The scariest episodes of 20 classic TV shows that horror fans should see

Everyone dabbles in horror — even Beaver, the Bradys and the Waltons.

Who says a TV show has to be a drama to be scary? Plenty of sitcoms have dipped their toes into chilling waters. In this list, we will spotlight everything from cartoons to Westerns. 

Are all of them scary per se? Not exactly. But from their plots to their casts to their creators, they all offer something of interest for fans of the horror genre. Why wait until Halloween to enjoy them?

Watch classic Halloween episodes from October 24–31 with MeTV's "Scream with Me" event! See the schedule.

1. Adam-12 - "Log 103: A Sound Like Thunder"

We don't get to see Malloy and Reed enjoy too much time off together. Here, they don't exactly "enjoy" their R&R, as the partners head on a double date to a ghost town. The spirits aren't the problem, but rather a vicious motorcycle gang. Bruce Glover, father of Crispin Glover, plays the leader, "Bach," seen here.

2. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour - "The Jar"

Adapted from a Ray Bradbury story, this twisted backwoods tale actually amplifies the ghastliness of its source material. On the edge of a swamp in Louisiana, Charlie Hill (Pat Buttram of Green Acres) discovers an eerie jar with… something floating in it. The poor simpleton is swindled into buying the jar and a personalized hair ribbon for his young bride. The contents of the jar is insinuated but never spelled out in the print version. However, Hitchcock (he did not direct this episode, Norman Lloyd did) literally spells out the shocking twist, as the beheaded wife's personalized ribbon (T-H-E-D-Y S-U-E H-I-L-L) is seen floating in the jar as Charlie holds a knife.

3. The Andy Griffith Show - "The Haunted House"

This being Mayberry, Barney, Gomer and the young boys have the shaky knees, not the audience. Still, there's a ton of horror-movie fun in this story, from the excessive cobwebs to the moving eyeballs in the eerie portrait above the fireplace. Oh, and don't forget the floating ax. Of course, none of these spooky shenanigans are of supernatural origin. The episode would go on to heavily inspired the Don Knotts film The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

4. Bonanza - "Twilight Town"

From time to time, Bonanza dabbled with the supernatural, from the clairvoyant woman in "The Strange One" to the "witch" in "Devil on Her Shoulder." But the Western fully embraced the unexplained in "Twilight Town." The title tips it hat to The Twilight Zone, as Little Joe stumbles into a ghost town. Emphasis on the "ghost." The entire mysterious outpost of Martinville vanishes into the desert in the end. Was it all a hallucination? A haunting? 

5. The Brady Bunch - "Fright Night"

The perpetually groovy, gee-whiz Brady Bunch don't exactly dip into gore. But "Fright Night" does show Greg with a skull. The boys and girls try to scare one another, staging phantasms and whatnot. 

6. Columbo - "Death Lends a Hand"

The second episode of the series showcased the directorial skills of Bernard L. Kowalski, arguably the only true horror director to work on Columbo. Kowalski helmed filmed like Night of the Blood Beast (1958), Black Noon (1971) and Sssssss (1973). Perhaps that's what makes the opening murder scene so unique, as the camera puts the audience in the POV of the victim.

7. The Flintstones - "A Haunted House Is Not a Home"

Fred stands to inherit a mansion. Just one catch — he has to spend a night in the spooky joint… and survive several attempts on his life. In some ways, Hanna-Barbera was honing its forthcoming Scooby-Doo skills here. Horror fans will of course want to see "The Gruesomes," which features the monster-like Gruesome family — Mr. & Mrs. J. Evil Scientist, Weirdly, Creepella, Goblin and Uncle Ghastly. It's the Stone Age spin on the Addams Family, essentially.

8. Gilligan's Island - "Up at Bat"

Gilligan's got wild in its third season. Not like Harlem-Globetrotters-visit-wild, but pretty zany. Take this episode, for example, when Gilligan is bitten by what is supposedly a vampire bat. Gilligan dreams that he is a Dracula-like creature of the night, with Ginger his wife. Turns out, it was just a fruit bat. But maybe also rabies?

9. Happy Days - "Haunted"

Ralph is throwing a Halloween party in the old Simpson house. Richie believes it's haunted. There's only one way to find out. Because this early episode was shot on film, the vintage Fifties feel is more pronounced than in a standard sitcom sound stage. It's a great capsule of how the holiday looked back then.

10. Kolchak: The Night Stalker - "The Spanish Moss Murders"

Kolchak battles vampires and zombies on the regular, so it's tough to single out just one episode, but we always come back to "Spanish Moss." The Creole bogeyman Père Malfait roughly translates as "the father of evil-doings." In other words, he's a devil figure, though here the creature is more of a mossy Swamp Thing. The mucky monster squeezes the life out of victims in the sewer. Gross. He was played by the towering Richard Kiel, better known as "Jaws" in the James Bond films.

