The 30 Best Horror TV Shows on Netflix

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The 30 Best Horror TV Shows on Netflix

Horror television has experienced a renaissance in recent years, thanks to ratings juggernauts like The Walking Dead and then critically acclaimed series like Hannibal. Netflix jumped into the horror TV series game themselves with original productions like Stranger Things and The Haunting of Hill House and imports like Black Mirror. The streaming giant has accumulated an impressive collection of scary TV series, from classic anthologies like The Twilight Zone to psychological thrillers and post-apocalyptic dramas with horror elements to good ol’ fashioned comedy gore fests like Ash vs. Evil Dead or the Netflix original The Santa Clarita Diet.

You can also peruse our lists of the best horror movies on Netflix, the best TV Shows on Netflix, and the 30 best horror series streaming right now.

Here are the 30 best horror TV shows now streaming on Netflix.

30. The Vampire Diaries

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Created by: Julie Plec, Kevin Williamson
Stars: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Candice King, Matt Davis, Joseph Morgan
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

If ever a TV show moved the needle on bourbon sales, I’m guessing it was The Vampire Diaries. Vampire brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore (Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder) have a seemingly endless supply of brown liquor and an impressive collection of glassware. And I’ll admit, never before has a show more inspired me to drink along with the leads. But I digress… What began as an angst-filled teenage supernatural drama has actually developed into a compelling and frequently gruesome foray into the world of vampires (and werewolves and witches and hybrids and siphons and …) alongside the men and women who love them. While CW shows are often painted as skewing towards melodramatic teen/YA fare, that’s an increasingly unfair assertion and one that The Vampire Diaries did a great job of dispelling, particularly once it grew out of its early “Dawson’s Creek with vampires,” phase. Season 1, while intermittently strong, was more or less one of those shows people refer to as a guilty pleasure. It was fun, but not really good. Once creators Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson (creator of Dawson’s Creek, not a coincidence) really got a feel for where they wanted to take the show, however, it took off, and over the past seven years the show has proven to be a reliably well-acted, creepy and ethically complicated hour of drama. The upcoming eighth season is the show’s last, and it’s still strong. In the world of TV, there’s nothing worse than staying on too long. We’re going to miss the gang but it’s time and hopefully some of them will pop up in other spinoffs from time to time.—Mark Rabinowitz


29. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Created by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Stars: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

The Archie-adjacent teenage witch has had a bumpy two seasons (two-part first season?) so far, but they are still enough to scratch a very specific horror itch for fans of demonic magical metaphor. The show’s attempts at feminism veer from the brutally satisfying to the lip-service-only frustrating, but weaving that driving principle throughout the show’s coming-of-age plots and the underground magical societies within which they take place only binds the show closer into a more cohesive, if imperfect, entity. Shipka, taking all that she earned from Mad Men, dominates the screen while snipping and snapping with each potent line delivery. A plethora of romantic angles supplement the show with its more Riverdale-like elements, but at its heart, Sabrina is a horror show that only looks to get darker as its reign continues. —Jacob Oller


28. Scream

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Created by: Jill Blotevogel, Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie
Stars: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Amadeus Serafini, Connor Weil, Carlson Young, Jason Wiles, Tracy Middendorf, Kiana Brown, Santiago Segura
Original Network: MTV

Watch on Netflix

The conversion of Wes Craven’s beloved slasher Scream into a television series was a surprisingly shrewd move on behalf of MTV. The series format allows suspense to build, but, most interestingly, the expanded time gives viewers the opportunity to empathize with certain characters as they face tragedies and horrors. The updated version also takes many liberties with the franchise that started back in the ‘90s, by building a story in Lakewood with new faces instead of Woodsboro with Sidney Prescott. The show, which premiered in 2015, utilizes modern technology (goodbye landlines) which becomes as threatening as the masked killer. The novelty of 1996 isn’t there like Stranger Things and the ‘80s. This series tackles modern plights of high schoolers— cyberbullying, slut shaming, blackmail—that are just as terrifying as a serial killer on the loose. Don’t get us wrong, the serial killer is pretty gruesome, too. Characters are decapitated, hung, cut up, every disgusting thing you can think of. But it usually happens off-camera. Sure, it’s a little too Pretty Little Liars-esque—the acting is subpar all around and it’s about as subtle as a clap of thunder. Despite these minor pitfalls, which perhaps just add to the humor of the show, Scream is a binge-worthy series filled with backstabbing from both the killer and the so-called friends. —Taylor Ysteboe


