This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (March 2016)

The following is a list of horror television programs. Programs are listed in chronological order.


John Kenneth Muir in his book Terror Television found that most of the American output of horror television programs were more aligned to science fiction with programs like The Outer Limits, fantasy with The Twilight Zone, and crime melodramas with Thriller with only Rod Serling's Night Gallery in the early 1970s being solely horror.[1]

Following World War II, television became the new source of entertainment to replace cinema.[2] Early horror related programs were based on well-established radio programs such as Lights Out and Inner Sanctum.[2] and other popular stories such as The Monkey's Paw , Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and were adapted to Suspense.[2] Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde was among the most popular stories adapted, being done in Climax! in 1955 and again in two years by NBC Matinee Theater.[2] Both shows also made adaptations of Frankenstein and Dracula.[2]

Early horror television work did not have the budget for expensive make-up effects or multiple-camera set-ups which led to stories with more psychological plots and character-driven narratives than traditional monsters.[2] Muir found that television only was able to showcase "some of the most grotesque and complex make-up" seen on network television with the arrival of Night Gallery.[1] Boris Karloff adapted to the medium early with series such as Mystery Playhouse Starring Boris Karloff in 1949 and hosting the unsold series The Veil which was a 10-episode series with a mildly supernatural slant.[3] Writer Nigel Kneale also expanded into television in the United Kingdom with his series The Quatermass Experiment, a hybrid of science fiction and horror, for the BBC.[3] The Quatermass Experiment led to other similar serials being made such as The Trollenberg Terror and The Strange World of Planet X both in 1956.[3]

US television began broadcasting horror films late at night in the 1950s. Local stations used horror hosts such as John Zacherle and Ottola Nesmith to introduce movies from a series of 52 films called Shock.[4]


In the early 1960s, there was a short-lived wave of anthology series such as Moment of Fear, Dow Hour of Great Mysteries, Great Ghost Tales, and Tales of Mystery.[3] Comedic material influenced by the Universal Classic Monsters were introduced in 1964 with The Munsters which ran for two years. Along with The Addams Family, the series would later lead to a series of spin-off films, cartoon adaptations and remakes.[3] In the United Kingdom, Mystery and Imagination ran from 1966 to 1970 and featured hour-long adaptions of classic horror stories such as Dracula and Frankenstein.[3] Supernatural themed soap operas also began appearing with Dark Shadows while the Canadian made Strange Paradise tried to emulate the shows format.[3]


In the early 1970s, Rod Serling's program Night Gallery debuted, alongside similar programs such as The Sixth Sense, Ghost Story, The Evil Touch, Orson Welles Great Mysteries.[5] The two television films The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler led the ABC television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.[5] Other horror related series from the mid-1970s series and specials included The Stone Tape, and short-lived series such as Quatermass, Struck by Lightning, and Supernatural.[5]


"Television has really asked the impossible of its handful of horror programs - to terrify without really terrifying, to horrify without really horrifying, to sell audiences a lot of sizzle and no steak."
—Author Stephen King on television horror in 1980.[6]

In the early 1980s, Hammer Films had their second attempt at television work with Hammer House of Horror, an hour-long anthology show that was later reworked into a format for made-for-television films, known as Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense.[5] Other early series included a pilot for the show Comedy of Horrors in 1981 hosted by Patrick Macnee, Tales of the Haunted hosted by Christopher Lee and Darkroom hosted by James Coburn.[5]

Some television series were adapted from popular film franchises, such as Friday the 13th: The Series which had nothing to do with the film series, but was about an antique store owner trying to recover cursed objects.[5] The late 1980s featured two late anthology series with Tales from the Darkside and Monsters, and Freddy's Nightmares hosted by Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger.[5] Among the longest of these series was HBO's Tales from the Crypt which lasted from 1989 to 1996.[5]

1990s and 2000s

Early 1990s horror series were based on classical horror figures such as a blond-haired Count in Dracula: The Series and She-Wolf of London.[5] Series in the 1990s were often either based on their locations such as Shades of LA, Eerie Indiana, and Twin Peaks or focused on vampires with Geraint Wyn Davies playing an undead cop in Forever Knight and the most influential vampire show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.[5] A spin-off series followed in 1999 with Angel.[5] Series based on popular children's series also grew in popularity with Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps and Bone Chillers.[7]

Other series in the 1990s and early 2000s focused on secret societies and groups investigating the supernatural with Poltergeist: The Legacy, Sleepwalkers, The Others and FreakyLinks.[5][7]

By the 2000s, television was awash with several horror programs.[7] These included British series such as Shockers, Urban Gothic, Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible, The Fear, Spine Chillers, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.[7] Toward the mid-2000s, Showtime's Masters of Horror was described by Stephen Jones as pushing the envelope for horror on the small screen.[7]

1940s – 1960s








  1. ^ a b Muir 2001, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Jones 2018, p. 202.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Jones 2018, p. 203.
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  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jones 2018, p. 204.
  6. ^ Jowett & Abbott 2013, p. 131.
  7. ^ a b c d e Jones 2018, p. 205.
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