11. Leave It to Beaver - "The Haunted House"

When you were a kid, any old house seemed haunted. June Cleaver sets up a dog-walking job for Beaver. Neat. The only downside is that it's for ol' Miss Cooper, whom Beaver believes is a witch. He must brave her house. Oddly, this episode originally aired in March, not October, showing the sitcom's dedication to spooks any time of the year.

12. Mannix - "End Game"

From time to time, a ghost from Mannix's past in the Korean War returns to torment him, none more effectively than Gus Keller (Steve Ihnat) in "End Game." Set in a dark, abandoned building riddled with booby traps, this suspenseful cat-and-mouse game leads to an explosive climax. 

13. M*A*S*H - "Hawk's Nightmare"

What greater horror is there than war? His time in Korea has truly begun to have psychological effects on Hawkeye, as he begins sleepwalking and having disturbing nightmares.

14. Perry Mason - "The Case of the Dodging Domino"

Yes, Perry Mason produced a Halloween episode. Set in the music world, this mystery has a murder occurring on October 31. As Alex Chase, Jeff Morrow looks rather devilish in his mustache and goatee. A bunch of kids in skeleton, Satan and gypsy costumes appear in the courtroom. Bonus points for this being the sixth episode of the sixth season. Ooh! Spooky!

15. Rawhide - "Incident of the Murder Steer"

"The Incident of the Murder Steer" is an all-time favorite of Rawhide fans for good reason. Its story is as easily branded on the memory as the ugly word "Murder" that keeps appearing on the side of a cow at scenes where men have died, victims of violent murders. It's an ominous mystery that finds Gil Favor pulling tricks to out the real killer, and it's based on an old Texas legend about a ghost steer reportedly seen in the frontier following a murderous scuffle between real-life cattle owners.

16. The Rifleman - "Hostages to Fortune"

The Rifleman was one of the only Westerns to have a straight-up Halloween episode. "Hostages of Fortune" is a case of mistaken identity, where young Mark and his pals play harmless pranks in masks to celebrate the holiday and this inspires real thieves to don similar masks in hopes of pointing the blame at the boys. The masks are crude and genuinely creepy, and it plays on Lucas' biggest fear: that he raised his boy wrong.

17. Star Trek - "A Wolf in the Fold"

With its spooky castle and unlucky black feline, "Catspaw" might seem like the obvious choice, but "Wolf in the Fold" (also written by Robert Bloch) gets under the skin in a more effective way. Scotty suspects he is a murder. Turns out, it is the sinister, eternal spirit of Jack the Ripper. The dated misogyny of the tale might shock viewers more than the horror tropes, but anyone can relate to idea that we truly don't know what we are capable of.

18. The Twilight Zone - "The Hitch-Hiker"

Ah, where to start! There are many options from which to choose in this brilliant anthology series (the best, really). Is it William Shatner sweating bullets as a gremlin tears apart an airplane wing in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"? Is it the more psychological dread of the underrated "And When the Sky Was Opened"? Is it "Mirror Image," the unnerving doppelganger story that inspired Us? Can't go wrong with any of those! But we are sticking with "The Hitch-Hiker," which zips along with the simplicity of the best campfire ghost stories, right down to its perfect twist ending.

19. Wagon Train - "Little Girl Lost"

In one of the most haunting episodes of Wagon Train ever, Charlie Wooster assumes he must be going mad when a little girl appears only to him. Others can only hear her crying. In the end, the ghostly girl is tied to a shocking true story in American history. The Donner Party was a group of pioneers on their own wagon train, who met misfortune and a gruesome turn when they had to cannibalize each other to survive. This wide-eyed girl got lost somewhere along the way...

20. The Waltons - "The Changeling"

Yes, even The Waltons had a poltergeist. Elizabeth is turning 13, which is giving her anxiety. Is what's causing the strange happenings around the house — or is there a maleficent spirit? The piano plays itself, a vase floats off the mantel, and — eeriest yet — her Raggedy-Ann doll creeps towards her bed. Ah!

 
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AgingDisgracefully 6 days ago
No Alfred Hitchcock and, "Stella is such a pretty nurse."?
jrmaul 6 days ago
The scariest episode of The Rifleman was actually "The Mescalaro Curse".
RichardWiehe 6 days ago
Twelve O' Clock High "The Lorelei". Not necessarily scary per se. But, it does have a bit of a haunting theme to it.
KevinMowery 10 days ago
The "Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Meet Dracula," with Lorne Greene as the vampire, and "McCloud Meets Dracula" with horror icon John Carradine as an actor who played Dracula, and who might be the vampire serial killer, and who might be an actual vampire, would be my picks.
IdaKnow56 10 days ago
As fond as I am of scary B movies, I will always be faithful to the granddaddy of all zombie movies, "Night of The Living Dead", where no one survives, not even the hero. And Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" is also a good companion on a dark and stormy night.
StrayCat 12 days ago
Missed the most obvious one. Twilight zone was a mix of sci fi, fantasy and horror (light on the horror). Anyway I think the episode that provided most horror was “The Howling man”.
Pacificsun 12 days ago
I liked the Leave It To Beaver episode (which wasn't meant to be a "Halloween" episode) about his brother Wally and Lumpy going to a masquerade party, so they were wearing masks. And scared the living daylights out of the kids!!
Stoney 12 days ago
Great list, but one quibble with the Star Trek episode: "The dated misogyny of the tale might shock viewers more than the horror tropes."

Please. Let's not be so uptight about stuff, OK? If it bothers somebody, they have the option of not watching.
ncadams27 13 days ago
The scariest show now is the News.
cperrynaples ncadams27 12 days ago
Yeah, 2 particuiar scares are "The Orange Monster From The Covid Swamp" and "The Turtle That Destroyed Democracy"...LOL! Remember folks, this is satire, no trolls please!
PS And let's not forget Steve Bannon as the Creature From The White Power Lagoon...Good one!
AndreaZ cperrynaples 6 days ago
Wow, you went out of your way on 2 consecutive days to make two troll comments in response to a harmless light hearted joke. Further proof that leftists are mentally unstable.
MrsPhilHarris 13 days ago
Love that Happy Days episode. Probably my favourite.
dmagoon MrsPhilHarris 12 days ago
Another Happy Days episode had a tale about a mad scientist who held Fonzie's friends hostage so he could drain Fonzie of his coolness; it turned out to be a dream.
cperrynaples dmagoon 12 days ago
That's on tomorrow night!
MrsPhilHarris dmagoon 12 days ago
I don’t remember that episode.
texasluva 13 days ago
The word is out. Yep. They're Back At The Bijou! (double feature). While you all are waiting for MeTV to show their Horror Wares you can get a load of this. Before the double feature you will also get coming attractions and another Bugs Cartoon.

Coming soon to your local theater hangout.......
"Robot Monster" "Fool Humans there is no escape"
The War Of The Worlds- They are coming from Mars and they mean business-Is it the end of the world we know
Radar Men From The Moon. Can Commando Cody..Sky Marshal Of The Universe Save us? 12 adventurous serials.
Teenagers From Outer Space...So that's where they come from...hmmm. They're here to ruin your party...bummer
The Thing From Another World. I always wondered where James Arness came from. He's big and he's strong and you just best watch it.

Cartoon-Falling Hare-Bugs is back and get load of this.....The little Gremlin.

Finally after all that hubbub of noisy, nosy characters from who knows where we get to our Feature presentations.
The Day of the Triffids- giant predatory plants? Space aliens spores? Golly...

They Came from Beyond Space- What's beyond space? Spaced out? You'll see.

If you got through all this without falling asleep, taking pepto or letting out a blood curdling scream "What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports’s is a-goin’ on here?!" You've accomplished a spectacular mission .

https://archive.org/details/THEYREBACKATTHEBIJOUdoubleFeature

For those whom are too scared to watch late at night. You can always watch during the Matinee .
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 13 days ago
Must have been fun for kids to go to Saturday matinees and watch these movies when they came out. Scary stuff! 😳
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 13 days ago
A couple of the coming attractions I had never seen, some never heard of. It was interesting watching them as the narrators did their best to make you want to come back and watch them. Actually the Bugs cartoon is really good. This showing is over 3 hours long. You have to laugh though because Robot Monster is too funny just watching the previews. They made a lot of 50-60's movies like this. Get you to come in buy a tub of popcorn, soda and some candy treats. Probably cost all of 50 cents or so. The last comment I made for fun because one of our MeTV posters commented they scared of one movie to watch at night. I can tell you though long ago I remember some that scared me good. Mom! leave the hall light on! Close the closet
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 12 days ago
Lol I remember getting scared too. Would hide under the covers. 😳
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 12 days ago
Ha ha. A lot of good that will do. That's where they are AT
Moriyah 13 days ago
What do you think is the most scariest Gomer Pyle episode out there? (Let me know)
Pacificsun Moriyah 13 days ago
#67 Gomer and the Little Men from Outer Space!!
Goooollllyyyy! They're all pretty scary! I'd be hard pressed to pick a scariest one. They're like Lays Potato Chips. Nobody eat just one Lays, nobody can pick just one scariest Gomer.
That episode of Gomer, is about as scary as "The Monkees Watch Their Feet." The goriest part of that episode, is when Peter/Davy tear off the cat's head!
PS. I know no animals were harmed {or used?} in the making of this episode.
Moriyah Pacificsun 13 days ago
If they spiced that one up a little bit more, then there would be a higher chance of them playing that one for Halloween!
Not all of them are scary. Some of them are actually really calm, and others do have a little bit of a scary tone to it.
Not being as familiar with GP and our ultimate fan Moriyah all I could was look through the list of episodes (there are a LOT) and pick the one with the best title. Who knew, no fright night at Camp LeJune! LOL!
cperrynaples 13 days ago
Anybody know when the schedule for the 30th will be put up? I gotta bookmark some of these for my DVR!
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Pacificsun cperrynaples 12 days ago
I have an HD DVR with a program Guide. It goes out pretty far, but I've never checked the actual end point. All I would do is highlight the sequence of shows on Ch #374 for that date, and never worry. There's also an option regarding particular Shows to record all episodes automatically. Mine isn't, but I hear DISH offers 2000 hours of recording. Once you have the Guide feature it spoils you for everything. Though I remember the days of recording stuff on VCRs. And yes, I mastered that system just fine! 😉
cperrynaples Pacificsun 12 days ago
Well, I have an Amazon DVR! It only does broadcast channels but it holds a buttload of recordings. I actually have a few complete series stored!
texasluva cperrynaples 12 days ago
The 29th is now up. A couple of spooky ones. Gilligan's Island-GHOST A GO-GO- The Walton's- THE GHOST STORY.
texasluva texasluva 12 days ago
Happy Days-Haunted.
cperrynaples 13 days ago
Without a doubt, 2 is the best show on this list! Between Billy Barty and "Evil Haney", it's perfect!
ponderosafan 13 days ago
You forgot "The Wild Wild West" episode "The Night of the Man Eating House". To this day I will only watch it during daylight hours.
Pacificsun ponderosafan 13 days ago
They also forgot MFU's The Bat Cave Affair with Martin Landau.

They didn't do very many seasonal episodes, but this one was their nod to scary happenings! DaveBow3??
I've seen that episode, and thought it was funny! Then again, I do find horror movies amusing. I thought, {still do,} that The Exorcist and Jaws are funny. Funniest scene in TE is when Regan spins her head around and throws up! Classic!
My fave MFU episode. I LOVE BATS!! They're adorable!! I really should watch that. I have a # of shows, I can create my own Teleween line-up. Starting with a certain '70's buddy cop show, whose second season episode's co-star was a vampire. I'll let you and the rest of you ponder which show I'm talking about. It shouldn't be too difficult to figure out.
cperrynaples Pacificsun 13 days ago
That MFU is ironic because Landau won an Oscar as Bela Lugosi ["Karloff isn't good enough to smell my [BLANK]"].
Well, I know Car 54 had a vampire AND a Frankenstein monster...LOL!
"You think it takes talent to play Frankenstein? It's all makeup and grunting...ARGH!"
texasluva 13 days ago
Seen some and others I would love to see and taking note. Below is a Horror mix from a person I sub to on Youtube. He puts together some awesome things from mostly the 50's to 70's era. Here he puts together-The Andy Horror Show (a mash-up parody for Halloween) using Scenes and sounds from The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Tingler, Ghostbusters and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken are interwoven into an Andy Griffith Show episode. You might all enjoy it.
cperrynaples texasluva 13 days ago
Yep, I just love Fredflix! The best reason to bookmark a YouTube page hands down!
PS You forgot the Munster Go Home trailer! An certain poster who loves this show [not Stephanie] would want to see it!
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 13 days ago
That was fun! 😄
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 13 days ago
Yep was. This guy on Youtube makes these type daily but some are much better. He puts things together from 50's-70's. It might be toys from your childhood or just daily routine back in 1969 lets say. A day in the life of a 12 or 16 year old. If you want to sub to someone he be the one. Everything is above board. No malarkey.
Pacificsun texasluva 13 days ago
Well that's really fun! Thank you for sharing!
cperrynaples texasluva 13 days ago
Actually, he's down to weekly, but I NEVER miss a new video! Better yet, no sponsors or pop-up ads!
stephaniestavropoulos 13 days ago
The funniest part of one of them is MASH. I think it's funny when Hawkeye is playing pantomime basketball!
Not as great as the one where everyone had dreams, but still pretty good!
stephaniestavropoulos 13 days ago
With regards to Adam-12: Great place to take your pregnant wife! Jim Reed was really playing the role of loving/doting husband and soon-to-be father, when he took his wife Jane {?} to a ghost town. Putting them both in peril, when the motorcycle gang shows up. Pete didn't seem all that concerned for his friend and his wife. If he was, and that's how the storyline went, {been a while since I've eyeballed the ep.,}he wouldn't have invited Jim to go with him. IMHO.
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