I love period dramas. But I LOVE Gothic and paranormal romance period dramas. Call it my neverending interest in everything Jane Eyre, Beauty and the Beast stories, and moody Byronic Heroes. The intense emotion and other ingredients of Romanticism draw me in every time.
Still, while incredibly popular today, there’s not a whole lot of information out there about the two genres beyond classic Gothic Fiction or contemporary paranormal romance. And even less about the period drama examples from film and television besides the discussion of Gothic Horror.
So, I think it’s the perfect time to shine the spotlight on Gothic Period Dramas and Paranormal Romance Costume Dramas this Halloween season. But why cover both at the same time? Simply put, when it comes to elements of Classic Gothic stories and paranormal romance, the two often intersect. Not always. But often enough. Especially because of the frequent amalgamation of classic Monster Literature and the romantic Byronic Hero of the Brontë persuasion. What I like to call the Byronic Monster (Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, etc.).
In a nutshell, you take the Classic Horror monsters of Shelley, Polidori, and Stoker, the Gothic elements of Radcliffe and the redeemable Byronic Heroes of the Brontë sisters to create today’s Byronic Monsters in stories that combine aspects of all three.
However, not all Gothic and Paranormal Romance period dramas on this list are about the Gothic Byronic Monster. This list reflects a large variety of Gothic and Paranormal Romance period dramas. So everyone reading this list should find different films or shows that interest them.
I include examples of classic Gothic stories, Gothic period dramas steeped in romance without the supernatural, Gothic supernatural romances, and period dramas using aspects of Gothic storytelling techniques. Most examples include a suggestion of romance. At the very least, the period drama includes qualities of Romanticism.
The same goes for paranormal romance. Some paranormal romance period dramas are all about the love story. Some crossover with the Gothic genre. And some don’t.
So what then is a Gothic Romance? And what is Paranormal Romance? Let’s explore each genre individually.
GOTHIC PERIOD DRAMAS
In a gothic story, you may see elements of mystery, horror, romance, an old-run down structure (like a castle), foreboding environments, isolated characters, hidden secrets, Romanticism (IE: high emotions), and sometimes even elements of the supernatural. For this list, I’m focusing on period based Gothic Films and Shows.
So if you love stories with romantic suspense, Byronic Heroes, and darker story elements you should enjoy Gothic and Gothic Romance stories.
PARANORMAL ROMANCE PERIOD DRAMAS
Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of the Romance category. And for a romance to count as paranormal, there need to be elements of the supernatural. Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, magic, witches, psychic characters, legendary creatures, superhuman abilities, fairies, immortals, time travel (I did leave time travel off the list), etc.
And while paranormal romance is a sub-genre of Romance, the “main” plot does not necessarily have to only focus on romance. Or even have a happily ever after. There are different types of Paranormal romance. And for this list’s purpose, I’m just going to combine the genres of Paranormal Romance (with a capital R – which means it follows the rules of the Romance genre), Paranormal romance (with a lowercase ‘r’ which doesn’t follow the rules of the Romance genre), and Urban Fantasy. All sub-genres closely related to each other.
See the article “What is Paranormal Romance and Why Should I care?” for further clarification.
But basically, for this list, period dramas that include elements of the paranormal with a strong element of romance. The period drama also has to take place (at least partially) in this world. So no stories that only take place in a fantasy world. The period drama also has to take place (at least partially) in the past.
Now, this is not a complete list of every Gothic or paranormal romance period drama out there. Rather, these are numerous examples from around the world to get you started. And it’s the most complete list online if you enjoy these two genres! I also chose to focus on titles with less explicit content. Though I do include an extra bonus list at the end with a few of the artistic titles with more mature content.
So, bookmark this page and return to whenever you’re looking for a Gothic period drama or historical paranormal romance series to watch!
WHERE TO WATCH
To make the list useful, I’ve included places where you can watch the film or TV Show. At least as of now. Availability changes on a daily basis. All right, let’s get to it!
150 Gothic and Paranormal Romance Period Dramas
(In Alphabetical Order)
#1-4 A Christmas Carol adaptations
Why You Should Watch: This classic Gothic Christmas story is one of the most famous stories for a reason. Below, I’ve listed four of the best adaptations.
Content Note: Ratings range from G to PG
Where to Watch 1935 (called Scrooge) adaptation: Amazon Prime; Rent and/or buy on Digital/DVD.
Where to Watch 1938 adaptation: Hoopla; Rent and/or buy on Digital/DVD.
Where to Watch 1984 adaptation: HBO Now; Rent and/or buy on Digital/DVD.
Where to Watch 1999 adaptation: Buy on Digital/DVD.
