "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard."
    • Naturally, this is also how you defeat the eponymous Fire Ghost.
  • Large Ham: Some of the villains/antagonists love hamming it up, most notablyThe Sandman and Roy.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Betty Ann herds away the rest of the club when Gary and Sam are having a moment at the end of "The Tale of the Night Shift."
  • Life Drinker: In "The Tale of the Captured Souls", Peter uses his secret laboratory's mechanism to drain the souls of visitors and kill them by Rapid Aging in order for him to stay young and alive forever. And he is even attempting to kill off Danny and her parents Doug and Sally with the same mechanism.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday:
    • "Sardo's Magic Mansion" was a recurring setting in several episodes. Unlike many examples of this trope, however, Sardo did not appear to make the magical items in his shop, or often that he was ever even aware that he was selling anything that was actually magical.
    • Also appeared in "The Tale of the Vacant Lot," a Deal with the Devil episode, where the more magic stuff a girl bought from the owner, the uglier she became.
    • The toy factory in "The Thirteenth Floor".
  • Mad Artist: Vink takes this role often in his appearances. In "The Tale of the Midnight Madness," he's a mad filmmaker who, when the manager of a theater he's helped immensely refuses to give him one night each week to show his films, brings the vampire in one of his films to life to get revenge. In "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup," he's a mad Supreme Chef who uses a magic statue to scare people and turn their fear into a liquid he uses as the key ingredient in his soup.
  • Match Cut: In "Dead Man's Float", a shot of an underwater pool wall fades into a shot of a class assignment.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Used a few times.
    • In "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark," we never know for certain whether it really was the ghost of the original Zeebo, or if it was just the carny trying to scare Josh. The ending somewhat suggests the latter, while one camper speculates that the carny IS the ghost of Zeebo, but it's left deliberately vague.
    • There's also a subtle one at the end of "The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun." Although the story firmly establishes that magic is very real, and things such as banshees and monsters exist, when Jake asks Sean if he's really a leprechaun at the end, Sean simply replies, "When the need arises," suggesting that despite his past history with Gort, he may in reality just be a little person from Ireland with a knowledge of magic.
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: In the episode "The Tale of the Hunted", while on a hunting trip, Diana gets turned into a wolf. Her father sees her wolf self in her cabin and assumes she killed her. Diana evades the hunting posse until the transformation wears off.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self:
    • In "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror", the antagonist is an old witch/beauty shop owner who uses illusions to maintain the appearance of youth, but mirrors reveal her true age. When the protagonist investigates the witch's house after her friends who work at the shop go missing, she realizes something is wrong when she can't find any mirrors in the house.
    • In "The Tale of the Captured Souls", Peter avoids mirrors or getting his picture taken by a camera. Danny (the heroine) soon finds out through the mirror monitors in his secret laboratory that he is really 100 years old and that he has killed off visitors by Rapid Aging using the laboratory's Vampiric Draining mechanism.
  • Misfortune Cookie: One episode, "The Tale of the Misfortune Cookie" takes this trope quite literally. David Lee, a young Chinese-American who is dissatisfied with his family's lifestyle and longs for fame and fortune as a comic book author, opens a special fortune cookie from his father's restaurant. The fortune cookie promises him "perfect living within imperfect living" and transports him to an Alternate Universe where everything he's ever wanted is his. But even though he has the fame and fortune he desired, he's now estranged from his family and has no friends.
  • Monster Clown: Zeebo the Clown and the Crimson Clown. Although neither of them were really going after the protagonists for kicks: Zeebo just wanted his nose back after it was stolen, and left the kid alone after he gave it back and apologized, while the Crimson Clown was simply scaring his kid straight.
    • The Ghastly Grinner, an evil jester who stares into people's eyes and leaves them grinning, drooling idiots.
  • Motifs: Almost all of the kids in the Midnight Society have recurring themes in their stories. Here they are, as follows:
    • Betty Ann tends to tell stories about supernatural creatures either breaking into our world, or dragging the main character into theirs.
    • David tends to tell stories about what happens if you don't resolve unpleasant past events or deal with the evil inside people in the present.
    • Eric had only two full stories before leaving, but his Irish ancestry inspired him to tell a leprechaun story.
    • Gary's stories usually feature magical or cursed objects and the dangerous effects they have on people. Also, Gary keeps using the character of Sardo, the wannabe magician who owns Sardo's Magic Mansion ("That's Sar-DOH! No Mister, accent on the do!").
