Stranger Things SEASON Season 1 EPISODE 3 PHOTO CREDIT Courtesy of Netflix PICTURED Top 5000 Shannon Purser

(Photo by Courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix delivered a thrilling double-whammy this October with the premieres of The Haunting of Hill House and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, both of which serve up stellar moments of serialized horror. While the latter portrays the campy, occult end of the genre’s spectrum, the former paints a haunting portrait of grief with ghosts stalking the lives of one family over years. 

Those shows’ biggest scares us thinking about the best episodes of horror in TV history, so we’ve prepared a list of the scariest episodes of television ever. Among these fearsome moments are episodes of The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story. But, in addition to those no-brainers, episodes of The X-Files, Stranger Things, Atlanta, and Doctor Who also strike terror into the hearts of viewers. 

So enter the crypt, lose yourself in the Zone, take a walk with the dead, then rank these scary episodes from most frightening to least below. And if you don’t see your favorite spooky TV tale on our list, tell us in the comments!


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Happy New Year from Rotten Tomatoes! Hopefully, your resolutions don’t involve watching less TV because 2016 promises to be rich with more scripted shows than ever. Many are coming back this month, some are hitting streaming, and a few are just darn cool. So grab your remote and whatever terrible low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat snack you’re eating for the next two weeks and start bingeing!


Making a Murderer: Season 1 (2015) 98%

What it is: After spending 18 years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit, Steven Avery is exonerated by DNA evidence. Two years later he is arrested again for a murder he may not have committed.

Why you should watch it: Filmed over a ten-year period, this highly bingeable series provides a detailed account of the unfathomable events in Avery’s life. The story takes so many unexpected twists and turns that it’s not immediately clear where the truth lies. A guilty man may be facing his comeuppance, or an innocent man might be suffering one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice imaginable.

Where to watch: Netflix

Commitment: 10 hours.


The X-Files: Season 1 (1993) 83%

 

What it is: FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate unexplained paranormal phenomena. Mulder wants to believe, but Scully is a skeptic.

Why you should watch it: With the reboot premiering on Fox later this month, now is the perfect time to get caught up on this era-defining sci-fi show. Most of the episodes follow a case-of-the week (or monster-of-the-week) format, with Mulder and Scully in pursuit of strange leads in remote locations. They don’t always solve each mystery, but they often discover that truth is stranger than fiction. There are also the myth-arc episodes, which revolve around a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of an alien threat to humanity. Basically, think Criminal Minds meets The Twilight Zone and you’ll be on the right track.

Where to watch: All nine seasons of The X-Files are available on DVD and Blu-ray and streaming on Amazon Prime, iTunesMicrosoftNetflix, Hulu, and Vudu.

Commitment: 154 hours.


Deutschland 83: Deutschland 83 (2015) 95%

What it is: In the midst of the Cold War, a young East German soldier with an ailing mother is tasked with going undercover in the West to steal NATO military secrets.

Why you should watch it: Deutschland 83 is a bit like The Americans’ European cousin, capturing the tension and paranoia of the Cold War from the perspective of a conflicted spy on the front lines. Jonas Nay plays Martin Rauch as both a resourceful operative and a wide-eyed innocent, at once committed to his mission and enticed by the freedoms he finds in the West. It’s tense, exciting stuff, full of evocative period details and fascinating personal conflicts.

Where to watch: AmazonGoogle Play, Hulu, and iTunes.

Commitment: 6 hours.


Younger: Season 1 (2015) 97%

What it is: Liza Miller, a newly single mom, is 40 and without a job. After a chance encounter, she decides to go for broke and enlists the help of her best friend to get a makeover and re-enter the workforce as a 26-year-old.

Why you should watch it: Two factors that should seal the deal on your binge quest: Younger is from famed Sex in the City creator Darren Star, and the show stars Sutton Foster, who out-charms every scene, person and thing she appears with. The show also boasts a cast of delightful characters; sweet, fun exploits; and a whimsical perspective that’s worth your precious time before season two airs on Jan. 13.

Where to watch: Amazon, MicrosoftTVLand.com, and Vudu.

Commitment: 4 hours.


The Venture Bros.: Season 6 (2015) 100%

What it is: Living in the long shadow of his world-famous adventuring playboy father (who vanished under unknown circumstances), Dr. Venture is a disgraced scientist who drags his twin sons, Hank and Dean, around the world on violent misadventures with their Led Zeppelin-lovin’ bodyguard Brock Samson.

Why you should watch it: Initially a spoof on Jonny Quest, Venture Bros. has morphed over its five seasons into a hybrid screwball action/comedy, where the jokes whiz by as fast as the bullets and lasers. Popular characters are slaughtered to jar viewers, the pop culture references range from lowbrow to highly esoteric, and the series’ world-building and callbacks to earlier episodes are unparalleled. It’s a ruthless, specific humor which stems from the fact that the show is still driven by its creators, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, who write, direct, and voice most of the vast variety of characters (which explains why it takes forever to get new seasons).

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Hulu, Microsoft, and PlayStation Video. Season six drops Jan. 31 on Adult Swim.

