Fans love to indulge in the horror genre with movies and games. However, one medium that fans may be surprised to see horror delving into is the animated television genre.
Between children’s programming and more adult-themed horror shows, the world of animated television is filled to the brim with classic and entertaining horror shows. Here is a look at fifteen of the best horror animated series to watch.
Updated on November 27th, 2020 by Derek Draven: Horror fans have quite a few animated shows to pick from to satisfy their dark cravings, and we’ve added 5 more to this list to round out a total of 15. Some deliver dark subject matter, while others offer up more light-hearted scares. Either way, these creepy animated shows shouldn’t be missed.
15 Ruby Gloom
Ruby Gloom was originally marketed to the goth girl subculture but provided a unique twist with its titular character. In the show, Ruby is a positive-minded girl who dresses like a goth and hangs out in a creepy-looking mansion with the rest of her friends.
The show plays fast and loose with the preconceived notions of happiness by drenching each episode in dingy darkness that is designed to be viewed in a positive light. Unorthodox to say the least, but it’s one of the most charming features of the show by far.
14 Mummies Alive!
This single-season animated series focused on a group of Mummy protectors sent forth to protect a modern-day boy named Presley from the evil machinations of the wicked sorcerer Scarab. If his plan is completed, Scarab will successfully draw out the spirit of the ancient Prince Rapses and achieve immortality.
Each of the protectors has powers based on a different creature, including a snake, a ram, a falcon, and a cat. The show was notable for showcasing battles with beings from Egyptian mythology, including Anubis, Sekhmet, and Bast.
13 Count Duckula
The British cranked out this hilarious classic horror-themed children’s cartoon that played on the classic vampire tropes while creating something entirely new. During a reincarnation ritual, a mistake is made which brings Count Duckula back into the world as a good-natured duck who prefers broccoli sandwiches over blood.
Each episode is loaded with laughs as Duckula’s butler Igor bemoans his master’s newfound benevolence, while the ditzy Nanny showers him with love. The jokes are fast and the humor typically British, but underneath it, all is a deep horror theme that reverberates through every cell.
12 My Pet Monster
Comical family-friendly horror was the name of the game with My Pet Monster, a show that centered around a magical monster who comes to life whenever his shackles are removed. He soon befriends two boys and gets them into plenty of trouble as they attempt to hide him from the world.
At the same time, a ferocious monster named Beastur makes it out of Monsterland with the intention of grabbing Monster and taking him back. Equal parts comedy, funny scares, and an upbeat tone made My Pet Monster a short-lived, but beloved hit.
Gargoyles represented a very different take on animated children’s shows brought forth by Disney in the past. It featured mature storylines and very dark subject matter that incorporated elements of gothic horror with fantasy and science fiction. The result was a beloved cartoon that went way before its time.
The story centered around a family of ancient Gargoyles frozen in stone for centuries until a wealthy businessman manages to crack their curse and resurrect them in the modern age. The serialized nature of the storytelling was practically unheard of and helped draw audiences into the larger narrative.
10 The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy
One of the first shows that incorporated the horror genre into its programming has to be Cartoon Network’s The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. The show premiered in 2001 and focused on two young children named Billy and Mandy. After cheating and beating the Grim Reaper at a game of Limbo, the Reaper was forced into servitude for the children.
The show ran for six seasons and often featured the Jamaican accented Grim Reaper being forced to use his supernatural powers to explore areas like the Underworld or to even meet famous monsters like Dracula and the Wolf Man.
9 The Real Ghostbusters
Originally airing on ABC, the next horror show that needs no introduction has to be The Real Ghostbusters. Beginning in 1986, the show focused on the original Ghostbusters after the events of the first movie, seeing the team take down paranormal apparitions and threats around New York City.
After the show’s fourth season, the show was rebranded as Slimer! And the Real Ghost Busters. This new setup for the show focused on the infamous green ghoul Slimer from the original film, haunting the Sedgewick Hotel and having adventures with various other ghosts and characters, facing his antagonist Professor Norman Dweeb.
8 Tales From The Cryptkeeper
One of the more cult classic horror animated series to air was Tales from the Cryptkeeper, an animated continuation of the hit show Tales from the Crypt. Airing for only three seasons, the show continued the format of the original live-action series, with the infamous Cryptkeeper greeting the audience and introducing original horror stories.
Each story would impart some sort of lesson to the viewer, but the show’s mythology expanded in season two with the introduction of the Cryptkeeper’s rivals, the Vault-Keeper and the Old Witch, who continuously tried stealing his show as they had no show themselves.
Another popular animated horror series based on the works of a live-action series has to be Beetlejuice. Loosely based on the iconic horror movie from 1988, the film follows Beetlejuice and his “best friend” Lydia as the two explore the Neitherworld and the “real world”, a small New England town called Peaceful Pines.
As in the film, Beetlejuice is a con man who is constantly trying to pull one over on the residents of both Neitherworld and Peaceful Pines. He would often scam people and supernatural creatures alike, from sitting on babies of the Neitherworld to auto racing victims.
6 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Getting back to the world of children’s animated television, one of the most popular kids shows to ever feature the horror genre has to be Nickelodeon’s Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. The show ran for four seasons, airing 52 episodes starting in 1994 and running until 1997.
The show focused on three monsters named Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm. Attending a school for monsters in New York City, namely in a dump in the city, the monsters were taught by The Gromble how to become perfect monsters, scaring people all around the world. It is definitely considered one of the best horror comedies.
5 Todd McFarlane’s Spawn
One of the most adult horror genre animated series of all time has to be Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Notorious for featuring one of the first African-American superheroes in film, television, and comics, Spawn followed a former commando and government assassin in a covert black ops division who was betrayed and lost his life to a close friend.
Vowing revenge and hoping to reunite with his wife, the man-made a deal with the devil Malebolgia to become one of his soldiers, the Hellspawn or just Spawn, in exchange for returning to Earth. He becomes a rotting corpse called Spawn.
4 Invader Zim
While considered closer to the sci-fi/dark comedy genres, the animation style and horror elements incorporated into the show make Invader Zim one of Nickelodeon’s best shows to feature horror genre elements. The show focused on Zim, an alien part of Irken Empire who is often mocked for his failures as an invader.
Sent to Earth in an attempt to get rid of him, Zim makes Earth his home and makes several attempts to conquer it, all while battling his human nemesis Dib. The show was for older audiences and featured some scary visuals, making it a horror/sci-fi show.
3 Creepy Crawlers
This next horror genre animated series that was a major hit for the time was Creepy Crawlers. What made this show unique was that it was based on a popular children’s toy action figure series from the company ToyMax. Beginning in 1994 and run by popular company Saban Entertainment, the show ran for two seasons.
The show followed a normal kid named Chris Carter, who worked in a magic shop and designed a device called the Magic Maker. One night the machine produced three mutant/bug creatures called Hocus Locust, Volt Jolt, and T-3, who fought evil with Chris.
2 Courage The Cowardly Dog
Cartoon Network’s greatest horror-based animated series has to be Courage the Cowardly Dog. A series that followed an anthropomorphic pink dog named Courage, the show aired starting in 1996 and aired for four seasons. The show incorporated several genres, from sci-fi to heavy influences of horror themes throughout the series.
Following Courage along with his owners Eustace and Muriel in Nowhere, USA, Courage was abandoned as a pup when his parents were sent into outer space. Muriel found him and brought him home. Constantly yelled at by Eustace, Courage protects the couple from supernatural and horrifying monster threats.
Probably the most popular modern-day horror series in the animation genre has to be Netflix’s Castlevania. The show has aired for two seasons thus far, with a third season green-lit for production. Premiering in 2017, the show is based upon the popular video game series from Konami of the same name.
After the passing of his wife after being accused of witchcraft, the powerful vampire Count Dracula seeks revenge and determines to punish the people of Wallachia by sending an army of demons to overrun the nation. Monster hunter Trevor Belmont gathers allies to battle the vampire’s forces.