27. Lucifer

Created by:Tom Kapinos
Stars: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Kevin Alejandro, D. B. Woodside
Original Network: FOX / Netflix

Watch on Netflix

In making the move from FOX to Netflix, Lucifer seems to have found its way back to its Season 1 groove—and I’m ready to reclaim my faith. Fast, tense, and dramatically dense seems to be the show’s new guiding principle. Gone are the airy filler episodes of overlong seasons; gone are any nonsensical backslides in character development meant to keep the story from burning itself out ahead of broadcast schedule. What does that leave behind? Well, just about everything that made Lucifer so fun and innovative from the beginning: Amenadiel’s (D. B. Woodside) back-footed angelic earnestness; Mazikeen’s (Lesley-Anne Brandt) stone cold demonic awkwardness; Linda’s (Rachael Harris) human steadiness; Dan’s (Kevin Alejandro) counterbalancing ambivalence; Ella’s (Aimee Garcia) boppy cheerfulness; Little Trixie’s (Scarlett Estevez) wry self-possession; Chloe’s shining moral compass; Lucifer’s (Tom Ellis) hidden, self-hating brokenness. Plus the killer soundtrack. Tom Ellis’s abs. Add Inbar Lavi as Lucifer’s effervescently naïve old flame, Eve—yes, that Eve—plus Maze singing the sexiest cover of “Wonderwall” that’s ever been sung, and a big dance finale too sublime to put into words, and you’re cooking with some real (dramatic) Hellfire. —Alexis Gunderson


26. The Society

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Created by: Christopher Keyser
Stars: Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Sean Berdy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jacques Colimon, Olivia DeJonge
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

I’ve watched a lot of television series where nuanced self-possession has sharpened my understanding of what it means to be human, but I genuinely can’t remember the last time I came out on the other side of a binge seeing the base tenuousness of the society we’ve made for ourselves with such terrifying new clarity. The Society, Netflix’s new high-tech, aged-up take on Lord of the Flies, manages the trick with a simple bus ride. Although teen television has been peddling in intensely dark moral allegories for decades now, it is difficult to articulate just how existentially devastating The Society gets, or how quickly. The Societygives its modern, engaged audience a co-ed spread of hormonal high schoolers, left behind by a fleet of school buses that (returning from an aborted end-of-year camping trip) drop them off in the middle of the night in an empty, uncanny double of their idyllic New England hometown. They discover the next day that not only are all satellite and internet connections to the outer world gone, but that all roads out of town end abruptly in impenetrable forest. The Societyisn’t remotely interested in spending a lot of time on the whys or wheres of the teens’ new reality. The only thing it cares about is sinking into the psychological nightmare of a bunch of underprepared kids realizing not only that they’re all alone in the universe, but that it’s on them to make up and enforce all the boring, hard rules required to sustain a civilized society.—Alexis Gunderson


25. Attack on Titan

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Created by: Yasuko Kobayashi, Tetsur? Araki
Stars: Yûki Kaji, Marina Inoue, Yui Ishikawa, Kishô Taniyama
Original Network: Mainichi Broadcasting System

Watch on Netflix

One of modern anime’s most popular and jarring entries into supernatural horror (with one of its more iconic theme songs, to boot), Attack on Titan goes hard into horror anime’s biggest boon: its gore. This show about big honkin’ baddies can get nasty. If you thought Castlevania had some bloody kills, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Titans have one instinct: eat people. And boy, do they. The complex story of bloodlines and survival make the creepy world all the better, as the uphill battles constantly escalate over the show’s seasons. —Jacob Oller


24. Daybreak

Created by: Brad Peyton, Aron Eli Coleite
Stars:: Colin Ford, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Sophie Simnett, Austin Crute, Cody Kearsley, Jeanté Godlock, Gregory Kasyan, Krysta Rodriguez, Matthew Broderick
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Watching Netflix’s new teen post-apocalypse comedy Daybreak, which stars Supernatural’s Colin Ford as a C-student skating his way through a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested Glendale, CA, is like shrugging on a colored-glass suit of ronin samurai armor that someone—possibly Ferris Bueller himself the most basic of teen movie magic to fashion, from the kaleidoscope of Twain’s old saw, that there’s no such thing as a new idea, just new ways of putting the same old shiny pieces together.

