The 15 Weirdest TV Shows Of All Time
There’s a whole lot of weird out there in the world these days, and a surprising amount has made its way into mainstream media. Since there’s already a 15 Weirdest Movies Of All Time, a follow-up version of the list for the small screen just had to made. There’s quite a lot to go through, as well. Television has produced a lot of completely insane series through the years.
We’re looking for things like overall entertainment value, disturbing scenes, bizarre and enigmatic characters, and interesting plots in TV shows when we went about compiling this list. We’re not looking for strange shows that rely on a ton of gore, but rather shows that use shock and uncanniness to get its weird brand across.
There’s quite a bit of variety on this weird TV show compilation. From goofy comedies with an artistically bizarre flair to downright disturbing storytelling dramas, this list has something for everyone. None of these shows may be fun for the whole family, but they are fun for an uncomfortable night in.
15. TWIN PEAKS
There’s simply no way to put together a list of bizarre television shows without Mark Frost and David Lynch’s early nineties brainchild, Twin Peaks. This slow-burning serial drama was the perfect combination of ’90s aesthetics, campy melodrama, subtly weird dialogue, and oddly inspiring themes.
In Twin Peaks, a FBI Special Agent named Dale Cooper, one of the most lovable characters from a television show ever, is sent to investigate the presumed murder of a young woman named Laura Palmer. Palmer’s blue body had been found wrapped in plastic on the riverbank outside of the eponymous town of Twin Peaks. What ensues is his increasingly bizarre investigation into what happened to Laura, and a sobering look into how nobody is ever as innocent as they seem.
The series had a lot of loose ends that weren’t tied up when it was canceled after two seasons, so Lynch released the follow-up prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which shows the perspective of the enigmatic ghost Laura Palmer.
Twin Peaks will always be one of the best weirdo shows ever, and now that the long-awaited third season has wrapped filming, its return looks like it just might be an official reality.
14. THE TWILIGHT ZONE
This science fiction anthology series is the stuff of legend, and even now, 55 years after its release, just about everyone knows what it did for the television industry. It’s not often that older pieces of media can maintain such complete watchability in the modern world, but The Twilight Zone is still as addicting to watch as it was decades ago.
From William Shatner’s grandiose overacting on a plane to heartwarming not-so-scary stories that were still somewhat strange, this series deserves a spot on this list for its grade A writing and storytelling. There’s nothing quite as interesting as watching ’50s and ’60s era ideas of what the future would be like today. If anything, The Twilight Zone is a strange, sometimes scary walk through the past and a look into what vintage cinema was like.
Rod Serling’s gem also featured a ton of celebrity appearances, which made the show even more enjoyable. George Takei, Robert Redford, Carol Burnett, and Dennis Hopper are just a few of the big names who appeared in the series. Even the somewhat nameless actors and actresses were at the very least engaging, something you can’t always find in a television show.
13. THE OUTER LIMITS
The Outer Limits was The Twilight Zone’s little cousin that annoyed the crap out of him because the little jerk was constantly trying to imitate everything he did. Criticisms aside, this series did feature a few episodes that didn’t feel like a cookie-cutter imitation of The Twilight Zone and were actually immensely entertaining.
Despite being incredibly similar to the previous entry on our list, The Outer Limits deserves a spot on this list for the episode themes that The Twilight Zone didn’t want to tackle. The special effects makeup and handmade props on this show were insane (and actually really terrifying at time). Watch the episode “The Zanti Misfits” for a taste.
If you missed The Outer Limits bandwagon at the height of the show’s popularity along with The Twilight Zone in the ’60s and ’70s, you should definitely check out the show. Don’t worry, we promise there is nothing wrong with your television set.
12. TIM AND ERIC AWESOME SHOW GREAT JOB!
Anything that comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim do together is usually appealing to very specific people. You either love their work, or you absolutely hate it. Translation: you’re either completely and utterly insane or you’re a well-rounded member of society (if perhaps a bit on the boring side).
Their sketch comedy series Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! is an Adult Swim late-night masterpiece of weirdness that mixes satirical anti-humor and cringe comedy with surreal public-access television goodness. The supporting cast’s combination of famous celebrities (such as Jeff Goldblum, Zach Galifianakis, Fred Armisen, and Ben Stiller) and random Los Angeles Craigslist actors is a delightful thing to witness. The show also featured a bizarre mix of celebrity impersonators, adult film actors, and impressionists. The show also birthed Steve Brule, and we have Tim and Eric to thank for it.
This series deserves a spot on this list because it’s downright hilarious and uncomfortable and strange. What’s not to love about these two? Nobody does funny-weird quite like Tim and Eric.
11. MY STRANGE ADDICTION
This is the only reality TV series on this list, but it’s more than earned it’s place amongst the weirdest of the weird. While many episodes of this are pretty sad and disheartening, there are also some episodes that are so strange and disturbing that they make us feel like some weird alternate reality has taken over our world.
My Strange Addiction is a TLC documentary reality series that explores the lives of different people from all walks of life that are dealing with addictions that transcend traditional drugs. Some of the darker episodes feature quite disturbing addictions, including a woman who was addicted to eating the ash remains of her dead husband and the girl who was addicted to eating dirty diapers. The downright strange episodes feature borderline terrifying addictions, like the very cis straight elderly man who was addicted to wearing head-to-toe rubber woman suits, or the young man who’s closed himself off from society to pursue relationships with blow-up pool toys. There are also some more light-hearted episodes that show addictions that aren’t too terrible, like the lady who was addicted to eating cheesy potatoes. That’s not an addiction, pal, that’s just being a human person.
10. THE MIGHTY BOOSH
This British comedy series that may or may not finally get a movie is the perfect amount of unique, artistic, funny, and strange. Comedians Julian Barrett and Noel Fielding are the comedy troupe behind BBC’s The Mighty Boosh, a show that evolved from live stage productions and a radio series featuring characters that the duo created.
The first season introduced the two, who go by Howard Moon and Vince Noir on the show, as they made ends meet by working at their local zoo. Their boss is a crazy American man named Bob Fossil, played by Rich Fulcher, who portrays various different characters throughout the series. The last two seasons follow the pair at their job in a thrift shop run by a short alien shaman named Naboo and his gorilla familiar Bollo, and they’re exactly as bizarre as that sounds.
This show has no shortage of memorable characters and hilariously quotable moments. Not only is The Mighty Boosha unique brand of comedy, but it is also its very own brand of straight-up weird.
9. OFF THE AIR
Avid Adult Swim fans first saw Off The Air by accident on New Years Day 2011 at four o’clock in the morning. 4 AM is one of those sleepy, strange hours where reality seems to change a little bit no matter who you are, so suddenly stumbling upon the LSD trip that is Off The Air in a graveyard slot without any context of what it was was something memorable, indeed.
Off The Air is an anthology series created by Dave Hughes of MTV Animation fame. The show usually follows a theme for each episode, but it contains no explanation or narration, making the showcase of bizarre cartoons, stock footage, viral videos, PSAs, public access-style sketches, psychedelic imagery, and music all the more surreal to experience. There’s little pause between clips in each episode.
The show has since become a cult phenomenon, and thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Most of Off The Air’s episodes are available at Adult Swim’s website, so feel free to catch up with what has to be one of the craziest shows currently on the air.
This avante-garde horror miniseries was another strange creation from King of Weird David Lynch, who actually refers to the series as a sitcom.
In Rabbits, three anthropomorphic rabbits (one of which is actually Naomi Watts in a rabbit costume) exist in a living room and have bizarrely disjointed non sequitur conversations with each other while laugh tracks play at seemingly random moments throughout each episode. The tagline makes Rabbits even more mysterious: “In a nameless city deluged by a continuous rain… three rabbits live with a fearful mystery.“
The series is often praised for its use of lighting (the entire series was filmed in Lynch’s backyard at night) and its unsettling atmosphere. Rabbits was also used in a psychological experiment in 2013 to test the effects of acetaminophen on existential crisis and the effects of surrealist art. All you need is a four minute clip to get the gist of why Rabbits is on this list. Watch the whole series if you get a chance.
7. EERIE, INDIANA
Eerie, Indiana comes off as equal parts a spooky Goosebumps series spinoff and something straight out of a David Lynch film. This NBC childrens show from the early ’90s is actually neither, but it is certainly strange enough to deserve a spot on this list.
In Eerie, Indiana, a teen named Marshall moves with his family to the small town of Eerie. Every citizen of the town has something off about them, sans Marshall’s new friend Simon. The two face strange and unsettling events that include situations derived from real urban legends and doppelgängers. The show seemed just a little too creepy for its time, especially as a kid’s show. What normal childrens series opens with “To whom it may concern: If you’re reading this document, it means I’m either dead or disappeared under mysterious circumstances”?
While Eerie, Indiana may not be terrifyingly bizarre enough to scare the crap out of an adult, watching the series as a child in the ’90s was borderline traumatizing.
If Eerie, Indiana was too creepy for children, then this BBC children’s show from the ’80s should have been outright banned.
Jigsaw was for the most part a cute educational show for children that focused on fun puzzle solving games and kid-oriented humor. Much of the show was based on audience interaction, similar to Dora the Explorer. However, there was one character from Jigsaw that could drive terror through the hearts of even the bravest adults.
Mr. Noseybonk, played by mime artist Adrian Hedley, sported a dinner suit and a flat-out terrifying humanoid mask, complete with a not-so-subtle phallic-shaped nose. Noseybonk never spoke, which only added to his deeply unsettling nature. Many of his scenes were weirdly subtly sexual, including this gem of a scene that will sell anyone on Noseybonk’s creepiness.
The character has since gained an Internet cult following, and his image and name have been used in various creepypastas and online horror stories. While the show’s creators probably had good intentions behind the character, they ended up creating some serious nightmare fuel.
This dark sketch comedy from 2000 in Britian was truly something to behold, yet somehow it has become forgotten.
An avante-garde take on the BBC Radio 1 show Blue Jam, this series paired bizarrely upsetting comedy sketches with a creepy ambient soundtrack. Audio clips from Blue Jam were often used on the show as actors would mouth along with the clips’ dialogue. The entire show had this insidious, quiet sort of unsettling terror that made the show all the more addicting to watch. The word “jam” would never be said normally in the show either, and was often screamed, pronounced incorrectly, or was used alongside some sort of distorted sound effect.
The show didn’t do too well in Britain, with many viewers calling it sick, problematic, and self indulgent. While those terms may not be far from the truth for Jam, it remains one of the most radical television programs to be aired in a long time.
4. COP ROCK
It seems like the ’80s and ’90s were the decades of Weird As Hell Television, and this 1990 ABC musical police drama series is simply further proof of that fact.
Cop Rock didn’t need to be a musical and didn’t need to be drama, and yet it was all these things and more. The show is on hundreds of “Worst of” TV lists and sat at #8 on TV Guide’s 2002 List of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time. However, it is also known as the single most bizarre small screen musical to ever air on television.
Cop Rock followed the LAPD on their daily routine and through different cases, similar to Law and Order. That is, ifLaw and Order had randomly mixed-in musical numbers and choreography throughout each episode’s storylines. The show was a total critical and commercial failure, and was cancelled by ABC after only eleven episodes. Who would have known that combining musical theater with police drama could possibly bomb? Pretty much everyone? Oh, okay.
Cop Rock has since gained itself a cult following, prompting syndicated airings on VH1 and A&E throughout the past few decades.
3. PEPPERMINT PARK
Peppermint Park, like many of the children’s shows on this list, had good intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Peppermint Park drove straight from hell right into VHS players in the homes of ’90s kids.
This educational home video series had a cast of puppets who taught children different educational subjects including math, spelling, colors, and animals. These lessons often involved songs and drawn-out lectures, which many considered a lame ripoff of Sesame Street.
Despite the show’s boring premise, there’s a reason Peppermint Park is on the list. It only takes watching a clip of the show to understand just how bizarre this thing was. The appearance of the show’s puppets ventured right into uncanny valley territory, and the voice acting was incredibly unsettling.
Only random clips of the show exist today, most of which you can track down on YouTube. It’s comforting to know that this VHS home video series is officially lost and can never, ever come back.
2. DARK SHADOWS
It’s a safe bet that the majority of the younger generation only knows of Dark Shadows from Tim Burton’s 2012 film adaptation starring Johnny Depp. Of course, the film was based on the gothic soap opera series of the same name that aired on ABC during the late ’60s.
Dark Shadows was like an even weirder Addams Family, and often featured characters that included ghosts, zombies, werewolves, time travelers, and witches. The show’s small cast of actors played a handful of different characters each. To make things even stranger, the series was apparently based on an ominous dream that show creator Dan Curtis had in 1965, one that we’ll happily go the rest of our lives without hearing about.
Dark Shadows wasn’t too well-received by critics early on, with some claiming the show was too slow burning and had a cast of nobody actors. However, it soon became one of the biggest cult series to ever exist in addition to its designation as one of the weirdest television shows to ever air. Dark Shadows was truly ahead of its time.
1. TALES FROM THE CRYPT
That ugly decomposing mug is recognizable to just about anyone. Tales from the Crypt was a horror anthology television series that lasted through most of the ’90s and gave us some serious nightmare fuel. And not just because of the Crypt Keeper.
The show did campy and cheesy horror exactly the way that it should be. The show was not too self-involved, and never seemed to take itself too seriously. It was the perfect combination of campiness and unsettling horror.
Tales from the Crypt was considered a controversial series for its visceral use of graphic violence, profanity, nudity, and sex acts. HBO picked up the series and let it be as controversial as it wanted to be. Even though it has since been edited for basic cable broadcasting, there really is nothing like the nasty original.
Tales from the Crypt deserves a spot on this list because of its gruesomely entertaining nature and a handful of storylines that were as unique as they were disturbing. And now that the reboot series has been given the official green light by the folks over at TNT, the campy frights are far from over.