The Best Urban Fantasy TV Shows Ever [UPDATED 2018]

urban fantasy

Urban fantasy isn’t just a literary genre; it’s also a TV genre, even if it isn’t necessarily referred to as such by many people in TV Land.

Urban fantasy shows have been around for quite a while now, starting with the likes of the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits, both of which were more sci-fi than anything else but still had some urban fantasy elements to them.

The first real urban fantasy show that I remember watching was Night Stalker, about a private detective in a big city who investigated various supernatural goings on. Then in the nineties there were shows like Friday the 13th (nothing to do with the Jason movies), which was an early precursor to Supernatural.

The urban fantasy genre didn’t really take of, though, until about ten years ago when a slew of new shows came along that featured supernatural characters and weird goings on in a largely urban setting.

Writers like to think of themselves as literary types who get most of their inspiration from books, but with so much great TV and cinema around these days, it’s hard not to be influenced by it. I for one am greatly inspired and influenced by a lot of TV shows and movies in the urban fantasy genre, which is why I decided to compile this list.

The list isn’t in any order, as all the shows mentioned are great in their own right.

 

1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

urban fantasy

Although I wasn’t a huge fan of this show, I did watch the first few seasons and I did enjoy it, mainly because I was a big horror/dark fantasy fan and there just wasn’t any TV shows around at the time in those genres, so Buffy was a welcome breath of fresh air.

The main reason I mention it here is because I credit Buffy with paving the way for all the supernatural themed shows that came after.

In many ways, Joss Whedon’s urban fantasy hit defines the genre, featuring as it did a young, female kick ass heroine, loads of action, supernatural characters and references to the occult, not to mention the obligatory romance (although paranormal romance is its own genre now, at least in books).

So Buffy goes at the top of the list for breaking new ground and allowing other shows like Angel and Charmed to follow soon after.

 

 2. Supernatural

urban fantasy tv

Although I said this list wasn’t in order, Supernatural will always be at the top of my list for best urban fantasy show. Featuring the unstoppable Winchester brothers, Supernatural took the themes laid out in shows like Buffy and made them darker and more appealing to an adult audience.

The show built its reputation on featuring angels and demons and the classic good versus evil story lines which now feature heavily in most of the urban fantasy literature out these days, not least my own novel series.

Supernatural is still going strong even after ten seasons and long may it continue.

 

 3. True Blood

urban fantasy

We can’t mention urban fantasy shows without mentioning True Blood. This show features every UF trope you can think off, from vampires to werewolves to fairies and everything in between.

What sets the show apart from a lot of the other UF shows is the fact that it’s aimed squarely at a mature, adult audience. It doesn’t hold back with the bad language and sex scenes; neither does it shy away from violence. It was the unflinching nature of True Blood that made it work for me and it was a welcome change from the plethora of teen shows around at the time.

True Blood has finished now, having gone as far as it could I think. You can still read the books on which it was based though.

 

4. Sleepy Hollow

urban fantasy

I hated the original film as it was made by Tim Burton, one of the most overrated filmmakers ever (Edward Scissorhands notwithstanding, but the success of that movie was more down to Johnny Depp’s performance).

Thankfully the new TV show is nothing like the movie. Based around a familiar premise of two characters hunting monsters and trying to stop the supernatural fiends from unleashing evil everywhere, the show is fresh enough and well written enough to make it stand out.

I love the main actors also, especially David Giuntoli who does a great job of playing the stranger in a strange land, which makes for lots of humorous asides as he tries to understand the new world he finds himself in.

 

5. Teen Wolf

urban fantasy

Yes of course I was a massive fan of the Michael J. Fox movie back in the 80’s, but Teen Wolf the series is nothing like the movie of the same name. Thank god!

I had high hopes for this show when it first started and I was glad when it didn’t disappoint. Great story lines and great acting (especially from Dylan O’Brien who now stars in The Maze Runner) make this show unmissable for UF fans. A lot of money is thrown at it as well, which shows in the high production values. My only gripe is the obligatory teen romance scenes, which just annoy me because I’m forty years old and not a teen anymore (thank god!). Thankfully, the suitably dark story lines and supernatural action more than make up for this.

 

6. Hemlock Grove

urban fantasy

I love this show, partly because it is so off beat, and partly because it manages to put across the usual UF tropes in a really original way. Again, vampires, werewolf’s and other supernatural characters feature heavily, but they are done differently enough to make the show stand out from all the other UF TV shows. The last season especially was really weird and different, making this show one of my favorites. It’s based on the book of the same name by Brian McGreevy, which is also worth checking out.

 

7. Grimm

urban fantasy shows

It took me two attempts to get into this show but I’m glad I stuck with it. Grimm is about a cop who sees monsters…and then kills them, because he’s a Grimm and that’s what he does. He’s helped by his best friend, who is also…a monster. Grimm doesn’t have the same wide appeal as the previous shows but fans of UF will love it.

