Yet, I specifically avoided covering horror television series. The reason for this was that I (naively) didn't really think there were enough truly high-quality shows to warrant an extensive list. However, in the past four years certain things have changed: For one thing, horror on television within the past few years has improved noticeably. Also, I admit that my awareness of great horror television has broadened thanks in large part to working on The Vault all these years. And so the time came to revisit the concept.
As before, I enlisted the help of some of the best and brightest online horror writers/bloggers out there, the group once (inflammatorially) referred to as "The Cyber Horror Elite". Elite or not, these excellent thinkers and superfans were asked to send me their personal top 10 horror TV shows of all time. Only ongoing, regular series were eligible, meaning made-for-TV movies and miniseries were excluded (For the record, they were actually eligible for inclusion in the Greatest Horror Films of All Time list--only Salem's Lot made the cut.)
Once I received everybody's lists, I ranked them on a points system--ten points for a number-one choice, nine points for a number-two choice, etc. Then I compiled a master list of the top 25 scoring shows, which I now present to you.
So here it is--the Top 25 Horror TV Series of All Time, as voted on by the horror blogosphere:
1. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) CBS2. The X-Files (1993-2002) FOX3. Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996) HBO4. Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975) ABC5. Twin Peaks (1990-1991) ABC6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) WB7. Dark Shadows (1966-1971) ABC8. The Walking Dead (2010-present) AMC9. The Outer Limits (1963-1965) ABC10. American Horror Story (2011-present) FX11. Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1970-1973) NBC12. Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1991-2000) YTV/Nickelodeon13. Tales from the Darkside (1983-1988) Syndicated14. Dexter (2006-present) Showtime15. Supernatural (2005-present) WB/CW16. Boris Karloff's Thriller (1960-1962) NBC17. Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990) Syndicated18. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965) CBS/NBC19. Millennium (1996-1999) FOX20. Masters of Horror (2005-2007) Showtime21. True Blood (2008-present) HBO22. American Gothic (1995-1996) CBS23. Goosebumps (1995-1998) YTV/Fox Kids24. Monsters (1988-1991) Syndicated25. The Hitchhiker (1983-1991) HBO/First Choice/USA
Other vote-getters worth mentioning included: Being Human (UK), Angel, The Kingdom, Brimstone, The Addams Family, Werewolf, Fringe, Riget, The Munsters and Gareth Marenghi's Darkplace.
More than with any other list, this time out, the number one choice was quite literally a mandate. Not only was The Twilight Zone included on nearly every single list submitted to me, it was at or near the very top, every time. As a result, it scored a full 50% higher than the second-place show, The X-Files, and was head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.
Speaking of X-Files, that show, along with the #3, Tales from the Crypt, and #4, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, received a general consensus as well, appearing on most of the lists submitted. After the top four, there was a noticeable drop-off as individuals' personal tastes came into play and a multitude of different series were selected. But it's worth noting that the group in general gave a very solid stamp of approval to those top four shows, which is not really all that surprising.
In the event of shows airing in two different decades, I went with the one that contained the vast majority of the seasons (1990s for The X-Files, 1960s for Twilight Zone, etc.). Shows that were fairly evenly aired in two different decades were counted for both (Alfred Hitchcock Presents for both the 1950s and 1960s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for both the 1990s and 2000s, etc.) It's very interesting to note that the most heavily represented decade is the 1990s, which was by far the least represented decade for horror films. I guess most of the best horror that decade was confined to the small screen!
And one each for AMC, FX, Nickelodeon, Fox Kids, First Choice and USA
In addition to the three syndicated shows, 13 of the shows were aired on broadcast TV, and 9 were cable programs. Certain programs were run on more than one network during their run, and so were counted for both.
Other Interesting Facts:
- All shows were American productions, with the exception of Goosebumps (Canadian), as well as Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Friday the 13th: The Series, which were American/Canadian co-productions.
- Five of the 25 shows on the list, or a full 20%, are currently still running on television (Dexter, True Blood, Walking Dead, Supernatural and American Horror Story). I'd say that says a lot about the current state of horror on TV. Either that or the importance of short-term memory.
- Despite that last stat, only one of the top seven shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was in production during the past decade. And five of the top ten shows aired more than 20 years ago, with the top five all airing at least a decade ago or more.
- Six shows on the list ran for only two seasons or less. Some shows only get their due later...
- Four of the top ten shows were aired on ABC.
- The longest-running show on the list is the original Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which ran for 11 seasons.
BJ-C of Day of the Woman
Heidi Honeycutt of Planet Etheria and Planet Fury
John Morehead of Theofantastique
Unkle Lancifer of Kindertrauma
Dr. Gangrene, horror host and writer of Tales from the Lab
Dod March of The WGON Helicopter
John Kenneth Muir, literary/film critic and writer of Reflections on Cult Movies & Classic Television
Rondal Scott of Strange Kids Club
James Gracey of Behind the Couch, Fangoria contibutor, author of Dario Argento
Chris Hallock of All Things Horror
John Cozzoli of Zombos Closet of Terror, majordomo of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers
Christine Hadden of Fascination with Fear, Fangoria contributor
The Lightning Bug of The Lightning Bug's Lair
Bryan White of Cinema Suicide
Stu Conover of Buy Zombie
Nate Yapp, formerly of Classic-Horror.com
Nia Edwards-Behi of the Abertoir Horror Festival and Brutal as Hell
Jeff Allard of Dinner with Max Jenke
The Mike of From Midnight, With Love
Melissa Yearian, formerly of Chickapin Parish
Michelle Moricola of Fright Skool
Ryne Barber of The Moon Is a Dead World
Pax Romano, formerly of Billy Loves Stu
Jose Cruz of Grim Reader
The Divemistress of The Avod podcast
The Monster Scholar of Monster Land
Emily Intravia of The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
Matt Suzaka of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby
And yours truly, of course.
There you have it. Digest. Discuss. Debate. Distribute.