During its seven-season run on Nickelodeon (1992 to 2000), Are You Afraid of the Dark? featured a variety of chilling tales of the supernatural. Each episode revolved around a group of teenagers (The Midnight Society) convening around a campfire and sharing original stories.
Unlike other children’s anthology shows, such as Goosebumps or The Nightmare Room, Are You Afraid of the Dark? often ventured beyond shocks and scares to explore heavier themes like grief and loneliness. Instead of acknowledging the scariest episodes of the series, this list highlights some of the more melancholy narratives.
If you are in the mood for something spooky but also poignant, then check out these Midnight Society tales:
“The Tale of the Lonely Ghost” (season 1, episode 3)
During summer break, Amanda has to stay with her aunt and snobby cousin, Beth. After being tricked into entering the haunted house next door, Amanda runs out when she sees the spirit of a little girl in the mirror. Eventually, Amanda discovers that Beth’s nanny is the mother of the little girl, who had mysteriously vanished years earlier. In a bittersweet ending, the mother and daughter are reunited and go off into the mirror dimension together.
Five years ago, Mike witnessed his best friend, Ricky, fall off a broken bridge and drown in a river. Ever since that day, Mike has been haunted by the guilt of failing to save his friend. Now, Mike is suddenly being plagued by visions of Ricky and his red bicycle. At the conclusion, the ghost of Ricky warns Mike that his little brother is in danger, and Mike successfully saves him from drowning near the place where Ricky had died.
“The Tale of Apartment 214” (season 3, episode 2)
Shortly after moving into a new apartment complex with her mom, Stacy befriends Madeline, a gentle old woman who lives next door. One day, Stacy promises to visit Madeline on a specific occasion but doesn’t follow through with her promise. It is soon revealed that Madeline is actually a ghost, and Stacy ditched her on the anniversary of her death. To make amends, Stacy and her mom move into Madeline’s apartment, ensuring that the ghost will no longer be lonely.
“The Tale of the Dream Girl” (season 3, episode 10)
In “The Dream Girl,” Johnny finds a mysterious class ring in his locker and can’t get it off his hand. Soon after, he begins having visions of a beautiful and mysterious girl. As many hints reveal, the twist is that Johnny and the “dream girl” were high school sweethearts who died in a recent train accident. Though not verified, some sources claim The Sixth Sense was inspired by this episode.
“The Tale of the Last Dance” (season 7, episode 10)
In this modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, Tara dreams of becoming a virtuoso violinist. Unfortunately, her boyfriend isn’t very supportive of her ambitions, but within the walls of the high school lives a disfigured man who greatly admires her talent. On the night of the school dance, the phantom kidnaps Tara and takes her to his underground lair. Though she is frightened at first, Tara eventually realizes the man is harmless and kind. The episode ends with them sharing the last dance before parting ways.