This post was updated on June 13, 2018.
If you’re in the need of a good scare and have Netflix at your fingertips, we’ve got your back. With everything from the freaky paranormal to the grisly investigations of serial killers, here’s a list of some of the best scary shows on Netflix you’ve just got to see.
MTV’s production is inspired by the Wes Craven slasher film series with the same name. The story is situated in the fictional town of Lakewood where a string of murders has taken place. After a cyber-bullying incident leads to the death of a classmate, a group of students become the target of a serial killer. At the center of it all is Emma Duval, played by Willa Fitzgerald, a teenage girl with far deeper roots in the town’s dark history than you may think.
2. Bates Motel
Bates Motel is a contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho. It depicts the lives of Norman Bates and his mother, Norma, in the fictional town of White Pine Bay, Oregon. Ever wondered how Bates’ complicated relationship with his mother forged a serial killer? Check it out. The series is now complete, so you can binge it all in one fell swoop.
3. American Horror Story
There’s no way you haven’t heard of American Horror Story at this point. If you’ve never given the show a watch, now’s your chance. AHS made a splash in the horror television scene soon after its release and has garnered steady praise ever since. With each season tackling a new fear like ghosts, clowns or vampires, this show will have you spooked.
This unusual reality show will appeal to horror fans of every stripe. Hosted by the Soska Sisters, Hellevator challenges a group of participants to make it through a haunted elevator and an abandoned slaughterhouse filled with all sorts of terrifying creatures, objects, and traps. Created by Blumhouse Productions, the team behind Hellevator truly knows their horror.
5. Penny Dreadful
Imagine the likes of Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray coming together to solve the mystery of a missing young woman, and maybe slay some monsters. This dark Victorian series follows Sir Malcolm, an explorer whose daughter has been kidnapped by the city’s monsters. He will do whatever it takes to get her back—and with the help of Frankstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, and more, he’ll likely do some damage along the way.
This eerie German export merges the small town paranoia of Stranger Things with the cosmic dread of Twin Peaks. Two children disappear from a quiet German town. As friends and family search for the vanished kids, the town's dark past is unearthed. Adding to the show's mystery is a mind-bending dose of sci-fi time travel—making this series a must watch for all genre fans.
7. Dead Set
This five-episode British series—created by Black Mirror mastermind Charlie Booker—revives the undead genre with its twisted premise: A zombie outbreak sweeps across England, infecting everyone it comes into contact with. Who's spared? The sequestered contestants and crew of the sealed-house reality show Big Brother.
1. Jessica Jones
What do you do when your crime fighting days are cut short? Instead of hiding away in her New York City apartment, Jessica Jones becomes a private investigator who deals with people with … strange abilities. This sure-footed Marvel series has already accumulated a large and faithful audience.
Online dating, prostitution, curious dealings with her ex-husband’s employers, and trying to save her marriage, it’s safe to say former detective Marcella Backland has a lot going on. So when she’s brought in to solve what appears to be to the return of a serial killer unheard of for 11 years, things are about to get more complicated. But there’s something strange about this case—something about it is disturbingly familiar. Pushing Daisies's Anna Friel stars in a much darker, more terrifying tale in this ITV series.
3. The Fall
Anyone not part of the solution is part of the problem. This is Stella Gibson’s motto as she hunts sexually motivated serial killer Paul Spector. The series trails both of their lives: Gibson, as she leads a task force dedicated to tracking down the killer, and Spector, father and husband by day, murderer by night. He’s hiding in plain sight and Gibson is out to catch him. Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of the badass detective will quickly have you obsessed with The Fall.
4. The Killing
Detectives Linden and Holder have very different ideas of how a case should be operated. She’s orderly; he’s freewheeling. In their current investigation, a grieving family and Seattle political campaign are interwoven after the body of 17-year-old Rosie Larsen is found in the truck on a sunken car. They’ll have to meld their ways in order to solve the case.
Working in the Serious Crime Unit, one can imagine the kind of horrors there are to witness. Luther (Idris Elba) has paid a heavy cost for his passion toward his work. He is brilliant but emotionally driven and tormented by the dark side of humanity he’s encountered while hunting down these murderers. Once this self-destructive hunter knows the killer’s name, it becomes only a matter of time before the showdown between predator and prey.
6. Twin Peaks
This classic show marries crime with a dash of paranormal. Twin Peaks chronicles the efforts of FBI Agent Dale Cooper to solve the murder of Laura Palmer. Laura, the girl next door, beloved by all, has no enemies; her death is a mystery. But Coopers learns a lesson upon arriving at Twin Peaks: nothing is ever as it seems. Enter the twisted and terrifying world of David Lynch with the first two seasons, on Netflix, then season three, returning over 20 years after the original series on Showtime.
1. Stranger Things
Stranger Things blew the sci-fi television scene out of the water with its first season, and its second did not disappoint eager fans. When a boy goes missing, a series of mysteries begin to unravel: secret government experiments, unnerving supernatural forces and a very unusual little girl with a number for a name.
2. Black Mirror
If you weren’t wary of the rapidly progressing modern world before, you will be after watching Black Mirror. Created by Charlie Brooker, the series examines the outcomes of unchecked technologies. The anthology style of Black Mirror allows Brooker and his writers to address a myriad of issues and potential pratfalls of our modern dependence on technology.
3. The Twilight Zone
One thing is for certain: Rod Serling knew how to bend genres. The original Twilight zone series ran from 1959 to 1964 on CBS and was widely popular. Each episode ends with a surprise twist, usually with a moral attached. Don’t let the show’s age fool you. Some of these episodes pack a terrifying punch unlike you’ve ever felt before. Longtime fan? Rewatch some of your favorite episodes on Netflix today.
Featured still from "Hellevator" via Blumhouse Productions