The Halloween season is best known for nightmare-inducing horror films, but there are awesome TV shows worth watching too. With the horror genre on the rise, you can easily scare yourself silly on a weekly basis. Or, as we prefer, binge-watch a scary TV show over the course of a weekend.
Keep in mind that shows are limited by the restrictions of television. However, these series should still disturb you in ways you wouldn’t expect. So sit tight and enjoy hours of dread with these 15 horror-themed TV shows you can stream over Halloween.
1. American Horror Story
63 episodes across five seasons (ongoing).
With a name like American Horror Story, this is clearly a show made for Halloween. Every season of American Horror Story explores a self-contained story, so you can view each season as a kind of miniseries.
This works great for the horror format because it can be difficult to stretch out horror for dozens of episodes. Some shows manage it well — see Hannibal below — but American Horror Story makes good use of its self-contained design to maximize thrills.
39 episodes across three seasons.
Be warned: this show is INCREDIBLY graphic and gruesome. Flayed skin, lots of blood, piles of corpses, psychological and physical torture, and other forms of disturbing imagery abound in this horrific show.
The characters, direction, and narrative of Hannibal are all top-notch and award-worthy. However, there’s a reason why Hannibal had such a small viewership during its run: it’s difficult to watch at times. I watched most of this series peering through my fingers — and often had to take breaks because of how dark it could get.
Not much else needs to be said. Everyone knows Hannibal. This series is basically a re-imagined crime drama that’s based loosely on the source material.
You can stream Hannibal on: Amazon Prime Video.
3. The X-Files
208 episodes across 10 seasons.
The X-Files is a long-running and recently-rebooted series beloved by fans and critics alike. It one of the first shows to successfully mix standalone episodes with serial storylines, allowing it to deliver deep character developments while satisfyingly wrapping up each episode as a self-contained story.
Some of the episodes can be a bit hit-or-miss, but it’s still a thoroughly entertaining ride throughout — especially if you love mystery.
If you like The X-Files, you should also watch Fringe. Unfortunately, Fringe isn’t available on any streaming services as of this writing, but you can always buy the complete series of Fringe on Blu-ray (UK).
You can stream The X-Files on: Netflix, Hulu.
4. The Walking Dead
83 episodes across six seasons (ongoing).
A Halloween without zombies would not be Halloween at all, and we’d be remiss if we left out the most popular zombie show in the history of television. Season one started with 5 million viewers. Season six ended with 14 million viewers. It’s a must-watch for zombie lovers.
However, do note one thing: even though The Walking Dead is packed with violence and zombie gore, this isn’t a zombie survival story. It’s a drama that happens to take place in a zombie apocalypse. If that sounds fine to you, then you’ll enjoy the show — especially if you speed through the slower parts.
You can stream The Walking Dead on: Netflix.
5. Fear the Walking Dead
21 episodes across two seasons (ongoing).
Fear the Walking Dead is a spin-off from The Walking Dead, and even though it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, it’s definitely noteworthy for its artistic and atmospheric merits. It’s also perfect for getting into the Halloween spirit.
You can stream Fear the Walking Dead on: Hulu.
6. Stranger Things
8 episodes across one season (ongoing).
I fell in love with Stranger Things during its first 15 minutes. Few shows have managed to do what it did: develop a deep cast of children and adults and take them on a sprawling, epic journey in just eight episodes — all with an ending as satisfying as it could be.
There is a monster in this show, and it can get quite moody and dark at times. It might even scare you if you watch it alone at night with the lights off, but there’s a touching human story at its core that resonates. And that’s not to mention the abundance of 1980s nostalgia!
You can stream Stranger Things on: Netflix.
24 episodes across two seasons.
We highlighted Carnivale as one of the many shows that make an HBO Now subscription worthwhile, and it’s a perfect fit for Halloween. Carnivale is a dark fantasy tale about a traveling carnival, and things aren’t what they seem on the surface. It’s an older show that feels dated at times, but the story will suck you right in regardless.
You can stream Carnivale on: Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now.
8. Penny Dreadful
27 episodes across three seasons.
