The best supernatural shows of all time?

Last updated 09:21 15/08/2012

The first (and only, so far) season of The Fades finished last night on UKTV, marking the end of one of the best supernatural drama shows to emerge from Britain in the past few years - a super-stylish six episodes that proved a fresh twist on the good-vs-evil formula, while boasting remarkable visual effects and a solid performance from lead Iain de Caestecker.

20120815But though it was good, The Fades wasn't my favourite supernatural drama show ever; for whatever reason, Britain has done a great job blending science-fiction and fantasy (the Davies/Moffat era Doctor Who, Torchwood and Primeval are great recent examples) and Misfits is a great jaunt into superhero territory, but the Brits just haven't had the same success with supernatural-themed drama shows.

The result is that, as I put together a list of my favourite supernatural-themed shows of all time, it turned out my list was overwhelmingly American. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that, despite Britain's general dominance in the quality television stakes, supernatural drama is one genre of television in which America easily outperforms Britain.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying this is my list - seven of my favourite supernatural drama shows of all time. I'd love you to share your favourites in the comments section below, and share your thoughts on The Fades (if you saw it). In no particular order ...

Dead Like Me (2003-2004, plus a movie in 2009)
I'm a big fan of quirk when it comes to these kinds of shows, and Dead Like Me had quirk to spare: Ellen Muth plays George, a troubled teen girl killed by a toilet seat falling from space station MIR, who, upon death, finds that she is now a grim repear, charged with collecting the souls of people who die in a series of zany accidents. It was fun, it was unique, and it was all over far too quickly.

Carnivale (2003-2005)
Set in mid-1930s America and produced by HBO, Carnivale followed two separate people: Ben (Nick Stahl), a young man who joins a travelling circus, and Brother Justin (Clancy Brown), a preacher looking to establish his own church. An old-school religious battle of good and evil, Carnivale is probably the most gorgeous show on this list, with an old-timey style that was like nothing else on TV at the time.

Being Human UK (2009-present)
It seems the punchline to some joke ("So, a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf are sharing this flat in Bristol ...") but it's actually a hilarious take on the supernatural genre, kind of like Misfits for the horror crowd. Alas, if you're looking it up, don't settle for the second-rate American adaptation.

Lost (2004-2010)
Arguably my favourite television show of all time. I was unsure about including it on this list since it isn't really supernatural in the traditional sense. But when you think about it, Lost ticks most of the boxes to fit the supernatural genre: ghosts, monsters, mystery, elements of horror, the presence of all-powerful deities, the forces of good doing battle against evil ... just don't ask me about that finale. I'm still not ready to talk about it.

Supernatural (2005-present)
The brothers Winchester could crack this list purely for longevity - Supernatural is in its seventh season on TV2 and seems likely to stretch out to 10 seasons total, a remarkable feat for a show in such a niche genre - but its also one of the cleverest shows on the list, too, seamlessly working in new characters, monsters and an endless supply of pop culture references.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
The world's first real taste of Joss Whedon, Buffy has cracked all-time lists by the likes of TV Guide, Empire and Time, and for good reason: it is impeccably written, features relatable characters, and probably did more for gender equality on television than any other show in existence. It also influenced nearly every supernatural show created since, including all the other entries on this list (except maybe Carnivale). Bravo, Mr Whedon!

Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)
One of the few supernatural shows to achieve Emmy Awards success, Daisies followed Ned (Lee Pace), a pie-maker who can resurrect the dead with a single touch, who uses his powers to help private detective Emerson (Chi McBride) solve murders. Part supernatural-fantasy, part crime-procedural, all entertainment.

What are your favourite supernatural drama shows? And did you watch/enjoy The Fades?

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48 comments
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kebabette   #1   09:30 am Aug 15 2012

Sapphire and Steel. No question. David McCallum and Joanna Lumley are operatives in time. The stories range from ghostlu railway station, to 1930s murder mystery to a futuristic house haunted by animal slaughter. Perfection. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapphire_%26_Steel

ben   #2   09:36 am Aug 15 2012

Is Fringe considered supernatural??? I vote for that....

bOb   #3   09:38 am Aug 15 2012

You have Supernatural, which is surely a budget version of X-files, but you dont have X-files? Also thought you would have had Fringe.

J Smith   #4   09:41 am Aug 15 2012

A great list. Buffy and Dead Like Me are two of my favourite shows.

I think the reason that the US does better than the Brits (although I loved Torchwood) is the format of their seasons. Whereas it can be a handicap for sitcoms, 22 episodes meaning recycled jokes and stories that drag on too long, for a supernatural drama the long season gives the creator time to build a longer storyline while having time to create strong one off episodes. Think Buffy's Hush or 'Once More with Feeling'. A 12 episode season like in the UK leaves less time for these entertaining diversions.

Lucy   #5   09:47 am Aug 15 2012

Charmed! very girly and so forth but a great watch! True Blood? hmmm hot vamps...

bruce   #6   10:01 am Aug 15 2012

I very much enjoyed The Fades. I believe it competed for funding for a second season against Being Human and lost out, which is a real shame as I thought it was the better show.

Other supernatural classics: The original Randall and Hopkirk; can I include Fringe and True Blood? My pop corn offering is Warehouse 13.

Craig Ranapia   #7   10:08 am Aug 15 2012

" Alas, if you're looking it up, don't settle for the second-rate American adaptation."

Think we're going to have to agree to disagree there (again!) I'd say the American 'Being Human' is that rarity - an Yank-i-fication of a British show that isn't a total embarrassment. More 'Shameless' than 'Skins', as it were.

ljlj   #8   10:16 am Aug 15 2012

Buffy, the spinoff (and woefully underrated) Angel, and Dead Like Me were all brilliant shows that I loved dearly. I have a huge soft spot for Supernatural, more for the comedy than anything, which is normally due to Ben Edlund's scripts who was a whedonverse writer. I know way more about this that is healthy.

I thought Being Human UK's first couple of seasons were great tv, but then it kind of jumped the shark - I may have to reconsider that after by chance coming across a later episode that had Mark Gattis in it, so maybe it found it's way again. I don't hate the US take on it, but it is a pale version. They knock so many of the edges off that it ends up overly manufactured and bland.

Trevor   #9   10:21 am Aug 15 2012

It's Charmed for me as well.....FANTASTIC show :)

Sin   #10   10:23 am Aug 15 2012

I must be a supernatural fan, as I watched all of those shows, except for Supernatural (ironic?). Buffy is hands-down one of the best shows ever. And Angel, the spin-off, was a terrific show that I don't think gets enough credit due to the Buffy shadow.

But I love Dr Who (am re-watching the season 1 reboot with Christopher Eccleston right now), Torchwood, and The Fades. Own first three seasons of Being Human (and I've heard the American version is pretty good).

I enjoyed the first season of True Blood, but it started to forsake character for kooky plot twists after that, so I gave it up.

And a guilty pleasure? Can't beat The Vampire Diaries.


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