    • Kiki tends to tell stories about the dangers of being careless or deceitful, and warning against letting history repeat itself. She also tends to feature people of color and athletes to a greater extent than the others do.
    • Kristen tells a lot of "unfinished business" stories about ghosts who need mortals to help them complete their business. Additionally she usually brings a prop or costume to match the theme of her story. The only one she doesn't do this for is "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost".
    • Sam tells mostly love stories, particularly love that lasts from beyond the grave.
    • Stig only told two stories, but both were about outsiders being judged based on appearance or tastes.
    • Tucker tends to tell stories involving frayed family relationships that later mend, and in his stories the villain tends to appear because someone released him by accident.
    • Frank's stories mostly consist of Dr. Vink, with the exception of "The Tale of the Full Moon" and "The Tale of Train Magic".
    • Vange’s stories tend to revolve around games.
    • Andy’s stories tend to be cerebral and have morals to them.
    • Additionally, each of the seven seasons had thirteen episodes.
  • Multi-Part Episode: "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure" and "The Tale of the Silver Sight".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The look on Mr. Shaffner's face says it all in "The Tale of Locker 22" when he realizes, at the end, that his own carelessness almost killed an innocent student. Thankfully, Chris and Julie were able to prevent said tragedy right in the nick of time, and when they get back to the present, things are obviously different.
  • Mythology Gag: Zeebo The Clown appears in Betty Ann's story "Laughing in the Dark". Characters in her other stories reference Zeebo a few times.

  • Nephewism: A large number of the protagonists were either living with aunts, uncles, and grandparents or visiting for the weekend, summer, holiday, etc. Used as a way for the kid to stumble into the episode's inherent weirdness without having people wonder why they had lived beside it for years and not noticed it before.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Everyone in the Midnight Society to a certain extent, but Betty Ann in particular. Notably when Kristen has a book of dark fairy tales, Betty Ann says her favorite is one where a prince is kidnapped and the kidnapper puts blood on the queen's mouth to make it look like she ate him. Also it turns out her pet is a snake.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The titular ghost from "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost" prevented a group of thieves from getting away with their ill gotten goods only to freeze to death after losing his jacket while evading capture by them.
  • No Immortal Inertia: "The Tale of the Captured Souls" (Season 1 Episode 7) features a Big Bad named Peter who uses a machine to take life force from other people (and even animals) to stave off the effects of aging. The protagonist saves her parents by sabotaging his lab and giving back the life force he took from them, ultimately forcing him to spend his last remaining moments as a helpless, lonely old man.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never find out what the titular monsters look like in "The Tale of the Manaha".
  • Obliviously Evil: Turns out this is the case with "The Night Nurse". Urban legend says she injected Emily with poison to kill her. However it turns out Emily was allergic to penicillin and her medical bracelet had fallen off.
  • Once a Season: One story every season saw the tale's characters going to Sardo's Magic Store. This even continued into the revival seasons.
  • One-Steve Limit: Quite a few names get reused across various stories:
    • The name Julie is one of the most common, re-used in a lot of episodes, especially in Season 7.
    • "The Shiny Red Bicycle" and "The Crimson Clown" both featured a Mike, with "The Last Dance" featuring a Michael.
    • The protagonists of "The Pinball Wizard" and "The Walking Shadow" were both called Ross.
    • "The Final Wish" has a Jon, while "The Dream Girl" has a Johnny.
    • "The Stone Maiden" and "The Twisted Claw" have a Kevin.
    • "Jake The Leprechaun" isn't the only one to have a Jake; there's "The Lunar Locusts", "The Phone Police" and "Jake The Snake".
    • "The Crimson Clown" also features a boy named Sam, while a girl called Samantha (but nicknamed Sam) is one of the Midnight Society members - though in this case, she partially inspired the story being told.
    • "The Night Shift" and "The Lonely Ghost" have an Amanda, while "The Hungry Hounds" has an Amy.
