Scared to Death
Season 5, Episode 17
Air date March 18, 2013
Written by Shalisha Francis
Directed by Ron Underwood
Episode guide
"The Wild Rover"
Castle Season 5 cast
Season 5
Season 5 is now available on DVD.  

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Scared to Death[1] is the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of Castle.


When a young woman appears to have literally been scared to death three days after watching a "haunted" DVD, Castle and Beckett delve into one of their creepiest cases yet. To make matters worse, Castle becomes convinced that he too is marked for death when he accidentally watches the cursed video. Master of horror Wes Craven makes a special guest appearance.



Castle 5x17 Promo "Scared to Death" (HD)-000:20

Castle 5x17 Promo "Scared to Death" (HD)-0


Main Cast

Special Guest Star

Guest Cast


Castle: These are things used to ward off evil spirits... Like Perlmutter.
Perlmutter: I heard that
Perlmutter: Ah, Detective Beckett... And defective Castle
Esposito: How's a DVD going to kill you? Is it going to come at you like a ninja star? Cut your head off?
Castle: The actual DVD will not kill me, Esposito. It will be the spirit inside the DVD. Just like in The Ring.
Ryan: Ooh, ooh. The one with the creepy, waterlogged little girl that crawls out of the TV. I didn’t sleep for days after that movie.
Ryan: Oh. I'm--I'm sorry. What?
Esposito: Et tu, bro?
Castle: What did you say about the story being a legend?
Ryan: Um, well, uh, Jenny and I, we are trying to make a baby, so we're abiding by every superstition in the book.
Beckett: Okay. Fine. Here, Espo.
Esposito: Oh, nah. I c--I can't--I can't watch that. If I watch that, it's gonna make my partner out to be a wimp. And I can't have that.
Ryan: Thanks, bro.
Esposito: Yeah.
Beckett: This is so pathetic.
Beckett: You’re not buying into Castle’s spirit craziness, are you?
Esposito: No. You think I’m afraid of some old campfire story? I’m a grown-ass man.
Mitch: Need help?
Esposito: Ju-just so you know, um, that was me being startled, not scared.
Beckett: Okay, so... here’s to a job well done. And now you can finally get rid of this bucket... list... of yours
Castle: What’s that look for?
Beckett: ‘Be with Kate’? That’s your number one? When did you write this?
Castle: What like, three years ago? Ooh! I can cross that one off.

Featured Music


  • First item on Castle's bucket list is to "Be with Kate" and the list was made 3 years earlier. That was about the time she was with Tom Demming.
  • The Edvard Munch painting Castle talks about in the beginning of the investigation is Munch's 1893 "The Scream".
  • There are several homages to the horror movie/slasher genre, especially Wes Craven's work:
    • This is somewhat similar to the movie The Ring.
      • The victims were supposed to die within a certain amount of time (7 days in The Ring).
      • Images in the DVD lead to key locations to solve the mystery.
    • The victim is named "Val", which mimics the use of a gender-neutral name for the "final girl" main character of a slasher movie (Sidney in Scream).
    • Val called 911, and they were unable to help, as in Scream.
    • The killer is someone seemingly ordinary, and had a close relationship with some or all of the victims(Michael Myers in Halloween, Roman Bridger/Ghostface in Scream 3). They "fake out" the audience as someone non-threatening until the very end of the production (John Kramer/Jigsaw in the Saw series).
    • The victims who received the tape were killed in the order they were to give their testimonies, and resemble the "death orders" of movies like Final Destination and Nightmare on Elm Street.
    • Val's boyfriend is named Freddie and one of the victims is named Jason. Both names pay tribute to Freddie Krueger and Jason Voorhees from Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th respectively.
    • The main character consults other sources for advice and tips on how to survive or solve the case (Scream 1-3). Castle enlists Wes Craven and his Twitter followers to help locate the motel.
    • The witnesses were kept in rooms that ended in the number 13 (Friday the 13th). Thirteen is notoriously unlucky for Americans and is considered lucky for Europeans. 
    • The murder trial mentioned was at 1135 Elm [implied "Elm Street"] (Nightmare on Elm Street).
    • The serial killer Nigel Malloy is dead, but Castle believes his "spirit" has come back to take revenge (Friday the 13th, Chucky).
    • Nigel Malloy's nickname is the "Grim Reaper", another name for "Death" (Final Destination).
    • Nigel Malloy abducted his victims and "branded" them with certain symbols. He misled the police and kept them "running in circles". This is reminiscent of how Jigsaw would abduct his victims and take "puzzle pieces" from their bodies in the Saw series. Jigsaw also misled law enforcement and kept them guessing.
    • "Death is only/just the beginning" is a classic horror quote taken from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
    • Beckett says Nigel Malloy gives "a whole new meaning to the word psycho" (Psycho).
    • The shot of the insane asylum takes place during a dark and stormy night (including lightning).
    • Part of the episode takes place in an insane asylum.
    • On the murder board, the other witnesses to the trial are listed as Ryan is talking to Beckett on the phone. Including the two already killed and Mark Heller, there are a total of 13 witnesses for Nigel Malloy's trial.
    • Castle and Beckett travel to a "deserted" cabin in the woods with no cell phone reception. This mimics the setting of many horror stories, as well as nods to Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods.
    • Castle points out that "one" person always survives, and it's not the comic relief guy (Scream).
    • The lights go out.
    • Castle and Beckett split up at the cabin.
    • When Beckett is chasing down the nurse at the cabin, the shot is captured by the "shaky camera" effect used in movies like The Blair Witch Project.
    • The first three trial members hid key evidence in their confessions of Nigel Malloy by implicating David Collier as the murderer, and they "buried" that evidence, hoping that no one would ever know (I Know What You Did Last Summer).
    • The villain is a traumatized "anti-hero" who snapped, like Jason Voorhees, Ghostface, and others.
    • Ironically, Castle plays out the "final girl" role, as he is aware of the "threat of death", he pays incredible attention to minor details of the case, his friends don't believe him, he abstains from sex, and he subdues the killer single-handedly.
  • Wes Craven asks Castle if Stephen King beat him at Texas Hold 'em again.
  • An Amanda plotting revenge for the wrongful conviction of her father, David, is the key plot point of ABC's Revenge.
  • Apparently, Beckett and Castle like taking naughty pictures in bed.
  • Beckett playfully references her trick with ice cubes, which was first mentioned in 3x12's "Poof! You're Dead"
  • Nathan Fillion, who played Castle, previously appeared Wes Craven's produced-film Dracula 2000 as Father David.


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