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Series / Night Gallery

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"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Night Gallery."

An (initially) hour-long Horror and Speculative Fiction anthology series, hosted by Rod Serling, which ran on NBC for three seasons (1970–73). Each episode includes multiple segments tied together by the Framing Device of a gallery of paintings inspired by the featured stories. The stories include both originals (many written by Serling) and adaptations of works from the likes of Richard Matheson, Fritz Leiber, Basil Copper, and H. P. Lovecraft. (The segments "Cool Air" and "Pickman's Model" are the first, and still the most famous, Lovecraft adaptations made for television.)

Unusually for the formatnote , the individual segments are not of a set length. They range from one-minute vignettes to long stories that take up most of the episode's run time (and everything in between); the number of segments per episode therefore varies accordingly.


Although the show was subject to Executive Meddling from the beginning (much to Rod Serling's displeasure; unlike with The Twilight Zone, he didn't have creative control) the third season saw the most of this (and possibly a bit of Screwed by the Network), with the episode length reduced to a half hour and the timeslot moved from Wednesday to Sunday. It was cancelled midway through the season.

In syndication, the run was stretched by adding repackaged stories from the short-lived Paranormal Investigation show The Sixth Sense and by splitting the first two seasons' episodes into half hours. The latter change led to heavy re-editing, with longer stories cut down and shorter ones padded to fit the new length.


This series provides examples of:

Episodes of this series provide examples of:

  • Academy of Evil: "Class of 99" and "The Academy," where it's implied the students never graduate, in the case of The Academy, because it's actually a prison for juvenile criminals, where they are simply left to rot rather than reformed. In the case of the Class Of 99, the students are robots that are being trained to replace humans.
  • Act of True Love: In "Death on a Barge", Hyacinth manages to restrain herself from draining Ron and tell him to stay away because she loves him.
  • Adam Westing: Phyllis Diller, known for her piercing voice and laugh, plays the titular Pamela in "Pamela's Voice." That is, she's a dead woman who is haunting the husband (John Astin) that killed her because, among all the things he hated about her, her voice was the number one thing he couldn't stand. It turns out he's dead too, and his punishment in Hell is her heaven, where she can just keep talking, and talking, and talking, and he can't do a thing about it.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Jackie Slater in "Make Me Laugh" is repeatedly described as fat and ugly in the original short story. He's played in the show by the rather handsome Godfrey Cambridge (also a Race Lift). Possibly also a Casting Gag as Cambridge had recently lost a lot of weight.
    • The original short story of "Escape Route" describes Josef Strobe as looking like a pig. Richard Kiley is pretty good looking.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In "Marmalade Wine", a habitual liar (Robert Morse) makes the mistake telling his host, a doctor (Rudy Vallee) who is not quite there, that he can see the future. The doctor believes him, and invokes this trope (amputating his feet) so that the liar can keep giving him information based on his 'visions'.*
  • And I Must Scream:
    • "Escape Route": A Nazi officer learns the trick of escaping into a painting...but instead of escaping into a peaceful one, he escapes into one of a concentration camp victim.
    • Malloy, the Jerkass protagonist in "A Question of Fear" is told that he was injected with a serum that will slowly turn him into a worm. He shoots himself to avoid it... for nothing.
    • "The Dead Man". He has psychic abilities that allow him to exhibit and suffer from symptoms of diseases before returning to full heath. Then his doctor friend tricks him into thinking he's dead for months...
    • "Last Rites for a Dead Druid". The man trapped inside the statue switches places with our protagonist.
    • "Something in the Woodwork": Charlie gets scared to death by the ghost. Then the ghost takes his body and leaves him in the attic, presumably as unable to leave it as he used to be.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" is the least supernatural episode in the entire series, other than the protagonist being haunted by past regrets. It's also one of the most critically acclaimed episodes in the show's history.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie:
    • The ending of "The Ghost of Sorworth Place" has a ghost hunter become a ghost himself.
    • "Pickman's Model". Pickman turns into one of the ghouls he has been painting.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: The pilot featured a fugitive officer trying to forever escape from pursuit into a painting in Latin America somewhere. He does, but not in the one he wanted.
  • Asshole Victim: Comes up a lot. For example: The Fultons of "You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore", and the long-lost nephew heir in "The Cemetery."
    • It's hard to feel sorry for Auggie Kolodney's ghastly fate in "Rare Objects", given what an unpleasant jerk he is.
  • Atomic Hate: The ending of "Little Girl Lost". Don't piss off the scientist that has nothing to live for after his beloved daughter has died. Especially if he holds a button that can set off a bomb strong enough to destory the entire world.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Several episodes, such as "Since Aunt Ada Came To Stay." The ending implies the witch was indeed successful in her Body Swap. "A Feast of Blood" is another example.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "The Merciful", it's the wife who's sealing herself behind a brick wall to die, rather than bricking up her husband.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • In "Make Me Laugh", Jackie Slater, a failing stand-up comedian, makes a wish with the help of a klutzy genie to be able to make people laugh. The problem is, he can't turn it off when he wants to make a career as a serious actor.
    • In "Escape Route", an ex-Nazi wishes and concentrates with all his might to escape into a painting... only to find when it works that the painting was switched, and the new one is much less comfortable than the old.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: "Certain Shadows On The Wall." How does Stephen end up getting what he deserves for poisoning Emma? Sweet, ditzy Rebecca secretly gives him a giant overdose of the medication he was slowly killing Emma with, and explains it to their sister Ann that it will "Help him sleep." Whether or not Rebecca truly did it on purpose is left for interpretation, but the minute Ann hears that Stephen is "taking his own medication," she's clearly horrified.
  • Big Blackout:
    • One hits at a most inopportune time for the protagonist in "Eyes". She misses most of the eleven hours of sight given her by her operation because it happens to coincide with a blackout.
    • Another blackout sets up the climax of "The Last Laurel".
  • Bloody Horror: Averted for the most part, as violence usually occurs off-screen in this series. Played straight in "A Feast of Blood" and "Return of the Sorcerer" as we are given graphic shots of bloody dead bodies.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: "The Academy" from the titular episode. On the surface, it's a military academy for troubled children. In reality, it's little more than a dumping ground for kids whose parents would rather not have to deal with them, with the strong idea that most students never graduate. The man at the entrance is an old student; he's 55.
  • Body Horror: In "The Dead Man", one of the characters has an unusually powerful psychosomatic ability that lets him manifest advanced symptoms of all sorts of diseases under hypnosis, even viral ones even though he has no trace of the virus itself. His body is shown both emaciated and discolored, and later bloated and blue from edema, only to immediately revert to the peak of health when the suggestion is broken. It works after he has been made to think he died too. LONG after he thought he died.
  • Body Swap:
    • "The Housekeeper". A husband is on the quest for the perfect personality to put in his beautiful wife's body.
    • "Since Aunt Ada Came To Stay." An old woman tries and ultimately succeeds in stealing her young niece's body.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: A gender-flipped version occurs in "Cool Air" when Agatha falls in love with Dr. Munoz, who, unbeknownst to her, died ten years ago and has clung to (un)life only through willpower and constant cold.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: "Brenda." The only true friend she makes is a shambling monster that gets trapped in a pit.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Subverted and parodied in "A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank." A vampire breaks into a woman's room and goes down to suck her blood. At the last second, she wakes up and says "I gave at the office." He apologizes, makes a note in his book, and flies off.
  • Broken Record: "The Tune in Dan's Cafe" concerns a jukebox in a cafe that skips over and over right at the spot that was playing when a criminal inside the diner was gunned down.
    till, death...'till, death...'till, death... 'till death...
  • Breaking Bad News Gently: In "The Caterpillar", the doctor tells Macy to sit down before telling him the bad news about the earwig. Macy initially says it's not necessary, but the doctor insists, and given the news, he might have been right.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: The vampire in "Death on a Barge" can't walk over or through running water, which her father exploits to keep her from killing.
  • Caustic Critic: "A Fear of Spiders," although the critic in question is a subversion. He's not shown writing pointlessly cruel gourmet reviews, but he's pointedly cruel to a female suitor and the building supervisor.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Inverted in "You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan". Helena Millikan's flaw of being late doing anything comes up multiple times before the ending, when she resurrects late.
  • Christmas Episode: "The Messiah on Mott Street", written by Serling, which blends Christmas and Hanukkah in a tale of an elderly Jewish man (Edward G. Robinson) who is visited by the Angel of Death on Christmas Eve, but is determined to stay alive for the sake of his orphaned grandson. It's often considered one of Serling's most personal works; he was Jewish, but was born on Christmas Day.
  • The Collector: In "Rare Objects", a gangster seeking refuge from his enemies cuts a deal with a collector of rare art and antiquities to hide him from his enemies, only to wind up locked away in the man's hidden collection of historical missing persons.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: "Clean Kills And Other Trophies." It ends with hunter learning what it's like to be the victim.
  • Covers Always Lie: Most of the paintings are connected to their stories symbolically or thematically rather than being literal illustrations of events, meaning the fantastical, surreal imagery depicted doesn't actually show up in the shorts.
    • Subverted in "Pickman's Model", "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes", "The Cemetery", "Escape Route" and "Eyes", as the paintings actually show up in the episodes, painted by the characters inside them.
    • "The Funeral" and "A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank" have some of the creepiest paintings ever featured on the show, but in reality both are lighthearted and humorous stories.
    • The painting associated with "The House" features a woman's face superimposed over an apartment.
    • Also subverted with all of the Sixth Sense episodes, as the paintings actually are illustrations of the stories featured within.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: "The Cemetery." It's actually a trick played by the butler on the evil nephew, both to avenge his former employer, and to gain the inheritance himself... After the nephew's death however, the painting suddenly changes on its own...
  • Creepy Crows: While Chris is digging the old man's hole in "Big Surprise", there are numerous cuts to scenes of a setting sun and dark sky that gets progressively more filled with cawing, frantic crows, adding to the suspense of what he will uncover. What he actually does find is kinda funny.
