Nightmare Cafe is a short-lived American telefantasy program which aired on NBC for an abridged first season from January to April 1992. While the overall tone of the program was that of a mystical fantasy, it frequently incorporated elements of dark humor, horror, and even outright comedy. A total of six episodes were produced before low ratings led to its cancellation. The series has subsequently been shown on the Sci Fi Channel as part of their Series Collection.

Nightmare Cafe broadly concerns the inhabitants of the titular otherworldly café: mysterious proprietor Blackie, sarcastic but good-hearted cook Frank, and insecure yet gutsy waitress Fay. During the show's limited run, the origins of the café were never revealed, but it has the power to materialize in any location (much like the TARDIS in Doctor Who, albeit apparently without the ability to time-travel), and seems to be sentient on some level. The café is usually situated by a waterfront; when it changes its location, its inhabitants realize that they are about to be given a mission.

Nightmare Cafe is a show about second chances. Characters who enter the café - presumably drawn there by the café itself, as an embodiment of fate - are given the opportunity to correct something in their lives that went wrong, if they are morally good; or, if they are morally bad, to atone for something they have done or will do, sometimes against their will, and often incorporating poetic justice.

The café serves as both a central location for the action and as a plot catalyst, primarily by exerting its influence upon each episode's protagonist(s), or antagonist(s), to bring them into contact with the regulars. Aside from transporting itself from place to place in its entirety, once settled, it can also create portals between itself and various locations, which are traversed (often unexpectedly, on the whim of the café) by crossing the threshold of one of the café's many doorways. These portals are not even restricted to the Earth; the café can also travel to outer space and, apparently, even heaven, which hints at a supernatural origin. The café also has the ability to make both idle and heartfelt wishes come true, which of course are not always what the recipient actually wants or needs, and the café seems to take a perverse delight in "misinterpreting" such wishes. Frank and Fay often take advantage of this ability by wishing themselves from place to place; when this occurs, or when the café otherwise deems it important, those remaining in the dining room can watch the exploits of their companions on the (sometimes interactive) television set mounted in the far wall.

Creator Wes Craven's original concept for the series involved standalone episodes akin to The Twilight Zone or Amazing Stories, but with regular characters bookending the tales ("like Twilight Zone meets Cheers", as Craven often said in interviews). NBC gave Craven the green light, but when he prepared to write the pilot, he realized that he wanted the regular characters to also be the main characters. Despite the show being retooled before the pilot was even written, contemporary critics still often referred to Nightmare Cafe as a "supernatural/horror anthology" series.

The series itself was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, with the city waterfront doubling for the waterfront that served as the café's "home base". Although the production team originally toyed with the idea of filming in a real diner, that idea was eventually scrapped, and a set was built in Vancouver's North Shore Studios. The set was built to be mobile, as certain scripts called for parts of the cafe interior to appear in completely different locations; it was also built with a ceiling, unusual for television at the time, and each booth was given an authentic 1940s-era table jukebox, rented from a private collector.

The pilot episode of Nightmare Cafe was first "officially" aired on 28 February 1992 at 10 pm EST. However, NBC decided to lead off its new season of shows with a special "sneak preview" night, in which one of its new programs would be unveiled early, in order to generate advance buzz and get a jump on the season. That "secret" episode was the pilot of Nightmare Cafe, although in actuality it wasn't much of a surprise, since many TV writers had already disclosed which program was to be shown.

The pilot debuted to mixed — although overall positive — reviews, with comparisons drawn to the Nightmare on Elm Street series of movies (no doubt due to Craven and Englund's involvement), The Twilight Zone, Fantasy Island, Quantum Leap, Cheers, Moonlighting and Topper.

Robert Englund - Blackie
Jack Coleman - Frank Nolan
Lindsay Frost - Fay Peronivic