Horror has been taking over TV in recent years, with zombies, vampires, werewolves, and more starring in their own shows. Some are supernatural comedies or dramas where the majority of the blood and guts happen off screen, but we are seeing more and more shows that aren’t afraid to get graphic — and audiences are loving them!
It’s not all horror, either. Period pieces, crime thrillers and comic book adaptations are also getting in on the gory goodness, showing us all manner of the twisted and grotesque. Some might be a little more gruesome than others, but all sixteen of these shows are the blood-soaked best that television has to offer… enjoy your nightmares if you choose to binge them all!
16. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is famous for two things: sex and violence. Naked people and violent death are featured in almost every single episode of the hit series, and both appear entirely un-censored. Courtesy of the somewhat medieval feel of the show, most of the deaths are particularly gory – no one in Westeros gets killed with a clean headshot, after all. Instead, we’ve had decapitations, sword fights, poisonings, stabbings, bludgeonings, more stabbings, spears, arrows, and fire – and those are the easy deaths.
The more extreme ones include death by molten gold, being used as a crossbow target while strung from a four poster bed, being ripped to pieces by white walkers, being torn apart by hounds, and a man crushing another man’s skull with his bare hands.
15. The Knick
One of the most horrifying things about The Knick isn’t just the blood and guts – it’s that this is a relatively accurate representation of medical care at a certain point in history. While many of the other entries on this list are out-and-out horror, The Knick is actually a medical drama. It just happens to be set in 1900, when medicine was a whole lot more frightening.
On top of the shudder-worthiness of seeing the doctors and nurses operating without gloves on, the various tools and approaches they take to surgery are displayed in all their primitive glory. The series shows us incisions, drainage, C-sections, missing noses, pulled teeth, and amputations in full, frightening, detail – on top of which, we get the visual pleasure of seeing the main character repeatedly injecting himself with heroin. Just in case you didn’t dislike needles enough already.
14. Penny Dreadful
Bringing together a whole range of monsters and villains from the pages of horror classics and cheap lurid fiction, Penny Dreadful includes plenty of sensational mystery and supernatural plotlines – but doesn’t skimp on the gore, either.
Set in Victorian London, this is period gore, and it’s done brilliantly. From the first season’s bloody experiments in reanimation that led to one Frankenstein-style monster literally ripping another in half, the show has pushed the boundaries of historical horror. Other moments of pure gore include a literal blood bath, vampires, bloodletting, possession (and the accompanying contortions), holes drilled in skulls, baby-butchering voodoo, death by hot oil and a vision of blood raining down on party guests.
13. Boardwalk Empire
This period crime drama may not be known for sword fights, serial killers or evil clowns, but it’s got enough violence to hold its own with some of the pure horror on this list. Starring Steve Buscemi as Nucky, a crooked politician whose dealings with bootleggers and the mob are as convoluted as they are violent. Guns are the usual weapon of choice, with everything from shotguns to derringers employed by the characters over five seasons. Heads are blown off at close range, men are riddled with bullets (why just shoot a man once, when you can do it a hundred times?) and others are shot execution-style.
12. The Following
The Following is one of many gory shows that deals with serial killers, but this one comes with a twist. The killer in question, having escaped jail, has gathered his followers into a mad, murder-happy cult who do an impressive amount of damage in honor of their violent leader.
While the show has a solid base in the realm of psychological thriller, there is also a whole lot of gore from start to finish. Starting with prison guards murdered as our killer first escapes, the show starts bloody and keeps it up from start to finish. Disciples are taught to murder, with the writers coming up with new and horrifying ways to kill off innocents on a weekly basis. Suicide via ice-pick to the eye, entire families killed, corpses used as dance partners and sex dolls, animals being casually slaughtered, and bystanders lit on fire are just a few of the scenes in store for viewers.
Netflix’s Daredevil proved to comic book fans everywhere that Marvel could do more than Avengers-style action comedy. The first of multiple interconnected superhero projects for the streaming service, this introduction to the man without fear included a whole lot of graphic violence. A lot of the violence was at the hands of the villains of the show – including Fisk murdering his father with a hammer as a child, and smashing someone’s head in with a car door as an adult.
However, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) himself is also not afraid of getting his hands dirty. His battles on the street often end in deadly violence, including a particularly memorable moment toward the start of season one, where a man’s head ends up being impaled on a spike. It was that death that really showed fans how violent this show would become – and with The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) joining the cast in season 2, it just got even worse. (Or perhaps, even better!)
10. The Strain
We’ve seen plenty of viral zombies in recent years, but The Strain brings us something new: viral vampirism. Before the show even launched, it was coming under fire for the graphic images of eye-worms being used for promotion – and those were the images deemed suitable for public consumption!
When the show really gets rolling, it gets extremely bloody (and those worms show up everywhere). Entrails, cutting into corpses, beating hearts (infested with those crawlies), head-bashing, internal shots of arteries being punctured, bashed in skulls and lashings of blood – and that was only in the first episode. From there, you can rest assured that the gore just gets more extreme, as the show does all it can to make sure that every episode pushes the envelope for creepy.
This award-winning show centers on a man who kills serial killers, and is also a blood splatter specialist – was there every any way that it wasn’t going to involve a whole lot of gore? Blood and Dexter go together like peanut butter and jelly, but the show has more to offer on the gore-front than just the red stuff. Each of the serial killers that Dexter goes after has a particularly disturbing way of killing their victims – and we get to see every single one of them in great detail.
