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Nickelodeon was a much different channel back in the 90s. Millennials like me who grew up in the decade no doubt remember the abundance of awesome television game shows, comedy shows, and shows aimed at teens. One such inclusion that caused us younger kids to sleep with the lights on was Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Are You Afraid of the Dark? has technically always been considered a children's program, but it left its mark on the generation as being one of the spookiest shows of the time. It originally aired during Nickelodeon's nighttime block, SNICK, from 1992 to 1996. It aired on SNICK and not regular daytime programming as it was intended for older audiences. Each episode gave us a new tale told by the "Midnight Society" around a secluded campfire in the woods. These tales ranged from haunted hotels to ghosts to trapped spirits.
Just like anything else, some of the tales told throughout the show's ten year run were more scary than others. This list might introduce some tales you had never seen before or might bring back memories of tales you've tried to forget. Keep in mind that this show first aired in Canada back in 1990. The styles and content might be a bit dated or lame by today's standards, but that doesn't mean they weren't scary back in the early to mid-'90s.
So now, submitted for the approval of the Vocal Media Midnight Society, I give you the 10 scariest tales from Are You Afraid of the Dark?
10. "The Tale of the Captured Souls"
Season 1, Episode 7
When Danielle and her parents arrive for a relaxing vacation, they are introduced to a young innkeeper, Peter. Danielle soon notices she gets shocked whenever she touches the abundance of mirrors around the cabin, specifically in her parents' room. Because that's normal, right? It's later revealed that the strange innkeeper Peter has been using the mirrors to suck the youth from the guests to stay forever young. Danielle eventually defeats Peter to save her family and herself, but this story was always one of the more creepy ones. It definitely keeps you from looking into mirrors for longer than a few seconds.
9. "The Tale of the Watcher's Woods"
Season 3, Episode 3
Camp legends are part of the summer camp experience. Whether it's haunted cabins, creepy counselors, or weird noises at night, anyone who ever went to camp no doubt was treated to some spooky stories. This tale brings us to the 75th anniversary of when three campers went missing at Camp Crindlestone. We learn the hard way about the Watcher's Woods when three new campers go into the woods where people go to disappear.
8. "The Tale of the Night Shift"
Season 5, Episode 10
This tale is considered by some fans to be one of the more violent episodes in the show's history. After young Amanda volunteers to work the night shift at the local hospital, she soon discovers the hospital is crawling with vampires. Most kids are scared of vampires, and seeing them devour Amanda's friends and dangle her from the roof of the hospital definitely amplified the fear of the nightly bloodsuckers. Also a fun side note: This episode featured future Entourage star Emmanuelle Chriqui along with Elisha Cuthbert.
7. "The Tale of the Doll Maker"
Season 3, Episode 5
Dolls are creepy enough, right? After Melissa's friend disappears, she decides to snoop around in her attic to find a dollhouse identical to her missing friend's house. The spook factor comes in when Melissa goes back into the attic to find that her friend has not only been turned into a doll, but has been living in the dollhouse. Although Melissa saves her friend from being trapped in doll world, we definitely put our dolls away after watching this one.
6. "The Tale of the Super Specs"
Season 1, Episode 6
After the Midnight Society accuses storyteller Gary of losing his touch, he pulls out this terrifying tale of haunted super specs from a magic shop. Upon putting on the specs, Mary Beth begins seeing items that aren't really there—ranging from household items to cloaked black figures. After seeking help from the magic shop owner, his inexperience allows the haunted figures to enter our reality. Unlike most endings, this tale ends with the demise of our main characters—unusual for the show, especially in the first season.
5. "The Tale of the Midnight Madness"
Season 2, Episode 2
This tale is set in an old movie theater on the verge of bankruptcy. Two young employees agree on a deal with a mysterious Dr. Vink to try and save the theater from going under. After going back on the deal, Vink sends the horror icon Nosferatu after the employees as revenge for not playing his movies. Although the kids escape with their lives, Dr. Vink gets the deed to the theater and promises more horror to come.
4. "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark"
Season 1, Episode 2
We have established the fact that clowns are scary many, many times. This tale brings us back to the Great Depression where Zeebo the Clown steals money from his carnival. While hiding out in the "Laughing in the Dark" funhouse, it burns to the ground with him trapped inside. The carnival rebuilds the funhouse complete with a Zeebo memorial dummy. Decades later, a young boy decides to steal the famous clown's nose to prove he's not afraid of the ghost legend. However, he is soon haunted and teased by Zeebo's ghost.
3. "The Tale of Dead Man's Float"
Season 5, Episode 1
As if Pennywise the Dancing Clown crawling out of a shower drain wasn't enough, we have this water ghost to thank for not going near pool drains. In this tale, the nerdy Zeke exchanges chemistry tutoring for swim lessons with his crush Clorice. Desperate to impress her, he leads them to the school's abandoned swimming pool where they quickly learn why it's been abandoned: Turns out the pool was built on top of an old graveyard and the remaining spirits are not one bit happy about it. This episode also featured the now famous Jay Baruchel.
2. "The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner"
Season 4, Episode 9
This episode was absolutely terrifying, and it's mainly just due to the Grinner. After attending the opening of a new comic book shop, Ethan is given a freak show comic which winds up drenched with water. He decides to microwave the book to dry it off, but the radiation causes the Ghastly Grinner to come to life, and he starts terrorizing the neighborhood. Ethan uses his talents to create a new comic to defeat the Grinner, but he is trapped inside of the new book along with this spine-tingling jester.
1. "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost"
Season 1, Episode 3
This tale is no doubt, hands down, the scariest that was ever delivered by this show. When Amanda is sent to live with her aunt for the summer, she soon finds out her cousin Beth is determined to make her summer a nightmare full of chore slavery and an urban legend initiation—spending the night in the haunted house next door. After Amanda goes into the house, she is confronted by a ghost of a young girl who enters and exits through a closet mirror. Her means of communication includes writing "HELP ME" all over the walls. This was another tale with a happier ending, but man was it scary. It's still spooky to watch as an adult.
"The Tale of the Fire Ghost" - Season 4, Episode 10
"The Tale of the Mystical Mirror" - Season 5, Episode 4
"The Tale of the Frozen Ghost" - Season 2, Episode 8
"The Tale of Many Faces" - Season 7, Episode 12
What was your favorite Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode? Let us know!