Looking for a Halloween Binge? Fans Say These Are the Scariest TV Shows
Horror stories keep audiences’ hearts racing year-round, but such frightful tales have a particular appeal every October in the lead-up to Halloween.
So if you need a little adrenaline in your life—if, say, you could use a jump-scare or two—we’ve culled social media users’ recommendations for the most terrifying TV shows.
Some of the spooky series below are freaky and fantastical farces, some show that real life can be scarier than fiction, and some warn us about possible futures that really would be the darkest timeline. Just don’t blame us for any sleepless nights…
Airing on Britain’s Channel 4 before moving to Netflix, this anthology show depicts the perils of technology—and the series’ near-future settings indicate such perils are close at hand. “Black Mirror has some disturbing content and very intense episodes,” one Reddit fan said, with another calling the show “total mindf–k material.”
This Emmy-winning 2019 HBO miniseries depicted not just the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in what is now Ukraine, but also the suffering of those who were first on the scene, the inaction of those who could have prevented the accident, and the heroism of the those who kept the situation from getting even worse. “Chernobyl scared the crap out of me because I had no idea how close we were to an even larger catastrophe,” a viewer tweeted.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, this Emmy-winning Hulu series depicts a violent dystopia in which fertile women are enslaved as child-bearers. “The Handmaid’s Tale is the most jaw-dropping and scariest TV show I have ever seen,” a Twitter user raved.
The Haunting of Hill House
This 10-episode series—the first of Mike Flanagan’s Netflix horror shows—adapts a classic Shirley Jackson novel into a tale of generational horror dealt upon a family that moves into a haunted mansion. “Haunting of Hill House was the scariest to me thus far,” a viewer wrote on Reddit. A Twitter user, meanwhile, said, “Couldn’t get past Episode 2.”
The first season of AMC’s horror anthology dramatized an ill-fated Arctic expedition in the 1840s; the second jumped forward a century to tell a tale set in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. “The Terror was a master class in character-driven, tension-building horror,” one Redditor said. “There is a truly shocking and unexpected death sequence around Episode 3 or 4 that was among the most gut-wrenching, existential character deaths I’ve seen in any medium.”
David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult classic ABC series followed FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he traveled around the titular Pacific-Northwest town, encountering surreal situations as he tries to solve the murder of a local homecoming queen. “Twin Peaks isn’t ‘horror,’ per se, but is close and has some of the scariest scenes and moments I’ve ever seen on television,” one viewer observed on Reddit. Another commenter said that the Showtime continuation “really ramps up the horror elements.”
The original NBC version of this documentary series presented unresolved cases of crimes, disappearances, and paranormal phenomena. “Every time I heard that theme song as a child, my body would lock up,” one Twitter fan said. Another wrote, “Many is the sleepless night I had as a kid, knowing with dread certainty that the ghosts were going to descend upon my house, and every murderer was going to slink in through my window and murder my family.”
This ’90s-era Fox sci-fi series—and its 2010s continuation—starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as two FBI agents on the trail of government conspiracies, alien abductions, super-soldiers, and monsters-of-the-week. “The X-Files had some deeply disturbing episodes that gave me nightmares as a child,” one Twitter user revealed. Another highlighted the Season 4 installment “Home,” writing, “That one episode scared the bejesus out of me!”
Which of these shows would you say is the scariest? Sound off in the poll below!