10 Scariest TV Shows, Ranked

Horror fiction is a genre less often associated with television. Despite many successful horror television shows, many associate the genre with movies, literature, or video games before considering it appropriate TV fare. While each of these mediums has its advantages – from larger budgets to harnessing the imagination – they are by no means the only way to explore the genre.

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Many television series prove that the small screen can provide as much horror and terror as the big screen. Even some series not strictly categorized as horror can be scary when needed, not to mention those that consider themselves horror shows.

ten The X-Files Had Haunting Horror Episodes

The Peacock Brothers Digging a Grave in 'Home' the X-Files

X files was never strictly a horror show. Although it contained thriller elements, it was still primarily a sci-fi drama, focusing on alien conspiracies and their effects on the very human protagonists. Nevertheless, in its monster episodes of the week, X files has been able to prove many times that he can stand up to horror movies.

The show had plenty of creepy episodes, from parasitic worms to a monster feeding on cancerous tumors, to the all-too-human villains of the notorious “Home” episode. Additionally, their infrequent nature meant that viewers would never know which episode would horrify them next, adding tension when watching the series.

9 Twin Peaks brought an unsettling surrealism to bear

A broken mirror in the show Twin Peaks

twin peaks director and screenwriter David Lynch is no stranger to horror. With its signature surrealism, one of its earliest hits was the classic horror film eraser head. Although twin peaks is more of a thriller drama, it was never afraid to bombard the viewer with nightmarish and surreal imagery.

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Largely lacking extreme violence and gore, the show instead creates thrills through tension and psychological horror, mixing incomprehensible imagery with bizarre plot situations and more mundane terror.

8 Inside No. 9 is capable of being both funny and scary


Horror anthology is one area where horror has found its way into television. Whether it’s telling a new story every episode or every season, horror anthology series allow a wide range of stories and scares to be explored at a faster pace than a series of movies never could.

Interior No. 9 is a horror comedy series, but it doesn’t fail either. While it’s full of in-jokes, weird characters, and loving deconstructions of horror tropes, the series can also heighten the scares. While it still has its own spin on the horror it presents, some episodes do get very scary indeed.

seven Black Mirror attempts meaningful horror

The end of the episode

black mirror is an unapologetically bizarre anthology series that defies genre. Focusing on the relationship human beings have with technology and each other, it tells many stories, focusing on themes such as isolation, bullying, sadism and many more.

While it contains comic, tragic, or even heartwarming episodes, the series fits most comfortably into a horror mold. From a woman seemingly stalked by psychopaths in a world where everyone records their fate, to an episode where people vote for public figures to be killed, to people being attacked by genocidal robots, the series has various flavors of… ‘horror.

6 The Outsider adapts a master of horror

The titular creature observes a crime scene in The Outsider series

Stephen King is one of the most prolific horror novelists in recent memory, with vast amounts of his work receiving film and television adaptations. the stranger is one of his most recent works to appear on television, with the book and its adaptation being released in 2018.

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The series is about a child-killing monster and a small-town detective’s attempts to crack the case. Although its later episodes were met with criticism, the series received consistent praise for its unsettling atmosphere and compelling plot.

5 True Detective follows a chilling murder case

The two detectives together in the first season of True Detective

As indicated by his name, real detective is more of a crime series than a horror, but it’s a show that, especially in its first season, hasn’t been afraid to hit the viewer with crimes and characters straight out of supernatural horror. It follows two detectives as they try to solve a long-running murder spree by an occult killer.

Flirting with downright Lovecraftian themes, even once the show firmly sides with the mundane, it manages downright dread at times. Although its first season is considered the scariest and best, each season has its own merits.

4 Haunting of Hill House has tension and many jump scares

The family outside Hill House in The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House was an unexpected hit in 2018, to critical acclaim. Focusing on the traumatic aftermath of living in a haunted house years later, the series mixes white-knuckle scares with genuine emotional pathos and heartbreaking dramatic storylines.

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Although the series was widely praised for its dramatic and emotional writing, many reviewers also noted the series’ consistent tension and atmosphere. Plus, it makes heavy use of jump alerts, just to add a little scare to unprepared viewers.

3 American Horror Story brings all kinds of fear

Kai Anderson and the Clown Cult in American Horror Story: Cult

As the name suggests, american horror story firmly planted in the horror genre. One of the best-known horror anthology series, each season tells a different story with recurring cast members. From the relatively humble house of murder, the series has since explored many horror genres.

Whatever the tastes or fears of a spectator, american horror story can provide. From ghosts and slashers to cannibals and nuns, the series has explored many areas. While some seasons have varied in quality, it’s widely accepted that when the show is good, it legitimately tells good stories, with genuine scares.

2 Channel Zero brings Creepypasta to life

Margot in Channel Zero: No End House

“Creepypasta” is an Internet term used to describe widely shared original horror stories reminiscent of urban legends widely disseminated by the World Wide Web. Although widely shared on the internet, wider exposure has been limited to the better known ones, such as the famous “Slenderman”.

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String zero is a horror anthology show that each season tells a different horror story inspired by a different creepypasta. With varied and unsettling subject matter, the show is considered by many to grow scarier with each passing season after starting on a scary high.

1 Terror adds the supernatural to a real-world tragedy

Crews around icebound ships The Terror TV show

Horror fiction is often heavily inspired by real events, but never more directly than when it adapts the real events themselves. 2018 Terror is an adaptation of a book that tells the story of Sir John Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition. It follows two Royal Navy ships, Erebus and Terror, as they get stranded in the ice and their crews fall prey to a monster.

The expedition is real, but the supernatural elements were added in the novel. Even with the breaks from the horrifying true story, the first season received a lot of praise, especially for its scares. Its second season, an unrelated story subtitled Infamy, also received praise, but less than the show’s debut effort.

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