Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Premieres on This Day in 1990

‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Premieres on This Day in 1990

On November 2, 1990, Are You Afraid of the Dark made its official debut as one of the most well-known kids’ spooky TV shows on Nickelodeon. 

The TV series follows a group of teenagers, known as The Midnight Society. They meet in the woods and tell scary stories around a campfire. Each teen would start their stories by declaring, “Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society, I call this story…” They then throw “midnight dust” (Coffee-Mate grounds) into the fire. Among the popular stories that were shared in the series were The Tale of the Chameleons, The Tale of Vampire Town, and  The Tale of the Pinball Wizard. 

Following the end of the story, The Midnight Society members would end the spooky episodes with “I declare this meeting of The Midnight Society closed.” Among those who appeared in the series were JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Daniel DeSanto, Jacob Tierney, and Rachel Blanchard. 

Are You Afraid of the Dark has 104 episodes throughout 10 seasons. The show originally ended in April of 1996 after five seasons, but then returned in February 1999 with season 6. Season 7 aired from April to June 2000. Nearly 20 years after the first revival, Nickelodeon brought the series back. Three short seasons debuted, with season 10 ending in August 2022.

‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Co-Creator Talks About the Show’s Original Concept

During a 2020 interview with Bustle, D.J. MacHale, who co-created Are You Afraid of the Dark with Ned Kandel spoke about scaring an entire generation generation with the horror series. He also mentioned the show’s original concept.

“I have found that the stories that seem to be remembered the most are the ones that have visually iconic boogeymen,” MacHale explained. “It’s because those things stick in your brain, the actual visual memory of it.”

MacHale also said that the and Kandel thought about having “some old-time” actor guy sitting in front of a warm fireplace telling stories. However, the duo thought that was entirely too boring, especially for the older Nickelodeon-watching crowd. “So fairy tales became scary tales,” MacHale declared. 

Eventually, MacHale remembered that Nickelodeon’s execs struggled with the scary stories concept. They worried that parents would be “up in the arms” and that the network was “warping” their children. The execs eventually asked him and Kandel to base the series on literary antecedents. Then the network could say everything is based on classic literature. MacHale further pointed out that no one complained to the network. But he and the show’s crew made sure to be careful about what they did on the show. 

When asked if he thought Are You Afraid of the Dark was terrifying, MacHale stated that some tales were cheesy. “Every episode always had a moment of victory. ‘Oh we did it, we beat the bad guy… we’re self-empowered, we did our joy,” he added.