Tales from the Darkside TV Poster Image

Tales from the Darkside

Dark, dated morality plays dabble in the occult.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

All of the episodes are mini morality plays that usually feature selfish, unfaithful, or evil characters getting what they deserve -- often with the help of some unexpected occult influence.


Some fighting, but little gore or explicit action.


No nudity or sex, but several episodes feature themes of lust and infidelity -- and sometimes include scantily clad women.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some characters smoke cigarettes and drink socially.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that these mini morality plays are, as the title of the show suggests, dark. Each episode of this anthology series from the 1980s typically revolves around a person with some kind of character flaw who has an unexpected encounter with the supernatural. The mood is grim and creepy and could easily spook young children, while older kids may find the often-wooden acting and the dated clothes and hairstyles silly or distracting. Some episodes deal with mature issues like infidelity; some characters drink and smoke.

What's the story?

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE is a mixed bag. This '80s anthology series, produced by legendary zombie horror film director George A. Romero, is a collection of self-contained morality plays that typically center on people with some kind of significant character flaw. They could be selfish, cruel, or deceptive, or they may be trying to lie, cheat, or steal. What they all have in common is that they have some kind of unexpected encounter with the supernatural that leads to a surprise twist at the end of the episode.

Is it any good?


Many of the stories were either written by or based on yarns by well-known horror writers like Romero, Stephen King, and Harlan Ellison. They incorporate fascinating scenarios and truly surprising twists, and many episodes feature talented actors and/or the occasional rising star. But others are less satisfying, with predictable stories performed by wooden, no-name actors. (And all of them have terribly dated '80s ensembles that are heavy on feathered hair.)

The show obviously draws its inspiration from The Twilight Zone, which is the all-time great when it comes to delivering unexpected twists. But it's probably closer in spirit to The Outer Limits, another anthology series that played up the sci-fi element, or Night Gallery, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling's creepy '70s follow-up that emphasized horror and the occult. Though Tales from the Darkside often has adult themes and, yes, dark overtones, the effect is a bit muted by its dated appearance, so it probably won't be too scary for older kids. Of course, except for a few standout episodes, it may not be all that entertaining, either.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about destiny and karma. Most of these self-contained stories focus on unpleasant characters who try to lie, cheat, and steal to get to the top but instead meet a much more unpleasant fate. Do they get what they deserve? Do you think people in real life get ahead through similarly unscrupulous behavior? Why do you think movies and TV shows tend to depict immoral characters getting punished? Is that always the case in real life?

TV details

Premiere date:October 29, 1983
Cast:Catherine Battistone, John Marzilli, Paul Sparer
Genre:Science Fiction
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD

This review of Tales from the Darkside was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 11 years old January 4, 2011

not a good picture or title

i hate it
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old November 25, 2014

AR4U Cert: 13

Contains infrequent strong violence, grisly images, moderate and strong horror, some bloody scenes, mild sex references and some drinking and smoking scenes and references.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byBrendan Conway March 20, 2011
good 80's show
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models