Top Horror TV Series From the Last 25 Years as Ranked by IMDb Usersby IMDb-Contributing-Writers | last updated - 25 Jan 2017
IMDb users aren't afraid of the dark. Far from it. They embrace the scary and the supernatural, especially these top 20 horror shows. To be clear, we included only "horror" TV series released after 1990, and they had to have at least 20,000 votes. Do you disagree with the rankings? Better shuffle off and vote your favorites to the top. — Gina Carbone
20. "Haven" – Rating 7.6
As you might expect, Syfy has a few titles on this list, including "Haven," which was loosely based on the Stephen King novel "The Colorado Kid" and set, as many King stories are, in a fictional Maine town with supernatural issues. If you'll recall, King's novel, "The Tommyknockers," also took place in Haven.
"Haven" lasted five seasons from 2010 to 2015 before it was canceled. One IMDb user posted a review in 2011 comparing the series to "The X-Files":
"When the X-files was over, I always wondered if there was ever going to be another show that I liked as much as TXF. Or a show that had all the elements that could be very appealing to me. Eight years later, Haven aired. [...] The show started off pretty slow, where you get to know the characters and several stories that might have holes, but give it a try. Because it gets better and ends in a scene that makes you want to watch more."
19. "Moonlight" – Rating 7.7
In a way, "Moonlight" was cursed. It premiered in 2007 and aired Friday nights on CBS, getting only 16 episodes in total — and those episodes were broken up by a hiatus for the Writers Guild of America strike.
Fans hoped that "Moonlight" would end up on another network, but it didn't come to pass. If you head to the message boards, you can see fans still miss the show, which starred Alex O'Loughlin as Mick St. John, who was turned into a vampire by his wife on their wedding night 50-some years prior, and went on to work as a private eye in modern L.A. There's a thread titled "ugh I miss this show!!!" that was launched in Februrary 2015, several years after the 2008 cancellation. As one user wrote:
"I really wish they would do something for 'Moonlight' like they did for 'Firefly' and make a movie. At least that way, hopefully there would be more closure."
18. "Teen Wolf" – Rating 7.7
Anyone who watched the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie Teen Wolf might be surprised to see MTV adapt it into a TV series more than 20 years later. Not only did they make a series, but it ran for six seasons and remains popular. Tyler Posey has the lead role of Scott, the high school student bitten by a werewolf, who gets help from his best friend (Dylan O'Brien) and others to try to cope with his new reality.
Why does "Teen Wolf" still attract fans into 2016? If you look at the IMDb user reviews, there are several comparisons to Twilight, mocking the film and preferring this take. Here's part of one such review:
"When I started watching the first episode, I didn't expect anything, 'cause I didn't know the actors or what the story was going to be. At the end I realized it was quick, it had funny dialogues, it wasn't not pretentious, and it was absolutely FUN! It's what was made to be! [...] "Teen Wolf" is what 'Twilight' fails to be: FUN!"
17. "Grimm" – Rating 7.8
David Giuntoli stars as a Portland homicide detective who discovers he's descended from a line of hunters called Grimms who fight supernatural forces. NBC's dark drama, inspired loosely from Grimms' fairy tales, still attracts a decent audience, averaging 4 million, for its Friday night slot and was renewed for a sixth season.
Here's part of a review from one IMDb user:
"In the beginning, I thought that it was a blend of "CSI" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." However, after watching all the episodes, it has made its own unique mark. Therefore, the GRIMM has a 'thumbs up' from me. Keep it going, or at least find a good adoptive station to carry its flag."
16. "Being Human" (BBC) – Rating 7.8
There are two "Being Human" TV shows out there. This is the original BBC series set in the U.K., which earned a higher rating from users than the Syfy remake. The other "Being Human" has a not-too-shabby 7.5 rating.
In the BBC series, a werewolf (Russell Tovey), a ghost Lenora Crichlow), and a vampire (Aidan Turner) live together in England and try to live "normal" modern lives while also being supernatural entities. The British series went on for five seasons, from 2008 to 2013, with the original cast members leaving and new characters arriving.
15. "The Vampire Diaries" – Rating 7.8
When it launched in 2009, this show based on the book series by L.J. Smith gave The CW its biggest premiere audience at the time. The series was renewed for Season 8, but it was recently announced that there will be no Season 9.
More than 210,00 IMDb users voted for this title. So, it's clearly a popular show, but the fans are passionate and very opinionated. If you read their comments and reviews you can see they care enough about this show to hold it to a high standard, which maybe isn't the case for some of the higher-rated shows that have smaller fan bases. Also, whenever a show is in the public eye as much as "The Vampire Diaries," a show that has won several Teen Choice and People's Choice Awards, it earns its share of critics. You can find them on the boards as well.