Heads removed from bodies (and eyes and tongues removed from heads), bodies in barrels, severed body parts just everywhere (under Christmas trees, attached to mannequins and riding horses), decomposition and literal blood baths make this one of the most disturbingly bloody shows of all time. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s always Dexter (Michael C Hall) himself pinning people down with clingfilm and stabbing them.
8. Hemlock Grove
Werewolves are the flavor of the month in this Netflix original, where teens in a small town battle to save themselves from monsters, or from being hunted as a monster themselves. One of the most famous gross-out elements of the show is the way in which humans transform into werewolves (which you can check out for yourself here).
While many shows cop out with a shot of a human followed by a shot of a wolf, Hemlock Grove goes the extra mile. The transformation includes bones and muscle ripping, skin tearing, the whole nine yards as the person’s body is essentially turned inside out on the way to wolf-hood. However, that’s not the only time the show had us wanting to hide behind a pillow. Skin is not your friend here, as it is scratched off, faces are bitten off, and one character even has their entire chest flayed open. Lovely.
7. True Blood
Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, fairy blood and a whole lot more – True Blood may be billed as a vampire show, but it actually covers pretty much all the supernatural bases. And with that comes all kinds of blood and gore – with a special emphasis on the blood (vampires, after all!).
Throughout the series there is plenty of simple blood-drinking and vampires who are messy eaters, but there’s also a lot of gleefully violent scenes where blood makes it onto the floors, walls, ceilings…anywhere and everywhere. Slow motion beheadings, exploding vampires, bludgeonings, burnings, snapped necks, a spine ripped out and a human heart pie all make an appearance. On top of which, unlike other vampire shows like Buffy, where staking is an impressively clean death, the vamps staked in True Blood explode in showers of gore.
The latest chapter in the Silence of the Lambs franchise, this series based on the famous fictional cannibal is chock-full of gory moments. However, the majority of the blood and horror don’t actually come from the basic fact that Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is a fan of human flesh. Instead, they come from the multiple gruesome murders throughout the show, courtesy of Hannibal’s work with the FBI. The deaths and mutilations range from the more straightforward impalement and flaying-style (and the fact that these are the less gory deaths should give you an idea of how gruesome the series gets), to new heights of the macabre. Some of the more hauntingly bizarre deaths include a human totem pole, murder by cello (resulting in a playable corpse), human horse-birth, Joker-style face mutilation, corpse mushroom farms, and even being sewn into a living human mural.
Fingers crossed that we haven’t seen the last bloodbath this series has to offer.
Violence gets gladiatorial in this blood-soaked historical series, with plenty of brutally violent deaths in almost every episode. Much like Game of Thrones, Spartacus is a series where no character is safe from a shocking and violent end. A huge number of these take place within the arena itself – a space where death is almost certain, and the weaponry available is bordering on barbaric and used to chilling effect. Swords and axes are particularly popular tools of death for the gladiators.
Many deaths, however, happen outside the arena, as the other characters scheme and murder. Stabbings, slit throats, and poisoning are relatively easy ways to go, when compared to a forced C-section, diving off cliffs, or being beaten to death by marble.
The newest show on this list is only a few episodes in, but it’s already racking up the blood-soaked scenes. Based on the comics of the same name, Preacher centers on a Texas preacher with a past (and a superpower), a vampire with a drug habit, and a woman with a penchant for breaking the law. It’s dark, strange, and incredibly gory. Within the first two episodes, there have been multiple scenes of slaughter and hyper-violence. From the opening shot of a priest exploding, to murder by broken bottle, to death by corncob, to a severed arm with a chainsaw attached… there is blood and gore waiting around every corner.
3. The Walking Dead
It’s hardly surprising that a show about zombies features an extra helping of gore – after all, when the undead are after you, someone is bound to get eaten! Over the past six seasons, we have been treated to a huge variety of kills and injuries, all displayed in their full bloody glory. The zombies themselves are impressively grotesque – whether they are dragging their top half around with their guts spilling out, decomposing on the spot, or being ripped in half by the edge of a wall, these zombies are truly disgusting.
In addition to the already-dead being shot, ripped, and blasted apart, the living characters also get their fair share of bloody scenes. Limbs and eyes are lost, people are attacked by zombies and each other, and the whole thing just turns into a bloodbath on a regular basis.
2. Ash vs Evil Dead
Set 30 years after the original events of the Evil Dead franchise, Ash vs Evil Dead brings back the Deadites and all the death and gore that goes along with them. Given the hilarious brutality in the originals, it’s no surprise that the series includes all kinds of gory goodness…such as impalement on a cross with silverware in the eye, a demon crawling out of someone’s mouth, the demon itself with those lower fangs and missing skin, a severed head in a vice, human hand puppets, and a gush of blood powerful enough to knock someone over.
One of the best (and bloodiest) scenes, however, was the diner massacre, with multiple truly inventive deaths and buckets of blood as Ash & Co tear the diner apart.
1. American Horror Story
The unique anthology format of American Horror Story (each season is a self-contained mini-series) allows it to keep coming up with more and more ways to kill everyone off, and it does it with gleefully gory abandon. From the episodes that are psychologically horrifying, but not necessarily bloody (waking up with a split tongue and a fully tattooed face, for example), to those that are both (like being sewn to two decomposing bodies for five days before having to rip apart your own skin to escape), AHS is season after season of uniquely gruesome and terrifying experiences. Plus, of course, the more standard nightmare fodder, such as rape, murder, amputation and the most terrifying clown ever conceived.
Some series may be more gory than others, but the show as a whole is dripping with gore.
Did we forget to mention your favorite gore-packed series? Let us know in the comments!