best TV shows Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV  

Ranker TV
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25.9k votes 2.9k voters 45.9k views 66 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-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).
list ordered by

1
801 442
Tales from the Crypt is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Tales from the Crypt 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

2
717 456
The Twilight Zone is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
The Twilight Zone Rod Serling, Robert McCord, Jay Overholts The Twilight Zone is an American television anthology series created by Rod Serling. It is a series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, ...more

3
940 455
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
American Horror Story 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

4
665 501
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
The X-Files 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

5
779 481
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
The Walking Dead 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

6
451 349
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Alfred Hitchcock Presents 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

7
631 420
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Supernatural 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

8
726 504
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Hannibal 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

9
431 322
Tales from the Darkside is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Tales from the Darkside 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

10
394 213
Are You Afraid of the Dark? is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
JaidenDalBello added Are You Afraid of the Dark? 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

11
453 465
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan 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

12
328 375
The Outer Limits is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
The Outer Limits 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

10 Real People Who Survived Horror Movie Situations

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Unsolved Mysteries is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Unsolved Mysteries Robert Stack, Dennis Farina, Keely Shaye Smith Unsolved Mysteries is an American television program, hosted by Robert Stack from 1987 to 2002 and later by Dennis Farina starting in 2008. The show was broadcast first as specials in 1987, then ...more

14
276 382
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 14 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.

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344 217
Goosebumps is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
HollyMiller added Goosebumps 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

16
210 192
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Bates Motel 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

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Night Gallery is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Night Gallery 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

The Best Travel TV Shows

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Grimm is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Grimm 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

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196 147
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MarylyleMcCue added Dexter 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

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Friday the 13th: The Series is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Friday the 13th: The Series 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

21
209 347
Angel is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Angel David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof 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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174 332
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Fringe Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole 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

The Scariest Demon Toys in Film History

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Sleepy Hollow is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Sleepy Hollow 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

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Kolchak: The Night Stalker is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Kolchak: The Night Stalker 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

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Millennium is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Millennium 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

26
173 234
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Mabie1 added Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction 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

27
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Penny Dreadful is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MarylyleMcCue added Penny Dreadful Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green Penny Dreadful 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 show was originally pitched to ...more

8 TV Actors Who Turned Out Just Like Their Characters

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True Blood is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MarylyleMcCue added True Blood 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

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89 162
The Following is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
The Following Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore 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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67 175
Thriller is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Thriller Boris Karloff, Dick York 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

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101 107
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Rea... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MarylyleMcCue added A Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares Robert Englund

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American Gothic is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
dee123 added American Gothic Gary Cole, Lucas Black, Paige Turco 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

The Scariest Movies Ever Made

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Hemlock Grove is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
wiabux added Hemlock Grove Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgård, Landon Liboiron 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

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122 273
Harper's Island is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Harper's Island Elaine Cassidy, Christopher Gorham, Matt Barr Harper's Island is a horror thriller/mystery mini-series created by Ari Schlossberg. It aired on CBS during the 2008–2009 season. The series premiered on April 9, 2009, at 10:00 pm ET/PT. ...more

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108 285
Teen Wolf is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
myers1978 added Teen Wolf Tyler Posey, Dylan O'Brien, Holland Roden Teen Wolf is an American television series developed by Jeff Davis for MTV. It is loosely based on the 1985 film of the same name, and stars Tyler Posey as a teenager named Scott, who is bitten ...more

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10 5
Channel Zero is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Channel Zero 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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84 119
The Incredible Hulk is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
MarylyleMcCue added The Incredible Hulk Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Jack Colvin 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 David Banner, Lou ...more

Things Competitive People Are Competitive About

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The Hitchhiker is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
The Hitchhiker Nicholas Collins, Mark Henein, Spin Shannon 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

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59 149
Falling Skies is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
LanaYoshii added Falling Skies Noah Wyle, Drew Roy, Maxim Knight 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

40
60 170
Medium is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Medium Patricia Arquette, Miguel Sandoval, Jake Weber Medium is an American television drama series that premiered on NBC on January 3, 2005, ending its run on that network on June 1, 2009. The series then moved to CBS on September 25, 2009, airing ...more

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55 160
Reaper is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Reaper Bret Harrison, Tyler Labine, Rick Gonzalez Reaper is an American comedy television series that focuses on Sam Oliver, a "reaper" who works for the Devil by retrieving souls that have escaped from Hell. The series originally ran ...more

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69 173
Carnivàle is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Carnivàle Michael J. Anderson, Adrienne Barbeau, Clancy Brown Carnivàle is an American television series set in the United States during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. In tracing the lives of two disparate groups of people, its overarching ...more

13 Real Things Straight Out Of Horror Movies

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47 85
Forensic Files is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
michael-koebnick added Forensic Files Dayle Hinman, Peter Thomas, Roy Shuler Forensic Files is an American documentary-style series that reveals how forensic science is used to solve violent crimes, mysterious accidents, and even outbreaks of illness. The show was ...more

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40 144
Fear Itself is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
ChangesDownClub added Fear Itself Margherita Donato, Valerie Womack, Marie Zydek Fear Itself was a horror/suspense anthology television series shot in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with some additional shooting in the city of St. Albert and the town of Devon, ...more

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38 144
Werewolf is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Bootsdad added Werewolf John J. York, Lance LeGault, Chuck Connors Werewolf is an American horror series, and one of the original shows in the Fox network's broadcast line-up during its inaugural season of 1987–1988. The show follows the adventures of Eric ...more

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The River is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
dee123 added The River Bruce Greenwood, Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope The River is an American paranormal/action/horror/found-footage television series that debuted during the 2011–12 television winter season on ABC as a mid-season replacement. Eight episodes were ...more

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The Leftovers is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
LanaYoshii added The Leftovers Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston The Leftovers is an American television drama series created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta airing on HBO. It is based on Perrotta's novel of the same name. The pilot was written by Lindelof ...more

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So Weird is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
StevenAllanOndo added So Weird Cara DeLizia, Mackenzie Phillips, Patrick Levis So Weird is an American-Canadian television series that aired on the Disney Channel as a mid-season replacement from January 18, 1999 to September 28, 2001. The series was shot in Vancouver, ...more

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Channel Zero is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Channel Zero

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Kindred: The Embraced is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Shows That May Be Just Too Scary For TV
Kindred: The Embraced Stacy Haiduk, Erik King, Patrick Bauchau Kindred: The Embraced is an American television series produced by John Leekley Productions and Spelling Television. Loosely based on the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade, the series ...more