Look: If what you want out of your next teen/Apocalypse binge are new ideas, Daybreak isn’t going to do the trick. Josh Wheeler (Ford) isn’t a surprising choice for reluctant teen hero. Sam (Simnett) is not a surprising choice for damsel in (possible) distress. Ex-jock Wesley Fists (Crute) and Anjelica the preteen nightmare (Lind) aren’t surprising choices for ragtag heroic sidekicks. (See again: Last month’s The Last Kids on Earth adaptation.) Bloodthirsty jock vikings, homesteading 4-Hers, viciously misandrist Cheermazons and an über-woke principal this close to completely cracking: none are clever Apocalyptic takes on classic high school chestnuts.

That said, for all that Daybreak wears its dozens upon dozens of teen/genre movie tropes on its Mad Max: Fury Road sleeves, it’s still super watchable. More than that, once the first episode (“Josh vs. the Apocalypse, Pt. 1”) dispenses with both the most necessary pre- and post-apocalyptic exposition and the most blatant John Hughes clichés—yes, Josh’s biology teacher does drone “Wheeler?… Wheeler?… Wheeler???” as he turns to break through the wall while she’s calling attendance; no, thank YOU for asking—it does what any self-aware kaleidoscope of old ideas should do and uses its gross of references to subvert some key expectations in compelling ways. —Alexis Gunderson


23. The Originals

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Created by: Julie Plec
Stars: Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin, Charles Michael Davis, Daniella Pineda, Leah Pipes, Danielle Campbell, Yusuf Gatewood, Riley Voelkel, Danielle Rose Russell, Steven Krueger
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

It’s a rare occasion when the spinoff exceeds the original. The history of TV is littered will ill-conceived and poorly executed sequels and for every Frasier and Boston Legal, there are dozens of shows like Joni Loves Chachi, Beverly Hills Buntz and AfterMASH. Thankfully, The Originals falls firmly into the former camp and is actually a case in which the child has exceeded the achievements of the parent. As fun and compelling as the characters and stories on The Vampire Diaries are, that show took a little too long to really get going and was in a more limiting setting, especially in the first few seasons. The sequel, however, launched with fully-formed characters (with a mythology established by the parent show), unfettered by geometry class or the constraints of a small town. Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) is easily one of the most complex anti-heroes on TV and creator Julie Plec is unafraid to poke around in the heads of any character, even killing a few. Also, as dark and disturbing as The Vampire Diaries can be (and it’s gotten more so as the characters age) The Originals blows it out of the water. Plec has expanded on the world she helped create in The Vampire Diaries, giving her characters more room to grow emotionally and significantly more intricate challenges to face. The politics of The Originals is just as fascinating as the supernatural elements and the show feels more fully-formed than The Vampire Diaries did early on. It doesn’t hurt that New Orleans is decidedly more fun to explore than an imaginary small town in Virginia, and as much as I dig the gang from The Vampire Diaries, the rich character palette with which Plec and the writers have to work with here is a cut above. —Mark Rabinowitz


22. The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

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Created by: Christine McConnell
Stars: Christine McConnell, Mick Ignis, Dita Von Teese, Drew Massey
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

This one-season wonder is like diving into the candy bin on October 1st. When spooky spirits are at their peak, goth chic baker Christine McConnell and her gaggle of Henson-designed muppets help unleash the inner Hot Topic in all of us with her monstrous meals. Well, meals if you, like me, only eat edible arrangements that look like they fell out of a Hammer horror film. The scripted comic bits linking these baking feats are just as endearingly offbeat as Elvira and Svengoolie hosting their own Food Network show, with murders and dinner dates supplementing the caramel arachnids. It might not be that scary, but the best thing about horror is that it doesn’t have to give you nightmares to be fun. —Jacob Oller


21. Wynonna Earp

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Created by: Emily Andras
Stars: Melanie Scrofano, Shamier Anderson, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley
Original Network: SYFY

Watch on Netflix

Earpers rejoice! Beloved Western romp Wynonna Earp is as horror-filled as it is feminist, with curses, swords, and so much creative swearing that you’d &$! your own &*###$! to have a vocabulary as vibrant. Vampires, demons, and the scariest thing of all, childbirth! augment this delightfully queer story of a woman that blasts her way through every supernatural creature blastable. If you want Deadwood by way of The Walking Dead (AKA The Walking Deadwood), this is your female-fronted way in. And did I mention it’s funny? Oh, it’s very funny. —Jacob Oller


