These Horror TV Shows Will Keep You Up All Night In The Best Way Possible
For many people, the adrenaline rush while watching a horror film sometimes just isn’t enough. The 90 minutes a horror film typically lasts leaves them wanting more. Thankfully, there are plenty of spine-tingling horror television shows to binge watch before bedtime. These shows frighten us in multiple ways, whether through jump scares, intense psychological terror, or other terrifying tactics. But which ones should you be spending your time on the couch watching? These are the best scary TV shows around that are sure to keep you up all night in the best possible way.
The Haunting Of Hill House Is A Classic Reimagined
“The Haunting of Hill House” was first published in 1959 and today is considered a seminal work of horror fiction. At the end of 2018, Netflix unleashed their adaptation, the aptly-named The Haunting of Hill House. The critically-acclaimed series took televised horror to new heights and earned a loyal following as a result.
The story follows the Crain family in the past and present as they work through the psychological effects of a tragic death in the family from supernatural causes. The second season will focus on a new family and is titled The Haunting of Bly Manor.
Castlevania Proved Not All Videogame Adaptations Are Bad
Another Netflix original that took audiences by surprise was Castlevania. The anime-style American series’ first season was loosely based on the NES videogame Castlevania III. It was hailed upon its release as proof that videogame adaptations don’t all have to be bad.
In his review of the first season for The AV Club, Matt Gerardi wrote, “the series’ creators have gone above and beyond to wring a resonant story… that alone makes it one of the most successful video game adaptations to date.”
The Walking Dead Set The Standard
There was no way that AMC knew the literal monster they had on their hands when The Walking Dead premiered in 2010. The show, about survivors of the zombie apocalypse, revitalized horror on television and made zombies scary again.
Now ten years into its run, there are no signs that the show is slowing down. Not only is there the spin-off series Fear The Walking Dead, but there is also a second spin-off in development. Did we mention the planned trilogy of theatrically released films yet?
American Horror Story Is A Spectacle You Can’t Look Away From
Each season of American Horror Story tackles a different brand of horror, from witches to summer camps, to clowns. Thanks to its ability to stay fresh, it has remained one of the most popular horror programs of the last decade.
Of course, the incredible casting for each season helps too. With many stars, like Jessica Lange, returning yearly, powerhouse performances dominate the over-the-top jump scares. Throughout its run, the series has won a mind-blowing 94 awards, including 16 Primetime Emmy Awards.
Channel Zero Took Advantage Of The Internet Age
Channel Zero debuted on the Syfy Channel in 2016 before ending its run with four seasons in 2018. The show, like many others, was anthology based. In this instance, each season was based on a “creepypastas,” scary images that became viral sensations on the internet.
While critics loved the show, audiences stayed away. It averaged less than half a million viewers per episode and was largely kept alive because of its positive standing with the media.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead Brought Back The Boomstick
For decades there was talk in Hollywood about rebooting The Evil Dead franchise for a new audience. After a 2013 film left audiences wanting more, the original franchise hero Ash, played by Bruce Campbell, was given a TV show.
Produced by franchise creator Sam Raimi, Ash vs. Evil Dead returned the series to its campier roots. Airing on Starz, Ash’s new adventures lasted three seasons before being canceled. After the cancellation, Campbell said, “Ash Williams was the role of a lifetime. It was an honor to reunite with Evil Dead partners Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi to give our tireless fans another taste of the outrageous horror/comedy they demanded.”
Bates Motel Brought Norman Bates Home
The series Bates Motel took a creepy look at the relationship between Norman Bates and his mother Norma before she passed away. It didn’t hold back on the scares as it took five seasons to lead up to the events of Psycho.
In his review of Bates Motel for The Mercury News, Chuck Barney wrote it, “doesn’t contain the shock and gore of The Walking Dead. Nor does it rely on the cheap, freak-show tricks of American Horror Story. Instead, it goes the more subtle route, conjuring up an eerie feeling of fear and dread.”
The Terror Took To The High Seas
The Terror is a prestige horror anthology series that premiered on AMC in 2018. The first season was stacked with a cast that included Jared Harris and Tobias Menzies. It was adapted from the novel of the same name that follows a British naval expedition in the Northwest Passage.
As the season unfolds, the crewmen go mad as they try and survive the harrowing journey. The second season brought the fear to the west coast of the United States during World War II.
Penny Dreadful Had All The Monsters
A deep dive into Gothic horror, Penny Dreadful followed the intertwined lives of Dracula, the Wolfman, Dorian Gray, and Dr. Frankenstein and his monster in Victorian England. Instead of going the expected campy route for a monster mashup, though, this show took its characters and setting terrifyingly seriously.
Showtime aired Penny Dreadful for three seasons before giving it the ax. In that time it spawned a massive cult following. The need for more dread was so high that Showtime greenlit a spin-off series, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, which is set to premiere in 2020.
