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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 54k 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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1
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 103

Network: FX

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

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2
Tales from the Crypt is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
John Kassir, Roy Brocksmith, Miguel Ferrer

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 93

Network: HBO

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

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3
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts

Premiered: 1959

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 156

Network: UPN, CBS

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

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4
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 144

Network: AMC

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

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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

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 13

Network: NBC

Hannibal (NBC, 2013) is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller. The series is based on characters and elements appearing in the novel Red Dragon by ...more

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6
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 15

Number of Episodes: 318

Network: The WB Television Network, The CW Television Network

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

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7
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Premiered: 1993

Number of Seasons: 11

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

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

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8
Tales from the Darkside ... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Paul Sparer

Premiered: 1983

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 90

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
9
Alfred Hitchcock Present... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Tyler, John Williams

Premiered: 1955

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 361

Network: CBS, NBC

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

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10
Are You Afraid of the Da... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
JaidenDalBello added Ross Hull, Raine Pare-Coull, Jodie Resther

Premiered: 1991

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 91

Network: Nickelodeon, YTV, Rede Record, France 3, Nickelodeon, + more

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

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11
Goosebumps is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
HollyMiller added R.L. Stine, Kathryn Short, Cody Jones

Premiered: 1995

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 74

Network: Jetix, Vrak.TV, YTV, Fox Kids, Cartoon Network, + more

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

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12
Buffy the Vampire Slayer... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, James Marsters

Premiered: 1997

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 144

Network: UPN, The WB Television Network

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

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13
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 7

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

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14
Night Gallery is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Rod Serling, Gary Collins

Premiered: 1970

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 43

Network: NBC

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

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15
The Outer Limits is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Kevin Conway, Joe Pascual

Premiered: 1995

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 154

Network: Showtime, Syfy, American Broadcasting Company

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

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16
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MWM added Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 96

Network: Showtime

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) 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 ...more

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17
Friday the 13th: The Ser... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Colm Feore, Louise Robey, Chris Wiggins

Premiered: 1987

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 72

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

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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

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 44

Network: NBC

Grimm (NBC, 2011) is an American fantasy police procedural drama television series created by Stephen Carpenter, Jim Kouf, and David Greenwalt, inspired by stories from The Brothers Grimm. ...more

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19
Penny Dreadful is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MWM added Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green

Premiered: 2014

Number of Seasons: 3

Network: Showtime

Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 2014) is a British-American horror drama television series created by John Logan. Explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh ...more

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20
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn

Premiered: 1990

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 48

Network: ABC, Showtime

Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990) is an American mystery horror drama television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch and, despite being canceled after two seasons, sparked a cult following that ...more

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21
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MWM added Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell

Premiered: 2008

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 63

Network: HBO

True Blood (HBO, 2008) is an American fantasy horror drama television series created by Alan Ball, based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series of novels by Charlaine Harris. Telepathic ...more

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22
Channel Zero is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Paul Schneider, Fiona Shaw, Luisa D'Oliveira
Channel Zero (Syfy, 2017) is an American horror anthology television series created by Nick Antosca, who serves as writer, showrunner, and executive producer. Storylines for the series are based ...more

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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

Premiered: 1997

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 45

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

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

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24
Kolchak: The Night Stalk... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage

Premiered: 1974

Network: American Broadcasting Company

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

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25
Sleepy Hollow is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Lyndie Greenwood

Premiered: 2013

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

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