The Scariest TV Shows Ever TV Programs
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The Scariest TV Shows Ever

List Criteria: Scripted TV shows only, please (no Reality TV).

The scariest TV shows manage to provide major frights with excellent drama. Unlike these excellent paranormal reality TV shows, the programs listed here are primarily scripted TV shows. Which TV shows gave you the most scares? Vote for your favorites, vote down any that didn't send you diving under the couch in fear and feel free to re-rank this list, too.

Some of the best scary TV shows are also, not surprisingly, among the greatest TV shows of all time. In addition to being one of the most frightening television shows ever made, 'The Twilight Zone' was also one of the best TV shows ever, period. The same can be said for the likes of 'The X-Files,' 'Twin Peaks' and relative newcomer 'The Walking Dead.'

What makes a scary TV show great? A fantastic, compelling storyline and frightening characters, for sure, but don't underestimate the power of some wicked special effects, too. Some shows on this list also qualify as taut psychological thrillers, but it doesn't mean they aren't genuinely terrifying at times.

If you haven't seen some of the scariest TV shows listed here, you might be able to find them quickly: A few are among the best streaming Netflix TV shows, including 'American Horror Story,' 'Supernatural,' 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' 'Twin Peaks' and 'The X-Files.' Sadly, some of the shows on this list were canceled way before their time, though some bit the dust with good reason ('Cult'? Really? Awful, CW, just awful).
  • 12 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 200
    - 129

    most listed Morgan Freeman, Rod Serling, John McGiver

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 191
    - 143

    Gillian Anderson, Lucy Lawless, David Duchovny

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 210
    - 115
    ) open
  4. 4
    + 241
    - 102

    the people's #1 but ranked low on reranks Emma Roberts, Jessica Lange, Connie Britton

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 98
    - 143

    often listed & ranked high on reranks David McCallum, Kevin Conway, Beau Bridges

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 221
    - 127

    Lauren Cohan, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 87
    - 143

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 116
    - 98

    Alfred Hitchcock

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 148
    - 132

    Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eliza Dushku, Alyson Hannigan

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 145
    - 123

    Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 106
    - 73

    added by wiabux Bates Motel

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 116
    - 105

    Gillian Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Hugh Dancy

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 96
    - 102
    ) open
  14. 14
    + 96
    - 91

    Rod Serling, Gary Collins

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 64
    - 76

    added by wiabux Matthew McConaughey, Virginia Madsen, Raymond Burr

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 62
    - 127

    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 70
    - 117

    Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Amy Acker

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 41
    - 121

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Noomi Rapace, Charles Nelson Reilly, Lance Henriksen

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 87
    - 98

    Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Ruth McDevitt

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 75
    - 111

    Claire Coffee, Bitsie Tulloch, David Giuntoli

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 52
    - 54

    added by JaidenDalBello Elisha Cuthbert, Joanna García, Vanessa Lengies

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 64
    - 93

    Colm Feore, Louise Robey, Chris Wiggins

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 58
    - 104

    Katie Cassidy, Cameron Richardson, Christopher Gorham

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 36
    - 77

    added by MarkusMarquisBiechl Grace Park, James Brolin, Christopher Titus

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 34
    - 78

    added by myers1978 Tyler Hoechlin, Colton Haynes, Jill Wagner

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 25
    - 61

    added by dee123 Sarah Paulson, Gary Cole, Nick Searcy

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 2
    - 1

    new! Boris Karloff, Dick York

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 35
    - 37

    ranked low on reranks & added by HollyMiller Kathryn Long

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 14
    - 50

    added by dee123 Bruce Greenwood, Luisana Lopilato, Thomas Kretschmann

    ) open
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