Black Mirror Was Everyone’s Worst Nightmare
Every episode of Black Mirror is a self-contained story. Some are funny while others are intensely chilling, but they all have something in common — each episode is a critique on modern society and our reliance on technology.
Tim Goodman reviewed the fifth season of Black Mirror for The Hollywood Reporter, writing, “exceptional, a timely reminder that Brooker remains restlessly creative and still enormously interested in the genre, having moved it beyond ‘tech paranoia’ to the more nuanced exploration of how technology changes our emotional and intimate connections with loved ones.”
Hannibal Carved Up The Competition
Another series that acted as a prequel to a famous film, Hannibal gave the world an inside look at Hannibal Lector and his relationship with Will Graham. Show developer Bryan Fuller took several liberties with the series, creating something truly unique never seen before on network television.
Matt Roush of TV Guide praised the show. “Its intensity, intelligence and dark power are the equal of anything on cable, with riveting performances led by Mikkelsen as the dapper, sinister fiend-in-plain-sight and Hugh Dancy as his tormented patsy,” he wrote.
Black Summer Took A Chaotic Crack At Zombies
From the studio that brought the world Sharknado came Black Summer. The series takes place in the same universe as Z-Nation, another over-the-top and campy zombie show on Syfy. Summer didn’t have time for jokes, though, and presented a more grounded and chaotic world in the opening days of the zombie apocalypse.
Met with mixed, but mostly positive, reviews from critics, Black Summer proved there is still life in the incredibly worn zombie sub-genre of horror.
Lucifer Is A Devilish Good Time
More fun than scary, Lucifer follows the devil after he gets bored of running the underworld and opens a nightclub in LA. Oh yeah, he also helps the Los Angeles Police Department solve terrible crimes.
The show premiered on FOX and aired three seasons before moving to Netflix. Taking a darker spin on the procedural format than most others helped this one stand out. A fifth and final season has been planned, but no release date has been announced.
The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Made Magic Scary
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina might have seemed like an unnecessary reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but proved upon release to have a spell of its own to cast. Taking a darker spin in the Archie comic character world made magic scary.
In her Collider review, Allison Keene praised the show, “there are a lot of surprising things about Sabrina, the fall’s first truly binge-worthy new show. It’s a delight and an obsession, and the scariest thing about it is just how good it is.”
iZombie Was Full Of Brains
More funny than scary, it would be a crime not to include iZombie on this list. The show, which was aimed at teens, followed the adventures of a zombie that works as a medical examiner helping solve crimes.
What’s her trick? When she eats the brains of her “patients” she is given parts of their memories as well. The show officially ended in 2019 after five seasons and 71 episodes. It may be gone, but you can still catch it streaming online if you missed it!
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Set The Bar
Buffy the Vampire Slayer originated as a failed horror movie before finding a second life on the small screen. Sarah Michelle Gellar starred in the title role and brought a blend of innocence, toughness, and comedic timing to the character.
For seven seasons Buffy saved the world from the things that go bump in the night. A spin-off series, Angel, ran for another five seasons, creating a television legacy that set the bar for series like iZombie and Supernatural.
The X-Files Wasn’t Just Great Science Fiction
Considered one of the greatest science-fiction television shows of all-time, The X-Files didn’t always stick to one genre. Some episodes of the series were downright terrifying and didn’t deal with extraterrestrials at all.
One of the most horrifying monsters on the show was Flukeman. featured in the episode “The Host,” the creature lived in the sewers of New Jersey after being created by radioactivity in Chernobyl. He looked like a giant over-sized tapeworm, and many still have nightmares about him to this day.
Supernatural Filled The Hole Buffy Left Behind
When Supernatural aired its first episode in 2005, no one could have expected it to go on for another 309, across 15 seasons. And somehow, throughout it all, the show always felt fresh, each season bringing a new horrific and hilarious energy to the proceedings.
Charlie McCollum of The Mercury News was effusive in his praise of the show’s first season: “A creepy, atmospheric, sometimes downright scary hour of TV.” Reviews for the 15th seasons were just as nice, with many critics praising the show’s “back-to-roots” approach for the Winchester brothers’ last rodeo.
Tales From The Crypt Gave Us The Crypt Keeper
One of the original horror anthology series, Tales from the Crypt helped put HBO on the map when it debuted in 1989. For the next seven years, it terrified audiences with its special brand of televised terror.
What set this show apart at the time was what it was able to get away with. Because it was on HBO, producers didn’t have to worry about gross visuals or bad language. The show was so popular that an animated spin-off for children was created for ABC. The cartoon hired a child psychologist to ensure that the scripts wouldn’t be too scary.
Ghost Adventures Brings The Fear To Life
Ghost Adventures started as a documentary film that followed Zak Bagans on his quest to capture the paranormal on camera. Travel Channel saw something special and turned the movie into a documentary series. The first episode aired in 2008, and today, after 213 episodes, it’s still going strong.
While some critics dismiss the show as fake, Bagans has used the platform to gain a massive following. His search for the truth has helped create new interest in modern audiences about the “otherside” of life.