    • "The Nightly Neighbours" and "Many Faces" both call their protagonists Emma.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Bobcat Goldthwait's narration at the end of "The Tale of the Final Wish" implies that Jill is still in her dream fairy tale world and that she'll be reliving the story the next time she goes to sleep.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Some of them really are. You have the "Fire Ghost" and the "Frozen Ghost", for instance. The former is literally the ghost of fires that have been put out.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Erin in "The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun" is a banshee, despite being male.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • In "The Night Shift," a vampire need only awaken and feed once every fifty years or so. The vampire's weakness is his coffin; destroying it will destroy the vampire itself.
    • "The Midnight Madness" features a standard vampire with a twist: He magically steps out of a print of Nosferatu. "The Nightly Neighbors" suggests the usual Hollywood vampires throughout; the twist there is of an entirely different sort.
      Betty Ann: With ghosts and ghouls, there are no rules; but a vampire's bite, only comes at night.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In "The Tale of the Full Moon," the werewolf is actually a harmless man living with a unique disability. The moon has no effect on his transformation... which makes the episode's title rather curious. Also, in addition to silver, his weakness is red roses. Don't ask us.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard," they're silver-skinned, wear sunglasses, bowlers and business suits, always have their left arm cocked at the elbow, and sway back and forth in unison in a trancelike movement. And water is deadly to them. A far more traditional zombie appears in "The Tale of the Reanimator."

  • Pimped-Out Dress: Judy "Dee Dee" Larson wears one in The Reveal in "The Tale of the Prom Queen".
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • The aliens in "The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had told Karin she was an alien early on instead of waiting until after they were forced to leave the planet.
    • In "The Tale of the Night Nurse", a girl was killed by her nurse after breaking a leg from a fall down the stairs. The story goes that she injected her with poison, but the nurse swore she was innocent until she died in prison. Turns out that the nurse was actually innocent and had actually given her a penicillin shot, not knowing that she was allergic. She didn't know because the girl dropped her medical bracelet when she fell.
  • Portal Book: Appears in "The Tale of the Bookish Baby-sitter" and "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner."
  • The Power of Love: Saves two teens from the effects of a dangerous potion they messed with at the end of "The Tale of the Dark Dragon."
  • The Power of Rock: Invoked in "The Tale of the Hatching".
  • Practically Joker: The titular villain of "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner" was a blatant Captain Ersatz of The Joker, mainly due to being a jester-like comic book villain with a manic grin.
  • Prank Call: If you do a prank call, the phone police will come after you, and lock you in a cell where you must answer incoming prank calls.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In "Dead Man's Float", Clorice says "Yo, Red! Catch!" before dousing the water-composed monster in manganite, killing it.
  • Psychotic Smirk: The chilling final shot of "Dark Music", with the protagonist giving one directly to the camera.
  • Questioning Title?
  • Rapid Aging: Mrs. Valenti in "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror" after Cindy smashes her magic mirror. Also Peter in "The Tale of the Captured Souls", once Danny sabotages his life draining machine.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The actors of the original series all left to go to college (which was written in the series), which is why the later episodes have new people (except for Gary's brother, Tucker).
  • Recurring Character: "Sardo" and "Dr. Vink" were the pet characters of their particular Midnight Society storyteller, so whenever their turn came up there was a good chance you'd see them put in an appearance. "Sardo" was Gary's pet character, and "Dr. Vink" was Frank's pet character. If you'd been paying attention, then, the implications of a story Gary and Frank announce had been a collaborative effort were immediately apparent. Although Zeebo the Clown only appeared in "Laughing In The Dark", he was referenced in many of Betty Ann's other stories too.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Gary is the Blue Oni to both his younger brother Tucker and his friend Frank.
  • Red Herring: In "The Tale of the Dream Girl", Johnny spot a girl who resembles the titular dream girl. Thinking it's a sign, he tries to talk to her, but she turns out to be an Alpha Bitch who ignores him. Erica earlier tried to stop him from talking to her. Because Johnny is a ghost, but the girl somehow sensed his presence and was visibly disturbed by it.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack:
    • The episode "The Tale of the Prom Queen" originally had "In The Still of the Night" by The Five Satins played during the final scene, but it was removed in the DVD release. It's retained on Paramount+.
    • In "The Tale of C7", the C7 tune was originally "Save The Last Dance for Me", but it too was replaced with generic music on the DVD.
  • Rewriting Reality: "The Tale of the Dream Machine."
  • Running Gag:
    • Vink, not Fink — with a "va-va-va." And he is not a nutbag. (As he is fond of reminding people, whether or not they have called him a nutbag.)
