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Series / Monsters

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A horror anthology show in a similar vein to Tales from the Darkside, it shared the same producer (Richard P. Rubenstein), and in some ways succeeded the show (which had ended the same year in which Monsters began). It differed in some respects nonetheless. While Tales sometimes dabbled in stories of science fiction and fantasy, this series was more strictly horror. As the name implies, each episode of Monsters (with very few exceptions) featured a different monster, from the animatronic puppet of a fictional children's television program to mutated, weapon-wielding lab rats.

Similar to Tales, however, the stories in Monsters were rarely very straightforward action plots and often contained some ironic twist in which a character's conceit or Greed would do him in, often with gruesome results. Adding to this was a sense of comedy often lost on horror productions, which might in some instances lighten the audience's mood (often deceptively) but in many cases added to the overall eeriness of the production.

The Title Sequence of the show is a cheesy-yet-perversely surreal take on a Sitcom intro, which begins with a seemingly innocuous family discussing what to watch on television. They are revealed to be hideous humanoid creatures with Extra Eyes and elongated, deformed faces who snack on candied insects, yet they are all live and dress in a typical Eighties suburban setting.

The series aired from 1988 to 1991. Its rights are currently held by CBS Studios through its Spelling Television unit. Spelling had acquired Laurel Entertainment, the show's production company, during its original run, which was distributed by Tribune Entertainment, but its syndication rights reverted to Worldvision Enterprises (which Spelling acquired around the same time as Laurel) upon the show's conclusion.

The show was also known to have had celebrity guests before they became famous, including Steve Buscemi, Lili Taylor, Matt LeBlanc, David Spade, Gina Gershon and Richard Belzer.

Not to be confused with the manga and anime series Monster, the 2003 film Monster, or the 2010 film Monsters.


