What to watch when you are scared after watching a horror movie

I’m a big fan of the horror genre, but there inevitably comes a point of regret when I’m trying to sleep that night after seeing the latest horror offering in the cinema. Sometimes that regret even comes when you just terrified yourself in the daytime, but now have to cope with being home alone. Perhaps you aren’t a fan of horror but feel scared after witnessing a scary trailer or hearing a spooky story. Whatever the reason it’s easy to find yourself needing a reprieve from horror once in a while. I find that TV can be incredibly helpful in this, from shows that lighten the mood, to those that mock horror tropes, and even some that just distract you until the scary images seem less fresh and real. Here are some suggestions for shows that might help you sleep soundly after even the most terrifying of films;


Air Date: 2009 – 2015

Seasons: 6

Network: NBC/Yahoo!

Country of Origin: US

Genre: Sitcom

Premise: On the surface Community is about a group of community college students who end up in a Spanish study group together. However, it is impressively much more than that. If you are a fan of pop culture, particularly geeky, references then there is no better sitcom at it than Community. Whether it is witty references within episodes, or episodes themed around cult films, common fictional tropes or whole genres, Community is a master at it.

Why it works for this categoryCommunity is a very light-hearted show, not just in that it’s a comedy but because the tone is generally very positive. The plot lines are rarely anywhere near dark and the show exudes fun. This should help you lighten the mood and feel less tense. Being a sitcom, most episodes have everything tending to wrap up neatly by the end, which makes it an easy watch before bed. Community also has the advantage of being a show that plays with the common tropes of TV and movies, creating fantastic themed episodes. As many of the episodes stand alone it is possible to jump to a particular episode if it interests you. Though I highly recommend watching it through from the beginning when you’re no longer scared. Luckily for this situation Community has handled the horror and thriller genres on more than one occasion. Watching the show make light of a lot of the common elements of horror should help you to laugh about what was scaring you before and be more aware of how horror fiction is put together, making it feel less real.

Particularly recommended episodes: Epidemiology, Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps, Paranormal Parentage, Basic Intergluteal Numismatics

Note: If you would rather not watch anything related to horror and want to completely forget about the genre then simply avoid the episodes listed above.

Related showsSpaced (geeky references, sitcom around a group of unlikely friends)

Other Space (geeky sci-fi sitcom, diverse cast, group of unlikely friends)

Better Off Ted (geeky humour and characters, very light-hearted, similar tone)


The Guild

Air Date: 2007 – 2013

Seasons: 6

Network: YouTube

Country of Origin: US

Genre: Sitcom, Web-Series

PremiseThe Guild is a web-series which follows Cyd and her online gaming guild as they struggle to be as good at real life as they are in their favourite MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). You don’t necessarily have to know a lot about gaming to enjoy this series, though being a fan will likely enrich the experience. The episodes follow Cyd as she tries to connect with her online guild in real life. This is a choice which proves problematic for her given the eccentricities of the other members.

Why it works for this category: If you don’t have a lot of time before you go to bed or need something in smaller chunks, then The Guild is perfect as each episode is normally between a few minutes to 10 mins long. Alternatively you can watch full seasons in one long half hour to hour-long video on YouTube. This is a light-hearted, at times silly, comedy with exaggerated characters, which should be useful in taking your mind off anything scary that’s still lingering in your thoughts. The show never deals with any horror concepts and is never dark, which may be useful if you want to avoid the genre entirely for the time being.


Related showsThe Legend of Neil (some of the same cast and crew, web-series, geeky references and plotline, similar humour)

Con Man (geeky subject and references, light-hearted humour, web-series, Felicia Day is also in this)

The IT Crowd (geeky subject and references, light-hearted humour)


South Park

Air Date: 1997 – Present

Seasons: 19

Network: Comedy Central

Country of Origin: US

Genre: Comedy, Animation

PremiseSouth Park can be reduced to an offensive comedy with a bunch of animated kids saying and doing things they shouldn’t. However, I think this notion does the show a great disservice. While the humour is often around controversial topics, the episodes often make intelligent points and criticisms about society. The way in which South Park tackles and has lambasted current issues often not only entertains but allows you to look at things in a new light, sometimes considering the arguments of both sides, sometimes realising how silly one side really is.

Why it works for this category: South Park is helpful in getting over the fear induced by a as it allows you to laugh off the lingering anxiety and unease with its exaggerated humour. Also, South Park is beneficial in having created many episodes which parody horror, covering a wide variety of horror sub-genres. So whether you are tense from having watched a horror with post-apocalyptic, satanic, found footage, gory, or zombie themes, there will be an episode that mocks it. From classic to recent horror there are direct references and parodies in these episodes. Most episodes also use the horror parody to make a point about or comment on a news story or social issue, which may help make the horror seem more allegorical and let your mind be distracted by thinking about real issues.

Particularly recommended episodes: Pinkeye, Spookyfish, Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery, The Wacky Molestation Adventure, Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes, Cartman’s Incredible Gift, Woodland Critter Christmas, Ginger Kids, Night of the Living Homeless, Pandemic, Pandemic 2: The Startling, The Ungroundable, HUMANCENTiPAD, A Nightmare on FaceTime, World War Zimmerman

Note: South Park’s humour will not work for everyone, particularly if you prefer less-controversial topics, don’t enjoy crude language or would rather watch comedies with light-hearted, positive and friendly tones.