The name of this stylized horror show refers to the “penny dreadful” stories produced back in 19th century U.K. — printed tales that involved a lot of sensational, supernatural, and pulpy content matter. Penny Dreadful follows suit, but in much more intelligent ways.
It draws on many public domain characters, including Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, and more. But the stories therein are unique, engrossing, and macabre. The end result is compelling, to say the least.
As a Showtime series, be warned that you’ll find a lot of mature content across many scenes. Naked cadavers and grotesque imagery are par for the course, with the occasional sex scene in episodes.
You can stream Penny Dreadful on: Netflix, Hulu, Showtime.
10 episodes across one season (ongoing).
From the creator of The Walking Dead comes another horror series with much more character development than its more famous counterpart. It’s dark, creepy, but rooted in human relationships and community. All told, it’s a thrilling ride that only gets better with each episode.
You can stream on: Cinemax.
10. The Exorcist
5 episodes across one season (ongoing).
The Exorcist is a TV series based on the cult classic film of the same name. And while it isn’t nearly as nightmarish as the source material, it’ll leave an impact on you even after the first episode. It’s a lot scarier than primetime television should be, if you ask me.
You can stream The Exorcist on: Hulu.
11. Wayward Pines
20 episodes across two seasons.
If you don’t have a Hulu subscription yet, you may want to sign up soon — at least until you can finish the first season of Wayward Pines. This series is based on the eponymous trilogy of books and faithfully adapts the material into a slow-burning mystery that gets more compelling with each plot twist.
You can stream Wayward Pines on: Hulu.
241 episodes across 11 seasons (ongoing).
Not many shows can boast as many episodes as Supernatural, and we’re talking about hour-long episodes here. And even though there are some real stinkers along the way, Supernatural is impressive because it managed to stay consistent and on course for most of its run — and it’s still going strong.
Long story short, this fantasy/horror series focuses on two brothers who investigate paranormal events and end up having all kinds of run-ins with ghosts, vampires, witches, angels, and yes, demons. The massive mythology of Supernatural is probably its strongest aspect, so if you’re into that kind of storytelling, you’ll love this show.
You can stream Supernatural on: Netflix.
13. Bates Motel
40 episodes across four seasons (ongoing).
Like Hannibal above, Bates Motel is a movie-reimagined-for-television show that tells the prequel story of Norman Bates — the famous serial killer from Psycho. While the show doesn’t reach the same award-winning heights as Hannibal, the overall experience is a solid one.
Leaning more towards thriller than outright horror, Bates Motel instills boatloads of suspense and make you feel extremely uncomfortable when it’s firing on all cylinders. Worth a watch? Definitely.
You can stream Bates Motel on: Netflix.
14. Hemlock Grove
33 episodes across three seasons.
Hemlock Grove centers on the fictional town of Hemlock Grove, which gets upended when strange happenings start to occur — including a string of brutal murders. Though it debuted to mixed reviews, Netflix gave it a full three seasons to bring its story to a somewhat satisfying conclusion.
You can stream Hemlock Grove on: Netflix.
15. Attack on Titan
25 episodes across two seasons (ongoing).
Don’t be put off by the fact that Attack on Titan is an anime — it’s unlike any other anime out there. Attack on Titan tells the horrific tale of a city that’s attacked by cataclysmic titans, all bolstered by a beautiful art style and stylish animations.
You’ll cringe the first time you watch one of these massive titans grab an innocent human and chomp them right in half. Dark, gruesome, yet driven by strong characters — the trifecta of great horror. Not to mention all of the great plot twists along the way. A fun but depressing ride, for sure.
You can stream Attack on Titan on: Netflix, Hulu.
What Will You Watch on Halloween?
We don’t recommend binge-watching all 15 of these shows. Instead, pick a few that appeal to you and set aside a few nights to take in the full experience. My personal must-watch recommendations are Hannibal (for adults who want truly thrilling horror) and Stranger Things (for something that’s more family-friendly).
If you want to supplement these shows with something more traditional, you ought to check out these classic horror films on Netflix.
What’s the scariest TV show you have ever watched? Are there any other scary TV shows you think should be on this list? What television shows will you be watching over Halloween? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!