14. "True Blood" – Rating 7.9
Anna Paquin won a Golden Globe Award after her first season as Sookie Stackhouse in this sexy HBO dramedy, putting the series — and fictional Bon Temps, La. — on the map. "True Blood" was based on "The Southern Vampire Mysteries" by Charlaine Harris. And if it had ended after its first few seasons, it probably would've ranked higher on this list.
If you look at the individual episode ratings, most of the highest-rated episodes are in the first two seasons, with a few sprinkled in from Seasons 3 to 6, with fans loving the initial stories for Anna Paquin's Sookie, Stephen Moyer's Bill Compton, and Alexander Skarsgard's Eric Northman. The later episodes rank much lower, but 200,000 fans took the time to rate this series, giving it an 8.0 average. So, it clearly left a (fangtastic) mark on television culture.
13. "iZombie" – Rating 8.0
The CW has developed a strong horror niche over the years, and the network found success with this relatively new show, which premiered in March 2015 and recently was renewed for a third season. Rose McIver plays a former medical resident who becomes a zombie and works as a coroner's assistant. When she eats human brains — as zombies must — she takes on the memories and traits of the deceased subjects. The quirky premise is based on a comic book series, and the TV show has developed its own loyal following.
Here's part of an IMDb user review, written after the first episode premiered:
"Veronica Mars meets something new. Thats really the only way to describe this. The dialog is quick-witted and funny. It's got a case of the weekly setup, which makes it perfect for casual watching, and the expected twist at the end of the first episode shows there will indeed be a story going beyond the case of the week."
12. "Bates Motel" – Rating 8.1
A&E's modern-day prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Psycho is thriving. Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga anchor the psychological thriller as Norman Bates and his mother Norma. "Bates Motel" was renewed for a fifth season, making it A&E's longest-running original scripted drama series.
The IMDb user reviews are filled with fans giving variations on the same critique — that they loved the Hitchcock film and weren't sure what to expect but found themselves pleasantly surprised. However, this is a show with a smaller overall fan base than some of the big hitters on here.
11. "Penny Dreadful" – Rating 8.2
Showtime's ambitious 19th century gothic drama draws on famous characters in literature, including Dorian Grey, Mina Harker, Dr. Jekyll, and Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. Eva Green shines as mysterious Vanessa Ives, a role that earned her an IGN Award in 2014. The show itself was named Most Exciting New Series at the Critics' Choice Television Awards in 2014. Unfortunately, the show was canceled after three seasons; however, the fans still support the show, which is often compared to another horror series, at least on one IMDb message board thread. As one fan put it:
"[T]his show is actually fun to watch. It's a great reimagining of all the classic horror monsters but updated with some creative new twists to make them fresh and unpredictable. And the gore and the sex scenes never feel like they're there just for shock value like they are on "American Horror Story." They always seem to be integral to the plot on "Penny Dreadful.""
10. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" – Rating 8.2
Did you think this one would be higher? Maybe it should be. When Joss Whedon wrote the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who imagined he'd turn it into an acclaimed TV series on The WB and UPN from 1997 to 2003? In case you're wondering, David Boreanaz's spinoff "Angel" ended up almost as popular.
Sarah Michelle Gellar inspired a new generation of badass slayers as Buffy, and the show's fan base is still loyal, debating favorite episodes and seasons. For the record, Season 6, Episode 7, the musical episode "Once More, With Feeling," currently has the top rating at 9.8.
9. "American Horror Story" – Rating 8.2
Fans have strong feelings about FX's anthology horror series, or at least about each individual season. Overall, "AHS" is ranked high by IMDb users. When "AHS" was renewed for a sixth season, FX CEO John Landgraf noted that the series had become FX's highest-rated show "while also pushing every conceivable boundary of creative excellence and audacity."
But each season is essentially its own unique show, and not all of those shows have been well-received. The highest individual episode ratings have gone to Season 1 ("Murder House") and Season 2 ("Asylum"), with occasional higher ratings for Season 4 ("Freak Show") and Season 3 ("Coven"). Nothing from the most recent season, "Hotel," is anywhere close to the top. And yet more than 186,400 users took the time to rate the series on IMDb, and liked it enough for it to have a 8.2.
8. "Courage the Cowardly Dog" - Rating 8.3
Yeah, this one really doesn't look like it fits. But it is in the horror genre. The Cartoon Network series follows a dog who has to overcome his cowardice to fight supernatural and paranormal events. In that way, the show is just like most of the others on this list, and IMDb users have pointed out that it can be pretty scary at times. As one reviewer wrote:
"It can be disturbing in a way at times, but the episodes are always entertaining, clever, and super-original. I haven't yet seen a single boring episode. I love this show. I recommend it to anyone. Little kids might find a few episodes disturbing, but I think they'd like the show anyway."
