Follow TV Tropes


Series / Channel Zero

Go To
"You go...INSIDE."
"Do you guys remember Candle Cove?"
— Mike Painter

Channel Zero is a SyFy original horror anthology series. Channel Zero presents six-episode seasons that are each based on creepypasta.

The first such season began airing in October of 2016 with the creepypasta Candle Cove as its basis. In Channel Zero's version of the story, famous child psychologist Mike Painter begins having nightmares about a show he watched on television as a child. The show had a brief run of only two months, but these two months also saw a series of bizarre and disturbing events befall the young Mike which culminated in the abduction and murder of his brother and several other local children. Seeking answers, he returns to his hometown of Iron Hill only to discover that the show he remembers, Candle Cove, has returned to the airwaves and a new generation of children are seeing it for the first time...


The second season, based on the creepypasta "The No-End House", began airing in September 2017. Margot Sleator, a young woman still dealing with the recent death of her father, and a group of her friends attend the No-End House, a roving "art exhibit" containing bizarre and frightening imagery within its rooms. And as Margot and her friends will soon discover, there is so much more to the No-End House than a mere haunted house exhibit.

The third season, based on Kerry Hammond’s "Search and Rescue Woods" Creepypasta tale, the Butcher’s Block installment tells the story of a young woman named Alice Woods, who moves to a new city and learns about a series of disappearances that may be connected to a baffling rumor about mysterious staircases in the city’s worst neighborhoods. With help from her sister Zoe, she discovers that something is preying on the city’s residents. It began airing in early 2018.


The fourth season, based on the story "I Found a Hidden Door in my cellar, and I think I made a huge mistake," began airing in late 2018. The Dream Door installment follows Tom Hodgson and his wife, Jillian, seemingly happy newlyweds who hide dark secrets from one another. When one of them discovers a hidden door in the basement of their new home, they unleash a dark force that threatens their marriage - and their lives.

Season One stars Paul Schneider, Fiona Shaw, Luisa D'Oliveira, Natalie Brown, Shaun Benson, Luca Villacis, Abigail Pniowsky and Marina Stephenson Kerr.

Season Two stars Amy Forsyth, Aisha Dee, Jeff Ward, Seamus Patterson, Sebastian Pigott, Jess Salgueiro, Melanie Nicholls-King and John Carroll Lynch.

Season Three stars Olivia Luccardi, Holland Roden, Rutger Hauer, Brandon Scott and Krisha Fairchild

Season Four stars Brandon Scott, Maria Sten, Barbara Crampton, Steven Robertson, and Steven Weber.

On January 16 2019, the show was officially cancelled after four seasons and 24 episodes.

The series as a whole contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The premise of the show, taking notoriously brief internet short stories and expanding them into several hours' worth of television.
  • British Brevity: The show is American, but 6-episode seasons would fit right in across the pond.
  • Creepypasta: Each season adapts a different Creepypasta story.
  • Genre Anthology: Each season tells a self-contained Horror story.
  • Surreal Horror: All seasons' stories are very strange and somewhat inscrutable.

    open/close all folders 

     Candle Cove 

Candle Cove contains examples of the following:

  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The user mike_painter65 becomes child psychologist Mike Painter.
    • Back and forth in-universe. In the original story, the skeleton character is "The Skin-Taker." In the show, the character is referred to as "Jawbone." However, the brainwashed children and his appearances in the characters' nightmares still refer to him as "The Skin-Taker," so apparently the Show Within a Show went with A Form You Are Comfortable With. This is confirmed when we meet him in Eddie's realm in the finale.
  • Adapted Out: Janice, the (non-puppet) girl from the show is the only Candle Cove character not to appear or be mentioned.
    • That being said, at the end of episode 5, Mike's daughter Lily appears inside the show, perhaps as Shout-Out to the fact that Janice was the only human character on Candle Cove in the original story.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: mike_painter65 was a Nice Guy with a touch of nostalgia, who was communicating with users on a forum. Dr. Mike Painter is a troubled psychiatrist with Survivor's Guilt, who has suffered a psychotic break and is convinced that Candle Cove is hurting people in his hometown.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Candle Cove itself. The show in the original Creepypasta was just creepy and mysterious without causing harm to anyone apart from nightmares. In Channel Zero Mike theorizes correctly that Candle Cove appears on television around the same time child murders happen.
  • Arc Words: "You have to go INSIDE."
    • "You wanna see something cool?"
  • Adult Fear:
    • The story takes place in a town haunted by unsolved child murders, and then another child goes missing...
    • Mike's mother looks visibly worn and haggard from the realities of losing one of her children.
    • The police chief's daughter Katie goes missing when the parents don't notice but are in the house. Her dad is doubly frantic.
    • Eddie and Mike were terribly bullied, to the point where Eddie's finger got broken and no one did a thing about it. Mike tried to beg the bullies to stop, but he was Forced to Watch.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Mike Painter, whose twin brother Eddie disappeared in 1988. As it turns out, Eddie was possessed by Candle Cove... so Mike had to kill him.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Mrs. Booth's continued insistence that Daphne drink her cocoa implies it's either drugged or poisoned. And then Booth comes up behind and slits her throat instead.
  • Big Bad: The Creator of Candle Cove. For most of the season, we're led to believe that it's Frances Booth, but it turns out to actually be Eddie Painter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mike is able to save his daughter and put an end to Candle Cove, but only by performing a Heroic Sacrifice to cut off Eddie's influence in the real world.
  • The Blank: Jawbone/Skin-Taker looks like a faceless humanoid in a pirate suit when it appears in the real world.
  • Bookends: The first episode begins and ends with Mike getting a phone call from a mysterious child, asking him to come home.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Quite literally. Whatever caused the show to come back also reached out to Mike, forcing him to carve "Come Home Mike" into his arm with a kitchen knife.
    • Even more so when Mike's daughter is possessed by Eddie's spirit.
    • There turns out to be a reason for this — it's really Eddie's spirit hoping to pull Grand Theft Me on Mike.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mike mentions at one point that he and Eddie had an ongoing card game that they never finished. Once Eddie pulls him into Candle Cove, Mike convinces him to finish it, distracting Eddie long enough for their mother to carry out his plan.
  • Children Are Cruel: Eddie and Mike were bullied terribly by the kids in their neighborhood, and later on Eddie was driven to murder children over it.
  • Cowardly Lion: Despite being scared on seeing the mysterious figure in the woods, Mike still plunges ahead and faces it to save Katie.
  • Creepy Child: Any child under the influence of Candle Cove lapses into this almost immediately. And that's before they gang up to murder Tim in the same manner they "played" with a dummy.
  • Dark Messiah: Mrs. Booth seems quite convinced Eddie is a Jesus-like figure, since he stopped her seizure with his powers. She even sacrificed her own child to him and Candle Cove, and sees Mike as the vessel for his return.
  • Daylight Horror: Nearly all of the most disturbing and dramatic scenes unfold outdoors in broad daylight.
  • Death by Sex: Subverted in episode 4. Immediately after having sex with a coworker, Sheriff Amy decides to investigate Mrs Booth's Creepy Basement alone and finds Daphne's body but does not die. Instead, it's Jessica who' gets stabbed to death at her home by the kids.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Once his spirit is dragged into Eddie's Realm, Mike convinces Eddie to finish a card game they started as kids. While he loses, it distracts Eddie long enough for their mother to kill Mike's body, cutting them both off from the real world forever.
  • Eldritch Location: It's hinted that the real Candle Cove is one of these. We see one in the finale - it's Eddie's mental/spiritual world, and a twisted mirror of Mike and Eddie's childhood home, which Eddie can manipulate to his desires.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The last event to happen in the series chronologically is Candle Cove showing itself to Lily, and Mike turning off the TV for her in ghost form - this despite that the whole resolution of the series was ensuring that Eddie - and by extension Mike - could no longer affect the real world. Showing that at least Mike *definitely* can casts this into doubt, and having Candle Cove reappear casts whether or not Eddie can influence the world into doubt too - the only other explanation is that he wasn't actually behind the show in the first place, no matter what the psychotic Frances Booth believes.
  • Fair Cop: Officer Welch.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The reason why the Chief wanted Mike to come to dinner was because his older son is obsessed with David Bowie.
  • Foreshadowing: Early on, Mike tells that Eddie and he could run as mayor taking turns and nobody would note the difference. Turns out, that's Eddie's plan: take over Mike's body without anybody ever noticing.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Implied to be this with Jawbone, as while that's his name in the television show, Eddie and his nightmare appearances refer to him as "Skin-Taker". This is confirmed in the finale, when his true form is shown in Eddie's realm, and Eddie says that "Skin-Taker" is his real name.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Mike didn't anticipate that his brother would become an entity that would take revenge on their bullies.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The sounds of Mike being forced to ingest the Tooth Child are absolutely horrible but we don't see a bit of it. Instead the camera slowly pans to an onlooker who is too stunned and puzzled even to scream.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mike lets Eddie drag him into Eddie's World, then keeps him distracted from full Grand Theft Me long enough for their mother to Mercy Kill his body, trapping both of the twins there forever.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Tooth Child, which turns out to be Eddie's avatar. Also, Jawbone/Skin-Taker's real form.
  • Human Sacrifice: The child murders were these to feed Candle Cove and Eddie's powers.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Zig-Zagged with Mike. The police chief wife seems to believe this when considering who might have taken her daughter, and the chief considers it. In the first episode the only bit of violence he commits involves cutting a message into his arm, which landed him into a psych ward. The irony is that Mike has killed his brother, but it was on seeing that Candle Cove had possessed Eddie.
  • In Medias Res: Mike sleepwalks, meaning he sometimes doesn't remember how he got where he is.
  • Invisible to Adults: Candle Cove's entire M.O. This creates a Mind Screw for Mike, who remembers it from when he was a child.
  • It Has Only Just Begun: Uttered almost word for word at the end of the first episode.
