Horror TV shows have witnessed a surge in popularity in recent years, with an array of spine-tingling and psychologically chilling series captivating audiences worldwide. Whether you prefer supernatural horrors, psychological thrillers, or tales of the macabre, the small screen in your home offers a wealth of terror-inducing shows. If you’re looking to fill your dreams with new nightmares, here are ten of the best horror TV shows that you need to be watching.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel, The Haunting of Hill House, is a masterful exploration of familial trauma and supernatural terror. The series unfolds the story of the Crain family, whose experiences in the ominous Hill House continue to haunt them as adults.
With its non-linear narrative, stunning cinematography, and deeply layered characters, The Haunting of Hill House is a modern horror masterpiece that is as emotionally resonant as it is terrifying. Bonus points if you can spot every ghost hiding in the background of different scenes (there are a lot).
American Horror Story (2011)
Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, American Horror Story is an anthology series that reinvents itself with each season, offering a diverse range of horror subgenres. From haunted houses and asylums to witches and cults, each season explores different aspects of terror, often with a touch of social commentary. The show’s ensemble cast, including Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, and Jessica Lange, delivers memorable performances that keep viewers eagerly anticipating each new installment.
The best part about American Horror Story is that you can skip around, only watching seasons with plots you enjoy. Want a story about an insane asylum? Head over to Season 2. Looking for circus freaks and killer clowns? Give Season 4 a go. There are twelve in total today, leaving you with a multitude of options.
Stranger Things (2016)
Stranger Things, created by the Duffer Brothers, is a love letter to ’80s pop culture and horror. Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, the series combines supernatural elements with a nostalgic coming-of-age story. It follows a group of children as they encounter supernatural phenomena, government conspiracies, and the enigmatic creature known as the Demogorgon. Stranger Things is both a thrilling homage to ’80s horror and a captivating adventure filled with heart and friendship.
Penny Dreadful (2014)
Penny Dreadful, created by John Logan, brings together iconic literary characters like Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and Dracula in a dark and Gothic tale set in Victorian London. Eva Green shines as Vanessa Ives, a woman with supernatural abilities who finds herself in the center of a battle between forces of good and evil. The series blends classic horror with complex character exploration and exquisite period detail, creating a rich and atmospheric world of terror.
The Exorcist (2016)
Based on the iconic 1973 film, The Exorcist TV series expands upon the supernatural horror story while introducing new characters and modern-day settings. The show follows two priests, Father Tomas and Father Marcus, as they confront a new demonic possession case. The Exorcist successfully captures the atmosphere of dread and suspense that made the original film a classic while offering fresh and terrifying twists using modern TV technology. If you’re a fan of exorcisms and horror, definitely give this show a try.
The X-Files (1993)
The X-Files, created by Chris Carter, is a landmark series that combines horror, science fiction, and government conspiracy in a unique blend of supernatural detective work. FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, investigate unsolved and paranormal cases known as X-Files.
These are cases deemed unsolvable or just flat-out weird by the FBI and given low priority. The series is known for its compelling mysteries, memorable monsters of the week, and overarching mythology that kept viewers hooked for nine seasons. It’s not exactly a show filled with terror, but the variety of monsters, cases, and unknowns makes it a great watch.
Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal is a psychological horror masterpiece that delves into the mind of the infamous cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter, portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen. While Anthony Hopkins is unbeatable as Dr. Lecter, Mads Mikkelsen certainly gives him a run for his money.
The series follows FBI profiler Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, as he forms a complex and twisted relationship with Dr. Lecter. Hannibal is a visually stunning and intellectually challenging series that explores the boundaries of human psychology and morality.
The Walking Dead (2010)
Based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic horror drama that follows a group of survivors as they navigate a world overrun by flesh-eating zombies called walkers. The series focuses on the human element of survival, exploring themes of morality, leadership, and the consequences of a world without societal norms. The Walking Dead has spawned spin-offs following characters from the original series and continues to be a defining series in the zombie horror subgenre.
Bates Motel (2013)
Bates Motel serves as a contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, exploring the early years of Norman Bates and his tumultuous relationship with his mother, Norma. The series provides a deeper understanding of the character’s descent into madness and murder. Freddie Highmore’s portrayal of Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga’s performance as Norma are both captivating and chilling, making Bates Motel a must-watch for fans of psychological horror.
The Terror (2018)
Inspired by real historical events, The Terror is a chilling anthology series that explores the harrowing experiences of Arctic explorers in the 19th century. Each season tells a different story, with the first season focusing on the ill-fated Franklin Expedition and the second season delving into a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II. The Terror combines historical drama with supernatural horror, creating an atmosphere of isolation, dread, and desperation.