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Western Animation / Tales from the Cryptkeeper

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An animated spin-off of Tales from the Crypt from Canada’s Nelvana studio that ran for three seasons. The first two were on ABC and YTV from 1993 to 1994, the last on CBS and Teletoon from 1999 to 2000. Unlike its live-action counterpart, Cryptkeeper usually had kids as the heroes in its stories; therefore, most of the stories had to lack blood and gore, with a horror factor that was more akin to Goosebumps and usually having a moral. During the second season, the show brought in Cryptkeeper's co-Horror Hosts from the comics, the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper, who would usually try to steal the spotlight away from the Cryptkeeper.

When CBS gained the rights to the show, it commissioned a third season under the title "The New Tales from the Cryptkeeper". However, this season had a much more simplified animation compared to the comic book style of the first two. And the stories toned down on the scares. Not helping matters was the fact that the Cryptkeeper was actually part of the stories rather than leading them in, as he usually does.

Despite this, the show has a cult following and episodes can be purchased from iTunes. It's also available in its entirety on Nelvana's Retro Rerun.

Has an under-construction characters page.

The show has the following tropes:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The premise of "Dead Men Don't Jump"; the antagonist tricks Nathan into a basketball game where losing means being turned into a zombie at his service. Nathan ultimately wins.
  • Actor Allusion: The hunter in "Hunted" is voiced by George Buza, so of course, he becomes an actual beast later on.
  • Actually Not a Vampire:
    • The female protagonists of "Fare Tonight" search for proof of vampires. They end up on the trail of spooky looking guy who only appears at night and seems to be luring a would-be victim to a secluded area. He's not the vampire; he's a vampire hunter. It's the limo driver the girls know that is the actual vampire.
    • "Transylvania Express" sees Ben and Mike sneak onto a train, where they find a coffin and suspect one of the "weird dudes" from the station is a vampire. While vampires are indeed onboard, they merely sneaked onto it as well; the "weird guys" are actually all humans- and well-prepared to deal with vampires, as it turns out when Ben and Mike finally dare ask them for help.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Invoked in "Booked Up" as part of the "Reading Is Cool" Aesop; the main character, who dislikes reading and usually sticks to watching movies adaptations, is sent by the Cryptkeeper inside various literature classics and forced to live the stories in them. Since he primarily knows the movies, he does know the basic stories of each, but is taken aback by how different the books are; most notably, he is dumbfounded to find out the Frankenstein's Monster is an eloquent and intelligent being who just wants a mate.
  • Adaptation Expansion: "The Sleeping Beauty" story from the comic merely was a retelling of the classic fairy tale with a Cruel Twist Ending revealing the Beauty was a vampire all along. In this version, this twist is revealed halfway through the episode rather than at the end, and the rest of the episode focuses on the two protagonists trying to escape the vampire. Melvin, who merely was Mr. Exposition in the original tale, also is made Prince Charming's fraternal twin brother and the true hero of the story.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The Crypt Keeper is an odd example of this in that he's drawn in a kid-friendly, less overtly horrifying manner, but has traded in his blue eyes for sickly yellow ones and his brown skin for green. This has the overall effect of making him look less like a dried out, mummified human being and more like he's actively rotting. The Old Witch and Vault Keeper play the trope straight; her engorged eye is less painful looking and he's not perpetually drooling.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • The Crypt Keeper himself. He retains a dark sense of humor, but his live-action counterpart was much more vicious.
    • "Myth Conceptions" had it where Medusa was really defending the Tomb from would-be robbers, including a Perseus who wasn't the hero his myth claimed him to be.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: We only get a one-panel glimpse of the Sleeping Beauty's vampiric Game Face in the original comic, but it appears to be relatively unchanged compared to her human face, only with slightly shadier features and fangs. In the animated adaptation, she takes a much more monstrous appearance, with Wild Hair, green skin, red eyes, Villainous Cheekbones and tusk-like fangs.
  • Aesop Amnesia: The two bullies in "Growing Pains" are back to harassing Wendell, even though they really should know after "Hyde and Go Shriek" that it's a bad idea to piss him off.
  • All Men Are Perverts: With the female vampire in "The Sleeping Beauty" disposed of, Melvin comes upon the actual sleeping beauty. He acknowledges this could be yet another vampire, but he decides to chance it in return for a kiss. Luckily for him, her reflection is shown in his glasses, thus confirming she is human.
  • Amicable Ants: One episode titled "Nature" tells the story of two brothers named Rick and Teddy who are turned really small while on a picnic with their family. One scene has them assisted by a colony of ants which they had tormented earlier in the episode.
  • Animated Adaptation: An animated spin-off of Tales from the Crypt.
  • And I Must Scream: Done many, many times.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Crypt Keeper's segments in the episode "Pleasant Screams" has him eating food in an attempt to go to sleep. He mentions that he has tried disgusting delicacies such as screech cobbler and then suggesting something "really gross", which turns out to be carrots.
  • Art Evolution:
    • A drastic one happened during the channel hop. With the show's comic book aesthetic and realistic proportions giving way to a more cartoonish appearance with brighter colors.
    • Season two had a slight one by dropping one of the animation studios. While subtle, the animation became more bouncy and expressive with fewer instances of Off-Model compared to the previous season.
  • Artifact Title: Hyde and Go Shriek has a completely different plot from the original comic, which was about a con man and a girlfriend fleecing the latter's eccentric employer by pretending to create a potion to turn the employer into his idol: Edward Hyde himself, only for it to turn out that the potion actually worked. The episode instead is about the tables being turned on a trio of bullies when their victim takes a concoction and becomes a werewolf. There is a mouse named "Dr. Jekyll" in the episode, but other than that, the title has less meaning than it did originally.
  • Art Shift:
    • As noted above. The Season 3 intro actually features footage from all the seasons, so you can see how they differ.
    • Can also be seen as early as late in Season 1 with its switch to digital ink & paint.
    • The stories with Chuck and Melvin use an art style that is more simplistic, brighter, and angular than the grounded and realistic approach of the other stories during the first two seasons.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The episode "The Works...In Wax" features Mr. Boswick, the mean-spirited new owner of Rottmucker's Wax Museum, who had secretly been cheating William Williams out of owning the museum by hiding Mr. Rottmucker's will. He ends up trapped as part of a new wax display of Dracula, the wolfman, Frankenstein's monster chasing him, with no indication that he can escape.
    • "Gone Fishin" ends with Uncle Ned reeled in by a fish, like the ones he had caught and left on the beach to die, and trapped in a tuna fish can.
    • Mr. Klump from “All The Gory Details”
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The episode "The Weeping Woman" ends without the Crypt Keeper getting even with the Old Witch for trying to invade his show, instead having him burst into tears as he is forced to watch her perform in the opera.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The opening segment for "Fare Tonight" has the Cryptkeeper introduce the story with multiple wolf-related puns, heavily implying the story will be about a werewolf. The monster in the actual story quickly turns out to be a vampire instead, and the closing segment has the Cryptkeeper actually apologizing to the viewers for his mistake.
  • Bat Deduction: In "Hyde and Go Shriek", the two kids who gave Wendell the tea to get stronger immediately deduce the potion worked upon reading in a newspaper about a monster being spot. This is despite the fact the tea was intended to just make Wendell strong, not a werewolf-like creature.
  • Batman Gambit: The ending of "Hyde and Go Shriek" reveals Wendell actively harassed his bully as a monster in order to goad him into taking chemicals to even the score. After transforming for the first time, the bully is immediately captured—never to bother Wendell ever again.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • In "Gorilla's Paw," Louis steals the titular object from a shop for a group of kids he idolizes and makes wishes for their benefit. It's a Literal Genie—something the shop owner cryptically warned them about.
    • In "Hyde and Go Shriek", Rex was irritated by Wendell never reacting violently to his bullying and wanted to "wipe that smile off his face". He does succeeds in getting a reaction from him eventually... which backfires spectacularly.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Wendell in "Hyde and Go Shriek." He took a lot of abuse from Rex and his pals, but he saw it as just good fun and never took it personally. However, Rex causes Wendell to lose his pet mouse, Mr. Jekyll. Afterwards, Wendell vows to get revenge. He succeeds.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate/Big Bad Ensemble: The Vault Keeper and the Old Witch were both introduced in the second season as antagonists that tried to steal the spotlight from the Crypt Keeper. Both of them hated each other as much as they hated the Crypt Keeper, but they would occasionally work together.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: In "The Hunted", the hunter figures the "Ohnya" is in the same league as "Bigfoot, sasquatch, the abominable snowman, and therefore is just "baloney".
  • Broken Aesop: Ralph from "Drawn and Quartered" is punished by season 3 Crypt Keeper because he wants some measure of revenge against the bullies who harass him relentlessly and destroyed his art book. The Crypt Keeper, who does nothing but mettle out stories of jerks getting what's coming to them and this season orchestrating it personally. In fact, the moral of "Imaginary Friend" is that making bullies suffer a little is fine and deserved.
  • Book Ends:
    • In "All the Gory Details", Mr. Klump mentions the first rule of reporting, and says he's been a reporter for so long he hardly needs his brain anymore, to which the annoyed driver (who is already getting tired of his Straw Misogynist antics) says "Tell me about it." When we see him after his Karmic Transformation, he has a similar conversation about checkers, to which the annoyed creations reply "Tell me about it." The first and last town scenes Mr. Klump is himself in also take place in the hotel.
    • In the first episode of Season 2 ("Game Over"), the Old Witch turns the Crypt Keeper into a frog. In the last episode of the season ("Transylvania Express"), she tries to do it again, but he manages to deflect the blast and turn her into a frog instead.
    • "Gone Fishing" begins with Uncle Ned and his nephew Randy going fishing, with the former abusively telling the latter he reads too much, and the nephew at one point saying fish may have a world like people do. The episode ends with an Uncle fish and his Nephew fishing (for Uncle Ned), with the nephew even saying people may have a world just like the fish. As a lighter reprise, the Uncle fish is much more polite about telling his nephew he should control his imagination.
  • Bring It Back Alive: The hunter in "Hunted" doesn't kill animals... but sells them to the highest bidder, with absolutely no concern for their future welfare. Still makes him extremely unsympathetic. He even made a point of saying that he gets paid whether the animals are killed or not—implying he only hesitated this time because his native helpers were watching.
  • The Bully: A few flavors appeared throughout the show, some more Jerkass than others. "Hyde and Go Shriek" in particular was interesting about it, having a trio of bullies who were led by a Jerk Jock named Rex. Despite their regular target Wendell being absurdly forgiving about their "jokes", and the teachers also getting on their case about it, Rex was never satisfied until he actually got Wendell wound up - his two partners in crime were generally more lenient on Wendell, though they picked on him even without Rex around.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Crypt Keeper in the second season took quite a bit of abuse from the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper, often in and around his own house. While he was always able to squirm out of whatever means of incapacitating him they'd cooked up and pay them back in kind, sometimes they succeeded in getting off a stolen story first.
  • The Cameo: During the first season, the Crypt Keeper would often appear briefly during a story. Unlike in the third season, though, these were usually unimportant to the overall plot (one episode simply shows his face on a penny), but the end of "The Cat's Away" reveals that the boys had broken into his spooky house, and they encounter him returning from vacation as they're fleeing in terror.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The third season, where the crimes of the children being subjected to supernatural punishment range from stealing to being insecure about their looks or uninterested in reading.
  • Cash Lure: What does in a wasteful Jerkass fisherman who catches fish, and just dumps this on the beach to rot when an anthro fish and his son go "fishing" for him.
  • Catchphrase: In the third season, the Crypt Keeper would often end the episode by saying "Creep out of trouble, because I'll be watching."
  • Chess with Death: "Dead Men Don't Jump!" had high-school basketball player Nathan wanting to join the professional leagues being signed up to take on a challenger who can do just that IF he beats the challenger by his manager Marvin. His younger brother Erin knows something's wrong, and when he asks "But what if you lose?", he gets pointed to a bench by the "challenger" and the zombie bodies there slide over to make room for Nathan. When Nathan can't go on due to a leg injury, Erin substitutes for him, and wins, even with the challenger trying to cheat. As part of a Villainous Breakdown, the arena collapses on itself with Erin and Marvin barely making it out with Nathan in time.
  • Creepy Doll: The titular character in "Sharon Sharalike".
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Seen in the first season's intro. A kid is running through the Crypt Keeper's house, with many scary monsters emerging to run after him. It turns out the monsters just want to watch the show, even offering the kid some popcorn. Various episodes would also use this trope.
    • The GhoulLunatics themselves. Given the option to do serious, lasting harm to one another, they never do.
    • In "All the Gory Details", the late Dr. Cromwell and his creations count as this. His creations may be grotesque, but all they want is to be left in peace. If that's any indication, Dr. Cromwell wasn't so bad if all he wanted was to protect his creations.
    • Invoked in "The Works Wax", when Craig protects the wax monsters, who return him the favor.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The Cryptkeeper definitely has his moments, especially when the Old Witch and the Vaultkeeper are involved.
    • Melvin in both episodes he appears in. Having to put up with a brother like Chuck will do that.
      Chuck: I suppose we should… call out, or something. Announce our presence. What should we say?
      Melvin: How about, "come and get us"?
      (The door suddenly slams behind them, shrouding them in darkness)
      Chuck: (Screams Like a Little Girl)
      Melvin: Although, a bloodcurdling scream is just as good.
  • Death by Adaptation: The original "Sleeping Beauty" comic ended with the Beauty drinking the Prince's blood as a Cruel Twist Ending, with the implication she would keep doing this for all the princes to come. In the animated episode, Melvin manages to slay her.
  • Dirty Coward: Chuck constantly in both episodes he appears in. He always runs from trouble, even abandoning Melvin on a regular basis.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Sally and Mr. Klump's constant arguing and bad chemistry bear a passing resemblance to a couple in a bad marriage.
  • A Dog Ate My Homework:
    • The season two episode "The Brothers Gruff" has the protagonist mention that his teachers wouldn't believe his pet hamster Fred ate his homework.
    • An episode of the third season had a boy accuse monsters instead of a dog. Being an Animated Adaptation of Tales from the Crypt, that episode actually had monsters who ate homework. When two showed up at the boy's home, the boy said another monster showed up before and ate it. The monsters then took the boy to their home dimension to find the monster the boy described. When the boy eventually confessed he didn't do the homework, the monsters took the boy home and forced him to do his homework, present it to school, and ask the teacher to make two copies for the monsters to eat.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": In both episodes they appear in, Melvin's brother insists on being called "Charmant" instead of his actual name, Chuck.
  • Dream Within a Dream: "Pleasant Screams" sees a teacher and one of his students trapped in a world full of monsters. The two realize they have something in common: they've both been mean to a boy in the class and this nightmare is a way of getting back at them. After this realization, the boy wakes up in class—getting an earful from the teacher and snark from his classmate. It then looks like the nightmare is about to start all over again, but then the teacher wakes up in his bed—realizing he was dreaming the whole time and needs to be nicer to the boy.
  • Dug Too Deep: The premise behind "The Haunted Mine", where workers end up re-opening the titular mine and accidentally unleashing something dangerous. namely a bunch of vicious troglodyte critters who prey on humans.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Almost every story from Season 1 save for three are adapted from Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear, with Season 2 and onward using original stories (save for "Drawn and Quartered").
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Melvin may be the most notable example. He is repeatedly dragged into danger by his older brother Chuck, has to do all the heavy-lifting no matter how dangerous, and is repeatedly abandoned when things get tough. In both appearances, he wins in the end (getting the love of a princess and some gold, respectively), while Chuck gets hit with karma.
  • Enemy Mine: "Dead Men Don't Jump" sees the Vault Keeper and the Crypt Keeper calling a (very) temporary truce to team up against the Old Witch.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The Old Witch calls the Crypt Keeper "Cryptie." He's about as happy with it as you'd expect.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: In "So Very Attractive", even the girls can't help but stare at the now-beautiful Julia.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In "The Hunted", the Hunter sees all the empty cages of the animals he had previously captured and assumed the Beast stole them. Later, the Beast reveals that he didn't steal the animals, but rather, he freed them.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Buster the dog is the first one in "The Haunted Mine" to sense the underground monsters and begins barking wildly. This proves to be a problem later when Buster can't help but bark at the creatures when Dale and Slim are spying on them.
  • Exact Words: The wraparounds to "The Brothers Gruff" are the Crypt Keeper playing cards with his buddies. He says the one with the biggest hand wins and then produces a giant fist.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The Crypt Keeper keeps a massive werewolf named Fifi on a chain. She's strong enough to rip it from the ground and tear through a solid wooden door. Though she adores the Crypt Keeper, if the warm, rough, slobbery welcome she gives him is any indication.
  • Foot Focus: We get shots of Shauna's barefoot while in her pajamas in "Sharon Sharalike".
  • Foreshadowing: "The Sleeping Beauty" has a couple references to princes who disappeared during quests to the castle. After being faced with the queen vampire, Chuck encounters a group of male vampires all dressed like princes.
    • Also in the same episode, we hear a wicked cackling from inside the castle. Chuck and Melvin's guess that it's from the princess may seem like they're mistaking a demon for the princess. Turns out, unintentionally, they were right.
    • In "All The Gory Details", the townsfolk of the town where Dr. Cromwell did his experiments are completely unhelpful to both Sally and Mr. Klump when the duo looks for information about him. That’s because they’re also Dr. Cromwell’s creations and are actively trying to hide their existence from the world.
