5. 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (1997-2003)
High school is literally hell on earth — beat that for a high concept! The genius of Joss Whedon's star-making series was taking a metaphor for adolescent angst, giving it fangs, and handing its heroine a wooden stake. Buffy Summers and her Scooby Gang faced down more than their fair share of menaces from beyond, but like Twin Peaks before it, Buffy realized that great horror was rooted in human experience; the death of Buffy's mother was as harrowing as TV has ever gotten, with nary a demon in sight. That said, there are few more nightmarish TV moments than watching the "gentlemen" of the show's "Hush" episode float by, silently smiling as they steal voices and hearts (literally, in both cases).