  • Karmic Death: Mrs. Booth is killed by the mother of her "god" via the same hook she herself has been killing people with.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The first half of the series work to set up Mrs. Booth as the Big Bad. Then it is revealed that Mrs. Booth is actually serving the disembodied Eddie as his Dragon and working to provide him with a new physical body.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Subverted; Mike doesn't do any questionable medical tasks while he's suspected of murder.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: A particularly disturbing variant with the Tooth Child, who seems to be made solely out of human teeth.
  • Mundane Solution: When Mike encounters a ghoulish figure in the woods slashing its arm with a knife sends it running.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Mike's dream at the beginning, as the film crew of the man interviewing him turn out to be mannequins and dummies.
  • The Needs of the Many: Mike killed his brother to save the other kids in Iron Hill.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Mike during the search for Katie manages to find and save her. Due to having acted "crazy" on being asked about an alibi and gone missing, however, Katie's father detains him for a few hours. Mike lampshades this while the Chief questions him.
  • Not Brainwashed: Mike assumed his brother Eddie who killed the children was acting under the evil force of Candle Cove. In episode 5, it's revealed Eddie was not possessed; he really is the evil force of Candle Cove.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • With little hesitation, Frances Booth allowed Eddie to kill her son.
    • Mike has a vision where he kills his daughter Lilly with a pirate hook.
    • Marla smothers an unconscious Mike in the last episode. However she did it with his consent in order to prevent Eddie from coming back.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Mike himself, who finds himself in wildly disconnected locations around Iron Hill after losing track of himself.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: The brief snippets we see of Candle Cove frequently experience "channel overlap" type interference with much less benign imagery. This may have an added creep factor for older viewers who experienced the days of analogue television broadcasting, thanks to some Aluminum Christmas Trees. For those who missed them: when atmospheric conditions are right, broadcasts from far away or on neighboring channels can create strange "overlay" effects on a weak signal as the two images partially combine. Annoying when a ghostly soap opera invades The Price Is Right; disturbing when a surgery scene from a medical drama intrudes on Sesame Street.
  • Orifice Invasion: Eddie, as the Tooth Child, seems to do this with Mike to bring him into Candle Cove as a precursor for a full Grand Theft Me.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The show eschews catapult nightmares and the like so that it is not always clear when Mike's dreams begin or end, casting ambiguity on many of the events we see.
  • Papa Wolf: Both the Police Chief and Mike are this way when Katie goes missing. Mike, despite being scared on seeing a strange figure in the woods, faces it to save Katie and get her to safety.
  • Police Are Useless: Acknowledged. The Chief of Police's daughter Katie was the one kidnapped in the first episode, and his prime suspect for the kidnapper is Mike, who came straight to Iron Hill after checking out of a psych ward.
  • Precision F-Strike: "You shouldn't fuck with Mike Painter."
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Eddie is shown to be able to inflict this on other kids after being possessed by Candle Cove.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Acting Sheriff Amy, who somehow manages to avoid falling prey to the usual horror tropes and manages to ultimately kill The Dragon.
  • The Reveal: Several episodes, as the mythology is built up:
    • Episode 2: Mike killed Eddie.
    • Episode 3: The above was because Eddie was possessed by Candle Cove and killing other kids. Also, Mrs. Booth is leading the latest generation of possessed kids.
    • Episode 5: The above was because Booth had a seizure decades ago, and Eddie used his psychic powers to stop it.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: We learn in the second episode that Mrs. Booth is connected to Candle Cove, but the main characters are clueless for several more episodes.
  • Shout-Out: The first episode has a radio station in a diner identify itself as WKRP. Given the fact that the primary setting is a fictional town in Ohio, this is clearly a reference to WKRP in Cincinnati.
  • Show Within a Show: Candle Cove, of course.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: Jawbone's bones and the Tooth Child's teeth.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Mike's friends and even his own mother all act awkward around him upon his return to town, even before he becomes a suspect in the kidnapping of a child.
  • Supporting Leader: Acting Sheriff Amy. She's in charge of the town's response, figures out who is behind the murders, manages to avoid killing any of the kids under the effects of the TV show, and ultimately kills The Dragon, all while defying numerous horror tropes and somehow avoiding dying despite constantly going off by herself into dangerous situations.
  • Surreal Horror: A television show that only children can watch with a monstrous skeleton as its villain causes a series of child abductions, as a monster made entirely of teeth stalks the forest. Not helped by Mike's fraying sanity.
  • Time Skip: The last episode jumps ahead a few months after everything ends.
  • The Dragon: Mrs. Booth.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Abducted children have their teeth extracted and seemingly absorbed into the Tooth Child. Episode 3 shows they removed the teeth themselves under mind control as a "toll" for "entering Candle Cove" (via suicide).
    • In Episode 5, Mike starts growing an extra tooth (the only way to tell him and Eddie apart) as a prelude to becoming Eddie's avatar. To try and stop this, he rips the tooth out with pliers.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: We see the events of the show largely through the eyes of its protagonist, Mike Painter, whom we come to learn has recently suffered a psychotic break and required admittance to a mental health facility. This casts doubt upon the reality of much of what he is seeing.
  • Tranquil Fury: Marla seems entirely too calm when Mike confesses to Eddie's murder. Only when Mike tries to hold on to her does her temper explode and she slashes at him with a knife.
  • Truth in Television: Most people who are admitted into psych wards are in more danger of others hurting them than vice-versa, as shown when Mike gets kidnapped by several of his former friends after he confesses to killing Eddie. Mike in addition to killing Eddie has harmed himself under Candle Cove's influence, which was part of his psychotic break.
  • Vigilante Justice: After Mike confesses to killing Eddie, he's abducted by Gary, Tim, and Daphne, who are convinced that he was responsible for all the murders and want to force a full confession out of him. When Mike refuses, Tim tries to kill him, much to the horror of the other two.
  • Wham Line: Said by Mike's mother near the end of the first episode: "Who made it up?"
    • In episode 2, "You have to go inside". Not the line itself, but the fact that it's said by Mike's daughter, showing that Candle Cove's influence isn't limited to the town and its residents.
    • In Episode 5, "I didn't create Candle Cove. Eddie did."
  • Wham Shot: Episode 3: Eddie mind-controlling Gene into suicide.
    • Episode 5: Mike seeing his daughter on the TV, in Candle Cove.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Verging on Guile Hero. The protagonist is a renowned child psychologist, and despite always being in the wrong place at the wrong time and visibly suffering from a recent psychotic break, he acts like it. Mike deals with almost every situation by taking on a quiet, nonthreatening demeanor. He usually gets what he wants.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The fact Jessica won't do this, even in self-defense, leads to her messy murder at the hands of the latest generation of Candle Cove affected children.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In Episode One: Mike came home, chased "Jawbone" away with a knife, rescued the missing girl, learned the Awful Truth about his childhood watching Candle Cove, and left with his sanity (mostly) intact. Naturally, his hotel room gets a phone call, taunting him that the game has just begun.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: In episode 4: a kid correctly guess that Jessica won't shoot him even in self-defense.