    • From the same episode, Mr. Klump talks about the rules of reporting and caps it off by saying it’s “like you hardly need your brain anymore”. By the end of the episode, he undergoes a Karmic Transformation that leaves him not needing his brain anymore.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • The fourth episode is the only one of Season 1 to use a Two Shorts format (respectively, "Gone Fishin'" and "A Little Body of Work"). Two episodes of Season 2 would later try it: "Cold Blood, Warm Hearts" and "The Spider and the Flies" form one episode note , and "The Avenging Phantom" and "Myth Conceptions" form another.
    • Season 2's "The Brothers Gruff" is the only one of the season where neither the Old Witch nor the Vault Keeper try to horn in.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The Chuck and Melvin episodes.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: "All the Gory Details" features several of them, all created by a Mad Scientist. They turn out to not actually be evil, and just wish to be left alone - though they can become dangerous if their security is threatened.
  • Freudian Excuse: Implied in "Grounds for Horror" with the hardass counselor. He says he never had time to be a kid—suggesting he didn't have a carefree childhood like his charges.
  • Friendly Enemy: While they want to steal the show from him by any means necessary, the Old Witch and Vault Keeper have no personal animosity towards the Crypt Keeper and are usually pretty affable towards him. Doesn't mean the Crypt Keeper isn't very annoyed by both of them. This may very well be a carryover from the comic series, where despite the GhoulLunatics' petty bickering, at the end of the day, they were all quite close.
  • From Bad to Worse: Ben and Mike spend the middle part of "Transylvania Express" trying to evade a persistent vampire. Then they stumble onto four more coffins, each with a hungry vampire inside.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Vault Keeper, who relies on gadgets and technology to get to his ends rather than the Crypt Keeper's wiles and the Old Witch's supernatural abilities.
  • Gainax Ending: "Game Over" takes it pretty far. The two kids who regularly skipped school to play video games find that they're video game characters, and they get killed. Two alien creatures are then shown playing the game and acting just like their counterparts did, just as a game monster approaches them from behind.
  • Genre Blindness: Lampshaded in "The Sleeping Beauty" before the brothers enter the castle. Melvin complains that Chuck wants to go inside—pointing out that this castle has a curse on it and a reputation for making princes disappear.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Crypt Keeper himself in Season Three. Instead of merely book ending the stories, like he did in the previous two seasons, he facilitated the events of nearly every single one of them, with the most overt example probably being "All Booked Up."
  • Green Aesop: A message against pollution is given in the season three episode "Waste Not, Haunt Not".
  • Guest Host: The Old Witch tells "Cold Blood, Warm Hearts", "Dead Men Don't Jump" and "Growing Pains." The Vault Keeper, meanwhile, gets "All the Gory Details" and "The Haunted Mine". Note that each case is against the Crypt Keeper's will.
  • Heel–Face Turn/Took a Level in Kindness: This happened to Jerkass characters on the show who didn't get Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Melba from "The Haunted Mine" doesn't care much for the big city, but the biggest reason she refuses Dale's efforts to move her into a nice apartment downtown is out of concern that the building doesn't allow pets. Her dog, Buster, is clearly over the hill, has gone blind in one eye, and is going deaf, but she refuses to part with her loyal and devoted companion. She also refuses to leave him behind in the mine, despite the danger they're all in.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Surprisingly, the show never got a Halloween Episode, but it did have two Birthday Episodes ("Cave Man" and "Uncle Harry's Horrible House of Horrors") and one Christmas Episode ("It's for You").
  • Horror Host: The Crypt Keeper, the Old Witch, and the Vault Keeper.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: The Old Witch and the Vault Keeper tried this on occasion in Season 2. They often succeeded, at least long enough to get off a single story.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: In "Hunted," a Jerkass hunter is poaching in South America and runs afoul of a supposedly mythical beast. Determined to catch this beast and make a profit, the hunter pursues it deeper and deeper into the jungle. Just when he thinks he has it, the beast springs its own trap to capture him instead. Turns out the beast was once a Jerkass hunter himself and had been cursed. Forced him to live in the wild, he learned to respect nature and its creatures. He regains his human form and passes the curse onto his captive to start the cycle over again.
    • Another has an obsessed fisherman whose morals his nephew constantly questions. At the end he finds a wallet on the ground and picks it up, only for the wallet to be connected to a hook, and he is dragged into the water where a Fish is reeling him in while the Fish's nephew questions his uncle's morals.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Whenever the Crypt Keeper goes up against the Old Witch or the Vault Keeper. Even more so when all three of them are in an episode.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight in most episodes, but averted in "The Weeping Woman".
  • Incoming Ham: The Old Witch would always announce her presence with a loud, "Guess who?!"
  • Ignored Expert: The train conductor in "Transylvania Express" warned Ben and Mike to wait for the morning train instead of take the night one. He did so because he knew a vampire attack was likely, but he didn't think they'd believe that part.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Played for Laughs in "Drawn and Quartered", when Ralph finds the magic mechanical pencil the Cryptkeeper left behind.
    Ralph: Um, excuse me, Mister? Does this belong to you?
    Cryptkeeper: (reading a newspaper) No, Ralph. It's all yours.
    Ralph: (smiles, then realizes what he just said) Hey, how do you know my name?
    Cryptkeeper: That's simple. (peeks through a hole in the newspaper) I know everything.
    Ralph: (gulps nervously)
    Cryptkeeper: …And it's written on your pad. (laughs)
  • In Name Only:
    • Season three's adaptation of the comic book story "Drawn and Quartered", which took the original story about a vengeful artist using voodoo so that whatever he painted in his pictures happened to the critics who cheated him and made it about a young boy who loved to draw being given a magic pencil by the Crypt Keeper and using it to get even with the two boys who bully him through his drawings.
    • Both the comic and cartoon versions of "The Works... In Wax!" involve a wax museum and the contents are more realistic than anticipated. Otherwise, the stories are vastly different: the former being about the proprietor's wife changing the murderer displays and the husband finding he should have left well-enough alone, while the latter is about a boy who idolizes the museum's wax monsters and tries to stop a corrupt businessman from claiming the property after the original owner dies.