 

8. Penny Dreadful

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I loved this show as it was different to much of the UF fair that came out of the US. Penny Dreadful is a British show that is set in Victorian times and features a lot of familiar characters from that era, such as Victor Frankenstein and his monster and even Dorian Grey, along with a whole slew of other supernatural creatures.

What really set this show apart for me is not only how well made it is, but also the quality of the acting on offer, especially from Eva Green, who is simply spellbinding in this show. It also rather surprisingly features one time movie heart throb, Josh Hartnett. Can’t wait for season two.

 

9. American Horror Story: Coven

urban fantasy

I may be veering away from the urban fantasy genre slightly when I mention American Horror Story because as the title suggests it is mostly set within the horror genre. Coven however featured a storyline about witches and in that sense it was more UF than the other seasons, and also the best by far. Dark as hell but still with a twist of humor, Coven featured a fantastic storyline and even better acting performances from all concerned.

 

10. Lost Girl

urban fantasy

It took me a while to get into this show, mainly because I thought it was aimed more towards a female audience, which it is. None the less, I ended up hooked on it. Lost Girl features the Fae, a race of supernatural’s who of course are hanging out in the big city. The lead performances are all excellent, especially from Anna Silk who plays the lead succubus really well, and also from Ksenia Solo who injects her sarcastic wit into the show. New season has just begun.

 

11. Being Human

urban fantasy

Being Human is a show about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost all sharing the same house and trying to lead “normal” lives, which of course, never happens.

I loved the original British version of the show as it focused more on characterization and drama rather than big story lines. The American version that followed maintained the same feel and is almost identical to the original in every way—except for the accents of course.

Being Human is down to earth urban fantasy and highly recommended.

 

12. Salem

urban fantasy horror

As you might have guessed from the title, Salem is about witches and is set back in the 1800’s when the idea of witches reached an hysterical peak, most famously in the town of Salem. The show isn’t a history lesson by any means and does a fine job of weaving together witchcraft, horror and small town paranoia. It’s what you would call deliciously dark and features an amazingly powerful performance from Stephen Lang as Increase Mather, the puritanical witch hunter. Roll on season two.

 

13. Constantine

urban fantasy

Constantine is the new kid on the block as far as urban fantasy shows goes, but it certainly ticks all the boxes for what constitutes a UF show, maybe more so than a lot of the others on this list.

Fans of the Hell Blazer comic series will be well aware of John Constantine already, but for those that don’t know he is the main character in this show, a self-proclaimed “master of the dark arts” who helps people with their supernatural problems whilst also trying to deal with his own at the same time. The show features the usual angels and demons, but they are well enough drawn to set them apart from those in the other shows.

Matt Ryan plays the character of Constantine very well, managing to bring some of the humor from the original comics to the screen. It took a few episodes to find its stride, but when it did it became really good and a new favorite of mine.

[Update: The show was shamefully cancelled, only to return as a short animated series. Constantine himself pops up in a couple of other shows such as Arrow, but for me, it isn’t the same.]

14. Lucifer

urban fantasy tv shows

Lucifer had a good run of it before it was cancelled. Based on the comics written by Neil Gaiman amongst others, the premise is basically Lucifer with a day job, in this case playing detective while also dealing with his own family problems. Lucifer himself is superbly played by Tom Ellis, striking just the right balance (most of the time) between dark and scary, and funny and camp. The show is fairly light-hearted, but can often veer into darker territory, which for me is when the show was really good. With almost every episode, I found myself questioning why I was watching such cheesy drivel, but then after ten minutes I’d be totally engrossed. By the end of each episode, I’d be gagging for more.

15. Preacher

urban fantasy tv shows

Another show based of a popular if somewhat cultish comic series written by Gareth Ellis. The show revolves around a preacher, a vampire and a kickass girl, usually fighting for their lives when they aren’t winding each other up. The series took a while to find its feet, but once it did, it started to get interesting, if a little too off the wall at times. It doesn’t flinch from violence and isn’t afraid to be dark and repulsive. It’s also got a sense of humor and overall, is quite uncompromising in its own way, a trait that I will always applaud in any show. 

16. Impulse

urban fantasy tv shows

I have to admit to loving this show. Before I sat down and watched it, I was expecting a lame teen drama sort of thing, but it turned out to be anything but. Yes, there is teen drama, but it serves the story and is handled in a very adult way. Overall, I like how gritty the show was, and how well acted it was also. Maddie Hasson, who I remember watching in forgotten classic The Finder years ago, is superb in the lead role. I hope they make a season two.

