Top 10 Best Horror/Sci-fi TV Shows!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Quick question: which medium is currently putting out better entertainment, horror/sci-fi movies or horror/sci-fi television? Not so easy, is it. In the last 5 to 7 years or so, the small-screen has been at the forefront of fostering cutting edge genre material – often original, some spinoff – with many new shows ascending to ungodly levels of popularity over that span. Hell, “The Walking Dead” continues to obliterate every f*cking cable rating in its key demo (when you out-rate the NFL, come on, that’s just ridiculous). Major networks like NBC and FOX are boldly backing “Hannibal” and “The Following,” pay cablers like HBO and Showtime had “True Blood” and “Dexter”, not to mention other smaller networks like A&E with “Bates Motel,” TNT with “Falling Skies”, or FX with its hit show “American Horror Story.” No doubt, it’s a booming time for horror on the tube. But is it a golden age? Not so fast! Take a look at our Top 10 Best Horror/Sci-fi TV shows ahead to find out!


What can you say, he’s the master! Five years before Sir Alfred the Hitch gave us the slasher progenitor in PSYCHO, the man was having a jolly good time scaring the piss out of the masses with his TV show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” The show ran for seven seasons, from 1955-1962, with the last three years going from a 30 minute program to an extended 60 minute “Alfred Hitchcock Hour.” Hitch personally directed 17 episodes – ranging from the bizarrely macabre to the comically criminal – and introduced every episode himself, often having to do multi-takes, as he was known to poke fun at sponsors. It’s a highly entertaining show to this day – mystery, suspense, the supernatural – and much like PSYCHO itself, paved the way for pretty much every other program of its kind.

#2. THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964)

The ZONE, baby! Really, what can I say about what has to be the preeminent horror/sci-fi/mystery TV show of all time!!?! I mean, Bill Shatner with the “I just shatnered in my pants” face during the airplane episode where he sees a demon on the wing? Yup, too f*cking good! Rod Serling as the most OG of OG emcees? Forget about it! Even though the show only ran for five years, it remains a powerful pillar in pop culture to this day. Sure, Vic Morrow got his head lopped off in the film adaptation, but that’s beside the point (now now, RIP Mr. Morrow…BAD NEWS BEARS and HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP for life!) By the way, the John Lithgow airplane adaptation in the movie scarred me for life as a wee 6 year old. Scarred. For life. Love this show!

#3. THE X-FILES (1993-2002)

Anyone else want to drop to a knee and give Scully the skully! Good gravy, how is it I failed to realize how gorgeous Gillian Anderson is during the 9 seasons of what has to be the hallmark of paranormal investigative shows, “The X-Files”!? I blame the hair. Anyway, poor grooming aside – can you really think of a more fleshed out, well acted, well written mystery series that, unlike many others in our top 10, never really relied on camp and kitsch to entertain so consistently!? Sure, there are episodes that are lighter than others, but “The X-Files” always treated its subject matter and its characters with gravity and respect. Props to Chris Carter for conceiving the show in such a way, and hiring “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan to write a good 30 episodes or so.

#4. TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1989-1996)

Man oh man, I still get goosebumps just thinking of the intro sequence of HBO’s flagship horror-show “Tales From the Crypt.” The sounds, the smoke, the ambience, the unwinding tracking shot into the cavernous dungeon, that little f*cking ghoul popping out of his decrepit coffin. Ah, the memories! We all know this is one of the best, with way too many good episodes to cite, too many talented directors who cut their teeth early in their careers, too many cool actors who did the same. I will take this opportunity to school you youngens though, as I know E.Walk does every year, that there’s actually a movie from 1972 called TALES FROM THE CRYPT that this show, as much as the 50s comics, is inspired by. A damn fine movie at that, just ask Bob Zemeckis!