    • Any one of Vink's, erm, endeavors is called The Wild Boar.
    • Subverted in "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure". Rush, the boy lead, calls him Dr. Vink (instead of Dr. Fink, like every other episode) the first time, and even Vink has caught on that everyone thinks he's a nutbag.
    • It's "Sar-DOH"! No Mr., accent on the "do". And he's losing on the deal!

  • Samus Is a Girl: Used for Sam's introduction to the Midnight Society.
  • Scary Black Man: The title character of "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure", played by Charles S. Dutton, is without a doubt one of the most intimidating villains in the entire show. Especially impressive, considering that, despite being a ghost, unlike many of the show's big nasties he looks perfectly human.
  • Scary Fiction Is Fun: The entire purpose of the Midnight Society is so a group of neighborhood kids can entertain themselves by trying to scare each other.
  • Scary Librarian: The "Quiet Librarian", who sucks sound into a magic box (including human voices).
  • Secret-Keeper: In "The Tale of the Dream Girl", Erica knew her brother Johnny is a ghost, and was the only one who can see him.
  • Secret Police: The ones in "The Tale of the Phone Police".
  • Serpent Staff: The cult of Goth in the episode "The Tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice" possesses a scepter in the shape of a cobra. It can hypnotize whoever gazes into its eyes and holds a Crystal Ball in its mouth.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Didi in "The Tale of the Prom Queen" when she reveals that she is the ghost of Judy Larson.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Many examples, e.g. "Pinball Wizard": "Enjoy your free games, you'll be playing them FOREVER! BWAHAHAHAHA!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society" is a direct reference to The Twilight Zone, in which stories were occasionally "submitted for your approval."
    • The high speed tracking shot used in "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost" is possibly an homage to the Evil Dead movies.
    • Tucker's introductory episode, "The Tale of the Midnight Ride" is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow given a Hocus Pocus-ish twist to it.
    • "The Tale of the Unexpected Visitor" features a sudden arrival in the woods of a detached mechanical door which leads, somewhat TARDIS-like, to a disproportionately large interior.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Features in many stories, especially in stories by Gary and Tucker, who also demonstrate the trope.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In "Phantom Cab", casual guitar music plays while Buzz is hanging perilously off a cliff.
  • Spot the Imposter: Notably subverted in the "Tale of the Chameleons" when it is revealed that Janice's best friend made the wrong choice.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Waif Kid from "The Tale of the Silver Sight" is very fond of doing this.
  • Stealth Pun: Indulged in every now and then, usually as a subtle visual gag. For example, "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran" goes out of its way in an early scene to emphasize the tombstone of one Barbara Dwyer; perhaps her friends called her Barb.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: In "The Tale of the Long-Ago Locket", a love-torn teen named Jimmy finds himself in a Revolutionary battle. He helps a minuteman escape the clutches of the Britons and reach Harrisville to deliver a locket to his love.
  • Title Drop:
    • Before telling "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup," Frank has every member reveal their greatest fear. When it's his turn, he says, "It's no secret — I'm afraid of the dark."
    • This also occurs in "The Tale of the Dark Music," which is when Frank's fear is revealed for the first time; it also happens within the story itself, when Andy's bratty little sister asks him, "What's the matter, afraid of the dark?"
  • Together in Death: Johnny and Donna at the end of 'The Tale of the Dream Girl."
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • "The Dream Girl" - Johnny himself is also a ghost.
    • "The Thirteenth Floor" - Karen is one of the aliens.
    • "The Prom Queen" - Dede herself is the ghost and can now leave with her date.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Vange (tomboy) and Megan (girly-girl) in the last two seasons.
  • Town Girls: The initial Midnight Society line-up had tomboyish Kiki as the butch. The femme role was initially filled by Kristen - called 'Miss Perfect' by the others and frequently dressed up for her stories. She was later succeeded in this role by Sam - who told 'girlish' stories about love. Betty Ann was not that tomboyish or girly, making her the neither.
  • Tragic Villain: It is not an excuse to condemn A CHILD GRIEVING THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER to the same fate but it would be understandable to feel for Ray Lawson in The Tale of Train Magic being condemned to relieve his one mistake over and over for his entire eternal afterlife!
  • Tuckerization: Many charecters are named after co-creator DJ Mac Hale's friends, from in story charecters such as Dayday from Nightly Neighbors to Midnight Soecity memembers like Betty Ann. Notably, vange is named aftrer his wife Evangline.

  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: In the episode "Jake and the Leprechaun", a play in which the protagonist's character is turned into an elf turns out to be a real ritual which will subject him to a Forced Transformation and give the villain his lifeforce.
  • Unfinished Business: A few of the ghosts.
    • "The Lonely Ghost" - the ghost just wants to be reunited with her mother.
    • "The Hungry Hounds" - Dora wants to feed the hounds who starved to death the day she died.
    • "The Walking Shadow" - the actor wants to finish his performance of Macbeth on stage.
    • "The Frozen Ghost" - the ghost, who had frozen to death, just wants his jacket back.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: In "The Tale of the Jagged Sign", Marjorie tells about her relationship with Joshua. After his demise, she vowed that she would never love anyone else. And when her time comes, she goes to a better place, knowing she will always be with the only one she has ever loved.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Or Sound, in this case. In "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner," Ethan is on the phone with deuteragonist Hooper when his mother overloads the kitchen's electrical outlets, blowing up the microwave and bringing the titular clown to life. As Ethan runs off to investigate, Hooper, who's still on the other line, asks "Did your house just explode?" in a tone more appropriate for asking about the weather.
  • Vain Sorceress: Two of them. First "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror" where she turns young girls into dogs to steal their youth and beauty. Then "The Tale of Many Faces" where a theater actress steals the faces of all her own performers and wears them as masks.
  • Vampire Hickey: In "The Tale of the Night Shift", a vampire goes around biting the patients and staff of a hospital with only the two protagonists the remaining ones. Those affected by the vampire's power show visible bite marks on their throats.
  • We Can Rule Together: The titular Watcher of Watcher's Woods offers Sarah something like this while she's trying to find the ghost campers' old whistles. Her counter offer, if he doesn't back off, is that she'll burn his woods to the ground.
  • The Weird Sisters: "The Tale of Watcher's Woods" features a trio of Wicked Witches haunting the titular woods.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup" starts with the Midnight Society confessing their worst fears, including heights, dogs, birds, and, yes, the darkness.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard," we see the deaths of all of the villains except for the Executioner. He just sort of disappears.
    • Giles in "The Tale of the Hungry Hounds" is introduced and a big deal is made of the fact he died of a heart attack when the dogs attacked him, but the issue with his ghost is never resolved and he never affects the plot at all. You could argue that the hounds being fed means they won't attack him since they're not starving, but it's not mentioned or discussed.
    • Played with at the end of "The Tale of Locker 22" with Mr. Shaffner. Although it is not explicitly stated after Julie and Chris go back in time to save Candy Warren from dying and then return to the present day, when they see they've changed history and that Candy is now the "new" assistant principal, we can infer that he got fired a long time ago for being so reckless and irresponsible.
    • This also holds true for Eric in the Midnight Society, seeing how no explanation is given for his abrupt departure after the first season. Averted with David, Kristen, and Frank, however, as Gary explicitly states that each of them moved; the former two at the start of the third season, and the latter at the start of the fifth season. Also averted with Gary, Betty Ann, Kiki, Sam (and presumably Stig) by the sixth season, as Tucker has created a new Midnight Society and tells his new friends as much when introducing them to the meeting place, save for Gary's guest appearance in the three-part seventh season episode "The Tale of the Silver Sight".
  • "What's Inside?" Plot: The frame story of "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup" is Frank getting Tucker freaked out over what he's hiding in a box.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "The Last Dance" to The Phantom of the Opera - except with a violinist rather than a singer. This one appears to have a happier ending with Tara implying to visit the 'phantom' and play for him.
  • Wicked Witch:
    • Miss Clove in "The Twisted Claw", though she is less wicked and more of a trickster. She gives the kids the titular claw seemingly as revenge for their prank.
    • "The Pinball Wizard" features one as a secondary antagonist, one of many medieval fantasy characters brought to life as part of the pinball game.
    • Mrs Briar from "The Unfinished Painting", who traps people in paintings and then displays them in her gallery.
    • "Watcher's Woods" features a trio of witchy women who are really ghosts of campers that got lost in the woods. They still have a cauldron though.
    • "The Mystical Mirror" has a sorceress that turns girls into dogs to steal their beauty.
