Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Decoded

What the episodes of Are You Afraid...? are really trying to tell you.

Sam Wellerby Sam Weller


I recently broke open my box set of Are You Afraid of the Dark? the seminal 90's kid's horror show that aired most prominetly in the SNICK block of Nickelodeon back in the day. In between the big hair and horrific fashion sense of the time I was struck by the… agenda… that most of the episodes seem to have. 


Submitted for the approval of the Crave Online community I give you the tale…



"The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun"

Synopsis: During rehearsals for a school play based on an Irish folk tale, a boy is cursed into transforming into a changeling by a real-life leprechaun.

Meaning: This is actually a bold commentary on the mistreatment of Irish immigrants in early 20th century New York. Also, that liberal school lunch programs are changing our kids.  

"The Tale of the Super Specs"

Synopsis: A prankster buys his girlfriend a pair of gag glasses, but when she puts them on, she sees strange beings in black who live among the humans.

Meaning: That Roddy Piper was right:




"The Tale of the Pinball Wizard"

Synopsis: A mischievous kid who is obsessed with pinball, finds himself trapped in a mall at closing time and the protagonist of a real life pinball game.

Meaning: Capitalist society entraps us in a dangerous game of the “haves” and “have nots”… and the only escape is to be run over by a giant silver ball.

"The Tale of the Midnight Madness"

Synopsis: A movie theater about to shut down due to lack of sales and public interest gets a revival, courtesy of Dr. Vink selling a rare copy of the 1922 film Nosferatu for distribution, but when the manager refuses to pay Dr. Vink, he uses his magic to bring the famous movie monster into the real world.

Meaning: A Hollywood producer’s mad fantasia on the power of art amid a crumbling movie house industry. The inclusion of the immigrant as aggressor represents the dangerous influence of the European debt crisis… but basically it’s about the danger of publicity stunts.

"The Tale of Locker 22"

Synopsis: A girl is assigned a locker that takes her back to 1968, where she and her friend must save a hippie girl named Candy from dying in a chemistry lab explosion.

Meaning: The original script actually had them kicking a zombified Richard Nixon in the balls, but that would infringe upon the copyright The Monster Squad had on “monster nard kicking.”

…really though, this episode is about the dangers of cooking meth.

"The Tale of the Dark Dragon"

Synopsis: A teenage boy, still bitter and self-conscious from the car crash that handicapped him years ago, buys a potion from Sardo's magic shop that cures him and makes him handsome — and turns his anger and insecurity into a demon.


"The Tale of the Full Moon"

Synopsis: Two young pet detectives suspect a neighbor of being a werewolf.

Meaning: All your neighbors are trying to kill you. Constantly. The incongrous inclusion of “pet detectives” show the damning influence of Jim Carrey in early 90‘s culture:


"The Tale of the Lonely Ghost"

Synopsis: A girl agrees to spend the night in an abandoned house haunted by a lonely deaf girl.




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