Gruesomely violent shows have been slowly infiltrating our televisions over the past decade so that death and blood are mainstays of many of today’s most popular shows. With the continued popularity of violent shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, it’s easy to say that people today are just obsessed with violence. But it’s not just the pools of blood and piles of bodies that are bringing people to their televisions. Most of the shows with gruesome violence also happen to be some of the most astonishingly artistic and interesting shows on television.
With that in mind, here are Top 10 TV Shows With the Most Gruesome Violence, meaning you can expect a high body count and a great story.
While Marvel properties aren’t generally known for their gruesome violence, all of that changed when it released Daredevil on Netflix. Taking full advantage of the Netflix format, Daredevil never shies away from the violent imagery of the comic book it’s based on, using regular bloodshed and brutality to give the series its dark tone. While Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) inflicts and receives plenty of brutal violence himself, the gruesomeness is elevated by the main season antagonist, Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), who brutally beats someone to death and decapitates him on his very first appearance on the show. In fact, just saying Wilson Fisk’s name out loud can make men do some pretty drastic self-inflicted harm. The second season will release some time in 2016.
9. Boardwalk Empire
Set during the Prohibition era, Boardwalk Empire focuses on the shadowy world of criminals and politicians hell-bent on keeping liquor flowing. With criminals who started off murdering and maiming almost indiscriminately to continue doing business, it’s particularly surprising that the show managed to get more gruesome with each season. By the time Boardwalk ended it’s five season run, throats were slit, faces were shot point-blank, and body parts were painfully removed. The violence is elevated by an excellent ensemble cast that includes Steve Buscemi, who received both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his turn as corrupt politician, Nucky Thompson.
8. The Strain
FX’s The Strain is a return to violent form for vampires, taking a step away from the sexy vampires who blend in with society that have invaded pop-culture recently. From Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (The Town), the series follows a team out to stop stop a vampire virus that causes victims’ bodies to grossly turn into a mix between bugs and zombies. These vampires then inflict their gruesome violence wantonly throughout Manhattan, while others track them down and kill them. The original promotional poster, which featured a worm burrowing into a person’s eye, was so gruesome that it sparked complaints, and FX decided to replace the artwork at several locations.
One of the most deadly shows to ever air, Starz’s Spartacus was inspired by a real-life Thracian gladiator who led a major slave rebellion. Violence in the world of the gladiator is treated as completely normal, with plenty of stabbings, lots of dismemberments, and truckloads of blood. In addition to being gruesome, the violence is also highly stylized and inventive, featuring plenty of slow-motion sword-wielding and twisty blood-letting. Spartacus ended its four season run in 2012, with one of its seasons functioning as a prequel.
Oz is the nickname for the Oswald Maximum Security Prison in this HBO drama. With prisoners sent there for cannibalism, murder, and more, it’s no surprise that the show (which takes place almost entirely in the prison) has a dizzying amount of gruesome violence. Death by eating glass, crucifixion, eyes being gouged out, and sexual mutilation are just some of the brutal moments this show has to offer. The oldest show on this list, the violence is Oz was seen as particularly shocking when it premiered in 1997. The critically-acclaimed series ended its six season run in 2003.
Showtime’s show about a serial killer who lives by a code starred Michael C. Hall as the titular serial killing Dexter, playing him in such a way that it was impossible to not root for him, and earning himself several Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination in the process. Dexter himself commits plenty of murders throughout the series’ eight seasons, but most of the more gruesome violence comes from the various killers Dexter and Miami Metro are pursuing. Of particular gruesome note is the religious killer from season 6, who used Doomsday tableaus for his crimes, including hanging a woman in a green house as the Angel of Death and recreating the Whore of Babylon.
A Silence of the Lambs prequel based on the novel Red Dragon, NBC’s Hannibal was unique in that it was one of the first extremely violent television shows on basic cable when it premiered in 2013. It followed criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) as he investigated a serial killer who, unbeknownst to him, was actually his psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Each episode focused on a highly stylized and intricate violent murder, including people with flayed backs perched to look like angels, a man impaled by a cello, and a depiction of the Colombian Necktie. Unfortunately, Hannibal was cancelled this year after its third season, but there is currently talk of renewing it as a feature film.
3. Sons of Anarchy
FX’s Sons of Anarchy, which finished its seven season run last year, featured some of the darkest mayhem ever to light up a television screen. It centers around Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), a member and sometimes leader of a biker gang in California that is involved in gun-running. The gun-running ensures at least a minimal amount of gun violence on the show, but SoA also features enough torture, stabbings, death by fire, and missing body parts to earn it a spot on the list. It’s actually a rare episode that doesn’t feature shocking amounts of blood and violence.
2. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is a story of power and control – and more often than not that power and control is exercised with extreme and gruesome violence. The amount of violence against women in particular has sparked repeated controversy, with some accusing the show of using rape as a plot device. But violent stabbings, brutal torture, and systematic death are all par for the course in this HBO drama based on the novels by George R. R. Martin. The Red Wedding is probably the most infamous violent scene thanks to the sheer butchery and shock value, but it’s certainly not the only one. The series just finished its fifth season, and it will be back for another season of death and destruction some time next year.
1. The Walking Dead
AMC’s The Walking Dead, based on the comic book series of the same name, is about an apocalyptic world taken over by zombies. Zombies have always been known for their violence, which the show gladly embraces – usually including at least one death (zombie or human) in every episode. This is a show about survival, which means the bloody and violent business of surviving is the star of the show. The violence is unrelenting because it has to be for the characters to survive in this world. While the zombie horde takes care of the show’s random violence needs, the ensemble cast also gets in on the action when they have to kill for their survival. The show’s sixth season will premiere October 11th, and AMC has ordered a companion series, Fear the Walking Dead, which will premier August this year.