Commitment: 24 hours.


Marvel's Agent Carter: Season 1 (2015) 96%

What it is: Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agent Carter takes place shortly after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, following the exploits of Peggy Carter as she joins the Strategic Scientific Reserve in post-WWII New York City.

Why you should watch it: Essential viewing for fans of the MCU, Agent Carter expands on the background that led to the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries, while also infusing the universe with a spunky feminist twist. Peggy Carter is one tough cookie who relies on her wits as much as she does her physical strength, battling villains as well as the internalized (and sometimes externalized) sexism of mid-century America.

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, MicrosoftPlayStation Video, and Vudu, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray.

Commitment: 5.5 hours.


Parks and Recreation: Season 7 (2015) 89%

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What it is: An idealistic small-town government supervisor with an obsessive work ethic and a penchant for waffles helps keep her local Parks and Recreation department running smoothly, despite an eccentric team of easily distracted employees and a boss who deliberately attempts to undermine the bureaucratic process.

Why you should watch it: Here’s why you should watch Parks and Rec: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott, and Rob Lowe. There’s a reason why this unabashedly sweet and silly workplace sitcom became the calling card for some of today’s biggest and most promising stars. Part of it has to do with the writing, to be sure — equal parts clever and absurd, incisively satirical at times and lovably earnest at others. Morever, though, each role was so perfectly cast that every star was allowed to shine. Amy Poehler is Leslie Knope, Nick Offerman is Ron Swanson, Chris Pratt is Andy Dwyer, Rob Lowe is Chris Traeger (“lit’rally”), and it is very, very hard to dislike any of them. You will laugh, and you will find yourself wishing you could be a part of the gang. This is comfort TV at its finest.

Where to watch: Amazon, HuluiTunes, NetflixVudu, and on DVD.

Commitment: 48.5 hours.


Bored to Death: Season 3 (2011) 78%

What it is: After his girlfriend dumps him, struggling writer Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) puts an ad on Craigslist, advertising himself as an unlicensed private detective. As his moonlight investigation job takes off, his best friend Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and his boss George (Ted Danson) join him on his adventures.

Why you should watch it: It’s a neo-noir comedy with a great ensemble. Ted Danson is awesome, and the stable of recurring and guest stars is formidable. Many feel the series was cancelled too soon, and talk of a follow-up movie (Ames reported in 2015 that he’s working on another draft of the script) continues to keep the detective dream alive. Also, it should get you in the laughing mood for Galifianakis’ upcoming new comedy series, Baskets, premiering Jan. 21 on FX.

Where to watch: Amazon PrimeGoogle Play, HBO GoVudu, and also on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Commitment: 12 hours.


The Missing: Season 1 (2014) 91%

What it is: The order of a second season has led The Missing into the anthology series pool. Season one is the horrifyingly realistic tragedy of one couple’s search for their young son, who goes missing during a holiday in France.

Why you should watch it: Subject matter like this can be difficult; it makes one wonder why watching a story about a missing child could be considered “entertainment.” But the familial dramatic arc and the unfolding mystery are presented with exceptional insight, as the characters’ daunting lives are carried out with specificity by a stellar cast that meets the challenge set before them.

Where to watch: AmazonGoogle Play, iTunes, PlaystationStarz Play (with cable subscription), Vudu, and XFinity (with cable subscription), and on DVD and Blu-ray.

Commitment: 13 hours.


Suits: Season 4 (2014) 100%

What it is: In USA Network’s legal drama about a brilliant but unlicensed lawyer (Patrick J. Adams) and his polished mentor (Gabriel Macht), “suits” can refer to the millions of dollars in play for each case — or the well-dressed, fast-talking, claptrap-thinking litigators who wear them.

Why you should watch it: There’s usually an interesting lawsuit at the center of every episode, but the dynamic at the office of Pearson Hardman is Suits‘ bread and butter. From Louis Litt’s bullying of the associates to Harvey Specter’s obsession with winning, every character develops into someone you either love or love to hate. With a big cliffhanger heading into the Jan. 27 midseason premiere, now is the perfect time to study up on this quick, smart, well-tailored drama.

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Playstation, USA Network (with cable subscription) and Vudu.

Commitment: 50 hours.

Better Call Saul ends its first season this month, so now you can watch every episode in one 10-hour binge (and then wait forever like the rest of us for season two). And there’s still time to catch up on comedies Louie and Silicon Valley, before they come back this month. For those of you curious about joining the Clone Club, now is the time to binge the first two seasons of Orphan Black in time for Apr. 18. These, and other recommendations are below to satisfy any binge-watching tastes this month!


Better Call Saul

What it is: Before he was Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, Albuquerque’s shadiest (and funniest) lawyer was Jimmy McGill.

Why you should watch it: For people who like to watch everything at once, season one will be ready for you to view in its entirety after the finale on AMC, Tuesday, Apr. 7. Essential viewing for Breaking Bad fans, Better Call Saul is also a stand-alone drama, engrossing and darkly comic, with knock-out performances by Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks.

Where to watch: Every episode of season one is available on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, Xbox Video, and Vudu.

