The 20 best horror TV shows to watch with the lights on

It may have taken a while, but the horror genre has finally worked its way up to the top of the TV food chain. Although critics claimed you could never sustain the necessary suspense, tension and plot over multi-episode arcs, the following TV shows have proven just how wrong they were. From American Horror Story and The Strain, to more true-to-life horrors like The Returned and Luther, weve picked the top shows that make us scream, jump and flinch in equal measure.

Now, if your biggest horror is spoilers, be warned, there are plenty of them here. In fact, wed recommend hiding behind a pillow fast. Still willing to keep your eyes open? Well, heres our rundown of the spookiest shows from the past, present and soon-to-be-revived (yep, were looking at you Twin Peaks and The X-Files).

20. Scream Queens

The show: Scream Queens is relatively new to TV with only a handful of episodes under its belt, but the sorority slasher show is already grabbing our attention. Its created by the team behind Glee and American Horror Story, and is a weirdly perfect combination of the two (don't worry though, theres no singing).

Why we love it: Emma Roberts is brilliant as the bitchy Chanel who runs her sorority house with an iron fist and a murderous flair. Its grizzly in places too, with death by lawnmower and deep fat fryer checked off in the first couple of episodes. Theres also heaps of satire, like when a sorority girl updates her Twitter to say she is being murdered rather than scream for help. That's got to be the 2015 equivalent of running up the stairs instead of out the front door.

19. Utopia

The show: This Channel 4 conspiracy drama was right up our street when it aired in 2013 - 2014, made even better by the fact it received hundreds of complaints for its violent content. The plot centres around a group of people in possession of a manuscript sequel of a cult graphic novel called The Utopia Experiments, which hides a multitude of secrets. They are being hunted by The Network, an organisation they must out-run to survive. Excuse us while we go and re-watch the series from the beginning

Why we love it: What made the show so terrifying was its real-to-life scenarios, including a particularly awful primary school shooting scene in season two. Torture expert Lee was a chilling part of season one, and the way Wilson developed from cyber geek to ruthless, eye-patch wearing killer was a brilliant turn of events in season two. Wed happily petition Channel 4 for a third series.

18. Supernatural

The show: Now in its 11th series (yes, really), Supernatural has become one of those shows thats passed its prime, but is still keeping us coming back for more. The show centres on ghosts, vampires, angels, demons and basically anything that goes bump in the night, which makes it ripe for horror moments. These snippets of brilliance may be few and far between nowadays, but the next time something pops up you can guarantee it's going to be great.

Why we love it: Creepy kids and murderous clowns always win out, which is what made S2.02 and S3.02 such highlights. But the main thing we love about Supernatural is its two leads, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, who have managed to make the Winchester brothers interesting for a decade. Nice work chaps.

17. Black Mirror

The show: Charlie Brookers drama series about the perils of the modern world had us all looking at our iPhones differently. Each of the six self-contained stories produced to date managed to get under the skin of our society, showing us things that could happen in the future. If thats not scary, we dont know what is.

Why we love it: Theres something eerie and chilling about Black Mirror rather than scary in the traditional sense. "15 Million Merits" and "The Entire History of You" were particularly on-point, but then we couldn't stop talking about "Be Right Back" in season two. Our highlight though has to be "White Bear", where a woman wakes up, has no idea who she is, but knows shes being stalked by people armed with camera phones. Weird.

16. Luther

The show: DCI John Luther, also known as Idris Elba, is a hardcore cop in this British crime drama. Why is it in our horror shows list you might ask? Well, if you saw season three episode one, youll appreciate why we checked under our beds and refused to go into the attic for the foreseeable future. Luther has also made us look at blenders in a whole new way. Finger smoothie, anyone?

Why we love it: Luthers mixed-up relationship with Ruth Wilsons Alice Morgan makes for entertaining viewing, but its the real-to-life crimes that keep us gripped. Anyone who remembers the second season where masked twins go on a killing rampage around London offices will know just how good this show can be. Now that the fourth season is on the way, weve been told to expect Luthers most chilling adversary yet we dont know whether to be spooked or excited!

15. Scream

The show: MTVs new horror drama is based on the original Scream story, but its been given a contemporary update thanks to a fresh batch of acting newcomers. The plot centres on a cyber-bulling incident that goes viral, which in turn causes a brutal murder. The horror has everyone reminiscing about the towns dangerous past and, of course, theres loads of new jumpy moments to give you an adrenaline spike.

Why we love it: When this show was first announced we admit we had our doubts. Scream is such an iconic slasher franchise and we felt a teeny tiny bit protective over it. Turns out the TV adaptation was worth the wait, especially episode three "Wanna Play a Game?", which featured some cringe-inducing murders. Plus, being able to binge watch the complete first season on Netflix is a definite bonus.

14. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The show: Wed be worried about you if you didnt know the basic plot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so were going to overlook that. Some of the shows best bits came from the angsty teenage drama, but there were some brilliant horror elements too, especially in the season four episode "Hush", which will go down in history as one of the greatest hours of TV EVER.

Why we love it: "Hush" proved once and for all that horror is only as good as its music (and that floating Gentlemen are some of the most hideous baddies around). Xander having his eyes gouged out by Caleb was equally gross in season seven, while everything to do with Joyces death in season five had us shivering. Season one, episode 10 "Nightmares" also used the horror clown to great effect. Well be watching reruns for the rest of time.

13. Twin Peaks

The show: David Lynch and Mark Frost succeeded in producing a series that was truly ahead of its time in the 1990s, especially in terms of building tension over multiple episodes. Its pilot episode was watched by a staggering 34.6 million people in the US, but its second season was plagued with problems and the show ended in 1991. Thank goodness David Lynch is back to create a third series.

Why we love it: From the moment we are introduced to Frank Silva as BOB, we know something weird is going down, especially considering hes crouched behind Laura Palmers bed ready to pounce! The vision sequence in episode three is one of Twin Peaks most iconic moments - largely driving the narrative for the next dozen episodes and lets just say it doesnt contain bunnies and rainbows. Well forgive you for jumping on YouTube right now

12. The Returned

The show: You just know the combination of crime, mystery and a dark Alpine village are a recipe for chills, and The Returned is no exception. The simple plot of dead people coming back to life as if nothing has happened is as clever as it is simple, proving that sometimes the best horror TV shows are understated.

Why we love it: When teenage bus crash victim Camille walks back into her family home, now four years younger than her twin sister, its impossible not to get goosebumps. Theres also the little fact of serial killer Serge coming back from the dead. This series has been compared to Twin Peaks and its easy to see why theyve both harnessed the power of tension and used it to create something gripping. Season two has just kicked off, so if there was ever a good time to catch-up, its now.