Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (1997 – 2002) – Horror TV Shows We Miss

The Horror TV Shows We Miss series takes a look back at the anthology show Beyond Belief: Fact of Fiction, hosted by Jonathan Frakes

There is nothing that excites me more than seeing Jonathan Frakes. Yes, that’s Riker from Star Trek: Next Gen, but it’s also JONATHAN FRAKES from Beyond Belief. My best friend and I used to sit in bed and watch Beyond Belief while eating Chicken Biscuits with squeeze cheese. We were slightly obsessed. Not with just the show and Jonathan Frakes, but also with narrator Don LaFontaine and the research work of author Robert Tralins. This was our A-Team.

The series was created by Lynn Lehman, whose only other credit was an acting role in 1976’s Guardian of the Wilderness. The show was like a mysterious puzzle for the audience. Each episode presented a collection of short stories, ranging from paranormal encounters to bizarre coincidences. Viewers were treated to tales of kids being total dicks, like pulling pranks that bordered on the supernatural, or the haunting ghost of a woman seeking revenge on her cheating husband. There were also stories of a grandma who seemed to receive visions through her garden, and others narrowly escaping tragedy thanks to what seemed like divine intervention. What made it awesome was the mix of reality and fiction – some stories were grounded in reality, while others were pure imagination, inspired by the works of Tralins and other sources. The challenge for viewers was to separate fact from fantasy.

I’ve watched TV hosts a plenty and Frakes would be in the upper echelon. Dare I say, he could carry himself in the same way that Rod Serling did. Both were captivating and charismatic on screen, drawing viewers in with their thought-provoking monologues. They made you feel like you were part of the journey they were presenting, even when the tales became haunting. Despite the eerie narratives, their presence made you feel safe and intrigued to explore the mysteries unfolding before you. And beyond their hosting skills, they’re the kind of guys you’d want to hang out with, just shooting the shit and sharing stories. I mean, you saw Frakes holding that guitar, right? Oh, we also have to mention Frakes Thoughts. Most of you likely caught wind of this from the supercut in 2019 from Zane Golia though it was thought that the earliest version of this came out in 2011. Seems right. How amazing and hilarious was that? Have you ever lost yourself in the world of professional wrestling? How much money would it take for you to spend a night in a cemetery? Can you remember the tallest man you’ve ever seen?

Alright, let’s get to the episode section of this love letter to Beyond Belief.

Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction


The first two episodes are from season 1, episode 2, hosted by James Brolin. While he set the stage quite nicely, it’s fair to say he paved the way for Frakes to shine even brighter in later seasons.

Let’s start with The Viewing. Adam, played by Erik Christen Olsen (name drop), is left at his parents’ funeral home for the evening and gets a persistent visitor from beyond the grave. This one always stuck with me because many of us have stories or feel like we’ve had our own brush with the supernatural. Weird happenings after someone passes that you just can’t quite explain. Now, I can’t say that I’ve ever had anything this surreal ever happen like, but I’ve heard weirder. There’s also something kind of comforting about the man coming back to make sure he is buried with something he cherishes. This one turned out to be derived from a true story. Even better, the Hannon couple were played by Ron and Clint Howard’s parents, Rance and Jean.

The next one up is Kid in the Closet. I have a feeling that several of you already know which one I’m talking about. Young Danny is convinced that a monster has been living in his closet. His mom and sister think he’s just imagining things, since monsters aren’t real, right? But his older brother Brian not only bullies him about this but also gets the neighborhood kids to bully him into oblivion as well. After getting sick of it, Danny dares his brother to go in the closet himself, and guess what, Brian disappears. Monsters hidden somewhere in the house aren’t a new trope. You’ve got fireplace goblins in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark or the coolest monster buddy, Maurice in Little Monsters. Maybe you even had your own imaginary creature living under your bed. We do not want to talk about the demon that lived in the crawlspace above Grandma’s room. As for the kid in the closet, that story was actually sorta true as well. The kid did disappear but was actually just a few blocks away at his friend’s house hiding out. There was a hidden panel that no one knew about or discovered and he took off that way. Regardless, if you would have seen this when you were a kiddo it would have turned you into a believer.

Grave Sitting (Season 2, ep 7): We’ve all experienced some kind of nighttime cemetery hijinx. Okay, I kind of broadly stroked that assumption. Mine took place in the daytime and that didn’t make it any less creepy. This one is built like an R.L. Stine or Christopher Pike novel. Dustin and Crystal are on a drive after Melissa got ditched again by Gary. Melissa, if Gary ghosts you every Friday it’s time to move on. Anyway, as they talk about Melissa’s boy problems, Crystal suddenly shouts, “CEMETERY!” Dustin then goes on to tell the tale of Wilbur Lister, a serial killer who murdered 22 teen girls and buried them under his house. He then goes further to challenge Melissa to go out into the cemetery to hang out with the grave of Wilbur for a couple of hours and when she’s done to plunge the knife into the grave. Guess he had a random carving knife on him? While Dustin and Crystal use this opportunity to begin a heavy petting session, Melissa starts hearing noises. No, it’s not Dustin. He’s sucking Crystal’s entire face off. Melissa winds up stabbing the knife into the grave because she wants that hundo, but not before she meets an untimely fate. As I mentioned before, this one sounds like a YA novel setup because it was a work of fiction, but the idea of it still kinda freaks me out.