Commitment: 10 hours.


Orphan Black

What it is: After seeing “herself” jump in front of a train, a young woman discovers she is a clone and, with the help of the others like her, falls into a conspiratorial whirlwind of mystery and deception.

Why you should watch it: Tatiana Maslany has received attention her performances as each clone, but that’s not the only reason to watch. Suspense, drama, action, and a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor make this one a must-see for fans of varying genres.

Where to watch: Orphan Black returns with its season three premiere on Apr. 18. Seasons one and two are available on Xfinity, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Sony Playstation, Google Play, Xbox Video, and DirecTV. Both seasons are also available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Commitment: 20 hours.


Sons of Anarchy

What it is: Kurt Sutter’s hit series from FX follows the exploits of the biker club SAMCRO, and its “president” Jax Teller (Charlie Hannum).

Why you should watch it: Sons of Anarchy rode off into the sunset earlier this year and left a legion of loyal fans and adoring critics in its wake. The Shakespearean themes of this gritty drama give poetic undertones to the violent lives (and deaths) of these characters.

Where to watch: Seasons one through six are streaming on Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. Season seven will debut on Netflix on Apr. 25. Every episode is also available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, Xbox Video, and Google Play.

Commitment: 85 hours.


Silicon Valley

What it is: In Mike Judge’s comedy set in Bay Area’s tech universe, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and his team of socially awkward developers make an app, catching the attention of the area’s billionaire investor.

Why you should watch it: Short and sweet, season one of Silicon Valley is an easy catch-up before season two premieres on Sunday, Apr. 12. The cast, featuring Middleditch, T.J. Miller, and Kumail Nanjiani, perfectly capture the oddball characters who rule the Internet.

Where to watch: Seaon one is available on HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, Xbox Video, and DVD and Blu-ray.

Commitment: 4 hours.


Penny Dreadful

What it is: Penny Dreadful creates a frightening variant of Victorian London, where horrific figures from classic literature such as Dr. Frankenstein, the Creature, Dorian Grey co-exist and terrorize the city.

Why you should watch it: The gore is intensified by the element of high drama, earning season one a Certified Fresh Tomatometer score of 78 percent.

Where to watch: Penny Dreadful season two begins May 3 on Showtime. Seasons one is available on Showtime Anytime, iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon Instant Video. It’s also available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Commitment: Eight hours.


Black Sails

What it is: This prequel to Treasure Island chronicles the rise of John Silver (Luke Arnold) and the adventures of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens).

Why you should watch it: The series, which just finished airing season two, takes a deeper look at the politics during the Golden Age of Piracy than the usual swashbuckling and copious use of the phrase, “Arrrrrr!”

Where to watch: Both seasons are streaming on Starz Play. Every episode is also available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, and Google Play.

Commitment: 20 hours.


Looking

What it is: Three gay men ride the turbulent waves of the San Francisco dating scene while maintaining their friendships and careers.

Why you should watch it: Though recently canceled, season two of Looking begins streaming on iTunes on Apr. 20. Its honest depiction of sexual and emotional issues grabbed critics’ attention with season one, which is Certified Fresh at 89 percent, and continued to impress critics and fans (currently petitioning for its revival) throughout its short run.

Where to watch: Seasons one and two are available on HBO Go and iTunes (season two iTunes as of Apr. 20). Season one is also available on Vudu, Google Play, YouTube, X Box Video, and Amazon Instant Video. Season one is available on Blu-ray and DVD (season two is available for pre-order).

Commitment: Nine hours.


Manhattan

What it is: A family drama set in Los Alamos, NM, portrays the development of the Manhattan Project and the invention of the atomic bomb.

Why you should watch it: Manhattan uses the government’s top secrecy to explore drama and intrigue on a family level. It also drives you to root for this band of scientists struggling with the dilemma of creating such a fearsome weapon, and not being able to tell their loved ones about it.

Where to watch: Season one is available on Hulu Plus, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Xbox Video ,and YouTube Purchase.

Commitment: 13 hours.


Louie

What it is: In this quasi-autobiographical FX series, Louis CK plays himself, a stand-up comedian and single dad living in New York City.

Why you should watch it: Louis CK’s encapsulation of the human experience is at once hilarious and sad and his hometown of The Big Apple is the perfect setting for examining everything wonderful, awful, and downright weird about people.

Where to watch: Seasons one through four are available with a subscription to Amazon Prime and Netflix. All four seasons are also available on Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, XBox Video, and DVD.

Commitment: 27 hours, and with season five coming to FX on Apr. 9, you better start now!


The X-Files

What it is: FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate unexplained paranormal phenomena. Mulder wants to believe, but Scully is a skeptic.

Why you should watch it: With the announcement of an X-Files reboot, there’s no time like to present to familiarize yourself with the show — especially if you’re a fan of aliens, conspiracies, unexplained phenomena, or just really good mysteries.

Where to watch: All nine seasons of The X-Files are available on DVD and streaming on Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and Netflix. You can also download every episode from iTunes and Vudu.

Commitment: 154 hours.


Which of these shows would you recommend to a friend? Let us know in the comments section below!

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