Goosebumps VS Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Which was the better horror show?
Two scary / horror themed anthology shows aimed at kids from the 90s so these two franchises are always pitted against each other even if they’re quite different. Today I’ll settle this easy question once and for all and see if Are You Afraid of the Dark or Goosebumps was the better TV show. The coincidences don’t end there as both were also produced in canada and even had similar episode count so it’s no random event that people always put them against each other. I won’t take a look at the franchise as a hole but only take a look at the actual shows and measure the different strengths and weaknesses of each show.
Are You Afraid of the Dark has a rather creepy opening with a scary theme to go with it and it’s absolutely fantastic while the intro for Goosebumps is cheesy as hell but it doesn’t matter as it’s still awesome and the music is super iconic that you’ll always hear it in horrible Goosebumps youtube videos. As far as the format of the shows they’re both anthology series but Goosebumps features more two part episodes as well as sequel episodes while AYOTD is mostly standalone episodes but they have the whole midnight society where the kids gather to tell scary stories which definitely added to the experience and sadly Goosebumps couldn’t do something like it, maybe having Curly the Skeleton in a Cryptkeeper role? The both shows have iconic opening themes and intros but AYOTD is just simply better and the format of the show also makes AYOTD more memorable in general.
But this is the strength that goosebumps has because of it since the two part episodes automatically made those stories more epic than they really were just for ending with a “to be continued”, no matter how lame it might’ve been. Also recurring villains made the episodes much better as you were familiar with them and wanted to see more of them. The fact that they were based on books only helps the Goosebumps tv show be more popular since those covers were so iconic and all the hype from the children’s book series bled to the show. Are you afraid of the dark? did try to get into the book and steal some of the thunder from goosebumps but it wasn’t able to make the same impact.
Are You Afraid of the Dark had 65 episodes of the first generation which is the one most people remember but after a short break they had 2 new seasons with a new generation / cast that ups the count to 91 episodes. Goosebumps started as prime time specials which is why the first season is all two parters or sometimes skipped since they weren’t part of the normal seasons and later was rebranded as Ultimate Goosebumps before dying but it was all mostly one show adapting stories from Goosebumps and Series 2000. Nickelodeon definitely got better actors for AYOTD than Fox Kids did with their budget in Goosebumps and that’s why many AYOTD actors might be household names while not so much for Goosesbumps and this shows off in the quality of the child actors during the shows.
Goosebumps just became more iconic since it had monsters that were extremely marketable and when people fondly remember Goosebumps it’s because of them. The characters are icons and to see those creatures from the book covers in an actual tv show was exciting as hell even if some of they didn’t look how we specifically imagined them we still ate it all up. Are You Afraid of the Dark? has a surprisingly good amount of terrifying monsters as well but there’s a reason we don’t remember them as well, they were only featured once, weren’t in books and they were spread out with other type of stories while Goosebumps mostly focused on different creatures of the night and it built a much bigger arsenal of monsters.
Are You Afraid of the Dark mostly told stories of supernatural stuff instead but this was its strength as many of the stories are still creepy embarrassingly enough while the majority of the Goosebumps episodes were not even scary when I was a kid. AYOTD succeeded in actually scaring you. The supernatural will always be creepier than a random werewolf no matter how cool his design is but even then when AYOTD designed a creepy monster you they made something scary as hell that Goosebumps TV monsters could never compare with their budget.
Overall as you can see AYOTD is the clear winner when it came to quality and it’s an easy question to answer over which tv show was better. But if we analyze them as a franchise as a whole Goosebumps is just more iconic and memorable thanks to the books and that’s why it’s remembered so fondly and all that nostalgia is carried over to the show which while it did have it’s good episodes was usually outmatched by Are You Afraid of the Dark in most departments.
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