Best Horror TV Shows of the 1990s, Ranked – MovieWeb

The 90s was a great decade for horror TV shows, and these iconic series paved the way for the television horror boom in later decades.
If you were a fan of horror movies in the 1990s, you probably had a blast watching some of the best horror TV shows of the decade. These series built off of the success of horror films from previous years and delivered scares, suspense, and gore on a weekly basis, paving the way for the horror boom of later decades (with TV shows like The Walking Dead, True Blood, American Horror Story, and countless more). With a balanced mix of adult and scary kids programming, there was something for everyone.
Icons like Beetlejuice, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees were already household names by the time the '90s rolled around. So it’s no surprise that some of the best horror TV shows of the decade were based on these popular slasher villains. There was a notable shift towards more science fiction and supernatural horror during this time as well. Let's look at some of the best horror TV shows of the 90s.
R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books were all the rage in the early '90s. So it was only a matter of time before they were adapted for television. The Goosebumps TV show ran for four seasons from 1995 to 1998 and featured different scary stories from the books each week. The tone of the show was fairly light and focused more on suspense than outright scares. But that didn't stop it from becoming one of the best horror TV shows of the 90s.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a Canadian horror anthology series that aired from 1990 to 1996. The show followed a group of kids who called themselves "The Midnight Society," and each week, one of the members would tell a scary story around a campfire. The stories were often creepy and suspenseful but almost always had a moral lesson at the end. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was one of the first horror TV shows aimed at kids, and still today, it's praised for its imaginative stories and chilling atmosphere.
American Gothic was a short-lived but groundbreaking horror TV show that aired for one season on CBS from 1995 to 1996. The series was set in the fictional town of Trinity, South Carolina, and followed the town's sheriff, Lucas Buck (Gary Cole), who had a sinister influence over the people around him.
Related: Best Horror TV Shows of the 2020s, So Far
American Gothic was one of the first horror TV shows to feature a truly evil protagonist, breaking away from the traditional good vs. evil dynamic of most shows in the genre. Though it did not find commercial success during its initial run, the series has since gained a cult following.
First debuting in 1996, Poltergeist: The Legacy follows a secret society known as "The Legacy." The society is tasked with investigating and stopping supernatural threats. Poltergeist: The Legacy mixes elements of science fiction, horror, and mystery, making it one of the more unique shows on this list. Though it was canceled after four seasons, the series has a loyal following and is often available to stream on various platforms.
Charmed is a supernatural drama that aired for eight seasons on the WB from 1998 to 2006. The series follows the Halliwell sisters, Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), who are powerful witches with the power to vanquish evil demons.
Charmed was one of the most popular shows of the late 90s and early 2000s and featured numerous guest stars over the years. Additionally, Rose McGowan joined the cast in the later seasons, taking over for Shannen Doherty's character, Prue, bringing a new level of popularity to the show.
Nightmare Café was a short-lived but intriguing horror TV show that aired for six episodes on NBC in 1992. The series followed the proprietors of a supernatural café where people went to face their fears. Nightmare Café featured Robert Englund (better known as Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise) in a leading role, which helped to bring attention to the show. Unfortunately, Nightmare Café was canceled after just six episodes and never got a chance to reach its full potential.
The Outer Limits was a science fiction anthology series that originally aired on ABC from 1963 to 1965. The series was revived in 1995 and ran for seven seasons on the Showtime cable network. The Outer Limits featured a mix of standalone episodes and ongoing story arcs, with each season focusing on a different theme. The series was known for its high-quality writing and directing, receiving multiple Emmy Awards and nominations during its original run.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a supernatural drama that aired for seven seasons on the WB from 1997 to 2003. The series follows Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a young woman who is chosen to fight vampires, demons, and other supernatural creatures. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a critical and commercial success, spawning a successful spin-off series (Angel) and numerous books, comics, and video games. There was even talk of a reboot, though this was put on an indefinite pause in 2022.
Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks is a surreal mystery drama with some disturbing horror elements that follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) as he investigates the murder of high school student Laura Palmer in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The series is notable for its distinct visuals, quirky characters, and strange plot.
Related: Best Horror TV Shows of the 2010s
Though it only lasted for two seasons, Twin Peaks has gained a cult following in the years since its cancelation resulting in a brilliant continuation season in 2017, with many fans still begging for more after that limited series on Showtime. While Twin Peaks is an artistic masterpiece, the horror genre is much milder in this series than others, so it can't truly top this list.
The X-Files is a science fiction/mystery drama that aired for nine seasons on Fox from 1993 to 2002. The series follows FBI agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigate cases involving the paranormal. The X-Files changed television in many ways, and was one of the most popular shows of the 90s and helped to launch the careers of both Duchovny and Anderson. The show was revived for a six-episode tenth season in 2016 and a ten-episode eleventh season in 2018. There are also two feature films based on the series, making The X-Files one of the most successful TV show franchises of all time.
Tales from the Crypt is a horror anthology series that aired for seven seasons on HBO from 1989 to 1996. The series was based on the EC Comics of the same name and featured stories about ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. The iconic Crypt Keeper character (voiced by John Kassir) introduced each episode with pun-filled jokes and added to the show's dark humor. Tales from the Crypt was one of the most popular shows on HBO during its run and still holds up today as a great series.
Katie Cusson is a writer and horror film fanatic from New England.


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