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12 Creepy TV Shows That Will Make You Keep the Lights On

Night Gallery
Image Credit: Universal Television.

For those who love the excitement and thrill of watching spine-chilling media, getting your scare on isn’t just for the movie theaters. There are television shows that are so frightening, they not only provide jump scares, but they also make you fearful of being alone in a dark house. These are some of the most unsettling television shows you can ever watch. Make sure your lights are turned on!

1. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

The Twilight Zone
Image Credit: Cayuga Productions, Inc.

This groundbreaking anthology series created by Rod Serling was years ahead of its time. The series was part science fiction, part fantasy, and part horror. Each episode drew the viewer into a world where nothing was quite as it seemed. Its biting commentary on society and episodes that ended with a moral for the audience still resonate today.

2. Night Gallery (1969-1973)

Night Gallery
Image Credit: Universal Television.

Five years after The Twilight Zone left the airways, Rod Serling returned with another anthology series that frightened audiences. This time, the themes were much darker, leaned into the supernatural, and had an even greater horror element.

3. Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975)

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975)
Image Credit: Universal Television.

The short-lived series about an intrepid reporter who investigated mysterious incidents that the police wouldn’t look into that seemed to be the result of unnatural causes. Even though only 20 episodes of the show were aired, it has become a cult classic among horror buffs and even inspired the creation of the popular series The X Files.

4. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

Twin Peaks
Image Credit: Propaganda Films.

The serene logging town was the backdrop for deeply held secrets, out-of-the-ordinary activities, and the horrific murder of a high schooler who seemed to have a perfect life. Nothing was quite what it appeared in the town as an FBI agent assigned to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer soon finds out.

5. The X-Files (1993-2002)

The X-Files (1993-2002)
Image Credit: Ten Thirteen Productions.

Between Fox Mulder wanting to believe in extraterrestrials and Dana Scully’s skepticism of the paranormal, it was easy for the audience to get caught up in the bizarre and often fear-provoking cases known as the X-Files. The popular series also spawned two films that continued the duo’s search for the truth.

6. Millennium (1996-1999)

Image Credit: Ten Thirteen.

This one-hour crime drama-horror series developed by the creator of The X-Files centered on the character of Frank Black, an ex-FBI profiler with unique insights into the minds of criminals, and his work for a secretive organization called the Millennium Group. Seeing inside the minds of the show’s killers, like the demonic Lucy Butler, is enough to make you lose sleep.

7. Supernatural (2005-2020)

Image Credit: British Columbia, Canada.

The adventures of the demon-hunting Winchester brothers and their crew of allies, enemies, and frenemies not only made for engaging television, but it was and continues to be a fan favorite. While the earlier seasons relied on more of a monster-of-the-week formula, the show began to develop deeper themes about the battle between good and evil and all of the gray areas in between.

8. American Horror Story (2011-Present)

American Horror Story
Image Credit: Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision.

What makes this anthology series a standout, besides the genuinely horrific themes and occurrences in each episode, is that each season is practically a new series in itself with a new title, new characters, and a new horror story arc. American Horror Story provides the scares you’d only expect to find on the big screen.

9. Black Mirror (2011-Present)

Black Mirror
Image Credit: House of Tomorrow.

Imagine if The Twilight Zone was written for the modern era and was created in Great Britain instead of the United States. You’d have some idea of just how good Black Mirror is. Like The Twilight Zone, Netflix’s science fiction-horror anthology series makes a brutal commentary on society with each episode, particularly in technology. Viewers may find more than a few episodes hit close to home.

10. Hannibal (2013-2015)

Image Credit: Dino de Laurentiis Company.

Based on the lead antagonist from The Silence of the Lambs and other books written by Thomas Harris, this prematurely canceled, visually stunning yet disturbing series focused on the psychologically twisted relationship between cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, the FBI profiler tasked with bringing him to justice. Even the goriest parts of the show, and plenty of them, are hard to turn away from.

11. Bates Motel (2013-2017)

Bates Motel
Image Credit: American Genre (2013).

The peculiar and troubled relationship between Norma Bates and her teenage son Norman and his early descent into madness are the central themes of this series, which was a modern-day prequel to the events in the 1960 horror film Psycho. The famous shower scene from the movie is tame compared to this series.

12. Stranger Things (2016-Present)

Stranger Things
Image Credit: Monkey Massacre.

The disappearance of a young boy into a parallel dark universe called the Upside Down is the least scary element of this series, and that’s saying something. The fictitious town of Hawkins, Indiana, is ground zero for various species of monstrous aliens who want to take over the town by any means necessary. You want to watch this show in the daytime.

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The Usual Suspects
Image Credit: Gramercy Pictures.

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Katherine Heigl
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

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Best in Show
Photo Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment

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15 Films That Made People Literally Walk Out of the Theater

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

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8 Controversial Comedies That Could Never Be Made Today

Tropic Thunder Ben Stiller
Image Credit: Dreamworks.

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Written by Stephanie Allen

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