Entertainment

Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV  

Ranker TV
Originally by
31k votes 3.4k voters 53.6k views 73 items

List Rules 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-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).

list ordered by
1
Tales from the Crypt is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
John Kassir, Roy Brocksmith, Miguel Ferrer
Tales from the Crypt, sometimes titled HBO's Tales from the Crypt, is an American horror anthology television series that ran from June 10, 1989, to July 19, 1996, on the premium cable channel ...more

More Tales from the Crypt

#161 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #521 of 729 The Best Cartoons of All Time #224 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

2
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts
The Twilight Zone is a 1959 American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. It is a series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, ...more

More The Twilight Zone

#83 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watchfeaturing Creepy Parallels Between 'American Horror Story' And 'The Twilight Zone' You Never Even Knew Existedlisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

3
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters
American Horror Story (FX, 2011) is an American anthology horror television series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, ...more

More American Horror Story

#22 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #13 of 180 The Best Shows Currently On The Airfeaturing 28 Facts You Didn't Know About American Horror Story

4
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi
The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by Chris Carter. The program originally aired from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002 on Fox, spanning nine ...more

More The X-Files

#16 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watchfeaturing 23 X-Files Storylines That Were Based on Real Life Storieslisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

5
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas
Hannibal is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is based on characters and elements appearing in the novel Red Dragon by ...more

More Hannibal

#147 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #315 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timefeaturing Every Food-Related Pun From ‘Hannibal’

6
Tales from the Darkside ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Paul Sparer
Tales from the Darkside is an American anthology horror TV series created by George A. Romero; it debuted in 1984. Similar to Amazing Stories, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, The Outer Limits, ...more

More Tales from the Darkside

#712 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #146 of 321 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time #6 of 70 The Creepiest Shows in TV History

7
Alfred Hitchcock Present... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Tyler, John Williams
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time the show premiered on October ...more

More Alfred Hitchcock Presents

#55 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #62 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

8
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies
The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more

More The Walking Dead

#3 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #1 of 180 The Best Shows Currently On The Airfeaturing 13 Infuriating Background Details In 'The Walking Dead' That Don't Make Any Sense

9
Are You Afraid of the Da... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
JaidenDalBello added Ross Hull, Raine Pare-Coull, Jodie Resther
Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a Canadian horror fantasy-themed anthology television series. The original series was created by D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel, and was picked up by Nickelodeon in ...more

More Are You Afraid of the Dark?

#13 of 103 The Best Nickelodeon Original Shows #817 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timefeaturing The Midnight Society From 'Are You Afraid Of The Dark?' - Where Are They Now

10
Goosebumps is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
HollyMiller added R.L. Stine, Kathryn Short, Cody Jones
Goosebumps is a Canadian horror fantasy anthology television series based on R. L. Stine's Goosebumps books. It was one of the two popular television horror anthology children's series in the ...more

More Goosebumps

#69 of 78 The Best Teen Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Seriesfeaturing Fan Theories About 'Goosebumps'listed on Jetix TV Shows/Programs

11
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy
Supernatural (The CW, 2005) is an American fantasy horror television series created by Eric Kripke. Two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), follow their father's ...more

More Supernatural

#17 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watchfeaturing Destiel vs. Wincest: A History Of Supernatural's Craziest Shipslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

12
The Outer Limits is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Kevin Conway, Joe Pascual
The Outer Limits is a US-Canadian television series that originally aired on Showtime, the Sci Fi Channel and in syndication between 1995 and 2002. The series is a revival of the original The ...more

More The Outer Limits

#322 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #29 of 75 The Best Syfy Original Showslisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

13
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MWM added Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas
Dexter is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also leads a secret life ...more

More Dexter

#5 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watchfeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Michael C. Hall And Jennifer Carpenter On 'Dexter'listed on Showtime TV Shows/Programs

14
Buffy the Vampire Slayer... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, James Marsters
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production ...more

More Buffy the Vampire Slayer

#43 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watchfeaturing Lame Buffy The Vampire Slayer Villains Who Could Only Happen In The '90slisted on UPN TV Shows/Programs

15
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot
Bates Motel is an American drama thriller television series developed for television by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano, and produced by Universal Television for the cable network ...more

More Bates Motel

#109 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #150 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #405 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

16
Night Gallery is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Rod Serling, Gary Collins
Night Gallery is an American anthology series that aired on NBC from 1970 to 1973, featuring stories of horror and the macabre. Rod Serling, who had gained fame from an earlier series, The ...more
17
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn
Twin Peaks (Showtime, 2017) is a miniseries that follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in a continuation of the original 1990 series, created by David Lynch.

More Twin Peaks

#94 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #105 of 180 The Best Shows Currently On The Air #49 of 115 The Best TV Shows Streaming On Hulu

18
Grimm is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
David Giuntoli, Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz
Grimm is an American police procedural fantasy television drama series. It debuted in the U.S. on NBC on October 28, 2011. The show has been described as "a cop drama—with a twist... a dark ...more

More Grimm

#159 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #274 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timefeaturing Shocking, R-Rated Details Found In The Original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

19
Friday the 13th: The Ser... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Colm Feore, Louise Robey, Chris Wiggins
Friday the 13th: The Series is an American-Canadian horror television series that ran for three seasons, from October 3, 1987 to May 26, 1990 in first-run syndication. The series follows Micki ...more

More Friday the 13th: The Series

#990 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #46 of 90 The Best TV Shows Based on Movies #30 of 70 The Creepiest Shows in TV History

20
Kolchak: The Night Stalk... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage
Kolchak: The Night Stalker is an American television series that aired on ABC during the 1974–1975 season. It featured a fictional Chicago newspaper reporter—Carl Kolchak, played by Darren ...more

More Kolchak: The Night Stalker

#8 of 206 The Best Single Season Canceled Shows #237 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #93 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time

21
Penny Dreadful is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MWM added Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green
Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 2014) is a British-American horror TV series created for Showtime and Sky by John Logan, who also acts as executive producer alongside Sam Mendes. The title refers to ...more

More Penny Dreadful

#137 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #773 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timefeaturing 12 Easter Eggs In 'Penny Dreadful' Designed For Brainy Viewers

22
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MWM added Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell
True Blood is an American television drama series produced and created by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the ...more

More True Blood

#29 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #259 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timefeaturing The Best True Blood Characters of All Time

23
Beyond Belief: Fact or F... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Mabie1 added Jonathan Frakes, Don LaFontaine, James Brolin
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction is an American television anthology series created by Lynn Lehmann, presented by Dick Clark Productions, and produced and aired by the Fox network from 1997 to ...more

More Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction

#196 of 319 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time #26 of 70 The Creepiest Shows in TV History #38 of 57 The Best Anthology TV Shows, Ranked

24
Sleepy Hollow is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Lyndie Greenwood
Sleepy Hollow is an American supernatural drama television series that premiered on Fox on September 16, 2013, that aired on Mondays at 9:00 pm ET. The series is considered a "modern-day ...more

More Sleepy Hollow

#196 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #172 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #67 of 114 The Best TV Shows Streaming On Hulu

25
Millennium is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Lance Henriksen, Megan Gallagher, Terry O'Quinn
Millennium is an American television series created by Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, that aired on the Fox Network between 1996 and 1999. The series follows the investigations of ex-FBI ...more

More Millennium

#538 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #312 of 1,177 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #175 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing