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).
  • 11 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    Up 189
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    most listed Morgan Freeman, Rod Serling, John McGiver

  2. 2
    Up 178
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    Gillian Anderson, Lucy Lawless, David Duchovny

  3. 3
    Up 220
    Down 90

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

  4. 4
    Up 185
    Down 107

    John Kassir

  5. 5
    Up 93
    Down 130

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

  6. 6
    Up 210
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    Lauren Cohan, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln

  7. 7
    Up 133
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    Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eliza Dushku, Alyson Hannigan

  8. 8
    Up 83
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn

  9. 9
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    Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins

  10. 10
    Up 106
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    Alfred Hitchcock

  11. 11
    Up 100
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    added by wiabux Bates Motel

  12. 12
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    Gillian Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Hugh Dancy

  13. 13
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    Paul Sparer

  14. 14
    Up 90
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    Rod Serling, Gary Collins

  15. 15
    Up 55
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    added by wiabux Matthew McConaughey, Virginia Madsen, Raymond Burr

  16. 16
    Up 57
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    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

  17. 17
    Up 40
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Noomi Rapace, Charles Nelson Reilly, Lance Henriksen

  18. 18
    Up 72
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    Claire Coffee, Bitsie Tulloch, David Giuntoli

  19. 19
    Up 65
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    Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Amy Acker

  20. 20
    Up 82
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    Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Ruth McDevitt

  21. 21
    Up 40
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    added by JaidenDalBello Elisha Cuthbert, Joanna García, Vanessa Lengies

  22. 22
    Up 59
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    Colm Feore, Louise Robey, Chris Wiggins

  23. 23
    Up 56
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    Katie Cassidy, Cameron Richardson, Christopher Gorham

  24. 24
    Up 33
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    added by myers1978 Tyler Hoechlin, Colton Haynes, Jill Wagner

  25. 25
    Up 34
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    added by MarkusMarquisBiechl Grace Park, James Brolin, Christopher Titus

  26. 26
    Up 24
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    added by dee123 Sarah Paulson, Gary Cole, Nick Searcy

  27. 27
    Up 27
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    added by HollyMiller Kathryn Long

  28. 28
    Up 14
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    added by dee123 Bruce Greenwood, Luisana Lopilato, Thomas Kretschmann

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