Anthology series

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Lux Radio Theatre ad art featuring Joan Crawford Luxdolls2.jpg
Lux Radio Theatre ad art featuring Joan Crawford

An anthology series is a radio, television, or film series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode, season, segment or short. [1] These usually have a different cast in each episode, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse , employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. [2] Some anthology series, such as Studio One , began on radio and then expanded to television. [3]



The word comes from Ancient Greek ἀνθολογία (anthología, “flower-gathering”), from ἀνθολογέω (anthologéō, "I gather flowers"), from ἄνθος (ánthos, "flower") + λέγω (légō, "I gather, pick up, collect"), coined by Meleager of Gadara circa 60 BCE, originally as Στέφανος (στέφανος (stéphanos, "garland")) to describe a collection of poetry, later retitled anthology – see Greek Anthology. Anthologiai were collections of small Greek poems and epigrams, because in Greek culture the flower symbolized the finer sentiments that only poetry can express.


Many popular old-time radio programs were anthology series. On some series, such as Inner Sanctum Mysteries , the only constant was the host, who introduced and concluded each dramatic presentation. One of the earliest such programs was The Collier Hour , broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from 1927 to 1932. [4] As radio's first major dramatic anthology, it adapted stories and serials from Collier's Weekly in a calculated move to increase subscriptions and compete with The Saturday Evening Post . Airing on the Wednesday prior to each week's distribution of the magazine, the program soon moved to Sundays in order to avoid spoilers with dramatizations of stories simultaneously appearing in the magazine. [4]


Genre series

Radio anthology series provided a format for science fiction, horror, suspense, and mystery genres (all produced in the US, unless noted):

Nelson Olmsted of NBC's Sleep No More fantasy series. Nolmsted.jpg
Nelson Olmsted of NBC's Sleep No More fantasy series.

The final episode of Suspense was broadcast on September 30, 1962, a date that has traditionally been seen as marking the end of the old-time radio era. [6] However, genre series produced since 1962 include:


In the history of television, live anthology dramas were especially popular during the Golden Age of Television of the 1950s with series such as The United States Steel Hour and The Philco Television Playhouse. [7] [8]

Dick Powell came up with an idea for an anthology series, Four Star Playhouse , with a rotation of established stars every week, four stars in all. The stars would own the studio and the program, as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had done successfully with Desilu studio. Powell had intended for the program to feature himself, Charles Boyer, Joel McCrea, and Rosalind Russell. When Russell and McCrea backed out, David Niven came on board as the third star. The fourth star was initially a guest star. CBS liked the idea, and Four Star Playhouse made its debut in fall of 1952. [2] It ran on alternate weeks only during the first season, alternating with Amos 'n' Andy . It was successful enough to be renewed and became a weekly program from the second season until the end of its run in 1956. Ida Lupino was brought on board as the de facto fourth star, though unlike Powell, Boyer, and Niven, she owned no stock in the company.

American television networks would sometimes run summer anthology series which consisted of unsold television pilots. [9] Beginning in 1971, the long-run Masterpiece Theatre drama anthology series brought British productions to American television.

In 2011, American Horror Story debuted a new type of anthology format in the U.S. Each season, rather than each episode, is a standalone story. Several actors have appeared in the various seasons, but playing different roles—in an echo of the Four Star Playhouse format. [10]

The success of American Horror Story has spawned other season-long anthologies such as American Crime Story and Feud . [11]

American drama

British drama

Canadian drama

Indian drama

Pakistani drama

Thai drama


Children and family


Crime dramas





Mystery and suspense


Science fiction and horror

Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond 19591961396-
Amazing Stories 19851987245-
American Horror Story 2011Present894-
Are You Afraid of the Dark? 19902000791-
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction 19972002445-
Black Mirror 2011Present522-
Castle Rock 20182019220-
Channel Zero 20162018424-
Chiller 1995199515-
Darknet 2013201416-
Dark Realm 20012001113-
Deadtime Stories 20122013111-
Dimension 404 2017201716-
Electric Dreams (2017 TV series) 20172018110-
Exposure 20002002242-
Fantasy Island 197719847152Includes 2 Movies
Fear and Fancy 19531953115-
Fear Itself 20082008113-
The Fearing Mind 20002000112-
Freddy's Nightmares – A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series 19881990244-
Friday the 13th: The Series 19871990371-
Ghost Stories 19971998144-
Ghost Story 1972197312223 total includes 1 Pilot
Goosebumps 19951998474-
Great Ghost Tales 19611961112-
A Haunting 2005Present10105Stopped in 2007 and returned in 2012
The Haunting 2018Present219-
Historias para no dormir 19661982329-
Infinity Train 2019Present320-
Inside No 9 2014Present425-
Into the Dark 2018Present111-
Journey to the Unknown 19681969117-
Lee Martin's The Midnight Hour20082015-
Lights Out 19461952-
Lore 20172018212-
Masters of Horror 20052007226-
Masters of Science Fiction 2007200716-
Métal Hurlant Chronicles 20122014212-
Monsters 19881991372-
Mystery and Imagination 19661970524UK series
Night Gallery 19701973343-
Night Visions 20012001113-
The Nightmare Room 20012002113-
Nightmare Cafe 1992199216-
Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King 2006200618-
Out of the Unknown 19651971449UK series
Out of This World 19621962113UK series
Out There 19511952112-
The Outer Limits 19631965249-
The Outer Limits 199520027154-
Perversions of Science 19971997110-
Play for Tomorrow 1981198116UK series-
Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected 1977197718Not to be confused with the UK series (below)
The Ray Bradbury Theater 19851992665-
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour 20102014476-
Room 104 2017Present224-
Science Fiction Theatre 19551957278-
Scream 2015Present330-
Slasher 2016Present324-
Strange Stories 19561956---
Tales from the Darkside 19841988489Plus 1 Pilot
Tales from the Crypt 19891996793-
Tales of Mystery 19611963329-
Tales of Mystery and Imagination 19951995113-
Tales of the Unexpected 197919889112UK series unconnected with the Quinn Martin series (above)
Tales of Tomorrow 19511953285-
The Terror 20182019220-
Thriller 19601962267-
Trapped 19501951---
The Twilight Zone (original series) 195919645156-
The Twilight Zone (reboot one) 19851989365-
The Twilight Zone (reboot two) 20022003143-
The Twilight Zone (reboot three) 2019Present110-
The Unexpected 19521952---
Urban Gothic 20002001222-
The Veil 19581958111-
Way Out 19611961114-
Welcome to Paradox 19981998113-


Frontier Theatre 19501950--No episodes are known to have survived.
Death Valley Days 1952197018452-
Frontier 19551956131-
Zane Grey Theater 195619615149-
Cheyenne 195719627107-
Dead Man's Gun 19971999244-


Anthology film series are rare compared to their TV and radio counterparts. There have been several attempts within the horror genre to have a franchise with an anthology format, such as with the Halloween franchise where the third film, Halloween: Season of the Witch , was meant to be the beginning of a series of anthology horror films, but due to negative reception that plan was shelved.

Drama series

Cities of Love 2006N/A5 [14]


Carry On... 1958199231Comedy series which used the same roster of comedic actors and comedians
Shinobi no Mono 196219709Composed of five unrelated stories/characters. Story 1 (films #1-3), story 2 (films #4-5, 7), story 3 (film #6), story 4 (film #8), story 5 (film #9).
The Bloodthirsty Trilogy 197019743
The Ninja Trilogy198119843Composed of Enter the Ninja , Revenge of the Ninja , and Ninja III: The Domination . [15]
Shake, Rattle & Roll 1984N/A15
Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 1987198810The series of syndicated animated television films produced by Hanna-Barbera.
Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy 200420133
Cloverfield 2008N/A3

See also

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  12. Staff, Images (2017-02-20). "PEMRA issues notice to Hum TV drama 'Kitni Girhain Baki Hain' for homosexual content". Images. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
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