15 Best Horror TV Series

Apologies in advance to Rick Grimes. Sorry, Ricky.

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For horror fans, the striking lack of high quality horror in television is frustrating. Why are horror TV series so rarely effective? Is there something about the traditional narrative of a scary story that doesn't work as well serialized as in film? Then what about the anthology format?

Streaming services such as Netflix and Shudder have breathed new life into horror telly in recent years; although sometimes you do have to sift your way through the cheaply made, unimaginative crap to find yourself a gem. Stranger Things, for example, is one of the most inventive products of the streaming age of television, although its inclusion here might push the definition of 'horror' a touch to far.

In a TV series, strong characterization is far more crucial to its effectiveness than in film, particularly in the horror genre. If we don't give a damn about your characters, why should we feel compelled to return for the next episode to see if such-and-such meets their grisly end? That's where the initially promising The Walking Dead quickly started to crumble into a soulless mess (but that's a rant for another time).

Ahead is a selection of the 15 most enjoyable series of the horror genre; some deeply flawed with unquestionable entertainment value, others genuine masterpieces.

Made-for-TV horror movies, such as Salem's Lot and Stephen King's IT, aren't counted.

15. Scream

Bates Motel Freddie Highmore

This choice may be rather controversial; its value really lies in guilty pleasure viewing. Most people over the age of 12 rolled their eyes at the prospect of a Scream TV revival. It’s understandable; there’s no avoiding the fact that Ghostface looks unforgivably naff, and that its teen protagonists look like they’ve wondered in from the Disney Channel.

The series is lacking in the wit and charm that made the film such a landmark of horror cinema, and the dialogue is often a bit cringey, but it’s certainly not the embarrassing write-off that we had it set up to be. As long as you don’t go in expecting a fresh, intelligent take on the genre, it’s surprisingly a very enjoyable watch.

As tiring as it can get trying to invest in impossibly pretty people with little substance, there are a few characters that you find yourself getting behind. There are one or two stereotypes, but it’s forgivable. One strength that the series did successfully lift from the movies is the unpredictability of who is next for the slaughter.

On the downside, the self-aware script and endless horror references that were charming in the 90s haven’t translated very well. Yes, we get it: how very meta. It wears thin pretty quickly, although the same can be said for the Scream sequels, in hindsight.

Switch off your brain , and just enjoy it for what it is.

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Olivia Bradbury hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.