What are the best horror series of all time? Sometimes you just want a good old fright, but, let’s be honest, not everyone has the time to enjoy a horror film marathon when the urge for killer entertainment comes knocking. Luckily for all of us spooky fans who don’t have two hours to spare or fancy boxsets on our shelves, there are plenty of creepy shows to scratch that terror itch when it comes on a Friday night.
Be it drama series about serial killers, ghostly tales, or cases of possession, the TV landscape of horror is vast, with plenty to pick from. But, although we are spoilt for choice, in the wide sea of terror, it can be hard picking out winners. With that fact in mind, The Digital Fix has consulted the archives and uncovered the top players of the horror TV series bunch.
I mean, there are even fantasy series now about demons and witches, as well as eerie post-apocalyptic adventures. That’s a lot to choose from! So we’ve made sure that every horror fan is catered for, so sit back and get ready to scream – here is our list of the best horror series of all time.
What are the best horror series of all time?
- The Last of Us TV series
- The Twilight Zone
- Midnight Mass
- Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
- Bates Motel
- Courage the Cowardly Dog
- The Walking Dead
- Tales from the Crypt
The Last of Us TV series
The Last of Us TV series on the best horror series list? Isn’t it a bit soon? The answer to that question can be found in our The Last of Us TV series review, but in case you want us to save you a click we bloody loved this show.
It’s tense, thrilling and full of zombies (well they’re called the infected but you know what we mean) what more could you want. Hyperbole aside, what’s most impressive about this adaptation is how it captures the indescribable magic of the videogame. A lot of that comes down to The Last of Us cast who are all incredible especially Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie.
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
The Twilight Zone is one of, if not the best, TV series ever to hit the small screen, period. Rod Serling’s genre-defining anthology is packed full of weird, unsettling short stories that are expertly written, acted, and produced. In short, this sci-fi series is pretty much faultless.
From snapshots of nuclear war, murderous doppelgangers, monsters, and deals with the devil, every episode is a nightmare come to life, and it is easy to see why many consider the ’50s series to be the OG spooky show.
Not many pieces of art can stand the test of time, but even after decades since its first release, The Twilight Zone still terrifies us and continues to inspire horror creators (such as Jordan Peele’s thriller movie Us) to take a swing at the medium.
Midnight Mass (2021)
When it comes to horror series Mike Flanagan has established himself as a modern institution giving us creepy banger after banger. And although we love his work on the Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House and the rest of the budding ‘Flanaverse‘, his 2021 outing, Midnight Mass, stands as his best yet.
Telling the story of a small town with a small vampire problem, Midnight Mass is full of mystery, atmosphere, and stomach-curdling scenes. It’s a horror series that feels as if it could have been an award-winning vampire movie in its own right because, yes, the story is just that gripping.
Midnight Mass is a show that you’ll want to binge, and when it is over, you’ll also realise that it’s a show that will haunt your nightmares and make you reconsider isolated towns and handsome priests for years to come.
From the mind that brought us the comedy series Pushing Daisies, Bryan Fuller’s psychological horror-thriller Hannibal has rightfully earned a cult following since its 2013 release and is still considered one of the best horror shows you can watch.
An adaptation of Thomas Harris’s series of serial killer novels, the show follows the gruesome relationship between the cannibal psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter and the FBI profiler Will Graham.
The drama is juicy, the murder’s bordering on gruesomely artistic, and the writing feels at times like a perfectly crafted fever dream. With awards behind its name, a killer cast including the likes of Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, and stunning visuals, Hannibal is a must-watch for any horror fans with access to a TV.
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (2013 – present)
There are plenty of fantastic horror anime; however, the short anthology show Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories holds a special place in our hearts, thanks to all of its unique visual styles and terrifying folktales. With each episode mimicking the kamishibai method of story-telling (narrated street theatre with revolving pictures), the show feels as if you are watching a scary bedtime story play out in front of your eyes.
The stories tell unsettling urban legends, myths and folktales with Japanese origins and prove to be captivating no matter what mood you are in. With the old-timey art and pacy runtime of around five minutes for each episode, Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories is perfect for horror fans looking for a quick but quality anime series fix.
Bates Motel (2013- 2017)
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Psycho is one of the best horror movies of all time. It introduced us to the serial killer Norman Bates, whose obsession with his mother led to multiple deaths of unlucky souls who happened across his motel. The story is iconic, and it turns out that the series detailing the early life of the famous fictional killer is just as captivating.
Bates Motel tells the story of a young Norman Bates long before he was the cold-blooded killer on the silver screen. Starring Vera Farmiga from The Conjuring movies, and Freddie Highmore as the leading mother and son duo, the show is not only packed with tension as we wait for Norman to change into a killer, but its eery writing and talented performances have granted it universal acclaim, and top horror series status.
Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002)
If you are looking for an animated series that will scar you and your kids for life, well, look no further because Courage the Cowardly Dog is as horrific as it comes. Telling the story of all the creepy encounters Courage the dog and his owners face in the middle of nowhere, it’s a series that plays on our fears. Yes, you may be rolling your eyes right now, saying, ‘but this is just a kid’s cartoon’ well, my friend, you are wrong.
Courage the Cowardly Dog is filled with disturbing imagery, sharp and unsettling saturated colours, and plenty of body horror, with every shot of Courage’s eyes popping out of his head as he screams. Over the years, there have been episodes of monsters, witches trying to sew souls into quilts, killers, ghosts, and of course, some aliens too. In short, its nightmare-inducing and shows every horror monster and trope in the book.
The Walking Dead (2010 – present)
We couldn’t write about the best horror series without mentioning the go-to zombie show now, could we? Based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead is one of the most acclaimed and beloved horror series around and has managed to spawn a massive franchise in its wake.
Telling the story of a group of humans trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse world, the show is full of adrenaline, daywalkers, tears and suspense. It is a series that has everything fans of classic zombie movies would want – be it spicy drama, questionable morals, or high-stakes action.
It’s safe to say that you’ll never feel bored with this playing on your small screen. So yeah, definitely one to add to your watch list.
Chucky (2021- present)
Like all long-running horror movie franchises, the Child’s Play series about the killer doll Chucky has its ups and its downs. Luckily the 2021 TV series by Don Mancini proves to be a strong contender as one of the best entries in the IP yet.
A 14-year-old finds a doll in a yard sale and gets more than he bargained for once murders and shocking events start happening around his small town. It turns out that dear old Chucky is being possessed by the soul of a serial killer, and some grad A slasher antics ensue.
Besides having a high kill count, Chucky tackles themes of trauma, and bullying and manages to meld a coming-of-age story with the gory slasher sub-genre.
Marianne is a French horror series that is downright bone-chilling and doesn’t get half the recognition that it deserves. Telling the story of the famous horror novelist Emma Larsimon, the drama series details her issues in distinguishing reality from the memories of a malevolent witch named Marianne.
That’s right, folks! We are talking some good old-fashioned mind games and supernatural possession. After Marianne possesses her friend’s body, Emma must return to her home town and try to dispel the witch’s curse once and for all. The series is punchy, moody, and well worth your time. However, be warned Netflix cancelled the series after one season (I know, we are upset too), but still, it’s a must-watch and a show that will make you squirm.
Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996)
Get ready to scream and laugh, friends! Tales from the Crypt is a bonafide spooky classic, and if you haven’t noticed already, The Digital Fix is fond of the odd anthology series, so you know that this ’80s spookfest had to make our list. Based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name, Tales from the Crypt sees a wisecracking corpse puppet host a delightfully creepy show.
Each episode is full of tongue-in-cheek humour, is self-contained, and isn’t afraid to kick up the gore and violence to a ten. With a series of awards, recognition and a never-ending list of impressive guest stars such as Star Wars‘ Ewan McGregor and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tales from the Crypt is always a good time.
If you are after more spooky tales, have a look at our lists of the best horror movies, best monster movies, and ghost movies of all time.