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Shows Like Death Note That Supernatural Thriller Fans Need To Watch

"Death Note" remains one of the most beloved anime series worldwide. For 37 episodes, viewers followed the tale of Light Yagami (Mamoru Miyano), a high school student who discovers a notebook that can bring about the death of anyone. The wielder need only record a person's name in the book's pages, so long as they know their intended target's real name and face. What follows is a meditation on good intentions, justice, vengeance, and how wicked a person can become in the name of goodness. And despite the high-minded philosophical questions that serve as the foundation for "Death Note," the show never hesitates to thrill audiences with great action set pieces and strong interpersonal dynamics.

Given the hold it continues to exert on its fans, it's only natural they might be seeking a new series to enjoy and obsess over. So if you want a show that examines concepts like justice and vengeance while keeping you on the edge of your seat, here are the shows that will help fill the thrilling, supernatural void left by "Death Note."

American Gothic

While younger than Light, the protagonist of "American Gothic," Caleb Temple (Lucas Black), similarly discovers a supernatural power that he cannot reliably wield despite wanting to do the right thing. He also has a demon pushing him to accept the darkness in Lucas Buck (Gary Cole), the town sheriff. Buck is secretly Caleb's father, and his actions suggest he's a devil, if not the literal Satan.

Following multiple tragedies engineered by Sheriff Buck, Caleb is seemingly more vulnerable than ever, with the wicked sheriff hoping to control the potentially powerful boy. However, Caleb's sister, Merlyn (Sarah Paulson), refuses to give up on her brother, acting as best she can as his personal Jiminy Cricket. Additionally, Caleb's older cousin (Paige Turco) and a doctor with a mysterious past (Jake Weber) arrive in town and quickly gum up Buck's intricate plan. With their outsider status, they begin to piece together what residents either can't or won't about the sheriff's abilities and what it may mean for Caleb, resulting in a supernatural tale that will definitely appeal to "Death Note" fans.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

If we're talking teens tangling with supernatural forces, that conversation has to include "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." After all, "Buffy" defined supernatural dramas for a generation of viewers and set the standard for every series to come.

As for the plot, a new student has arrived in the town of Sunnydale. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) seems like the typical popular girl — attractive, athletic, fashionable — but she's dogged by rumors of burning down her previous school. Plus, all she seems to do is hang out at the library with some nerds and the librarian.

As fans know, though, Buffy did burn down that school but for good reason — vampires! For seven seasons, the Vampire Slayer fought all manner of supernatural creatures alongside her allies — both human and monster alike. The series was at the height of its power when the baddies merged with commentary on how it felt to grow up through your teens into adulthood, bringing humor and pathos to the horror.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Like Light, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) finds herself with tremendous power in her teen years. As a half-witch, half-human, temptations for Spellman abound. The show's central plot revolves around how she will elect to use her power and if any "good" way to do so truly exists, which are themes familiar to "Death Note" fans.

Stacking the deck against Sabrina finding the right path is Madam Satan, who inserts herself into the teen's life by murdering and possessing a teacher, Mary Wardwell (Michelle Gomez). Increasingly, Sabrina finds herself trapped between two worlds. On one side stands the "real" world where she attends an ordinary high school, tries to be a good friend and girlfriend, and enjoys adolescence. In opposition, there is the mystical realm with a dark school where demons tempt Sabrina to steal a pack of gum and she sometimes needs to murder angels to protect her friends. 

Again and again, with Sabrina contemplating dark choices to help herself and her friends, "Chilling Adventures" forces viewers to consider how often people do evil – convinced they have "the right reasons" — before that excuse no longer works.


John Constantine (Matt Ryan) is a bit of a jerk. He's selfish, arrogant, and possesses an often vague, if not outright, absent moral code. Unfortunately, he also might be the world's only hope from falling into utter annihilation and total evil. After all, he's a demon hunter who must exercise his exorcism powers to keep humanity safe from the apocalyptic "Rising Darkness." 

