Horror has always had a queer streak, going way back to queer director James Whale, whose 1930s Frankenstein movies practically defined horror. Even as censorship and homophobia tried to erase queerness, it has maintained its presence in the genre and flourished into something bigger.
From the funniest to the scariest of horror television, queerness has always found a way to thrive amidst the madness, no better shown than through some of the most popular LGBTQ television series of the 21st century.
Chucky (2021 – )
Based on the long line of cult films, the series creator returns to Chucky for a gloriously queer take on high school horror. Fans of the series have praised Chucky, a sequel to the most recent film Cult of Chucky, for replicating the original feel and having a heartfelt queer storyline to boot. The show includes series regulars like Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Alex Vincent, Billy Boyd, and Christine Elise, returning for another round with America’s favorite killer doll. The series takes place at a high school, putting a killer spin on the high school teen drama, titling itself a “coming-of-age story.”
American Horror Story (2011 – )
Ryan Murphy brought the anthology format to the golden age of television with American Horror Story. Each season takes a different set-up and puts its rotating cast of recurring actors through misery and back. Witches, ghosts, killer clowns, cults, and Lady Gaga as a vampire highlight just a few of the horrors viewers can expect. Each season changes drastically from the last, and over a decade, the show has made actors like Evan Peters, Emma Roberts, Sarah Paulson, and Billie Lourd household names. While the later seasons have spurned debate, the first three seasons show the series' best qualities.
Los Espookys (2019 – 2022)
The Chilean series about friends who start a business to scare people takes the supernatural, queerness, and horror to meld them into a hilarious, short-lived series. The Peabody-winning comedy series focuses on the comedy of this otherworldly horror show, where the strange and weird become entirely ordinary and commonplace. Saturday Night Live alums Julio Torres and Fred Armisen highlight a stunning cast in this all-Spanish series.
What We Do In The Shadows (2019 – 2023)
Easily one of the funniest and queerest series of the last decade, What We Do In The Shadows follows a group of Staten Island vampires on a quest to rule the world, which doesn’t go as planned. Vampires have always been funny and goofy, but Shadows mines the night dwellers' long history for some of the stupidest and gut-wrenchingly hilarious humor. Better yet, every new season becomes even queerer. Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, and Harvey Guillén star.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018 – 2020)
From the same universe as The CW’s Riverdale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes its witchy material to the max. The show doesn't feel much like a sitcom but a teen horror drama whose first season chronicles Sabrina Spellman’s struggle to sign her name in the Book of the Devil. Despite the darkness, the show features a beautiful amount of queerness along with the feel of a classic horror film.
Hannibal (2013 – 2015)
The queerness of this series may not be as overt as the others, but any fan will tell you Hannibal qualifies as one of the queerest shows of the past decade. A semi-prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal follows Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a detective tasked with finding a malicious serial killer with the help of his therapist, Dr. Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen). While true crime fans will undoubtedly find something to love, the horrific elements of the series shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
The Haunting of Hill House might be one of the best horror series ever. Mike Flanagan took Shirley Jackson’s iconic ghost story and brought it reeling to the present day through the Crain family, still traumatized from the haunting they experienced as children. Now grown adults, grief and Hill House bring them back together for a terrifying descent into the next life. What could’ve been a typical tale turned into a moving story of a family coming together.
Interview With The Vampire (2022 – )
Anne Rice’s works have made her an icon of the gothic horror community, no better shown than in Interview With The Vampire. The series takes the 90s films' implied queerness and amps it up to a ten and then some. Darkly beautiful and gloriously messy in its queerness, the violent staple of Anne Rice’s work has never looked better. The first season's success has spawned even more spin-offs of Rice's extensive bibliography, including Mayfair Witches and a secret series about the storied Talamasca organization.
Ryan Murphy’s stretch of Netflix productions moved to the mental hospital where Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest began her career. Sarah Paulson portrays the nurse with a violent, commanding will and a penchant for discovering her love for women. Regardless, the series takes the character and shows us her dark descent into cold terror.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)
Few shows hold as much weight in the horror community as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the teen supernatural dramedy about a young teen girl chosen as the only person in the world with the power to stop the forces of evil. With everpresent spookiness, the show’s later seasons become marked by Willow’s (Alyson Hanigan) journey as a lesbian, one of the first shown on major television. Even though the storyline appears in the series' latter half, it remains one of the most revolutionary.
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
Mike Flanagan returned to The Haunting series with a take on Henry James' The Turn of The Screw, bringing us to London with Dani (Victoria Pedretti), a nanny to two siblings who have begun to see ghosts. While almost all of Flanagan’s work features queer characters and themes, this series features one of the more heartfelt queer romances while showcasing the director's terrifying talents behind the camera.
Lovecraft Country (2020)
While HP Lovecraft’s work has become a stalwart part of horror culture since its publication, Lovecraft Country dared to right the record of the author’s influence. The series deals with the author’s racist inclinations as a white supremacist takes Lovecraft’s ideas and puts them through the wringer, horrifyingly exposing the racism of the 50s and now. Based on Matt Rife's novel of the same name, the one-season show follows two siblings on a road trip to find their missing father.
True Blood (2008 – 2014)
Based on a series of best-selling romance novels by Charlaine Harris, True Blood takes us to the swamp where mind-reading Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) meets handsome vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer) at her job as a waitress. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), a queer chef at her restaurant, has one of the series best storylines and some of the most iconic scenes in the show. Sexuality, blood, and everything that goes bump in the night become average for this thrilling series.
Set in Curon, Italy, a woman returns 17 years after the murder of her mother with her twins, even though the townspeople don’t want them to be there. A ghost story with a robust queer element and Italian scenery to match, Curon displays a thrilling descent into small-town horror.
Scream (2015 – 2019)
While the movies continue strong, the Scream franchise once barely held onto the public’s fascination with its MTV series of the same name. The anthology series began in a small Louisiana town filled with secrets before moving to Atlanta. All the staples of the horror series show up as Ghostface unearths all the horrible secrets that plague his victims.
Scream Queens (2015 – 2016) lgbtq television series
Ryan Murphy brought his two biggest hits at the time, American Horror Story and Glee, together in a darkly satirical take on the slasher genre. Set on a college campus plagued by serial killers, Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Keke Palmer, and Lea Michelle become just a few standouts in a cast of starse.