If you were a kid in the 90s, then you likely remember enjoying kid-based horror on a regular basis. The 90s were packed with the production of horror-themed books, shows, and movies; most of it which was aimed towards the younger generation at the time. We had the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine, Tales from the Crypt (okay, so that wasn’t supposed to be geared towards children, but we sure tried to watch it anyway), Tim Burton movies, and the ever so popular show Are You Afraid of the Dark. Every single one of these managed to either scare the pants off of us (seriously, most of us never even made it through the intro for Tales from the Crypt) or at least mess with our minds a bit (Tim Burton is likely the reason this generation is so weird). While we all know that the 90s brought about some really strange stuff, what you may not realize is that one of these creepy shows was actually where a lot of huge stars today really got their start.
The list of celebrities who either had steady roles or who made guest appearances on the show Are You Afraid of the Dark is actually fairly long and very impressive. It’s amazing to look over these episodes and see some of our favorite actors taking on roles in such a cheesy horror show from our childhood. If you haven’t watched any of the episodes since the 90s, you are about to be blown away by some of the names on this list. So grab a can of Surge and some Dunkaroos, then sit back as we remind you of 15 huge stars who made appearances on the popular 90s show Are You Afraid of the Dark.
15. Aaron Ashmore
Not to be confused with his identical twin brother, Shawn, Aaron Ashmore is primarily known for his roles on TV shows such as Smallville, Warehouse 13, and Veronica Mars. One of his very first accredited roles as an actor was on Are You Afraid of the Dark in 1993. The season 2 episode entitled “The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor” told the story of Billy (Ashmore) and his adopted sister Karin, who liked to play on the abandoned 13th floor of their apartment building. Abandoned? 13? Spooky. Oh, and here’s a little bonus for you. Christopher Heyerdahl, who played one of the Volturi leaders named Marcus in Twilight, was also in this episode along with Ashmore. So there’s a little two-for-one treat!
Aaron returned to Are You Afraid of the Dark about five years later in the season 7 episode “The Tale of the Lunar Locusts”. This one was about an alien who has apparently come to Earth to save it from some alien parasite underneath a football field. Lame? Yeah, but let me tell you: The ending is very bold. Be careful who you trust, kids. Overall the acting from Aaron Ashmore (and everyone else, honestly) is definitely that of someone just breaking out in their career. It’s really cool to watch it and see just how far he’s come since the 90s.
14. Daniel DeSanto
“Is your muffin buttered? Would you like me to assign someone to butter your muffin?” This is the one line that Daniel DeSanto is primarily known for. In case you do not know that line or who he is, DeSanto played Gretchen Weiners’ love interest, Jason, in the movie Mean Girls. What you may not have known is that before DeSanto graced the set of Mean Girls, he played a member of The Midnight Society in a few different seasons of Are You Afraid of the Dark.
His character, Tucker, was a part of the show from 1993-1996 and then again from 1999-2000. This was only 4 years before he took on the role of Jason, and in some ways, the characters are fairly similar. While Tucker wasn’t exactly inappropriate like Jason was, both characters were particularly obnoxious. At least Tucker eventually grew out of that obnoxious behavior once he took over as president of The Midnight Society.
13. Eddie Kaye Thomas
Chances are that if you know who Eddie Kaye Thomas is, it is probably because you remember the time that he banged Stifler’s mom. Thomas played Paul Finch (or just Finch, as we knew him) in the original American Pie trilogy and the American Pie Reunion. In case you were not aware, the first American Pie movie came out in 1999; but five years before that came out, Thomas guest starred the much more kid-friendly show, Are You Afraid of the Dark.
In the 9th episode of season 3 entitled “The Tale of the Curious Camera”, Eddie Kaye Thomas played a kid by the name of Matt who ends up “chosen” by an evil antique camera that causes bad things to happen to whatever/whoever it takes a picture of. It is definitely the complete opposite of the role he is so well-known for, which makes it that much more interesting to watch.
12. Daniel Clark
Everyone who watched Degrassi: The Next Generation knows who Daniel Clark is. He played the show’s resident bad boy heartthrob, and Emma Nelson’s first love, Sean Cameron. While he isn’t known for much more than that because his acting resume is not nearly as long as some of the other actors on this list, that one role was more than enough to make a name for himself.
What Degrassi fans may not realize is that while Sean Cameron was one of the last things we saw him acting in, the beginning of his career featured appearances in several shows, one of them including Are You Afraid of the Dark Clark was 14 years old when he portrayed the character Max is season 6’s 11th episode, “The Tale of Oblivion”. The episode follows Max as he ends up with special tools that allow him to erase anything he wants into “oblivion”. He ends up erasing his sister (because who wouldn’t at that age if they had the power to do so), and ends up having to figure out how to bring her back. So Clark started out playing a troublemaker and then ended his acting career playing a troublemaker.