Kirby (Season 2, ep 8): What happens in the WETA Workshop stays in the WETA workshop. Alright, not quite, but what if an animatronic did have a mind of its own? Ted Beeman is working on what might be his greatest creation yet, an animatronic gorilla named Kirby. Ted’s boss, Perry becomes increasingly upset with Ted as the gorilla is not yet finished. Ted tells him there’s some tweaks that still need to be done, but his boss goes the asshole route, calls him a nerd, tells him that he’s a weirdo who spends too much time with Kirby, and then proceeds to threaten him with termination. Ted heads out for the night, feeling defeated, and makes sure to switch off Kirby and takes the control board with him. Perry comes back to the studio after hours and starts messing around with Kirby’s controls to find that he seems to be functioning just fine. Perry, talking to himself, says he’s going to deliver Kirby to the studio tomorrow and fire Ted on the spot. As Perry tries to shut down Kirby, he finds that Kirby is out for vengeance. Ted comes back in the morning to find that Perry had died due to a broken neck after falling off some stairs, but when he notices that Kirby is not in the same spot he left him, he starts to ponder if Kirby was the killer. While this story was actually fiction, if you ever had a birthday at Showbiz Pizza or its animatronic pals equivalent, the idea of those characters coming to life has been in your head ever since then. Is Billy Bob going to rip my arms off? Probably not, but just the thought of it was downright terrifying as a kid. What about the T-Rex from Jurassic Park eating your family? I mean, there’s Five Nights at Freddy’s and it’s some cool lore shit for 10-12 year olds, but that was your nightmare as a child. No jab at Five Nights, it’s actually pretty awesome in my opinion. I’m more team Poppy Playtime or Garten of Banban though.

Room 245 (Season 4, ep 5): Is it a conspiracy, a reality glitch, or just a case of amnesia? Rena’s spontaneous hotel stop to give her sick mom some rest takes an unexpected twist. Initially turned away due to a town convention, she miraculously secures Room 245 at the last minute. After settling her mom in and calling a doctor who diagnoses a bacterial infection, Rena rushes out to grab the prescription. But when she returns, she’s met with an empty room, a missing mom, and bewildered staff who claim no memory of her check-in. It’s one of those spine-tingling tales that makes you question your own sanity and reality, like something straight out of The Twilight Zone, echoing episodes such as “Mirror Mirror” and “A World of Difference.” You might have even read a similar version of this one called, Maybe You Will Remember in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Volume 3. Though the story is presented as fact, it’s been subject to numerous debates, with some suggesting it’s merely a combination of various other narratives, thus earning its place as a prominent urban legend. This particular story has a way of sticking with you, leaving behind a sense of unease, and maybe even prompting a bit of self-reflection on your own past.

I’m not gunna lie. I wish I could add the majority of these episodes. Who knows? Maybe one day we can watch them one by one on Twitch or something, and you can listen to me give colorful commentary and choke while laughing.

Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction

Where to watch?

Right now, you can binge it all on Prime. If you aren’t into subs then you’ll be able to find the series on YouTube. For my physical media folks, you can get season one on DVD.

What happened?

The show was sadly cancelled in 2002 after its long run starting initially in 1997. The show had run its course and Fox was off to make room for shows like John Doe and Celebrity Boxing. Firefly also had its debut that year but, well, it’s still a sore subject. Fun fact: Jewel Staite makes an appearance in the episode titled, The Fine Line. Undeclared was also a favorite, but I digress, if I keep this going we’ll be here for 7 zurls. Chiller ran the series from 2009-2015 which is where I ended up picking up a lot of the episodes I had missed. NOW, there was a fifth season produced exclusively for the German audience as they are absolute superfans of the series. X-Factor: Das Unfassbare premiered new episodes in 2022. We got a glimpse of some of those episodes in 2023 when Holger B. Frick uploaded a trailer on YouTube. He mentioned in the comments that they had not only season five, but also season six in the bag with a whopping 80 stories to eventually come our way. About a month ago, Frick dropped another trailer with the hopes that the series would be in talks to come back to the US, like, anytime now. If you are fortunate enough to have RTL+ in Germany, then you are one of the chosen ones. Both trailers for the new series bring a slight tear to my eye. We’re bringing the band back together! I wonder if we spam this video if we can get the new episodes sooner. It’s totally possible. I have faith.


Did you sift through the nostalgia without emotion, or did we leave you craving more? Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction isn’t just a show; it’s an immersive experience that challenges our perceptions and keeps us on the edge of our seats. As we revisit our favorite tales, we’re reminded of how truth and fiction often intertwine in unexpected ways, blurring the lines between reality and imagination. It’s this captivating blend that sets Beyond Belief apart, riveting audiences and leaving them eager for the next twist. Is Beyond Belief one of the greatest anthology series ever, or am I just weaving tales of grandeur? I’m Niki Minter.

A couple previous episodes of Horror TV Shows We Miss can be seen below. If you’d like to see more, and check out the other shows we have to offer, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

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