Penny Dreadful is a British-American horror drama television series created for Showtime and Sky by John Logan, who also acts as executive producer alongside Sam Mendes. The show was originally pitched to several US and UK channels, and eventually landed with Showtime, with Sky Atlantic as co-producer. It premiered at the South by Southwest film festival on March 9 and began airing on television on April 28, 2014, on Showtime on Demand. The series premiered on Showtime on May 11, 2014, the first in an eight-episode season. After the third-season finale on June 19, 2016, series creator John Logan announced that Penny Dreadful had ended as the main story had reached its conclusion.
The title refers to the penny dreadfuls, a type of 19th-century British fiction publication with lurid and sensational subject matter. The series draws upon many public domain characters from 19th-century British and Irish Gothic fiction, including Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray; Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, Renfield, and Count Dracula from Bram Stoker's Dracula; Victor Frankenstein and his monster from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; and Dr. Henry Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.