    • "Grounds for Horror" keeps the idea of a kid being defended by a Not-So-Imaginary Friend, but the original comic involved an outright abusive stepfather instead of a hardass camp counselor who learns how to enjoy himself.
    • "Hyde and Go Shriek" is a prime example, as the only thing shared between it and the comic its based on is a transformation brought on by a potion. But while the episode centers around a bullied kid getting revenge, the comic revolves around a scientist who recreated Jekyll's famous potion, only to find there's more truth to the story than he believed (though given how the comic ends, this is justified).
  • Insistent Terminology: Chuck and Melvin are twins, but as Chuck angrily reminds him more than once, "Not identical!"
  • Ironic Hell: Chuck is horrified at the end of "The Sleeping Beauty" to be turned into a vampire—not because it makes him a monster, but because he can no longer see his reflection.
  • Jerkass: There is a fair number of them. You can expect one to appear in just about every episode.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk:
    • Basically every time Chuck appears to actually be nice to Melvin, it will turn out to be this trope. Most notably, "Sleeping Beauty" has him seemingly trying to save him from the vampire, when he was actually going back to get his mirror, and "Chuck (and Melvin) and the Beanstalker" has him notice Melvin look terrible after their trip through the forest, to then clarify he felt he look dirty.
    • Mr Klump saves Sally in "All the Gory Details"... because she was the one with the camera.
  • Karmic Death: "Town Gathering" implies this. Ben was fully prepared to let aliens devour an entire town's worth of people. He lets it slip that he would continue to enrich himself by selling out the aliens to government agents, which causes the aliens to flee for their own safety. However, they catch up to Ben on a back road and "invite" him on a little trip. The lead alien claims Ben's punishment hasn't been chosen, but he and his fellows are all drooling like they were when poised to eat townspeople.
  • Karmic Transformation:
    • Happens to the Jerkass Straw Misogynist reporter Mr Klump in "All the Gory Details". When his female partner leaves him behind, he tries to expose Dr. Kromwell's creations to the public on his own, only to end up becoming one of them.
    • Chuck at the end of "Sleeping Beauty" abandons Melvin to the vampires, only to become a vampire himself. He gets better by the time of "Chuck (and Melvin) and the Beanstalker", though.
    • Another example was about a teen nerd who was being constantly harassed by a psychotic bully, until he finds a salve that temporarily turns him into a werewolf and fights back. The bully after finding out exactly what's going on tries the salve on himself to fight the nerd on equal terms only to be immediately spotted by civilians and tranquilized by the police then have his face all over the news as a "Monster Boy" then is implied to be taken to a government lab for extreme testing, while the nerd continues a happy life with no-one ever finding out he was involved.
    • The ending of "Hunted" is another one. The hunter is captured by the beast he pursued, who turns out to have been just like him years ago. He was cursed and had to learn to respect nature. He knew that he could pass the curse on to someone else and that only villainous hunters would go this deep into the jungle.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After the events of "Fare Tonight" (where she nearly got killed by a vampire), Mildred spends "The Weeping Woman" saying she's given up chasing supernatural beings and is focusing on a much safer hobby: collecting teddy bears.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Usually happened to mean or very greedy characters, with special mentions being the car thieves in "A Little Body of Work" being scared by a living car into confessing to their crimes, and Mr. Bowswick at the end of "The Works...In Wax".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "While the Cat's Away" was the first episode. After enduring numerous scares, the kids find a treasure chest that contains Tales from the Crypt #1.
  • Leitmotif: The traditional Tales from the Crypt theme, the Funeral March, and a soft, ominous tune unique to this series were all associated with the Crypt Keeper.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the original live action series, which was very adult. While the show obviously had to be toned down for its target audience, the third season definitely took this a step further.
  • The Load: Chuck spends his two appearances constantly relying on Melvin for help, getting him into danger, making things worse for him, and abandoning him to save himself.
    Melvin: I think I hate you, Chuck.
  • Loophole Abuse: In "Gorilla's Pawn", the Pawn can be used to grant wishes in a Literal Genie way. As it turns out, it cannot be used to cancel a wish previously made. It can, however cancel you gaining the Pawn in the first place, thus retconning all your wishes into never happening in the first place.
  • The Man Behind the Man: "Hyde and Go Shriek" strongly implies that the Crypt Keeper ended up being this for Wendell. One of Rex's pals sells Wendell the box of monster chemicals—saying it was just there when his father bought the store. Viewers can briefly see the Crypt Keeper's face on the box, as the kid's getting it.
  • Manchild: "Grounds for Horror" ends with the hardass counselor learning to have fun with the kids.
    "He's a living, breathing example of that old saying, 'A great man is he who has not lost the heart of a child.'"
  • Meaningful Name: Rose from "Growing Pains" is an evolved plant.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: The Old Witch. She doesn't even have to look in a mirror; her just being near one causes it to break. On a few occasions, she's also literally caused the fourth wall to crack.
  • Misery Builds Character: The obnoxious counselor in "Grounds for Horror" rides his charges hard in order to make men out of them.
  • Morphic Resonance: When Wendell changes into a werewolf he still has his blonde hair and slim build and when Rex changes he is muscular with brown fur.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The first episode, "While the Cat's Away", has the two boys who broke into the Crypt Keeper's house find a Tales from the Crypt comic book while trying to find something valuable. Fittingly enough, said episode was one of the few Tales from the Crypt Keeper episodes to be an adaptation of a story from the original Tales from the Crypt comic book.
    • The intro to "Transylvania Express" is the Crypt Keeper looking for some new digs. He approaches someone to say this isn't his usual "haunt" and then finds he's talking to the Old Witch—a subtle nod to The Haunt of Fear, which was hosted by her.
    • The Season 2 intro involves the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper trying to steal the Crypt Keeper's book. When it goes flying, the pages are shown to be comics. For Laser-Guided Karma, the two end up in the pages themselves, and the book gets closed by a laughing Crypt Keeper.
  • Never My Fault: Whenever something went wrong during their journeys, Chuck would always blame his brother Melvin.
  • Never Say "Die": Played with. Some episodes would directly mention death and some would simply imply it. The Lighter and Softer third season, oddly enough, subverted this trope in the episode "Monsters Ate My Homework" when the monsters subtly threatened to eat the boy if he didn't give them homework to eat and explicitly mentioned the monster the boy blamed for eating his homework as having recently passed on.
  • No Antagonist: Played straight for the Crypt Keeper segments of the first season and one episode of the second season as well as the entire third season. Mostly averted with the rest of season two's Crypt Keeper segments and the stories themselves.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In "Hyde and go Shriek", Wendell convinces the coach not to punish Rex for bullying him, saying "the guys were just having a little fun is all". In turn, Wendell's forgiveness is rewarded. ...with Rex spitefully aiming to get under Wendell's skin "once and for all". Indeed, he lets Wendell's pet rat loose in the school vents. Thankfully, Wendell gets back at his bully in the only way the Cryptkeeper knows how.
  • No Sympathy: "Town Gathering" ends with Ben about to be abducted by the very aliens he was going to feed others to. As Ben begs for help, the camera pans over to reveal the Crypt Keeper observing the whole thing. Cryptie is decidedly unsympathetic, outright making light of the result of Ben's own actions.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Most of the time, the Crypt Keeper has no trouble outsmarting the Old Witch and Vault Keeper to maintain control of the show. However, a few episodes each have them get the better of him and be the host long enough to tell a given story.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Due to Standards & Practices giving them a draconian list of things they could not show on television, (being a kid's show, gore was a given, but the list also had vague generalizations like "Eyeballs floating in a pink ooze" and "Nothing overly terrifying"), so the writers were forced to use this trope to great effect. "Grounds for Horror" offers a good example, as the featured monster remains largely invisible. When it shows the characters its true form, the audience only sees a shadow.
  • Once per Episode: The Old Witch would give herself a dramatic introduction, blow a kiss that shatters glass (or the television screen), and tell at least one lame joke in almost all of her appearances.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The first episode, "While the Cat's Away", subtly reveals that the Crypt Keeper's real name — or at least his alias for interacting with the world — is T. Charles Kingman.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In "The Works Wax", William is a playful, fun-loving janitor. When Craig wonders why Mr. Rottmucker's museum has changed, William becomes very somber, telling the audience that something terrible happened to Mr. Rottmucker as of late.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: "Sharon Sharalike"
  • Our Trolls Are Different: "The Brothers Gruff" features a troll of the "hiding under bridge" variety as the antagonist. He is portrayed as a stout, muscular humanoid who follows home people who cross his bridge to then play gradually more mischievous pranks on them, before stealing something important from them. It's possible to keep him away by various practices such as bathing in vinegar or wearing bright colors, and he is absolutely terrified by giant ogres.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero:
    • Though not exactly a hero, Shauna in "Sharon Sharalike" spends most of the episode in her pajamas while she tries to get away from the Creepy Doll.
    • Julia in the second half of "So Very Attractive", where she runs out of the house in her pajamas.
  • Papa Wolf: In "The Works... in Wax", William is usually as mild-mannered and kind as they come. And normally, he's very scared and timid around his new boss Mr. Boswick. But when Mr. Boswick manhandles Craig for simply speaking out, William quickly turns aggressive and stands up for the boy.
  • Parental Bonus: In "Fare Tonight," Camille and Mildred are running from the vampire, who rips out a factory's staircase and throws it at them. They just miss getting crushed because of some missing steps they broke off earlier. Relieved, they exclaim, "Cool! Buster Keaton!"—a reference to the famous stunt from Steamboat Bill, Jr..
  • Phlebotinum Overdose: Implied in "Hyde and go shriek", Wendel drinks only one dose of the tea and seem to have some control over his action while Rex drinks multiple and in addition to going berserk, he is also more monstrous in appearance such as digitigrade legs and red eyes.
  • Plant Person: Rose and her family turn out to be this in "Growing Pains".
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • "While the Cat's Away" kept the basic plot of the original comic story (which was about two thieving travel agents breaking into a spooky mansion to claim possible treasure and encountering horrific sights); it just softened the more adult details, replaced the adults with kids, and shortened how long the characters were trapped in the house. The Twist Ending (it being the Crypt Keeper's house all along) was left intact.
    • "The Sleeping Beauty" is pretty much the same (including the vampire twist), but it adds in a non-identical twin brother for the prince so that most of the episode isn't just one character alone in the woods and castle.
    • Similarly, "Pleasant Screams" is mostly the same, but it adds in a second character (a teenage student) so that Mr. Purdy has someone to interact with. It also tones down the violence for obvious reasons. Unlike the above two examples, though, the twist was tweaked. In the original story, Purdy's suffering was just the fantasy of a student in his class that he regularly yelled at. The episode changes it to a Dream Within a Dream in order for Purdy to learn a lesson about his antagonistic behavior.
    • "The Works...In Wax!" had a young boy find out the wax museum's statues secret they came alive and the villain was a scheming businessman wanting to take over the museum. Instead of the wife of the wax museum's owner being strangled and the statues coming to life to turn HIM into a candle for her tableau, the statues chased the businessman then turned HIM into a wax statue himself for one of the museum's exhibits.
    • "Gone...Fishing" is a fairly faithful adaptation, what with one character going too far with their fishing and the other being disgusted by their actions. The only main differences are that the characters are changed from two adult friends to a boy and his uncle and the fate of the fisherman (in the comic, he was dragged out to sea towards an unknown fate, while in the episode he was canned).
  • Prince Charmless: Chuck in "The Sleeping Beauty". He even insists on being called "Prince Charmant".
  • Properly Paranoid: The bully's pals in "Hyde and Go Shriek" suspect Wendell planned for exactly how things worked out, but they really don't want to push it.
  • Pungeon Master: Would you expect any less from the Crypt Keeper and his fellow EC hosts?
  • Real After All: In "Hyde and Go Shriek," Rex's pals see Wendell trying to bulk up for a fight with him. One of them claims that Wendell can make a formula that'll give him muscles, so he sells him the box. They don't believe it'll actually work, but when stories of a monster start up, they realize it's true and try to warn Rex.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The little girl in "Myth Conceptions" was really an alternate form Medusa took. However, this version of Medusa was really stopping robbers from raiding Medusa's tomb, and Perseus here was not the hero most pictured him as.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "Gone Fishing", Randy gives this speech to his Uncle Ned one morning. He doesn't listen, but at least Randy voices what he thinks of his Uncle's "fishing".
    Uncle Ned: I said I was gonna teach you how to fish, and I meant it.
    Randy: What do you know about fishing? You're not a fisherman, you're a bully!!
  • Retool: Season 1 was pretty faithful to the format of the live-action series - a story bookended by Crypt Keeper segments taking place in his old house. For Season 2, EC Comics' other horror hosts (the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper) were added as antagonists - each bent on stealing the show. This prompted the Crypt Keeper to leave his house and "take the show on the road," with his segments taking place in different locales and him being pestered by the competition. Season 3 dropped the Old Witch and the Vault Keeper and instead had the Crypt Keeper a part of the stories (usually setting them in motion). And while the preceding two seasons contained aesops, Season 3 was arguably more Anvilicious (with one plot revolving around teaching a boy the importance of reading).
  • Sadly Mythtaken: "Myth Conceptions" changes the story of Medusa, but it acknowledges doing so. The archaeologist discusses the story with a little girl, saying he actually believes Perseus failed to defeat Medusa. He ends up being right, but that's not the whole story. Medusa heroically defended her temple lair from those like Perseus, who was trying to rob the treasures within. It also turns out the little girl was Medusa—meaning she can shapeshift.
  • Same Character, But Different: Season 3 Crypt Keeper. He goes from a character who doesn't particularly care what anyone does to one whose sole motivation is correcting children's behavior, by any means necessary. For some reason, he can also disappear into thin air.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Deconstructed with Mr. Klump in "All the gory Details", to the point where he just can't take a hint at how annoying he is.
    Mr.Klump: If I knew you were going to drop [the luggage], I wouldn't have let you carry it!
    Mr.Klump: You can say that again.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: The entire gist of season 3, which sees the Crypt Keeper staging elaborate scenarios to teach misbehaving children a lesson.
  • Sentient Vehicle: Kevin's car in "A Little Body Of Work" is one. The ending also implies that he was able to transfer its mind into another car after it got wrecked.
  • Sequel Episode: Several characters from Season 1 would return for Season 2, often acknowledging their prior adventures:
    • Camille and Mildred from "Fare Tonight" appear in "The Weeping Woman".
    • Chuck and Melvin from "The Sleeping Beauty" appear in, well, "Chuck (and Melvin) and the Beanstalker".
    • Wendell and two bullies from "Hyde and Go Shriek" appear in "Growing Pains".
    • Ben and Mike from "Ghost Ship" appear in "Transylvania Express".
  • Ship Tease: Subverted. You may Ship Tease all you want, but Sally and Mr. Klump do not overcome their differences and fall for each other. (Given the latter's selfishness, it was never going to happen).
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Fare Tonight," Camille peddles a bike and Mildred rides in the basket, as they try to get over a movable bridge in the process of rising. While in midair, we see them and their bike passing right by a full moon.
    • The end segment of "Growing Pains" sees a tornado dropping a house on the Old Witch. She ends up chasing the Crypt Keeper and a dog down a yellow brick road towards an emerald castle, vowing, "I'll get you my Cryptie, And Your Little Dog, Too!!" For bonus points, one of John Kassir's favorite tricks is his ability to do "the Wizard of Oz in two and a half minutes," and he actually based the Crypt Keeper's cackle on Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: Chuck and Melvin. Chuck justifies bossing him around by being the older brother. Melvin always points out Chuck is only ten seconds older.
    "Ten seconds... ten lousy seconds."
  • Signing-Off Catchphrase:
    • About half of the Season 2 episodes would end with the Crypt Keeper saying, "So, until next time..." (with "shriek" and "slime" occasionally used instead).
    • In Season 3, the Crypt Keeper would close out with a reminder to the audience to stay out of trouble because, as he says, "I'll be watching."
  • Skewed Priorities: When Chuck finds out he and his horse have become vampires in "Sleeping Beauty"'s Karmic Twist Ending, he is devastated because this means he no longer can look himself into the mirror to see how handsome he is
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Enoch and Myrna, who in the live-action series died when the Crypt Keeper was just a baby. While they don't make an actual appearance here, they do send him a birthday card.
    • Played with in "Sleeping Beauty"; the original comic made it rather clear all the princes before the protagonist who went after the Beauty died (first believed to have been killed by the wall of thorns but later revealed to have ended up as the Beauty's meal), a fate the protagonist eventually shares. In this adaptation, they did technically die, but were brought back as vampires, and Chuck does end up with a similar fate, but has been restored to human offscreen by the time of the sequel episode.
  • Spin-Off: An animated spin-off of Tales from the Crypt.
  • Spoonerism: In "Sharon Sharalike," Katie says her father is in a place called "Yew Nork." It's unclear if there is an actual city called Yew Nork in this setting, or if Katie, being a little girl, just stumbled over her words.
  • Stock Footage: There's surprisingly little of it, each of the stories generally having its own setting, although when it's used it generally gives a sense of the stories taking place in the same relative area.
  • Surfer Dude: Ben and Mike are, like, totally righteous examples of this trope, dude.
  • Taken for Granite:
    • "The Works...In Wax!" has a crooked businessman wanting to take over a wax museum being chased by some of the monster statues in the museum...and becoming part of the exhibits as a wax statue himself.
    • "Myth Conceptions" is a more literal fate as the archaeologist is petrified by Medusa, who CAN'T be affected by her reflection—and in a flip on the myth, was trying to keep robbers like the archaeologist and the "legendary Perseus" from stealing the tomb's artifacts.
