"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." - Groucho Marx
The horror genre didn't begin to aim its focus on kids and teenagers until the fifties/sixties (ghoulish comics) and seventies (movies). Studios realized that the youth has money, too. Or has means to get some so they can consume anything that fills their free time.
As the teen demographic was hit hard in the seventies and onward, TV networks took note and started to market to teenagers. The teen show formula wasn't exactly "perfected" until the nineties. So once writers were getting a better grasp of what does and what doesn't appeal to kids, teens, and young twentysomethings, they were allowed to branch out and explore other genres. This included science fiction, which was particularly popular with the elementary and middle school aged, and then horror for those not so easily scared.
Series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files especially inspired the paranormal boom of late '90s scripted television. But are there really that many horror shows out there that are geared toward children and young adults? Yes, there is a surprising high amount. And here are twenty of them.
For the sake of keeping the list fresh, well-known entries like Buffy, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps, Shadowhunters, and Teen Wolf have been excluded to make room for other series.
THE SECRET CIRCLE 2011-2012
A group of teenagers learns that they are all witches, and only together can they defeat those out to destroy them.
This short-lived series based on LJ Smith's series of novels was basically greenlit as a result of the success of The Vampire Diaries adaptation. Unfortunately for The Secret Circle, it just couldn't bring in the same audience draw as the aforementioned series. By the time the show found some footing, the damage had been done and it was effectively cancelled.
EERIE, INDIANA 1991-1992
After a young boy moves to a small town called Eerie, he and his friend investigate mysteries and bizarre occurrences around the area.
Omri Katz of Hocus Pocus fame starred in this little show that could be best described as David Lynch for kids. It was a strange series that didn't stay on the air for more than one season. It did receive renewed interest after Fox Kids began to show reruns. There was even a brief spin-off called Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension that both premiered and ended in 1998.
BIG WOLF ON CAMPUS 1999-2002
After he's bitten by a werewolf, a teenager becomes a werewolf himself. He and his friends then battle supernatural creatures in their hometown.
The critical success of Buffy influenced the creation of this Canadian lycan horror comedy. It's far less serious, but Big Wolf on Campus has nostalgic appeal at the very least. The MTV adaptation of Teen Wolf definitely took some cues from this one.
DEAD OF SUMMER 2016
Set in the 1980s, a group of camp counselors experiences terror one summer.
Freeform followed Fox and MTV, both of which had created their own slasher series around the same time. Dead of Summer failed to impress many viewers early on, but those who stuck by it were rewarded as the one-season show delivered one of the more shocking twists that year. Had the series been renewed, Summer would have become a seasonal anthology like American Horror Story.
THE FADES 2011
A teenager must prevent the spirits of the dead, known as Fades, from returning to the plane of the living and destroying all of mankind.
Although this BBC supernatural drama didn't last long (many British shows don't exceed more than one season anyway), it set up an intriguing story. It's on Prime Video in the U.S. as of now.
Those stuck in Saturday detention are spared from succumbing to an unleashed chemical that turns the majority of the town into zombies.
Hulu devised a zombie show geared toward younger audiences. The casting of some YouTube "celebrities" as characters was a deterrent for some, but the first season improved as it furthered along. In July 2018, Freakish was cancelled.
After his twin brother dies by suicide, Derek takes over his website that investigates paranormal cases.
The producers of The Blair Witch Project created this Fox show, which is like The X-Files for the Internet crowd. The overarching mystery about the protagonist's brother is sprinkled throughout the only season, but most episodes were standalone and of the monster-of-the-week variety. Unfortunately, Fox put this in its Friday deathslot. Not to mention Freakylinks, a show about the Internet, was possibly too ahead of its time.
GLORY DAYS 2002
When a novelist moves back to his hometown, he comes across mysteries that only he can seem to solve.
Kevin Williamson conceived this show as a standard drama, but the WB asked for him to revise it as a mystery oriented series. Only nine episodes were made/aired so it wasn't a major loss for the network. Though it was a mildly comforting show that starred Tad from Friends and Emily Van Camp before she was cast in Everwood following Glory Days' cancellation..
LIGHT AS A FEATHER 2018
When a group of high school friends play a game of Light as a Feather with a new student, they each begin to die. It's revealed that this rendition of the game curses every participant.
Hulu quickly put this show together just in time for Halloween. Sadly, it won't be getting too much attention with the release of other anticipated horror TV series that debuted in or will be debuting this October. Light as a Feather is a breezy and engaging supernatural mystery with some inspiration from the Final Destination franchise. It's not profound by any means, but it also doesn't try to pretend to be either.
MY BABYSITTER'S A VAMPIRE 2010-2012
A family's babysitter turns out to be the son's high school crush. She's also a vampire that fights whatever goes bump in the night.
