Follow TV Tropes

Following

YMMV / Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Go To

The TV Show

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Interestingly, some interpretations are even discussed by the Midnight Society at the end of some episodes.
    • Was Zeebo from "The Tale of the Laughing in the Dark" really a ghost, or just the carny pulling a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax on Josh?
    • Peter from "The Tale of the Captured Souls". The show mostly uses Colorblind Casting, but in this case, we happened to end up with material that lends itself heavily to Values Dissonance. Peter, a white boy born in 1907, was targeting a black family. He was also quite drawn to their daughter, possibly because of racist views of black women as "easy." It's not hard to see him as a massive racist.
    • Advertisement:
    • Dr. Vink is most frequently cast as a villain, but rarely goes out of his way to harm people. It's possible he simply has severe Blue-and-Orange Morality, seeing little difference between sending a child to defeat an undead pirate and sending a vampire to torment someone who wronged him.
    • Is Ethan from "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner" rejected by the comic companies because his art just isn't good enough or because he is a teenager who legally cannot work for them?
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The giant talking doll from "The Tale of the Dark Music", though it still qualifies as one of the scariest moments from within the show itself.
  • Complete Monster: Even in this Nightmare Fuel-filled series, these villains stand out:
    • "The Tale of the Captured Souls": Peter Kirlian III lives alone in a small inn. Keeping his youth and life after a century via the lives of others, Peter lures innocent people to his inn and uses mirrors to drain their lifeforce, keeping them listless and weak until they "check out" and he buries their bodies behind the inn, with a recorded body count of over twenty men, fifteen women, over thirty children, and ten dogs.
    • Advertisement:
    • "The Tale of the Whispering Walls": Master Raymond is the creepy, eccentric owner of the Whisper Inn, a little hovel in the middle of nowhere that Raymond lures travelers off the highway to. Every leap year on the night of February 29th, Raymond convinces his victims to visit his seemingly-abandoned mansion for help, where he steals their souls and keeps them in the walls of his mansion to leech off their life force evermore. Raymond is also a vile, spiteful sadist who tries to add Claire Dickens, the young sister of protagonist Andrew, to his collection, not content with having already brainwashed their babysitter.
    • "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure" two-parter: Jonas Cutter was a former galley slave who led a mutiny and became a pirate captain. Adopting the surname "Cutter" for his love of murder, Cutter spilled oceans of blood to gather a treasure of his own, becoming infamous for the sheer number of murders he committed. Murdering the good-hearted pirate Ian Keegan when Ian tried to avenge the dead, Cutter eventually perished while his ghost hungered for a final battle. Kidnapping Max Keegan to lure his brother Rush into a final duel, Cutter wastes no time trying to murder both children to satisfy his insatiable thirst for blood.
    • Advertisement:
    • "The Tale of the Closet Keepers": The Keeper is an alien administrator of an intergalactic zoo, whose only apparent motives are greed and sadism. To show off "biodiversity" in his zoo, he takes to having children abducted from all over the world and keeps them in line through torture. He does this using a device that will emit a sound that paralyzes its victim with agony and drives them insane, which he demonstrates on one of his henchmen. When he abducts Stacey and her friend Billy, he states that he kills children he finds deficient or clever, as he plans to do when he learns Stacey is deaf. When Stacey leads an escape and topples his operations, the Keeper takes Billy at gunpoint mockingly stating that she wouldn't dare hurt her friend when she threatens to use his torture device against him.
    • "The Tale of the Night Shift": "Margot" is a teenage girl who gets a job as a nurse at a hospital working on the night shift. We find out that "Margot" is actually a sadistic, ancient vampire who spends his time feeding on the hospital's staff and patients, one of whom is a young boy in a wheelchair, and attempting to turn them into his vampire slaves. When confronted by the episode's protagonist Amanda and her friend Colin, the vampire compares a hospital to a candy shop for him. When Amanda's recently turned friend Felix tries to help Amanda, the vampire attacks him too. During the climax of the episode, the vampire chases Amanda to the roof of the hospital and lifts her up, planning to drop her off and lick up what's left, all while relishing Amanda's screams, before deciding the old-fashioned way is a better way to kill.