  • Tempting Fate: At the beginning of "The Wailing Woman", Mildred mentions she picked collecting teddy bears as a new hobby because, unlike meeting monsters, this was completely harmless and wouldn't cause trouble. The teddy bear she collects later in the junk store turns out to have belonged to the titular ghost's daughter, making it her Berserk Button- meaning the entire reason she becomes dangerous to them was because of Mildred's new hobby. Ironically this was after she chided Mildred for still liking spooky stuff.
  • Title Drop: The Crypt Keeper gives one at the end of the season three episode "Waste Not, Haunt Not".
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Camille and Mildred respectively.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Chet and Louis were never the nicest guys, being Rex's underlings in "Hyde and Go Shriek" and selling Wendell the tea thinking it'd never even work. Still, they were generally civil to Wendell, and it was implied that they were afraid of Rex lashing out at them. "Growing Pains" sees them lose their sympathetic traits, as they actively bully Wendell and Rose for the fun of it.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The town in "All the Gory Details" is implied to be willingly hiding Dr Kromwell's creations in the mansion atop of it. It turns out all the town is inhabited by Kromwell's creations; the ones in the mansion just happen to be the more grotesque ones.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Ben is this to Mike. Ben is genuinely friendly and well-meaning, but he has a habit of talking his pal into questionable actions that have gotten them mixed up with undead pirates and vampires.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: In "Ghost Ship", Ben and Mike, after escaping the skeleton pirate crew of the titular ship, meet with the seemingly friendly ghost captain who asks for their help in finding a treasure. It eventually turns out there is no treasure- the whole thing merely was a way for him to lure them into signing up to join his crew, which is how he recruited all the skeletons on his ship.
  • Twist Ending: A few episodes had these, usually of the Karmic variety.
  • Unexplained Recovery: "The Sleeping Beauty" ended with Chuck being turned into a vampire. He's back to normal in the Sequel Episode, with Melvin casually mentioning the prior episode as their last trip into the dark forest.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the third season, the Crypt Keeper would usually interact with various characters. No one finds the decaying green guy without a nose to be particularly unusual. "So Very Attractive" provides the rather amusing exception.
    Julia: I just wasn't expecting someone selling beauty products to look so, uh...
    Crypt Keeper, knowingly: Well aged?
    (long, long beat)
    Julia: Yes, uh... something like that.
  • Viewers Are Morons: In the third season, the Crypt Keeper would sometimes step in to instruct viewers to "pay close attention" to whatever misdeed was being committed.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The Old Witch wasn't trying to upstage the Crypt Keeper in "Uncle Harry's Horrible House of Horrors"; she was just teaching a class at his gym. She wasn't pleased about him trying to skip out on her class, though.
  • Walking the Earth:
    • Season 2 largely leaves the Crypt Keeper's house, as he's trying to get away from the Old Witch and Vault Keeper and tell his stories in peace. He's seen at various locales (the beach, an old west town, the gym, etc.). Unsurprisingly, one or both of his foes keep finding him and trying to horn in.
    • Though the Old Witch and Vault Keeper do not appear in Season 3, the Crypt Keeper keeps this trope up. He instigates various stories in order to correct behavior of children he encounters.
  • Wham Shot:
    • "Sleeping Beauty": As Chuck is about to kiss the sleeping woman, he tells Melvin to look away. Melvin does so, but he decides to peek with a hand-held mirror. He sees the woman has a Missing Reflection.
      Melvin: Uh-oh.
    • "Fare Tonight": The girls arrive at the location of the vampire's coffin and witness a scuffle between a shadowy individual and their friend, Eugene. Just as the girls reveal their presence, Eugene bears fangs and Red Eyes, Take Warning, meaning he was the vampire all along.
  • What You Are in the Dark: In "All the Gory Details", Sally has one such moment. When she and Mr. Klump are faced with Dr. Cromwell's creations, she promises them that if they allow the duo to leave, they'll hand over the photographic evidence of the creatures' existence and won't publish the story. Later when they're outside, Klump believes Sally made that promise as a ruse to help them escape and schemes that instead of photographic evidence, they can back each other up once they return to the city. However, Sally tells him "I meant what I said, I'm not publishing that story". Mr. Klump still is determined to tell the world, however, and things go poorly for him.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: It's subtler than most examples of the trope, but the premise of "Unpopular Mechanics" (electrical appliances come to life to take revenge on a kid who mistreats them) seems to have been inspired by the Twilight Zone episode "A Thing About Machines".
  • With Friends Like These...: Louis spends most of "Gorilla's Paw" idolizing three kids and doing anything they ask in order to be let in their club. It's clear they have little regard for him, but despite their talk of "friends defending friends," they're quick to turn on each other when things get tough. When everything's resolved, Louis says he's too good for them and walks out.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The three GhoulLunatics swat each other around with gleeful impunity; the Old Witch doesn't get a pass on this.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In "The Sleeping Beauty", for all his awareness of the tropes of a "romantic quest", Chuck apparently forgets that the Youngest Child Wins in fairy tales (even if he's only ten seconds younger). Also, he actively thinks he's in a standard fairy tale story and tries to partake in those tropes, but he's actually in a horror story with fairy tale elements.
  • You Don't Look Like You: A double example. The animated Crypt Keeper in the first two seasons doesn't bear any resemblance to his live-action counterpart, who in turn bore no resemblance to his comic book counterpart, aside from being a skeletal zombie, while his appearance in the third season is drastically changed, but more closely resembles his appearance in the live-action series (sans the head of lush, flowing blonde hair. It also bears mentioning that the live-action Crypt Keeper, when his hair actually had color, was a brunette).


Video Example(s):


TftCk [Girls Scare Jerk]

Tales from the Cryptkeeper - Ep 09 [Fare Tonight]: At the beginning of the story, we meet our leads, Camille and Mildred, who are watching a old vampire movie at a theater. A smarmy theater goer suggest the girls go watch a romance movie to which they decide to get even by showing him their (fake) vampire fangs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / IntimacyViaHorror

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