My son loves scary stories. At age eight, we hesitantly introduced him to my favorite childhood scary books – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. He was hooked! The two sequels were quickly added to the rotation…then we tapped out the library.
Around this time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was turned into a movie.
And there he is.
Right there on the cover.
If you know, you know. But, if you don’t, let me tell you – Harold is hands-down the scariest story in all three books. It hits all the creep and is definitely the one to skip if some of the more banal stories scare your little one. My son begged to watch it. That was our line. Hard no.
However, there are plenty of great child-friendly mildly scary shows and movies that are perfect for the younger kid’s age group but when your kiddo is ready to upgrade, these shows are perfect for older kids and tweens. Let us know in the comments which your kids like or if you have another great one to include!
Our list is sorted by TV Parental Rating Guidelines. For those that are unrated we placed them as a best guess.
Slightly Scary Shows for Kids
Scary Shows for All Children TV-Y
Based on a line of toys by the same name. It ran for two seasons and followed Chris Carter, a kid working in a magic shop. During a rare planetary alignment his ‘Magic Maker’ device was embued with the power to create strange creatures.
Where to Watch: Series currently unavailable. Miscellaneous episodes can be found on YouTube.
Scary Shows for Older Children TV-Y7
Twins, Dipper and Mabel, are off to spend the summer with Grunkle (Great Uncle) Stan who runs a tourist trap called The Mystery Shack. However, the longer they spend in the town of Gravity Falls the more they realize something is not as it seems.
The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy
A fairly un-scary animated adventure, but one of the main characters is the Grim Reapaer – so there is definitely a bit of a creep factor. He has the unfortunate luck to lose a limbo contest and has to head to the suburbs with Billy and Mandy.
Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids
A British production based on a popular series of books where horrible children get their comeuppance in often horrible and gruesome manners. Though unrated in the US it is probably a good fit for 7+.
The Nightmare Room
Only one 13 episode season of the R.L. Stine show (based on a like-named book series) were produced. The premise is an anthology-style show where the fears that live on the edge of your imagination come to life. Eight episodes were released on two DVDs. It is not currently available to stream.
Scary Shows for a General Audience TV-G
House of Anubis
A little soapy the story revolves around an American girl, Nina enrolling at an elite boarding school. On the day of her arrival another student goes missing. Strange things are happening and the school’s attic may be haunted but the students band together to solve the mystery of the disappearance of one of their friends.
Scary Shows Parental Guidance Suggested TV-PG
Are You Afraid of The Dark: Curse of the Shadows
Picking up from the 2019 reboot, the current iteration introduces and all new group of kids as members of the Midnight Society. And, it launches a new mysterious creature, The Shadowman.
R.L. Stine’s wildly popular book series, of the same name comes to life in four seasons of creeps and scares! Told anthology-style each scary episodes can stand alone as it explores all the things that go bump in the night.
The Secret of Sulphur Springs
A young boy and his family move to a dilapidated hotel in a small town. The town believes the hotel to be haunted. Along with a new friend they delve into the 30 year old mystery of the hotel and a missing girl.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The series follows the newly orphaned Baudelaire children as they try to uncover the mystery of their parents’ deaths and escape the clutches of the evil Count Olaf.
Where to Watch: Find it
Fiona “Fi” has a webiste, “So Weird,” where she posts the mysterious and supernatural events she encounters. All this while traveling the country with her rock-star mom and investigating her father’s death.
Where to Watch: Find it
Truth or Scare
Documentary style show hosted by Michell Trachtenberg, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Each episode relates a famous story of hauntings or paranormal activity.
Where to Watch: Currently unavailable – several episodes can be viewed on YouTube
A series of unrelated stories of the macabre, mysterious, and downright scary.
Next Level Scary Shows
Ready to step up the scary? These are rated for older kids for a variety of reasons from scare to romance, to adult themes, to more realistic monsters and violence. Viewer discretion is definitely advised for the following or you may consider watching together as a family.