Follow TV Tropes


Series / Dead of Summer

Go To

"This place is not just a place. It is alive. Living, breathing. It pulls you in, but holds much too tight. Red runs through it, the red of the night. Hear a whisper, hear a scream. At its center, a pulse. A beat. And you'll never leave."

Dead of Summer is a horror TV series airing on Freeform in the summer of 2016, created by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, and Ian Goldberg of Once Upon a Time and Lost fame.

Set at Camp Stillwater, a summer camp in Wisconsin in 1989, the show follows a group of camp counselors who come to realize that the camp they work at is haunted, by both literal spirits and by a dark history stretching back decades. As they struggle to survive, the counselors' own secrets start spilling out.

No relation to the webcomic of the same name.


  • The '80s: The summer of 1989, to be specific. Word of God says that they set the show in the '80s because it was the End of an Era, the last decade before the interconnected world of today started to come into being, and thus it has something of a nostalgic quality to it — which serves a show in which the main characters are teenagers coming of age.
  • Anachronism Stew: That said, a number of viewers have criticized the show's portrayal of the '80s for coming off as essentially 2016 with a coating of older technology and music, in terms of the fashions (there's a distinct lack of '80s Hair, for one), the dialogue, and the values on display. The idea that nobody seems to have a problem with the out-and-proud Blair working as a camp counselor, among either his fellow counselors, the children, or the parents, can come across as Politically Correct History to people who remember what attitudes towards gay people were actually like in the '80s.
  • Bear Trap: The woods around the camp are filled with them, as the counselors find out when they lead the kids on a hike. One of them kills Cricket when she gets knocked over by one of the cultists and her head lands in one, causing instant death.
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: From the beginning of the series, Garrett is torn between Alpha Bitch Jessie and Girl Next Door Amy. As the series goes on, however, it comes to light that Jessie is only putting on a Jerkass Façade and is deep down a good person and a great friend, as well as Garrett’s old flame from their days as summer camp attendees and the final two episodes also reveal that Amy is actually a psychopath, as well as the series’ Big Bad who has been killing everyone.
  • Big Bad: Amy Hughes.
  • Camera Fiend: Joel, who is filming his experience as a counselor. It's actually because he's being haunted by Holyoke; the camera lets him tell the difference between his visions and what he's actually seeing. At camp, however, that security stops working, causing Joel to put the camera down by episode 5.
  • Camp Gay: Blair.
  • Camp with a Dark Secret: Camp Stillwater's history is stained with blood.
  • Cult: The camp was once the site of a spiritualist compound that, in 1871, experienced what was apparently a mass suicide. The leader, Holyoke, was the only survivor, at least until an armed mob killed him. "The Devil Inside" reveals that the "mass suicide" was actually a murder. Holyoke led a benevolent religious group that was attempting to exorcise Malphas from the lake, but the Satanist cult killed them before they could finish and pinned it on Holyoke.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Each episode features flashbacks focusing on one of the main characters.
  • Demonic Possession: Technically spiritual possession, but Amy gets possessed by Cricket and Holyoke in "The Dharma Bums".
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Goes with the territory, really.
  • Driven to Suicide: Joel's brother Michael killed himself because Holyoke was haunting him. Afterwards, Holyoke moves on to Joel himself, causing him to almost do the same before his fellow counselors stop him. Notably, the episode was prefaced with a special content warning, and ended with a notice displaying the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's phone number.
  • Exact Words: A lot of things about Amy Hughes turn out to be a case of this.
    • Malphas is said to require a “pure” soul to possess, with the cultists having tried to accomplish this multiple times by offering up young women who seem to be innocent, to no success. The reason the possession works this time with Amy is because unlike the previous women, her soul is actually pure evil, like Malphas had wanted all along.
    • Amy repeatedly states from the beginning that she came to Camp to “make friends,” and near the end of the season remarks that for the first time in her life she’s made a real connection. It turns out the “friend” Amy had made was the demon Malphas, the only one who had understood Amy in her sociopathy.
  • Flashback: Much in the style of Lost and the creator's own Once Upon a Time, the show makes heavy use of flashbacks to explore the backstory.
  • Foreshadowing: In "How To Stay Alive In The Woods", Holyoke tells Joel that someone else will die unless he kills Amy. As Amy was the one committing the murders, he turned out to be absolutely right.
  • Genre Roulette: A cross between a summer camp movie, a teen Coming of Age Story, and a supernatural horror mystery.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We never even see Blotter's death or what kills him, only his horrified reaction to the monster, while the camera cuts away from Cricket's death just before it happens, only showing us the bloody aftermath.
  • Hallucinations: Something about the woods causes people to see things that aren't there.
  • Harmless Electrocution: At the end of episode 3, Amy gets struck by lightning while standing in the middle of a lake, only to be out of the hospital in a day.
  • Hearing Voices: Holyoke does this to Joel. They're very much of the evil variety, telling him to kill Amy or else somebody else at the camp will die. He had previously been doing the same to Joel's older brother Michael.
  • Hollywood Satanism: The devil-worshiping biker cultists. They're trying to summon a demon named Malphas.
  • Hypocrite: Blair, initially suspecting that Drew is simply gay, tries to strike up a relationship with him, telling him about the importance of being yourself. When he finds out that Drew is also transgender, however, he wants nothing to do with him and is squicked out at the fact that he had kissed a boy who was assigned female at birth. Ironically, it's Jessie, who until then seemed like a run-of-the-mill Alpha Bitch, who winds up being more accepting of Drew. To his credit, Blair eventually realizes that he was being an asshole and starts to accept Drew, apparently being in a relationship with him by the series' end.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Alex (real name Alexi Fayvinov) is an immigrant from the USSR who's obsessed with The American Dream, having seen his father get chewed up by it and vowing not to let the same thing happen to him.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: How Sykes realizes that Boyd Heelan is "the teacher" behind the Satanist cult. He told him that Damon had died, but not that he had killed himself.
  • Jerk Jock: Alex.
  • Likes Older Women: Joel starts dating the middle-aged head counselor Deb. It turns out, however, that their romantic interactions were all hallucinations on Joel's part, the result of the camp playing with his mind.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Jessie starts out looking like a more conventional Alpha Bitch, but in the episode "Modern Love", of the two people who learn that Drew is transgender, she's the one who accepts him for who he is.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never see what kills Blotter at the end of episode 3. In hindsight, this was clearly meant to hide the fact that it was Amy.
  • Preserve Your Gays: Besides surprise heroine Jessie, homosexual Blair and transgender Drew are the only main-characters still alive by the series' conclusion.
  • Really Gets Around: Cricket wants people to think she's like this. She sneaks into boys' bathrooms and puts up graffiti claiming that she's a slut in order to get boys to notice her. In truth, she's still a virgin.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Summer Campy: A given, considering the genre.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Invoked by Amy in episode 3. When Jessie lies about her grandmother dying (to get a night off/make Amy take a shift for her), Amy immediately realizes what's going on, but agrees to take the extra shift anyway to keep the peace. Later, she ups the ante by offering Jessie cookies, ostensibly to comfort her, but really as an attempt to make friends with her.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Played for Drama with Blair and Drew's abortive romance.
  • Wham Episode: "Home Sweet Home" turns literally everything we knew about the series so far on its head: Amy, the resident Nice Girl, is really an Ax-Crazy psychopath. She wanted Malphas to possess her and committed all of the murders to ensure that he would be summoned. She even let her only friend die just to ensure that she would be hired at Camp Stillwater.