The 21st Century has been a particularly good time for television so far. As you well know by now, we’re living in the thick of a Second Golden Age for TV, and we have been for a while. And as you’ve probably heard if you follow any TV critics on Twitter, we’re also in the midst of “Peak TV.” So not only is TV really good right now, there’s a lot of it out there. If there’s a downside to that, it’s that there’s literally too much television for any one person to watch. However, one of the less-often discussed upsides is the rise of Horror TV programming, an often bone-dry landscape that has absolutely flourished over the last two decades.
Of course, horror and genre-themed shows have been hits long before the turn of the century, and a lot of it was excellent. However, as with all of television at the moment, never has there been more of it and never has there been such a commitment to production value and fearlessness of storytelling. In short, it’s a very, very good time to like serialized scares — which also means there’s plenty of good stuff that didn’t make the cut.
Some of the runners-up: Scream, MTV’s serialized adaptation of the Wes Craven slasher classic, which is fun but too focused on teen drama; Scream Queens, Ryan Murphy‘s cheeky but slightly-too-bitchy slasher series; The Returned, a lovely remake of a superior series but a remake of a superior series all the same; Fear the Walking Dead, AMC’s The Walking Dead sibling series, which outshines the original in character drama but skimps on the horror beats; and Preacher, which is gleefully gory, absolutely twisted, and may soon earn a spot on this list if the second season holds up.
As for what you’ll see on the list, we’re sticking to live-action, scripted programming that began after the year 2000. Which means that though Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files technically ran into the 21st Century, but they are very much products of the ’90s. And the new Twin Peaks isn’t on here simply because we haven’t even seen a full season yet. Check out the picks for best horror TV shows of the 21st century below, and sound off with your favorites in the comments.