7. "The Originals" – Rating 8.3
Despite its title, "The Originals" is a spinoff of "The Vampire Diaries," and it may surprise some fans to see it ranked so much higher than, well, the original. Nearly 70,000 users rated this one to an average of 8.4, which is a much smaller base than the 200,000 users who rated "The Vampire Diaries." This show has many very highly-rated individual episodes, with about three dozen rated over 9.0. Here's one user review sharing the enthusiasm of this fandom:
"I am a HUGE "Vampire Diaries" fan! I wasn't ever really all that interested in the original family when they showed it on "Vampire Diaries," nor did I care about them at all. I found them all to be good actors/actress' but the lot wasn't that interesting... This show is very surprising, pleasantly good! It's so interesting, and I really like it! Congrats to the creators for making another amazing show and the acting is great!!"
6. "Hannibal" – Rating 8.6
A network TV show about cannibal serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter? It sounds like a long shot. But the dark and daring series went on to win major kudos from audiences and critics.
Mads Mikkelsen plays Dr. Hannibal Lecter, whom many fans first came to know in the film The Silence of the Lambs. This NBC series is based more on Thomas Harris' novel, "Red Dragon," which is set earlier in Lecter's life and follows his relationship with FBI investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Fans are still mad that the series was canceled after three seasons. Here's a quick user review sharing why the audience will miss it:
""Hannibal" offers gory thrills along with amazing images, fascinating characters, and an outstanding cast. Perhaps the most visual – and visually daring – crime show ever. 9 stars out of 10."
5. "The Walking Dead" – Rating 8.6
AMC's zombie (sorry, walker) juggernaut averages the most 18- to 49-year-old viewers of any cable or broadcast TV series. It's huge. If you watch horror TV, you probably watch this show and have opinions about it. More than 600,000 users voted this one to an average of 8.6, which is way more users than any other show on this list. When fans love this show, they rated the episodes high into the 9.7 range and get hyped for the next hour.
But when they are disappointed, they do what they did to the Season 6 finale, "Last Day on Earth," and give it a dismal 5.7 rating. Fans have high expectations for "The Walking Dead." But even when they are mad, they still talk about the show. (Meanwhile, "The Walking Dead" companion series, "Fear the Walking Dead," still has work to do to make the cut of this list: Season 2 left it with a 7.1 rating.)
4. "Supernatural" – Rating 8.6
Did you know this is the longest-running sci-fi series in the U.S.? Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles earned a massive loyal fan base as the Winchester brothers, who hunt supernatural beings the way so many people on the list tend to do. The series debuted in September 2005, back when The WB still existed, and it's still going strong on The CW, with Season 11 now running and Season 12 to come. More than 230 episodes have aired to date. That's amazing.
One IMDb user remarked about the show, "My favorite series of all time, and with good reason!" And several others made comparisons to another title on this list, with one calling the show, "'The X-Files' of the new millennium."
3. "Ash vs Evil Dead" – Rating 8.6
Groovy! Bruce Campbell became a horror icon as Ash Williams in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead franchise, and Campbell returned to the role for this Starz series set 30 years after the first three movies. The comedy/horror show premiered on Halloween night in 2015, and got the green light for a third season, which is set to air later in 2017.
You may be surprised to see this one rank so high on the list, since it's more of a "cult classic" with episodes that average only about half a million viewers. But fans pushed it high with a 8.7 rating. That's only from some 26,000 users, which means it barely made the over-20K cut. But the people who watched Seasons 1 and 2 loved it enough to rate it high.
Here's one 10/10 user review:
"Was really hoping this was going to kick ass, and it certainly does. It's 'Evil Dead'-tastic. Fans of the films will certainly not be disappointed: Cheesy jokes, gore, and chainsaw/shotgun action against the Dead-ites abounds. It feels like a natural extension of 'Evil Dead 2,' with Ash gone to seed and feeling the miles as he straps on the shotgun to do battle again. Brilliant. The pacing, laughs, and splatters come thick and fast. It just feels right and is pitched at just the right level for the nostalgia crowd and the horror fans alike. Winner!!"
2. "The X-Files" – Rating 8.7
The truth is out there, and fans want to believe that, first, this is one of the best shows of all time and, second, it needs to stay on the air. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson introduced alien believer Agent Mulder and skeptical doctor Agent Scully back in 1993, with the show running for nine seasons until 2002. It went away for over a decade, with the exception of a couple of films, and just returned for a brief six-episode run in 2016.
The early years are still the highest-rated, with fans in the message boards talking about seasons they skipped and debating the merits of the recent Season 10. But if another season gets the green light, do you think any one of those fans won't be there to watch?
1. "Stranger Things" – Rating 9.0
While it is the newest title on the list, it has shot straight to No. 1 with a solid 9.0 rating. Fans are absolutely bonkers for this show. This series sports an ensemble cast but the performances from Millie Bobby Brown, Winona Ryder, and David Harbour really shine through in a story where a boy's disappearance brings a mother, the boy's friends, and a local town sheriff together to battle terrifying forces in order to bring the boy back home.