  • Creepy Doll, Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: The eponymous doll from "The Doll", which is actually a curse sent by an Indian mystic to a British colonel, as revenge for the colonel ordering his brothers death back in India (said brother had been an anti-British rebel who led raids on British outposts). Making matters worse, the doll ended up with the colonels granddaughter who became incredibly attached to it. By the end of the episode, the colonel accepts his death, so the doll can be destroyed and rid his granddaughter from the curse, as well as leave her with his insurance money and in the protection of her kindly governess. That same night, the mystic gets a package of his own, which contains a doll that looks like the colonel, with the same creepy slasher smile the first doll had...
  • Cute and Psycho: Nurse Frances Nevins in "Room with a View." She's bright, adorably shy, with a cute smile... But tends to turn completely homicidal when she gets jealous of her fiancé.
  • Dead All Along: The whole cast in "Lone Survivor". They're really just phantoms in the Ironic Hell of a damned sailor.
    • Jonathan and Pamela in "Pamela's Voice".
  • A Deadly Affair: Bloodshed ensuing from cheating appears in a number of the stories.
    • In "Spectre in Tap Shoes", Marion's suicide turns out to have been a staged murder, committed by a married man she had had an affair with and who had sent her incriminating letters.
    • In "The Other Way Out", Bradley Meredith had been cheating on his wife with the slain go-go dancer, Marilou, and had killed her in a fit of passion when she threatened to tell his wife.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the short story "Stop Killing Me" is based on, Mrs. Turchin survives. The adaption has her step in front of a car and perish.
  • Death of a Child: In "Little Girl Lost", Professor Putnam lost his young daughter Ginny and the government asks the protagonist to humor his delusion that she's still alive in order to get him to continue his work.
  • Downer Ending: Several, such as "The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes", which ends with the young seer predicting that the sun will soon go nova and explode, engulfing the earth.
  • Dirty Coward: The main character of "Lone Survivor", who reveals he had been a sailor on the RMS Titanic, and had forced his way onto a lifeboat dressed in women's clothing, then the overcrowded lifeboat had broken its cables, and he was the only person who managed to hold on before it hit the water. He's well aware that his cowardice was unforgivable, and can give no excuse other than that he was out of his mind with fear. He's also been damned for his deed, and is cursed to float forever on the ocean, from doomed ship to doomed ship throughout history.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Colonel Malloy shoots himself in "A Question Of Fear" after Mazi tells him that he was injected with a serum that will turn him slowly into a worm. Completely unnecessary at that, as Mazi was lying about the serum.
    • Henry Millikan in "You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan" kills himself in the face of being punished for murder and having to live the rest of his life without his beloved wife. Unfortunately, it turns out that the resurrection serum he created works; his wife was just late, as usual.
    • Invoked in "Spectre in Tap Shoes." Marion's lover gaslights Millicent and poses as Marion, urging her to hang herself so they can be together again. When Millicent can't go through with it, he just decides to hang her himself and make it look like suicide, just like he did with Marion. However, Marion intervenes.
    • Also invoked in "The Other Way Out". Marilou's grandfather leaves her killer, Bradley Meredith, in a pit with an injured leg while he takes Sonny for a month's vacation. Just before leaving, he gives Bradley the eponymous "other way out" — a bullet for his pistol. It's left unclear whether he takes it or not.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In "Little Girl Lost" Professor Putnam, a military scientist, has delusions that his dead daughter is alive. A wounded pilot becomes his bodyguard and must act as if he is interacting with the daughter. At the end of the episode it is revealed that the scientist has realized that his daughter is dead and has found a way to be reunited with her and get revenge on those who killed her. And it turns out he has been working on nuclear fission. Oops.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • "The Funeral": A Clthulhu-esque creature requests a funeral.
    • "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture": A college professor is turned into one by pissed-off Old Ones after he won't stop saying their names.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: "The Devil Is Not Mocked". It turns out that the resistance force that the Nazis have been looking for is made up of vampires and werewolves, and led by none other than Count Dracula. They may feed on humans, but that doesn't mean they condone the evil the Nazis are perpetrating.
  • Evil Hand: In "The Hand of Borgus Weems", the hero finds his right hand taking control and trying to commit murder. The condition begins to spread to other parts of his body before he gets it amputated. It's eventually implied that the hand was possessed by a man called Borgus Weems and the three people it tried to kill were his killers and their lawyer.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Prime examples of this trope include "There Aren't Any More McBanes" and "I'll Never Leave You - Ever."
  • Exact Words:
    • The titular "Other Way Out": the bullet the Old Man gives for Bradley Meredith's gun.
    • From the same episode, but earlier, the Old Man tells Bradley Meredith (the guy who killed his granddaughter) that someone named "Sonny" is going to come by soon to see him die. Sonny, the Old Man's grandson, does in fact come by near the end to see him die... as in, being left alone in a pit he can't get out of... with the aforementioned gun.
    • In "Lindemann's Catch", a fortune teller sells Lindemann a potion that will give his mermaid human legs. It works...but it moves the fish part of her to the upper half of her body.