     The No-End House 

No-End House contains examples of the following:

  • Abstract Eater: The creations of the No-End House eat the memories of the real people trapped within it.
  • Adults Are Useless: Margot's mother travels frequently for her job and departs on an extended business trip just as the story begins.
  • And Starring: John Carroll Lynch, who portrays the father of the protagonist.
  • Alien Geometries: Margot discovers that the perfect suburban world of the House actually contains a number of "unfinished spaces" that one can enter and which lead out to other areas they shouldn't be physically connected to. She and her friends eventually use one as a booby trap against John.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The masked being in Room 2 is a sharp dresser and quite dangerous.
  • Big Bad: The No-End House itself, though the role of active antagonist falls to its copy of Margot's father for most of the season, and Seth serves as True Final Boss.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The dimensions of the rooms inside the House do not add up to its exterior profile. Not only that, but the final room is actually an entire pocket universe the size of a neighborhood!
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jules succeeds in rescuing Margot, and John dies in peace after helping them defeat Seth. But Margot has now lost her father all over again and she and Jules must now face a world of which they have absolutely no memory, because there's no way to get what's been eaten back. And the No-End House itself is left free to continue wreaking havoc.
  • The Bluebeard: Seth with a collection of "hollow" girlfriends. When they are discovered, he says he is not a serial killer but a serial monogamist. Margot retorts that they are not mutually exclusive. There is Laser-Guided Karma for this in the end, since they all seem to be waiting passively to claim his husk when his family is through with him.
  • Body Horror: Alpha JD's body begins to rot not long after he kills his creator.
  • Boom Head Shot: Dylan disposes of Lacey's double this way.
  • Broken Bird: Margot is a mild version of this trope. She is left damaged by the death of her father, isolates herself in the wake of the event, and comes off as a bit jaded and cynical, but still comes out of her shell and relaxes in the company of her friends.
  • But Not Too Black: Played straight with Jules, her sister Allison and Dylan's wife Lacey. Averted with Brenna, Jules' mother.
  • Call-Back: No-End House is a separate story, completely unrelated to the events of Candle Cove. Except for a hallway inside the No-End House itself, which looks identical to the hallways of Eddie's realm.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Margot and Jules first become aware of the House by the mysterious videos that it sends to their phones.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Whatever the House is and wherever it came from, the fact that it contains its own universe pushes the narrative in this direction.
  • Daddy's Girl: While Margot and her mother seem to get on fine, it is made very clear that the bond she and her father shared was very deep and very special.
  • Disappeared Dad: Margot's father, John, is deceased as the story begins and she is struggling with the loss.
    • Episode 2 confirms that Jules' father is also gone, although the reason is not explained.
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: The first episode of the season depicts a frightened woman named Lacey stumbling toward the No-End House with a determined man in hot pursuit.
  • Driven to Suicide: In episode 2 we learn that John's death by allergic reaction was no accident. After discovering his allergy to the pills he deliberately took a massive dose that he knew would kill him. In episode 5, it's further explained that he tried to make it look like an accident, so his wife and daughter would be able to claim his life insurance and avoid their financial troubles.
  • Dull Surprise: With the exception of his girlfriend, Tamara, who stumbles out the exit door in shell-shocked horror, no one seems overly disturbed by the apparent murder of a fellow guest. Justified in that the protagonists believe those involved to be actors employed by the attraction and that it is all fake. JD even scoffs at it as the house trying too hard to be edgy.
  • Dwindling Party: Of the group that enter the No-End House with Margot and Jules, two quickly leave and one is almost certainly killed.
    • A more fatal version occurs when the group tries to escape the house. Lacey, Alpha JD, and Dylan all are killed in the process.
  • Eldritch Location: The No-End House, of course.
  • Evil All Along: Seth, who has been maintaining his existence in the House by supplying it with a steady stream of victims, up to and including Margot.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The House's denizens start out friendly and even loving, especially to the people whose memories they're modeled on—but at the end of the day, they exist to imprison and feed on the guests, and as soon as the friendly routine stops getting them what they want...
    • Seth turns out to be even worse, deliberately luring victims into the House and making sure they stay there until they are completely used up.
  • Foreshadowing: Margot's mention of a recurring nightmare turns out to be very relevant.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Zigzagged. After escaping the House, Jules and Margot make absolutely no mention of the death of their lifelong friend JD, let alone what they'll tell his family and the authorities about his disappearance. Jules, however, does experience a brief hallucination of him, indicating that he is weighing heavily on her mind. And, of course, they've both literally forgotten a lot about their friendship with him after being fed on by the house, which can't be helping.
  • Genius Loci: Seth believes that the house is a living organism which draws sustenance through its memory-stealing creations.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Alpha JD murders real JD, the camera cuts away from the actual beating to the amnesiac girl's face.
  • Handicapped Badass: Margot and Seth try to take down John using the same medication that killed Margot's father. This leaves him blinded and barely able to breathe, yet still more than a physical match for both of them.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Happens to John over the course of the Time Skip, coming to detest the damage being done to Margot and willing to do whatever it takes to stop it.
  • Hero of Another Story: Dylan, who has escaped from the House once before, although his wife, Lacey, did not, and has been trying to locate it and her again, up until the moment he meets Margot and her friends.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Margot and Jules have this vibe, although it's implied that they have drifted apart somewhat in the wake of Margot's father's death.
  • Horror Hunger: When the creations of the house feed, they do so by causing the memories of the real people trapped in the house to manifest physically as lifeless bodies of the subjects of those memories: a relative, a friend, a beloved pet. They then crack open these bodies, which are filled with what looks like cranberries in a viscous, blood-like syrup. The sounds they make while eating are pretty disturbing, as well.
  • Human Notepad: The woman introduced at the beginning of the first episode, named Lacey, has carved the words "This isn't real" into the skin of her forearm, as if to remind herself... Unfortunately, it doesn't do her any good, as her fake husband catches up to her and burns it off with his lighter.