17. Van Helsing

urban fantasy tv shows

Van Helsing is supposed to be a different take on the age-old vampire mythos, and in that sense, it succeeds very well. It doesn’t say too far from the established vampire lore, but it twists it enough to keep things fresh and interesting. What I most like about the show is how adult-orientated it is. The show isn’t afraid to be dark or violent, both of which it is. The characters are straight out of an urban fantasy novel, especially the kickass main character, played with awesomeness by Kelly Overton.

18. Legion

urban fantasy tv shows

I don’t even know where to begin with this show. It’s confusing, genre-bending and tripe as all hell at times, but at the same time, and for those very reasons mentioned, it’s also awesome and highly original. Just go smoke a joint and watch it if you haven’t already.

19. Ash Vs Evil Dead

urban fantasy tv shows

Like every other fan of the movies, I was over the moon when this show got announced. There was no way it could be bad, and it wasn’t…not by a long shot. It’s horror-leaning urban fantasy at its best. Incredibly violent and funny at the same time. Why the show ended up cancelled is truly fucking beyond me. Shame on you, whoever made the decision to ax this awesome show.

20. iZombie

urban fantasy tv shows

I watched the first two seasons of this show before I lost interest in it, but that’s to say this is a bad show. It isn’t. The scripts are clever and full of wit and snark, and each episode has at least one laugh out loud moment. It’s light-hearted UF, but it’s done well and the lead actress nails the part.

21. Happy!

urban fantasy tv shows

I absolutely loved this show. It’s crazy over the top at times, but also very funny, very dark and very damn entertaining. This is largely due to the performances of the characters, especially Christopher Meloni in the lead, who completely nails his role. The show is based on a comic book series written by Grant Morrison. Season two is also coming. I can’t wait. Oh…and a little blue unicorn is the star of the show!

So that’s my list. What about yours? Share your favorites in the comments below!

 

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9 thoughts on “The Best Urban Fantasy TV Shows Ever [UPDATED 2018]

  1. HelloI have been reading your fasnaty alien stories over half-term with Miss Dowdall.They are fab!Think about entering the Chris Evans Breakfast Show competition.Listen to the authors’ tips.Most importantly Have Fun!!

  2. I ADORE the first season of Hemlock Grove. One of the best shows I’ve had the pleasure of watching. It was sexy and sinister, and it kept raising terrible questions that you didn’t want to know the answers too, all the way up till the horrific ending. That’s great story-telling.
    But as far as I’m concerned that’s where the story ends for me. Season two was an utter flustercluck of disappointment. The author, McGrevy, got lazy and greedy. Simple as that. He chose to work on the show instead of writing the novel first and it was a terrible move.
    Season one was a dark and delightfully twisted modern gothic murder mystery with well developed characters. Season two was a train wreck going from gothic morbid murder mystery into some cheesy stupid made for the SyFy channel show, with characters doing things totally out of character, crappy CGI, stupid plot twists that made zero sense, characters losing their accents (I’m looking at you, Olivia!), characters being brought back for no real reason other than to be killed off. It was just wretched and heartbreaking for me because the first season was so perfect.
    The only jaw dropping thing about season 2 was that insane transformation in the first episode. That was slick. But that’s where the awesomeness ended.
    I think it goes without saying that I haven’t watched season 3.

    • I agree that season one was much better, however, I still enjoyed the other two seasons. They definitely could have been better though. In saying that, the acting was still awesome, so that kind of held my attention even if the story didn’t.

  3. Going off your list of shows you enjoy in this genre & if you enjoyed BBC’s Being Human more than the American version (like me) then you would love BBC’s Misfits— if you haven’t tried it yet that is!! It is hilarious ,entertaining, can be twisted occassionally and wildly inappropriate for any one whos under 16-…Imagine 5 juvenile delinquents serving their court ordered community service when a freak storm comes out of nowhere, changing them ,and many others we find out as we watch, into irresponsible teens but with an assortment of powers now & they being the delinquent teens that they are we get to see how they use & abuse those powers for themselves and their personal gain, no matter who gets hurt along the way… I love British tv. Most of their shows are so underrated & because they hardly censor anything!! What we have to pay to see on HBO or Starz they air on a basic cable channel.. Only downside is: like most BBC shows you don’t get more than 8-10 episodes a season but it makes watching 5 seasons easy to binge in one weekend. My 3rd favorite BBC show (Doctor Who & Torchwood #s 1&2— of course)!!

    Couple other shows that should have an honorable mention are:
    Izombie- ( for those that enjoy comedy and zombies who take on the personality of people who’s brains they eat)
    Wynonna Earp -( sending revenants back to hell all while trying to break the family curse)
    Van Helsing -( Abraham Van Helsing’s,Draculas nemisis, ancestor- she wakes up in a post apocalyptic world over run by vampires and tries protecting the few humans who are left, to keep them alive)
    The Magicians -( very adult content for a syfy show but very entertaining, wildly imaginative, funny, dark, twisted, and highly recommended if you like scenarios where our world is one of many *think narnia* but only for adults!!!

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