    • The criminal in "Dead Weight" is promised by a smuggler that he will get him "out of the country" after he accidentally kills a little boy during a bank robbery and wants to escape prosecution. He gets out, all right... by being murdered, ground up, put in the meat mixture for the smuggler's brand of dog food, and is taken "out of the country" on a barge that is shipping the brand overseas.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • In "A Question of Fear", Mazi tells Colonel Malloy that he dosed him with a serum that will turn him into a worm. Malloy shoots himself rather than go through it.
    • "The Caterpillar," as it's revealed that the earwig in question was female, and probably laid eggs.
  • Female Monster Surprise: In "The Caterpillar", man pays to have a romantic rival murdered by having a carnivorous earwig placed in the man's ear. The plan goes wrong, however, and the next morning he awakens to find that the earwig has been placed in his ear instead, and has crawled inside his head. He endures weeks of agony as the earwig eats its way through his brain, but he remarkably survives the ordeal. He is then told by a doctor that the earwig was female... And it laid eggs.
  • Flying Dutchman: The castaway from "Lone Survivor" calls himself this.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes", Herbie's grandfather muses about what a terrible burden it must be for Herbie to be able to foresee catastrophes but not be able to do anything about it, which happens on a planetwide scale at the end of the episode.
    • Another example from the same episode: it's established that Herbie can't predict further than one day into the future. This provides an early clue that he's lying when he predicts that things will improve from here on out.
    • In "Green Fingers", Mrs. Bowen tells the developer how she once planted a piece of wood that started growing. This hints what will happen when she plants her fingers.
    • In a sense, Rod Serling appearing in the painting for "Midnight Never Ends" acts as this to the episode's twist. A meta painting, for a meta story, if you will.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: In "Junior", the "baby" calling for water is a Frankenstein's Monster.
  • Fright Deathtrap:
    • "A Question of Fear": Dr. Mazi bets Colonel Malloy he can't stay a night in a local haunted house. Malloy accepts, and finds himself tormented by a wide selection of nasty "tricks". Finally, Mazi tells him he's been drugged with a serum that will slowly turn him into a worm. Malloy shoots himself.
    • "The Other Way Out": Marilou's grandfather keeps calmly talking about Sonny's meanness and Meredith's coming doom once he arrives, driving him to desperation to escape. He falls into a pit, and the old man says he'll leave him there while he takes Sonny on vacation. He then tosses him a bullet in case the thought of slowly dying in the pit he was frightened into scares him enough to use it.
    • "Something in the Woodwork": Molly nags the ghost into scaring her ex-husband to death (which she has reason to think will work, given his bad heart). It works, but then the ghost possesses the corpse.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": In "The Funeral," a vampire pays to host his own funeral, given that he never got one when he actually died. It quickly becomes less than dignified thanks to the guests.
  • Gainax Ending: "The House" ends very ambiguously, with Elaine somehow switching roles between her dream self and reality. It's obliquely suggested that the "haunting" has been an astral projection of her recurring dream all along, but the story doesn't give a concrete explanation of what's really going on, nor exactly what sort of ghostly activity the house's previous owners experienced that horrified them enough to sell the house.
  • Gaslighting:
    • "The Cemetery": The butler of the mansion is changing the painting to psych his deceased employer's long-lost nephew out.
    • "The Spectre In Tap Shoes". Some aspects of the haunting are revealed just a ploy by the man who killed Marion to get her sister to sell her house, so he can retrieve incriminating evidence.
  • Genetic Memory: The idea that memories can travel down bloodlines becomes important in "Hatred Unto Death." It's implied that N'gi and Grant "met" and fought before, causing their Hate at First Sight.
  • Giant Spider: In "A Fear Of Spiders", the spider grows almost every time Justus sees it until it's as big as a dog.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Several examples.
    • "You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan" features a scientist trying to revive his dead, forgetful wife who was late for everything. The experiment appears to fail and he kills himself. Hours later, the wife finally comes back to life and asks where her husband is.
    • In "Something in the Woodwork", a woman asks for the ghost of a criminal trapped in the attic of her house to kill her cold-hearted ex-husband for her. He does so - and proceeds to swap places with him, trapping the husband's soul in the attic while taking control his body. He then proceeds to attack the woman for being such an annoying nag.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Bloody violence is primarily kept off-screen in this series. Averted in "A Feast of Blood" and Return of the Sorcerer", where we are given very graphic shots.
  • Green Thumb: Or rather, "Green Fingers". The old lady who is being pushed to move out of her home by a realtor claims she can make anything she plants grow. Even, it turns out, bits of herself.
  • Grand Theft Me: The witch from "When Aunt Ada Came to Stay" had stolen multiple bodies of girls in the past, and at the climax stole the one of the protagonist's love interest.
  • Happily Married: "The Caterpillar." The jealous suitor thinks he's saving the object of his affection from her marriage because her husband is so much older than she is, but the woman is quite happy how things are and thinks the suitor is an asshole for making assumptions about her happiness.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Henry Malloy, the Villain Protagonist of "A Feast of Blood", is an unusual (and horrific) variation. He's a middle-aged man who is shown dating a younger woman until he turns her off and she rejects him. As a parting gift, he gives her a brooch of a repulsive, rat-like creature—which magically comes alive, becomes several times larger, and brutally kills her. The Here We Go Again! ending shows that he does this on a regular basis.
