The 12 most memorably terrifying TV episodes ever
What are the TV episodes that scared you the most growing up? Everyone has one. From ‘Buffy’ to ‘Dr. Who’ to ‘Twin Peaks’ to ‘X-Files’ to Are You Afraid of the Dark,” what TV show scared the crap out of you and continues to scare the hell out of you today?
Bob: I find it interesting that no one has mentioned American Horror Story … mostly because even though I enjoy the show, I’ve never found it to be that scary. It has some cheap thrills and multiple heaping spoonfuls of creepiness, but not all that scary.
Dan: That episode of Six Feet Under where Billy tries to cut off Brenda’s tattoo. Or one of The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, some of them are terrifying.
Bob: “Lonely Souls” from Twin Peaks was terrifying. Laura Palmer’s killer strikes again in a surreal David Lynch directed sequence that is so violent and upsetting that I am shocked to this day that it aired on network television.
Chuck: I remember an episode of Night Gallery that scared me when I was a kid. Elsa Lanchester, the Bride of Frankenstein herself, starred as an old woman whose house was going to be torn down for some reason, but she refused to leave because of her garden. She was proud of her green thumb. Whoever wanted to build on her land had tried to kill her, the police show up and find her planting something in her garden (her thumb!), she dies and what grows from the thumb? The old lady! I just remember her sitting on the porch saying something like “I told you I had a green thumb.” It creeped me out. I don’t know if I’m remembering it all correctly though.
Carla: The Following pilot is scary. As is the Cult pilot. It freaked me out more than The Following.
Julia: I panic easy, so I avoid scary TV. But when I was about eight, I watched this one episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? where kids got trapped in a dollhouse. My mom told me not to watch it, but there were other kids around and I wanted to seem cool, plus we didn’t have cable at home and I was so excited to see something not on PBS or Saturday morning cartoons, so I did, and I had nightmares for years.
Moms are always right.
Jeremy: This is a difficult one for me because I was rarely scared by anything, partially because I didn’t watch anything that scary until I was old enough not to be scared by it. But there was one thing …
When I was a kid, I couldn’t watch the whole thing and ran out of the room. My parents still make fun of me for it, but I was only probably 4 or 5!
Jen: The Twilight Zone episode “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” based on the short story by Ambrose Bierce.
Katie: I know this isn’t a show, but I reread the short story “Where are you going? Where have you been?” recently and it is far scarier now than it was when I read it 10 years ago. That, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and to an extent “The Yellow Wallpaper” are all really creepy stories that are (arguably) don’t involve supernatural aspects.
Ivey: This too probably doesn’t fit the category (and I don’t have much to offer, because I’ve never really been a fan of horror/scary type stuff), was a 1994 Made for TV Movie on CBS called Without Warning. It was a War of the Worlds style (i.e. “fake” broadcast) of an asteroid phenomenon that ends up being extraterrestrials trying to make first contact.