    • Dylan has done the same thing.
  • Implacable Man: Neither bottomless pits, stabbing, bludgeoning, nor the same severe allergic reaction that killed the real version of him will keep John from reaching his objective.
  • In Name Only: No-End House keeps the central concept of the Creepypasta of the same name, but scraps all of its characters and reimagines all of the House's rooms.
  • Karma Houdini: The House itself. In the end, Margot and Jules make no attempt to destroy it and it will presumably continue capturing and feeding upon future victims.
  • Karmic Death: Alpha JD, after disposing of the original JD's body through cremation, is burned alive after being found out by Dylan
  • Kill and Replace: JD's double decides on this option and beats his original to death.
  • Knife Nut: He carries a gun, but Dylan prefers to do the dirty work with his assisted-open knife and does so at the slightest provocation.
    • By the time of the finale Jules, of all people, has become this as well, wielding a blade similar to Dylan's and with the same ruthless frequency and intent.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The House has the ability to do this to people. The girl Alpha JD makes out is implied to have no memory of who she is, and Lacey doesn't remember Dylan.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the finale, Seth tries to kill Jules by abruptly punching her in the stomach and dragging her in a house where her house-created cannibal is residing. Later, when Seth is being chased by his cannibal family after Margot releases them from their cage, Jules stabs him in the stomach as Monster! Mr. Sleator holds him until his family catches up to him and instantly hollow him out.
  • Laughing Mad: Margot suffers from a recurring nightmare about a madman who hides behind a mirror where cackling at her insanely. Guess what's waiting for her in Room 3 of the House...
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Enforced by the House itself, when access to the next room is provided by a revolving door with a "One At A Time" sign above it. When Margot goes through it, she's alone in a hallway of her own, and a projected image implies Jules is likewise in a location that's just for her.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Just when it seems like Room 2 can't get weirder, the lights go out a second time and not only has the room's inhabitant vanished, but so has the man he was standing next to, leaving only a smear of blood on the floor that leads into a crack at the bottom of the wall.
    • Emulated, although sans any actual murder, in Room 1, where eerily-accurate busts of the young people who've entered the House are set on plinths. The lights go out, then come on again to reveal that all but one (that resembles a girl who immediately chickens out and retreats outside) suddenly appear cracked open, with disturbing red-and-black hands pulling them into pieces.
  • Lost in the Maize: The exit lies beyond a creepy corn maze full of wandering memory-eating zombies.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: In Room 2 the participants are menaced by an entity in a bizarre-looking mask. He returned for JD's version of Room 5.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Margot and the others only meet Dylan as they prepare to enter the House. When the masked man appears in the second room, Dylan can be seen in the background, drawing a knife and readying himself for a fight, implying that he either knows or believes the place to be far more than a mere haunted house attraction. Turns out he does; Dylan escaped the house once, and is back to rescue Lacey.
  • Mind Rape: How the inhabitants of the House feed. They cause their creators' memories to manifest physically, which they then devour in a gruesome fashion.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Seth is a self-described misanthrope, and goes on a rant in his last scene about how disgusted he is with humans and their memories, so he lures them into the No-End House to strip them away.
  • Ontological Mystery: From the point of view of the new John and JD their story is this. They come into existence with all of the original's memories up to that point, but are aware of not having personally experienced them. Beyond that, they must gradually figure out what they are and why they exist.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Denizens of the house that have been deprived of their only food source quickly devolve into rotting, mindless monsters who will attack anything that moves in the hope of sustenance.
  • Schmuck Bait: The No-End House's entire MO. It has built up a legend for itself as the ultimate haunted house attraction, luring victims to it with cryptic videos and sheer word-of-mouth.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Most of the House's guests take this option, including a couple of extras who enter alongside Margot and Jules.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Dylan's mission to rescue Lacey from the No-End House ends up getting them both killed.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Averted. When Dylan initially runs into "Lacey", she describes the night they met perfectly — but it's not her. The real Lacey doesn't remember him at all.
  • Spotting the Thread: Dylan figures out that the "Lacey" who comes running up to him on the street is not real because she's wearing a shirt that he knows is actually in her closet, outside the House.
  • Surreal Horror: Even more so than the first season.
  • Survivor Guilt: Margot's father passed away from an allergic reaction to prescription medication. On the night that it happened, Margot got home an hour later than she had promised, only to discover his lifeless body. She now torments herself over whether she could have saved him if she had only come home on time.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: John tears into Jules with one the second he's alone with her. It confirms that Jules abandoned Margot when things were at the worst because Margot's grief made her feel uncomfortable.
  • Time Skip: A year passes between the fifth episode and the sixth.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jules by the time of the finale.
  • Tragic Monster: John from the house is portrayed with a great degree of sympathy. His acts of villainy come from his insatiable hunger rather than malice. He also pulls a Heel–Face Turn and helps save Margot in the end. Most of the sympathy also comes from a brilliant performance by John Carroll Lynch.
  • The Unreveal: Perhaps the biggest mystery of the season is just what the creature feeding off Jules actually is. We don't find out. When she confronts it in the finale she wonders that it might be a "psychological tumor" but ultimately decides it doesn't matter what it is.
  • Villains Want Mercy: In the end, Seth tearfully begs Margot not to feed him to the cannibal copies of his family.
  • Wham Line: "Falling apart already?" outs Seth as another monster.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Alpha JD believes himself to be the kind of creature that slays the person he is based on and then takes over his life. This dooms him, because his purpose was supposed to be to Mind Rape his creator. He literally cannot live without the real JD and begins to deteriorate almost as soon as the latter is gone.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: The House modifies at least some of its contents depending on the individual entering it.

