Keep Circulating the Tapes: In spite of the series EVENTUALLY being released in full on both VHS and DVD, it suffered this issue for several decades:
When the show first went into syndication in the late 1970s, the first 209 episodes were embargoed so that the show would start directly with the introduction of Barnabas. The initial syndication package varied from market to market: some got 210-294 (294 being the last black and white episode and where Maggie, having escaped Barnabas, finally reunites with the rest of the cast) or 210-340 (which takes the show into the color episodes and ends with Julia luring her mentor Dr Dave Woodard into a trap so Barnabas can kill him to retrieve proof that he stole from Julia, confirming Barnabas is a vampire).
Over the course of the late 70s and 1980s, the initial syndication package grew with each year as new episodes were slowly added to reruns. This insured that the show had a long life in reruns, as stations got "new" episodes every year to keep fans, many of which were watching the show for the first time, hooked.
Sadly, by 1989, the show was removed from syndication with the "1995" arc being the last batch of "new" episodes released and episode 1070 becoming the syndication "finale". As such, the final 175 episodes of the series were considered lost forever and the final batch of stories ("The Destruction of Collinswood", the final time travel arc that was the swan song for the main cast, and the final "Parallel Time" saga which had Jonathan Frid playing a brand new character) unseen until released on home video in 1993 and the show's acquisition by Sci-Fi Channel.
Sci-Fi Channel originally only owned the rights to the post-Barnabas episodes (210-1245). Shortly after Sci-Fi Channel started airing the series, the first 209 episodes were given a home video release as "Dark Shadows: The Collector's Series". Several years into their airing of Dark Shadows, Sci-Fi gained the rights to these 209 episodes as well, allowing them to air the entire series from start to finish several times, before the series left the airwaves 40 episodes shy of completing the series in 2003.
When the show began it's release on DVD, again the show skipped directly to the introduction of Barnabas. For years it was left in doubt the fate of the first 209 episodes, until (as it was on VHS) the first 209 episodes were released as a stand-alone DVD series after the final episodes of the show were put out on DVD.
Missing Episode: It has just one, being just about the earliest soap opera to be recorded for posterity. An audio track for that episode does exist, however, so for broadcast or video release the audio is combined with publicity stills. Also, the aired color videotape versions of several early episodes are lost and they survive only as black and white kinescopes, with noticeably lower picture and audio quality. Oddly enough, the search for the master tapes in 2001-2002 also uncovered several hundred episodes of The Hollywood Squares, even though both were produced by different networks (ABC and NBC) at very distant facilities (ABC Studios 2 and 16 in New York and NBC Burbank) by different production companies (Dan Curtis and Heatter-Quigley).
The Pete Best: James Hall as Willie Loomis. John Karlen took over the role after a few weeks and played the character for rest of the series.
First is the idea of Barnabas being a vampire being stated upfront. In truth, the show went above and beyond to avoid saying the word "vampire" until the 1795 arc.
The biggest urban legend relates to the actual ending of the show. Due to the fact that the show's syndication run ended with the "1995" arc, a large number of fans of the show (who didn't watch the original broadcast run and for whom the syndication run was their sole exposure to the series) believed that said story WAS the end of the series as a whole and that the series ended with Barnabas and Julia escaping back to the year 1970. It wasn't until the last 175 episodes were released on home video (and aired on Sci-Fi channel) in the mid-1990s that the final three arcs were seen for the first time since their original broadcast.
Episode 1219 (the famed "lost episode" which was reconstructed via stills, footage from episode #1218/#1220), and cast member narration) features the wedding of Jonathan Frid's Parallel Time character Bramwell Collins and the Parallel Time version of Kate Jackson's character Daphne Harridge. However, when writer Andy Mangels (who wrote a movie/tv news column "Hollywood Heroes" for Wizard Magazine) covered the episode's release onto VHS in 1993, his synopsis of the episode was QUITE different from the actual episode: stating that the episode was "the wedding of Barnabas Collins and Maggie Evans" and made no mention to the fact that the story was set in the Parallel Time universe. Though Mangels was fired from Wizard Magazine immediately after the article with the inaccurate episode synopsis ran, it continued to be promoted by fans of the series for quite a while that the show ended with Barnabas and Maggie living happily ever after.
What Could Have Been: Art Wallace's "Shadows On the Wall" give a glimpse towards what the original plans for the series, before the supernatural and Barnabas came calling:
Burke Devlin clearing his name woud have been the first major storyline, climaxing around episode 50. Roger Collins would have died after Victoria discovered proof that Roger framed Burke for murder. David, Roger's son would intervene to save Victoria; causing Roger (trying to throw Victoria off a cliff)to fall to his death instead.
Victoria would have found out the identity her parents, or at least one of her parents in a storyline that would straddle the first and second arcs. Paul Stoddard, Elizabeth's presumed dead husband, was her father and that he had secretly been using the Collins family funds to send her $20 monthly stipend (which was also dropped from her background) while growing up in the orphanage. When Paul "died", Elizabeth found out the same way Victoria found out about the stipend, when she looked over the family bank records. This would be furthered by Victoria finding love letters from Paul to Elizabeth that matched the handwriting on the note left with her as a baby at the orphanage. Victoria at first believes she was conceived out of wedlock by Elizabeth and Paul and rejected for fear of a scandal. But Elizabeth, when confronted, reveals that Victoria was the result of a fling that Paul had with a woman at a nearby beachside artist colony (another plot point planned) prior to their wedding. When Paul "died", Elizabeth discovered the existence of Victoria and out of guilt, Elizabeth continued making the payments and arranged to have Victoria hired as a governess. Victoria would eventually go searching for her mother at said artist colony, which was set to be explored at a later date by the show.
The second major storyline would be a variation of the Jason Mc Guire arc. In the original series bible, Mc Guire was called "Jason Cummings" and is promptly banished from the series once his blackmail scheme backfires and it's revealed that Elizabeth had never killed Paul. Furthermore, Willie (Mc Guire's henchman) is missing from the original series pitch as was Julia, Barnabas's girl friday.
The third planned storyline introduces Roger's wife Laura. Laura is no longer a supernatural entity, but a functional alcoholic who was exiled to a sanitarium by Roger shortly after he framed Burke Devlin for murder to keep her quiet. Furthermore, it would be revealed that David wasn't really a Collins; he was the result of a fling Laura had prior to her wedding to Roger, resulting in her giving birth seven months into the marriage and the scandal covered up by way of claiming that David was a premie baby.
The fourth storyline, which is as far as Art Wallace got; would have Laura killed under mysterious circumstances after declaring her intentions to take David away with her from Elizabeth once it is revealed that David isn't Roger's son. Victoria would be accused of murder; elements of this plot would be used when Victoria travels through time and gets put on trial for murder.
Furthermore certain character traits were different. Roger was going to be more aloof and distant with snarkiness. Maggie was going to be a bitch in sheep's clothing, pretending to be friendly but backstabbing anyone in her way. Burke was also a lot more vindictive in the original draft, in relations to wanting to ruin the Collins family, and Carolyn Stoddard and Joe Haskell as the sole romantic couple of the show.
You Look Familiar: Some have appropriately described the cast as a theater troupe. If someone's character died, there was a good chance that the same actor would be back in a few weeks playing a different character.