20. “The Tale of the Dangerous Soup”
Dr. Vink is using a special ingredient in his recipes — his employees’ fear. Once the demon escapes, however, it’s not only his employees whose worst fears are coming to life. There are few things less scary than soup, but the gargoyle (not to mention the always creepy Dr. Vink) earn this episode a spot on the list.
19. “The Tale of Apartment 214”
Lonely in her new apartment complex, Stacy befriends an elderly woman named Madeline. When Stacy forgets to visit Madeline one afternoon, the old woman becomes enraged. Let this be a reminder to all children: Senior citizens are not your friends. Do not engage.
18. “The Tale of the Wisdom Glass”
When Allan and Jimmy steal a new computer game called The Wisdom Glass, they are transported into an unfamiliar world. Once there, they’re put on trial for their theft. Being jailed in a foreign place is scary enough, but get a look at the nightmarish judge in charge of the proceedings.
17. “The Tale of the Final Wish”
Jill is too old to believe in fairy tales, so she makes a wish that she can live in the fairy tale world forever. When her wish is granted, she realizes fairy tales are actually terrifying. Which, you know, any sensible person knows already. Bobcat Goldthwait is extra unnverving as the malevolent Sandman.
16. “The Tale of the Night Shift”
Amanda volunteers for the night shift at her local hospital. Soon she discovers that someone is draining the patients and employees, and turning them into vampiric zombies. I guess the moral of this one is, don’t do volunteer work? Way to scare kids out of doing good with green-skinned monsters.
15. “The Tale of the Fire Ghost”
Jimmy and Roxanne are left alone in the firehouse where their dad works after the firefighters are called off for an emergency. Left alone, they encounter a ghost seeking revenge. Fire and ghosts are scary enough on their own: The combination is almost too much to endure, especially for a kid.
14. “The Tale of the Quicksilver”
Aaron and Doug are plagued by strange events in their new house. They come to realize that a demon who killed a classmate’s twin sister is back to claim another soul. This episode upped the stakes with the actual death of a child (albeit offscreen) and some very effective makeup.
13. “The Tale of the Water Demons”
Two cousins deliver food to an old sea captain, who is being haunted by water demons, ghosts of drowned victims who want their treasure back. The boys steal the treasure and end up targeted by the same demons. Hey, you know what’s even scarier than fire? Water. It’s all around us! It’s ALREADY INSIDE YOU.
12. “The Tale of the Mystical Mirror”
Cindy gets a job at a boutique where employees are disappearing. It turns out her boss Ms. Valenti is actually an old woman stealing her employees’ youth with her magic mirror. Again, old people are scary — and sometimes they masquerade as young people! Trust no one.
11. “The Tale of the Silent Servant”
Cousins Anne and Jared bring a scarecrow to life and get it to do their bidding. Trouble arises when they accidentally tell it to kill someone. Here’s a tip: Don’t bring scarecrows to life. And if you do bring a scarecrow to life, don’t accidentally tell it to kill someone. Honestly.
10. “The Tale of the Frozen Ghost”
Melissa Joan Hart plays a babysitter tasked with taking care of a spoiled kid at his aunt’s country house. They soon discover a ghost haunting the property, a young boy who froze during the harsh winter. Even scarier than old people? Children. And the ghost here has an extra creepy pallor, because he’s — you know — frozen.
9. “The Tale of Many Faces”
Emma’s worried she’s not pretty enough to be a model, until the mysterious Madame Visage tells her what a pretty face she has. The problem is, Madame Visage wants Emma’s face for her own. The mere concept is scary, but the visual of the faceless Madame Visage is one of the show’s most horrifying.
8. “The Tale of the Dollmaker”
Melissa is spending the summer at her aunt and uncle’s house with her best friend Susan. After Susan goes missing, Melissa finds out that her friend has been turned into a doll and trapped in a doll house. The doll version of Susan isn’t malicious, but her awful porcelain face is definite nightmare-fodder.
7. “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark”
Josh wants to prove the funhouse isn’t haunted by stealing evil clown Zeebo’s nose. Of course, the funhouse is haunted — and Zeebo goes after him. Do I even need to explain that clowns are the actual scariest thing? Although the carnival barker is pretty frightening, too.
6. “The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle”
Years ago, Mike tried to save Ricky from drowning and failed. Now Ricky’s ghost is back, along with his favorite red bicycle. The ghost kid is as creepy as always, though this episode complicates things by adding to that Mike’s guilt over not saving his friend when he had a chance.
5. “The Tale of the Lonely Ghost”
Amanda is staying with her cousin Beth, who says she can only hang out with her if Amanda spends the night in the haunted house next door. There, she meets a ghostly deaf girl who wants a friend. As if the ghost girl wasn’t bad enough, you’ve got “HELP ME” written backwards all over the walls for an even more chilling effect.
4. “The Tale of the Crimson Clown”
A boy steals money from his older brother and is punished when a scary clown doll comes to life and attacks him. I guess “scary clown” is redundant. I know this show was supposed to scare us, but was it trying to traumatize us, too? Enough with the clowns already.
3. “The Tale of the Midnight Madness”
Dr. Vink tries to save a dying movie theater by selling it his copy of the 1922 film Nosferatu. After the theater owner turns him down, bad things start to happen. Like, for example, Nosferatu comes to life. Who knew the original movie vampire could be so much scarier than those that came after?
2. “The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float”
Clorice is teaching Zeke to swim at the school pool. But the pool was built on a graveyard, and it’s haunted by one of the people buried there. Anyone who has ever had to swim at school knows the horrors therein, but the ghost here is also way too scary for a kids’ show. I mean, gah.
1. “The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner”
Comic book geek Ethan is obsessed with supervillain the Ghastly Grinner, who turns his victims into drooling idiots by staring at them. By microwaving his comic book, Ethan accidentally brings the Ghastly Grinner to life. Has any episode of television ever inspired more nightmares? No. There is simply nothing scarier than the Ghastly Grinner, or his blue-mouthed minions. I’m still petrified.