9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Network: The WB, UPN
Air Dates: March 10, 1997 - May 20, 2003
Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Stewart Head, Alyson Hannigan, David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, James Marsters, Juliet Landau, Eliza Dushku, Seth Green, Marc Blucas, Emma Caulfield, Michelle Trachtenberg, Amber Benson
Buffy The Vampire Slayer seemingly had it all: monsters, comedy, interesting characters, and talented actors. So what did the Joss Whedon-controlled show lack? The amount of viewers necessary to extend its current reputation beyond cult status. Buffy's loyal viewers, as well as the critics wise enough to hop on board, know they had something special, though, and aware True Blood fans hopefully realize that Sookie Stackhouse's universe is an inferior substitute for Buffy's creature-packed world.
Whedon and company kept the ghouls front and center throughout Buffy's seven seasons, yet no hour was as nightmarishly scary as "Hush", the show's crown jewel of horror. In the Whedon-directed episode (which he also co-wrote), a pack of suit-wearing, Joker-crossed-with-skeleton-looking ghouls known as "The Gentlemen" come to town and steal people's voices, resulting in an episode that's predominantly without dialogue. Brave formal decisions like this one separated Buffy from the rest of the pack. —MB