  • Designated Villain: Strictly speaking, the antagonists of "The Tale of the Super Specs" and the protagonists are trying to do exactly the same thing in order to save their skins.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Betty Ann's stories tend to be the favourites among fans. "Laughing In The Dark", "The Dollmaker", "Thirteenth Floor", "Ghastly Grinner" and "Chameleons" are all her stories.
    • Kristen is also quite popular for someone who only told five stories, largely from many viewers who crushed on Rachel Blanchard at the time.
    • Dr. Vink and Sardo. Both were originally meant as one-shot characters, but the directors were so fond of the actors' performances that they became recurring characters. Fans tend to love them as well.
    • DJ Roy from "The Tale of Station 109.1" for both being hilarious and terrifying as the manager of the Celestial Bureaucracy. Helps that he's played by Gilbert Godfried.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The final, Retooled season for many, though "The Tale of the Silver Sight" (the three-part episode where The Midnight Society reunites to find the original members from back in the 1930s to fight back against an evil force bent on world domination) is one of the few revival episodes that was good and, if the fans had their way, would make an epic Grand Finale (the actual series finale is either "The Tale of Badge"note , if you don't want to acknowledge the revival episodes, or "The Tale of the Night Nurse"note  if you do want to acknowledge the revived episodes).
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: In "Curse of the Shadows", the general consensus is that Luke/Connor had way more chemistry than the canon Luke/Hanna.
  • Fashion Dissonance: Vicky in "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror" goes wild over a hat that's part of the new line of fashions for a beauty shop. The hat looks incredibly dated now and Vicky's delight over it comes across as Narm.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Why are the eponymous creatures in "The Tale of the Chameleons" called "chameleons" when they're actually iguanas? Because they're chameleons in the sense that they blend in effortlessly when they transform into humans (and their blending in with humans is what led to the Downer Ending where the protagonist's best friend doused her instead of her chameleon twin).
  • Fridge Horror: See here.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In "The Lonely Ghost" one of Beth's friends theorizes that the reason a ghost couldn't talk because she was deaf. Three years later, the actress reappeared as the deaf character Stacey in "The Tale of The Closet Keepers"note .
    • Melissa Joan Hart guest stars in "The Tale of the Frozen Ghost". When she arrives at the aunts' house she says an interestingly worded line "they're your relatives, not a pair of wicked old witches. Well, I hope not" - this was six years before she would play Sabrina Spellman, a teenage girl who went to live with her aunts who were witches.
    • In "Tales of the Sorcerer's Apprentice", there's an archaeologist known as "Dr. Oliver" who teaches lessons at a public school. Years later, we get a paleontologist who teaches classes at a school who goes by the name of Dr. Tommy Oliver.
    • In "The Tale of the Laughing in the Dark", one of the main characters is named...Weegee. No, really.
  • Hollywood Homely: The Stalker in "The Tale of the Last Dance", who is supposed to be a stand in for The Phantom of the Opera or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who possesses deformed hands and is afraid to show his "hideous" face to the pretty young Ingenue, he finally obliges when she swears she won't be afraid. Cue Tara's Dull Surprise, when the Stalker removes his hood, but one can't really blame her. Turns out under that hood is a dirty unwashed mound of long hair, but actually a really handsome face.
  • Ho Yay: Connor and Luke in Curse of the Shadow
  • Idiot Plot: In "The Tale of the Renegade Virus", right before Poe is about to turn on the virtual reality machine the computer warns him there is a virus, complete with a skull and alarm noises. Despite this, he just says "there's no need for that" and turns it on anyway.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The three trailfinders in "The Tale of Watcher's Woods". They were originally just normal teenage girls who, in 1919, got lost in Watcher's Woods. For the horrible crime of daring to enter his woods. the Watcher imprisons them in the woods forever, with the only way they can escape being retrieving their whistles (which they left back and camp, meaning they can never escape). After spending decades trapped in there they have turned into evil old hags who immediately blame the protagonists for stealing their whistles and plan to do horrible things to them. thankfully, Sarah manages to get the whistles back, at which point the protagonists are able to escape. They then see an old fashioned car carrying the three girls (now teenagers again) who wave goodbye as the car presumably takes them off to heaven or whatever.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Dr. Vink is mysterious reoccurring character and a man of many talents and questionable morality. Manipulating countless individuals who cannot guess his riddle to their deaths for his experiments, Vink returns in another tale to save an ailing movie theater only to unleash a vampire from one of his movies when the theater owner reneges on their bargain. As a restaurateur, Vink lures his employees into the clutches of a dark gargoyle to extract their fear for his signature "dangerous soup," always eluding justice and coming out on top. As the mentor to the young Rush Keegan, Vink manipulates the situation to set him against the evil pirate ghost Jonas Cutter to ensure Cutter's victims receive their justice.
  • More Popular Replacement: Sam showed up in Season 3 replacing Kristen, and is probably more remembered.
  • Narm: Here. And we love it for it.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • "The Tale of the Dream Girl" was actually M. Night Shyamalan's inspiration for The Sixth Sense, a film that saw widespread acclaim on release— for its originality.
    • "The Tale of the Quiet Librarian" inspired a Buffy episode called "Hush".
    • The Twilight Zone episode "A Most Unusual Camera" was the basis for both "The Tale of the Curious Camera" and Goosebumps' Say Cheese and Die! (including the sequel).
    • The Twisted Claw episode was inspired by a story called "The Monkey's Paw".
  • Replacement Scrappy: Stig in Season 5 replaced original Midnight Society member Frank.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Rachel Blanchard, who played Kristen, was later better known for roles in 7th Heaven and the Clueless TV series.
    • Ditto for Elisha Cuthbert, who coincidentally played the same type of character, Megan, in the Retool.
    • For one-episode characters, Jewel Staite appeared in two different stories years before her best-remembered role.
    • Neve Campbell was the protagonist in "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup", just half a year before her big break on Party of Five.
    • A somewhat odd example - Ross Hull went on to later be an anchor on The Weather Network in Canada.
    • Mia Kirshner played the protagonist in "The Tale of the Hungry Hounds."
    • Jay Baruchel, who portrays the protagonist in "The Tale of the Zombie Dice", would later become more popular for voicing Hiccup.
    • Power Rangers fans who've seen the episode "The Tale of the Night Shift" should easily be able to recognize Felix, as he's played by Jorgito Vargas, Jr., who would later go on to be well-known and remembered for his portrayal as Blake Bradley/the Navy Thunder Ranger in Power Rangers Ninja Storm.
    • Much like Jewel Staite, who is already mentioned above, Laura Bertram had also appeared in two different stories as one-episode characters, years before being well-known and remembered for her portrayal as Trance Gemini in Andromeda.
    • Hayden Christensen, best known for portraying Anakin Skywalker, appeared in "The Tale of Bigfoot Ridge"
    • Ryan Gosling appeared in "The Tale of Station 109.1"
  • The Scrappy: Stig from season 5. Obnoxious, gross and generally unpleasant, he was as unpopular out of the show as he was inside. Ironically, the only two stories he told are generally regarded as excellent by fans, but that still doesn't save Stig from making it into Scrappy territory for many a fan.
  • Seasonal Rot: The revival episodes that ran between 1999 and 2000 are considered by many to be bad, though the three-part episode "The Tale of the Silver Sight" is considered to be the best episode of the revived ones and is considered the last episode. Some episodes - particularly "The Night Nurse", "Many Faces", "The Hunted", "Walking Shadow" - are held in high regard though.