This Canadian supernatural comedy started off as a Teletoon TV-movie before it was imported to the U.S. There, it aired on Disney Channel. Due to some questionable content (like showing the protagonist feeding on rats as a substitution for human blood), it probably turned off some parents looking for something "safe" for their kids to watch. Babysitter is very much a Buffy wannabe, but that can be forgiven as the series has a nice sense of humor and some fun characters.
SCREAM: THE TV SERIES 2015-
A teenager and her friends become victims to a masked killer in a small town.
It should be noted that during the movie franchise's prime, a television spin-off was rumored to be on the horizon. Nothing ever came to fruition until over a decade later. The MTV adaptation was disappointing to plenty of viewers. And for good reason. The show miraculously received a second season, which many agreed was a slight improvement over the first. A third (and maybe final?) season with a brand new cast and staff is in the works.
In his new town, Keean befriends two local kids who are each aware of the area's supernatural matters. They all team up to solve mysteries while also learning the truth about Keean's mother's death.
The Hub Network created a show based on Christopher Pike's Spooksville series of books, which were released between 1995 and 1998. The books were much lighter in tone in comparison to Pike's books for older readers. The TV series focused on Keean and his friends solving paranormal phenomena every week
SCREAM QUEENS 2015-2016
A sorority's members are targeted by a masked killer.
Ryan Murphy was behind this horror comedy geared toward pop culture buffs as well as horror fans. The humor was often too mean-spirited and offensive for some, and the horror elements of each season felt like the measly filling in a cookie (read: just not enough). Audiences would have to bide their time before an episode of Scream Queens truly dove into what the premise promised. In its only two seasons, the series managed to gain a cult following. For everything Queens did "wrong," it managed to make some interesting commentary on the slasher sub-genre without being too derisive.
THE HAUNTING HOUR 2010-2014
In this horror/sci-fi anthology geared toward kids and teenagers, the young protagonists of each self-contained story deal with the supernatural.
Stories from R.L. Stine's The Chilling Hour and The Haunting Hour books provided some material for part of this anthology. Most of the other episodes were based on original scripts. Like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps, The Haunting Hour used a lot of metaphors to convey messages and situations that younger audiences wouldn't either understand, or to bypass the censors. Hour felt a bit uneven as there were often times in this series where a story was possibly too mature or even abstract.
EYE CANDY 2015
As a computer whiz searches for her missing sister, a serial killer targets those who date online.
Eye Candy is also based on an R.L. Stine work, but the MTV production presumably takes liberties with the story. Anyone thinking this will be a high caliber crime drama will be disappointed. Though it's considerably subpar, Eye Candy may grab a patient slasher fan's attention.
SLASHER: GUILTY PARTY 2017
A group of summer camp counselors did a terrible thing to a peer. Now they must pay for their crime. Once they revist the site where the camp used to be, someone among them starts to murder everyone one by one.
Though many may not agree, the second season of this Canadian whodunnit series is better than the first. Mainly because it actually feels and behaves like a slasher, not just a crime procedural/serial killer drama masking as a slasher. Also, Guilty Party is less predictable mystery wise and it also has some startling moments and deaths.
POINT PLEASANT 2005
After a family takes in a young amnesiac woman who washes ashore on the beach, strange phenomena starts to happen to them and the town.
This supernatural soap opera never stood a chance on TV. It's basically fanfic for those who want to know what happened to Rosemary's baby had the child been a girl. If you don't mind some religious overtones in what is basically an OC-esque horror drama, Point Pleasant is worth seeking out.
A college dropout learns that he's the Devil's son, who must now capture souls that have escaped from Hell.
The CW scored a success with this hidden gem. It combines elements of Buffy, Dead Like Me, and whatever slacker movie comedy you prefer. Fans are thankful for the second season, but they were left with little resolution.
When a teenager learns he's a descedant of Van Helsing, he is tasked the mission of ridding modern London of dark forces.
The company behind Merlin and Hex came up with this rather unoriginal supernatural teen outing. Though in its defense, it doesn't partake in adolescent drama as much as one would think based on the plot.
MTV'S FEAR 2000-2002
In this reality show, a group of unlucky contestants is put inside a supposedly haunted place. Their exploits as they try to survive the night are documented and shared.
This series may not have aged well, but it is what it is. Especially for anyone who wants a laugh.
DAWSON'S CREEK 1998-2003
A coming-of-age drama about a young filmmaker and his friends in a small town.
The screenwriter for Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer got his foot in the teen soap door with the classic WB drama Dawson's Creek. Although it wasn't purely horror by any means, there were at least three episodes that touched upon Williamson's love of the genre. In season one's "The Scare," the group is put in a slasher scenario. Dawson and friends later find themselves in the middle of a Blair Witch-like situation in season three's "Escape from Witch Island." Finally, several of the characters share creepy anecdotes in the anthology style season five episode "Four Scary Stories."