As in "Death Note," power in "Constantine" is largely amoral. Any use of it carries unintended consequences. Use it for good, by all means, but know that the good you do will almost certainly introduce some new evil. John knows this, so he always seeks to keep things in balance. It's how he can be sort of a bad guy for the good guys, trying to do right but forever do just a little wrong to keep the scales from getting too out of whack.

Increasing the pressure on Constantine is his damned soul. Redemption may be possible, but for now, despite the good he's done, he is bound for Hell upon his death. Thus, he must find a way to help us and to help himself ... but only in small increments, lest he thoroughly upset the balance of the world.


The most fun show on television, "Evil" is also one of TV's most thoughtful. As with "Death Note," "Evil" explores the tradeoffs people inevitably make when given a taste of supernatural power. It deeply considers what people will do to survive in a world where it often seems the otherworldly holds all the cards. However, the series wisely doesn't make things hopeless — it only stacks the deck significantly against our heroes.

Our heroes are a trio of paranormal investigators working for the Catholic church, and they view supernatural power through three different filters. The trio's tech guy, Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi), sits on the most skeptical side of the scale. He puts hard science out in front and consistently presents interpretations of events that solely exist in the material, provable world. Dr. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) represents the middle ground, typically seeking explanations stemming from mental health issues but increasingly experiencing signs of supernatural phenomena herself. Finally, David Acosta (Mike Colter) is a Catholic seminarian whose faith leads him to more readily consider the otherworldly, although never to the point of being closed off to other possibilities.

While signs of the paranormal abound, "Evil" makes an excellent choice with the trio's most dangerous adversary, the seemingly very human Dr. Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson). While certainly working for the side of evil, he appears to have no mystical gifts. Instead, he uses his talents for manipulation to bring others down low, giving us a wicked villain very recognizable to these times.

Friday the 13th: The Series

This '80s throwback is admittedly a bit cheeseball by today's standards, but inventive twists and good chemistry amongst the central cast make it a fun artifact to revisit.

Micki Foster (Louise Robey) and Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay) are cousins who've just inherited an antique store. Unbeknownst to them, the previous owner, their uncle, made a deal with the devil and used the shop to sell unsuspecting cursed objects to customers. By the time they've learned the truth, they've already sold off several enchanted pieces. So, teaming up with their uncle's friend (Chris Wiggins), our heroes must hunt down each antique to prevent further harm.

Its episodic nature helped set the template for many "monster/evil item of the week" supernatural dramas to follow. And like "Death Note," "Friday the 13th" was able to effectively take ordinary objects and imbue them with menace. Be warned though! Fans of a particular hockey mask-wearing slasher villain shouldn't expect him to show up. The name is a marketing gimmick, replacing the show's first title, "The 13th Hour," to ensure network interest.

Future Diary

Yuki Amano (Josh Grelle) is a fairly lonely kid who finds his life turned upside down by a magical book in "Future Diary." (Sound familiar?) In this case, the book in question is one of 12 "future diaries" — tomes that enroll those in possession of the books into a tournament. At stake is nothing short of godhood.

While Yuki seems driven to use his diary for good ends, several other combatants are not, including a cult leader, a serial killer, a mesmerist, and a terrorist. Like police officer Keigo Kurusu (Robert McCollum), many of the players seem disinterested in the contest beyond how it helps their obsessions. However, the runner of the game, Deus Ex Machina (Kent Williams), frequently fosters chaos that forces the diary holders to participate, despite how they may feel about it.

The bittersweet finale makes "Future Diary" a series especially worth checking out. For a show driven by the hunger for power and the desire for immortality, the final episode thoughtfully considers what is gained and lost in the ascension to godhood. Then, before it all gets too bleak, it gives the winner a last moment of grace to suggest hope survives despite all the wickedness the series showcases.


