As a genre that encompasses just about any kind of story that contains supernatural elements, fantasy has been well represented on television for many decades. Suspense stories, which had been popular on radio before the advent of television, made the transition to TV early on, and shows such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits brought the spooky and the uncanny to broad audiences in the 1950s and 1960s.
Programs revolving around the occult were not as prevalent in the 1970s and 80s, but science fiction, a genre closely related to fantasy, took up the slack, with American shows like Battlestar Galactica and imports such as Dr. Who keeping the fantastic on the airwaves. In the 1990s, a few fantasy-based programs, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess among them, gained sizable cult followings, setting the stage for a new fantasy invasion after the turn of the century.
The abundance of fantasy and adventure programs in the first decade of the 21st century was driven in large part by popular literature and film, as movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and Twilight became box-office blockbusters. Television schedules were suddenly full of the wizards, warriors, vampires, demons and other unnatural creatures, and the fantasy genre mingled with drama, romance, action and other genres in shows that tried to inject fantastic components into common plot formulas.
Reality television also flirted with fantasy, combining unscripted production with strange and unexplained subjects. Teams of paranormal investigators searched haunted houses for evidence of ghosts, and teams of adventurers scoured remote locales looking for legendary creatures thus far unknown to science. In the game show category, fantasy was represented by competitions in which designers and artists tried to outdo one another in creating film sets and special makeup effects.