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Series / Nightmare Cafe

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Now that I've got your attention, here's the deal: See those two people? That's Frank, and that's Fay. Strangers when they met, turns out they've got a lot in common. Both died the same night. Both ended up in the same body of water, and both took refuge in the same all-night cafe. Me? I run the place. Name's Blackie, been here from the beginning. Now, I know I said Frank and Fay were dead, but the cafe needed a new cook and waitress, so it gave them a second chance at life. They do their job, they get to stick around and help unsuspecting customers turn their lives around. 'Course, anything can happen to those who wander in, their worst nightmares, or their forbidden dreams. Yeah, it all happens here, in this little place we call the Nightmare Cafe

Short-lived Genre Anthology on NBC starring Robert Englund. Frank and Fay meet when they help each other out of the harbour into which they've both fallen for reasons that only become clear later, and take refuge in a diner. This diner, the Nightmare Cafe, is a magical place with magical powers. It eventually turns out that both Frank and Fay had died as a result of a criminal conspiracy — Frank was murdered as part of the cover-up, while Fay committed suicide when she discovered her husband's infidelity and involvement in the plot. The cafe allows them to replay events, still ultimately dying, but this time dying in the process of exposing the conspiracy. Afterward, they become the cafe's staff, helping to avenge the wronged, redeem the redeemable, or mete out poetic justice to evildoers.


The series lasted only six episodes.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aliens Steal Cattle: The townsfolk in the sixth episode are jumpy because a number of cows have been going missing, which is attributed to aliens. Unsurprisingly for this show, aliens really did steal the cows.
  • And I Must Scream: The killer in "The Heart of the Mystery" is transformed into a hideous statue. From the looks of things, it was quite painful.
  • Atrocious Alias: In Aliens Ate My Lunch, Blackie passes himself off as the new boss of an unscrupulous tabloid reporter. His fake name is "Sid Hogoboom".
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Ivy's boyfriend Jesse.
  • Clear My Name: In The Heart of the Mystery, Detective Stan Gates is brought to the cafe while in the midst of being shot and has to find out who really killed the woman he loved and framed him for it.
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  • Cool Big Sis: Fay appears to be this to Ivy, who seems to worship her sister despite not having seen her in several years.
  • Driven to Suicide: Fay is sort of kind of this.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Angela, imprisoned with her horribly burned and undead/immortal husband, thanks to a wish granted by the Cafe. The episode (see Literal Genie) ends in Angela's jail cell, but if her wish is to be granted indefinitely and with absolute Poetic Justice, this would likely cause her to have no relief in death if she can herself "die."
  • Genius Loci: The Cafe.
  • He Knows Too Much: Frank.
  • Human Aliens: The aliens in the last episode look like human midgets for most of the episode, though apparently they naturally look more like anthropomorphic birds.
  • If I Can't Have You...: The Heart of the Mystery.
  • Laser-Guided Karma
  • Literal Genie: The Cafe itself. In Dying Well Is The Best Revenge, a woman comes into the cafe late at night, crying and claiming her husband is abusive. She wishes, as part of her "battered woman" ruse, that her husband would just stay with her and love her forever. The cafe takes her up on her wish. Not only does he survive (in a manner of speaking; he dies but remains alive for all intents and purposes) an attempt on his life that she arranged because of this wish, but when she eventually kills him herself, he turns up in her jail cell. Post-cremation.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: In the later episodes, the cafe materializes in other cities.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Blackie mentions having been "executed" with crossbows, and doesn't seem too fazed about being shot. Fay and Frank, on the other hand, aren't so lucky.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Blackie. He mentions pulling the wings off pterodactyls as a child, though that was probably a joke. Probably.
  • Satan: With a twist. It is implied that Blackie may be Satan, but he's hardly an evil character, more resembling the Satan in the Book of Job, a sort of magical prosecutor whose job is to expect the worst from people and make sure they get the treatment they deserve.
  • Set Right What Once Was Wrong: The show kicks off with the two main characters setting right the circumstances surrounding their deaths, and continues on from there..
  • Shout-Out: One of the "Treehouse of Horror" segments of The Simpsons this year was titled "Nightmare Cafeteria"
  • The Vamp: Angela, who utilizes the Wounded Gazelle Gambit on Frank. Not that it worked in the end.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Fay's middle name is "Petulah".


Example of: