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Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV 

Ranker TV
Originally by
Updated March 26, 2020 31.1k votes 3.4k voters 54.1k views 73 items

List Rules Only scripted series—no reality shows.

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-FilesTwin Peaks, and The Walking Dead. Anthology series such as American Horror Story and The Terror offer fresh scares each season, and some seasons are scarier than others.

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. 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).

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26
Stranger Things is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Meadow Monioz added Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Premiered: 2016

Number of Seasons: 3

Network: Netflix

Stranger Things (Netflix, 2016) is an American science fiction-horror web television series created by The Duffer Brothers. When a young boy (Noah Schnapp) disappears, his mother (Winona Ryder), ...more

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27
The Haunting of Hill Hou... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Luke Albright added Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas
The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix, 2018) is an American supernatural horror television series created by Mike Flanagan, based on the novel by Shirley Jackson. The first season, The Haunting of ...more

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28
Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Meadow Monioz added Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 15

Number of Episodes: 324

Network: A&E, CBS

Criminal Minds (CBS, 2005) is an American police-procedural television program. The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia. The ...more

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29
Castle Rock is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Melanie Lynskey, Andre Holland, Jane Levy
Castle Rock (Hulu, 2018) is an American psychological horror web television series created by J. J. Abrams. Based on the stories of Stephen King, the series will intertwine characters and themes ...more

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30
American Horror Story: M... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters

Premiered: 2011

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Murder House is the first season of the FX television series American Horror Story, aired between October 5, 2011, through December 21, 2011. It centers on the Harmon ...more

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31
The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
The Exorcist Alfonso Herrera, Geena Davis, Ben Daniels
The Exorcist (Fox, 2016) is portrayed as a sequel to the 1973 film of the same name

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32
American Horror Story: F... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Michael Chiklis

Premiered: 2014

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Freak Show is the fourth season of the FX horror anthology TV series American Horror Story. It premiered on October 8, 2014 and concluded on January 21, 2015. The season ...more
33
Hemlock Grove is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgård, Landon Liboiron

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 13

Hemlock Grove is an American Netflix original horror thriller television series. Executive produced by Eli Roth, developed by Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman, and a production of Gaumont ...more
34
American Horror Story: H... is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters

Premiered: 2015

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Hotel is the fifth season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story. It premiered on October 7, 2015, and concluded January 13, 2016. The plot ...more

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35
Angel is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 110

Network: The WB Television Network

Angel is an American television series, a spin-off from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series was created by Buffy's creator, Joss Whedon, in collaboration with David ...more

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36
American Horror Story: C... is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson

Premiered: 2017

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Cult is the seventh season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story. It premiered on September 5, 2017. Ally (Sarah Paulson) suffers a crippling ...more
37
American Horror Story: A... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson

Premiered: 2012

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Asylum is the second season of the FX horror television series American Horror Story. It originally aired from October 17, 2012 to January 23, 2013. The season begins in ...more

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38
Creepshow is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
David Arquette, Adrienne Barbeau, Tobin Bell

Premiered: 2019

Network: Shudder

Creepshow (Shudder, 2019) is an American horror anthology television series and a continuation of the first two films in the Creepshow franchise. Each episode of the series features two stories, ...more
39
The Following is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 15

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

The Following is an American television drama series created by Kevin Williamson and jointly produced by Outerbanks Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television. The first season follows former FBI ...more

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40
The Hitchhiker is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Nicholas Collins, Mark Henein, Spin Shannon

Premiered: 1983

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 85

Network: HBO

The Hitchhiker is a mystery anthology series that aired from 1983 to 1987 on HBO and First Choice in Canada. The series later moved to the USA Network from 1989 to 1991. It was known as Le ...more
41
American Horror Story: A... is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adina Porter

Premiered: 2018

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Apocalypse is the eighth season of the FX anthology series American Horror Story. It premiered on September 12, 2018. In the future, missiles have destroyed the world and ...more
42
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole

Premiered: 2008

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 100

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

Fringe is an American science fiction television series created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. It premiered on the Fox Broadcasting network on September 9, 2008, and concluded ...more

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43
The Incredible Hulk is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MWM added Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin

Premiered: 1977

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 82

Network: CBS, NBC

The Incredible Hulk is an American television series based on the Marvel Comics character The Hulk. The series aired on the CBS television network and starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David Bruce ...more

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44
American Horror Story: C... is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Sarah Paulson, Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy

Premiered: 2013

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Coven is the third season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story. It premiered on October 9, 2013, and concluded on January 29, 2014. The ...more
45
The Terror is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Derek Mio, George Takei, Jared Harris

Premiered: 2018

Network: AMC

The Terror (AMC, 2018) is an anthology television series created by David Kajganich and Soo Hugh, based on the novel by Dan Simmons. The first season follows a crew of a Royal Naval expedition ...more

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46
American Horror Story: R... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Premiered: 2016

Network: FX

American Horror Story: Roanoke is the sixth season of the FX horror anthology series American Horror Story. It premiered on September 14, 2016, and concluded on November 16, 2016. Presented as a ...more

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47
American Gothic is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
dee123 added Gary Cole, Lucas Black, Paige Turco

Premiered: 1995

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 22

Network: CBS

American Gothic is an American horror series created by Shaun Cassidy and executive producer Sam Raimi. The show first aired on CBS on September 22, 1995, and was cancelled after a single season ...more

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48
Falling Skies is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
LanaYoshii added Noah Wyle, Drew Roy, Maxim Knight

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 10

Network: TNT

Falling Skies is an American science fiction post-apocalyptic dramatic television series created by Robert Rodat and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. The series stars Noah Wyle as Tom ...more

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49
Thriller is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Boris Karloff, Dick York

Premiered: 1960

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 67

Network: NBC

Thriller is an American anthology television series that aired during the 1960–61 and 1961–62 seasons on NBC. The show featured host Boris Karloff introducing a mix of macabre horror tales and ...more
50
Two Sentence Horror Stor... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Nicole Kang, Jim Parrack, Aleyse Shannon

Premiered: 2017

Network: The CW, CW Seed

Two Sentence Horror Stories (CW Seed, 2017) is an American horror anthology television series. The themes tap into universal primal fears, filtered through the anxieties of the most connected ...more