Like "Death Note," the hero of "Grimm," Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), begins his story with the discovery of an improbable book. Instead of raw power, this volume provides Nick information about his ancestry and the world of the supernatural hiding in plain sight.

From this volume, he learns that he's the latest of a generations-long string of Grimms — men and women tasked with protecting humanity from Wesen. The Wesen are mystical creatures who appear human but also have a shadow side. However, Nick quickly realizes that he doesn't need to kill every Wesen to protect humanity, breaking from tradition. Instead, he fosters relationships with many, including his new best friend, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), a werewolf-like creature known as a Blutbad.

Like most other Wesen, Monroe has largely integrated into day-to-day society, enjoying life as part of humanity. But there are those too powerful, too stuck on tradition, or too outright evil, and those are the ones Nick must hunt and destroy for everyone's safety. However, as the series progresses, it increasingly suggests that even some of the "evil" Wesen are not beyond saving. If Nick can change the mission of the Grimm in a generation, perhaps others can change as well.

The Haunted Museum

If one is looking for a direct modern descendant of the "monster of the week"-style show, "The Haunted Museum" should scratch that itch nicely. Zak Bagans, who proclaims himself a paranormal investigator, has accumulated quite a collection of what he calls haunted artifacts. In 2017, Bagans opened a museum showcasing these items in Las Vegas.

And the museum has proven successful — successful enough to spark "The Haunted Museum," a collaboration with Eli Roth. The anthology series presents tales inspired by the objects in the museum, including a television apparently cursed by Charles Manson, a haunted doll, and a mirror containing a murderous evil spirit. Each installment tells its own little tale of the haunted object, essentially delivering a 40-minute short on its path to the museum.

Fans of supernatural anthologies like "Tales from the Crypt" will connect with the tone of the series fairly quickly. At the same time, "Death Note" viewers will no doubt appreciate a different sort of exploration of the theme of how cursed objects can challenge and ruin people.

The Promised Neverland

"The Promised Neverland" unfolds on an Earth very different from our own. There, 1,000 years have passed since humans and demons agreed to end their constant warring. The pact, called "The Promise," keeps humans safe in their area and gives space to demons as well.

Except there's an aspect of "The Promise" that the young leads of the series have never been told. The orphanages where they live are little more than cattle farms. They exist to provide the demons with an ongoing source of humans to eat, a process that ensures the creatures won't degenerate into mindless monstrosities. When Emma (Sumire Morohoshi) and Norman (Maaya Uchida) attempt to ensure a newly adopted child doesn't forget her favorite toy, they learn the truth of their apparent purpose. Similar to how the notebook in "Death Note" fundamentally changes Light's understanding of reality, this moment triggers a cascade of revelations that make it impossible for Emma and her friends to accept their former lives.

The role of the orphanage exposed, Emma and Norman rally several other older "orphans" to escape, a mission that becomes even more pressing after Norman's the next selected child for "adoption." The world beyond the fence is perilous indeed. Still, the kids find themselves free to make their own choices for the first time and fighting back against the demon realm. 

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Power isn't always what it's cracked up to be, as both "Death Note" and "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" demonstrate. The latter series opens with two girls, Madoka (Aoi Yûki) and Sayaka (Eri Kitamura), approached by Kyubey (Emiri Kato), a small cat-like creature. The being offers to grant each of them their greatest wish. In exchange for the magic fulfillment of their desires, the two will agree to become "magical girls." It certainly sounds like a heck of a deal.

Unfortunately for the girls, that which seems too good to be true frequently proves to be exactly that. The life of a magical girl is often dangerous. Moreover, negative emotions can change magical girls into witches against their will. It's an effective, if not particularly sly, commentary on how society treats young women and the lengths it will go to exploit them financially, emotionally, and physically.

"Puella" is a show that finishes on a bittersweet wallop. The lengths one character will go to break the cycle of exploitation and pain forced upon magical girls is impressive, and there's a final tribute to them, serving as a sweet coda that will leave viewers glassy-eyed.