  • Henpecked Husband: "House - With Ghost" and "Stop Killing Me". Both concern husbands that are fed up with their nagging, overbearing wives. Both try to turn to murder to get rid of their problems. Both succeed.
  • Here We Go Again!:
    • "The Housekeeper": the husband, having switched his wife's personality with that of the new housekeeper, switches her personality with that of a newly hired one once she plans to leave him without a cent to punish him for his deed.
    • "The Caterpillar": Macy starts screaming after the doctor tells him that the earwig laid eggs, meaning he'll have to endure more of the same agony in which he's spent the past week.
    • "The Hand of Borgus Weems": After the hero has forced the doctor to cut his hand off to prevent him from committing murder, the doctor's hand begins writing in Latin, one of the symptoms the hero's possessed hand exhibited.
    • "The Funeral": Having successfully handled a funeral for a vampire, the funeral home director finds himself dealing with another unusual client to whom the vampire recommended him.
    • "Lone Survivor": The man sinks in another ship and is picked up by another vessel doomed to go under.
    • "Midnight Never Ends": The writer starts his story over, and his characters start the whole scene over again.
    • "The Ghost of Sorworth Place": Burke takes the place of Ann's deceased husband in haunting her.
    • "A Feast of Blood": The Villain Protagonist has used his magic brooch to kill yet another woman, and has already chosen his next victim.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "The Last Laurel", Villain Protagonist Marius Davis can astrally project his soul out of his paralyzed body, while retaining the ability to grasp objects. He plans to use this ability to murder a man he (falsely) suspects of being his wife's lover while he sleeps. However, Marius gets mixed up during a Big Blackout, goes to the wrong room, and winds up killing himself!
  • "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": In "The Other Way Out", when Bradley asks the murdered dancer's grandfather how he knew he had killed her, the old man answers that he didn't. He sent blackmail letters to each of the man mentioned in Marilou's diary, and only Bradley, who had something to fear, responded.
  • Human Head on the Wall: "Clean Kills and Other Trophies". When an evil trophy hunter forces his son to kill a deer, he is punished by African tribal gods. He is killed and his head is mounted on the trophy wall in his own house.
  • Hypno Fool: In "Finnegan's Flight", Pete Tully demonstrates his hypnosis abilities by convincing Finnegan that his hand is chained to the ceiling or that his fingers are stuck together.
  • Idiot Ball: Col. Malloy in "A Question of Fear" commits suicide out of belief in the Doctor's serum, in spite of being quite skeptical up to that point and uncovering plenty of evidence that the doctor had fabricated everything else he tried to scare the Colonel with. The doctor himself seems a bit shocked that Malloy didn't just call his bluff and go look in the cellar.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "Satisfaction Guaranteed". An affluent man that appears to be trying to find a secretary at a hiring firm is actually looking for his lunch.
  • Informed Attractiveness: "The Different Ones". A hideously deformed young man is part of an exchange program with a student from another planet who is part of the program for the same reason. Only the student from the other planet looks like a normal human, and the natives of his planet all look like the student from Earth- and the alien girls all think the new arrival is pretty cute, leading to a surprise Happy Ending. (Keep in mind, the boy and the aliens look like this. A bit strange looking, but not much worse than what you'd see on Star Trek.)
  • I Lied:
    • "A Question Of Fear", there never was any mutating serum, the villain just lied about it to break the main character.
    • In "You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan", Mr. Millikan's nephew tells him that he told a lie when he promised to wait three hours before telling anyone about his aunt's death. He called the police and they will be here shortly.
  • In Name Only: The series sometimes had the tendency to mess with the source material quite a bit. The most obvious breaks from the events of the original stories include "The Doll", "The Ghost of Sorworth Place", "Green Fingers", "Last Rights for a Dead Druid", and "The Painted Mirror".
  • Ironic Hell:
    • "Hell's Bells": A hippie is forced to spend eternity in a boring room with drab pastimes.
    • "Certain Shadows on the Wall": A doctor murders his sister, but her shadow won't go away from the wall. In the end, he dies too and his shadow remains with hers.
    • "Pamela's Voice": A man who murdered his talkative wife is forced to listen to her chatter on for all eternity.
    • "Lone Survivor": A cowardly man who dressed up as a woman to escape on a ship's lifeboat is left floating on the sea forever, being continuously picked up by vessels that are doomed to sink.
  • Karmic Death: Commonly used. A villainous character may survive the tale, but it isn't often.
  • Kid from the Future: "Tell David...," but this is a subversion. The woman's son David has already been born, but she somehow finds herself travelling into the future where he is an adult.
  • Killer Gorilla: N'gi from "Hatred Unto Death" is a large gorilla harboring a murderous hatred for the man who captured him. He does succeed in killing him in the end, right before succumbing to his bullet wounds.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: "Fright Night" ends with the young couple moving out of their newly inherited Haunted House upon seeing that the mysterious chest which seems related to everything is still in the attic.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In "The Miracle at Camafeo", a man pretends to be paralyzed to collect money and then pretends he was cured by a shrine in the titular city. At the end, he loses his sight, and this time it isn't pretend.