#5 A Hazard of Hearts (1987 TV Movie)
Why You Should Watch: This lesser-known British Gothic miniseries stars period drama queen, Helena Bonham Carter. And it’s a fun guilty pleasure with mystery and romance.
Content Note: Unrated but not explicit. There is mild violence and a brief scene of hinted sexuality.
Where to Watch: Youtube and DVD.
#6-7 A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004 & 2017)
Why You Should Watch: Both adaptations are fantastic and full of Gothic fun for the whole family. The new Netflix adaptation is clever and witty. And while there’s no clear time period presented, both feel like period dramas.
Content Note: PG
Where to Watch 2004 adaptation: Rent and/or buy on Digital/DVD.
Where to Watch 2017 adaptation: Netflix
#8 An American Haunting (2005)
Why You Should Watch: Part horror, part gothic mystery, this 19th century period drama includes a romance between a tortured teenager (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and her teacher (James D’Arcy). And while the romance is on the verge of being questionable and the film overall mediocre, one can’t help but appreciate a swoony James D’Arcy in the role. An American Haunting also includes a stellar cast with Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland playing Betsy’s parents.
Content Note: PG-13; Contains Terror sequences and implied child abuse.
Where to Watch: Starz; Rent and/or buy on Digital/DVD.
#9 An Inspector Calls (2015)
Why You Should Watch: Based on a play, this adaptation has a Gothic feel with low key lighting and a touch of the supernatural. It’s also quite brilliant. A must-see movie.
Content Note: TV-PG
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime; Rent and/or buy on DVD.
#10 And Then There Were None (2015 Mini-series)
Why You Should Watch: One of Agatha Christie’s darker mysteries, this newer adaptation includes an all-star cast such as Poldark‘s Aidan Turner, Jane Eyre‘s Toby Stephens, and more. A Gothic whodunit miniseries with a twist of romance that leaves you guessing until the end.
Content Note: TV-14/TV-M depending on which version you watch. There are two scenes of sexuality, a few F-words, and violence connected to murders.
Where to Watch: Acorn TV; Rent and/or buy on Digital/DVD.
#11 Anne with an E (2017)
Why You Should Watch: While I have some issues with this adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, the writers and filmmakers chose to give this Anne series a Brontë/Gothic feel showcasing a darker color scheme as well as frequent references to Jane Eyre. There’s brilliant acting and cinematography with romance and great characterization. Season 2 is also much improved over season 1 if you struggled with it. Though you do have to appreciate it as a separate story entirely from the books!
Content Note: TV-PG
Where to Watch: Netflix or buy on DVD.
#12 Arang and the Magistrate (2012 Limited TV Series)
Why You Should Watch: This popular Korean drama stars two of Korea’s biggest and most likable stars in this fun historical paranormal romance between a ghost and a magistrate. Plus, you won’t want to miss the secondary love story which is just as good! The ghost mythology is also fabulous.
Content Note: TV-PG
Where to Watch: Dramafever on Amazon Channels (shockingly, this channel has not been taken down yet), Viki, Kocowa, and DVD.
#13-15 Beauty and the Beast adaptations
Why You Should Watch: Since it’s a tale as old as time, there are numerous adaptations of the fairy tale. I included three of the most recognizable versions of the story and focused on live-action productions that take place in 18th century France. While all three of these adaptations have fantastic qualities, my heart belongs to the superior 1946 adaptation. Still, this Gothic fairy tale is worth watching in almost every incarnation.
Content Note: The 1946 and 2017 adaptations are PG while the 2014 adaptation is PG-13.
Where to Watch Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et La Bete) (1946): Stream on Kanopy and Film Struck (this streaming site closes in late November); You can also rent/buy on Digital/DVD.
Where to Watch Beauty and the Beast (2014): Stream on Netflix. Also available to rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
Where to Watch Beauty and the Beast (2017): Stream on Netflix. Also available to rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#16-17 Being Human (Original U.K. and U.S. remake)
Why You Should Watch: While most of these two shows take place in modern day, there are period flashbacks in connection to the vampires. And while the U.S. remake is good, the U.K. adaptation is superior with brilliant writing and a fantastic cast. Expect to see Byronic Heroes, paranormal romances, not to mention a young and swoony Aidan Turner. So, you’ll definitely want to check out this show.
Content Note: Both shows range from TV-14 to TV-MA depending on the episode. The U.K. adaptation has a few sex scenes scattered throughout the show as well as some strong language (most noticeably in season 2). The U.S. remake has some sex scenes though the language is milder. Both shows include violent scenes.
