Entertainment
3.5k voters

Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV

Updated January 11, 2021 22.7k votes 3.5k voters 55.8k views75 items

List RulesOnly 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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  • American Horror Story1
    911
    441

    American Horror Story

    Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott

    Premiered2011

    American Horror Story (FX, 2011) is an American anthology horror television series created by...  more

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  • Tales from the Crypt2
    729
    430

    Tales from the Crypt

    John Kassir, Roy Brocksmith

    Premiered1989

    Tales from the Crypt, sometimes titled HBO's Tales from the Crypt, is an American horror...  more

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  • The Twilight Zone3
    655
    439

    The Twilight Zone

    Rod Serling, Robert McCord

    Premiered1959

    The Twilight Zone is a 1959 American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. It is...  more

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  • The Walking Dead4
    663
    465

    The Walking Dead

    Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal

    Premiered2010

    The Walking Dead (AMC, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series...  more

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  • Supernatural5
    592
    396

    Supernatural

    Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

    Premiered2005

    Supernatural (The CW, 2005) is an American fantasy horror television series created by Eric...  more

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  • Hannibal6
    598
    455

    Hannibal

    Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen

    Premiered2013

    Hannibal (NBC, 2013) is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed...  more

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  • The X-Files7
    604
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    The X-Files

    David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson

    Premiered1993

    The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by Chris...  more

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  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?8
    374
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    Are You Afraid of the Dark?

    Ross Hull, Raine Pare-Coull

    Premiered1991

    Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a Canadian horror fantasy-themed anthology television series....  more

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  • Tales from the Darkside9
    391
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    Premiered1983

    Tales from the Darkside is an American anthology horror TV series created by George A. Romero;...  more

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  • Channel Zero10
    133
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    Channel Zero

    Paul Schneider, Fiona Shaw

    Premiered2016

    Channel Zero (Syfy, 2017) is an American horror anthology television series created by Nick...  more
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents11
    399
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    Alfred Hitchcock Presents

    Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Tyler

    Premiered1955

    Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred...  more

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  • Goosebumps12
    314
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    Goosebumps

    R.L. Stine, Kathryn Short

    Premiered1995

    Goosebumps is a Canadian horror fantasy anthology television series based on R. L. Stine's...  more

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  • Bates Motel13
    227
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    Bates Motel

    Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore

    Premiered2013

    Bates Motel (A&E, 2013) is an American psychological horror drama television series based on...  more

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  • Dexter14
    237
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    Dexter

    Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter

    Premiered2006

    Dexter (Showtime, 2006) is an American crime drama mystery series developed by James Manos...  more

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  • Night Gallery15
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    Night Gallery

    Rod Serling, Gary Collins

    Premiered1970

    Night Gallery is an American anthology series that aired on NBC from 1970 to 1973, featuring...  more
  • The Outer Limits16
    302
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    The Outer Limits

    Bob Johnson, Ben Wright

    Premiered1963

    The Outer Limits (ABC, 1963) is an American horror and speculative fiction anthology...  more

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  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer17
    354
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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan

    Premiered1997

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB, 1997) is an American supernatural drama television series...  more

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  • Twin Peaks18
    256
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    Twin Peaks

    Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn

    Premiered1990

    Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990) is an American mystery horror drama television series created by Mark...  more

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  • The Haunting of Hill House19
    50
    14

    The Haunting of Hill House

    Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino

    Premiered2018

    The Haunting of Hill House is the first season of the Netflix supernatural anthology...  more

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  • Friday the 13th: The Series20
    186
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    Friday the 13th: The Series

    Colm Feore, Louise Robey

    Premiered1987

    Friday the 13th: The Series is an American-Canadian horror television series that ran for...  more

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  • Stranger Things21
    63
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    Stranger Things

    Winona Ryder, David Harbour

    Premiered2016

    Stranger Things (Netflix, 2016) is an American science fiction-horror web television series...  more

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  • Criminal Minds22
    55
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    Criminal Minds

    Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler

    Premiered2005

    Criminal Minds (CBS, 2005) is an American police-procedural television program. The series...  more

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  • Penny Dreadful23
    137
    136

    Penny Dreadful

    Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton

    Premiered2014

    Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 2014) is a British-American horror drama television series created...  more

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  • So Weird24
    107
    135

    So Weird

    Cara DeLizia, Mackenzie Phillips

    Premiered1999

    So Weird is an American-Canadian television series that aired on the Disney Channel as a...  more

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  • Grimm25
    208
    285

    Grimm

    David Giuntoli, Silas Weir Mitchell

    Premiered2011

    Grimm (NBC, 2011) is an American fantasy police procedural drama television series created by...  more

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