     Butcher's Block 

Butcher's Block contains examples of the following:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The bulk of the action in episode three takes place in a hospital that is closing due to lack of money, making it this for all intents and purposes.
  • Abandoned Playground: A prominent location in the season. This is where the Peach's house used to be, before it was burned down.
  • Adult Fear: Even before entering a world of Surreal Horror, Alice has to deal with the mental health problems which her sister inherited from their mother. As well as the fear that she inherited them as well.
  • Affably Evil: The Meat Servant and the Gardener are weird and frightening at best, and their association with the Peaches and the Pestilent God make them shady characters for sure. But they're pleasant enough to actually be around and are the only inhabitants of the Summer House world that are never seen actively harming anyone or even having any interest in doing so.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: While the food at the Peaches' table generally looks appetizing, occasional glimpses of what they're actually eating peak through from time to time.
    • Joseph Peach starts experiencing this when agitated, causing his Game Face to peak through.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: In a scene that's surprisingly played very straight, Joseph takes a moment to mourn the deaths of Robert, Aldous and two of his children. He takes off his hat and sheds a few soundless tears, before offering a handkerchief to Smart Mouth.
  • Alien Geometries: The Peaches "summer home" consists of a large field of flowers with a mansion in the center. However, despite the mansion clearly being in view, it never gets closer no matter how far you walk. Also, despite looking only moderately sized from outside, it is enormous inside.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: "Sacrifice-zones," despite sounding like an invention for the show, are a real phenomena, although the term originally referred to environmental degradation rather than economic collapse.
  • Another Dimension: The Peach family seems to currently live in one accessed through the mysterious vanishing staircase.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: A particularly horrifying example with Alice's "Schizophrenia" monster, who starts out as a face glimpsed in a vision but steadily grows more corporeal until it begins to chase Alice.
  • Asshole Victim: The obnoxious student loan guy gets his throat chewed out by Alice in the final episode.
  • Autocannibalism: Zoe, in order to get around her new-found Horror Hunger.
  • Ax-Crazy: Robert Peach is gleefully crazy and openly cannibalistic.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Robert Peach sports a nice, navy-blue three piece for most of the show.
  • Big Bad: Joseph Peach takes this role for the first two thirds of the season. Then it is revealed that he is really The Dragon of the Pestilent God, who is the true ruler of the Upstairs world.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Luke when he saves Scissor Lady from Smart Mouth in the finale.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lighter than previous installments of Channel Zero, but still not perfect. The Peach family's reign of terror is over. Louise, Luke, Izzy, and Zoe have formed a happy, loving family unit and we see Zoe successfully managing her illness with medication. But Alice is mentally broken by her experience and institutionalized alongside her mother. Also both the Pestilent God and the Meat Servant, and possibly other ancillary members of the Peach family are still out there.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: This season has cannibalism, self mutilation, evisceration and lobotomy. Bon appétit!
  • Body Horror: The "vegetables" in the Peaches' domain.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Robert Peach, courtesy of Officer Luke Vanczyk. It doesn't seem to bother him that much.
  • Broken Bird: Alice. At some indeterminate point in the past, her mother suffered a mental breakdown and stabbed her sister in the abdomen. She later learned that her mother's condition was hereditary, and that both she and her sister had a chance of getting it as well. Later, her sister suffered a breakdown as well, tearing up her neighbors flower bed and screaming that she didn't know who her own sister was. This all turned her into a Stepford Smiler, terrified that she would suffer a breakdown as well.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Robert doesn't bother to remember the names of the people he's killed, saying that they "don't matter". He seems to have picked this up from his father, whose response when asked if he remembers Louise's brother is a mocking "What did he taste like?"
  • Cannibal Clan: The Peaches
  • Chainsaw Good: Louise uses what can only be described as a chainsaw-hedge trimmer to cut Robert Peach's head off.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The bootlegging tunnels under the town which Louise's basement has an entrance to, is used in the finale to escape from the attacking Peaches.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Scissor Lady ends up saving Izzy from the Peaches at the last minute, thwarting their plans and dooming them.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Louise's taxidermy hobby turns into a literal lifesaver when it comes time to perform emergency surgery.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Oh boy, Chief Vanczyk. First, he makes a deal with the Peaches to become head of the police department and tries to kill his son when he catches on to what the Peaches are doing. Then, when he realizes he failed to kill him, he shoots and kills three of the Peaches who were hunting his son down.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Most of the characters, at least to some degree, but the so-called "Scissor-Lady" takes the cake. She wanders around Butcher's Block, cheerfully warning newcomers about the crime rates and asking random strangers for scissors "so that she can cut off her bandages." At other times, she hangs around junkyards, finding abandoned dolls and cutting off their "bandages."
    • The Peaches' riddle-loving "gardener" is also one of these.
  • Cosmic Horror: One of the doors out of the Peaches' realm opens onto the vastness of outer space itself. As does the cloak of the Pestilent God himself. Joseph warns that the sight of it can be overwhelming and he's right.
  • Crapsack World: The Butcher's Block neighborhood is totally run down, there's no money for schools or mental health, there's crazy homeless people everywhere... oh yeah, and there's a group of inhuman cannibals hiding in a nearby park which abducts and kills people.
  • Creepily Long Arms: One manifestation of Alice's schizophrenia is bizarrely proportioned, with long, bony arms, legs and hands.
  • Cruel Mercy: The Pestilent God opts to break Alice's mind rather than explode her along with the Peaches.
  • Daylight Horror: The otherworld where the Peaches reside is cheerfully bright and sunny, but the plants grow human flesh, and, well, the Peaches live there.
  • Death by Childbirth: Heavily implied to have been Edie's fate; when we last see her, the Peaches have failed to deliver the child to the Pestilent God and a stream of blood and viscera is coming out during delivery.
  • Death by Genre Savviness: In the story told at the beginning of the pilot. The girl who hears a sound in the bushes and goes off to investigate, calling "hello," ends up unharmed, while her friend, who gets the hell out of there at the first sign of creepiness, is attacked and killed by the dwarf.
  • Decoy Protagonist: It takes a while, but Zoe emerges as the true hero of the story while her sister Alice, who had all the makings of a steadfast champion, gives in to evil.
  • Dirty Cop: Luke's dad made a deal with the Peaches while they were still alive. He unsuccessfully tries to murder his son to keep the truth hidden.
  • Eldritch Location: The park. People tend to disappear there and see strange things, such as staircases that appear out of nowhere.
    • The Peaches live in a bizarre Alternate Dimension "summer home" where it's always daytime, the plants grow human flesh, and the main house is always off in the distance, no matter how far you walk.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Alice is looking at her landlady's collected history of the town and sees a picture of the disappeared Peach family, whose patriarch Joseph looks exactly like the man she just met the previous night, despite the fact that he'd be 130 years old by this point.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Joseph Peach is resigned to his fate when the Pestilent God destroys him and his family.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Alice takes Joseph's offer and willingly joins the family.
  • Family Theme Naming: Sisters Alice and Zoe have initials from opposite ends of the alphabet.
  • Fatal Flaw: Alice's paranoia over inheriting her mother's schizophrenia ultimately results in her abandoning her family and joining the Peaches to become a cannibal in exchange for a cure. So great is her desire for a real family that she chooses to warn the Peaches of Zoe's plan to rescue Izzy and escape the realm at the top of the staircase.