Where to Watch U.K. series: Amazon Prime; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
Where to Watch U.S. series: Netflix; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#18 Black Sunday (1960)
Why You Should Watch: This Italian Gothic Horror film about a witch is considered a classic masterpiece for a reason. Though this one is not for the faint of heart!
Content Note: A couple scenes of innuendo/sensuality, fantasy violence, and creepy scenes.
Where to Watch: Kanopy, Shudder, Fandor, and Tubi TV; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#19 Bleak House (2005 Limited Series)
Why You Should Watch: This Urban Gothic Dickens’ adaptation has a stellar cast and an addicting binge-worthy quality. However, Gillian Anderson steals the show!
Content Note: TV-PG
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Britbox. Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#20 Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Why You Should Watch: A sequel to the 1931 adaptation of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein is one of the best classic films in the Gothic genre and superior to the original! And you don’t want to miss the infamous scene of the introduction of the Bride.
Content Note: NR – but only includes mild horror.
Where to Watch: STARZ; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#21 The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Why You Should Watch: While this isn’t the best movie of all time, it does have a stellar cast including Heath Ledger and Matt Damon. And there are some fun moments in this Gothic historical fantasy.
Content Note: PG-13 for violence
Where to Watch: Roku Channel, Hoopla; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#22 The Canterville Ghost (1997)
Why You Should Watch: This Gothic period romance may be one of the most accurate adaptations of Oscar Wilde’s book. If you can find a copy, you’ll be in for a treat.
Content Note: NR but not explicit
Where to Watch: Youtube and rare copies on DVD. This one is hard to find!
#23 Corpse Bride (2005)
Why You Should Watch: Corpse Bride showcases the best of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter team. This is the perfect Gothic and supernatural Halloween treat about a young groom during the Victorian Age who accidentally marries a ghost.
Content Note: PG for mild scary images and brief mild language.
Where to Watch: HBO Now; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#24 The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Why You Should Watch: Jim Caviezel shines in this near-perfect adaptation of the beloved classic novel. Now whether or not the book is or should be considered a Gothic novel is up for debate! But there are at least elements of the Gothic and Romantic in this tale of revenge.
Content Note: PG-13 for adventure violence and sensuality.
Where to Watch: Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#25 Crooked House (2017)
Why You Should Watch: Part film noir, part Gothic romantic mystery, this new adaptation (while flawed) is a fun watch with a fantastic cast!
Content Note: PG-13 for some sexual content.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#26 Dark Shadows (2012)
Why You Should Watch: While I personally prefer the classic show, the original series is not technically a period drama. That said, this remake about a vampire and the quirky family he lives with during the 1970s is still imperfect fun with a distinct Tim Burton charm and a fabulous cast!
Content Note: PG-13 for horror violence, sexual content/innuendo, and language.
Where to Watch: Freeform; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#27 Death Comes to Pemberley (2013 Mini-Series)
Why You Should Watch: If you love Pride and Prejudice and everything Jane Austen, this fun continuation with popular period drama stars is worth a watch. Darcy and Elizabeth receive Gothic treatment in the midst of a murder mystery.
Content Note: TV-14 but nothing explicit or vulgar. Expect sensuality and murder.
Where to Watch: Netflix; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#28 Demon Girl (2016 TV Series)
Why You Should Watch: This stylish paranormal romance series from China tells the story of a young woman in the 1920’s who discovers she’s half-demon. Then there’s the compelling love triangle between another demon (a Byronic Hero) and a human. A fascinating series with gorgeous production design.
Content Note: TV-14; I’ve only watched part of the series so far but haven’t seen anything explicit.
Where to Watch: This one is difficult to come by, but right now you can check it out on Youtube. Keep your eye on Viki just in case since the series used to be available on Dramafever. Other Asian streaming sites may also have the series to watch.
#29 Dickensian (2015 TV Series)
Why You Should Watch: If you love novels by Charles Dickens, then you should enjoy this gorgeous BBC period drama series. The story takes place in a fictional 19th century where characters from many different Dickens novels appear. Like Once Upon a Time…but only about Dickens! Characters mostly come from Bleak House, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol. So expect plenty of soapy Gothic goodness.
Content Note: TV-14
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime and Britbox; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.
#30 Doctor Who (2005 TV Series)
Why You Should Watch: While the classic series is great fun, it’s the 2005 continuation that’s all about the paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Seasons one through four include one of the best TV romances ever between the immortal Doctor (an alien Time Lord) and Rose, a young human who brings out the best in him. Together they travel through time (including to the past). Overall, Doctor Who is an addicting fantasy/sci-fi series you won’t want to miss.
Content Note: TV-PG (for most episodes). Fun for the whole family.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime; Rent and/or buy on Digital and DVD.