This is my list; there are many like it, but this one is mine; I worked really hard on it and I hope you enjoy it. If I completely forgot to even mention a great anthology series, please do suggest it in the comments below. But, beyond that, remember, a list is only a personal opinion. Your favorite might not be one of mine, and the only solution for that is for you to write your own list! 🧡
Here we go…
What Channel Zero did for creepypastas, this show does for two-sentence horror stories, and it actually turned me onto writing them myself, which is a lot of fun.
Based on the popular book series of the same name by R.L. Stine, this was a fun one that most of us probably remember fondly from our childhood.
The easiest way to describe it is probably as a scarier, more mature version of Goosebumps.
Basically the sequel to Heavy Metal, and thematically, very similar.
The third revival of The Twilight Zone by Jordan Peele. I did enjoy it, but it wasn’t as strong as other revivals.
From the same people that brought us Masters of Horror, the same concept is used here, only for the science fiction genre.
A long time coming, we finally get a Creepshow TV series. Shudder has made a good effort (better than any of their other original series so far) and I’m enjoying it overall.
From the creator of Mad Men, comes this really interesting, perhaps even experimental anthology. There are very few non-horror anthologies, and this is one of them.
A very short-lived revival (the second) of The Twilight Zone.
From the writings of Philip K. Dick (possibly the most beloved science fiction writer of all time). It’s been compared to Black Mirror, but I don’t think it’s intentional in any way.
From the same creators and following the same structure as American Horror Story, comes this true crime anthology. It’s really well done.
This mystery anthology is almost always based in reality. Even when supernatural things appear to be taking place, like an episode of Scooby-Doo, it often turns out to be simply a matter of human greed and cleverness.
I binged my way through this collection, with nearly every episode being written by Ray Bradbury or based on his past works.
Obviously directly and heavily influenced by The Twilight Zone (I can’t imagine it would even exist without it), it focuses more heavily on science fiction and aliens and creatures than other subjects. It’s sometimes a bit campy, but still fun.
You’ve probably heard of this one, but chances are you’ve only seen a few episodes, if any at all. Unfortunately, there’s no official DVD and certainly no Blu-ray release of the episodes and probably never will be. A few episodes are actually about Freddy Krueger and even canon to the Nightmare films. Technically, all the episodes are canon in that they involve residents of Springwood, but it mostly plays as a straight horror anthology without any overt connections.
Another one that I binged my way through and enjoyed very much. The basic premise is that a hitchhiker travels from one place to another and happens upon different mysteries, as a sort of forth-wall-breaking host.
Similar to Masters of Horror (and created by the same person), this anthology enlists the help of well-known horror writers to script each episode.
Not to be confused with American Crime Story, this show was phenomenal. Some of the best acting I’ve ever seen in television or even film. Just crazy good.
As a seasonal anthology, each season is a new story, based on a popular internet creepypasta. For the Syfy channel, it was one of their rare series that was exceptionally well done.
The first revival of The Twilight Zone, and the best so far. Similar to the original series, this one also had a lot of originality that influenced future movies and TV shows.
A lot of the same crew from Creepshow (the movie) helped to create this TV show, and it shows.
I enjoyed this ’90s revival of The Outer Limits much more than the original. The series was an uncommonly successful revival, running a full 7 seasons, with 20+ 1-hour long or longer episodes in each season! Also, it’s easy to forget that this show originally aired on Showtime until the occasional softcore porn episode pops up.
As a premium cable channel, meaning that they were not beholden to advertisers or as many regulations as typical network channels were, HBO could sort of go nuts with nudity and gore. And while I loved Tales from the Crypt overall, the gratuitous exploitation of these things over story did sometimes become a bit exhausting when binging the show. And the fact that nearly every single episode was full of sleazy characters that would ultimately die without any chance of redemption (I do realize that’s sort of the entire point) grew tiresome sometimes. I actually might have enjoyed the intros and outros from the Crypt Keeper more than the episodes themselves.
Unlike the traditional anthology where every single episode is different, AHS takes the approach of a seasonal anthology, where each season is a different story. I’m not sure if this was the first show to do this (there’s always a lurker ready to shout from the rooftops when something isn’t the first), but it’s one of the first ones that I remember before it became a more popular format, before True Detective or Fargo even. The show is highly stylistic and doesn’t shy away from getting weird.
Black Mirror is amazing. This is perhaps the most production value to ever be put into an anthology series. The theme of the show revolves around how deeply technology has changed us, and usually not for the better.
We were all skeptical at first that this could live up to the movie, but each season manages to get weirder and cooler and scarier. They knocked this one out of the park and did the Coen brothers proud.
From the mind and heart of Steven Spielberg, comes this lighthearted anthology. There’s much more fantasy and humor in this series than in others listed here. Every once in a while there was a scary episode, but even those ones are more quirky than straight horror.
With a much harder edge than The Twilight Zone, but with the same mastery, I would consider this a gloves-off Rod Serling. What he delivered with kindness and sentiment on The Twilight Zone, he’s traded in for pure horror and terror here and shows the limitlessness of his range. Wonderfully macabre, and even very disturbing and sick at times.
This was originally supposed to be Creepshow (the series), only released under the name it was due to some rights issue or something to that effect I believe, but with all the same crew, including Tom Savini! This show was really for horror fans, by horror fans. While this doesn’t come in at #1 on my list, if this was a strictly horror-only TV anthology list, it would have been. The intro is burned into my psyche: “Man lives, in the sunlit world…“
The grandmaster of all anthologies, to absolutely no one’s surprise I’m sure, is obviously The Twilight Zone. I can think of no other show period that has had as much influence on culture, writers, creative minds in general, and thousands of movies and TV shows that came after. Superb writing and atmosphere, often with incredibly emotional, universal human stories.
I believe the show managed to cover just about every emotion, human frailty, and vice that there is. Greed, envy, jealousy, addiction, shallowness, hate, rage, lust, racism, sexism, classism, cruelty, redemption, forgiveness, love, you name it. What this show really is I think, is the personal diary and poetry of Rod Serling put on a stage. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t know and love The Twilight Zone.
Just Haven’t Seen Them Yet
- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)
- Perversions of Science
- The Terror
- Night Visions
- Hammer House of Horror
- Tales of the Unexpected
Very Anthology Like
(but, technically not because of the presence of main character and story arcs)
- The X-Files
- Poltergeist: The Legacy
- The Burning Zone
- Friday the 13th: The Series
- Quantum Leap
(so something that would fall more under news or documentary than a traditional, fictional anthology, though otherwise clearly following an anthological structure)
There are of course many fantastic anthology movies like Creepshow, Cat’s Eye, Tales from the Hood, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, etc., but that’s a different list, for a different day. This list is all about anthology series on TV.
So, what do ya think? How’s my driving? What did I miss?
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