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Tales of the Unexpected (1979–1988)

TV Series  |   |  Horror, Thriller
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 764 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 3 critic

Dramatizations of many Roald Dahl short stories.

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
 Himself - Introduced by (32 episodes, 1979-1985)


A British anthology series featuring tales of horror, mystery and suspense. Most episodes featured a twist ending, and many of them were based on short stories by well-known writer Roald Dahl, who also served as the show's host during its first two seasons. Written by Marty McKee <mmckee@wkio.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Horror | Thriller


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Release Date:

24 March 1979 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected  »

Filming Locations:


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Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The series dramatized a selection of Roald Dahl's short stories. See more »


Referenced in The 100 Greatest Scary Moments (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Enjoyable Diversions
28 August 2015 | by (Big D) – See all my reviews

I'd never heard of this series then one day a couple years back I noticed an episode on youtube and watched it. I enjoyed it and watched another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And.. well, you get my drift. It became like a bag of chips, you can't eat just one, your hand just keeps drifting into the bag almost without thinking when you finish one then pull out another and start on it. Eventually over about a week I'd watched all 112 (I think it was 112 total) episodes. I liked it enough to compile my own list of what I think the top 12 Tales of the Unexpected (TOTU) episodes are. They are:

The very best episode of this series is called:

"The Flypaper"

The remaining top 12 TOTU episodes are (in order):

(2) "Number Eight"

(3) "Wink Three Times"

(4) "The Open Window"

(5) "The Way Up To Heaven"

(6) "The Luncheon"

(7) "Bosom Friends"

(8) "Scrimshaw"

(9) "Nothing' Short of Highway Robbery"

(10) "Who's Got The Lady"

(11) "Back For Christmas"

(12) "The Landlady"

I have to give a shout-out to the episode titled "The Luncheon" (which I've ranked the 6th best episode of the series). When I first watched it I didn't catch all of it. I had to re watch it a couple times to realize how clever this particular episode really is.

And, really I should give a shout-out to all these great top 12 episodes. "Scrimshaw" is so so well done. "Bosom Friends" still makes me shudder with a different kind of squirmy horror, you'll see what I mean, "Nothing' Short of Highway Robbery" with its delightfully surprising ending, the fun of seeing it coming in "Back for Christmas", the creepyiness of "The Landlady", the smoothness and coolness of "Who's Got The Lady", the delightfully confusingness till the end of "The Open Window", how crazy the man is in "Number Eight", the psychological twistedness of "The Way Up To Heaven", and finally the delighfully something completely different in "Wink Three Times" that gives this episode cake its icing.

And now here is something regarding the remaining 100 episodes in the series, there was one thing I noticed about this series, and that is that clearly a full one half of the episodes, 50 percent or better of the episodes have one common theme unifying them, and that is that half of the episodes of this series feature marital strife in one form or another. This series seems to have mined that particular mine field repeatedly as it's go-to plot structure when choosing which stories to script and film for the series. Thats not a bad thing, but one does eventually get tired of watching Ma vs. Pa and Daddy fussing with Mommy and Honey Bunch rubbing Honey Do the wrong way over and over and over. In these days of marriage equality, if one had this series to study and nothing else to study in order to learn about human marriage, one might not think marriage was all that great.

Watch my top 12 TOTU episodes. I suggest you watch these top 12 episodes NOT in ranked order from the top of the list down to the bottom of the list or vice versa, instead watch them in the order they were originally broadcast and you will find its more enjoyable to watch the series mature and unfold in that much better way. So, watch them in this order:

The Landlady (1979) s1e5 - **The Landlady** Ranked #12 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

The Way Up to Heaven (1979) s1e9 - **The Way Up To Heaven** Ranked #5 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

Back for Christmas (1980) s2e14 - **Back For Christmas** Ranked #11 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

The Flypaper (1980) s3e1 - **The Flypaper ** Ranked #1, Best Episode of the TOTU Series

Bosom Friends (1981) s4e14 - ** Bosom Friends** Ranked #7 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

Who's Got the Lady? (1982) s5e17 - **Who's Got The Lady** Ranked #10 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

The Luncheon (1983) s6e10 - ** The Luncheon** Ranked #6 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

Number Eight (1984) s7e5 - **Number Eight** Ranked #2 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

The Open Window (1984) s7e15 - **The Open Window** Ranked #4 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

Nothing' Short of Highway Robbery (1985) s8e3 - Ranked #9 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

Scrimshaw (1985) s8e4 - **Scrimshaw** Ranked #8 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

Wink Three Times (1988) s9e6 - **Wink Three Times** Ranked #3 in the Top Twelve TOTU Episodes

You can find that list of mine here:

Tales of the Unexpected - The Top Twelve Episodes.



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