      • The ending of the short story that this tale is based off fits this trope even more so, where the con-man actually becomes paralyzed, like he had been pretending all along. (The story's earlier adaptation on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, titled "Strange Miracle", ended this way.)
    • In "The Caterpillar", Macy plots a gruesome murder (having a bug placed on the pillow of his rival in love to eat through his brain) but is accidentally made the victim.
  • Last of His Kind: "There Aren't Any More MacBanes". Our hero is the only remaining member of the once prosperous MacBane clan.
  • La Résistance: During World War II, the Nazis tried to exterminate the Hungarian resistance. They ran into its true leader—Count Dracula.
  • Legacy Character: In "The Sins Of The Father", the role of sin-eater is passed from father to son. This isn't a happy example: the son is forced to take on his father's role, and the cumulative sins of all the dead whose guilt the father had assumed, to keep his late father's soul from Hell. And then to shift the same burden onto his own future son, to ensure he'll likewise be spared.
  • Let Them Die Happy: In "The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes", Herbie decides to tell his viewers that the next day will be the start of a new and better world, rather than tell them the harsh truth — the next day, the sun will go nova.
  • Lighter and Softer: Series writer Jack Laird was notorious for creating short, humorous tales to serve as breathers between the heavy horror. Unfortunately, many of these (such as "Miss Lovecraft Sent Me", "Junior", "A Matter of Semantics", "The Funeral", "Room For One Less", "Smile, Please", and "An Act of Chivalry") are seen by fans as the weakest and most skippable segments on the show.
  • Living Doll Collector: "A Death In The Family." That undertaker loves his embalmed charges just a bit too much...
  • Literal Genie: "Make Me Laugh." The genie in question might be considered a Jackass Genie, but he tells his "clients" beforehand that he's a klutz and the wishes he grants can backfire. For instance, one wisher wanted to go to Tibet — and wound up on Mt. Everest in the middle of a snowstorm.
  • Magic Mirror: "The Painted Mirror." It leads to an alternate dimension full of monsters and prehistoric nightmares.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: "A Fear of Spiders" never answers one way or the other whether the spider is a supernormal being intended to take revenge on Justus or a hallucination he's having because of his arachnophobia.
  • Maximum Capacity Overload: Subject of a gag in the short "Room For One Less". A towering.. Thing gets on an already crowded elevator, and one of the occupants points out the Maximum Capacity sign. The Thing solves the problem by zapping the guy into non-existence
  • Meta Fiction: "Midnight Never Ends." It turns out the events of the story all take place within the novel a writer is working on... except the writer is struggling hard with writer's block.
  • Mercy Kill: "The Merciful". A woman appears to be walling her husband up alive so he won't suffer. The Stinger reveals that she's actually walling herself up so she won't be a burden to him.
  • Mugging the Monster: SS troopers hunting Transylvanian partisans come to a castle that turns out to be owned by Count Dracula. Turns out vampires are patriotic; who knew?
  • Murderer P.O.V.: In "The Cemetery", the undead Jeremy's attack on Portifoy is filmed from Jeremy's point of view.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Jackie Slater from "Make Me Laugh" spent sixteen years wanting people to laugh at his jokes, but once a miracle worker grants his wish to make people laugh, he finds that the success without the effort is boring.
  • Non-Human Lover Reveal: The series was in love with The Reveal in general.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: "The Cemetery." We never actually see the old man rise from his grave, but just seeing it happening on the painting and imagining it happening for real makes it all the more frightening. The same occurs for his nephew at the end. And unlike the previous case, this time it's happening for real.
    • In addition, "Miss Lovecraft Sent Me". We never see whatever the babysitter is supposed to be babysitting, but judging by the growls coming from upstairs, it can be assumed that it's not an ordinary child.
  • Obfuscating Disability: One episode had a con man faking being crippled to collect a fat settlement visiting a shrine in Mexico with reputed miraculous healing powers visited by sick and infirm pilgrims - he intends to get "cured" and walk out scot-free in front of an insurance investigator. As he saunters out, a miracle does occur - just as a blind child gains sight again, the con man's miraculously stricken blind.
  • Oh, Crap!: Quite often.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: "The Phantom Farmhouse." Werewolves are said to have a longer index finger than middle finger and red nails when they're in human form. When transformed, they look fully like animals, although apparently some of their human mind stays with them.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: "Logoda's Heads." The titular witch doctor is found gruesomely torn apart, and the person responsible turns out to be another magic practitioner who sought to avenge the anthropologist Logoda unjustly murdered.
  • Pendulum of Death: In "A Question of Fear", Colonel Malloy lies down on a bed in a supposedly haunted house. Steel restraints suddenly emerge and cover his chest, locking him in. Then a swinging razor-sharp swinging pendulum descends, moving closer and closer to his neck. Just short of slicing his throat, the pendulum stops. The next morning the restraints and pendulum are gone.
