It’s often difficult introducing children to the world of horror. When the public thinks of the horror genre, thoughts of serial killers and gruesome monster deaths come to mind.
However, horror is so much more than nightmare fuel for adults. For an entire generation, their first experience with horror was the classic Nickelodeon anthology show Are You Afraid of the Dark? The show managed to blend horror with so many other genres including fantasy, sci-fi, and even comedy that revisiting some of its best episodes is always a nostalgic blast from the past.
10) The Tale Of The Captured Souls
Some of the best episodes are those that feature a creepy character, and it doesn’t get much creepier than Peter. Danny and her family stay at Peter’s hotel for a vacation, but instead her parents begin feeling weak and lethargic inexplicably.
It turns out that Peter was sapping their life force in order to stay young. It’s a premise that’s not particularly new or original, but the way the episode slow played its reveal around its creepy antagonist made it a standout.
9) The Tale Of The Dollmaker
Dolls have always had a particular spot in horror. There’s something about the lifelike toys that are both creepy and innocent at the same time, in this episode does the superb job at highlighting both.
The story follows a girl named Melissa who discovers a dollhouse model of an actual house in an attic. Of course, no girl can resist a gorgeous dollhouse, which makes the story all the more frightening when she discovered a girl named Susan had become trapped inside it.
8) The Tale Of The Laughing In The Dark
Are You Afraid of the Dark? has no shortage of creepy clowns, but Zeebo was the first. This story follows a boy that stole part of the doll’s clown nose as part of a dare, but things took a scary turn when the doll came to life and followed the boy home in search of it.
What made this episode particularly creepy was the fact it took a Jaws approach to its horror. The actual clown that haunts the boy is never seen, but his presence is felt all around his house. Sometimes the less-is-more approach in terms of horror is all that’s needed.
7) The Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor
From very early on, Are You Afraid of the Dark? mastered the art of the twist. Although their episodes were brief, they did an amazing job of luring its viewers in and then delivering a turnaround at the end. This episode had a great one.
The premise follows a creepy family that moves in to a building’s 13th floor. A brother and adopted sister are weary of their new neighbors, but by the end, things get especially creepy when it’s revealed that the neighbors are aliens that had come back for their long-lost daughter.
6) The Tale Of The Shiny Red Bicycle
Ghosts are a popular horror theme, and the same goes for Are You Afraid of the Dark? There are many different ways in which a ghost can be utilized. Some ghosts can be malicious, while others are benign. Then there’s the helpful ghost, which somehow tends to be the creepiest.
This episode had a teenager plagued with guilt by the unfortunate death of his friend. At some point, he feels as if the ghost of his friend is haunting him. In reality, the ghost appears as a warning so that he could save his brother from succumbing to the same fate.
5) The Tale Of The Pinball Wizard
The great thing about Are You Afraid of the Dark? is how seamlessly its episodes can traverse a wide range of genres. This one sought to turn an avid gamer into a hero by having him live out a real life fantasy.
This episode takes place in a mall where each level represents a different stage in the game. For gamers, the episode was a real treat as it had all of the Easter eggs typical of video games and pinball. It was more than just horror, too. It was a full-fledged adventure.
4) The Tale Of The Super Specs
Some of the scariest episodes are those in which the protagonists actually lose. This one manages to accomplish that while also throwing in a twist at the end.
The premise has to do with magical glasses that reveal hidden entities in the world. In truth, the glasses’ wearers were the true invaders, and the episode ended when the mysterious entities managed to reclaim their house.
3) The Tale Of The Curious Camera
Great episodes of television are when one problem turns into another problem. Are You Afraid of the Dark? does it all the time, and in this case, it took the form a camera that caused tragedy to whatever it took a picture of.
The true villain wasn’t just the camera, however. It turned out that there was a gremlin living in the camera that caused the tragedy, and when the camera was destroyed, the gremlin jumped from one device to another. It made for a very fun episode with very real consequences.
2) The Tale Of The Prom Queen
Once again, Are You Afraid of the Dark? loved telling ghost stories, but not every story has to exist for scares. Some stories are content to feature relatable characters in an interesting situation. In this case, it involves an urban legend of a prom queen that never made it to her dance.
The episode ended with a pretty predictable twist, but that only adds to the story’s charm. Most Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes end on a cliffhanger. There are so many of those that sometimes it’s nice not to feature a depressing story, and simply have a good old-fashioned happy ending.
1) The Tale Of The Midnight Madness
Many Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes focus on plot over character. That doesn’t mean the characters aren’t interesting. It just means the plot usually takes precedence. It’s rare for the two to merge so gracefully, but this episode nailed it.
The story takes place in an old and failing movie theater that gets a breath of life from a mysterious horror film. Things take a drastic turn when the film’s vampire villain steps out of the screen and hunts the people that work there. Given how much the characters love the theater and movies in general, their plight makes for a truly adventurous tale with a very dastardly villain.