#5. THE OUTER LIMITS (1963-1965)

Created to combat the popularity of “The Twilight Zone”, “The Outer Limits” was an ephemeral sci-fi anthology show that featured a new cast every week. The focus of the show centered on harder science fiction vignettes involving time travel, space travel, extraterrestrial encounters, human evolution, etc. Actually, the show was super popular when it debuted in 1963, but ABC deliberately sabotaged the series by moving it from its highly rated Monday night timeslot to Saturday evenings, which killed the ratings. The show was cancelled in 1965, but was revamped for nearly 3 times as long, when it ran from 1995-2002 on Showtime. Believe it or not, a handful of actors starred on both the 60s and the 90s shows: Leonard Nimoy and Cliff Robertson for example.

#6. MASTERS OF HORROR (2005-2007)

Say what you will about the hackneyed exploits of Mick Garris, just makes sure you give the dude credit for shepherding Showtime’s superb if short-lived horror extravaganza “Masters of Horror.” Such a great idea and such a cool show! Basically an anthology, each one hour episode would be directed by a different horror “master” every week. Gargantuan names in the genre like John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, Dario Argento, Joe Dante, John Landis, Takashi Miike, Tom Holland, Don Coscareli and many more all contributed to at least one episode over the course of the 2-season series. And just as impressive as the pedigree? The lack of censorship Showtime afforded such uncompromising filmmakers. No bullshit cutaways or anodyne language!

#7. NIGHT GALLERY (1969-1973)

Five years after the seminal sci-fi series “The Twilight Zone” ended its run, host Rod Serling ushered in a new decade of thrills and chills by giving us “Night Gallery” – a markedly more horrific and macabre anthology show. “Night Gallery” ran for three seasons, with each storyline inspired by a different antique painting that Serling would introduce at the beginning of each episode. Spooky shite! It’s well known that Steven Spielberg cut his teeth on the show, having directed no less than two, and more likely three different episodes in the series catalogue (“Eyes”, “Make Me Laugh” and possibly “A Matter of Semantics”). Perhaps not as popular as The Twilight Zone,” but fans of the show are most certain to get a kick out of “Night Gallery” as well.

#8. KOLCHAK: NIGHT STALKER (1974-1975)

Darren McGavin is a straight-up pimp! We all know of his timeless comedic turn seen in the holiday classic A CHRISTMAS STORY, but trust us, dude showed just as many all around acting chops, including the comedy, in his short-lived horror-comedy series “Kolchak: Night Stalker.” Based on the TV movie of the same name made just a year prior (written by Richard Matheson and directed by Dan Curtis), McGavin plays the title role of Kolchak – a bumbling Chicago news reporter who, against his will, is forced to investigate bizarre otherworldly occurrences. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and every other dark force imaginable torment Kolchak, and check it, dude doesn’t even have a gun. Armed only with his wits, Kolchak is one of the rare examples of successfully marrying horror and comedy…on the small screen no less.

#9. TWIN PEAKS (1990-1991)

I don’t care how difficult it is to codify – is it a drama, sci-fi, mystery, police procedural, a horrific curio – who cares, small-screen David Lynch is too damn mesmerizing to leave out! “Twin Peaks,” a cult-TV series if there ever was one, was a televisual sequel to the 1992 film TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. The show only lasted two seasons, with the first season being nothing short of masterful (Lynch himself directed the 94 minute pilot episode), and while the second season is an admitted mess, the series fostered enough of a following to remain relevant over 20 years later. Actually, a spinoff for Sherilyn Fenn’s character Audrey Horne was considered, ultimately scrapped, yet it was that very character that inspired Lynch to write the Naomi Watts role in MULHOLLAND DRIVE.

#10. FRINGE (2008-2013)

Since the series just wrapped up this year, I’m feeling pretty comfortable throwing “Fringe” in among some of the better TV shows of its ilk. Remember, running from ’08-’13, the program was made during this new wave of high-quality television we spoke about in the intro, and, despite being on Fox (one of the safer networks), had the added benefit of being the brainchild of uber-producers J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. And wisely, those cats employed all the cool, mysterious, supernatural sci-fi elements that worked so well in “Lost,” cut down the cast and concentrated on building a truly compelling arc in a 100-episode long-form. Perhaps even better, the show surely paved the way for Fox feeling confident enough to support “The Following,” perhaps an even greater show!

Tags: Hollywood

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