    • Likewise is Madame Visage from "Many Faces", who steals girls' faces rather like Mombi from Return to Oz.
    • Fairy tale witches also appear as threats in "The Tale of the Final Wish" and "The Tale Of The Bookish Babysitter."
  • Would Hurt a Child: In "The Tale of the Captured Souls", of the 80 victims that Peter has killed using his Vampiric Draining mechanism, there were 34 children! And he is bound to add Danny to the list of the children!
    • There's also the monster from "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float". Its first victim was a 10 year-old kid.
    • In "The Tale of the Closet Keepers", the alien leader wants the deaf girl rid of since their high-pitch sound-emitting weapons have no affect on her, unaware of her deafness. He even smiles as he tells one of his henchmen, while knowing she's watching (and reading his lips).
    • In "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner," the title character—a jester-like supervillain—has no problem using his ability to reduce people to drooling imbeciles on children.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Sam, the younger, bratty brother pulls this against his older, more benevolent brother, Mike, in "The Tale of the Crimson Clown". Of course, the premise of the episode implies that it will be a matter of time before said younger brother ends up being haunted and terrorized by the titular clown in question... until, of course, he piteously asks for another chance and the past has changed in his and in Mike's favor.
  • Your Head A-Splode: In "The Tale of the Hatching", when Augie plays the music at a rather high frequency, it makes the Mother alien's head explode all over them.
  • You Dirty Rat!: The title character in "The Tale of Badge," who, although said to be a goblin, resembles a humanoid rat.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup."
    Dr. Vink: It was only an illusion, but the more you believed in it, the more real it became...

The reboot provides examples of:

  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The Midnight Society in Curse of The Shadows fight the Shadow Man back to back with improvised light weapons.
  • Credits Gag: When Richard Dumont appears as Sardo's grandfather in Curse of the Shadows, he is credited as "Mr. Sardo", in reference to the running gag of him being called that and having to correct people.
  • Darker and Edgier: Mostly due to the higher budget and changing trends in media, the reboot series has more of a cinematic vibe with harder hitting scares and less of the '90s goofiness of the original series - although with some comedic, self-referential dialogue. While "Carnival of Doom" sometimes recalls the simmering dread of the original run, its chills tend to veer towards climactic set pieces.
  • Dark World: Quite literally the Dark House in Curse of the Shadows.
  • Family Business: Sardo's Magic Mansion is revealed to be one in Curse of the Shadow.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "Curse of the Shadows" opens up with Luke's dad waking Luke up by joking that there was a "kid-napping" (but he woke him up). As the episode progresses, the members of the Midnight Society learn Connor was spirited away by the Shadowman.
    • Also in "Curse of the Shadows", the Midnight Society look on as they witness June Murphy's past, and spot an ominous silhouette standing outside her bedroom, whom they assume is the Shadowman come to kill her. ...Only for it to reveal it's merely her dad. It's only later in the flashback that the kids learn they were technically right on the money, as Mr. Murphy cast the curse that made him into the Shadowman.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: How Gabby realized that "Connor" was actually the Shadow Man in "Curse of the Shadows"
  • Mythology Gag: Each season is littered with them, from naming a kid Betty Ann to having the spell from "The Tale of Badge" appear in a book.
  • Remake Cameo: Richard Dumont reprises his role somewhat in Curse of the Shadows, appearing as Sardo's grandfather in a flashback.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The last names of the Midnight Society in Carnival of Doom are references to famous horror directors.
    • Among the various Call-Backs found in Sardo's shop in Curse of the Shadows, you can also see a Slappy the Dummy from Goosebumps.
    • Hanna's nightmare in Curse of the Shadows is very reminiscent of the iconic bed scene in A Nightmare On Elm Street.
  • Spooky Séance: The Midnight Society holds several in Curse of the Shadows in order to get in contact with the spirit of June Murphy.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In "Curse of the Shadows", our heroes nearly lose progress on the trap they set when the Shadow Man (disguised as Connor) tells on the kids to their parents, who instantly ground our heroes. They may be on a dangerous mission to banish an evil curse, but they are also still kids who have school to go to, curfews to adhere to and (in Gabby's case) obligations to consider.

"I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed."


"I'll distract him!"

Ian and Katie argue over who's gonna distract the Headless Horseman.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / MoreExpendableThanYou

Media sources: