RANKED! The Best ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?‘ Episodes
Are you afraid of the dark? Children of the ‘90s certainly were. This was due, in large part, to the Nickelodeon show that asked that very same question. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was an anthology kids show that aired during the mid-‘90s, featuring members of The Midnight Society telling a different ghost story every week. Stories ranged from killer clown dolls to haunted swimming pools. Each story explored our deepest fears, long before The Haunting of Hill House or the upcoming Creepshow series. With the recent release of the new Are You Afraid of the Dark trailer, we thought now would be an opportune time to highlight the 10 best episodes from Nickelodeon’s greatest show.
Cover Photo: Nickelodeon Studios
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10. 'The Tale of Station 109.1'
We’ve all been there (well, those of us who grew up listening to the radio because we didn’t have iStuff yet). You’re lying in bed in the dark, listening to the radio when, all of a sudden, you hear some static. Probably it’s just interference with the station. But what if it was something more sinister? That was the plot of this classic episode. A young man, obsessed with death, discovers a radio station used to transport people to the afterlife. That’s a scary enough thought but then the kid gets mistaken for a soul that needs to cross into the afterlife, and the kids version of the grim reaper comes to, well, reap. Scary, huh?
9. 'The Tale of the Dark Music'
As if the radio wasn’t bad enough, what if it was music itself that sealed your doom? Such was the case with young Andy and his family. Andy’s mom inherited an old house from her uncle and the little family moves in. But there was something lurking in the basement of that old house. Andy finds a vintage radio and turns it on, but as the music plays, something begins trying to come through a locked door. Curiosity has been said to kill the cat but, if Andy keeps playing the radio, curiosity might just kill him as well.
8. 'The Tale of the Midnight Madness'
What if the monster on a movie screen could cross realms and enter the real world? That’s exactly what happens in this tale. It focuses on two teens working at an old movie theater that rarely sees customers. That is, until an old man with a very frightening movie offers to let the theater show the film. The film, which looks suspiciously like Nosferatu, proves to be a big hit. But the owner of the theater refuses to share the profits with the film distributor, which causes Nosferatu to come to life for one night of unrelenting terror.
7. 'The Tale of the Crimson Clown'
When a bratty kid steals a video game from a thrift store, his older brother accidentally-on-purpose sends the Crimson Clown after him. The Crimson Clown is a doll that, supposedly, is sent to punish A-hole kids. That’s exactly what happens to the kid and though he definitely deserves it, we still don’t wish the Crimson Clown on anybody. If you thought the clown doll from Poltergeist was scary, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
6. 'The Tale of the Frozen Ghost'
This episode plays like less of a children’s show and more of an episode of Cold Case Files. When Charles and his sister go to the country to stay with their aunts, they come across a sickly-looking young boy complaining that he’s cold. Charles comes to find out that the young boy is actually a ghost, but he’s not a bad ghost. The bad guy, in this tale, is still very much alive and wants to make sure that the frozen ghost's secret stays a secret.
5. 'The Tale of the Dollmaker'
Friends change and grow apart. It happens to the best of us. What doesn’t typically happen to the best of us is finding out that our childhood friend has gone missing and been turned into a porcelain doll, living inside a super creepy dollhouse. While this episode isn’t exactly scary, it’s just really, really unnerving.
4. 'The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle'
Speaking of dead friends, Mike’s friend dies in a tragic bicycling accident. Years later, his death still haunts Mike, so much so that he begins to hallucinate his dead friend, along with his trusty bike. The damn ghost seems to follow him everywhere and he is relentless. As it turns out, he is also a good ghost, sent back from the afterlife to warn Mike that his brother is going to die too, unless Mike saves him. Again, this is pretty heavy stuff for a children’s show, but the majority of us only remember how creepy the ghost kid was.
3. 'The Tale of Laughing in the Dark'
We don’t know why clowns hate kids who steal so much, but evidently that’s Bozo’s biggest bugaboo. In this tale, a bratty kid steals the nose of Zeebo the clown, a demon who haunts a carnival fun house. Zeebo has no other choice but to come get it back, much to the chagrin of anybody with coulrophobia.
2. 'The Tale of the Dead Man's Float'
Remember when you used to think swimming pools were the greatest thing in existence? Then, you saw this episode of AYAOTD and never wanted to step foot inside of a pool again. In this episode, a couple of teenagers find an old swimming pool deep within the bowels of their local high school. Evidently, in a page right out of Friday the 13th, the pool was a shut down years prior because a young boy drowned while the lifeguard on duty fornicated with his girlfriend. Of course, by "drowned," we actually mean "was drowned by the scariest demon ghost you have ever seen on television." But that’s just semantics.
1. 'The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner'
This is the absolute scariest tale from the show and one that will never be topped. Even the upcoming series will not be able to compete against The Grinner, a comic book character that is part Joker and part Pennywise. Those who see The Grinner have been known to turn into giggling idiots, which is insane because if we saw The Ghastly Grinner, the last thing we would do is laugh. He is the stuff nightmares are made of and we put him up against Pennywise, the Poltergeist doll, and any other scary clown you can think of. This was our favorite episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark and it was the absolute peak of terror.