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Posted at 1:14 PM ET, 10/15/2010

Friday list: The scariest TV moments ever

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly

In keeping with our month-long Friday List salute to Halloween, we could have done the obvious thing and spat out a list of the scariest films of all time. But since we did a list on cinematic childhood wreckers a couple of weeks ago, and most of us know which movies belong on a scariest-ever list ("Psycho," "The Exorcist," "The Shining," blah blah blah), we decided to focus on a medium that tends to get forgotten during discussions of horror: TV.

When "Walking Dead" premieres on AMC in a few weeks, it could claim the new title for most terrifying TV show of all time. But until that moment arrives, we say that the most consistently nightmare-inducing series ever made is ... "Twin Peaks." Why? Because we couldn't even come up with one moment that most freaked us out -- there are too many. Ronette Pulaski's dream? Up there. The murder of Laura Palmer's cousin Maddie? Also up there. Pretty much anything involving Bob (see video above) made us double-check the backseats of our cars and hesitate to close our eyes at bedtime.

But "Twin Peaks" hardly cornered the market on frightening TV, which is why we've made a list of six additional chill-inducing television episodes. And we'd love for you to add to it.

Read our list after the jump ...

Share your own selections by posting a comment in the blog, or tweet your choices, using the hashtag #scariesttvmoments.

"The Twilight Zone"/"Living Doll" -- As we established in our childhood wreckers list that at least one of us has an issue with dolls that come to life. Well, add Talky Tina -- sample catchphrase: "My name is Talky Tina, and you'll be sorry" -- to the list of creepy toys that give us the willies. And it wasn't just us. As the episode reveals, that doll also scared the life out of Kojak.

"Alfred Hitchcock Presents": "Final Escape" -- Both the '60s-era Hitchcock series (featuring "Grease's" Edd Byrnes) and the '80s version presented their own takes on this ultra-creepy story in which a convict attempts to escape jail via a clever plan: just sneak into a coffin with the next prisoner who dies, then get someone to come back and dig up the coffin. But it doesn't quite work out that way. Both "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" and Ryan Reynolds's "Buried" owe this hour of television a significant debt.

"Little House on the Prairie"/"The Monster of Walnut Grove": Okay, Half-Pint usually isn't scary. But in this Halloween episode -- in which young Laura (Melissa Gilbert) is plagued by nightmares (see the six-minute mark of the video below) after she thinks that Nellie's dad, Mr. Oleson, may have decapitated his own wife -- was surprisingly creepy for a family-oriented show. A few children of the '70s may have suffered bad dreams as a result. Or so we've heard.

"Lost"/Claire's dream: This little show we used to watch had plenty of heart-stopping moments -- hello, Smoke Monsters, otherworldly whispers and crazy eye in the window of Jacob's cabin. But for our money the all-out most frightful moment from "Lost" was Claire's dream sequence from the season one episode "Raised by Another." Not the least because it involves Claire's fear that "someone is trying to hurt my baby." But the creepiness quotient goes way up when Claire walks into the jungle and meets a John Locke with mismatched eyes -- one black and one white -- and then continues on to find a crib full of blood. Yeah. That had our hair standing on end. Also scary: Claire's season six taxidermied squirrel baby, but that was more of an ick than a full-on fright.

"Twilight Zone"/"Eye of the Beholder:" This one's all about suspense, the "Twilight Zone's" specialty. Most of the episode unfolds with a woman, Janet Taylor, covered in bandages after having just undergone another surgery in an attempt to look normal. It isn't until the end of the episode that we realize we haven't seen anyone else's face and when we do -- spoiler alert -- THEY ALL HAVE PIG SNOUTS AND FREAKY CROOKED MOUTHS! Gave us nightmares for two good months. Watch the entire episode on YouTube.

"The X-Files"/"Home": Widely considered the most disturbing episode on a show known for its often chilling content, "Home" finds Agents Mulder and Scully investigating the discovery of a dead baby, and ultimately finding their way to a family of mutants that includes two sons with noses that -- sensing a trend here -- are kind of pig-like. But what's worse? They breed with their own mother. Yeah. Ew. The fan-made trailer below sums it up nicely.

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly  | October 15, 2010; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, TV  
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Posted by: kabuki3 | October 15, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

That was the grossest, freakiest, most messed-up episode of X-Files EVER, and I can't believe I was able to erase it from my memory UNTIL NOW!

Posted by: himishlove | October 15, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

If we want to talk current programming, look no further than Animal Planet's "Monsters Inside Me." It's more ick than eek, but the ick is off the charts.

Posted by: northgs | October 15, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

True story: I attended the premiere of the Twin Peaks movie (Fire: Walk with Me) and Bob sat right behind me! Scariest two hours of my life...

Posted by: TheNorthWing | October 15, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

X-Files had some great, creepy episodes... Beyond Home (I will NEVER be able to listen to Johnny Mathis again), some of my creepy favorites were:

"Humbug" - the episode with the Circus freak whose "attached twin" kept breaking off and killing people, "Tooms" with the stretchy/liver guy, and "The Host" with the fluke-man.

I miss the X-Files.

Posted by: DCLocal20 | October 15, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

While it was a made-for-TV movie, rather than a series, the ending of the African devil-doll segment of 1975's "Trilogy of Terror" is the all-time champ for creepy television moment.

Posted by: rashomon | October 15, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

No, I think Liz & Jen had it right off the bat: the murder of Maddie on Twin Peaks was one of the most disturbing and frightening moments of broadcast TV fiction ever shown. Actually, almost anything to do with BOB on that show was damn disturbing.

The murder scene loses little of its' potency, even when taken out of context. I think if "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" wasn't the heart of the show, it never would have made it to air.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | October 16, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, roshomon: Trilogy of Terror was scary enough to make my teenaged-brother scream in front of his girlfriend. The episode that freaked out so many television viewers, "Amelia," was written by Richard Matheson, the same man who gave us "Somewhere in Time" and "The Morning After." Now, that's quite a mind! Did you know there's a website for it?

BTW, I still feel ill when thinking about that X-Files episode. Very memorable, in a "wish to vomit and take a scalding bath" sort of way.

Posted by: cfow1 | October 18, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

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