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Best Scary Shows of 2020

From the sincerely creepy to the darkly funny, these are some of the best scary shows of the year.

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  • Photo Credit: NBC Universal Television

Has there ever been a year more perfectly suited to binge-watching than 2020? Whether you’re chasing away the lockdown blues or just looking for an escape from the horror of the day-to-day, there are plenty of spine-chilling TV shows waiting for you to stream this year, from brand-new shows that made their 2020 debut to classic series that had particularly strong seasons.

If you’re looking for something to keep you occupied and make you afraid to turn off the light, these thirteen goosebump-inducing series ought to do the trick, and with everything from spooky dramas to horror comedies, the 2020 horror TV landscape has something for everybody.

13. The Stand

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  • Photo Credit: Vertigo Entertainment

Okay, okay, at the time of this writing, The Stand isn’t even technically out yet, but no list of the biggest horror events on TV this year would be complete without a mention of this revisit to one of Stephen King’s most ambitious books, which brings an all-star cast and an altogether-too-timely tale of an apocalyptic super virus to CBS All Access.

Related: WATCH: The World Meets a Bloody End in Epic New Trailer for Stephen King's The Stand Miniseries 

12. Supernatural

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The long-running CW series is almost old enough to vote at this point, and it has seen a lot of changes in its fifteen years on the air. In 2020, the series finally drew to a close in a finale that left fans baffled and often outraged. But love it or hate it, Supernatural is a powerhouse on the horror TV scene, and nobody who is at all invested in the show missed that finale – or missed complaining about it on social media afterward.

11. The Walking Dead: World Beyond

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  • Photo Credit: American Movie Classics (AMC)

Bringing a new perspective to the long-running franchise, this third installment in the Walking Dead series may have trouble distinguishing itself from a crowded TV zombie field, but it boasts strong central performances and some new ideas that the franchise – itself in danger of becoming a zombie at this point – sorely needs.

Related: 15 Zombie Books to Satisfy Your Hunger for Horror 

10. Locke & Key

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Based on the comic books by Joe Hill – yes, Stephen King’s son Joe Hill – the Locke & Key TV series may veer more toward portal fantasy than outright horror, but there’s plenty of spooky fun (and occasionally weighty themes) to be had in this tale of a family who move into a big, dark, weird house after the death of their father, only to find that the house is filled with keys that can make strange and sometimes sinister things come to pass.

9. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

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Trading in the Victorian trappings of the hit original series for 1938 Los Angeles, City of Angels also eschews the gothic classics for Mexican folklore and a tale that’s as much noir as it is horror. The combo works though, and the result is a sumptuous, twisty, and shocking show that’s unlike its predecessor in ways that help it feel fresh and exciting, while still delivering that Penny Dreadful melodrama you crave.

Related: 14 Horror Books for Fans of Penny Dreadful 

8. Truth Seekers

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Fans of What We Do in the Shadows who are looking for a new series to sink their teeth into should check out Truth Seekers, a new collaboration from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead). Sure, the series is jokey and tongue-in-cheek, as you might expect, but it’s also surprisingly freaky, with genuinely eerie and unsettling moments that may just take you by surprise.

7. Dark

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A German series that made a big splash stateside on Netflix when it premiered back in 2017, Dark wrapped up its run in 2020, with a finale as bewildering as viewers have probably come to expect, and as dark as the show’s title would suggest. Not for everyone, the twists, turns, and narrative complexities of Dark have won it plenty of fans who tuned in to see how the story would be wrapped up – and what ominous threads would be left to dangle.

Related: 11 Mind-Bending Horror Shows Like Dark You Can Watch Tonight 

6. The Outsider

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  • Photo Credit: Aggregate Films

The last few years have been good for Stephen King adaptations, and the small screen is no exception. One of the best recent ones is The Outsider, an atmospheric slow burn from HBO that boasts an exceptional cast capable of pulling it out even when the plot meanders – or flounders altogether. Cynthia Erivo earned special acclaim as King’s unlikely investigator Holly Gibney, where she absolutely steals the show.

Related: Every Stephen King Movie, Ranked 

5. What We Do in the Shadows

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Spinning off from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s hit 2014 horror/comedy mockumentary, if anything, the second season of the TV show version of What We Do in the Shadows might be the best thing the franchise has done yet. With iconic and lovable characters, non-stop humor, and plenty of heart, the 2020 season has currently got a whopping 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!

4. The Haunting of Bly Manor

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Could The Haunting of Bly Manor have been the most anticipated TV horror event of 2020? It’s very likely. This follow-up to Mike Flanagan’s Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix applied that show’s loose adherence to source material and inclination toward domestic melodrama – coupled with plenty of hair-raising frights – to the classic Henry James tale, The Turn of the Screw. The results seem to have been a return-to-form for Flanagan, with the series enjoying an 87% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Related: 14 Twisted Horror Books for Fans of The Haunting of Bly Manor 

3. Ju-On: Origins

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Ju-On/The Grudge may hold the record for the same story retold the most times, but there’s still meat on these bones, even after all these reboots and remakes, as this surprisingly atmospheric Japanese series, available on Netflix in the States, makes clear. Don’t let the lackluster American remake that hit theaters earlier this year sour you – this is the real deal, and reminds us of the power that led the original film to get rebooted so many times in the first place.

Related: 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes of All Time 

2. Monsterland

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Adapted from the debut collection of acclaimed horror writer Nathan Ballingrud, Monsterland takes an anthology approach to its scares, telling a series of unconnected but thematically dense stories of people encountering the monstrous all over the country, while asking hard questions about what it means to be a monster – or a person, for that matter. With mixed reviews, Monsterland is nevertheless a soulful showcase for a talented cast, and hopefully a window for mainstream viewers into the work of one of horror fiction’s rising stars.

Related: 15 Massively Scary Monster Horror Movies You Can Watch Tonight 

1. Lovecraft Country

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One of the biggest entertainment events of 2020 was the release of Lovecraft Country, which made its debut on HBO in August. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the series by showrunner Misha Green juxtaposes Lovecraft’s weird monsters with the real-life horror of Jim Crow and features among its executive producers Jordan Peele and J. J. Abrams. While the controversial series has polarized audiences, it’s currently got a 90% at Rotten Tomatoes and should, if nothing else, help to scratch your monster-of-the-week itch while also saying something socially relevant at the same time.

Related: 13 Must-Read Horror Books for Fans of Lovecraft Country 

Featured still from "Ju-On: Origins" via NBC Universal Television