A list of scary shows for kids to watch.
13 Scary TV Shows For Kids That Won’t Have Them In Your Room Later That Night

Turns these on for a good scare without the nightmares.

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Some kids are just creepy. You know the type: kids who are just naturally attracted to the spooky and macabre. They hug zombies and skeletons in Halloween yard displays. They’ve named their favorite doll “Baby Vampire” and have an imaginary friend named “Spooky Polly” who lives in a haunted house. (Am I describing my daughter? I am.) But children like this can be a challenge: they want to watch creepy things, but you can’t exactly watch The Shining with your kindergartener. (Well, you could, but we don’t recommend it.) So we’ve rounded up scary shows for kids that are still OK for kids.

We tried to take into account ghoul babies of all ages — a scary show for a 6-year-old isn’t going to be the same as a scary show for a teenager. Some of these shows aren’t so much “scary” as “they have a spooky vibe that your wee creeper is going to love.” We’ve ranked them from least spooky to most and tried to offer some guidance as to who would like what.

From alternate dimensions full of demons and witches to blood-chilling anthology series, there's something out there for your creepy kiddo to enjoy and, best of all, many of these shows are actually really good and make for great family viewing.

Gravity Falls

Tween twins have the spookiest, weirdest summer of their lives.Disney+

This hilarious adventure series is perfect for the kid who isn’t quite ready for scary fare, but enjoys tame but spooky content. Twins Dipper and Mabel are spending the summer with their Great Uncle Stan who runs a tourist trap “Mystery Shack” in Gravity Falls, Oregon. But there’s more to this town than meets the eye, even more than grumpy Uncle Stan will admit. Mythical creatures, alternate dimensions, and vengeful ghosts are just some of what these two come across in the most consequential summer of their lives.

Stream Gravity Falls, rated TV-Y7, on Disney+.

The Owl House

The Boiling Isles is not for the feint of heart.Disney+

Luz is a quirky kid obsessed with fantasy books. Her mom is a bit concerned that she might be too quirky, and has determined to send her to “Reality Check Summer Camp” to try to get her to think inside the box. But before she can go, Luz finds a portal to another realm, The Boiling Isles, an entire civilization built on the bones of a dead titan. There she becomes an apprentice to Eda, a wild witch who bucks the laws of the oppressive Emperor Belos by not joining a coven and limiting her magic to a single power. In time, Luz discovers there’s a connection between the Boiling Isles and her home of Gravesfield, Connecticut. Will she be able to right the wrongs in this new world and return to her own?

This show has some creepy creatures and stories, but on the whole should be OK for young viewers.

Stream Owl House, rated TV-Y7, on Disney+.

Dead End: Paranormal Park

First jobs aren’t supposed to be this hard... or dangerous!Netflix

Barney and Norma, are two teens both looking for a job at the local amusement park (think Dollywood). But when they show up for an interview at a haunted house, they encounter Courtney, a 1,000-year-old demon, and the paranormal realm she once inhabited. Things only get stranger when a resident of that realm, Courtney’s boss Temeluchus, possesses Barney’s pug (Pugsley). Down-side, he occasionally flies into a demonic rage. Up-side: talking pug!

This show is definitely more spooky than scary, so it’s great for younger kids. It’s also been lauded for its thoughtful characters and LGBTQ+ representation and plot lines.

Stream Dead End: Paranormal Park, rated TV-Y7, on Netflix.

A Tale Dark and Grim

The devil will have his due.Netflix

Prince Hansel and Princess Gretel run away from home after being beheaded (and revived) by their mother and father, and journey through all kinds of familiar fairy tales in search of a happy home. This masterfully macabre series is based on the beloved middle-grade books of the same name.

A trio of talking ravens humorously narrate spooky stories, interwoven stories are inspired by the real Grimm’s fairy tales — the ones with lots of death and gory details — but remains family-friendly enough for younger viewers.

Stream A Tale Dark and Grimm, rated TV-Y7, on Netflix.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Look away!Eike Schroter/Netflix

The opening lyrics of this show’s theme song say it all: Look away! Look away! Look away! Look away!/ This show will wreck your evening, your whole life, and your day/ Every single episode is nothing but dismay/ So look away...

When the precocious Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire suddenly find themselves orphaned, they are turned over to the care of their villainous uncle, Count Olaf. Olaf, a self-important, unscrupulous actor, is only interested in the children’s vast fortune and if he can get it without having to care for them, well, all the better.

This series as a cartoon would probably be TV-Y7, but the fact that it’s live action bumps it into TV-PG territory. It’s occasionally spooky, but is more suspenseful than scary. If your kid can handle the works of Roald Dahl then they’ll probably be fine with A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Stream A Series of Unfortunate Events, rated TV-PG, on Netflix.

Over the Garden Wall

Will the boys ever find their way home?Hulu

Wirt and Greg are brothers who find themselves in The Unknown, a mysterious, supernatural forest. With the help of Beatrice, a talking bluebird, they make their way through, often encountering strange, sometimes silly, sometimes scary creatures. But The Beast is ever on their trail, hoping to lead their wayward, hopeless souls to the Edelwood grove...

It’s a classic coming-of-age story with a whimsical twist. The rich, often creepy Americana/Victorian art style makes it super satisfying to watch, but sometimes may be a bit too scary for little ones. Characters like the Pumpkin People, the Beast, and Auntie Whispers are genuinely creepy! Common Sense Media suggests it’s probably OK for children over the age of 8 and we’re inclined to agree. Depending on your kid, younger might even be OK, too.

Stream Over the Garden Wall, rated TV-PG, on Hulu.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society.Paramount+

Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society, we call this story: The Tale of the Millennial Throwback We Can Now Nostalgically Watch With Our Own Children.

Yes, your favorite SNICK show (all due respect to Clarissa Explains It All...) is available for streaming and, if my kids are any indication, your kids will love it every bit as much as you did. The vignette series follows teens and tweens telling each other scary stories around a campfire. Every week is a new tale of terror... or at least the kind of “terror” that will give kids a fun scare without giving them nightmares, since most episodes have a happy ending. From ghosts to vampires to things that go bump in the night, Are You Afraid of the Dark? has something for everyone.

Stream Are You Afraid of the Dark?, rated TV-PG, on Paramount+.

Creeped Out

They say he collects strange tales.Netflix

This series is kind of like an Are You Afraid of the Dark? for a new generation. But instead of kids around a campfire, this show opens and closes with “The Curious” a mysterious, creepy figure who “collects strange tales.” Honestly, we think The Curious himself (who doesn’t say anything or do anything very scary but, come on, look at him!) is the scariest part of the series, which, like Are You Afraid of the Dark? tells a different paranormal but kid-friendly story each episode, ranging from demons to alternate dimensions to aliens.

Stream Creeped Out, rated TV-PG, on Netflix.


Strange things are happening...Disney+

Goosebumps premieres Oct. 13 and follows an “accidental releasing of supernatural forces,” prompting five teenagers to work together to recapture them, even as they discover secrets from their own parents’ childhoods.

The series stars Justin Long as Nathan Bratt; Ana Yi Puig as Isabella; Miles McKenna as James; Will Price as Jeff; Zack Morris as Isaiah; Isa Briones as Margot; Rachael Harris as Nora; and Rob Huebel as Colin.

And Slappy the Dummy as his creepy, creepy self, naturally. Terrifying ventriloquist dummies notwithstanding, we can’t wait to watch this with our slightly older kids.

Stream Goosebumps, rated TV-14, on Disney+.


A dance fit for a teenage goo goo muck.Netflix

After dumping man-eating piranhas in a swimming pool during water polo practice (whomst among us...?) Wednesday Addams is expelled from yet another school, prompting her parents, Gomez and Morticia, to send her to the Nevermore Academy, the high school for unusual (often supernatural) children where they met. But even among outcasts, Wednesday can’t fit in. But when a local murder mystery baffles the town, the deadpan goth girl realizes she’s inherited her mother’s psychic abilities and works to unravel the clues.

Common Sense Media suggests this one is probably OK to watch with young middle schoolers (they suggest 11 and up) but the blood and themes of murder might be too much for younger kids.

Stream Wednesday, rated TV-14, on Netflix.

Stranger Things

All is not as it appears in Hawkins, Indiana.Netflix

This pop-culture powerhouse is a great choice for middle-school kids, but is probably going to be a little bit too scary (and racy) for younger viewers. The series follows a group of dorky middle-schoolers in Hawkins, Indiana. But while they’re in the basement playing Dungeons and Dragons, a secret government agency headquartered in the town is tampering with the fabric of space and time itself, unleashing a hellish dimension dubbed “The Upside Down.”

Eleven, a telepathically gifted child, escapes from the headquarters after inadvertently unleashing “The Upside Down” on Hawkins, and she’s the only person who can stop it. But she’s going to need a little help from her newfound friends.

Stream Stranger Things, rated TV-14, on Netflix.

Locke and Key

A classic but refreshing haunted house story.Christos Kalohoridis/ Netflix

Based on the horror-themed graphic novels of the same name by Joe Hill, Locke and Key follows siblings Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode after the murder of their father by a former student. In order to find a fresh start, their mother moves them across the country from Seattle to their father’s ancestral home, Keyhouse, in Massachusetts. There, the children discover that the house is full of magical keys that seem to do the impossible, unlocking impossible, whimsical hidden rooms. But when Bode meets the mysterious “lady in the well,” a demonic being in a pleasing form, her quest for the keys puts the children’s lives in danger, all while shedding light on the mystery of their father’s murder.

Violent themes and scary happenings definitely make this a show better suited for middle schoolers and older.

Stream Locke and Key, rated TV-14, on Netflix.

Two Sentence Horror Stories

This can’t be good.Netflix

This anthology series is somewhere between Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Black Mirror. Each episode begins with a sentence and ends with a second that usually has some sort of twist ending. Social themes like immigration, sexual harassment, poverty, privilege, social media culture and more are often integrated into the story in ways that are both creepy and thought provoking.

The subject matter as well as some PG-13 horror and gore make this a good pick for older-middle school and high school viewers, but we wouldn’t recommend for younger kids.

Stream Two Sentence Horror Stories, rated TV-14, on Netflix.

Happy watching!

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