Dark Shadows is an American gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. The show was created by Dan Curtis. The story bible, which was written by Art Wallace, does not mention any supernatural elements. It was unprecedented in daytime television when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began.
The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared a year into its run. Dark Shadows also featured werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles (as actors came and went, some characters were played by more than one actor). Major writers besides Art Wallace included Malcolm Marmorstein, Sam Hall, Gordon Russell, and Violet Welles.
Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, numerous dramatic plot twists, unusually adventurous music score, and broad and epic cosmos of characters and heroic adventures. Now regarded as something of a classic, it continues to enjoy an intense cult following. Although the original series ran for only five years, its scheduling as a daily daytime drama allowed it to amass more single episodes during its run (1,225) than most other science-fiction/fantasy genre series produced for English-language television, including Doctor Who and the entire Star Trek television franchise. Only the paranormal soap opera Passions, with a total of 2,231 episodes, has more.
Directors Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino, and pop singer Madonna have publicly stated they are fans of the series. As a child, Johnny Depp was so obsessed with Barnabas Collins that he wanted to be him; he collaborated with Tim Burton on a theatrical film adaptation which opened in 2012, in which he plays Barnabas.
In 2004 and 2007, Dark Shadows was ranked #19 and #23 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever.