Entertainment

The Scariest TV Shows to Stream Right Now

stranger things
'Stranger Things' | Netflix
'Stranger Things' | Netflix

When spooky season approaches, there's few better ways to get in the mood than putting on a horror classic or heading to the theaters to check out the latest and greatest additions to the jump-scare canon. Even better for your wallet and penchant for wearing sweatpants: Opt to stay in and binge a scary TV show instead, be it revisiting a longtime favorite or a recent underrated show hailing from today's gamut of television with a spooky bent.

We've rounded up the best scary shows that are available to stream right now. If you're looking for a movie marathon, too, check out our roundups of the best horror movies on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

american horror story murder house
FX

American Horror Story (2011- )

Haunted houses where residents go to die, asylums far from up to code, freak shows, and seedy motels -- they're all fodder for horror story tropes, and make for ample material in Ryan Murphy's long-lived anthology series. Like these themes and others, the king of camp showrunner subverts them to tell a nuanced and often deranged story featuring the likes of his recurring cast members: Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, and others. Each season takes on its own tone, but you'll find yourself getting spooked in some more than others. (Asylum is particularly disgusting and Murder House is full of things that go bump in the night, whereas Coven is sheer witchy fun). You also don't necessarily have to watch each season in order (although it makes it easier to notice interesting connections throughout the AHS universe), so if you need a suggestion on which season to watch, check out our complete ranking here
Where to watch it:Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix

bates motel
A&E

Bates Motel (2013-2017)

Ever wonder what Norman Bates of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho fame was up to before his psychosis culminated in the horror classic? Well, he wasn't up to anything good, and his life as a teenage psychopath with serious mommy issues is documented in this thrilling TV drama. From acquiring the notorious motel to his first kill, there’s never a dull moment over the course of five seasons between Norman (Freddie Highmore) and his twisted mother, played by a disturbingly haunting Vera Farmiga. As much as you'd like for the seemingly quiet teen to be a misunderstood outcast, it's a nightmare in itself having to accept the complicated character's fate and watching a notorious murderer come to be. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

black mirror
Jonathan Prime/Netflix

Black Mirror (2011- )

Each installment of Charlie Brooker's addicting anthology takes a current techno-social phenomenon -- topics that range from hashtags to five-star ratings -- to its extreme and asks whether human nature can truly coexist with it. Part satire and part (unintentional) prophecy, the series presents an appropriately grim view of the future, one that will definitely make you worry for the next generation and maybe even galvanize you to action. Binge this platter of paranoia cautiously.
Where to watch it:Netflix

castle rock
Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Castle Rock (2018- )

This Hulu original is one for the Stephen King devotees. Inspired by the seminal (and fictional) Maine town of Castle Rock where much of the writer's work takes place, this series brings his classic characters together for a new set of horror stories. The first chapter in the anthology focuses on lawyer Henry Deaver (Andre Holland), who reluctantly returns to his hometown when a strange man called "The Kid" (played creepily by Bill Skarsgård) is discovered in a cage in Shawshank State Penitentiary and asks to see him. What feels like a psychological thriller quickly proves to be otherwise, as these two inadvertently reveal secrets to their hometown and the darkness that's long given it a bad reputation. Castle Rock is always eerie -- but don't hide under the covers too long or you could miss one of its many clever King Easter eggs, which is half of the show's spooky fun. 
Where to watch it: Hulu

channel zero
Syfy

Channel Zero (2016-2018)

An anthology horror series, Channel Zero's based off of several different creepypastas, or horror legends that proliferate on the internet (think Slenderman). The first installment of the series was based off of Kris Straub's Candle Cove, a story about a man's obsessive recollection of a 1980s television program. While the incredibly unsettling series was cancelled at SyFy after four seasons, all of Channel Zero is available to watch on Amazon Prime via Shudder, an affiliate horror and thriller streaming service, for $4.99 a month.
Where to watch it:Amazon Prime

chilling adventures of sabrina
Jeff Weddell/Netflix

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018- )

Sabrina Spellman is a typical teenage girl, aside from the fact that she's a half-witch and lives in a supernatural household with her two witchy aunts and her warlock cousin. The heroine, played by Mad Men's dynamic Kiernan Shipka, must find her footing in both the human world and her new world of witchcraft: once she turns 16, she must choose whether or not to sign her name in the Book of the Beast and over to the Dark Lord, who, unbeknownst to her, sees the increasingly powerful young witch as the perfect vessel for his most evil bidding. The series takes characters and inspiration from the Archie comics universe and even has Riverdaleshowrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa at its helm -- but this is no typical teen drama or the Melissa Joan Heart type of Sabrina the Teenage Witch you may remember from the '90s. It’s pretty damn Satanic and a bit grotesque, with darkness looming around every corner and some cannibalism for good measure.
Where to watch it:Netflix

dark
Netflix

Dark (2017- )

Netflix’s first German-language original series, Dark is a Stranger Things-adjacent mind trip focused on the fictional German town of Winden. There's time travel, a creepy cave, mysterious bodies, and time paradoxes in spades, all of it tying back to a group of teenagers and their multi-generational families. At the center of it all is Jonas, a teen coping with his father's suicide when his world begins to unravel. The series' first season largely focuses on unraveling the mystery: corpses with charred out eyes appear in the forest, children mysteriously disappear in multiple timelines. While the second season turns up the galaxy braining and gets difficult to follow, overall Dark is one of Netflix’s hidden gems and a perfect fit for the spooky season. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

Devilman Crybaby
Netflix

Devilman Crybaby (2018)

Devilman Crybaby was the anime series that proved that Netflix Original anime could be good. Netflix entrusted visionary director Masaaki Yuasa to reinvent the classic Devilman series, which follows the sensitive Akira Fudo as he's pushed into fusing with a demon by his friend Ryo Asuka in a desperate attempt to save humanity from impending doom. All the events from the source material are tweaked, fully transforming the narrative and grounding it in modern times, and yet the consequences and message stay the same. Violent, surreal, and explicit -- this is not an anime for kids, folks!! -- the adaptation exploits the freedom afforded by Netflix's platform with content that wouldn't fly on TV. It's a great, shocking horror romp with a surprising amount of heart. 
Where to watch it:Netflix

the exorcist
FOX

The Exorcist (2016-2018)

FOX's spiritually fucked-up reboot takes the 1973 movie's soul-saving concept and turns it into something like a more serious Ghostbusters TV show. In Season 1, two badass priests -- one in better standing with the church than the other -- try to prevent one family from descending into total hellish chaos. It's a riveting and surprisingly touching roller-coaster ride. It's also extremely, and lovably, gross. In Episode 2, one of the protagonists barfs up what looks like two bottles of Green Machine and then yanks a near-never-ending centipede out of her mouth -- almost like the Santa Clarita Diet pilot minus the comic relief. The rest of the show takes after its big-screen predecessor, with the added benefit of contemporary makeup and effects, to show that head-spinning demonic possession can do the body a lot of bad.
Where to watch it: Hulu

hannibal
Sony Pictures Releasing

Hannibal (2013-2015)

Arguably the cream of the recent horror TV crop, this fascinating, gruesome, and wonderfully shot series somehow managed to turn even the most ardent Manhunter/Silence of the Lambs fans into loyal viewers. Bottom line: When showrunner Bryan Fuller's (Pushing Daisies) name is in the credits and Mads Mikkelsen is your lead madman, you give that damn show a shot. To say that Hannibal pushed the boundaries of "network TV horror" would be a massive understatement; even more impressive is how darkly entertaining this series turned out to be.
Where to watch it:Amazon Prime

haunting of hill house
Steve Dietl/Netflix

The Haunting of Hill House (2018- )

Shirley Jackson's classic horror novel doesn't get the most faithful adaptation in this engrossing series from executive producer Mike Flanagan (Gerald's Game, Ouija: Origin of Evil). This Hill House has some nasty tricks hidden in its dark hallways. Instead of treating the book like a roadmap, Flanagan and his writing staff approach it like a mood board: They contextualize specific character traits, creepy settings, unsettling plot points, and even bits of Jackson's prose over the course of the first season's 10 episodes to chilling effect. Pinging between two time periods with carefully edited (and clever) transitions, the show follows the Crain family as they renovate the foreboding house in the past and deal with the psychosocial fall-out of their time there in the present. Like the best ghost stories, The Haunting of Hill House doesn't just try to startle you with jump scares and violent imagery. It wants to take up residence in your mind. 
Where to watch it:Netflix

over the garden wall
Cartoon Network

Over the Garden Wall (2014)

A modern Halloween classic, Patrick McHale's Over the Garden Wall follows two half-brothers, Greg (Collin Dean) and Wirt (Elijah Wood), who must find their way home through a supernatural forest after taking a tumble... over a garden wall. Along the way, they meet adventure buddies (like Beatrice, a talking bluebird) and do their best to avoid The Beast, a mysterious creature who stalks the forest, collecting lost souls. The 10-episode miniseries, which originally aired on Cartoon Network, balances frightening themes and otherworldly animated imagery with genuinely goofy and charming moments. Its final episodes, in particular, pack a terrifying, emotional punch that reveal the deeper metaphorical level the series was operating on the whole time, which turns a great series into a masterpiece.
Where to watch it: Hulu

penny dreadful
Showtime

Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

Uniting gothic literature icons like Dorian Gray and Dr. Frankenstein with all-new Victorian characters to fight supernatural forces in an original series might sound like a recipe for utter ridiculousness. Instead, John Logan's period piece, Penny Dreadful, is a cinematic show that manages to combine a wide array of famous monsters in a way that's as smart and classy and creepy as the beloved source material it draws from. It's a three-season classic that horror fans will continue to discover for years to come.
Where to watch it: Netflix, Showtime

scream queens
FOX

Scream Queens (2015-2016)

With American Horror Story in his wheelhouse, it's clear showrunner Ryan Murphy can do horror and camp like no other. It's what he brings -- to the extreme -- in his homage to some of the most iconic, ear piercingly loud, scared survivors in horror: the scream queen. Set on a college campus terrorized by a serial killer who hides behind the school's menacing Red Devil mascot, it calls back to co-ed slasher classics and is ripe with pitch-black comedy. The cast is insane, featuring Murphy typicals like Emma Roberts as sorority mean girl Chanel Oberlin (who is terrifying in her own right), Billie Lourd, and Lea Michele, plus stars like Ariana Grande, Keke Palmer, and OG Halloween scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, among others. If you can stomach the gore (and absurdity), you're in for hell of a mystery.
Where to watch it: Hulu

stranger things
Netflix

Stranger Things (2016- )

If you are one of maybe 12 people who have yet to see Netflix’s most talked-about original series, just know that your first binge through will be absolutely terrifying. Yes, Stranger Things has become a Netflix staple for being entrenched in endearing '80s nostalgia, but the show is a recipe for thrills and wonder with all its Spielberg-ian elements like the creepy laboratory at the end of the lane, a kid who goes missing, another kid who appears seemingly out of nowhere, and a strange, dark force hanging over a suburban Indiana town.
Where to watch it: Netflix

the terror
AMC

The Terror (2018- )

An anthology series, The Terror’s first season was one of the most overlooked television series of 2018. Adapted from Dan Simmons' novel of the same, the series tells the story of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror's expedition to find the Northwest Passage in 1845, only to never return. The series puts a horrific, suspenseful bent on the entire affair, while also serving as a damning critique of colonialism. The series' second season, titled The Terror: Infamy, is set during the post-Pearl Harbor Japanese internment of World War II and is currently airing on AMC.
Where to watch it:AMC, Hulu

the twilight zone
CBS

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

Every lauded sci-fi movie or television show owes Rod Serling residuals. Over 156 episodes, Serling speculated and dreamed, refracting his present day through the trippiest scenarios to ever beam through mild-mannered American homes. The Twilight Zone's visual prose took us to jungles, to space, to 20,000ft, and to the sunny block from every person's childhood, where the worst existential revelations tended to lurk. The Twilight Zone still speaks volumes. Buckle up and fly into a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, Hulu, Netflix

twin peaks
CBS

Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

David Lynch and Mark Frost's detective series is often credited with instilling television with artful potential. Without Twin Peaks, there'd likely be no Mad Men or Breaking Bad. And yet, the show's dreamy, saturated look is really a cherry on top. Twin Peaks is a steady stream of oddball characters and fantastical twists, encountered by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he hunts for the murder of a small town teenager. Your weird friends love this show, and for good reason, as it takes some supernatural turns you'll find yourself just as enamored with. It's finally time to understand those Log Lady Halloween costumes.
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, Hulu, Netflix

the walking dead
AMC

The Walking Dead (2010- )

What makes Robert Kirkman's graphic novel-turned-TV saga so great is that it isn't just about curb-stomping zombies. The Walking Dead focuses on complex personal relationships to ask thought-provoking questions about what it means to rebuild society, how to function as a healthy community, and what humanity looks like in a post-apocalyptic age. Just don't get too attached to your favorite characters because, you know, the blood-thirsty zombies are what drive the plot from post-apocalyptic survival mode to absolute terror, as their threat looms at every turn. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and friends live in a very, very unforgiving world.
Where to watch it:AMC, Netflix

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