If you would rather not watch anything related to horror and want to completely forget about the genre then simply avoid the episodes listed above.

Related showsIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (similarly amoral characters, controversial topics)

Archer (similarly amoral characters, rude and, for some, offensive humour)

Mongrels (animated comedy, controversial topics, offensive humour, amoral characters)


Key & Peele

Air Date: 2012 – 2015

Seasons: 5

Network: Comedy Central

Country of Origin: US

Genre: Sketch Show, Comedy

PremiseKey & Peele is the brilliant brainchild of comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. This is a sketch show with a far better hit to miss ratio than most I’ve seen. The show often mixes sketches with segments of the pair in front of a live audience. Their sketches create comedy around a wide range of subjects, from the surreal, to cultural and social issues, to popular culture.

Why it works for this category: Sometimes if I am really scared I find that short bursts of content help to distract my brain better than a longer narrative, where my brain might find time to wander back to what scared me. If this applies to you then Key & Peele would be a great pick. The consistently funny sketches should both lighten the mood and provide bursts of distraction that will fill up your thoughts with lots of things to laugh at, even afterwards when you’re trying to sleep. If the idea of watching something that will mock the horror genre is appealing then Key & Peele have also dedicated a Halloween episode to sketches doing just that, which I have recommended below.

Particularly recommended episodes: Michael Jackson Halloween

Note: If you would rather not watch anything related to horror and want to completely forget about the genre then simply avoid the episode listed above.

Related showsThat Mitchell and Webb Look (sketch show often dealing with pop culture, albeit mostly British)

Portlandia (sketch show dealing with pop culture, society and surreal concepts)

The Armando Iannucci Shows (sketch show dealing with the surreal and cultural issues)



Air Date: 2006 – 2014

Seasons: 8

Network: USA

Country of Origin: US

Genre: Comedy, Procedural

Premise: Psych’s basic premise is that a highly perceptive and gifted, though immature, man pretends to be psychic in order to work solving crimes as a consultant for the police. While this could have been a forgettable and run of the mill procedural, Psych manages to turn this premise in to non-stop tremendous fun. With lots of comedy, tremendous pop-culture references and a fantastic cast, with some fun guest stars, you’ll never get bored of this show. The cases are very entertaining, but aren’t so much the focus of the show. The focus is more on the characters, humour, and developing romance. There are so many pop culture references that at least a few episodes will likely touch upon or be an homage to something you love.

Why it works for this category: Psych is nothing if not tremendous fun, so it is a fantastic show if you want to lighten the mood and get yourself laughing again. The episodes are fast paced and full of jokes, which should keep your brain occupied and keep it from thinking back to the things that scared you. Shawn and Gus are great characters to help you stop being afraid, both because they are incredibly entertaining and because their notice of details and rational thinking through the mysteries they’re faced with should help you address the unlikely nature of the horror that frightened you. If you want to see the horror genre explored with a lighter tone, and have the tropes mocked, then Psych has also done several horror themed episodes. These episodes should help with your fears, not only because they are a funny look at horror conventions and films, but also because Shawn and Gus’ investigation of the events turn up cold hard facts that show the reality behind seemingly terrifying occurrences. Additionally, Shawn and Gus’ general cowardice in the face of seemingly horror-like events will make you feel less silly about your own reaction, and allow you to laugh at yourself.

Particularly recommended episodes: Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast, Tuesday the 17th, The Devil’s in the Details… and the Upstairs Bedroom, Let’s Get Hairy, In Plain Fright, Mr. Yin Presents…, Heeeeee’s Lassie, Lassie Jerky, 100 Clues, A Nightmare on State Street

Note: If you would rather not watch anything related to horror and want to completely forget about the genre then simply avoid the episodes listed above.

Related showsMonk (made by the same network, similar tone, lighthearted procedural)

Elementary (procedural with focus more on the characters than cases)

iZombie (protagonist solves crimes while keeping their true methods secret, similar lighthearted comedic tone)


Would I Lie to You?

Air Date: 2007 – Present

Seasons: 9

Network: BBC

Country of Origin: UK

Genre: Panel Show, Comedy

Premise: Would I Lie to You? has two teams of three comedians telling stories about their lives while those on the other team attempt to guess whether it is the truth or a lie made up on the spot. With comedians interrogating each-other to figure out the truth behind insane and odd claims there are a lot of laughs to be had in each episode. The show always features Rob Brydon, as the host, and David Mitchell and Lee Mack as the team captains.

Why it works for this category: Sometimes you need to watch something real after being steeped in fictional terror, particularly if you would like to remind yourself of the lack of ghosts, vampires, and fictional monsters in your own life. If you would like to watch something based in reality that will lighten the mood and get you laughing instead of hiding, then this is a good choice. There has been a large variety of guests over the 9 seasons, so there are bound to be episodes featuring people you like. Even if you don’t know any of the guests or regulars there is good fun in every episode as the banter between David Mitchell and Lee Mack is always particularly good fun. Additionally, if you are feeling scared of the fictional paranormal then watching David Mitchell tear apart stories with precision may inspire you to become more sceptical of your fears.


Related shows8 Out of 10 Cats (panel show, many of the same guests)

Was it Something I Said? (panel show with David Mitchell, includes trying to guess the truth behind statements)

You Have Been Watching (panel show, similar guests)


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