The Best Urban Fantasy TV Shows Ever
The Best Urban Fantasy TV Shows Ever
By Neal Martin/ December 9, 2014
Last Updated May 1, 2023
Urban fantasy, a realm where magic, supernatural beings, and gritty cityscapes collide, has captivated audiences for decades. While often celebrated as a literary genre, urban fantasy has also found a home on our television screens, weaving mesmerizing tales that keep us on the edge of our seats.
The roots of urban fantasy in TV can be traced back to groundbreaking shows like The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. Although these series leaned heavily towards science fiction, they introduced elements of urban fantasy that paved the way for future shows.
Who could forget Night Stalker, the gripping story of a private detective navigating a sprawling metropolis, unraveling mysteries shrouded in supernatural intrigue? This pioneering show set the stage for the urban fantasy renaissance of the 1990s, which gave us gems like Friday the 13th: The Series (unrelated to the Jason films) – an early predecessor to the widely popular series, Supernatural.
The past decade has witnessed an explosion of urban fantasy shows, transporting viewers to enchanting worlds teeming with otherworldly creatures and uncanny occurrences, all set against the backdrop of modern cities. The result is an irresistible blend of the familiar and the fantastical that continues to enthrall audiences worldwide.
For many writers, television and cinema have become treasure troves of inspiration. I, too, have found myself profoundly influenced by the rich narratives and unforgettable characters that define the urban fantasy genre. In celebration of the magic and wonder that these shows have brought into our lives, I’ve compiled a list of remarkable urban fantasy TV series.
While the list is unranked, each show offers its own unique charm and captivating storytelling, ensuring that urban fantasy enthusiasts will find plenty to love and admire. So, why not embark on a journey through the fascinating world of urban fantasy TV and discover the spellbinding tales that await you?
1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Admittedly, I wasn’t an ardent fan of this show, but I did find myself drawn to the first few seasons, primarily due to my love for horror and dark fantasy. At that time, television was lacking in these genres, and Buffy emerged as a much-needed breath of fresh air.
One cannot overlook Buffy’s pivotal role in paving the way for the supernatural-themed shows that followed. Joss Whedon’s urban fantasy masterpiece set the standard for the genre, encompassing all the essential elements: a fierce young female protagonist, exhilarating action, supernatural beings, and tantalizing references to the occult. And, of course, the series delivered on the inevitable romance front (though paranormal romance has since evolved into its own literary genre).
With its groundbreaking approach, Buffy rightfully claims the top spot on the list, paving the path for other notable series, such as Angel and Charmed, to enchant audiences in the years to come.
While I initially claimed that this list was unranked, Supernatural unquestionably holds a special place in my heart as the ultimate urban fantasy series. Showcasing the indomitable Winchester brothers, Supernatural elevated the themes established in shows like Buffy, infusing them with a darker edge and making them more captivating for adult viewers.
The show garnered acclaim for its portrayal of angels and demons, masterfully weaving classic tales of good versus evil that have since become cornerstones of the urban fantasy genre. This influence extends to contemporary literature, including my own novel series, demonstrating the enduring impact of Supernatural on the world of urban fantasy.
Sadly, the show recently came to a conclusion after fifteen seasons. What a run, though!
3. True Blood
Urban fantasy television simply wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the iconic series True Blood. This show embraces every conceivable urban fantasy trope, featuring an array of supernatural beings from vampires and werewolves to fairies and beyond.
True Blood sets itself apart from many other urban fantasy shows by catering specifically to a mature, adult audience. It boldly embraces provocative language, steamy scenes, and visceral violence, creating an unapologetically raw viewing experience. This unflinching approach made True Blood a refreshing departure from the abundance of teen-centric shows at the time.
While True Blood has concluded its run, it undoubtedly pushed the boundaries of the genre. For those eager to continue exploring the world of Sookie Stackhouse, the novels on which the series was based remain a captivating source of supernatural intrigue.
4. Sleepy Hollow
While I wasn’t a fan of the original film directed by Tim Burton—whom I consider one of the most overrated filmmakers (despite the success of Edward Scissorhands, which I attribute more to Johnny Depp’s performance)—I’m relieved that the new TV adaptation takes a different approach.
The show revolves around a familiar premise: two characters hunting monsters and striving to prevent supernatural forces from wreaking havoc. However, the series manages to feel fresh and engaging, thanks to its well-crafted writing and unique narrative.