  • Possessing a Dead Body: In "Something in the Woodwork", the ghost scares Charlie to death, as Molly asked. However, then he uses Charlie's body to escape the attic and kill her for disturbing his peace.
  • The Power of Hate: In "The Cemetery", the butler deliberately plants the idea that his current master's grandfather may have a hatred strong enough to outlast the grave. The idea turns out to be true, but it's not the grandfather's.
  • Power Outage Plot: In the Pilot Episode directed by Steven Spielberg, Joan Crawford plays a rich old blind woman who has an eye transplant operation, even though she knows her new eyes will only work for 12 hours. Unfortunately, there is a power outage that lasts the entire time she has to see.
  • Predator Turned Protector: In "The Phantom Farmhouse", Mildred and her family are werewolves. They have no scruples against killing people; however, Mildred falls in love with Joel and ends up protecting him against her parents.
  • The Punishment Is the Crime: In "The Caterpillar", Mr. Warwick says he's just going to have Macy sent back to England; he doesn't intend to press charges for the murder attempt. It's implied he thinks what Macy will have to deal with as a result of his scheme backfiring is worse than the legal punishment he could potentially expect.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The demon in "There Aren't Any More MacBanes" is only fully revealed at the end. Before that, we only get to see its freakishly glowing red eyes in the darkness and its clawed hands.
  • Rich Bitch: Joan Crawford's character in "Eyes", a rich heiress who's been blind since birth and pays a man in debt a pitiful amount of money for his eyes (he's Trapped by Gambling Debts, and she only gives him exactly enough money to pay them off), for an operation that'll only give her sight for a few hours.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots:
    • The robotic servants in "You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore" are capable of adaptive learning, feeling emotions like pain and distress, and as the abusive Mr. and Mrs. Fulton learn the hard way, defending themselves by force.
    • The "Class of '99" is similar, except replace "pain and distress" with "hate."
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The twist at the end of "Nature of the Enemy" reveals that humans are miniscule creatures compared to whatever lives above us, as evidenced by a scene where an astronaut is killed by a giant mouse.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • "The Other Way Out" ends on this: either Bradley Meredith dies a slow, possibly painful death in the pit he can't escape from, or he takes the titular "other way out"... and shoots himself.
    • "Rare Objects" has a double whammy. August Kolodney, a racketeer with a price on his head, meets a strange older man who tells him the situation has gotten more dangerous than he thinks and offers him comfort and long the price of Kolodney giving him all his worldly goods. Then the older man reveals that the "safety" he's offering him is in a human zoo, where he'll stay in a comfortable "habitat" alongside the habitats of other famous vanished people, like Anastasia Romanov and Roald Amundsen.
  • Sadist Teacher: "Class of '99". The teacher, played by Vincent Price, is instilling in his graduating class lessons in bigotry and hatred. It helps that they're robots.
  • Sanity Slippage: "The Diary." The gossip reporter given the seemingly prophetic diary has herself locked in a mental institution to save herself from the diary's last entry. The episode ends with her proclaiming to have found a way to beat the diary... and then we find out from her doctor that she's been a patient there for three years now.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: The ending shot of "The Caterpillar" cuts to the outside of the Warwicks' house as Macy, having been told that he's going to have a repeat of the last two weeks, screams in pain or fear.
  • Serious Business: Being the boxing champion for the entire cast bar the main character in "The Ring With The Red Velvet Ropes". Justified when it's revealed in the end being the true champion mean immortality, a luxurious house, a beautiful wife, and an entire staff to take care of you as long as you keep the title.
  • Shackle Seat Trap: The booby-trapped bed from "A Question Of Fear" has bars which spring up and trap Malloy when he lies down.
  • Schmuck Bait: "Big Surprise." A creepy old man asks you to dig a hole deep in the forest for a "big surprise"? Hand me a shovel!
  • Shout-Out:
    • H. P. Lovecraft is repeatedly mentioned if his works aren't the basis of one of the stories. "Miss Lovecraft Sent Me," is one of the shorter stories, and in "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture," the eponymous Professor is reading off the names of numerous Lovecraftian deities, and three of his students have the last names "Bloch", "Derleth", and "Lovecraft".note 
    • "The Housekeeper" makes use of multiple clips from Frankenstein (1931).
  • Slurpasaur: Stock Footage of one is used in "The Painted Mirror".
  • Snake Oil Salesman: "Dr. Stringfellow's Rejuvenator." The titular doctor makes his living selling fake medicine to the people of a small Western town.
  • Spot the Thread: The narrative for "Midnight Never Ends" feels incomplete, in a way: both characters only have general ideas of what they are doing that night, but don't know anything concrete. After all, the author of the story is drawing the same blanks; it's late at night, and he's grasping at straws by this point.
  • Stable Time Loop: "Tell David..." A woman travels to a futuristic house where a young man tells her his mother killed his father on his fourth birthday. She goes back home and sees her husband having an affair, and kills him. It's then she realizes the man looked quite a bit like her four-year-old son...
