Ghost stories are not unknown in Daria fanfiction, but they are not often seen. A typical mainstream ghost story involves the discovery of a dead person's spirit who attempts to right a wrong, exact vengeance against its murderer in life, offer advice, warn of coming doom, or perpetuate evil. Sometimes a ghost can communicate only with psychically gifted people, and it might be attached to a specific place (e.g., haunted house), object, or person. A ghost might take possession of a living person under certain conditions, having the body act as the spirit's own to accomplish an important task. In psychological horror tales, the ghost might exist only in the mind of the beholder.
Ghost Stories in Daria Canon
A ghost story of sorts exists in Daria canon, in the fourth-season episode "A Tree Grows in Lawndale." Though the cheerleaders believe the spirit of Tommy Sherman haunts the high school after Kevin Thompson destroys a memorial tree named for the deceased (who was killed in "The Misery Chick"), no such haunting apparently occurs. However, the supernatural blooming of a flower at the episode's end leaves open the possibility that Tommy's spirit was indeed still around.
In "Ill," Daria has a dream in which she is visited by the ghost of a woman who last used the hospital bed in which Daria rests, but it turns out the woman was quite alive after all. Sick, Sad World had a story about "ghost hookers in the sky" in "Partner's Complaint," but thankfully nothing was done with it.
Ghost Stories in Daria Fanfiction
Many Daria ghost stories are of the non-horror variety, or at least contain large doses of comedy. Crossover and derivative tales are common. Peter Guerin's "The Prepaid Phone Card Call of Tommy Sherman" and Patrick Moore's "The Haunting of Lawndale High" are both crossovers with one or more versions of the Ghostbusters franchise; they are comedy-adventures. "Daria's Christmas Carol," by Admonisher, is written in the spirit (sorry) of Charles Dickens's original tale, with the ghosts warning Daria of peril unless she changes her ways.
Kristen Bealer presents a different take on ghost stories in "A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing," in which Daria tells a spooky story solely for the purpose of driving people away. One is pleasantly reminded of Saki's "The Open Window."
Far more dangerous and malign apparitions appear in E. A. Smith's "Seven Days" (a crossover with The Ring); Crusading Saint's "Shadows and Secrets"; "Illusions," by CharlieGirl, The Angst Guy, and Angelinhel; "Sudden Death Overtime" (a spin-off from "A Tree Grows in Lawndale"), by TAG; and "Sea's Sorrow," by Diane Long. Driven by sheer wickedness or undying vengeance, these spirits manifest in different ways to control, stalk, or kill their human victims. Possession of the living and the manipulation of physical objects as weapons, as a poltergeist does, are favored techniques. Areas haunted by dangerous spirits often project a disturbing aura of wrongness that sensitive or observant people can detect, hopefully in enough time to warn them of the menace.
An important aspect of mainstream ghost stories is for the protagonists to find a way to exorcise (once called "laying") restless spirits, so they haunt no more. However, true to the ghost story's roots in horror, this often proves difficult and is subject to unexpected failure against extremely potent undead. Several of the stories above feature this catastrophic outcome.
- "Ill" transcript on Outpost Daria Reborn
- "A Tree Grows in Lawndale" transcript on Outpost Daria Reborn
- "Always Beside You," by TAG
- "Daria's Christmas Carol," by Admonisher
- "The Haunting of Lawndale High," a crossover by Patrick Moore
- "Illusions," by CharlieGirl, TAG, and Angelinhel
- "A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing," by Kristen Bealer
- "The Other," by TAG (unfinished)
- "The Prepaid Phone Card Call of Tommy Sherman," a crossover by Peter Guerin
- "Sea's Sorrow," by Diane Long (illustrated)
- "Seven Days," a crossover by E. A. Smith
- "Sudden Death Overtime," by TAG