The talented main cast is another reason for the show’s charm, with Tom Mison delivering a captivating performance as a stranger navigating a bizarre, supernatural world. This setup leads to many humorous moments as he attempts to make sense of the extraordinary circumstances he finds himself in.
This show has also now finished.
5. Teen Wolf
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
22. The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina
Based upon the comic, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, this Netflix takes the character and setting to much darker heights, and to great effect. The visuals are stunning, and the show gets extra credit in my book for hanging paintings by Clive Barker on the walls of the High Priest’s sanctum. The acting is pretty much spot on, with the lead actress being well cast. It can be a little slow verging on boring at times, but over all the show is solid and worth watching if you like witches or just dark fantasy.
23. The Rook
Bit of a slow burner this one. Set in London, it has great cinematography and great performances from the cast, but as I said, it’s a little slow for my tastes and I struggled to maintain interest in it sometimes. Still worth the watch, though.
24. Good Omens
Based on the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. A tale of the bungling of Armageddon that features an angel, a demon, an eleven-year-old Antichrist, and a doom-saying witch. Very faithful adaptation of the book.
25. Stranger Things
We’re three seasons into this 1980’s set sci-fi/urban fantasy extravaganza. It’s awesome. There’s not much more to say. Go watch it. Now.
26. Carnival Row
Very well made show that deals mostly with the Fae. I thought I would’ve enjoyed it more, but I didn’t, and couldn’t really get into it. Still worth checking out, though.
27. His Dark Materials
Another very well made show, but like Carnival Row, I couldn’t get into it. I think these bigger productions try too hard to be something more than what they are. They try to dress up the urban fantasy to give it an air of seriousness that ends up coming across as pretentious, and often boring. I say stick with the books on this one, but others might enjoy it, which is why I include it here.
28. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Wait, this is a cartoon. It doesn’t count!
I beg to differ. If this awesome show isn’t urban fantasy then nothing is. It hits nearly all the tropes. And did I mention how awesome it is? And how well written it is? And how great the voice acting is? And like, pizza, dudes!
I was disappointed this got cancelled after one season because the show was actually quite good. The acting was good, the story was engaging, and the horror fantasy stuff was well done. Definitely didn’t deserve to be cancelled, though the money gods must’ve thought otherwise.
30. Interview with the Vampire
TV adaptation of Anne Rice’s famous novel. Pretty close to the book, more so than the Tom Cruise movie. Overwrought at times, but overall not bad.
31. Mayfair Witches
Another TV adaptation of one of Anne Rice’s novels, this one involving witches. Interesting, well made, and probably more urban fantasy in terms of tropes than the vampire show.
32. Warrior Nun
I quite enjoyed this, and it has a lot of urban fantasy tropes. Cancelled after two seasons though.
So that’s my list. What about yours? Share your favorites in the comments below!
19 responses to “The Best Urban Fantasy TV Shows Ever”
Even though it was a departure from the books, I loved the Dresden Files.
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!!
Good list, but Tom Mison plays Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow, not David Giuntoli.
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.
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!!!
You left out Sanctuary. Mixes the overdone tropes with a bit of Victorian cyberpunk and none of the teen and twenties angst. The characters got a little frustrating the last season. But I loved it.
A number of incredibly good shows in the genre are noticeably absent, including:
* Charmed (1998, not the awful 2018 reboot)
* A Discovery of Witches
* Beauty & The Beast
* The Vampire Diaries, The Originals & Legacies
* Midnight, Texas
* Once Upon a Time
* The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)
* The Order
* Witches of East End
Looks like Lucifer was picked up by Netflix, so new seasons are happening!
I wish I be born in urban fantasy in the past present & future
Totally agree with Karen on Misfits! And with Bryce on The Dresden Files, which along with a few other shows I’ve loved – Constantine, Mysterious Ways, Miracles – definitely deserved more seasons.
I know it’s a bit dated now, but how can you have a list of best fantasy TV shows *EVER* and not even mention the original Beauty & the Beast with Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton? Award-winning smash hit, nothing else like it even now, and the production values were out of this world. George RR Martin wrote and produced too!
I also loved Early Edition with Kyle Chandler and Fisher Stevens back in the 90s, Heroes (the first season was excellent), and my favourite ever vampire TV show which I only recently discovered, Moonlight with pre-Hawaii 5-O Aussie hottie Alex O’Loughlin. That one has gotta be on there.
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