Are You Afraid of the Dark? Creator Reveals What Was Unexpectedly Censored From Series

Any fan of Are You Afraid of the Dark? can tell you a number of different monsters and creatures from the '90s series that scarred them for life, but creator of the series D.J. MacHale recently recalled how Nickelodeon never asked him to censor any of the spookier elements of the series. This isn't to say that the project had no restraints, as MacHale revealed how the members of The Midnight Society were never shown lighting the iconic campfire, as the network was more concerned with audiences imitating that behavior, which posed a much bigger risk than anything supernatural. 

"Short answer is: no. It's remarkable, we had carte blanche," MacHale responded to Bloody Digusting's Horror4Kids about being asked to edit the project. "I consider myself a responsible person and so we self-edited things, we knew how far we could go. Sometimes we maybe went a little bit further than that, and Nickelodeon trusted us implicitly. The only comments we got from them had nothing to do with the scary stuff. Like any show, they're worried about imitate-able behavior, they don't want to show a kid doing something that someone's going to do at home and say, 'I learned that on Nickelodeon and that's why I wiped out my family.'"

He continued, "You never saw them light the campfire. You never saw them strike a match and lighting the campfire because they didn't want kids playing with matches."

The writer went on to note how, while not being specifically asked to edit the stories, he found that anything involving Satanic concepts would be slightly tweaked to make for more family-friendly fare.

"It wasn't even so much a pushback, it was just a little whiff I got, where they were starting to be concerned that people might push back and be afraid that there was Devil worship going on in the show or black magic, the voodoo, so we had to be a little bit careful," MacHale confessed. "Really religious people don't like that kind of stuff, but I would say, when they'd say, 'Is that a demon?' and I'd be like, 'No, no, it's just magic.' Magic is such a happy word. 'Oh, it's magic!' And the true answer was, 'Yeah, it was a demon and they're up to no good.' But that fact that I said, 'Oh no, it's magic,' we got away with stuff that way."

MacHale did admit that the disconnect between audiences and a network back in the '90s was a lot different from how it is now, and if people were upset with elements of the series, it would be a much more complex process to let the network know about these qualms. 

"I'm not so sure if that could happen today, because when you think about it, when Are You Afraid of the Dark? was first on, there was no social media, it didn't exist, so there really wasn't the platform for every Tom, Dick, and Harry and Karen to write in to complain," he expressed. "You'd have to literally write a letter or call a switchboard someplace to complain, and as far as I know, there were no complaints about the show, so Nickelodeon was just like, 'Have fun storming the castle.'"

Nickelodeon recently rebooted the Are You Afraid of the Dark? series under a different format from the original anthology concept.

What do you think of the writer's remarks? Let us know in the comments or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!