10: The Walking Dead (2010-Present)
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has become something of a cultural phenomenon over the past decade. While often times the show is more focused on the drama than the horror, it can still make for some fantastic Halloween viewing. Between the sudden and unexpected character deaths and the gory zombies, there are plenty of scares to be found throughout the show’s many seasons. On top of the horror, some of the show’s acting is truly exceptional, and these performances are the reason so many viewers have stuck around for such a long time.
9: Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996)
For those that are fans of the campiness of the Halloween season more than the blood and terror, “Tales from the Crypt” is perfect. The show was scary for younger audiences back in the early 90s, but now that its original viewers are adults, it offers just the perfect amount of camp to give people a good laugh. While not even close to being the scariest show on this list, “Tales from the Crypt” holds a special place in the hearts of many, and makes for a good time, even with its awful special effects.
8: Black Mirror (2011-Present)
“Black Mirror” is another option for those looking for something a little non-traditional during this Halloween season. The show focuses on the scary elements of modern life and technology, and plays on the fears and anxieties of people living in the modern age. While not scary in the usual sense, this show focuses more on discomfort, making its viewers wary of the world in which they live. For some, there’s absolutely nothing scarier than that.
7: Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
Although it only lasted for a couple seasons, “Twin Peaks” was a beautiful example of horror mixed with dark humor. The show itself was a special kind of creepy, focusing on murder and grim introspection. The darker moments in the show were incredibly disturbing, as the lead FBI agent investigated the horrifying mysteries of the show’s eponymous town, while the lighter moments broke up the horror just enough to keep people from getting bogged down by it. While the show certainly appeals to a more niche audience then something like “The Walking Dead,” it deserves no less praise for its quality.
6: Hannibal (2013-2015)
“Hannibal” focuses on mixing psychological horror with more traditional fare as it follows Dr. Hannibal Lecter, original from “Silence of the Lambs.” The show is deliciously creepy, as Lecter’s demented insanity leads to death after terrifying death. The focus on such uncomfortable themes are cannibalism and serial killing also give the show an aura of horror that many other shows never match. The true highlight is, however, Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as Dr. Lecter. While he doesn’t quite match the terrifying original performance by Anthony Hopkins, Mikkelsen brings his own brand of creepy that is immensely satisfying to watch.
5: The Strain (2014-Present)
The 2000s have been a fantastic for horror television. While the golden age of horror film is often considered to have taken place in the late 20th century, horror shows seem to be coming into their own right now. “The Strain” is a wonderful example of this, and has managed to dig vampires up from the hole that “Twilight” dug them into. In this show they’re no longer romantic icons, or eye-candy, they’re the horrifying agents of death that they are meant to be. Add to this that horror legend Guillermo Del Toro is responsible for the writing, and the show should not be missed by anybody, especially horror fans.
4: American Horror Story (2011-Present)
Horror is this show’s middle name. With each season focusing on different, but equally scary horror tropes, there’s something for everyone. Fans are incredibly divided on which season is the best, but each of them offers a strong cast, fantastic guest actors, and interesting themes. None of the concepts pursued in the show are particularly unique, but each of them are executed masterfully. Whether a viewer is looking for a more traditional haunted house story, or something a little more off the wall, like a witch coven, the show’s got it all in spades.
3: Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)
“Penny Dreadful” draws from Gothic literature, featuring characters like Dorian Grey and Dr. Frankenstein. The various monsters and beasts that the show’s characters hunt down are all terrifying and horrific in their own way, and the tension builds wonderfully throughout each episode. Each performance is nearly perfect, and the fact that the show was cancelled after only three seasons is tragic. While not pure horror, few shows have come out in recent memory that captured monsters in such a terrifying way.
2: The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016)
“The X-Files” has inspired so many shows, horror or not. “Fringe,” “Supernatural,” and many others have all used “The X-Files” as a core influence. While it was not always a horror show, episodes like “Home” are still some of the scariest things to ever grace a television screen. The beauty of the show was that the main characters, Mulder and Scully, were faced with such an odd array of supernatural events. Some were absolutely terrifying, and some were downright goofy, but they all felt appropriate in the context of the show, making it an absolute joy to watch.
1: The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
There are very few things in television more memorable than the introduction to “The Twilight Zone.” From Rod Sterling’s narration to the odd visuals, it set the scene for some terrifying episodes. While the show itself wasn’t devoted to horror, it was focused on making its audience think, and often making them uncomfortable. The investigation of the unknown often lead to some terrifying moments, and that was what made “The Twilight Zone” the masterpiece that it was. Viewers never quite knew what they were going to get, but it was always going to blow their minds.