11. Ryan Cooley
Speaking of Degrassi stars, Ryan Cooley’s shot to fame happened because of a role on that show as well. We all remember the lovable class clown, JT Yorke. We also all remember the tragic episode where JT was stabbed and killed at Liberty’s birthday party, which he only went to with the intentions of professing his love for her. Those horrible and painful memories aside, just about any Degrassi fan will agree that we highly enjoyed seeing Cooley in the show. The character was troubled and entertaining, exactly how we like them.
Ryan Cooley appeared on Are You Afraid of the Dark in the three-part episode of season 7. The episode is called “The Tale of the Silver Sight”, and the story we end up seeing involves the members of The Midnight Society. Cooley plays the role of a waif kid who spends most of the time being somewhat of a trickster as well as giving the members of The Midnight Society warnings and leads about what they’re searching for. It’s definitely an interesting role within a twisted story, and 12-year-old Cooley did very well portraying it.
10. Melissa Joan Hart
Finding out that Melissa Joan Hart guest starred on Are you Afraid of the Dark was less than surprising. Before her appearance on the show, she had already made her name by starring as Clarissa Darling on another Nickelodeon show called Clarissa Explains It All. So while she was still in the early stages of her career when she guest starred on Are you Afraid of the Dark, the reason for her appearance was probably thanks in part to the fact that she was already an established actress for the network.
Three years after her appearance on the show, she went on to do Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which is what most people tend to associate with Hart. She also continued to make a lot of guest appearances on random TV shows, but most of her acting career has been spent making made-for-TV movies.
9. Tia and Tamera Mowry
Coming in with another 2-for-1, we saw Sister Sister‘s Tia and Tamera Mowry appear on Are You Afraid of the Dark‘s season 5 episode “The Tale of the Chameleons”. Naturally the twins were able to utilize the fact that they look identical for their role in this episode. Without giving away too much of the episode, Janice (Tia Mowry) ends up bitten by a chameleon when visiting a pet store. This incident leads to the chameleon not only following her home, but actually morphing into a clone of Janice (Tamera Mowry) to carry out some evil plans. The idea is definitely unique, if nothing else.
Tia and Tamera are obviously famous for more than just Sister, Sister, but that is definitely the show that originally brought them to fame. Some of their other popular roles include Alex and Camryn in the Disney Channel original movies Twitches and Twitches Too, their reality show Tia and Tamera, and several other made-for-TV films. Tia also starred as the young Sydney Donovan in Showtime’s TV movie, Seventeen Again.
8. Joanna Garcia
There are several different roles that you might recognize Joanna Garcia from. For those who have known her for a while, it’s likely due to her role in Gossip Girl as Nate Archibald’s season 3 love interest, Bree Buckley. You may also recognize her as Cheyenne Hart-Montgomery, Reba’s less than bright daughter on the WB/CW sitcom Reba. She’s also played a lead role in the movie Revenge of the Bridesmaids, and more recently has portrayed Ariel in ABC’s Once Upon A Time.
One of her very first acting roles took place on Are You Afraid of the Dark. She was on the show from 1993 to 1996, as Midnight Society member Sam. Most of the stories that Sam told during her time with the Midnight Society revolved around love, and some of them are used in order to direct Sam’s “love story lines” with fellow Midnight Society members Gary and Frank.
7. Jay Baruchel
Comedy fans all over the world likely know who Jay Baruchel is due to his role in the apocalyptic comedy-horror movie, This Is The End. In that movie, he played himself as a clingy best friend to Seth Rogen and a James Franco hater. He is also noted as being a co-producer for the film. He has also been in movies such as Knocked Up, Million Dollar Baby, and How To Train Your Dragon as the voice of Hiccup. His television appearances include roles in Undeclared (Steven Karp), Man Seeking Woman (Josh Greenberg), and Are You Afraid of the Dark.
Baruchel was actually in four different episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark. He first appeared on season 5 as Joe in the episode “The Tale of Dead Man’s Float”, which is actually considered to be one of the scariest episodes of the show. He then appeared in season 6 as Alex in “The Tale of the Zombie Dice”, as Ross Doyle in “The Tale of the Walking Shadow”, and in season 7’s “The Tale of the Time Trap” as Jason Midas.
6. Will Friedle
If you do not recognize Will Friedle from the pictures above, then chances are that you were not a 90s kid. If that’s the case, then I’m surprised that you’ve made it this far down the list. Will Friedle played the role of the hilariously dimwitted, Feeny-obsessed ladies man Eric Matthews in Boy Meets World and the sequel Girl Meets World. Aside from that, he did a lot of voice roles for both television shows and movies; the most popular one including lending his voice to Kim Possible‘s own Ron Stoppable.
Season four of Are You Afraid of the Dark saw a guest appearance by Friedle in the episode “The Tale of the Long Ago Locket”. He played the role of a love-struck Jimmy Armstrong, which is not far off from the roles we are used to seeing Friedle in already. The episode heavily revolves around history, more specifically Jimmy ending up in the middle of the Revolutionary War where he must save a Lieutenant William so that he can deliver a locket to his true love and confess his feelings for her.