  • Adaptation Expansion: "The Moving Finger" ends by actually showing the creature attack the cop. The original short story ends with the cop about to stumble across the creature by lifting the toilet lid.
  • An Aesop: A few stories contain these.
  • Aside Glance:
    • A completely out of the blue one that doubles as blatant Breaking the Fourth Wall; right before the first act break in "Mannikins of Horror", after yelling at his (alive) clay figures to shut up and stop interrupting his work, Dr. Collin (for no real reason) turns and stares dead-eyed into the camera. Cue commercial.
      Dr. Collin: (to his figures) Quiet! There will be no talking! Is that understood? (turns toward the viewer)
    • The last shot of "My Zombie Lover" is of Brad turning to the camera, wide-eyed and seconds away from screaming, as he realizes he's about to become zombie chow.
    • At the end of "The Mandrake Root", after saving her husband Jack by killing the titular creature, Angela expresses a desire to leave her grandmother's house the next morning, furniture and all, and let a realtor deal with it. Jack states his belief that whoever buys the house, their wife will just get rid of everything... prompting Angela's last line:
      Angela: Well... (shrugs) she might find... (slyly turns to glance at the camera) something. (cut to the mandrake root wiggling around)
  • Asshole Victim: Quite a few. A nice example would have to be Timothy Danforth from the episode "Cellmates." An arrogant, selfish, Spoiled Brat Rich Bastard who insists that his father will pull strings to get him out of a Mexican jail after he kills a child with his expensive sports car in a hit-and-run affair. Oh... not on this show...
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While it's confusing to tell, "Holly's House" ends with the implication that "Holly" was reborn as Katherine's child.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "The Young and the Headless", after managing to trick Victoria's ex, Hunk, into blowing his brains out, Edward acts like Hunk had attempted suicide when she enters the room. When he claims that he tried to stop him, Victoria responds with a simple "But, why?".
    Edward: He was so despondent...
    Victoria: No, I mean, why did you try to stop him? This really is for the best, don't you think?
    Edward: (pause; impressed) Victoria, you never cease to amaze me...
  • Black Dude Dies First: Inverted with "The Hole"; Sergeant Kenner is the last one to get murdered by the zombies.
  • Body Horror:
    • Right at the end of "Love Hurts", Jewel performs a voodoo spell in order to coax Lance's soul out of his body, and sleep with it in order to make him hers, instilling an order to return to her house at midnight in the flesh so that they can be together. Problem: this temporarily killed Vance... prompting his wife to order a body removal from the hospital. When Vance shows up later that night, Jewel is horrified to learn Vance had left during his own autopsy; not only is there a giant gaping hole in his torso, but there is still a clamp hanging from his eye socket due to his eyes being removed.
    • "The Farmer's Daughter" sees this with the titular daughter, Lucy: because of a prior man promising to marry her only to then back out, she became more or less cursed to remain a rotted, still alive corpse until she met a man who well and truly loved her. This is only further emphasized after Howard shoves her down the threshing machine; she reappears behind him completely mangled and mutilated, and you can even see that her arm is snapped in two.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Right from the get-go in "The Waiting Game", two army officials, Stanley and Eric, are trapped in a military bunker following the entire planet getting nuked. By the closing minutes, the planet is implied to be overrun with vampires, the ensuing nuclear winter has caused eternal night, Stanley is implied to be the last human to not be turned into a vampire, and all he can do is fall to the floor and wait as Eric, having been turned, brute-forces his way back into the bunker by trying to guess Stanley's access code by inputing every possible five digit code, one at a time, starting at 11111.note 
    Eric: Hey, I have the answer! An eleven-letter word for "tenacity"? The word is "persistence".
  • Bottle Episode: For budgetary reasons, almost every episode took place in only one or two rooms.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: Through-out "The Waiting Game", one of the characters, Stanley, is stuck on a Crossword Puzzle, unable to figure out an eleven-letter word for "tenacity". At the end of the episode, after his partner, Eric, has been turned into a vampire, and is beginning the slow process of re-entering their bunker, he gives him the word he needed: "Persistence".
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Right at the top of "Love Hurts", while Vance is flirting with Jewel at the DMV while helping her with the paperwork for her license, Vance calls attention to the fact that he has an organ donor's card.
    • After winding up at the farm after crashing his car in "The Farmer's Daughter", Howard asks if he can get a ride into town. Pa shoots that down, seeing as he has no form of transportation; all they got is a threshing machine.
  • Conjoined Twins: The feuding comedians at the heart of "Their Divided Self" are conjoined, albeit not identical.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The plot of "Outpost" concerns an inspector, Clara Raymond, arriving to a mining outpost on a distant planet that is run by bioengineered creatures who were once human beings dying of terminal disease. She feels nothing but contempt for one particular creature, Sebastian, being behind on his work, due to her own workaholic nature. You see, when her husband, Andros, had come down with a terminal disease, rather than be with him when he died, she continued her work instead. So, no points for guessing who Sebastian is.
  • Creepy Family: "One Wolf's Family" is made up entirely of werewolves.
    • Also the family in the opening in every episode.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The Plot Twist of "Glim Glim": after Carl and the teacher kill Glim Glim, they run into the next room... where Amy has plugged in a Christmas tree that Glim Glim made. It's Christmas Eve. And the paper Glim Glim was trying to show them had "Merry Christmas" on it.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: "My Zombie Lover." Kid being a bratty little wiseass? Go ahead and feed him to a zombie.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Glim-Glim"'s ending can best be summed up like this: Daddy killed your friend and doomed mankind in the process, Merry Christmas!
    • "Holly's House": Katherine winds up in a psych ward, and her child is implied to be Holly reborn.
    • By the end of "Stressed Environment", everyone in the lab is dead, and because of the implication that Dr. Porter failed to open the canister of pesticide in her dying moments, the remaining hyper-intelligent rats are going to escape into the world once someone arrives to open the door.
    • "Outpost" ends with Sebastian effectively killing himself in order to reunite with the voices he has been hearing, while Clara learns too late that Sebastian was actually Andros, her husband who she was led to believe died from cancer.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: More or less literally done with "Where's the Rest of Me?". Over the course of the episode, Adam regains his lost body parts, ending by taking his heart back from Willard.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Waiting Game" starts off with this when a nuclear bomb goes off. And somehow creates vampires.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: "The Hole", an episode set during The Vietnam War, had zombie-infested Vietcong tunnels with a heavily-implied side of Gaia's Vengeance.
  • Fallen Angel: "Hostile Takeover" features a Fallen Angel who calls himself "Obeah" and looks more like a conventional demon than an angel after falling into Hell. And even before he reveals himself, he takes on the form of a janitor named Ed.
    "Ed": Time's all I got now, really. Since my accident.
    Laurence: What happened?
    "Ed": You might say I took a fall.
    Laurence: A fall?
  • Farmer's Daughter / Traveling Salesman: The titular episode "The Farmer's Daughter" starts out as a take on the classic joke: Howard Filby, a traveling Bible salesman crashes his car during a stormy night, and has to hole up in a nearby farm for the night, with the only room available being the farmers' daughter's room. And then it comes to light that this isn't the first time such a setup occurred, and there's a reason it keeps happening...
  • Fantastic Racism: "One Wolf's Family", a comedy written by Paul Dini, dealt with a family of werewolves, where the father is enraged to learn that his daughter is going to marry a werehyena. By contrast, their nosy neighbor makes veiled insults to the fact the family is rather ethnic.
  • Fate Worse than Death: "Half as Old as Time" involved an old man visiting his archaeologist daughter who shows him the a ritual ground of a old snake god. An Indian shaman tempts the man into killing his daughter as a sacrifice to the god to regain his youth. But he fails to mention until the last moment that the man now "lives like the god lives", which said god is a statue. The man promptly starts slowing down as a result until he can hardly move at all.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: During "The Farmer's Daughter", right before Howard kisses Lucy, Lucy keeps hammering it in that he can't touch her. That's because of the makeup she had on to disguise the rot...
  • Giant Spider: The antagonist of "A Bond of Silk".
  • Go Mad from the Isolation:
    • "Habitat": A woman named Jamie Neal volunteers to be locked in a room for nine months in exchange for a large sum of money. At first, she boasts that she can easily handle it and she'll use the money to be independent for the rest of her life. After about two months, she starts losing it and begging to be let out, saying she now misses being with people.
    • "The Waiting Game": After a nuclear war, soldiers wait in bunkers for the radiation to go down, but eventually, they start going crazy and committing suicide by going outside.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In "Stressed Environment", scientists work on increasing the intelligence of rats. They find out it worked when the rats become smart enough to break out of confinement and start killing them by using tools and taking advantage of the environment.
  • Here We Go Again!:
    • In the closing minutes of "The Farmer's Daughter", Ma and Pa are talking about how they were so sure Howard would've been "the right one" for their daughter, Lucy, only for him to throw himself down the thresher once faced with the reality of Lucy's condition. Pa then states that there's no use dwelling on the past, and that "maybe next time" will work out. Cue the sounds of a car crashing, and a man approaching, then knocking on, the front door.
      • And it's worth mentioning that this wasn't even the first time: Howard came to learn that several door-to-door salesmen had come to the farm prior to him, so many that Lucy lost count.
    • It is all but outright stated at the end of "The Mandrake Root" that, despite Angela killing it by chopping the main root, the creature had come back to life, and is going to go after the next wife who enters the house.
  • How We Got Here: Shortform: right at the end of the second act of "The Farmer's Daughter", after Howard roughly falls against the bed's headboard after discovering Lucy's skin rot, there is a brief cut to the living room, where Ma and Pa abruptly look up at the ceiling from their rocking chairs. At the start of the third, we are shown what they were doing seconds prior: very clearly repeating a debate they had in the past over the fact that a salesman is sharing the same bed as their daughter.
  • Hypocrite: This is what the aliens conclude about humanity at the end of "Habitat" after Jamie's death:
    Alien #2: Yes, but when we scanned her mind, we learned that her species kept small rodents in similar confinement, in spaces they called "habitats", designed to provide a challenging and varied environment. Apparently, her kind are hypocrites. They enjoy having, but don't like, in fact they loathe being pets.
  • Imperfect Ritual: Happens three times in "The Demons" as three separate characters have to substitute an ingredient with a demonic summoning ritual. A wizard summons an insurance salesman, the salesman summons another insurance salesman, and the second salesman summons the original wizard.
  • Interspecies Romance: In "Far Below", there is a section of subway tunnel that is crawling with ghouls, of which the man in charge of the section, Dr. Rathmore, tries to keep the population in check. In fact, he has a female creature kept in the backroom, which he reveals to the accountant sent to audit him, Kritz, is pregnant. And in case you didn't figure it out, the episode ends with Rathmore making the following statement as he springs the creature loose on Kritz, to keep him from leaving.
    Rathmore: Yes, I believe you, but there's another reason I can't let you go... You see... My wife is now feeding for two!
  • Ironic Echo: In "Hostile Takeover" Obeah uses the Villain Protagonist's own words when describing what he's going to do to a competitor's assets (taking them apart piece by piece and selling them off) to describe what he's going to do to the protagonist.
  • Jeopardy! Intelligence Test: The hero in the adaptation of Stephen King's "The Moving Finger" does this with a generic quiz show.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A lot of the stories usually involve greedy people who usually get whats coming to them.
  • Late to the Realization: It takes Brad so long at the end of "My Zombie Lover" to realize he's about to be fed to the zombies that the episode ends right as he's about to scream in horror to the camera.
  • Nightmare Retardant: In-Universe, the climax of "Taps" sees Suzy being attacked by Gary's leg. At first she's terrified... but then realizes that it's a leg. And then said leg manages to knock her out, attach itself to her, and force her to dance forever.
  • Not so Dire: Inverted: Right at the outset of "Malcolm", Malcolm's wife Lorna wants to have a discussion about how strained their relationship has become lately, right after she tries to get him to play his clarinet like he used to, shortly after he gets home from work. And what does he immediately state is the reason why he can't have such a discussion?
    Malcolm: (sighs) I'd like to talk to you tonight, but... I have to create a box, to hold 48 cupcakes without crushing one.note 
  • Occult Detective: Manley Wade Wellman's John Thunstone appeared in "Rouse Him Not", the first and, to date, only adaptation of the character.
  • One-Word Title: Well, obviously. There's also the episodes "Taps", "Rerun", "Jar", "Reaper", "Habitat", "Refugee", "Cellmates", "Outpost", "Malcolm", and "Leavings".
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The climax of "Bug House" sees May give birth to a giant bug and die soon after, and Peter turn out to be part bug... and then Ellen wakes up. Still pregnant. And something writhing inside her.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Tales from the Darkside, which has the same producer, though as mentioned before, there were some differences from the previous series.
  • Spot the Thread: On top of Lucy mentioning that "the others" had liked her perfume during the second act, right at the top of the third act "The Farmer's Daughter", there's a pretty big clue as to the fact that Howard is not the first salesman to arrive at the farm: while Ma and Pa are talking about Howard (Ma wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt, Pa hating him for being a salesman), they do not look at each other while having their discussion. Almost as if they are parroting lines they have said before.
  • Sympathetic Magic: In "Hostile Takeover", the rather slimy Corrupt Corporate Executive Villain Protagonist uses voodoo magic to get a leg up on his business rivals.
  • Tally Marks on the Prison Wall: In "Habitat", Jamie Neal agrees to be locked up for nine months and makes tally marks with lipstick. On day 64, she becomes depressed when she realizes that since she has no way of accurately telling time (the room has no clocks and no windows so she can't see the sun), and she just made a new mark whenever she wakes up, she can't actually be sure her tally is accurate.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • In "A Bond of Silk", honeymooning husband Nash is convinced that he is stuck inside some kind of giant silk hammock, when it is clear he is stuck in a giant spider web and that the honeymoon suite he and his wife are in was too good to be true. His wife Portia, by contrast, was smart enough to have reservations, and smart enough not to jump on the web. It's hard to fault her for not being able to do something too soon when she tries to convince Nash that there was something wrong and he's too stupid to listen. In fact, he pitifully and desperately tries to convince himself that the whole thing is a prank being pulled by his friends before the spider that made the web showed up.
    • Take your pick as to who's to blame for Adam's rampage in "Where's The Rest of Me?": Willard (for leaving that beaker of his formula by Adam's vat) or Joe (for knocking said beaker into said vat while getting frisky with Regina).