20 of the Scariest 'Are You Afraid of the Dark' Episodes, Ranked

Martha Sorren | Oct 11, 2019 TV
20 of the Scariest 'Are You Afraid of the Dark' Episodes, Ranked
Image: Nickelodeon

Are You Afraid of the Dark? cast screaming
Nickelodeon

Kids of the '90s rejoice, the Are You Afraid of the Dark? reboot officially premieres on October 11. It's a three-part, three-hour series on Nickelodeon that follows the same format as the original, with a new group of kids telling ghost stories. At first, the trailer made this new version seem way scarier, but then we reflected back on some of the original '90s Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes and remembered how terrifying those could be, too.

Over the course of its 10 years, seven seasons, and 91 episodes, the spooky series recounted tales of ghosts, vampires, deadly happenings, haunted houses, and more. It may have been aimed at children, but it was also a pretty scary show then and now.

Even as adults, it gives us chills.

Beginning in 1990 and lasting through 2000, Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a hugely popular TV series on Nickelodeon and has remained a cult favorite. It's no wonder the network chose to reboot AYAOTD nearly two decades later with an all new Midnight Society, and a brand new set of spooky tales. After the first episode airs on October 11, two more will air on Nickelodeon on October 18 and October 25 to take its viewers basically all the way up to Halloween with its creepy stories.

But before we settle down to watch the new episodes (we may not be children anymore, but this series will always play to the child in our hearts), let's revisit some of the scariest adventures from the original '90s show. These 20 episodes are ranked from least to most scary, and they'll leave us all wondering how we managed to sleep at night as kids with these kinds of spooky stories in our heads.

We sure were brave back then.

  • 20.) 'The Tale of the Phone Police'

    1

    Originally aired: January 29, 1994

    When: Season three, episode four

    Jake O'Brien learns the hard way what happens to people who make prank phone calls when he's captured by the phone police.

  • 19.) 'The Tale of the Prom Queen'

    2
    Originally aired: November 7, 1992

    When: Season one, episode 12

    This episode recounted a spooky take of a prom with a fatal ending. As if prom wasn't already rough enough for high-schoolers all on its own!

  • 18.) 'The Tale of the Bookish Babysitter'

    3

    Originally aired: February 12, 1994

    When: Season three, episode six

    This tale is less terrifying that it is enlightening -- which is why it ranks lower on this list. "The Tale of the Bookish Babysitter" follows a babysitter who introduces a TV-obsessed boy to the magical world of books.

  • 17.) 'The Tale of the Crimson Clown'

    4
    Originally aired: April 9, 1994

    When: Season three, episode 12

    Clowns are creepy, there's no denying that. And the Crimson Clown in this episode is especially spooky because he's also a doll. He comes to life to teach a young boy a lesson he won't soon forget (out of fear alone).

  • 16.) 'The Tale of the Guardian's Curse'

    5

    Originally aired: February 26, 1994

    When: Season three, episode eight

    Cleo and Josh stumble upon the elixir of eternal life -- only their discovery wakes a museum's mummy from the dead.

  • 15.) 'The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors'

    6

    Originally aired: October 3, 1992

    When: Season one, episode eight

    A new couple moves to town with their son, and evidence stacks up that these neighbors are actually vampires with a thirst for blood.

  • 14.) 'The Tale of the Phantom Cab'

    7

    Originally aired: August 15, 1992

    When: Season one, episode one.

    Every rideshare app user is afraid of getting a creepy driver, which is just the problem two brothers run into when lost in the woods -- only it's a cab driver they contend with (not someone from a rideshare app, because it's 1992).

    This was the first ever episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? and it started things off with a seriously spooky tale.

  • 13.) 'The Tale of the Magician's Assistant'

    8

    Originally aired: September 11, 1993

    When: Season two, episode 11

    A magician's assistant steals the magic wand without permission and accidentally unleashes a demon. That's a little bit more concerning than the rabbit in the hat trick we're used to seeing from stage magicians.

  • 12.) 'The Tale of Quicksilver'

    9

    Originally aired: April 2, 1994

    When: Season three, episode 11

    A new family moves into a house that's haunted by a girl who died in a fire and the ghost she had been trying to stop when she perished. Two ghosts for the price of one, how fun.

  • 11.) 'The Tale of the Silver Sight,' Parts 1-3

    10

    Originally aired: April 2, 2000

    When: Season seven, episodes one, two, and three

    Split into three parts, this tale follows the adventures of the Midnight Society as they track down the original 1937 members of the Midnight Society and band together to stop an evil force from being sent into their lives.

  • 10.) 'The Tale of the Whispering Walls'

    11

    Originally aired: July 31, 1993

    When: Season two, episode eight

    A lost babysitter and her two children stumble upon a house haunted with creepy, ghostly beings. "The Tale of the Whispering Walls" is a spooky tale that sends shivers up our spines.

  • 9.) 'The Tale of Old Man Corcoran'

    12

    Originally aired: October 2, 1993

    When: Season two, episode 13

    Playing hide-and-seek in a graveyard almost always leads to accidentally seeking out a ghost -- or at least it did on this chilling Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode.

  • 8.) 'The Tale of the Hungry Hounds'

    13

    Originally aired: September 12, 1992

    When: Season one, episode five

    A game of dress-up goes awry when a young girl is possessed by the spirit of the woman who previously owned the clothes.

  • 7.) 'The Tale of Laughing in the Dark'

    14

    Originally aired: August 22, 1992

    When: Season one, episode two

    Are You Afraid of the Dark? loves a clown episode, and this one is super creepy. (Just look at that one in the picture! Terrifying.) This tale features a spooky clown spirit who shows up to haunt a child who doesn't believe in ghosts and ghouls. 

    Well, he does now.

  • 6.) 'The Tale of Cutter's Treasure,' Parts 1 & 2

    15

    Originally aired: October 29, 1994

    When: Season four, episodes four and five

    This two-part story follows what happens when a teen accidentally releases the ghost of an ancient pirate.

  • 5.) 'The Tale of Watcher's Woods'

    16

    Originally aired: January 22, 1994

    When: Season three, episode three

    As if forests weren't creepy enough, meet the Watcher's Woods, which are filled with the old ghosts of three hags and an evil being called the Watcher.

    No thanks!

  • 4.) 'The Tale of the Midnight Ride'

    17

    Originally aired: January 8, 1994

    When: Season three, episode one

    This episode recounts a version of the Sleepy Hollow headless horseman tale. It's perfect for spooky Halloween viewing.

  • 3.) 'The Tale of the Midnight Madness'

    18

    Originally aired: June 26, 1993

    When: Season two, episode two

    A vampire movie comes to life when the creature on screen enters the real world and begins biting human victims.

  • 2.) 'The Tale of the Fire Ghost'

    19

    Originally aired: December 10, 1994

    When: Season four, episode 10

    Two children are trapped inside a fire station with the ghost of a firefighter who is looking for revenge against anyone in his path.

  • 1.) 'The Tale of the Night Shift'

    20

    Originally aired: February 3, 1996

    When: Season five episode 13

    The scariest of all the Are You Afraid of the Dark? tales (in our opinion) is this one about a vampire stalking patients at a hospital. People are supposed to feel safe to heal at a hospital, and this episode robs its characters of that hope. And, of course, it takes place at night when hospitals are at their most spooky.

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