5. Emily VanCamp
Emily VanCamp has brought life to several different popular roles, with most knowing her primarily as Emily Thorne in the ABC series Revenge. She is also seen on the big screen as Agent 13 in the Captain America movies The Winter Soldier and Civil War, and as another character named Emily in The Ring Two. Looking over her resume, she seems to excel in roles that have a sort of dark theme to them, and we can’t help but wonder if her role on Are You Afraid of the Dark had anything to do with her taking that path in her career.
Just like Ryan Cooley, VanCamp was also in the three-part episode called “The Tale of the Silver Sight”. She appears in part two of the episode as a little girl named Peggy who lives in the sewers with her family because her grandmother suddenly found herself facing financial troubles due to what almost seemed like a curse. The whole family is definitely creepy, and Peggy is no exception. In fact, she spends most of her screen time shoveling an obnoxious amount of sugar cubes into her tea, and somehow manages to make the task stranger than it actually should be.
4. Neve Campbell
Neve Campbell‘s acting resume is impressively long and stocked full of familiar TV shows and movies. Without a doubt, her most notable role was definitely Sidney Prescott in the horror series Scream; but other well known titles she was in include The Craft (1996), Wild Things (1998), Walter (2015), Panic (2000), and the TV show Party of Five. Just like almost everyone else on this list, her appearance in Are You Afraid of the Dark came early on in her career.
In 1994, Campbell portrayed a character named Nonnie Walker in the 13th episode of season 3, titled “Tale of the Dangerous Soup”. And no, that is not a typo. That is actually the name of the episode. Nonnie is a waitress in a restaurant that has a special soup called the dangerous soup, which costs $100 per bowl. The plot is very unique and eventually leads to a magical demon. The horror-like aspect of the episode is definitely an atmosphere that we’re familiar seeing Campbell in, but I can promise you that this particular role is something very different than you have seen her portray.
3. Gilbert Gottfried
Gilbert Gottfried has plenty of acting roles under his belt that you are probably familiar with. For one, he is the voice of Iago in Disney’s Aladdin. He was also in movies such as Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, and Dr. Dolittle. His TV roles include voice roles in The Fairly Oddparents (Dr. Bender), Family Guy (Peter’s horse), Beavis and Butthead (Gus Baker), and was even the voice of Otev in Big Brother 16. If none of these are shows or movies that you are familiar with, then maybe you know him from controversial comedy acts or the time he narrated the novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
Along side all those movies and shows, Gottfried’s resume has a guest role on Are You Afraid of the Dark on there as well. He appears in season 5 as a disc jockey named DJ Roy in the episode “The Tale of Station 109.1”. The character acts as a sort of guide to help dead people cross over into the afterlife, but it’s not the typical “guardian angel being helpful” kind of character. He’s actually quite the opposite, acting more like a disgruntled and annoyed worker. It’s an interesting take on death, that’s for sure; and definitely not something you would expect from a kid’s show.
2. Hayden Christensen
Star Wars fans known him as Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In the unlikely event that you do not know him in this role, then you have probably seen him in the movies Life as a House (2001), Jumper (2008), Awake (2007), or Takers (2010). These are only a select few of the many roles Hayden Christensen has played on the big screen. He also played the lead role in a television show called Higher Ground.
The rest of his TV show roles were limited to TV movies or guest appearances on a single episode of a show. His appearance on Are You Afraid of the Dark was no different, as he was in one episode of season 6, called “The Tale of Bigfoot Ridge”. Christensen plays as a character named Kirk who spends the episode trying to save his sister’s friend who has been missing in Bigfoot Ridge for some time. Plot twist: Bigfoot actually has nothing to do with the story! And (spoiler alert) unlike his role as Anakin Skywalker, he actually ends up being the hero.
1. Ryan Gosling
Finally, one of the biggest stars that Are You Afraid of the Dark saw in a guest appearance was none other than the man who played Noah Calhoun in The Notebook, Ryan Gosling. For those very few of you who have not seen that movie, you likely have seen Gosling portray characters in movies like Remember the Titans (2000), Drive (2011), Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), or Gangster Squad (2013). However, he does have a very long list of fantastic movies that he has acted in. Therefore, it’s always possible that what you are familiar with is one of his many other roles.
One of the roles you may not be familiar with is Jamie in the season 5 episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark called “The Tale of Station 109.1”. If that sound familiar, it’s because we just talked about Gilbert Gottfried’s role as DJ Roy in that very episode. Gosling plays the older brother of Chris, who is being mistaken by DJ Roy as someone who has died and needs to cross over. Naturally it’s Jamie who is the only hope to save Chris from being thrown into the afterlife, even though it’s pretty much his fault that Chris is there to begin with. The episode is strange and very open to different interpretations, which makes it all the more interesting. For being so early in Gosling’s acting career, he actually did fairly well in the role.
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