  • Faux Affably Evil: After the Peaches induct Zoe into the family, they remain unfailingly polite to her. Despite this, they're quite forceful in trying to get her to eat human flesh.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Initially the season starts off with Alice being the responsible sister and Zoe being the troubled sister. However, as the series progresses, their roles begin to reverse, as Alice willingly joins the Peaches, while Zoe fights back.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Alice literally stares too long into the abyss as embodied by the Pestilent God and pays this as the price.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Both Nathan's death and Robert Peach's decapitation are only shown through Louise's reaction.
    • Brutally averted with Aldous' decapitation.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Peaches are only lackeys for the Pestilent God.
  • Healing Factor: Whatever keeps the Peaches from aging also allows them to revive after multiple gunshot wounds. Their healing powers do not seem to extend to dismemberment, however.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Chief Vanczyk, after an implied My God, What Have I Done? moment, tries to make up for almost killing his son by saving him and Louise from Aldous. Despite this, Officer Luke still shoots him after he tries to get him to leave Garrett.
  • Horned Humanoid: The Pestilent God has a set of impressive antlers.
  • Horror Hunger: Zoe, after her "operation." She gets around it by eating her own leg.
    • Alice develops one after her own operation. She's far less reluctant than her sister to indulge it.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The "meat man" at the top of the staircase.
    • And the "god" that the Peaches ultimately serve.
  • Human Sacrifice: Nathan mentions rumors about the Peaches doing this. They're true, with the family occasionally handing over children to the Pestilent God as "rent".
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Although technically averted, both Alice and Louise's reaction to the remnants of the "dinner" they ate with the Peaches in the park is strongly reminiscent of this trope.
    • Zoe has a similar reaction when she finds out that the flowers outside of the Peaches' summer home are growing bunches of human hands.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Peach family and associates.
  • Imagine Spot: A dark one in the second episode, where Zoe imagines eating Louise's cat.
  • Immune to Bullets: A common trait in the Peach family, but special mention goes to Butcher!Joseph who, unlike his relatives, doesn't even flinch when someone unloads a full magazine into him.
  • Implacable Man: Robert Peach gets shot multiple times and stabbed with a shovel before finally dying for good via chainsaw-hedgetrimmer decapitation.
  • In Name Only: Even more than the previous seasons, this one only takes the barest minimum of elements from the original story (the staircases in the woods) and extrapolates a full mythos surrounding a mysterious meat-packing magnate, his family, and their connection to Butcher's Block.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Somewhat played straight with Scissors Lady and Alice's mother, who both attack Zoe with a pair of broken scissors and a razor blade, respectively. In Alice's mother's case, she manages to stab Zoe several times. Generally averted with Zoe, whose psychosis only really manifests as non-violent outbursts, and inverted with Alice, whose fear of mental illness ultimately drives her to commit greater acts of destruction than either her sister or her mother.
  • Karma Houdini: Other than being cheated out of its "offering", absolutely nothing bad happens to the Pestilent God.
  • Kill It with Fire: Whatever Joseph Peach's factory workers found in his abandoned house, their response was to burn it down.
  • Knife Nut: Seems to be a common trait in the Peach family. Both Robert and Zoe carry a small, ornate switchblade which they do their dirty work with.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Alice sells out to the Peaches in exchange for a cure to her burgeoning insanity. After the Peaches are defeated, the Pestilent God breaks her mind.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: Izzie wears a red hooded coat and she disappears along with her mother. In a possible Shout-Out to Don't Look Now, a monster child is Mistaken from Behind for her by Zoe.
  • Little People Are Surreal: A robed dwarf kills people in the park with a meat tenderizer. And it turns out that there are several more also employed by the Peaches.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The Pestilent God metes this punishment out on those who displease him.
  • Mugging the Monster: Robert's cellmate, who tries to intimidate him prior to getting eaten, and the pushy bill collector who attempts to menace Alice before suffering the same fate.
  • Mythology Gag: Edie, among other things, calls her husband a "pirate," referencing Candle Cove.
  • No Name Given: The Pestilent God is never actually referred to as the "Pestilent God" by the Peaches, who merely refer to it as "our God". Its (presumed) name is derived from an alternate title of the episode it's introduced ("The Red Door").
  • Not Quite Dead: Robert Peach, after suffering multiple gunshot wounds (including one on his head), manages to get up from the basement floor and ambush Luke and Louise.
  • One-Winged Angel: Joseph Peach's true form inspired the paintings of "The Butcher" all over town, but it's even worse in person.
  • Police Are Useless: It seems the police don't even bother to investigate possible abductions in Butcher's Block since they're so used to people just disappearing from the area.
    • Then in the second episode, their response to Robert Peach eating an inmate is to simply bump him up to state authorities so they don't have to deal with him. Except not really, as they actually let him go.
  • Precision F-Strike: Joseph Peach's last words to the Pestilent God:
    Joseph: Sick fuck.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Peaches have someone avoided aging in the 60-plus years since they disappeared.
  • Red Shirt: When Joseph ventures into the Pestilent God's domain, one of his dwarf servants joins him at the last minute. Guess which one doesn't survive.
  • Religion of Evil: The Peaches are hinted to be part of one, given how their patriarch is described as a "fundamentalist religious nut" and Nathan's off-handed remark about human sacrifices. Turns out they worship the "Pestilent God," who demands a sacrifice of a child ever now and then as the Peaches' "rent."
  • Sanity Slippage: Alice, as the series goes along.
  • Shout-Out: The first episode uses the theme music from Cannibal Holocaust.
    • The show's creators explicitly cite Dario Argento films as one of the season's influences; reflecting this, multiple shots throughout the season reference Argento's ''Suspiria''
    • Joseph Peach's "Butcher" form is very reminiscent of the bar scene in Twin Peaks, another explicitly cited influence.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the third episode, Luke deals with Robert's taunting of him and his dismissal of the people he's killed by shooting him, repeatedly.
    • Luke does it again to his own father, with a gun no less. After being belittled by his pop for most of his life and nearly being killed by him via Slashed Throat, Luke shoots his father after he tries to get him to leave Garrett rather than face the Peaches.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Aldous has a fairly one-sided one with Robert. It doesn't help that he appears to be The Unfavorite.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Scissor Lady in the finale. On the Peaches' side, they get Alice, also in the finale.
  • Slashed Throat: Poor Nathan...
    • Happens again to Officer Luke Vanczyk, at the hands of his father, no less.
  • Spooky Painting: Butcher's Block is lousy with creepy graffiti murals depicting "the Butcher."
    • The parlor where the Peaches play chess contains a copy of Fuseli's ''The Nightmare''
  • Start of Darkness: For Joseph Peach and his family, it was his daughters being murdered, which led him to make a pact with the Pestilent God, receiving protection and immortality in exchange for child sacrifices.
  • Static Stun Gun: Robert uses one at one point against the Scissor-lady.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: One form that Alice's schizophrenia takes is a woman with long hair clad entirely in black, who walks on all fours.
  • Surreal Horror: Oh yes. Only escalates as Alice's mental state deteriorates.
    • Special mention to Joseph Peach's "Butcher" form, perhaps the oddest and most terrifying monster in the series thus far.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Played with. Louise's taxidermy hobby is creepy, and she tends to talk to the animals she's preserving while sewing them up and posing them, but she's ultimately not a bad person, just an eccentric one.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Luke. He grew from an overly sensitive boy to an indifferent, lackadaisical police officer. By the end of the series, however, he is a stone cold bad ass, responsible for taking down Robert Peach, Smart Mouth, and his own corrupt, villainous father.
  • Villains Out Shopping: In between preying on the poor and innocent, the Peaches (and the Meat-Servant) are shown playing chess and generally spending quality time together.
  • Wendigo: The Pestilent God seems to be a cosmic horror twist on this, complete with a penchant for turning people into ravenous cannibals, a skeletal face and deer antlers
  • Wretched Hive: Butcher's Block, the area around the Peach meat-packing plant, is completely without infrastructure and Alice is warned not to go there alone for good reason.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Pestilent God rewards the Peaches for their failure with nothing less than explosive decompression.

     The Dream Door 

The Dream Door contains examples of the following:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Ian when he uses his powers for murder. It would be a Does This Remind You of Anything?, but that would be more generous than truthful.
  • Alien Blood: Pretzel Jack has a white ooze in place of blood. As do all of Ian's creations.
  • Alien Geometries: The door in the basement leads to a massive sub-level that should jut into the neighbor's cellar, but doesn't. The dream doors, all with chambers behind them, show up in more and more ridiculous locations until they start appearing on the front door of Tom's house and on a window
  • Big Eater: Ian's use of the power leaves him constantly, ravenously hungry, which he sates with huge fast food meals. The scene where he devours a pile of cheeseburgers borders on Horror Hunger.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Vanessa, the new-age spa therapist, who uses a hidden camera to spy on her client Tom and fantasize about him. She gets a quick dispatch at the hands of the monster.
    • Applies even more strongly to Ian, who at first seems slightly eccentric, but earnest nevertheless in his desire to help. Then it's revealed that he is secretly Jillian's half-brother and is obsessed with her to the point of using mass murder to get her into his possession.
  • Body Horror: When the power works, it really, really works. But if the summoner gets even the slightest thing wrong, they'll get a horrific, half-formed version of the creature that they wanted which dies in agony shortly after emerging from its door. This is most tragically seen with the limbless, disfigured infant that Jillian and Tom accidentally create while trying to conceive a baby.
  • Call-Back: The conjured beings seem to deliberately share some things in common with the creations of the No End House from Season 2. Specifically, the same warping, blue-filtered visual effect is shown while their summoner is creating them that occurs when the house's creations feed on memories. The stiff, immobile husks that they harden into after death and the way they are filled with globules in a gelatinous substance also resembles the physically-manifested memories that the House cannibals feed upon.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Ian's use of the power leaves him in agony and physically incapacitated, and requires him to ingest massive amounts of calories just so he can barely stay standing. Curiously, Jill does not seem to have this weakness, but then again is not seen using her abilities as indiscriminately as Ian.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Tom and Ian tend to talk to each other very calmly despite the circumstances they're in.
  • Creepy Cute: Pretzel Jack is adorable when he's not murdering people. The scene where he hugs Jill through an elaborate-and-painful-looking contortion move is especially endearing.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When Pretzel Jack takes on Tall Boy, the latter gets in one missed swing before getting eviscerated.
  • Cursed With Awesome: Jillian's power starts off as a curse, since she can't control it and it manifests as a murderous clown that kills people she's angry at. Later on, she's able to manifest a heroic Pretzel Jack to defend her and fight off Tall Boy.
  • Dead Star Walking: Unlike in previous season's, this season's advertised special guest star - Steven Weber - has his character offed before the end of the third episode.
    • Ditto with horror-star Barbara Crampton, who is set up as a major character but gets fatally attacked in the second episode, ultimately dying before the title card of the third.
  • Determinator: Both Pretzel Jack and Tall Boy absolutely do not stop pursuing or attacking a target until it is dead.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: With Ian's help, Jill is able to destroy Pretzel Jack by the fourth episode, but then it is revealed that Ian is the true villain.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The season is filled with it.
    • Special mention goes to the scene where Ian helps Jill destroy Pretzel Jack. He holds her hand tightly and tells Jillian to "crush" Pretzel Jack, which leaves her panting for breath and results in Pretzel Jack exploding into a cloud of white liquid.
    • Which takes on a sinister form when Ian's powers are manifested alongside a very clear sadistic murderous streak and a possessive desire for Jill. A lot of screaming is involved along with a very disturbing affinity for decidedly phallic electric saws.
  • Enfant Terrible: Ian is heavily implied to have used his powers against bullies and animals when he was a kid.
  • Evil Doppelgänger: Ian makes one of Tom to try and trick Jill into having sex with him.
  • Evil Mentor: Ian to Jill. He teaches her how to control her powers, but it's only really a way of prying Jill away from Tom.
  • Eye Scream: Bill Hope dies by having his eyes graphically gouged out of his skull.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The monster of this season is known as "Pretzel Jack". Justified, given that he was named by Jillian when she was a child.
  • Genre Shift: Starts out as a straight horror/slasher. It almost becomes a superhero show by the end, with a significant subplot about Jill learning to control her powers and a final showdown between the good guys and a similarly powered bad guy.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Jill spends most of the series going through hell trying to stop Pretzel Jack's rampage, only to be forced to conjure him again in order to stop Ian and his small army of summoned creatures.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: A twisted example. Ian tries to win over Jill by showing her the corpse of her father, who abandoned her as a child.
    • Played much straighter right afterwards, when Ian takes the blame for every murder that's happened so far, when all clues pointed to Jill.
  • Guardian Entity: Pretzel Jack is one for Jill, as she created him to protect her, and he only attacks people who make her upset. Ian also has one in the form of Tall Boy.
  • Harmful to Minors: Ian's brutal murders of the two police officers happens in front of a school bus full of children.
  • Healing Factor: It takes a lot of damage to slow Pretzel Jack down, but he can recover from it by resting for a few hours.
  • Here We Go Again!: The final scene of the season has Tom and Jill's infant daughter creating her own door.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ian is accidentally slain by a berserk and partially blinded Tall Boy, one of his creations.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Pretzel Jack. Tall Boy, the Crayon Crew, and the baby that Tom and Jill "conceive" also count.
  • Hypocrite: Ian basically and jealously accuses Jillian of liking Tom because of an Electra complex. This after he's openly admitted to pursuing her (despite being her brother) and dedicated a lot of energy into trying to Murder the Hypotenuse.
  • Imaginary Friend: The creature beyond the door was Jill's childhood "protector." And is less imaginary than she thought.
    Jill: Somehow he's real. And he's trying to kill you.
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: What the dream doors essentially are. Anyone who can use them are able to bring creations from their imaginations into the real world. Jill and Ian can use them, and the ending implies that the ability has also been passed down to Jill’s child.
  • I Never Told You My Name: It's a Wham Line when Jill talks to her neighbor and only refers to a "contortionist clown" before he says, "Pretzel Jack killed your friend."
  • Missing Dad: Jill has one of these. There's a reason: he has a second family, including a son named Ian.
  • Monster Clown: Jill based Pretzel Jack off of a circus contortionist, and he certainly looks distinctly clown-ish.
  • Mood Whiplash: First, Jason and Jill get into a heated argument. Then, Pretzel Jack invades Jason's home and brutally murders him with a knife. Then, when he notices that Jill is upset, he tries to cheer her up with a short circus act, complete with jazz hands.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Ian's plan for Tom.
  • Mythology Gag: Jill's psychiatrist suggests that the space behind the door could just be a wine cellar. In the original story, the couple originally used the basement as a wine cellar, before discovering the hidden door while trying to renovate it.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Pretzel Jack keeps stabbing Jason well after it's clear he's already dead.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: This season's final villain never gets into combat and probably wouldn't last long if they tried. Instead they rely on proxies to do their dirty work.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Ian dies, his creations and their doors fade out of existence almost immediately.
  • No-Sell: Pretzel Jack is able to shrug off multiple point-blank gunshot wounds.
    • ditto with Tall Boy.
  • Police Are Useless: Lampshaded by Ian who tauntingly points out that police would not be able to hold someone who can summon monsters at will. He's right.
  • Sadist: The Big Bad prolongs his violent murders far past what it would take to just kill his victims. There's a lot of screaming.
  • The Scapegoat: Ian voluntarily takes the blame for Jason's, Vanessa's, and Dr. Carnacki's murders.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Ian kills his own father and the way he angrily describes his mother as "too trusting" implies he might have killed her too.
  • Sibling Incest: A creepy, partial example with Ian and Jill.
  • The Shrink: Jill's psychiatrist is a Type 2 — he genuinely wants to help her, but fails to realize that the problems she's dealing with aren't just in her head.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Averted with Tom who appears to be harassing a woman he once had an affair with. As it turns out he just wants a chance to be a parent to the son he believes he fathered with her.
    • Played straight with Ian.
  • Too Dumb to Live: After seeing Pretzel Jack — whom he's been told has been running around killing people — climb in through his office window, Jill's psychiatrist's response is to get indignant and demand Pretzel Jack leave. Pretzel Jack responds by crushing his head.
    • Averted with the rest of the cast. Pretzel Jack certainly doesn’t have it easy in the “murderous entity” department.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Jill's powers, before she is trained. Pretzel Jack manifests from emotions she isn't controlling (specifically, anger), and can track down the person she's upset with even if she has no idea where they actually are. Ian, by contrast, much greater control over his powers, but has to actually hunt down anyone he's pursuing, possessing Tall Boy as his proxy.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Tom and Jillian Hodgson were friends in childhood and start the season happily married.
  • Villainous Incest: Ian is implied to have these feelings for Jillian well before he just comes right out and says it. And then he tries to make a Tom proxy to have sex with her. And then they discover that he's made at least one Jill proxy and, well, it's not in good condition...
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: All Pretzel Jack wants to do is protect Jill and make her happy. Unfortunately, that sometimes means killing people she's temporarily angry at.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jill is horrified to discover Ian based the dog he made for her on one of her favorite childhood toys, and this isn't helped by finding several other copies of the dog devouring her father's corpse. But what actually becomes of her dog isn't revealed. Presumably, it faded from existence with Ian's other creations upon his death, but this is never confirmed.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Said by Tom when Ian, who had just been arrested for multiple murders shows up again at his front door.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: