Scary Shows on TV: Top 20 Best TV Horror Shows of the Past Decade

scary shows on tv

Are you looking for scary shows on TV to watch? Here is our Top 20 list of the most interesting and best TV horror shows that have screened in the past decade, ranging from not-so-scary horror drama and comedy through to downright terrifying.

You’ll find these best TV horror shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu and other popular streaming services – of course, not each of these scary shows on TV will be available in each streaming service.

We have split the list according to ‘The Best (Actually) Scary Shows on TV’ featuring some of the most interesting and genuinely creepy shows, followed by best TV horror shows in the comedy and teens categories. This should make it easy for you to find something you’ll like.

The Best (Actually) Scary Shows on TV

These genuinely scary shows on TV will give you the creeps, and some will have you looking over your shoulder for weeks!

The Walking Dead (2010–2021)

  • Genre: Zombie apocalypse
  • Creator: Frank Darabont
  • Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride

The horror series ‘The Walking Dead’, based on the comic book bestseller by Robert Kirkman (‘Invincible’), is an epic survival adventure, produced by Frank Darabont (‘Shawshank Redemption’, ‘The Green Mile’) and Gale Anne Hurd (‘Terminator’, ‘Alien’, ‘Armageddon’).

After waking up from a coma in an abandoned hospital, police officer Rick Grimes discovers that the world he knew is gone – now pervaded by a zombie epidemic of epic proportions. Not far away, in a suburb of Atlanta, a small camp of survivors fight for life as the “dead” besiege them every step of the way. Can Rick and the others retain their humanity as they attempt to survive in this terrifying new world? Can they survive with each other in the midst of these superhuman circumstances and personal tensions?

Supernatural (2005–2020)

  • Genre: Horror drama, dark fantasy
  • Creator: Eric Kripke
  • Starring: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jim Beaver

23 years ago Sam (Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Ackles) lost their mother because of a mysterious and demonic supernatural force. Their father raised them as soldiers and taught them all about the paranormal evil that exists in the dark corners and on the remote roads of America and how to destroy it. Faced with bloody tragedies on their dangerous and supernatural mission, the brothers, on their journey, encounter creatures that many believe exist only in folk tradition, superstition and nightmares.

The Strain (2014–2017)

  • Genre: Vampire horror, horror drama
  • Creator: Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan
  • Starring: Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Kevin Durand

Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the CDC’s New York-based Canary Project, is tasked to investigate when an airplane lands with only four survivors and 206 dead. Without explaining what happened, the survivors try to return to their normal lives. But the situation gets worse when all the bodies disappear from the morgue. The doctor and a small group of helpers suddenly find themselves in a fight to protect not only their loved ones, but the entire city from an ancient threat to humanity.

Bates Motel (2013–2017)

  • Genre: Psychological horror
  • Creator: Anthony Cipriano, Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin
  • Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot

This series is a prequel to the classic 1960 film ‘Psycho’, and explores the lives of Norman Bates and his mother Norma before the events featured in Hitchcock’s movie. The series begins with the death of Norma’s husband, when she buys a motel located on the Oregon coast for her and Norman to start a new life.

Hannibal (2013-2015)

  • Genre: Psychological horror
  • Creator: Anthony Cipriano, Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin
  • Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot

The series ‘Hannibal’ investigates the early relationship of a well-known psychiatrist and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.

Penny Dreadful (2014–2016)

  • Genre: Gothic horror
  • Creator: John Logan
  • Starring: Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green

Researcher Sir Malcolm Murray, American gunman Ethan Chandler, scientist Victor Frankenstein and medium Vanessa Ives join forces to fight against supernatural forces.

The Exorcist (2016–2018)

  • Genre: Paranormal horror
  • Creator: Jeremy Slater
  • Starring: Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Kurt Egyiawan

‘The Exorcist’ is a series based on the 1971 story from William Peter Blatty’s book of the same name. Another source is the 1973 William Friedkin film of the same name, which became a true cult in the horror genre. This sets a great challenge for the creators of the series with high expectations from the audience. However, it can already be seen in the first episode that the production crew has prepared an unexpected story, given that the wider audience is already familiar with the subject of ‘The Exorcist’ especially its film adaptation. Actress Geena Davis herself stated that this was not a remake, but rather a brand new project.

Les Revenants (translation: The Returned) (2012–2015)

  • Genre: Paranormal horror
  • Creator: Fabrice Gobert
  • Starring: Anne Consigny, Clotilde Hesme, Frédéric Pierrot

The French series ‘The Returned’ begins in a small mountain community that is shaken when some locals who were considered dead suddenly appear in their homes. Their resurrection leads to a series of complications, causes and consequences.

Outcast (2016-2018)

  • Genre: Paranormal horror
  • Creator: Robert Kirkman
  • Starring: Wrenn Schmidt, Patrick Fugit, Philip Glenister
  • Where to Watch:

This American horror series will delight all those who love the theme of exorcising demons from man, which as you probably guessed, means ‘The Exorcist’ fans will enjoy this series. ‘Outcast’ is a true, full-blooded horror that doesn’t use cheap humor to entertain or desperate jump scares to try and scare viewers.

Kyle Barnes has been haunted by demons all his life. To get rid of them, he seeks the help of a local priest, Anderson, who will help him find out what happened to his family and how to get rid of the demons that are becoming more powerful and violent.

‘Outcast’ originally started as a comic strip written in 2014 by Robert Kirkman, creator and writer of the ‘The Walking Dead’. There are almost no similarities at all, however. ‘The Walking Dead’ is big, loud, dramatic and not overly scary, while on the contrary, ‘The Outcast’ is small, quiet and creepy.

Channel Zero (2016-2019)

  • Genre: Paranormal horror, anthology
  • Creator: Nick Antosca
  • Stars: Brandon Scott, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Abigail Pniowsky

Some will say that Channel Zero is by far the scariest series. The quality is good enough that it has reached its fourth season, despite the fact that many still do not know about it. Each season consists of six episodes that can be viewed separately. At the heart of the story is a man who has persistent memories of a mysterious 1980s children’s program and what role that has in his childhood, which was full of nightmares and deadly events.

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

  • Genre: Paranormal horror
  • Creator: Mike Flanagan
  • Starring: Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Victoria Pedretti

If you have not yet watched this Netflix hit series, you should do so as soon as possible. It is one of the best horror series of all time, and also one of the most convincing. ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ is an adaptation of the 1959 classic novel by Shirley Jackson. ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ is a complex family drama wrapped in a horror story that you will remember for a long time. The series follows a group of siblings who grew up in a house, that later becomes the most notorious haunted house in the country. They are now adults and tragedy has forced them to return and confront ghosts of the past, some of which still lurk in their minds and others that may be watching from the shadows of Hill House.

Tell Me a Story (2018-2020)

  • Genre: Psychological thriller, anthology
  • Creator: Kevin Williamson
  • Starring: Billy Magnussen, Kim Cattrall, Danielle Campbell, Paul Wesley, James Wolk, Dania Ramirez, Sam Jaeger, Davi Santos, Zabryna Guevara, and Dorian Missick

This may be more in the psychological thriller sphere, but there are enough horror elements to justify its inclusion in the horror genre. It is an American remake of the Mexican series ‘Erase una vez’ in which classic fairy tales are retold as twisted psychological thrillers. To put it simply, imagine the horror versions of the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers.

Best TV Horror Shows – Comedy and Light Entertainment

American Horror Story (2011–now)

  • Genre: Horror drama
  • Creator: Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy
  • Starring: Lady Gaga, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and many more

‘American Horror Story’ has the quality of being so bad that it is good. Reactions to ‘American Horror Story’ vary between the two extremes, from people who genuinely adore it and consider it a fantastic series, to those who consider it a bad series. ‘American Horror Story’ is a bizarre, offensive and pointless series of scattered horror clichés and shock moments. It is a pure fun, brainless guilty pleasure which is best not to think about and simply let the pointlessness of the series entertain you.

AHS is an anthology – a series whose seasons are completely independent of each other. At the time of writing there have been 10 seasons, and the series still continues to this day. For a full overview and breakdown of the series, check out our article Best Season American Horror Story: HMW guide to the worst and best American Horror Story seasons.

Being Human (2008–2013)(UK)

  • Genre: Comedy horror
  • Creator: Toby Whithouse
  • Starring: Lenora Crichlow, Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner

A werewolf, a vampire and a ghost try to live together and get along. This lighthearted show explores the everyday dramas they encounter with trying to lead a normal life within human society.

Ash vs Evil Dead (2015–2018)

  • Genre: Comedy horror
  • Creator: Ivan Raimi, Sam Raimi, Tom Spezialy
  • Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo

Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding the responsibility and horrors of the Evil Dead, that is, until the Deadite Plague threatens to destroy all of humanity, making Ash the only hope in fight against evil. This fun horror comedy which heavily references the comedy horror film ‘Army of Darkness’ lasted only three seasons, before being given the axe.

Best TV Horror Shows – Teens and Animated

The Vampire Diaries (2009–2017)

  • Genre: Teen horror drama
  • Creator: Julie Plec, Kevin Williamson
  • Starring: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder

A young teenage girl struggles to make a choice between two vampire brothers that have both fallen for her, and their supernatural lives. Shortly after discovering the truth, her whole world turns upside down. See also ‘The Originals’ (below).

The Originals (2013–2018)

  • Genre: Teen horror drama
  • Creator: Julie Plec
  • Starring: Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt

‘The Originals’ is a spin-off of ‘The Vampire Diaries’, and the pilot episode was aired as part of Season 4 of ‘The Vampire Diaries’. At the centre of the series is the family of original vampires, the Mikaelson. The plot begins with the return of Klaus, Rebekah and Elijah to New Orleans for the first time since 1919. The city they helped build is now under the leadership of Klaus’ protégé Marcel. Klaus’s goal is to overthrow Marcel from the throne and restore what was once his.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

  • Genre: Teen horror drama
  • Creator: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
  • Stars: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis

This series is a reboot of ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ series. It introduces us to Sabrina’s new adventures through a horror story that touches on the occult and witchcraft. Made in the spirit of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Chilling Adventures’ deals with Sabrina’s struggle with accepting her double nature (half mortal, half witch) as she stands against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the whole world.

Junji Ito Collection (2018)

  • Genre: Animated horror, anthology
  • Creator: Shinobu Tagashira (director), Kaoru Sawada (writer)
  • Starring: Various

Animation lovers might be intrigued by this horror series based on the collection of stories by horror anime master Junji Ito. This animated series is suitable for older teens and adults.

Castlevania (2017–2021)

  • Genre: Animated horror
  • Creator: Adi Shankar
  • Starring: Richard Armitage, James Callis, Alejandra Reynoso

A vampire hunter fights to rescue a besieged city from an army of extraterrestrial creatures controlled by Dracula. ‘Castlevania’ is an American-Canadian adult animated series based on the Konami video game franchise of the same name. It is a dark, medieval fantasy that follows the last surviving member of the infamous Belmont clan trying to save Eastern Europe from extinction, at the hands of Vlad Dracula Tepez himself. Japan’s anime films have had a major impact on the series, as seen most by the characters. This show is age-restricted to 18+ in some regions.

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Top 20 Scary Shows on TV article credits: Featured Photo by Elina Krima from Pexels

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