20. iZombie

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Created by: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero-Wright
Stars: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka, Robert Knepper
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Veronica Mars is the best way to describe this delightful drama. iZombie, from Mars creator Rob Thomas, draws on the strengths of both of these iconic series while carving a distinct path for itself. Liv Moore (Rose McIver) was a promising medical student until one bad night of partying turned her into a zombie. Now she works in the morgue solving murders on the side, all while keeping the true nature of her condition from her loved ones (she’s not that pale because she uses sunscreen, people). As the second season progressed more were let in on Liv’s secret, and she assembled a Scooby gang of her very own, while struggling to protect those that she loves. Much of the show’s success stems from its great sense of humor—witness all the delectable ways Liv serves up brains. But the ghoulish and voracious zombies offer real frights and Steven Weber’s nefarious CEO Vaughn Du Clark is truly terrifying. However it’s the show’s overarching premise—that any of us could find ourselves among the undead trying to control our most basic instincts while our normal life remains just out of our grasp—that will keep you up at night. —Amy Amatangelo


19. Two Sentence Horror Stories

Created by: Vera Miao
Stars: Various (Anthology)
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

We’ve had videogame adaptations, podcast adaptations, even adaptations of shortform internet creepypasta. But to my knowledge, The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories is the first time a Reddit thread has gotten its own TV show. Creator/writer/director Vera Miao’s horror anthology (making the jump from its previous iteration on Verizon’s go90) is inspired by the glut of microfiction that flooded from the unsuspecting prompt of “What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences?”—but how its viral inspiration differs from a traditional logline is … nebulous at best. At the very least, it’s an excuse to watch some efficient, self-contained horror built on the essential components of the genre: expectation and subversion. With only two sentences, there’s not room for much else.

That’s a good thing. More than many recent adventures into the twist-forward form (looking at you, Into the Dark), Two Sentence Horror Stories finds the right balance and speed for its anthology. The quick episodes, each less than a half-hour, waste no time sowing their uneasy seeds. They split their source sentences to give you a vague premise up front and fill in its macabre twist before the credits role. It’s like reading half the joke, then eating the popsicle to get the punchline. Equally delicious and enjoyably corny, the show’s version of “Oh No, Henry!” plotting lands squarely in the Tales from the Crypt style. —Jacob Oller


18. Supernatural

Created by: Eric Kripke
Stars: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, Mark A. Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, Alexander Calvert
Original Network: The WB/The CW

Watch on Netflix

It’s no small thing for a show like Supernatural to keep on keeping on, after a decade spent giving all manner of monsters the what for. Consider, as the series heads towards another season premiere, that when The WB first aired the aberration-hunting adventures of the brothers Winchester—Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki)—back in 2005, the network had added a slew of new titles to its ‘05-‘06 schedule, including Just Legal, Twins, Pepper Dennis, among many others. Consider as well that none of them stuck around for very long or made much of an impression. (You’re probably pulling up Wikipedia to find out what they’re each about as we speak.) But Supernatural? Supernatural endured. When the WB merged with UPN in 2006, Supernatural walked out of the Thunderdome. The “why” is obvious. Eric Kripke’s story of two brothers on a mission to protect the innocent from evil in all its sundry forms— ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, the occasional wendigo or djinn, zombies, you name it—maintains a terrific balancing act throughout each of its many, many seasons, blending enough humor, horror and individual personality with well-tread genre tropes and plots to make it a standout from other programs of its kind. Some episodes lean more toward “funny.” Others lean in the direction of “scary.” Others still make you laugh and quake in fear at the same time. It’s no wonder, then, that the death of The WB wasn’t enough to stop the Winchesters from doing what they do. —Andy Crump


17. Bates Motel

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Created by: Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, Anthony Cipriano
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nicola Peltz, Nestor Carbonell, Kenny Johnson
Original Network: A&E

Watch on Netflix

When telling the origins of a horror icon, a fine line must be walked. For one, you run the risk of losing the mystery that made the original characters so terrifying to begin with. Bates Motel, however, has created a backstory for Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) that makes the psycho of Psycho sympathetic. Still, Norman is always just a second away from behaving horrifically. Over the course of the series, Highmore has gone from confused teenager to schizophrenic maniac and, in doing so, given a performance that rivals Anthony Perkins’ take on the character. Playing off this evolution is the equally great Vera Farmiga as his mother Norma. Of course, Norma’s story has to end tragically. But when watching mother and son together, there’s hope that the story will diverge from the way we know it must go, and there’s the constant fear that what we know must happen can occur at any point. By expanding on the Norman Bates story, Bates Motel has taken an iconic character and enriched him with a haunted history that makes him even more fascinating as we watch his descent into madness. —Ross Bonaime


16. Death Note

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Created by: Tetsur? Araki, Toshiki Inoue
Stars: Mamoru Miyano, Ryô Naitô, Naoya Uchida, Kappei Yamaguchi
Original Network: Nippon TV

Watch on Netflix

One of the classic scary animes, Death Note—about a boy who finds a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written inside of it—was such an international phenomenon that Netflix has its own live-action adaptation. Thankfully much better than that feature film is the original series, which explores the terrible toxic power that Light Yagami claims as he enacts his own morality upon the world. The hilarious Shinigami, Ryuk, that torments/helps Light in his endeavors is worth the price of admission alone, but the ever-escalating conflict between the vigilante killer and law enforcement gives the murder-happy show enough suspense to keep the thrills alive…just don’t let Light know your name. —Jacob Oller


15. Penny Dreadful

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Created by: John Logan
Stars: Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Reeve Carney, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper, Danny Sapani, Harry Treadway
Original Network: Showtime

Watch on Netflix

In conception, Penny Dreadful doesn’t seem so much like a TV show but, rather, like a very elaborate dare—specifically, a challenge to craft the most fan fic-y Gothic horror series of all time and still have it track on an artistic and narrative level. Well, challenge accepted and conquered. Conceived by John Logan (the award-winning screenwriter behind Gladiator, Hugo, Skyfall and Rango) and executed with great finesse by pilot director J.A. Bayona (the filmmaker behind the extraordinary horror-drama The Orphanage), the series is set in Victorian London and centers on a trio (an explorer, a clairvoyant and a gunslinger) who band together to slay monsters threatening their world. The draw here is that a good many of these threats consist of characters or concepts from classic horror literature, whether it’s Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster or Dorian Gray. Boasting notable performances from the likes of Timothy Dalton, Josh Harnett and Rory Kinnear, the series managed to ground its outlandish premise in an emotional reality. The true masterstroke, however, is unquestionable Eva Green as the clairvoyant Vanessa Ives. One of the most brilliant and gonzo actresses currently working today, Green attacks her first major TV role with great relish, and Logan and company certainly rise to the occasion in writing great material for her. Alternating between victim and victimizer, Vanessa firmly deserves to be spoken in the same breath as the likes of Walter White, Tony Soprano, or Don Draper. —Mark Rozeman


14. Kingdom

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Created by: Kim Eun-hee, Kim Seong-hun
Stars: Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, Bae Doo-nam, Kim Sung-kyu
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

American (or even just Western) zombies are almost always the driving point of the narrative—representing big nasty threats like national anxiety about disease, nuclear war, capitalism, the collapse of society, and racism—often limiting the genre’s possibilities and focusing their plots largely on external forces. By contrast, in Kingdom (transported to South Korea’s Joseon period) these stories become more interested in how existing structures (and the normal people living inside them) handle the threat, and how coping makes them better equipped for the inevitable return to normal. Western zombie shows allow their audiences to appreciate how society adapts to these monstrous allegories, forming the factional city-states of The Walking Dead (Alexandria, Hilltop, Woodbury) or the religious zeal of Santa Clarita Diet’s Anne Garcia (Natalie Morales); Korean zombies rage in a society that ultimately stays the same. The latter’s evils are amplified and exposed by the zombies, but the infected undead also catalyze a satisfying hero’s journey in the midst of misguided magistrates, fear-based isolationism, and class warfare. —Jacob Oller


13. Santa Clarita Diet

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Created by: Victor Fresco
Stars: Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Netflix’s horror-comedy follows normal couple Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant), a real estate duo attempting to raise their daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) right. The neighborhood is good, problems are at a minimum, and the middle-class living is all the American Dream promised. Until Sheila hacks up a mysterious orb and starts hungering for human flesh, that is. Freckly neighbor kid Eric (Skyler Gisondo) has been roped into the scheme, too. Together, they put the “dead” in “deadpan.” Sheila’s fundead chipperness recalls Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s method of surrounding its dark, psychologically or physically-upsetting narrative turns with hyper-sunny aesthetics, saturating each shot with catalogue color even when the gore flies. It’s as if the traffic-discussing members of the Saturday Night Live skit “The Californians” were in a Saw movie. —Jacob Oller


12. The Walking Dead

Created by: Frank Darabont
Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden
Original Network: AMC

Watch on Netflix

I remember excitedly watching the Frank Darabont-directed premiere of The Walking Dead on Halloween of 2010, thinking, “This is so cool, but it’ll never be popular. An hour-long zombie drama? No one’s going to watch that but me!” Well, obviously I couldn’t have been more wrong. Flying in the face of expectations, The Walking Dead somehow became cable’s highest-rated show, even besting Sunday Night Football on occasion. Stop for a moment and consider the implications: We live in a country that has become so geeky, on average, that an hour-long zombie drama is capable of getting more viewership than Sunday Night Football. In terms of quality, the quest of the Grimes Gang to survive has been up and down, but the production values have always been impeccable. Although the story has occasionally bogged down in places or been stretched too thin, the show always seems to rebound with a moment of incredible pathos, even for iconic villains such as David Morrissey’s Governor. Whether you like recent seasons with Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan or not, the show’s success to date has already been massive for the marketability of horror on the small screen. —Jim Vorel


11. American Horror Story

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Created by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Stars: Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Denis O’Hare, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy, Cheyenne Jackson, Emma Roberts, Taissa Farmiga
Original Network: FX

Watch on Netflix

Even fervent fans of Ryan Murphy’s high-camp horror anthology American Horror Story would have a tough time defending its latter seasons, most recently the emptily political Cult. But the first three story arcs—Murder House, Asylum and Coven—pushed the bounds of scary storytelling on television and helped kick off a small-screen horror renaissance—as well as the anthology series explosion—when AHS first debuted around Halloween 2011. AHS’ evolution from a genuinely terrifying first season starring Connie Britton to the gore-porn fifth season that earned Lady Gaga a Golden Globe mirrors just about every major horror film franchise: a shockingly strong start, followed by unexpected space shenanigans, complicated continuity callbacks, distracting guest stars, openly humorous installments and the departure of key players (most notably Jessica Lange, Murphy’s muse for the second, third and fourth seasons after her breakout supporting turn in the first). This murderous medley of elements clutters the show, but can’t suppress the glee that a horror hound feels seeing so many well-known genre tropes recycled and repurposed by Murphy and his rotating cast of players, from the chameleonic Sarah Paulson, to Misery’s Kathy Bates. American Horror Story may be a big, bloody mess, but it’s clearly in love with the genre in its title. —Steve Foxe


10. Castlevania

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Created by: Kevin Kolde, Warren Ellis
Stars: Richard Armitage, James Callis, Graham McTavish, Alejandra Reynoso, Tony Amendola, Matt Frewer, Emily Swallow
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Comic legend Warren Ellis, despite apparently having no familiarity with the Castlevania videogame series, somehow managed to take one look at its imagery and turn it into gold for Netflix in the frustratingly short first season of this series (a mere four episodes—about a feature film in length). Impeccably cast, and reuniting multiple dwarves of The Hobbit series (Richard Armitage as Trevor Belmont, Graham McTavish as Dracula), those four episodes are a sumptuous gothic feast of bloodletting and dizzying anime action sequences. Gory and unrelenting, it also perfectly captures the dark, princely gravitas that has always been infused into Castlevania, and characters such as Dracula and his son Alucard. The first episode, in which a semi-benevolent Dracula loses the love of his life to a mob of luddite priests and prejudiced townfolk who burn her at the stake as a witch, is mouth-dropping in its scenes of grandiose, righteous vengeance. He descends on those poor, helpless fools as a pillar of flame, godlike, obliterating everything in his path and establishing himself as a insurmountable force of nature. Even after seeing the team of heroes assembled to take him down, it’s hard to imagine how they’ll possibly be up for the challenge. —Jim Vorel


9. Ash vs. Evil Dead

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Created by: Ivan Raimi, Sam Raimi, Tom Spezialy
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Jill Marie Jones
Original Network: Starz

Watch on Netflix

Look, Ash vs Evil Dead isn’t simply “a horror TV show.” It’s the TV show-sized version of one of horror’s greatest franchises, the point in time at which Sam Raimi became Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell became Bruce Campbell, and all manner of genres in cinema, from horror to fantasy, gained a new well from which to draw influence. Evil Dead and its descendants are responsible for adding “groovy” and “boomstick” to the “Movies” section of the pop cultural lexicon. It’s the series that gave nerdy guys new heroes to claim as their own in Campbell and in Ash, the book-smart guy who’s as handy with a chemistry textbook as he is with a shotgun. Ash is a nerd, but a roguishly handsome nerd, well-endowed of chin, who can beat the crap out of Deadites, demons, and skeletons all day long. And that’s the essence of Ash vs Evil Dead, distilled into 20-45 minute chunks of pure, unfiltered monster ass-kicking goodness where Ash doles out the harshness and, as is his wont, brings about the fucking apocalypse. (Good job, Ash.) Boil the show down to a mere two-word descriptor, and that descriptor would be “arterial spray.” If you’re a gore junkie who needs to feed their habit like clockwork, Ash vs Evil Dead has your back. The show’s stars—not just Campbell, but the great sidekick team of Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo—regularly run up on Deadites with deli slicers, chainsaws, hand cannons, you name it. And if you need to have your funny bone tickled, well, Ash and company have you covered there, too. It’s the perfect blend of unapologetic black humor and batshit violent insanity to get you your horror fix, week in and week out. —Andy Crump


8. Dexter

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Created by: James Manos Jr.
Stars: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, James Remar, C.S. Lee, Lauren Vélez
Original Network: Showtime

Watch on Netflix

The character development of Dexter Morgan over eight seasons was fascinating to follow. If Season 1 saw us trying to come to terms with our empathy towards a serial killer who kills other serial killers, we were eventually cheering an old friend’s slow progression towards something akin to humanity. His moral code might be a world away from ours, but he often does a better job adhering to it than the rest of us. In addition to the constant edge-of-your-seat plot twists, each season (even the later, shakier ones) gave us incredible guest stars as allies and antagonists, including Jimmy Smits, John C. Lithgow, Peter Weller, Mos Def, Edward James Olmos and Julia Stiles. —Josh Jackson


7. Black Mirror

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Created by: Charlie Brooker
Stars: Various, anthology
Original Network: Netflix/Channel 4 (UK)

Watch on Netflix

There are probably times in most of our lives when we see our technological world as more of a dystopia than a utopia. The way it curbs our freedom, diminishes our privacy, and subjects us to anonymous attacks can feel like an unforgivable violation. But the worst part is, we’re complicit—we’ve accepted the intrusion, and in some cases, or even most cases, we’ve become addicted. The ubiquity of technology is a reality that we can’t fight against, and to maintain our sanity, we have to accept it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth questioning, which is exactly what Black Mirror is all about. The title is nearly perfect, as explained by creator Charlie Brooker: “The black mirror of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.” The job of this show is to reflect our society in an unflattering light, and they do it with a new cast and a new story in each episode. This is not fun watching—it’s mostly horrifying—but even if our brave new world is inescapable, the show represents a kind of protest that feels more necessary than ever. —Shane Ryan


6. Alias Grace

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Created by: Sarah Polley, Mary Harron
Stars: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Rebecca Liddiard, Zachary Levi, Kerr Logan, David Cronenberg, Paul Gross, Anna Paquin
Original Network: CBC/Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Adapted by Sarah Polley from Margaret Atwood’s historical novel, and directed by Mary Harron with forthright shudders of psychological horror, this sterling Canadian limited series is a tightly constructed marvel. In Canada in 1859, “celebrated murderess” Grace Marks (the brilliant Sarah Gadon) submits to an interview with Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), and their ongoing conversation unearths a pattern of violence and trauma, which Alias Grace spins into a scintillating mystery, an intricate biographical portrait, a lushly appointed period drama, and a ferocious treatment of the distance between what “the world at large” deigns to call harm and the countless ways men cause it. —Matt Brennan


5. Mindhunter

Created by: Joe Penhall
Stars: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv, Cotter Smith and Cameron Britton
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

The name and the description may have you assuming that this is a typical network procedural: FBI agents interview psychopaths in order to catch murderers. But Mindhunter is as much Mad Men as it is Law & Order. Produced by David Fincher and Charlize Theron, the story follows two real-life agents, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff, from HBO’s Looking as well as the original King George III in Hamilton on Broadway) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), along with consulting psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) in the FBI’s nascent Behavioral Science Unit. Joe Penhall’s series is based on a similarly titled true crime book. Interviewing and cataloguing convicted serial killers (a phrase the trio invents) leads to them helping on active cases, but it also affects each of their personal lives in different ways. Cameron Britton is particularly unforgettable as notorious murderer and necrophiliac Edmund Kemper. —Josh Jackson


4. Stranger Things

Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Stars: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Say what you will about the finer points of its storytelling, Stranger Things continues to be an unabashed celebration of the 1980s, from its own filmic references regarding style and story to a cavalcade of literal references from the era. Its plucky set of kid and teen characters battle monsters (real or within themselves) and go to the mall. It’s a nostalgic dream and a creepfest nightmare. But whether it’s set during Halloween or in the throes of a mid-80s summer, the show’s carefully crafted aesthetics always serve to augment the joyful nature of the series’ non-monster moments. And that, really, is where Stranger Things shines. The creep factor is important (and occasionally actually scary or super gory), but it acts as an almost funny juxtaposition to the otherwise happy-go-lucky look at suburban life. Mainly, though, it’s the friendships and coming-of-age stories, the relationships and family bonding, that really make Stranger Things great. For better or worse, the Netflix horror series is as tasty, messy, and fleeting as an ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day. Ahoy!—Allison Keene


3. The Haunting of Hill House

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Created by: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser, Timothy Hutton
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

The aesthetic of The Haunting of Hill House makes it work not only as horror TV, but also as a deft adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel. The monsters, ghosts and things that go bump on the wall are off-screen, barely shown or obscured by shadow. The series even goes back to some of the first film adaptation’s decisions, in terms of camera movement and shot design, in order to develop uneasiness and inconsistency. Well, maybe “inconsistency” is the wrong word. The only thing that feels truly inconsistent while watching it is your mind: You’re constantly wary of being tricked, but the construction of its scenes often gets you anyway. By embracing the squirm—and the time necessary to get us to squirm rather than jump—The Haunting of Hill House is great at creating troubling scenarios, and even better about letting us marinate in them. (For slightly less scares and a great gothic romance, watch the follow-up The Haunting of Bly Manor, which you can also start with) —Jacob Oller


2. The Twilight Zone

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Created by: Rod Serling
Stars: Various, anthology
Original Network: CBS

Watch on Netflix

It is, in the estimation of any sane person, one of the greatest science fiction series of all time without a doubt, with its myriad episodes about technology, aliens, space travel, etc. But The Twilight Zone also plumbed the depths of the human psyche, madness and damnation with great regularity, in the same spirit as creator Rod Serling’s later series, Night Gallery. Ultimately, The Twilight Zone is indispensable to both sci-fi and horror. Its moralistic playlets so often have the tone of dark, Grimm Brothers fables for the rocket age of the ‘50s and ‘60s, urban legends that have left an indelible mark on the macabre side of our pop culture consciousness. What else can one call an episode such as “Living Doll,” wherein a confounded, asshole Telly Savalas is threatened, stalked and ultimately killed by his abused daughter’s vindictive doll, Talky Tina? Or “The Invaders,” about a lonely woman in a farmhouse who is menaced by invaders from outer space in an episode almost entirely without dialog? Taken on its own, a piece of television such as “The Invaders” almost shares more in common with “old dark house” horror films or the slashers that would arrive 20 years later than an entry in a sci-fi anthology. —Jim Vorel


1. Twin Peaks

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Created by: David Lynch, Mark Frost
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Joan Chen, Eric Da Re, Sherilyn Fenn
Original Network: ABC

Watch on Netflix

At its heart, Twin Peaks was a detective story, with Dale Cooper (Kyle Maclachan), a stalwart, by-the-book FBI agent, descending upon the small logging town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of a young woman. But since this was a TV series conceived using the weird and wonderful visions of David Lynch, it wound up being so much more. Like its nearest antecedent, Blue Velvet, it explores the strangeness that lies beneath the surface of Anytown, U.S.A., including a lot of soap opera-like psychosexual drama and assorted oddball characters like The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) and agoraphobic Harold Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen). The horror of the show came in with the supernatural underpinnings of this storyline, with the killer of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) potentially being an otherworldly force that goes by the name of Bob. Through Lynch’s lens and through the guise of actor Frank Silva, that spirit permeated every last scene in the show, no matter how outlandish and far-reaching it got. With the help of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting score and the atmosphere created by the set designers, you spent the entirety of the two seasons waiting for something terrible to happen to everyone on screen. And it only made those moments—when things did go sour—feel that much worse. Twin Peaks: The Return, continues with wild surrealism and resistance to narrative confirm the visionary nature of Lynch’s original, including one of the most visually stunning episodes of all time. —Robert Ham



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