You know it happens to be the story of my life…a new horror TV series debuts, I really get into it and like it…and Bam – canceled after one season! I’ve lost count of all the times that has happened since I was a kid and it got me thinking…I need to do a list of the best horror TV shows that only lasted one season.
There are a ton of shows that only made it one season and with good reason – they sucked! But that’s not what this is about. I’m only talking about the great ones. The ones that should’ve been renewed but weren’t for one reason or another. They were too expensive to produce, the studio didn’t understand it, lead actor jumped ship, whatever reason.
This is my list of the best-of-the-best horror oriented TV shows of all-time. Don’t judge too harshly folks, it’s just my opinion and we all know opinions are like – well, you get the point. Check out my list and see if you agree on some or any of them – and by all means, let me know what you think in the comments. Was there a favorite of yours that’s not here? Let me know, i’d love to hear about it.
10. She-Wolf of London (1990-91) – 14 episodes
It was distributed into syndication by NBCUniversal Television Distribution
The show was created by genre luminaries Mick Garris and Tom McLoughlin.
The cast included Kate Hodge and Neil Dickson.
I have always been a huge, huge werewolf fan and I really enjoyed this show when it originally aired. The makeup effects were pretty good with the great Gary J. Tunnicliffe as a young effects artist on the show.
A female American graduate student in London is bitten by a werewolf, then teams up with an English professor to investigate supernatural occurrences.
9. Brimstone (1998-99) – 13 episodes
This series aired on Fox for a limited run of 13 episodes from Warner Bros. Television.
The cast included Peter Horton and John Glover.
Brimstone was a great dark show that deserved a longer stint on the network, but nobody watched it, a shame.
Ezekial Stone, a former cop, planted evidence on his wife’s rapist whom was subsequently convicted. While incarcerated the rapist was killed, thus rendering Stone a murder. Later, Stone was himself killed by a criminal. He is sent to Hell for his crime. However, 113 evil souls have escaped, and the Devil sends him back to Earth to recover them. Both Stone and the escaped souls can only be harmed or killed by each other, and they can be sent back to Hell if their eyes (the “windows to the soul”) are destroyed. If Stone can recover all 113, then he’ll be given a second chance at life…or so the Devil says.
8. Darkroom (1981-82) – 7 episodes
This anthology series aired on ABC from Universal Television
James Coburn was the host of this Night Gallery style show. Other guest stars included Helen Hunt, Claude Akens, Richard Anderson, Billy Crystal, David Carradine, June Lockhart, and more.
I remember watching this series and loving it at the time as many of the episodes were pretty scary for a teenager.
An anthology horror/thriller series, along the same lines as “Twilight Zone” or “Night Gallery.” Each week features a new story and a new cast.
7. Dracula (2013-14) – 10 episodes
This series aired on NBC from Universal Television
The cast included Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jessica De Gouw, Thomas Kretschmann, Victoria Smurfit, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Nonso Anozie, and Katie McGrath.
I thoroughly enjoyed this show from start to finish. It was a modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s novel. It was a highly gothic version of the story with great acting and effects. It was too bad it didn’t make it past the first season.
The series introduces Dracula as he arrives in London posing as Alexander Grayson, an American entrepreneur who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the Order of the Dragon, a power-hungry organisation who ruined his life centuries earlier. Abraham Van Helsing, who has freed Dracula from the prison the Order placed him in, is also out for revenge on the Order and the two have formed an uneasy alliance. However, their plans are complicated when Dracula falls in love with Mina Murray, a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.
6. Dark Shadows (1991) – 12 episodes
This series aired on NBC from Dan Curtis Productions and MGM Television
The cast included Ben Cross, Lysette Anthony, Barbara Blackburn, Jim Fyfe, Joanna Going, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Veronica Lauren, Ely Pouget, Barbara Steele, Roy Thinnes, Michael T. Weiss, and Jean Simmons.
This series was created and produced by Dan Curtis, the man behind the original Dark Shadows soap-opera from the 1960’s. This short-lived series was incredibly gothic and chilling. It had just enough camp that made the original series so great. Ben Cross did a wonderful job portraying the enigmatic vampire, Barnabas Collins. The rest of the cast was awesome with guest turns by legendary Barbara Steele, Jean Simmons, and Roy Thinnes. This series also upped the sex appeal with lots of cleavage and blood.
The 1991 Dark Shadows tells a streamlined version of the original storyline – the arrival of governess Victoria Winters at Collinwood, vampire Barnabas Collins being released from his coffin, Dr. Hoffman’s attempt to cure Barnabas’ vampirism medically, and, finally, Victoria’s time travel back to 1790 to witness the events in which the still-human Barnabas is transformed into an undead creature.
5. Hammer House Of Horror (1980) – 13 episodes
The series aired on ITV in the UK and was produced by Hammer Films/ITC Entertainment.
The cast included the great Peter Cushing, Ian McCulloch, Denholm Elliott, Diana Dors, Robert Urquhart, Pierce Brosnan, Simon MacCorkindale, and more.
When I was a teenager this show aired on my local PBS channel and many of these episodes scared the crap out of me! I was a huge Hammer Films fan at the time and anything with the Hammer name on it was a sure bet. I’m not sure why there were not more episodes produced, but this was at the end of Hammer Films output.
Each self-contained episode features a different kind of horror. These vary from witches, werewolves and ghosts to devil-worship and voodoo, but also include non-supernatural horror themes such as cannibalism, confinement and serial killers.
4. American Gothic (1995) – 22 episodes
The series aired on CBS and was produced by Renaissance Pictures for Universal Television
The cast included Gary Cole, Lucas Black, Paige Turco, Brenda Bakke, Sarah Paulson, Jake Weber, and Nick Searcy.
The series was created and produced by Shaun Cassidy – the teen pop star known for his hit song “Da Doo Ron Ron” and his acting turn on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. He later went behind the camera as writer/producer on several high profile projects. The series was co-created by horror legend Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert through their Renaissance Pictures.
This series was such a great show and pretty darn creepy. I always use the quote by young Lucas Black as “Caleb” saying “Someone’s at the door!” in his Southern drawl.
The show is set in the town of Trinity, South Carolina. Lucas Buck, the local sheriff, has supernatural powers. He uses these powers to manipulate people into making evil choices. Lucas himself has already committed crimes such as murder and rape. A young boy, Caleb Temple, has seen the deaths of his mother and father (both suicides) and older sister (murdered). Caleb does not know that he is the biological son of Lucas Buck. The sheriff plans to corrupt his son, but faces obstacles. Caleb’s new legal guardian is his adult cousin Gail Emory, a reporter. Gail also investigates the mysterious deaths of her own parents. Caleb is helped by the ghost of his sister, Merlyn Temple.
3. Constantine (2014-15) – 13 episodes
The most recent show on this list aired on NBC from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television
The cast includes Matt Ryan, Lucy Griffiths, Angélica Celaya, Charles Halford, and Harold Perrineau
Constantine is based on the Hellblazer comic from DC. This character was first seen (aside from the comics) in the 2005 film which starred Keanu Reeves but it wasn’t as true to the character as the NBC series was.
This was such an all-around great genre show, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Matt Ryan did an absolutely fantastic job in portraying this character. The show was canceled because the ratings were poor. There was a campaign to save the show but to no avail. The Constantine character has not died with the show though. The CW Network has brought the character back with Matt Ryan on Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow. Alas, the series is still kaput. Out of any show on this list, I think Constantine would be the one show I would like to see continue out of all of them.
John Constantine, a demon hunter and dabbling master of the occult, must struggle with his past sins while protecting the innocent from the converging supernatural threats that constantly break through to our world due to the “Rising Darkness”. Balancing his actions upon the line of good and evil, Constantine uses his skills and a supernatural scry map to journey across the nation to send these terrors back to their own world, all for the hope of redeeming his soul from eternal torment.
2. Werewolf The Series (1987-88) – 28 episodes
The series was one of the original shows on the very first season of the Fox Network. I actually still have a clipping advertising the show from 1987. It was produced by Tristar Television through Sony Pictures Television.
The show starred John J. York, Lance LeGault, Brian Thompson, Ethan Phillips, and Chuck Connors in his last TV role.
Eric Cord is a college student whose average life comes to an end on the night that his roommate Ted hands him a gun loaded with silver bullets. Ted is a werewolf who has been killing people, and tells Eric to kill him, seeing this as his only way out. A red pentagram on Ted’s right palm is the sign that the change is coming. Confronted with Eric’s disbelief, Ted decides to prove his situation, and asks Eric to tie him up in a chair and wait until midnight, at which time he’d either see for himself or call in professional help. When midnight comes, Ted transforms into a werewolf, forcing his friend to shoot and kill him-but not before he manages to bite Eric. Before long, Eric discovers a pentagram on his own palm, and soon after undergoes his own transformation into a seven-foot-tall werewolf. Now on the run for his friend’s murder, Eric Cord spends the remainder of the series on a quest to find and kill the originator of his bloodline, the mysterious Janos Skorzeny, which will break the curse.
I’ve been a werewolf junkie since I was a child and got hooked by Universal Pictures’ The Wolf Man from 1941. So when the newly debuted Fox Network advertised a new horror series called Werewolf, I was floored and it immediately became my most highly anticipated TV show ever. After the pilot episode, I was hooked. The show was similar in design to The Incredible Hulk TV show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, the werewolf was on the run and each week he hitchhiked to a different city and had to help someone in need, not by becoming the Hulk but by turning into a ferocious werewolf and he killed people.
The show featured state-of-the-art werewolf and makeup effects by Oscar-winning genius Rick Baker and another Oscar-winner Greg Cannom. This show was a man-in-a-suit creature that looked incredibly cool (with the exception of long-simian type arms). It was and still is my favorite werewolf design ever on TV and a close third to The Howling and An American Werewolf in London from film. I was devastated when the show didn’t make it past the first season.
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75) – 20 episodes
This show aired on ABC from Universal Television
The cast included Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage, and Ruth McDevitt
Carl Kolchak was a reporter for Chicago’s Independent News Service, and a trouble magnet for situations involving the supernatural. Kolchak turned his investigative skills to vampires, werewolves, zombies and all manner of legendary creatures, but in the end he always failed to convince his skeptical editor, Tony Vincenzo, that the stories weren’t products of Kolchak’s own overworked imagination.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker is the result of two made for TV movies from 1972 and 73 respectively. The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler were so popular the network rushed to have a TV series developed to cash in on the preceding TV movie’s popularity. The series was basic in terms of format. Newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak played again by Darren McGavin tracks down stories that nobody else cares about but which usually contain monsters, the supernatural, or other forms of evil forces. It’s a monster of the week scenario that influenced many genre shows to come, most notably…The X-Files.
I’ve always loved the format of a different monster every week and that’s due to Kolchak. Darren McGavin was the perfect choice for the character, you can’t help but fall in love with him. I was six-years-old when the show aired and I remember watching the werewolf on a cruise ship episode and it totally scared me to death, I’ll never forget that. There will never be a better example of a horror-based TV series. They broke the mold when they made Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
Well folks, there it is. By all means, let me know what you think and I truly welcome your comments. Let me know If you have a favorite one-season wonder series that you love that’s not here. I’d love to compare notes.
Note: Some details were researched from imdb and Wikipedia.