  • Special Effect Failure: The one that stands out the most was an episode where a bunch of kids were kidnapped onto an alien spacecraft and forced to eat a horrible alien food product...which was clearly and obviously lime-flavoured jello in a bowl. Interestingly, according to Word of God, it apparently could have been worse. According to creator D. J. MacHale, the show started filming in Montreal at a time when Montreal's film industry was struggling. Because of this, despite being a low-budget show, they still had the run of the place and had access to things they probably wouldn't have any other time.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Luke and Hanna in "Curse of the Shadows" have the least amount of chemistry out of all the potential ships, but the writers make it a point to bring up their interest in each other throughout.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: "The Tale of the Silver Sight" doesn't attempt to bring back any of the other past Midnight Society members; especially egregious in the case of Betty Ann and Kiki who, along with Gary, were the only other two to have been there from the first episode.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Some of the tales wouldn't really work in modern times due to Technology Marches On. The biggest "offender" is probably the Tale Of The Phone Police. When the kids are making prank call the protagonist's big sister warns him about the Phone Police and how they locked up "Billy Baxter". They don't believe her at first but look in the phone book and find his number. Despite having only six digits, it works, and they hear Billy begging for help, which eventually leads to them getting caught by the Phone Police. Nowadays, they could just look up Billy Baxter on Snopes or the like to see if it's true (though, for added horror, if this were done today, the Phone Police could expand to the Internetnote , and make it so that way Billy Baxter and the stories about him are kept hidden or filled with misinformation about what really happened to him).
    • "The Tale of the Virtual Pets" also didn't age well, as the episode is one big Take That! against Tamagotchis and other virtual pets that were all the rage back in the late 1990s into the early 2000s. Unless modern viewers were alive when Tamagotchis were a thing, most of the episode's satire falls flat. Although it could likewise just work as a satire on fads which is pretty universal.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Many episodes would feature bullying older siblings and classmates that would at most get a stern word from parents and teachers. As bullying became a hot topic at the end of the 2000s, it's surprising how apathetic the adults seem to be.
    • Other episodes would also show parents being rather aloof, careless or overly strict. Obviously there often need to be no authority figures for the plot to happen, but it's far removed from latter standards of more hands-on parenting.
  • Values Resonance: The series always had a near equal balance of male and female driven stories. The Midnight Society members would freely tell stories about characters of both genders, meaning that it was never considered an issue that the boys would have to identify with a female-driven story (and the series had multiple female writers contributing too). Female protagonists of their stories could be shown as flawed or imperfect, but still be the heroes too. This extends to race as well, with protagonists of various racial backgrounds leading their own stories. "The Tale of the Closet Keepers" even has a black deaf girl as the protagonist. In recent years, it's been singled out for creating a generation of feminist horror fans.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: "The Tale of the Super Specs" has a very trippy feel to it, especially since the name of the character who jump starts the plot with the second sight voodoo spell is none other than Weeds.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Well it is, but considering that some of the stories get rather dark and twisted, it can and will make people wonder. Most episodes had a happy ending, with the villain defeated, and sometimes going so far to have characters come Back from the Dead. The build-up to said happy ending tended to be creepy as hell, though, and there were exceptions to this. Probably the most ironic was The Pinball Wizard considering its use of Fairy Tale Motifs.
  • The Woobie:
    • Jill from "The Tale Of the Final Wish". Everyone around her looks down on her for daring to believe to in fairy tales as a teenager, and she only wishes herself into a fairy tale because of the teasing she'd received in school and at home.
    • Mike from "The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle" - a teenager haunted by watching his best friend drown as a child, and who tries to stop his younger brother suffering the same fate.
    • Erica from "The Tale of the Dream Girl" considering her brother died but is still around as a ghost that only she can see.
    • Good lord Nanny from "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost". A poor old woman whose daughter starved to death while she was away and knew nothing about it. And now she lives in a house with an ungrateful brat of a girl who is insanely cruel to her. Boy does she earn her happy ending, although it is a tad bittersweet all things considered.
    • The janitor in "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float." He is haunted by grief at having failed to rescue his girlfriend's little brother from the invisible monster in the pool when he worked as the lifeguard. The boy drowned, leading to the school shutting the pool down. Years later, as an adult, he finally gets to see the thing that killed the boy... and it causes him to suffer an emotional breakdown and go into shock.

The Video Game


Top