Sleepy Hollow

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), recast here as a spy for George Washington, seemingly dies in battle with the Headless Horseman in 1781. However, he reawakens some 230 years later, just outside the town of Sleepy Hollow, New York. His timing couldn't be better, as Sleepy Hollow is about to be the site of the first Tribulation of the Apocalypse — the arrival of the demon Moloch.

Working with Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), a member of the Sleepy Hollow police force, they attempt to defeat the demon and forestall the end of the world. However, both struggle with the increasingly frequent reveals of supernatural powers and creatures all about them, as well as their own motivations. Too often, they find themselves forced to fight old friends — including Crane's wife, Katrina (Katia Winter) — or offer themselves up for sacrifice.

As with "Death Note," "Sleepy Hollow" showcases a world where people often needed to risk their literal and metaphorical souls in the name of helping others, where trying to be good frequently meant risking an even deeper corruption. Yes, Light or Crane might make the world safe with their actions, but the forces that truly threaten it remain out there, waiting, barely cowed.


Perhaps no series has commanded as loyal a fanbase as "Supernatural" did for its 15 seasons. By the time it wrapped, the tales of the Winchester brothers had spawned conventions, comics, spinoff novels, scholarly books, and a metric ton of fan fiction. So for viewers looking for a very deep dive to relieve their post-"Death Note" needs, this is the one.

What begins as a fairly episodic "monster of the week" show develops an increasingly serialized and complex mythology. At its basic level, it concerns Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) Winchester, a pair of monster-hunting brothers who work across the country to defeat supernatural threats. They often receive guidance from the spirit of their deceased father, John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

The camaraderie of the brothers and the show's humorous tone nonetheless give way to genuinely emotionally painful moments that have defined the series. Fan-favorite villains often return for another go-round, shifting allegiances or making brief turns as anti-heroes. And the show repeatedly manages to skate the line of fan service without causing the entire series to collapse on itself.

Besides the commitment, "Supernatural" offers "Death Notes" fans a show that's playing with some of the same themes of supernatural infiltration and influence in our day-to-day lives, albeit one with a decidedly funnier and more character-driven vibe.

Warehouse 13

In South Dakota, there sits a massive building seemingly as far away from civilization as anyone can be while still in the United States. This building is designed, in many ways, to protect humanity from itself. If "Death Note" existed in this show's continuity, Warehouse 13 would likely end up taking custody of the item for the greater good. Whereas the notebook disrupted existence, the warehouse seeks to separate people from enchanted or weird scientific objects that would give them too much power. Perhaps Light could've been saved from corruption if only such an organization had taken the cursed relic away.

As for the plot, Secret Service Agents Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) find themselves assigned to Warehouse 13 in what they assume is punishment for prior mistakes on the job. Lattimer is an agent who tends to go more off instinct and "vibes" than following protocol, and he's been in recovery for years. Bering is, of course, intensely dedicated to following the rules, but a tragedy involving her partner hangs over her head. While their stated assignment is essentially playing security guards to the facility, Bering and Lattimer quickly grow to love their assignment, all while the real mission quickly becomes apparent and the Warehouse's dark history becomes further exposed.

When They Cry

When viewers first meet Keiichi Maebara (Soichiro Hoshi), he appears to be a blood-spattered murderer. Things only look worse for the lead character when a flashback reveals his victims are two of his best friends. As the story unfurls, we're plunged into a world of strange murders, a canceled dam project, and intense paranoia. When our hero quickly cracks, things only get weirder from there.

Time loops, a seemingly mystical landfill, curses, and many, many more killings occur. With each episode, "When They Cry" both reveals more answers and creates more doubts. Before long, it seems everyone in the town has — both figuratively and literally — blood on their hands. Keiichi may discover the answers to the questions that torment him. However, he will likely wish he remained forever in the dark.

If viewers feel like diving into even darker and more morally compromised material after "Death Note," "When They Cry" will be a great fit.