  • Staircase Tumble: Quite a few stories, most notably "House - With Ghost" and "The Ghost of Sorworth Place" feature characters perishing from injuries sustained in a fall down the stairs.
  • Tempting Fate: "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture." It's not s good idea to constantly say the names of the Old Ones when it's widely know that they don't like it.
  • Title Drop: In the beginning of "Miss Lovecraft Sent Me", the babysitter says the title words when talking to her client.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The psychic attacks that kill Walker and the convict in "Lady, Lady, Take My Life" causes the simultaneous rupture of three major arteries, any one of which would've been fatal on its own.
  • This Isn't Heaven: "Pamela's Voice". Correction, it IS Heaven for Pamela, but not for her husband who killed her. Now he's trapped forever, listening to her grating voice.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: One interpretation of "Silent Snow, Secret Snow."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ron in "Death on a Barge", who continues trying to see Hyacinth after being told that some mysterious deaths happened shortly before she left her last known home. He scoffs at the idea that she's a vampire, but her being a serial killer would hardly prove less dangerous. He doesn't die, but only because Hyacinth regains control at the last minute.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: "Tell David...". The man's futuristic house has lots of gizmos like Skype-esque TV phones and a precursor to Google Maps.
  • Twin Switch: A subversion. In "Spectre In Tap Shoes," one of the twin sisters has died before the episode began, but the switch occurs when the dead sister possesses the living one. It happens first when Marion takes control to prevent Millicent from being sent to a mental hospital, and again when she does it to shoot her killer.
  • Twist Ending: The endings often put a twist on what the reader expected.
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: In the episode "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture", a skeptical professor reads aloud from The Necronomicon in order to demonstrate that there is nothing supernatural about it. Needless to say, this does not end well for him.
  • The Unwitting Comedian: "Make Me Laugh." Tired of his career in stand-up comedy, Jackie tries to make a new start as a serious actor. Unfortunately, his wish makes the directors laugh even though the lines he's delivering are heart-wrenching. This is the final straw for Jackie, who tracks down the genie to get rid of his comedic "talent."
  • The Vamp: "The Girl With The Hungry Eyes". She's a thin, ghostly, wisp of a woman that acts strangely.
  • Wham Line:
    • While more of a Wham Noise, "The Merciful" has the doorbell.
    • "The Caterpillar" ends with one that has haunted many years after the fact: "And females lay eggs."
    • "The Other Way Out", which doubles as a Title Drop, when the Old Man is about to leave Bradley in the hole for a month:
      Bradley Meredith: You said there was another way out! There is no other way out is there?! You lied to me!
      The Old Man: No, I didn't. (pulls something out of his pocket) Here, Mr. Meredith. Here's the other way out. (tosses the object down... and it's a bullet for his gun).
    • At the end of "A Question Of Fear", after being informed that he had been injected with a serum that would turn him into a worm, Col. Malloy is told to go into the cellar to see proof of what fate awaits him. He can't go through with it, though:
      Col. Malloy: (slowly walks back into view of Dr. Mazi's video feed) still lose, Dr. Mazi. (picks up gun; shoots self)
      Dr. Mazi:, Mr. Malloy. You lose. There is nothing in the cellar.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • "You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore" centers around an employment office that offers robotic servants to consumers, and one particularly assholish couple who want their robotic maid replaced after it "broke down". This particularly pisses off one of the head technicians, who sees through their lies and outright says they abused and tortured the robot. The head of the company writes off his concerns... until he gets a better look at the latest damaged robot.
      Malcolm Hample: (gestures to the damaged robot) This... this thing here is just a machine!
      Dr. Kessler: (quietly) They're not just machines.
      Malcolm Hample: (deadpan) "This is not just a machine." (kneels down to the robot) This isn't just flesh colored plastic? (grabs hands) These aren't just wires and computer circuits? (gestures to the robot) This isn't just an inanimate, lifeless, synthetic- (notices tears pouring down the robot's face)
  • Woman Scorned: "Something In The Woodwork". A wife's plan to murder her ex-husband that abandoned her with the help of a ghost in her house works. A little too well.
  • You Killed My Father: The "villain" in "A Question Of Fear". His father had been a conscript in the Italian Army during World War II. He wasn't killed, but the main character burned off his hands, destroying his life as a pianist. The villain swore revenge on his father's behalf.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real:
    • "The Dead Man", which revolves around a hypnotist working with an unusually strong hypochondriac, who can show extensive symptoms of any sickness through hypnotic programming, far beyond what psychosomatic symptoms are capable of. The hypnotist intends to have him simulate death, to see if a man can be brought back from beyond brain death. He can. From death far longer than the hypnotist intended.
    • "Finnegan's Flight" runs along the same lines, only with both the hypnotist and his patient being prisoners. Pete Tully demonstrates to the prison doctor that Finnegan has such great suggestibility that he gets blisters on his hands if told under hypnosis that he's put them into scalding water. Later, he hypnotizes Finnegan into imagining a jet flight, only for him to start suffering symptoms of hypoxia from being too high. When Tully tries to bring him down, Finnegan can't imagine landing safely and burns alive in the imagined crash.


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